True Star Junior Summer 2021

Page 1

SUMMER 2021

TRUESTARJR.COM

Jr Eeeek!!!

I’M GOING TO High School

+ LONDON & NEW YORK FASHIONS

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY About COVID

“Papa Jay”

E E

A RISING STAR

MIXSON: F R

THADDEUS

+ Hanging with KAYDEN GRACE SWAN & KHALI SPRAGGINS


TRUE STAR Foundation A MEDIA COMPANY AND DIGITAL AGENCY LED BY YOUTH Our Purpose TO INSPIRE DREAMS SO THAT YOUNG PEOPLE CAN FIND THEIR VOICE, CHOOSE THEIR PATH, AND PREPARE FOR LIFE.

TRUE STAR FOUNDATION

Our Mission True Star Foundation provides training and real-world work experience for urban youth that teaches them how to develop, create, and market digital content on a platform that empowers them to forge their own paths.

Our Approach True Star youth are journalists, reporters, creatives, videographers, marketers, and brand strategists, who work alongside industry professionals. True Star empowers youth by amplifying their voice, and making them the engine that drives its business.

Our Impact • True Star has provided on-the-job training to over 10,000 youth in underserved communities on the south and west sides of Chicago. • True Star currently provides approximately 500 jobs to Chicago youth per year.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Chairman of the Board LaTonya Wilkens Director of Talent Management, University of Illinois Business School Board Treasurer Giuseppe Commodaro JM Swank, LLC VP Transformation Board Secretary Udayan Das Loyola University Chicago Board Members Steven Bayley Associate Director of Account Planning, Ten35 Michelle Cohen Director, Innovation & Acceleration Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Thomas McLeary CEO & President, Endow Inc. Mia Nelson Compensation Amazon David Nichols Partner, EY Corey Richardson Director, Culture & Anthropology

Thank You To Our Major Partners

TRUESTARFOUNDATION.ORG

TRUESTARIS.LIFE

YOUTUBE.COM/TRUESTARMEDIATV

To donate visit truestarfoundation.org or send check payable to True Star Foundation - 1130 South Wabash - Suite 302 - Chicago, IL 60605 For Advertising Inquires email info@truestarmagazine.com or call 312.588.0100


CONTENTS EVERYTHING BEAUTY

WORLD WIDE

6 CAN COLOR YOU WEAR AFFECT YOUR MOOD 28 FRESHMAN YEAR & COVID... BY KAMARI BY ALYSSIA DUDA, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

CROSS COURT 8 NBA PLAYERS & POLICIES BY YAHMIEN CONNER, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

9 WORDS OF WISDOM FOR A 13-YEAR-OLD BY JAHKIL JACKSON, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

MY TWO CENTS 10 CAN PROCRASTINATION GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR DREAMS BY ALYSSIA DUDA, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

12 SHOULD YOU POST ABOUT YOUR

RELATIONSHIP? BY YAHMIEN CONNER, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

CRANSHAW, 7TH GRADE, SMYRNA, GA

29 CORONAVIRUS DOESN'T CARE ABOUT SCHOOL... BY ZIKERIA L. MARSHALL, 9TH GRADE, MARIETTA, GA

30 I'M SO OVER COVID... BY NATALIE JACKSON, 7TH GRADE, CHICAGO

31 EEEEK!!! I’M GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL

BY TAMIA COLEMAN-HAWKINS, 8TH GRADE, ST. LOUIS

WHAT’S POPPIN 32

ATL HOT SPOTS BY MALACHI CRANSHAW, LILBURN MIDDLE SCHOOL, 8TH GRADE, ATLANTA

33 THE MANDALORIAN BY KYAN LOWE, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

14

SOUND OFF! REMEMBERING THE CAPITOL RIOTS BY TRUE STAR JR. STAFF

34 ART BY STORY THOMPSON

16 TIME TRAVEL… WHERE WOULD YOU GO? BY GLENN HARRIS, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

17 ONE FOOD FOR LIFE BY TRUE STAR STAFF PEOPLE TO PEOPLE 18 PAPA J (THADDEUS J. MIXSON) A RISING

PLEASE LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON TRUE STAR JR. MAGAZINE CONTACT US: LETTERS TO TRUE STAR JR. 1130 SOUTH WABASH, SUITE 302 CHICAGO, IL 60605-2717 EMAIL: TRUESTARJR@TRUESTAR.LIFE

STAR BY NADIA SIMMS, 8TH GRADE, PHOENIX

20 KHALI SPRAGGINS IS DREAMING BIG BY ALYSSIA DUDA, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

21 HANGING WITH KAYDEN GRACE SWAN BY JAHKIL JACKSON, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

DRIP 22

LONDON & NEW YORK STREET STYLE

EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS DEANNA SHERMAN & J. NA-TAE’ THOMPSON MANAGING EDITOR MARTI PARHAM EDITORIAL INSTRUCTOR PORTIA KING SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER HENRY COLLINS DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER HECTOR COVARRUBIAS ART DIRECTION DESIGN AND ILLUSTRATION ANGEL D’AMICO-BAUER PROMOTIONS MANAGER DESHAUN ADAMS

TRUESTAR.LIFE TO DONATE TO TRUE STAR FOUNDATION, VISIT TRUESTARFOUNDATION.ORG


CONTRIBUTORS

Taylor Anderson Catrell Bolling

Malachi Cranshaw

Travis Boyd Anthony Brooks Zorianna Calderon Tamia ColemanHawkins

Isaiah Davis Alyssia Duda Markeith Finley Anthony Foster Kalei Guyton

Yahmien Conner

Davian Harris

Kamari Cranshaw

Glenn Harris Javeion Harris


Makiya Harris Martin Hope Jahkil Jackson Natalie Jackson Casciya James D’Auna Lewis Kyan Lowe Zikeria L. Marshall Dy’Quan Miller

Makell Nance William Robinson Nadia Simms Tanaya Smith Drevion Stewart Story Thompson Kion Tolbert Jomarion Turner


EVERYTHING BEAUTY

Can Colors You Wear Affect Your Mood? BY ALYSSIA DUDA, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

D

id you know colors that you wear can have an influence on the way you’re feeling? It’s scientifically proven that colors can dictate your mood based on how bright or dark the color is. According to the source 99designs.com, bright red, bright yellow, and neon green can make you feel more alert and will grab attention to make you stand out from your surroundings. Colors that are richer and stronger like royal blue, turquoise, magenta, and emerald green can also have a rejuvenating effect. Here are what some colors mean and how those colors can make you feel!

Red: Can mean love, anger, danger, passion, and symbolizes energy.

Yellow: Can make you feel happy, spontaneous, optimistic, comforting, and cheerful. It can be associated with sunshine, hope, and laughter.

Orange:

Like red, orange can draw attention and show a lighter sense of movement. Orange can also be aggressively balanced energy that is friendly and welcoming. 6 TRUE STAR JR.


Green:

White:

refreshed. Green symbolizes health and the beginning of wealth.

White can also mean innocence and purity.

Can make you feel optimistic, calming, relaxing, and

Can mean simplicity, minimalism, fresh, clean, and neutral.

Grey: Blue: Can make

you feel safe, relaxed, calm; reps spirituality as well as security and trust. It is shown that seeing the color blue causes the body to make calming chemicals. Depending on the shade of the blue, it will mean different things.

Can mean maturity, responsibility, seriousness, professionalism, formality, dependability, safe, quiet, subdued, and reserved. Some negative meanings about grey are overly conservative, conventional, and lacking emotion.

Brown:

Can mean being very down to earth. It can also mean stability, support, warmness, dependability, nicely established, and old-fashioned.

Purple:

Can mean being mysterious, creative, royalty, wealthy, romantic, luxurious, and calming. Depending on the shade of purple, it can have different meanings too.

Black:

Can mean being serious, sophistication, classical, powerful, luxurious, elegance, professionalism, neutrality, simplicity, boldness, and mystery.

Pink:

Can mean femininity, playfulness, sensitivity, tenderness, and can symbolize romance. It’s naturally a sweet, cute, and charming color.

Black can also mean mourning and sadness. As you can see from the meanings of the colors listed, colors can heavily depict the way you feel on any given day. Whether it is a color you want to add to your room or the color of something you are wearing, I say choose yellow or orange and be happy! TRUE STAR JR. 7


CROSS COURT

NBA Players

& POLICIES BY YAHMIEN CONNER, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

B

eing a basketball player, or just being a sports player and turning it into a career, has always been a dream. But not many people know how wrong and how terrible sports players can be treated. It's not just professional players who are getting ripped off. College players are being ripped off, too. Basketball players are often traded as if they are collectibles. They aren't allowed to say where they want to go, which team they want to play with or if they want to stay on the team that they are in. But if they get traded out of nowhere, they have no say in it. It's completely ridiculous. There are even times where players make contracts, 8 TRUE STAR JR.

end up doing way more and succeeding for the team and making billions of dollars, and won't get a chance to re-discuss their contract or get their fair amount of pay. College basketball players are no different. Colleges will make millions of dollars off their student players, and the players don't get a single dime for it. Now, I'm not telling anyone to change what they want to be, or revise their dream. If you want to go into the sports industry, then good for you. Just make sure that you know what you're getting yourself into.


Words of Wisdom

TO A 13-YEAR-OLD

BY JAHKIL JACKSON, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO,

O

ne of the biggest moments in a young person’s life is the transition from middle school to high school. At 13, I’m making this big leap, not only into high school academics but high school sports, particularly basketball. I've also been fortunate to pick the brains of some top basketball players. I asked what would they tell their 13-yearold selves and what tips did they have for being successful on and off the court? Nimari Burnett - UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA “I would tell my 13-year-old self to stay focused and continue to love the game. Don't lose that passion for the game; continue to lock in. Also have fun with it, because it only continues to get better as long as you stay focused and put in the work.”

Billy Garrett NBA G LEAGUE “I would tell my 13-year-old self to be consistent. Keep going with the game because it’s going to give you some ups and downs. Study the game, watch film and stay in the gym. It makes a big difference. This translates to real life too; use the same principals.” Lucas Williamson LOYOLA UNIVERSITY “I would tell my 13-year-old self to trust the process and be ready to work. I know it sounds cliche’ but when you’re 13 and going into high school, there is a learning curve; you’re going to have to work and be open to criticism. Take the critique and turn it into a strength. High school is a different level. The speed of the game is a different level.”

Tips:

*Take care of your school work. *Enjoy it and have fun.

Tips:

*Go hard and stay focused *Lean on those who are close to you and that can help you become a better man.

Many times, youth don’t want to listen to people who are older, but I loved hearing the words of advice. They are at the level where so many dream to be. Let’s take their advice and stay focused on and off the court, work hard and have fun! I’m excited for freshman year! TRUE STAR JR. 9


MY TWO CENTS

CAN Procrastination

GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR DREAMS BY ALYSSIA DUDA, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

H

ave you ever procrastinated about something? I can definitely say I have. Procrastination means the action of delaying or postponing something. Procrastinating is something everyone can do no matter the age. Unfortunately, procrastination can get in the way of achieving our dreams and goals. But a question you might ask is why do we do it? Well, there have been a few studies done that discuss this topic. Research done by Joseph Ferrari, APS, a Fellow at DePaul University, stated, “What I’ve found is that while everybody may procrastinate, 10 TRUE STAR JR.

not everyone is a procrastinator.” He also stated that “It really has nothing to do with time-management. ...As I tell people, to tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.” But this still doesn’t answer our question on why we do it. So I did some research of my own as to why we procrastinate. According to my very own research, we as humans procrastinate because if we genuinely find no interest or dislike something, we have


know where to start, don’t have time, aren’t sure how to do it, have become too comfortable with where you’re at, and/or are lacking motivation. All of which can result in you missing your deadline. This can have a negative effect on your reputation, create additional work to do in the end, and cause you to have poor grades.

Make a list less of an interest to complete the task. For example, if my favorite subject is science and I dislike math, but I have math homework, I would procrastinate with my math homework because I have no interest in that subject. Another reason why we procrastinate is because of the load of something. For example, if I have a lot of work to do I might procrastinate to do it because of how much I have to get done. If procrastination is not fixed it can get in the way of not only dreaming but dreaming big. Some signs of procrastination are if you don’t

First, make a list of all the tasks that you have to accomplish. Second, use the right tools. Use a calendar like Google calendar to organize priorities, and assign dates and deadlines to make sure you get the job done.

Fortunately, procrastination can be fixed by tackling your task head-on to get the job done. Have a plan. These steps are sure to help you accomplish your goals.

Use a calendar

Third, once you know your priorities, always stick to your schedule. Fourth, if you are getting overwhelmed reach out for help from school teachers and parents. They can definitely help you stick to your plan so you will be able to handle things better. TRUE STAR JR. 11


Should YOU POST ABOUT Your Relationship? BY YAHMIEN CONNER, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

P

utting your relationship status on social media seems to be normal in the digital age, especially when it comes to things like your significant other or romantic relationships. Hashtags like #CoupleGoals and others are pretty common because that's how some couples show their affection for each other. But just because something is common or seen as normal doesn't mean that it's healthy or should be done carelessly. Now don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with posting a picture of you and your boo having a great time together. Especially if it's something like a big event happening; like if you're at a wedding 12 TRUE STAR JR.

or someone's birthday party. But [I believe] it's best to stay discreet with your relationship status when it comes to social media. If you are one of those couples that like to post everything, it's imperative to be careful. I personally wouldn't be obsessed with posting my relationship and making it a big thing on my page, though I wouldn't be one hundred percent against it either. But I would also be discreet with the posts that I put with the picture. For example, if I was to start dating someone and then post a picture of us on a social media page, the only way you would know we would be together


is if we were really close in the picture. That would be the only indication that we were a couple. There would be no special hashtags, no incredibly long paragraphs; just a few sentences saying how we're having fun and that I'm glad I could share that time with them. It's not that I don't care about them, I just have other ways of showing my affection and I feel like I don't need to do that through a post. If they want affection, I'll give it to them in person. The whole world doesn't need to see it. There are some people who prefer to show affection that way. If the person that I'm in a relationship with loves the idea of taking lots of pictures and posting it on their page, I would be fine with it. But we would have to have a

conversation first addressing the situation. The last thing I need is for the person that I'm in a relationship with to think that I don't care about them because I don't post lots of pictures of them on my page. They need to understand that I'm just not that type of person and that's not how I show my affection. If they really are an internet junkie and that's how they show their love and can't help it, they would be limited to one picture a day. If they're a little more neutral, a picture every other day. But there is no way on earth I am letting them constantly update a bunch of strangers on our relationship eight or nine times a day, every day. That's not happening.

TRUE STAR JR. 13


Sound Off: REMEMBERING THE CAPITOL RIOT BLM

MAGA

BLM

BLM

BLM VS. MAGA BY KALEI GUYTON, 8TH GRADE CHICAGO

I

feel that the Capitol Riot, aka the MAGA Riot, that happened back in January was very different from how the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests went down. The BLM protests were about the police (who are supposed to protect us, but instead are killing us) and about getting our human rights recognized and our voices heard out in the world. The MAGA Riot in D.C. was about a bunch of racist people protesting for a person who lost an election.

on anything important in life. It was just a bunch of people who felt bad about someone who was not doing a good job in office and wanted him to get a second chance. The BLM marches were very important and hurtful to many people. Last summer, the BLM protesters marched in honor of the death of George Floyd who was killed by police in Minneapolis, MN. Our people were trying to get their hurting voices heard.

In my opinion, the MAGA Riot was an unnecessary protest because it was not based

Hopefully these next few months will be days of peace so that neither group feels the need to have to march in the streets.

14 TRUE STAR JR.


Racism IS REAL BY TAYLOR ANDERSON, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

I

’m certain that the government is afraid of Black people. The way they reacted against peaceful BLM protesters versus the MAGA supporters was unbelievable. BLM supporters were protesting for an innocent Black man’s right to live. MAGA supporters are sore losers who completely lost their minds. MAGA supporters took over the U.S. Capitol and practically nothing was done to stop them. George Floyd was a Black man who lost his life to a police officer for being accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill. MAGA supporters are looking up to a racist, Donald Trump, who didn't do anything about the police’s actions to help Blacks during the BLM protests. For the police to be attacking peaceful

BLM supporters instead of MAGA supporters who were running wild, says a lot about the government. Police reacted in a deadly manner to Blacks back when they were unarmed. When the MAGA supporters are armed and dangerous nothing was being done

Racism is real. Period.

What If... BY KION TOLBERT, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

I

feel that the way the police and the government handled the riot that happened at the Capitol was unfair compared to the way they handled the BLM protests in the past. Trump supporters were able to break into the Capitol building with no problem. Many of the rioters had guns with them and the security did nothing about it. But when George Floyd was killed and a BLM protest took place, police were beating, shooting, and arresting us. What it Black people were to do something like what these Trump supporters did? They would have gotten beat and maybe even killed. The

things the police let them get away with because of their color is wrong. They waited until it was too late to send backup law enforcement to the Capitol. I feel that all of this had something to do with race. TRUE STAR JR. 15


TIME TRAVEL

WHERE WOULD You Go? BY GLENN HARRIS, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

I

f I could travel back in time I would. There are a lot of things I would like to see for myself and a lot of things that need explanations. Mythology is a conversation that always comes up with my circle of friends. I would travel back to the past during the time when Greek and ancient gods were supposed to have existed. I would like to prove or disprove the theory to see if they were real. Greek mythology or ancient mythology involves a lot of things that surround us on a daily basis like zodiac signs, old names, stars, and stories. I would like to see the famous demi-god Hercules. He was known for his strength and to never 16 TRUE STAR JR.

give up during a hard task. I would ask him what motivates and inspires him and see what type of person he is. Secondly, I would like to see my favorite Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea. He’s my favorite because I think water is cool and he is known to be wise. I would also want to find out what destroyed the gods. I heard that it was because of Ragnarök, the great battle that ends the world of gods and men. But what if their destruction was because of something else? I guess there is only one way to get the answers. So yes, I would travel back in time to see if gods were real and if the stories were true.


One food FOR LIFE TRUE STAR JR. STAFF

W

e all have that one dish that you could eat every day of the week, but what if you had to eat that same food every day for the rest of your life? Could you do it? We asked a few Jensen Academy Scholars this question and got some interesting answers. If I could eat a food every day it would either be BBQ wings or spaghetti. It wouldn't necessarily be regular barbecue sauce either. I need a wide variety in order to switch things up. You can do a lot of different things with spaghetti so I wouldn't necessarily be bored. To be honest, I'm a really picky eater. The only food I eat is either my mom's or relatives so I wouldn't even be going to restaurants. I'd just eat the homemade stuff.

Alfredo Pasta with Garlic Bread — Kalei Guyton The food I would eat for the rest of my life would be Alfredo pasta with garlic beard. You can add chicken (grilled, baked, air-fried,) or shrimp. Sometimes I add vegetables like carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. I would get my food from Applebee’s and The Cheesecake Factory, but homemade is the best to me.

BBQ Wings or Spaghetti

— Yahmein Conner

Chinese Food — Kion Tolbert My favorite food is French fries but if I had to choose one food to eat every day it would be Chinese food. I say Chinese food because it's

good and it's one of my favorite foods to eat. You can also choose a lot of things to eat with Chinese food like different types of rice or orange chicken. They also have egg rolls and chicken in their restaurants. So if you eat shrimp fried rice one day, the next day you can eat beef fried rice or a combination of both. Chinese food just has a variety of different dishes to choose from. TRUE STAR JR. 17


PEOPLE TO PEOPLE

THADDEUS

“Papa Jay” BY NADIA SIMMS, 8TH GRADE, PHOENIX

MIXSON

F

or most of his life Thaddeus J. Mixson has been a dancer and singer, but now he can add acting to his resume. He made his acting debut playing the role of “Fahmarr” in the Disney+ feature Safety. I was lucky enough to chop it up with the 13-year-old rising star, better known as Papa Jay, to talk about his first movie, celeb crush and his fitness challenge book Breaking Bad Habits. True Star Jr.: What sparked your interest to become a singer? Thaddeus J. Mixson: I was always very motivated listening to my dad’s music because he used to be a rapper in Chicago which kind of made me want to rap. Years later when I was 11, I figured I could sing and I just took it from there. TSJ: Who or what is your motivation? TJM: I would say my mom and my dad. They push me to do better in life. TSJ: What was the best and worse thing that happened to you in 2020? TJM: The worse thing that happened was quarantine. I know a lot of people were going through it but 2020 [was actually] a good year for me. The best thing would be the release of my movie Safety. TSJ: What is your favorite shoe brand? TJM: I love Nike and Jordan. I am a big sneakerhead ever since I was little. My parents always kept me fresh with the new Jordans as I was growing up and my collection keeps growing. 18 TRUE STAR JR.

TSJ: What is your favorite movie? TJM: It would probably have to be one of my favorite childhood movies called Big 5, along with Glory, Creed, and Black Panther. TSJ: What is your all time favorite song and why? TJM: That would have to be Bruno Mars’ “Like It”. The music video was super clean and the vocals are super on point. It’s something that I always listen to. TSJ: Who is your celebrity crush? TJM: Since I was little, I’ve always liked Zendaya. I actually met her. And also Skai Jackson. TSJ: What is your dream role? TJM: I would like to play a superhero. I would like to fly. That would be super cool. TSJ: How did you feel when you found out you booked the role of Fahmarr in Safety? TJM: I was screaming and running throughout the whole house. I didn’t even cry because I was


so in shock. In the beginning, my dad actually pranked me and told me someone needs to talk to you over the phone. He said, “I think it’s the principal of your school.” It ended up being my manager telling me I booked the movie! I was super happy! TSJ: What message should the audience take away from that movie? TJM: Don’t give up. It’s about brotherly love so always be there for your family. TSJ: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? TJM: I see myself doing more movies and shows. Hopefully the whole virus thing has cleared up by then, but movies and even writing more books.

TSJ: What are five fun facts about you people may not know? TJM: I’m pretty funny. I like to joke around. I’m really into art. I don’t have the talent but I am very into it. I love football and basketball and I am pretty cool when you meet me. TSJ: Tell me more about your book? TJM: It’s basically a 7-day challenge to get parents and kids active and healthy and to have fun while doing it. Thaddeus “Papa Jay” Mixson is by far one of the hardest working kids in the industry, and he is just getting started. If you want to see, hear, or know more about Mixson, check out his website at papjayshow.com. TRUE STAR JR. 19


Khali Spraggins IS DREAMING BIG BY ALYSSIA DUDA, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

H

ave you ever wondered what it’s like to appear on a Netflix series? Well, Khali Spraggins sure has accomplished this. Spraggins is a 15-year-old actress, based on the South Side of Chicago with a dream to make it in the entertainment industry. Ever since the tender age of 11, she started acting her way to success. Spraggins got bit by the acting bug after watching her cousin’s screening for a movie. “When I saw my cousin’s screening I was so inspired to do the same,” she said. Spraggins has gone on to achieve big things such as landing a part in the TV show “Empire” where she played the role of the younger Cookie Lyons portrayed by Taraji P. Henson. You can also catch Spraggins in the Netflix comedy “The Upshaws,” where she plays the role of Aaliyah Upshaw, the smart, precocious middle child in the family. The Aaliyah character wants nothing more than to grow up, and leave Indianapolis. On “The Upshaws,” Spraggins has had the opportunity to work with Wanda Sykes, Kim Fields, and Mike Epps. Outside of Spraggins’s busy life, in her spare time she likes to cheer. True Star Jr. spoke with the actress to get to know her a little better. True Star: How important is it as kids to dream big? Khali Spraggins: It's very important. 20 TRUE STAR JR.

TSJ: Who is your favorite actress and why? KS: Zendaya is my favorite actress because she’s been such an icon and legend since I was born. She doesn’t care what people say about her or her skin color, and she can switch between genres. TSJ: What advice would you give to other actresses? KS: My advice would be to never give up. My personal moto is to always dream big and Spraggins has done just that. Spraggins has not only proved to be an amazing and promising young actress, she definitely demonstrates how to dream big. We can not wait to see what the future holds for her!


Small Talk WITH Kayden Grace Swan BY JAHKIL JACKSON, 8TH GRADE, CHICAGO

L

ots of kids dream of being on the big screen one day, but Kayden Grace Swan’s one day has come. Acting since she was eight yearsold, she landed a role on Nickelodeon's “The Astronauts”. Swan is also an entrepreneur with her accessory line Kaden Style, a singer, and an author of two books. Check out what she had to say to True Star Jr. True Star Jr.: How do you pick your book topics? Kayden Grace Swan: It’s based on what mood I’m in. TSJ: What got you into acting? KGS: I always had a passion for acting. I always looked at the TV and said, “Mom, I can do this better than them.” TSJ: How was it working on the set of “The Astronauts”? KGS: It’s just such an amazing experience to be able to be on a network I've been watching since I was little. TSJ: Many kids rely on social media for popularity and acceptance. What are your thoughts? KGS: My thoughts on social media are both positive and negative. Social is fun to have for entertainment, but I wouldn’t use it for acceptance and popularity. You don’t need to be popular to be accepted. As long as you accept yourself for who you are nothing else matters.

TSJ: What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far? KGS: I’ve had to accept that not every role is for you. TSJ: If Tyler Perry made a movie about you, what would it be called and who would play you? KGS: The title would be “The Life of Kay-G” and I would most likely cast me as myself. TSJ: What’s up next for you? KGS: I’m kinda just going with the flow, following wherever God leads me. As you can see Swan is a talented individual. She is a superstar with a bright future ahead of her. The world better watch out! TRUE STAR JR. 21


DRIP

Street STYLE

London to New York Street Fashions Powered By Fresh Kid Nation Photographer: Shauna Flowers

VANESSA SAM

22 TRUE STAR JR.


CHE ESSON & CARNELL


LEWIS BLAKE

MEIKA CURRY


RYHANNA PARARA

TRUE STAR JR. 25


DESTINY BAYRON

ZAIRE C. & MJ FLOWERS


YANA SAMARSKA

TRUE STAR JR. 27


WORLD WIDE

FRESHMAN YEAR & COVID

KAMARI CRANSHAW, CAMPBELL HIGH, 9TH GRADE, SMYRNA, GA

I

am now officially a high school freshman. Although I thought high school was going to be fun, it is totally different than I imagined it would be. On August 17th, 2020, I started my freshman year online. I didn’t even have links to anything, hadn’t met any of my teachers and Zoom wasn’t working for anyone. Finally, when we did get it to work, my teachers introduced themselves and made us introduce ourselves as well. The whole thing was awkward and took some time to get used to. Eventually our school announced that in November we would have a choice to either stay online or go to school in person. I wanted to go back to school because this online stuff just wasn’t for me. 28 TRUE STAR JR.

Fast forward to November 5th. I was so excited to go back to school, I had my hair done, nails done, outfit picked out and all! But when I got to school it wasn’t what I expected. First, we had to wear masks, social distance and our classes only allowed 10 people MAX! When I got there I was expecting to see a lot of my friends but none of them came, they either stayed online or changed schools. I knew it was going to be different, but I wasn’t expecting it to be like that. All in all, COVID has had an enormous impact on my social life, school life, and the world in general. These tough times have taught me a lot of things, like do not take things for granted. COVID has really affected my freshman year, and it’s sad because I did not get the experience to begin high school the right way. I know one thing, 2020 will be a remarkable story to tell when I am older.


CORONAVIRUS Doesn' t Care

ABOUT SCHOOL BY ZIKERIA L. MARSHALL, 9TH GRADE, MARIETTA, GA

T

he COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming the functioning and outcomes of the education system. The pandemic has impacted our schools because it has ruined a lot of students’ education and is leaving many behind when it comes to learning. In this 2020-2021 school year, many schools still remaining physically closed just as they were when the school year began. There is more we need to understand and think through if the students’ needs are met during this crisis. The pandemic has brought negative impacts on education as well as a family’s overall well-being. While we do not know all the exact impacts, we do know that the average students’ academic performance is deteriorating during the pandemic, along with their progress in other developmental skills. The pandemic has forced school closures in 188 countries, heavily disrupting the learning process of lots of children, teenagers, and their families. My school life experience during the pandemic has been both good and bad. The best part of the pandemic is that I get to spend time with my

family, watch movies, play games, and even go walking in the park sometimes. Although we have more family time, a lot more time is being spent on technology for virtual learning as well as socialization. In October, my school district went back to face-to-face learning and although I prefer face-to-face instruction (because it is better for my learning style), freshman year is nothing like I imagined with COVID. Things are different due to the need to social distance. I do enjoy the benefits of staying home and having to worry less about my family getting COVID-19, but I hope the pandemic is over soon, so that we can go back to living like normal. I am looking forward to having a better school year for when I go into the 10th grade. TRUE STAR JR. 29


I'M SO OVER COVID

BY NATALIE JACKSON, 7TH GRADE, CHICAGO

W

ho’s ready for a vacation? I know I am ready for a getaway and some fun in the sun! I am so glad that vaccines are available. Hopefully this will be the beginning of COVID-19 losing its grip on the entire world. I miss all the family gatherings and celebrations we had prior to this pandemic. One thing I know for sure is that I will never take for granted the ability to hang out with friends, go to a movie, or go to my favorite restaurant for dinner. This pandemic has been hard on everyone and many of us have had to deal with the loss of loved ones. However, I also believe this global pandemic has helped us learn what is really important and to cherish our loved ones and friends daily. I must say that I have enjoyed some of the changes that have been put in place during 30 TRUE STAR JR.

the pandemic. For example, I absolutely love virtual learning and I have been able to maintain straight A’s during this transition. Learning virtually makes me feel safer until the vaccines are available for everyone. I also enjoy the convenience of curbside pickup for store purchases. As soon as it is safe and COVID-19 is under control, the first thing I want to do is plan a vacation. I want to take a trip to Los Angeles, California. I have never been there before, but I am eager to make some new memories and mark off some important things I have on my bucket list. It will be amazing to do things again like walk along the lakefront, play tennis, or go to a concert. Well, until we get the green light to move about the earth, please continue to stay safe and count your blessings daily.


Eeeeek!!! I’M GOING TO

HIGH SCHOOL

BY TAMIA COLEMAN-HAWKINS, 8TH GRADE, ST. LOUIS

I

can’t believe middle school is almost over already! Honestly, I feel like I just got here and minus COVID, it’s been a lot of fun. Still, I’m so excited to go to high school, especially since it will be my first time physically attending classes in over a year. Since COVID, I haven't been able to see or hang out with my friends and that has been the most difficult part. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed waking up at the last minute and wearing my pjs to class, but staying home all day with no other human contact for seven hours is overrated. I MISS HUGGING MY FRIENDS! I’ll be going back to in-person learning in August so I’m just happy and grateful that my first high school experience will be at the actual school and not from Zoom or Google Meet. Also, it will be my first time in a high school environment and I’ve often wondered how different high school will look compared to middle school.

How big will the hallways be? What will the school lunches taste like? That’s actually the most important question! Lunch is probably the highlight of my day, but I think that’s most teenagers. I do wish we were able to go without the masks, but I know that most likely won’t be the case. Most of my friends will be going to the same high school as me and I’m so happy about that because we are really close, but I am even more excited to meet new people! Not only that, but I’ll also be able to see a lot of my friends from elementary school that went to different middle schools. I’ve kept in touch with most of my friends from elementary school, but it’ll be like the good old days when we can all hang out again. All in all, I think high school is going to be a lot of fun. I know that it’ll be challenging at times, but challenging or not, I can’t wait until my first day of high school! TRUE STAR JR. 31


WHAT’S POPPIN

ATL HOT SPOTS

BY MALACHI CRANSHAW, 8TH GRADE, ATLANTA

A

tlanta has become one of the hottest cities to visit in the U.S. Each season the hot spots switch up, but there are some that just never go out of style.

arcade games, bowling, and gravity ropes. You can even cash in the tickets you earned from games and get cool prizes. Main Event is usually open at 11am and closes at midnight. There are multiple locations within the Atlanta area.

The No. 1 hot spot to visit is Six Flags Over Georgia. This is a place that gives you entertainment with tons of rides and eateries to choose from. Every season Six Flags hosts thrilling events so you can enjoy the park year-round. The events that are hosted are Fright Fest for Halloween, Holiday in the Park for Christmas, and their water park Hurricane Harbor opens during the summer. Popular rides include The Goliath, The Superman, The Georgia Scorcher, and The Great Scream Machine. Usually, on the weekends the park opens around 9am and closes at about 11pm. Six Flags Over Georgia is located at 275 Riverside Parkway, Austell, GA.

This last hot spot in ATL is the trampoline park Rockin Jump, located at 2784 Cumberland Boulevard, Smyrna, GA. On Friday and Saturday nights, Rockin Jump offers an after-dark jump experience called Neon Jump Nights from 8 p.m. – 6 p.m. You can wear white or neon colored outfits to really stand out amongst the strobes and black lights.

Another great place to visit is

Atlanta is a popular getaway city that people

Main Event. Main Event is by far the most entertaining place I have been in Atlanta. Main Event includes activities such as lazar tag, 32 TRUE STAR JR.

visit often. These places I named are only a few of many entertainment spots in the Atlanta Metro area.


THE MANDALORIAN BY KYAN LOWE, 5TH GRADER, CHICAGO

I

recommend watching “The Mandalorian” because there's not that much you need to know about it except for some things about Mandalore. You could dive right into the series without ever watching the movie Star Wars. Although, after watching “The Mandalorian” series you will be inspired to learn more about the history of Jedi and everyone else involved in the series. “The Mandalorian” doesn't revolve around the Jedi or Star Wars, it revolves around the Mandalorian and Grogu’s journey on different quests and also some logic about Mandalore. The Mandalorian risks his life several times to save Grogu, the baby Yoda looking character. Almost everywhere they go, someone or thing is trying to kill them and/or kidnap Grogu. He has a special power that controls all forces, and although Grogu’s power is not fully developed, everyone knows that he can become powerful enough to destroy or save an entire planet.

The Mandalorian is the ultimate warrior and he is often hired to complete bounties. He is well trusted because they have a reputation for getting the job done. As bounties are completed, the Mandalorian gets upgrades on his armor. The main rule for Mandalores is that if they should have to take off the Mandalorian helmet they are never allowed to put it back on. However, some rules are meant to be broken. The Mandalorian, in the series, chose to be in his position because he was saved by a Mandalorian when he was young and unable to fend for himself. The Mandalorians took him in and they trained him to be a part of the Mandalore. This is a great series to watch. It will keep you tuned in to every episode and if you are a kid like me, you will definitely get a kick out of the “Alien” and “Jedi” storyline. TRUE STAR JR. 33


Art

STORY THOMPSON 7TH GRADE, SAN DIEGO



36 TRUE STAR JR.