Saturday, November 16, 2019

Writing Practice:Satire

by Taya Taylor, Twelfth Grade

Ah, physical education—everyone's favorite school subject. The month of November is a particularly terrific time for PE because we get the wonderful opportunity to run in 48 degree temperatures. Everyone knows that exercise is good for you but exercising in the cold is especially excellent for calorie burning because of the minuscule motion of muscles that is known as 'shivering'. Some may complain about the cold, but cold is just a figment of their imagination. As we are told in our physical science textbooks, cold is really just a lack of heat, energy transferred due to temperature difference. You'd be shivering from heat, not cold, Silly. Some may argue that exposure to low temperatures can cause illness. If you clothe yourself properly in your Oak Hill Christian School PE Uniform Shirt ™ and Oak Hill Christian School PE Uniform Sweatpants ™, which are equipped with heating properties that will keep your body temperature stable at 37 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit), and wrap your entire body in hats, earmuffs, scarves, gloves, jackets, coats, socks, boots, and blankets—all labeled with the OHCS logo of course—then you'll be good to go! "Baby, it's cold outside." Only if you acknowledge it! 

If all else fails, you can simply hypnotize yourself so you believe it's 80 degrees outside instead of 48. Or grab your weird hypnotist neighbor, give him a wad of cash, since it's the only way you can get him to associate with humans, and you're all set. It may take a bit of effort, but, like we said before, PE is EVERYONE'S. FAVORITE. SUBJECT. So it'll all be worth it in the end. Happy running!
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The Cat Who Whacked Gnats- A Poem

A Poem by Christine Conaghan, Seventh Grade

There once was a cat
Who liked to whack gnats
So she whacked all the gnats away.
Then one day a gnat
Flew around the small cat
But the cat simply walked away.

The gnat filled with relief
And the cat laughed with disbelief
That the gnat really thought he could stay.
So the cat snuck back around
And made not a sound
Then whacked the gnat on his way.
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Sunday, November 10, 2019

A Memorable Experience

by Elijah Pointer, Grade 12

One of my most memorable experiences would be the night of and following day before my junior thesis presentation. That was unquestionably one of the most foundation-shaking and nerve-wracking experiences of my life.

My thesis itself was complete; I was just staying up to finish my PowerPoint presentation and memorize what I was going to say the next day. My eyes were struggling to stay open and my hands began to cramp, but I had to work fast because my iPad times out at midnight. My parents were already asleep, so I would not be able to ask for their help to unlock it by then. I was only about 75% done with the PowerPoint when, BOOP! My iPad finally blinked out.

Time froze as my head and heart immediately began racing with anxiety. There was absolutely nothing I could do at that point. Even if I managed to finish the PowerPoint tomorrow before I had my presentation, there was absolutely no way I could familiarize myself with it to account for my speech impediment and practice the correct intonation and speed for every word.

In a moment of sheer panic and desperation, I foolishly decided to pull off my first all-nighter on the night of the biggest presentation I had ever done until that point! I decided to at least try to finish it on a piece of paper to make copying it onto my iPad tomorrow morning a little easier. While that did eventually help me get the PowerPoint done later, it blinded me to the bigger picture.

For someone who could never successfully pull off an all-nighter even at a sleepover with friends, video games, and endless caffeine, I managed to stay awake fairly well. My fear for tomorrow - or rather today, just many hours away -  would keep a stabbing pain in my stomach and a tremoring in my chest which easily surpassed the potency of caffeine and fun. For the moment, however, I felt fine. My eyes were starting to get increasingly droopy, but thanks to my anxiety, I did not have to fight very hard to stay awake.

Hours of nervous working passed. Imagine being so tired that you were rendered incapable of forming a single coherent thought whatsoever. But instead of sleeping, which would normally follow such a lack of concentration late at night or early in the morning, your blood was racing, keeping you in a state of perpetual fuzziness and being unable to shake or sleep it off. That is what I began experiencing at roughly 3 a.m. My head was so light, I could have fallen out of my chair, knocked out in an instant if I was not petrified by my upcoming presentation. Instead, I was forced to sit up, slowly realizing that I would be unable to accomplish the one thing I stayed up to do.

At around 4 a.m., the effects became worse. My worries relentlessly chilled me, and despite the excessive shaking, I felt I could never stay warm. I considered trying to get at least 2-3 hours of sleep, but my ever-dwindling rationale reasoned that such an attempt would be rendered futile by my fear. I might as well just stay up and continue trying to “focus.” In a such a sleep-deprived state, I never questioned whether I was overlooking something more important than my own plans.

It was now 6:30 a.m., and the rest of my family began waking up. If a fuzzy mind combined with the possibility of a worsened stutter did not make the situation bad enough, a genuine stupidity started to settle in. I was so tired that I actually presumed my speech impediment would be improved because my now lethargic thinking would match my already sluggish tongue. “Everything turned out ok after all.” I began to think. “Hey, I’m not even that nervous anymore. The pain and shaking are finally gone. Maybe staying up late is the key to always being more relaxed.” If nearly collapsing from fatigue several times as I readied for school qualifies as “relaxed,” then I was golden.

The penultimate effect of my foolish decision took place the moment I left my chair and stood for the first time since I had determined to stay up all night. I had felt tired and sleepy until that point, but just then, I immediately received a feeling of thorough exhaustion which lasted throughout the rest of my day. “This is not good.” I began telling myself. My deliriousness responded: “It is ok. It will all help with your stuttering.” I believed him, and so I went about my day fighting back fatigue with caffeine. “It will all be over soon.”

I nearly fell asleep in class twice, I had to walk around, and I often talked with myself to stay up until 3 p.m., the time I had to give my thesis. I asked Mr. Sabin if I could skip PE that day to practice my speech. He kindly assented, and I walked into the gym, finished my PowerPoint, and began to practice the various intonations and speeds of my voice to help manage my stuttering. I was nailing it effortlessly. I could say nearly everything without the slightest hesitation. “Maybe my sleepiness will actually help me after all.” I thought I was all set. However, the slowly resurfacing pain in my stomach combined the sudden onset of constant quakes and jitters from the caffeine and anxiety alluded to a different outcome.

The time arrived. As I stoop up to present my speech, I hesitated for what could not have been more than a few seconds, but what felt like an eternity. Something was not right. No. Nothing was right! “What was I thinking?” I said as I suddenly snapped back to sanity, but I could not turn back now. I began speaking and the final effect of my folly took place... I stumbled on every single syllable. The sound pierced my ears. “How could I be stuttering? I was saying it just fine a moment ago. Why is this happening?”

When I stutter normally, it is on roughly every 4-6 words with 2-4 repeats of only the first syllable. All of the factors previously mentioned rose those numbers to the point where I eventually stuttered 3-5 times on basically every syllable of every word. When I practiced without much stuttering, my speech landed at around 8 minutes. That time was easy doubled and surpassed by the end of my actual presentation. The past 18-something hours that I spent working to make sure this didn’t happen were completely wasted. I put up with a complete lack of sleep, extreme fatigue in mind and body, and unimaginable anxiety to see a year’s worth of work fall apart as it left my tongue.

To those who do not have a speech impediment such as a stutter, you may think I am making big deal about nothing. I still got a great grade and everyone was very supportive of my efforts afterwards. But to me, delivering the thesis was not about getting a good grade; it was about confidently showing everyone that I put a lot of hard work into something I love.

How can one show he is confident in his work if he is constantly trembling - if his abdomen is involuntarily tensing up in a futile attempt to “help” dictate air flow through his lips? How can one show he is prepared and has worked hard if he must always stop and pause in his speech - if he has to change the words around in his head to reduce the staccato sound, inadvertently adding to it on occasion. How can one show he loves something if he is unable use expression - if now he is too busy focusing on the words just being able to come out rather than how they come out?

By these standards, I had failed myself in every way possible. The only thing preventing the venting of my frustration was the fact that everyone was so supportive. I do not doubt for a second that every person who spoke kindly to me had the best intentions. I knew they were trying to be encouraging. However, at the time, every compliment merely served as salt in my self-inflicted wound.

I told myself that it was over. There was nothing I could do anymore - all my effort, utterly wasted. I wrestled with internal frustration initially directed at myself for being unable to control my speech. Then I dared to angrily direct it at God and attribute to Him the fault of giving me my speech impediment in the first place. That was my final mistake. I simply could not learn the lesson on my own, so God decided He would teach me personally.

Within that 18 hour period, my mind was swept away in feelings of fear and filled with false assumptions leading to physical and spiritual anguish. I had based my success on how well I controlled something that never was and ultimately will forever be out of my hands. Through my self-reliance, I indirectly told God to His face “I do not need you. I’ll handle this on my own.” And so, He let me handle it - on my own.

I made poor choices, but still, His mercy never let me pay the full price. His grace was shown in my grade and through those who spoke with me afterwards, but I still felt like I failed. In the end, I did. Not because I fell short of my expectations, but because I set my will above His that night, and when it did not work out the way I wanted, I crawled back to Him with a pointed finger, arrogantly demanding the Righteous Judge for justice. I simplemindedly questioned His authority to give me such a thorn as stuttering. I hated it with every fiber of my being and would have given anything to speak normally, but it would never leave me. Why did I need such a constant and painful reminder that all my hard work to fight against it could be undone in an instant? I wanted an answer, so God kindly took that hand raised against Him and gently led it to my Bible - not in a crazy-magic-finger-moving way, but in a soft whisper to my heart that eventually led me to this passage:

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this [thorn], that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”‬ (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)

It was in that moment that I finally understood. While I sat at my desk drifting between consciousness and failing to accomplish my own plan, I was completely oblivious to God successful putting the pieces of His plan together to deliver the final fatal blow to my pride that I unknowingly needed. He gave me my speech impediment so that I would realize I was focusing on the wrong thing. I should not have been giving my thesis to satisfy my standards, I should have been giving it to show others how God gives strength to the weak - to show how even though I was terrified out of my mind, I went through with it to give the glory to God, not myself.

My stuttering was meant to draw me towards
Him - to make my stubborn heart realize that I cannot do anything on my own. I had been seeing my speech impediment as something I needed to overcome, but now I see it as something I need to embrace. I still get flustered and frustrated by my stuttering from time to time, but it constantly reminds me how much I need to rely on God and how much more, through one as inarticulate as I, His light can shine.
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Monday, October 21, 2019

Description Writing Practice

by Carey Hsu, Sixth Grade

An old piano sits solemnly in a cheery room full of children. Its keys, worn smooth by years of use, gleam in the dim, flickering lights. Its pedals, though rusted, still display its golden luster. How beautifully the piano plays as it stands tall though old and weathered. People come, and people go, each not seeing its worth. In a classroom full of children, no one ever plays the pearly white keys. No one ever steps on the golden pedals. No one ever seems to have a use for it. Nevertheless, the unused instrument sits in silence, never in despair only patience. The old piano sits, all alone, alone, alone, while the room fills with children, while the room empties out. But footsteps break the numbing silence. A child walks up and steps on the pedals and plays the pearly keys, showing it the love it has not felt for years.
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Comparison Essay: Victor Frankenstein as a Creator

by Kristi Yu, 10th Grade

In the novel Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein creates a human-like monster.  This begs the question of how Victor’s creation differs from God's creation of man.  First, Victor created his monster out of pre-existing materials whereas God created all things, including man, “ex nihilo” - out of nothing.  Immediately after the monster awakens, Victor is horrified by what he has made, describing the creature as “detested” (chap. 10, pg. 125) and “abhorred” (chap. 10, pg. 123).  God, on the other hand, looks upon man and calls that particular creation “very good” (Gen. 1:31), setting humanity apart from the rest of creation which God deems “good.” Third, Victor’s disgust at his creation causes him to abandon the monster, leaving it to fend for itself without any protection or provision.  Chapter 11 details the monster’s struggle to obtain the basic necessities of life such as shelter, food, and companionship. In contrast, God provides and cares for Adam, giving him a place to live (Gen. 2:8), food to eat (Gen. 1:29, 2:9a, 16), a companion (Gen. 2:18), a purpose (Gen. 1:28), and even laws for his own safety (Gen. 2:17).  God’s love for His people is most poignantly displayed in Jesus’ sacrifice despite mankind’s blatant rejection of his Creator. (Romans 5:8) In Victor’s case, it was Victor who rejected his own creation.

Another point of comparison is that while Victor created a monster that was more powerful than himself, God created beings inferior to himself.  The eight-foot-tall monster acknowledges this in chapter 10: “Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself; my height is superior to thine, my joints more supple.” (chap. 10, pg. 124)  God, however, being the creator of the universe, is fully transcendent over all of creation, including humans. Clearly, the measly might of man pales in comparison to the power of the omnipotent God.

Finally, an important distinction between Victor and God is the difference in their motives.  Victor acts out of selfish ambition, desiring the praise and worship of his creation. “A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me.  No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs.” (chap. 5, pg. 65) While the Bible does not explicitly reveal God’s motives for creating humanity, John 17:26 says, “I [Jesus] have made you [God the Father] known to them [believers], and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”  From this passage, it can be reasonably inferred that God chose to create humanity out of a desire to increase the reach of His love. While Victor acted out of pride, God created for the increase of His perfect love.

In conclusion, Victor used things already in existence to create a monster who was stronger than himself, so that he might indulge his selfish pride.  In stark contrast, God, the omnipotent Maker of all things, created man out of nothing. Though man is far inferior to His creator, God desires to know man and for man to know Him and experience His perfect love.  Whereas Victor so abhorred his creature that he even tried to destroy it, God so loved and cared for His people that he was even willing to die on their behalf.
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