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My Secret Identity

Trying to be someone else is not healthy. Why would you be someone else? You are who you are and you have to accept that. There is good and bad in everyone. Berley did not accept himself at first, because he thought being someone else would feel better and it didn’t. He realized it was even worse.
—Monica Anguiano, North HS (Torrance)

I can relate to this article. I used to try to be someone I’m not. When my parents split up, the whole world seemed as if it was going to end. The only way I could hide my tears and not say anything was to be someone else. But it wasn’t worth it. I learned that being someone else doesn’t get you anywhere.
—Jennifer Ortega, North HS

I think it was a great article and that Berley Kerr should be himself. I think that you will get a girlfriend when it’s your time. Knowing everything in class is not bad, but good. I like those kinds of guys, although I don’t have a boyfriend. My friends say that I should get a makeover and then I will have guys wanting to go out with me. But I like to be myself and don’t worry about how I look or what people think about me.
—Josefina Reynoso, Verdugo Hills HS

I felt it was very interesting the way Berley lived his life as Brian. Everything was unnatural about him. After time, he started to feel guilty about lying to all those girls. A lot of people choose to dress and act differently, just to fit in. But being somebody you’re not can really hurt someone—especially yourself.
—Priscilla Reyes, Crenshaw Learn Charter HS

A candlelight vigil at Covenant House

I think Covenant House is a good idea. It gives homeless teens a place to live and grow up. I don’t understand why it isn’t open for all ages. I know kids in foster care who are scared to leave it. If I had to be in foster care, I’d rather be at Covenant House where there are security cameras everywhere. It’s safer there than living with foster parents who you don’t know. If I could run a place like Covenant House, it would be open for all ages. Everyone would be welcome and we’d provide for all your needs there. There would be some rules and restrictions, but other than that, everything would be okay.
—Dawn Driver, North HS

I thought it was a good idea to give youth who died on the streets a ceremony and also to give the homeless youth a shelter to live in. It’s good to help those teens out. That way when it’s time for them to be responsible, it won’t be hard for them to take care of themselves, because someone taught them how to do it.
—Crystal Miller, Crenshaw Learn Charter HS

How could their parents abandon them? Parents have the responsibility to take care of their children and make sure they’re provided for. I knew a girl whose father was on drugs. She would come over to my house when her father and his friends did drugs. Later, her family put the father in rehab so he could kick his drug addiction.
—Tracy Swift, Crenshaw Learn Charter HS

Is ditching OK?

Ditching school is taken seriously here at my high school, when in fact there are kids bringing drugs and weapons to school. They should pay more attention to those matters. School officials often spend time walking around looking for ditchers, and don’t look to solve more important problems that affect all students.
—Crystal Lynn Curtis, Verdugo Hills HS

It’s not okay to ditch, because security might catch you. They will take you to the office and call your parents. You will get detention or even get expelled and that’s not all–you also get a ticket from the police. Your parents will punish you, too. They will have to pay the ticket and go to court. That’s why ditching is not okay.
—Jose Murillo, Cudahy, CA

Why would you want to ditch? It makes it harder on yourself when you come back and don’t know what went on the day before.
—Felis Brown, North HS

Ditching is entirely up to you. If you don’t want to go to school or a particular class, then you should not be forced to. You should be able to suffer the consequences due to your absence. It’s wrong to ditch. But when there is a substitute, I tend not to do as much work as when my real teacher is there, because other students do what they want and sometimes the substitutes don’t care.
—Demondre Clark, Crenshaw Learn Charter HS

I think it’s okay to ditch, because we need breaks from our parents and teachers. Lunch isn’t long enough for students. We need time to relax and take some of the stress off. That’s why I ditch. Teachers and parents just don’t understand how life is these days. Some students might have family problems or personal problems. Teachers and parents just don’t understand.
—Deveone Coleman, Crenshaw Learn Charter HS

Fighting for respect against discrimination

The reason I’m writing about Richard’s article, is because the same thing happened to me when I was a little kid. I didn’t know how to speak English. I only knew Spanish. I can understand the pain and madness he was going through. Like he said in the article "I felt so mad that I wanted to punch them in the face, kick them in the stomach and make them shut up." I can really relate to that, because I felt like that, too.
—Jaime Barrios, Crenshaw Learn Charter HS

I identified with this story, because it’s very hard to be from another culture. I’m Latin and before I learned English, I was taught Spanish. I don’t think it is fair to treat others differently, just because someone does not speak English. It doesn’t make them inferior. We have to remind ourselves that we should respect each other the same way we would want to be respected.
—Cindy Mendez, Crenshaw Learn Charter HS

Reading Richard Kwon’s story helped me think about my parents, who came to America in their early 20s. They didn’t know English and didn’t automatically start a fabulous life. They worked hard for what they have accomplished. I know they were disrespected, because they came to America for a better life. They are good citizens. Just because they were not born here does not make them bad. I look around now and realize that people against immigrants are ignorant. They should open their eyes and realize that not all immigrants are the problem – it’s mostly the citizens.
—Monica Anguiano, North HS

I think this is a very sad article. It makes our country look very bad, when people can’t accept others for who they are.
—Sean Hoyt, North HS

I remember last year, there was a group of guys who didn’t like me because I didn’t act like them. They always called me names. It got to the point where I didn’t even want to come to school. Thank God they all graduated. No one should have to be teased and treated like that. I think if you tease someone habitually, it should be automatic grounds for expulsion.
—Justin Trice, North HS

This article made me think a lot. It’s interesting how some people will intertwine with others and have a huge group of friends, while other races stick to themselves. One time, my friend and I wanted to jump rope with some black girls, and they wouldn’t let us. They gave us dirty looks. It doesn’t matter where you go, prejudice is everywhere. Rick unfortunately didn’t speak any English, which made it twice as hard on him.
—Jennifer Ingles, North HS

If you come to California to live, then you should know English. If you don’t know English, then you shouldn’t live in California, because the home language is English.
—Amanda Webber, Verdugo Hills HS

I think it was sad how Richard was treated on his first day of school. I would have done the same thing by hitting those kids who bugged him about his race. He can’t help it if he can’t speak English. But from the way he wrote his article, I don’t think he has trouble with the language anymore. I agree English is hard to learn. I had troubles with English and Spanish, so I know what he’s feeling.
—Aldo Solares, Verdugo Hills HS

I don’t think anyone should make fun of immigrants, because all our ancestors immigrated to the U.S. I’m sure this article made a lot of people think of the times they made fun of others.
—Angelica Rosette, Verdugo Hills HS

I identified with Richard’s article. I was teased at school because of my overbite. It hurts to feel unaccepted. Most mornings, I’d cry and pretend to be sick, so I wouldn’t have to go to school. But then I learned that you shouldn’t take in thoughts that hurt, but listen to thoughts that you enjoy.
—Kimberly Rivas, Verdugo Hills HS

Homeless for the holidays

I felt really bad for this girl who had the guts to leave her house and sleep behind a broken down theater. She ran away from her problems and tried to make it on her own. Years later, she’s still trying to deal with it. Her problems must have been really bad for her to stay away for four years. I really hope everything works out for this girl. I don’t know what I would have done in her case. I probably would have returned home at some point. My mom would kill me anyway.
—Dawna Driver, North HS

This article made me sad, because I know some people who don’t know where they’re going to sleep at night. It makes me sad to think of them out on the streets at night in this kind of rainy cold weather!
—April M., North HS

After reading this article, I was struck by a feeling of sadness. Many of us never stop and think that people are alone and homeless even during the holidays. We’re lucky to have such gracious people like the man that M. Gar Caswell met and helped her realize that she’s still connected to the world. Homeless people are not homeless by choice, but rather by chance. Luckily for people like her, she can get a second chance.
—Rachel Cox, North HS

It’s very sad how kids these days don’t have good relationships with their parents. I am not trying to place the blame on the parents solely, because I know how kids can act. I just wish that people would think twice before they have kids. If they are not willing to love their child with all their heart, then they should do something to prevent getting pregnant. Having kids should not be a burden, but a blessing.
—Jennifer Lombardo, Verdugo Hills HS

I liked the story by M. Gar Caswell. It was kind of sad, but I could see where she’s coming from. If my parents and I never got along and they hit me, I would want to get away from them, too. I have no idea what it’s like on the streets, and I don’t want to know. I think it would be scary.
—Kyle Konkiel, Verdugo Hills HS

Straight ally to help gay people

This was a really good story. I think it’s awesome that Elizabeth is opening up her mind. It’s too bad that not all her friends could do the same. What I like is that she took the initiative and went to the conference. I, too, have defended gays for a long time. I am glad to not be one of the close-minded breeds. I want other people to be like Elizabeth and myself. There is too much hate and discrimination in the world.
—Brittany Manning, North HS

I am glad to read that there are many gay youth organizations in Los Angeles’ high schools. What saddens me to see, is that the school I attend has no form of gay organizations. There are many gay teens in my high school who are lost and may need help. But they have nowhere to turn and no one to confide in. It’s a disgrace that my school has every club in the book, but not a gay organization. I guess people are too afraid to come forward and admit what’s out there.
—Leo Villareal, Verdugo Hills HS

I think that people who are gay should not get treated badly, because they are humans just like everyone else. Sometimes when I walk down the street, I see gay couples holding hands or kissing. Most people who are gay have nice hearts and don’t deserve to be treated badly.
—Tanysha Usher, Crenshaw Learn Charter

A boy in Juvenile Hall

I found this article to be very interesting. It reminded me of myself when I almost got involved with the wrong crowd. It all started when I was in the ninth grade. I was meeting new friends, but the wrong kind of friends. They influenced me to do things that I never considered, like fighting and ditching. One day they stole a car and called me to go out with them for a ride. I didn’t go for a joy ride, but instead sat down and talked with my mother. About an hour later, I found out that my friends were arrested. Would it have been worth it to get locked up? No! I’m glad my mother directed me toward the right direction.
—Melanie Jenkins, Crenshaw Learn Charter HS