AFH Photo // Gabriela Cartagena
For 16-year-old Ambria Coakley, from Boston Latin Academy, dancing has always been a significant element of her life.

“I get to express myself without having to speak,” says Coakley. “It’s like my second language.”

Like other teens, Coakley laments that while the role of academic success is given great urgency in school, there are fewer avenues for young people to display their artistic skills there.

“It’s extremely limited, and is sad,” Coakley says.

Mykala Robateau-Goods, 16, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, says her school has some opportunities available, yet many seek to go outside the building to exhibit their talents.

“They are able to show off their work,” she says.

Jacarrea Garraway, 18, from Dorchester, was involved in playwriting at Boston Latin Academy before she graduated.

She says public school kids aren’t given enough boosting of their artistic prowess in school, and often have to explore their own undertakings.

“There wasn’t exactly a big push on having  student-written plays performed,” says  Garraway, adding that she is scheduled to  attend college in New York to study film and  television.
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AFH Photo // Haidan Hodgson
Not all goals for the school year revolve around just classwork.

For example, 17-year-old Simpson Lugay, of Dorchester, wants to get his driver’s license.

He says his experiences riding public transit haven’t been so good.

“The kind of people that are on the bus late at night are creepy and I don’t want to be  around them,” he says.

Meanwhile, 13-year-old Claudia Miranda, of Dorchester, hopes to win an achievement  award at her afterschool program.
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AFH Photo // Janna Mach
Sixteen-year-old Randy Mejia set his goals for the summer: work on his basketball and acting skills. 

“So I can make it on the varsity team and also try to...join the drama club,” says Mejia, from Mattapan. 

Although the bell doesn’t officially ring in the school year until later, many teens know they had to get a head start during summertime. 

Kimahri Testamark, 14, made plans to watch the presidential back-and-forths and take note. 

“So I can join the debate club,” says Testamark, who lives in Brighton. 

Fifteen-year-old Kenny Adelu said he wanted to mix athletics and academics. 

“I’m going to run every day so I can increase my distance...and join the track team,” says  Adelu, from Mattapan, “and also read four chapter books.”
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AFH Photo // Kiara Maher
Adriana Salas, 17, says she gives homeless people money all the time because they need it.

“I don’t know how people can walk by someone that is unfortunate knowing they’re down but they’re not willing to help,” says Salas, who attends Margarita Muñiz Academy.

As they go to and from school, many teens don’t even notice the homeless men and women they
cross paths with -- unless they’re in the way. Others will dip into their pockets, but only if the cash goes where they want.

Seventeen-year-old Josiah Wade, from Margarita Muñiz, says he gives homeless people money
depending on how he feels.  

But he believes they should spend it on food, not liquor or drugs.

Marcelina Velez, 17, says she often gives what she can to homeless people and doesn’t care what they
use it on -- as long as they are happy.

“I can’t walk by a homeless person without giving  them money,” says Velez, from Margarita Muñiz. “I
feel like that’s wrong. I feel really bad. I just like to  help them out.”
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AFH Photo // Mary Nguyen
In the run-up to the presidential election, we face a multitude of issues that are still being put aside and ignored. Budget cuts, wars, immigration, mass shootings, protests, LGBTQ rights, Black Lives Matter, and police brutality to name just some.

When my father came to the US after the Vietnam War, he pictured a world where my family could finally take advantage of the freedom that America promised, and live in peace. Yet to this day, my future is facing many risks to my well-being. It is facing the slurs of discrimination, not for who I am but for what I am -- a young, yellow, Asian female.

But will my future end up the same as it seems now?

If Donald Trump is elected, will I be deported because of my skin? Will I have to carry around a gun and fear for my safety? What about Hillary Clinton? Will our future be chaotic because she can’t make up her damn mind? Will we be in another war because she wants to please the public?

It’s sad to know that all these years after the civil rights movement began, our country is rapidly changing technologically -- but not socially. Our generation has the advantage of spreading our opinions on social media platforms, yet we use them to slam each other for how we look rather than educating one another.

It’s sad to see that there are still people who judge and bully others for their appearance and for what they have down there.

It’s sad to see that families are being torn apart because they’re “illegal,” when all they’re trying to do is provide a better life for their children.

It’s sad to know that in this year’s presidential election, we are stumped by the potential of having either a racist president or a very confusing one.

But what is even more sad to know is that both Clinton and Trump never had to walk in our shoes. They’ve lived a privileged life, understanding that no matter what happens, they are safe from it.

If only I could vote, it would be for someone who can relate to the situations that we must deal with. Someone who is willing to solve our society’s problems rather than putting up a wall to block them. Someone who is willing to tell the truth rather than utter political falsehoods.

That someone is Bernie Sanders, who, alas, is no longer a candidate. Bernie grew up in a lower-middle-class family, in Brooklyn, that lived paycheck-to- paycheck. He’s been a civil rights activist. He understands the problems of the many Americans still drowning in debt, from low-wage workers
to college students.

Which is why I still yearn for the Bern.
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