From My Perspective: Finding a life-long ‘best buddy’



Renae and I first met in a drama class when I was in the seventh grade. I remember she always wore these pretty pink outfits with a matching hair-tie to pull back her black, curly hair.

I don’t remember our first conversation, but I knew we would become friends. Before long, we became close and now we are sisters.

The way she sees the world is how I see it. We both see animals and we go crazy. Laughing is a must, and keeping close friends is important. After she asked me in eighth grade if I could join Best Buddies, the organization that pairs special needs students with friendly partners, I jumped on the idea. It was a way to become even closer, and there is always something to look forward to, like the Petting Zoo and movie nights.

Though Renae is autistic, she has one of the biggest hearts. She puts people before herself and her priority is to make sure everyone is okay.

When I was stressing over school grades, she became very worried that school was affecting me. She likes to dance, I know she does; it just takes a tickle or two and she’ll start jamming.

Her mother, Brenda Wadler, has got to be one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. She told me once that she wants to give Renae the most normal life as possible. Renae’s upcoming “Frozen” themed birthday party in May will be my fourth year attending. Renae deserves great parties, and her parents succeed in giving her those.

Renae has made me a better person: the way she sees how people feel, how she smiles at all times, and how she lights everything up with her happiness. She has made me a happier and positive person throughout my days.

Once, I lost my iPhone and, without my knowing, Renae did not give up looking for it and asked several administrators about it. An administrator told me he had found it. I wondered who asked him if he had it, and sure enough, it was Renae with a big smile on her face. The way she cares about others is mesmerizing.

Recently, we’ve been talking about our favorite dog, the Great Pyrenees (which looks like a small polar bear). All of our common interests show how much we are together.

I am looking forward to the Best Buddies Walk later this month where I can walk with my partner in crime, my second half, and my long lost sister. Renae is an amazing friend whom I hope to keep forever.

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The Lightning Zap: Pi Day



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Opinion: Embracing the ‘pro’ in procrastination



We’ve all been there.  Calculus homework due tomorrow, English project due Friday, physics assignment due Tuesday, and a dozen quizzes and test scattered sporadically throughout the next few weeks – so the logical thing to do at this point would be to sit down, get it all done, and call it a day.

But guess what I’m doing. Nothing. Should I be doing my schoolwork? Probably.  Am I going to? Definitely, but later.

To dawdle, to lag, to defer, and to loiter all translate to mean basically the same thing: to procrastinate.  In literal terms, when one procrastinates, he/she puts something off “until tomorrow.” The word procrastinate is even derived from the Latin pro, meaning “forward,” and crastinus, meaning “belonging to tomorrow.”

My grandmother was a procrastinator, my mother was a procrastinator, and now I guess one could say I am a pro-procrastinator. The trait is in my genes and is a part of who I am. Although the procrastination lifestyle is not exactly encouraged or accepted by all, it is the way that I function the best.

Procrastination has a negative connotation, so to be accused of being a procrastinator is usually taken badly. But whenever I am faced with this accusation, I embrace it. The “pros” in procrastination tend to be ignored since not all can harness their procrastinating powers usefully, but the actual concept of it should be reevaluated and accepted.

In order to successfully procrastinate, one must be aware of sudden and looming deadlines. For me, in those precious last moments before I’m supposed to be done with whatever needs to get done is my most crucial time.  My stressful race to completion combines with frantic desperation to produce something that I would not have been able to make otherwise. Therefore, determination and procrastination generates innovation.

Procrastination also becomes useful when dealing with unpredictable circumstances. Events can get canceled and deadlines can become eradicated. That outdoor event that you’ve been decorating for the whole week – gets rained out.  That math test you studied with a tutor for weeks – gets postponed. That party you bought the perfect new outfit for – gets canceled. These situations can and do happen, but are avoidable by procrastinating until a reasonable time to start preparations, arrangements and plans.

Procrastinating has also saved my physical and mental health. People tend to put a tremendous amount of stress on themselves when they plan so far in advance for what has the potential to change.  Ironically, prioritizing more hours working rather than hours necessary for sleep is unhealthy and can actually make someone less efficient, which has the complete opposite result from the intention. While my classmates are already sprouting gray hairs from stress, I experience relatively much less stress since all my stress runs its course within a short time period right before something is due.

Evolving into the pro-procrastinator that I am now didn’t just happen overnight. It took time, experience, and a few last-minute successes to reaffirm my procrastinating confidence. I am fully aware of my responsibilities and deadlines, so whatever needs to get done will always get done and on time, and I guarantee it will be spectacular.

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Opinion: Identity can sometimes be a surprise

Opinion: Identity can sometimes be a surprise



It happens every time. Whenever I mention where I’m from, someone around me is shocked. It shouldn’t bother me, but the fact that I am so often judged by my appearance is disappointing. I have strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes, a German last name, and an American accent. I used to love saying where I was born whenever I had the chance, but now that I’m older I realize how unfortunate it is that my looks determine others’ expectations.

I was born in Bogota, Colombia. Although I moved to this country when I was a year and a half old, Spanish was my first language and I speak it fluently. My parents were both born and raised in Colombia, and lived there until they decided it was an unsafe place to raise a baby. My family moved to the United States in order to pursue opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise have.

Moving to the U.S. gave my parents the freedom to practice their religion comfortably, and to not live in fear. I am Jewish, and this is mainly how I identify myself. As a Jew, I’ve learned that my ancestors suffered persecution and discrimination, and my parents have instilled in me the idea that education is the one thing that cannot be taken away. Even as a young child, I strived to do my best in school, and I earned the label of gifted. This led to an even greater struggle with my identity. I became a Jewish, Colombian gifted student.ilanaimo

I have had mostly the same people in my classes since middle school, and at one point or another my peers have found out that I am Hispanic. Although some are surprised but try not to act it, I often receive very dramatic reactions from those who have just met me.

Usually after people first find out, I am asked to speak in Spanish. This question makes me uncomfortable since I’ve lost my Spanish accent due to constantly speaking with my American friends in English. My Colombian family makes fun of my accent, so in a way, I’ve become ashamed of my language.

My traditions are more Jewish than they are Colombian, making it difficult for me to relate to the 2,165 students at school who are from South American countries.

As a Colombian Jew, I often find it difficult to fit in, and I feel as though I don’t belong in many social circles. This is extremely difficult because of the preconceptions people have and the stereotypes they form in their heads when I talk about where I was born and what my religious affiliation is. This has led me to feel uncomfortable when filling out questionnaires, especially on college applications.

Being judged by my appearance has caused me to fear being judged by my representation on paper. Although colleges won’t know what I look like when they read my application, they should develop a sense of who I am from the information I provide and the voice in my essays.

Identity is integral to one’s sense of self, and because of the struggle I have faced in deciding who I am and what I should portray myself as, I feel as though my sense of self is fragmented.

Being Colombian is like my secret weapon, but it’s one I’m not always comfortable carrying. I love being able to understand those around me who speak Spanish, and communicating with people in two languages is a skill in which I take pride. But being Colombian and Jewish has also made me self-conscious.

When I was choosing which college to apply to, one of the biggest factors I considered was whether or not there was a large Jewish population. Being involved in the Jewish community has allowed me to feel a sense of belonging, and this involvement with my religion is something I will take with me when I am no longer living at home. However, I know that in the future when I have my own family, I will want my children to speak Spanish, because being bilingual is so beneficial.

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Opinion: Television inspires creativity, not laziness



The misconception that watching television “rots your brain” has always struck me with a sense of disbelief. I think back to the Friday nights of my childhood when my parents would let 6-year-old me stay up late to catch an episode of “Full House,” and I see myself now eagerly staying up past midnight every Saturday to catch an episode of “Saturday Night Live.”


Growing to appreciate television over the years has not sentenced me to a lifetime of lethargy on the couch, as some may expect it to, but instead has impacted my own creativity and taught me how to handle life situations.

The writers that manage to get people addicted to television shows have a purpose, and they are genius enough to know how to lure people in. Through carefully constructed plotlines and messages sewn into a TV storyline, there is a tremendous amount of talent put into the production of a television show that should inspire younger generations to think in such innovative ways.

To learn through watching TV, you don’t necessarily need to be on the History Channel or watching an educational documentary. I have picked up information that will stick with me for a lifetime simply by watching sitcoms. On an old episode of “Friends” I learned what could ease the pain if I ever get stung by a jellyfish. By watching the comedy series “Modern Family,” I gained a sense for how diverse a family can be. Although it may seem silly and useless at the time, this information builds up into a collective archive in my brain where it is available for reference at any moment. In daily life, I find myself making allusions to episodes of TV shows all the time without even realizing it.

More than anything, TV has contributed to my sense of humor. I can attribute my understanding of sarcasm to the times in which I observed comical situations on television. For a person to interact with others, sarcasm, quickness, and wit are perfect qualities to make use of in social situations.

As a writer, I can honestly say that most of my creativity has stemmed from things I’ve seen on television that have subliminally etched themselves into my brain. These ideas inspire me to see situations from more than one perspective. If anything, watching television has not brainwashed me, but stimulated my creativity.

Not all that can be found on TV is worthy of praise, of course. However, once the junk is sorted out of the mix, the power of the pure imagination that is put into television shows can shine. Television is not just a series of pixelated images on a screen. What we watch on this screen truly broadens our awareness, exposes us to life outside of our own personal bubble, and teaches us about social skills, life values, and communication.

Looking back, I am extremely thankful to my parents that they never sent me up to my room years ago when I used to stay up late watching “Full House.” I have no shame in admitting to all of the essential morals about relationships and family values that I picked up from the Tanners and their fictional experiences in San Francisco. Television has taught me how to be a person and handle my own nonfictional life, a lesson that can’t be found in any textbook ever written.

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Opinion: Halloween spirit fades as children grow older



Dressed in my Disney princess ball gown and a sparkly silver crown, I skip down a row of houses with a wide smile and a trick-or-treating bag in hand, anxiously receiving Halloween candy from my neighbors.

Halloween was always an exciting time of year for me as a child because I had the opportunity to express my imaginative desires and dress up as any character I wanted. But now, that Halloween spirit has faded. As the years pass, I find myself more and more conflicted as to whether or not I am too old to continue these past rituals.

As this spooky holiday passed and I reminisced about my previous Halloween experiences, I noticed how my sister and her friends, who are in middle school, already perceive themselves as “too grown up” to engage in these Halloween festivities. This shocking rationalization made me cringe at how her generation is maturing too quickly.merimo

I know my sister and her friends will not maintain their childhood innocence forever, but they are maturing socially at a much more rapid pace than I did back in middle school. Whether it is more provocative styles of dress or extravagant parties, it is a frustrating struggle to watch my sister grow up so fast.

During my elementary and middle school years, dressing up with friends and venturing out into the neighborhood for sweet treats was definitely the most exciting part about October. By the time high school came around, everyone was “too cool” for what appeared to be childish activities, so those traditions have changed from trading candies to throwing parties.

Now it seems like students dedicate any occasion to throwing parties. Whether it is for Halloween or just a random weekend, my generation and my sister’s generation find every excuse to party, even when there is nothing to celebrate.

I wish my sister would cherish these times and enjoy celebrating the holiday dressing up with her friends. I will always look back on my Halloween experiences as a child and it is sad to think that she is missing out on these opportunities.



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Opinion: Paying for college applications is a gamble



As soon as I submitted my application to the seventh college I’m applying to, I was prompted to provide my credit card information. The same thing occurred when I wanted to send my ACT scores to universities, and it happened yet again at the post office when I asked to send my transcripts through priority mail.

It’s ridiculous that money must be given to institutions at every step of the college applications process, especially because the chances of getting accepted are unknown. It doesn’t make sense that people would need to pay so much money to apply to colleges that might not accept them.ilanaimo

Paying money for college applications is similar to gambling. Students are taking a chance and testing their luck by paying for applications to schools they may not even end up attending.

Although I am very fortunate and my family can afford the expenses of applying, it is unfair that schools would require that much from applicants. Even though fees can be waived, it is unnecessary to have such a large fee when many schools can use the same system to access application materials.

For example, I applied to Syracuse and Northwestern through the Common Application, and both schools required separate payments of $75. Then I had to order my SAT and ACT scores, which totaled $46.50, and then I mailed my transcripts from the post office for a total of $10. All of this comes to a ridiculous sum. Of course it was my choice to send my transcripts through priority mail and to send my two standardized test scores, but nevertheless the process of applying to just two universities would have been expensive.

I am not even done applying to all of the schools I would like, but I might have to limit myself due to the price. It would be more reasonable for universities to require payments after a decision is made, thus giving applicants a chance to think about whether or not they will be attending and would like to invest money.

Having to pay application fees is like paying for entrance into a store. Shoppers aren’t sure whether or not they will buy anything in the store, or if it is worth their time, but they are required to provide funds before they can look around. In the real world, employees don’t have to pay to send resumes to employers who might not even hire them, so why is it fair for colleges to set a high price for applicants? This is not logical or realistic.

Although I am taking a gamble and spending a lot of money in the process, if I am accepted to all of the schools I applied to it will be worth it.




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Flash of Brilliance: Should seniors have special privileges?

Should seniors have special privileges?USEfobcara

YES. Seniors should definitely get special privileges. Being upperclassmen, and the oldest students at the Bay, seniors have more maturity and therefore should get special treatment such as possessing the ability to leave campus during lunch. Seniors have also been in high school for almost four years, giving them the opportunity to complete all of their credits required to graduate. So after seniors have completed their core classes, they should be able to leave campus early, ending their day instead of taking useless classes. Although it might appear unfair to underclassmen, they will get their chances senior year. – Cara Friedman


NO. Seniors having special benefits will only lead to unruly behavior. It will encourage seniors to join in on senior skip day by not coming to school like everyone should. If juniors and underclassmen do not have the privileges that seniors do, it will make them want to rebel against these dissimilar rights. If living in the United States is based on equal rights for everyone, then senior privileges contradict this idea. This applies to our school in the way that anything one grade receives or does, the others have to as well. Not to mention, allowing the 12th graders to attain more privileges will only give the seniors a sense of control over all of the other students.  It will lead to seniors participating in irrational acts towards lower grades such as pranks or taking advantage of their privileges by using them as an excuse for coming in tardy and even missing school. – Stefania Markowicz




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Flash of Brilliance: Should students’ grades be affected by their attendance?

Should students’ grades be affected by their attendance?


YES. Students’ grades should be affected by their attendance. Many students attend school every day, other than emergencies, and give their all into working their hardest, while other students come to school when they desire to, and do the basics just to get their work done. These two groups of students shouldn’t be able to have the same grades. Numerous students dedicate lots of time to school but when they go to take a test, they freeze up, and due to this, fail. Grades being based on attendance will help the students who don’t have the best test-taking skills, but do show up to school every day ready to learn and get better grades. Going to school isn’t a choice; it’s mandatory. If students decide not to show up they should definitely be penalized. Grades being affected by attendance will prepare students for the future. When these students one day gain a job they won’t be able to just go to work when it is convenient for them. Learning how to dedicate yourself to something from the beginning will only help in the long run. - Alex Zeidel


NO. Students should not be graded based on their attendance. With the 180 days in school it’s nearly impossible to be able to make it every single day. Students should not be penalized for the days they’re not able to make it. Students have valid reasons as to why they miss school and they might be personal reasons. The fact that they couldn’t make it one or two days shouldn’t affect their academic score. Stress rates in teens go up due to the amount of work put on their backs at school. Attending school every single day can make a student go crazy, to a point where he or she may start slacking. It’s more efficient to miss a day to recover from staying up doing work than to attend school running on no sleep and having not completed homework. The makeup work can be done and there is no reason for it to not be completed. With all work up to date, grading based on attendance is not necessary. - Ignacia Araya

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Flash of Brilliance: Should there be a required GPA for student athletes to participate in high school sports?

Should there be a required GPA for student athletes to participate in high school sports?flash of brilliance

YES. There should be a required GPA for high school athletes.  Having a required GPA helps prepare student athletes for their future, and also teaches them discipline in school.  Only a minimum percentage of high school athletes play professionally in his or her sports; thus, many will not be able to support themselves or their family without a solid education.  Without a required GPA, students will lack discipline and will not learn what is necessary for his or her future.  Injury is also a massive issue in sports.  If one is the best player in his or her sport and gets a serious injury, this could ruin the future he or she has set.  Also, having a required GPA gives athletes the incentive to do well in school if they want to play.  Clearly, keeping a required GPA for all student athletes to play sports is the right decision. – Alex Solomon


NO.  I don’t think there should be a required GPA because sports and academics are two separate aspects of life. One student can be the best athlete, but also have the worst study habits and grades. Not having a required GPA would give the athlete more time to focus on his or her athletics. One can be athletically gifted, the same way one can be academically gifted; therefore, the athlete should have the choice of which route he or she would like to take. This means that the athlete should be able to pursue Division 1 athletics the same way a student can pursue top academic schools. I believe an athlete should try his or her best, but shouldn’t be forced to get certain grades in order to play on certain teams. Maintaining a required GPA can also hurt the team. Players who can’t maintain the GPA requirement would be considered ineligible to play. Not having a required GPA would allow athletes to relax and focus on whichever path they chose to take.     - Jake Levy

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