From Good to Great

In all of our classes, we tell our students to focus on one thing: the essay’s THEME. To get there, no matter what the prompt, they must answer two questions: 1) What happened? and 2) Why does it matter?

While a strong theme can make an essay good, great details give it that wow factor.

Here are some great sentences from our students – in their own words, the voices of high school seniors:

  • At home, we ate beans, rice and Ramen noodles for meals, and I was always hungry.
  • I felt my adrenaline pumping when I saw the puck in the net.
  • All of a sudden, a rock slipped underneath my right foot.
  • I got my first pair of skates before I could walk.
  • It was silent, but there was so much noise in my head.
  • My body trembled as I heard the words, “If you hear the siren, you have 15 seconds to save your life.”
  • When I was in tenth grade, I waged a campaign to save my district’s middle-school French program.
  • Every night before I go to sleep, I glance at the small Polaroid that sits on the white night stand next to my bed.
  • I felt like I swallowed a pit that wouldn’t digest.
  • One house had a wall made out of tarp and duct tape. To the left, I saw a sofa in the front yard accompanied by two sleeping dogs that were tied to the base of a nearby fire hydrant.
  • Because I am short, I managed to wiggle my way through the crowd to the front to see the list.
  • Watching the residents hustle around the small baby was like watching a Super Bowl team pull off a trick play in the last ten seconds of the game .
  • I woke up in my cousin’s room to the beautiful sound of a baseball hitting a wood bat.