Archive for the ‘ Students & Teachers ’ Category

Perpetual Motion America

By Marisa Eastman (Reflective Essay)

I began my day rushed, struggling to get ready and make my first engagement of the morning on time, which was visiting the Statue of Liberty. I threw my hair into a messy bun and sported yoga pants and a baggy sweatshirt as I dashed out of the hotel onto the congested sidewalks of Manhattan. Agitated honking of taxis awoke and alerted my senses, sweeping the morning stupor from me. Walking as fast as my legs would allow, I set my pace for the day. Spotting Starbucks, I quickly ducked in for a vital cup of Joe that I knew would give me an extra kick and help me power through the day. Greeted by a fidgeting line of businessmen and office staff, I took my place and instantly felt uncomfortable with tension and anxiety; I knew I could not be in this line for much longer, or I was going to be late. Gulping my coffee, I was forced into a second line within a ten minute period, this one waiting for the subway downtown. Tapping feet, bouncing legs, and swift glances at wrist watches were common motions I observed as we all awaited our personal journeys, wherever they may take us. As the train barreled into the station, even it seemed rushed as its doors shot open, regurgitated hurried passengers, and quickly snapped shut again. I was expelled onto the streets with pedestrians, bicyclists, and automobiles darting in every direction. I walked as fast as I could, hoping to not be overtaken by the crowd of other contestants speeding around our race track of life. Just ahead, my accelerating body and mind suddenly halted as I saw the beginnings of the longest line I had ever seen. Hundreds of people waiting for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty gathered in front of me. As I took my place at the end of the massive line, I tried to relax myself and control the adrenaline that had been surging through my veins since early that morning, but all I could focus on was my next appointment and how much I would now need to rush to arrive on time. A woman in front of me exasperatedly sighed, dramatically throwing her hands in the air saying “hurry up and wait, huh?!.” Interesting, I thought. I hadn’t considered that concept before, but now realize it has deep roots within my life, often dictating the amount of anxiety I experience. Hurry up and wait, as I think of it, is a clichéd idea but is all too relevant in describing what powers our lives.

As Americans, we are accustomed to the hustle and bustle of our lifestyles, which entail juggling a variation of work, family, errands, appointments, school, exercise, transit, and social engagements. Given the speed that we are expected to perform our set tasks, our lives become a metaphorical race track, perpetually fixed in the same pattern, yet traveling at incomprehensible speeds. Although every day we are pushed to meet deadlines, arrive at set places at set times, and rush to complete jobs, we are constantly and unavoidably greeted by lines, blockades, detours, and other setbacks. Waiting, as we would define it, partnered with pace and pressure to meet these designated expectations has become a common element of our daily routines. Although common, pressure is often damaging to a person’s psyche, leading to a plethora of medical conditions. The possible consequences of a modern, fast paced lifestyle include frequent headaches, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. These ailments are all derivatives of stress, which is a significant factor within the pace of our lives.

World level examples in politics, technology, and science also draw attention to the issue of fast paced lifestyles conjoined with the factor of waiting. An article I read in an issue of GOOD Technology magazine highlighted the business world and its current problems. The author suggested these problems are in part caused by the pace of American lifestyle. She went on to emphasize the problem of short term thinking and futile results, rather than long term products and solutions. Hurry up and wait, businessmen. An article in World Magazine focused on the current process of adopting a child. Willing and able adoptive parents are hurried into filling out multitudes of preliminary information, only to be forced to wait anywhere from several months to several years before they are allowed to give a child a home. The author also included a personal interview with a couple who traveled to the Ukraine to adopt a child, where they were hurried to pick a child from stacks of files in less than an hour, after eighteen months of tedious paperwork. Furthermore, a general physician recently submitted an article to Men’s Health magazine explaining his frustrations with current office expectations within his practice. He stated that he is seeing thirty patients a day to meet his quota for a volume-based prototype, which leaves him approximately ten minutes per patient. Since most patient’s needs greatly surpass that which can be evaluated and discussed within ten minutes, he says this is what causes him to fall behind schedule, inadvertently making his next patients wait longer.

The mentality and concepts connected with “hurry up and wait” lead to greater issues as well. Competitiveness, pace, and progressiveness are the main elements of this idea, all of which equally form and feed the problem. When people are constantly stressed about meeting deadlines or keeping appointments, waiting causes this stress to compound, turning it into frustration, hostility, and unhappiness. The push to lead the world financially, technologically, and medically only leads to waiting until proper precursory advancements take place. Hurry up and wait is a vicious cycle that entails insurmountable stress and unhealthy, possibly damaging forces, dictating our lives. Until we realize our personal racetracks and evaluate how to slow the pace of our respective race cars; ready, set, go, America! Hurry up and wait.

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Quest for the Perfect Coffee

By Steve Paglia (Observational Essay)

Think of your absolute favorite food. Now think of what that food smells like. That delicious aroma that permeates the air and fills your soul with longing. The perfume of friends and home and family that makes it so you just can’t wait to eat. That is what Cuppers Coffeehouse smells like, found in the little white house trimmed with crimson and scarred by time. The rich scent of brewing coffee surrounds the place, filling the air with pleasure and pleasant memories. The sagging steps and porch bear the weight of time and many different feet. The screen door squeaks its welcome as the front door opens into this quaint coffeehouse.

The smell of coffee fills the room deliciously and the air is colored with the faint undercurrents of flavor. Slow, heavy rivers of dark chocolate and caramel flow under lighter streams of vanilla and hazelnut, accented with the sharp bite of cinnamon and maybe even pumpkin. Cool air rattles its greeting through elderly ducts while the old wood floors creak in protest under the burden of many different feet. A couple smiles as they enjoy a late lunch. The menus are vast, yet organized, and the many options for coffees, teas, smoothies, lemonades, sandwiches, pastries, breakfasts, lunches, and salads seem to stretch near infinity.

Andrea and her husband Jamey own the little shop, and it’s not uncommon to see one them manning the counter personally, as Andrea does today. The many different orders of coffee are all prepared by practiced hands. The big espresso machine sits across the counter, cool and shiny, next to the grinder, brewing out hot, dark espresso. Muffins and pastries sit on a wire stand, advertising themselves. The lush smells of the place are almost intoxicating. So why coffee? Andrea is quick to speak up.

“The thing I love about Cuppers is that it’s not corporate, you know?” And looking around, the place is anything but corporate. The space holds several rooms, each tastefully furnished with heavy furniture, faded photographs, and relics of coffee-making. A stovetop espresso pot and a milk pitcher on the bookshelf are only a few examples. Dark red adorns the walls, along with advertisements for long gone airlines and exotic destinations. Unlike most coffee places, filled with nothing but cookie-cutter tables, the furnishings here remind you of a living room, with overstuffed chairs and heavy sofas, and everything unique, almost begging to tell you their stories of days gone by. A small bookshelf catches the eye, filled with children’s books and Tinkertoys.

“I only have to be here three days a week, and it’s not a huge stress. And I get to know people’s names, so it’s really social.” Andrea continues with a smile on her face. “We get photographers, artists, painters, you know, all with their Macs and everything. I love the creative atmosphere.”

Looking around, almost every person has a companion. The middle-class couple who are constantly smiling and laughing as they hold hands across the table, the two nurses talking with large hand motions, and the man in a business suit engrossed with his laptop, all sipping drinks and some eating as well. A man with large, bulky headphones sits alone at a table, painting. A group of college girls gossip in a corner, and an old man sits, reminiscing over dusty memories. People from all walks of life are here. People from different classes and professions, are here to sit and enjoy themselves, and relax in this one-of-a-kind coffeehouse.

Andrea’s passion for her job is evident in her excitement. “Everything here is fresh made. We bake all our own pastries and everything is fresh.”

Muffins and brownies and different types of bread sit in display cases. Sandwiches and salads are made to order. The quality is not only in the food, but in the coffee as well, with Cuppers sporting their own unique roast. Their love of quality is carried through the rest of coffeehouse, seen in the spotless countertops, the carefully chosen colors, and the fine details the make Cuppers the one of a kind place that it is.

Running a coffee business isn’t set in stone, and it’s a constant creative process, as Andrea says, “We used to have just a single tier cake stand for the muffins and stuff, but now we have the two tier. I’ve discovered the more you put out, the more people will buy.” She motions toward the two tier cake stand, filled with fresh brownies and muffins. When I say constant, I really do mean it’s a constant creative process, as Andrea is on the constant lookout for areas to improve, and she is never afraid to experiment with new kinds of coffee.

Cuppers Coffeehouse is not just a place to purchase delicious drinks. It is place where one can sit and enjoy life. It’s a place to get creative, meet new people, and get together with old friends. The exceptionality of Cuppers does not come solely from the physical aspects of the building, but from the people here. The people may be different, but they all come here to get away from the hurry and the stress of the day, in a relaxed and utterly unique atmosphere. Andrea says, “The one thing I love most about Cuppers is the atmosphere.”

And the thing about atmospheres is, atmospheres are created by people, and the atmosphere at Cuppers is all good.

School-Wide Food Drive: Making a Difference in Our Community

By Anna Flurry

 For the past few weeks, Tri-M and Mu Alpha Theta have been raising canned food and money for the hungry. Fourth-hour classes competed for a pizza or cupcake party, with the minimum requirement of 200 lbs of food in their bin to be a winner.

 According to azfoodbanks.org, 32% of Yavapai County is made up of the working poor, or those who are below the poverty line. The statistics show that these 67,700 people miss 23% of their meals every year, simply because they cannot afford them. 32% of their meals are provided by private or public food programs.

 This is where Tri-City comes in. The contributions that students, parents, and teachers have been donating will help to supplement the 23% of meals needed by the working poor in the Yavapai area.

 “The needs of the Yavapai Food Bank are very extensive with the current economic situation,” Mrs. Terauchi said, “but I think we did a pretty phenomenal job for such a small school.”

 “It’s great for charity,” said Sarah Cramer (junior).

 In the meantime, competition between classes was fierce as usual. According to Amanda Barry, Zach Keenan, and Sarah Cramer, the most competitive teachers were Mrs. Terauchi, Mrs. Winters, and Mrs. Milliken.

 “My 4th period choir students were really excited and they even went around the other classrooms to “spy” and see how much food other classes had,” Mrs. Terauchi also said.

 As it turned out, Mrs. Milliken’s Shakespeare class won the drive with 104 lbs of canned food, and Mrs. Terauchi’s Choir came in second with 88 lbs. Since neither class reached the minimum of 200 lbs, lesser awards are being considered, such as a cookie or ice cream party.

 At the Fall Concert on November 17th, baskets were also passed around to the parents in the crowd in an effort to gain more contributions for the Yavapai Food Bank. This year’s proceeds have yet to be totaled, but last year, hundreds were raised, so Tri-M and Mu Alpha Theta are hoping for the best.

 “The food drive was a great success and we were able to bring in more food by joining forces with Mu Alpha Theta and doing it as a school-wide event,” said Mrs. Terauchi.

Fly

By Kevin Andreasky (Autobiographical Essay)

I tore through the crisp morning air carelessly, as if the bike beneath me made me weightless and invincible. My sister trudged robotically behind me, battling silently against the breeze. When at last we reached the bus stop, having beat back the elements she triumphantly threw herself down on an electrical box without saying so much as a word. But I was not like her. I welcomed the wind in my hair, the sweet smell of rain that still lingered in the air, and as she fell to her icy seat I broke away and flew up the nearby hill. I wasn’t just a kid on a bike waiting for the bus to arrive, I was a motocross superstar riding a tricked out dirt bike. I was the underdog racing around the final turn in first place.

Victory was so close I could taste it, but as I reached the crest of the hill and turned around to begin my descent I did not see the finish line, I did not see millions of adoring fans screaming my name. I saw my dog Fly in the middle of the street chasing cars as carelessly as I had been chasing dreams seconds ago. Suddenly a massive truck burst into view, like an enraged, rabid bull craving the blood of my cocky matador friend. Time skidded to a halt as the four wheeled, diesel powered, merchant of death charged. The yelp of terror pierced my ears and reverberated through my frail body, snapping time back at a breakneck pace. Chunks of fur peppered the road like fluffy balls of cotton, sprinkled about the severed leg. My sister scooped up our whimpering friend and held her close to her chest, coddling her and assuring her everything was going to be alright as she sprinted towards our house, tears streaming down her face. Knowing that I could get home faster than her, I began pedaling. The callous wind ripped through me like a barrage of bullets, never seen, only heard and felt. I willed my bike to go faster, my legs to push harder, myself to be better, but my backpack pulled down on me with all the weight of the world.

Memories of days gone by began cycling through my mind with every crank of the pedals. Suddenly I was young again and the world didn’t seem so cruel. Fly was a puppy, so small and helpless. I cuddled her in my arms as she wiggled and squirmed in an attempt to get away. She was a free spirit who did not relish being contained. The sun smiled down at me as I lay sprawled out on the inviting ground slowly running my hand through Fly’s freckled fur, her head rested on my chest. My fingers seemed to melt into her agile border-collie body as her wet nose gently brushed my chin. Friendly little clouds drifted lazily across the clear blue sky carried by the cool breeze. The smell of fresh cut grass enveloped me, its potent scent filling me with lethargy and pulled my eyelids closed. Each memory flowed into the next in one fluid motion and then Fly was dancing around my feet, beaming up at the tattered old ball in my hand. The second the ball left my hand she was off, bounding after the grimy little sphere with a smile on her face. Her powerful legs pounded against the ground, sending clouds of dust in to the crisp air. I wiped the slimy film off my hand as Fly turned around and began triumphantly trotting back with the ball held tightly in her mouth, dropping the ball at my feet and smiling up at me happily. Next, we were playing tag, the damp dirt clinging to shoes. I dodged right and left trying to get around her. I was laughing and she was barking playfully as I fell to the ground. She would pounce on me and lick my face, her smooth, moist tongue washing the streaks of dirt off my cheeks.

These pleasant memories were soon replaced with regret. I should’ve spent more time with her, should’ve played with her more and given her more attention. I rebuked myself for shoving past her when she ran up to greet me the day before. I chastised myself for scolding her when she got me muddy after each rain. I hated myself for shutting her out when all she wanted to do was love me. In my mind’s eye, I could see myself closing the door on her as she whined and looked up at me longingly. Her eyes haunted me. I seemed to get lost in their endless pools of blue and try as I might I couldn’t keep my head above water.

It seemed as if the wheels of my bike had deflated with my soul and no matter how hard I struggled, no matter how much ground I covered, I got nowhere. I skidded into the driveway, threw down my bike, and ran to my father pleading for help. My sister raced up the driveway with our fallen comrade draped across her shaking arms, stopping only when she reached my dad. Solemnly he took our dying friend in his massive arms and my sister ran inside the house, returning moments later with a piece of her softest, most treasured fabric. I was standing motionless and alone and time seemed to stand still as my sister lovingly swaddled Fly. My dad gently set her down and filled his arms with my sister and me instead. Icy rivers cut in to my rocklike face and left a bitter stain on my quivering lips. I tried to hold it together and be strong for my sister as I watched the life slowly drain from my friend’s eyes, but, being only seven, I failed. I failed my sister, I failed my friend, and with nowhere else to turn, I ran. My legs remained motionless, my body immobile, but I ran and ran and haven’t stopped since. I run aimlessly, always fighting against the wind, against myself, against others, against time. Regardless of my age or the circumstances at hand I am always pushing myself to escape the world, to escape reality, to escape the oppressive expectations of others, all in a feeble attempt to preserve my last remaining shreds of childhood. Struggling in vain to return to a time long since passed when I was free and life was simple.

Home

By Bethany Ford (Autobiographical Essay)

I thought things would be the same forever. Everyday had a new joy to be discovered. Kids always told me, If I had this toy, this new game, this many friends I would be happy. I never understood why they told me this. I was happy. Every day I woke up and saw my daddy’s face, and had breakfast with my mamma my heart would leap inside of me. My daddy always called me his only little princess, and because it was just me and my two year old brother this was true. Who needed stupid toys? I had a great family and a daddy who loved me. I felt like they would always be there for me, no matter what. Until that one day.

I could smell the spring flowers in the air. I crawled out of bed, and dragged myself into the kitchen to say good morning to my mom, but I couldn’t find her. I could always find her in the mornings. My daddy had already left for work, so I went into his office to try and find the note he always left me. I flipped through the papers and grasped the note. My body became as stone, and my heart smashed against the floor. I felt a bitter tear slide down my face as my eyes filled with water. They were getting a divorce.

I would have single parents for a shorter time than expected. A devastating six months had gone by when my dad came to pick me up from my first day of freshman year. His new girlfriend’s daughter, Sarah, was in the car. She was in my seat. I reluctantly climbed into theback as the two of them carried on their conversation. While I was staring out the window watching the cars go by Sarah asked him a startling question.

“So did you ask her yet? Did you ask her like I told you to?” Sarah inquired, with a grin from ear to ear.

I will never forget the look of shock on my dad’s face as he tried to figure out how to reply.

“Ask what, dad? What did you ask her?!” I asked, demanding a reply.

“Honey, I asked Vonda to marry me,” he finally responded, knowing full well that was not the way he wanted me to find out. I slid back into my seat, the only thing I could relate to were the cars speeding by my window. I had nothing to say.

Every other weekend I would go to visit my dad, his new wife and my new sister, while my little brother, Tyler, had to stay home with my mom.  For seven months we moved from house to house, I failed to see the reason why I should even unpack any more. Not long after his new marriage my dad enlisted into the Army National Guard, and was soon set to be deployed in Iraq. Prior to him leaving for his deployment Vonda announced that she was pregnant, with twin boys. Through all of this I trusted in my dad, I depended on his strength, and his strong will. What I didn’t realize at the time was that that “strength” was going to end up being in Iraq for more than a year. And I would not be able to go with him.

It was one of those years that people spend their whole lives trying to avoid. My life felt like a ball of yarn being unraveled by a cat awaiting the perfect moment to pounce on it. Everything I tried to make better only got worse. Someone always got hurt and more often thannot, it was me. At my sixteenth birthday party I remember all I could think about was how my daddy wasn’t there to celebrate it with me. Right before I was about to go on stage at my dance recital I peeked out the side curtain to see my daddy watching, as I did every year, accept this time what I saw only made me want to cry.  He missed a whole year of my life. My glue that held everything together was missing. I kept having dreams that he had come home and we were hiking through the mountains and going fishing like we did when I was younger. Then, I would wake up. I had to force myself to face reality, he was not there, and he wasn’t going to be there for quite some time. He was the man that could fix anything. The only problem was, he was not there to fix it.

I had no solid ground, no set place to live, and no family to come home to. I was alone. What a strange feeling, to be alone, no one there to hold you when you are scared or hurt. No one there to hug you when you had a bad day, no one there to tell you that they love you, and no one for you to love back. I was alone. No one should ever have to be alone.

I would be seventeen years old before I could wrap my arms around my daddy again. It would be that day, that glorious day, when we would begin to make our way down to the Tucson air force base and eagerly await for his arrival, that I could hold my daddy again.

The drive that day was torturous. Tucson never seemed so far away. As we arrived at the air force base we were ushered through a large gymnasium to a small parking lot out back. It was here that we sat waiting. I thought they would never arrive. The sun slowly started to hide itself as a warm breeze blew across my face. Suddenly, two large buses started pulling in the drive way, parking about fifty feet away from us. There seemed to be no movement. Then, as a small brass band begins playing, the buses crawl away, slowly revealing our nations defenders marching in formation into the semi-circle the families had formed. They had started reciting their captain’s motto as I searched the lines of soldiers. Finally, I found him, in the middle of the formation second from the right. The speaker released the soldiers to their families and I sprinted toward him, but the crowd moved too quickly. A split second and everything became a blur. I had never seen something so organized become a danger zone so quickly. People pushed and shoved. I lost sight of him. All I could see were people that I had never met before surrounding me. I didn’t know which way was up, but I kept searching I knew I would find him.

Suddenly, my name rang though out my whole body, it was almost unreal. That voice, that tender loving voice. How long it had been, my heart craved for a that voice, that voice to be the puzzle piece that fulfilled what had been lost for so long. My name flew out of his mouth so quickly my heart stopped beating. I whipped around. There he was in front of me. I ran and jumped into his arms. He grabbed me and held me closely to his heart. At that very moment I was home. For the first time, I was home.