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Wishing the best for a teen who used to live on skid row

I would like to commend the teen who wrote about spending years on Skid Row for her excellent article. I was very touched by her story of intense poverty. I could barely imagine experiencing something like that. Feeling like a spoiled brat, I know I would have a very difficult time managing if I found myself without the basic items she didn’t have—a computer, a cell phone, privacy and safety from a dangerous environment. These are the little things that most of us take for granted every day.

I’m so glad that she has made it through four hard years [on skid row] and more importantly realized that there is a brighter side to things. She has a stronger character, perseverance, decisiveness and a renewed sense of hope. As time goes by I can definitely see her succeeding and having a better future.
Crystal So, West Valley Christian Jr./Sr. HS (West Hills)

It was scary for me to think about a place like skid row. It doesn’t seem like somewhere people, especially kids, should have to live. I thought hard about how [the writer] had no drive or ambition to work hard in school and saw how such an environment can cause that. The descriptions of her life made me feel sorry for her. Also, hearing how money was tight and the uncertainty of her living conditions shocked me. She really didn’t get a chance to be a teenager, since she didn’t have a lot to do in her neighborhood and stayed inside her room a lot.

After feeling sympathy toward her I decided to be more proud and happy for her. I mean she now is trying to change things for herself. She wants a better future. I would hate to live somewhere like that and have to go through what she did. She really had to be strong to overcome everything. Her life is hard but is getting better and I wish her the best.
Briana Juarez, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (S.O.C.E.S)

Should Tookie Williams have been executed?

I disagree with Eamon Cannon. If people like Tookie Williams are allowed to live, then more kids would want to be like them. Tookie Williams killed four innocent people. Kids these days think being in a gang is cool, but all it leads to is jail or death. My friend’s brother was in a gang and he’s in prison for the rest of his life.

People should feel better that people like Tookie Williams are dead. When I see people with tattoos on them I get scared, because I know they’re in a gang. Kids choose role models who they want to be like when they grow up. Kids who want to be in a gang pick a role model like Tookie Williams, a big man with big muscles who has killed people. It’s good that Tookie Williams is dead.
Taron Israelian, Wilson Middle School (Glendale)

Killing a man for killing others is hypocrisy. The article by Eamon Cannon explains how Eamon himself changed after being arrested and explained how he thought that Stanley Tookie Williams did the same.

I have mixed feelings about Tookie’s crimes, but I doubt that it was justifiable to kill him. In the end I believe our justice system is wrong. I believe many people think this also, but we cannot change what has helped us either.
José Avalos, S.O.C.E.S.

A girl’s enemy created a fake MySpace of her

I have a MySpace and I agree it is very addicting, but I never knew how harmful it could be. I knew that sometimes there are weird people on it who send you messages or something, but you just don’t read them. I didn’t realize that someone can find out so much about you from a little MySpace. On my MySpace I don’t post anything personal on it, besides a picture of myself.

I also think that it wasn’t fair for that teacher to read the students’ MySpaces and talk to them about what they should and shouldn’t have on it.
Nicole Levitt, S.O.C.E.S.

I was greatly impacted by the article, “MySpace: a place for friends AND enemies,” because I have a MySpace. I didn’t realize all of that could happen on what I thought was a harmless site. I thought about how unbelievably scary it would be to be in Lissette Rodriguez’s shoes. One day you’re best friends with someone and the next, they’re ready to fight you. It was crazy that she had to apologize to people for something she didn’t even do.

As for Myspace, I’m gonna watch my back from now on. I don’t know what I would do if that ever happened to me. When my dad first found out about my MySpace he told me to stay away from it, but I couldn’t understand why. Now I do. I hope that never happens again and I commend Lissette for dealing with it all.
Molly Davis, S.O.C.E.S

Racism still exists

It will take more work from everyone to stop racism. I would love to see it gone in my lifetime, but I don’t think I will. I see it all the time. I’m half-white and half-Mexican. Since I look more white, I don’t get that much racism except when I say certain words—some of my white friends will joke around with me for the way I say a word. When I’m with Mexicans they don’t think I understand Spanish, so they talk about me. I hate it so much when they do that. I get treated differently by both races—white and Hispanic. But I love both.
Gwendolyn Thomas, East L.A. Skills Center

As I read what Victoria had to say about racism, the more apparent the problem became. We are all taught from an early age that racism is wrong and that people shouldn’t discriminate against others because of race, color, creed or religion. However, individual races discriminate within their race, perpetuating stereotypes. I was struck by the example of the Latina girl who was striving for good grades and not supported by her family. Yet when her young cousin beat up another child, her family cheered and congratulated her. With role models like this is it any wonder that jails are filled disproportionately with Hispanics and other minorities?

The world is made up of so many people, all so different but yet so alike. Because of the mentality our society has, people are still showing hatred, not towards other ethnicities but towards themselves. Once everyone stops feeling sorry for themselves because they’re black, white, Armenian, Asian, etc., we can start living in a color-blind society. People exercise racism because they are not confident in themselves. Teachers can teach kids how to read and write but only parents can teach their kids how to thrive in a xenophobic society.
Sammie Richards, S.O.C.E.S.

Teens want to drive now

After reading Kendall’s article “The new road rules are driving me crazy,” I started thinking about the new laws, which restrict teens’ driving rights, and whether they are appropriate. My answer is yes. I don’t believe teens are mature enough to drive. I don’t know whether they are trying to impress anybody or just trying to get a good laugh, but their driving is very dangerous, especially to children who are crossing streets near school.
Even though some teens are ready, how are people going to find out? The immature teens are going to be cool and collected in front of their driving instructors, then drive crazy after they get their licenses. Teens cause a massive number of accidents in proportion to the number of drivers. Car accidents are the number one cause of death for people aged 15-20. Although teens are enraged by these new laws, the state is just trying to protect people.
Evan Moorman, S.O.C.E.S.

In the article “The new road rules are driving me crazy,” by Kendall Bass, she makes it clear that the unfair rules are targeting teenagers. When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to be 16, I would drive a really nice car, give my friends rides in my car, go on road trips, and it would be a new lease on life. After reading this article, my dream was gone. We have no freedom anymore, and since when does limiting the few rights that we already have help us become more responsible? The ways she phrased certain questions like that made you see her point of view, no matter what. I really enjoyed reading this article.
Jennifer Perlin, S.O.C.E.S.

Students appreciate a safe school

Before, I used to think that if there was more security [at school] that more fights would occur because everyone would get sick and tired of the security. But now I think otherwise. True, if there were more security guards there might be fights still going on, but I would feel safer than I feel now. There isn’t a lot of security at my school. There are crazy thoughts in teens’ minds and what if those “bad” thoughts become actions? Thanks for the article. I didn’t think that more security would be a good idea, but now I do.
Vanessa U., Patrick Henry MS (Granada Hills)

The article “How to make schools safer” caught my attention right away. I found it very interesting to hear what students had to say about their schools. When I heard the first story by Jesse Fernandez at Fremont High School, I realized how lucky our school is. There are a few people who slack off and don’t care about their grades, but the majority of the students at S.O.C.E.S. care about their grades. When the student talked about his principal talking on the P.A. system about school spirit, it reminded me that every morning, my principal takes the time to talk about character and how it’s so important to our school.
Bridget Mastopietro, S.O.C.E.S. 

A teen went a year without candy

I have to give Selina some props here. Whoo! Whoo! Way to go girl! I, too, am a candy lover and I know how hard it is to keep from eating it, especially when there are always sweets in your house. I tried to give up eating candy when I was in middle school, but like her, my house is always full of candy. My friend would always be loaded with candy, too. Since she is a very evil person, she would savor it slowly in front of me. Even my mom would make fun of me, showing me a candy and quickly putting it in her mouth. Finally, the temptation was too strong for me and unlike Selina I gave in.
Carol Marchante, Los Angeles HS

When I read the article “A Year Without Candy” my jaw dropped. I could not believe that a 16-year-old girl like Selina had such discipline. To take on the challenge of not eating one of the most tempting (dare I say) food groups for a year must have been hard. But, she stuck with her resolution and did not let the taunting, teasing and craves get to her. I admire her willpower and determination.
Aimee Erlich, S.O.C.E.S

Being tall isn’t all fun and games

As I read “Tall tale” I discovered that being tall isn’t all it’s cut out to be. As long as I can remember, I’ve always felt like it would be better to be taller. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t wanted to be taller than my friends. I can even recall calling my friends over to do the back-to-back routine to see who was taller.

I really enjoyed reading this article on how Charlotte hated being tall and then changed to feeling that it wasn’t all bad. This article has helped me in a similar way, I used to think that being tall would be all fun and games, but now I know there are some bad points to it too.
Julius Weng, S.O.C.E.S.

In “Tall tale” I can completely relate to Charlotte. I’ve always either been the tallest or second tallest person in my class, and all my friends are three to five inches shorter than me. I’ll be talking to my friends and out of the blue someone will say “How tall are you,” and when I say “I’m five-foot-six-and-a-half inches,” their jaws drop. I’ve never been asked hurtful questions, but sometimes I feel like I’m 50 feet taller than everyone.

I learned to deal with it, and I know things will get better for Charlotte. Yeah, shopping will always be hard, but you don’t need to hide your height. Show them that you’re tall, and it makes you, you. I slouch sometimes but I always feel like I’m robbing myself of who I truly am. Next time someone says something just say,” Yeah, I’m tall and proud.”
Jennie Coleman, S.O.C.E.S.

Amoeba: a music lover’s paradise

I read this article by Nadine Levyfield about her and a music store. I enjoyed reading this article a lot. It inspired me to look more into music and find what I like, not just to listen to what is playing on radio stations. As she said “The best music isn’t on the radio.” I have looked into some of the music that she liked to listen to and I liked most of it.

My favorite out of all the bands she listed was Modest Mouse. I would have to say that this article was fun to read and quite helpful to me with me and my music.
Julian Richardson, S.O.C.E.S.