30 days. 50,000 words. Ready set go! This is the exact amount of time that junior Carmela Rourke spent on her novel entry for the Nanowrimo contest which was for National Novel Writing Month in November. Carmela along with other worldwide contestants submitted a combined total of two billion words by the deadline date on November 30th.
Her novel discusses the battle verse good and evil. She describes this accomplishment as, “A lot of fun but a challenge.” As a result of competing in this contest, Carmela will have her novel printed and bound for free, and have the opportunity to have it sold on Amazon. She was also given a list of email addresses of publishers.
When asked if she will compete again, she said that her previous novel is a cliff hanger and she wants to finish it with a sequel.
In shirt and tie like most, except this teacher has a passport to boast. Sitting in a history classroom of bright colors and unique finds from Africa and Asia, teacher Chris Williams tells me he has now visited a total of seventy-four countries and has participated in four years of volunteer teaching.
Mr. Williams, of the social studies department, is back from his teaching mission in Guyana, country seventy four, and he celebrates teaching year thirty with sophomores, seniors, and the McNamara community.
He took a break from McNamara to work with the Peace Core because he needed a challenge. Prior to his peace core work, he taught in Sudan during the later part of the 1970’s. One of his most recent volunteer efforts took place in the country of Guyana in South America where he has spent the last two years. He taught primary school which is most equivalent to our elementary school system. He worked with second through sixth grade students to help develop reading, writing, and phonics skills. Lucky for him, Guyana is an English speaking country seeing that English is the only language Mr. Williams speaks.
Teaching the same curriculum year after year had lost its fire. Mr. Williams was stretching his students, but for him it was repetition and more meaningfully he said, “Volunteer work appealed to me very much.” Mr. Williams spoke with Principal Marco Clark, School President Heather Gossart and the administration about taking a leave of absence to pursue the opportunity abroad. The result was two years in Guyana. He went, taught and has come back revived. It proved to be a good experience. He said, “The children are sweethearts,” but admits it’s a lot harder than teaching high school, it requires more patience.
Now, back at McNamara he celebrates his 30th year of teaching. He currently teaches sophomore Western Civilization and senior Global Studies. Mr. Williams hasn’t taught sophomores in a while and the high school gap is evident. He enjoys teaching both classes, but there is a difference. He said, “Seniors are nine months away from college and sophomores are three months away from freshmen year.” His sophomores are still developing writing skills, while his seniors are busy writing applications. To teach both classes he has to apply different motivations because they are at different stages and their outlooks vary.
Looking around the same room Mr. Williams’ sophomores and seniors sit in, my eyes catch interest in the colorful walls once again. In room 215, many alluring ornaments come down from the ceiling to greet you accompanied by the artifacts on the walls. One of the items hanging from the ceiling is a gift of colorful ornamental balls that Mr. Williams received on a home-stay in Japan. Gift-giving holds great importance in Japan. It is disrespectful to visit someone without coming with a gift. In Japanese, nebura is the word meaning empty handed. Of course, Mr. Williams came with gift in hand and warmly received one back. Returning to his classroom there are many other decorations from different journeys. The wall above the whiteboards bears a sign with chocolate silhouettes advertising Ashanti hair salon in Ghana, West Africa. The room just shows the mix of culture that he has experienced from all around the globe. Other items found in the room include gifts from students and teachers who have traveled abroad. Of these gifts, one is a highly decorated wooden box from Iran, it was a gift from Chemistry teacher Saiedeh Khalili.
Mr. Williams is enjoying teaching, but he may increase his count of seventy-four countries. I asked where he would like to travel next, and three countries came to mind. The first being Madagascar off the coast of Africa because of its unique cultural mix between Africa and Indonesia. “Madagascar has beautiful landscape,” Mr. Williams said, “and a lot of wildlife.” The second country is Papua New Guinea of the South West Pacific Islands because of its rich isolated culture. Papua New Guinea is said to have many undiscovered species of plants and animals. Maybe Mr. Williams can discover something new. Lastly, Easter Island in the Southeastern side of the Pacific Ocean because of its world renown Moai, the nine hundred stone statues that decorate the island.
An avid tennis player, Lawrence Manley Jr. ’09 spent his past summer working at the Fort Davis Recreation Center in Washington D.C. helping kids play the sport. Quickly, Lawrence realized that the young players were having trouble with the drills he was instructing. “They couldn’t keep the numbers in their heads,” Lawrence commented, “They couldn’t keep score.” The senior discovered that the problem was their lack of basic math skills.
Lawrence sought to volunteer at the kid’s school’s tutoring program. However, he quickly learned of the lack thereof. This became the inspiration for his Senior Service Project. Lawrence decided to start his own tutoring program for the kids to learn the math skills they needed.
After learning about what Lawrence had successfully done, Jodi Dean, a junior religion teacher in charge of the Dorthy Day Service Program, encouraged him to submit his project to the Prudential Service Award for consideration. At first, the five 500 word essays were enough to deter the senior, but he eventually complied with some pushing from his parents.
Several weeks later, Lawrence found out that his work was not in vain. His project was chosen along with one other student in the D.C. area for the top prize. Along with the recognition, the award grants its winners a $1,000 scholarship.
On the night of Sunday May 3rd, Lawrence, along with the two top students from every state, attended a celebratory banquet at the National Museum of Natural History. Former First Lady Laura Bush gave a speech honoring all of the winners. Jason Ritter, an actor who starred in Freddy vs. Jason alongside many other movies too, gave a motivational speech.
Throughout the entire process of planning, implementing and then reflecting on the project, Lawrence remained modest. Ms. Dean asserted that, “He is extremely humble…his humility is really impressive.”
Lawrence reflected on the experience saying, “At first the kids were a pain, but I grew to really like them.” In the end, Lawrence’s work and persistence did him and the young students well earning him national recognition and teaching them life skills.
There really is not a clear definition of what a Music Producer is, but there are two types. One is someone who develops an artist’s sound and image, and helps them grow into a marketable product. This column focuses on the other type — an Audio Producer, like Jaron Henderson ’10. Audio producers are responsible for conducting musicians, engineers, and artists during recording sessions. It is their job to compose, arrange, mix, and master the music into a final audio product. Some notable producers that may come to mind are Dr. Dre, Scott Storch, The Neptunes, and Timbaland.
Interview by Soleil Grant ’10 | Special to The Stampede
BMHS STAR: Jaron (J.J.) Henderson
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a great artist in our midst, right here at Bishop McNamara. He is a talented music producer aspiring to break into the music industry. If you have not yet gotten to know this month’s BMHS Music Star, Jaron “J.J.” Henderson, you should definitely add it to your “to do” list.
You might not know him, but if you attended Sankofa Night or BMHS’s Talent Show you’ve certainly heard him. One of his beats was used in a rap performance. Also, he performed himself, playing the piano, alongside a singing act. Now he still drums in Afican Dance III and IV. Most recently, his outgoing personality charmed the Class of 2010 to vote him as their Homecoming Prince.
Soleil: Hey Jaron!
Jaron: Hey Soleil-lay! Wussup!
Soleil: Nothing, How are you?
Soleil: Okay, so let’s get this started…Where are you from?
Jaron: I was born in D.C. When I was two I moved to Clinton, MD, and I’ve lived there ever since.
Soleil: What producers inspire you?
Jaron: I have a top three, with no specific order: Timbaland, Kanye West, and the Neptunes.
Soleil : Why are these people inspring to you?
Jaron: They are all on their own level. They are unique, They branch out to all genres, and they have a lot of experience in the game. (Music industry)
Soleil: Do remember the time, place, how old you were, etc. of your life when you decided that producing is what you want to do?
Jaron: I was in the 5th grade and school just got out, and I heard “Grindin’” by the Clipse for the first time. That was when I decided to make beats. (“Grindin” was produced by the Neptunes)
Soleil: How much of your daily time do you devote to producing?
Jaron: When I get home and finish all my homework, I’m just at it until late at night.
Soleil: I know this type of commitment can be a costly one. How much money have you invested into studio equipment, etc.?
Jaron: All together, about $935.00.
Soleil: Wow! Is it hard to persuade your parents into letting you spend this kind of money?
Jaron: Yes, very hard. They would rather me do things more practical.
Soleil: Like what?
Jaron: Like business, something that I can fall back on if the music doesn’t work out.
Soleil: I remember you telling me about a manager and studio time. So what’s going on with that?
Jaron: I am waiting to find the right people who will spend money and time to pay for studio time, people who are dedicated to putting projects together.
Soleil: On average, how much does studio time cost at studios that you look at?
Jaron: Like $60.00 an hour. I don’t always go to the same studio, though. It’s different everytime.
Soleil: At home on your computer, that’s where you work right?
Soleil: What software do you use?
Jaron: I use a combination. They’re called Reason 4 and FL Studio 8.
Soleil: How do you find the softwares you use and how do you know if they’re good or not before you buy them?
Jaron: I get demos of the software from friends of mine, and then I go on the internet and research on the stuff I’m looking at to know if it’s good or not.
Soleil: How much does the software cost?
Jaron: Reason 4 was about $300.00 and the same for FL Studio 8.
Soleil: In general, how do your parents feel about you devoting so much time and money into this? Do they support you?
Jaron: They like it because it’s something constructive. It keeps me out of trouble and it keeps me busy. They like jammin’ to my stuff, my mom likes the stuff.
Soleil: Who would be your dream artist to work with? You can give more than one…
Jaron: Right now, definitely Lupe Fiasco.
Jaron: because his style of lyricism is completely different from everything else that you’re hearing.
Soleil: Anybody else?
Jaron: T.I. and Jay-Z.
Jaron: The reason for Jay-z is because, he’s Jay-z. He’s timeless!
Soleil: Yayyyyy!!! Ok, so who would be your dream producer to apprentice?
Jaron: Because he’s been around it all. He’s worked with Missy Elliot, Aaliyah, Justin Timberlake, T.I., he’s worked with everybody.
Soleil: What instruments can you play?
Jaron: I basically just play the piano.
Soleil: Can you describe your style?
Jaron: It varies, but most of the time it’s dark.
Soleil: What do you mean by dark?
Jaron: Like an ugly, like ugly face beats.
Soleil: (Laughs) OK, so give 5 adjectives that describe your style of production.
Jaron: I don’t have beats in my head like some people, I just sit down and go. Whatever happens happens. One word I can think of is complex: you hear a lot of sounds in my beats, I use a lot of different sounds, and you notice new sounds the more you listen to them.
Soleil: Cool. So, have you ever heard a beat and tried to make a beat that basically mimicked the one you heard?
Jaron: Oh man, I remade “Crank Dat Soulja Boy” in like forty five minutes. And I remade “Foolish” by Shawty Lo.
Soleil: In your opinion what skills set does a person need to be a good producer?
Jaron: Determination definitely. When I first started out I was pretty bad. But now I’m at a pretty decent level, for my age and everything. Also, they need an ear for what sounds good.
Soleil: This is all so cool. Lastly where can people hear your beats?
Jaron: www.myspace.com/bassmentbeatz The “base” part of “basement” is spelled “bass”, like the sound in music…
It’s obvious, that Jaron is passionate about his dreams, and that making music is more than just a hobby. He is not stingy when it comes to sharing his music. So after you listen to his sound on his Myspace page, ask him for a demo. It would be best to get a hold of his beats now before he becomes grammy award winning, because then, he’ll be getting paid thousands of dollars just to make one!