by Georgia

Did you ever get an assignment from a teacher but you didn’t know what the point was?, This year I felt like I was just writing essay on top of essay and not getting anything out of it.

It all started when I walked into Mr. Hicks’ room (The 7th grade English teacher). I walked in on the first day of school and there were vintage album covers lining the walls above the whiteboards, with bongo music playing in the background. Then I noticed that every corner of the room had a bookshelf, on every book shelf was a big jar of hand sanitizer, a box of tissues, and these old lamps that looked like the ones at my grandparents’ house. In the side room was his “supply of student-donated extra credit”: MORE paper towels, hand sanitizer, and tissues. I could immediately tell that it would be an interesting year.

After the luxury first week of no homework, the work began. He handed everyone a sheet of paper. Before he gave me one I could tell everyone was looking at it like “what is this?” I looked at the paper and saw lyrics to a song, “Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson. Then Mr. Hicks asked “Does anyone know who Smokey Robinson is?” There was dead silence, nobody raised a hand. Mr. Hicks looked disappointed. Then he played the song and we read along with the lyrics he gave us.

Then he said, “Write about it.” I thought to myself “What is the point of this?” Then I started to highlight and analyze the song. Once I thought about what it meant, I started to write right away. There was so much that I wanted to say about the song. Once I knew what Smokey Robinson’s lyrics meant and what he was trying to say, my question was answered.

The thing about Mr. Hicks that makes him one of the best teachers is that he made us look at things in a different way. He made us feel differently about things—he didn’t want us to see things as everyone else did, he wanted everyone to have their own opinion and to be different from everyone else. In the Girl Scout Amaze book it talks about first impressions. You could listen to a song 100 times and might not know what it means until you really think about it.

I realized that there isn’t just an educational lesson taught in classes there are lifelong lessons.The point of the essay was for us to know that if we dig deeper and really think about something we might find out what it means instead of, for instance, just listening to a song.

After “Tears of a Clown,” Mr. Hicks gave us many more songs. He even gave us topics like “Are violent video games the cause of criminal behavior?” and we would have to prepare, take notes, and dress in business-like attire to make us feel like we were actually in court.

These assignments were important to me because they taught me to look differently at things, and most importantly, to be patient. The reason why being patient has become important to me is because when I got those lyrics I immediately thought “what is this?” But if I had been patient I would have realized that I am not only writing an essay for English, but I am learning that if I dig a little deeper I will find something so much greater than I expected.


by Naya

Keeping in touch with old friends can be hard, especially if they live in a different place than you. One big way people stay in touch with friends and family members is through social media. Half of social media users say that a major reason they use social media is to connect with old friends that they have lost touch with, according to the Pew Research Center. I know I definitely do this, because I moved to another state from across the country, and lost touch with some of my friends there. I connected with them again, though, using Google Hangouts and Instagram. There are many ways you can connect with old friends, with social media being a major one.

Another way you can connect with old friends is to call them on the phone, or on FaceTime. This is more direct than texting, checking Facebook, or things similar to that. I have had an experience in which I moved across the country and lost touch with a group of my school friends. On the Google Hangouts we had, they only posted stuff about homework at their school, and there were also a few new kids at my old school who had joined the hangout. I felt kind of like an outsider and tried to leave the hangout. One of my friends added me back, though, and I realized this was a pretty nice thing to do. So I try to talk to old school friends every day, and reconnect with them, so I don’t lose this relationship.

Why is keeping in touch with old friends even important? This is important because, according to Brigham Young University, if you want to live longer you should spend less time alone. To do this, you need to have good relationships with people and keep in touch with old friends. Why else is keeping in touch with old friends important? You will get more support and the source of your strength will be from good relationships with old and new friends, as well as family. Lately I have been using social media more often, and this is because I want to keep in touch with all of my friends (not to stalk celebrities on Instagram).


by Frankie

One day, my friends Katie, Aubrey, Korryn and I decided to try a maze room, a place where a bunch of staff lock you into a room and you work with your friends to escape with the resources in the room. There are many different maze rooms, from Demon Hunters to Prison Cell, and they usually consist of one main room and a bunch of other rooms that branch off and lead you to your escape.  There are only (at most) seven people allowed, so we had to exclude one of our friends, Jadyn.

The maze room requires wits, bravery, and  the ability to use your brain. Not to forget teamwork, which you cannot succeed without. This is what scared us. Our group, a bunch of zany, reckless middle-school students who are very unobservant and (sometimes) act like first-graders, aren’t necessarily fit for the job. Nevertheless, we decided to do it, because it sounded fun. At least we were good at teamwork.

Once we reached the limit with the number of people we could bring, we drove to Los Angeles to get to the maze room. Finding the actual building was a maze within itself. Once we found the building (which was up a sketchy looking set of stairs), we waited until a woman told us everything about the room. She said to ask for a hint if we needed one and explained that we only had sixty minutes. Then we went inside the room, where we saw a door to the left, a door to the right, a table with a chair against the wall, an end table, another table with a bunch of books on it, and a lamp in the corner. The table with the books also had several drawers below. It was very weird. When we looked to the left, paint on the wall read “The rat eats the furniture.” At that moment, Katie tripped on her foot, and landed beside the table with the chair, and picked something up. What a coincidence! It was the rat.

We didn’t know what to do after that. We were just wandering around, literally tearing the room apart. We must have gotten the rat for something. Aubrey’s mom took the rat and stuck it against everything, to see if anything else would happen. Korryn and I turned over the end table, only to find nothing. But there were weird markings on it as well. Aubrey’s mom put the rat against the markings and the end table, which was previously locked, opened up. Inside was a creepy photo of some dude, but there was a date on the back of  the photo. We typed in the date in a lock, and a box beside the door on the right opened. Inside was a metal rod. Okay . . . interesting. At that same moment, the door on the left opened, because Katie was fiddling around with the rat against the left door. We were told through a walkie-talkie that the door wasn’t supposed to open yet, so we closed it.

We didn’t know what to do for a while, so we asked for a clue through the walkie-talkie. The woman said to remove all the books. So we all did, and a small hole appeared, the perfect size to place the metal rod in. A drawer swung open below the table, and inside it had the code to escape the first room. We did. The rest of the maze room was full of random problem-solving, and we all worked together pretty equally. Once we escaped, which involved putting candles on all five tips of a pentagram, we had lunch at a Mexican restaurant nearby. But, that wasn’t all.  Because the joy of escaping and figuring out how to do so, and locking your brain into high gear was so thrilling, we HAD to do it again. We did the Demon Hunters one first. We had five minutes left to spare. That was medium difficulty. We decided to do the Soviet Spy one, where we were FBI agents that were trying to find the undercover Soviet spy. It was rated HARD DIFFICULTY LEVEL. We knew we could do it.

Just like the first location, this maze room was very hard to find. We had to go up a small elevator, then we walked along the second floor of the building until we found the maze room. A man welcomed us, and we were given fake mustaches and vests that had fake FBI names on it. It was amazing. We could already tell that this maze room was going to be the best. We went through a series of crazy steps, and one even involved a closet opening from the back. It was epic. We ended up finishing the room with fifteen minutes to spare. But all the crazy adventure made me think of Jadyn, whom we had excluded. I had to set things right, especially because all of my friends said she was going to be invited. It was a serious problem. After having the time of my life in a bunch of maze rooms, it was time to go back to school and face this.

I went up to Jadyn, and told her that we had gone and weren’t able to invite her because  there was no more room. I told her that it was wrong of me for going without telling her anything beforehand, and then we worked out a date where we could go and do something that was just the two of us. It took some planning, but after Spring Break, we did the Bean Boozled Challenge [a game of chance involving Jelly Beans], ate some delicious food, and hung out, spending lots of time having fun. Not only did I have a great time at the hangout with Jadyn, but I felt a lot better about our friendship.

If you are ever in the situation where you feel peer pressure to exclude someone, think twice and always include them.