Learning on your own terms: the benefits of homeschooling as a teen

There are several reasons why I prefer homeschooling over traditional schooling. Some of these include:

  1. Flexibility: Homeschooling can provide more flexibility in scheduling, which can appeal to some teens with other interests or responsibilities. For example, I can write my novels any time as long as I finish all my weekly high school requirements. I can also dual enroll with a university or college, finish high school, and get college credits.
  2. Personalized education: Homeschooling allows for more personalized instruction. This means I can cater my education to my interests and needs rather than following a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Because I get to choose my curriculum with my teacher, I almost always have no problems finishing my schoolwork quickly.
  3. Avoidance of negative social situations: Some teens may prefer homeschooling to avoid adverse social problems such as bullying, peer pressure, or a lack of inclusion. I never had this problem; most homeschooled high students I met or knew were too busy with their day-to-day lives. Most of the time, we’re with older adults, so there are no such adverse social problems.
  4. Increased family time: One of the advantages of homeschooling is that it can provide more opportunities for family time and closer bonds between parent and child. I like homeschooling because I can spend time with my siblings whenever I want or need to. When my family decides to travel, I can take my schoolwork with me, and there are no missed school days to make up. This is a huge perk for my parents and me since we love to travel.
  5. Religious or philosophical beliefs: Many families homeschool because it aligns better with their religious or philosophical beliefs and values. I have many friends who homeschool for this reason. It’s important to families that their children receive an education that aligns with their ideas. Because we’re living in the US, we have the freedom to choose; we all should take advantage of how we want to do school to improve ourselves as model citizens.

It’s worth noting that homeschooling is only for some, and this form of education can also be challenging and complex. The most difficult in homeschooling is being motivated and disciplined with your schedule. You are on your own when finishing and staying on task with your schoolwork. No teachers ask you to do it and finish it on time. No classmates to compete and get you going. No- just you competing against yourself to be the best version of yourself. This is why I love homeschooling, but many teens choose not to. However, for some teens like myself, homeschooling can provide an excellent choice and preferred educational experience.

Bella H.

The Dark Side of Fishing

Throughout history, fishing has been one of the most popular pastimes for all ages, renowned for relatively passive participation required to be successful (ie. sitting on a dock waiting for the fish to come to you). But this does not take into account the negative consequences towards the other half of this game – the fish themselves. 

Conventionally, fish are thought of as dumb, unfeeling creatures, making them the perfect specimen for a practice that is essentially dragging animals from their home environment on barbed hooks solely for human entertainment. This is a treatment that we would not give to any other member of the animal kingdom that we believe to exhibit a certain level of sentience, or the ability to think for itself. For example, cruelty against dogs or cats is heavily dissuaded, whereas such violence on fish, worms, or other “non-sentient” creatures is implicitly allowed.

This assumption about the pain capacity of fish, however, has been proven false. As it turns out, fish have the same types of pain receptors that humans and other animals due, alongside the necessary nerves and senses to detect this pain. They can be shown to feel bee stings, so one can only imagine how strong their pain must be when caught on a hook. 

Additionally, fish are much more intelligent than they are shown to be. Through experimentation, fish have been shown to be able to efficiently learn geometrical relationships with landmarks and navigate mazes, thus shattering conventional stereotypes about fish and with it humanity’s casual belief in their superiority. One cannot help but wonder about the pain these intelligent animals must have felt, and what thoughts would have gone through their minds as they were abused and killed simply for the pleasure of a stronger animal. 

While it is undeniable that fishing is important on various levels, from personal to cultural, it is equally important for us to ensure that our fellow animals are not needlessly injured for our own entertainment and do our part to protect this much munched on group of the sea.

Information adapted from Victoria Braithwaite’s LA Times article “Hooked on a Myth” (https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2006-oct-08-oe-braithwaite8-story.html)

– Mahak M.

Climate Change

Cracked and crumbling, the earth once full of life and water lays barren and dry. Dust bunnies blow across the land without a single living thing in sight. Blue skies turn gray and smoky. Trees that once seemed to hold up the sky with their strong arms are now reduced to stumps. That is the future that lays ahead. 

Climate change has always been a big problem. Politicians ignore it as if they weren’t the ones who created it. Advocates protest, and we turn a blind eye. Brushing it off like it’s nothing, a mere annoyance. No one expects the earth to crumble away in their lifetime. We flourish in our big cities focusing only on what’s ahead of us, but not what’s above or below us. We move too fast to acknowledge problems that seem to loom ahead. Problems that are screaming to be solved. Problems that are bolded and put in italics for us to see. Problems that are shoved in our faces but we choose to ignore.

So what if the earth is dying? Why should I care? It won’t happen in my life so there’s no reason for me to do anything. These are all excuses. Excuses not to care nor act. Excuses to not do anything. We waste our lives away waiting for someone else to do it for us. We wait and wait and never yet to consider that everyone else may be waiting too. 

There must be something done soon, or there wouldn’t be an earth to worry about.

Books about climate change are available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. They are also available to download for free from Libby.

Your Words Have Power

What would we do without words? Words are powerful; They can inspire, motivate, and move us to action. They can also hurt, insult, and destroy. As teenagers, we are constantly bombarded with words from many different sources, from our peers to parents, teachers, or the media. Recognizing that our words have power and can influence us in how we communicate is important. We can see the power of words play out through books and movies. Numerous examples of films and books can resonate with us and strengthen the impact of words.

Dead Poets Society is one example of how words impact us. In this movie, an unorthodox English teacher inspires his students to be themselves and embrace their individuality. He encourages them to express themselves through poetry. Robin William, who played the teacher in the movie, tells his students to “carpe diem,” meaning seize the day and live life to the fullest. Through words, he profoundly impacts his students’ actions. They challenge the school district rules and go on to pursue their own passions. This movie is a compelling reminder that our words have power. Words of encouragement can inspire and move us forward to do great things that impact many lives.

The Hate U Give, written by Angie Thomas, also shows us how words impact how we think in a powerful way. Starr, a young girl in the story, witnesses the shooting of her friend by a police officer. The author uses words to shape our perceptions of others and strongly influences how we think about racism and prejudice. It encourages us to use our words to create positive changes in our world.

These are just a few examples of the power of words and how they shape our actions, thoughts, and interaction with people around us.

We are constantly bombarded with words from everyone and everything.

As teenagers, we have the power to use our words to bring positive changes to others and the world around us. Use words that encourage and inspire others rather than break them down. Stand up and speak out against hateful language and attitudes.

Our words cannot be underestimated. Words inspire, motivate, and move us to action. It can also hurt, insult, and destroy others. By recognizing the impact of our words, we can use them responsibly to create lasting and positive impacts. Doing so can create a more positive and inspiring communication culture in our society. Maybe, it can even lessen the chances of war.

The next time you have a conversation with someone, remember your words have power; what you say can uplift or tear a person down. You have the choice to inspire and encourage others so you can help create a better world. Choose your words wisely so you can inspire.

Bella H.

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Which is Better?

The age long debate of the century: Spotify vs. Apple Music. Below are points listing off the pros and cons of each music streaming service as well as the author’s thoughts. Also, feel free to participate in the survey at the bottom of this article.



  • Users can easily navigate Spotify with its organized interface
  • Spotify can curate playlists based on one’s music taste
  • The AI DJ can introduce one to new songs
  • Offers a free version of Spotify


  • The free version offered interrupts the user with ads
  • The lists of playlists on the side on the computer version can be overwhelming at times
  • Sending too many emails containing either terrible deals or news expensive concerts
  • Some songs can only be accessed as a podcast in order to upload them to the site

Apple Music


  • Boasts more songs, podcasts, etc. than Spotify
  • No need to download an app if the user has an Apple device
  • Offers a free trial for one to even six months
  • Compared to Spotify’s sound quality, Apple Music’s is more crisper


  • Doesn’t offer a free version of its service
  • Not as “cool” because Apple Music isn’t as popular for teenagers
  • The service doesn’t encourage user engagement with others
  • Costs a dollar more than for Spotify’s premium

Author’s Thoughts

As a Spotify user, clearly I am team Spotify! What really drew me in to purchasing a subscription for the premium version was the multitude of opportunities for me to engage with my friends. I can easily look to see what my friends are currently listening to or even create a playlist with them combining our music tastes through the new Blend feature. Additionally, the overall appearance of Spotify both allows for simplicity and an aesthetically pleasing interface.

Book Review: Poison for Breakfast by Lemony Snicket

When I first picked up Poison for Breakfast and saw it was written by Lemony Snicket, I felt inclined to read it just out of how much I enjoyed his books when I was younger, especially the Series of Unfortunate Events and All the Wrong Questions series of books.

However now that I am older, I was unsure if what I had come to expect from Snicket would be as enjoyable or memorable now that I have more experience reading and different tastes. To my pleasant surprise, this is the most mature and unique Lemony Snicket book I’ve read, even if it’s title and premise seems just as bizarre and out of place as something you would see in any other one of his works.

The entire book revolves a man and his reaction when he is eating his regular breakfast and finds a note saying, “you had poison for breakfast”. This sends the man into a sort of introspective spiral, as he spends the day trying to figure out who did it, while also reflecting on his philosophy towards life and the creative process. The book is a whole is very short at around 150 pages, and all of those pages are dedicated to the man and his reaction to what he believes will be his final day alive. While the book has a style very characteristic of Snicket, I think that most of the things he writes about in this are more observational instead of focused on a singular plot line or a classic story structure. Snicket even says on the description on the back of the book that some may call this a “book of philosophy”, which I think is a pretty appropriate term for the work.

Overall, I enjoyed the read, and thought it was definitely worth my time. One thing I would say to anyone wanting to read this is that it can be a bit hard to follow Snicket’s train of thought throughout the book, as his writing is full of phrases or references that have deeper meanings when looked into. Because of this I think this could a book that could be better if I decide to read it again, because I feel like I would pick up on a lot more of the messages Snicket conveys throughout the text. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in books with more philosophical elements, as well as anyone who is familiar with Snicket from his older work as well.

Poison for Breakfast by Lemony Snicket is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Subnautica: A Horror Game In Disguise?

The amazing game of Subnautica is marketed as an underwater survival/adventure game. However, there is another aspect within the game that is not listed: Horror. Horror is an essential component of making Subnautica what it is.

Now, Subnautica does not use jumpscares, or blood and guts like you would expect in any other horror game. Instead, Subnautica uses a few aspects that i will talk and elaborate on.

The first aspect i would like to talk about is the fear of the unknown. The game just dumps you straight into a alien planet you are unfamiliar with right from the beginning. Phychological research has proven that humans have a strong tendency to repel things that they are not familiar with, and sticks with the things they are. This unknown planet aspect causes the player to have thoughts about dangerous creatures they don’t know about that wants to kill them.

The second aspect would be progression. In the game, you have to visit specific points on the map in order to progress further into the game. When you go to the locations, you will already be overwhelmed by the fear of the unknown, but to add to that fear, the developers of the game decides to put the most dangerous creatures in the entire game patrolling the places that you are forced to go to in order to progress further into the story. This will give you a feeling that there is always something big and dangerous chasing you, no matter where you go.

The third aspect is thalassophobia. If you don’t know what that is, it is the intense fear of large, and deep oceans. This aspect kind of overlaps with the fear of the unknown, but it also has some characteristics of its own. For example, if you’re swimming in an ocean on Earth, you can say that there may be a few fishes underneath you, or maybe a few sharks (no biggie right?), but you can be pretty sure there WILL NOT be a giant 100 meter long leviathan swimming in the same waters as you. But on an alien planet? Who knows what will be in the water?

The fourth and last aspect i will elaborate on is ambeince and sound design. It is common knowledge that the deeper you go in the water, the less light there will be, and in Subnautica, you are required to go deeper in order to progress. Now imagine this: You are 900 meters below the surface, your oxygen is running low and you are trapped in an seemingly endless void of dark waters, trying to find your orientation and your submarine. You hear a roar in the distance. You look around, attempting to find the source or the roar, but only to find nothing but pitch blackness. Words cannot describe the amount of fear and panic you would be in. Adding to that scenario, a creepy soundtrack of ambience voices, and faint clicks starts playing. Subnautica has tons of different soundtracks, and theyu are unique to every biome, reflecting the amount of threat the biome posseses. For example, in a safer area, the music would be light, peaceful, and happy. But when ytou start to go into a more dangeorus area, the music wil change into a creepy, and mysterious white background noise.

Obviously, these four aspects i have listed are not the only ones. There are many more that are designed to play with your mind, and to bring fear into you. A beginner player may be absolutely overwhelmed by fear, and may be tempted to delete the game, or try to forget about the game (that’s what i almost did haha), but if you keep playing, you will soon learn to overcome and look past the fear. Once you do that, you will see the true beauties this mysterious planet has to offer.

-Torres H.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen follows the story of the Bennett sisters, whose mother desires nothing but to get them all married. Early on in the book, the family is introduced to a neighbor’s friend- a wealthy man named Mr. Darcy. The author beautifully develops the relationship between him and one of the oldest Bennett sisters, Elizabeth.

Jane Austen’s ability to realistically capture the struggles in a relationship is the quality I admired the most while reading this book. The author is able to eloquently show the obstacles one must overcome in order to find true love, such as pride, arrogance, and social class. While reading, I found myself at the edge of my seat, wondering what the outcome would be of the protagonists’ turbulent relationship. I also enjoyed how the novel shared the struggles of other family members as well, while still keeping the main focus on Darcy and Elizabeth.

I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in classics, or the romance genre in general, as this is truly one of the most iconic love stories of all time. Although it is difficult to adjust to at first, Jane Austen has an iconic writing style that demonstrates her creativity and elegance, giving her stories a tone that fully immerses readers into the same time period as their favorite characters.

-Aysha H.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Are They Worth It or Not….

All over TikTok or Pinterest, people constantly post new “hacks” or “finds”. Like many others, I tend to get interested, want to try it out myself, and await results. I won’t lie, some of these new trends are really not it. But on the other hand, others are actually beneficial.

To start off, I want to talk about the Apple pencil. To be completely honest when I first heard about it I thought it was one of the stupidest new Apple products to be released. But, I have changed my mind. This product is worth the money for high school students taking many classes at the local community college along with actual college students. Using it with an iPad is a life changer. I personally use the app “Notability” but “GoodNotes” is another excellent choice. With these apps, you can take all of your notes digitally and organize them into their own sections. There are tools to copy and paste images, highlight, change pen style and size, and much more. It makes note-taking easier and honestly a lot more fun. I also use Notability to download a monthly planner to keep track of my life.

Up next is the fabric tape clothing hack. This has totally saved my closet. Since I am short, a lot of pants I buy are so long that they drag on the ground. I love the style so I really do not want to get rid of them. I first saw fabric tape on TikTok and thought I should try it out. I was a bit skeptical if the take would actually hold for a whole day but I was pleasantly surprised when it lasted the whole 90-degree school day. There are many brands but I use the Scotch Double-Sided Tape. This stuff is very sticky and durable. I put the pre-cut thin pieces at the edge of my pants and then fold them inside. This way, if you do not like the cuffed pant look you can still shorten your pants.

Bare but Better by Kiss

Lastly, I am going to share one of my favorite beauty hacks. I love either getting or doing my own nails all the time. The only problem is that it can get very pricey when I get them done and it takes a long time if I do them myself. Instead, when I am feeling lazy, I buy fake nails from Target or Walmart. The trick is to not buy press-on nails. Rather, buy ones that include nail glue. This makes the nails stay for a much longer time as if you were getting acrylic nails. Simple file your nail beds a little, brush off the dust and then glue them down without using too much glue. The fake nails offer many cute designs that look like real nails.

These finds of mine are all over the spectrum of different themes, but they are the trends I use the most. The internet can really provide great ideas and I have taken advantage of many while also facing some failures along the way. 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Perfection. Perfection is used to describe something that is flawless. When I think of perfection, I think of AP Calculus BC, Raising Canes Texas Toast, Allen Kesinger, and so much more. Every category has its own perfect thing. In movies, it is hands down Finding Nemo. Finding Nemo is the perfect movie, and Squirt is the perfect character. In names, I think Finn is a really nice name. But I think literature takes the cake for the most perfect item: Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Jeff Kinney was born in 1971. Back then in 1971, kids were reading novels such as The Handmaid’s Tale, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Although these literary pieces are very good and have a lot of significance, the world was yet to experience the pure bliss and perfection of Jeff Kinney’s soon-to-come creation.

Come 2007. The class of 2025 was born (they are sophomores now by the way), the AP US History curriculum stops, and the most amazing book was released as well. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a diary of a wimpy kid. Such wimpy kid is named Greg, and well, objectively speaking, he is far from wimpy. Greg is a Chad. He is smart, handsome, tall, drippy, and loves his mom!

Despite Greg being the main character, I think it is fair to say that he is only the second-best character in the book. This is because Rowley exists. If Greg is a Chad, Rowley is a giga-Chad. Rowley is smarter, more handsome, taller, drippier, and loves his mom even more than Greg could ever imagine. Solely thanks to the creation of Rowley, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is perfection. Be like Rowley!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.