Room 210
South Spotlight
Home | Mr. Turner's Third Quarter Research Project | 2007 Short Story Finalists | 2007 SMS Essay Contest Finalists | 2005-2006 Archives | Top News | Homework/About This Class | Links | South Spotlight | Links for Teachers | Wall of Fame | South Alumni | 2004-2005 Archives | 2004-2005 South Spotlight | 2003-2004 Archives | 2004-2005 Short Story Finalists 2 | MAP Practice, 4-5-2007 | Communication Arts MAP Practice, 9-29-2006 | MAP Practice Test, 4-6-2006 | MAP Practice Test, 3-30-2007 | MAP Practice Test, 3-9-2007 | MAP Practice Test, 3-22-2007 | MAP Practice 11-17-2006 | MAP Practice Nov. 10, 2006 | MAP Practice Test, 10-20-2006 | Communication Arts Reading Assignment, 9-15-2006 | MAP Practice Test, 10-13-2006 | MAP Practice Test, 4-7-2006

This page will spotlight feature stories and personal essays by members of the South Middle School Journalism Club.


Mrs. Angela Mense takes a brief moment from teaching her seventh grade communication arts class to pose for a photo.
Room 210 photo by Christen Cool

Room 210 Staff Writer
   The inspriration for Mrs. Angela Mense, seventh grade communication arts teacher, to go into education came from a high school teacher, but her first teaching experience came years before that.
   "I always wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl," Mrs. Mense said. "I forced my younger brother to be my student when we played school.
   "When I was in high school," she said, "my English teacher, Mrs. Resa, helped me decide that teaching was the career for me because I saw how she connected with her students and I wanted to be just like her. English has always been my favorite subject because I enjoy reading and writing."
   Mrs. Mense has not regretted her decision to become a teacher. "I love to be a teacher because I get to have an impact on students' lives and be around really smart and funny kids," she said.
  Education is not just a learning experience for students," Mrs. Mense said. ""it is not always just about punctuation and grammar. It's mostly about making connections with the kids and inspiring them to give their best at everything they do."

Room 210 Staff Writer
   The ZAP Center is homework center for students who have missed more than three assignments in a class. It is where you do all or most of your homework that you missed.
   If you talk to anybody but the teacher or teachers, then you get kicked out of there because the teachers do not want you to give other students answers or to talk about other things, like for example, boys, skateboarding, video games or shopping.
   The ZAP Center was really full the day that I went to sit in on it and see what it is like. Miss Chairez said, "This is the fullest it has been all year. The students are helping each other with their homework and not talking about anything else but homework."
   I got to help one of the students, Taylor Burton, with his math homework with the box-and-whisper plots. Malika was helping Anthony with his math homework about fractions. Chris and Cole must be in there a lot because they hardly got talking, only once. Sometimes the ZAP room is quiet, but sometimes it gets really loud. That gets Ms. Chairez mad at everyone. There were about 30 people in the room. Normally, there are only about 10.
  If you finish early, then you readd a book and if you say, lost your homework, and then found it the next day when you have ZAP then you turn it in to your teacher and read all hour.
  Some students think the ZAP program is really a good thing and others do not think it is so nice. Teachers are mostly going to vote on ZAP being a good thing.
   ZAP is a good thing because teachers get their homework, which makes them happy.

My 13th birthday my parents were in Cancun, Mexico with my two little sisters, I was staying with my older brother Mitchell while they were gone. It seemed like no one remembered my birthday so I was devastated.
When I got home from school, Mitchell surprised me with Three Days Grace tickets. We went to the concert that night and on the way home he told me how much he loved me and how glad he was that he could have a great little sister like me. I thought how he had always been there for me no matter what was going on in his life. He always took time for other people and rarely did anything for himself. I didn't think I could ever survive without him...
     On Jan. 17, 2005, Mitchell was coming to pick me up so he and I could get Mihka, his 2-year-old son, a birthday present. I was starting to wonder where in the world he was when my mom received a call from St. John's Hospital. A few minutes later, I heard my mom crying so I went to her room to see what was wrong. Mitchell was in a car accident and was in a deep a coma.
 At that moment, I didn't want to believe her, I thought that I was just having some horrible nightmare and I would wake up any second. This couldn't be happening; he had a son, wife and baby on the way, not to mention his family and friends.
     When we first arrived at the hospital, the doctors wouldn't let us see him because he was in critical condition. So we waited and waited. Finally, after what seemed like years, the doctors let us go in, two at a time. I couldn't believe my eyes, he didn't even look like Mitchell. I wanted to tell the doctors that there was some kind of mistake because there was no way this was my brother.
     June 5, 2005, six months later, Mitchell's heart just quit. I was there, holding his hand when the doctors rushed in and kicked me out. Not long after that, Dr. Sim came out to tell my mom and me that he hadn't been strong enough and did not make it. I remember feeling like I was frozen in time, everything around me was normal, but I just couldn't budge. 
     Now I visit his grave every chance I get. I still feel empty inside and I know there will always be something missing because he's not here. But I will always remember how much love he held for everything around him.


Eighth grader Sabrina Rogers mournfully looks at once was a robust sculpture created in Mr. Seth Wolfshorndl's 3-D art class.

Room 210 Staff Writer
   Almost everyone knows about the nylon sculptures in Mr. Wolf's 3-D Art Class.
  Yeah, I made one! And I put it on Mr. Turner's desk so everyone could see it, because it's cool.
   But no, some people don't care about other people's works of art! So they destroy it and make it look horrible because they think it's funny and it is not!
   That was my baby, my world, and people ruined it because they thought it was fun. That was my life!
   But afterwards, it looked kind of cooler than it did before. And more and more people got to mess with it and it gets cooler and cooler. So we will see it turn into something cool. So it turns out, my baby is evolving art.
 (To check it out, go to Mr. Turner's room, Room 210.)

Room 210 Staff Writer
   A murder, a bank robbery and soon-to-be famous writer all in a small town; just not the same one. Look out, Joplin, Missouri, for your own South Middle School eighth grade communication arts teacher, Mr. Randy Turner's novel, "Small Town News," has hit the shelves and left them just as quickly since the publishing date of Sept. 22.
   A girl moves to a new town and and as she learns to adjust to her new school surroundings these two unfortunate events occur and she gets a chance to see just how the media works when dealing with this.
  For more information, read Melody Ketron's book review or better yet, read the book yourself.
   The first draft of the book took Mr. Turner approximately six weeks to write and was finished in the summer of 2003. For two years he has been trying to get it published before he found IUniverse, which gave him suggestions on how to strengthen the book.
   The novel was based on a true event, which was so disturbing that Mr. Turner had his students at his former school, Diamond Middle School, discuss and write about it. The person who went missing was the school's very own superintendent. It's a normal reaction when you see horrible things in the news to think "that will never happen to me." After the superintendent disappeared, Mr. Turner and his students talked about the way the media handled the story. That discussion inspired the book.
   Nr, Turner offers a bit of advice for young writers: "Write every day, every chance you get. Let people read your writing and ask for advice. Just write!"

Room 210 Staff Writer
People say on New Year's Eve that the new year is like starting over; like one of those magic boards that you can write on all day then lift the sheet up and start over clean. This is how I see this move. I can simply pull up the sheet on my life and start anew but that's not as easy as it seems; forgetting the past.
   My parents promised me on each of our moves that we were staying there until I graduate from high school, maybe longer...and we move every time. Again, I hear the same promise. Kind of makes you stop believing in tomorrow, doesn't it? Every night I would stare at the ceiling and rehash that day's events, knowing that tomorrow is a new day. I suppose that regardless of what other people have done or said, tomorrow could be better or worse, but there will always be a day that at least one good thing will happen that overpowers the bad. I taught myself this lesson.
   However, we bought the house here in Joplin, instead of renting and are hopefully staying through my senior year in high school, like they promised. This gives me mixed emotions. I miss Arizona. It was hot, yet the winters were wondrous there. I could usually wear shorts until Christmas. I also had a group of friends that I loved dearly. We dubbed ourselves the "Caboodles Clan," for most of our names began with a C, and we were extremely hyperactive and playful. One of my friends and I joked about being separated at birth. Then we narrowed that down to being simply half-brother, hafl-sister. We were that close.
   Then came the day that my parents introduced the idea of moving. I remember crying a lot that night. THis is how they always brought it upon me; "What are the worst things about your school here and what are the best?" Of course, I stated more bad things about the school than good because, well, I'm a child, a teen, but really still a child. Then they present the idea of moving. I distinctly remember saying that having my friends was worth more than all of the horrible things about school that I had listed. I knew that we were going to move anyway because my parents wanted out of the city, out of the heat, out of the smog, but they were considerate enough to let me stay until my seventh grade year had ended.
   When I told my friends of my parents' decision, their reactions were surprisingly calm...something like..."What?! And when were you planning on telling me this?!" Yes, those were the good ole days.
   I missed Arizona a lot during my first week in the new state. On the drive from the scorching desert to Missouri, I noticed subtle changes in the landscape. It went from desert with bushes... to grass and forest! I was amazed. Green was, indeed, not a myth! In Arizona, the land is different wherever you are. Contrary to popular belief, Arizona is not completely desert. In fact, if you travel 20 miles in any direction from the place that my grandparents live in north Airzona, the scenery changes tremendously. Toward the north, things were flat, desert-like, and had many long canyons and mesas.
   However, if you traveled east, the environment around you changed dramatically to ranchlands, and then changed to volcanic cones toward the west. South of there happened to be my favorite direction in which to travel, for the land was mountains and forests of tall pines, complete with elk and mountain sheep. It was gorgeous. Further south is where you hit desert. There is a saying in Arizona that goes, "If you don't like the scenery, turn around."
   The heat in Arizona is different, as well. I like to consider Arizona the frying pan and Missouri the stewpot. Shade in Arizona actually cooled you off when the temperature rose, and I have seen people walking on the white lines of the blacktop simply because it is much cooler. Here, however it remains humid, even in the shade.
   My first summer here progressed. I often found myself complaining about how I was never going anywhere with my friends, because I hadn't any. However, as school grew nearer, the trepidation seemed to wash over me as well. I'd been longing for school to start and now I wished that it wasn't so close, and yet, day by day it grew nearer until it was the day before school started and I was frantically speaking with my mother about how I've never before dealt with a locker, and other simple things like that; things that I have mastered now. She reassured me that I would be fine and so I lovingly trusted my mother. Besides, learning how to deal with it now is better than bothering with it in high school.
  Back to the story, I didn't get any sleep that night because we had made the mistake of getting a puppy the month before school started. She dutifully kept me awake as a puppy should. By the next morning, I was tired, grouchy, nervous and hungry. Of course, I settled the "hungry" factor, but the other attitudes remained as I climbed into the van to be driven to my first day of school. I can remember how fast and hard my heart was beating. I remember how parched and dry my throat was. This was shocking to me, for throughout the summer I'd complained about not having any friends here, not knowing anyone, and I've gotten over being shy, but I suppose that it's the same as before-performance jitters. There's always the possibility that the play is going to go horribly wrong and you never want the curtain to drop because of you. It's a difficult feeling to become used to. The first day of South Middle School was the same for me, as well.
   When we first got our lockers, which I had never experienced, for we had an outdoor school and were forced to carry our belongings through whatever weather we might have been having that day (which was mostly sun) from class to class. My lock refused to open for me, but was perfectly fine with opening for anyone else. Then again, I opened it once when I was trying to prove to my TA teacher that I had gotten a stubborn one. I met a couple of girls that were kind enough to help me with it that day.
   I loved all of my teachers, but that's not saying very much. I usually do, and I enjoyed most of my classes.
   During my second physical education class, a girl that I'd become friends with and I were chosen to be office workers. I sincerely believ that this helped me out tremendously in being a new student. I know where almost everything is, and I'm learning to become more friendly and outgoing in a new place. This was also the day that I made a friend just as crazy as myself, who also opened my locker for me at the end of the day.
   I noticed a large change in the attitude of people in these different areas as well. The adults on the staff at my other school were not as polite as those who spend their time in the office here. The majority of the population in Arizona, however, weren't really taught to be so kind and polite. TO be honest, the fact that there was a lack of trees gave the people a sense of freedom. We also had a large respect for the animals and plants there, for it takes a strong and special species to be able to survive in the desert. I've been told by a reliable source (I've always wanted to say something like that.) that living in Missouri, most people were taught to be a certain way, brought up to act in a certain way, while others, who live in Arizona, would prefer to discover things for themselves. Either way, the office workers here are better than those in Avondale, Ariz.
   The first two days of school, during which I received help and kindness, were the only two days in which I have had trouble. the rest of my time here has been fun, enjoyable, and I have to admit, though I would rather that my mother not know, that this move might have been a good thing.
   Though I would love to say that the first few weeks of school here in Joplin, Missouri, were an adventure, I have to push that thought aside.
   The adventure has just begun.