The call went out from the Boston Public Library to young people: submit a piece of your own work and win two seats to the December 1 talk, and copies of the new book, by Sister Souljah (fan fiction or art based on the world in her novels or a compelling question you’d want to ask her). Here is a version of Teens in Print reporter Antaliyah Maxwell’s winning poem (referencing “The Coldest Winter Ever”) and her account of encountering the hiphop recording artist and author. When I first arrived at the Copley library teen center, it was noisy, with more than 70 people there. Ten minutes later, when Sister Souljah walked in, it instantly became silent. All eyes were on her. Sister Souljah introduced her new Midnight book to us, “A Moment of Silence,” and explained that the title represented all the danger, temptation, and adventure it contained. After she asked for questions, a young woman stood up and started sobbing. “I don’t have a question, but I wanted to say…. your books helped me through so many struggles….Thank you.” Sister Souljah began to tear up herself and told the woman that she is a strong young lady. I got teary, too. I was fascinated by how easily Sister Souljah presented herself and spread such positive energy. “People say things like ‘Don’t judge me,’ ’’ Sister Souljah told the crowd. “This is one of the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life….The creator gave each of us a mind -- so that we can think. Eyes -- so that we can observe. Thoughts -- so that we can measure things out. All day long, every single individual in this room is making judgments….You made a judgment about what to wear…who you want to be friends with and who you don’t want to be friends with….Constructive criticism….I come from the era of free speech….It’s OK if we don’t agree. Let’s debate it out.” Her statement made me realize that to judge people does not mean to put them down. It is to make an impact on their lives by having them open their eyes to the reality they need to face. As she was signing our books, I let her know that I admired her. She looked up at me and smiled and thanked me so genuinely. After she inscribed my name in the book, she added these words: “An explosion in your soul!!”
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Syrian Refugees: "To Leave Them Out to Die is Horrible"
Eighteen-year-old My Nguyen understands the need to be cautious about who the government lets into the country -- especially after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris -- but doesn’t see the need to close the doors completely to refugees fleeing the Syrian Civil War and ISIS. “We should still be careful but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be helping,” says Nguyen, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science. “Humans are humans and they all deserve a right to be safe and have a home.” President Barack Obama has vowed to welcome some 10,000 Syrian refugees into America over the next year while many Republicans are calling for a full-on refusal. The issue took on added urgency after it was reported that one of the Paris assailants had posed as a Syrian refugee. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released last month, US voters by a 51 percent to 43 percent margin oppose accepting Syrian refugees into the country. Still, many teens say they are outraged that anyone would want to declare the US out of bounds to Syrian castaways. “There are many women and children along with them in fear of their lives -- to leave them out to die is horrible,” says Mary Flaherty, 17, from Boston Latin School. “These people are actually fleeing ISIS so for us to shut the doors on them would mean ISIS actually had won.” As for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s pledge to temporarily bar all Muslims at the border if he is elected, 17-yearold Luul Hassan, from Boston Green Academy, has a blunt response. “He’s disgusting,” says Hassan, who is a Muslim, “and the fact that people are supporting him makes me sick.” This article was prepared in collaboration with 826 Boston.
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One-hundred-thirty souls lost. In the city of love, hate has been planted. And violence sprung. Where oh where is the light? A brightness shall appear in the darkness. In the world’s eyes, the hurt will be healed. O, await that beautiful spring day. For Paris, I pray.
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The Downside of Starting School Later   School is something essential for every kid, but does that mean they shouldn’t have enough sleep? Sleep gives us the ability to concentrate in school and helps our memory and ability to learn. Lack of sleep can cause drowsiness -- a detriment both inside and outside of school. But because many teens end up arriving late to school -- either due to transportation troubles or the chance to capture more sleep as they juggle homework and jobs -- some want to start the school day later. However, if school districts push back start times, many parents will not be able to get their kids to school and also make it to work without being late. In addition, it would also have an effect on extracurricular activities. Many youth participate in afterschool programs, including sports. Increasingly, colleges are looking beyond academics to locate well-rounded students. Also, many students have jobs to help contribute their fair share and a later school day would cut into their hours. If we start schools later, whole families may end up suffering.
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Today, the argument continues: Which college is better, public or private? Supporters of private colleges claim they are a better investment because of prestige and job prospects. Backers of public colleges say private schools are not worth the outrageously high tuitions and can lead to a lifetime of student debt. On the private side, students are attracted to the school’s reputation with potential employers, strong alumni connections, more and varied classes, and roster of world-class professors. However, those well-known professors are often occupied with other endeavors, leaving the teaching to lesser-qualified educators. And those other lures may also turn out to be less than advertised and not worth the price In the end, the school you attend doesn’t determine who you are or who you are going to be. Having a vision of what you will do after graduation is worth more than the name of the school you attend. If you work hard, you will get a fine education and diploma. Then it’s up to you to determine what you do with all that you have learned.
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