Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Here is an essay from Ruby Bissett, written as an assignment in her Grade 10 English class a few months ago.

My Family

Welcome to the Bissett family. We’re big, loud, and pure Aussie pride. I’m the only Canadian on my mum’s side, but that doesn’t stop my heritage from coming out.

I live in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, with my mum and my cat. We live in an apartment complex off of Commercial Drive, a spunky area in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver. The area is very multicultural, inhabited primarily by Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Canadian families. My mum moved out of her parents’ house in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, when she was 22 to begin traveling around the world, and moved to Vancouver permanently when she learnt she was pregnant with me!

Neither of my parents are Sikh. My father is Christian (his dad was a priest), and while my mother does Kundalini Yoga she doesn’t follow a religion. When she was a child, she went to a Catholic all girls’ school, and my Nana brought my mum and her 9 other siblings up as Catholics, although they were never baptized. These days, the Bissetts aren’t very religious, but we all remember our spirituality and beliefs.

My entire family (on my mum’s side), aside from me, are from Australia. I’ve been to Australia twice, where I visited the twenty-something Bissetts inhabiting Geelong. The central meeting point is my Nana and Papa’s house, which my Pap designed and built himself in his earlier years. My family is a classic Australia family. All our pictures together are at a barbeque (or ‘barbie’), the men usually holding beer cans, and cricket is mandatory at every family gathering.

My father’s side is a touchy and generally unknown subject. I was born as a surprise to my dad, who wasn’t even there when I was born. I never knew this man very well. I’ve had a few encounters with him which weren’t the most pleasurable moments of my life. Nevertheless, I have faith that he will be able to change and I will perhaps be able to have a relationship with him.

My family is very complex but at the same time ridiculously similar. We come from many different worlds but we all have our “biscuit-brain” reputations to be recognized by. Some would say that I’ve had a tough upbringing but I’m grateful for what I’ve got.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Here's an Identity poem in the form of a list of "I am ...." statements, done as an assignment in Grade 11 by Guru Seva Singh:

I am the sailor looking at the horizon
I am the desert at night
I am 3 races
I am 2 countries
I am 1 religion
I am none racism
I am a veg "torta" with everything in it
I am the hand that pounds one's back
I am the hour of the day in which one drinks tea
I am a smile

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

For the Grade 9 alternate version assignment, Siri Parmeshar Singh wrote his version of the short story, "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty. We believe his version is more interesting than the original. See if you agree ...

The long June twilight faded into night. Dublin lay enveloped in darkness but for the dim light of the moon that shone through fleecy clouds, casting a pale light as of approaching dawn over the streets and the dark waters of the Liffey a canal that ran through the city. Around the beleaguered Four Courts the heavy guns roared. Here and there through the city, machine guns and rifles broke the silence of the night, spasmodically, like dogs barking on lone farms. Republicans and Free Staters were waging civil war.

On a rooftop near O'Connell Bridge that ran over the Liffey, a Republican sniper lay and his sighter sat scoping through the dark streets of Dublin ravaged by war. The sniper’s face was the face of a student, thin and ascetic, but his eyes had the cold gleam of the fanatic. His mentor was the one that searched a called the shots he took them he was the killer and his master was the commander no more, and by the matter of the fact his was beginning to become fed up with his stringency. They both had experienced death to a degree that it seemed a blunt felling of grief that came and left in just as long.

The sniper was eating a sandwich hungrily. He had eaten nothing since morning. He had been too excited to eat. His sighter had eaten that morning and looked at him with a look of slight disgust that disturbed the sniper intensely. He finished the sandwich, and, taking a flask of whiskey from his pocket, he took a short drought. Then he returned the flask to his pocket. He paused for a moment, considering whether he should risk a smoke. It was dangerous. The flash might be seen in the darkness, and there were enemies watching. He decided to take the risk.

Placing a cigarette between his lips, he struck a match. But as the flame lit a gun cracked a bullet flashed and the sighter’s brains were displayed across the rear wall in a crimson mess. He inhaled the smoke hurriedly and put out the light. He did not shake or stir his heart beat did not speed and his hands stayed completely still. The sniper may have lost his sighter but again the feeling came and went plus due to the angle of the gory display on the staircase wall he knew exactly where his enemy was sitting. The sniper took another whiff and put out the cigarette. Then he swore softly and crawled away to the left.

Cautiously he raised himself and peered over the parapet. There was a flash and a bullet whizzed over his head. He dropped immediately. He began to load his rifle and take aim but realized that his enemy was in too much cover to be reached he had to move.

He rolled over the roof to a chimney stack in the rear, and slowly drew himself up behind it, until his eyes were level with the top of the parapet. There was nothing to be seen--just the dim outline of the opposite housetop against the blue sky. He could now see his enemy’s right shoulder and there was something about the band on his arm that sent a shot of apprehension through him, but he disregarded it. Back to killing, he would fire upon his arm but he had to ensure that he was dead, back up was the last thing he was interested in at that point.

Just then an armored car came across the bridge and advanced slowly up the street. It stopped on the opposite side of the street, fifty yards ahead. The sniper could hear the dull panting of the motor. His heart beat faster. It was an enemy car. He wanted to fire, but he knew it was useless. His bullets would never pierce the steel that covered the gray monster. Unless of course he could hit the thin layer of metal that covered the fuel can, but how? The fuel can was located on the rear of the tank just above the right tire, he was facing the left side. He did spot a plate of scrap metal four to five inches thick behind the truck but if he didn’t get it just right they would learn of his location and it would all go to waste.

Then round the corner of a side street came an old woman, her head covered by a tattered shawl. She began to talk to the man in the turret of the car. She was pointing to the roof where the sniper lay. An informer.

The turret opened. A man's head and shoulders appeared, looking toward the sniper. He was found now what had seemed like a risk never worth taking had become his only way out. The sniper raised his rifle and fired. But not on the man or the woman, at the scrap of metal. The bullet he fired hit and ricocheted directly into the edge of the fuel tank. Perfect. A shot only the best of the best could perform.

The explosion was an intense but contained burst of flames that shot out of every open window of the tank and sent it flying up. If it weren’t for the given situation the informer may have survived, unfortunately she was in the middle of a war. The men within the tank were surely no more than ash, but it seemed for last seconds of there lives that they had screamed so painfully that it had actually shook although only for a moment, this demented soldier’s calm state.

Suddenly from the opposite roof a shot rang out, the battle had begun and he knew that only one of the two of these men would walk away. The sniper thought the noise would wake the dead. He began to reload his rifle when a bullet whizzed right past his head, he felt the brick shatter and peg the back of his head. He dropped and rolled finding any cover possible. He finished reloading his rifle, he had some real competition.

He found a small pile of bricks by the staircase that he could use for temporary cover. Fortunately his opponent had become quite boasted from all of the close calls causing the sniper to flee from fire and had not bothered to call for back up.

Then he lay still against the bricks, and, closing his eyes, he made an effort to think, to calculate, to center and to kill. The enemy on the opposite roof covered his escape. He must kill that enemy and pure skill was not enough, not here. Then that weird feeling of unease form the armband, why was it familiar. Then he thought of a plan.

Taking off his cap, he placed it over the muzzle of his rifle. Then he pushed the rifle slowly upward over the parapet, until the cap was visible from the opposite side of the street. Almost immediately there was a report, and a bullet pierced the center of the cap. The sniper slanted the rifle forward. The cap clipped down into the street. Then catching the rifle in the middle, the sniper dropped his left hand over the roof and let it hang, lifelessly. After a few moments he let the rifle drop to the street. Then he sank to the roof.

Crawling quickly to his feet, he peered up at the corner of the roof. His ruse had succeeded. The other sniper, seeing the cap and rifle fall, thought that he had killed his man. He was now standing before a row of chimney pots, looking across, with his head clearly silhouetted against the western sky.

The Republican sniper smiled and lifted his revolver above the edge of the parapet. The distance was about fifty yards. He took a steady aim. His hand trembled with discomfort. Pressing his lips together, he took a deep breath through his nostrils and then just before he fired he pulled back shooting far off realizing what the band signified it was his battalions band before he left the army. A terrible feeling formed within his gut. He had by mistake attacked an ally, and he was now aware of his presence un-aware of there alliance and he didn’t have a gun.

Then when the smoke cleared, he peered across and uttered a cry of sudden fear. His enemy had heard the shot and was pointing his rifle right at him. Everything seemed to slow down a second went by and his teeth chattered, he began to gibber to himself, cursing the war, cursing himself, cursing everybody. Another few seconds it seemed although he knew that not even a second had passed. Then he heard a loud crack, a flash and a bullet was spinning at him. Again a few seconds went by and he remembered his brother and his father and all the time he spent with them. Another second and he felt an intense heat within his head, a blinding white light and then nothing just pure, black nothing.

Here is an excerpt from an assignment by Prabhjot Kaur Virk, Grade 9, where she writes an alternate ending to the story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell. She worked on it for weeks, and it's so long, we can only give you a taste. Her version starts after the **************

Rainsford did not smile, “I am still a beast at bay,” he said, in a low hoarse voice, “Get ready General Zaroff.”

The General made one of his deepest bows, “I see,” he said. “Splendid! One of us is to furnish a repast for the hounds, the other will sleep in the excellent bed. On guard Rainsford….”

*************************************************************With those words General Zaroff lunged at Rainsford but Rainsford was ready for the attack. He quickly sidestepped and punched General Zaroff in his stomach. For a moment General Zaroff stood there with the wind blown out of him. He tried to punch Rainsford but Rainsford stopped the punch, and returned one right to General Zaroff’s face. General Zaroff lay on the floor, blood coming out his mouth and it looked like he might be choking.

Rainsford was about to attack again when he heard someone knocking on the door. His first instinct was to hide, but when he heard women’s voice calling for General Zaroff to open the door, his curiosity got the better of him. He walked over to the door and slowly opened it. He felt a great blow on his head and in seconds he was on his knees holding his head. He looked up through the searing pain and his mouth fell open. There in front of him stood the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

He looked at her taking everything about her in, from the dirty bloodstained dress to the beautiful face. She was just a little shorter than he was, “Just the perfect height,” Rainsford thought to himself. Her hair had dirt in and was in a braid but it still looked like flowing wheat. She looked a little pale and skinny but was still very radiant. In a proper unstained dress she would look like a goddess. She was holding a baseball bat in one hand. That was what she had hit him over the head with.

She smiled and said apologetically, “I am so sorry good sir, I had not meant to hit you. I thought you were the General for a second, though I don’t know how I could have thought such a thing. I mean you are so much more handsome. Hahahaha!” Her voice got very serious and she continued, “You see I have been waiting, no hiding from General Zaroff, lingering at every corner so I could keep my promise to my father. I thought tonight would be the perfect time, while he would be expecting you, he would find me, a person he thought dead long ago.”

At that moment Rainsford looked at General Zaroff and saw the way he was looking at the woman. His eyes were very wide as if he was in shock and he was trembling all over. There were beads of sweat sliding down his face. What type of woman could strike such fear into a man, Rainsford wondered.

The woman continued, “I have been waiting so long to hunt the hunter but I have had no success. I have been living in a small cramped closet for six months. Ivan felt pity on me and used to bring me food and water. That’s right Zaroff your Ivan brought me food and water. I have been gathering strength so that one day I could kill the man I once called brother,” She sighed a title no longer worthy of him. He killed both my parents in the game. My father died saving me and when he was taking his last breaths I vowed it would be me that killed General Zaroff. Any man that can kill hisown father and mother deserves to die.”

Rainsford looked at Zaroff with pure loathing and horror “Your own parents,” he said in a shaky whisper, “How can anyone kill the people that raised them, the people that worked hard every day just so that you could be happy. It’s just not right.”

General Zaroff was trembling and tears were sliding down his face and mixing with the blood coming from his mouth. He looked really pathetic and weak, not like the crazy mad man he looked like when he was hunting. Ransford almost felt pity on him but it was the kind of pity you would give to a lion, the king of the jungle, when it is dying. His mouth opened and closed but no words came out. He took a long shivering breath, and then whispered in a pleading voice, "Please, Liza, I didn't mean for our parents to die. I was just ... I was just ... just playing. I never meant it to go that far but Father made me angry and I shot." He sobbed and suddenly screamed a sound that would send a chill down any man’s spine. He continued, “I didn’t mean it. I really didn’t. I was just playing. I never meant for it to go that far but father made me angry.” He kept sobbing and crawled to touch the edge of her skirt. The lady, no Rainsford thought her name was Liza, Liza was crying and looking at Zaroff with a mixture of hope that he meant what he said and with the sorrow of knowing that Zaroff would never mean any of it.

All of a sudden Zaroff got up and grabbed the bat from Liza’s hands and threw the bat to the other side of the room. Zaroff looked at Liza with great loathing and punched her very hard in the stomach. She immediately started coughing. He took advantage of that moment and shoved her head against the wall. Her forehead had a gash in it and was bleeding, but she still kept struggled though her punching was getting weaker.

Rainsford came up behind Zaroff and punched him on the back of his head.That one moment gave Liza enough time to crawl away. Rainsford punched Zaroff a couple more times and held him up. “He’s all yours my lady. Now you can complete your vow to your father,” Rainsford said.

Liza didn’t need any prompting. She drew out a gun from the hem of her sleeve. She asked Rainsford to move out of the way ...

Here's a poem written by Sat Singh, Grade 10, which he also read at the recent Poetry Cafe:

My Nightmare

I have this dream
I’m in a building
I’m scared
Something is chasing me
I don’t know what
I start to run
I trip and fall
I try to get up
It is hard
Too slow
My movements are like honey dripping from spoon
I panic
There is a crack in front of me
I jump
Too short
I fall...
That’s when I wake up

The Grade 10 English class recently read Ray Bradbury's novel, Fahrenheit 451. Here are Sat Shabd Singh's thoughts on the ideas of the dystopia created by Ray Bradbury, which bans book reading and burns books. To Sat Shabd, the urge to read books is an itch that must be scratched.

The Human Itch

If the main Fahrenheit 451 society ideology was implemented in our lives the spread of different ideas would be almost completely destroyed. It would significantly slow down the progress of our intelligence. Books give me ideas; they make me feel different and unique. Books let me get lost into a new world away from my troubles and they allow me to be me. I need them late at night and in math class and when I’m sad or when I need to re-look the world in the eyes. I want to feel the characters and ideas, plot, problems, setting year, solutions all swirling around in my head.

I strongly believe that any and everyone who wants the feeling should have this feeling, should be free to take any means necessary to obtain it (besides causing harm of course). It is vitally important to the progress of mankind for every single human to have different ideas otherwise single sight would make us blind.

I believe in the Itch. Sometimes I get that Itch, that one for a new idea, a new book, something to explore, some thing to … read. If I or any other human can’t scratch that itch I believe it will fester and become negatively infected and come out in some form, such as book burning. It’s important to scratch that itch so that you can never be satisfied with just one idea. So you will be open minded and ready to listen to the new ideas so that you can be satisfied with knowing you know more than you know, what is believed you know.

A few months ago, the Grade 10 English teacher, Rajbir Kaur, asked the students to write about what superpowers they would want to have. Here is one response from Sat Nam Kaur:
My Superpower

I already have my superpowers. No need to make it up. Have you ever wondered how superheroes feel about their superpowers? I think it is just as normal to them as ours are to us. Superpowers are usually used to save people, help others and make them feel better.

I have the power of a smile that I can give to people. If I give my smile and my hug to someone that is feeling sad and rejected, I might save them from a few hours of crying and feeling alone and hated. And if I really want to help them and keep them from falling into negativity, I use my power of listening, and making them feel understood. Then I use my power of words to help them figure out a way to solve their problems. And then I use the biggest superpower of all, a good laugh. That bans the evil darkness of depression for a little while and lets that person enjoy life for a little bit. And you might even have a little fun on your own while you’re at it.

And that is only a small example of what our superpowers can do. Most people look for superpowers on the outside, wishing to have them, not seeing that they already do. People dream of flying, well, people fly. They dream of being able to read someone else’s thoughts, well, people do. You just have to realize and see what you have, grab it, and use it. Build up on it. Activate it.

What I want to work on and bring into my life right now is healing by the touch of hand. Using my energy to help someone discover some more of themself, some more of their superpowers by helping them work through their blocks.

There is also the power of love and friendship. When you love, you can do things and know things that you usually wouldn’t, which is actually because of your intuition. If something terrible happens to a child that is very much loved by its mother, the mother will know exactly that moment, that something is wrong. Intuition is also what tells you to stop for no reason at all, and then a fast car comes by that would have hit you if you wouldn’t have stopped.

Every one has these superpowers and many more, that’s probably why nobody recognizes them as superpowers. But I think we should, because we can be pretty powerful. And life is a lot more fun if you see it like that. Go ahead and try!

At the end of Part One of the novel, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Grade 10 students were asked to write the next part of the novel before reading on. Here is Amrita Kaur's prediction, followed by Dharma Kaur's:

Beatty was standing outside, listening to Montag’s voice, reading out loud: “It is computed that eleven thousand persons have at several times suffered death rather than submit to break their eggs at the smaller end.”

He had faked to be walking away, but he had stayed. Montag had fallen for it.
He went to the firehouse to call an alarm.

When the firemen returned to Montag’s house, they searched everywhere, but they couldn’t find even a single book. Beatty was not convinced that Montag destroyed all of them. They were hidden somewhere.

But he had no proof, so he took off with the other men. The salamander drove away in the pouring rain.

As soon as they were gone for sure, Montag ran out in the garden to save the books from the rain. He had hid them under a little bush. But they were all soaked. He had no choice but to destroy them. He threw them in the incinerator with a deep sigh.

Beatty watched him carefully the next few days. One night about two weeks after, Montag’s hands couldn’t help but take a book. While shoving it under his jacket, he saw Beatty watch him out of the corner of his eye. He knew that Beatty would burn his house tonight.

Montag got out of the firehouse. It was dark all around, except for the streetlamp across the street. He breathed in the fresh cold evening air.

And then he started running. The book in his hand, he ran as fast as he could.

And he just kept on running.

Prediction by Dharma Kaur

Montag stayed up all night reading and re-reading, trying to find something that made the least bit of difference. Still he found nothing, he found not one little piece of information that could unravel this mystery, this puzzle that he concocted for himself.

The next morning Montag awoke to the front door, scared, he called to Mildred. “Millie,” he whispered as not to be heard by whoever was at the front door.

“Millie!” Again there was no answer. “Millie, please answer me”.

“What?” She calls, annoyed at his secretive, nervous behavior.

“The door, there is someone at the door.” He looks at the books, then the door, then back at the books. “What should we do?” Mildred just sat in the living room staring at the walls. Quickly Montag took the books and shoved them into his secret hiding place in the air conditioning vent. “Millie answer the door.”

“Hello, what do you want?” Montag heard. “No, my husband isn’t here right now, you can come back a little later and maybe he will be back.” He felt the weight lift off his shoulders for a fraction of a second but then realized in a panic, what will I do if they come back?

Montag sat for a second listening to the aunts jabbering away in the parlor, who will help me? Who can give me a clue to what I can do? He than remembered the old man he met in the park. He ran to the phone and called the professor. “Hello this is Guy Montag”.

“What do you want?” said Faber.

“I need your help; I need you to answer some questions for me.”

There was no answer for awhile but than slowly Faber said “Okay I will meet you in the park.”

When Montag got to the park the old man had been sitting there for quite sometime, it seemed. He had made himself comfortable, but when he saw Montag he seemed to tense up. “Hello, what can I help you with?” he asked.

“Well” said Montag “I want to ask you about books”. As Montag said this the man seemed to slowly edge away as if Montag was a snake waiting to attack. “No, don’t worry” Montag was desperate and didn’t want Faber to leave. “I won’t report you or what we talk about I just have some unanswered questions.”
The professor stopped “You?” he said, puzzled. “Okay sit down.” Montag took a seat relieved that Faber had not run away. “What do you want to know?”

“What can I do to break free from the parlor walls and bring back the books and the old ways?”

Faber sat for a moment pondering Montag’s question. “Well, we need a plan.”

Montag walked to the firehouse and on his way he thought about everything. Himself, Faber, Millie, Clarisse, The hound, Beatty, Faber, Millie, Clarisse, The hound, Beatty, Millie, Clarisse, The hound, Beatty, Clarisse, The hound, Beatty.

Could we really bring the books back? Focused on their plan, he realized there was a chance but everything had to go perfectly.

As he walked into the firehouse, he saw the hound sleeping in its kennel, eyes glowing. “That’s the first thing that’s gonna go” he whispered to himself. Tiptoeing through the deserted rooms he finally came to the truck, the Salamander. Montag lifted the hose and unhooked it from the kerosene tanks. Carrying the hose and the tanks he made his way back to the hound. As he came into the room a wisp of green light was visible at the corner of his eye. Montag was on a mission. He paid no attention to the hound making its way closer and closer to its prey. Before it reached him, Montag rehooked the hose to the kerosene tanks and turned it on. As the hound extended its morphine needle towards him, he turned around and as expertly as any fireman could, he let the kerosene pump through the hose. He suddenly felt terrible. The old feeling of happiness and of being in control, when he had the hose in his hand, was now lost to him. As quickly as he could he finished the job. Taking a match from the box in the corner he lit it with one small flick of his wrist.

Montag could smell the kerosene burning as he left the station. Without looking back he left all he had known for ten years consumed in flame, burning to the ground. All he could think of as he walked away was Clarisse asking him “Are you happy?” now without any hesitation, walking down the street in the light of the moon he could give her an honest answer.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?