Disengaged parents are not aware of what their children are doing at school. They often don’t help their kids with homework or participate in school activities such as open houses, parentteacher conferences, and college fairs. Some argue that parental disengagement doesn’t impede a student’s progress because students have teacher support and programs that are able to help them academically. Sometimes, students have better relationships with teachers than they do with their parents. However, if mothers or fathers are not attending any school activities, they are not assuming their responsibilities as parents. Parental involvement makes school better in aspects such as activities, expectations, learning environments, and overall performances. Many parents are busy with work and raising children. Often, they are hindered by language barriers. Still, for students, it’s essential to be pushed by the person who has been with them while they’ve developed mentally and physically. The parent’s presence in a child’s classroom life not only benefits the student but also themselves, the teachers, and the school.
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“Jem and the Holograms” -- not the old 1980s cartoon but the newer movie -- had a simplistic plot but was fun to watch. In the film, you follow a girl and her sisters as they rise to musical stardom off of a video that was posted -- where else? --on YouTube. The sub-twists include takes on father-daughter relationships; family togetherness vs. celebrity individualism; saving the house (literally) from being lost; a mystical scavenger hunt; a mismatch that turns romantic; and a robot named Synergy. The music was catchy and the movie stood out as a film for all ages. It teaches you a really good lesson of staying true to those closest to you. I fully enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind watching it again, on DVD. A TiP of the hat to Universal Pictures for providing our teens with free tickets to the movie.
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I remember the bird war like it was yesterday: the arrival of the evil robins, like an alien invasion. They hovered over us like the “Death Star,” swooping down the moment we left our home. “They must be protecting their young,” my father had said. From early spring to late summer, our front yard was a battlefield. Going to school meant ducking from winged bombs. Taking out the trash was like escaping a booby trap from “Indiana Jones.” One hot August morning, all was quiet. The sun was up and the sky was a great blue. Not a robin was in sight to pick a fight. My dad slowly peeked his head out the door. When he was sure the coast was clear, he made his way with a hurried pace to his car. He retrieved some possessions he had left behind, including an air freshener. He was returning to home base when he heard the enemy’s anthem. The robins swept in and had him trapped. My father picked up his war weapon and sprayed a clean path to the front door. Once inside, he slammed it shut and heaved a sigh of pure relief. He had won the battle for now –- until the robins take flight again come spring.
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Sketching Vs. Sketchers     Artists have it tough out there. Some artists are restricted to a brand or a medium and some fluctuate between the two. But just because one artist can create like a Picasso using only Crayolas doesn’t mean that just any artist knows how to use cheap instruments to his or her advantage. For example, my Copic markers range from $6 to $8 each and you need a set of at least six to produce mini-masterpieces that display a smooth blending of colors. When I give out this information, heads snap towards me and eyes go wide. “Why the heck are you paying $8 dollars for a marker!?” Then I have to explain the same thing every time: These are professional markers, they are brand name. And even after that, the doubters still look confused and even repulsed. But the people that look disgusted by the fact I invest so much in my art supplies are the same ones who buy $300 to $600 sneakers they only wear once. Like students who save up for a good laptop, I put my money into something I will use. If you were an artist, you would understand that you use these tools frequently. Meanwhile, the people who like to judge spend hundreds on a pair of shoes that are going to collect dust inside a closet. I find it offensive and awfully hypocritical for them to say: “Why would you waste your money on some markers?” My fellow artists, don’t be discouraged. I encourage you to respond to anyone who says this with the same answer: “Why would you spend so much money on [insert expensive luxury item]?”
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Decisions are part of our everyday existence. They are not something we can get rid of for without them we wouldn’t have a voice nor the liberty of choosing our life’s path. We would just be puppets without a will. Fifteen-year-old Bismary Tabera, from Dorchester, says that to make the best decision for yourself, you have to consider some factors that can differ from others depending on your persona. She says her method comes down to: “Analyzing the situation and what the impact in your life will be.” For a small thing such as homework, she says, that means deciding to do it when she first gets home from school, knowing that she won’t get it done if she procrastinates. Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lugo, from Dorchester -- also known as Sunshine -- is the kind of person on the border of extinction. Instead of just giving quick answers to questions, she’ll actually help you understand what’s going on. Lugo says that when she has to make a difficult decision, she’ll ask for advice from people around her but also consider her own feelings. “Make choices that are best for you,” she says. Rayven Frierson, 15, who goes to school in Roxbury, says that making decisions are just part of living – they’re like oxygen – and that they are often based on our hearts’ amendments. “Life isn’t perfect,” she says. “You don’t always have to make the right decision or the decision people want you to make. It’s your choice.” Teens say that young people should not try to make the most obvious decisions but the ones that suit their personalities for they are going to live the outcomes. After all, they say, the decisions we make are part of who we become.
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