Universal Truths of English

Seven days. That’s the number of school days left until summer break. As much as I can’t wait to smell and taste that summer vacation, I will admit that I will miss my AP English class with Mr. Ziebarth. For the past 173 days in English class, I have learned an abundance of information regarding rhetoric, analysis, and the English language in general. From all my newly learned knowledge, I have made a list of main ideas that I learned this year.

1) Everything is an argument, so fight for what you believe in. 

Mr. Z probably said “Everything is an argument.” about 200 times this year, and when I first heard it, I laughed. C’mon Mr. Z, not everything is an argument. If I took out a bag of chips and ate them, that wasn’t an argument of any sort, that was simply me easing my hunger. But that’s just it. I was arguing against my hunger. I was countering it by eating. When writing papers, everything you say is an argument. If you state that the media negatively affects the body types of women, you are arguing against the media. So if everything is an argument anyway, fight for what you believe in. Write about what you thinks needs changing. The more you care about a topic and the more passionate you are about fighting for it, the better your writing is. I found that in each assignment I had to do, if I related it back to something I had strong views about or cared about, my work was better.

2) Write with no limits. 

Often in class, Mr. Z had us to zero drafts, in which we had seven minutes to write about whatever we wanted without editing. Each time we wrote one, Mr. Z had a prompt that we could follow, but we weren’t necessarily bound to it. Zero draft was a time to let your mind free. You could write whatever came to mind in that moment. You make think, what is the point of spending seven minutes free-writing? Well believe it or not, zero drafting was very liberating. Often when instructed to write, you are given a prompt that you must stick with, but with zero draft, you were free to let your thoughts out. By “killing the editor” and not fixing any mistakes, you are able to put your thoughts on paper, which is hard to do when you think about how you want to articulate it too hard. By jotting down whatever comes to mind, the writing process is much easier and gives you a chance to write how you really feel about a topic.

3) Life is a learning process. 

This last tip is more of a life lesson than anything. English class was filled with projects, discussions, and teamwork. No matter what we did, we learned from it one way or another. If we made mistakes in our essays or presentations, we learned what to do to improve. If we rocked a discussion, we learned how to do things correctly. Even Mr. Z learned with us through the year. Take everything as a lesson and learn for it. There’s always room for improvement. Learn that you will not always be right and accept it. Let other people help you when you need it, and don’t be afraid to ask. No one is perfect and knows all the answers, so don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Lastly, you can make any experience a good one if you have a positive attitude. Writing essays isn’t the greatest, but if you learn to make the best of it, I guarantee that writing won’t be so bad.

I thoroughly enjoyed AP English 3 with Mr. Ziebarth. Not only did I learn many useful tools for my future, but I also was able to enjoy the material rather than simply worry about my grade all year. In this class, I learned to learn and I think that’s the best type of learning. These days, many students learn to get the grade. The learn so that they can get into a good college. They don’t care about what they are actually learning, as long as they get the answers on the test right, they are happy. That’s not learning. That’s the art of getting by. I’m not looking to get by high school, I’m here to absorb knowledge and learn the material because I am interested in it.

So thank you Mr. Ziebarth, for an incredible year and thank you for teaching me that life will always go on and you will prevail, even if you don’t have thumbs.



So Close, Yet So Far

41. That is the number of days left of the school year, including weekends. Now, as a junior, I am ECSTATIC that this gruesome and tiring school year is slowly coming to an end.  But you see, it’s not that easy- this is the last stretch, the final sprint, the full-speed-ahead part of the race. That means I’ve got to work the hardest I’ve ever worked, even with upcoming AP tests.

I can guarantee that not giving up and working hard will be a struggle- then again when isn’t it? At this point of the school everything in me screams to stop worrying about school and just relax. It seems like all I want to do is sleep, eat, and watch new episodes of  Modern Family, but unfortunately I know I can’t.

So just how do I plan on sprinting towards the end of the school year? Well, by working my butt off and doing whatever necessary to complete this junior year. I strive to do the absolute best I can and to stay positive about school. It’s not always easy, but by staying positive, school will seem at least a little better than if you were to constantly think about school in a negative light.

I encourage all of you to push on and finish the school year strong. When you think about giving up, know that by working hard know, the end result will be so much sweeter and you will be so proud of yourself for getting through any challenge you may have had . Just believe that you can do it, no matter what and as the Joads would say faith overcomes all. You got this!

So here’s to AP tests and finishing the year with all you got!


Live Up To Your Own Expectations

Expectations. We’ve all had experience with them. Whether they were set for us, or we made for them for other people, everyone knows a little something about expectations. They can make or break us, literally. Sometimes when expectations are set, we push ourselves to reach them and thus are successful, but when some expectations are too high, disappointment is usually the main result.

Being a junior in high school with very involved parents, I have had first had experience with expectations. Of course every parent has expectations for their child- have manners, be kind, get good grades, make a difference- but to be completely and utterly honest, there are many times when I feel like the expectations that my parents have for me are the reason of my unhappiness. I spend so much time trying to live up to what they want, that I don’t do what I want- what makes me happy. There is no doubt that they only want what is best for me, but at the end of the day to truly be happy, the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.

Recently in English class, in preparation for the upcoming AP exam, we read an essay prompt that was a father’s letter to his son. In this letter, the father (Lord Chesterfield) writes about how important reputation and knowledge are. He expects his son to be the best of the best because his son reflects his parents.

While reading through this letter filled with expectations, I couldn’t help but think about a recent event that occurred that dealt with expectations in my own life.


The March SAT scores were recently released and well, to be frank, I didn’t do as well as I- or my parents- anticipated. My score dropped by 70 points from the last time I took the test and I was quite disappointed in myself. However, my parents’ disappointment was much more than mine. After crying through a gruesome lecture about how much better I could have done and what I should have done instead of apparently “wasting my time on frivolous things”, I laid in bed reflecting on these expectations my parents held for me.

In some weird way, my expectations encompass my parents’ expectations for me. They want me to be successful in any and every manner, and as do I. However, I also want to show them that I am capable of the things they tell me I’m not good enough for. I want to say “Remember when you lectured me about not doing something good enough? Well look what I can do now.” I want to prove that I am good enough to surpass their expectations. But other times I want to prove that I don’t have to live up to their expectations to be happy or successful. The bottom line is that: it’s all up to me.

How hard I want to work for something, how hard I want to push myself, that’s up to me. The only way I can be happy with my results is if I work for myself and myself only. I have to work to make me happy.

Go out and make your own expectations. Ones that you will be proud to reach. Ones that will show the world how good you are. It’s your life, so live it well.


Little White Houses In Among the Orange Trees

The novel we’ve been reading in my English class is called The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. The story is about a family, the Joad family, and their trek to California to find jobs after losing their family farm. The family consists of many colorful characters, such as Tom Joad, his brother Al, and their sister, Rose of Sharon.

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However, despite the differences in their personalities, each member of the family more or less has hopes of living a better life. Ma Joad even speaks to Tom about “little white houses in among the orange trees”. They expect to be able to find work once they make it to California, to be able to make a living for themselves and start over with their lives. They dream of jobs picking oranges and peaches under the California sun, with nice shade under the trees.


As I was reading this part of the novel, it reminded me of my own hopes and aspirations, as well as those of my peers. At the moment, as high school students, we each have a vision of ourselves in the future. Going out into the world and working as  “real adults”. Having the time of our lives in college. Serving our country in the military. Basically, breaking out of whatever restraints that are holding us back in high school and becoming independent.


However, although I have not read that far into the book, I fear that both the Joad’s dreams and those of myself and my peers are just that – simply dreams. The Joads’ picture-perfect expectations of an easier life picking oranges in sun-kissed California seems simply too good to be true. The way Steinbeck depicts such a vision foreshadows that a shocking reality check is yet to come.

I only hope this does not happen in real life, for my own sake as well as for those around me. Many of my friends have a certain expectation of what will happen after they graduate. I think many of them feel as though as soon as they step outside the gates of my high school, they’re going to become the person they’ve always wanted to be, and live the life of freedom, fun and excitement that awaits outside of the high school classrooms. Chances are, though, life will not be able to live up to its expectations once we all graduate.


However, although these dreams all seem very unrealistic and unlikely to occur in my opinion, I see their importance. Without such fantasies, how can the Joads continue pushing through each day that they are living in hardship and struggles. Without such visions of the future, there is nothing to motivate high school students to continue studying, and working hard at school. Sometimes, the reality of a dream or fantasy just isn’t as important as the hope that it can bring, simply with its slightest potential to become real.

Senior Year: A Year of Adventure

Senior year. Some say it’s the party year of high school. Others say it’s a time to embrace your high school career and find out what truly makes you happy. Walter Kirn says it is a waste of time and money-  I strongly disagree with him.

Kirn describes senior year as a time of “oafish goofing off, chronic truancy, random bullying, sloppy dancing in rented formalwear and interludes of moody, wan philosophizing” and argues that senior year should be abolished in his article “Class Dismissed”. Well let me tell you something Walter Kirn, senior year is so much more than that. Senior year is a time to embrace your high school career. It is a time to really figure out what makes you happy and to truly find yourself. It is a time for adventure and exploration.

Personally, I am looking forward to senior year because, let’s face it: junior year sucks. With all the testing and stress it’s hard to enjoy high school and that’s where senior year comes in. It gives me a chance to recuperate and allows me to leave high school with epic memories of senior year. If high school were to just end after junior year, I would probably have little to none good memories simply because all the stress and long nights filled with work would be the only thing that comes to mind. Senior year is also a time where I think I could really find out what makes me happy and what I want to do with my life.

During my senior year, I plan to make good memories and have as many adventures as I can. And hey Walter Kirn, just because you didn’t have a senior year, doesn’t mean we all can’t have one!

So here’s to new adventures and uncovering our passions.


Take It Slow

Lately, in English class we’ve been discussing about senior year and college a lot.  We’ve had a guidance counselor come in and talk to us, we revised our UC Essays and just turned them in.  In addition, we recently read an article regarding the topic of Senior year and how the author feels that Senior year should be abolished as a whole.  He describes of how it’s one whole year of partying and it’s a time where the Seniors are vulnerable and are afraid of moving on into college.  Sure, whatever you say WALTER KIRN (I’m out to get you).

But I’m not going to analyze Walter’s article or talk about that specifically because, truthfully, all of these college-related topics that we are doing in class makes me emotional as I take a look at my high school career in general and think of my future.  It’s honestly scary, thinking about life after all of this, simply because I don’t really know anything outside of Fountain Valley.  Going to college will be the first step in which I will be exposed to independence and freedom.  All of the seniors this year as well as many juniors blindly say “Oh I can’t wait ’til I graduate!”  As I nod in reassurance that my classmates are not alone, I hide the fact that I’m actually afraid of graduating.  I know high school doesn’t last forever and that I shouldn’t live in the past (Special Shoutout to Jay Gatsby) , so I then realized that I need to just take it slow.


I realized to have the knowledge that none of this is going to be the same, and that I should thus absorb all of these great memories and to just love the good times that you’ve had here  and to make most of what I have now.  I want to see the things I need to see, feel the things I need to feel, and just have fun for the remainder of high school.  I want to take look back, and reflect and just take it slow and take everything in, for everything else will unravel on its own.

Attached is a Wong Fu video which reminded me of this blog in the sense that taking it slow is never a bad thing and that life goes on, so just enjoy the simply things

– Nick

Before I Graduate

Sometimes, we forget that high school is not all about grades.  Although they are extremely important, you still need to think about yourself and the memories you want to create in your teen years.  Consequently, for my DIY project in AP English 3, I’ve decided to do the Top Things that I want to do before I graduate.  If you have ever seen the old MTV show called “The Buried Life,”  it’s somewhat like this.  If you haven’t, The Buried Life is about a group of guys in their 20’s that are traveling across the nation to do the things off their bucket list, aka the things that they want to do before they die.  In the process, they help a person turn their life around or help them cross something off of their bucket list.

I’ve created a list of around ten things that I want to do before I graduate.  Unlike The Buried Life crew, I’m not an adult yet and I am still considered a minor.  I thus can’t do the crazy or the largest goals possible like what they did.  As a result, my list contains of practical, simple, but also meaningful things that I want to do before the last bell rings at high school.  Success or not, as long as I have fun and make memories doing it will be my ultimate goal.

1.  Street perform and make $100

2.  Surprise my old friend in Washington

3.  Make 50 free throws in a row

4.  Win a radio contest

5.  Sleep/visit a haunted house

6.  Make food for my whole family

7.  Train to run Mile Square Park

8.  Give a homeless man a makeover

9.  Throw a surprise party for my Dad

10.  Create a flash mob