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What I wish I never saw

Upon reading the article "What I wish I never saw" I found that I related. Although I have never seen anyone kill himself, I have found a dead body. When I was walking through an alley as a young girl I stumbled upon a decapitated head. Soon after, I found the rest of the body. I was probably a little more jolted than the author of the article since I was a casual acquaintance with the person. It’s nice to know that other teens understand such a traumatic experience although I hope all teens don’t have to.
—Kerri Morales, Hollywood HS

Please, Dad, don’t gamble

The article "Please, Dad, don’t gamble" really opened my eyes to the problems that gambling can bring into the home. Before reading this article I always thought of domestic problems as ones having to do with physical or substance abuse. Now I understand that gambling problems can be just as or maybe even more damaging to a home than other more common problems. I’d like to thank the author for sharing her story and your magazine for publishing it.
—Silvia Linos, Hollywood HS

Violence essays

I’m not sure what audience you target, but the essay contest winners were really harsh. Though I sincerely appreciate the fact that these essays are outlets for teens, the topic was inappropriate for some people. I must say that I can personally relate to these essays. They seem a little too harsh and too close to home.
—Name and school withheld

I think that the person who wrote one of the essays "How you are affected by violence?" has a lot of guts to write about her life. I would never be able to write something like that. That is something that is very personal. It took a lot of courage and I’m amazed by what the writer shared with me and the rest of the readers.

What the writer shared was something that touched me inside because it made me feel like I wasn’t the only person with problems. Also, the writer made my problems seem like nothing compared to her experience.
—Adrian Ruiz Vance, Hollywood HS

9/11, one year later

The article "Where are we now that a whole year has passed?" really jumped out at me because as I read through it I just kept getting flashbacks on how I have seen and experienced similar situations. This article really made me remember how much 9/11 affected me.

On the one-year anniversary of 9/11 I was expecting more out of everybody. I expected more from the President. I expected him to do something even more special than just reading the whole list of people who have died and just making a little speech on how America must go on. I expected more of the nation than just turning on the TV to hear about it or simply ignoring it. I expected more from my school than just repeating the Pledge of Allegiance and holding a moment of silence and I also expected more from me than just wearing red, white and blue to school and crying.

I guess what I wanted was for us as a whole to bring back that day in which God put us Americans to the test and to remember those feelings of unity, patriotism and pride at being part of the United States of America.

The day after the attack I remember how everyone had American flags all over the place and pictures of eagles and firefighters stamped on their clothes. A year later, there are no flags or pictures of eagles and firefighters. There are no more people wearing red, white and blue. People don’t stop by firestations anymore just to thank firefighters. Have people forgotten the true heroes of America? Have they lost their patriotism?

Sept. 11 has totally changed my life. I can no longer wake up in the morning and listen to my CDs. I have to turn on my TV and watch the news to see if our nation is doing well and to see that no harm has been done.

As I read this article it reopened scars that I thought had healed, but really they were just scabs.
—Nancy Castillo, Cleveland HS

Summer of kidnappings

About the kidnapping story in the September-October edition, I am completely outraged by the comments made by the two guy friends of the author who claimed that no one kidnaps teenage boys and that guys don’t rape guys. How stupid and arrogant can two people be?! Have they ever seen a "prison movie?" Guys get raped all the time! It can happen to anyone.
—Johanna Greene, Cleveland HS

I enjoyed "The summer of kidnappings has teens scared." It relates to me in many ways. I was just as scared as Chelsea Sanders, one of the girls in the article. I locked all the doors and windows. I always checked the closet and under the bed. I was really paranoid for a couple of months that I could get kidnapped, too. I’m still paranoid but felt better after I read the article.

I think Eneyew and Ralph are right. Guys don’t have a chance of being kidnapped. I know that I am stereotyping, but it’s true. The people who kidnap girls can pinpoint them anywhere, not guys.
—Chungah Rhee, Cleveland HS

Confusing schedule

My school has a weekly routine that can really confuse a new sixth-grader such as myself. Our classes change every day depending on whether it’s "A Week" or "B Week."

I think this schedule should be only for grades 9-12 so they can prepare for college. It shouldn’t be for sixth-graders because they are always saying that they forgot their homework because they thought it was a different schedule. Ninth to 12th graders should be more responsible and bring their homework every day.
—Blair Fields, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies

Teachers and respect

I once saw one of my best teachers chewing some food with his mouth open. I respect my teacher very much, but I thought he was a camel. The noise that he was making was annoying. In a way, I feel pity for him because his parents didn’t teach him any manners. I’m asking the editor of LA Youth to write an article about how manners are important so young people know how stupid they look when they eat with their mouths open. I literally wanted to slap my teacher across the lips so he wouldn’t make that terrible sound!
—Marco T. Lopez, Hollywood HS

My dream

I would like to congratulate Oscar Rodriguez, the writer of "My dream," for his success. I can relate to him on so many levels starting with his performance in school not reflecting his true abilities. This may not occur to me the same way it did to Oscar, but there are times when my grades do not mirror what I’m actually able to do. I know there are many teens who can also relate to this, and like myself, can perform exceptionally on a given test as long as the right buttons are pressed. My call goes out to teachers who are the only ones who can detect these kinds of students and the only ones who can help them show their true abilities.
—David Mojica, Hollywood HS

The reason why I like this cartoon is because it relates to me in a certain aspect. This aspect is the fear of rejection and failure in life and in my dreams. I also believe that this fear does not apply only to Oscar or me but also to many of my schoolmates. This year, my senior year, I have seen and experienced how hard it is to be competitive. I have seen how my friends worry about their SAT and SAT2 scores, about their grades, college level classes and getting into colleges.

Another thing Oscar and I share is our background. We are both Hispanic. Well, he is Mexican and I am Salvadoran, but we both want to accomplish a dream and we both want to be recognized by the people around us.

An article like this is very good for other students of different backgrounds to read because it will give them the opportunity to see that everyone has the chance to become whatever they want to be. This cartoon can also be a buster for those who believe that they are failures only because they did very badly in high school and therefore they cannot accomplish their dreams.

I have a friend who used to be a very bad student in middle school and continued behaving badly in high school. He was expelled from high school for hitting a teacher. However, he started to attend a new school and has gone from getting Fs on his report card to becoming an A-student.
Well, I just hope that Oscar Rodriguez continues his good work and I wish him the best in his life. I also wish good luck to all the high school kids who are studying very hard to succeed in life.
—Carla Ramos, Hollywood HS

Friends come in all flavors

I just came from Korea two months ago and I have friends of different races. Also, when I first came here, I actively sought friends of different races rather than my own because I wanted to know more about other people’s cultures.

What I liked about Katrina Spencer’s article was that she finally realized that looking for differences wasn’t that big of a deal and she learned to enjoy having friends from many different backgrounds. I agree with her that friendship shouldn’t be about color but about comfort. I’m also glad she learned the difference.
—Heejae Kang, Cleveland HS

Leaving high school early

The reason I am writing about the article "High school sucked …. so I left early" is because I believe that article has something very important to say to high school students. If you have your future planned out in a realistic way and you are setting your goals you can accomplish anything. It doesn’t matter what other people tell you. You should follow what you believe is right and will make you happy.

In the article the young girl decided to take the California High School Proficiency Exam so that she could leave high school early and pursue her dream of acting. Her family and friends disapproved and didn’t even give her a chance. Her father was very unsupportive and discouraged her. The young girl went through with her plans anyway and took the test. I believe that girl was very brave.

When she passed the test, she proved to everyone that she could do it. She showed everyone that she has realistic goals and she is on her way to accomplishing them. After her father found out he still made negative comments. But she ignored her father, which proves she is smart and confident despite her father’s negativity.

I believe more parents should be more supportive of their children’s goals and plans. Teens should believe in themselves and be more confident no matter what other people say. They shouldn’t let other people put them down, just like the young girl in the article. She made her ideas and plan possible and sought them out.
—Carmen Hernandez, Cleveland HS

What it’s like to be locked up

This article impressed me very much. I thought it would be hard for him to talk about his experiences. I know for a fact that when you come out of juvie you come out with more anger and you know more gang-related things. My older brother, who is 20, just got out of prison. He has been getting locked up since he was 14 or 15. Every time he came out we all thought he had learned his lesson. But he always went back in after a few weeks or months. He also knew more about gangs when he came out.
—Brenda Ayala, Hollywood HS

Academic decathlon

The article "Academic Decathlon: One big, happy, neurotic family" was of great interest to me, because I have always been encouraged to join the decathlon team in the future. It was nice to hear of a personal, first-hand experience of the competition. I was so surprised, though, to hear about the long hours they to spend cramming. (It also interested me that the author used the term "cramming" instead of "learning" or "studying").

The story gives me the encouragement to want to join the group, but there are also parts that discourage me from that desire. The article was very detailed, thorough and well written. I appreciated it because I rarely find important information like this in other newspapers or magazines.
—Katrina Landeta, Cleveland HS

It’s my music

I read the article on what kinds of music different races listen to. My problem with it was that it only mentioned blacks and whites. What about Asians? I’m Korean. No one says that all Asians listen to this music or that music; they only talk about blacks and whites. I think that most people of different races don’t listen to a certain type of music because of race, but that we all listen to music that we individually connect with.
—Daniel Lee, Cleveland HS