October Contest Winners Announcement!

Hello, TWJ Readers!

Thank you to all who submitted their spooky stories for the October Writing Contest! Without further ado, the winners are:

1st Place: “The Little Girl Who Wasn’t” by Justin Smithers

2nd Place: “Don’t Turn Around” by Ashley Carter

3rd Place: “The Tale of the Singing Graveyard” by Chloe Gray

Congratulations, guys! To the first place winner, look out for the email about your prize in the next couple of days.

If you didn’t place this time, that’s okay! Your submissions were still wonderful additions to the paper and we do hope you’ll try submitting again to our November Writing Contest! The theme this month is anything and everything having to do with November. Whether you want to write about thankfulness or falling leaves, this month’s theme is pretty much wide open! So, don’t be shy, submit today!

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How to Nail This School Year

By: Mandi D.

Welcome back to the school year, GCA! It’s already November, so we’re already almost done with the first semester! While you’re all probably mostly settled back, it’s nice to get some tips on how to better improve your school performance for this year and the remainder of your education. Here are some strategies and tips for students of all ages for the following school year!

Studying

We’ve all been there. It’s the day before EOCs and you’re desperately cramming everything you can to make sure that you don’t flunk. This… is a really, really bad plan, guys. It’s more liable that you’ll burn yourself out and not remember a thing. Instead, make sure that you study everything throughout the entire year instead of all at once.

The specifics of how you study will vary depending on your learning style, schedule, and personality type. Ultimately, that’s what you have to figure out for yourself and no article can really help you. However, I can give you some ideas for the different learning styles. There are considered to be four different learning styles: visual, auditory, read-write, and kinesthetic.

Visual learners mostly learn new information from, as you’ve likely guessed, visuals. Some characteristics of visual learners are remembering information that has been read over heard information, diagrams and charts helping you understand, taking notes during class and presentations, using colors to organize information, preferring to work alone over group-work, asking a lot of questions, and preferring to see the teacher. Studying for visual learners may be better by taking notes directly off the board, attending Class Connect sessions, using flash cards, and color coding information.

Auditory learners learn new information from audio. Some characteristics of auditory learners include remembering information easily, enjoying active discussion participation, recalling information from hearing it, possibly taking notes, and typically having a good memory. Studying for auditory learners may be better by reading out loud when studying, joining a study group, attending Class Connect sessions, and utilizing videos.

Kinesthetic learners learn new information by doing physical activities. Some characteristics of kinesthetic learners include excelling at sports, drama, or art, having trouble sitting still, enjoying building, making, or creating things, and they learn best by doing. Studying for kinesthetic learners may be better by playing a study game, taking breaks after certain amounts of time, walking around while reviewing notes, or tracing notes with your finger.

Read-write learners learn new information the traditional way. Some characteristics of read-write learners are doing well in a conventional classroom, preferring written directions, enjoying reading and writing, taking thorough notes in class, preferring studying by themselves, and working best in quiet areas. Studying for read-write learners may be better by taking and rewriting notes, keeping handouts, using bullet points, reviewing notes after class, and turning visual information into statements.

Focusing

Whether you love or hate school, focusing on coursework, Class Connects, and assignments can be difficult at times. That’s why it is really important to have a plan on how you’re going to conquer every challenge today. You’ll need to really understand where you end up going off topic and find the way to curtail it. Some major challenges in focusing can be: physical environment, virtual environment, motivation, and planning.

First off is your physical environment. This is where you’re doing coursework, Class Connects, studying, etc. You should have a designated area where you work on school stuff that is not your bed. The best place is either a table or a desk where you can keep your laptop, especially if you hook the mouse into it. Any supplies you need should be close by, whether it be a physical notebook, textbooks, or a mouse. Make sure that the area is brightly lit (like with a lamp) and quiet. If you personally need some kind of noise, there are plenty of websites online that generate background noise. Try to avoid actual songs, though, because those can deter you from your concentration.

Next is your virtual environment. This is basically your entire laptop. Try to have everything organized so that you aren’t easily distracted. Put files away to specific folders, bookmark your favorites accordingly, and personalize your computer so that it best fits your needs. To take it a step forward, have a browser or Google Chrome profile set up just for classwork! Another tip is to install some kind of website blocker program or extension onto your computer. You can use them to block certain websites for a designated amount of time. The one I use is called ColdTurkey, but you can find the one that works best for you!

After that, it’s your motivation. Again, school can be boring. However, you need to be motivated enough to get through it. This can be done by having a punishment if you don’t get everything done on time, or having a reward if you do! You can also give yourself timed breaks for a certain amount of time worked so that you can relax for a few minutes.

Finally, you need to plan to focus. This can be schedules, to-do lists, not-to-do lists, goals, etc. List out what you need to get done first. If you think that you’ll have the time and the discipline, you can even list out what you want to get done after everything required is done. For example: a Forensic Science exam takes precedence over that club meeting.

Organization

Part of being an online student is that we have less physical objects to keep up with, but more files and folders. Depending on extra-curriculars, classes, and any other activities in your life, this can get even more extensive. That’s why it’s just as important to have an organized system for virtual schooling as brick-and-mortar schooling. One popular way is to create folders on your computer for each class so that you can store them documents for easy keeping. Separate class information to each class, club information to each club, etc. This makes it a lot easier to find things faster and more efficiently.

Deadlines

As you probably noticed, GCA’s deadlines are much more relaxed about deadlines than some brick-and-mortar schools. However, that doesn’t change the fact that you need to work on meeting them in a timely and efficient fashion. Take care to note when deadlines are and for what. Mark it on a calendar or an app on your phone. Make plans to work on the project for several days before the deadline. It’s best to be early with an assignment than late.

Focus on your individual needs and requirements for school. The stuff that works for you may not work for me and vice versa. Don’t subscribe to some study belief just because it’s popular or works for other people. As long as it works for you, then it’s right. Take care and nail this school year!

How to Ace Your IA

By: Riley S.

Hello! I, of course, am a student at GCA. I am currently a junior, so I have a few years of experience when it comes to taking tests and preparing for them. Therefore, let me provide you with a few tips to help you ace your next IA!

Tip #1: Study as much as you can!

Make the most out of your study time. You can’t get worked up and never touch a textbook. You also need to get organized! I can’t stress enough about how important it is for you to stay organized. You don’t need organization just for your study time, you need it for everything. It is a helping hand when it comes to lost papers, tests, cleaning, life, home and work.

You need to make a schedule. Work out how many hours you need to study per subject. This may vary from subject to subject. For example, I am exceptionally good at ELA, hence I would probably only need one hour of study time.

You need to study each and every day, but make sure that you give your brain a break about every 30 minutes. AVOID CRAMMING THE NIGHT BEFORE! I’ve tried it. Stop. Just study a little every day and you will be on the road to success!

Tip #2: Ask for Help!

Studying can become very difficult when you don’t understand the content. Don’t be afraid to ask your teachers OR your peers for help! It will maximize your study efficiency and allow you to ace your next IA. Request a Learner Conference or come to a Raise Your Grade session, those always help me!

Tip #3: Make the Most of Your Morning!

You need to make it a priority to get up as soon as possible and eat a healthy breakfast.

Did you know? When you sleep at night, you are going eight to ten hours without eating. That’s like skipping breakfast AND lunch! I would be hungry! It is important to fuel your body in the mornings. It gives you the energy you need for the day, mentally and physically.

Tip #4: Deal with Your Stress!

Stress is perfectly normal! Stress can actually be a positive motivator, yet too much of it can have a negative effect on your IA performance.

Make sure that you take those breaks (every 30 minutes) and take time to grab a snack, text a friend, watch a TV show, or go on a run.

Tip #5: Take Your Time!

This tip is the most important one! Pay close attention. When taking your IA, avoid any distractions. Lock your door, turn on some instrumental music, and concentrate.

Don’t panic! You have spent all this time studying and you will do GREAT!

If you don’t know the answer to a question, skip it! You can always go back. When you finish, never leave your test early. Go back and revise your answers.

Don’t take the IA until you are FULLY prepared. No matter how many emails your teacher sends out, DON’T take it until you are prepared. But, make sure you don’t stress yourself out by waiting to take until right before the deadline!

This is my wish of good luck for you! I hope that these tips help you and that you ace your next IA!

College Essay Tips

By: Matthew S.

So you beat the SAT with a perfect score and you aced the ACT, but then it hits you. The essay. You spend all day “researching” sample essays and tips for writing, but don’t sweat it, my friend, salvation is right around the corner.

Essays. We all hate them and if you don’t, I don’t believe that you’re human. You don’t need to worry, though, just treat it like a normal essay for school. If it’s a non-fiction one, then use that handy-dandy ACE method we all learned. First, answer the question. Second, cite evidence that you gathered. Finally, explain how it all connects! Easy as pie, right?

Okay, if you’re still here, it means it wasn’t just as easy as a simple non-fiction question. What if it’s about your life? You. Can. Still. Do. This. Just keep it simple! Write it like you’re trying to convince a 3rd grader who has no interest in you of why you’re awesome. Here’s how you do it. You sit the metaphorical 3rd grader down and you tell it to him straight. “Look, kid, I’m awesome, okay?”

Just like that! You have to remember that an actual person reads these so you’re trying to convince them why they should let you into their club. No pressure.

Just remember to use the ACE method and keep it short. That’s all you need. Now go get ‘em, tiger! Write those essays and earn that college degree! Oh, and remember, there is always community college if you don’t get in!

The Girl

By: Tyler M.

I sat on the steps waiting for the Heads to come back with the new girl. I know what you are thinking. “The Heads? What kind of place are you in?” Easy question to answer, I suppose. I’m in an orphanage. The Heads are the sisters from the old church that take care of us. There aren’t many of them, seeing as it’s an all-girls orphanage in a small town. Not many kids come here.

Hearing the creaking of the door, I shot up and gave the biggest smile I could muster. Sister Joy did always say my smile could make the darkest days light. Sister Anna walked in, along with someone I couldn’t see. “Come on sweetie, no need to be shy,” Sister Anna said.

Loud footsteps echoed behind her. Turning around, I saw the other girls looking ahead, a collective gasp escaping from them. Confused, I turned around and saw why they were gasping. The girl had a scar covering half of her face. I admit, it was kind of creepy, but they were being dramatic.

Smiling, I bounced my way up to her and held out my hand. “Hi! I’m Tara, what’s your name?” She just stared at me and I dropped my hand slowly. “You know, not speaking when someone’s talking to you is rude,” I said, placing my hands on my hips.

She glared at me before she began to scream. I covered my ears and fell to the ground at how loud it was. The sound stopped and I looked up at her to see her smiling creepily. Sister Anna rushed to my side and helped me to my feet. “My goodness, child, what is wrong with you,” she asked, staring at me like I was crazy.

“Didn’t her screaming hurt your ears, too?” I questioned in disbelief.

Looking at me confused, Sister Anna asked, “What screaming, child?”

It was from that day, when she first came, that a lot of weird things started to happen around the orphanage. She appeared in corners and when I looked away and back, she was gone. Everyone thought I was crazy when I told them what was happening. It was bad enough that we had to share a room together. She would just stare at me until I fell asleep, or at least until she thought I was asleep. I remember when I asked one of the sisters where she came from, she said she didn’t know. No one even knew her name, so it wasn’t like we couldn’t find records or anything.

One day, I was pulled from my thoughts by someone whispering my name. I looked at the time on my bedside clock to see that it was three in the morning. I could still hear the whispers, so I climbed out of bed to investigate. Walking out of my room, I went down the stairs and into the kitchen.

“Come closer,” the voice whispered. I was confused, because closer would mean outside and it was dark and woodsy out there. The voice yelled, “Now!”

Mentally shaking my head, I went out the back door and into the woods. Someone ran past me and I turned and chased after them, yelling for them to wait for me. They turned and stopped. It was the girl. My eyes widened and I backed up. “What do you want from me?” I finally asked.

She started cackling loudly. “You don’t remember me?”

My eyes widened because I’d never heard her speak before, only that one scream. I shook my head at her.

“My name is Junie Bells. The same Junie Bells who you and your friends bullied in elementary school! It took a lot for me to get here. Who would have known the big and bad bully would end up here,” she cackled.

“So what’s your plan? Your going to hurt me, Junie? Sorry, but that won’t work.” I laughed.

“It already has,” she said, smiling. I heard people screaming my name and looked over to see the sisters and girls running towards me.

“Why are you in the forest, Tara?” Sister Joy questioned.

“The girl brought me here and her name is Junie Bells,” I said, looking up and smirking at Junie.

Everyone looked around in confusion. Sister Anna asked, “Who is this girl you keep talking about, Tara?”

“The girl you brought in a few months ago; the one the girls gasped at with the scar on her face.”

Lisa, a girl two years older than me, was the one to finally speak. “We gasped because Sister Anna brought us a puppy, but I guess you didn’t notice because you were yelling at corners and talking to yourself in your room.”

That’s when I noticed her holding a little puppy in her arms. “Wait, did you say Junie Bells,” Sister Joy asked. I nodded quickly, thinking she finally understood. “Young lady, that is nothing to play around about! That little girl and her family died in a tragic house fire last year.”

I just shook my head and started yelling at them. I looked over to see Junie cackling loudly and that’s the last thing I remember before it all went black. Then I woke up here in the asylum. That was ten years ago.

Didn’t Get to Climb Your Way to Stone Mountain?

By: Riley S.

If you missed the outing day at Stone Mountain, don’t stress it! Walk it off, because I am here to tell you all about it!

I was able to attend the Stone Mountain outing with my mom. We had an amazing time despite the hot weather conditions.

I was also able to meet some of my teachers, such as my American Literature teacher. She was very comforting in her greeting and made me feel very welcomed and accepted. I got to meet my Physics teacher, who happens to be my favorite teacher, and she was exceptionally sweet! I was also able to meet my homeroom teacher and my classmates which was the best part for me because my homeroom class has become like a little family! We are very welcoming to each other and we are comfortable sharing our troubles, desires, and stressful times with one another. Everyone is amazingly comforting and inspiring. I look up to every one of my classmates and you should, too!

Just because you missed Stone Mountain doesn’t mean that you can’t build healthy and strong relationships in the classroom.

I challenge you to dig deeper than the surface of face-to-face meetings and find out something new about one of your classmates. Hold each other accountable to the classroom rules, help your peers, and lift one another up when they are down. You don’t need a face-to-face interaction with someone to get to know them for who they truly are.

Take on my challenge with a fearless pursuit of happiness and with your head held high! Go out there and make an inspiring new friendship!

Mystery of the Missing “Billie Jean” Glove

By: Chloe G.

Every town has a concert occasionally. Especially my town, because my town really, really loves Michael Jackson (my best friend) and because this is his hometown. Although, something about this particular Michael Jackson concert was very mysterious. Like every concert, Michael would have his silver “Billie Jean” glove, but this time, he didn’t. There are rumors on the news that the glove went missing.

One day, I went to see if the rumors were true. With a crowd bigger then my house and my grandmother’s house combined, it was like chaos. As I was waiting in line to get my ticket, suddenly I heard, “oh no” coming from the other side of the ticket booth. Without thinking, I rushed past everyone to get backstage. As I got closer, I realized it was Michael’s voice.

“Michael, what’s wrong,” I yelled.

“Kaylee! Kaylee! I’m so glad you’re here! You’re not going to believe this, but my silver glove is missing,” Michael said as I came in.

“Your what? How?” I said in surprise. “You always…” Michael cut me off.

“I know, I know, Kaylee! But it’s gone and…” Just then, Michael’s manager Jon Stewart came in.

“Michael, are you ready?” Jon asked.

As soon as Jon came in, Michael froze. Before Michael could regain his thoughts and answer his question, I jumped in.

“Michael wants me to perform tonight,” I said. When I was finished, Jon looked at Michael questioningly, and then back at me as if he wanted me to continue so I did. “Michael has stage fright,” I continued. Then, it was Michael’s turn to look at me questioningly, but as if understanding where I was going with this, he looked back at Jon and nodded in agreement.

“It’s true Jon; I have stage fright I can’t do it,” Michael said.

As soon as Michael said that, everything thing was in “Go Mode”. I was being rushed off to the hair and makeup department, Jon was yelling and screaming.

“Michael’s not going to preform! Michael’s not going to preform!” Even Michael was in shock. While I was in the hair and makeup department, I got out my phone and texted Michael.

Kaylee: Find that glove and once you find it, come back here and tell Jon you want to do a duet with me.

Ten seconds later Michael texted back.

Michael: Okay, you’re going to do great just do that song you wrote for your boyfriend.

Kaylee: Ok, but please find that glove and hurry back.

As soon as Michael got the text from Kaylee, he was off. He ran out of the auditorium with Jon yelling and screaming after him.

“Michael come back! Michael come back!”

Michael wasn’t listening. He raced to the nearest airport and took an emergency flight out to Los Angeles, California to Neverland Ranch. Then, as he got there, he raced into the house searching and searching for his glove. It wasn’t in the living room, it wasn’t in his bedroom and it wasn’t by his piano. Just then, Michael thought, what was I doing before the concert? Then, Michael remembered he was at the Staples Center rehearsing for his show. As soon as Michael realized that he left his glove at the Staples Center, he remembered that Kaylee was there preforming in his place so he texted her.

Michael: Kaylee you won’t believe this, I left my glove at the Staples Center. Are you on stage yet? About 10 seconds later, Kaylee texted back.

Kaylee: No way!!! You left your glove here at the Staples Center? And no.

Michael: Yes. Now look, go behind the stage and you should see a silver briefcase. Open the briefcase up, and you should see my black “Billie Jean” hat and my silver “Billie Jean” glove. Don’t do anything until I get there, and tell Jon I’m on my way.

Kaylee: Ok Michael, but hurry, you don’t have much time before the show.

With that, I did what Michael directed and waited for him to return before the show started.

About an hour before the show started, Michael arrived.

“Michael where have you been?” Jon asked, relived to see Michael as he came running through the door.

“Sorry I…”

“No time to explain, it’s time to get ready for the show,” Jon said, interrupting Michael in the middle of a sentence. With that, Michael raced backstage to get ready for the show.

When Michael came in, I Immediately ran up to him embracing him in a hug.

“Michael I’m so glad we found your glove,” I said as I hugged him. “I guess we solved the mystery of the missing “Billie Jean” glove.”

“Yeah, I guess we did. I guess we did, Kaylee,” Michael said with a giggle.