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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AFH Photo // Toni Jonas-Silver
In the presidential race, says Rayven Frierson, a junior at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, forget the face. 

“I don’t care if a political candidate looks like Channing Tatum or Jessica Alba,” says Frierson. “As long as they have the intent to benefit our country with the people in mind, I have no consideration towards their appearance.” 

Yet as far back as 2008, one study shows, appearance can count in political contests. 

“Campaign managers seem to be ahead of the game in understanding that image really matters,” one of the researchers, Joan Chiao, assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University, was quoted as saying. “They know that, contrary to popular notions, people are not necessarily using deliberate and rational strategies in deciding who to vote for, especially when it comes to women,” 

Not so for Al Fox, a junior at the O’Bryant, who believes that competence is the key. 

“That’s like asking ‘Would you want a trained professional who is mediocre-looking in comparison to a model?’ to work on your teeth,” Fox says. 

Even as some teens do consider a candidate’s exterior, many say that it’s what’s inside that’s most important. 

“Sure, looks matter to an extent,” says McCain Boonma, a junior at the  O’Bryant, “but it is the true intents that will carry the...nation’s burdens.”
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Muslim teen Edil Mohamed says she was outraged to learn this summer about the fatal strangling of Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch at the hands of her brother, who was taunted by friends about her provocative poses and postings, according to news reports. 
“We have been fighting for women’s rights for more than 100 years,” says Mohamed, a junior at Boston Latin School. “It’s crazy that in 2016, women still don’t have equal rights.” 
Over 500 people die in largely Muslim Pakistan annually in these so-called “honor-killings,” according to, and are mostly perpetrated by relatives who are embarrassed by behavior they consider shameful. 
Activists denounce these acts as pure murder. 
“They feel they could be happy because they regain their honor,” says Djibril Conte, 15, from Mattapan. “At the same time, that’s not OK.” 
Indeed, Baloch’s brother told reporters after his arrest that he had no regrets about the slaying. 
“I think that’s really sad,” says Feven Yohannes, a junior at Boston Latin School, “Her life was wrongfully taken from her.” 
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