For a movie star, Matt Damon has a very down-to-earth entry on his bucket list. “If I had a bucket list, I’d say raising my four girls to be strong, good women would be number one,” Damon was quoted as saying in Parade magazine. It may be surprising to hear that celebrities have their own bucket lists, since they seem to get whatever they want on a regular basis. However, child star Lil’ Romeo — who now goes by the more grown-up name “Romeo” — was quoted on SI.com as saying that going to the Super Bowl was on his bucket list. He explained that he was too busy with school and other things to attend. As for me, my bucket list is filled with adventure. Before I die, I would like to go diving -- skydiving, cliff diving, and scuba diving.
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Tiffanie Ortiz, 17, loves to wear urban fashion because she gets to express herself through her clothing. “I’ve been wearing it since I was 14,” says Ortiz, from Urban Science Academy. Urban fashion is a style born of the street. It’s a look that emerges from neighborhoods as opposed to being ripped from the pages of fashion magazines. Yet it still has a classy appeal to it. Think J.Lo -- now a glamour girl but originally from the Bronx. Ortiz is known for her unique way of wearing highwasted pants and blazers to her place of employment -- a sneaker shop. Briannally Ortiz, 15, from Boston Latin Academy, likes urban fashion because it is spontaneous and fresh. She was in the South End recently when she saw a young woman walk by in a fall skirt with flower patterns. She asked the woman where she got it: Forever 21. Briannally Ortiz went and bought one for herself.
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A group of students crowds the door to a Brighton convenience store in frustration, urgently waiting for the owner to let them in. Kenshey Johnson, 16, from Boston Community Leadership Academy, says he tried to enter but there were other teens already there. “I felt confused when he kicked me out, when all I just wanted to do was buy some chips and a juice,” says Johnson about the incident last year. “I was also mad because I really wanted to eat some snacks and I was forced to wait outside until the kids were done.” As another school year starts, many teens again don’t feel trusted, in part due to unwritten rules -- and sometimes written signs -- that only allow a certain number of them in a business at one time. Just because some young people shoplift doesn’t mean all of them should be branded as troublemakers, teens say. “It’s stereotypical and judgmental because before you go into a store they already have an assumption of how you are and it’s not right,” says 16-year-old Markiyah Bullard, from BCLA. Bullard suggests that storeowners use cameras instead of their own critical eyes to capture the offenders. Clerk Bao Tran, at the Fields Corner Store, in Dorchester, says he uses cameras but they can only do so much to protect a shop’s livelihood. “When I feel like there are too many kids in the store and they’re too loud I ask them nicely to leave,” he says. “A lot of kids steal. I would catch them and they would be embarrassed and not come back.” MD. Mainul Islam, a clerk at the Fields Corner Supermarket, says he has had to call police several times a month to report stealing by large groups of youth. “I don’t want troublemakers in my store,” says Islam. “The parents and the community should take care of the children and teach them better, to not steal and make good decisions.”
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As a sophomore at Boston Community Leadership Academy, I have noticed that high school comes with so much responsibility. It’s not always easy waking up early in the morning, having to make it to all your classes on time, writing notes as fast as you can and still being able to understand them, and then staying up late doing homework and studying for upcoming tests. Still, my short time in high school has taught me a lot. You have to be prepared for all this because things will only get harder. I learned that you can’t just give up in the middle. I always thought going into high school was going to be like it was in the movies; everything was just chill and not so complicated. But my perspective has changed. Now I know what I have to do: work hard and never stop trying. There will always be circumstances scheming to bring you down, but that’s another thing I learned from high school. Life won’t give you what you can’t handle.
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She often walks into her local CVS, needing a little pick-me-up after a long night. Heading straight to the refrigerated aisle, Natalie Nuñez is feeling for an energy drink. She leaves the store and takes a swig of the caffeinated beverage. Surely, she will crave the taste and may get another one later in the day. “I usually drink energy drinks because it gives me a zing and keeps me up,” says the 17-year-old from Dorchester. Nuñez is one of many teens who turn to energy drinks when looking for a boost. These drinks are now consumed by 30 percent to 50 percent of adolescents and young adults, according to “Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults,” a 2011 article published in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Popular energy drinks like Monster, Rockstar, and Red Bull are known to target young people, but health advocates ask: at what cost? According to critics, side effects of these drinks include high blood pressure, heartrelated problems, and seizures. In the worst cases, a caffeine overload can lead to death. Of 5,448 caffeine overdoses reported in the US in 2007, 46 percent occurred in those younger than 19, according to the 2011 article. “I’m aware of the health risks, but despite that, sometimes I feel like I need it for a boost if I can’t find coffee,” says Nuñez. “The taste is kind of addicting, too.” Energy drinks are available to minors in local beverage cases. Energy-drink companies defend their products as safe, but also note the warning labels. “Monster has a commitment to being responsible and wants to be transparent about the ingredients in their products,” Monster Energy spokeswoman Tammy Taylor told CNN in March. Furthermore, Taylor said, Monster does not recommend children, pregnant women, or those sensitive to caffeine consume its beverages. “That recommendation is on the labels of all Monster products,” she said. Despite the lurking dangers of energy drinks, teens are still drawn to them. For Justin Cruthird, a 17-year-old at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, the appeal does not lie in any extra oomph. “They don’t usually make me feel like I’m getting energy,” says Cruthird. “It’s really more for taste, and they’re easily accessible when I want them.”
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