“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

-- J.D. Salinger, “The Catcher in the Rye”

Authors are capable of making a big difference in our lives. The stories they conjure from their imaginations have the power to change us. We can become so consumed in a book and its characters that we actually have this feeling deep in our souls that they are real. The truth, which is amazing, is that this world in its entirety came from the author’s creative mind. As J.D. Salinger says through the voice of Holden Caulfield, this realization makes us transfer our connection toward the characters to the author who created them, and we suddenly have the desire to become his or her best friend. “The Catcher in the Rye” is a novel that anyone, no matter the gender or age, can relate to. Authors can have an effect on the world that lasts for years upon years. William Shakespeare is a prime example. One of his most famous plays, “Hamlet,” has intrigued people all around the world, and will continue to do so. Shakespeare channeled his own experience, intelligence, and emotion into the writing of this play, and he was able to create lines that astound readers. They are able to connect with big concepts on a personal level. Then there are authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, who have such a great understanding of society. They create stories with such eloquence and art -- while at the same time raising awareness -- that they are deemed to be literary geniuses. It’s a skill to be able to choose a genre and make the complete best of it.
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Soccer has been my passion since I was a toddler. The field is my home; it’s where I belong. The grass is my bed; it’s where I dream. Playing soccer with your feet is one thing; playing soccer with your heart is another. When I learned that I was going to immigrate to the United States, I was afraid of what was to come. Leaving my friends was intimidating for a 12-year-old. I would constantly ask myself, “Is the United States different from Cape Verde? How long is it going to take me to adapt?” When I got to the United States, everything was completely different and strange. The fact that I didn’t know how to speak English made me feel inferior to others. I felt like an outcast, uncomfortable and isolated. Fortunately, everywhere I went, soccer broke the ice. Many times I would grab my cleats and walk to the soccer field near my house. Even when English was an unknown to me, I used soccer as my language. Two years ago, the first club team I ever played for participated in a state championship. We became a family. Everyone supported each other in victories or defeats. Together, we made it to the finals. But we did not prevail. It was as if the world collapsed when the referee blew the whistle for the last time. Looking at it from a positive perspective, I realized that winning wasn’t the main goal. The bonding among players was the most important thing. The event created so many good memories that will forever remain in my heart. Through this language that I relied on when I first arrived here, I have made many great friendships. Thanks to soccer, I am a more outgoing and confident person, ready to face any challenge.
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Two years ago, I had never heard of squash, let alone thought that it could change my life. When I first joined SquashBusters, I only thought about it as a sport that would help me stay active and let me be part of a community. However, throughout these past months, squash has transformed from an extracurricular sport to an experience that has taught me dedication and determination. At first, squash was overwhelming and I was confused at the way it was played. The ball was coming from different directions and my opponents were running circles around me. By practicing more and more, I was able to get better swings and win more points. People would always tell me that failure leads to success, but I always thought the opposite; that performing poorly at something not only discourages you from trying to achieve your dream but also leads to greater disappointment. Squash helped teach me that when life puts you down, we are the ones who decide whether or not to stand up again. As Michael Jordan said: “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
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Brazil is hosting the World Cup starting June 12. All the countries are excited because for a few days the world will be together. But the government of Brazil is running late. According to press accounts, in April, two of the soccer stadiums were still not finished. Meanwhile, people are protesting against millions being spent for a sporting event instead of social programs. They feel the country is abandoning its people for soccer. And they are upset at the corruption being exposed while the government readies for the Cup.
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I’d like to start off with the freshmen. At this point, you are beginning to realize the enormous difference between high school and middle school. As freshmen, your first priority is to keep a good grade average. It is up to you to really focus on your goals and self-motivation and think about the reason you are in school. It won’t be long until sophomore year comes around. The year goes by really fast. It feels like only months ago when my sophomore teacher would say, “Before you guys know it, you will take the SAT and you will soon realize that you are on your way to college.” Who would believe these words when you have two more years ahead? Well, he was right. Thinking that there’s a lot of time to slack off in school is one of the worst mistakes. As for the juniors and seniors, there’s two main goals: Study for the SATs and apply to as many colleges as possible. The SAT could be the most important test of your life. You have a lot of chances to take it, but the earlier the better. Senior year is stressful, yes, but that’s what you have friends and teachers for. You need to have a good relationship with your teachers and counselors because they will need to write recommendation letters for you. The best things that you can have through high school are friends who share a common goal of succeeding in life. Surround yourself with good influences and I guarantee that high school will be a walk through the park.
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