Teens talk about...

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

In an occasional essay series, the Class of 2morrow page offers a forum for area teens to speak their minds.

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Living in a right-handed world

This one goes out to everyone in the world who is left-handed. But even if you are right-handed, I feel you should read this. This paper is not to whine, complain or to make excuses for left-handed people; it is written to congratulate them on living in a right-handed world.

The first left-handed challenge that I remember being faced with was as a kindergartener. My teacher told us that we were going to have a writing test. After giving us the directions (which were, "come to my desk and write the letters you are told to"), I nervously approached her desk. After innocently following the directions I had no idea this evil person was critiquing my every move.

When I finished she began to scold me, telling me that I was holding my pencil wrong, dragging my hand across my paper, causing smears and making my letters backward. I broke down as soon as she crushed my little kindergarten spirit. (The right-handed people may not be able to relate to this, but I would almost guarantee that every left-handed person has been there and done that.)

After mastering the art of holding my hand over my paper and learning how to deal with the sharp pain that shoots through my arm every time I put my hand down on the metal spiral on the side of my notebook, I think I have pretty good handwriting.

Another left-handed challenge I was faced with as a young child was trying to cut with those left-handed scissors. You know, those little silver metal things that couldn't cut hot butter? I still can't cut even with normal scissors, and I blame Fiscar for making the left-handed scissors as they are. I understand that there is a safety issue, but they are so dull I think I could chew through the lines faster.

Once I finally managed to cut something out it looked so choppy and bad you can't even tell what it was supposed to be. It has scarred me for life and now I will never be able to cut a straight line. Cutting and writing were probably the biggest left-handed thing I had to overcome, but they were not the only difficulties. Simple things like shaking hands or swiping a debit card through a machine make me do what is unnatural and use my right hand. Signing papers at the bank is something that really makes me upset. They chain their pen to the desk so that no one will take it, but if you have to use your left hand to write with, it gets in the way. I already have to hold my hand over my paper so it won't smear but now I have a chain pushing on it.

Putting the key of my car into the ignition is something that I have to deal with every day. If someone watched me attempt to put my key in the ignition (which is on the right side) with my dominant left hand, they'd probably laugh to see me honking the horn because my elbow is awkwardly pressed against the middle of the steering wheel.

At least my parents like it, because they would know if I ever tried to sneak out since my horn honks every time I start my car.

Being a left-handed athlete is cool, though, even though I can't seem to force myself to take the open right-handed lane. Instead I will go out of my way into defense to use my left hand. But even with all these things, I don't think I would like to be right-handed. That's just not me, I am left-handed.

And I am proud of that, because "Everyone in the world was born right-handed, some of us just overcame it."

Amber Karnes is a student at Notre Dame Regional High School.

Teen partying: What can it cause?

"Are you enjoying the party?"

"Here, drink this, you'll feel better."

"Maybe you want a puff of this?"

These are some of the questions that teens may encounter when they go to parties. Like the old saying, "When the cat's away the mice will play," if parents are out of town for the weekend, teens want to throw a party.

At many parties thrown by older people, alcohol and cigarettes appear. What may seem like an innocent party may turn out to be too much fun. This is how preteens and other younger teenagers get hooked on smoking and drinking. Young teens look up to their brothers, sisters or anyone else who is older; if they are smoking and drinking, and then the young teens will think it is "cool" and want to do what the young adults are doing. Many teens are also pressured by their peers. They always pay the price later.

After drinking at a party, some teens believe that they are still capable of safely driving home. Nine out of 10 people who have been convicted of drinking and driving are males. No one who drinks, even just a small drink, should be allowed on the road. When a drunken person drives, he or she is jeopardizing innocent people's lives. People die every day because they were victims of a drunken driver, or the drunken driver was driving too fast, on the wrong side of the road, or perhaps could not control their car. Someone I know thinks it is mature to get drunk every weekend. If he isn't careful, this person might be in a serious wreck and be injured severely or even die. Drinking has its price. People can be hurt or killed because of their choice to drink.

Smoking is also another main killer of people today. Preteens and teens are put under pressure when people offer them cigarettes. Young teens think that they will look cool to their friends and others if they smoke. Everyone is aware of what smoking can do to the human body. Everyone has been warned, but people still smoke. Nicotine is an addictive drug in cigarettes -- people do get addicted to nicotine and cannot quit smoking. Young adults do not think of the risks of smoking while they are young, but once they start having health problems, they wish they could stop.

Partying can cause many people to start drinking and driving or start smoking. If parents were a little more strict, maybe teens wouldn't start smoking or drinking. Teens sometimes do listen to their parents and understand what they are saying. Smoking and drinking can be stopped if people never start.

Maria Wibbenmeyer is a student at Jackson High School.

Dealing with change

Until recently I've thought the opposite of what people always seem to be saying, that change is good. All my life I've tried to avoid change. I suppose I was scared of it. I always felt that if everything would stay the same then my life would be less complicated and easier to deal with. This was one of the reasons I was so nervous about going to high school. I knew everything was going to change and I didn't want that. I especially didn't want a change in friends. I was afraid I would lose my junior high friends once I was in high school. This is exactly what happened: I lost my best friend. But what's different about it is that I chose this change. For one of the first times in my life I chose to make a major change. Changes in friends and the change from junior high to high school both have altered my life. After distancing myself from this friend, my life has changed. I now feel as though a huge burden has been lifted off me. I have discovered great new friends, and I have realized how wonderful change can be. But I have not only learned that it is good, but that sometimes it is necessary. I needed to get away from my friend. She was causing too much stress in my life, and I was beginning to become more and more upset when I was around her. I felt that we both had changed and that we needed to go our separate ways. The change from the junior high to the high school has also changed my life. I had expected changes like more homework, harder classes and more freedom. It's because of those changes I feel more responsible, more grown up. Having more freedom, like being able to eat off campus, has made me feel more like an adult. As for more homework and harder classes, I'm learning how to separate work from play, and I feel as though I'm more responsible because of it. So far, high school has been more than I've expected; it's been great, and maybe someday I might start to talk to my friend again. But I realize that nothing will ever be the same, because that's what change is. Once something has changed, it will never go back to the way it was before; whether the change is in friends or going to high school. As for now, I have learned to expect and welcome change.

Sylvia Lindy is a student at Jackson High School.

The dreaded curfew

Curfew ... the most dreaded word of the weekend. It's not homework, not projects, not work ... it's curfew. The two-syllable word that comes out of your parents' mouths as you try to rush out the door to avoid hearing it. It's the only reason that makes you stress out, check the clock on your cell phone to make sure you don't upset your parents or, better yet, get grounded for the following weekend.

As for the weekend, it's what every teenager looks forward to and plans for during the long and stress-filled days of school. When Friday rolls around, you're ready to go out and have a good time with your friends, but remember that you have previous plans -- whether you have to work, babysit or go out to eat with your family. For example, every Friday and Saturday night, I have to work until eight o'clock. This means that by the time I race home and jump into the shower it's nearly nine o'clock before I'm ready to go out and enjoy the weekend. As I scramble out the door, my mother is yelling, "Remember that your curfew is 11:30. Don't be late!"

Without arguing, I rush to my car while thinking to myself, "Wow, two and a half hours, this should be exciting!" What can you honestly do in two and a half hours? Maybe drive to a friend's house and watch a movie. Making the issue even more complicated is that I live in Jackson, and everything I do with friends involves driving to and from Cape Girardeau. I automatically have to subtract 10 minutes to get there and an additional 10 to get back home, not including all the people I have to take home or back to their cars. This just goes to show that after all that hard work at school and working at your job or with taking part in sports, we really don't have much time for doing what we want.

So the next time you're frustrated with your parents for wanting you to be home to meet an early curfew, just remember, you're not the only one who has the curfew problem, and some of us have to be home earlier than you. We can just assume that our parents are only trying to do what's best in their eyes ... although we may not always agree.

Emma Halterman is a student at Jackson High School.

Speech team: Not just for the outgoing

Most of the Class of 2morrow are outgoing people. There are those who are gregarious, and some are fairly reserved. And I will bet that most of them have not even considered joining their school's speech team. At the mere notion of such, most of them would say, "What? I am certainly not the type of person who joins speech team!"

What most of them don't realize is that their statement is nonsensical. Some of the most reserved people I know are on the Jackson Speech Team. Speech team is for everyone, and it would benefit everyone greatly.

Another common misconception is that, for a reserved person to join speech team, he or she would have to become more outgoing. This is simply not true. Again, many of the most reserved people I know are on speech team, myself included.

No, there is no reason to your personality prior to joining speech team; speech team itself will do that. Speech team can bring a person out of the shell they have put themselves into; I know it did so for me. I never will be a very outgoing person, but now I'm more extroverted thanks to speech team. Most teenagers misjudge the positive effects of speech team.

I also know that through speech team I have made some long-lasting friendships. There is just a certain spark dwelling in the souls of the (as I call them) speech-folk. I once told a friend, "Speech-folk are the craziest folk in the world." And the statement becomes truer every day. Speech-folk are just good folk. They are inclusive, witty and very hospitable. I guarantee that going into a speech team meeting will leave one with a lasting sensation of goodness. Even though we of the Jackson Speech Team compete against them, all of the members of the opposing teams are very polite and friendly. Joining speech team is not just a positive attribute to one's personality, but also to their list of friends.

Speech team competitions are also a healthy experience. I have learned many things through speech tournaments and had many memorable moments. The thrill of the competition, having an audience watching (which is smaller than one would think), and the anticipation of the winnings have helped me to advance myself under pressure. It has helped me learn to keep my cool in a tight spot. I have made up parts of my piece when the ending escapes my memory. If one wishes to acquire this skill, join speech team!

Speech team has certainly added much to my life. It helped me become more outgoing, developed my still sub-par public-speaking skills, made life at school a little more bearable and gave me many new friends. I urge all of you to join the speech program at your school to better yourselves and to better your future.

Caleb Tankersley is a student at Jackson High School.

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