All Articles Tagged "middle school"

They Call Me Drama: People Who Live For Confrontation

October 31st, 2012 - By Veronica Wells
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People are quick to tell you that high school was the cruelest, most cattiest time during their schooling. But in my hometown, my classmates were the most cut throat, the most insensitive, the most “loud and wrong” when we were in middle school. Reading my diary from that time,  even I had to check myself. Did I really say that? Did I really think like that? Yes, unfortunately, I did. It was a time of ignorance. Some of the most memorable stories from my township come from that school. There was the boy who accidentally peed on himself, the girl who gave head to a dude in our science classroom and the girl who beat her best friend in the face with a belt right after our recreation period. I wish I could tell you I was exaggerating to spice up this story; but these, my friends, are real life occurrences.

I learned a lot about people and human nature in middle school, a certain type of person in particular. Though, I didn’t quite have a name for them then, I’ve since diagnosed these folks as”Drama Dependents.” People, often women, sad to say, who seem to need drama to live. You know these people. If somehow all the nations of the world ended all wars and joined together, around a campfire, to sing Kumbaya, these people would want to attack the person singing off key. For one reason or another they can not be happy in a time of peace.

I met one of my first “Drama Dependents” in 7th grade. She was a transfer student named Morgan.* The very first day she came in starting mess. Perhaps it was a defense mechanism; but before anyone could even get a chance to know her, she was walking around school declaring that she was not to be messed with because she was from Gary (Indiana). If you know anything about the midwest, you know that Gary is unfairly known for just a couple of things: being the birthplace of Michael Jackson and consistently being one of the most dangerous cities in the nation. We were kids who had grown up in the suburbs of Indianapolis. And though most of us had never been to to this city, we’d listened to years of our parents’ warnings about the “roughness” of Gary. So her little threat worked. People didn’t bother her. Eventually, she softened up her stance a bit and started making “friends.” But she could never keep them because every other week she’d have some type of falling out, some type of altercation.

I was privy to all of Morgan’s business because we just so happened to sit next to each other in choir. And though I never hung out with her, she came to see me as some type of confidante. Every week, I’d hear about how she and so-and-so were no longer cool, how she was going to fight someone after school before we got on the buses, how she told off a certain teacher because she was from Gary and she didn’t play that. There was always a story and it was never positive. She even tried to give me the silent treatment after we had a disagreement about a piece we were singing in choir. Just silly! Her plan failed miserably because the girl didn’t realize I had no desire, whatsoever, to be friends with someone so confrontational. School life with Morgan went on like that for about a year.

Then we had another transfer student come to our school. This new girl, Shaniece*, was nothing like Morgan. She was smiley and friendly from jump, with a little “around the way girl” in her. Her personality and the fact that she was a DD in 8th grade, made her popular with the boys and the girls in our class. Though, she never openly broadcast it, we soon learned that Shaniece was also from Gary. It only made sense that Morgan would have a problem with her. Shaniece was the new girl now, she happened to be from the same city and she was more popular. It was a month before Morgan was walking around school talking about how she was going to fight Shaniece.

At the time, we all knew that Shaniece was going to catch a beatdown. She was just too nice to take on someone like Morgan.

But like I said, middle school was a time of ignorance. We had yet to understand the universal truth that anyone who does a whole lot of talking but never actually does anything, is usually bluffing. Obviously, it wasn’t long before the news of Shaniece’s imminent beatdown got to her. But instead of cowering or acting as terrified as we all thought she should be, Shaniece went to go confront Morgan face to face. Or she tried to anyway.

As Shaniece approached Morgan, with a crowd of middle-schoolers eager to see a fight trailing behind her, she called out in her cartoonishly, high pitched voice, “Morgan, come holla at me!” Morgan never took her up on the offer. Before she and Shaniece could speak face to face, Morgan ran. Not literally, but she refused to talk to her. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, she told our assistant principal that Shaniece was planning to fight her and had him escort her to the bus. I remember watching her being walked to the bus, the frightened look she had in her eyes. I laughed then and to this day I still laugh thinking about how much trash she talked over the course of that year and how many times we foolishly believed her idle threats.

Today, Morgan and I are Facebook friends (because I’m nosey) and I’m sad to say that nothing’s really changed. She has two children and she constantly uses her Facebook profile to explain how she can’t stand/wants to fight her baby daddy, his family members, random women in the club, her family members etc. Some people just never change.

Morgan wasn’t the first drama dependent I’ve come across and I’m sure she won’t be the last. There is never a shortage of unfulfilled people who get off on making others feel as terribly as they do. But I never take the drama dependents too seriously, because I know whenever they’re faced with drama they have no control over, or whenever it’s time to show and prove, they’ll run and need somebody to escort them out of their own mess.

*Names changed to protect the young, and in some instances, still dumb.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Back-To-School Gadgets For Your Child

August 29th, 2012 - By Blair Bedford
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Source: Detroit Mommies

Classes are slowly coming back in session, so  it’s no time to slack on school supplies for your kids (though some people are noticeably waiting a little longer to buy those supplies). With various technologies out there geared toward students, sending your children to school with just a ruler, a pen and some paper probably won’t be enough.

If you are thinking about buying a laptop, smartphone or tablet for your 14 or 15-year old you are thinking right.

“Parents today see the value in helping their kids get an early start on becoming more comfortable with technology, which is why you’re seeing more tech in smaller and younger hands every day,” advises a Best Buy spokesperson, who spoke with us via email. He notices the change in technology affecting even how normal school supplies are marketed. “You’ll also notice that the growth in technology has also altered other back to school supplies. For example, many backpacks now include a pocket for a laptop.”

Access to the Internet is also becoming an increasing way students are getting access to their homework, e-textbooks and other class material.

Making Your Purchase Affordable

Nowadays, it’s important that parents budget for these technological needs. Although a laptop or other technologies might seem rather costly, there are ways to make these classroom necessities a little more affordable. “It’s always a good idea to start with your school and ask about any software site license programs they may have, as well as group technology buying programs,” recommends a Best Buy spokesperson.

If you are not tech savvy enough to handle another piece of equipment, many stores have salespeople willing to help you understand and work the device. (Your kids might know how to work it already!)

Online versus In-Store Shopping

If you are more of an in-store shopper, use the back-to-school sales to your advantage and go into a store for your child’s latest gadget.

“Parents looking at new technology should stop into local stores with their children to check out new gadgets to better get a feel for how well the keyboard fits them, how heavy the device might be if it needs to be portable” and other features and benefits, adds Best Buy.

Online technology shopping is also another great (and increasingly popular) option, with plenty of back-to-school and online shipping and delivery deals that will increase your savings. Check your daily email newsletters and the gadget’s official website and you might find discounts for students beginning high school and college.

What Gadget Works For Your Child

If you have a younger child who is in grade or middle school, many parents should be looking for a desktop PC, if you don’t already have one. Besides being able to monitor your child’s computer access in an open place in the home, desktop PCs are less likely to be destroyed.

For students in high school and beginning college this year, laptops are more of a benefit to their academic success. Laptops are great for older students who have more classwork requiring note-taking, going online for research, typing up essays and for students who are “leaving the nest” for college. Once your child hits college, a laptop is almost essential for every major.

From the grade-school level to high schoolers, here are a few gadgets you should consider purchasing for your child to maximize their success this school year.

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XXL Staff Suspended Over Too Short Video

February 16th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Photo courtesy of AllHipHop.com

Once Too Short’s “Fatherly Advice” video went online last week, the viral disgust spread like wildfire. Later the same day the video was removed from XXL’s site, but many said that wasn’t enough and they demanded that the publication’s editor-in-chief, Vanessa Satten, be fired. So far that hasn’t happened, but the staff responsible for uploading the video has been suspended.

On Monday, XXL and Too Short issued an apology for the clip which went up last Friday. For XXL’s part, the EIC stated she agrees with those who were angered by the video and relinquished responsibility for the posting:

“I do not see all content before it goes live. When I saw this video, I was truly offended and thought it crossed the line. I had it taken down immediately. I am disappointed that an employee decided to post it and I am putting internal procedures in place to make sure content like this does not go on the site. The video goes against my value system and represents poor judgment on behalf of the individual who posted it.”

And Too Short was basically, Too Short:

“I want to apologize to anyone I may have offended with the XXL video interview I recently did. When I got on camera I was in Too $hort mode and had a lapse of judgement.I would never advise a child or young man to do these things, it’s not how I get down. Although I have made my career on dirty raps, I have worked over the years to somewhat balance the content of my music with giving back to the community. Just coming from a man who wants to see young people get ahead in life, I’m gonna do my best to to help and not hurt. If you’re a young man or a kid who looks up to me, don’t get caught up in the pimp, player, gangster hip-hop personas. Just be yourself.”

Since issuing this statement, the internal procedure has meant suspension for those who were responsible for producing and posting the video, and development of a new method of uploading to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Vanessa Satten also wants to make it clear that she is in no way down with the “fatherly advice” that was shared, saying in another statement that as soon as a reader made her aware of the video she had it taken down.

“As a woman, I in no way find the content of the video acceptable. To think I would ever approve anything that would harm women or endanger children is absurd. Under no terms should sexual assault be tolerated, nor do I endorse making light of it.”

Since comments are closed on both statements, it’s hard to say whether this will satisfy the public, but I’m curious why the content of the video wasn’t discussed before production began anyway. Sounds like someone is passing the buck. I vote no more Too Short videos period.

Do you think Vanessa Satten should be fired over the Too Short controversy? Is suspension enough for the XXL employees behind the video?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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Too Short Gives Disgusting Fatherly Advice About Girls to Middle School Boys

February 10th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Too Short never claimed to be a role model and I’m not sure why XXL is making him out to be one, but for some reason the magazine has given him a platform for “fatherly advice” and in his third lesson on the birds and the bees, he’s giving middle school boys some disturbing tricks on mind manipulation to “turn little girls out” and essentially take advantage of them sexually. Here’s what he said:

“When you get to late middle school, early high school and you start feeling a certain way about the girls… I’m gonna tell you a couple tricks. This is what you do, man. A lot of the boys are going to be running around trying to get kisses from the girls, we’re going way past that. I’m taking you to the hole.

There’s a general area down there, a little spot that girls have that feels really good to them. Don’t kiss them down there yet, that’s later in life. But this is what you do. You push her up against the wall or pull her up against you while you lean on the wall and you take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens. It’s like magic. You gotta find her spot, they all have a different one, but it’s somewhere in there. Just go for it. When you feel like it becomes a little more moist that’s when you know you’re doing it right.”

I personally think his advice is pretty irresponsible, yet somewhat expected from a raunchy rapper such as himself, but XXL really shouldn’t promote this type of foolishness for young boys, particularly when he’s leaning heavily toward aggressive sexual behavior played out against pre-teen girls.

Check out the clip and see what you think. Should XXL take this down?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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D.C. Parents Raise Concerns About Middle Schools

September 27th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Washington Post) – Alice Deal Middle School in Northwest Washington is bursting at the seams, and with good reason.  For foreign language, students can choose French, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. The school offers football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, track, baseball, softball, volleyball and fencing. The list of after-school clubs includes international cooking, African drumming, gardening, Scrabble and Gay-Straight Alliance. This fall, the school has 1,014 students in a building designed for 980.  At Brookland Educational Campus at Bunker Hill, serving preschool to eighth grade in Northeast’s Ward 5, the menu of offerings for middle-grade students is quite different. There is one part-time Spanish teacher. Students are offered basketball, track, cheerleading and chorus. And there are parents who say the situation in their community is untenable.

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Losing My White Friends

May 5th, 2011 - By Veronica Wells
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Up until third grade I went to a dream school. Sure, making friends presented a challenge the first couple of weeks; but eventually, I made my first friend, Dawn Washington.  Even though Dawn moved away later that year, it was smooth sailing from then on. Despite my introversion, by the time I was a third-grader I had friends of various races, was a Brownie in Troop 266 and of course excelled academically. Then at the beginning of my fourth grade year, my parents told my sister and I we would be transferring to another school.

Panic.

I was already borderline socially awkward and the thought of having to start over at an entirely new school was not ok…to say the least. To add insult to injury we started this new school a week later than everybody else because my family was on vacation. I tried to put on the brave, cool girl front and in retrospect I realize my new classmates really did welcome me.

Only one thing was awry.

While I had a variety of friends at my old school, here the black girls and I just didn’t… gel. While I was dipping my feet into the creek and trying honeysuckle for the first time with the white girls; the black girls were on the black top singing TLC’s “Red Light Special”.  I’m not going to lie, “Red Light Special” was my jam too but I was not trying to spend my entire recess harmonizing to those raunchy lyrics. It’s just not what I was about as a fourth grader.

So I hung with the people I could relate to; and they were white girls. When we chose partners in class I was always with one of my white friends, when we had sleepovers I was the only black girl there, during Christmas we exchanged Beanie Babies and Bath and Body Work lotions. They were my friends.

Then I graduated into sixth grade.

New school but the same people I’d spent the last two years with, plus a few hundred new students from other schools in the township.  I remember thinking I was too grown because I had a locker now. I was excited about the thought of making the transition from being looked at as a child to being considered an adolescent.  I was so wrapped up in the thought of being grown I never considered that my friend circle would change… drastically.

It seemed like the second we crossed the threshold into that new building my white friends and I had nothing in common. Certain things and certain people were quickly labeled “ghetto” and the new friends I’d made didn’t mesh too well with my old ones. Increasingly our conversations got shorter, there was no more hanging out after school and our relationship was reduced to waving to each other in the hallway, if that.

Not that I was lonely. I had new friends to fill the void. Black friends… all black friends. I’ll always cherish the relationships I formed in middle school. I met two of my best friends in middle school; but I did notice the shift, and it bothered me.

For years I harbored resentment toward white people, even if I wasn’t fully aware of it.  During my freshman year of high school, it was my best friend that told me about myself. Turns out she didn’t have white people issues like I did; in fact, she was cool with white people. One of her friends, Shelley, ate lunch with us our freshman year. While I should have seen her willingness to eat with us as a testament to her coolness, I didn’t. All I saw was that she was white. Meaning I was fundamentally different from her and we could talk but we’d never be friends. After all, that’s what I’d learned from middle school.

I thought I was keeping my anti-Anglo sentiments to myself but my friend called me all the way out. She said I was constantly making “all white people do this” type of statements that were not only stereotypical and rude, they hurt Shelley’s feelings. And my friend’s words hurt me. It was one thing to [secretly] dislike white people but it was an entirely different thing to be rude. That was not who I was raised to be and it took me a minute before I realized she was telling the truth, that was who I had become.

I can’t say that I changed overnight but I did change. I saw it my senior year. I worked as an editor for my high school’s paper and I spent long hours with the newspaper kids. We were a mixture of black and white kids and we talked about everything under the sun. By the end of the year I realized these people had become my friends. We spoke to each other in the hallways, we made each other laugh and the true distinction between friend and associate…we hung out after school.

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