Portfolio By Kerri Rafferty
Table of Contents A Day of Hurricanes, a Day of Hopeful Winds..................................................Page one Through a Long Hall Amanda...............................................................................................................Page two Blueprints............................................................................................................Page three Inroduction of new program: French, Spanish honor students...........................Page four Select Choir performs with Paramore.................................................................Page five Shutdown causes finicial struggle.......................................................................Page six NSA spying wide-reaching, expands its grips....................................................Page seven World mourns life, legacy of political icon........................................................Page eight
A Day of Hurricanes, A Day of Hopeful Winds
Through a Long Hall
She was a Monday morning, unforgiving and unforgeƫng. Looking onward into the distance, washing away the glow of streetlights, and strained eyes, and harsh laughs of previous days.
Through a long hall is a dim white door
Cold and hard was her embrace, but warm and gentle was her kiss. Wrapping me in reawakened condemnaƟons and whispering glimpses of vindicaƟon. She woke me with tuneless songs, biƩer and graƟng melodies, playing over again. She dressed me with somber poems, bleak and dismal words, carved on my skin. But she painted apricot sunsets, and sapphire seas, and lovers in gardens so green. She lay me to sleep with promises of yet another week so pleasant, so sweet I fell asleep with dreams of the sound of her returning feet.
Cracked No knob with pealing peach paint delicately poised Doors lean on frames through a long hall Though a long hall Clocks placed carefully on open vents SoŌ seconds recollect the memories, the echoes of your footsteps, the brush of your hand on the sunlit walls On sunlit walls lies charcoal poetry faded by winds urging you to an open window where gold bathes your skin where dandelions find your hair
Note: “A Day of Hurricanes, A Day of Hopeful Winds” was a writing brought about by a prompt. It was crafted after four hours. My intention was to personify Monday, showing that the day represented both new starts and ends. “Through a Long Hall” was inspired by a photograph of a beautiful adadoned building. (Different than the one pictured)
Amanda Eye lashes like sunflower petals raining down onto cheeks like cold, hard streets Her eyes, brown, were dimly lit bridges in a rainy stone town that only ever did sleep And when you glance into them, you can see that she had climbed a tree when she was young And when you stare, you can see that her fingers had reached for an apple hung from branches so high she couldnâ€™t find her way down
Note: These pieces were written about or for the people they are named after. Amanda centers around a story Amanda told me late at night about getting stuck in an apple tree with her twin sister for hours on end.
Blueprints On April 28th, 2014, inside a generic, gray lecture hall, a cleancut boy sat typing, pushing up his glasses and watching the crooked clock tick off the seconds to the class’s start. Other students filed in, slouching with their book bags over only one shoulder. They fell into cramped, cushioned seats. Most searched wildly, but with a falsely cool demeanor, for a place in the back of the seemingly small room. A few less fortunate students resolved to take a seat in the front of the classroom. Angelique and I peered through the crack in the towering wood doors, slowly turning the handle as students exchanged exasperated looks behind us. Angelique lowered her gaze and breathed “You’re the least discreet person I think I’ve had the honor of meeting,” and she swiftly grabbed the handle, striding in with a fixed gaze. She watched the empty podium and its multiple facets of wooden desks of varying heights. A blank screen hung above, the dimmed lights creating stretching shadows upon it. I looked around, observing the atmosphere. Angelique abruptly turned into an empty row in the middle of a deserted section poised against the wall. The boy with his glasses continued clicking away on his laptop and without slowing his pace, smirked and whispered “I’m glad you made it.” Minutes passed plodded by and eventually the already dimmed lights faded into black suspense. A large, lumbering man with a graying goatee and splaying ears which held dainty glasses to his face took his place at the center podium. “Okay...Um...We’ll get started then, class.” I glanced over at the boy’s laptop. His assignment was finished and a new screen displayed an email with information concerning today’s class. The professor’s name was Finkel, he taught Philadelphia Arts and Culture. I began to skim the email for details about his lecture, but the boy glanced over with an accusing stare and closed the email with haste. I turned my attention back to Finkel, apparently missing a recount of the class’s grades. He clicked through slides, giving the dull, half-hearted advice I had always expected of college professors. “If you believe you will be able to complete your assignment the night before...Well, I suggest that you do not do that. I advise that you start early and manage your time well.” But his tone became lighter as it boomed through the hall. “Very well, uh...We’ll begin by reviewing our discussion of Louis Kahn and Edmund Bacon’s design plans of the city.” He showed grainy, gray pictures of men pointing at miniature structures. Towering structures with glorious spaces and beautiful shapes placed next to buildings organized with rows of windows and uniform columns adorning the bottom.
Kahn was an architect based in Philadelphia whose ideas are observable in the city’s architecture, however these ideas may not seem apparent. Kahn was deeply involved in his work, using innovation and imagination to construct intriguing designs. His designs played on the use of space and shape to create an abstract elegance. He was often praised as poetic, yet criticized as impractical. Bacon was also a Philadelphian architect, in fact a native to the city. Bacon displayed a keen understanding of the city’s ability to exist as its own entity. Believing that efficiency and effectivity was of chief concern to modern urban architects, Bacon dreamed of an economical Philadelphia. His plans of the city contrasted Kahn’s and left little room for creative expression. By contrast, Bacon is praised for his successful organization, but failing originality. The two attempted to collaborate, but the project failed due to both personal and professional differences. Bacon proceeded with his designs and is credited for the architecture of today’s Philadelphia. “Uh...Can we raise the lights a bit? Yes, yes...Okay...Uh, well...I’d like to conclude class with a short video. I think we’ll have time.” After a few failed attempts at projecting the video onto the lit screen, after a few piercing sounds from outdated speakers, a man with disheveled white hair and round red glasses began “I guess I’m kind of a pervert,” with a sly laugh. He talked of his mother’s house which he had designed. A fellow architect, Marcel Breuer, detested the color green and advised against its use in architecture. The man, Robert Venturi, felt compelled to paint the house a pastoral green. This and other aspects of the house (such as the staircase leading to a wall and a functional chimney hidden behind an almost orante, false chimney) symbolized both his and his mother’s rebellion. Venturi’s mother was a socialist who refused to enroll him in public school. Venturi himself set out to demolish modernist views of art and architecture. The house is off-putting at first sight, but endearing and engaging upon further examination. The video ended, and I walked out into the cold air with the boy and Angelique. Looking up into the sun, I stopped abruptly and watched the light fall over the college. I observed its many windows, the old worn stone glinting. The space we inhabit is taken for granted. Art exists everywhere in structures, and in some views, the lack of these structures. Buildings convey philosophy and poetry. We are shaped by shapes created by the abandoned, adrift artists.
Note: Including “Blueprints” was important to me because it offered a smooth transition from my creative writing into my journalistic writing, as the Gonzo element of this article uses both literary fiction and non-fiction characteristics. I really enjoyed writing this piece because I was able to learn and experience as I do when covering journalistic topics while also expressing my thoughts and feelings in a linguistic manner as I do in my creative writing.
World Language Department chooses French, Spanish honor students The World Language Department has developed an exciting opportunity for students: Honor Student of the Month. The program began in September and will continue throughout the year. Students will most likely be picked at the end of every month, as was the case last month. Each month will also incorporate a theme, with October’s theme most likely being “Participation”, although this is subject to change. Students selected for the program will have their picture taken and put onto a poster that will be displayed in the foreign language hallway for all to see. The department decided to begin the program when looking at other districts that included a similar program. One teacher in particular, Joan McGinely, thought the program would be beneficial to students and introduced the idea to other educators in the district over the summer. Additionally, many teachers felt the honor went hand-in-hand with World Language Month, which occurs in March. Honor students for the month of September include Taylor Sheedy, Mike Miller, Nicole Roldan, Brandon White, Rob Clark, and Merry Reed, all of whom are enrolled in Spanish. The selected French students are Katie Miller, Samantha Mamie, Eric Parker, Karina Royman, Adrienne Berue, and Erin Bedesem. These students were nominated for a variety of reasons, but the most prominent reason being that their teachers felt that they deserved recognition for their work in and out of the classroom. Joanne Robb, who teaches both French Two and French Four, commented “It is not grade-reflective at all. Someone who really tries hard, is enthusiastic, and who is resilient” would make a great candidate for the honor. Similarly, it should be noted that the program is completely independent from the department’s Honor Society, which is almost entirely based around the students’ grades in foreign language classes. One student who was selected in September, Parker, displayed the enthusiasm mentioned by Robb and was certainly a fine choice for the Honor Student of the month. Parker exclaimed “My favorite aspect of the language program is most definitely the application of the language whether it be speaking verbally or simply writing it down to a page. Language is a way of communication and in the process of learning it a whole new horizon of discovery and understanding is created,” when speaking about the recognition he had earned.
This honor was developed to acknowledge students, to help show individuals that their determination and enthusiasm is appreciated in the classroom. The department hopes to encourage and motivate students by instating the Honor Student of the Month and teachers are looking forward to awarding their students in the upcoming school year, despite the difficult decisions they face in choosing only a select few for the honor.
Note: This was my very first article for The Playwickian. It was enjoyable interviewing someone for the first time and gave me insight into a journalist’s perspective. I felt out-of-place and awkward at times, but after the interview I felt accomplished. I don’t feel as if this was my best writing. However, including my first works exemplifies the progress I’ve made throughout the year.
Select Choir performs with Paramore On Nov. 8, the Neshaminy Select Choir performed “Ain’t it Fun” on stage with Paramore at the Susquehanna Bank Center. The Grammy Association, an organization dedicated to providing students with the opportunity to work with professional musicians, partnered with Paramore to support music programs in area high schools. Neshaminy was selected to sing with Paramore, in addition to receiving $1,000, which is yet to be received by the school. The Grammy Association could not be reached for information on why Neshaminy, as opposed to other local high schools, was chosen to perform. “The Grammy Association called the band director, Mr. Lipton, asking for the choir directors. He passed along the call. They gave us very vague detail. Mr. Leigh and I researched and found out ourselves that the choir might sing with Paramore. We were very excited,” said Cloak, commenting on how the choir received news of the opportunity. The 19 selected students left school early that Friday and left for the concert venue with directors Jason Leigh and Kristen Nichols When they arrived, they promptly headed to a sound check where the choir ran through the song with a portion of the band. Afterwards, they walked around town where they sang a few numbers on the sidewalks of Camden. They then ate dinner at a nearby pizzeria and soon met a number of students at the Susquehanna Bank Center who would be supporting the choir from the seats. The choir was allowed 20 members on stage and was given an additional 20 tickets for guests. These tickets were offered to students, such as Angela Cook, who were not able to perform Friday night. “I may not have performed with the choir, but I still had a blast. It was only the second concert I’d ever been to, so I was super excited when I found out that even though I couldn’t sing, I could still go,” said Cook. Students entered the venue and took their seats, eagerly anticipating the performance. Halfway through the concert, stage hands escorted the choir backstage where they put on their red choir robes adorned with a Paramore patch and awaited their cue to sing. Nick Taylor, a senior member of the select choir who sang
on stage, said “My favorite part of the night was that moment when I sang my first note. That moment had all the anticipation, excitement, happiness, and the like all at once.” The rest of the choir felt similarly, certainly cherishing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they shared. The band made a comment during sound check that Neshaminy had been one of the best choirs they have heard. The members were impressed by the choir’s energy during the rehearsal and their performance was no different. A junior member of the Select Choir, Morgan McCormick, was also in the audience that night. “The choir had so much energy, and made the crowd really get into the song. I absolutely loved it. I know they had a blast,” said McCormick. The choir was able to get a group picture with band members Taylor York, Jeremy Davis, and lead singer Haley Williams, as well as an autograph to hang in the classroom to commemorate the unforgettable night.
Note: I chose this piece to include in my portfolio because it was my first piece of particpatory journalism. Being apart of the Select Choir and performing on stage gave me a new perspective when writing this article. Looking back, I wish I had approached this writing differently in regards to style.
Government shutdown rocks nation It was midnight on Oct.1 when the United States almost came to hault. The government shutdown had officially begun with no end in sight. Fortunately, the country has continued to function relatively well, most likely due to the government taking more of an extended vacation rather than completely shutting down. That is, many government sectors are operating as per usual. Veterans’ hospitals remain open, social security checks are mailed, and emergency services answer calls. These services are deemed “necessary” by the government and must continue to function to ensure peace and quiet within the country. Other services that will remain running are the postal service, banks, and military. Similarly, food stamps and unemployment benefits will also continue for as long as their funding allows. While this may mean little to some citizens, the shutdown is devastating to others. Many of those employed by the government, about 800,000, have been furloughed. That is, they are temporarily unemployed. Others will be paid retroactively, which still proves to be distressing as they struggle to pay bills. The president, legislatures, and all active-duty military member will continue to receive pay. Legislatures and the president must receive pay, as directed by the 27 Amendment. President Obama passed a bill Monday, Sept. 30 to ensure military members will receive pay. Despite major portions of the government remaining active, many other areas that prove beneficial to Americans are not functioning during the shutdown. For example, visas and passports are currently not obtainable, a number of civil cases are delayed, and women and children who were assisted by the government in obtaining healthy food are now left unaided. Moreover, the Center for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency cease to operate until further notice. All of this is the result of the extremists of both parties refusing to come to an agreement over the national budget by the end of the fiscal, or economic, year. This stems from the debate over the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare. The staunch Republicans vehemently oppose the plan, while drastic Liberals are supporting the plan. Plans to defund the Affordable Care Act were proposed by Conservatives and were continuously shut down by Democrats. This is what essentially caused the shutdown. When the government could not agree on ObamaCare, they were consequently not able to agree on other aspects of the budget. Unfortunately, this is not the only issue the United States faces. What is more pressing is the upcoming debt ceiling, which will be reached by Oct. 17. The debt ceiling is set by Congress and outlines how much America can borrow for public spending. Legislatures must vote to either raise the debt ceiling or to keep it as is. The debt ceiling is essential to how the country functions and without a decision, the United States could face even larger
financial troubles. Currently, it seems that neither party is considering what is considered a key concept in America — compromise. Senior Bailey Jones who is currently enrolled in the AP Government course believes the solution to the government’s problems is exactly that. “There should be more cooperation for compromise,” commented Jones. Similarly, David Heaney, the AP Government teacher said “[Both parties] are just digging their heels in and staying...Both sides must stop being obstinate, stop digging their heels in...They have to negotiate. They have to compromise.” Heaney continued “There’s an old African saying ‘When two elephants fight, it’s the grass that gets trampled.” Until our government officials realize what’s at stake is more than votes for their party, the shutdown will continue. Note: News articles proved to be my strength and I certainly found joy in covering important topics. My goal in writing news articles was to inform our student body, explaining intricate and complicated situations and stories in simple terms. This event was one that will be remembered throughout our lifetimes, and so I recognized the importance of factual information, finding varied sources and interviewees. I felt that my greatest accomplishment in this article was my incorporation of quotes.
NSA spying expands Eric Snowden considers himself “neither a traitor nor hero” for disclosing evidence of global surveillance carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA). Snowden began working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was thereafter employed by Dell, working in a NSA facility based in Japan. Here he began downloading sensitive material in April, 2012. Snowden later relocated to a consulting firm under the NSA’s control after denying a job offer to a select group of government hackers, Tailored Access Operations, to allegedly collect additional information with the intention of leaking it. The collected information and findings were published first on June 5, 2013 by world-renowned media outlets such as The Guardian and The New York Times, in addition to multiple foreign news media. The data Snowden gathered included information on programs such as PRISM, which allows government officials to access both Google and Yahoo accounts with court permission. Details about Boundless Informant, a database requiring Verizon to provide the NSA with daily call records of its customers, were released by both Snowden and the Obama administration. While the contents of the calls were not recorded and officials required a warrant to access records, the program had been ruled unconstitutional in the past. A related program, UpStream, permits the NSA to acquire telephone data in foreign countries. Collected PRISM and UpStream information is stored up to one year in a system codenamed MARINA. Programs to weaken internet security have also been employed by the NSA and numerous other foreign governments. A considerable amount of funding has gone to undermine the practice of encryption, a method used by many to code sensitive information such as bank records. The NSA cites the use of this information as part of “a decision advantage for the Nation and our allies under all circumstances” as part of its mission statement. But the issue at hand is not necessarily how effective such methods are at promoting security, but how this might affect American citizens, their privacy, and their right to free speech. For instance, David Miranda, a journalist for The Guardian who seeked to publish the Snowden leaks, was detained for his work under charges of terrorism. Meanwhile, Snowden was forced to seek asylum in Russia, escaping charges of government theft. While the average American is not directly involved with the disclosures, citizens may feel pressured to limit or censor their speech or internet activity for fear of similar consequences. Snowden warned The Guardian and its audience in a video interview,“You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis to sort of derive suspicion from an
innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.” President Barack Obama addressed these concerns on Jan. 17, 2013 in a speech addressing methods of reform within the NSA while also stressing the necessity of the NSA and similar systems throughout American history. “Throughout American history, intelligence has helped secure our country and our freedoms...The risk of government overreach, the possibility that we lose some of our core liberties in pursuit of security also became more pronounced,” Obama said. In his speech he offered solutions to the troubling situation at hand including placing spying limitations on foreign heads of state and transferring the bulk collection of phone data to a third-party. However, recent polls show a majority of Americans are unaware of these reforms and are not hopeful for any effective measures to be put into place as more leaks are continuously being released.
Note: I was dissapointed when this article was not published in The Playwickian and thus I try to incorporate it into many other works and portfolios. I worked extremely hard on this article, researching for hours on the NSA. The information and background knowledge required to write the article was extensive and I had a difficult time organizing my thoughts and understanding the different programs and aspect of the NSA. I am proud of the finished product.
World mourns loss of Mandela A man who defied odds and adversity could not defy death. Nelson Mandela, 95, was declared deceased on Dec. 5 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela is recognized worldwide for not only his determination to end racial conflict in South Africa, but his success in doing so, despite the trials he faced. Mandela led and inspired revolutionary movements to end the apartheid and proceeded to become South Africa’s first black president. Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in South Africa. He attended a Methodist primary school near Qunu, South Africa where he was given the name Nelson by a teacher. His given forename was Rolihlahla, meaning troublemaker. Many of Mandela’s views were inspired by his early experiences. During his childhood, he discovered his love for African history and his loathe of imperialism, both of which were apparent later in his political actions. Continuing his education, Mandela attended four different colleges. At the University College of Fort Hare in Alice, he was temporarily expelled for boycotts challenging the quality of food at the school. In 1941, Mandela fled to Johannesburg to escape an arranged marriage. Here, he was offered employment in a law firm where he became increasingly interested and involved in politics. He began to attend African National Congress (ANC) meetings, a group dedicated to unify South Africa and overcome a racially oppressive government. In the span of about thirty years, Mandela was arrested on three occasions and served a total of 27 years and nine months in prison. Mandela briefly identified with the Communist Party and was a militant leader of the ANC’s underground operations named Umkhonto we Sizwe, also known as MK. This, in addition to a largely corrupt government, led to his imprisonment. After his release, Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and proceeded to become South Africa’s first black president in the country’s first democratic election, serving from 1994 to 1999. During his presidency, Mandela concentrated on national reconciliation between whites and blacks, appointing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate crimes committed under the apartheid regime. He increased welfare spending significantly, providing water, electricity, housing, employment and education to the general public. He published three books and established three charitable foundations which concentrate on promoting health and education in South Africa. After battling illnesses including prostate cancer and respiratory infections, he retired from public appearances altogether. Obama made a short speech on Dec.5 concerning Mandela’s death and legacy. “We have lost one of the most influential, courageous, profoundly good human beings that any of us will
share time with on this earth,” said Obama. President of the World Affairs Club, senior Courtney Okwara, believes that students should feel just as inspired as Obama. “I believe that students should apply the ideas of unity and reconciliation to their own lives. Mandela demonstrating his capacity to change, to move on, and to look forward to the future is something all human beings need to do.” The world recognized Mandela on Dec. 9 in Soweto, South Africa. The memorial took place in a soccer stadium where Mandela made his final public appearance. 91 world leaders attended the memorial, including Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush Jr., and Jimmy Carter. Each morning, Mandela’s body was carried through the streets to the capital, to give the citizens of South Africa a chance to pay their final respects before the funeral on Dec. 15 in Qunu. The state had declared a period of mourning from Dec. 5 to Dec. 15. However, the world will mourn over the great loss of Mandela for much longer than a mere ten days.
Note: Covering this event was immensely important to me because it was world-changing. Mandela was an inspiring political figure, but he was more than that--he was a model humanist. I was honored to be asked to write about Mandela when his death occured during our layout. Writing about Mandela opened my eyes to a new perspective.
Published on May 27, 2014