School News
Finding studying difficult? Use these tips!
Teens in Print
Do you enjoy the spring? It’s a time in the year when new life begins, where people can freely go outside and enjoy the beautiful, blooming flowers. But for students? Nope! We don’t have a chance to do all that. Instead, we are stuck with exams such as the MCAS, SAT and finals. The best way for us to do well on these tests is to review our notes while slouching our backs at a desk, also known as studying.
Standards-based assessments, such as the MCAS and the SAT, require lots of studying. Taking these tests can be challenging for many students, especially with the fear that if they don’t know the material, they could potentially hurt their grade or struggle to succeed academically. Moreover, when students stress out too much about their studies, they could perform badly as a result or put their mental health at risk. In this article, we will be sharing tips students can use while preparing themselves for exams. This way, we can all do our best without getting too stressed. 
Tip 1: Don’t Only Study At A Desk, Study Actively! 
Hunching your back at your desk is tiring, I know. The best posture to have is sitting up straight, however, having that posture makes it difficult to reach your desk. According to Psychology Today, constant sitting puts you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, depression, obesity and other medical concerns. To avoid this, be active while studying instead of only sitting!
Put your body in an active position while studying: CBS News reports that, “Standing while learning and completing assignments improves executive functioning, or the skills you use to break down tasks like writing an essay or solving multi-step math problems.” This proves that keeping your body in an active state helps us study better, because studying requires a high demand for your brain’s functions. Moving will keep your brain working, making your studies effective.
Exercise! Have a stretch!: CBS News also found that regular exercise has been shown to boost verbal memory, thinking and learning. It improves alertness, attention and motivation, while helping to build new brain cells.
Make it fun!: Instead of using piles of class notes to review, add a little twist to it. You could turn your studies into a sort of game, like a “Family Feud”-based vocabulary game, or a board game or whatever else you can think of! As a bonus, invite classmates to play your game, so you’ll not only be having fun, but studying as well!
Tip 2: Be Organized!
If you’re often disorganized, you’ve probably had the experience of being in a rush, cramming things last minute or pushing yourself to the limit while multitasking. According to Productivity 501, a website dedicated to offering productivity tips, good organizational skills lead to productivity and efficiency. Appearing organized is one thing, but actually being organized when the work gets tough will make all the difference. Here are some organization skills that should be used for studying:
Having a clean environment: Working in an environment that is neat and tidy will reduce the amount of time you spend hunting files down, and increase your ability to get things done. 
Get rid of and avoid all distractions: Technology, your friends and even the environment where you study can all be distractions. Yes, studying while listening to music can help, but let’s be real, we end up doing other things on our technology instead of studying. To avoid these distractions, isolate yourself. Leave your mobile phone, tablet, PC and everything else that could distract you out of the room. Find a quiet room that lacks any environmental noise that irritates you. Make sure that room doesn’t have anything that will detract from your studying. If it is a mess, you might end up cleaning it all up. If there are many visual distractions, you might find yourself staring off into space at something in the room. When you truly find the right space for you, there won’t be anything to waste time on and you will progress much faster in your work.
Planning out your daily schedule: Schedules are especially important for students with extracurricular activities like sports, after school clubs or jobs. Oftentimes, these students are limited in their time to study. According to the University of Michigan at Flint, the expected study time for high school students on average is around one to two hours per night. One to two hours isn’t that much, so you’ll have enough personal time to add to your schedule. Try to make sure your study time is when you feel most comfortable, or in the mood.
Tip 3: Eat Brainy Foods!
To those that like to eat, you’re in luck. It’s good to eat healthy while studying to give your brain a boost (but don’t leave a mess on your paper!) According to topuniversities.com, these foods listed below are brainy foods you might like:
Fish: Salmon, sardines and mackerel have lots of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help your brain’s memory functions.

Eggs: Here you can find important proteins and vitamins like B6, B12 and choline, which help regulate mood and improve mental function.
Green Tea: Tea is a good alternative to coffee or sodas full of caffeine, which students normally drink to keep themselves awake while studying. This beverage provides antioxidants that help sharpen your concentration.
Fruit: Sugar is sweet and addicting, I know. But fruit is sweet and addicting and beneficial, too! It’s a healthier alternative to a candy bar and provides nutritious vitamins for your studying brain.
Tip 4: Support Your Quality Of Life! 
You want to know what the most important part of studying is? You. You are the one that’s going to take this exam. Therefore you are the one that’s going to study all of these topics. And for this, you’re going to need to put yourself in the best condition! Take a look at these tips to help you out:
Get comfortable: According to Ameritech, a healthcare college, “Numerous studies have found that the place—or ‘context’—in which you study affects how you’ll remember that information.” The better-suited place you study in, the better you’ll remember information, while the least-suited place can lead to the opposite. Make sure your study environment is the most suited for you! Make sure it has things like comfortable lighting, or nice stationery or whatever you like. Another way to get comfortable is to take breaks every so often. If you take frequent breaks every interval of study, then you will stay refreshed and won’t become mentally exhausted. 
Combine your studies with your creativity/hobbies: You’ve heard the phrase “unleash your creativity” right? Well, if you want studying to feel easier, try to connect it with a hobby. Since you’re already used to your hobbies, combining them with your studies can help make learning both comprehensive and entertaining. For instance, if you like to sing, then why not compose a song based on your study notes? If you like to write, why not write a story based on your notes? If you like to act, why not make a story based on your notes, and act it out? There are many possibilities, so try it out!
Study in a good mood: As I implied, no one likes to study. But even so, don’t force yourself to study while you’re in a bad mood! Make sure you’re not overwhelmed with anything at the moment, and you are feeling completely energized and organized. Maybe even prepare a reward for yourself so you can be more motivated to study! Psychology Today found that a positive attitude has a specific influence on learning. A good mood affects your ability to learn, especially subjects that require some amount of flexibility and creativity.
So, next time you are hitting the books, try to remember some of these helpful tips. You might be surprised by how much you improve and succeed!
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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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