As the American metaphorical saying goes, an optimist will make lemonade out of lemons. He or she will take a bad situation and turn it into something positive. That's taking lemons (bad) and making lemonade (good). I have seen this over and over with our students at Great Neck South High School. They turn a negative event or series of events into an opportunity and a lesson learned. Let me give you an example: I have helped students with and read several student-written memoirs in which these young people have converted past obstacles or adverse experiences into personalized essays which end up representing the people they have become. One had to deal with a very painful punctured eardrum; another, with a brain tumor. In each case, the teenager demonstrated, in his or her memoir, that he or she has become a stronger person as a result of past difficulties, that obstacles or challenges are made to be faced and overcome - and that is a good sign for that person's future, because life contains a series of challenges to be faced and defeated. There's no doubt that a college admissions officer, reading one of these memoirs, is thinking: This is someone I want at my college. This is someone who will not fall apart when things get tough. This is someone who is capable of taking a bunch of lemons and making some great-tasting lemonade out of them!
Wednesday, September 3 marks a new start for you. It's a time when you can make sure you don't fall behind in your work. It's a time when you begin to be the best student you can be, because it's the first day of your future - and you want to do well in your life. Begin with a determination to do your best. Stay up to date with assignments. Ask questions when you don't understand what is being taught. Seek help in the Study Center whenever you need it. Starting on September 3, it's all in your hands! It's in your power to be successful. Make up your mind to succeed, to overcome all obstacles with hard work. It's really as simple as that.
The school year is now in its fourth and final quarter. The academic year 2013 - 2014 is about 85% finished. You have final assignments and final exams (or Regents) ahead of you. How would you like to feel? Think about it now. If you don't do as well as you could, you will be unhappy with yourself - and your family will not be too happy with you. However, if you do your best, if you pass all your tests and classes, if you get a few really good grades, you will feel a sense of pride in yourself that will make for a relaxed, pleasant summer vacation. Wouldn't you enjoy hearing family members tell you how proud they are of you? All you have to do is try hard, avoid procrastinating, think clearly and do what you know you are capable of doing. There is real satisfaction that one gets from a job well done. Determine today, if you haven't done so yet, to finish the school year in a way that will make you proud of yourself! Then you can be sure that the people who matter most to you will feel that same pride in you.
A long-time Study Center and Social Studies teacher passed away early this morning. Mr. Thomas Mattia, who had just retired this past June, had a great life and will always be remembered by the thousands of students he taught and by the teachers who were lucky enough to have him as a colleague and a friend. He would have been 93 years old this coming Wednesday. He was a sailor in World War II, seeing action in the Pacific. He was a teacher for half a century. He knew what he was talking about when he taught history. He was wise and compassionate, and will always be in the thoughts of those of us who were fortunate to have known him.
Mr. Mattia, pictured above in the right corner, with Mrs. Jacobson on his right and Mrs. Pappas on his left, was loved by his students. They knew that his main goal was to help them do better in their classes (the same goal all we teachers in the Study Center share). Please read four student comments about him when he was teaching: "... an excellent resource with a lot of experience teaching Social Studies"; "He helps me SO much...He's a great teacher. He reminds me of my grandpa."; "He is the best ... such a helpful teacher, amazing ... I wish I had his brain."; and "The best teacher ever, helpful and kind."
We will miss him, but we don't have to be sad. He lived a long, marvelous life. People should be judged by the positive ways in which they helped and influenced others, and using this measure, Mr. Thomas Mattia lived a very valuable life. He will be remembered that way. He WAS Life! He will be in the hearts and minds of all those who had the privilege of knowing him, and that is how he will remain alive to us.
There are times in our lives when people who mean a lot to us are no longer the people we see on a regular basis. Some of you found that out when you left your home country to come to the United States. Many of you will experience this when you graduate from high school and go your separate ways to various colleges or to work or even to return to the nation of your birth. Our community in the Study Center said good-bye to a very special person on Friday, March 14, when Mrs. Lillian Hsiao bade us farewell and went off to teach in another high school. She has already said and written that she will miss us. Her love of working with all of us was shown clearly by her dedication to the students whose lives and academic performances she made better. We want her to know that we will miss her friendship and her many talents very much. She touched the lives of so many people here, and now she will continue to do the same with the fortunate students (and teachers) at another high school. We hope to see her once in a while, perhaps on the streets of Great Neck, but in the meantime, if any of YOU want to send her a message or share a memory of her, please click on "Comments" and write and "Submit" what you have to say.
Here is one person's list of the 10 best teenage movies ever:
1. "The Breakfast Club" 6. "Hoosiers"
2. "American Graffiti" 7. "The Outsiders"
3. "Election" 8. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
4. "WarGames" 9. "Dead Poets Society"
5. "Pretty in Pink" 10. "Grease"
Do you think a good teen movie was left off this list? Do you disagree with any of the choices above? Click "Comments" and let us know about your ideas. Which movie do you think deserves to be on this list? Why?
The picture to the left shows a 16 year old girl, a junior in high school, posing with well-known singer Demi Lovato. Here's the question: If you could have the chance to spend some time with a famous person, whom would you choose to be with? Why would you pick that person? What would you want to say to that person? How would you want to spend, let's say, a couple of hours with that celebrity? Let us know!
Each of the first 20 students who come to Mr. Munshine at the English table in the Study Center on Monday or Tuesday, February 24 or 25, will receive a free number 2 pencil. He is in the Study Center periods 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 on those days. Just tell him that you read this blog entry and you will receive the free pencil. They come in several colors and designs. You pick the one you want from the ones available. A word to the wise: Don't put this off; the pencils will be given out quickly. Get your free pencil! They won't last. UPDATE - THIS OFFER IS NOW OVER. THANK YOU.
SNOW - HAD ENOUGH? Don't let it get to you. Relax. Watch the slide show; see how some people used the snow to enjoy themselves. Do the same - indoors. Read a book you've wanted to read. Write a real letter to a relative. Watch a movie. Make lemonade!
Would you believe it! We are half way finished with the school year! Two quarters are completed and two are remaining. It's time for you to evaluate how you are doing. You had goals in September. Have you done the work needed to stick to those goals and earn the grades which you want? Will your results in June be ones which you will be proud of, which your parents will be proud of? It is very difficult to be objective about your own performance - but it is sometimes necessary, if you are to improve. Make up your mind NOW to do your best in every subject - and, when you are having difficulty in a subject class, let us in the Study Center know so that we can support what your classroom teacher is doing and help you do better in your classes. That's what self-discipline is: taking responsibility yourself for recognizing how you are doing, and taking steps to improve your performance. That's what we are here for. Make use of the hundreds of years of teaching experience we have in the Study Center, and let us help you improve your report card grades.
The ideas on this page come from a Study Center teacher with almost 50 years of teaching experience. More importantly, these entries have NO LIFE until you students write comments and share your ideas and your responses to the ideas presented. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Let yourself be heard.