Chicago's teen magazine; written for us, by us
2010 Swim for your life
CAN YOU BE FAT AND HAPPY? texting gone wild 'I lost my brother to gun violence' frenzied teens
'from the roots up' 10/13/10 11:08 AM
SUMMER 2010 FALL / WINTER 2010 SPRING 2010
w w w. c o l u m b i a l i n k s . o r g 2
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r_wurd 2010 Teen staff
Best Practice High School Best Practice High School Best Practice High School Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences Dyett High School Frederick Douglass High School GED Harlan High School Homewood-Flossmoor High School Homewoood-Flossmoor High School Kenwood Academy King College Prep King College Prep King College Prep Lane Tech High School Lane Tech High School Lindblom Math and Science Academy Lindblom Math and Science Academy New Millennium Health High School New Millennium Health High School Muhammad University of Islam Michele Clark High School Morgan Park Academy Morgan Park High School Perspectives Charter High School Richards High School Schurz High School Urban Prep Academy Lincoln Park High School
Imani Johnson Shaquana Nelson Jasmine Rosmon Kameron Mitchell Richard Robinson Elizabeth Jones Natalia Yarbrough Sania Erwin Jamilah Dodd Johari Dodd Nedra Ward Haley Ferguson Morgan Selvage Deann Montgomery Nader Ihmoud Karen Baena Kory Morris Demetria Taylor Rasheena Greer Janetta Lumpkin-Bradley Moracco Alexander Shamira Jones Michael Wills Nia McLin Adina Deramus Patra Johnson Carissa Eclarin Quindale Carter Emily White
Brenda Butler, executive director Billy Montgomery, professor and teacher coordinator Kevin Obomanu, program coordinator
Columbia College journalism graduate students Kelsey Duckett Sarah Ostman
Celia Daniels, reporter and editor (Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune) Allison Hunter-Williams, producer (WGN-TV, KTLA-TV) Ebony McCline, magazine reporter and Columbia College graduate Douglas Scott, editor (Chicago Tribune) Avis Weathersbee, editor (Chicago Sun-Times), blogger, media consultant Michael Zajakowski, photo editor, Chicago Tribune
Design Konrad Biegaj, konradbiegaj.com Special thanks to Omar Castillo, Paul Searle and Chris Richert of the Columbia College Journalism Department; Spencer Roush, editor-in-chief of The Columbia Chronicle newspaper; Lisa Wardle, copy chief of The Chronicle. Also: Ribo Espino, video, Columbia College and Street Level Media; webmaster Rui Kaneya, managing editor, The Chicago Reporter. Columbia Links is committed to supporting and providing quality journalism instruction and training to Chicago teens and teachers. Columbia Links is the product of the leadership and commitment of Columbia College Journalism Department Chair Nancy Day and Associate Professor Curtis Lawrence. If you are a teenager in Chicago interested in participating in Columbia Links, call 312-369-8993 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
'from the roots up' Teen staff
De-Jaune Celestine, Hyde Park Academy Tiquiah Glenn, graduate, Gage Park High School Jeffrey Joseph, Northside College Prep High School Bushra Kabir, Northside College Prep High School Kelly Luo, Lincoln Park High School Natalie C. Mendenhall, Walter Payton College Prep High School Porsha Stennis, Lindblom Math and Science Academy Dara Terry, IIT Math and Science Academy Queonna Watkins, Hyde Park Academy Cody Wilkins, graduate, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School Lasha Williams, Richards Career Academy Han Yang, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Nancy Day, chair, Journalism Department, Columbia College Brenda Butler, executive director, Columbia Links Program
Columbia Links is supported by Columbia College Chicago and funded by the McCormick Foundation and Dow Jones News Fund.
Avis Weathersbee, editor, writer, blogger, web content consultant; former assistant managing editor, Chicago Sun-Times
Rui Kaneya, managing editor, The Chicago Reporter
Program coordinator Kevin Obomanu
Andrea Hanis, assistant managing editor, Crain’s Chicago Business Jennifer Lacey, multimedia producer and videographer; recent Columbia College master's grad Elena Ferrarin, reporter/assistant editor, Reflejos Rosalind Cummings-Yeates, Columbia College adjunct instructor; arts and travel writer, blogger Cassandra West, social media consultant, editor, writer; former Chicago Tribune editor
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r_wurd 2010 Staying afloat It's complicated Teen mom's pledge Mirror, mirror, on the wall Slam dunk Inside the clique Officer Friendly Absenteeism costs Mentors to the rescue There's money in the honey The spoken words Frenzied teens Heavy & happy Sexting Srry its ovr Minus dad Perils of an ‘enumerator’ Trapped in procrastination Secrets of an investigative reporter The new homeless 4
6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 17 18 20 22 24 25 26 28 30 32 34
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'from the roots up' 37 38 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47
Turned on,tuned in Art of African diaspora To market, to market League of its own A shot to the heart Tasty food, priced right Chicken and Waffles Joy Yee’s Noodles ‘Climate of Change’ ‘A Small Act’ 5
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staying afloat Jakobi McClellan proves there is nothing to fear from learning how to swim By Kory Norris Lindblom Math and Science Academy
inority children, especially those in poverty stricken neighborhoods, are less likely to learn how to swim before they reach adulthood, compared to many of their white counterparts, studies and reported tragedies show. Why is it that many urban teenagers lack this skill? It is especially surprising considering those living in Chicago have access to city-run pools and beaches along Lake Michigan. Even more surprisingly, there are African-American role models to encourage them to learn to swim It may be because growing up in Chicago, teens spend less time focusing on leisure or recreational activities, such as swimming, hiking and camping, and put most of their attention on the negatives of urban life, such as drugs and violent crime. Also the lack of pools in communities and social stigma may be contributing factors. Chicago has many perils for teens; more than 20 public school students have been killed over the past three years and shooting deaths claim more than 300 lives a year. The Red Eye, a Tribune publication aimed at young adults, had a recent story by Tracy Swartz that reported of 217 homicides in the first half of 2010, 39 involved teenagers. While preventing and avoiding violent crime is one aspect of urban life, teaching youth how to swim is equally important because it too is a matter of life and death, advocates contend. “I think it’s vital and very important for children to learn how to swim. Not only do they need to learn it for everyday life, it’s also a form of exercise and a life-saving skill,” said Leakia Ellis, aquatic director of the South Side YMCA in Chicago. In early August, six black teenagers in Shreveport, La., drowned during a family outing after one waded into unexpectedly deep water in the Red River and the others attempted rescues. None of the victims knew how to swim, according to news reports. Such tragic stories are all too familiar. Shabnam Mogharabi wrote a two-part series in 2005 for Aquatics International on the topic of why minorities, mainly the poor, comprised a disproportionately large number of drownings. Statistics from 2002 showed that black children between the ages of 5 and 19 are 2.6 times more likely to drown than their white counterparts.
Photo by Nedra Ward
Jakobi McClellan, 14, began swimming when he was 8 years old. He now competes in swim meets .
“Not enough people are dying and not enough people are saying it’s a problem,” Gail H. Ito, an assistant professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Chicago State University, said in the article. USA Swimming, which governs aquatic competitions in this country, had the University of Memphis do a study on the matter and released the results in May. The research found that 70 percent of black children and 58 percent of Hispanic children had low or no swimming ability, compared with 40 percent for whites. “It's a safety issue,” Sue Anderson, director of programs and services with the swimming association, said recently in an Associated Press story. “We say, you don't send your son out to play football without wearing a helmet, yet people go to the beach and they don't know how to swim.” She cited parental fear and lack of parental encouragement as the top reasons given for not taking swimming lessons. To counter that, her organization’s Make A Splash initiative has been developing partnerships to provide swimming and water safety lessons to children. More programs are needed as further statistics bare out. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States, averaging 10 deaths per day “ in 2007, the latest year for compiled statistics. The federal agency also reported an additional 496 people died from drowning and other causes in boating-related accidents that year. Among the other alarming findings from the CDC are that 20 percent of the fatal drowning victims nationwide
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are children 14 and younger, and that for every child who drowns, another four receive emergency medical care for “non-fatal submersion injuries.” These revelations got this Columbia Links correspondent to think about the topic and to seek out someone to discuss the subject. It led me to a swimmer who could shed some light on the matter. Jakobi McClellan is a 14-year-old freshman at HomewoodFlossmoor High School in suburban Chicago and a future Olympic swimming hopeful, who credits his mother, Victoria, for leading him into the sport. He talked about his passion as well as his awareness of the lack of swimming ability among urban youth. In the exchange, Jakobi mentioned Cullen Jones, an African-American and 2008 Olympic medal winner in the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay. Jones’ mother had him take swimming lessons after he required cardiopulmonary resuscitation following an incident at a water park at the age of 5. Years later, his effort helped Michael Phelps win one of his record-breaking eight Olympic gold medals in swimming, surpassing Mark Spitz’s seven in 1972. “I hope this exposure from the race today, a kid can see this and say, 'Wow, a black swimmer - and he's got a gold medal,'” Jones, then 24, told reporters in bringing home gold for the U.S. team. “The stigma that black people don't swim ended today.”
A chat with Jakobi McClellan Q: Are you aware of the recent deaths of children who die because of drowning? A: Yes, and I think it’s sad. Parents should involve their children in a swimming camp like the one I went to in Indiana. Q: Because swimming is not as popular as basketball among blacks, did you get talked about because you were interested in something different? A: Always! My friends call me “Shark” because I will always be in the water. And when people see me, they would say, “You look like a football player.” Q: Do you consider yourself a role model for your peers and younger individuals? A: Nope, I’m just a regular guy. Q: Do you think you have what it takes to make it in the Olympics? A: Well, yeah, but that’s not my goal right now. I’m focusing on getting through high school. Q: What is your training schedule like? A: Two-a-day, two-a-day, two-a-day. I train at 5:30 a.m., then again at 3 p.m., and I do push-ups and sit-ups. Q: Who do you idolize in the Olympics? A: Michael Phelps, of course, the all-time winning Olympic swimmer. But I also like Cullen Jones, an African-American swimmer with an amazing breaststroke. —Kory Norris
Photo by Kory Norris
A coach at the South Side YMCA at 63rd and Stony Island instructs a young student at the large pool.
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It's Complicated The life of a teen mom is filled with complications and consequences By Nia McLin
Morgan Park High School.
year ago, 15-year-old Kay D. (who asked that her last name not be used), a student in a Chicago public school, was just your average teenager. Monday through Friday, she went to school, where she went to classes and hung out with her friends; afterward, she went to softball practice and did her homework. If she felt like it, she would watch TV or talk on the phone until bedtime. But now, her life revolves around her 7-month-old son, Kalen. Instead of lallygagging in front of the mirror in the morning, Kay is changing Kalen’s diapers. While she's at school, the baby goes to daycare. After a full day of classes, Kay still has to do her homework, but she also has to feed and take care of the baby. She is still able to play on the softball team because of help from the baby’s grandparents, but when she comes home, it’s back to work. She puts Kalen to sleep, packs his baby bag and lays his clothes out for the next day. After a full day of school and parenting, Kay sometimes isn’t able to complete her homework, so she has to finish it the next day during lunch. It may sound like a lot to manage, but to Kay it is not that extreme. Kay was 14 years old when she found out she was pregnant. She decided to keep the baby because she waited too late to get an abortion. It was also her mother’s and the dad’s mother’s first grandchild, so they were somewhat happy about the situation. Kay is luckier than most. For many girls, getting pregnant would be a scary and disappointing situation but Kay really wasn’t that perturbed. “I was nonchalant,” she said. “I really didn’t take it that seriously.” Kay is not alone. Teen pregnancy is a complex and problematic issue that affects many teenage girls. According to the Women’s Health Channel website, “Teenage pregnancy rates remain high and approximately one million teenage girls become pregnant each year in the United States." About 13 percent of U.S. births involve teen mothers and about one in four of those teen moms have a second baby within two years. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Being a teen mother can pose other problems, experts say, because teen moms can have a difficult time maintaining a stable environment for themselves and their newborn babies. “Teens that have babies have a higher risk of not finishing high school because they feel isolated in their classrooms,” said expert Nancy Thompson, administrator of the Teen Parenting Service Network. 8
Photo by Nia McLin
Not only do the teens suffer in school and at home, but their relationships do, too. “Teen relationships start to take a toll with their partners because they wind up arguing over finances as well as real life issues; [like] where the food is going to come from and where they are going to live,” Thompson said. The question that may be circling everyone’s minds is if contraception is so easily accessible — you can purchase them in nearly every gas station and grocery store — why are so many teenage girls getting pregnant? The protection is available, counseling is available, birth control is available; all couples have to do is use them to prevent a critical mistake that could cost them their future. Some people say the answer is sex education. With more than 49 million children in the United States attending public schools, experts say schools are the perfect place to reach out to teens. But there is no standard curriculum for sex education in Chicago Public Schools, so what students are taught varies from classroom to classroom. Even when they have gone through sex education, Thompson said, teens believe they are “invincible,” which results in a high rate of STDs among young teen parents. “They have been taught about safe sex practices, but they still continue to believe that it will not happen to them,” she said. Parents, too, play a huge role in their teens’ lives. Parents need to talk to their children about sex education and stay involved in their children’s lives as much as possible. Teens feel highly influenced by their parents when it comes to decisions about sex, love and relationships because parents are their children’s role models. When you don’t have a positive person or people in your life, the effects may be critical. Every action has a consequence and what you do today may affect your future tomorrow. Today, Kay is healthy, financially stable and still in school. Because her mother provides for her and Kalen, she still gets just about everything she needs and wants. And because the baby sleeps through the night, she says she isn’t losing any sleep. But even though Kay may not feel the burden now, she probably will later when she has to get out on her own and experience the world. Said Kay: "I know I have to continue to push for a better future, not only for myself but for my son. He deserves the best and that's what I strive to give him."
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School's out, but not a GED Photo illustration by Natalia Yarbrough
Nothing will stop me, especially now that there are two of us By Natalia Yarbrough GED Candidate
lot of teenagers say their life is so hard. What many of them don’t understand is that they actually have it pretty easy. I wish all I had to worry about was studying for a test, or what I was going to wear that day. My life is hard, not the hardest of lives, but definitely not the easiest. My name is Natalia Yarbrough. I am 16 years old and I am a teenage mother. When I found out I was pregnant, I was a sophomore at Bogan High School. The pregnancy shocked everyone in my family. The way that my family reacted to the pregnancy really stressed me out. I ended up failing the second semester of my sophomore year because I was sent out to live with my dad. During the time I was with my dad I was not in school, which was about four weeks. Because I missed classes, I was unable to make up all of the work. What made this all worse was that my due date, Sept. 28, 2009, was the beginning of my junior year. I was not able to start my junior year. I had my daughter, Kaelah Renee Jackson, on Sept. 24, 2009. I would now be considered a junior in high school. Unfortunately, I had to withdraw from school to take care of Kaelah. Raising a child has interfered with getting my education. Instead of going to school, I have to stay home with my baby. Instead of doing homework, I have to take her to the doctor. Life is not a piece of cake for anyone, but I feel like it has been especially hard for me this past year. When I talk to my peers they all say the same thing about high school. It’s always, “I only like the social aspect of high school,” or “I’d rather get my GED if that means I don’t have to go to school and can teach myself.” It’s hard for me to explain to them what I am going through. Most of them don’t understand that I loved school. I was popular and had a lot of friends. Most
of the teachers found me hilarious. And now all of that is gone! When I decided to go through with my pregnancy and become a mother, I knew that meant giving up everything for my child. I gave up high school; I won’t be able to walk across a stage for graduation. I won’t be able to dress up for a prom. I can’t just go to the mall and hang out with my friends. I haven’t even experienced a high school party, and now I will never get the chance. The hardest part about being a pregnant teenager was being judged. Not by my friends, because all of my friends thought it was just the cutest thing to have a little round belly. And quite frankly, I didn’t care what they thought about me anyway. I’ve never really been a person who cares about how my peers see me. I always knew that how I felt about myself on the inside was what really mattered. But when my favorite teachers would stop talking to me, it hit me hard. I was embarrassed to go to the grocery store with my mom, and that made me sad. When people asked me how far along I was in my pregnancy, followed by, “How old are you?” I was ashamed to say, “I’m 16.” I was no longer Natalia, the spunky, fun, outspoken person everyone hated to love. I was now a statistic: the teenage mother everyone loved to hate. Don’t ever mistake my words. I love and adore my beautiful daughter. She never has been, is, or will be the reason my life is hard. She didn’t ask to be here; I brought her here. That makes it my new job to do everything I can to make her life the best it can be. The day I walked into Bogan High School and had to withdraw, I received a look of disappointment from everyone. Usually this is something that would hurt my feelings. I don’t like to disappoint people, but that day, instead of hurting my feelings, it made me want to grow and continue living my life the best that I can. Getting my GED is not something I would rather do instead of high school. This is something I have to do to take care of my child. I don’t plan on getting my GED and getting a minimum wage job. I plan to get my GED, go to college, graduate and find a career. I plan to make enough money so that I can provide my child with the best education and life. Being a mommy is the best feeling in the world! And so that I can be a great mommy… I am going to get my GED, no matter what! 9
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mirror, mirror, on the wall BDD: When you don't like what you see By Michael Wills
Morgan Park High School
et’s paint a pretty but deceptive picture of an ailment. In schools, on magazine covers, in music videos, down cosmetic aisles and in many other aspects of teen life, there is a bombardment of beautiful faces and bodies. But for some teens who are good-looking, that image isn’t reflected back at them in the mirror. This is a real disorder that affects thousands of teens in the United States. It is body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and affects those who psychologically don’t think they are attractive, despite contrary evidence, and go to extremes to fix their “problem.” “My sister’s friend has that disorder and she has really low self-esteem, and she told my sister once that she would change her eye color if it was ever possible,” said Salma Jabri, a 15-year-old at Hinsdale Central High School, just outside Chicago. “My sister’s friend also has had two nose jobs in the past year.” Teens may become anorexic or suffer somatic delusion, among a list of obsessively bad behaviors, as the condition takes over their lives. BDD should not be taken lightly because of the trouble it can cause teens at a formative age, notes the Anxiety Disorders Association of America in Maryland. According to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the ailment, also called “imagined ugliness,” is a mental illness in which teens can't stop thinking about flaws — either minor or imaginary — in their appearance. Low self-esteem, depression, social isolation, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, phobia, body odor concerns and desires for implants or other cosmetic surgery are among the behavioral problems that may surface as a result. Alex Kyi, a 15-year-old sophomore at Jones College Preparatory High School in Chicago, said he had taken some action because of being ashamed of his looks, noting “when I’m around attractive people I feel as if my looks don’t matter. I’d rather get surgery to make myself look better.” The Mayo Clinic also reported that body dysmorphic disorder usually starts in adolescence, affecting both genders equally. The condition affects about 1 percent of the
U.S. population and as many as 10 percent of those seeking dermatology or cosmetic treatments may do so because of the ailment. A study found that 24 percent of those with BDD also had obsessive compulsive disorder, according to the OCD Center of Los Angeles. Some people might say that Michael Jackson showed symptoms. The late pop singer went through a series of treatments to lighten his skin and surgeries to fixed perceived facial flaws in the 1980s and ’90s. Very few celebrities with BDD have discussed the topic publicly, Dr. Jamie Feusner, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told a CNN reporter this year. He and his colleagues have treated celebrities at UCLA, but keep the names confidential. Despite perceptions, BDD is not sending masses of adolescents between ages of 13 and 19 for some nick and tuck at doctors’ offices. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that age bracket accounted for 2 percent of the 12.5 million cosmetic procedures in 2009. The most common procedures for teens were laser hair removal, nose reshaping, laser treatment of leg veins and laser skin resurfacing. So the disorder mainly manifests itself in how teens behave and their grooming. “I worry about my looks when I’m around others that look better than me,” said Robbie Hawkins, a junior at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, “so I constantly adjust my wardrobe and other things to make myself look better.” Seventeen magazine noted that teens spend about $9 billion annually on cosmetics and skin products, and a Magazine Publishers of America marketing profile found that clothing topped a list of items that teens — a $112 billion spending sector in 2003 — bought or planned to buy with their own money. "The problem is really on the inside, it's not what they really look like," Sabine Wilhelm, director of the BDD Clinic and Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, said in the CNN report. Researchers point to possible triggers of BDD, including brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that are linked to a person’s mood, genetic traits in the family tree and environmental conditions such as peer pressure and other social influences. Theresa Murphy, 15, said teens might feel as though they have symptoms of the disorder and acknowledged she sometimes strays in that direction. “I like the way I look most of the time, but sometimes I feel as if I need makeup to make myself look better,” said the sophomore at Thornwood High School in the Chicago suburb of South Holland.
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Photo by Nedra Ward
By Nedra Ward Kenwood Academy
obert Siler had a choice: hanging out in the streets or playing high school basketball. Three years ago, he left his friends in the streets to focus on his game. As Siler adjusted to life in high school at Kenwood Academy, he began to hit the courts. That's when the coaches discovered they had a five-star player in their camp. Siler had other things going for him too: excellent grades with a GPA of 3.7. This is not a persistent image seen in the media about AfricanAmerican teenage boys. Most people assume these young men are dropouts, drug dealers, pimps or just plain stupid. Siler is proving them wrong. By balancing school responsibilities and basketball, he is breaking through those stereotypes. I sat down to talk with him about his challenges. How do you balance schoolwork and commitment to basketball?
I use my free time for basketball, and I do my homework at school. How do you feel about the stereotypes of basketball players?
I feel that they think just because you are a basketball player you are dumb.
Star basketball player Robert Siler abandoned the streets for the court
That’s not the case, because I know school will always come first. What got you interested in playing the sport?
What is the best part of being a basketball player?
The people you meet and your teammates.
My dad was a basketball player and he told me I was going to be a basketball player ever since I was a shortie, and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 3 years old.
What are the advantages of being a high school basketball player?
Who inspires you in life, and in basketball?
Basketball is my life, and I don’t know what I would do if I was not playing. I am using high school basketball as the key to get me through doors that aren't open yet.
My dad because I loved playing with him when I was younger. I also like Michael Jordan and Lebron James. What obstacles did you have to overcome in life and in basketball?
Losing my friends to the streets. I had to separate my friends, school and basketball. I was real close with my friends and I noticed that being with them took away from me doing what I loved to do. So that’s why I had to cut them loose. What was the most challenging step progressing to the next level as a basketball player?
Playing high school basketball because it involves a lot of new skills, and the school work gets harder.
You get exposure, and you get known throughout the city and school. Final words?
Siler's stats Height: Six foot two Age:16 Grade: 11th Years at the game: 12 Points per game: Points: 10.3 Assists: 2.3 Rebounds: 6.2
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Cliques define girls' roles at school By Deann Montgomery King College Prep
ome girls say they would feel lonely if they were not a part of a group, while other more independent girls simply say, “Whatever.” There are many reasons why girls join cliques. After all, a clique is just a group of people who share the same interests, views, purposes and behavior. Well, at least that's the theory. In reality, the clique does not fit everyone. I'm not sure of the benefits of belonging to a clique, but what I am sure of is that there is a lot of drama that comes from being part of a clique. When you are in a clique, you not only have to worry about how you perceive yourself, but about how everyone else perceives you. Belonging to a clique can cause a girl to doubt if she is good enough to run with the cool girls. The problem with cliques is that they promote exclusion, says LeeAndra Kahn, assistant principal at King College Prep High School. Girls seem to lose their individuality when they become a part of a clique. They feel they have to work hard to fit the brand of the clique and, generally, this is not a true reflection of who they are. Some girls become followers, not leaders, without knowing it. Counselors warn that it is important for girls to keep their personal identity in check when joining a clique. 12
“Conformity to the whims of the leaders is the price paid for membership,” Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker, a Massachusetts psychologist and family therapist, writes at PsychCentral, an independent mental health network. Acceptance and rejection can occur at a critical stage of development, often as early as 4th grade, studies show. Educators and mental health professionals are confronting the problem with early intervention. The Chicago Public Schools added “Cliques, Crushes and True Friends: Developing Healthy Relationships” by Ashley Rae Harris to its recommended purchasing list of books to help pre-teen girls cope with peer pressure. I talked to classmates at King on Chicago's South Side to find out how cliques fit into their lives. Are the King Girls, the name of the clique, really considered “Mean Girls” as seen in the hit movie, or does the term clique have a different meaning now? The King Girls may dress alike and always be together, but does this mean that they are evil people? “Some cliques I do like, but I do not like one certain clique,” says Jailyn Brown, a 10th grader who is not a member of any King clique. “They are all phony, scary and they talk about one another [but] call each other best friends, which is wrong.” Jah’nise Robinson, a member of the King Girls, says cliques serve a purpose. “This clique is a support system,” Robinson says. “They are all my friends and I can talk to them about anything. They are always there to help me out.” Few could argue with Robinson about her observations. It feels good to feel like you belong to something. It feels good to belong to something bigger than yourself. But does it feel good if you can't speak your mind or be yourself? It is hard to stay true to your values because you have to consider the feelings of the group. Taylor Carr and Imani Graham, both members of the King Girls, point out the pros and cons of being in a clique. “The advantage is that we always get to go out and have fun together,” says Carr. “The disadvantages are all the rumors that get spread around,” especially about having sex with many different boys, says Graham. In some cases, the gossip can harm a girl’s self-esteem and reputation long after she leaves school.
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By Morgan Selvage King College Prep
Police presence on campus get mixed reactions
ockers are slamming, book bags are being stuffed with homework and students are recapping the day’s events. Teachers are finally getting their grading done, now that their students are leaving for the day and the Chicago police are in action. At King College Prep it is customary to have two or more police officers at school at any given time. And over the past decade more schools have followed King College Prep’s standards for a police presence inside the school and on school grounds. Some schools have even gone as far as having a mini police station in schools, but is this all necessary? “I think that safety is always positive," said LeeAndra Kahn, assistant principal at King College Prep. "So no matter how the students perceive the police presence, I think keeping a building safe is important.” In a time when teen violence is on the rise, some question whether police presence in schools is actually a positive thing. Are police presenting themselves in a manner that is effective to students and staff alike, or are they more of a scare tactic? Jeff Wright, principal at King College Prep, said he sees the police as having a positive, calming effect. “That’s the way I like to see the police, not as a threatening presence, but as a supportive presence,” Wright said. “I know a lot of students that have gone to them with very personal things, whether it’s about relationships with relatives that have become very harmful or threats in their neighborhood. I would never want our police officers to treat you all like prisoners because if our police officers did that, I don’t think you would respect them the same way.” Youth violence and violence in general have skyrocketed in Chicago and as the city tries to find a way to prevent and combat this scary and very real problem, many students wonder if schools are actually safer with a police presence. Surprisingly brutality rates are going up among young adults and teenagers and is a problem in the general population as well. In a recent study done by the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project, between the months of April and September of 2009, there were 4,778 incidents of alleged victims of police misconduct in the state of Illinois. It also found that police brutality is at the top of the list in police misconduct by category, at 18.2 percent, with 772 people being victims of police brutality. At King College Prep, students have their own opinions about police presence and police brutality. One student, who asked to remain anonymous, said she doesn’t feel police officers respect teenagers or people in general.
“No, I don’t think they respect us,” she said. “I think some police officers respect kids and I think others don’t because they feel as if they have this upper hand over us so they’ll disrespect us. Like if you don’t respect us, I’m not gonna respect you." Officer Mike Miller disagreed. "Kids nowadays have a lack of respect with rules and regulations and older adults." Another student, who also asked to remain anonymous, said, "It's not that police are necessarily bad, but I think they judge teens as whole based probably on what they typically see in a certain group of teens." Whether teenagers feel they are not being respected or the police feel they are not being respected, the common goal should be to stop the violence among teens and young adults, but how? Miller said he believes the key to getting through to teens is showing them that you care. "What I see now is kids that don't care how much you know or who you are," Miller said. "They want to see that you care. That's my assessment on teens today." (In January 2010 the Chicago police department announced the reinstatement of its Officer Friendly program in elementary schools in Englewood to help build a more positive relationship between the police and the community.) This assessment may be true, but the commonality that teens and adults alike share is they want respect. Teens want to be respected as bright, young adults who are capable of making decisions as they grow into adults and head into the world. Police officers want to be respected as an authority figure who are working hard to enforce the law and keep everyone safe. Miller said he doesn't care if a kid likes him, he wants just wants respect. "How do you form a relationship when there seems to be a power struggle between child and adult? You have to care, show that you care so they kids can see it," he said. But, with the recent rise in youth violence inside and outside of Chicago schools, specifically the beating death of 16-year-old student Derrion Albert at Fenger High School, caring may not be the best way to prevent violence. This is why principals and school officials have decided to increase school security, including police presence in school. Miller said an increased police presence might help, but he said training officers to work with teens is key in building a relationship that will work in schools. "I don't see a rise in police brutality, but I think that some officers are not trained properly to handle teens," Miller said. "In turn, (they) don't know how to deal with them. I think it's a society thing." No matter if it's a society thing or a respect thing, students and the police officers need to join forces to prevent violence. 13
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Absenteeism costs More than grades at stake when it comes to attendance By Nader Ihmoud
Lane Technical High School Graduate
lbert Lane Technical High School took a hard look at its attendance numbers and administrators saw room for improvement. More than just its standing among academic rivals in the city is at stake. Five years ago, the principal sat down with faculty and others to determine a course of action on how to nudge up the attendance figure that was stuck at around 92 percent at the Chicago college prep institution, where each percentage increase means about 40 more students showing up for classes. In the middle of the first grading semester of the 2004-2005 school year, Lane Tech decided to crackdown on absenteeism by implementing a policy that linked attendance with grades to motivate students to miss fewer days of school. Antoinette LoBosco, the current principal, remembers the reason behind the change. “We changed it because it seemed like we could not seem to get past the 92 percent attendance rate,” said LoBosco, who was an assistant principal at the North Side school when the effort was discussed and undertaken. “When we started looking at the reasons for absences, they were not really illnesses,” she said. “They were more like 'I did not feel like going [to school] today.' ” The result? “The very first semester [the] attendance rate shot up,” LoBosco said in May. Another motivation was a requirement in 2006 from district headquarters that a principal whose student attendance rate was below 95 percent had to develop an “attendance improvement plan” that was to take effect the following school year.
Lane Tech was among selective enrollment high schools—where admission requires an application and entrance exam—in the Chicago Public Schools system that had to come up with a plan. It competes for enrollees, resources and bragging rights with schools such as Whitney Young Magnet, Walter Payton College Prep, Martin Luther King College Prep, Lindblom Math and Science Academy and Westinghouse, the newest, opening in 2009. However, bragging rights in sports and academic prowess isn't the only thing at stake. The district's overall attendance figure—an average of 85 percent pooling all high schools in 2009—affects how much state and federal funding it receives. For the individual school, a budget crunch along with poor attendance and low enrollment can lead to the loss of teaching jobs or worse. Chicago's CBS affiliate, WBBM-TV, recently reported allegations by former school staff members of “ghost students” and attendance tampering in the past three years at two city high schools, Best Practice and Steinmetz Academic Centre. A CPS spokesman told Channel 2 reporter Dave Savini that an inspector general investigation was looking into the matter and that new tools were being used to better track the possible manipulation of attendance and grades. The nation's third largest school system, which had an operating budget of $5 billion in the 2009-2010 academic year, has a lot riding on an honest accounting. Its Department of Compliance and Former Student Records, whose duties include tracking and helping to maintain attendance records, announced that more than $1 billion in state funding was secured based on student attendance data for the entire district, which consists of 606 schools, including 122 high schools, and more than 408,000 students in 2009. The selective enrollment schools get a good share of CPS funding. Catalyst magazine, which covers urban school issues, did a breakdown of a 2005 CPS financial report and found that Lane Tech was budgeted to receive $18.5 million for its huge student population,
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the largest of the selective enrollment schools. Whitney Young, whose student body was about half of Lane Tech's that year, was scheduled to get the next highest amount, nearly $9 million. The others, with smaller enrollments, got between $1.8 million and $4.6 million. So district and school leaders have emphasized maximum student attendance and minimum truancy— absent without a valid reason—because of the effect on their funding. In 2008 the compliance department reported Lane Tech's truancy rate at 0.1 percent for its 4,088 students. Payton shared the same percentage for its 890 students. King, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep Academy and Northside College Prep all had rates of 0.4 percent for 899, 729 and 1,112 students, respectively. Lindblom, Whitney Young and Jones College Prep registered no truancies for their 484, 2,185 and 707 enrollees, respectively, that year. Lane Tech’s attendance policy discourages no-shows through a shock-and-awe approach. The shock comes after five unexcused absences, and the awe is delivered
with a student's semester grades being lowered by one letter grade in each class. The Leadership Team, comprising in-house administrators, agreed to the new policy. Its 10 members meet before the beginning of each school year to go over the code of conduct for students, adding and adjusting rules as necessary. But senior Michael Monroe thinks the school should rely more on the judgment of teachers. “I understand they [the Leadership Team] are qualified, but they are not in the classroom,” he said. “It should be the teacher in the classroom that makes that decision. “Just because you miss five days doesn't mean you don't know the material,” Monroe added. Lane Tech has a strict attendance policy not only because of district rules, but also it is a college prep school. One school official says it lets students know how things are at higher levels of education. “In college, after a certain amount of missed classes, the instructor may drop a student, and there are no refunds,” Christopher Wendorf, assistant attendance director, said about such costly missteps.
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Mentors to the rescue By Shamirah Jones and Imani Johnson
Michele Clark High School and Best Practice High School
ow you doin’?” talk show host Wendy Williams asks her teen-filled audience at the start of each show. Most of us would not want to reveal our most intimate thoughts on national television. However, everyone needs someone to talk with, especially when things aren’t going well at school or at home. Whom do you tell your troubles? Teens often are hesitant to share their problems with parents. If they turn to a friend, they risk getting advice from another inexperienced teen. Teens can turn to counselors and mentors at school and at after-school programs. Community school liaison Carol Flowers is the go-to person for students at the Westside Health Authority in Austin. Her open-door policy lets them know that she is always there if they need her. “It’s a perfect way to build up trust,” Flowers said. Mentors need to show interest to help teens develop a sense of trust. Students trust Flowers because she is non-judgmental. Counselors at WHA are there to listen and to provide guidance. Teens respect honesty and want advice, but don’t want adults to tell them what to do. A mentor or counselor should lead students to make the best decision, experts say. Many teens are referred by other teens to Flowers because of her dedication and reputation for following through. Flowers makes it her No. 1 priority to be a resource for students looking for work. WHA also provides a male counselor for boys who believe they have a problem too personal to discuss with a woman. Flowers' concern for students extends beyond her office, students say. If a student has not been seen, she will have the receptionist telephone to find out why the child is missing. After three days, Flowers will call to show teens that there are people who care for them besides their parents. Public schools systems nationwide offer intervention programs that range from computerized phone checks to family counseling, all to reduce truancy. "If students miss a day of school, a website, ParentCONNECT, sends an e-mail to their parents' phone, letting them know that their child was absent from school today," said Kayla Peterson, 18, a student at Proviso East High School in Maywood. Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman has called mentors the new truancy officers. CPS is the nation's thirdlargest district, with more than 408,000 students. Earlier this year, Huberman appointed Dr. Carl C. Bell, president and CEO of the Community Mental Health Council of Chicago, to a panel to review mentoring proposals for CPS. The program would focus on improving students' grades and identifying 16
Photo by Imani Johnson
Counselor Carol Flowers of the Westside Health Authority in Austin: “It’s a perfect way to build up trust.”
potential victims of violence. In his “Seven Principles for Changing At-Risk Behavior and Cultivating Resiliency Among Youth,” the Chicago psychiatrist writes of “providing opportunities to increase self-esteem.” Mentoring can provide “a sense of models to help young people make sense of the world and teach them how things work,” Bell said. At a recent Chicago forum on ending youth violence, Bell said: “Kids are gasoline with no brakes or steering wheel. Society has demonized children, forgotten that they are children. We need to focus on what is right with people instead of what is wrong . . . that is what saves people.” Shondell Pruitt, a 17-year-old junior at Orr Academy High School on the West Side, says he talks to his best friend about anything because he trusts him. However, Pruitt also realizes that he can’t always rely on his equally young friend. Another person Pruitt can talk with is his Spanish teacher, Anne Prendergast. She is easy to talk to and loves to help her students with their problems, he says. Pruitt believes he can rely on Prendergast to listen to him and help him. “A mentor is someone that tells you right from wrong,” he said. Andrew Cobes, a counselor from Youth Advocate, a program that matches young mentors with at-risk youth, visited Cory White's home to determine why he had missed 54 days of school. “I got jumped on,” White told Cobes. Cobes immediately asked White what he could do to get him back on track. Cory told him he needed to find a job and to get back into Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA) on the South Side. Cobes introduced White to Alvin Nickelson, who gave White a job at his barbershop until he could get a steady job. Soon, a more confident White was on the honor roll at CVCA and working at McDonald’s. Cobes paired White with a personal mentor Shay Thomas at Youth Advocates. White, 17, said he feels that he can talk with Thomas because they are nearly the same age. He also said Thomas "is cool and doesn't judge him." More importantly, “she always has my back.” Now a junior at CVCA, White said Youth Advocates has changed his life. “I come to school more because of the support I have,” he said.
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There's money in the honey
Photo by Kameron Mitchell
By Kameron Mitchell
Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences
hen most people think of Chicago Public Schools, they think of English, math and science classes. They most definitely don't think of a school that runs businesses making honey, growing fruits and vegetables and giving back to the community they are a part of. Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, also known as CHSAS, is located at 111th Street and Pulaski Road. The school was built in 1985 on the site of the last farm within the Chicago city limits. With 30 acres of land dedicated to the farm, the school grows many types of vegetables. A barn attached to the school houses a variety of farm animals. No doubt that this school is different from other CPS schools. There is a department devoted to beekeeping, and with the bees come honey. The school has a Food Science department which cooks and processes food. CHSAS honey is used in the preparation of many of these foods and in the production of candles and cosmetics such as lip balm, hand cream and makeup. “Last year we had 117 gallons [of honey] and this year we had 92 gallons [so far]. In previous years, we have had 70 gallons. Generally, we increase our volume each year because our technique gets better,” says Scott Nelson, horticulture teacher. At the junior and senior grade levels, working in an agricultural pathway is a part of the curriculum. Students work with the honey by producing foods,
selling and the actual beekeeping. These students are trained to do jobs that most urban students would never learn. The students work hard at what they do, not just for their grade, but because it is their own project.\ CHSAS, unlike most schools, serves its community as well as its students. The products made by the students are sold to the local community of Mount Greenwood from a farmstand on campus. Many people buy CHSAS products knowing that it is reliable and that hardwork went into making them available to the public. The school makes a profit throughout the year selling its products. With this money, CHSAS is able to give back to the students who gave so much to them. “All the funds, derived from the sale of the honey or the use of the honey, for cooking and promotional things come back to the school. For instance, I just sold 70 gallons for $3,500 to Eli's Cheesecake Factory,” says Nelson. “The rest of the honey is sold and the money comes back to the honey program and school programs.” Proceeds also are invested back into the farmstand to update the facility and to improve service and increase inventory. “The farmstand makes about $10,000 to $12,000 a year,” says Rick Johnson, agricultural finance teacher. “All of the money that is made by the farmstand, after we pay our expenses, is given back to the students. It is used for student activities to cut the costs, so the kids can do things for less money.” Another piece of the profit is put into the FFA, an organization run by students and often found in agriculturebased high schools. Students of the FFA decide where the money should go to make their school the best it can be CHSAS is like no other school in Chicago, and its focus on agricultural science and business practices truly makes it unique. 17
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Language, accents and surnames can be totally misinterpreted as immigrants adjust to the U.S. By Emily White
Lincoln Park High School
he United States of America has always been a land of opportunity. People come from all over the world and come here to study for various reasons. More often than not, the principles of American culture and government are exaggerated until they're a forged bliss. Teens, and sometimes adults, are led to think that the American way of life guarantees them automatic freedom and individualism, without considering that some people fall into the trap of stereotyping and making assumptions that are incorrect. Language and accents are often the first indicator of differences and that perhaps someone was not born in the U.S. Many international students note how people react to them when they speak with an accent and when others misinterpret where they are from because of it. “I was born and raised in Kazakhstan until I was 4, so my native language is Russian—the primary language of my country. When I came here, everyone assumed I was Russian, because I spoke it. Even my teachers. I thought more people would be open-minded to [different] cultures,” said Arseniy Minasov, 14, of Lincoln Park High School. “I can speak English very well, like most of my family members, but I still have an accent.” Many people don’t know how to differentiate between ethnicities and may mistakenly label international students because of their surnames. “Most people assume I'm Mexican or another Hispanic race since I'm from the Philippines and have a Spanish name, but I'm Asian,” Alex Rosales, a freshman at Whitney M. Young Magnet School, said. Rosales’ mother worked in numerous countries as a singer with her quartet band. Once she found a stable status for herself, she moved to the United States with Rosales and her younger sister. Apart from school she hopes to build a stronger relationship with her 18
The spoken words mother, who she hasn’t been very close to. Before Rosales’ mother moved to the U.S., she was always on the road so she would only speak to her mom over the phone. “Considering English is one of the Philippine's official languages, students were required to learn English. Going to school in the Philippines and learning English was a great privilege because the Philippines is a Third World country, where the public schools are not up to par,” she said, comparing the two school systems, even though she admits the Filipino school system is stricter. According to the American Psychological Association, one in 10 U.S. citizens were born in a foreign country. While kids often adjust to new cultures quickly, parents have to carry the extra baggage of transitioning into a different culture and taking care of their family. More often than not, parents will send their children to the U.S. to live with relatives already residing here. “My parents live in Thailand right now. They sent me to America to study,” said Tep Suwannathen, 15, a student of Ogden International High School, who was born and raised in Bangkok. Since he came here in spring 2009, he’s been living with his aunt and uncle, who have lived in Chicago for almost 45 years. “Everything is different. The houses, food, people, customs, laws, money, how to eat, what to wear—everything,” he said in a thick Thai accent. As one would think, learning a new language is difficult, especially when the language—and even the alphabet—is so different from theirs.
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Photo by Emily White
Arseniy Minasov (left), 14, and Natasha Rabinovich, 15, natives of Kazakhstan, have been friends since 1st grade. "He was the only one in elementary school that could speak Russian. He basically taught me English," says Rabinovich, a freshman at Lane Tech.
Though language may be a barrier in the U.S., learning English is a definite plus to overcoming obstacles and helping to bridge the gap of misconceptions. “It took me about half a year to speak English well. I did not want to, but I had no other choice,” said Alevtyna Kupenko, 13, a student at Lincoln Park High School and a native of Ukraine's capital, Kiev. “My mom and I are the only ones who know how to speak English in my family. When my grandparents came here for my 8th grade graduation, I had to translate almost everything. It can be annoying, but not so much.” Eighth-grader Cassie Ng’s father was born in Shanghai. In her school she takes Chinese classes and tries to follow the same Chinese values her father had to follow when he was young. Despite the overwhelming amount of differences between American students and international ones, she says there are some similarities. Whether you were born in Seoul, Paris or Rome, we all share something in common. “People are quick to point out the differences and negative things, but we all really want to just get ahead. We’re looking for love, happiness and just overall a better life,” she said.
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Saying no and time management may be the answers By Jasmine Rosmon Best Practice High School
o you attend school and have a job? Do you have entirely too many responsibilities on an average day? Do you sometimes feel overworked? If the answer is yes to any or all three of the questions, then you may be “frenzied.” Your average day may consist of so many activities that sometimes you may feel stressed. Well, you are not alone. I was once a frenzied teen. I would go to school and do my best to maintain good grades. I was a member of a book club, which meant I had to attend book club meetings. In addition, I volunteered at my neighborhood Boys and Girls Club. Like most teens, I also had responsibilities to take care of at home. All of the above contributed to me feeling overworked, making my stress level increase. Don't be alarmed! There is a solution for feeling overworked, overwhelmed and just down right frenzied. It simply consists of using a little thing we call time management. I personally had to cut several activities on my schedule and limit them to certain days. At a point, I even ended up dropping some of my extracurricular activities, like the book club. Then I noticed the extra time I had on my hands. I used the free time in many ways. Needless to say, it was a great relief. Enough about my frenzied experience, this is a problem that also affects others like myself! Desiree Peete, a junior at Best Practice High School, could relate to my experience. Here is a day in Peete's life:
3:15 p.m.-3:30 p.m.- Arrives at her part-time job 6:00 p.m.- Leaves her job 8:00 p.m.- Arrives home to does chores, homework and check on her grandmother 11:30 p.m.- Hits the sheets Even though her day seems hectic, she does it without missing a beat. Sometimes she doesn't even realize the small change in her attitude. "I often don't think of my attitude change, unless someone else addresses it to me," Peete says. Like Peete, Latrell Gillespie has a hectic daily schedule. Let's look at a day in the life of this high school junior: 6:00 a.m.- Wakes up and prepares himself for school (shower, clothing and breakfast) 6:50 a.m.- Leaves for school 8:00 a.m.- School starts 2:28 p.m.- School ends
4:30 a.m-Wakes up and gets ready for school
2:30 p.m-3:30 p.m.- After school commute
6:45 a.m.-Leaves for school
4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.- Part-time job
8:00 a.m.- School starts
9:45 p.m.- Arrives at home
2:28 p.m.-School ends
10:15 p.m.-12 a.m.- Homework, chores and sleep
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Gillespie's day often becomes very stressful, he says. He often feels like giving up. "I feel like my back is against the ropes and everything is getting the best of me, but I tell myself I can get through the fight." Gillespie's notion seems practical, but sometimes we all seem so overwhelmed that we can't just "get through the fight." Sometimes we have to step back and view the whole situation in order to get a new perspective. One thing is for sure that we have to evaluate each day at a time, and the key is time management. After all, we are still teens and we just want to have fun.
Unfrenzy your life Make a decision on what activities are most important throughout your day. Remove the activities that are not so important. You will now have more time to yourself for the things you enjoy. Take advantage of your weekends! Since you don't have school, it will be best to get important activities out the way as early as possible, then the remainder of the weekend can be valuable "me" time. Expand your social life. Nothing relieves stress better than hanging out with friends and going to new places. Sleep! Try your best to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Following these simple tips from me would definitly help make your life less frenzied. I personally have followed them, and they helped my life become less stressful. —Jasmine Rosmon
A counselor's perspective Sometimes a frenzied teen is not aware of the changes and how others may view them. Tierra Moore, a college and career coach at Best Practice High School, gives her thoughts and views of frenzied teens: Q: How do you feel about teens being overworked? A: I believe too many duties can be stressful for teenagers, especially since these are the years where they are just learning to manage their time. Q: How do you feel being overworked/overbooked affects the teen's work ethic? A: Being overworked/overbooked can have a negative impact on a teen's work ethic, because it often causes a teen not to put 100 percent into all that they do. Q: What do you think is a good solution for teens feeling overwhelmed? A: Teens should evaluate what's most important and determine what activities need to be dropped. Q: Describe the teen workload/responsiblities now versus when you were a teen? A: Some teens now have to contribute to the household financially, which means they don't contribute their time academics. Also, more teens now feel that they need jobs. —J. R.
Photo by Jasmine Rosmon
Junior Desiree Peete wakes up at 4:30 a.m., goes to school, has a part-time job and takes care of her ailing grandmother
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Teens find swagger, support in fat-acceptance movement
By Shaquana Nelson Best Practice High School
he movie “Precious” has its 16-year-old main character not only dealing with a dysfunctional family life, but also the social stigma of being overweight. In the role of Claireece Precious” Jones, actress Gabourey Sidibe fantasizes about being a thin, pretty, white blond. It is another world where she is loved and appreciated. Clearly Precious has low self-esteem that affects her life tremendously - unlike a rising tide of teenagers these days. Sidibe, 27, who has earned praises and awards for playing the illiterate and tormented Claireece, seems to take her more than 300 pounds in stride in real life and is among a growing number of women, both teens and adults, doing so. “I learned to love myself, because I sleep with myself every night and I wake up with myself every morning, and if I don't like myself, there's no reason to even live the life,” Sidibe told New York magazine last year. “I love the way I look. I'm fine with it. And if my body changes, I'll be fine with that.” She echoes the feelings of some students at Chicago's Best Practice High School. “I love all my curves,” Tiona McMahon said during an interview in May. “I am very confident in my own skin; I love the way that I look,” the 17-year-old added. “I don't think everybody should be a size 5 or 6. God made us all unique in some way.” Teens like McMahon are finding support from advocates such as the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University and the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, which has defended Sidibe. NAAFA joins the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination and The Fat Rights Coalition as part of a movement that started becoming vocal in the 1960s. Though being overweight is not a great thing, it's not so bad either. A group of researchers that included Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research published a report in 2009 that found overweight people live longer than underweight, normal weight and obese people. The Body Mass Index is the standard scale for determining whether someone is overweight or obese. Though the two terms are similar, each is different in its 22
Actress Gabourey Sidibe: "I have learned to love myself . . . I love the way I look, I am fine with it."
own way. An adult woman is overweight if her BMI level is 25 to 29.9. Anything higher, she is considered obese, meaning the body is carrying excess fat. A National Center for Health Statistics study found that about 33 percent of Americans were overweight, more than 34 percent were obese and about 6 percent were classified as “extremely” obese. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a BMI calculator at www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/ bmi. Citing highly trained athletes, the federal agency cautions at the website: “BMI is not a direct measure of body fatness and that BMI is calculated from an individual's weight which includes both muscle and fat.” But that awareness is of little comfort for most teens weighed down by extra pounds. Nearly 30 percent of U.S. adolescents are overweight and about half that number are obese, according to the American Obesity Association. Black teenage girls are more prone to be overweight than most of their racial counterparts, a federal report from the Office of the Surgeon General noted. Teens with pounds above what is considered normal
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The skinny on obesity * More than a third of U.S. adults—more than 97 million people—and 16 percent of the nation's children are obese. Since 1980, the obesity rate for adults has doubled and the rate for children has tripled. * 12 percent of parents think their child is overweight and at least 24 percent of them think teens are less physical activity and eat less healthier than in the past. * Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults; the figure rises to 80 percent if one or more parent is overweight or obese. * Mexican- American boys have a higher prevalence of being overweight than their ethnic counterparts. Black girls are more prone to be overweight than other girls. * Obesity-related health-care costs are estimated at more than $100 billion annually and causing about 300,000 deaths each year. * Wellspring estimates obese 18-yearolds can expect to spend $549,907 more over their lifetime due to factors relating to the extra pounds. * Nearly nine out of 10 people with newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes are overweight. * Besides diet and behavior, environment and genetic factors can play a role in causing people to be overweight or obese. * Changes in diet and level of physical activity—at least 30 minutes of intense exercise—are among treatments, which may include medications or weight-loss surgery. * A good eating plan for teen weight loss consists of a daily diet that provides enough calories - at least 1,600 - and nutrients, such as proteins and vitamins. Read the nutrition labels to check the calories in products. 'Sources: Mayo Clinic, Wellspring, American Obesity Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Agriculture
for their age and height face social stigma, being subjects of jokes and even discrimination. Health concerns for overweight and obese adolescents range from gastrointestinal diseases to respiratory and cardiac problems to skeletal ailments to emotional consequences, such as low self-esteem and depression. Mary Claybrooks, a 16-year-old student at Best Practice, said she could relate to those problems. “When I look in the mirror I see myself as thicker than a Snicker with a Milky Way on top,” she said during an interview at school. “Throughout the day when [I'm] trying to fit in desks and in tinier seats, my self-esteem level fluctuates. I wouldn't say that I am with or against me being overweight, but when I see other people I am kind of disgusted. I think that they should start ordering apple dippers instead of fries when they go to McDonald's.” NAAFA and other fat-acceptance support organizations do not think the BMI gauges the full story of a girl being comfortable in her own skin, even if it means carrying extra pounds. Advocates large and small are speaking up more as their numbers increase. “We're promoting health at every size,” Kate Harding, a 34-year-old author in Chicago, said in a 2009 Weight Loss Central Web article. “Being fat does not make me lazy or stupid.” Harding's blog site, Shapely Prose, has registered about 10 million hits since being established in 2007. The nation's fast-food culture and lack of exercise among teens are seen as contributing factors to the bulging ranks of the overweight. “I think that teens can prevent [themselves] from becoming obese by balancing some kind of diet and at least exercising two to three times a week,” said Best Practice student McMahon. “Just basically staying active.” Theresa Hernandez, a Spanish teacher at the school on Chicago's West Side, said, “I think teen obesity is getting out of control mainly because [school districts] have cut back on all of the physical education in the schools and in sports. So students are really not being pushed to perform or do any work. “When I see my students being overweight it really doesn't bother me,” she added. “I'm just mostly worried about them academically and not failing my class. I think students should be informed more on the better choices they have when it comes to snacks.” McMahon sides with Hernandez. “I really don't have a problem with teens being overweight as long as they take care of themselves and remain healthy,” the teen said. 23
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SEXTING Texting can send the wrong message for teens By Shaquana Nelson Best Practice High School
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After reporting this story, Illinois instituted a new law that states minors who are involved in distributing lewd images of another minor using a computer or cellphone are subject to adjudication or supervision. A minor found to be in need of supervision may also be order to receive counseling or to perform community service.
exting has become the primary way for teens to communicate, but few are aware of the downside. Some teens say that they text because it’s faster and easier than talking on the phone. Others say they text out of habit or to chat with friends during class without getting caught. Tiona McMahon, a 17-year-old student at Chicago’s Best Practice High School who texts without even looking down at the keypad, says, “My [talk] minutes aren’t free and I think that I can express myself better [using texts].” She adds: “It’s fun and easy . . . talking on the phone is boring.” But it’s not all fun, according to family practice physician Jane Sadler of Baylor Medical Center in Garland, Texas. Sadler, who spoke to this reporter via the Internet, also says, “Texting too much may cause arthritis and you might need thumb joint surgeries in the future.” Back soreness is also caused by poor posture while texting. Some students report that texting affects their concentration in school or can cause emotional distress (some students use text to harass or bully classmates). Sleep deprivation, exhaustion and repetitive stress injuries can be caused by texting. In fact, according to a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, young people ages 8 to 18 are devoting an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to daily media use (watching TV, playing video games, using a computer and cell phones), or about 53 hours a week, up an hour from five years ago. People who own a cell phone are consistently getting younger. A survey released this past December by the Pew Research Center found that 58 percent of 12-year-olds own a cell phone, up drastically from just 18 percent in 2004. The Pew Research Center did a survey in 2004 and found that 18 percent of 12-year-olds owned a cell phone, while in its 2009 survey
the number went up drastically to 58 percent. According to Pew, teens are using and misusing cell phones as part of their sexual interactions. The main concern is with “sexting,” the sharing and forwarding of sexually suggestive nude images by minor teens. Pew also states that 15 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have received nude images over their cell phones, while 4 percent have sent explicit photos. A 17-year-old female student at Best Practice says she “sexts” with her boyfriend at least five times a week. “I’m not ashamed to say that I sext . . . I think sexting should be only between me and my boyfriend. It shouldn’t be shared with anyone so I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal.” Some city officials don’t agree. Law enforcement and district attorneys have begun prosecuting teens who created and shared nude images. Last year in Pennsylvania 17 students, who were either pictured or found with provocative images in their cell phones, just avoided felony child pornography charges by entering a mandated counseling program, according to MSNBC. com. And worse, one incident in Florida left 18-year-old Phillip Alpert listed as a registered sex offender for the next 25 years after he was convicted of sending nude images of his 16-year-old girlfriend to family and friends after an argument. So be aware when you text; and stop that sexting!
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Breaking up is hard to do...so text it
OMG! Srry its ovr
By Haley Ferguson King College Prep
rry its ovr. Imagine that your BF or GF sent you a text like that. You would probably be angry and a bit hurt. If you think it only applies to texting freaks, you are wrong. People, especially teens, are texting more than they are talking. A recent Pew Internet & American Life Project report found that 1 in 3 teens send 100+ text messages per day. “Text messaging and especially text message breakups have gotten completely out of control,” says Gina B., who writes the G Spot advice column in the Chicago Tribune’s Red Eye. Technology has brought us to an era of convenience. You can do or find virtually anything online if you have a cell phone. According to the Pew report, 84 percent of teens use their phone to take pictures, 27 percent use their phones to go online, and 23 percent use them to go on social networking sites. Teens have so many options on their phones that they use them for everything: surfing the Web, texting and now instant dumping. All it takes are a couple of seconds and the push of a button, and you can break up with someone from almost anywhere in the world without having to see his or her face. Text dumping is a growing phenomenon but like everything it has its pros and cons. A plus—depending on whether you are the dumper or dumpee—includes no faceto-face confrontations. A downside is that they will feel hurt and disrespected and they might never forgive you. They also might tell their friends who will tell their friends, until before you know it you are known as the person who dumps people via text. “People in their teens and 20s feel more comfortable using a text message to communicate something serious than having to confront someone,” Delly Tamer, chief executive of the online wireless retailer LetsTalk.com, tells Reuters. “ It is instant gratification—and delayed mortification. At some point they will have to yell at each other.” Some people don’t realize the consequences of text breakups until it’s too late. Most likely your GF or BF will be
super angry with you. A survey by Yahoo! Personal found that 28 percent of the participants thought breaking up via text is the worst way to end a relationship. It can damage your reputation. “You should have the guts to tell your partner yourself or you shouldn’t be in a relationship,” says Amira Collier, 15, a freshman at Whitney Young College Prep. “It shows lack of courage if you can’t break up with someone to his or her face,” adds Lauryn Daniels, a freshman at Kenwood Academy. Not all teens, especially boys, think a text breakup is a bad thing. “Breaking up by text is okay if the relationship didn’t go on for that long and wasn’t that important to you,” says Matthew Rogers, a June graduate of Naperville Central. “I’m not really sure, but when it does happen, in my opinion, it mostly affects girls.” Many teens like Matthew think new media’s rules of romance are acceptable, while Lauryn and Amira do not. Either way it is a growing trend in America and you will have to decide for yourself whether breaking up via text is a necessarily good or bad thing. 25
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minus dad Without a father, it's a tougher world PERSPECTIVES By Janetta Lumpkin-Bradley New Millennium School of Health
"Life without a father can be a pretty crappy hand to be dealt. It is definitely not the worst, but it isn't easy either. There are many struggles that can arise. A father is there to provide security, guidance, support and so much more." —From Consistently B., a website for children growing up without fathers mother means the world to a child, but a mother can only do so much. Growing up without a father leaves a huge hole in a girl's or boy's heart and can make them turn to the streets for attention. Much of the violence and problems that occur on Chicago's South Side escalate because of the lack of father figures. It is not uncommon for some teachers, employees, friends and families to stereotype children without fathers, expecting the worst. However, that is not true; children who grow up without father figures are filled with grief and anger running through their veins. Problems occur every day on the South Side of Chicago: Imagine a 12-year-old boy in a gang selling drugs on the corner or boys at school fighting and robbing people. Close your eyes and picture the gang. Its purpose is to protect and lead one another to be men. But it's their grief and anger that lead them to negative behavior. Without a father in a boy's life, that's the only behavior he can turn to. Yes, any adult male can take a father's role; a teacher, mentor or friend. But a child knows who is his or her father. If he is not there when a child really needs him, the child will replace the hole in the heart with a master on the streets—someone to look up to.
I can say life without a father is difficult. At age 12, I had my father in my life for a time before he suddenly disappeared. I didn't see him for years. There were things my mother couldn't do because she worked two jobs to provide for our family. My father was not around, so where do you think I went to find support and attention? The streets. I spent time on party lines (chat rooms) looking, searching for an older male to show me the love, attention and security I couldn't find in my father. All the anger and grief inside had led me to run away several times, not caring about anything, crying and trying all the time to have a baby at a young age just to see what it feels like to love your child and not ever treat my baby like I was raised and treated. Sitting in washrooms on the floor pulling my hair, eyes blood-shot, face filled with tears. My mind was divided: Half of me wished to disappear off the Earth and the other half wanted to pray and make it through. But who did I have to guide me, protect and truly love me? Who did I really have to trust? I love school and love to work hard. I like to be organized and smart. But I'm a child who goes to school with no smile. My heart is broken into pieces. At one time, because I felt that no one cared, I had to take care of myself. I developed bad habits to make money just to provide for basic needs. Talking to older men, I was looking for love and attention but all I noticed in them was lust. I didn't have the ability to walk away, so I continued my behavior and to accept the things men did to me. They were my father replacements. I may never have a husband because I think all men are the same. I don't know
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Celebrities who grew up with a father around (from left): Halle Berry, President Barack Obama, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Tyra Banks.
when a good male is in my presence because of my past. All these struggles are distractions from my getting an education. I have been tempted to drop out or have a baby. I'm 16 now and about three years ago I was a runaway. During my runaway days, I was sexually assaulted, raped and got into altercations with much older females. Then I would come home and deal with my mother's boyfriend picking arguments with me. I have experienced things no child should ever experience. I have put my life in danger, making mistakes that jeopardized my dreams. There were times when I so angry and upset that I displayed negative behavior. I would spend time sitting in hospitals, the doctor's office, the principal's office, police stations. My mother was there for me but never my father. I believe in second chances, so at one point I decided to forgive my father. But after I thought about it, I became angry again. How is my father going to try to discipline me now? When I needed him the most he wasn't there. How is he going to be demanding, speak in harsh tones, but can not provide for my education and other necessities? How can he step up now? How is he going to be a father after he tells his first daughter he wishes she hadn't been born? Whether the gun was loaded or not, after a family fight how can he try to be a father after putting a gun up to me. Just writing this makes me angry. My father has me messed up trying to be a father now, but when I needed him he wasn't there. That's the kind of anger that builds up in a child without a father. At one time we had a good father and daughter relationship and I noticed how I reacted toward older men. I had begun to
tell older guys my real age, tell my parents the truth and no guy could influence me to do anything. I had even started to regain my self-esteem. But that all changed. A child can go through so much in life without a father; give up on life, end up dead or in jail. I've done many negative things in my life but I don't regret any of it because it has made me who I am. I have learned from my mistakes. Now, I can talk to other young girls who are or were going through the same problems but can't seek help. I have a gift, a voice and it's all because of my past. After every danger zone I was in I'm still standing and have survived my hard times and struggles all alone. In a strange way, I thank my father for not being there. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have had the experiences that now protect me from danger on the streets. There is one thing I regret: I lost my virginity at a very young age to an older guy and didn't understand what it meant. I wish I had kept it and saved it for a special person. Now, I have the maturity to say, I was "young and dumb" and I was trying to be "grown but didn't know how." I thought I wasn't going to graduate from the 8th grade but I made it across the stage with hope. I am in my junior year of high school, making straight A's. I am an honor roll student, taking advance classes. I am also enrolled in a two-year nursing program and determined to graduate senior year with my LPN license. I knew I was living for something. For now I can say, "I made it." Education comes first; I learned that. So what if I don't have a father in my life. I made it this far. I have been through hell and back. That's how my life has been without a father. 27â€ƒ
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Perils of an ‘enumerator’ Knock, knock: Round 2 questioning makes Chicagoans mad as . . . By Karen Baena Lane Tech High School Graduate
n May 7, I found myself standing outside a four story building while a man screamed and yelled out his window. According to him, I was harassing him, and he threatened to call the cops. I was doing my job. Plus, it was only my second visit, but he would not listen. He called 911. My job as an enumerator for operation NRFU (Nonresponse Follow Up) was to track down the people who didn’t return the questionnaires that were first mailed on March 1. For every housing unit that did not return a properly filled out envelope, an Enumerator Questionnaire (EQ) was created. I spent May, June and even some of July tracking down household members. The tedious job of hunting down residents contributed to the census’ ultimate goal: counting the population. The people who chose not to mail back their questionnaires, were hunted down by Enumerators such as myself, and not everyone was eager to be counted. Census workers had different experiences, some were worse than others. “My worst experience was visiting a house where the two men who owned the house were rude and yelled at me to get off their property,” said Andrea Basilio, an 18-year-old student at UIC from Chicago. Chicago residents Rico Rodriguez and Eduardo Macz share a similiar sentiment. “A lady opened the door and her four dogs jumped all over me. It made me feel uncomfortable and awkward,” said Rodriguez. “She needs to put them on a leash.” Macz’s experiences were a little more physical. 28
Photo courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau
“[A] lady didn’t want to give me her information and then I was taking note of that and she got rude asking what I was writing and why I was asking and then she slammed the door,” said Macz, a 19-year-old Chicago student. The negativity many enumerators faced came despite the goverment’s efforts to encourage the population’s participation. News coverage and posters advertised the U.S Census and the necessity to fill it out, along with information on its purpose and benefits. However, the hostility that enumerators sometimes face proved that not everyone agreed with the advertisement. “It could be [that they are hostile] because they are immigrants or are scared to release personal information or maybe they don’t have time,” Basilio said. However, despite whatever fear they might have Basillo also feels it is important to “get counted” so that money can be received to “help run the community programs.” In the goverment’s continued efforts to count everyone, it began the second part to NRFU. On July 12, approximately a week after Operation NRFU ended, I attended a second training session for the US Census Bureau. My job title remained Enumerator, however the purpose of Operation NRFU-VDC (Vacant Delete
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Check) was to contact the same people who were previously approached by the census. This time, enumerators were sent out to verify the “Vacants” and “ts.” Once again, I set out to find respondents and for operation NRFU-VDC I encountered more hostility than before. A lady went on a rant the first time I rang her doorbell. She claimed that she had already completed the one that was mailed, completed one with an enumerator and that she had even called the regional office. Then, she started blowing her cigarette smoke in my face. "They're gonna be upset. Just by one time that enumerators go knock on their door they get upset," said Zarco. "If you're bothering them a second time, they’re not going to want to let you in or give you the information." The census is about allocating our communities resources smartly. Yet, for a while I was getting paid to go and "re-ask" people if their basement had been occupied on April 1, 2010. In 1790, the U.S conducted its first census and every 10 years since then the government has set out to count people, for various reasons. The information that is collected by the U.S. Census Bureau is for statistical purposes. For example, the number of electoral votes that each state is allowed during elections, is based on population. Funds and resources are allocated based on each regions population. The more accurate the head count, the more government assistance an area can receive. “It gives valuable info as to where our tax money should go,” said Ms. Robyn Adams a Lane Tech Counselor. The census collected respondent information included both addresses and phone numbers. However, they still created NRFU-VDC which required that many times the exact same people be found as respondents. As Zarco had predicted people were not happy that they were being “bothered a second time.” The look that I received when a Logan Square resident explained that her basement was a laundry room therefore
"Not a housing unit!" made me want to just go home and save many Logan Square residents (for NRFU- VDC I was assigned homes in Logan Square) and myself some frustrating conversations. Not everyone was rude. Some people actually responded to the notes I left stuck to their door. One man was nice enough to call and say that he was a neighbor to the apartment where I left the note and that he just wanted to inform me that no one had lived there. As the days passed, I started to feel a little creepy as I rode my bike through Logan Square, the neighbors gave me wary glances every time they saw me tying my bike up to a post by their house and yet I continued. I knocked on front doors, back doors, windows, the right side neighbors, the left side neighbors and even the neighbors across the street. Finally when I was down to two EQ's I met with my crew leader at Starbuck. I decided that was it. If I had visited those two houses one more time, I would have not only felt like a complete stalker, but they probably would have ran out of nice ways to avoid me. Not every moment of working as an enumerator was bad. Other enumerators have also enjoyed their job and feel that the purpose and small moments make up for the hostility sometimes found while in the field. “Some people are really friendly which makes the job a lot easier,” said Basilio. “My best experience was visiting this old lady named Rosario. She welcomed me in her house and was very kind and caring, offering me food and water.” “I once talked to an old lady for half an hour,” said Rodriguez. “She never has any visitors; [we talked] about life, dogs and food.” Enumerators are sent out to count, but they end up entering people lives, if for only for a few minutes. Whether the experiences are negative or positive, at the end of the day workers can say they not only helped the community, but have interesting stories to tell as well.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau
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Trapped in procrastination When media addiction hits, teens lose desire to pursue their dreams By Moracco Alexander
Muhammad University of Islam
s if teenagers don’t have enough worries or issues to battle, many are suffering from procrastination due to a media addiction that may be hard to kick. Some in society easily slap teens with labels such as slacker, loafer, idler, lazy, good-for-nothing, laggard, lazybones, slug, goof-off and couch potato. Another loss generation they may say. Many young people defend themselves by saying they are not lazy and can’t be easily squeezed into a one-size-fits-all label. They think that the adults are in the wrong. A 2003 report from the Magazine Publishers of America noted that many of the more than 30 million teens in the United States thought that most grown-ups were “really stressed out” and that it was a lifestyle they did not want to follow. Stressed out or not, procrastination from excessive television viewing and Web use is robbing teens of a passion to pursue their creative gifts and endangering their health. George Davenport, 17, acknowledges to procrastinating on a daily basis, saying he is addicted to the media, mainly TV, and neglects honing his show-biz talents. “I do rapping, I sing, I’m a songwriter, I love to act, and I do all kinds of dancing but the one I’m best at and enjoy the most is krumping,” he said in talking about his interests. “My profession is really entertainment.” But like so many teens, Davenport doesn’t pursue or engage in those activities in earnest, pointing a finger at all the time he spends watching television and Internet surfing. “I started to watch TV a lot when I found out about ‘Adult Swim’ and every single cartoon on the program is hilarious, and I love it,” he said of cable television’s Cartoon Network. “When I got a Facebook account and I saw that I could find people I knew, I thought it was pretty cool,” he said. “I’m on Facebook faithfully every day looking for people I knew from years ago, trying to catch back up with them.” “Also like if some of my current friends don’t have cell phones, we have conversations on Facebook. It’s a cool site to mingle on,” said Davenport, a junior at the Chicago charter high school, Perspectives Calumet. “Talking to my friends, relaxing watching TV and listening to my music is really enjoying, you know?”
Facebook vs. Passion For the Columbia Links story, an informal survey was conducted in August about the use of the Internet via Facebook. Teens were asked about pursuing their passion and their daily interaction with the Web chat site. The poll found they were a lot more focused on Facebook than their other pursuits or occupations on a day-to-day basis. Do you have a dream or passion that you love and comes natural? 38 out of 50 teens replied YES Do you practice your passion daily? 41 out of 50 teens said NO Do you have a Facebook account? 50 out of 50 teens replied YES Do you get on Facebook daily? 46 out of 50 teens marked YES Do you get on Facebook everyday instead of practicing passion, doing chores, or taking care of some other occupation? 50 out of 50 teens responded YES —Moracco Alexander
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Photo by Moracco Alexander
George Davenport, a junior at Perspectives Calumet, admits to a procrastinating lifestyle of the Internet, TV, music and not much else
He is not alone, according to a study by the Department of Pediatrics at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. The report found that television ate up more time than school, with youth spending 15,000 hours a year watching programs compared with 11,000 hours in school. In 2009, Nielsen research found that on average American teens use their computers about 90 minutes a day, about a third of that time is spent on the Internet or watching online videos. One of its surveys discovered that 51 percent of the teen respondents checked their social network sites once a day and 22 percent did so more than 10 times a day. Other data showed that the typical U.S. teenager spends 11 hours and 32 minutes a month on the Web, compared with a national average of 29 hours and 15 minutes. “It seems a lot easier to just sit around [because] to critique my craft takes valuable time. When I do take the time I need to work on my craft, it happens periodically because for some strange reason the media holds my attention longer,” Davenport said. “Let’s see, if I don’t have to get up and go to work, I get up around 11 [p.m.] or 12 [p.m.] and I might do my daily routine around 1. I won’t stop watching TV and everything else until about 8 or 9 [p.m.],” he added. Experts inside and outside the medical field say this media addiction combined with a more sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy. They point to the growing concerns for young people, including poor diets and increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, respiratory ailments and heart problems. Research by the Association of Obesity found that 12 percent of parents thought their child was overweight and at least 24 percent of them said teens were less physically active and eat less healthy than in the past. A separate study reported that overweight adolescents had a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults, and Wellspring, a multi-service health agency, estimated obese 18-year-olds could expect to spend an extra $549,907 in their lifetimes due to their weight. So advocates say it is in the best interest of society for teens to have less of their time consumed by TV and the Internet. When Davenport was asked if he could kick his media addiction and turn his attention elsewhere, he replied with humor. “I’m so addicted I do not even think that I can answer that right now,” he joked. “I could probably break this addiction in less than a month. Two months tops.”
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Secrets of an investigative reporter Photo courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times
Scene: Classroom at Columbia College In the hot seat: Tim Novak, award-winning
Interviewed by the Columbia Links students Edited transcription by Natalia Yarbrough, GED
investigative reporter, Chicago Sun-Times Expose: A few of Novak’s trade secrets Under fire: Novak tells it like it is
In his own words:
hat I do is kind of a specialty at my newspaper. There aren’t many people who do this. What I’m going to talk to you about is my philosophy on how to do these types of things and try to bring it down to a level that would work for you guys. I hope that doesn’t sound too demeaning or pejorative, but it took me a long time to get to the level that I’m at.
Secret #1: Every story is an investigative story—or should be. But every story that every journalist does really should have some sort of investigation to it, no matter what that story is. It just depends on the depth and level of investigation that you do. If you wanted to do a story on how your school decides its curriculum, that would be a form of investigation. How the teachers select the classes that they are going to teach. Do we use this book or that book? As you investigate that, you talk to people. As you gather your information, that’s the fundamental principal of investigative reporting—gathering information. You learn new things and you’d be led to other things. Someone would say this and that would cause you to ask additional questions based on some information you got from somewhere else. Secret #2: Be a curious person. I really don’t know how to tell you to be that; you just have to be that. You have to have curiosity to learn things. That’s really what the field of journalism is about. It’s one of the nice things about the job; you are always learning something new no matter how old you are. 32
Secret #3: Don’t be afraid to ask questions that people don’t want you to ask them, and that’s a hard task. Sometimes you ask somebody a question that you know they’re not going to like. You just have to be able to do that. When you’re asking those types of questions you have to come up with a strategy. You have to figure out what you want this person to tell you, and what’s the best way to get them to answer the question. Secret #4: You have to find ways to coax information out of people. You can either be nice or you can be, I don’t want to say threatening but, not nice. And if you figure which is the best way in the situation, you’re in. Secret #5: You have to be resilient. Some of the most successful people in our business don’t give up. In other words, if someone won’t give you information, keep going back to them until you get what you want. There are always multiple ways to obtain information. There are very few things that only one person knows or can help you with. So you need to figure out how to gather the information that you want. You have to not only be persistent with people, but you have to be persistent with what you’re working on. You owe it to the story to report it the best way you can. You have to do things that you might not want to do, or that people might not want you to do. Secret # 6: You have to have a thick skin. It is not easy to have people upset with you. People are upset with me all of the time. It’s not any easier even though I’ve been doing this for so many years. It comes with the job.
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Now the tough questions in a Q&A with Tim Novak: R_WURD: How did you get into journalism? Did you always want to do that, or was it something that just happened? I was in high school when I decided that I wanted to be a sports writer. How soon after did you realize you didn’t want to do sports anymore? It was never a question of not wanting to do sports; it just kind of ended up this way. I don’t work like most journalists. I don’t go out and cover things; I don’t go to events. Brenda had said she didn’t know what I looked like and I prefer people not to know what I look like. I don’t go to press conferences. I don’t cover things like that. My job is to uncover stories. The stories that I write aren’t stories that someone is going to tell me at a press conference. They’re stories I have to come up with on my own. I find my own stories. After you find your story, don’t you have to go out and investigate it? Don’t you have to go somewhere, interview someone, do something? Sure, but it’s always me and that person. Nobody else is around. Are you discreet about the things you do? Yes. Is there a reason? Is it because you hang out with the people that you write about and you don’t want them to know it’s you talking about them? I don’t hang out with the person that I write about. That’s a cardinal rule. It would be hard to write about them then. Most people that I write about do not want me to write about them; therefore, they do not want to be my friend. Most people that I write about have very negative reactions towards me. They don’t even know what you look like, because you said you don’t go to press conferences, so how do they know that it is you writing about them? Let’s just say I’ve never met the mayor, but the mayor knows who I am, so he would not want to be my friend. I do think the mayor knows what I look like, and that’s just the way it is.
Is it wrong to put in your opinion about what you feel? If it’s your story, can you put in whatever you want? Like if I was writing a story about a girl that I didn’t like and I said, “She’s just an idiot and I don’t like her” is that not journalism? No, that is not journalism. My stories do not contain my opinions. Although I am sure that the people I write about would disagree with that. Did you go to college? How long and which one? Yes. I went to the University of Illinois for four years. Has there ever been a time that you were writing a story that tied in to another one you’ve already done? Yeah, most of my stories do that. Has there ever been a time when you have been harassed for an article you wrote? I’ve never been harmed physically or anything like that. I’ve been yelled and screamed at. People have called my bosses. But nobody has done anything I would consider the bounds of human decency. Have you ever received hate mail? Yeah, I’ve gotten hate mail. You had said earlier that you developed certain skills Can you share those skills with us? Some of them might just be luck, although sometimes you make your own luck, so I’m not really sure the difference between luck and skill. I do seem to have an ability to find a good story. Can you give us an example of when you were walking down the street and just found a story? The most successful observation story that I’ve had was that I observed a truck parked by my house every day for about 10 years. During those 10 years I always figured I would eventually write about it. And finally one day I said, “I need a story and I think it’s time to do the truck.” So I started to investigate that truck and I found 400 more trucks like it across the city. I spent a long time on that story and when it was over 48 people had gone to prison. And all that was from an observation. How do you feel about stories saying, “sources say…”? Are you that source? No, I’m never that source. I actually try not to use those types of things. It can sometime get in the way of the story and have people thinking, “Who’s saying this?” Is it hard to write those long papers for college? It gets easier. 33
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A place to live and thrive—for now—and it’s not on the streets By Rasheena Greer
New Millennium School of Health
any people think being homeless is living on the streets, asking people for money, or even being dirty. In these difficult economic times, I want to introduce you to the new look of homelessness, where it's not about being without a home, but about getting help when your guardians can't provide for you while you are attending school. I attend New Millennium School of Health on Chicago's South Side. My mother has been struggling during my entire three years of high school. I applied for "The Homeless Program" when things became too difficult and I was required to move in with my grandmother. I am not without a home. In my first year of high school, my mom had a job and I was living my life. While living with my mother, I encountered problems that took control of my life. I had to move in with my grandmother who no longer provided for my school needs. I talked to my counselor and she told me about the federal homeless program. For the last two years, the homeless program has helped me accomplish my goals and pay for items that I couldn't afford. The program is open to students who don’t stay at home with a guardian or parent, or for students whose guardian can no longer adequately provide for them. Participating students have to come to school on time and earn good grades; in other words, be ready to get an education. The program helps students to stay focused on school and not on their financial needs. A student's success in school is linked to the home environment, said Mary Ellen Carson, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services. Carson made the comment in spring 2009 while announcing a $3 million initiative to aid homeless students. By the end of the 2008 school year, 10,642 Chicago Public Schools students were expected to be reported as homeless, according to the Chicago Tribune. “It is the district's responsibility to identify them… .Because the families may not see themselves as homeless,” Predonna Roberts of the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education, told the Tribune. In spite of the difficulties, the school systems work 34
homeless with families to find a way to get help. Some families are eligible even if they double up with other families. The schools’ main focus is to keep students in school regardless of their financial needs. The federal McKinneyVento Homeless Assistance Act seeks to identify homeless students and offer assistance such as acquiring clothing, school supplies and transportation. As a student and child enrolled in a homeless program, I am proud to say that I encourage students and families going through hard times trying to provide for their children to call and fill out an application for the homeless program. The program provides bus cards for students and waives school fees for activities. Students don’t have to worry about other students and people knowing or having any knowledge about them being in the homeless program, because it is kept confidential. I am Rasheena Greer, a student in need—not someone they will call homeless.
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A publication funded by the McCormicK Foundation and the Dow Jones News Fund
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Welcome. We hope you enjoy reading stories from our multimedia site, “From the Roots Up,” which features the work of Chicago high school student participants in the Dow Jones News Fund reporting academy. This year’s five-week program explored community journalism – reporting that focuses on the news, issues and interests of a specific community. Today, community journalism has been rebranded as “hyperlocal” reporting, with new sites emerging that return to this tradition so deeply rooted in journalism’s history. Our work zeroed in on three Chicago communities: Pilsen, home to a large Mexican-American population; Bronzeville and overlapping areas, where AfricanAmericans migrated from the South in the early 1900s; and Chinatown, where numerous Chinese immigrants have settled for decades. We reported on organizations and individuals working to make positive change within the communities; the businesses that are part of their economic hub; issues, such as violence, which can take a heavy toll on the neighborhoods; and the arts and culture that continue to bind them. To read more, view our videos and page through our photo galleries made during the summer of 2010, visit our site: www.From-the-Roots-Up.org 36
The facts about Bronzeville, Pilsen and Chinatown: Many famous people resided in the neighborhood of Bronzeville, including Andrew "Rube" Foster, founder of the Negro National Baseball League; Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman pilot; Gwendolyn Brooks, famous author and first African-American recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and Louis Armstrong, the legendary trumpet player and bandleader. The Bronzeville Children's Museum is the first and only African-American children's museum in the country. Pilsen was originally a German and Irish community until the 1950s when Mexican immigrants became predominant. The National Museum of Mexican Art is now the largest Latino cultural organization in the U.S., as well as the only Latino museum accredited by the American Association of Museums. The "Chinese in America" mural located at the Chinatown Square, describing the history of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. as well as Chinese cultural beliefs, contains 100,000 individually cut pieces of hand-painted glass from China made specifically for the mural. The Chinese and the White Sox arrived in Armour Square, an area including Chinatown, around the same time. —Compiled by Bushra Kabir Sources: Encyclopedia of Chicago ,Explore Chicago
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the st ous er and st ntry.
l the he no o eums.
By Jeffrey Joseph Northside College Prep High School
link and you might walk right past it. If you do, what you’ll be missing is a vibrant radio station located in the heart of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Radio Arte, 90.5 on the FM dial, broadcasts from a nondescript building on the corner of 18th Street and Blue Island. The only thing, besides the sign on the front door, which hints at the life within is a brightly hued mural about immigration located on the side of the building. Radio Arte is a Spanish and English language radio station that primarily serves Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods, including Pilsen and Little Village. Despite this, the station still attracts listeners from around the world who are interested in the unique perspectives it provides.
“…Online we’ve found that people all over the country are listening,” said Adriana Gallardo, journalism and media training program director at the station. “In Latin American countries, too, we find that people who are interested in Chicago and Latinos will tune in because they hear there is a show at 6 o’clock that is talking about what is going on in Chicago this week, which is something that they might not be able to get otherwise.” One of the primary things that make Radio Arte different from other stations in Chicago is that it features programming created and produced by youth. The station also features alternative music ranging from rock to electronica to urban. Many of Radio Arte’s students found out about the station through word of mouth, as it has been around for about 13 years now. The station also goes into local high schools to recruit, and it promotes its program online and on the air. Competition to get into the station’s radio program is fairly stiff, with about 300 students applying yearly for approximately 90 spots. “One of my friends who took the radio program here [at Radio Arte] about two years ago told me about it and told me how the radio station was involved in LGBQT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Queer and Transgendered) issues,” said Lulu Martinez, a producer of the program “Without Borders” at Radio Arte. “And so I became interested in that.” Martinez’s radio program “Without Borders” deals with a variety of subjects related to the lives of immigrants including religion and food. Other shows that the station airs include “Homofrecuencia,” a Spanish language show dealing with issues involving the gay community and “First Voice,” a program that delves into a variety of issues, such as a recent show on domestic human trafficking. In keeping with the
Turned on, tuned in station’s youth-driven nature, students are also allowed to come up with their own ideas for new shows. “Say you want to have [a show] on only music like independent or underground music,” said Martinez, “and the manager likes that [idea], so then you would have your own show.” However, before students go on air, they have to go through three months of training in basic production including audio editing and video production. Then students are able to specialize based on what their strengths are. For example, a student might be more suited to be a producer than an on-air personality. “We are very hands on, so that’s why we stress for our students to mess with everything. We allow them to produce their own shows and come up with their own topics,” Gallardo said. “And that way they can find what their interests are. Maybe it’s something that they thought they were interested in and it turns out they’re not. A lot of it is self-exploration.” In short, Radio Arte gives youth a forum and an audience to discuss issues that are important to them. The various skills that the students who go through Radio Arte’s program develop are not only applicable to the field of radio broadcast but can translate to other media fields including traditional print journalism. These skills stay with the station’s students and even influence what some go on to do in life. “If it wasn’t for the classes, if it wasn’t for the youth training that I got here at Radio Arte, I probably wouldn’t have taken that road into communications and broadcast,” said Chris Davila, a Radio Arte program alum and a recent communications graduate from DePaul University.
A mural themed around immigration reform decorates the side of the Radio Arte's building in the Pilsen neighborhood.
Photo by: Jeffery Joseph
Radio Arte gets young folks talking
from the roots up
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Art of African diaspora
Story and photos By Bushra Kabir Northside College Prep High School
Bronzeville gallery rich with heritage, neighborhood history
allery Guichard, which displays art of the African Diaspora in a historic building in Bronzeville, celebrates its fifth anniversary in August. Though gentrification of the area has slowed with the recession, the gallery is flourishing, owners say. The gallery welcomes visitors with lovely music playing in the background and vibrant colors from the various paintings. Pieces sell from $250 to $35,000, with most between $1,500 and $2,500. “I think everyone is still embracing us,” said Frances Guichard, “and hopefully we’ll be around for a very long time no matter how the neighborhood changes.” In a three-story sandstone building almost blending in with the apartment buildings around it, Gallery Guichard, is located on the broad street of King Drive in the Bronzeville community of Chicago. African-American artist Andre Guichard and his wife, Frances Guichard, partnered with Stephen Mitchel, a collector of African-American art, and Stanley Stallworth to open the gallery in 2005 — the same year the Guichards married. Their hope was to promote works by artists of the African diaspora — and to introduce their art to the community and the wider society. Today, Gallery Guichard represents more than 40 artists of African heritage. Two solo shows are displayed at a time, rotating every few months. “Everyone has a different fingerprint,” said Frances Guichard. “Each artist has its own unique style. They can be from the Caribbean, they can be from America, and they can be from Europe, anywhere around the world as long as they have that connection back to Africa.” Paul Branton, a native of the South Side, is a visual artist, filmmaker and writer who had his first showing at Gallery Guichard in spring 2009. "It's one of the more popular galleries," he said.
“We Are One,” acrylic on canvas, by artist Buchi Upjohn, at Gallery Guichard in Bronzeville.
The stairwell to the upper level of Gallery Guichard is lined with works of art that represent artists of the African diaspora.
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"I've really been concentrating on getting more recognition, and it's been very good for that." The gallery, he added, gets both local and national attention and is trying to increase its profile globally as well. "To have a gallery of that stature on the South Side gives me a sense of pride," he said. "I'm happy that I'm a part of that." Each piece of art at the Galley Guichard tells a unique story, she added. “I think what makes any artist unique is their experience,” she said. “Whether you’re African, Indian or Native American, you’re going to have a different experience. There will be times when they will put their African heritage into their artwork, and you will walk around and you’ll see something that is representative of our African culture. At
times you’ll see a painting of how they were feeling that day, or something about love, or a beautiful person.” Within Bronzeville, Gallery Guichard promotes the concept of variety and diversity within the African culture. “We’ve always talked about artwork being the livelihood or the backbone of your community,” Frances Guichard said. “Art is very necessary because of the culture that it brings.” The gallery space is in a landmark building, she added. “It goes back to the early 1900s when the first African-American insurance company was housed in these buildings.” To reach out to the community, Gallery Guichard presents opportunities to mingle with the artists through discussions and educational programs that are open to the public. It is also a stop on the Bronzeville Art District trolley tour, which visits major art centers in the neighborhood one evening per month. “We’re very happy to be here,” said Frances Guichard, “and been very well supported by our community in addition to others who come to visit from around the world.”
Paintings and sculptures are on exhibit in the light-filled main gallery.
Artworks, like this portrait by Kevin O'Keith, represent the history and lifeblood of a people.
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To market, to market
By De-Jaune Celestine Hyde Park Academy
Photo by De-Jaune Celestine
Farmers’ market in Bronzeville hopes to lead locals out of food desert
Area residents take advantage of the fresh produce offered at the Bronzeville Community Market.
he Bronzeville Community Market was started three years ago to help bring affordable produce and fresh goods to local residents. The market was established by the Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC), a community organization that works to better the Bronzeville neighborhood. Because of the lack of grocery stores there, Bronzeville is considered a food desert. That’s an area that has little or no access to foods needed to maintain a healthy diet, but often has plenty of fast food restaurants. The market is run by William Moton, who took on the responsibility for the first time this year. Moton feels the market is going well, even though there was light traffic on a recent visit. The busiest time, he says, is early in the morning. He thinks it’s just a matter of getting the word out. “The market would be better if more people knew about it,” he says. This is the first year that the market is accepting the LINK card, which allows people who are a part of the federal food stamps program to scan their card and shop. Moton believes if people knew they could use their LINK card at the market, more would come. “We used every resource we had to get this information out,” says Lynette Patterson, one of the women who helps out with the market. They’ve had three volunteers pass out flyers
in efforts to let people know about the market. “We’ve tried getting the local schools and businesses to help pass out the flyers, but all we can do is ask if we could hang them up in the stores,” says Moton. The market offers numerous fruits and vegetables as well as tasty baked goods. Christina Yoda—a vendor whose family brings fresh items from their Amish bakery, Candlelight— says, “We travel from Indiana every Saturday because we felt a market in a community like Bronzeville, with such culture, would be sure to do well.” But, Yoda says she’s been disappointed. “This market isn’t going as well as I thought it would.” Organizers hope that time and word of mouth will bring more people in. Meanwhile, those shopping at the market would like to see more choices. Carolyn Brown says, “This is a nice market, but if there were more vendors there would be a better variety of things.” The things the Bronzeville Community Market already offers neighborhood residents are a convenient location; good, healthy food; affordable prices; and people who are more than willing to help you with your every need. So, if you’re ever around 44th and Cottage Grove on a Saturday morning, stop by. It can’t be a community market if the community doesn’t help support it.
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League of its own
By Kelly Luo Lincoln Park High School
A refuge for Chinese immigrants uo Ying De came to Chicago with her husband 23 years ago to further her medical research at UIC. At that time, they applied for visas in her husband’s name for their adult children, so that they could move here, too. But the death of Luo’s husband invalidated the paperwork and prevented their kids’ move. That left Luo on her own. Friends grew concerned about Luo as she sank into depression and isolated herself. They advised her to learn about the elderly services offered by the Chinese American Service League (CASL). “My friends told me not to be sad or feel lonely,” Luo says. “[At CASL] we are served meals, have access to newspapers, exercise and chat with friends.” Founded in 1978, CASL is a community-based nonprofit social agency, which assists Chinese immigrants in the Chicago Chinatown community. Stone lions, symbolic of protection, stand at each side of the entry to the large facility, tucked away at 2141 S. Tan Court, in the near South Side neighborhood. Luo has been involved in CASL’s program for over a year and says she’s feeling much better. Since its doors opened, more than 17,000 people have taken advantage of the assistance CASL offers. “There are a lot of seniors who are new immigrants and lack health insurance, [understanding of] how to use public transportation and English skills,” says Yick Lun Mo, director of adult day services. “We provide transportation, meals, activities, information and medical services.” Esther Wang, executive director of CASL, says the adult day services have been necessary to help the elderly assimilate into their new home. “I remember when after I arrived in the U.S. as a student, as I volunteered with friends we discovered how many [Chinese immigrants] were missing out on benefits because of language barriers,” Wang says. “Our first program was a senior excursion program. We took them downtown to see a world outside of Chinatown.” Currently, CASL offers 30 varied programs. Wang says she is most proud of their employment and training
Photo courtesy of the Chinese American Service League
Photo by De-Jaune Celestine
Immigrants take advantage of the programs offered by the Chinese American Service League.
programs, which focus on assisting new immigrants to find jobs and become self sufficient. “When the new immigrants first come to U.S., they don't even know how to buy things, how to make a call . . . we teach them how to do things and help them to be independent,” Wang adds. Meanwhile Luo, who visits her children and grandchildren back in China every four years, is trying to get her late husband’s application for their visas transferred to her name. “I have a target, I tell myself to try my best to live longer so I can wait for my grandchildren,” Luo says. It’s the services that CASL provides that will help Luo (who was there on a day that included playing bingo and singing songs) and others like her, maintain their well being. “It’s good to come here . . . there are people who care about you . . . there are people who take care of you,” Luo says. 41
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A shot to the heart
By De-Jaune Celestine Hyde Park Academy
Losing a loved one to random violence is agonizing
s the gun shots fly and the screams of terror are heard, the question that’s in my heart and on my mind is: Why? Why must I be victim of the petty violence and senseless killings? Why must I be afraid to live my life because there is a chance that I could get shot? You see we live in a time where so many minds are polluted. We know the problems, so what are the solutions? My name is De-Jaune Celestine and I attend Hyde Park Career Academy. I live on the east side of Chicago in the Chatham neighborhood. I have dreams of finishing college and becoming a computer engineer. I’m involved in many activities such as the “Praise” dance team and “Dancing Dollz.” I have lots of goals and aspirations but many times I feel as if they are not going to happen. I feel this way because of what I’m being exposed to. The things that have happened to me I feel like no one should have to face. I lost many friends this year, but the hardest death to face was my brother’s. Getting a phone call that said, “I’m sorry to tell you, but your brother was killed in a drive-by” is one of the hardest things anyone can hear. I couldn’t believe my brother was shot three times in the chest—and he was an innocent bystander! I felt like this was a pain that couldn’t be relieved. I can’t believe that the violence has gotten so close to home. So close that I feel like I’m next. I feel that because these bullets have no name. I should be worrying about what colors to wear to the prom, not fearing for my life as I walk to the store. Why should a girl like me, who wants to accomplish so much,
De-Jaune Celestine says sometimes she feels as though she won’t get to live her dreams because of random violence in her community.
be subjected to so much violence? We all talk about the violence and the killing and say that it must be stopped. But talk is cheap. When two young men were gunned down leaving a party this past July, the city proposed 28 days of peace in August. The goal of this was to have August be a crime free month. That didn’t last long—my brother was killed on Aug. 2, 2010. Calling for peace didn’t make it happen. I believe that the violence has gotten out of control and something should be done. But what? The city should have a week of gun checks. Check houses and apartments for guns. Enforce the gun laws to the fullest. Bring any—and everyone—here to help. Help!
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by Jeffrey Joseph Northside College Prep High School
Tasty food, priced right
espite having a fully operational electronic jukebox, the soundtrack that greets diners at Nuevo Leon is the clanging of pots and pans coming from the open kitchen. The Mexican cuisine restaurant is located in Chicago’s historic Pilsen neighborhood. Nuevo Leon is warm, inviting,—and most importantly— affordable. The food at the restaurant is filling and it comes in large-sized portions. The appetizers are reasonably priced and include such staples as a dish ($5) with three tacos that can be dressed with a variety of fillings ranging from Picadillo (ground beef) to Machacado (shredded steak scrambled with eggs). Another tasty appetizer option was the Frijoles Sabinas ($7/$3.50), a vegetarian dish that includes refried beans topped with grilled onions, tomatoes and jalapenos with melted chihuahua cheese. The entrees at Nuevo Leon were just as satisfying as the appetizers. The Bistec a la Mexicana ($8) was a dish that was made of shredded skirt steak simmered in salsa, served with refried beans and rice. The meal was accompanied by a basket of steaming tortillas, which could be used with pieces of the entree to make tacos. Another one of the many entrees at the restaurant was the Fajitas Nortenas ($11.50) skirt steak with grilled tomatoes, green peppers and onions, served with refried
beans and guacamole. For more daring diners, Nuevo Leon also features a number of traditional Mexican dishes such as Lengua Lampreada ($8), which is made of beef tongue dipped in egg and pan fried, then served with refried beans and rice. Another dish made of an unusual beef part was Menudo ($6/$4), a soup made of tripe, also known as the stomach of a cow. These entrees can be enjoyed with a cup of the restaurant's refreshing Horchata ($1.50). The cool drink was sweet with a hint of cinnamon and was the perfect complement to the spice of the entrees. The interior of Nuevo Leon maintains the theme of the striking murals found throughout the Pilsen neighborhood. Some of these scenes painted on the walls of the restaurant feature people in traditional Mexican attire and others feature animals such as parrots. These murals add to the dining experience and are visible from any of the restaurant’s variety of seating options which include booths for smaller groups. Nuevo Leon is a busy and bustling restaurant, and even though Pilsen is a heavily Hispanic neighborhood all types of people—from Asian-Americans to African-Americans— could be seen heading in and out of the restaurant. Nuevo Leon is a restaurant that is well suited to a variety of people, from those who are new to Mexican cuisine to those who are well acquainted with it. The restaurant’s helpful wait staff, clad in blue and white traditional Mexican attire, is very obliging in navigating the daunting menu. 43
10/13/10 11:09 AM
Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles
By Tiquiah Glenn Gage Park High School Graduate
What some call a strange combination, others know as a little taste of heaven
hicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles is located in the heart of the Bronzeville neighborhood. Frequent customers know that they can plan to expect a wait, but it’s well worth it. The restaurant is known for its buttery, meltin-your-mouth waffles and juicy, well-seasoned fried chicken. It also offers real “down South” home cooking, better known as soul food. A soul food meal consist of your choice of fried catfish or chicken, with sides like greens, corn bread, candied yams and baked macaroni that are sure to please. The customer service is great. The staff is very friendly and attentive. Once you get inside, you are greeted and assisted right away. On this particular visit there was no wait, which is unusual. After we were seated and placed our order, the food was brought out to us in 10 minutes—piping hot and ready to be devoured. I had the famous chicken and waffles dish, and my dining partner had the soul food dinner with fried chicken, greens, baked macaroniz and potato salad. We were both pleased. The waffles were soft and flavorful, and the chicken was moist and just salty enough. The baked macaroni was just as cheesy as my grandmother’s. Our only complaint was that the portions of the three side dishes that come with the dinner were very small. So, if you have a favorite side dish, you might want to get two of the same. Because of the restaurant’s location in the Bronzeville historic neighborhood, the jazz feel is definitely there, both in the artwork and the music that plays softly in the background. It all comes with a warm and cozy feeling with earth tone colors in the decor. Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles is a great choice for any special occasion or just a regular day out. Recommended days to beat the rush are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the early afternoon.
Dine al fresco at Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles in the Bronzeville neighborhood.
People usually have to wait in line before being seated in Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles.
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Photo by Han Yang
By Han Yang Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Joy Yee’s in Chinatown offers 157 flavors of bubble tea.
Bubble tea is a great way to keep cool during the long, hot summer
hen the sun scorches Chicago, it’s bubble-tea season in Chinatown. My choice for these tea or fruit smoothies is always Joy Yee’s, which serves creative Asianfusion cuisine in an appealing, modern atmosphere. Joy Yee’s Noodles claims to be the first that introduced bubble tea to the Windy City and offers the widest variety, with a busy counter serving a long line of patrons ordering the cold drinks to go. Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the early 1980s with only two flavors: green tea and milk tea. As the bubble tea craze swept through Asia, many different kinds developed. Joy Yee’s now offers 157 flavors. Fresh Fruit Freeze is a blend of fruits and ice with tapioca, chewy little balls that look like black pearls at the bottom. Tapioca Milk Tea is made of different kinds of tea with ice cubes floating on top and tapioca at the bottom. Fresh Fruit Cream Freeze is ice cream mixed with fruits and tapioca. And those are just a few of the nine categories. Taro may be unfamiliar to some visitors to Chinatown, but the Taro Tapioca Freeze ($3.25) is my favorite. Taro, which looks like a potato on the outside but purple on the inside, is the root of a leafy vegetable found in tropical
Joy Yee’s Noodles
regions. The purple drink emits a unique, earthy scent and sweetness (to me, a reminder of my grandmother’s taro cake in Southern China). The sweetness of taro intensifies in the aftertaste. If the icy drink chills your teeth too much, catch a tapioca pearl with your extraordinarily large straw. Gnawing the soft, chewy pearls will give your mouth a break until your next sip. In addition to its extensive list of bubble tea, Joy Yee’s sit-down restaurant offers a large selection of dishes that covers almost every country in Asia: Korea, Japan, Mongolia, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. New twists on classical recipes and fusions of different cuisines make Joy Yee’s stand out. One of my favorite dishes is Thai Basil with Baked Rice ($9.95). Sauce coats a mix of seafood — scallops, shrimps, and squids — atop baked rice. It can be made spicy, or non-spicy. Basil, here the Vietnamese variety rather than the Italian version, adds a fresh fragrance similar to mint. Unfortunately, the bamboo container only serves as an artistic item. At restaurants I’ve visited in China, rice is baked in bamboo shoots, so the rice overflows with the aroma. Joy Yee’s emphasis on visual appearance not only shows in the presentation of its dishes, but also the interior design of the restaurant itself. Bright yellow paint lightens the room’s atmosphere; big French windows give the place a spacious feel. Western furniture adds a hint of modernism and simplicity to the eatery. There are even big-screen TVs tuned to Hong Kong channels. These aesthetics make Joy Yee’s appealing to a younger generation and reflect the new reality of Chinese dining: While the older generation cares primarily about the quality of the food, young people in China today are drawn by the ambience of a restaurant. Seating is a bit crowded; tables are lined up in the middle as in a school cafeteria. However, the shop is always full, with enough servers to ensure speedy service. In addition to its Chinatown restaurant, Joy Yee’s has two locations in Naperville, one in Evanston near Northwestern University and one in Chicago near the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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‘Climate of Change’
By Cody Wilkins Whitney M. Young Magnet High School Graduate
Photo courtesy of the IMDB
Beautiful portraits depict people acting alone to reduce carbon footprint. But is it enough?
f the many environmental issues facing Americans today, global warming is among the most prominent and controversial. Many groups and activists across the globe are attacking problems such as deforestation and pollution, and some of these efforts are highlighted in Brian Hill’s “Climate of Change,” a documentary shown at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In the opening scenes there are beautiful horizons, sunsets and children on school grounds singing songs and playing, all as Oscar winner Tilda Swinton’s voice recites a poem about the environment’s decline. The film juxtaposes scenes showing the earth’s beauty with words that speak of its demise. The film then introduces environmental groups and individuals from around the world, and their efforts to save and protect the planet. Touching and beautifully shot portraits follow: young children in India educating their community about the detrimental effects of the overuse of plastic; scientists in
Norway preserving the environment by harvesting seeds in a bunker; and a tribe in Africa teaching its villagers to create and use solar-powered cooking ovens. These short, intimate stories are all extremely admirable. Linked by the narration they create one complete story that illustrates the hard work of local organizations making change in their communities. What I didn’t like about this film is that I expected it to be a more informational documentary. I expected it to explain our climate and its changes, and then give us steps to follow to change it ourselves, as well as show us the ways the featured groups were changing it. Unfortunately it was more of a display of proactive citizens than a call for citizens to be proactive themselves. Hill does not fully or even directly address the problems of our climate change. Unlike Al Gore’s popular documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” which takes a scare tactic approach using charts and graphs of the world’s seemingly speedy demise, “Climate of Change never outlines the actions individuals can take to stop it. It never describes how our climate is negatively changing, but rather illustrates how a few people are working to positively change it. If viewers are looking for an informational video about how burning plastics puts a hole in our ozone, or how deforestation ruins ecosystems, they’re not going to get a very in-depth analysis. Although it doesn’t teach us how to save the world, “Climate of Change” shows that there is indeed hope for the future of our environment. If incredibly articulate 13-yearolds in India are as knowledgeable and active as the film makes them out to be, and if small African villages that don’t even use running water can make their homes more ecofriendly, there is no doubt that more developed nations can also take steps toward a more sustainable effort to help the environment.
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Natalie C. Mendenhall Walter Payton College Prep High School
‘A Small Act’
Kenyan man sponsors life-changing scholarships —like the one that changed his
ne of the most compelling scenes in the documentary “A Small Act” shows child soldiers with fearful looks on their faces. In the background Chris Mburu, the focus of the film, states, “I would like these kids to be educated . . . because once you have a society that is very, very ignorant, it becomes the breeding ground for violence, for misinformation, for intolerance.” This environment has become the norm for three students who are competing for a secondary school scholarship offered by the foundation that Mburu started. For Ruth, Kimani and Caroline, winning the scholarship is the opportunity that could change their lives. The movie is set in the village of Kikuyu. According to National Geographic, the Kikuyu tribe is the largest of 40 ethnic groups in Kenya. The tribe makes up 22 percent of Kenya’s population and is concentrated mostly in the countryside. The main cash flow for the Kikuyu is agriculture: beans, coffee and other exports. The likelihood of a child advancing to secondary school is two out of three for girls, and of the two, half drop out before completion, leaving 200,000 uneducated.The dropout rate is even higher for boys. Mburu’s own high school education was funded by Swedish school teacher and Holocaust survivor Hilde Back. The “small act” of the title refers to the help Back gave Mburu, who went to school then turned around to help other Kenyan students. Mburu, now a Harvard grad, started the Hilde Back Education Foundation to give out 10 scholarships annually to support young Kenyans who would have not the chance to pursue a higher education otherwise. The documentary follows Ruth, Kimani and Caroline as they compete for the prize. The film is nicely paced and it does a good job of using flashbacks between Mburu's life and the lives
Photo courtesy of the IMDB
of the three students who have everything hanging on this scholarship. While trying to pass the KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education), the scholars face different personal crises—for Caroline it is homelessness, for Ruth it is poverty, and for Kimani it is family, as his mom is fighting ovarian cancer. While this is going on, political fighting breaks out in the country between two factions leading to 30 people being fatally burned in a church on New Year’s, Day, causing a delay in getting test results. The movie is riveting, and by the end you find yourself rooting for each of the scholars. The lesson taken away from the movie is that no act, good or bad, goes unnoticed. From one small act of generosity, many lives were changed. 47
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