Monday, September 24, 2007

Post 1

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Final Posting

Congratulations. You have been a part of the first ever online mentoring initiative at Thurston High School. For your final posting, you are to write a letter to your mentor in which you do the following (Each item should be a paragraph):

1) Tell them what you gained from the mentoring program.
2) Tell them what your plans are for the summer
3) Tell them how you feel about your junior year.
4) Tell them what you plan to do next school year to prepare for college/trade school/work.
5) Whatever else you feel like saying
6) Thank them for corresponding with you.

***Note: for those of you whose mentors have not been responding, write the letter to Mr. Hughes***

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Posting # 5 - What Can I Do to Get What I Want?

"A goal without a plan is a dream."

This might be the most important marking period of your academic career. Many of you will be applying to colleges or trade schools this summer, and your performance in the second semester of your junior year will determine whether you are admitted to the school of your choice.

For today's posting, you are to choose 5 things that you plan to do this marking period to improve your chances of success after high school. If you have no plans for college or trade school, think about what you can do this semester to prepare for the workforce, the military, or whatever else you might want to do after high school. You do not have to know for sure what you want to do in order to complete this assignment.

1. Write in letter form, to your mentor.

2. One paragraph for each "thing."

3. Ask your mentor at least three questions (What did they do their junior year,
What advice do they have to accomplish your goals, etc)

4. Check the comment tab on your blog and respond to any comments they've posted to
you--put this in the beginning of the posting.

This posting is due at the end of the hour today (3/28)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mentor Posting #4

Senseless, seemingly unprovoked violence is a central issue in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. Unfortunately, senseless violence is also a part of every day life. You need only to watch the news or read the newspaper to know that. Yesterday's incident in west Detroit, outlined in the following article is the latest in a series of cases in metro Detroit. The Detroit police chief said in a related article that the incident was is part of an "explosion of violence"

Drugs, cash and 2 dead kids
Police: 5 dealers kidnapped cousin to get in Detroit home
February 27, 2007



They knew the two boys in the house on Detroit's west side wouldn't open the door for just anybody. So they kidnapped one of the boys' adult cousins to get them in.

And when the boys saw him at the front door, they unlocked and opened it -- and unwittingly let five drug dealers push their way inside the house.


That's how police sources Monday described the scene leading up to Friday night's shootings of 11-year-old Darren Johnson and 13-year-old Orlando Herron, two cousins authorities identified as drug runners. Both were shot in the head at close range.

Orlando was shot multiple times; Darren, less than two hours shy of his 12th birthday when he was killed, was shot once.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the motive for the shootings -- a crime that led her to authorize charges against five people Monday -- appears to be drugs and money.

"Two children were killed by being shot in the head," Worthy said in a statement. "The enormity of this senseless crime is incomprehensible."

Police, meanwhile, say they are trying to find out what led the shooters to the home on Mansfield, though the stories -- gleaned through interviews with witnesses -- center on money the alleged intruders believed they were entitled to.

Sources close to the investigation said one version has the five suspects pushing their way into the home, where they bound and gagged the kidnapped 23-year-old cousin, whom police allege also is a drug dealer.

Once inside, investigators said, the intruders began screaming, "Where's the money?"

Then they ransacked the home and shot the boys to show their ruthless determination to find what they were looking for.

It was unclear what money the intruders may have been after. But police also are investigating a claim suggesting the boys may have stolen money from a drug dealer and been killed in retaliation.

"Everybody's pointing the finger at everybody else," one police official said.

The 23-year-old man was shot in the leg, arm and torso and left for dead, authorities said. He survived and remains in serious condition at a Detroit-area hospital, which police declined to name to protect him. His name is not being released.

Three other people in the house -- two juveniles and one adult -- also were assaulted, police said.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office authorized charges against Sonya O'Neal, 38; Torrisandois Lyons, 42; Deandre Witherspoon, 23; Robert Reed, 36, and Charles Moore, 38.

All have Detroit residences, and each faces two counts of first-degree murder, kidnapping, two counts of assault with intent to rob, assault with intent to murder, two counts of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit felony murder and using a firearm to commit a felony.

Each also is charged as a habitual offender.

Lyons, who turned himself in Saturday night after Detroit police released his name and photograph to the news media, served seven years on drug charges for a 1986 conviction, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections. He later served about 2 1/2 years for having, or attempting to sell, a Taser.

O'Neal served eight months in prison on a 2003 drug charge. She also served two years in federal prison on a cocaine distribution conviction. Federal court documents indicate she had been investigated by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in 1996.

Police said they seized nine weapons and $40,000 in cash from her home on Orleans.

Worthy commended Detroit police for "their round-the-clock work to find the people who committed these vicious acts."

Officials said both boys were dealing drugs, but neither has a criminal record.

A man who identified himself as Darren's father, also named Darren Johnson, hung up Monday when reached by the Free Press. His last known address on the city's west side was empty and for sale. Calls to members of Orlando's family were not returned.

Residents on Mansfield, where yellow police tape was still stretched across several lawns Monday afternoon, said they didn't know who lived in the house across the street from Gardner Elementary School. All declined to give their names for fear of retaliation.

However, all agreed that the neighborhood, which once was modest but safe, has turned violent in recent years.

One 43-year-old man said his car had been broken into twice. Another said his home had been shot up in a drive-by. Most residents keep dogs and firearms for protection and rarely open their doors for strangers, they said.

For-sale signs dot the run-down street, but, as one resident said, "Who would buy a house here? I'm stuck. I want to move, but I'm stuck."

Contact BEN SCHMITT at 313-223-4296 or Contact AMBER HUNT at 313-222-2708 or Staff writer Jack Kresnak contributed to this report.

In posting #4 you will be reflecting on the issue of senseless violence, focusing specifically on the following questions. This posting should be AT LEAST 5 paragraphs.

1) What drives people to commit violent acts? Is it their upbringing or is it part of their nature?

2) What is your reaction to the incident with the two young boys in West Detroit? How did it make you feel?

3) What messages are sent about violence in the popular popular media today? (music, film television, video games, books, etc) and what are the effects on people, especially children?

4) What responsibilities do parents have to protect their kids from being either a victim or a perpetrator of violent acts?

5) Ask your mentor what he/she thinks about the issue, and of course respond to whatever comments they've made on previous posts

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Gatsby Quote Assignment (15 Points)

In addition to responding to your mentor's most recent comments, in a separate post you will be analyzing quotes from The Great Gatsby in order to better understand the characters and to begin preparing for the test, which will have a large section in which you'll identify quotes.

Directions: For each of the following characters: Gatsby, Nick, Daisy, Jordan, Tom, Myrtle, and George:

  1. Search the novel and copy down 2 quotes from or about each character

  2. Include the Chapter and page #

  3. Explain the significance of the quote in 2-3 sentences

  4. Post the answers in your blog

  5. Title the post: "Gatsby Quote Assignment"

  6. Click "publish"


Daisy (speaking): I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope she'll be a fool--that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool" (Chapter 1, p.21).

Significance: This quote is significant because it shows Daisy's attitude toward being a woman. Being verbally (and perhaps physically) abused herself and basically dominated by Tom, she is saying that she hopes her daughter is too dumb to realize what a miserable life it can be for a woman. At this point in the book we are not sure if she is being sarcastis.

If you finish early and you did not complete last week's post, do that next!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Posting #3: The American Dream

Hello English 11 Student-

This posting is worth 15 Points!!!

From here on out assignments for your blog postings will be right here, so mark it in your favorites!

Your assignment for to day is to reflect on one of the major themes of The Great Gatsby: The American Dream. We find in Chapter 4 that Jay Gatsby, who grew up poor, moved to Long Island to pursue the love of his life, becoming filthy rich (although we're not sure how yet) and famous along the way. We'll find out for sure by the end of the book, but Gatsby seems to be an example of someone who overcomes great odds to achieve his dream.

The question that you'll be answering in your posting to you mentor will be, Does the American Dream really exist? Is it really possible for everyone to achieve their wildest dreams, as long as they are dedicated, focused, and hard working? So, here is your assignment:

1. Read the following article:

Myth of American dream is misleading

Salt Lake City (U-WIRE) -- There is a philosophy that influences the careers of nearly all students in some way. It appears to be freeing, but really only restrains our opportunities. This deceptive culprit is the American dream.

Of course, not everyone shares the goal of experiencing the American dream. But all too often, college students and the working class in the United States buy into this myth that is often called the most glorious and wonderful part of this country.

When a person comes from a poor, working-class background and manages to "rise" through hard work and determination to a wealthy, upper-class position in society, this person is said to have accomplished the American dream.

It has been said that people must "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps" in order to fulfill this dream. Ironically, if one were to pull oneself somewhere by one's bootstraps, that person would only end up planting his or her face in the dirt.

The standard route to the American dream has changed throughout the century. From the turn of the century until the late 1960s, education was not seen as a pragmatic step in the path of the American dream. But today, almost no high-paying jobs are available without a college degree; in many fields a graduate degree is necessary.

College is seen as the standard pass to the American-dream amusement park. Sadly, most college students are not in school to expand their minds, but to increase their income potential. Most of these students will be sorely disappointed if this is their goal.

American students need to examine the values esteemed by the American dream. What is being valued when people idealize those who work hard and become rich? Is it the hard work or the wealth Americans idealize?

Do Americans idealize those who work tirelessly with little reward? How many admire a man or woman who spends 20 years without complaint cleaning hotel rooms for minimum wage? Do Americans admire the "entrepreneur" who works persistently on his or her project, only to end up in debt? If hard work is valuable to the American public in and of itself, then admiring hard workers, whether they are financially successful or otherwise, is the logical consequence.

Obviously, this is not the case.

The underlying message of the American dream, therefore, is if you are not wealthy, you are a failure. Wealth equals significance and legitimacy.

If a University of Utah economics professor were to hold a public lecture in Salt Lake City discussing his or her views on the state of Utah's economy, how many people would show up? How many people and members of the press would show if millionaire Larry H. Miller were to give such a speech?

Not only does the American dream foster a poor value system, but the whole concept is built on the myth of easily accessible social mobility. Many Americans enjoy repeating the cliché that "this is the land of opportunity."

Whose opportunity?

America offers no more social mobility than most other industrialized nations. Certainly, Western European nations can argue they offer greater opportunity for an individual to improve their wealth considering that almost every nation has free education, even at the highest level.

The American dream, however, was always a useful and manipulative myth used to enforce the status quo. Unfortunately, the ability to "rise above" one's economic background is becoming even more difficult, making the American dream myth even more destructive.

For those of us who manage to graduate, there will be significantly fewer job opportunities than there were 20 years ago, especially in the humanities fields. Many will graduate expecting to find a high-paying job at the end of the arduous college trail, but that job will not be there.

If the American dream is such a realistic and viable option, why do so few actually fulfill the dream? The media loves to cover the one-in-a-million individual who came from a poor family and, through hard work, built a multimillion-dollar company.

Why doesn't the media cover the not-so-inspiring stories of millions of individuals who come from poor backgrounds and never escape poverty? Certainly, one can understand why not. Can you imagine the reaction if they did?

"Ten years ago, John Anderson was living in a run-down apartment on the south side of Chicago. Through hard work and creativity, Mr. Anderson managed to keep his run-down apartment and boost his wage 50 cents an hour; now to a similar story in Los Angeles."

For some reason, I think this would not gather the same ratings as the "rags to riches" Horatio Algier stories.

College students should not buy into this American myth. Of course, ideally, students would not attend college simply to increase their income potential; but there is nothing wrong with desiring a comfortable life. However, students should want to do more with their lives and careers than simply collect a sizable paycheck.

Bertrand Russell once said, "Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education." People are taught to be stupid, and taught to value stupid things by their cultures, schools and families. The desire to be wealthy, instead of the desire to be a good person and to accomplish something with your life, is a stupid value.

We should ask ourselves what our reward will be if we buy into the American dream and actually are one of the lucky few who manage to attain it. Who will we have to step on in order to climb up the corporate ladder? What kind of people will we be once we are "there"?

One of the biggest hindrances to progress in America is that Americans place far too much emphasis on wealth and consumption as the markers of success and have very little concern for their fellow men and women. Students get so caught up in the routine of competition and consumption they forget the connections they have to others around them.

You might think college students are in a dramatically different position from the average minimum-wage earner and those stuck in poverty. They are not. The market forces that make the American dream nearly impossible to realize for members of the working class are the same forces that will make the American dream unattainable for many college students.

Instead of pulling on your metaphorical bootstraps until you put your face and your morals in the dirt, just tie up your boots and walk somewhere else. As Blaise Pascal said, "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from mistaken conviction."

Duncan Moench's column originally appeared in Friday's University of Utah paper, the Daily Utah Chronicle.

2. Go to your blog, click on "New Post," and write a letter in the following format:

Paragraph 1: "Dear...", response to comments your mentor has posted.

Paragraph 2: Give a brief summary of The Great Gatsby so far and a brief summary of the article.

Paragraph 3: Give your definition of "The American Dream" and how you plan to achieve yours.

Paragraph 4: Make an argument about whether you think the American Dream is a myth, and give support for why or why not.

Paragraph 5: Ask your mentor if they think it's a myth,why/why not, and any other questions you'd like to ask.

Paragraph 6: Thank them for their time.

3. If you have time, insert a picture of what represents the American Dream to you.

You should be able so see my example at the top.