AFH Photo//Bill Le
I've been talking a lot about how amazing falling in love with someone else is that I forgot to tell you about the wonders of falling in love with yourself. 
Please forgive me
But we tend to always compliment others around us without realizing our own beauty 
You were created with marvels of natural perfection 
So yes, you are beautiful* 
Despite your acne
Your crooked teeth
Your stretch marks 
Your white, pale, brown, black skin
Your skinny/thick thighs
Your frizzy hair 
Your brown eyes
Whatever it is that society has a tendency of hating 
You are beautiful 
The existence of another's beauty does not mean the absence of yours
I find a rose to be a beautiful plant and I find the stars to be as beautiful
They are nothing alike but both are still equally ravishing
And along with self-love comes the act of forgiving 
Yourself and others 
Let go of it 
The hurt 
The anger 
The pain
The doubt
Let go of the past and look ahead because you have a lifetime to go 
You should not live not knowing your worth 
So go, find yourself 
Find your new self 
Whoever that may be, believe me, you will love them 
It sounds scary yes, but you have lived through worse 
Find hope 
Keep going 
If anything I learned is that life has a way of working out in our favors
There is a light, even in absolute darkness


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Dear Seana,
I’m going to be starting at a new private school next year, and I’m scared. I know that I am probably going to be one of the only black students in my entire grade. Do you have any tips to help me fit in?
From, 
Doubtful in Dedham

Dear Doubtful,
Build your confidence: immediately. You’re going to mostly be around white students no matter what, so you should find good things about yourself that you like—maybe you’re really smart, or you’re really athletic. Find confidence from within.  
Next, if anyone bullies you, make sure to stand up for yourself. If you don’t like what someone has to say, you should tell them in a polite and respectful way. If you get angry and upset, you’ll unfortunately reinforce the stereotypes that they already think of you. Don’t let them win—address them politely and maturely, but challenge their ignorance. 
You will also probably be asked to explain a lot of things about black culture that you’re used to and your classmates don’t understand. If you don’t want to do that, you don’t have to—you don’t have to answer for every black person in the world. You’re not the only black person in the world! 
Finally, find spaces that support you. Look for afterschool programs that have good representation. If they don’t have racial diversity, look for a program with diversity of mindsets or socioeconomic background. If you really want to connect with people of your own ethnicity, look around outside of school—in your neighborhood, online, or in an afterschool program. 

Sincerely,
Seana


Dear Seana,
I really want to be an actress one day. I have researched the best performing arts colleges to go to, and I’ve done all my school’s plays. The problem is, my parents think being an actress is stupid, and that I should be a doctor instead. How can I get them to understand my dream?
From,
Dr. Drama Queen

Dear Dr. Drama, 
 Try politely telling your parents that the things that interest you are important. Your parents are probably scared that things won’t go as planned, or maybe they’re even worried that you’ll become too successful and they’ll lose you. Parents never want to “lose” their children (even though we all know that’s just a part of growing up!). However, know that you can’t really convince other people about stuff like this. But you have high ambition for what you really love. If you can’t find support in your family, find other people who have the same goals. And don’t let whatever your mother, your father, or your grandparents have to say get stuck on your mind. They’re just trying to live vicariously through you, and you need to have your own ideas. Follow your dream. That may be an experience that you learn from. Don’t reject something that you really like and that you’ve had interest in forever. 
Sincerely,
Seana

Dear Seana,
Sometimes I just hate the way I look. I have very dark skin and my hair is really kinky. Sometimes people make fun of me for having such dark skin. How can I find a way to feel more comfortable with myself?
From, 
Where’s My Black Girl Magic?


Dear Magic, 
Put yourself first. Don’t compare or try to emulate someone else’s beauty before yours. Don’t focus on Eurocentric features that don’t look like you. From straight hair to curly 3 type hair, Afro-beauty is amazing! 
 You should also look up people who look like you on Instagram. Follow Instagram accounts that post pictures of dark-skinned women and save pictures on your phone of successful black women, to look at whenever you need validation. Also, try to find hairstyles that enhance your kinky hair—check out tutorials on YouTube for hair advice and tips on how to go natural.
 Finally, meditate. Listen to calm music or go outside for a little bit. Clean your mind. Travel if you have to. Look at beaches. When you leave your comfort zone, you might find that others see your beauty more than the people in your life do. 
Sincerely,
Seana








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AFH Photo//Aijanah Sanford
Did you know that most students in Boston Public Schools don’t eat the lunches they are provided during the school day? While BPS has made attempts to fix this issue, it’s still not fully fixed. Improving the quality of school lunches is a matter that should be taken seriously. 
In most school cafeterias, students often throw out their food. The 2015 New York Times article “Why Students Hate School Lunches” states “Food and nutrition directors at school districts nationwide say that their trash cans are overflowing while their cash register receipts are diminishing as children either toss out the healthier meals or opt to brown-bag it.’’According to the article, the food and nutrition directors saw that trash barrels in the cafeterias were full with the lunch that is served to their students. This is something that has to be fixed because in the long run, it will lead to bigger issues like some students going hungry.
A good step towards improving school lunches is to have students get involved in creating the menu that will be served each day. School lunches are made for students, not the staff; therefore, students should have a say in what is being served. This is also an opportunity for the students to put their cultural dishes on the menu, which will make it more diverse.
 “The people that make the school lunches, they don't really care about how they do it, or if the food has good flavor,’’ said 16-year-old Eddie Batista of Margarita Muñiz Academy.
The Times article also states, “There’s been a movement to relax a few of the guidelines as Congress considers whether to reauthorize the legislation, particularly mandates for 100 percent whole grains and extremely low sodium levels, so school meals will be a bit more palatable and reflective of culinary traditions.’’ The article also goes on to say, “other than mandating more fruits and vegetables, the new regulations haven’t really changed anything except force manufacturers to re-engineer products so they meet the guidelines but not children’s taste expectations.” This is saying that the healthy meals that students get aren’t enjoyed because they lack flavor. However, it is possible to make better lunches that still comply with these guidelines. 
Students should get more involved with aspects of school life that affect their overall education. The staff in the schools need to consider that their preferences don't matter because the rules and regulations they make is for the students to follow, not them. Students should be more involved, especially with school lunches because the food is served to the students, but we don't have a say in what it is. 


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AFH Photo//Dominic Duong
Many parents have concerns over how their children are educated. At the heart of these issues is class size. Numbers in classes have gradually risen over the last few decades, and now it seems we have reached a crisis point. Numbers need to be reduced because at their current levels, the quality of students’ education is being negatively affected. Schools need smaller class sizes to stop students from disrupting class, allow teachers to have more one-on-one conferencing and encourage students to be more productive.
Smaller classes enable students to individually conference with teachers for help. “In middle school, the classes were big and the students were talkative and the teacher had no control over the classroom,” said Christofer Luna, a junior at Edward M. Kennedy High. “If the class were smaller, it would be quiet and more controlled.” 
In an interview with NPR, Jeremy Finn, a professor of education at the State University of New York at Buffalo, stated that classes of under 20 students are best. “In small classes, students' behavior changes even more than does teacher behavior,” he said. He added that students are better behaved, pay more attention and support each other in learning more. Furthermore, Finn pointed out that children who were in small classes for three or four years were more likely to graduate high school and take college entrance exams. So these early grades of small classes have long-lasting effects. 
 Research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information has shown that student-teacher relationships are “protective factors in school adjustment.” Also, a study conducted by the University of Turin found that positive and effective student-teacher relationships may play an important role in students' adaptation to the school environment, favoring both academic achievement and adaptive behaviors. 
“Small classes are less hectic because with less students asking questions and needing help, the teacher can get to each student in one class,” said Eddy Batista, a junior at Margarita Muñiz Academy.
 Having the opportunity to ask questions and engage encourages students to be productive and get more work done. According to an article posted by international education company Education First, small classes allow students to learn more and learn faster. “This means the class progresses through the course material more quickly. Their learning is enhanced by the confidence students develop to share their opinions and ask and answer questions, which also benefits their peers,” it says. 
According to the Student Teacher Achievement Ratio, or STAR, study conducted in the 1980s, when class sizes are reduced, student achievement increases about three additional months of schooling four years later. In other words, when student-teacher ratios decrease, student achievement increases.
 It’s clear that class sizes have a major effect on student learning. Smaller classrooms help students to not disturb the class, enable students to have one-on-one conferences with teachers for help, and motivate students to get more work done. 
Imagine you’re in a noisy class, with kids yelling and talking too loud. You can’t focus, you get distracted, you can’t ask questions, and the teacher won’t pay attention to you. Then imagine being in a small class—it’s proactive, you have more opportunities, you’re engaged. The teachers can learn about you so they can better teach you. Which one interests you more?


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AFH Art//Carol Foster
It was a bright sunny day in Hawaii, where humans had yet to be made. Nestled in the North Pacific Ocean were a couple of islands who loved each other dearly and had a child that was a tree. The lady island’s name was Marie, the man island’s name was Sebastian, and the tree’s name was Quinn. This family was special because Quinn was born with roots on both islands, which connected them to one another.
 One day, there was an enormous earthquake. But the only island that was damaged was Marie. Marie had been sobbing for hours while Sebastian wasn’t nearly as devastated. In fact, he looked the opposite of glum; he seemed happy. When Quinn saw her mom crying and her dad smiling, she began to question them.
 Quinn’s palm tree leaves lowered when she asked Marie, “Mommy, why are you so sad? Tears are in your eyes. You can talk to me.”
 “I am sad because of this earthquake Mommy had to deal with,” said Marie. “I had to go through it all on my own,” she replied with a frown.
Quinn then turned to Sebastian and started to question him.
“Daddy,” she asked. “Why are you happy?” 
“Well, I am happy, baby, because the earthquake has stopped and I wasn’t as badly affected as your Mommy!” Sebastian replied with a cheerful tone.
It had been a few days since the earthquake. Marie was still ravaged and broken, while Sebastian was clean and healthy. Marie teared up here and there, and Quinn noticed something was not right. She became worried, which led her to ask Marie what was wrong.
“Darling, Daddy and I are separating because of the earthquake.”
Quinn then realized that it was true. The islands were moving half an inch apart each day. Marie explained to Quinn that she and Sebastian were worried if they split up because Quinn had roots connected to both islands. Quinn had already noticed that the earthquake was driving their family apart.
It had been months since the earthquake. Quinn’s roots had now been separated. A branch of her roots was just on her mother and the rest of her roots were on her father. It seemed as if she was hovering over the water without any land beneath her, and she was nervous of what was to come. She kept on questioning whether she was to be with her father without her mother, or with her mother without her father. Nature was to take its course sooner or later.
The next day, Quinn woke up to the calling of her name from her mom and dad. Once Quinn opened her eyes, she saw that she was split in half. One half of her trunk was with her mom and the other half was with her dad. Although the earthquake tore apart her parents, it could not break up her family. Now Quinn doesn’t have to worry because she is with both parents every day.


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