This week, our school took part in the walkout for the 17 victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. All of us stood outside and walked around the school in silence for 17 minutes. Taking part in this was the highlight of my week. I felt really proud and happy, especially for the teachers. I could tell that this moment meant a lot to them. It was a very emotional moment for me. When some of my friends were really emotional and cried a little bit, I realized that this wasn’t just some walkout, it was a very important moment in history.
This week, we also worked on the background for our stencil portraits. Our group was the first one to get the wood boards since we had already all of our cutouts done a week before. For mine, I used yellow, pink, and red magazine cutouts. To emphasize the idea of feminism and body image, I added empowering words and I cut out the face of every body I used in order to send a message. I’m very excited to put a stencil on top already. I really wish that we were doing a stencil of our face instead of a stranger.
The interview for my social advocate didn’t really work out. It was really hard for me to find a social advocate for body image, but once I did I was really happy. It all went downhill when she couldn’t come to school to do the interview because she went on vacation, so I’m going to do it through email. I really wished I could’ve done it in person.
This week was very hard for me since I was absent one day, and left early on another day. I am very sad because I missed the woman’s walkout on Thursday, but I am very proud of High Tech for making it happen. On Saturday, March 10, I took my first SAT. I was very nervous because I didn’t feel prepared, but once I got there, I knew it was going to be OK. It felt like a very long and slow process that was never going to end. I remember finishing the english section and when I looked around, I saw people still working on it. I felt like I didn’t do a very good job since I finished very fast, and it is still something that I am very worried about. During the essay section, I felt extremely confused and stuck. When we practiced writing the essays in class, I thought they were pretty straightforward and easy. They all included different strategies, while the actual one didn’t. It was very hard for me to spot them and that made me feel very insecure and scared. When it was all over, I felt a sense of calm. All the stress I had from the SAT had gone away, but I know it’ll come back when I receive my score.
This week, was honestly full of ups and downs. I was having one of those weeks where I can’t focus on anything and I didn’t feel motivated at all because I had my mind on other things going on in my life. Going to UCSD was a nice way for me to clear my mind. Before getting there, I was expecting the college to look different. I was actually surprised because I kind of digged it. Everyone didn’t really like the school, but I could see myself going there, plus it’s close to home. We went to Geisel, the library. The building looked really cool from the outside. I was really surprised about how it looked from the inside. Specially the 7th floor. It was super quiet and everyone was studying. I loved it. From there, we went to Dr. Kauffman’s lab. We did three workshops, but out of the three, cutting the brain of a mice with a cryostat was the one that was the most fun. I had never seen a mice’s brain before, so it was amazing looking at it, and cutting it. The workshop that I feel like I learned the most with, was looking at Kisspeptin on male and female brains on the microscope. We were supposed to look at two of them and see if we could guess which was the male or which one was the female brain. I’m really glad we got to do these workshops in a real lab because it broke so many taboos that I had, and I got to learn so much.
This week, we worked on creating our first and second drafts for our zine covers. The first draft was due on Monday and we critiqued it. I can confidently say that this was the first group critique that actually helped me. We all gave each other cool and warm feedback in order to make our second draft better. While we were in the group, we talked about what we wanted our zine to look like. We finally agreed on making a photography zine. We made a pinterest board together in which all of us added images that we could recreate. We’re actually planning on hanging out after school at someone’s house to take pictures. We also agreed on making it simple, but with strong words that would get our message across.
We had our second draft done by Thursday. Two ladies from MCASD came to give us critique on our zines. As a group, we had to create a google slides with our first and second draft. Most groups presented on Thursday, but since we ran out of time, we had to present on Friday. I actually wasn’t feeling well, and I was going to be absent that day, but I really wanted to get critique on my second draft by professionals. I have to admit that it was kind of rough at first because I worked so hard on it, but in the end it was worth it.
After going through all of this critique, I realized how important this project is. My group’s topic is feminism, and we have to take this very seriously. I’m really glad I’m being an advocate for this social justice topic.
The moment I got in the bus I knew it was going to be hell. Not because I don’t like my classmates, but because when I don’t sleep for eight hours straight, I get cranky and in a very, very bad mood. As I sat down next to my friend Annanicole, I knew I was screwed. All I wanted to do was sleep, and all she wanted to do was party. We started having a normal conversation when she took out a little red bag, her guy friend had given it to her. We were both so excited when opening it, not only because it was super cute, but because there was candy in it. We ate most of it and I instantly regretted it. We were both really hyper, we were in a sugar high. About thirty minutes went by, when we were both asleep.
A few hours later, we had arrived to Berkeley, our first university! At first, I was a bit cranky, but then as the tour started, everything changed. It was such a big school, I loved it. I loved how they had their own little inside jokes, from “Berkeley hours” to “Don’t step on the seal or you’ll fail your first semester!”
After this trip, I know I want to go to a university. I just don’t know which one. The university that we visited and loved was UC Santa Cruz. It was beautiful. In all of the universities we visited, I could only picture myself attending Santa Cruz and Cal Poly. In UC Santa Cruz, I know I would be successful. I could basically create my own major and feel very comfortable with my surroundings. Cal Poly was small and reminded me of High Tech. I love how their saying is “Learning by doing” just like High Tech. I know if I went here, I would be successful. UC Santa Cruz is beautiful, but since Cal Poly is closer to home, I think Cal Poly is now my #1 choice.
This week, we learned more about the teenage brain, specifically, brain plasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change throughout life. I thought this was pretty cool, this is something that I didn’t know could happen, I hadn’t even thought about this.
Another thing we did in class was taking visual notes of two videos, Sentis Brain Animation Series and The power of believing that you can improve. The second video is the one that really stuck out for me. It was about growth mindset. This is something that was taught to be in 9th grade my Mr. I, my math teacher. I remember being so confused the first day of high school because it was totally different that my old school. Growth mindset is a topic that I hadn’t revisited since freshman year, so it was really nice learning more about it in junior year.
Lastly, we did out social topic presentations. I think it was so amazing how I was able to learn more about things that are happening around in our community. I think it was even more amazing how I was able to learn more about what my classmates are interested in, and why they’re so passionate about it. I’m glad I got to listen to their presentations because it made me understand them more, and in a way, I feel closer to them. I really feel like we’re becoming a team now.
This week, we learned many cool things about the brain, and read many interesting articles (yes, again!) This week, Dr. Kauffman came into our classroom and gave us a lecture about the brain and how it is structured and acts different in males and females. It really stood out so me how as females, we are more likely to suffer from stress and depression. This made me think, can this stress and depression be related to how society puts more pressure on women. For example, having kids, the way we look, our families, etc. I was going to ask this during our Q/A but I was scared of sounding kind of foolish. Speaking up is something that is very hard for me, and I’m still working on it. I have many unanswered questions, and that’s only because of my insecurities.
This week, we also did visual note taking. Basically, this is taking notes while listening or watching a video. At first, this is something I struggled with because I’m not really an artistic person that enjoys drawing, but as time goes by, I’ve gotten used to it. I actually kind of enjoy it now. We took notes on two videos, one of them being, “Why Are Teens So Moody?” Right away when I read the title, I knew it was going to be interesting. I knew this because it reminded me of my mom because she’s always asking, “Ay Melissa, why are you so moody?” The thought of her saying that made me laugh.
I feel like this week, I was able to relate many things to myself and wonder many things, which is something that I’m very proud of.
This week, we learned many things. From reading very hard articles, to some kind of easy to understand, to going to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD). In all honesty, reading the article Diving up the Brain because it was easy to read and I was happy I could understand so much. On Wednesday I showed my friends my annotations on the article, and they were surprised because I annotated so much. They were saying things like, “You actually liked reading it?, You wrote so much..” This reading helped me understand so much more about my brain, and about my The Power Within Story. I wish I had read this when I was writing my personal narrative. I was able to make greater connections and understand even more why the even that I wrote about affected me in the way it did. I’m kind of upset I didn’t read this article before because I know this could’ve made my biological connection stronger.
This week we also started our social topics. This is a project in which we’ll create zines advocating for a social justice topic. Right away I knew mine was going to be Body Image. This is not only a problem I’ve faced, but also the most important woman in my life, my mother. I am very passionate and excited to dig deeper in this project. I want to help my mother, friends, and many people this way.
This week, we learned about how the teenage brain works, specifically, how it reacts and why us as teens do the things we do. The frontal cortex is the part of the brain that is involved with problem solving,, memory, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior. It is also the last part of the brain to fully develop. This means that as teenagers, we’re not so good at problem solving, impulse control, judgement, and all of the purposes of the frontal cortex. We also learned about how the striatum is more active in teenagers than in adults. The striatum is the part of the brain that is involved with the reward system. Since this part is more active in our brain as teenagers, it causes more dopamine to be released when something good happens, making a reward really pleasing. As teens, we don’t usually make the right decisions because our brains are wired to maximize rewards and minimize threats. This means that we’re more likely to take a risk because we think that the reward is bigger than the threat. I feel like I was able to learn a lot about how the teen brain is wired when we read the article “Your Brain, excerpt from Brainstorm, the purpose and power of the teenage brain (2013)” because it gave a pretty relatable example for teens of a girl who drank alcohol. I was able to put this example to some risks that I’ve taken, and realized that I put more attention to the reward of my action, than the consequences. Going into next week, I want to read about more examples of when the brain maximizes a reward and minimizes a threat because I want to see how far a teenager’s brain can go.