Through WCCUSD’s Ivy League Connection program, Hercules High School Students Justine Betschart, Stacy Chan, Ramiah Davis-Shephard, Louisa Man, Julia Maniquiz, and Yueming Wang will be attending Cornell University to either study Freedom and Justice or Hotel Operations Management during the summer of 2009.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Nice Twist

Today started with a rather nice twist. We all met downstairs at 10:15 to have brunch with Mr. Crossley. It was definitely different from our normal weekend routine, considering we generally meet at 12:00pm for brunch. It was not, however, too bad to get up early on a Sunday, considering I am rather accustomed to doing so. Breakfast at the Statler was definitely a nice change, and worth getting up for. I was surprised when Mr. Crossley informed us that he had requested the same waitress who served us at the breakfast we had two weeks ago. Another thing that really surprised me was that Mr. Crossley ordered for each of us; but what I think truly surprised me is that it is what I – and I think I can fairly say all of us, but I am not positive that I can do so – would have ordered: the brunch buffet. Although the food in the dining halls is in no way bad, the food at the Statler was a pleasant step outside of the ordinary. This was especially true for dessert which was delicious.

When we left Mr. Crossley we all knew it was time to hit the books; regardless of what else is going on, I know that what I take away from this class is the main thing that will truly last. I came back to my room and spent even more time reviewing the comments my TA gave me on the first draft of my Plato essay. Some of them were similar to the ones he put on my freedom essay. The reason I had not already tried to correct these issues by the time the first draft of our Plato essay was due was because we did not get our previous (freedom) essays back in time to do so. I have, however, been working on my writing in multiple aspects. At first his comments were concentrated more towards using simpler and clearer examples, but there was also a part of the text that I was thinking too much about. A part of The Republic is known as “The Allegory of the Cave.” It is how Plato explains that some are chosen to be exceptionally wise and subsequently to be the rulers over others. When I used this part of the text in my essay I focused too much on the details of the story, rather than its overall meaning; which is what I had to revise. I reread that section, and did my best. It would be very nice if teachers would give comments the way the TA’s do. It really helps me to see what I am saying clearly, and what I need to clarify for the reader. Also, there is no grade given when the papers are edited for comment, and I am not sure yet what exactly I think about that. It would be nice to know how far away I am from an A grade, but at the same time not knowing my grade pushes me to focus on what I am doing and how deeply I can get into the text.

I cannot wait until I am able to interview my roommate and get an in-depth look at how she feels. We actually talk quite a lot, and have really bonded over the past two weeks. I have also gotten to know the RCAs, and especially Leslie. She and I have had a couple of interesting conversations about Cornell and college life in general. Next time I see her I will be sure to mention the carnival.

Not do I feel like I have bonded with my roommate and the RCAs over the past two weeks, but also - as I have mentioned before – I truly feel closer to the rest of our Hercules group. I am also making outside friends, I am actually getting pretty close to the the students in my discussion group. It is interesting because some of them stay in the Balch dorm, so we do not see each other too much outside of class. We do however text each other, as almost all teenagers do.

I did in fact look up the Cornell alumni information, but unfortunately – because this is not my areas of expertise – I have been unable to find definite information. I have been able to find contact information for Cornell Alumni, but unable to find a specific location on campus. I will keep looking, and will make sure I get to speak with someone before I leave.



  1. Ramiah,

    An interesting story about your Sunday brunch. I was especially interested in the way you had to get up so early to make a 10:15 brunch appointment. I suppose, though, that each of us has his own idea about what early and late is. Here it is at 3:02 AM and I’m still at the computer blogging and some people might think that this is kind of late in the day. Likewise, when I wake on Monday morning sometime around 9:00 AM some people might say I’m sleeping in (with 4-5 hours of sleep). Everything’s relative.

    I’m wondering whether Professor Kramnick actually reads any of your papers or whether it’s all in the hands of the TAs. When writing a college paper, Ramiah, you don’t always have the luxury of using your own style. You usually have to tailor your writing to meet the specific needs of the person who’s reading and grading it. Learning what it is that that person is looking for can be difficult—especially in such a short course as yours.

    When dealing with students like yourself, I keep repeating the need for writing as frequently as you can. Whether it’s an essay, personal correspondence, a journal or even just emails, the more you do it the better you’re going to get at it (at least in theory—my father may be the exception.) The more you write the more familiar you become in developing different styles and it becomes second nature to you.

    I’ve been writing for a millennium or two and it’s easy for me to forget that you’re all just rising seniors in high school and you haven’t been forced into having to write on a regular basis. Nonetheless, I’m still going to harp on it because you’re going to be faced with some critical writing in the VERY near future. Whether it’s college application essays, scholarship application essays or even just regular class work, you’re going to be tested on your ability to put pen to paper and make your readers weep with the thrill of having read something as magnificent and inspiring as your words.

  2. Don is absolutely correct about the writing. My eldest daughter Adrianna has written a short story or essay literally every day since she was four years old. She took up this habit on her own. I am pleased that she has become such an accomplished writer. She is also a person who reads a great deal. It will serve you well to take Don's advice.

    Good luck this week with your final paper and the final exam. I hope that your time at Cornell has been productive. You can always ask Professor Kramnick where the Cornell Alumni Office is located. He will be helpful.

    By the way, I love the Plato's Allegory of the Cave. I am glad that you mentioned it. Last year when I read a lot of the Republic that certain passage caught my attention. His words about those who have higher ideals taking the role of leader resonated with me and helps guide me to do what is just and good. I have always thought about this in my work with the Ivy League Connection.

    I would strongly encourage our parents and sponsors to also read The Allegory of the Cave. It is a very good reading. Anyone can just "google it" and read it on the Net.

    Take care.

    Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
    School Board Member
    West Contra Costa
    Unified School District

  3. Ramiah,

    Mr. Ramsey is right, you can always ask Professor Kramnick or the TAs where the alum office is. Otherwise, try this info:

    Cornell Alumni Federation
    c/o Office of Alumni Affairs
    626 Thurston Avenue
    Ithaca, NY 14850-2490
    Ph: 607-255-3517

    I am happy to hear us focusing on writing. Both Cornell and Brown have mentioned it conspicuously -- and it cannot be said too often. It is also helpful to think of the different choices teachers make (in what they choose to correct and HOW they choose to correct their papers). This is giving you an opportunity to really see what works best for you -- and the ability to make some suggestions (or ask some pertinent questions) to your future teachers -- and also to the teachers reading this blog.

    I'm glad you're reading the Allegory of the Cave and I am looking forward to the response you get to your final product.

    It will be interesting to learn more about your roommate, as well.

    Enjoy your last week in (hopefully) sunny Ithaca.