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  • The “Class”

    Avery, Naim, Aaron

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Naim’s Essay

So here is the backstory. Naim and I went on a Village Home field trip to the Oregon Jewish Museum last February for an Ann Frank exhibit. The docent there told everyone there (kids from about 7 to high school) about the Sala Kryszek Writing and Art Competition. She handed out a little flyer that had a writing prompt and told how to submit entries. Then, she came up to Naim and I afterward and totally went off about how insightful Naim was and how he is special and how he really should enter this contest. We even talked to her about how he is not really into art that much but maybe he could write something.

So we went home and he worked on this essay for probably about three to four weeks. He first spoke his ideas into his iPod Touch using Siri. Then I helped him trim the ideas down (like I got rid of all the “and, uh” type of things and fixed words that Siri got wrong and I put spaces in between each sentence/thought. Then he printed them out and cut them into strips and made an outline. He took a big piece of paper and glued the strips into the appropriate space on the outline. Then he retyped it in that order. I proofread and copyedited it and did give him some ideas on how to better transition from paragraph to paragraph. He made the corrections. Then he gave it to me to submit.

So, it wasn’t until I submitted it that I actually read the rules on the website. (Oops! I had read the flyer, but the flyer did not indicate age ranges.) I found out on the website that this contest is only for middle and high school kids. So, I don’t know. The docent GAVE Naim the flyer and encouraged him to enter. He does NOT look like a middle or high school kid. I think she might have even asked him his age. But, she is a volunteer, I believe so maybe she didn’t know. Anyway, we decided to enter anyway. But, alas! He was disqualified because of age. 

He was a bit disappointed, but he said what he really wanted was for people to read it, not to win so much. So I said, well, they probably did read it? But he thought they might have just looked at his age and thrown it out. So, he asked if I would publish it online and throw it around a bit so that his work wasn’t in vain. I really wish I could find another appropriate competition to enter it into, but I have not yet. It is a bit sad for me to read in a way because, seriously? He hears people say his father should die? But it is important to him and it is a good first essay, I thought. He worked hard on it. So, without further ado:

Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

Sala Kryszek Art and Writing Competition

March 13, 2015

 

 

We Should Respect All Life
by Naim Ferris

 

When I visited the Ann Frank Exhibit at the Oregon Jewish Museum, I learned that people with disabilities were killed in the Holocaust. According to The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, over 70,000 people with disabilities were killed and others were used in medical experiments without their permission. I saw how much The Holocaust was and still is a source of fear and that Hitler gained power by using fear. People like to be powerful to be a step above everyone else and to have authority. Hitler used people’s differences to gain power. Treating people differently is a simple and easy way to make some people powerful and other people not powerful. Although people are learning that Jewish people and other minorities are not so different, disabled people are still treated as different. I think this is outrageous and I do not believe they should be treated as such.

I have three disabled parents. My mother is vision and hearing impaired. My father uses a wheelchair and my stepfather is blind. It is normal to have disabled parents. The only thing that is different is that they always have to prove themselves. They sometimes have difficulty getting jobs because people think that they are incapable, yet they won’t admit that is what they think.

My mother is a kind and loving parent, who can teach my brothers and me reading and math, handle a guide dog, talk to people and have her own business. My stepfather makes us breakfast and is a really good cook. We talk about good things and bad things. Sometimes we nerd-out on the couch. He teaches me and teaches other people about technology and we go a lot of places. He can cross streets, clean, bake and laugh. My father is quadriplegic and has been in and out of hospitals. He is special because he is able to handle lots of stress and deal with situations in a very bright light and stick to what are the main things about being a parent. People sometimes say my father doesn’t deserve to live because he is a so disabled. He has value because he exists. He is nice and smart and is good at math and fixing computers and answering questions. He helps me and teaches me things.

There are a lot of advantages to having disabled parents. We get to have our guide dogs go with us everywhere. My parents can problem-solve and can handle a lot of different kinds of put-downs. They don’t get upset about things and don’t let little things get them down. People think having disabled parents is a bad thing, but it is mostly a good thing.

Most people have things that they are good at or not good at, but maybe they would not be considered disabled, like not being able to cook or do math or stay in shape. A large percentage of the world’s population is disabled people if you think of it like that, so putting one group down because they can’t see or hear or walk doesn’t make much sense. I think mostly people treat them differently because they may look different or do things differently. They might have some challenges, but the biggest challenge is how they are treated by society. They have the same dreams, feelings and rights as everyone else.

I would like people to treat disabled people as individuals and not like they stand out as something to stare at. People should just treat them like they want to be treated themselves. People should ask questions if they don’t know what to do or how to act, but ask the person and not someone else. Trust them to tell you about themselves and not other people who may want to put them at a disadvantage.

Disabled people should be cared for like everyone else, because life is a life worth living. If Hitler had been successful, there would have been no disabled people. If there were no disabled people, I think that would be awful. A lot of problems would not be solved because they see the world in a different way and know how to find solutions to difficult situations.    In the Holocaust people with disabilities were dying. Currently, there is still a lot of unfair judgment and putting this group of people on a lower level. If people aren’t treated with respect, they are not valued. This is important because this has been happening long enough. The Holocaust could slowly happen again if people don’t pay attention. There are always people who stand out and can make a change.

 

Summer/Fall Plans

We kind of go quarter to quarter, with a big yearly assessment and overhaul that happens every September. You have to figure out summer in April and Fall, well, kind of starts in April and doesn’t end until August.

Here is what I have for now:

Summer Camps:

Aaron-Zoo in June, Oral Hull in July, and OMSI Farm in late July

Naim-Oral Hull in July, OMSI Farm Camp in late July, AM Soccer and PM Acting Camp at NWCT (Star Trekkers)

Avery-Continuing Goddard all Summer, Zoo Camp in June, Oral Hull in July

This will be the fifth year that Aaron does Zoo Camp. Each year builds on other years and concentrates on specific areas. This year I think they are doing some kind of nocturnal thing so this camp includes a late night and dinner. It’s on my birthday so can a make a date out of that before pick up? hmmm. Avery went to 1/2 day Zoo camp and liked it last summer. This will be his first full-day camp. Naim and I have house cleaning/sorting plans this week while the As are away.

Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind Family Camp: We didn’t go last year and caught hell for it from the kids. They really like it and it is an easy way to get them out of town and let them run free. Avery will really be old enough this year to run free as well for the most part, so that will be fun. It is a bit of work for Nik and I, we usually do a class for the parents of blind kids, but the whole week is like one long education and counseling session for us. We are happy to do it, but it does get a bit draining (especially when we have to answer questions like how do blind people wipe themselves? yes, seriously.)

OMSI has given us a $400 scholarship so I am very happy about this. They will go up to a farm on Sauvie Island and learn about organics and environmental farming and a little cooking thrown in. I’m jealous.

Naim will do the PGE Park Timbers Camp in the am and then walk up to NWCT for acting camp in the afternoon. He gets an hour in between. He could SO TOTALLY do this himself as it is only about 5 blocks, but Nik will probably come from work and have lunch with him to help the transition, since Soccer will not release him to his own recognences.

 

Fall is a bag full of possibilities right now. In some ways, my Aaron/Naim isolation problem has been solved as now they are constantly out for hours with the neighborhood kids and I think it fills that peer gap for them pretty well. It may get worse in the Winter, but maybe then we are back to indoor playdates. I love shooing them outside.

So, in the grab bag of possibilities for Aaron and Naim are:

  • Swallowtail Farm Mondays, A private farm school with an open-to-homeschoolers Monday component
  • Some Combination of Village Home Classes
  • Some Combination of Hillsboro Online Academy
  • or….and this is a new, big one…Swallowtail School full-time four days a week. Essentially, they would be private school kids.

The reason I can even consider Swallowtail, a Waldorf program, is because it has an amazing sliding scale tuition program. I figured out that the cost would be about the same as what I am paying now for all their VH et al classes and curriculum. It would be a big step, but I have to get them on board and they are not quite yet. We go on our second visit this week. The Waldorf thing is good with me, but it is almost marrying into a new community. We have to still see how we all match up.

 

Curriculum-wise, if we stayed home, we would probably continue with Naim in Reading Discovery and Math in Focus. And Aaron with Voyages in English and Math in Focus. Those would be daily.  I am thinking about letting them plan the rest themselves within some parameters. (2 hours of SS/History, 2 Hours of Science, 1-2 hours of the arts, 5 half hours of physical fitness/sports a week.) Then they could fulfill these with HOA classes, VH classes, their own choice of curriculum, or stand alone projects like DIY.org or something. Naim and I are actually really enjoying a World History Timeline project we are doing now. He is making a timeline and I help him read with Calvert’s A Child’s Book of World History and the Usborne World History Encyclopedia along with other books and resources. Lots of fun, and poor Aaron has had to do PS Oregon History for like two years in a row now (and going on a 3rd  with more western expansion if he continues with HOA). How they think they can get away with teaching YEARS of pioneer/settler/western expansion history at the expense of all else is beyond me, but welcome to Oregon. Lets talk about a 200 year period of mass genocide and racism by your ancestors ad nauseum and make it out like it is all fun and good and Little House on the Prairie. Ugh. I got American History shoved down my throat growing up as well. And since Nik was educated in Europe, he completely laughs and my embarrassing lack of World History knowledge. I am having fun learning along with Naim as well. The timeline thing makes you put all the jumbled stories you have heard over the years in context and space and time.

Avery is pretty much staying home with me next year.  He is not, Not, NOT going to the 60+ kid Quatama classroom. I would consider Swallowtail for him this year but he would be waitlisted. He may do a combination of Farm School or Village. If it ends up being just him and me, I may put him in WeVillage for a day a week or something. We will see. I am thinking at home I will just do K Math in Focus and Reading for him. Maybe Calverts Discoveries in Reading or Hooked On Phonics or a combo. We also could get a little more structure in the day if I did something like Sunshine Express or Mother Goose Time, but that is a lot of curriculum. I plan on not killing myself over Kindergarten.

Stay tuned! Big decisions will be made soon!