The Joy of Summer

Summer is more than just a season to me. To me, it’s the anthem of teenage freedom, the epitome of happiness, the release of stress. Every year, summer gets better because I learn to enjoy it more. From the outrageous heat to the cooling ocean, from late nights out with friends to weekends with family, summer is the season I live for and thrive in.

The heat wraps its arms around me when I step outside and although I relentlessly complain about the warmth, I am ever so grateful for the sunshine. The bright light pours down on me, leaving my skin sunkissed and my hair lighter. The long days under the sun feel like an eternity of bliss. It’s tangible happiness that makes me both long for the coolness of fall and desire to soak up every ray. Finally, after twelve hours of light, the sun bids the world goodnight and paints an incomprehensibly beautiful sunset. The pink and orange mix with the blue and purple on Mother Nature’s canvas, leaving me in awe and wonder.

A true blessing of summer is the liberty of swimming in the ocean for hours. The waves of Laguna Beach save me from the scorching heat and free me from all my responsibilities. Shocking coldness sends chills up my body but once I jump in and plunge my head under the salty water, it’s as if everything is right in the world. The ocean is a huge basin of excitement that allows me to float on your back, dive under the waves or ride them to shore. It’s calming and exhilarating, addicting and tiring all at once.

The beauty of this season is the joy of being with my loved ones. There’s nothing better in the world than making last minute plans to ride the trolley and hit the beach with my best friends or drive down to McDonald’s late at night to grab ice cream with my family. Adventure is everywhere and summer enables me to share those adventures with anyone at almost any given time. The long days and late nights are memories I will never forget or trade for anything.

Happiness can never be stripped from me and my smile seems to be etched into my face. I am joyful, I am energetic, I am forever in love with summer. And I hold onto these feelings and memories throughout the school year, reminding me that it’s only a matter of time before summer 2019 begins and I get to experience summer all over again.

-Jessica T.

Trapped

Trapped

The wood screams as I rip through it, scratching another jagged line in the floor with my rock. Another tally mark. The pattern is etched onto the majority of my floor, making it harder to hide under my rug each day. 267 days to be exact.

267 days I’ve been here. And with each day I’m closer to leaving, closer to my freedom. Hopefully. I can only dream that one day I’ll be given the chance to escape. It shouldn’t be much longer now. The money is with me, almost the whole five thousand, my bail money for this jail cell. When I’ve collected it all, this time I’ve spent in my dark cave will feel like a dream as I begin a new life on my own.

I reach down from my position on my bed and run a finger over the dust I’ve created on the ground to make my artwork smoother. Without this to keep me busy, I would’ve lost my mind. Alone in my room, unable to leave, I don’t see people much. The windows I have are boarded up with little rays of sunlight to expose me to the outside world. I should be insane by now. But I’m trying everything to prevent that while I still have my dream in mind.

I can almost picture the apartment I’ll get with windows stretching from the ceiling all the way to the floor, to bathe my pale skin in sun and give life to my sullen figure. All the food I’ll eat after getting used to scarce flavorless meals each day. And the city. The best part is the city. Streets busy with people, rushing to jobs or important meetings. Bright lights lining the roads and buildings and entertainers on every corner. I can see myself bustling along in the crowd, getting swept through the sea of people and not caring where they take me as long as I keep moving. Far away from here.

A tear drips from my eyes and wets the woodwork below me. My heart feels warm, taking me away from reality. This fairy tale is the only way to keep me safe from the horrors I face now.

-Sabrina C.

The History of Thanksgiving

Turkey, breaded stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, and apple cider? Sound familiar? You got it.

The meal of Thanksgiving is a hearty one, shared with friends and family. You know the star of the meal, the turkey, but have you ever wondered how the first ever Thanksgiving was celebrated? It was nothing like the one we have today, that’s for sure.

You’ve probably heard of the Pilgrims, traveling across treacherous oceans on the famous Mayflower to reach Plymouth, escaping from religious persecution. It all started in 1621, when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of Thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

First off, turkey wasn’t the bird of choice for the first Thanksgiving meal. It is suspected by researchers that duck, geese, swans, or a now extinct bird named passenger pigeons would be the main wild bird of choice. It is possible that the birds were stuffed, though probably not with bread. The Pilgrims instead stuffed birds with chunks of onion and herbs.

In addition to wild birds and deer, the colonists and Wampanoag probably ate eels and shellfish, such as lobster, clams and mussels. They had a well-balanced diet, with chestnuts, walnuts, and beechnuts. They also grew beans, pumpkins, and squashes. All this, naturally, begs a follow-up question. So how did the Thanksgiving menu evolve into what it is today?

Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, was a leading voice in establishing Thanksgiving as an annual event. She is also famous as the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Beginning in 1827, Hale petitioned 13 presidents to make it a national holiday. Finally, she pitched her idea to President Lincoln as a way to unite the country in the midst of the Civil War. In 1863, he made Thanksgiving a national holiday, a day to give thanks.

Throughout her campaign, Hale printed Thanksgiving recipes and menus in Godey’s Lady’s Book. She also published close to a dozen cookbooks. Hale is readying women to accept the idea of Thanksgiving, and instructing them what to cook. And the Thanksgiving food that we think of today — including roast turkey, creamed onions, mashed turnips, even some of the mashed potato dishes? You can find them in her cookbook.

-Katharine L.

Passion For Reading

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., 11th grade

Find your right book at the Mission Viejo Library. Titles are also available to download through Overdrive and Hoopla.

Characters We Carry With Us

Do you carry
Your characters with you,
As you
Carry on?

Do you keep
them in your pocket
or hold them
in your heart?

I do.

They are there
To relate to.
To learn more about.
To understand.
To be understood.
To make life,
Make sense.

I carry my characters with me.
I hold them in
My heart.
They are my friends
And I carry them
With me.

Your favorite books, the ones that sit in a place of honor on your bookshelf, are the books that you have read more than a million times because something about them feels right– they feel like home. They feel like home because of the setting. They feel like home simply because they have been read and re-read more times than you can count. But sometimes, they feel like home because of the characters. We can turn to these books and know that when we immerse ourselves in their pages that we will be with old friends.

Often the characters we love the most have been with us the longest. They come from the books we loved as children. Sara Crewe from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess, Winnie Foster in Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting, Hattie Owen from Ann M. Martin’s A Corner of the Universe, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March form Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, the daughters and families of Heather Vogel Frederick’s The Mother-Daughter Book Club series, any of the girls in the American Girl series, and- of course- Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger (and every other character in those books) from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series are all examples of beloved characters and the list could go on. We love them as children but as we grow older we can understand them in new ways as we experience life.

As you go about your life do you ever find yourself thinking, “Oh, so this is how that character felt when…” or “this person reminds me of a certain character in that book
or maybe even “I wish I could be more like this character?”” I do. One of the best parts about reading is that as we read, we gain something that can never be lost. C. S. Lewis said that “We read to know we are not alone.” How true this is! In books we see characters with stories, with problems, with feelings, that are just like ours. We realize that we can relate to them, and the loneliness is lost in realization that someone else, fictional or not, understands. Am I alone in admiring Sara Crewe’s bravery, determination, or heart? Am I alone in admiring Jo March’s will to better herself or her individuality? Am I alone in admiring Harry Potter’s courage, loyalty, and love? I don’t think so. These traits are something that everyone admires and are one reason we love these character so much– we hope to be like them.

These characters, or friends, teach us lessons about life and help us understand the world. They can always be relied upon to be there to return to, whether you are upset or simply miss them. As J.K. Rowling said, “The stories we love best do live in us forever so whether you can come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

I believe that characters too, will also always welcome us home because they never truly leave us.

-Stephanie R., 11th grade