The Washington County Free Library and its Branches will be Closed on Monday, May 29th in observance of Memorial Day.  We will re-open at our regular time on Tuesday.

Search the: Catalog  OR Website   My Account logoFacebook iconPinterest icon

WCFL Teens Blog

Subscribe to WCFL Teens Blog feed WCFL Teens Blog
News from the Teens of Washington County, MD
Updated: 2 hours 13 min ago

Classic Book of the Month: May

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 17:52

By Marinia Powell, Staff Reporter and Senior Staff Reporter

The Classic Book of the Month for May is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

Is it insanity?

I read most of The Bell Jar in the span of a two day reading marathon. At first, I wasn’t really absorbed in the story. I didn’t think it would be interesting because I had to read it for an assignment and anything I have to read loses interest. It’s the fact I have to read it and have it done at a certain time versus having the choice of picking it up whenever and reading it.

Image via Flickr.


Anyway, back to my readathon. So I started reading, and before I knew I was absorbed and I learned something. It you read it for long enough, and I spent the day, Esther Greenwood’s story blends with your thoughts. The blunt, straightforward way she shares them, with no buffer, it resembles the way thoughts come into my mind with no audience.

So is it insanity? Is Esther crazy? Or was it the ‘50s? It’s no particular secret that mid-century mental treatments are semi-barbaric compared to modern standards with the shock therapy and whatnot. The fastest and easiest way to make a quick buck back then was to write a book on female behavior, whether you were a professional or not, and Esther at one point starts buying these books and finds she fits all their descriptions of what mentally unstable looks like. So is Esther really unstable or is it what a bunch of un-professionals heralded from their leather chairs holding self-bestowed titles and experience. The professionals in the book do believe Esther is unstable. Yet basing judgement just off of what Esther does and says in the book she’s eccentric and suicidal, but not insane. And the majority of the women she meets at the asylum aren’t unstable either.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The asylum has different houses for the varying levels of stability. Belsize, where women go when they’re the closest to being released, is full of women who went there for questionable reasons and remain for questionable ones too. Like Deedee, who is basically sane and has an inside joke with the rest of Belsize about how her husband is carrying on an affair while she’s there.

So once again, is Esther insane? Or, is she a talented and eccentric young woman swept up in an era where her eccentricities are viewed as something more while she’s surrounded by people with no understanding of her?

Beauty of Blooms

Sat, 05/20/2017 - 09:39

By Marinia Powell, Staff Reporter and Senior Staff Photographer

Gone: Part I

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 15:24

By Emily Wise, Staff Reporter


Chapter 1- Dark Night

He looked down the dark hallway, dark hood over his head. No one heard him open the door to his apartment, he silently walked into the hall, closing the door behind him. Calmly walking down the hall he breathed heavily.

The dark seemingly curled around him, making shapes he knew weren’t there. He stopped two doors down from his own, looking at the (seemingly) locked door of his best friend. Friend. He kept walking, down the hall through the night, outside, down sidewalks, to get to the classes he only took at night.

It was 9:30 at night, and Ethan Wilson had to get to class or he would be late.

It was 9:30 at night and Anthony Russet was awake. Again.

Anthony sat, his light-brown-dyed-blue hair spiked with sleep. His hazel eyes were aimed at the window, as he watched the black-clad figure of one of his friends walk through the night. How he didn’t get hit by a car at night was beyond Anthony. Standing up, he walked across the small  bedroom to his cork board that hung on the wall. His eyes scanned the pictures of him and his friends, searching for the right one.

He found it.

A picture of him and Ethan, a time pre-night classes, when Ethan wasn’t deathly pale, when he didn’t have bags under his eyes. Sun shone off his red hair, his stormy grey eyes closed, smile consuming his face. Anthony was beside him, light-brown hair dull in comparison to Ethan’s red, but his hazel eyes shone brightly. They both had an arm around the other.

Anthony smiled. That had been a good day.

He sat back down on his bed, then lay down on his back. Remembering that day, he drifted into sleep.

Image via Flickr.

Chapter 2- Frieday

There was a knock at the door. Anthony groggily sat up, wiping the sleep from his eyes. He sleepily blinked, walking down the beige hallway, opening the off-white door. He glared at Ethan, who stood on the other side.

“Mornin’ Sleeping Beauty.” Ethan said jokingly.

“Ha ha very funny.” Anthony replied sarcastically. The right corner of Ethan’s lips upturned, a smile. The only smile you would get from him nowadays.

“It is friday, and that means ‘frieday’ at the Bam.” Ethan said.

“I’ll be there.” Anthony replied. Ethan nodded, walking back to his room. Bam was the on-campus restaurant. It might not have been that good, but at least they had good fries. Anthony yawned, stretching. Anthony and Ethan’s friend, Keyone Washington, walked past.

“‘Sup.” Keyone said, already dressed in a blue sweatshirt. His dark skin contrasted the light colors of the wall.

“Want breakfast? I have more leftovers from stuff than I can count.” Anthony said.

Keyone shrugged. “Why not? Plus, I need to ask you something, not in the hallway.”

Anthony gave Keyone a look. A look that said, ‘what did you possibly do this time?’. In the small kitchen of Anthony’s apartment, Keyone asked his ‘not in the hallway’ question.

“Is it just me, or is something going on with Ethan?” Anthony stopped what he was doing.

“I don’t know, why?’

Keyone shrugged. “Something just seems wrong about him.”

While that exchange was going on, Ethan sat alone, in his room, with the curtains closed. On his desk was a box of pictures. Only he knew what was in this box, and so that will stay secret from from you too. All he could think about were the contents of this box. After a lot of thinking, he heard the hallways clear, and all the students left for class. He stood up and left for work.


Chapter 3- Waiting

It was Friday night. Two boys sat at the farthest back booth in the Bam. Two. They were waiting for their friend, and one was getting impatient.

“Where is he?” Anthony said. Keyone shrugged. Anthony groaned in annoyance. Taking out his phone, he quickly texted Ethan.

Where are you?

He waited for a reply.

Working late. Calm down. I’ll get you your fries momentarily.

Anthony nodded. Ethan worked at the Bam, and that was how they all met. He was usually off work by now, though. He groaned, bored, and slid down in his seat. Keyone started playing Drag The Whale (yes, it is an actual game. My high score is 72.).

After a LONG time of waiting, fries were placed on the table. Anthony looked up, expecting to see Ethan, instead seeing Paul, his other friend. Looking confused, Keyone asked

“Where’s Ethan?”. Anthony did think it though, he was just too busy stuffing his face to ask. Paul pointed out the door.

“He got a call and had to take it. If he isn’t out there, he’s probably at his house. We had some real weirdos here today, and seriously, I wanted to leave as badly as he did.” Keyone nodded, and got up.

“Where are you going?” Anthony questioned, getting up too.

“Going to get Ethan.” Keyone said, leaving. Anthony and Paul blinked, and Anthony grabbed his basket of fries and followed.

“Hey, you can’t take that with you!” Paul said, reaching after him. “I’ll give it back tomorrow. See ya.”

It was pouring. Absolute downpour. And it was dark. Ethan would’ve loved this weather. He loved the rain. Said it smelled good. And he fit in well with the dark. No one knew why, but he seemed to enjoy the dark. If someone were to ask him about it, he would just walk away. Now, walking out in the rain, lit by streetlamps, Keyone couldn’t think of a word other than loathe as to how he felt towards the rain. He was cold, covered in water, and Ethan was nowhere near the Bam. He continued to rub his arms and squint through the rain.

Anthony, on the other hand, was truly annoyed. He finished his fries. His friend was nowhere to be found, and it was COLD. Where could Ethan possibly be?

The duo trudged through the rain, heading to the apartment building where they all lived. They walked up the stairs, the elevators being their usual weird, which included flickering lights, horror movie cliche. They noticed something out of the ordinary as soon as they started walking up the stairs. If Ethan were to have walked home, there would surely be wet shoe prints on the carpet. The only shoe prints were Anthony and Keyone’s. The two friends stood in front of the third’s door.

What was on the other side of that door?

Was it just the usual?

Where was Ethan?

Image via Flickr.

Chapter 4- Where

Anthony took a deep breath in.

He stepped forward.

He twisted the handle of the door.

He opened it.

Everything was normal.

Everything was too normal.

Keyone walked inside. All the lights are off. Normal. Ethan liked the dark. Instead of turning on the lights, Anthony continued to walk through the apartment. He realized something. If the door was unlocked, Ethan had to have been here. Anthony opened doors to the rooms. Maybe he was asleep…?

Anthony quietly opened the last door, to Ethan’s bedroom.

Ethan wasn’t inside.

Did he go back outside? Was he lost outside? How could he get lost, he’s been here for at least a year…

While looking around the room, looking for clues, and saw something new on the corkboard in Ethan’s room. Among the usual pictures of unnamed places, people with their faces markered over, and blurry images, there was a handwritten note.

I guess this isn’t the best time, but I have to go. I’m not going to directly tell you where I’m going, but you’ll find me if you think outside the box. The puzzle will keep you looking long enough for me to get what I have to done. Just… just wait for me. Goodbye.


Chapter 5- Up and Left

Anthony sat on the couch beside Keyone, looking at the paper laid on the coffee table. What did he mean? What did he have to do? Where was he going? Keyone stood up.

“We have to look for him.” Anthony met his eyes. “You know Ethan. He isn’t going to make this easy. For all we know, he up and left us.” Keyone directed his dark brown eyes back to the note.

“Hey, he said ‘think outside the box’. Okay, what could that mean. It obviously isn’t going to mean what we think.” Anthony looked around Ethan’s slightly disorganized livingroom. The pale walls were shadowed in grey, and it gave him an idea.

“Hey Keyone,” said Anthony.

The next morning Keyone stood outside the tall, grey building on the edge of campus. His breath could be seen in the air around him. In his hand was a book, a book of Ethan’s relative’s phone numbers. This wasn’t part of Anthony’s plan, but it might be useful. Anthony walked around the side of the building, and jogged over.

“Hey.” Anthony said. Keyone nodded. Anthony looked around the building, finally finding what he was looking for. Opening a grey-painted door, Antony gestured inside.

“Ladies first.” He said, smirking. Keyone rolled his eyes and entered the building., entering the building.


Inside the building, the old brick walls were covered in writing. All fonts of graffiti made themselves known. From quotes to just names, it was all here.

“Why do you think something from Ethan is going to be here?” Keyone asked. Anthony dug in his pocket and pulled out a picture, showing it to the dark male.

“Found this picture on his cork board. It seemed significant. Just look around for anything that seems ‘Ethan’.” Keyone nodded and started to look around. He gazed over the years of illegal artwork. The faded colors of years old, the bright hues of the words, maybe only there for hours. He read the random words, looking them all over.

Bright Help Look A+E Maybe…

His eyes suddenly caught a sentence.

Good job thinking, guys.

An arrow followed the words, to a letter taped to the wall.

“Anthony!” Keyone yelled, running to the paper. Keyone pulled it off the wall, looking at it, not opening it. Anthony looked over his shoulder at the paper.

“What does it say?” Anthony asked. Keyone hesitated. If he opened the paper, what would he see? What would he be getting into? Yes, this was to find his friend, but what was this all about?

He sighed and opened the paper.

End of Part 1


Five Things to Know About the Trump Budget

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 12:55

By Marinia Powell, Staff Reporter and Senior Staff Photographer

  1. Campaign Promises

Since the beginning of the Trump campaign, Trump has talked of the now infamous wall and  beefing up the military, but that  will take funding. Keeping that in mind, it’s not hard to look at the budget and see that it was created with the goal of improving military funding.

  1.     The Increased Military Funding

America is not home to the largest army on earth. That goes to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. America is home to the most technologically advanced military in the world which, in the 21st century, may be more valuable than being the largest. What President Trump has proposed is to increase its size; possibly to create a bigger U. S. military presence with possible threats to national security such as North Korea, Russia and to have a larger presence in Syria.

  1. Funding Increases

Although he plans on cutting the Education Department’s funding by 14%, President Trump does increase funding for students to attend schools of their choice. He also increases funding for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository (a natural storage facility for spent nuclear materials), prevention and treatment for opioid addiction, and adds 4.4 billion to funding for the Veterans Affairs benefit system increasing financial support for veterans.

Image via Flickr.

  1.   Funding Cuts

President Trump does not believe in Climate Change which he demonstrates in his proposal for the Environmental Protection Agency which would include eliminating 50 programs, leaving 3,200 people out of work and cuts all funding for International Climate Change programs. He also proposes eliminating funding grants for the Community Development Financial Institutions which provide financial services to low income neighborhoods, along with Job Corps, a job training program for disadvantaged youths, 49 National Heritage Areas, and 13% of funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  1.   Cut Altogether

The following agencies will be cut:

African Development Foundation.

Chemical Safety Board.

Corporation for National and Community Service.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Institute of Museum and Library Services.

U.S. Institute of Peace.

U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.


What Could Happen Next:

For a budget to come into being it has to be passed through Congress. Last year, the House and Senate Budget Committee chairs would not even invite ambassadors of former President Obama’s final budget proposal, demonstrating how much power they hold over the passing of a new budget. The Republican led committees will most likely hear out the current President’s proposal, but if they find it too unfair to the public, or if the public made a large enough effort to express their disapproval, then they have the power to veto it.

Dear Washingteenian:

Sun, 04/30/2017 - 14:49

Hello! Random Advice Person here!

Image via Flickr.

Random Advice:

How to deal with bad haircuts: Never actually had experience with this, but from others I have heard it helps to use hair clips or hair accessories. Or just try something new! Think out of the box. If it is REALLY that bad, than wear a hat (if possible).


Eating on the go: For food in backpacks and bags, remember: no refrigerated food like cream cheese. Try to keep fruit towards the top of the bag. 


Meeting new people: DO NOT HIDE! They will not be able to talk to you if you keep hiding from them. Also do not stare at them. They will call you a creep, and will probably ignore you for the rest of their lives. Unless they are also staring at you like a creep, than yes, it is okay to stare at them. Keep the conversation going. Soon you will either be friends or just two creeps staring at each other for all eternity. Either way it counts.
That is all for now!


Any teens looking for similar advice from teens? Feel free to comment!

Dear Mr. President

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 17:25

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.


                                                                       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:

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.




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

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 (

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 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


Senator Chris Van Hollen

B40c Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC, 20510.

Phone: 301 942 3768

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.