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Essays rebels against paperless future

Forest Grove High School junior wins digital age contest


by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Joelle Bruckert-Frisk, a Forest Grove High School student, reads her essay while Monique Ramberg and Stephanie Fachiol listen. How has the digital revolution changed the way we communicate? It's a huge question, but at last week's community conversation on "Citizens and Community in the Digital Age," a group of students and panelists offered their views.

The forum, co-hosted by Pacific University's Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation, featured a lively panel discussion between Willamette Week reporter Nigel Jaquiss, Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown and Pacific University education professor Mark Bailey.

Jaquiss noted that the Internet has put amazing sources of information at our fingertips, but also vast amounts of misinformation. Brown explained how the ability to put public documents online has improved government accountability and Bailey briefed the crowd on the latest thinking about the impact of computers on education.

In additon, the forum featured the winners of an essay contest. Monique Ramberg won the Elementary Division, Stephanie Fachiol won the Middle School Division, while Joelle Bruckert-Frisk won the Senior Division (grades 10-12) with an essay (below) imagining she is an archaeologist in the distant future.

"I scanned my eyes over the deteriorating heaps that previously existed as a library. The occasional breeze caused the unprotected rubble to tremble in response. The support beams bowed their backs in defeat. This would not be an easy demolition.

The city requested the lot be excavated and then cleared for the building of another shopping center. The majority of the citizens were pleased to have the eyesore removed, but the few who could recall the library prospering in its golden years protested. I again scanned the piles of rubble, pondering where to begin. The whispering breeze suddenly amplified to a howl. It was an explosion of dust and rubble, paper and words. A screech escaped from the wind, but then it ceased. The dirt and decay that cloaked the remains was taken away with the torrent. All that remained were the books.

Books, those ancient artifacts now foreign to us. Over the years, books fell from popularity. New technologies emerged daily, each time further eclipsing the written word. I grasped the nearest book and stretched its aching spine. It was a book of poems. The worn pages tumbled down a well-trodden path, revealing their secrets. The determined yet tired words stood stoically on the page. I looked up and down their graceful curves, the poem read: "Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, and learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, do not go gentle into that good night" (Dylan Thomas).

Suddenly, the wind thrust its icy searching fingers toward me, tearing the book from my hold. Paper thrashed in the air, beaten by the wind. No. Not just paper, words. Words, shaped and molded. Words that were not just words. Words that could be mine. Words that were mine. Words I would not destroy. The library was full of these words, and I would not destroy them. I, like the words, was determined. I would not demolish this library. I would resurrect this library.

These piles and heaps that existed in the past as a library would remain a library. I strode, with purpose, off of the building foundation. I would be the voice for the words confined in this crumbling building. I would shout and scream and stand my ground until these words echoed from every wall."




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