Julia Malita, 16, from Boston Latin Academy, lost her great grandmother a few years back. This death was prepared for; the great grandmother was 107 years old. Knowing that she’d die, the great grandmother asked her family to wear colorful clothes to her funeral. Of course, no one did. This was Malita’s first funeral and recalling seeing her great grandmother in the casket, she says, “I remember she looked like an angel. I know that sounds corny.” Now that the time has passed, Malita has moved on. She takes comfort in knowing that her great grandmother is in heaven and is still alive in memory. Grief: Intense sorrow caused by loss of a loved one. It’s the stress that comes with death that gets to teens. There are many ways of dealing with loss, and one of the best ways is to just release it, specialists say. It’s never good to keep things trapped inside, they say. Sometimes, just crying is the best way to get over death, teens say. Pamela De Jesus, 14, from Boston Community Leadership Academy, hasn’t lost anyone close to her. She believes that when you die, you just die. “Death isn’t good because you could lose someone loved or have feelings for,” she says. “I thank God that hasn’t happened to me personally.” Jeff Hines, 18, from Dorchester, lost his cousin to cancer last summer and isn’t over the death yet. He continues to think about him. “It’s been really hard but getting better,” says Hines. “I loved him.”
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Cesilia Bwahama, 15, says she has never been insecure about her dark skin. She believes many teenagers prefer lighter skin because of pressure from society and from peers. “Features are what make people attractive, not shade or color,” says Bwahama, from Brighton High School. The idea that light skin is superior to dark skin has been around for years, and, for example, was used to divide people of color during slavery. Today, many teens of color are insecure about their skin, some even refusing to date people with darker tones. Emyliana Rivera, 16 , says she’s always been comfortable with her light skin. Although she believes every shade is equal, she has her own theories on why people would think differently. She thinks people are too influenced by images promoted by the media. “The media almost never includes dark-skinned people and very uncommonly advertises them as beautiful figures,” says Rivera, from McKinley Preparatory High School. Anna Ngyuen, 14, feels teens also learn from their parents to favor the lighter-skinned. “You are born loving every kind,” says Nguyen, from English High School, “and die loving a few.”
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Audreyana Washington, 15, of the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, says she spends about eight hours a day on her smartphone, checking social media websites and reading. “My phone is interesting and it keeps me connected to the world,” says Washington. In 2009, teens spent an average of two hours and 15 minutes on their cellphones, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study. But some of today’s teens more than double that. It can depend on whether they have Internet, cable, or a smartphone. Fifteen-year-old Jasmine Cruz, from West Roxbury Academy, says she’s on her phone some 10 hours a day, browsing social networks and playing the game Candy Crush. “I use my phone a lot,” says Cruz, “because it’s easier and faster than the computer.” Nautica Mosby, from the Harbor School, says she uses her smartphone about four hours a day. Mosby, 16, says she does not have a television in her bedroom, nor the Internet at her house. She uses her phone to play games, watch videos, read, and go on Instagram. Mosby says she limits the time on her phone. “It’s boring and I get tired of it,” she says. She prefers, she says, to draw and write.
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On a field trip to Six Flags, Xena Joseph, 16, from Community Academy of Science and Health, sat at the back of the bus to play a game of “Truth or Dare.” Many teens have played them: “Truth or Dare,” “Would You Rather,” and “21 Questions.” These games were originally used by many as icebreakers to get to know others better. But now, there is an added twist -- teens use them to discover just how far they will push themselves, says 18-year-old Akeem Barrows, from CASH. Daniel Ortega, a sophomore from CASH, says he gets involved with these games a lot with friends. “I just play to pass the time,” he says. “But sometimes it can get out of hand.” Like the last time he played “Truth or Dare.” “I ended up eating ice cream mixed with hot sauce, chicken broth, mayonnaise, and tuna fish,” Ortega says. “Let’s just say it ended bad.”
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Edward Velazquez, 16, says he’s been judged for his beliefs. “People have told me: ‘I don’t know how you can pray and believe in an invisible God,’” says Velazquez, who attends Brighton High School. Often, people make decisions about others and create wrong opinions about teens without even knowing them. Teens say that just because some don’t like the way a person dresses or acts or what they believe in doesn’t mean they should be treated rudely. Seventeen-year-old Mu Xian Chen, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, says she’s been called short and skinny. ‘‘You should think before you act,” she says. Amal Egal, 16, thinks that judging people without knowing them is unfair. “Everyone deserves a chance, because as cliché as it sounds, we are all the same,” says Egal, who attends the O’Bryant. “I don’t think we can stop society’s judgments. However, if everyone individually reflects on themselves, we might be able to change.”
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