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North students gain insight in school's literary circles

June 09, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

You are what you think.

That's the lesson members of two North Hagerstown High School literary circles, Philosophical Wonderings and History's Mysteries, have gained from spending hours after school this semester mulling over their existence and the motives of history's leaders.

Philosophical Wonderings adviser Blaine Dockery said his group of about seven students studied James Allen's introspective "As a Man Thinketh." Dockery, a math teacher at the school, said he wanted the seven students to look into themselves instead of focusing so much on being teenagers.

Sophomore Miriam Ramsey, 16, said she joined Philosophical Wonderings so she could have something to do after school, but as a result of the discussion group, she has a new outlook on life.

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"It's so amazing 'cause I never realized how someone's ideas and frame of mind can affect how they live and what they accomplish," she said.

Ramsey, who said she was under a lot of stress before she joined the discussion group, now is trying to be more optimistic since reading the seven-chapter book.

"It's one of those books you wish people would read in school more often," she said.

Senior Laurel Hackley, 17, said she jumped at the chance to discuss philosophy with people her age. Hackley said she tackled the "dead Greek guys" before reading Allen and said she found "As a Man Thinketh" much more relaxing and easy to discuss.

"Once you get into that groove, you start looking around," she said.

History's Mysteries adviser Anne Stickler said students don't always have time in class to debate history lessons, but meeting after school allows them to delve further into some of their favorite topics.

The social studies teacher said her seven-member group read through articles and books that discuss Adolf Hitler's attack on Russia and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, to name a few.

Junior Kevin McClanathan, 16, said he learned the grassy knoll theory and the magic bullet theory connected with JFK's assassination through reading articles on the subject that the group later discussed.

McClanathan said he likes to see how his opinion compares to those of his classmates.

"We knew there had to be at least two shooters," he said.

Jerry Haines, the school's literary resource teacher, said the two groups started after some school staff found interest from students to discuss things they read. He said the program is expected to expand next year into more afterschool discussion groups.

"This was a great spark for a lot of kids who may not be involved in other kinds of things to interact with like-minded people," said Ben Brauer, an assistant principal at the school.

Junior Taylor DiClemente was a member of Philosophical Wonderings. He said "As a Man Thinketh" didn't spark any epiphanies the 16-year-old hasn't already had.

"I already have looked inside me," he said.

Hackley giggled.

"I didn't say I'm done yet," DiClemente said, giggling back.

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