Bittersweet

by Cyndi Faircloth

The last day of school is always a little bittersweet around here. Our group is so small, and becomes so close over the year, that the last day of school is both happy and sad.

Happy because we cheer the students who are graduating. Sad because we will miss them next year.

Especially this year. I don’t know how many times someone on the staff has said, “We have the nicest group of kids this year!” Part of that has been the leadership of our seniors. They stick up for the underdog. Encourage the nervous. Compliment just about everyone.

They are genuinely good human beings.

seniors
2016 Seniors (wearing the items that I knitted for them)

They have overcome different kinds of adversity, worked hard, and are ready to move on to whatever comes next. So we will cheer and clap at commencement tomorrow. And I will cry (because I always cry) because I’m happy, proud, emotional and sad that they are leaving us.

 

The last day of school is our last chance for bonding as a group. The staff is making breakfast (crepes this year). Students will turn in last minute assignments and revisions. Seniors will practice graduation speeches. We will clean the building, packing things away for summer so the maintenance crews can move around the building easily.

We will watch the graduation slideshow – a video “yearbook” of the past 9 ½ months. We’ll laugh at the memories, write our last messages in each other’s yearbook, and linger until the last minute before graduation rehearsal. Because we hate to let go of our little family group.

I say the same thing almost every week as students leave school. So I will probably take one last chance to remind them of my best advice as they leave tomorrow: Make good choices.

(And I will try not to cry as I say it.)

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Fighting the Plague…

by Cyndi Faircloth

On Monday, my classroom was the source of a “symphony of sickness”. Hacking, coughing, sniffing, wheezing…you name it, we heard it.

I think all but one student was sick. And I might have been the worst off. (Of course, I’m also a whiner when I’m sick so it might have been in my head)

On Tuesday, I went to Quick Care to check in for the 2nd time this round of sickness. There were lots of other coughing, sneezing victims in the waiting room. The doctor took pity on me and listened to my complaints, and gave me another prescription to fight the plague. After one of my hacking sessions, I asked the nice doctor if he took Airborne when there were this many people coming in with these kinds of symptoms. He said he doesn’t take supplements.

He just washes his hands…a lot.

Seriously? That’s his preventative measure when he works with people coughing a sneezing in his face every day?

Wow.

handwashing_456px

The CDC says that “Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.”

I thought I washed my hands pretty regularly at school, but I realize it is something I have to consciously think about doing because there isn’t a sink in my room. Other than the regular bathroom trip, or before and after eating, I’m just not near a sink during the day.

Yet students are in my room all day long…touching things. Sneezing on the desks. Coughing into the air. Blowing their nose and throwing dirty tissues into the garbage (…or at least aiming for the garbage. Sometimes they miss and have to pick them up off the floor).

If you really think about the possible sharing of germs that can happen in a classroom, a germophobe might go into convulsions.

So it was kind of a reality check for me that the doctor (into whose face I had nearly coughed while he examined my nasal passages a few minutes ago) believed that handwashing was the best way for him to avoid getting sick.

I need to up my game during flu season. Maybe all year long.

So here’s my pledge: I will start washing my hands during every class break that I can.

This creeping crud is finally losing its hold on me (thanks to the doctor’s prescription, I think). And I don’t want it back again. Ever.

I will wash my hands whenever I pass the sink in our school kitchen. Or whenever I go in the Science classroom. And whenever I’m standing at the copier waiting for a job to finish (there’s a sink right around the corner). I may buy stock in SoftSoap at this rate.

‘Course I probably also need to invest in some good hand lotion because all this handwashing is going to dry my skin out. But that’s a story for another day…

Shakespeare Can Save the World from the F-Bomb…

In English this quarter we are studying language. Yes, we study language all year long (it is English after all), but this quarter we are reading a play by Shakespeare so we are spending a lot of time looking at strong words, active verbs, and reasoning out how changing a word can change the meaning of a sentence.

We’ve talked about “connotation” and “denotation” and how a word can mean more than one thing, depending on whether someone understands the symbolism of a word or not. (Check out the poem “The Naked and the Nude” by Robert Graves for an example of this).

Anyone who has ever spent much time with a high school student knows that their use of profanity is ubiquitous. The f-bomb slips out on a regular basis at breaks and during lunch. [I wish I had a nickel for every time I corrected a student who dropped one…but that’s another story.] It may seem casual to them, or to those who don’t spend much time in the high school setting, but the cumulative effect of all those bombs being dropped is pervasive. It lowers the IQ of the entire building: limiting creativity, snuffing out discussion, and impeding participation. Each time the word is spoken, it impacts the people who hear it.

But one of the fun side effects of combining Shakespeare and the study of language is the opportunity to possibly stamp out profanity in our school.

One of my lessons focused on “Shakespearean insults”. There are lots of versions of handouts or books available with examples of the three-part style of insult that is common to Shakespeare’s plays. I have a handout and a book that we use to discuss how the insult can be an art. Calling someone a “foot-licker” as a way to imply that they are a sycophant is a lot more interesting than a common insult (you know the one – it rhymes with “mastered”). A “coxcomb” is a “foolishly vain or conceited person” – again a better option than almost any contemporary insult starting with ‘f’ (such as the one that rhymes with chukhar).

How about “measle”? That means that someone is a ‘diseased wretch’.

When you combine any of those insults with some descriptors, the insult can really be polished up and layered with meaning:

A “churlish, dirt-rotten foot-licker” becomes a rude, filthy sycophant.

A “deceptious, fat-kidneyed coxcomb” becomes a deceiving, gluttonous conceited person.

A “lubberly, logger-headed measle” becomes an awkward, stupidly blockheaded diseased wretch.

I don’t mean to imply that I advocate that my students throw insults on a daily basis. But, when they play with language of any kind, they start to expand their repertoire of words to use. If they actually slowed down enough to think about which insult is appropriate in the moment in which they want to insult someone, they might also think about what is specifically upsetting them. The reflection might interrupt the ‘fight or flight’ response that prompts the insult in the first place.

Hopefully using Shakespeare’s language sparks creativity and opens up discussions between people. At least it will save the world from being impacted by a few f-bombs.

Spring Broken

Spring broken

One of the students titled one of his blog posts “Spring Broken” when we got back from spring Break a couple of weeks ago. In his post, he wrote about being disappointed in his break, because he spent much of the week sick. Several other students commented that they were sick too. Our schedule was so rushed when we came back that I didn’t have much time to reflect on any of that.

But that was part of the problem.

Not taking enough time for self-care can make people sick. For the week or two before break, we were all focused on making it to Spring Break. It may be our busiest time of year. For some reason, our third quarter often includes some of the most difficult classes we offer in a year. On top of that, Senior Projects and SP Presentations are due. Despite Spring Break, the quarter feels like it moves really quickly.

“I just need to finish this paper and it will be break.”

“I’ll get these presentation slides ready and then I’ll be ready for break.”

“I’m almost done with my project-just in time for break.”

“I need to finish my book for English before break.”

Teachers assign things to be done just before break. Students work hard on those things with the thought that they can ‘relax’ over break. But when they slow down, and finally take time for themselves, I think that when their bodies finally relax, their immune systems relax too.

And then the germs take over…

kleenexThe weeks after break, we saw lots of absences (sometimes up to 40% of the students) because of illness. Those of us in the building heard sniffling, snuffling, coughing, hacking, and hocking (gross!) while we were here. It sure made the end of the quarter even more stressful for everyone.

So I made a note to myself after reading that student blog post.

My goal is to do a better job of including some moments to help students “de-stress” in the weeks leading up to Spring Break next year. Periodically, I want to plan a few moments to stretch, take some deep breaths, reflect on what they need to do. Somehow, I will help students learn some coping strategies so that their stress doesn’t build up and lead to illness over the break from school.

I remember an NPR story about how childhood stress can contribute to chronic illness as an adult. Maybe the story referred to stresses outside of school, but I can’t imagine that a lot of stress is good for anyone, no matter what the source is.

So, note to self:

“Help students manage stress before Spring Break next year.”

And (bonus!) maybe there will fewer gross, sickness-related sounds in the building in the weeks after break.

 

Food Festival

chocolate_chip_cookie_dayby Cyndi Faircloth

The last few weeks at PCR have been a bit of a food festival. Not exactly by design, but more through luck.

First, there were all the apples left over from school lunches. (Note to self – or at least to the groovy kitchen masters that make our school lunch – students don’t eat apples in February). On Fridays, rather than throwing them out or feeding them to Matt’s chickens, I took them home and made an apple pie and brought it in on Monday. After the first week, I started to get creative with the recipe: weave the top crust together to decorate. Add a little cinnamon. No, add a handful of Red Hots candy – that will spice things up!

After the apples, it was oranges. There were fewer oranges than apples left over, but the bowl on the kitchen table was still getting full at the end of the week. Jim and I decided that we will need to get a juicer so he can use the juice from the oranges in the smoothies he makes for breakfast. (We really hate to throw food out!)

Aside from fruit, there was my baking cupboard to clean out. I’ve been trying to eat less bread so I haven’t been baking as much as I used to. Opening the cupboard and seeing the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder just calling to me, I decided that a baking binge was in order to clear them out for my sanity.

Two batches of Rice Krispie Treats and eight dozen chocolate chip oatmeal cookies later, my cupboard had some empty shelf space and I had quite a few gallon ziplock bags of treats to share with the students. (In all fairness, my husband’s office also benefitted (?) from my “cleaning” spree)

The last treasure trove of food came when a friend had to clean out her dad’s kitchen after his battle with cancer (Cancer won). For Thanksgiving and Christmas, she sent him some gift baskets from Mahoghany Fields (or whatever that food company is called). She lives in California, so she doesn’t really want any of the food items. She brings them to me; I bring them to school for the students. Crackers, cheese, smoked salmon, short breads…it was Snackville!

I think the food festival is coming to an end. It looks like this week the leftover food is going to be baby carrots. Unless someone has a creative recipe to use those up in bulk, we may just be pushing rabbit food on everyone during Open 4th period Friday. Wait…maybe I need to Google “carrot cake” recipes…

Is drinking milk healthy?

By Gagandeep Chandi (read more at gagandeepstravelsthroughthemiddleeast.wordpress.com )

As weird as this sounds, this is another controversial topic, I just find it more fun to do these kinds of topics. So let’s discuss for the sake of me passing my english class and debating this. Let’s start off with some information EVERYONE should already know, milk is healthy as all hell for your bones and bone structure. Milk contains calcium, potassium and Vitamin D. So what are these? How do these even benefit me or you? Well too little potassium or too much sodium can risk high blood pressure. Unfortunately enough, most americans suffer from high blood pressure from too much sodium and some even from not drinking some milk. Some good ol’ hearted milk that comes from a assortment of animals and females. However, is there a such thing as too much milk? Let’s find out.

One of the main arguments against milk is that it can reduce the risk of fractures. But in actuality, there is very little evidence this is true according to Dr. Willett, M.D. He has M.D in his name, so he is legit I assure you. Willett also worries that drinking too much milk can pose some worries and dangers. Research shows SOME evidence that milk can be linked to some formation of prostate cancer. Also milk isn’t necessary to your survival, you can get all these missing nutrients from orange juice or soy milk or even the classic disgusting ruse that mothers put up, vegetables. Other evidence is also linked to females and some dairy products can cause ovarian cancer. The main concern about this to people is to make sure they are getting the necessary calcium for their bodies, and just get adequate doses of vegetables and minerals.

Another problem is the USDA is recommending too much milk, some might even say dangerous levels of milk. So much milk, legend says that if you drink too much milk, you may implode of the dairy nectar of the cows, goats and all them dairy producers. The point is though, you don’t have to just give up on dairy altogether. For people that are lactose intolerant, they should favor other sources of gaining calcium and the necessary vitamin and minerals to promote more of a healthy lifestyle. In my opinion, if you enjoy the feeling of dairy in your mouth, who cares if it’s unhealthy. Mostly what everyone consumes is already unhealthy. So, in the wise words of all milk ads, Just do it.

Not With a Bang But a Whimper

Some thoughts about global warming from PCRHS Senior Daizy Fletcher. (Read more of her thoughts at: whodowethinkyouare2.wordpress.com)

T.S. Eliot wrote a poem called “The Hollow Men” the last stanza of the poem is as follows:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

The question of how the world will end is something that we as a species tend to wonder. When, how, and why will it all be over? On the mother nature network, Laura Moss writes “11 ways the world (as we know it) could end”.

Solar storms
Pandemic
Planet X
The big rip
global warming
gamma ray burst
computer take over
electromagnetic pulse
nuclear war
asteroid
zombies
All of these have pretty good explanations on the site: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/photos/11-ways-the-world-as-we-know-it-could-end/road-to#top-desktop

But the question is, why did T.S. Eliott write, “not with a bang but a whimper”? There is more than one way you could look at this line. It could be saying that we are expecting the end to be something bigger and more extreme than it really will be. If that is the case then we can forget about nuclear war and say hello to the world just flat out giving up. If our planet really did just give up what would be the reason? We could make so many different assumptions but we won’t know until it happens. I personally agree with T.S. Elliot. It is kind of the less “exciting” ending but to me it makes more sense. We are slowly killing the planet and that is something that a lot of people don’t understand.

We are causing the destruction and it starts from pollution and goes all the way to physically destroying the earth for stupid selfish reasons like making more money. If you were to look back even just 100 years ago you would see the drastic changes that nature has endured. We are clear cutting forests, paving anything that’s driven on, littering, polluting, and misusing the wonderful resource that was lent to us. We don’t own the earth, we are its guests that have been given the amazing opportunity to borrow it.

Nobody wants to believe that the world will end someday, but the sad truth is that it will, and we will be the cause. The stress that we put on the planet is wearing it out. It’s going to hold out as long as it possibly can but it will slowly be getting worse until it’s just done. We need to stop being selfish and only think about ourselves and money, and actually give a crap about our home. There is only one earth, there is not another planet out there like ours that we know of. Why would we be killing it? Do we want humanity to go on? We need to give future generations the ability to see the true beauty in the world and in life. If we don’t there is no point in anything.

Beating a Dead Horse

It’s so nice when students enjoy their work:

Source: Beating a Dead Horse from Alden Bader (read more at AldensThinkTank.wordpress.com)

Blogging. Here at Paradise Creek Regional Highschool this is a thing of much contempt and much debate. Some people, the few and the quiet, love to blog. I think that they feel as though they are finally being heard by broadcasting their opinion to their classmates without actually talking to them. I’m part of the other group of people who don’t love it, we’re the problem. I don’t feel the need to share my thoughts on every little thing and broadcast them to everyone from here to Hanoi. Actually, I don’t mind broadcasting my thoughts and opinions because more often than not I’m right; I just don’t like the fact that people are forced to read it and respond to it. I’m sure some people love having their ego inflated from other people’s comments on the internet, but I’m not that vapid and self-absorbed.

Ever since I read my first part of a blog, some awful piece of garbage a Tumblrina wrote, I’ve always thought of blogs as a way to scream into an echochamber and cry about how you were oppressed (Personally, I was oppressed today, someone didn’t use a trigger warning when they told a joke). Everyone who blogs is a special snowflake, no opinion is wrong (of course your opinion is wrong), debate is accomplished by attacking your opponents character or values (if you don’t think this is true you are an idiot and probably a communist), and I am exposed to other’s flawed opinions and thoughts.

I do understand the reason we blog (100 out of 10 studies show that it improves your writing), but I feel as though I have become so accomplished at writing, thanks to my wonderful English teacher Cyndi, that it is essentially unnecessary. I wouldmuch, kind of, barely rather blog and expose people to my thoughts and be exposed to theirs than write essay after essay. Oh well, nothing I can do really. This argument I’ve been making for a year is worn out and useless so I might as well resign myself to an awful life of sharing every unimportant, boring, and incorrect thought with every soul unfortunate enough to have been forced to read my blog.

Berman Creekside Examination Summary

by Caleb (read more at: https://cmartiansmarsh.wordpress.com/)

So, yesterday we as a class took a trip down to the Berman Creekside Park so that we could analyze the water in Paradise Creek. We walked down to the transect by the park and got all of our materials ready, figured out who was getting wet, and got to it. We followed the same procedure as we did last year, getting in the water to analyze the creek floor and its sedimentary contents. Using other strategies and tools, we were given the task of examining rocks, plant life, insects, water temperature, and viscosity in the stream. Using all of this information, it helps to provide a better understanding of the state of our water quality.

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