Why must all good things end?

After a year, Mr. Ziebarth’s AP 3 English class is finally over. To be honest, I’m really going to miss this class. I love coming to second period everyday, because I never know what is going to happen, what Mr. Ziebarth is going to introduce to the class.

I can honestly say that I have learned quite a bit this year. From DIY projects, to blogs, to the BRAWL, the activities and assignments I have completed in AP English have all been a learning experience that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my high school career, and into college as well.

To wrap up this year, let’s recap what I’ve learned in Ziebarth’s class, shall we?

1. Team work does not always mean easy work. 

You may think that more people on a project makes a project easier. If you think that, you are wrong. My DIY project was a group project consisting of five people, and that was not easy at all. It wasn’t that my group members didn’t do work or anything, but throughout the course of the year, I learned that the  fact that there were so many of us just made it hard to coordinate and communication sometimes became an issue. Sometimes, smaller groups can be much more efficient.

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2. Time management can be difficult, but it is extremely important. 

This was also something I learned from my DIY project. Because my project consisted of several different parts (filming interviews, editing, promotion, etc.), it all turned out much more time consuming that originally expected. Therefore, we had to budget our time very wisely when it came to going out to film interviews and such. It wasn’t easy, but in the end, I think I have learned a skill that is going to be very helpful in the future.


3. Social media can be distracting at times, but it is also very useful. 

This year, Ziebarth has incorporated a variety of social media into his class, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. He is the only teacher I know that uses all them, because other teachers believe that they can become distracting. I personally think it was a great idea to utilize these tools. I hate Twitter, and I had never used Instagrammed before this year. However, after using them in Z’s class, I’ve come to appreciate the usefulness of these forms of social media.

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4. English is open to interpretation. 

“It’s not about the author’s intention, it’s about the effect.”

That’s what Ziebarth always said when we read novels, or when we read anything at all, for that matter. After a year in his class, I’ve learned that it isn’t about what the author was trying to do, but about what the writing does for the reader. I think that’s why I love English class so much. There really isn’t a wrong answer, because every novel, every essay affects everyone a little bit differently, and that’s ok.


There are so many other things I have learned in this English class, but I think those are the main four. Mr. Ziebarth, thank you for being a great English teacher and teaching me these lessons that I will continue to use in the future. It’s been a wonderful year.

– Karen



DIY: The Start

I recently joined four of my classmates in our DIY project (which you can read more about here). In a nutshell, we are planning to create a documentary focusing on the problems that people face in society. We are going to be going to public places and conducting interview with people that we meet. In addition, we will be making another video to show the process of making our documentary, our obstacles, our thoughts on it, etc. With this project, we are really hoping to encourage people to be kinder to each to each other, because everyone has their own challenges and obstacles to overcome.

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As of right now, we are still planning out the things we need to get done. We plan on doing some filming during Thanksgiving break. However, before we can film anything, we have many preparations we need to complete such as writing a consent form for those we are interviewing, finding equipment to use, setting up a calendar of deadlines, etc. My job is to take care of equipment so I plan on teaching all of my group members how to use the equipment from BBN, the video production class at school that I am in. My group and I have realized how much work and effort is needed for this project, which is relatively big and time-consuming. Therefore, we all agree to make time for the project, and make an effort to be part of the team. In addition, I personally discovered that I am very much of a control freak and I am actually stressing out a bit too much over this project. However, I am learning to be part of the team and share the responsibilities as well as the worries with my team members.


– Karen

Just One Weak Link Can Break The Chain


My English class spent several days watching a Japanese movie called, Seven Samurai. At first, I was quite certain I would end up disliking it. The movie was made in 1954, years before I was even born. It was in black and white. I had to read the English subtitles of some very fast-speaking  Japanese men. However, after finishing the movie, I realized there was one quote from the movie that never left my mind: “War is not fought alone”.


The basic plot of the movie consisted of seven samurai with different personalities and backgrounds agreeing to work together and defend a poor farm village from bandits. The quote was said by one samurai to another to remind him that in order to win the battle, they must each fulfill their duty to defeat the enemy as a whole. Oddly enough, when I read the white letters that spelled out, “war is not fought alone” on the screen, the first thing that came to my mind was a childhood game called “Red Rover”. Throughout the rest of the movie, that quote and memories of playing “Red Rover” continuously appeared in my thoughts. Initially, I was thoroughly puzzled with myself, because there seemed to be no connection between the intensity and bloodiness of war with the innocence and playfulness of an elementary school game. However, upon reflection,  I realized that the concept of teamwork would be the same under all circumstances.


In Seven Samurai, when Kikuchiyo left his position, he did not realize what the consequences of his actions would be. His petty jealousy of Kyuzo’s ability to obtain a musket led him to go off on his own to prove that he could do the same. His decision to leave his post ultimately cost the life of his fellow samurai and friend, Gorobei, as well as many farmers from the village. The tragedy would not have occurred if Kikuchiyo had just done his part and put the good of the whole above his own pride and jealousy. Instead, he had created a breach in the security of his team, and weak spot that the enemy knew to attack.

The same principles can be applied to “Red Rover”. The game consists of two teams, each team standing about thirty feet apart in parallel lines, facing each other. Players of the same team hold hands, so two “walls” are created. The teams take turns calling out “Red rover, red rover, send [name of player on opposite team] right over”. That person then has to try to “break the opposing “wall” and get to the other side. If he fails, he must now join the opposite team. If he is able to make it across, he is allowed to bring one of the broken “links” back to his team. The game is a practice of teamwork and responsibility. If each link the chain is secure as everyone holds on tightly to their team members’ hands, no one would be able to break the chain. However, if even just a single person acts as the weak link and continuously allows the opposing team to run through, the game will quickly be over and his team would lose.

“War cannot be fought alone”. This quote teaches a universal moral found in numerous stories and movies throughout the years, taught to people maybe without them even realizing it: teamwork is key. The grown men in Seven Samurai had to learn this lesson through the hardships and death of  battle. In my case, I seem to have recognized this principle at an earlier age, through the happy childhood game, “Red Rover”. Some things require a team effort, or success is simply out of reach. No matter what the circumstances are, to achieve the goal, you must be able to count on yourself and your teammates to not be that chink in the armor, that weak link in the chain.

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– Karen