Musings from Middle School
When the 2017-18 school year began, we, the Northampton Area Middle School English department, knew we wanted opportunities for our students that would allow them to understand that writing was relevant to their lives beyond school. In partnering with the Northampton Press, we were able to establish a relationship with a community stakeholder to share and publish some of our students’ writing — hence our section, Musings from Middle School.
In these selected editorials, students took into consideration some of the negative happenings in our world lately and reflected on things that matter, the kindness and generosity of others, no matter how big or small. — Lacey Snyder, Northampton Area Middle School teacher
By Ava Cascario
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses,” quoted Alphonse Karr. Today there are many things that can upset us or bring us down, but we need to find the good in every situation.
There have been many shootings lately; some are far away and some are local. Each time something like this happens, more and more people are being affected by these situations. It is always nice to do something for those people being affected by these events.
A couple years ago, I was at a carnival, and my dad gave me twenty dollars to spend. I was very excited because it was one of the first times that he let me in charge of my own money. I bought Rita’s, and I played a game. I had seven dollars left when I went to sit down on a swing to eat my Italian ice.
Once I got up to go play with my sister, I noticed that my money was gone. I started to look around for it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere! I was distraught, so I went over to my parents and told them what had happened.
A girl with a group of her friends saw how upset I was, and she came over to me and she replied, “I think this is yours.” I was so grateful for her giving that to me. Since my dad saw how nice she was being too, he gave her two of the dollars that she had given back to me. That made her very happy as well.
My mom had a two dollar bill in her purse, and she had told me the day before, “I am saving it for something special.” My mom saw that this was important to me and said, “This is what I was saving it for.” That brightened my day.
Little gestures can make a person smile. When someone is feeling sad or unhappy, you can always brighten their day. Anyone of any size can make someone happy. These events can change the way you act, the way they act, and the way people around you act.
That girl changed me by showing me that you can help someone out even if you don’t know them or if you don’t like them. Even if you are feeling down yourself, you can still help someone in need, and they might help you in return. That girl had helped me, and my dad gave her some of the money in return because she had been very nice to me. I can reflect on this and be kind to others no matter how I am feeling.
The Good in People
By Brayden Rader
It had so far been a wonderful week camping in Ocean City, Md. We bought fresh crab at a crab shack and other wonderful foods. There was a bike track to ride your bike on, laser tag, a golf course, a pool. We even went to another campsite to do a high ropes course; we went to many water parks, the beach and even the boardwalk.
But what we didn’t know was that there was a bad storm one or two weeks before the week we stayed and that a tree above our camper had a deep crack in it. The branch was fine for about three or four days, but then, there was some light rain, and it was enough to bring the branch down.
One night at about 2:30 in the morning while my brother and I were sleeping, the branch fell and our parents didn’t even know. It made a big hole in the roof, and it brought all the cabinets, the microwave, and the oven down.
This incident basically woke the whole campsite because the family we stayed with and my mom and dad started to scream. Next thing I know, my brother and I were being helped out of the camper and sat at a table with random strangers. They were trying to keep us calm while the other people that came tried to get as much of the tree as they could off our camper. We had almost the entire campground at our camper trying to help in any way they could, whether it was trying to help get some of the tree off or trying to help calm down my brother and me.
By this time, the campground gave my family a cabin to stay in, and that night, I couldn’t even think of sleeping because I was about to break down.
On our way home, I couldn’t help but think about all of those strangers that helped us when they didn’t have to. But they helped us because they care about people and their safety.
After my family got home, the rest of my family knew what had happened, so I had to tell the story over and over again, and it took me a few weeks not to be as freaked out about the situation.
This experience on our vacation just goes to show that even with all the bad that has been happening in our world, there are a lot of really good people that care about everyone. As Denis Waitley once said, “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.”
By Zachary Hepner
Breaking News: Shooting at Jason Aldean concert. “Why can’t everyone be nice to each other?” I spoke to myself. Jason Aldean is my favorite artist. “Who would do that?” I thought to myself.
I don’t know why someone would do something like that. Years ago, people didn’t have to worry about things like this happening. Now my mom can’t trust me to walk around the neighborhood by myself. There are so many bad things going on in the world that most people overlook the good things. It may not be big things. It’s the little gestures that mean the most and heal in bad times. It is the little things that remind us that there are still good people in the world.
One fall morning, my mom and I were on our way to work because sometimes I go to her work to help. On our way, we figured that we would stop at Starbucks to get a coffee. The line was so long at the drive-through that we went inside.
When we got inside, there was no line at all. We got to the counter and ordered. Once my mom got out her purse to pay, the clerk told us that there was no need to pay. My mom asked, “Who paid for it?” The clerk didn’t know his name, but she did say that the man looked very happy. Someone must be very generous because two venti coffees at Starbucks isn’t cheap!
We were so excited and surprised with the gesture that we bought the person’s coffee that was behind us. I can’t prove this, but I am sure that this went on for the rest of the day — maybe not the rest of the day but for a long time. It brought joy to my mom and me to know that there are still nice people in the world.
The whole way to my mom’s work we talked about how nice that the man had to be and why he wanted to pay our bill. I wondered a bunch of things. This man didn’t have to go out of his way to make us happy. Now we know that there are nice, kind people in the world. These people do good things and ask for nothing in return. My mom and I continue to talk about this man and what he has done, and from time to time, we still buy coffee for others.
A wise author, John Ruskin, declared it best when he wrote these words, “A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.” We should focus on the good in people rather than focusing on the bad. If we focus on the bad, we will miss the little things that make everything so meaningful.
That man ahead of us didn’t have to buy my mom’s and my coffee, but he did anyway. It is the little things that we should pay attention to in life. For it’s the little moments that make life so great in the midst of the bad.
A Few Small Words
By Rachael Moss
My father and I were eating at a restaurant about a year ago. It was a beautiful day in May, and I could smell the scents of toast and pancakes. I doodled in my notebook while I was waiting to order. It was very busy, and I could hear people chatting about sports and news.
Finally, our waitress, a complete stranger, came up, took our order and then glanced at my drawing of an octopus with a tie. She smiled and said, “That’s very cute! My daughter is a bit of an artist; she would like it too.” I was very touched by the sudden compliment, and then a thought came to my mind. I knew that even though I was bored to death, sitting in a crowded diner full of complaining guests that was on a polluted street by a messy dealership, there was still kindness in the world.
After the waitress left, I knew that she had inspired me. I felt that the compliment she had said was a gem in some coal. I began to relay an act of kindness a few minutes later. I drew a comic for her and her daughter on the utensil holder, hoping she would collect our bill along with the comic.
When we got home, I couldn’t help but think about the woman again. She had showed me that a stranger could be nice, and from other past experiences, I have no doubt that this is true. If stories of kindness were shared more often, I have no doubt that more people would be inspired to relay the kindness.
As Mark Twain said, “Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” He was truly correct, for no act of kindness is wasted. Being kind is something everyone deserves, and though it may not be done often, I know that one small act can make someone’s day better. It can fill up their hearts no matter how small, and it can change their lives no matter how quick it may be.
The compliment from that waitress was an inspiring thing. It showed me that kind acts still exist in this world that is constantly being ruined by horrific stories on the news. For the media, the horrible stories of shootings and robberies are carefully designed to catch the eyes of curious readers, but that’s not all that happens in this world.
People stay and help, they call 911, they try to save the wounded, and there is also kindness, which isn’t normally written about. This isn’t just my opinion, and sadly, it isn’t thought about often. That one little act of kindness done by the waitress, though, made me think that there is still hope, and I bet that there really is.
By Abby Loch
There are some people in the world that just never stop helping society. Whether they make a difference in the world or just in one family, all these people are heroes in disguise. Some people just want to make up for all the evil in the world by being as good as they possibly can. Some people even give up an entire way of life for one person’s life to be saved. One of those people is my very own great-uncle Eric.
A few years ago, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer in one of his kidneys, and our whole family was devastated. We were all hoping for a donor to come and help our family. My grandfather was in and out of the hospital for months, and it appeared that was how it was going to be forever.
Then, after tens of hundreds of prayers for him, my dad gave me the greatest news I had heard in years! My grandfather’s brother, Eric, was going to give up his kidney to his brother. He was saved!
But living on one kidney is hard. You have to watch everything you do. It was very risky, and no one knew how it would end. What if it didn’t work? Because the kidney would have touched my grandfather’s sick body, he wouldn’t be able to get it back if it didn’t work, but we were all as positive as possible. We were so thankful for his generosity toward his brother. I had never felt so amazed that someone would go through all that for a sibling.
In the end, the transplant was unsuccessful, but Uncle Eric wasn’t mad. He took it very well. At least he tried. I don’t know anyone else that would do something like that, so I know that with as much bad in the world that there is also a huge amount of good in the world to balance it out.
My Uncle Eric donated his kidney for his big brother in need. I do not think he could show any more just how much he loves his other siblings. Roy T. Bennett once said, “Life becomes easier and more beautiful when we can see the good in people.” There is nothing I can think of that is more true than that quote, and that is how my great-uncle Eric makes me feel.
Good Things Come in Small Gestures
By Connor Kline
A news notification came onto my phone, “Eight people killed, and almost a dozen injured in an act of terror in Manhattan.” Who would do that? How could somebody do something so wrong?
When all these bad things happen, we all want something better to start. We always say, “Pray for Vegas” or “Pray for Orlando.” But, we can’t just pray for these things, we need to start acting. We need to start doing good things for the world not just sitting back and watching.
I remember when I was only 4 or 5 years old, an older man gave me a candy cane that he was originally going to give his grandson. By doing small things like that, we can all work together to help make the world a better place.
I was standing in a line with my grandma at Redner’s Warehouse Market when I asked my grandma if I could have some candy. She said no because it was supposed to be a quick trip and there was no candy in that checkout line. I started to get sad because when I was around 4 and 5, candy was pretty much the most important thing I could have. My grandma said that when I got back to her house, I could eat the candy that was there, but I still was a little upset.
An older man behind us in that line said, “Hey, you!” The man told me that he had a candy cane since it was around Christmas time. The man gave it to me even though he was originally going to give it to his grandson. I thanked the old man and felt really happy.
On the drive home, I really thought of the importance of that deed. The man gave me a candy cane that he was going to give his grandson! That man made me realize the importance of giving. Whenever I see a homeless person, or just someone in need, I remember what the old man did for me and try to help those people. I also try to remember to be thankful of what I do have because not everyone gets all the good things that I have, so I will really try to help all those people.
We all need to pay attention to the good things in life. As the Australian model Miranda Kerr once said, “Every day, I like to wake up and remind myself to be grateful of the simple things.” I think that is very true and inspiring because we do need to focus on all the good things in life no matter how small they are. That old man didn’t have to give me a candy cane in that line, but he did because he was a good person. We should all try to do at least one good thing for someone every day and be grateful for all the good things we receive.