The day that changed many…



It was the summer of 2011 and my family and I had just arrived in the big city of New York. The city where everyone loves and believe it’s the “city of dreams.” 2011, ten years after 9/11. We looked like the typical tourist family standing in the middle of Times Square clueless on where to go next. There were attractions everywhere that we wanted to visit but we knew we wouldn’t go to all. We’ve never gone to a city this big so we were clueless on what to do, where to eat, where to shop, where to go? This is one of the biggest cities in the US, how do we not know where to go? It’s known as the city of lights. Building everywhere flashing different colors at you, the smell of the hot dogs roasting on a cart with a person behind yelling, “Get your hot dogs!” All you could hear was the distant conversation of passing strangers. It seemed like everything was moving fast and it was unstoppable. Everywhere you turn there’s something that immediately catches your eye. Our final decision after time spent wondering where to go was to get on one of those tourist buses and explore the city. We went to Chinatown, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and all the other locations in New York. At every place there were cultures and traditions that differed from the others. As we were going around the big city, we passed by where the twin towers stand originally before the attacks. It felt empty. As if you knew that something was missing. Who wouldn’t know that something was missing? All I could just think about was how 10 years ago, this was the location where people were running for safety, where people were jumping off towers, smoke and debris from the attack were beginning to blind the citizens running. No one felt safe. There was no safety on this day of September 11th, 2001. This terrorist attack was the most tragic terrorist attack in American history. This changed America forever and it would never go back to how it originally was. Buildings were falling, people were dying, sirens were wailing; it was all a big mess. No one really knew what was going on until they watched the news and immediately began to panic, I mean, who wouldn’t? We were all under attack!


Photograph of the attack

At first we were surprised to see construction around the area where the towers were originally at. “I wonder what they’re building?” my sister asked. They made a stop at the area of the construction and explained everything. From all they remember from the day of the attack to now. Ten years later. At this time the city was planning on constructing a new tower to be called, the Freedom Tower. I was shocked because I would figure that they would just want to have the memorial of all the lost lives in the terrorist attack but instead they were building this tower. I knew that there was a 9/11 memorial museum but I just thought that it would’ve been better and more special if they did it at the sight. But I started thinking about it more. I began to think of what this tower was going to represent to America and I came up with the conclusion that this future tower is supposed to represent what America is as a nation. Everyone knows America as the land of the free so that’s why I thought more about it and I came up with the conclusion that what they’re building here is perfect. As one of the biggest and strongest nation in the world, it holds great patriotism like no other nation could. No matter what happens to us, there’s something that we will always have and it’s something no one else can take away from us. Freedom.

The screams, the horror, people panicking and running all over the place. It was one of the biggest and strongest change for American history; our patriotism was taken away from us as we were in a weak stage of mind but it was something we would never get rid of. The commotion made it impossible to know what was going on, what was happening. All I heard were sirens left and right. What just happened? Why is everyone freaking out and where is all this smoke and dust coming from? America has just been attacked. The strongest nation in the world just got attacked but by who? It was too early to tell and all you could think about is to run and get somewhere safe. The 9/11 attacks occurred on September 11th, 2001. Footage of attack


George Bush being informed on the attacks

With 19 Islamic militants in the terrorist group al Qaeda,they hijacked four airlines and were on a mission to attack the United States. Two of the four planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, third plane hit the Pentagon, and the fourth plane crashed outside a field in Pennsylvania. Over 3,000 American lives were lost on this day making it the biggest and worst terrorist attack in American history. It was early morning on the day of the attack, people went to their everyday jobs expecting a normal day. It wasn’t until an American airline was hijacked and crashed into the 80th floor immediately killing hundreds of people and trapping the ones on the above floor. Many pedestrians and citizens thought of it as just an accident by the pilot and some people also believed that it was possibly a suicide attempt by the pilot. But why? The pilot is flying an airplane with possibly near 100 people, why would he want to kill them also? 18 minutes later. The second plane crashes. This is when America realized that they were under attack. The terrorist group al Qaeda, was in retaliating against America because of our involvement in the Persian Gulf War with Israel. At this time, president George Bush was reading to a second grade class, Emma T. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota Florida. George Bush didn’t want to make a huge scene in front of hundreds of children and their parents so he continued to read for the next 16 minutes. Following he went to a holding room and started answering his calls and prepared his presidential speech about the terrorist attack. Starting with “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a difficult moment for America…terrorism against our nation will not stand.” to ending it with a moment of silence dedicated for the families and American lives lost from the attacks. This wasn’t the end of the attacks yet. al Qaeda had more in plan. At approximately 9:38, Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon killing a little over 100 workers and leaving many injured. At approximately 10:03 the fourth and final hijacked plane, Flight 93, was on route to the White House for the final attack. However, a passenger revolt attack to the pilot causes the plane to get off track and eventually failing it’s route and crashing into a Pennsylvania field causing a big explosion killing at least 44 people, 40 passengers and 4 hijackers. It was a turning point in American history because citizens first were panicking and acting chaotic but they began to think and soon came up with a plan to seek vengeance and prove their patriotic loyalty to their country. However this tragedy goes into being the worst terrorist attack in United States history and America would never be the same. Never.  Video on 9/11


Graph on the NSA

Ever since the tragic terrorist attack, America has focused a lot in improving their National Security to prevent future events to leave us anarchic. Many people have supported the improvement of National Security but there have been others who don’t support it due to privacy and a waste of time and money our government is spending. Everyone knows that the NSA can go through our phone calls, emails, and other important personal information that we want to remain private but they claim to do it for safety. Going through our phone calls was one of the starts of the improved NSA while they are capable of, “recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls…as long as a month after they take place.”(Gellman/Soltani) Many people obviously are going to argue that this goes against their rights and it’s not fair because they are breaking into the individuals privacy without one single warning, but what the NSA wants people to see is that they are surveying to see if they catch a phone call that can eventually bring danger to the cities of the US. Not only does the NSA enjoy to go through our phone calls, but they have also used social media as another way to go through the privacy of Americans. Facebook is used to communicate with others that you sometimes don’t have the opportunities to communicate with but they are also “violating Facebook user’s privacy,”(Dawson/Bloomberg) and even Mark Zuckerberg, the creator and founder of Facebook, does not appreciate what the NSA is doing. He believes that by the NSA going through peoples accounts and being able to read through messages and conversations is so unfair to the users. The NSA is trying to find any way possible to get information from Americans that can be classified as a threat to the society. Airports have flourished with the new security ideas since it’s the quickest way danger can enter America but people are starting to believe the “cost of such measures would not be justified, considering they would not completely eliminate the threat, meaning that all the money that the government is spending on airport security isn’t even going to do anything with terrorist entering the country and believing that it’s a huge waste of money spent.”(Martin) It would however lower the threats but never completely eliminate the threats because people will find loopholes and ways around the security and after that, airports can’t do anything about it anymore. The NSA has come a long way since from the beginning and going through people trying to fight against because “expressed concerns that continuous electronic monitoring could intrude into individuals’ private lives, prompt flawed investigations and put sensitive personal data at greater risk.”(Gillum) They choose to go through our calls, messages, and more because that’s the way they can actually get down to find something that could be danger provoking to our society. The NSA knows that people are really against it and want to do everything they can’t to riot against it. The more people will complain, they obviously won’t stop but they will at least try to fix the problems. ”The outgoing director of the National Security Agency lashed out at media organization…to properly analyze the NSA’s broad surveillance powers.” (Ackerman) It was after the Snowden surveillance incidents when people were thinking about how unfair they believe that the NSA is doing to the privacy of American citizens. As time is going on, the NSA is always trying to find better way to improve and with Becky Richards who has, “been at NSA for about six weeks now and, from certainly what you’d read in the newspapers, it sounds like there aren’t a lot of protections in place. But I’ve been really impressed by what are the existing privacy and civil liberty protections that are in place.” (Jtozer) She begins to prove to the person interviewing her that the NSA isn’t a bad thing as what people have been believing because she wants to get the rid of the rumors and how people see the NSA as a “bad thing.”

National Security is integral to the maintenance of the security of the American people. The filtration of potentially hazardous individuals entering our country should be strictly regulated so that no question is raised as to whether the security of the American individual is jeopardized. It shouldn’t bother you or concern you if you’re at an airport and you get  stopped, questioned, and get a full body x-ray. Modern technologies such as full body permit for the thorough evaluation if you are caught being suspicious. Throughout airports in the United States, it has now become protocol for passengers to go through full body x-rays. Many people find this as “unfair” but it’s done for the safety of American civilians. No one wants the tragedy that happened on September 11th to happen again so the new protocol helps prevent and avoid this. No one likes being stopped and have their time wasted to be searched even when they are innocent but it’s just done for the safety and many people don’t understand that. When 9/11 occurred, airport security wasn’t enforced strongly so it was a factor into how the terrorists were able to hijack the plane. If the security was further enforced then there would’ve been a smaller risk into what happened on this tragic day. The naturalization process has evolved to become more nebulous than ever before with potential candidates for naturalization having to wait for 7 years for their documents to be processed. It shows that America is being more strict into searching who will enter the country. The American country doesn’t want dangerous people to be walking around the cities risking the lives of American citizens. People must have a clear record of no felonies and can’t be married to receive the documentation of their Visa. The strict regulations can be seen as unfair to some people because they might be innocent and just want their documentations to enter the United States and cause no danger towards any other American citizens. However, everyone should ender the same evaluation process no matter race, creed, or skin color. Muslims are targeted and stamped as terrorists but not every muslim is a terrorist. It’s unfair to them how some people think that about them because it’s similar to being branded like cows on how their represented. They have like a stamp that says TERRORIST and it’s not fair to them. No matter what they are branded like that and they don’t deserve it. When the same protocol is done to everyone, it prevents that all Muslims are seen as terrorists and everyone has to go through the same procedures to get their documentation. National Security is ultimately the most important factor that contributes to our safety as American citizens. If it wasn’t for the National Security then there would be more danger in the streets of our cities and having it strong, helps people feel safe where they live.



My final reading evaluation

Wow. That’s all I can truly say about my reading life this year. My reading life has drastically improved from last year and the previous years also. I went from only reading 2 books in PreAP English II last year to reading 11 in my AP Lang class!! My personal goal this year I believe was 10 and I ended up meeting it and even excelling it just a bit. At the very beginning of the year when Mrs. Rasmussen helps us make our reading goal all I could think about was, how the heck am I going to read 10 books?!, but with the 10 minutes everyday in class and with our daily reading rate, I was able to meet my goal and I feel very accomplished about my reading life this year and I feel very prepared for next year in AP Lit. The following books are listed from easiest to read, to hardest…

  1. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
  2. Paper Towns, John Green
  3. Cured, Bethany Wiggins
  4. Shipbreaker, Paolo Bacigalupi
  5. Run the Game, Jason Myers
  6. The Sojourn, Andrew Krivak
  7. an Invisible Thread, Laura Schroff
  8. Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn
  9. Little Bee, Chris Cleave
  10. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Jonathan Foer
  11. Oxygen, Andrew Miller

The top 4 books were the easiest for me to read simply because they were Young Adult Fiction and the story lines and how the books were written made it easy to get through them. They were all great books written by good authors but they were just an easy read. Paper Towns although would probably be my favorite book I read this year out of my 11 because I enjoyed the mystery that was happening and how the contrast between Quentin and Margo because Quentin seemed to be very insecure and shy while Margo was the complete opposite as she was seen a rebel. Books 5 through 8 were a bit more challenging because the story lines were more complex and serious. Opposed with the plot of The Fault in Our Stars, the plots of the other books were more serious. For example, an Invisible Thread was a non-fiction novel about a woman who meets an poor 11 year old child and it revolves around the beginning of a friendship between the two. The last three books were the most challenging for me because there were different plots and characters throughout the story and how they all intertwined with each other. Little Bee for example had the story of Little Bee and Sarah O’Rourke. Oxygen was more challenging because it had four different characters, Alice, Larry, Alec, and Laszlo. Having more than one characters and their lives made it more challenging to try and keep up with them. Extremely Loud & Incredibly was also another favorite because the story was addicting to me. I’ve always found interests in stories surrounding 9/11 and also adding Oskar’s mystery made it more interesting for me. Although it was a required book to read, I first believed I wouldn’t like it but I ended up really liking it which was actually surprising. There were a couple of books like Wonder, Middlesex, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story that I dropped because I lost interest in them. It usually takes me to read a little less than half to realize that it won’t interest me and I won’t be able to get through it. I try to not drop books and actually read them but sometimes I just never get interested and hooked on them and I know that I won’t be able to finish the book.


Me and Michelle holding Paper Towns and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close since they were my two favorite books

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Books read this year

The Book Club craft groups did help me and I did enjoyed them. We read the books and working with other students helped a lot in helping me find craft and evaluate it because at times, someone in my group would find something that I must have missed when reading it. I enjoyed Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close the most because it was one of my favorite books and it had great imagery throughout the book. It also had a lot of personification and great character development and overall my favorite story line. My reading life this year has helped me be more informed with the world around me. I read different story lines about strong topics and it overall helped me to get more informed with the world. I’m proud of how my reading life has drastically improved and I want to thank Mrs. Rasmussen for helping me become a reader.


People who have courage are willing to go outside their comfort zone and become fearless. 

They must be brave. They must be certain. They must be determined. They must be bold. They must be courageous.

There are many people who go in history as courageous. They stood up for something they believed was wrong and throughout all odds, they can be called as heroes. They did what other people would be too weak to go through and didn’t have the courage to do. 

Rosa Parks goes into history as being courageous because when she refused to give up her seat to a white man, it led to protest to end segregation in public transportation. Mother Theresa who devoted her whole life to give to the poor of Calcutta to overcome poverty, disease, and criticism. Nelson Mandela had the courage to fight against the unjust system of apartheid. All of these people in society are courageous as they stood up for something that they believed was wrong. They overcame all odds and are now known as heroes in history. 

I have also realized that there is courage in the hallways of my school. It may be something small like saying no to someone trying to copy your homework, seeing someone get picked on and standing up for them and trying to stop it. Small actions like these make everyday students, courageous. Everyone has the chance to let their courage show, it’s just a matter if they can have the ability to show it. 

Not all courageous acts go into history. They don’t always have to be life changing or causing changes in society. They can all be small everyday actions that show your courage. To come out of your comfort zone and become a hero.


Responsibility is a trait that not everyone has.

To be responsible is to be determined, dedicated, and overall be accountable. There are some people who just lack it. They can never find anything to be dedicated t. Who’s to blame for it? Themselves.

When people are children, then their parents are there to help them become responsible. They’re there to tell you to clean up your room, do your homework, go to school, etc. As we begin to grow up into adults, we have to start to become responsible for ourselves. Like a baby bird who begins to search for their own food. Some people can argue that the parents are the reason for their child’s lack of responsibility but that’s not true.

It’s your own fault that you’re not responsible.

You have to grow up eventually and if you don’t, you’re to blame. You can’t depend on other people-like your parents- to do everything for you. As you age, huge responsibility comes with it also and some people don’t ever receive the memo.

When people are much more responsible, they start receiving trust from others. It shows that you are caring and have more integrity.

When you are asked to watch over something for someone and succeed, you are more trustworthy.

So if responsibility is a personal trait, then you are accountable for how much of it you have.

Not anyone-like your parents-are.


What exactly is-this so called thing-humanity? The dictionary refers it to, “the human race; human beings collectively.” How people represent their sense of humanity differs from the personalities of human. Not everyone has the same personality right? So that means that everyone expresses their “humanity” in many different ways. Some people express it positively, productively, and even powerfully; while other’s can express it negatively, naively, and can be narcissistic.

While some people believe that their “faith in humanity” is over, it’s contradictory to what other good people are doing. People seem to realize that if one person makes a dumb mistake, their immediate response to the action is believing that humanity of people is pathetic. Society is composed of good, but yet also bad people so just because someone messes up doesn’t mean that all humanity is done. Maybe the people who are giving up on humanity, are the real culprits of this problem. People need to see the positive approaches being made towards humanity and not the negatives. Of course there will be many moments that go in history that are definitely classified as bad.

The 2001 terrorist attacks was a horrible tragedy for most American lives as we watched the hijacked planes by the terrorist group al Qaeda attack our nation and weaken us.

The fact that people still think it’s okay to point out people’s flaws and make them feel more self conscious and become victims of bullying.

The fact that it is not legal in all 50 states of the United States that all American citizens are able to marry whoever they want.

Yes. Humanity can be cruel and unfair but that doesn’t mean that all faith is lost. People should focus on the positives and live past the negatives as they attempt to reach the approach of repairing humanity. Many positive moments have occurred that they are ignored and replaced by the negatives.

Like the kid who stood up against the Westboro Baptist Church because he didn’t agree with their hate.

Like the Disneyland security guard who goes up to little girls dressed as princesses and asks “Excuse me Princess, can I have your autograph?”

Like the football star who goes on shopping sprees yearly at Toys R Us and spends over $20,000 on toys for children.

There are other epic moments in history that seem to restore the faith in humanity. It was actually easier to research the positives than the negative moments of humanity. The only problem is, that people can never see them and they don’t have hopes on humanity that they just give up on it.

But honestly, they’re the ones ruining humanity.


The Cruel Ways of Society

Society is cruel.

Cruel as in losing respect towards others. Cruel as in thinking it’s acceptable to point out other people’s flaws. Cruel as in not showing civility. Many people, especially teenagers think it’s fine to call someone fat, ugly, a loser, a geek, annoying, etc. People who are not seem “normal” to others tend to be the main victims of this unfair cruelty. Many people-not necessarily everyone-lack civility in their personality and self.

In “No, it’s not kidding-it’s plain cruelty,” we see the Pulitzer Prize winning author Leonard Pitts Jr show to the readers the cruel comments in today’s society to celebrities because of their physical appearance. Gabourey Sidibe is the main example he uses from writing specific examples that were shot at her after her appearance at the Golden Globe celebration for actors and actresses. Comments ranged from people saying she was “the GLOBE” to being called a “gorilla”.

Society is cruel.

Schools in all over the nation can show the real cruelties of society. Teenagers tend to be the biggest generation that lack civility because they see someone “new” and immediately think of them as “abnormal” or “weird”.But that’s not the case. Just because they’re not like you, doesn’t make them weird. Why do teenagers do this? Why are they lacking civility?

Teenagers never know when it’s time to stop. They can never control what comes out of their mouth even if it can be rude and disrespectful. The bullying and the comments towards the students push them to their limit to where they end up committing suicide. Many cases of students committing suicide like Jamey Rodemeyer, Jon Carmichael, Phoebe Prince and many more. These students were made fun of because of their physical appearances, sexuality, personalities, and many more attributes. Why is society so cruel that these students must end their life because they see this as their only way to survive this? It’s pathetic. Sad and pathetic. Where did the respect towards other go?

Time is changing and as it’s changing, the value of respect towards others in diminishing. Why do people do it? It could be their lack of confidence, it could be that they believe doing so gives them power, it could be that they receive self pleasure and joy because of it. Whatever it is, there’s no legitimate excuse to have the right to lack civility. Society is a cruel place where civility is dying.


An Open Letter to an Author

Dear Chris Cleave,

I just recently finished reading your proclaimed, “ambitious and fearless,” novel, Little Bee. I believe that it was a very well written piece of work that changed myself for the better. I mean to say this because as I was reading it, I noticed that Little Bee kept suffering and it seemed like she would never have a great ending in her life as shes struggling with the past that was affecting her future. I also noticed to understand that there are great people in society even when it’s hard to believe it. For example, in the novel when Little Bee and her sister are running away from the guard, I expected that this wouldn’t end well especially since they went to two random stranger that they have never met, Andrew and Sarah. I was shocked with what happened next because I did not believe that Sarah would actually cut off a finger with a machete when the guard demanded Andrew to do it but he just couldn’t. At this moment Little Bee assumed that this was the end of her but Sarah basically saved her from dying. This made me realize that there really are good people in society, even if they are strangers and no one you’ve ever met in your life. If Sarah was willing to do personal damage to herself just to save two Nigerian girls lives, then it really does come to prove that not everyone is bad. There’s those good group of people who are just genuinely great. “When the killer turned away, I dropped to my knees. I looked straight at Little Bee.” (115) The look Little Bee had on her face was dependent on if Sarah would actually save her life. This all changed on how I look at society because it made me feel better about it. People are always saying how we live in a “messed up society,” but there are still great people in it.

As I was progressing through the book, I couldn’t help but noticed how Little Bee never seemed to have that happy ending she was looking for. It seemed that when she would get close, it all just went back and made it impossible but this didn’t stop her from giving up. She wanted to finally be happy again, and it made me realize that you should never give up and have hope if you’re passionate or want something. When Little Bee was in the detention center for about six months, every night she would find new ways on how she could kill herself. “For the first six months in the detention center, I screamed every night and in the day I imagined a thousand ways to kill myself…In the medical wing, morphine. In the cleaners’ room, bleach. In the kitchens, boiling fat.” (47) She was struggling to stay alive with those life risking thoughts she was going through but she stuck through and overcame it. She had hope that she will be out of there and soon happy but she first had to go through to the suffering to get to the happiness. I believe that the time that Little Bee experienced the most suffering was when she had to watch two men rape her sister and murdering her. “They raped my sister. They pushed her up against the side of the boat and they raped her…screams of a newborn baby. There was no grief in them. They were automatic.” (131) For Little Bee to actually witness this, it’s horrible. This is where I felt her most suffering and struggling. But this still didn’t really break her down to wear she wanted to die and actually did; she kept going. Her hope for a brighter and happier future is well seen here in this part because I can’t imagine how much pain she was going through. The craft in this section is also well written by using strong ways of diction, repetition, and using short declarative sentences to further emphasize what was happening here. The word rape was repeated with a short sentence following to let readers know how bad it was. It emphasizes the pain. When Little Bee visits London with Lawrence, Sarah, and Charlie, she notices that she could fit in well here. When she says, “This is the moment. Even for a girl like me, then, there comes a day when she can stop surviving and start living,” she’s implying that this whole time, she doesn’t want to be suffering with all the tragedies that have been occurring but she wants to start living. This is where her endless hope throughout all her suffering has come through. She is now going to start living and move on from the past she’s been going through. The happy ending that she’s been wanting is finally here for her. When her real name, Udo, is told, it brings everything together because we are told that Udo means peace; familiar to hope and happiness. Thank you for helping realize this.

Sincerely Adrian Leos