Another Year of Successful Capstones for Miami Lakes Educational Center’s Journalism Seniors — The Harbinger

By Valeria Bula and Sabine Joseph Before the cap and gown, before singing the alma mater, before the diploma, seniors at Miami Lakes Educational center must complete their Capstone Presentation, the culmination of three years of journalism education comes together at the end of the student’s’ senior year as they deliver their presentations to a panel […]

via Another Year of Successful Capstones for Miami Lakes Educational Center’s Journalism Seniors — The Harbinger

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Water Warning: South Florida is Drying Up, so Watch Your Water Wastage

Recently, the South Florida Water Management District issued a water usage warning affecting all 8.1 million people who inhabit the area spanning from Orlando to Key West. The warning comes after an unusually dry season which is expected to  last through June 1. More austere restrictions may follow if the dryness continues.

This dry season began around Nov. 1, leaving South Florida significantly more dry than previous years. During winter, the area only received 44 percent of its normal seasonal rainfall, about 6.75 inches less than the average. Temperatures are expected to rise as well, with forecasters projecting a 40 to 50 percent chance of temperatures above normal for the next three months.

Still, the warning is not meant to alarm residents, rather make them aware. Those who live in the area are asked  to be mindful of their water usage this season and try to conserve it as much as possible.

“The purpose of this warning is to urge South Florida families to voluntarily conserve more water,” said Dan O’Keefe, chairman of the South Florida Water Management District governing board. “This effort will help your water supply last through the remainder of the dry season.”

 In order to most effectively comply with the warning, residents may visit sfwmd.gov to find the seasonal and year-round water restrictions for all 16 counties in the district. Compliance with current county water restrictions is being heavily enforced— in certain areas, like Broward, violators may incur a fine of up to $250.

“We are asking residents to take it pretty seriously,” said Pete Kwiatkowski, water shortage manager.

According to Kwiatkowski, the last time the South Florida Water District issued a water warning was in 2011.

As of now, the dry spell has resulted in  significant consequences for Florida. According to the most recent drought data collected by CBS 4, about 34 percent of the state is suffering from severe drought conditions.

Other natural effects include decreased water levels in Florida’s back-up water supply, Lake Okeechobee, whose current 12 foot water level is one foot below the average for this time of year.

Additionally, wildfires that flared up due to the dry conditions caused Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency. Florida wildfires have already caused the loss of 250 percent more acreage of land in the past three months than has been seen during the same time in previous years, leading the water department to temporarily ban open burning on their lands, including those for recreational use in Hendry, Glades, Okeechobee, Osceola and Polk counties.

Residential cooperation from now into the foreseeable future has been deemed crucial in determining the extent of the drought conditions and water restrictions.

Alan Garcia, director of Broward County Water and Wastewater Services, states: “This is the dry time, and we do need to conserve water.”

19 reported dead, 50 injured in Manchester explosions

A Series of Fortuitous Events

At least 19 are confirmed dead along with 50 others injured as a result of a bombing in Manchester Arena in England where Ariana Grande was performing on Monday night, according to the Greater Manchester Police.

Hundreds of traumatized fans fled the scene, many of them children.

The incident, which occurred before 10:35 pm, is being treated as a terrorist attack until proven otherwise, Manchester police said through twitter. Investigators are considering the possibility that the explosion may have in fact been a suicide bombing, according to a Western and US law enforcement official.

The incident took place as people were leaving the concert, taking place outside the venue in public space.

Social media broadcasted the commotion and panic within the arena. Ivo Delgado, a witness, told CNN that he had heard an explosion as the concert was ending. He also reported seeing smoke within the main corridor.

Josh Elliott…

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Youth: It’s Not as Blissful as it Once Was

Never has the generational divide been more clear than in these rapidly changing times. While youths continue to adapt to each new innovation, it seems that our elders are stuck in the past.

Through outdated lenses, elders cast glowering looks at the new generation because of the perceived notion that we just don’t have it as tough. What the elders can’t see is that being born in an era of groundbreaking technology and constant communication, doesn’t mean we have it easy.

Technology doesn’t bring the world to our fingertips, we reach out and grab it. Day after day, we tirelessly chase any opportunity that will give us even the slightest chance to make better lives for ourselves. We are so often perceived as a generation of lazy, self-absorbed, technology-obsessed, ignorant individuals, when the truth is that we are the most hard working teenagers of all.

Our primary burden is both a blessing and a curse: education. We have been told that education is the one tool that will take us anywhere we want to go in the world, so we strive to better ourselves through education every day.

But it’s hard. The education system changes more and more with each passing year, so the already gaping chasm between the standard of education of older generations and our own is one that is ever widening. There is simply no way for them to possibly understand the extent of what is required of today’s students and how much pressure is placed on us.

Today’s teens are expected to create a balance between things that are so disproportionately out of balance. We are somehow expected to balance schoolwork with taking care of household responsibilities, going to work, participating in extracurriculars, giving back to the community, and getting enough sleep, but there simply aren’t enough hours in a day.

It is impossible to do everything else that’s expected of us in addition to our schoolwork when, after we spend most of the day at school, we have to go home and spend more of our time on hours of homework. No balance can be found between all that is required of us, so some things have to be sacrificed.

Usually those sacrifices are food, sleep, and mental stability. It seems that there are no other options. Everything else is a requirement for us to not disappoint our parents, get through high school, and have even a decent chance of getting into a good college, so the choice is simple.

According to a 2013 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, teens in the U.S. experience unhealthy levels of stress, above that of adults. On a 10-point scale, teens reported an average level of 5.8 (as opposed to the healthy 3.9) and adults were almost an entire level lower at 5.1. Even during the summer, teen stress, reportedly a level 4.6, exceeds the healthy level.

This stress negatively impacts other aspects of our lives and we don’t even realize it. Despite reports of having skipped meals at least once (23 percent, of those, 39 percent say weekly or more) or feeling overwhelmed (31 percent), depressed (30 percent), and fatigued (36 percent) due to stress, 52 percent of teens report stress having slight or no impact on their mental health (versus adults’ 43 percent) and 54 percent say the same about their physical health (versus adults’ 39).

“It is alarming that the teen stress experience is so similar to that of adults. It is even more concerning that they seem to underestimate the potential impact that stress has on their physical and mental health,” says Norman B. Anderson, PhD, American Psychology Association CEO and Executive Vice President.

It is alarming indeed. We are downplaying the effects of stress on our overall health because we see elevated stress levels as just another part of our lives. We have to deal with stress and miss meals and lose sleep to get through high school, because graduating and going to college is a must.

But getting into college is becoming increasingly more difficult too. According to U.S. News reports, the average acceptance rate of the top 10 national universities is 17.3 percent. This already low rate has dropped in recent years: the average was 8.5 percent in 2016 and 8.2 percent in 2017.

So top universities are accepting less than 10 percent of their applicants, but even if we’re not reaching for the top, getting admitted is a challenge. State public universities’ admission rates are dropping as well, some accepting fewer than 30 percent of applicants.

Part of this is due to the growth in number of applicants as high school graduation rates rise and more students look to go to college because of increased demand for degrees in the workforce. However, it is also largely due to the universities which, according to college experts, fail to increase class sizes to accommodate applicants because the excess demand fuels prestige.

After the struggle to get into good colleges and universities, another problem arises before classes begin: tuition. The price index of college tuition rose almost 80 percent between August 2003 and August 2013, according to data from the Labor Department. The price of textbooks increased about the same amount during that period as well.

And though the rate at which tuition costs rise has slowed, they are still rising much faster than median household income. The median household income decreased for a majority of the years between the period studied, and has only risen slightly since then.

So, before our elders cast judging looks, they should take a look at the facts. The fact is that the world is changing into one that is continuously more difficult to succeed in.

As teenagers, we are feeling the pressures of succeeding in this world and working hard to overcome the obstacles in the way of success. At the consequence of our physical and mental health, we are fighting a constant battle to make something of ourselves. Considering this type of dedication and strength, it’s clear that we are far from lazy.

Minority Christian Governor of Jakarta Jailed for Blasphemy

After a controversial statement in his mayoral campaign, Christian Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has been sentenced to two years in prison for blaspheming the Quran.

A conservative group reported Ahok to the authorities and others have been protesting for the past six months; however, the ruling comes as a shock as protesters only requested two years on probation.

Still, crowds outside of the courthouse rejoiced as “the judge has upheld justice” and is doing God’s work.

Ahok’s lawyer is seeking an appeal, though it is not clear whether Ahok will be released in the event of one.

It is understood that when living in a theocracy there are restrictions and citizens should abide by religious laws or move to a different country, but I still feel that measures like these are too extreme.

It shouldn’t matter whether or not a person believes in any religion, state recognized or not. The rights to freedom of speech and religion are inalienable for all people, and that should be respected in areas beyond America and the rest of the Western world.

 

In Miami

By Sabine Joseph

In Miami,

Music courses through the streets like blood runs through veins.

It flows through its people, fueling them to create

Art that decorates every wall and amazes every passerby.

My own eyes can barely believe what they see before me.

I stand in the midst of such a beautiful city and thank God for what He created.

Pro-immigrant Protestors Converse With Border Patrol Officers

Peaceful pro-immigrant protesters wielding signs with slogans such as “No human is illegal” and “Keep families together,” gathered outside of the Border Patrol station in California on Monday.

After protesting for an hour and a half, officials went outside to speak to the protesters. “I have no illusions that when we leave here we are probably not going to agree on everything, and that’s fine,” said Special Agent David Kim in an interview with USA Today. “At least we can exchange ideas.”

This protest is probably the best example of exercising our First Amendment right that I’ve heard. The protesters assembled to make their point and there was no violence outbreak from protesters or law enforcement.

The fact that they even conversed with each other makes it better because the exchange of ideas can at least give each side an understanding of the other, even if they don’t agree and the protesters grievances aren’t addressed.

More protests should be this peaceful because if people are rallying against people who are violent, oppressive, or otherwise morally wrong, they should do so without succumbing to the same violence they are fighting against.

The Greatest Story I’ve Never Read

By Sabine Joseph

Miami:

For so long I’ve claimed

That it’s where I was born and raised,

But only recently did I realize

That’s a lie.

 

Well, not a lie really,

A half truth.

I was born there,

But raised almost everywhere else.

Some cities had “Miami” in the name,

Others didn’t,

But none could truly be called

Miami.

 

Yet, somehow I still feel that

Miami is home.

No matter where I go,

I will never have left.

I have yet to see the world,

Yet I’m sure there’s nowhere else like it.

 

Miami is like my favorite book

That I’ve never opened.

Written in its history and people is

A beautiful story

That I’ve never fully experienced.

It was a birthday gift from years ago,

But to this day I’ve only read the jacket.

 

From the cover alone,

I’ve fallen in love with the novel.

I long to crack it open

And lose myself in its pages.

Dive. (Part 2)

This poem is based on a quote from my last post.

Dive.

I’m standing on the edge of a new life,

My feet buried in the smooth sand below me:

It’s soft, comfortable, familiar to the touch

In front of me is the sea⏤

Vast, cold, and unforgiving

 

The sky above is blue,

Calm in the midst of chaos

I inch closer to the edge,

My breath hitches at the sudden touch of cold water;

I inch back

Fear is caught in my throat

Like a menacing manifestation of the sand below

Scratching, burning, making it hard to breathe

 

The tide subsides, the sand dissolves,

I breathe

A deep, shaking breath

I have only moments before the tide comes again,

I must make a choice

 

Do I stay on the shore:

Safe, secure, and stuck in the same life

Or do I leap into the water:

The dark, deep unknown

To transform into a new version of myself

 

The water is rushing back to shore,

I’ve made my choice.

I do not inch in either direction

For it is useless

I’ve chosen the water

And I cannot come to it slowly

The only thing to do is

Dive.

Dive.

I was watching Supergirl when Cat Grant (arguably my favorite character), played by Calista Flockhart, gave our heroine some words of wisdom. Ms. Grant is a strong-minded character who always doles out good advice, but this time her words stuck with me.

Dive.  You are standing on the shore, afraid to dive into new waters.  And you’re afraid because you don’t want to say goodbye . . . Now you are standing there, looking out at your options.  The icy blue water, the fast flowing river, or the choppy blue sea.  And they all look very appealing to you because you’re dying to go for a swim.  But you know the water is going to be cold and the journey is going to be hard.  And when you reach the other side you will have become a new person, and you are scared to meet that new version of yourself.  Now, we all get used to our own personas and used to our own comfort zones.  But trust me, in order to live we must keep daring.  Keep diving.

Cat Grant, ‘Supergirl’, 2×1 “The Adventures of Supergirl”

I think the sensory language is what got to meI could see myself standing on a shore contemplating my choices; feel the fear in my throat as I edged closer to the water, inching ever nearer to a new life and a new me; feel icy daggers in my skin after I finally took the plunge into the cold, deep waters of the unknown. It was a situation I’d been in before, though at the time I never thought much of it.

As she spoke, I realized that I have been many different people in my short lifetime; I’m not even the same person today as I was yesterday. I know that the reason for this is the experiences I’ve had and the choices I’ve made. I’ve been at the edge of the water so many times: sometimes I was at the edge of  a puddle that I’d happily stomp and splash in, and other times I’d stand before a vast ocean, terrified of who I’d be when I reached the shore on the other side.

What I learned as I listened was that I can’t let the fear of who I may become consume me. I can’t stand still at a crossroads and I can’t sit by the edge of the oceanI have to make a choice. The path I chose or the plunge I take may frighten melife-altering decisions often dobut nothing, not fear nor any other force, can alter the fact that the decisions must be made in order to live life.