How drunk driving affects everyone

By: Fatima Mohamud & Sumaya Noor

Not only can drinking and driving put a person at risk, it can also put other people at risk and potentially end many lives. On average, drinking and driving kills about 10,000 Americans per year. According to Nhtsa.gov, about 28 Americans die per day, which is about one person per hour. This is preventable, but over the years it’s been getting worse.

Consuming alcohol can affect the human brain in many ways, but here are some common effects: altered speech, losing judgement, losing track of time, losing sense of balance, altered mood, feeling hyper, and losing sense of direction. Losing a sense of direction is a big part of why many lives are lost to drunk driving, as an individual may not be able to tell where they are turning or how fast they are going.

Even though it’s very illegal, people still tend to somehow let it happen. They can face charges, spend time in jail and this also goes on their record for all future jobs and activities can see.

An individual may have an accident with a price that’s too much to pay, or even have to deal with insurance not being able to cover it.

Here are some ways to help stop drunk driving from happening:

  1. Stop drinking: Drinking is something millions of people do, and it’s normal if you’re over 21, although not healthy to have too much. If an individual keeps it at a moderate level it’s fine, but it can lead to heart or liver diseases and cancer.
  2. Drink at home: If someone is drinking at home, they can spend less time being on the road to get to places, rather than being at a bar and having to drive home.
  3. Ask a friend or family member to drive: this can ensure their safety as well as others.

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Benefits of journaling

By: Ella Sutherland

Journaling is an amazing way to spend some of your free time. There are so many great benefits of journaling and everything you can do.

Journaling is a great way to keep organized. Lists are a way to use your journal to stay organized. To-do lists can help you because you can use them to write down what you have going on in your week or even just what you have going on in that one day. You can mark what you do throughout the day and then cross it off once it’s done.

Another great way to use your journal is to write down your feelings. Writing down what you are feeling is a great way to take a weight off your shoulders and minimize your stress level. You can write daily entries or just write something every once in a while. If you just express what you are feeling and be honest with yourself it can be really refreshing and just a great way to wind down before bed or school.

Journaling is also a great place to write down your goals and ambitions. Whenever you are feeling like there is something in your life or about yourself that you could improve, you can write it down. Writing it down and seeing it in front of you will give you more motivation to actually go out and do it. It will also be more satisfying when you get to cross it off once you’ve actually accomplished it.

Self-reflecting is one of the most important things you can do. Everyone’s life is super hectic right now; for most people they are just coming back into school or work after having a year and a half off. Everything is moving very fast and sometimes we need to take a second to slow down and reflect on what’s been going on.

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Mental benefits of pets

By: Sarah VonBerge

It is still unknown how and why pets seem to help with mental health. Pets don’t only affect your mental health, but, depending on the kind, also affect your physical health. Pets have been shown to decrease stress, improve heart health, and also teach children emotional and social skills.

It is estimated that 68% of all US households have some sort of pet. Studies have shown that having a pet has decreased the stress causing hormone, called cortisol, lowers blood pressure, boosts mood, reduces loneliness, and increases feelings of support. Owning something like a fish or guinea pig would help mainly with your mental health whereas having a pet like a dog will also affect your physical health. NIH is looking into creating a wide scale survey to find how the bond with their animal helps the owner(s).

Animals serve as forms of comfort as well. Sometimes watching fish swim can bring up a feeling of calmness. Therapy animals are brought around a lot, especially therapy dogs. They are often brought into nursing homes and hospitals to help comfort people.

However, people need to make sure to figure out how to bring animals around others in hospitals and nursing homes safely. Even though animals can help reduce stress and boost moods, they also bring germs and we need to make sure that animals don’t spread deadly germs between animals and patients.

Dogs have also been used to aid in the classroom. Dogs have been shown to, again, reduce stress and depression but have also recently been shown to help focus those who are affected by ADHD. Researchers took 2 groups of children with ADHD to see how dogs affect them.

In the 12 week long experiment, one group read to puppets for 30 minutes once a week and one group read to dogs for 30 minutes once a week. At the end, it was shown that the group who read to the dogs improved at cooperation, volunteering, social skills and sharing more than the group who read to puppets.

Another study found that kids with autism became calmer when playing with guinea pigs. During the 10 minute supervised play time with the guinea pigs, their anxiety levels dropped and they became better at social interactions and were more engaged with their peers.

One reason animals can help humans is because they bring new responsibilities. Even if your mental health is causing you to neglect yourself, you can not neglect your animal, or they will get sick or even die. Being able to recognize animals’ signs of stress or fatigue will all reflect on being able to recognize other people’s emotions.

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  • newsinhealth.nih.gov

Pros and cons of participating in extracurriculars

By Fatima Mohamud and Sumaya Noor

Image taken from https://admissions.usf.edu/blog/do-extracurriculars-matter- in-the-college-admissions-process

What are extracurriculars?

Extracurriculars are activities outside of school that middle, high, and college students engage in for fun or academic reasons. There is a plentiful range of clubs and activities you can participate in such as: culture, music, math, science and robotics, sports, and media. These allow students to connect and entertain themselves while building new bonds, friendships, skills, and supporting the school community.

Why should you join an extracurricular?

Extracurricular activities and clubs are a great way to make new friends, explore your hobbies, and have new things to do. Many people have made lots of new relationships, acquaintances, and lifelong friends. Others learned new sports, favorite medias (books, TV, etc.), and new hobbies to share. It’s a great way to expand your social circle and begin a new chapter of your life.

How do extracurriculars benefit college and beyond?

When applying for college there’s a big list of what to go over and many things to include in order to look presentable. Certain extracurriculars can look nice on resumes and leave a good impression on employers. For other people it could be jobs or outside clubs. When writing your admission paper you’d want to include a sports team you might’ve been on, a photo of your club, or maybe even something you’ve made like a story. It’s important to indulge yourself in something you might want to spend time on and enjoy.

How can extracurriculars change your life?

After college, you’ve got to have some type of future, and many found theirs in school clubs. Activities like these may seem unimportant but these could give you the right ideas and the push you needed into getting a job and becoming your dream self. Clubs such as volunteering could make you seem dedicated, caring and reliable, others like art will have people view you as creative. It all matters on who you are and what you want to create or do with your life.

They’re also very significant to school life too, many people found skills, like finding motivation, they thought were not needed but found themselves reaching the spots that were missing.

Cons and disadvantages of extracurricular activities?

Though there are pros to extracurriculars, there are also cons. One of the disadvantages is that they may become stressful and add onto the current school workload. This can cause students to struggle balancing both their extracurriculars and regular classes.

Another disadvantage is that they can take away free or family time from students. Extracurriculars usually are an hour or two long, and adding that after school means students would only have so much time before having to go to bed.

Too many extracurriculars or physical activities can wear out students and cause them to be fatigued or lethargic during classes, meaning less focus and that could lead to worse performance

Another issue could be that students may feel unmotivated because they cannot perform well in their extracurriculars. The opposite could also become an issue to kids, where a student may stray away from their academics and focus too much on their extracurriculars. Either way is harmful to a student’s success and kids should always consider both the pros and cons of performing in after school activities.

How to decide if extracurriculars are for you?

Balancing the pros and cons of participating in extracurriculars is important. Students should always consider the effects of participation, both in the now and in the long term.

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7 tips for staying on top of school work

By: Mary Koch & Ella Sutherland

School can be stressful, and it’s even worse when you’re falling behind in your work.

Here are some tips to stay organized this year.

1. Get a planner:
A great way to stay organized is by getting a planner. You can write down your assignments, plan your day, and add notes.

They make your life so much calmer because you won’t forget to do things, and you can make sure you’ll have the time you need throughout the day.

2. Prioritize:
It’s important to have fun, but school’s important too. Try to plan your day so you have time to get your work done first before moving on to the things you want to do.

If you’re able to finish your work, or at least get a good start, you’ll be able to have fun and not worry about when you’ll get things done. Your day can be stress free if you can make the decision to do the boring parts first.

3. Plan Ahead:
Going along with prioritizing and getting a planner, you should always plan when you want to get things done. If you don’t wait until the last minute you won’t be rushed, so you can do your best work.

Instead of planning on finishing assignments right before the due date, you could make your own due date, so you can make sure everything is turned in on time.

Making sure to study for tests early is a good way to get better grades. Don’t try to learn everything the night before when all you’ll really do is stress yourself out. Instead you could find time to study days before, so you really understand the topic.

4. Stay Focused:
Not everybody can focus in the same environment. Some people need complete silence, and some people do best when they’re listening to music.

Find out what works best for you, and try to use those things to your advantage. If you know you can get a better grade on a test while you have music playing, you can ask a teacher, so you can do what’s best for you.

If you’re not able to focus when you have people talking around you, move somewhere you won’t be as easily distracted.

5. Make Your Work Fun:
Not all school work has to be boring. You can make it fun by doing things like doing homework or studying with your friends. You can talk and help each other while still doing your work.

Another way to make homework fun is by eating a piece of candy for every assignment you finish. You can also decorate your notes and use fun colors.

6. Ask Questions:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t understand something, your teacher will be happy to help out. You can ask in, before, or after class, or you could email your teacher privately and set up a time to meet.

Classes are so much easier when you actually understand the material, so speak up because teachers are there to help.

7. Organize:
If you’re able to keep your work and life organized, you’ll have a better chance of staying on top of your work. Whether you rely on a planner, or you just write things down anywhere, there are always ways to stay more organized.

Sticking to schedules or routines helps with knowing what you need to do and when. Having a designated spot to write down any homework or upcoming tests makes it easier to plan ahead and do things on time.

Those were just a few ways to keep your schoolwork stress free, and there are many other ways. Not everything works for everyone, but hopefully these will help keep this year organized.

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Thinking about going green? Try a small business!

By: Reagan Welch

Small businesses are becoming the next new big thing and here’s why: small business owners take time and energy on creating your products while reducing the carbon footprint of business. That means keeping the environment clean.

Small businesses are the key to saving the environment. Instead of mass producing each and every product, over charging for the amount spent to make that product, and making more than necessary, they are making them in smaller amounts and in cleaner and greener environments.

A many small businesses are alternative energy companies: green retail outlets, organic food growers, and locally sourced craft sellers. Many businesses that are green have fewer employees but have a low turnout. That is changing though, and you can help them grow too!

As people grow and understand more about the environment, and global warming, there is a higher demand for green products, and small businesses are stepping up, producing more and keeping clean. Sure, each product is much more expensive than anything you can get from a fast fashion store, but that’s the price you pay if you want to keep the environment healthier and the earth alive longer.

Supporting small businesses is not only beneficial for you and the environment, it is extremely beneficial to the owner or owners. Almost all owners are extremely grateful and excited that you decided to buy from them, and of your support of them and their business. Some even include extra little gifts and thank you notes as an extra thanks. You could make someone’s day or help someone pay their bills just by switching up where you buy your clothes or gifts or anything.

Swikirti Sheela Nath from Linkedin says going green is working towards decreasing environmental pollution, therefore, improving the soil, water, and air. This will help slow global warming (loss of biodiversity, deforestation desertification, resource depletion, etc) which will automatically help the earth and its animals from destruction for as long as possible. That is why instead of just thinking about going green you should go green.

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Summer Jobs

For high school students, like us, we are looking forward to having our summer vacation, a much-deserved break from your academic activities, and with great weather – sunshine. But, It also comes with summer jobs. Here are a few jobs you can apply to:

Benefits of learning a new instrument

By: Joxery Mezen Camacho

Reduces Stress 

Music itself is known to be a great stress reliever! And according to San Antonio Music Schools, music helps reduce our blood pressure and our heart rate; it also releases happy hormones which helps us feel more relaxed. 

Improves Memory 

When you learn all the different aspects that come with your specific instrument, you’re giving your brain a workout which helps improve your ability to remember things.  

Enhances Patience

Patience is a very important skill to have. It helps us stay relaxed and ultimately leads us to enjoy life a little more. While learning a new instrument, you must make use of that patience through continuous practice and pushing through despite making mistakes. When trying to play new pieces of music, you’ll be learning how to take things slow which you can then use in other areas of your life. 

Improves the Immune Response 

Making music strengthens the immune response, which allows us to fight diseases, as shown in a ‘Live Science/ article! 

Boosts Confidence 

Learning a new instrument shows you that you’re capable of learning new things. With practice, you’ll be able to see your improvement as a player which helps boost your confidence and that confidence boost can slip into other aspects of your life. You can also try to play in front of some friends/family or others in order to feel more confident speaking/performing in front of a group of people. 

Improves Coordination 

With any instrument you play, you will most likely use two or more parts of your body in order to be able to play it correctly. Your mind is also used as it tries to be aware of whether or not you’re playing the right notes. This all comes to play with coordination; practicing all the different movements with your instrument will improve your ability to coordinate. 

Enhances Focus 

In order to learn a new instrument, you must be able to focus. Concentrating on everything you need to work on and your practice sessions makes the brain work on its ability to concentrate which enhances your entire ability to focus. 

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“Tone Tags” and how to use them

By: Caroline Crosby

I will preface by saying that this article may be a bit opinion-heavy in some places. The goal is to be as clear and concise as possible with this information, but personal bias can be hard to exclude regarding social accommodations such as tone indicators

But what exactly are tone indicators, and why are they used?

The short answer is as the name suggests. They are indications or “tags” that are used to convey tone. Specifically, they clarify the meaning of messages or written posts that could be interpreted in more ways than one. Tags are intended for casual interactions (social networks, SMS, emails, etc.) and were first made popular on text-dependent social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Reddit.

Now that the “what” has been briefly established, we examine the “why” and the common application. 

Tone can drastically influence the meaning of a sentence. For example, let’s say that you and a friend were communicating via a standard messaging system. You send them an uproariously witty comment (in your own humble opinion), and they respond with “I hate you.” 

But what did your friend mean by that? Do they really hate you? Were they joking?

For those who struggle to perceive tone through text, these types of situations can be challenging to navigate. Many people (myself included) struggle to pick up on the intention of a message in written form. For neurodivergent individuals, the lack of indications outside of the words themselves (e.g., physical body language, voice inflection, facial expressions) can make it hard to decode the meaning of a text or post.

That’s where the tags come in!

A few of the more commonly used tags. Image taken from: https://tonetags.carrd.co/

For example, if your friend wanted to convey that their comment was a joke in response to your own, it would read as: “I hate you. /j”.

Alternatively, if your message made them seriously despise you, they would say, “I hate you. /srs”.

Indicators are easy to use and prevent distress from missed social cues. When applied correctly, miscommunication and misunderstandings caused by ambiguous tone in text can always be avoided.

In a day and age where this particular medium of conversation is commonplace, clarity is essential. As non-face-to-face communication, in general, has grown and changed, our syntax, grammar, and sentence structure has adapted as well. 

Likely, you’ve never heard of these fabled “tone tags” before, but they were conceptualized long, long ago. An informative carrd.co site explains:

The tone indicator ‘/s’ has a well-precedented use, spanning years on Reddit. As early on as the 1580s, there have been tone indicators; Henry Dunham, an English printer, created a backwards question mark, ‘⸮’, which he dubbed the ‘percontation point*. It was meant to indicate rhetorical questions”.

In the modern context, they’ve evolved into a form of accommodation.

However, some believe that these devices are “stupid” and/or a form of “babying neurodivergent people”. Pushback also stems from those who think that the indicators are inconvenient or ruin punchlines. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase “but /j ruins the joke”, I would be a formidable customer at the dollar store. But that’s neither here nor there.

Lastly, it’s essential to recognize that not all neurodivergent individuals need these accommodations. Cognitive disabilities come in all shapes and forms, and just because some struggle with identifying tone does not mean that all struggle with it. I’d advise not to push or assume that every neurodivergent person needs to use these. Ask!

As a disclaimer, choosing not to use them on social media or in other contexts does not make you a bad person. It’s up to you whether you want to employ tone indicators or not, but if someone asks you to clarify a message or use the tags when conversing with them, give it a try! 

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Benefits of doing puzzles

By: Joxery Mezen Camacho

These days, puzzles have become a nice way to pass the time for many people. And if you haven’t been doing puzzles then maybe it’s time to try a few because there are quite a few benefits to doing so – and they’re fun! 

Image taken from: Image taken from: https://exodusescaperoom.com/the-benefits-of-puzzles 

Lower stress! 

While puzzles can sometimes be difficult, and maybe make you feel stressed, they actually help lower your overall stress! When we do puzzles, our brain gets into a similar state to that when we are dreaming – it’s called the Alpha State – that causes us to stay relaxed and feelings of peace. 

Improves memory

Doing puzzles gives your brain a mental workout. This works your neural connection which makes them stronger and creates new connections. The area in the brain that processes and stores information is made stronger which helps you improve your short term memory. 

Teamwork! 

According to some researchers at Yale University, when people work on a puzzle together their relationship improves. This also helps improve their collaboration skills and their ability to work as a team! 

Improve your mood! 

Whenever we do a puzzle, our brain begins to produce and release dopamine! Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects your mood, optimism, and motivation by sending feelings of pleasure and reward. This helps encourage us to continue to challenge ourselves! 

Get better at problem solving! 

Puzzles help you become better at critical thinking! When you’re looking for the next piece to place down, your mind pictures a basic idea of what you’re looking for which strengthens your ability to create theories and hypothesize. And when you pick the wrong piece, you immediately begin to formulate a new idea and look for something different. This helps you improve your adaptability and innovation! 

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