Miesha Lopes Tavares, 14, from the Dever-McCormack School, is direct when telling a friend she needs space. That happens, she says, when a person is being fake or she is tired of arguing or she has too much going on inside her head. “I have trust issues,” she says. Asking others for space is something some teens have trouble doing, believing it could shatter a friendship. Marlene Jondoh, 16, from Charlestown High School, says she would be delicate -- telling a friend that she loves to hang out but sometimes needs to be alone. At those times, Jondoh says, she would go to her room to listen to music or read a book. Kripa Thapa, 16, from West Roxbury Academy, says that if she wanted some breathing room she would let people know something was up. “I would tell them to leave me alone or I would just stop talking to them,” Thapa says. Then she would go into a dark room and put on some music.
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Which comes first for teens: family, friends, or faith? For 17-year-old Darlene Matos, of Dorchester, the answer is faith. “I believe in God not only for what He has done in my life but for who He is,” says Matos. Teens can show their love to family, to friends, or to faith by watching each others’ backs, and/or having love in their hearts. Stevie Torres, 17, from Boston Community Leadership Academy, says that family takes priority because they provide support. “They can give you advice,” says Torres, “and they can talk to you about your problems and they can help you to solve them.” Jose Lainez, 19, from East Boston, says that faith is primo. “God has helped me to have more strength,” says Lainez. “He will always be there for me and He will love me no matter how I am. Family can’t be there for you all the time because they have things to do.” In the best of times, love between each other will be constant no matter if teens choose family, friends, or faith.
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One second I’m the center of my parents’ attention, and the next I’m stuck sharing my favorite cereal with my new brother. At least that’s how I imagine it went when I was three years old and my first (and only, I expected) brother was born. I am now 17 with two younger brothers, ages 14 and six. Not only do I bear the responsibility of being a good role model, I also have to offer unlimited babysitting at any given time regardless of any plans I’ve made. Still, as hard to believe as it may be, little brothers do have beneficial assets. Recently, I found a very much unwanted eight-legged guest on the ceiling of my room. When neither of my parents came to help, my brother Kevin saved me from losing my sanity and rid the spider himself. The younger of the two, Yalvin, helped me laugh the whole thing off by causing a scene himself as he apparently also has inherited the spider-phobia gene. I may have to help with homework that I thought I finally had outgrown. But now that I’m entering my senior year of high school and will soon be off to college, I realize I won’t see these two as much. I won’t laugh hysterically with them as often, or be able to make pancakes for two hungry monsters on Sunday mornings, either. I also understand that the most bothersome two little people I know are the ones that I may miss the most.
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Dear freshman,   The transition from middle school to high school isn’t always easy. You have to deal with academics, home situations, and relationships -- and somehow balance all this and get through high school with passing grades. Here’s some advice: Put your academics before everything else. In high school there will be drama but don’t let it get to you. Your grades are more important than everything going on around you. You don’t want to let your grades slip away because soon it will be too late and your GPA won’t look so great. This will catch up to you when you apply to colleges in the future. Don’t give into what others are doing. It sounds cliché but it’s true. If the people around you are careless about their academics, you are bound to end up like them. Try your best to be your own person. Finally, don’t procrastinate. In middle school you probably got away with waiting until the last minute because you were able to catch up with your work later. But if you do this in high school the quality of your work will be very poor. Also, teachers will notice; they’re not as easy on you as they were in middle school. You’re on your way to adulthood, anyhow. Just complete your assignments before the last minute so you’ll be free of stress.   Sincerely,   A Concerned Junior
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Good grades and a sign of interest in a school aren’t enough to get into college. Colleges and universities seek well-rounded students who can balance academics with other activities. “[Softball] looked like fun and it would help me get into college,” says Rebecca Santiago, 17, from Excel High School. “I think activities are a big deal to colleges.” For example, locally, The College Board ranks extracurricular activities second on Merrimack College’s list of important non-academic factors in gaining entry. At Bentley University, extracurriculars are number three, The College Board says. Grades and SAT scores are often looked at together. A 4.0 GPA, for example, could make up for poor SAT scores and vice versa. A third part is added to the mix when extracurriculars are involved. Whether it’s sports, community service, a job, or other programs, colleges look at them all. Boston Latin Academy student Christopher Perez, 17, says he takes full advantage of basketball because it’s a great stress reliever and keeps him active. Plus, Perez says, “It looks good on a college application.” Along with basketball, Perez says he has other extracurriculars like National Honor Society, Student Ambassador, and community service. Students often go on to continue these activities in college. For instance, those involved in student government throughout high school commonly go on to be a part of the student government at their new schools, too. Colleges seek students who cannot only flourish academically but also contribute to their school communities in other ways. Valeria Duarte, 16, from Boston Green Academy, has been involved with volleyball since she was little and says she has plans to play in college.
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