Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Pine Cone for the Class of 2012

There’s a moment in one of my favorite novels that comes to mind this time of year. Just before Holden Caulfield leaves Pencey Prep, he stands on a hill, looking down at a football game on the field below. He says that he is “trying to feel some kind of a good-bye,” but he feels empty, having made no strong connections either to the school or the people he is leaving. To me, leaving a place feeling nothing is one of the saddest fates I can imagine. But everything I have seen and heard tells me that for most of you, the end of high school is unlike Holden’s experience. Where he left without being able to take anything of value with him as he departed, you have told me and each other of the many valuable memories, connections, and experiences that go with you as you leave school. You did so in many of your senior speeches, in my class the last day, and, I assume, during the Pine Cone ceremony last week. In many important ways, then, your experiences with PCDS and with each other have differed significantly from Holden’s as you feel your good-byes from the school.

            As you contemplate your future, therefore, I hope you also feel the importance of reflecting on all you’ve done the last few years to build those many connections. Remember the hard work, yes, and the preparation you have made for success in college, but also remember the friendships you've made, all the small moments you’ve shared with your classmates, your teachers, and your families while you were in high school. 

For now that you are saying—and feeling—your good-byes to PCDS, you take with you several powerful gifts. The first is the academic preparation you’ve made. Perhaps you already know what a rare gift you’ve been given by attending a school that pushed you as much as PCDS did. As you continue your studies over the next years, I think you will realize more and more that your intellect, your creativity, and your self-discipline are important tools for your future. Use them; they will take you far in life.

The second gift is the gift of memory. Once any experience is behind us, its importance is measured largely in terms of all the ways we remember it. Even though I missed the final campfire, I’m told many of you shared important memories with each other. Some of your memories are happy, some are sad, some are funny, all are more precious than you may realize. Cherish them and keep them strong.

The third gift you take with you is that of friendship, for nothing in life is more important than our connections to others. You’ve made some remarkable friendships with each other and with your teachers. It’s up to you what you do with those friendships from here on. I’m still in touch via Facebook and e-mail with my best friend from high school and with several friends from college, even though the daily contact of those friendships ended many years ago. My younger son, who graduated from PCDS twenty years ago, still maintains several friendships with his classmates. I hope each of you has a handful of friends with whom you keep close contact for many years.

Finally, I hope many of you will maintain and build on the friendships with teachers you have formed the last few years. Several of my most prized friendships are with former students with whom I’ve stayed in touch over the years, and it is my strong wish that I may add some of you to that list of good friends.

It’s been my pleasure to teach you, talk to you in the quad, listen to your speeches, read your journals, sit beside a campfire with you, hear your singing, see your art, watch your acting and your games. This letter is my pine cone to your class. Best wishes for happy, healthy, productive, loving lives.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Change to schedule (AP)

I'd like to make a last-minute change to our schedule. For those of you not taking the Bio or Physics exams Monday, please come to English class according to our usual day 7 schedule.

There's one piece of content we never got to, the final chapters of Our Faire Englische Tung, pp. 57-78. Try to find time to read those pages; as usual, note your favorite facts to share with others in a brief discussion. Then we will try to set a new freerice record. (For section 1, Tuesday block 1, we'll combine this discussion with a few departing remarks I have for you.)

We'll still have our "final class" ritual on Tuesday and Wednesday, blocks 1 & 2 Tuesday (before and after Awards) and blocks 1 & 2 Wednesday.

Thanks for a good year; I hope the exam went well for each of you. Have a nice weekend and I'll see you next week.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Lit List for AP 2012

An updated Lit List

Things Fall Apart
Hedda Gabler
Catcher in the Rye
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A Mercy
The Great Gatsby
Death of a Salesman
ID book
The Sun Also Rises
Summer reading 2011
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Gulliver’s Travels
Pride and Prejudice
Heart of Darkness
The Importance of Being Earnest
Spring novel 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

AP Exam Review 2012

A few suggestions to keep in mind from now to Thursday the 10th.
1. Make a list of the literature you've read the past two years. You will need to choose one of these for essay #3 (40 years of topics are available here). Concentrate on the plays and novels, but include Beowulf and Sir Gawain also. For each title, refresh your memory about the names of the main characters, the most important scenes, the setting, and a couple of key themes or ideas. If Othello was one of your favorite pieces, go back into sophomore year also. Having some specific information at your fingertips makes your choice.
2. If you want to look at more multiple-choice questions, check the AP course description for additional materials. Also, several years of essay topics are available here.
3. Look over the poetry vocabulary list I gave you (here's the link). One or two terms may come up on a multiple-choice question, and you will definitely be asked to identify the relevant techniques used by the poet on essay #1.
4. Review the elements of prose style for essay #2: Syntax (sentence structure), Organization (how information is presented), Language (figurative, literal, colloquial, highly poetic), Imagery, Diction (word choice, connotation, denotation), Detail (what is included, what is left out), Irony (always good to note its presence), Point of View (how does it influence our reactions, more sympathetic, more distant), and Tone (overall and especially where it shifts).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Short Story final project

The Short Story

Final Project

Spring 2012


Project requirements:


1.     Choose a “new” story, one written since the year 2000. Use the resources in the library to help you locate your story. Choose a story which was “published” by a journal or magazine or in a book; no self-published internet stories.

2.     Make enough copies of your story so that we may all read it.

3.     Assemble a final project with the following content:

4.     An expository element, one or two pages describing a theme or character or idea found in your story.

5.     A biographical component, with information about the author taken from more than one source.

6.     A creative element, designed to accompany your story and to present an interpretation done in a creative format, perhaps rewriting part of the story from another point of view, a letter from one character to another detailing a key decision or moment from the story, a revised, new or different ending, or a visual, artistic collage of images chosen to represent elements from the story.

7.     An oral component, in which you become the teacher for part of the hour, presenting ideas and information from your written project and research to the rest of us.

8.     Projects are due Thursday, May 10 and we will present and discuss both that day and the following day, Friday, May 11.

9.     On May 11, we will finish presentations to accompany our “class luncheon.” We will begin at 12:10 that day and finish by 1:00 for an early dismissal.