Cover Story
Hope
AFH ARTWORK
Despite a rampage of foreign and domestic troubles, Mageney Omar, a sophomore at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, says she is confident about tomorrow -- and the days after.
“I’m still very hopeful about the world we live in because I know that we have built a strong foundation that cannot be torn down easily,” she says. “The US has strong leaders who are not going to fail the people.”
Barack Obama appealed to many young people in 2008 with his candidate’s message of hope and change.
However, much has changed on the hope front since Obama became president:
ISIS and their bombings and beheadings. Doomsday displays of North Korean nukes. Unrelenting climate unrest. Crazier than ever, out- of-control college costs.
Donald J. Trump.
“I’m not hopeful because no amount of hope will change the bad things happening,” says Kiana Mclean, a sophomore at the O’Bryant.
Yet many teens and their peers say they remain fervent in their faith about the future.
A survey last year of young people born between 1996 and 2000 discovered that 65 percent of these so-called Generation Z members, from 46 countries, felt at ease going forward, according to the global research firm Universum.
Of course, other surveys say, these are not the wide-eyed, teenage optimists of yesterday but, rather, more of a group of eyes-wide-open realists.
Their gritty, tough-it-out attitudes can be seen in a 2014 Northeastern University report that found: Even as the financial burdens of future education weighed heavily on teens, 65 percent understood that the value of a degree was worth the monetary sacrifice.
Many in this generation say they believe that positivity can go a long way in dealing with devastating current events, a position that, observers say, also manifests in the youth’s maturity and insistence on equality for all.
“You can focus on the bad stuff but that isn’t everything in your life,” says Alejandro Melguizo, a sophomore at the O’Bryant. “If you can see the good, you can survive.”
For many students, the realization that there’s a big, bad ball of misery out there doesn’t terrify them.
It just makes them want to change things up.
“I know there are people that are homeless, starving, or in a worse condition than I am,” says Rayven Frierson, a sophomore at the O’Bryant. “Yet I live life with a positive mind-set. I have faith that the world will realize their mistakes and fix it.”
This article was prepared in collaboration with 826 Boston.
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Cover Story
Teens need to consider the impact of insensitive memes
The year 2020 kicked off with news about a potential World War III and the spread of the coronavirus. Despite the severity of these situations, everyone had a meme to share and laugh to have about everything going on in the world. 
For example, the meme of Michael Jordan laughing in the first image and then crying in the second, with a caption that reads, “Me laughing at all the World War 3 memes Vs. me when I get that draft letter.” Then, there are all the coronavirus memes. I’m not going to lie, some of them are funny. However, it’s not okay to create racist memes, such as one that reads, “It’s a simple, we uh, eat the batman,” with a picture of the Joker wearing an Asian conical rice hat. You can clearly see the racism here. 
All around the world memes have been posted, shared, talked about and laughed at. Why is it that in today’s society, we make funny memes of situations that are serious or dangerous? While I feel that memes are acceptable in general, when we use them to poke fun at serious topics it stops being funny. 
Mohammed Elamin, a 14-year-old freshman at Fenway High, said “I don’t care. I mean if the joke is really funny, I’ll laugh. However, you can’t tell an autism joke in front of someone who has it.” Like many teenagers, Elamin doesn’t quite understand how jokes can affect someone. Teenagers don’t really understand the whole message behind the memes — they mostly look at them and just laugh. 
Some of the World War III memes went as far as bringing up the topic of women’s rights. For example, a popular meme joked about how women have no rights, so they also can’t be drafted into the war. However, not everyone was laughing. Twitter user
Ryan Knight (@ProudResister) wrote, “War is not a [expletive] joke. It is a destructive and selfish act. 4,424 U.S. soldiers and an estimated 600K Iraqi civilians died in the Iraq war over WMDs that did not exist. So please stop with these #WWIII memes and instead call your Congress members and tell them #NoWarWithIran.” 
A potential crisis that would actually mean something awful for our country’s future is not something to joke about. It shows incivility. You are being the definition of a jerk. Soldiers at war risk their lives every day. They are waking up and going to sleep with the fear of it being their last day. For teens to create memes and laugh at the idea of war is just plain cruel. 
More recently, the coronavirus memes are amplifying stereotypes against Asians. Some people are refusing to eat Chinese food or be around Asian people at all. On the one hand, it’s understandable to be cautious. But, at the same time, you have to realize that while the virus started in China, that doesn’t mean that every Asian person has it. It made me very upset to hear that people are being rude to Chinese people. I can’t even lie, I also began to avoid Asian people when I first saw the memes, but I stopped doing it because I realized that it made the person feel hurt.    
Teens have been insensitive to other topics that aren’t as timely as well, such as making fun of autistic people. It is highly disrespectful to make fun of a group that is already discriminated against. One meme  shows a smiling Spongebob with no eyebrows and a caption that reads, “When the school shooter knocks on the door and the autistic kid opens the door.” This “joke” is that people with autism would be the first to die in a school shooting. Not only does it make fun of people with a developmental disorder, but it also makes light of mass shootings. This is highly ignorant and heartless. 
Teens need to stop being so apathetic and actually try to understand the real message they send out when sharing and posting hurtful memes on topics. We can’t always fix the world and people, but being able to notice things that aren’t right is the way to help out. So when you see something fishy with a meme that teens are posting, call them out on it. Don’t like it or share it. Make them regret they ever posted it. 
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School News
Kate Fussner’s creativity has gotten Fenway High reading
Kate Fussner
When I was in ninth grade I had one teacher I could really speak to. She was someone I could relate to when it came to being LGBTQ+. She opened a safe space for me to voice my concerns and what I'd gone through, including my anxiety and my mental health problems. I still visit her in her office at Fenway High School’s library to this day. That teacher is Kate Fussner. 
Fussner was born and raised in South Jersey, eventually moving to Pennsylvania when her father remarried. After high school, she attended the internationally recognized Vassar College. Knowing that her career goal was to become an English teacher and a writer, college flew by. In 2010, Fussner came to teach in Boston and has taught in Boston Public Schools for 10 years, including four at Fenway, where she teaches English Language Arts to freshmen. 
Something that stuck with me from her class was her grading system. Her students either get a 90 or 100% for good work, or a 50% and below. There is no in-between. This pushed me to put in my best work. Fussner gives a workload that encourages meeting deadlines but also scares students into making sure they are doing good work. If it weren't for her and The Panther Press, the freshman online newspaper that she started in 2017, I wouldn't be writing this article.
Both Fussner and Fenway’s librarian, Bonnie McBride, stress a love for reading with their students. They are very in your face when it comes to books. Fussner analyzes each one of her students' reading styles and knows what books to recommend to each student. 
“A lot of students come in, if anything, [saying] ‘I really like reading’ or ‘Oh, I'm not really a reader,’” Fussner said. “Sure, because you were forced to read books that you had no choice over no interest. And now that we've given you choice, and we've given you time, like, you can start to see yourself as a reader.” 
Fussner also discussed an incident that occurred when she was fifteen, when she chose to go to summer school to advance her learning, and how it shapes her teaching now. “I think as a high school student, I really didn't feel heard about [a] specific situation. And it really threw me.” She continued, “I also think that as an adult, I understand so much more now than I did then.” That specific situation was a sexual harassment incident that she wrote about in a 2017 article for WBUR’s Cognoscenti column, “Why #Me Too Isn’t Enough.”
“I never leave a class unattended, or make a student work in a group with others who have wronged him or her,” she wrote. “But more than that, I am trying to do what was not done for me: teach all of my students that violent language is unacceptable, that blind loyalty in friendships has its limits and that even “not taking a side” can be, in fact, standing against a victim.”
In the end, Fussner’s hard work and determination to make Fenway and her classroom a place of comfort where students can dive into the pages of a book has paid off. She has the respect of myself and so many talented students both inside and outside of the school.
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School News
Kate Fussner’s creativity has gotten Fenway High reading
When I was in ninth grade I had one teacher I could really speak to. She was someone I could relate to when it came to being LGBTQ+. She opened a safe space for me to voice my concerns and what I'd gone through, including my anxiety and my mental health problems. I still visit her in her office at Fenway High School’s library to this day. That teacher is Kate Fussner. 
Fussner was born and raised in South Jersey, eventually moving to Pennsylvania when her father remarried. After high school, she attended the internationally recognized Vassar College. Knowing that her career goal was to become an English teacher and a writer, college flew by. In 2010, Fussner came to teach in Boston and has taught in Boston Public Schools for 10 years, including four at Fenway, where she teaches English Language Arts to freshmen. 
Something that stuck with me from her class was her grading system. Her students either get a 90 or 100% for good work, or a 50% and below. There is no in-between. This pushed me to put in my best work. Fussner gives a workload that encourages meeting deadlines but also scares students into making sure they are doing good work. If it weren't for her and The Panther Press, the freshman online newspaper that she started in 2017, I wouldn't be writing this article.
Both Fussner and Fenway’s librarian, Bonnie McBride, stress a love for reading with their students. They are very in your face when it comes to books. Fussner analyzes each one of her students' reading styles and knows what books to recommend to each student. 
“A lot of students come in, if anything, [saying] ‘I really like reading’ or ‘Oh, I'm not really a reader,’” Fussner said. “Sure, because you were forced to read books that you had no choice over no interest. And now that we've given you choice, and we've given you time, like, you can start to see yourself as a reader.” 
Fussner also discussed an incident that occurred when she was fifteen, when she chose to go to summer school to advance her learning, and how it shapes her teaching now. “I think as a high school student, I really didn't feel heard about [a] specific situation. And it really threw me.” She continued, “I also think that as an adult, I understand so much more now than I did then.” That specific situation was a sexual harassment incident that she wrote about in a 2017 article for WBUR’s Cognoscenti column, “Why #Me Too Isn’t Enough.”
“I never leave a class unattended, or make a student work in a group with others who have wronged him or her,” she wrote. “But more than that, I am trying to do what was not done for me: teach all of my students that violent language is unacceptable, that blind loyalty in friendships has its limits and that even “not taking a side” can be, in fact, standing against a victim.”
In the end, Fussner’s hard work and determination to make Fenway and her classroom a place of comfort where students can dive into the pages of a book has paid off. She has the respect of myself and so many talented students both inside and outside of the school.
Read more…
School News
Schools need air conditioning to keep kids learning through the end of the year
Picture this: It’s June. It’s about 85 degrees inside your math class and 10 degrees warmer outside. The windows are open, but all that is coming in is hot air. You are taking a test, but you’re focused on the sweat accumulating on your seat rather than if A or B is the correct answer. You have 20 minutes left to finish the test, and you are only on question six. You want to get up and get a cup of water, but now you only have 10 minutes left and you are still on question six. You can't focus at all and the heat is making you tired, so you put your head down on the desk, which seems to be cooler than the room. You accidentally fall asleep! You wake up and hear “five minutes left,” and you realize…you still have 14 questions left. 
This scenario can be played out by hundreds of students in Boston. As the warmer months begin to approach, faster than usual, teachers and students must prepare themselves to adapt to the heat and recognize the risk of heat stress. But even with adaptation, the struggle to focus in class, and the distraction that is created because of the heat makes matters even more uncomfortable than they have to be. 
Youth across Boston, have been researching the impacts generated due to heat stress. Some of the impacts include risks of heat strokes, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash. Studies suggest that heat exposure can reduce the rate of learning and skill formation and greatly harm classroom productivity for teachers and students.
When we see schools like, New Mission, Boston Community Leadership Academy, or Boston Green Academy that get super hot, especially when the heat rises to the higher levels, there is a huge strain of frustration and agitation that is caused. For many Boston public schools, air conditioning is only in classrooms where teachers are willing to buy an AC with their own money. Something must be done to prevent the inherent problem at hand. 
The Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC), and the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCosh), have chosen to collaborate on this issue. The first step being, collecting surveys and recognizing the voices of students all around BPS. If you are interested in learning more, join us at a BSAC meeting. We meet Mondays 4-6 pm at the BPS Bolling Building, 2300 Washington Street, Roxbury. You can also email us at bsac@bostonpublicschools.org
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