The eighth graders are preparing to make the journey to high school. After working on persuasive essays, expository essays, and compare/contrast essays, I decided have them work on some narrative writing, specifically personal narratives. The students were to think of a memorable experience in their lives to write about. We brainstormed a variety of ideas including sad memories, proud moments, embarrassing experiences, and even exciting events. The students then had to use their five senses to describe what they could remember about their particular memory. They used literal sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings, as well as, figurative. Once they had completed their “pre-writing,” they began to draft their stories. Next, they proofread and edited their own stories. Following their own proofreading, they peer conferred with their classmates. Finally, they shared their stories with me and I gave added suggestions so they could rewrite and publish their work. Each story is unique and creative. Here are a couple of their stories:
Watching him eating warm, delicious matzo ball soup,and then watching as his heart stopped, my heart began to pound like thunder; I knew my grandpa was dying.. I could hear the phone dialing 911 and the ambulance and fire truck racing towards my house. They both arrived faster than a cheetah. Watching them lift his little frail body on the gurney was indescribable. Then, we followed as they were flying through the streets to reach the hospital, the worst part was just beginning. While pacing back and forward down the halls of the hospital, my heart beats to the clock. I saw the doctors walking towards us; I could just feel death approaching.
We waited in the hospital for almost two hours, but it felt like forever. The doctor’s exact words were, “I don’t think he’s going to make it, I’m sorry”. They cleaned him up and we were allowed to see him. When we walked in, it was freezing and so quiet you could hear a nail drop. I stayed in there for about an hour and everyone else left. I said mourners kaddish and promised him that I would graduate for him. When I got home, everyone went their own separate ways. I cried myself to sleep every night wondering how I was going to go on the next day without the man I loved the most.
My uncle came into town and we all went as a family to the funeral arrangements. Later in the week, on Wednesday, he had his funeral. His funeral looked like one of the movies; it was raining, dark, and cloudy. The hardest part that day was being one of the pallbearers and physically bringing him to his grave, but not mentally. His funeral was peaceful and you could feel the love surrounding you. The only thing that was different was it wasn’t a movie, it was real life.
Going home that afternoon was quiet. No one talked to each other, we all just went in our own rooms trying to cope. I cried myself to sleep and woke up crying. That was the highlight of my life for the past few days. The next day was his birthday, he would’ve been 80. That night we ate his favorite food and sang happy birthday.
So, rest in peace to the man I loved the most. A wonderful father, grandfather, great grandfather, and overall a wonderful, loving person.
The Time I Broke My Arm
A regular sunny day in Jacksonville, Florida, turned into a terrible day for one person, and that one person was me. It started out as a normal day, but I could feel that something in the air was going to happen. I woke up and ate breakfast, which was the old soggy waffles from the freezer that I ate every morning. My brother had convinced me the day before to go face first on a skateboard down the driveway. However, at the time I didn’t know this would be one of the worst decisions of my life.
After I ate breakfast, my brother and I decided to go out to the driveway. At first we played basketball, but that wasn’t very fun; because he was like a giant compared to me. Then it came time for me to go down the driveway headfirst on a skateboard. I could feel my heartbeat, which was as fast as a speeding bullet, going through my body. I could hear the little voice in my head telling me not do it, but I refused to listen to it. I could taste the fear that was building up inside of me. All of my senses told me not to do it, but in a boneheaded mistake I decided to go down my driveway on the skateboard.
At first I was extremely scared, but then after a few minutes, which felt like an hour, I was excited for the adventure. I walked up the driveway with my skateboard, which felt like a walk up a mountain, because of the anticipation in my body. When I got to the top of the driveway, I looked down and it looked like a curvy road on the side of a mountain. The next thing I did was lay down face first on the skateboard. Then my brother gave me a shove and I was off down the driveway like a speeding bullet. I could feel the wind going past me, I felt like I was flying. I could see the ground moving past me like I was in a speeding car. Then right in front of me I saw a bump in the driveway, and I panicked. I tried to swing around the bump, but the right side of my board hit the bump hard; it sent me flying in the air. I hit the ground hard on my left arm. The first thing I felt was excruciating pain in my left arm. I then decided to go in inside and tell my mom what happened. She said that I probably just scraped my arm, and I didn’t believe her because I had never felt so much pain in my life. After a couple hours, my arm still hurt, so my mom took me to get an xray.
After the x-ray was over it felt like an eternity before the doctor returned and told my mother and I that I had broken my arm. I then had to spend six long weeks in a cast. From those events, I learned that every action has a consequence. I learned this the hard way, and I will always remember to think what might happen before I do something.
It all started with the one and only strive to be the best I could be. I remember it pretty well; it was the beginning of the school year and my class was just walking back to school from breakfast after minyan. One of my classmates had asked me where I was going to high school. I thought about it for a while and came to the conclusion that I probably wouldn’t go anywhere special and would just go to my neighborhood school. Little did I know, that is far from what happened.
As the high school thing started to come up more my great principal, Edith, suggested I go to a music school for piano. Once that was said to me, my head was just exploding with thoughts about doing this. I had thought to myself oh am I not good enough, or do I really love playing the piano enough to go to school for it; most of all if I got in to the school, if I was making the right decision. That last thing killed me the most, and still to this day only being about two weeks from graduating middle school, I am still yet to know if I made the right choice.
So, before I was going to devote hard hours into getting in off a tryou,t I thought about it an unimaginable amount. After thinking things over I finally said, “Why not, I’ll tryout and see what happens.” The reason I had the attitude towards this like it was no big deal is because it was important, but really wasn’t a big deal to me. This was because, unlike most other kids, it was not my long life dream to get into this school; but I think it would be cool if I did.
I always try to live by the quote of “go big or go home.” Having known that this specific music and arts school named “Douglas Anderson School of the Arts” is one of the best in the country I knew I had to give it my all. I felt that if I didn’t try my hardest there’d be no reason to try at all.
From that point it was time to get to work! I put in countless hours into practicing scales, songs and everything else till it was perfect. To be specific, over about a half of a year I worked on a classical Bach piece, a modern piece, and about 24 scales in major and minor. Over time like most people would I had a lot of doubt if I could really do it, especially with the competition of truly gifted people.
Throughout the process of practicing I talked to many people from the school and also toured it. At first I wasn’t so found of the building but after a while I can tell it would deathly grow on me. Also, I have not once ever heard bad things about the school so that just gave me another reason to go for it.
Time flew by and it was time for the tryout. I actually remember the day of the tryout very well because I had a school basketball game that took place during it. I remember being really upset because I couldn’t play one, because of the tryout and two, because I currently had a very bad ankle injury from the past season. All was okay and I moved on and focused on music.
I finally got there and my senses were sporadic, it hit me straight in the face the thrill of so many people in one room having the same thoughts as me! The only thing that was even somewhat abnormal to me is that at the time especially in a situation like this I didn’t feel nervous at all. I just knew I had to focus and get done what had to be done.
It was time! The head principal stood up and spoke and called all of the piano majors to the front of the room. She told us all of what we had to do and then we were off! We were escorted out and into a classroom with a whole bunch of pianos to practice on. There was no order of people to try out; we just came up as we wanted. It was actually kind of funny, I was one of the first people to say I wanted to go only because I didn’t want to be there all night.
I did my audition and I thought it went pretty well. Obviously, I messed up a couple of times but nothing major. I really didn’t know what to think after that because I didn’t know the judges, the kids, or the exact skill level they were looking for.
So then I waited. Due to the help of my math teacher I was able to get an early notice of whether my application and try out was accepted or not. I found out just two days after that I made it. Before knowing for sure that I got into the school I was so indecisive of where I was going to go even if I was accepted. From that moment of actually knowing what it felt like to be excepted, I chose to go to that school.
It’s interesting how I thought that if I got accepted into the school before I knew I probably wouldn’t pick. It’s now obvious to me that your mind plays tricks on you. Once I was actually accepted I had no of the stuff in the world other than to go to that school.
I will be honest in saying that I am scared. Not only because I’m coming from some small private school into a big public high school; but also because of the kind of school it is. Even more so going to an arts school I have absolutely no clue what to expect. What ever happens I should try to except it and move on.
I came to realize in an environment that is always changing, plans are so overrated. By the time something has changed a plan is outdated. The most important thing to do is to focus on executing what needs to be done. That is exactly what I did and will continue to do.