Sparta vs Athens

Choosing where to live is always a hard decision, but it was even harder for people in Ancient Greece. Sparta, the “meat” of Ancient Greece, raised their kids to have self-control and obedience. Their government was an oligarchy, meaning that there was a small group of people that ruled the entire city-state. They had the largest and strongest army in all of Greece. Spartans also treated their women with care, unlike other city-states. Also, they invented a clever early encryption code for sending messages between different generals.

       Athens, on the other hand, created the base of democracy, a government in which the people elected a representative to make decisions for them and were open to progress and new ideas. Athens also invented many new forms of architecture such as using optical tricks to make pillars and supports seem like they are perfectly straight.

       Although living in Sparta would mean that you are in a powerful city-state, you would be surrounded by hostile city-states, living in fear of a revolution and the living conditions would be too harsh. Athens, however, had a pretty fair government to men, a variety of jobs, and was overall more easygoing and wealthy.

       All things considered, the advantages of living in Athens outweighs the advantages of living in Sparta by a landslide.

Minecraft Review

Minecraft was the biggest game in the world for a while. In the game, you have two modes; survival and creative. In survival, you try to survive against hunger, zombies, creepers, and spiders. In creative, you can fly and you can build whatever you feel like. There are also mods that you can download online that add additional items into the game. Another cool function the game has is multiplayer, where you can play on servers that other people created. On other peoples’ servers, you can play mini-games and connect with friends. In total, there have been 250 million copies of the game sold worldwide and more than 40 million people play it monthly. Overall, the game is actually very good, considering that it was released in 2009. Mojang is adding many updates to the game every year, fixing bugs and adding new items and animals. If there was anything I would change about the game, it would be for it to have better graphics and for a way to recover what you lost when you die in lava (in survival). Even though the game itself is relatively old, many people (including me) still play it.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane


Dear Kate DiCamillo,


    Most books I’ve read are just finished and forgotten. Your book showed me a new perspective. I have many differences with Edward, but also many similarities. After a long journey, Edward finally realizes how lucky he was before he fell in the ocean. After moving to a wealthy neighborhood, I realize how lucky I am.

Edward has tragedy after tragedy happen to him and his mind keeps changing. Even though I don’t have tragedies happen to me, I still changed. Maybe if Edward wasn’t thrown off a boat, he would never learn to appreciate what he had. I used to have a friend in my old neighborhood. After I moved away, we grew farther and farther apart. After reading your book, I learned to appreciate things that you have while you still have them.  Every time Edward moves to a new place, he loses things he had, but also gains things from his new owners. He learns to appreciate what he has while he still has it. Reading your book changed the way I look at things now. Eventually, Edward gets back to his old owners and they don’t recognize him. He thinks differently about everything he does after his journey.

I think if I hadn’t read your book, I wouldn’t know what the world looked like in a different perspective.



Joseph Zhang, 5th Grade

Refugee by Alan Gratz Letter

Dear Mrs.Washburn (my teacher),

    Hi! How are you doing? I am doing well. I have just finished the book Refugee by Alan Gratz. My favorite character is Josef, not because we have the same name, but because of how interesting his background was and what kind of person he was. He showed bravery by speaking up when the other mutineers were giving in. He also slapped his father even though he didn’t want to so he would be quiet when the doctor inspected him. If I didn’t know how old he was, I would think he was an adult.


       When Josef went into the “German” part of the train, I knew things were not going to end well. He got caught by a Hitler youth, a person sworn to live and die for Hitler, but got lucky because the boy still had a sliver of good in him and let Josef off with no more than a warning. Although it was tempting to see how people would treat him if he wasn’t a Jew, it still wasn’t wise for Josef to go to the German part of the train because he could have been caught by someone less forgiving and gotten his family thrown off the train because he was being selfish. Later in the book when he agreed to storm the captain, Josef wasn’t open-minded enough to see that there wasn’t anybody to drive the boat if they held the captain hostage. When his fellow mutineers decided to give in, he still stayed angry, even if the captain wasn’t bringing them back to Germany. One event that changed Josef was slapping his father in the face. When Josef slapped his father he saved his life, but not without changing their relationship. Afterward, his father feels betrayed because the Germans came and ransacked their room, even though Josef says that if he stayed still, the Germans would leave him alone. After being accused of lying by his father, Josef feels guilty that he ever brought back memories of the concentration camp back to his father.


        One theme I observed in the book is “What you do affects others more than you think”. Examples of this are when the Hitler youth on the train lets Josef leave without punishment. To him, it is just an act of kindness, but to Josef, it could mean the difference between life and death for him and his family. When the people in the boat rushed past Mahmoud (a refugee from Syria), he pleaded them to take his mom’s baby so she wouldn’t drown. Reluctantly, they eventually accepted the baby. Although there has to be someone to take care of the baby, her mom is in no condition to take care of her. By accepting the baby, they might have just saved her life if the waters became too dangerous. Lito, the policeman who rescued Josef’s father risked his own life for somebody who didn’t want theirs. If Josef’s father hadn’t jumped, he might not have had to risk his life. If Josef’s father had gotten killed, the entire ship (except for some of the crew) would be in a sour mood. Josef’s father is like the domino that could knock over the entire line with one mishap.


        I feel that refugees are overlooked, even if they are in plain sight. Most refugees stay in camps for years, even decades just to be accepted into a new country. It is my responsibility to help refugees who need food or clothing. Austin can help with the refugee crisis by accepting refugees and starting programs that provide refugees with food, water, and shelter. Our government is also capable of helping refugees by allowing them into our country. If everybody does these things, we can help refugees begone. From reading this novel, I opened my eyes to the life of refugees, hiding and running in fear. Everybody deserves human rights, regardless of their differences. I also learned about many cases of refugees that are similar and different in many different ways. I would recommend this book to others because other than being a good book, it teaches you about what it is like being a refugee and the different cultures of different people.


       This book showed me a new way to look at not just refugees, but everybody that feels out of place and needs something they don’t have.


                                                                    Joseph Zhang