Justin Young feels that slithery reptiles don’t get enough credit for being awesome. “My favorite animal is a snake because it’s cool,” says Young, 12, from the Jackson/Mann School. The bond between humans and animals is strong. People have differing opinions about their favorite animals. Some feel that they share a connection with aquatic wildlife while others can’t get enough of furry and fluffy pets. Chi Art, 18, from Roxbury, owns a bearded dragon reptile and a cat as pets but thinks that turtles are the best animals to have. Diego Reina, 13, of East Boston, loves the great white shark. “It’s one of the most vicious animals of the sea,” Reina says. Most people are afraid of great white sharks because they can take away your life in one bite. But, great white admirers say, people fail to recognize its beauty and importance to the ocean’s ecosystem. Even though Reina wouldn’t have a great white shark as a pet, he does think that his favorite animal has special qualities. “It is very dangerous,” he says, “and is known all around the world.”
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Seventeen-year-old Sheelan Balata says that her more timid personality disrupts her from getting closer to others. She finds herself unapproachable and wants to remove this to be more confident later in life. “The shy awkward part of me makes me not talk to people and I’m like really scared to get embarrassed,” says Balata, who goes to Boston Community Leadership Academy. Addition by subtraction is an equation that can benefit teens, whether it’s students who remove distracting friends to raise their GPAs or those who reduce their use of social media to be able to get through each night’s homework. “I’ve subtracted school a little to rap,” says 16-year- old Eric Frias, who goes to Madison Park High School. Frias hopes to move to New York and get recognized for his rapping talents. Sallan Mohamed, a junior at East Boston High School, wants to pursue a career in basketball and plans to delete any diversions that get in his way. So far, he says he’s cut out characteristics like procrastination and laziness and replaced them with determination and stability.
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Injustice against young women is always put in the spotlight. Bias against young men, however, is an argument that very few find notable. It’s quite hard for some people to see how boys truly are discriminated against in a society that’s generally considered a “man’s world.” Yet while women have a lot to say about inequality, men also have something to complain about. Author Christina Hoff Sommers started her column last year in The New York Times with this: “Boys score as well as or better than girls on most standardized tests, yet they are far less likely to get good grades, take advanced classes or attend college. Why? A study coming out this week in The Journal of Human Resources gives an important answer. Teachers of classes as early as kindergarten factor good behavior into grades -- and girls, as a rule, comport themselves far better than boys.” The claim that boys suffer from inequities can be challenged by the belief that girls struggle even more than do boys. Still, boys do face bias. Stephen Spencer, 14, from Boston Latin Academy, says that during the summer he met a young boy who wanted his nails painted, which then led to other youngsters thinking that this was abnormally girly. “I said it doesn’t matter,” he said. “If he wants to get his nails painted, then go ahead. It’s his own life.” When asked if she would negatively judge a boy for wearing a dress, Kaman Hau, 14, from BLA, answered: “No. Everyone has the freedom to wear anything they want.” Kiana Nguyen, 13, from Boston Latin School, says there are one too many self-defense classes made for girls and girls only. She believes that everyone is capable of earning the help they need. “There should be gender-neutral programs for both girls and boys,” she said. “Pepper spray is pepper spray, and we all have fingers. I think we can all squeeze the bottle.”
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No rules! Sounds sweet doesn’t it? If you were able to move out of your house before you were 18, would you? Pretend for a second that you have the money to do it. “No, I get too many things for free,” says Lisha Omoroghomwan, a freshman at Boston Latin School. There are teens who like not having responsibilities and would much rather just live with their parents -- possibly forever. Then there are those who can’t wait to get out. Students like Nathaniel Sarjeant, 14, from West Roxbury Academy, think that they are ready to live in their own space. “I would be out!” says Sarjeant. He knows it wouldn’t be easy. “You will realize how responsible you have to be,” he says. Still, living at home is nice, Sarjeant says, but in his mind it is good to be let loose. “I want to see what it’s like,” he says. Daijah Rodrigues, 17, from Dorchester Academy, says she has no reason to want to move out. “Everything is perfect,” she says. Plus, she doesn’t like the idea of living on her own. “That’s scary,” says Rodrigues.
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Although it’s not usually portrayed that way, 16-year-old Kadidiatou Bah, from Dorchester, thinks swag and class -- two current states of style -- have more similarities than the average teen might think.

After all, it may not be so much about what you wear as how you wear it. For example, where you would tuck your shirt in for class, you take it out for swag. Dressing classy or with swag depends on your personality. Michael Miller, 18, of Roxbury, considers himself more of a dressy dresser. “When you think of swag you think of informal clothing,” he says, “but class is more formal wear.” Miller adds: “I can honestly say I only have, like, two pairs of sneakers in my closet.” Josiah Huggins, 19, of Dorchester, is more about swag. “I’ve only dressed classy three times in my entire life,” he says. “My swag consists of some fresh J’s, a nice shirt, some dip jeans, and a snapback to match.” He adds, “Oh yeah, don’t forget my Gucci belt.”
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