For my CYO Project I made a board game on photoshop that goes by the name of Pollution solution. This board game is an informational one about pollution in the Ganga river, and I hope that people learn a lot through it. I struggled at first with manipulating photoshop and using its tools, but with the help of my peers it became a lot easier. When I printed my board game I immediately realized that it would not work, as it was to structurally flimsy and weak. I laminated the paper so it was stronger. I am really proud of how my project turned out, as it is not only very informal and educational but quite fun as well.

The Circle: Not a Company, but a Cult by Deven Sawkar

A Different view of Dave Eggers book “The Circle” brought into focus by Deven Sawkar

CC BY Max Pixel

When someone brings up the topic of brainwashing the images appear of being made to watch videos while your eyelids are propped up with matches, or listening to tapes with a gun at your head. In reality the techniques only create fear and resentment. The more dangerous form of brainwashing is that that a cult uses. As Mae digs deeper into the spider web of the Circle, we see that it is not actually a company, but a cult, and that Eggers is actually writing about the harsh nature of cults and their recruitment process. One way we know this, is through the “Wise Men”. Every Cult has a charismatic father figure or 3 to look up to, the circle is no different. In this book the three founders of the company Ty, Bailey, and Stenton, are revered throughout the company (for obvious reasons) and are viewed as above all intellectually, and are referred to as the “Wise Men”. Late into the book, the main character of the book, Mae, is introduced to Bailey. Bailey has a long and elaborate speech which is delicate yet visionary, and Mae is bound by it. Mae, as said in the book, Felt he was, at the moment, her best friend. Something like a father, too. She loved her own parents too, but they were not strong like this, not wise like Bailey. This text shows the love and attention directed towards the Wise Men, the actions which are normal towards a leader or savior in a cult.

Another thing that connects cults and The Circle is how you see other people how you previously were close to, but are non-believers.

Cults make you distrust and dislike friends and family, and this steadily happens to Mae throughout the book. Since the beginning Mae’s ex boyfriend Mercer has been the person who is realizing what is happening amongst the Circle; that it is taking over the world. This leads Mae to begin to dislike him slightly, but as the book continues we see this dislike and distrust to grow and grow; the more Mercer preaches about the Circle’s misdoings, the angrier Mae gets. This situation can be compared to if you told your friend who was in a cult about the bad things that cult was doing, at first they would tolerate it. But then, as the cult roped them in more and more, they would begin to grow bored, and angry with you if you tell them these stories.

Yet another thing that bridges The Circle and cults, is the fear of losing her as a cult member. Early in the book, after joining the Circle, Mae is called to talk to her boss. Mae tries to recall what she has done wrong, and can think of nothing. A dissatisfied boss tells her that she hasn’t been spending enough time on Circle campus. Mae is confused. She has been working her hours at the right time, what’s wrong? But what he confirms is that she hasn’t been socializing on campus, or attending any of its events. This is a move used by cults that makes the person feel disappointed or ashamed in themselves for leaving the cult so much, while their mind subconsciously makes the go off campus less and less.

Perhaps one of the most import things of all, cults make you see the outside world as tilted and imperfect. Amongst the perfection that is the Circle, Mae sees it this way as well. Our first instance of this is on page 41, where a co worker demonstrates invisible fingerprinting ink. The book goes on: This is the sort of thing Mae had come for. Everything was done better here. Even the fingerprint technology was advanced. There is another example later on: Increasingly, she found it difficult to be off campus. There were homeless people, and there were machines that didn’t work, and there were seats that hadn’t been cleaned. Outside The Circle, everything was tilted; imperfect. There was no reason to leave The Circle, so why should she? This is a common thing in cults. Once you have been mentally taken fully into a cult, you see the outside world as wrong, imperfect, and just generally bad. This encourages you to never set foot outside the (for lack of a better term) cult headquarters, and always stay within the cult. The Circle is just a symbol created by Eggers for what is really out there. But Cults really are out there, so keep your eyes opened, and your mind prepared.


What was hard: at first I kept on failing to understand how to use each tool in the photoshop browser, but after practice it became a lot easier. What was easy: Finding things to mess with on Photoshop! That was a lot of fun. What I learned: how to operate photoshop like a pro. What I would change: maybe my choice of images

Rope Puzzle

Introducing, the latest of our CYO projects: The Rope Puzzle!

We first used saws to draw off pieces of wood, put holes in those pieces of wood, then threaded string with beads and cones through. It was very fun to make, as using the drills was really entertaining! I was REALLY challenged to use the string and thread it through the cones and beads, it was so hard! During this project I learned how to use power tools (Saw and Drill). If I was to build another of these, I would attempt a different type of string or bead, to see if it affects the outcome.

Wearable Tech

I found the wearable technology project challenging, but fun. During this project I learned how to code and sew with conductive thread. However, despite my struggles I was still unable to thread a needle by the the end of the unit. I found the coding relatively easy once I got the hang of it. However, I don’t think that I probably could do some more interesting coding, or make something a bit cooler of a design with my light so on my pencil case if we had a bit more time. I overcame my fears when we initially started coding, because that was something that definitely frightened me a bit, it just took more practice. We first tried with the SOS challenge, and I took what I learned from that with morsecode, and made my pencil case say my name.

Pencil case

Today during CYO we finished the first part of the Light Pencil case, the pencil case.

Overall the pencil case was pretty challenging, testing a skill that we had learned less than a week earlier. How ever, the sowing machine was such a godsend and it helped speed up the process a lot. I had a lot of fun learning how to sow, no matter how challenging it may have been. Sowing was also such a great skill to learn, and I am sure that it will be very helpful later on in life.

3-d Keychains

In class early last week we had the task of using tinkercad 3-d printing software to create keychains with our names that were convex, so that we could hydro dip them. Hydro dipping is the task of spraying whatever colors you want in a bucket of water then dipping your keychain in the water (watch you fingers!) and the result was a multicolored keychain!

CYO jumping frog Orgami


What did you think of it?

It was kinda interesting at first, but then it was really fun, and you had a real sense of accomplishment afterwords

Were you successful?


What was challenging?

Folding the frog! Argh!

What was easy?

Nothing really, it took time and patience

How could you improve it?

I would probably try to find a lighter battery that didn’t weigh it down as much, or I would find self powered LED lights

Deven’s historical fiction vignette


This is outrageous! One minute I’m the moneymaker in our family, the one who supports us, the one who makes the dough, but I come into the factory and the boss wants the wife and kids in here? Outrageous! I’ve lived a life, I’ve seen things, I can afford to waste away in a sweatbox, but what about them? Poor Rich, only 9 but he’s doing so well in school! He always comes home, so proud, so so proud, to show us his latest new word he learned at school. His hands should be writing essays, not making toys!
Then Eleanor. Oh sweet, sweet, Eleanor. I can’t imagine coming home from the factory, and not getting a fresh home cooked meal, or a new shirt. She may have lived a life as I have, but a lady’s place is at the house, not at work! Making pies, fixing shirts, not making toys, and fixing mishaps! She wants to work. She wants to prove to the world, that she’s a part too. Her and her friends (who all have gotten jobs) gather every night to talk about “the future of women” I forbid her to go to those meetings, to no avail. She said I was just like them. All of them. The generators of this system of sexism and stereotypicality. She said she was going to break out. She was going to make her life count.
As I went to collect the eggs from the chicken coup something happened.

One chicken was feeding a baby chick some of the feed.

This of course didn’t make sense. It had hidden the egg from me. It was tired of wasting its talents in an unappreciative coop. I had to do something. It was to powerful an example for the other chickens.

Aboard the Alanine
The Alanine express runs day and night throughout all of Virginia. It ships coal from place to place dropping off some of its load at each stop. Although, sometimes it doesn’t arrive with all of it. “Hey kid what’re you doing up here?” The railway drivers may be nice, but the security guards sure as hell aren’t. “If you’re ever gonna come up here again, it’s gonna cost you!” Extortion and bullying were their strong suits.

Mom doesn’t like me doing this kind of job, but what choice do I have? Mom is like the Alanine, a fuel-less and steaming beast, that works day and night, always ready to dish out smack, our spankings for our troubles.
She yells at the girls when they complain about hunger, but I can see the stress in her eyes and the sadness, at the fact that she serves the rich food, but can’t serve us.
I was woken by Abigail, the youngest one. “Pee-tah there’s a man at the door who wants coal” I was frustrated that she couldn’t do it herself, but a customer’s a customer. We debated over the price for a while, but this weirdo paid in francs, a newbie I guess. My friend wants me to come with him and work at his bosses factory, but I want to use my talents to the fullest, I don’t want to be stuck in a box all day, wasting my time in an uncomfortable space of darkness.
Sitting on the park bench, chatting with Carlos had become tradition “You really should join me man, the coal train is a risky business” but I didn’t want to.

“You should join ME, the coal train gives better pay!” It is a better pay, but there is also the emotional and sleep tax. I yawned. As easy as a workshop is, I will remain a free man.

More Money

This is NOT worth it. 2 dollars a WEEK? Come ON! That’s barely enough to buy today’s food! With Ma unemployed and Jerry a long way from money, I’ve got no other choice. Mr C says we’re lucky that such young people like us are able to get jobs in his factory, and everyone who asks for a raise is FIRED. Life at my station is pretty boring. I wish Jerry was here. He’s the funny guy in the family. The big jokester. I can’t space out for long. Back to the drawing board. Well, sewing board. Why is jerry so lucky? He gets to go to school while I sit in my squalor. Mom says it’s because he’s “gifted” dad says it’s because that’s all the budget holds. Whatever.
Is there anything I can do to raise my wage? With all that’s going on at home, extra money would be great. Dad came back from the bar looking stricken. Not again yelled ma. She continued to yell at him again and again. You’ve lost it all again!

Stupid dad. More overtime to work off his debts. Great. Then something occurred to me.I left the workshop during break and ran to school. I had to get jerry. Come I said. Do I need my books? He asked. Sure I replied. Extra money I thought. We walked into the workshop. Is this another? Mr C asked. His cold hard voice cut into my skin. Yep, this is him sir, plus, he’s gonna sell his books! jerry turned to me with the sad look in his eyes. He had realized what was happening. Well then, all take these, you take him to a station and get to work! Said Mr C. I took him, I was carving he was breaking rocks. I showed him how to put it at a certain angle to break. His sad look remained the entire time.

You’re mad at me right? Well, pretend each of these rocks is my head,

then it’ll get a lot easier.

But it never did.