March 2017- issue 20

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I S S U E 2 0 | M A RCH 2 017

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Different Motivate. Activate. Celebrate.


Index: Feature..................................................2 Editorial Calendar...............................3 Poems....................................................5 Fiction...................................................8 Historical Fiction.................................9 Nature.................................................13 Food....................................................14 History................................................15 Action Call.........................................16 Food for Thought..............................17 My View.............................................19 Realistic Fiction.................................22 Family.................................................24 Arts......................................................26 Review................................................27 Educators............................................29 Teacher’s Corner................................30 Parent’s Corner..................................31 Volunteer opportunity is available for students and Adults. Contact us Let us know if your school wants to partner with us. Follow us on twitter Like us on Facebook: 248-410-3976 © Copyright Kids Standard Publication Inc, Michigan. All Rights Reserved

Our Sponsor Clarkston Optimist Club Disclaimer: All editorial and advertising material submitted to Kids Standard becomes the property of Kids Standard to be reproduced as seen fit. It will not be returned unless by prior arrangement. Submitted material includes advertising artwork and editorial content (including but not limited to: articles and images, art work and creative writing). All the designs remain the copyright of Kids Standard. Kids Standard welcomes comments and suggestions, as well as information about errors that call for corrections. Kids Standard is committed to presenting information fairly and accurately. Feedback:


Simply Different

hy do people differ? Why do some people seem more intelligent, ethical, or attractive than others? And most importantly, how do we judge differences? Since the beginning of time, human beings have thought, believed, and acted differently from each other. There is a biological reason for these differences, what we call today - genes. On the other hand, people’s backgrounds, experiences, and practices are also important factors in fostering differences. Because we are born into a particular culture, this culture is all we know and, therefore, view as normal. Differences then are judged according to our own concept of what is normal (good) and what is not normal (bad). Thus, anything that differs from our sense of normality is likely to be labeled as wrong. Every age of our human existence was marked by a predominant culture, which proclaimed itself the right one and frequently attempted to impose its own ways on other people. Yet, whether we want to accept this or not, humankind is comprised of various individuals, who have their own vision of life and a particular way of solving its problems. This means that there is no one view that fits everyone. This is especially important because

Arina Bokas

Kids’ Standard Editor & Author of Building Powerful Learning Environments: From Schools to Communities

in our global society close contact among various people creates a need for peaceful co-existence. To develop deep respect for differences, we have to realize that our vision of life is just one of many. As young people navigate their own ways in the world of differences, how do they see those who are not like them? Our March 2017 issue, Simply Different, offers a multitude of interesting perspectives. Enjoy!


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2016-2017 Editorial Calendar Winter Writing Contest Theme:

How Does Kids' Standard Help Our Community Grow? Submission Deadline:

March 31,2017 Prize: Two Polaroid 10"Android Tablets with Bluetooth Keyboard will be awarded to one winner from each of the two divisions: elementary (grades k-5) and middle school (grades 6-8)

April 2017

Number Talk When we learn to count on our fingers, we “see� our math. Do you see math around you? What helps you see when you learn math? What pictures do you create in your mind? What makes math interesting and relevant to real life? How can we learn from numbers? If there were no math or numbers, how would our world look like? Share with us stories about numbers.

May 2017

Stories that Matter As human beings, we are wired to like stories. Since the beginning of times, stories have been the way for human beings to pass their knowledge to next generations. Is there a person or place that adds special meaning to your life or lives of other people? Why does this person or place matter? What is your own MARCH 2017

story? What can we learn from telling and listening to stories? How can stories be used in schools? You can tell any story, just make sure to explain why it is important.

Summer 2017

Family Magic Our families are important to us. Tell us about relationships in your family, connections between kids and parents, and meaningful experiences that you had with your family. What makes spending time with your family important to you? What do you learn from your family members? How do you learn together as a family?

Participation: 1. The contest is open to all writers from Kindergarten through 8th grade. 2. Entries should be focused on interpreting the theme "How Does Kids' Standard Help our Community Grow?" 3. Writers are encouraged to research Kids' Standard's mission, vision, and activities; discuss multiple points and support them with relevant examples and explanations. 4. Each entry should be approximately 500 words and contain a title and the writer's name, school, and grade level directly under the title (entries longer than 800 words or without required information will be disqualified). 5. Entries should be submitted electronically to Kids' Standard's editor, Arina Bokas (, in the Microsoft Word format (double spaced, 12"Arial or New Roman font). Winners will be announced in April and awarded their prizes during Kids' Standard End-of-the-Year Celebration in May.


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POEMS Differences By: Libby Haar, 7th grade, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston

I’m different from you, You’re different from me, Yet is that the best way for it to be?

A Flower By: Anna Laube,

Why are some of us blonde? And others brown? Why am I so shy? Yet you’re the class clown?

7th grade, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston

Why can’t I sing or draw like you do?

I am a flower

If we were all the same what would it do?

I am strong I am beautiful By myself I am unique with my own colors By myself I am you are We are I am pretty by myself but if you put me with other flowers I can shine I can shimmer We are all flowers We are all strong we are all beautiful I am flower living with other flowers like me.

Would it stop all the bullying, arguments, and fights? Would it bring trouble? Or change nothing at all Would we all die at the exact same time? Would we be the same age With the same birthday too? Would we have the same interests, talents, and views? Then what if the plants and animals too Wanted to be the same as me and you? We’d run out of food, then what would you do? Would you rather starve or eat someone just like you? I’m different from you, You’re different from me, And that is the way that it should be. Some of us blonde, And others brown. I’m so shy, And you’re the class clown. I still can’t sing or draw like you do, But there is something Special that I can do.


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They Will Know

By: Landon Butcher,

By: Caleb Stalworth,

7th grade, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston

7th grade, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston

Empty sits the parking lot, not one lonely soul.

“Do you see, do you see?”

Empty lies the sky, not one single cloud.

Kids are asking their parents.

Empty waits the school bus, lonely and forlorn.

“What color is he?” I stick out from everybody.

Barren dozes the mountain, looming on high. Empty rests the flower pot, sitting on the desk. Empty slumbers the field, covered in disconcerting gloom.

You say I’m the same, but I’m not;

Empty lives the wrongdoer, void of all compassion.

I have a different story.

Friendless endures the woodpecker, drilling slowly in.

From chains to inmates,

Empty sits the house, its heart and soul missing.

from not knowing to years,

Empty fills the poor man’s deams, having no hope.

it’s not better.

Empty sleeps the frozen wasteland, not even the wind stirs.

All we know is blood, sweat, and tears.

Quiet sits the forest, shrouded in fog. Empty rolls the vast plains, bereft of life.

Very few people around me are like me,

Empty perches the statue, devoid of life and emotion.

But one day we are going to be something because we are different than everybody.

Empty sleeps the dead man’s eyes, never to see again.


All the problems you see will be solved, and then they will know what color we are.

We are Different Stories By: Andrea Luther, 7th grade, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston

By: William Ottman, 7th grade, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston

I am different You are different

Stories are a part of us,

We’re all different

can’t you see?

Differences make an individual

Some big, some small, some in between.

Differences make you glad

They take us to places we’d like to be,

They make you, you

and let us in moments we can’t believe.

They don’t make you bad

Everyone is different,

Differences keep life interesting

we aren’t all the same,

Without them life would be boring

we have different perspectives,

No one being different anymore

we’ve played different games.

Different is you

Stories can bring us together,

How you act

and they can tear us apart,

How you learn

all while still coming straight from the heart.

How you live

They are a way to share,

Different makes you special

that helps you prepare,

Differences make your life

for everything life is elsewhere.

Differences make you, you You are special

MARCH 2017


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BLUE OWL By: Kylie Schaffert, 2nd grade, Springfield Plains Elementary,



nce there was a bunch of brown owls, but one of them was blue and purple! The owl’s name was Mimi. Mimi slept on the ground because she could not fly to the trees. She usually would fall of the branches when she tried to fly. All of the other owls laughed at her when she tried to fly. One night, Mimi had a great idea. She would go far-far away to a place only she would knew about! She packed some of her favorite berries and nuts. ¨Yum,¨ she thought. ¨But I have to save it for later; I have to save it for the long journey ahead.¨ She made sure the other owls did not notice she was leaving. Mimi was walking for hours, when finally a train came by. Mimi climbed up a huge ladder to get to the top of the train. After a while, she decided to jump of the train, and a beautiful forest was right in front of her. She headed into the forest.

Lusious Clark By: Olivia Spitznas, 3rd grade, Springfield Plains Elementary, Clarkston


remember when my teacher read an exciting story and got fired. Because ten years ago, the world was ruled by an evil boring old man, named Bearden. Everyone had to be the same. Fun and excitement were forbidden. Until one day my friends and I banished him into a world he would hate - a happy fun world! That’s how it happened. My school, Kowalski High, is


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When she got farther into the forest, she saw a peacock that had a purple body and a pink and green tail. ¨Hello,¨ he said. ¨What is your name?¨ ¨Mimi,¨ she answered politely. ¨Well, I´m Pete the Peacock. Welcome to the Land of Different.¨ ¨Oh,¨ Mimi said ¨I thought this was a

Polish.We have the best staff. In fact Mrs. Liztuff was the teacher who got fired 10 years ago! One day when my friends and I were whispering up against the lockers, a new foreign exchange student, Lusious Clark, came strutting into the hallway. We didn’t know who he was. He was a cat (I think); he had an afro and wings and a tail like a lemur; he didn’t seem to know what anything was. Instead, he threw stuff around and acted like he didn’t know what the teacher was talking about when she said that he might not be pronouncing his first and last name correctly. ”He’s he human? What’s wrong with him?” kids taunted. “Hey, don’t make fun of him!!!” I yelled. “ Whatever,’’ they yelled back. ”Not everyone has to be the same,”

forest.¨ ¨It basically is, but I like to call it that,¨ Pete offered. Mimi felt very lonely all of a sudden. ¨Would you like to come to my home to play?” she asked. Pete looked at Mimi and understood everything. He made sure to take her home.

I insisted. I walked up to this new student and whispered, “What’s your name?’’ “MY nAMe EEz Lusious CLArK,’’ he said in a two-toned voice. There were a few people that stayed by their lockers after I yelled at them, and they were whispering probably about Lusious! ”Are we gonna be friends with... whatserface, Alex?” asked my friend Ethan. “Yeah,’’I said. “How bad could it be?’’ 3rd hour was bad!! Lusious was throwing books, ripping out pages, and pouring the class pet, Murphy( a fish) out the window. Mrs.Liztuff yelled to me, “Ms.Vilski, manage Lusious! NOW!”

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ARE YOU A JEW? By: Melanie Horvath,

5th grade, Pine Knob Elementary, Clarkston


azi soldiers line the wide uneven streets of Copenhagen. My small Star of David doesn’t show under my cupped hand. “This is the only way home,” I remind my 13year-old self. My thick black curly hair

is forced into a loosely drawn braid. My brown eyes are tinged with fear. Tall black boots click on the cobblestone pavement. Taunts echo through my head. The teenage Nazi kicks me in the dirt of the alley way. The sun now hardly shows between the narrow buildings. I gaze around. Trash of old newspapers is the only thing to see in the half empty trash bins. I look up and see the shiny metallic gun pointed right at me. Tears are swelling my eyes. My heart lurches as the soldier sneers loudly, “Are you a jew?” The question pounds in my head. The first words I can think of spring out cautiously. “I’m different,” I agree, nodding my head slowly. The gun clicks as he growls, “Jew or not? Answer now!” I gulp and try to see the sun up above in the old building. “ Isn’t everyone different in some

way?” I say, tears springing out like a wound up wind-up toy. Before he can say another thing, I blurt, “Like the way you have a scar underneath your bottom lip!” Immediately, his hand shoots up to the tiny scar that is marking his difference. He looks angered. Trying to be as calm as I can, I add, “It’s fine. Different is normal. So what if you have a scar? That’s normal! So what if I am a jew? That’s normal!” I finish by opening my hand and revealing my star. There is an ackward moment, filled with silence. I can tell he feels uncomfortable, but there is something else deep inside. I see the boy’s eyes started watering, as he is fighting this unknown to me internal battle. Then he looks straight at me. I freeze preparing for the worst. “Different is normal,” he finally says before turning around and walking away.


Good Lesson By: Aashka Bansal, 5th grade, Deerfield Elementary,


Rochester Hills

nce there was an 11 year old girl named Swati. She had a severe face deformity, but she thought of herself as normal. Coming back to Michigan from her trip to India, she had to wait for her connecting flight in Paris, France, where she had an 11-hour layover. She slept, read, and watch TV in the airport until she finally got in line for her plane to the United States. In line, there was a person who kept staring at Swati. First, it made her feel uncomfortable. Swati had no clue why this person had been staring at her,

MARCH 2017

but then she was getting upset. Over her shoulder, Swati was looking at the person’s expressions and saw that he was whispering to a girl behind him, and then they both started laughing. Swati felt hurt and lost. There was a woman behind the girl. She turned to the laughing couple and said in a quiet whisper, “You shouldn’t be making fun and laughing at the little girl. There is nothing to notice.” The two other people felt ashamed. They turned to Swati and said that they were sorry. They learned from the woman that acting rude or mean to a person who is different is not right. Everyone should be treated equally. 9

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Mix-Matched By: Nicole Schroeder, 5th grade, Deerfield Elementary, Rochester Hills


ver since I came to Seattle, Washington, about four weeks ago, I’ve been dreading the beginning of school like I had received a prophesy of a plague. “Oh, Beatrice,” said Papa one brisk afternoon, while we were enjoying our lunch at Carrie’s Diner. “Think positive. I’ll bet ya’ a dollar that tomorrow you will have a WONDERFUL day at school. And if you don’t, I’ll make you a very special dinner.” I really did want to think positive, but sometimes even the best burger from Carrie’s Diner doesn’t lift your spirits. I sighed and leaned against the window pane and watched the happy people on the drizzly day walk by. I listened to the bustling and banging of the cooks, chairs, and plates, and the chattering of the people outside the window. I closed my eyes and thought: I hope, I hope, I hope that tomorrow will be a good day. * * * Papa always makes my favorite breakfast on the first day of school: blueberry, strawberry, chocolate, pineapple, caramel pancakes with some whipped cream on top. I barely ever get to eat these pancakes, only on special occasions. The only part I like about this first day of school is that it is considered a special occasion, so I get to eat my pancake supreme! The deliciousness of pancakes can only last so long before I get pulled into the bustling and chattering of my new school - Seattle Elementary. I squeezed my eyes shut as Papa led me into the 5th grade classroom of my new school. He kissed me on the forehead and whispered, “You can do it, sunshine!” I could only imagine what a classroom full of students thought of a girl that was puckering and squinting


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her eyes like a Persian cat. “Bye Papa…,” I whispered as he left the classroom, plotting a bold escape (which included a plane ride all the way to Paris). Suddenly, a sweet voice filled my ears. “Welcome to Seattle Elementary. What’s your name?” the teacher asked, beaming like the sun that Seattle never sees. “Beatrice, Beatrice Wentworth,” I mumbled, trying my best to look positive. “That is just an extraordinary name! I’m Mrs. Berry!” She turned to the class. “Why don’t you sit over… there, by the girl in the gray sweater, with the beautiful purple color. Her name is Rebecca.” I was walking over to the seat, stunned as an explorer who just found the first ever blue potato. Maybe Papa was right. Maybe today wouldn’t be so bad. Too soon. A big crumpled up note hit my shoulder and toppled onto the floor. A boy with brown hair and blue eyes was looking at me with a sly look on his face. Unfortunately, I opened the note. Unfortunately, I read it. Unfortunately, it read:

my best to blink my tears away. “Hey,” Rebecca said nudging me slightly. “Can I see the note?” She scooped the note out of my clammy hands and read it. “Don’t pay attention to him,” Rebecca announced crumpling up the note. “ He did the same thing to me when I was new last year.” She rolled up her leggings and showed me her mix-matched socks and smiled at me. I couldn’t help but smile back. The rest of the day went down smoothly, like a nice cup of chocolate milk, with me and Rebecca sticking together. You know, life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns like some people say it is. Everybody is different, and unfortunately, that means there will be some mean kids in town. However, the world isn’t all terrible. I learned that from my new experience at Seattle Elementary. Surprisingly, I couldn’t wait for the next day! And I sure couldn’t wait to receive that dollar!

Your socks are mixmatched, LOSER!!! The boy gave me a tongue out and a big fat finger L on his forehead. Tears swelled up in my eyes. I plopped down by Rebecca and tried

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REALISTIC FICTION By: Avery Lau, 3rd grade, Deerfield Elementary, Rochester Hills


y name is Noah; I am in 4th grade. They say I am different because I get very angry over small things. But I don’t understand; I think I’m fine. Yesterday, I started a new school because I moved to Iowa a week ago. When I arrived to school, I asked a boy named Jeff if he knew where my class was. But he just ignored me. I got angry, yelled, and threw a big fit. Then I felt really embarrassed. “Hey, need any help finding your class?” I heard another boy named Joe. “Yes, thank you,” I said not knowing

what else to add. I got to my class two minutes late! Again, I was embarrassed. Why was I two minutes late? I was quiet the whole time after that. The bell rang, and I ran with my head in my coat. Today I walked to school slowly because I wanted to avoid seeing Jeff. I

True Friend


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was afraid to get mad again. I came to my class early just in case I was late. I noticed Joe was in my class. Can he be my friend? “Hey, math is going to start. Do you want to be my partner?” asked Joe.

“Sure,” I said. I didn’t know what to add. I got stuck on a hard math problem. I was getting mad; I knew what was coming - another big fit. “Noah, don’t be mad, I will help you,” Joe said. Suddenly, I felt like anger left me. I felt happy. At recess, Joe and I wanted to play on the swings. But Jeff was already there. I was about to get upset, but Joe said, “ Hey, let’s just go something different.” I felt okay with it. That afternoon during science, I didn’t get angry; I stopped and asked for help. The teacher came and helped me. When I came home, I told my mom about everything! Despite my differences, I found a friend in Joe who was able to see my true self.


BLOBFISH By: Jane Sorensen, 5th grade, Independence Elementary, Clarkston


n 2013, blobfish were voted the ugliest fish in the world. I think people judged them harshly by their appearance because they know very little about these fish. Blobfish are one of the most unexplored creatures in the ocean. They live in the midnight zone of the Pacific Ocean, located near Australia. Psychrolutes marcidus is the blobfish’ scientific name. Blobfish are pretty harmless creatures, so one could probably hold them like a baby. The blobfish skin feels like jello; it is so rubbery that it feels like slime. The blobfish’ diet is of small crustaceans and other edible small animals that float into their mouths. The blobfish have very little muscle, so hunting prey is nearly impossible for them.

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LUSIOUS CLARK “Well, um...right” I murmured. At lunch, Lusious was eating from other people’s trays, throwing food, and worst of all, eating what we call the mold. In 5th hour, old man Bearden has come for revenge on me and my friends for standing up for Lusious. Luscious was being teased. “STOP!” I yelled. Lusious ran and ran with tears flooding his face! Old man Bearden heard me yell and stuck a sock in my mouth. Lusious could hear me struggling to get the sock out of my mouth and ran out of nowhere. He came and kicked Bearden. He dropped me and ran toward Lusious. I ran behind Bearen and grabbed his wand that made things boring! We won! I walked up to Lusious and said, “Wow, thanks for doing that and saving me!!!” The kids walked out and one by one apologized for teasing him and then thanked him. Lusious smiled at us, “Well, I hope you have learned your lesson: Being different is okay. My work here is done. Bye for now!” He pulled out an umbrella and let the wind take him away! MARCH 2017

The blobfish grows to about a foot long. Some scientists fear that blobfish are coming close to extinction, because the blobfish are very common victims of being eaten off the seafloor. Blobfish are different from almost all other fish in the ocean, but this also makes them very unique. If we put any other living things 4,000 feet below the water, their organs would be crushed. As for the blobfish, it lives!

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Cheesy but Different By: Owen Pliska, 4th grade, Independence Elementary, Clarkston


oth pizza and cheese quesadillas are made with cheese, but they are very different. The first difference between them is that the quesadillas come from Mexico and pizza is from Italy. Cheese quesadillas are made by putting cheese on a tortilla, folding it, and grilling. Pizza is made by using pizza dough, spreading it with tomato sauce, and sprinkling with cheese and toppings or just


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cheese. It goes in the oven to cook. Pizza is more popular than the cheese quesadillas. It is the main food item on Super Bowl Sunday and is favored by many Americans. Pizza Hut alone sells more than 2 million pizzas. Cheese quesadillas are sold at many fast food restaurants, including Taco Bell, Dell Taco, and at Mexican restaurants. It is important that we have different unique foods and cultures. They literarily add spice to our lives. Without all of the varieties of food, our world would be very bland.

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Freedom to Be Different By: Emily Valencia, 5th grade, Bailey Lake Elementary, Clarkston


hen people think of differences, they often think about the difference that meets the eye. But deep inside, we

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are all humans and we are all different. There are different religions, cultures, skin and hair color, how we learn and how we do things. Our differences make us richer. This has not always been like this. A long time ago, we were separated by the color of our skin. African people were brought to America so they can be sold to and owned by the white European settlers. They were called slaves. The slaves did work for their masters, such as farming, laundry, and other house work. They had no rights for anything; even to have a family. When Abraham Lincoln became the President of the United States,

he banned slavery. However, many rich plantation owners in the south didn’t agree with losing their free labor. America was soon at war, the Civil War, between the north and the south. The north has won, and slavery was banned. Slaves were free, but they still weren’t treated equally. Segregation came in 1954, until Martin Luther King Jr. stopped it in 1964. America set aside its racial differences and joined together as a nation. We are different. We are all different. That is good. I am proud to live in such a diverse country with a magnificent history.


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By: Abigail Bartley, 8th grade, Junior High School, Clarkston


was walking around looking for something that I could put in a collage and was aesthetically pleasing. And it hit me: Leaves! Leaves are everywhere! Not just in my community, but all over the world. Everywhere from the trees in Michigan all the way to China, there are millions, and billions, and trillions of leaves, and yet, they seem to be different. Just like leaves, there are many types of people around the world. People differ in their age, race, gender, personality, the way they dress and in what they believe. And yet, many people are treated unjustly because they think or look differently. 3.2 million kids are bullied each year, and usually because of these differences. Bullying doesn’t always happen in person; there’s also cyberbullying, online bullying. There are three parts that people play in bullying: the aggressor, the victim, and the bystander. Most bystanders just watch because they think it’s none of their business or they don’t know what to do. The victim is the one who is getting bullied; most victims don’t know why.

And then, there is the bully. Theres two types of bullies: the pure bully and the self-esteem bully. Pure bullies are at the top of the “food chain pyramid”: cool, confident, and socially accepted. They don’t necessarily struggle in school. Research has shown that pure bullies are missing empathy, which makes them insensitive to sufferings that they inflict on others. Self-esteem bullies are bullies with a lower than average self-esteem. They bully intentionally, and often come from bullied households. If the parents are screaming at or abusing children, in most cases, self-esteem suffers. Kids feel like they are in a cage at home, so they take this out on their acquaintances at school. Many people hope that bullying will stay in the past and that it will all blow away. But bullying can directly affect kids for the rest of their lives. This is true for both the victim and the aggressor. Aggressors are likely to drop out of school, smoke, drink alcohol, get into fights, and get arrested. And approximately 160,000 victims skip school every day because of bullying. Schools need to respond better to bullying; teachers and students need to interfere when they see it happening. This is a call for action that requires each one of us to stand up for what is right: we all have the right to be who we are as individuals.

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EVERYONE’S DIFFERENT By: Nick Smith, 2nd grade, Orion Oaks Elementary, Lake Orion


f every toy were the same, how boring would it be! There are many different toys, and every toy has its own personality and properties. Just like toys, if every human were the same, our lives would get boring. Being different takes courage, however. When I’m at recess and my friend is playing a game I don’t want to play, it’s hard to say that I want to do something different, but it is a good thing to do so. It might inspire other people to be themselves. We need to accept people for who they are. By: Nikoletta Simmons, 3rd grade, Bailey Lake Elementary, Clarkston


believe that no matter how different you are, people can’t judge you for your beliefs or demand that you do something that you can’t do. You are

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in control of yourself and nothing can change that. You are your own person. For example, if you were in school and someone was judging your art, you could say, “I can choose how it looks and I can be me.” If you are nice to people, they will be nice to you back. Being different is okay. By: Jaleyna Alexander, 3 grade, Deerfield Elementary, Rochester Hills


like different things because they are fun to do, like trying new foods. One time I saw different looking people and they were eating different foods. I thought that was interesting, and it also looked like very good food too. One time I went on vacation with my family to Great Wolf Lodge water park. It was kind of fun, but I wanted to go to Kalahari, and I did not like it one little bit. My family did, however, so we stayed there for two nights. I learned that everyone is different in some ways and it is okay.

By: Giavanna Montgomery, 4th grade, Independence Elementary, Clarkston


n oddball is a person that stands out in a big group of people, like he or she is glowing. An autistic child can stand out like a sore thumb, but that is a good thing. Autistic children think differently from the rest of their peers, and we can learn from them. They do have some learning difficulties or a hard time in school, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. Some autistic children know all of the states or all of the dinosaurs! You might think of an oddball as bizarre or uncomfortable to be around, but just because these people are different from you doesn’t mean they are inferior! Being an oddball just means that you’re different from others, and that is okay. Being different is not a bad thing. Maybe one day you will be different from others and an oddball! 17

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Be Unique By: Morgan Marcale, 5th grade, Springfield Plains Elementary, Clarkston


hat does it mean to be unique? If everyone had the same personality and talents, we would not be able to make an impact on the world.That’s one of the reasons why you should be unique. If we don’t embrace our talents, we won’t have any progress in life, and the world won’t have any good changes. We need to

show what talents we have. And if we show our talent, then other people can be inspired by us.. It can also be hard to be unique. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech about how it is okay to be different and unique. He said that to the 250,000 people who came to hear him. Before that speech, he was bullied because he was of a different race. It doesn’t matter what religion you practice either. In the U.S.A we are able to practice any religion we want. But in

Honor Our Differences By: Meredith Brennan, 7th grade, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston


ifference. We see it all around us in this world. I’m different from her, who is different from him. This is different than that, and that is different than this. No one person is the same, nor should we be. We often take these differences for granted but they are important and each and every difference has its purpose. However, some people try to avoid difference in people, things, and habits. When trying almost anything new, there is a process of trying and failing. Each time you fail you think differently, and try something different, hoping for a different result. We know that each good thing comes because someone tried or did something different. So why are we so afraid of difference. MARCH 2017

some countries, you are only allowed to practice the religion of the ruler (some countries have a single ruler). It’s better to be able to choose your religion because you would be able to follow the religion you would want to do and you would be different from people, which would make you unique! We all have different talents, race, and religion, but our differences make us better people and make us feel good about ourselves.

Differences are found everywhere in life, but they’re most commonly judged in people. Most people see someone different and immediately stereotype them. We say they’re “out of step,” but what does that really mean? Your best friend could be completely different than you, but you’re not saying that about them. What makes us judge a person is often in his or her appearance. They wear “weird” clothes or their hair looks “strange”. But the only thing that makes them weird and strange is that they are different than yours. You never know, people could be thinking the same thing about you. Even if they choose and like different things than you, they deserve a chance. Otherwise, you just lost a chance for new ideas and new friendships. Differences allow people to create their own unique ideas. Individually, our ideas allow us to be the best we can be, but together, when unified, they create an unstoppable force, ready for any challenge the world throws at us. So why hide from our differences? Instead we should use our differences and work together. Our differences are a badge of honor that we don’t want to be taken away. 19

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Lessons from China By: Joey Taverna, 7th grade, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston


eing different is very difficult if we allow other people judge us or make fun of us. If we let none of that bother us, we will feel comfortable with being who we are. When I had to move to China for four years, I felt different. Being surrounded by people who didn’t look like me and spoke a different language was hard to deal with, especially during the first few months. I always thought while I was there, “Wow, I am really special compared to these people, because I am different.” Later on, however, I realized that having a different color of skin or facial features didn’t mean I couldn’t do the same things they did; it didn’t mean I was better or worse than they were. It just meant that I needed to embrace the difference and make it feel like there was none. I believe that differences are important, because if everyone is the same, we would do the same things and never discover anything new. We would be unable to learn because we would already know everything in the same way. If we are different, however, we can teach each other and do all sorts of different things. This is what makes us all special; we all have our own way of doing things, and it’s unique to everyone. We all know a person who is different from us. Is he/she a bad person? Most likely not. Different people are not bad; they are just used to living a different life than you. Live your own life, not someone else’s; be YOURSELF!


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Kuchen for Christmas By: Adilane Vernagus, 3rd Grade, Orion Oaks Elementary, Lake Orion


Passions are another part of being different. When somebody really likes something, it can become a passion. My passion is animals and singing, while my friend’s passion is baton-twirling. But even if you don’t do or like these things, it doesn’t mean they are weird. They are just different ,and different is what makes you who you are.

eing different means you stand out over the rest, and it means you are unique. Holiday traditions are a part of being different. When people come from different places, they bring their traditions with them. Some families make gingerbread houses for Christmas, but my family makes kuchen for Christmas. Others might do something different for Christmas or not even celebrate Christmas at all.


A Great World of Differences By: Kiera West, 4th grade, Orion Oaks Elementary, Lake Orion


feel being different is great. A lot of people don’t think about the differences in our world. But they should because differences happen

every day around the clock. All people are unique in their own ways. People are different because of their hair color, personalities, traditions, and a lot more. One reason why being different is great is because otherwise the world would be so uninteresting as if no one has sharpened the pencils. It would get duller and duller. Everyone would also do the exact same things. People would have the same fashion, same age, and the same birthday. They will even look the

same. Everyone would have the same personality. In our world, everyone stands out in his or her own way. When we talk in front of big groups or participate in a talent show, we display how we are different in our own ways. Our talents and personalities make us different, and they allow us to do amazing things that other people cannot. When many people combine their talents, they create a better world. Now, be different!

branch off a single known idea. When people are afraid of change and of new ways of thinking, there is no room for advancing. There is only their own little bubble that feels comfortable. Anything that is a threat to the safety of this "bubble" is automatically shut down and turned away. It is sad to me that people are constantly judged and tossed to the side without getting a chance. Standing out from others should not be seen as a bad a thing; rather quite the opposite. In a sea of brown, old, and crushed leaves, people should strive to be a red leaf shining its vibrancy through

the dark. I think that the more diverse a community is the better it serves everyone in it. Diversity helps people expand their knowledge and extend their thinking. Even though some people might not accept the new ways of thinking, life is going on. There is no need to separate us even more from the rest of the world. There is no need to spread negativity and hate towards other people who strive to live differently. These people aren't afraid to be themselves. These people stand out, even if they are standing alone. These people are the red leaves of life.

The Red Leaf By: Julia Lawler, 8th grade, Junior High School, Clarkston


earing my dad's oversized jacket, I stepped out into the crisp fall air taking in the autumn view. I took a deep breath and made my way down the steps into the vast land of leaves. My eyes were instantly drawn to this vibrant red leaf. All of the other brown and tattered leaves surrounded it, waiting to cover it up. Just like all of the red leaves in the world become taken over and morphed to blend in with the brown ones, people in our society blend together. In today's society, anyone who is considered "different" from the normal standards is often an outcast in need to be “covered up.” I think this is happening because people are afraid to open up to something that is new to them. Those who are “different” often feel that they have to fit in, or to please other people, instead of being happy in your own skin. Growing up in Clarkston, where there is not much diversity, many of us are not exposed to differences. This is not just about our racial makeup; it also about people's mindsets and ways of thinking. There are so many great ideas and practices around the world; yet, not many of them are embraced in our town. Since the majority thinks along the same lines, it is hard for people, including myself, to

MARCH 2017


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Queen of Cultural Differences By: Anita Govindswamy, 5th grade, Deerfield Elementary, Rochester Hills


n a beautiful sunny day, an 11 year old girl named Asha yawned from the 17-hour flight from Bangalore, India to New York City, United States. She sighed. In her head, she knew that her dad had to move for work and business, but her heart was still in India. “This is the place where we will be staying until our house is built,” Asha’s father announced. Asha stared at the creaky condo. She missed her old friends back at home: Aditi, Maya, Mira, and Anu... “Come on, Rajkumari,” said her father. “In an hour, we can go to your new school, so you’ll get an hour of warm family time.” Asha smiled. They had gone through this moving act six times: India, England, France, Wales, Greece, and India again. Now she was in America. ***

When they arrived at school, Asha’s hands trembled. She looked around at all of the different faces. How will I ever fit in? Asha thought. She looked at her tan hands. Her head peeked up, and she saw many skin colors around her. “Hi, Asha, I’m Mrs. Tinner. Welcome to Blaketon Middle School.” Asha was so uncomfortable that she said in Kannada, “Appa illa.” (“Papa, no.”) A couple of kids, who were near Asha, laughed. “Someone is an expert at gibberish! Can you teach me, newbie?” a boy named Todd taunted. A girl named Hope put a hand on his shoulder. “Ease it down,” she said. “Ease what down?” asked Asha curiously. “I’m new to this country, so can you help me out here?” “Oh, you do understand English, 22

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Asha?” asked Hope. “My name is Hope. This is Todd, Andrew, Sara, and Maria.” Asha waved her hand covered in henna to the five kids. “Why is your skin tone so dark? Did it burn or something?” asked Todd. “No, my skin has always been like that. A little different than yours, I guess.” Todd seemed offended, while Hope was relieved. After living in six different countries, you can win arguments like this. *** At lunch, Asha brought some Indian rupees and a US dollar with her to buy some food. When she handed 300 rupees for her food, the lunch lady seemed upset. “ What are you giving me? FAKE DOLLARS?” “No, rupees - another currency,” Asha replied to the lunch lady, handed in a dollar, and walked off. The lunch food tasted awful, so Asha took out some gravy (masala) from the packed lunch she had gotten from home and began eating it. A girl named Chloe made a disgusted look at Asha’s food. She whispered something to another girl and laughed. Kids kept repeating the same message until it got to Hope. Hope stared at the girl who shrugged and pointed at Chloe’s direction. Hope’s cheeks burned. Asha saw that Hope was getting angry. “What’s wrong?” Asha asked. “Chloe said that your food looks like someone threw up in it.” Hope took a deep breath. Asha saw Todd giggle at Chloe’s comment. Hope looked ready to punch Chloe in the face, but Asha was happily giggling with another girl. It looked like she didn’t care about what Chloe had said. Hope fell back in her seat. There was something up with this new girl, but what? ***

On the way to her English Language Arts classroom, Asha strode up to her locker and punched the combination in. She took out her book and then heard a grunt of frustration. Asha looked around and saw, to her surprise, that it was Chloe, struggling with her combination. She approached Chloe from the back and watched for awhile until she picked out the mistake that Chloe was making. “You are turning the spinning part of the combination lock 4 times instead of 3,” Asha offered. Chloe was startled. “Who are you to teach me, tech genius? You don’t even know my combination. If you’re so smart, why don’t you go and figure it out?” Chloe said sarcastically. Asha shrugged. She picked up the lock and held it in her palm. The combination swirled fast in her head. She breathed deeply. On the first try the lock clicked open. Chloe’s face turned red with embarrassment. She muttered her thanks. Mr. Bole, their English Language Arts teacher, looked up from his newspaper and nodded to the class. He was a tall man with a beard and wore a baseball cap. “For the first day of school, we will have a partner assignment,” Mr. Bole announced. Some of the kids groaned, while others smiled. Mr. Bole quickly skimmed down the attendance list. “Hope Wishwell and Asha Gupta can be partners. Sandra Thompson and Chloe Smith can be partners. Todd Thomas and Miles Brown can be partners,” Mr. Bole said still looking at the list. “You will be assigned an element in writing, one element per team. Every team will write an essay on their element and then submit their work. Good luck!” Just before he finished speaking, the bell rang. Asha stood up and quickly walked out of the door.

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My Brother By: Grayson Coe, 4th grade, Independence Elementary, Clarkston


y brother is autistic. He can’t speak - just says several words. It is hard having him around sometimes, but he is nice and funny, and he makes me laugh. Because of my brother, I know how hard it is to have a disability. People can be mean and tease him, which makes me very sad. I want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anybody any more. I will try to create a program that stops such bullying and helps kids like my brother with what they're struggling. I want everybody to be nice to each other and spread love. My brother with all of his differences is completely amazing to me and my family. He is a good person and deserves love. Everybody should love each other.

MY DAD AND ME By: Emma Shorter, 2nd grade, Orion Oaks Elementary, Lake Orion


was born in the United States, in San Diego, while my dad was born in a different country -New Zealand. I sound like an American, but my dad has an accent. He says “zed,” and I say “z” for the letter Z. He eats Vegemite - a thick, very dark brown Australian food spread - on toast for breakfast every day. I don’t like Vegemite, but I do like toast. He has gray hair; I have brown hair. Even though my dad is from a different place, he is very much like me and I am like him. We go fishing together; we go for drives in his Corvette, and we go on the boat together. Every night he tells me stories. In summer and spring, we also go shopping together and we snuggle together. We go for walks together with Bentley, our pet dog. We like a lot of similar things. My dad is different, and I like that. This makes him special. There are no two people who are exactly the same. Everyone is different, and that is okay.


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My Art By: Mathea Marcale, 3rd grade, Springfield Plains Elementary, Clarkston


rt can be created by lots of people around the world. I love art because it’s creative and I have to use my own imagination. I make my own designs and my own art.


I also use art to express my feelings when I am mad, sad, or happy. Many people think that art is just painting or drawing, but there are lots of different kinds of art. A few other kinds of art are printing, clay, sculpture, and paper mache. You can also do art on your clothes. You can tie-die on your shirt and paint and put sparkles on it. My favorite kind of art is clay art. I do not mind getting my hands dirty. What I like about clay art is how I can make different things with it

and sculpt it. In art class, I have been making a melted clock out of clay. We made these clay clocks based on a picture that was painted by Salvador Dali. I think that I want to be an artist when I grow up and I could make lots of art of my own. Art takes time to make. Don’t feel badly if someone says that your art is not good. Your art is your design.You always have to know that no art is perfect, but every art is unique. And how I see the world is different from everyone else.

By: Brecken Bliss,

By: Ethan Miller,

4th grade, Deerfield Elementary Rochester Hills

3rd grade, Columbus, OH

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Oakland County

Students are Going Places

Future Doctor By: Ava Palm, 5th grade, Deerfield Elementary, Rochester Hills


veryone is unique in his or her own special way. Wonder by RJ Palacio is about a boy named Auggie, who has a severe face deformity, and kids make fun of him for being simply unique. In the story, Auggie tries to change himself to appeal to others, but you don’t have to do this; the only person you have to make happy is yourself. Auggie has a very unique feature that he got rid just because it didn’t appeal others. Auggie ‘s smart, funny, and courageous. But his facial abnormality resulted in him having 27 operations. He is always sensitive to how other kids and adults react to him. Auggie was schooled at home, but the real problems for him starts when goes to school and has to fit it. This makes readers feel sad. This book shows that kids aren’t supposed to be made fun of each other just because they are different. Kids or adults aren’t supposed to be made fun of at all! They need to accept how others are or they will be treated the same way. I can relate to this book because I know how this feels to be bullied because of differences. I have been bullied before, but we have to remember that our differences make us who we are. Just like Auggie, who is amazing no matter what people say, each person is amazing. If you feel down on how you look or how you are, don’t worry! You are amazing in every special way. People love the way you are!. Even if you don’t think you’re special you are! MARCH 2017

Future Builder

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When: Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 6 p.m. Where: Tam O’Shanter Country Club Speaker: Joe Hinrichs, Executive Vice President and President Americas, Ford Motor Company By raising money for scholarships, we can help students at the Oakland Schools Technical Campuses attend college or participate in apprenticeships that prepare them for careers. To contribute to Scholarships for Success Gala Dinner, please purchase dinner tickets or become a sponsor of the Oakland Schools Education Foundation Scholarship Dinner. Tickets are $175 and include dinner, dessert, beer and wine, taxes, gratuity and a donation to the event. Contact us at (248) 209-2434 or email to purchase tickets or visit


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Raising and Educating for Valuing Differences

Nurturing Differences Start with Commonalities

There are numerous opportunities on any given day to ask open-ended questions or offer casual observations about what we have in common and what is different about our neighbors and friends and people we encounter through digital media. If we first recognize and point out that we can find commonalities with any person, children learn they can find points of connection with anyone.

Model Expectations

By: Jennifer Miller, M.Ed.

Family and Educational Consultant, Social and Emotional Learning Founder, Confident Parents, Confident Kids, Columbus, OH


y friends are trying to get me to believe what they believe but we don’t,” said my nine-year- old son, visibly upset, the day of the Presidential Inauguration. He came home from school consumed with worry about his friends pushing him to believe what they believed. And indeed, all children, at various points in their development, will face similar challenges related to the differences between them and other children. Whether they tend toward introversion, prefer the arts over sports, or have skin a shade darker than others, most children will have the experience of being unlike others. And the caring adults in their lives can play a significant role in


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seeing them through those experiences so that children have the opportunity to grow in their empathy, open-mindedness, and inclusion of others.

Understanding Differences From their earliest days, babies are engaged in figuring out their separateness from others, especially Mom, with whom they were very much one for nine long months. And as children emerge into toddlers and preschoolers, they work on differentiating same from not the same. Circles fit into the circular hole but not the square hole. This differentiation helps a child understand her own identity and begin to relate to others. Biases form as children’s brains attempt to categorize peers and caregivers. That’s why our critical role as caring adults in their lives is in starting the conversations about differences and commonalities, about kindness and respect, about the benefits of inclusion, early and often.

We, adults, should establish a well role-modeled expectation that showing kindness and respect to everyone is essential. If we do this with anyone with whom we come in contact, then children will learn and follow these social rules. It is also important that we talk about people who challenge us in non-judgemental ways, asking about what we can learn from their differences. This way we model the valuable role of diversity.

Classroom Culture

The book Habits of Goodness; Case Studies in the Social Curriculum[i] by Ruth Charney tells the story of a preschool teacher with a roomful of children who were struggling with being kind to one another. After reflecting on it, she planned to role model the desired respectful behaviors while regularly talking about this topic in their class meetings. She also created and enforced the “You can’t say ‘You can’t play’” rule to ensure that all students were included. In this case, the teacher decided that the needs of the classroom community were more powerful than the needs of the individual. She set a core standard for her classroom that kindness was a requirement in their culture.

Family Culture

In my own family, we actively seek out experiences of differences. We make this a high priority since we know that

EDUCATORS our child does not encounter much cultural diversity in his school or in our neighborhood. Here are some ideas how any family can bring diversity into their life: • Hang posters of children from other countries and talk about the different holidays, traditions and foods of other cultures. • Head to a different part of town once per month to see other faces, eat alternative foods, and generally expand your horizons. • When traveling, make certain to eat in local restaurants versus franchised spots. • While visiting temples or churches that are not your own, ask questions to better understand the beliefs and symbols that are new to you.

Back to Where It Started A month after the Presidential Inauguration, I asked my son Ethan how he felt when he expressed beliefs that were different from his group of friends.

Ethan: “It made me mad and sad when kids told me my beliefs were different because what they were saying felt mean. They couldn’t understand why I had different beliefs. I wish they would not say anything because pointing out

We Only come to know ourselves deeply and fully by experiecing the differences in others. Give your children the richness of learning about people who are different from them. the difference made me feel separated from the the group that I was part of before.” I asked Ethan what he would say if he had a friend in a similar situation. Ethan: “I would say, “You are allowed

to believe what you want to believe no matter which side wins.”

The Bottom Line

If we are always surrounded by similar, then when our children do encounter difference, they will likely fear it. But if they become accustomed to being curious and learning more about other cultures, other ways of being and believing, then they will seek out the joy that can come from diversity. We only come to know ourselves deeply and fully by experiencing the differences in others. Give your children the richness of learning about people who are different from them. Show them how to connect with anyone, and they will be ready to become significant contributors in our global interconnected community. Reference: Charney, R.S. (1997). Habits of goodness. Case studies in the social curriculum. Turners Falls, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children.

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Queen of Cultural Differences “Hey, wait up, Asha,” a voice yelled across the hall. Asha’s head swung around. Hope was calling. Panting and puffing, Hope reached Asha’s locker and leaned against the metal door. “Can I come over to your house or where you live for the essay project?” Hope asked. “I can’t wait to meet your mom and dad and…” “I don’t have a mom,” Asha sighed. “My mother died from Malaria when we were in India. That’s why we moved. We moved back to India from Greece because we wanted to re-live old memories of my mother before we came here. She died when I was 2.” “Oh, I am so sorry.” Hope said sadly. “I am still excited to meet your dad.” MARCH 2017

“That parent I do have,” Asha giggled. “See you tomorrow after school, Asha,” Hope replied. *** Asha’s doorbell rang when she got home from school the next day. She opened the door to see Hope’s bright face. Hope smiled thankfully as Asha quickly showed her around and introduced Hope to her father. Finally, they settled in the family room. “Okay, I have some ideas we can use to write our essays,” Hope prompted. The two of them started talking and brainstorming around, and then they did their nails when they were done. When it was time to leave, Asha said her goodbyes and waved to Hope.

*** Next day at school everyone was talking about how Hope came to Asha’s house. Someone even high-fived Asha. Asha wondered what all this sudden appreciation for her was about. When she got to the math room, her questions were answered. Inside the classroom Todd and Hope were arguing over her! “Why do you have to spend time with that freak?” Todd yelled “There’s no other freak, except you!” Hope yelled back. Just then Chloe Smith strode up to Asha and said, “Can I come over to your place sometime? Just to hang out?” “Sure, we can plan a date to hang out if you want,” Asha replied. “Maybe, things would change here at Blaketon Middle School,” Asha thought happily.


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T E AC H E R ’ S C O R N E R

The Un-Differences of Human Well Being

By: Rod Rock, Ed.D. Superintendent, Clarkston Community Schools


o you ever notice how some words, like listen, tinsel, and silent, are almost exactly the same, yet vastly different? This is also true of us as humans. In fact, there are as many differences between people as there are human beings in the world-- literally billions. It is very easy, and indeed common, to focus on our differences. After all, they are apparent in our languages, accents, appearances, gestures, customs, rituals, rules and laws, levels of comfort and discomfort, and individual achievements. What is less common, and “un-vogue” in 2017, is to notice and understand our similarities — the shared requirements for human well being. In these ways, we


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are “un-different.” What are our “un-different” requirements? 1. Sleep: “Sleep is overlooked, underappreciated, and the number one, fundamental bedrock of good health.” 2. Physical activity: “Daily exercise increases blood flow to the brain. Exercise promotes neuronal growth and survival, reduces inflammation, and supports the formation of long-term memories.” 3. Adequate nourishment: “A healthy brain requires a healthy well-nourished body.” 4. Managing stress and anxiety: “Not all stress is bad, but chronic stress, especially life events that are out of our control, can change the wiring of our brains.” 5. Meaningful connections: “We are born as social animals and have a fundamental need for human warmth and connection.” 6. Intellectual challenges: “Adults who regularly challenge their minds and stay mentally active throughout life have healthier brains and are less likely to develop dementia. Ongoing education and mentally challenging work build cognitive reserves (the capacity to cope better and keep working properly if any brain cells are damaged or die).” 7. Self-fulfilment: “Find your north star, your passion, your bliss, your inner voice, your wisdom, your calling. Whatever you call it. Research has found that people who score high on life purpose live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives.” (McKay, 2016)

As much as we differ and disagree, it is very hard to argue against the requirements for us humans to be well. And, being human also means that each of us can think at a level that is much beyond the capability of our non-human, earthly counterparts. We can have awareness of factors that contribute to healthy lives. Moreover, we can work together, in our thinking and action, to make lives better for the humans around us. We can sacrifice, collaborate, empathize, plan ahead, remember the past, and make positive changes in our lives. We can even influence lives after we die. But equally, we are capable of doing harm. We are fragile beings. It is easy, especially with technology, to injure others. It is easy, through poor habits and ill thoughts, to harm ourselves. And when we do, other people suffer along with us. As we encounter one another, whether in agreement, discord, or indifference, we can choose to be uniquely human. We can listen with respect. We can offer a helping hand to those who try to trip us up. We can ignore. We can respond in kind. We can question respectfully. We can celebrate one another. We can be silent. We can present an alternative point of view. Even though our differences are vast, the requirements for living well are exactly the same. When we are together, let us remember that our beliefs, actions, responses, prejudices, intentions, and experiences have as much effect on the quality of our own lives as on lives of those with whom we share humanity. Reference: McKay, Sarah. (2016, January 22). These are the 7 habits of highly healthy brains. Your Brain Health. Retrieved from

PA R E N T ’ S C O R N E R

Seek to understand “ what is different”

Maggie Razdar Publisher/Founder


he unspoken truth is that not all people are the same. As I read the young writer’s article in this issue, how they see it. I am so hopeful that our young generation will make a difference in this world. We don’t all look the same, act the same, have the same abilities, or even have the same religion or values. We are delightfully different from each other. Some people can walk, see, talk, and hear easily, while others need help with these things or have different ways of doing them. I avoid telling young people or others to stand out and be different just for the sake of diversity. I believe that is one of the problems in today’s society; we try too hard to be different. Just go with the flow. If someone is different from you, take the advice of Beatle John Lennon: let it be! Instead of making a big deal about a difference, be patient. Observe. Learn. Rather than making highly visible outcries that bring attention to people’s differences, you can learn more by watching people, asking questions and encouraging others to act in such a way that is aligned with their values. Being open-minded

MARCH 2017

helps you learn more about people from diverse cultures, including how they may be different from and similar to you. The real power lies in how we interact with others. Our one-to-one connections with each other are the foundation for understanding, acceptance and change. Those connections must often take place with people from different backgrounds. Their sexual orientation, skin color or ability may be different than yours. Making a personal connection with another person regardless of their differences is the key in building diverse communities that have the strength to change their environment. Any goal you have, such as assuring a quality education for students, empowering economic development or providing excellent health care for the people in your community, will have you working with people from various physical, mental, religious, racial, language, ethnic or economic groups. The secret in working with diversity is to establish personal bonds with people who are different from you. Habit 5 from The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People (Covey) states that, “If you wish to be understood, seek first to understand.” For those who are different, accept that you are unique. You are the best you there is. Accepting yourself can help you embrace your special characteristics and learn to deal with being different form others. Before trying to change anything about yourself, you must first be able to accept who you are and how you look at this very moment. Educate others about you. Letting others know about your culture, values, and personal characteristics can help to reduce any stigma, or negative stereotypes associated with your unique qualities.

When people are informed, sometimes their minds will open and they learn to accept diversity and differences in people. Avoid labeling yourself. Society is already doing that for you. Unfortunately, they may mislabel you. You have to stand up and be proud of how you are and who you are. Learn about “different” people. Look up Led Zeppelin, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, and the hippie movement. There is a lot to learn from the people who have walked a path similar to yours. They are, in the opinion of some, the original unique and cool people. They stood out in a crowd, dared to be different, and some of them even risked their lives in order to fight for what they believed in. Seek common ground. In spite of our differences, we also share commonalities. Celebrate these similarities as much as you celebrate your differences. If you focus only on differences, you may feel like the outsider who never gets invited someplace. You have much in common with around you. For example: • You are a part of humanity. You share the same DNA. You eat, drink, sleep, and breathe just like everyone else. • You feel pain, and you feel pleasure, too. • You speak a language, love others, and maybe you even despise brussel sprouts and liver. It’s okay – a lot of people do! By accepting the differences in yourself and in others, you take the first step in developing the power you need to make a difference in the world. It’s not something you can do alone, nor should you want to. All in all, we are all Similar, no matter how different we are!


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