Saturday, March 31, 2007

Respect the Canines;
Some died for us

Diana L. Chapman

That’s the somber chill that floats in the air on a brisk sunny day at the Fort MacArthur Museum at Angels Gate Park. The angels aren’t appearing; but vandals are.
Disrespect abounds in a large, rectangular grassy area – which sadly battles to remain a military graveyard for animals, mostly dogs, that years ago protected us during the Cold War. But visitors, instead of offering dignity, settle down at the site, have picnics and leave trash behind. Dog owners allow their animals to do a dirty business on top of the graves. And worse, vandals have stolen a dozen plaques that once honored the dogs -- heroes as far as I’m concerned -- after their deaths. Which is why Dorothy Matich, 71, brought me here in the first place – to tell me about her latest quest.
She wants these animals to have the honor they deserve “as veterans” and simply started raising funds -- $7,500 so far -- to restore the graveyard and bring it back to the beautiful simplicity that once existed there. She believes acknowledging the efforts of the canines to protect us -- with a little bit of extras, including a six foot iron fence to help guard the site and an arched gateway -- is a must for our community.
Unless Dorothy has her way (which I believe she will), the site evidently will remain the sad, down location that currently reflects it today -- a grass area with a broken down white fence that surrounds it . Extinction appears near without Dorothy's efforts.
Gone now from the site were the only honors left, bequeathed to sentry dogs like: Jack, E939, who lived from March 1958 to December 1969; Lothar, 7A55, 1963-1973; Cheetah, K060, March 1965 – March 1973; Pancho 466E, Dec. 1960 to October 1968; Baron, 3F57, Dec. 28, 1957 to July 1970; and many others, including “Sam Pace, a beloved Navy Dog who lived 12 years,” and Perky, a cat owned by Col. N.H. Barnhart.
Also disappearing from the graveyard was what some believed to be a bronze sculpture of a German Shepherd, said museum curator Stephen Nelson, who picks his words carefully when he begins to steam about the damage vandals have caused. In an attempt to recreate that sculpture, the curator now asks if anyone in the community has photos of the stolen piece to contact him. He’d like to have a new one made for the restoration, unless a miracle happens and the original appears.
“I don’t even know what it looked like,” Stephen explained as we toured the site. It was stolen before he landed the job several years ago. “People should have a little more respect and contemplation for what we have here. People were literally prying up the markers. If it wasn’t your dog, why would you take it? It’s a real study in humanity.”
Yes, it is. And that’s what’s so crushing.
He also appealed to those in the community who might know the whereabouts of the original markers to return them; No questions will be asked.
As for Dorothy, who has no dogs of her own currently but helped raise her children’s dogs and who has a large heart for canines, defined what her mission’s about in one word: respect.
“I just feel like these dogs are veterans and they protected our coastline,” Dorothy told me. Many “had to be put down because they were trained killers. I get the chills when I think about it. It bothers me that so many people are disrespectful.”
If you know Dorothy, you understand she has the most dogged determination to bring back dignity to honor the veterans buried at this site; I agree they deserve more than the brownish patch of land and sorry-looking fence that surrounds the graveyard. As you possibly know from reading my past columns, I also strongly believe what we teach our kids about animals eventually translates to the relations they will have with humans.
Respect these creatures who respected and cared for us. If we can’t teach children that simple concept, then we are not doing the right thing.
As soon as Dorothy and her husband, Matt, both avid supporters of the museum who, unveiled the idea to revamp the cemetery, the director jumped at the chance. An architect was hired and the simple plans map out refurbishing the site by surrounding it with the fence, two strips of grass on either side, divided in middle by a path of decomposed granite.
The site would be surrounded with plants such as California sage brush, California buckwheat and red flowering current amid swirling ocean winds.
Of the 34 of steel plate markers, which honored the animals (mostly German Shepherds except for two cats) , so many of the plaques were stolen that the disillusioned curator finally removed and stored the remainders.
At the museum, not only has the curator collected the remaining markers, but was ecstatic when military veteran Paul Acosta visited a few years ago, saw the markers and cried out: “Those were my guard dogs,” referring to Lothar and Cheetah. He immediately turned over to the curator the dog's belongings that he kept -- their leather collars, an inch wide and nearly a half inch thick, which showed how powerful the beasts could be. He also donated to the museum a 20 foot long “working leash,” a six foot long handling leash, their stainless steel food bowls and a water bucket – the size of a kitchen pail.
While all of these items and the markers are languishing, hidden away treasures tucked in a museum with no place to display them, the current proposals will at least bring back some of the great dignity that once prevailed at the historic site, when it was a military post from 1914 to 1982 – the guardian of our harbor. The dogs arrived around 1941 to protect us first during World War II and then returned later in it it’s aftermath – the Cold War. The fort, which became a museum in 1986, was considered the first “base to use canine sentries as an integral part of its defensive plans,” the curator and his fellow author, David K. Appel, wrote in their book, Fort MacArthur.
The projected costs to refurbish the cemetery are about $20,000. Dorothy has raised thousands in several ways – her latest is selling $5 tickets for the sing-along Sound of Music playing at the Warner Grand on Sunday, May 6. The museum will receive $2 for each ticket sold.
As far as curator is concerned, this restoration project is a gesture that would dignify the deceased dogs, enhance the property, and it’s such a unique feature in the area, “it can be a feather in the cap for the whole community.”
Most of all, I believe it will be a great lesson for our children – to honor the canines that served and later died for us.

To purchase tickets from Dorothy, please call (310) 831-2803 or e-mail her at; Tickets can also be purchased at the Corner Store. 1118 W. 37th Street, (310) 832-2424. Also, to report any information to the museum curator regarding stolen plaques or to supply photographs of the German Shepherd statute that once graced the cemetery, call (310) 548-2631. The museum is located at 3601 South Gaffey Street. For more information about the fort, visit www.ftmac@org.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


For all of you who read my blog even if you don’t have kids, I thought I’d post this
as an important event for all of us 20 plus somethings.
“Eating for Healthy Aging,” will be held Thursday, April 12th from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Bogdanovich Recreation Center, 1920 Cumbre Drive, San Pedro. No excuses for not attending! It’s free.
Certified Nutritionist Janet Little will give a one hour lecture and fitness instructor Yvonne Beachley will give a 30 minute workout to show us how to improve our health as we age. The program is sponsored by the Harbor Community Adult School and all those who attend will receive a free pamphlet about eating well and a $5 off coupon to Henry’s Market, said Yvonne, a fitness instructor at the adult school.
Light refreshments will also be served. Please meet at the park’s gymnasium. Call (310) 619-5305 for more information.

Dear Readers:

People have asked why I'm reviewing or “censoring” reader comments before posting them on this blog site. I review them because after perusing other blogs, I found many comments about people that were inappropriate or didn’t address the issue in question. I enjoy reading your comments and, in fact, have posted every one I've received so far. I am happy that readers have not commented about how ugly a person is…which naturally doesn’t fit the underdogforkids site!
Sincerely, Diana
As a writing and reading coach, it was a frustrating moment for me at the school book fair. A mother wandered in with her son, about 13, wanting to get him a book. I’ve known him for about a year, and he has excellent writing abilities.
As I was telling his mother about his writing skills (she only speaks Spanish, so he translated for me), it came as quite a shock to learn that he doesn’t like to read!
“No!” I told him. “That can’t be so! You write pretty well. What do you like to do? What are your interests?” He hummed and hawed and finally admitted he liked comic books. Aha! ”I have just the books for you!” I said, and dragged him to the cartoon series, “The Bone,” which is a popular seller with the students. I am a big advocate of getting kids to read – and for the most part I don’t care what it takes. If it’s a cartoon book or that silly guy, Capt. Underpants--about a school principal who turns into a chaotic hero wearing diapers—that makes them read, SO BE IT!
Why? Because reading can save their lives! It helps to nurture, water and prune them for the future. If this seems hard to believe, many college graduates I know, including myself, read comic books. I know one college graduate who read comic books until age 26! It’s a great place to start and, like with anything else, they will graduate to the next level.
About the age of 12, I fell heavily for historical romance novels. I read one after another. I couldn’t put them down. I finally went comatose from reading the same plot. (You know, the one where the guy has jet black hair, the “panther” walk. Lo and behold, because of myriad misunderstandings, the most gorgeous woman who ever walked the face of the earth and the panther guy just can’t seem to get along.)
About age 15 or so, I stopped reading romance novels. All the guys looked the same (see above), all the gals looked the same (see above), and there was just no way they could communicate to make their romance a go – until finally, the fog cleared and they saw each other as they truly were! Finally.
And amen. That was enough of that. (I’m not dumping on romance novels. They are great. I was just ready to move on.) I graduated. And read different novels after that….Those romance novels just brought me to the next spot. So I was excitedly showing this student the “Bone” series, which I realize is a bizarre bit of comics that the mother just looked at with a poker face. But it actually stoked the boy’s interest, and I knew we were getting somewhere.
Until the mother made him put them back on the shelf. Trying to honor her request, I pulled out another fantastic book. She shook her head and said: “No animales.”
But all I could think about was: this isn’t about the mom. This is about what her son likes. And he likes animals. We put that book back on the shelf, too. I was disappointed.
Not as much as the young boy was, who probably will go on not enjoy reading – until he’s told, yes, go ahead and read what you like.
Feeling somewhat dejected about the whole thing, I was happy the next day when the student wandered back in by himself. I don’t know what exchange his mother and the student had, but there was definitely a difference about what he picked to read. He bought two books, both about World War II, including Theodore Taylor’s, Air Raid-Pearl Harbor!
I’ve since been reading that book and it’s a remarkable retelling of the days prior to the attack – and a great lesson about the many layers of human mistakes – that led to us, as a country, to be so unsuspecting of Japan’s intentions.
It reminds me of the similar mistakes we can make as parents, when we decide exactly what our children should or should not read – when our most important determination should be just to get them to read, read, read – and read again.
No matter what we like.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Shorts & Sweets:

Teaching a writer’s workshop at a Leland Street Elementary School Career Day recently, I presented the students with a rather unorthodox writing approach. The style encourages them to put their thoughts on paper as quickly as possible so they can learn to enjoy writing.
This time, after giving them a beginning sentence, I asked them to put their pens to paper for five to ten minutes without thinking about it too hard. They are not allowed to lift their pens off the paper. They must write, write, write.
I am always happy seeing what churns out, and I find out what I usually discover at any school – loads and loads of raw talent that take so many shapes and form. Here’s just one kids approach to a “writer’s warm-up.” They had the choice on this day to write starting from “I am a wolf…or “I am a shark” just to see where their pens will take them.

Here is what one child wrote in five minutes:


I am a wolf. I am slick and fast. I love to run fast around the woods
hunting my prey. I have sharp teeth. I always howl at the moon every
night. Some people fear me and some don't. They love to hunt me for my
warm fur. Still, no one can catch me. I love being a wolf.

By: Mark Gonzales
Age: 10
Grade: 5th
School: Leland Street


The other day at the Starbucks in Von’s on 25th Street, I was standing in line when I heard two high schoolers talking about reading the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Since I wrote probably a dozen stories for those books, my ears perked up.
But alas, the discussion was more about the pre-teen books – which I never wrote for. So I quit eavesdropping and went back to paying attention to my order.
“I was reading this story Firmer Ground,” one of the girls said and I believe she added that it was a good story. I swung around as though I just won the jackpot lotto and yelped: “That’s my story!”
“Wow, it’s so nice to meet a writer,” one of the girls said and we began to discuss writing. I later found out their names – Hannah Cortez and Marlene Espinoza, both 14.
I babbled on to the girls and the charming younger brother they had in tow and went on for several minutes. By the time I was through, they were ready to get out of there. They ran home and told one of their mothers!
The mother, Shari Cortez, thought she knew me. We know each other through our volunteer work. (That’s so San Pedro).
Of all the people who read the stories I wrote for Chicken Soup, the biggest fans were teenagers. They still call me. They write me and I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel – especially when they read a story like Firmer Ground about one of my high school friends who dealt drugs and died at 16.
His death was what stopped me from experimenting with drugs – and that’s why I wrote that story for teenagers – the glimmer of hope that maybe it will give them the courage to do what they want to do – not what their friends want them do. And drugs are often on that list.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dear Readers:
This science teacher from Dana Middle School wrote about the service and the impact of the death of San Pedro Dana's Middle school special education teacher, Kimberly Larsen.

Kimberly's funeral had a big impact on me. I've always wondered what it would be like when I experience that moment, that true once-in-a-lifetime experience, death. I've always tried to rationalize it with a mix of spirituality and science, thinking that we're matter/energy, and we're the universe itself that has become self aware of itself through its own Infiniteness. And being one with this One self aware Reality, being this eternal Energy that precedes time and the physical limits of the universe, I've always tried to convince myself that there's no such thing as "death."
Kimberly's passing has passed through the veil of such "philosophical" ramblings, and made my heart heavy. I took the attached picture of her less than a year ago, where there was no signs of anything wrong and suddenly...this!
How am I going to rationalize this one? At her funeral, as I watched a full cargo ship disappear over the horizon, this poem came to me and I wrote it as fast as I could:
once Born in a world of Form,
from place to place on earth we roam;
entangled in the Web of Time,
we resonate as a faint chime;
once in a while our waves overlap,
filling our soul without a gap;
and then comes time for us to Go,
to our Source of Ceaseless Flow!
Although the ship merely journeyed over the horizon and I know it didn’t cease to exist, our lives are fragile and short indeed. Let's enjoy every second and take every opportunity to be a kind and loving person for all the living (our own creation)…like Kimberly was....
Dear Readers: Mr. Kimo Harris sent this to me after I left the publication of MoreSanPedro, where I served as a columnist for nearly four years. I appreciate his comments and thought you might enjoy reading them...Diana

Aloha Mr. Editor,

My name is Kimo and I'd like to applaud one of your columnist for the "More" publication in San Pedro. Her name is Diana Chapman. We subscribe to the Sunday Daily Breeze, and I find her work to be worthy of being in a paid publication, yet please be assured that I am delighted that her work is being published period. And to have it in a free publication is truly a community service.

We started reading the More on a regular basis because of Diana. It is my philosophy that the news oriented columns are more suited for the Daily Breeze, and with the More being a "San Pedro" community paper, it's refreshing to read a column that exclusively deals with concerns directly affecting our community. To read Diana's column gives a reader insight to ways of improving our citizenship within our own community which will have a direct impact on the South Bay as a whole. For too long, San Pedro has had an unfair reputation in some corridors of the South Bay. I have been here for over 19 years and know of this rep first hand. Diana has taken the course of action that challenges our community to look inward, and she's given us the tools to do so. One example would be her column about the Supervision aides at Dana Middle School. It was a call to all parents that when your child's safety is at stake, the unnecessary verbal abuse towards these aides is counter-productive. Sure they know who these parents are, but they are not in the business of monitoring each child's whole life. Therefore, one way to provide a safe environment for all students is to monitor who is on campus by requiring valid identification. The jist of this column was to enlighten parents to the positive impact of this effort. This brings about more cohesion and cooperation between parents and the school, which is a big plus for our students and the community at large. Another example would be her column entitled "The Tale Of Two Cities", talk about speaking the truth. I believe that this column is profound and that it will only enhance readership. And her most recent column in the February 3rd edition is a solid example of the value of her columns. It has inspired debate, and it also inspired me to write this letter. I have attached a copy of my response to her column and would hope that you could find the time to read it.

So in short, I believe that Diana is truly providing insight that any community could use, and that we in San Pedro are the fortunate beneficiaries. A consistent dose of wisdom can only catch on and spread like wild fire. I was raised in Hawaii and have seen first hand that the strength of a community is a direct result of the humanity within that community. Face lifts, economic progress, and so on, are just attachments to the character and spirit of the citizens within in a community. And it always starts with one sincere individual to step forward. Diana is one such individual. And this citizen of San Pedro thanks you.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

From watching space aliens to yodeling singers, please don't forget the lovely Warner Grand Theater's Sundays are Fundays -- dedicated to bring families back to the historic era in downtown San Pedro.
Coming up are some family favorites, both on Sundays at 2 p.m.
E.T. will play April 1 at a cost of $5 for adults and $2 for children under the age of 12.
The story about the space alien who lands in a family's backyard and eats up M&Ms, turned immediately into a family classic -- which all ages can enjoy.
Another family treasure, the sing-along Sound of Music, will be shown May 6 for $10 a ticket on the day of the showing and $5 for advanced ticket sales.
Susan Wilcox, a constant volunteer for the Warner who helps run the Sunday's are Fundays program, said: "a costume contest and other nutty things relating to the theme of the movie, will be included in this showing." For further information, call(310)833-8333 or visit the website at The theater is located at 478 Sixth St., San Pedro.
Dear Readers:

Please consider this site a place to post items going on at your school, fundraisers for a non-profit entities involving children, children’s submissions and other possibilities by sending them to Your voice will be welcome at this post site, especially for events involving children. ..

At this time, I want to send many special thanks to Its’ A Grind – a coffee house on Western Avenue in San Pedro that has supported several schools by providing free coffee for many school events. San Pedro High School, Dana Middle School, Crestwood Street Elementary and Taper Avenue Elementary have all benefited from support from owners, Karen Anderson and Robyn Richardson, a mother-daughter team who partnered to run the chain at this location.
“We just help as much as we can,” Karen told me yesterday. – who frequently has encouraged schools to consider her spot as a place for students work to shine, such as having poetry readings or one-person skits at the sight.
I thank Karen and her daughter for what they do for children and the many local businesses who reach out and support their schools.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

By Diana L. Chapman

A beloved Dana Middle School teacher, who came into field of education later in life and carried on a brave face for the school’s staff and students while she faced a terminal illness, passed away Tuesday night at the age of 51.
Kimberly Larsen, held many other occupations including raising goats, before becoming a full fledged special education teacher for the past five years at the middle school where she snatched the hearts of many students and cemented close relations with staff members.
As a volunteer at Dana, my limited amount of time with Kimberly led me to respect her as she continued to bring a vibrant energy to the campus, despite her fight with cervical cancer, and always told everyone she was doing great with a big smile.
The staff appeared lulled by her faith that she would survive and was shocked and heartbroken when she died suddenly at her San Pedro home.
“Kimberly loved kids and life,” said Principal Terry Ball, who was confounded by the times he went to help Kimberly and found her helping him instead. “She poured herself into her work, not because she was a workaholic, but because of her love for kids. When she was ill, I wasn’t only lulled by her faith, but by her upbeat an exuberant personality. When I would try to encourage her, she would turn tables on me and end up encouraging me—no matter how ill she felt. I always felt better after I spoke with her. We all continue to grieve and be heartbroken.”
While she decided to pursue an educational course later in life, her friends at the school said after she tried several other careers she returned to the one thing she loved ….”children,” explained her close friend, Brian Spencer, a counselor at the school.
Quickly after she arrived, Brian explained, they had a bit of a “who are you” attitude and then realized that they had similar priorities: they were there for children, they were there to help people and they were both extremely forgiving even when people treated them harshly.
After that, they were so close it was as though they’d known each other all their lives and Brian became close with the entire family, including her 15-year-old son, Cameron, and her husband, Brad.
“I knew I had a special connection with her and I never thought anyone else saw that,” explained Brian, who said he later discovered she had established similar friendships with many others. “It was just how we connected. It was just how she was. She fought for people. She fought for her students. And she didn’t have a problem with that. She has a passion for children and a passion for life.”
Calling her “Earth Momma,” Brian said when you find a friendship like that, it’s something to be cherished – which others at the school full-heartedly agreed with – and most of all – she taught her special education students to be their own greatest advocates.
Students who had graduated constantly came back to praise Kimberly for the efforts she acclaimed for them, often carrying gifts and words of appreciation -- especially that she taught them that no one could fight better for a student then the student themselves.
“She was just great with kids and she always as very protective,” said Dana’s special education coordinator, Hengameh Rahmanou. “She was always on the internet doing research trying to do the right for her kids. She had kids to this day still coming back to see her. She’s such a well-known figure.”
At one point, Kimberly became the special education coordinator but became frustrated when she found she wasn’t having enough one-on-one- relationships with children. She dropped the position to return to teaching.
“She was my rock,” said Sherry Graves, a special education clerk at Dana. “All I had to do is let her know what I needed or what a student needed and it would happen. Her students always came back to see her.”
Kimberly joined Dana in 2001 after years in a series of other occupations, including raising goats, being a full-fledged nursery manager and prior to that was a substitute teacher for three years. She also taught kindergarten at Point Fermin Elementary School. But before ever beginning a career in education, Kimberly gathered a vast knowledge about plant life and managed plant nurseries for five years from 1987 until 1993 in Albuquerque, N.M. and later held a similar post from 1993 to 1998 in Bellingham, Wash. Her family owned a farm in Ferndale, Wash. before returning to San Pedro, where she was born.
Brian, the counselor, said he has to fight away tears just thinking about Kimberly and how she would visit his office to help him take care of his plants. Several employees said they were dependent on her not only to brighten their day, but to come in and nurture the plants she had bought them.
Kimberly graduated with BA in Philosophy in 1987 from the University of New Mexico and when she returned to her birth place of San Pedro, she attained a master’s degree from Cal State University, Dominquez Hills, in special education.
She is survived by her, son, Cameron, her husband Brad; her parents, Ethel and Rorvik Johnson, of San Pedro; a sister, Diane Berkey of Washington and a brother, Dennis Berkey of Colorado. She is also survived by numerous cats and dogs she’d rescued.
A celebration of her life has been schedule for Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m at the Cabrillo Beach Youth Waterfront Sports Center, 3000 Shoshonean Road. Instead of flowers, the family has requested that visitors bring food for this event.
The family also requests that those wanting to given donations to either her son’s college fund or a pet rescue organization. To give to Cameron’s college fund, makes checks payable to the Dana Staff Association for a college fund and drop them off at Dana’s main office.
Or because Kimberly was a woman “who cherished all living things” and rescued many animals, donations can be sent in remembrance of her to Rover Rescue, P.O. Box 424, Redondo Beach ,California or visit the website: under the “You Can Help” section indicating the donation is in remembrance of Kimberly.
Please post your thoughts about Kimberly at the Underdog site because that’s exactly what she was -- a fighter for the underdogs in life.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I remember the day I met him. It was a few months ago in one of my writer’s workshops at the Boys and Girls Club.
The teens in the club’s College Bound program were writing essays for their applications, and I asked them to jot down 10 great things about themselves. While other kids’ pens and pencils flew, the one belonging to a 17-year-old named Emmanuel didn’t move an inch. Not even a half-inch. In fact, when I peered over, there was nothing more than a dot.
I looked at him and said: “Why haven’t you written anything?” I kept prodding him about it.
Finally, he looked at me, somewhat sorrowfully, and in front of the entire class of perhaps 16 students announced that in his honest opinion, “I’m a failure. There’s nothing to say. My grades are a 1.8. I move all the time. I’ve never done anything.”
It’s a rare moment when a kid speaks so candidly about himself in front of a class. Of course, I didn’t believe him. I continued trying to pull out some of his potential, knowing that somewhere there had to be some raw, untapped talent--a gold nugget, if you will. All it needed was a bit of coaxing. Sometimes, it comes from an expected place.
Other students began sharing their lists. Whispers passed between Emmanuel and the girl sitting next to him, Annabel. Suddenly, Annabel announced loudly: “Emmanuel, aren’t you a sergeant in the junior ROTC?”
I stopped dead in my tracks.
“What?” I yelped, turning on my heel and looking directly at him. “You’re a sergeant in the junior ROTC and you think that’s nothing!?! Emmanuel, that’s huge! Think about all the things that says about you. It means your committed, determined, disciplined.” Looking rather surprised, it was clear Emmanuel had never thought of it that way.
Since this happened a few months ago, Emmanuel now has an excellent mentor, George Mayer, to work with at the Boys and Girls Club. Annabel helped him realize his great potential. And the changes Emmanuel has undergone are remarkable. I am sad to report that his mother is being transferred again and now he has to move to Florida. While that breaks my heart as I moved many times in my life and know the struggle, I was able to tell Emmanuel that he will survive because now he has a better sense of himself.
Proudly coming to my most recent writer’s workshop, Emmanuel wore his crisp blue junior ROTC uniform, polished black shoes and stood tall. I asked him to write a piece about his mentor in the next 10 minutes. When I read it, I was so moved I made him share it with all the class and told his story that when he joined he wouldn’t write a line.
I’d like to share this with you, readers, because in every child there is a gold nugget just waiting to be mined:

About George Mayer, my mentor
It was about eight weeks ago when I met my mentor. When I first set eyes on him, I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know what to think. However, the second he started talking and telling me about himself, I was profoundly amazed. He started telling me how he survived the most devastating tragedies of humanity. That tragedy was the Holocaust, and based on his experiences from surviving the Holocaust, and being accommodated by some of his closest friends, who were surprisingly German. That kind of altruism and amity inspired him to go out and help other people the same way he was helped in his time of need.
Later on, he asked me what my aspirations were and what my ultimate goal in life was and when I was able to confide in him, I felt like finally there was a person who was willing to listen to me and my story. I told him my dream was to be deeply involved in law, perhaps a district or defense attorney. I told him what I was able to overcome and he even suggested to me some advice on some of my current problems. I am 17-years-old and in the J.R.O.T.C. program with a 4.0 GPA for the fall semester in my junior year and I aspire to be a district attorney.
I chose that profession because I believe that people should hold themselves accountable for their actions no matter what the circumstances are and once they stoop themselves below reproach, they must suffer the consequences. I feel I can be one of those people that forces people to hold themselves accountable for their actions.
Anyway, I also found that Mr. George has an extreme passion for sports, especially college sports. I was shocked as I have the same interests as him in professional basketball and we would talk about who is going to win the championships and who is going to win the MVP. The only thing that I found presented a problem was that I only get to see him once a week and sometimes, I’m not there (Boys and Girls Club) that day. Other than that, I have the utmost gratitude and respect for his influence on me and how I want to live my life.
I hope I can be the kind of person in the future that has had the impact on people’s lives as he has had on mine. When I am able to do that, I will be able to say that: “’Hey, I made a difference.” I did everything I could to better myself and increase the welfare of all humanity. Until then, I will continue to work for my goals.

Bravo, Emmanuel! One thing for sure, now you can write!