Table of Contents
Classes Learners Want by Annika Elliott
Voicing Our Views by Chase Williams
Dueling Editorial Percy vs. Potter Part I: Percy Jackson by Mia Sharp
Step Into Diverse Reading by Wenyuan Abel
Ezria Graul Takes the Stand by Haydn Reilly Hogan
Day In the Life of Otter by Lila Jackson
Fun & Games by Sophia Serrano-Dodd
Classes Learners Want
By Annika Elliott
Spring is when the fabulous instructors of VH propose classes for next year. The wide variety of classes sets VH apart from traditional schools. Instructors dream up amazing courses like Hogwarts Academy, Unsung History: Queer Musicians, and Inside Broadway. Learners also have great ideas for new classes.
Ada, age 10, has quite a few class ideas. Her love of animals led her to suggest a class about urban wildlife for ages 5-10. While many instructors could teach this class, Ada thought that either Annika Abel or Deb Guerrero would be great at teaching it.
Ada also suggests a class on geology, about specific rocks and more information about them. Ada says Deb Guerrero would be great at teaching this one, too. Homework would be required for this class but there would not be a ton of it.
Carina, age 15, had many great class ideas including a class about women who changed the world and what they did. This class would go into detail about great women in history for the 13+ age range with some homework required.
Cultural anthropology was another suggestion from Carina. It would be a history class about ancient cultures such as the Mayans, Romans, and Greeks. It would explore ancient artifacts and give history about them. This class would also be 13+, and it would definitely be a homework required class.
Some other VH teens also suggested courses. Aaron would like a class on finances and investment for the 14+ set. A history class on conflict and war would interest Robert. Chase said a tech class focused on hardware and building technology from the ground up would interest him.
When the class schedule comes out in August, maybe some of these courses will be there!
Voicing Our Views:
A Trip Down Mermaid Avenue
By Chase Williams
Billy Bragg and Wilco, Mermaid Avenue
Almost all of us have heard a song by Woody Guthrie, whether we know it or not. He wrote some of the most iconic American songs ever and is considered by some to be the best American folk singer and writer. Some of his best known works are “This Land is Your Land” and “This Train is Bound for Glory” which are both hugely popular, although maybe not so much today when Ariana Grande and Cardi B dominate the billboard.
Guthrie was always writing music, right up to his death in 1967. This left a lot of unpublished songs from his career. It was in 1992 when Woody Guthrie’s daughter, Nora Guthrie, decided some of these lost songs should be heard. Nora didn’t just want more Woody Guthrie, she wanted to modernize the music so that a younger audience would pay more attention to it. To do this modern take, she contracted British singer Billy Bragg and the American band Wilco, and out of that collaboration, Mermaid Avenue was bor
Mermaid Avenue is full of amazing songs— some of them being my all time favorites— but one of the best and most well known is “California Stars” which is a simple yet beautiful song consisting of only 4 chords, 2 repeating verses, and the end. The song, as I interpret it, is about someone who’s distant from his loved one and just wants to see them again. In the end, he finds solace in the watching stars above him. This might be because Woody left home when the dust bowl struck and later met with his family again in California (hence California stars). But of course, the song can mean whatever you want it to mean.
The story is only the start to why this song is so good. The real beauty is in the delivery. It is speckled with hints of Woody’s life, like the comparison of the stars to grapes, which is a connection to where as a dust bowl refugee he had to work extra jobs at orchards and vineyards picking fruit.
The music is so full, yet so minimalist at the same time. All areas of the music are deep and rich with the standard instruments you would expect: bass, drums, guitar, as well as less conventional instruments like the fiddle and slide guitar coming in and out. The minimalism comes from the repetitive nature of the song, (just alternating between 4 chords) but it still manages to keep your attention. At the end, the instruments start dropping off until you’re left with only guitar and some soft drums. This song has a feel to it that no other collection of musicians could have produced and pays homage to Woody’s legacy.
If you want to listen to the song or even the whole album, which I highly recommend, then here are some links:
Broaden your musical horizons with California stars
Take a trip down Mermaid Avenue
Dueling Editorials Part I:
By Mia Sharp
Distinguished readers, today we are here to debate something that has been troubling book nerds’ minds for generations. It is a question that since the year of 2005 has been asked non-stop. A question, so difficult, so peculiar, so mind-boggling. Which is the superior series: Percy Jackson or Harry Potter? I will be arguing the case of the underdog, Percy Jackson.
I know what you’re thinking: Percy Jackson, better than such a popular franchise? However, I have three main points: diversity, the longer story, and the main characters themselves. If these sound fascinating, then do read on. For anyone who has not read the books before, I will give you a small spoiler warning.
Reason Number One: Diversity
To put this in perspective, the first Percy Jackson book, The Lightning Thief, came out in 2005. In 2005, when seeing a person of color or a queer person in your favorite series was pretty uncommon. However, in Percy Jackson, we have inspiring characters that are African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, etc. For example, there’s Hazel Levesque, Frank Zhang, Piper Mclean, and Leo Valdez. These characters are all people of color and are part of the seven most powerful demigods in the world, with powers varying from controlling rocks and minerals, controlling fire, shapeshifting, and master persuasion. Together, these characters defeat the literal earth goddess.
Now, I am very much aware that this diversity is not the best-written. It is a tad white-washed, as most things are when written by a straight, cis, white male. We should always strive for the best diversity. Although The Lightning Thief was progressive for its time, we should always try to improve.
Along with that, we also have a gay male throughout the series: Nico di Angelo is the son of Hades, who is one of the three most powerful gods. His powers allow him to travel anywhere through the shadows and raise the dead. We even get to see him start dating Will Solace, son of Apollo, later on. We also see characters who identity as bi-sexual, lesbian, and genderfluid. Again, it would probably have been written better if the author wasn’t a straight, cis, male, but it is appreciated and I was shocked to find out it is actually in the books, and not something from the fandom.
Reason Number Two: More Books
We’ve all had the experience of finishing a series and wishing that the fantasy wasn’t over. While all good things come to an end, Percy Jackson doesn’t end so quickly. The Harry Potter series only has seven books in total. On the other hand, we have Percy Jackson and The Olympians (PJO), a series with two sequels. Each series has a total of five books each. This means you have fifteen books in total of a thrilling, young adult fiction (YA) adventure. That’s not even counting the several other smaller books, filled with a ton of short stories related to the main series. You don’t have to say goodbye to your comforting characters as fast compared to the Harry Potter books!
Of course, you also get a full story from PJO alone, so you can stop there and be satisfied with a killer ending. But if you’re interested and invested in the story, there’s so much more! Now, time for the final reason (as if you weren’t already convinced).
Reason Number Three: The Main Characters
Don’t get me wrong, Harry Potter is a decent main character; however, Percy Jackson is just more interesting to read about. I can prove it.
Percy can control any form of sea water, speak to sea creatures, sail anywhere at a master level, and literally create his own hurricane. He defeated a god at twelve years old using his powers alone. Harry, on the other hand, needs a wand and the skills to use it to defend himself. Or just to do anything cool.
Percy is funny and has another life outside of being a hero. Harry is just sad, like, all the time. Percy has family, friends, and he’s even on the school swimming team. Even in the darkest of situations, Percy manages to keep a sense of humor and cracks jokes. Harry, while having some hobbies, just constantly seems mundane. Like, he’s just “The Chosen One” and nothing else.
When it boils down to it, it really just depends on personal preference. I like both of the series, but I just like Percy Jackson more. If you would rather read a story about a traumatized teenage wizard boy with a stick over a story about a demigod with water powers strong enough to take down a god… Then be my guest! Reading does depend on what makes the reader entertained. Hopefully, this shows you that Percy Jackson is more entertaining, and overall the better of the two series.
Coming soon to Village Voice: Is Potter Better than Percy?
Bibliophiles: Step into Diverse Reading
By Wenyuan Abel, Guest Reporter
Bibliophiles is a great class for learners who love reading. This class, for learners ages 10-12, is taught by instructor Annika Abel. It meets Mondays at 9:30a.m. on Zoom.
Bibliophiles covers a bunch of great books every term. There are also fun activities and conversations that engage learners each week. The books in this class are very interesting with good plots and great characters.
Another great thing about Bibliophiles is that the books are diverse. The class reads books in lots of different genres including fantasy, historical fiction, and fictionalized memoirs. The characters come from different backgrounds and cultures.
In Fall term, the class read The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, and Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhhà Lai. This term the class is reading Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor, Surviving The Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan, and Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan.
Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry is about a Black family in Mississippi during the Great Depression. Surviving The Applewhites is about a homeschooling family of artists. Mañanaland is set in a fictional Latin American country and is about a boy on a journey seeking answers about his family.
In Spring term, the class will read Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed which takes place in Pakistan. We’ll also read the fantasy classic A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes which is about two biracial brothers.
Instructor Annika Abel has taught literature classes at Village Home for three years. Learners really enjoy her classes, and in fact, three learners have taken her lit class all three years!
Ezria Graul Takes the Stand
by Haydn Reilly Hogan
A community is made up of people you can rely on to have your back, and VH learner Ezria Graul’s favorite part about Village Home Mock Trial (VHMT) is exactly that. She loves working together with a team, and says that even though getting sidetracked and going off topic to discuss something with your team isn’t very productive, it’s also one of her favorite parts of the whole class.
14 year old Ezria has been attending Village Home since she was 5. She’s currently taking Taekwondo, On Camera Acting, and VHMT, as well as participating in the Beaverton Learner Council.
Ezria started taking VHMT in September of 2020. In class learners prepare for competitions where they take on different roles in a court case, some learners portray attorneys while others play witnesses. VHMT teams compete against other student teams. Portraying a character and bringing the creative elements of VHMT to life have come naturally to her.
According to Ezria, “It’s absolutely hilarious to be on the sidelines watching a debate go down. I also love the team work! It’s a great feeling when you’re stressed about something you need to write, and you just sit down with your team and get it done.”
She has learned a lot from Mock Trial, including how to improve her public speaking skills. “I knew that joining Mock Trial would help me with public speaking, which I struggle with and want to get better at.” she says.
Mock trial has also helped her make some new friends within the community, and the law aspect has been particularly beneficial. Ezria says that she’s “Learned a lot of laws which I kept telling myself I should sit down and learn, but I’ve never had the motivation to do so.”
Going into VHMT for the first time online didn’t worry Ezria much because she figured it would be less overwhelming than an actual courtroom, and she’s happy with how it’s gone so far. However, she does hope to get to compete in-person in a real courtroom sometime soon, since Zoom can be especially draining.
The hardest part about VHMT for Ezria so far has been nerves. “I almost didn’t join because of that reason,” she says. But she reached out to some friends in VHMT as well as the instructor, Deborah Mueller, and ultimately decided to give it a try.
VHMT competitions can get stressful, and the best advice Ezria has for new learners is to “Take it slow and breathe! It gets intense and intimidating, but just taking a breath can really help […] That was the main advice I got as a newbie, and one of the most helpful.” So far Ezria has found that the more she practices and works with her team, the easier it gets.
Deborah and the VHMT alumni who assist in class have been very helpful towards Ezria. They’ve worked with her and her team to give feedback and constructive criticism, which has really helped her improve. It is, in her opinion, one of the most beneficial things for a learner to receive.
Ezria is glad she joined VHMT because she loves the classroom dynamic. She says that VHMT is “A group who will support you when you need it the most.” Ezria highly recommends this class to her fellow VH learners.
Day In The Life of Otter
By Lila Jackson
Otter are you at the mountain? That looks like a lot of fun! It looks like it’s really cold. It’s good you got a sweater so you can stay warm. The mountains are really beautiful! Did you go skiing or snowboarding? Or did you just sled and play in the snow? Well we hope you have fun!
Fun & Games
By Sophia Serrano-Dodd
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