The Easy Ways to Escape Boredom

Now that summer is coming up I know that I will eventually get bored and sit scrolling on TikTok for hours on my bed. But come on, there are better and more productive ways to fill the time than mindless scrolling. I admit I also can spend hours on my phone even if I know that I am not gaining anything or even being entertained in some cases. I then develop the ick feeling of being bored, unproductive, and tired that most of you have probably gone through.

One way to get rid of that feeling when it seems like there is nothing to do is to reorganize or redecorate my room. Go through all your photos  and print them out to arrange on your walls or orientate your furniture. You can put together a collage or bulletin board with random things around your room or redo your bulletin board as I do. Then wipe down all your counters and vacuum your floor so your room is fresh, clean, and has a new atmosphere. Sometimes to get rid of the ick feeling of boredom, cleaning your room to perfection is the trick. 

Sometimes if it gets really bad, I give myself a mini spa day. Start with taking a long refreshing shower or bath, deep conditioning your hair by doing a hair mask. Then leave the shower and complete a skincare routine. Put on a face mask or moisturizer so your face will feel clean and fresh. Next up, give yourself a manicure, pedicure, or both. You use your hands and feet every day, freshen them up and it will feel great. 

When laying on your bed on your phone, force yourself to stand up and do a workout. This doesn’t have to be a high-intensity weightlifting workout. Do some yoga and meditation by finding different videos on YouTube. Yoga and meditation help clear the mind and stretch out your body that has been sitting down for hours. For all those people with lingering stress, yoga will help relieve a lot of the tension built up in your body. Or go for a walk or light jog outside or on a treadmill, giving yourself some fresh air and also forcing your body to be active. Although it will be painful to start, once your workout, whatever it may be, is over, you will feel much better.

I know most of these suggestions seem very basic, but when someone is addicted to their phone and has been stuck inside for hours, many people develop this gross feeling that is hard to go away. Over time, I have found that completing these different activities can help motivate me and honestly get rid of that gross feeling.

-Lilly G.

Diversifying the English Curriculum: Representation in Literature

If you ask a group of high schoolers what they read in their English Lit. class, you’ll most likely hear very similar answers from all of them: A Tale of Two Cities, Shakespeare, The Great Gatsby, A Christmas Carol, the list goes on. For decades, most of what students read in their English classes has been the same.

While it is important to read and analyze classics such as the ones mentioned, many schools disregard representation in the chosen books for this said motive. When taking a look at the demographics of the authors that have written most of the books in the high school curriculum, you’ll find that almost all of them are men, and almost all of them are white. This results in many students’ English class experience being Euro-centric and lacking in diversity.

In my own high school career, I have only read one book written by a woman (out of 8, currently) and no books written by any POC authors. Writing is my passion, and while I hope to one day be able to use that in my career, it’s discouraging to not see a more diverse range of people representing this career path.

Not only is the diversity of authors important, but also the content that is in these books. A less diverse pool of authors means that the stories read will most likely not contain many different cultures and points of view. One of the main aspects of literature is being able to resonate with the story, and without diverse authors, many high school readers are left feeling disconnected from the lesson and unrepresented in their classroom.

Another important aspect is being introduced to new cultures. This is especially important in schools that are lacking in diversity. Being exposed to different values, religions, and ways of life in general through literature prepares teens for the world, and teaches them to be respectful toward others that have different lifestyles than they do. It helps to be knowledgeable of other beliefs besides one’s own, but this isn’t possible if English classes’ works of literature do not represent a wide variety of cultures.

We live in a world that is quickly changing, a lot for the better. English classes need to reflect this change and update curriculums so that students can learn from and resonate with what they’re reading.

-Luxi B.

Coping with Stress and Emotions

Lately, in my personal life, I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress and emotional mood swings, so I thought I’d share how I’m dealing with it. As a teenager growing physically and emotionally every day, I’ve recently been feeling a lot of confusing and unexplainable emotions. I’ve also been extremely stressed with school and the excessive workloads I’ve had to deal with, especially as the school year begins to come to a close.

With the help of all my loved ones, I’m doing much better now and I’m really enjoying myself amidst all the homework and stress. Without further ado, here are four ways to deal with stress and difficult emotions.

1. Write it down! When you are feeling stressed or confused, try writing it down on paper, whether it’s in a long paragraph of thought, a free verse poem, angry bullet points, or indecipherable scribbles. It feels great to release your thoughts and emotions, and you can really get creative with a pen to paper. Also, you can just throw away or shred up the paper later!

2. Talk to someone about it! One thing I’ve realized is that keeping secrets to yourself will not help. Bottling up emotions just consumes you and makes you feel so much worse, and you will feel disconnected or isolated from your loved ones. Mine have always been there for me, and I’ve found that they definitely have my back, and I can trust them and just have a nice long talk about my life with them. Talking to someone you love is a huge help.

3. Do something/find something you love! One of my favorite ways to spend my free time is listening to music. I love music because it puts me in a good mood and takes my mind off of whatever is going on at the moment. Do something that makes you happy, like reading a book or watching a nostalgic movie!

4. Don’t get distracted from your work! When you’re doing homework or trying to get something done, don’t let yourself be distracted. I’ve found that in the past, having my phone beside me when I’m working is an extremely unproductive arrangement. Every time I get a notification, I pick up my phone and can’t put it down for a long time. Recently I have been putting my phone far away from me when I work, and I’ve been so much more productive. Also, in the cases that I am productive and get a lot of work done, I’m really happy with myself and I allow myself to feel good and have a good day.

I hope this helps! Good luck!

-Lam T.

Managing Stress

As finals and AP season is fast approaching, it can become an increasingly stressful time for high schoolers. With the school year coming to a close, events are being crammed at the last minute and there isn’t much time for things outside of work. With so much to do, it can be hard to find time to relax and make sure that we as students aren’t getting too stressed out and overworked.

With finals happening at the end of May and AP testing at the beginning, it can be hard during April for students to find time off. Yes, we do get Spring Break, but even that is spent studying for tests that we have when we come back. Some things I do to try and make things easier is always setting a schedule for myself the day before. I try not to put too much on my plate at once, knowing that I will most likely not be able to get it done.

I also work on trying to make sure that I do the work as soon as it is assigned rather than letting it pile up. Typically, teachers give multiple days to do assignments. The issue with that is that they’re easier to put off until the last minute. Doing the assignments the day they are assigned, rather than the day they are due, means that I have more time later on in the day or week to do things that I want to do for myself.

I also try to always create a group of people in each class that I can reach out to if I need help studying for something. Though I sometimes think I understand it, my friend might have a different way at looking at something that makes more sense. This also allows me to be social because I can study and hang out at the same time. 

The next few months can be overwhelming, but if we as students just try to get the work done when we get it and focus on what we can control, it will be less stressful. Having a good school support system is always good, so that you can keep being social while also getting things done for school.

-Danielle B.

College Stress: Tips While You Wait for Decisions

Applying to colleges is stressful. But what many don’t tell you is that waiting to hear back, and then having to pick a college, is even worse. I was lucky enough to hear back from my dream school in December. But many of my friends don’t have that same luxury. Though we all finished our applications around the same time, many of them have to wait until March to hear back from all their schools. After that, they then have to go through the process of which school you want to go to.

On top of the stress of the waiting game to hear back from schools, you’ll have people at every corner telling you whether or not you should go to this school or that. Everyone around you is lobbying for their favorite. Parents, of course, usually want their kids to stay close by. Relatives are hoping you’ll be near them. It can be hard to block out the people around you and figure out what you truly want for yourself.

When you have more than one top school, it can be hard to find the one for you. I always recommend that my friends visit the schools they are most interested in. That way, they can get a feel of the campus as well as some of the people they will be surrounded with for the next four years of their lives. On top of that, make sure you do really good research on the living situations, meals, and transport on campus.

I found that the two most important things when I was picking a school were extracurricular activities and job opportunities. I wanted to make sure that I had fun on campus and would have things to do outside of just going to school and the occasional football game. Perhaps even more important than that was that I would be able to get job experience while on campus, whether it be internships or even just making connections with people in my industry. 

So even though college can be stressful, hopefully you have some tips to help you pick the right school and relax a little while you wait for colleges to return their decisions. 

-Danielle B.

Advice From A Current Senior

I am now approaching the end of my senior year and have plenty of advice to give to those either entering high school, or those who will soon be seniors.

Sports

My top advice even before getting into classes would be getting involved with your school’s sports. Join a sports team, even if you’re not very good or nervous. You will make so many friends on a team and even more memories. I ran in track and field my freshman and sophomore years and still think back to all the great times I had. I was beyond nervous joining track but have no regrets now. Being a part of a sport will also greatly improve your mental health because you’ll be outside and exercising releases serotonin. 

Classes

I recommend everyone to at least try an advanced class at some point in high school. I especially recommend taking honors courses your freshman and sophomore years because the classes are relatively easy for the GPA boost. Secondly, I recommend taking all your harder classes your first three years of high school so your senior year is easier. You really do not want to overload your schedule senior year because you will probably be worrying about college, life after high school, or working a job. Finally, my last recommendation is taking health, civics/government, or economics online over the summer. Most schools should have this as an option and typically the summer courses are shorter than a semester. This will free up time your senior year to either get out of school earlier or take other electives you’re interested in

Extracurricular/Miscellaneous

My final recommendation is just getting involved with your school. Go to school dances, join clubs, and go to sport’s games. I never went to any dances my freshman and sophomore year of highschool and it has been one of my biggest regrets. Enjoy going to football games or watching other sports because you might regret it once you graduate. Finally, don’t be afraid to join some clubs. This will help you make friends, explore your interests and look good for college applications.

-Michelle L.

Biology? What?

Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science…. the list continues for a while. As a current high schooler, one of my new interests is learning about biology. When I first signed up for AP biology for the 2021-2022 school year I was not the most excited, to say the least. But, now being 5 months into the course, I am happy to say I made the right decision in choosing which course of the many sciences offered to take. 

Just like most people, when I go through my daily schedule, the interactions inside and outside of my body were not a thought that ever crossed my mind. But now, my perspective has shifted. One of the most interesting aspects of biology is learning how all of those little organelles inside of your body all work together to create specific outcomes that keep you alive. Unlike most other offered courses, normal or AP biology highlights the extreme complexity of organisms and how our bodies have evolved into completing intricate processes such as cellular respiration. If you are a person like me, someone that is always curious about how things we expect in life work, biology is an interest that may be worth picking up. 

For those of you reading this and still not found a spark of interest, you may be more interested in the other parts of biology. Currently, I am learning about genetics, or how organisms inherit distinct traits. If you have ever stared at your family and wondered why you look like none of your siblings even though you come from the same set of parents, it is not just a fluke. Siblings could show traits that even their parents do not have and it is still completely normal! Coming from a big family of 6, I had always wondered why I did not look like a single one of my brothers and sisters. Learning about recessive traits, dominant traits, etc… explains why there is such a low likelihood of you looking like anyone else in the entire world.

Personally, these types of topics are thoughts that have lingered in the back of my mind and now that I am actively learning about the interactions of life, are all answered. So, to any of you still reading this, I encourage you to find an interest that you find curious and interesting so that you want to find out more. Biology is a topic that applies to everyday life and is complex and always offers something new to learn.

-Lilly G.

Free Periods in School

Class schedules can be something that make or break how good someone’s year can be. If they have a list of really hard classes all in a row, they can get really stressed out. On the other hand however, if someone has classes that are of no challenge to them, they could often find themselves getting bored. 

I’ve found something out my senior year with my schedule. When I entered this year, I was originally in 7 classes and 4 of those were APs. I decided that math wasn’t the class for me, and bumped down to just 6 classes total, 4 APs. This was the first year that I have ever had a free period. Now that I’ve realized just how useful those can be, I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner.

With my free period, I am able to get homework done as well as hang out with friends and help my favorite teachers. Not only that, but when I’m done with my work, I can take naps. Now while that isn’t the best use of time, those naps are always helpful in keeping me awake when I have practice. 

My free period this year has made me happier overall. Now that I can get most of my work done in school, after practice I have much more time to relax when I get home. I highly recommend if you can take a free period, do it. It is much better for both mental health and overall stress. With a slightly less packed schedule and more free time after school, I am able to connect more with friends and family as well as catch up on much needed sleep. 

School schedules often cause stress that really shouldn’t be there. So the next time you have to plan a schedule, try to squeeze in a free period so that you also have time to catch up on sleep, with friends, and just overall try to improve stress levels.

-Danielle B. 

Summer Programs for Current Juniors

As a junior in high school, the college application season is right around the corner. Although applying to college may seem like a daunting and overwhelming tasks, there are many resources and programs designed to help students achieve their dreams and be accepted to their top schools. Personally, as a first-generation student, I had no guidance from my parents or siblings on how to apply to college or what to do in order to be seen as a competitive applicants. As a result, I would like to share some of the programs that have helped me through this difficult process and even boosted my college applications.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund Youth Leadership Institute

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Hispanic-American students succeed in college and beyond. As a junior, one is given the opportunity to be a part of this amazing organization by applying to their Youth Leadership Institute, which is a five day program that takes place over the summer. The requirements for this programs are that the applicant must have at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, be of Hispanic Heritage, be a current junior, and plan on applying applying and attending a 4-year university after high school. The program is a highly selective one given that it has around a 10% acceptance rate and has a national pool of applications every year. The program selects students that have demonstrated amazing academic achievement and leadership in their communities. The YLI is currently sponsored by two schools, the University of Chicago and the University of Southern California.

I had the amazing opportunity of attending the YLI at the University of Chicago this past summer and met many incredibly driven and talented individuals. Although the program is usually in-person at the sponsored colleges, because of COVID, the program was online this year. Nevertheless, the spirit of the YLI was definitely felt. I was able to receive invaluable guidance and information regarding the college application process through my mentor as well as the various presentations given throughout the program. My favorite part of the program, however, was being able to speak with high-achieving Latinx leaders, executives, and professionals. Their stories were very inspirational and allowed me to see people with similar backgrounds as me that have been very successful. Overall, this program was life-changing and allowed me to see myself as a competitive applicant at top institutions. I highly recommend that any ambitious Latinx juniors apply to the program.

UCI High School Institute in Law

The UCI HS Institute in Law is a 5 day program designed to introduce high school students to the profession and study of law. The program is somewhat expensive ($1100); however, if you are really interested in attending and are unable to pay the full price, UCI has an application for a full scholarship. The program itself does not require an application. The only requirement is that one must be currently in high school.

Due to COVID and other complications, the program was unfortunately cancelled. They replaced it with a one-day preview of law school. However, I’m sure that the in-person and full program is very informational and have heard that it is great for those aspiring to pursue a career in law.

I completed both of these programs the summer before my senior year; however, there are many other programs that I wish I would have known about and would have loved to have attended. To name a few there is the USC Bovard Scholar program, Dartmouth Bound program, and College Prep Scholar program among others. I highly recommend applying to these programs and researching some do your own if you are interested in applying to top institutions. They are very inspirational, informative, and look great on college applications.

-Yvette C.

Cough and Cold Season: How do I Avoid it?

It is officially a cough and cold season everybody! With the new stands of covid spreading along with the yearly flu, it is very important to know how to stay safe in a time like this. Unlike normal flu seasons, Covid-19 is still as apparent as ever, making the process of taking precautions even more serious. Here I am going to let the public know, or remind them, of the important precautions that should be taken to accommodate the flowing viruses.

First and foremost, wash your hands!! Whenever you get home from school, work, or an event, the first thing you should think of doing is washing your hands. I know that saying this sounds like a no-brainer, but most people do not wash their hands when they get home. To put into perspective, all of the bacteria from all the different places you touched that others have also touched are all on your hands. If you were to eat, all that bacteria that may carry viruses will go into your system, which is not good! By consistently washing your hands, you are minimizing the chance of exposure.

My next precautionary step is something most people do not think of, which is disinfecting your phone. For most, their phone is like an extension of their body, meaning it travels everywhere with them. People also tend to always place their phones on tables, bags, and other dirty surfaces. When doing this, your phone picks up more bacteria than you could think of and is dirtier than a toilet seat. Now that you are thinking about all the places you have left your phone at today, think about how viruses could be on your phone, which you touch every day. To prevent your phone from causing a cold, always keep it when you get home. This means taking a disinfectant wipe and cleaning off your phone, killing all of the bacteria that had collected on your phone throughout the day. This way the bacteria is not transferring from your phone to your hands, which could cause you to get sick.

My last step may be the most important, that is to get the flu or covid vaccines. I am fully aware that vaccination has become politicized, but I am merely speaking from a neutral perspective, a health perspective. If you can find your local CVS or Walgreens, make an appointment to get the flu or cold vaccine. This way if you are exposed to either of the viruses, your body will have some immunity, and either you will not get sick, or you will experience symptoms that are a fraction as bad as they would have been without the vaccine. This way your immune system is built up and ready to face the virus that may enter your body. 

These are my helpful tips to keep you guys safe during this fall season!

-Lilly G.