Glimmers of Hope in Inspiring Stories

If I asked you to describe hope on the spot, would you be able to? This was exactly how we started our most recent project, along with describing the word’s components; resilience, survival and adversity. This was not however the only part of our project, in fact, our final task would be to assess stories of adversity, identify components of hope within them and define the lessons and inspiration that we can draw from them in the form of a video. 

“What lessons and inspiration can we draw from the stories of individuals and communities that have faced tragedy and overcome adversity?”



After defining each word through various case studies, we put our knowledge to the test in the form of a blog post. This allowed me to also get a sense as to what my thesis statement for my final product would be (ie. answer to the driving question). From the post, I made my answer to be that these four words are apart of human nature, that hope is like a breath of fresh air and that stories of hope are proof to other individuals that the adversity you face in your lifetime is a key component to reaching a kind, grateful, happy and resilient persona. I was quite proud of my post as I always do my best to put my best writing and thought into our projects. I defined each word, answered the driving question and included connections between what I already knew and what I had learned in this project so far. 

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to talk about my family friend, Mary Jo, as her story of hope has inspired many and allowed her to succeed in everything she has set her mind to. This allowed me to have a solid plan and pitch for my video as well as leave room for other topics that we would learn more about on our field school to the south of the United States. 



In my pitch and plan, I included my inspiration that stuck with me from the beginning of this project as defining hope as a feeling rather than a thing, like a breath of fresh air. I also included three thesis statement options, from which I ended up combining two of them. Finally, from observing previous videos that displayed stories of tragedy and hope, I knew I wanted a ‘dramatizing’ aspect, whether it have been the music volume dropping or my tone of voice,  because I knew that these would make the resolutions and aspects of hope even stronger. I also had the goal of speaking the least amount possible to allow the interviewees to lead it and make a greater impact to the audience – no narrator, but a narrative. However, I would have to speak to introduce topics, make connections, my conclusion as well as whatever needed to be said to allow for the video to flow more naturally. 



We saw a lot of excellent examples of hope, adversity and resilience on our trip, in fact if I could, I would have used several examples and interviews from all of the places we went to. However, that was not possible due to having a five minute time limit on our final video. On top of including Mary Jo’s personal story I knew that I wanted to talk about Lyndon B. Johnson and Thanks-Giving Square, and wound up sticking to that plan when I began editing because I knew exactly how I was going to do it. /


While editing my video, I wanted to make sure my video sounded great even with just the audio, so I made sure to switch between my voice, the interviewees voice and the music, quite often to keep the listeners engaged. However, I knew that my image had to be strong as well, and I hoped to make the audience feel as though they were presently living in their stories. To include my inspiration from the beginning of ‘hope being like a breath of fresh air’, I made sure to take as many clips of trees, plants and flowers as I could to show whenever I talked about hope in my film. 

Hope and resilience is a part of human nature, and the stories of these individuals and communities that have faced tragedy and overcome adversity can allow us to gain perspective on our own struggles and challenges by helping us find the strength we need to keep going.


When it came to the final product, I intertwined the stories of Mary Jo and LBJ while including interviews from Mary Jo and a staff member from the LBJ Library and close by saying that anyone can have hope and resilience, and that you don’t need to be a particular type of person, evidenced by Thanks-Giving Square, a place for anyone to gain hope, resilience, gratitude or whatever they may need to overcome their life situations. 



I am quite happy with my performance in this project, I crafted my video to be at a sophisticated level and even when I was not conducting interviews at certain locations during our trip, I was always keeping notes of aspects of hope that I could find in each location we went to. I had several ideas from the beginning of this project that would have allowed me to help answer the driving question and was able to support them with the research and experience in a new place and culture. From this, I was able to find deep connections between what I already knew and what I learned, as well as allow that evidence to support a great thesis statement. I have always enjoyed being able to see what we talk about in our projects in my everyday life, and this project was certainly was one of them. My class and I went to the south of the U.S. to study stories of hope, however, hope is all around us. It could even be the tree in your front yard, as the wildlife around us has had to withstand the effects of climate change caused by human kind. Yet, they still supply us with ‘breaths of fresh air’. 

What is a Story of Hope?

In times of turbulence, hope is a light at the end of a tunnel, a source of motivation for individuals to keep fighting and is a crucial component of human survival and well-being. However, to truly know “hope”, you need to learn and develop a deep understanding into it’s components; resilience, survival and adversity. 

Personally, resilience is my favourite. Resilient people have the ability to improvise with what’s at hand, a deep belief that life is meaningful and a staunch acceptance of reality. With these three key aspects, you have the ability to grow this muscle and allow it to become a mindset that is deeply ingrained into your mind and soul. In reading numerous examples of individuals who faced forms of adversity such as losing a limb in a shark attack or having cancer, I noticed that these people were truly good people. At least, they became that way afterwards. Jasan Zimmerman Bethany Hamilton and Blake Haxton use what they experienced as a way to inspire and motivate others, by showing that it’s possible to come out of struggle. However, it was importantly noted in How Resilience Works that resilience is not an ethically good or bad characteristic. In fact, “bad” people could possess this characteristic as well. 

One of the prison cells

During spring break, I visited Alcatraz, the ultimate maximum security prison of it’s time. During my visit, I came to learn about a certain escape that blows my mind. In June 1962, three inmates shimmied through a hole they’d chiseled into the walls of the prison over the course of several months. Additionally to mask their escape, they had placed in their bunks realistic-looking dummy heads they had made out of papier-mâché and human hair from the prison’s barber shop. What they had done must have taken months to plan and execute, but their resilience kept them going and allowed them to improvise with what they had.  

Opposed to a mere challenge, adversity is a difficult, typically life-altering situation that puts immense stress on an individual. Adversity is not exactly something you can avoid in life, but that’s a good thing; it plays a key role in shaping a person’s character by providing opportunities for personal growth and learning, if you’re willing to let it have that effect towards you. As evidenced by the stories of Bethany Hamilton, Jasan Zimmerman and Blake Haxton, the effect of near-death experiences have an especially life and mind-altering effect on individuals. Facing a form of adversity such as losing your legs to save your life allowed Blake to view his life in a different light; as a get to, not as a have to. Thus, he began helping others and giving back to the world that kept him alive by raising awareness about his struggles in TEDTalks to allow others to view their own lives in a different light by becoming more grateful for what they have. 

Bethany Hamilton –

Survival is the ability to continue living despite difficult conditions and adversity, it involves adapting to one’s environment, making quick and effective decisions, and overcoming obstacles to ensure one’s own well-being. This has been particularly evidenced through Bethany Hamilton’s experience. Bethany’s survival skills were put to the test when she was attacked by a shark while surfing. Despite losing her arm in the attack, she was able to overcome her physical and mental challenges to return to the sport she loved and inspire others with her story of resilience and determination. Soul Surfer demonstrates that humans can thrive even in the face of devastating events, showcasing human nature. The way Bethany dealt with this traumatic event is an example of what psychologists call “post traumatic growth” which is the ability to derive positive benefits from adversity. This means that individuals who have experienced trauma can develop resilience and find new opportunities for growth and meaning in their lives. 

Humans by birth have the natural instinct to survive in situations of adversity and continue to be resilient throughout. These three components however, could not be possible without hope. Stories of hope are like a breath of fresh air, proof to other individuals that no matter how hard it may be to accept, the adversity you face in your lifetime is a key component to reaching a kind, grateful, happy and resilient persona. 

The Historical Significance of The One and Only Marilyn Monroe

“We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel was a song that came out in 1989, the year the singer turned forty years old. This song included brief references to 118 significant events that happened from his year of birth (1949) to the present day (1989). These events represented the issues facing the world, but particularly American society and the conflicts and issues that continue to “burn” to this day. Our task in this project was essentially to pick one of the said events and gain immense knowledge on it to the extent that we can teach a lesson on the topic to the whole class as well as create a lesson plan, web page and educational video. 

“How do we make choices about what is worth remembering?”

Not knowing much about her aside from the basic stereotypes, I chose Marilyn Monroe. I wanted to learn about the things that made her more than just a pretty face as well as her appeal that led her to impact American pop-culture to this day. Out of the other topics chosen by my class, Marilyn was the earliest, meaning that I would be the first to present to the class. I knew this going in but it didn’t bother me as it would allow me to go out of my comfort zone which meant that I could live up to the goals set in my learning plan. Plus by getting it done early on, I got the bonus of having more time to focus on improving my lesson plan and web page afterwards.

When it came to the lesson we not only had to present, but teach to the class which was something I had never done before. In doing so, we had to come up with activities and videos to keep our peers engaged, but make sure they also walk away with an understanding as to the topic’s historical significance. Another challenge to keep in mind was making the lesson possible for other teachers to follow it as well as teach to their students. My lesson started off with a whiteboard activity where the class would write down anything that came to mind when they thought of Marilyn Monroe, which went exactly how I wanted it to; they were filled with  stereotypes and things that had to do with her appearance. My goal for the lesson was to not only teach about Monroe’s significance as to how she’s impacted the fashion and movie industry, but the fact that she was even more popular due to the aspects of her personality that made her “more than just a pretty face”. Aspects such challenging the status quo by starting her own production company and being an activist for gay and civil rights which was something pretty rare at the time.

The rest of my webpage included several things: a paragraph assessing Marilyn’s historical significance, a video guiding you through the webpage and also assessing her significance, the lesson plan, a timeline that includes significant dates, an authentic quote by someone I interviewed and MLA citations of all the sources used. So yes, it was quite the web page. Although, my one disappointment from this project was not being able to get as great of an authentic quote as I had hoped. I contacted about five museums and experts but unfortunately got nothing back. I wound up interviewing my grandma who was alive at the time but lived in Canada, which didn’t have the same effect as someone living in the United Staties but was unfortunately my closest connection that I had to Marilyn. Other than that, I was quite happy with how everything else turned out. My webpage was eye-appealing, easy to follow, had visuals, included many extension opportunities and several sources.

I took on several flex opportunities this project by going to tutorial times when I needed it and always asking for feedback to make my assignments better. My goal for our next  project is to extend my creativity by coming up with more of the ideas to improve my project. To do so, I would make sure I have a great understanding of the teacher’s expectations from the very beginning. I was quite fond of having the flexibility to choose from such different topics as it meant that we could chose something that we were genuinely interested in, which led to each and every one of our presentations being super interesting and engaging. I particularly enjoyed doing research on Monroe and watching a couple of her most popular movies, but it was still saddening to learn about her tragic death and how she’s been sexualized over the years. This movie star, signer, model and business woman is known world-wide and still continues to inspire celebrities, costume and clothes designers. Despite having passed away over sixty years ago, Marilyn Monroe continues to be relevant and talked about to this day, which says a lot about her significance in itself. 

Last mPOL :(

Thank you for coming to my presentation of learning. I am the expert of my own learning. I am also responsible and accountable for my own learning. You can expect me to give an honest evaluation of my progress. We will discuss my strengths and opportunities for growth. Thank you in advance for listening and offering feedback that I can use to improve as a learner.

Last year I looked back at my combined experience in high-school, and decided that I would live by the theme of having no regrets for my very last year. That is why I decided to play a higher level of soccer this year, aim to go to provincials for track & field again, applied to six universities, applied to thirteen scholarships so far and took on the role as producer in our film production. 

A big example of living by no regrets and going out of my comfort zone has been in our horror project, in which I took on one of the biggest and most sleep-depriving roles. Although it was challenging, I was grateful to be given the role and was able to learn a lot from it. Working with eighteen other people can be challenging which means that communication is key in order for things to run smoothly. I chose our
director knowing I’d work very well with her. In fact, our communication was top notch and we were always on the same page. However, where I failed was making false assumptions. Assuming that the other members of my class would check the schedule I told them all about and updated every day to know what they had to do and where they had to be, as well as have the drive to do them. If I were to do it again, I would’ve been even more clear by conducting meetings in the mornings and afternoons during production to make sure everyone was on the same page and had something to do. 


I also learned the nuances of being a good leader. On the upside, I realized that I have a natural ability to be organized. My organization in this project permitted us to have all the materials we needed up at loon lake, kept us on track by making sure we knew what had to be filmed and what could be filmed back at home, gave everyone roles that were crucial to helping make our production run smoothly and kept post-production on track with drafts and finally finishing our film. However, reflecting back I would have done things differently by being more assertive at certain times earlier in the process. I later fixed this mistake by being more assertive in post-production. 

When it came to public speaking, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that my need to be organized and prepared also translates to my ability to perform while presenting. In situations where I don’t feel prepared I become red-faced and nervous. Maybe overtime, as I continue to put myself in situations where I have to public speak I might get better at “winging it”, but today, my confidence in public speaking only resides in situations where i feel prepared. When I was asked to present my last year’s mPOL to all the PLP grade 10s and 12s, my face went red and remained that way throughout the entire presentation. Even though I wrote it, it was a whole year ago, and plus I didn’t have the time to prepare. However, at our PGP book exhibition last week, I wasn’t nervous at all and my presentation ran smoothly with every single person I encountered. Even though it was something that mattered a lot more, the fact that I was prepared and had all of the background knowledge I did made all the difference. Having read the book, done extensive research on it and on the authors, I knew exactly what I was talking about and felt confident in my words. This is something that I’ll certainly take on to my next projects by assuring that I’m very well prepared. This same thing applied to when I gained a boost in confidence speaking in Socratic Seminars, I simply began taking better notes and doing more research to back up the points I had. 

Finally, my writing skills have never been as good as they are now. My writing has improved immensely especially these past couple months due to writing admission essays to universities and scholarships. This has not only been because I’ve simply been a lot writing more than usual, but because I’ve been forced to write in my own way and use my own voice. Even when I faced uncertainties in my writing in projects, I’ve always gone to tutorial times to make sure my points and themes were what the teacher was looking for. 

To conclude, I’m happy about my performance in every project, even though there are things I may have wanted to change. For the remainder of this year I’d like to continue living by “having no regrets” and going out of my comfort zone, whether that means to take on more big roles in projects, take opportunities to speak in front of the class, take an acting role if it comes up or apply to be valedictorian. Going out of my comfort zone so far has improved my self-confidence and overall performance in projects which I’d like to keep up.

Girls Just Wanna Have (Fun)damental Human Rights

What has happened to the word “feminist”? In this day it’s somehow used as an insult, but let’s not forget what it’s true meaning is. Feminism means to have equal rights and opportunities for all genders. Without feminism, we would still be living in a world where women didn’t have the right to vote, to own their own property or even have jobs the same way as men. That being said, there is still work to be done, which is why people of all ages should still be educated and shown that history is not to repeat itself and we are only to move forward. In this project, we created children’s books to get younger generations interested and educated in the concept. 

How do we encourage children to support women’s rights?

As this project was a bit on the shorter side, we were quick to chose our book topics after having a few lectures on suffrage and the second, third and fourth waves of feminism. Ciara, Holly and I were inspired by the book on David Bowie by the “Little People, Big Dreams” series. We decided to make our book about Gloria Steinem’s life who was a nationally recognized leader in particularly the second wave of feminism. We were soon to realize how it was a lot tougher than it seemed to simplify her life, as well as breakdown complex topics such as abortion. 

Our first step was to create a storyboard. We decided to focus our story primarily on women’s healthcare, because Gloria’s experience with undergoing an abortion at a young age and her mother being mistreated in the hospital due to her mental illness were some of the biggest reasons she decided to become an activist. Obviously we couldn’t state abortion by name in the book, but considering it as healthcare made almost the same impact. 

As a class, we watched The Taming of the Shrew and 10 Things I Hate About You to come up with an answer as to how women are depicted in literature across time, and why it’s important to have strong representations of women. Meg and I agreed that it’s important to have positive representations of women, because it allows children to see that women are strong and independent. However, a positive representation doesn’t always necessarily mean a woman that doesn’t want to get married or have kids, or fit into what you call a “stay-at-home mom”. We compared the two Disney stories of Merida from Brave and Rapunzel from Tangled. Merida wanted to rule her family’s clan by herself and without a man she was forced to marry. Rapunzel did fall in love and get married in the end, yet she was still a strong and independent woman that was curious to see and experience the world. Thus, a strong representation of a woman isn’t restricted to one representation. In fact, the more the better, as it allows children to see that they could be whatever they want.

In the end, we presented our books to a kindergarten class at a nearby elementary school. The book was well-received by the children and they quote-on-quote “loved everything” about it. Although I wish my drawing skills were a lot better, the message was the most important part. Children at that age may still have trouble understanding the concept of feminism, but our book certainly depicted a strong woman that did a lot for the world in terms of equality and I hope that they were able to realize that. 

Great Success…Through Effective Thinking

Hello and welcome to my first blog post on PGP in a long time. This project has been themed around self-improvement, which has provided me with a lot of useful tips and advice that I will incorporate now and into my future. Tips such as making great resumes, listening to guest speakers about their career and university life, and reading books that promote the art of self-improvement. In this project, we were tasked to chose a book in the “self-help” genre, create an artifact to represent it and present it to the other grade 12s at our school. 

What do I need to know to move forward with lifelong learning and active citizenship?



I decided to read “The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking”, a book that arguably gives you the ultimate key to success in anything and everything. I was quite fond of the book for the most part, and had quite a few takeaways that I’ll certainly remember for a long time. One piece of advice that I took back came from the element called “following the flow of ideas”. This described an ability to step back in your thoughts, and come up with a number of ideas and themes that you want to ensure are addressed in your essay. Only once you have determined these ideas, you start to craft the essay. This allows you to come up with a good essay, perhaps even better, in a faster amount of time. 

Now before even starting to read the book, we were tasked to create author biographies, which actually allowed me to make more sense of the contents of the book. It was written by Michael Starbird and Edward Burger, both of which who are professors in mathematics but who’s witty personalities even come out in their writing. Edward is CEO of the St David’s Foundation that advocates for health equity in central Texas, and Michael is chair of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and uses his position to advocate for the use of inquiry-based learning methods. This shows how much they truly care about making a difference in the world, outside of forming the young minds of students. I believe this knowledge also contributed to more success when it came to my final presentation, as the audience could tell how much I truly knew about the book and the authors. 



I decided to base my artifact off of a metaphor that the authors mention in the book. They argue that using the 5 elements allows you to think with your “eyes open”, which essentially means excelling to your full potential. These elements are meant to make your life easier with very little additional work, as doing any task with your eyes open is much easier than doing it with your eyes closed. To represent this metaphor I created two boards, one titled “eyes open” and another “eyes closed”. I asked the audience to pick one of the elements from a list and write it down with their eyes closed and then again with their eyes open. By the end of the presentation, I expected to have a board that was very messy and disorganized, and another that was much better looking. This outcome would support the author’s argument in a simple and engaging way as well as hopefully get a few audience members interested in the concept. 

Having trouble starting that essay? Solving that super tough math problem? Want to know how to truly master your skills on your beloved instrument? Well this book is the book for you. Recently, I read the only edition of The Five Elements of Effective Thinking written by Michael Starbird and Edward Burger. While I think this book is meant for someone who is the type to always be eager to learn – which is why they’d be interested in reading it in the first place – the book gives out specific evidence proving that these elements can truly apply to anyone or anything. This is essentially the main theme mentioned throughout the entirety of the book: the root of success in anything is thinking, so learning to think more effectively will therefore make you more successful. It is thinking more effectively that will allow you to think with your “eyes open” and reach your full potential. While using much of the language and messages often said throughout my school’s Performance Learning Program, Michael and Edward illustrate to you, the reader, how to become better in anything with hardly any extra work…just thinking differently. Michael is chair of the academy of distinguished teachers as well as promotes the use of inquiry based learning throughout his teachings, workshops and lectures. Having been working in education for several years, having papers published and a dozen books written, you can certainly be assured that the information being read is dependable and useful. As it eludes to in the title, the book was divided into 5 elements – earth, wind, fire, water and the quintessential. It consistently included an introduction to the individual element, expressing how it would apply to real-life, short activities to perform as you read and finally a couple paragraphs to conclude their thoughts. Within each topic, I found that the authors wrote in such an illustrative way that makes it much easier for any reader to better understand the concept and recognize how it can apply to their everyday life, something that I think would exceed any other books in the “self-help” genre. As I said before, about 40% of the advice and language used within the book had already been told to me throughout my five years in the Performance Learning Program, such as through failing to succeed. However, upon reading the book, I’ve been able to realize how the 5 elements can also apply to my life outside of school (ie.sports, work and my volunteer jobs). Even the people that you believe are the geniuses of the world aren’t that way instinctively. They simply see the world differently by applying habits of mind that have allowed them to discover and create new and profound ideas. Now, this underlying theme of the book has been evidenced in several ways. One example from the book being that of a woman who lost 80 pounds by simply changing her mindset to exercise and healthy eating being something that comes naturally to her as she no longer sees it as a task but rather as something fun. Many of the stories used to support the authors’ thesis were of their personal experience as teachers, which I enjoyed immensely and made me want to sit in on one of their lessons. Ultimately, I agree with the thesis stated in the book. The root of success truly is all about your mindset and the way you think. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and arguably Elon Musk are examples of individuals who have used effective thinking strategies uniquely in their pursuits to change the world. They didn’t back out from failures and solved sub-problems to get to the core issue, just a couple thinking strategies that have allowed them to see the world differently and with their “eyes open”.


In the end, the execution of my artifact and presentation was quite successful. The audience was generally engaged in my presentation and thoroughly enjoyed seeing how badly they could write with their eyes closed. I not only made it fun and interactive, but had great knowledge and evidence to back up the metaphor it represented, which allowed me to have insightful conversations with audience members including teachers. Finally, I was happy that I was able to establish a personal connection to each assignment and activity, as I believe that it is an essential pathway to success in the course. I always brought things back to my “calling in life”, and how I hope to affect the world through my future career aspirations in the form of healthcare. The book I read expressed that success is not something you attain, it’s something you’re constantly aiming for and this a piece of advice that will certainly allow me to move forward with lifelong learning. 

Horror Part 2

Horror. Arguably the most challenging project I’ve ever done, and not entirely because I took on a big role. Being someone who has never been interested in the genre, I was soon able to realize how it is so simple yet surprisingly complex as I began studying it. We first started by asking ourselves what we were scared of, which led us to make sense of the driving question given horror is a direct representation of our fears as a society. 

Why is horror an effective way to reflect and comment on our society?

We took a field school to Seattle, most notably visiting the Museum of Pop Culture’s horror exhibit. Upon visiting the exhibit, I was soon able to realize how many of these killers, monsters or boogey men that have been used to scare us all these years have such human-like features, yet something is still not right…they just can’t be human. This is because, typically, they are what tap into and physically represent our fears as a society, which also allows the audience to associate them with the abstract concept of evil and fear them even more. Thus, allowing the film to more effectively share an important form of social commentary. 

Watching Halloween (1978) prior to beginning our production was quite effective in representing how good a film can turn out no matter how simple the story, as well as introducing us to classical aspects of movies from the genre such as the “final girl” trope. This method was also used in another popular horror saga, Friday The 13th with their killer – the all-mighty Jason Vorhees. In my previous post, I explained the kind of power that these select antagonists have held over their franchises which have led them to star in a dozen films. In our slasher movie, we adapted the tactic of de-humanizing our killer from both the movies and the horror exhibit in Seattle by not ever revealing her face and keeping her primarily mute. Drawing from outside media as inspiration has certainly improved the quality of our movie. I hope to continue doing so through extra research on the topics that we would be studying in future projects to bring in a wider range of ideas and ultimately come to a greater final product. 

Now we had already made a movie before, but there were a couple new challenges that arose: we knew how to make a movie, but not exactly how to make it scary and didn’t have a story to work off of like we did in Macbeth. We also had previous experience on analyzing how certain genres acted as social commentary, as our last project had been on dystopias. 

As I always look back on projects we’ve done, there’s always little bits and pieces that bug me because I wish I could’ve changed them or done them differently. I could go on and on about the things that went wrong but it would just be pointless, so I decided to talk about the things that were in my control. Being given the role of Producer has permitted me to learn and take back a lot from this project. I was quite proud of all the effort I put into organization during production and post-production, but I believe there were a few things that I could’ve done that would’ve set us up for more success. First of all, improving the communication by conducting rundowns at the beginning of everyday, especially throughout our filming days. Second, training a select few individuals to know a detailed version of our director’s vision to be able to conduct small shots without her, which would have kept us more on track. Third, doing a few more class read-throughs of the script to assure everyone would know the story fairly well and potentially take more initiative to figure out what to do. I know that I’ll certainly be able to take back several leadership lessons such as being more assertive, delegating tasks and roles rather than leaving them up to one person as well as communication, as there can never be too much of that. 


Fear is a part of our basic biological makeup as it ignites primary survival instincts such as fight or flight. This genre is an effective way of presenting social commentary and topics, even perhaps taboo, to reach large audiences by igniting such fear. Being put into the perspective of a movie creator has allowed me to truly realize the appeal and point of the genre. Horror is a way for viewers to escape their personal fears and instead experience them on a screen. We based our film’s story on the idea of social media, which is just another form in which us humans use to escape our own reality.

What Power Do Horror Franchises Hold Over Their Killers?

Halloween (1978) singlehandedly launched the era of the slasher film, where the main character became the villain. Halloween soon became a popular series, creating thirteen movies, along with Friday the 13th that made twelve. Sequels in many other genres have never been nearly as successful as these franchises, which has left me wondering how these movies were so popular despite having much of the same plot. 

When it comes to Friday the 13th, it’s always the same thing: killer takes out a bunch of teenagers. Upon watching Eli Roth’s History of Horror episode on the slasher sub-genre, one of his guest speakers said something that sparked my interest. Elijah Wood said that the subsequent sequels to Friday the 13th became “who are these awful kids that we sort of hate and why can’t we wait for Jason totake them out?”. This was answered by Joe Hill, another guest speaker, stating that each movie of this franchise only ever included these one-dimensional characters (gang of teenagers with a jock, stoner, virgin, etc). This permits the audience from ever caring about them or falling in love with them, which makes it easier and more entertaining to watch them be taken out by a serial killer. My theory is that people go in to watch a Friday the 13th film expecting to see gore and many kills, especially of teenagers, but they are drawn in by the unique and creative ways in which they are all done by the oh-so-famous Jason Vorhees.

The reasoning behind the Halloween franchise’s popularity however, is different. Halloween introduces the world to Lorie Strode, who was the first to begin the classic horror trope of the “final girl”. Contrary to Friday the 13th, you care about Lorie and don’t want her to die as she is the one that you relate to the most — the smart and logical one. Lorie Strode is the ultimate horror movie heroine because she represents all that is beautiful about humanity. She is a fighter and survivor, as well as the only one capable of finally ending Michael Myers. Although Michael Myers’ motivation to target Lorie is partially revealed in a couple of the sequels by the fact that she is his younger sister, what made the first film so good was the fact that you have no idea what makes him want to focus on her.

Lorie Strode is only in seven out of the thirteen movies in this franchise, so, what makes Michael Myers such an interesting killer that you’d wanna see him in so many movies? An article from stated that “no matter what film he’s in, Michael is always a formidable force of nature that is almost impossible to defeat in the Halloween franchise.” He’s the human that just ain’t human, and the living description of The Boogey Man. By being faceless, he appears as less human while also allowing viewers to associate him with the abstract concept of evil itself. The fact that he never says a word even further adds to this effect.

I believe that this is what the directors of Friday the 13th wanted to bring into their franchise, as Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees are not all that different. Both Jason and Michael have remained the face of their franchises throughout almost every movie, whereas other franchises have had to rely on additional antagonists to keep their stories fresh. The killers’ abilities to carry forty years of cinema by themselves further distinguishes them from their murderous colleagues. 



Sources Cited:

Farrell, 07-04-2020 by D., & Kalifa, 06-30-2020 by P. (2013, March 19). Why I love Michael Myers: An essay. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from

Joiner, L. (2022, February 16). Here’s what makes Friday the 13th popular enough for 12 movies. MovieWeb. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from

Murrian, S. R. (2022, October 12). John Carpenter’s 1978 ‘Halloween’ is one of the best, Scariest Horror Movies of All Time-Here’s why – parade: Entertainment, recipes, health, life, holidays. Parade. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from

Osborne, J. (2022, October 14). Jason Voorhees explained: Who is the Friday the 13th movie killer? The Digital Fix. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from

Roth, E. (2018, October 21). Slasher Part 1 . Eli Roth’s History of Horror. Episode 2. Season 1

Zimmerman, D. (2022, October 3). The 10 best things about Halloween’s Michael Myers. CBR. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from

The Handmaid’s Tale…a world not too far from reality?


Good afternoon. I am here to introduce PLP 12’s first project of the year on dystopias. In this project’s final product, we were to analyze a novel we chose to read and explain how an issue in that novel acts as social commentary in a final film of our creation. 

How does dystopian literature act as social commentary?

We started by identifying the common attributes of a dystopian society, which I
believe had contributed to helping me analyze the dystopian texts we had been exposed to this project. 

We subsequently watched the dystopian movie “V for Vendetta” and conducted a Socratic seminar on the film. I had previously said in my most recent project and tPOL that I wanted to improve on my skills in Socratic seminars, and I’m certainly headed in the right direction. I feel as though I made a great contribution to the conversation, was well prepared with my notes, and introduced new ideas and connections from the film.

I chose to read The Handmaid’s Tale as I thought that the issues presented in the book were quite relevant to today. Throughout our experience of reading the books, we wrote in response journals to get ourselves thinking about what issues we’d like to analyze. Then, we wrote paragraphs analyzing two themes in the book. I made mine on identity and how fear suppresses the act of rebellion. My analyses on these themes well exemplify the fact that I continue to improve in text analysis in every coming project.

Offred’s dialogue, as she dwells in the past, demonstrates how it’s difficult to value identity until it is stripped away from her. The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel in which the leaders of Gilead control women’s bodies and rights as a form of political fodder, in an attempt to suppress them from liberties and freedoms such as their identity. Offred’s reminiscence of her past life humanizes her in the sense that when she loses something, she then realizes how grateful she is for it and how important it was before it was taken. Offred often compares her previous life to her current one. Throughout the book, we continually gain more insight as to how her identity and freedoms have been stripped away. In an effort to create a collective identity amongst the people of Gilead, as it’s fundamental to a working dystopian regime, those in power separate their citizens into classes (eg. Handmaids, Marthas, Commanders). The handmaids, for example, are forced to wear red robes to symbolize their only true purpose – menstruation, and therefore fertility. Additionally, they are given new names such as Offred, stating that they are owned by their Commander, just like an object (Of-Fred). Offred wonders if she “Can be blamed for wanting a real body, to put her arms around?” Part of Offred’s identity, prior to the control gained by the Gileadean regime, was that of being a mother and wife. She experiences the feeling of dissociation, as she is no longer able to care for her family or receive any kind of affection. This represents how a lack of love can be detrimental to the human spirit, and how it is essential to living a content life. The suppression of individualism also extends to Gilead’s theocratic state. This dystopic novel contains several allusions to the bible, maintaining only one collective religion in it’s society. Religion is an aspect of identity, and those that may have been atheist, Jewish, Islamic, etc before the regime overthrew the U.S. government, are forced into a contrary set of beliefs. Margaret Atwood’s plot point could be argued to point towards historical predecessors, such as the indigenous residential schools or the Crusades, in which forced conversion occurred. This theocracy acts as an outlet to eliminate free thought, aspects such as the routine bible readings and lectures from Aunts in the Red Centre work to create a collective belief, and therefore a collective identity.
The plot of The Handmaid’s Tale exemplifies that fear suppresses the act of rebellion, but it’s desire will ultimately create a spark and cause members of the population to act out. Following in the theme of a collective identity, The Handmaid’s Tale’s world enforces their people to look and act in a similar way. This of which makes it increasingly frightening for members to ever have the desire to stand out or rebel against their regime. While this is the goal of Gilead, nearly every character rebels in one way or another. The commander and his wife, for example, rebel for their own personal benefit. Offred may not be what we consider to be a traditional rebel such as Ofglen and Moira, as she struggles with an internal conflict – rebelliousness vs fear. Throughout the novel, she is given numerous opportunities to escape but becomes frightened within her enslaved position in Gilead due to the fearful elements of her current society. The dead bodies hanging on the wall, for example, are a relentless reminder to the civilians of what rebellion and conflict will result in. Over time, Offred begins to “make a life for herself, here, of a sort” as she begins seeing Nick secretly, which makes her feel like she has something more to live for. “Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.” In this sense, a compensation such as comfort may also act as a suppressor of rebellion. Her situation has improved, which has made her circumstances more tolerable. This may have led her to believe that life isn’t so bad in Gilead anymore, and there is therefore far less desire for her to leave. Through this recurring theme, Margaret Atwood expresses that while a heroic and rebellious protagonist may always be exciting, it is humanizing the character that will strengthen the message by making it’s story hauntingly realistic and therefore inflicting fear on it’s readers of our real world’s social issues. It is more difficult for members of an oppressive society to rebel as it is human’s nature to survive. Although Offred cared more for her own safety rather than standing up against the Gileadean regime, she lived to tell her story, which in a society that aims to silence her, could in fact, be an act of rebellion.


Then, we went on to start the creation of our films. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure as to how I should approach my film making, so, I decided to email several members of the English Department at UBC that specialized in Canadian Literature to get some inspiration from them. I received one answer from Glenn Deer who gave me many connections to other forms of literature such as The Complete Persepolis and WE. 


Upon much research, I decided that I would focus my film on women’s reproductive rights, an issue very relevant to the US, but also in Canada. I learned about the issue of Crisis Pregnancy Centres that was well described by John Oliver on one of his talk shows, which was what had sparked my interest in using this topic for my documentary. Futhermore, I spoke to a counsellor from an abortion clinic in Vancouver in the form of an interview and was given much insight based on their professional experience and personal opinions. This information really amped up the quality of my film’s content. 

Excerpt from my film’s script

Even though I have been a “PLP kid” for the last five years, my editing skills are not top notch, which I think was where I fell short in my film. However, my content was there and I had a very well thought-out script. My theme analysis, research and organization thrived in this project. I am looking forward to further grow my skills in text analysis and public speaking through Socratic Seminars as well as incorporate what I learned in this project to our next one on Horror. 

TPOL 2022

“Thank you for coming to my presentation of learning. I am the expert on my own learning. I am also responsible and accountable for my own learning. You can expect me to give an honest evaluation of my progress. We will discuss my strengths and opportunities for growth. Thank you in advance for listening and for offering feedback that I can use to improve as a learner.”

Hello all and welcome to my very last tPOL…eeeek. It is truly nerve-racking to think that this time next year I’ll be graduating, but let’s get onto this presentation shall we? 

I want to begin this tPOL with the goals I set in my mPOL earlier this school year. My first goal was that of Communicating which meant that by the end of the year, I wanted to feel more comfortable and confident while speaking in front of others. Around the time of my mPOL, I would get excessively nervous before and while I had to speak in front of others. Now…I still get excessively nervous. However, there were still ways that I actually improved in this competency. Coming into this project that we just completed for the spring exhibition, there were two opportunities in which heavily included speaking – Socratic Seminars and presenting our products at the exhibition. 

Looking back at the Socratic Seminars that were held the semester before, I hardly spoke if anything not at all. On the other hand, I had spoken much more when it came to the set of Socratic Seminars held in this project. This is because I put in the effort to make myself feel much more prepared before the seminars. I decided that I would not only heavily review my notes on the text,
but do additional research as well as read analyses made on the films. Doing such made me feel much more sure about what I had to say, making me therefore feel more confident. This also applies to presenting my portrait at the spring exhibition as I had done extensive research on my Community Impact Maker which was well received by those that I was presenting to.

My next goal was in regards to Collaboration – using leadership skills in a group context that fit best with my strengths and weaknesses as well as taking on leadership roles more often. I believe that the spring exhibition is a good example of how my leadership skills have grown. The “Service” group in which I was in was only working together for about a week, which is what made working as a team very important. I took on a leading role in this group, but that didn’t just mean I was telling everyone what to do. I was aware that one of my biggest strengths is organization, so my priority was to make sure that we were getting everything done and staying on task.

Some of the group members I worked with this last exhibition!

This school year, I’ve ultimately gained a new understanding for the term “leadership” and have started to apply it to actual projects. Being the “leader” of a group project doesn’t just mean you’re bossing people around, it means that you are ensuring every member gets their ideas in. The final execution is not only limited to the leader’s own vision, and the leader should strive to bring the people and ideas together because everyone needs to collaborate. Where I really think I’ve represented this was in the Spring Exhibition because I used my strengths to my advantage which lead to the success of my group’s area. *

My number one objective for next year is to finish my last year of PLP with no regrets, I’m also applying this to every other aspect of my life. I did however have one primary regret from this school year, the Macbeth production. We started this project after I had finished my mPOL with the goals I stated earlier in Collaboration and Communication. In this production I could’ve participated in either by taking on a big role in a department or taking on an acting role. I unfortunately did neither which lead me to highly regretting the ends of this project. I consider this to be my F.A.I.L of the school year, but now I know that it won’t happen again. 

Another lesson that I learned from this school year came from the Manhattan Project Project and Winter Exhibition. I took a risk in having my project’s topic to do with the effect of chemo therapy. I later realized that it was perhaps too sensitive, personal and sometimes even tragic to talk about especially in a exhibition setting. Presenting to others during the exhibition became very uncomfortable and I came to regret both my topic and art choice. Although I regret it, it was a huge learning experience for me. 

Now onto something I feel I should celebrate. Obviously, I felt my Spring Exhibition went successfully but I also consider the Playlist of My Life project to be quite worth celebrating. Although a short project, the Playlist of My Life showcased the best of my skills in text analysis. I was able to naturally integrate poetic devices as well as describe my connection to the songs in perfect detail. Most importantly, I went deeply into my own interpretation of the meaning behind each song – well explained and found as interesting by my peers. 

If you look back at where I was at in grade 8, coming out of an entirely french school in which I was “learning” english as a second language – my writing wasn’t all the greatest. Now I’ve improved immensely and have finally gotten to the same level as my peers. 

Why do I feel I am ready to advance to the next grade level? On the outside I’m not, in fact I’m terrified to start grade 12 next year just like any other high-schooler. However, on the inside I feel as though I have adapted to a senior level of education in humanities. I have well developed skills in text analysis as well as in persuasive writing. I’ve improved my leadership skills and broken “speech related barriers”. Finally, I’ve finally started to find my voice when it comes to my blog posts. Blog posts aren’t particularly meant to be as formal as a traditional essay, so I’ve always carried that kind of mentality with me – which has allowed me to better express my personality through the media and writing used in posts. Through that, I’ve found how I’d like to represent myself to those viewing my university applications – because this is ultimately what the purpose of my learning portfolio has been all these years. *