Along with homework and teachers, school discipline is among the most common topics of conversation among Boston teenagers. At many schools around the district, students complain about systems that can punish students for even the smallest infractions. We at the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) understand students’ problems with disciplinary rules. Over the last few years, BSAC has worked to improve school discipline procedures through several major initiatives: •On October 4, BSAC conducted its annual Listening Project at the Ruggles, Roxbury Crossing, Forest Hills, and Ashmont T stations. Members collected valuable information from students about their schools’ procedures. •One of BSAC’s biggest concerns is the ac- tive use of suspension as punishment for the most minor offenses. These suspensions do little to prevent students from future misbehavior and only leave them behind on their schoolwork. We have met with many other student coalitions and even attended a meeting of Congress about this issue. We strongly urge schools to consider other options so that students are not stripped of their educations. Students need to be aware of their rights. For more information, contact Caroline Lau at clau4@bostonpublicschools.org.
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Responsibility is a great man. He works hard to give his family what it wants. He never listens when Laziness tries to make him quit. He likes to hang out with his best friend, Justice. His family is related to Confidence. Responsibility is a man who wears the right clothes for the weather. In case he is sweaty, he always has an extra shirt. At the age of 16, Responsibility’s parents were fighting. His father left the house. His mother was heartbroken. How was she going to pay the bills, buy food, and get clothes? Responsibility was worried. He went to find a job. They accepted him at Burger King. But it wasn’t easy. He was also in school and didn’t want to drop out. He did well. He graduated from high school and then college. He never gave up. Now he’s a mechanic.
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November / December 2013 Issue
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Cover Story
Trouble vision
Sixteen-year-old Jeffrey Laine knows he probably needs glasses but says he doesn’t have time to get his eyes checked. Not that he would wear his specs, anyway. “I don’t want to have glasses, because I know that I am going to forget them somewhere,” says Laine, who attends the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science.
He can see things better if he sits in the front of the class, but he prefers not to. That would mean always getting chosen to answer questions by the teacher. Laine’s solution? “I have to squint my eyes,” he says. Many teens don’t wear glasses since they think it makes them look nerdy. This holds true for adults, as well. A 2010 British study cited in the Daily Mail online found that scores of women across the pond would rather go through life squinting -- which decreases the entry of light and increases focus -- than spoil their looks by wearing spectacles. This is still happening despite the fact that many entertainment celebrities and sports stars can now be seen about town flaunting fancy eyewear. Some are also known to wear fake glasses -- thick frames with clear lenses -- just to look cerebral. Contact lenses are an option for some teens. Yet others find them uncomfortable, or too much trouble to put in and take out, or too expensive. Same with some glasses -- and many teens wouldn't be caught wearing anything other than costly designer brands. Still, medical experts say squinting should be only used as a short-term option for improving vision and can cause headaches. Amal Egal, 16, needs glasses but chooses not to wear them. “I hate how glasses look on me,” says Egal, from the O’Bryant. She says she would rather not deal with contact lenses and something touching her eyes. So she makes sure to tell her teachers at the beginning of the year that she needs to sit in the front of the room to see, and squints her way through the rest of the day. Anita Le, 16, says she hasn’t used glasses for two years now. “I’m always too lazy to get them fixed,” says Le, who goes to the O’Bryant. She will try to sit in front of the class, even though she does not like it. She, too, chooses to squint her eyes or get lost in a big blur.
Eye See • The Roman philosopher Seneca, born around the year 4 BC, was known to magnify his readings through a glass • The Roman emperor Nero, who ruled from 54 to 68 AD, held an emerald lens to his eye as he watched the gladiators do battle. • An ancient document indicates that the first wearable eyeglasses first appeared in Italy around 1285, inventor unknown. • Gold frames with crystal lenses burst on the scene for rich people in 1420. • Sam Foster introduced mass-produced sunglasses to America on beaches in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1929. • Many centuries before, around the 1100s, Chinese judges wore shades of smoky quartz -- not to block the sun but to hide their eye expressions from courtroom witnesses. Sources: Women's and Children's Health Network, ideafinder.com, "Spectacles and Other Vision Aids"
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Joseph Hunt, 16, a junior from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, is taking two AP classes and he thinks they are pretty challenging.
“These classes take a lot of my time,” says Hunt, “I do not get enough time to sleep.” Sometimes, Hunt says, he does not even have enough spare moments to spend with his family because he is too busy with school. Education is one of the most important factors in the growth of the country. Higher education can give you more opportunities in your life and the chance to have a great job.
At the same time, being a teenager can be the best days of your life -- but you need the opportunity to enjoy it. Markus Brown, an upperclassman from the South End/Lower Roxbury, is one step closer to college. To be successful, he says, you need to set realistic goals for yourself and strike a balance between work and play. “Being involved outside of school is what colleges look for,” says Brown. “Even though sometimes school asks for too much, sometimes you can just say no and take a break for yourself and spend time with your family during the weekend.” Seventeen-year-old Juan Crespo, from Madison Park High School, is still not sure what he wants to do in the future. He thinks that sometimes school gives a workload that is too heavy. But somehow, he says, he is still able to manage it all.
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