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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

A Dream Coming True

by Erin H. – 8th Grade

The third Monday of each January is a federal holiday that most Americans enjoy as a day off from work or school. Often times, Americans spend this day sleeping in, going to the mall, or hanging out with friends, but the true meaning of this day is usually forgotten. This day celebrates the birth of one of the most powerful historical figures in the United States of America, Martin Luther King Jr. King is considered one of the most important leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In this speech, King envisioned the way people should be judged, by “the content of their character”, not by the color of their skin. Throughout the speech two main themes are presented about how people should be judged: without racial prejudice and equally.

King had a dream that no matter what race or ethnicity you are, you would only be judged by the way you act and your integrity, or your character. This was made clear in what may be the most famous line from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech. This line stated, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” His dream was for a world where it didn’t matter if you were black or white, dumb or smart, athletic or not athletic, fat or skinny; it only mattered if you were a good person. In addition, King believed all citizens of the United States of America should be “…guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” King said that according to the Declaration of Independence, all Americans were to receive these rights, but “…America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.” King needed these rights to be granted to every citizen in order for his dream to one day be fulfilled.

Today, if an outsider came into my hometown of Reading, I think they’d say we are an example of King’s dream coming true. Reading, like most American towns, attempts to hold itself accountable to King’s dream of ending racial prejudice and equality for all. In my thirteen years of living in Reading, I have never personally witnessed racial injustice or someone not being treated equally. This is not say that people don’t have preconceived opinions about whether or not others are kind or mean, smart or dumb, athletic or not, but this happens everywhere. Let’s face it, we live in an imperfect world; we don’t live in Utopia. Today, our society, including the citizens of Reading is focused a lot on the exterior, expecting people to look and act like celebrities, but if outsiders really looked closely at our community, they would say Reading’s character is great. I know many people, young and old, who are involved in programs such as Mission of Deeds, Adopt-a-Family, and Friends of Reading Recreation. All of these people are trying to make our town and the surrounding area a better place to live. Right here at Parker Middle School, many people are involved in the Parker Leadership and Service; or Parker News Live programs. All of the people involved in these programs have one intention: to make Parker and Reading a better place, therefore, I think Reading’s character would be judged favorably.

In my hometown, like many other places, you can see Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is coming true. People are no longer segregated or judged because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity. Now, everyone gets equal treatment when they go to school, shopping, or to a restaurant. However, there are still subtle messages of prejudice that people have towards others that they haven’t gotten to know. For example, if someone is very overweight, a person who just walks by him or her might think that the person is lazy. However, this person is probably not lazy, their weight is just something that they have struggled with for their whole life. Who knows if there will ever be a perfect world where there will be no prejudice or inequality, but today, we have come such a long way from 1963, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is finally coming true.

 

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Awareness

-by Olivia B., 7th Grade

Photo Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Look up to where the trees meet the sky.  See the beautiful clouds, like dove’s wings, embracing, covering the Earth, set against the dark, twisted branches.  Snow is falling lightly to the ground, softly, hushed.  The world is asleep.

See the crystallized branches, dripping with icicles, their diamonds.

Smell the balsam fir, that unique scent, spicy and minty and wintry and warm.

Stand back a little from the crowd, and listen.  What do you hear?

Silence is not quite as silent as you thought, is it?

Feel the icy cold, as your breathing makes little puffs in the air.  It makes your lungs freeze when you draw breath.

You hear a branch snap.  The crowd is moving on, and you must follow – but follow slowly.

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-by Simran P., 8th Grade

“Although I would never want to relive that period of time ever again, I am thankful that it has made me much more of a stronger human being”. Standing before a group of about seventeen to twenty students, Ji-li Jiang, author of Red Scarf Girl spoke these words with pride, courage, and no hesitation. I attentively listened, as the author retrieved her childhood, during China’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960′s. Her words were clear, as she explained the haunting memory of waking up to her mother ill, her grandmother weak, her father detained, and possibly even killed. Her family had faced peril every single day, and surviving a day without being tormented by the Red Guards would be considered, “a good day”. Ji-li had experienced such a difficult period of time, yet without a doubt, she agreed that the Cultural Revolution had shaped an unyielding, resolute woman out of her. By recieving a chance to meet Ji-li, I was able to determine that she is a hero within a victim of such an abominable period in history.

Before the assembly, I was having trouble connecting Ji-li’s situation, with another one that had ever took place in the past. I kept thinking, and it was only after Ji-li mentioned the terms “Chairman Mao” and “brainwashed”, that my mind was able to project on Hitler and the Holocaust. Like Hitler, Chairman Mao had manipulated many people to have them follow what he believed in. A majority of people forced themselves to believe that what both these powerful figures were causing was beneficial, while there were many people that disagreed, but wouldn’t dare to stand up and risk their lives to confront these persuasive tyrants. Chairman Mao and Hitler were lions, while the people were their prey. The only thing is, they both convinced others that they were their friends.

In sixth grade, I read a book called The Diary of Anne Frank. I felt like Ji-li and Anne lived through very similar situations. They were both forced to make sacrifices in order to protect themselves, as well as their families from getting killed. Every day, they would face fear, worries and emotional pain. They never thought that their lives would be that same, yet they knew that if they lost hope they would become even more weak and miserable. They were both victims of two horrific periods of time, and as they fought through tears and agony, they were redeeming themselves into heros.

It was an honor to be fortunate enough to meet Ji-li. I was able to hear her story, and truly be inspired. I believe that what she went through allows others to persevere when things are tough, and never lose hope. It is so wonderful that we are able to meet heros such as Ji-li, and Edgar Krasa that teach us that hard work, dedication, but most importantly, always believing in yourself can withstand the forceful power of any dictator. With determination, a victim can transform into a hero.

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-by Kelcey H., 8th Grade

It was then my eyes gazed upon a magnificent monument, all lit up under the night sky. I was swiped into history as I stood back to see. It hit me. This inner feeling that I cannot explain filled my stomach. It towered over us in its beauty and the message of freedom.

Above the statue, the monument states; “In this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.” All inside the walls of the Lincoln memorial.

Despite our fascinated faces, I could only pay attention to the words held inside. “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The powerful words out of one man’s mouth took me over as I found myself having to read every word on the wall. The speeches about freedom and justice made me feel like America is our home and our country.

To climb those stairs up to the monument seemed like a journey through time. Just to climb up to the top seemed to have the feeling of freedom. Faces lit up as people marveled over the statue of our former president. And even though I have already seen it years ago, I don’t think I was old enough to really understand how he effected America so greatly. To have a president full of ambition and fearlessness was what America needed to strive to move forward.

The statue itself is simply stunning and inspirational. Just by looking at it, sitting up high in its chair, shows the importance of this historical figure. The breathtaking view is absolutely incredible, but to actually experience seeing it yourself is much more rewarding.

Going to Washington broadened my understanding of how much has changed in America. And after going there I often find myself rethinking what had happened before our time.

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-by Walter G., 8th Grade

courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Have Boston’s streets ever hit you at the heart? Have they ever made you cry? Millions of people struggle in the streets of our cities. Homelessness is everywhere; it’s not an uncommon thing to see. Boston is where I live and I am not proud of what the economy and the world has done to most people. Lost jobs, incredible amounts of debt and when it’s all been said… no one volunteers to step in and help.

At the Holocaust Memorial I noticed a man sleeping on a bench in ragged clothing and I felt sorry and helpless towards him. This is where we live. And this is the place we call home. What is home? The clear definition is not as easy for those like the man sleeping on the bench. In their mind they simply need to survive.

The next time you feel pity amongst your existence or feel the world is falling down onto your shoulders, think about the ones who actually have the world on their shoulders. You could be one of those on the streets with a tin can, looking in the eyes of the people who throw you quarters or pennies. Think about your life and how lucky you are to be in the position you are in. Think about their lives. Who is there for them to reach out to?

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-by Grace T., 8th Grade

I took a deep breath and stepped forward into what felt like an entirely different world.

The rumble of cars and chattering of the crowd around me faded away, until the very air was still. A solemn hush settled over us. Although people pushed by me on all sides, some still whispering, I felt completely alone. Elegant glass towers stretched skyward; their transparent walls glinting. A calm garden of smooth stones surrounded us. Sunlight filtered through the glass, and below our feet there twinkled a thousand tiny lights; like stars in a midnight sky. There was a sense of serenity and fragility in the air; impossible to ignore and unthinkable to break. It was a beautiful and sacred place.

The walls of each tower were lined with chilling descriptions of the Concentration Camps, as well as millions upon millions of tiny numbers; one for each person whose life was claimed in that time of fear and chaos that we have come to know as the German Holocaust. My gaze fell upon a quote engraved in the glass: “My younger sister went up to a Nazi soldier with one of her friends. Standing naked, embracing each other, she asked to be spared. He looked into her eyes and shot the two of them. They fell together in their embrace- my sister and her young friend.” Upon reading this, I paused for a moment, and closed my eyes. People continued walking around me, the gentle summer breeze worked its way through my hair, and I was surprised to feel a tear slip down my cheek.

I am not Jewish. These were not my people. And still, I cried. I cried for the millions of people who lost their lives; victims of cruelty and injustice. I cried for the children who never lived to see adulthood. I cried for the families, friends, and lovers torn apart by the Nazi movement. And I even cried for the Nazis themselves; whose minds had been twisted and warped by the lies of Adolf Hitler. But tears of joy mingled with tears of sorrow, because I realized, as I stood there alone in the silence, that this beautiful memorial was concrete evidence that false truths and tragedy are always overshadowed by triumph, compassion, and love. And when I opened my eyes again, and felt a final tear trickle down my face, I didn’t wipe it away. I let it stay there, sparkling in the light of the sun.

Let it serve as a reminder to those who would otherwise forget.

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From the Stage

-by Grace T., 8th Grade

Anyone who has ever performed in a play will agree: there is something electrifying about opening night. Stealing onstage in the total darkness, the curtain closed, we are lost in a whirl of excited murmuring. A hush falls over us as the first, clear notes of Jenna’s violin float through the silence. There is that one final moment of raw, undiluted energy and excitement, before the curtain opens and we step forward beneath the lights. The rest of the night is a blur of music, color, dancing, and fun as the audience’s eyes are trained upon us, and we pretend not to notice a thing.

To perform in a show requires confidence, fearlessness, enthusiasm, and trust. The focus and energy it demands is unlike that of any other sport or activity that I have ever been a part of. To agree to be in a cast is to agree to spending long hours in the auditorium, sleepless nights completing overdue homework, and handling the pressure and intensity of the audition, callback, and performance without complaint. But it is something else as well. You see, to join a play is to open yourself to that rich, emotional, and unforgettable display of unbridled freedom, self-expression, and joy that can only be found in one place in the world: the theatre.

On March 3rd, 4th, and 5th, the W.S Parker Middle School Drama Club, despite numerous conflicts and obstacles, managed to pull together three extremely fun and entertaining productions of Fiddler on the Roof Jr. I think we are all very proud of what we managed to accomplish in a much shorter space of time than what we have grown accustomed to. At first, I confess, I didn’t expect much out of us. We were one very loud group of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, crammed onto what started to feel like one very small stage. Not many people seemed to be taking the play seriously, and snow days were erasing huge portions of our rehearsal calendar. It didn’t seem possible that we would be able to produce anything even remotely similar to the renowned Broadway classic.

However, as is often the case, my worries were soundly contradicted by the determination, effort, and all-around talent of the entire cast. This, coupled with the enthusiasm and much-tried patience of our director, music director, and choreographer, resulted in an impressive and memorable show that I was extremely proud to be a part of. But it was the experience of performing—along with the rest of the eighth-grade cast—in my final Parker play, that made Fiddler on the Roof Jr. truly unforgettable.

You see, something else happened this year; something different. I couldn’t quite tell you what it was. But between hard work, hard dances, memorization, competition, scripted chaos, legitimate chaos, cast parties, videotaping, and betting on the Bottle Dancers, I noticed something else beginning to take place. Before anybody had realized exactly what was happening, a bond more powerful and poignant than I could possibly have imagined had somehow formed between us.

In the hallways of Parker, we were friends. But as soon as we entered the auditorium, we were family. I have been in numerous theatrical productions, but never before have I been so sorry to see one end. I watched from the beginning as new talents surfaced, as unlikely friendships were formed, and as the bittersweet realization that this was our last Parker play gradually descended upon us. I saw more kindness and creativity in that one group of people than I would have dreamed existed there. And when tragedy struck, in the form of the death of our friend’s mother, I watched as the entire eighth-grade Fiddler cast pulled even closer together in order to support her.

In this display of selflessness, friendship, and love, I realized just how close we had all become. In times of hardship and confusion, we put on a show about faith, hope, family, and love under even the hardest of circumstances.

And that, I believe, is what made our production of Fiddler on the Roof Jr. such an incredible and deeply emotional experience that none of us will soon forget.

L’chaim.

Link to Grace’s cast and crew video

From the Seats

-by Drew J., 8th Grade

I was lucky enough to get tickets to the Friday night showing of Parker Middle School’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. Let’s start with the flaws – there were none. If someone forgot one of their lines or actions then it was unnoticeable. If it weren’t for the familiar faces and the height difference, you would have thought it was a High School performance – seriously. It was that good.

The actors are like the flesh of a performance. They are what you see on stage. They do the dancing, singing and acting. But what if a person went around with just they’re skin? Well, technically they couldn’t but it would look very messy and unorganized. That’s where the crew comes in. They’re like the bones and muscles of a performance. They provide the music, the lighting, the sets, the make-up – they do everything besides doing the actors’ jobs. The lighting was always perfect – never too bright or too dim – and the music was always at an audible level. The run crew did an amazing job too. I couldn’t imagine running around, bringing out props, switching the back drop, bringing in props and getting off stage in less than 30 seconds. They seemed to know exactly what they were doing.

I was surprised to see the turn out. I knew that a lot of people were pumped up to see the play, but I never expected to see every seat taken. It just shows how much the town of Reading cares about their fellow students, friends, family and overall community. It reminds me of last years’ talent show. Even if someone made a mistake, we would all cheer them on. That’s what it was like in the auditorium Friday night – without the mistakes part. My good friend Willy played the lead role of Tevye, so when he took his bow, my friend and I yelled his name and guess what – I could barely hear myself. It was deafening. When I left the auditorium, I looked down at my stinging hands. They were actually red from clapping so hard.

It was a great performance and I wish I could see it again. It was my first time at a Parker musical. Even though I’m in eighth grade and will become a freshmen at the high school next year, I will definitely be coming back to see another performance. I just hope that they have what it takes to top it.

I guess, in one sentence, I could say that I had a blast.

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