Do you ever feel tremendously lucky? Do you ever have that moment where you have to just sit back and look in awe at all of the opportunities that you have, all of the advantages that you possess?
I had that moment today. I am having that moment right now. I have so much to help me succeed in life. For example, I am sitting here in warm clothes in a warm place on this blistering cold day, typing on my laptop, and drinking hot chocolate made with clean water. I have a fridge full of food. I have access to education, great partners for all of my school projects, good grades, wonderful friends, parents who love me, a youth group that supports me, and a God who died for me. I am safe and warm and happy and lucky in all areas of my life.
Yesterday, I went to a scholarship interview. I talked a lot about Courage for Tomorrow while I was there, and just talking about the reason behind CforT’s creation reminded me how much I want to make sure others have those opportunities and advantages. I cannot wait to become a teacher. I cannot wait until this magazine becomes an actual magazine. Recently, it feels like that potential is growing more and more. We recently hit 5,000 all-time views; how crazy is that!? Not only did we reach 200 likes on the Facebook page, but we surpassed that by 192 likes in a matter of two weeks! We now have 392 likes, and we are constantly getting more. More and more people are seeing this magazine, and I am so happy that they are. I feel like we can make a real difference, and if not, at least we have a place where people can come and talk about important issues. Exposure is the first step in creating change.
I don’t know if this post really has a point behind it. I just wanted to take a moment and share how lucky I feel. I encourage you to take a moment and think of all of the things that are going right for you. It might be a sad day, but there is probably something positive in your life if you stop and think for a moment. If you absolutely cannot think of anything, here is something: we care about you. We might not know you, dear reader, but we care about you and your struggles. You have friends in us. 🙂
For a final note, this feeling does make me think of all of the people who are not as safe as I am. I am thinking of those who have nowhere to go to escape the bitter cold. I am thinking of the people who do not have access to education. I am thinking of the people who feel alone and unloved. It is up to us to help those people. So, I encourage you to think of ways you can impact their lives. Maybe you could serve at a soup kitchen. Maybe you could take food and blankets to the homeless. Maybe you could make a donation to the Malala Fund, if you have the money. Let’s do something, let’s make a difference in the lives of the disadvantaged, the unlucky, the ones who need us. Everyone deserves this feeling.
Thank you for reading,
In the News: Supreme Court to Take the Same-Sex Marriage Case
By Alex Stepp
In church last Sunday, my pastor mentioned that the congregation needed to pray for the decision that the Supreme Court will make in regards to the legality of state laws banning same-sex marriage.
I couldn’t help but wonder: should we be praying that the Supreme Court declares that these laws are legal or illegal? Clearly, my pastor wanted us to pray that the Supreme Court uphold laws that state that marriage is between a man and a woman. After all, the Bible explicitly states that homosexuality is not allowed. I can understand the need to follow all of God’s rules as a Christian. However, I also feel that the Constitution needs to be upheld at all times.
I live in the United States of America, in which the Constitution is the “Supreme Law.” Let’s look at what the Constitution says about same-sex marriage. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Consider the laws that declare same-sex marriage to be illegal in states. The support for these laws is that they violate biblical code that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that homosexual relationships are immoral. This, of course, is a religious opinion, and the First Amendment makes any law that is made on the basis of religion unconstitutional.
Also, the Supremacy Clause in Article VI says that “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States, which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” The federal government summed up this clause with the conclusion of the case Altria Group v. Good. “Consistent with that command, we have long recognized that state laws that conflict with federal law are ‘without effect’,” Justice Stevens of the Supreme Court wrote. This idea is known as federal preemption.
This means that the states cannot make laws that are against either federal law or the Constitution. So, it appears to me that laws that deny same-sex couples the right to marry are illegal and null.
This country was founded on the principles of freedom and equality. The Declaration of Independence reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” All people have the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It doesn’t matter that I as a Christian disagree with or am against homosexuality. It does not matter if anyone else does, either. The simple fact is that Americans do not have to have my religious beliefs. The simple fact is that Americans do have the freedom to choose their lifestyles. The simple fact is that all Americans have unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As long as this pursuit of happiness is not harming others, the government does not have the ability to take those rights away, nor do they have the power to force people to practice laws of any religion.
I understand that it might be hard for fellow Christians to understand why I choose to condone same-sex marriage. But, what I am supporting is not the act itself, but the freedom of all Americans.
The Bible says: “‘Love your neighbors as yourself.’ There is no greater commandment than these” (Mark 12:31 NIV). The Bible says: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31 NIV). The Bible says: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV). The Bible says: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV). Though we might not agree with the actions or beliefs of some people, we are called to love them unconditionally, as Christ loves us. Even if you do not agree with my beliefs on same-sex marriage, fellow Christians, I call to you to accompany me in striving to love every person.
If you are struggling with homosexuality and your faith, I would say to you only this: God loves you. Always. Forever. Unconditionally. More than any of us can understand. That will never change. If you need someone to talk to, email me: email@example.com.
Thank you for reading,
*Note: In no way do the beliefs of this post represent the beliefs of Courage for Tomorrow. This article does represent the purpose of Courage for Tomorrow, which is love and kindness and compassion for others. This post was not intended to harm anyone in any way.*
Preparing for College: A guide for high school students, by high school students
Editor: Alex Stepp
Welcome back!! It seems like it has been forever since we have had the pleasure of writing for all of you. Thankfully, school is out now, and even in the midst of the flurry of college preparation, we have found the time to write about just that: college preparation. Instead of using statistics and research with our experiences, we will be using only our experiences in the process of sharing the tips and tricks of preparing for college. Of course, we are not professionals, as we are in the process right now, but we will share with you all that we have learned so far.
I hope you all enjoy this issue!! Feel free to comment with other tips throughout the articles. Also, since our last issue, Courage for Tomorrow has gotten more wonderful writers whom we will introduce in this issue. So, be on the lookout for articles by Ben, Hannah, and Krista.
As always, feel free to contact us for whatever reason at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading!
The Courage for Tomorrow Team
*Editor’s Note: Minor editing changes have been made, but the ideas of the authors have not been edited. All ideas are original and have not been copied from outside sources. The ideas in these works do not necessarily reflect the purposes of Courage for Tomorrow, but have been included as real stories.*
Inspirational Songs: Music Heals
I thought that I would continue this post because I know that music has strong healing powers for some people. Who doesn’t like to listen to a good song?
1. Forgiven – Reliant K
2. Peace in the Valley – Kevin Costner
3. Fin – Anberlin
4. Love Saves the Day – Piotr Rubik
5. Savin’ Me – Nickelback
6. How Deep the Water Runs – Kevin Costner
7. The Unwinding Cable Car – Anberlin
8. I Was Here – Beyonce
9. Lose Yourself – Eminem
10. Savior – Black Veil Brides
11. Never Give In – Black Veil Brides
12. Second and Sebring – Of Mice and Men
13. Someone Somewhere – Asking Alexandria
14. This Song Saved my Life – Simple Plan
15. You are the Heart – Blood on the Dance Floor
16. The Good Life – Valencia
17. How to Save a Life – The Fray
18. Eyes Open -Taylor Swift
19. Tied Together With a Smile – Taylor Swift
20. Beautiful – Christina Aguilera
21. Who You Are – Jessie J
22. This is Love – The Script
23. The Fighter – Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder
24. Perfect- P!nk
25. Who Says – Selena Gomez
26. Firework – Katy Perry
27. Hey You – Miranda Cosgrove
28. What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction
29. Only You Can Be You – Cymphonique Miller
30. Little Things – One Direction
31. Freckles – Natasha Bedingfield
32. Imagine – John Lennon
33. I Believe I Can Fly – R. Kelly
34. One – U2
35. Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars
36. Mean Girls – Rachel Crow
37. Let it Be – The Beatles
38. Times – Tenth Avenue North
39. By Your Side – Tenth Avenue North
40. Stars – David Crowder Band
41. The Sun Will Rise – Kelly Clarkson
42. Stand – Rascal Flatts
43. You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up) – Josh Groban
44. Hero – Mariah Carey
45. When You Believe – Whitney Houston ft. Mariah Carey
46. Where the Streets Have No Name – U2
47. The Climb – Miley Cyrus
48. You Can Come to Me – Ross Lynch and Laura Marano
49. Changed – Rascal Flatts
50. I Won’t Let Go – Rascal Flatts
51. Believe – Brooks and Dunn
52. I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack
53. Need You Now – Plumb
54. Lost – Michael Bublé
55. Marching On – OneRepublic
56. Heroes – David Bowie
57. Brave – Sara Bareilles
58. Little Wonders – Rob Thomas
59. Whip It – Love and Death
60. Hope – We Came As Romans
61. Son of Venice – Upon This Dawning
62. Same Love – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Mary Lambert
63. I Lived – OneRepublic
64. Strong Enough to Save – Tenth Avenue North
Thank you to everyone that contributed to the list!
Please, feel free to add more songs! We want to know what songs give you hope.
A High School Timeline
By Alex Stepp
I don’t know about you, but personally, I like a set of instructions. I like to have a list of deadlines and guidelines that I can follow while I am accomplishing a task. So, when this summer rolled around – the summer before my senior year – I felt myself wondering what all I needed to do and feeling frustrated by the vagueness of some instructions that I found. So, I am going to compile a list for you of all of the stuff that you need (a term I use loosely here) to do in each year of high school. Please note that this will be done with the best of my ability, and some of the information may not apply to all of you. Here’s hoping it helps, though!
Freshman Year (9th Grade)
So you’ve made it to high school…congratulations! Now, I know what you are thinking: it is my first year in high school. There is no way I should be planning for college already.
Sadly, my friend, this is not the case, and I will tell you why. Now, as a senior, there are colleges, beautiful colleges that look like Hogwarts and witnessed the attendance of John Green, to which I cannot apply because I did not take the right classes. No, instead of taking 4 years of one foreign language, I took two years of two different languages. Instead of taking Physics, I took Earth Space Science. If I had known that I needed certain classes were required for this dream college that I happened upon too late, I would have taken them. So…
-Know what classes your dream college(s) is looking for. Take them. (No, you do not have to have a dream college at this point, or any point).
-Take fun classes! Take classes that interest you. Try to find out what you like to do as early as you can so you have as much time as possible to do it! This will help you later on in college when you are trying to pick a major (see Krista’s article).
-Join clubs. This will also help you discover what you like to do, and you will make tons of friends and memories while doing so.
-Mainly, have fun. This is a time of discovery. Find what you love to do, and do it.
-Keep your grades up. When it comes time to apply to colleges, you will want your GPA to match a college’s requirements. If you don’t apply yourself now, you will regret it later. If you are really struggling, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask your teacher or a tutor for help. Ask Rose (http://www.askrose.org/) is a good resource, and there are plenty more like it.
-Lastly, volunteer. To me, there is no better time spent than that spent helping others. Sure, it looks good on college applications (or so I’ve heard), but there are so many other benefits to volunteering. You know, like helping the world to be a better place.
Sophomore Year (10th Grade)
-Continue to keep up your grades. Now that you have experienced high school classes, consider taking honors classes in the subjects you excelled in last year. Challenge yourself!
-Continue to take classes that interest you. Don’t be afraid, though, to take classes that you don’t think you would normally take. You never know unless you try!
-Take the PSAT. This is a test that is kind of like a practice test for the SAT. It is important because as a junior you will be entered into the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) when you take the PSAT. This is a program that allows you to get many scholarships if you get a high enough score. So, it is imperative that you take it your sophomore year so that you have the practice that you need to excel next year. For more information on the NMSQT, click here: http://www.nationalmerit.org/entering.php. Also, make sure to check out our articles on how to study for standardized tests like these!
-Take the PLAN. This is like the PSAT, but instead of preparing you for the SAT, it prepares you for the ACT. I actually never took it, so I cannot give you much information on it, but any practice can help! For more information, click here: http://www.act.org/planstudent/tests/index.html.
-Start thinking about college. Maybe do a bit of research on some colleges that you think you might want to attend.
-Continue to volunteer and participate in clubs!
Summer Before Junior Year (11th Grade)
Okay, so hopefully you have been spending your summers volunteering and reading and basically doing educational activities that can benefit you, but now is the time to get serious. Because…
-It is time to take the SAT and ACT! Duh duh DUH! Okay, so technically you don’t take these tests right in the summer of your junior year. Most people take them at the end of their junior year and again at the beginning of their senior year. But, now is the time to prepare. Trust me when I tell you that your junior year will be crazy. Now that you are able to take AP classes, you might want to. That’s great! Talk about a challenge and a boost for the GPA, not to mention that these classes prepare you for college classes. Plus, colleges appreciate AP classes. Your stress level might not. I don’t know where you go to school, but at my school, AP classes are extreme. This is not a bad thing, though, but these classes take a lot of time if you want to get a good grade. You most likely will not have as much time to prepare for the SAT and ACT as you want/need. Silly me, I didn’t realize that I should have started studying so early, so I had to struggle to balance school work and studying, and it was not fun. So start studying! (Make sure to check out our articles on preparing for standardized tests if you need tips!)
Junior Year (11th Grade)
-Continue to keep your grades up.
-Take AP classes and honors classes to be fully prepared for the college experience.
-Take any AP tests you have taken classes in.
-Take the PSAT/NMSQT. Good luck!
-Make your college list. Do not limit yourself when choosing colleges. It is an excellent idea to include several realistic colleges on this list, meaning colleges that are close to you that you can afford (or colleges far away that you can afford. Basically, colleges that provide you with a good education on a budget, unless you are wealthy, in which case: go wherever is ideal to you!). Do not exclude colleges that you think are not realistic. Even if the college is too expensive or too far away, do not immediately throw it out! You may receive enough grant and scholarship money that you can attend the college at a price much lower than the tuition posted on their website. If it is important enough to you, please do not think it impossible.
-Keep volunteering and participating in clubs. Maybe try out for the student body or school newspaper if either interests you. Aim high!
-Tour some colleges close to you that you might attend. Ask if you can sit in on a class.
-Take the ACT and SAT in the spring. If you don’t like your score, don’t worry! You can always take them again.
-Start searching for scholarships. It is never too early to start doing so. You can even start earlier than this. But junior year is definitely a good time to start your search if you haven’t at this point, especially if you will need to rely heavily on financial aid for college.
Summer Before Senior Year (12th Grade)
-Narrow down your list of colleges to the ones you will apply to.
-Create a list of deadlines and application requirements for these colleges.
-Acquire all of the materials needed for the application. This means print out the applications, send test scores to colleges, and gather any documentation you might have from throughout your high school career.
-Work on the application. This doesn’t mean that you have to finish your applications in the summer. It is a good idea to get a head start, though, especially if you are applying to colleges with low acceptance rates. Create your résumés and work on your essays so you have time to study for the SAT and the ACT come fall.
-Study for the SAT and the ACT if you are retaking them.
-Find and apply to scholarships (see more information on scholarships in some of our other articles).
Senior Year (12th Grade)
-Take challenging classes. Don’t slack off just because it is senior year.
-Take any AP tests that you have taken classes in.
-Register to take the SAT and ACT (if you feel you need to) and take them again.
-Narrow down your list of colleges to the top three-five.
-Send in your applications after gathering recommendation letters, lists of club participation and community services, essays, test scores, etc. Make sure to apply before the deadlines!
-Apply for more scholarships.
-Start thinking about what you would like to major in. You don’t have to pick now. You don’t even have to pick as soon as you get into college. Just think about it so that you can come to a decision. That way you can spend even more time studying specifically in the area in which you would like to have a career.
-Tour the colleges on your narrowed list.
-Choose the college that you would most like to attend and that would work the most for you.
-Make sure to get your cap and gown for your big day!
-Congratulations! You did it! You made it through high school! Sure you still have college, the military, a job, or whatever else you decide to do, but you accomplished a major task. Be proud of yourself! We sure are proud of you.
That’s it! That is the list that I have compiled. Again, I might have left some things off, but I hope it helps in some way.
Courses to take in high school
By Hannah Rollett
With the strict graduation standards for high school and the strong emphasis on course choice in college, it can sometimes be difficult to choose our courses for high school. Should you take AP Statistics your senior year? Or would you be better off in Honors English 12 with a standard Pre-Calculus class? Whether you chose AP or Honors, here are a few tips for choosing your courses:
-Focus on what you want to major in. For example, if you’d like to major in English or become a teacher, take challenging literature courses, such as AP English Lit or Honors English. If you’re not sure what you plan to major in, look at what you’re good at and choose courses based on that. Most likely, you’ll choose a major or career relating to those interests.
-Remember your strengths and weaknesses. Obviously not everyone is great with Math and not everyone receives only A’s in English. If you struggle in a subject, try to go for a more standard class. If you’re really good at something, go for a more challenging course, such as honors or advanced placement. It’s better to receive a B in standard mathematics than to fail miserably in an AP version.
-What do colleges want? While you may not fulfill a college’s every wish, you should definitely try to fulfill some. For instance, most colleges want to know that you are ready for such a big responsibility. Many of them look for students who have challenged themselves throughout their high school career. So attempt to take some challenging classes and to push yourself a little (but not over the edge!). You’ll thank yourself later.
-Pace yourself. Many teens attempt to cram several courses into one or two years. Don’t do that! You’ll only stress yourself out. Think ahead and try to even out your courses as much as possible throughout high school. For your senior year, attempt to take as few courses as you can. You’ll be busy filling out applications, and you won’t want to waste time writing five papers due at the same time.
-If you’re still unsure, seek guidance. Of course, if you are still feeling overwhelmed with your choices after this, talk to your parents, a teacher, or your guidance counselor. It may not seem like they will make a difference, but, trust me, they can be extremely helpful during this process!
I hope these tips were helpful and that they made choosing your courses a little bit easier. Good luck!