You are beautiful.

By Lydia Grant

Hi everyone!

Today, I’ll be discussing a touchy subject for most girls: weight. I felt like this is something that needs to be addressed for once and for all.

Your size doesn’t matter! There are too many beautiful girls worried about if they’re a size two or 12. I mean, homecoming will be the death of me. I am, and have always been, a skinny girl. I’m almost 14 years old and can still shop in the children’s section.

I know, “Quit complaining about your high metabolism,” or “Ew, you are gross skinny.” The truth is, I have a serious stomach disorder I was born with. I can’t eat pizza, most sweets, or anything with high citrus. I would love to not sit at a birthday party starving while everyone eats. Then I see girls with lovely curves and great personalities worried about their size! I’ve jokingly said to many girls, “Hey, you want to switch bodies?!” Usually I get an enthusiastic, “YES!” in response. I’m here to say be happy that you can be big and beautiful! Be happy that you are you!

Society is in our heads.

Now, I’ve covered that heavier girls get insecure but so do many skinny girls. Take recent hits “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor and “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj. Both encourage women to be heavier because it makes you more attractive. Now, both songs also shame women who are skinnier, saying we aren’t welcome (more Nicki Minaj than Meghan Trainor).

I think it’s hard for any girl seemingly “too skinny” nowadays. I’m healthy. So, why should I be shamed when I, as a young girl, am still becoming comfortable with who I am? I don’t need others criticism when I already have my own.

Can we take a throwback to Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.” Christina tells us all we are all beautiful. Come on guys, can’t we have more magazines, TV commercials, etc. that tell us that no matter how different we are, we are beautiful! If girls and women could stop denying their insecurities and come together to change standards, everyone could feel beautiful.

In conclusion, take a moment to tell yourself you are pretty, and anyone who can’t see that is blinded by your beauty or is too dumb to see it yet. Boys, friends, relatives, it doesn’t matter if the important people in your life can’t see it. It just matters that you see it. The important people will accept you for who you are.

So, if that store doesn’t have your dress size, so what! Go somewhere else that does, dust it off because all insecurity is, is dirt.

Theater, behind the scenes

By Jenna Campbell

I was a freshman in high school when I first got involved in theater. I auditioned for a part but, ultimately, wound up as stage manager. This was my first experience with the backstage aspect of theater. I enjoyed it, but always knew that I wanted to act. So, less than a year later, I auditioned for and earned a role onstage. It took one part in one play, I was hooked. For the next two years, theater became a passion and love of mine. I began dedicating large portions of my time and life to the stage, but I never forgot about my backstage roots.

When it was time for my school’s annual play my junior year, I decided I not only wanted to act, but also learn something new. I asked my director if he would mentor me and allow me to be the student assistant director so I could understand the thoughts and creative process that go into making a show come alive, and he agreed. I saw things from an entirely new perspective. I was inspired to learn about every job I could so I would be well-rounded and have an understanding of what it took for a production to be put on.

Though I managed a stage in the past, I still wasn’t that educated with the inner workings of the backstage, so I decided to take a stagecraft class, or “techie training,” over the summer. I learned about lights, sound, rigs, props, the building and painting of sets, how to properly stage manage and be a run crew member and, most importantly, just how much work goes into the show. I was in awe because the little stage managing I did was nothing compared to what I learned in the class. It opened my eyes and gave me a new appreciation for the theater, which is what I desired from the start.

With my new (but by no means professional) knowledge, I became a one-woman light and sound crew for Off the Wall Theater’s “The Harvey Wallbangers.” Being above the audience in the dark lighting booth just to time out and pick the precise cue that coincided with the events happening on stage was an unforgettable experience that I would do again in a heartbeat.

I know some actors who have never been on the backstage side of things and not only question why people do crew, but they also see them as less important and blame them for problems out of everyone’s control. I can fairly say the previous statement because I’ve now been on the director, crew and performance side of the spectrum, and actors don’t always realize just how important every single person involved in the show is. Whether you have a small part, big part, paint set, take care of props, choreograph dance moves, play in the pit, open the curtain, what have you, you are necessary in the creation of the show and are no less important than anyone else, and I can’t express that enough.

In fact, if there was one thing I’m glad I learned, it is to look at things from all perspectives – walk a day in another person’s shoes and do their job for once. People running props get the same thrill as a performer walking out on stage for the first time. Messing up a light cue is just as nerve-racking as forgetting a line. A stage manager has to memorize just as many things as the lead role. A director is responsible for knowing the show in, and out and so is a stage manager and their crew – just like the performers.

Now, I’m going to wrap this up, but before I do, I have a few more words of advice. Whether it’s as a passion or a hobby, I always recommend participating in theater no matter what task you want to do. If the stage isn’t your thing, try something else. The possibilities in theater are endless. Don’t be too quick to get locked into one specific thing, push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new (like I did). If you are brave and audition for a part, don’t be discouraged if you get a “small part,” come up with a back story if you don’t have one, and put everything you have into it, they’re the most difficult to play. Lastly, if you’re on the fence about participating in a play or musical, do it! The experience will change your life. If you’re already an active member of performances, spread out and learn what you can about the different areas of theater. It will make you better at the things you already know. Having a well-rounded experience will open doors and, once again, change your life; I know it changed mine.

Book vs. movie: ‘If I Stay’

By Amanda Reilly

“If I Stay” by Gayle Forman is a love story full of humor, romance and tragedy. An amazing story about how hard it can be to choose between family and someone you’re madly in love with.

This story follows 17-year-old Mia Hall’s life. Mia has always felt like an outcast in her family. They are all vibrant, lively people who love rock music. Mia on the other hand is shy and quiet, with a love for reading, classical music and her cello. The only person who she talks to is her best friend, Kim Schein, until Adam Wilde takes an interest in her. Kim is a photographer whose family doesn’t understand her artistic talents. Adam is the lead singer of a rock band known as “Shooting Star” who nobody quite understands.

When Adam asks Mia on a date she wonders, “Why would a guy like him want to go out with a girl like me?” They end up being exactly what the other needs. Mia starts to believe she isn’t as much of an outcast as she thought. Now she has an amazing family, best friend and boyfriend. It all seems so perfect – then she’s in a car accident that changes life as she knew it.

Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley star in the movie version of “If I Stay.” I felt like they fit Mia and Adam nicely. The movie is full of dramatic, romantic and humorous moments.

It catches your attention from the very beginning. The movie doesn’t waste much time getting into it, so if you’re bored at the beginning, you won’t be for long. The story builds with every moment, but not so fast that you can’t keep up with it.

One thing I definitely liked about the movie is that it didn’t have any important parts of the book missing. Also, most of the major lines from the book were left in the movie, which doesn’t happen that often. During the book and the movie, flashbacks take place. In the book, they aren’t that hard to follow. In the movie, some scenes are a bit confusing.

One of my favorite parts of seeing “If I Stay” was not just the movie, but the audience. A group of girls in the theater would gasp, giggle and cry at all the same parts. When leaving the theater, one girl was telling her friends that it couldn’t end that way, and she needed to know what happens next. I walked up to their group and told her there was a second book already out that she could read to answer her questions. She was happy to find out there would be a sequel. She was even happier to find out it was a book.

Of course, not everyone had the same reaction. Some people thought it was cliché and like every other love story they have read or seen before. They still said it was enjoyable though.

I hope you go and see “If I Stay” or read the book – no promises you will enjoy it though. If you do follow my advice and end up enjoying it, look into the sequel, “Where She Went.”

Book vs. movie: ‘The Giver’

By Amanda Reilly

“The Giver” by Lowis Lowry is a dystopian novel that takes place in a community far in the future. In this community, differences are frowned upon because they caused problems in the past, or what is now the present, to us. Nobody has any memories of the past; nobody has true feelings or emotions, except the Giver.

The Giver’s job is to hold all memories of the past to keep the events that occurred then from happening again. Everyone in the community is assigned a job at age 12. The main character, Jonas, who narrates the novel, is assigned Receiver of Memory, meaning he will receive memories of the past. Soon after he learns about the past, he feels more people need to know what happened. He feels the way the community lives is wrong, and he wants to change it.

Some people find the book confusing and boring, others inspirational and exciting. I find the book to be an interesting story about how our world today takes all of our amazing things in life for granted, unlike one boy who discovers these things and treasures everything he finds.

Like I said before, some people find the book confusing, causing them to find it boring. For those of you who found the book to be this way, you might enjoy the movie more. The movie explains things a bit better, since there is a narrator and a visual.

One of the differences I liked in the movie was that two of the book’s characters, Fiona and Asher, played a much larger part. In the book, they only have a few conversations with Jonas. In the movie, they both play a much larger role in the plot. Asher also has a different personality. He still has the fun personality described in the book, but at times he becomes serious.

Jonas also has a few changes. In the book, Jonas was always afraid to disobey the rules, but in the movie, his character is more rebellious and free-spirited. Jonas having a rebellious character causes conflict, since the community is strict. This creates excitement and tension throughout the movie, making it interesting. There is plenty of emotion during this movie.

The one thing I didn’t enjoy about the movie is that it seemed too modern compared to the book. I know that might not make much sense, but when I read the book; it had this classic and simple theme to it. The movie seemed like it didn’t incorporate that theme. Though there were a few differences, I still enjoyed the movie and I believe many others will too.

If you decide to go see “The Giver,” don’t expect it to be exactly like the book, as it will ruin it for you. I enjoyed the book and movie in different ways – and hopefully you will too.

Lincoln Park school: ‘We’re all mad here’

By Jenna Ronto

“We’re all mad here.”

Yeah, that’s an appropriate description of my new school, Lincoln Park. For those of you that haven’t heard of it, it’s a performing arts school, so everyone auditioned to get in. I go for drawing.

What you go for is considered your major, for example, if you go for writing, you’re a literary arts major. You can major in other things too, like singing, acting, dancing, playing an instrument, photography and web/graphic design. Those are just the basics.

Anyway, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School is located in Midland. The school is open to any 7th- to 12th-grade student that lives in Pennsylvania.

I live in Washington, so the bus right is pretty long – about an hour and a half long.

Oh, I forgot to mention, it’s still a school, so you have to take regular classes like Math and English. Sorry! The teachers are all pretty nice though.

If you’re a new student at Lincoln, expect to make friends quickly. Almost everyone is friendly! You’ll find a lot of interesting people, and you’ll most likely find someone who has the same interests as you! You will also probably hang out with people you wouldn’t expect to be around. Oh, if you’re not a touchy-feely kind of person, you’re out of luck (Free Hugs Friday!). Also, don’t be surprised if you see a student dressed up as a homeless guy named “Chuckie” who likes cheese. Or anything like that.

By the way, if you wear a paper crown, no one will question it.

Overall, my new school is pretty nice. The only real reason I would go back to my old school would be because I miss my friends at Wash High. I really do miss seeing them almost every day, but I do like Lincoln Park, so… we’ll see.

Sharkando’s Second Wind: Sink or Swim?

By Alex York

Last year, I had the “privilege” of reviewing one of the season’s most talked about films, a Syfy original movie by the name of “Sharknado.” Starring main characters Fin Shepherd and April Wexler, portrayed by Ian Zeiring and Tara Reid, respectively, Sharknado’s soul-rending story about sharks and tornados combining forces and devouring L.A. easily made it one of the absolute worst movies I’ve ever seen. Still, the film managed to be so awful that it transformed from a horror film to a comedy worth the watch for no reason other than to mock everyone remotely involved in its production.

So of course, upon seeing their film reach cult status, Syfy went and made a sequel.

A year after the first, the follow-up to “Sharknado” came to television, so similar to the original that the producers went so far as to name it – brace yourself – “Sharknado 2: The Second One.”

Following in its predecessor’s footsteps, “The Second One” is built around the basic premise of sharks falling from the sky and slaughtering the populations of major American cities – in this case, New York. Ziering and Reid return as Shepherd and Wexler, reconciled exes who achieved nationwide popularity after the publication of Wexler’s book on the events that took place in Los Angeles. The film picks up with them on their flight to the Big Apple, which gets torn to shreds by airborne sharks minutes after the cameras start rolling. Wexler loses her hand in the chaos (accompanied by a cry of “My hand! My hand!”), while Shepherd somehow manages to land the irreparably damaged airliner on a nearby runway.

From here, the plot proceeds in basically the same way as the original: Shepherd runs around New York murdering sharks and cracking bad jokes at inappropriate times, while various celebrity guest stars are killed by the aquatic menace. These guest stars are my favorite thing about “The Second One.” While the original “Sharknado” had a cast made up of fairly obscure actors, the sequel actually calls in some bigger names as far as D-List actors go. Viewers can expect to see cameos by, among others, Kelly Osbourne, Billy Ray Cyrus, Al Roker and Sandra “Pepa” Denton of hip-hop group Salt’n’Pepa. Still, while seeing Perez Hilton get eaten by one of the aquatic predators is entertaining, nothing can save “The Second One” from the same bad acting and abysmal plot that plagued the original.

Unlike the first, however, “Sharknado 2” doesn’t manage to make anything out of this. While the original was so bad it was good, “The Second One” is just plain bad. Much of the content in the film seems recycled, as it does nothing to set itself apart from the original. The characters follow the same plan as in the first, in which they play MacGyver and use improvised incendiaries to stop the wrath of nature itself. Shepherd once again wields a chainsaw and splits a flying shark in half just as in the original. The film even goes so far as to crush a guest star with part of a landmark, only this time around, “Shark Tank” mainstay Daymond John falls victim to Lady Liberty’s head in place of Robbie Rist of “The Brady Bunch,” who died at the hands of the Hollywood sign. While the producers tried to incorporate new elements into the sequel (such as three tornados as opposed to two and sharks that catch on fire after a certain turn of events), nothing actually makes “The Second One” stand out from the original.

As it turns out, I went into “Sharknado 2” expecting far too much. I expected it to be on the same level as its predecessor, whose overdramatic narrative, bad acting and corny one-liners made the otherwise dreadful experience fun. In the end, I got far less than I bargained for. The humor wasn’t quite there as it was in the original and most content simply felt like a rehash of the first movie. Ultimately, all of the negative factors combined make “Sharknado 2: The Second One,” a movie about the least mundane idea possible, boring. The first film set up a series with a lot of potential – or lack thereof – that I hate to see go to waste. Unfortunately, however, it seems that the budding “Sharknado” franchise has already jumped the shark.

…Which makes 2015’s “Sharknado 3” all the more terrifying.