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Girl whose mom was a drug addict

Before I read this article, I thought that all parents cared for their kids (which includes feeding them, making them go to school and all the other things a parent would do). But after reading it, I realized how lucky I was to have a good mother. Every day when I get up, I despise going to school. But now that I think about it, I am lucky to go to school. Also every Sunday, I have to do boring things with my mom like going to really boring museums. But now, I am grateful of even being with my mom. Thanks for teaching me some very valuable lessons. I will remember this story for the rest of my life.
—Edan Ortner, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (S.O.C.E.S.)

I would like to start off by saying you all do such an amazing job. I thought D.B’s article "I made it" was so astounding. It’s so sad to see kids have to go through that, but it’s miraculous to see them go through it and actually make it. The writer is so brave and is an inspiration to me, because although she went through so much she got through it. Most of us would just take the easy way out and ruin our lives more than our parents already have. Most of us complain for any little thing but we don’t realize that there are so many other people out there that have it so much worse. It’s sad that she didn’t get to be with all her brothers and sisters, but I hope she gets to see and talk to them now. Well, I hope D.B’s story touched many people the way it did me. I wish her and her family the very best. Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone D.B, it takes a lot.
—Mariela Mendoza, S.O.C.E.S

Islam: A peaceful faith

As I read "A peaceful faith," I felt disgust, as if I inhaled a stench of prejudice. To have your religion and race attacked by teachers and peers … It’s just terrible! I was amazed at Beeta’s strength to endure racial comments and the way that she defended her religion and race.
     I do admit that that I felt suspicious of Muslims altogether ever since 9/11. But now, I feel ashamed of myself, and look upon them with respect. I also feel Beeta is a role model for her bravery.
—Silvia Chung, S.O.C.E.S

After reading "A Peaceful Faith," I was particularly struck by Beeta Baghoolizadeh’s treatment by two of her teachers. When her seventh grade history teacher said to her, "This is why Islam is a prejudiced religion. They don’t let us come into their country because of the lack of room," I was shocked! I couldn’t believe someone, let alone a teacher, would call one of his students prejudiced.
     I believe that teachers should do more thinking before they speak, especially since they have such an important role in someone’s life. Some teachers may try to push their opinions on their students; in this article the teachers have shared their own prejudice toward Islam with their students. Teachers are should be teaching tolerance and peace. From my own experience I have noticed that many teachers will openly ridicule students with no purpose. Even if a teacher used ridicule to accomplish some goal, it would still be wrong. With teachers like the ones in this article it’s no wonder there are so many prejudice people in the world today and that so many students do not even complete high school.
—Molly Isken, S.O.C.E.S.

So what if I’m emo?

If someone listens to different music or dresses differently doesn’t mean that they are crazy, depressed, or suicidal. People today are very single-minded. If one thing is in, then everyone has to have it or know it. But, there is always that one person who doesn’t care what’s "in" or what’s "out." Seeing as I have never listened to Emo music—I am more of a jumpy person—I can’t say anything bad about it. It’s like saying I hate that food when you have never tried it.
—Lauren Davis, S.O.C.E.S

I personally think that treating people the wrong way because of their music is wrong. It’s just like being stereotypical to them. I have a lot of friends, but they all listen to different styles of music. I don’t hate them or make fun of them because they don’t listen to the same type of music as I do. I learn to enjoy their music and enjoy them for who they are. People need to learn to treat each other equally and not be so concerned about other people’s music.
—Raissa Ortega, S.O.C.E.S.

Animal rights

Reading this article about being a vegetarian was very inspiring. As a vegetarian myself, I understood Connie Chung’s point of view. The way she says what she means allows everybody to relate to her views. If people ever called me a "tree-hugging tofu freak" I would just laugh, and remember Connie, because everyone can relate to her, whether vegetarian, vegan, or meat-eater.
—Jennifer Perlin, S.O.C.E.S

Your article "No Meat for Me" was fascinating. I am not a vegetarian because I (a) love meat, (b) am a dancer, so I need a decent amount of protein to protect me from injuries, and (c) believe that humans were born omnivorous and that eating animals is normal. Though I am a meat eater, I find the way animals are slaughtered atrocious. That chickens beaks are burned to stop them from pecking each other and that they are forced to starve to shock their systems so that they will continue laying eggs is disgusting. People don’t have to mercilessly torture an animal so that they can eat it. Animals are to be respected just like humans because, unlike plants, they have a brain and can feel pain and sorrow.
     I have to say thank you to all those people out there fighting against fur clothing. To eat an animal for food and survival is one thing, but nobody really needs to kill a couple of adorable chinchillas so that they can have a fashionable winter coat. American Indians showed respect to the animals they hunted by using every single bit of the animal’s body. People today take animals for granted by only using bits of their body and looking down at them like they’re something yucky on the floor. People like J. Lo just give off that vibe that says, "I murdered a few foxes so I could wear this coat, but hey, I look hot right?" Things like that make me gag.
—Arielle Laub, S.O.C.E.S.

A teen overcame her disability

I really felt the pain that Sara Vogler was going through with her disability. Having a disability doesn’t mean that you can’t do things as well as others, it just means that you have to try harder. In some ways a disability can even make you stronger. People who see right through those disabilities truly care. The ones who don’t, aren’t your true friends.
     Sara went through many traumatizing surgeries and yet she still was able to carry on with her life."I Can Do Anything" shows how strong her relationship with her parents was and that they were always there for her. Having a disability doesn’t make you any different and anyone who can overcome it is extremely strong.
—Molly Davis, S.O.C.E.S.

Hurricane Katrina

I think it’s amazing how our world cares about problems like Hurricane Katrina. These students raising money shows me that whatever you put your mind to you can accomplish. My school is putting on special events like plays and variety shows to also raise money. When I read this article and saw all the schools that have donated, I was stunned. If only everyone in the world could do this. For the Katrina fund, I took some of my Bar Mitzvah money to buy needed supplies. I bought tooth brushes, pillows, blankets, etc, and donated them to the victims of the hurricane. This made me feel good about myself and the contribution I made. No one could have chosen to do anything better than what these kids have done.
—Eric Glassner, S.O.C.E.S.

Cleaning up the beach

I was glad to find out that there are a lot of people in the world that are willing to help our environment. Trash on our beach’s shores is a health risk not only to humans, but to animals as well. Not only am I saddened by the fact that animals are dying because of this, but I’m also disgusted to know that some of the things polluting the sand are dentures and a toothbrush.
     But I also am happy knowing teens would give up their Saturday morning to help clean up. The oceans we have are vast and plentiful, but how much more abuse can they take? .
—Briana Juarez, S.O.C.E.S.

Studying abroad while at community college

The article "Wait-an SMC class in South America?" really made me take another look at attending a two-year college before attending a four-year university. Studies have shown that students who attend a two-year college before attending a four-year university are more likely not to drop out than students who go right when they get out of high school. What these statistics and how Jennifer Gottesfeld speaks so highly of her adventures in Peru and Australia that were provided by a Santa Monica College shows that maybe a community college isn’t so bad. If you don’t know what you want to do after 12th grade and you haven’t applied to a college, they’re a great place to figure everything out. A community college isn’t your last stop, you can always transfer to a better school when you are done.
—Aimee Erlich, S.O.C.E.S.

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