Now that I have just about finished my junior year of high school, I’m taking the time to look back on my entire year in AP Language and Composition. Coming in to the year, I feel like I resembled a chunk of wood, unrefined and incomplete. Now at the end of this year, I feel more experienced and I’ve honed my skills under the tutelage of my teacher Mr. Ziebarth.

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Over the year, I feel like my sense of composition has expanded out with the different assignments that challenged my current ways of writing and gave me new ways to express myself. Writing essays to me is like mining for gold. I have to keep on hammering away at my deficiencies at writing and work at it, using my past experience to make my essays better. In the end, I’ll find that golden essay that beautifully incorporates everything that I have learned. In regards to the essays that I did this year, the most difficult one would have to be the descriptive essay. The prompt called for me to describe a person I was close with and expand on something about them. The thing is, I was never good at expanding out and describing a person in greater detail. So I tried my best to describe a friend of mine and how his procrastinating habits often led to bad situations. I didn’t feel very confident in my essay after it was done, but my teacher was happy to help. He gave me options on how to change up my wording so that my writing would be more concise, and he selected certain spots in my essay that needed more description and overall helped me to be a better writer. It’s because of him that I have more experience of how to channel the words in my mind onto paper.

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My sense of literature also blossomed this year. The various books that I read this year like Grapes of Wrath, Great Gatsby, and Catcher in the Rye. One of the strangest books that I read this year was Catcher in the Rye. Catcher in the Rye was the first book that I read which really showed how narrators can be unreliable sources of information.

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Reading Catcher in the Rye was a very intriguing book. It’s honestly hard for me to find a book where I simply detest the main character, but it only took me a few chapters for me to see that Holden Caulfield (main character) was a truly unreliable narrator. His constant spin on how he was a sexy guy was invalidated by the real facts that he was a virgin. And all of the women that he hit on viewed him as an immature child. It was rather interesting to read a story where every claim could simply be false and the main character was simply despicable. It really showed me that my writing could be false too. I don’t make extravagant claims like Holden Caulfield did, but I do tend to stretch things out a little. The book taught me that stretching the truth could lead to me losing credibility in whatever I write. So it’s important that I take that lesson and apply it to all of my future essays so that whoever is reading my essays knows that it is from a reliable narrator. But besides Catcher in the Rye, all of the books that I read this year showed me a different way of writing. For example, Catcher in the Rye utilized a form of repetition where Holden constantly repeated things to let the readers know what he wanted to emphasize. It seems like a bad tip to get from a book, but I feel like repeating things is a useful way of highlighting the important parts of an essay, so long as it isn’t used too many times. And from Grapes of Wrath, I saw how everything has significance. The intercalary chapters had significance to the next chapter, which was new and unconventional to me. But it’s from the book that I learned that stories have deeper meanings that have to be rooted out. So the book taught me that connecting smaller things to form a big picture is a method that I can use to write. And overall, reading books expands my vocabulary so it’s my hope that I will continue reading more and using new words like conscientious, capricious, and gregarious in the future.

Before I read Catcher in the Rye, I came up with a question, are words the only way to connect with humans? After reading this book, I can say that words aren’t the only way, but it’s a disadvantage not to use words. Essentially the entire book has Holden Caulfield trying to be amiable in his own way and have a decent conversation, but in the end he never really has that good conversation with anyone. He already struggled to communicate with his words, so I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to try some different way of communicating without words.

And finally, I have to say that blog posts have really given me a new way to express myself. Going into this year, I remember feeling bewildered when I heard that we were going to be doing blog posts. It turns out that blog posts let me explore a new side of me that I have been unable to let out. It improved my writing because composing an essay or a short segment in front of my keyboard really allows me to be more creative with my words.


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Blog posts allowed me to let my feelings loose while keeping a sense of privacy to myself. Typically every week, my class would do two blog posts. One was about a topic that we discussed in class. Usually that was something that was recent in the news like new political news or new policies passed that were being debated. And then for the second blog, we were given free control. I wrote about a number of things, depending on what was also new that week. I wrote about sports, holidays, school, and basically poured out whatever I was feeling into a blog post. I enjoyed blogging because it gave me a different sense of freedom. It was as if I was walking my whole life then I was put onto a bike. It was a new experience that took me a while to get used to, but it was extremely helpful because it gave me more experience with writing each week. I don’t know if I’ll continue to do blog posts, but I have a feeling that I will in the near future.

Overall, this year has really been productive for me in terms of growing as a writer. The class certainly felt unorthodox compared to my previous years, but I really feel like I needed that unorthodox method to evolve as person and a scholar. My teacher Mr. Ziebarth is simply a wonderful teacher and I don’t want to think about what I’m going to do next year because I’m going to miss this class and the innovative methods that I have learned that have shaped me to be better than before. The bonds that I’ve made with my classmates are ones that hopefully will never break, and I want to thank all the people at my table for helping me get through this year (especially Henry Luong).

Signing off on an extravagant year,

-Brian Chu


3 thoughts on “Redefined

  1. I agree with you on The Catcher in The Rye! It is my first time reading a book with unreliable narrator plus the book somehow hinting depression and phony which makes it very interesting. I love your writing style too, the phrase flows smoothly and natural.


  2. I really liked your reflection! I liked how you used original photos. I also really liked how you used metaphors in your reflection and compared writing essays as mining gold. I also really liked how you answered your question.


    1. I like the reflection on how you improved in writing, as the teacher was there right by your side and helped you grow. I also like how you explained your answer to your question for catcher in the rye.
      And how you related to blogs and how it opened your mind to creativity. At the end I like how you incorporated people you worked with that helped you grow in this class and change.


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