Musings From The Middle

Writing Controversy

Have you ever spoken out about something you wanted to change? Last spring I wrote an article about the points system used at Bay Middle School – the BEP system – because I thought it needed to change.

This was my first experience with a controversial article, and I wasn’t prepared for the responses. I received a lot of different feedback because of the different views of people at the middle school on the BEP system. I didn’t know how to react to this feedback, so I decided to take a break from writing for the Observer.

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Volume 6, Issue 25, Posted 9:42 AM, 12.09.2014

My thoughts on Bay Middle School's BEP point system

Have you heard about the Bay Middle School’s Best Effort Point system that fifth- and sixth-grade teachers and students use? Well, if you haven’t, here’s a brief explanation. Every grading quarter each student starts out with 25 Best Effort Points or BEPs. Students can lose points for forgetting homework or materials, being disruptive or for other behavior problems in the classroom. 

The students who end the quarter with a certain number of points get to attend the Best Effort Party. The students that lose too many points don't get to go to the party. One example of a BEP party is at the end of the 2nd quarter, students went tobogganing.

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Volume 6, Issue 8, Posted 10:05 AM, 04.15.2014

Looking for signs of spring

It has been two years since I experienced the season of spring. In 2013, my seasons were in a crazy order that I was not used to because of our South Africa trip. The southern hemisphere has the opposite seasons. I left Ohio during the first couple of weeks of winter only to go directly to a hot and dry summer in South Africa. Then fall and winter. I returned to Ohio in August at the tail end of summer. No spring.

After not having spring for a couple of years and after the kind of winter we are having I can’t wait for spring! I know I’m not alone in this. Most of us must be sick and tired of winter, right? There seems to always be snow on the ground and more falling. This winter has been tough. It was difficult to enjoy the snow earlier in the season when snow was new and fun because the temperatures were too cold to play in it.

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Volume 6, Issue 5, Posted 9:46 AM, 03.04.2014

Remembering special loved ones on Valentine's Day

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and I’ve been thinking about people in my life who are really loving and caring. I am lucky because I have so many people in my life who are loving and caring, but one person in particular stands out to me. My great-grandma, Mary Lou Baker, or "B" as I call her.

B was born in 1927 and is 86 years old. She grew up in Akron. She was an only child and lived with her mom until her mom passed away when she was just nine years old. She was adopted through a friend of her mother’s. B had never met her new parents until they took her home after her mother’s funeral.

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Volume 6, Issue 3, Posted 10:17 AM, 02.04.2014

Remembering Mandela

Nelson Mandela, at age 95, died on Dec. 5, 2013. He was the first president of South Africa after apartheid ended, and he fought for equal rights for his people during the apartheid era. When I was in South Africa, I learned more about what Mandela meant to his country and what an important person he was. He was sick and in the hospital while I was there, and many people thought that he was going to pass away sooner. I thought he might die while we were there and wondered how the country might react.

I wish I could have met Nelson Mandela. He was an amazing man. He spent 27 years in jail because he was convicted for organizing strikes against the government. After spending years behind bars, the apartheid government offered to free Mandela, but he refused because he wanted the government to end apartheid. He’d rather stay in jail while apartheid continued because he wasn’t really free under apartheid.

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Volume 5, Issue 25, Posted 10:39 AM, 12.10.2013

Holiday Perspectives

Has your point of view ever changed about something? My point of view of the holiday season has definitely changed since my trip to South Africa. The holiday season is coming, and I am sure it is an extremely painful time for people everywhere who are homeless because they have nothing to give to their family and they have no home to decorate. Also, they cannot get together with their family members.

People who are homeless know there are families with homes who are going to get presents to open, have lights up on their houses, and have a special meal together. It feels like people get so wrapped up in shopping, buying presents and making their own holiday plans. It’s easy to forget about people who are less fortunate than they are. In fact I think it’s difficult to imagine what they may feel.

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Volume 5, Issue 24, Posted 9:48 AM, 11.26.2013

The perils of picking partners

Have you ever had to find a partner in school, but ended up without one? That has happened to me multiple times, and it’s never been fun. 

I wonder why teachers make us pick partners. Picking partners or groups works well when you are included or when you have a lot of friends in the class. But still it is a lot of pressure to try and include all your friends to be sure they don’t get left out and to be sure that you don’t get left out either.

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Volume 5, Issue 23, Posted 10:08 AM, 11.12.2013

My great-grandfather

Everyone belongs to a family. Family members can be different but they are all important. I have a very special family member that I want to write about. He is my great-grandfather, Mr. Leonard H. Baker Jr., or just “Grandpa.”

People are always surprised to hear that I have a great-grandfather who is alive and I’m always proud to say that I do. Grandpa is 91 years old, and he served in the Coast Guard during World War II. After the war, he came home and married my great-grandmother, Mary Lou Baker, who is also still alive, and they have five kids. They still live in the same house that they had built and raised their kids in. He worked for a rubber stamp company for many years and also spent some years working as a gardener for his boss on Sundays to make extra money for his family.        

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Volume 5, Issue 22, Posted 10:09 AM, 10.29.2013

Dump no waste! Drains to lake!

Do you remember when the Aqua Girls cleaned up Huntington Beach with the help of some wonderful community partners and some Bay Village citizens over a year and a half ago? We couldn’t have done the beach cleanup without their help and guidance! 

On Tuesday, Oct. 8, we were able to help out our community partners from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) and the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project. Ms. Suzanne Krippel from CCBH and Ms. Amy Roskilly from SWCD were handing out flyers and spray painting signs near storm sewers around Porter Creek to remind people not to dump their waste in the storm sewers.

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Volume 5, Issue 21, Posted 10:12 AM, 10.15.2013

There's no place like home

Did you wonder if I ever made it home from South Africa? Sorry if I left you hanging in my last article. It’s been hectic since I returned to Bay. (Yes, I did make it!) I’m glad to be home but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Coming home was a change and even though it is mostly good to be home, there are things I miss about my life in South Africa.

When I first got home, it was awesome, but if felt like a blur because we did so much and we were so jet-lagged. I saw all my friends and hung out with them a lot. I also spent time with my family and that felt great. We got to show people all the souvenirs and African art we brought home and got to share some of our experiences with them.

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Volume 5, Issue 19, Posted 10:14 AM, 09.17.2013

Year-end memories

2012 has been an amazing year for me! I hope it has been good for you too. As I think about all that has happened this year, in many ways I hate to see it end. Every New Year’s Eve, my family writes in a Ray Family Memory Book all the wonderful, fun and exciting things that happened to us over the last year. Here are some of the things that I will definitely include in our book this year.

  1. The Aqua Girls: Ava, Caroline, Eliza, Grace, Olivia and Patty. You are the best teammates. I love working with you. I will miss our DI (Destination Imagination) meetings and competing with you while I am in South Africa. I know you will do great at competition this year. I can’t wait to hear about it.
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Volume 4, Issue 25, Posted 10:46 AM, 12.11.2012

Group uses running to teach girls perseverance, confidence, healthy habits

Are you a girl between eight and 13 years old who likes to run? If you are, you should join a group called Girls on the Run or GOTR. I participated in GOTR this year for the first time and had a wonderful time. You might think by the title of our group that we are a group of girls that met to just run, but it is so much more than that.

This fall, we met twice a week for a couple of months. At each meeting, we learned about a topic such as how to stop a bully, how to respond if someone tries to get us to drink and what advertisements are good or bad for us. Then we would play a game that involved what we had learned. Next, we would run for the rest of the meeting.

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Volume 4, Issue 24, Posted 10:42 AM, 11.27.2012

Time to be thankful

It’s hard to believe it’s November already! Have you been thinking about what you are thankful for? I have. Ever since we had that awful storm from Hurricane Sandy and I learned about Malala, I’ve decided that I definitely have a lot to be thankful for this November. Really it’s probably never too early to get started. I have come up with the top ten things I am thankful for. I have many more than ten, but these are the things I am most thankful for:

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Volume 4, Issue 23, Posted 9:21 AM, 11.13.2012

Helping Malala

Do you remember Malala’s story from my last column? Malala Yousafzai is the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban after speaking out in support of girls' rights to education. I’ve been thinking about her a lot. Before Malala’s story, I knew that some girls couldn’t go to school in some parts of the world, but I never really thought about it. After I heard about Malala, I realized what a problem going to school is for some girls around the world.  

It bothered me that I felt like I couldn’t do anything to help Malala. With my parents’ help, I decided to contact Ms. Jennifer Sanborn from the Women’s Education Worldwide group. I asked her if she had any ideas about what I could do to help Malala. Ms. Sanborn told me “going to school each day with energy and enthusiasm is the best gift you can give girls around the world without privilege.”

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Volume 4, Issue 22, Posted 7:32 PM, 10.30.2012

Shocking news of Taliban oppression hits home

Did you know that in some countries women and girls don’t have freedoms and rights? In Pakistan and Afghanistan, there is a group called the Taliban who don’t allow women and girls to have freedoms and rights that American women and girls have.

This week, I read an article online about a 14-year-old girl named Malala from Pakistan. She doesn’t have the right to go to school because the Taliban doesn’t allow girls to go. But this has not stopped her from going to school and some other girls still go too.

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Volume 4, Issue 21, Posted 10:02 AM, 10.16.2012

Looking ahead to South Africa

Have you ever planned for a big family trip? My family is planning one right now. Some of you may remember that my family is going to South Africa in January. My dad got a Fulbright Scholarship to study the South African Constitution. 

We have gotten our passports and physical exams so we can apply for our South Africa Visas. We need visas because we are staying for almost eight months and need special permission to stay that long. We also have to buy our plane tickets. The plane ride is over 15 hours to travel to South Africa and about 18 to come home.

We will be staying in the Cape Town area. It is in the south of the country where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet. Cape Town is surrounded by Table Mountain. Table Mountain is special because it is flat at the top and not a point. There are penguins that live nearby at Boulders Beach and whale watching in August. There is even shark-cage diving but my parents won’t let us do that.


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Volume 4, Issue 20, Posted 10:26 AM, 10.02.2012

The new school year Is moving fast!

Do you remember my last article when I wrote about how nervous I was for middle school? Well, it ended up being not as bad as I thought. I never got lost, and I managed to open my locker without any help.

We have done some fun experiments in Mrs. Mitchell’s science class. She did one that really fooled all of us! I wish I could tell you about it, but it would spoil it for her future students. Let’s just say Mrs. Mitchell is a great scientist and a great storyteller. I feel very lucky because I have enjoyed all my classes and really like all my teachers.

The Aqua Girls are all back together, and we had our first meeting last Friday. We looked at the Destination Imagination challenges for this year, and we are deciding between two. One is called "In Disguise" and the other is called "Wind Visible."

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Volume 4, Issue 19, Posted 10:02 AM, 09.18.2012

Big changes

Wow! Summer has gone by fast! Now there are only a few days left until the new school year begins! If you have been looking for my column this summer, I decided to take the summer off from writing articles. I took the time off because I felt like a needed a break after all the stuff I had done with the Aqua Girls and the Global Finals Competition. After taking the summer off, I feel like I am ready for the challenge of writing for my column again.

I can’t believe the school year is starting in a few days. I have so many changes coming this year. I am entering the fifth grade and that means I am starting middle school! I am not sure how I feel about this big change except that I have mixed feelings about it.

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Volume 4, Issue 17, Posted 10:04 AM, 08.21.2012