At fourteen years old, freshman Victor Adamson is small and slight. He isn't built like a linebacker, but he has exceptional athletic talent. As a star freshman golfer on Blair's golf team, Victor shows that his size and age are no shortcomings for his gift - an inherent talent and potential for golf.
A sofa or bedside table can easily be taken for granted. But at A Wider Circle, a non-profit organization in Bethesda, furniture has the power to change lives - including the lives of Blair students.
Adults everywhere bemoan the apathy and laziness of the new teenage generation. Cries of "When I was your age" call attention to apparent ignorance in teens, especially where current events are concerned. This opinion was quashed somewhat when Obama's 2008 campaign revitalized and motivated young people, using more student volunteers than any election ever before and bringing back issues that pertain to students. But according to the PEW research center, the number of young Americans that are deeply invested in politics is dwindling. But although this generalization rings true for many high school students today, it's certainly not the case with all of them.
Principal Darryl Williams spent the 90 minutes of fifth and sixth period away from his desk. He wasn't in meetings, he hadn't taken a trip to Central Office, and he wasn't patrolling the halls. Instead, he was sitting in the senior courtyard, conversing with the dozen or so students who filled the tables around him. Their topic of conversation was new attendance policy.
On a typical Friday night, while most teenagers relax at home or go out with friends, senior Amir Gorjifard finds himself waiting for a signal. It will come at any time in the night. As soon as he hears it, Gorjifard must respond immediately. As soon as he hears it, he knows someone is calling for help. As soon as he hears it, the race against time begins.
Senior Samantha Boyd sits in class, waiting to receive her grade on an assignment. Instead of returning an essay or worksheet, Boyd's teacher hands her a design board. Boyd's assignment is an interior design scheme that she will pitch to a client who has recently purchased a home. However, this isn't just an academic exercise - Boyd's design will actually be used to design bedrooms for the client's children. To many Blazers, doing such an activity for school seems like a far-fetched fantasy; but to others, hands-on assignments like this one are just a regular school day occurrence.
As junior Nathan Foley walks onstage, he enters a historic space. The same stage has hosted performances from artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, The Strokes and Jay-Z in the early years of their careers. This night, Foley competes against a group of mostly adult artists and eventually joins the ranks of the many successful performers who have won the Apollo Theater's Amateur Night competition.
Lady Gaga walks into the inferno of a Bikram yoga studio on Capitol Hill Sept. 8, a day after her concert at the Verizon Center. Compared to the Bikram fashion of sports bras and running shorts, her blazer and plastic bob may have been a bit flashy for the occasion. The other eight students took little notice, however - they were too busy practicing the grueling positions, sweat pouring down their faces. Bikram is to yoga as Lady Gaga is to the music business: it's more intense, way hotter and recently, really catching on.
Senior Ian Anderson coasts his skateboard down Fenton Street in Downtown Silver Spring (DTSS), scraping his wheels against the sidewalk just feet away from the new Veterans' Plaza. A police officer calls out to him as he rolls by. "Get off your board!” he shouts. "Don't get back on, or you're walking the [expletive] home.”
Living without clean water, food, and electricity. Without shelter or money. Living 50 miles away from the closest medical facility. Those conditions are commonplace for Pakistani citizens, the majority of whom regularly dealt with these circumstances even before recent flooding devastated multiple communities across the country.
Adrian, a senior, stands at his desk in his English class. For what seems to him like an eternity, he stares blankly at the passage he is supposed to be reading aloud. "Focus," he tells himself. "No silly mistakes." For most Blazers, reading a few words aloud is an easy task. But on this morning, it's not easy for Adrian. Stoned, smacked, baked, blazed - he's high.
Sophomore Michael Morganstein walks down the hallway, pausing to say hi to his various friends. Suddenly he hears "M-Squared," his family nickname, booming down the corridor. He turns around and sees his dad smiling at him.
Most high school students pick up an instrument or join a sports team as an after-school activity, but not senior Sally Ravitz. She wanted something more exciting, more dangerous. Traveling at speeds up to 115 miles per hour and soaring 3,000 feet in the air were exactly the changes that Ravitz desired. Now she attends lessons at Freeway Aviation every Saturday in order to obtain her pilot's license.
A land with no real voting, no freedom of speech and no voice for its people living under an oppressive government rule – it sounds like a description from a history textbook or a fantasy novel. But for 11 years of her life, this was reality for senior Thu Nguyen in her home country of the Vietnam.
As Blazers' Facebook walls have begun filling up with a multitude of prom photos and comments, senior Kamal Ndousse's wall remains empty. No pictures of his date smiling as she fits on the $30 dollar corsage, no parents glowing with pride over their grown up boy. Instead, the pictures were replaced by memories of the "most epic" night of his life: a Local Area Network (LAN) party where he and his friends connected their computers and played video games for 28 hours straight.
The sun shines down on the field's freshly cut grass as two teams in different-colored uniforms line up in their formations. The players put on their game faces and dig their cleats into the ground. But as the opening whistle sounds and the first pass is made, both teams rush to the ball in what appears more like a battle than a soccer game. The only mediating force against the chaos of youth sports: junior Connor Dowd and his shiny whistle, signaling his position as referee.
It all starts with eye contact. In the middle of a party packed with other high schoolers, Jacob, a junior, might lock eyes with a girl — then, the two might strike up a conversation or, if he's lucky, start dancing. From there, it's a series of tests: casual touching and flirtatious whispers to gauge her interest. Before long, the two are hooking up – usually making out, sometimes more. When they're done, Jacob says, he walks away, moving back into the party.
It happens all the time: a friend is over-energized, a teacher loses his train of thought, a peer drinks one too many Red Bulls before class. It's easy to jokingly blame attention deficit disorder (ADD) and move on with the conversation. But for some students who actually cope with ADD, other learning disabilities and physical handicaps that make schoolwork challenging, it's no laughing matter.
Freshman Manpreet Gujral's response to the burqa ban is immediate and strong. "That's wrong," he says. "Anybody should have the right to wear or do something for their religion." For Gujral, the matter is personal: He is a Sikh and he wears a turban.
There's a new civil rights movement afoot in America, and it plans to stretch the definition of 'person' beyond race, gender or religion. This time, Murray Hill Inc. is spearheading a movement to demand that the Maryland legal system extend campaign freedoms to the corporate world. After the Supreme Court declared in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in January that corporations have the same rights as individuals, Murray Hill pounced on the opportunity for publicity and a chance to poke fun at the Court's controversial decision. That's right – the Silver Spring public relations firm is running for Congress.
Freshman Samendjy William couldn't move. She couldn't speak, either, because the debris pinning her down shot pain below her ribs every time she tried to call for help. Unable to see the widespread destruction around her, William imagined that the trembling earth had opened a gash in only her house. Nearby, underneath the rubble, her older cousin whispered words of encouragement. William inhaled the air she could reach, and prayed: "Jesus, please, show me your miracle."
Their heads rest comfortably on their small hands, their eyes fixed on the sight before them. But they are not entranced by bright colors flashing on television or videogame characters leaping across the screen. These kindergarteners are mesmerized by a picture book, whose colorful pages are turned by hands twice the size of a 5-year-old's.
As students trickle into the meeting in a Blair classroom, she gives each a welcoming smile and a gentle hug. When the "catching up" session begins, she sits in the close circle of chairs along with them. She listens quietly to their experiences of the past week, their ideas for changing the world and their solutions to violence in Africa, stepping in only rarely to ask questions and offer insight. Wanjiru Kamau - or "Mama Kamau," as the students call her to show their respect and admiration for her in a traditional African way - is the founder and executive director of the African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation (AIRF). She has devoted her life to helping African immigrants adjust to American culture without losing their old traditions.
Their village was called Friendship, but freshman Yakemi Wilson's grandparents feared even to peek out the window. Outside, ethnic riots had torn through Guyana, and Wilson's grandparents were holed up inside their house, unwilling to show their faces to the aggressors fighting beyond the panes.
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