Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Good Times and Rhymes

Where can students go to express themselves in an uncensored environment? Last Spring, Markus Batchelor and Moo Johnson wondered the same thing. Hoping to give their peers an outlet to the long days and what they perceived as constant reminders of limits and restrictions, Markus and Moo approached Ms. Jones hoping to use her classroom one Friday a month for Student Poetry Slams. Ms. Jones agreed, contingent on the notion that the slams would be entirely student driven. Ms. Jones would open her door and the students would take it from there.

The inaugural Student Poetry Slam was held last March. It consisted of 7 excited students. Each subsequent month, the group grew, as more students eager to freestyle and read poetry attended. The most recent slam took place on Friday, January 8. About 20 students packed Ms. Jones' room for an afternoon of rhymes, rhythm and prose. Their words touched on topics as disparate as love and exams. The passion was palpable, as all listened intently to their peers, offering snaps as a showing of approval. With the author's permission, reprinted below is sophmore Malek Latney's moving piece "If love was a color...":

If love was a color,
Would it be red,
That's too traditional,
Make it green instead,
Green would stand for envy,
As love is hard to find,
Purple quite majestic,
As love is sweet and kind,
Blue would stand for the blues,
Once over it you will get,
Yellow for that glow,
That love is often synonomous with,
Orange would stand for warmth,
That you draw from your lover's body,
Pink for flamboyancy 'cause,
You flaunt it around everybody,
White for standard lightness,
'Cause you think you're on cloud 9,
Black for your demise,
'Cause love always ends sometime.

Please stay tuned for the next Open Mic Poetry Slam!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Homework help and Tutoring Spotlight: Joseph Hill and Anna Stoto

Every day after school, Thurgood Marshall Academy opens its library for tutoring, remediation, and academic counseling. Some students come in to finish powerpoint presentations, some to study for a test, others simply to finish their latest reading assignment in The Souls of Black Folk. For 9th grader Joseph Hill and a handful of other students, the library is a place where they can receive one-on-one tutoring from our team of dedicated volunteer tutors. Joe and his tutor Anna Stoto have been working together for a few months and here is what they have to say about their tutoring experience.

Question: How did you find out about tutoring at TMA?
Anna: I found out about tutoring through a friend.

Question: Describe some projects and assignments you have worked on together.
Anna and Joseph: We started on a math cartoon, we worked some on the distributive property and are currently working on a PowerPoint.

Question: Describe some challenges of tutoring.
Anna: I'm 8 or 9 years out of working on the work he is assigned, and it's hard to find the best way to explain subjects and meet him where he is at.

Question: What is your favorite part of tutoring?
Joseph: When I have everything in order and done. Also, I like having someone to ask questions.
Anna: I've tutored with other organizations and I like working with Joe because I am able to get to know him better. I like building a relationship with one student.

Question: How does working with a tutor differ than working independently?
Joseph: Because I am actually able to get my work done!

Thurgood Marshall Academy matches students from all grade levels with volunteer tutors who provide one-on-one support as part of the Homework Help program. The tutoring sessions take place in the library from 3:30-6pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 4-6pm and 3:30-5pm on Fridays. We are currently looking for tutors in all subject areas including math, science, history, English, law and Spanish.

Please contact Tim Prendergast at tprendergast@tmapchs.org if you are interested in becoming a tutor.

A huge thank you to our current tutors at TMA! We are grateful for your commitment to our students' success!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Monday, the students, volunteers, and staff at Thurgood Marshall Academy participated in two separate service activities to celebrate the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

One group of 16 students (including Alethea Hanson, Josh Hamilton, Tyrell Jenkins and Malachi McCaskill pictured above) along with Mr. Kaplan and Ms. Gall, volunteered at the Ferebee Hope Elementary School in Southeast. Along with nearly 200 other volunteers coordinated by the DC Jewish Community Center, the students spent their day painting the inside of the school. With all four grades represented, TMA students meticulously taped off wall edges, papered the floors to avoid spills and spent hours rolling paint onto the walls. Not even a little paint on the clothes could deter them. When it was all over and the clean up began, several students expressed their enjoyment and their hopes to "do it again soon."

Meanwhile, back at the school, around 80 volunteers and students joined together to work on scholarship applications, college essays, and to learn about summer programs offered in the DC area.  We were overwhelmed by the showing of both volunteers and students, all of whom were extremely busy for the entire event.  Volunteers included current mentors, friends and family of staff, and members of IMAN, a Muslim volunteer organization.  Students and volunteers even exchanged contact information, hoping to stay in touch as deadlines and college acceptance letters approach.  Kudos to Ms. Levine, Ms. Fried, and Ms. Sher for organizing the event and to the students and volunteers who made sure it was a success!

America's Next Top Blogger - Week Four Winner - Marcellus Sanders!

This week, we asked students to provide their thoughts on the Gilbert Arenas situation.  Student responses ranged vastly, split nearly 50/50 among students who felt that Arenas had been unfairly punished and those who felt the league's actions were justified. This week's standout reaction came from sophmore Marcellus Sanders, who took a legalistic approach at explaining why he felt the punishment was undue. Attached below are his words:
I don't think his punishment is fair because they haven't finished investigating the situation and according to the law, "a suspect is innocent until proven guilty." If he hasn't been proven, why should he be reprimanded for his actions?
I feel that David Stern is making a little situation big because if the guns weren't loaded then he intended to do no harm to Crittendon. The only reason Gilbert was doing the six finger gun-shots in the warm-up is so they could get focused on the game and not let the investigation distract them. So far, he hasn't let this distract him because he scored 26 points on Saturday and he commented after the game about the situation being a distraction. "If you want it to be, there is. Not with me."
The scores for America's Next Top Blogger are now as follows: Nadean Talley - 2, Kyle Holley - 1, and Marcellus Sanders - 1. Please keep a look out for this week's topic about your reaction to the earthquake in Haiti. Keep blogging, Warriors.

Friday, January 15, 2010

a cool day for the mentor program

As the pictures above indicate, the Mentor Program spent our most recent outing skating on the National Mall. Some highlights...
  • Natalia Dunlap and Ayana Bell pursued the buses for miles from the school to the rink, finally catching up, enjoying the day, and even taking in an afternoon film once Mentor Day was over.
  • Ashley Everett went from being a slight liability to a full-fledged Olympic skater.
  • Mache Chase took advantage of friendly hands at every turn.
  • Dream Jackson and Kyle Morean each performed triple axels (Kyle's got nothing on Dream's gracefulness).
  • Ta'Zhaun Hunter broke the sound barrier.
  • Maurice Ogletree taught his Mentor Wrede Smith how to perform an ice jump.
  • Nia Boxley guided Yaida Ford on at least one full loop.
  • Derrick Souder took some phenomenal photos.  All but four from the slide show are his!
  • We all had fun, got numb, fell down, and were helped up before the end of the day.
  • Have some of your own recollections? Write a comment below!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pastels on Parade

Recently, Ms. Shabazz's Art 1 class completed their set of still life projects. Using pastels, students recreated a collection of unrelated inanimate objects placed together against a plain backdrop. Check out the students hard at work:

Look at that concentration!

Below are two of the many stand-out pieces upon completion.

by Brittany Tillman:
by Antoinette Parish:
Please take a look the rest of the students' work in the library, on the first floor by the science labs, and in the basement by the art room when you get a chance!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mia Logan reviews Walter Dean Myers

Eds. Note: The following write-up is from TMA librarian Cary Hanson.  If you have a question, need a book, or are interested in submitting your own review, please e-mail her: chanson@tmapchs.org.

Read a good book lately?

Some books at the TMA library are so good, you have to get on a waiting list to check them out. Which books grab students and keep them up late at night when they should be doing their homework? Before winter break, we asked students to submit reviews for their favorite TMA library books that they have read for fun. Among the excellent submissions was Mia Logan’s review of Street Love by Walter Dean Myers, which she highly recommends:
I picked up this book and thought to myself that maybe I could feel what the characters were feeling based on what I read on the back of the book….This book is about the realistic drama on the street and at home, and it tells a gripping story. The main plot is about two young girls living with their grandmother because their mother is in prison for selling drugs on the street. The older sister meets a young teenage boy who is willing to put everything behind him and be with her while she takes care of her little sister….This book is written in poems that rhyme that show the experiences these young teens went through.

Check out what else Mia has to say about this dramatic story by clicking below!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

America's Next Top Blogger-Week Three Winner-Nadean Talley...Again!!

She's done it again. Nadean Talley has come out on top in the competition to become America's Next Top Blogger. This week's topic?, "Tell us about your New Year's resolution"  Nadean was up against some fierce competition including outstanding prose from Kyle Holley and poignant insight provided by Courtney Jones. Nadean's combination of sober reflection and matter-of-fact humor elevated her entry above the others, making her our first repeat winner. Here is Nadean's entry in it's entirety:

New Year's Resolution
My New Year's resolution is to stop procrastinating. Usually if I get a project, I'd probably wait until the last few days to do it, this leaves me cramming all due work into slots and most of the time I end up turning one or two assignments in late. It slows me down, plus, it stresses me out. Stress leads to pimples, and pimples + High School is not a good look.
I would rather do my work on time, check it and make sure it's right and get full credit for it than just do it late, cram it and just accept lesser or half credit. I think it will help improve my grades and reduce stress from so much work. So far, it works!

By earning her second victory, Nadean has brought herself within one win of becoming America's Next Top Blogger and winning a spot as a staff writer here at The Other 17 Hours. But don't get complacent Nadean, there are plenty of young and hungry writers out there, ready to take the title. Until Next week: Congratulations Nadean!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ten Questions,Two Minutes. 4th Quarter Comeback Edition.

mentors, mentees, movies, and mindful discussion

The December Mentor Day featured a trip to the beautiful AFI theater in Silver Spring for a private screening of Made in LA, a documentary film about garment workers in Los Angeles.  In the film, the garment workers join together to protest unjust practices used by the clothing store Forever 21 and ultimately win a settlement from the store.  Shot over a period of almost two years, the film served as a nice reminder that change happens slowly.

With the film as motivation, mentors and mentees returned to the school and discussed ways that they could get involved in issues that concern them.  Our April Mentor Day will be focused on service, and the post-movie discussions will likely serve as a foundation for our work.  They even took notes!

We have now had three Mentor Days and we would like to recognize the 19 pairs who have attended all three.  Thank you thank you thank you to these 38 committed participants:
Jameka Anderson and Amy Asheroff
Tamara Brown and Katie Shay
LaQuan Butler and Kimberly Smith
Gianna Canada and Sonia Bacchus
Nia Crawley and Angela Clark
Amber Dixon and Anastasia Brown
Aris Ellison and YaVonne DuBose
Alexis Fenwick and Alexis Gutierrez
Allanxandria Hall and Kristen Aiken
Daveania Jones and Angela Chandler
Courtney Jones and Karen Todd
Malek Latney and Darryl Stevens
Salihah Muhammad and Michelle Morant
Imani Newborn and Patty Kersting
Maurice Ogletree and Wrede Smith
Marcelleus Sanders and Darryl Maxwell
Shayla Simms and Amanda Beaumont
Kyvonne Williams and Joyce Dubin
Nye'al Wise and Emily Berman
This Saturday we will head to the skating rink located on the Downtown Mall for some good cold fashion fun.  Mentor and mentees...see you soon!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Newsworthy Outing

Just before that long hiatus otherwise known as Winter Break, half of the ninth grade class visited the Newseum, arguably the most engaging museum DC has to boast. This trip, a counterpart to Law Day, led students on a journey through some of the most newsworthy events of the past century. Students learned the process of collecting, reporting and disseminating news in a vast variety of mediums. They saw the courageous and heartfelt reporting of 9/11 and the revealing reporting used to help law agencies solve crimes. They experienced the evocative photojournalism of events ranging from Hurricana Katrina to Obama's Inaguration.

The students also took a crash course in the rights protected under the First Amendment. They saw how it not only protects abstract and lofty ideas but also aspects relavent to their daily lives. Examining life on the other side of the Berlin Wall, students saw what life could be like without the likes of a First Amendment. To put it bluntly, they did not envy those born behind the iron curtain.

In the end, students were moved by the interactive exhibits and the touching descriptions of events, especially those that they remember from their own lifetimes. Students marveled at the model of the car used by the DC snipers. Many expressed their desire to go back to the museum when they have more than just two hours to explore. They came back to school bragging about their experiences to the other half of the class, who will visit the Newseum at the end of this month. From what I hear, they can't wait.