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sarah

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, School

    How to Balance Work, School, and a Social Life

    Sometimes things happen, and you’re left with an extra burden or two. Maybe that means you have to pick up an extracurricular activity to boost your scholarship resume, or maybe you need money now and have to get a job. Either way, adding more things to your schedule is never easy.

    You’re young and have your whole life ahead of you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have things to worry about right now.

    Being young gives you the extra energy to take care of business, but it also brings along puberty, peer pressures, and the impending doom of what you want to be when you grow up.

    I know first hand how stressful life can be. In high school, I was a part of my school’s theater program, I participated in our school’s show choir and  regular choir, and I had two jobs. I also didn’t want to have to say no to my friends when they invited me out.

    I had to learn to delegate my circumstances ahead of time so that I was never left making hard choices too late.

    My week looked something like:

    • Monday- School 7:30am-3:15pm; Spend time with friends 3:45pm-6pm; work 6:30pm-9pm; sleep 9:30pm-6am
    • Tuesday- School 7:30am-3:15pm; Show Choir Practice 3:30pm-5:30pm; Homework/Study 6pm-7:30pm; Free time 7:30pm-9:30pm; sleep 9:30pm-6am
    • Wednesday- School 7:30am-3:15pm; Spend time with friends 3:45pm-5pm; work 5:30pm-9pm; Sleep 9:30pm-6am
    • Thursday- School 7:30am-3:15pm; Show Choir practice 3:30pm-5:30pm; work 6:30pm-9pm; Homework/Study 9:30pm-11pm; Sleep 11pm-6am
    • Friday- School 7:30am-3:15; Play practice 3:30pm-5:30pm; Spend time with friends 6:30pm-12am; sleep 12:30am-6am
    • Saturday- Work 8am-9pm; sleep 10pm-8am
    • Sunday- Church 10am-12pm; lunch with friends 12:30pm-2pm; Homework/study 2:30pm-5pm; free time 5pm-9:30pm; sleep 9:30pm-6am

    The best advice I can give if you are a very busy bee

    Give yourself time to breathe.

    You need fifteen minutes for relaxation every now and then, if not more time. I get that projects and exams are due at certain times, but try to take breaks between studying. I like to watch fifteen minutes of TV or get a snack in-between homework assignments. It helps me mellow out and focus better on my work.

    Try planning your week out in advance.

    There may be some curve balls in there, but the more time you allot for specific tasks, the more time you will have for yourself and for your social life. If you feel like you are saying no to almost all your friends’ invitations, try allotting time for them every other week if you can’t afford more time.

    The connections you make will aid in shaping you as a person. Find friends that take things as seriously as you do. They are more likely to understand your circumstances. Do not let other kids bully you into thinking that you are boring or overworking yourself. Do things at your own pace and how you want to do them. Different study techniques work for different people.

    Here’s another article with tips on how to use your time wisely during the school year, or to just manage your time better in general.

  • Articles, Fashion, GirlSpring.com, School

    School Dress Codes

    school dress code

    How do you dress for class when the latest fashion trends are crop tops and leggings? When sitting through eight plus hours of lessons, the last thing you want to do is worry about what you look like. Yet with strict school dress codes for young girls, the pressure is on.

    Why is it fair that your ability to learn is determined by how long your skirt is?

    I was once sent to the principle’s office because my shirt was considered inappropriate. The principle took one look at my shirt and asked what the problem was. I had to explain that the teacher didn’t agree with the words printed on it. The shirt sported lyrics from a popular song at the time and were in no way derogatory, unless you believe the words “I’m only going to break you heart” should be banned.

    It is ridiculous the obstacles that females must jump through just to stay at school all day. If the public-school systems weighed our education over our appearances, we would surely have a better chance with our studies.

    The rules for measurement are based on how long or short your appendages are. The inability to wear clothes that are more suited for warmer climates is almost a punishment. Not to mention the amount of time and money that goes into finding “school-appropriate” clothing.

    You spend the whole summer wearing the things that feel comfortable on your body and make sense for the climate. Then you start back to school with a closet full of useless clothing.

    It might be a little different if classes started later in August or even after Labor Day like some colleges, but when school starts in the middle of the Summer season, shorts are inevitable.

    Here are some tips to survive this school year’s dress code:

    • Only buy ten items. Try to make the items interchangeable outfits. Finding plain clothing and adding accessories can help.
    • Find one store that has almost everything you need. Mine is Torrid. There are always clearance items and the clothing fits my body well. Not to mention, accessories and shoes come in abundance.
    • If you buy articles of clothing that would be considered revealing, wear leggings/colored pantyhose underneath. Or you can buy a cover-over (a cardigan, sweater, jacket, etc.).
    • Keep a spare T-shirt or pair of pants in your locker or backpack in case of wardrobe violation. This helps avoid the humiliation of having to wear gym clothes/lost-in-found clothes or having to go home for the rest of the day.
    • You may not be able to wear a crop top by itself, but turtlenecks, tank tops, and t shirts can be placed underneath one to make a cute statement.
    • You probably can’t wear leggings by themselves. Sweat pants, joggers, and other not-form-fitting workout pants can be comfortable to wear. Also, jeggings are not technically leggings, but can fit and feel just the same.

    Try reading over your school’s dress code to figure out what you can and can’t get away with. Some schools differ from others, which means yours might not have as strict of rules or it might be more strict than neighboring schools.

    Part of getting back to school ready is having your closet ready to go! Get ready with this video on how to polish your wardrobe. 

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, work

    Career Aptitude Testing

    career aptitude

    Sometime in your middle and high school years you will be asked to participate in career aptitude testing. This means you will be sat down with a booklet in front of you and a bunch of answer bubbles to fill out that could possibly determine your future. The test can be stressful whether you have an idea of what you would like to do after graduation or not.

    It’s A Test, But Not Really

    The best thing to keep in mind while filling out your answers it to be honest. The test is not for a grade. It does not determine whether you pass a class or not. This test is just trying to help you figure out some possible career choices. It bases its analysis on what you answer. What you like versus what you do not like. It is a simple algorithm that could help save you the trouble of guessing what on earth you should do with your life.

    When the results come in, you do not have to agree with them. There will likely be several career options listed, and some of them may be more similar than others. This just means that for the similar ones, you must have liked 70% or more of the things required for those jobs.

    What To Do After You Get the Results Back

    Try not to discard the test before checking into the results. The employment options given could be work fields that you may not have considered otherwise. It would be in your best interest to give them a chance, even if it is a small chance. Google can quickly give you the information you are looking for.

    If you find that some of the career options seem interesting, then you can move on a step. Check to see if there are local businesses that offer those type of jobs. Then, you can reach out to those businesses and ask to interview an employee or even request to job shadow someone. Job shadowing is just taking the time to watch the employee work for a couple of hours. It can go on for one hour or if the person working agrees to a longer period, it could last for several days.

    When interviewing or shadowing, try to take note of the things you did not know were required for that job. Ask them questions about other things that they did not know before getting into their field of work. Find out how much school and time goes into the position.

    If you are in high school, you may be able to ask for an internship if there are any available. Explore as many different work fields as possible before settling on one. This way you can experience the variety of options available to you, and can determine which best suits you. If you get a head start before entering college, you may be able to save yourself a lot of time and money.

    An Opportunity to Explore

    There is currently an opportunity available to you, if you are interested in pursuing a career in writing of any kind. This site, GirlSpring, is always on the lookout for new talent to showcase. Even if you do not know if writing is for you, just give it a try. Everyone has something they would like to say, so why not use this platform to be heard? It would be a great addition to any resume and gives you a feel for whether it is something you could pursue for career purposes.

    At the end of the day, if you still are unsure what career choice you should make, do not worry. You are young and have plenty of time to try out different things. I know some people who are in their sixties and are back in college for a career change. You can easily get a degree that covers many different fields. I, for one, am an English major. I plan to pursue writing, editing, teaching, researching languages, event planning, and marketing.

    Here are some extra links to check out if you want to try an aptitude test on your own:

    https://www.whatcareerisrightforme.com/career-aptitude-test.php

    https://www.yourfreecareertest.com/

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/ashleyperez/what-career-should-you-have

  • School

    Religion in Schools: Good or Bad?

    The debate about the role of religion in public schools is decades long.

    The goal of a school system is to educate and encourage the youth to be a functioning part of society. In some cases, teachers and students feel that religion is a necessary part of that. The necessity stems from the belief that religion provides morals for people to abide. I believe that any one person can obtain decent morals without religion, as so many have. In my opinion, a secular environment with the option to practice your faith is the best option for schools.

    The law requires teachers to remain separate from their beliefs when teaching academics.

    It is okay for them to be religious, and they can express their faith when appropriate. However, teachers are not allowed to push their beliefs. The same rules apply to the students. If the lesson discusses a religion, then any answers or questions about said religion is appropriate to ask. However, if the lesson is about another subject that has not mentioned a religion, then it is discouraged to bring it up. You cannot teach one specific religion as correct and others as incorrect.

    These rules provide a comfortable learning environment for all teachers and students who may or may not participate in religion. The problem stemming from some schools is a lack of respect for fellow students and teachers who share different beliefs.

    I grew up going to a school that was heavily geared towards Christianity and was in a southern town. 

    I acknowledge that this does not mean that all schools in southern towns act in the same way. There were instances where students felt threatened by the idea that another student could stop in the middle of class to participate in their faith. The students began arguing that if one faith should have a certain right, then all faiths should have it. While this is not necessarily a wrong theory, its painted in hatred and misunderstanding.

    The angry students failed to see that they had just as many opportunities to practice their faith as the other students and even sometimes more freedom.

    Students who need to pray at certain times of day were given that right. The students that followed separate faiths in which they were not required to pray at specific hours of the day were not given that courtesy, because they were not religiously bound to it.

    Christianity in many forms is practiced in schools. Some of which are:

    -Fellowship of Christian Athletes clubs (which I discovered were not exclusive to athletes despite the name),

    -Meet Me at the Pole days once a semester or once a year,

    -Religious music within choir groups,

    -Bowing their head and pray in the middle of the day at any time.

    Practicing my religion never once scared or worried me. It was the dominating faith at my school. There were kids in my school who believed differently than me.  They wanted to practice their faith without harassment. However, they were met with anger and fear.

    As for the argument that some religions are dangerous to students, try being a little more informative before making such accusations.

    The law requires public schools to allow students to participate in their religion. This is true unless certain aspects of their religion are harmful to the student body. If someone’s beliefs were truly harmful to you, then it would not be any different than another student bringing a weapon or harmful words to school. Schools have a code of conduct rules. Regardless of religion, weapons, harassment, or any kind of harmful act is obviously prohibited.

    Consider what you are doing if you try to prevent another student from participating in their faith. You are not only harassing them, but you are causing harm to their learning abilities. They just want to get through school just the same as you. If you disagree with something they say, think about how they must feel when you talk about what you believe.

    Here are some links to check out regarding your rights:

    Religious Freedom in Public Schools: https://www.aclund.org/en/news/do-you-know-your-religious-freedom-rights-school

    Department of Education Religious Protections: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-takes-actions-address-religious-discrimination

    Are you the victim of harassment? https://www.employmentlawyernewyork.com/news/latest/religious-harassment-am-i-a-victim.html

    Identifying religious discrimination: https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/religion-in-public-schools/clubs

     

    Check out some of your school’s clubs to see if one matches with your beliefs. This will help you find some friends that you can relate to. Try also sitting in on other religious gatherings to understand the other students better. This goes for all religions (if you are comfortable enough to do so).

    If you would like to share your opinion on this topic, please leave a comment below this article. It is important to have open discussions about these types of things because it leads to change that sometimes betters our environment.

  • Lifestyle

    Immigration and Citizenship in the United States

    There has been a lot of controversy over Donald Trump’s rise to the Presidency.

    His biggest sell to our country is the promise of safer borders and less overcrowding due to foreign immigration. This promise began with the attempt to build a wall. Which has been less a structure and more a human resources enabled deterrent. The plan is to station 5,200 American soldiers along the border to prevent a caravan almost 4,000 people from Mexico.

    (More on the caravan and citizenship proposal here: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/trump-wants-end-birthright-citizenship-executive-order-n926081 )

    The people in this country are scared, but half of the population seems to believe “the people” shouldn’t expand. So, what does Trump propose next, to ensure that immigration numbers decline? He announced on a TV interview with HBO’s Axio’s (https://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/trump-seeks-to-eliminate-birthright-citizenship-axios-1356703811948?v=railb& )that he will implement an executive order to withhold citizenship rights from foreign-born babies.

    The issue I would like to discuss does not start with Trump, nor will it end with Trump. It goes back to the mindset that in the United States of America, certain people deserve a certain standard of living.

    Why is it that people celebrate Cristopher Columbus when he sailed to the Americas and enslaved and warred with the native races? When immigrants from a border country try to find solace and a better life, they meet rifles and hatred. There is a disparity in how we treat people.

    My great, great grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian, but my great-great-grandfather was almost entirely European.

    At some point in my family tree, an immigrant came to America to have a better life. My family wanted the freedom to practice their religious beliefs and wanted to live in a country where the sky was the limit. I can imagine that those trying to cross the border only want the same things if not more.

    If our country was an unsafe place to live in, would we not want another country to help us find peace?

    The idea that President Trump can change the 14th Amendment is going to push two sides of people to surface. One side will want what’s best for themselves, and the other side will want what’s best for other everyone. However, if we let the selfish side of ourselves win, how can we expect others to treat us and how can we forgive our actions?

    The stigma towards an entire race of people is causing tremendous loss. At the border, they force families to separate. Some people immediately return to their countries. While others are forced to live in an unfamiliar territory alone. The women who come to the U.S. illegally, and have children are only doing it for a better life for their child. They understand the risk of being separated from their babies. However, this would not stop a loving mother from doing what she can to provide for her family. This is the purpose of the 14th Amendment. It gives every person the right to a free life in a free country.

    If you have opinions on this topic, whether in favor of or against, please comment down below. I am curious to know where other people stand on this situation and am open to hearing all sides.

  • College

    Women in the Military and Sororities

    Military and sororities

    When you think of active duty military members, do you picture young girls in a college sorority?

    Women have had to fight for so long to be taken seriously. Sometimes people disregard traditionally “women-centered” organizations, thinking that it brings us down as a gender. It is time that the world knows that women can be anything and do anything that they want to. This includes being a part of the military and a sorority.

    In 1917, Loretta Walsh became the first woman to enlist in the U.S. Military. Since then, many brave young women have signed over their lives to help guide and protect those they love.

    I was given the opportunity to interview some of these young women.

    Madison Fritts, her sister, Amber Fritts, and Shelby Pitts are active members of the United States Army National Guard, the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps), and UAB sororities. Madison and Shelby are members of Sigma Kappa sorority, and Amber is a member of Kappa Delta sorority.

    The Fritts’ both began their ROTC journey from an ad their father found in the newspaper one day. The ad explained that the Army National Guard was offering a scholarship to those who enlisted. They applied immediately. They were given the opportunity to serve their country and attend school for free. Madison stated, “I wanted to join because it was a way to push myself in a way I never thought I would.” Amber said she was originally planning to enroll in the Air Force ROTC program before the National Guard scholarship was found.

    Shelby’s story hits a little closer to home.

    She started college by following her family’s footsteps by enrolling in the Air Force ROTC program her freshman year. After doubting herself, she left the ROTC program. When her grandfather passed away in 2017, she chose to honor his memory and returned to ROTC.

    The Fritts and Shelby felt the need to get out of their comfort zone to make friends on campus. Madison and Shelby became founding mothers of Sigma Kappa at UAB in 2015. Amber is one of Kappa Delta’s founding members, which was founded in 2017. Amber stated, “I… fell in love with kappa delta and all the beautiful and smart women in the sorority and became a founding mother of Kappa Delta on 28 Oct 2017.”

    Being a founding mother of a sorority means that you have gone through the proper channels to bring a chapter of that sorority to your University. These three girls joined others in doing this, but it shows their leadership qualities in their ability to bring an entire chapter to their school.

    Shelby believes in fighting sorority stereotypes by showing that the women of her sorority and those around her are all unique and talented. Madison stated, “I never saw myself as a sorority girl, but all of the women from Sigma Kappa were so genuine and kind.”

    These three young women find that the biggest challenge being in both ROTC and their sororities are the time conflicts.

    Madison stated: “Sometimes I am unable to come to events because I am at an ROTC event or drill. However, my sisters are very understanding and are always there to catch me up on what I miss.” Amber recalled missing her chapter’s first “recruitment”: “I was unable to attend recruitment because I was doing CERFP training in Mississippi.”

    CEFRP (Chemical, Biological, Radiological/Nuclear, and Explosive Response Force Package) training involves a team practicing how to handle contamination during battle, and how to decontaminate those who do not live through it. (https://www.army.mil/article/29824/physical_training_gear_does_double_duty_for_cerfp_soldiers )

    That description represents how terrifying being a part of the military can be. You never know what kind of curveballs are going to hit. These girls go through months of training to be prepared for anything.

    Sorority recruitment also requires extensive training.

    You spend months prior to the week of recruitment preparing conversation pieces, uniformity, and chants. It may seem easy, given that rush week is advertised as lasting a week, but it is so much more.

    The Fritts sisters not only participate in Sigma Kappa/Kappa Delta and ROTC, they are also members of the organization Universities Fighting World Hunger. Amber was once the President of the Blazer Running Club and the Pre-Physical Therapy society. She is also an intern for the campus recreational athletic training room. Madison has held leadership positions with Sigma Kappa and is a member of the ROTC Color Guard. Shelby is also member of the Pre-Physical Therapy society, Black Student Awareness Committee, and Her Campus.

    So, not only do these women spend a large amount of time dedicated to the military and their respected sororities, but they also try to better the world through other campus organizations.

    I asked the girls who inspired them and what advice they could share with you. They all find strength from their friends in ROTC, their sorority sisters, and their family. Shelby finds inspiration from her future. She stays motivated to give herself the best future she can imagine. She also stated: “The military can seem intimidating, but without the army I wouldn’t be who I am. I have become a better version of myself and this is something I wish everyone finds…”

    Their advice for you is to get out of your comfort zone, whether it be joining a new sorority or signing up for ROTC. You won’t know how you feel about it until you give it a try. They have both found lasting friendships and have greater confidence in themselves.

    If there is anything you should take away from this article, it is that women can be anything and do anything if they just try. You do not have to join the military to be brave. You can be brave by fighting for what you believe in and securing the education you need to help the world in different ways. Madison and Amber are being brave by serving our country, completing college courses, and meeting new people.

    Please, comment down below to share how you are/can be brave!

  • Books

    Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

    Girlspring book review, a court of thorn and roses

    What do you get when you cross popular fairy tales with fantasy-fiction?

    You get a book series by Sarah J. Maas. She takes a new spin to classic fairy tales with her series A Court of Thorns and Roses. The first novel, A Court of Thorns and Roses, is based on the concept of Beauty and the Beast. The second novel, A Court of Mist and Fury, follows the story of Hades and Persephone. The third installment, A Court of Wings and Ruin, is based off the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

    As the first novel, A Court of Thorns and Roses, unfolds, the reader is introduced to numerous plot twists and heart-breaking situations.

    The story follows Feyre, a nineteen-year-old girl trying to live her life in the harshest of conditions.

    One morning, as she is trying to provide for her family, she shoots down a stray wolf. Something off about this wolf, but her need to feed her family took precedent as she pulled back the bow and arrow.

    After shooting the wolf, Feyre finds herself in a foreign land reigned by Fae. She spends months captive by the High Lord of the Spring Court, one of the many High Lords in all of Prythian. Maas uses mysterious beings in a way that makes them seem just as vulnerable as humans, despite their superior power.

    Feyre faces constant struggles with abuse, eating disorders, self-awareness, and bodily changes over the three-book series.

    You will not feel like you are being lectured on how these issues affect people, instead, you will feel as though you are suffering along with her. There will not be a moment where you do not relate to at least one of the characters and find yourself understanding all their feelings and actions.

    Sarah J. Maas has a way with character development that brought tears to my eyes more than once. I 100% recommend this book series to any book-lovers and book-haters alike. I think if you must endure reading a single novel for a book report, Maas should be your go-to author.

    This series is LGBTQ+ inclusive and has an air of horror, mystery, romance, and fantasy.

    If you need a good book for December break, I recommend this one. Check out a more in-depth synopsis here: http://sarahjmaas.com/court-of-thorns-and-roses/