Adventures in suburbia photo gallery

By Kevin Ko, 13, Glen A. Wilson HS (Hacienda Heights)
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One Kevin’s favorite things to do this summer was hang out at the park with his friends. From left: Kenny Shih, 13, Daniel Suh, 14, Kevin, Matthew Chang, 13, and Augustine Cheng, 14, all of Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights.

Photo by Allison Ko, 16, Glen A. Wilson HS (Hacienda Heights)

Hacienda Heights, where I live, is small and doesn’t have much to do. The beach is about 40 miles away and Disneyland is about 30 miles away. Before this summer, I’d complain to my parents that I had nothing to do. I’d sit in front of my computer eight hours a day and talk with my friends online. When I heard the garage door open I’d run to my room to pretend like I was making myself useful when my parents walked in.

At the start of this summer I was in summer school and practicing for water polo but I still had lots of extra time. I got sick of always doing nothing so I decided to find something to do. My friends were up for it because they felt just like me. We were talking after water polo one day and decided to do something. Since then, I’ve discovered that it’s better to go out and make our own fun than just stay home complaining about not having anything fun to do.

Every week after water polo practice on Thursday, we’d all hang out. Where’d we hang out? We never knew until after practice, when we’d decide. There are about eight parks, the puny mall where a scene from Back to the Future was filmed, the movie theater and our friends’ houses. No matter how boring it may seem, my friends and I always make it fun.

The route to the mall is my favorite because it goes through the park, which is always fun because of the jungle gyms that we’re told we’re too old for. One Thursday on our way to the mall, my friends and I saw a man with his shirt off jogging in the street. Kenny “whispered” to me “Kevin, look at that dude’s man-boobs. They’re huge!” Of course the man heard and glared at Kenny. I cracked up for the next two blocks. When we saw the park, we ran to the swings like little kids do when they see an ice cream truck. We all swung as high as we could go, reminiscing about elementary school, like when we would have to freeze in place when the bell rang for the end of recess or raise our hands to be excused after lunch.

Once we got to the mall, there was no argument about what movie to watch. All of us wanted to see The Dark Knight. Another night our movie ended at 12:30 in the morning and the parking lot was deserted. There were about 15 guys in our group. What would any group of 13-year-olds do in an abandoned parking lot with no chicks to impress? Play a hardcore game of freeze tag. Another cool thing about Hacienda Heights is that it’s usually very safe 24 hours a day.

There was also the time when it was about 10 at night and we were inside the mall. All the shops were closed and our movie was scheduled to start at 10:30. The escalators were still running, so me and my friends got on going down the escalators that went up, so it would look like we were moonwalking. It was awesome, but the security guard caught us, told us to stop and followed us the rest of the night.

No matter what, we always found something to do. One time when we were walking around school after practice, my friend Ryan saw the tennis courts and thought of a game—tennis, with a water polo ball. We made up the rules as we played. We would throw the ball over the net and the other person would have to catch it with one hand and throw it back. The ball was allowed to bounce only once. People on the next court just stared at us. We thought it was funny.

This has been the best summer so far. I hung out with my friends a lot more, saw a lot of movies, went to almost every park in Hacienda Heights and discovered a new sport in water polo. Hollywood is a big name and the beach is the place to be in California. But just because it’s popular and everyone does it, doesn’t mean it’s the best or most fun thing to do. With the right attitude and a couple of friends, you can find fun things to do around your own neighborhood or town. The possibilities are endless.