CAROLINA managing

In My Opinion: Life should not revolve around social media



One year ago, I made a social mistake that changed my life forever.

I thought I was invincible. I thought I could say whatever I wanted to without offending others, or people seeing and realizing it’s about them. I thought there were no consequences as to what I said, regardless of how other people felt. This overpowering feeling, this feeling of superiority and pride, was the reason I was brought down.

One year ago, I applied for an officer position for a club in which I had been active member — and a previous officer of — for all of high school. I did all the work I was asked to do and knew that I would be able to handle a second term. I was passionate and charismatic and I thought those characteristics alone would take me far.

I was wrong. I ended up not getting the position and I was incredibly upset. In a rage, I took to the Twitterverse and posted unnecessary and rude comments about the club and it’s representatives. Because of this, I was removed from my officer position, effective immediately. I also was not allowed to apply for the following year, but I could still be “an active member of the club”. It was a slap in the face and something I still regret one year later.

I never really got the opportunity to apologize, because I was in denial. I refused to admit my erroneous ways, and for the past year, I thought what I did was acceptable and okay. But something I learned is that mistakes are always there and while I may not have thought it was one originally, other people might. As much as I try to skew a story, the screenshots and facts still exist. I messed up.

I finally realized this after I decided to give up my beloved Twitter for Lent. Lent is a religious holiday season where some denominations of Christians either sacrifice something or actively participate in something new in return for intrinsic or extrinsic benefit. I felt like after the tumultuous year I had on social media, giving up my Twitter would be beneficial. I would not have to the urge to tweet about my entire life or bother anyone else.

One thing I learned from giving up Twitter is that it’s especially nice not having to see the world through a series of tweets or my cell phone camera. I learned that I don’t have to limit myself to 140 characters and I can express my feelings through a series of other outlets, something more personal and not worldwide, such as a private diary.

Another thing I have learned is that not everything needs to be published online. Sure, using social media is great for uploading appropriate pictures, sending songs to friends, or even getting to know other students attending the same university as me. But at the same time, social media is not a place for me to complain and cry when I have my family or friends for the same exact reason. Not everyone who follows you on Twitter is your friend.

This experience of not using social media has really helped me to mature as well. In the past month, I have been able to use my phone less and actually have conversations with people without feeling like I have nothing to talk about or wishing I could desperately be online instead of dealing with human interaction.

Life should not be lived through tweets on a timeline or revisiting past mistakes. Life is supposed to be composed of adventures and of stories that I can tell my children when they’re my age. I don’t want to a parent who can only tell my kids that my high school years weren’t as great as they could have been because I couldn’t take my eyes off my phone.

While I made a huge mistake last year, I am grateful it happened. Without it, I would not have experienced a social media “cleanse” and I know that if I didn’t get in trouble now, I would later. Now back on Twitter, I will be – and have been – more cautious with what I post and hopefully other people will learn from my situation.

My biggest fear is that my past situation will affect the outcome of my future. I want to leave high school in high school and not bring this into college with me; hopefully giving myself –and maybe even others – closure. While I matured and realized my error, I also realized whom it impacted most: myself. One year later, I finally feel at ease and now know that social media will definitely not play as big of a role in my life as it had before.

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From My Perspective: Walking in someone else’s new shoes


Every day when I wake up for school, I follow a fairly routine schedule; I shower, get dressed, brush my teeth and hair, eat breakfast and just before I walk out the door, I put my shoes on.  Luckily, I have never had to worry about what it would be like if I had no shoes to put on.

A few weeks ago, I volunteered at Jacob’s Shoes, a foundation that provides shoes to children who do not get to put on shoes every morning as mindlessly as I do.  I participated in this event with other high school students from my temple youth group.  This was the first time we had participated in this community project, so we did not really know what to expect.

As we entered the building, we were directed to a room that overflowed with dirty used shoes, waiting to be cleaned and donated.  I stepped in, motivated to do the best job I could, but also overwhelmed by the amount of work this job was going to require.  My eyes were drawn to the wall of pictures showing underprivileged children who were overjoyed as they held their “new” pair of shoes.

I have always heard stories of kids who are not nearly as privileged as many of the people living in Weston, but while I sat there cleaning these shoes and listening to the director tell us the stories of those kids in the pictures, it all became real.  I finally realized how difficult life could be when people don’t have certain things, such as shoes, which I imagined everyone had.

The director gave us the history of the foundation and why it was originally developed.  Jacob’s Shoes is a foundation developed as a remembrance of Jacob S. Zweig who was killed at the age of 17.  Jacob had a love for many things, including his family, friends and especially shoes.  Everybody who knew Jacob felt that his journey was meant to be continued, whether he was here or not.  So, Jacob’s Shoes was created as a way to provide children with something that meant so much to him.

The director showed us how to clean the shoes.  I did not expect to be cleaning the shoes so thoroughly as they were already used and were being put into the washing machine soon after.  However, we were told to first inspect the shoes for any damage or broken soles, and then we were to examine the bottom and take out any rocks or sticks that were stuck in the cracks.  Finally, the real cleaning began.  This entailed scrubbing the inside and the outside as well as the bottom so deliberately that they looked as new as they could.

I was able to clean around five pairs of shoes in the short hour that we were there, which doesn’t sound like a lot.  However, each pair required quite a bit of work and attention.

The director gave us of some examples of different types of kids who come in to get shoes.  She shared with us that some siblings are forced to switch off shoes every other day, meaning that each child can only go to school on the days that it is his/her turn to use the shoes.  This really encouraged and motivated us as we sat through this tedious process of cleaning used shoes.

What I first thought was a little gross, turned out to be not that bad. In fact, I ended up feeling very accomplished. It felt really good knowing that the pairs that I cleaned were going to provide people with shoes that would enable them to do the things that they love everyday.  It could allow them to do something as simple as waking up and going to school just like I do every day, without worrying about being laughed at or made fun of.

If nothing else, this experience has shown me how lucky I am to grow up in a fortunate family and own things as simple as shoes.  Until now, I had never realized to the full extent how little things, such as shoes, could affect a person’s life so deeply.  As I continue through my life, I know that I will definitely return to Jacob’s Shoes to participate in this work again.

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morgan comite

Opinion: Religion should not serve as bias

morgan comiteBY MORGAN COMITE


Marilyn Monroe, one of most celebrated actresses, was Jewish. The champion boxer, Mike Tyson, converted to Islam. Actor, Kevin Bacon, is an Atheist. But do we know these people for what religion they believe in? We recognize these people as who they are, not what they believe in.

According to Merriam-Webster, religion is the “belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power.” Because religion has always been a part of the world, it is the foundation of our very existence; however, this should not define a person. It does not guarantee success, good moral character, or level of intelligence. It is a belief, a preference, which is solely ones choice.

While the United States is supposed to be separate from the church, in the Pledge of Allegiance we recite “One Nation, Under God”.  If religion is not supposed to be used in court or education, why does a representation of our country’s patriotism have religious meaning? According to NY Daily News, a Texas high school student was suspended for refusing to recite the Pledge. Why should a student be punished and deprived from the right to education for protesting the Pledge even though our third President, Thomas Jefferson, said there should be “separation of church and state?” Some people may be very observant, where their religion and culture play tremendous parts in their lives.  Others consider themselves Atheist, in which they do not believe in religion at all. Students who feel this way may oppose to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance because it is considered offensive and disrespectful to their beliefs. This should not change a teacher’s impression of a student, nor of the student’s academic abilities.

In addition to this, on college applications and standardized tests there is boxes to check what religion students define themselves as, but their religious beliefs should not even be considered when applying to college. How does a belief impact what kind of work ethic a student has? In particular, Christian applicants can be viewed differently as a result of upsetting feelings toward the religion, which is totally unrelated to academics. Christian students from the Radiation Therapy Program at the Community College of Baltimore County were rejected, failed and expelled for attempting to spread their belief on campus. Under the First Amendment, Americans are given the right to freedom of speech and should not be affected academically by their religious belief.

Muslim Americans have been scrutinized stereotypically as terrorists because of attacks by Islamic terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. Although fear of terrorism is rational after events as tragic as the 9/11 attacks, it is unfair to group an entire religion as the enemy based on the actions of individual criminals. The Muslim religion is not the belief or violent attacks and not all Muslims are opposed to American ideology of democracy and capitalism.

Whether you attend church with your parents, or synagogue for the High Holiday seasonreligion plays a role in your everyday life. Although religion is something to believe in and practice, it should not serve as a bias toward others.

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CAROLINA managing

Opinion: College decision letters should be kept traditional



On Dec. 16, 2015, I sat in Starbucks while studying for my government midterm anxiously awaiting my decision from my dream school, Boston College. The school released on Twitter that they would be delivering acceptance letters through email and as I saw the open tab on my computer change from “Inbox – 0” to “Inbox – 1,” I knew my future was here.

For the last four years, seniors have been preparing for college decisions nationwide and even worldwide. The college application process — which really begins freshman year — is stressful. All the work that we have completed, all the grades we received, and all the finals and midterms we take come to a decision we receive through an email or through an online status check. These results can be generated in seconds.

In a technological era, we are infatuated with the idea of getting our admissions decisions as fast as possible, rather than waiting. Back when my parents were applying to colleges 30 years ago, they had to wait for the admissions letter to come in the mail. Now when I receive my letter, while beautiful, it is not as special because I already checked my decision online.

Because online decisions have been more common, I do not know, and will never know, what it will be like finding my decision through a letter. I always have seen scenes in movies and television where high school seniors will open a letter with anticipation finding out whether they have been accepted or rejected from their dream school. While opening an email may not be as special as ripping open a letter from the mailbox, I’m sure my heart sank just as much as seniors’ hearts sank a couple years ago.

It is inevitable that college decisions will be released online now and in the next few years, and many schools have made this change. Boston College, for example, began emailing decisions this year. Up until last year, the school decided to stay traditional and send all admissions decisions through the mail. Vanderbilt University sent some regular decisions straight through the mail rather than through an online portal. State schools such as the University of Florida and Florida State University sent admissions decisions through an online portal saying “Congratulations! You have been accepted” with the rest of the information coming through the letter in weeks to come.

Online college decisions may not be as exciting, but a decision is still so. I have still been accepted to every single school I applied to so far. Each time, I jumped and screamed and cried just like any other high school senior would have regardless of where he or she saw the decision.

No matter how a decision is released, whether online, through email, or through the post office, an admission decision is something to be proud of — regardless of the result. Never will I forget the moment I opened up my PDF’d letter from Boston College saying, “I am delighted to offer you admission to Boston College,” and while I’m not going there, that feeling is one I will always remember.

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From my Perspective: Final high school basketball game causes nostalgia



The high school basketball playoffs eventually would come around; I knew that.  But, I never knew what it would feel like to compete in the playoffs as a high school senior. It was special. Every game felt like it was the most important basketball game I had ever played in.  As each game approached, I knew that realistically it could be my last time playing in a competitive basketball game, but I never knew what that would really feel like until the buzzer went off at Coral Springs High School and the scoreboard read 75-72 in favor of the Colts. It was a terrible feeling, but oh what a journey it was to get to this point.

We packed up our bags for our first playoff game against Western High school, and won for the third straight time. Moving into the district finals, we faced Piper in its gym and came away with another victory.  We earned a home game in the regional quarterfinals against an extremely offensively talented Taravella basketball team.

We game planned and strategized how to capitalize off of Taravella’s 1-3-1 zone.  Eventually, running out through those locker room doors, on my new home court, possibly for the last time, was a feeling I’ve never felt before.  The Lightning Lunatics were there in full force. We dominated and the bench was electric.

We celebrated our 34-point victory, but just briefly because we were trying to make Cypress Bay history. We were trying to be the first basketball team to win a Regional Semi-Final game on the road and advance to the regional finals with a possible chance to make the State Final Four.
A couple days later, the day came. This time we had even more momentum. We were at our best, more confident than ever. We believed in each other and in our coaching staff. We thought we had what it took to continue this playoff run.
Once again we were going in as the underdog, projected to lose by 10 points according to Jesse Nadelman, a high school sports analyst from RMF (Respect My Face) Magazine. We used that as motivation.  We showed heart, teamwork, passion and everything a fan, coach, or lover of the game would want to see.  We got to play in front of a full gym and over 100 of our fans who traveled via the fan bus.  From start to finish, it was emotional.  I was more excited than I ever had been to step on a basketball court, for this game. I had never played in a game with stakes like these in front of a full gym.

And then we tipped off.  Coral Springs vs. Cypress Bay.  It was a fight, way more than just a normal game, a game with a 20-point swing.  Springs led by 10 at one point in the second quarter, but we cut that deficit to five going into halftime.  We came out of halftime hungry, with a will to win, and a desire to do the unprecedented at our school.  We fought, which seemed to be a theme throughout this game and our special playoff run.  We fought for our school, for our fans, for our coaches, and most importantly, for each other.  We went on a crazy run, stunning their players, coaches and fans.  We had a 10 point lead with two minutes left in the third quarter, but this game was far from over. Springs pushed back, as most thought they would, but once again this was a fight.  We went back and forth.  With missed opportunities, we unfortunately lost the game, but we outplayed Springs.  We did what nobody though we could do: we competed with them and were very close to coming out victorious.

So when that final buzzer sounded, and the scoreboard read 75-72, we were heartbroken because we knew that we left everything out on that court, and we thought we did enough to win the game, but things can’t always fall our way.  After we shook hands we turned to our fans and we clapped for them and they clapped back at us.  This was one of the best moments I had as a basketball player.  That showcased true respect and love for one another and a sense of pride for our school.  We went back to the locker room and cried.  We knew we gave everything we had; we hugged and we embraced each other.  We listened to the praise from every single one of our coaches.  And we got on the bus for the last time and drove back to our home.  It was the last time, but we did it the right way.  We went out on a high.  Although we didn’t get the result we wanted, we gave ourselves the best chance we could’ve asked for.  I am proud to say I was a part of this team and this organization.

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From my Perspective: Europe trip creates new friendships, experiences


Ever since I was little, I have always wanted to go to Europe, and this past summer I finally got to do that. I went to Italy, Greece, Turkey, France and Spain.

Before I went on my two-week Mediterranean cruise, I stayed in Italy for a week and after the cruise I spent three days in Spain. I loved Italy and Spain the most out of all five countries that I went to.

In Italy I went to Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Florence, Milan, Venice, Capri, Vatican City and Pisa.

While I was in Italy I got to see some really famous historical sites such as the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain in Rome. I also visited the Realto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square in Venice, the leaning tower of Pisa and the Duomo in Florence. The first thing I saw in Europe was the Colosseum. I couldn’t believe I was actually seeing it in person, and it was even more amazing going inside and learning about the history of it.

The most beautiful place I visited was definitely the Amalfi Coast in Italy. All of the buildings were different colors, the beaches had clean blue water and the roads go all around the mountain.

The Duomo in Florence is 465 steps and although it was tiring, it was a lot of fun. Towards the top I had to stop multiple times because there were too many people. The higher you go up the smaller the pathways get and it made me feel claustrophobic. Also, right before you get to the outdoor portion of the top, there is only one staircase for people to go up and come down. I was scared of falling when climbing the Duomo because the steps were very steep. When I got to the top I was able to see the whole city and it was truly breathtaking.

While I was in Milan I went to the World’s Fair. It was amazing to see all of the different cultures and taste different types of food from around the world. I hope I will be able to go to another Expo one day. Each country had a different exhibit explaining what the culture was like and some places had food from the country too.

Capri, Italy was one of my favorite places. To go inside the Blue Grotto, I had to get off of the boat and go onto a canoe and once I got into the cave I was able to jump off of the canoe and into the water. My clothes were wet for the rest of the day, but it was worth jumping into the bright blue water.

While I was in Greece, I visited Athens and Mykonos. Athens was not the prettiest city, but it was really cool to see the Acropolis and learn about the different things people used to do on a daily basis.

In Turkey, I got to visit some really cool places such as the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. It was my least favorite place I visited because there were a lot of sketchy people there and my tour guide kept telling everyone to be careful, because people were going to rip us off and lie to us about the quality of everything.

In France I didn’t get to do much because we were in a small town that didn’t have a lot going on, but it was really nice walking around a town called Tou Loun. There was a really nice market filled with fruits, vegetables, shoes, clothing and more. It was a relaxing day and I had a lot of fun.

I loved Barcelona because it reminded me of New York City. Everything was walking distance and they made everything bigger than it needed to be, such as the drinks. The people there were so friendly and I felt like I was back home.

Although touring around Europe was a lot of fun, the best part was meeting so many new people from around the world. I spent everyday of the two-week cruise with them and we did so many things together such as late night swims, dance parties and eating dinner together.

Going to Europe was the best experience I’ve ever had and I wish I could go back and relive it all over again.

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Editorial: Millennials prove to lack patience

A situation alarmingly familiar to any Millennial: a Wi-Fi connection lost, the next episode of “Orange is the New Black” buffering, an angry teenager smashing a laptop keyboard searching for a purpose (and wireless Internet).

Presenting “The Microwave Generation.” Instant gratification is the newest fad; impatience is all the rage. Children and young adults yearn for immediacy at the touch of a button.abby editorial

Dating is no longer a laborious process, as flirting is accessible with a swift slide into someone’s messages, a stark contrast against past generations’ suitors performing calculated moves for long periods of time. Rising musical artists and DJs crank out mediocre, sonically saturated tunes faster than they can say “new single,” designed to please the masses. Everything is just a click away, and according to America’s youth, that’s the way it should be.

Millennials are often the butt of a generational joke. But they should not be underestimated. Contrary to popular belief, they have not tainted society with their presence. In fact, the 21st century has been fruitful with accomplishments that would not exist without Millennials, including same-sex marriage. Today’s youth is intelligent and both culturally and politically aware, fighting political apathy with a log onto Twitter to live-tweet a presidential debate. They are on the front lines for change, utilizing the technology that has been placed in their hands to fight injustice in different communities of minorities. Race and police brutality became a worldwide issue with the help of a hashtag (#BlackLivesMatter) and the Syrian refugee crisis was brought to 4.6 million followers on the Instagram account @HumansofNY, where creator Brandon Stanton went to Syria to document and ultimately help fund multiple refugees with a crowd-funding link to donate. It is inspiring to see a new group of young adults grab life by its horns with a zest for social progress, all while clutching an iPhone in hand.

With that said, this emerging behavior is breeding society into restless human beings, but Millennials don’t know any better. They are born and bred into a generation of rapid receipt of information and entertainment; it’s hard not to blame them. This thought process is created with a more connected environment. Children hold and navigate iPhones before they can read the alphabet, immediately weaving new relationships between them and the efficiency of an industrialized, technological world. These connections are the only form of communication that today’s adolescents have been exposed to. Old habits die hard, especially when they’re clad in shiny colors and are preloaded with new episodes of “House of Cards.”

The pleasure of the process is one worth basking in. If today’s youth demands everything immediately, there is no fight. No accomplishment to wear proudly after a series of losses. A reward is more satiating if earned after a cycle of successful and unsuccessful attempts, no matter if that reward is a quickly loading Netflix episode or a new relationship blossoming on the promise of patience.

Convenience is not futile; it should definitely be clutched and appreciated. But in a world where restlessness is advancing, it is important to remember that patience is a virtue. It teaches empathy, generates a positive attitude, and makes gratification all the more satisfying. So, the next time a journey presents itself as an opportunity: don’t take the shortcuts. In the end, it’ll be just as rewarding as finishing a season of “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix.

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In My Opinion: Senioritis is inevitable after years of stress



I’m not much of a runner, but I’ve been competing in the longest marathon of my life: high school. As I reach the last semester of my senior year, I see the finish line glistening less than a mile ahead of me, I can hear the cheers of those waiting to see me finish and yet even with such a short distance left, I know it’s not over. I know that these last few yards still matter, but why do I have to run to get there? After three and a half years of working as hard as I possibly could, why is it so bad to walk the rest of the way?

A couple months ago, I was accepted into my dream school, Northwestern University, early decision. Ever since my acceptance, countless friends and family members have asked when I’m going to stop studying for tests and completing my homework. I thought I would never fall victim to the senioritis plague, but every time I crack open a textbook to study for one of the many assessments I have every week, I can’t feel the same motivation that I used to in school. It’s not that I don’t care about my grades anymore, but after three and a half years of endless studying and minimal hours of sleep, there’s not much fuel left in my tank to give my last semester of high school my all.

Now I’m not saying that every senior should get senioritis and I am certainly not encouraging it. However, I think that senioritis is a normal and healthy reaction to years of pressure to build the perfect college resume. Balancing loads of AP classes with extracurricular activities certainly can put a strain on any student.

As more AP and AICE classes are added to the Bay’s curriculum, the stress that students face has built up, and the need for time to relax becomes even more prevalent. A 2009 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that nearly half of all teens, about 45 percent, said they were stressed by school pressures. In fact, high school teens have been reported to feel more stressed out than adults. According to “The Huffington Post” while adults rate their stress at a 5.1 on a 10-point scale, teens rate their stress levels at 5.8, which far exceeds the healthy stress level of 3.9.

The amount of stress put on students makes catching senioritis inevitable. It is also reported that 31 percent of teens report feeling overwhelmed as a result of stress, 30 percent say that they feel sad or depressed as a result of stress, and 36 percent report feeling tired or fatigued because of stress.

Of course it is important for seniors to not give up completely. They should still work to pass all the of their classes so that they can maintain their college acceptances and graduate. Seniors shouldn’t just give up on their classes completely and stop doing homework; however, they should spend less time stressing about school and more time enjoying their last few months of high school before they have to leave for college. These last few months should be a time for self-reflection for seniors. It should be a time to avoid the stress of high school while still putting in some effort to get passing grades in their classes.

As I reach the finish line and finish my last few months of high school, I’ve realized that what is most important is being proud of the work that I’ve done. I know not to let senioritis make all those years go to waste; yet I know it’s okay if I don’t put in all of my effort when finishing the rest of high school. It’s been a hard race to run, but I know that even if I walk the rest of the way, I’ll have my head held high and look back on a race I was proud to run.

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FOB web- Katherine Gibson

Flash of Brilliance: Should course selection cards be sent out early?

YESFOB web- Katherine Gibson

Receiving course selection cards before the end of the year makes the entire process of creating a schedule for the next year much more efficient. By now, everyone has had the chance to experience the classes they are in. With the knowledge of how this year has gone for them, students should already know the classes they will want to take next year. If not, they always have the opportunity to make appointments with and talk to one of the many helpful guidance counselors that make sure a student’s schedule is what is best for them. Course selection is definitely something that should be taken seriously and tons of thought should go into it. However, it simply does not take a day. Deciding the classes that the students are taking next year, selecting them and getting the signatures they need takes a lot of consideration and focus, but not too much time. Selecting courses for next year won’t distract students from their other third quarter homework and responsibilities. In addition, next year an A/B schedule will be put in place. As a result, course selection cards and schedules for students will take more time and thought from the school workers creating them. The schedule will be a new format that the school is not yet accustomed to, making them more time consuming to create. Therefore, the more time they have this year to make them, the less extra time it will take in the summer and at the beginning of next year. This will be helpful for everyone because switching in and out of classes can also be figured out before the school year starts or much earlier in the year. The early completion of course selection cards is not at all a hassle for students and will provide more time for the school to create schedules that go with the new platform of classes.

-Alexa Poleo



It is unnecessary for course selection cards to be passed out to students so far in advance of the upcoming school year. During the third quarter, when course selection cards are given out, students’ main focus is on their current course load; planning next year’s schedule is not the top priority. Students also have not taken a majority of important exams such as FSAs, EOCs, and AP/AICE tests which aid teachers and students in correct placement for future classes. Also, teachers may not have had enough time to properly assess the capabilities of each student or know enough about the student to direct him or her to the proper level course. At the beginning of the school year, many students get switched out of classes because they are not well prepared or could not handle the rigor of the course they selected. This stressful situation for students, guidance counselors and teachers would easily be avoided if course cards were given out later in the year. Students would be more prepared to make decisions and would not feel the need to switch out of all their hard classes. It is essential for students to be given more time in the school year to make this important decision and to select the best classes for pursuing their interests and abilities.

-Katherine Gibson

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From my Perspective: Community service trip allows for new friendships


It took an unforgettable 12-day trip to Costa Rica to change my views on poverty completely. Through the acts of painting houses and interacting with the children, it was astonishing to see that even in a devastated community, happiness and smiles were still plastered on the faces of the people who live there.

After an early wake up call and eating breakfast we started heading to a daycare center to interact with the kids. Boarding a 10-minute bus ride and a 25-minute walk through the community, we made it to the center. When I arrived I saw many stray dogs and children running to their homes or playing games, acting unconcerned, despite their poor living conditions. The opportunity to work with the children in Costa Rica and learn about San Jose was a part of a 360 Westcoast Connection trip that was planned through the company. When arriving, the other participants and I gathered with the children in a circle and introduced us by saying our name and favorite color before playing with them. After introductions were over, the other helpers and I were split into two groups that were either painting or interacting with the kids.

In Costa Rica, it is very important for adults to find work to support their family. Typically, kids will stay at a daycare center, which lacks the help needed to keep them all entertained. As volunteers, we were asked to intermingle and work with the children through different games that helped to “break the ice.” We also created stations consisting of activities where kids could draw, color and paint. After hours of playtime, the children cooked a full meal for us as a token of appreciation toward our time with them. The gesture was heartwarming, moving and altogether delicious.

The next day, we went back to the outdoor day care and I was with the teen volunteers who were painting houses under the blazing sun. We walked a little further following the homes already decorated with different designs and reached the bland, paint-less homes. I was assigned to paint a house and decided to incorporate bright pink paint and little blue polka dots, bringing life to the dreary, worn down home. We painted for hours until we had to stop before it started raining, giving the paint time to dry.

Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to the children, but before we left we took a picture to remember the fun and laughter. We filed into a bus traveling for a couple hours until we reached a playground to play with different kids in another city. We each were paired up with one child and were told to play with them. The child that I grew to admire was an 8-year-old boy who was shy in the beginning, but in the end formed a connection with me by playing a game of soccer. After, we changed into our bathing suits and went down the slide, played leapfrog, tag and attacked each other in the water. The kids were laughing and having a blast enjoying each other’s company.

Everyone was having fun when I noticed my new friend was hungry. He decided to buy us cookies from his own money. I remember following him to the counter to ask the man how much money the cookies cost and then buying me some. I didn’t ask for a cookie but I felt really honored that he would spend his money to get something for me, even though I never requested it. I thanked him for his generosity and after throwing away the trash we went back into the water.

My buddy was really affectionate and instead of sitting across from me, he sat next to me to eat his lunch. When the time came to say goodbye, we hugged and said farewell before he went into his bus and left. This trip taught me that instead of asking for new clothes or throwing away my unfinished food, I should be thankful that I have the resources, shelter and money to sustain a normal life.

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