Cozy-up by the warm fire with a hot cup of coffee or cocoa, and enjoy this edition on writing reports. In this newsletter, you will explore the life of composer Johann Sebastian Bach, travel to Scotland, and learn about bobcats and the great white shark. Also, keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for the release of our 2016 Print Magazine, which is currently at the printer. Our “Let Freedom Ring” edition showcases work from 45 student-authors and 6 illustrators. You won’t want to miss this edition of the Magnum Opus Magazine!
Congratulations to our student-authors who were published in
Ella Hay Wells
Upcoming Magnum Opus Magazine Writers’ Deadlines
Unit 7 - February 18, 2016
Unit 8 - March 21, 2016
Unit 9 - April 18, 2016
Fiction - May 23, 2016
Journalism - June 27, 2016
Thank you to everyone who submitted his or her work to our Unit 6 newsletter! We encourage you to keep writing and submit again!
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Inspirational Legacy by Grace Sprayberry, age 14
"The aim and the final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” Bach believed these words faithfully. As Bach's love for music grew, so did his relationship with God. Bach used his music to spread the Word of God wherever he visited. In Japan, Bach's music is admired as the “fifth gospel.” Influenced by faith and the great composers before him, Bach created a great mix of music that was truly different and special. Unfortunately, most of Bach's fame arose after his death. Bach, who died in the 1700s, is still very much alive today through his music. In our time, Bach's music is still respected, sold, and enjoyed throughout the world because he has an incredibly large fan base. Although Bach has been deceased for hundreds of years, his life and music has left a great legacy in all of our hearts.
Johann Sebastian Bach was born into a family that boasted several generations of musicians. In the Bach family, music ran deep, and Bach was passionate about music from the time he was very young. When Bach was a small boy, he became an orphan. His mother died in 1694 when he was just nine years old. Bach’s father died in 1695. Because he was so young at the time his parents died, Bach went to live with his older brother. To cope with the emotional pain he felt from losing his parents, he turned to music. His brother, who was also a musician, helped develop his passion. Interestingly, in addition to playing musical instruments, Bach also took pleasure in singing in his school’s choir. Bach married two times over the course of his life and fathered twenty children. Depending on extra income to support his large family, Bach held many jobs that some might consider to be unpleasant, such as collecting kitchen garbage, and cleaning. As awful as those days were, he always found a way back to the industry he loved – music. In the music industry Bach held many jobs; one job primarily consisted of testing and fixing organs. Another job consisted of creating and supporting the building of musical schools since Bach was a strong supporter of the musical arts. Throughout Bach’s life he made a strong musical impact on society and at home. In fact, after his death, four of his twenty children followed in the music industry.
We do not know the exact age Bach started composing music; history tells us this is because in the early years he mostly composed in secret. Historians have estimated that he must have started writing somewhere around the ages of 12 to 14. When Bach first began writing, many musicians remarked that his pieces were too extravagant and tasteless. The first compositions he wrote were too difficult for most musicians to play, although Bach did not see this problem. Presumably, the first pieces of music that he composed were arranged in the cantata style. Cantatas, which are generally associated with the church, are similar to hymns but require both instruments and a chorus. Bach’s quality of work varied. In the church, at the age of 17, Bach got his first composing job, and his writing grew more magnificent with experience. Becoming significantly better in his composing with time and effort, Bach eventually blossomed into one of the best composers in history.
While at the peak of his career, Bach was not a very well-received musician, but after his death he became surprisingly well respected. Inspiring many musicians and composers such as Mozart and Beethoven, Bach’s majestic writing style became popular. Interestingly, as time went on, Bach’s life as a writer and teacher slowing gained much due respect, primarily throughout Germany. In the baroque music style, Bach is said to be one of the best composers to date. Baroque flourished because other composers adopted Bach’s grand style of writing. Bach is still played and enjoyed all over the world. A statue of Bach, located in Leipzig Germany, was erected in 1908 in his honor. The statue was built while Bach’s music was growing in popularity across Europe. Bach, who is still very much respected today, continues to grow in popularity with new generations of music lovers.
Although Bach’s early life was troublesome and consumed with both grief and heartache, as he grew older, he found his calling in life through music. Bach was very religious; he used his music to worship and cherish God. Beautifully, Bach proclaimed his love for Christ through music, which he played in multiple churches throughout Europe and beyond. In addition to Bach’s many personal achievements, he also greatly inspired many other composers of his time. Although it took time, eventually many people came to love Bach. Bach was someone to admire. He was adored not only because of his superb music, but because he was an incredible man behind the music. Most significantly, Bach was a good and righteous man who truly cared for others. Respected by many, Bach’s legacy continues to inspire generations to come.
An Unprecedented Predator by Matthew MacConney, age 13
On a sunny day on a beach, people are enjoying the weather. Swimming, playing, boating, and surfing in the water, people are having fun. The theme song begins. As the shark approaches, the song starts out slowly and becomes faster. Suddenly, the shark viciously attacks. People scream, run, and yell. This starts the movie Jaws, which was directed by Steven Spielberg. The movie was based on the book written by Peter Benchley. Although there are many species of sharks, now the great white is considered the most feared. Because scientists still want to learn more about this fascinating predator, the great white’s appearance, habitat, and behavior are all popular areas for study.
The great white shark’s appearance is extraordinarily amazing. Notably, a great white shark may grow to be 21 feet long and weigh as much as 5,000 pounds. Inside its body, it has warm blood and warm muscles, which enables it to swim faster than most other sharks. Since a great white has large jaws, it has a strong, painful bite. This huge shark is stout. It has two dorsal fins. Because a great white has long gill slits on the sides of its head and large black eyes, the great white seems fierce and intimidating. Although a great white’s upper body may vary from a dark brown color to charcoal gray to an ocean blue color, its lower body is either white or cream. Compared to other sea creatures, the appearance of a great white is fascinating.
This shark’s habitat is vast. Although the great white lives in worldwide temperate seas, occasionally it travels to cool waters. While it prefers coastal areas, sometimes it swims offshore as deep as 775 feet. Scavenging for food, it happily lives in coral reefs and around miniature islands, which have abundant food. Because South Africa, Australia, and the coastal United States have temperate waters, these countries are some of the places where a great white dwells. In a search for food, a great white journeys north to feed on immense seal colonies. Occasionally, it swims as far north as Alaska or Canada. A great white’s habitat is greatly varied.
While a great white shark’s behavior is considered to be quite dangerous, there are several vital clues about how a great white attacks. Following a successful strike, seals might viciously lash out their tail at the shark’s eyes. This could be painful. In order to prevent this, a shark does something unusual, gross, and weird-looking. Simply, the shark rolls its eyes back. Since its eyes are covered, its eyes have great protection. Because to a shark’s perspective friendly humans appear to be seals while swimming or surfing, shark attacks are likely to happen. A great white, which is also known as a white pointer, is the largest flesh-eating shark that lives in coastal marine waters.
Appearance, habitat, and behavior are essential to a great white’s survival. Most important of these, behavior, involves details about how great white sharks attack. Usually, victims are attacked when swimming, surfing, or boating. Surfing into deeper water, people venture far from shore. Boaters can be attacked, most of all, because they use fish as bait, which is one of a great white’s favorite foods. Since the shark’s habitat is defined as coastal marine waters, vacationers at the beach could be attacked by one. This causes fear. In addition to appearance and habitat, scientists examine behavior. Ultimately, the great white shark is a remarkable predator.
Davis, Skip. "The Great White Shark's Main Habitat." EHow. Demand Media, Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
McCosker, John. "White Shark." 2011 World Book. Print.
McIntyre, John. Sharks: Savage Predators of the Oceans. Bath, UK: Parragon Pub., 2006. Print. Sharks. Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest Association, 1998. Print.
A Versatile Survivor by Micah MacConney, age 11
Patrolling from dawn to dusk, it stalks its prey. This solitary cousin of the lynx, which is puny, lives in North America. With several extremely miniscule dens, this mammal is an astounding survivalist. This animal is the bobcat. Because humans have limited its range, the bobcat is a struggling animal. The bobcat is a superior predator. Its characteristics enable it to pounce on prey. Since the bobcat has many drab habitats, it is a filthy animal. Additionally, there are many threats to the bobcat. Being an excellent survivor, the bobcat is able to outwit, outlast, and outplay other creatures in its surroundings.
Being North America’s most common wildcat, the bobcat has many interesting characteristics. The bobcat is a wildcat named after its short tail, which appears to be a knob or bob. While closely related to the Canadian lynx, the bobcat is a rather small cat, with adults weighing 15 to 30 pounds and measuring 24 to 45 inches long. A bobcat also has a marvelous sense of hearing and has a spotted fur coat. With a beige or brown coat and black spots, the bobcat is easy to recognize. Although a bobcat’s favorite meal is rabbits, it also devours squirrels, mice, and birds. It even eats small deer. Astonishingly, a bobcat is able to eat up to three pounds at once. The bobcat has many extraordinary characteristics.
The bobcat, which has a widespread habitat, is found from southern Canada to Mexico. From deserts and forests to mountains and swamps, the bobcat survives almost everywhere possible. When it is not hunting, the bobcat momentarily slumbers in dim caves, hollow logs, and shrubs. A bobcat’s territory ranges from 1.5 to 25 square miles. Marking its territory, the bobcat claims its land. It can scratch a tree. Additionally, a bobcat will mark its territory with its waste. Because it frequently moves within its territory, a bobcat has several dens. Although the main den can be a boulder, tree, or a log, a bobcat’s auxiliary dens are less visited and can be underbrush or tree stumps. Habitats are an important part of a bobcat’s survival.
The bobcat has a small amount of threats, which are mountain lions, vicious coyotes, and humans. Threatened by hunters, the bobcat is apprehended for its fur because it is not protected in most states. Although hunting and trade are regulated, the bobcat still falls prey to humans. Because poachers hunt bobcats, there are only about 725,000 to 1,020,000 bobcats left in the wild today. Generally in countries like Mexico, the bobcat is known as a sheep hunter. These farmers usually kill bobcats. Since humans are taking away its habitat, the bobcat has less food. For this reason, some bobcats may starve. Restricting the hunting of the bobcat means that the bobcat will be able to roam freely without the burden of hunters.
The bobcat is stupendous. The bobcat, which has many physical characteristics, also eats many animals. Camouflage is its most important characteristic. Because a bobcat needs food to survive, it will utilize camouflage to stealthily sneak up on its prey. With an enormous habitat, the bobcat is able to spread many of its dens. Although large animals are a threat to bobcats, humans are an even greater danger. Undoubtedly, the bobcat will continue to struggle without help. If humans decide to support the bobcat, its chances of surviving will increase significantly.
"Basic Facts About Bobcats." Defenders of Wildlife. N.p., 11 Apr. 2012. Web. 5 Nov. 2015. <http://www.defenders.org/bobcat/bobcats>.
Frank, Elizabeth. "Bobcat." The World Book Encyclopedia 2011. Chicago: World Book, 2011. N. pag. Print.
Squire, Ann. Bobcats. New York: Children's, 2005. Print.
Walker, Sarah. Big Cats. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2014. Print.
Scotland the Beautiful by Ella Hay Wells, age 14
“They may take our lives, but they can’t take our freedom” Braveheart. Those words were bravely announced by William Wallace, who is the main character in Braveheart. On May 24th, 1995, Braveheart was first released. Bringing justice, William fought in the first war for Scotland’s freedom, since that was dear to his heart. Unsurprisingly, Braveheart received amazing reviews, raised tourism, and achieved many awards. Scotland’s food is very eclectic. Like Braveheart, religion is very important and practiced by 88 percent of Scotlanders. While in Scotland, visitors will surely find many museums with exhibits of Braveheart because the people of Scotland really appreciate the brilliance of this movie.
Scotlanders partake in a very diverse, unusual, yet delicious assortment of foods. Scotland’s cuisine is mainly prepared home-cooked style and is considered well rounded since it includes food from all groups of the food pyramid. Because Scotlanders’ favorite type of food is anything fried, this country has a high rate of heart disease. Haggis, seafood, and whiskey are also among the top rated favorites. Strangely, “haggis,” which is Scotland’s national food because it has a storied tradition, is created by combining different organs of sheep and stuffing it, along with vegetables, into a sheep’s stomach. In Scotland people tend to have multiple meals throughout the day, including breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, high tea, and supper. Devouring a traditional Scottish breakfast, a visitor would indulge in oatmeal, bacon, eggs, sausage, and black pudding. Scotland has very unusual food.
Scotland’s main religion is Christianity. Christian holidays are generally celebrated since Catholicism and Presbyterianism are the major denominations. Joining the Roman Catholic Church, a Scotlander would become one of the 841,000 members. Surprisingly, the Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian, has 1,718,000 members. When combined, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish followers add up to 35,000 people. In Scotland, there are many different beliefs because the people of this country practice various cultures.
Scotland has many outstanding geographic features, which makes it a great vacation destination. While in Scotland, there are many things to fill a visitor’s time including fishing, biking, hiking, and golf. In the northern part of Scotland, the Highlands hold the famous lake called Loch Ness. This is where “Nessie” lives. Nessie is a mysterious monster. There are over 800 islands that are a part of Scotland; because there are so many, they named them in groups called the Orkney Islands, the Shetland Islands, and the Hebrides Islands. Surprisingly, fifteen million people visit and stay overnight in Scotland annually. Visiting Scotland, tourists explore many wonderful features since this country offers such varying landscapes.
Scotland is overall a naturally beautiful country since a large majority of the country is undeveloped. Scotland’s food is delectable. Continuously spreading, religion is growing in Scotland because most people hold deeply rooted beliefs. Visiting Scotland, people enjoy the scenery, which makes them want to return. Since people live by their heritage, history and culture are very important to the people of Scotland. Because Scotland is so beautiful, tourism is a huge contribution to the economy.
Insight Guides. Insight Guides Scotland. N.p.: APA Publications, 2011. Print.
"Religion and Belief in Scotland Today." Faith and Belief Scotland. N.p., n.d. Web.
Yomtov, Nelson. Scotland. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.