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You’re Right

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope that you had an awesome week. I did! If you think I am going to say that my week was busy, you are right! πŸ˜‚ I got to do something really cool this week, that I am going to tell you about.

On Wednesday night I got to see Yanni in concert. I was really excited about this, because I have Yanni music playing in my bedroom all of the time. My mom is real big on music. Since I have been born, she has kept Yanni music playing all over the house. (She liked Yanni because of the all of the different instruments he uses, plus it is over all calming music.) My mom thinks when you have music playing and you are working on homework, it engages both sides of your brain. While, I am not sure about this, maybe always being exposed to music, helped me have a love for music. Anyway, Yanni is getting pretty old, so I was happy I got to see him in concert.

This was the second “grown up” concert I have attended. Yanni is an absolutely incredible musician. He played on no less than 9 keyboards. He had a piano set up, and different keyboards for different sounds. (My only criticism was he should have had a real wind instrument instead of a synthesized one, but I understand sometimes you can’t afford everything you want and you have to compromise and make hard choices. ) Yanni could jump between keyboards and run back and forth between the piano and the keyboards without missing a note. He was incredible! I wondered exactly how he did this. I am thinking about trying it at my next piano lesson. πŸ˜‚ My piano teachers has two pianos, I am thinking about jumping from one to the other to see exactly how this works. πŸ˜‚ I am just kidding. The last concert I saw was the piano guys, and Jon (the pianist) played the piano with his nose, and while laying down on the bench. I told my piano teacher I wanted to learn how to play the piano with my nose too. πŸ˜‚

I don’t know if you know much about Yanni, but he has a really interesting story. He came to America when he was 18, and didn’t speak any English. He learned the language and put himself through school, and earned a masters degree in Psychology. However, his passion was always music. Yanni stayed focused on that and despite setbacks, kept working on creating music. Since I am familiar with just about every song he has ever written, I am happy that he stuck with it. Personally, I think music touches a part of your soul, that words can’t reach.

Thinking about Yanni and his success always reminds me of a quote by Henry Ford. He said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way, you are right.” and I know this holds true for Yanni. I read an article once, where someone was talking about meeting Yanni when he was in college. He said Yanni was “flamboyantly Yanni”. He went on to explain, Yanni always thought he would succeed, and as Mr. Ford said “he was right.”

Okay, so I get that I am just a 7th grader, and a good portion of my audience are students. Some kids or adults, might question how this story relates to their life. Let me tell you about my brother Kaden. πŸ™‚ Kaden is taking Advanced Placement Chemistry. Kaden loves Chemistry, but this is definitely not an easy class. Anyway, Kaden signed up to take the AP Chemistry exam. He didn’t expect the exam to be easy, but he did expect to do well on this test. Kaden attended 4 Saturday study sessions for this exam, with one of the sessions lasting from 8:30-4:30. Also, he stayed after school almost every day for 3 weeks, to attend every study sessions available. Plus, he brought his study guide book in the car everywhere we went, and he studied the whole car ride. My parents didn’t make Kaden do all this. In my opinion, Kaden is very much demonstrating Mr. Ford’s quote. Kaden thought he could do great on his exam, and he took all of the steps necessary to make this happen. We don’t know how Kaden’s AP exam went yet, we won’t have those scores until July. He thought he did well. He felt prepared for every question that was on there.

Bock, J. (2018). Kaden’s Textbook. [digital image] CC BY-NC

So, that is my whole point this week. If you decide you want to do something, believe that you can! Then put in the work and make success happen. πŸ˜‰ Really, it is as simple as that.

Okay, I am off to practice my instruments this morning. I practice 3 on a regular basis and that takes some time. Have a great week, and go play Acalympics .

Thank you!

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope that you had an awesome week. I did, and yup! I was busy!

With teacher appreciation week coming up, I wanted to take a minute to say “Thank you,” to everyone who has supported Acalympics . I have gotten so much encouragement and positive feedback! I have had so many people, teachers, students, and administrators use my website, and tell me about the positive impact it is making. Words can not accurately describe how grateful I am for that! Thank you so very much, I appreciate you!

I wanted to take a minute to let you know about where I want Acalympics to go. I hope that you have had the time to play the Math or the Spanish game. I know I probably don’t need to explain to you exactly what Acalympics is, but just in case you haven’t had the opportunity to use the website yet, here is a very brief description. I created a website that you can practice skills while earning points for your team. There is no time limit, or penalties. I wanted Acalympics to be a fun way to practice skills.

Here are some of the ideas I have for Acalympics . Disclaimer, I just wrote all of my deadlines in my calendar, so honestly all of these ideas will be on my summer break projects list. πŸ˜‚ I have gotten requests from users to be able to identify the top scorers for day, and week on each of the boards. I think that is a fabulous idea! But, I also don’t want to make anyone feel embarrassed by their score. So, I am working on a mechanism that will allow users to create an Acalympics Website name, like Crunchy Goldfish, or Rainbow Sparkle Cat. This way Acalympics can display the top scorers, but it will still be anonymous.

Working along this idea will also allow Acalympics to track users skill level. Simply put, if you constantly ace all of the additions, subtraction, and multiplication problems, but are challenged by fractions, the website will know where to start you. Another aspect of having a login system will allow teachers to make challenges (quizzes) for their class. I am creating a feature that will make creating quizzes for specific students an easy thing to do.

Next, I want to add more subjects. I have been talking with my piano teacher about adding music theory to Acalympics . Personally, I take a theory test at ODU every year. I will say it is really hard to study for that test because there are just not a lot of resources out there. My piano teacher and I thought we could create levels of music theory based on the tests at ODU. Music students could review for these tests by practicing their skill knowledge on Acalympics . I hope this will be a helpful resource for all music teachers from elementary and up.

Also, I take French, not Spanish, πŸ˜‚ so I want to add a French category. I want to add English, Geography, and Science categories too. I am in the process of learning how to level these questions. In case you wondered how I get my questions, I utilize the Virginia Department of Education to create my levels. I frequent their website to look at the order and the objectives when creating my questions and levels.

Phew! This sounds like a lot of work I have to do! However, I am not going to let myself worry because one quote I try to keep in the back of my mind is by Nelson Mandela. “It always seems impossible until it is done.” πŸ˜‰

If you have any ideas that you would like to see on Acalympics , let me know. While I might not get to your request right away, I am keeping a list of all of the good ideas people have brought to my attention.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. πŸ™‚ I can not stress enough how appreciative I am for all of the people that support Acalympics and support me! Have a great weekend and go play Acalympics . Don’t forget to send me your ideas.

β€œGet Up And Do Something β€œ Barack Obama

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope that you had an amazing week! For the most part, I did. It was crazy busy, but pretty fun. πŸ˜‰ I will tell you all about it.

Some of the amazing things that happened this week, I was accepted in our schools NJHS (National Junior Honor Society). I am really excited about this! We turned in our applications awhile back. I wasn’t exactly sure of when I would find out if I was invited to be a part of it, but it happened this week.

Also, we had our Cyber Preliminary Competition. This event went really well, I think. In case you are not familiar with how this Preliminary Competition worked, I will explain it for you. Basically, all of the participating teams / schools met at the Advanced Technology Center. We were not supposed to bring anything other than our Raspberry Pi (that is the platform our competition is working around), not any saved code, no additional supplies, just our Raspberry Pi. (Not every team honored that regulation, and my school kind of felt at a disadvantage because we did. I guess that piece of information, is neither here nor there, just a side note. My parents always say “You can’t control what other teams do, so just focus on doing the best that you can and don’t worry about anyone else.” I tried to do just that! I tried to do the best that I could.) We had 2 hours to create a new carnival game. We needed to write a program using either Python, or Scratch, on the Raspberry Pi, and get it running, with whatever craft supplies we used for the game part of it (and most importantly, trouble shoot it your idea to get it working πŸ˜‰). 2 hours might sound like a long time, but my team used and needed every single second. Fortunately, I had a stellar team! I focused on writing the code, and my two teammates focused on the craft part. I am happy to say our idea worked! Yay! We don’t have our feedback from the judges yet, but I felt like our presentation for them, went really well. Hopefully, our judges will agree with that. πŸ™‚ I am really hoping, we will get feedback this week. The challenge for the actual competition is being released May 1. It would be nice to have the feedback from the preliminaries in mind, while we start brainstorming on how to solve the next challenge.

Bock, J. (2016). A Raspberry Pi. [digital image] CC BY- NC

The last awesome thing that happened was, I found out I earned straight superiors on my Solo and Ensemble events. I was super excited about this! So for this event, you can pick out up to 3 pieces to play for judges. They will critique your performance, and tell you what you did well, and what you could improve on. Superior is the highest rating you can get. I picked out a challenging piece for both my alto solo, and for the clarinet (which I am getting better at πŸ˜‚). Also, I played the soprano in a saxophone quartet. I was kind of worried about it all coming together with everything, everyone seems to have going on. I am so happy with the results! Not only am I happy with the results, I am so happy it is over. πŸ˜‚ Yay!

Another really fun thing I got to do this week, was help host the instrument petting zoo. A bunch of us, got to bring our instruments to the school and show them to students that are thinking about joining band. We played for them, answered any questions that they had, and told them what we loved about band. That was a blast!

So, I know you are probably thinking, this sounds like a really successful week, right? It was! It was also kinda of a blur. All week seemed like I had one event after another and I really didn’t have too much time to complete homework, and never anytime to relax. Sometimes, when things seem to be moving faster than you, it might seem like you start to feel hopeless. In the end, after I had completed all of my challenging events, I felt great. How could this be with all of this stress?

I read a quote from Barack Obama, he once that said “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.” So, I guess that is the “big idea” of this blog. πŸ˜‚ It might be hard to see what your choices are, especially when you have a lot of deadlines and requirements on you. However, doing something about all of your pressures, will make you feel better! Next time you feel like me, with too much to do and too little time to complete it all, remember this story. More importantly, remember take the wise words from President Obama and spring into action!

Well, I am off to practice the piano. I have one last audition this week, for a recital coming up at a local University. I am kind of taking a risk for my audition. πŸ™‚ Instead of playing a classical piece, I am playing a jazz selection. I will let you know if it works out. πŸ˜‰

Have a great day and go play Acalympics

Dedication Pays Off

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope that you had an amazing week. I did but it was really busy. This next week will be just as busy. I have quite a few events going on. Some of the events this week include, The Cyber Challenge Preliminaries, Solo and Ensemble, and I have an audition for an Honors recital, with piano lessons, saxophone lessons and band practice thrown in there too. πŸ˜‚ These are all fun events, just a lot of them for one week.

Our school recently had a dedication ceremony. We have now been in our building for a year. It took about 3 years to build our school building and it was completed during the school year, last year. All of the teachers had to pack up their classrooms and we moved to the other side of town, for our new school building. It was both a pain and exciting at the same time! So, for our dedication we celebrated. We had a lot of guest speakers, and a really nice ceremony.

Geralt. (2016). Smartphone. [digital image]. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/images/PrxvgW . CC 0

Watching the dedication made me think of how far my school has come. Previously, my school had been two separate schools. We had to figure out how to join the two together. When we first merged the two schools, we had to find a building large enough with enough classrooms, to house us. The temporary building we found was about a 30-45 minute drive away from where the two schools had been previously housed. Then, once we got used to the drive and temporary location, we had to move to the new building. It wasn’t a completely easy, stress free transition. I am sure that things didn’t go as planned a lot of the time. But, I would never had known it. I have an absolutely amazing Principal, Assistant Principals, School Improvement Specialist, Guidance Counselors, and Teachers that handled the move so positively. You would have thought it was an effortless transition, based on their attitude.

I have written about attitude in a blog before, so you already know I think choosing to have a positive attitude is important. I am not going to rewrite that. πŸ˜‰ However, while I was watching the dedication, I remembered something my 5th grade teacher said in class a lot. “Anything worth having, is worth working for”. Our school staff worked tirelessly to get where we are now. Although, it was a lot of hard work, I am so thankful that the administration never quit. Paths that are difficult to walk, often lead to beautiful destinations.

So, this week if you feel like I did last week, where you have too many commitments and too little time to do everything, remember these two quotes. “Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat” Said Ann Landers. “Anything worth having, is worth working for” said Lori Rose. Keep your mind on where you want to end up, and take steps to get there.

Have an amazing weekend! Go play Acalympics

β€œYou’ve Been Planted”

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope that you had a fabulous week. I did, but it sure was busy. πŸ™‚ I know, I always say that. The 3rd and 4th quarters of school always seem to be the busiest for me. I expect to be pretty busy until about June 15. πŸ˜‰

In my Health and P.E. class, we are talking about stress management. I told my family about this and asked them how they managed stress. Wow! I didn’t realize how different all these people were! You would think being in the same family, they would have some similarities, but stress management is not one of them. πŸ˜‚

Janice P. (2016). Switzerland in Bloom. [ digital image ] CC BY-NC

My brother Kaden, who balances multiple Honor Societies, Advanced Placement classes, Marching Band, Advanced Concert Band, and Honor Roll, in an Advanced Academy said that his strategy was to just ignore the stress until the very last minute, and then you usually couldn’t do anything about it anyway, so to just let it go. I am not too sure how solid his advice is, but since he seems to be pretty stress free, I guess it works for him.

Jenifer B. (2017). Kaden in Marching Band Competition. [ digital image ] CC BY-NC

My mom said she managed stress by making a list. (If you don’t know my mom, I will tell you, she makes lists for everything. I am quite certain, she makes lists about the lists she needs to make.) She says she writes down everything that is stressing her out. Then, she reads back through the list and crosses off any item that she has no control over. She says she eliminates about 3/4 of her list this way. For the remaining items, she brainstorms any possible action she could take to reduce her stress about that item. For my mom, having choices and being proactive, are her stress management techniques.

My dad said funny things (that he knew would make my mom roll her eyes). He said “If you are feeling stressed out by all of mom’s lists, you should just take a nap.” Or “Get your mind off of your stress by playing a video game.” I thought he had some great ideas! πŸ˜‚ After he quit joking around, he said seriously the best way he knew to handle stress was to eat healthy, get enough sleep, drink a lot of water, and to take deep breaths. He said that educating himself helped him too. He said especially in his career, the more he knew about whatever was stressful for him, the better he felt about it.

I guess these are all pretty good strategies, but I think I have the best stress management. The way I handle stress works to reduce stress every time! I sit down by Chena or Bella, and I pet them for like 10 minutes. I tell them how sweet they are, and how glad I am that they are my doggie, and /or kitty. Sometimes, I brush their coat. I don’t really tell them about my stress, because that would make them feel sad. I just love on them. If I still feel stressed after that, I found out that talking to people help. I talk to my parents. My mom comes up with crazy ideas that makes me laugh. (But, I am totally going to try to tell her that I feel stressed and I need to play a video game and see if it works.πŸ˜‚).

I read something on Twitter this week that was completely related to stress. It said “Sometimes when you are under so much pressure, and you feel like you are in a dark place, you feel like you have been buried. But maybe, you have not been buried, you have been planted. So rise up, and bloom!” Wow! I am going to write that down, so I can remember it! That is an amazing way to look at stress!

Have a great week! Go play Acalympics

Spring Break

Hello and Happy Weekend!

Over the last few days of spring break, I have had a normal week. Yes, even though I am on break, I am still very busy. πŸ˜‚ This week, my mom decided it would be very fun to put down new mulch all around or yard. In addition to putting down new mulch, we would do our yard’s spring cleaning.

On Tuesday we measured all day and tried to figure out how much mulch we needed. We also did most of the trimming and other parts of our spring cleaning on Tuesday. Finishing all of this encouraged us to go to a local garden center to buy mulch.

At the local garden center, we asked if we should get 19 cubic yards of mulch. The guy there looked at us as if we were crazy! He advised us to only buy one truck load at a time (10 cubic yards) in order to not have to much. Agreeing to this plan, as we did not want to wish to spend to much money on mulch, we bought rakes and wheelbarrows and prepared for Thursday.

On Thursday, the delivery service arrived with our mulch. The pile was colossal and it took forever to deplete. In fact, we had to finish the pile on Friday! Since the pile was unable to give our team motivation to work, we had to use cooperation and teamwork to aid one another.

For cooperation, we gave each other assigned roles (the wheelbarrow driver, the spreader, the retailer, the shoveler, and of course the dog lover πŸ˜›). If anyone became fatigued or bored of their job (or their job was currently unavailable as there was nothing to detail), then someone would switch with them. Cooperation is key to getting ginormous tasks done.

Teamwork is a big part of cooperation. In this case, we looked for each other’s strength and weaknesses, and the carried out our part. For instance, my grandmother was the dog lover and detailer as she enjoyed doing these things. I was the wheelbarrow driver and spreader. We all were able to do our part and we eventually got the job done.

Janice, P. (2018). Mulch Duty. [digital image] CC BY-NC

No matter how large the task, everything can be done with a team. Sure, no one in my family wished to work over break, but a nice lawn does not maintain itself! I know I am very thankful I did not have to do that by myself.

Over the next week in Acalympics, think about how you and your teammates can help contribute to your overall score. One person does not have to accomplish a feat (like beating the Sea Stars or Dragon Fire) by themselves!

Have a great week and go and play Acalympics

β€œI Fail Over and Over Again, That Is Why I Succeed” Michael Jordan

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope you had an incredible week! For the most part, I did, and it was really busy. πŸ˜‚ It wasn’t all great though. Keep reading, you will see why. πŸ˜‰

I read a quote last week by Michael Jordan. In case you aren’t familiar with Michael Jordan, he is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. The quote I read was “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. 25 times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” I have to be honest with you. I was kinda puzzled by this. I mean, what was he saying exactly? Did he mean that he practiced so much basketball, he had encountered every situation one could come across in basketball? Did he just miss all of those shots in practice, and that when he came to the real game he was successful? When I think of Michael Jordan, I certainly don’t view him as someone who has failed EVER.

I did a little research on Michael Jordan. Did you know that he tried out for his high school varsity team when he was a sophomore, but didn’t make it? Michael Jordan said every time he looked at his school’s varsity roster that year, he was embarrassed and kinda mad about it, (because his name wasn’t on the varsity list). Do you know what he did about it? Michael’s high school P.E. teacher said that every morning when he got to school early (because he liked to get to school real early), he always was greeted by the sound of the basketball. Every morning when the teacher walked in the gym, there was Michael practicing. Michael did not quit basketball.

Geralt. (2016). IPad. [digital image]. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/basketball-net-score-rim-hoop-2099656/

So, here is what didn’t go so great this week, I had a chair audition that didn’t go too well. In fact, it went about as bad as it could. I messed up everything. I was pretty mad about it, because I practiced a lot for it, but I just kind of got myself all nervous for the audition, which obviously was a mistake (and a whole other blog topic). When I found out my result, I was absolutely humiliated! I took last chair. I immediately started trying to figure out how to get out of playing for the Ensemble. I mean, I love music, but I decided I really only love music from 1st or 2nd chair. πŸ˜‚ Last chair stinks!

Here I was, mad and embarrassed, and like anyone would do, I started planning my escape from this situation. I started trying to figure out how to get out of playing the saxophone from last chair. My first idea was I could come down with an illness, like some type of lung disorder that meant I couldn’t play in last chair. Or maybe I just found out I was deathly allergic to last chair. If the illness thing wasn’t believable (because it wasn’t πŸ˜‚), I started thinking of what excuse I could come up with to not be in horrible spot. I could say, I had a new part time job that meant I was not going to be available for rehearsals anymore, so the next to last chair guy could be last chair, and I could just quit. However, you will not believe what hit me in the midst of my plans!

In the middle of my scheming to get out of last chair, I heard Michael Jordan’s quote in my head. “I fail over and over again. And that is why I succeed “. All of the sudden his quote made sense to me! He wasn’t saying he succeeded because he practiced sooooooo much that he knew every basketball scenario known to man, and he never messed up in games. He was saying he succeeded because instead of quitting when he failed, he got back up. He let the failure go, and tried again. Yes, last chair seemed pretty awful when I am used to taking 1st or 2nd chair, but I decided it would be pretty awful to be counted on to score the game winning basket and miss.

While it seems like it would be much easier to quit, and not have to go take my place at last chair, I am going stick it out. I am going to keep focused on the fact, that even Michael Jordan had failures, not just in practice, but in the big games. And then, I am going to succeed just like he did.

Plus, now I get to hear the French horns, which are actually pretty good. πŸ™‚ You can’t hear them in 1st or 2nd chair.

What this blog boils down to is, yes it is humiliating when you fail (you can insert a mental picture of me waving at you, from last chair πŸ˜‚. Go ahead and pull out your binoculars because you will need them to find me ) but don’t quit! I know, I just wrote about sometimes you win and sometimes you win a totally different way. I guess, sometimes you learn too. (I can’t think of a win for last chair, yet, but if I think of one, I will be sure to let you know πŸ˜‰). In the meantime, sometimes you have to pick yourself up, and let go of your failure to succeed.

“I fail over and over again. And that is why I succeed”. Michael Jordan and Karstan 😊

Have a great week and go play Acalympics