In Context

Friday, May 28, 2010

Poetry 180

The following poem is from Poetry 180, A Poem a Day for American High Schools sponsored by The Library of Congress. Many Centennial seniors read The Things They Carried, a 1998 novel by Tim O'Brien about the Vietnam War, in English 12 classes.


Forrest Hamer

It was 1963 or 4, summer,
and my father was driving our family
from Ft. Hood to North Carolina in our 56 Buick.
We'd been hearing about Klan attacks, and we knew

Mississippi to be more dangerous than usual.
Dark lay hanging from the trees the way moss did,
and when it moaned light against the windows
that night, my father pulled off the road to sleep.

that usually woke me from rest afraid of monsters
kept my father awake that night, too,
and I lay in the quiet noticing him listen, learning
that he might not be able always to protect us

from everything and the creatures besides;
perhaps not even from the fury suddenly loud
through my body about his trip from Texas
to settle us home before he would go away

to a place no place in the world
he named Viet Nam. A boy needs a father
with him, I kept thinking, fixed against noise
from the dark.


from Call & Response, 1995
Alice James Books, Farmington, ME

Monday, May 10, 2010

English HSA Online Testing--May 18, 2010

HSA Testing Schedule for the week of May 17:
May 17 - Government
May 18 - English
May 19 - No Testing
May 20 - Biology
May 21 - Algebra
*The following link includes past tests for ALL subject areas:
Past HSA Tests--ALL Subject Areas

Testing Tips for Parents & Students:
  • Parents, please encourage your son/daughter and be positive; ask your child to discuss HSA class activities with you.
  • Be aware of test anxiety levels and reassure your child that the class activities conducted throughout the year have prepared sophomores for this important assessment.
  • Make sure your child sleeps well the night before the test and eats breakfast that morning.
  • Students will complete the HSA tests online. Parents and students can view a sample online test (students are doing this to prepare in English classes as well) on HSAonline practice (a direct link to Once on the site, select EPAT. Sample tests and answers are also available for downloading.
  • More HSA info and links are listed below under the heading ~English HSA online Resources~
  • No points are deducted for wrong answers. Therefore, students are encouraged to attempt all questions, even those about which they are uncertain.
  • Students, arrive at your assigned testing room early so you have time to get settled, relax, and focus.
  • Testing will begin promptly and last approximately three hours: there are three 50 minute sections with two five minute breaks.
  • Bring a snack and drink in your backpack. You will get a short break at the end of each section of the test when you may eat a snack/have a drink in the hallways outside of the computer areas, and use the restroom. A healthy snack will help keep you alert during the entire test.
Sophomores--remember that your families, teachers and administrators at CHS support you and wish you well. Just think, you are almost juniors!
  • Some content adapted on 5.03.09 from; thank you also to Shawn Hastings-Hauf and Kristen McManus for their contributions.

"Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"
Green Day Album: Nimrod, International Superhits
Written by Billie Joe Armstrong
Release Date: November 13, 2001

Another turning point
A fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist
Directs you where to go
So make the best of this test
And don't ask why
It's not a question
But a lesson learned in time

~English HSA Online Resources~

~English HSA Online Resources~

  • Maryland HSA Overview & History
  • Class of 2009--First Class Required to Pass Tests for Graduation
  • High School Testing Content & Data
  • High School Assessment Testing Calendar
  • Publicly Released Test Forms--2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
  • Answer Keys & Scoring Rubrics
  • Online HSA Courses
  • Testing Options/Accommodations
  • Contact Information
~from The Tragedy of King Richard II (Act 3, Scene 3) (1623) by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Yet looks he like a king: behold, his eye,
As bright as is the eagle's, lightens forth
Controlling majesty: alack, alack, for woe,
That any harm should stain so fair a show!

~from Moby-Dick (Chapter 96: The Try-Works) (1851) by Herman Melville (1819-1891)

There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.

~from Love's Phases (1899) by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Love hath the wings of the eagle bold,

Cling to him strongly
What if the look of the world be cold,
And life go wrongly?
Rest on his pinions, for broad is their fold;
Love hath the wings of the eagle bold.

~from What the Eagle Says (1999) by Xi Chuan (born Liu Jun, 1963)

Among men there are men who are not men, just like among eagles there are eagles that are not eagles: there are eagles that are forced to pace up and down the alleyways, and there are men who are forced to fly through the air.