English 10: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2006-2007

   
   
   
   
   
Research  
   
Creative Writing  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  .
   
   
  The object is displayed on the black antique hutch in our family room. The shiny, black firehat is
small and smooth to the touch. It has been delicately crafted to perfection. This unique sculpture
has many different color values of black, white and gold. The figure is the most valuable and
precious craft in our humble home. The number 42 boldly stands out representing a man's
courage.
 

My mother highly respected and admired her father. He was a tremendously proud influence in her
life. In 1978 my grandfather retired from his honorable duty as a fireman. Inspired by him, she
created a work of art in his honor during her senior year in high school.
 

This symbolic tribute was constructed by my mother twenty eight years ago using water, plaster and
paint. After three attempts it looked flawless. When my grandmother first gazed at this gesture of
love she was speechless. The helmet illustrates my grandfather's lifelong bravery and
dedication to his career.
 

The model figure has strongly encouraged our family to be proud, fearless and selfless. It
represents my grandfather's struggles and accomplishments. He earned this masterpiece because
he saved so many lives and overcame so many fears. When you are a firefighter you put your life on
the line everyday to help others. My grandfather hid his fears because he knew people depended on
him to survive.
 

The unveiling of this dedication at my grandfather's retirement party was the highlight of his
achievements. The modest helmet exemplifies pride, respect, courage, discipline and most of all
love. For 16 years it stood among the family portraits in my grandparents living room. Now we are
honored to feature it in our home.
 

My grandfather has passed away but he will never be forgotten. He died at 73 from lung cancer. He
ran into burning buildings fearlessly while saving countless lives. The helmet depicts a lifelike
image of my grandfather's legacy of love and courage.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  The Rock, as I like to call it, is a unique contribution to society. It is a strong and powerful
force which can withstand the torturous wrath of time. This monstrous mass of stone proudly stands
about fifty feet high. For me, the Rock is a secure and comfortable place which helps me feel safe.
I frequent this natural beauty to contemplate and get away from it all.

This rustic essence rises high and mighty on my property right next to my house on Tobin Road, West
Roxbury, Massachusetts. As I look up at it from rock bottom, I can faintly hear it calling my name.
As I ascend the Rock it illuminates a welcoming presence. While sitting on the highest peak of the
Rock, I can feel the crisp, clean oxygen rushing through my lungs. The natural purity of the oxygen
encourages my thoughts to clear. All my worries are stripped away. The beauty of life can be
appreciated in the abundance of animals and insects who take shelter here. As I observe my
surroundings I spy birds gathering twigs for their nests, squirrels chomping on acorns, chipmunks
nestling under leaves, and rabbits cuddling their young. Though I am quiet and non-threatening,
they do not see it that way. They choose instead to flee from my presence. These habituous
creatures appear to live in harmony.

The path leading to the Rock's highest peak is jagged and steep. I must brace myself and grab
hold of the nearest slippery branch as I attempt the climb. The thorns on the branches are sharp
and prickly which makes the adventure more hazardous to pursue. Sadness and disgust surround me as
I see broken bottles, soda cans, and trash thrown around the Rock. I think to myself. How dare
they! I stop in my tracks and quickly pick up the garbage hoping the Rock was unharmed and unaware.
I eagerly continue my climb. The squirrels scale the skyscraper trees which tower over me. Once
at the top, I gaze down upon the never-ending Rock; it looks depressed and naked because mother
nature has removed the greenery temporarily but its beauty remains intact.

The dark ground is freshly wet and mud-filled because rain arrived just this morning. The abundance
of rocks connected and unconnected are dirty and slippery. Each individual rock is a stepping stone
to the next. One very special rock among the many scattered here is my favorite. It is the only
one, which, upon standing on it gives me the perfect lookout to survey the magnificent natural
scenery.

The Rock overlooks Draper Field which is directly behind my house. It is a haven for the sports
fanatic. I will often sit high up on the Rock and watch youngsters hitting baseballs, teenagers
kicking soccer balls, and older folks throwing footballs on Thanksgiving Day. Whether I am in a
good mood or a bad mood, the Rock is like my second home.

When I am up there, on the Rock, I stand tall physically and emotionally. I feel like I am in a
different world, a world where humanity and urban settings are not present. I feel that the Rock is
unappreciated by society because it is isolated and not fancy enough for some. The Rock is one of
the few natural sights but it is struggling to survive environmental changes. People should
appreciate the beauty of the Rock because it unifies us with nature and all it has to offer. The
Rock provides me with comfort and security and never lets me down.
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack London was an American novelist and short story writer whose works dealt with the overwhelming
power of nature and the struggle for survival. He was born in San Francisco in 1876. London’s
experiences in Alaska in 1897 taught him about humankind’s ability to control the forces of nature.
He turned his Alaskan adventures into short stories and novels. His memories and stories from there
made his name well known. London soon became the highest paid writer in the country. His best
works depict a person’s struggle for survival against the powerful forces of nature. His writing
combines powerful survival realism with humanitarian sentiment.


Jack London’ stories depict the existence of the struggle between man and nature. From Social
Darwanism London believed that to survive, man must adapt to irresistible natural forces. His
writing is described as examples of literary naturalism. London’s works sought to demonstrate the
influence of nature upon the main characters and their realization of that influence. They show the
indifference of nature to the fate of the individual and human condition. The Law of Life published
in 1901describes man’s inability to adapt to the world around him. The law of life is death. When
an individual is no longer able to contribute to life, death is their way of giving back to life.
London writes about the far north, and as he points out in many of his stories, the rules in the far
north are different than in any other regions. The Indian custom of allowing the elderly to die
alone, before their natural death is necessary for the survival of the tribe. In The Law of Life,
London’s main theme points out that accepting nature’s law of death is the right thing to do, if
nothing is left to accomplish to make life worth living.


London uses the third person point of view of one main character. The Law of Life describes the
thoughts of the narrator, an old Indian chief, Old Koskoosh, who is waiting for death in the far
north. Koskoosh is left by his tribe and his son with just fire and wood because he is too slow to
keep up with the tribe. He feels weak and worn but he believes it is right for him to die now. “I
am as a last year’s leaf, clinging lightly to the stem. My voice is becoming like an old woman’s.
My eyes no longer show me the way of my feet, and my feet are heavy, and I am tired. It is well.”
Koskoosh has an understanding of life, and “to perpetuate was the task of life, its law was death.”
London utilizes the many memories of Koskoosh that vividly capture his youth and life. As he
reflects, he remembers a time when he observed an old moose stalked, worn down, separated from the
herd and killed by a pack of wolves. The bull moose struggled vigorously to survive but to no
avail. “The trail was red now, and the clean stride of the great beast had grown short and
slovenly.” The weak, the old and the sick are singled out and hunted while the strong worked
together. Koskoosh proudly reflects that he was a strong leader of men and an able warrior. He
also thinks about the good times he had when the tribe feasted and many children were born. He
ponders the time when he left his father to die in the snow and ties to imagine how his father felt
back then. Through these thoughts and memories London demonstrates how just the “law of life” is.
Old Koskoosh begins to understand the law of life and accept death by respecting the laws of nature.
“Nature did not care. Such was the law.”


Koskoosh, like the moose, is left behind in a similar fashion by his tribe. As he sees his past,
he understands his future and reasons that death is inevitable. Koskoosh hears the howling of the
wolves. “The familiar long-drawn howl broke the void, and it was close at hand.” The fate of the
old moose is a mirror image of his own fate as Koskoosh tries unsuccessfully to fight the pack.
Soon after, Koskoosh gives in and accepts that his time has come now. There was no resistance left
in him. “Why should he cling to life? “ as he dropped his burning stick to the snow. Like the old
moose, Old Koskoosh succumbs to nature’s law of death. “What did it matter after all? Was it not
the law of life?”


Koskoosh sees and understands death as a logical, natural part of the order of things. He accepts
his fate with dignity and without self-pity. As in London’s “To Build A Fire”, the main character
also surrenders to nature’s law of death. However, both the old moose and Old Koskoosh knew and
respected the laws of nature while this man did not. London helps the reader feel with the
character, suffer with him and understand how Koskoosh adapts his view on death. Even though he
didn’t find it easy to die, he accepted it as natural and just. It is a difficult step to take but
the right one. Jack London’s philosophy remains constant throughout his works. We must bend to the
same law. Life is a struggle and gives us certain duties and when they are accomplished, we must
obey the law of life and accept death.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snowboarding has earned its right to be called an American sport because it expresses free spirit
and creativity like the freedom America enjoys. Snowboarding was introduced in the United States in
the 1960s. In 1965, Sherman Poppen invented the “snurfer” (snow and surf) by attaching two skis
together along with a rope to help the rider steer and balance. It was the first commercially made
snowboard. Over the next ten years early founders, Jake Burton, Demtrije Milovich, and Tom Sims
constructed more specialized board designs. Snowboarding is a fast-paced individual sport that
involves speeding down a snow-covered slope, mountain, or hill using a snowboard that is a device
that is attached to the rider’s feet by a boot or a binding.


Freestyle/freeride and alpine carving are the two main styles of snowboarding, each requiring its
own specific equipment, the former being the most popular. Freestyle snowboarders demonstrate their
skills and maneuverability with jumps, turns, spins and acrobatics mainly on a half-pipe. Freeride
involves descending down the slope or mountainsides. Throughout the years snowboarding grew from a
sport with a “rebel” image to a highly respected and widely popular American sport. The sport has
grown in its appeal from adolescents to include men and women in all age ranges.


Snowboarding fever hit the slopes in the eighties and continued to increase in popularity throughout
the nineties. In 1985 the first magazine dedicated to snowboarding was a tremendous success. By
1994 snowboarding was officially recognized as a sport and has since been governed by the
ISA(International Snowboard Association). The International Olympic Committee declared snowboarding
an Olympic sport, making its Olympic debut in Nagano, Japan in 1998.


By 2000 snowboarding was the fastest growing sport in the United States with the number of
snowboarders rising to over 7.2 million participants. (Arnold 5) More than three out of four
resorts said snowboarding was important to their overall profitability. “Resort owners would be in
a world of hurt if not for the dramatic growth in popularity of snowboarding”, says Sean O’Brien,
managing editor of Transworld Snowboarding Business. (qtd. American Demographics 2) Snowboarders
once thought of as menacing teenagers were now the backbone of the industry.


Snowboarding’s mass appeal is also attributed to the nature, style, and character of this American
sport. The snowboarding sensation is like nothing else. As a somewhat experienced snowboarder
myself, the free-spirited feeling of flying through the air is fun, exhilarating, and addicting.
Snowboarding is similar to skiing but from my experience it is more challenging and unique and has
earned the reputation to be in a league of its own. It fills you with a feeling of being superhuman
while challenging yourself creatively.


Professional and amateur snowboarders continually challenge themselves with speed, skill, and creativity.  Amateur snowboarder Ted Rossi began snowboarding at Gunstock Mountain in Gulford New Hampshire. He took on snowboarding because he despised skiing. His favorite snowboarders are Danny Kass and Travis Rice. Rossi states, “Snowboarding represents what it means to be an American because through snowboarding you have the freedom to do what you like.” (Rossi) He feels that the sport has a
bright future because it is an Olympic sport and the pros keep getting better. Fans flock to
snowboarding competitions throughout the world. Today the Olympics, Winter X Games, and the U.S.
Open are broadcast worldwide and the competition to be the best is fierce. Professional
snowboarders have risen to celebrity status endorsing well-known products including their own
clothing lines and snowboard gear. Snowboarding videos are very popular and are used as forms of
advertisement.


The United States dominated the 2002 Winter Olympics winning six medals. Danny Kass, Ross Powers,
and J.J. Thomas led the American’s first medal sweep since 1956. The women’s team was also strong
with Kelly Clark winning the gold. If you don’t think it could get more impressive, think again. In
the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, the United States snowboarding team soared winning seven medals.
Shaun White, nicknamed the “Flying Tomato”, won the gold medal in back to back 900s. Danny Kass,
two time Olympic silver medallist, says, “I think snowboarding is the heart and soul of the Olympic
games.” (Robertson 1) Snowboarders are second only to figure skaters as the most popular winter
Olympic athletes. In an interview with Jay Leno, Shaun White exclaims, “Snowboarders use to thumb
their nose at the establishment. Now they are the establishment.” (qtd. Robertson 1) While the
number of skiers in the United States has dropped from10.6 million to 5.9 million in the past
decade, snowboarder participation has increased from 1.6 million to 5.1 million according to the
National Sporting Goods Association. (American Demographics 3)


Snowboarding emulates the true free spirit represented in the American sport because it encourages
the qualities of American freedom, fun, exploration, creativity, and competition. Of fellow
snowboarder Danny Kass, White says, “Danny’s creativity really stands out. It’s not the big tricks
he does, but how he puts a spin on the everyday stuff. Danny is sick because he does things his
way.” (qtd. Sherowski 1) “That’s snowboarding, x-treme, x-citing, x-hilirating, and something
America and the world will see much more of,” says Powers. (ESPN 2) Snowboarding and the fans’ love
of this American sport are here to stay.

   
   
   
   
   
  .