English 11: Writing Portfolio    
Essay the First

Essay the Second

Essay the Third

Essay the Fourth

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  A piece of land that is of great importance to my family is the land on which my family’s home was built in West Roxbury.  This is the only house that I have ever lived in.  Not only is this my first home, it was the first home for three generations of my family.  My Uncle and Great Aunt moved here in the early 1950’s.  My mother still often tells me stories of how she would visit them for family holidays and special occasions when she was a little girl, never knowing that it would belong to her and my father someday.   After approximately ten years of living in this house, my Uncle Glenn and Great Aunt Stella sold the house to my Uncle Dan and Aunt Joan, my mother’s sister.  Uncle Dan, Aunt Joan and my two cousins, Danny and Sean, lived in the house for approximately another ten years and then sold it to my mother and father.  Mom and Dad bought it twenty-six years ago and have been living here ever since.  My sisters and I grew up here.  My sisters, who have since grown up and moved out, still come back to visit old friends they made back when they were my age.  They also come home to celebrate holidays and visit during vacations.  Whenever any of my relatives visits my home, they feel like they are revisiting the past.  
     
     The history of this piece of land was best remembered by a little old woman who lived in the house next door long before I was born.  Her name was Vera.  Vera was born and raised in this house.  She was like a town historian and would tell my parents about the old days back in the 1920’s when she was a girl.  Both of our houses are on top of a sloping hill.  Vera told my parents that when she was young, there were no other houses around us.  Our street was unpaved and there were no sidewalks.  She said our backyard was a pasture for cows and was filled with apple trees.  Today, there must be at least twenty-five or more houses in the land below us. Many of the new families who have moved into the neighborhood, look to my mother and father the same way they used to look to Vera for information about the past.
 
     Even though I am the youngest person living in my house and therefore have the least history to remember, I can look to the future and see how the house will be important to me.  Right across the street from my house lives my friend Andrew.  Andrew and I have been friends since first grade at St. Theresa’s School.  We played together every day, did sports together and shared friends together, and now we are both juniors at Catholic Memorial.  I expect that Andrew and I will be friends for years to come.
 
     My house represents a small version of the American Dream for my family.  My grandparents came from troubled countries.  My mother’s grandparents came from Poland and my father’s grandparents came from Ireland.  There they didn’t own their own land.  They were poor when they came to the United States and lived in tenement houses.  They had no property of their own and although their lives improved dramatically they still never owned their own homes.  Coming to America was a cherished blessing and watching their children and grandchildren succeed and buy  homes of their own meant achieving the American Dream. To my family, having the freedom to be able to succeed if you work hard is what it means to be an American.  The hardships that my immigrant relatives endured and their love for their families gives me a greater appreciation of what it means to be an American.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dead Tracks were very bright.  The light was gleaming through the thin branches of the Oak trees.  It was a very sunny afternoon, although, it was a very cold day overall.  It smelled awful because the mud was roasting in the sun since early morning.  By about 4:15, it was dusk and you could begin to hear the crickets barking off in the woods.  Some of the puddles glazed over into ice because of the extreme cold.  There were very few animals out except for one lonely brown seagull flying around in a circle.  It was cover in brown and black spots, possibly from the mud.  It looked as if it was lost, especially since all the other seagulls had already migrated South for the winter.  
 
     By the time that I arrived at the Dead Tracks it was already dark outside.  I could still see well because of the tall lights hanging from back of the Pet Club building.  I listened closely for anything at all.  I thought I heard water running so I followed the sound.  It was a humungous sewer.  I looked inside of it and found the running water.  The weather in the Dead Tracks was very frigid.  It was one of the coldest days of the year.  I noticed a stray black cat in the woods.  I began to follow the cat.  It did not notice that I was following it.  I watched it explore the ground, taking very cautious steps.  It began to clean itself and finally noticed me.  It dashed off into the woods jumping gracefully between jagged rocks and leaf piles.  I wandered deeper in the woods and noticed a mini-refrigerator.  The inside was burn to a crisp.  There was graffiti completely covering the outside.  
 
     It was a very windy day at the Dead Tracks.  There were several puddles of water and mud all around.  There was a puddle at least two feet deep that had a "Toys R' Us" cart submerged in its murky water.  I began looking much deeper into the Dead Tracks.  I noticed several empty beer cans labeled "Bud Light" and “Coors Light”.  They were very old and rusty.  I moved the empty case of "Bud Light" and noticed a large black and orange colored insect.  Its body was long and black and had several short orange legs.  The wind was blowing the trees and puddles around very quickly.  There were very few leaves on the trees and they seemed to be stuck to the bark.  The bark had a very stick sap coating on it and left a disgusting fell on my right hand.  
 
     I arrived at the Dead Tracks when it was becoming dusk.  It was very cold out and the puddles were frozen solid.  I focused on two squirrels that were chasing each other from tree to tree.  They were frolicking and jumping at each other's bushy tails.  I walked around looking for more animals and I found a white squirrel.  I had never seen a white squirrel before.  Its fur was a bright white smooth texture.  It chewed on an acorn for a while then crawled under some brush by a brown fence.  The trees were nearly bald with long dry branches hanging from them.  I felt it was ironic that there were so many dead trees in the “Dead Tracks.”  I went back to the sewer and there was no water flowing.  There were large jagged rocks on the floor of the rusty brown sewer.  
 
     At the Dead Tracks it was by far the coldest day yet.  There was frost covering the bottom half of the Pet Club wall.  The frost looked like small snowflakes stuck to the wall.  I reached to touch one and it was so cold it felt like a burning sensation.  There were no leaves on the trees anymore.  I looked from tree to tree and I did not see one leaf on any.  On the ground, the leaves spread over the whole landscape.  All the leaves were stuck together forming a carpet covering all of the Dead Tracks.  When I picked up some of the leaves, they were in large wide clumps.  The puddles were frozen solid with leaves stuck inside of them.  The ice was at least six inches thick.  There was no wild life around.  The name “Dead Tracks” truly makes sense.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack London will always be remembered as a great twentieth century novelist.  He often wrote novels that involved men versus nature.  In each of Jack London's novels, he anonymizes his characters.  He reveals to us the power of mother nature and explains that she should never be underestimated. In his novel "The Call of the Wild", he displays the relationship between men, animals and nature.  It is a story of a dog named Buck, and his struggle for survival.  The book also shows how men can be very cruel to canines.  This novel is explained in the first person point of view.  Dialogue is also tied into the novel and how men interact with each other during unpromising situations.  Another theme that London displays is trust and how it takes time for Buck to learn to trust his owners. This novel gives us a clear interpretation of the powerful wrath of Mother Nature and how dogs cope with abusive owners.    
 
  Jack London reveals to us a strong character in his book "The Call of the Wild". His name is Buck and he is a half St. Bernard, and half Sheep dog.  Buck was kidnapped by a gardener and sold to dog traders.  He was always beaten and treated poorly.  The author shows how dogs were beaten back in the early twentieth century.  This trained Buck to be a vicious, angry dog. London shows all of his mixed feelings and emotions during the course of the book.  From Buck being happy and to him being alone in the world and in physical anguish.  London shows Buck learn and develope into a more mature self-concerned dog.  As more and more terrible situations arise for Buck, he matures from them and also becomes more like a savage.  
 
  Buck learns to realize that he is on his own and cannot trust anyone.  He feels he is on his own and does not trust his new owners.  London displays Buck as a dog on his own whose way of life is survival of the fittest.  The author also shows how Buck bottles up his anger inside and is waiting for someone to cross his path again.  For example, "For two days and nights Buck neither ate nor drank, and during those two days and nights of torment, he accumulated a fund of wrath that boded ill for whoever first fell foul of him."  Buck does not get close of attached to anyone or anything.  London's character, feels that humans are evil and should not be trusted.  This is all due to his corrupt past dealing with abusive owners.  As Buck witnesses more and more death to his fellow sled dogs and friends, he becomes more ruthless and untrusting.  Anything that Buck gets close to dies, gets traded away, or is killed.  London shows Buck in a constant struggle of being lonely and not being able to trust anyone.  All his fellow sled dogs are dying out and he feels he is on his own.   
 
   Buck lived through a tramatic past and his future was looking grim.  He was once again traded to terrible owners and his moral was lower than ever.  Buck and four other dogs were the only ones still alive.  They were constantly being neglected are fed every couple of days if the owners remembered.  London's theme of survival of the fittest is at its climax now.  There was a big fight between his abusive owners and a man named John Thornton.  John takes Buck and finally his terrible owners finally come to an end at the end of the book.  He has finally found a place that he can call home.  He also now can trust his new owner and can let his guard down.  Buck can put his savage-like nature behind him, and can put his trust in his new owner.
 
  The theme of man versus nature and man under estimating Mother Nature was what ultimately killed Buck owners at the end of the book.  Their thick headedness was their downfall, but it was Buck's way of escaping.  Mother Nature weakened his owners because they under estimated how powerful the cold could be.  London displayed his theme throughout the book.  Buck finally finding a home at the end of the book showed a bright light of sunshine through a long dark path.  He went through many hardships and drama until finally he could lay his guard down.   Buck overcame abuse and starvation and many other hardships before he could finally settle down and live a safe and peaceful life without always having to watch his back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The game of Lacrosse is considered to be America's first sport.  It was born of the North American Indian, christened by the French, and adapted and raised by the Canadians. Modern lacrosse has been embraced by athletes and enthusiasts of the United States and the British Commonwealth for over a century. The sport of lacrosse is a combination of basketball, soccer and hockey. Size does not matter in Lacrosse. The game requires coordination and agility. Quickness and speed are two highly prized qualities in lacrosse. It is an exhilarating sport,  fast paced and full of action.  Lacrosse is a fast growing American sport that will continue to grow for years to come.
   
    Lacrosse is played with a stick, the crosse, which must be mastered by the player to throw, catch and scoop the ball.  Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing team sports in the United States.  Once a minor pastime played in the shadows of baseball stadiums in the Northeast of the United States, lacrosse has become a national sport with more than 250,000 active players. The name "Lacrosse" was given by the French, who played a similar game. Good teamwork was essential, and players had to be extremely fast and agile.  
 
  Lacrosse is the oldest sport in North America, with its origin dating back to the 1400s. It did not become generally known and talked about however, until the 1600s when a Jesuit missionary named Jean de Brebeuf saw the Hyron Indians play it. In a report to his superiors, he stated little about the actual play of the game but seemed to be intrigued by the stick the Indians used while playing. Jean de Brebeuf likened the stick the indians competed with, to the "crosier" carried at religious ceremonies by a bishop. Thus, the name la crosse evolved, and this later became simply "lacrosse."
 
  I interviewed my cousin Daniel Donovan.  He played for the Brookline High School Lacrosse team in 1995 through 1998.  He was the captain of the team in his senior year.  I asked Dan why Lacrosse is so American, he told me, "I feel that it is a true team sport.  A team plays together as a whole and always sticks together.  America is also a team because of the past tragic events with terrorism and how we never gave up.  The whole nation came together as one just as teams do in Lacrosse. Lacrosse is a fast growing American sport and will continue to grow in the future."  I asked Dan also what is his favorite thing about lacrosse and he said, "I love that if you work hard and give it your all, that anyone can be good at this sport.  It is a relatively easy game to learn, and is a great team sport."
 
   Lacrosse is a growing American sport and will be growing for years to come.  The game is becoming more widely spread over the last few years.  The future of Lacrosse in America is going to be big like all the other American sports like baseball and basketball.  A great movie on Lacrosse that I have seen is called "The 3rd Team on the Field."  It is by a great director Steve Stenerson and I suggest that you invest in that movie to learn more interesting facts and rules about the great American sport of Lacrosse.