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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The Sporting Life
Crickets. That's the sound many BPS athletes hear instead of adoring applause
Barren bleachers and solemn stadiums are the backdrops to many Boston Public Schools athletic events. “If you walk onto a field and no one’s there, it feels a little discouraging,” said Isabel DeLaura, 17, a captain of Boston Latin School’s girls’ soccer team. Several BPS staffers confirm that fan presence can be scarce at high school games, with one saying that some teams entice fewer than 10 spectators a contest. Unlike its suburban counterparts, Boston is made up of an array of neighborhood high schools rather than one big draw. As a result, time and location become critical to attracting fans. With many schools having off-campus fields, fans are forced to travel a distance to see their teams play while athletes lose that allimportant home field advantage. When location isn’t driving fans away, time is also a problem because BPS teams often play in the afternoon before parents can leave work. “It’s disappointing when no one shows because you put a lot of work in,” said BLS lacrosse player Connor O’Shea, 15. Despite the hardships, some BPS staffers say that their games are well attended by prideful students and parents. Still, some athletes say they try to use the absence of vocal boosters as a great motivator. “It makes me want to do better because if we improve,” said Stephen Rezendes, 15, a BLS football player and wrestler, “more people will come and it will be a better experience overall.” Chenevert plays soccer at Boston Latin School.
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Sixteen-year-old Judy Zhao watched the movie “The Hunger Games” and is excited about the sequel, “Catching Fire,” due out in November. “I think that the second part…is going to be better, since I already read the book,” says Zhao, who attends the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science. Zhao expects lots of action, including the main character, Katniss, entering the Hunger Games again. Cyrus Kohistani, 17, from the O’Bryant, thinks that the second part is not going to be as good as the first since the same ideas are going to be developed. “I watched ‘The Hangover’ 1 and 2,” says Kohistani, “but the second one was not as good as the first one.” As described in previews, the second installment’s plot revolves around Katniss leaving friends and family to launch a Victory Tour. Kripa Thapa, 16, from West Roxbury Academy, believes the November film will live up to its hype.
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Ever since there was such a thing as music, it has always contained one or both components. That’s right -- a beat and lyrics to go along with it. Have you ever stopped to consider which of the two is more important? “Lyrics are more important because they affect me on an emotional level,” says 17-yearold Massa Dukuly-Bah, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science. “If you took out the beat I would still listen because the lyrics make the song poetic.” It is true that minus lyrics it would be very difficult to comprehend what the artist had in mind, says Boston Latin Academy sophomore Janaya Hewitt. “Without lyrics,” Hewitt says, “there is no song.” Beats have a strong advocate behind them in Alex Lei, a junior from the O’Bryant. “So many songs would not be as popular as they are if they did not have a nice beat,” says Lei. “I mean, that’s what makes me want to listen to a song multiple times.” Although they take different stances in the words vs. rhythm debate, these teens agree on one thing: “You can’t have one without the other,” says Hewitt. “The beat has to suit the lyrics and vice versa,” says Dukuly-Bah. “They complement each other.” Dubstep and techno aside, not much of modern music separate beats and lyrics and most artists try not to treat them as separate parts but compound them to make a whole they call…music.
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