Sunday, June 8, 2014

Final Post Whoooo

1.  My overall experience with 20 Time was positive for the most part.  The project allowed me to discover many new things about myself which has been without a doubt my favorite part of the assignment.  I wouldn't have realized how important writing is to me so soon, which is something that's helped me in so many ways this year.

2.  However, I would definitely change a few things for next years students.  To begin, I would make some sort of benchmark system throughout the year.  Maybe when kids are choosing their topics they should make three big goals with dates that they aim to hit (they can be in flux with the student's project as well)...without this, there is no real structure to the project.  I know the whole idea was "it's okay to fail" but many students took advantage of this and didn't do much with their projects.  In addition, it's hard to organize such a big project and I think benchmarks would really help with the progress of 20 Time.  Along with this, I would have monthly checkups with students to see how their projects are going, and I really liked in class how we started sharing a quick summary of how our projects were going.  I would keep doing that next year, but start at the beginning.  Until then, I didn't really know much about other people's projects, and I think supporting your peers is another important aspect of the project that wasn't really seen until the end of the year with the presentations.  Lastly, I would not have a Ted talk...or at least not the weekend before finals.  I thought it was very impractical that we were expected to be there for seven hours, and I also don't think that high schoolers are ready to be giving Ted talks.  I liked the presentation aspect, just not the Ted part.

3.  I think the presentation was the biggest aspect of 20 Time that should not be changed.  It was where you saw everybody step up and share their passions - it was great.  Plus, as 15 and 16 year olds, many of us had not had any experience public speaking so I think this was a smart way to begin.  I also liked how we could choose our own topics and change them.  A lot of times your first idea of a project just doesn't work and I think that having to stick with it for the entire year would be awful, so I thought the flexibility of the project was one of its stronger suits as well.

4.  Yes and no.  I think a lot of students would take advantage of 20 Time the way it is now, so maybe if it was fine tuned a bit.  I would love to see schools systems giving students more ways to be creative in core classes, like how this project did, but I also wouldn't want it to take away from my overall education.  I think this project took too much time from English class and I lost some of the fundamentals I needed before stepping into an AP classroom next maybe if 20 Time switched hours every week or if you could elect to take a class for it then it would work out.

5.  I would say...don't pick a project that seems like an easy success.  Don't be afraid to pick a project outside of your comfort zone because even if you fail, you'll learn a tremendous amount about yourself and that's worth more than anything.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Presentation Reflection

After practicing my speech about twenty times, I got up on the stage Friday and shared.  A surge of nervousness surged through me, and despite how many practice runs I went through in front of my mom, Mr. P, and friends, being up on stage in front of a large number of your peers is much more nerve-racking...especially when you're sharing something so personal.  To get up in front of my class and talk about my depression and to share my poetry was one of the more difficult things I've had to do in my life...and I can't say I feel to great about it.  I mean, I'm glad it's over, I'm just really regretting my choice of topic.  

As for everybody else's presentations, I really enjoyed watching and listening to what they had to say!  It made me feel reassured to see that everybody else was nervous just like me, and the content was great too.  I guess I just don't understand how some are going to be Ted talks..don't get me wrong, everybody did a fantastic job, but we are all inexperienced when it comes to public speaking.  When I think of Ted, I think of some of the world's most renowned people talking about their passions in an eloquent way..I don't think of a bunch of high schoolers talking about how a school project influenced them.  

But anyways, I'm excited to see the rest of the presentations this week; I'm sure everybody will be amazing!  

Sunday, May 11, 2014


These past two weeks have been all about ideas for my presentation.  I've been trying to jot down ideas I have throughout the day, or pieces I want to incorporate into the beginning poem, and so far it's been going well!  I'm hoping to sit down one day this week to organize my thoughts and put the poem and slides together.

I've decided to go with a rainbow theme for my slides.  As my presentation unfolds, the colors will change and give more knowledge and information to listeners until they finally see the overall message, the rainbow, at the end.  I know it seems a little cheesy, but I really didn't have any other ideas for my slides.  I figured the colors would be a smart way to remind myself to transition in a subtle way.  In my speech, I'm going to begin with my poem and then move into introducing myself and telling my story...however, my story isn't exactly a "story" it's more just my experiences.  I'm planning on talking about my issues and some of the ways that my writing helped me get through the tough times.  I'm also going to incorporate depression into this section before transitioning into my next section entirely devoted to addressing depression and the hardships high schoolers face on a day to day basis.  This section will hopefully show my listeners that life is always in flux...every up has a down and every tear contains a perfectly imperfect balance of joy and sorrow.  Life is not going to be perfect or easy, but as long as you have some sort of faith, a light will shine through the darkness.

So this week my goal is to sit down and plan out my speech!  By the end of next weekend I should be done with the presentation (done as in ready to practice, practice, and practice some more before I actually give it.)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Finding My Passion

Going into Spring Break, I had high expectations about how much I was going to work on my project.  I didn't quite accomplish all that I had hoped, however I did a lot of brainstorming and thinking about my presentation.

I began by trying to get some ideas through the "Talk like Ted" book that my teacher had recommended.  To be honest, there was so much information in the book that it was a bit, a lot of the content was aimed for more experienced speakers.  Much of what the author was explaining wasn't relatable to what my presentation guidelines were, however I still have taken away a lot from the book thus far.  I love how the author put a page in the back linking the Ted Talks that she references; that really was a huge help to me and I loved going and watching the presentations if the topics interested me.  And many of the main ideas were helpful as well.  One of the biggest lessons I learned from reading is that passion is key; if you're not passionate about what you're talking about then you minus well not talk at all.  This really made me rethink my idea and to tailor it so that it hits my  passion.  I only made it through about three or four chapters so far; I'm continuing to skim my way through the book, taking notes on important aspects of each chapter.  

As I mentioned before, I did tweak my presentation idea a bit.  Instead of talking broadly about how everybody should find their outlet, I decided to direct my focus on teens with depression/low self esteem/anything of the sort.  Anybody can find an hobby or outlet and use it to their benefit, but I've personally experienced how writing has altered my life and how began to lift me out of this pit of gloom.  I think sharing my story and relating to other teenagers who feel the same is vital; helping them through this difficult time and reminding them that they aren't alone is my passion.  I want to reach out to others and offer ways for them to cope with their feelings and recommend some type of release for them.  For me, it's writing...I know many others who draw, read, make music, and even who just talk to make themselves feel a little bit better.  If I can help just one person by making them feel less alone, then my job is complete...

This week I'm going to focus on creating slides to go with my presentation outline!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Beginning of the End

Presentation time!  It's weird to think that the end of the year is coming so fast... From now on, I'm going to focus most of my time on the structure and slides for my presentation.  It's coming up very quickly and the more I do to prepare the better.  I'm leaning towards starting the speech with a longer poem than I usually writing focusing on what I've learned about myself through this project.  I think this would be a more unique way to approach it, since many of my classmates will begin with a simple introduction.  So I'm going to work on the poem these next upcoming weeks; hopefully it will end up being about 1-2 minutes.  As for slides during this, I was thinking about beginning with just a simple black then slowly transitioning by having a beaming light shine through.  This would represent the brightness poetry brings upon my life and how it has allowed me to flourish in multiple ways.  Then, I'm going to introduce myself talk about how this year I have become a more decisive person by making decisions that I have always been too afraid to make (i.e. quitting swimming, standing up for myself in regards to friends, and even trying new things like volunteering).  The next step would be to link 20 Time and poetry to the success I've had.  I'm going to talk about how everybody should have the opportunity to relinquish their feelings and think outside of the ordinary.  A lot of times as students, we are pressured to be this perfect person.  As we try to form ourselves to please everybody else, we lose our originality.  At least I know I lost my passion for a couple years when I stopped writing which allowed me to contemplate all my options.  So this will be the main idea of my speech: to incorporate a balance in your life and that it's okay to be your own person and differ from the normal.

I also wanted to include two of the other gothic pieces I wrote.  I don't think they are the best poetry I've written, but they do mark me challenging myself and stepping out of my comfort zone.  I normally would have never tried to write something like this, and I am proud of myself for stepping up to the challenge and trying, even if the result wasn't quite what I was hoping.  Here they are:


Thunder booms shaking the wobbly house
He stays concealed in the dark room
Only a single light beams

His eyes scan the text made visible from the candle
He can hear the wind whipping outside
Hissing at his comfortableness

As he reads he commemorates
The love he felt blossoming in his stomach
Making him feel rich and whole

He remembers her soft skin
He can still feel her tender hand
Stroking his chiseled jaw

He recalls her laugh bursting with life
How he naively believed that
Nothing could ever tear them apart

Until the night where the devil appeared
Knocking at his door
Cunningly tantalizing him

His faithfulness instantly dissolved
Lust prevailed
Clouding his judgement

In the midst of this sin
She appeared at the door
Watching in horror

As his eyes glanced up
To meet her astonished look
She bolted

He quickly scampered out of bed
Throwing on clothes
Desperate to find her

As he headed towards the woods
Running to catch up
His heart pounding

Panic washed over him
Confusion entered his brain
Where did she go?

He stopped and listened closely
He heard a faint crumpling of leaves
Followed by a distant splash

He sprinted towards the lake
In the far west end of the forest
But it was too late

She had positioned a rock above her
Then slid into the frigid water
Suffocating to her death

His head began to throb
His eyes filled with tears
His stomach erupted with guilt

As the memory plays back in his head
The old man reading her letter
Begins to sob loudly

Even when the door to his room creaked open
He continued to wail
Oblivious to the figure creeping in front of him

Her eyes blazed with fury
Her hands were soaked with blood
And hanging out of her pocket was a garrotte

Suddenly the crying stopped
His eyes lit up
“Adrestia?” he whispered

A glimmer of excitement
Mixed with utter confusion
Were in his voice as he spoke her name

A sly smirk slithered onto her face
She inched closer
“Say it like you mean it” she cunningly demanded

Before completing his proclamation
She had swiftly reached the garrote around his neck

She chuckled as his eyes bulged out of their sockets
And as his heart ceased to beat
She murmured to his corpse “karma always conquers”

Manic Frenzy

As I try to disappear into slumberous thoughts
An unsettling noise creeps through my ears and into my brain
Every relaxed muscle in my body becomes alert
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

My head sways back and forth like a metronome
Every second elongates and is absorbed into my body
I feel my eyes roll back into their sockets as time dominates me
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

The blood in my wrists pulsate
A certain lust for pain emerges in the depths of my stomach
My body stirs and arises from the cold ground
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

The jagged floor pierces my bare feet
My eyes are blood red flaming with anguish and desire
My body continues to sway left and right
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

As I continue forth, the sound gets louder
My heart races and my palms begin to sweat in a maniacal manner
The tempo  rushing through my veins rapidly accelerates
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Suddenly there is a wall in front of me
My hands are clawing upward
My feet are throbbing to the beat
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

The top of the blockade is brimming with ruination
Jagged pieces of metal protrude
Temping me
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

My finger gently caresses a point
A bead of blood appears
A grin creeps onto my chapped lips
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

I press the metal into my wrist
A deep red blood oozes out
My heart beats mirroring the melody pounding in my head
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

As the ticking escalates, I rip out my hair chunk by chunk
My tongue salivates as I bite my own skin
My body throbs to the rhythm
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

A bright light then becomes visible
I look down to see a blurred image I cannot recognize
I hear a mumble
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

The fuzziness continues to wash over me
But one thought is apparent:
I must complete my task, I must not surrender
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

And so I angle myself to the perfect position
And jab my left breast into the stinging metal
Blood gushes
Tick Tock, Tick Tock

My vision blurs into the darkness
My lungs gasp for more air
The ticking slows
Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Darkness Prevails
As my body fades into nothingness
My bloody remains float away
Never to be seen again

However on the windiest nights
If you listen ever so closely
A faint ticking noise can be heard
Along with the whisper “Tick Tock, Tick Tock”


Friday, March 21, 2014


Theme of the week is gothic literature!  In class, we just wrapped up gothic lit and Poe has actually been an interesting influence in my poetry.  After completing a 2000 word essay analyzing his work, I've learned a lot about Poe and love his work.  I could go on and on gushing about how precise and vivid his word choice is, how intense his plots are, and how flawlessly he incorporates literary techniques.  He's just awesome, and has inspired me to create some poetry revolving around the theme of death and darkness. Here is one of the shorter poems I wrote:

As darkness emerges
A figure appears
Creeping closer and closer
Until his ominous gaze
Meets my wobbly presence 

Suddenly I can’t breathe
There’s a dark hand grabbing
Clasping my neck
Eliminating my breath
His eyes are glistening

Dizziness washes over me
My body crashes to the floor
His hands are off
Yet his gaze perpetuates
As if he’s reading my soul

Something shiny appears
Along with a smile on his face
He steps forward
Crouches down
Winks and stabs

My eyes bulge 
His glisten
My throat bursts with noise
His chuckles
My brain explodes with blackness
His undoubtedly feels satisfied
My body lays
His disappears into the darkness 

I'm planning on creating more gothic poetry; I'm going to focus this upcoming week on creating a longer, more intense gothic poem.  I've noticed that lately my poetry has been more stress relieving than creative, and I think this would be an interesting opportunity for me to step outside the box and try something different.  I really want to incorporate more creative tactics back into my work.  I used to always use symbolism to mirror my actual feelings, but lately I've just been simply writing how I feel.  I leaned towards symbolism a little more in the poem above, but I want to create something much more intricate, and this will be my goal for the next two weeks! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014


In sixth grade, my English teacher really encouraged creative writing and always gave extra credit poetry assignments, which I took advantage of.  And recently, I came across some of my old poetry from they class.  Before re-reading some of the old work, I braced myself expecting the worst, but I was astounded at how well written and deep my work actually was.  I would have never thought a ten/eleven year old would be able to create something so substantial.  My teacher gave us the freedom to explore writing however we wanted, and it showed in my work.  However, throughout the next few years the curriculum was strictly essay based and I didn't have that poetry outlet because I never really thought about writing on my own.  During those years, my life was a little messy and I truly did need something to release my feelings since talking about my issues seemed out of the question.  I didn't know how to deal with my feelings or with everything that was happening.  Throughout the beginning years of high school I began to write again and many answers to my questions became clear.  I finally had a sense of what I wanted towards the end of the year.  Whenever I came across an obstacle, I would grab a piece of paper and a pen and everything would feel a little bit better after.  If I would have had the encouragement throughout seventh and eighth grade to write my feelings than things might have been easier for me.  I'm not saying that writing is everybody's outlet, but I believe that kids should be pushed to find some type of release, whether it be writing, drawing, making music, running, etc.  That's going to be the premise of my speech...the fact that kids need to be taught that life isn't always going to be easy and that's normal.  What isn't normal or healthy is bottling your feelings and never talking about the past.  The past doesn't define you, but your reactions to the past do.  

Anyways, I'd like to share some of my work that eleven year old Jen composed:

Tears begin as lost love. Love being ripped apart or love
Eluding into darkness, disappearing forever.  Crying
As your loved one tears apart from you or as they hit everlasting unconsciousness.  
Rushing to the hospital, your eyes are filled with salty teardrops. Bawling your eyes out over an emotional movie or sobbing over a heart wrenching book.  With love comes
Death.  With death comes lost love.  With lost love comes a tear, 
Rushing down your cheek, burning your lips, as it rolls down your face.  As your
Only child is being diagnosed with a life threatening disease, your
Papa’s heart finally fails, or your frail pet gets hit by a car it’s natural to cry 
Salty tears all over again.

Crowded With Waves

Overflowing waves crash against sharp rocks
My head pounding with music
Day after Day

Thoughts flooding thorugh the ocean
Leaving me in an epic battle of waves
All alone

Dolphins dive deep to hard ocean floors
I dive deep into icy cold thoughts
Numbing my body

Flowing foamy water splashes
My calm nature bursts into crazy spastic essence
Within seconds

Waves grow weary as the sun sets 
My mind is working over time
All the time
Crowded with waves