English 10: Writing Portfolio


Catholic Memorial High School



Creative Writing  


Dear Jonathan Coe,

My name is Stephen Scannell, and I am a tenth grader currently attending Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. My British Literature class is studying contemporary British authors and I came across your work. Today, I wish to ask you to join my class and I at our high school one day to talk about your writings.

I found that you are a novelist, a writer, and was once a poetry teacher. I saw that you have won the Samuel Johnson’s award for “Like a Fiery Elephant,” and the Writer’s guild award for “The House of Sleep.” I have a great deal of interest in your work because it mostly deals with social issues. Sometimes you express them humorously like in the spoof horror you wrote, “What a Carve Up.” Particularly, I liked the line of the story which read, “I looked into his eyes and could tell he was angry, but deep down inside I wanted to start laughing, because I was happy he was leaving.” I liked this line in this book because it shows the character’s emotion towards this other character. He showed sympathy for this guy but really wanted to laugh at him. I did further research and found that “What a Carve Up” had been made into a movie. I look forward to watching it soon so I can compare them both. Although I had never read your work before, I find myself stumbling upon your stories very often now.

We would deeply appreciate it if you could come, so we could have a better understanding of your stories. This would be a big opportunity for us to differ from our normal schedules, to know the true meaning of a true author. If you do not come, we will never have a good sense of your work since we will not be reading you in our curriculum. Our schedule is open through May. Please let us know what your schedule is so we can make arrangements.

Thank you for your time.


Stephen Scannell
























“The Bohemian Girl” is a British opera written in 1848. Particularly the song, “A Gypsy Girl’s Dream,” is played during that Opera. This song was written is 1846 and was sung in the opera when it first played. The song was a big hit, and was very popular at the time. It first played in London and Dublin, and reached all the way to New York City. The opera played nearly every night, with “A Gypsy Girl’s Dream” playing as one of the main songs. The song tells of a gypsy girl’s dream for a normal life, because she is bored with her luxurious, rich and powerful. Although there were many songs of this opera, this song was sung at the climax of the show. This song of “The Bohemian Girl,” affected the British culture by bringing popularity back to opera.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, which was the site of one the first playings of “The Bohemian Girl,” Michael W. Balfe became one of the most successful composers of English operas in the 19th century. Le Bohemienne, or (“The Bohemian Girl”) was Michael W. Balfe’s most exquisite piece of work with . The song’s function in the opera was to express the gypsy, Arline’s (a character in the opera) feelings for this other man when she decides to leave her land. It depicts her dream for something different, (although she has riches and power)and her questioning of whether or not he would still love her when she returned.

An alternate title of this song (and it was often called this) was, “I Dreamt That I Dwelt in Marble Halls.” This makes sense for the title because the first line of the song is those exact words, and the song’s understanding and meaning is that the gypsy girl dreams that she dwelt in “marble halls.” She is rich beyond belief and wishes to get away from all of it to see the world, and know that the man in her life would still love her. She uses the metaphor “dwelt in marble halls,” to express her want for something better as if she already doesn’t have enough. Mostly, she just wants someone to love her and hold her. She would give anything for the chance to love someone and be loved, even if it meant giving up her fortune.

Michael W. Balfe blends the opera story with the songs played, with short songs being used as lines of the opera sung in a sing-song voice loudly. In doing so, the character expresses his/her inner thoughts out loud for the audience to hear. In total, the “Bohemian Girl” plays about fifteen songs in the two to three hour play, and “A Gypsy Girl’s Dream,” is played right when the picture/overall meaning of the story is noticeable. Arline, the main character expresses her inner emotions in song, and slightly foreshadows the upcoming parts of the opera.

Overall, this nineteenth century song written by Michael W. Balfe, popularized the opera “The Bohemian girl,” bringing opera into the spotlight of British culture. Michael W. Balfe went on to publish and perform many other plays in Europe and the United States, in which he sparked interest in viewer’s, and profited off it’s success. Although opera is not at all popular anymore, on occasion this play is performed live in New York City, and Ireland. Although opera has died, this song lived on, and was sung by many people looking for a new life in love, whether they were rich or poor. Even though it is no longer popular in the culture of Britain, it did change the way people entertained themselves in the nineteenth century. Furthermore, “A Gypsy Girl’s Dream” is a great contribution to performance art, and highly affected the British culture in many ways.























The Yuschenko poisoning in September of 2004 shows that in the Ukrainian election this crime was motivated by power. Viktor Yuschenko (Ukraine) was running for prime minister of Ukraine against a Russian delegate of the country. During which he was poisoned by dioxin and diagnosed with a fatal illness. It was believed to be a hit from the Russian government on Yuschenko to get their candidate in office. Ukraine is its own country but is still a province of Russia. Since Russia can no longer hold or manufacture nuclear warheads, they were internally trying to take over Ukraine to hide their weapons there. Unfortunately for them, only 60% of the people voted, but the poles showed that 115% of the people voted, leaving the blame on the Russian government.

Many interviews have taken place between now and September of 2004, in which Yuchenko has voiced his opinion about the murder attempt on him. When he found out the election was rigged, he immediately declared himself the Prime Minister of Ukraine. He rejoiced in his independence from helping countries, and talked about the future plans of Ukraine. He stated that his “illness will not affect his work as head of Ukraine, and Russia will not manufacture warheads in his country.” The victim’s family was outraged about the crime committed and did everything in their power to find out who did this. Most of the blame has been put on the supporters of Russian candidate Victor Yanukovich (AKA Russian government).

Other possible culprits could be anti-Yuschenko electors, or even Yanukovich supporters back at the Kremlin in Russia. Originally Yanukovich won the election, but with the rigged poles, Yuschenko and his supporters launched the “Orange revolution” in which they protested the fixed results. They stood outside the city hall and protested the unjust officials. This lead to civil disobedience and a political crisis in society. This crime has a huge effect on the country of Ukraine as a whole. The election results would shape the future of the country, and it showed weakness at the head of government when the results came back with 115% of the people voted. With Yanukovich winning the election, Ukraine would be tied with Russian officials looking to hide nuclear weapons; but with Yuschenko victorious, Ukraine would gain independence to govern themselves.

After the rerun, Yuschenko declared himself prime minister of Ukraine. He later said, “For 14 years we have been free, but we have not been independent.” They no longer want to be guided by America, Europe or Russia; they want to be their own power. Yuschenko claims he was victim to a murder plot for a long time. As we all know, the famous Shakespearean Play of “Romeo and Juliet,” used a poison for Romeo to commit suicide. Also, poison has been used in other British writings such as, “The Poisoned Pen” with poison in written right in the title, and poison used to kill people in the story. In “The Poisoned Pen,” experiments of a lab go wrong and chemicals are mixed with reactive elements to produce a poisonous gas that ends up killing many lab workers. As for Yuschenko, his skin, especially on his face as been disfigured and discolored by the poisonous gas erupting his bodily system. Yuschenko was left with no internal damage, but it could eventually lead to a rare form of cancer if not treated.

Overall the poisoning of an innocent man to gain power in government is a travesty. With losing the election by default, the Russian government has done all they can to keep the crime under wraps. Yushenko was former prime minister before Yanukovich took over. Yanukovich was running for his second term as prime minister, but with his ties with the Russian government that he recently got involved in directed attention towards him and his followers. It is good to see that the right man won the election, but it is also sad that he has to suffer with a skin disease and disfigured features of his body. In addition to, it would be nice to see the culprit brought to justice in the reach for power of a revolutionizing country.






























Out of the many words in the English language, one word stands out with great meaning. Out of the eight hundred thousand words a dictionary would hold, the word educate is a powerful word that is essential and necessary in society. Without education, this world would not be around, never mind be capable of what it can do today. When humans first set foot on this earth, the human race we are today would not be in existence, had it not been for education of early humans that learned to adapt to the surrounding environment. Overall, education, and its root educate; one word that holds great meaning, is beneficial to the world today.

Educate is a word commonly used in school terms in most dictionaries. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, educate means “to provide with information, to inform, or to teach and instruct a person or group.”With Merriam Webster’s definition, they refer to the word educate as to teach or train someone. To educate someone with knowledge, is to give them useful information that they can use in their every day lives. Anything that turns for the worst or the better, one would obtain knowledge from the situation. A worker must be educated to accomplish certain tasks for their job. Most importantly a student must obtain as much knowledge and education through school as humanly possible to prepare for the real world. According to the online dictionary at wordnet.princeton.edu educate means to create by teaching and training. This would refer to a master and pupil relationship like a karate teacher.

As used in the Oxford English Dictionary the word educate means to rear or bring up a child, as by feeding of food and paying attention to physical wants. In a slightly different usage, it means to train or to develop physical, mental and emotional powers generally. The usage of the word educate appeared in 1588, in Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” in the sentence, “do not educate youth at the charg-house at the top of the mountaine. Along with Shakespeare, Emerson wrote about the word Educate as well. When it first appeared in his writing it was used as “to discipline, or to bring up a child or youth.” In 1841 of his book “Essential History,” he used this meaning in the sentence, “And the habit of supplying his own needs, educates the body to wonderful performances.” When used in the writing of Alfred Lord Tennyson, he refers to educate as “to carefully attend, and to train into shape.” When used in 1843, in Tennyson’s “Edwin Morris,” this particular usage was written in the sentence, “The education of infants at this tyme is essential.” The Oxford English dictionary displays numerous definitions of the word educate, but all are relative, and mean generally the same thing.

Usages of words in speech can change over time. Mostly, the word educate has remained the same in meaning to teach someone or to train. There are some small variations as to train, to rear, or to discipline someone. Basically though, the word educate is solid, it is famous and well known, and to some people is used in speech every day. People are educated not just in school, but socially, economically and religiously. Mark Sidney, a close friend stated his opinion of educate to be to train, or to teach someone knowledge. When used in a sentence he said, “Over time you can probably state that the meaning of learning will change, and how one will approach a studious career, but the word education is a foundation of learning and what it stands for, is what we learn every day in life. Ryan Rice, another close friends voiced that educate is something you learn in your every day life and that we all learn something and are educated every day. Peter Falanga, another close friend said that educate was to inform someone or to tell them something that they gain knowledge from. You do not have to be in school to hear various versions of the saying the word educate, because in speech education alone, stands for a sense of learning . With the importance of learning, the symbol of education will be eternal. Small variations have occurred over time, from learning knowledge, to disciplining, and raising a youth. Overall these versions form the basis for the source of our future: the education of the children of today.

Many schools and writers from schools have used the word educate in numerous accounts of their pieces. For example, writer Daniel Rogers for the Travel weekly magazine, in his article, “Educate the masses,” he uses educate in the title, and in the sentence, “ we would need to spend ten million dollars educating the UK population about the bonding situation.” He is talking about the problem the UK is having with the state of their economy. Also, Alexandra Wynn of “People Management Magazine,”in her piece, “Educate to Accumulate,” she uses the word educate in the sentence, “There should be free education for 19-25 year olds studying for their first level three qualification.(two A-levels.) Along with Danny Rogers, Alexandra Wynn talks about educating students in the UK, in college free if they are going for a degree. In Christine Gorman’s article in TIME magazine, titled, “Her Best Weapon Is Faith,” she uses educate in the sentence, “we need to educate teens on safer sex.” She is referring to a young girl who got AIDS from unprotected sex.

Education is important to foreign language speakers around the world as well. When asked, three foreign language speakers responded with their input on the word educate. Juan de La Cruz speaks Spanish and was born in Puerto Rico. He was nine years old when he moved to Franklin Massachusetts in the United States. He said, “Learning English was easy he thought because he knew some of it growing up in Puerto Rico. He also said that education was important in society and means the same in Spanish as it does in English. Nowadays he is seventeen years old. A close neighbor responded on the word educate as well. Her name was Eva Kolovson, and she is thirty six years old. She spoke German for most of her life. She said she learned to speak English at the age of eight and is her main language todya even with her strong knowledge of German. Her usage of the word educate was to teach or impress upon the mind an amount of knowledge. Undoubtedly she gave an accurate definition of the meaning of the word educate.

In the world today, education is an essential part of the present and future. Most can say that education has brought them to new heights and have shown them the path to better themselves in every aspect of their lives. We all learn something new everyday thanks to education, and it wont stop growing. The more youth that care about the environment, and their education, will be future leaders of the world, keeping countries up to date in technology, medicine, and athletics. The more you learn about the surrounding world around you, the more knowledge you have of what’s to come. Predictions are based on previous knowledge of a certain problem. You have to be educated to make a conjecture of that importance. For example, previous education of the weather allows you to predict the forecast for the upcoming weeks. Overall, education is the basis on the functioning of the world today, and is beneficial to the world to come.