It’s been a while since you heard from any of us, but that’s not because we have been taking it easy! Our goal from the start of the school year was to complete the 2010/2011 school year by Memorial Day weekend.
We took very few snow days (we actually worked harder on those days this year!), breaks or days off so we could give ourselves a little room to breathe before the trip of a lifetime occurs (read more about this later).
Since we last submitted any new news from our home school, the Jonathan and Rosie entered a writing contest sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Locally, that would be the Anne Wood Elderkin Chapter.
Jonathan’s writing was to address lessons learned from Christopher Columbus’ life and Rosie’s was to address, in creative form, who she was as Paul Revere.
They have both entered various contests in the past, but this one seemed pretty rigorous.
As their “gatekeeper,” I try to limit the number of these opportunities since everything they do affects our household through time. I am concerned that they are involved in activities that are meaningful and sometimes even fun. But I have chosen to NOT be a “soccer mom.” I value my and my family’s sanity too much!
But, through the prompting of a friend, they both entered the contest on the local level.
They both won at this level, with Jonathan’s writing going on to the state level and winning there, too!
Currently, his writing is awaiting national judging and we are looking forward to hearing of the outcome of this contest!
Locally, they celebrated their successes in May at the local chapter’s gathering at the Jillson House on the 17th.
For Jonathan, we celebrated at a hotel in Rocky Hill with other DAR recipients of awards for service, writing and the like.
His state level award adds another given by the Italian American Society. He received a lovely small bowl (Paul Revere style!) with his name engraved on it, as well as the two organizations’ insignia. He also got a check for $100!
We were proud to accompany him to this evening event. It was a moving time to see him accept the awards and to relish his continuing journey toward adulthood!
A new camera
He also entered an amateur photography contest and won second place. That landed him a $50 prize and a greater spark to go on and purchase the camera of his dreams with his hard-earned snow removal, lawn mowing, and home care monies.
He seems to enjoy competitions, including his new passion; fencing.
Contests offer a great way to get feedback about one’s abilities, as well as hone/increase those abilities.
And it’s an exercise in learning about various areas of life from reading the contest directions, researching the “fine print,” taking the time to enter, sometimes paying fees, as well as determining which are a “right fit” for you.
One can’t enter EVERY contest. But a contest once in a while is sane… at least in my opinion.
Contests can enhance one’s curriculum; I just need to be sure it accomplishes something meaningful and that it’s not just busy work!
Prior to winning the writing awards, Jonathan earned his Bronze Level of Achievment for the Congressional Award. He will have many good things to include on his resumé/cv in the future. In fact, I think he will have a hard time picking and choosing what to put on it!
I’ve provided a couple pictures from Jonathan’s awards night with this column, as well as their writings for you to read for yourself.
There are a number of people who have shaped their writing abilities. As a “thank you,” we sent each one a copy of the writings. We are grateful for the wonderful people who have been a part of our children’s academic lives.
Rosie’s essay - Memoirs of Paul Revere
I am Paul Revere. You may know me for a ride I did on a horse in order to save many people. But there is more to me than that! I want people to know me from the inside out, good to bad. So if you find this document, it is quite special; please save it carefully for future generations. Let me tell you a little about myself.
I was born on New Year’s Day. I was never close to my other 11 siblings. My intent was on other things, like school or preparing to take my father’s place when he died. And that soon happened. At 12 years of age, I left school as did many children my age, to apprentice my father who was a silver smith. When he died, he left me and my brother to run the shop and provide for my family.
I went to church. My mother was a Puritan by birth and my father was a French Huguenot. My mother, when she was a child, didn’t like church very much. She would sometimes skip it or say she was sick to get out of going. But my father came from France. In his country of birth, it was important to be baptized and to go to church so at the age of thirteen, he was already baptized and a church-goer. Like my father, I want to be a strong believer in God. He was a wonderful father who was strong, loving, and kind…all the things I want to be remembered for. I am sure his faith in God helped him to be the man that he was.
Skip forward a few years in life and I’m doing some exciting things! I have done many rides but the one I’m most known for here, as I first mentioned, was in Boston. It took me to Concord, Massachusetts. Being a Freedom Fighter was exciting. I would consider myself a real risk taker, someone who would fly into the face of danger and persist. And that’s what I want to be remembered for. I took risks and didn’t care if I got caught. I would always push forward and never give up.
Some people think I’m a hero for what I did that night on the “midnight ride” with William Dawes. But I always wanted the simple life, to be clever. I wanted to find out what it was like living with no care in the world. One time, when I was sixteen, I had a wonderful idea! My friends and I asked the pastor if we could ring the bell in the church and earn some money doing it. We got the job and made 3 shillings a week! I guess you could call me an entrepreneur!
I was a dentist once, a spy, and also did a midnight ride to Maine in the winter. I was a successful business man. I was conniving, sly, and wise in what words I chose when I talked business. And that’s another thing! I want to be remembered for my skills as a business man and a skilled artist in whatever profession that I chose.
In my family life, I was saddened every time one of my children died. It comforted me that they were in heaven, but sickened me that they were gone. I wanted my children to remember me as a father they could address with a hug or a kind saying of “thanks.” I believe I was a good father, always happy to help my family out and willing to supply for them when they were in need. I really enjoyed my large family!
So, this is the end of my proverbial “ride through time.” Writing these memoirs helped me find something out about myself. I decided I wanted to be remembered by these attributes of my character;
A risk-taker. I think being a risk-taker takes some gut and strong emotions.
A person who was patient in times of difficulty.
A competent business man who excelled in whatever he chose to do/be.
A loving father; one who takes a kind spirit to watch children grow up and become something beautiful.
A skilled business man; the trait that is needed to establish an honest reputation.
A man who was strengthened by his faith.
These are strong traits that I want to be remembered for. Thank you for saving these memories in this document. I hope you will share it with generations to come and be inspired to take on the world (like I did!) no matter the cost.
“Answers.com – How Many Siblings Did Paul Revere Have.” WikiAnswers – The Q&A Wiki. Web. 23 Dec. 2010. <http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_siblings_did_Paul_Revere_have>.
Giblin, James Cross. The Many Rides of Paul Revere. New York: Scholastic, 2007. Print.
Nisenson, Samuel. Illustrated Minute Biographies. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1964. Print.
“Paul Revere.” Google Books. Web. 23 Dec. 2010. <http://books.google.com/books>.
Randolph, Ryan P. Paul Revere and the Minutemen of the American Revolution. New York: PowerPlus, 2002. Print.
Jonathan’s essay - Lessons from Christopher Columbus’ Life
Our country and our political leaders face some difficult decisions, today and for the foreseeable future. President Obama must deal with pulling troops out of Iraq, the Afghan War, a three trillion dollar budget deficit, and massive amounts of top secret government documents released to the public. These are times that try the best of men and women. These are times of heavily pressing decisions. Our leaders need the wisdom and the courage that it takes to do what is right for the country and put partisan politics aside. Our leaders perhaps could learn from Christopher Columbus. Columbus also had some tough decisions, but it was his faith that helped him endure the hardships and overcome the ridicule associated with his quest that ultimately led to the discovery of the new world.
Columbus exhibited great talent as a seafarer from a young age, making his first ocean journey at the age of 14. He made many voyages in the Mediterranean and sailed to the North Sea. In his travels, Columbus visited the Azores, as well as a trip to England. Some would argue it was his destiny to become great. Destiny or not, he was a very skilled navigator, able to determine his ship’s latitude and longitude with the crude instruments of his day without radar, radio, or a phone. Armed only with a compass and a few other basic instruments, he once sailed thousands of miles out of the West Indies and made landfall only 25 miles off of his target. The fact that this was possible with what few navigational instruments he had shows an amazing amount of technical prowess, considering we still have vessels running aground with all the technology available today.
Naturally, as with most heroes and celebrities, there are critics and fans. There are those who would like to crucify Christopher Columbus. The critics tell us all about his bad sides; how he had slaves and enslaved many Native Americans and sold them; how he stole land from them and used simple weapons to amaze them and scare them into giving him what he wanted; and how he made many work in gold mines. Then there are those whom I equally disagree with, who would like to make him out to be a god of sorts. They praise his daring, courage, and vision, but I don’t agree with either side. Columbus could not be made out to be any more of a god then could any of my friends. He had, as all humans do, dreams and goals which he would pursue with passion until he achieved them. What made him greater than most however was his faith in someone greater than himself. His faith in God was what motivated him to work for the people instead of working completely for his own gain. He realized that there was a greater cause that he should work towards for the good of all.
As mentioned before, our leaders could take a few hints from Columbus. He wanted to leave the world a better place. It’s a pretty basic thing but everyone has the potential to change the world. Columbus just seemed to possess more of a drive to leave the world different, and better. He was shrewd. When he appealed to Ferdinand and Isabella, king and queen of Spain, to fund his expedition, they refused. He then asked the French monarchs to fund him. Ferdinand and Isabella then quickly rethought their position on the matter, because if France funded his trip and it was a success, Spain would be embarrassed. Columbus made a bluff that succeeded. He knew that the leaders of the time would think about such diplomatic implications. Ultimately it was the Spanish king and queen’s advisors that told them of the tales of gold and riches in the New World, and convinced them to fund Columbus’ expedition.
Columbus was also bold; he put his money where his mouth was. When Ferdinand and Isabella agreed to fund him, two ships were paid for by them, but Columbus paid for the last one out of his own pocket. He must have known this was something important, that it was something pivotal to history. It would be like someone creating their own company and backing 30% of it with their own personal funds. It’s not really something you do unless you know that your venture is going to be profitable or a huge success.
Our leaders today need to be like Columbus; they need to be bold, shrewd, savvy, and they need to try not to buy into every one or everything that comes along saying that they can help. They need to investigate, get the facts, and see what’s real and what’s not. They also need to do what’s right for this country and not be conscious of what makes them look good or gives them good returns. . They must have courage, and more importantly the courage of our forefather’s and the courage of Christopher Columbus. A preacher who acts one way in front of the people, and another way in his private life is not acceptable. We need leaders who we can follow in all areas of their lives, be it in the public circle or in private when no one is watching. When I say one thing and do another, I don’t look good.
We need people who are patient, that don’t give in or give up if they aren’t getting what they’re trying for the first time. People who will persevere through the ups and downs, when no one can see the land and the crew is threatening mutiny. We need people who are in it for the long run, people who won’t give up at the first sign of defeat or at the first indication of weakness in their party. We need more people like Christopher Columbus.
“Christopher Columbus Timeline – Google Search.” Google. Web. 20 Dec. 2010. <http://www.google.com/search?q=christopher columbus&hl=en&prmd=ivnsbo&tbs=tl:1&tbo=u&ei=W9kTTa2RGYGBlAfZ4vzIDA&sa=X&oi=timeline_result&ct=title&resnum=16&ved=0CJEBEOcCMA8>.
“Christopher Columbus Timeline.” History Timelines. Web. 23 Dec. 2010. <http://www.history-timelines.org.uk/people-timelines/15-christopher-columbus-timeline.htm>.
“Christopher Columbus.” United States History. Web. 19 Dec. 2010. <http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1033.html>.
Pickering, Keith A. “A Christopher Columbus Timeline.” Columbusnavigation.com. Web. 21 Dec. 2010. <http://www.columbusnavigation.com/cctl.shtml>.
Freedman, Russell. Who Was First?: Discovering the Americas. New York: Clarion, 2007. Print.
Morison, Samuel Eliot. Christopher Columbus Mariner. Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown and Co., Inc. Print.
Nisenson, Samuel. Illustrated Minute Biographies. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1964. Print.
Columbus, Christopher, George William Sanderlin, and Laszlo Kubinyi. Across the Ocean Sea; a Journal of Columbus’s Voyage. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. Print.
Home school column posted in HTNP.com June 6, 2011
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