Fall Life Hack: Back to Time Management Habits

As a high school student, I know how hard it is to stay on top of your work, keep up your grades, and juggle multiple extra curricular activities. Sometimes, it seems like there just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to get done. Key word: seems. Albeit difficult, time management is possible for everyone, regardless of your number of weighted classes or extracurricular activities. Here are a few tips to get you started on your path to a more organized and relaxed life.

To begin, take some time every Monday to schedule out your week. Know that any major assignments that you have are going to take up a considerable amount of time, and also count on minor assignments adding up to become time consuming tasks. Then, display your schedule in a planner or in another prominent place. I have a few whiteboard stickers on the wall above my desk to help me stay organized, but you can use whatever system works for you.

As your week goes on, try not to procrastinate assignments, big or small. Sometimes, this is impossible. Whenever you can, do homework that isn’t due the next day. Remember that in a world where homework is continuously assigned, you can’t always count on being physically able to do a project in a single night, especially if other teachers assign homework to you on that specific day. Also, remember that all of those small assignments add up! Try not to let them get the best of you.

Finally, reward yourself! Being a student is hard work, and if you study a lot like me, you still deserve to feel like a teenager. Take time after school to unwind, even if this just involves eating a snack or browsing your social media for ten minutes. This seems like it would be counterproductive, but if you let yourself take a break, you will be more productive when you go back to work.

I will admit that my word on this subject is by no means final, these are just a few habits that help me keep myself in check. Procrastinating never leads to less stress, it just compounds the stress you feel at a given time to a later date. With finals edging closer, staying on top of your work becomes even more important! To all of my fellow students, good luck, and I hope that this article helps you feel a little bit more in control of your school life.

-Mirabella S.

Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Required Reading

As students, we’ve all experienced novels in English class that are required for us to read. Sometimes these books turn out to be good and other times, not so much. Personally, I have disliked most of the books I’ve been required to read for a number of reasons. However, I can see the benefits to required reading as it is done through the school system.

There are certainly some advantages to required reading material in school. One could be that the book causes students to branch out of their comfort zone, as far as books go, and help them pursue a new genre that they, normally, would not have read by themselves. This advantage holds true to me, since I am someone who has no trouble re-reading Harry Potter for the zillionth time. I find it interesting if we read a book in class that I would not have otherwise wanted to read.

Required reading can help to grow vocabulary, reading, and writing proficiency. If a student was to go to a library and pick out any book, they would most likely pick one they like or are comfortable with reading. In school, students do not have the luxury of choosing which books to read, and therefore are subject to harder vocabulary and sentence types in higher level books written by authors with insanely confusing diction. This relates to my English class experiences with A Tale of Two Cities which challenged my reading and writing proficiency greatly. Although these examples may make required reading seem great, students may also find themselves despising any book they are forced to read and make it harder for the student to get involved in the class or homework.

A solution to this problem would be to give students a list of different books they can read, all out of their comfort zone of genre and reading proficiency level, and give them the choice of which book they would like to read. This gives students the idea that they themselves are choosing what they want to read which may result in fewer students being uninterested or unfocused while keeping a challenging level of reading and vocabulary along with it.

-Kyle H.

What are your thoughts on required reading? Let us know in the comments below!

Life and Society in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and published in 1925. I liked the fact that this novel accurately depicts what life was like in the 1920’s, and the types of people who lived it. The setting of this novel takes place in New York, and the area in which the main character, Nick, lives is set in West Egg and East Egg. Both of these cities are considered to be wealthy cities. West Egg, where Nick has a home, is considered to be “new money,” while East Egg, where his cousin, Daisy and her husband Tom Buchannan live, is thought to be “old money.”

West Egg is the type of city in which people have earned their money and East Egg is where people have inherited their money from older generations. However, Nick’s neighbor, Jay Gatsby, is known to be the wealthiest of them all. He lives in a humongous mansion and throws parties almost every weekend where anyone is free to attend.  An example of how this novel reflects the conventions of the time period, the 1920’s was known as the “Roaring Twenties,” and the types of parties held signified how careless people were about spending money and that they did not care about ruthless behaviors.

Another example would be that one of the important characters in this novel, George Wilson, lives in an area known as the “Valley of Ashes,” a place where the poor working class live. In the Valley of Ashes, the eyes on a billboard of one of the wealthiest citizens, Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, seems to always watching the entire city. George Wilson believes that Eckleburg is a God after stating “God sees everything” while looking at the billboard. This signifies that the national religion of the United States during the twenties was business and wealth instead of God Himself.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel as this precisely described how life was like in the “Roaring Twenties” with many people becoming wealthy due to the economic boost and how those people were being careless with their money and behaviors. Also, George Wilson believing that the wealthiest are like Gods was also interesting and accurate. However, due to many careless spending, this would ultimately lead to the crash of the stock market and the rise of the Great Depression starting in the 1930’s. I would recommend this book because of how it relates to the accurate history in the United States that occurred and the outcome.

-Matt J

The Great Gatsby is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive and Hoopla

Passion

There was a time in my life when I talked about books as though they were sustenance, as though they were essential to my survival. I devoured stories and inhaled pages. I vividly remember checking out four, five, six books at time and somehow finishing them all before the two weeks were up. Though that experience is shared with many people, a majority of adults fail to make time for reading.

I often wonder where that passion goes.

To most people, reading is thought of as a chore, or something for the forgotten bottom end of a to-do list. Reading is a fizzling New Year’s Resolution. Reading is a Barnes & Noble credit card but dusty shelves. When people talk about getting back into reading, it is as though they are starting a new project at work, as though they are radically changing their schedules.

New units of time have to be carved out of a schedule, clearly labeled “READ” in blocky black lettering. Books fill shopping bags, along with all the obviously necessary accessories to reading – fancy bookmarks and clip on lights and slogan-laden tote bags – because now, you are a Reader.

There is something lost in this frenzy. In this sort of Oprah’s Book Club, unbroken-spine kind of reading, books are a status symbol.

I find myself in this rut occasionally. Rearranging and rearranging the same shelves with an obsessiveness, buying War and Peace and Les Miserables because they’re the sort of books a pretentious academic like myself should have.

I miss that feeling that all library-bound children have. That feeling that there were an infinite amount of words in the world, and if I only read fast enough, flipped enough pages, then I would be able to drink them all in.

So many people have a desire to read; to become that excited kid again. We want to be the one who’s not only Heard of That, but Read It. We want to know authors and quotes and have worn paperbacks to pass on to friends and family. We want to feel that love and intensity that stories used to inspire.

I truly believe that feeling is still inside every adult today. Maybe it’s buried under stress and deadlines and distraction, but it’s there.

All we have to do is find the right book.

-Zoe K.

The Google Art Project

The Google Art Project is a vast collection of art and from different museums from all over the world that can be visited without leaving the house. There are many benefits to visiting this online museum, and while these benefits are very helpful, some could be improved.

As I was exploring the different features, I found many perks in visiting the Google Art Project. For example, I found a panel that grouped pieces of art by the artist, medium, art movement, historical events or figures, and places. This was nice because it allowed me to find many art pieces in a certain category. One of my favorite things while visiting this online museum was the zoom feature, which lets me see finer details, such as printed text and small, intricate designs left by the artist, I would not have otherwise been able to see had I gone to a regular museum. The drawback to this, however, was that although I could see the artwork in more detail, it took a long time to load when I wanted to zoom in very closely, so it wastes some time, too. Another helpful thing the museum has is virtual tours of some museums.

The Google Art Project, in making art and museums more accessible to the general public, allows people to appreciate art and history to a greater degree, and I believe that this is important in a society. While the Art Project could be improved and expanded, I think that it’s a good start in allowing more people who may not have the time or don’t live close to a museum to access artworks.

-Aliya A.

Essay: A Tale of Two Cities and the Conditions Before the French Revolution

In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens uses diction to adopt a tone of pity toward the social conditions of France during the period before the French Revolution. At the beginning of the novel a barrel of wine spills, and the people are depicted as having “devoted themselves to the sodden and lee-dyed pieces of the cask, licking, and even champing, the moister wine-rotted fragments with eager relish.” The use of the word “devoted” implies that the poor do not have the freedom to eat when they want, as once the wine cask breaks, everyone quickly drops what they are doing so that they can get a few drops of spilled wine off of the street, and they are so desperate for food that they are not letting go of the fragments of wood. Using the words “champing” and “eager relish,” Dickens demonstrates how, although it was just wood, people still excitedly bit and chewed it with enjoyment and delight, attesting to the fact that the peasants of France are so poor and starved that they have to resort to chewing on rotten wood to get a few drops of wine for nourishment, something that someone who might be even marginally better off would not have even thought of doing.

Later on, Dickens describes how “Hunger was the inscription on the baker’s shelves, written in every small loaf of his scanty stock of bad bread”. The word “scanty” to describe the baker’s stock of “bad” bread emphasizes how there is not enough food for the peasants (which eventually led to the peasant women marching to the palace and taking Louis XVI back to Paris), because although it is the baker’s job to supply the people with food, even he does not have a full larder. The fact that the baker has bad bread demonstrates that bread, which was the staple food of the French diet, is running out or is not being consumed, because the baker does not have enough supplies or resources to make fresh bread as a result of no one being able to buy the bread in the first place. These examples serve to highlight the tone of pity Dickens adopts toward the condition of the peasants in France, as they are reduced to scavenging for food and are not able to sustain themselves, and implies that they had a good reason to rebel. The author’s words serve to highlight the reality of the peasants before the French Revolution, which helped me understand to a greater degree how bad the situation had been, as opposed to just reading the facts in a textbook or article.

-Aliya A.

Why Fiction Is As Beneficial As Nonfiction

The debate over fiction and nonfiction is a battle between escapism and reality. Fictional stories immerse readers in vast worlds with intriguing characters, while nonfiction books expand readers’ horizons in the real world.

There is an ongoing debate over which is more useful for readers to consume.

In our world of literature, nonfiction is often considered more educational and useful than fiction. While nonfiction deals with the more pressing matters of the real world, fiction distracts readers with entertainment. Just the word escapism carries a negative connotation. If it weren’t for some extra vocabulary, reading a story might be the same as watching a movie.

Right? Wrong.

Fiction is a reader’s lens to view the world through a different perspective. Experiencing a fictional character’s life produces empathy in a way that cold facts fail to achieve. A Canadian research group led by Keith Oatley found that reading literary fiction greatly increased readers’ abilities to assess emotions and social situations. In a world where EQ (emotional quotient) often trumps IQ, empathy is extremely important. It increases a reader’s sense of morality, often through the repeated use of poetic justice. By ending most stories with the villains defeated, fiction reinforces that justice should triumph. On the other hand, only reading about the real world can create a feeling that life is cruel, and nothing can change that fact. Fiction readers have a less rigid line of thinking, and are more adaptable and comfortable with uncertainty.

Especially in children, fiction stimulates imagination and creativity, which in my opinion are just as important as knowledge. Imagination inspires dreams, creates goals, and makes the world seem more beautiful. It transports readers away from the mundanity of life. Happiness and relaxation are good things.

Many people dismiss fiction because they think it provides no tangible benefit to the mind. They believe knowledge and facts are extracted from truth, not stories. But can’t we learn from stories too? Who would argue that 1984 didn’t teach us about the dangers of authoritarian governments? Or that To Kill A Mockingbird didn’t highlight racial tensions? My point is, fiction can educate the public as well as nonfiction, and sometimes in a more convincing manner.

To sum it all up, fiction should stay with readers throughout their entire lives. Don’t cast away the creativity of childhood as you transition into adulthood. Of course, nonfiction is equally important, and we all want a balance of dreams and reality. So read a little of both, however much longer one might take compared to the other. Collect information and insight, while cultivating creativity. Reap the best of both genres!