EducationLearn

Senior year of high school is a big milestone. We have prom, graduation, and plans for where we are going post-high school. Senior year was my favorite year of high school, and I had a lot of fun. Remember to make the most of every second without letting anything fall to the wayside.

1. Maintain Your Grades

Don’t forget to maintain your grades after you get accepted into college or figure out your plans after graduation. Some people think that once they get into the college of their dreams, they are free to do whatever they want. You should enjoy yourself! However, if there is a steep drop in your grades without explanation, you could lose your place in college. I’ve even known people whose grades dropped so badly, they nearly didn’t graduate at all. Just one class could separate you from your goals, so keep giving it all you’ve got.

2. Avoid Trouble

It is wise to avoid trouble during your senior year. Once you get accepted into college, a weight is off your shoulders. More than that, it’s time to celebrate! When your future finally seems secure, it’s tempting to cut loose. Just keep in mind that there could be consequences for out-of-control behavior. If you get suspended or if things escalate and you get arrested, you could lose your place in college. You may be having senior fun, but colleges don’t want someone who will reflect badly on the school.

3. Create a Legacy

I recommend creating a legacy. The end of high school provides many mementos and keepsakes such as yearbooks and photos. Some people regret how they left their mark. Some are worried that they didn’t make an impression at all. You can start a club or get involved with planning an event. You could participate in a fundraiser. It’s not just about making your mark. It’s about leaving your school a slightly better place than when you entered it.

4. Don’t Miss Out

Lastly, don’t miss a single moment. There were times when I was too tired to go to senior events. Though I don’t regret anything, I do know it was my last chance to be around the people I grew up with. Many of those people I never saw again. Treasure all of the memories you are making.

It’s okay to have fun in your senior year. Everyone does. Make the most of every single second. It’s the last time you get to live comfortably at home and to hang out with everyone you grew up with. Just don’t let enjoying the year come between you and your future.

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Culture

There is a mountain of holiday entertainment out there, including movies, specials, music or books. Casey McAnarney listed Popular Christmas Movies for 2014. The popular movies are very beloved, but there are also films that are off the beaten path that people still include in their Christmas rituals. If you’re looking for something new to add to your Christmas viewing, here are some other holiday films that you may have missed over the years:

Romantic Comedy Recommendation: The Shop Around The Corner

Based on the same source material as You’ve Got Mail, this is a film about two coworkers who can’t stand each other but are unknowingly falling in love with each other through letters. The legendary Jimmy Stewart is a great romantic lead. You may have missed this movie because you have already seen You’ve Got Mail. If you would like to give your You’ve Got Mail or Love Actually DVDs a break, this is worth your time.

Honorable Mention: While You Were Sleeping.

Musical Recommendation: White Christmas

In this story, two army buddies use their fame to help their old superior officer during the holidays. They also try to find love with a musical duo along the way. This film lightly touches on the war genre but is very uplifting. Bing Crosby sings his famous version of “White Christmas.” You may have missed this because it’s not the first film to use Bing Crosby’s rendition of the song.  It’s streaming on Netflix now so take the time to watch it.

Honorable Mention: Nativity!

Action Recommendation: Die Hard

This is the favorite Christmas film of many action movie fans. John McClane (Bruce Willis) wants to come home to see his family for the holidays and ends up trying to save an entire building from a hostage situation. This is a film beloved all year but also works as holiday viewing. You may have missed this because you didn’t know it was related to Christmas. It is very barely related to Christmas but it’s there.

Honorable Mention: Lethal Weapon.

Comedy Recommendation: The Ref

This is a dark holiday comedy. Denis Leary plays a thief who takes a family hostage on Christmas Eve. It doesn’t seem like comedy material but it is. You may have missed it because it was not a big hit but it is still a good film.

Honorable Mention: Bad Santa.

Animation Recommendation: Arthur Christmas

Christmas cartoons are a holiday staple. This feature is a good example of exciting animation as Santa’s son, Arthur, races against time to make sure a child isn’t forgotten on Christmas. While very funny, it also gives the lesson that technology and gifts are no replacement for optimism and Christmas spirit. You may have missed it if you felt like you had grown out of animation by the time this movie came out. Treat yourself.

Honorable Mention: The Polar Express.

Drama Recommendation: Happy Christmas

Anna Kendrick stars as a woman who goes to stay with her brother and his family. Though she begins to get closer to them, her destructive behavior could cost her what she has. This also has comedy elements and a mumblecore style. You may have missed it because it just came out this year. Try it.

Honorable Mention: The Family Stone.

Science Fiction/Fantasy Recommendation: Gremlins

In this tale, a father buys an unusual creature as a Christmas gift for his son. There are unexpected and violent consequences. This film can get pretty dark so be careful of watching it with little kids. For adults it can be pretty entertaining. You may have missed this if you didn’t know it was a Christmas movie. Enjoy it.

Honorable Mention: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

These are just some of the many films out there this holiday season.  I admit that the first film I watch after Thanksgiving is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and all the popular movies on Casey McAnarney’s list. That still gives you a month to explore something new!  

What are your holiday movie favorites?

Image: Laura Ashley

Culture

We’re so excited that one of our favorite holidays is just around the corner. While delicious food is a major perk of Thanksgiving, it is also a great time to remember what you are grateful for. We’ve talked about ways to show your gratitude throughout the year, Spotlighted a guy who started a company that encourages sending thank you cards, the power of random acts of kindness, and have offered tips on different ways to say thank you.

Thanksgiving is a time to count your lucky stars, appreciate your family, and give back to those you love. It is also a perfect time to share with friends and show how much you care about one another. A fantastic way to do this is by hosting a Friendsgiving! Friendsgiving is the celebration of Thanksgiving dinner with your friends, and it usually happens the Wednesday before or the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Whether you plan a Friendsgiving a couple of days before Thanksgiving or if it replaces actual Thanksgiving (since you might not be able to make it home for the holiday), there’s no better way to spend time with friends.

These are the 6 benefits of hosting a Friendsgiving:

  1. Experiment with new recipes.

Have you been waiting for the perfect event to make those mini pumpkin pies? Here it is, your perfect moment has arrived. Since you’ll be cooking or baking for a crowd, you can try multiple recipes and show off those kitchen skills.

  1. Experience different traditions.

Encourage those attending to incorporate their family traditions – does your best friend play football with his family before the feasting begins (hello Friends!)?, does your other friend watch football on TV afterwards? Is there a movie that one of your friends watches every Thanksgiving? Does someone love playing board games post-meal? Perhaps your family goes around the table before eating to say what they are grateful for?

Include these fun and new traditions into your Friendsgiving. By kicking off Friendsgiving, you and your friends will be starting a tradition of your very own.

  1. Try your friends’ favorite foods.

Make your Friendsgiving a potluck and tell everyone to bring their favorite dish (you’ll want to coordinate this so you don’t have four types of mashed potatoes). Through the variety of foods, you will experience the different flavors that your friends have enjoyed and celebrated over the years.

  1. You’ll get two days to focus on being thankful!

While being grateful every day of the year is important, this year you’ll get two days to focus on what you are thankful for – Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving. Lucky you!

  1. Start celebrating Christmas early without judgment.

So you and your friends want to start listening to Christmas music without being judged for it? This is the safest environment to do it in! Blast those Christmas carols and holiday tunes and make a dance party out of it. Who better to rock out to Jingle Bells with than your best friends who love the holidays just as much as you?

  1. Cleaning has never been faster.

Once the meal is over, there are multiple hands to make the clean-up process move much faster. For a stress-free post-meal experience, clean before you eat dessert. This way there won’t be that huge task looming over you. The job gets done sooner when everyone helps out.

Happy Friendsgiving!

Image: Friends Season 10

Culture

These days, Thanksgiving is known for its big meal and is otherwise swallowed up by the rest of the holiday season. However, when we think of it like that, we miss a lot of joy that comes from the holiday itself. It is a day that brings family and friends together and makes them take stock of the goodness in their lives. Everyone has their own role to play in this. Even if Thanksgiving is not your favorite holiday, it has values you can celebrate all year long.

1. The holiday motivates us to keep in touch.

With social media, it’s easy to see what your loved ones are up to throughout the year, but it’s hard to make plans to see each other. People really make the effort to be together on holidays but you don’t need a holiday as an excuse to get together. When you miss someone you love, make a plan to see them. I know work and school can be hectic. However, in the last year, I’ve made the effort to spend more time with my extended family and I’m grateful for it. We know each other in a new way now and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

2. Thanksgiving allows you to forge a bond through food.

We all know everyone has to eat. Thanksgiving is a food holiday, but also one steeped in tradition. People work together in their kitchens to keep old traditions alive or create some new concoction. I love to eat and to cook. Throughout my childhood, I was a last minute helper. I had to contribute in my own small way. Now that I am adult, I do most of the cooking myself. On Thanksgiving, preparing food is not just cooking, it is carrying on tradition. Everyone contributes to the meal. We are brought up on recipes that we learn to make ourselves. It’s a group bonding activity that does not have to be one day of the year. I frequently help my family cook. It takes away some of the work after a long day. Take some time throughout the year to share recipes with others or to cook together. It is a fun way to pass the time with people you care about.

3. Thanksgiving is one of the biggest volunteering days of the year.

Remembering what we have now reminds us to help others less fortunate. A lot of charities put out food for families and the ill on this holiday but people need to eat all year round. Why wait to volunteer one day of the year? There are many worthy causes looking for help during the year. Try one.

4. Think about what you are thankful for.

We are in the ‘now generation.’ We tweet, Instagram, and Facebook to talk about what we are doing in the moment. Most of the time, it’s important to keep moving forward and be present. That said, it does not hurt to realize all that you have going for you. It also never hurts to remember all the people in your life who make your life better. Let them know what they do for you. Again, this doesn’t have to happen one day of the year. When you appreciate someone in your life, tell him or her.

Holidays are a time to celebrate events that happen year after year. However, we don’t have to only bring out these values one day of the year. We can get closer to our loved ones, work together, give back, and appreciate all that life has to offer. All you have to do is remember to try. I told you some ways that I celebrate. Think of how you want to contribute this year.

What Thanksgiving lessons do you implement throughout the year? Share in the comments below or tweet to us!

Image: Lee

CultureEducation

Happy Presidents’ Day! In the United States, the third Monday in February is known as Presidents’ Day in honor of the birthday of the First President of the United States, George Washington. Having become a widely celebrated holiday, many business and schools close on Monday in observation of Presidents’ Day. How are you celebrating Presidents’ Day?

Education

Not only does a new year bring new goals, new classes, and new friends, but January also means that a new semester is starting. For high school seniors, this semester is critical. It is the last few months that you will spend with friends you’ve known for years, it is the time to create a legacy for your class, and it is a time where major life decisions are being made, such as where to attend college or what to study during your gap year.

The countdown begins for seniors, and it is bittersweet because these are the “last time” experiences that you will cherish for a while. You have five months to make your last semester of high school awesome – these 6 ideas will help you make it a semester you’ll never forget.

Designated dress-up day. When I was a senior in high school, my classmates and I wanted to leave a legacy. We wanted to do something memorable. What we decided to do was coordinate dress-up day for one day of every month. This took a lot of effort even though we were a fairly small senior class because in order to pull off the stunt, every single senior had to be dressed up – it had more impact this way. Every month all of the seniors would meet and decide the theme of the month. On dress up day, all of the other non-senior students were thoroughly entertained and surprised. Dress-up day also brought our senior class closer together and gave everyone something fun to participate in. Dress-up ideas include: toga, 70’s, the Great Gatsby, Under Construction, school colors, Hawaiian, mismatched, sporty, ugly sweater, one color, twins, and alphabet.

Connect with teachers. High school teachers are fantastic and they have been there throughout major growing moments in your life. Get to know your teachers better so that when you graduate, you can keep in touch and visit. The loads of homework your teachers assign can be annoying, but don’t let that deter you from getting to know them better.

Get to know your classmates. If you have found your close group of friends that you are comfortable with, that’s awesome. But remember that there is always room for more friends. Get to know classmates you didn’t have the chance to talk to last semester. The friends you make this semester might be your friends for life. Take the time to talk to people you don’t know before graduating and leaving for good.

Nix the drama. High school is filled with unnecessary, stressful drama. And guess what? It’s never worth it! Reject participating in drama and allow yourself to have a stress-free semester that you can actually enjoy with friends. Don’t let petty drama ruin your last days of high school.

Step outside of your comfort zone. Your last semester of high school is the perfect time to try something you didn’t have the opportunity to do during the last three and a half years. Step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. If you are shy and didn’t have the chance to try your hand at drama, audition for the school play. Always wanted to make a 3-pointer? Tryout for the basketball team. Your last semester of high school should be fun and filled with new experiences that could change the course of your life. Who knows, maybe the pottery class you decided to take last minute will inspire you to major in Art in college! Use this time to try new activities and discover new things about yourself.

Go to the Prom. Whether you go with a date, your best friend, or your sister, go to prom and have fun. Try not to worry about being asked or how you look. In a few years there’s a good chance you won’t even remember the dress you wore, but I can guarantee you will remember how much fun you and your best friends had laughing together. Many seniors opt out of going to prom, but it’s one night of your life and you can make it the night you want it to be.

How are you going to make your last semester of high school awesome?

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