Alex Morgan
Born on July 2, 1989, Alex Morgan, a forward for the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, went to Diamond Bar High School, and University of California, Berkeley. Her hometown is Diamond Bar, California, but her birthplace was San Dimas, California. In her high school days, she scored 45 goals, tying for third in all-time school history. Growing up, Alex Morgan was an athletic person. However, she only began playing soccer with an actual team when she was about 14 years old. At Diamond Bar, she was picked to play in her district’s all star team three times and also was named an NSCAA All-American. At Berkeley, where she went to college, she led the Golden Bears to the NCAA tournament and twice to the second round in all of the four years she was there. Later on, in 2008, she helped the U.S. win the championship by scoring the winning goal. This was named the goal of the game and the second best goal of the whole tournament. Also, in 2011, she scored multiple goals in both the semifinal and finals. In the 2011 Women’s Professional Soccer draft by Western New York Flash, Morgan was drafted first overall. And in the same year she played in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup on the U.S. Women’s National Team. She scored her first-ever World Cup goal in a semifinal match against France as the youngest person on the team, to lose against Japan in the finals, in a shootout. Morgan dominated in the 2015 FIFA World Cup which led her to becoming the champion of the game. It all comes to show that she has been the star player in many of her games. At home, Morgan practices the way she would act on the field. Even though Morgan is the youngest of three sisters, Jenny (six years older) and Jeri (four years older), she always thought she wasn’t far behind them. “Everything was a competition,” she said. She would race them down the street and make it a competition. “Beating someone to us was just so sweet.” Morgan who is a super-competitive person stated that she doesn’t ever want to lose again after being a witness to her dad’s “champion dance” he did whenever he won. Did you know that Alex Morgan enjoys doing yoga and has a motorcycle license? Guess what?! She even has a cat named Brooklyn with six toes on each of its front feet! She also studied about abroad in Madrid in 2009 and not soon after, in 2010, graduated a semester early with a degree in political economy. Alex Morgan is a very fascinating person right from the start.


Isabella is the youngest student to ever take my The Art of the Personal Essay (ed. Phillip Lopate) unit, and has just finished reading Virginia Woolf’s “Street Haunting”. Woolf is in need of a pencil one evening in London. It is a wintry evening as she walks across town, and “the champagne brightness of the air” and the “sociability of the streets are grateful.” Working within the stream of consciousness approach, Isabella wrote this amusing personal essay about her pencil. The setting is a regional scholastic competition in Connecticut, and the event happened the same week she read Woolf.

The classroom was cacophonous, the dozen people sharing conversation. I moved around and chatted with a few of my friends, talking about this and that, helping out with some notes or simply asking about how they did on their most recent event. People dropped into the room at times, and others left the room at other times. Most of my friends, though, seemed to be in the room for the majority of the time that I was there. My mechanical pencil, however, did not. The first time that I used my pencil that day was at one of my events, and when I got back I had set it down on the table. Mysteriously, when I decided to go fetch it a few minutes later – from my seat which was but a meter away – it had gone, simply vanished. I looked for it a bit, but had then reluctantly decided that it was a lost cause. It surfaced and showed itself to me around three hours later, when I had all but forgotten about it. By then, I had succumbed to boredom and decided to show my friends a comic ( in a video so that you could hear the characters speaking ), in which at the end, one of two main characters had yelled out the other of the two main character’s name in anger and exasperation – a bit loudly, in fact, so most of the others in the room heard it too and laughed. So I brought my pencil to my next event a while later, where it again decided to evade me. I soon discovered though, I had left it with my partner, and promptly lost it for a third time for around ten seconds, right after I found it. Alas, even that was not the last time that it evaded me. For the fourth time, it disappeared just as it had done the first time, and I had to ask for my friend’s assistance to track it down. And for the fifth time, it hid from me under the bleachers (where I had looked already) during the awards ceremony, but when I checked again, after the ceremony had ended, it was in plain sight. Let me tell you, from all of these happenings, I have gathered some very important information and data – that I should not put down my pencil, for whenever I did, that elusive yellow and black object hid itself away for a random period of time. Right now though, I am keeping track of it, and it is lying innocently on my desk.

Admissions prep for seniors

Hi seniors (and juniors),


I thought you may be interested in the student feedback to me, your teacher, as this successful student prepares to enter the Ivy-League world of University of Pennsylvania!  This is Sammy X from Hong Kong:

Dear Mr. Watt,

As high school draws to an end, I have begun to go around the school thanking all my teachers. You too were once my teacher.
One of the greatest “miracles” I’ve experienced as a student has been my path in English. To tell the truth, I struggled at English in middle school and was worried that it would become a problem in high school. Four years later, I can confidently say that I excelled in my high school English classes. Whatever it was, something between middle school and high school drastically changed the trajectory of my English education. My mom and I have always speculated what it may have been. Perhaps I just got smarter? Maybe it was because in high school [my] grades actually counted towards [my] GPA, towards the competitiveness of [my] college application. Maybe I was just more driven? After much reflection, I realise the impetus for this great change may have been your literary service. I did, after all, start in 8th grade [see his portfolio here], right before high school – right before this great change.

[I’m] not gonna lie, four years ago there were times when I wondered why I enrolled in your class. Sometimes, I spent late Friday nights catching up on the work you assigned. I frequently woke up early on Saturday mornings to squeeze in a few more chapters of Tolkien. At some points, it was difficult. As a young and naïve middle school boy, sometimes I wished I could spend my Saturday afternoons playing soccer. Four years later, I’m so glad I didn’t. You influenced me in a way that I did not have the capacity to appreciate as a young boy. Now I do.

The above can help younger students to get an idea of the stakes of early study with MWLS: the earlier you begin study, the better! Thanks Sammy!




Brian’s response to Charles East’s account of his relationship with Welty can be read here.

Notes on “Discovering Eudora Welty” by Charles East

“Discovering Eudora Welty” is a memoir written by Charles East on how his life was influenced by the writings of Eudora Welty and Welty herself. In the beginning, East talks about how Eudora Welty’s first short stories had influenced his life. Then, as the author moved on toward college, he became more and more immersed in Eudora Welty’s life and stories. For example, on page 426, the author writes about how a couple of Welty’s stories, “Lily Daw and the Three Ladies” and “A Piece of News”, took him by “surprise” and “astonished” him. The Author then goes on to provide information of how Welty’s current status affected his college life at LSU. Then, the memoir transitions into the author’s adult life after graduating from college. This is the part where the author actually gets to meet Eudora Welty for the first time. East met Eudora Welty on the Millsaps campus, in the early 1960s. The story goes on to summarize and analyze Eudora Welty’s “Goat Castle” story. In Part II of the reflection, the author goes on to talk about how Eudora Welty has influenced his life. During this period the author read many of Welty’s books that contained her short stories, and even “One time, One Place”, a series of photographs published in 1971. The author also attended many talks and lectures given by Eudora Welty herself. Finally, the author got a unique one-on-one chance to talk to Eudora Welty about her writings and real-life experiences. Charles East’s memoir about Eudora Welty really opened up my knowledge of Eudora Welty’s life outside of her writing and allowed me to glimpse the life of someone who is really passionate about writing stories, just for the pleasure of it.


Nathalie Ng is in process of writing her final assessment paper on Eudora Welty, during which time she reads and writes commentary on previous students’ Welty essays. This aids the process of finding a controlling idea or thesis that sparks the writer to produce a highly original essay of her own.



Commentary for Helen Liu’s Narrative Voices of Eudora Welty

In her essay, Helen Liu demonstrates some of the narrative voices used in writing: omniscient narrations, selective omniscient, dramatic monologue, multiple narrator, interior monologue, third-person limited and letter/diary entry form. These different voices “determine how much of the story and its characters the reader is exposed to,” and each have a unique way of expressing a story because of the different points of view. After analyzing some of Eudora Welty’s various stories, Liu has “reduced Welty’s stories to three levels of control in the information release of the narrator for the insights and emotions of the characters: tell all, tell most, or tell some.”

To start off, Liu gives an example of a selective omniscient story, “A Worn Path.” She made an interesting observation as to why Welty chose selective omniscient for this story, stating that “like a little bird perching on her shoulder, the reader gets a close view of her mien and personality.” Liu also notices that because Welty had a “keen sense of Phoenix Jackson’s weaknesses,” she chose this voice to better allow these “weaknesses” to shine through. If the story was told from Phoenix Jackson’s point of view, the readers might not have been able to see her weaknesses or physical characteristics, but instead would have been able to take a look into Phoenix’s mind and see what she was thinking. As Liu makes clear, what narrative voice to use is an important decision writers make – perhaps the most important.

Next, Liu examines the narrative voice used in “Livvie,” which is told in omniscient. Liu says that even though using the omniscient voice helps the piece in “a clear and entertaining way,” she felt that “the narrative voice felt rather unvaried and characterless since it did not reveal any of the character’s inner thoughts and emotions.” I agree with Liu on this, because as readers we could not sympathize with Livvie nor take a deeper look into Solomon’s past. Liu says that she thinks the story “would have been more interesting if it were told from a character’s point of view… because the readers can get a sense of the characters’ thoughts and feelings.” However, I think it the story would be more enticing if it was told from a diary entry form. This form, like first person narrative, gives the character a more realistic and human feel. I would like to know what Livvie was feeling when Ms. Baby Marie visited the house and asked to see Solomon sleeping, or how Livvie felt about Solomon’s death and about Cash.

Liu also looks at the narrative voice used in “The Whistle,” which is told in third person limited. This means that the narrator only knows the thoughts and feelings of one character, while the other characters are only described and presented externally. Liu explains that third person limited is a good choice “… since the main idea of the story was for the readers to feel the depressing mood and the pain and hardships that were faced in the story.” Using third person limited also reduces the cluttering of thoughts readers would have if the story focused on all of the characters’ thoughts and emotions.

The final piece that Liu selected was a story told in dramatic monologue, “Why I Live at the P.O.” The dramatic monologue in this story makes “readers feel as if they were involved in the story,” because readers can sense the tone in which the narrator speaks. Liu says that despite this voice creating a “perfect humorous piece,” readers will side with Sister in the story, because the story is told from a biased point of view. This makes readers unable to judge the right and the wrong in the story, because the narrator is probably telling the story to favor herself.

Liu concludes her essay by restating the three levels of control of information release: what she calls “tell all, tell most, and tell some.” Welty’s stories have covered all corners of the map of narrative voices, from omniscient to dramatic monologue. Liu says that Welty used different narrative voices in her stories “to her and the reader’s benefit.” No matter the perspective in which the stories are told, “all of her fiction pieces had a great flow and enlightened the readers with their exciting twists and turns. In the end, points of view are decided on one general question: to tell or not to tell?”

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