Students’ Rights

So, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks, right?

Wednesday, February 14 started off with a celebration of friendship and love and ended in mourning and outrage for the victims of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

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Since that day, you’ve doubtless seen videos, memes and articles about the survivors of the shooting and their quest for stricter gun control laws. They’ve gone up against local, state and federal governments as well as the National Rifle Association (NRA). Students throughout the country have led walk-out events in solidarity with the Florida students and school administrators at many of these schools have threatened expulsion and other repercussions.

So, the question that a lot of teens are left with is: what rights do students have? If the First Amendment protects the rights of citizens to assemble and protest, how does this relate to students and/or minors?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is holding an online training to answer these questions.  You can register for this event at the ACLU website. If you don’t wish for the event, you can also explore the ACLU website to find out more about your rights.

If you feel like these are important topics and you’d like to know more, come into the Vortex and check out some books from our displays about gun violence and activism. The first and best way to empower yourself is always to educate yourself!




Book Recommendation: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

firstlifeGenre: Dystopia / Sci-Fi

First Released: 2016

Part of a Series?: Yup! This is the first book in the Everlife series.

Locked in an asylum for her refusal to let her parents dictate her afterlife choices, Ten Lockwood finds herself caught in a violent power struggle between the two leading Everlife realms that would do anything to claim her powerful soul.

Where can I find it in the library?
This will be on the second floor of the library in the Vortex.

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I enjoyed reading Firstlife! The concept is really intriguing. That there’s multiple afterlives and we can decide which one we want to end up in. Even more intriguing, departed souls can return to influence people who are still on their first-life on which afterlife to choose. They’re known as laborers. Tenley has two laborers, one from each afterlife pulling her in the other direction. Poor Tenley is stuck in-between trying to decide which to choose. Her parents want her to choose one way, but they put her in an asylum to force her hand. How does she know that’s the right decision?

My favorite part of Firstlife though isn’t the cool concept, it’s the fact that it doesn’t fall into the YA dystopian trend of MUST HAVE LOVE TRIANGLE. There’s two boys, yes, but it’s not a love triangle. You’ll see what I mean as you read! Both characters are really likeable too and pretty interesting, and stand on their own outside of Tenley. They aren’t just love interest #1 and #2! Squee!

#Capture Kindness: Week 14

The #CaptureKindness Campaign has come to a close. Random Acts of Kindness Week (aka Valentine’s Week) is now over, but the kindness doesn’t need to stop here. Hopefully,  after fourteen weeks of pondering, practicing, and capturing kindness, being helpful, respectful, and thoughtful toward the people around you has become part of your routine. Remember: you don’t have to dedicate your life to charity in order to be kind (though you certainly can); sometimes a smile or small gesture is all it takes to make the world a kinder place!

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Last week’s challenge was simply to practice random acts of kindness.  Last week was also Valentine’s Day with the annual Cheap Candy Day directly following. (It’s okay to be kind and still frugal. Also buying clearance candy keeps it out of a landfill. See?  We’re practicing all sorts of kindness here!) So, I made a bunch of little “thank you” cards, attached some sweets and passed them out to people at random!  Low cost but high happiness return!


Alright, my friends. That’s it for my #CaptureKindness posts. It’s time to take what you’ve learned and share it with the world. And, in the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln (in Bill & Ted’s imaginings, at least), “Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes.”

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Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. “I’m so swamped with homework.” “I feel like I have no time to get anything done.” “Social media is depressing and taking over my life.”

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Truer words have never been spoken, except this week we can now add, “Really? Another one?” to the list.

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It’s really easy to get bogged down by all the bad, sad and stressful things happening in our lives and society today, especially for teens.

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But fear not friends! It is now easier than ever to just sit back, take a deep breath and take 10 minutes to watch cute dogs interacting with babies on YouTube, or listen to a silly song from your childhood that always makes you smile or going to a favorite website that always makes you laugh. Not only will these things put you in a better mood, even for a little bit, but they will improve your work ethic in completing those tasks. Who knows? You may even produce some of your best work!

As I am typing this post, I have a gif of corgi dogs on a treadmill on repeat in my view and honestly, that is my equivalent of “Just Keep Swimming” from Finding Nemo right now.

So here are some suggestions for pick-me-ups when you’re feeling down, stuck, or on the struggle bus.

-As posted above, searching for “Babies and Dogs” or “Babies and Animals” on Google or YouTube will give you so many fun options for smiling, laughing and awwww-ing. I personally suggest videos that are at least five minutes long to really take advantage of the cuteness and to keep lifting up your mood.

-“Dude Perfect” is an option to just watch people doing cool things. Each video has more than 10 million views and they do a lot of fun and funny stuff. The video below is of the guys with the GOAT Serena Williams doing cool tennis tricks and being goofy. It’s wonderful.

-Personal anecdote — The day that my mom called me to tell me that my grandmother (her mom) had passed away, was a hard day. To help me get through it, I binge watched the show Arrested Development, one of my favorite shows that constantly makes me laugh. It helped me get through the day and I felt better about the situation. So grab a DVD or search for your favorite TV show that makes you smile, laugh, or even cry, and get sucked in for a bit.

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-For non-videos, the Onion is the best option out there. Take this Twitter post for example! Seriously, 90% of the website is like this. It’s instant smiles and laughs and is a no-brainer for a quick pick-me-up on a bad day. (

**Note: another option for great dog content is We Rate Dogs on Twitter. They are great.

-An option for a quick screen break is to pick up a children’s picture book . I know what you’re thinking. “I’m not a kid anymore! Why would I want to read a book for babies?” Here’s a possible reason why. Children’s picture books are pretty awesome if you want a quick escape into a fun world away from a screen. Also, the diversity of children’s books has increased so much within the past few years that finding a book that YOU want to read is as easy as ever. Here are some of my personal faves from when I was kid and now.

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I hope that these tips for improving your mood, and brightening your day have helped a bit. I know that some of this stuff is silly and some of the stuff that you might be wanting do might be labeled as “silly” or “a guilty pleasure” as well. Honestly, though, if you like it and it makes you feel good, and doesn’t hurt other around you, then take a deep breath, find your zen Corgis running on treadmills gif, and GO FOR IT!


#Capture Kindness: Week 13

Last week’s challenge was to be kind to your friends. You’re probably thinking “Uh, duh, of course I’m nice to my friends,” but are you *kind*? Sometimes, we take our friends for granted. We figure they know we like them because, if we didn’t like them, we wouldn’t spend time with them. But, do they really know it? Have you told them recently. Yes, it’s sometimes hard and weird to tell people you care about them. And, maybe they tease you back because they’re also uncomfortable talking about feelings. But, I guarantee that hearing that someone loves them makes their day.

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If you don’t wanna just be all “I love you, man!” to your buds, you can always show them that you care about them through your actions instead. Listen when they talk. Take them seriously. Don’t laugh at someone who’s talking about something that means a lot to them. Keep your promises. Keep their secrets. Don’t hide their phone. Share your cookies. Stick by them. Tell them when their tag is out or theirs is doing that funny stick-up-in-the-back thing. Pay them compliments. Encourage them in their art or sport or whatever their Thing is. Help them do the Thing. Support them. Forgive them. Apologize when you hurt them. It matters.

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This past week, I had the opportunity to help two friends in need. They both had some heavy stuff happening in their lives. One friends needed to talk and work out some things, and I was happy to help them with that. The other friend needed some distraction from her woes so we went to brunch and did some shopping and talked about other things. And I was just as happy to help in this way. In different ways, I showed them that I care about them and that their feelings and needs are important to me. I hope they both feel comforted by the time we spent together.

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Next week will be the LAST #Capture Kindness post. This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, so I’ll post about that next week.  Until then, keep up the kindness!




#Capture Kindness: Week 12

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Welcome back, readers! Last week’s challenge was to be kind to seniors. If you don’t have grandparents or other older relatives living nearby, you might have had to get creative.

As I live with my elderly father, this one was super-easy for me. “Kindness to seniors” is a daily thing for me. My dad is 83 and has some memory and mobility issues, so I regularly help him stay organized and make sure he eats well, takes his medications, and does the things he needs to do. I do his laundry and clean up when he forgets to. However, I confess, I also sometimes get really frustrated with him. It can be hard to live with an aging parent. (I’m sure it’s hard on him, too.)  When that happens, and especially during this week of kindness, I remind myself that he can’t help his memory lapses; he’s doing the best he can and that’s really all I can ask of him. And that helps me keep things in perspective and treat him with more empathy and compassion.

And, really, that’s what kindness is all about – remembering that everyone you meet has a background that you know nothing about and reasons for doing that things that they do. Give them the benefit of the doubt and give them a smile. It might be the first one they’ve seen all day.

Keep the kindness flowing!


Fun with Fandoms: Wednesday, Feb 14

Need a place to discuss fandoms with new people? Fret no more! Fun with Fandoms is on Wednesday, the 14th this month! To celebrate it falling on Valentine’s Day, we’ll also have the card game, Slash, available to play!

Slash is a game similar to Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, but the point is to create the best (or funniest!) pairings! What better way to celebrate fandoms on Valentines Day than the ultimate fandom fascination… SHIPPING!!???!!

Also quick note, Fun with Fandoms will be taking a short break in the spring and will not be returning again until June! So don’t worry; this isn’t the last meeting! We’ll see you again in the summer.