Miami University Best of Portfolios 2001
Editor—Brenda Helmbrecht Assistant Editor—Connie
Editorial Board—Meredith Love, Diana Royer, Jeff
Sommers, Michelle Wiener, Morris Young
Miami University Department of English Oxford, OH
Reflective Letter 7
Nicole DiNardo 9
Theresa Donofrio 11
Megan Malanchuk 13
Sarah Mandlehr 15
A Narrative or Short Story 17
Nicole DiNardo, “Beautiful Muddle 19
Andrew McKenzie, “A Different Religion” 21
Kristen Price, “My Hardest Test” 23
Dana Sinopoli, “A Price for Freedom: A P.O.W. Story”
An Explanatory, Exploratory, or Persuasive Essay 27
Abby Olexa, “Sacrificing All to Save a Few” 28
Bethany Pierce, “The Heart of the Problem” 32
Kristen Price, “Art Department:
More Than Just Pretty Pictures” 34
Stephanie Wood, “Blaming Irresponsibility” 36
A Response to a Text 39
Jessica Keel, “Religion: Myth and Mistake in Native Son”
Brendan Klosterman, “Woman: Doll, Child, Slave” 43
Reynold Toepfer, “Discovering Truth” 45
Stephanie Wood, “Softly Spoken Strength” 48
Complete Portfolios 51
Scott Gruenbaum 52
Camilla Hileman 62
Pamela Spellman 70
2001 Scoring Guide for Portfolios 78
Characteristics of Effective Portfolios 78
Scoring Scale 79
Guidelines for Non-Sexist Language 80
Advice from Portfolio Scorers 82
Specific Suggestions for Improvement 83
Frequently Asked Questions 85
2002 Portfolio Submission Information 88
Portfolio Contents 89
Essential Instructions 90
Portfolio Information Form 91
Supervising Teachers 92
In 1990, Miami University became the first institution of higher learning to award
students college credit and advanced placement based on a collection of their best high
school writing. Few universities across the country present first-year students with the
opportunity to receive advanced credit by submitting a portfolio; Miami‟s program is
unique, and we hope you take advantage of it.
The Miami University Portfolio Writing Program was established by Laurel Black,
Don Daiker, Jeffrey Sommers, and Gail Stygall in order to value and encourage high school
writing and to provide a fairer way of evaluating it than the standard time placement
examinations. The success of the program owes much to the continuing support of Dianne
Sadoff, Chair of the Department of English, former Chair, C. Barry Chabot, and of College
Composition Directors, Diana Royer, Jennie Dautermann, Mary Fuller, John Heyda, Susan
Jarratt, and Max Morenberg.
Five outstanding secondary English teachers helped create the portfolio program:
Marilyn Elzey of Talawanda High School in Oxford; D. J. Hammond of Madeira High
School in Cincinnati; John Kuehn of Kettering Fairmont High School; Ten Phillips of Mt.
Healthy High School in Cincinnati; and Doris Riddle of Norwood High School in
Cincinnati. Other high school teachers whose recommendations helped shape the program
are Angela Brill of Mount Healthy High School; Bob Dizney of Fairfield High School;
Teresa McGowan of Hamilton High School; and Penni Meyer and Sharon Rab of Kettering
Fairmont High School.
The portfolio program has been supported by the Fund for the Improvement of
Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) of the U.S. Department of Education. Additional funding
has come from the Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA), the Miami
University College for Arts and Science, the Miami University Center for the Study of
Writing, the Ohio Writing Project, and the Follett‟s Miami Coop Bookstore.
For conducting the 2001 scoring session, we thank the Portfolio Coordinating
Committee: Brenda Helmbrecht, Connie Kendall, Meredith Love, Diana Royer, David
Ramsey, Jeffrey Sommers, and Michelle Wiener.
We also appreciate the work of our colleagues who read and evaluated the portfolios:
Murial Cunningham, Don Daiker, Todd Davis, Kim Dillon, Ellen Elder, Bill Fisher, Kate
Francis, Patricia Gibson, Cheryl Heckler-Feltz, Brenda Helmbrecht, Bethalee Jones,
Christopher Jones, Christy Karnes, Connie Kendall, Rodrigo Lazo, Chao Li, Meredith Love,
Barbara McBrady, Dom Micer, Jennifer Montani, David Ramsey, Paul Teasley, Sidelia
Reyna, Amber Rife, Vida Robertson, Diana Royer, Kellie Shepard, Kay Siebler, Jason
Skipper, Jennifer Smith, Jeff Sommers, Melissa Summy, Shevaun Watson, Sara Webb-
Sunderhaus, and Michelle Wiener.
We are grateful for the assistance of the English Department secretaries: Jackie
Kearns, Kathy Fox, Debbie Morner, and especially Trudi Nixon.
Finally, we thank all of the dedicated high school English teachers who have given
their students the time, opportunity, and motivation to work on the various kinds of writing
that a portfolio requires. In both their reflective letters and personal correspondence,
participating students frequently share the appreciation they feel for these teachers whose
classrooms have made a difference in their lives as writers — and as people.
Who is this girl awake late at night, fighting with the words? I am that very girl. I
often sit at my desk, well after my parents have gone to bed, and attempt to write. In
my mind, writing a beautiful piece is a true challenge. To be able to write eloquently
and with such passion that the work leaves the reader in awe is what I envision as
the ultimate goal. Lately, I have found myself questioning my ability to write
powerfully, or even to write well at all. I struggle with the words, pitting one against
another, looking for the exact array to capture emotion on paper. I wonder if my
writing conveys anything to the reader. Uncertain if my work “measures up” to the
psychological standard I have set, I find myself questioning: Is my work “good
Theresa Donofrio, Reflective
As these lines from Theresa Donofrio‟s Reflective Letter suggest, writing can
sometimes feel like a “struggle” as we search for beauty, eloquence, and power in our
words. Theresa also wonders if she is successful in her writing, if it “measures up,” if it is
“good enough?” These are doubts that writers often feel, especially when they feel they do
not have the chance to fully demonstrate their writing in a variety of ways. This is the goal
of the Miami University Portfolio Program—to provide incoming first-year students with
the opportunity to demonstrate their skill and depth as writers. While Miami University
recognizes the value of writing instruction at the college level, it also believes that there are
students who are already writing at a very high level and who can benefit from submitting a
portfolio for credit. Over the last 10 years we have averaged 400-500 portfolios submitted
for credit out of an entering first-year class of about 3000 students. Of these 400-500
portfolios about half receive either 3 or 6 credits. While we encourage students to submit a
portfolio, we also have very high standards. The Best of Miami University’s Portfolios 2001
is meant to share with you outstanding work submitted last year as well as to assist you in
preparing a portfolio.
The creation of a writing portfolio is a process, where writers select pieces, revise
their writing, and think about how they compose this portfolio. We chose the following
portfolios and essays to appear in The Best of Miami University’s Portfolios 2001 because
they reflect this process of writing, where student writers have carefully thought out and
revised their writing to articulate their unique voices and style, as well as to address a
specific audience and purpose. For example, in her Reflective Letter, Nicole DiNardo
creates an imaginary persona as a mime to describe what she has included in her portfolio
through “silent words.” In “A Different Religion,” Andrew McKenzie challenges the reader
with a satire of the world of computers. With force and insight in her essay, “Sacrificing All
to Save a Few,” Abby Olexa describes the controversy over school vouchers. And in “Softly
Spoken Strength,” Stephanie Wood is able to present a sustained and careful analysis of
Janie from Zora Neale Hurston‟s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Complete portfolios by
Scott Gruenbaum, Camilla Hileman, and Pamela Spellman represent what we saw as overall
excellence in both the written work and the compiling of the portfolio. These, as well as the
other entries in The Best of Miami University’s Portfolios 2001, offer a myriad of
approaches to writing.
The Best of Miami University’s Portfolios 2001 consists of three complete portfolios
and selections from fourteen others. A complete portfolio consists of four pieces: 1) a
reflective letter introducing the author and the portfolio; 2) a narrative or short story; 3) an
explanatory, exploratory or persuasive essay; and 4) a response to a text. Each section and
complete portfolio is prefaced with an introduction explaining why The Best of Miami
University’s Portfolios Committee members evaluated it so highly.
All portfolios are evaluated by at least two readers according to a six-point scoring
scale: the 2001 Scoring Guide is reprinted in the Appendix. A portfolio rated “very good”
or “excellent” (“5” or “6” on the scoring scale) earns six credits in college composition and
completely fulfills the university writing requirements. A portfolio rated “good” (“4” on the
scoring scale) earns three credits in college composition as well as advanced placement
(ENG 113). A portfolio rated “average” or lower (“3,” “2,” or “1” on the scoring scale)
means the student will enroll for two semesters of college composition.
While creating a portfolio is an added time investment, such an endeavor is a
worthwhile project not only for the opportunity to potentially earn college credit, but also for
the experience students gain from creating a portfolio, an activity they will most likely be
required to do at some point in their college career. Portfolios encourage authors to
approach texts with an eye to revision, and permit readers to experience the many facets of a
particular author‟s style of composition. However, it should be noted that the entries
presented here should not serve as templates or “models” but rather as a challenge to future
writers to employ dynamic styles of writing and to enter into new areas of content.
Our intention in presenting these pieces is to encourage each and every writer—as
we are all writers—to produce and submit what he or she feels is his or her best work. In
doing so, we hope that your experience matches Sarah Mandlehr‟s when she describes in her
Reflective Letter the process of writing and the process of becoming a writer: “I guess that I
want it all; the romanticism, the intellectual challenge and the traditions — these are the
things that I write about. I hope that when you read the three works that I have sent you that
you can glimpse a little of the person I am and envision the person I am becoming.”
Diana Royer Acting Director of the Portfolio
Morris Young Director of the Portfolio
The reflective letter, addressed to Miami University writing teachers, sets the tone
for the portfolio, introducing not only the writer but the individual pieces as well.
Readers are not expecting a narrative of your experiences and growth as a writer
but, rather, evidence of the critical reflection used in assembling and producing the
portfolio. To that end, most useful letters explicitly introduce the pieces and explain
the purpose and audience for each piece. Both creative and more traditional letters
of introduction are acceptable.
As you begin assembling your portfolio, you might be thinking to yourself, “What
will help my „reflective letter‟ of introduction become an interesting piece of prose?” The
four reflective letters included in this year‟s Best of Miami University’s Portfolios collection
will answer this very smart and important question. What will become clear as you read
these letters is the sense that each author is able to express her ideas through a uniquely
engaging, and thus inherently “interesting,” writing style. While each reflective letter is
mechanically flawless with respect to Standard English spelling, punctuation, grammar and
usage rules, the success of these four letters is equally dependent upon each author‟s ability
to be somehow “present” in her writing. Kate Ronald (1999) describes this sort of effective
writing style as “writing where „somebody‟s home,‟ as opposed to writing that is technically
correct but where there‟s „nobody home,‟ no life, no voice”(171). Thus, as you revise your
reflective letter for inclusion in your portfolio, try to write in a style that reflects your
presence in the text. In other words, try to be “at home” in your writing.
Nicole DiNardo is uniquely “at home” in her letter of reflection, introducing herself
and the contents of her portfolio by fictively creating a city scene in which she describes the
reactions of passers-by to the various themes in her writing. Nicole‟s clever use of setting
and description demonstrates the ways in which the genre of letter writing can easily blend
with conventions from other genres, like fiction. Similarly, Theresa Donofrio‟s presence
manifests in her reflective letter as she deftly plays with the convention of point of view.
Theresa begins her letter in third-person with a brief scenario of a girl struggling to write at
her desk. When she asks, “Who is this girl awake late at night, fighting with the words?” her
answer (and the remainder of her reflective letter) is written in the first-person point of view.
Theresa‟s use of rhetorical questions effectively guides the reader through the specific
contents of her portfolio and invites the reader to get to know the writer behind the words.
Megan Malanchuk‟s letter of reflection opens with a playful description of herself as a
writer in her favorite “cherry-red-glow-in-the-dark” pajamas. Confessing that she worries
about her perfectionist tendency‟s harmful influence on her writing, she artfully employs the
image of her “childish” pajamas to explain how she is able to overcome her fears by
remembering how much fun she has had while writing the selections for her portfolio. In an
equally engaging reflective letter, Sarah Mandlehr graciously describes herself as an
authentic individual in a diverse school of other authentic individuals. Sarah‟s careful
evaluation of her personal interests and goals, especially as they are represented in her
various pieces of writing, shows a facility with language and a deeply reflective authorial
presence in her letter.
All four of these reflective letters are offered here to show the wide range of options
within this genre that are available to student-writers. Certainly, these letters show that the
four selected authors are able to successfully complete the task of introducing themselves
and the contents of their portfolio. By employing a writing style that clearly shows the writer
is “at home” in her text, each author also makes apparent the critical reflection that is
required in this letter of introduction.
For more examples of effective reflective letters, read the letters included in the
Complete Portfolio Section of this edited collection.
Ronald, Kate. “Style: The Hidden Agenda in Composition Classes or One Reader‟s
Confession.” The Subject is Writing. Ed. Wendy Bishop. Portsmouth, NH:
Boynton/Cook, 1999. 169-183.
Reflective Letter—Nicole DiNardo
Dear Miami University Writing Professors,
It‟s high noon and you are rummaging through a fanny pack for Kodak film. Saliva
dribbles off your chin as you eye the mustard yellow chili dog stand up ahead at West 15th.
On your left, a bohemian hunk sidesteps the chewing gum kaleidoscope at his feet as he
spits his tasteless-after-fifteen-minutes-spearmint gum onto the sunburnt asphalt. Your hot
dog preoccupation stifles you from noticing me. But my mute eyes watch on. While I watch,
I hear people say that I‟m quiet. So I thought I‟d take on the role of a mime to show you, an
unassuming tourist, who I truly am through my silent words. Although I cannot speak to
you, I can attempt to recreate my experiences for you and illustrate to you why I write.
Writing itself is exhausting. But for every moment I‟ve spent stalling time in the
bathroom at lunch, for every forkful of homemade cavetelli I‟ve eaten at Poppa‟s house, for
every stranger‟s eyes I‟ve stared into from a bus window, and for every urgent prayer
whispered to God at night, I must write. Just as I must be exhausted to fully sleep, I must
write to fully live.
As I present “Beautiful Muddle” to you, my flirtatious smile captures your curiosity
away from your bag of cinnamon pecans. In this piece, you will hear my candid voice
portrayed through different images of beauty. This work initially ran as a column for my
school newspaper on the mind mirage of self-image, but I used the original introduction and
transformed the detached commentary into a narrative of my personal battles with
appearance and perfection. Although the frivolities of prom are petty, the universal struggle
for identity is a timeless ache that must be dealt with and fulfilled. As I wrote about my
experience, I chose my words carefully, emphasizing sensual diction as a way of portraying
the superficiality of outward beauty.
My next selection, “On Being Cruel for Posh‟s Sake,” unsettles the woman on your
right as she guiltily glances down at her mink coat. This gruesome depiction of animal
cruelty in the fur industry is my plea for society to buy faux fur rather than to indulge in an
expensive luxury that harms innocent creatures. Although I‟ve been a vegetarian for four
years, I still purchase clothing products made from animals. A friend of mine questioned my
logic and encouraged me to research animal cruelty beyond the meat industry. My
discoveries led to this persuasive essay that examines another aspect of the destruction
caused by our society‟s base definition of beauty.
As you groove to the African beat of the drummers on the street corner, my final
selection, “The Lion and the Lamb,” transports you to people who have been oppressed by
Apartheid in South Africa. This piece is an analysis of Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan
Paton and explores Paton‟s message that ideal justice is beyond direct human experience.
This piece is important to me as my response reveals my deep faith in God—the root from
which all my other beliefs stem. It is to Him that I attribute the hope Africa has in the midst
of suffering, as well as the hope I have in the midst of my struggle for true identity.
Your gurgling stomach now seems less urgent as you notice the Jimi-Hendrix-
dreadlocks dream on your right wink at an hourglass figure woman wearing electric leather
boots clip, clippity, clapping by. And you appreciate my silent endeavor to capture images
and instill in yourself and others an awareness of life. For this is the reason I write.
A New Miami Student
Reflective Letter—Theresa Donofrio
Dear Miami University Writing Professors,
“Why can‟t I think of anything to write?” she thought. She shifted her gaze yet again
from the artificial light of her desk lamp to the window. Often, she would amaze herself at
how much time she had spent staring out that window, not particularly looking at anything
or thinking about anything, but giving her thoughts the freedom to wander, desperately
hoping they would land upon “a good idea.” She sighed and returned her attention to the
desk in front of her. Shrouded in darkness outside of the area lit by the desk lamp, she
focused on the blank white paper before her and tapped her blue pen on her desk. For her,
writing is an internal struggle.
Who is this girl awake late at night, fighting with the words? I am that very girl. I
often sit at my desk, well after my parents have gone to bed, and attempt to write. In my
mind, writing a beautiful piece is a true challenge. To be able to write eloquently and with
such passion that the work leaves the reader in awe is what I envision as the ultimate goal.
Lately, I have found myself questioning my ability to write powerfully, or even to write well
at all. I struggle with the words, pitting one against another, looking for the exact array to
capture emotion on paper. I wonder if my writing conveys anything to the reader.
Uncertain if my work “measures up” to the psychological standard I have set, I find myself
questioning: Is my work “good enough”?
Can I write with the power needed to make a reader stop and reflect upon our
society? “Hope” is a short story written with a specific purpose. Strongly influenced by the
lives of my two closest friends (who lived much like the character Hope), the story is meant
to be an allegorical look at society, its ideals, and the pressures of conformity. For what
looks like a light-hearted story about high school life, “Hope” ends with grim realizations
regarding both perception and the consequences of attempting to live the “perfect” life.
Can I write to persuade? While gene patenting may be an issue not yet made familiar
to the public, in upcoming years this hot topic will have a profound effect on biotechnology.
Forced to research this issue in order to compete in a science and social issues symposium,
the information I discovered destroyed my predisposition against gene patenting. I can only
hope that with my third piece, “The carrot at the end of the biotechnological stick,” I can
convince others of the benefits that gene patenting has to offer the scientific community, the
economy, and society.
Am I capable of analyzing the author‟s use of point of view? My fourth piece,
“Through the eyes of vermin: Kafka‟s use of point of view,” was written to explore Franz
Kafka‟s purpose in using third person omniscient in The Metamorphosis. Through the
exploration of perceptual differences between Gregor Samsa‟s view of his sister and reality,
my fourth piece states that Kafka‟s choice of point of view serves to underscore Gregor‟s
delusion as well as to provide for the ironic tone of the conclusion. I hope such an essay
offers an interesting theory for any reader familiar with The Metamorphosis.
How do I answer these questions? Sometimes, I never do. Sometimes there is that
lingering doubt over whether I have truly written well, or if my writing is little more than a
sequence of letters and spaces strategically spaced on a page. When I am able to overcome
that doubt, when I am confident in my work, it is because that piece comes from the soul. I
am finally realizing that good writing cannot be sterilely manufactured to impress some
distant audience. To write well, I think, one must prohibit the words from being censored by
the brain and allow them to flow from the heart. I strive to reach that point, when the doubt
will recede and the questions will stop. For now, I have answered my own questions to the
best of my ability. I will return to my desk having sent off my portfolio, knowing this
struggle with the words is over and awaiting the next. As you now read these words, written
by a distant girl, the questions are yours. It is now up to you: What will you make of her?
The girl at the desk
Reflective Letter—Megan Malanchuk
Dear Miami University Writing Teachers,
I have this great pair of pajamas that I got for Christmas. Of course, it‟s my only real
set of pajamas since most of my other sleep clothes are worn, faded t-shirts, sweatpants, and
hideous hand-me-downs from my older sister. This one and only sleep “outfit” includes a
pair of oversized drawstring pants that make a delightful “fffp, fffp, fffp” sound as they drag
across the tile in our front hallway. The shirt is like a swimming pool: shapeless and
awkward, it drapes from my shoulders like a beach towel on a toddler. Cute. These aren‟t
necessarily the greatest pajamas in the world; however, THEY GLOW IN THE DARK!
Cherry red with sprinklings of white stars, my pajamas shine, shimmer, sparkle, and
glimmer. Not only do these PJs supply endless-dancing-in-front-of-the-mirror-in-the-dark-
kinda-fun, but they are a reminder to the too serious, overly diligent, big grown-up in me,
that in the end, fun is all that really matters.
Occasionally my best friend, Desiarae, (with whom I dance in the dark in front of the
mirror) will inform me that I am awfully “overdramatic, oversensitive, and overemotional,”
which fortunately and unfortunately carries over into my writing. I desperately adore
adjectives and because I love words so much, I sometimes cannot determine when and
where to stop in my writing. Most times, I have trouble putting on paper exactly what is in
my head, but somehow, when I am finished, it always makes sense to me.
As the source of and solution to my pain, writing is simultaneously my toughest
opponent and my favorite companion. I remember when writing was simple, enjoyable fun
and not grammar, mechanics, clarity, diction, organization, syntax, voice, style, purpose.
Writing is a perfectionist‟s worst nightmare. (It would most likely be my worst nightmare if
I could get more than a few hours of desperate sleep each night.) I might blame my
perfectionism on my mom or my dad, but it‟s most certainly not their fault. Frankly, they are
too sweet to be at any fault. Somewhere along the way, I snatched up a huge collection of
ideals for myself and grew into the exceedingly ambitious individual that I am. I love my
childish, cherry, red, glow-in-the-dark pajamas in which I watch Saturday morning cartoons,
but that doesn‟t mean I don‟t work hard… very hard. Rightfully, I am proud and disturbed
by my writing and my points of weakness. I seek perfection in my writing, and the fact that
“perfection” is implicitly unfeasible only feeds my incentives. Nonetheless, in the end, those
feelings of annoyance and frustration with my writing are meaningless in comparison to my
My computer buzzes, warm like a toaster. And I huddle in front of it, cuddling time
with the sizzling machine. Sucking the warmth through my fingertips. It is 2:00 AM.
I snuggle deep within my cherry red pajamas and smile. Big, white teeth
everywhere. A movie-star-grin with Kim Bassinger lips. Tap, tap, tap. And then,
the weary keys rest in partial silence. Following is a sigh of contentment as I sit
back and marvel at perfection. For a nanosecond I am amazed with my own
achievement and then, as though the feeling had never even touched the tips of my
fingers, it has slipped through my grasp and I despise the piece before me. I see the
disorder, the flaws, all so clearly and with arrant disappointment. I sigh again, this
time with the whole exhaustion of an incessant insomniac. Tap, tap, tap, again.
And as the result of many enjoyably sleepless nights in front of my buzzing
computer screen, I have produced a portfolio that has awakened within me a new outlook on
writing: it is fun! A quote that I live by explains, “We are the authors of our own lives.”
Besides the silly, cherry-red-glow-in-the-dark-pajama-wearing, cartoon-watching girl that I
am, I am a busy woman with a life that is so full, I sometimes marvel at the idea that one day
I might just write a book about it. And so I begin my portfolio with a piece about me! my
life, the way that I think and live. Overflowing with adjectives and a voice that I have failed
to hear in many of my school-assigned writings, this is a narrative/descriptive piece that I
cannot read without cracking my (Kim Bassinger-lipped) smile. After all, it is my life.
My explanatory essay, “Perfect Love,” is one of the more thought-provoking essays I
have chosen to write. I chose to analyze two poems that I found intriguing; however, these
poems do not reflect my personal opinions and so producing this essay was a challenge. It
was planned out and organized on note cards, scratch paper, and took up space in notebooks
designated for other classes. I spent hours upon hours in front of my buzzing computer,
wearing my favorite pajamas, while working out sentence structures, thumbing through my
tattered thesaurus, and struggling to tie together my scattered thoughts and ideas. In calculus
class, I probably pondered “perfect love” and what Robert Frost and Paul Laurence Dunbar
had to say about it. For a few days, the concepts of this essay encompassed my mind. This is
unquestionably one of my many “process pieces” and illustrates the extensive preparation
that goes into my writing and ultimately helps me to produce a successful composition.
My final portfolio piece, “Devoured By Love,” is a research paper based on Hamlet
about Ophelia and love. This was the final writing assignment in my World Literature 12
class. Not only does this responsive essay represent my formal writing abilities (which may
be interpreted as not-so-risky), it also illustrates that despite instruction and years of being
told exactly what to write in each paragraph and sentence, I have benefited from my
“overdramatic, oversensitive, and overemotional” inclinations. I am very proud of this piece
as a formal and emotional work.
Now if you‟ll excuse me, I have some laundry to do… my cherry red glow-in-the-
dark pajamas are missing me.
A very excited first-year Miami student
Reflective Letter—Sarah Mandlehr
A group of girls with perfectly primped hair and flawless make-up turn a rosy pink
as the senior football players stroll down the hallway. Four soccer players kick a flat ball
stolen from the
P.E. locker room. The cast of Kizmet Arabian Nights, still in theatrical make-up, laughs and
shows off the new dance moves they just learned in theater class. A cluster of African-
American boys huddle around a garbage can making sounds that are Stomp worthy as two
beautiful girls hum and move to their music. Some kids wear clothes that look like a mixture
of my grandpa‟s wardrobe and Salvation Army castoffs. A cluster of girls, with the bronze
skin and satin hair of Korea, race to class and pass two guys “posted up” on their lockers
trying to act cool for the cheerleaders. Next to them are a couple of students struggling to
finish a trigonometry problem. Different races, cultures, ethnic backgrounds, interests, and
religions with one thing in common — they are all smart. This is my high school. This is not
I come from a white, Catholic, middle-class, two-parent family. It was too easy for
me to stay in my safe and sheltered world and I knew that to grow as a person I had to
choose a new environment. I chose to sit in classes with brilliant students from all around
the world who have often taught me more than my teachers. Our class discussions have
stimulated my mind, and I haven‟t been allowed to just sit back and listen anymore. I began
to question things and look for answers on my own without them being handed to me. My
peers have had such different experiences in life from mine, and they have opened me up to
a whole new spectrum of thinking. It was in writing my first piece, “Family Dinners,” that I
realized how different the world was from my upbringing.
“Family Dinners” is a narrative on my favorite family tradition, a tradition that I
found not everyone had the luxury of experiencing. Until I was a freshman in high school, I
was of the firm belief that all families sat down together every night around six-thirty for
dinner. All of my Catholic grade school friends followed this pattern, so why not the rest of
the world? I can still hear in my head the discussion held in my freshman English class with
Mr. Peacock when I was first exposed to the harsh realities of many kids‟ home lives.
Stories of deceased parents, poverty, abuse and neglect horrified me as these teenagers, just
like myself, opened up their world for everyone to hear. I didn‟t say a word that day. I was
stunned that so many of these brilliant students endured such hardships. These students
taught me more about the world than I will ever learn from a textbook. In realizing how
lucky I was to enjoy this traditional family dinner, I decided to put it on paper so I could
reflect on it whenever I was feeling greedy and remember what I have that many others
aren‟t as fortunate to experience.
While sitting in my AP Government and Politics class, I found myself struggling to
keep up because of my own inhibitions. Toward the end of the year it was somewhat
intimidating to participate in discussions with students who had already been accepted to
Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, and Princeton. I questioned my worthiness to speak out and
defend my point of view on topics such as gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and one of
our favorites, George W. Bush. I wanted to prove my intelligence more and more with
every topic that was brought up, but acceptance was important to me and I was afraid that I
would be shot down by one of the “Ivies.” An assignment was given to write a persuasive
essay on whether or not we thought the Constitution would remain viable in the new
millennium. Most of the students were overly excited because these papers would be
submitted to a contest and the prize was an all-expenses-paid, week-long trip to Washington
D.C. where you would sit in on Congressional meetings to get an inside look on how our
government worked. I wrote my paper with no real expectations of winning. After all, look
at my competition. I thought my piece turned out well because it displayed my point of
view, no interruptions, no one questioning my thoughts, no one eager to get in the last word.
This paper “Will the Constitution Remain Viable in the New Millennium?” restored my
confidence. I won the trip to Washington - - the runner up will be attending Harvard in the
The Romantic poets have always caught my attention. I am not interested so much
because of my love of their poetry, but rather because I envy the total bliss shown in their
work. Always talking about the sunrise, the nightingale, and the daffodil makes me think
that they lived in some sort of a Utopia. I appreciate the innocence and gentility that the
Romantic poets exhibited in their work even if it isn‟t at all “realistic.” My essay,
“Characteristics Used in Romantic Poetry,” takes a look into the world of William Blake,
John Keats, and Percy Shelley, fantasy and all. I can relate to this because, in a sense, I also
live in a fantasy world. I would much rather watch “Full House,” where people think
morally, than “Melrose Place,” where people think sexually. I still think that men should
stand when a woman leaves the table to use the restroom and that they should always offer
their seat to a woman without one, even though my father and grandfather are the only
people I know who still do this. I guess that I want it all; the romanticism, the intellectual
challenge and the traditions — these are the things that I write about. I hope that when you
read the three works that I have sent you that you can glimpse a little of the person I am and
envision the person I am becoming.
A Narrative or Short Story
This piece can be based on personal experience as a non-fiction narrative or can be
a short work of fiction. Its aim is to communicate the significance of an experience
or event through description, dialogue, and/or narration. Put another way,
successful pieces show rather than tell. The writing can be personal and informal.
This narrative or short story should have a title.
Each of the narratives published here illustrates qualities that our readers were drawn
to in reading the narratives and short stories students submitted. As a group, they
demonstrate a variety of ways that authors can successfully and creatively write in this
Anyone who has ever attended a high school prom will recognize the events
described in Nicole DiNardo‟s “Beautiful Muddle.” Her narrative is more of a description
than a story, but it comes alive through its adroit use of specific detail and its amused tone as
Nicole takes a long, hard look at the prom and at herself. While the events of the narrative
are the small ones of everyday life, the writing brings such intense life to the narrator‟s
experience through the use of realistic dialogue and recognizable emotions that readers‟
interest remains high throughout, right up to the narrative‟s satisfying resolution.
Andrew McKenzie‟s “A Different Religion” memorably employs a mock-heroic
style to tell his story of another familiar and ordinary encounter. His story amuses us as the
protagonist reveals just how important these events are to him through the use of
exaggerated and inflated language. While we read, we also realize that the story‟s
protagonist is an expert on the subject of his “religion,” and we are informed as we read, as
well as entertained. In this unorthodox way, Andrew has found a lively strategy to present
some strongly held opinions through story-telling, making his narrative one to remember.
In “My Hardest Test,” Kristen Price shows readers a meaningful experience in her
life, using dialogue and interior monologue to great effect. Her narrative takes a traditional
approach— beginning at the start and working straight through to the climax—but does so
with great efficiency and skill. Note how the story plunges us into the events immediately,
and how Kristen uses surprise to keep readers attentive until the very end when they finally
learn the significance of the events and the title.
Unlike the other writers, Dana Sinopoli does not narrate a story about a modern
teenager‟s familiar experience. Instead, “Price for Freedom: A POW Story” takes readers
back in history to bring readers the life of a teenager caught up in a terrible war. The
narrative compels readers to feel as if they were experiencing the events themselves through
the startling use of second person, a risky approach for a writer as readers often resist being
positioned as a protagonist. However, Dana brings history to life by using present tense to
weave facts and feelings into the story, relying upon an expert source for the historical
information. And the narrative eventually wins us over, convincing us that using second
person writing to tell this story is indeed the best way to make its point.
There is no formula to writing an effective narrative. These four examples differ
from one another in tone, structure, purpose, and style, and no single story or descriptive
essay will contain all of the qualities represented in these examples. However, the authors
whose works we have included use the particular elements described above very effectively
and with finesse.
For more examples of essays in this genre, read the Complete Portfolios included in
A Short Story or Narrative—Nicole DiNardo
Sometimes, when I lie on my back in the solitude of my room and the carpet bristles
my skin, the ridges in the ceiling spread like daddy-long-legs in port-o-potties. Sometimes,
when I lie in bed in the hush of the night and the moon is precisely angled outside my
window, the global light streaks across my pillowcase like tadpoles in silver ponds.
Sometimes, when my mind wanders…
I‟m fearless and flawless.
And sometimes, at these dreamy times, I am not an eighteen-year-old prom junkie
standing in the middle of my floor, facing my mirror, and whispering to the butter-fairies in
my stomach to buzz someplace else. I am not spending thirty agonizing minutes shaping one
frizzed curl with half a bottle of Green Tea Styling Gel or obsessing over which shade of
plum lip gloss best accents my eyes. I am not, as my ex-boyfriend used to say, “acting like a
Instead, I am already twirling on the dance floor, my auburn-fried hair bouncing with
charming confidence as I transcend all muddied doubts of myself. I am effortlessly and
naturally beautiful. I am—
“Don‟t forget to pluck the hair from between your eyebrows,” my mom‟s brassy
voice of reality plummets me back to my Mary-Kay dungeon of anxiety.
“Mom, pl-ea-se stop. I do not need you telling me what to do.” I innocently crank up
the volume two notches on my stereo in hope that River Cuomo‟s electric guitar can silence
her motherly concerns and rattle away my “I don‟t want to go anymores.” While the beat
vibrates and I lather my legs with freshly scented cucumber lotion, I begin to sway with
forced excitement. “I‟m going to have fun tonight,” I tell my stuffed dog, Douglass. But his
vacant eyes seem as convinced as my crackling voice. However, when I slip into my olive
chenille dress and brush my hands down the velvety material, I am contentedly satisfied.
Turning sideways and forward and sideways again in front of the mirror above my dresser, I
hunt for flaws, but my dress, an exact fit, complements my figure.
Yet just when my jitters begin to fizzle away, my mom hollers from the bottom of
the stairs, “Nicole, did you remember to put mints in your purse?”
I don‟t respond. Leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone.
“Nicole, did you—
“Yes, mother. I filled the gray box with wintergreen Altoids ten minutes ago,” I
croon sarcastically while gracefully stomping down the steps in my bronze high heels. Well,
I wouldn‟t quite call them high heels. I didn‟t want to tower over my date.
“You look gorgeous,” my mom breathes as I approach the last step. Intently
searching her eyes, I recognize her sincere love, and my muscles immediately relax. She is
impossible to stay angry at for an extended amount of time. I ask a mental prayer of
forgiveness—she never deserves the venom of my frustrations. My younger brother breezes
by us with an amused, self-assured smirk, his silver bracelet tinkling as he flips a sports coat
over his shoulders.
I open the refrigerator and pull out the standard cream-colored boutonniere from
Dandy‟s Flowers and turn to practice pinning the roses on my brother‟s lapel. My mom has
always done the honors for past dances, but I figure this is my senior year. I should know
how to pin a boutonniere. “Wait, does it go on the left or the right?” I ask.
My brother tenderly shakes his head, “The left.” Right. I knew that. My fingers
twiddle with the pin and grope with the bunching material, but after a few eternal seconds
the task is completed, and I feel prepared for anything. The doorbell rings. Well, maybe not
everything. Okay, Lord. Please don‟t let my cheeks look like two flaming flamingos, don‟t
let my voice sound like a frozen frog, don‟t let—
“Oh, hi, Samantha, Mark. Come on in. Matt‟s not here yet.” Mark strides into the
kitchen, chomping on a bag of barbecue potato chips while Samantha‟s gold metallic dress
glistens against her bronzed skin as they make their boisterous entrance. Immediately, a
whirl of grandparents, aunts, and siblings start clicking and flashing their cameras while the
three of us pose with plastered smiles. The red letters on our radio clock read 6:15 and
instead of fretting over Matt‟s whereabouts, I begin to ease into disillusioned clouds, once
again nimbly looping across the dance floor twinkle-winking at my peers as they stand
gaping around me.
“Matt‟s here,” my dad booms from the other room. “He‟s walking down the street.
Looks like he had to park a few houses down.” Subconsciously I poof my hair, smooth
down my dress, and hold my breath as I wander to the door. My 110-pound Golden
Retriever barrels excitedly into my side, beating me as always to a formal greeting. As I
open the door, I putter and avoid Matt‟s intense gray eyes, afraid mine will link with his and
melt my gelatin-composure. But I understand his smile. You look amazing too, I think.
The kitchen is awkwardly silent while 14 pairs of eyes watch Matt slide on my wrist
corsage. I try not to stare at his trembling hands. My own fingers are uncannily still as I
expertly weave the needle through the stem and onto his sharp black jacket. We stiffly
endure more creative photographs on the deck, the stairway, and the front porch. I don‟t
relax until we slide into the white leather backseat of Mark‟s uncle‟s Cadillac.
We careen around the corner, and Samantha rolls down her window, lights a
cigarette, and exclaims, “Holy pictures. Get together you two—this is my idea of pictures.”
We scoot as close together as my seatbelt will allow. I notice that despite Samantha‟s
elegant hair twist and being seated in a fancy car, she appears to be everything but the envy
of the school as she rummages through her clunky purse for her cell phone, reeking of stale
tobacco. And as she puffs smoke through her matted ruby lips, I glance at Matt. He captures
my eyes and instead of my composure melting, it‟s my Cinderella fantasy that dissolves.
In this moment, as the sun bounces like a fireball off our windshield and crackles
against headlights, the air dissociates into molecules of barely breathable oxygen. In this
moment, I may not be hip. In the moments to come, darkness may envelop our forms and
my moss eye-shadow and “Barely There” foundation may fade like lifeless clowns booed
out of the circus ring. In the moments to come, I may not dance like Janet Jackson.
No, in this moment, I am still an eighteen-year-old prom junkie. Although my
glittering fantasies of popularity and beauty may sometimes threaten my happiness, I know
who I am. I do not need to prove myself with a cigarette, a rowdy mouth, or a provocative
dance. And when the dandelions become a golden blur in my window, I feel their secret
whisper through my soul. I am beautiful.
A Short Story or Narrative— Andrew McKenzie
A Different Religion
He was dressed professionally, wearing a suit, tie, and dark black overcoat. His
glasses falsely spelled “nerd.” He was short, or at least shorter than I. I‟d say he was in his
late thirties, but who knows? I returned to Star Wars Racer, a video game based on the
movie Star Wars: Episode One, released the previous year. Tatooine was easy enough, so I
decided to move on to a more difficult racetrack. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw
the man approach me.
He walked straight for me, no doubt about it. I tried to act calmly but couldn‟t
restrain my heart‟s rapid beating. I wiped a bead of sweat from my forehead, glanced to my
left flank. Is he coming to speak with me? I wondered. He had to be. I prepped myself
mentally for what he would say. Time slowed to a crawl. I should have brought along the
Book. I needed something to help me lead him down the right path. Every devout follower
has his chance, and this would be mine. I reviewed the basic steps to salvation but was
interrupted by his voice.
“So,” he started, “Do you use a Mac?”
Do I use a Mac?! What‟d this guy take me for, some kind of pee-cee lamebrain? I
fought off the temptation to respond with a forceful, “Of course, you idiot!” and calmly
replied, “Yes, I do.” Then, the smile dropped from my face as I realized that he didn‟t look
assured. So quickly I added, “I have all my life.” But was that enough? I must convince him
to stray from his ways of evil and darkness.
He glanced at the computer before me, then back to my face. “Do you like „em?”
Again, I felt rage and thoughts of violence rise to my head. Do I like them? Do I like
Macs? DO I LIKE MACS? But I remembered that I must portray an example of a kind-
hearted Apple zealot, so I answered with a smile, “Yes, I like them. I think they‟re great.”
He still looked unsure of anything. Then he hit me with a killer. It was the golden
question; it was the signal for me to tell him the way to be saved. “Do you think Macs are
better than PCs?”
I smiled, took a deep breath, and rested my hand on the Apple Studio Display next to
me. Then I transformed into the Mac Evangelist. I felt my muscles bulge and my body rise
to full height. Clad in a black suit with a rainbow cape, I was off to save a lost soul!
Then I blanked. Where should I start? Apple‟s beginnings, in Steve Jobs‟ garage? Or
John Sculley‟s resignation from Pepsi-Cola to join Apple? Or, perhaps, the Macintosh
project? Then again, the release of System 7 was another good issue. Of course, I could go
for an Upton Sinclair-style muckraking speech, portraying the values and integrity of Apple
versus the corruption of the “Wintel” demons. I then realized that the lost sheep was waiting.
“I definitely think Macs are better than PCs. They‟ve got superior hardware, just-as-
good or better software, and are far more reliable. I‟ve used Macs for eight years and have
always been happy with Apple.” I paused, preparing “convert-a-PC-user” arguments. I
dreamed of the masses packed into the Apple section of CompUSA, listening to me spread
the good news. I envisioned Steve Jobs commending me at MacWorld-New York for my
efforts and converting thousands of PC users to the light side of the Force. Then I returned
to my sermon. “Macs have consistently been faster, more reliable, stronger, easier to use,
and cooler than PCs. For instance, the processor in this Mac (I pointed to the PowerMac
next to me) is far superior to any Pentium IV,” I said with an aura of “in-case-you-didn‟t-
know.” “And this Mac can do far more, too.” I was moving my troops in for the attack.
“This Mac has much better hardware than any PC over there (I pointed to the PC side of the
store) and is easier to use. For instance, Mac OS 9 is far simpler, yet is much more powerful.
And the hardware on this machine is the same: better, more reliable, and easier to install and
I felt like throwing in a few of the thousands of Mac facts I‟d memorized for an
occasion such as this, but, after seeing the man‟s blank eyes, I decided to slow down. I‟d let
him ask a question.
“But isn‟t there a lot less software for the Mac than for a PC?” he asked, looking at
the bare desktop of the Mac beside us.
Aha! I thought. He‟s hitting me at my weakest (though not very weak) point. I
gestured to the wall filled with colorful Mac software boxes. “There are rumors about the
amount of software for the Mac, but don‟t believe any of those unknowledgeable PC
salesmen. There are over 11,500 software titles for the Mac, including most major PC
programs. And if a PC program doesn‟t have a Mac version, there‟s usually another Mac
program that will suit your needs. I assure you that software is plentiful for the Mac. There
are many people out there who try to discredit Apple, but they‟re unsuccessful. That‟s
because Mac users know their machines are better. There is no doubt in my mind that if you
buy a Mac, you‟ll be a hundred times happier with it than any PC.”
I was unsure if my oration had worked. The man seemed a bit bewildered but
thanked me for my time. As he began to walk off, I felt my heart drop. I had failed as a
zealot! But then, as if a response from God, the man took a sharp turn and started
experimenting with another Mac. I felt my heart leap as Handel‟s “Hallelujah Chorus”
began in my ears. I jumped, raised my fist into the air, then glanced around for spectators.
As my Mac Evangelist suit morphed into my civilian clothes, I turned back to video games.
But then I glanced at my watch. I turned west, toward 999 Infinity Lane, Cupertino,
California, home of Apple Computer, and lowered to the ground. It was time to pray.
A Narrative or Short Story—Kristen Price
My Hardest Test
I stared down at my hands, trying to control the shaking. My breathing came out
slowly, if it came out at all. I felt like bursting into tears. I stared at the boards in front of me.
My head was spinning, and my mind was racing. I couldn‟t believe I had missed that break.
I had practiced this break time and time again. It was my best break of all. Normally,
my foot went through the board like a hot knife through butter. I could break double boards
with that sidekick and not blink an eye or break a sweat. But now—now that everything was
on the line, my foot jammed the board long before it should have penetrated.
My hands were still shaking furiously. I jumped from foot to foot, trying to shake
off the first two misses. Two misses. Two out of three possible chances wasted. The third
chance was do or die. No break, no black belt.
Normally I was a star student. My instructor even called me a bragging right. What
was happening to me? Why couldn‟t I make this break?
“Face me,” Mr. Haungs demanded.
“Yes, sir.” Tears were beginning to well in my eyes.
“Listen carefully,” he began to talk. I felt a hundred pairs of eyes on me, but as he
stared at me and forced me to focus on what he was saying, the crowd began to disappear. I
could only hear what I was being told. It was the only thing that mattered now. “If you
break this, you pass. You become a black belt. If you miss, you are nothing more than you
were yesterday. You may come back to try in three months, but that‟s not you. You don‟t
need to come back a second time. You have never failed before. Don‟t start now. Now, ask-
Before he could finish, I was at attention, and broke in, “Permission to break my
“Are you going to break it?” he demanded.
“Break that board!”
In one swift move, I threw everything I had at that board, every last drop of anything
that I had.
And my foot stopped—again.
I stared at the board in disbelief. I knew the crowd was staring at me exactly the
same way. I even heard my mom gasp. I know I did. My board holder handed me back my
board, fully intact. I accepted his hesitant offering in a daze. With a clouded head, I silently
took my seat at the back of the room with all of the other candidates. I felt soft pats on the
back and heard whispers in my ear: “It‟ll be okay, honey. You‟ll get it next time.”
All that I could manage in response was a quick glance, a forced half-smile, or a
simple nod. I knew that I couldn‟t speak. If I opened my mouth, all that would come out
would be sobs. Even if I didn‟t have my rank, I still had my pride, and I absolutely refused
to let my classmates and my students see me cry.
There was only one person in the world that was allowed to see my tears that day,
and as soon as we hit the parking lot and my mom put her arm around me, the flood could
not be dammed. I cried until there wasn‟t a single tear left, and then I cried some more. I
didn‟t know what to do. As long as I had been taking karate at that school, I had never failed
so miserably. I didn‟t want to accept it.
But, as it often did with many bad feelings, a big cone of Graeter‟s double chocolate
chip ice cream helped to heal my sorrow, and from there I just had to suck it up.
Two weeks later was even harder. It was the rank ceremonies for the people who
passed on to the next level, and, unlike me, actually earned a new belt. Usually if students
failed, they were too embarrassed to go to the ceremony. I knew the feeling as I walked
through the doors of the school. In a room full of uniformed students, I was the only student
there that blended in with the audience. I went wearing my everyday street clothes. I had no
need for my uniform that night.
All of my friends came up to me and hugged me as I walked in the door. My friend
Ronnie pulled me off to the side, putting a cotton-clad arm around me. “Why are you here?”
he asked. “Are you sure you‟re up to this?”
I nodded quickly and gave him a half smile.
Mr. Haungs called all of the students to the floor. As they hurried to their places on
the workout floor, I slowly took my seat on one of the sideline benches. So far, Mr. Haungs
had not even acknowledged my presence at the ceremonies. I sat and watched and clapped
for my friends and classmates. I even cheered for a couple of them. Each time that I cheered
for someone, I felt a little bit better. I felt that cheering for everybody else helped me get
over my embarrassment.
Mr. Haungs announced all of the ranks in order from lowest ranks to highest so that
he ended with the black belts. The last black belt stood and was honored in front of the
entire room. Everyone sat smiling, ecstatic about their new ranks, waiting to be dismissed
from the ceremonies. Suddenly, Mr. Haungs cleared his throat. He looked out at the class
and began to speak. What he said though surprised everyone, especially me.
“I want to you to look to your right,” he instructed his class, and thrust his arm in my
direction. I flushed bright red. “I want you to look at her. Everyone here saw her at testing,
and everyone here saw her fail. It is always hard to fail a testing, but to have the guts and the
courage to come and watch everyone who passed when she didn‟t, that is impressive. That is
true black belt character. I hope everyone comes to watch and cheer for her at the next
I wanted to cry again but not out of shame this time. My eyes had tears brimming,
and I could barely tell him “Thank you.” I knew then that I had passed the hardest test I had
A Narrative or Short Story— Dana Sinopoli
Price for Freedom: A POW Story
I want you to close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine being 19. Now
imagine being pulled away from your family, your friends, and your home, and placed into
hell with nothing but a gun and a prayer. You are a soldier in 1944, fighting in one of the
most gruesome and pitiless wars of all time: World War II.
It is December 15, 1944. Your company of 250 men, the farthest division advanced
in Germany, has just captured Kesternich. Early dawn of the very next day, the town is lit
up by large klieg lights as an entire tank division comes pouring into the town. The rumble
of machines shakes the ground beneath you and creates a sound so powerful that it seems as
though the Earth is splitting into two.
You are in the basement of a small house when a tank stops right outside the
window. The .88 gun of the Panzer tank points directly at the window, forcing you and a
handful of other terrified soldiers to surrender. At this point, there are only 50 of you left.
Barely able to walk, being so weighed down with fear, you are all marched to a
school house and lined up by a German Prisoner of War lieutenant. This man, for whom
you feel nothing but hatred, walks up and down the line of men, and out of everyone else,
points to you. The lieutenant accuses you of having shot German prisoners. You are pulled
out of the line and taken by truck to Bonn Prison Camp.
You are still only 19 years old and instead of running around a college campus, you
are put in solitary confinement. The cell is smaller than a closet and has only one tiny door.
You have no overcoat and nothing to shield you from the cold. You see no one for six weeks
and your only nutritional in-take consists of Ersatz bread. Because the Germans do not have
enough wheat, they mix wood chips in with the wheat they do have, and that is your bread.
Every few days you are dragged out of your cell and interrogated by officers for a
crime you did not commit. You are crowded by German men with shiny boots and crop
sticks and relentlessly told to sign a paper admitting to killing the German Prisoners of War.
Again and again you refuse even after being threatened with the firing squad.
On February 4, 1945, an Alliance British plane known as a Pathfinder drops flares
directly into the middle of the Prisoner of War camp. The impinging waves level the prison
camp and destroy your solitary bunker. You crawl out and have to remind yourself to
breathe as you are a witness to an inferno.
Prisoners of war of all the Allied countries are screaming out of joy, confusion,
bewilderment, and some scream because it has been so long since they have had the freedom
to do so. There are fires all around, and you see body parts flying through the air.
At dawn, you and the other survivors are organized by your nationality. This mostly
consists of Yugoslavians, British, French, and Americans. You and the other Americans are
put into a box car and shipped to Limburg.
You are still only 19. You are filthy, grossly underweight, sick, yet exhilarated
beyond belief to be out of confinement. The conditions in Limberg are so different from
home. There are over 500 men sleeping on the dirty floors, no water, and not a single care
package is ever sent, although before going to war, you were promised to have them daily.
As though all this were not enough, you come down with diphtheria, and, as the camp is
evacuated, you are left with 12 other prisoners. The next day, the Ninth Armor Division
greets you with utter disbelief at your condition.
After many months in the hospital you are given a leave. After experiencing more
trauma than anyone should have to endure, you finally arrive at the train station, longing for
the secure arms of your mother. You smile at her and almost collapse as she walks right by
you, unable to recognize you due to your condition....
Pain does not end just because the war did. Everyday is a reminder of being a 19-
year-old prisoner of war. After seeing such an evil side of man, it is amazing that you even
find a way to greet each day.
This is the story of my grandfather, Arthur Rubenstein. It was once said that “It
takes twenty years or more of peace to make a man; it takes only twenty seconds of war to
destroy him.” This war is a story my Grandfather kept silent about for many years, and as
amazing as it is to hear what happened, it is just as much an honor to hear him be able and
willing to tell it. The soldiers and victims of World War II should never be forgotten, for the
price of freedom should never be as great as it was.
An Explanatory, Exploratory, or Persuasive Essay
Generally speaking, essays in this category should be focused, informative
treatments of specific subjects. This essay should examine multiple points of view
and show strong evidence of critical thinking, awareness of audience, and
attention to social context. If secondary sources are used, they must be
documented correctly. This explanatory, exploratory, or persuasive essay should
have a title.
This essay provides the author with a wide variety of choices, ranging from
explorations of historical or political subjects to explanations of scientific processes to
editorials or commentaries about controversial topics, and it can also be a difficult piece to
select because there are so many options. The most successful pieces in this category are
focused discussions of specific topics. If the essay is meant to explore a subject fully, it will
probably include carefully selected supporting information. If the essay is meant to
persuade, it should include appropriate support and discussion and not rely on opinion alone.
Abby Olexa, in “Sacrificing All to Save a Few,” skillfully incorporates
multiple sources to thoroughly examine both sides of the school voucher issue. In her essay,
“The Heart of the Problem,” Bethany Pierce explores the subject of school violence.
Through her use of both strong personal opinion and outside sources, Pierce examines the
school reforms underway and suggests an alternative course of action. Kristin Price‟s essay,
“Art Department—More than Just Pretty Pictures,” is an editorial examining the
involvement of an art department in a high school community. Price outlines the history and
contributions of the art department to persuade her reader that the department plays a vital
role at the school. And, in her essay, “Blaming Irresponsibility,” Stephanie Wood provides
important details to persuade her reader that Firestone tires should take responsibility for
For more examples of the explanatory, exploratory, persuasive essay, see the
Complete Portfolios in this collection.
An Explanatory, Exploratory, or Persuasive Essay—Abby Olexa
Sacrificing All to Save a Few
Imagine burning nine bridges to save one, or weeding out nine flowers to allow one
to bloom. School vouchers, the tuition subsidies that allow students to attend private
schools, aim to do just that by placing a chosen 10 percent of America‟s schoolchildren in
private schools while leaving the other 90 percent, and America‟s public school system in
general, behind. Government agencies should not fund school vouchers to assist students
with private school tuition.
School vouchers are an unconstitutional action of the government. They conflict with
the First Amendment‟s Establishment Clause, which states that “Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion.” According to Kathy Koch in the CQ Researcher,
77.1 percent of private schools are religious, and Americans United for Separation of
Church and State reports that 85 percent of private school students are enrolled in these
sectarian schools. School vouchers, paid for by taxpayer money, would invariably further
the religious missions of the parochial schools and therefore violate the separation of church
The American public, who would fund such vouchers, has consistently been against
attempts to put voucher systems in place. Jessica Sandham of Education Week on the Web
reports that in the November 2000 general elections, voters rejected two voucher initiatives.
California‟s Proposition 39 failed 70.7 percent to 29.3 percent, and Michigan‟s Proposal 1
was defeated 69 percent to 31 percent. National Education Association (NEA) President Bob
Chase states in the USA Today that a recent Gallup Poll showed that three fourths of
Americans would rather see policymakers invest in improving existing public schools than
subsidize tuition to private schools for a few students.
Another problem with vouchers is that private schools cannot be held accountable.
They do not have to comply with open meetings and records laws; follow a prescribed
curriculum; administer and release the results of statewide standardized tests; or even hire
certified teachers. In fact, the NEA Today reports that only 71 percent of private school
teachers are licensed, compared to 97 percent of teachers in public schools. America‟s only
two publicly-funded school voucher programs, located in Milwaukee and Cleveland, have
both run into problems with private school accountability. People for the American Way
(PFAW) reports that a recent state audit found that in Milwaukee, 10 percent of the voucher
schools had no accreditation, were not seeking accreditation, and administered no
standardized tests. Since 1996, six Milwaukee voucher schools have closed, and top officials
at two schools have been indicted for criminal fraud. PFAW also reports that five Cleveland
schools had serious fire code violations, health hazards, inadequate curricula, and
unqualified teachers. As of December 1999, three of the five offending schools remain in the
voucher program. Are these the schools we want our children to attend and our tax dollars to
Voucher schools also drain public schools‟ money and can be fiscally irresponsible
with the funds that they receive. The NEA Today states that the Cleveland program went 41
percent over budget in its second year, including spending $1.5 million on taxes for voucher
students. This shortfall was covered with funds earmarked for public schools. PFAW states
that Ohio spends more money per pupil on voucher students than it does on its 1.6 million
public school students, and since 1991 it has spent more money on private schools ($1.1
billion) than it has to refurbish its public schools ($1 billion). Furthermore, by the end of the
1999-2000 school year, Milwaukee‟s program will have spent almost $100 billion in
taxpayer funds for private school tuition.
Taxpayers‟ money would be better spent improving public schools than on private
schools. In the CQ Researcher, Kathy Koch writes that state-commissioned evaluations of
the Milwaukee and Cleveland voucher programs found no appreciable academic gains in the
participating students. Effective programs have been developed that could be implemented
in the public schools and provide more results from a greater number of students for less
money. In Milwaukee, one such program is SAGE (Student Achievement Guarantee in
Education). This program, which reduces class sizes, saw its participating students keep
pace with voucher students in math and actually outpace them in reading. The NEA reports
that “Success for All,” an intensive reading program developed by Johns Hopkins
University, has a ten-year record of boosting student achievement, especially for
disadvantaged youngsters. This program could be implemented in all 113 of Milwaukee‟s
elementary schools at a cost of $7.9 million and still have $21 million left over from what
the city‟s voucher program costs. Cleveland could also use “Success for All” in its 80
elementary schools for $5.6 million and have $3 million left over.
The school voucher system may very well end up hurting the very students it intends
to help, leaving behind poorer and disadvantaged students. The Anti-Defamation League
reports that private school tuition can be as high as $10,000, and vouchers, typically
providing students between $2,500 and $5,000, would only cover part of that cost. Poor
students would most likely not be able to make up the cost difference and would therefore
not benefit from the vouchers. Providing vouchers could also encourage elite private
schools to raise tuition, increasing the burden on low-income families. Another problem
faced by the poor is the proximity of these schools. Few private schools are located in inner
cities and other economically depressed areas. Many private schools tend to “skim” the best
students out of public schools, rejecting those with disabilities, serious educational deficits,
and behavioral problems, and leaving those students behind in public schools already losing
money to the voucher programs. The NEA Today reports that 75 percent of private schools
have no special education programs. A 1998 U.S. Department of Education report found that
46 percent of private schools would not accept vouchers if they had to accept students
randomly, and 68 percent would not accept school vouchers if they had to accept special-
Voucher proponents claim that vouchers would create healthy competition between
public and private schools, but public and private schools are not on a level playing field.
Private schools typically cater to the economically elite, while public schools must accept
any and all students. Furthermore, decreased funding could force public schools to slash
salaries, reduce faculty, and make other cuts in funding. This would cause decreased teacher
quality and larger classes. Finally, when the future of America is on the line, there is no
room for winners and losers in education; we all must work together to allow all to succeed.
School voucher supporters argue that a favorable effect of vouchers will be that they
will make public schools less crowded, allowing the schools to save money. PFAW states
that in Milwaukee, the school districts lost only an average of twelve students per school;
such a small decrease will not allow the schools to save money on fixed costs like building
maintenance, staff salaries, school supplies, or administration.
Voucher backers also say that America‟s educational system is in bad shape.
However, according to Bob Chase‟s USA Today article, American students‟ SAT and ACT
scores are the highest in a decade. Students are taking more advanced math and science
courses and more advanced placement classes than ever before. America‟s high school
graduation rates and college attendance rates are the highest in history and the highest in the
world. America‟s educational system is serving our youth and serving them well.
Advocates insist that vouchers will ensure “parental choice” in education. However,
private school administrators have the final decision about who to accept into the private
schools. In his USA Today article, Bob Chase states that it may be difficult for parents to
find private schools willing to accept their children‟s vouchers. In Florida, 93 percent of
private schools refused to participate in voucher programs.
Taxpayers have indicated that they do not want their money taken away from the
public schools to send a small number of students to private schools which may be unsafe,
have unqualified teachers, and go over budget. Taxes would be better spent on smaller class
sizes and reading programs that will use the money more effectively to help all public school
students. By saying no to vouchers, we are saying that every child deserves the best
possible education that America can provide.
Achilles, Charles and Alex Molnar. “Voucher and Class-Size Research.” Education Week
on the Web Online. 25 Oct. 2000. Yahoo. 13 Nov. 2000.
Chase, Bob. “Vouchers Offer Parents False Hope.” USA Today Online. 29 Sept. 2000.
Yahoo. 11 Nov. 2000. <www.usatoday.com/news/comment/columnists/educate/ed4.htm>.
“Don‟t Believe the Hype! Countering the Myths About Vouchers.” NEA Today Online.
1999. Yahoo. 14 Nov. 2000.
<www.nea.org/neatoday/9911/cover.html>. “The Facts About
Vouchers.” People for the American Way Online. Apr. 2000.
Yahoo. 14 Nov. 2000. <www.pfaw.org>. Kemerer, Frank R.
and Stephen D. Sugarman. School Choice and Social
Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution P, 1999. Koch, Kathy. “School Vouchers.”
CQ Researcher 9 Apr. 1999: 281-304. “Private School Vouchers.” National Education
Association Online. Jan. 1999. Yahoo. 14 Nov.
“Private School Vouchers: Myth vs. Fact.” Americans United for Separation of Church and
State Online. 1999. Yahoo. 11 Nov. 2000. <www.au.org/vouchers.htm>.
Sandham, Jessica. “Voters Deliver Verdict on Host of State Ballot Questions.” Education
Week on the Web Online. 8 Nov. 2000. Yahoo. 13 Nov. 2000.
“School Vouchers.” Issues and Controversies on File. 21 May 1999: 201-209.
“Vouchers Are Constitutionally Suspect.” Anti-Defamation League Online. 1999. Yahoo.
12 Nov. 2000. <www.adl.org/vouchers/vouchers_constit_suspect.html>.
“Vouchers Are Not Universally Popular.” Anti-Defamation League Online. 1999. Yahoo.
12 Nov. 2000. <www.adl.org/vouchers/vouchers_not_uni_popular.html>.
“Vouchers Undermine Public Schools.” Anti-Defamation League Online. 1999. Yahoo. 12
Nov. 2000. <www.adl.org/vouchers/vouchers_public_schools.html>.
Wildavsky, Ben. “Vouchers Lose in Court.” U.S. News Online Online. 27 Mar. 2000.
Yahoo. 12 Nov. 2000. <www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/000327/voucher.htm>.
An Explanatory, Exploratory, or Persuasive Essay—Bethany
The Heart of the Problem
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” I have often heard. We know people
kill people. The real issue now is whether or not people can change people. Some
are of the opinion that we are capable of doing so; by implementing new reforms and
tightening school security, people are, in effect, saying they have the solutions to the
problems. The violence of recent school shootings has wrought anxiety and fear in
parents, teachers, and administrators across the nation. The massacre of Columbine
turned a public school library into a cemetery. The shooting in Oklahoma ripped us
from the comfort of a stereotypical and easily recognized threat; now popular
straight-A students pull guns without black trench coats. The violence has become
unpredictable and, in all cases, extremely frightening. In response to the threat,
schools have engaged in extensive prevention programs, often banning book-bags,
implementing dress codes, setting up metal detectors, or requiring students to attend
anger management classes. Such attempts at reform sound efficient on paper and
may to some extent alleviate the anxieties of parents, but they are like storming
castle walls with slingshots. The object of reform in this case is not tangible or
always plausible. The object of reform is the human heart, the internal person. We
need to understand that the problem is bigger than a trench coat or a gun; therefore,
dress codes or metal detectors cannot solve it. These reforms are often vain attempts
at prevention. They hinder education and provoke students. Policy makers and
schools need to be aware that no simple public mandate can suffice as a solution.
In response to the massacres, school security has become an increasing source of
debate as the prospect of metal detectors and police patrols and students IDs have become
prevalent. In the Greater Cincinnati area, schools have “tightened discipline codes, locked
school doors...and adopted dress codes barring book-bags, coats, and other clothing...”
(Mathis A3). Many people believe that tightened security will not only prevent guns and
weapons from invading school premises but will discourage potential offenders from
dangerous attempts. Such extravagant measures, while encompassing a broad range of
potential violence, will still leave open many opportunities for disaster. The beep of a metal
detector is not enough to alter a person‟s intent; the absence of a book-bag does not close all
avenues to a plotting mind. “We still have accomplished nothing if more metal detectors and
security guards give us more Jonesboros, where kids pull a fire alarm to shoot their
classmates as they‟re exiting the building,” said Sandford A. Newman, president of Fight
Crime (Mathis A3). We are locking doors while windows stands gaping open. Keeping
guns off school property is not enough, for “people kill people.”
Some advocate school dress codes, believing that uniform clothing will decrease
student rivalry, eliminate unnecessary distraction, and minimize peer differences. The
differences, however, remain. Uniform attire will not make anyone less skinny, heavy,
pimpled, or attractive than they already are. Just as the body is not transformed by outward
attire, the heart is not transformed by external improvements. It is foolish to presume that
such external measures will result in such internal transformations.
We have been attempting to minimize the enormity of the crisis into a package we
can analyze and handle, into something manageable. It is too painful and terrifying to admit
that the problem is too large for us. The tragedies of Paducah, Columbine, and Oklahoma
began in the minds and hearts of students, and we are ill fit to fully understand and
comprehend the intricacies of their experiences and psychological makeup. “People are
looking for someone to come and say, „This is why it happened,‟“ said Frank DeAngelis,
principal of Columbine High School. “...I think the reason people feel so afraid is the threat
that it can happen again. That‟s why people are so frustrated. I‟m frustrated. There is not a
day that goes by when I don‟t think, „Why did they do it?‟” (Miller 75). We cannot dictate
or predict the thoughts of those around us. Emily Dickinson once wrote, “The Brain—is
wider than the sky—”.
We cannot implement a reform that will change human nature. There is no dress
code that will bring self-esteem to the outcast or humble the popular. There is no metal
detector that can sufficiently alert a student population to an angry and violent peer. The
problem this nation faces is that of hurting hearts and minds. To present a concrete solution
one must have a concrete problem, but this problem is complicated and its factors at times
inexplicable. Its enormity resides in human emotion, its source as large as the capacity of the
human mind. It is, therefore, as Dickinson aptly put: “wider than the sky.”
Mathis, Deborah. “Schools Fail at Stopping Violence.” The Cincinnati Enquirer 7 December
Final ed./Warren: A3. Miller, Mark. “The Haunting Memories.” Newsweek 13
December 1999, Final ed./Warren: 75.
An Explanatory, Exploratory, or Persuasive Essay—Kristen
Art Department—More than Just Pretty Pictures
Walking down the halls of the school, students are never at a loss for something to
look at. The walls of the school are constantly plastered with posters and fliers. More
importantly, though, there are the products of the school‟s art department. The paintings,
drawings, sketches and photographs turn bland walls into something to be admired and awed
by everyone. And none of these would be possible without the art department.
The pictures on the wall are not the only things that the department offers the school
though. It provides student artists with a chance to enhance their talents. It provides the
artists with training in various media including acrylic paints, chalk pastels, clay,
photography, and much, much more. Through their artwork, the students can develop an
extension of their voice and express themselves visually. The art department also displays
student artwork throughout the building for the faculty and the community so that everyone
recognizes the efforts and skills of the students.
Unfortunately, undue negative light has been shed on the department within the past
month. It is unfortunate to think that all of the accomplishments of the student artists and the
teachers could be so quickly forgotten because of fifteen controversial drawings in the
hallway. For fifteen years, the art teachers have displayed the nude torso drawings in the
hallways with no complaints from the community, but after a single complaint from a board
member this year, the principal demanded that the art teachers remove the drawings from the
wall. Suddenly, the art department acquired a bad name simply because one person thought
that drawings of nude statues were inappropriate.
How is it possible that with one comment from one person, people forget how often
the art department has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help the school?
The department benefits more than just its own students. It affects the entire student
body and the community itself. Several major projects have been sponsored and carried out
by the department. One of those projects was a traveling exhibit celebrating cultural
diversity. This project was done in conjunction with Parson‟s School of Design in New
The department also participated in the Violence Project. For this, students created
visual artwork and wrote essays and poems dealing with violence in American culture. This
project was done in conjunction with the group called Parents of Murdered Children.
They also created life size body casts memorializing victims of violence and
community heroes. Subjects of the casts included the students of Columbine and the slain
Cincinnati police officers Pope and Jeeters. These casts were then sent to memorial sites in
the cities where the violence took place. (Several casts were sent to Columbine High School
itself.) Time and time again, student artists have used their artwork to speak out against
violence and take a stand in the community. They pride themselves in being heard and
making a difference.
By far, though, the most important project that the art department sponsors and
participates in is the Day Without Art campaign, an AIDS awareness project that the school
participated in during the beginning of the school year. Day Without Art was taken on by
the high school eight years ago, after several of the teachers from the art department
attended the city‟s first observance at the downtown Contemporary Arts Center. Feeling
that their students needed to be educated about AIDS, they decided to implement their own
version of Day Without Art within the department. A year later they implemented it as a
school-wide movement. The teachers and students removed all of the artwork that normally
hangs in the hallways. They also asked students to dress completely in black on December
first (National AIDS Awareness Day), and they passed out red ribbons, the symbol of AIDS
awareness, to all of the students in the school.
Through the years, the Day Without Art program has grown both internationally and
at the school. The art department has contacted AVOC (an AIDS volunteer organization)
and FACE (For AIDS Children Everywhere) and teamed up with them to help in the
campaign to fight AIDS. The organizations were invited by the art teachers to come to the
school and pass out information and answer student questions. “This year I think we had our
largest number of faculty and students participate,” commented the head of the art
department. “I had to continually restock the ribbons and pins as students joined the
observance...but the thing that shows me that we‟ve made people aware is when I see a red
ribbon on a purse or a book bag three months later. It‟s not just about December first; it‟s
Even after having done so much, the art department still has more plans. This spring,
the Art 4 classes will create a second ceramic tile mosaic, similar to one on the wall across
from the media center. Last year‟s mosaic theme was “We‟ve Got the Whole World In Our
Hands,” to encourage students to realize their ability to impact the world. This year, the
mosaic will be located in the main lobby, and it will be called “Bridge of Dreams.” It is
meant to encourage students to follow and realize their dreams and personal potentials.
The art department is more than just paint and clay. It is an active and involved part
of our school and our community. Although, often times people do not realize the
importance of the department, it should nonetheless be admired and respected by everyone
in the community, rather than be criticized for being “inappropriate” because it displays
student artwork in the hallway.
An Explanatory, Exploratory, or Persuasive Essay—Stephanie
“It was extremely difficult to control the truck at the time, and I had both my wife
(two months pregnant) and my 16-month-old daughter screaming and crying in a panic...My
wife has developed a fear of the only vehicle we have, understandably so. She fears other
tires may also be defective and that we may be in danger” (Nathan). Much like the 4,300
similar complaints the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has
received, this Firestone tire consumer warned the agency of the faulty product and asked it
to take action. Imagine a similar problem happening to you. While leisurely traveling down
the highway, your SUV is suddenly thrown to the pavement. The tire tread on your left rear
tire separates from the steel belt, and your vehicle can not overcome its speed of 65-mph,
and crashes uncontrollably. The SUV rolls over, killing your family. Even though you
complain, the NHTSA does nothing about the problem, and you hear about other similar
On August 9, 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone, an international tire manufacturer, issued
a recall of all its ATX, ATX II, and Wilderness AT tires. To date, the company has replaced
6.5 million tires (“Firestone death...”). Ford had contracted with Firestone to supply tires for
all the SUV‟s it produced. Together Firestone and Ford investigated the problems with the
recalled tires. Despite much bickering between the two companies, the tires failed due to
flaws in Firestone‟s manufacturing and production.
The NHTSA has reported a total of 148 deaths and 525 injuries involving tread
separations, blowouts, and other problems with Firestone tires. The Middle East has reported
at least seven deaths and Venezuela has reported forty-six due to the same kind of problem
(“Firestone death...”). From both foreign countries and the United States, complaints state
that the tires lose their casings when traveling at high speeds. The tire maker claimed it
knew nothing of the tread problems until late July, yet consumers have warned the company
since the mid 1990‟s (Nathan). It also stated that the complaints it finally received did not
raise any “red flags” because in relative terms, few tires had failed; less than one in every
10,000 of the 47 million ATX, ATX II, and Wilderness AT tires produced since 1991 have
failed (Nathan). Most of the recalled tires came from the Decatur, Illinois plant, the main
concentration of the investigation. The company claimed that a workers‟ strike at that plant
in the nineties, when replacement workers made the product, caused most of the problems.
Most automobile consumers do not realize that the supplier warranties original tires
on a brand new vehicle, rather than the car company. When problems exist with original
tires, the supplier should take the blame. The biggest flaw in Firestone‟s manufacturing
came from its push for production; Firestone often pressured workers to make the largest
amount of tires possible. Alan Hogan, a former employee at the Firestone plant in Wilson,
North Carolina, explained to the Akron Beacon Journal that he had witnessed this with his
own eyes. Hogan saw the use of “dry stock,” a combination of no longer tacky steel belts
and rubber. Workers placed it in a storage area called the “bank” and then used it in
production. Particularly after a shutdown, supervisors would pressure the workers to try and
make the “dry stock” sticky again by swabbing the tires with a benzene compound. This
compound could be found often at an arm‟s length away from the workers since they used it
so much (Meyer). By using this compound and making the “dry stock” tacky again, the
workers could reuse the rubber and make more tires. Jan Wagner, who worked at the
Decatur plant, said that the company also pressured workers to repair sidewall blisters by
punching holes in the tire with an awl. Instead of throwing out the bad tire and making a
new one, workers used this technique to speed up the process. The workers placed these so-
called “green tires” on the floor to make room for more tires. The rubber, usually not dry
yet, picked up dirt and other foreign matter from the floor (“Firestone CEO…”).
Firestone also had a tendency to use bad rubber in production, trying to make a large
amount of tires. Bad rubber, which had barely passed inspection, was often mixed with good
rubber then used to make new tires (“Firestone CEO…”). Hogan also saw oil, water,
cigarette butts, finger tape, chunks of hardened rubber, and metal or wood shavings mixed
with the tire stock (Meyer). Lonnie Bart held many positions in the Decatur plant and
confessed that steel belt material should stay in a climate-controlled room. Corrosion and
rust, which make it hard for rubber to adhere to steel, also would be avoided with the use of
a controlled room. The supply of rubber often stayed in other areas for up to thirty minutes.
The company, although knowing it should throw out that material, often reprocessed it to
remove rust and put it back into the storage area instead (“Firestone CEO…”).
Besides the controversy with Firestone production flaws, another factor that
contributed to the faulty tires came from the size of the Decatur plant. The total size of the
massive plant, 800,000 square feet, created a major problem with storage and working space
within the company. The company set up plastic tents over machines to protect them from
leaking roofs. Moisture causes corrosion of the steel belts that, in turn, cause belt
separations; thus, those leaks became a critical factor in failures (Meyer).
The workers, as well as their supervisors, knew about the obvious problems.
Management at the Firestone plants knew of the “dry stock” and crowded working
conditions. Hogan once rejected a load of dry stock adding with it a note that said, “„If you
get this roll of steel, I‟ve rejected it,‟” then signed and dated it. The next day the roll came
back to him for inspection with a message from another tire builder that said, “„ Hey Alan, I
got that message you left on that rejected roll of steel.‟” That roll had been sent to the stock
room, re-ticketed as acceptable material and then sent back into the plant for production
(Meyer). Plant supervisors had access to information concerning rejected material, the
number of bad tires, and also the machines that were not functioning properly. A company
computer called the Intermac, as well as a continuously rolling video monitor showed
shutdown machines along with the areas in the plant that had problems with material such as
“dry stock” (Meyer). Obviously, the company chose to ignore these problems.
The tire industry has made great strides since the 1970‟s. Tires last longer and are
less puncture prone and contribute to better fuel economy and a greater grip on roads.
However, the public doesn‟t understand how important they are to vehicle safety and
performance (Ulrich). The bigger demand for automobiles has created a greater demand for
tires also. As the market grows, so does the push for production. Flaws in the
Bridgestone/Firestone‟s manufacturing and production process caused the defects the
recalled ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires. Pressure to make a greater quantity of tires,
laziness with production quality, and lack of strong management all contributed to the flaws
in Firestone tires. The recall has affected millions of consumers, not only through accidents,
deaths and injuries, but also from a rise in prices and a decreased trust in the company.
Firestone needs to take responsibility for its defective tires and fix its problems for the future
to regain the trust of present and future customers.
“Firestone CEO, former workers answer questions in tire lawsuits.” 27
“Firestone death toll continues to climb.” Akron Beacon Journal 7
<http://www.ohio.com/bj/buisness/docs/022237.htm>. Meyer, Ed.
“Firestone whistle-blower gains enemies.” Akron Beacon Journal 3
<http://www.ohio.com/firestone/docs/008666.htm>. Nathan, Sara.
“Drivers complained of tread problems years before recall.”
USAToday.com 15 November 2000, Final ed., Cover story.
<http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?TS>. Ulrich, Lawrence.
“Failures of tires may stay unsolved.” Akron Beacon Journal 1
October 2000 <http://www/ohio.com/firestone/docs/028144.htm>.
RESPONSE TO A TEXT
This essay should respond to a written text (short story, novel, poem, play, or essay)
or a cultural text (film, music, or visual art) produced by professionals, classmates,
or yourself. The response should interpret or evaluate all or part of a text. Possible
approaches include analyzing textual elements, explaining the text’s significance,
comparing the text to other texts, relating the text to personal experience and /or
connecting it to larger social or cultural contexts. Use support from the text to
develop ideas and strengthen the focus without overshadowing your own response or
giving extensive summaries. If secondary sources are used, they must be documented
correctly. (If the print text is not common, a copy of it should be included with your
portfolio.) This response to a text should have a title.
While the general category of “Response to a Text” might conjure the image of a
straightforward, AP-style essay that focuses on a key theme of a novel or poem, there are as
many ways to write textual responses as there are texts. Although all the essays included in
this section are fairly conventional, they demonstrate the range of possibilities within the
traditional format. The first two essays provide examples of the kind of close reading and
critical thinking portfolio readers look for. Jessica Keel‟s “Religion: Myth and Mistake in
Native Son” provides moments of dazzling close reading of Wright‟s novel, while
demonstrating the connection between the novel‟s themes and Wright‟s politics. Moving
from a unique introduction, Jessica pays close attention to both local and global context and
organization—she pulls out enough significant details to support her claims but doesn‟t
allow them to overwhelm her analysis, and she is constantly aware of the overarching
connection she makes between Wright‟s politics and writing. Brian Klosterman‟s “Woman:
Doll, Child, Slave” places Henrik Ibsen‟s ADoll’s House in historical context—a crucial
move for a comprehensive understanding of the drama. In analyzing the dialogue of the
play, Brian creates a sense of dialogue between the character of Nora and the nineteenth-
century society that produced her.
Stephanie Wood‟s “Softly Spoken Strength” is a sustained character analysis of Janie
in Zora Neale Hurston‟s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Stephanie makes effective use of
quotes to illustrate her points, and demonstrates a clear sense of control in her writing. In
“Discovering Truth,” Reynold Toepfer surprises his readers by juxtaposing two vastly
different texts in order to argue for their similarity of theme. Most impressive about
Reynold‟s work is the way he zooms in on a few key moments in Anton Chekhov‟s The
Cherry Orchard and Sophocles‟ Oedipus Rex— each complicated enough to sustain papers
of their own—to support his argument.
Be sure to look at the Complete Portfolios for more examples of a response to a text.
Response to a Text—Jessica Keel
Religion: Myth and Mistake in Native Son
If the United States were to adopt a Communist government, it would be a better
country. If Americans were to dispose of religion, they would be content people. If Richard
Wright were to complete an assignment regarding the context of his novel, Native Son, the
aforementioned arguments would be his focus. Wright, like all Marxists, believes that
religion is “the opiate of the masses,” providing a surreal dream world with negative side
effects. The representation of organized religion in Native Son supports Wright‟s highly
atheistic, Communistic views and his aspirations for the United States. By negatively using
conventional religious symbols, such as the cross, prayer, God, colors, and numbers; and
subtly mocking religious characters and organized religion, Wright emphasizes the wrongs
of organized religion and the rights of atheism and Communism.
The symbol of the cross appears frequently throughout Native Son in order to stress
the faults of organized religion and to promote the societal problems caused by capitalism.
While the police transport Bigger to the prison from the Dalton household, a “flaming cross”
(390) looms on a nearby hill, representing not only the hatred the Ku Klux Klan feels for
Bigger, but also the animosity that all Christians in the community feel towards him.
Religion brings Bigger no comfort: “[He has] a cross of salvation round his throat and they
[are] burning one to tell him that they hate him” (391). At a time when Bigger turns to the
symbol of salvation as he has been taught to do, the religious in his community use that
same crucifix to damn him. Bigger, therefore, desires to “tear the cross from his throat and
throw it away” (391) so that he may abandon the religion that has abandoned him, the very
same religion that would have taught him that aiding the intoxicated Mary Dalton in the first
place was the moral thing to do.
Although Bigger‟s character refutes the concept of religion, Wright compares him to
a struggling Jesus Christ throughout the novel; society is to learn from Bigger‟s example
that capitalism is the core evil of the country, just as Christians look to Christ to delineate
between sin and salvation. Bigger‟s interactions with the Daltons mirror those of Jesus
throughout the Stations of the Cross. Bigger‟s initial visit to the Dalton home foreshadows
his death because the setting mimics that of the crucifixion; “all at once…the sky [turns]
black” (48), as it does while Jesus hangs upon the cross on Good Friday. When Bigger first
visits the Dalton home, he “slip[s] back” (51) into his chair, just as Jesus falls while carrying
his cross to Mount Calvary; this scene represents the persecution in store for Bigger by those
families who, like the Daltons, consider themselves religious. Even during the murder and
burning of the body of Mary Dalton, Bigger‟s actions parallel Christ‟s. Similar to Christ‟s
struggle with the cross upon his back, Bigger “stoop[s] and ca[tches] the strap” of Mary‟s
trunk and “carrie[s] it downstairs” (103) with her body inside, and the murder of Mary
becomes Bigger‟s “cross,” upon which he is executed.
Similarly, prayer reappears within Native Son in order to prove the unimportance of
God and the ineffectiveness of belief. The rat remains dead although Bigger‟s mother prays
“Lord have mercy” (5) after Bigger murders it in their tenement. God does not heed Mrs.
Thomas‟s simple pleas for a dead rat, which foreshadows that any prayers for Bigger‟s well-
being are also to remain unheeded. Mrs. Thomas later exhibits Wright‟s belief that religious
individuals are neither selfless nor giving when she prays before Bigger‟s execution, asking
“the Lord if [she] did everything [she] could for [him]” (345) instead of praying for Bigger‟s
soul. The preacher‟s prayers invoke a negative, persecuted feeling within Bigger, causing
him to realize that “[t]o those who want to kill him he [is] not human, not included in [the]
picture of Creation” (328), which is the opposite of the comfort that is intended and provides
the idea that religion is a form of self-persecution, where one devotes everything and
Colors also serve as a vessel through which Wright displays his ideas regarding God.
Primarily, the Virgin Mary‟s colors, blue and white, appear together in situations that
denounce the importance and existence of purity and holiness. The message “Use Speed
Gasoline” (17), written upon the deep blue sky with white smoke, quickly disappears, which
represents Wright‟s belief that God is a false entity with an existence that is polluting and
manmade, a figment of stability that someone created long ago to sell to the otherwise
unstable. A “hazy blue light” shines within Mary Dalton‟s bedroom, causing her “white
bed,” “white teeth,” (96) and “white dial[ed] alarm clock” (101) to be the only objects
visible as Bigger molests her. Despite the erratic faith of Mrs. Dalton, God neglects to
protect her daughter from Bigger‟s lustful desire for “sins of the flesh.” The use of these
colors within the bedroom of Mary Dalton also belittles the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her
namesake, Mary Dalton, is clearly not innocent and pure of heart; she drinks alcohol, lies to
her parents regarding her whereabouts and her relationship with a Communist, and partakes
in acts of fornication with Jan, her lover, while Bigger chauffeurs them around town.
Another use of conventional religious symbols to highlight the evils of society is that
of reverent numbers. Bigger‟s three friends, Jack, Gus, and G.H., represent the Holy Trinity
because they cannot save him, just as neither the Father, Son, nor Holy Spirit can save him.
Likewise, “three white men” (309) surround Bigger after his chase, who symbolize a
persecuting Holy Trinity and a vengeful God that assaults rather than assists believers. The
repetition of the number two compares Bigger‟s situation to the Bible. Bigger, like his
“savior,” Jesus Christ, is crucified between two men; he sits “between two white people”
(79), Jan and Mary, in the diner, where he does not belong. The idea of the persecution of
Bigger and Wright‟s belief that the death of the supposed Christ does not redeem the souls
of his followers is again portrayed when Bigger finds himself “mov[ing] consciously
between two poles” (170), which represent the two pieces of timber fastened together to
create Christ‟s crucifix, alluding to the fact that Bigger is destined for martyrdom.
An overwhelming lack of God within the lives of the characters in Native Son is also
evident through their sacrilegious actions, which support Wright‟s atheism. Bigger and his
friends emphasize Wright‟s atheistic views by laughing when Gus announces that “God‟ll
let [Bigger] fly when He gives [Bigger] his wings in heaven” (17), implying that Bigger will
never receive wings because there is neither a God to provide them nor a heaven to which he
will go. The pipe organ, which is normally associated with Church hymns, plays in the
theater where Bigger and Jack spend their afternoon and represents Wright‟s disbelief in
God when its music “die[s] away” (32) and Bigger and Jack continue to masturbate,
symbolizing the “sins of the flesh” and evils that exist in the world because people depend
on a God who, like music, is intangible. Mrs. Dalton represents Wright‟s perception of the
utmost religious, as her form is draped in pure, white fabric throughout the entire novel, but
she remains blind to the problems of the world, just as Wright believes that religion blinds
people from the real problems of society by consuming their attentions.
One of Wright‟s key points through his character portrayals enforces the idea that
atheist Communists live better lives and possess better qualities than those who profess to
live religiously. The Daltons, a religious, respectable family, own a furnace that “hiss[es]”
(143) steam. This suggests that the masses bury their dark secrets, like the furnace in the
Dalton basement, and use religion as a cover. Mr. Dalton sees his donation of “a dozen
Ping-Pong tables to the South Side Boys‟ Club” (340) as a noble gesture because his mind is
clouded by religion; in reality, the useless ping-pong tables provide Bigger with neither
protection nor a means to keep himself from trouble. While Bigger is hunted for his crime, it
becomes evident that those who claim to be religious are not really religious at all; it is the
churchgoers that want to slaughter Bigger for his actions, which is a form of revenge based
on the Old Testament “eye for an eye” philosophy, and not on the dogma of “love thy
neighbor.” Atheists like Jan side with Bigger, not because they condone his behavior, but
because they respect human life; the religious, on the other hand, await the spilling of
Bigger‟s blood. Jan‟s gift of cigarettes and the counsel of the atheist lawyer Max, whose
name bears a striking similarity to that of Karl Marx, benefit Bigger more practically than
the preacher‟s gift of a wooden cross. Because the gifts lack attachment to religion, the
nicotine calms Bigger‟s nerves while Max attempts to save his soul. “Th[e] black folks go to
church every day of the week,” (293) but they remain destitute within the confines of the
run-down Black Belt, asserting that their prayers remain unanswered and they remain
unhappy because they focus too much on praising a nonexistent God and not enough time on
Wright‟s portrayal of religion and his use of religious imagery throughout Native
Son promote the major theme of Communist support throughout the novel because atheism
stands synonymous with Communism. The atheistic Communists support the right to life
and equality, and the religious capitalists persecute and abuse the poor in order to create a
sound monetarily-based community. Yet, the capitalist government punishes Bigger
contrarily to religious beliefs: although he comes before his judge at court and admits his
faults, as all will stand and confess before God on the Day of Atonement, Bigger Thomas is
sentenced to death, not salvation. “Men die alone” (496), as Max informs Bigger, because
God-loving capitalists are driven by personal gain and dispose of those who disrupt the
system, sentencing them to death, leaving them to waste away without showing them the
love of their “God.”
Wright, Richard. Native Son. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1940.
Response to a Text—Brendan Klosterman
Woman: Doll, Child, Slave
ADoll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, creates a peephole into the lives of a family in the
Victorian Era. The play portrays a female viewpoint in a male-dominated society. The
values of the society are described using the actions of a woman, Nora, who rebels against
the injustices inflicted upon her gender. Women‟s equality with men was not recognized by
society in the late 1800‟s. Rather, a woman was considered a doll, a child, and a servant.
Nora‟s alienation reveals society‟s assumptions and values about gender.
A woman was considered by society to be a doll because she was expected to be
subordinate to her husband‟s whims. Referring to a ball that she would attend, Nora asks her
husband, Torvald, if he would “take me in hand and decide what I shall go as and what sort
of dress I should wear” (26). Nora relies completely on how her husband would dress her,
just like a doll. Just as Nora is treated as a doll, she interacts with her children as such. She
doesn‟t raise them, she merely “play[s] and romp[s] with the children” (13). She tells
Torvald, “our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll wife, just as at
home I was Papa‟s doll child; and here the children have been my dolls” (67). In this
conversation, she shows her alienation as a woman in society by expressing discontent with
her role in life.
In addition to being treated like a doll, Nora is also regarded as a small child.
Victorian society looks upon women‟s intelligence as no better than a child‟s. Torvald tells
her, “You talk like a child. You don‟t understand the conditions of the world in which you
live” (69). Yet, he does nothing to rectify the situation. While Nora says she is unlike a
child, she displays her childish tendencies by repeating “impossible” (Ibsen 28, 29) when
she is confronted with the possibility that she might have to face punishment for forging her
father‟s name. She alludes to a child‟s character when she says, “everything I think of seems
so silly and insignificant” (26). Torvald replies with a condescending statement: “Does my
little Nora acknowledge that at last?” (26). Torvald expects only childish talk from her. He
even tells her she is “little,” like a child, and although he expects nothing more than child‟s
talk from her, he does expect to be obeyed.
Nora plays the part of a slave in her subservience to her husband, for she is supposed
to abide by his rules and be dependent on him. She is not supposed to think for herself and
repeatedly told so by those around her. When speaking about Nora in her presence, Torvald
says, “She is so terribly self-willed” (55). Nora has a conversation with Mrs. Linde, who
also tells her, “Don‟t be self-willed” (57). Torvald tells her, “I will advise you and direct
you” (64). Nora is expected to be a dependent slave who follows her husband‟s advice and
directions. Women were also legally dependent upon men. The society‟s laws of that time
even required the male to cosign everything that a woman had to sign. Nora‟s naivete in
forging her father‟s signature and trying to pay off the loan further emphasizes Victorian
society‟s assumptions about women‟s inability to deal with a “man‟s world.”
These assumptions about women caused their gender value to be vastly outweighed
by that of men. From relationships to working, men had more power than women. Nora and
Torvald‟s relationship followed this rule, even to the extent of Torvald‟s condescending
nicknames such as “my little squirrel” (2). Torvald does not love Nora as an equal, and
because of this, Nora finds that she cannot love Torvald. When Torvald asks what he had
done to make Nora not love him, Nora replies, “It was tonight, when the wonderful thing did
not happen; then I saw you were not the man I had thought you” (69). The wonderful thing
would have happened if Torvald had taken responsibility for Nora‟s romantically-inspired
forgery that saved his life. By taking responsibility, however, he would have lost his honor
in society. He states, “no man would sacrifice his honor for the one he loves” (70). Nora
sums up the inequality between man and wife by retorting, “It is a thing hundreds of
thousands of women have done” (70). Torvald, however, expresses the male-dominated
society‟s views of women and says, “Oh, you think and talk like a heedless child” (70).
Because of Torvald‟s inability to grasp the concept of equality, Nora leaves him. Society‟s
values are revealed by Nora‟s declaration of equality and independence.
Through Nora‟s rebellious declaration and departure, she removes herself from
society‟s standards and makes a move towards equality. She renounces society‟s views of a
woman as a child, doll, and slave. Men in Victorian society told a woman how to act as a
parent to a child, how to dress for a public event as an owner to a doll, and how to keep her
thoughts to herself as a master to a slave. Henrik Ibsen portrayed qualities of the Victorian
era through the alienated female gender, represented by Nora.
Note: While the primary text referred to in the essay serves as the source for all quotations,
a complete citation in a “Works Cited” page is considered standard in academic writing.
Please include complete citations whenever primary and/or secondary sources are used.
A Response to a Text—Reynold Toepfer
The scholar is engaged in the interminable quest for truth in every aspect of his or
her life. However, the thing that makes people wise is knowing that they can never
understand everything. Ignorance, the quality of lesser people, is the assumption that they
understand all about the world around them. They are so blindly confident they comprehend
the truth, that they restrain themselves from opening their eyes to the greater truth. Anton
Chekhov and Sophocles deal with the idea of this sinful pride that leads to ignorance in their
respective works, The Cherry Orchard and Oedipus Rex. In each drama, certain characters
are slapped in the face with the truth; the light is revealed. However, these characters make
the connection when it is too late. Their destruction is already destined to become a reality,
a horrid fate that could have been prevented. Both Chekhov and Sophocles present the
universal theme that an open mind, constantly in search for truth, is the mark of a worthy
individual, and prideful stubbornness can only lead to demise.
The question must then be asked, what truths are evident in these texts? Oedipus is
the proud king of a county called Thebes. However, his country has fallen on hard times as
a result of angry gods displaying their wrath. The oracle reveals to Oedipus that the curse
shall be lifted when the murderer of the former king is put to justice. As the incriminating
evidence piles up against Oedipus, he remains ignorant of the truth that he is the killer whom
he seeks. He stubbornly refuses to believe that he cannot escape his fate. Sophocles presents
this ironic truth in light and dark imagery. The chorus dramatically demands, “Artemis,
Huntress, / Race with flaring lights upon our mountains / […] Whirl upon Death, that all the
Undying hate! / Come with blinding torches, come in joy!” (Sophocles l.198-204). The
metaphor depicts light representing truth. The idea of light being “blinding” portrays how
shocking and unexpected this truth will be to Oedipus. The timing of the chorus‟ plea as
Oedipus enters the stage clearly demonstrates that Oedipus is the man whom he seeks, the
murderer of the king. The truth of the play is revealed, yet Oedipus remains ignorant.
Chekhov also makes use of a symbol to represent truth in his play. In The Cherry
Orchard, the Ranevskayas are an aristocratic family that squander away their final days at
their beloved cherry orchard. It shall soon be auctioned off, yet the family merely sits about
and engages in meaningless chatter. They assume that everything shall be taken care of, the
way it always has been in their lives. However, there is one man who seems to be above the
careless atmosphere that surrounds him—Lopakhin, the hard-working son of generations of
peasants. This man of great ambition represents truth. The truth that Chekhov reveals in the
play is the emerging changes in the Russian social structure. The industrious middle class is
on the rise, and the lazy aristocracy is doomed to fade away. In the end, Lopakhin buys the
cherry orchard, which is the “estate where [his] father and grandfather were slaves”
(Chekhov 366). The cherry orchard was the security, the wealth, and the power of the
aristocracy; it is bought by a merchant, the son of peasants. Could the aristocracy not see
what was happening, or did they choose to remain ignorant? By constructing summer
cottages, the Ranevskaya family could have prevented the loss of the beloved orchard, but
they refused to see the truth.
To better portray their theme, Chekhov and Sophocles design characters of the
utmost status. The Ranevskaya family is one of the most prominent families in Russia, and
Oedipus is a king. According to common beliefs, these people cannot be wrong. They
cannot represent ignorance. Chekhov and Sophocles use irony to emphasize this theme. The
Ranevskaya family believes that they are a part of the “intelligentsia,” a term with which
aristocrats label themselves. They look upon all others with disdain and feel superior to
Lopakhin and Trofimov. The irony is that Lopakhin eventually buys them out, and
Trofimov is the wise intellectual whom they mock for being the “eternal student.” Chekhov
utilizes this intellectual to give light to the idea that “in Russia, only a very few work. They
call themselves the intelligentsia, yet they belittle their servants, treat the peasants like
animals, are wretched students, never read anything serious, and do absolutely nothing”
(Chekhov 346). Trofimov understands the aristocracy, and understands that because of their
useless behavior, they are destined to become worthless. It was not a member of the
“intelligentsia” that came to this conclusion. Similarly, Sophocles devises an old, wandering
blind man to reveal the truth to Oedipus. The irony of a blind peasant being able to see a
truth that a king seemingly cannot or refuses to understand is the very essence of this
universal theme. We are all equal. We are all equally inferior to the gods and must not be
proud and think that we can understand a world which they created.
There is a difference in the time and place settings in which these two pieces were
written. Russia during the nineteenth century contained quite a different lifestyle than
ancient Greece. At the time of Sophocles‟ play, religion consisted of many deities, each in
charge of a different aspect of life. Russia, on the other hand, has always been a dominantly
monotheistic society. Although both places experienced different religious views, the
message remains the same. Arrogance is an attempt at godliness, whether there be one god
or many. The Greeks labeled this frequent occurrence as hubris, meaning excessive pride.
Authors often write of the ignorance and sinfulness of excessive pride. Sophocles claims,
“any mortal who dares hold / No immortal Power in awe / Will be caught up in a net of
pain” (Sophocles l.844-846. 12 ). The “net of pain” to which he refers is a dreadful fate
given by the gods. In this Greek society, arrogance was punishable by the gods. Remaining
humble and accepting inferiority to the gods was the key to salvation. The situation was
slightly different in Russian society. They did not believe that the gods took such an active
role in the lives of humans, and it was not commonly thought that a god would specifically
punish somebody. The Ranevskayas, however, do demonstrate that those who assume
superiority in general are nothing but fools.
The erudite Trofimov sums up this universal theme:
Whether or not the estate is sold today—does it really matter? That‟s all done
with long ago; there‟s no turning back, the path is overgrown. Be calm, my
dear. One must not deceive oneself; at least once in one‟s life one ought to
look the truth straight in the eye (Chekhov 357).
As he comforts Lyubov while she awaits the news of what happened to the cherry
orchard, she is still kidding herself with false hope, ignorant hope. She did not want to see
the truth, and now her fate is sealed. Had she opened her eyes, things might have ended up
differently. Trofimov tells her to look the dreadful truth straight in the eye because she
“served [her] own destruction” (Sophocles l.1468. 20). And yet, despite the wisdom of our
predecessors, do we not still find our vision obscured by a prideful stubbornness, our eyes
sealed against the light of truth?
Note: While the primary texts referred to in the essay serve as the sources for all quotations,
complete citations in a “Works Cited” page is considered standard in academic writing.
Please include complete citations whenever primary and/or secondary sources are used.
A Response to a Text—Stephanie Wood
Softly Spoken Strength
Through her use of southern black language Zora Neale Hurston illustrates how to
live and learn from life‟s experiences. Janie, the main character in Hurston‟s Their Eyes
Were Watching God, is a woman who defies what people expect of her and lives her life
searching to become a better person. Not easily satisfied with material gain, Janie quickly
jumps into a search to find true happiness and love in life. She finally achieves what she has
searched for with her third marriage. Unfortunately, however, after years of a happy
marriage, Janie accidentally kills her husband during an argument. Her town forces her not
only to deal with the grief, but to prove her innocence to a jury. Enduring and overcoming
her three husbands and forty years of life experiences, Janie looks within herself to find and
use her long hidden, but courageous voice.
Janie‟s first attempt at love does not turn out quite like she hopes. Her grandmother
forces her into marrying Logan Killicks. As the year passes, Janie grows unhappy and
miserable. By pure fate, Janie meets Joe Starks and immediately lusts after him. With the
knowledge of being wrong and expecting to be ridiculed, she leaves Logan and runs off with
Joe to start a new marriage. This is the first time that Janie does what she wants in her
search of happiness: “Even if Joe was not waiting for her, the change was bound to do her
good…From now on until death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled
over everything” (32). Janie‟s new outlook on life, although somewhat shadowed by blind
love, will keep her satisfied momentarily, but soon she will return to the loneliness she is
At the beginning of her second marriage, her new husband seems to hold all the
qualities she looks for. He treats her wonderfully and strives to make her happy. Soon after
they move to a new town, Eatonville, Joe concentrates his time and thoughts on being the
mayor and becoming powerful, not towards Janie. One evening, as the town gathers for the
grand opening of its general store, Joe denies Janie the chance to make a speech, even
though the crowd wants one: “„Thank yuh for yo‟ compliments, but mah wife don‟t know
nothin‟„bout no speech-makin‟. Ah never married her for nothin‟ lak dat. She‟s uh woman
and her place is in de home‟” (43). Janie, very hurt and embarrassed, does not tell Joe of her
feelings, but instead keeps them to herself. This non-confrontational attitude toward her
marriage shows how easily Janie lets Joe control her with his authority: “„Ah hates
disagreement and confusion, so Ah better not talk. It makes it hard to get along‟” (57).
Instead of working out her anger with her husband, an important quality in any working
relationship, Janie keeps quiet and lets the frustration and emotion build within her.
As their marriage grows, so do Janie‟s opinions and her ability to express them. She
starts to stand up to Joe when they get into arguments, although Joe continues to refuse to
see or speak with her. As Joe grows ill, and close to death, Janie forces him to listen to what
she has to say:
Naw, you gointuh listen tuh me one time befo‟ you die. Have yo‟ way all yo‟
life, trample and mash down and then die ruther than tuh let yo‟self heah
„bout it. Listen, Jody, you ain‟t de Jody ah ran off down the road wid.
whut‟s left after he died. Ah run off tuh keep house wid you in uh
way. But you wasn‟t satisfied wid me de way Ah was. Naw! Mah
had tuh be squeezed and crowded out tuh make room for yours in me. (86)
This is the first time Janie expresses her feelings to her husband about how he treats
her. Unfortunately, this pivotal step in their relationship comes too late for them to salvage
their loving marriage before Joe passes away. Although the reader might see this progress
as unimportant, actually it is very significant. From this moment, Janie begins to change her
way of thinking and acting.
Soon after Joe‟s death, Janie meets a young man, Tea Cake, who attracts her and
with whom she gets along easily. Janie does not try to hide her relationship from the
disapproving town, and she runs off with Tea Cake to the muck in southern Florida. Mrs.
Turner, another wife on the muck, does not like Tea Cake and tries to interest Janie in her
brother. Janie, although not interested, receives a harsh beating from the jealous Tea Cake.
Tea Cake explains the beating as a way of proving his control not only over Janie, but the
Turners as well. Although their relationship is violent, Tea Cake is the only man with whom
Janie is comfortable, and can love as violently.
The violence of their relationship provokes the final example of Janie expressing her
newfound voice. In self-defense during an argument, Janie accidentally killed her husband
and the court prepares to try her for murder. Many people attend the trial, including her old
friends from the muck, who are hoping to witness her conviction. Janie takes the stand,
knowing she has to change the minds of all those against her and make them see her as Tea
Cake‟s wife and lover, not the murderer they perceive her as: “She tried to make them see
how terrible it was that things were fixed so that Tea Cake couldn‟t come back to himself
until he had got rid of that mad dog that was in him and he couldn‟t get rid of the dog and
live...She didn‟t plead to anybody. She just sat there and told them and when she was
through she hushed” (187). Ironically, Hurston summarizes the trial, without including
direct testimony from Janie. One may think that such an important aspect of Janie‟s story,
and also a main example of her finally vocalizing her feelings, would be told by Janie
herself. The reader can conclude that although Janie learned from her experiences and came
to speak her mind, she also sees the appropriate time to do so.
The judge rules her innocent; Janie buries her husband, and decides to go back to
her home in Eatonville. Hurston weaves the story back to the beginning of the novel where
Janie returns home and finishes her story to her friend Pheoby. Afterward, Janie reiterates
that Pheoby can go and tell all the other women in the town just exactly what happened:
“„You can tell „em what Ah say if you wants to. Dat‟s just de same as me „cause mah tongue
is in mah friend‟s mouf‟” (6). But Janie knows that the other women will never understand
because they haven‟t lived through what she did: “talkin‟ don‟t amount tuh uh hill uh beans
when yuh can‟t do nothin‟ else. And listenin‟ tuh dat kind uh talk is jus‟ lak openin‟ yo‟
mouth and lettin‟ de moon shine down yo‟ throat. It‟s a known fact, Pheoby, you got tuh go
there tuh know there‟” (192). Janie no longer worries about what others think of her, nor
does she feel that she has to suppress her thoughts and feelings. The tragic death of her third
husband, a turning point in her way of thinking, helps her to find her voice and to express it
Their Eyes Were Watching God is not a novel simply about a young black woman
dealing with her husband‟s death; but rather, it is the story of a young black woman dealing
with life and learning from its experiences. The story starts out with Janie as a child and
continues through her life, showing her growth as a person. By the end of the novel, Janie,
an old woman, has dealt with many experiences and also much pain. Through her three
marriages, the death of her one true love, and proving her innocence in Tea Cake‟s death,
Janie learns to look within herself to find her hidden voice. Growing as a person from the
many obstacles she has overcome during her forty years of life, Janie finally speaks her
thoughts, feelings and opinions. From this, she finds what she has been searching for her
whole life, happiness.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper Collins, 1990.
Complete Portfolio—Scott Gruenbaum
In his letter Scott Gruenbaum clearly presents himself as a writer who can play with
language, using humor when appropriate to explain why he chose the pieces he did for
inclusion in the portfolio. He analyzes how writing the persuasive essay caused him to
modify his position on the issue under discussion, notes that writing a response to a text is
the “most painful type of essay to write” yet expresses confidence that he did indeed write
an effective one, and proudly tells his reader that the short story “was written by me for me.”
The letter, therefore, is an introduction to both the portfolio‟s contents and their author. The
short story, “Starlight Through the Clouds,” is a fluid descriptive narrative that displays a
rich vocabulary and an eye for detail. The persuasive essay, “Pawns to Advancement,” uses
a variety of reputable published sources and personal interviews to explore the controversial
issue of animal testing and presents the author‟s views in a controlled yet firm tone. “The
River of Choices,” a brief response to the text Hamlet, nonetheless distills important
moments from the play to offer a focused look at Shakespeare‟s use of diction and poetic
devices. As a whole, Gruenbaum‟s portfolio takes risks, displays an extremely effective use
of language, and demonstrates he can write proficiently in response to a variety of prose
Scott Gruenbaum—Reflective Letter
Dear Miami University Writing Teachers,
I‟ll admit outright that this portfolio presented me with something of a quandary. It
called for a work of fiction, a persuasive essay, and a response to a text— a balanced mix, to
be sure— but unfortunately, many of my favorite pieces did not exactly fit into those
categories. Therefore, I was not able to include several works which best illustrate who I am
and where I come from. You should count this a blessing. For some reason, most people I
talk to do not truly appreciate a proper hamster-worship, cheesecake, and/or attack-squirrel
essay. Those who don‟t immediately shuffle slowly away usually end up making a few
clever comments regarding medication. Anyway, after a careful consideration of the saner
pieces that actually somewhat fit the specifications, I came up with... two out of the three.
The persuasive essay was a piece of cake, so to speak. In my Junior year, I wrote an
argumentative essay on the subject of animal testing. At the time I was totally opposed to
any sort of testing. I will not go so far as to state that writing this essay radically changed my
outlook on things, but over the course of my research, I did come to a new, perhaps more
moderate, understanding. Some readers of this and my other argumentative essays may think
that I have no real opinion, that I waver too much and don‟t know what to think. Allow me
to state for these people that this is for the most part inaccurate. There may be some issues
(football scores, current fashions, etc.) that I don‟t care about, but on most serious subjects, I
try to take a moderate stance, as I have so often found whether when researching animal
testing or the destruction of the rainforest that both sides have valid and important points,
and any extremist view most often fails to solve anything.
For me, the second most painful type of essay to write is a response to a text. The
first most difficult to write, of course, would be poetry. For your own sake, be glad this is a
prose portfolio (Douglas Adams fans, think Vogons...). Anyway, over the years I have
written a great many responses, some bad, some good, all quite boring. I mean, its great
when Shakespeare uses the “s” sound repeatedly to enhance his wave/ocean imagery, but
writing a multi-page paper on that subject is not on my “Lifetime Goals” list. However, as
you English teachers seem to like responses, I managed to scrounge up one on Hamlet that I
personally feel is rather well done. I would expound more on this subject, but it‟s making
Now I had a problem. I‟ve written a few short story-type pieces, but upon
reexamination, I found that none of them would properly meet the requirement. One was
way too long at 16 pages, one consisted entirely of inside jokes bashing the school‟s
marching band, and the third, the most promising, was a) still too long, and b) was a little
too... weird. It was meant as a parody of The Crucible, but, as many of my things do, took
on my personality:
Applegale: The rutabaga! It... it says its going to eat me! (She falls to
the floor and starts clucking like a chicken) The purple rutabaga is coming
Therefore, I was forced to write an original short story. After a few bad starts, I
decided to try my hand at descriptive writing. I‟ve always somewhat admired those authors
who could talk so much that it seemed to take 10 pages for anything to happen. So, when I
wrote my story, I determined that I would have as little plot as possible, and concentrate
mostly on the imagery. As I am something of a nature lover/ very minor tree hugger, I
wrote about the woods. To give a brief synopsis: tree gets hit by lightning, falls down. And
it took me three pages to say that! Heh heh.... Upon submitting this piece, I know it‟s a risk.
Half the people who read it liked it; half gave me the look and suggested a massive re-write.
Frankly, I don‟t care. I had fun writing it, and I personally like my descriptions, and that‟s
good enough for me. The two previous essays were written for an outside reader— a
teacher, student, wonderful, kind, caring, vaguely god-like Miami portfolio grader, etc— but
the final short story was written by me for me.
Anyway, I‟m about out of room for this letter, so I guess you‟re all saved from one
of my hamster stories... „tis a pity. Maybe if I ever meet you face to face I‟ll recount the tale
of the Great MO, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Wilson G———- (my last name) Jr. II, Cutest
Bouncing Bubbly Baby Boy Kong Child, Moldy Cheese, The Hamster Formerly Known As
Cabbage. Or maybe not— especially if the medical authorities get to me first...
Oops, can‟t tell you my name,
Scott Gruenbaum—A Narrative or Short Story
Starlight Through the Clouds
The sunset was not spectacular that day. The vivid ruby and tangerine streaks that so
often caressed the blue brow of the sky were sleeping, hidden behind the heavy mists. There
are some days when the sunlight seems to dance, to weave and frolic with tongues of fire
between the blades of grass. Not on that day. That evening, the yellow light was sickly. It
diffused softly through the gray curtains with a shrouded light that just failed to illuminate.
High up in the treetops, the leaves swayed, but on the ground, the grass was silent, limp and
unmoving. The sun set and the earth waited.
On the edge of a small wood, an ancient tree sat hunched over, the gnarled, old king
of a once vast domain that had long ago been turned to pasture. The great, gray knees
gripped the hard earth with a solidity of purpose that made it difficult to determine just
where the tree began and the soil ended, so strong was the union of the ancient bark and
grainy sustenance. Many years had those roots known—years when the dry sands had
shriveled the outer branches under a parched sun, years when the waters had risen up,
drowning those same sands in the tears of unceasing time. Many sands had the tree known;
many green neighbors had come and gone, yet the tree remained. The mighty roots had
endured such whips and scorns as had been cast upon it, but the old tree had survived, a
pillar of twisted iron and horn against the now sickly sky. In the waning light of evening,
the tree waited.
In the deep crevices between the tufts of grass, the shadows stalked slowly upward,
submerging the sandy earth in an inky sea. The sun sank until only its last, thin razor of
light glimmered over the fields. Time stretched its ancient joints, and lazily, yet inexorably,
ground onward. The dusk hung in an eternal, yet horribly finite stillness. The bees still
buzzed and hummed among the flowers; the deer still grazed softly among the undulating
waves of grass, yet in that moment, their movement seemed arrested, held in check by the
And the winds came.
The wild west wind came down through the fields, rousing the deer from their
reverie, and swaying the bee-studded flowers. From its highest bough to the loose sand on
its mighty roots, the ancient tree quivered lightly, yet was untroubled by the breeze. Many a
storm had passed over the tree, yet no rain had managed to drown those fathomless roots, no
hail had managed to bite the iron bark.
As the stars hang, unchanging in the nighttime sky, and as the sun moves in ceaseless
circles around the earth, so the tree had endured. And even as the wind rustled in its
outermost boughs, the tree looked out to the sun, as if for reassurance about its own
unchanging eternity. On the horizon, no yellow eye looked back. The sun was gone.
In a tumult of wind and rain, a hail of twigs and leaves thundered through the trees
and tore the arching grasses out by the roots. The deer bolted and hid, quivering, in the
darkest thickets. The sky boiled, and the younger saplings were bent almost to the ground.
Even as the shadows bounded up the stalks and blades of weeping grass, and the soft plink
of falling rain quickened to a constant hiss and sputter, the sun found its equal. A thousand
stars came down to earth and unleashed their pent-up fury on that wood. In the middle of the
chaos, the ancient tree sat, locked in a blissful
eternity of time, waiting.
And the lightning struck.
The white fury of the bolt tore into the tree and, shivering the outer limbs from the
trunk, burrowed its way inward, splintering the old bark as a giant wave would a toy raft—
and still the tree waited. With a cry that wrenched the tree from its lowest roots to its loftiest
bough, the bolt at last sprang into the guarded, iron heart. To the harsh rumble of enormous
drums, the great tree burst asunder in a blast of searing fire. The moment had come.
And the tree understood.
The winds faded and the rains shed their final tears. On the steaming ground, the old
tree lay silent, its cambered limbs crumpled, its mighty trunk cloven in two. The wood still
sighed and moaned softly in the storm‟s wake, yet around the tree, a great stillness lay. An
ineffable sense of peace, like moonlight diffused through silvery clouds, bathed the spidery
roots. In its last moments, the tree seemed to rise up in that moonlight, a glowing tower
overlooking the fast flowing river of time, higher and higher, until its lofty summit shone
down on the heavens themselves. Yet the moment fled with the retreating breeze, and the
tree sank back to the ground, its twisted mass strewn across the moist earth, dark and still, its
Even as the last light of the tree escaped the mortal grasp of the tenuous earth, it
found its way up, up into the clouds themselves, and scattered them as one would mere mists
and vapors. And in that lofty canvass of the sky, the light was born again, and the stars
reappeared in all their glory. They had been hidden as the sun was now, hidden behind the
orb of the earth and the shadowy clouds, yet their light remained, inextinguishable, eternal.
The cloud was a passing moment, nothing more, and had been dispersed. Now the eyes of
the heavens stared down on the eyes of the earth, and, through the wreckage and ruin, they
On the ground, near the roots of the old tree, the star‟s light was intercepted by green
shoots and small, crinkled leaves— last season‟s seeds. Tiny children of the mother tree,
they were doomed to live out their lives under her suffocating blanket of branches. Now as
they gazed upward, innumerable points of light gazed back. A light wind rustled the
miniature stalks of the saplings, blowing the new debris around in short-lived eddies that
danced softly through the night. Then, slowly at first, but with ever increasing intensity, a
small glimmer appeared on the glossy leaves. Through the whispering blades of grass, a
brilliant fire arose from the depths turning the lingering water droplets into liquid silver that
dripped from expectant leaves and flowed gurgling into shallow puddles, bathing the young
trees with the succulent taste of a new day.
And the golden morning sun rose.
Scott Gruenbaum—An Explanatory, Exploratory, or Persuasive
Pawns to Advancement
Without animal research, cures for such diseases as typhoid, diphtheria, and polio
might never have existed. Without animal research, the development of antibiotics and
insulin would have been delayed. Without animal research, many human beings would now
be dead. However, because of animal testing, 200,000 dogs, 50,000 cats, 60,000 primates,
1.5 million hamsters, and uncounted millions of rats and mice are experimented upon and
die each year, as living fodder for the great human scientific machine. Some would say that
animal research is an integral part of progress; unfortunately, this is often true. On the
whole, animal testing is a necessary evil that should be reduced and eliminated whenever
Since the time of Aristotle, animals have been used to further human progress.
When Galen pioneered the study of anatomy or when Harvey discovered the circulation of
blood, they used animals as a vital portion of their work. Why? Because at the time there
was no alternative short of testing on human beings, an option very few would morally
accept then or even now. Throughout all of human history, the pattern has remained the
same—human technological and scientific progress has always involved testing on animals.
Without that testing, modern medicine would be a shadow of what it is today. Many
modern procedures stem directly from testing with animals. In addition, doctors and
surgeons receive much of their training with the living tissues of animals. Computer
simulations and other methods simply cannot compete with experience on a living being.
For example, the United States Army formerly shot goats to train physician responses to
gunshot wounds (Cole 3). There was no other way to train military doctors because
shootings are relatively rare in hospitals. In short, without animal testing, it would be
difficult for science to advance, or as Dave Weaner, a physics and science teacher at
Westerville North High School, said, “Animal testing is valid because it gives us something
to compare results against; it is necessary for advancement.” However the question now
comes up, “What is necessary and what is merely a waste of a life?” Any testing on a living
being is horrible; however, in the case of cancer research, doctor training, drug research, et
cetera, it has a weighty purpose—to save future lives. Some animal testing is not only
unnecessary, but it is disrespectful to the animals being used. Cosmetic or frivolous
consumer goods have no place being tested on animals. Humans have no right to harm
another being merely to “look pretty.” Mrs. Whisler, an English teacher, agrees, saying,
ì[Cosmetic testing] is disrespectful; never should a life be given for a beauty product....î
Luckily, animal testing is in decline on all fronts. New advancements in science have made
available options for testing that do not include animals.
For many years, the only alternative to animal testing was human testing. However,
today there are many alternative methods that have played a part in the reduction of animal
testing. Modern computer modeling, tissue samples, cell cultures, and advances in molecular
biology are all now used to do preliminary testing on new products. Other testing on lower
life forms such as bacteria, invertebrates, and embryos have further reduced the need for live
animal testing (Breen 6). Yet uncounted numbers of animals are still used for research.
Why? Why with so many new methods are animals still subjugated? The answer,
unfortunately, is simple. “Computer models and other methods can‟t compete with [animal]
testing, (Dave Weaner Interview). In other words, the only real way to tell how a substance
will react with a living being is to test it on a living being; models can only help so far and in
the end, animals must be used to ensure the data is valid (Breen 6). There is one other way in
which animal testing can and is being reduced. Modern science does not require the same
number of animals to perform experiments as it once did. For instance the Lethal Dose 50%
(LD50) tests of the past can be replaced with tests involving not hundreds but a dozen or so
animals. As Doctor Stephens, an animal researcher, notes, “...the number of animal tests and
the number of animals tested, can be greatly reduced.” Animal testing, though needed for
human scientific progress, is less required than it once was. New alternatives have reduced
the need, though a need still exists. Perhaps animal testing can never be fully eliminated,
however that which remains should be monitored carefully and kept as humane as possible.
The humanity of testing had long been a concern for animal rights activists—the
humanity of exposing animals to pain and the humanity of confining those same animals to a
life in a laboratory. The regulation of these problems has fallen on the federal government.
It is true, the government has done much to advance the quality of life for animals; from the
1966 Lab Animal Welfare Act and 1970 Animal Welfare Act, to the 1985 Health Research
Extension Act, it has established regulations for painless research and the inspection of labs
on a regular basis (Breen 8). Because of this, fewer animals are used every year and many
are treated more kindly. However, are these regulations doing enough? The sad truth of it is
that some animals are still being tortured needlessly, and, if caught, the persons involved are
generally treated with leniency. Indeed, in the majority of court cases, the court only rules
against a human in the most shocking examples of cruelty. Why only the most cruel? As
Dave Weaner says, “Animals cannot and do not have the same legal rights as humans.”
Some, including such high ranking officials as Supreme Court Justice William Douglas,
have expressed hope that someday all forms of life will be protected under the Constitution.
For now, though, stronger government regulations on testing and harsher punishments for
violators would perhaps reduce the number of animals that die each year under human
At this point the question arises, “Why should we care?” Why should the human race
be bothered with testing on mere animals? After all, the book of Genesis itself states that
humans should, “...fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over all the living creatures that
move on the earth.” Does this mean that humans have a God-given right to do whatever they
wish to animals? Of course not. For example, if a human set a cat on fire for the fun of it,
would that be morally acceptable? Never. Why then should it be all right to kill an animal
for medical or scientific testing? Is a mouse who died for cancer research any less deserving
of pity than a fiery feline? Most would answer, “Yes, that mouse died for a noble cause,
probably with little suffering.” Verily, the death of a lab animal does have a purpose—
human benefit—but the result is the same. Both the cat and the mouse gave the only thing
they had—their lives. Human beings have taken things from animals since the beginning of
time: food, clothes, and shelter, to name a few. By the same token, animals have used one
another, plants have used other plants, and even one celled protista have used each other for
survival. Therefore, some would say that if it is morally acceptable to kill for food, it should
be okay to use living beings to further human progress. However, the killing of another
creature for survival is in no way morally sound. It is no more right than shooting a man in
cold blood. From the human being hunting a hamburger in a McDonalds to a wolf hunting
caribou on the tundra, it is a necessary part of life. Life must kill to survive. As Jim
Mahoney, an animal researcher stated, “I do not think that human beings have a right to use
animals in any form...but we have a need and I can truly see no alternative.”
For centuries, philosophers have been debating the great moral question, “Do the
ends justify the means?” Do the benefits of animal testing outweigh the cost to individual
animals? For some, this is not a question; animals are inferior and therefore obviously
humans outweigh them no matter what. Why are animals necessarily inferior to humans,
though? Is it intelligence? Some primates that are used for testing demonstrate an
intelligence on par with that of some humans. Is it lack of technological skill? Chimpanzees
use tools similar to those of remote African tribes. Would testing on, say, a pygmy be
acceptable? Never. The only reason that humans deem animals inferior is because of a
species bias (Dave Weaner Interview). “Humans are superior simply because I am a human
and therefore, they are better!” In short, humans use animals because they can and because
they find the tests too awful to implement on a member of their own species. Therefore, in
answering the question of do the ends justify the means, one must try to look at each
situation objectively. Pretend those are humans being tested upon and not a hamster or
rabbit. If the benefits of the test to life in general still outweigh the cost, if that test is
necessary for one‟s survival, then there is no alternative. In these cases, testing is justified,
as long as it is done as humanely and as respectfully as possible. If the answer is no and if
the test will probably bring no advantage to life, then to carry out the test would be a waste
of one or many lives and is unacceptable.
The “great” philosopher Spock once asked, “Do the good of the many outweigh the
good of the few or the one?” Do the rights of humans to protect their own species overrule
the rights of animals to life? Unfortunately, as in every moral dilemma, there is no one
concrete answer. Progress is an inevitable part of human existence; it is the struggle against
the earth, against the natural laws, and against our very species—it is a struggle for survival.
To survive it is necessary to use whatever resources are available to do so, in this case,
animals. New alternatives and regulations have reduced the need and use of animals in
experiments, but they remain and will remain until humanity can find a better alternative.
Testing is morally wrong, but in many cases, unavoidable, and in these instances, the good
of the many must come before the good of the few or the one. True, animal testing has
brought the human race many advances in the area of medicine and technology, but the cost
has been horrendous. The only solution to this moral dilemma of necessity versus morality
is to have compassion and judgement in what is really important for survival. If every
person showed compassion and respect for those animals which they must use, only
essential testing would be carried out with the same benefits to humans and fewer costs to
the animals involved. With each and every animal that must be harmed, look into their eyes
and think, in the words of another great philosopher, Sergeant Joe Friday, “What gives you
the right to choose when to end their life?” Look into their face and remember that always.
Breen, Bill. “Why We Need Animals.” Garbage April/May 1993: 38.
Cole, John R. “Animal Rights and Wrongs.” Taking Sides: Psychological Issues.
Gilford: Dushkin Publishing Group, 1996.
Lane, Stuart. “Banning Animal Testing May Be Hazardous to Your Health.” Priorities
23. Loeb, Jerod M. “Human vs. Animal Rights: In Defense of Animal Research.”
Science, Technology, and Society. Gilford: Dushkin Publishing Group, 1996.
Oí Connor, Karen. Sharing the Kingdom. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Lmt, 1984.
Regan, Tom. “Ill-Gotten Gains.” Taking Sides: Bioethical Issues. Gilford: Dushkin
Publishing Group, 1996.
Rohr, Janelle. Animal Rights: Opposing Viewpoints. NP: Greenhaven Press, 1989.
Weaner, Dave. Personal Interview. 22 March, 2000.
Whistler, Ann. Personal Interview. 24 March, 2000.
Zak, Steven. “Ethics and Animals.” Taking Sides: Science, Technology, and
Dushkin Publishing Group, 1996.
Scott Gruenbaum—A Response to a Text
The River of Choices
It is said that life is nothing more than an endless stream of choices. Every day
before work or school, we must all make choices—what to eat, what to wear, whether or not
to bother with that homework assignment—some of which are trivial, while others have the
direst consequences. In Shakespeare‟s classic play Hamlet, the inner thoughts that
accompany each decision, as well as the quest for what is actually truth and what is lie, is
brought to light in Act 2.2. Hamlet is caught in a great struggle over what to do with his
uncle, his evil, murderous uncle. By all rights he should die...yet the easy choice—outright
murder—is not always the correct or prudent one. Overall, through diction and poetic
devices, Shakespeare manages to convey a feeling of bitterness, an angry yet doubtful tone
that shows the turmoil of the inner mind of a complex character.
This angry tone is brought about to a great extent by the choice of diction. Hamlet‟s
soliloquy is full of angry words; he refers to people of the wretched lower classes—whores,
drabs, and kitchen maids—as he curses his own cowardice. Strings of adjectives describing
all sorts of horrible sins are attached to the king as well as his own name. The king is a
treacherous, kindless, “bloody, bawdy villain!”
As Hamlet‟s anger both at the king and himself radiates from the speech, so does his
inner confusion. There are two choices open to him—revenge or cowardice as he sees it.
Shakespeare uses words and ideas to remind the reader of this fact throughout. Hamlet refers
to “heaven and hell,” showing that Hamlet knows that only one course of action is just, yet
he is in doubt. In the passage, the devil is mentioned several times, both as a reason to kill
the king, as well as a reason to be cautious. Hamlet fears the devil “abuses me to damn me.”
As with all choices, Hamlet‟s has a right and a wrong so to speak...yet it is not entirely clear
which one is which, thus the source of his doubt, and a source of his anger at himself.
Just as word choice and diction plays a part in setting the angry tone of Hamlet‟s
soliloquy, so does Shakespeare‟s extensive use of poetic devices. It is said that a good poem
must have agreement between structure and theme. Hamlet epitomizes this trait. The vast
majority of the passage, as with most of Shakespeare‟s work, is in blank verse, that is,
unrhymed iambic pentameter. However, at certain points, the rhythm changes to emphasize
important points. For instance, in line 581, the pattern switches to trochaic as Hamlet lists a
series of horrible words for his uncle, and then leads into a 2 beat line as he screams for
vengeance. There are also several instances of caesuras breaking off thoughts and
enjambments carrying on ideas, thus leading the reader on a trip into Hamlet‟s brain. For
instance, when Hamlet finally realizes what it is he must do, the thought stops mid-line. “I
know my course.” Important ideas are thus emphasized and brought out by meter and
Shakespeare also uses several different poetic devices to again emphasize certain
phrases, as well as allow the speech to more easily flow. Internal rhyme in line 581,
“Remorseless, treacherous...villain!”, as well as a heroic couplet at the end of the act serve
to bring out Hamlet‟s strong dislike for the king. In addition, the letter “h” is used
extensively in lines 583- 587 to tie together the opposing sides of Hamlet‟s dilemma. The
sounds of heaven and hell, whore and heart show the conflict within the man and serve to
bring out the theme of choices and the reality of the situation. For, as Hamlet knows, the
correct answer is not always apparent and all choices may prove ill.
Just as the later part of the speech is an allusion to the actors in a play, so is Hamlet
an actor, unsure of what direction to head, unsure of what direction is really the correct way.
Like every human being, Hamlet is caught up in a choice—a grave and far more serious
choice than what to eat for lunch—but a choice nonetheless. Through diction and form,
Shakespeare manages to bring the tortured spirit, the angry yet doubtful mind, the horribly
bitter soul of a man trapped in a choice that he shouldn‟t have to make, to life. He shows
how we wrestle with the best and worst in every choice and the uncertainty inherent in all
important decisions. It is this theme that makes Hamlet real. It is this...humanity that drives
in the point. Life is full of options, some bad, some good, most a mix of both. All we can do,
like Hamlet, is do the best we can in each situation and wrestle with the doubt when it
Note: While the primary text referred to in the essay serves as the source for all quotations,
a complete citation in a “Works Cited” page is considered standard in academic writing.
Please include complete citations whenever primary and/or secondary sources are used.
Complete Portfolio—Camilla Hileman
Camilla Hileman‟s creative cover letter opens with visuals that entice the reader to
see reading her portfolio as a journey of discovery. The metaphor carries into her description
of the fictional narrative and the way children view the world. The exploratory essay‟s topic
is concisely summarized as prelude to stating her approach to it, a balanced one that will
attempt to “candidly analyze” the benefits and drawbacks. She makes clear her personal
connection to the literary text she responds to, which again is one based on a quest. And so
the theme of writing as a voyage is consciously maintained throughout the introductory
letter. “Mama‟s Journal,” the fictional narrative, is a beautifully crafted, poignant look at
spousal physical abuse that uses repetition and the metaphor of a jungle to convey a child‟s
confusion and fear. Hileman creates a fictional scenario again to open her exploratory essay,
“The Human Genome Quandary,” but then moves smoothly into a scientific and ethical
discussion. Her response to Siddhartha, titled “The Illumination,” analyzes the title
character as prelude to locating herself as a seeker of simplicity and tranquility. Overall,
Hileman‟s portfolio displays solid abilities in responding to a variety of prose tasks and
talent at crafting language to various effects.
Camilla Hileman—Reflective Letter
Dear Miami University Writing Professors,
When I close my eyes, I see a black abyss. If I squeeze tighter, the shadowed abyss
has splotches of yellow, cartwheeling from one side of the chasm to the other. Then the
blackness begins to glow. The darkness is illuminated by fiery fingers of red that smother
the night. My closed eyes are like a telescope, reflecting a convoluted image of an exploding
meteoroid. The meteoroid grows larger and clearer until I can detect a swirling flame of
thoughts and beliefs shooting across my mind. It is difficult to focus on a single idea because
each thought ignites another thought to form an endless chain of imagination. I cannot
explain these thoughts to you. I cannot dissect the mechanics of my mind. I can only offer
you a glimpse of the darkness. It is my hope that you will chase the darkness until you
discover the light. Close your eyes. Let the journey begin.
My fictional narrative describes a crumbling family situation from the vantage point
of a young child. Children perceive the world through clear eyes. They see the truth that we
can no longer recognize. They recover the wisdom that we lost with our innocence. In
“Mama‟s Jungle,” a child‟s imagination is the frail barrier to a horrifying reality. When
complications become too complicated, circumstances are re-centered in a world the child
understands. This short story depicts the almost tangible love of a child and a mother as they
struggle to retain hope for a seemingly hopeless future.
I have also included an exploratory essay that closely examines the Human Genome
Project. The Human Genome Project is a scientific endeavor with two main aspirations. The
direct goal of this project is to pinpoint the precise location of every human gene. Scientists
have successfully mapped the position of each gene, thus accomplishing this element of the
enterprise. The secondary aim of the Human Genome Project is to identify the separate
implications of each gene. Once the gene is located, scientists attempt to decipher that
particular gene‟s function. This decoding process is the current frenzy of many genetic
specialists. My essay scrutinizes the possible effects of the Human Genome Project.
Although genetic advancement is generally viewed in a favorable light, many ethical
concerns nullify the brilliance of this project. I have elected to candidly analyze the benefits
and the shortcomings of this scientific exploit.
The fourth piece in my portfolio considers Siddhartha as a contemplative novel.
Siddhartha questions the human role on earth through a prevailing theme of Eastern
spirituality. This novel is closely connected to my own personal thoughts and ideas. I
believe that all people embark upon a quest at some point in their lives. My quest is just
beginning, and I find it helpful to reflect on the completed journey of another person. The
character of Siddhartha is an inspiration to me, for I too seek to clarify the surrounding
As my thoughts solidify into words, I urge you to continue on your journey.
Continue the quest. And please, enjoy ...
A Fellow Artist
Camilla Hileman—A Narrative or Short Story
It is midnight and a butterfly is trapped in my room. I see it fly over the ceiling and it
hides in my bookshelf. I think it got stuck between the books. I tiptoe across the room. I am
very quiet. But the butterfly isn‟t there. I think the rabbit scared it away. A rabbit hops
backward down my walls. It‟s a rabbit not a bunny. I don‟t like bunnies. Only rabbits.
Shhhh! He‟s staring at me. I can see into his eyes. He is a pink rabbit with blue polka dots
and he asks me if he can pretty please have a carrot. I have to tell him no because he already
had his bedtime snack. I slide down under the covers. It‟s hot and sticky under there. Like a
jungle. Sometimes I hide under there all by myself so no one can find me. It‟s dark.
Sometimes the dark is so scary. When I‟m in my jungle I can change shapes. I become a
bird and fly away. I hope the dark doesn‟t get scary tonight.
Mama‟s watching TV. I hear a hummy sound downstairs that means the TV is on.
Mama always watches TV at night. I like to cuddle in her arms and watch the TV too but I
have to go to bed. Mama says I‟m tired but she doesn‟t know that I don‟t sleep in my room.
I hide in the jungle and I have to stay awake so that I can watch out for dragons. Dragons
live in jungles. I have to be careful when I‟m in my jungle because a dragon might sneak up
on me in the dark and then I‟d be scared but Mama couldn‟t come to help me and I‟d have to
fight the dragon on my own but I‟m really brave. Mama tells me how brave I am but even
Mama doesn‟t know that I could fight a dragon.
Mama‟s still watching TV. The hummy noise helps me go to sleep. Sometimes I
can‟t hear the hummy noise. I have to stay awake because it gets so loud. When it gets really
loud I crawl under the sheets but I can still hear Mama. I can hear Mama breathe. Sometimes
Mama breathes like I do when I‟m under my sheets in my jungle. It‟s hot in the jungle and
hard to breathe. Maybe Mama has a jungle too and that‟s why she makes those short gaspy
noises. Sometimes when I‟m in my jungle I can see the dragon. I have to hide and close my
eyes so that the dragon can‟t see me. Maybe Mama closes her eyes too. I wonder if Mama
has a dragon in her jungle.
I can‟t hear the hummy noise anymore. It‟s so loud. I wish Mama and I could watch
TV together. He‟s so loud. I‟ll protect Mama from the dragon. The dragon‟s in my jungle
again. I‟m afraid he‟s going to hurt Mama. I can‟t hear. It‟s too loud. Mama‟s in her jungle. I
can hear her breathing. Mama must have seen the dragon because she‟s crying. He‟s too
loud. I squeeze my pillow hard. I squeeze it over my head in the jungle. But I can still hear
him. Mama‟s crying. He‟s yelling. I‟m breathing like Mama because it‟s too loud and the
dark is too scary and I squeeze my pillow harder and I can still hear him screaming. I hear a
crash against the wall. I think it was Mama‟s heart. I think he threw Mama‟s heart against
I am quiet in my jungle. They don‟t know that I am awake fighting dragons. They
don‟t know that dragons live in jungles. Maybe Mama knows. Maybe Mama‟s seen a dragon
in her jungle.
He‟s coming. I can hear him. It‟s all quiet now except for him. I can hear him
banging on the steps. He‟s getting closer and closer. The dragon. But I‟m really supposed to
be sleeping. The dragon doesn‟t know I‟m awake. He doesn‟t know I‟m awake. He thinks
I‟m sleeping. So the dragon thunders by me. He doesn‟t see me. I‟m hiding behind a tree in
my jungle. I‟m hiding under the sheets in my room. He doesn‟t see me. I think Mama
already fought the dragon. I don‟t hear Mama. I don‟t know where she is. I can just hear the
dragon. He‟s roaring. He‟s pounding on the steps. I‟m frozen in my jungle so he doesn‟t see
me. He doesn‟t see me. The dragon stomps right by me. And I hear a door slam. I think it‟s
safe. I think I can take the pillow off my head. I think I can peek out of the covers. It‟s not so
dark anymore. I can here Mama breathing now. I think she‟s still stuck in her jungle.
I‟m not tired. I was scared of the dragon but I‟m not tired. I‟m not tired. I can hear
the hummy sound. I‟m not. It‟s hard work hiding from a dragon. Mama isn‟t breathing so
hard and I just hear the hummy. Hummmmm. It sounds like a bee in my jungle. But I
conquered the jungle. I‟m a little sleepy. No I‟m not tired.
It‟s not so dark anymore. I‟m in my room. There‟s a bird outside my window. I think
it‟s a mama bird singing to her baby birds. Sometimes I‟m like a bird and I fly away but now
I‟m just me. I‟m just me in my room. I‟m just me in my room with a mama bird outside my
window. I wonder if the baby birds are ever scared. I bet the mama bird gets scared
sometimes. Sometimes I get scared too but I‟m brave.
My covers are warm and fuzzy. But I need to see Mama. I need to see if Mama
escaped from her jungle like me. I put my right slipper on my right foot and I put my left
slipper on my left foot. Sometimes I have to look at the slippers and see which side is
bigger. I put my big toe in the big side of the slipper. My slippers are warm and fuzzy too.
Just like my covers. Sometimes there‟s a jungle underneath my covers that‟s hot and sweaty.
I tiptoe over to Mama‟s room. Mama‟s bed covers are on the floor but I don‟t know where
Mama is. Mama‟s soft pillow is ripped and there are soft feathers in Mama‟s soft pillow but
there is still no Mama. Mama will be mad when she sees that her soft pillow is broken.
I tiptoe downstairs because I can still hear the hummy. Mama is sitting in front of the
TV. Mama‟s face is purple and blue and yellow like a rainbow. Mama looks beautiful. I
crawl onto the couch and sit on her feet. Mama moves and I can hear her breathing. Mama‟s
toenails are pretty pink. Mama is so pretty. I slither like a snake along the couch and grab
onto Mama‟s neck. I cuddle up in Mama‟s arms. I kiss her face and it tastes salty like the
salt that comes out of the blue can with the girl and her twirly umbrella on the front. I kiss
Mama again and her cheek tastes salty. Mama opens her eyes.
Maybe Mama escaped from her jungle when she opened her eyes. I think Mama was
stuck in her jungle all night but I don‟t know if she ever fought the dragon. I bet there was a
fire-breathing dragon in her jungle. And I bet Mama fought the dragon all night. Mama‟s
brave too. Maybe Mama was stronger than the dragon. Maybe the dragon was stronger than
Mama. Sometimes I have a tough time finding my way out of the jungle. I hope Mama
didn‟t get lost in there.
I snuggle in between Mama‟s arm and Mama‟s heart. I can hear her heart beating.
Thump thump thump. Hummmmm. Thump thump thump. It‟s warm next to Mama‟s heart.
But it‟s not too loud. Thump thump thump. The thumpy sound helps me go to sleep. My
cheek is next to Mama‟s heart. Thump thump thump. It sounds like Mama‟s running out of
her jungle. And I‟m waiting for Mama here next to her heart with the hummy from the TV. I
can still hear the mama bird singing outside. Maybe Mama hears her too. Thump thump
Camilla Hileman—An Explanatory, Exploratory, or Persuasive
The Human Genome Quandary
The man in the black suit solemnly steps out of the car. His wife scrambles to catch
up with his swift pace. She offers an encouraging tone or two, but the man doesn‟t listen. He
plunges through the brass, a genetically altered combination of the common bush and grass
species, both eyes set on his house. The next-door neighbors dash over to interrogate the
deserted wife. The neighbors appear instantaneously in hot pink, plastic body suits, with
tanks of oxygen attached to their backs. (This elaborate outfit, for those who may not know,
is a common protection against identity impersonation. The decoding of the human genome
inadvertently supplies criminals with an ideal method to steal another person‟s identity;
identity thieves need only a single cell from a person to detect everything about him or her.
Body suits, in addition to setting a fashionable trend, safe-guard against this possibility by
trapping all cells within the suit itself.)
The wife struggles to suppress a deluge of tears as she warmly hugs her plastic
encased neighbors. She briefly relates the day‟s events. Her husband lost the court case. He
was accused of harboring the gene for prostate cancer, and after a simple genetic test, the
accusation was confirmed. Her husband had twenty-four hours to move into a quarantined
house, located in an abandoned section of the city. He would live there indefinitely with
other potential prostate cancer victims. By isolating all people predisposed to prostate
cancer, officials hope to eliminate prostate cancer from the gene pool. The wife is purely
devastated that reality is manifesting itself so harshly in her life. The neighbors attempt to
console her, but they are quite relieved to hear that she has an upcoming appointment with
the family genetic psychiatrist. The wife is in capable, experienced hands.
Scientists have recently decoded the protein sequence of DNA. This discovery
reveals an array of possibilities. As a prospective scientist, I feel that the Human Genome
Project is a phenomenal accomplishment. This poignant knowledge will affect every single
facet of science, hopefully bouncing a cascade of innovations into motion. At the same time,
I also worry about the societal effects potentially caused by the decoding of the human
genome. The opening vignette described a few of my fears resulting from this late
Genetic testing will allow patients to be diagnosed immediately with a disease.
Illnesses that have a high survival rate when identified early may soon become obsolete.
Patients with a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer‟s may take appropriate steps to keep
their mind active. This approach could delay disease symptoms or even prevent the illness.
Genetic testing is destined to save lives.
As scientists and doctors become increasingly fluent in molecular genetics, the
possibility of genetic engineering is introduced. Scientists will soon be able to manipulate
the protein bases of DNA in order to decrease the genetic inclination of becoming afflicted
with a certain disease. If chromosome seven, for instance, has a severe aberration, doctors
could tweak the genetic bases to create a steady foundation for a healthy life.
Clearly the Human Genome Project implies many favorable outcomes, but it also
launches a complex ethical dilemma. People have unique combinations of genes that
identify their individuality. Similar to a fingerprint, no two people have the exact same
genetic code for life.
When scientists revise this genetic code, every cell in the body transforms into a genetically
altered cell. This presents concerns that the physical, unique individual is lost and replaced
by an ideal genetic prototype. A prolonged life is clearly advantageous, but perhaps there
should be limitations to human longevity. Genetic engineering introduces the risk of
discarding human individuality in favor of a flawless prearranged archetype.
I also find myself concerned about the effects that the Human Genome Project will
have on unborn children. It is already possible to test a fetus for certain diseases, such as
Down‟s Syndrome. Some parents choose to abort an unborn child on the basis of these tests.
While everyone has predetermined opinions regarding abortion, most people are able to
sympathize with the parents who face this quandary. Now imagine a mother and a father
receiving the news that their child may be born blind. Many blind persons live productive
lives, but the parents may resolve to abort the fetus. Possibly a genetic test confirms that the
baby will not be smart. Perhaps the doctors detect that the baby will be ugly. Genetic tests
deem one child better than another. It can be difficult to discern where exactly the
comparisons should cease.
The Human Genome Project deserves to have a few cautious skeptics. A
breakthrough of this magnitude needs to be carefully examined before assimilated into our
culture. Yet, at the same time, this breakthrough has become the very epitome of
engineering feats for mankind. My mixed feelings parallel an exemplary quote from The
Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist by Richard Feynman. “Trying to
understand the way nature works involves a most terrible test of human reasoning ability. It
involves subtle trickery, beautiful tight ropes of logic on which one has to walk, in order not
to make a mistake in predicting what will happen” (15).
Feynman, Richard P. The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist. Reading:
Perseus Books, 1998.
Camilla Hileman—A Response To A Text
“Then he [Siddhartha] suddenly saw clearly that he was leading a strange life, that he
was doing many things that were only a game, that he was quite cheerful and sometimes
experienced pleasure, but that real life was flowing past him and did not touch him. Like a
player who plays with his ball, he played with his business, with the people around him,
watched them, derived amusement from them; but with his heart, with his real nature, he
was not there” (Hesse 57-58).
Siddhartha journeys through a backward discovery of the Self. He begins life as a
handsome Brahmin‟s son, admired and loved by family and friends. This life does not
satisfy him, so he continues his search for the Self. He becomes a poor ascetic who
relinquishes the material comforts of life. After many years, Siddhartha discovers that he
cannot understand the Self by denying the Self. He awakens his senses by indulging in life‟s
pleasures. Soon, however, he becomes dependent on riches to give him happiness. The Self
is buried underneath a burden of possessions. Success has only blocked his journey.
Siddhartha travels to a peaceful riverbank and listens to the sounds of the water. The Self is
quietly hidden in the voice of the river. The holy Om is bound to the Self and the waters in
an indistinct pattern of perfection. Time lapses as Siddhartha recognizes the river as both the
cause and culmination of his journey.
Siddhartha‟s entire life is a quest for the Self. He is led down many paths before he
discovers the essence of true happiness and contentment. On his journey, he is blinded by
superficial pleasures. He is tempted to believe that he has discovered the Self, but he must
continue his search.
Siddhartha is a novel that touches me deeply. I can see myself in the person of
Siddhartha. I also question the life I lead. I am strangled in the paradox of materialistic
pleasure versus genuine joy. Life is a continual struggle to appreciate simplicity. The mind
can be entertained by an elaborate design of electricity that forms fuzzy pictures on a
twelve-inch screen. The Self can be fulfilled by a pure rain that drops from the sky and
drenches clothing. Yet, I have difficulty stepping away from life‟s diversions. It rains
outside, but my face is illuminated by the artificial glow of the TV.
Siddhartha is challenged by wealth. As an ascetic, the Self is starved from a lack of
physical necessities. As a rich man, Siddhartha‟s life is overwhelmed with frivolous
distractions. The Self is only affirmed when the outer world is simplified. The ferryman
alone learns this delicate balance of needs and wants. At an old age, Siddhartha ultimately
achieves an inner simplicity, an intimate peace.
It is difficult for me to simplify my own life. I constantly find myself in a clutter of
obligations and promises, deferring one duty to accomplish another. I marvel at Siddhartha‟s
life as a ferryman. I envy his moments of inner contemplation. “There shone in his
[Siddhartha‟s] face the serenity of knowledge, of one who is no longer confronted with
conflict of desires, who has found salvation, who is in harmony with the stream of events,
with the stream of life, full of sympathy and compassion, surrendering himself to the stream,
belonging to the unity of all things” (Hesse 111). I emulate the tranquility of his life.
If I silently meditate about my life for a few moments, I can conjure up quite a few
theories for simplifying my own lifestyle. There is no natural philosophy that I can instantly
apply to every minute; I must persistently pledge effort and thought into each day. On
Thursday evening, for instance, I can sacrifice watching one “Friends” episode. Instead of
resigning my mind to automatic pilot, I can turn the TV off. With one interruption
unplugged, I‟m tempted to check my e-mail or blare my favorite music, but I must leave
behind these frivolities. When I follow through on my initial efforts, I can always create a
rare moment for myself. It takes dedication and perseverance to willingly remove myself
from life‟s distractions; yet, when I conquer my tendency toward possessions, I find that the
subsequent harmony is extremely rewarding.
Siddhartha journeyed his entire life to discover the Self when he could have
uncovered the Self anywhere. Sometimes Siddhartha neglected to open his eyes. As I travel
on life‟s path, I must remember to be present to the moment, lest I too forget to remain
Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1951.
Complete Portfolio—Pamela Spellman
Pamela Spellman‟s reflective letter displays wit as she recalls her educational
experience to date and thinks about how her writing developed from imitation of her favorite
authors‟ prose styles to her own unique voice. She describes herself as a piece of iron that
was “hammered at from every side” until her “true mettle became known.” Although she
does not individually introduce all the subsequent pieces in the portfolio, she does clearly
establish herself as a serious writer and, via discussion of her particular voice, as their
author. Her narrative, “Perceptions of Heroism,” is an inventive look at a brief episode from
two differing perspectives, an outside observer and the first-person participant, and as such
cleverly explores the subjectivity of the human experience. Her persuasive essay criticizes
the ethnocentricity of American society, offering a barrage of statistics and using both
outside sources and personal observation in an effective attempt to wake up the reader and
urge global awareness. Spellman‟s response to a text, “Greater Expectations,” uses Alice in
Wonderland as an entree for analyzing the realism of Madame Bovary in a way that shows
Flaubert to be critical of romanticism as “misplac[ed] in a cacophonous and
uncomplimentary world.” Her quotation in this essay nicely illustrates her criticism of
Emma‟s absurd romantic notions and lack of introspection. Throughout the portfolio,
Spellman‟s flowing prose and diction are additional evidence of her abilities as a writer who
can proficiently execute a variety of prose tasks.
Pamela Spellman—Reflective Letter
Educational experts should really look into the merits of dissolving that awful
institution they call Junior High. The “Great Setback,” as I have termed it, dropped me after
two years of social inadequacy and educational boredom into the quagmire they call
(similarly uninspiring) High School. Yet it was in this new fortress of bomb-shelter brick
and mortar that I began to recover from the trauma of my middle school experience, and
truly find myself. Though not exactly “soul searching” (I would never openly admit to
anything so cliché), I was growing up, and my writing tended to parallel my maturation.
Always an avid reader, my writing style up until 3 years ago basically mirrored the
styles of authors I had read. My vocabulary was limited to what I‟d seen in my books, my
style, in effect, borrowed from Dickens (a favorite) and other less distinguished authors
(namely Babysitter‟s Club writers that need never be made mention of again). Yet this
borrowed style was enough to appease the apathy of teachers who were simply happy that
there were words on a page, and that the pages were free from the usual debris of red Kool-
Aid stains and eraser markings.
It was not until a rude awakening, in the form of a rather frisky red-headed English
teacher, that I truly had to apply myself in writing. More assignments than I had before seen
in a year were weekly dropped in my lap with a smile and a flounce. Junior year I lived as
one already in college…sleeping through or skipping unimportant classes in order to write
papers for the important ones, drinking coffee and learning to love the wee hours of the
morning for the quiet they instilled. Being forced to write detailed papers twice a week, each
on different literary works, my sickly sweet imitation of a style slowly gave way to a
sardonic and sometimes mocking tone that was hardly avoidable considering my sleep-
depraved, thus nearly drunken state. Yet, like a stubborn piece of iron, I was hammered at
from every side until my true mettle became known.
Finally, as I was nearing the end of that chapter in my life, thanking the gods of
coffee and spell-check for allowing me to survive the two most academically rigorous years
of my life, the pieces of my identity suddenly fell into place in my writing. Where before I
had subdued them, sarcastic parentheticals became rather common in my non-formal essays
just as sardonic literary observations seemingly interwove themselves into my formal
writings. By simply reading the first paragraph of any of my essays, a fellow student could
usually name me the author. At the first sour comments about Anna Karenina or Emma
Bovary‟s untimely deaths (as they were entirely too long about the business in my opinion),
or my first sentence of praise for Flaubert‟s realism, a finger would lift to point at me in
either accusation or agreement. Either way I was content. I had found my voice…and now,
despite the all-too-familiar taste of toes on the tongue, I‟ll never quiet it again.
Pamela Spellman—A Narrative or Short Story
Perceptions of Heroism
The smell of ammonia drifts to the nostrils accompanied by the waves of laughter
and overloud conversation that constantly assault one‟s ears in a cafeteria setting. Socially
and behaviorally (mentally?) impaired, though amusedly tolerated; Al, a theatre boy, begins
to lean awkwardly upon a girl at a table. A voice sounds above the din like a clarion bell,
“Al‟s having a seizure!” Time stops. Al slides to the floor as his companions remove
dangerous objects from his path. Tables and chairs are flung aside with abandon to preserve
Al‟s safety. Directions come from every corner. “Don‟t touch him, he‟ll go into shock!”
“Roll him on his side!” “Keep his head from hitting anything!”
Quick to react, one girl steps forward from the crowd and takes control of the
situation. Preventing Al from further injury by grabbing both sides of his head, the brave
young senior moves with the seizing boy, fighting to hold him steady. She does not cry nor
do anything but instruct a teacher to “YES, call an ambulance.” Al thrashes, not breathing,
upon the white speckled linoleum. The teachers come, a large man begins CPR while the
girl remains benevolent, in a matronly position, kneeling and cradling Al‟s head in the
cushion of her palms. Through it all she does not look up, even when spurts of blood from
Al‟s mouth reach her face and eyes, that blood built up within his orifice gurgling and
geysering with each push of the teacher‟s fists into his lungs. She does not turn from her
grisly heroic task, though her arms shake from restraining and then supporting Al‟s head, as
she calmly reassures others that it will be all right. After seeing Al safely away with the
EMTs, she takes only a few moments to collect herself, then, claiming no credit, continues
on through her day.
The smell of ammonia drifts to my nostrils accompanied by the waves of laughter
and overloud conversation that constantly assault my ears in the cafeteria setting. Al, our
clique‟s socially and behaviorally impaired, though amusedly tolerated, companion begins
to lean awkwardly toward a girl at my table, his face turned away. Readying myself to
deliver an admonishment for his strange behavior, my lips turn downward in a frown. I feel
it is my duty to be the motherly figure towards Al since he is often influenced to do
inappropriate things (such as writing KKK on his jeans at the urging of others, not
understanding what it represented). Before I can utter my condescending, motherly remark,
a voice sounds above the din, like a clarion bell, “Al‟s having a seizure!” Time stops. Al
slides to the floor as my friends fling aside tables and chairs with abandon to preserve Al‟s
safety. Directions come from every corner. “Don‟t touch him, he‟ll go into shock!” “Roll
him on his side!” “Keep his head from hitting anything!”
I have absolutely no idea what to do. The third order seeming the only reasonable
one, I grab Al‟s head on either side by his ears and attempt to hold him still, all the while
slightly disgusted by the sight of his purpling face. His mouth is contorted into a Halloween
mask‟s scream, his hands rigid in claws. The sight of his white chapped lips and emerging
drool contrasting against the splotched bruise-colored canvas of his face causes hot bile to
rise in my throat. My arms shake with the effort of holding him during his convulsions, and I
tell (myself) everyone that he is going to be okay, and to get help.
Help comes in the form of a bulky science teacher who begins to pump Al‟s chest. It
is a curious thing, but our science department is rather bulky, they having been recruited to
coach one sport or another. Even more deplorable than this practice is the fact that I actually
think this while Al‟s blood is coming out of his mouth in spurts, rhythmically correlating to
the pumping of his chest. He spits blood in my eye. It stings slightly. I have to blink.
The seizure subsides, and all is still. Slowly I slide my blood slickened hands out
from between the cold floor and Al‟s fevered head. His eyes pop open for an instant, wild-
eyed and panicky, like an animal‟s until they rest on me, the lone familiar face in the crowd.
And out of my mouth come the words, “It‟s okay Al, you just get to lie down for a while,
you get to rest here,” stated in that patronizingly mothering tone. Finally I tear my gaze from
Al‟s prone figure to see— no one. The sterile walls of the cafeteria stare back at me.
Feeling, not heroic, but disgusting, my first thought is to cleanse myself. Running to
the bathroom, the antiseptic soap and hygienic water distill my memory. Normally I faint at
the sight of blood, funny, but that had occurred to me too during Al‟s seizure. I continue on
to Chemistry class.
Sitting there taking down electron arrangements, it perversely occurs to me that I
could use this episode as a topic for my personal essay, after all, aren‟t personal traumas the
common fodder for moving essays? A friend slaps me on the back, congratulating me on my
“heroism.” Inwardly, a coward contemplates the bulky science teacher.
Pamela Spellman—An Explanatory, Exploratory, or Persuasive
In recent years, terms such as “Global community,” “globalization,” and “global
awareness” have seemed to roll off the tongues of every newscaster, advertiser, and
politician with such ease that the popular phrases have nearly become cliché. With the
Internet now possessing a rather prominent role in life and with communications faster than
ever, it would seem the world‟s rapid progress toward international relations necessitates
such terminology. However, in America, these optimistic clichés possess a seed of
hypocrisy, a false note that clangs discordantly to disturb the practiced cadence of the
telecaster‟s report. It is not that America does not “Think globally,” but rather that, to many
Americans, America is the extent of their terrestrial sphere.
Yet even within the confines of our own country-world, we don‟t shed our
comfortable, self-imposed boundaries. We don‟t see the growing Hispanic and Asian
populations in our midst, viewing them—if we acknowledge them at all—as invaders in our
world. According to Census 2000, 35,305,818 people of Hispanic or Latino origin inhabited
the United States in the year 2000, nearly 13 million more than in 1990. The census revealed
the growth rate among the Hispanic population of the U.S. to be the greatest out of any of
the minorities at a surprising 57.9%, and the growth of America‟s Asian population to be the
second fastest, growing at 48.3% in that single 10year period (U.S. Census Bureau, Table 4).
If the trend of the past decade continues, in two years, the Hispanic population will be the
largest minority in the U.S, with Asians making up a larger portion of our population as
well. Will we then take notice? Or will we still not offer Asian languages in our high
schools, and insist that learning Spanish is merely “beneficial?”
Our ethnocentricity is apparent in our everyday doings, in our ignorance of some
things, and in our ignoring of others. In our school systems, our history books say little of
the rise of Asia or the early African kingdoms. Only one year of world history is required in
most high schools. Robert B. Woyach, writing for the ERIC Digest (Educational Resources
Information Center—a division of the U.S. Department of Education) rather succinctly sums
up the argument supporting world history versus Western-dominated history in secondary
We live in a world no longer dominated by the West. Increased immigration
Asia and Latin America has added new sources of diversity to culture in the
States. To the extent that the study of Western civilization encourages a
ethnocentrism, it may prove dysfunctional in preparing students for life in the
(Woyach, Online) Thus we charitably avoid encumbering our youth with too many
distracting languages and bogging them down with the events of the world. How is it we
claim or expect to “think globally” when we know nothing of the rest of the world?
Where our primary education may have let us down, we might think to regain
knowledge and awareness of the world beyond our borders through the media of today. With
technology as it is, we can receive report immediately of events happening on the opposite
end of the earth. Nevertheless, with all our vaunted technology, we simply don‟t bother. It
is, as I know from personal experience, rather difficult to find world news that spans more
than a 15-minute block out of an hour-long newscast, and world news definitely doesn‟t
occupy any of our precious prime-time viewing which is instead ruled by predictable
sitcoms and drama series. I often must turn to CNN or, even more desperately, to the weak
transmissions of National Public Radio to hear of even the most important of happenings in
other countries. Mainstream viewers are left entirely in the dark and applaud and cement
their ignorance through persistently high ratings. While America watches “Alley McBeal,”
the inauguration of our president is being broadcast prime time in Germany and Spain.
To be a world leader, America must be both a part of the world and aware of it. If we
continue to be idle and wallow in our comparative ignorance, we will soon find we are being
left out of our most beloved cliché. Were the U.S. ever to fall from its current political and
economic power, the global community might soon choose to ignore its reclusive neighbor.
Until we open our blinds and our eyes to the outside world, we will never be able to expand
our horizons. Until we expand our horizons, we shan‟t realize the promise of a true “global
U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. “Population by Race and Hispanic or Latino
Origin for the United States: 1990 and 2000 (PHC-T-1).” Available Online. Last
updated: April 03, 2001 at 02:19:24 PM.
http://blue.census.gov/population/www/cen2000/ phc-t1.html. Table 4. [Accessed
Woyach, Robert B. “World History in the Secondary School Curriculum.” ERIC
Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education. Bloomington, Indiana.
Available Online. Last Updated 1989-09-00 (SIC)
ed%2 Egov%2F&frameid=1&providerid=112&uid=30012423. [Accessed
Pamela Spellman—Response to a Text
In the story of Alice in Wonderland we follow Alice down a rabbit hole into a land
of pure wonder, where the logic of a little girl holds no sway. In Gustave Flaubert‟s
Madame Bovary, we witness exactly the opposite as Emma Bovary, a most romantic
creature, is purposely cast into a harshly realistic world. In either case, a creature is put into
an environment unnatural to her disposition, yet in Flaubert‟s example, Emma shares the
world we inhabit, and thus the message her story brings is much more pertinent. To convey
this message, Flaubert replicates not a world of fantasy, but rather the real world, with all its
joy, sadness, and occasional monotony intact. Then he proceeds to dump an exaggeratedly
sentimental woman, Bovary, with the training, appearance, and expectations of an heiress,
into the common mire and leave her there to flounder in the reality of middle class life as a
farmer‟s daughter. From Madame Bovary‟s reactions within this realistic situation, and
from the novel‟s outcome, a message is rendered concerning romanticism itself, and its
misplacement in a cacophonous and uncomplimentary world.
Lewis Carroll may have created a whole new world for his Alice to explore, but
Flaubert had the harder job. He had to replicate the world that everyone knows, taking time
to explore the very details that make this world real and tangible. Whether it be dust
accumulating on furniture, everyday people plodding through mud to get to work, or
nagging mothers, Flaubert details images and impressions that most overlook, but which
truly constitute reality. Emma tries her best to ignore this reality, but it confronts her
insistently, reminding her daily of all the things she deems inadequacies.
But it was especially at mealtimes that she felt she could bear her life no
that little room on the ground floor with its smoking stove, squeaking door,
walls and damp stone floor. All the bitterness of life seemed to be served up
on her plate, and as the steam rose from the boiled meat, waves of nausea
the depths of her soul. (Flaubert 58) This image and atmosphere of mundane
imperfection is a far cry from what Emma expects after reading the romantic novels she
smuggled in at the convent. From those foppish texts she gathers the impression that ladies
such as she should be “lolling on carriages” or “dreaming on sofas,” or perhaps embracing
some dashing “young man in a short cloak” (Flaubert 32). Yet such is not the reality in
which she lives.
Flaubert adds to his stark images the homey atmospheres and settings of the
provincial towns in which Emma lives, places which by their very simplistic natures are
anathema to a romantic such as Bovary. It is only through Emma‟s depiction of these
villages that they are cast as mundane and drab. Though the image exists of the small and
backward town with its town gossips and town idiot, it can be seen that it is simply a town,
one in which a person can be content—that is, if she is not the always-unfulfilled Emma
Bovary. Thus the setting and the stereotypical characters add to the realistic atmosphere that
Into the midst of this hodgepodge of unflattering images and commonalties, Flaubert
then tosses Emma and Charles. To Emma, Charles is representative of everything dull and
gross in the world and Emma “resented his steadfast calm, his serene dullness…” (Flaubert
35). Charles serves as the microcosm of the reality Emma abhors, and is an integral part of
the atmosphere Emma is forced into. Emma, on the other side of the looking glass, is the
ultimate romantic. Having the background and demeanor of one of higher station, she
believes she deserves wealth, passion, and adventure, and is thus disappointed at every turn.
In her delusional preconceptions, Emma believes “Love…ought to come all at once, with
great thunderclaps and flashes of lightning” (Flaubert 87). Not finding this with Charles, she
seeks out lovers to find passion. Beyond this, she borrows her family into debt to find wealth
and thinks up various pastimes and tragedies to occupy her need for adventure, all the while
ignoring the potentially fulfilling circumstances she lives in. She romantically believes that
happiness is something externally attainable, something that is found or given, and therefore
ignores what she already possesses.
It seemed to her that certain parts of the earth must produce happiness like a plant
indigenous to that soil and unable to flourish anywhere else. If only she could lean
over the balcony of a Swiss chalet, or enclose her melancholy in a Scottish cottage,
with a husband wearing a long black velvet cloak, a sugar-loaf hat and fancy cuffs!
(Flaubert 35) Emma surrounds herself with opulence and lovers at the expense of her
family‟s credit and honor, and still dreams of a better life, completely discounting her
current one. It is this very refusal to accept and face reality that leads to her downfall, and
Flaubert‟s true warning.
As is always the case, one cannot escape reality forever, and because of her refusal to
face reality, Emma ignores her accruing debt and eventually impoverishes her family. She
neglects her only child, and is abandoned by her lovers. Ultimately, Emma is driven to
suicide after stooping to the lowest point possible, virtually to prostitution, to deal with her
problems, financial and otherwise. Yet even in suicide, she cannot obtain the romantic end
she desires, but instead weathers a lengthy, painful, and ugly death.
Through the plight of Lewis Carroll‟s Alice, we learn to appreciate reality. Yet from
the downfall of the romantic Madame Bovary—while within the very reality and dimension
in which we live—we can deduce a lesson Flaubert himself learned the hard way. As
Flaubert realized in becoming the realist he was renowned to be in his later years, the
ultimate romantic has no place in a realistic society, and being such a romantic, Bovary is
doomed to unhappiness. So, just like the symbolic blind man who reappears at the moment
of her death, Emma progresses through life, and eventually dies, blind to the real beauty
around and within her because of her romantic notions. Even in the end she searches
externally for the source of her unhappiness.
But what was making her so unhappy? Where was the extraordinary catastrophe
that had wrecked her life? She raised her head and looked around, as though trying
to find the cause of her suffering. (Flaubert 149) Thus without ever realizing the
actual joys of motherhood, marriage, or life, Madame Bovary, convulsing, gurgles her last
life‟s breath; a most ignoble, and unromantic, end.
Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Trans: Lowell Bair. New York: Bantam Books, 1972.
2001 Scoring Guide for Portfolios
A portfolio consists of four equally important pieces of prose writing. Each portfolio
is read holistically by at least two English instructors; each gives a single comprehensive
score on a six-point scale (“6” is high; “1” is low). What follows are two lists: one highlights
characteristics of effective portfolios; the other offers a more specific scoring scale used by
readers. In determining a single score, readers assess the quality of a portfolio as a whole
and do not average the four pieces.
Characteristics of Effective Portfolios
The following list, in no particular order, represents some of the features of effective
student writing that were most often mentioned during the portfolio committee meetings:
. • Develops pieces fully and substantially.
. • Uses language imaginatively and effectively.
. • Shows when appropriate by creating scenes, using dialogue and interior
monologue when appropriate.
. • Supports assertions and generalizations with evidence, examples, and details.
. • Recognizes complexities in issues and positions.
. • Explores larger social or cultural aspects.
. • Demonstrates an awareness of audience.
. • Writes with purpose, consistency, and focus.
. • Engages readers: pieces are at least occasionally moving or powerful.
. • Demonstrates awareness of global/local organization appropriate for the
2001 Scoring Scale
Your portfolio will be scored by readers using the following scale:
Upper Range Portfolios
6 range: Excellent portfolios. These portfolios‟ many significant strengths outweigh
their weaknesses. Excellent portfolios encompass the characteristics of very good (5-range)
portfolios but also display other strengths. They convincingly demonstrate the writer‟s
ability to handle varied writing tasks successfully, and the writing is substantially developed,
often moving beyond the predictable and clichéd in approach, style, or subject matter.
5 range: Very Good portfolios. These portfolios‟ strengths clearly outweigh their
weaknesses. Very good portfolios show an awareness of audience, and show substantial
development of ideas often by integrating evidence, examples, and details to support
assertions and generalizations. Very good portfolios successfully demonstrate the writer‟s
ability to handle varied writing tasks.
Middle Range Portfolios
4 range: Good portfolios. These portfolios‟ strengths outweigh their weaknesses.
Good portfolios articulate a purpose and provide moments of sustained exploration of a
question through the use of evidence. Compared to competent portfolios (3-range), good
portfolios (4-range) demonstrate more awareness of global/local organization appropriate for
the writing task and more consistent evidence of the writer‟s ability to handle varied writing
3 range: Competent portfolios. These portfolios‟ strengths and weaknesses are
about evenly balanced. Competent portfolios demonstrate some awareness of global/local
organization appropriate for the writing task. Evidence of the writer‟s ability to handle
varied writing tasks is uneven. Some pieces may be too brief, underdeveloped, general or
predictable, but the language use is generally competent. Competent portfolios (3-range),
unlike lower range portfolios, show some awareness of audience.
Lower Range Portfolios
2 range: Fair portfolios. These portfolios‟ weaknesses outweigh their strengths.
There is little evidence of the writer‟s ability to handle varied writing tasks successfully.
Fair portfolios are usually thin in substance and undistinguished in style although they may
be clear and error free.
1 range: Poor portfolios. These portfolios‟ many weaknesses clearly outweigh their
strengths. Poor portfolios may lack development and/or evidence of effective global and
local organization. Poor portfolios may have substantial grammatical errors that impede
reading. Focus may be unstated and/or unclear.
Guidelines for Using Non-Sexist Language
Language not only reflects the world around us but also conditions or shapes people‟s
thoughts and attitudes. In other words, when we write or speak, we‟re actually doing things
to our audience— pleasing them, amusing them, informing them, or perhaps hurting them—
not simply expressing our thoughts. The fact that words can harm readers demands that we,
as writers, be responsible for what we say and how we say things. Realizing this, most of us
have already rid our vocabularies of offensive language that labels people on the basis of
race, ethnic origin, and sexual orientation— words we know are painful. But our language
still contains conventions that in more subtle ways can be as hurtful as those obviously
This is particularly true in the area of gender, where we can do harm without even realizing
it. For instance, if we use the pronouns he, his, or him to stand for both men and women, if
we use man to stand for all human beings, or if we label people as mailmen or chairmen
regardless of their gender, we are making an unfair and harmful distinction. By not being
aware that even seemingly insignificant parts of our language like the use of pronouns have
social implications, we trivialize and make irrelevant the existence and contributions of half
of humanity. In an age when roles are changing rapidly, when women are becoming doctors,
scientists, farmers, and athletes, and when men work as elementary school teachers, nurses,
and secretaries, we need to make sure that we neither intentionally nor unintentionally
exclude anyone with our language. Eliminating sexist language may not eliminate biased
conduct, but it can create greater possibilities for women and men to share equally active
and caring roles in our society.
Thus we consider it inappropriate to use sexist language in papers written for composition
classes. In this policy, the English Department is following the guidelines used in all Miami
University publications, as well as in professional journals in most academic fields.
Organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of English, and the Modern
Language Association have required the use of non-sexist language in their publications for
more than a decade.
Here are some ways you can avoid accidentally transmitting sexually-biased
messages along with the messages you mean to send.
I. Avoid the pronoun problem by using plurals in sentences.
Give each student his paper Give students their papers
as soon as he asks for it. as soon as they ask for them.
Anyone who wants to eat dinner All who want to eat dinner
should wash his hands. should wash their hands.
II. Eliminate words which cause unnecessary gender problems.
A nurse must take care of her patients. A nurse must take care of patients.
Every person has a right to ask his question and to voice his opinion
III. Use inclusive nouns.
businessman, fireman mailman
Every person has a right to ask questions and voice opinions.
humanity, human beings, people, humankind
coordinator, moderator, presiding officer, head, chair, chairperson
business executive, fire fighter, mail carrier
IV. Use alternatives to phrases which demean or stereotype women.
lady lawyer, woman doctor lawyer, doctor
career girl, lady professional, woman
authoress, poetess author, poet
Have your mother send cookies Have your parents send cookies
the field for the field trip. for the field trip.
While lunch was delayed, the While lunch was delayed, the women
ladies chattered about last night‟s talked about last night‟s meeting.
Advice from Portfolio Scorers
Each year, portfolio readers at Miami read hundreds of portfolios. And each year at
the end of the scoring sessions, we ask those readers to evaluate their responses to the
portfolios they have read and to offer advice to students who are compiling portfolios in
hopes of receiving credit from Miami University. What follows here is a summary of the
evaluators‟ remarks and thoughts from the last two years.
Evaluators this year follow previous evaluators in indicating that a clear aim and
sense of audience are the two most important features of a successful portfolio. In fact, the
majority of remarks from instructors this year emphasize that while students need to show
mature and insightful thinking and writing, they should also present themselves naturally,
not artificially. Evaluators suggest that students should not be afraid to use “I,” and that
“their own voice(s) and opinions should not be drowned by research.” We have
recommended in the past, and we continue to encourage you to “write as yourself,” not as
the student you think college professors want you to be. We look for evidence that you think
about how you fit into the world, about how issues you write about relate to your personal
situations (social, racial, gendered, economic, regional, religious, etc.).
Instructors suggest repeatedly:
“Consider your audience. We‟re real people who can see through
stereotypical and clichéd arguments. We appreciate critical thinking and self-
awareness in each piece, not just description.”
Raters are interested in what you think and see and how you see those things in relation to
broader issues and concerns. Evaluators tell students to “think about how the pieces you
write connect, and talk about them as a whole, not just as random pieces.” Also, “think
seriously about ambiguities, feelings, and problems. Revise, rewrite and show that you are
thinking about your audience.”
The readers at Miami are diverse in age, teaching experience, interests, and tastes.
While we range from experienced graduate students to tenured professors, we are all
interested in students and spend quite a bit of time reading and evaluating college writing.
When we score the portfolios submitted to us, we develop a set criteria that describes the
qualities we value in writing (See Scoring Guide). Before completing your portfolio, you
should spend time reading your work with the scoring criteria in mind. While we make
changes from year to year, the major criteria remain the same, and you should be familiar
Specific Suggestions from Portfolio Scorers
While you should keep audience and aim in mind as you develop your portfolio, you will
benefit as well from more specific advice and suggestions our raters offer below.
1. 1. The importance of the reflective letter: The most common pieces of advice our
raters suggest concern the reflective letter. This initial piece is obviously an important part
of the portfolio, much more that just a basic, impersonal cover letter. Part of what we mean
when we say “reflective” is that we want you to situate yourself for your readers—in terms
of how you perceive your own writing, and, most importantly, why you perceive it the way
you do. One rater insists, “Give much more attention to the reflective letter. It should be
REFLECTIVE (many were not) and interesting,” and “go beyond simple summary of what
is in the collection. Reflect on how the pieces reveal something about you as a writer and
how they are connected.” The reflective letter sets the tone for the whole portfolio and
creates a first and lasting impression. Think about what reflection involves—not just
including details about who you are and how you write but also about how and why your
background and environment have affected what you write. Many successful letters strike a
balance between confidence and humility; many show awareness of strengths and
limitations, as well as awareness that writing has consequences (beyond getting credit for
English at Miami).
2. 2. Use the full 12-page allotment: We strongly urge you to take full advantage of
the 12-page limit and develop your pieces fully. All raters notice whether or not a student‟s
portfolio has enough “substance.” With this in mind, we ask that students use the page limit
and make it work. Portfolios that are five or six pages long are not fully developed, and do
not demonstrate fully your talent as a writer. Longer portfolios offer analysis and discuss
the complexity of issues. Brief portfolios rarely get a high score because they can‟t fully
develop, support, and sustain a writer‟s position.
3. 3. Develop with specific detail: Use many details, examples, and illustrations to
develop and explain your points. Instructors prefer concreteness to vagueness and showing
to telling. When appropriate, use dialogue and narrative examples and scenes to help
develop your work. As one rater suggests, “Look at a lot of examples in The Best of Miami
University’s Portfolios and try to figure out why they are good pieces. Usually, it‟s not
because of the topic but because of how the writer develops the topic.”
4. 4. Content and style should suit audience and aim: Be aware of “big issue” topics
and make sure you can discuss them in a way that is focused and thoughtful. A reader is less
likely to be enthusiastic about the 26th paper on abortion or Hamlet unless it has a fresh
angle. Also, when using outside sources, work from your own viewpoint instead of simply
retelling other peoples‟ ideas. If you use outside sources, be sure to include a Works Cited
page, so readers know that you know how to give appropriate credit to other writers when
you use their ideas.
1. 5. Be creative: Don‟t be afraid to experiment. Include pieces in a variety of styles if
possible. Raters say, “forget formulas” emphasizing that “a good five-paragraph theme has
no greater chance than a good paper with any other structure... Life is too short to cram into
five paragraphs!” Several raters have mentioned that they want a writer to “take chances, use
humor—show different sides of yourself! Take time to ask yourself: „How can I make this
more interesting? More engaging?‟ and then take time to revise. No one wants to be bored.”
If you do decide to be creative and take some risks with your writing, it would be a good
idea to explain such aspects of your writing in your cover letter.
2. 6. Revise your portfolio carefully: Most professional writers see revision as going
well beyond changing words and correcting grammar. Give yourself plenty of time to spend
reading and rereading your work, thinking of ways to offer fresher examples and more
compelling arguments. Revising also means considering your audience: “Go over your
pieces and „re-see‟ them for this audience and situation.”
3. 7. Appearance and correctness count: Of course content is most important, but
after taking the time to do the writing, you need to spend time polishing and correcting the
work. Use both spell check and get a trusted person to proofread. Give pieces titles, number
pages, and use a legible, plain typeface or font (we recommend Times New Roman). Full
portfolios in italics or long narrow fonts are difficult to read, and anything smaller than 10
pt. is also extremely hard to read. Remember: use a readable point size: 12 pt. (depending on
the font) is best. Double-spacing is standard, as are one-inch margins on all sides of the
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I send one single paper that fulfills the requirements for a narrative or story, an
explanatory/exploratory/persuasive essay and a response to a text?
Yes. Some teachers assign writing to students that is “multi-genre” and that fulfills many of
the expectations we have of the separate pieces we ask you to submit. If you have such a
“multi-genre” paper, it must be substantial enough to fulfill all the content requirements for
If you choose to submit a multi-genre paper in place of separate papers, we ask the
. • Explain your choice in your reflective letter. Tell us what specific required
genres your paper fulfills, making sure to follow the instructions for the letter (found in the
brochure) asking you to reflect critically on your choices for the portfolio as well as on the
purpose and audience for your multi-genre paper, as you would for any other papers you
submit in your portfolio.
. • Make certain to follow appropriate in-text and bibliographic procedures for
all the papers in your portfolio in which you use others‟ ideas or refer to outside sources.
. • Be sure to follow the “essential instructions” listed in the brochure for both
portfolios (such as including drafts for both portfolios, removing all identifying information,
staying within page number limits, writing your social security number on each page, etc).
What exactly does the brochure instruction to “properly document” sources mean?
Do bibliographic pages count in my page number limit?
To properly document your use of someone else‟s words or ideas, you must both cite your
source in your paper, at the end of each quotation or paraphrase what you take from a
source, and provide full bibliographic documentation on a separate page at the end of each
paper in which you use other sources. To be consistent in your documentation, you will need
to follow one specific citation style—such as MLA, APA, or Chicago—throughout each
paper. English departments typically use MLA style, but you can use other styles, as long as
you do so consistently. Requirements for each of the styles listed above can be found
online, or in individual style manuals or general writing manuals (such as Diana Hacker‟s A
Pocket Style Manual) available in most retail bookstores or college textbook stores.
Bibliographic pages do NOT count in the 12-page limit for the portfolio. So if your portfolio
ends up being 14 or 15 pages long, for example, because of your end-page documentation,
but the actual text of the papers you submit totals 12 pages or less, then your portfolio falls
within the maximum page limit. Do not leave out the bibliographic pages because they put
your portfolio over 12 pages.
What’s the difference between a “traditional” reflective letter and a “creative” one?
A “traditional” reflective letter more-or-less takes the form of a personal letter of
introduction, which is structured as a typical formal letter: it opens with a greeting; moves to
a brief introduction of the writer and his or her talents; offers reflective information about
each of the works included
(i.e. it provides a context for each work and explains why you included it in the portfolio);
and thencloses with some concluding remarks about the writer or the portfolio. For many
students, the traditional reflective letter form is a good choice.
However, some writers choose to open up this traditional kind of letter to include
conventions from other writing genres. For example, one writer might choose to submit a
letter that includes dialogue, creates a detailed scene, or incorporates figurative language as
a means of introduction or reflection. Another writer might choose to cite outside sources—
like interesting quotes from plays, poems, or works of fiction, or your own writing —to
fulfill the requirements for the reflective letter. That is, the genre of reflective letter writing
is able to accommodate a variety of creative options that you can select from or combine.
Since the letter is the first piece of writing included in the portfolio, you will do well to
consider all of the options available to you—and try drafting out various ones to see how
they might look to and be received by the portfolio audience—as you set out to write your
Whether you select the traditional or creative letter, or try a combination of both, be sure
you maintain a focus on your writing.
How important are titles to the portfolio contents?
Titles are often a very difficult and a sometimes overlooked part of the composing process.
But the title is the first introduction to a piece of writing that readers see, and as such it is an
important element of the work itself. Spend some time thinking about how you will title the
three works in your portfolio that require titles (all but the reflective letter). For each title
you create, ask yourself: Will this title intrigue my readers? Does it reflect what I have
written in my paper? If I saw this title on a paper, would I be likely to read the rest of the
paper based on the title alone? You could also get feedback from other people, asking them
the same kinds of questions. Following this procedure can help you determine if you have
chosen an interesting title that will effectively prepare the audience for reading your text.
Does all of the writing included in my portfolio have to be related in some way?
Another way to put this question is, do I need a “theme” that connects all four of my works?
And the answer to that question is no. You do not have to feel “locked in” to selecting or
creating pieces that are all somehow “related” to each other. On the other hand, your
reflective letter is meant to explain to your readers how you chose the individual pieces you
included in the portfolio, and why they work well together to showcase your writing
strengths and give your portfolio varied depth and balance. That is, the most successful
portfolios demonstrate an ability to write effectively in different genres of writing. The
portfolio readers will be looking for your ability to compose in a variety of ways: reflection
on specific texts you have written; narration of a personal experience or short story writing;
exploration, explanation, and/or persuasion; and response to other texts.
Do all 4 pieces in my portfolio have to be of equal length?
The most important thing to remember is to use the full 12-page limit and develop your
thoughts in each piece as fully as possible. But don‟t try to force each paper you include to
be of equal length. Chances are that your reflective letter will only be 1-2 pages in length,
while your explanatory/exploratory/persuasive essay or your response to a text will likely be
much longer, maybe even 5 or 6 full pages. One of your pieces may be 3 1/4 pages, while
another may be 4 1/2; instead of being credited in that case for 4 pages and 5 pages
respectively—which might put you over the limit—we would count the fractional pages
together as one page, which would either give you one more page to work with, or maybe
keep you within the 12-page limit. In other words, use the 12 pages in a way that helps you
produce 4 pieces each with which you are happy and that, taken together, will showcase
your writing abilities most effectively. Your portfolio readers will be reading and evaluating
your portfolio as a whole.
2002 Portfolio Information
A portfolio consists of a completed information form together with the following four
equally important pieces of prose writing. Poetry may be included as part of any piece, but
since this is a prose portfolio, poetry should not comprise an entire piece. Miami‟s
Department of English follows the NCTE Guidelines for Nonsexist Use of Language and
any sources used must be properly documented with in-text and end page citation. Examples
and explanation of both the use of nonsexist language and proper documentation can be
found on Miami English Department‟s Portfolio Website. http://www.muohio.edu/portfolio/
1. AReflective Letter
The reflective letter, addressed to Miami University writing teachers, sets the tone for the
portfolio by introducing both the writer and the individual pieces. Readers are not
expecting a narrative of your experiences and growth as a writer but, rather, evidence of
the critical reflection used in assembling and producing the portfolio. To that end, most
useful letters explicitly introduce the pieces and explain the purpose and audience for
each piece. Both creative and more traditional letters of introduction are acceptable.
2. A Narrative or Short Story
This piece can be based on personal experience as a non-fiction narrative or can be a short
work of fiction. Its aim is to communicate the significance of an experience or event
through description, dialogue, and/or narration. Put another way, successful pieces show
rather than tell. The writing can be personal and informal. This narrative or short story
should have a title.
3. An Explanatory, Exploratory, or Persuasive Essay
Generally speaking, essays in this category should be focused, informative treatments of
specific subjects. This essay should provide much more than convincing examples of
supporting data; it should examine multiple points of view and show strong evidence of
critical thinking, awareness of audience, and attention to social context. If secondary
sources are used, they must be documented correctly. You may find that you‟ve written
an essay that fits this category for a class other than English. This explanatory,
exploratory, or persuasive essay should have a title.
4. A Response to a Text
This essay should respond to a written text (short story, novel, poem, play, or essay) or a
cultural text (film, music, or visual art) produced by professionals, classmates, or
yourself. The response should interpret or evaluate all or part of a text. Possible
approaches include analyzing textual elements, explaining the text‟s significance,
comparing the text to other texts, relating the text to personal experience and /or
connecting it to larger social or cultural contexts. Use support from the text to develop
ideas and strengthen focus without overshadowing your own response or giving extensive
summaries. If secondary sources are used, they must be documented correctly. (If the
print text is not common, a copy of it should be included with your portfolio.) This
response to a text should have a title.
Papers written in class or out of school, including college application essays, are acceptable.
Papers should be revised after being returned by a teacher.
Arrange your portfolio in this order:
. • completed information form
. • reflective letter
. • narrative or short story
. • explanatory, exploratory, or persuasive essay
. • response to a text
For any one piece of writing (not all four pieces), include and label all draft material and
paperclip it to the end of the appropriate essay. Portfolios lacking draft material will not be
(Notecards will not be accepted.)
Your name, hometown, school, and teacher‟s name cannot appear anywhere in any of the
portfolio pieces (including your reflective letter), and all your writing must be free of
teacher‟s marks, grades, and comments. This does not include your draft materials.
Do not staple or bind your portfolio. Paper clips are okay.
Your completed portfolio, not counting works cited pages and draft material, should not
exceed 12 typed, double-spaced full pages (8.5”x11”) using a 12-point font. If your four
pieces total more than 12 pages, your portfolio will not be read. The strongest portfolios tend
to range in length from 10 to 12 pages.
All materials must be mailed on or before June 3, 2002, by your supervising teacher— the
teacher most familiar with the pieces in your portfolio. This teacher must sign the Portfolio
Information Form documenting that all writing in the portfolio is your own. You also sign
The portfolio submission fee is $28, more if you earn credit, and you will receive a $10 gift
certificate from an Oxford area bookstore. You will be billed later so do not send payment
with your portfolio. Results will be mailed at the end of June. Results will not be given over
Portfolios must be postmarked by June 3, 2002, and sent to:
Portfolio Writing Program
Department of English
Oxford, OH 45056
Portfolio Information Form
To the student: Complete the first half of this form (type or print) and give it to your
supervising teacher along with your portfolio and a stamped 10x13 envelope addressed to:
Portfolio Writing Program, Department of English, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056.
Do not send payment.
__________________ HOME PHONE(___)_______________________EMAIL:
Will you be (check one):
. ❑ an entering first-year student ❑ a transfer student
. ❑ an upper-division Miami student ❑ other
At what campus will you enroll:
❑ Hamilton ❑ Middletown ❑ Oxford
All the writing included in the attached portfolio is my own, and I grant Miami
University permission to publish all or part of its contents.
To the Teacher: If you believe this portfolio contains only the student‟s own work, please
complete this form, insert it and the portfolio into the envelope provided by the student, and
mail it by June 3, 2002. Thank you!
TEACHER‟S HOME ADDRESS
NAME OF HIGH SCHOOL:
To the best of my knowledge, the attached portfolio has been written by this student.
SIGNATURE OF TEACHER
Supervising Teachers 2001
Kristen C. Adams Dorinda Adelman Donald D. Airhart Shelly Allison-Grubb Leslie J.
Altman David T. Anderson Robert A. Archibald Elizabeth R. Armentrout Jacquelyn R.
Baker Janet T. Baker Brittany Ballard Amy McBride Barker Donald K. Barnes Linda
Barrington Pauline M. Beattie Anne L. Bennington Mrs. Kathleen A. Berwanger Patricia A.
Blatt Kimberly M. Boldon Janet C. Bouldin Peggy Bowers Cynthia K. Briggs Mrs. Linda L.
Brown Tom Brown Linda K. Bruns Pamela Bryan Lynore Buck Erin M. Burke John Calcei
Scott Callaghan Thomas Cambisios Karen Cameron Nancy A. Canfield Susan Carley Mrs.
Sarah L. Caserta Mrs. Laurel Chambers Daniel S. Cohen Frank A. Cole Mrs. Stephanie
Collier Robert H. Collins Ramapo High School Walnut Hills High School Jackson High
School McComb High School Hawken School Hinsdale South High School Simsbury High
School Middletown High School Oak Hills High School Oak Hills High School Mount
Notre Dame High School Kirkwood High School Sylvania Northview High School
Wauwatosa East High School Chartiers Valley High School Bishop Fenwick High School
Loveland High School Centerville High School Thomas S. Wootton High School Neuqua
Valley High School Graham High School Wyoming High School Vandalia Butler High
School Van Wert High School Shawnee High School Vermilion High School Lake Catholic
High School Saint Xavier High School Aurora High School Wadsworth High School
Maumee Valley Country Day School Maumee High School Olentangy High School
Mundelein High School St. Joseph Central Catholic HS McAuley High School Deefield
High School Upper Arlington High School Newton High School St. Cecilia Academy
Franklin Lakes, NJ Cincinnati, OH Massillon, OH McComb, OH Gates Mills, OH Darien,
IL Simsbury, CT Middletown, OH Cincinnati, OH Cincinnati, OH Cincinnati, OH
Kirkwood, MO Sylvania, OH Wauwatosa, WI Bridgeville, PA Middletown, OH Loveland,
OH Centerville, OH Rockville, MD Naperville, IL Saint Paris, OH Cincinnati, OH
Vandalia, OH Van Wert, OH Lima, OH Vermilion, OH Mentor, OH Louisville, KY Aurora,
OH Wadsworth, OH Toledo, OH Maumee, OH Lewis Center, OH Mundelein, IL Bowling
Green, OH Cincinnati, OH Deerfield, IL Upper Arlington, OH Pleasant Hill, OH Nashville,
Valerie Combs Archbishop McNicholas High School Cincinnati, OH
Steven M. Connor Lakewood High School Hebron, OH
Jane Cook Beavercreek High School Beavercreek, OH
Jaimie Crawford Pine Crest School Fort Lauderdale, FL
J. Clinton Crumley Providence Day School Charlotte, NC
Michael L. Curtin Fenwick High School Oak Park, IL
Mary B. Curtiss Trumbull High School Trumbull, CT
Mrs. Michelle Day Princeton High School Cincinnati, OH
Michael J. Dehring St. Xavier High School Cincinnati, OH
Carl J. Demarkowski St. John‟s Jesuit High School Toledo, OH
Heidi Demetrio Loyola Academy Wilmette, IL
Cynthia deMontigny Rochester Adams High School Rochester Hills, MI
Shayne Dickman Dublin Coffman High School Dublin, OH
Thomas J. Diehl West Jefferson High School West Jefferson, OH
Jennifer M. Donohue Gahanna Lincoln High School Gahanna, OH
James W. Downie St. Xavier High School Cincinnati, OH
Mrs. Patricia L. Drake Centerville High School Centerville, OH
Carol T. Dressman Mother of Mercy High School Cincinnati, OH
Nancy M. Dunker Hudson High School Hudson, OH
Susan Elberty Hickory High School Hermitage, PA
Jeannette C. Faber Fairfield High School Fairfield, CT
Cindy Fahrenkrug Appleton North High School Appleton, WI
Sr. Rose Falorio, SND Regina High School South Euclid, OH
Steven D. Fischer Lake Park High School Roselle, IL
Janet Fish Thomas Worthington High School Worthington, OH
Leslie D. Fouser Revere High School Richfield, OH
Mark Francioli Benedictine High School Cleveland, OH
Mrs. Jean Ann Fries Lehman Catholic High School Sidney, OH
Karen Fulop Valley Forge High School Parma Heights, OH
Carole G. Fultz The Summit Country Day School Cincinnati, OH
Barry Gadlin John Hersey High School Arlington Heights, IL
Ellen Geisler Mentor High School Mentor, OH
Elizabeth A. Glenn Westerville North High School Westerville, OH
Susan Gooch Pike High School Indianapolis, IN
Thomas W. Graler Sycamore High School Cincinnati, OH
Dr. Joy M. Gray Kenston High School Chagrin Falls, OH
Donna L. Griffin Union Local High School Belmont, OH
Kim Group Beavercreek High School Beavercreek, OH
Jack C. Guy Columbus School for Girls Columbus, OH
W. Glen Hackett Fox Chapel Area High School Pittsburgh, PA
Judith Hackman Stow-Munroe Falls High School Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Julie R. Hagerty Mount Notre Dame High School Cincinnati, OH
John Haile Western Reserve Academy Hudson, OH
Jean Hajek St. Joseph‟s Academy Saint Louis, MO
Peg Hamilton Hilton Head Preparatory School Hilton Head, SC
Ms. D. J. Hammond Madeira High School Cincinnati, OH
Beth M. Harding Princeton High School Cincinnati, OH
Susan Goodwin Hardman Roane County High School Spencer, WV
Lynne Harman Marquette High School Chesterfield, MO
Diane J. Harris York Community High School Elmhurst, IL
Todd S. Hawley North Atlanta High School Atlanta, GA
John (Jack) S. Hay Boardman High School Boardman, OH
Linda Cassiere Heile McAuley High School Cincinnati, OH
James L. Hemmert Carroll High School Dayton, OH
Marilyn R. Herring Ursuline Academy Cincinnati, OH
Betsy Hickman Unionville High School Kennett Square, PA
Linda P. Hoffman Gahanna Lincoln High School Gahanna, OH
Richard A. Holt Niskayuna High School Niskayuna, NY
Elizabeth Homon St. Francis DeSales High School Columbus, OH
Megan R. Horncastle Lakota West High School West Chester, OH
Melanie M. Huber Crestview High School Ashland, OH
Barbara A. Jones Hughes Center High School Cincinnati, OH
Samantha A. Jones Saint Ursula Academy Cincinnati, OH
James L. Jordy University School Hunting Valley, OH
Dr. Linda A. Karazim Springfield High School Holland, OH
Dale R. Kelley Orange High School Pepper Pike, OH
James Patrick Kelly The Summit Country Day School Cincinnati, OH
Stephanie L. Kight Athens High School The Plains, OH
Judith D. Klefas Sycamore High School Cincinnati, OH
Dianne S. Klein Bowling Green High School Bowling Green, OH
Donald T. Klever Maumee High School Maumee, OH
Kathleen H. Knox Elyria Catholic High School Elyria, OH
Philip Kokofacto University School Hunting Valley, OH
Sarah McClure Kolk Hope College Holland, MI
Mary Anne Kovacs Trinity High School Garfield Heights, OH
David A. Lackey Strongsville Senior High School Strongsville, OH
Deanna Lancaster Talawanda High School Oxford, OH
James R. Langlas Wheaton North High School Wheaton, IL
Dr. Veronica Leahy Columbus School for Girls Columbus, OH
Carol A. Lenk Medina Senior High School Medina, OH
Judith S. Libby North Central High School Indianapolis, IN
Eric E. Linder Cranbrook Kingswood High School Bloomfield Hills, MI
Therese D. Lustic Hudson High School Hudson, OH
Brenda Mahaney Tippecanoe High School Tipp City, OH
Rich Majerus Sycamore High School Sycamore, IL
Lawrence W. Malito Marist High School Chicago, IL
Deborah L. Mangus Fremont Ross High School Fremont, OH
Jennifer I. Manoukian Sycamore High School Cincinnati, OH
Jason A. Marsicano Maine Township High School South Park Ridge, IL
Pamela A. McCarthy Hoover High School North Canton, OH
Patricia McGonigle Luke M. Powers Catholic High School Flint, MI
Alicia D. McKee Monroeville High School Monroeville, OH
Regina K. Meyer Hilliard Davidson High School Hilliard, OH
David M. Miller Grove City High School Grove City, OH
Mrs. Sheila M. Misselhorn Belleville East High School Belleville, IL
Dona L. Montgomery Gahanna-Lincoln High School Gahanna, OH
Colleen Rowe Morris North Allegheny Senior High School Wexford, PA
Mrs. Mary Muffly Upper St. Clair High School Upper Saint Clair,
Thomas E. Mulhall Brecksville-Broadview Heights HS Broadview Hts, OH
Lisa Mullen Worthington Kilbourne High School Columbus, OH
Betty J. Myers Wayne Trace High School Haviland, OH
Tamara E. Mykel Wichita Collegiate School Wichita, KS
Kathie A. Naab Shawnee High School Lima, OH
Diane Mastro Nard Cardinal Mooney High School Youngstown, OH
Lawrence Needham Lakeland Community College Kirtland, OH
Doris Nell Lebanon High School Lebanon, OH
J. Nelson duPont Manual High School Louisville, KY
Mary B. Nicolini Penn High School Mishawaka, IN
Amy C. Nock Ursuline Academy Cincinnati, OH
Kimberly A. O‟Dell Newark High School Newark, OH
Michael T. O‟Donovan New Trier High School Winnetka, IL
William D. O‟Neal Parkway West High School Ballwin, MO
John P. O‟Toole Solon High School Solon, OH
Cheryl M. Orebaugh The Wellington School Columbus, OH
Richard H. Orndorff William Mason High School Mason, OH
Penelope H. Orr Hawken School Gates Mills, OH
Barbara Osburg Parkway North High School St. Louis, MO
Anne H. Padilla Bowling Green Senior High School Bowling Green, KY
Mr. Chris Pearson Bishop O‟Connell High School Arlington, VA
Kent R. Peightal Cathedral Preparatory School Erie, PA
Duane J. Perspyk Eden Prairie High School Eden Prairie, MN
Edward L. Poe Lawrence Central High School Indianapolis, IN
Ann H. Pollio Ballard High School Louisville, KY
Craig E. Potter Perry Meridian High School Indianapolis, IN
Barbara A. Powell Lebanon High School Lebanon, OH
Mary K. Pratscher St. Francis High School Wheaton, IL
Lynda Primavera Pope John Paul II High School Boca Raton, FL
Anna M. Ptasznik Grosse Pointe South High School Grosse Pointe,
B. Scott Quade Medina Senior High School Medina, OH
Mary Jane Reed Solon High School Solon, OH
Wendy L. Relich Whitefish Bay High School Whitefish Bay,
Luanne F. Richardson St. Vincent-St. Mary High School Akron, OH
Nancy J. Richter Sacret Heart Griffin High School Springfield, IL
Christina Conklin Rode St. Ursula Academy Toledo, OH
Alice Rote Copley High School Copley, OH
Barbara Salate Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School Chardon, OH
Cheryl Salzman Colerain High School Cincinnati, OH
Robert Sauerbrey La Salle High School Cincinnati, OH
Jason D. Scales Daviess County High School Owensboro, KY
Dianne Schanoy Maine Township High School South Park Ridge, IL
Robert C. Schantz Canterbury School Fort Wayne, IN
S. K. Schrotenboer Forest Hills Central High School Grand Rapids,
Jane A. Schwalbach New Trier High School Winnetka, IL
Linda A. Schwegman St. Henry High School Saint Henry, OH
Anna Segreto Community School of Naples Naples, FL
Joseph Serraglio Saint Edward High School Lakewood, OH
Carol L. Sheldon South Central High School Greenwich, OH
Joyce E. Shrimplin Wadsworth Senior High School Wadsworth, OH
Suzie Sime Eden Prairie High School Eden Prairie, MN
Rebecca L. Simpson Edgewood High School Trenton, OH
Elizabeth A. Singleton Carmel High School Carmel, IN
Carolyn S. Smith Madison High School Middletown, OH
Chuck V. Smith Celina High School Celina, OH
Connie S. Smith Sycamore High School Cincinnati, OH
Jaime Smith Lemon-Monroe High School Monroe, OH
Susan J. Smith Bellaire High School Bellaire, OH
Karen L. Snedaker Dublin Coffman High School Dublin, OH
Timothy L. Snook Highland High School Medina, OH
Linda O. Specht Strongsville High School Strongsville, OH
Clare E. Squance Talawanda High School Oxford, OH
Kevin Starr Clarence High School Clarence, NY
Kristen B. Statt Bishop Fenwick High School Middletown, OH
Sr. Mary Alice Stein Carroll High School Dayton, OH
Lynn Stevenson William V. Fisher Catholic High School Lancaster, OH
Carolyn M. [Remeta] St. Clairsville High School St. Clairsville,
Michael Stratton Middletown Senior High School Middletown, OH
Marty Strohmeyer Chaminade College Prep School Saint Louis, MO
Timothy J. Stults Hamilton High School Hamilton, OH
Julie H. Susser Fox Chapel High School Pittsburgh, PA
Larry S. Sweeney Olentangy High School Lewis Center, OH
M. Lynn Taylor Eastmoor Academy High School Columbus, OH
Dennis Thomas Chaminade-Julienne High School Dayton, OH
Lisa R. Thomas Bloomington High School Bloomington, IL
Cherie A. Thompson Hawken School Gates Mills, OH
Janet M. Tillitski-Clark Glen Oak High School Canton, OH
Diane M. Tinucci Lafayette High School Ballwin, MO
Joseph Tomba Lake Catholic High School Mentor, OH
Tiffany Toombs Clear Fork High School Bellville, OH
Helen Trares Archbishop Hoban High School Akron, OH
Cheryl M. Trivisonno Dublin Coffman High School Dublin, OH
Sally S. Vance Worthington-Kilbourne High School Columbus, OH
Kathleen Veith Hudson High School Hudson, OH
J. Michael Wagner Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy Cincinnati, OH
Frances L. Waible Antioch Community High School Antioch, IL
Lisa (Dalessandro) Walker Mayfield High School Mayfield, OH
Susan N. Wallace Chattahoochee High School Alpharetta, GA
Ellie Warning Lincoln-Way Community High School New Lenox, IL
C. Kay Watson Lakota East High School Middletown, OH
Sandra M. Weichert Lawrence Central High School Indianapolis, IN
Eric J. Wentz Highland Park High School Highland Park, IL
David P. Wetta York Community High School Elmhurst, IL
Linda Wheatley London High School London, OH
Richard A. Williams Hubbard High School Hubbard, OH
Allison L. Wischer Wyoming High School Wyoming, OH
Melissa J. Wolfe-Izworksi Sycamore High School Cincinnati, OH