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school

  • 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.

  • School

    Tips For A Stress-Free Semester

    Tips for Studying!

    Tips and Pointers for a Stress-Free Spring Semester

    By Uzma Issa, GirlSpring Springboarder

    It’s that time of the year again!

    It’s the time people enjoyed the winter break, it’s a new year, and school comes creeping from around the corner. People finished their midterm exams and the second semester is about to start. I don’t know about you, but I struggled with the first semester, one main issue is the problem of time management. Everyone procrastinates on assignments, putting it off until the last minute. So how can we improve our time management skills for the new year?

    I’ve had the problem of procrastinating, not wanting to do work in the moment, and pushing off assignments to finish later.

    This causes problems because I end up pushing too many assignments to finish later not giving me enough time to finish. I’ll end up staying up late or doing my homework the morning it is due.

    I have gotten better at completing assignments on time and this is how:

    1. Look at all the homework you have and evaluate how much time it will take and the difficulty of it.

    2. Create a schedule for yourself.

    3. In the schedule, vary the difficulty of assignments so you don’t have to do 2 hard or time-consuming assignments back-to-back.

    4. Include breaks to eat, use the bathroom, or leisure.

    5. Try to include a bedtime. So if you end up not being able to finish your homework in time, you cannot stay up late. Sleep is vital to our health.

    6. Stick to the schedule. If you finish something faster than you anticipated, then you may do other things or get a head start on your other assignments.

    One thing to keep in mind is that everyone needs sleep.

    As kids or teenagers, our brains are still developing; they need sleep to function properly the next day. If one goes to sleep extremely late in the night trying to finish homework for a class the next day, that person most probably will not be able to stay alert and retain the information taught in class because of their fatigue. Nationwide Children’s claims that on average, teenagers get around 7 hours of sleep, but need about 9 hours of sleep.

    Here are a few ways you can get the sleep you need:

    1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, sleep and wake up at around the same time every day.

    2. Try not to oversleep on the weekends. It may seem beneficial, but it will be harder to get back into your sleep schedule for the weekdays.

    3. Take short, early afternoon naps. They are quick but will energize you to do work later on.

    4. Limit screen time before bed.

    5. Try to minimize screens or Bluetooth devices in your bedroom.

    6. Cut out caffeine.

    An additional note to realize is that our phones are huge distractions.

    We may not realize it, but many people use their phones more than they realize. Many people probably know this, but on the new iPhone update, there is a feature in Settings where you can track your screen time, notifications, pick-ups, and more. There is also an option to keep limits on apps you use a lot. So, I recommend setting a time limit on your phone so you can concentrate on other goals and be less distracted. Also, set a bedtime on your phone, so you don’t use your phone after a certain time, allowing you to get better sleep. Some people use their phone as a stress reliever, but it’s not the best option.

    People should partake in different stress-relieving activities such as drawing, coloring, knitting, creating something, cooking, or exercising that helps them take their mind off of stressful ideas.

    During breaks, you take from assignments, or after a stressful day, you should take some time out for yourself to do something you enjoy doing. Self-care is an important part of life and you should not spend the whole day overworking yourself but to take time out to take care of yourself. If you have lots of assignments to do or work to catch up on, do not try to do everything all at once, non-stop. Take breaks to energize yourself and do something you enjoy – then work some more.

    Overall, these are a few things that might be helpful for the second semester of this school year, or life in the future.

    I know some of these tips helped me and I am still trying to improve my time management. Good luck to everyone in school and I hope you found this article helpful!

  • School

    How to study for the ACT / SAT

    Junior year is considered the hardest year and most juniors’ biggest stress is studying for the ACT or the SAT. Now, for most standardized tests, the best way to prepare is simply to practice. This article is here to help you guide yourself for studying for the ACT / SAT and to give some guidance on preparation.

    First, assess your current situation. Have you taken the test yet? If yes, then you know your starting point and what you’re trying to build off of. If you have not taken the test of your choice yet, then take a deep breath and remind yourself that you have many times in the future to take the test over again. You probably have plenty of time to study and prepare.

    Second, sign up for your test. Most of the time, the sign-up deadline is roughly a month away from the test date. This would be a good time to either: purchase a practice test book or find a good practice program online. I know that Khan Academy provides a good SAT practice program, and many people have given good reviews with inspiring scores. Any old practice book will work also. You can easily buy one at a bookstore.

    Third, set up a practice schedule. If you don’t think you will need to study that much, then limit yourself to only 20-30 practice problems every few days. If you don’t think you’re going to do very well, then I would recommend 25 practice problems a day. With this schedule, you can easily finish a practice test in a couple of days.  If you record your answers on a separate sheet of paper, you can retake the same test and avoid buying another book after finishing it.

    Fourth, make sure to check your work. Most practice booklets have an answer key at the end of each test and explain each answer. Read the descriptions of why things are right! It helps to build connections and will strengthen your smarts on why a certain answer is right.

    Note: Standardized tests L O V E short and concise answers. If you’re in the English / reading portion of your test and it asks for a replacement statement, go with the most concise answer.

    Fifth, its the day before the test. On this day, don’t do any practice! You have been working so hard for the past month or so, and before the big day, you need a break. Make sure to print out your ticket, and have the directions for your testing center. Pack your bag with what you plan to bring to the test, eat a nutritious dinner, and go to bed early. I don’t mean wildly early, just enough so that you can get 7-8 hours of sleep.

    The next morning, wake up early enough to eat a good breakfast. Not just a pop tart. Get some protein and carbs so you have the brain energy to make it through all of the test. Leave your home early enough to reach your testing center with a few minutes of extra time to find your testing room and settle in. Before the test, take a deep breath and remember all the practice you have done. You are ready to conquer the ACT / SAT!

  • Books

    What’s on Your Book Shelf?

    What’s on Your Book Shelf?

    by GirlSpring intern Sarah Vice

    You may be exhausted from all the in-class readings that your teachers assign, but do you still take the time to read for pleasure? There are scientific studies that support the idea that reading for pleasure leads to higher reading levels. This also improves test taking abilities when a reading comprehension test is in question. If you have not taken the ACT yet, or exit exams for the school you are in, then there is still time to prepare. It does not all have to be literature books and academic journals. Try reading a fiction novel, a comic book, a murder/mystery novel, or something that might peak your interest.

    In turn, reading for pleasure can give you a boost in confidence to follow your dreams. It not only benefits your reading abilities, it also dips into your personal life. Some of my favorite book authors in middle school were James Patterson and Stephenie Meyer. Patterson always had a unique selection of stories to follow, one being completely different from the next. I would get so into the stories that I would finish one book in less than eight hours and be onto the next one.

    In high school, I became more interested in authors such as Sarah J. Maas, Suzanne Collins, and Becca Fitzpatrick. The stories were more for my age and delved deeper into the science fiction/fantasy genre. The leads in my favorite books were always female, and they gave me the courage to want to fight for what I believed in. The authors themselves had me pursuing a writing career of my own. I liked to look at the author’s biographies on the backs of each book and envision that I could some day achieve the same goals.

    Find an author or main character that gives you purpose. Try to imagine yourself in their shoes, then imagine what they would do if they were in yours. The kind of power it gives you to run free with your imagination is incredible. And while you are enjoying an entertaining story, with possible new role models, you’re improving your reading comprehension.

    If you are not into reading anything other than what is school designated, then check out these book recommendations and see if they might interest you:

    • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
    • Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
    • The Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson
    • Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
    • Matched by Ally Condie

    Here is also a link to a description of how reading can affect your reading comprehension as well as your personal life:

    https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-02-pleasure-life.html

  • Stress

    Six Ways to Avoid Stress This Semester

    Six Ways to Avoid Stress This Semester

    1. Make good use of your planner

    Schools typically issue a planner to their students at the beginning of the school year, but there are tons of cute and affordable planner options if you would like to have one more custom to your needs. It’s been proven that writing things down helps you remember them, and often times seeing everything you have to do written out together can help you visualize how much time you have to spend working on different projects throughout the week. I personally have 4 different places to write things down: a pocket-sized daily planner with hourly slots to help plan out busy days (TJ Maxx), a dry-erase calendar (Amazon.com), an un-dated weekly planner that stands up on my desk (also TJ Maxx) and a weekly to-do list notepad that I use for non-school and work related tasks (TJ Maxx as well). This way, if I think I’m forgetting a deadline, I probably have it written down in at least one place.

     

    Shop planners here:

    https://www.amazon.com/Time-Management-Manual-Planner-millimeters/dp/B07CWG2W8Y?keywords=planners&qid=1536629515&sr=8-3&ref=sr_1_3

     

    https://www.target.com/p/2018-19-academic-smoky-planner-8-5-x-11-ashley-g/-/A-53718426?preselect=53334116#lnk=sametab

     

    https://tjmaxx.tjx.com/store/jump/product/Jaguar-Organization-Kit/1000364623?colorId=NS1155377&pos=1:20&Ntt=planner

     

    1. Plan for big deadlines ahead of time

    Do you have a paper due the Monday after a weekend lacrosse tournament? Or a group project the same week as a final exam? As soon as you know big due dates, work schedules, sporting events, and family plans, it helps to write them down in one place so that you don’t surprise yourself at the last minute when you realize you have to finish writing out an essay in the car on the way home from a visit to grandma’s. Maybe use one of those cute planners you’ve bought? Just an idea.

     

    1. Give yourself plenty of time

    As someone who is the kween of procrastination, I have to finish my assignments as far ahead of time as I can manage so that I’m not scrambling to scrape them together fifteen minutes before class starts. In high school, I would take a nap immediately after school and not even touch my backpack until 6:00 am before school the next day. I would have to set five consecutive alarms every 15 minutes starting at 5:00 am in order to get myself out of bed and get my backpack out of my car where it had been since I left school the day before. (But at least I got that hour and a half nap in, right?) I’ve found it a lot easier on the body and brain to knock things out while you’ve got time, even if it means going right to the library after class. Even if your brain conks out every ten minutes or you end up spending too much time scrolling through Instagram, at least you’ve gotten started.

     

    1. Have a good balance

    Don’t get me wrong, school is important. But this doesn’t mean you have to spend every Friday and Saturday night studying. It’s just as unhealthy to isolate yourself from you’re friends because you’re worried about making an A on every assignment as it is to neglect your schoolwork. Exercise is also super important to feel good and be healthy, whether that’s going outside and walking the dog every day or participating in sports. In my experience, it’s always been best to listen to the body and do what feels right. If you spend every moment that you’re with your friends worrying about when you’re going to finish your math homework, it’s alright to decline to hang out every so often. If you’re late to soccer practice every day because you don’t get out of work until fifteen minutes before it starts, consider taking a few hours out of your work schedule. If you’re not sure whether to cut down on something that’s taking up a big chunk of your time, try to focus on how you feel during and after that activity. Is it worth it for you? Would you be happier doing something else? Keep in mind, you can do anything but not everything.

     

    1. Go to class

    It sounds easy enough, but even at your least attentive, you’ll retain more than you would if you weren’t there. The more time you miss, the more time you spend catching up. Sitting through one more presentation may seem impossible, but you’re truly just setting yourself up for more stress in the future. While you’re there, try to take the best notes you can. Even if you’re completely zoned out, at least you’ll have some key words and phrases written down that you can work out later. Focusing for so many hours is difficult, but half the battle is simply showing up.

     

    1. Make sure it’s not more than stress

    Since childhood, my panic, agitation, and constant fatigue were attributed to “stress.” It wasn’t until my freshman year of college when I went to my doctor and told him I thought I might have an anxiety disorder. Three years later, I can’t imagine functioning without the treatment I started receiving and I will always wonder if middle and high school would have been a bit more bearable if I had been diagnosed earlier.

     

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated the majority of the time to a point where it affects your day to day life, it may be something more than just a busy schedule. Schools provide guidance counselors as a resource for students, and that resource is meant to be utilized. It can be extremely difficult to confront mental illnesses like anxiety or depression, but reaching out and asking for help from a counselor or family physician is much easier than continuing to struggle every day.

  • GirlSpring.com, Lifestyle

    Music and the Brain: How it Can Help Memory and Learning

    Music and the Brain

    Have you ever heard a song so well-written that the lyrics put you in a trance? Does this trance lead to a moment of peace? According to song scientific studies, music can alter brain functions, which can lead to better memory, auditory processing, and learning ability (See https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/student-lifestyle/how-does-music-affect-your-brain ). Maybe that one song by Ariana Grande helped get you through studying for your exam last week. Or a classical Yo-Yo Ma piece may have helped you calm down enough to get some rest. Try branching out of your comfort zone when it comes to music and see what helps you feel more stimulated. A heavy metal band might just be what you need to avoid another caffeinated beverage, or a country ballad might help motivate you to love yourself more.

    The possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing the right music to make you feel good. Here are some of my favorite bands and artists to check out:

    • Troye Sivan
    • The Cab
    • Florida-Georgia Line
    • Demi Lovato
    • Little Mix
    • Paramore
    • The Aces
    • Red
    • Icon for Hire
    • Hozier
    • Marianas Trench

     

    Grab a healthy snack (some fruit, carrots, granola bars, etc.), your text book and paper for notes, and a good soundtrack. If you get into a groove where you spend so many hours a day studying and have the bonus of listening to some of your favorite bands, then you might just find your activity levels and grades rising.

    Some helpful tips for securing a good playlist:

    1. Shop around a little bit. Find the music site that works best for you and your budget. If free music is what you are into, then check out premade stations based on your favorite artists (Pandora, Spotify, Youtube).
    2. Mix up your sounds by creating more than one playlist. You can easily make one mixed station but making several sub-playlists will help in the long run, because sometimes you’re just in the mood for one type of music.
    3. Ask for sound recommendations from friends. Someone might be into a band that you’ve never heard of before, so asking opens more doors.
    4. Sometimes cheesy songs bop. Get out of the mindset that something can’t be good just because someone that everyone else likes sings it or because it has a catchy hook. Repetition helps with memory, so sing that song and try to make a jingle for your notes.
    5. Just have fun!
  • School

    Academic Communication

    Academic Communication

    My second semester of tenth grade, I came down with mononucleosis, which is also known as “the kissing disease”. This illness is much more than people think it is and caused me to miss nearly six weeks of school. During that time, I kept in contact with all my teachers. They sent me email copies of homework assignment and reading lists. When I came back to class healthy, I was on the same page as the other students.

    Whether you are in public school, private school, or are going to an umbrella campus for home school, you will need to be able to communicate with your teachers. If you’re sick or don’t understand the material your class is covering, just stay after class or write your teacher an email. Some schools don’t have email available to you for communicating with your instructor, and in this case, you may need to speak with them during class or write a note. Here are some writing samples for communicating with teachers:

    1. Composing an email: 

    Dear Mrs./Ms./Miss./Mr. Teacher,

    I am emailing you concerning [insert whatever it is you are having problems with]. If you have any helpful tips on how to stay on top of my academics during this time, please let me know. {add any ideas you have for staying on top of the issue]. I am available to meet with you to discuss this in person if needed. Thank you for your time.

    Thank you,

    Your Name

    1. Composing a note: 

    Mrs./Ms./Miss./Mr. Teacher,

    [go right into your current issue] I.e. “It has come to my attention that the recent project we are working on is due on a day that I will be out of town. Would it be okay for me to submit it early?” [or give alternate requests/suggestions].

     

    Thanks,

    Your Name

     

    From experience, teachers are more likely to help you out, or be understanding of your situation, if you get in contact with them. They just want to know that you are okay and that you are willing to do what is needed to stay on track.

    Here are some outside references to help with academic communication: