Posts Tagged ‘school’

If our names determine our destinies, Jack Pinto was destined for greatness. Those three short syllables ring of action, purpose and charisma. A boy named Jack Pinto could grow up to be anything: a fighter pilot, a rock star, a politician, a sports legend, a hero. Or nothing at all.

Jack Pinto was a six-year-old who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Though the funerals are long over and the media have moved on, I can’t get him out of my head. It’s the name. And the picture. You’ve probably seen it. He’s wearing a football jersey (his team was the Giants) and the letters “NY” are emblazoned on his flushed cheek. He’s raising a power fist that says “Go Giants” to the camera and you can tell by the grin and the gleam in his eye that pint-sized Jack Pinto is a force to be reckoned with. When that picture was taken, it may not have been possible to guess what kind of mark that kid would make on the world but by God, you knew he would make one.

In one magazine article about the tragedy at Sandy Hook, it’s a sad coincidence that on the flipside of the page with Jack Pinto’s picture on it is a photo of another boy. Adam Lanza. In it, he’s smiling shyly at the camera, one hand raised in greeting. He looks like one of those kids in high school who at best blends into the wallpaper and that nobody ever remembers or at worst, gets picked on in the hallways and nobody cares. When that picture was taken, you wouldn’t have guessed that that kid would make a mark on the world. But he did, by killing 27 people, including Jack Pinto.

The Sandy Hook massacre continues to raise questions about gun control, security measures in schools, and the treatment of mental illness. In my mind, those questions are joined by one more: what greatness lay ahead for Jack Pinto? It’s a shame that we’ll never know.

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I first read Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” when I was in 6th grade. I confess I didn’t totally understand everything in it at the time, much to the relief of my parents and the nuns at St. John Vianney who caught me reading it. But I understood enough of what was going on to know it was a really good story.

They call it reading comprehension. We’re tested on it in school from the time we learn to read. How well do you understand what you’re reading? What do you take away from the story when you’re done? If you were asked to relate the whole story to someone who’s never read it so they understand it as if they had, could you do it? Two new features coming soon to Hot off the Wire explore the possibilities.

Dice and Dash: Quick Classics for Readers on the Go

We’re a society on the move and readers have to grab their literary fixes when they can. In Dice and Dash, favorite stories will be streamlined into quick reads with the whole tale told in 50 words or less. A great exercise for writers, a quick fix for readers, and a unique way to see how well the story can be told when every word literally counts. While I’ll be sharpening up my pencil to do most of the dicing, if you have a Dice and Dash entry you’d like to share, please do!

Loose Morals: Literary Lessons in Less than 30 Seconds

Every story has a moral, whether it’s evident or not. Loose Morals asks “what did I really get from this story”? The answer is pared down to a quick quip that can be shared in less than half a minute. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, always enlightening. And, if you don’t mind others knowing about your Loose Morals, feel free to post a comment!

Be watching for these new writing experiences coming in the weeks ahead.

According to a story this week by Associated Press writer Heather Hollingsworth, some schools around the country are looking at doing away with snow days. You remember snow days, don’t you? Those blissful hours of frosty freedom when the snow was too deep to safely get to school but not so deep that you couldn’t make it to the garage to get out the sled? The chilly mornings you hovered around the radio in the kitchen waiting to hear the announcer say those four glorious words: “Schools are closed today”?

With advances in technology, snow days could soon become just a fond memory.  School districts with the capability to offer virtual learning are considering holding online classes on those days when winter weather prevents students – and teachers- from getting to the actual classroom. I get that snow days can wreak havoc on an already crowded school calendar. And I appreciate the fact that sudden interruptions in classroom lessons can make it harder for some students to learn. But, do away with snow days? No way!

Snow days were a learning experience in and of themselves, weren’t they? On our snow days in southern Minnesota, I learned how to ride a red plastic saucer down the big snowpile by the front steps, manuevering around the flagpole and navigating between the trees on the boulevard without hitting anything. I’d call that Driver’s Ed. My sister and I could build snow forts in a matter of hours, figuring out how many chunks of snow it would take and how to build them so they wouldn’t cave in when you crawled inside. Why, that’s simple Math and Building Trades. And on those snow days when it really WAS too cold and snowy to go outside? We’d stay in and read books and drink hot chocolate. Hello, English and Home Ec.

As grown-ups, we don’t get the luxury of snow days. Even if work IS called off, you worry about how to get the driveway plowed to get the car out and if you have enough fuel oil to keep the house warm, and you wonder why you didn’t stop at the grocery store on the way home from work yesterday to pick up a few things just in case. Come on, school officials – let ’em have that snow day, huh? You’re only a kid once.

Hey, blog followers, do you remember snow days from when you were young? How did you spend yours?