by Aymon L., 8th Grade


Photo Courtesy of Brian S., 8th Grade

At 9:35 AM on Friday, December 14 Adam Lanza shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School with a plan to execute what was to be the most lethal school shooting in U.S. history causing a total of 26 school casualties that did not include his own suicide. Although there were many brave souls in this dark hour there were also a huge number of casualties that never should have happened. This and other school shootings are the reason that the A.L.I.C.E drill is now being practiced by schools around the country. A.L.I.C.E stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. These are all crucial steps, however they do not necessarily have to be done in order. They will still carry out what needs to get done for safety any way you do it.
During the first month of school we practiced A.L.I.C.E and this experience was new to me as I had missed it last year. The way the drill works in is that you get alerted over the intercom and then your classroom decides (depending on how far away the “invader” is if you want to risk it and evacuate or stay put and try to counter the attack through a “blockade-like” technique). The experience over all is very fun and exciting when you are doing however this is not something to joke about. School shootings can and will happen. 70 shootings have occurred since Newtown so don’t think it can’t happen again because it can. If we stay in practice though, we can get through this and we will stay safe.

 by Aymon L., 7th Grade 

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Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Bullying is a  major issue around the world. This crime is committed at almost every school in the United States. According to www.dosomething.org “Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.” This means that over 8,770 schoolchildren on average are bullied in a day. If you bully and you think you are just joking you’re part of something big, much bigger than you. 

        Many kids in their lifetime have been the target of bullying. When I asked them, an anonymous source said that they had been bullied and that he was “in the bathroom, and these two guys cornered me and took turns punching me” the source also said that when he was in elementary school “it [bullying] was not dealt with accordingly” and should be stopped in it’s tracks here at Parker. If this bullying continues, the amount of suicides each year in the US, potentially, could start to skyrocket. That is truly scary to lots of people. Parker is a very nice school and if we make it a safer environment where people feel they can openly express themselves then people will want to go to school as well. 

        If you are being bullied just know that you are not alone. Many people may have said this to you in your lifetime but it is still true. If you are being bullied it “should be reported to the administration or teacher as soon as possible” as stated by the Parker Middle School Handbook. Or if you feel confident enough even confront the bully that has been troubling you. Also you can anonymously submit a report at http://reading.k12.ma.us/Bullying/BullyingReport.htm Again please don’t feel like your alone. You have an army surrounding you. Bullies please know that we are going to get you and bullying will be stopped.

by Aymon L., 7th Grade

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Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Everyone knows it. Just about everyone dreads it. The MCAS began on March 18th 2014. To kick off the two weeks of pure torture, the DESE decided to jump right in with the long composition for the 7th grade. Students in Mr. Mac’s homeroom before the testing were reminding themselves of the “MCAS Slogan” which by their thinking is “Massachusetts Child Abuse System.”

While there are some kids who hate it there are also kids who think it is OK. When asked how he felt about the MCAS, Ryan Dieselman said “Um…good I guess.” He also said that he was “not that nervous” about the upcoming reading comprehension testing on March 21st 2014.  Most students do not worry about it too much because although it reflects on student and school data, it doesn’t count for a grade. That’s a good thing.

The DESE, as they have shown, like things very straight and no questions asked. They have even developed a script which we all know all too well by now. A teacher can either introduce this in a way that makes the test stressful, or they can be more reassuring and calm. In my testing environment things were much more relaxed. This does not mean we got to talk or anything but no one was all that uptight about it.

I believe for students to do well there needs to be a little more flexibility. Without flexibility it truly does feel like a life and death situation.

A Piece of Fan Fiction by Beth M., 8th  Grade

I never anticipated being caught by a teacher, they were all so oblivious. I was terrified. I slowly turned around and expected to see Mrs. O’Neil, a lanky, curmudgeonly old woman. To my relief, I realized the hand didn’t belong to a teacher, but to a student. I recognized him from my art class. He was a quiet boy who always managed to wear blue, wether it be a t shirt or hoodie. He wasn’t like the other students; he didn’t get into all the drama of high school? I had always noticed him sitting alone, keeping to himself. “Um, hello Anna.” said the boy. “W-Where are you going?”


I stood there, unsure of what to say. What if he ratted me out to the teachers? I would surely be suspended, or worse. “I… Um…” The boy cut me off. “You were going to run away, weren’t you?” he asked eagerly. “Oh I’ve always wanted to leave this town behind!” he exclaimed passionately. Then his face brightened “We could run away together!” I skeptically raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know…” “Oh c’mon! It’ll be fun!” I looked into the boy’s eyes and saw his genuine enthusiasm. I impulsively gave in. “Alright. I guess it would be cool to run away with a buddy…” He immediately shook my hand. “I’m Invy!” “Invy… That’s an odd name.” I smiled “I like it. It’s nice to meet you Invy” I started. “And as much as I would love to stay here and continue chatting, I think it’s about time we get going.” He grinned and we left in silence. We knew nobody would notice.
A piece of fan fiction by Beth M., 8th Grade


MFile:Leafy suburban street - geograph.org.uk - 170142.jpgonotonous. Tiring. Exasperating. This is how I would describe my life before everything changed. Before my life turned upside down. Before I met him.


It was a typical Monday, or at least that’s how it started. I was forced to wake up at 6:15. I dread mornings. I rolled out of bed and my feet thumped against the wooden floor. As I slowly trudged down the hallway and into the kitchen, I tried to rub the sleep out of my tired eyes. I plunked myself in front of the kitchen table and wearily glanced at my breakfast. Nothing. I sighed and realized that my parents weren’t home. They were already tackling their busy schedules and were probably driving off to work. I slowly rose out of my seat, and made my way back to my room to get ready for school.


I got my backpack and left my normal, boring blue house, made my way down the driveway and walked to school. I was walking to prison. As I walked, I kept thinking, “Is this really my life? Is every day gonna be the same?” I was an outsider, I was alone, I wanted to escape.


I arrived to school at 7:40, right on time. I tried to pass the time during each class sketching in the margins of my notebooks. I had always loved to draw, and drawing was my only escape from my formerly tedious lifestyle. I would fish out my favorite red pen from my pencil case and stare into the margins of my paper, pondering on what to create. I would start off with eyes. First making them human, but as I got more comfortable, I would make them look more imaginary and surreal. Sometimes I would draw characters from my favorite childhood shows. They had always reminded me of a simpler, happier time. My favorite things to draw in my notebook were shapes. Elaborate, never ending shapes that would curl and zigzag and straighten and then curve back again. After I created the unique shapes, I would try to find objects in them and make them stand out. Sometimes I saw puppies, or goats, sometimes I even saw faces. I would have pages and pages of doodles and sketches in my binders, sometimes I would turn to a fresh page for notes and found drawing that I did weeks ago. These always made me smile. After three solid hours of doodling to my heart’s content, I left class for lunch.


I entered the cafeteria and my nose automatically cringed at the acrid odor that filled the room. It was fish taco day, and knowing that if it was being served at my school, it would be nowhere close to edible. Have you ever seen multicolored chicken nuggets or hot dogs that bounce if you drop them? That’s what my school calls “lunch”. I’m pretty sure any kid would rather eat prison food than eat our school lunches. I sat by myself like always, and I felt like a nobody. Little did I know that that would soon change.


After lunch, we were all corralled outside. Even though I was in high school, they still insisted on having a short break outdoors. The field where we were forced to kill 15 minutes was wide open, right next to the road. Someone could literally walk away. I always wondered why nobody ever thought to leave. The teachers were never attentive, so you could just walk down the street and go into town. It would be a perfect way to get out of class. Yet, everybody just stood in their groups and passed the time with their friends. Not one person was near the edge of the street. I kept gazing past the boundary of the field, and saw the open road. It would only take me 15 minutes to get to my house, and I doubted the people would figure out where I had gone.


That’s what I decided to do. I needed a change in my life. I couldn’t just be stuck here for the rest of my life. I ventured over to the edge where the sidewalk met the grass, and I looked back. Everyone was minding their own business, and the teachers were preoccupied. I stepped over the line, and my heart started racing. I couldn’t believe what I was doing, I was always a good student, but something about me had changed. I suddenly didn’t care about any of these people. My teachers can only get me so far in life, and I was old enough to have the information and skills to be out on my own. As for the students here, well, they never cared much for me. I started to take my first steps to freedom, but suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. I froze.

by Matthew A., 8th Grade

Ever hear the saying ‘anything is possible?’ Some people doubt that, but famous actress Valerie Harper proved that anything is possible. This biography will show you how Valerie Harper proves anything is possible.

She was born in Suffern, New York in august 22, 1930. In her early years, she lived in South Orange, New Jersey. Then she moved to Pasadena California, Monroe Michigan, Ashland Oregon, and Jersey City New Jersey all by age 13. She wanted to be a dancer. She was inspired by 1948 British ballet The Red Shoes. She started to take ballet lessons. When her parents wanted to move to Oregon, Harper stayed and went to Manhattan’s School of Young Professionals.

Harper’s dancing career began at the Corps De Ballet at age 16. After that Harper appeared in Michael Kidd’s plays as a dancer. In 1970, Harper was cast in the Mary Tyler Moore show, despite having no acting experience. She played Rhoda, a next door neighbor to Mary. She won three Emmys for best supporting actress. In 1974, she got her own spinoff, Rhoda.  She won another Emmy for best actress. In 1980, NBC has given her own show, Valerie. Later on that year, NBC fired Valerie for no reason, so she sued NBC for wrongfully dismissal. She won this fight and had NBC change the name of her show to The Hogan Family.

In 2006, Harper returned to Broadway in Gloria’s Balcony.  Also in 2010 she appeared in the play Looped.

But in early 2013, Harper was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. Doctors said that she had three to six months to live.

By August, Harper received some great news. Her doctor says that her cancer was close to remission. Ever since then, Harper is trying to buy time. She is currently on Dancing with the Stars. She dances among the likes of Bill Nye the Science Guy and Jack Osborne.

Valerie Harper is an inspiration to us all. She’s a hero.

A Furry Friend Forever

by Molly O., 8th Grade

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Photo Courtesy of Botaurus

Who doesn’t look forward to a loyal dog’s excitement on sight, a sweet cat curling up on your lap after a long day, even the calming presence of a smooth fish showing off its beautiful fins? Many people benefit every day from simply loving an animal companion. Whether your furry friend helps build up your immune system, keep you company, or reduce stress, you will be doing yourself a favor just by keeping them.

It’s often assumed that being around furry animals on a daily basis will increase the likelihood of allergies, asthma, and other related issues. That is the opposite of the truth. Researcher James E. Gern writes that “a growing number of studies have suggested that kids growing up in a home with “furred animals,” (whether it’s a pet cat or dog, or on a farm and exposed to large animals) will have less risk of allergies and asthma.” Children should be exposed to animals regularly in order to build up their immune systems.

If you are living alone, or work at home, you may be in need of some company.Elderly people can benefit from having a pet around to care for and love. “Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home,” says Lynette Hart, PhD, associate professor at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. During hours in a home office, you may want at least a fish on your desk to watch whenever you need relaxation. Some jobs may even allow you to bring your small fish or obedient dog in to the work space.

The most common health benefit of having a pet is stress relief. Research shows that pets can help lower blood pressure and decrease anxiety. Having a dog to play with or a cat to stroke can help many people get through life’s difficulties. This is why many programs that bring pets into stressful places are. Owning pets is great because after a long stressful day of work, they will be there waiting for you. Preforming tasks to care for your animal can help keep you focused. If you are considering adopting a pet of any kind, factor in the health benefits before making your decisions. You and your family could improve your life style and stay happier and healthier. Whether it’s a small hamster or an energetic horse, you would most likely be better off with than without.