Sunday, March 17, 2013

Literary Fair Winners

Congratulations to the following students who will represent Team 806 at the Broward County Literary Fair.

Worth Every Tear
By Antares Tobelem (Personal Narrative)

     Have you gone yet to watch Les Misérables in theaters? Were you like me, indecisive about watching it because you were unsure as to whether you should bring concessions or a box of tissues? Did I really want to leave the movies, a place where I have found comfort in romance and comedy for so many years, puffed up in the face and wretched with tears?
      Could I really resist when the family decided to go and watch it on Christmas Day, the day of the premiere? Would anyone else have really enjoyed to spend an hour waiting in a line, fighting for a seat, only to watch a so-called “classic” story that would leave me with a depressing realization of what the world was really like?
     When you sat down with your popcorn to watch it, did you prepare yourself for 2 hours and 38 minutes of sobbing and despair? Did the end of each preview that passed make you feel like you were slowly sinking into a terrible abyss from which there was no return? Was your mind reeling in expectation, holding back the tears from remembering the movie trailer before the real movie even began? Did you think you were the only one?
      When that first scene came on the screen, of an overworked Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean) obviously working as a slave to haul a huge boat safely into port, did you hold your breath? Was the thought of a man spending  19 years in slavery only to be told he would spend several more rotting away make your stomach flip?
     Were you compelled by the story of Fantine, the woman who was fired from her job but had a child at home to feed? Did you feel your soul ripped apart as you watched the poor Fantine sell pieces of herself, her hair, her teeth, and her innocence, to continue to feed that same child?
     At the hotel where Cosette, Fantine’s daughter, was being abused by her caretakers, did you cry with her as she spoke of a “Castle on a Cloud?” Did her wishes for freedom and love become yours?
      If your children went to go see the movie with you, how did you explain to them that the little girl’s mother was dead and a complete stranger would now take care of her; how could you possibly have made them understand?
      When was it that you finally realized that Jean Valjean’s strength as a slave was foreshadowing to his later discovery as a paroled convict? When he lifted the carriage off the poor man on the street? Or was it already after police inspector Javert reported him as one?
      Were you lost through the years as Cosette grew older, constantly relocating because of Jean Valjean’s endless escape from Javert’s wrath? Were you as amazed by their will to live; only needing to be together?
      Was I the only one who almost forgot that amidst all of this drama, the French Revolution was right at its peak?
      Introduced to the older, more beautiful Cosette and finding that she falls in love with the handsome Marius; did you feel hopeful for the future? Did you feel sympathy or disgust at Eponine when you realized she was the daughter of the same caretakers who mistreated Cosette as a girl, and knew that she, too, loved Marius?
     Was that same hope lost again when Cosette left her beloved, and Eponine still was sulking over the ignorant Marius? Was your head spinning in circles yet?
     How did you feel about Gavroche, the young blonde boy who fought alongside his brothers for independence? Has anyone not cried in the scene where young Gavroche is mercilessly shot down by troops of the opposing side?
     And later, when the two sides faced each other at the barricade, did Eponine’s sacrifice for Marius seem crazy, or simply driven by love; nevertheless, could you have done the same? As the two sides of the revolution fought, would you have placed yourself as one of the rebel leaders, or someone who hid in their home to protect the children from the guns and war? Was Jean Valjean’s rescue of Marius a brave, inspired, moving action? Do you understand now that a father’s love for his daughter and her wishes causes him to move mountains?
     Were you confused by the scene where Javert commits suicide as well, taking a minute or two to comprehend that by saving his life, Jean Valjean brought it to an end? Maybe he was trying to say that the one man he had spent his entire life as a police inspector pursuing, was really a miraculous human being? How much did Javert’s actions teach all of us as individuals about sacrifice? How can we apply these lessons to our own lives?
     After Marius and Cosette were married, and at the end when Jean Valjean passes away, where was your mind left?
     With Gavroche?
     With Eponine?
     With Fantine?
     With the men who lost their lives in the barricade?
     With Javert?
     What was it exactly that you learned? That strength and compassion surpasses all hardship? That unlucky convicts can improve to become respectable people? Or maybe you just learned to forgive and to love, to help others in any way you possibly can?
     Was this an incredible movie? Did you stand and applaud at its end? Was it worth all the tears and heartache? Was it worth the message?
     Well, what do you think?


Just Because
by Sterling Wertanzl  (Quatrain Poem)

Everyday the crowds appear in the long, narrow halls,
On the playground, by the cafeteria, near the bathroom stalls.
I hear their giggles, I hear their hate,
And I finally realize: All I am to them is bait.

I watch them whisper and pretend that I don’t care,
And that I don’t notice their rude and hateful glares.
They’re more than just bullies, they’re more than just girls.
They’re beautiful monsters with hate intertwined in their curls.

I sit alone at lunch while they laugh at me and stare,
And that’s when the fire in broken heart begins to flare.
They say they’re friendly, their savage personalities in disguise,
But I know they’re evil, all their words are just lies.

Their constant mocking makes me scream from the inside,
The tears stream out and there’s nowhere to hide.
They have won, yes, the leaders of the pack,
They’ll take my mourns as their prize and mount them on a plaque.

And yet the others don’t care, no, they don’t mind,
If anything they’re clueless, oblivious, and blind.
One day I’ll disappear and they’ll finally feel my pain.
I’ll be watching over them as I freely and happily reign.

After it all, all that’s left are these blistering battle scars.
As I hopelessly gaze above at the shining night stars,
I see the sanctuary of the heavens above,
And I know there are angels up there who will welcome me with love.

I hear my mother’s cries and my brother’s loss of control.
I closely watch over them as they try to revive a body with no soul.
Their faces weep over the broken victim who always will be and was
The girl who took her own life just because.


The Right to Fight
by Sara Burgoa (Editorial)

In January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reignited a debate that’s been going on for years by lifting the ban that prevented female soldiers in the armed forces from fighting alongside men in equal combat roles. Although many citizens feel that women in military combat zones would reduce the effectiveness of the armed forces, I wholeheartedly believe that, as long as they meet the physical requirements necessary, anybody should be allowed to serve their country in whatever way they can, regardless of their gender.
        Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” These words were taken directly from the Equal Rights Amendment which, unfortunately, was never ratified by Congress. However, the concept of equality among the sexes addressed in the measure applies directly to the women-in-combat debate. Women should be entitled to the same rights as any male citizen, even if it includes adopting traditionally masculine characteristics. One of America’s chief features is its promotion of equality, but by preventing women from performing in the combat roles, the U.S. would seem hypocritical and unpatriotic.
        Already, females throughout the nation risk their lives to help their community on a daily basis. Allowing them to contribute to our well-being in combat zones is simply taking their dedication to the country one step further. Female soldiers (who make up about 14% of the 1.4 million military personnel, as of 2012) undergo rigorous problem-solving and self-defense training prior to being sent to a particularly dangerous war zone, so it’s not like they are completely helpless. Moreover, with the old, restrictive combat policy, it was difficult for female officers to progress in status. The military limitations that women have to face today share parallel similarities to the restrictions faced by African Americans in the past, which proved to be completely unconstitutional and unfair.
        One of the most beautiful American concepts is that of choice. Women who meet the physical requirements for participating in combat roles in the armed forces should be allowed to do so if they choose to. Obviously, entering any war zone involves great risk, but the decision should be left to the American women, not to the men who represent them in government. That is precisely the reason that Panetta made the right choice when he consented to the lifting of the constricting ban. Indeed, female soldiers in the armed forces should be allowed to serve in equal combat roles alongside men; it is simply un-American to say otherwise.


Society Gazette
by Justin Oletsky (Literary Newspaper)