Friday, June 19, 2009

"Schooled" By Gordon Korman

Hey Herald readers! It's summer! How's your vacation so far? Well, if you have time, you should catch up on some reading. I just joined a summer reading program at a nearby library and read a book called "Schooled".

Capricorn (Cap) Anderson has been living with his hippie grandmother, Rain, in a farm commune named Garland ever since he could remember. Living alone by themselves, Cap was taught by Rain for years. Although he knows much about tai chi and Zen Buddhism, Cap has never eaten pizza or watched t.v. So, when Rain slips and broke her hip while picking plums, Cap experiences things that he has not known before.

While Rain is in the hospital recovering, Cap is sent to live with a guidance counselor and attend the local middle school. He is autmatically named as "the biggest nerd" by his new classmates and pranked on as he wears hemp clothes and has long,shaggy hair. He gets nominated as the 8th grade president but he barely knows anything about regular schools. How is he supposed to be in charge of one?

When I was reading this book, it made me realize that you shouldn't judge someone by their looks (though I probably already know that, it refreshed my memory). Cap was this shaggy-haired, hippie-looking boy who was homeschooled. But, he taught everyone about wisdom and thoughts from the heart. It's narrated by different people in the story to get their points of view of Capricorn Anderson.


Friday, June 12, 2009

The Hillwood Herald Summer Assignments

For those students who asked for summer blog assignments, please check the “weekly news updates” (the beige column along the right of the blog; see image). Each week, I will add new assignments.

Follow the same reporting and writing process that you used during the school year. However, no one’s name will be tied to a specific assignment, as all of this is optional. Simply pick the assignment that most interests you. You may also post book reviews throughout the summer.

Remember to use your good judgment and to consider what is appropriate to your audience. Also, always include any relevant sources, whether for written information or for photos and graphics. If in doubt, source and include a link. Ms. Moorhead will give you feedback directly in your post(s) each week. You can also email with questions or if you forget your password.

Enjoy and have a great summer!

Click on the first batch of assignments below:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

‘Flat Alexa’ Thanks the K–1st Graders

In December 2008, Alexa W., a second grader in Boston, asked Hillwood Academic Day School's kindergarteners and first graders to help with her "Flat Alexa" class project.

Like many schools, her teacher, Ms. Susan Misler, had her and her classmates make a cut-out image of themselves to be sent along with an empty notebook around the world. Alexa and her friends attend Newman Elementary School in Needham, Massachusetts. Alexa's notebook first came to Palo Alto and then San Francisco, California. It has also traveled to New Mexico. All told, the notebook was on the road for nearly seven months.

The photo at the top of the page and the video below show Alexa thanking the Hillwood kids for signing her book. Alexa's mother, Lynn, took the photo and filmed the thank-you note.

Miss Dawson's students signed the book and wrote about a book they were reading in class called The Gingerbread Girl. They were the first students anywhere to sign Alexa's book. As you can see from the photos, Flat Alexa spent several days in Miss Dawson's classroom, hanging out on the walls and making the rounds, visiting with students.

Flat Alexa comes from a long line of "Flat People." The first was "Flat Stanely," the title character of a 1964 children's book by the late author Jeff Brown. The book tells the story of how Stanley turned flat and started visiting friends in an envelope that could slide in and out of houses. In 1995, Dale Hubert, a third-grade teacher in Ontario, Canada, started what is now called the Flat Stanley Project. He asked other other teachers to take part by hosting flat visitors and to encourage their students to write their own Flat Stanley journals.

Also, Alexa's school seems to have a dog like Hillwood's Zach. Here is the dog's picture on the school site. Her name is Lucy.

Photo credits: Boston shots of Alexa W. are by her mom Lynn W. The San Francisco photos are by Miss Dawson.

The Herald gets Wired with Hillwood Alum Tony Long

A link to the past. That is what our school Hillwood is to many, especially those who go here and have been here.

Today The Herald interviewed Hillwood alum and copy chief, Tony Long. We asked him about his journalism and the field. We asked many questions that we all got great answers from and we also got exceptional advice about writing, journalism, and modernizing the reporting world. We also reminisced about his time here at Hillwood and what he took away from it.

Tony was here at Hillwood from 1957-1965, and in fall of 1965 his family moved to Los Angeles, where his dad took a job at The Los Angeles Times. He went to Cal State Fullerton, where he studied journalism. Tony also worked at the L.A. Times, and one of our home papers, the Examiner, where he worked for 17 years. Now Tony works at Wired, where Herald advisor, Laura Moorhead, used to work.

It was great to have him visit our classroom. Tony spoke to The Herald for about an hour, and he talked about the memorable friends he made, the life lessons that he learned, as well as the day that Mrs. Libra, the school's founder, came into his class crying, saying that President Kennedy had been shot and that the students could go home to their families.

Below are two videos, part one and part two of the interview. Also, here's what The Herald staff had to say about the interview:

Credits: Zack O. filmed the interview, and Irene X. took all of the photos.

The Life of the Journalist

During our interview with Mr. Tony Long, the thing that piqued my interest was the life of a journalist. Though Mr. Long only worked as a reporter at the LA Times for four to five years, he gave many details about writing and reporting. (After his work at the LA Times, he worked at the Examiner in San Francisco for seventeen years as an editor.)

He explained getting all the needed sources, getting the who, what, when, where, and why of a story. He also talked about how the reporting industry has changed since the 1970s.

Mr. Long is currently the copy chief of, a news site that is the sister publication of Wired magazine and covers technology and culture. He is also trying to get some of his fiction stories published.

Life Lesson: Tony Long on Figuring Out and Doing What You Like

When interviewing Mr. Tony Long for The Herald, I thought that the best part was how many things he tried before he went into the newspaper industry. He still has been at it for many years, and out of all the things he did, the the last one -- working as an editor in journalism -- was the thing that he really loved. He also writes fiction and would like to get a book published.

Mr. Long shows us that you should keep looking for something that you really like to do.

Photo credit: Irene X.

Mr. Long at Hillwood, Now at

When The Herald interviewed Mr. Tony Long, we found out some stuff about Hillwood from the 1950s to 1960s, when he was a student at the school. Tony attended Hillwood from kindergarten until seventh grade, when his family moved to Los Angeles so his dad could work at the LA Times.

During his years at Hillwood, Tony hung out a lot with his friends in the yard. Tony also quoted that "students these days are less afraid of their teachers," meaning they have a friendly rapport with them.

Right now, Mr. Long works at as the copy chief. One of his favorite parts of his job is working with nice and smart people.

During the interview, he gave us some advice about being a writer and some ideas about what to write and how.

Photo credit: Irene X.

Mr. Long's Inspiration and What's the Difference Between Blogging and Journalism

The most favorite thing in the interview with Mr. Tony Long was when he was talking about his experiences with Hillwood.

Also, I liked it when he talked abou his dad because it reminded me about my dad. Tony's dad was an inspiration to him, and it was his dad who wanted Tony to go to Hillwood.

Also, I like it when Tony made jokes. He told us a lot about blogging and writing. He talked about the difference between blogging and traditional journalism. Sometimes there is no difference, sometimes there is a big difference. Readers need to look for information about writers and see how many sources they have.

Photo credit: Irene X.

Who says a poem can't describe love?

Love flies, love floats
On rivers, in boats
or comes from above
on the wings of a dove

From family and friends
Love never ends
It comes and stays
though with yeas and nays

A bouquet of flowers
A sweet box of chocolates
A peck on the cheek
yes, something so meek

Alas, there it is
and always remember
Love does not come
and then leave in December

That is the poem that got me, Darien C. (pictured above), not only into Sacred Heart Cathedral High School on De Paul Scholar status, but also published in the 2009 Spring poem anthology: A Celebration of Poets.

I began to write this poem one morning after my mom and I had received and e-mail that my previous submission for the scholarship to Sacred Heart had not gone through. So I took that chance to be inspired and write a wonderful piece of literature.

For more info on the contest and to buy copies of anthologies check out

Photo credit: Irene X.

A Letter of Appreciation for Ms. Moorhead

Dear Ms.Moorhead,

Thank you for all of your hard work. Everyone here appreciates you and hopes you continue to teach us.

I especially enjoyed the class because I'd never done anything quite like it. Also, I'm pretty unfamiliar with the computer, so the computer/blog class was a new experience for me.

So, once again, thank you very much.

Brigette W.

Additional posts of thanks from Julien G., Irene X., Darien, Julian F., and Zack.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Origin of Seasons: Part 2

In class, the sixth to seventh graders read a story called "The Origin Of Seasons." It was about how Persephone, the Greek goddess of spring and daughter of Demeter, the goddess of fertility, got kidnapped by the evil underworld king, Hades. He wanted Persephone to become his queen so he tried to keep her underworld with him. But when she disappeared, Demeter was devastated and the weather turned horrible so the human crops won't grow. Finally, Zeus (the king) sent Hermes, the messenger, to fetch Persephone. But before she left, Hades gave her seven pomegranate seeds to eat. Therefore, Persephone would stay seven months underworld (Demeter is depressed so the weather is gloomy) and five months on Earth (when Demeter is overjoyed, the weather is sunny).

After we had read the story, we worked on an assignment called "Dramatization" and wrote a short sequel in scripts. Here is mine:

*The air is already cold*

Persephone: Oh Mother! I will miss you dearly!
Demeter: I'll miss you too, my darling!

*Hades appears in his chariot*

Hades: It's time to go, my beautiful queen.
Persephone: (sad voice) All right.
Demeter: (sarcastic) It's a shame you have to spend such a long time with an ugly immortal,Persephone.
Hades: (furious) Hey! Watch your mouth! You never know if I could persuade Zeus to let me keep Persephone all year long! (Persephone gives a squeak)

*Demeter glares at Hades*

Persephone: (Hugs Demeter) Good-bye, Mother! I'll see you in seven months.
Demeter: Bye. Take care of yourself.
Hades:(sly voice) Oh, don't worry. I will take cared of Persephone for you.

Photo credit: Ms. Moorhead

A Science Question and Answer

Care to know a little more about science? Or, would you like to test you knowledge? Here are some of the questions that we have recently been answering.

Also, last week, Irene X. wrote about some local science news —
the National Ignition Facility (NIF for short) celebrated the new laser in Livermore, Californa. Officials have said that there will be an estimated number of 3,500 people attending including Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and laser pioneer Charles Townes. In her post for The Herald, she explained how lasers work.

If you read Julien G.'s post about the Maker Faire, then you saw science at play.

Q:Choose the appropriate form of the word neutral for the following sentence: "An acid can be used to a base,forming water and a salt."

A: C - neutralize

Q:2-4-For each pair of terms, explain hoe the meanings of the terms differ.

A:2-Ionic compounds takes on or gives off atoms and a covalent combines with.

A:3-Acids increase the number of hydronium ions, but bases increase the number of hydroxide ions.

A:4-Ph measures concentration level of hydronium if it is a base,or an acid.

Q:Ionic compounds.........

A:b-are often brittle

Q:Both acids and bases.........

A:d-conduct electric current in solution

Q:An increase in the concentration of hydronium ions in solution........

A:b-lowers the ph

Q:The ph of a solution that is neither acidic nor basic is..........


Q:What type of compound would you use to neutralize a solution of potassium hydroxide?

A:I would use an acid

Q:List three properties that you can use to classify a compoundas ionic or covalent?

A:Ionic compounds have high characteristics and covalent compounds have low characteristics. Their characteristics are melting point, dissolve in water, and conduct electricity.

Q:What kind of ions are are produced when an acid is dissolved in water and when a base is dissolved in water

A:Hydronium ions and hydroxide ions.

Photo credit: Irene X. (Image of reporter Zack O.)
Contributors: Irene X., Laura Moorhead

Dramatization for ‘The Origin of the Seasons’

Here is a dramatization of ‘The Origin of the Seasons,’ which explains the myths of why the world has seasons. Persephone is a key character.

1. Persephone returns to the earth in spring.

Persephone: "Think god I'm back on earth, I hated being in the underworld with that jerk named Hades."

Demeter: "Well, I'm just glade you are back, and and you are right, he is a jerk."

Hades: "Well, this really isn't good. I thought that I could have her forever, or at least for the rest of the year."

Demeter: "Persephone, let us go and celebrate your arrival on this wonderful spring day."

Photo credit: Irene X.

Dramatizaton of The Origin of the Seasons

1.Persehone returns to the earth in Spring

Demeter:Thank god you cam back!
Persephone:Hi mom, it was awful. Finally I ate some food but only seven pomegranate seeds.
Demeter:Oh no! Why, that means you need to stay seven months in the underworld.

Hades: my plan did not work completely.She only ate seven seeds which means she could only stay with me for only seven months. Why not forever!!!!!