Homeschooling Teen

Be Somebody...Be Yourself 



Homeschooling Teen Profile: Willow Tufano


College-Bound: Grace College


New Column! "His Story, His World," by Aubrey


New Column! "The Razor's Edge," by Madeleine


Libbi's Nonfiction Book Review: "Made to Crave for Young Women"


Bookshelf of a (Maybe) Teen Author: "Howl's Moving Castle"


Catherine's Column: by Catherine


The Sports Report: by Caela


Your Fashion Signature: by MaryssaJoy


Anime Review: by Xbolt


Game Review: by Josh


Joke of the Month: by Jon


Cartoon: "Know Brainz," by Savanna and Devin


Homeschooling High School: "Homeschool to Grad School"  

Career-of-the-Month: Lawyer


E-Mail Etiquette: Tip-of-the-Month


And much more!!!





College Bound 

Preparing For College - ACT & SAT Information  

Now is the time for high school juniors - especially if they dream of attending a highly selective college - to start thinking about taking the SAT and/or ACT. Besides good transcripts and letters of recommendation, entrance exams are an important part of the admission process. While some colleges have waived these tests as a requirement, many colleges and universities still rely heavily on SAT and ACT scores to help in admissions decisions. A typical applicant to a competitive college might boast section scores in the upper 20s for the ACT and above 600 for the SAT.  

  Read more by clicking
Sponsored in part by
Sylvan SAT/ACT® Prep can help you prepare.  
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 Recycling Symbol




savvy [sav-ee]


Noun - shrewdness and practical knowledge, esp. in politics or business ("The financiers lacked the necessary political savvy.")


Verb - to know or understand ("The man growled, 'Don't ever date my daughter again - you savvy?")


Adjective - shrewd and knowledgeable in the realities of life; experienced and well-informed ("She was quite a savvy woman.")


Origin:1775-85; Spanish sabe, present 3rd singular of saber "to know"


See if you can find the word "savvy" used elsewhere in this issue!



April is...


National Poetry Month  


National Garden Month


Keep America Beautiful Month  


National Kite Month  


Confederate Heritage Month  


National Humor Month  


Stress Awareness Month  


Autism Awareness Month  


Zoo and Aquarium Month   




April Fools Day (April 1)


National Week of the Ocean (April 1-7)  


International Children's Book Day (April 2)


Passover (April 6-14)  


Easter (April 8)


National Library Week (April 8-14)


National Volunteer Week (April 15-21)


National Park Week (April 21-29)


Earth Day (April 22)


National Playground Safety Week (April 22-28)  


Arbor Day (April 27)


Internet Evangelism Day (April 29)


National Screen-Free Week (April 30-May 6)


Click here for more April days:




Tell us about your favorite homeschool-friendly college, and we will feature it in an upcoming issue!    


E-mail Etiquette Tip of the Month


Refrain from formatting e-mail with colored text, background colors or images in your day to day communications. Your color and formatting choices can make your e-mails impossible to read. In addition, formatting could make your e-mails difficult to reply to without having to go through a procedure to convert your e-mail to plain text first. Many times when folks go to reply they have to deal with the formatting carrying over to their reply - which makes communicating with you unnecessarily more difficult.

If you do feel the uncontrollable need to use any type of formatting in your daily communications, please do so sparingly.


This E-mail Etiquette Tip is provided as a courtesy by:  






"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." ~Albert Einstein




Learn more about  famous homeschoolers at



We want to hear from you! If you are involved with an amazing project, volunteer in your community, have a special interest that you're passionate about, possess a unique skill, talent or ability, or have accomplished something positive and extraordinary for a person your age or in your situation - be sure to tell us about it and we will feature you in our magazine!  





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MOVIE QUOTE - Can you guess what movie this quote came from?


Once-ler: "Unless someone like you cares an awful lot, things aren't going to get better. They're not."
Ted: "You do know that you are talking in rhyme, don't you?"



(Answer: The Lorax)


Stepping Stones, by Michaela Popielski





So, for this month's devotion, I didn't quite know what to write about so I thought I'll go free hand with this one so to speak. One thing that I've been thinking about is music and how it affects our lives, moods and over all view of life. This may sound similar to my sister's blog but I've been chewing on this for a while. I can't remember if I've written on this subject before, but from what I'm feeling as I type this, I think I am on the right track. Last night I was trying to sleep and couldn't. I tried everything, even listening to worship music. The worship music was the only thing that calmed me down. I still come couldn't sleep till about 1 but it got me thinking about how what we watch and listen to effect us.


The saying "The eyes are the window to the soul," is so true. We may not feel effects now but we might eventually. I'm not saying secular music is bad. It all depends on the question if you let it effect you. I know some people who listen to only worship music and that's what works for them. Me, I listen to a mix. I limit my secular music to a certain amount but I still listen to it. Though, modern day secular artists, in my opinion can't hold a candle to Bands such as Hillsong, Unhindered, Flyleaf and Skillet. Which my 3 year old niece likes. How cool is that? Anyway, back to subject. What I am trying to say is, music literally can make you a different person. Like say Evanescence. I've heard a few of their songs and I like them (the band) but I almost never listen to them. Basically I have my boundaries set and I don't want to change them. Evanescence can make you depressed. The singer's voice and the lyrics combined, from my perspective, can either make you thoughtful or depressed. At times both. I'm not telling what to listen to and what not to. That's between you, God, and probably your parents.


How we manage our media intake can effect our families as well as us. Even though you are the one listening to the music, they need to figure out how to handle your mood. If you have one. On some people, Evanescence and similar bands don't even have an effect. It's a heart/soul issue. When I was addicted to reality crime shows and my heart was literally being hardened and I was thinking about how to get away with a crime, I talked to my parents and they both said I was worrying them. That hurt me but I said that I wasn't serious. Finally when I was telling my mom I thought I was having trouble sleeping because of my crime shows. She agreed and told me to ask myself something, "Is this what Jesus and his friends would watch on a Friday night?" I was thinking about it and realized I was thinking about and watching exactly what He despised. Murder, robbery, pain and greed. I turned on some worship music to calm my nerves and almost instantaneous, started crying. And I mean, crying. I hadn't realized how hardened I had become to that stuff. (I had been watching crime shows for about 2 or 3 years.) But that's a different subject. Or is it? It's still media.


Media has a bigger effect on our lives than ever. Though I'm pretty sure we have all noticed it. They've even went beyond some boundaries on the radio. What I don't get is that they allow some profanity that according to them isn't bad as long as there is nothing else. Aren't they all the same thing though regardless? Cussing? Each word is just as bad as the other. Most lyrics don't only have profanity. I've had to turn off the radio countless times due to content besides language. Like I said, I don't listen to secular music all the time but when I do I usually listen closely and try to pick out the lyrics and I've found it's easier to pick out stuff the closer I get with God.


It breaks my heart seeing what reality is becoming. It's almost made me want to go back to the early days. I Love Lucy or Happy Days anyone? Try to imagine this, if the media is bad now then what is it going to be like for our future kids? And I'm not just talking about crime shows. Almost any show now is dirty or bad in someway. My nieces can't even watch Nickelodeon anymore due to that stuff. I guess as I finish this paragraph I want you guys to ask yourselves two questions: 1.) "How is this affecting me now compared to before?" and 2.) "Would Jesus join me in watching this?" I guess that concludes this month's devotional sermon.


Until next time,



Apr. 1 - Rom. 4:17, Rom.8:12, Isa.6

Apr. 2 - Phil.4:8, Rev.17, Hosea 6

Apr. 3 - Luke 18:1-14, Ps.199: 25, 32

Apr. 4 - Ps.36

Apr. 5 - Isa. 25, John 4:27- 38

Apr. 6 - Acts 8:26-40, Rev. 18

Apr. 7 - John 11:35, 1 Thess. 2:12, Mark 4:38, 5:38

Apr. 8 - Isa. 7, Titus 2:11-15, Eph. 4:11-16

Apr. 9 - Gen.24 Hosea 7,

Apr. 10 - John 13:1-17, John 16:5-16

Apr. 11 - Acts 4:23-37, 1 Cor. 2:6-16

Apr. 12 - 1 Cor. 9:19-23, 1 Cor. 14, Rev.19

Apr. 13 - 1 Cor. 15-16

Apr. 14 - 2 Cor. 2:5-11, Heb.9:11-28

Apr. 15 - 2 Cor. 2:12-17, Rev. 20

Apr. 16 - 2 Kings 5

Apr. 17 - 2 Cor. 2:5-6 Isa. 6

Apr. 18 - Hosea 8, John 15:1-17

Apr. 19 - Isa.7

Apr. 20 - Rev.21, Isa. 8

Apr. 21 - Ps. 150, 56

Apr. 22 - John 15:18-27

Apr. 23 - Hosea 9

Apr. 24 - Philemon 1, Isa.9

Apr. 25 - 1 John 4:1-6

Apr. 26 - Gen 26, Rev.22

Apr. 27 - Amos 4, John 3:16-17

Apr. 28 - Micah 4:1-5, 6

Apr. 29 - Ps.37

Apr. 30 - Isa. 9




Laughter, Tears, and Our Teen Years

By McKennaugh Kelly


April makes us all think of spring, doesn't it? And spring usually makes us think of gardens-and gardens make me think of my mother, who makes me think of anything eco. Okay, now you know where this article's going.


In Pennsylvania, you can't really plant until after May, or else your garden will be a big heap of poor little wilted, frosted plants. Even so, Mom gets all excited about growing things in March. Or February. My mom loves to plant things. Only problem is we don't really have a working garden. And when you don't have a garden, it's sorta hard to plant anything. I mean, Mom will go out and buy 35 packets of seeds (organic ones, of course--she's eco!) and not have anywhere to plant them. No kidding! She gets spring fever and somehow thinks a good garden will appear for her to put her seeds in. So, we have this giant box of expired seed in our cupboard. Whenever she does get around to planting, she plants around our oak tree. Do you know oak trees put out poison that kills plants? They do. So we pick the one tomato that the oak tree didn't kill and thank God for the tiny bite we grew. Each year Mom says it will be better and something will grow (I mean 35 seed packets should grow something!) It's like she's insisting that the oak tree will show kindness to our seedlings after 11 years. This spring, we're sick of our poor plants dying. We're not in the city-far from it (we live on ten acres!!) so why don't we clear a garden plot?


We live on a cliff. Well, almost.


Like the biggest hill you can imagine. A nightmare hill. That's problem one. And to make matters worse, anything slightly flat is all wooded. And Mom's a treehugger. My brothers are even bigger treehuggers than my Mom. And me? You can guess. Coming from a family that loves trees so much, I'm doomed to be the same. But my dad is different. He can hack a tree over without an ounce of feeling. At least when you put mom and dad together, they balance each other out, you know?


Anyway, finally we all broke down and decided this year we needed a garden. A real garden. We took to chopping some trees down, mostly shrubby ones. We cut them and burned them in a big heap. (Yeah, burning isn't eco, but we refused to drag them a hundred yards to our brush pile and finally "Eco Mom" gave in, because she didn't want to pull them all by herself.) We got the place all cleared, besides the big ones that we all silently knew had to come down, as well. Unless, of course you know of a new kind of tomato that came out and requires full shade.


So we sadly looked up at the over-a-hundred-feet-tall ash trees (four of them-oops, five, I forgot to count Mr. Ancient Oak Tree. We don't feel too bad for him, after all he is a killer). Could we cut them down? Nevin, age eight, was heartbroken. Not to mention the rest of us. (Besides Dad who had a chainsaw in hand and a wonderful look of glee on his face.)


If we wanted a garden there, the trees would have to go, though. And we all agreed our awesome (sniffle) ash trees and not so awesome Mr. Ancient Oak Tree needed to be chopped.


But there was also the problem of the three thorn trees we were partial to. (I know, you're thinking THORN TREES? WHAT NEXT?)


I said, "Let's cut them, we need a garden."

Nevin looks devastated.

You know how Dad looks.


And Mom says, "Okay, it's time for a change, but I'm going to say goodbye to them and thank them for being such good trees."


Now I'm feeling sad. I mean, come on, go tell a tree that you're thankful that they were so good, then cut them down and throw them in a bonfire??? Not my idea of thankfulness. I told Mom that she could say goodbye, but I, for one, was staying inside. I didn't need to go talk to a tree and apologize for killing it. It's the same thing as going to your neighbor's and saying, "You know what, you were a really good person, but I want the piece of ground you live on. I'm sorry--however, I'm gonna burn you up."


So Mom and Nevin go out to tell the trees all their little sentimental tree things and later when I go out of the porch, the thorn trees are gone and burned. (Dad must have been jumping for joy!)


And so, maybe (just maybe) we'll have a garden this year.

We plan to cut the huge ash trees this weekend.

We plan to, I remind you. But with my treehugging family, plans change.


Have a great April and may you not have to shed too many tears over thorn trees.




McKennaugh Kelley is fifteen years old. She lives in Troy, Pennsylvania with a handful of crazy, creative, but mostly wonderful little brothers.



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5 Green Activities for Teens


Ideally, it's up to the younger generation to make sure that the earth's future is a promising one. That said, it's important to teach children about sustainability as soon as possible. If your child is now in his or her teen years, it's still not too late. There are tons of fun, age appropriate green activities to help your child become a more eco-conscious person. For my personal top five, continue reading below.


1. Cook an Organic Feast

One of the easiest ways for your teen to learn about organic foods and sustainable dining is to simply cook or prepare a meal using organic and environmentally-friendly products, such as free-range beef and chicken and organic vegetables and dairy products. While eco-products can be found in the local grocery store, to make it more of an overall "experience" your teen can go and pick out fresh produce from the local farmer's market. The meal can then be consumed at home or packaged for a "green picnic"-make sure your teen refrains from using disposable dishware and is adamant about cleaning all of his or her trash. If there is surrounding trash left by others, your teen can move one step further and pick up/recycle their trash as well. Your teen will simultaneously learn about conservation as well as healthy, green eating.


2. Plant a Garden

Planting a garden-no matter if it's an herb or vegetable garden- is one of the more enjoyable hands-on green activities for most teens. If you don't have access to a backyard, an indoor garden can suffice. Help your teen pick out some seasonal seeds (if planting a garden go for perennials like kale and arugula since they'll "re-seed" themselves) and plant a garden using homemade compost.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows consumers how to make homemade compost using two different methods. If a garden seems like it might be too much work, planting trees at a local park (or even in your front or back yard) can be an alternative. Either way, your teen's efforts will help bring more oxygen into the air and help remove toxins and other pollutants.


3. Participate in Restoration Project

If there is a particular body of water that seems to collect trash, such as a beach, lake, creek, or even bayou, encourage your teen to take the initiative and help beautify it once again. These projects are typically on the larger scale and work better with a medium-sized group of people, so try to see if your child's friends or other people in the community are interested in participating. Not only will your teen help save the planet, but it's also something he or she can put on a college application or resume. To make it more of a "formal" project, your teen can become a certified apprentice ecologist through the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative- an organization that awards scholarships to teens who make the most powerful impact. 


4. Host a Yard Sale-or a Clothing Swap

Eating hormone -free meats and growing pesticide-free vegetables aren't the only ways to help protect the earth, your teen's wardrobe can play a big part too. Most factories use harsh chemicals to produce clothes. While purchasing clothes made of only organic cottons, "peace" silk, or non-mulesed wool for example is a great way to reduce the environmental footprint clothes can have on Mother Earth, these types of clothes can get expensive. Instead, your teen can start on a smaller scale by hosting a yard sale so that others can use your teen's recycled clothes-the money earned can then be donated to an organization that specializes in conservation and sustainability (or applied to a college fund).  If your teen is looking for some new threads, he or she can also participate in a "clothes swap" with other teens in the neighborhood-everyone gets some new items, don't have to use money, and are reducing their carbon footprint.


5. Go on Various Field Trips

Knowledge is power. That said, it's important that your teen understands how things work so he or she can really give-back and help sustain the environment. Otherwise, your teen will just be going through the motions.  A good way to see how thing operate and affect the planet is to encourage your teen to take an afternoon to explore a landfill, take a tour at an organic or dairy farm, or even observe a green hotel or nursery.  Wherever your teen decides to visit, make sure they use an eco-transportation method, such as the bus or carpool with some friends.


These are just a few activities that can help your teen do his or her part to save the planet. Do you have any more?


By-line: Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031







/know brainz/






By Devin and Savannah Hicks



Anime Reviews by Xbolt


 Anime Review - Lain


Serial Experiments Lain


When I started watching Serial Experiments Lain, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I only barely glimpsed at the overview before starting. (I actually picked this one up because the name just sounds cool, and so is the cover art.)


From the cover art, I thought this might be a horror anime. "Boo haha," that kind of thing. I was very, very wrong.


While not horrifying in the sense I was thinking of, Lain definitely is very, very disturbing. Lain is both psychological and philosophical, much like the infamous final two episodes of NGE. But Lain is much better than those. It's still a nightmare for your brain to process all the information that is presented, but I think with a second viewing, I would be able to understand it a lot more. But I'm going to wait at least a couple months to let my brain cool down before I do that. Or maybe I shouldn't have watched it all in one day. Watch one, then think about what happened for a day, then watch the next one... Yeah, that would have been a better approach. Oh well.


Anyway, yeah. Lain is disturbing. The atmosphere presented in the show is... Hmm... I'm having trouble coming up with suitable adjectives to describe it, besides just disturbing... The word "suffocating" comes to mind. The colors seem washed out, as if somebody turned up the contrast very high. The sound and music is very minimal, often simply the electricity humming in the Wires, or the empty clacking of a keyboard. And those shadows... Brrr...


If you want an anime where you don't have to think too hard, Lain is not for you. If you want an uplifting, happy story that's fun, Lain is not for you. If you want a bleak, confusing anime dealing with issues around technology and human consciousness, Lain is for you. Even so, I really did like Lain.




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Game Review


Dino D-Day Game Review 


Dino D-Day, a Review by Josh


Dinosaurs exist and the Nazis have them!


Dino D-Day is a multiplayer shooter game in which dinosaurs walk the earth once again, made into ferocious weapons by Adolf Hitler. You can play as either side. The Allies have six playable characters, each with unique weapons and abilities. As an Axis player you will have your choice of three human classes and six dinosaur classes.


Dinosaurs include: Velociraptor, Desmatosuchus, Dilophosaurus, Dtygimoloch, Compsognathus, Microraptor, Protoceratops, Styracosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus Rex. "Trigger" (protoceratops) is a dinosaur that the Americans found and have working on their side. Non-playable dinosaurs include: Pterosaurs, Brachiosaurus, and Triceratops.


Dino D-Day has several different game modes: Deathmatch, Control Point, King of the Hill, and Objective.


Deathmatch is the classic online multiplayer mode. Teams compete against one another for the most kills. A round ends when the team's frag limit is reached (set by the server). The map then resets for the next round.

An alternate team Deathmatch mode appears on certain T-Rex maps. In this mode, each team competes for the frag limit but Axis side will have a T-Rex. T-Rex kills are worth 3 points. T-Rex is selected randomly from the Axis players. When that T-Rex dies, a new player is selected and so on until the round ends.


Control Point has the teams battling over strategic points in the map. The first team to control all points wins the round.

King of the Hill teams compete to control an area at the center of the map. Players must occupy the hill to capture it (time specified by the server). When a team captures the hill their timer begins to go down. They must defend the hill and prevent the opposing team from recapturing the hill. The round ends when the winning team's timer reaches zero. The map will then reset for the next round.


Objective is a game mode where the Allies are trying to blow stuff up, and must successfully plant five bomb satchels on a target to destroy it. The satchels can be defused by Axis players. 


In another Objective mode, the Allies start by trying to capture two MG42 nests that flank an old fortress. If the Allies succeed, the Axis team has one last chance to win the round: one player on the Axis team is selected to play as a Styracosaur - a huge dinosaur with a turret on its back. To win the round, the Styracosaur must reach the goal on the far side of the map. The Allies must try to stop him.


The Dino D-Day developers have a clever sense of humor as indicated by how they do the WWII-style propaganda posters, newspaper headlines, radio broadcasts, and lines said by the characters. The game uses real WWII music, too, like German marching songs. All of these things combined make for an authentic but light-hearted atmosphere.


When the game was first released, it wasn't very good. But they've since put a lot more time into it and they released an enormous update at the end of last year. Now it's much better, and lots more fun to play. I just wish they had a single player campaign, although I hear they may be working on one.


The game is rated T (Teen), and it's available on Steam for only $10. Visit the Dino D-Day website at or watch the trailer here:    






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The Sports Report, by Caela


Tim Tebow a New York Jet


Tim Tebow is no longer a Denver Bronco. Tim was traded to the New York Jets because the Broncos signed Peyton Manning from the Indiana Colts. Tim will be the backup quarterback to Mark Sanchez. During Tim's press conference he said that he was very excited to be playing in New York. He also said that he is very blessed to have an opportunity to play in such a great city like New York. Well good luck to Tim on however many games he gets to play and good luck on next season. Tim don't stop doing what you're doing, because you are such an inspiration to me and a lot of other people. Keep giving all the glory to God, and having such a great and uplifting attitude. God Bless!


March Madness


March Madness is the playoffs for college basketball. There are four divisions with 16 teams in each division. The divisions are the South, East, West, and Midwest. There is seven different stages of March Madness, stage one is the First round. In the first round two teams that are tied in each division play each other to see who gets to move on to the second round. In the second round the top 16 teams from each division play each other till there are only eight teams per division. Round three works the same way as round two but there is only eight teams and the play till there is only four teams left per division. Round 4 (Sweet 16 or Regional Semifinals) is the last 16 teams of the whole National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) four per division. Round 5 (Elite 8 or Regional Finals) is the same as sweet 16 where there is 8 teams over all, two per division. The next stage is the Final Four which is when the best team from each division plays each other. The finals of March Madness is the National Championship game and this game decides who win the NCAA National Championship title.


South Teams: 1 University of Kentucky (UK), 2 Duke, 3 Baylor, 4 Indiana (IND), 5 Wichita State (WICH ST), 6 University of Nevada at Los Vegas (UNLV), 7 Notre Dame (N DAME), 8 Iowa State (IOWA ST), 9 University of Connecticut (UCONN), 10 Xavier, 11 Colorado (COLO), 12 Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), 13 New Mexico State (NM ST), 14 South Dakota State (SDAK ST), 15 Lehigh, and 16 West Kentucky (W KY).


West Teams: 1 Michigan State (MICH ST), 2 Missouri University (MIZZOU), 3 Marquette (MARQ), 4 Louisville (LOUIS), 5 New Mexico (N MEX), 6 Murray State (MURRAY), 7 Florida (FLA), 8 Memphis (MEM), 9 St. Louis University (SLU), 10 University of Virginia (UVA), 11 Colorado State (CO ST), 12 Long Beach State University (LBSU), 13 Davidson (DAVID), 14 Brigham Young University (BYU), 15 Norfolk State University (NORFLK), and 16 Long Island University (LIU).


East Teams: 1 Syracuse (SYR), 2 Ohio State (OHIO ST), 3 Florida State University (FSU), 4 Wisconsin (WISC), 5 Vanderbilt (VANDY), 6 Cincinnati (CINCY), 7 Gonzaga (GONZ), 8 Kansas State (KAN ST), 9 Southern Mississippi (S MISS), 10 West Virginia University (WVU), 11 Texas, 12 Harvard (HARV), 13 Montana (MONT), 14 St. Bonaventure (ST. BONA), 15 Loyola University Maryland (LOY MD) and 16 University of North Carolina Asheville (UNC A).


Midwest Teams: 1 University of North Carolina (UNC), 2 Kansas, 3 Georgetown (GTOWN), 4 Michigan (MICH), 5 Temple, 6 San Diego State University ( SDSU), 7 Saint Mary's (STMARY), 8 Creighton (CREIGH), 9 Alabama (ALA), 10 Purdue, 11 North Carolina State ( NC ST), 12 University South Florida (USF), 13 Ohio, 14 Belmont (BELMNT), 15 Detroit (DET), and 16 Vermont (VERMNT).


First Round


South: West Kentucky and Mississippi Valley University were tied for 16th place so they had to play each other to see who would be in March Madness. West Kentucky beat Mississippi Valley 59-58.


West: BYU and Iona College were tied for 14th place so they played each other and BYU beat Iona College 78-72. So BYU went on to March Madness.


Midwest: Vermont and Lamar were tied for 16th place. Vermont beat Lamar 71-59 so Vermont went on to March Madness.  USF and California University were for tied 12th place USF beat California move on to March Madness.


Second Round


South: 1 UK beat 16 W KY 81-68, 15 LEHIGH beat 2 DUKE 75-70, 3 BAYLOR beat 14 SDAK ST 68-60, 4 IND beat 13 NM ST 79-66, 12 VCU beat 5 WICH ST 62-59, 11 COLO beat 6 UNLV 68-64, 10 XAVIER beat 7 N DAME 67-63, and 8 IOWA ST beat 9 UCONN 77-64.


West: 1 MICH ST beat 16 LIU 89-67, 15 NORFLK beat 2 MIZZOU 86-64, 3 MARQ beat 14 BYU 88-68, 4 LOUIS beat DAVID 69-62, 5 N MEX beat 12 LBSU 75-68, 6 MURRAY beat 11 CO ST 58-41, 7 FLA beat 10 UVA 71-45, and 9 SLU beat 8 MEM 89-67.


East: 1 SYR beat 16 UNC A 72-65, 2 OHIO ST beat 15 LOY MD 78-59, 3 FSU beat 14 STBONA 66-63, 4 WISC beat 13 MONT 73-49, 5 VANDY beat 12 HARV 79-70, 6 CINCY beat 11 TEXAS 65-59, 7 GONZ beat 10 WVU 77-54, and 8 KAN ST beat S MISS 70-64.


Midwest: 1 UNC beat 16 VERMNT 77-58, 2 KANSAS beat 15 DET 65-50, 3 GTOWN beat 14 BELMNT 74-59, 13 OHIO beat 4 MICH 65-60, 12 USF beat 5 TEMPLE 58-44, 11 NC ST beat 6 SDSU 79-65, 10 PURDUE beat 7 STMARY'S 72-69, and 8 CREIGH beat 9 ALA 58-57.

In the second round the biggest upsets were S: 15 LEHIGH over 2 DUKE; W: 15 NORFLK over 2 MIZZOU, and MD: 13 OHIO over 4 MICH.


Third Round


South: 1 UK beat 8 IOWA ST 87-71, 4 IND beat 12 VCU 63-61, 3 BAYLOR beat 11 COLO 80-63, and 10 XAVIER beat 15 LEHIGH 70-58.

West: 1 MICH ST beat 9 SLU 65-61, 4 LOUIS beat 5 N MEX 59-56, 3 MARQ beat 6 MURRAY 62-53, and 7 FLA beat 15 NORFLK 84-50.

East: 1 SYR beat 8 KAN ST 75-58, 4 WISC beat 5 VANDY 60-57, 6 CINCY beat 3 FSU 62-56, and 2 OHIO ST beat 7 GONZ 73-66.

Midwest: 1 UNC beat 8 CREIGH 87-73, 13 OHIO beat 12 USF 62-56; 11 NC ST beat 3 GTOWN 66-63, and 2 KANSAS beat 10 PURDUE 63-60.

In the third round the biggest upsets were E: 6 CINCY over 3 FSU and MD: 11 NC ST over 3 GTOWN.


Sweet 16


South Regional Semifinals: 1 UK beat 4 IND 102-90, and 3 BAYLOR beat 10 XAVIER 75-70.

West Regional Semifinals: 4 LOUIS beat 1 MICH ST 57-44, and 7 FLA beat 3 MARQ 68-58.

East Regional Semifinals: 1 SYR beat 4 WISC 64-63, and 2 OHIO ST beat 6 CINCY 81-66.

Midwest Regional Semifinals: 1 UNC beat 13 OHIO, and 2 KANSAS beat 11 NC ST 60-57.


In the fourth round (Sweet 16 or Regional Semifinals) the biggest upsets were W: 4 LOUIS over 1 MICH ST, and 7 FLA over 3 MARQ.


Elite 8


South Regional Finals: 1 UK beat 3 BAYLOR 82-70.

West Regional Finals: 4 LOUIS beat 7 FLA 72-68.

East Regional Finals: 2 OHIO ST beat 1 SYR 77-70

Midwest Regional Finals: 2 KANSAS beat 1 UNC 80-67.


In the fifth round (Elite 8 or Regional Finals) biggest upset E: 2 OHIO ST over 1 SYR.


Final Four


The first game of the final four was 1 UK VS 4 LOUIS. UK outplayed LOUIS the whole game. In the first half UK scored 35 over LOUIS 28. The second half UK scored 34 points over LOUIS 33 points. The final score was 69-61. So UK advanced to the National Championship Game. The second game of the final four was 2 OHIO ST VS 2 KANSAS. OHIO ST dominated in the first half 34 point to the 25 points KANSAS scored. The second half was a different story until the final minutes. KANSAS came back to win the game by two points. If you ask me I would call KANSAS the Secretariat of College Basketball. So KANSAS will play UK for the National Championship.    

National Championship Game


The final game of the season was between UK and KANSAS. The first half UK scored 41 points over KANSAS 27 points, but the second half KANSAS scored 32 over the 26 points scored by UK. In the end KANSAS could not pull off a win so UK won the National Championship 67-59. Anthony Davis from UK was named Player of the Year. He was also named the winner of the 2010 Naismith Trophy. Well good luck to all the teams next year and congratulations to the University of Kentucky.



Your Fashion MaryssaJoy




Dressing for....(your name here)


 What's your body shape? For Women Only


"Put on your Sunday clothes when you feel down and out!"


"You don't have to make a fashion statement every day, but you do want to appear put together and look your absolute best."




The easiest and most functional way to shop is to pick out your clothing according to body type.


In my "Wardrobe Basics" article I talked about how quickly I was able to find a pair of flattering pair of jeans because I had a checklist of what that pair of jeans had to have before I even tried it on! No more spending hours at the store and still not finding something you're excited about! Let's just get to it so you can find out how you can efficiently look good every day!


Many people have a different idea of the few names and shapes that characterize women's body types. I've looked at many but these are the most common and easy to relate to. Try and find out which one most describes you (with the visual it should be easy to remember which you are). You don't need to read every one; it might be a good idea just to focus on yours. ;D


The Rectangle


"Currently this shape is the "ideal" shape for today's top models."




~Full neck

~Broad back

~Average bust                                          

~Undefined waist

~A balanced figure                   

~Great legs and arms




You might be a Rectangle if:


There is little difference between measurements of your waist chest and hips, you have a bust that is between small and medium size, your hips are square, your backside is flat, you are blessed with long arms and lengthy legs, when you gain weight it goes to your tummy and thighs.


Balance is always our goal and since you already have that, all we need to do is create the appearance of a curvier waist and backside to enhance your femininity, and draw our focus to your great legs and thighs.


To Give the Illusion of Curves:

~Surplice/Wrap tops

~Scooped or V- neckline

~Underwire or padded bra

~ Jackets with a waist, or bias cut jackets that flare out from your waist to create instant hips.  

~Tops that are fitted and go in at the waist will help give the appearance of a curvier figure.

~A contoured waistband helps create curves

~Skirts that have a dropped waist

~Pencil Skirt

~A-Lined Skirt

~Flared skirt that gathers at the waist

~You have the best body type to pull off stilettos


Stay Away!

X vertical patterns and lines

X clinging and tightly fitted blouses

X short cropped jackets that end at your waist

X loose garments that do not show off your curves

X skirts, jeans, and pants that are high waisted.

X jeans with a straight cut (this will only emphasize your straight figure)


The Apple



~Fuller face and neck

~Broader shoulders

~Fuller chest                                                   

~Full and undefined waist 

~Narrow hips

~Flat backside

~Shapely legs




You might be an Apple if:


You have a softer fuller middle, full shapely chest, you have broader shoulders and upper arms with an undefined waist, you have thinner

hips and thighs, a flatter rear end, a tendency to gain weight in the midsection.


To Elongate Your Torso     

~Wrap Tops

~Fitted Tops (but nothing too tight)

~ V-Necks

~ A good bra

~ Empire, or raised waist

~ cami, or tank top, with a matching jacket

~ belted jackets

~ tops that are darker around the midsection, and with the pattern at the top to bring the eye up toward your chest and face, while diverting attention away from your middle

~shirts with a cinched waist

~A-line skirts                                

~Tulip skirts

~you can go crazy with bolder colors and patterns but keep them on your lower half                                                    


Tulip skirt                                                


Stay Away!   

Xtops that are too baggy

Xtops that have puffy or full sleeves

Xbold patterns, light colors or large checks above the waist

X Stay away from tapered pants (including skinny jeans)

X Avoid high waists


The Pear



~ A Long or slender neck               

~Sloping or narrow shoulders

~ Narrow back

~Small to medium bust

~Defined waist

~Curvy hips and backside

~Full thighs and calves


You might be a Pear if:


You have a slender face and neck, small to medium bust, well defined waist, the lower area (buttocks, hips, thighs and calves) are comparatively larger holding most of the weight.


The Pear is the most common shape among women. With the Pear shape we have to think about balance. We want to give the appearance of wider shoulders and bigger bust to help take the attention off the widest part of the body by bringing the eyes up. So in other words what you need to do is to over play your upper body and give your lower body a slimmer sleeker look. 


Do this by:

~using color on top                                

~wide neck lines

~accentuate your waist

~wear dark colors on the bottom.

~tops can be tight or loose!

~Go crazy with pattern prints and light, bright colors. Detailing or texture on top are great to balance out your bottom half.

~Puffy sleeves and tops that hug the shoulders ~wide-set straps will help to visually widen the chest and shoulders.

~Look for necklines that are scooped, draped, v'd, rounded or squared (any neckline that has a lower and wider neckline will look great)

~look for an under-wire or molded bras to help with balance

~A-line and flared skirts

~When choosing a dress, choose a dress with an empire waste or a wrap dress which will flow over your hips.

~Keep the prints on top and darker solid colors on the bottom


Stay Away!  

X Body-hugging skirts

X Full Skirts

X A dress with anything tight or bold on the bottom half

XTapered pants (skinny jeans)

X High waisted pants

XJackets that fall at the widest part of your hips

X Flashy belts


The Hourglass



~Symmetrical shoulders and hips

~Full, shapely bust                                           

~Distinctly defined waist

~Medium to broad hips that are in proportion with shoulders

~Shapely legs        


You Want to Emphasize:






Emphasize by wearing:

~ Surplice and wrap tops to accentuate your bust and waist

~Wear a bra with good support great fit

~Wear v neck tops to lengthen your upper body

~Wear jeans that have a slightly flared or wide leg

 ~Wear ¾ length or longer skirts with a slit to make you look taller    

("3/4 length skirts were all over the Fall runways."


Stay Away!

X anything that hides your beautiful curves and turn you into a shapeless line

X pants and tops that are too baggy; these will only give you a frumpy look

X straight lines in skirts, jackets, and jeans

X tops that have large prints, checks and stripes

X blouses with ruffles and lots of details around the bust area, this will only hide your great curves and make you look larger and out of proportion.

X skirts that are to short, these will only tend to make you look round and shorten your total look


Thank you for reading! More on body shapes next month. Jeans, accessories and swimsuits!




If you have any questions or comments please send them and your first name to with the words "style blog" contained in the title so I'll know to read it. I may use these in the blog sometime so write me!







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Copyright 2012 - Homeschooling Teen Magazine




April 2012


Welcome... Homeschooling Teen is a free e-zine for homeschooled high schoolers and young adult alumni. Published once a month, much of the content is written by our subscribers, and there are many opportunities for readers to participate - whether it's writing book or movie reviews, sending in original short stories and poems, or submitting other articles of interest. Additionally, in each issue we feature a profile of a Homeschooling Teen and a Homeschool Friendly College. Write to us at 

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Homeschooling Teen Profile: Willow Tufano

 Willow Tufano

"I am Willow Tufano. I am 14, and I own a MacBook Air, a paddleboard, a long board, a PlayStation 3, four ferrets, and I own a house."


Willow Tufano, a homeschooled 8th-grader who lives with her parents and two sisters in Port Charlotte, Florida, has already accomplished something that many adults dream of. While most teenagers are saving up for a used car or blowing their cash on clothing, movies, and electronics, this young lady made a more mature investment. She's a proud homeowner thanks to some hard work and a little help from mom. 


NPR first did a radio story about Willow on March 9, 2012. Since then, Willow has been interviewed on ABC News, CBS, CNN, Good Morning America, and she even appeared on the Ellen Show which aired on March 19, 2012. Willow told Ellen DeGeneres that she started out gathering items dumped on curbs in the area and reselling them for a profit.


"People throw things at the curb for garbage day," the teen said. "It's amazing the things they throw away. And I would buy things from garage sales and go to auctions. A lot of things were for free and I sort of look for good deals. I'm best at like selling electronics, video games, appliances, baby things." ("Baby things sell really well," she noted.)


Willow does her schoolwork online, and she also sells her found items on the internet, where she lists them on Craigslist and eBay. "And I don't just resell them," Willow stated. "If I have things for a while, I do curb alerts on Craigslist and give things away for free." It's a lot of work, but it's great that she is taking stuff that would end up in the landfill, cleaning it up, and finding a use for it.


The 14-year-old entrepreneur says that she would not be able to thrive in the resale business without the support of her parents and grandparents, who drive her around town and help her haul larger items. Willow's flexible schedule is an advantage in that it allows her to pounce on good deals right away. Moreover, it enabled her to cash into the housing market at an opportune time.


Willow's mother, Shannon Moore, is a real estate broker who owns several rental properties with her husband. Willow's grandmother, Roxanne Moore, is also in the real estate business together with her daughter. Though once a booming real estate market, Florida was severely affected by the housing collapse, and vacancies swept through the area. With a glut of repossessed property keeping house prices down, the two Moores began working with investors who wanted to bid on cheap, foreclosed homes.


When scouting out properties, Shannon often "brings along two of her three daughters, who are home-schooled." Shannon says that Willow, the middle of her three girls, is always thinking of some creative plan or how to do things differently. One day when Willow was tagging along with her mom, she went to a house that an investor wanted to flip. "It was filled with all kinds of stuff!" Willow exclaimed. "I was like, I can sell this stuff if he'd want to let me have it." That was fine with the investor, so Willow sold the appliances, furniture, and other possessions on Craigslist.


Realizing this was a good entrepreneurial opportunity, the business-savvy teen did the same thing with several other houses. She told the buyers that she would remove the household furnishings that were left behind if they'd let her keep the proceeds. Most buyers agreed to her plan. Willow was soon making about $500 a month. In a year and a half, she worked her way up to $6,000 in savings. At first Willow didn't know what she was saving for, but she wanted to put her money into something that would help it grow. Before long, an investment opportunity came up that seemed too good to resist.


Willow's mom, Shannon, had seen a two-bedroom concrete-block home on auction for $12,000. Zillow estimates that it would have been worth $100,000 at the peak of the housing market. Shannon was telling her husband about the house, when Willow piped up. "I was like, 'What if I bought a house?'" she told NPR News. "I'd be able to make money every month. I'd get rent. I wouldn't have to worry... That'd be really cool."


Florida requires a minimum age of 18 to own property, so Willow asked her mom if she'd be willing to team up with her to purchase the house. "I was taken aback," Shannon admitted about her daughter's sudden interest in buying a home. "It's a little bit crazy, she's only 14," Moore said, "but we didn't really see it as outrageous as everyone else does." Willow's dad wasn't too keen on the idea at first, but Willow explained why she wanted to do it and that she had a plan. "She convinced us it was a good idea," her mom said. "It's neat to see Willow come up with different strategies and ideas."


So mother and daughter bought the house together (technically it's 50% Willow's), with the teen planning on buying her mother out and putting her name on the title as soon as she turns 18. Built in 1959, the 669-square-foot concrete block structure may have been a good deal, but it was definitely a fixer-upper. The place looked "like there was a riot or something," Willow told NPR. "There was a roof on it, which was surprising. But there wasn't really any floor, there was glass everywhere, there was a dirty couch that had been flipped over, a dirty mattress, and a crib."


Willow and her family set to work cleaning the home, and ended up spending $15,000 on renovations. They fixed up the interior, including updating the kitchen. They painted the house inside and out, and replaced broken windows. A neighborhood family with a window business offered half off new windows for the house, and Willow repaid the favor by giving their daughter a longboard she had acquired in one of her transactions.


The house is now being rented by a young couple for $700 a month, and Willow helped them out by giving them a free mattress and bed for their new living space. Willow will split the rental income with her mom, and she will use that along with the proceeds from her resale business to buy out her mom's share and to pay her parents back for the renovations. Then Willow will keep the house as a source of income.


"It was definitely a lot of inspiration from my mom and my grandma," Willow said about her home-buying decision. Since they are realtors and property investors, Willow had an existing knowledge of the Florida housing market. And because her mother is a mortgage broker, Willow had an inside track to be able to navigate all the ins and outs of home ownership. Finally, she was able to see the big picture - the real estate market as a whole, and how her risk and hard work could turn into something very valuable.


Willow says her favorite subject is American history, but dislikes algebra because she is "really, really bad at math." However, her real estate venture "was a lesson in economics... and improving her math skills," her mother asserted. Willow is now considering saving for a second house - but she also has her sights set on going to college, getting a degree in business and marketing, and starting a career in investing. "I'm not so sure about real estate," Willow told ABC News. "But investing is really cool. You get to see a property that was a mess before and afterward see that it's beautiful."


Willow has received a lot of positive attention, but she and her mom also have to deal with angry comments about a young girl profiting from families losing their homes. While Willow's opportunities have come about as a result of tough economic times, and the thought of purchasing an evictee's home may be unpleasant, it wasn't her fault that the homeowners couldn't afford their mortgages or that they left their stuff behind. Likewise, Willow didn't turn from high school student to landlord without putting in a lot of hard work. As Willow told ABC News, "If you really work for it and put your mind to it you can do what you want to do."


Willow is not afraid to get her hands dirty - plus she is showing independence, ingenuity, and an entrepreneurial spirit. "In the area that I'm in," Willow observes, "people my age pretty much do drugs, smoke, and drink. I don't really support that." Her responsible ways of thinking and practical business sense provide hope that younger generations still have a chance to create a better future. But Willow argues that age is ultimately irrelevant: "'s just a number. If you can work towards a goal, whether buying house or a car, age doesn't matter. And if I inspire someone else my age or even older, it would be so cool."



Tony Tufano Thanks Granddaughter for Saving His Life


PORT CHARLOTTE, FL -- Willow Tufano, 14, the homeschooler who recently made national headlines for purchasing her own house, encouraged her grandfather to wear a helmet while riding his motorcycle because she was worried about his safety. "If you ride a motorcycle, you need a full face helmet no matter what. There are so many drunk drivers," she said.


Willow and her mother, Shannon Moore, are still in a state of shock after 72-year-old Anthony Tufano was run down by a drunk driver on March 22, 2012. Tufano was babysitting his youngest granddaughter, Iris, 7, that afternoon so Willow and her mom could go do an interview for a local FOX television affiliate. Tufano was returning home when he was hit by Matt Bush, a minor league pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays.


According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Bush hit the back of Tufano's motorcycle, causing Tufano to be thrown from the bike. Witnesses say the SUV then ran over Tufano before taking off. "Literally, the tire on the SUV ran over the driver's head. Without the helmet, the gentleman would have died instantly," said witness Scott Sugden. Willow's mom said when she spoke to Tufano, "The first thing he said to me is, 'Give Willow a hug and a kiss and tell her Grandpa thanks her.'" That was before he was placed in a medically induced coma.


The impact left Tufano in critical condition with numerous injuries including a fractured wrist, broken ribs, broken back, brain hemorrhaging, and a collapsed lung. Moore said, "He's definitely not out of the woods yet." The family wants everyone to know that Tufano is a very loving and caring man. Last year he lost his wife, but they say that hasn't stopped him from being a pivotal part of their lives every day. Tufano is an athlete, having run the Boston Marathon twice. "He's a real strong guy... so I'm hoping he'll pull through this," said Moore. Tufano's son Bernard added, "but it will be a long hard road to recovery."


Matt Bush was arrested on seven charges including driving under the influence and fleeing the scene of an accident. The FHP report said that Bush's blood alcohol level was .180, more than twice the legal limit. Bush, who has had multiple DUI-related charges and was driving with a suspended license, is being held on a $1.015 million bond because he is a "danger to the community" and a "flight risk." Bush told police he didn't remember seeing - or hitting - a motorcycle.


The family says they're still trying to make sense of it all. Tufano's son said he's angry with the Tampa Bay Rays "for inviting Matt Bush into my community" when they were aware of his problematic history. Willow Tufano, who wants her grandfather home soon, shakes her head in disbelief. "He ran, literally ran my grandpa over and ran his head over." She has a message for people like Bush: "If you make that much money, millions of dollars as a baseball player, just pay for a driver. Pay for a taxi if you're drunk." Let's pray that Willow's grandfather will be okay.



New Column!


"His Story, His World," by Aubrey


Hi! My name is Aubrey Tuggle, and I am a seventeen year old freshman. I am the oldest of three siblings under seven, so the house is never quiet! However, I still find time to pursue my hobbies of reading and writing. I would love to become a freelance writer, and am pursuing a writing career. 


Norman Rockwell


Norman Rockwell: The American Idealist


When people think of America, they think of many things. Some think of soda shops, hamburgers, and fries. Others think of hard work, family, and patriotic pride. Just about everyone thinks about Norman Rockwell. How can we help it? His paintings embody both ideas of America; the nostalgia and tradition, and the wholesome values and morality.


Rockwell's paintings, however, depict less of the reality of what America was, and more of an ideal Rockwell dreamed for America.


During World War I, for example, Rockwell painted many pictures of soldiers. These were not the uniformed men, however, that were suffering through a living hell for American lives. If Rockwell didn't tell us, we would think they were civilians out on a pleasure trip. The pictures depict soldiers, strolling through lush foreign vistas, enjoying pretty girls and gorgeous scenery. These were not the realities of war, just Rockwell's ideal of what war should be like. Sadly, it was very far from the truth.


Rockwell's Four Freedoms pieces are also rather idealistic and smug, considering that many Americans, in fact, were not experiencing these freedoms at all. One painting that especially stands out is Freedom from Fear.  It depicts a mother and father peacefully standing over their sleeping children.  Although it was supposed to communicate that parents could put their children to bed with security, knowing that they would not be bombed in the night, many Americans were worried that America would be attacked at some point.


However, we needn't be too hard on Norman Rockwell. Even though his paintings seem to show an insensitivity to personal hardship, Rockwell knew what he was doing.  As a child growing up in a bad neighborhood, he had many unpleasant experiences, like seeing a man cruelly beat a woman and knock her down, seeing a friend's drunken uncle drop dead on the doorstep, or seeing gangs meet on the streets to fight.  This led him to write later, "Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn't the perfectly place I had thought it to be, I unconsciously decided that, even if it wasn't an ideal world, it should be, and so painted the ideal aspects of it."


He wasn't trying to ignore the bad in life; he was simply trying to show his audience how to find the good in life, the things that go unnoticed when trials come.  And he did not fail his mission; his patriotic optimism will always be a part of the American viewpoint.  When we smile in the midst of a disaster, knowing that it will bring us together, when we smile in the midst of our tears, when we feel enobled at the death of a hero, knowing he died for our lives; we embody what it means to be an American, and for that, we can thank Norman Rockwell. 


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New Column! The Razor's Edge


Hello, my name is Madeleine Richey. I'm a sixteen-year-old in Fort Wayne, IN, where I have spent the last year learning about my new town and figuring out which street leads where, making new friends, and finding books, people, places, and things that inspire my stories, from the beer can lying in the grass to the old man at the bus stop. I'm a novelist at heart and I've written books on anything from rockstars to runaways, drug addicts to psychopaths, the cost of keeping secrets, homicides, love affairs, people who still want to believe in heroes, and suicide. I love those kinds of stories--they're real in ways other stories aren't. They don't always have happy endings. I've spent several years researching drug addictions, personality disorders, poisons, the psychology of killers and suicides... anything that catches my fancy.

My dream is to become a writer and a missionary. I love children and the best career I could possibly dream up would be as a Missionary with a Catholic charity for which I volunteer. I want to help people and I want to tell stories, especially the stories of people who don't have a voice of their own. I firmly believe that there are good people to be found, even in the darkest of places. The people who we brand as crazy or criminals, addicts, or damned for homicide or suicide, are people just like you and me. Some of them have faces we recognize--the faces of family and friends, maybe even the face we see when we look in the mirror. I want to share with you the information I have about all these things, so that maybe you can recognize them and walk away from danger or help out a friend who doesn't see it or saw it too late. We need to be aware of the problems from which our world suffers; if we're not, we'll never do anything to fix them.     


Ecstasy, by Madeleine Richey


To most people, Ecstasy is a party drug. It makes you feel powerful, happy, and heightens your senses, making the world more beautiful. But Ecstasy, just like any other drug, is like a poison. It can appear beautiful, lure you in with promises of splendor and pleasure, and spread its venom through your veins before you realize that what at first appeared to be so promising of heaven can take your life.


3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, also known as Ecstasy, is an empathogen (a word used to describe psychoactive drugs that have social and emotional effects). The use of Ecstasy releases large amounts of Serotonin, Dopamine, and Neropinephrine in the human system, entering neurons by way of Monoamine transporters, or MATs, (protein structures that, depending on their type, carry either Serotonin, Dopamine, or Neropinephrine, the three major releases caused by the use of Ecstasy). Serotonin promotes feelings of well being, and the release of higher amounts cause the user to experience feelings of confidence, happiness, and decreased anxiety. Dopamine is a chemical that plays a major function in the reward-driven part of our brain, making it highly addictive, especially to people who have reward-driven personalities. Neropinephrine is a stress hormone that carries the fight or flight instinct throughout the body, affecting attention and response, increasing heart rate and blood flow to skeletal muscle, and the flow of oxygen to the brain.(adrenaline).


On the street, however, people do not generally stop to inquire about the scientific workings of Ecstasy in the human body. And if they did ask, there are few, if any, users, who could tell them. Ecstasy is taken in the form of pills, which can be stacked (double stack, triple stack) to increase the dosage, or combined with other drugs to add to the effects (something often known as "flipping". The drug combinations can include Marijuana, Meth, Cocaine, or something as simple as cold medicine. In some cases, Ecstasy is mixed with Viagra to create what is called "Sexstasy" as the use of Ecstasy can sometimes decrease male libido, resulting in ED, also known as Erectile Dysfunction).


When using Ecstasy people experience effects within thirty minutes to an hour in most cases, and reach the peak of the high at about one hour or a little later, and afterwards hit what is called a plateau that can last from between 1-3 hours, and finally experience what is called a 'crash', or coming down off a high (which is caused by levels of Serotonin, Dopamine, and Neropinephrine below the natural levels). The effects of Ecstasy can include: euphoria, increased intimacy and feelings of love and peace towards others, less aggression and anxiety, and stimulation, arousal, and hyperactivity, often taking making themselves known in an uncontrollably desire to dance, making Ecstasy an ideal party drug.


After-effects of using Ecstasy may include fatigue, anxiety, paranoia, depression, dizziness, insomnia, and lack of appetite among others. An overdose of Ecstasy can cause delirium, panic attacks, intense muscle twitching, heart palpitations, heart or organ failure, or stroke.


Ecstasy is often abbreviated, going by X, XTC, E, Happy pill, Hug drug, and countless others. Slang for users who are affected by the drug include E-tard (a person who is overly affectionate under in the influence of the drug) or an E-puddle (a user so exhausted by hyperactivity that he or she can no longer move).


So maybe they look like candy, all those little bright pills in the palm of your hand, and maybe you're tempted to take them - just one to see what it's like, then you'll never touch them again. But Ecstasy isn't as pretty as it looks. It promises a lot of things, but in reality it can take your life. You can die from overdose, go to jail for drug use and possession, or you can plunge into the pool of addicts, unable to reach the surface and breathe, trapped by your own addiction. Ecstasy may look tempting, just like the pretty white flowers of Oleander, but it is a poison. A poison that, if you want it, you can get.





Libbi's Nonfiction Book Review


Made to Crave for Young Women, by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lysa TerKeurst 


(This book was given to me for free from Zstreet team.)  

Every single person, man, woman, boy or girl, has a longing on the inside of us. The longing for something more. We have longings to be loved, to feel happy, even if for a moment. Those longings, while natural, will destroy our lives if not handled correctly. We were made to fill those longings with God. Not chocolate chip cookies, or a handsome boyfriend, or those adorable shoes at the store. In this fantastically written book, Shaunti Feldhahn and Lysa TerKeurst show that it is God's plan for us to run to Him instead of to food, material possessions, or even other people. If we run to God, we can experience eternal happiness rather than short-lived enjoyment.       


This book was exceedingly better than I could have hoped. This book was perfect for me at this time in my life. I have always seemed to have a problem with self control. This past week, however, I have been trying to walk in more self-control. This book could not have come at a more perfect time. This book has helped me so much, I can't even begin to tell you. Though hard to pick, I think one of my favorite quotes is this one:


"The key, friends, is not to simply follow a rule- it's to be wise about our choices so we rely on God rather than something we crave."


Talk about a perfect quote! Using scripture throughout, this book easily makes the best non-fiction book I have read this year. Overall, I would one-hundred percent recommend this book. It is one of the few books that is COMPLETELY worth your money. I guarantee it.

Sincerely, Libbi H.








When the Light Goes Out


By Madeleine Richey


Everything is hot and sticky on a night like tonight. Everything reeks of earth, and grass, of summer air, car exhaust, and wet pavement after a rain. Everything seems to have despaired. The stars are dimmed, veiled by smog and city lights, their brightness just a memory of a childhood spent staring up at the night sky in search of constellations and shooting stars to wish upon.


Smoke furls up from the glowing ember of a cigarette, clutched loosely between the long, slender fingers of a young man whose face is concealed by shadows. He exhales into the night air, spewing out a ghastly gray breath that forms phantoms in the air, the dancing smoke quickly fading away on the breeze, its scent lingering on his clothes. He closes his eyes, sweat adding a glistening sheen to his skin. Stubble clings to his cheeks, dark hairs that sprout unevenly on his young face like weeds springing up in a freshly planted flowerbed. As the streetlamp a few paces away flickers, the garish yellow light wavering in the darkness and casting odd shadows upon the sidewalks and the dark pavement of the street, his lips part to accept the burning weed and drawing in the smoke that coats his lungs in a dark substance, choking him; stealing his breath. He can almost see it, the darkness running away with his imagination: the dark, black tar covering the pink flesh of his lungs, creeping down his throat and wrapping around his insides, squeezing them, and blocking off his throat so he cannot breathe. But still he draws breath, savoring the heat as he sucks it into his lungs greedily like a starving man would consume a hot meal.

The lids of his eyes sink down over the smoldering black flames in his eyes that seem to die a little more each minute, their bright fire smothered by lack of air as a dark cloud of despair closes in around them, suffocating them. Dark lashes meet pale skin, and tears leak out from beneath them, coating the long, dark hairs with shimmering drops, and sliding down the soft skin of face and neck like raindrops down a windowpane.  


Down the street the last light goes out, wavering for an instant before flickering once and giving out, surrendering the rule of the night to the darkness. The cigarette, still hot and bright, dangled once again from his finger, giving the only light besides that of the distant and dim stars. As he moves his hand the brilliant red light of the ember passes over a beer can that lies empty at his feet, the amber liquid setting uneasily in his stomach, blurring his thoughts and slurring his words so that they sounded like the words of the neighborhood drunk down the street.

The scent of hops promised to lure him into sleep, but he could not sleep when it smelled so heavily of shame. He knew, somewhere in the subconscious part of his mind that wasn't affected by the alcohol that hours before had filled the aluminum cans scattered around him in the darkness, that when he finally found the strength to stagger across the lawn and into the house besieged by the summer heat and with no air conditioner, that his father's car would still be absent from the driveway, and his mother's door would still be closed. But he also knew, like an ache in his heart, that a sweet little face with red cheeks and dark eyes framed by tangled golden hair, would be staring out at him from the faded wooden bars of her crib, red lips in a tired pout, her crying long since stopped by lack of attention, waiting for her big brother to feed her the meal he was sure his mother had neglected to in her grief.

But he didn't have the strength to rise and stagger over the sparse grass to the house. The beer dragged him down like a lead weight in his stomach, whispering strange things in his head. He took another drag on the cigarette, watching as the small pinprick of firelight danced over the aluminum cans with a dying man's gaze.  


Now his yard looked like the lawn of the drunk down the street, run down and dirty with trampled grass, a dilapidated house, cracked pavement, and beer cans spilling down from the curb where he sat onto the faded gray pavement of the street, drained to the last drop. There should have been a difference between him and that man, but there wasn't. If there was, perhaps it would be that he was only sixteen, and the man was forty-eight, but otherwise they were just the same; slobbering drunks who know they are wrong, but lack the strength to stop. The amber liquid rolled down his throat with ease, blurring the recollections of ugly fights, bruises, empty cash jars, and empty looking plates at the dinner table. The heat of the cigarette soothed him, warm and comforting, the nicotine satisfying the craving he had battled for two years. But still, sitting on the curb, unable to bear the taste and smell of his own breath, his shrank into himself, ashamed of what he had done and who he had become, and unwilling to face that sweet, darling little girl who he knew was waiting for him in her crib, small hands clutching at the bars like a prisoner desperate for release.


A man staggered by in the darkness, passing so close that he could smell the greasy scent of the man's body odor and the whisky on his breath. The man's grizzled shape was hidden in the shroud of black night air, but his ragged breathing could be heard like a dying man's gasping, filling the night with the painful sound. His feet shuffled over the pavement, creating a scraping noise that masked the heavy breathing. A foot struck one of the cans and it rolled away, clinking sharply until it faded to nothing.


"I didn't drink those," the young man gasped, finally coming to life, shame burning his cheeks in the darkness, desperate to deny that he had been the one to empty those cans, drowning his unhappiness in the amber liquid that reeked heavily upon his breath.

"Sure ya didn't, boy," the man laughed, drunkenly, continuing his shuffled down the darkened street and to his own home, lurching towards the empty cans and bottles in his own front yard. "Sure ya didn't..." the muttering ceased, replaced by a soft chuckle of laughter  that at last faded away.


The young man still sat on the curb, watching the burning ember of his cigarette, the only light in the darkness, like hope shining in a shadowed world. The cigarette butt fell from his hand, a single burning coal, grew dim and lay smoldering on the pavement, and went out.


Author Byline: If I'm not telling stories I'm rocking out to Def Leppard (my all-time favorite band), playing my electric guitar, or drawing pictures, especially when they're of my favorite rockstars or the characters in my stories so I can see their faces on the page. I like to hang out with my friends and my four siblings, and just enjoy the life I have with all the personality God gave me! I guess you could say I'm a bit like Sodapop Curtis--I have the ability to get drunk on life without touching a drop! - Madeleine






Catherine's Column


By: Catherine Amaris Munoz


"For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of prudence." ~2 Timothy 1:7

Hi there, all home-schooling teens! My name is Catherine Munoz. I am a homeschooler from Monrovia, California, USA. I am in the 12th grade. This is my tenth column for the "Homeschooling Teen e-zine", and I am looking forward to sharing more with you all in the future.

This is an eventful month, isn't it? April Fools Day... Earth Day... Administrative Professionals Day... Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day... Arbor Day... Yet something which is more important also takes place this month. April 8th is when we celebrate the triumphant resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Easter Sunday. It is interesting how we might come to see certain holidays as having a rank of importance. It is understandable that one would think of Christmas as the crescendo of the liturgical year, because Christmas is such a warm and fuzzy kind of season. We gather with family, friends, and loved ones as we celebrate the coming of the Child Jesus through the Blessed Young Virgin Mother Mary. Indeed, here at Easter, this is a time of reflection, cheer, resolve, cleansing, and renewal of spirit. So with Easter so close by, what feelings or emotions do we currently seem to be harboring? Easter may not generally be recognized for being the one event of all the church's celebrations which truly allows for reflection upon Jesus' coming. But, Easter may actually be the biggest church celebration of the year, because it is the revelation of Jesus' saving grace. At this time, we especially remember that Our Lord underwent a terrible agony especially at the end of his life here on Earth: the persecution, torture, judgment, rejection, and pain he experienced during the days leading up to Easter. Let us always remember the beauty of our freedom and redemption through Christ, by being living examples of good works and love. 


MUSIC CORNER ~ April 2012

This month's featured Christian music artist is: Switchfoot

Originating in San Diego, California, USA, it's no wonder the name "Switchfoot" has its roots in surfing: a favorite pastime of the band members. Having formed in 1997, Switchfoot has won numerous Christian music awards, namely a Grammy award which was handed over just last year in 2011 for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album, "Hello Hurricane". They also won 11 awards from San Diego Music Awards between the years 1997 and 2011. I personally love Switchfoot, especially their songs, "Awakening", "We Are One Tonight", and "New Way To Be Human". Go to for further details on the awe-inspiring Switchfoot. 


April's Recipe ~ "Strawberry Shortcake Cookies"         


Strawberry Shortcake cookie   


(Above photo provided by


"If you like Strawberry Shortcake, you'll love these cookies! Just about every ingredient that goes into a Strawberry Shortcake is found in this recipe! Enjoy!"

Yields: 3 dozen/ Time: approx. 20 minutes for preparation; 24-25 minutes for baking.

What you'll need:

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice 

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

3 ounces (6 tbsp.) cold sweet cream (salted) butter, cut into small pieces

2/3 cup heavy cream



1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. granulated sugar; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and remaining 7 tbsp. granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.

2. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing evenly apart. Bake until golden brown, 24-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Cookies are best served immediately, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature to be enjoyed at a later time.  


  April's Movie Review ~ "The Hunger Games" (2012)

       Naturally, having read the book by Suzanne Collins, I HAD to go see The Hunger Games in theaters! For those who are unfamiliar with the underlying story of The Hunger Games, I will explain a bit of the important facts: The Hunger Games takes place in Panem, which is a post-war-era and totalitarian-run United States of America, consisting of 12 Districts. These Districts are placed in ranking from richest to poorest: District 12 being the poorest. Our main character is Katniss Everdeen, a teenager who takes her younger sister Prim's place when Prim is chosen as one of the two children recruited for The Hunger Games from District 12. Two children recruited from each of the 12 districts makes for 24 participants in The Hunger Games. It was eerie to watch as the children from District 12 walked from their homes to the meeting area in the town for "the reaping". This reminded me of lambs being led to be slaughtered. Scarily enough, their impoverished, meager appearance reminded me of the children who were being segregated during the Holocaust. I also find it unnerving that the poorer you are as a citizen of Panem, the higher your odds are to be chosen as a participant. Every time that a person between the ages of 12 and 18 asks for food, water, or other needs and/or comforts, their name goes again into the "bingo"-like raffle of names. This name-choosing ceremony is called The Reaping. I sensed an intense amount of political influence in the movie. It was interesting how the frightening aspect of a totalitarian society was displayed: an all-powerful ruler or political leader, controlling the country, or in this case, the remains of one. Despite the fact that this environment is fictional, we must remember how far from God these values are held. In a civilization which is conducted like Panem, the lower-class, impoverished peasants are seen (not as equals, but) as worthless: yielding no purpose but for being slaves. Does God promote, appreciate, or respect this way of thinking? Definitely not! What a difference we have when we compare this view to that of God's. To God, the first shall be last. To God, the poor should be tended-to and fed, given drink, and shelter. But in Panem, or in the eyes of the greedy, the poor are supposed to be tossed to the side as though they are the decay of the population. My prayer is that the world which Suzanne Collins created for The Hunger Games never becomes a reality; that each one of us may do our part to reverse any actions or ways of thinking which may ultimately bring us closer to this scary way of living; that each of us will continue to view this macabre and hostile society (Panem) - and any other societies which hold rules synonymous with it - as incorrect and disagreeable with our Christian morals. The Hunger Games gets an A rating from this movie reviewer!   





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College Bound:


Homeschool-FriendlyColleges and Universities


Grace College 


Grace College is an evangelical Christian college located in the historic resort town of Winona Lake, Indiana. The college is associated with Grace Theological Seminary and the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. Grace began as a two-year college in 1948, and is currently categorized as a four-year liberal arts school by The College Board. Its mission statement reads, "Grace College is an evangelical Christian community of higher education which applies Biblical values in strengthening character, sharpening competence, and preparing for service." Grace has been ranked on the U.S. News and World Report list of "Best Baccalaureate Colleges in the Midwest."


Grace is one of the first colleges in the nation to offer a three-year accelerated degree option for students in every major. In order to help students graduate more quickly, the school's academic calendar was redesigned in Fall 2011. Each semester is now divided into two 8-week sessions. Grace students typically take 2-3 courses per session, allowing them to take up to 20 hours per semester. Students who opt for the three-year degree can reduce the cost of their education by 50% (save a year of tuition, room and board, and potentially earn an extra year of income by graduating early).


Every student at Grace completes a series of general education courses and thus enjoys a common experience that stretches across all the disciplines. In addition, Grace College offers degrees in more than 50 areas of study spanning a variety of fields in the arts and sciences, business, education, and ministry. Each program is geared toward giving every student a biblical foundation and practical experience. The student-to-faculty ratio is 20:1, and over 70% of full-time faculty hold doctoral or terminal degrees.


Grace College teaches biblical creation in their Bible and science departments. It is one of the few colleges remaining where there is widespread agreement on this issue. Dr. Don DeYoung, president of the Creation Research Society, is Chairman of the Department of Physical Science at Grace. He has been teaching physics, astronomy, and mathematics there since 1972. He has also written over a dozen books on Bible-science topics, including "Thousands...Not Billions: Challenging an Icon of Evolution." His latest book, "Discovery of Design: Searching Out the Creator's Secrets," is an exciting look at cutting-edge scientific advances that highlight incredible examples of God's design.


Grace students often get involved on campus by participating in groups, sports, or other activities. The Student Activities Board regularly plans special events both on and off-campus. Some favorites include: Price is Right night, Pizza Hut night, and themed semi-formal events. Intercollegiate athletics include: Volleyball, Golf, Soccer, Cross Country, Tennis, Basketball, Cheerleading, Baseball, Softball, Track and Field. Intramural sports include Basketball, Soccer, Frisbee, Softball, Volleyball, Dodgeball, and Flag Football. The college newspaper, "The Sounding Board," is published weekly.


Many students also participate in SERVE teams, which are student-led volunteer groups. Grace has more than 20 SERVE teams, which participate in volunteer work on and off-campus. Some popular SERVE teams include: Boys and Girls Club, College Mentors for Kids, Our Father's House (serving at a local soup kitchen), and Grace Village (visiting the elderly in a local retirement home). Throughout the year, students on Global Opportunities Teams (GoGrace teams) have the opportunity to take short-term missions trips to various countries.


Grace students are required to attend mandatory chapel sessions on campus. The chapel services are led by students who use their gifts to serve in the areas of media/tech, as worship leaders/coordinators, and as members of the Worship Band, which is led by a student band director. The college also offers a variety of other opportunities for vocalists and musicians to perform at various events, school musicals, and in the community.


According to the Grace College website, "we place a high value on students who have been educated at home. One of every five students at Grace College has been home schooled." Grace College also offers home school juniors and seniors (at least 16 years of age) the opportunity to take college classes on campus for credit at a reduced rate through the Jump Start Program. For more information, visit the Grace website:


Tell us about your favorite homeschool-friendly college, and we will feature it in an upcoming issue!  



Homeschooling High School: Helpful Tips


Homeschool to Grad School


"Your kid has no chance of getting into grad school." That's what parents are told by homeschool opponents. And they state the following reasons as fact:


  • Lack of academic foundation
  • They don't have a "real" high school diploma
  • They didn't get their undergrad from a brand-name college


The fact: These are lies. However, if grad school is even a remote possibility for your children, there are specific actions they should be taking now.

A new free eBook - "Homeschool to Grad School: A How-To Guide for Homeschoolers" - will give you insights, real stories, and step-by-step actions you can take now to help your children get accepted into grad school.

Here's what you will discover in this new eBook:


  • The worst academic mistake homeschoolers make - it's so bad it can prevent them from grad school acceptance.
  • What students as young as 13 should do now to set themselves up for success in grad school.
  • Real stories from homeschoolers who were accepted into top-tier graduate schools and how they did it.

The eBook is written by Shawn Cohen, a homeschooler who earned a BA in English, completely debt-free, and was then accepted into the grad school of his choice.


This eBook is provided to you compliments of CollegePlus. Click here to get your free copy of the eBook:  



Jon's Joke-of-the-Month (Puns too!)


An elevator operator kept calling every boy "Son." Finally a teenager talked back to him and said, "I am NOT your son and YOU are NOT my father." The elevator operator calmly replied, "I brought you up, didn't I?" -Jon


Help Needed with African American Study


Dr. Brian Ray and the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) are conducting a study on the academic achievement of African American homeschool and public school students and the educational choices of their parents. If you are an African American single parent or couple with an African American child between the ages of 9-14 who has been homeschooled all or most of his or her school years, please contact NHERI by e-mailing to participate in the study. OR if you know of an African American family who has a child either homeschooled or in public school who may want to participate, please ask them to contact NHERI by e-mailing


Dr. Ray and NHERI are conducting this groundbreaking study of African American students, examining parents' educational choices and the academic achievement of black students in homeschools and conventional (public) schools. No research like this has ever been done before, but is much needed. NHERI's current research on black students will likely be one of the most methodologically sound studies ever done to provide findings regarding the issue of state-regulation and home education. This study is considered solid in design, important, and pioneering by organizations and individuals such as National Black Home Educators (NBHE), the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and state- and private-university professors.


Thank you for helping NHERI with this very important research! For more information about the National Home Education Research Institute, visit




Career-of-the-Month: Lawyer


Have you ever wondered exactly what it takes to become a lawyer? How To Become A Lawyer ( is a website completely dedicated to just that - educating grade school and college level students on what it takes to achieve a Juris Doctorate degree. In short, individuals looking to become a lawyer will have to get their high school degree, 4 year college degree as well as complete 3 years of law school. After law school is completed all passing students will have to study and take the bar exam. Upon completion of the bar exam many states require individuals to pass what's called a "character exam." If you're an upstanding individual you shouldn't have any concerns. 


With all that said becoming a lawyer is an 11 year process. If you choose to go this route you will embark upon an exciting adventure as a licensed attorney. The only question left is what TYPE of lawyer will you become? Bankruptcy, criminal, family, business? The choice is yours. As shown in the infographic below, becoming a lawyer doesn't have to be the end result. Many lawyers became the United States President! 


Lawyer Graphic 





Bookshelf of a (Maybe) Teen Author, by Emily Russell


Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones  


 Howl's Moving Castle book review


"A wonderful blend of humor, magic, and romance." - Publishers Weekly


After a great sleepover, during which I was introduced to the movie version of this story, I knew I simply had to read this book. So I bought it from Gottwal's and put everything else aside to finish it.


The book is a delight to read. It seems to be written more for middle schoolers, which shouldn't have surprised me since the movie is animated. I love that the romance isn't the whole theme of the book; I believe a good fantasy should focus more on unraveling the secrets and learning about the magic than the emotions of the characters. However, a down-played romance can often become a neglected part of the story, which is disappointing; this was not the case for Diana Wynne Jones. The hero and heroine had time to get to know each other, and fell in love slowly. (There's nothing I hate more than 'Cinderella' romances where the two meet and fall instantly in 'love' after one meeting.)

None of the characters were perfect; in fact, Diana tends to focus on making them over-flawed. In the interview included in this printing, she herself comments on how strange it is that, despite her creating such flawed characters, she still has a whole list of girls waiting to marry Howl. I think this isn't really as surprising as it seems. A character must be flawed to be realistic; no matter how much a girl loves that 'perfect' guy, if she can't find any flaws, he'll eventually become too perfect (read: boring) to live with. With Howl, on the other hand, Sophie will never have a dull moment.

Most fantasies have either a generally serious tone or so much humor the story is ruined. This is the first fantasy I've read that perfectly balances the seriousness of the magic with the humor of the characters. This, I think, is where the movie disappointed previous readers of this book. The movie has that characteristic serious tone. While the company definitely did right casting Billy Crystal as Calcifer, there just wasn't enough time to truly capture the author's humorous spirit.

That said, I really have to give this book two different ratings. As the middle-school fantasy novel it was written as, it deserves all five stars. For teens looking for a fantasy romance, though, I'd give it a three and a half or a four. 

~Emily Rachelle


Emily Rachelle is an aspiring author in love with Jesus. She's a CLASS 'Junphmore' who occasionally blogs at Struggles of a (Maybe) Teen Author. (


Movie Review: October Baby


Every life is beautiful...


October Baby is a movie worth seeing, especially by teens and young adults! It's a coming-of-age story about Hannah (Rachel Hendrix), a 19-year-old freshman college student. Hannah has always felt like an outsider. She can't explain why, but she's always had a deep-seated feeling that she has no right to exist. Hannah asks, "Why, God, do I feel unwanted?" Hannah is emotionally fragile, full of anxiety and self-doubt, and it doesn't help that some consider her to be a "Christian homeschooling freak" whose wholesome perfection annoys them to no end.


Hannah suffered numerous health issues in childhood, including epilepsy and asthma, but she emerged as a generally healthy young adult and an incredible stage actress - that is, until she unexpectedly collapsed during her theatrical debut in a college play. After a series of medical tests, all the evidence points towards Hannah's difficult birth. Hannah's parents (John Schneider and Shari Rigby) are forced to reveal that they are not her biological parents. She was adopted and was never told due to the traumatic and heartbreaking circumstances: "You were born premature because you were the survivor of a failed abortion."


Shocked, angry, and confused that her "whole life is a lie," Hannah turns to her longtime friend and confidante, Jason (Jason Burkey). She impulsively decides to join him and his friends on a spring break trip that becomes a quest to find her true identity and bring meaning to her life. Hannah determines that she must return to her birthplace in Mobile, Alabama (where much of the film was shot) as a starting point to tracking down her birth mother, or else she will never be able to "get on with her life." Why? Because she needs to know why she was unwanted - and no doubt a whole lot more.


The road trip is an attempt to lighten the mood, with former "American Idol" Top 10 finalist Chris Sligh as the wacky owner of the VW minibus. Nevertheless, much of the film is filled with scenes in which Hannah engages in earnest conversations with various authority figures, including a helpful priest and a sympathetic cop who offer advice such as: "to be human is to be beautifully flawed," "life isn't always black and white," and "hate the crime, not the criminal." Along the way, Hannah learns there is even more to her story than she could have imagined.


The movie's cast provides some powerful performances. Prior to playing Hannah - her first starring role - Rachel Hendrix mostly acted in short films, music videos, and commercials. But she is a gifted young actress who really blossoms the more emotionally complex her character becomes. Jasmine Guy plays the nurse who worked at the abortion clinic and fills in several pieces of Hannah's puzzle. Guy's halting, haunting recollection is absolutely unforgettable in one essential scene. Another memorable moment came from Shari Rigby, who plays the abortive mother confronted with her past (and who also shares her personal story during the ending credits).


Former Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider is terrific as Hannah's overly protective dad; yet his fatherly role is inflated while his wife, Grace, played by Jennifer Price, is almost an afterthought. Jason Burkey's acting is relaxed and natural, and Chris Sligh serves well as the comic relief. Fans of Sherwood Pictures' Courageous take note: Robert Amaya plays the beach cop in October Baby. Like the Kendrick brothers' movies, October Baby is an accessible values-themed film that wears its faith on its sleeve yet is not preachy and leaves enough room at the table for anyone to join in. The film has a point of view, to be sure, but it treats everyone fairly and lets viewers reach their own conclusions.


While the narrative of October Baby begins with a failed abortion, the story's thematic message transcends the particulars. October Baby isn't about abortion as much as it is about forgiveness and letting go of pain and hurt. To its credit, October Baby doesn't opt for the expected ending and surprises us with some real plot twists. With humor, heart, and conviction, October Baby reminds us that life can be so much more than what one has planned, and the greatest thing we can offer one another is our love.


October Baby was co-directed by Dove Award-winning brothers Jon and Andrew Erwin. The filmmakers, who grew up working for ESPN and are longtime music video veterans, have delivered a technically polished production for their first full-length feature film. The production values are comparable to other theatrical-release teen dramas, and Jon Erwin photographed the movie beautifully. The original music by Paul Mills perfectly complements the story, enhancing the scenes and weaving them together. October Baby won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Fiction Feature at the 2011 Red Rock Film Festival and is being co-distributed by Provident Films and Samuel Goldwyn Co.


October Baby opened on March 23, the same day as The Hunger Games, so it could have been easily overlooked. And yet according to Fox News, even though October Baby only showed in 390 theaters, the pro-life drama earned the second-highest-per-screen average, bringing in almost $2 million in ticket sales. Director Jon Erwin said, "Here is our little film, small budget, in the top ten [at the box office]. We are thrilled, blown away." The producers of October Baby have assigned 10% of the profits to the Every Life is Beautiful Fund, which will distribute funds to frontline organizations helping women facing crisis pregnancies, life-affirming adoption agencies, and those caring for orphans.




You can be a Homeschooling Teen reporter or columnist! Please send information about what you like to write about, the reason you want to take on the challenge of a monthly column, and an example of your work to: