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From the Editor - Welcome Letter Archives

Teen EditorsTeen Editor Letters

Below you'll find the From the Editor archive of welcome letters that have appeared on the High School stage of life home page.  Take some time to read the tips, stories, advice and free information from our teen editorial team. 

If you find a piece that really spoke to you, let us know and we'll pass it along to our editor.

Previously from our StageofLife.com High School Editors...

Teen Editor's Welcome

Sibling Love

By Allison Schwartz, High School Editor

I’m the older sister of two, a sister and a brother. They’ve always been a big influence on my life as we are together all of the time. I can’t remember a time alone since I was 2 and neither of them had been born yet (of course, I don’t really remember this…). However, this summer, my siblings each went on summer programs and I experienced life as an only child.

Let me just say that only children of the world, I feel for you. The house was so quiet! And whenever I was bored, I couldn’t just wander into one of my sibling’s rooms and see what they were up to.

The aphorism that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” certainly rings true. While alone, I realized just how much I interact with my siblings, and how much I enjoy this time. Sure, we bicker, and my sister never seems to remember to return my clothes, however their absence really made me realize the quality of the bond that my siblings and I share.

On the other hand, the solitude I received had its merits. I was able to read without distraction, spend more individual time with my parents, and have some time to collect myself. 

That being said, I'm extremely thankful for both of my siblings. Whatever altercations we may have, the good times surely outweigh them. 

Don't forget to enter Stage of Life's monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome

A Card Unfinished

By Jessica Li, High School Editor

Summer is here before I knew it. And the reality is I wasn’t ready. Despite the tedious, dry days of early wake-ups, gruesome lectures, and endless homework I can’t ever finish at home, I was overwhelmed by a sense of “displacement” when the final bell rung on June 14th. Yes, there were goals unmet and dreams unfulfilled, promises broken and struggles unpleasant, but something greater sagged down upon my shoulders, barring me from sharing the air of excitement afloat the vacating campus. Perhaps I will never come to understand the sentiment—a mix of nostalgia, purging of troublesome memories, and regrets for slipped opportunities—perhaps it’s merely a natural response to farewells.

But it wasn’t. As I absentmindedly surfed around my classroom notes during the first few nonchalant days, I was suddenly reminded of a couple retiring teachers. Then the realization struck – how little we appreciate them, our teachers who must stand staunchly before the podium everyday while grappling with the turbulence of life. Yes, I am guilty of ingratitude as well. In the withering autumn days last year, when loads upon loads of brain-tormenting calculus practice depressed my spirits, it was my sophomore history teacher who instilled in me a confidence to understand those intricate symbols. Just three months ago, when I was a plagued by the start of an uphill legal struggle—which is unfortunately still ongoing—it was my English teacher who assured me that everything was alright. And it wasn’t a cliché pad-on-the-shoulder, seeing me skipping lunches and dozing off due to fatigue, she brought in a basketful of fruits that pleased both my stomach and heart.

I could not remember to write a ‘thank-you’ card for them during the night before the last school day, although I had known about their departures for weeks.

Only dusted grammar posters and a small cake from the County lamented their leave.

Because of our youth, it’s perhaps difficult for us to perceive the consequences of failing to be grateful, for we reassure ourselves that there’s still a chance. But once the remorse kicks in, we’d be haunted for a long time. Last Christmas, when I forgot to bring the holiday card for my former geography teacher who just overcame cancer, I told myself I’d remember something by Easter. Then Easter rolled around, and I, caught in the middle of quarter examinations, said I’d bring her something before Mother’s Day. Except she couldn’t be in her classroom anymore by the time I remembered. Instead, she was on a hospital bed. 

At that point, I could only scold at myself.

I closed my notebook as a piercing pain reverberated through my throat. I should’ve known better. It is never too early to thank someone. At the very least, we can better someone else’s day with a smile and a ‘thank-you.’

No matter what we will be doing this summer, whether it’s a competitive internship, test preparations, or college apps, let’s take some time to remember all those who made our lives a little less miserable, and give them our genuine gratitude.       

Teen Editor's Welcome

The Mailman

By Jessica Li, High School Editor

The tut-tut white truck with banck-banck wheels by

Where the dark-skinned mailman whistles inside.

A pouch of surprises, condolences, and inquiries under his

Hairy, sweat-washed, child-bitten left arm, as he slipped

Envelopes after envelopes into steel arch doors.

From my window his tires and hands I hear,

Drop my novel down the staircase I ran with thirst

For surprises as a young woman.

His mustached countenance winked me a gentle smile

as his thick wrinkled five fingers waved me farewell,

I grasped the pamphlets of grocery ads and several

Cordial invitations and gas bills for mom—

A bit disappointing, there’s no doubt, as the tut-tut white truck

Drove to my neighbor down the hill.

Twelve long years had I watched him come and go,

Hair dark to grey, grey to white, face freckled with whiskers

As we exchanged little “how ya doin’s” and “good days,”

We knew nothing of the other’s story behind color of our eyes

But we longed for the other’s visit—he my surprise and I his gratitude.   

Till one morn when the white boys across the street

Tossed a rock at his white truck window and shouted ‘Poor Ni—er’

Did he lose his smile and wore a blue cap since.

I was never greeted by his casual wink of smile even when he

Handed my acceptance letter with black gloves.

Before I packed for North a rose I harvested for my mailman,

But a young man, in a new white truck, came instead—

And that was many, many summers ago.

Teen Editor's Welcome

Top Ten Countdown to Graduation (What to Expect)

By Zoe Fisher, High School Editor

10. College Applications – you will write an abundance of essays, file for transcripts and have to figure out who will write you the most flattering letters of recommendation (try to build relationships early).

9. Job Hunting – turning 18 helps a lot of students find jobs easier. Plus it’s great to start saving for college.

8. Unintentional Naps – the overwhelming amount of work that comes with senior year leaves students tired and soon studying for Biology becomes a 2 hour nap.

7. Senior Pics – one fun thing about senior year is the photo-shoot graduation invites. Have fun and be original!

6. Scholarship – apply early and apply often, ever little bit helps

5. Homecoming/ Prom – these are your last ones of high school so do it big  but try not to break the bank. Most likely, you’ll never wear these dresses again.

4. Yearbook – you’re senior quote and pictures are what people are going to look back to 30 years from now. Make sure they are worth remembering.

3. Questions about college- People will constantly ask you about what college you’re going to, what you’re going to study, etc. Be polite even though it will get severely annoying.

2. Make memories- try to enjoy your teachers and friends as much as you can, these memories tend to last.

1. Senioritis- this is a legitimate myth. It happens! Don’t miss too much school or let your grades slip, everything still counts. Trust me, just push through, especially when spring fever comes around.

Teen Editor's Welcome

Fighting the Combine

By Jessica Li, High School Editor

10. “Does our public education system teach us to serve or fight the Combine?”

The last item on our ten-point reading quizzes was always a freebee, do you agree or disagree, see or don’t see, a question with no correct answer but a soul-searching dilemma. But only this time had it provoked a spiritual response, one that called back a jar of memories and confessions never freed.

I could still clearly recall my eighth grade American history class, a cluttered room accompanied by unfinished paper wagons, masks of the natives, and a blackboard hidden behind the cauldrons of costumes. It was one of the first classes where I didn’t have to give constant nods and smiles to pretend I understood the lecture. My language was passing, and I raised all ears for the man who would enlighten me about the birth of the Golden Land, the virtues she cherish, and the defeats she suffered. Despite the years of withering, my memory still clutched tightly to one remark that my teacher, Mr. Sprecher, articulated – “when the government is committing acts of injustice, citizens have right to rebel.”

Interestingly enough, despite the numerous lectures taught in public schools preaching students to ‘challenge’ the norm, ‘change’ the unjust, and ‘criticize’ the ignorant, the story outside the classrooms is not as pleasant. The Combine, the epitome of conformity and fear in Ken Kesey’s masterpiece, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, defines a great part of our society. And ironically, those most hurt by the Combine are, like the mental patients confined in the ward, isolated from the mainstream.

After witnessing the misfortunes that befell the many men and women of my community, I wanted to acquire the spirit of the rebel. Every time my mother and I sat in church, we are overwhelmed by heartbreaking stories of our friends, who because of their looks, poor English, and financial status, were ‘bullied’ at work, in court, and tragically, in their own homes. For a long time, I wanted to transform into a voice to speak for the women badly burnt, the boy cruelly beaten, the elder mocked at the park and tell the world of the injustices. Yet, too many instances of defeat and disappointment had eaten away my faith, as cries for change drowned amidst a sea of nothingness.

But nonetheless, just recently I realized it’s all a matter of choice. The stakes are high and the losses are great, and not every battle can be won. However, we can always do something about the injustices that we see. I still remember that line from The Count of Monte Christo, one of the first English movies I’ve watched – justice is blind, but WE must give it eyes.

Our schools and community had taught us what’s needed to fight the Combine, all we need is to actually fight it.      

Teen Editor's Welcome

STRIVE

By Zoe Fisher, High School Editor

For those Crystal moments that will sit on a mantle in your mind.

Because this will only come once for us

And none for some

So taste it.

Taste the blue sky and back packs

Feel the cocoon of these hallways one more time

Touch the interwoven fabric of high school and home

But when nostalgia has left you

When memories no longer feed you humming spoonful’s of happiness

You must STRIVE

Like you have three cents

In your pocket

No sense in your fingertips that have been worked to the stubborn bone

 From climbing, clawing towards your dreams

Don’t stop now.

Don’t stop ever.

STRIVE

Like the finish line is always two steps and a shaky breath away

STRIVE

Like fear is sliding down the backs of your knee caps

 

 

 

STRIVE

Like you can the faint taste of blood is stuck in the back of your throat

STRIVE

Like you’ve never seen hope before

Or freedom before

Or have been tired before

STRIVE Like you’ve never quit before, so why start now

STRIVE

Like your life depends on it.

Because it does.

STRIVE

 On days where disappointment is your silent shadow

On days when sadness takes up all the air in your chest

On days when your life is a grey thunderstorm but the sky still is its stupid ocean of blue

On days when you can’t tell the difference between the tears and the rain on your face

STRIVE

On those days where giving up looks better than getting up

Because they will come

and on a morning, when the obese sun peeks from its hiding place and stumbles into your blinds

when it feels like an anchor has been tied to your burning eyelids

breathe

smile

face your glorious mountain, thank it for its presence

then

STRIVE

Teen Editor's Welcome

The Way She Is

By Allison Schwartz, High School Editor

“If you are chilly, here take my sweater.” Haley eagerly handed me her light fleece, and I, pretending to shiver, giddily took it from her. “Your head is aching, I’ll make it better!” We attempted to knock our heads and then kiss them to “make it better”, ending with us in hysterics, falling as much as we could onto one another with the seatbelts in the way. Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am” had debuted in Old Navy commercials and on Billboard’s top 100, but that chilly June day it was blaring through a shared set of headphones, in the backseat of a car on its way to a hotel in Montana.

Dad is in the driver’s seat whistling to himself, content after having finally taken his daughters to Yellowstone National Park, the famed setting of the “best summer of his life” story he’s told us over and over again. Haley and I were sitting in the back, grooving. Everyone seems happy, right? Well, we were. Maybe it was the fresh air or the uninhibited atmosphere of the Northwest wilderness, but for once everything seemed…calm. My mother’s breast cancer had engulfed our family’s energy for the past year and my dad thought it would be best to take my sister and I away for a few days after school ended; not able to break from her radiation schedule, my mother stayed at home.

Time away from home led to my dad acting friendly enough, but I’d expected that. He usually reverted to that sort of state when my mom wasn’t around. My sister was the one who’d really surprised me. Laughter, giggles, and smiles replaced the usual apathy, arguments, and sneers that separated us. Screams faded into grins; quarrels turned to mirth.

Suddenly it didn’t matter whose turn it was to pick a song. It didn’t matter that she’d sat in the window seat on the plane ride there, or that I’d used the camera long past my turn. It didn’t matter that I was older and she was younger. It didn’t matter that neither of us knew who Ingrid Michaelson was at the time.   

Right there and then, my sister and I created our first inside joke. It’d taken ten years, but it happened.

Needless to say, our whole relationship up until that point hadn’t been feud after feud. Being older, I’d settled into the stereotypical bossy alpha role seen in movies, she playing the part of the cranky younger sister. In this way our relationship was typical between sisters; that was where the commonalities ended.

We established a sort of implicit routine, mostly bickering or ignoring one another, depending on the day.

See, the thing about Haley is that as moody and disruptive as she could get at home, in public she’s characterized by a completely different façade, one that dramatizes her more introverted side. Even ordering for herself at a restaurant, something that might have seemed trivial to her more social peers, proved to be a heavy struggle and burden on the reserved mind of my sister. Her lack of conversation has gotten me so used to the question, “Why doesn’t your sister speak/Why doesn’t your sister say hi/Why won’t your sister respond to my question/Why won’t your sister look me in the eye?”, that avoiding a truthful answer has become far too easy.

Naturally, really getting to know someone like Haley induces an arduous task, even for someone who lives with her. Especially for someone who lives with her. I was always amazed at how two people could be so physically close, yet emotionally distant. It didn’t matter that we were family; she just wasn’t interested in cultivating relationships with anyone.

So as I think back to that rare flash of openness from my sister, I also remember my wide smile and genuine laughter in that moment. For once, I did my part as well. I didn’t push her away, put her down, or criticize her faults. I merely sang along. The unspoken antagonism we’d participated in all those years, the inability for us to communicate and connect; suddenly, all of it dissolved. Haley and I felt like real sisters.

Things today are far from perfect. However, through yearning for a connection with Haley, I’ve grasped that perfection isn’t the goal. As much as I can still be overbearing, Haley’s personality is rigid, undemonstrative, and moody – that’s just the way she is. Likewise, we may never benefit from an “authentic” sisterly relationship; that’s not to say we are condemned to abide by the static circumstances of our lost bond.

There’s a reason I remember this incident so vividly; the aloof and distant girl I’d grown up beside had finally let her guard down. Together, we scoffed at Ingrid Michaelson’s obvious and unpretentious lyrics; it was trivial, but it was an emotional connection nonetheless. If we could laugh together, who says we couldn’t share secrets or give each other advice?

Instead of giving up on any chance of a relationship, I’ve begun to understand that when I reach out to Haley, she relaxes her uptight disposition as well. We get along much better now, still laughing together if “The Way I Am” ever comes on. She’s all I have, and I’ll have to learn to take Haley the way she is.  

Teen Editor's Welcome

Virgin Chesapeake Defiled

By Jessica Li, High School Editor

Endless
To eyes of innocence
She plunged beyond the sun
dragging torrents of dark
with Her arms
no green no blue
no mirror of violet hue
Mother of Marie and Liz
Smothered by her own
daughters with their
cigar and corn
and nets
as ants   
white with wicked wings
swarmed Her face
sucking Grace
I, on Key bridge, my
father’s eyes, watched
Her behind windows
Disturbed or dazed.
Caged
by hands of experience
She cried under the moon
dragging torrents of dark
with Her arms
now brown and grey
Choked by Her own
Son Washington with his
engines and cash
sucking life
I did see Her but turned my head.
Silently, it flowed.

Teen Editor's Welcome

Then He Will Love You

By Virginia Lafontant, High School Editor

Darling, why are you sitting here crying a river because he doesn’t love you? If you want to be his world, give him your all, then he will love you. Become his easy card, be accessible to him at his convenience, then he will love you. As if he is worth the rights to your body, allow him to explore and let him play you like an instrument, and then he will love you. Girl, forget about those nights when he is busy on the phone with his other chick. At the end of the day, you are the one he is thinking about. Also, don’t stress if you ask him whether he loves you, and he hesitates to answer, it’s nothing serious, really. He is often shy and plus, his tongue was numb that day. His eyes may not show sincere interest but that’s just temporary, I promise. Yes, it may seem he’s more interested in your best friend instead, but he just needs some motivation. Disregard the importance of inner beauty, self-respect and dignity. Just buy booty shorts, stilettos and a tube top that reveals your stomach, that will do, then he will love you. If you want this lucky guy to notice how much you love him, like everything he likes and go everywhere he goes. Show him you care by stalking him after school to ensure his safety. Add him on every social site he is a member of, and control who he can befriend, then he will surely love you. Constantly remind him of your fantasies of being committed forever; getting married and growing old with him, then he will love you.  However, if you want him to be crazy in love with you, get pregnant intentionally and bless him with the title of a father. An additional responsibility in his life will make him thrilled. He will be anxious to allow a baby hinder him from reaching his goals. He wouldn’t mind possibly placing his education and enjoyment of life on hold for you and the baby. In fact, the stress of having to work even harder to earn money to provide for the baby and to provide for his own needs as well, will make him love you even more. After all of this, he will be so crazy in love with you. He will pack his bags in so much excitement. Next, he will move to another state, mistakenly forgetting to include you and the baby, and then you will know he doesn’t love you.

Teen Editor's Welcome

Angela Davis

By Zoe Fisher, High School Editor

One of the most inspirational women still living today is Angela Davis. When I was a child, my dad used to tell us stories about when he grew up. He spoke on Martin Luther King and Malcolm X but I distinctly remember his description of a woman with a fire hot tongue, crooked smile and a bold afro. He said she was kind of crazy. But as I grew up, I did more research about her. Radical, activist, controversial are all words associated with Mrs. Davis but to me, misunderstood should be added to the list. Change is a hard mountain to climb but she climbed hers, unabashed and determined. Many people saw her ideas and opinions as radical, and some of them are. But she stood by them anyway, and spoke with unassailable conviction and honesty. She believed in herself and she believed in her cause. That’s what a phenomenal woman does and that’s why she inspires me. With the influx of prisoners and the growing issues of race relations the country is having, her activism is still relevant and something I’m passionate about also.  To not waiver when faced with criticism, controversy and even being called crazy, deserves the upmost honor and respect, and she has mine.

Teen Editor's Welcome

Why I Don't Hate Valentine's Day

By Allison Schwartz, High School Editor

I’ve never had an official valentine on Valentine’s Day. No boyfriend has swept me off my feet, handing me roses and feeding me from a heart shaped container of chocolate. I’ve never woken up to doves floating around my room, or gotten dressed up for a romantic, candle-lit dinner. Naturally, I’m a prime candidate to be one of those pessimistic valentine-detesters, who sneaks into her bed and eats candy alone every fourteenth of February. But no, I’m not. To me, Valentine’s Day is about more than spending time with a significant other. It’s a time to show anyone around you that you care about them, and frankly, it’s also a good excuse to eat chocolate.

When I was younger, my parents used to make a big deal about Valentine’s Day. The night before, while my brother and sister and I were all still sleeping, they would quietly decorate the house. The next morning, we’d wake up to pink and red streamers, heart shaped balloons, and strawberry pancakes. Though this tradition has faded throughout the years, my dad still brings home flowers for my mom, my sister, and I, in exchange for cards we’ve spent the day laboring over. Yes, it’s a cheesy holiday. But why does that matter? Sometimes it’s nice just to sit down, exchange carefully written cards, and spend time with each other. Even though they’re my family, I still love them; they can be my valentines too.

There’s always the argument that we should show one another our love every day, not just once a year. Granted, I completely agree with this. But sadly, many people often forget to confess their love throughout the year. Busy agendas, homework, and other idiosyncrasies get in the way; contributing to the mundane routines we complain about so often. Certain times throughout the year it’s nice to have people build their schedules around others, not around what they have to get done. One of these days is Valentine’s Day.

So despite lacking the romantic profession of love every girly movie had promised me on Valentine’s Day, I still look forward to and believe in its value.

Teen Editor's Welcome

The age of innocence

By Jessica Li, High School Editor

I went to see the Mayor:

I was frustrated by injustices

Inflicted upon my people.

My hardworking people who did no wrong to

those Gentlemen in suits and ties.

So I hollered at the Assembly,

“What you gonna do about this, mayor?”

His eyes, struck by fear, parted a sea of laughter.

She is a child.

 

I go to see the Mayor:

I am furious about the injustices

Doomed upon my people.

My hardworking people who do no wrong to

Those Gentlemen in suits and ties.

But I keep quiet at the Assembly,

In my head I say, “What you gonna do about this, mayor?”

His eyes, swords of feign courtesy, shame me to silence.

She is a grown-up.

 

I will go to see the Mayor:

I shall remain in despair about the injustices

Forever cast upon my people.

My hardworking people who will do no wrong to

Those Gentlemen in suits and ties.

But I am invisible at the Assembly,

My body cried in vain, “What you gonna do about this, mayor?”

His eyes, darting across the room, will never notice me.

She was the unknown alien.

Teen Editor's Welcome

New Year's Resolutions

By Makayla Lagerman, High School Editor

It is the commencement of the new month. February: the month of groundhogs, Cupid, presidents, and reality checks. Yes, you read that correctly- reality checks. We, as humans following the Gregorian calendar, are officially a month into 2013. What has the New Year brought you so far? Most importantly, what have brought upon you so far this year?

January 1st marks the day of promises. People decide to embark on a journey of bettering themselves. We have coined the term “New Year’s Resolutions”. These can range from losing weight to getting healthier to earning a promotion to getting better grades. Whether or not yours was one of those or an original idea, it’s time to reflect.

On the first dawn of 2013, roughly 45% of Americans promised themselves they’d make a change within the coming year. A week into their resolution, a solid three-quarters were still going strong. By February, only 64% of the original resolution-makers have continued on their path of betterment. Six months in, the number has dropped below half, with only 8% achieving their resolution by the next year.

Does that show you how flaky humans can be, or what? Us Homo sapiens tend to be good at making new ideas and not following them through. What about you?

Are you a typical person- seeing all the things you need to fix about yourself only to quit trying to fix them along the way? We, as humans, need to stop this rotten habit. The only way to make the world change is to start with ourselves.

This is my challenge to you this February: Get back on track. Rediscover your drive. I’m sure many of you made a 2013 Resolution and have abandoned it already. If you haven’t picked one, it’s never too late to start! Put yourself on the path to success, and you are almost guaranteed to find it.

Teen Editor's Welcome

Broken

By Zoe Fisher, High School Editor

“Some girl was killed over winter break,” kids whispered on January 8th. We got back from school and that was the only thing spoken about in hushed tones during first period. She was a freshman. She was 14. Her name was Gabby. She wasn’t alive anymore. The next day, class continued as usual. There was no moment of silence for her, no mention of the grief counselors. But there was a feeling of forgetfulness that perfumed our school. No one seemed too shocked of the murder that took place in our small, suburban city. Then I realized, grief is short lived lately. As a nation, I fell our compassion dwindling. And more over, I see lives being valued more than others and it disturbs me. The Sandy Hook shooting trembled hearts to the core while watching the events unfolds on the news. Twenty innocent children died. Twenty little kids went to school and didn’t come home. It was incredible loss to our country but I couldn’t help but to think about the adults who died that day, or the children who’ve died from gun violence this week, or month, whose names we will probably never be heard. When people become conditioned to death there must be a disastrous occurrence for there to be a dramatic response; which makes deaths on a small scale a mundane happening. However, I propose, every unnecessary death is important. I care. I will cry the same amount of tears and call for the same amount of justice for Gabby as I do for the Sandy Hook victims. I don’t want the evanescence of injustice to flee from our minds but it should sit and ache our thoughts until we are brave enough to call for a change.

Teen Editor's Welcome

Bystander Behavior

By Allison Schwartz, High School Editor

Bullying has long been a problem among children, yet it seems that recently it has fallen off the grid of pertinent issues. This doesn’t mean the problem’s gone away though. A 2004 U.S. poll revealed that 86% of children ages 9-13 admitted to seeing someone being bullied, yet none of them said claimed to step in to intervene.  “Bystander behavior” like this has been an increasing problem for people of all ages, and may even be a bigger problem than the bullying itself.

We’ve all encountered situations where we had to decide whether or not to get involved.  The situation could hardly have been extreme; it could have just been an offensive joke that we let pass. But we can’t forget that all of these events are tests of our character.  Bystander behavior could be extended to include anything from leaving litter on the sidewalk for someone else to pick up, to lowering your head as the helpless boy next to you is being harassed for his lunch money. Do we want to be remembered as those who ignored giving assistance?

Similar indifference can be seen in the greater world around us.  Enormous political, economic, ethical, and environmental issues are presented to us daily, but very few are brave enough to take a stance and step up to make a difference. The daunting task of facing these problems alone is overwhelming, but we must get over our fears and try anyway. Without anybody to intervene, it makes you realize how quickly things were able to escalate in places like Germany in the 1940’s, where it was hard not to feel powerless against the Nazi empire.

So why don’t people step forward? Are they afraid of being called a “snitch”, or do they simply not care?  Most likely it’s the former that causes such behavior. After the 1964 murder of Kitty Genoveise, in which 38 witnesses failed to intervene and call for help, psychologists decided to take a closer look. For starters, the bystander will check to see how others may be reacting. If everyone else seems calm or apathetic, the bystander may assume that what’s occurring is not an emergency, and therefore will not take action.  Others may be worried about the embarrassment of appearing to overreact.  Many also may assume that someone else will fix the problem, and they themselves don’t have to intervene. Yet when everyone thinks this way, who is there to help in the end? People justify that someone else is better qualified, or better suited for this kind of situation.  But no one is better equipped to help out than each of us.  

Bystander behavior takes many forms and persists at all levels of society, and has been a problem for years. By disregarding our pride and realizing that we are the ones to take action, more people will be able to be helped and less unnecessary crimes will hopefully take place.

Teen Editor's Welcome

How to Handle Break

By Makayla Lagerman, High School Editor

Winter break has always seemed like the Land of the Lotus Flowers to me. In that mythological story, people eat lotus flowers that damage their mind; their view on time is distorted. Sitting here, relaxing with nothing to do but sleep, I am wasting a large amount of time. Although my break is only ten days long, I’ve let my mind believe that multiple more days off will be coming. Is this a bad thing, though? Is letting your brain breathe for once in the middle of a crowded, hectic school year such a negative problem?

I think this question can be asked in plethora of situations. In the case of winter break, I believe that you should continue to stay focused. While some people argue that you should keep your mind on course and continue to do school work, others will say that you should take a complete break from thinking. My argument is somewhere in the middle.

After the vacation you receive in December, you return to school full-force. It is the time of finals, a new semester, college applications, standardized tests, and anything else you can name. If you lose focus over the break, you will get behind and unadjusted to the meticulous pattern of the school year. But, if you continue to work hard on days you have off, you will most likely wear yourself out and become exhausted.

This is the struggle of high school: figuring out the best balance between two things. So, in this time of holidays, relaxation, and vacation, what choice will you make?

Teen Editor's Welcome

Winter Break Up?

By Virginia Lafontant, High School Editor

I waited for this winter break for the longest. However, who knew I would be anxiously waiting for a winter break up, how festive! NOT. “Babeeeeeee, winter break has arrived and I am so excited to spend more time with you! Oh my goodness, we should go to the…” A text from my boyfriend appears interfering my process of completing my text message to him. I of course, press view and BAM! “I’m sorry but I can’t be with you anymore, bye.” I was so astounded, I didn’t understand why he would break up with me!

Okay, okay readers, I apologize if you were captivated by my winter break up story, but it’s quite fictitious lol forgive me. I decided to give this post a little spin to attain your attention. However, it is winter break and I am excited and I know you are too! Most importantly though, Christmas is here and it is the time of love and happiness, not break-ups, anger and pain. My message to all Stage of life members is to enjoy your Christmas and the rest of your break, don’t just spread love and joy on a holiday but let it be a habit for every day you live. Be safe and enjoy the last days of this year fore we have a new year ahead that many weren’t able to see. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a great new year!

Teen Editor's Welcome

"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!"

By Zoe Fisher, High School Editor

This lesson took me a long time to grasp, honestly, even at this point, I’m not sure I have it. My childhood crate is filled with blacktops, chalk, sky blue, brown carpet, car rides and Dr. Seuss quotes. But more than all, it’s filled with memories - Both good and bad, some left scars other left laughs.

I’ll begin with blue skies, not the ones cuddling the earth, but the one plastered on my ceiling. I despised it; I was not a blue sky child. But my mom thought I was, so there was a daily reminder of her projected dreams of me projected on the wall. Thus began my state of misunderstood that lasted until I discovered and understood myself.

Leaving the walls behind, I would hop into my fathers rusted red maxima that would trudge through the by-ways to Boulder. We were like a marble rolling through massive, undulating, green hills, while NPR played on the radio and my eyelids stuttered from their early morning awakening. Upon arrival, I would become completely revitalized and jump out of my car, like a champ, waltz into school- ready for the excitement.

During the summer, however, the excitement would fizzle and flatten. My summer fun was guarded by my attack dog grandmother. However, Barbie’s and Easy Bake Ovens usually made it out from under her watch and into my hands.  And I must say, my Barbie’s lived lavishly. I was a proud owner of the Barbie Trailer, Barbie House, Barbie Air Plane, and Barbie car. All completed with Barbie accessories. There’s something wild about creating the life you want to live one day as a child. There’s something wild about how I played patty cake with bakers men and made wishes on bubblegum, kissed numerous people in a tree down by the bay where the water buffalo goes because I didn’t want to go to Mexico no more, more, more. There’s something wild about those times I had in the summer, never realizing how those rhymes were the soundtrack to my childhood.

But whether summer or winter, on Saturdays, early morning cartoons were replaced hymnals and bibles. Hey Arnold!, Kim Possible, CatDog, and Rugrats were all put on pause from sunset Friday night to sunset Saturday night. I never felt deprived by being a Seventh Day Adventist; going to church colored my world, racially, metaphorically, literally. Red hymnals filled the backs of the green pews. There seemed to be a white radiance summoned from the soulful clapping of brown hands. Yellow, pink, and purple hats would wobble in consent during sermons and I would often gaze out of the nearest window into the crystal blue skies.

But more poignant than any of the other colors, was the black that scarred and discolored my stalky, adolescent body. The incessant insults from my brother and his best friend pained me much more the spankings I used to get from my mom. The teasing about my bowl shaped stomach and textured forehead would lead to burning tears down my face. It left something bitter in my stomach, something that rotted and curdled, that’s never really gone away. But I do remember how Dr. Seuss remedied my wounds and wrapped me in love. So now I have my own words of wisdom:

    “Today you are you!

That is truer than true!

There is no one alive who is you-er than you! “

Yes, sometimes you’ll feel much bluer than blue

But shew all your fears because today is brand new!

So now do whatever you can dream to do!

Teen Editor's Welcome

Our Hearts are Broken

By Jessica Li, High School Editor

--but we must help it heal. Millions of students wore blue in memory of the Connecticut shooting victims this Monday. The tearful cries of a working mother, the pouring anguish of a loving sister, the lives of twenty-seven souls violently extinguished... hatred and misunderstanding has again mounted to one of the most heartbreaking tragedies in our history. Yet we must not dwell in sighs and remorse, tragedies will only surface time after time, unless we all make a commitment to self-reflection.

Our hearts are broken, but we must help it heal. The Newton tragedy is a wake-up call pulling us from the illusions of lasting social harmony fabricated by our economic wealth and dominance. Hidden within our community are lurking perils fathered by apathy and indiscretion. And it’s not just a matter of gun control. Every so often in the school cafeteria, a few students in a heated brawl would end up in the nurses’ office with a swollen eye or fractured arm. Due to large size of American schools, security staff often responds slowly and ineffectively to special circumstances. The twenty lives lost during the disaster last Friday plead us to increase school security measures. This could mean hiring more security staff, designing a student mental-wellbeing monitoring system, and applying detectors at school entrances. After all, where else can we enjoy a sense of safety if even our schools are under threat? As young people, we can not take full advantage of education or hold fast to our visions of tomorrow without being insured of life today.

Our hearts are broken, but we must help it heal. Hatred is silent poison that tears civilizations apart. Acts of terrorism-in-cognito has plagued the innocent and defenseless too much in the past few years. What’s more bothersome is that the horrifying transformation of men into extreme misanthropes often goes unnoticed. Or is it? As someone who's lived in both a densely populated urban center and a quiet suburb, I’ve witnessed the disparity in people’s mental wellbeing as a result different levels of communication. Back in elementary school when my family crowded in an apartment near downtown Washington, we fostered close relationships with neighbors. My mother often sent me with baskets of goodies to place under the doors of struggling families. Ironically, as we became economically capable and gained a house of our own, it almost feels as if we’ve shut ourselves behind our doors and ceased interaction with neighbors. “What’s the name of the young boy next door?” My family still couldn’t answer that after three years of living here. In a society of growing individualism, we must not be overwhelmed by our egos. During a class discussion about the tragedy today, a classmate suggested “we should make friends with lonely, isolated people.” Indeed, loneliness, the loss of voice and perspective, is the catalyst for extreme ideological transformations. Silence skews one’s construction of reality, leading him/her to see only the dark and hateful. Since the beginning of the school year, I’ve always seen this one friendless freshman in the computer lab. I’ve made a promise to myself that tomorrow, I’ll greet him warmly. You never know, maybe you are saving humanity from another tragedy simply by smiling at the kid in the lonely corner.              

Our hearts are broken, but we must help it heal. The influence of family on one’s mental and spiritual well-being should never be underestimated. Yet, out of the days we share with our loved ones, it’s impossible to avoid conflicts entirely. As young adults, the instinct to express dissenting views and to voice concerns is overwhelming. For parents, the “I’ve done enough for you” mindset causes them to become authoritative and disagreeable. When you put these two fireballs together, the result isn’t pleasant. More listening from both sides (yes, including parents) is crucial to averting aggravated conflict. Otherwise, complaints will trigger anger, and anger triggers violence. Discontentment escalates to tragedies, like the one that humanity beheld two nights ago. Yet, the difference between heroism and villainy is a matter of transient judgment. Rage torches our perception so we become selectively blind, thus failing to evaluate the justification and consequence of our actions. Even when we do have greater justification in conflicts and controversies, we must express ourselves through the right mediums, such as writing and speech. Humanity condemns those who impose their ideals through violence, yet the ones who seek true change through positive means will be cherished as revolutionaries.       

December 14th, 2012 will remain in our hearts forever. Let us be guided by the better angels of our nature.

Teen Editor's Welcome

Vulnerabilities and Confidence

By Makayla Lagerman, High School Editor

Recently, I got to go through a very touching experience. It was our first musical rehearsal (we’re doing Guys and Dolls!), but instead of diving straight into the show, we did some icebreakers. The cast is full of your average high school student. We all know that high school is filled with bullies, insecurities, and also the best times of your life. That night, we brought some of those things to the surface. Our director was talking to us about what makes a good show. We specifically talked about vulnerability; so, we all wrote down one of our vulnerabilities on a piece of paper. We placed it face down in front of us, and since we were in a circle, took eight steps to the right. We then counted off in sixes, and the corresponding numbers switched spots. In this case, nobody knew which cast member’s paper they were reading. We went around the circle reading what our peers had written: “I have severe depression and have scars from cutting.” “The only person that has ever loved me was my dad.” “I feel second-best to all of my friends.”  These were only some of the tear-jerking vulnerabilities written down. It was a touching experience to know that you’re not alone in high school. We’re all suffering from something that makes us feel weak. We also wrote down a strength and something that makes us feel confident. This was even more touching; we got to see quiet kids be confident for once when reading their paper. This experience showed me that, no matter what, you and your peers have to stick together. A musical cast, sports team, etc. has to support each other in order to make it through.

Teen Editor's Welcome

Far from the Storm

By Jessica Li, High School Editor

As I sat along the circular dinner table a week ago with the mosaic of succulent turkeys and syrupy pumpkin pies, my television suddenly aired some footage from Jersey shore, where scars from the tempest one month ago still linger. Under the luminous chandelier, gloomy pictures of roller coasters submerged under the dark waters seemed more than dispiriting. Yet, immediately, the screen cut to moments of reunion, where family afar convened at crowded shelters for a taste of the joyful Holidays. Seeing this collage, I was suddenly intrigued by an instant of existential dilemma. The nature of chaos and disaster, the degree to which we own responsibilities to the ones we love, and the gift of grace… Giving true thanks on the Day of Thanks is not completed with a ceremonial prayer or a lengthy speech of appreciation, but must be accompanied by real actions, real services so we can give back to the ones we owe gratitude.            

My memory rewound to the last few days of October when Sandy crept up the American continent…

She swept across the Eastern frontier. Scores of torrential wind stole the light from the city. A massive black out followed by the paralysis of a bustling trade center. The dislocated dragged to nearby shelters, family members desperately dialed for their loved ones, towns upon towns lost connection with the world. Power outages lasted as long as two weeks, $10~$20 billion dollars in damage were incurred; a hundred and thirteen souls were violently extinguished. But despite these pitiful, horrendous images, a new hope arises, a displaced man sitting near the poll lines in wait for his turn to vote, a teacher driving into the darkness to care for his sick father, nurses working day and night to protect the lives of the newborns

As a Marylander, I was spared Sandy’s wrath except for two days of no school and three hours without power. Feeling a little conceited at the time, I even posted on Facebook: “Hurricane Sandy wasn’t a hurricane x) x) x).” But as soon as magazines and televisions became inundated with cities drenched in torrents, I felt the need to revisit my perception of empathy and responsibility.

First, I considered my failure to perceive others’ hardships when I myself wasn’t in the situation. In fact, I felt an air of superiority that Sandy never struck my home. Only when I witnessed the heartrending pictures on television did shock and sympathy rushed forth at once. Like a key, the images unlocked the compassionate, benevolent side of my nature and vanquished the one plagued by ego and narcissism. This incident sparked an epiphany: Perspective. In order to gain accurate perceptions, and hence give the right responses, despite our innate limitation to connect with the unfamiliar, we must remain open-minded to all the stories we hear. Only then can we resonate with the real “truth”.   

My second insight deals with responsibility. In times when nature tries our souls, we immediately turn towards the government for protection. If things look good, we'll be quiet, if things look bad, buckets of blame would pour down those in the Oval Office. But take some time to rethink about this mindset, should the obligations of safeguarding lives and happiness solely belong to the government? Or do we all have some share of this? We, the young people?

Despite our inexperience, our fearless mentality is enough for us to put up amazing works. We now live in an Era in which the notion of “young change makers” is no longer a mockery, but a tribute. There are plenty of opportunities for youths to change their community for the better, and not only during disaster relief. As a matter of fact, every story you post here on Stages of Life will surmount to something greater. Your voice represents a unique part of our society that might’ve been neglected before. The dilemmas you raise in your Blog may draw our attention to an imperfection we must abolish. Nowadays, young people are equipped with the resources to even establish their own organizations through social entrepreneurial programs. Foundations like Key Club and DoSomething can offer valuable guidance for any social problem we seek to address.

As the old say goes, heroes are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. So while we say our “thanks”, let’s actually speak it with our actions. The threshold to becoming a hero might be as simple as starting a new Blog question.  

Teen Editor's Welcome

Did you leave a mark?

By Virginia LaFontant, High School Editor

Have you done anything at all today that you can satisfyingly say that you’ve left your mark? “Mark? what mark?” you ask. Well yes, your mark. That one thing or a billion things you’ve done in this world that people will remember you by?

Life is a journey and throughout this journey it should be a memorable, remarkable and inspiring one. If you are an individual whose been suffering from the unhappy syndrome then I have a great fixer for you. The resolution to your unhappiness is to do something you love. Do something that brings joy to your heart, makes you better and makes someone else better as well.

Something that may seem like the smallest thing in the world to you, may be the biggest accomplishment and blessing in someone else’s eyes.

It’s horrible to live in a world filled with amazing people and to just be identified as, “ordinary”. We are capable of doing great things. While great things start with an idea, it must end with an action. Be great, and if you’re great, be greater!

Remember that are days on earth aren’t guaranteed. So before you’re last day approaches, always ask yourself, “did I leave a mark?”

Teen Editor's Welcome

Can't Sleep

By Zoe Fisher, High School Editor

I am carrying my bed into New York City tonight

To sleep under red, thin, sloppy sheets

And grime and crime and

Probably some vendors and things.

Gonna sleep over the lion under the concrete

That roars through darkness

a train that whispers my name

You can take the Z to brOOklyn or quEEns

Rushing off, leaving behind people

Panting - doubled over

With dank salt water filling their nostrils

And a rush of warmth in its wake

I’m going to carry my bed into New York City tonight

So I can watch all those glittering women and

Midnight men crawl through the streets

As yellow steel fills the avenues, like gold bricks

And those malleable boys carry OZ of crack in their pockets

With so much dangerous steel on the hips, they’ve become tin man

All the people pass by like scared folks

But I probably won’t sleep tonight

The city won’t let me

I’ll just lay down, look up at the silver stars

And wait to be eaten by its magnificence 

Teen Editor's Welcome

Happiness

By Allison Schwartz, High School Editor

What is happiness? Yes, I know, that sounds simple and mundane. But as straightforward of a question as it is, can you come up with a complete answer? “Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”, is what Apple’s dictionary states. But happiness can’t really be defined in six words, can it? As I write this article I feel pretty content, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m happy.

And how does happiness differ from person to person? Considering that different things make different people happy, everyone has their own definition of happiness. I hate rollercoasters. Many people I know love them. A trip to Six Flags surely wouldn’t bring me as much joy as it might to others. So then, I ask you again. What is happiness?

First off, my perception of happiness isn’t so definitive. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t really have much of a definition for it at all. Happiness is a little like riding your bike; when the time comes, you know it’s right. Metaphorically, this can relate to Louis Armstrong’s definition of jazz, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know”. I know when I’m happy; I know when I’m not. Not to say that happiness is some arbitrary thing that can’t ever be induced, but, at least for me, happiness is more of an elusive topic that, for the purposes of limiting my habit to over-analyze, cannot always be defined.

Everyone can agree that happiness just makes everything feel, for lack of a better word, right. The rain isn’t as tiring, I actually want to practice the piano, and all I want to do is be active. On a happy day, it takes a lot more to darken my mood, while worthless annoyances trigger immense frustration otherwise.

Many people may desire a new car, to loose five pounds, or a changed appearance, but whether it’s recognized or not, the ultimate goal is always happiness. These things are just stepping-stones for what people believe will ultimately lead to a happier lifestyle. The immediate gain of getting a promotion may satisfy our crave for power, but subconsciously, this urge is fueled by the notion that ultimately, power may lead to a happier environment. Aristotle details this in his findings, explaining that all people strive for the chief good, which he names as happiness.

So then, what does make us happy? Though happiness differs from person to person, there are a few generalizations that can be made.

There’s the familiar saying that money can’t buy happiness. While this is technically true, society has yet to put “happiness” on the shelves of Walmart, being financially stable reassuringly alleviates any issues of constantly searching for ways to provide for your family. Having a little extra cash can also bring about the feeling of freedom. By knowing that you have the power to choose what to spend your money on, and that it’s not directly needed to pay off other obligations, freedom can be found. Maybe monetary gain just gets a worse reputation than it deserves.

While it’s possible to receive happiness from financial growth, it is scientifically proven that spending time with others increases levels of happiness. Bonding and sharing experiences can raise serotonin, the chemical in your body that affiliates with levels of happiness. People are more likely to have fun, try new experiences, and create lasting memories while interacting with others. Creating memories can also prove beneficial, as looking back on good times later increases one’s hope for the future.

Lastly, major happiness can often be found during a process of growth. For example, if someone were to run a marathon, it’s likely that they would receive more happiness from running the 26.2 miles themselves than actually finishing. This also resonates well with parents, who agree that raising a child is an ongoing process that continually brings joy.

Happiness can be sought through many different means, depending on the person. So once again, I ask you, this time for your definition; what is happiness?

Teen Editor's Welcome

Attitudes Determine Altitude

By Makayla Lagerman, High School Editor

As my English teacher always says, “Attitude determines altitude!” I completely agree. I am not going to get anywhere in life if I am pessimistic and cynical all day, every day. By being lively, positive, and realistic, I have a greater chance of being successful later down the road. I believe many people forget this; that could be one of many causes of why there are so many not living their lives to their full potential.

This caused me to think, though. If attitude determines altitude, does altitude also determine attitude? While there is plenty of contradictions to the last part of that sentence, it is a question to cogitate.  There are multitudes of people walking this Earth that are extremely well-off. Some could say they expect them to be bitter, full of avarice, and greedy; others could say they could be on Cloud 9 because of their altitude. So, which side is right?

There are even more individuals in the world who are in extreme poverty. People could argue that they are despondent because of their terrible position; others could promote the idea that they are hopeful, grounded, and trying to improve their conditions. Which side is correct?

Well, it all depends if you believe in stereotypes. I assume we all do, to a point. People’s status in life can lead to a negative or positive attitude. Both sides are a stereotype; therefore, it is up to you to decide. Do you believe attitude determines altitude, and vice versa? Is it just a creative alliteration? You decide.

Teen Editor's Welcome

The Election

By Zoe Fisher, High School Editor

As the day of the election nears, anticipation rises throughout the nation. Not for who’s going to be elected as congressmen but society’s focus is solely placed on the presidential race. Every four years there is a political buzz humming through America. Democracy is a privilege. It’s one of the great things about living in this country. But even people who exercise it sometimes don’t understand the gravity of their decision. As a young person, I’m constantly told I should vote, but when people say that, they usually mean in reference to the President. They’re not speaking about the candidates for the Senate or House of Representatives. It saddens me how people plead with me to register to vote but don’t take consideration if I’m even informed on the topics, or not.  I think this a tremendous problem in our society. People who choose not to vote are condemned. They are bombarded with accusations that they are denying their civil duty and are apathetic. But isn’t refraining from an election for lack of knowledge on politics, just as noble as voting? We can’t promote freedom and democracy and then be appalled when people decide not to exercise it. That’s their freedom, that’s their right. Furthermore, I have yet to see that same persecution for people who decide not to vote for the congress candidates. A vote in a state election is a lot more weighted to a vote in a presidential election; it’s to a scream to a whisper. If people truly cared about democracy and political assertion, they would put as much emphasis on non-presidential candidates and bills as they do presidential ones. In the future, I would like Americans to be involved in every step of the election process. In Colorado (and across the nation) I want to see the same amount of people vote on a small state bill as the number voting President of the United States. We cannot pick in choose which parts of democracy we want to be involved in. We must love it all or watch it die.

Teen Editor's Welcome

Dependency on Technology

By Allison Schwartz, High School Editor

I am blessed to go to a school that provides each student with his or her own laptop computer. However this past week, I did the unthinkable; I forgot to charge it, leaving it at home.

Now theoretically, this really shouldn’t have been such a big deal. Computers are a privilege, and I could have just managed by taking notes by hand, etc. However after my physics class spent the entire period working on an online problem set, I quickly realized how wrong I was. I also struggled though Spanish and History, both of which required the use of a computer that particular day.

Coming home from school that day, I promised myself I’d never forget to charge my computer again. I’d put myself at a disadvantage academically, also handicapping the other students kind enough to share their resources with me. But then something else hit me; I’d never noticed how much we really rely on computers. This was merely a prime example of something I’ve been pondering a lot lately; our society has blatantly become dependent on technology. So guess what I did next? The next day of school I travelled without my computer as well, only purposefully this time. I wanted to observe additional effects the lack of a computer could bring in this technology-obsessed world by investigating hands-on what deficiencies this would bring.

As I’ve mentioned, this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed examples of our newfound dependency. My fourth grade brother is now required to study vocabulary through a flashcard website online. Even at fourth grade, students learn to rely heavily on technology, as their “homework” has become entirely computer driven. The doctor’s office too has recently transferred all of its medical records online in an effort to save paper and maximize organization.

Clearly, technology has its benefits. It’s faster, more convenient, and these days it’s easy to use. But with every yin there’s a yang, and technology’s no exception. Enthralled in the technological excitement sparked from recent developments, many tend to forget that the more dependent we become on technology, the harder it is to function without it. Take my lack of a computer as an example; by forgetting it I completely disconnected myself from the lessons in each of those classes, unable to participate or engage with the material. Likewise, I’m sure we’ve all been through the traumatic experience of our computer crashing, just before we saved the final changes to that oh-so-important paper. Well imagine if something like this was to transpire at the doctor’s; hundreds of patients’ medical records could be lost, no backup copies “just in case”.

However helpful technology can be, we run an enormous risk in putting our full faith in it. There’s always the omnipresent and ominous uncertainty that at any moment, something as essential and vast as the Internet could collapse, bringing with it a profusion of information that lacks reinforcement. And who knows, one day we may come to regret putting so much faith into technology’s capabilities.

Teen Editor's Welcome: October 11th-15th, 2012

National Book Month

by Jessica Li, High School Editor

“I can read in red. I can read in blue.
I can read in pickle color too.

But…you'll miss the best things
If you keep your eyes shut.” (Dr. Seuss)

Beloved scribes and muses on Stage-of-life,

I sing to you this hour with these entreating rhymes: writing is a gift that enriches the soul, but without reading it is like a garnish yet emptied box. Thus, let’s treasure this wonderful token called “reading,” as moons of October illuminate the spacious skies in this month of the Books.

Yes, dear bloggers, it is the National Book Month.

Rewind to six or seven years ago, perhaps by a bench in your backyard or beneath the shades of a maple tree; in your hands rests a copy of Kira Kira, its pages of tantalizing confessions plucking the strings of our heart, and without knowing it, you have traveled through the fabrics of space and time to the Iowan farms, watching the sisters racing past the harmonious air. These hours of complete escape, of indulgence in the melodies of words and insight about virtues and setbacks of humanity, might have become rare occasions as we walked into high school. Weighed down by loads of worksheets, our only times with Books are the few minutes we spend on the Metro or (and don’t feel embarrassed) when we must use the ‘necessities.’ Unfortunately, as maturation comes with added responsibilities, spare-time for reading may seem more like a once in a blue moon deal. This is why we dedicate thirty-one days every year to the memory of our old friend the Books. During this time, we appreciate the spiritual foods that literature had bequeathed us, and do our best to digest more.  

The gifts of reading aren’t just the evanescent romantic visions or the laughter here and there. Nonetheless, it is nearly impossible to quantify the benefits of reading, for the gifts are unique to everyone, and oftentimes too far reaching. However, I believe that we, a community of bloggers, have a lot to say in common on this topic (please don’t scowl if I’m wrong though!):  

1). One sacred mission of writers is to explore human nature and social ills, to change the world one story at a time. However, it becomes difficult to deliver our messages without knowing what I call “the art of projection.” Reading and evaluating works of writers who wished to convey strong passions generate inspirations for us in terms of style. As we become engrossed in a plotline or an internal narrative, our minds register the form through which it is carried out. In turn, when we return to crafting, not only can we recall these aesthetic elements, but we can also innovate them to make our voices unique. For instance, the stream of consciousness, employed frequently by Joyce, allows modern writers to impart different perceptions that create cutting messages about human relationships.

2). Reading sparks ideas! Aside from reenacting experiences, a lot of literatures serve as commentaries on social problems. While captivated by writings, we are also acquainting ourselves with current events, which come in handy when we search for new writing ideas. Particularly, current young adult fictions offer a vast sea of ideas to be elaborated upon. Whether it’s saving a silent spring or preventing another ship-break, all ideas deserve a say in this progressing society. Books open our eyes to the other side of the world, find your voice and let it be heard!

3). Books offer hours of complete escape from reality. After another week of jam-packed AP-class tests plus eight million hours spent on sport practices, who wouldn’t want to dive into a few pages of Vonnegut and G.B. Shaw? Be fascinated by both the ingenuity and folly of human beings.

With that, I leave it to you, dear bloggers, to take the most advantage of this month and read what you will. When the words of exquisite beauty pull you in, perhaps you’d feel like the stout Cortez at the sight of New Land.

Teen Editor's Welcome: October 1st-5th, 2012

Things That Change

by Makayla Langerman, High School Editor

Autumn is here along with a new high school year. To go along with those two rebirths, I decided to make a free verse poem about things that change, or have changed for me this year so far.

Autumn leaves. Your passion for math. Confidence levels. A best friend's self-respect. Your height. Your weight. Family health. Your parents' sanity. The wall color in your bedroom. The sport you love. Who's a senior. Having classes with your close friends. Secrets shared. Curfew. Your values. Most things. You.

But life goes on.
And that's all I want you to remember.

Teen Editor's Welcome: September 25th-30th, 2012

Is Virtual School Better? You Decide

by Virginia Lafontant, High School Editor

From Web Design, Visual Arts, Foreign Languages, mathematics and more; Virtual School has been the most talked about amongst teens like you and I. Virtual School is not just a class online, but it’s also a tremendous alternative for student’s to work at their own pace. This outstanding opportunity allows students to make up courses they previously failed. Depict learning 3 Languages or taking a guitar class with absolutely no cost in your own backyard! Students are given a list of a variety of courses to select from and the opportunity to select the initiation date. Amazing right? Virtual School is farfetched from a traditional school and a bill has been recently passed to have full-time Virtual School!

Many students are very fond of Virtual School because of the broad opportunities that are provided. For instance, I’m a Virtual School Student as well and I honestly love that I am able to work on my own pace and choose my courses. I conceive that I learn more in Virtual School than from my Public School teachers. Virtual provides PowerPoint presentations, educational games, online library, videos and more! Many students perceive that traditional teachers have ceased to teach. Some say teachers only disseminate “busy work” these days then head to their desk while we teach ourselves. Students are complaining that the passion and value of education has been abridged. I conceive this to be true considering that the passion must begin within the educator. The truth of the matter is, the teachers drive reflects on the students and that can influence the students’ ambition and performance.

There’s been a debate that soon enough Virtual School will take over. Teachers are apprehensive about losing their career. All the benefits interrelated to Virtual School can be a major factor of replacing these teachers. So I ask you my fellow readers, is Virtual School better? And, should Virtual School replace traditional school teachers?  Feel free to share your opinion!

Truly,

Virginia

Teen Editor's Welcome: September 21st-25th, 2012

Dolce et Decorum Est

by Zoe Fisher, High School Editor

Bent double, laid the old drunk man in a cardboard shack

Bitter cold, Biting lips, buttery spit,

The men, once clear eyed and malleable

Now stand stoic

With steel on their tongue,

Steel in their eyes

The steel of the gun

Pressed between childhood hopes and

An unnecessary reality.

 

Quick! Quick!

Red and blue hues

Echo on their faces

Dusk is settling in to their darkening heart

As white rock is held tightly inbetween their hands

In crystalized parts

 

They passed the fiend

Crippled, fidgeting, unsober

Seen through brown shaded glasses

His eyes went wild

Like a rabid dog

Fog clouding his mind

Time grabbed everything valuable he owned

 

My homies, if you could look into his eyes

And see his pride trying to escape the prison

That is bounded and whipped and maimed

As he begs for a fix

You would not tell to children

The old lie: by any means necessary

Teen Editor's Welcome: September 16th-20th, 2012

Back to School

by Allison Schwartz, High School Editor

The sound of a 6 am alarm, after three months of blissfully sleeping in, may as well be one of the worst sounds in the world. As you drearily drag yourself out of bed, shut your alarm off (after pressing snooze three times of course), and make your way over to the bathroom, you look in the mirror. It’s the first day of school. Great. But do you look a year older? Do you feel like so much time has gone by? Probably not, but there’s not much time to think; the bus can already be heard coming around the corner. So you rush downstairs, grab your backpack and a granola bar, and run out the door. Soon enough you’re back on the bus, back with the same kids, back in the same routine. Only this time, the nervous freshman surrounding you help ensure that you at least feel a little bit older. 

After the first few weeks of school, things have started to fall into place more. Originally nice teachers are handing out more homework, after-school activities are starting up again, and the inevitable drama of high school is back. So now what? How are you supposed to endure a full year of this monotony?

Thankfully, I’ve got a few tips that might help you navigate the upcoming months, whether it’s your first year of high school or your last.

1.      Get involved. Whether it’s with a sports team, the theatre club, or your school’s newspaper, getting involved with school activities is a great way to meet new people and discover what you really love to do.

2.   1. Remember that grades do matter. High school is a time to have fun, but school obviously comes before anything else. Make sure to leave time for homework amidst the excitement and social activities.

3.   2. Get a good night’s rest each night. Trust me, I know how tempting it is to stay up late chatting online with all of your friends. But getting even those few extra minutes of sleep can really help you feel less droopy, more refreshed, and more concentrated during class.

4.   3. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Step out of your comfort zone a little. High school can be a time to dabble in different areas as you try to find yourself, but just remember to stay safe.

5.   4. Pick out your clothing the night before. Not only does this help save time in the morning (you get a few extra minutes of sleep too), but also you’ll feel more organized and be more likely to put together a cute outfit if you aren’t rushing.

6.   5. Say hello! Your good friends often switch around through middle and high school, so it’s important to be open to meeting as many new people as you can. One of my best friends I’ve gone to school with since second grade, but we hadn’t really become friends until last year. Even the people you may think you know could surprise you.

7.   6. Don’t be intimidated by harsh teachers. Some teachers’ goal is purely to intimidate their students. This sounds silly and redundant, but you can avoid giving in by doing the work that’s assigned and speaking up in class. If you show the teacher that you care about his or her class, it’s likely that they’ll grade you more fairly. If not, don’t be afraid to speak to someone of higher authority if the problem persists.

8.   7. Develop time management skills. One of the most important takeaways from high school, more practical than history dates or factoring, is actually the ability to plan and manage your time. Instead of just receiving half credit, in the real world late work isn’t even considered. To help accomplish everything on time you must find the balance between working efficiently and effectively.

9.   8. Keep a journal if you can. I started a journal last year, and though I don’t write in it more than once a week, it’s a great way to get all of my thoughts out. I can write about anything that’s going on through my mind, with no fear that I’ll be judged. Even better though, this will serve as a keepsake that I can look back on in a couple of years. Just looking back on my first few entries, it’s amazing to see how I dealt with the issues in my life back then.

I understand that these tips are all a little vague, and possibly obvious, but I have one last tip for you all. Enjoy yourself. Schoolwork, social drama, and regular adolescent pressures all have the tendency to bog down high school years. School is important, and should always come first, but it’s also important to enjoy yourself before real life pressures come around – taxes, job hunting, etc. Make the most of these years so that you’ll have something positive to look back on.

Teen Editor's Welcome: September 11th-15th, 2012

Raising the Bar the Right Way

by Jessica Li, High School Editor

It’s about sevenish when you hop off the school bus for the first time in months.

You walk through the concrete doors when the piercing odor of disinfectants intrudes your nostrils, spurring surges of nostalgia down your body. What was that journey unfinished? What were those words I never got a chance to say? You whisper a “hello” to familiar faces as you wander past the refurbished halls. Some faces put up a warm smile, while others look at you vacantly, like if you’re just another apparition. Then the crowd buries you, flooding you to a corridor you had no intention of entering. DING-DING-DING-DING the bells screeched, bringing back jars of memories and doubts. Then time begins to distort, one ephemeral minute grows into years, as you dash towards home room, lockers upon lockers of voluminous books rush out of the horizon, the ‘rough’ portrait of your dreams glows with increasing brilliance in the subconscious realm. Now it’s real. It begins. The making of the dream. 

But now two weeks had passed, and the disturbing realization that not all is going as planned may throw us a bit off balance. We planned on piecing back that shattered friendship; we promised ourselves we’d get those top-notch grades; we craved to prove to ourselves that we’ve grown. Yet we just couldn’t do it all. So should we merely step aside and claim to ourselves that we’re failures? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Here are some strategies I’ve gathered through experimentation that can help us in better achieving our goals.

1). Always quality over quantity. Chances are there are a lot of brilliant minds around us, each with their own special knacks and daggers. Seeing their accomplishments, we might be compelled to take up the same job. But face it: it would take paranormal abilities to win it all. And most important of all, exhausting our cells and tissues would bring us little happiness, especially when juggling too many things at once end up obstructing us from accomplishing anything at all. Thus, it’s much better to just focus-in on at max. three to four things to plow through for the time being. It’s a job well-done, not jobs numberless, that puts a big smile on our faces.

2). Stay true to your own favorite color. We all like doing different things. But perhaps you’ve heard adults say that such and such occupation is “economical” and others are going to turn you into beggars. LIES! If you have a passion for something, then listen to your heart. Join and clubs and take the classes that cultivate talents necessary to express that passion. Remember, as the old saying goes, persistence and ingenuity are the parents of mankind’s finest creations.

3). Don’t get overwhelmed by “valedictorianism” Yes, you’ve heard parents and grandparents and maybe even a second-cousin once-removed (who you’ve only met once) encouraging (or rather demanding) you to be an “exemplary” student all the time. And if you’re in a hyper-competitive school community, just a glance at the quarterly newsletter with that chunky list of student achievements could make you tense. Then you look around to see if any of your friends-turned-competitor are doing “crazy” things. Gradually, you began treating everyone with caution. But wait. Is that really necessary? Must there only be one winner in the game of life? What if you beat everyone else and become the principal’s favorite? Does that mean you’re superior? The important thing is that we are focused on mastering all skills we need in order to make a marvelous contribution to the world a decade later. It’s the contributions we make to society that immortalizes our spirits.

Bottom line: don't fret if the weather don’t look too good now, just safeguard your identity and keep climbing. Perchance a chubby, sweet, shiny watermelon is only meters ahead.             

Don't forget to enter Stage of Life's monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: September 1st-5th, 2012

A Moment for a "Thank You!"

by Makayla Lagerman, High School Editor

I’ve read through many of the entries for the July/August writing contest on my own time. Seeing strangers reminisce with their past emotions and experiences touched my heart. Entries seemed to range from the best moment of their life to the most terrible time in their existence to a ray of hope in a seemingly depressing time.

I love that Stage of Life can help people channel their past as well as their talents. I’ve been a member for only a few months, but I have fallen in love with the passion of this site and its’ community. As far as I’ve seen, there are no hateful comments or rude remarks. The comments are full of praise, suggestions, relatable story, and helpful ideas.

From contests to willing daily entries, everybody can fit in at this website. There are prominently excellent writers as well as beginners that are eager to develop their budding talents. The fact that this opportunity is available to everybody willing to participate truly astounds me.

Wow. I actually realized that I sound like a Stage of Life saleswoman! But that’s okay! Nobody judges you here. I’m not writing this because anybody asked me to. I was just thinking today about the wonderful place that this website is. I can share my work with fellow writers that are willing to read it. You can’t always have that during a school day.

(I’ve been in a really thankful mood lately. For some reason, I’ve been appreciating life a lot lately, so here comes a bit of that nostalgic-ness!) So thank you, Stage of Life. Thanks for giving all the members here a place to publish our stories, share our experiences, and possibly touch the lives of a stranger. It means a lot to me, and I’m sure plenty of others out there feel the same way!

Don't forget to enter Stage of Life's monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: August 25th-31st, 2012

The Real Meaning of "YOLO"

by Makayla Lagerman, High School Editor

Hey there readers! Get ready for a serious topic in this letter; I’ve been dealing with a lot of crazy things in my life recently.

High school makes you change. No doubt about that. Every cliché from movies, books, songs, etc. is true. You will find out who your friends are. People will change. Classmates will try and do bad things and you will have to see the damage caused by it. I’m not trying to scare you; I see myself warning you. We are a generation of “YOLO”. The popular phrase “You Only Live Once” seems to float around as an excuse for fun and exciting, or possibly dangerous, choices.

Parties are often an inevitable high school experience. Often, though, you see who you and your friends truly are. Cleaning up the pieces that are left behind happens a lot for me. I want you to understand that “Living Once” is never a good excuse to do something dangerous, harmful, or stupid. I’m probably preaching to the choir right now, but if just one person reads my letter and it changes them, it will be worth it in my eyes.

Teens think illegal things will make their time more fun, but I have fun wherever I go, and I am always ‘clean’. Lives are ruined by bad decisions. Peers are judged, hurt, and sometimes killed by spur-of-the-moment choices. “You Only Live Once”, but wouldn’t you want that one and only chance to last as long as it possibly can? My life will be the best that I can possibly make it through my own decisions. That’s why I’m asking you to step up and be the bigger person. Stay above the influence, and may “YOLO” be a motivation to have a fun, safe, healthy, smart life.

All My Love,

Makayla

High School Editor for Stage of Life

Don't forget to enter Stage of Life's monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: August 21st-25th, 2012

The Sympathy Massacre

by Zoe Fisher, High School Editor

There’s an out of body sensation that happens when a moment of uncertainty overwhelms you. The adrenaline in your blood pumps through your body like wild horses on open fields. You begin to feel your pulse in your ears and a rock in your throat. But that moment of heartbreak, when you realize the truth is much worse than uncertainty, that moment bruises souls.

I live in Broomfield, CO which is only 30 minutes away from Aurora, CO- where the batman massacre occurred. The morning I woke up, I was met with eerie texts asking about me and my family’s safety. Fortunately, I was able to say that, “yeah, my brothers right here in bed sleeping.” Other people couldn’t. Other people didn’t know where their brother or sister or friend was. All they knew was they weren’t with them.

That uncertainty is like a figure in the dark that you don’t know whether it’s really there or if you’re imagining it. And you don’t know whether you should turn on the light to find out the truth or just allow yourself to live in the unknown for a little while longer. But, ready or not, fears turn into reality. Sometimes you can imagine their family’s pain; you can feel the cold sweats and taste the sadness – it is bitter and potent. So we try to empathize with them.  As the events unfolded, the shock and anguish we felt for the families passed through our hearts immediately. But that’s the problem: it passed through. It didn’t stay and fester and call for repercussions or justice, it fled like the evanescent flicker of a lighter. But my question is why does our flicker of anger never grow into a fire? Why do we never care enough to make a change when tragedies strike? These deaths are worth more than a Facebook post or a tweet. 13 lives came to a stuttering halt. Something needs to be said about innocent people being killed while going to Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, a Sikh Temple, on the way home from the store or at a movie theater. This is less about gun control and more about America’s apathy. I feel and I fear that we care less for the lives besides our own.

Don't forget to enter Stage of Life's monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: August 11th-15th, 2012

Friendship‧Fair Play‧Peace‧Honor‧Glory

by Jessica Li

“The Essential thing in life is not conquering, but fighting well” (The Olympic Spirit Committee)


As flames of the thirtieth Olympic Games flash for the few remaining hours in the London Stadium, stories of heroism, redemption, and disappointment have made their way to spectators around the world. In our minds linger the instant of fulfillment when the archer hits the bull’s eye, the moment of triumph while the gymnast lands steadfast from a dazzling dismount, the split second of victory as the fastest man crosses the finish line; the fight, the miracle, the tears, and the embrace. In these past fourteen days, we have bore witness to the virtues of humanity as every race, every contest, and every match gave rise to a new champion with a unique chronicle of inspiration. As we welcome a brand new school year, the spirit of resilience and dedication manifested by these athletes will remain at our hearts during times of challenge and controversy.

Among the most moving figures of the Olympics stands Oscar Pistorius, the “blade runner,” who refuses to surrender to fate after shattering his knees in a high school rugby game accident. After six months of rehabilitation, Oscar appeared in the track lanes once more as a sprinter with carbon-fiber prosthetics and soon surpassed the Paralympics 100-meters record in a practice session. At the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, Pistorius won gold medals in 100, 200, and 400 meter races in addition to setting world records for all three events. After encountering initial disputes regarding his physical qualifications as an Olympian, Pistorius was eventually included in the South African track and field team. In this past 400 meters heat, Pistorius put up an all-time personal best, qualified into the semi-finals, and set the new South African record. Furthermore, he became the world’s first double-amputee to assume the “anchor leg” position during the 4x400 meters relay finals. Despite not winning a medal, the “blade runner” has found himself a place on the highest podium in the hearts of millions.   

And then comes the scenes of heartbreak where sacrifices aren’t fully redeemed. American gymnast Jordyn Wieber, who started this career since two and had won every major senior elite all-around competition, did not qualify into the Olympics all-around after a stunning fall on beam. Lolo Jones, who overcame poverty and homelessness to set an American indoor record, had her dream of redemption deferred after finishing fourth in the 100 meter hurdle finals. No different than the champions, heir arduous journeys to London are packed with hours of toil.   
            
Stories like these, where people just like us committed themselves to extraordinary missions out of passion, audacity, or enjoyment that define the true Olympic spirit. Although many of us have paid close attention to medal counts, the games are not just about stirring nationalistic sentiments or cheering for the golden victor, it is an appreciation of the perseverance in athletes everywhere; for we can inherit the merits of their character. When we are hit by an application denial, think of Allyson Felix who missed gold by hundredths of a second twice before winning the race. When we feel disadvantaged, think of David Rushida, the first Masai warrior to grab gold in 800 meters race. When we are overwhelmed by arrogance, think of Michael Phelps who clinched one title after another until becoming the most decorated man. When we are confronted by obstacles, think of our heroes and remind ourselves of our childhood dreams.           

In the end, like portrayed by the latest Google Doodle, everyone who has fought well is a winner.

-------

Don't forget to enter Stage of Life's monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: August 6th-10th, 2012

Current Events

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

A few weeks ago I was loitering at the library waiting for my mom to finish her shopping.  Bored, I began perusing an old copy of Time magazine.  I was stunned to learn of the secession of South Sudan this past July and its establishment as an independent state.  I felt like I should have known about something as large as the secession of a whole country.  Yet, aside from a vague awareness of East African unrest scavenged from Yahoo! News headlines, I was clueless.

By the time I finished reading the magazine, I was chagrined by how ignorant I was of innumerable major world events. But more than this, I was bothered by how my case is nearly identical to those of most teenagers in first-world countries. 

Let’s face it: Teens are interested in most current events (unless it’s the vicissitudes of celebrity relationships).  We often become so wrapped up in our own worlds of school and friends and intense social-networking that we fail to recognize prevalent issues outside of our own personal bubbles.

Keeping up with current events seems so pointless; they’re just going to change in a few days (hence “current events”) and usually they fade away into nonissues.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how essential it is to stay abreast of global issues. 

For one thing, following current events allows us to construct well-developed and informed opinions on a variety of subjects.  We all gripe about preteens who only have Justin Bieber and fruit-flavored lip gloss on their minds, but are we any better? 

My friends and I are always trying to brainstorm “deep” topics to discuss, but usually we come up short.  We slip back into old conversational ruts of new music and cute guys.  Following current events provides fodder for “deep” conversations and presents the opportunity to clearly articulate our beliefs and opinions.

“Gaining knowledge in world affairs and current events allows you to decide where you fall on key issues impacting your city, region, and country,” writes the World Affairs Council.  “It also provides you the ability to influence legislators in a meaningful and thoughtful way.”

I’m not saying all teenagers are completely clueless about all current events – or that we have to keep track of every little shift in the global milieu, for that matter.  But I was struck by how little modern teenagers (myself included) know or care about the world around us. 

In just a few years, we won’t just be teenagers; we’ll be the very adults we now rely on to make wise and thoughtful decisions when voting or even just making simple, everyday decisions.  As such, I think it’s our responsibility now to keep up with current events.

As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell put it, “[A country’s] success abroad is founded on the rock of an informed and involved public.”

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: August 1st-5th, 2012

A human eats a man's face; what's next in this world?

By Virginia Lafontant, High School Editor

Imagine being homeless, no food, and no shelter for over 30 years. Then to one day wake up to a rampant man who completely lost all of his senses and begins to attack every piece of flesh on your face. Imagine the pain you would endure, the repetitive flashbacks of that attack every moment you close your eyes. Most likely you never lived such a life and never encountered such a catastrophe. However, one man did, his name is Ronald Poppo. He was attacked on Memorial Day by another homeless man age, 32, by the name of Rudy Eugene. This tragedy occurred in Miami, Florida on MacArthur Causeway near the Miami Herald headquarters.  The attacker is now deceased after being shot by a police officer. It is believed that Rudy was high on bath salts leading to his unruly behavior. Unfortunately, now Poppo remains in the hospital undergoing serious surgery. However, face transplant can cost about $350,000 or more, but the Jackson Memorial Foundation established a fund for Puppo’s care and many have donated.

Poor guy, it’s crazy that the world has come to this. Who knows what will occur next! Parents are killing their children, children are attacking their parents and homeless are eating people’s flesh! This is not only disturbing, but quite worrisome. It seems to me that we aren’t safe anywhere, just imagine living with a murderer in your own home or being attacked while you’re on your way to school. Many of those who knew the attacker, Rudy, said he was such a kind person and very generous. They couldn’t believe the unfortunate and shocking news when they were notified. Some people say it was voodoo and some believe it was just the bath salts affect. However, as much information can be collected, we will never have “enough” information to know the real story of what made Ruddy react like this. At the end of the day, only one person will know what really made him react like this, and that’s Ruddy. So, what do you guys think “really” happened? Feel free to share your perspective on this case!

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: July 25th-31st, 2012

Fight to Keep Activities Around

By Makayla Lagerman, High School Editor

Hey everyone! Since the July High School Essay Contest (that you definitely should enter!) is centered around music, I felt like I needed to talk about it. Music is so so so so so SO important to me. My high school has been blessed, unlike many others, with our wonderful sports and music programs. I have been able to participate in music classes since kindergarten, and the young kids still can this year. I wouldn’t be lying when I say that a large amount of kids in our music program have gone onto music-related careers.

Without music programs, I would never have been able to see, learn, and appreciate all aspects of music. Many studies show that music makes kids smarter, and I fully support that. The fact that we all bond together as one family is great, too. It’s so welcoming, especially as an incoming freshman, to be a part of a wonderful group. This is why I feel terrible for schools across the country that have eliminated music programs during budget cuts. Not only do these kids have the lack of a solid group like I have, but they don’t have opportunities to discover a possible passion for music.

Musical, band, chorus, select chorus, music technology, music major, theory of the guitar, and countless other classes in our amazing department have opened me up. I’ve learned about creating, making, singing, playing, and knowing music. That is why I am so blessed to have an amazing school that appreciates music. I know that if music was not part of my life, I would be a completely different person.

The sad part is that budget cuts are ridding schools of music, sports, teachers, and electives. All of these things are included in the high school experience. Do you feel as strongly as I do about something that has been getting cut recently? If so, let me know! Even better, let your school, school board, and community know! These things can only be saved if we join together as a group and take a stand against things that we love. Music, sports, fun classes, and clubs all build life skills. We make friends there, learn new information, and find possible careers. So my challenge to you is this: find something you’re passionate about and protect it. Fight to keep it.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: July 21st-25th, 2012

Passages of Life

By Zoe Fisher, High School Editor

At this time in my life, I’m witnessing many passages from boy to man; especially the one my older brother. This piece is for him and I encourage everyone to write something about, or for, someone really close to you. For most of us, this is the time in life where everything and everyone is changing and you should record these moments and take notice (of both the good and the bad).

Do you know what it is to be a man?

Green follicles stand to attention when you appear.

they salute you as you go to war.

-the battlegrounds 

but no one really knows what they're fighting for.

A hum of light, glitter in the air, cold tingling gum ball cheeks.

The cheers fade, the lights dim, and stars shiver in a cobalt blanket.

Blood begins rushing to a crescendo.

Football is your forte but those nights those nights alone are so piano.

Do you know what it is to be a man?

Boy with a 50yard line father

and black cleat mother

They're the only things that can make you happy anymore.

They are the only things that catch you when you fall anymore.

For your blood is just a sign of liquid bravery

And broken bones will heal when your broken heart does not.

Sir, you were never meant to kill

Your eyes weren't created destroy everything you love and cut like axes and heart trees.

Your six packs-rock hard is just a collection of stones,

carrying in your gut the weight of calloused regrets.

Do you know what it is to be a man?

On the nights where reality is much darker than your worst nightmare

Laying beside warm bended bodies

But feeling so cold like corpses after a genocide

Who knew the darkest side of the moon felt like home? like the holiest shadow?

They say the boy with the most friends is the loneliest inside.

So do you fight, brawl with the bastards that captivate your insides for silence?

There are protesters occupying flesh streets.

Does your heart is scrape at the bars of your ribs like a desperate prisoner?

Does the sound of shattering glass rape at your eardrums during midnight?

It's the gems of innocence stored in pupils.

Do you know what it is to be a man?

Do you put your bravery first and your beauty last?

You're more than a football.

Because your manhood dwells in the fire of your soul

In the calmness of your stroll.

It lies in the beauty of the boy you're trying to kill.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: July 16th-20th, 2012

Friday the 13th

By Allison Schwartz, High School Editor

Unlucky, suspicious, spooky. That’s what’s supposed to characterize Friday the 13th. We’re supposed to stay at home, secluding ourselves from society while we watch scary movies in solitude. Clearly that’s the best way to protect ourselves from possible freak accidents, or maybe, g-d forbid, even seeing a black cat roaming the street. While some might scoff at these fears, laughing at those who are affected by such folly, it’s estimated that around 19 million Americans are so unnerved by this “holiday” that they really do stay home from work each year. As you can see, the build up of movies, TV shows, and other rumors from over the years has caused Friday the 13th to become the most feared day of the year.

Now I have a confession. I absolutely hate scary movies, and truthfully, I don’t believe in much of this supernatural nonsense anyway. So then, why am I writing about all of this?

As you may have guessed, today is Friday the 13th. And despite preconceived notions about how this day was supposed to turn out, my Friday the 13th was one of the best days I’ve had all year. After not seeing my dad for a month, I got to spend the day alone with him, touring San Francisco the old fashioned way, by foot and cable car.

What my dad’s always stressed since I was little, and what I’ve been slightly reluctant to listen to, is to think about life as a journey. The more you focus on where you’re going, or the “destination”, the less you’re able to benefit from the ride. Today we did just that, setting out with no agenda aside from enjoying ourselves. We played tag while racing up San Francisco’s infamous hills, made friends with a cranky old bus driver, and even managed to find ourselves free ice-cream and chocolate milk (seriously though, San Francisco has some of the best free samples I’ve ever seen).

What I’ve learned from today, and overall, is that having a relaxed attitude will get you much farther in the scheme of things. My dad and I usually don’t have a close relationship, so being able to have a genuinely fun and relaxing time with him was unexpected and wonderful.

The thing about life is that if we always do what we’re supposed to do, there’s never going to be any excitement. I don’t like scary movies, so I’m not going to stay home and watch them. And I refuse to spend my day wasted just for the sake of “being careful”. Instead I dare you to not only ride the cable car of life, but stand on the edge, lean back, and feel the misty wind of excitement breeze across your face. Even if it is Friday the 13th.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: July 11th-15th, 2012

The Illusion of Teenagehood

By Jessica Li, High School Editor

He got Brain Bee champion. She made it into Olympics Swimming. It got invited to Queen Bee’s party. I am sitting alone in my room, gazing at the empty ceiling that offered no solace for the days to come. Second after second I waste away, the executioner of fate showing no mercy for my case. No endeavors will be for me to cherish, no trustworthy companion by my side, all is so pointless. And STUPID.

While confronting the looming prospects of college applications and social life (and all that jazz revolving them), it is not uncommon when someone, or some small circumstance, smashes the little piece we enjoy and swerves us to a state of complete loss. People, to whom we looked upon as friends forever and confessed all the distresses of life, one day, would walk amongst another clique, giggling contemptuously along the other strangers at our dresses, those they once called ‘pretty.’ Then the next evening a long-awaited message pops up in our email from the scholarship committee, thank you for your participation, but we’ve had a lot of very qualified candidates this year, we are unable to select you. In other words, we aren’t good enough. Just when we are about to bury our heads under the cushy pillow for recuperation, mother’s annoying screeches soared from the kitchen downstairs ‘HURRY! GET DOWN AND SET UP THE DINNER TABLE!”

All these unpleasant aspects of life seem to have a tendency of striking us at once, god why can’t you just give me some peace? But more than inflicting misery and crushing our esteem, these adversities can also spur the most savage, destructive components in our mindset. We are infused by immense anger, that for moments we perceive everyone as pawns to destroy and the whole wide world a sickening plate full of hatred. Even worse, we might be led to conclude that everything is really just pointless. And then, we are consumed by apathy, as if nowhere can let us belong and nothing is worth living for.

But these are really just illusions. Illusions, that unfortunately, some can not get past. True, life will always be tainted with the feign friends who’d hug us when needy of help and shun us when help is given, and a handful of our days would be ruined by denial letters. But we can change and move past, while these bumps and obstacles are stagnant. We can cherish ourselves and forget those who made us feel like we don’t belong, while the ex-friends could only helplessly conform to another clique (and…suffer the wrath of the senior cliquers). We can run steadfast, and clinch victory in the most beautiful race, because we have that matchless style that no one else can copy. And that moment, when we stand upon the podium with a shiny metal of triumph around our necks, we can proudly say with our eyes to the ex-friends and adversities sitting amongst the spectators, “It is because we have kept our diligence, dreams, and foremost of all, identity, alive.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: June 25th-30th, 2012

It's Okay Not to Be Perfect

By Makayla Lagerman, High School Editor

I’m young. I know it. Sometimes, I want to be 15 going on 25. Other times, I want to just shrink back into my four-foot-two-inch younger self. Neither is possible (as of now…), and when my mind decides to wander right before I fall asleep, it wonders “Why not be you? You only have so much time left.” Yes brain; thank you for reminding me that my freshman year of high school just flew past at warp speed. I really appreciate the fact that you want me to live in the here-and-now.

Ladies and gentlemen, that was straight-up sarcasm. But ironically, instead of talking about the future, like many of the people in your life, I’m going to talk about the seconds that are passing you by right now, even though I don’t like thinking about them.

What are you doing right now? Well, obviously you’re reading my Letter from the Editor. But what is happening in your life right now? Are you spending summer reclining on your couch, volunteering at a non-profit organization, playing a sport, or undecidedly waiting for things to happen?  Personally, I’m doing all of those things, and I’m doing them because (not to toot my own horn, but…) I’m pretty awesome at them. Especially the first one. But see, that’s my problem!

Since I was born with the brain of a take-charge perfectionist, I’m also very competitive. If I’m not the best, I’m not too happy. I’m working on it. So, this summer, I have chosen a quote to live by. I read this in Seventeen Magazine; “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Kat Graham, thank you for these words of wisdom. I need to start facing the world and realizing that I have avoided doing so many fun things because I didn’t think I’d be good at them.

Perhaps some of you have the same problem. If you do, take a stand against yourself this summer. Pick something to do that’s completely out of your comfort zone. You may not be number one (or two, or three, or four), but that’s life folks. I have to start accepting that.

All My Love,

Makayla

High School Editor for Stage of Life

P.S. If you have your own summer/year-long inspirational quote, email me! I might try to feature some next month!

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Teen Editor's Welcome: June 21st-25th, 2012

Breathe

By Zoe Fisher, High School Editor

In the last few months, I’ve been asked multiple times (for college applications, job interviews, general queries, etc.), “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?”

Breathe. And I know that seems to be a strenuous task only for the strife-less and whimsical but there is a hollow in every person. It is a hole of darkness and grunge. A place crafted by the T’s and A’s of DNA, that is barren. It’s where your soul goes to die. The burial ground morphs into a playground where morose swings and slides and silence frolics on black tops. Pity is playing on monkey bars and climbing up your ribs; she is blocking the air to your lungs and now you can’t even breathe. I can’t even breathe.

In situations of death, I know this place well. I visited often when my grandfather died. It is imprinted with the soles of my raw feet and the echoes of my cries have made their fossils in the walls. It is a place where my heartbeats lack consistency and fears are etched into my spine and makes me bend and crouch like a feeble animal. We were called kindred souls because our bind was so native and ancestral. My grandfather bellowed from the hips of his mother 62 years, to the day, before I passed through mine. He died 20 days before my 15th birthday and his 77th. I remember a lot about that day. It was the first time I saw my father cry. It was foreign to him the tears didn’t seem to know how to articulate down his mudded face before they were captured in his beard. When he told me, the words flung themselves into my ears and forced their way into my stomach. And there they sat, rotted and curdled. At the funeral all the brown faces were sodden. It was hot for an October day. The fans in the church were attached to old ladies wrinkled hands, as they added a breeze to their already roaring moans and wails. But the tears and sadness stored inside me had no want to come out. I was too upset to just cry. It took everything, every fiber in my muscle, every cell and glucose my body owned to just breathe. And every time someone asks me about the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, I spiral back to that moment.

Nostalgia is a bitter woman. She leads me to the beautiful moments just so I can remember the dreadful ones. The ones that sit my heart in acid and make me clench my eyes closed. The ones, in my mind, should have never happened. And during those nostalgic moments, I am reduced back to the basics of what I know. And I do the only thing keeping me alive in that moment: I breathe.

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Teen Editor's Welcome: June 19th-20th, 2012

Make this Summer Matter

By Allison Schwartz, High School Editor

As the final school bell rings for this year, only one thought is going through my mind, “it’s summer”. After working tirelessly throughout the whole year to keep up with nagging parents, futile drama, and mounds upon mounds of dreaded homework; nothing feels better than knowing that you have three months to just relax. But still, I can’t help feeling a bit nostalgic; how did pass by without me even realizing? It seems like every year flies by faster and faster, pushing us further and further away from the innocence of childhood. In the moment, the excitement of growing up seems to outshine the world we are leaving behind. But suddenly, it all ends. The school year’s over, and tenth grade gets placed in my memory bank, sandwiched between middle school and kindergarten.

Though I’d like to not think about it quite yet, before I know it I’ll be submerged in the black hole they call “junior year of high school”. Every minute of my day will be consumed by college related chores. Even family vacations will have to be postponed in lieu of college visits. In spite of all of this, the realization that college is so soon has yet to hit me.  

I guess I’m not the best person to talk to about all of this, nostalgia is second nature for me. The night before I turned eight-years-old I cried because, already, I felt too old. Now I look back and realize that eight-years-old is still prime-time childhood; I had nothing to worry about. Knowing this only helps me to realize that in five years, I’ll probably be looking back wishing nothing more than to be sixteen again.

Though I can’t help myself from feeling overwhelmed at how “quickly” I seem to be growing up, what I can do is make each moment matter. If I’m going to be looking back at these years, I want to do so with joy. Worrying so much about what’s to come isn’t going to help me live in the present any more than crying when I turned eight did. Come next year, I’ll be overwhelmed with only things having to do with the future. But for now, it’s just summertime. And I plan to utilize every moment, try completely new experiences, and look at everything with a positive attitude so that I never regret leaving a moment wasted.

 So my advice for all of you is to take this summer head on. Catch those fireflies, forget about the mosquitoes, and don’t take any moment for granted. Don’t say no to anything you think you’ll regret. These are going to be the years you look back on.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: June 11th-15th, 2012

Summer School?

By Jessica Li, High School Editor

With the warm summer breeze blowing in, students all over the country enjoy a little break from the busy school days and early wake-up times. Social hours become more frequent as teenagers chilling at the pool or hanging around in malls are not at all uncommon. But summertime is also a good occasion for a student to polish up his or her academics, get some real-world working experience, and, in frank terms, make some good records on his or her college resume. Admission deans from various prestigious universities strongly advise students to engage in some form of “productive” activity over the summer, such visiting some college campus, attending enrichment programs, or getting an internship.
 
“Visiting schools can be difficult to fit into your schedule during the school year. Often students will embark on college tours during the summer—which is a fine way to get first impressions,” says Stuart Schmill, an admission officer at M.I.T.
 
High school students find it especially beneficial to visit a variety of campuses during summer. Obviously, making preparations beforehand is critical; it is advised to visit one school per day as to acquire a comprehensive sense of the school environment. While on campus, students should attend an informational meeting, take a brief tour, and visit various administrative offices. For universities like Stanford where the freshmen selection process does not require an interview, it’d be a clever idea to arrange meetings with admission officers. Students are free to inquire about the variety of programs and majors informally, but questions about selection standards in respect of SAT and GPA are not welcomed. If it happens that the officers are quite impressed by the student, he or she might have earned a huge bonus on the application. Furthermore, visitors should also attend a few summer session classes to experience the class dynamic. 
 
“During the admissions process we evaluate applicants, but equally important is applicants taking time to evaluate us,” according to Daniel J. Saracino of Notre Dame.
 
Meanwhile, many public school districts around the nation offer summer enrichment programs for students of all ages. Oftentimes, students can choose to take advanced-level courses for math, science, and technology at local high schools. Although most programs require an intuition, it is worth a shot to engage in accelerated programs. One of the most competitive summer science programs in the nation, the Research Science Institute (organized by Center for Excellence in Education and hosted by MIT), attracts the attention of thousands of rising seniors each year. With an acceptance rate of about 2%, the seventy-five slots of this six-week long program are indeed invaluable. Similar programs are the Microsoft Summer Camp for Girls, Caltech’s Young Engineering and Science scholars, etc. Students should consider taking pre-requisite courses at community colleges if they are pursuing a competitive major, or re-taking a course if it rocked one’s GPA. Nevertheless, one should be realistic about his or her plans; as colleges would like to see quality rather than quantity work.
 
Opportunities for high school students to volunteer or serve as an intern are also more readily available during summer. The Alzheimer’s Association and the National Walk for Autism are currently looking for student volunteers to serve on the local branch for advocacy. Students should look for opportunities in their communities, such as citizen advisory committees or youth groups to obtain leadership experience. For environmentalists, summer is a great time to carry out operations to save the ecosystem. The Environmental Protection Agency offers internship every summer at local offices. Furthermore, students can initiate their own campaigns for the Everglades or the Chesapeake. Universities around the nation offer research platforms for high school students under a mentor. Many opportunities require an application. Whether it’s being an assistant at a law firm or doing research lab work, familiarizing oneself with the real-life world is critical to post-graduate developments.
 
Students should always take advantage of the opportunities around them, especially during summer time. Nevertheless, students must take some time to go on a vacation or relax a bit in order to prepare for another year of work.

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Teen Editor's Welcome: June 6th-10th, 2012

Small Hard Things

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

Let’s face it: In high school, a lot of what we do revolves around fleshing out our transcripts.  We’re all hoping that by the time we start applying to colleges, our transcripts will have become so big, so juicy, so utterly irresistible, that we’ll have the college admissions departments flinging us scholarships by the truckload. 

Why else do we spend most of summers slaving away as teacher’s aids and YMCA camp counselors and VBS volunteers?  We want to have big, loud labels to crow over, scads and scads of recommendations that will make all those colleges go gaga at the great things we’ve accomplished.

And yet.

I recently read Alex and Brett Harris’s book Do Hard Things, which ultimately addresses the appallingly low standards modern society has for teenagers.  In addition, the book devotes an entire chapter to a very interesting subject: small hard things. 

“Small hard things” are the little, routine things that we must do but rarely enjoy doing for the very reason that they’re “small” and “hard.”  As the Harris brothers write, small hard things “most often occur behind closed doors of our homes, schools, or churches.  They are rarely new or exciting, and they are often repetitive – even tedious.” 

In short, small hard things are tasks we take for granted or diminish the importance of.  They are the obscure, everyday duties that we perform grudgingly or apathetically and usually with poor attitudes.  Despite their seeming mundanity, though, these small hard things are essential to establishing good habits and practices that we will lean on for the rest of our lives.

Small hard things include

·         keeping our rooms/houses clean and organized (despite the fact that this often seems like a never-ending, futile battle against dust bunnies and mismatched socks)

·         arriving on time (or establishing a reputation for punctuality when you could probably come five or ten minutes late and no one would notice anyway)

·         studying regularly instead of cramming the night before the test (or the morning of)

·         not simply obeying but respecting parents and other authority figures

·         treating siblings with kindness and love (even – or perhaps especially when – we feel they least deserve it)

·         sacrificing personal desires/dying to the self for the sake of a spouse/family

·         completing chores/other tasks without being asked

·         not expecting praise or recognition for every little thing we do but doing it simply because it needs to be done

Rarely do the activities listed above ever make it onto our transcripts.  “Transcript-worthy” activities are usually “big hard things,” such as tutoring, sports, musical instruments, extracurricular activities, etc. – things that we’re hoping will catch those colleges’ eyes.

This is not to say that “big hard things” are bad.  Any hard thing – big or small – is an essential part of character development, and there’s a reason colleges put such an emphasis on certain activities.  Nonetheless, what we don’t list on our transcripts is often equally important to what we do list on our transcripts.  Colleges see all our fantastic volunteer experiences and awards and honors, but do they see how we treat our parents and siblings in private?  How we treat the kid sitting alone in the cafeteria?  While we carefully construct a flawless transcript, are we spending an equal amount of time cultivating strong character and personal integrity?

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Teen Editor's Welcome: June 1st-5th, 2012

Summer is here!

By Virginia Lafontant, High School Editor

Do you smell that, “ahhh” summer is near. I don’t know about you guys but that sweet and luscious summer scent makes my mouth water! It’s so close that I can almost taste it. This summer should be an amazingly, fun and productive summer for you guys. Whether you’ll be busy with college essay’s, internships, volunteering, dual enrollment and or even job hunting, make sure you have the time of your life doing it! This summer I’ll be venturing out to many places; such as the court house, the homeless shelter, the State of representatives office and many more. I’m even thinking of initiating a community wide marathon, how exciting!

If you’re like me then you’re probably one of those individuals that are very optimistic, enthusiastic and adventurous. My intentions are to help others as much possible and network with many people that have a major role in our society. One of the most stupendous things that I love about the summer is that you gain an emotional, spiritual and mental growth spurt. During this time, you discover more about your identity, your aspirations and your values. However, often times the cycle of your friendships and or relationship shifts during the summer. Trust me, I have my experiences and it’s quite bizarre that all of these alterations take effect in your life in just two months of your summer vacation! Nonetheless, that’s life and life just goes on whether you like it or not.  Just remember that while you don’t have an inordinate control over the patterns of life, just keep in mind that you have some say in it.

Therefore, I leave you with this, have a blast during this summer and make it worth while! Most likely you’re probably one of those students who have been counting off days until summer. So when your summer break begins, what will you do? Will you stay home, watch T.V and just eat or will you make the summer of 2012 a summer to remember?  If you have any summer plans, feel free to share!

Will you stay home, watch T.V and just eat or will you make the summer of 2012 a summer to remember?  If you have any summer plans, feel free to share! Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: May 21st-27th, 2012

Dear High School...

By Amanda Perlmutter, High School Editor

Dear High School,

These past 4 years have changed my life. You helped me discover myself. I realized that it’s okay to be an artistic being and that I can make a life out of those true inborn qualities as opposed to forcing a life out of something I’d never be fully immersed in. In short I decided that Psychology wasn’t going to be my life. It would always be a part of me because of how interested I am in it, but I was looking forward to the end because of you high school. In high school, you learn for the sake or learning, but I had to look ahead-high school psychology sure, college-okay maybe I’ll take a class or two, but in real life-do I really want to be in a suit behind and desk in an office all day? Absolutely not, and the mere thought that that was what I was working toward scared me half to death.

I took some time to reassess my future. What am I already good enough at to change focus and major in when college starts? Then I realized something that I’ll always wish I had realized earlier—I can be a dancer & dance teacher. No suit, no desk & office…I could wear whatever I want and I get to do something I truly feel passionate about. Plus dance teachers teach after public school hours (obviously because kids are all in school) which would mean I wouldn’t have to sacrifice my ‘home schooled’ lifestyle for a 9-5 job because I’ll have all day to be an artist.

I’ve probably mentioned this before on Stage of Life my view on artistry; but by being an artist I mean doing anything expressive. Not having a 9-5 means all day I can draw, paint, write, play guitar, take yoga, take dance classes, work on dances so they’re ready to teach…the possibilities of my free time will be endless. If I find I have too much time, I could even pick up a small part-time job, but that’s only if I really needed to. 

I can’t say you were easy, high school. The long hours of studying and work I put into you at many times was discouraging and overwhelming—especially since I’m home schooled & doing it all on my own. I can’t wait till I see that diploma in the mail soon enough. Even that seems silly to me, that 4 years of torture was all for a piece of paper called a diploma, but I suppose there really is no way past the real school system if you want to survive out there.

I have mixed feelings about how challenging or easy college will be, but either way I’m ready for the next step, I’m ready for that change of pace. Being surrounded by people with common goals will be a refreshing change. There’s even a chance that I’ll be dancing even more than I do now, which is a lot (over 20 hours a week), I’m excited for that.

High school, besides helping me find myself, you took me through on a roller coaster ride of relationships, friends, and other people who’ve come and gone. I learned to let go! People aren’t permanent, well—not all people, the important ones are permanent. It’s okay for people to come into your life for a short time and leave because you should learn to cherish everything you’ve had with them, learn from them, and move on and continue living. You can never dwell on the past. I’ve met some pretty amazing people these past 4 years, some I know I’ll never forget, some I know I’ll never have to worry about forgetting because I know they’ll stick around.

I started writing for Stage of Life when it was just an idea, which if I’m not mistaken, was when I was starting high school. The day I went for college orientation it hit me—I have to email Eric that I have to change stages! Somewhere deep inside I had the smallest fear that he’d reply saying Stage of Life doesn’t need another college editor, that thought was thankfully not even a question because Eric replied: “Heck no - you'll be writing and blogging for us as long as you want. :) You are one of my founding bloggers...I will stick by you!” I’m so happy to stay on board; Stage of Life has been a big part of my life. I still remember that first time I stumbled upon the site by chance and inquired about an editor position.

There are so many unforgettable adventures of places I’ve been, things I’ve seen, people I’ve met, things I’ve done in these past 4 years that have left a mark on me. I feel like at 18, I’ve already done so much of what I’ve wanted to do in life and I cannot wait to see what unfolds in the next chapter of my life. All I can say is that as long as there are stages of my life to be seen, I’ll share my story with my readers.

This will be my last piece for the High School Stage.

Wish me luck!

4ever,

Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter

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Teen Editor's Welcome: May 17th-20th, 2012

Goodbyes and Hellos

By Amanda Bourne, High School Editor

I considered writing this in letter format, starting with "Dear Readers" and ending with "Yours Truly", but that sounds a little bit too much like something in a mystery novel, so I won't. Maybe I've been reading too many mystery novels lately?

This is my last editorial post in the high school stage. No worries - I'm not going anywhere. Eric at Stage of Life has been awesome, and hence I will now be writing in the college stage.

The end of this week, I will graduate high school. Yes, (by jove), isn't it crazy? I'm one AP exam and a bit of homework away from being done. Forever. Until college in the fall. (That's not forever, but who cares?)

I'm already there. I'm ready to be done with senioritis and other high school games. But I'm slowly coming to realize that despite how much I want (yearn) to, I cannot skip this summer and the changes (transformations) that will come with it.

Is it odd to want to just go to college and skip summer? I know. You're welcome to call me crazy, a workaholic, etc, but it's true. I'm not sure it's the summer I want to skip, but maybe I just want to bypass the process of ending this stage of my life. Severing those detrimental friendships that need to be severed, wrapping up my continual involvement in various groups and activities, and trying to realize what is important to keep close to or pull away from.

I'm not even done with high school, and this process has already begun.

On the bright side, I'm looking forward to moving into this new stage of my life. At a time when I'm continually examining and reprioritizing, the good things that I've already achieved in the college admissions process give me a goal to work towards.

Sometimes, I think having a goal to work towards is more important than the struggles along the way. They say that the journey is more important than the destination, but it wouldn't be much of a journey without a destination, would it?

Keep working, my friends, towards your goals. You can do it.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: May 15th-17th, 2012

School's Out for Summer!

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

Hopefully you all know “School’s Out For Summer” by Alice Cooper, because that’s what I’m blasting in my room right now.  Why?  I’m officially done with my junior year of high school!  **Insert fifty-seven more exclamation points here.** 
 
Normally, once school’s out I’m inclined to stay up till o’dark thirty reading dystopian novels, sleep in as late as my 6:30AM circadian rhythm allows, and loll around the house like a lazy bum.  Now that I don’t have weekly lessons, I don’t practice the piano.  Now that soccer season’s over I get lazy and don’t practice as often as I do during the season.  Now that I don't have to read literature for classes, I head straight for my usual barrage of New York Times bestselling YA novels.
 
However.
 
I just finished taking a class called “Rising Above Cultural Mediocrity” this semester.  Uh-huh, heavy-duty stuff right there.  Part of the class’s purpose was to help you seize your time and use it wisely.  While taking the class I realized that I’m pretty good about seizing my time during the school year . . . but not so much during the summer.
 
So this summer I’ve decided to create some goals to aim toward so I’m not a big slobbering scalawag come August.  My goals include:
 
1)      Read at least two classics per month.
2)      Juggle the soccer ball/practice drills for half an hour a day.
3)      Walk the dog every day.  Poor dog.  He gets kinda chunky during the winter.
4)      Not sleep in past 8AM and not go to bed past 1AM (with occasional exceptions for sleepovers and such . . . heh heh).
5)      Practice piano four times a week.
6)      Volunteer for some event at least once a week.

How about you? What goals do you have for this summer? Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

Teen Editor's Welcome: May 1st-6th, 2012

Grad Bash Review

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

Last weekend, our senior class attended Grad Bash: a fun filled event at Universal Studios exclusively for Florida high school seniors. In previous years, Grad Night was the popular end-of-year event, but the change was made to Universal Studios this year, and honestly I was not disappointed. I’ll admit, I had my doubts. I was dreading the long lines, hectic confusion and the inevitable exhaustion that would hit me around 1am, but I was thoroughly surprised. The lines, although long, seemed to move quickly, and because all the people there were high school seniors, chants about the “Class of 2012” were sung while waiting in line, proving that no matter how different a person was, everyone there had that one thing in common. Also, Harry Potter World was incredible and the diabetes-inducing Butter Beer was enough to keep me awake and energetic until 2am. Everything was fun and exciting and we were all getting along until some seniors found themselves in quarrels when interacting with students from other schools. As a side note, not all the seniors at Grad Bash, or at any “seniors only” function, are going to be friendly, and for those juniors who are thinking of going next year, be sure to not cut lines because, if you do, there are some girls out there who will threaten to “cut you.” (I know this from personal experience…. fights broke out, nails were broken.) Aside from the minimal confrontations, however, Grad Bash was a success and the rides, along with the musical stylings of Pitbull, ensured a good time for everyone. I really hope all you seniors out there are having an AMAZING last couple days of school and I hope your transition to college, or to wherever you may go after you graduate, is smooth and brings you happiness.

Love, Mere

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Teen Editor's Welcome: April 23rd-30th, 2012

The result of too much music...

By Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter, High School Editor

The beautiful noises we made

Stain my heart, soul, & brain

With feelings I’ll never feel again

We touched the highest of stars

And the depths of the sea

Now you’re just so far

Away from me

My mind plays tricks and there you are

In my dreams

Waking up is harder than it seems

Eyes open staring at the ceiling in a sleepless state

Emptiness is the only thing laying beside me

I want to cry out but my voice makes no sound

What’s the point of living

If you aren’t around?

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest! 

Teen Editor's Welcome: April 14th-20th, 2012

Simplicity

By Amanda Bourne, High School Editor

Today, instead of writing a long, drawn out post on my college-related experiences, or goodness-only-knows what, I’m going to share with you a short essay I wrote. It details my thoughts in regards to Thoreau’s thoughts on simplicity. In case you didn’t know, Thoreau is the bomb-dig. You either love him or hate him, but something about his writing strikes at a truth deep within us all. I know that I sound like the broken record that may be your English teacher. I’ll stop explaining now, and let you read my response to Thoreau’s call for simplifying life.

“Like pygmies we fight with cranes”. So states Thoreau in the opening sentence of an excerpt, quoted from Where I Lived and What I Lived For. Thoreau’s basic thesis is that “our life is frittered away by detail”. With this basic premise I agree, and although Thoreau and I come to the same conclusion from different beliefs and experiences, our lives are impacted by the way we live this conclusion.

I have lived on a farm for the entirety of my life. I have picked vegetables for that day’s meal, butchered chickens, and watched life paddle by on our creek (in the form of wildlife). As humans, our life revolves around providing for our bodies. In Thoreau’s time, most people provided for themselves and their neighbors. Less so nowadays. Modern Americans often have the convenience of food security - we no longer have to wonder what meal will be our next. Instead, we decide what to pull from the freezer or where to eat out.

From my experience, the less we focus on where our next meal will come from, the more we allow our lives to be frittered away by detail. We allow these details (work troubles, pay raises, Internet, political affiliation) to live our life for us, and these details dictate what we will eat, wear, and how we will act (in many cases).

Many illnesses are caused by stress from these details. Stress weakens our immune system, and allows bacteria and pathogens to enter. All of this is caused by detail, yet we refuse to focus on simplicity.

Simplicity is not worrying about everything. Simplicity is eating healthy, and taking time to exercise. Simplicity is finding a way to connect with where our food comes from, or even better, to grow it yourself. When you rely less on modern convenience, especially highly-processed foods that destroy your body, you allow simplicity to let your “affairs be two or three”.

Children in Africa who eat only once a day have smiles upon their faces, yet we who eat three a day are stressed by detail. Humans have existed for thousands of years, yet only with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of food security have our lives been ruled by detail.

In an ever-evolving, ever-complicated world, we can find simplicity by focusing on the nourishment we put into our bodies, and not the Internet. Simplicity cannot be manufactured. Only by reverting to the past can we abolish the tyrannical rule of thousands of details. “Our life is frittered away by detail”, so “let your affairs be as two or three”, for the sake of simplicity and your own wellbeing.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest! 

Teen Editor's Welcome: April 9th-15th, 2012

Avoid Writers Block!

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

Considering you’re taking the time to browse this fantastic blogging site, I assume that most of you are readers and writers.  And as writers, I’m sure you’ve all experienced that dreaded yet inevitable disease “writer’s block.”  Ugh ugh ugh.  This is exactly the experience that caused me to list “Banging My Head Against a Wall” to my list of “Activities” on Facebook.
 
And over the years, in the profundity of my seventeen-year-old wisdom (Gasp!  Am I really so aged so soon?), I’ve accumulated several How-To-Kick-Writer’s-Block-In-The-Patootie Tips.  They are as follows:
 
1)      Read.  I think my writing ability is analogous to an algebraic function: the output relies on the input.  If I'm not "inputting" a constant flow of creativity (via novels similar to the one I'm writing), my output diminishes dramatically.  Heck, it doesn't just diminish.  It goes splat, never to be seen again.  *slides finger over throat*

2)      Freewrite.  And by “write” I really mean WRITE.  Not typing. Not texting.  But actually, honest-to-Godiva writing.  On paper.  (Do people even do that these days?)  Personally, I like to write in a giant 11 by 14 sketchbook with a deliciously inky black uni-ball pen.  Oh yes.  Just sit yourself down, open up your sketchbook/notebook/Mad Libs-book and go to town.  Don’t worry about grammar or consistency or coherence.  Just write out your thoughts until a) your hand begins violently cramping, or b) you really have nothing more to say.  From past experience, “a” is much more common than “b.”  We’re writers.  Is it even possible for us to have nothing to say?!  Stream-of-consciousness is the key phrase here.

3)      Talk a walk.  No, seriously.  It’s great for stimulating creativity.  The experts agree with me.  “Moving around is good for creativity,” writes Will Shetterly.  “The next line of dialogue that you desperately need may well be waiting in the back of the refrigerator or half a mile along your favorite walk.”  Similarly, A. Bronson Alcott instructed that a writer should “sleep on your writing; take a walk over it; scrutinize it of a morning; review it of an afternoon; digest it after a meal; let it sleep in your drawer a twelvemonth,” etc., etc., etc.

4)      WRITE, don’t EDIT.  This is my own Achilles’ heel.  I’m a chronic editor.  I can edit an essay to death.  And I do the same thing to my books.  I edit and edit and edit and edit until pretty soon I have the most beautiful first chapter you’ve ever laid eyes on.  Unfortunately, the rest of the book is still buried somewhere in the recesses of my (slightly screwed up) brain.  So even if you’re unsatisfied with the first few chapters of the book (even if they make you want to run to the nearest toilet/bucket/spherically-shaped-receptacle), just let it sit.  Write through the first draft, and remember that you can always come back afterward to fix the dangling participles and cringe-inducing typos.  As Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is [crap].”  (This is Hemingway we’re talking about, so I had to insert a euphemism.)

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest! 

Teen Editor's Welcome: April 1st-7th, 2012

Hungry for Some Hunger Games?

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

This past week, the long awaited Hunger Games movie was released in theaters packed with die-hard (no pun intended) fans willing to kill each other for tickets to the premiere (okay, pun intended here). I would consider myself to be one of those fans. However, I am not a movie fan as kids my age so often tend to be--I am a book fan who has read all of Collin's trilogy and didn't just go to watch the film adaptation. I really hate that so many people who call themselves "fans" didn't even bother to read the books. It's not so much that I'm disappointed by their laziness (which I am) but more so I believe that being a fan of the Hunger Games movie takes on a whole other meaning than being a fan of the book. The book and the movie are two completely different animals.  The core plot is not different but the complexities of the sub-story lines are lost in the condensed "we don't have time to introduce central characters" movie version. Also, the movie portrayal of certain main events such as the fire costume entrance are lackluster and disappointing--not as I pictured in the novel. Lastly, the  initial fight scene in the hunger games arena and the final scene with the wolves are both confusing and hard to watch because of the shaky camera and odd vantage points which almost brought me to an epileptic fit. Over all, the opinions of those coming out of the theater after the movie differed according to whether or not they read the book. Those who didn't read it thought the action was awesome and were genuinely surprised when Prim was chosen to be tribute, but those who read the book were just counting the differences between the two and waiting for Haymitch to fall off the stage--which he never did.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest! 

Teen Editor's Welcome: March 21st-27th, 2012

The World at your Fingertips: Instagram

By Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter, High School Editor

So I joined the craze and got an iPhone a few months ago, and I downloaded the fun apps we all love:
Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, YouTube, Shazam, Temple Run, Fruit Ninja, Draw Something, Flixster, Pic Collage, AE, Rage Comics, Tweegram, Mustache me, Lunapic, camwow, photosplash, cool finger faces, sketch me, pimp my text, pici booth, camera FX, goodreads, Netflix, starwalk—among many others, but my favorite app would have to be instagram.
   
A lot of people who’ve never used instagram think it’s just a photo editing app when really it doesn’t offer much to alter your photos, just a few filters. What really makes it addicting is that it took what everyone loves about Facebook (newsfeed, photos, likes & comments) and combined it with what we all want on twitter (followers & real celebrity accounts) and created a way for us to make friends, share, & view photos from around the world.
   
You can personalize your account so that its private or public, you can block people you don’t want on there—you really are in control of your account. There are lots of negative things that can go on in the world of instagram though. In my time on there I’ve seen accounts dedicated to drugs, eating disorders, cutting, and other inappropriate things. That’s where user discretion comes into play, you see something you wish you hadn’t, you block & report it, simple as that. Another negative thing is that I believe they should have an age restriction because anyone with an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad can have instagram, and I see lots of young kids on their well under 13 who should not be exposed to instagram and should not post pictures of themselves for pedophiles to look at! I strongly believe they should make it 13 or older like other social networking sites.
   
Negatives aside, I think of my instagram addiction as a positive one. There are worse things to be hooked on, and there is no harm in instagram! I love all of the interactions I have with my followers, I always reply to their comments, and whenever I get a “like” I always go check out that person’s page and like their pictures in return. I have followers from all over the world, France, Italy, Korea, Sweden, Greece—you name it! I also follow people from all over the world.
  
The difference between instagram and going on Google images is that when you click in Paris, you don’t only see the Eiffel tower, you can see anything, and all of the pictures are personal encounters. You can see a café someone went to that day, or a park they enjoyed, things you’d never have seen unless you actually got to spend time in Paris without being just a tourist. In exchange, since I live in New York, I like to take pictures of things I see here to share with my followers. From me they won’t only see the statue of liberty, and the New York skyline, but they’ll see places I go, people I meet, things that I do here in the city that they may not have experienced or may never get to experience. There are pictures of fashion, architecture---everything, and it helps you learn trends before magazines spot them because instagram is by people, for people.
   
It’s also a major confidence boost, when I post a picture on instagram, I get way more likes on them then I would if I posted on Facebook. That’s because most people on instagram are just strangers, they are completely objective. On Facebook, your friends and family may like a picture but not click like for whatever reason and so on. But instagram is just a friendly place. No one really fights on there because no one knows each other. Of all my 217 (and growing every day) followers, less than 20 of them are my friends in real life, the rest are all people who just find my photography interesting and decided I’m worth following. Sometimes it means more to be liked by outsiders then by your own friends and family because they kind of have to like you, these people don’t have to like you because you’ll never see them.
   
After all of this, my final statement is, GO DOWNLOAD INSTAGRAM & FOLLOW ME (if you are over 13) and always remember to be safe online, because when you use technology the right way, it can be a fun & enriching experience.

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, & Subscribe to my YouTube channel: @AlwaysWrite28

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest! 

Teen Editor's Welcome: March 14th-20th, 2012

Accepting Reality

By Amanda Bourne, High School Editor

Sometimes reality can be intimidating. During the college application process and after receiving acceptance letters, I was truly excited for college. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still very excited. However, as the reality that yes, I have been accepted into my top school, and yes, I am in the honors program begins to settle, I have to face the facts.

It’s really difficult. I don’t want to leave my job. I’m unsure about leaving my home and church. Oh wait – confession. I just lied about being unsure about leaving home. I’m actually pretty darn excited about it.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve started to wonder if I could just pull a little-blue-envelopes trick and buy a one-way ticket to Europe. If you’ve read 13 Blue Envelopes, then you might get the reference. (But really, what parent would let their 17/18 year old kid go to Europe with no way of contacting them? Really?)

Back on subject now. I promise.

Sometimes it’s easier to dream up a way to escape reality. To escape anticipated pain and difficulties by choosing an entirely different route. To prove everyone around you wrong by pulling a 180 degree change of interests. But in the end, I know I want to go to college and major in journalism. I know I want to move on with my life, and create my own fortunes while I’m “young and stupid”. (A friend spoke about his daughter that way recently, and I thought it was fitting.) But it’s the process of the leap that is admittedly terrifying.

The next few weeks will be spent studying and going to work as per usual. By the time you hear from me next, I’ll have a little more than a month left of high school. {Can it be possible to want high school to be over with as much as I want it to right now?} But in the back of my mind, I’ll be working on confronting reality without being overwhelmed by it.

I have no definitive conclusion for this post. No bright ideas on how to face the reality that I’ll actually be leaving the place I’ve always lived in. However, I’ve put it down on paper (for the whole world to read). And that my friends, is a very good start.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest! 

High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: March 7th-14th, 2012

College Hunting

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

Two words: college hunting.  *Thunder booms and lightning crashes for effect.*  Oi vey, where do I start?
 
When I was a freshman, college was nothing more than a big hazy question mark filled with strange, energy-drink guzzling, TI-83-wielding beings congregating in mysterious Greek societies.  In other words, an alien world.  And I didn’t much care to pursue any answers to the mysteries of college.  It was four years away, for crying out loud!  I had all the time in the world.
 
Now suddenly I’m a junior and people are asking me where I’m going to go to college and what I want to study.  What?  College?  I’m sixteen!  I have to start thinking about college now?  You gotta be kiddin’ me.  All the same, I spent the better part of first semester frantically scrabbling through CollegeBoard, searching for The One.  The Dream College.  My (scholastic) soul mate.
 
I had my heart set on Swarthmore in Philadelphia.  Ah, Swarthmore.  An aspiring writer’s dream school.  And located in Philly (gorgeous Philly!) of all places.  And . . . What’s that?  $41,000 a year for tuition?  $12,000 for room and board?!  And we gotta put THREE kids through college?!?!  Can’t the other two just go work at McDonalds for the rest of their lives while I party it up at Swarthie?  No?
 
Oh.
 
Dreams.  Shattered.
 
After realizing that Swarthmore wasn’t an option, I resigned myself to TrumanU, located in itty-bitty Kirksville.  Practically splat in the middle of a cornfield.  Great, I thought, now I’ll probably live in a log cabin and study English in a field of grazing cattle.
 
I thought that since I wasn’t going to go to a big-name school, I wouldn’t get a big-name education either.  So when my dad and I drove up to Truman this past Tuesday, I wasn’t expecting much.
 
But, wow.  W-o-w.  Truman was cool.  It was beyond cool.  It had gorgeous, modern, sprawling facilities, great dorms, great classrooms . . . a library with 400,000 books.  O_O
 
As we walked around with our tour guide and he explained the ins and outs of college life, I had something of any epiphany.  I thought that in going to Truman, I was somehow going to get a sub-par education.  However, I realized that regardless of whether you go to Harvard or community college, ultimately your education rests on your own shoulders.
 
So what if you can’t go to a $41K East Coast school?  You can always rely on your own indomitable auto-didacticism.  You don’t need a big-name school to get a big-name education.  You just need to have a passion for learning and the willingness to work hard for that education. 

All the 4 people/groups of people above have inspired me in so many ways and I want to thank all of you! Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest! 

High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: March 1st-6th, 2012

4 people who inspire me

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

I decided to write this blog on the four people who inspire me the most, as a way to pay tribute to those who have truly changed my life throughout high school.

1)    My Family (they count as one)    

My family has been there for me my whole life. Although we’re not perfect (and really, what family is perfect?), we still support each other and have so much love for one another. My parents work so hard and have been so successful in their lives and inspire me to be as good of parents as they are and to work harder in every aspect of my life. I strive to be as incredible as them, and hopefully one day I will be. My brother and sister also inspire me. My twin brother and I may get into fights often, but growing up together is a bond that can never be truly broken. He is a star athlete and is great at math and science, my two worst subjects, which he always offers to help me with. I love him, even though I don’t say it enough, and he inspires me to do better in school and to try my best to succeed. My sister and I don’t see each other very often, but when we do we have so much fun together. She is an excellent lawyer who is so outstandingly intelligent, and yet can be the life of any party. She inspires me to keep a balance between fun and work and shows me how to enjoy my life to the fullest.

2)    My Expository Writing teacher, Mr. D

My teacher, Mr. D, inspires me in so many ways. He has been an incredible teacher and mentor to me all throughout high school and developed my passion for writing and journalism. I would have never become the writer I am today without the skills he instilled in me. He was sometimes harsh, giving me B’s on my articles, but that was because he knew he could cultivate my writing abilities if he challenged me. Now, an editor of the school newspaper, I owe my achievements to him. He inspired me to be a writer, and still inspires me every day to become a teacher in the future. I want to mentor students and help them discover their talents, just as he did for me. Thank you Mr. D!

3)    My Boyfriend

My boyfriend is a continuous source of inspiration in my life and has taught me what dedication truly means. A straight “A” student, he still finds time for so many other things, including playing several instruments (well, I might add) and holding a job. I really don’t understand how one person can do so many things and be great at all of them. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair, and I used to be a little jealous. But during our relationship, I learned that he had something that I didn’t- dedication. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lazy or anything, but his dedication is far more astounding than mine. He practices guitar, studies hard, goes to work, goes to band rehearsal, practices drums, reads….and for every single one of those he puts in 110% effort. He inspires me to be a better me- to be a SUPER me. He inspires me to dream big and to dedicate more time to the things I love.


4)    Those who created StageofLife.com

You guys at StageofLife, especially Eric Thiegs, inspire me through your ability to bring this website to life. Honestly, without StageofLife.com I would have never been able to voice my opinions so openly and so publicly. Also, being a part of this amazing website has led me to many opportunities (people think bloggers are really cool!)

All the 4 people/groups of people above have inspired me in so many ways and I want to thank all of you! Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest! 

High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: February 21st-29th, 2012

IMPULSE

By Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter, High School Editor

Saying one is an artist is a vague term these days considering its contemporary meaning, before I even elaborate, the word artist alone can trigger your thoughts to a recording artist, someone who paints, perhaps martial arts, someone wearing a beret in France. The word artist means something different to everyone who possesses it, but in the end it means one thing-that you live and breathe expression, that you have something special inside you, a way of thinking that is all your own and that you want to share with the world.

Amanda Perlmutter

Dance, theater, modern art, poetry, music (guitar/lyric writing) ---those are my types of art. I don’t sing, and I don’t have a black belt in karate (I will someday!!!). All of my types of art are like trees, they have branches, they have different styles, different media and mediums, different sounds, different aesthetic qualities.
  
Let’s start with dance. I was practically born in the dance studio because my mom was a dancer, then as a baby I was in the studio too. Seeing the Nutcracker at the New York City ballet in kindergarten was one of the major moments that told me I wanted to be a dancer, I wanted to be on stage doing what they were doing. So I’ve been training my whole life in just about every style I could get a class on: ballet, lyrical, jazz, modern, hip hop, tap, pointe, musical theater. I train for over 20 hours a week and perform and compete anywhere from 4-7 full shows a year. I’m going to continue in this passion by majoring in dance in college and opening my own dance studio. Dance’s cousin is also a friend of mine, theater. I study acting and I have a deep love of the performing arts as a whole.

Amanda Perlmutter

Modern art is much like modern/contemporary dance in that it has a background, it has a young history, yet it is very open to interpretation and there are no rules, you can incorporate anything to make it your own, which is what makes art, art in my eyes! I’ve been practicing mixed media art for as long as I could remember. Though I grew up in a home where my mother, also an artist, was painting beautiful landscapes and nature scenes, I had a style all my own. Ask me to paint a tree like my mom, it would never happen, but give me some paint, some markers, some magazines, a scissor, glue, a camera—everything but the kitchen sink, and I’ll give you art.

Amanda PerlmutterEver since I was in 1st grade and wrote a few sentences about my trip to the science museum with my mom and drew a picture in the box above it, I knew I wanted to be a writer. In 3rd grade I began embracing poetry, and by 5th grade I’d say my stuff was actually starting to be worth reading. Every poem I wrote from age 11-15 I self-published as a poetry collection called “Alternative” the summer I was 15, and let me tell you there was a lot of poetry in there, the book is 110 pages. Sure I look back at it now and kind of laugh a bit at the style and the level I was at at that time because every single day I’m learning and improving my style choices as a writer. Similar to what I was saying earlier about modern dance and modern art, another word for modern is contemporary which is also applied to art and dance as a style—but it also applies to writing (writing is also art, because I use it to express myself). The modern/contemporary style of poetry is free verse, though I am also classically trained in various poetry forms I still tend to mainly use free verse which is anything I want it to be all wrapped up in a poem. Looking back at that last sentence I couldn’t help but smile at how this is all coming together and how there’s a continuity among all of my art forms, because I said I was classically trained in various poetry forms, just like I was classically trained in ballet and I use it as a basis for my freer contemporary forms. My current status as for poetry is my monthly piece here at StageofLife.com and I also teach a poetry workshop once a month at Barnes & Noble Fresh Meadows which I have been teaching since I was 15. Who else can say they’ve been teaching poetry since they were 15? It’s one of those things that I’m really proud of. I’m really proud of a lot of my accomplishments as an artist thus far and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.
   
Amanda PerlmutterTo wrap things up I’d like to say that the biggest reason that I call myself an artist is that it consumes my lifestyle. The way I dress, act, think, live—are all reflections on myself as an artist. Most of all I act on my impulses. If you see the picture I drew on the last page, I titled it “Impulse” because the day I started drawing it, I had no idea what I wanted to draw, I just knew that I wanted and needed to get something out, there was something in my head and I seriously had not a clue what it looked like. I let my state of not thinking consume me and I let my marker touch the blank white page and that picture is the result. I called it “Impulse” because that’s how it was drawn, on impulse, it wasn’t planned, but also the drawing itself reflects that, plus impulse is my way of life, my way as an artist, and I know that will never change because its engraved in my soul.
 
I know that in life I’d never be able to grin and bear it in a suit in an office. I’d be much better in a studio, in dancewear, pointe shoes, with a pen and a paintbrush as chopsticks holding my hair in a bun, with a guitar nearby.

It’s a very reassuring feeling to finally know exactly who I am, and sure we change every day, but I will always be an artist. Now ask yourself, who are you? Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest! 

Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @AlwaysWrite28, e-mail: [email protected]

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: February 14th-20th, 2012

Creativity – Express Yourself!

By Amanda Bourne, High School Editor

Let’s just get it out there – I’m a huge fan of creativity. I love to see how people have made their ideas come to life, through thousands of different formats. Creativity, for me, is self-expression. We all have our varying talents, and the way in which we express our ideas highlights these talents. You’re probably reading this, wondering when Amanda will stop talking about stuff that sounds like college application essay advice. It’s all good, I promise. I don’t mean that in a self-flattering way.
How do you express your ideas? Some of us, including myself, enjoy expressing our ideas through writing. When you’re writing, your choices of words and form are limitless – after all, some of the most renowned writers in history were the ones who followed the road not taken. (Got that literary reference? You totally rock.) 

If you’re not that nifty with words, there are so many more places for you to express yourself. Arts like photography, painting, and sculpting allow you to channel your inner Van Gogh. (Or if you do all of those, kudos. You’re now Leonardo De Vinci.)

Not quite into creating an artistic masterpiece? Try organizing your inspiration. The website Pinterest allows you to “pin” pictures from all over the web onto your personal “boards”.  If you’re like me, you might enjoy something a bit more physical. Try creating your own inspiration scrapbook. All it takes is an empty scrapbook and some magazines you’re willing to cut up. Plus, it’s a great way to document your interests and inspiration without having the pressure of scrapbooking your personal life.

If those suggestions were a little too artsy for you, there are plenty of other ways to creatively express yourself. Playing sports or playing with numbers, you’ll still find a way to channel your creativity. What are you waiting for? Go on, express yourself a little.

(For those of you who are not poetry fanatics, the literary reference was to Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”. Yes, I am a geek. Thank you very much. )

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: February 7th-13th, 2012

Values

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

Last night at dinner my dad – amidst an accompanying chorus of melodramatic groans – broke out the dry erase board and his trusty red marker and announced we was going to discuss our family values.
 
Values? What on earth qualifies as a value? was my first thought.  And I regret to admit that my second (very much unenlightened) thought was, Who cares?  My brothers seemed to share my opinion.  It was already seven o’clock and an intense evening of TeaGames.com and “Glitch” demanded their immediate and undivided attention.  (For those of you who are as videogames-illiterate as I am, Glitch is some sort of online game that – judging from my brothers’ devotion – is slightly less addicting than heroin.)
 
Nevertheless, together, my mother, brothers, and I spouted a long list of things people generally value as Dad scribbled them down on the whiteboard: relationships, possessions, traditions, achievement, status, power, affection, knowledge, goals, intelligence, technology, mobility, religion, kindness, aesthetics, wisdom, excellence, respect, security, communication, travel, approval, social standing, health/fitness, etc.
 
Then Dad asked each of us to pick our top three priorities out of everything on the list.  Ooooh, now it was all coming together.  I was a tad reticent about divulging my top priorities – I wasn’t sure if this was some ploy Dad had set up to demonstrate how skewed and meaningless our lives were.  Of course, this wasn’t his intention.  He was just wanted us to see for ourselves where our priorities lie.
 
It was surprisingly interesting what our choices revealed about our own personal values.  Originally my brothers only half-jokingly listed videogames and cars as their top priorities (Cars? I couldn’t help but wonder.  They can’t even drive yet – how on earth are cars one of their top priorities?!), but after my parents encouraged them to answer “seriously,” they (thankfully) reconsidered.   (I say “thankfully” because I can’t imagine a life completely structured around cars and videogames, but that might be because I’m lacking in the testosterone department.)
 
Here’s how our choices ultimately played out.
 
Brother #1: relationships, possessions (*cough cough* cars), achievement
Brother #2: intelligence, kindness, technology (*cough cough* videogames)
Mother-dearest: relationships, social standing, respect
Daddio: knowledge, achievement, health/fitness
Moi: achievement, knowledge, travel
 
While we all assumed I’m-bored-you’re-cutting-into-my-free-time expressions, I think everyone in the family was sincerely interested in dissecting our values.  It was something we’d never really considered in depth before.  My dad pointed out that our values will manifest themselves in where we put our time and money.  My values definitely fit where I spend my time/money: achievement (contests, musical instrument, writing, etc.), knowledge (school), and travel (my recent trip to Europe reduced my bank account to a one digit figure).  I never really noticed this about myself before.

What about you?  What are you values, and what do they say about you?  You might be surprised at what you learn about yourself.Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: February 1st-6th, 2012

What we’ve all been waiting for...

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

Four years of high school were spent working up to this moment. After studying for hours, balancing extracurriculars, cramming, going to school for 34 hours a week, and enduring enormous amounts of stress, the hard work has finally paid off.

I WAS ACCEPTED TO COLLEGE!

But maybe I should tell you the whole story….

Ever since 5th grade, the only school I’ve wanted to go to was The University of Virginia. I can remember bragging to my friends about how I would be going to “the most beautiful school in the world.” I can’t remember why I had initially set my heart on it, (I think we were learning about Thomas Jefferson),but as time went on my love of the school grew as I learned more and more. I visited the campus my freshman year of high school, and it was decided- I WOULD go here.

I know this doesn’t happen for everyone. I know sometimes students wait until senior year to decide on a school. But for me, my decision would not be difficult; I just knew.

Last week I checked the UVa website over and over again, easily more than 100 times. The decisions came out at 5pm, but the website crashed from the 11,753 prospective students all checking at once. I sat there and cried from the stress and from the suspense- in retrospect, I was a tad over dramatic. Then at 5:56, after 56 minutes of waiting (really 8 years of waiting) my destiny had been decided.

My future was no longer uncertain- I was accepted to my dream school!

Now I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or sound annoying, that’s not how I want this letter to come off. Why I’m telling you this is because I want you all to know that the moral of my past editor letters aren’t just cliché. You really CAN achieve your dreams with hard work. Don’t ever give up or think something is too hard for you or is impossible.

My odds were awful for acceptance; only 1,637 students of the 11,753 were accepted from out of state.
But I was one of those 1,637 students!

Work hard in high school! Work through the peer pressure and the distractions! Do not fall victim to the temptations of being a teenager! I want all of you to be successful and I want all of you to be happy and to be able to look back on your high school career without regrets.

That’s what I want you to learn from my blogs. That’s what I’ve been trying to convey for the past two years. Don’t give up on your dreams.

Love,
Mere (WAHOOWA)

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: January 21st-27th, 2012

Beautiful Disaster

By Amanda Perlmutter, High School Editor

Why am I after
Such a beautiful disaster?
Its you I love to hate
Around you I can’t concentrate
Yet I’m focused all the same
With just the sound of your voice
As it speaks my name
Feelings that my heart can’t contain
I was inches from the ground
But you stopped and started my fall
I guess it’s okay to fall after all
Letting go
Giving in
I said I’d never change
But I’m starting to begin
Changing from careless to carefree
From guarded to secure
Why am I after such a beautiful disaster?
Well I’m not so sure
But he’s everything I’ve been longing for.
©copyright 2012 Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: January 14th-20th, 2012

Knowing Stage of Life January 2012

By Amanda Bourne, High School Editor

There’s something wonderful about knowing. Knowing what direction to go in order to not get lost, knowing how to speak with someone from a different country, and knowing what you’re doing tomorrow. Similarly, when speaking in terms of the mysterious “long run” or “future”, it is wonderful to know what the next stage of your life looks like.

This knowing was my favorite gift this holiday season. The week before Christmas, I found a letter from my top college in my mailbox. To be more correct, this was a huge packet with the letters “You’re In!” spelled out upon the side. Needless to say, I was ecstatic.

Those of you who are also seniors may be looking forward to those acceptance letters rolling in. You may have already received your acceptance letters (congratulations!). Those of you who are juniors and sophomores may be scoping out the college application process, or studying for the SATs/ACTs. Freshmen – you don’t even have to think about that yet. Just rejoice that you’re entering your second semester of high school. Regardless of where you are in the High School stage of life, you probably have a lot going for you right now. Maybe you just got a job after school. Maybe you’re on the honor roll this semester, or are making really good grades.

Take some time and think about the good things, not the bad. (We all have the bad – it’s just a fact of life.) Then, take a few minutes and be happy. Be happy about the good things. Be thankful for where you are right now. Be grateful for knowing. After all, the long run is our future, and it’s nice to know where you’re headed, don’t you think? 

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: January 7th- 13th, 2012

Resolutions

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

If anyone out there reading this is like me, then you’ve made a humongous list of New Year’s Resolutions about taking more classes, studying harder, doing homework earlier, etc. . . . Which is all good and fine until your brain spontaneously combusts.
 
After working myself into a frenzy last week trying to get back into the school groove, I found myself half-dead and completely unmotivated by the weekend.  I literally didn’t want to do anything that involved neurons or synapses or frontal lobes, much less think intelligently.
 
Over the years, I’ve realized that I’m most productive when I give myself time to revamp in between study . . . and least productive when I make myself go and go and go without any hope for a break.  Hence, this is my list of How Keilah Recharges Her Batteries in Half an Hour or Less.  I’m sure everyone out there can do something similar.
 
·         I get on Just Dance and wiggle my booty around like an inebriated duck for twenty minutes (you can squeeze a good five songs into that amount of time) and then take a hot shower.  HOT shower.  See how red your skin can get without passing out.  (Footnote: Please don’t actually pass out since I’d rather not get sued in the near future.)
·         I read a “downtime” book (i.e., a non-school related book).  For example, today I halted a four-hour research blitz in its tracks, sprawled on the floor like one of those dead grizzly bear rugs, and read David Brooks’ The Social Animal simply to get my mind to get my mind off schoolwork.
·         I eat brain food.  I take a break, grab the bag of Veggie Chips from the pantry or an apple from the basket and aimlessly wander around the house nibbling away until the food has reached my brain and revitalized its Veggie Chip Intake-o-Meter (your science teacher was lying when she said your food goes DOWN your throat to your stomach).
·         I take my dog Toby for a brisk walk around the neighborhood.  No iPod allowed.  Just walk quickly, listen to the silence, and let your mind wander.  You’d be surprised where you end up (both physically and mentally).
·         Sleep.  Just zonk out.  Ever heard of power-naps?  Set the alarm for twenty or twenty-five minutes and you’d be amazed at how much better you feel when you get up, especially during finals week when you’re running on less hours of sleep than you have fingers on one hand.
 
Things I do NOT recommend:
 
·         Surf Facebook/the web.  Need I say more?  I think there’s already enough statistical data testifying to how much time we teens squander online.
·         Stare at the wall.  Seriously?  Even a power-nap is more productive than this.
·         Eat non-brain food.  I.e., the entire bag of Doritos, the entire box of Pop-Tarts, your brother’s year supply of candy corn from last Halloween, etc.
 
I know I know: Half an hour might seem like a loooooooong time to someone taking a bajillion classes with a bajillion tests to study for and a bajillion essays to write, but you’d be surprised at the boost in your productivity when you just rest your poor, overheated brain for a few short minutes. 

Give it a try sometime.  See how it works for you. Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: January 1st-8th, 2012

Boring

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

Who dropped the ball on decent movies? and other words of wisdom

The movie New Year’s Eve hit theatres not too long ago, and to get in the spirit for the holiday season I decided to go see it (mistake #1).

Imagine a bowl, so filled with vegetables that it’s hard to determine which is which and what is what. Eventually they all taste the same; like a bland, unappealing stew.

That is the best way to describe New Year’s Eve. The director obviously thought he could compensate for the absence of a plot by adding celebrities by the handfuls. In one shot you see Katherine Heigl and Jon Bon Jovi, in the next you see Robert De Niro, Halle Berry and Hilary Swank. Ashton Kutcher, Glee’s Lea Michelle, Sophia Vergara and many others also make appearances, adding to the over-whelming mixture. The character’s story lines are poorly interwoven, such as with Sara Jessica Parker who is the mother of Abigail Breslin who is the niece of Zac Efron who is trying to help Michelle Pfeiffer get a life, and so on. Last year I made a list of my New Year’s Resolutions, and after seeing this movie, “Avoid chick-flicks, especially ones that have holidays in their titles” has been added to the list.

But why be so pessimistic! It’s the New Year! Let’s celebrate making it to 2012, even though it is the year the world is supposedly going to end. Honestly, I think that is one huge lie, but many people believe and have started preparing for Armageddon. This fear and anticipation has reminded me of another New Year’s Resolution, “Enjoy life each and every day because you never know when your life, or the lives of your loved ones, will end.”

For instance, on Christmas Eve my family and I noticed that our dog was having trouble walking. That weekend was the worst- he lost all function of his legs in such a short amount of time. On Christmas Day, realizing our dog was dying, we came together and cherished the last moments with the dog we had loved for the last eleven years. His name was Max and we had to put him to sleep the day after Christmas. Through his death, I discovered my own mortality and reflected on my life and realized that life is so short and I need to start making the most of it.

Those are my final words of wisdom to you. Really enjoy life and make the best of it because if you were to die tomorrow, how would you feel about what you have done? It’s never too late, so start now.

Life <3 Happiness,
Mere

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: December 21st-27th, 2011

He Told Me

By Amanda Perlmutter, High School Editor

He told me
I couldn’t sleep before you
Now I’m scared to even try
Memories crawl up to the surface
Choke me till I wanna cry
Your kiss was the sweetest goodbye

I take deep breaths
Don’t know what to expect
Sometimes there really is no reason.

One day you’ll break and I won’t be around
To blame
But I’ll be there to pick up the pieces
Those
beautiful
        broken    
            p i e c e s…

I put a lock over the highway for you
Without you here, what else could I do?

In love I’m not at peace.

What’s meant to be
Is gonna be—he told me, he told me…

Written by: Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter ©Copyright 2011-2012

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: December 14th-20th, 2011

It's that Time Again

By Amanda Bourne, High School Editor

First of all, I'd like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. It is insane how quickly time goes by, isn't it? I think my brain is still in October and November.

Speaking of time, in less than a year, I'll be a legal adult. I'll be in college, studying journalism. While reading blogs throughout cyberspace, I found an idea for listing your goals and dreams for the next year. Take your age, add one year, and then list that many goals for the year. It's an effective organizer and way of sharing your uniqueness with the world around you.

Eighteen Before Eighteen

1. Enroll in college

2. Graduate high school

3. Visit a major newspaper's press room

4. Shoot senior pictures for at least one friend

5. Travel out of the United States (again)

6. Meet another online friend in person

7. Visit DC

8. Read all of Agatha Christie's books

9. Start piano again

10. Host a photo challenge on my personal blog

11. Finally get my provisional/license

12. Compose a piano piece

13. Go into a cheese shop and take too many pictures

14. Go into a chocolate shop and do likewise

15. Earn As in all high school and college classes

16. Study at least one book of the Bible

17. Participate in a theatre production

18. Brush up on my French/learn a new language

While you're enjoying your well-deserved Christmas break this year, take an hour or so and reflect on your dreams for the next year. What are you looking forward to accomplishing? Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: December 7th-13th, 2011

Scrooge

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

I don’t know about all you other Scrooges out there, but personally, I have trouble getting into the Christmas spirit.  It seems like it’s the same old spiel every year: The same old songs, the same old decorations, the same lights and ornaments, the same Christmas parties, the same candy-cane shaped cookies... All the “magicalness” of the season started to disappear a few years ago when school began playing a more dominant role in my life.  Instead of “tidings of comfort and joy,” my Decembers – and the Decembers of teens across the nation – are more like “tidings of final projects, essays, and exams.”
 
But this year, as I slumped on the couch furiously typing out an essay for my honors project, my dad brought the Christmas tree down from the attic to the living room – the same artificial tree we’ve had for the past decade.  It’s a particularly pathetic specimen of evergreen, missing a few branches and faded a noxious pea green.  I think most of its few remaining needles would fall off at the lightest breath of wind, leaving us with nothing but a big plastic pole stuck in a rickety metal stand.  Not much to get excited about, if you ask me.
 
Normally I would hardly have noticed Dad and our deplorable Christmas tree.  Some years I glance up and think, Oi vey, before turning back to my work.  This time, however, my eleven-year-old brother galloped into the living room behind Dad, grinning ear to ear.
 
“Do we get to decorate it?” he asked excitedly, dancing in circles around the coffee table.  “Do we?  Do we?  Do we?  Can I help?  Please?  Pretty pretty pretty pretty please!”
 
It was touching to watch his eyes light up as he and Dad set up the tree, unpeeled its gnarled branches, mummified it in lights and ribbons, and delicately hung up homemade ornaments accumulated over years of Christmases.
 
I never felt more Scrooge-ish than as I worked on language arts homework while my father and brother chattered happily and decorated the Christmas tree.  Eventually I got off my lazy butt and offered to help with the finishing touches – a little too late to do any real work, of course, as my dad jokingly pointed out.
 
All in all, it was a nice reminder that December – and the impending Christmas season – doesn’t just have to be one long nightmare of work and stress.  You get occasional fifteen minute breaks to hang up corny (literally) ornaments you made out of food and tissue paper when you were in preschool.   You get to watch your brother’s eyes light up as he draws out each new ornament from the ornament box, cupping it in his hands as it’s a priceless treasure.  And you get a little extra time to spend chitchatting with your dad . . . Before you get back to working on your essay.
 

Everyone has to deal with the finals crunch, but try to keep a little of the Christmas magic alive too. Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: December 1st-6th, 2011

“De-stress-ember”

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

At my school the college counselors turned the month December into “De-stress-ember.” This play on words is supposed to be indicative of how high school juniors and seniors, struggling with standardized tests or applications, should “de-stress” in the month of December when things are less hectic. In addition, the counselors created a list that has everything one might do to “de-stress.”

This list, although somewhat helpful, contains hilarious scenarios that no high school student would ever do or even think about doing.

The following are a few I chose from the list. Hopefully you will be as confused as I was….

“Tickle a baby”

“Prepare for the rain”

 “Avoid tight clothing”

 “Buy a flower… smell the flower”

 “Teach a random child how to fly a kite”

I laughed so hard reading these. However, these actually did make me feel less stressed. Because my blog was due today, and today was the first day of December, I did those 5 things as quickly as I could today to make sure it was authentic “De-stress-ember.” My advice is to take your time when doing this….in retrospect it would have been better had I not rushed. Tickling a baby made me smile because it was so cute (unfortunately I couldn’t find a baby to tickle, so I swapped in a puppy for the baby. It was essentially the same thing) Preparing for the rain made me less stressed because although the sky was ominous, I wasn’t worrying about being unprepared because I had an umbrella in my car. Avoiding tight clothing made me feel far more comfortable while doing homework this afternoon. Crunched for time, I bought a flower by the beach, smelled it quickly, ran up to a kid with a kite and attempted to teach him how to fly it. He already knew how to fly it, but I insisted. His reluctance to give me the kite actually made me more stressed than before.

So yeah! Do those things and you are pretty well off this December! No need to worry about stress bogging you down. Just tickle a baby and you’ll be fine.  Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: November 21st- 28th, 2011

What's Next...

By Amanda Perlmutter, High School Editor

Re-begin
Take off your shades
See the light of day
My trust in you
Has faded away
If I thought it’d make a difference
I’d clasp my hands
 and pray
but we all know you’ll never change
anyway
memories of the past shift around
they rearrange
how we thought it’d always last
those memories smell sweet as sin
I close my eyes
They open again
Now it’s your time
To re-begin

Written by: Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter  ©Copyright 2011

Is it time for you to re-begin?  Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: November 14th- 20th, 2011

What's Next...

By Amanda Bourne, High School Editor

For the first time in a while, I have something more than scattered thoughts to piece together regarding colleges, applications, and the dreaded process. Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen all the colleges I have/will apply to. My thoughts are finally clear.

My original list was very long. Not too long ago, I was going to apply to six or seven different schools. Two weeks ago I visited one of my top choices, and realized that I didn’t have to apply to as many as I thought. Now, with only one application left to go, and several acceptances under my belt, I’m ready to be finished with this process. To all you sophomores and juniors who are thinking about college right now – don’t be afraid to know (or not know) what you want. High school is a time for discovering and learning about you. Don’t be afraid of change. It will happen.

Until last spring, my career track was music. It always had been. I knew what I wanted, but when life got busy I could no longer keep up with lessons and practice schedules. Music was no longer a love, but a duty. At that point, I dropped plans of pursuing it as a career, and fumbled for a while. When you have taken a certainty for granted for so long, not having that certainty there is like wandering around in the dark with a mask over your head.

Writing and photography became my passions, and I decided to pursue journalism. There is nothing in the least that I regret about that choice – only that I didn’t have that revelation much sooner. It’s okay to pursue different interests. Go with where your gifts and heart lie. If you pursue what you love in high school, and continually grow in it, colleges will notice.

High school students – where do your passions and talents lie?Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: November 7th- 13th, 2011

Daylight Savings!

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

Daylight savings!  Particularly in the fall, most people hear this phrase they do a quick happy dance and wish old Ben Frank was still alive to give a big wet smooch.  Most people also think, “Yes!  Extra hour of sleep!”  I’m thinking something more along the lines of, “Yes!  Extra time to finish that homework I procrastinated on!”

Procrastination.  Ugh.  My personal nemesis, I used to think.  But according to a recent study, procrastination is the nemesis of many others as well: an astonishing 85% to 95% of students have “problems associated with procrastination.”

I wouldn’t go so far as to label my procrastination problem “chronic,” but then again, I am sitting here at eleven at night furiously typing up this Stage of Life blog that’s due tomorrow.  (Or should I say ten o’clock?  Thank you thank you thank you, Benjamin Franklin!)

            So to all my fellow procrastinators, here are some ways I’ve found that help me study and “non-procrastinate”:

1)      Stay organized.  Buy a planner.  Buy a calendar.  Buy one of those funky little assignment books with the little checkmark bubbles at the end of each line.  Buy something, but more importantly, use it.  Write down your assignments as soon as you get them.  Yes, I know you have a brilliant brain the size of Megamind’s, but as Will Ferrell so comically illustrated, brain size doesn’t necessarily correlate with intelligence.  Even if you’re sure you can remember an assignment, write it down anyway.  More often than not, we procrastinators procrastinate because we forget about something until the last moment. Don’t let this happen!

2)      Prioritize.  I tend to do this lovely thing where I finish the big mega project due in three months and forget all about the essays, interviews, math sets, physics problems, and articles due within the week.  Whoops.  List your homework in order of due date and work down the list from things due soonest to things not due for the next thirty class periods.

3)      Remove distractions.  Turn off your cell phone.  Log out of Facebook (I know!  I know!  It’s like chopping off a limb but I know you can do it!).  If you’re distracted by music, turn off the radio.  Close Pandora.  Go hide your iPod in the deepest darkest cranny in the basement and then forget where you put it. (Either that or have your younger sibling feed your dog your headphones, which effectively cripples iPod usage for those of us still stuck with third generation pieces of junk that don’t have exterior speakers.)  You’ll get much more done in a shorter amount of time if you are 100% focused on your homework instead of half-reading about centripetal acceleration and half trying to memorize the words to Eminem and Royce da 5’9”’s latest collaboration.

Don’t rely on daylight savings to help you catch up on homework.  Be the 5% that actually gets seven hours of sleep a night and turns in their work on time! Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: November 1st-6th, 2011

Phobias

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

Hi everyone!

Recently, I wrote an article for my school’s newspaper about the many different phobias students at my school have. Delving into the minds of students I discovered the strangest things you can imagine. Now, I myself am afraid of odd things like storm drains and the monster under my bed (it really exists!), but nothing to the extent of these students’ fears.

Have you ever heard of Bananaphobia? Well it’s a real thing apparently. Over three students at my school are so afraid of bananas that they refuse to touch them or smell them- one girl can’t be in the same room as one!

On the topic of food, one student is so afraid of Jell-O that even the word makes her gag. She refuses to go to the grocery store because she worries that she might come into contact with Jell-O (life is going to be pretty rough for her…..).

A guy at my school cannot go to public pools- not because he is afraid of germs or the water though. He refuses to go because is biggest fear is seeing a Band-Aid floating in a pool. Regular Band-Aids on the floor at school bother him a lot too, but seeing them in a pool makes him crazy!

Hearing about all of these while I was writing my article made me laugh because I never thought people could be so afraid of the most random things. One phobia really surprised me though, even more so than the previous ones I mentioned.

A girl at my school cannot have sleepovers or sleep on the floor ever because she is afraid that a person wearing stilettos will step on her head while she is sleeping and pierce her temple and kill her instantly.

Wow, there are no words to describe my reaction to that one.

She is 100% serious too!               

Those, in addition to the fear of fruit cups, dentist chairs, door handles and many more made me realize how strange we all are and what one person might consider normal, another might be intensely afraid of it.

I hope you enjoyed reading those. Please write about any irrational phobias you have! I’d love to read about them! Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: October 21st-31st, 2011

Reckless

By Amanda Perlmutter, High School Editor

I want to cry, but I just can’t

Can’t deal with it all

The way I pretend that I can

Can’t handle it all

The way it seems that I’m strong

I’m strong?

No I’m not

I’m spineless and weak

I flip out like some kind of freak

Freak?

Not how I used to describe myself

Myself?

No I’m not

Not at all

Myself

Who is that?

Who is this?

I could have had it easy and said I’d never try

Instead I set myself up with the life

of someone who cares

but I don’t

I don’t care

This life isn’t mine

This life belongs to that strong girl

The one I left behind

Along with my heart

Attached to my mind

She took it and ran

Run girl run!

Beyond the moon

Past the sun

While you run

I’ll load the gun

And 1,2,3 BAM!

Maybe the next life

Will be more fun

Written By: Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter ©Copyright 2011

High schoolers, and especially seniors – make the most of what you’ve got. It’s your time to shine.  Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: October 14th-20th, 2011

On Senior Year

By Amanda Bourne, High School Editor

The first thing I’d like to do in this post is to denounce the superstition that senior year is the best year of high school.

Let’s face the truth – when you’re a freshman, senior year looks amazing. When you’re a senior, you’re constantly swamped with AP coursework, college applications, and loads of commitments with extracurriculars. Regardless of what kind of schooling you experience, your fourth year is the best preparation for life after high school that you can have.

Because I’ve been able to go to high school online, I’ve been forced to deal with procrastination more than the average student. When there are no due dates for assignments, it’s pretty easy to open up Facebook and tell yourself that you’ll write that paper later. Most of the time, however, later does not exist. I can’t tell you that I have my procrastination habits conquered – I don’t think I ever will. But you know what? I’ve gotten better over the past three years.

Procrastination is just one of the bad habits we’ll have to deal with in college. Senior year is your chance to practice effective combat against these bad habits. Need to work off that extra weight? Start jogging, or get a job that requires a lot of movement. Hate yourself for procrastinating? Make a schedule every Friday for the homework you’ll get done over the weekend. Want that leadership position in the photography club? Practice, practice, practice, and put together a portfolio a week or two before the deadline.

Even if you’re not a senior yet, you can take these habits and turn them on their heads. All it takes is a bit of effort that will pay off in the long run. Preparing yourself for senior year is a good thing to do as well. If you want to take multiple AP classes in senior year, take one or two during sophomore and senior years to learn how to manage the workload. Most importantly? Get involved in what you love so that you can enjoy yourself despite the busyness of senior year.

These things pay off. Starting early on college applications means more acceptances early in the school year. Jogging every day for a couple months will help you stay healthy. Balancing school with your social life effectively will make you less stressed.

High schoolers, and especially seniors – make the most of what you’ve got. It’s your time to shine.  Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: October 7th- 13th, 2011

Death of a Visionary

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

As most of you probably know, Steve Jobs died yesterday (October 5), and per the usual reasoning that "dead people are much more interesting than living people," I promptly read his (hopefully-accurate) Wikipedia page.  I was extremely surprised to learn that he attended Reed College for a whole semester before dropping out (I recently got a periodic table of elements from Reed in the mail; don't ask me why), was so poor as a college student that he had to return "Coke bottles for food money" and "get weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple," and that he called his experimentation with LSD "one of the two or three most important things I've done in my life."  Wow.
 
From the occasional glimpses of his balding gray hair, glasses, and narrow face that I had seen on Yahoo! News, I had taken Jobs for a much more down-to-earth individual.  You know, the kid in high school who spends his free time reading the appendix of his physics textbook, researching $100,000 science scholarships on Fastweb, campaigning for DARE, sewing badges onto his Boy Scout uniform, etc.  But traipsing around India in search of Hindi gurus?  Uh . . . no.
 
So once again, I'm writing about not boxing people into stereotypes, a theme I don't think I can emphasize enough.  Thrown into the ultimate stereotype melting pot (i.e., highschool: ever heard of jocks, airheads, geeks, nerds, Goths, etc.?), we teenagers often judge people too early and too harshly.  We see someone wearing a Pokemon shirt playing Dragon Quest on his DS and we think, Nerd.  We see someone with a buzz-cut wearing a football jersey walking around in that heavy-footed gorilla swagger and we think, Jock.  We see someone with platinum blonde hair, pink blouse, pink miniskirt, pink lipstick, pink nails, and pink heels, and we think . . . Wow, that’s a lot of pink . . . or maybe just, Airhead.
 
But who knows?  Maybe Pokemon Boy is actually the star on the wrestling team (I use this particular example because my nerdy, Pokemon-loving, bespectacled little brother really is the star of his wrestling team).  Maybe Buzz-Cut loves to play Mendelssohn on his violin.  Maybe Pinky wants to pursue a degree in philosophy.
 
Ultimately, think about how others would stereotype you?  Are their stereotypes even remotely accurate?  All I’m saying is, don't judge people too early.  As you get to know them better, you may learn nuances of their character and personality, or past history, that can really help you empathize with who they are in the here and now.
 
And maybe you’ll realize that the creepy looking Goth kid with the bull-ring in his nose is actually one of the nicest guys you’ve ever met, or that the teacher who always looks like she smells something bad really actually cares about helping you understand trigonometry, or that the dignified founder of Apple was actually a crazy twenty-something-year-old at one time who ran around India wearing an orange sari.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: October 1st-6th, 2011

Halloween

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

Because Halloween is coming up, I decided to make a list of what I find to be the scariest movies of all time. I think the best way to get into the "spooky" mood of October is to invite some friends over for a scary move night, which is why in October my Saturday nights are dedicated to scary movie marathons in preparation for Halloween!

If you are easily frightened by gore and violence, I suggest you stick to costumes and candy; but for those of you who can stomach such terror, I recommend you watch the following movies.

- The Shining
- The Exorcist
- The Ring
- The Strangers
- Poltergeist
- The Crazies
- Paranormal Activity
- Scream 1
- Friday the 13th
- The Thing
- 28 days later

and last but certainly not least, Jaws. It's not really of the "horror" genre, but it is deserves to be!

If any of you are like me, after a scary movie I ALWAYS have to watch something uplifting to clear my head before I go to sleep. After watching The Crazies I had awful nightmares because the images from the movie were the last I saw before I went to bed. So, as a disclaimer, horror movies may be disturbing so have a backup plan in case you are afraid to sleep afterwards! Watching happy movies after really stops the nightmares- and helps me not have to sleep with the lights on!

So, if any of you are looking for some post-horror movie entertainment, I suggest the following films.

- Anchorman
- Bride Wars
- Juno
- The Sound of Music
- The Proposal
- Legally Blonde

Those are just a few of my favorites.  I hope you all have a great Halloween! 

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: Sept. 27th-30th, 2011

Tied together

By McKinzie Step, High School Editor

These past few weeks, I’ve been given the opportunity during my senior year to build numerous relationships and get connected with the three thousand students within my high school. If you’ve ever looked into a high school, or even a middle school, you’d understand the massive amounts of diversity that walk along the halls and in between each row of desks or lunch room tables. The drama students, athletes, art club, brains- the misfits, the lone wolfs, and the ones just looking for their purpose in all of this change- they all wear the face of similarity in at least one thing: they’re all looking for something more.

This may sound a little deep for a high school editorial, but in reality we know it to be true; that high school seems to be the landing ground between sheer adolescence and thriving adulthood. Knowing this, I’ve considered it a blessing to begin to make friendships with these different social standings and walk a mile or two in their shoes. So I’ve written this poem in an attempt to put into words the experience, and if only for someone else to know that know matter where we stand in high school, we all have personal turmoils and stories that bind us together.
 
High School Writing ContestEvery person has a pain, 
and everyone can lose and gain;
Smiles hide a bruised up heart, 
and laughter shields the broken parts. 
small facades just get them by, 
Until we kiss the wounds goodbye.
Love somebody- feed them care, 
For all this world is too unfair.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: Sept. 21st- 27th, 2011

The Age of When?

By Amanda  Perlmutter, High School Editor

I transform misery
Into poetry
Because that makes it seem less real
I shower in my tears
So I can trick myself out of how I feel
Trick myself into believing
They were never there
I spend more time missing those who I loved
And who loved me and have long since been gone
Then I do loving those who were stupid enough
To stick around
I spend more time wishing and wanting
Then I do appreciating and trying
Inside, I’m dying.
Sometimes I’m numb, other times I succumb
To loneliness
Allowing myself to feel too much
All at once
The cascade of emotions weighs heavy on my heart
With no one to break down boundaries for
I’m ready for more but no one’s ready for me
I want to love but fake is never enough
And real is too far from my reality
Is age a friend or an enemy?
Trapping me in what feels like limbo
Ready to let it go
And move on to the next road, the next chapter
But when will it begin?

Written by: Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter ©Copyright 2011

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: Sept. 14th - 20th, 2011

Dust in the Wind

By Amanda Bourne, High School Editor

“…nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
All your money won't another minute buy
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind”


I have recently gotten into what we call “oldies”. You know; music from the 70s and 80s? (I’ve had to avoid using the term oldies around my parents though. They just laugh at me. I wonder why?)

The lyrics above are from Dust in the Wind by the band Kansas. It’s songs like these that give me a focus when the stresses of senior year make me want to rock back and forth on the floor in a fetal position. The cultural expectations that make getting into college important don’t matter in the long run. Don’t read that wrong – college matters, but the cultural norms don’t have to shape your life.

As I’m filling out my college applications, in the back of my mind there’s a little voice. Are you sure this is what you want? Why not depart from the traveled road? This is probably because my education has always been different from the cultural norm. Just by the virtue of the fact that I’m homeschooled, this has allowed me to look at the college process from a different angle.

The question I must now answer is whether the road less-traveled is the one I should go down. This doesn’t mean skipping college. It may only mean taking a gap year between high school and college. Who knows? One thing is sure – if I knew, I could easily decide.

Part of the adventure, however, is in not knowing. Because I’m a spontaneous person who thrives on a rigorous schedule (yes, you read that right), I want to know. I want to plan it out. The spontaneous side of me says just to go for it. Just go for it.

You know what? I have a feeling that I might be better off just going for it. It, whatever that may be, must be better than rocking back and forth in fetal position, right?

Good. I have four words for you. Just. Go. For. It.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: Sept. 6th - 13th, 2011

You Only Get One Childhood

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

Once the school year begins, I tend to bury my nose in my work and not look up again until May.  My writing hand turns gray with pencil lead.  I wear the numbers off my calculator.  The back of my desk is more familiar than the faces of my friends.  I start seeing notebook paper lines everywhere I look.  I question my sanity. 

High School Writing ContestMetaphysics becomes a very pressing issue.  I lie in bed at night outlining my Teen Eagles speeches and walking the fine line between vector and scalar quantities.  On holidays, even brief ones like Labor Day, I find that I’m at a loss on what to do after I’ve completed my weekend homework.  I wander around the house, stunned at this unexpected free time, until my mom gets sick of my aimless wandering and makes me fold laundry.
 
I’m so nervous about ACT scores and colleges and scholarships that I begin to live in the future rather than the present.  And, however sadly, I’ve noticed this same phenomenon in other high school students besides myself.  Many of my friends are similar.  I also see many very driven, very intelligent, very accomplished people on Stage of Life with incredible course loads and commitments writing about analogous situations.
 
We high school students often become so embroiled in our future, collegiate plans that we fail to recognize the beauty of our current lives.  We get so caught up trying to get into a good college so we can establish a good career and retire with lots of money and enjoy ourselves then – forty years from now – that we forget to enjoy the present.
 
Although we don’t like to admit it, we’re still – from a legal standpoint – children.  Instead of rushing it along, we should hang on to youth.  Childhood is such a precious, fleeting thing that we only come to appreciate later.  When else do we get three month vacations every year?  When else are we free from the cost of food, clothing, housing, and laundry?  When else can we get away with wearing blue eye shadow and Converse High Tops?  The next thing we know, we’ll be adults fighting for two weeks off out of fifty-two, exclaiming at the steep-prices of laundry detergent and dog food, miserably boxed by our own dignified fashion sense.
 
So even as you work on creating a well-rounded transcript and fight for that GPA that will make colleges go gaga, remember that you only get one childhood.  Enjoy it.  As we’ve heard a million and one times, stop every once in a while and smell the roses.  Then, feel free to get back to the soporific effects of your math homework.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: Sept. 1st- 6th, 2011

Senioritis

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

With the first week of school officially over, senioritis is finally kicking in. Senioritis, a senior’s desire to graduate long before the school year even ends, has plagued seniors for years. Now that I am a senior I am able to suffer from this exclusive disease- and I love it!

High School Although freshman, sophomore and junior year were all great and provided me with three terrific years of memories, my senior year will still be the best yet. Our slogan is “we rule the school,” and we do exactly that. Our grade is very class-oriented and we are all friends with one another. Yes, we all want to graduate and move on to college, but there’s a part of us that wants never to grow up. Leaving high school will be bittersweet for most of us.

So as a senior reflecting back on my past three years at the school, I have compiled a School Survival Guide for the hectic high school years you may endure.

1.   GPA (grade point average) matters

When you are freshmen you might still have the care-free attitude of a middle school student- that is BAD. Yes, high school work can be overwhelming, but that does not mean you can ignore it. Try your best because in high school, your GPA matters and will follow you for the next three years.

2.   Cliques don’t exist

If you’ve ever seen any of those stereotypical high school movies, like Mean Girls, their portrayal of high school life is way off. Although I have only attended one school for high school, I have spoken to many people, and the consensus is that by sophomore/junior year, cliques no longer exist. To catty and dramatic girls- leave that attitude behind in middle school! No upperclassman will think you are cool or will admire your queen-bee status. In high school, try to be friendly to everyone because by senior year no cliques will exist and everyone will be friends with everyone.

3.   Become active

Don’t wait until junior year to realize you need community service or you want to start a club- get a head start! Begin your extracurriculars as a freshman, that way you have three years to develop them before you graduate! It also looks better to colleges if you have a longer record of partaking in the activities.

4.   Relation-ships- sink

Did you get that pun? Basically high school relationships are a waste of time. You don’t want to be hindered by your girlfriend or boyfriend. Your grades will fall and you’ll find yourself unable to focus in school, which can seriously affect your chances of getting into college. However, if you are one of those people who think they can juggle a relationship and school, consider this- it won’t carry outside of high school. That means that by the time you graduate things will end. And NEVER, EVER turn down the college of your dreams to attend college with your boyfriend/girlfriend. The chances of you remaining a couple for all of college is very slim and if you sacrificed a lot to attend college with your partner, then you will regret that decision. Over all, high school relationships don’t usually last, so don’t waste your time. Instead, get involved with clubs and sports and spend time with your friends. That’s what high school is all about.

     Being the oldest at school is strange, especially when I spot a 13 year old freshman who I remember being four years ago. Although I cannot wait to graduate, I also feel sentimental and desire to hold on to my high school years. Four years go by so quickly, so enjoy it while you can!

Love,
Mere

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: August 27th - 31st, 2011

A bittersweet reunion

By McKinzie Step, High School Editor

There has never been such a rush of thrill, fear, confusion and chaos that has circled my mind in such a small interval of time. As much as I would like to deny it, (since I am considerably different then other teenagers who are in my grade) senior year has officially taken off, and I have no choice to but to grab hold of the reigns and steer myself into the rest of my future.

Honestly, I am at a loss as to how the majority of my senior class seems to ease themselves into the school year with early symptoms of senioritis and the mindset of "taking it easy." ACT's are coming up on my calandar, SAT's aren't too far behind, and a 10 inch pile of college pamphlets and professional letters are mounted on the shelves above my computer desk. The remainder of my weekend has been dedicated to filling out the first of my college applications and searching like a madman for the most easily accessible scholarships, loans and grants.

Yet time stands still-deadlines and priorities freeze- and the perks of having seniority begin to take affect. I suppose we could assume I am living the best (and worst) of both worlds- overwhelming responsibilities and superb upperclassmen privileges. Is this not what the adult world is about, anyways?

Obviously, the main priority on my mind as of this moment is centered around my senior year. You will have to excuse me (and please do it politely) if I come across as the least bit repetative. I am certain you can relate to me here. We all dread the extended homerooms, masses of papers that arrive home waiting for parent signatures, student handbooks that get tossed into newly purchased lockers and overcrowded lunchrooms where students have yet to settle into a modified seating routine or arrangement. Standing against the walls holding trays of cafeteria food because you've yet to locate a table or seat is simply not attractive.

And personally, those six minute passing periods between classes is no where near the amount of time required when the hallways gobble you into the seas of slow-moving passerby, while at the same time all you really need is an extra two minutes to find a stall and go to the bathroom.

Then we run into another problem, and another, and-oh wait, another. Teachers butcher your names when calling role, apologizing for mispronunciation and then four-minutes later, pretending as if daily bell-works are even slightly relevant when they know that within a month they will be almost non-existent. Confusing bell schedules bring in stragglers, ice breaker games leave you feeling a bit awkward, and new faces make you wish your guidance counselors could have somehow assigned you to classes where at least one or two more of your friends were also assigned.

Yet in the mess, homework, agendas and responsibilities, new years are promising. Homecomings, proms, pep rallies, football games, sports, clubs, and sociality all ring in the new year with hope and expectations. High school... I would say it's rather bittersweet. Hello class of 2012!

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: August 21st - 27th, 2011

1 Bathroom

By Amanda Perlmutter, High School Editor

5 ½ people
6 personalities
2 bedrooms
1 bathroom
Too much is always too little
Talking all at once
Always feels a little too loud
Escape into my mind
And I have to look past
What they say I cannot see
Focusing on tomorrow
And what yesterday used to mean
Changing my mind
Staying the same
Following my dreams
Or straying away
Am I adequate or should I just quit
Moving along
Staying up all night
Writing, thinking
Then at 2 am I remember to brush the coffee
Off my teeth
But he’s already in the bathroom
So I’ll have to wait till 3
Too much is always too little
6 personalities sometime feels like 12
We’re always longing for
Something more
Than 1 apartment that has
1 bathroom

©Copyright 2011, Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest! And Amanda has suggested two great links to check out; Teen Ink and her blog.

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: August 13th - 20th, 2011

Summertime and Education Musings

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

Summertime supposedly equals relaxation, with little more to do than lie in the sun and swim with friends. For me and probably you, summertime is substantially more than that. As rising senior this fall, I’m finishing up a few courses from the summer, putting in hours on the road (for the driver’s license), and applying to colleges.

I told this much to a friend, who asked me why I was already applying to college. Aren’t most of the deadlines in the fall, she asked? Most of my college applications are yes, due in the fall. However, because I’m an absolute overachiever (in most things, that is), I’m applying early action to the schools that offer this option.

You may not be familiar with college lingo. Don’t worry - the time for stressing about majors and financial aid packages has not arrived yet for you, most likely. Enjoy this time while you have it. Early action is essentially the chance to apply early to a college, without committing that you’ll attend this college if accepted. This is the differentiating factor between early action and its counterpart, early decision.

A few years ago, I had no idea how soon I’d be learning all of this… and sending in the applications. College is something to be taken seriously, especially getting into college. It’s amazing that gaining an education past a high school diploma is this difficult. In the past, getting a Bachelor of Arts degree thrust the recipient into the informal “white collar” class, or the class of the educated. With the amount of jobs requiring a college degree at this point in American history, this degree is quickly becoming a defining factor for a “blue collar” citizen, or a member of the working class. Members of this “white collar” class now have graduate degrees, pursuing their studies and gaining even more schooling.

As our economy dips down and sometimes upwards, it is becoming even more expensive to gain the schooling to live in this country. Quite the paradox, is it not? There’s plenty to think about when applying to college, but considering the overall state of past-high-school-education as a whole is perhaps just as important to your future as writing the “perfect” essay for the Common App.

Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: August 7th-13th, 2011

The Search

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

We started visiting colleges this summer, checking out the difference between big schools and small schools, schools with emphases on journalism or creative writing, schools with 17:1 student-faculty ratios or 6:1 ratios.  And my mother began worrying that I’m not doing enough to get accepted to a “good college.”  The problem is that my definition and my mother’s definition of a “good college” differs drastically.
 
My idea of a good college is anywhere that provides me with a good English/creative writing education and propels me into the national (or international) spotlight as a New York Times bestselling author with impeccable grammar and literary panache (that’s what I like to think anyway).  My mother’s definition more involves a fancy diploma scribbled all over in gothic-script Latin with the delicate footnote “IVY LEAGUE.”
 
After reading the resumes of multiple Ivy League high school students, she began worrying because I’m not president of the Student Council and captain of the soccer team and Miss Congeniality at the Miss America pageant.  Not mention that I haven’t saved the world from nuclear disaster or rescued a drowning child from a giant squid and performed flawless CPR while holding together the crust of the earth.
 
This year I’m dual-enrolling at the community college, playing on two soccer teams, working as the skit coordinator at my church, prepping for the PSAT and ACT, volunteering at the neighborhood nursing home, managing a seventeen-credit course load, and desperately trying to maintain a modicum of sanity in between.  Emphasis on trying.  I love all the classes I’m taking (I’m lying.  I loathe math.), but coming out of the long summer of staying up until the wee hours of the morning reading  and sleeping until ten in the morning . . . This might be difficult.

And yet my mom wants me to do more.
 
Of course, I wholly understand her rationale.  Why not seize every opportunity I can get and benefit in the long run?  But I’m already going crazy with what I’m currently doing.
 
I know my mom only wants what’s best for me, and oftentimes she has pushed me to do things I never would have done on my own.  Things that in the long run I’m so glad I did, despite all my initial griping and groaning.  All the same, I am a different person from my mother.  While she can push the limits, only I know what my limits truly are.
 
What I’ve learned is to respectfully and seriously consider everything my mother suggests, but I also try to remember that there are only twenty-four hours in the day, and I really love to be sleeping six of those twenty-four hours. 

My parents are always here for me in these mind-boggling years called high school, and I appreciate everything they try to push me to do.  However, in the end I have to remember that this is my life, not theirs, and as such I need to ultimately make my own choices.Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: August 1st-6th, 2011

Pressure from Peers

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

I know how trite “peer-pressure” seems, but in actuality it is a powerful force that is not to be underestimated. I remember the groaning and the sighing of disappointed students in middle school when our Health instructor would mention “peer-pressure,” for it was an over-exhausted topic that we were sure could never happen to us. We would say, “Who is stupid enough to give in to smoking weed” or “I’m not going to go with the flow. I’m smarter than that.”

Unfortunately, as smart as we may think we are we all at one time or another fall into the trap of peer-pressure. All of last week I was on a road trip around the North East with thirteen of my classmates. While on the trip, we shared everything- including personal issues. Personal issues are called personal for a reason. Unless you want everyone else’s opinion, I suggest you do not share.

Recently, I have been having trouble with a boy I am dating and during the trip I decided to seek advice from my classmates. Each one had their own idea of what I should say to him and each one shared their judgment; “He isn’t good enough for you,” “You are too nice to him,” “Dump him!” Their words cut me, and the wounds were deep. I was sucked into their opinions and no longer had my own. I listened to them and followed their direction.


By the end of the week I had my mind set on ending the relationship, but my heart was not as convinced. Luckily, my friend Bridget pulled me away from the crowd and told me that all that mattered was my opinion. She also added that my classmates did not know my boyfriend very well and therefore were not informed enough to form an opinion of him. This realization was a fresh breath of air and it was clear to me that I had fallen under peer-pressure. I, the girl who never thought she would be weak enough to be manipulated by her peers, was possessed by the opinions of my classmates, and almost did something drastic as a result.

Peer-pressure can affect anyone at anytime and it is not always obvious, so be smart and trust in your heart. What others say can sometimes be helpful or harmful, but in the end, it’s your choice to make. Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: August 1st-6th, 2011

Pressure from Peers

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

I know how trite “peer-pressure” seems, but in actuality it is a powerful force that is not to be underestimated. I remember the groaning and the sighing of disappointed students in middle school when our Health instructor would mention “peer-pressure,” for it was an over-exhausted topic that we were sure could never happen to us. We would say, “Who is stupid enough to give in to smoking weed” or “I’m not going to go with the flow. I’m smarter than that.”

Unfortunately, as smart as we may think we are we all at one time or another fall into the trap of peer-pressure. All of last week I was on a road trip around the North East with thirteen of my classmates. While on the trip, we shared everything- including personal issues. Personal issues are called personal for a reason. Unless you want everyone else’s opinion, I suggest you do not share.

Recently, I have been having trouble with a boy I am dating and during the trip I decided to seek advice from my classmates. Each one had their own idea of what I should say to him and each one shared their judgment; “He isn’t good enough for you,” “You are too nice to him,” “Dump him!” Their words cut me, and the wounds were deep. I was sucked into their opinions and no longer had my own. I listened to them and followed their direction.

By the end of the week I had my mind set on ending the relationship, but my heart was not as convinced. Luckily, my friend Bridget pulled me away from the crowd and told me that all that mattered was my opinion. She also added that my classmates did not know my boyfriend very well and therefore were not informed enough to form an opinion of him. This realization was a fresh breath of air and it was clear to me that I had fallen under peer-pressure. I, the girl who never thought she would be weak enough to be manipulated by her peers, was possessed by the opinions of my classmates, and almost did something drastic as a result.

Peer-pressure can affect anyone at anytime and it is not always obvious, so be smart and trust in your heart. What others say can sometimes be helpful or harmful, but in the end, it’s your choice to make. Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: July 28th- 31st, 2011

Service hours or life lessons?

By Mckinzie Step, High School Editor

Summer 2011 is in full swing. The beaches are open, cars are gassed up, and the great ball of fire rises and sets every day to remind us that this summer, the time to shine is now.

High SchoolRelationships are blossoming, relationships are failing…summer jobs are bountiful and generous, and the promises of a new year at school hang in the parts of our mind where our emotions are a mixture of both dread and uncontained excitement.  I have three months to fill my agenda with numerous sleepovers, dates, concerts and whimsical adventures, but I have found it to be ironic that I have reserved the majority of my summer for school-related necessities. I have NOT gone to the beach, I have NOT gone to any concert, rather, I have been given the opportunity to serve my community and even earn hours for scholarships. The experience has been a blessing that I feel obligated to share with anyone and everyone who will listen.

I have been serving for an amazing, selfless, and powerful non-profit organization; Lifecare of Brandon has impacted me both mentally and emotionally, taking me beyond the boundaries of selfish attention I so easily give to myself, all of the time.

A typical day as a volunteer for Lifecare can be described as, well, anything but typical. Tasks are all consuming and endless. Their mantra is simply “supporting positive life choices.” All of the facets are overwhelming and awe-inspiring. Lifecare is devoted primarily to women who are pregnant and searching for much-needed aid throughout and after their pregnancies. A woman and her husband earn “mommy and daddy dollars” by taking numerous classes and sessions that Lifecare offers. This includes child-birthing, parenting classes, and classes to help women and couples move in the right directions. Baby clothes, food, supplies, furniture, and other blessings can be purchased with these mommy and daddy dollars, and each item that is given away is a donation made by our generous surrounding communities.

A job I am often given is to sort through donations and retrieve the items these mothers want in exchange for their dollars. I frequently make packets and prepare papers for the other activities Lifecare offers- counseling and talk sessions about addictions, negative self image, abuse, family relationships and self mutilation. I’ve caught glimpses of these clients, burdened by the weight they carry on their shoulders and desperately seeking a way out of their tangled up mess. I may be offering my own time and help, but they have unknowingly giving me something much more in return- the realization that their are women and men in my own streets and neighborhoods who are just as lost, confused, hurt, and burdened with responsibilities as I am at times.
 
The preparation that goes into these Lifecare activities is overwhelming. Because the organization is non-profit, they rely on fundraisers, grants and donations to keep their facility running in full swing. I’ve sealed thank you letters, shredded trash, organized diapers and even babysat for a toddler who left me a nice surprise on the calf of my leg. I’ve come to discover that many of the important things in life are manifested in smaller forms, like running a quick errand or refilling a shelf with baby shampoo.

We like to think we are the Gods of our own universe, but reality tells us that we are made first when we become last. To be less abstract with you-humility is essential, so significant that when we submit to the people and the efforts surrounding our own bubble, every aspect of our lives is impacted severely. Did you know that your community has needs to meet much like the ones I experience weekly?
 
My glorious summer vacation as seen four months ago has been radically demolished and replaced by the opportunity to be the hands and feet for the men and women unable to serve themselves the way they ought to be able to. Community service hours? Not nearly as dear to me as the lessons I’ve received both in my submission and the hours I’ve worked to benefit someone who wasn’t me.

Do you donate your time or money to a community organization or non-profit?  If so, which one and why? Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: July 29 - 31, 2011

Service hours or life lessons?

By Mckinzie Step, High School Editor

Summer 2011 is in full swing. The beaches are open, cars are gassed up, and the great ball of fire rises and sets every day to remind us that this summer, the time to shine is now.

High SchoolRelationships are blossoming, relationships are failing…summer jobs are bountiful and generous, and the promises of a new year at school hang in the parts of our mind where our emotions are a mixture of both dread and uncontained excitement.  I have three months to fill my agenda with numerous sleepovers, dates, concerts and whimsical adventures, but I have found it to be ironic that I have reserved the majority of my summer for school-related necessities. I have NOT gone to the beach, I have NOT gone to any concert, rather, I have been given the opportunity to serve my community and even earn hours for scholarships. The experience has been a blessing that I feel obligated to share with anyone and everyone who will listen.

I have been serving for an amazing, selfless, and powerful non-profit organization; Lifecare of Brandon has impacted me both mentally and emotionally, taking me beyond the boundaries of selfish attention I so easily give to myself, all of the time.

A typical day as a volunteer for Lifecare can be described as, well, anything but typical. Tasks are all consuming and endless. Their mantra is simply “supporting positive life choices.” All of the facets are overwhelming and awe-inspiring. Lifecare is devoted primarily to women who are pregnant and searching for much-needed aid throughout and after their pregnancies. A woman and her husband earn “mommy and daddy dollars” by taking numerous classes and sessions that Lifecare offers. This includes child-birthing, parenting classes, and classes to help women and couples move in the right directions. Baby clothes, food, supplies, furniture, and other blessings can be purchased with these mommy and daddy dollars, and each item that is given away is a donation made by our generous surrounding communities.

A job I am often given is to sort through donations and retrieve the items these mothers want in exchange for their dollars. I frequently make packets and prepare papers for the other activities Lifecare offers- counseling and talk sessions about addictions, negative self image, abuse, family relationships and self mutilation. I’ve caught glimpses of these clients, burdened by the weight they carry on their shoulders and desperately seeking a way out of their tangled up mess. I may be offering my own time and help, but they have unknowingly giving me something much more in return- the realization that their are women and men in my own streets and neighborhoods who are just as lost, confused, hurt, and burdened with responsibilities as I am at times.
 
The preparation that goes into these Lifecare activities is overwhelming. Because the organization is non-profit, they rely on fundraisers, grants and donations to keep their facility running in full swing. I’ve sealed thank you letters, shredded trash, organized diapers and even babysat for a toddler who left me a nice surprise on the calf of my leg. I’ve come to discover that many of the important things in life are manifested in smaller forms, like running a quick errand or refilling a shelf with baby shampoo.

We like to think we are the Gods of our own universe, but reality tells us that we are made first when we become last. To be less abstract with you-humility is essential, so significant that when we submit to the people and the efforts surrounding our own bubble, every aspect of our lives is impacted severely. Did you know that your community has needs to meet much like the ones I experience weekly?
 
My glorious summer vacation as seen four months ago has been radically demolished and replaced by the opportunity to be the hands and feet for the men and women unable to serve themselves the way they ought to be able to. Community service hours? Not nearly as dear to me as the lessons I’ve received both in my submission and the hours I’ve worked to benefit someone who wasn’t me.

Do you donate your time or money to a community organization or non-profit?  If so, which one and why? Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: July 25th- August 1st, 2011

UPSIDE DOWN

By Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter, High School Editor

My world is upside down
My feet are searching for the ground
High SchoolMy head’s in the clouds
There, way up high
What is this?
Who am I?
Eyes in the sky
Looking for stars
Seeing only clouds
I want to be right side up
But it’s amazing here
Upside down
Nothing here makes sense
Yet everything is right
The daytime becomes the night
Here I never have to fight
Or go searching for the light
Because when I’m upside down
Everything is right

©Copyright 2011 Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter

Is your life upside down? Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: July 14th-20th, 2011

"Time Flies When You're Having Fun"

By Amanda Bourne, High School Editor

I feel like just a few days ago, it was the beginning of summer… June. Unfortunately for this blogger, it’s already the middle of July. Time really does fly when you have a job, doesn’t it?
This summer has been a time of retrospection, review, and anticipation. As soon as I finish up with junior year courses (point – procrastination and homeschooling have problems together), I will be picking out my senior year courses and applying to colleges.

High School

Yup, it’s that time. I’m actually kind of nervous about applying to colleges. At the same time though, I’m seriously excited. It’s really exuberating to be so close… so close to moving on from high school and into a new kind of studying and life.

All the same, once I send in my applications, I’ll be a much happier girl. I may have to motivate myself with cases of chocolate in order to get them sent in, but hey, we do what we must.
I’m excited to announce that this fall; I have been given the chance to volunteer with the Swem Library in Virginia, transcribing original Civil War documents as they appear into MS Word. Since I’m a huge history nerd (face it – who else would take AP European History as their first AP course?), this is the perfect volunteer opportunity.

What are you all looking forward to doing this fall? Are you thinking about college, or perhaps applying? Any exciting opportunities that have come your way?  Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: July 7th-13th, 2011

"Our Town"

By Keilah Sullivan, High School Editor

Last autumn I read Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town for the first time.  Although I found the play pleasant enough, I was a slightly perplexed that such a banal plot following the very ordinary lives of two very ordinary families in a very ordinary small town had won such critical acclaim.
 
It wasn’t until I reached the last few pages that I suddenly recognized it as the Nobel-prize winning masterpiece that it is, and all because of one little line buried near the end: “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it – every, every minute?”
 
It sounds simple enough, a handful of words stating an often-parodied catchphrase.  I see the gist of the statement stamped onto designer T-shirts as “Live Laugh Love” nearly every day.  But that quote, and the surrounding context, really impacted me.
 
High SchoolThe statement is so true, in a sad sort of way.  You can’t help but ask yourself again, Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it – every, every minute?
 
Now at the strangest of times every few days or weeks, I’m suddenly struck with this quote.  I’ll simply be sitting in the car or reading a book and I’ll think, This is the only life I have.  Is this how I want to live it?  Is this something I will remember someday as something I am proud to have listed among my accomplishments as a “human being?”
 
It strikes me as tragic the way some people truly think life revolves around the holy dollar symbol.  Money can certainly obtain transient pleasures, but in the long run how much is a fancy car or a big house worth?
 
Of course I’m not saying to go drop out of school and bum around because you feel that that is your life’s calling.  I simply think that if we pause and think about what we are doing with our lives, we might sometimes live very differently.
 
You can look at life through a microscopic and macroscopic lens, obsess over the details or look at the big picture.  In the short term, yes, I could definitely deal with a flashy red Corvette or a closet full of designer clothing, but I would rather invest my time and money in more meaningful things that don’t depreciate over time or slip in and out of fashion with every season (black nail polish and crimped hair comes to mind . . .)
 
Life is such a beautiful gift.  How can we possibly waste it?  We are so quick to take something so precious for granted.  Yet whenever I’m in danger of doing so, I always try to think of this quote.  I always try to realize the life I’m living.

What do you think?  Are we humans truly realizing life while we live it?  And what exactly does that mean?  Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: July 1st-6th, 2011

"The Kissing Disease"

By Meredith Berger, High School Editor

At this very moment, while writing this blog, I am suffering from what seems to be the worst thing that could happen to me- mononucleosis.

It all started about a month ago, when my wisdom tooth began to hurt and I had a slight fever. My dentist prescribed amoxicillin for me, hoping to help my slightly infected wisdom tooth. Five days later I found out I had mono.

“It really does not seem that bad. It’s only a virus,” said my unsuspecting friends. About a week after this comment I was completely bed ridden and unable to speak due to a severe sore throat. Thinking the pain could not get any worse, I then developed the worst itchy, measles-like rash you could imagine, a side effect that occurs only from taking amoxicillin while sick with mono- just my luck.

High SchoolThinking my social life couldn’t get any worse with friends only sending the occasional text and dropping off ice-cream in my kitchen (nobody wanted to see me at the risk of getting what they now saw was not only a virus, but potentially a flesh eating disease) I decided to be a recluse. I stayed in my room for days living on Advil, anti-inflamatories, Z-pak, an inhaler, dozens of bottled waters, and whatever food I could swallow or force myself to eat.

During this time alone I had an epiphany. While sitting in bed watching the local news I realized how I was just experiencing one virus and although it was incredibly painful, it was temporary. There are people my age I know who go through traumatizing events, who lose loved ones, who suffer life-threatening diseases- none of which are temporary. After this realization, I began to force myself to get better. I willed myself to move and to eat more and I’ve been getting healthier every day. Being sick has made me appreciate my life so much more and I no longer plan on wasting my time watching television or sleeping in. When my mononucleosis is finally gone I plan on living life to the fullest and getting as much out of everyday as I can.

Life is short, summer is short, high school is short and time is forever moving, so we must never stop moving either.  Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: June 27- July 1, 2011

"Show me the money."

By Mckinzie Step, High School Editor

Whether you call it moolah, dough, greenbacks, or the root of all things evil, we cannot turn a cheek to the lucid reality that money is the steering wheel by which our society is driven. Be it a credit card or the face of Alexander Hamilton on a ten dollar bill, the superiority and significance we have placed in the American Dollar is doubtlessly monumental.
 
Within the previous week, it bas been my experience to discover just how much of a role money plays in the daily lives and thoughts of an economically centered society and culture. I was given the opportunity to participate in a local serving project with the goal of washing people’s cars for free, and then in turn, giving the driver money as opposed to actually receiving it. The experience was not only a turn of the tables, but a twist that was truly thought provoking.
 
High SchoolWe know that nothing is free. We must purchase food, transportation, utilities, education and entertainment. In our world today, people need jobs and occupations through which surrounding communities must revolve and use to their advantage. In the reality of things, a car wash is performed with the goal of either providing paychecks to an employee or collecting money for an upcoming event or ongoing project. I stood on the median between passing cars and business trucks, waving neon yellow posterboards displaying “Free Car Wash” across the center. Drivers and passengers alike would chuckle, scoff, smile, give me a wave of the hand, or slow to a stop and question me as to whether or not this alleged car wash was truly free. As I answered yes, heads would turn and cars would pull in.
 
Temperatures would rise well into the high 90’s and low 100’s, and I would sit on a curb and wonder just how society would look if we would take the occasional moment to offer up a product or a service for free. Not just a “buy one get one free” Mcdonalds coupon or a typical company marketing strategy, but a true act of selfless servitude that could very well change the thoughts and the heart of someone on the receiving end.
 
 
I would wave a sign, scrub a tire, dry a windshield, or talk to a driver. The suspicions were high, but I was there to serve and not to receive what they were eventually willing to offer. I’ve come to understand that money is not only a necessity to living, but it is expected of us and has become embedded into the way our minds are wired and running. A man on the corner with a purple backpack and metal thermos moved me off of the median with a hesitant apology, reminding me he needed food and money for transportation while I probably had a car and a house. I smiled and stood on a community bench across from him, waving my sign and watching those I was with give away dollars to reapers of our service. Some would gasp, some would sit still, some would show us an unintended sense of gratitude and gratefulness.
 
What if we gave selflessly? What if we could at least, on occasion, give and get nothing for what we gave? Could we alter a generation and walk in the opposite direction?

What if we gave selflessly? What if we could at least, on occasion, give and get nothing for what we gave? Could we alter a generation and walk in the opposite direction?  Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay
Teen Editor's Welcome: June 21-27, 2011

ONE MORE TIME, AGAIN

By Amanda Perlmutter, High School Editor

Confusion can cause confusion
And so on and on it goes
Always running in circles
Whilst hoping it doesn’t show
Everything was twisted
High SchoolCan it be undone?
Is this a battle?
If so, have I won?

Hoping this is over
But will it ever end?
All I ever wanted
Was to be your friend
Broken promises
I intend to mend
Can we please start over?
One more time, again...

Are you ready to start over?  Don't forget to enter the monthly teen writing contest!

High School Editor Essay
High School Editor Essay

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