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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Pennsylvania Ballet: The Nutcracker By George Balanchine

A Review by Sojourner Ahebee

On December 23, 2009, I attended The Nutcracker at The Academy of Music. What an amazing experience! The Nutcracker, a favorite holiday ballet, is about a young girl named Marie. The ballet opens on an Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaum house. The setting is festive and the danicng will surely put you in the holiday mood. One of the party-goers, Drosselmeyer , a toymaker and godfather to Marie and her brother Fritz, gives Marie a beautiful Nutcracker as a gift. Her brother Fritz then becomes very jealous of Marie’s present and breaks the Nutcracker ,but Drosselmeyer repairs it by using his almost magical handkerchief. After the party guests leave the Stahlbaum home, Marie falls asleep under the Christmas tree with the Nutcracker in her arms. She has a fantastic dream where toys become larger than life.

The opening scene is absolutely magnificent! The set design is to die for. It is beautifully put together and so realistic that the audience feel like it is inside of the story itself. Also, the children dancers play a key role in the ballet. More than 20 children dance their hearts out in this production. They always bring cheer and amusement to the audience members throughout the performance! The costumes were so fun and festive! The put me in the Christmas spirit immediately! My favorite costume in the opening scene is the costume worn by one of the little boys who attended the party. He wore a blue sailor suit.

The next scene starts. The Clock strikes midnight and weird things begin to happen. Marie begins to shrink and the Christmas tree begins to get larger. The toys under the tree magically come to life and the room quickly fills with an army of mice, which is led by the Mouse King. As the Nutcracker awakens, he leads his army of toy soldiers into battle with the mice. This is followed by an intense one on one battle between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker. The Nutcracker wins in the end. The scene closes. This is one of my best-loved scenes because of the MASSIVE
Christmas tree and the army of mice. As soon as the Christmas tree started to grow in size, I was blown away by the size and grandeur of the tree. This was totally unexpected. Also, when the army of mice and the Mouse King invaded the stage, I was thrown back by how life like the heads of the mice looked like. It was thrilling and exciting at the same time to see the mice travel the length of the stage.

The next scene starts. The Nutcracker turns into a Prince and takes Marie on a journey to the land of snow. This is a beautiful forest scene where they are welcomed by dancing snowflakes. At the end of this dance number a snow like substance begins to fall from the stage’s roof. The snow is so realistic! What a Winter Wonderland!

In the next scene, The Prince escorts Marie to the Land of Sweets where they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Prince tells her about their daring battle with the army of mice and she rewards them with a celebration of dances. This celebration of dances included: Hot Chocolate, Coffee, Tea, Candy Canes, Marzipan Shepherdesses, Mother Ginger and her Polichinelles, Dewdrop flowers, and last but not least The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. I just adored the dance of the Candy Canes. The costumes for this number were right on point and very Christmassy! The lead dancer, Jermel Johnson ,was extremely talented and received much applause from the audience.

In the last scene, Marie awakes from her dream and finds herself by the tree with her Nutcracker.

The curtains then close and re-open and the dancers come out to bow before the audience. This was a truly beautiful performance put on by the Pennsylvania Ballet! From the set designs to the costumes ,everything was done to perfection! Without a doubt, this is a must see holiday event that children and adults are sure to enjoy!

To get your tickets for the Nutcracker or other upcoming events by the Pennsylvania Ballet, just visit its website at: or call 215-893-1999! The Nutcracker will be performed until December 31, 2009 at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust StreetsPhiladelphia, PA 19102.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Great Art Gallery in the Neighborhood-Come to Open House

There are some books and movies and places that after experiencing them once, that one time is more than enough. You have no desire to revisit them. But, there are some things and places your soul almost craves-you need to visit them again and again. One of these kinds of places for me is LaReine Nixon’s art gallery.

Home Is Where The Art Is is a full service art gallery located at 5150 Hazel Avenue, in West Philadelphia. Though Ms. Nixon represents many artists and does custom framing and restoration, it is her own artwork that my family and friends are the biggest fans of.

I especially like how she portrays young people and I like how her perspective is both local and global. I also appreciate how she conscientiously chose to locate her gallery in a residential neighborhood where its residents, especially children, could see artists in action and examples of creative work. She is a model businesswoman and artist; an example to emulate or just be inspired by.

Above are a few of my favorite paintings by Ms. Nixon. Her talent and her concern for humanity clearly shine through. I urge my readers to encourage their parents to visit Ms. Nixon’s gallery. She is always so gracious to visitors and loves talking about art and its process.

You may visit any day by appointment, but Ms. Nixon is having a special open house on Sunday, December 27 at 2:00. For more information call 215-476-9638.

Home is Where The Art Is; Fine Art and Custom Framing
5150 Hazel Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19143
* The Paintings' Names are :
Mali Blues
In the Shade
Windows to the Soul
Casualty Of War
Africa I Am

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quadruplets Accepted at Yale

When my mom shared this story, I just smiled-big time!!! Here is Kenny, Martina, Ray and Carol Crouch. They are quadruplets from Connecticut who all won admission to Yale University under its Early-Admission Program. Here’s the link to read more about them and how amazing they are. Bravo!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

National Constitution Center Offers Winter Camp

For parents looking for a unique way to keep kids active in mind and body this winter break, the National Constitution Center is offering a new winter camp session, Growing Up, American Style Camp. This interactive experience provides children ages 6-14 with the opportunity to learn what life was like for kids growing up in America throughout history.

Growing Up, American Style Camp runs from Monday, December 28 through Thursday, December 31, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. An optional extended day program from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. is available for an additional fee. Registration costs are $45 for members and $50 for non-members. Registration is due by Monday, December 21,2009. You may call 215.409.6700 or email at for more information.

Campers will discover what everyday life was like for children in America throughout the Colonial, Civil War, Progressive, and Civil Rights eras. Through a variety of activities, including soap making, old fashioned games, a costume runway show, and etiquette classes, campers will learn how often children bathed, what they did for fun, how they dressed, how they were expected to behave, and more. Campers will also discover how kids have helped shape our nation’s history. From working on the family farm to fighting for our country’s independence, kids have been dancing to the beat of their own fife and drum for centuries. Campers will even take a journey back in time to experience a school day with the Little Rock Nine and march beside Martin Luther King, Jr. as he delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech.
The National Constitution Center is located at 525 Arch Street, on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall. Its website is

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rokia Traore-Give A Listen

Rokia Traore is a singer from Mali. Her voice captures what is beautiful and fragile and inspiring about Africa. Her sound is definitely different from what most of your ears are programmed to receive. Shake your head and give a listen.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Letters About Literature Contest

Sorry for the long silence, but I’ve been very busy with my schoolwork. I’m back and happy that the winter break is soon approaching.

I’ve read the most gut-wrenching books this past trimester. The kind that stretches your mind and makes you really wonder about the greatness of human beings and how low and terrible we can be. Two such books that I read which explored the Holocaust were Elie Wiesel’s Night and Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. After reading these books, I had many questions and comments for the writers. I had personal insights I wanted to share with them. I wanted to just hug them and let them know that their experiences and the books they wrote about them have made me want to be even a better person, a kinder person and a person who challenges head on any intolerance. There are opportunities for me and for you to share with a writer how much his or her book has profoundly influenced us.

The Library of Congress’s Center for the Book invites students in grades 4-12 to write a personal letter to an author describing how that author’s work changed their view of themselves or their world. Works may include fiction and nonfiction books, short stories, poems, essays or speeches.

Six national winners will be chosen from three different grade groups, and winners not only will earn cash prizes, but also a $10,000 Reading Promotion Grant for the school or community library of their choice.

The deadline is soon. December 12, 2009. For more information go to

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Suzan-Lori Parks at Bryn Mawr College

Last night I went to Bryn Mawr College to hear the playwright and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Suzan-Lori Parks. She was the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. She received it for her play Topdog/Underdog. She is such an inspirational speaker that I left the auditorium that night thinking: I WANT TO WRITE.

As a poet myself, I found Ms. Parks to be very helpful, because she answered so many of my unanswered questions, in such little time. For example, she started out as a playwright, and her very first production took place at a gas station and three people came, but that night became the most important night of her life. That night she felt she had made it as a playwright. ( She told us later the three people who came to the play were her mom, her dad, and the homeless man in the neighborhood, which still did not phase her. She had an audience who saw her play.) That story taught me, you have to believe in yourself and love yourself if you want to succeed, which Ms. Parks exceptionally did, and now she is a Pulitzer Prize winner, a MacArthur Genius Award winner and a well-known writer.

Also, Ms. Parks told a story of how she found herself. She told the audience about her senior year in high school, when she took an AP English class. Every week her class would have a spelling test, and every week she would fail, because she was not very good speller. At the end of the year, her AP English teacher and she were having a conversation about college. Her teacher asked her what she wanted to major in, and she answered, “I want to major in English Literature, since I love to write”. Then her teacher opened up her grade book and read all of Ms. Parks' spelling test grades and answered, “I don’t think you should major in English, you should major in something you are good at”, and Ms. Parks listened. So, when she entered college ( Mt. Holyoke) she majored in Chemistry. She hated this subject and later switched to English, which was her passion, which led to her encounter with the great writer James Baldwin. This story made me realize you have to listen to yourself and go with your gut, because others can not make your decisions for you or feel your passion.

When Ms. Parks finally switched to English, she took a short story class with James Baldwin. During the class they would read stories out loud and of course Ms. Parks being the drama queen that she is, read her stories with so much enthusiasm, and even stood up from her seat to read them. When Mr. Baldwin could take it no longer, he asked her a simple question: “Have you ever considered the theater, Ms. Parks”? From that moment on, she knew she had found her place. I thought the lesson of this story was important because it shows that sometimes you have to “test the waters” to find out what you really want. She is a wonderful person, an inspirational and entertaining speaker and writer I look forward to reading.

Ms. Parks appeared at Bryn Mawr College as a part of its 2009-2010 Creative Writing Program Reading Series.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Diana:A Celebration at the National Constitution Center

Last Thursday afternoon, I had the awesome opportunity to be part of the press luncheon for the National Constitution Center’s new exhibition-Diana: A Celebration. In preparation for this event, I had a lot fun reading and learning about Princess Diana. What a personality? What a person? What an exhibition?

Diana: A Celebration will give visitors the opportunity to learn about Diana, Princess of Wales and her work, especially her humanitarian projects. The exhibition is so fun and inviting that those of my age, who probably know very little about Diana, will immediately be impressed by her accomplishments and commitments as well as by her fashion and jewelry.

Diana; A Celebration covers more than 10,000 square feet of more than 150 artifacts organized in nine categories which include Childhood, Spencer Women, Engagement, Royal Wedding, Tiara Gallery, Style and Fashion, Her Work, Tribute and Condolences.

Being my girly girl self, of course my favorite section was the one that featured her wedding gown. It has more than 10,000 tiny mother-of-pearl sequins and pearls. The wedding gown’s silk train is 25 feet and it is the longest in Royal History and it was made from six different fabrics. I have a lot of stories and fun facts to share about this gown and other more important things about Diana and this exhibition. I will blog about them in several posts.

The items in this exhibition are on loan from the Althorp Estate, the Spencer Family’s 500-year-old home in England. Before her marriage to Prince Charles, Diana was Diana Frances Spencer. Charles Spencer, her brother, representing the Althorp Estate, attended the press luncheon as well. One of the above photographs is of him and me. The photograph was taken by Carol Feeley.

The exhibition opened October 2nd and runs until December 31, 2009.

Here are the basic facts you need to get down to the National Constitution Center and see Diana: A Celebration. Admission is $23.00 for adults, $21.00 for seniors and $15.00 for children ages 4-12. Active military personnel and children ages 3 and under are free. Please visit the center’s website to learn about the special speakers, family activities and other events which are tied to this exhibition.

The National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Independence mall
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Ticket information/215-409-6700

Monday, September 28, 2009

Taking A Stand Across a Bridge

It’s funny how once you learn a new word or about a new person, all of a sudden you see or hear that word or person everywhere. I told you last week that the One Book, One Philadelphia Committee chose The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi as its 2010 selection. Little by little I am becoming familiar with Iran and my interest in it is growing. My aunt sent me this link of Iranians, who now live in North America, who demonstrated last week in New York City. They were protesting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the United Nations.( I have a hard time pronouncing his name.) He is the President of Iran, but many people feel that he helped to rig the election in his favor. This past summer, Iranians had a chance to vote for a president and their choice was not honored. When they protested that the elections were unfair, they were abused by the military.

Anyway, here is the link to people taking a stand and not just accepting what they know is not right. I admire this!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2010 One Book, One Philadelphia-The Complete Persepolis

Kudos(I love this word) to Mayor Michael Nutter and all those who helped to persuade those who needed persuading to pass a budget that keeps our libraries open. Such an event like last night’s is why I love the Free Library of Philadelphia.
I got to see and listen to one of my favorite writers-Marjane Satrapi. She is an Iranian writer who wrote The Complete Persepolis. I read Persepolis I during the Great Books Program I participated in this past summer.

Marjane Satrapi appeared at the Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia Wednesday evening to not only talk about her graphic novels and this particular medium of telling stories, but to celebrate her book’s selection as part of the 2010 One Book, One Philadelphia. The Complete Persepolis is a graphic novel and memoir of Marjane Satrapi’s life growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and the war with Iraq, her life in Europe and her return to Iran. It’s a must read. There is also an animated movie of Persepolis which Marjane Satrapi helped to create.

Keep you eyes and ears open to learn of the many events around town sponsored by One Book, One Philadelphia. Its goal is to get the whole city of Philadelphia reading The Complete Persepolis and to learn that the people of Iran are very much like the rest us.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ringing Out Love-Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary

The main reason why my mom likes me to participate in chorus is because I get to learn and love songs that are not played on the radio or listened to by most of my friends. One of those types of songs I learned at Overbrook Elementary with Mrs. James. It was called If I Had a Hammer and I loved the way Peter, Paul and especially Mary sung this song by Peter Seeger.

Mary Travers died yesterday because of health problems. She was amazing not only because she had a great voice, but because she used her voice to challenge injustice. Today, I’m going to teach my little brother how to sing
If I Had a Hammer.

Here is a link to Peter, Paul and Mary singing this song.

Here are the lyrics to help you sing along. Let’s give a sing-out to Mary.

IF I HAD A HAMMER (The Hammer Song)

words and music by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger

If I had a hammer
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

If I had a bell
I'd ring it in the morning
I'd ring it in the evening
All over this land
I'd ring out danger
I'd ring out a warning
I'd ring out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

f I had a song
I'd sing it in the morning
I'd sing it in the evening
All over this land
I'd sing out danger
I'd sing out a warning
I'd sing out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

Well I've got a hammer
And I've got a bell
And I've got a song to sing
All over this land
It's the hammer of justice
It's the bell of freedom
It's the song about love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

©1958, 1962 (renewed), 1986 (renewed)TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. (BMI)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Please Act To Save The Free Library Of Philadelphia

Urgent! Urgent! Urgent! Tonight, I went to the Central Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library for a poetry reading. My mother read this evening along with several other female writers as part of an event in celebration of women writers. The event was great, but one of hosts of the evening, poet Tamara Oakman, told the audience that The Philadelphia Free Library’s Central Branch and all other branches are scheduled to close on October 2, 2009 because of lack of funds. I believe the Pennsylvania State budget has not yet been passed.

Follow this link to learn more about these closings and what you can do to help keep our libraries open. I am also asking my readers to share a story of a special time they had in one of the many branches of the Philadelphia Free Library and I will post them and past them on to our elected officials. Here’s the link. Do your duty!!! Let’s act!!!

Happy Birthday, Constitution!

Happy Birthday, Constitution. On the September 17th is Constitution Day. On this date in 1787, the Constitution was adopted right here in Philadelphia. The National Constitution Center is planning lots of activities to commemorate this event. To learn more go its website:

One of the planned activities is a naturalization ceremony where immigrants from around the world take the Oath of Citizenship to become citizens of the United States. I attended such a ceremony when my Uncle Osman became a citizen. It was an awesome experience for me to witness this.

Now, I’m curious! How many of you could pass the test to become a United States citizen? Here is the link to some sample questions found on the Naturalization Test.
Let me know how you performed.

Teenager: Anne Frank-Up on the Roof

This past Saturday, I was on top of the city, standing on the rooftop of the Parkway House apartment building, 13 stories high. The open space and the breathtaking view of Philadelphia’s nighttime skyline made me feel invincible and that all things were possible for me. I took this seemingly indomitable energy and sat down on a milk crate, alongside other audience members and we watched an actress, Anna Watson, transform into a girl just a year and some months older than me. There was Anne Frank, 15, all teenager, contained in an 8-foot-by-8 foot cube, telling us of her life in hiding from the Nazis.

The contrast between the open space of the rooftop and Anne’s cage-like cube made a physical impression on me; made me appreciate the physical restrictions of Anne’s life in hiding. But the play, Teenager: Anne Frank, presented by the 2009 Philadelphia Fringe Festival and Theatre In Between , made Anne Frank more of person I could identify with as a teenager. As a result of reading The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne was always a heroine to me, someone completely out of my league. But this play, directed by Frank Bruckner, makes Anne a girl who shares the same interests and problems that I have. When we first meet Anne, she is excited about her first kiss with Peter van Pels. She’s excited by love just as she is often angry at her mother for numerous things. Does this sound familiar? This is the success of Teenager: Anne Frank; the play makes Anne so familiar and Anna Watson’s portrayal of Anne makes her someone that you genuinely care about.

I find now that my reaction to Anne’s life and death and the Holocaust, in general, is much stronger because I can see myself in Anne Frank. This play should definitely be seen by young students to not only make them care about Anne, but to help them begin to think of ways to challenge injustice and intolerance.

I would like to thank Richard Watson for giving me the opportunity to review this play.

Show Details
September 15-20, 2009

8pm (all dates)

Runtime: 60 minutes

Price: $15

Location: Parkway House, 2201 Pennsylvania Ave, Philadelphia,PA

For Tickets: call 215-847-7365 or visit the Philly Fringe website

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Teenager: Anne Frank Presented by the 2009 Philly Fringe Festival

Understanding the horror of the Holocaust is difficult for any decent human being, but it is especially hard for children to process this event. I find reading books or seeing films that are from the perspective of young people about their Holocaust experience makes history real and relevant for me. Reading books like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas or The Devil’s Arithmetic helped me to care about what happened in the past and makes me challenge intolerance now. Of course, the book most of us read as our introduction to the Holocaust was Anne Frank’s Diary. How we all loved Anne and sympathized with her. It was Anne who caused me to start to care about injustice and intolerance.

But Anne was also a teenager. I can’t imagine coming into my own sense of myself under the circumstances Anne did. Thanks to actress Anna Watson and director Frank Bruckner audiences can get a glimpse of Anne Frank, the teenager and not simply Anne Frank, the icon.

As part of the 2009 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Teenager: Anne Frank will be presented. I will review the play for you in a couple of days. In the meantime, here is more information about the play.

Teenager: Anne Frank (Philly Fringe Festival)
Performed entirely in a PVC cube, on the roof of a 13-story building, this one-woman show explores the awakening sexuality, isolation, and hopes of the teenager who became the iconic Anne Frank. Presented by the German artists, actress Anna Watson and director Frank Br├╝ckner, as part of the 2009 Philly Live Arts & Fringe Festival.

SHOW DETAILS 8:00pm, Sept 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18
Parkway House, 2201 Pennsylvania Ave.
Tickets: $15 general / $10 students Call 215-847-7365 or
go to THEATRE INBETWEEN to learn more
*Painting 'The Face of the Holocaust" by Aaron Douglass
Photo-Anne Frank
Photo- Anna Watson performing in Teenager:Anne Franck

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thanks, Mr. President !

I just finished watching President Barack Obama’s nationally televised speech to students, which was extremely inspirational for the start of the school year. After listening to President Obama’s message, I am ready to set all my goals higher and work even harder. It is really unfortunate that not all school students could tune into the speech. I can’t understand all the fuss over our President urging young people to stay in school, work hard and aim high. Aren’t these good things to encourage? We all know the reason why some people were against their children and students listening to President Obama. It has more to do with the messenger than the message, but I won’t say more.

Here is a link to the text of the speech President Obama delivered to students nationwide.
Here is a link to a video of the speech.
*Photo of President Obama/AP Photo-Gerald Herbert

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Girls Dream Out Loud

I love my grandparents’ magnolia tree and rose bushes and azalea shrubs. But, I never really examined, on a conscious level, what these creatures of nature look like. For example, how do their leaves differ from one another or how do their scents compare to one another. After being introduced ,by the most amazing teacher, Lillian Dunn, to the writing of Annie Dillard, my observation skills have improved. This is now reflected in my writing.

Some of my writing is more lyrical and magical because of my introduction to the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And my introduction to the writing of Anne Sexton made me appreciate how some writers are ahead of their time. (Thanks, Tamara Oakman.)

As you know, I participated in some amazing programs this summer. The one program that stretched me the most in terms of my writing, my appreciation of other writers and the literary scene of my region is Girls Dream Out Loud. Hosted at Bryn Mawr College, Girls Dream Out Loud is program that aims to empower girls through their participation in creative projects.

I was part of the Blue Tree group which is for girls in 7th to 12 grade. The way this program is designed is kind of like college in that you get to select a major and a minor focus for your studies. You get to choose from a variety of interesting topics. I chose Creative Writing as my major and From the Ground Up, which was a course to help you design a community service project, as my minor.

I did a variety of writing which included memoir, nature and poetry projects. My teacher, Lillian, who worked us hard, has no idea what seeds she has planted. I am more on fire about how to capture the world in words. Not only did students learn about other writers and how to use these writers as models, Lillian took us to all kinds of venues for us to read our work with other established writers. We went to college coffeehouses like Milk Boy and to the Central Library of Philadelphia. These experiences made me and the other girls feel like we were real writers, reading and performing with our peers.

Girls Dream Out Loud is a both a summer residential and day program which runs for two-weeks. It has a program for younger girls as well. I want to thank with all my heart Samantha Razook Murphy , the director of Girls Dream Out Loud, for allowing my dreams to grow. And of course, I am grateful for the incredible friends I made while participating in this program.

For more information about Girls Dream Out Loud, visit its website at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kimmel Center Youth Jazz Ensemble Auditions

Kimmel Center Education Department welcomes all young musicians, grades 6 – 10, to audition for the Kimmel Center Youth Jazz Ensemble on Saturday, September 26, 2009 from Noon to 3pm in the Kimmel Center’s Merck Arts Education Center.

Those interested in auditioning must register online at or by calling the Education Projects Coordinator at 215-670-2371 by Wednesday, September 23, 2009. Auditions consist of sight reading and improvisation. All materials are supplied. There is no charge to audition or to participate in the ensemble.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Spark Science Program at Brown University

A lot of us say we want to be doctors or lawyers or businesspeople, but we really have no idea what steps and hard work are actually involved in becoming those professionals. For example, I sometimes think I would like to be a doctor, especially one who deals with tropical diseases. But, prior to going to the SPARK Program this summer at Brown University, I have to say I knew next to nothing about what body of knowledge a doctor might have to master nor did I know any basic human anatomy.

Spark is a summer science program for middle school students. This program is run by and hosted at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Spark is designed for students who love science and want the challenge of exploring one scientific concept in a rigorous, but noncompetitive environment. Each student takes one course for one week. I took Understanding the Human Body; An Exploration of Anatomy. I dissected a sheep’s heart and brain, a chicken’s wing and the body of a cat. From the photographs, you can see me and my friends are having a blast.

Other courses one can take are Forces of Nature: Hurricanes, Global Warming, and the Science of Weather, Hello from Mars , Species Survival Plan: The Fight to Save the American Burying Beetle, From Brain to Sensation, The Laboratory Detective, Designing Mobile Machines: Robot Rover Derby, Nanotechnology: The Small Wonder from Atom to Space, So You Want to be a Scientist? and Where Rivers Meet the Sea: Ecology of Narragansett Bay .
To learn more about the Spark Program at Brown University ,visit its website

Sunday, August 23, 2009

National Liberty Museum's Young Heroes Award-2009

By Sojourner Ahebee

In the National Liberty Museum, there is this incredible piece of glass sculpture called The Flame of Liberty created by Dale Chihuly . It stands 20-feet tall and it soars, with its orange-red appendages ,through the museum seemingly spreading the important message of the National Liberty Museum-that liberty is beautiful and fragile and that people of all ages must work together to create and maintain something as gorgeous and affirming as peace and liberty.

Too few adults, organizations and businesses recognize the amazing work young people are doing to improve their communities. This cannot be said of the National Liberty Museum. For the past nine years, it has presented the Annual Heroes Award to young people who have according to the museum staff “reached beyond themselves with compassion, commitment and service. Qualifying achievements include volunteer work, civic involvement, promoting appreciation for diversity, conflict resolution, mentoring and other leadership roles.”

On Auguste 13, 2009, 26 young people, ages 11-18, were honored to receive the National Liberty Museum’s Young Heroes Award. This year I was included in this number because of what I seek to do with this blog; that is to inform young people about great opportunities and to share ideas. I was also honored for the greeting cards I make to inform my community about the accomplishments of other phenomenal people.

But that afternoon was amazing for me not because I was one of the honorees, selected from hundreds of applicants, but because I was in the company of so many young people striving to make their communities safer, healthier and more informed about various local and world issues.

Some of the honorees raised thousands of dollars for various health projects that support those challenged by breast cancer and epilepsy. Others raised awareness in their community about such issues as the genocide in Darfur. Others tutored, feed the hungry, did peer mediation to name a few things. Though we were all winners, one of the 26 honorees, Van Morn, was recognized for his exceptional work. To read more about him click on this link. He received a laptop computer and $1000.00

The award ceremony was sponsored by TD Bank. I would like to thank Nick Ospa, Gwen Borowsky, Kevin Orangers and all the staff of the National Liberty Museum. I thank Mona Washington extra for nominating me. But, my biggest applause goes to my fellow honorees. Here are their names:

Just Do It Committee Jeffrey Urbano
Kara McDonald Ashley Myers
Kelli Thompson Ayana Choeun
Mahir Shah and Sam Udotong
Mike Ruane and Erika Rech Atasha Jordan
Danzeill Martin Brianna Gibbs
Brionna Merritt Daniel J. Gaffney
Amanda O’Neil Betsaleel Severe
Iesha Moore TJ Lonergan
Dominic Mancuso Demetrius Terrell
Erica Marie Mendez Sadia Qureshi
Minyung Cheong Nick Hammond
E. Gunnar Burgin Van Morn

The National Liberty Museum
321 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19109

What a Man, What a Man, What a Man-Malcolm X

Tonight on WHYY, TV 12, I watched the Malcolm X movie directed by Spike Lee and starring Denzel Washington. I didn’t know much about Malcolm before seeing this film, but it really opened my eyes about this period in history. This is a must see film. Tomorrow, I ‘m getting a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Who ever said that American History is boring?

I wish all my Muslim friends a blessed
Here is a link to Mr. Ossie Davis' Eulogy for Malcolm X. This is so moving.