Category Archives: Opinion

Your Addiction is Killing Me: Why People Shouldn’t Smoke in Public by Sophia Fantoni

If you are a smoker,  the issue is not if you get cancer; it’s when you get cancer. Smoking is absolutely awful for you, but most people don’t think of the consequences and the pain they are putting their body through. In fact, when you smoke outside you are hurting other people just by smoking in a different area. You are not only ruining your life, but the lives around you.

Smoking is not only unhealthy to smokers, but also to the people around them. For the smoker, it would make no difference to smoke in public than to smoke at home. On the other hand, when the smoker decides to light up a cigarette outside, it affects the people around them. As a result, the people in the vicinity of the smoker are now being affected just because of the smoker’s addiction. The smoker has put other people’s health in danger. For example, Quitter’s Circle, a website made by the American Lung Association and Pfizer to help smokers quit smoking, says that “Secondhand smoke–whether it’s from a neighbor’s burning cigarette or from a cigarette outside your window–has shown to have instant effect on the cardiovascular system of nearby individuals.” Therefore, the same is true when you breath in smoke wherever you go. Just by breathing in cigarette smoke your health is slightly impacted. When I walk by a smoker, and smell the vile smell of cigarette smoke, my head starts to throb and I become nauseous. That feeling stays with me for a few hours, making my day less enjoyable than it should have been. This proves that just because of an addiction someone else has it’s affecting people in our everyday lives.

Some have thought that when people smoke it won’t affect other people unless they are in an enclosed area, like a room. And yet, they are wrong. If someone is smoking outside or in an enclosed area the people around the smoker are still being affected. In fact, just by being in the same room as a smoker, it will affect you more because the smoke will stay in the room for a while forcing you to breath in smoke. But nevertheless, when you are outside it still is affecting you, because you are still breathing in the smoke. Consequently, breathing in cigarette smoke will affect your cardiovascular system.

At the same time, smoking in public can make a new smoker out of someone else. In fact, if an adolescent sees someone smoke–most kids see people smoke almost everyday wherever they go–they may think it’s okay for them to do just the same. They will think it’s okay to smoke and won’t know the consequences of their actions and what will happen in the long run. For example, Tobacco-Free Kids, an organization that has been working for 20 years to prevent kids from smoking, says that “Kids are more susceptible to cigarette advertising and marketing than adults. 83.4 percent of youth smokers (12-17) prefer Marlboro, Newport, and Camel (the three most heavily advertised brands), while only 61.1 percent of smokers (26 or older) prefer these brands.” This fact demonstrates how kids are being sucked into the smoking world. They see smoking as a cool thing to do and think that they should give it a try. Furthermore, kids are being attacked by cigarette brands. The brands are trying to draw them in, knowing that the kids are more likely to be influenced than adults. The advertisers are first drawing the kids in, but when kids see people smoking almost everyday, it makes it more enticing. As a result, more and more kids are being sucked into the habit of smoking because of what they see in public and on the media.

Lastly, it is like smokers are at war with society using their litter as weapons.  In fact, cigarettes have many things in common with weapons; weapons hurt people, are dangerous, leave bullet shells on the ground (like leaving cigarette butts on the ground), and leave smoke in the air. When smokers are done smoking they just leave their cigarette butts on the ground. The world is not their ashtray. Smokers can’t just drop their weapons (cigarette butts) on the ground like it doesn’t matter. It does matter! When I am walking in New York, I can’t help but notice the cigarette butts that cover the street. I mean they really aren’t that hard to miss. Every step I take, I step on a part of a weapon. It’s like they are part of the sidewalk. Like they are supposed to be there. In my eyes I see the ground as if it is a battlefield covered in debris left from weapons after war. Hence, cigarette butts are slowly covering and destroying planet earth’s surface. The beautiful green plants and the magnificent oceans are being turned into people’s ashtrays, contaminated by these weapons. Therefore, smokers are at war with the places where they live and are contaminating the society around them.

When smokers smoke in public they are not only affecting themselves, but the people around them, planet earth, and children. Stop smoking in public and the world will become a better, safer place.

Animals Have a Soul, Don’t Put Them In Your Bowl: Why People Shouldn’t Eat Meat by Catherine Houde

“If you were stranded on an island, and to survive you had to eat meat, would you?” I have been asked this question in my life more times then I can remember, and my answer is yes. Humans would do almost anything to survive in a foreign and dangerous place. My question for you is, if you lived in a place where you didn’t have to harm innocent animals to survive and be healthy, would you choose not to eat them? For most meat eaters out there I’m guessing that the answer is no. Most people eat meat because they think it tastes good, but at the cost of a living breathing creature, is it worth it?

First, a vegetarian diet is one of the best ways to have a healthy diet. Plants are full of everything you need to live a healthy and happy life without taking the life of an innocent animal. According to the American Dietetic Association, “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” On top of that, many studies have proven that in America, vegetarians have better health rates than carnivores. I have been a vegetarian all my life, and I have never had anything more than a common cold that lasted a day or two. You can get everything you need from a vegetarian diet.
Despite this, some might say that meat has a good nutritional value. Meat has a good amount of protein in it. Although, this may be true, meat is not the best way to get protein. Things like dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds have a lot of protein also. The organization One Green Planet says ¨Here’s the facts. We need to eat foods that supply us with the nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own. Some plant-based foods have all of them (quinoa, buckwheat, soy, chia and hempseed) while others have a mix of some and not others. As long as foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables are consumed daily, you’re getting everything you need and more.¨ Furthermore, plants are the best way to get protein because you don’t need to kill an animal to get it.

Secondly, you will prevent cruelty to animals. Most people eat meat because they say it tastes good. Did you know that some animals in the US are treated so horribly that they are trapped inside a factory, in a small container where they can’t even turn around? How good does that piece of meat really taste when you know that poor cow or pig may have never even seen the light of day? How good does that meat really taste when you know an animal was viciously slaughtered just so you could have a burger. For Example, AnimalEquality – a website dedicated to animal rights-says “Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans. These shocking figures do not even include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tons.” We are killing very intelligent, living, breathing animals everyday just so we can have their meat. We have no right to take whatever we want and not care what we have to do to get it. If we were in their shoes it would be awful. Kept in a small area, being fed extra food to fatten you up just so you can be a nice big blob of meat on someone’s plate. Being raised just so you can get murdered. We should start treating these animals with respect, and letting them live a happy life as long as they should live.

Finally, producing livestock is one of the largest drivers of habitat loss. The more animals we are raising for food the more farmers expand their farms to increase the amount of cattle they can have. When they extend their property they are clearing trees and other places animals call home. Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at Bard College in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York, who studies how human diets affect the environment, says. “Now we can say, only slightly fancifully: You eat a steak, you kill a lemur in Madagascar. You eat a chicken, you kill an Amazonian parrot.” That’s because species-rich habitats are being converted to pastures and feed crops as the human appetite for meat swells.” When you take away habitats of animals their species suffer. The population of earth is going up everyday which means we have a lot of people to provide food for. The more people on earth, the more food people eat, and most of the population is carnivores which means farmers need to increase their amount of live stock. To support all that livestock they need a bigger farm, and to create a bigger farm they need to clear land. Most of that land they are clearing is home to creatures that are going to become extinct if we keep taking away their homes. The less meat we eat the more species we are saving.

Moreover, eating meat is not a good way to help yourself or the planet. Sure, you may get a tasty meal, but is that meal worth all the suffering animals and people? To get one step closer towards the goal of a healthier world, try dialing back the meat. If you can’t make a change for the animals then make a change for yourself and your health. We need to stop hurting the earth and ourselves because we don’t care, and start helping, anyway we can.

Driving into our autonomous future: Are self driving cars to be trusted? by Jack Mehlman

Control– the power to influence or direct behavior. As a human race, we often strive for control, whether it’s at work, school, or most importantly, driving. Control gives us a sense of safety and comfort knowing that we are in charge. But what happens when we give up control to computers and unreliable software? We are in the middle of a new era, one where technology controls most everything, and everyday things like cars are changing before our eyes. According to Car and Driver magazine, mostly everyone will own a self driving car by 2025. These cars will have virtually no controls except for a keypad to type in your destination. Already, we are starting to see cars with self driving capabilities such as the well known Tesla Model S, but there have been malfunctions resulting in life threatening accidents. It all comes down to this, are we going to hand control over to technology, and trust it with our lives? I think self driving cars should never be allowed on the road, and here are some reasons why…

Autonomous cars are just like any other piece of technology– they can malfunction. There are often times, when using technology, that the screen glitches or freezes. This situation can also occur in the software installed in autonomous cars. These glitches within the cars can cause accidents that can be potentially life-threatening. Now I’m not going to lie, not having to drive three hours every weekend to my ski house sounds pretty nice, but getting into an accident does not sound appealing. For instance, multi-billion dollar car company Uber has been looking into self driving cars for a while now, and still has not been able to have a successful drive. In addition, According to Popular Mechanics Magazine, the autonomous Uber cars can only go 0.8 of a mile at max without a safety driver taking over the wheel. Recent crashes caused by software failure have made Uber temporarily “ground” its fleet of Volvo XC90 SUVs. Imagine a scenario: You’re driving down the highway in your new Tesla, the sunroof open, the cool breeze in your hair. After working a long day at the office you decide to sit back, switch on self driving mode, and watch some Netflix. Suddenly, the seventeen inch screen on your dashboard turns into a TV. Unaware of your surroundings, you didn’t notice that eighteen wheeler slowly merging into your lane, your sedan out of view to the driver. Just as you feel a nudge on your side, you look into the mirror and see the truck. As you try to brake, the car keeps on going, locked into its set path. Five minutes later, you find yourself sitting on the curb of route twenty, luckily escaping the totaled car with your life. Of course, there is a small percent chance that this would happen, but there is still always a chance. This all goes back to the car’s software, and the fact that technology is unpredictable.

Secondly, self driving cars can easily be hacked. Their software is no different from any other household technology. I mean, how creepy is that? Some random stranger can control your car from his computer. Hacking into cars can present serious security threats and danger to the passengers. In a self driving car, everything is controlled electronically opening the door for countless hackers. Do we really want to take the chances? It would take billions of dollars to create an unhackable system per car! Do you have that kind of money? I don’t think so. There have already been incidents where cars have been hacked, and we don’t even have full self driving cars yet! To demonstrate my point, Car and Driver Magazine did a test where they gave permission for a pro-hacker to hack into a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s software system. From his computer, the hacker was able to access the car’s infotainment system, brakes, speed, and even steering. The same software in that Jeep is also installed in millions of other Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram vehicles. See how easy it is? And that car only had partial self-driving capabilities. Luckily the driver was able to override the hacker by tugging on the steering wheel, but imagine when cars don’t have steering wheels? What are you going to do then? There are plenty of scary things regarding technology, but hackers are by far the worst, especially when they are in control of your car!

Lastly, in a self driving car– you can’t drive, and what fun is that? While you might feel that driving is boring, In reality, the thrill of your foot on the pedal as you accelerate, or the strong grip on your steering wheel are both feelings that you can only find while driving. Not on your living room couch. Now, why do you think I brought up your living room? Well, in a self driving car, you don’t do anything. In fact, the only difference from your home and an autonomous car is that your home has a bathroom. You basically just sit there tediously staring at your phone until you arrive at your destination, and you can’t drive because you’re in a self driving car. This sounds pretty obvious but it’s true. In fact, lots of people enjoy driving, and I’m not talking about your commute to work, I’m talking about those beautiful winding roads in the mountains. Driving gives people a chance to take their mind off all the hard stuff in life, while also providing an exciting thrill. Do you really want to be cooped up in a glass box doing nothing for hours on end? Because I sure don’t! According to Huffpost, driving can release stress when you’re in the right environment. When filming Skyfall (James Bond film) Ben Collins, a racing driver, said: “When we filmed Skyfall I drove an Aston Martin DB5 across a mountain pass near Fort William before handing the keys over to 007. That car, with its yacht-like steering wheel and soft suspension, took me closer to heaven than anything I can remember.” Driving really should be treasured, not taken away by computers. If computers controlled our cars with no way for us to take the wheel, we would lose the pleasure, relaxation, and stress relief included in drives like Ben Collins’ in the windy mountain roads. Companies like Tesla can not take that away from us.

And it all comes down to this word: control– the power to influence or direct behavior. Yes, some people want cars that will drive them around, but is that really necessary? We as humans are getting so lazy that we can’t even drive ourselves, so some “genius” came up with the idea to make an autonomous car. I’m honestly worried about our future. Throughout this article, we’ve seen the many risks that follow “the driverless road,” and have explored the upsides of pure human intelligence. And i’ll end with this: Do we want our cars to be controlled by technology and artificial intelligence?– Or do we want the control for ourselves?

Once and Floral: Why Flowers Might Not Be the Ideal Gift by Isabel Xue

It’s the day before Mother’s Day, and of course, like everybody else, you want to get your mom –the most common, most unimaginative, most cliché gift ever– flowers. You and your dad sneak out of the house like two little mice, in hopes to obtain a bouquet of flowers, not cheese. After driving to the nearest grocery store, you quickly dash to the flower section, your father not too far behind you. “Hurry up! Pick one that is not too expensive!” he says. You quickly browse through the price tags, looking for the cheapest but still somewhat alluring bouquet of flowers. To your dismay, all of the blossoms are pricey, so you choose the cheapest one. Later in the day, you present the bouquet to your mom. She smiles and thanks you, only to put the flowers in a vase, and not pay any more attention to them. They die almost as quickly as they are forgotten. Flowers might be known as the most romantic gift ever, but does that status make it a good gift?

Many people believe that flowers are a good gift because for many many years, these beautiful blossoms have been a universal symbol of love, and have been known as the most romantic gift ever. Everybody gives their loved ones flowers during holidays to show their affection and bolster their relationship, and nobody puts any thought into a more unique present that comes from the heart. Because of this, flowers have become hands down the most unoriginal gift ever. Cliché and romance come in a package, yet in this case, one of those elements overrides the other. Neither the recipient nor the gift-giver would be proud of such an unoriginal gift. To illustrate this, according to ProFlowers, around 110 million roses are sold in the US during Valentine’s Day. This means that around 30% of the population buys flowers for the holiday. Presents that symbolize love should be unique to each individual person. Flowers are from a store that anyone could go to, so anybody could buy the exact same flower. Moreover, people are more proud of giving a gift that they put a lot of time and effort into. Everyone can agree that driving to the grocery store does not show much time and effort. I would definitely say that even though cliché and romance come hand in hand, it seems as if the bad side of flowers shows through more than the good side does.

Another reason that flowers are not the best gift is that they die and are forgotten quickly, yet they cause havoc to the environment. For instance, regular roses live for an average of only a week. But from personal experience, I know that flowers become a decoration on display and tend to be forgotten after a couple hours. Another similar example is from my friend, Ashley, who remembers one time when she received a bouquet of flowers. Ashley told me that she instantly put them in a vase and forgot about them. They died two days later, but they weren’t really missed. Ashley’s flower experience shows that I’m not the only who thinks this way. It is clear that giving flowers to someone is not an action that resonates in their heart. Nobody seems to really love these bouquets as a gift. So, why is there such a demanding threat on Mother Nature for these ephemeral blossoms? According to Jennifer Grayson, an environmental journalist for the Washington Post, “up to 80 percent of the 5.6 billion stems of flowers sold in the United States each year are imported. Of those, 93 percent are grown thousands of miles away in production greenhouses in Colombia or Ecuador. And it takes an awful lot of energy and artificial tinkering to keep those flowers fresh.” Flowers are originally soaked in toxic chemicals, thus making them not only harmful towards the environment, but the people working around there too. Afterwards, to preserve the blossoms while they are shipped, they are kept in high energy-wasting refrigerated warehouses and displays(Grayson). The environment already faces enough struggles. Producing a plethora amount of flowers that will soon end up dying and getting forgotten is not something that should be a problem.
Finally, everybody assumes that a girl likes flowers; a common stereotype is that girls treasure these bouquets. This causes many people to believe flowers are the perfect gift for girls. For example, nobody would ever think of giving my brother flowers. As for me, I always receive bouquets for occasions, although nobody asked me if that was what I wanted. Why? I’m a girl who should adore these beautiful blossoms. After all, everybody quotes, “flowers are a girl’s best friend.” But after polling my friends on their prefered gift, it turns out that only one person prefered the floral arrangement. So, what was a more favorable present? Many respondents seemed to find cookies and chocolate more impressive. Teachers all tell us to try to get rid of stereotypes. Presenting a girl an unsolicited bouquet is basically a hidden way of saying, “you are a girl so you have to like flowers.” If someone did say something along those lines to your face, you would be pretty offended. Everyone has their own unique personality, and nobody should assume they would enjoy a certain gift because of a stereotype. A bouquet of flowers might come with a smile, but with no feeling behind it, the blossoms are just based on a stereotypical assumption.

Flowers are everybody’s go to gift, but with a deeper analysis, these bouquets may not seem as pleasant as we thought they were. If you veer away from the flower aisle the next time you go to the grocery store to get your loved one a gift, you may find new discoveries that you wouldn’t have made if you stuck with the standard. Perhaps you’ll make her a very nice card with a beautiful necklace. Maybe you’ll bake her cookies with a special recipe that you invented yourself. When you give the gift to her, no matter what it is, you’ll be satisfied with the wide grin that spreads across her face and lights up the room. Even if it’s not perfect, your loved one will still treasure the gift because you put the time and effort to show that you care about her. Flowers may be a charming superficial decoration, but a gift that someone truly appreciates is one that touches the heart.

How Languages Tranform Individuals into Communities By Jennie Rosen

Hello, salve (latin), guten tag (german) , こんにちは (japanese) , שלום (hebrew), hola (spanish) . Languages are such a big part of this world – they can transform you. Languages can help if you want a job: you can get more job offers if you fluent a second language. Some languages can also help your English. Latin is very good to learn, especially if you want to do well on the SAT. You can also learn more about other people’s culture. Lately, people look at the news and they believe everthing it says. They blame a whole culture based on a small group of people. If you learn another language it would help you understand that culture better. You can also study abroad if you want. and you would be able to communicate with others. Languages bring people together. People can be afraid of what is different, but why can’t you be friends with what’s different then you? If you take off your blinders and look at the world in a different way you can learn so much. You should not just rely on TV to tell you something. You should go out into the world and figure it out yourself. Learning different languages is a start, and it can help you on your journey to discovering the world.

Top 10 Ways Not to get Sick this Winter! By Jenna Brandaleone and Jennie Rosen



Going to bed works! You may hate going to bed early, but you should know that a good night’s rest is all you need to help your body fight (and win against) germs!
Wash your hands…

We have all heard it. “Remember to always wash your hands!”, but we should really listen to it more often. Washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds can send the germs down the drain.
Stay warm…

Ever thought about going outside in your pajamas when it was below freezing? Maybe you have, but staying warm is a key factor to staying healthy. So just remember that next time you wear your pajamas outside, you are really just waving a sign that says, “GERMS! I AM OVER HERE!”.

Don’t Share drinks or foods…

Other people might have yummy food and awesome drinks, but don’t give into to those temptations! A lot of sicknesses and illnesses are caused by sharing saliva of another person. Even if the person says that they are not sick, they might still have germs! Just because symptoms don’t show up for two days, doesn’t mean they aren’t sick!
Be Clean…

Not only can a clean house or living space make awesome first impressions, but it can also keep you from getting sick! Germs can hide anywhere but more often than not, most of those times start outside of your home and then come into it. Germs can live in the dust under your couch or even just plain and dirty messes. It might be a pain to clean up, but make sure you and your homes are CLEAN!!
Stay away from people who are sick…

Ever have that repulsed feeling from that kid who snots all over your desk in class? I know I have. Besides the natural urge of moving away from them, it is important to know that having any physical touch with a person that is sick is putting you at a very high risk of being the snot-blowing-on-the-desk-kid.
Keep your hands away from your face…

Imagine all the bacteria that is invisible on your hands. This is bacteria that is prepared to fight a war with your body. It wants to win and makes you sick in the process. Well, you are actually helping this bad bacteria take control of your body when you are giving them a tour of all the ways to get inside of your body. Don’t put your hands on your face! These places are the grand doors for the bacteria to get inside your body.
Drink lots of liquids…

From drinking tea, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, or water all of these choices are good ones to keep you germ-free!
Meditate… It might be a little awkward at first, but once you get the hang of meditation it can be relaxing. It can keep you nice and healthy too. It is scientifically proven that meditation can make you happier and a healthier person.

Keep your body strong! If your body is strong, your immune system is too. Your immune system is all the parts of your body that fight back bad germs. REMEMBER: EVERY PUSH-UP MATTERS!

So go ahead! Try anyone of these tricks and tips and see if they work for you! BE happy AND healthy during this winter!

Pay to Play: The Problem of Youth Sports Fees by Abby Gavron

I don’t know about you, but when I first learned not all kids have a chance to play youth sports I was furious. I know I’m lucky, my family has always been able to afford the registration fees for sports. Knowing that there are kids like me that don’t have the resources to play sports makes me feel bad. My time on the field and court with my friends make up some of my best memories. I believe all families should be able to send thir children to sport even if they are on a tight budget.

Charging families for youth sports is blocking kids from learning important things including sportsmanship and teamwork, preventing kids from building friendships, and the fees create barriers between kids.

The score was 2-1. We were losing as the whistle blew my teammates all wore frustrated faces. Having arrived at the soccer field at 8:00 that morning, tired but ready to play, this loss was very disappointing. We lined up to shake hands. Even though we were all angry, there was a silent agreement between the team to be good sports, like coach always says. So, we shook everyone’s hands and thanked the referees, because that’s what we were taught. Sports are an opportunity for children to learn important skills including sportsmanship and teamwork. All kids should have the opportunity to learn these skills because later in life you will need to be able to work well with other and show sportsmanship in your everyday life. Don’t you want all children to have the chance to learn these skills?

While some people could argue that kids can make friendships at school and that, sports aren’t required to make friends, I disagree. I have had many friends throughout my life and a majority of them I made through the many sports I play. Playing sports with people for hours builds a certain type of friendship. You understand each other better. You win and lose together and that makes your friendship stronger. I can remember times I would not want to play sport. Then I’d remembered that I would get to see all my friends, it wouldn’t matter the time or day, the thought of seeing them would make me excited for practices. The bonds you make of the through sports extend far off the field or court. The current system that is not allowing all kids to play sports and develop these friendships can cause kids to be more shy, less friendly and less outgoing, the system of fees should be abolished. I believe that every child should have the opportunity to build strong friendships. No matter if the family is struggling financially.

Lastly, I feel that the cost of youth sports has created a barrier between kids. One day I was talking to my mom about sports, and that was when  I learned about the expensive fees in youth sports. I had asked my mom more about the sports fees,  she told me that we were lucky, not everyone can afford to play sports. Anger boiled up inside of me, I couldn’t believe that some kids are not allowed to play sports because they are not doing well financially. The fees represent a barrier of who can and cannot afford to play sports. I feel like this barrier will cause children who cannot afford to play sports to not interact with children who do play sports. It is sending a message of financial inequality. Is that really the message and values you want to be sending to kids?

21% of parents spend more than $1,000 on child sports. Some people can afford that easily but for others with many children the price of sports add up quickly. I believe that the fees on youth sports act as a barrier that are separating kids, preventing children from learning important lessons, and restricting kids from forming friendships. Do you honestly think it’s fair that not all children can play sports?


Homework Hell: How Homework Impacts our Children’s Lives by Allen Zou

The school bell rings. Freedom! Free from the stressful workloads during the weekdays. Freedom to spend time with family and friends… Everything is fine until I remember the homework. I puff out a long, frustrated sigh, and start to work. I bunch up in my room like a hibernating bear, surrounded by endless textbook pages, google classroom assignments, and essays to write.

When teachers assign homework on the weekends, it stresses out students. Like all the students that procrastinate, they’re gonna keep off the homework until the last day due to having a full schedule so that they have to stay awake much longer than they’re supposed to and scramble to finish the homework. Studies from the U.S. National Education Association says, “giving homework over the weekend leads to a buildup of stress during a time when students are meant to relax and unwind. The same is true for giving students homework over the holidays, such as winter break.” But doesn’t stress help you focus? Yes, it does. However, it also makes the outcome of your work much, worse than without stress. I recently watched a TED-Talk about procrastination about a man who had a 90 page thesis to write throughout a year and procrastinated until the last three days, having to write 90 pages in 72 hours and you can already guess the outcome. A study of stress in teenagers shows that 56% of students consider homework as a primary source of stress, while only one percent of the students report that homework was not a stressor. This analysis proves that homework is a major key role in creating stress among our students and children. 43% of the students put tests and good grades to add onto the stress so that it becomes a competition of whoever has the better grades. Schools in Finland have shorter school days and little to none homework, and instead of competition between the grades on the standardized tests (which don’t even exist) and grades, there’s cooperation from helping each other out with each other’s problems and struggles. This makes the students less stressful and that can help with memory, relationships, a healthier heart, a better outlook on life, and more benefits. A focus group of students reflected that a majority of them said that their homework load led to sleep deprivation, among other health problems. The researchers concluded that the massive amount of homework impacted the health of the teenagers through headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems. Weekends aren’t just for de-stressing, it’s also for relaxing and spending time with loved ones.

We all know adults who work usually get the weekends off to relax, but it’s not the same for students. Adults get time off to spend with their family only to find out that their kids are up in their rooms or at the library doing homework or studying. They may not be working in school, but they would be working in their rooms or at the library. I believe that weekends should be a time to relax and spend the time with friends and family. Kids should be kids, spending their time being filled with creativity and wonder, not moping with frustration around because of their homework. Alfie Kohn, author of “The Homework Myth”, told the Huffington Post, “It’s one thing to say we are wasting kids’ time and straining parent-kid relationships, but what’s unforgivable is if homework is damaging our kids’ interest in learning, undermining their curiosity.” The amount of homework schools give is too much, and our relationships with their own families are being damaged due to the lack of time spent together! The piles of homework distract students from their real lives – lives of creativity, fun, adventure. Homework sucks away all of that. Survey data shows that the students are “not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills,” according to the researchers. Due to the heaviness of the homework load, students are forced to drop activities like sports, time with friends or family, and pursue hobbies they enjoy. In high performing schools, too much homework can reduce their times to foster skills of personal responsibilities, the analysts concluded. “Young people are spending more time alone, which means less time for family and few opportunities to engage in their communities.” This says that their time focused on homework, can be turned and used to spend time with friends and family and their personal hobbies. Weekends are also to unwind and breathe a bit.
Weekends are not just for fun, it’s also to slow down and take a break from schoolwork and breathe. It gives us more time to sleep and that alone can influence our entire day or even the entire week. The time assures students that there’s time and no need to rush all the time. In my school, we have C.U.B. weekends which stands for Catch Up and Breathe, it happens every other week. As a student, I can tell you that I look forward to it. Every other Friday, I start to pack my backpack with binders, folders, books, and I complain about the homework, but I realize with a sense of relief, that it was a C.U.B. weekend and I happily put everything back. I could finally spend some time without schoolwork. I’m not saying schoolwork is bad, I’m just saying that to have an excessive amount is bad. Kids in Finland, the country with the best schools and education system, have NO homework, and they use their free time to use their imagination, to have a sense of wonder and creativity. With long breaks students are given time to relax and take in all the information given to them. In the US, we have class after class. Only sometimes do we go out for a break after lunch, and it’s usually not longer than 5 minutes. The schools in Finland don’t just care about the academics, they care about the entire well being. They care about what they do in their free time, about their habits etc. Of course, you can argue that homework is to remember what you learned in school that day, but it really doesn’t help. In Finland kids don’t have homework altogether and they still have the best education system in the world. Do you want to know why? Because they want their students to go out into the real world and explore without stress or anything like that. This makes them remember things a lot easier. Have you ever had to do something under stress and you couldn’t do it, but you could do it when you’re practicing or reciting? This is pretty much the same thing.

This goes the same for a lack of sleep. If teenagers sleep for less than 8.5 hours of sleep (the recommended amount of sleep for a teenager), they can have some major side effects in their heads throughout the day. Lightheadedness, tiredness, being unaware of the current situation, dizziness all results from sleep deprivation. Studies prove that sleep deprivation can influence your ability to pay attention, creativity, abstract thinking, decision making, remembering long term memories, and overall mood and motivation. All of these are required during school and without these, you wouldn’t be able to function the way humans are supposed to. Although sleep is one of the highest priorities for learning, it’s the thing that is most lacking in students. One study showed that less than 15% of the teenagers get at least 8.5 hours of sleep each night. To balance out the lack of sleep, teens sleep a lot more on the weekends which takes even less time from doing homework. A survey given to 1,000 k-12 teachers has shown that students are now spending upwards of up to 17.5 hours a week on homework if they typically have 5 classes with different teachers. This is around 3.5 hours a 5 day week for each teacher and 2.5 hours in a full week in high school, in middle school, it’s about 3.2 hours a 5 day week and 2.3 a full week, and in elementary school, 2.9 hours a 5 day week and a bit less than 2.1 hours a day in a full week. By comparison, a 2011 study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that in 1994, only 39% of 17 year olds said that they did at least an hour of homework each day. Also, the National PTA recommends that there should be 10-20 minutes of homework per night in the first grade, and add an additional 10 minutes per grade level. That means a senior in high school, should be doing roughly 120 minutes (2 hours) of homework a day, but may do more depending on certain courses they take.

Due to this abundance of stress and lack of sleep, socializing, exercising and extra curricular activities. Homework is the number one priority in students’ minds and can really mess up the body and habits. Teachers can relieve the students and ease their studies by giving time in class to do work, give less homework and stick to the recommended amount, or not to give homework on the weekends. Although students are only 20% of our population, they are 100% of our future.

The Scam of Student-Athletes by Michael Long

In 2010, the NCAA(National Collegiate Athletic Association) and Turner/CBS Sports agreed to a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal for the broadcast rights to March Madness, the Division I men’s basketball tournament. Today, the NCAA makes nearly a billion dollars per year from the TV agreement, ticket sales, and other sources like donations. According to NCAA’s official website, more than 90% of this money is distributed to “support NCAA schools, conferences and nearly half a million student-athletes.” The word ‘support’ is used very vaguely here, because really, a lot of that 90% is used for staff salaries. And what about the other 10%? Shouldn’t the remaining $90,000,000 go to the student-athletes who make the industry possible?

It’s about time college student-athletes get paid. They spend countless hours working out and striving to perfect their game, all while keeping up with their classes and social life. Paying them would also teach them how to manage money and prepare them for when they get a job. Their coaches get paid millions. The colleges that they play for earn tons and tons of revenue from ticket sales, selling merchandise, vending at games, and sponsors. The athletes are the heart of the NCAA and the NCAA would be nothing without them. But what do they get out of the billion dollars the NCAA makes a year? Nothing. It’s about time they get paid.

Playing a sport while juggling classes is exhausting. The typical day of a student-athlete goes a little something like this; You wake up at 5:30, only getting about 5 hours of sleep, feeling a bit tired. Then you rush off to an early morning practice at 6:30. After that, it’s time for classes. You can barely keep yourself from falling asleep in class. Now, after 4 hours of classes, it’s time for an afternoon workout. After that workout, you’re exhausted. Now you have to get cracking on your pile of homework. Now you’re absolutely whupped and fall asleep right when you hit your pillow at around midnight. Playing a sport takes up so much time of a student-athlete’s day, it’s like they are working a full-time job. A job of 40 hours a week is considered a full-time job. College football players can spend 70-80 hours a week practicing in August, and about 50 hours a week when the season and classes start up. Some people would say that the college athletes chose to play a sport and they knew the commitments that come with it. But those commitments take effort and that effort deserves to be paid. College athletes are spending more time for their sport than adults at a full-time job, yet college athletes get paid nothing compared to their thousands/millions.

In the future, you have to be able to manage your money. Paying college athletes would give them experience in having a substantial amount of money, and that experience would help them immensely when they get a job or a spot on a professional team after college. Take Johnny Manziel for example; he won the Heisman Award in 2012, the annual award given to the most outstanding player in college football. His future was looking very bright and was drafted 22nd overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2014 NFL Draft. Soon after he was drafted, Manziel started doing drugs and partying a lot. He got in a lot of trouble and was later indicted for hitting his girlfriend in the ear, rupturing her eardrum. The Cleveland Browns released him from the team, and his agent even dropped him as a client. If he was paid in college, he would have been more prepared for life after college. Sure, some would say that if Manziel was paid in college he would just do the same and get in trouble in college. Maybe that’s true and he would have gotten in trouble in college, but he would have learned from his mistakes, and he wouldn’t make those mistakes during his professional career. Now, his career is basically over, but I feel that he could have perhaps learned his lesson in college and been more prepared and mentally ready for his life after college.

College coaches have one of the highest-paying jobs. According to Business Insider, Jim Harbaugh, the head coach of the University of Michigan Division I men’s football team, makes $9,000,000 a year. In fact, the highest paid public employee in 40 of the 50 U.S. states is the state university’s head football or basketball coach. Colleges pay coaches like professional teams pay athletes; the better they are, the more they are paid. But the coaches’ skill level depends a lot on how the players perform. The coach and the players work together to become as good as they can. The coaches even get bonuses according to how well the team does. But the players are also a large factor in how well the team does, it’s not just the coach. Yet, the players get paid nothing for playing an arguably larger role than the coach does in how well their team performs, while the coaches get paid millions for merely directing players on the sidelines. Yeah, some people would say that coaches are super important and could turn a whole team around by his/herself, but that has rarely happened.

March Madness. The name is very fitting. Every March, the NCAA holds the Division I men’s basketball championship, or, more commonly known as the March Madness tournament. The NCAA recently agreed to a $10.8 billion, 14 year deal with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting for TV rights to the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. 10.8 BILLION dollars. Colleges also make around $120 million a year from ticket sales, vending at games, and selling merchandise. The players are the ones playing in the games that make all of this money. They make the NCAA work, and without the athletes, they wouldn’t make any money. The student-athletes are the heart of the industry, and debatably the most important people in it. They definitely deserve to get paid at least some of that money. According to the NCAA, some of the money actually goes to athlete scholarships and school improvements, but a lot of the money still goes to paying staff and employees.

At the end of the day, college athletes just want to play sports for their love of the game. They don’t think too much about getting paid, they’re just trying to do the best they can in school and doing what they love to do. But should they care about getting paid? The colleges that these student-athletes play for and represent make millions off of them. Nearly all of the people involved in the team are paid except for the athletes themselves. This isn’t right. Let’s change this and finally reward the student-athletes that are the heart of the NCAA and the ones that make it all possible.

Vile Victoria’s Secret: Why This Company is Tearing Down Our Society by Meredith Prince

Vile Victoria’s Secret: Why This Company is Tearing Down Our Society

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show: one of the most popular fashion shows in the nation. Millions of people throughout the country flick on their T.V. and wait intently for the different angels wearing fluorescent wings and stilleto kitten pumps to strut down the glamorized runway. Excitement pours out of people like sunshine through fine white linen. Every fiber in their bodies vibrates with anticipation to view the variety of outfits and models. Unfortunately, they aren’t going to be seeing much diversity within those models. Of all 14 angels, 12 are white, 14 are tall, 14 are skinny, and 14 have a “perfect” hourglass figure. Thousands of girls’ faces droop, filled with dismay, desolation and despondency. The giddiness they once had has managed to slip through every piece of them, and has been replaced with pure disappointment. Victoria’s Secret only glamorizes one type of body, making girls insecure about themselves, creates offensive campaigns, all making it a bad influence.

Victoria’s Secret only carries one type of model: your typical gorgeously tall, ultra lean woman with a busty physique. The majority of them don’t weigh over 95 pounds, The average 14 year old girl weighs 105 pounds. When a late teen/mid twenty model weighs less than you do, it doesn’t make you feel so great about yourself. This makes girls look down at the flashing numbers on their scale and fill with disappointment and sadness.Victoria’s Secret only makes one type of body seem “beautiful”, and totally ignores the fact that other body types exist and that all body types are beautiful. Although Victoria’s Secret models and angels all have the same figure, some people can see this as a good thing. A recent survey from She Knows found that women were, unsurprisingly, more likely to buy a product if they liked how women were portrayed in its advertisements. The company knows this, which is why they keep their ‘perfect’ models to appeal to the most females as they can. This does make sense, but don’t you think they will appeal to a wider audience if they widen the types of bodies they support? Besides, it’s the 21st century, when are we going to acknowledge that there is more than one “beautiful” body type?

When you walk into the wide glass doors of a VS store, you are immediately bombarded by wall-size photos of those reed thin, top heavy, beautiful models. And when you don’t exactly look like them, it can make you feel pretty bad about yourself. Women and girls-teenagers in particular- will see these bodies and wonder, “Why can’t I look like that, and what can I do to look like that?” The answer is clear. You cannot look like that because those bodies because they are physically unobtainable without a trustworthy plastic surgeon and some solid photoshopping software. I remember one time I went into the store with my friend. She had been self-conscious about her body, and seeing that the company only supported one body type made her feel even worse. It was hard for her to learn how to love herself and be proud of her body when these models all had the same “perfect” body that she didn’t have. These models make girls feel insecure about themselves, and make girls who are already insecure about themselves even MORE dissatisfied with their bodies.

The company raised online rage only a few months ago with their “The Perfect Body” campaign. The images that they used for this “Perfect Body” campaign were 10 models that all had that same body figure as explained above. No attempts at body diversity were made in the image. Even worse, these images suggested that these were what “perfect” bodies were supposed to be. Given that those models’ bodies are basically unobtainable, it seemed a little insulting to imply that women who didn’t share their exact measurements somehow have ‘imperfect’ bodies. This campaign made thousands of young girls look in the mirror each morning and feel dissatisfied with themselves. An online petition was made, requesting that the brand apologize and take responsibility for the unhealthy damaging message that their ‘Perfect Body’ campaign sends out about women’s boies. More than 33,000 signatures were gathered, but Victoria’s Secret only took minimal action. They changed the campaign name to “A Body For Every Body” (which still didn’t make a lot of sense given the narrow range of bodies depicted in the advertisement remained.) Even after this petition, they still did not add any different body types to this campaign.

Victoria’s Secret has mentioned that they are going to try to add more angels and models of different ethnicities, but if they are serious about diversifying their models, they might want to add different body types as well. Adding different body types will help all women feel better about themselves, make the modeling shows more interesting to watch, and help the company widen its audience. Imagine a new generation where young girls can open up a magazine and instead of pinching their stomach with disappointment, stare into a mirror and think “Wow, I am beautiful.” Imagine a society where everyone believes that they are beautiful and are proud to be in their own skin. But until Victoria’s Secret starts to take action and add different types of models, I refuse to watch their shows or buy their products, and maybe if we all do, we can convince them to make the change.