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WCFL Teens Blog

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News from the Teens of Washington County, MD
Updated: 2 hours 1 min ago

Dear Mr. President

4 hours 4 min ago

By Hunter Seymour, Staff Reporter

Dear Mr. President,

I know that there are many issues in this country that need to be addressed. However, I urge you to consider one of your tasks to be addressing the problem of gun control. Currently our country is suffering from this constant argument of how to resolve this issue. I am here to ask you to create some basic laws for gun control. Creating small but effective laws will help to decrease the use of guns in violent acts and the distribution of guns to violent groups and convicted felons.

According to Stephen E. Wright’s article on the subject, gun control laws will not save lives: protesters against gun laws say that “Guns are used by violent people too frequently in this country, but guns are not responsible for creating violent people, they created themselves“. I agree with this statement but, even Wright says here that guns are used too much in this country for violent crimes.Therefore, simple, but effective, gun laws could help reduce the violence and accidents that revolve around gun use in our country.

Many states have already taken this step in implementing simple gun laws. In Virginia, there is a one-gun-a-month law that is in place to reduce gun trafficking.It has reduced greatly the amount of out of state crime guns traced back to Virginia dealers. The implementation of these simple state laws can help reduce the violent effect of guns on our county while not necessarily “rocking the boat” on the restrictions of gun use.

Many of the citizens in our country are actually for these common sense gun laws. Statistics that Watkins’s article on stronger gun laws provides shows that nationwide polling data shows that respondents are highly in favor of basic laws for the safety of the user, and any other person around the user or that the user is targeting. the safety of other citizens through the restriction of sales, and the restrictions on the usage of the firearms. “92% of respondents, including 91% of gun owners, favor mandatory criminal background checks for all gun purchasers.”

This is saying that even gun owners believe that background checks should be performed when purchasing a gun which would make the purchasing process harder for the consumer. Around 80% of the citizens surveyed, including 70% of these citizens being gun owners, agree with implementing the requirement of registration of newly purchased handguns. This would increase the safety of gun use by allowing newly purchased guns to be tracked and make it easier to control unregistered gun usage in any way.

Image via Flickr.

Watkin’s article also uses the nationwide polling to show that citizens are for these simple, common sense laws by polling citizens on if they are for laws that increase the safety of other citizens through the restriction of sales and the usage of purchased firearms. Around mid-80% of respondents, including about 73% of these respondents being gun owners, favor  the creation of laws that restrict handgun usage by purchasers until a permit is obtained. This could insure that the purchaser is at least educated on the safety of the gun and knows how to properly use it. Lastly, Watkins informs that “65% of respondents favor banning military style assault weapons, and 74.9% favor governmental safety standards for firearms.” This would also lead to an increase in the safety of a firearm and the safety of the people around the user of a firearm.

These small laws for guns are just like what automobiles have before they are distributed. According to Watkins, automobiles “are subject to a myriad of federal health and safety standards to protect their owners and the public,” so why are guns not treated with the same standards.If the citizens of the United States, most of them gun owners, agree with the implementation these small laws than it shows that these laws are something that should be made official in the entire United States.

I know that the issue of gun laws is an issue of concern throughout our country and that is why I write to you today about it. This is an issue that needs to be addressed before it gets out of hand. People will take solutions into their own hands to protect themselves and their family from the harm of guns in the wrong hands. I hope these points and statistics  have shed some light on the fact that a majority of people in this country would support the creation of common sense gun laws and the importance of the look into this very serious issue in our country.

                                                        Sincerely,

                                                                       A Concerned Citizen

 


Film Haikus

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 12:55

By Andrew Santori, Staff Reporter

Image via Pixabay.

Great Stanley Kubrick

With his grand orchestral track

And his trademark glare

 

With his pop soundtrack,

gore and killer dialogue,

Quentin’s films are great.

 

The Coen Brothers

are masters of mystery

and Black Comedy.

 

Hey! Say what again!

Say what again, I dare you!

Say what one more time!

 

I’ll strike down on thee

with great vengeance and fury.

And you’ll know The Lord!Hey, dad. Viddy that,

a strange man on the sofa

munchywunching toast.

 

This is what happens!

Where’s the money, Lebowski?

They peed on my rug.

 

This is my rifle!

There are many more like it.

But this one is mine!

 

Open the door, HAL.

I am sorry about that,

I can’t do that Dave.

 

Where is pancakes house?

We stop at the pancakes house.

I’m hungry, ya know?

 

Everyone asks me

If I had gone to film school.

No, I went to films.


Where I’m From

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 17:18

By Isabella Hendershot, Staff Reporter

Image via Flickr.

I am from the new and old books,

from fictional things and true stories told.

I am from the large room of mine,

and the big wooden desk sitting in my room that’s cluttered with things.

 

I am from the books of mine that are written in the first person

and the smell of fresh new pages and the brand new copies,

From staying up late,

and ‘just one more chapter’ or ‘10 more minutes.’

 

I am from learning new recipes

and the sound of an electric mixer.

From the smell of baking cookies

and family dinners.

 

I am from Mike and Amy,

From my extended family the love we all share.

I am from my father’s stories of him in school,

and how he met my momma.

I come from my protective family and my father’s many friends.

 

I am from my Pappy and grandmother who I see on Christmas,

From pap’s beef soup that we all love,

and his jumping dog colt.

 

I come from my books and family,

I wouldn’t want to come from anything else.

This I where I’m from.


My Inspirations

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 14:59

By: Hunter Seymour, Staff Reporter

Leo Tolstoy, a famous Russian author, once said “The most important person is the one you are with in this moment”. This quote is touching on the idea that the people close to you, directly through relationships or indirectly through the public eye or someone you do not really talk to, have an influence on you in someway even if you do not know it. These influences can be both negative and positive and affect you everyday of your life. These influences can also be in the form of inspiration.

One person that has influenced me like this is my mother. Most people have some form of this parental influence through their years of growing up. However, I feel I was lucky in this aspect because my mother was a stay-home mother. This has caused my mother to pretty much be around all the time.

This may seem like it would be annoying, which sometimes it is, but it has allowed me to be taught many things. An example of this is my mother always telling me what to do and not do. Whenever I would act a certain way my mother would correct me if what I was doing was rude or wrong and she would also tell me if my actions were exactly how I should be carrying myself.

I believe this has shaped my viewpoint on many things in life and how I act and behave in different situations.

My mother has also influenced me through the way she acts and reacts when thrown into either a bad or foreign situation. In the past couple years there has been many situations that either my family or just my mother have been apart of.

In these situations many bad things could have resulted or even just a simple mental and emotional breakdown could occur. However, in these situations my mother has carried herself in a very proper and nonviolent matter that I believe that if I had been in that situation there probably would have been some very loud arguing and yes, properly some swearing.

My mother never acted in any way like that and that has shown me that many situations do not need to turn out so horrid and intolerable but all you need to do is to take a big breath and relax and go at the situation in an understanding and proper mindset.

Lastly, my mother has always cared for me and my sister and that is something that I admire and inspires me. You all may be thinking “well, isn’t that her job?” and I would agree with you on that but what I mean by that is that me and my sister are not as easy to handle and deal with as some people believe.

Throughout our years of growing up we had done, and sometimes still do, many things that we probably should not have done. However, my mother always came at us from the angle that all of this is life lessons that we ourselves need to learn and she is just there to guide us and care for us through those lessons…and of course give those occasional groundings that we all dread and deeply hate.

Citizens of the world are also influenced today through the public eye. These influences come through, a lot of the time, as inspirations on how to take on different aspects of life or even bad influences on what you should not do or partake in. In this day and age, a lot of these type of public influence come through our sports players of today. This leads me into my next influential person in life.

This person would be Tony Romo, now backup quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. I choose Tony Romo because, like my mom, he has led by example and has influenced and inspired people through how they hold themselves. Anybody that truly knows me knows that I am a diehard Washington Redskins fan and for anybody that knows about the National Football League knows that if you are a Redskins fan ,you automatically dislike the Cowboys with a passion.

However, even though I do not like the team Tony Romo plays on or his performance when he is playing against the Redskins, his actions and his drive in the past couple of years of his career have inspired me and influenced how I see sports.

The first way Tony Romo has influenced me is through the way he has acted in the past. For the people who are not as into football, Tony Romo used to be the starter until his multiple injuries and the emergence of the talents of a rookie quarterback that has now taken his place.

When Tony Romo had a press conference about his recent recovery and demotion to being a back-up he responded, “You earn everything, every single day, over and over again. You have to prove it. That’s the way the NFL, that’s the way that football works. Ultimately, it’s about the team, that’s what we’ve preached our entire lives.” The way that he held himself in this situation and how he shows that it is not always about yourself but what is better for the system, in this case the team, is what I find to inspirational to all people in some form of a sport and how life in general should be taken. Everything you achieve is earned through your actions.

The second way Tony has had an influence on me is through his drive to achieve his goal and to continue to do what he desires to do. In the past two seasons, Tony has broken his back and his collar bone twice. The second injury came just a couple of weeks after his return from his first injury. However, even with these injuries and the negativeness from the press and fans Tony has continued to push through and continue to work his way through his recovery so that he may be able to return back to the field.

During his press conference he had stated that “If you think for a second that I don’t want to be out there, then you’ve probably never felt the pure ecstasy of competing and winning. That hasn’t left me. In fact, it may burn more now than ever.” This has influenced me because it has shown me that it is not always about the fame and money for some professional sports players but for the love of the game.

I have always loved the sports I play and have always felt that you should enjoy what you are doing. However, sometimes that can be hard when you are not getting to participate as much as you like to. Tony and many other players like him remind us players that it is not always easy and remember to always push through those questionable moments and remember that what you are doing is for the love and enjoyment of the game.

Lasty, Tony Romo has influenced me through his repeated success on the field. I know that this may seem a little blunt and relatable to a lot of professional sports players but, that is what makes sports great today and Tony Romo is a very good example of that.

His success and many other professional’s similar success has inspired me throughout my years of playing sports in high school through the fact that if you continue to work hard it will show on the field. This influence along with Tony Romo’s many others has shaped my outlook on the many sports that I love and life in general.  

He ended his press conference with saying that “I think once you control the one inside of you, the one across from you doesn’t really matter.” He was saying that you cannot worry about what the person in front of you is doing or how they are performing; the only thing you can worry about is what you do.

Tony has influenced all people who have watched him by showing that the many things that we may desire in life are not just handed to you but are achieved through the work and heart you decide to put into it.

Overall, the influences and inspirations we generate for other people or the ones that people generate for us will, in fact, affect your life in ways that you may not even notice or understand.

If you look at the definition of inspiration it states that it is  “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”. When I hear this definition my mind immediately sets on the use of one word. That one word would be “creative”. I believe that the word creative fits perfectly with this definition because the word inspiration and to be inspirational is uniquely different for each and every person. All of you sitting in this room have expressed or are soon to express who inspires and influences you.

Your inspirations are all based on your creativity and aspirations or someone else’s. I believe it is astonishing on how people are inspired and inspire others around the world in so many different and creative ways through their influences just like my mom and Tony Romo has done for me. 


Pokemon Tips

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 14:34

By Donovan Goode, Staff Reporter

For any of you Pokemon fans out there, this is a page you can go to if you want guides on how to use the games or tricks to use while playing. Want to know what supercheats to use, how to beat a gym the right way, or where to go to continue your quest to catch them all?

Check out: https://www.supercheats.com/search.php

Image via Flickr.

Need some general tips?

  • Electric type Pokemon, like Pikachu, are really good against ghost types.
  • Fire type moves and Pokemon are really effective against grass type Pokemon.
  • Water type/Pokemon are really effective against fire type Pokemon.
  • Grass type moves/Pokemon are really effective against water type Pokemon.
  • Psychic type moves/Pokemon are really effective against flying types and dark type Pokemon.
  • Electric types also super effective against water types.
  • And  ghost types are super effective against psychic type Pokemon, but if you have a high enough level psychic Pokemon you would be able to kill it. Just make sure the ghost type has a ground type move to attack with.

And there’s some things you guys should know about Pokemon! They even work in the new Pokemon games.

I don’t know about dragon types yet. Any pointers?


Women’s History Month in Maryland

Wed, 03/29/2017 - 17:58

By Marinia Powell, Staff Reporter and Senior Staff Photographer

Women’s History Month in Maryland

Why have a month solely dedicated to women’s history?

“Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less.”  ~ Myra Pollack Sadker

Women have always had roles in history, but unlike most of their male counterparts, their achievements have gone unrecognized. For as long as there has been history there has been women’s history, which means there is a lot of forgotten heroes and, with so much to discover, it can be hard to know where to start. However, one of the best ways is to start on a local level.

Image via Flickr.

The Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.

Established in 1985, the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame is an online resource showcasing Maryland’s best and brightest. The physical hall of fame is located in front of the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center. It’s like the one for Baseball, except less popular.

The Maryland Women’s Heritage Center

The MWHC was established as one of the only museums in America solely dedicated to a state’s female achievements. Located in Baltimore, the museum has free admission and aims to educate the public on Maryland’s brightest daughters.

Suggested further reading:

Wild Women of Maryland

By Lauren Silberman

From the first woman to lead a military charge in American history to freedom fighters. An arctic explorer to a “supposed” baby killer. “Lady Law” to lady lawmakers to a “Divine” cross dresser, this book catalog’s Maryland’s brightest (and infamous) women.

 

 


Roses

Sun, 03/26/2017 - 15:03

By Isabella Hendershot, Staff Reporter

Well, ma, I’ll tell you:

Life for me is gonna be like a bundle of roses.

Sometimes my thorns will hurt people, sometimes I’ll be down, sometimes people will look at my

beauty, outside and in.

I’ll grow and thrive with the care I’m given.

Sunlight and water I take in.

Some days will be good, my colors will be vibrant and pure.

But some days will be bad, dryin’ up an witherin’ off my stem.

I’m still gonna be growin’ and fightin’ ’till i can’t no more, ma, i promise you that.

An life for me is gonna be like a bundle of roses, i promise you that.

Image via Flickr.


Humor for Your Heart

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 17:21

By: Hunter Seymour, Staff Reporter

Have you had a good laugh today?

If you have not then you better get a good one in before the day is over because it could save your life. Laughter is our bodies biological reaction to moments of humor. Humor is an aspect of our everyday lives that many of us easily overlook, however, it can increase your quality of life.

Humor and laughter have long been considered to have some positive impacts on our health but, their benefits have not been scientifically revealed until the past couple of centuries. Humor therapy was first revealed in 1979 when MD-holder Norman Cousins authored the book “Anatomy of Illnesses”.

His book elaborated on how Norman used laughter to help ease the severe pain of the inflammation of his tissues he was experiencing due to a non curable disease. Since then research has led to the revelation that laughter has many mental, physical and chemical benefits to the healthy life that all of us want to live.

Everyday life has its stresses.

These stresses can cause our everyday lives to be tougher than they should be. They can also cause us to be more susceptible to infections and cause our personal behavior to be affected. However, according to the Mayo clinic, laughter has some short term effects that help reduce our stresses and the effects they have on our bodies.

Our bodies stress response can be quickly fired up and cooled down when we react to humor. This causes a temporary increase in our blood pressure and heart rate that results in an overall relaxed feeling and helps to relieve our stress. Many of us also suffer from physical symptoms of stress such as tense and achy muscles.

Laughter can also help with these symptoms through relaxing the muscles not included in laughter while you’re laughing and follow up with relaxing the utilized muscles after your laughter has ended. Having a good laugh every now and again can help you cope with even the most problematic of situations and help to release some of the stresses that always seem to come with them.

I now want you to close your eyes and think of something that makes you laugh whether it is your basic video of a cat chasing a laser pointer and runs into a wall or just a good “Yo’ Momma” joke.

If you could laugh at that for at least one minute then you just gave your body a very effective workout. According to William Fry, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, one minute of laughter equals ten minutes of working out on the rowing machine. This workout stemmed from laughter can provide good conditioning for your cardiac, facial, back, and abdominal muscles and is said to be the equivalent of “internal jogging.”

 

Humor also has many positive effects on the different systems of our body. One of the higher effected systems is the cardiovascular system and the heart. University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore has done a recent study that shows that there may be a connection between laughter and prevention of heart disease. The study found that patients with heart disease had a lower sense of humor, were 40 percent less likely to laugh in different situations, and displayed more hostility and anger in different situations.

The reason that laughter seems to have some correlation with heart disease has not quite yet been fully determined but it does have some effect on our heart’s overall health. Our immune system is critical for fighting diseases. Studies at Loma Linda University have revealed that laughter strengthens that process by increasing the amount of antibodies, which fight infection, in our blood.

Overall, humor helps support our body’s systems in ways that we did not know it could.

Hormones are molecules that circulate through our bodies and regulate our physiology (normal functions of living organisms) and behaviour. If these hormones fluctuate between their normal levels in the body, they can cause illnesses, stress, and other problems for our health.

However, laughter can help regulate hormone levels as well. According to the University of Kentucky’s Health Education Through Extension Leadership program, laughter has been proven to reduce at least four of the neuro-endocrine hormones associated with stress and other illnesses. These hormones are cortisol, dopamine, growth hormone, and epinephrine. Laughter can also increase the production of neuropeptides which help fight stress and other serious illnesses.

Overall, everybody needs to have some form of humor and laughter in their lives. This behavioral action, however small and quick it may be, is vital for the homeostatic balance and improvement of your health and quality of life.

Laughter is so important in our lives that babies began to laugh at the age of four months. This is two months earlier than the earliest an average baby will start to form words such as “mama”.

It is not even just that laughter has many health benefits that we may not have known about, but the fact that it lightens up our moods and everybody around us. This makes the highly tense and stressful world  around us seem a little more bearable. And who knows, it might just save your life one day.


Classic Book of the Month: March

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 18:50

By Marinia Powell, Staff Reporter and Senior Staff Photographer

Our Classic Book of the Month for the month of March is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

What is it about? Usually, with classic books we’re able to conclude that after some reflection on the story. “The Great Gatsby” was a cautionary tale, “Pride and Prejudice” was about looking beneath the surface, and, yes, “Frankenstein” proved why grave robbing is illegal now. But seemingly, when reflecting on this book, there is no meaning.

Zora Neale Hurston, the author, was born in 1891, although she changed the date throughout her life. Hurston experienced financial insecurity throughout her life, but maintained a unique personality throughout her life. She co-wrote a play with Langston Hughes and was a part of the Harlem Renaissance but also criticized the school integration decision in the case of “Brown v. the Board of Education.”

Image via neh.gov.

At her first award dinner she won four awards, and at the after party she strode in, dramatically threw her colorful scarf over her shoulder, and called out “Color Struck!” the name of her award winning play, forcing the party to temporarily stop and look at her.

While traveling through Haiti recording stories from the black community she wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God over the course of a few weeks (this was probably not one of the stretched truths she put in her autobiography, “Dust Tracks on a Road” but with 256 pages worth of well written story I wish it was).

It was published in 1937, with little praise. Her fellow Harlem Renaissance writers found it to have too much emphasis on the folk aspect of the black community as well as a misrepresentation of black men with no real meaning.

At it’s core, the book is the story of the protagonist Janie Crawford’s life. But what is the meaning? It doesn’t follow her from birth to death, it follows her from seventeen to forty, and she never really reaches an epiphany.

One way to view her story is as a lesson. All major changes in her life come from other people. Maybe that’s not because she’s passive, but because of the world she lives in which also means that her choices were more rebellious than they seem. Instead of staying on the farm her whole life, Janie follows a smooth talking stranger to a completely new place.

Instead of staying as a proper mayor’s the wife the rest of her life, she follows another, younger man to a new place and changes in her fancy skirts and dresses for overalls. Janie’s story is, like any other book, what you take away from it.


Views and Lessons from the Potomac

Sun, 03/12/2017 - 15:45

A Collection of Photos of the Potomac River and Thoughtful Quotations

By: Hunter Seymour, Staff Reporter

Scenic view of the river and mountains from the rocks.

It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.(Sir Edmund Hillary)

Beautiful sunset through the trees from the view of the trails.

Even through the darkness, the beautiful things in life always shine through.” (Hunter Seymour)

Sunset from behind the clouds.

There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.” (Linda Hogan)

The reflection of life through the reflection of a sunset on the clear canvas of water.

Everything starts with a sunrise, but it’s what we do before it sets that matters.” (K. McGraw)

Sunset over the trees for the beach of the lake.

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” (Anonymous)


Librarian Picks: A Tyranny of Petticoats

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 17:53

By Ms. Sarah, Group Adviser

A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers, and Other Badass Girls, edited by Jessica Spotswood, is the perfect read for Women’s History Month. Why, you ask?

It’s all in the title– this selection of short stories by several wonderful authors feature girls throughout history making history. You may have heard of big-name authors like Marissa Meyer and Marie Lu. Now, you get to explore their creative minds in a new way. You may also discover some new favorite YA authors!

By Simini Blocker (www.siminiblocker.tumblr.com)

Whether it’s on a pirate ship or in the middle of a bank heist, these stories will draw you in immediately. From murders to marriages, the characters are thrown into some situations that would be hard to believe if they weren’t so similar to things that actually happened to real women in history. It’s amazing!

I also like that the stories are in chronological order. You can skip from one era to the next like flipping channels on the TV….except there’s something good on every channel and they’re all like the History Channel (when it had actual shows about history) and each one is about a woman taking charge of her life and being, in most cases, generally awesome!

 


Words on a Page

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 18:29

By Isabella Hendershot, Staff Reporter

From cover to cover, front to back, page to page, word for word. I believe the words I am reading are more than just words on the page in front of me.

To me the words in the books I’m reading make me feel like I’m not alone. They make me feel like someone is with me. The words that I read take me somewhere else, away from reality, to somewhere I can be a someone else, feel like I have someone else with me.

When my best friend moved, I wanted to be in one of the stories that I love to read. I believed that reading those words from page to page, that mean so much more to me than just a book in my hand or on a screen, was the only thing that could keep me sane on that day.

My reading takes me somewhere else and I am one of the few people who don’t just see words on a page or screen but I see them as a different life, an adventure, a new journey that I’m on.

I remember that day so clearly. It was the 1st or 2nd day back to school after Halloween and for the past two days she wasn’t in school. I was a worried, i thought that something was wrong, I then remembered that she also told me she might be moving soon but that it would probably be in the middle of the year. But that day I was crushed.

Image via Max Pixel.

I knew that if she did move it would crush me. So when I went to the library for lunch and one of her other friends told me she moved I didn’t know what to do. It felt like everything stopped, I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t think straight, but the one thought I remember so clearly that was going through my head was “how could this be happening to me right now? I just saw her 2 days ago and now she’s gone.”

After having my moment of shock, I distracted myself with my reading, trying to forget at least until classes were over because I knew if I didn’t I would have a breakdown in the middle of school and I didn’t think I would be able to handle that, then continued on with the my classes for the rest of the day.

In class if I didn’t work I was reading just so I wouldn’t have a break down. Reading was the thing that I needed that day I found out she was gone because whenever I read I’m somewhere else, I am living in someone else’s shoes, even if it is one of the many great fiction stories that I have read.

Now that I think back to that day I think the book that I would have wanted to be a part of the most was a story I read the previous year. The book was called Entwined. I think that book fit my situation more than any other book I can remember reading because Azalea, the main character, thought it was unfair that her mother died. She thought it was unfair her mother was taken away from her just like how I thought it was unfair that my best friend was taken away from me. Azalea also had her way of coping with it by dancing just as I have my way by reading.

I could relate to Azalea because we both wanted to be somewhere else,

to be in a fairy tale where we could have no worries and do the things we loved most because it was the one thing that would keep us sane in one of our most heartbreaking situations that we have experienced.

The words on the page of the books I read are much more than that. Those words helped me when I needed to get away from everything and when I needed to feel like someone is there for me. I hope you can see them as more than just meaningless words because to me they are more than just words on a page.


How to #Resist

Sun, 02/26/2017 - 15:05

By Marinia Powell, Staff Reporter and Senior Staff Photographer

In the wake of the recent election, many people are still feeling jilted and displaced, and that’s good. The election gave us new perspectives on what feels like an above-our-heads political system.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

People go their entire lives not getting involved with the political system and not gaining an understanding of how it works, which is not good. At the end of the day, our representatives, senators, mayors, and even the president, work for us.

And even if you can’t vote yet, it’s still our job to remind them that they’re there as long as we elect and we will be in a few years. Every one-in-four Americans is under 18, so if we want change, then we can make change.

Resisting isn’t all protests, here are a few simple ways you can get involved at any level you are comfortable on:

  • Write a postcard to your local senator (the local senators for Washington county are Sen. Benjamin Cardin and Sen. Chris Van Hollen).
  • Join a place like Meetup.com to find local groups with shared interests.
  • Look into a political volunteering opportunity.

 

How to contact our local senators:

Senator Benjamin Cardin

509 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC, 20510.

Phone: 202 224 4524

https://www.cardin.senate.gov/contact

 

Senator Chris Van Hollen

B40c Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC, 20510.

Phone: 301 942 3768

https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/content/contact-senator


The Coffee Shop

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 17:37

By a Teen Writer

   I watch as the little rain drops tap against the wide window. Listening to the traffic beyond that point, interrupted with a jingle of the door every now and then. My hands are filled with warmth, as I slowly wrap my boney fingers around a white coffee mug. Lifting the cup to my chapped pink lips, I inhale the fragrance of hazelnut. Closing my eyes to enjoy the almost silence, aside from the hum of the music.

   “Kayla!” my best friends voice breaks me from my thoughts. A warm smile grows on my face as I already picture the radiant glow of her face. “I have so much to tell you.” she continues, making herself comfortable in the seat across from mine.

“As do I.” I looked at her with a comforting smile. She looked at me funny and my stomach started to turn, wondering if somehow she already knew what I was about to tell her. My hands become clammy and I try to focus on what words are coming out of her mouth but I fail.

   “I’m pregnant.” I blurt out, straight word vomit. My eyes grow wide as the realization sets in on what I just said. Abbey sits there in front of me with a blank stare. With my stomach feeling like a volcano just exploded, I grow weary.

   A bright white perfect smile appears on my best friend’s face. With that smile, as if every worry about the baby slipped from my mind, I knew everything was going to work out okay.


Classic Book of the Month: February

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 16:32

By Marinia Powell, Staff Reporter and Senior Staff Photographer

When people think February, they usually think romance. You know, the kind where you go back to your home town and go stab-happy-revenge-questing.

So, most people don’t know there are two kinds of romance. One is the kind we’re all familiar with; the hearts, kisses, and chocolates kind. The other is a form of writing that puts emphasis on individualism, nature, and (I cannot stress this enough) emotion and was especially popular in art, music and literature.

The Count of Monte Cristo is based on the true story of Pierre Picaud, who was in 1807, France, framed for treason by three men whom he thought were friends. He returned seventeen years later a different, darker person leaving a wake of destruction and murder in his former town until he was eventually abducted by the last living friend-turned-conspirator and stabbed to death, the same fate he had inflicted on the others. (Irony much? Crime resulting from revenge doesn’t pay, kids.)

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The story then got a second life when it came to the attention of multi-racial Parisian playwright Alexandre Dumas. From there he was inspired to write an alternate story and, collaborating with Auguste Maquet, he wrote the Count of Monte Cristo.

Romanticism is tricky for me, especially the kind based on true stories. That’s usually the kind that turns people with good reason to be doing what they’re doing into despicable villains, or alters monsters into heroes for the sake of what the author finds is a more exciting story, but I believe Dumas uses it well.

The Count lives a considerably longer time than Picaud, ( i. e. he’s not stabbed to death within a few weeks of initiating his plan) which gives him time to complete his plot, which is similar to the real story in that it’s packed full of murder and complicated plans, (X3 more than Picaud’s, plus swords instead of knives and really, really complicated family trees with some stuff that is thankfully illegal now) but it also gives him enough time to look around and wonder if he’s gone too far and that, in a way, gives Pierre Picaud a happy ending because he never got the chance to.

But as I was reading it, it made me wonder if someone who had caused so much destruction, ripped so many people whom he had never met lives apart and had completely driven into the ground those who he did, deserved a happy ending, or if he had gone too far?

That’s a big part of the Classic Book of the Month. It’s for you to form your own thoughts and opinions and maybe even alternate theories on and hopefully give you other people to discuss them with.


Blonde: A Review

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 13:41

By Farene Shahid and Maria Mir

After four years of silence, Frank Ocean released “Blonde”– a collection of 16 mesmerizing and hypnotic songs. His first album, “Channel Orange” was standout in 2012 with Ocean debuting its decadence, disregard of sexuality, and discussion of his romantic life.

However, “Blonde” has a different twist; the psychedelic, eloquent melody that Ocean creates- it has a more intimate, more mature nature in conveying his sentiments.

 

Image via Flickr.com

The subject of “Blonde” travels from the matter of the African-American struggle to the Ocean’s personal struggle regarding heartbreak. Nikes, the leading single, exemplifies Ocean’s style in its unconventional lyrics, “his girl keep the scales, some little mermaid” while a few lines before Ocean references a key figure in the Black Lives Matter movement: “Rip Trayvon, that n*gga look just like me.” The disassociated, yet deceptively real way in which Ocean captures your attention, deserves album of the year.

 

While this message appears political in nature, “Blonde” goes far beyond a statement about the police; Ocean conveys stories about everyday life and sorrow, heartbreak, and everything else, all wrapped up in a smooth, intoxicating delivery that is as addictive as the intrinsic melody behind each track. The focus revolves around emotions, heavy or light, and that itself makes “Blonde” relatable to nearly everyone.

One of Ocean’s more notable song includes “Godspeed,” popular among fans for a

Image via rootdownrecords.com

multitude of reasons. Rather than the more harsh, forward style that rappers usually performs in- Ocean soulfully articulates a letter, wishing someone good luck. The substance itself, deviates from the expected; the artist even commented on the influence on the sixteenth song of the track in a Tumblr post, “I wrote a story in the middle – it’s called ‘Godspeed’. It’s basically a reimagined part of my boyhood. Boys do cry, but I don’t think I shed a tear for a good chunk of my teenage years. It’s surprisingly my favourite part of my life so far. Surprising, to me, because the current phase is what I was asking the cosmos for when I was a kid. Maybe that part had it’s rough stretches too, but in my rearview mirror it’s getting small enough to convince myself it was all good. And really though… It’s still all good.”

Not every person has the same taste, especially regarding music. However, Frank Ocean transcends the traditional genre of rap and music by miles.

 


Quiz: What Classic Book Should You Read?

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 18:21

By Marinia Powell, Senior Staff Photographer and Staff Reporter

What classic book are you? Play along and keep track of your score!

Question 1:

You’re deciding how to get to your destination. Which path do you choose?

A; the dark and foggy one. It might not look all that great but it’s the shortest one.

B; the one that may hold the most dangerous but also the most exciting.

C; you decide to take the shortcut and try to get there faster than everyone else.

D; the sunny, scenic one of course!

 

 

Question 2:

You see an accident on the side of the road which disabled a vehicle, leaving the driver stranded. What do you do?

A; you hurry over to see if anyone’s hurt and if you can help.

B; you look at it from a distance and decide to keep going.

C; you immediately turn around and go for help after seeing no one is mortally wounded.

D; you note what they did wrong and continue on your way. It’s none of your business what went down there.

 

Question 3:

You come to a stop at a bridge. There’s a woman who decides who goes through and who doesn’t, and she doesn’t look like she wants to let you go very much. You:

A; decide you’re not going to embarrass yourself and beg her. It’s not an emergency, after all, and she’ll come around.

B; come up with an emergency excuse for getting across. A little fib isn’t gonna hurt anyone.

C; you honorably beg.

D; you turn on the charm. You’re sure you’ll go through in minutes.

 

Question 4:

You’ve made it across somehow and you’re making your way down the road, when a stranger asks if he can tag along with you. You:

A; ask every question you can think of after his credentials.

B; slip out of sight and go a different way.

C; kindly refuse.

D; respond yes. He can be anybody from anywhere, not just a mugger!

 

Question 5:

You’re utterly lost. The sun is setting and the party is starting soon. You:

A; keep walking. You’ll find your way.

B; stop and look around for any landmarks to tell you where you are.

C; stop dead. If you see a way out then good, but you’re not going anywhere until someone comes along.

D; ask the tag along buddy!

 

Question 6:

You’ve made it! Now it’s time to make your entrance. You:

A; just walk in, no fan fare needed.

B; sneak in and surprise your friends!

C; you go in immediately. No lateness on your account today!

D; stop and wait to be fashionably late.

 

Question 7:

You’ve made your entrance, but it seems you’ve stolen the show from your friend, whose party this is. You:

A; wonder how it’s possible for to steal the show from anyone.

B; feel bad because you wanted to be a show stopper but wasn’t expecting the consequences, then try to make it up to them.

C; fall back immediately. It’s their party, after all.

D; clap him on the back and call for the crowd to give him some love.

 

Final question:

It’s time to go. You can stay and clean up, but it would involve doing it with the girl who shares way too much personal information and is a gossip monster, and if you stay, then she’s gonna think you’re besties. You:

A; stay anyway to help and see how much you can take.

B; you want to help, but…

C; decide to send something nice for the host in the morning.

D; not gonna happen. Thank him for the party and exit.

 

Score Tallies:

 

Mostly A…

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Like the main character you like to be understated most of the time, but when it comes to it your friends know you’re there no matter what.

 

Mostly B…

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

You like to take the road less traveled and be inventive. You don’t take everything people say as how it’s suppose to be. If you can’t find adventure where you are, then you’ll just have to find it where you’re going.

 

Mostly C…

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

You know what you want and you immediately look for ways to get it. You’re a go getter and inventive. You have fun when the time calls for it, but when it doesn’t you’re onto your next idea.

 

Mostly D…

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

It’s not that you don’t pay attention, you just look at things as how they seem and don’t make a habit of doing it another way. However, if you’re suddenly proven wrong, which does not happen often, you’re willing to look at it a different way.

 

 


Teen Romance

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 16:19

By Marinia Powell, Staff Reporter and Senior Staff Photographer 

   Teen romance is highly publicized and, in some cases, overly so. Although there isn’t anything wrong with it, it can make the rest of us feel, well, alone. The teen love/first love thing can put pressure on some people who feel like they’ll die alone as they watch all the TV characters and personal friends go out and have first kisses as they sit alone.

Image via Flickr.

   Sometimes it can even put pressure on people to go out with someone they don’t actually like. I’ve had to catch myself, or even been caught before, almost going out with someone I had nothing in common with or wanted to go out with me for the wrong reason. But as I sit on the couch watching my favorite shows and seeing romances form between characters, or reading a book where the relationship of my dreams is played out like a reality, I can’t help but feel like I’ll never have one of my own. This can be especially hard for people in the LGBTQ+ community because the large majority of relationships depicted involve straight people.

   But I’ve realized something; I don’t particularly need anyone like that in my life right now. Of course I want to be in a relationship someday, but so little of my life has been played out that I shouldn’t be thinking about dying alone. And although you should always keep in mind how much you actually have in common with someone, that doesn’t mean you only have to date people on your level. It means you need to wait for the right person.

   What if you’re midway through your night out when you learn that your date routinely make fun of your favorite things and try to make you see it their way, no choices? And if you don’t know what you want in a person? Then maybe you should stand back and figure that out. Although you shouldn’t write an entire page of your diary on what your dream mate is, come up with the basic things you find attractive.

Image via MaxPixel.

   For instance, say you couldn’t hang out with someone who couldn’t make you laugh, or someone who wasn’t up for trying something new? It’s not a crime to gather information on someone before going out with them. Maybe monitor their speech to see if they talk about themselves a bit too much? Or crack a few jokes to see if you have the same sense of humor? Or maybe ask them what their favorite and least favorite things are?

   And once again, if you don’t find anyone interesting enough or interested in you enough, then save the questions for another day, because there is someone out there waiting for you, you just need to be patient. Plus, as everyone is getting dates left and right and you’re not, it’s not anything bad. It just means that maybe you’re a little more of an acquired taste, so when you find someone with that taste, it’s all the more likely to be much more fulfilling.


Consumed: A Poem

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 15:04

By Anonymous Teen Writer

 

The thoughts consume me,

Image via Flickr.

almost every day.

The more I push,

the more they stay.

I try to sleep,

but I’m in defeat.

They twist and turn,

in my head they burn.


Book of the Month: January

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 18:00
A Series on Classic Books

by Marinia Powell, Staff Reporter and Senior Staff Photographer

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

By Mark Twain

   The story of Hank Morgan – the aforementioned “Connecticut Yankee” – begins when he is thrust from 1870’s America after a lively brawl with a coworker to medieval England.

There, he is quickly thrown into danger (and nakedness), but Morgan soon realizes that the actual king Arthur and his court aren’t as bright as they appeared in the stories. Using his knowledge to predict an ominous (enough) event, he changes his position from prisoner to “the Boss.”

Using his new position, he runs the scheming Merlin out of town and uses his knowledge of the 19th century to establish various facets of modern technology with his eye on turning England into the world’s first republic.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Although this is a comedy and basically a self help guide for anyone who finds themselves in medieval England after a work brawl, there are also startling looks at the oppression this whimsical world of chivalry is built on.

   This isn’t one of the better known classics out there, but it holds a special place in literary history and a small cult following. And with the Boss’s journey of starting anew in a strange land, I can’t imagine very many others better suited to bring you into the new year. Or, you know, any unintentional time travels.

This book is available through the Washington County Free Library as a book, an audiobook, an e-audiobook, and an e-book.


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