The Olivia Act, named after one of the children killed in Newtown, was started by an photographer who wishes to remain anonymous. Olivia’s family had family pictures taken a short time before she was killed. Those pictures are precious and now priceless to them. Upon hearing this, this photographer was moved to give away a 30 minute family photo shoot and has challenged other photographers to do the same. We go about our daily lives and sometimes we don’t take the time or have the resources to have family photos taken.

I will be taking nominations for a family who you think would appreciate this gift. This 45 minute session will take place after the New Year and will be completely free for the receiving family.  They will receive a CD of the digital portraits as a keepsake of their priceless memories.  I will be taking nominations from now until January 31st. Please email their name, contact information, and a brief summary of why you chose them to info@andreataro.com.  Please put  ”The Olivia Act”  in the subject line. The chosen family will be contacted via email. Please feel free to share this post with family and friends.  Thank you and I look forward to taking part in The Olivia Act.

A little over a year ago, I was sitting in a chair, getting my make-up done.  It was the big day and I was enjoying every minute of it because I was surrounded by my girlfriends and two amazing people, Nikki and SC.  Nikki did my hair for my wedding and when I initially asked her if she knew anyone for make-up, she highly recommended SC.  SC was very helpful with what to do – I had two trials and really fell in love with the purple shade the second time – and everyone enjoyed feeling glamorous for the day.  I think the two moms enjoyed it the most, especially since they both do not wear make-up, and loved having eyelashes!  The day of the wedding, SC came in with suitcase of beauty supplies, but what I noticed was this gigantic bruise on her.  I was concerned – did she fall and injure herself?  I am a complete klutz and run into tables and doors, so did she have a mishap, too?  SC told me that it was from her pole dancing class and I thought, wow, it must be intense!

Fast forward a year and now, SC is an instructor.  I heard that she is pretty awesome and I finally witnessed it myself during the portrait session.  In my eyes, she did insane moves!  Even as I sit here and write this, I still cannot figure it out.  SC has such power and strength that she can do a bow (that is what it is called in yoga) on the pole.  People struggle to do that on the floor and SC just did it.  I was amazed.  What was even more stunning was the trick where she held herself horizontally with just her legs.  It is a difficult move, yet SC held it with such grace as I snapped photos of her.  When she was done, she had a bruise from that move alone so you can only imagine how tough it was!

SC, I have to give you a big thank you for introducing me to the wonderful women who instruct and take classes.  You not only do beautiful make-up, but you left me in awe as you did trick after trick!  I cannot wait to watch you compete and cheer you on!

What is AP English?  To me, it is a year of intense study.  We go through novels, plays, short stories, a series of essays, and poetry…one after another.  There is no pause; there is no time to breath because May, the month of AP and IB testing, is just around the corner.  AP is reading, understanding, deciphering, analyzing, and writing, writing, writing.  I am a student’s worst enemy – always marking their papers with red, black, or blue ink, constantly pushing them to write more, analyze in more depth, and provide more commentary, and asking them for every bit of themself overall.  I am difficult and challenging because I always see the end goal – the 3, 4, or 5 on the AP English exam or the IB diploma.

I secretly love the pressure and the same desire that the student shares, which is perfection.  At the senior level, there is fun and humor, but at the same time, there is a bit of sarcasm and a sneer at the inevitable – AP classes are, to an extent, needed on a transcript and the IB program is a time-consuming endeavor.  Maybe that is why I enjoy seniors; I have that sarcasm or as one of my students told me, I rub that sarcasm off on them.  Regardless, it works and there is this perfect balance…although, like I said, I am the harshest critic, the worst enemy from August until April.

And when it is finally over and we can breath a sigh of relief, our time together ends.  Everything seemed so fast. Wasn’t it just yesterday all of you walked into B-6 and chose your seats? Remember when you had to present a poem and connect it to The Sound of Waves? These lines showed just how brillant a writer Shakespeare was: “Thou art a villain.  You are – a senator.”  The dialect in Their Eyes Were Watching God confused nearly everyone and most of you wanted to put the book down.  Beloved was even more challenging and some of you probably wanted to throw this one against the wall.  And then there were the “interesting” scenes in The House of the Spirits, which caught the attention of many.  How did all of this pass so fast?  Now all of you are walking out of B-6 and graduating.

I am so proud of the work my AP English classes produced this year.  The greatest compliment I received was from one of the administrators who told me that the students felt confident taking the AP exam…while they were munching on the cookies I packed for them.  Isn’t this what makes my job as a teacher absolutely wonderful?  I am going to miss my AP/IB-ers dearly.  It was another amazing year of AP – the third straight year of pure bliss.

Congratulations to my AP English classes of 2010!  You were a great bunch and you made my job as a teacher easy, fun, and of course, rewarding.

1st Period, AP English:

5th Period, AP English: