Zero tolerance is when they crack down hard on students for breaking rules at school. Originally intended to make schools safer by taking action against youth caught with guns or drugs, sometimes the policy has gone too far, punishing students carrying headache medicine, for example. In some communities, critics also say that kids of color have been unfairly targeted. Adopting zero tolerance policies are far easier than taking the time to build real relationships with young men and women and counsel them, or find the root reasons behind their misbehavior. These clampdowns can push students to drop out of school by filling their records with suspensions and failing marks and making them repeat grades. Once on the street, these youth often make bad decisions and turn into full-time outlaws. Instead of becoming lawyers or doctors, they wind up needing the survival services of doctors or lawyers. We all want peace on the street. To have peace, we should not take away the very tool that allows for success. Education is that tool.
Read more…
Maybe it’s because they’ve been here longer than anybody. But Native Americans today are seen as relics of the past -- if they’re seen at all. “Indians are not around anymore, so why should we care about cultural sensitivities?” says Jamari Williams, 17, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science. Behind the stale stereotypes and racist sports symbols, advocates say, Native Americans still suffer the generational aftereffects of isolation after being forced from their families, for example, and placed into boarding schools bent on assimilation by the government and their surrogates. These include high rates of poverty and youth suicide. Still, after years of cultural suppression, Native American advocates say many of their people remain spiritual and philosophical and very much in tune with touchstones like natural meditation and rites of passage. “I used to think about things like Thanksgiving and alcoholism when I thought about Natives,” says Wood Jerry, 18, who goes to school in West Roxbury. “But when I met a close friend of mine who is Alaskan Native, she showed me the pride held for her culture....She shaped my understanding to seeing the duality in a people we usually forget.” This article was prepared in collaboration with 826 Boston.  
Read more…
For many students, school suspensions simply make no sense. At the end of the day, that same student who was suspended could have just stayed home. In October, the Boston Student Advisory Council conducted its fifth annual Listening Project, collecting data about school discipline. Among the key findings from the survey of over 240 students:
  •  60% said they felt their race, ethnicity, physical appearance, gender, gender expression, sexuality, sexual identity, disability, or English Language Learner status influenced how often they get disciplined at school;
  • 75% said they think out-of-school suspension is not effective as a disciplinary tactic;
  •  60% think out-of-school suspension should end entirely as a disciplinary tactic;
  • 50% did no t know how disciplinary hearings work at their school. In many cases, schools are supposed to try alternatives before suspending or expelling students.
These include: peer counseling, student-teacher conferences, mentoring, community service, and other restorative justice measures. If schools continue to eject students, the downward cycle will continue and could lead to a permanent escape from classrooms, also known as dropping out -- which can be one stop on the school to- prison pipeline. If you would like to help promote change in your school or community, BSAC holds steering committee meetings twice a month. Contact Arthur Collins at acollins3@ if you’re interested.
Read more…
Cover Story
Words to Live By

What Do You Believe In?

To see the change, as they say, you must be the change. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t love others. You can’t give what you don’t have. Picture this: You love yourself and you start a relationship with someone. You both have self-confidence and have built a strong bond. When it comes to making decisions, you think about not only what you want but also what your partner wants. You want to balance the situation to please both of you. When you get to the point where you constantly do this, eventually you’ll do the same thing with every person you meet. Your perspective about life changes. Once you’re able to love yourself and therefore love others, your decisions will always be based on both your desires and how other people could also benefit. You will realize that those choices are born in your heart. And that is when you start to experience happiness and enjoy life. There’s nothing more satisfying than that. Even as many people nowadays strongly identify with the idea of doing just what their own minds want and not worrying about others, when it comes to social issues and things that affect us all as human beings, we must determine how the whole world would benefit. As we aspire to be better human beings every day, we can start the change with small things. Since we all make mistakes, if we at least try to do what’s right, that’s all it takes to contribute to the idea of creating a better place.
“Always take responsibility for what you have done; never put the blame on someone else.” -- Kevin Predestin

“Because there is no right answer, you must question everything -- even what you think is absolutely right.” -- Betiel Brhane
“All humans should be kind and help each other. We should not only do things that benefit and satisfy ourselves but benefit our surroundings, too.” -- Sydney A. Napoleon
“We cannot be speechless when humanity is being taken away from us. Being silent only encourages the tormentors to do more harm.” -- Sherley Valeus
“You will never reach what you want as long as you don’t wish for others to reach what they want. Stay humble and pray for each other.” -- Mohamed Abdi
“We must fight for equality of human rights.” -- Ida Alves
“It is right to help poor people; it is wrong to show off what you did for poor people.” -- Rosadys Pujols
“Believe in who you are not what others think about you.” -- Silvania Rodrigues
“Everybody who has money should respect and care for people who are poor.” -- Marie Lourdes Louis
“Life is like a song; if we skip a part of it, we will lose the meaning and beauty of it all.” -- Jessy Vaz
“We should think with our minds and also our hearts because our decisions may satisfy us but harm others.” -- Jessica Andrade
“We should be meditating in our lifestyles so that we can have a better future for the whole world. Live, think, and act positively.” -- Carla Miranda
“It’s right to have patience. Otherwise, you will not achieve your goals.” -- Amal Ibrahim
“Sometimes, we should disconnect from technology so that we can connect with people. It is right to create a nexus between human and human.” -- Dan Huynh
“We as fellow human beings should always act as one and work for the good of all and not for selfish needs. Become heroes, not criminals.” -- Claudio Ribeiro
“You have to make decisions on your own because nobody can help you choose the right thing to do in your life.” -- Yahirianis Wilson
“It is not right to judge anyone based on physical appearance.” -- Jing Chen
“We need to be mature enough to understand the importance of not hurting others and treating them the same way we would like to be treated.” -- Jesuina Fernandes
“What is right is when you never care only about yourself. Although there are many selfish people in this world, there are many others who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the happiness of others.” -- Merline Mathieu
“We must not neglect to do good for others even if it’s not to our own advantage.” -- Shelove Adelphin
“Always listen to what your parents say.” -- Maria Araujo
“People should always be nice with their best friends and not share their secrets.” -- Eriken Calderon
“Because we make choices in our lives every day, we must think wisely for the good of all.” -- Witney Clervil
“We should not let viciousness and payback manipulate us. As people say: ‘What goes around comes back around.’ ” -- Nandley Charles
“You should never judge someone until you walk a day in their shoes.” -- Aguinaldo Gomes
“It’s OK to think in a different way because that is what makes us all humans.” -- Carolaine Ribeiro
“Being selfish is inane. We all have the same blood color. Therefore, it is ethical to give hands to whoever is in need because your support may change the entire society.” -- Charles Rubens Victor
“It is good to have fun but not to play with other people’s feelings.” -- Nicol Casilla
“Everyone makes mistakes. You can learn from them and understand life better.” -- Gissel Santos
“It is wrong to bully anyone. We should show that we support them.” -- Elsa Tejeda Guzman
“How can we have a good society if we do not treat others the same way we like to be treated?” -- Felizmina Cardoso
“It is wrong to do something unfair just to help others.” -- Lucia Barbosa
“We should always show positivity towards each other.” -- Marlice Martins
‘‘It is our obligation to help those who are lost to get back on track.’’ -- Ronny Pimentel
“We should always look for the best solution to a problem in the real world.” -- Victor Depina
“We need to be aware of our society and how each one of us makes a difference in it.” -- Eriberto Perez
“Never take what people say to you as a big deal.” -- Jhon Wilky
“It is right for people to help each other as a team.” -- Alfredo Frias
“We should always care about each other.” -- Danes Bien Aime
“It’s our responsibility to help those who can’t help themselves.” -- Adilson Pina
“We should always respect and protect each other for a safer society.” -- Johana Sainma
“Appearance is not reality.”  -- Candido Pina
Read more…
AFH Photo // Hanh Nguyen
Kaylee Bonilla, 15, from East Boston, thinks that learning how to stay fit is an important part of the school day. 
“Gym offers so much for students, such as a healthy-maintained lifestyle,” Bonilla says. 
Phys-ed classes have long been a staple of the traditional American school system. 
But over time, teens say, some programs have not remained as muscular as they could be. 
And for many, that’s just fine. 
“Physical education doesn’t teach the reading, and writing skills we need,” says Jovana Michel, a sophomore at New Mission High School. “It doesn’t teach basic math skills that we will need in the long run.” 
Others feel, though, that their gym instruction comes on too strong. 
“I am told when to work out and how many hours I have to work out,” says Shameka Joseph, a senior who goes to school in Dorchester. “You should be able to choose and be productive at the same time without feeling forced.” 
Read more…