School News
Consider community service outside of the animal shelter There are other organizations with more flexible volunteer schedules that need your help
Community service can be daunting. Similar to the college process, community service is often put off until we get closer to graduation. Counselors see students as invisible until senior year, and then pounce on them to demand college applications and graduation requirements.
You may be asking, what is community service? Community service requirements vary from school to school. My school, Snowden International, requires students to perform 100 to 150 hours in order to graduate. Community service is when an individual offers a service to the neighborhood or certain nonprofit organizations, like local animal shelters or homeless shelters. Community service is not paid — any form of monetary compensation means it's not community service. But how do we find a location where we can serve? 
High school youth often have a hard time finding community service opportunities. Competition with college students, age restrictions and parental requirements all make community service harder to find than it should be. Animal shelters are the usual go-to for high school students. Shelters like ARL Boston and MSPCA-Angell take volunteers seasonally. Unfortunately, these positions tend to have a screening process and a tedious application process that can make it difficult for students. The competition with veterinary-students-in-the-making makes it nearly impossible to snag a spot. However, there are plenty of places to volunteer around Boston! 
First, did you know that you can get community service hours from your job? Oftentimes, unpaid work or community-oriented jobs will count as service hours. These opportunities don’t come along all the time, so it’s always a good idea to ask your employer. Massachusetts General Hospital, for example, offers community service hours for teens in Boston on an application basis. The application opens in the fall of each academic year.
Also, local shelters will always take in volunteers! Rosie’s Place, a women’s shelter in South End, accepts volunteers year-round. You can find flexible hours and self-schedule as an individual volunteer, and often you get free snacks too! Serving as an individual volunteer builds confidence — you can’t rely on your friends to pull the weight for you. On their website, there is a short application. After it is reviewed, you’ll be given an account to schedule yourself as a volunteer. Most volunteer options are doable as a teen, and there is always a supervisor available to assist with questions and teach you new tasks.
At Rosie’s Place, there are two main options for youth volunteers in the kitchen: preparing and serving food or assisting in the food pantry. Youth can also help sign in visitors. In the kitchen, I alternated between washing dishes in the back and serving and cleaning up in the front. 
Surprisingly, community service is broad enough to find an opportunity in the area you’re interested in. Community service gives a sense of responsibility to the volunteer. Having people dependent on your work makes you appreciate the features in our communities that we usually overlook. Animal shelters are super-competitive to even get an interview, so if you’re in a time crunch, applying to a local shelter is your best bet. Local shelters offer less-rigid hours, and more individuals are able to register as volunteers. 
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City News
Advice on handling minimum wage jobs
If you attend a public school in Boston, it is likely that either you or someone you know works at some form of internship or minimum-wage job. For many students and adults, these jobs are a convenient way to make money, but working in a position viewed as disposable by a large franchise can have a number of downsides. This can be especially problematic for workers who rely on the income these jobs provide and don’t have the option of leaving if it becomes a toxic work situation. 
Many examples of this abusive behavior can be found in a downtown movie theater in Boston. At this venue, these examples of circumvention were pretty wide-reaching, from a strong racial bias in the distribution of certain wages to superiors attempting to bully employees into accepting lower-paying positions. 
In this instance, the company had developed a new work schedule for bartenders that involved them spending less time at the bar, and more time working at the cash registers. The bartenders are paid a lower hourly rate for time spent at the cash register, so they would make less money overall with this new schedule. Since no bartender would accept what was essentially a demotion, the general manager had private meetings with each of them to repeatedly ask them to accept a new contract. This led to an awkward situation in which the person I interviewed had to politely decline the requests to meet repeatedly since he had no one else to advocate for him.   
In situations like these, it’s difficult for employees to advocate for themselves as their employers often see their positions as disposable. With jobs becoming increasingly more difficult to acquire, many workers would rather grin and bear such blatant violations of their rights than risk the possibility of being fired and losing a vital flow of income. Additionally, businesses often fail to tell workers their rights. In fact, some businesses may go out of their way to stop workers from knowing them, so a minimum-wage worker may not even know when they are supposed to advocate for themselves. Because of this, businesses can get away with far more than they should be able to. 
To get a better sense of the shortcomings in minimum-wage jobs, I interviewed two workers in a large movie theater franchise. The main problems they mentioned were that their superiors (one in particular) had no checks placed upon them, and were able to exploit loopholes in the treatment of their employees. What we as a society need to do is provide legal safety nets in order to encourage them to report any shifty business in their hierarchies and explain to workers the steps they should take to advocate for themselves. 
When asked what other workers in their position should do, the two theater employees I interviewed almost immediately said “Unionize. Get lawyers, and know your rights.” Here they referenced an organization that could provide legal representation for workers for a small fee. However, this is easier said than done, because if your employer believes that you and your coworkers are planning to form a union, they will sometimes try to fire you on the spot. That’s illegal, and if it happens you can sue, but lawsuits are costly and not a realistic option for a majority of minimum-wage workers.
Some of the most important rights a worker has are the laws surrounding whistleblowers. If you, as an employee, alert the authorities to any kind of code violation in your workplace, you cannot be fired for doing so. 
Just as important are the laws surrounding discrimination, which are well known but often not enforced. The main reason for this lack of enforcement lies in the fact that employees often go years without discussing things like income with their coworkers. It was in this way that the coworkers of the people I interviewed detected racial bias in wage distribution. After discussions, the employees found that the general manager was paying white managers more. To detect unequal wages due to race, interaction among coworkers should be encouraged. While some businesses may not condone this, it is important for all workers to be aware that such discussions are in no way illegal, and they cannot be legally punished by an employer.    
As important as it is for employees to have legal support outside of the company they work for, it is just as important for workers to have a method of going above the heads of their superiors to resolve issues within their companies. Providing the contact information of upper-level management in a company is a good example of this kind of system. When the people I interviewed were asked if there was any way provided for them to go over the head of their general manager, they both said there wasn’t. One even said, “they probably don’t want us snitching on them.”
Minimum-wage workers and interns in Massachusetts deserve to be advocated for. As a state and as a country, this is something that we as Americans need to work towards. The first step towards this would be the creation of unions for all workers, which would provide legal support for anyone facing off against massive corporations. 
Also, laws should be implemented to ensure that employees have a way of reporting their superiors to upper management. And most importantly, we as people should respect the minimum-wage workers who we interact with daily during their jobs. 
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City News
Teens should be warier of becoming gang-affiliated
Gangs have a huge effect on our youth these days. Did you know that the average age to join a gang is just under 15? In Massachusetts, you can’t even get your permit at that age! Being gang-affiliated is life-changing, and it can ruin your life.
According to Legal Match, being gang-affiliated is being associated with or close to a group of people, typically with three or more people who use certain names, signs or symbols to identify themselves; as a group or individually. 
Teens are becoming awfully tribalistic when it comes to their fellow gang associates. People choose to associate with gangs because they think it gives them power, protection and easy money. It gives them a feeling of being untouchable and highly respected because they always have these gang members by their side. Often people assume that the more dangerous the gang, and the worse the reputation, the less likely you are to get bothered by anyone outside of the gang.
Gang members often put on this act where the police and other gangs (unless they have a partnership) are their enemies. Ever heard the phrase “snitches get stitches?” That is street slang. It means that if you tattle on an ally to an opposing gang or law enforcement, the outcome will be a physical attack. This often makes people afraid of telling on other gang members. The information that’s kept from law enforcement due to this fear could be relevant to an open case, and withholding it could prevent a criminal from being brought to justice, or result in the withholder themselves going to prison.
University of Washington researchers found that people between the ages 27 and 33 that were gang-affiliated were three times more likely to receive income from an illegal source and twice as likely to have been locked up. The same study also found that former gang members are twice as likely to have substance use problems and half as likely to graduate high school. Without a high school diploma, it’s extremely hard to get a job.
Even if you did find a job, people without a diploma usually work for a very low income. High school dropouts make about $260,000 less than high-school graduates in a lifetime. That may not seem like a lot, but that’s $10,000 more than a quarter of a million.
According to the Boston Police Department’s database, there are about 160 documented gangs, 5,300 total gang members, 2,800 active gang members and 2,500 inactive gang members in Boston. Many of these members may have joined gangs in high school. In 2010, there were approximately 772,500 young gang members in the United States. That was roughly 7% of the teen population then, so imagine the statistics now.
Being affiliated with a gang doesn’t mean that someone is in a gang officially, it just means that they are associated with one. Authoritative figures shouldn’t punish or nag a teen for being associated with a gang, but teens should also know what or who they are getting involved with. There can be a real danger to even being gang-affiliated.
For example, 15-year-old “Junior” Lesandro Guzman-Feliz was chased down into a bodega in Bronx, New York before being brutally killed by several men armed with machetes. This case immediately blew up and everyone came up with their own stories. 
A popular theory was that it was an awful case of mistaken identity, but his untimely death was the result of gang affiliation. A show called “True Life: Crime” found that Guzman-Feliz had been seen hanging out with members from a New York gang called the Renegade Sunset, the Trinitarios rival gang. The Trinitarios are a well-known New York gang whose weapon of choice is a machete. Guzman-Feliz was on his way to hang with some friends when he encountered some members of the Trinitarios. Since he had been seen with Renegade Sunset he was considered a target, and members of the Trinitarios brutally murdered him.
The point is, being gang-affiliated can be dangerous. Before you become comfortable hanging out with gang members, think of the outcome. Do not feed into peer pressure and be a kid while you can.  
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City News
Welcoming the Kings back to Boston
We’ve all been to the Boston Common. Whether it was for Pride, to spend time with friends at Frog Pond or to participate in a march or a protest, Boston Common is a landmark for everyone who has visited or lives in Boston. You’ve seen the Brewer Fountain and you’ve seen the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. You know of the Frog statue and the Boston Massacre Memorial.  But did you know that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech on the Common? You’ve probably also heard the city referred to as “historic Boston,” but did you know that it was King’s second home? It was in Boston that King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, got a great deal of their work done. 
King Boston is a privately-funded nonprofit working with the city to create a memorial of Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr. The nonprofit wishes to honor the Kings and their work together in Boston as it is not widely recognized. According to King Boston’s website, the memorial will be placed on Boston Common where King delivered a speech on segregation in 1965. 
Not many are aware of the important work the Kings did in Boston. In his sermon “The Drum Major Instinct,” delivered on Feb. 4, 196 in Alabama, King expressed his hope that his legacy would continue on as a call to action, driving more people to pursue justice. King attended Boston University in 1951 and met Coretta Scott King in 1952 as she attended the New England Conservatory of Music for graduate school. 
Christina Demard, a 17-year-old senior at Boston Latin Academy, said she did not know of the Kings’ influence in Boston throughout her 17 years of living in the city. “I did not know they did anything here,” she said. “I didn’t even know they came up here — I thought all their influence was in the South.” 
Demard is not alone. I first heard about King Boston’s initiative after taking part in Twelfth Baptist Church’s annual MLK Convocation where Marie St. Fleur, executive director of King Boston, spoke about the plan and its importance. 
“It is most definitely a good idea,” Demard said. “It will be eye-catching and forces people to pay attention. It will push people to acknowledge what they have done.”
Na’tisha Mills, an associate at King Boston, said the initiative was established about three years ago. Paul English, who is the founder of King Boston, was on his way back from Chicago where he had seen a memorial there that honored Martin Luther King Jr.
“So on his way back, he started talking with multiple leaders in the Boston area, and decided that he wanted to create a memorial that would honor the history of MLK,” she explained. “In a conversation with a lot of community members, they said they wanted to do more than just bring a memorial to the city. They wanted to do something that could actually be a call to action; it could further the work of the Kings and the work for economic justice. That’s when the idea for the King Center was brought up.”
The current initiative is a two-piece living memorial: a monument that will be on Boston Common and programming at the Center of Economic Justice in Roxbury. 
Funds for both the memorial and the Center of Economic Justice — about $12 million — are now being raised. The center will be located in the reopened Boston Public Library branch in Nubian Square. A lot of funds have come from community members who play a large role in this process and its talks. 
When talking about memorials, it’s always a question about what they mean and what the importance of any sort of monument or memorial is. 
“As a history teacher, I think monuments are a way to remember people and moments throughout history and I think they matter as kind of a reminder of our collective history and what that means to us locally, what that means to us on a statewide level, on a national level and even on a global level,” Anthony Mathieu, a history teacher at Boston Latin Academy said. “I think those who control history will remember those who either share a common identity or background with the writers of history or we strive to idolize people who represent our ideals.” 
The King Boston Initiative is something that will hopefully serve to shed light on the history and the work of the Kings during their time in Boston, a history that isn’t known or learned by most residents of this city. The memorial and the Center of Economic Justice are both resources that will serve the Black community and the greater community of Boston as a whole.
As Mills put it, “I think our biggest hope is that we are bringing community members that are most affected by many of the economic disparities in Boston, together with the providers, together with the servers and the policymakers to advance a mutual economic justice agenda.”
“And what that means,” she said, “is that we are giving those that are most affected by these disadvantages the opportunity to lead the strategy around what is best going to work for them, around what they need to succeed, to thrive, to live happy healthy lives in Boston.”
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City News
Traveler’s Guide to the Orange Line
Have you ever asked yourself: what is Oak Grove? What’s at Forest Hills besides more trains? Questions like these probably surround young travelers who are just trying to go from Point A to Point B. What if we told you, you could slow down and take in the area around each stop?
Yes that’s right, there is actually stuff around Forest Hills besides countless bus stops and train tracks. Please continue reading to get ‘The Traveler's Guide to the Orange Line’, one of the MBTA’s most traveled lines.
1. Forest Hills to Roxbury Crossing
Let’s start with the southernmost stops which includes: Forest Hills, Green Street, Stony Brook, Jackson Square and Roxbury Crossing. Honestly the best thing Forest Hills has to offer is its connections. Forest Hills has more bus connections than any other Orange Line stop and it also connects to the Commuter Rail. Forest Hills is also directly connected to the Arnold Arboretum, a beautiful park that is home to various types of plants and a great place to visit with friends or family. If you are looking for something to eat around Forest Hills, Mike’s Donut Shop sells breakfast and is located right in the station. On the street, the Oriental House provides Chinese food and Achilito’s Taqueria provides Mexican food. 
Green Street and Stony Brook are only a short trip away from Forest Hills and much of the same pros and cons apply in terms of connections. The Green Street stop leaves you within walking distance of Centre Street which is home to good ol’ J.P. Licks. 
Jackson Square is at the intersection of Centre Street and Columbus Ave, making it a traffic hellzone. Despite this, Jackson Square not only provides access to il Panino Cafe and Grill, but also a shopping center further down Centre Street. 
2. Ruggles to Tufts Medical Center
Jumping over to Ruggles, you can expect to see a Forest Hills-looking station, with Ruggles also being surrounded by large new developments and a whole bunch of bus connections. If you are really hungry and find yourself at Ruggles or Back Bay all hope isn’t completely lost. Back Bay is in the heart of Boston’s South End, which is highly populated by restaurants and tiny shops. My personal favorite coffee shop, Pavement Cafe, has a location on Newbury Street. The rest of the businesses are really nice restaurants and bakeries. Your wallet might hurt a bit after but at least your stomach won’t.
Just looking to have fun? Ruggles is right near the Emerald Necklace, a large, expansive, skinny strip of green that is a pretty nice bike ride or walk. If you're in the Tufts area, the Boston Public Gardens and Boston Common are only a short walk away. Weekends can be hectic with an influx of tourists but generally these places are definitely on the bucket list of places to go in Boston.
3. Chinatown to North Station
Our third section brings us from Chinatown all the way to North Station, the heart of Boston. This is a pretty expansive area, teeming with history, fashion, culture, cuisine, shops and entertainment. From Chinatown, not only can you explore the Chinese-owned and inspired restaurants and shops, but you can also easily access the Boston Common, including Frog Pond, the Swan Boats and the Public Garden. 
Next up is Downtown Crossing, which immediately surrounds you with mega stores such as Macy’s, Primark, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Old Navy. It also connects to the Red Line, the only stop on the Orange Line to do so. Downtown Crossing is super close to Escape the Room Boston, which is self explanatory so check it out! 
Right after Downtown Crossing is State Street which is close to the Old South Meeting House, a staple in Boston's history. State is the only Orange Line stop that connects to the Blue Line. Haymarket is situated right across the street from City Hall and also right next to, you guessed it, the Boston Public Market. The Public Market is chock full of organic, local individual businesses that put great care into their work. From seafood to apple cider, there is something for everyone at the BPM. 
Our last stop in this section is North Station. While Haymarket makes room for plenty of bus lines, North Station houses four Commuter Rail lines and just like Haymarket, it houses two Green Line tracks. North Station has what scientists call “superior position” as it is on the edge of the city, making it a great place to start any commute. Of course one of the biggest draws of North Station has to be TD Garden, the home of the Bruins and Celtics. If you can snag a ticket, go! Finally, North Station is located in the North End, obviously well known for its Italian influence and the delicious food!
4. Community College to Oak Grove
What lies beyond North Station is a mystery to many Bostonian travelers. Few riders of the Orange Line have ever been to Oak Grove, and if so, definitely not frequently. Well, we decided to take the plunge and go all the way from Forest Hills to Oak Grove. Having gone the whole way we can say for a fact that there is very little to do at Oak Grove. If you want to head in that direction looking for something to do, definitely stop at Malden Center instead where there is a lot to do. Before we get to our experience in Malden, the stops in between need to be covered.
Wellington and Assembly are on opposite sides of the Mystic River. Wellington is an important station as it is the repair hub of the Orange Line, making it one of the larger stations. Assembly is home to the noteworthy Assembly Row, sprawling across 45 acres of shops, restaurants, and other entertainment locations. Some notable mentions include the AMC, Legoland, Mike’s Pastry, Banana Republic and Lucky Strike Social, a cool arcade and bowling alley. Sullivan Square is another stop worth mentioning due to its proximity to Assembly Row and its own row of local shops. 
Going north into Malden there is lots more to do. We encountered the Wanyoo eSports Center, a gaming cafe funded by a Chinese gaming company. You pay a certain amount of dollars per hour of play. We had lots of fun with the racing simulator and the virtual reality setup. We were also given a quick tour of the facilities. The cafe is equipped with high quality gaming equipment and has multiple private rooms for private parties. There is also a menu of Asian imported cuisine. Speaking of which, Asian cuisine dominates downtown Malden, giving you plenty of delicious options. 
The Orange Line is one of the busiest lines in Boston and rightfully so. There are tons of great places to check out and you are truly missing out of what makes this city so great if you're not getting out there. 
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