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.


Just Be Yourself

I recently started reading Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and was immediately intrigued by the sassy attitude of the main character, Holden Caulfield. Holden is getting kicked out of his fourth private high school and has a particular “I really don’t care what you think about me because you are fake” type of attitude. While many people reading the novel will see him as snarky and rude, but I find myself identifying with him.

High school is a place to really find your passions and who you are, so why should you pretend to be someone you aren’t? Does fitting in really mean that much? I think finding friends who accept you for who you are is more important because 30 years from now, I don’t think you will be remembering how good it was to go along with the supposedly in crowd and hide who you truly are.

Holden doesn’t believe in “phonies” and berates them for being someone they aren’t, and on some level he’s right. You shouldn’t have to pretend to like something because everyone does nor should you have to act a certain way to be considered worthy of friendship. True friends will accept you for you, and if they don’t, they aren’t true friends.

Why would want to be ordinary, when you can be yourself and be extraordinary?

Life is too short to pretend to be someone you aren’t. Embrace yourself and be the person you want to be.


The Scared is Scared

I came across this video while I was aimlessly scrolling through my Tumblr dashboard and after I finished watching it, I was left with a sense of realization. “The scared is scared.” This simple, yet true statement can help me get through so much. Whenever I’m scared, all I need to do is to think of things I like in order to scare the scared away. One particular event that has got me a little worried is the AP Language and Composition test coming up for English class. Sure, it’s a big test, but if I just think about things I like to chase those bad thoughts away, I’m sure I will do better since a relaxed mind works better than a nervous one. So whenever you are feeling scared or uncertain about something, think about things that make you happy and smile instead. Life is too short to spend your time thinking about things that bring you down.


Don’t forget – Google is watching

A recent article from the Orange County Register reported on a lawsuit filed against Google, which has been scanning student emails. The company has admitted to processing student emails, using key words in the emails to trigger advertisements.

This article had quite a bit of an impact on me, but probably not what you think the impact is. Yes, I do believe that this is a major invasion of privacy as well as an inappropriate way to provide advertisements. However, what really got me was the fact that this company was Google. Google. Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 6.59.33 AM

What would I do without Google? What would we all do without it? You may not think about it, but Google is everywhere. It has been for as long as I can remember. Actually, I recall writing a poem about Google in the seventh grade, when my teacher asked my classmates and I to write a poem about what we were thankful for Thanksgiving. I got a perfect score on that assignment; my teacher even commented on my clever idea and how true it is.

My thoughts while reading that OC Register article were mainly, “Oh no, what if I need to stop using Gmail? What if I need to stop using Google entirely? What am I supposed to do now?” That was really when it hit me how dependent on Google, my peers and I have become. Not only do we all have Gmail accounts, whether it be for class or personal use, we “google” everything. It has become a common verb, an action to take when you don’t know something, when you do know something and want to double check, or even when you have nothing to do and want to look at the funny searches that pop up in the search bar (yes, that’s actually a thing).


Hopefully, the issue of Google scanning of emails gets resolved. That company has become such a part of life that it would become a huge problem for everyone if we had to start turning from Google. Honestly, though, with the influence that it has, is it really that much of a surprise that emails are being scanned, that Google is watching us…


Some Sacrifices Are Worth It

If there was a dire emergency and my family was clearly in danger’s way, I would do whatever I could to ensure their safety, even if it meant putting myself in danger. If there was only enough ice cream for one person left in the box, I would give it to my brother. Some sacrifices are easy to make when you truly love the person or people you are making them for. Even though the sacrifices you make for your loved ones may not always benefit yourself, you still make them because you would rather have the short end of the stick than your loved ones.

That is exactly how I think Ma Joad felt when she told everyone to pack up their things from the Weedpatch government camp and move to a less accommodating housing area in order for the family to get work.  Although she was the one to make the family move, I think leaving the government camp really pained Ma. This camp was the first place since their journey west that was like some sort of home to Ma; It was the only thing that hasn’t disappointed her in California. Despite the luxuries that the camp offered, Ma knew they had to leave to find work elsewhere. As much as it pained her to do so, she forced the family to move out because it was for their own good.

For the love of a family member, sacrifices are made all the time, just like in the Disney classic, Little Mermaid. King Triton sacrifices his power as ruler in order to save his beloved daughter, Ariel from being harmed by the evil Ursula. He is willing to give up being king of the ocean in order for his daughter to survive. A huge a heavily weighted sacrifice, but I’m sure it wasn’t a very hard decision.

Walt-Disney-Books-Ursula-King-Triton-walt-disney-characters-34296593-2936-2357Some sacrifices are worth it because you are doing it for those you love. For your love and compassion for the person overrides your fear. I think that is one of the most beautiful things about society. You could be faced with you difficult choices, but when you chose to sacrifice for those you love, you are demonstrating true love.


It’s All About the Journey

Yesterday, I watched the finale to my favorite show, How I Met Your Mother.  It was a tear-jerker and it really made me sad thinking that the show is finally over after a great 9 years.

Now before I say anything else, I promise I’m not going to spoil the ending for all of you HIMYM fans because I’m simply going to be talking about the “journey” of this show, not the “destination”.  In all of these 9 years building up to meeting Ted’s beloved wife, we realize that this show isn’t necessarily about seeing who this mother is, but it’s in fact watching and enjoying the good times that Ted experienced with his close-knit group of friends.  From season 1 to the very finale, we see how much each character has grown and developed from their past selves and how different things are.  Some viewers may have thought the finale was a rushed episode, but I disagree because we have to remember that this show is in Ted’s perspective and that he cared about the destination, but he cared more of how he reached it with his best friends by his side.  As a result, this ties in to the idea that life is not about making it to that final destination point, but it is how you got there in the first place and the memories that you created in the process.


In Grapes of Wrath, the Joads eventually reach California in search of work after being booted out of their own home.  But, in reality, California is not the main focus of the story.  Yes, it may symbolize dreams and hopes of many migrants from Oklahoma, but the novel is about the conflicts and hurdles the Joads have to face on the way to California as well as the problems they have in California.  It may not be as happy as HIMYM of course, but it does pack the same concept that the final point isn’t everything.



So as you live your everyday life, remember not to try and rush growing up.  Live in the moment and let everything fall into place.  But most of all, enjoy the journey of life.

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– Nick