A Glimpse Into Middle School Writing

Francesca - "Mid-day Christmas?"

For Christmas this year I went to Florida to visit my grandparents. On Christmas Eve at about 3 pm my grandma said, “Hey! Do you guys want to open presents now?” I responded by saying “sure why not”. This was a little weird because my family usually opens presents at 9 pm, but it was tolerable because she was the host of Christmas. So, at three o’clock my mom, dad, brother, grandma, grandpa, uncle, and I got our pajamas on (which is a family tradition) and scurried over to the tree to open presents. But before we did that my grandma gave us all Santa hats. Each one of us got a different hat. I got one that looked like an elf hat because I am always “Santa’s helper.” I am basically the one who gives all the presents to people. Anyway, once we got our Santa hats and sat down we finally…. oh wait no! My grandma said one more thing, "Let me make some coffee and hot chocolate." This was funny because it was 80 degrees outside. Finally, after 30 minutes of putting on our Santa hats and drinking some coffee and hot chocolate, we started to open presents. Even though it was different, we enjoyed being together.

Oliver - "The Polar Plunge"

For Winter Break 2016, I undertook the Polar Plunge. For those who don’t know what the Polar Plunge is, it’s when a group of nutheads jump into freezing cold water on New Year’s Day. However, my group went on January 2 at 8:00 in the morning. At Gilson Park, there was a step of ice before I actually got in the water, so I had to step through all the ice chunks floating at the water’s edge. When I first got in the water I was in shock. The combination of tiny icebergs and the frigid air woke me up when I got in. As soon as everyone and dunked under they instantly got out. Even though some people didn’t dunk themselves under the water, once I got out, the feet were the worst part. They had no feeling. It was worse than numb, it was just nothing. Then they started to feel like there were lots of needles being poked into my feet. Leaving behind the “polar” part, we got donuts, hot chocolate, and the chance to talk about our miseries. Though the whole thing lasted for about thirty minutes, it was the first annual Polar Plunge for me, and I look forward to it next year.

Helena - "A Christmas Heaven aka Family"

Winter Break was a time when many eventful things happened. I am most definitely going to be starting with the most chipper part of my break, also known as Christmas. Well, not really Christmas, Christmas Eve. My family all was not available during Christmas Day, so we decided to celebrate on Christmas Eve! The earlier the better, am I right? After greetings and hanging around, eating my favorite, peppermint Hershey’s, the whole family all settled in the living room to go to heaven! Just kidding, to open presents. Finally, it was Maggie (my cousin) and my turn and we open up one of the most gorgeous gifts I have ever seen! We each opened a gold necklace with our names printed on them in little tiny letters. You would be lying if that isn't the cutest thing you ever seen. Another one of my favorite gifts was one that Maggie got me. She got me hilarious avocado and tye dye socks and a sticker in a shape of a spray bottle that says “idiot repellent.” Amusing, right? Finally, the day is coming to the end, and we park ourselves down for the most mouth-watering dinner we have ever eaten. (That in fact, my dad made!) We eat turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, and about ten other delicious foods that if I said you would be crying you'd want to eat them so bad. Sadly, it’s time say goodbyes, and now I just have to wait until next Christmas to get to see my loving, touching, funny family again.

Willem - “The Tale of a Fish”

Two Christmases ago I received a 28 gallon fish tank to set up a saltwater aquarium. Although I had some success in maintaining the fish tank, a few weeks before break I decided to transition to a freshwater tank due to the fact that the saltwater tank ate up every dollar I managed to save. I set out on a quest to figure out what I wanted to do with the tank. After a week or so of research, I decided I would go with a planted tank with a mix of several different species of peaceful fish. Once I had decided what I wanted to do, I started to buy all the necessary items: filter, heater, gravel, test kits, liquid fertilizer, etc. When I had all the necessary equipment, I headed over to Fish Planet in Deerfield to buy some plants. After spending quite a while contemplating what to buy, I decided on a two types of cryptocoryne and two types of vallisneria. Sadly, my vallisneria died and I had to remove them; however, my cryptocoryne has been doing well and reproduced. Once my plants started to established themselves I returned to Fish Planet to buy my first batch of fish. Thirty minutes later I decided to get one Dwarf Honey Gourami and three Sterba’s Corydoras. A few days later, one of the Sterba Corys died due to a possible fungal infection. A couple weeks later, a second cory contracted the possible fungal infection and died. One week into break, I went back to Fish Planet to finish up my tank. I planned on getting a couple types of schooling fish. Finally, I decided to get three juvenile Albino Congo Tetras and four of a fish which I can not remember the name except that they are a type of Tetra. Two days later I decided to use the 25 dollar gift card my Grandpa gave me to get a moonlight for my tank so I could watch it at night.

Emma - "Battery Breakdown"

On Monday, January 2nd, 2017, my aunt, uncle, cousin, my brother and I went to Mount Charleston in Las Vegas, to go on a sledding adventure. We drove up the steep slopes of the mountain and finally arrived at our destination. We had a blast sledding down the slippery, ice like hills. About an hour later, I was taking pictures of the beautiful landscape when my phone shut down. Annoyed, I tried turning it back on, but it claimed the battery was dead. I knew this couldn’t be true, because I had charged it fully before leaving. I was irritated with my battery dying but would not let that ruin my fun. Irritated, I put my phone in my pocket and proceeded to go down the hill a few more times. A few minutes later, my aunt wanted us all together for a picture. She was about to take the picture when her phone shut down as well! Quickly, she ran to the car to get her work phone. She took the picture and a couple minutes later her work phone died too! We immediately realized this was no coincidence and thought about what could be causing the shutdowns. We thought it was either the cold temperatures or the high altitude. I tried turning my phone on again but came up with nothing. Displeased, I put my phone in my pocket and proceeded to go down the hills a couple more times. Out of curiosity, I pulled my phone out again to see if it would come back to life. Surprisingly, it worked! I unlocked it and noticed the battery was over 50%. To my surprise, it died again within minutes! I took out my gloves and felt my phone was cold to the touch. The weather was to blame! We left shortly after, and to no surprise my phone came back to life in the car. A visit to the Apple store will need to be put in place to see if this problem can get fixed!

Las Vegas

Tess - “Wrong Ryan”

My winter break story isn’t set on the slopes or on a beach but instead right on my couch. The most exciting event I was looking forward to the whole time on break was the Golden Globes. The only problem was that I had a hockey game three hours away from home and the time of the Globes was at the same time I was heading home. I was very disappointed, but then my mom said she would update me over the phone. In addition to the updates from my mom, I also was watching clips online. Luckily by the time I got home, the award part of the show had just started. I hopped on the couch as quickly as I could. The category I was most eager for was Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. After watching for about 20 minutes the category for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy came on. My favorite actor, Ryan Reynolds, was nominated in this category. My heart was beating out of my chest in anticipation. At first, I thought the presenters had announced that Ryan Reynolds won. It was actually Ryan Gosling who won though. It was the wrong Ryan. Gosling’s movie, La La Land, ended up also beating out Reynolds’ movie, Deadpool, in a different category. All envy aside (cough… Gosling) it was a great night, and I was overjoyed that I had been able to watch the show.

Grace - “Farewell 2016”

Over Winter Break I experienced quite a bit, but one day that stood out to me in particular was New Year’s Eve. Starting in the early evening, my December 31st was loaded with boisterous and highly enjoyable events. At approximately 4:30, I was picked up by the Myers Family, and we went straight to Francesca’s for an early dinner. The food there was definitely delectable and delightful! I had a lovely assortment of seafood and topped that off with a chocolatey cake. After that, I headed back to Amelia’s house for a little while, and we let our food comas settle in and digest. After 45 minutes or so, we drove to the Marriott Theatre to see Singing In the Rain, a musical that I was hardly familiar with. The cast we saw was incredibly talented, and I left the theatre stunned. It was an incredible production, especially the fact that they used gallons of water to duplicate the scene in which the main character, Don Lockwood, sings and dances in the rain! After we watched the amazing musical, we drove back to the Myers’ house for even more of a celebration. We got home and decided that we would celebrate the coming of 2017 twice, once in New York time, and once in Chicago time. Since New York is an hour ahead of Chicago, we technically blew our obnoxious but essential blowers at 11:00. Their poor cats were very confused and annoyed, so we made an agreement to keep the honking to a minimum after 11:01. Right after we said, “Cheers!” with our sparkling grape juice, we got some snacks, blasted some music, and had a dance party right in the middle of their family room. It was quite eventful and definitely worth it. When we were all danced out, we lugged ourselves back to their couches and watched the Chicago countdown. We chanted through the last seconds of 2016, and before we knew it, 2017 was right before our eyes. We erupted like volcanoes, and the cats were unsettled once more. We blew our blowers for a short time, and watched the TV blare for a little while. Surprisingly, their dog slept through the whole bash. We noticed we were slowly crashing, so we headed upstairs. That day was a day I won’t be forgetting anytime soon, and it was definitely the best way to head into 2017.

Amelia - "A Christmas Tradition"

For Christmas my family has a tradition that has gone on since I was little. On Christmas morning my brother and I race down the stairs to the tree. Then after we have opened all of our presents, we walk over to the laundry room to look for our “big” presents. Sometimes it is big like a scooter and then sometimes it's something that we really wanted. This year I got a book all about the making of the musical Hamilton. Whenever I was finished opening my presents that were under the tree, I was always disappointed when I didn’t find that one gift I really wanted. Sure enough that present was in the laundry room. Some years it was in the washing machine, and other years it was in the laundry room closet. I hope this tradition will continue for generations.

Anjan - "Chicks for Christmas"

This Christmas, I received a $25 Visa debit card, and I spent a long time thinking about it. Finally, I decided to purchase a flock of chicks. Before that, I was on the verge of getting a Nerf gun. Now, I don’t have a flock of chicks in the backyard, if that’s what you’re thinking. I paid $20 to donate a flock of chicks from the nonprofit Heifer Project International. They donate the flock of chicks to someone in need. Their motto is “Why give someone a glass of milk, when you can give them a cow?” For just $20 dollars, they donate a flock of chicks, all the equipment needed to raise the chicks, and all the training needed to raise the chicks. On their website, www.heifer.org, they sell rabbits, cows, alpacas, llamas, sheep, ducks, etc. and donate them to people in need. Over the years, Heifer has donated and provided $1.5 billion to farmers in need around the world. I feel so much more satisfied that I changed a family’s life, rather than purchased the Nerf gun I really wanted. And better yet, I even got the Nerf gun I was on the verge of buying in the form of a birthday gift!

Matthew - "Shredding the Slopes"

Over winter break, my family and I usually go somewhere for vacation. This year it wasn’t the tropical and boiling Florida, but instead, it was Breckinridge, Colorado. Needless to say, it was frigid, but that didn’t stop the family of six from going on an awe-inspiring adventure. I’ve been snowboarding practically all my life, along with my father, Scott, and my sister, Catie. It is something we all love to do, but we only went a couple times a year. What I like to do most when snowboarding is the intimidating terrain park. The terrain park is basically like the skate park for the snow. It is packed with jumps of all shapes and sizes, and of course one humongous jump at the end. We stayed at a hotel on the opposite side of the terrain park, which made it hard to access. So it wasn’t until the last two days we were able to get over there. The first day went pretty smoothly. No one got hurt and we were just messing around. However, that day we were avoiding (quite purposely) the enormous jump at the end. We knew we had to fly down that thing. The next day all I wanted to do was go to the park. My dad and I arrived and practiced for a bit, but the time had come. We both came to the acceptance that we had to shoot down it before leaving. Imagine a 15-foot hill leading to a jump with a gap of 10 feet. We saw people doing backflips and all sorts of crazy maneuvers, but all we cared about was making it to the other side (without dying of course). I leaned forward on my board and began to pick up speed. I looked forward and there it was, the jump we had been wanting to conquer. Luckily, an intermediate like me went straight down and prayed for the best. I shot off the edge of the ramp and flew in the air. I safely landed and thankfully didn't touch down in the middle of the gap. I never regretted a single moment of it, but I’m glad I didn’t attempt a backflip first try down.

Sydney - "So Long, Princess"

This winter, I went on a Disney cruise. Now, it may sound pretentious, but that was not the highlight of my break. What jumped out at me did happen on board, though - learning that the icon, Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in Star Wars had died. When I first overheard this shocking, horrifying, and overwhelming news, I honestly had to sit down and take a deep breath. Carrie Fisher meant and still means so much to me and others - as a mental health advocate, a strong and powerful woman who wouldn’t accept disrespect from others, and obviously, the brave and beautiful Leia, who showed girls everywhere that they don’t have to sit back and let the men do the hard stuff. Her tragic death greatly upset me, and it distressed me that she is just another in the long line of deaths this year; in total 55.3 million. Each had their own story, and each had their own worth. But this winter break, learning of Carrie’s death was something that will stay with me forever.

Carrie Fisher

Important Dates

Jan 16 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (No School)

Jan 27 - End of the Second Quarter.

Jan 30 - Third Quarter Begins.

Feb 3 - School Dismisses At Noon.

Fed 14 - Valentine's Day.

Feb 20 - Presidents Day.

Feb 24 - No School.

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