4-H Student Wins at District Level

By, Payton M. (Sophomore) 

Hello GCA World!
Recently I competed with the 4-H group from Effingham County. We went to the Southeastern District Conference where I competed with a 12-minute speech I memorized. My category was “General Recreation,” and my speech/presentation was about Civil Air Patrol.

If you don’t know about Civil Air Patrol, let me tell you about this interesting organization!

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) was founded on December 1, 1941, less than a week before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Its job was to create a way for the citizens of America to serve on a volunteer basis in the defense of the homeland. Civil Air Patrol planes were used to patrol the coastlines as German U-boats approached. At first CAP planes were required just to find the boats and radio the Coast Guard, who then fired on the Germans. After some time, the American CAP planes were given depth charges and allowed to fire on the U-boats themselves.

Today, the CAP mission is much different. CAP gives cadets (students) ages 12-21 the opportunity to learn to fly, develop leadership skills, and become proficient in emergency services and training.

There is so much more to tell you about Civil Air Patrol! For example, there are over 1,000 squadrons in all 50 states, so there is probably a squadron near you. Membership is affordable, uniform vouchers are available, and there are scholarships for college and also to learn to fly.

If you have not looked into Civil Air Patrol in your area (possibly because you did not even know that it existed), now you SHOULD look into this program! Visit the website http://www.gocivilairpatrol.com to learn more!

About The Author: Payton M. is a 10th grade student with the Georgia Cyber Academy. His future goals include attending the Air Force Academy and training to be a fighter pilot before going to MARS!! He is very active with his Civil Air Patrol squadron, where he serves as the Cadet Aerospace Officer and the Alpha Flight Sergeant. He volunteers weekly at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. He taught two Drone Discovery and History of Flight Classes at state-wide 4-H events during 2016. He is a Certified Teen Leader for 4-H. He is also very active in his church and youth group.



Voice of Oxygen

Brianna M. (Senior Writer for TWJ)

People go through me, pass me all the time;
I want to be noticeable sometimes.
You need me to live,
I always open to give.

I can always see you
but when you don’t see me, I feel blue.
You learn in science about me,
You don’t know what I think and believe.

I am here when you’re sad, happy, or mad;
Without me, you wouldn’t be glad.
My ever-lasting help,
No one recognizes what I felt.

When you walk past me
I wish you could see,
I am always in the air if you want to talk with me.
Let me be your friend
I will never let our friendship end.

Don’t want to be alone anymore,
I just want to be noticed more.

How to be an Excelling Student [Online Schooling Edition]

By, Brianna M. (Senior Writer for TWJ)

Have you heard of the saying “you can be whatever you want to be?” That is true, BUT there are some things you may have to take into consideration. Being an excelling student takes having the motivation, taking the time to study, going to your class connects and putting yourself out there. Motivation is one of the key players to being an excelling student. You have to remember to do it for yourself and why are you working for it. Not every day will be an easy day but staying positive will turn that around for you. When you are motivated, it will help you set new goals and become an even better excelling student. Don’t let procrastination take you out of your motivation.

Studying is very, very, very important. You have to make sure you take notes and look over them at least once a day. Looking over your notes will give you a clear understanding of the material and keeps the topics you learned locked in your head. Then, when it finally comes to assignments or assessments, you will look at it as a piece of cake.

Being in online schooling, the Class Connect sessions are very powerful. When you attend a Class Connect, you get to interact with your teacher and you may ask questions while you are in the classroom. The teachers in the Class Connect gives you the most important information to takes notes on and makes sure you stay on the right track with the lessons.

Lastly, PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE! You should get involved in volunteer opportunities. You want to have those community service hours. If you want to attend college, make sure you get those hours in because they love to see that you are involved in your community. If not college, it is a great thing to do for yourself because you are helping others.

Remember, Remember, Remember…

Motivation– do it for yourself and remember why are you are doing it

Studying-takes notes and study at least once a day

Class connects-it gives you the most important information and good time to ask questions

Putting yourself out there– get involved with the community because helping others is a good thing to do

High School: If He Only knew

By, Madison C. (Senior)

If he only knew how much he meant to me, he would realize the impact he has. The way he talks keeps me open-minded. His kind and gentle words soothe me when I’m stressed. When he tells me that I make things more complicated than it has to be, I realize that he’s right and I put too much pressure on myself than I need to. His caring and protective side for his family and friends makes me realize what friends and family truly are, and that there is a fine line between the two, if any line at all. When he tells me personal information, I file it away in my mind and lock it in a safe, ensuring it will stay protected and never be lost. When I hear his designated ringtone chime, I simply smile, no matter where I am or whom I’m with. When he tells me of his past, I no longer feel alone and my baggage feels lighter. If he only knew how hard it is for me to open up to people and how I have shared more with him than I have shared with even my best of friends. Or if he knew how hard it is to trust people and I already trust him with my life. If he knew that a blissful and peaceful light shines within me with the sheer thought of him.

If he only knew, that in all of this joy, comes great discomfort and doubt. That with all these feelings I have, I am confused. Confused on how he feels, doubtful of his feelings for me, and terrified that all my feelings are one-sided. If only he knew how much I mentally kick myself for having these feelings when we haven’t talked in a while and then mentally applying ice to the bruises when he texts, like there was never a time lapse. Most of all, I am terrified that I am reading too much into the situation.

If he only knew that I am happy with the friendship that we have, that I am the luckiest person alive to have met him and have had the pleasure of knowing him. If he only realized how special he is and how he affects those around him with just a word. If he only knew that who he is and his personality are now the standard to which people hold everyone else to or that he’s the star in someone’s dreams late at night.

If he knew these things, I might die from embarrassment and an overdose of blushing. That’s alright though, because I’ll have died knowing that he knows just how truly amazing and wonderful he is. He would realize that he is often taken for granted and that he deserves better. Hopefully, he would realize that his presence is priceless. If he only knew how truly loved he is.

High School: Tell Me You’re Real

Dreyana G. (Junior)

At first, I was just a character she made up when she was younger. I was her dream boyfriend who would buy her expensive jewelry and take her out to fancy restaurants. When she developed into an older woman, she realized that she will never find a man who loved her like me. Eventually, she began to think of me more and more and envisioned that I was there, cooking with her and shopping with her. Every day I became more tangible to her than she ever dreamed.

The park was our favorite place to visit, especially on days that it would be foolish not to get out and enjoy the sunlight. When Crystal was out in the sun, she radiated more beautifully than the rows of flowers that surrounded us. I watched her with a cheeky grin on my face as she would twirl on the lawn or while she identified shapes in the clouds when we were laying on the grass.

“What?” she queried, giggling when she caught me staring.

“Nothing,” I smirked. “Just that you’re beautiful.” She blushed.

“Sebastian, stop. I’m not really,” she contested.

“Yes, you are. The most beautiful girl in this park.”

“Well,” she arched one eyebrow and looked around the park. “Considering we’re probably here with only a few other people, you might be right.” She sat next to me on the park bench and intertwined her fingers with mine. The gentle wind brushed her hair slightly and a few strands fell in front of her face.

“I’m so glad I found you,” she whispered to me, laying her head on my shoulder. “You’re probably the only one in the world that would dare to fall in love with me.” A single tear escaped from her eye and rolled down her face.

“That’s not true,” I reassured her, gently brushing her hair behind her ear. “Any man would be lucky to have you.”

“Maybe, but I wouldn’t want any man. I love you,” she admitted. I smiled and kissed the top of her head. I love you too, Crystal, I would say to myself. I never had the guts to tell her I loved her or had the heart to admit that I was only a figment of her imagination.

“Hey,” Crystal interjected one day, breaking the soft trance we were in. “I just thought of the greatest idea.” She sat up on the couch and laid her book down on the coffee table.

“Oh yeah, what is it?” I asked, putting my book to the side also.

“I should introduce you to my family since you know…we’re dating and all,” she suggested.

“Uh, I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” I replied, running my hands through my hair.

“Why not? Don’t be afraid, they’ll love you, I promise. They’re not like other parents,” she affirmed.

“It’s not that…”

“We’re going,” she insisted. “I’m going to call them right now!” She slipped off the couch and sprinted to her bedroom.

The morning of the meeting with the family was bright and pleasant. The birds were singing for the summer weather and the flowers were bowing to the green grass as we drove the hour-long drive to her childhood house in the suburbs.

“They can’t wait to meet you, Sebastian,” she announced while adjusting my tie and brushing my hair outside of the car. “Just be yourself, okay?”

I nodded and took a deep breath. This is not going to turn out well. We stepped up to the entrance and Crystal rang the doorbell. She intertwined her hand with mine while putting on her perfect smile with a few food bits between her teeth.

“Crystal!” her mother and dad exclaimed once they came to the door. She immediately embraced them in a hug. Her younger sister, Amber, also came to the door and welcomed her back home.

“So…where’s this piece of man candy you were bragging about on the phone?” Amber asked looking around the porch.

“What are you talking about?” Crystal scoffed, looking at them like they were blind. “He’s right here. Mom, Dad, this is Sebastian. He is my…boyfriend,” she grinned proudly. Her family’s facial expressions went from cheerful to perplexed. Amber couldn’t help herself and let out a little snicker.

“Crystal, hun, there is no one there,” her mother pointed out. Her dad waved his arm in the area where I would have been to check if he was missing something.

“Yes, there is. Look, Sebastian say something,” she commanded me, desperately.

“They can’t see me, Crystal,” I whispered to her but she ignored me.

“Crystal, no one is standing next to you,” her father asserted.

“Are you kidding me?” Crystal shrieked. “You guys are clearly pretending to not see him. You just can’t accept the fact that someone as handsome and kind as Sebastian is fond of me. You all are horrible people,” she yelled. She whirled around and started to jog down the steps of the porch.

“Truly, we are not trying to be mean. We want to understand what you are trying to show us. Please stay and let’s talk about this,” her mother pleaded, running after us. Her father and Amber followed.

“Stay away from me,” Crystal demanded, stomping off towards the car.

“Crystal, just talk to us! We want to help you!”

“It was nice meeting you all,” I yelled back to them, trying to keep up with Crystal’s large strides.

“Don’t talk to them, Sebastian!” she ordered. We finally reached the car but her family was still lagging behind us, trying to stop us from leaving. She started the car and rolled down the window.

“Just because you can’t see him doesn’t mean he isn’t there,” she shouted out to her parents.

“I can’t believe she brought an imaginary boyfriend for us to meet. I mean, who does that?” I heard Amber mock as Crystal was driving away.

It was a long and silent drive back home. Dark clouds started to spread over the clear sky and soon the sun was also gone from sight. Silent sparks of lightning stretched across the horizon and I couldn’t help but think that it was quiet for a reason. I needed to tell her the truth so that she doesn’t suffer from any other embarrassment. I needed to tell her that I was not real; that our relationship was pure fantasy. I needed to tell her that her parents were not crazy. But I couldn’t. I loved her too much to have her happiness that she had manifested for herself disappear. Ignorance is bliss, right? Honestly, I thought that deep down she knew I wasn’t there; she knew that she was in love with a fictitious being. She just didn’t want to admit it because then that would bring her back to reality where she believed a girl like herself wouldn’t get a guy like me. She wanted to stay in her make-believe world, the world where I was there and she was happy.

About a month later, we were going to visit with Crystal’s family again. We went out to a very exclusive restaurant (one where you have to reserve months in advance to get a seat) for our two years and six months anniversary. The restaurant was very elegant and the food was extravagant. The dimmed sunlight from outside gave the restaurant a relaxed and romantic mood and the expensive chandelier suspended from the ceiling made us feel like we were in a palace. We requested to be seated near the waterfront so that we could watch the sunset. As we were following the maître d’ to our seat, we passed Crystal’s old school-mate.

“Oh my gosh! Crystal, hey! How have you been?” a brunette exclaimed jumping up from her seat to hug Crystal.

“India! It’s been so long,” Crystal replied, squeezing her old friend in a tight hug. “Oh, this is Sebastian, my boyfriend,” she informed India.

She looked around to see who she was talking about.

“Oh really, um, where is he?” India asked Crystal.

Crystal huffed. “He is literally right in front of you.”

“Are you sure, because I don’t see anyone in front of me?”

“She can’t see me,” I whispered to her and she ignored me, yet again.

“No! I’m getting really irritated with people acting like they are oblivious or that my boyfriend isn’t here when I see him standing right next to me!” she shouted, motioning to where I would have been. Heads turned and people stopped talking to see what the fuss was going on behind them. “You make me sound like I’m crazy, and I’m not. You’re just jealous that I could get a guy like this and you couldn’t.”

India looked startled from Crystal’s sudden outrage. “I am really sorry, Crystal. I didn’t mean to get you upset. I think you might be seeing things; you might need some help. I think I know some people who can help you.”

Crystal did an abrupt about-face and stomped out of the restaurant, without acknowledging India’s offer.

“These people are making me think that I’m crazy. I’m not crazy, they are. I know he’s real. They are just jealous. That’s all. They are jealous that they can’t find love like I have,” Crystal murmured to herself, trying to convince herself that I’m real.

“Crystal, we need to talk,” I requested, getting into the car.

She started the car and drove out of the parking lot. “Yeah, okay. I’m heading to the park so we can talk there.”

She slid the car into a space and we walked to the closest gazebo. It was nighttime but dark clouds were still visibly covering the night’s stars. The wind was strong and swept Crystal’s ivory hair to the side as we walked toward the lake. We sat side-by-side and stared at the water in front of us as it rippled from the drizzle of the rain. The anticipation of confessing the truth to her made my heart thud in my chest. I couldn’t decipher if it was rain or sweat that accumulated on my back, but I could tell that I was nervous to reveal to her what she needed to hear. I decided that it was selfish of me to have her continue believing that I was just a normal person. Even though I loved her, I knew it was time to let her go.

I took a deep breath. “Crystal. This is very important and it is crucial that you listen to everything I say and not interrupt me, okay.”

“Um, okay, sure.”

“Well, for starters, I love you. I’ve never told you I do, but think it is important that you know that now,” I started.

She beamed and nodded, “I love you too.” She pulled at her jacket collar to hide her grin.

“I’m just going to come out and say it. I am not real. Me and you right now, it’s not really happening. It’s all in your head,” I simply told her. She shook her head.

“I don’t understand, what are you talking about?” she asked with a puzzled face.

“Okay, just listen. For a few years now, you have been pretending that you and your make-believe dream man have been dating. I am him. You have created this fantasy world in which you live to escape the reality that our relationship would most likely never happen in real life. Basically, for two or more years, you have been imagining that I’m really here and that we have this amazing relationship and perfect life, but you are actually alone. You have been for years. Deep down I know you realize this because otherwise, I wouldn’t be telling you. All of what I say is coming from you, your conscience, your own head. You have known all along that this isn’t real and you just never wanted to come to terms with it,” I leveled with her. Her face indicated her confusion and sadness.

“You’re lying. Is this your cruel way of breaking up with me? To make me believe that I’m insane,” she questioned in disbelief.

“No, I am telling you the truth and you know it.” She studied my eyes and saw that I was telling the truth.

“So this is why my family and friends and other people aren’t able to see you?” she asked softly, her head bowed in defeat.

“Yeah, that’s why they couldn’t see me. They really weren’t trying to be mean. They were seeing exactly what was there: nothing.”

“I feel so bad. How did I let this happen? How did I let this get so bad?” she questioned. I rubbed her back to ease the pain when she started to cry. “So, what am I supposed to do after this? I mean, we are in love, I can’t let you go,” she sniffled trying to hold back any more tears.

“You’re going to have to, but I can’t tell you how. Don’t worry, though. I will always be with you. I am you, remember? I can’t live without you,” I noted while tucking strands of her hair behind her ear. Tears continued to slide down her cheeks but she smiled a rueful smile. We sat there, watching the moon appear from behind the storm clouds and cast its reflection onto the lake water.

“I’m going to miss you, a lot,” she admitted, sighing into my chest as she hugged me.

“Me too.”

“I know how I can let you go. Tell me you’re real, just once. I’ll close my eyes and when I open them, you’ll be gone.” She stood up, gave me a quick kiss on my cheek, took a step back and closed her eyes.

“I’m real,” I sighed and just like that, I slipped away from her world.

Dealing With Deadlines

By Mandi D. (Junior)

As teenagers, I don’t think many of us have missed the first part of the word “deadlines.” Dead is a pretty accurate description for how we often feel after a deadline has passed. In my life, I have met very few people who are good at completing work before the night before a deadline. It can be an article, a homework assignment, or an application, but deadlines are practically synonyms for stress.

Just to refresh our minds, let me explain what a deadline is. A deadline is the date when something is due. What this something is can vary, but it’s often very important to our success. That’s why missing or failing to meet a deadline can be so upsetting.

When we first receive a deadline for a project, we tend to note it in the back of our minds and then completely forget the project until the last moment we have that we can actually complete the project. This makes the projects’ quality suffer, because we’re rushed to finish it in time. This is why having a strategy for meeting deadlines with a quality project and stress-free is such an important thing to have. Here’s a plan for you to meet those deadlines a lot happier.

Step #1: Break up the project into smaller pieces. The pieces depend on the project, but it’s a lot easier to make the project a series of smaller pieces. Example: when dealing with a research paper on a historical figure, break up the research by parts of their life.

Step #2: Make a timeline for the project. This can be like a lot more mini-deadlines, but not as much is as stake if you miss them. Work on making sure that you’ll have enough time to complete each part of the project. Example: continuing from the previous example, expect to have the research and paragraph on their birth completed by September 12th.

Step #3: Schedule a daily/weekly time to work on the project. This depends on your timeline and overall work time, but scheduling a consistent time to work on the project allows you to begin it automatically and complete each piece of the project with consistent quality. Example: daily work at 4:00 PM.

Step #4: Follow your plan. The plan laid out above is completely useless if you don’t actually follow it. Actually follow the steps and you’ll be good.

Hopefully, these steps can help you make your deadlines much better! Try inputting this plan when working on projects and see if it helps you out at all. Good luck!

High School: Romantic Relationships How-To

By Mandi D. (Junior)

What’s one of the hardest things to do as a teenager? Outside of college applications, exams, and choosing what you’re going to do for the rest of your life at age eighteen… Okay, maybe not the hardest thing you’ll ever do as a teen. However, romantic relationships are a large, confusing, complex part of life. Unfortunately, we aren’t given a life’s handbook that includes how to ask someone out, date, and all that fun stuff (Although I should try to write one. Let everyone fail with me). I’m hardly an expert at relationships, but if all else fails, at least you’ll have an interesting experience out of it! Therefore, some steps on how to ask someone out!

Step #1: Decide on a list of qualities you desire in a romantic partner. Obviously, you won’t have the perfect romantic partner, but there are certain qualities that you shouldn’t compromise on. This can be traits (like a sense of humor), an interest (enjoy watching Doctor Who), or something else (like religion or loving dogs). While some things should be nonnegotiable for your standards, other things can be optional. For example: Any boyfriend you have may have to be kind, but not he won’t necessarily enjoy watching Sherlock.

Step #2: Decide on one person you’re actually interested in. Wouldn’t it suck if the person you were dating actually liked another person, as well as you, or only went out with you because they didn’t want to be single? Despite what TV may lead you to believe, love triangles aren’t fun for anyone involved. So just don’t do it.

Step #3: Ask the person out! The only thing left to do is do it. A couple of tips would be: ask the person out alone, make them feel free to say no, accept a no if you get one, and have a rough idea for a date. Don’t put all the effort on them if you’re the one asking!

Step #4: Plan the date! This may come before step three, if you’re doing it by yourself. If you’re doing it with the person you asked out, great! Planning a date can be really difficult, but here are a couple of ideas! You can go to the movies, dinner, a play, the zoo or aquarium, the mall, or a park!

Step #5: Relax, have fun, and go for it! Ta da! You did it. You asked someone out and they (presumably) said yes! Good for you, now all that’s left is to fall in love, get married, and have kids! Kidding! Seriously though, dates are supposed to be fun. Don’t be nervous, what’s the worst thing that could happen? (And no, a bridge will not realistically fall on the restaurant, crushing you into your humiliation.)

So those are the steps to asking someone out! Not so scary now, is it? Yes? Okay, fair point, but still. They are a teenager, just like you. So, hopefully, you’re a bit more confident now about asking someone out! Anyway, that’s your steps on “How to Ask Someone Out”!


Good luck, lovebirds!