Author: Joshua Brown

Important News from GPGC

On Tuesday, July 12, a McNeese student group in conjunction with the local Lake Charles chapter of the NAACP will be holding a prayer vigil on the McNeese campus (in the Quad) starting at 7 PM. Unfortunately there have been rumors of other groups planning to protest the prayer vigil and although we don’t expect any trouble we have decided, after consultation with the McNeese administration and our security officer, to keep our students in the dorm Tuesday night after dinner. As parents, you are of course welcome to come check your student out of the dorm for any reason Tuesday night but we wanted to let you know that the students will be restricted to the dorm for the night. If you have any questions or concerns about this please feel free to call or email me (Joshua Brown) –, 337-475-5446.

Weekly Reports – Grad Classes – Weeks Three and Four

Our older students (9th and 10 graders usually) are called “Grads” here at the Program. That’s a long story for another day but these students take college-level classes in the morning. This summer we are offering English (Creative Writing), Psychology in Film, and Special Topics in Criminal Justice.. Here are reports from Weeks Three and Four for each of those classes.

Creative Writing (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor):

Week Three: 

We began our poetry workshop this week. Students generally treated one another’s work with respect and made useful and insightful criticisms. My main responsibility in this workshop is to identify how an individual poem is working in or against a certain aesthetic tradition, if the class is unwilling or unable to do so. Otherwise, I sit back and let the students manage the discussion, and so far they have done a good job. On Thursday, we discussed what distinction, if any, exists between art and obscenity. This had the potential to devolve very quickly into hysterics and giggles and attempts on the students’ part to talk about their experiences viewing pornography, but the class did a good job of paying attention and demonstrating maturity. We read through Judge Woolsey’s majority decision in United States v. One Book Called “Ulysses,” which is a landmark obscenity case. On Friday we talked about flash-fiction, its emergence in the digital age, and how the brevity of the form lends itself to either 1) macabre humor or 2) existential meditation. Students have a 500 word response paper due for Monday.

Week Four:

On Monday, the students discussed their homework – a 500 word typewritten response to either Primo Levi’s “A Tranquil Star” or Amelia Gray’s “Date Night.” “A Tranquil Star” is concerned with the limits of language in describing the physical universe. “Date Night” is far more ambiguous and led to a good class debate about whether literary works have to contain “a deeper meaning” or whether they can be read for purely aesthetic or formalist reasons. On Tuesday, we discussed Realism as a literary movement. I lectured briefly about how Realism was a response to Romanticism and attempted to portray “ordinary life” in a way that was sincere and impartial. Then we discussed “The Destructors” by Graham Greene (which I did not realize was the inspiration for the Grad Fruit Drop) and “Are These Actual Miles?” by Raymond Carver. The students noted the plain, unadorned style, the impartial tone, and the lack of abstraction which these works share. On Wednesday, I introduced the concept of metafiction by showing the class a self-referential sketch from a British comedy show. We then talked about metafiction in a historical sense, and I pointed out that texts have been markedly self-referential since antiquity. I also shared with them Paul De Man’s belief that all fiction is metafiction since all fiction is at the very least implicitly concerned with language. As a corollary to metafiction, we also discussed Ars Poetica, poetry which describes poetics. The students read “A Continuity of Parks” by Julio Cortazar as their textual introduction to metafiction. On Thursday, we continued our discussion of metafiction by discussing Margaret Atwood’s “Happy Endings.” We then transitioned to literary Postmodernism by discussing Donald Barthelme’s “Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Colby.” The class seems to respond well to stories which involve macabre humor. I attribute this to their youth and intelligence.

Special Topics in Criminal Justice (Mrs. Jessica Markstorm, Instructor):

Week Three:

This week focused on problems encountered with police work. Issues such as aggressive patrol and excessive force were discussed. The students were presented with a thorough explanation of the 4th Amendment that included coverage of numerous Supreme Court cases. The exclusionary rule, “plain view” doctrine, and warrantless searches were evaluated.

Week Four:

Students learned the basic requirements of Miranda Rights and the exceptions to those requirements. The roles of the prosecutor, judge, and defense counsel were explored for a criminal case. Jury selection was discussed. A special emphasis was placed on issues regarding bail and plea bargains.

Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor):

Week Three:

During the third week, we finished our examination of perception with a discussion of the difficulties of recovery of vision. We saw scenes from the movie Blink, which is a fictionalized story that involves this topic.

Our main topic for the week was memory. We discussed memory systems, including their limitations and failures. Students saw two movies about memory: Inception and Memento. Inception is about implanting false memories, and Memento is about a person with anterograde amnesia, which is not the typical movie portrayal. Students enjoyed both, and we spent time critiquing the movie version of amnesia, which pretty much no movie does correctly.

Week Four:

We finished our examination of memory with a discussion of the misinformation effect, which is a process that results in false memories. This phenomenon is important for false criminal convictions based on eyewitness testimony as well as many memory failures.

We continued to the topic of sleep, which we discussed mostly in terms of the physiology of the stages of sleep and the brain structures that are activated during the various stages. We talked about the relationship between dreams and the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. No discussion of dreams is complete without Freud’s theory of the symbolic content of dreams, so we talked about that view, but we also considered a physiologically based theory of dreaming called the activation-synthesis theory. We also discussed some of the effects of sleep deprivation.

Weekly Reports – Composition – Weeks Four and Five

Here are the reports from the Composition teachers for Weeks Three and Four.

Freshmen Composition (Mrs. Cecil Tate, Instructor)

Week Three:

The students chose to write a mystery story this week. I led them through a guided story exercise in order to review the parts of a short story, and practice adding descriptive details to scenes. After sharing their stories and exchanging ideas, the students are writing an original story. They also had more practice correcting run on sentences. Because they are writing stories, I have included practice and a review of quotation marks for dialogue. To break things up a bit, I gave them a poetry assignment just for fun – an eight line (minimum) apostrophe. I hope they have enjoyed the week as much as I have!
Week Four:
Students turned in their original stories, the rubrics, and partner peer review feedback. In order to practice writing from another character’s viewpoint, they wrote a response to the apostrophe poem. The person or thing they wrote to in the first poem had to answer the author. Because students will have to respond to literature or historical pieces, I have assigned several chapters in Socrates, The Man Who Dared to Ask. They will look for answers to the question “what is beauty?” according to Socrates.
Sophomore Composition (Ms.Stacey Simien, Instructor)
Week Three: 
Each day we begin class with a ten minute quick-write to get the creative juices flowing. We watched a video on, The art of persuasion and learned several different Persuasive writing techniques. Tuesday we discussed feminism and stereotypes associated with the concept. Then we watched a Ted talk- “We should all be Feminists” and then discussed feminism again. Because students had two essays this week one for Humanities and one for Comp I allotted classtime for writing Wednesday. In preparation for next week’s essay we Read aloud a Comparison article “How Modern Like Depletes Gut Microbes” hmwk- Think of something you’d like to compare (ideas, subjects, themes, cultures, etc). And Friday we Read aloud “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston discussed symbolism, authors purpose, character development within the short story.
Week Four: 
Monday- Assigned essay topic: comparison contrast Essays, discussed several organizational types for this type of essay, and possible topics.
Tuesday- Returned last week’s essays, discussed common mistakes. Watched short videos on the following topics: Evaluating sources, connecting your audience through writing, and understanding tone and voice.
Wednesday- Reviewed videos from yesterday, Read aloud three different comparison essays and critiqued each orally discussion style.
Thursday- Students asked for an extension on this week’s essay. I decided to give them until Tuesday to turn in. Students will be allowed to work on and share essays for peer critique in class next week.
Senior Composition (Mr.Cody Magee, Instructor)
Week Three: 

This week we finished up on poetry and started transitioning to fiction.

Week Four: 
This week we worked fiction/prose. Both how to examine short stories from the perspective of craft, as well as how to begin writing fiction. We started by introducing very short stories (one sentence to 200 words) and moved on to discussion a couple of contemporary short stories. Additionally, those students who are choosing to do senior projects in composition received feedback and direction.