AFH artwork by Billy Nunez
Everything was different in the year 2025. They passed a law saying that children had to take pencil guns to school.
The problem started when Royalty’s mother handed her a pencil gun in the kitchen one morning.
“Here my love -- take this.” “Mom, but why?”
“Honey, you need this to protect
yourself. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“But I don’t like this idea. This makes me scared, mom.”
“Royalty, please don’t make this difficult.”
“All this is ridiculous, mom. How can you feel safe with something material?”
“Take it and I don’t want any calls from the principal that you left your pencil gun.”
Royalty was extremely mad and called her best friend, Carlos.
“Hi Carlos.”
“Long time that I don’t talk to.”
“I know. I just finished fighting with my mother.”
“What happened?”
“She wants me to use this pencil gun -- supposedly to protect 
   myself.”
“I know. My mom was talking to me about it, too. But don’t worry,” Carlos assured her....
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Billy Nunez / AFH Artwork
It was the year 3040, the era of the robot. Emerson, a young teenager, was crying in the hallway of his mansion. His parents decided to buy a robot to take care of their son -- prepare breakfast for Emerson, drive him to school.
Emerson’s father walked in the front door.
“What happened son? Why are you crying?”
“I’m crying because you and mom don’t love me.”
“We love you so much son, don’t say that.”
“Why did you and mom buy a robot to take care of me?”
“We don’t have time to take care of you.
We thought the robot would be better for you. Now go to bed, son.’’
Emerson refused to go to school the next day and stayed in his room, crying.
His father came home early and looked for his wife.
“I’m going to delete the robot,” he told her...
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Cuong Huynh / AFH Photo
For many students like myself, being able to experience deep learning is the best way to acquire valuable knowledge.
Two years ago, for example, I took a chemistry class. I felt invested while studying about relevant issues like global warming. I remember how much excitement I had when I went to the teacher and talked about ways to stop the global warming onslaught. I even attempted to do recycling at my house.
However, this topic only lasted a few weeks and then we moved on. I was not sure what to do anymore with what I learned because it was no longer mentioned during class. I stopped recycling at home.
After noticing this pattern of teaching, many students do not want to invest too much mental energy knowing that certain subject matter will soon disappear.
In fact, a 2006 report commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called “The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts,” found that nearly half of those surveyed said a major reason they left school was because their classes were boring.
Teaching can be superficial if it is not brought into the real world. It is important to address the issue of providing a pertinent, student-centered curriculum to all students or achievement will be stunted.
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AFH Photo Janna Mach
I grew up in Jordan as an immigrant from Iraq. The first day I entered my high school classroom I was shocked -- food was everywhere on the floor, there were broken desks and tables, and kids were throwing papers at each other. The teacher just sat on his desk holding a cigar and drinking coffee and hitting anyone who was late or forgot homework.
I was often late because I couldn’t afford the money for a bus, so I had to walk. That was when my suffering began.
In Amman, Jordan, education mostly happened on the streets. I needed to support my family. I continued to wake up at 6 am, but then skipped school to work illegally as a trash picker. It was a disgusting job, but it paid me good money.
I walked from corner to corner to collect what could be sold, like metal or furniture, and then I would throw it in a truck. After six hours of sweating under the sun, we arrived at the storage facility, where we emptied the truck and were paid the equivalent of $15.
At the end of the day, I walked to the river so I could wash the smell off me.
Today, instead of running to gather garbage, I run from class to class to pursue my education. I wake up at 6 am excited for the opportunity to attend a school where teachers care about you and work hard because they want to see you succeed.
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Kiara Maher / AFH Photo
Isabella Carrasco, a sophomore at Boston Latin School, was one of more than 1,000 Boston Public Schools students who recently marched outside the State House to protest massive proposed budget cuts.
As a multitude of BPS students walked out of classes that March day, with many attending the rally, Carrasco says she knew she took a risk but felt the issue was too important to ignore.
“At first I was afraid to even go,” says Carrasco, “but then I decided there needs to be something done.”
The action was followed by this opening paragraph of a Boston Globe story: “Days after thousands of students walked out to protest budget cuts, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Thursday that he plans to announce that Boston high schools will be spared the controversial reductions that endangered popular programs and teacher jobs.”
No matter how the details of the budget process shake out, students say they came to realize the power of protest.
“I feel very good because not only did I help myself and my school but I also helped other people and other schools,” says Brianna Ducharme, a sophomore at Boston Latin Academy.
After all, teens say, it’s not only adults who are invested in the future of BPS.
“I feel like the walkout was a chance for students to actually show how much they care for their education,” says Nick Barbosa, a sophomore at BLA.
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