The Ginn Academy, founded in 2007 by Ted Ginn, Sr., is the only all-male public high school in Ohio. Come in and see what goes on inside the hearts and minds of 655 E. 162nd Street each day. Let us tell you our stories. Photos and text not to be used without permission.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guest Bloggers, Zaid and Kevin

In what is turning out to be one of the better things to come out of an unfortunate situation, we have a departure from our usual format today: two guest bloggers. We're still getting the hang of this blog thing, having started just before summer break. As we explained in the beginning, I am a photographer and my name is Karin McKenna. I write and shoot the photos for the blog every other week. We've discussed ways that we might involve the students in the content, but, until just recently, hadn't yet come up with anything concrete.

Enter a broken ankle (mine) and a sharp decrease in mobility, and suddenly we have necessity breeding invention. Who will write the blog for the next month while I am out of commission? How about a few of the 250 young men that attend our fine school? Of course! Stars will be born!

First up, we'd like to introduce you to Zaid and Kevin, who put a bit of extra heart and soul into their recent assignments for music class. Mr. Mika, our wonderful new music teacher, asked his 10th graders to write about the role of music in various cultures. We'll share with you some excerpts from their papers:

Music plays a significant role in our lives as well as in other cultures. Music can be educational, inspirational, religious, and many other things as well. Music is a complex art that can bring forth new ideas, express beliefs, and send across a message.

For instance, during the 1960s, America was going through some tough times. We were having political disputes, fighting a war in Vietnam, and we couldn't agree with each other. We were experiencing a revolution. In that time period, musicians such as Bob Marley brought forth a change with their music. The music brought across ideas, made major statements, and offered good songs to listen to. His music had a major impact on people's lifestyles. People began to change; they expressed themselves more freely and became aware of the troubles we had. A culture known as hippies came forth. They wanted change and began to revolt. They played a major role in the revolution. This was mainly because of music. Music was such a large portion of their lifestyle they dedicated a holiday for it known as the Woodstock Festival. During that time, the role music played was to inspire. 


The role music plays in culture may differ in some areas, but overall music is broadly used as a tool or to represent some state of mind that puts the listener at ease or in the right place. Music is usually the listener's way of escaping the world and sometimes creating a better one for themselves. The role of music is important in may ways, but the main reason I enjoy it is because it is inspirational.

Music plays some type of a role in life. It can be used for plenty of different things. Music has different roles it plays in cultures, as well as musicians. Every culture has its own sound of music in how it's played, the type of beat, and the type of instruments. There are some types of music that people think have healing powers or help them relax. 

The military/armed forces have played an important role in music. In the military, music has been used for various reasons. It has been used for time, assemblies, battle calls, when to stop fighting during a war, and when to surrender. When the music was played the soldiers had to stop what they were doing and listen, so they could know what the call was. Especially when the drummers played the call for an assembly, all the soldiers had to report to the grounds in formation and were to be polished.


In the Caribbean island of Cuba, there are many styles of music. African slaves and European immigrants brought their own forms of music. Cuban music has influenced many countries over time. Their music has contributed to other varieties of music like jazz, salsa, the Argentinian tango, Spanish Nuevo flamenco, and other sorts of music. Instruments like the bongos, the congos, and the bata drums are important to their culture. One of Cuba's greatest folklorists, Fernando Ortiz, described their music as rising from the interplay between the African slaves and the European immigrants and what was going on during that time.

Thanks to both Zaid and Kevin for their contributions and thanks to all of you for your interest in The Ginn Academy. We'll be back in two weeks with D'Angelo, a poet, and Zacchaeus, who has written an enlightening essay for his English class.

Kind regards from all of us...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Inspiring Visit from Hall of Famer, Franco Harris

There aren't many Pittsburgh Steelers who would expect a warm welcome in Cleveland, Ohio, but Franco Harris seems to transcend the long-time rivalry between the two cities. The former Nittany Lion, NFL star, and Superbowl MVP visited The Ginn Academy recently for a tour and a heart-to-heart chat with our young men. Introduced to us by GA friend and supporter, Albert Ratner, Mr. Harris shared a few life lessons with a rapt audience; students and adults alike were truly thrilled to meet him.

One of nine children, Mr. Harris grew up in Ft. Dix, New Jersey. "I had good parents, but no books," he explained. "My father was from Mississippi and couldn't read or write very well, and my mother was from Italy. Luckily we went to a good school." Though he and his brothers spent much of their time playing sports in the neighborhood and at school, the entire family was shocked when his older brother, Mario, was offered a scholarship to play football in college. "We never heard the word 'college.' I had no clue you could do that," he recalled. Mr. Harris quickly got over his surprise, though, when he was recruited soon after his brother.

"Football was my least-loved sport," he explained. "I wanted to play basketball. Sometimes we look at things quickly because we think we know them, but you've gotta experience as much as possible and experiment with different things to find your true talents. You might find you're a literary genius even if you think you don't like to read. Don't limit yourself; take it all in. You might really be surprised by what you find."

Recalling his plans to graduate from Penn State and see the world with his hotel administration degree, he encouraged the boys to travel, try new foods, and to get out of their comfort zones. "Experience things outside of what you know. There's so much world out there, outside of your neighborhood!" he said.

Once in the NFL, Mr. Harris realized that preparation and perseverance would be some of his biggest assets. Even as he sat on the bench during his first games, he worked harder than ever off the field and kept at it. He was ready to prove himself when opportunities arose. He stressed to the boys to never give up on themselves. "Everyone faces challenges, but what's important is how you handle them and get through them," he said.

Mr. Harris had already exceeded the time allowed by his schedule, but once he got started he just kept going, and we were so thankful for the time he gave to us. He left the boys with some words of advice about their health and encouraged them to pay attention to what they eat and to exercise every day. His last bit of wisdom came from his former coach, Joe Paterno: "Always go to the ball. Go to where the action is and figure out if there's something you can do. What can you do to prepare for your future? It doesn't just happen; you have to work at it."

A huge thank you to Mr. Harris and Mr. Ratner for this memorable afternoon. What a great experience for everyone involved. Thank you to all of you, too, for your support of The Ginn Academy.