The process of MEPS

What is MEPS?

MEPS is the Military Entrance Processing Station. MEPS is a two day long process; the first day is when you’ll have to take the ASVAB test and the second day is where you go through a physical examination to see if you’re physically fit for the military.

What is the ASVAB?

ASVAB stands for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. It is a multiple choice test that everyone must take when trying to join any branch of the military. The ASVAB is timed, meaning that for each section of the test you take, there will be a timer and time limit for that section. The time limit varies each section, so maybe the science section will have a time limit of 15 minutes, and the math might have a time limit of 20 minutes. Overall, the test should be around 2-3 hours long.

What happens after the ASVAB test?

After taking the ASVAB, the person in charge will tell you your scores and give you a sheet to look at and sign then put all the documents into a folder specifically for you. After the first day, you are required to sleep overnight at a hotel that has a program with the MEPS. The reason for this is that people working for MEPS want to make sure that everyone wakes up on time, and gets to the Department of Defense at the same time, so that there won’t be any inconveniences. The required time to wake up is at 4:30am, as the process will take up the whole day. Depending on how many people are also joining on the same day as you, you might have a roommate or you might not.

What is the physical examination like?

Once you get to the Department of Defense, you have to sign in using your social security number and your fingerprint. During the examination, you’ll have to take: a urine test, eyesight test, hearing test and a blood draw. After you do all of the required tests, you will be put into a room with people of the same gender, and in there you’ll have to do some physical activities to make sure your arms and legs are working fine. Some examples are: flapping yours arm, touching each of your fingers with your thumb, and doing the duck walk. Once you finish, you’ll meet individually with the doctor.

Afterwards:

Once you finish with the physical examination, you’ll meet up with a counselor from your branch and go over your paperwork. After that, you meet with another counselor working at MEPS to go over your papers and make sure everything you have on your files is real. Once you go through all of these steps, it’s time for you to swear in and make an oath. Swearing in will take about 15-20 minutes, then after that, you’re done at MEPS and officially a part of whichever branch of the military you’ve applied for.

Body image

“Who cares if there are lumps on my thighs? I’m guilty of having human legs made up of fat, muscle and skin, and sometimes when you sit, they get bumpy.” This quote was said by the lovely Kristen Bell.

There are so many people who dislike their bodies because of how companies show their products.

Most models weigh around 23% less than the average women.

Eating disorder problems have increase almost over 400% since 1970.

There is only 5% of women in the U.S. that fit the body type that’s so popular in advertising.

Dove, a Unilever brand, made a huge attempt to show women realistically. According to Thebalancecareers.com, even though they had good intentions, it was obvious that most ad campaigns still contained men and women as physically “perfect.”

Here are 9 possible steps you can take to have a more positive body image:

Step 1: Appreciating all that YOUR body can do. Each day your very own body carries you to achieve your dreams.

Step 2: Keep a top ten list of things you like about yourself. Positive things work the best.

Step 3: Continuously remind yourself that “true beauty” is not skin deep. Having self confidence when you are normally not having much can help.

Step 4: Surround yourself with positive people. It’s helpful having friends who always think positive and support you and your body.

Step 5: Doing something nice for yourself. Doing the smallest things make you feel so much better. Whether it be treating yourself to something you have never had, or even something as small as having a relaxing day by yourself.

Step 6: Shutting down the negative voice inside your head. You can push over through all of the negative thoughts with positive thoughts.

Step 7: Protesting advertisement images, slogans, and attitudes that have made you feel bad about yourself.

Step 8: Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others. Reaching out to people can make you feel better about yourself and can change the world positively.

Step 9: looking at yourself as a whole person. Let’s take a mirror for an example, when you look into the mirror you focus on one thing. This thing can be both positive and negative, but people usually look at the negative things.  

To read more about these step you can go to: nationaleatingdisorders.org

Things to do over spring break

Spring break is just around the corner and you’re probably considering what to do. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Science Museum of Minnesota: The Science Museum is focused on topics in technology, natural history, physical science, and mathematics education. It was founded in 1907. You can explore 8.5 acres of exhibits. https://www.smm.org/
  2. Mall of America: This is a shopping mall where you can visit all your favorite stores. It is the largest mall in the country, and it has over 500 stores and more than 50 restaurants. There are a lot of fun activites like visiting the Nickoldeaon Universe and going on many different rides. https://www.mallofamerica.com/home
  3. Minnesota Zoo: This zoo is in Apple Valley, Minnesota. The zoo has many different animals you can see like American Bison, American Black Bear, Amur Tiger and, Brown Bears. http://mnzoo.org/
  4. Greak Wolf Lodge: The Great Wolf Lodge is an indoor water park in Bloomington. Great Wolf Lodge will offer families a great place to stay and play with over 75,000 square feet of indoor water park. https://www.greatwolf.com/
  5. Sky Zone: This is an indoor Trampoline Par. You can plan parties, do dodgeball tournaments, fitness classes, and other events. https://www.skyzone.com/

How to give good presentations

Presentations are an unavoidable part of high school. Whether you enjoy giving them, or find them the worst assignment on earth, you probably want a good grade on them. Here are some ways to make your presentations better:

Making the presentation:

  1. Frame your story: Make sure you’re including every side to your story before presenting our ideas or facts. It’s nice for the viewer to understand all sides of a topic before you move on to our specific idea. This is the research portion of the assignment.
  2. Plan your delivery: how will you deliver this presentation? Will it be bold and direct, as if you’re trying to persuade someone, or is it just stating the facts, in which you should try to refrain from just listing.
  3. Choose your multimedia: what platform will you use to deliver your presentation? You can choose a documentary, slides, etc. Make it colorful and entertaining to grab the attention of the audience.
  4. Put it together: practice your speaker notes, and make the final edits and cuts. If you had all your research on a Google Doc spend this last portion of time transferring it to a more entertaining presentation source and finish making it look like you want it to.

During the presentation:

  • Speaker Notes: Organize the PowerPoint/information in an order that makes sense. If you are presenting a topic that many people are unfamiliar with, this is key. The audience most likely does not have as deep an understanding on the topic, so formatting will best prevent confusion and know what you will say before hand to avoid confusion.
  • Background. If you are presenting a complicated topic, adding a slide with background, or speaking about this extra information, will help your audience gain better understanding. Even if this isn’t required by a rubric, it is important and could assist in getting an “A.”
  • At the end of the presentation, review information. By reviewing the information you spoke about at the end of the presentation, you give the audience members a chance to ask questions and reflect. This also frames the bigger picture of your topic.
  • Ask if there are any questions, and be prepared to answer them. This means you may need to do extra research on your topic in order to ensure you can answer these questions. Asking for questions assists the audience in getting the most out of your presentation.
  • Add images. Incorporating visual aids into your presentation will bring it together and add another perspective of the topic. Not all audience members respond to listening or reading.
  • Speak up. Projecting and enunciating while speaking makes your presentation more engaging. Nobody wants to watch a student mumbling words off of a notecard!
  • Incorporate the audience. Ask questions or play a quick game with the audience to keep them engaged. This brings your presentation to another level. The teacher grading your presentation is often impressed if you are able to teach the class.
  • Don’t chew gum/eat. Although this often goes unspoken, it’s important not to be eating a snack, chewing gum, or drinking from a water bottle during your presentation. This lowers the professionality of your presentation and can get annoying.
  • Don’t read directly off of a notecard or iPad. This is not as engaging to the audience and does not display your knowledge on the topic well. Instead, use a notecard/iPad as a quick reminder of what you will say. A good way to prevent the temptation to read off of a notecard/iPad is to only include bullet points. This way, you are forced to elaborate on the topic.

Hopefully, by following these simple instructions you are able to put together a wonderful presentation!

Nothing can beat nerves but it only means you care. Now you have done everything you can to prepare and you’ll nail the presentation so good luck!

How to get past writer’s block

Writer’s block impacts everybody. Whether you’re writing something for school, or for fun, chances are, it’s hit you. Here are some tips on how to get past it.

  1. Don’t start writing with a blank slate; always start with an outline. This helps because you will always know what happens next with your plot or essay, so you won’t be stuck trying to move forward.

  2. Walk away from writing. Not forever of course, but taking a step back and taking a break can help refresh your brain, and open yourself to more ideas and creativity.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up. If you beat yourself up about not being able to move ahead, that won’t help. It only results in you being upset and not moving ahead. It’s normal to get writer’s block, so don’t feel bad.
  4. Start to write something else. Writing something else like a short story or even just short sentences can help refresh your brain while also taking a break. It can also help the creative juices start flowing.
  5. Last but not least, brainstorm. Write down ideas of what you could write next. Write everything you think down. Something will stick, and you will eventually be able to move forward.

These are just a few ways to get past writer’s block, and they’re all worth a try. So next time you’re stuck writing; try one or multiple of these tips. You will most likely be able to get past your writer’s block.

Snow day activites

Snow days can get pretty bleak, so to keep you entertained, here are some thing you can do on a snow day:

  • Cook a special meal: The perfect way to show your family appreciation and enjoy a delicious meal you can spend all the time in the world to perfect.
  • Eat in the dining room and/or with fancy dishes: After you’re done, you still might have some extra time on your hands, so why not make the table look extra fancy to surprise your family, or simply enjoy the extravagance yourself.
  • Watch a favorite movie(s)/show(s): I mean let’s face it, do you really want to get up during snow day? It’s your one day to relax and sleep in and eat all the junk food in the world. So just put your favorite show(s) or movie(s) on! The extra s’s are because you’re most likely not going to stop when you start… but hey! It’s our day to relax!
  • Order in dinner: Maybe you don’t want to do all that and you’re on to the more relaxed vibe the snow day is sending you, then kick up your feet, get out you’re device, and order away while you binge watch your favorite show for the entire day #noregrets.
  • Make hot chocolate: If you’re relaxing, the perfect drink to keep you warm and feeling that oh so good fuzzy feeling inside, is some hot chocolate. The recipe we recommend is quite simple, just click on this lick for the perfect hot chocolate.
  • Build a pillow fort: Now, you’re relaxation has reached the max, movies, food, hot chocolate, what could you be missing! A fort! Make a cuddle place for you to eat, drink hot coco, and watch your favorite movie to reach ultimate comfort
  • Play in the snow: Now the white stuff outside looks so soft and you think it would be perfect to roll around in, so head on out! Explore the wonders of your front and back yard. And though it very cold and we recommend ultimate caution at all time, you could probably see many bodies of water sculpted beautifully because of the weather, but stay safe!
  • Make snow angels: If you’re going outside, a fun activity to try would be creating snow angles. You could make snow forts and make other creative creations. We know you’re in high school, but you’re never too old to play in the snow.
  • Make snowballs to freeze: Once you’re done with your daily dose of Minnesota winter, you can head on back home but don’t forget to bring some snowballs. Store them in your freezer for a surprise attack that is sure to startle people in summer!
  • Cut snowflakes from paper: Now you’re done with snow, but the snow’s not done with you! Create some paper snowflakes and though we’re sure people know how to do it, here a tutorial just in case: Paper Snowflake Tutorial. Have fun, be creative, and be careful if you’re using an exacto knife.
  • Bake cookies: Now if hot chocolate didn’t do the trick, then fresh baked cookies definitely will! The oozing chocolate (or other topping, but let’s be honest, chocolate’s the best!) and warm dough with a melt in your mouth, slip down your throat, kind of flavor. I know my mouth watered when writing this!
  • Check on/visit neighbors: Make sure your neighbors are O.K. and if they’re struggling or stuck, well that’s one way to make their day. Bring over your baked cookies, or other food that everyone enjoys, I’m sure they’ll be super grateful.
  • Shovel together: Now this may seem hard, but when doing it with family or seeing your neighbors while doing it, it might make shoveling a bit easier. Sometimes, people are out of town, old, or hurt so they can’t shovel. Help them out and shovel their driveways; everyone will be grateful.
  • Light the fireplace: Make a warm fire to sit by as you watch the cold snow from the inside. The bitter cold washes away as you stay inside your warm home* with no regrets.
  • Play a family game: Gather your family around and play fun games, I’m sure everyone wants to relax after their long day of shoveling and cleaning with a fun game by the fireplace.

Another note to make is that some school districts, like SPPS, have debated using iPads on unexpected breaks like the snow days to have “online school” or using Schoology to do school for a day. This however hasn’t been enacted because the mandatory snow day work could be overly stressful since all teachers would possibly be assigning work at once (though some districts have decided to do this anyway).

*Many people who are homeless cannot find suitable places to stay during the extreme weather. if you are out and see someone, please make sure to lend a hand.

ACT preparation/tips

By: Maggie Alarcon

The ACT test is a standardized test used for college admissions. The ACT is required to be taken your Junior year of high school. Your ACT score is a key component of your college applications.

The purpose of the ACT test is to measure your high school readiness for college. College admissions officers will review your test scores, alongside with your high school GPA, the classes you took in high school, letters of recommendation from teachers, extracurricular activities and personal essays.

The higher you score on the ACT, the more options for attending, and paying for, college will be available to you.

There are four sections on the ACT that you have to complete: English, Reading, Math, Science and an optional 40 minute writing test. The ACT takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete, and if you do the writing test it’s about 4 hours.

I hope these tips below are helpful!

1. Get an ACT book
Having resources where you can study from is really helpful. Having the book to take places to study is helpful as well, and helps you work efficiently. Spending time reviewing and answering answers from the book helps you understand the format of the test. Also, it gives you a better understanding of what type of problems there will be on the test for each section.

2. Plan a reasonable study schedule
Set aside time for ACT practice and study.
Study for at least 3 hours a week or more. If it’s getting closer to your test day, then I recommend reviewing more. Get in the habit of studying too, so you can get used to the test and work on your test taking speed.

3. Do some timed practice to check in on your pacing
It is important that you have enough time to complete all the questions. I recommend you use a timer to time yourself in each section. Also, practice what was more challenging and took more time.

4. Take a couple of practice tests before the real one
It helps give you an idea of what the real test will look like. Taking a practice test gives you an idea of how well you would do, and the results will let you know what to work on more. Taking a practice test also helps you improve on your speed when taking the real test and the more practice the better.

5. Practice on the subjects that you struggle the most with and you know you’re not that good at
If you know you are not good at math or English, study more on those sections. Getting better before the test will help you improve on your worst subject and knowledge, but also your grade on the test. Look into more resources for those subjects as well.

6. Tutoring
Find options that work for you like tutoring. Getting help from someone else helps so much, having a one-on-one session is a good way to study, especially if you don’t understand something you can talk to them and ask them to clarify. It’s a more efficient way to get your studying done without getting stuck and not knowing what to do or study. You will be prepared for when the test starts and understand what you have to do.

Should you make a New Year’s resolution?

By Maddie Baggenstoss, Claire Ramadan, and Daniela Fernandez 

The New Year, a time for resolutions that will swirl down the drain by late February. What was once sparked by confetti and noisemakers is most likely destined to later crumble under cheesecake and binge watching. Whether it’s to workout, to eat healthy, or be a kinder person, the fun ends by January 3rd when we begin to miss our old vices. Will the destructive cycle of forgotten New Year’s Resolutions ever end?

Although New Year’s Resolutions can seem like a productive and achievable idea, many don’t often realize the cons that come with it.

One thing that many people don’t realize is that they will most likely end up quitting something cold turkey; sugar, smoking, drinking, etc. It takes about 21 days to start a new habit, which by then, most people stop their New Year’s resolutions.

Although ceasing bad habits abruptly is a method of improving, lots of people struggle with it. This is because many have the possibility to experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can affect mood, productivity, and energy levels among other things.

When trying something new, or quitting something old, it is almost always best to ease into new habits slowly; or at least not that quickly. Choosing to make a huge change in your life can be very overwhelming, and huge changes don’t happen overnight.

Many people will attempt to stick to their New Year’s resolutions, but the truth is that they are often way too much way to fast. For example, you may decide you will workout everyday beginning on January first. That’s a big goal, and we’re sure you could do it. Or you could start by working out a few times a week, and build up to it everyday. You may be more likely to reach your goal if you start small and stick with it rather than diving right in, and then quitting after a week.

The real question is: Should I make a New Year’s resolution? Ultimately, whether or not you want to make a New Year’s resolution is completely up to you. If you are able to set goals and stick with them, no problem, then this may be just another excuse for you to make a positive change to your life.

Even if you’re not so sure you can give up that amazing slice of pie that easily, we still encourage you to try. You don’t have to eat a perfect diet of fruits and vegetables right away. No step towards your goal is too small.

Whatever your goal is, do your best to get to achieve it. Get there at your own pace. What do you have to lose?

Pets as gifts

Pets aren’t always just fun and games, you have to feed it, take care of it, and maybe even potty train. That’s why if you got a pet for the holidays, I urge you to take care of it.

Pets require attention, love, and lots of work. Don’t give someone a pet if they won’t take care of it.

Also, if you received a pet, make sure you do proper research on how to take care of your new pet. For example, many rabbits end up in homes with poor conditions around Easter due to people adopting them without knowing how to take care of them.

Some pets also need special requirements that take time to prepare; for example, to adopt a bearded dragon you have to make sure your tank is at the proper temperature, so don’t spring a new pet on someone randomly.

Don’t gift a pet to someone who is usually busy, as pets need to be taken care of, and make sure you don’t gift someone a pet who is low on money who won’t be able to properly afford their pet.

While the number of returned gift pets has gone down, it is still something that should be thought about and not a sudden decision.

Does this person want a pet? Can this person properly take care of the pet? Are two questions you should ask before gifting a pet to someone.

But regardless, whenever a holiday comes around, I hope you have a great one!

Mid-quarter advice

By: Maggie Alarcon

Finals are around the corner, so you should take this chance that it’s only a bit past mid-quarter to catch up on any missing work and give it your best. Try to take this time as an opportunity to talk to your teachers about your grades if you haven’t already. Or even arrange a time with your teachers to do makeups for a test, projects etc.

I highly recommend to communicate with those around you more, it doesn’t always have just be your teacher, to get the help you need in any class that you don’t understand or need more guidance in. Check if there’s any tutoring sessions going on in school. Another way you can improve your grades during mid-quarter is asking your friends for help as well.

If you are having a test coming up, or any big project that is happening soon, make sure to stay focused and study really hard to do well, or to bring your grades up, especially if they are not looking the best. Study at least an hour or two.

Speak up also, and ask for help if that’s better for you. Don’t just stay quiet and wait until the last minute to try to get help from your teachers. Not all will help you out last minute.

Summer school is not very fun, and I suggest you get to work and don’t procrastinate and leave work to do at the last minute. It will just get harder if you do, and it will become a habit.

Lastly, another good idea that I can suggest is asking an adult, or someone you know you can count on, to check on you and your process being made, like your grades, and to keep pushing you to keep going and motivate you.

I hope these suggestions were helpful!