Student Writing


This category is for students of mine who have written something they want to share. We welcome positive feedback and questions that will help them grow as writers!

Student Writing: Nellie Bly

The World of Nellie Bly

The 1800’s were a time of invention and creativity. In the next 150 years America would have hundreds of breakthroughs in computer science, railroad technology, factories, space and air transportation, farming and goods production technology. Fashion was an interest to people in the 1800’s as a way of expressing style and wealth. Food and goods production were becoming more of an interest to the world. In the following century,  people would be sent into space for the first time and two world wars would be stirring up chaos and destruction to the whole world. The world in the 1800’s was about to start on the road to new advancements in technology, new discoveries and and new ideas of class and social structure that would lead to where we are today.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania was still the capital of its state (the capital would soon be Harrisburg). The population in Lancaster shot up from 4,200 to 17,000 in just 60 years.

The Industrial Revolution had a large impact on Pennsylvania. Railroads and steam mills were up and working by 1834. In 1852 Pennsylvania saw the construction of both the Fulton Hall Theater or the Fulton Opera House and North Prince Street. Telephone service was introduced to Pennsylvania in 1886. People’s fashion tastes changed as well, becoming more sophisticated and simpler. Their clothes changed from extremely elaborate and intricate to simple and plain. Children had to wear simple clothes they could run and play in. Girls wore blouses and simple dresses and boys wore trousers and boots. Men wore simple, workable clothes designed for working outdoors or sitting in an office for long periods of time. Woman wore tight dresses with lots of ruffles and bows when they went out in public. Corsets and blouses were also garments women were expected to wear to town. In their homes woman wore looser gowns and aprons.   

Woman in the 1800’s were expected to be housewives. They were expected to cook and clean their houses while their husbands went and earned a living working at farms or offices. Most women did not have jobs and if they did they could be paid less than $3 dollars a week. In this time women had to do as they were told. Most women agreed to this as this was how they were raised. Most women cooked and cleaned for their families and stayed home as housewives. And then there was Nellie Bly.         

The Beginning  

Nellie Bly was born as Elizabeth Cochran on May 5, 1864 in Cochran’s Mill, Pennsylvania. The town was founded by her father, Michael Chrochan, who was a judge and a landowner. Nellie grew up with 14 siblings, eight of whom were her half siblings. When Nellie was six her father died unexpectedly. Because her father did not have the time to write a will before he died, the money he owned could not go to his widowed wife, Mary Jane Cochran, or his 14 children. And so Nellie and her family were left to fend for themselves in the town her own father had founded. A few years later, the family scrounge up enough money to move to Indiana and send Nellie off to attend the Indiana Normal School. Nellie studied hard at her new college to become a teacher. But the family was running out of money and they needed her to come home and help. So Nellie dropped out of college and moved to Pittsburgh with her mother where they ran a small inn for for some time.Then, in the early 1880’s, when Nellie was just 18, she submitted a response to a report in the Pittsburgh Dispatch. The report had been written by a man by the name of Erasmus Wilson who, in his report, stated that women who worked outside their homes were ‘a monstrosity’ and that women should not be allowed to work and earn a living on their own. Nellie had always had a talent with words and it took her just a day to write a strong, sensible response. She told Mr. Wilson that he was wrong and that woman were just as capable as men were. She signed her report using the pen name ‘Lonely Orphan Girl.’  Her earnestness response caught the attention of the chief editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch, George Madden, who offered her a position immediately. Nellie accepted the job offer.

Not Your Usual Woman

“Could I last a week in the insane asylum?

I said I could. And I did.” -Nellie Bly

Nellie wanted to become a journalist to educate people and move people to change. She was afraid she could not excel in this career because she was a woman yet she was determined to fulfill this ambition and she started with the things she was most passionate about. Nellie was working as a journalist and undercover investigator for a newspaper. She went undercover as a sweatshop worker to reveal poor working conditions faced by women. In her reports she drew attention to the importance of women’s rights, something most journalists avoided in their writing. She earned $5 a week and was still living with her mother in Pittsburg. Elizabeth Cochran was going by the pen name Nellie Bly after a song. Nellie Bly was gaining fame and money for herself and her family. But then the newspaper she worked for moved her to the ‘woman’s page.’ Enraged by this setback, Nellie began researching a better paper that would treat her more fairly and pay her a larger salary. In 1887 Nellie moved to New York where she started to work for the New York World Newspaper. One of Nellie’s most famous investigative cases happened in this time. Her paper decided to give her an undercover assignment. Nellie was to go undercover as a mental patient at a mental institution. She lived as a mental patient there for 10 days and when she released herself wrote a book and a report on the terrible living conditions for patients in the asylum. The result of Nellie’s hard work was a major investigation of the asylum and several changes to the New York Department of Public Charities and Corrections. These included more funding for mentally ill patients, exams, and staff training at mental facilities. Nellie had become an investigative journalist. She had educated hundreds of people on hard working conditions, she had revealed the horrible conditions the patients of the asylum were living in, and she had written about women’s rights; something nobody did. And now she was going to be the first to sail around the world in under 100 days.

Nellie Bly’s Trip Around the World

“I was too impatient to work at the usual duties assigned to woman on newspapers.”

-Nellie Bly

Nellie did several more undercover and investigative reports which included; treatment of people in jails/factories, corruptions in the legislate, and several reports on famous people including Susan B. Anthony and Emma Goldman. In early 1889 Nellie was inspired by a famous book she read when she was little (Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne) and decided to set off on an 80 day journey around the world. She wanted it to be challenging so she made it a competition. Another newspaper would have a man set sail on the same day, going on a different route and whoever got back to New York first was the winner. Nellie set sail in November 1889. She traveled all over the world; first by boat, then by horse, then by rickshaw, and finally by car. Nellie completed her journey in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds, breaking records and winning the competition. When Nellie arrived home, a crowd of people awaited her, cheering her on until she stepped off the ship and returned home after 72 days away. Nellie Bly married the billionaire Robert Seaman. They moved back to Nellie’s home town together. Nellie’s husband died just a few years later. She took over his manufacturing company later that year. She supported fitness gyms and libraries and new inventions as the times progressed. Nellie kept working on her papers and books throughout the last years of her life. Nellie Bly died on January 27, 1922 from pneumonia. She was 57. Nellie’s legacy still thrives today. She is an inspiration to all who hear of her. At age 18 she became one of the first woman authors in newspapers and went on to become one of the most well known and most accomplished women in the world. She went from an innkeeper in Pittsburg to a investigative journalist who sailed around the world. She went from the Lonely Orphan Girl to the legend of Nellie Bly. Nellie Bly wrote her own story, one to remember and learn from.

“I have never written a word

that did not come from my heart.”  

-Nellie Bly    


Appendix I.

Her Family

Nellie Bly had four brothers, two sisters, and eight other half siblings from both of her parents’ former marriages. She grew up in a household with 14 other children and her father and mother. Nellie’s father was a wealthy landowner in Pennsylvania. He founded the town Nellie and her siblings grew up in, Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania. He married twice, first to a woman who died after having six children, and then to Nellie’s mother, Mary Jane Cochran (maiden name Mary Jane Kennedy). She had four children with her second husband, including Nellie Bly. Mary Jane died of old age in 1921. Mildred Cochran Mclaughlin was Nellie’s oldest sibling, she was born June 5, 1851 in Cochran’s Mills Pennsylvania. She went on to marry a man by the last name of Mclaughlin and had several children. William Worth Cochran was born April 11, 1848 in the Mills. His mother, Catherine Murphy, died when he was younger and his father’s second wife, Nellie’s mother, took him in. Harry Cummings Cochran was born March 15, 1870 in Pennsylvania. He was one of Nellie’s four full brothers and named after a distant relative. Albert Paul Cochran was born on Halloween in Pennsylvania. He went on to marry and have several children of his own. Robert Scot Cochran was Nellie’s half sibling. Angela K. Cochran, John Michael Cochran, Julianna McGrahm, and Mary Ann Sanchez were all Nellie’s half siblings as well. Thomas Jefferson Cochran and George Washington Cochran were named after former presidents of the United States and Isabella Davis was the youngest sibling of the 14. Nellie had her hands full.


Appendix II.

My Thoughts on her Writing

Nellie had an amazing writing voice; it was powerful, strong and to the point. She had a large vocabulary and used big words to emphasise her ideas, yet kept things short when they were not as important. Nellie was a very funny person.She was kind and tried to help people whenever she could and I think people liked her because of it. At one point in her book Around the World in Seventy Two Days, Nellie is late for a boat and the man bringing her to the port asks her if she can run. She says “yes”, and together they run all the way through the town to the boat. Nellie says they laughed the whole way and the man thanked her afterwards for giving him such a wonderful time. I think Nellie tried to make a statement with her writing. She didn’t want it to be about her, she wanted it to be about the writing and the point she was trying to make. Nellie was strong-willed and did not like to be told what to do or how to do things. She was eager to learn and teach and she was not to be deterred from her dreams. Nellie didn’t care what people thought of her and in that way she was very different from most women of her time. It is clear that a lot of the people she spent her time with had some sexist ideas. At one point in one of her books a man was writing up her passport when he asked everyone else in the room to leave. He made Nellie swear to tell the truth before asking her how old she was and how much she weighed. Nellie laughed at the man and told him willingly her age and weight, not caring who knew. Over and over again in her books, Nellie displays unique skills and a strong mind. She wanted to educate people about the hardships for not only women of the time, but also the average citizen. She wanted to help and she was prepared to do anything to achieve her dreams.  

Appendix III.

Excerpts From Her Book

“Gather up all the real smart girls, pull them out of the mire, give them a shove up the ladder of life, and be amply repaid both by their success and unforgetfulness of those that held out the helping hand.” Nellie Bly said this in a report in early 1885. She was 18. This report got her a job at her first newspaper, a boost of confidence, and the greatest shove up the ladder of life anyone could get. Nellie signed this report as the “Lonely Orphan Girl”. A lot of people have looked at this name and thought about why she would call herself this. She was not an orphan; her mother was still well. She was not lonely; she had more than enough siblings. But at the same time she was an orphan. She was alone. Most of her siblings had moved out, gone along to find their own shoves up the ladder. Nellie had been left to fend for herself and her elderly mother. I think Nellie felt like she was alone. She was a girl in a steadily progressing world where if she didn’t become something more than an innkeeper and a daughter she would be forgotten and pushed aside in the race to get to the top. Here is the beginning of her first report:

What shall we do with our girls?

Not our Madame Neilisons; nor our Mary Anderson’s; not our Bessie Brambles nor our Maggie Mitchells; not our beaty or our heiress; not any of these, but those without talent, without beaty, without money. What shall we do with them? The anxious father still wants to know what to do with his five daughters. Well indeed may he wonder. Girls, since the existence of Eve, have been a worriement, to themselves as well as to their parents, as to what shall be done with them. They cannot, or will not, as in the case may be, all marry. Few, very few, posses the mighty pen of the late Jane Grey Swisshelm, and even writers, lecturers, doctors, preachers, and edits must have money  as well as ability to fit them to be such. What is to be done with the poor ones? The schools are overrun with teachers, the stores with clerks, the factories with employees. There are more cooks, chamber maids, and washerwoman than can find employment. In fact all places that are filled with women are overrun, and still there are idle girls, some with elderly parents depending on them. We cannot let them starve. They can that have full and plenty of this world’s goods, realize what it is to be a poor working woman, abiding in one or two bare rooms, without fire enough to keep warm, while her threadbare clothes refuse to protect her from the wind and cold, and denying herself necessary food that her little ones may not go hungry; fearing the landlords frown and threat to cast her out and sell what little she has, begging for employment of any kind that may earn enough to pay for the bare rooms she calls home, no one to speak kindly to encourage her, nothing to make life worth the living? If sin in the form of man comes forward with a wily smile and says ‘fear no more, your debts shall be repaid,’ she can not let her children freeze or starve, and so falls. Well, who shall blame her. Will it be you that have a comfortable home and a loving husband, sturdy, healthy children, fond friends – shall you cast the first stone? It must be so; assuredly it would not be cast by one similar situated. Not only the widow, but the poor maiden needs employment. Perhaps father is dead and mother is helpless, or just the reverse; or maybe both are dependant on her extensions, or an orphan entirely, as the case maybe.     

In this small page of words we see that Nellie was not going to sit and watch people mistreat girls that had nothing. Nellie paints a picture of what it was like for girls like her to live at the time. She makes a point to call out the wealthy’s flaws and clearly states that girls are just as worthy of she push up the ladder as anyone. Nellie would not stand by and watch as girls like her starved and ran out of money. She was going to make a difference no matter what. And she gave herself the first push up the ladder to doing that with this paper.

Nellie continued to write amazing reports and papers over her lifetime. When she went around the world in under 80 days she kept journals and notebooks and filled them with stories. When she returned, she pieced them together into a book of adventures. Here’s one of her stories:


WHAT gave me the idea?

It is sometimes difficult to tell exactly what gives birth to an idea. Ideas are the chief stock in trade of newspaper writers and generally they are the scarcest stock in market, but they do come occasionally,

This idea came to me one Sunday. I had spent a greater part of the day and half the night vainly trying to fasten on some idea for a newspaper article. It was my custom to think up ideas on Sunday and lay them before my editor for his approval or disapproval on Monday. But ideas did not come that day and three o’clock in the morning found me weary and with an aching head tossing about in my bed. At last tired and provoked at my slowness in finding a subject, something for the week’s work, I thought fretfully:

“I wish I was at the other end of the earth!”

“And why not?” the thought came: “I need a vacation; why not take a trip around the world?”

It is easy to see how one thought followed another. The idea of a trip around the world pleased me and I added: “If I could do it as quickly as Phileas Fogg did, I should go.”

Then I wondered if it were possible to do the trip eighty days and afterwards I went easily off to sleep with the determination to know before I saw my bed again if Phileas Fogg’s record could be broken.

Nellie Bly was one of the most influential people of her time. She was a smart, personable woman who knew who she wanted to be and how to change the world. Her writings are still important today.


Bly, Nellie. Around the World in 72 Days. Pictorial Weeklies, 1890.

Bly, Nellie. Corrigan, Maureen. Lutes, Jean. Around the World in 72 Days and Other Writings. Penguin Classics, 2014.   

Bradner, Leisly. “Nellie Bly: Crusading Troublemaker.” History Net, February 2018,  

Fessenden, Marissa. “Nellie Bly’s Record Breaking Trip Around the World Was, to her Surprise, a Race.” Smart News, January 25, 2016,  

“Nellie Bly Biography.”, January 21, 2019,

“Nellie Bly.” Encyclopedia Britannica, January 23, 2019,  

Norwood, Arlisha. “Nellie Bly.”  National Women’s History Museum, 2017,                   

“Pioneer Settlement in Indiana.” The History Museum,     

Wills, Mathew. “Nellie Bly, Girl Reporter.” Daily, November 14, 2014,

May 21st, 2019|

Student Writing: Are Meat Eaters Causing The World’s Problems?



Are Meat Eaters Causing The World’s Problems?

Have you ever thought about being a vegetarian? People become vegetarian for all sorts of reasons including ethics, environmental, economic, religious, health, and just liking the vegetarian cuisine. People look for easy, obvious fixes to major global issues in a time of struggle such as this. Many people either overlook or are unaware of the effect that becoming vegetarian could have on many worldwide issues.

Eating meat seems like a personal choice. But in fact, the dietary choices each individual makes have an effect on the global community. Did you know that “70% of the grain produced in the US is used to feed livestock” (Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie)? If that grain was fed straight to humans we could feed an additional “4 billion people” (Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie). Or alternatively, we could export the grain to other countries and increase the trade balance by a staggering “80 million dollars a year” which could be used to benefit any number of issues in the US (Why Go Veg?).

The environmental argument for becoming a vegetarian is as good as any and probably better than most because it affects everyone in the world through climate change, world hunger, and world economy. The production of livestock is responsible for “15% of global greenhouse gas emissions which is more than all of the world’s planes, trains, and automobiles put together” (What If The World Went Vegetarian? 00:01:32-00:01:35).

You may also be familiar with the water crisis. Did you know that meat consumption is a factor? It takes 15,000 liters of water to make one kilogram of beef. Compare that with 300 liters for one kilogram of garden veggies and 900 liters for cereal crops. Even if you take the ratio of calories produced to the water required, beef takes seven times more water to make one calorie than veggies and twenty times more than cereal crops. In fact, you can save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you can by not showering for six months. Most people are aware of carbon monoxide as a threat to our climate. Methane is an even bigger threat. “It has 25% more climate-changing power than carbon monoxide” and cows on average produce 70-120 kilograms a year (What If The World Went Vegetarian? 00:01:25-00:01:47). Multiply that by the 1.5 billion cows in the world and that makes 180 billion kilograms of methane per year. You can imagine the impact that would have over your lifetime.

Not only is cutting the meat from your diet healthy for the environment, but also beneficial for your personal health. “An Oxford study published in the British Medical Journal found that vegetarians outlive meat eaters by six years on average” (Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie). The correlation between meat consumption and a wide range of degenerative diseases is well founded and includes Osteoporosis, kidney stones and Gallstones, Diabetes, Multiple sclerosis, Arthritis, and gum disease. In fact, five diet-related chronic diseases cost the US economy a staggering $1 trillion each year! (This is an estimate of direct medical costs and the indirect impact of productivity losses due to illness and premature death associated with chronic heart disease and stroke, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis). With a trillion dollars, for some perspective, you could spend one dollar every second around the clock and not run out for 312,688 years. Vegetarians have been shown to have a 24% lower risk of dying of heart disease than non-vegetarians (“Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie”). “Heart disease is responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths in the US which makes it the number one cause of death in the US” (Heart Disease Facts).  Just by not eating meat you can vastly decrease your chances of getting heart disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a division of the CDC, the National Center for Health Statistics, “64% of adults and 15% of children aged 6 to 19 are overweight” which eating meat has been shown to have a correlation with (“Why Go Veg?”). Many unhealthy aspects of life are out of your control, but your diet is something you do have control over.

Another danger in eating meat is drug exposure. It is fairly common knowledge that many animals raised for slaughter receive antibiotics to counteract the bacteria they are exposed to from living in crowded conditions. According to a study from the Center for Food Safety 99.9% of chicken and 78% of beef consumed in the United States come from overcrowded factory farms. It is less known however that these animals are exposed to over 400 kinds of drugs to either make them grow abnormally fast or to keep them alive in conditions that would normally kill them. The Center for Food Safety even found drugs that pose significant threats to humans and animals in the meat. These drugs have been approved by the FDA and are on the market. Twelve of these drugs are banned in other countries but remain legal to use in the US. Many big corporations in the agricultural sector have close ties with the FDA and can manipulate the FDA to benefit them and their industry.

These drugs fed to livestock include a vast number of antibiotics. An issue that is gaining more widespread public awareness is the threat of antibiotic resistance. You might be aware of this problem, but did you know that “80% of antibiotics in the US are used to feed livestock raised for meat production” (Over 450 Drugs Are Administered to Farmed Animals Julie Cappiello)? Antibiotic resistance is a major global issue. Essentially, the increasing human population means more meat production, and as our meat production rises so does the number of overcrowded farms. With overcrowded farms, bacteria thrives which leads to antibiotic use. The trouble now is that with more and more bacteria and more and more antibiotics, scientists fear that bacteria will develop a resistance to antibiotics, and by 2050, we should expect to lose 10 million people each year as a result. Many of these problems could be helped by less meat production.

Being a vegetarian is not just an alternative to negative consequences, it’s a lifestyle that offers many different options and leads to good health. There are more options for vegetarians than ever before. Travel companies are adding trips that only visit vegetarian restaurants, and it is easier than ever to find dining options all over the world. New vegan and vegetarian restaurants are opening with the increased popularity of this lifestyle and more restaurants are making efforts to accommodate vegetarians. People who become vegetarian often say they feel healthier. One thing that people don’t realize when they say “I couldn’t live without meat” or “I would be a vegetarian but I just like meat too much” is that there are scrumptious meals that vegetarians eat all of the time. For example; in some parts of India most people are vegetarian. All around the world, there are traditional cuisines that feature vegetarian dishes. Some of the most delicious foods come from places like India, Thailand, and the Mediterranean.

If you are unfamiliar with veganism, it is a lifestyle that means different things for different people. For some, it means not consuming any animal products such as milk, eggs, or honey. For others, it means not even using any animal products, such as wool, leather, and down feathers. Veganism is a much harder diet to follow than vegetarianism especially if you have other dietary restrictions. It has a huge environmental impact as well. One way that being vegan helps animals, is that it helps to eradicate the overcrowded dairy and egg farms all over the world. To learn more about being a vegan you may consider looking at the information found on The Vegan Society.

You can make a major impact by choosing not to eat meat. The simple choice of becoming vegetarian could vastly improve the state of many serious and complex issues. I implore you to consider becoming vegetarian which would improve your own health as well as many worldwide problems. Imagine you and your family searching for new vegetarian recipes, laughing at the ones that look disgusting and bookmarking the ones that look good. You might have fun searching and making your new favorite vegetarian dishes, or maybe the best part of being vegetarian for you is that you enjoy helping the issues that matter to you. You don’t have to be a certain kind of person to become a vegetarian. All different kinds of people become vegetarian for all different reasons and I believe that there is a compelling reason for everyone.


Antibiotics- a medicine (such as penicillin or its derivatives) that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms

CDC- Center for Disease Control

FDA- Food and Drug Administration

Vegan- a person who does not eat or use animal products

Vegetarian- a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons

Works Cited

Cappiello, Julie. “Over 450 Drugs Are Administered to Farmed Animals.” Mercy for Animals, April 13, 2017,

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Heart Disease Facts.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention, November 28, 2017,

Cook, Michelle Schoffro. “Shocking Drugs Contaminate American Meat Supply.” Care2, September 10, 2018,

Down to Earth. “Top ten reasons to go veggie.” Down to Earth, 01/30/2019,

Majd, Sanaz. “How to Be a Healthy Vegetarian.” Quick and Dirty Tips, January 17, 2018,

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH). “7 Things To Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH), September 24, 2015, (adapted by Newsela staff). “Issue Overview: Should people become vegetarians?” Newsela, 11/21/2016,

Tyler Irving, Mitchell Moffit, and Gregory Brown. “What If The World Went Vegetarian?” YouTube, Mar 24, 2016,

Vegetarian Times Editor. “Why Go Veg?” Vegetarian Times, June 15, 2007,

Walsh, Nora. “Vegan or Vegetarian? You Have More Travel and Dining Options Than Ever.” The New York Times, Nov. 13, 2018,

Whoriskey, Peter. “Is a vegetarian diet really better for the environment? Science takes aim at the conventional wisdom.” The Washington Post, December 18, 2015,

March 19th, 2019|

Climate Change

I am so incredibly proud of this student, author of “Plastic in Our Oceans” and “Factory Farming”. She has honed her writing skills and continues to produce powerful, well-written essays about important topics. She worked so hard on this essay and always accepted my edits and suggestions with a smile and willingness to learn. I can’t wait to see what she writes next! 



Grade 6

Climate Change


You have probably heard of climate change before. Maybe you’ve heard about it on the news or read about it somewhere. Some people deny climate change. But we have a serious problem that we can’t keep ignoring: our climate is changing. Temperatures are rising, storms are coming, floods are wiping out crops, forest fires are burning cities and towns, famine and diseases are killing hundreds of people at a time, droughts are preventing people from getting water, animals are being affected, and all this is climate change.

We have to get a few things straight. First, isn’t the climate supposed to change? Yes. It is supposed to change. Believe it or not the climate changes naturally. The temperatures go up and throw the planet into a hot hundred years, the oceans bubble and boil in the heat, volcanoes erupt into the ashy dark sky. Then the temperatures drop and the world freezes. Ice, snow, sleet, and hail pour from the sky and mold to the earth in the cold. Glaciers collapse and bury frozen plants, and the little life there is during the Ice age. So climate change is supposed to happen. Then why is this such a big deal? If this is all natural, then why are there storms and droughts all over the news? It’s because we caused the climate to change and our climate is changing way too fast. Because of the Industrial Revolution, which was when humans started to affect the climate, fossil fuels have caused the entire planet to have a massive problem. The climate is warming and the planet is creating lots of problems for humans. From droughts in South Africa to hurricanes and floods in Puerto Rico and the United States. From forest fires in California to melting ice in the North Pole. If we don’t do something soon the planet is going to get very, very, hot. And there is no Planet B.

What Causes the Climate to Change

The climate determines the weather patterns. Earth’s climate has storms; blizzards, thunder and lightning storms, hail, and sand storms. It can be sunny; warm, occasionally hot. There are droughts and dry seasons. All this is our climate: an even balance. It’s not supposed to change as fast as it is now. But everywhere it’s getting warmer. Snow and ice are melting and flowing into oceans, making sea levels rise eight inches in 100 years. In places that are already hot, the sand is drying up, cracking, and water sources like blue lakes and bubbling streams are disappearing. The earth, where water once was, turns dry and yellow. The reason for this starts with greenhouse gases.

Earth’s atmosphere reaches about 60 miles into space. Our atmosphere is made of gases. The primary ones are nitrogen and oxygen. They make up more than 99% of the atmosphere. The rest consists of greenhouse gases. These gases function just like their name says: like a greenhouse. Have you ever seen a greenhouse? Greenhouses are made of glass or plastic. The plastic or glass lets sunlight in to warm plants inside, but it doesn’t let it out, keeping the room inside at a good temperature, protecting the plants and allowing them to thrive at all times, even at night! Greenhouse gasses are a key component to our atmosphere and they work in the same way, keeping our earth’s temperatures reasonably steady. Without greenhouse gases the earth would be cold and frozen. For 10 thousand years the atmosphere’s greenhouse gases have been doing their job. But now all that is changing because recently, greenhouse gas levels have risen. They are trapping light in Earth’s atmosphere. Temperatures are steadily rising.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is everywhere; in oceans, rocks, soil, even in us! People and animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out CO2. Gail Herman, author of ‘What is Climate Change’, described the atmosphere as a “delicate balancing act” because if there is too much CO2 or too much oxygen the balance tips and everything is destroyed. It’s called climate change. And it’s happening now.

Four point six billion years ago Earth had just formed and it was very hot. At times reaching more than 3,600° F. It was like a volcano! But the earth cooled, the planet shifted and seasons began. The climate changed and everything became cold. The reason for this climate change billions of years ago was the first life: a small bacteria living in the ocean. The bacteria gave off oxygen and volcanoes give off C02 when they erupt. Everything was in balance. It was the combination of a lapse in volcanic activity that tipped the balance between CO2 and oxygen and the new oxygen replaced the greenhouse gases that cooled the planet. The world was cold until more life was born, creatures that breathed in oxygen and released CO2. The world balanced out again. There would be two more freezes that followed the short time of balance. The temperature would rise and fall. Lands shifted and collided, oceans were formed, and volcanoes erupted. About 540 million years ago the temperature was in a temporary balanced time. The Dinosaur Age was here. Then 66 million years ago, another climate change happened. An asteroid hit Earth. It sprung up fires, buried plants and animals, and filled the sky with smoke and ash that blocked out the sun. The earth grew cold and dark again. The dinosaurs were extinct.  Soon the air cleared and the sun warmed the earth again. The Age of Mammals arrived. Our ancestors came, hunting in the mountains and valleys. The planet steadied out again. Our planet goes through cycles;cold and hot times lasting around a hundred thousand years each. We call these stages ice ages. And believe it or not, now we are in a warm ice age. Around now the earth should be getting colder, not warmer.

Ninety seven percent of climate scientists agree that the cause of this is human beings. It all started 250 years ago, during the Industrial Revolution. Humans went from small wood spinning wheels to giant factories billowing smoke into the air. These factories used fossil fuels to power their machines. Coal, oil, and gas are all fossil fuels we use today. Fossil fuels are fossilized plants and animals. When these fuels are burned they release C02 into the air. Trains, cars, planes, factories, and buses all use a fossil fuel to power them. This is throwing the balance off. This is climate change.

How Climate Change Could Affect You


“To know what a wildfire might do next, researchers need to know how an inferno interacts with the atmosphere” said Craig Clements in an interview with Scientific America.  

Wildfires are extremely hot, extremely dangerous incidents that can occur in droughts or even when lightning strikes the earth.  In California, a wildfire recently ripped through the town of Paradise, and burned homes and schools to the ground. People died. Homes were destroyed.  Scientists believe that to prevent more horrible fires we need to know more about how climate affects the fires. As the fire starts to ignite and grow larger and more powerful, it starts to create its own wind. This is a serious problem, because the more oxygen the fire consumes, the bigger and hotter it gets. If the wind is blowing around 10 miles per hour, the fire won’t be as big of a problem. But if the wind picks up to 20 mph, that starts to become a problem. When this happens, fires spread rapidly. And when they start to burn for real, spreading with immense heat, and fueled by the wind they create and the life they consume, they start burning more and more ferociously and there is almost no way of stopping them. This in turn creates even more wind and puts even more heat into the already sweltering and smoke filled air.

These fires hurt people. In Paradise, California the search is still going to find the people lost in the rubble. Hundreds of people lost their homes. Some people might ask how this could affect them. This is happening all the way across the country. It can’t affect us! But this is a misconception. Climate change is an unpredictable force of nature and it will affect all of us unless we do something.

Water Crisis

Climate change is affecting everything, from wildfires in California to water in South Africa. In Senekal, South Africa, a little town on a river, with lots of sun, situated at the bottom of South Africa, a drought is ravaging through the town. It has caused farmers to stop planting the crops that feed the town and cattle have been sold early, the owners unable to watch their animals die of dehydration. The cause of the drought is something called El Nino. It is a weather pattern influenced by climate change. El Nino is not caused by climate change, but the effects of it are made worse by our changing climate. El Nino has started to cause extreme droughts in other parts of Africa, western United States, and in South Africa. Water storage is slowly depleting and recently, some people have had to resort to receiving water from emergency supplies. People don’t know where this water is coming from. Soon, they will have no water at all. This day is known as “Day Zero”. On Day Zero water supplies will be cut off and the people of South Africa will be without one of the main sources of life on this planet: water. Again, some people may be thinking, this crisis is across the world from me! I won’t be affected by El Nino and these droughts at all! And, again, this assumption is wrong. The United States is being affected too. Recently temperatures have been over 95 degrees in western United States. Droughts are becoming more prominent. Annual precipitation has increased by 20% and floods and hurricanes have never been worse. We all will be affected soon.

Famine and Disease

With all the damage that floods and storms bring and all the lives the fires destroy combined with the droughts that devastate farm fields, food has become scarce in some places. The threat of famine is on the edge of throwing hundreds of people into starvation. Famine is the lack of food. When storms rip through towns and farm fields, they destroy food sources which many people need to survive. Many effects on agriculture in the Midwest are becoming harder to navigate around for farmers. Flood damage to drainage systems are creating a problem of less drinking water in some places. Climate change is going to make growing food harder.  Disease is another problem climate change is affecting. Air quality is decreasing, causing more heat-related illnesses, in the Midwest.

How Climate Change Affects Animals

In the 1980’s polar bears roamed the icy cold shores of the North Pole. They played along the ice and ran in the snowy mountains. In winter when the ice was still solid and thick the bears hunted, catching seals and swimming. They were strong and healthy, preparing for the summer when the ice wasn’t strong enough to hold them up. When the summer did come, they waited for winter, playing and running. But in 2016, polar bears were thin and weak. The bears’ hunting season is melting away, just like the ice. The ice is strong for only a couple months and temperatures are rising because of climate change. Therefore the ice the polar bears need to survive is disappearing. The polar bears can’t catch enough seals to keep themselves alive for the summer. The animals of our planet need our help. They are being affected by climate change just as much as humans are.

Other animals are being hurt as well. Rising temperatures are forcing moose to move north, seeking the colder areas of Canada and the United States. Salmon need to find the cool waters of rivers to spawn and climate change is not making that easy. Turtles are being tangled in plastic and fishing nets and they drown in the waters (Plastic in the Oceans). Whales and dolphins are being poisoned by the changing climate and the warming waters. People in droughts are finding it harder and harder to find water to give their livestock so cows and horses, ducks and chickens, even dogs and cats, are dying of dehydration. Animals in the deserts are running out of the little water they have. Climate Change is destroying our planet, killing the animals and plants that used to thrive here. This is our job to fix.

How to Delay Climate Change

On top of all this some people think climate change is a hoax! But it is real. Think of the baby polar bears starving in the cold, waiting for their parents to return with food that will never come. Or flooded houses and towns that were once someone’s home, washed away by flooding oceans. Or the dry deserts that were once lakes and rivers. If this isn’t proof enough, then look at the rising temperatures, the educated scientists telling us we have to act! The climate is changing. Snow and ice is melting. Oceans are flooding. Rivers and lakes are drying up. People’s homes are being burned or flooded.

We can not stop climate change, but we can delay climate change. The climate is supposed to change. It’s natural, but the climate can’t change this fast. We have to help slow it down to normal. One way is to carpool, so less cars are driven and less fossil fuels are burned. Other ways are to ride your bike, use less hot water, eat more local vegetables so trucks don’t have to use so much fossil fuel shipping it here, and/or eat less meat. Believe it or not, factory farms that have a lot of cows in one place all crowded together is really bad for the environment, but not exactly in the way you would think. Cow farts contain massive amounts of methane, which is a big contributor to this problem with our climate.  Funny right? Not really. Climate change is not funny. People get killed. Entire cities are burned to the ground. And everyone is going to be affected by this. Including you. Unless we do something about this.  There are a lot of ways to help, from volunteering to educating others about this serious problem. There are lots of different ways to get involved in the projects to help people, animals, and habitats from being destroyed by fires, floods, and storms, including: reading different articles and books that educate people about climate change, consider buying hybrid or electric cars, donating to different organizations (Sea Turtle Conservancy,  Earth Day Network, Climate Project), and many others.


Climate change is real. The climate is changing and we are doing almost nothing to delay it. But we can change that. Unless we do something, we are going to be our own destruction. Unless we find an alternative to fossil fuels – ride our bikes, volunteer, march on Earth Day, decide to educate ourselves and others – we are going to be the ones ruining our planet. And there is no planet B.


Cimons, Marlene. “A warmer planet might make deadly bacteria more resistant to antibiotics.” Nexus Media, June 14, 2018,

Landhuis, Esther. “The war on superbugs.” Science News for Students, July 16, 2014,

“South Africa city braces for strict water limits as the well runs dry.” Newsela, February 8, 2018,

“Climate change in the U.S. Midwest.” Newsela, April 6, 2017,

“Top 10 animals endangered by climate change.” One Kind Planet, 2016,

Wallace-Wells, David. “The Uninhabitable Earth.” Intelligencer,

“Climate change: How do we know?” Global Climate Change,

Thompson, Andrea. “This scientist chases wildfires to better predict fire behavior.” ScientificAmerican,

January 11th, 2019|

Mohandas Gandhi

By Mason


Many people have heard of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who is often referred to as Mahatma, meaning great soul, or Bapu, meaning grandfather. However, what may be less known are all his accomplishments, challenges, and goals. This one man has influenced and helped so many people, and continues to inspire others to do the same.

Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar India, and was shot and killed on January 30, 1948, while he was praying. He accomplished what many would have called impossible. When he saw unfairness, he stood up against it even if it meant he had to fast, march, rally, or meet with officials. He stood up for others, at little or no personal gain. He stood up for his beliefs and didn’t let anyone get in the way of accomplishing what he wanted, and I hope he continues to inspire many more people to try their best to fight for what they believe in.


Later in Gandhi’s life, he did many amazing things. However, his childhood was nothing too out of the ordinary. Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar India, on the shore of the Arabian Sea. He grew up in a full house with his two older brothers, his older sister, his mother, his father, and all his uncles, aunts, and cousins. Gandhi grew up Hindu. His mother Putliba was especially religious. In Hinduism, there were four castes or groups that you could belong to that determined your social status. The caste system still exists today. Although discrimination based on caste is illegal, the castes are still a big part of modern-day India. While the term “caste” is still widely used in the more rural parts of India, in the cities some Indians don’t refer to them as “castes”. Instead, they call them “communities”, although no one denies that they are really castes. The Brahmins are priests and teachers. The Kshatriyas are rulers and warriors. Vaisyas are merchants and farmers. And lastly, Shudras are the laboring classes. Even though there are four castes, there are some people who didn’t belong to any caste at all. These people are called the untouchables. An untouchable is said to have done something bad in his or her previous life and they experience a lot of prejudice, more so in the past than today. Gandhi would later devote part of his life to help the untouchables fight for their rights. Gandhi’s family belonged to the third caste because Gandhi’s father, Karamchand Gandhi, was the Daiwan, or prime minister, of Porbandar, where they lived. Since his family was relatively wealthy, Gandhi got to go to school and didn’t have to help his family earn money like most children in India at the time.

As a kid, Gandhi had a lot of independence and he was adventurous. He loved to go exploring the market in Porbandar. One day when Mohandas was six he and his friends sneaked into the temple while the priest was taking an afternoon nap and took some of the sacred statues to play with, but one of his friends dropped a statue and the priest’s wife heard them. Mohandas was the only one who admitted guilt, even at age six he preferred to tell the truth. When Gandhi was eight Britain fully took over India and Queen Victoria ruled over India.

In 1879, when Gandhi was ten, his family moved to Rajkot where he went to high school. Later the school would be named after him. When Gandhi was just thirteen he was married to a fourteen-year-old girl named Kasturba. Getting married young was not uncommon then. Gandhi was a domineering husband, and unjustly strict to Kasturba. Also for Gandhi, having a wife was a huge distraction from his school work. Despite his early marriage, Gandhi and Kasturba were married for 62 years until Kasturba died in 1944. When Gandhi was 16, his father died of illness. Karamchand had been on a steady decline, so Gandhi had stayed with him. But just when Gandhi left to get some sleep and to be with Kasturba, his father passed away quite suddenly. A few weeks after Gandhi’s father’s death Kasturba gave birth to a baby boy, but unfortunately, he died soon after he was born. Before Gandhi turned 18, he and Kasturba had their first surviving son. His name was Harilal.

In 1888, Gandhi said goodbye to Kasturba and set off for London. He had decided to study law so that he could eventually fulfill his father’s role as Daiwan. His mother insisted that he not touch meat or drink alcohol because their branch of Hinduism prohibited them from doing so. The voyage to London took three weeks by boat. And when he got there he was amazed by the bright lights. He discovered vegetarian restaurants in London and joined the London Vegetarian Society. A member of the society gave him a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, also called the Gita for short, which is the sacred book of Hinduism, and another member gave him the Bible. Although he had heard some of the Gita read at religious services, he had never actually read it all the way through. Gandhi felt greatly moved by the Gita. In 1890 Gandhi passed his bar examination and in 1891 he went back to India. When he got back to India, one of his brothers informed him at the dock that their mother had died a few weeks earlier. Gandhi decided to move to Bombay to start a career as a lawyer. Gandhi started a law practice, but finding himself tongue-tied at his first trial Gandhi moved back to Rajkot where he and Kasturba had their second child in 1892. Around that time, out of the blue, someone offered Gandhi job. They were involved in a lawsuit in South Africa, and there was a need for an Indian lawyer. Gandhi immediately accepted. Only a little after he arrived in Durban Gandhi was called to attend the trial.

On the way to the trial, Gandhi experienced something he had never experienced before racial prejudice. While on the train, a railroad official ordered him to ride in the baggage car. Gandhi replied that he had a first class ticket and intended to remain in the first class compartment. A police officer was called to remove him from the train and his baggage was locked up. Sitting in that station that night he decided that he would do his best to change the lives of thousands of Indians who were being discriminated against in South Africa. Gandhi continued to experience racism on the rest of his journey to the trial. On the rest of Gandhi’s trip,  the agent would not allow him to ride in the coach with the other passengers. He wanted Gandhi to sit on the floorboards at the driver’s feet. When Gandhi refused, the agent punched him. The passengers helped him by insisting that Gandhi stay in the coach.


At the time, Gandhi thought that his trip to South Africa would be only a business trip, but later Gandhi spent most of his adult life there advocating for racial justice, untouchables’ rights, and many other important issues. His activism there was partly prompted by the racism and prejudice he experienced on his way to the trial. When the trial was over Gandhi learned of a bill being passed in the South African province of Natal by the all-white legislature at the time, that prohibited Indians from voting. Their reasoning for passing the Franchise Amendment Bill was that they claimed that Indians could not understand the government anyway. The government even stated that “he is a political infant of the most backward type,” (Severance) referring to the Indian citizen. When Gandhi asked many of his Indian friends about what they thought about the bill, he got shrugs and they expressed that they thought there was no use fighting the white men. Because of this, Gandhi decided to help fight the bill.

Gandhi believed that since the Indians were also under Queen Victoria’s rule, they were entitled to the same rights. Some wealthy Muslim merchants asked Gandhi to postpone his return to India and he agreed to stay and help organize a movement against the Franchise Amendment Bill. Gandhi organized a meeting to form an Indian opposition. Under his direction, Indians sent letters to legislatures and made a petition that picked up over ten thousand signatures. It was sent to the Secretary of State for the British colonies. Unfortunately, this massive movement only delayed the passing of the bill. After the opposition to the Franchise Amendment Bill ended, Gandhi’s friends begged him to stay. Gandhi agreed and he started a law office in Durban in the province of Natal, South Africa. But he never charged legal fees for public work. Over the next three years, the practice thrived and Gandhi organized much more.

Gandhi, realizing that his work in South Africa would take longer than he had initially thought, decided to go back to India and bring Kasturba and their two sons to Natal. He took six months off and went back to India. While in India, Gandhi gave many speeches and wrote pamphlets about the unjust treatment of Indians in South Africa. He also met many other political leaders.

At the end of his ride back to Natal with several hundred passengers, his two sons, and Kasturba pregnant with a third child, the Natal government would not allow them to get off the ship. The vessel was anchored in the harbor for three weeks before the government finally allowed them off the boat. When the captain of the ship asked Gandhi about how he felt about the authorities who were trying their best to stop him from returning to Natal Gandhi said, “I have no anger against them. I am only sorry for the ignorance and narrowness. I know that they sincerely believe that what they’re doing today is right and proper” (Severance). When he was finally permitted to go ashore he was beaten by a white mob. He was rescued by the wife of a police superintendent who protected him until the police arrived. The news of the attack spread to England where many people were upset. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, sent word from London that the attackers should be prosecuted. Gandhi refused, saying that it was not their fault but the fault of the Natal government. Under pressure from Chamberlain and from the British government in India, the Natal legislature passed a law establishing equal voting rights for all British subjects. This had been Gandhi’s goal all along.

As soon as Gandhi was done rallying for equal voting rights he was on to a new problem: untouchability. There were many people called untouchables who experienced much prejudice. Untouchables were the people who did not to belong to any caste at all. Even touching the untouchables or the untouchables’ shadows was said to be a bad omen. Gandhi believed that there should be no untouchability. He thought that it was too much like racial prejudice. Gandhi and Kasturba started sharing the housework with the untouchables, although in the beginning Kasturba was opposed to the idea. Gandhi had come to believe that learning self-reliance was more important than a formal education. He would not send his sons to local schools because he believed that the schools were too European. Gandhi didn’t want his sons to learn Western ways without learning anything about their own culture. Even though Gandhi made them wear western clothes and shoes, he kept them home, hoping to find time to tutor them himself. When his sons were grown, all four of them resented the fact that they never got a good education.

In 1899 a war broke out between the British and the Boer settlers in Transvaal, South Africa. The Boers were Dutch farmers who settled in South Africa. The Boers were angry at the English adventurers who were moving into Boer territory to mine gold and diamonds. Gandhi was sympathetic to the Boers, but he felt obligated to help the British because he believed that the citizens of the empire should support the government from which they expected their benefits. He thought that it would be a good opportunity to earn improved conditions for the Indians by demonstrating their loyalty to the British. Because of Gandhi’s strict beliefs in nonviolence instead of organizing an Indian regiment to kill enemy soldiers, he decided to establish an ambulance corps of stretcher bearers and hospital workers. Gandhi and some other Indians started training as nurses, but because of racial prejudice, the Natal government would not permit them to serve. A little later when the war became more difficult for the British, Gandhi’s ambulance corps was allowed to go into action. The corps was especially heroic at one of the bloodiest fights in the war: The Battle of Spion Kop. Winston Churchill was also at the battle but he and Gandhi didn’t meet until a few years later. When the war was over Gandhi thought his work in Natal was finished and the task of improving the situation of Indians in South Africa could be carried on by friends. He also hoped that his work in the war would be rewarded with better treatment of the Indians in South Africa.

Gandhi moved back to Bombay where he opened a new law office. At his farewell party in South Africa, he was showered with gold, silver, and diamond jewelry. Gandhi was made uncomfortable by all of this because he believed that “a public worker should except no costly gifts” (Severance). Gandhi decided to refuse the treasures, but Kasturba didn’t want to give up a very expensive gold necklace. Not very long after Gandhi had started his law office in Bombay he was called back to South Africa in 1902. The government in England was extremely anxious to keep the peace between the British and the Boers. Concessions were granted and a former Boer leader, General Louis Botha, became prime minister of the Union of South Africa. Issues arose when his government was trying to “drive the coolies out of the country” (Severance), referring to the local Indian population.

The Secretary of State for the colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, would be visiting from London and the Indian community in South Africa wanted Gandhi to meet with him in Durban. They hoped he could persuade Mr. Chamberlin to do something about the rising tide of racial prejudice. When Gandhi arrived back in South Africa, he saw that the situation had become much worse. The Indians’ ambulance corps serving in the Boer war had been totally forgotten. There was much more racial prejudice in South Africa. When Gandhi met with Chamberlain, who had other issues on his mind, he was only mildly sympathetic. He told Gandhi that the other Indians would have to try and make their own peace with the Europeans if they wanted to live among them.

In 1904 Pneumonic Plague broke out in the Indian section of Johannesburg, South Africa. The Pneumonic Plague kills quickly by infecting the lungs and is very contagious. Gandhi had no fear of it. He and a couple of volunteers nursed some of the sickest patients in an old building at the edge of town. The health authorities evacuated the town and relocated the people to tents outside of the town. Then they set all the buildings in that part of town on fire to wipe out the plague.

When the plague was gone, Gandhi moved the newspaper he had founded in 1904 called the Indian Opinion to a ninety-acre farm near a town called Phoenix in Durban, South Africa. Gandhi wanted to give an example of a simple life, and 1905 Gandhi’s wife and three youngest sons joined him at the farm. Gandhi’s law practice was successful and he was becoming quite wealthy.

In 1906 the Zulu Rebellion broke out in Natal. When a Zulu chief killed a tax collector, the British authorities tried to punish the Zulus with local volunteer troops. The Zulus where a local tribe in South Africa. Gandhi decided to again order an Indian Ambulance Corp. The armature soldiers started beating and locking up any innocent Zulu farmers they saw. Gandhi and his corps started tending to the injured tribesmen. While traveling with the army he solidified his decision that he would devote himself to public service work.

When Gandhi’s work in the ambulance corps was over, the Johannesburg government proposed a law called the Asiatic Registration Bill or as Gandhi later named it, the “Black Act”, that would require all Indians and Chinese in Transvaal to be fingerprinted like criminals, and carry their certificates of registration at all times. Gandhi figured the “Black Act” (Severance) would cause even more discrimination and “absolute ruin for the Indians of South Africa” (Severance). At a mass meeting arranged by Gandhi in the Empire Theater in Johannesburg, three thousand angry Indians listened to the chairman of the British Indian Association of Transvaal read a resolution asking Hindus and Muslims alike to refuse to register. Other speakers urged everyone present to pledge refusal. Gandhi rose to state the pledging refusal was serious business and asked if everyone was ready to accept beatings, going to jail, or even death. When he was finished the entire crowd rose and swore to disobey the law even if it meant going to jail.

The pledge was a new kind of opposition to government unfairness. Many people described it as “passive resistance”. Gandhi wanted to find a name for this kind of resistance. He decided on publishing a competition in the Indian Opinion and offered a prize to whoever could come up with the best name. The name that won was “satyagraha” which in Hindi means “truth and firmness in a good cause” (Severance).

Gandhi, satisfied with the new name, decided to take a delegation to England. He was hoping to persuade the British government to withhold approval for the law. In October of 1906, Gandhi met with many important officials and requested that they help resist the law. On his way back to South Africa, Gandhi and his friends learned that the Secretary of State for the colonies, Victor Alexander Bruce, had refused ascent for the Black Act. Gandhi regarded this as a great victory for the Satyagrahi. Unfortunately, the Black Act was proposed again in July and passed. At first, the government was reluctant to arrest resisters and kept postponing the deadline for the registration. Eventually, they started arresting people. When Gandhi was arrested he asked for the maximum punishment. The confused judge said that admitting guilt does not call for the maximum punishment which would be six months in jail and a fine. Instead, he got two months in jail and no fine. While in jail, or as Gandhi called them, “His majesty’s hotels”, Gandhi had plenty of time to read. Gandhi wasn’t the only Indian in jail. The jails were filling up with Indians and former Boer general Jan Christiaan Smuts, who was then the Minister in charge of Indian Affairs, offered Gandhi a deal. He would release the prisoners if they would register voluntarily. Then General Smuts promised that he would repeal the law. Gandhi accepted, and the Indians were released. But many Indians were angry that he accepted. They thought of it as a betrayal. When Gandhi went to register he was beaten. Gandhi then decided to continue the resistance. At a mass meeting in Johannesburg, thousands of Indians burned their registrations. Gandhi, along with many others, was again thrown in jail. When their terms were up they would continue to agitate the law and get thrown into jail again. By late 1909, the situation had become a stalemate. In a final effort to resolve the issue, Gandhi led a delegation to London to lobby for the repeal of the Black Act. They spent three months discussing their cause in many meetings with government officials and influential private citizens. Gandhi also met with many Indian nationalists who started him thinking about the possibility of Indian independence. By November, it was clear the government was not prepared to offer any help, so the delegation sailed back to South Africa.

When Gandhi arrived back in South Africa, the campaign had run out of money and Gandhi was depressed. Just when he was feeling like there was no hope for the movement, news of a wealthy Indian industrialist who was willing to donate 25,000 Indian rupees or about $350 to the Satyagraha Movement reached Gandhi. Since most of the Satyagrahi were poor and couldn’t support their families for very long, it was decided that the money should go to families in distress who needed a place to live and work. Gandhi decided that it would be a good idea to set up another community like the one he made for the Indian Opinion newspaper where people could live simple lives. A wealthy architect bought a thousand acres outside Johannesburg in May 1910 which he gave to Gandhi for the project. Gandhi called it Tolstoy Farm after Leo Tolstoy whose writings Gandhi admired.

In 1913, another problem emerged. A judge had just ruled that only Christian marriages had legal status, and at the same time, a law called the Union Immigration Restriction was passed which prohibited future Indian immigration to South Africa. Gandhi now felt it necessary to expand the Satyagraha Movement to all of South Africa. Gandhi led protest marches hoping to overcrowd the jails with Satyagrahi. In June 1914, Gandhi negotiated with General Jan Christiaan Smuts. The result was the Indian Relief Bill, which was passed by the Union Parliament in July. Now all Hindu and Muslim marriages would be recognized and unfair taxes on Indians would be removed but most of the Union Immigration Restriction Act would remain. Gandhi regarded the compromise as a great victory for the Satyagraha Movement and sent General Smuts a pair of sandals that he had made while in prison. For 25 summers Smuts wore the sandals while working on his farm. On Gandhi’s 70th birthday Smuts returned them saying “I have worn these sandals. . . even though I may feel that I am not worthy to stand in the shoes of such a man.” (Severance)

Gandhi made a huge impact for the Indian citizens in South Africa. He worked remarkably hard to implement his beliefs in protesting injustice with nonviolence. He helped to liberate many Indians from racial prejudice, but Gandhi’s work wasn’t done yet. When he got back to India he would protest many more injustices with nonviolence. The message that he gave the crowds he saw on his farewell tour of South Africa was, “It is time to let the wounds heal” (Severance).


When Gandhi got home to India, he learned that a close friend of his and a fellow political leader named Gokhale was quite ill. Gandhi decided to go stay with him. Just before Gokhale died, he got Gandhi to promise that he would stay out of politics for one whole year to “refresh his understanding of the people” (Severance). Gokhale wanted him to travel throughout India meeting people. When Gokhale died, Gandhi started his year of traveling. His first visit was to Santiniketan or “Home of Peace,” (Severance) in Bengal. The school there was founded by Rabindranath Tagore who may have been the first to call Gandhi “Mahatma” (Severance) or “Great Soul” (Severance).

When Gandhi finished his year of traveling, he decided to try to pursue the lofty goal of liberating India from British rule. His first small step was to create a new settlement where people could be self-sufficient like the one in Africa. Gandhi founded his new ashram on the river Sabarmati. Gandhi’s first roadblock came when a family of untouchables asked to join. Gandhi immediately agreed, but some of the followers protested. Gandhi believed that there should be no untouchability, but most people thought that the other castes were superior to the untouchables, and they didn’t want to have to share the work that the untouchables did. Gandhi decided to stay firm in his decision to welcome the family into the ashram, but the settlement lost a lot of grants, and Gandhi was having a hard time getting enough money to keep it going. Luckily a wealthy tourist made a donation and the ashram was saved.

Gandhi would also keep working to liberate the untouchables in India throughout the rest of his life. Gandhi’s next small project was to help a group of textile workers who were demanding a wage increase. Gandhi told them to strike, but after a while with nothing happening, Gandhi decided to fast until they got an increase. It only took three days. Gandhi was getting older, and that fast made him very sick. What he needed was milk. Unfortunately, drinking milk was banned from his branch of Hinduism. Kasturba wanted him to drink anyway. But Gandhi refused. A little later the sickness had become much more severe. Gandhi finally decided that goat’s milk didn’t count. After that incident, Gandhi always kept a goat as a pet.

In 1919, the Rowlatt Acts were passed. The acts prolonged some restrictions for Indians in India. As a response, Gandhi proposed a total prevention of activities, including work and school, throughout India. On April 13th, the police fired upon a peaceful gathering of twenty thousand Satyagrahi. They kept firing until they ran out of ammunition. Gandhi gave direction to the Indians to boycott British schools. He also organized rallies where at the end everyone would burn their British clothes. Gandhi would tell them to spin their own clothes on the spinning wheel. In December of 1921, there were twenty thousand Indians in prison. When Gandhi was arrested for being at a riot he got a six-year sentence in prison. He used the time to think about plans for the future. When he was released after two years, he decided to fast for twenty-one days to campaign until reconciliation could be effected between the communities. Gandhi fasted as he traveled around India to gather supporters. On the last day of Gandhi’s fast, crowds gathered. In 1925, the year that he was elected president of the Indian National Congress, Gandhi fasted again for his own health, not politics, and he decided to travel India again in peace. In 1927, Gandhi ended his year of silence and started protesting. Gandhi’s three themes were to oppose child marriages, protect the cow, and promote Hindustani as the national language instead of English. He held up to seven meetings a day. Throughout India, Mohandas Great Soul Gandhi had acquired a new name: Bapu, or Grandfather. In 1928, eighty-seven thousand local citizens rejected the tax increase of 22 percent. Gandhi again called for a Hartal, or prevention of activities, throughout India. The government gave way, giving back land and releasing prisoners.

But soon another challenge emerged: Salt Taxes. Salt taxes prohibited Indians from making their own salt. Gandhi, thinking that the salt taxes were unfair, decided to lead a march two hundred and forty miles towards the ocean. Seventy of his followers began this journey with him, but by the time he got there, there were thousands of protesters. In the end, Gandhi and thousands of other fellow Indians picked up handfuls of salt from the beach. In 1931, the manufacture of salt by Indians was made legal. Later in 1931, Gandhi and a few others set sail for London to visit General Smuts. While in prison for protesting, Gandhi did another fast to try to undo the law that made different elections for untouchables. A deal was closed a week after.

In 1933, Gandhi was still in prison. Gandhi started fasting again and he was released. In 1944 Kasturba died. Three years later in 1947, India got its full independence, and Gandhi was called the founder of a nation. He spent the day fasting. Gandhi was shot and killed on January 30, 1948, while he was praying. The killing of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was due to a man named Nathuram Godse. At the sight of the arrest, Nathuram spotted Devdas one of Gandhi’s sons. The conversation was later described by Nathuram’s son. The conversation went something like this: Nathuram said, “I am Nathuram Vinayak Godse, the editor of a daily, Hindu Rashtra. I too was present there (referring to Gandhi’s murder). Today you have lost your father and I am the cause of that tragedy. I am very much grieved at the bereavement that has befallen you and the rest of your family. Kindly believe me, I was not prompted to do this with any personal hatred, or any grudge or any evil intention towards you.” Godse, when asked by Gandhi’s son, why he killed him said that “the reason is purely political and political alone!” Unfortunately, he was not allowed to give a full explanation because the police were keen to take him off. Also, the court banned the statement that Nathuram made in court. After the trial, Nathuram was sentenced to death and was hung on November 15, 1949. Godse also wrote a book though before he got hanged called “Why I Killed Gandhi” In which he talks through his motives for killing Gandhi.

I think that there are many things to be learned from Gandhi’s story, among these: how to speak your mind, how to stand up for others, but most of all how to recognize injustice, and fight it. Countless times Gandhi stood up against what he felt was unfair, and countless times he was able to make things just a little bit better for the people around him. It was possible for Gandhi to keep fighting for fairness because he didn’t care what the people in positions of power said. He was able to help fight injustices because he didn’t give up. He was successful in his pursuit of equality because he knew that what he was doing was right.

Gandhi used everything that he had to help the people around him. He used his privileges to help the less privileged, as he did when he fought for the untouchables’ rights. Gandhi used his money to help India gain independence along with his innovation and leadership in projects like the ashram. Most of all Gandhi used his voice to fight for fairness, which he did whenever he saw injustice. Gandhi has inspired many people and will continue to inspire people around the world for ages to come.


Satyagraha- The name Gandhi decided on calling his civil rights movement, meaning “Truth and firmness in a good cause”.

Satyagrahi- A person who is dedicated to the truth (sat or satya), or more specifically one who offers satyagraha or participates in a Satyagraha campaign.

Caste- Each of the hereditary classes of Hindu society, distinguished by relative degrees of ritual purity or pollution and of social status.

Rupees- The basic monetary unit of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mauritius, and Seychelles, equal to 100 paise in India, Pakistan, and Nepal, and 100 cents in Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and Seychelles. One American dollar is roughly equal to seventy-two rupees (2018).

Hartal- A word in many South Asian languages for strike action, first used during the Indian Independence Movement (also known as the nationalist movement).

Ashram- A hermitage, monastic community, (especially in South Asia) or another place of religious retreat.

Black Act- The name that Gandhi called the Transvaal Asiatic Registration Act.

Johannesburg- Also known as Jozi, Joburg, and eGoli, Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. It is the provincial capital and largest city of Gauteng, which is the wealthiest province in South Africa.

Porbandar- A coastal city in the Indian state of Gujarat, perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sudama (friend of Lord Krishna). It is the administrative center of Porbandar District.

Durban- The third most populous city in South Africa—after Johannesburg and Cape Town—and the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Hinduism- A major religious and cultural tradition of South Asia, developed from Vedic religion.


Clement, Catherine. Gandhi The Power of Pacifism (Discoveries). New York, Abrams Books, 1996.

Severance, John B. Gandhi Great Soul. New York, Clarion Books, 1997.

Wilkinson, Philip. Gandhi: The Young Protester Who Founded a Nation. Washington DC, National Geographic Soc Children’s books, 2005.

Addis, Ferdie. I dare say. Manhattan, reader digest, 2012.

Bonhomme Brian, Boivin Cathleen. Milestone Documents in World History: Exploring the Primary Sources that Shaped the World. 1942 – 2000, Volume 4. Dallas, TX. 2010.

November 19th, 2018|

Student Essay: Plastic In Our Oceans



Plastic in Our Oceans

We use plastic everyday: In the form of bags to bring groceries in from the car, containers or bags to pack lunch, and even plastic water bottles. What would you think if I told you that most of this plastic is being dumped into our oceans? Well, it is. Every minute a garbage truck of plastic is being dumped into our oceans. Every day hundreds of animals are dying because plastic poisons or  traps them- even seaweed and coral reefs are being destroyed. Plastic is destroying the oceans piece by piece but we can stop that. The oceans need our help, the animals need our help, and the environment does too.


Plastic is Destroying Our Oceans

Think of the oceans: The blue abyss of water, the colorful fish swimming in their homes, the waves breaking and rippling at the surface, and the coral reefs overflowing with blue sharks and rainbow fish. Picture the seaweed shimmering in the sunlight, spreading through the water in rays of golden light, dappling the sandy sea floor with shifting patterns of yellow and gold. All this is in danger because of plastic.

Every year at least 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans. That is the equivalent dumping a garbage truck into our beautiful oceans every minute. According to the Earth Day Network’s article End Plastic Pollution ‘There is more plastic than natural prey at the surface of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.’

Have you ever heard of ‘ the Great Pacific Garbage Patch’? Yes, that’s a thing. A ‘garbage patch’ is an area of the ocean where the plastic build up is so bad, it can span for over 5 million square miles. “That is the equivalent of the area of the U.S. plus India” (Sea Turtle Conservancy).

Have you ever been snorkeling or scuba diving? Think of all the colorful coral reefs, the beautiful rainbows of striped fish swimming peacefully through the water. Bubbles and seaweed, colors and coral. All this is in danger. Plastic is destroying the oceans, killing the reefs, and hurting the animals that live in the water. Plastic is clouding the ocean with debris and turning blue waves of water to rolling hills of garbage and killing millions of creatures everyday.  


Marine Animals Need Our Help

“Over 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean” (Sea Turtle Conservancy). Some are trapped by plastic floating by and others mistake it for food. In some parts of the ocean, “there is more plastic than natural prey at the surface” (Earth Day Network). But while plastic may not be a natural predator, it is a predator in some ways. While a turtle is swimming along it may become tangled in plastic bags or stray fishing nets, trapping it at the surface, drowning it and starving it. Animals die every day by being tangled in a prison of netting and plastic.

Micro-plastics are small particles of broken-down plastic, some smaller than a fingernail! Many animals in the ocean think the particles are food. When a fish eats plastic it starves because plastic cannot be digested. The plastic stays in the creature’s stomach and prevents it from eating real food. It starves and dies. When some animals eat plastic they hurt more than themselves.  In a documentary called ‘Blue Planet’ divers filmed a pod of whales. One mother ate plastic particles instead of krill. When her baby whale nursed, he drank the particles. The baby whale died. His mother tugged him around for days afterwards not wanting to let him go. Many animals can also get trapped in debris and many can be poisoned by plastic particles. Plastic is hurting the animals in the oceans and also the environment.  

The Environment is in Danger

Not only are animals being killed by plastic, but also the environment they live in is being damaged. Plastic is killing animals who play a big part in the ecosystem and  keeping the oceans clean and healthy. Eventually the effect plastic is having on the environment is going to affect you, one way or another, starting with coral reefs.

All over the oceans, plastic is killing coral. “Coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine life” (Earth Day Network). Coral reefs are home to a large range of octopuses, sharks, and clown fish.  Everything from Great White Sharks to cleaner fish and turtles to blue ringed octopus, depend on the reefs, and plastic is killing their home and disturbing the ecosystem.

Some animals, such as sea turtles, seals, sea lions, whales, and dolphins are going extinct because of plastic pollution and global warming. Seaweed provides a home to seahorses,  breeding grounds for fish, and hunting grounds for sharks. But without turtles the seaweed would become overgrown and unhealthy. The green sea turtles eat and clean the seaweed. If sea turtles go extinct there will be no homes for seahorses and no breeding grounds for fish. Sharks will lose a valuable hunting ground too!  All of these things are going to affect you. When you eat fish for dinner you will also be consuming the plastic that fish has recently tried to digest and kept in its system. When you go out to snorkel and admire the beautiful reefs or blue abyss of water it will all be clouded with garbage. But we can stop this.


How You Can Help

So now you know that the plastic you use every day is killing animals, disturbing the ecosystem, and filling our oceans with garbage. You may be thinking, “Yes, plastic does hurt the oceans, but it also helps people a lot!” And it does! Plastic is the most  lunch for the day, or even the most convenient thing to bring as a water bottle!

But there are alternatives to plastic that are just as good if not better! For packing food you can use Tupperware, or if you think that could be lost or broken, use parchment paper. For bringing groceries in or carrying lunch, use reusable bags-they last longer and are more durable than plastic bags, and many grocery stores give you a discount for bringing your own bags. For carrying water you can get water bottles that won’t leak or spill. You can help the oceans and the animals that live there even more. Professionals, including the Sea Turtle Conservancy, agree the following are good ways to help.


  • Remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle,
  • don’t let things blow away,
  • make sure to secure your trash at the beach so it won’t get blown away,
  • don’t litter, instead volunteer or support local beach clean-ups and marine animal conservancy!

Remember that you can help prevent plastic from entering the oceans. You can help save a baby whale or a playful pod of dolphins, or sea-weed eating turtles, or even a calm stingray. You can help the ecosystem and the environment by just being a little more conscious of how much you use plastic. You can help save the oceans!  




“Information About Sea Turtles: Threats from Marine Debris.” Sea Turtle Conservancy, Accessed 19 July, 2018


“Fact Sheet: Plastics In the Oceans.” Earth Day Network, . Accessed 19 July, 2018


McCarthy, Joe “9 Shocking Facts About Plastics in Our Oceans.” Ecowatch, . Accessed 19 July, 2018

October 19th, 2018|

The Truth about Factory Farming

This student worked very hard on learning the structure of an opinion essay, web source credibility, how to gather sources, and how to write an opinion essay with in-text citations, and a bibliography in MLA format. She covered a lot of ground! This is a topic Ollie is passionate about and I’m proud to present her essay.

The Truth about Factory Farming

Have you ever heard the phrase Factory Farming? Maybe you have. Maybe you think factory farming is good. Maybe you are against it. Maybe you have never heard the two words together. Factory Farming? What’s that? Well, whatever you know or believe, I hope once you are done reading you will be more conscious of the meat you eat. Factory Farming is “a system of rearing livestock using intensive methods, by which poultry, pigs, and cattle are confined indoors under strictly controlled conditions.” (Wikipedia, 2018)  On many farms animals are squeezed into extremely small spaces, forced to eat cheap food waste, held down with chains, forced to go through several heart breaking procedures, and they must stand in their own waste. All this, farmers claim, is to keep them safe. From what? Well, in some cases: each other. The conditions can get so bad the animals fight and kill each other. In other cases weather or predators put the animals at risk. Not all farms are like this though. Most farms are actually very good to their animals. They give them lots of land, they treat them kindly, and feed them grass. Actually more farms than not do this. Factory farms make up only 8% of all farms, but since they squeeze so many animals into small spaces they produce more meat. About 80% of the food grown in the U.S. is from factory farms. That is a lot of meat.  All this is for people like you and me to have a meal.

Proponents of factory farming insist that farming their way conserves space. Putting so many animals so close together might lead you to believe that this is true, but it is not. In 1900 around 40% of the U.S. population was living on the farm. Now, only about 1% still do, yet the product supply has tripled!  How can this be? Well, back then the average farm was very different. Farming guide books instructed farmers to give their animals love and affection, to give them more space, and to feed them nice healthy food. Cows lived on big expanses of pasture and ate clean grass. Now, large farmers are responsible for 80% of the food grown in the United States yet they make up only 8% of all farmers. Almost all the meat in the average grocery store is from factory farms. Some farms are CAFO’s (Confined Animal Feeding Operation), which squeeze many animals into very small spaces, hoping to get more meat faster and efficiently, and usually it works.But it does not come without a price.  So, all these animals need to eat. Right? And because there are more of them, you need more land to grow feed for them. So it actually amounts to more land. “Animals living on big pastures need more land,” argue pro-factory farming farmers. This is a myth! When you actually do the math it amounts to much more land. The older kind of pasture farming is way better for the environment than big commercial CAFO’s because the animals are in the right place in the food chain. They are eating grass and taking up less space because Mother Nature is giving them their feed (grass). The argument that factory farming conserves space is actually not true once you take a closer look and not only that, but it also makes animals sick.

Imagine you have a disease that you need antibiotics to cure. You have been eating meat all your life, oblivious to the fact that you are also consuming antibiotics. On many factory farms farmers feed their animals antibiotics to keep them healthy, which is a good thing right? It prevents the animal from getting sick, which then prevents you from getting sick. However, after the animals are fed or injected with antibiotics they are then ‘contaminated’ with the antibiotics and when you eat the meat you then digest the antibiotics too. If you consume too much antibiotics your body builds up an immunity to them and they can’t help you. We consume the antibiotics and become immune to their help when we need it. This could be very dangerous if you were in need of antibiotics and they wouldn’t work.

According to Huffpost’s 2014 article, ‘9 Facts about Factory Farming That Will Break Your Heart’ “In 2011 more than 80%of all antibiotics produced were fed to livestock”. Antibiotic use in factory farms, but in many other places in the world antibiotic use is totally unregulated. The overuse of antibiotics is dangerous for animals and people.

When you hear all these facts about the animals you and I eat, it makes you think about what you’re putting into your mouth. But these next facts I think will help you be even more conscious. Some farmers believe that the animals they raise and slaughter are “of no more moral worth” than the bars they are kept behind. (McWilliams) Every day cows, chickens, ducks, pigs, and veal are stuffed into cages,  chained to the floor with heavy chains, forced to stand ankle deep in their own waste and forced to eat antibiotics. Would you like to be an animal living in these conditions? I don’t think so. There was an investigation into a major CAFO in the U.S.. Undercover journalists revealed that every day, male chicks, which are no use to buyers, are put on a conveyor belt and sent straight into a grinder. They also discovered that fowl are de-beaked to to prevent cannibalism often by burning or cutting them off. In the tight conditions these birds have to live in, they are stressed to the point that they try to kill each other. Veal calfs are held down with heavy chains to prevent them from bashing themselves against the sides of their cages and hurting themselves.If all these things are to keep the animals ‘safe,’ then why do most cows living in CAFO’s die before their 5th birthday when normally cows can live easily past the age of 20? Abusing animals like this just for meat is wrong.

Now that you know more about factory farming and its effects on animals, the environment, and you, I hope you will be more conscious of the meat you are eating. Next time you go to the grocery store remember to take a peek at the label. Check if it’s local, organic, and if the farm treats its animals well. Then decide if you really want to eat this. Think of the antibiotics you could be consuming and the animals you are eating. Did that animal live a short life in a cage or a long life in a field? So, now that you know some facts, do you want to believe the myth about factory farming taking up less space, being good for the animals, and being safe for humans to consume? Or the truth, which is that pasture farming is better for the environment, the animals, and you.   

Works Cited

“9 Facts about Factory Farming That Will Beak Your Heart.” Huffpost, 4 Dec. 2014, Accessed 26 April 2018.

“Factory Farming Facts.”, Accessed 26 April 2018.   

“Intensive animal Farming” Wikipedia, Accessed 21 June 2018.

Lusk, Jason. “Why Industrial Farms Are Good For The Environment.”  The New York Times, 23 Sep. 2016, Accessed 26 April 2018.

McWilliams, James. “The Dangerous Psychology of Factory Farming.” The Atlantic, 24 Aug. 2011, Accessed 26 April 2018.  

“Pros of Factory Farming: Are There Any?” The Ethical Farming Fund, 29 Aug. 2015, Are-There-Any. Accessed 26 April 2018.

Smith, Jason. “In Defence of Factory Farming.” Spiked, 25 Oct. 2010, Accessed 26 April 2018.

Van der Zee, Bibi. “Why factory farming is not just cruel – but also a threat to  all life on the planet.” The Guardian, 4 Oct. 2017,    Accessed 26 April 20018.

July 16th, 2018|

Student Essay: Gladiators


by: Roman


Gladiators were a popular form of entertainment in ancient Rome. Though many people talk about them, they don’t know much about these ancient warriors. This essay will take you back in time to learn about gladiators, the unknown fighters of the Roman world.



In ancient Rome, a gladiator was a prisoner of  war, a slave or criminal who was condemned to fight to the death. They were the lowest of the low, and Roman people weren’t able even to speak of or to them. Gladiator trade was highly profitable, and owning a gladiatorial school was an advantage for a politician, who used the gladiators to get more votes. Blood sports were popular with the Roman people. Events in the colosseum consisted of executions of criminals, men hunting dangerous animals, gladiators fighting animals, battle reenactments, and gladiator combat. Gladiators originated from Etruscan funeral processions, which made human sacrifices to the gods. The funeral were made more fun by having the sacrifice fight for his/her life. However, soon sacrifices were held only because they were popular and it soon became its own sport. This was the origin of gladiators.



Gladiators were entertainment for the people, and politicians sometimes held events to drum up votes. Also, when Rome was suffering from low morale, blood sports were held to boost morale. Citizens would think, if a mere slave could be this aggressive and brave, think of what a real Roman could do. However, gladiators didn’t always fight to the death. If a defeated gladiator had fought well enough, the host of the event (usually the emperor or other politician) would ask the crowd whether the gladiator lived or died. Usually the gladiator would be killed. Gladiators willing decided to fight rather then rot in a prison. Though many died, a few went on to fame and fortune. People also became gladiators to avoid mandatory military service. If you were drafted, you would be in the army for twenty five years with a risk of dying and little chance at fame. A gladiator, however, could get rich and famous and retire after five years. Officially gladiators were scum, but unofficially they were superstars. This was part of the appeal to be a gladiator. Also gladiators were given high pay. The lowest type of gladiator known was given as much as three times an average Roman’s pay! An experienced, popular gladiator could receive twelve times the average pay, just from one appearance in the Colosseum!  If a gladiator reached the Colosseum and survived five years, they’d be filthy rich by the time they retired.



The Roman Colosseum is one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world. It was built by Emperor Vespasian around 70-72 AD and was finished by Titus 80 AD. It was called the Amphitheatrum Flavium, or the Flavian amphitheater. It had a sand floor, and was covered in arches and columns. It had eighty exits and entrances. Seventy six of these were for the public. The Colosseum also had a controllable villarium, which could shade spectators, while leaving the arena illuminated. Near the Colosseum stood a massive bronze statue, the colossus of Nero, which was later changed to Sol, the sun god. The arena itself was made of a wood floor covered with sand.

Roman Colosseum Seating Diagram

The stands were separated, with the best seats reserved for senators. A special box was reserved for the Emperor. The Colosseum could hold around seventy thousand spectators. Underneath the Colosseum was the hypogeum, a network of tunnels which is still visible today. The tunnels held animals, such as lions, that were imported from Africa and the Middle East. Rhinos, elephants, panthers, and lions could be placed into the arena via lifts and trap doors. The lifts were also used to send gladiators into the arena, as well as place terrain features, such as trees, in the arena. Hydraulic mechanisms could be used to flood the Colosseum, and create mock sea battles.



Many modern sports, such as football and boxing, still embrace courage, skill, fighting, just as the gladiators did before us. The only difference between fencing and blood sport is that no one is hurt. In modern society, sports stadiums are our Colosseum. It is the closest we’ll come to being gladiators.

May 4th, 2018|

Welcome to the Student Writing Category!

Welcome young readers and writers! This is a special space for you to share your writing and creative work and to read others’ work. Sharing your work can be very useful in growing as a writer. Your peers can comment on your work with positive feedback and helpful questions. You can include pictures/artwork as well. Please keep writing and images family friendly. Happy learning!

April 9th, 2018|
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