Freshman Year of English Completed Already

June 5, 2011
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“Conformity” means to not stray from social expectations, while “deviance” means to stray from social expectations. Depending on your point of view either can have positive or negative results.

Two novels, Stargirl and Fahrenheit 451 are books about what can happen if we attempt to uniform equality and the character’s realization of the truth, his attempt to change his world and the characters that help him do it.

The characters from the novels Fahrenheit 451 and Stargirl are alike in many ways. For example, Archie from Stargirl is similar to Faber from F451 because they are both older guys who help someone in their book. Archie helps Leo, the main character in Stargirl, understand things better. An example of this is when Archie helps Leo accept Stargirl when he tells him “Star people are rare. You’ll be lucky to meet another” (Spinelli, pg. 177). In F451, Faber helps Montag, who was once a fireman, save books after Montag realizes that burning books is wrong. Another comparison is between Montag and Leo. Both had conformed to a way that their society expected. However, after meeting someone new to the area, they questioned why they were doing things. In the end they believed that straying from social expectations sometimes changes things for the better.

I think that Stargirl believes people should accept themselves for who they are. She also believes people should live life the best they can. She shows Leo examples of this when she does not conform to the ways of the kids in her new school. She continues to dress in her unique style and she continues to participate in the things she enjoys doing. Leo is quoted as saying to Stargirl “Look at you. It’s Saturday. I’ve been with you all day, and you spent the whole day doing stuff for other people” (Spinelli, pg. 124). Leo also realizes this as he watches her play her ukulele at lunch, when she wears her long dresses with flower prints and sandals and does not care if people think she is a free spirited hippie. Stargirl really makes Leo thinks when she asks him “Don’t you like different”(Spinelli, pg. 124)?

Faber listed three things that we get from books: They have quality; they give us leisure time and time to think; and they give us the knowledge and sometimes the courage to take action in something. But books give different things to different people.
I believe I have been brought up to have a strong character. Reading books strengthens these values and morals. Sometimes when I read certain books I learn a lesson that may help me in my future life. Some of the major lessons re-emphasized this year were not to judge people and be you. Also, I learned not to stereotype and not to let technology take over my life. Reading books make me re-think my values and morals more. They also help me understand how difficult being a responsible person and making the right decision can be. Faber is correct when he says “It’s not books you need, it’s some of the things that were once in books”(Bradbury, F451).
I believe Faber has the same values as Stargirl. Both think they should do what they believe in which will help them achieve victory in the end. One difference is Stargirl is not afraid to express herself openly in front of her peers. Faber knows what is being done is wrong, and he wants to change it, but is afraid to openly act differently.

Fictional characters, like the ones in To Kill A Mockingbird, made me think more about judging people. They also helped me realize there is more to a person then just what they look like. An example in To Kill A Mockingbird was when an innocent man, Tom Robinson, was accused of, prosecuted and executed for raping a white woman just because he was black.

One lesson learned from these novels is that when people do not conform, or are deviant, although you may be doing what is right or what you truly believe in, it still may have negative consequences. We must realize that the right choice may not be the easy choice.

Reflection #1

For my first writing sample I chose my Stargirl and Fahrenheit 451 essay, titled Conformity vs. Deviance. I consider this piece to be one of my best even though it needed some improvements. My goal is to try and make it as close to perfect as possible.
I believe the changes I made will improve the quality of the piece. I fixed a grammar mistake, which helped the way the sentence read. I also cut a paragraph and brought it to a different section in the paper, which makes it more fluid. This correction helps my two paragraphs flow together better than they did originally and helps so my readers may have a better understanding of my work.
Another correction I made was to include in-text citations. This was done because I included direct quotes, from the book, in my essay. This will allow people to go to a certain section in the book to read more about that part. This makes it a lot easier than trying to skim read a whole book just to find the quote.
I believe my piece, Conformity vs. Deviance, is one of my best pieces that I wrote this year. I put a lot of time and effort into this paper to exceed the requirements of the rubric. One way was by giving it unique qualities such as the title. I focused on my vocabulary, ideas, and writing skills. I tried to create an independent conclusion based on all the information in the book.
When comparing characters in books, it makes you think a little more about the actual story or point the writer is trying to make. It helps you identify more with the characters and the writers. I liked this assignment because it helped my realize that even though I may do what is right or what I believe in, it still may have negative consequences. I now realize that doing what is right may not always be the easy choice.

Thirteen Ways Of Looking At Streams

Among the thousands across the land,
The only moving thing,
Was the force of the stream.

The stream giving my reflection
As I look into its wavy top.

It rushes faster and slower
At unpredictable times,
Rushing differently every time I look.

Taking away the heat,
On a hot summers day.
Splashing around and having fun.

A natural water source for
Nature to come to drink.

Flowing naturally through land
At random places.
Always finding a new one.

A place to hangout.
Skipping rocks across the
Glassy top.

A place that washes away all the bad.
Sending it down stream to a different location.

It rises and lowers
As time continues.

Sitting and listening
To the sound
Of the flowing water.

Always flowing and
Never taking a break unlike humans.

Nothing more interesting
And alive in nature.

Always another
To be formed and found.

Reflection #2

For my second writing reflection I chose my poem entitled Thirteen Ways Of Looking At Streams. I like this poem. I think it explains how I look at nature and appreciate it.
I don’t know much about writing poetry so this poem may be difficult for some to relate too or under stand. It does not contain metaphors, similes, or symbols. It does not rhyme. I did try to make it more visual by using descriptive words such as “wavy top”, “splashing around”, and “glassy top”. I think many times people really don’t understand poetry and they may find it obscure. This is why I tried to write a poem that did not need to be analyzed as to what I was saying. Personally I like poetry that is earthy, direct, and that does not rhyme.
After reviewing my poem, I noticed some areas, that if changes were made, it would improve the quality of my poem. Some of the changes I made were fixing grammar and spelling errors. I also revised sentences, hoping to give it more tone. I think a good example of this is when I write “Always another one to be formed and found”, and “It rises and lowers as time continues on”.
I had to change the title of my poem, because I added one more stanza. It was originally 12 Ways Of Looking At Streams. I believe the changes I made really helped the quality of my poem. This is because it really helped the way the poem sounded when read. I also think the changes I made, made each paragraph better and more fluid. Also, I think by adding the last paragraph to the poem, it made the ending sound much better than it originally did.
My goal was to make people think more about the “form” of my poem rather than trying to interpret it. I want them to think about how it is organized. To see how many lines and verses there are. Does it look regular and precise or is it ragged and unusual.
I think this poem was one of my best pieces because I really thought about what I was going to write and I put a good amount of time into writing it. I took my time and tried to make it the best I could. I also tried to put much detail into it to make the reader actually picture it in their heads as they continued to read.
After writing this piece, I learned more about poetry form and organization. I determined that I prefer poetry that does not rhyme. But most importantly, I learned that poetry is fun to write.

Freshman Journey

My first year in high school has been great. At first it was similar to entering middle school for the first time. There was the new school, new friends, and more challenging situations and classes. But after I settled in, I found this transition year to be a lot of fun.

Probably like every other freshman, I was a little nervous on the first day of school. Although I was in a new school my anxiety lessened because I still had the security of my friends and coaches from the middle school. What also helped me was making new friends and having a schedule that was fun. Two classes that were new to me and that I really liked were ceramics and DDP.

One thing that really stuck out to me is that you are given a lot more freedom in high school. This can be good or bad for you. If you’re a disciplined person it’s good, if you need more structure then this may not benefit you as much. Overall I think I benefited from it. So far my freshman year I have received all A’s and have been on the high honor roll for every quarter this year. I feel high school was fairly easy for me unlike some kids who may take a little more time to adjust to the changes and their independence. This has left some kids struggling in some classes.

Some of the things that I liked most about high school have been the electives that we could take. Luckily for me, I liked all the classes that I had this year. Even though I have been successful, I know there have been times when I could have worked a little harder.

Being a leader as a freshman is difficult, but I believe this to be one of my strengths. I do what I know is right although it may not be the popular thing to do. I do my homework, class work, and I pay close attention to instructions. My weaknesses are still the same as in the beginning of the year, reading and writing. I still struggle reading books that do not interest me, but I think I improved a little over the year. I know I must shut myself off from everything and try to focus on the story to stay focused. I also think that my writing has improved as well. I still have people proof read my papers and offer suggestions for improvement. I think this helps me learn as I write. However, I am writing more independently then I did in the beginning of the year.

Since the beginning of the year I think that I have become a stronger student. In high school you work more independently and are responsible for your own work. In order to do better, you have to realize when you need help and then take some of your own time and stay after with the teacher you need help with.

I also think that I changed as a person. I know I have become more mature and responsible. I also think I have grown more as an athlete. After making the JV basketball team this year I found out I need to give 110% all the time. You are still playing for fun, but everyone expects more from you. You are now playing for your school and team.

After one year almost done, I kind of know what to expect for next year and I am excited about it. I also know what the new freshmen will be feeling and experiencing. I kind of envy them.


Goal setting can take a variety of forms. Goals help individuals reach a destination and track their progress and participation during the experience. Goals provide direction and a plan, that can be changed, as progress is assessed.
Goals can help a person stay focused and maintain motivation while they achieve their goals. This is why I have set, both, short and long-term goals that I would like to reach next year and in the future.
In English I would like to focus more on my reading comprehension. Sometimes my mind starts to wonder while I’m reading and then I find it difficult to remember much of what I have just read. I would really like to fix this problem because it can really help me understand my reading more as well as help me on future quizzes and tests. I believe if I try to picture what I am reading it will help me to understand and comprehend it more.
One of the goals I wanted to reach this year was to write more independently. I also wanted to stay on the high honor roll for all four quarters and I wanted to make the JV basketball team. Luckily for me I was fortunate enough to reach most of these goals. I really focused on writing independently and making everything I wrote the best I could. I also made the JV basketball team as I freshmen and I actually was able to start many games which I was very happy with. So far this year I have been able to maintain on the high honor roll for 3 out of 3 quarters. I’m hoping to do the same for the fourth and final quarter.
Some of the goals I have for next year are continuing on the high honor roll, for all four quarters, and making the varsity basketball team. I think I can stay on the high honor roll next year because I really care about school and try very hard at it. I think if I keep concentrating and staying after for any help I might need that it should be a pretty easy goal to reach. I believe I have a good shot at making the varsity basketball team in the fall. I really try hard at tryouts so I can stand out more to all the coaches. I also train a lot in the off-season, which, hopefully, will make me be that much better than my competition. On the off-season I play AAU basketball for two teams. This leaves me with little spare time as I have practices and games almost everyday. AAU is a spring and summer league where players from many different school teams come together to play for one team. I play on Team Make A Play, which is mostly comprised of kids from Albany. I also play on the Averill Park AAU team, which has the same people as our regular season school team.
Some of my long-term goals are to keep receiving good grades, continue to succeed in sports, get into a good college, and to have a successful career. I would like to become stronger in motocross and basketball. These sports I am passionate about and would really like to focus on in my future. If I could go to any college it would be Duke. I love their basketball team and I know they have very good academics as well. Some careers I find interesting are being a firefighter, a mechanic, and restoration work, such as restoring old antiques and items. I think I would prefer to do more “hands on” things instead of sitting in an office all day. I can find myself getting very bored with that. If I continue to work hard at my goals, I believe I can succeed in any career I decide upon.
Future goal setting is very important. It gives you something to work hard at throughout your life. It can also help you succeed in the things you enjoy doing. It can really determine how your adult years will turn out and how your life will be. I believe all people should set goals for themselves. If you don’t, you might regret it later in life. In my opinion, goal setting is something everyone should take into consideration and take seriously.


Dear Miss Schaefer,

My first year in high school has been great. The things I have enjoyed most is the freedom the students are allowed and the choices in electives. My two favorite electives have been ceramics and DDP. These two classes are different from any other class I have taken which has made them fun. I also met new people this year, some from my middle school but some are from different schools such as Garner Dickinson. I would say meeting new friends and taking classes you enjoy really makes school a lot more fun and easier.
I believe I grew as a person and as a student this year. In English class specifically, I think I improved in many things. Some of my goals this year were to be able to work more independently and reading comprehension. I also wanted to improve my writing skills such as providing detail and compare and contrast stories. I believe I have come closer to meeting these goals as the year goes on. I believe my writing has improved with every project/paper. I think my good grades are result of the thought and time I put in to each assignment. I also believe I have improved in my reading comprehension. The study guides we completed, as we would read, really helped me understand the book more. I also tried to really focus on my reading so I could understand it more. One last goal I wanted to work on this year was working more independently in all my classes. I believe I have been successful with this. I have really been trying to do my best on my own to see what I’m really capable of. I think becoming better in each of these areas has made me a better student.

This year my favorite project was our “To Kill A Mockingbird” video. I never had to complete a project like this before. It was different and fun but it still helped me understand the book more. Another thing I really enjoyed about this project was working in a group. In groups you get to bounce ideas off one another and get someone else’s perspective on the book.

My favorite book this year had to be To Kill A Mockingbird. It was interesting and I thought it had a good story or plot. I liked it, which made it easier for me to picture the story in my mind, which also helped me understand the story better. To Kill A Mockingbird also had a few lessons that could be taken from it that changed the way I think about things.

Some of the books that changed the way I think about some things were Stargirl, Fahrenheit 451, and To Kill A Mockingbird. Some of the things I learned in Stargirl are to be yourself and respect who you are. It doesn’t matter what other people think, it matters that you’re happy with who you are. This is a good lesson because many people try to change the way they are to fit in or they change because they want people to think they are cool. I thing I learned from Fahrenheit 451 is to not allow TV to take over your life and to go outside and have fun. You will not succeed in anything if you are watching TV all the time. I also learned something from To Kill A Mockingbird, which was not too judge people. For an example, in this book the characters of Scout, Jem, and Dill, just assumed Boo Radley, was mean, because he lived in an old, scary house. But they found out he was a very nice person who gave them gifts and saved them from Bob Ewell. I think the people who automatically judge people on the way they live or look should think about this lesson. This person may end up being someone they like and want to be friends with.

A person or should I say some people that inspired me this year is my family. This is because they always make sure my homework is done and that I was not slacking off with my school work. They always want the best out of me, which makes me work very hard at things. They have helped me succeed in sports and school this year because they always push me to give 110% in everything I do. With their help, I know I have received better grades and did better in sports as well. My family always supports me with everything I do and I am very fortunate to have them.

This year in English, I am proud of the good grades I received on the essays and projects we had to do. I like how I feel when I get a good grade and it boosts my confidence level for the next project or paper that I will have to do. Also, every time I get a good grade, my parents are very happy and are proud of me.

Some other accomplishments I am proud of this year are making the JV basketball team and starting all games, being on the high honor roll every quarter, and making the travel AAU summer league basketball team. I feel very fortunate and proud that I was able to do these things. Another reason I am proud about these accomplishments is because these are the things that are very important to me and doing well in them means a lot to me.

I can hardly wait for summer vacation. I plan on playing paintball and air soft. I also plan on riding and racing dirt bikes with my friends and playing basketball down in the city. Other than that I plan on sleeping in and relaxing. I am really looking forward to this summer and doing all of these things.

Over the past year I believe that I have really changed as a person and as a student. I feel I have succeeded this year and I am very proud of that. I plan on enjoying my summer and hopefully having another successful year as I enter as a sophomore.

Best Regards,
Thane R.

Words Of Wisdom
I am going to try and give you some advice I wish I knew my freshman year. Hopefully this will help you and help you realize your first year of high school will not be as tough as everyone makes it seem.
My first recommendation is not to be afraid to ask for help. Just remember that what you are feeling, just about everyone else is feeling as well. If you ask for help, others will follow.
Another thing I can think of is for you to choose your friends wisely. Stay away from bad kids that cause trouble. Even though you may not be the person who causes the trouble, if you are with them, you are still going to be guilty by association.
Get involved in school. There are many things going on at the school. Find something that is interesting to you and give it a try.
What I had to get use to was managing my time so I could get my work done. Use your spare time to get as much work done as possible just in case something comes up.
I’ve been told by my sister and parents not to slack off until my senior year. By then it will be too late to try and catch up.
Be respectful to everyone. It does not matter who it is. Hopefully others will treat you with respect as well.
Think before you speak or do anything. This has helped me before I did something I might have regretted.
Most importantly, remember high school is different from middle school. Teachers expect more of you. Do not stress out. Take it slow and do not give up. If you do this high school will be a positive experience for you.

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joijoi said...
May 4, 2015 at 11:52 am
@Jo(bob) You're missing out on this!
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