ACT or SAT?

What made you choose the test that you would have to take? I think the best advice is to take a practice test for each and see which you do better at. There are books to check out with practice tests and books you can purchase as well.

You could also just go in to each test and take official ones just to see how you score, but you have to pay for the actual tests. You may do so well in one that you could find this the fastest way to be done with it.

You could also decide based off researching each test. There are four sections in the ACT and three in the SAT. The ACT is described as being more heavily a reading comprehension test. You have a reading, writing, and science section and the science section does not require a lot of outside scientific knowledge, just the ability to read the questions and answer based on what they present on the test. This makes it another reading section, in effect. The SAT just has the traditional Reading, writing, and math. This makes math worth 33% of your grade where on the ACT math is 25% of your grade. This can help kids make the decision as well.

The UC schools, like UCLA, UCI, etc., no longer look at these test scores which makes your GPA and extracurriculars more important. If you are only planning for these schools, I wonder if you will even bother with these tests anymore. If you want to keep options open, many schools either require the scores or list them as optional.

Best of luck as you make decisions on your future.

The Benefits of School Sponsorships

In schools all over America today, it is not uncommon for one to see the multiple brand sponsorships and deals that the school has taken part in, with logos being slapped all over the place. When schools get sponsorship deals and such, the company being sponsored pays the school a fair sum of money for their brand and logo to be displayed in the school. Because of this, schools engaging in company sponsorships are very financially beneficial towards the school and the business, especially for those schools that are struggling.

To start, schools seem to always be in need of money. It is no secret that schools usually do not receive the best funding and that they heavily rely on students and parents for financial aid.  Fundraisers and donations from parents are very common means for schools to earn money. However, considering that many students are not financially fit to support fundraisers or make donations, it really questions the effectiveness of these penny-pinching methods, as not every family can afford to just give the school money like this. When schools add in a company sponsorship, for example putting KFC banners all over the school, the school gets a guaranteed source of income from the company. Large corporations are much wealthier and can easily afford to comply with the sponsorship, making it all the more reason for sponsorships. This money could be spent on things like school supplies, repairs, and if there is extra money, maybe even things such as student events and campus beautification. Overall, it is just a more effective way to earn money, which will then in turn make the quality of learning and the school much better.

On the other hand, companies also benefit greatly from school sponsorships. When companies sponsor a school, their brand and logo will get exposed a lot. Students go to school every day, at least they normally would, which means that they will see these advertisements and logos all the time. In my personal experiences, without the use of school sponsorships, I would have never tried the restaurant Raising Canes, which is definitely one of my favorites to this day. It is undoubtedly likely that a ton of other students have had an experience similar to mine, and most who have not yet may have one in the future.  Things like this might give any small business the push they need to get going, or a large corporation extra customers to add on to their growing business.

Company sponsorships are a very efficient and better way for schools to earn money than conventional fundraisers and such. Especially since these sponsorships are a guaranteed source of income that benefits both sides of the party, it really is the best solution to any money crisis a school is having.

-Jeremy L.

Disobedience

In 1891, Irish author Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) observed, “Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.” However, his claim that disobedience is a valuable human trait and that it promotes social progress is not valid, as there are more cases of civil disobedience ending up being ineffective and destructive than there are that promote social change. 

With social media and online forms of activism becoming more and more common, taking issues out to the streets and handling them out there has become less and less common, and therefore less effective. In fact, people in high positions of power may see these cases of disobedience not as powerful or meaningful, but rather a burden. Malcolm Gladwell’s assertions stay consistent with this concept, as it is much easier and more efficient for people to express themselves online rather than in-person. The majority of news will spread faster and to more people on social media, making it unlikely that people will take it out on the streets. Also, the majority of protests and acts of activism that happen online often stay unnoticed or local. Such means that these acts of activism are unlikely to reach a state or federal level in promoting change, and are unlikely to spread the awareness intended to. Activism through the use of social media is much more effective and efficient at both of these.

Civil disobedience may not only be ineffective, but it can also be destructive and harmful to others. Take for example, riots and violent protests in Minneapolis and other U.S. cities regarding the death of George Floyd earlier this year. Although in the end, Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder on the morning of October 22, 2020, many innocent locals had to pay the price for it. Many people’s jobs, livings, and neighborhoods were destroyed as a direct result of this case of disobedience. The Western Journal released a video on May 29, 2020, of K.B. Balla, a colored sports bar owner, breaking down after he lost his entire life’s work to rioters. It seemed to Balla that within an instant, the sports bar that he took pride in and cared about was gone. There are many people like Balla who have lost their businesses and other important things thanks to violent rioters. Even though justice was served in the end, it was not worth millions of dollars in property damage, countless injuries, and possibly even multiple deaths.

Wilde’s claims are not valid as the majority of civil disobedience has turned out to be destructive and ineffective. Civil and peaceful methods of activism and protest are much more effective than disobedience and are much more likely to appeal to people in high positions of authority. There are even cases of disobedience when it comes to other topics besides social change, but in the end, these methods are not necessary nor valid.

-Jeremy L.

The Hufflepuff Common Room

One could safely say that Harry, with his handy Marauder’s Map, adventurous spirit, and knack for getting into trouble, explores much more of Hogwarts than the typical student does. In fact, he manages to enter both the Slytherin common room (with the help of Polyjuice Potion and a few of Gregory Goyle’s hairs) and the Ravenclaw common room–as well as his own cozy Gryffindor common room–within the span of the series.

However, although he develops friendships with a few Hufflepuff students, Harry never enters the Hufflepuff common room. And as a result, the readers never see it, either.

Thankfully, the world of Harry Potter is so richly imagined and developed that it extends beyond the books. Unsurprisingly, a vividly descriptive article on the Hufflepuff common room can be found on the Wizarding World website, written by J.K. Rowling herself (If you’re a Harry Potter lover, I encourage you to check it out–it’s very interesting to learn about the mysterious common room and to read J.K. Rowling’s thoughts on it).

Though the method used to enter the Hufflepuff common room is rather simple (tapping a barrel to the rhythm of the founder of Hufflepuff’s name (Rowling)), and although the room lies low in comparison to the towers that house the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor common rooms, I think I would choose to live in the Hufflepuff common room above the others if I had the choice.

The Hufflepuff common room seems so cozy and bright, with “patchwork quilts,” “[a] colorful profusion of plants and flowers,” and “[s]mall, round windows [that] show a pleasant view of rippling grass and dandelions, and, occasionally, passing feet” (Rowling). Despite being so low in the ground, the Hufflepuff common room still seems cheerful and warm. I love how the majority of the decorations are plants; they add so much vibrancy and homeliness to the room, and I think the constant presence of nature would create a joyful and peaceful mood. In addition, the circular structure of the room reminds me of a cozy little hobbit hole.

The common room “feels perennially sunny”–the perfect atmosphere for keeping your spirits up while studying for exams, relaxing with your classmates, or recovering from a particularly cold and difficult Potions class (Rowling). Imagine leaving the stuffy Divination classroom or a particularly wearisome History of Magic lesson and entering a warm, inviting room lit with golden sunlight and lively plants. The environment itself, I think, could be an instant mood-lifter.

Lastly, the Hufflepuff common room lies right near the kitchens, in case you want to pay the house elves a visit.

Where else would you want to spend your seven years at Hogwarts?

– Mia T.


Works Cited

Rowling, J.K. “Hufflepuff Common Room.” Wizarding World, Wizarding World Digital, 2 Mar. 2020, http://www.wizardingworld.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/hufflepuff-common-room. 

Movies During Break

During this break, I have found myself with nothing to do and lots of free time. With it, I decided to watch a whole bunch of movies from “before my time.” I found that even after my family decided to let me watch the movie alone, I would find them coming in to watch with me, then asking me to wait until they had free time to finish it with me. 

My friends also decided they wanted to watch movies with me and kept recommending more and more movies that we could eventually watch together. Then we could talk about them later and watch other movies based on the ones we liked. 

I have found that there are many benefits to watching these movies. Though it may seem to some like you are just sitting around on a couch, I have found that with finals coming up for many teens, it has been a way to destress. Often with current movies, they are all the same and watching one is like watching them all. When watching older movies, they’re often much more interesting and I pay a lot more attention to them.

Another benefit of these movies is that I have been spending a lot less time on my phone. Watching a movie is still watching a screen, but I think it’s been a lot less harmful to watch a movie from farther away than being on my phone close to my face 24/7. 

As for recommendations, if you’re into classic movies from the 80s or 90s, I recommend Dirty Dancing, Dave, and The American President. As for movies from earlier years, Singin’ in the Rain and The Aristocats as well as Breakfast at Tiffany’s are all amazing movies. I do have to warn that some of them carry a PG-13 rating, so check with a guardian before watching. 

Watching movies is something that can be done year round and every day of the week, but especially on breaks when all you want to do is get away from the modern world and all of the issues going on right now. Watching them from past years, rather than one that came out three months ago can be therapeutic in that you can look back on what was good then and what you wish you had now and vice versa. 

So next time you have a long weekend off of school, or a week-long break, take some time to make a list of movies to watch and sit down with some popcorn. You might surprise yourself with what you end up loving.

-Danielle B.

The Little Things That Count

Though it may seem cliche, it’s undeniably true that it’s the little things in life that count. Never underestimate or overlook the little things. Even if only the dewdrops clinging to the blades of grass in the morning or the sight of the setting sun, never let these little things escape your notice. Noticing and acknowledging the little things in life are keys to enriching the life you are already living in. Because sometimes, you are not able to change your circumstances and in truth, we don’t actually need to change our reality, but rather our perceptions.  And one of the simplest, yet easily undermined ways to do this is to pay attention to the little things.  Hold on to the little things, and the rest of life falls into place.

Of course, the only way to consciously make an effort to do so is to be aware. And sometimes, we don’t like feeling aware, whether it be of ourselves or our surroundings. Many of us don’t want to sit still with the thoughts in our mind or notice that piece of litter on the side of the road. And I understand that. Yet, you can’t see the wonderful things without noticing all the not-so-wonderful things, because of course,  that is how you gain perspective and gratitude for the little things that you do have. 

After all, you can’t possibly come to be grateful for a gift that you were too blind to notice that you had in the first place. So do not fail to take notice. 

Although at first, it may feel uncomfortable or unimportant to really and truly open up your mind and your heart to experiencing things in greater magnitude, more often than not, many people find this to give them a sense of peace. 

Noticing the small things means taking extra time and care, even if only mentally. But as we all know, your mental state plays a huge factor in the way that you live and see your life. If your mind can consistently remain slowed, calm, and focused on the good things no matter how small, then no matter your surroundings or the circumstances, and no matter how dark the night, you will be able to know that the sun will come again in a short while. 

There’s a common quote that’s often used simply put: “No rain, no flowers”. In order to notice and appreciate the flowers, you must also notice and come to appreciate the rain.

Hardships in life are never easy, but they are what make us learn and grow, so that when you stumble out of the storm and see the newly-bloomed flowers, you come to know what relief and gratitude mean, and you obtain the wisdom as to know that the storm you were caught in was not for nothing at all. 

So, to whoever may read this, feel no sheepishness or guilt in “stopping and smelling the roses” today. Notice the little things, but also do them. Maybe you can be someone else’s living proof that the world isn’t so bad after all, so do not hesitate in offering that kind word or extending a giving hand when the opportunity comes your way.

-Aisha E.

Book/Musical Review: Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen is a popular Broadway musical created by Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul. Its powerful storyline, incredible soundtrack, and the talented cast has made it the winner of six Tony Awards and a favorite of theater aficionados across the world. Dear Evan Hansen is also very unique and innovative, as it addresses issues such as teen suicide, depression, and social anxiety. It speaks to the audience in a new, powerful way and has increased awareness of the mental health struggles that people of all ages may be facing. Dear Evan Hansen has been re-made by numerous off-Broadway production groups across the world and has also been adapted into a novel in collaboration with Val Emmich.

Dear Evan Hansen follows the life of its title character, who struggles with extreme social anxiety. His therapist recommends that he writes letters to himself, discussing the positive aspects of the day. At school, Evan has few friends but develops a crush on a girl named Zoe Murphy, who becomes the subject of many letters. Zoe’s twin brother, Connor, has a reputation for being rebellious and aggressive and is angry when he finds Evan’s letter about Zoe in the school printer. Connor takes this letter with him, leaving Evan in fear of what he may do with it. A few days later, Evan finds out that Connor committed suicide later that day with Evan’s letter still in his pocket. This causes Connor’s family to believe that Connor and Evan were close friends, which develops a bond between Evan and the Murphy family. Connor’s mother feels guilty for his death, whereas Zoe struggles to feel grief due to Connor’s awful behavior towards her and their family. With the help of his friends Alana and Jared, Evan starts the Connor Project, which is an online community dedicated to remembering Connor’s life. As Evan grows closer to Zoe and the Murphy family, he begins to drift away from his mother, Heidi, and his old friends. Alana and Jared find out that Evan never really knew Connor, and threaten to share this information with the Murphy family. Evan then claims that the letter to himself was actually Connor’s suicide note, which gets posted to the Connor Project. As a result, many begin to blame the Murphy family for Connor’s suicide and they become the subject of hateful, threatening messages. Evan realizes he must come forward and confess and tells the Murphy family about his deception. He explains that he did it because he believed it would help them cope and because he felt like he needed friendship. Later, he also reconciles with his mother, who promises she will help him through his pain and always be there for him. 

A year later, Evan contacts Zoe, who agrees to meet with him at the orchard that has become Connor’s memorial. Evan apologizes again, and Zoe forgives him, telling him that he brought her family closer together. After Zoe leaves, Evan writes himself one last letter in his mind while looking around the orchard and reflects upon what he has learned from this experience and the impact the Connor Project had on people across the country.

Dear Evan Hansen is an incredibly powerful musical and book that really speaks to today’s younger generations. Not only does it help readers learn empathy for those dealing with mental illness, but also provides solace for those who are experiencing something similar to characters in the book. It has encouraged people to reach out to others and offer one another support and friendship during difficult times, because, in the words of Evan Hansen, “we’re not alone, none of us.”

-Katie A.

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Online Schooling

Online Schooling. An idea most never thought about, but now is a reality for almost every student in the United States in the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Many people that I know do not like any aspect of the whole concept. They find themself always distracted and unmotivated to sit in front of a computer for hours. But due to an unexpected part of our education, I have found myself taking the opportunity of having so much more free time. Personally, I have a fairly large family. With 3 other siblings all trying to stream a class at the same time. But unlike most, I have a different view on the idea of schooling on a computer.

Though it may be an unpopular opinion, I have found myself striving for the past 7 weeks of online schooling. Though I am taking many hard classes, having an online perspective is much more motivating for myself. My personal favorite aspect would be the pre-recorded lectures. Normally, I would find myself struggling to get down the important information that is being thrown at me at a very fast pace. But most of my teachers this year have been recording their lectures that students then watch on their own time. I find myself grasping the complicated concepts much faster due to the new aspect of being able to pause a lecture and write down information at your own pace.

Another factor of online schooling that seems to be going away for myself is procrastination. Normally on a school day, I would go to school around 6:50 am and not leave till about 5-8 pm. By the time I got home, I would be exhausted. Not mention my work would not start when I first got home. I would have to eat, then usually rest for a little bit of time before I could physically get myself to start work. But now, always being at home, I have found myself thriving even though I have hours of school work. Now, on a regular online school day, I get out about 1 pm and complete homework straight till about 11 pm. Give or take a couple 10-15 minute breaks. I just began to imagine having this much school work on top of my hours of extra curricular’s that I normally would have to balance.

If I could give any advice to anyone about to start their online journey would be this, take the opportunity of time that has been given, and improve your work habits. This time last year, I procrastinated beyond compare. I would always leave assignments untill the day they were due. Now, I have seemed to reinvent how I take my education. I complete the assignments the day they are assigned, and I ensure I fully understand the ins and outs of the concepts. Without this online schooling, I most likely would not be in as great of a position school wise as I am now. I am aware that my option is most likely far from most, I encourage for some to accept the new normal of most children’s education.

-Lilly G.

Being an Introvert

I am an introvert. 

Now, when this word comes to mind, many automatically think of someone who is shy, meek, or quiet. I’m sorry to say that, although many introverts may happen to have these characteristics, that is not the definition of what an introvert is. Introverts are simply people who obtain their energy from being alone, rather than with people, unlike extroverts. Introverts are not always shy, however. I’d like to make that clear, despite the irony in the fact that I, an introvert, very much so identify as a shy individual until I feel comfortable with someone. Once I do feel comfortable, however, I am an incredibly talkative person and can easily spend hours discussing things from every which subject. That being said, although I do enjoy having good conversations and spending time  with friends and family like any other person, at the end, I usually will feel drained and exhausted.

That’s my introverted side. The desire to be alone, especially after a long duration of socialization– not the trait of shyness. This is because socializing, especially in large groups or in loud settings, can be overstimulating all at once, and for the introvert, the way that they can revert back to base one is by being alone, away from all of the hustle and bustle. 

So yes, contrary to popular belief, introverts do in fact like going out (on occasion).

Being an introvert does not mean you want to be alone twenty four hours of the day, seven days a week. It just means if you had to, you probably could without losing your mind. And yes, while humans are naturally social with one another, sometimes, being around other humans can be mentally exhausting, even if for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on. Thus is the nature and life of an introvert.

A key point about introverts is that, when it comes to people, wanting to be away from them is honestly not personal in the slightest, nor does it signify that we dislike most people. In fact, you can love the person you’re being around and still feel exhausted after spending a long period of time with them.

For introverts, not wanting to be around other people, especially loved ones, should not be taken as a personal offense. It just means we need some time, alone and only alone, to clear our heads. Simply put, being in the presence of another person hinders us from achieving this. Introverts will simply just continue to nosedive in energy and dwindle in liveliness the longer that they are forced to stay out and about and with others. It sounds stupid, maybe, or even a bit stuck-up. But, I promise you, introverts don’t mean to be rude. They don’t hate people. But they’ll be in much better spirits if you just leave them be for a few hours when they ask to be left alone. 

All this being said, many people don’t really know if they are introverted. 

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself and think about. 

Do you thrive off of time spent alone? Find inspiration and motivation coming to you when you are alone? Wish you had more time to yourself? Feel up for doing a social activity or attending a social gathering after you’ve already spent a good portion of time alone? And, if you go out or spend time with others, upon your return, do you usually notice that you feel drained? By drained, I mean, do you often notice you feel tired? Irritable? Scouting for a place to be that is quiet? Not in any mood to talk? With a headache, maybe? If so, you are most likely an introvert.

Welcome to the club of “I-Often-Need-Time-To-Myself-Please-Leave-Me-Alone-Thank-You”.   

I know some might consider it to be awfully selfish to “need” down-time. Such a first-world problem, one might scoff. But then again, when it comes to being an extrovert, I can’t possibly begin to see how someone could get need to get their energy and their mood up from constantly being in the companionship of others. To me, this is a bizarre concept to imagine being my reality. But, see, that’s why everyone’s different. Some of us are introverts, some of us are extroverts. And some of us are stuck somewhere in the middle: ambiverts, as the term has been coined. 

With all of this being said, never feel bad if you are in fact a quieter soul; an introvert in a world that seems to cater only to extroverts. Never feel that craving time to yourself and silence is a bad thing. After all, everyone’s always preaching about how good it is to begin your day in silent meditation or to have some sort of ritual where you are alone. Many have only just begun to discover the joys that come along with being alone, and the hidden wisdom’s behind it as well–something introverts have known all along. Because, truly, silence will always feed your soul thousand times more than noise.

Who Was To Blame in Romeo and Juliet?

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is often considered to be the ultimate tale of romance – two children of warring families meet, fall hopelessly in love, and commit suicide in a woeful twist of fate. However, fate itself has quite little to do with the actions undertaken by the two lovers throughout the play. Though the tragic events of Act V, Scene III of Romeo and Juliet are often attributed to the two lovers’ distinct lack of luck, the blood shed at the end of the play is truly the fault of one character: Friar Lawrence, the trusted adult who both Romeo and Juliet turn to in their time of need, only to be led astray.

Despite knowing the potential tragedy that could follow, Friar Lawrence nevertheless encourages Romeo and Juliet in their wish to wed, not because he wants to see two young lovers be happy, but because of his own desires. Though the friar appears old and wise, he does not dissuade Romeo from his course, for the friar does not seem to particularly care about Romeo’s happiness – he has an underlying motive. He later tells Romeo that he will consent to wed the two lovers not because he believes in the true love between them, but because he wants to end the feud between their families. 

The marriage between Romeo and Juliet eventually leads to ruin, when Romeo is exiled from the city and Juliet is being forced to marry Count Paris. To avoid this, Juliet visits Friar Lawrence and desperately begs him for a solution to the problem. Friar Lawrence concocts a plan, in which Juliet will fake her death to both avoid marrying Paris and reunite with Romeo in Mantua. This plan is infamously imperfect. For one, the entire plan hinges on Romeo being aware that Juliet had faked her death before Friar Lawrence retrieves her from the Capulet tomb. Unfortunately, the exact opposite occurs, and, in his grief, Romeo commits suicide. Juliet, upon waking to Romeo’s corpse, stabs herself and dies.

The irony of the play is that, in the end, Romeo and Juliet’s deaths, not their marriage, is what ends the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets, which was Friar Lawrence’s intent all along. Friar Lawrence, supposedly the wise and reasonable adult of the play, ends up being the most blameworthy character, both because of his deliberately neglectful and ignorant words and actions in regards to the lovestruck pair, as well as his continual promotion of his own overarching agenda. 

All in all, while it may appear that the tragic events of Romeo and Juliet can be solely credited to the cruel hand of destiny, the true blame for the two lovers’ deaths lies in the hands of Friar Lawrence, the trusted adult who leads Romeo and Juliet into a situation from which the only escape is death.

-Mahak M.