Farewell to High School
Well, the end of my senior year is now here. Still, it’s kinda hard for me to fully realize that. It’s like my head tells me that this is the end of the school year, but my heart feels differently about it. My high school career was already a bit unusual, considering how it wasn’t until my junior year that I started going full-time from being previously homeschooled. But now, my time at WHS is cut even shorter by the closure due to the coronavirus.
Because I haven’t been in the public school system my whole life, I sometimes think that this recent change hasn’t been as hard on me as it has for others. eLearning has a lot of similarities to my homeschooling days. As March turned to April and the chances of WHS reopening disappeared, I really started to realize how much I truly missed it. Not being able to give the usual farewell to my teachers and peers is one of the things that bums me the most. With that in mind, I write this blog so I can share a little appreciation and send a goodbye to my high school and the people who made it so special.
I first want to say goodbye to all the teachers and staff that have been there for me the past couple of years. I’m so grateful for how you always listened to me, understood my struggles, and helped me out when I needed it. Every class was a unique experience that I will always treasure. BJJTV especially has been special to me and a highlight of my senior year.
I also want to give a shout out to the cafeteria workers, janitors, and support staff who were there every day to care for us. You are all appreciated for your dedication.
And, finally, I want to say goodbye to all my fellow students and friends who were with me everyday. It’s really hard to realize that some of them I won’t see very much anymore, if ever again. I remember when I first started my junior year and was unfamiliar with almost everybody. As time moved on, I became more and more connected with my peers and formed some really cool friendships. My best memories of high school are the ones that I shared with my friends.
Did senior year end like how I was expecting or wanting? No. But every struggle, including this one, has been an opportunity that I can learn from and find strength in. It doesn’t take away from all the good times that I’ve experienced and that are still to come.
I’m really thankful for what the staff of Washington High School has done to make the best of our current situation. I look forward to our postponed graduation because late is better than never. I am thankful our school is attempting to give us one despite the circumstances.
This is the end of one chapter of my life, but the next one is ready to be seized. I can’t wait.
In this time of uncertainty and fear due to the coronavirus, many questions have been raised about the virus’ origins, effects, and the government’s response to it. These questions have recently generated various conspiracy theories about COVID-19. Sometimes these “theories” are built on inaccurate data and misinformation.
To be honest, I often find conspiracy theories exciting. They try to uncover the hidden secrets and motivations behind actions and events. However, they’re called “theories” for a reason, because that’s all they are until they can be proven, if that’s even possible. Sometimes they are proven to be true, but until that point, they should not be treated as facts.
And here lies the problem with these current “coronavirus conspiracies.” Right now there is a lot we don’t know. Medical experts are still trying to understand the virus and find a cure. News headlines keep sharing new developments about the virus, like how it started. Was it released from a lab, caused by eating certain animals, or a combination of the two? Right now there are still many details that are not certain, so being excessively confident that your “conspiracy” is true is just wishful thinking.
There are real consequences to propagating these conspiracies as “news.” For example, one of the conspiracies links the new 5G mobile network to spreading the coronavirus. The claim is that 5G technology somehow weakens the human body so that the virus can take over easier. Even though no proper evidence has come forward to support this theory, arson and vandalism against radio towers and telecom gear have been reported across Britain.
Many groups have tried to combat this spread of misinformation by providing accurate data based on what we do know. One example is the Poynter Institute’s database that collects inaccurate findings connected to COVID-19. Here is the link: https://www.poynter.org/ifcn-covid-19-misinformation/
At this time, I believe the most healthy approach is to not make assumptions and having an alert eye to watch what’s going on around you. Try to find resources that you can trust and don’t accept everything unquestionably. There is a cool quote that I read in a book long ago (Crispin The Cross of Lead by Avi). It reads: “The greater a man’s...ignorance of the world, the more certain he is that he sits in the center of that world.”
My Bird Craze
I believe it was around 2009 that a new personal interest started to develop in my eight-year-old life. I wanted to study animals, in particular, birds. What gave me this inspiration you might ask? I imagine that a big animal encyclopedia that I began to dig into had something to do with this new passion. The book had countless entries of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and everything in between. I was fascinated with it all, but I wanted to delve in more. That is when I began to pay closer attention to what was happening in my backyard.
There was one bird feeder in the middle of the yard that attracted a fair amount of sparrows and finches, and robins would dart around the ground. Blue jays and cardinals would also fly around the bushes.
However, there were a couple birds that I didn’t really recognize. I looked into my animal guides, and I saw a match. The little grey and white birds were called dark-eyed juncos, or more practically named “snowbirds.” This small discovery sparked a desire to identify more birds and see as many animals as I could in the wild, like the ones I saw in my books. Thus, a virtual treasure hunt was born.
My brother also began to have an equal interest in animals that I had, and my parents enabled us to pursue it. New bird feeders were brought to our yard to attract more species of birds. We received a book detailing every species of bird in America. We learned about how some species of birds were invasive to native kinds, like house sparrows or starlings, and that changing the type of food we put out would discourage those species from sticking around. Any rare and unique bird that we spotted we would record in a little journal, with the intention of identifying perhaps hundreds of different species.
Our search for birds and other animals gave us a stronger motivation to get out and explore Missouri’s parks and forests. During a couple of winters, we traveled near the Missouri and Mississippi River Confluence (where the two rivers meet) to see all the migratory waterbirds flock around the surrounding ponds. There were often many eagles spotted there, too.
We became too good at this, it seemed that anywhere we went we noticed birds. Whenever we traveled out of state, we observed all the different birds that don’t live around Missouri, but were common in that particular state.
One of my best memories was having two bird enthusiasts come over to our house and tag some of the songbirds to see if they would come back to the particular area. To say our interest in birding was strong is an understatement!
Years go by, and passions change. I don’t do all the bird journaling that I once did, or actively search for new species, but that doesn’t mean my love of birds has changed. I believe I have a better appreciation for the outdoors now than I would have ever had, and sitting outside watching birds still fills me with pleasure.
In fact, during the writing of this blog post, I’m sitting outside watching finches sip water out of the bird fountain, and a blue jay angrily announcing its presence to the world. Even though it’s been a while since I’ve looked in a bird guide, I’m confident that I could correctly identify almost any bird picture shown to me as long as it is an American species. I am not so sure I could identify every bird in the world, but perhaps one day I will get there!
Do Video Games Cause Violence?
Video games and the culture around them have been a part of my life for a long time. That is why the claim that video games cause or inspire violence is one that is of concern to me. While gaming addiction is one of the clearly-seen negative effects that has affected some, the idea that video games inspire real-life acts of violence is a much more scary, but debatable, topic.
The idea that video games cause violence doesn't seem too far fetched. Video games can be violent, graphic and realistic, not to mention that some of them allow or even encourage bad actions inside the game. The fear is that this could desensitize people to violence, and the added element of being part of the game makes it more immersive than just watching a movie.
While video games could play a part in some people's aggression, it doesn't help if we just blame video games for violence when there are many bigger factors involved. The motivations of people are complicated. It is also clear that the majority of people can see the difference between the virtual world and reality. They would never do in real life what they would do in a video game, because it's so different.
Right now, the research on the issue is pretty mixed and lacking a definite answer to the question. An interesting idea that has been explored is whether video games actually decrease real-life violence, as aggression is channeled in games rather than at other people.
I hope and pray that smart and caring decisions are made to end needless violence throughout the world. There is no easy answer, and it is something that we have dealt with and will continue to deal with.
I believe video games do not have to be a problem, but a tool to help people connect and learn alongside other gamers, all while becoming better people in the process. I myself have actually developed patience from playing difficult games, and persevering to the end. I know video games have been a source of joy for myself and for the friends and family that played together with me.
Never Too Small to Make
a Difference: Greta Thunberg
I believe it was from USA Today that I first learned about Greta Thunberg, or at least noticed her enough to remember. It was an airing of the speech she gave during the U. N. Climate Summit on September 23, 2019. Even though I found out that she has been making headlines since 2018, it wasn't until recently that I've readily been hearing stories about her and her work.
For those of you that don't know, Greta Thunberg is a sixteen-year old girl from Sweden who has led a movement challenging world leaders to take a much firmer stand on protecting the environment and reducing emissions to slow global warming. She has inspired youth from around the globe to take action, including school strikes.
I find it pretty incredible that someone of her age has been able to do what she has already done. It's good to see young people like her caring so passionately about the world around them and taking action for what they believe.
While she is, for the most part, a popular figure, there has been some controversy surrounding her. Some claim that she is just a tool being used by climate activists to push their message. Others go so far as to demonize her and create conspiracies about her plan.
I, myself, don't believe such things, but I do take some concern at the more radical parts of Greta's message. While more action definitely needs to be made by countries throughout the world for environmental needs, I don't think we are at such a dire point that we should seriously hurt jobs and the economy. There needs to be a balance between the two.
I may not agree with all the aspects of Greta Thunberg's message, but I appreciate the attention that she has placed on protecting our world. Hopefully she will get the ball rolling faster for smart action to be taken, so the world will still be as beautiful as it is today.
One fact about my life that you may not know is that most of my education has been through homeschooling. Starting in 1st grade all the way through 10th grade, I have been homeschooled. I have only been to public school full-time during my preschool and kindergarten years, and my junior and senior years. I am to graduate from WHS in 2020.
Being homeschooled was definitely a different experience than public school. My mom was basically my school teacher. I sometimes learned beside my brother, who was also homeschooled. That wasn't always the case, however, because he was two grade levels above me. I also independently learned through electronic lectures and instructions.
There were actually many advantages to being homeschooled. Some of those benefits included having more flexibility in my life. My family was not restricted by strict school schedules, so we could plan vacations more easily. I could work on school any time of the day, and sleep in if I felt like it. I took some courses that aren't usually offered at any public school, like Latin. I often understood difficult concepts better because I had more time to learn and practice.
There were some disadvantages though. One of them was it was hard to create deadlines, so I learned a habit of procrastination that still gets in the way. Another disadvantage was the lack of social interaction outside of my family. While I made some good friends of other families who were also homeschooled, I did not get the everyday social interaction that I have now at Washington High School.
While I think homeschool was good for me, I'm glad that I transitioned to public school because it is a totally different environment to learn from. I've had great experiences that I never would of had with just being homeschooled. My perspective has grown now that I got to live in the two different "worlds" of school, which I am grateful for.
My Favorite Room
I have lived in the same house my whole life. While that used to bug me a little, I now realize that it has allowed me to really bond with my home and appreciate it. There is one room that I appreciate the most, however. Nope, not my bedroom, but the basement.
My basement has gone through various changes throughout the years, but now probably the best way to describe it is as a game room. Playing video games is the main reason that I'm downstairs, but I could also be playing piano, using the air hockey table, or reading a book from the bookshelves. Pretty much all the cool stuff is in the basement, which is why when friends come over, usually the majority of our time is spent there.
Perhaps the main reason that the basement is my favorite room are all the fun memories. From building countless Lego sets to story role playing with my brother, ever since I was very young that room served as a place for my imagination to grow. We even used to turn the basement into a haunted house around Halloween!
While my basement has changed a lot over the years, it will always be the place where I know I will find something to give me a bit of happiness.
A Dog's Life
7 years ago, my family was looking for a new companion: a dog. My older brother searched through Petfinder and found one that grabbed his attention. It was a Shih Tzu, with messy thick hair and a longful look on his face. His name was Muffin, and he was only 3 months old.
I wasn't exactly sure if Muffin was the right one when I first looked at his picture, but I agreed with my family to go pick him up from the rescue home. It was an over 2 hour trip through southern Missouri to get to him, but when we saw Muffin in person for the first time, we knew it was worth the trip. Since then Muffin, who we now call Chester, has been such a monumental part of my life that I can't imagine life without him.
There isn't a day where Chester doesn't grab my attention, one way or the other. Maybe he runs up to me, maybe he lays right on the book I was reading on the floor, or maybe he just stares at me in the distance with his big eyes, practically begging me for a belly rub. He's for sure the cutest dog that I've ever seen, and I don't think that's going to change.
I can't say he's the world's most disciplined dog however, that's for certain, though he is becoming more mature as the years go by. Despite how much Chester has frustrated me and my family at times, it is nothing compared to the joy that he's given us. He's been a constant support for me over the years. There's something about playing with him, or just being near him, that can't be recreated. He's excited every time I come home to him after being gone, even if it's just 5 minutes.
I can't really remember what life was like without Chester. Right now, I know that I have a little someone I can always go to, and Chester knows that, too. Perhaps all those sayings about a dog being man's best friend is true after all!
Too tall for my own good. Movie enthusiast. Video games aren't fun when they're too easy. Prefer late nights to early mornings. Can do a great job, it just might take awhile.