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Making a college visit count

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood.

The student editor of Michigan State University's State News shows off recent editions of the publication during a visit this fall to the academic institution's campus. Photo by Tyreshia Black.


Every year, high school students across Chicago start preparing to attend a college or university. The effort is a big undertaking, and it is easy to get overwhelmed. There are so many different types of higher education institutions to choose from, and a lot of students don’t know what they’re looking for.

One important way that many students figure out what they want from a college is through a campus visit. During a visit, prospective students tour the campus, talk to professors, and learn about student life.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” said Tametrius Files, a 16-year-old Simeon High School student who has visited Eastern Illinois University, DePaul University and other schools.

Experts say it is important to make the most out of college visits.

Betty Weinberger, a college consultant at a Glencoe-based company called North Shore College Counseling Services, said in an e-mail interview that students must make realistic and appropriate plans in order to ensure their campus visits are worthwhile.

“You might begin by asking yourself the following questions,” she said. “Do you like a large school or small? Do you want to be in the city in an urban environment or do you prefer a suburban or even small town environment?”

Ms. Weinberger added that students should also think about college activities while on a campus tour as well as their fields of interest.
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The Fish of Lake Michigan

by Carlos Jordan 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

You see the line getting straight and moving around, so you start reeling it in. The fish tries to pull away, but eventually it comes up. Fishing in Burnham Harbor by Shedd Aquarium on July 6, the fish I pulled up were round gobies, bluegill and bass. Round gobies are an “invasive species” that eat the plankton and food that other fish need and they like to stay at the bottom of the lake. Invasive species come from another part of the world, like another lake or ocean, and they eat the other fishes’ food and cause a lot of trouble.

Before we went fishing we went to the Shedd Aquarium where we were talking about silver carp and big head carp, which are both types of Asian carp. They are also invasive species, coming to the Great Lakes up the Illinois River, but they are originally from Asia. Some things make them startled and make them jump out of the water, including loud noises that the boat motors make and rocks thrown in the water. When they jump out of the water they are so big that they hurt people they hit, sometimes seriously.

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The Health Effects of Pollution in Pilsen

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

Parents gathered in Pilsen on May 11 at the Casa Aztlan Community Center, 1831 S. Racine, to get information on how to try to keep their children safe from lead poisoning and other sources of pollution in the Near Southwest Side neighborhood.

People at the meeting were extremely concerned about lead from the smelter H. Kramer and also about particles and other pollution from the Fisk coal burning power plant. Doctors and city health officials were also there.

Chicago public health department doctor Cortland J. Lohff informed the audience that lead is a dangerous compound that can cause poisoning depending on dosage. Children ages six months to six years old are most likely to get lead poisoning, according to Lohff. When they play in parks and playgrounds where there are high levels of lead in the soil, it can easily get into their systems and cause brain damage and behavioral problems.

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A Dream Come True

by Alisha Jacobs 

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program class at People for Community Recovery, a not-for-profit organization based in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development. In April 2011, youths from People for Community Recovery traveled to France as part of a photography exchange program with youths from La Courneuve, a community near Paris.

Paris. France. It was something like a dream come true. On Wednesday, April 13, 2011, it was also boring because we arrived too early and had to wait in the small, hot and muggy office of People for Community Recovery filled with over 15 bags and 10 people. After greeting everyone and hugging our family members, our limos arrived. I was filled with mixed emotions. Getting in the limo to the airport I was happy but yet a little sad. I was leaving family and friends. I was thinking of everything that could go wrong as I sat quietly the whole ride. I and the other children and our chaperone and Takia Long took pictures of the whole ride.

Students from Altgeld Gardens pose with their French counterparts.

I had a chill going through my spine getting out of the car at O’Hare Airport. It was a long, tedious process checking in and going through the security measures, but I was patient. I bought a lot of candy since the security said we couldn’t go through with any food or water because of all the terrorist attempts, but all this really made me feel very safe. We arrived very early so if anything went wrong we would have time to spare. Me, Manquaze (my brother), Lakeshia (a 17-year-old participant in the An Eye for An Eye program) and Hollis (brother of Lakeshia, another participant of An Eye for An Eye) played Uno anxiously waiting to board the plane.

Finally about 45 minutes later, we grabbed all of our bags. I couldn’t help but have butterflies in my stomach. We boarded a big white and blue plane with that read “Air France” on the side. The flight attendants greeted us in French, which kind of made me happy, because I knew that I could respond. I put all my bags up in storage. Then, about 15 minutes later, we finally started to move. The best part of the air plane ride was taking off because it was like a roller coaster; I love roller coasters. It was hard trying to force myself to go to sleep knowing I was thousands of feet in the air. The flight was 6 hours. We had made it to the airport around 5 that evening and made it to Paris around 1:30 a.m. I had stayed up during the flight because I was watching movies and talking to the other children in the program. Plus I was too scared I would miss something. Most of the children didn’t go to sleep just as I didn’t. We woke the adult chaperones so we could get off the plane.

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