Happiness is not the feeling of being unloved or unwanted.

Happiness is not letting people get in the way of a good mood or Happiness.

Happiness is not settling for less.

Happiness is like the fresh taste of chicken and waffles on a Sunday morning.

Happiness is like the feeling of a little gust of wind against your face as you’re sitting up on the beach.

Happiness is knowing your worth.

Happiness should always be used in only the right but never the wrong ways.

Be HAPPY because HAPPINESS is the only and best way to live. You can only truly be HAPPY if you want to because no one can do it for you but YOU!  

*REMEMBER* do it for you, and only you. No one but YOU!!



We Need to Change


I heard a scream. It sounded familiar. The sound too familiar, like it came from someone I am with every day.  I raced to the end of the schoolyard where I heard the scream. There I found my brother being bullied. It was the girls who make fun of everyone: the mean girls. 

I quickly yelled to my best friend, Melody, for backup. Melody was always there for me. “Hey, there!’’ I said to The Mean Girls, “Stop bullying my brother!”  “Or what?’’ the girls replied. As they walked off, I angrily took my brother home.      

I did not know how to get revenge on them. It definitely would be hard. Their dad is the principal. I could not do something mean, or else they would tell their dad. I had to tell them something that will stick. I really needed to help my brother, because my mom died, and my dad is in the hospital, and I am the only one he has.  So I came up with a plan

Friday, I decided to go to the principal. I walked into the door and walked straight into the principal’s office. “Good afternoon principal Haney,” I said in a strong voice like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said in his speeches. “I need to tell you something. Your daughter and her friends have been bullying my little brother!”

“How do you know that?” The principal replied. 

“I watched them, we need a change!” my voice shook.

“I don’t think so,’’ the principal replied. “Here, use this to record their voices while they… IF they bully your little brother.” He passed me a camera. I knew two things wrong with this already. I had to see my brother bullied again. And I had to watch and record while it happened.

 There they were standing on the street yelling and teasing my brother. I turned on the camera and recorded. It was terrible watching my brother being bullied, but I had to wait. I needed to make a change: to put an end to the bullying. This was the only way to do it.

After five minutes, I turned off the camera, and pulled my brother to go home. “Why were you standing there not helping me’’? My brother asked. “You’ll see,” I said, “Tomorrow morning.”

The next day, as fast as possible, I went to the principal’s office with a smile on my face. To my surprise, the mean girls, and Melody were already there. “I called the girls to my office, and this girl came,” Principal Haney said. I handed him the camera. He turned it on, and it started to play.

 As soon as the camera started playing, the principal was gasping in shock. After about two minutes passed, he turned it off. He looked at the girls angrily. I was happy for me. I listened to the principal yell at the girls. After that, they said “sorry.” I was happy. They stopped bothering us, and they never bothered anyone else anymore. 

That incident has taught me to speak up, and do things that I do not like stop people from bullying.


What are the best starter pets for new pet owners: cats, dogs or hamsters?

What are the best starter pets for new pet owners: cats, dogs or hamsters?

By Said Ibrahim

Are you thinking of getting a new pet? If you are, pets like cats and dogs are not good starters. Hamsters are better, and I’ll tell you why!

Hamsters don’t poop in the house, unlike cats and dogs. Dogs need two months of house-training, and cats need even more! Hamsters don’t need multiple shots each year, or lots of expensive visits to the vet, and they don’t need to be trained.

Hamsters actually save their food! They store extra food in their cheek pouches. Dogs and cats will just eat their food, and then ask for more. Hamsters can store half their body weight in their cheeks, which would be impossible for a human, and they can pull it out when they really need it.

Some might say that a hamster’s short life span of two years is a reason to get a cat or dog instead. But I think, because you don’t have to take care of them for that long, and if you’re lucky they’ll have six pups, their short life is no downside.

A hamster is definitely cheaper but not as affectionate as a cat or dog. And when your hamster lives out its lifespan, you can always move up to a harder to take care of pet—maybe even a cat or dog. But that’s for next time.

Said Ibrahim is a fifth grader at Mighty Writers West.

My Hero: City Year’s Writing Contest 7th grade winner

Who do I consider to be a hero? Well, to me a hero is someone who will take a bullet for me or someone who will stand up for me and have my back even if no one else does. Also a hero, in my opinion, is someone who, if I call their name at any time, will come running to rescue me. In addition, a hero is someone who will risk their life to save yours. But a hero does not always have to help you physically; a hero can help you emotionally, too. Therefore, my hero is my dad.

One reason I consider my dad a hero is because he is very helpful. Even if my dad is very busy doing work he will stop what he is doing to help me. One time I was at school and I sprained my ankle. So my dad came all the way from his job in the middle of the day and took me to the doctor. This is significant to me because it shows me that, no matter what, he will always be there for me and that nothing else matters to him but me. Clearly, my dad is heroic through his helpfulness.

In addition, I consider my dad to be heroic because he is brave. My dad has proven to my family and me that he is not afraid of anything. In Philadelphia and New York we had hurricane Sandy. As a result of the storm, New York was flooded and lost power, so my dad volunteered to go to New York for his job to help restore power. This shows he is daring because he was willing to go through the flood into the darkness and mess with the electricity, not to mention leaving his family behind. Therefore, I would consider my father to be a hero.

In conclusion, heroes are all around us, but my hero is my father. My father can best be characterized as heroic because he is not afraid of anything, and he is always willing to drop what he is doing to help others around him. My dad is also kind and protective. Because of all of his positive characteristics, my dad is my HERO.


Mya Mills is a 7th grader at Mastery Charter Shoemaker Campus. She is a very trustworthy, sup- portive and dependable young woman. Always one for creativity, she loves to try new things. When around her, she’ll always have you laughing.

My Hero: City Year’s Writing Contest 9th grade winner

March 1st 2014, midafternoon, I peruse the instructions for this prompt and stare misty-eyed at crimson pictures of Superman on Google. “Who do I consider to be a hero?” is the question that I continuously ask myself. The next question that arrives more simply is—what is a hero? What being a hero entails for me is straightforward: an ordinary individual who is admired for their ethics and achievements, one who leaves a lasting impression on someone’s life. I would definitely consider my mother to be my hero. I am aware that billions of teenagers and children around the world venerate their parents for giving them life, however my mother has impacted my life in a way that I could never truly express. My mother is my hero because she gave me confidence within myself and encouraged me that I could do anything in this vast world we inhabit.

To begin with, my mother has made a significant impact on my life because she has given me something that no one can ever take away from me—confidence. Teenagers today, and specifically young women, are plagued by society’s superficial ideal of what beauty truly is. It’s everywhere you can possibly think of: billboards, television, magazines, and campaigns. Basically, this ideal gives young women the impression that if you don’t fit the qualifications, then you are lesser. Diversity is nonexistent, and it’s easy to be consumed in this twisted game of acceptance. My mother, my hero, would be the only person by my side in the toughest of situations to remind me that I was a beautiful person inside and out. I can honestly say that she loved me before I even knew how to love myself. I can vividly remember those faithful nights when I felt like the worst version of myself, and yet, her calming voice would captivate me, saying, “You have a beautiful smile, eyes, nose, lips…” She would list things for minutes, all the things she deemed “perfect,” until I felt like a completely new individual. It’s the simplest of things that I appreciate the most. If my hero had never given me confidence, then I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Confidence isn’t only being sure of yourself, but being sure of your decisions in life. My mother is my hero for making me constantly feel like a beautiful person.

Moreover, my mother is my hero because she continues to encourage me that I can do anything in life. A wise man once wrote, “There’s nothing better than having someone believe in you.” When it comes to my hero, she’s the only individual who believes in my abilities and my future. I always grew up with the notion that I could do anything I put my mind to; I thought this was the typical saying for all parents, but some children aren’t encouraged to try such a wide range of things. In other words, they are told they can succeed in their parents’ footsteps, or as far as reality allows. My hero always had a way of making me feel special; my mother would tell me that God has something amazing planned for me. I still believe every second of it. My mother inspires me through her beliefs in me to succeed. I cannot yet explain how my hero’s encouragement impacts my life in the future yet, presently speaking, her encouragement has led me to try new things. In her eyes, I can never fail.

In conclusion, my mother is my hero because she makes me feel beautiful inside and out, and she supports and encourages me in every decision I make.



Dominique Brodie-Wilson is an excellent student in the 9th grade. She was born and raised in West Philadelphia and her favorite subjects are literature and history. Her aspiration is to inspire people and her main goal in life is to make a living doing some- thing that she loves.

My Hero: City Year’s Writing Contest 8th grade winner

A hero isn’t just someone who rips off his or her clothes in the pounding climax of a crime to fly off and save someone. A hero doesn’t have to have super strength. A hero is someone who is brave and makes a positive change in someone’s life, sometimes without even knowing what they have done. I’ve met a lot of people in my life so far, and they’ve all allowed me to experience different feelings and perspectives; however, there is one person who has left a significant impact on my life—Natalie. When I was in the fourth grade, I met my friend Natalie. Unfortunately, towards the end of our school year in sixth grade, she was diagnosed with scoliosis. Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person’s spine is curved from side to side, rather than a straight line. This condition affected the way she was able to sit, stand, and even complete daily interactions with her friends. I consider Natalie to be my hero because she didn’t let scoliosis take control of her life and how she treated people.
When I think about Natalie, one event in particular that comes to mind is when she first told me about her diagnosis. We were sitting at lunch, and she said it so confidently and casually that it seemed as if it weren’t true. She wasn’t sad or depressed; it was like she came across a challenge that she gratefully accepted. I couldn’t understand how someone with a hazardous condition could be so calm. Although it became difficult to complete normal tasks, Natalie didn’t allow her life to be taken over by the fact that she had scoliosis. Because of that, I think highly of her. She could have created a bubble between her world and the outside world, yet she pushed through the hard times.
Another specific thing that comes to mind when I think of Natalie is her tactfulness. Before I found out about her diagnosis, she was always kind and nice. Even when I could see a sharp flash of pain across her face, she was patient and considerate to the people by whom she was surrounded. I remember when she told me that she needed to have surgery. I was completely freaking out and worried; thoughts of all of the possible things that could go wrong blasted through my mind. However, Natalie was relaxed. She was the one reassuring me, when I should have been reassuring her that everything was going to be fine. There was a soothing rhythm that came out when she spoke that washed all of my worries down the drain. She was open and honest with people, and she was always smiling and laughing, no matter how dry a joke was.
With that being said, I consider Natalie to be my hero because she showed a vast amount of maturity and consideration that I wish I had at that age. Until I met Natalie, I thought that heroes had to have capes and bad guys to fight off; however, now, with her help, I realize that a hero can be anyone.



Destiny Samuel is in Eighth grade. She aspires to be a successful author one day. In her free time Destiny is an avid reader, writer and loves taking care of her younger sister.