Throughout the year people go through tragic and heart breaking experiences. For some people that’s why the holidays aren’t always the best time of the year. People shut down because the tragedy that they feel overpowers the will of happiness. This time of year is tough if you have lost someone to a disease or illness. One illness that not many people think about is childhood cancer.
Science and Optics teacher Mr. Conrow lost his daughter to cancer nearly three years ago. She had a cancer of the brain and spine and was only three and half years old when they found out. She fought hard, but sadly lost the battle not long after she turned six years old.
Coping with a loss like this might seem impossible. Mr. Conrow explains that there are people out there who can help. “There is an organization called Compassion Net. This organization helps families going through this tough time. This organization helps families who have a child sick with a disease. Even if Amanda was cured, they still would’ve helped our family out,” Conrow states.
During this time of year I miss my cousin RJ, who had neuroblastoma cancer stage four. This cancer is found in the small glands on the top of the kidneys. Children ages five and younger are usually affected by this type of cancer. RJ died on February 22, 2012. For a year and a half, he fought long and hard. He was such a happy kid even though he was in the hospital most of the time and couldn’t be home. When he was, we made the best of memories when we could.
This is a very serious situation, a very serious heartbreak. These kids don't get to live their lives like we do. We have to cherish every moment, every memory, good and bad. If we don't then what are we living for? We have to live to our full potential, and live the happiest and the fullest lives we can.
“No day is promised if you dwell on the sadness, if you can’t remember the good times,” Mr. Conrow adds. He is hopeful and gives advice to anyone going through such tragic times. “Find a few people that will just listen when you need to express yourself,” he advises. “It helps to write down what you’re feeling and make the argument to yourself that can still have happy days. Find ways to remember them in good ways.”
So during this holiday, and the next, enjoy your family, enjoy the time, because you never know when your life might change.
Working at the Strong Museum of Play, we have many guests of different religious backgrounds. As I was getting ready to close the play Wegmans last Saturday, I waited at the door as guests were leaving. As families were leaving I wished them a “Happy Holiday.” After I said this, the father of the family turned around, grabbed my arm, and said, “I think you mean Merry Christmas.” Surprised at what happened, I simply said, “If that is the holiday that you celebrate, then yes, sir, Merry Christmas.” And with that our closing announcement went off and they left.
People can be very protective of their religious practices during the holiday season. Various holidays from many religions are celebrated in December. Christmas is the traditional holiday that we all commonly hear about. It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Mostly Christians and non-Christians celebrate this holiday, giving and receiving gifts from many loved ones. But it’s not the only holiday that is celebrated at this time of year.
People of the Jewish faith celebrate Hanukkah at this same time of year. It is celebrated for 8 days and 8 nights and each night they light a candle on a menorah. Some people also may not know that Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees, a rebel Jewish army, over the Greek-Syrian ruler, Antiochus about 2200 years ago.
Another holiday commonly celebrated in December is Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is mostly celebrated by African Americans for 7 nights. They use it to help them reconnect with their roots. The celebration corresponds with 7 principles including unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
There has been a big controversy about people saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Let's all be mindful of others and stop and think that maybe they don't celebrate Christmas and say “Happy Holidays” instead, especially if we're not sure about what holiday they may celebrate.
The Navy is a serious commitment, especially when your life could be in danger most of the time. Mr. Neal, a Chemistry teacher here at East and a former Navy, explains how life was when he was in the Navy.
“I started my application when I was 16 but didn't get accepted until I was 18,” said Mr. Neal, who was a student at the University of Rochester when applying to join the Navy. “I had to pay the tuition for college so I joined right after the Vietnam War,” he said. Mr. Neal started his training in college but it wasn't as tough as the real training. He said that college was a more laidback experience but the real Navy was more overpowering and had to deal with the real world.
Switching up environments and learning new skills like that is not an easy task to do in life. Nobody took the training easy and that is what made it harder for people to get accepted. “There were a lot of very competitive people,” says Neal. “We participated in physical tests like swimming with all the equipment on, obstacle courses and many others.”
Life seems hard in the Navy but it can help you with many things in life and that is the best part about it. The Navy can prepare you for the real world and experience things you thought you would never have to experience. “There was no access to the media back then so we had to communicate by writing letters,” said Mr. Neal. When in the Navy you don't have time to go home every day to go see your family, you don't have time to go play with your friends. How would you feel if you were in that situation? How would you feel if you spent weeks and months without seeing your family? It might be very depressing.
So on a day like November 11 we thank Mr. Neal and all the veterans who fought and served for our country a very big thank you and those who are fighting for our country now thank you for your service and keep fighting.
Black Lives Matter is a movement that was enacted after the murder of Trayvon Martin. Black Lives Matter supporters believe that African Americans are targeted by police to destroy the black community.
African Americans are discriminated against and experience police brutality. African Americans rights are limited and they are quicker to be convicted than any other race. They are immediately seen as a suspect of a crime they may have nothing to do with. For example, once an African American is convicted they receive harsher and longer sentences compared to white offenders. One in three black men can be expected to go prison in their lifetime. However, one in seventeen white men can expect to go to prison. This statistic clearly shows how black men are discriminated against. Due to the color of their skin and stereotypes they are immediately found as the guilty party.
Police brutality is experienced mostly by African Americans. I have heard many cases where they are not read their rights, they do not know what they are being arrested for, or they are shot without probable cause. When law enforcement officials dealing with an African American their first go to is to pull out their weapon even if they accused is not presenting any danger. This is the main focus for the Black Lives Matter movement.
To combat and fix all the problems that are being addressed in this movement I believe that all law enforcement officials should have to wear cameras on their uniforms. These cameras will be turned on every time an official is in contact with a civilian and the tapes and audio recorded will be able to be shown to higher authority and be shared with the public. This suggestion will be a solution to two things; the first is it will allow people to see that not all police are bad and they are following the laws and procedures taught to them while being in contact with a civilian and also it will whip any law enforcement official into shape if they were abusing the power granted to them by the government to uphold the peace in Rochester, New York and every other city or state throughout the United States.
When teenagers gets their driver’s license, an entire world of freedom opens up to them. After passing driver’s ed and the road test, it seems like the open roads are the limit. However, buying your first car might not be the dream come true you think it is.
East High student Tyjhan June bought his first car with his brother Ronney last week. The car is a 99’ Ford Taurus. The car was a steal, nothing wrong with the engine nor transmission. The only problem was that the car is a stick shift. Both Tyjhan and Ronney are experienced drivers and both know how to drive an automatic. However, neither know how to drive a stick shift. Because they bought the car together, both brothers are determined to learn how to drive the car.
In between their work and school schedules, both brothers take turns learning to drive their manual car. “I’m excited to have my first car,” states June. “Now I just have to learn how to drive it.” Tyjhan says that the first couples times he tried to start the car and actually learn how to reach all gears, and reverse the car was hard, but he’s starting to get it down.
So let this be a lesson to all the teens who are looking to get their first car: make sure you can drive it before you buy it!