Shaniel Walker, 15, from Tech Boston Academy, speaks genuinely about her best friend, saying that she always puts a smile on her face. She makes it clear that a best friend should be someone who is always there for you when no one else is. Depending on the individuals and the things that are important to them, a best friend can have a range of qualities. Some define a best friend as the one you’ve known the longest. Others say it’s that special someone who likes the same things as you. Cephas Doughlin, 18, from Tech Boston Academy, decribes hers as: “Trustworthy, like a personal journal. Anything I say stays between us two.” Many believe that best friends possess the same basic traits. Nephthalie Dejeanlouis, 16, from Boston Latin Academy, says, “I define a best friend as someone honest and loyal.”
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All of my friends complain about being grounded, but not me. My mother has tried so many different ways to discipline me, but they really didn’t phase me. When I was little, my punishment was to go to bed at eight. That didn’t bother me at all. I would just enjoy my beauty sleep. Then my mom tried to take away the TV . Prior to that, we hadn’t had cable for a couple of years, so I had already grown accustomed to not watching television. My mother decided to force me to read books. At the time, I didn’t read much, but she made the mistake of bringing me intriguing selections. I didn’t stop until I was finished with them all. Next, she had me do chores. Another course of action that failed. I already did chores every day. In fact, I was the only one of her kids who didn’t fight it. She didn’t make it hard, either, because she would talk to me while I did a chore and play loud music. My mom pretty much kept me entertained. Overall, the reason my mother cannot ground me is because I do not get as miserable as I am supposed to. I let everything run its course and don’t let things affect me. There are a limited number of options my mother has if she wants to punish me, which are basically no options at all, because I am unpunishable.
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Life is strange. What is the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you? Orlando Castaneda, 16, from East Boston High School, remembers the time he was in English class and he lost his phone. He asked everybody if they’d seen it. All his friends were searching for it. Finally, he reached down and touched his pocket. He started laughing. “I found my phone,” he said. F or Paolo Petriello, 16, from Boston Community Leadership Academy, it was the time five years ago that he broke his arm in the park. He was yelling in pain. “Everyone was staring,” he says. When he was little, Edgar Benitez, 18, from East Boston High, woke up once with gum in his hair. The only solution was to have his aunt cut it out. “That was really weird,” he says, “because I always slept with gum in my mouth and that never happened to me.”
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“I look at an ant and I see myself: a native South African, endowed by nature with a strength much greater than my size so I might cope with the weight of a racism that crushes my spirit.”

-- Miriam Makeba

Unlike many modern musicians who sing only for fame and fortune, Miriam Makeba used her voice and name to fight the apartheid system of government in South Africa that had blacks living under whites. She wasn’t just an entertainer; she was a civil rights activist. Makeba sang for the freedom of her people. She told the world of things happening in South Africa through her music until her death, at age 76, in 2008. As an example, her song “Soweto Blues” contains these lyrics: “There was a full moon on the golden city. “Looking at the door was the man without pity. “Accusing everyone of conspiracy.” Makeba was forced to live in exile for 31 years due to her outspoken political beliefs. “I just told the world the truth,” she was quoted as saying. “And if my truth then becomes political, I can’t do anything about that.” She returned home in 1990 after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Miriam Makeba was a very humble person. She never played the big star. She gave love while receiving hatred. She got the name Mama Africa due to the kindness she showed others. On being an entertainer who had a message in her music, she said: “You are damned and praised, or encouraged or discouraged by those who listen to you, and those who come to applaud you. And to me, those people are very important.”
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“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

-- J.D. Salinger, “The Catcher in the Rye”

Authors are capable of making a big difference in our lives. The stories they conjure from their imaginations have the power to change us. We can become so consumed in a book and its characters that we actually have this feeling deep in our souls that they are real. The truth, which is amazing, is that this world in its entirety came from the author’s creative mind. As J.D. Salinger says through the voice of Holden Caulfield, this realization makes us transfer our connection toward the characters to the author who created them, and we suddenly have the desire to become his or her best friend. “The Catcher in the Rye” is a novel that anyone, no matter the gender or age, can relate to. Authors can have an effect on the world that lasts for years upon years. William Shakespeare is a prime example. One of his most famous plays, “Hamlet,” has intrigued people all around the world, and will continue to do so. Shakespeare channeled his own experience, intelligence, and emotion into the writing of this play, and he was able to create lines that astound readers. They are able to connect with big concepts on a personal level. Then there are authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, who have such a great understanding of society. They create stories with such eloquence and art -- while at the same time raising awareness -- that they are deemed to be literary geniuses. It’s a skill to be able to choose a genre and make the complete best of it.
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