Tuesday, 19 June 2018

An eighth grade girl starts receiving threatening notes in her locker and her backpack.

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Mary is an eighth grader and, until recently, pretty popular at school. Lately, she started finding notes in her locker and in her backpack that were really upsetting. The notes were unsigned and mean. They said things like: “ We don’t like how you’re treading on our territory.” “ You act like a slut.” And even, “ You better watch out because we’re watching you…”
Mary had no idea who might be sending the notes but she had an idea why. In the last few months she had started accepting invitations to high school parties. She had also fooled around with a couple of sophomore guys. She had a feeling that the notes were from some of the high school girls. She knew how gossip got around and how mean other people said the sophomore girls were.
What was she supposed to do? Almost every day this week she received a note. She felt angry, scared, and hurt. She showed the notes to two of her friends. One of them said that whoever is sending them was probably just jealous and she should just ignore them. The other friend said she should show them to a teacher.
Mary felt like there was no good choice. If she tried to ignore the notes she was afraid they would just continue, and she was not only scared, she was mad. She wanted them to stop. But if she turned in the notes, she was sure the whole school would find out and she would probably have to name names as to who she thought was sending them. If the gossip was bad now, wouldn’t’ it be worse then?
What should Mary do?

  • What do you think Mary should do?
  • Would you do the same thing?
  • What do you think would happen to someone in your school who was in Mary’s situation? (I.e. would she get backlash for hooking up with older guys? Would people gossip about her?)
  • How does gossip play a role in your school, in your community?
  • Have you ever been in a situation similar to Mary’s? How was it resolved?
  • Why do you think people gossip? Have you ever gossiped about someone? Why do you think you did?

Monday, 18 June 2018

A high school sophomore faces a family crisis when his alcoholic mum relapses into drinking.

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Chris was just about to finish his sophomore year and felt like his whole world was crashing in around him. His mum was a recovering alcoholic and had been sober for three years . . . until now.
When Chris was in  middle school his mum went through rehab. When she finally came home, Chris’s dad said he would leave her if she ever drank again. Everything seemed okay until his dad took a new job this year and had to travel a lot.
During that last few months, every time Chris’s dad left town his mum would drink. It was on the sly but Chris knew the signs. He saw the thermoses in the bathroom, the “water” bottles in her bedroom. It was like middle school all over again. It was like living in a nightmare.
The hardest part was trying to figure out what he was supposed to do. If he called her out on her drinking, his dad would probably leave all of them. If he didn’t do anything, something bad could happen to his mum. He was mad and hurt and lonely. He had friends he could talk to but what could they do? He felt like there wasn’t a single good choice to make.
What should Chris do?

  • What should Chris do?
  • What should he say to his Mum once something is decided?
  • What would you do in his situation?
  • Have you or someone you know ever faced a situation where he/she had an adult in his/her life that was doing something harmful or wrong?
  • What do you think is the hardest part of Chris’s dilemma?

Sunday, 17 June 2018

A stressed out honour student has plagiarised a term paper and been turned over to the school's honour council. She is pleading with the council not to report her violation to the Ivy League university she is applying to. What should the council do?

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Phoebe is a senior and president of the student body. Lately she is becoming more and more overwhelmed by her rigorous AP course load and college applications. She has been sick for the past month and has fallen behind in many of her classes. Her application to Brown University and her AP Art History paper are both due on Monday. It’s Sunday now. Phoebe makes a tough decision and plagiarises the entire section on Impressionism on her paper, finishes her application and goes to bed. On Monday, Phoebe turns in her paper.
By lunchtime, Phoebe’s AP Art History teacher had asked to see her. He quickly realized the fact that a large portion of her paper was plagiarized and confronts her about it. Phoebe bursts into tears and explains to him about all the pressures of being sick, taking five AP’s, playing three varsity sports and being president of the student body. Brown is her number one choice for college and she felt she had to make a choice.
Phoebe’s teacher turns her in to the school honour council. She is very remorseful and volunteers to give a speech to the student body apologising for what she has done. She also begs the honour council not to write to the colleges that she has applied to, as she has worked so hard throughout her high school career and is applying to the most competitive colleges and universities.
What should the honour council do?

  • If you were on the honour council what would your decision be in this case?
  • Does the fact that Phoebe is student body president affect your decision? In what way?
  • Do you think expectations should be higher for Phoebe based on her position in the school?
  • Have you ever known someone who cheated in some way but felt justified? Did you agree with this person?
  • Have you ever felt justified in cheating in school? What contributed to your feelings?
  • Would your decision be the same if you had known about the second student applying to Brown?
  • How would you explain to others the exception that was made for Phoebe if others were more severely punished?
  • Have any of you been in a class where you know someone who cheated and got a higher grade than you? What did you do? Would you do the same thing now?

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Stephanie was supposed to tell a certain guy that her good friend had a crush on him. Instead, Stephanie ended up hooking up with the guy, herself. And to make matters worse, she lied to her friend about it . Now things are spinning out of control. What's she supposed to do?

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Stephanie is in ninth grade and, until recently, felt pretty lucky. She had a good group of friends, was fairly popular, and was doing okay academically. The fall was hard because starting high school meant meeting a whole new group of people and teachers. Things were just beginning to get easier, and now she was in trouble.
Stephanie always thought of herself as a good friend but two weeks ago she found herself in a pretty big dilemma.  One of her good friends, Rebecca, had confided to her that she liked a guy in the sophomore class. Stephanie had offered to go talk to him for her. When Stephanie told the boy that Rebecca was interested in him, he told Stephanie he might be interested but also asked if Stephanie wanted to hang out that Saturday at a local party. It didn’t seem like that big a deal when Stephanie said yes, but on Saturday, she let things get carried away and the two hooked up. She didn’t even know why she did it. It just seemed really cool that he was into her and, quite frankly, she just wasn’t thinking.
To make matters worse, Rebecca came to her on Monday and asked if Stephanie knew anything about what was going on with this guy. She had heard that he had gotten together with someone else and Rebecca was upset. Stephanie knew she should just tell Rebecca the truth, but she didn’t want to lose her friendship. She wanted to find a way where Rebecca wouldn’t find out what happened and Stephanie wouldn’t lose any friends. She had to think fast. She panicked, and told Rebecca she had heard a rumor that he had hooked up with a certain other girl in their class.
Now, everything felt like it was spinning out of control. The boy wasn’t talking, but after Rebecca confronted the accused girl she wanted Rebecca to set up a meeting so she could talk to Stephanie. This was a mess. What was Stephanie supposed to do now?

  • What sort of person do you think Stephanie is?
  • What do you think she should do at this point?
  • Why do you think she made the choices she did?
  • Have you ever been in the same place as any of the four people in this dilemma? What happened? What did it feel like?
  • Have you or someone you know ever lied to a friend about someone you (or they might have been interested in?
  • Do you think girls handle conflict differently than guys? How? Why?

Friday, 15 June 2018

Moments in Time: 17 things you'll only remember if you were an MSN Messenger addict

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You can keep your WhatsApps and your Snapchats, your Facebook Messenger conversations and Twitter messages. We still want MSN Messenger back. Having launched back in 1999 MSN Messenger, the only means of contact for 90s and 00s teens, survived for 15 years before finally being killed off on this day, October 31, back in 2014.
MSN Messenger was the IM client to end all IM clients. It was bigger than AOL, the precursor to Skype and even more addictive than texts. It's generation-defining, like vinyl for the '70s child or Pokémon GO for, well, anyone around today. If you were born in the late '80s or early '90s you'll no doubt fondly remember MSN Messenger, and all these wonderful things that came with it.
It was no coincidence that MSN Messenger's powers peaked around the same time as the emo fad swung into action. The cause? The ability to set song lyrics as your status that topped every conversation and was proudly displayed to the world. Cue an unhealthy outpouring of teenage angst that often reflected your current emotional state. Like most things we did on Messenger, these lyrical statuses could also be used to send secret pining messages to your would-be bae.
MSN Messenger and text speak went together like Kenan and Kel. 'BRB', or 'Be right back' as it meant in long form was perhaps the abbreviation thrown down the most and one we want to see brought back into daily life. In reality, "BRB" meant one of three things – you needed a pee, you were about to be lectured by your mum for spending too much time on the computer, or you were done with that conversation and looking for an easy way out.
"Be right back" wasn't the only text shortcut that became a muscle memory reflex in the Messenger days. GTG (got to go) was its more final abbreviation shortcut cousin. Unlike BRB, GTG meant one of three very different things – you needed a poo, you were about to get a total bollocking for still being on the internet, or your dinner was ready. Which reminds us…. GTG.
Sod James Bond, I'm the real secret agent here, I'm actually online, but no-one knows it – mwahaha. The ability to switch your status to Appear Offline was a Messenger joy that let you avoid awkward conversations with those you wanted to avoid while still seeing who else was online – and dropping a select few mates covert messages explaining your supposedly errant ways. Sure, Messenger also let you set your status to In a Call or Out to Lunch, but you were 13, you were just too embarrassed to chat to that one you had that awkward kiss with.
This Appear Offline feature had another use too. You could game it to prompt your crush into talking with you. By quickly switching your status from Online to Appear Offline and back again would send a pop-up notification to all of your online contacts, including your crush. Now the waiting game as you sat, horny heart in mouth, as you hoped for them to message you. C'mon, admit it, you tried this… daily, right?
Messenger wasn't just about keeping a single conversation going, oh no. You often had a dozen conversation tabs on the go at once. This spelled problems though, namely writing the wrong things to the wrong people. Sometimes these were genuine accidents. ("Man, Lisa is such a bitch. Oh, sorry, Lisa, no, not you, a different Lisa, honest.") At others, it was a desperate way of getting your crush to notice you. ("Totally made out with Jenny the other day. Oh, sorry Michelle, wrong convo.") The genius mind games of a horny teenager.
When you were a teen, asking a crush for their phone number was the ultimate in nausea-inducing, sweat-causing, humiliation-guaranteeing apprehension. Asking for their MSN name, however, was perfectly acceptable and in no way implied how much you were secretly crushing on them. It was less invasive despite letting you talk to them more and get to know things – like their favourite songs – simply by snooping on their ever changing statuses.
You spent six hours a day with your mates at school, but would always quickly rush home after the final bell to talk to them online. Why? Well because you'd never managed to make plans for that evening's kickabout or general dossing about beyond the daily "meet you online at 4?" promise. This was the dawn of simple, speedy communication that your parents couldn't eavesdrop on.
Long before the Facebook 'Poke', there was the MSN Messenger 'Nudge', and boy was it annoying. Hitting the nudge button wouldn't just ping your mate an alert or gentle tone, instead it shook the whole sodding conversation window in dizzying fashion. When your mate refused to answer your message – even if they'd just nipped to the loo or were grabbing a drink – that was it, 27 Nudges were heading their way every ten seconds. It really was the most annoying feature going, but we'd love it back for those tardy WhatsApp repliers betrayed by the two blue ticks.
Emoji might now be the world's fastest growing language and a modern staple of every chat service, but back in the late '90s and early '00s they were a Messenger-introduced revelation. Doing the rounds under their far more formal name of emoticons, they quickly formed the bulk of your conversations and statuses, often transforming entire lines of chat into unintelligible hieroglyphics the Ancient Egyptians would have been proud of. If emoji weren't enough, you could throw down full page animated "winks" that took over the conversation with dancing pigs and gurning faces – that's the height of technology, people.
Further aiding this new found word-shunning emoji addiction, Messenger let you create your own shortcuts that would automatically drop the little images in. So "111" could become a smiley face and "lol" a laughing smiley. Fun, yes, but you could use it to wind up your mates too, waiting for them to nip off to the loo before gleefully setting the kissy lips emoji to automatically send every time they tried to throw a cool, nonchalant "Hey" to that one they fancied.
In the days before happy slaps and internet trolls, the biggest fear was chatting candidly to someone you liked on MSN Messenger only to realise that they had four of their mates sat around snickering at your teenage angst filled proclamations of affection. You wouldn't know straight away, but as soon as you found at, that was it, the pit in the stomach, the hot sweats, the "Muuuuuuuum, I'm too ill to go to school" efforts.
Oh, the shame. Believing someone was offline only to find out they'd just been chatting to your bezzie meant just one thing – you'd been blocked. While checking with a mate to see if a suspected blocker was actually online was embarrassing enough sign of self-indulgent paranoia, it had nothing on being added to a group chat with someone you'd just blocked.
O.M.EFFING.G!! Nothing could quite match the excitement of opening up a chat window to message your secret (not so secret, everyone knew) crush, only to see those three magical words that gave you hope that they actually liked you too – "Contact is typing…" Eek. Being able to see when someone was typing a message filled you with an excitement unparalleled to this day. Sure, WhatsApp and Facebook do the same now, but it's not the same dammit. This was the originator.
Being able to see when someone was typing something to you wan't all sunshine and lollipops though. It had a seriously downside. What if the message never arrived? 30 seconds of excitedly watching that 'Contact is typing…' message and then… nothing. It stops. No messages arrives. You can't well chase them, they'll know you were waiting on their every uttering, but what the hell were they going to say? We still don't know and are haunted to this day by the mystery.
It was the ultimate sign of schoolyard rebellion, and one that would earn you maximum props amongst your peers. Installing MSN Messenger on a school computer during a tedious IT class made you a Year 8 hero. Once installed, realising all of your Messenger mates were in the same class kind of defeated the point, but your name is still being talked about around the school to this day. Mostly by teachers discussing the biggest pricks they ever taught mind.
Pah, Pokémon Go, that's not a real game. Back in the MSN Messenger days we had proper games like Minesweeper Flags. The most intense PC-based battle you could have at the time, it involved a side window popping up with a two-player version of Minesweeper, reds vs blues. OK, that's it, it doesn't sound great now and hasn't aged particularly well, but the tension was like an epic Halo battle on pep pills.
Not only did MSN Messenger precede the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger by a good decade, its heyday was firmly in the pre-broadband era. That meant that your conversations would frequently get cut short by your mum's wails to "get off the computer, I need to phone your auntie Jill". Ah, dial-up. How we in no way miss your ear-piercing connection tones and painfully slow download speeds.


Thursday, 14 June 2018

Premier League fixtures 2018-19: Manchester City start at Arsenal

Manchester City will start their Premier League title defence at Arsenal. The 2018-19 fixtures, announced on Thursday morning, handed Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking team an Emirates Stadium opener on the weekend of 11-12 August – a fixture that will be Unai Emery’s first competitive match as Arsenal manager.
City, who amassed 100 points and 106 goals en route to finishing 19 points clear of Manchester United in 2017-18, do not face another top-six side until the trip to Liverpool in October. Games against the newly promoted trio Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham are part of a sequence that also includes Huddersfield, Newcastle and Brighton – the three teams who came up last year.
It is a similar story for Manchester United, who begin at home to Leicester. The 2017-18 runners-up have Tottenham at home in their third game, with Brighton, Burnley, Watford, Wolves, West Ham and Newcastle their other early-season opponents.
Image result for arsenal fixtures 2018 19Liverpool’s start appears more challenging. After hosting West Ham, Jürgen Klopp’s side face Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City in a run that also includes Crystal Palace, Brighton, Leicester and Southampton.
Tottenham start their second successive campaign at Newcastle before hosting Fulham at Wembley on 18 August. Their new £850m stadium at White Hart Lane will not be ready until the 15 September fixture against Liverpool.
Arsenal face a tough first two games without Arsène Wenger. After hosting the champions, they are at Chelsea for a London derby.
Chelsea travel to Huddersfield on the opening day and, after the trip to Arsenal, come Newcastle, Bournemouth, Cardiff, West Ham, Liverpool and Southampton.
The promoted sides were spared a daunting sequence of games to start the season – although all face one of the top six in their opening four matches. The Championship title winners Wolves have a home opener against Everton, before trips to Leicester and West Ham sandwich the visit of Manchester City to Molineux.
Cardiff start at Bournemouth and have Newcastle at home and Huddersfield away, before the visit of Arsenal. Fulham, who secured their place in the top flight with victory over Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final, begin at home to Crystal Palace, before the trip to Spurs is followed by Burnley at home and Brighton away. The other first-day fixtures are Southampton v Burnley and Watford v Brighton.

Among the final round of matches, scheduled for 12 May, Manchester City are at Brighton – where they started last season – while Cardiff and Wolves are at Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.

Premier League opening-day fixtures

Arsenal v Manchester City
Bournemouth v Cardiff City
Fulham v Crystal Palace
Huddersfield Town v Chelsea
Liverpool v West Ham United
Manchester United v Leicester City
Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
Southampton v Burnley
Watford v Brighton & Hove Albion
Wolves v Everton

Lea has been offered something she really wants. Unfortunately, it's terribly unfair to a lot of other people and she knows it. Should she allow herself to benefit from an unfair situation?

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Lea is a sophomore in high school and a member of a local theatre group in a nearby city. She likes school, but her passion for singing and acting is huge.
Lately there has been talk going around that some members have been exempt from auditions for the last few productions. Leah knew in the “real world” that can happen sometimes. Some productions have such huge numbers of applicants and so little time that the more experienced, well known actors and singers sometimes get bumped up into the cast without having to try out. But, this wasn’t Broadway, this was a local teen theatre group and the whole idea was to give everyone a chance to prove him or herself. She and her friends talked about the rumour and how, if it was true, how unfair it was. It’s one thing to know someone probably deserves to be cast in the production, but another to just put that person in without letting others compete for the same role. They felt close enough to their choir director to talk to him about it. He said he couldn’t imagine that applicants were being exempt. Lea’s friends talked about going to the director, but didn’t want to jeopardise their relationship with him. He was intimidating and, after all, what if he took offence or got mad? Their future chances for good roles could be compromised.
The first week of tryouts for the next musical production Lea was called into the director’s office. He told her she was in for one of the main singing parts. She was ecstatic at first. It was the role she had wanted more than any other. It was a starring spot and would set her up for amazing roles in the future. Then, she realised the director meant she didn’t have to audition. He explained that they simply didn’t have enough time to see every performer’s audition. They knew her work and knew she was right for the role.
Lea was conflicted. What would she say to her friends? How would she explain this to them? What’s more, the choir director agreed with her and her friends that everyone should audition. What would she tell him?  She decided she would raise the question to the head director before she left his office. She asked, “ What do I tell my choir director or the rest of the cast?” He replied, “ They don’t need to know. This is often done with the strongest performers.  Just skip the audition and we’ll take care of the rest.”
Now what was Lea supposed to do? What if her choir director asks her how her audition went? And what about her friends? She was the one who talked about how unfair it was to do this exact thing. But, what if she insisted on auditioning? First, she might not get the role. There were over thirty kids that wanted her role. Second, the director might not want to work with her again. You don’t rock the boat and keep a good reputation with directors. Everyone knows that.

  • What should Lea do? What would you do?
  • What position did the director put Lea in? Do you think it was fair of him?
  • Do you think she should tell her choir director about all this? What about her friends?
  • What do you think are the possible outcomes if Lea were to tell her choir director? What if she were to tell her friends?
  • Would you talk to your parents about this if you were in Lea’s place? What do you think they would do? Would you agree?
  • Have you or someone you know ever been put in an uncomfortable position by an adult where you were supposed to keep something quiet? What was the situation? Were you happy with how you handled it? Would you handle the situation in the same way again?