Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Last Minute High School Applications

Well, Peter Pan and his brother showed up this afternoon looking for last-minute help with their Noble Network high school applications. They said they both already applied to Perspective Math & Science Academy, where their sister is going. Three 150-word essays each, and they hadn't started a thing before they got here around 4 this afternoon.

Peter Pan has some potential as a writer--he got one and a half of his first drafts done before I had to throw them out around 4:30 to go to a meeting. His brother has a lot more trouble writing, and his writing is a lot more trouble to understand. He kept using the word "above" when he meant "about," which took me a little while to figure out. He didn't even finish one draft before I had to go. I made them promise to keep working on it while I was gone and then we'd work together when I got back.

I got home about eight and they were here until 10:30. The brother still wasn't finished--he's got to rewrite one of them because he got off topic--but he's pretty close and there are 150 words in his draft (even if they are poorly spelled and incoherent).

The Nobles insist that kids hand-write their essays on the application form, which I suppose is to deter parents or others from writing them for them. It's not too hard to get around that, though, if the kids are willing to copy. I will freely admit I have the kid write a first draft, then if time permits said kid revises it, then I write a nice copy with all the words spelled correctly and correct punctuation, which the kid then copies on to the application. Now usually they make some mistakes copying, so there are still errors in the final product, but it probably isn't a totally representative sample of their work, either.

Tonight I went further down the path of deception, I'm afraid, especially with Peter Pan's brother, who was struggling to come up with 150 words for these essays. He did write two drafts for all his essays, but the second drafts were to get more words and to make them more coherent, not at all for mechanics. I still had to revise his second drafts to make them understandable to someone other than the author. I don't know what the final versions will look like, because he didn't have time to copy the clean versions I put together from his drafts before 10:30. Now he's on his own. Whew. I thank and pity his future English teachers.

In better news, Peter Pan himself wrote pretty good essays that didn't take nearly as much copy editing. I'm going to do another post to give you an excerpt of the rough draft of one of them, which is about how being friends with Oldest Brady Boy has changed his life, maybe even saved it. I knew Oldest Brady was good for him, but now I know he is a real unsung neighborhood hero. Read on above.

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