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GUIDE and Gwinnett County Parks and Rec Teens Share the Mic

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VOX presents our editors’ top picks of responses that emerged from the GUIDE and Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation teens at a writing workshop, in spring 2015. VOX asked teens: What’s something today’s teens have expertise to talk about in our communities? What would you say if you have the microphone and the opportunity to share your thoughts and opinions about today’s teen generation?

Toju Pessu, 16, Archer High School

Success is something everyone can attain. Whether it is educational, social, spiritual or anything, all you need is a goal. Once you have a goal, there is nothing that is necessarily untouchable. Our generation is filled with so much opportunity that we aren’t aware of. Some kids say they aren’t smart enough, or they’re too shy, but all those can be turned into a strength. Education is something everyone is able to have. Disabilities, finances or even home trouble should be able to stop. Those scholarships are available for the nitty gritty to even the broadest subjects. There should never be an excuse because everyone has a goal – whether to make money or gain an education. There are so many resources available designed to enable your goals and dreams to become reality.


Meredith Calhoun, 17, Loganville High School

“Guidance at Home”

There are actually more people than we realize who have been kicked out or are on their own. Even if they have a “home,” there isn’t always the best support there; they are left to fend for themselves. Recently hearing stories of students who didn’t have places to shower or others who have to live with bf [best friends] because they were kicked out. They need people there who are about grades and their future, even if it isn’t a parent.

Lucio Ruiz, 15, Monroe Area High School

The teens of today, we are faced with problems that lots of times go unnoticed.

One big problem is drug abuse and violence. While this has been happening for a long time and is nothing new, it does seem to get worse and worse each and every day. For example, drugs are each day easier to come by, and they become more powerful, addictive, cheaper and all around more popular.

To add on, violence has been more and more common. It seems like every day a fight breaks out at my school. Even worse, they start over smaller things each time.

Patricia Granda-Malaver, 16, Collins Hill High School

Teens are 100% experts when it comes to stress. Every day we are bombarded with homework and projects when in reality we all want to do is sleep for hours. The amount of all-nighters I have had throughout my high school career is beyond belief. The whole objective of working hard every single day is for the future. Peers simply say to give up or rest. However, my future is priceless, and I hope to reach goals that my immigrant parents dreamed of me achieving. I want to make a difference in this world no matter how much I sacrifice now. Sometimes the stress is overwhelming and adults won’t understand, but it will all be worth it.

Cassie McBee, 16, Loganville High School

Today, in my Spanish class, my eyes were opened to a big issues facing my high school. Loganville High School is diverse, but we haven’t really been celebrating diversity. My classmate said, “Look around the cafeteria, and you will see that everyone sits in separate groups, usually divided by race and ethnicity.” It’s amazing to me that even though we aren’t forced to do this, we do it anyway. My school has put labels and placed identity on what we look like. It’s time to change the community and create a place of cultural competency.

Marilyn Carias, 19, Georgia State University

If I had to say one thing

Of what I want people to know

I would stand up

And let my voice flow.

Drigs, alcohol, parties,

That’s what adults see

But just know that is not me.

I might be a youth

At least for now

I am very different

And for that I will take a bow.

Uniqueness is what youth should represent

But why ruin that mindset

And make everyone upset?

“Eww, you’re a nerd” or

“Drink this and you’re kool”

Are statements that should be rejected

Because you are no fool.

So to all the youth out there

Hear my voice

Not everything popular

Remember, it’s your choice.

Josselyn Garcia, 19, Emory University

I believe that it is important to encourage teens to follow their passion regarding any career choice they plan to make. Each of us has our own way of learning, our one way of expressing ourselves, and our own values that make us who we are. When we learn to accept our talents, our innate talents, then we will be able to use this passion to help mold our communities in a positive way. I speak from experience. All my life I have convinced myself that a science career is the best route to take because of all the benefits it has. I have forced myself to study hard and give it my all, and it was only when I got to Emory University that I found that my talent in the sciences wasn’t my passion. I realized my passion [is] in the visual arts and that I can use this to help make change in my community. So now, I am following home and transferring to an art school. In conclusion, in order to make a positive and long-lasting change in our community, teens have to learn to accept themselves and integrate their passions into their community work.

Nicholas, 16, Archer High School

I’m autistic and had some friends since the third grade that were too, and I always felt like a leader throughout elementary school and middle school. But now I’m in high school and feel like signing up for the Hooked program and be part of leaders and help others and make some new friends.

Savoy Shakir, 17, Georgia Perimeter College

It’s always hard to answer questions like this. It feels loaded and complex, and I feel pressure not to say the wrong thing. As a teen, I always feel that [pressure] on a regular basis. Adults are always asking, “Where are you going to college,” and “Where do you see yourself working?” And I’m scared to say the wrong thing. A lot of adults feel we’re passion about the wrong thing.

Micah Carter, 16, Archer High School

I feel like teenagers today all have good intentions to make a difference in their community, but sometimes teens can distracted. As a community, adults and other teens, our mission is to help those who have fallen off their path of success and get them back on the road of greatness and accomplishments.

Cayce Reese, 17, Norcross High School

We as a society of teenagers have traveled down a road that lacks a true foundation. Continuing to journey without a clear destination, the idea is [to] learn from your mistakes but some mistakes can e avoided with the road signs. Who are our road signs? Where are our maps? The teenage life is full of detours, which can either allow for us to slow down and appreciate the scenic route or leave us at a dead end. We must find signs and maps to promote our journey, increase our enjoyment of life and encourage a purpose.

Alana Aguirre, 17, Norcross High School

Nowadays, it is so easy to take for granted what we have in our lives. It may be food, the privilege of being [able to] attend school or even a job. Many people, especially teens, don’t realize that people who live on the streets actually exist. I  know from experience that I used to take my parents for granted and the food that we eat and the house that we live in.

The first day I went to the nonprofit organization called Wandering to Nourish Atlanta to hand out food and hygiene packets was really eye-opening. There’s a difference to hear about people living on the streets and changing the “Help the poor in Africa” commercials than when you actually see it. These people were like their own personal community, gathering around and trying to survive being homeless together.

Also, people don’t realize that being homeless not only affects adults but also children.

Tenya Buchanan, 15

Dear Gwinnett Public Schools,

I feel like our schools should offer more life-skill classes to prepare for daily life, not just standardized tests. For example, my mom is an accountant, but she works with the IRS and she complains about how a lot of people don’t know how to do their taxes. Another example would be an electronics class to teach us how to use more advanced technology to help us with future jobs.

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