The media has flipped our high school upside down. They’re making it seem that Martin Luther King High is the worst school in New York city. I’m sure every school in New York has had problems. Our school, Martin Luther King High has had a couple of incidents recently. However the media took it over board just so they could get a good story to get their ratings up and make money off their newspapers.
The media hype has destroyed our school. Kids in our school think they’re big and bad because they think if anything happens they just could go to the media and get protection. The students can’t even concentrate on their work because everyone is talking about what happened and what didn’t happen. The media is also putting a lot of attention on school safety.
The security personnel work hard every day, quickly responding to every incident. They don’t really have to do this line of work! I’ve been a student at Martin Luther King for three and a half years now and it is nothing like the media is saying. I say the school safety has built a bond with the students here at Martin Luther King telling them what is right from wrong and telling the students how life is hard. They tell us that getting an education is the right thing to do.
Sometimes, students at King would not feel comfortable to talk to a dean or a teacher. The students feel that they have to speak to someone that has gone through the same things in their lives. They feel more comfortable talking with the safety officers.
That’s why I, a student at Martin Luther King High, and a reporter from HarlemLive, decided to do this, so everyone can see the real Martin Luther King High from the students’ and teachers’ point of view.
Starting out in a new school could be a trying experience for anyone. People usually find one outlet or another to help them adjust to the transition. When I started out at the High School for Health Professions and Human Services (H.P.H.S.), that outlet was sports. At my school, like many others, the athletic program is one of the first things you hear about when you enter high school. Deciding to play sports was probably one of the smartest decisions that I ever made. Not only am I doing something that may help me in the future, specifically college, I was able to meet people that I might not have otherwise, including two of my best friends (also Lady Vipers).
Now participating in the athletic program at Health Professions is not all about fraternizing. Much is expected on your behalf. In addition to conducting in a manner that is considered becoming for a student-athlete, you must remember that is just what you are, a student-athlete. Your grades come before anything else. You could be looked upon as the next Allen Iverson, Barry Bonds or Sheryl Swoops. Yet, if your academics aren’t in order, you won’t even get the chance to warm the bench. When you are on the team and your grades drop, I can assure you that you will be severely reprimanded by your coach. I had to find this out the hard way. Don’t get me wrong, even though you will receive a stern talking to by your coach, they are incredibly supportive. I know my basketball coach (who serves as the athletic director at my school), Mr. Benerofe, is the first person to come to your aid if you need help with schoolwork. In my opinion he’s the best coach anyone could ask for, he’s there for us whenever we need him. Conduct, a major factor in the profile of a student-athlete at H.P.H.S, is also important. If you are unable to uphold yourself in a way that is suitable for a Viper/ Lady Viper, “riding the pine” may not even be an option for you.
Whether you decide to play volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball, softball or run track, you should make sure that you have your priorities in check when looking to become a Viper. An extraordinary amount of time and dedication is involved. Sometimes it means giving up weekends and vacations to practice if necessary. But trust me its worth it. If you’re willing to devote yourself to the game and all of the sacrifices and responsibilities that are associated with it, grades and such, then the athletic program at H.P.H.S may be for you. If not, then I would suggest another activity but due to the lack of student activities at Health your other options are student government, school leadership team and a few scattered undertakings which all have high requirements.
Passion is a bold bastard. Beliefs are even worse. Oh just FORGET about “Innovation” or “Creativity.” They’re all evil. They’re all audacious bastards intent on grabbing hold of the human heart, forcing it to beat deeper and even stronger with each enduring pulse. Yeah that’s it– a bunch of instigators with the NERVE to inspire young NYC teens into believing that they actually have a legitimate place and power in this world. Passion, Innovation, Creativity, and Beliefs. What IS this? Who gave THEM the right to motivate and empower young people to yearnfor growth? YEARNING for growth? This is outrageous. Those bastards!
Well…sorry to tell you, but here at HarlemLive, we believe in that bastard. We embrace the strength of having a passionate belief system, we grow through innovation, and we ARE creativity. WE ARE HARLEMLIVE; the hottest online youth magazine, created, edited, and produced by teens of NYC.
With that said, it’s only obvious and inevitable for us to include those very facets — passion, innovation, creativity, and a strong belief system — into our everyday production. Constant inspiration and motivation is integral to our business of creative play. Stagnant-ism is unattractive to the long term philosophy of HarlemLive’s future. We are prolific. We are maturing. This upsurge of growth is within us all. Therefore, it’s only NATURAL for us to want to progress, grow, and elevate to “The next level.”
That next level…is here. HarlemLive is going VIRTUAL…almost. In previous years, HarlemLive has met and produced out of a small … but manageable space inside of 1330 5th avenue [W. 111th St.] in Harlem. The space wasn’t horribly difficult to work with; you could take a short-winded stretch here and there…maybe inhale a few oxygen molecules without coughing…it was…manageable. However recently, HarlemLive, an Internetpublication, has been relocated into a completely different space — drastically confined and equipped with limited and/or nonexistent Internet access. This is an INTERNET publication; the pure logic is dwindling.
As a multi-award winning news publication, HarlemLive’s resources are commonly overestimated. We’re assumed to have the of any resource deemed logically fit for a publication of our caliber, but that is but only…an assumption. Our resources are quite limited as we’ve become masters of squeezing $1.50 out of a dollar. Ironically, HarlemLive has accomplished more than what many other organizations with less of a limited resource, only dream of doing.
Now dream this. A designated time, place, and world where every staff member of HarlemLive delves into the surreal, conjuring up the very essence of radical creativity and innovation, fueled by the active exchange of inspiration and ideas faster than the speed of DSL. A virtual world where all of us here at HarlemLive get together to sculpt, build, and improve the quality of HarlemLive.org, the Internet publication that we’re all so dedicated to bringing onto the bright computer screens of our readers. As opposed to getting into futile tuffs over square tiles or issues of drastically confined space, HarlemLive is flying into the unconfined. We are now bringing you this online youth magazine from designated bases all over New York City–our homes. That’s versatility.
We’ll be producing, editing, creating, laughing, and learning online. Designated staff members have been sent home with HarlemLive equipment, ranging from MAC PCs, IBooks, to digital cameras, conditioned to only two things: creativity and responsibility. A goal for everyone included in this new “Digital Dash” project is to equip every HarlemLive student with DSL Internet. Students are allowed to maintain the equipment as long as they continue to assertively put forth effort into the HarlemLive program, attend meetings, go on stories, and so on. In any event that a HarlemLive staff member refuses or fails to keep up with their part of the “Digital Dash,” equipment is reclaimed, followed by a pending suspension until further notice. But who would want to do that anyway? This is literally, a VIRTUAL REALITY, with staff members who will combine minds and equipment, both online and offline, fundamentally networking at the speed of light…all the while being granted the simple yet powerful freedom to do whatever it is they deem fit for HarlemLive production and growth. This is too good.The “completely different space” that HarlemLive has been relocated to, will now be used as storage space for library books, or a small conference room in any case that students need to meet on a more personalized one-to-one basis.
The mere focus and concentration that goes into work when it’s accompanied by a minimized level of distraction, is enough to propel HarlemLive to even greater heights of success. The usual environment of HarlemLive is similar to any newsroom; there’s constant motion, action, and talking going on. We’re teenagers; there’s even the idle chat factor that can slow down production. Not anymore. Upon entering the “virtual reality” world that we’re now creating amongst ourselves, chatting is done…with a purpose. You’re scheduling, you’re producing, you’re directing, you’re learning, you’re growing. This is HOT!
So yeah…ok…I’ll admit it. As much as we can’t stand those bastards — passion, innovation, creativity, and beliefs — we’re using them, and holding them tightly as the thread to our foundation. As a disregard for futile quarrels over insufficient “space,” we’re innovatively creating an unlimited space, a space that cannot be minimized because it is infinite. Essentially, it is a space within the mind… a precious, warm, and exorbitant area of existence where only your own inhibitions or lack of motivation can hinder your progression. It’s from deep within this space that we plan to bring you an even better HarlemLive, packed with better content, faster production, and a new sense of focus and direction that we’ve yet to show you. So when you notice a difference…that’s why. It’s because of those damn bastards…those instigators…infiltrating our minds and hearts, with the audacity and boldness to inspire, motivate, and pull us to become an even better HarlemLive than we’ve ever been before. So yeah we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves. Damnit!!! We have the NERVE to be free. Passion is a bold bastard.
It’s not often one gets to enter a high security prison only to get out hours later. That’s what HarlemLive did recently when we went to present our program to some all male high school classes at Rikers Island in New York City.
HarlemLive has traveled around the globe showing other communities the power of the web in creating outlets for expression and the journalism process which expands the youth’s view of their world. For the last five years, HarlemLive has provided a teen centered program unprecedented in New York City. Our young people have traveled to Sweden, Rome, and Washington, DC to accept awards for their success at producing a domestic and international award winning state-of-the-art news and cultural web magazine
What made this visit a surprise to us is that we bumped into a couple people we knew.
While we sat in the principal’s office, many of the guys were filing past on their way to lunch. Through the window to the hallway, one 18 year old teen did a double take as he recognized HarlemLive teen spokesperson, Melvin Johnson. Both grew up in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx. He was incarcerated for being present at the scene of a gang assault.
The incarceration has changed his attitude about wanting to stay in gangs. What really hit him was his younger brother asking when he was, “going to grow up and start being a real older brother,” who could serve as a role model to his younger siblings.
After chatting with the young inmate, we got a chance to speak to the principal, Frank Dody. Dody came to work many years ago as a one year stint but stayed on seeing how much in need the teens were of caring adults. There are 10 prisons on Rikers Island housing up to 17,000 inmates. Of the 10, there are 4 that house adolescents and teens. HarlemLive was visiting the Adolescent Reception and Detention Center (ARDC). It houses adolescents who have yet to be sentenced. “They could be here for a day or several months,” said Mr. Dody.
At the ARDC, most of the teens that are not deemed to be dangerous to the others live in large dorm areas that sleep 50 inmates with individual cots separated by a small locker. There is at least one fight a day, usually about “who’s in charge”, among the youth.
In the classrooms, there are 15 male students to a class. We noticed that the teachers were all male but that many of the security guards in the halls were female. Our visit stirred some excitement as Melvin Johnson, Danya Steele, and Justin Young walked through the halls to the first of three classes.
Pressed against one of the plexiglass windows that allowed the guards to peer into the classrooms was a young teen. It was a teen who was part of the Urban Youth Bike Corp, with whom HL has collaborated. While most alumni of the UYBC are now attending college, this young man chose a different path and was convicted for two armed robberies.
The prison personnel allowed the teen to attend some of the classes with the HarlemLive editors as they made their presentations. He was even able to speak to the director of the UYBC by using HL’s cell phone. It seemed our visit and the fact he knew us helped increase his stature with his fellow classmates and teachers.
We spoke to the teens about HarlemLive possibly working with the teachers and providing an outlet for them to publish their poetry, stories and artwork. Melvin spoke of how his life changed once he chose to work with HarlemLive, a choice that lead to an increase in his skills and self esteem and away from the scene on the streets. Some of the teens acted in the normal classroom atmosphere of “let’s perform for the visitors” while many of the other teens seemed to be extremely quiet and reserved.
We’re hoping that our message made it to at least one teen and that they find a program or place where they can find their niche in life, where they’ll know they can be a valued and productive member in their community, and aybe even a “real older brother,” to their siblings and friends.
In the heart of Harlem, on the third floor of a building on 125th street, work is being done. I look to my left, and see a member of HarlemLIVE diligently working, balancing a laptop on his lap as he creates a PowerPoint presentation on the desktop in front of him. I look to my right, and see a HarlemLIVE reporter editing her interviews with the aid of a seasoned reporter and cameraman. The aura of exertion, of creativity, of learning in itself, is ever-present as journalists work to meet their deadlines, cameramen work to edit their video, and everyone thinks of new topics to interest their readers. At HarlemLIVE, we see adolescents think and act like adults. Instead of aimlessly roaming the streets, teenagers have a chance to develop, enhance, and hone their skills. Is it fair – is it moral? – To take this opportunity, this chance for growth, away from Harlem teenagers because of a minor insignificance in the aesthetics of our building? HarlemLIVE employees work hard. Why should we be stopped from working, from bettering ourselves and our communities, because of a hole outside our working area? This hole does not jeopardize our safety; this hole does not disturb us; it never crossed our minds until we were told that we couldn’t work here because of it. By telling us that we can’t work at HarlemLIVE, you are, in essence, depriving us of, possibly, one of the greatest experiences of our lives. You are sending us back to the streets; showing us a glimpse of what could be, then slamming the door of opportunity in our faces.
The HarlemLIVE employees that you are attempting to release from the program are putting up a fight. Have you wondered why? Have you wondered why we don’t want to leave? Could it be possible that we want more than a paycheck this summer? We want to stay because we found something more than a job. We found an experience . . . a place where we can do what we like, where we learn and are encouraged to learn, where we learn to grow up and take responsibility. To take HarlemLIVE away from us is an action that should rest on your conscience, because you’re taking away from us the contentment and familial feel that are present . . . . the essence of HarlemLIVE.
I have been in HarlemLive for nearly two years. But before this summer, I had no idea what the real responsibility meant. Being a group leader can be the hardest job on earth; especially when the success of your whole group depends on your performance. Let me give you a little a short tour of a group leader’s one day life in HarlemLive. Yeah…… It’s just a short tour….
I bet that everyone has thought of what they are doing or where they are going to. Well, that is one of the daily jobs of mine and I want to say that it also should be one of the practices that a group leader should possess. A group leader should most of the time be thinking about something that pertains to the success of his group.
Ideas are not hard to come up with, the hard part is to turn those ideas into stories and ask your group to actually go out and make those ideas come true. The whole group will have a meeting and everyone will be throwing ideas at each other and it will seem like the meeting was a success. Everyone including the leader learned something new after the meeting and believe that the group members will try hard to turn the ideas into actual stories. Well, you see…., only fairy tales end with a happy ending.
Most of the problems start from the fact that not all of the people are motivated. So even an experienced group leader “MUST” have Plan B because there is a possibility that something might go wrong such as one of the group members not making an important phone call, missing a scheduled story, or just sitting on a chair and staring at a computer screen Instant Messaging their friends.
My strategy to overcome those difficulties is to actually do some of the scheduling on my own and be ready with a story on days when there are no stories. I always keep track of what my group members are doing. Stories are important in an organization such as HarlemLive, but not all the members in my groups are writers or reporters. What I do is keep them busy with the work they are interested in. If someone likes to edit video. If someone likes mopping, well, that’s what they will to do.
Since there are a lot of things going on and there are not enough people to cover all the necessities, I have to assign each person to take care of two different types of jobs such as a writer might take a journalism class or photography workshops. This put a certain amount of pressure on some group members especially when they are new. About 90% of the staff in HarlemLive for this year’s Summer Program are new. There is the trouble there. Some people think that taking care of two things is hard and some think that having two stories on one day is a lot. Well, what can you say? You are the group leader; you have to listen to your group because those are the people that make you the group leader.
There are times when I feel like a lot of the things that I planned are not going as well as they should be. Managing a group is like a rubber band. If you pull it too hard, it will snap. If you don’t pull hard enough, you will it will not stretch as far as you would like it. You really have to understand people. A good group is the group where all the team members work together and know what they are doing. This will not guarantee that the group will have the most rewards because any group can reach its goals just by depending on a couple of good and hardworking people in the group.
That is not what I expect from my group. So I try to teach my group to work together. And trust me, that is really hard because you are trying to combine a bunch of minds asking them to reach a certain destination. Everyone wants to choose his own path.
Most of my hardest moments as being a leader is when my group members do not do things right. It is hard to keep track of what everybody is doing every time. When I don’t know what someone is doing, it is hard for me to plan ahead. Trying to find out what is going on in the group and planning ahead is really challenging for me, especially when things do go as I had expected. Finding right people for the right work is a hard thing for me. However, I’m happy with my position because you have a chance to learn and interact with people. They report to you what is happening and they share their ideas with you which I believe is a great thing. Even though sometimes I feel like there is a big rock on my shoulder, that feeling disappears when I see my group members working.