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WOW Teen Writer Bids Farewell

After more than four years, my time writing for the World of Westchase as the Kid Reporter has come to an end.

It has been a truly wonderful experience and I have so many people to thank for allowing me this great opportunity.

First, I would like to thank my parents for getting me involved with the WOW. Without them I never would have had the courage to publish my writing. I am also incredibly grateful to have had Mr. Barrett as a mentor, teacher, editor and publisher over the course of these past few years. He has helped me and my writing in a number of ways. For that, I am immensely thankful. Of all the things for which I am grateful, however, what I appreciate the most is the participation of countless kids and teenagers in my monthly articles.

My very first column was titled “What’s Your Dream Teacher Like?” I remember spending days outlining the article. I think I probably wrote it three times before eventually putting together a final draft to send to Mr. Barrett.

What I found the most nerve-racking, however, was having to interview high school students in order to write it. I was only in fourth grade and high-schoolers were definitely near the top on the list of things that terrified me. Fortunately, the teenagers with whom I spoke were extremely helpful and encouraging.

I never had a bad experience when I interviewed people for my columns. The former assistant principal at Westchase, Mrs. Moody, even agreed to meet with me once when I wrote about FCAT and standardized testing. The contributions from all of these people, not to mention all of the kids my age who were mentioned every month, made my time writing for the WOW as lengthy and valuable as it was.

My goal when I started the Kid Reporter column was to write something for kids by a kid. I wanted to tell people my age what was going on in the world around us and what our peers’ opinions were about those events. Through this column I have learned more about journalism and writing than I could have ever expected. This has been a fantastic few years that I will carry with me for the rest of my writing career.

Thank you, Westchase, for sharing them with me.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is a freshman at Robinson IB High School.


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The Importance of the Arts

Many different forms of art meaningfully influence on our lives.

Some may find a painting by Picasso particularly inspiring. Perhaps a Shakespeare play is what excites you. I believe, however, that we all share a fascination with music. Whether you use music to relax or make music your profession, music seems to find a way to incorporate itself into all of our lives.

Every day teenagers across the country listen to punk, rock, pop, and even classical music for various reasons. Leena Paramanik, a student at King High School, finds music important to her daily routine. “Music is the story of life,” she explained. “There is a song for everything and every moment in life. Sometimes you need a moment to connect and music is always there.”

A future freshman at Blake High School I spoke to remarked that she views music as a way to express herself. She and others also strongly relate to songs’ lyrics. A student from Hillsborough High School observed, “Music is everywhere… It gives rhythm to life. It comes from so many unlikely places. Music is organized chaos, which makes it parallel to life.”

I agree with all three of them. With its large number of genres, music can touch a wide range of people. Both Leena and the Blake student mentioned that music is something that people, especially teenagers, rely on to feel comforted or at ease. I believe that music, whether you are listening to it or performing it, is one of the most personal forms of art. This is why so many people identify with it: it is an integral part of life.

In addition, Leena also pointed out that music can “help a greater cause.” Many examples of this exist, such as benefit concerts. Right here in Tampa people are using their musical abilities to impact others. In fact, a group of middle and high schoolers in our area is doing just that by performing at nursing homes.

If you have this gift, why not share it so that others can be touched by the beauty of music as well?

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti will be a freshman at Robinson IB High School in the fall.


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Surviving Summer Reading

While summer is here, we still have some assignments to do.

Every middle school and high school student has been given a list of books to read this summer. Seventy-five percent of us will tackle them a week before school starts. Having used this strategy for the past three years, I can tell you that it’s not a good idea. When you speed read all of the required books at the last minute, you won’t enjoy them and you won’t remember very much. To make your summer work easier and more beneficial, here are a few tips:

Create a completion schedule. You have all of the time in the world, right? Yet if you leave summer work for the last minute, you could end up doing it during your family’s vacation or when your friends plan something fun.  Write out a schedule so that work doesn’t conflict with other summer activities.

Space out your work. Especially when reading books, spread out the time you need to complete your assignments. You do not want to spend five straight hours during your last week of summer reading a 300-page book on how to read like a literature professor. Instead, give yourself about 50 pages to read per day.

Read for pleasure, too. Don’t forget the purpose of summer reading assignments: to keep you intellectually active when you’re not in class. Your schools don’t want you to return in August without having touched a book in three months. If you don’t enjoy reading Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens (which is actually on the Robinson High School’s IB Reading List), then try reading something you would like as well.

A few books for incoming freshmen that I would definitely recommend (just check them with your parents first, of course) are: the Legend series by Marie Lu, the Gone series by Michael Grant, the I Am Number Four series by Pittacus Lore, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and The Fault in Our Stars series by John Green. All of these novels are great and very widely acclaimed.

With three simple steps, you’ll get all of your work done and enjoy your summer.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti will be a freshman at Robinson IB High School in the fall.


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The Journey Continues

As June begins, many eighth graders begin to feel a bit nostalgic for our middle school years.

For many of us, the school year’s end means leaving behind friends and moving out of comfort zones. For all, it means we’re starting a new chapter in our lives. Middle school was a time for change and getting our first taste of independence. High school will definitely be an important part of our lives. We’ll start making decisions that will affect us for the rest of our lives.

So, of course, we’re a little bit nervous.

But that nervous feeling is mixed with excitement and, at least in my case, some sadness at leaving middle school. I asked a couple of eighth graders what their favorite part of middle school was and what they’re looking forward to the most in high school.

Eduuy McCook, an incoming freshman at Hillsborough IB High School, says that her favorite part of middle school was all of the lasting friendships that she made. What she’s looking forward to in high school is getting to know her teachers and having more freedom. Similarly, Lauren Green, a soon-to-be Robinson Knight, said that she enjoyed meeting so many new people in middle school. On the other hand, she is most excited to be a part of the swim team next year. Jacob Chityl says that what he liked the most about middle school was seeing his hard work pay off. He says that he’s looking forward to meeting new people at Strawberry Crest High School.

I’m feeling a combination of all of those things. I had so many great experiences in middle school, including Model United Nations and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). I also made friendships that will last well into the next four years. I also had the wonderful opportunity to learn from teachers like Mrs. Krug, Mr. Passalaris, and Mrs. McKee at Williams Middle School. I’ve learned more in these past three years at Williams than I did in all five years of elementary school. For that I’m extremely grateful.

Now, as I look to the future in high school, I see the opportunity to further expand my experiences. Some doors may be closing as we leave our middle school years behind, but more will with undoubtedly be opened in the years to come.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti will be a freshman at Robinson IB High School in the fall.


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How to Survive the School Year’s Rush Hour

It’s that time of year again. FCAT, end-of-course exams and finals are just around the corner.

Add to that the heaps of homework assigned by teachers who are racing to complete the curriculum. Getting through the “rush hour” of the school year will take a lot of effort. Unfortunately, side effects like stress can get in the way of students’ success. How can kids manage stress and sail past tests and into the summer? The answer, surprisingly, comes from a few easy steps.

I asked one of my teachers what she would recommend for students trying to control stress and she said that there were two things she would suggest:


A lot of kids do their homework in the order of their class periods. “But what if you have a huge assignment for your first period class?” she asked. “Then, you’ll get bogged down with that class’s homework and you will never make it to seventh.”

Her idea is to make a list of all your work, ranked from the simplest task to the most difficult or time consuming. That way, you can complete the easy items first and then spend the majority of your time on the one challenging assignment.

Which brings me to the second point:

Time Management

Keep track of how long you’re willing to spend on each assignment. Let’s say it’s a Tuesday. You get home from school at 4 p.m. and have to leave for soccer practice at 6 p.m. That gives you roughly two hours to get all of your homework done. The best way to tackle this seemingly overwhelming task is to decide to spend half an hour on your fairly easy math homework and devote the rest of the time to your more complicated science project.

Simply practicing these two steps can make handling day-to-day stress much easier. Another idea is to exercise. Harvard Health says that physical activity “has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.”

Find what works best for you and stick to it. In no time you’ll be done with school and cruising into summer.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is an eighth grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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Beauty in Natural Diversity

With all of the technology, industry and development surrounding kids today, naturally beautiful places can seem very scarce.

This past spring break, however, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.

At 5,945 feet Grandfather Mountain is one of the highest peaks in the region. It contains 16 natural communities and several habitat exhibits. It is one the most biologically diverse areas east of the Mississippi. This is made evident as you drive up the mountain. Colorful plants are everywhere, threatening to spill onto the road.

The first stop is Split Rock, a giant boulder perfectly split by seismic activity. Next to it sits the Nature Museum, in which you’ll find life-sized models of the animals that live on the mountain. Finally, there’s the Mile-High Swinging Bridge. Yes, it is a mile high and, yes, it is a suspension bridge. And let me tell you, it is not for the faint of heart. I trembled with fear (and cold as it was freezing up there) as I trudged across the bridge. I’m still amazed at my 10-year-old cousin, who ran across the bridge and back. Despite my ridiculous fear of heights, I loved the view from the top of the bridge. The Blue Ridge Mountains sprawled = in every direction. It was probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

My favorite part of the trip, however, wasn’t the wildlife, the museum or even the view. While I was taking in the wondrous scenery, I saw Indians, Irish visitors, Middle-Easterners, Hispanics, British tourists, and other Americans all doing the same thing. This collection of completely different people, all enjoying something from nature, had me even more awed than the mountain itself.

Today, it no longer seems common for kids to go outdoors and experience wildlife. Now more than ever it’s important to take advantage of what little natural areas we have left. It’s an experience that will last a lifetime.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is an eighth grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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Lowry Celebrates 100 Days and Counting

The students, teachers, administrators, staff and parents have been so busy learning and having fun that we couldn’t believe we’d already reached our 100th day of school!

Many classes celebrated by counting, sorting, singing and adding their way up to 100. We didn’t, however, stop there. Lowry had their Jump Rope for Heart drive the week of Feb. 11. It was a fun experience for the students, who rallied to help raise money for the Heart Association. It was also a great way to end Valentine's week. In February the fifth graders also enjoyed a trip to JA Biztown, where they experienced a workday like a grown up!

March sure will blow in like a lion! Our Conference Night runs from 2:30-8:30 p.m. on  Thursday, March 7. This will give families an opportunity to touch base with their children’s teachers and receive feedback on how they are performing. During this night our Used Book Sale will be under way in the multipurpose room. This is a wonderful way to build your child’s library at home for a very low cost; all proceeds benefit the school’s media center. Come check it out! While you are there, join us in a game of bingo!

Later this month on March 21, we will have fun with math at our Publix Math Night. A great way to learn, practice and challenge your math skills, it will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Publix in Oldsmar.

Last, we would like to thank everyone who volunteered and donated to our Walk-a-Thon! The children were energized and excited to walk as many laps as they could in the hour time frame. Many students collected a donation per lap and flat donations were also given. This money will be used for school beautification projects and enhancements. 

Keep up all the good work, Lowry Leopards!

You can keep up with all Lowry events at


By Angela Getty


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Trends come and go and some are more ridiculous than others.

But the real question is: how did they even become popular?

The life cycle of a trend is always the same. First, one or two of the more influential people at your school start obsessing over a new style or band. After that, the fad spreads like wildfire.

Everywhere you look and listen, girls are wearing a certain kind of shoe or belting out a specific song. Around every corner, guys have their hair styled in the same outrageous fashion and they’re saying that one word over and over again. It lasts for about two weeks then the trend slowly dies out. The same influential people who began the trend start mocking it. Soon, the exact thing that was considered “cool” is now “lame.”

Are you keeping up?

Don’t believe me? Remember Silly Bandz? Converse Sneakers? The Jonas Brothers? A few years ago, people couldn’t get enough of those things. And now? Never to be spoken of again. I would bet anything that a couple months from now, using hashtags conversationally will brand you “socially unacceptable.” 

What really puzzles me, though, is how something goes from being popular with a few people to hundreds. Virginia Howell, a Davidsen Middle School eighth grader, says that when a girl sees another girl wearing the latest clothes, she wants to look that way too, spreading the trend. A Williams eighth grader said that “seeing other people participating, especially people you like or respect,” makes a trend popular. Jonni Shell agreed. Morgan Felt added that when people who “are cool or even famous” like a product, it helps make it trendy. Lauren Green suggested that a product’s uniqueness and marketing can also help produce a trend.

I think trends are caused a combination of many things. When someone you look up to approves of a product or style – like in celebrity endorsements – it affects how much you want it. A product’s usefulness also has an effect. Yet I also think it’s true that children, especially teens, find comfort in doing what everybody else is doing − simply because everybody else is doing it.

So I challenge you. Next time, before you jump on the bandwagon of the hottest trend, consider the real reason you’re doing it.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is an eighth grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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The Weight of Exams

So many things change when you reach middle school.

There’s more homework, more teachers and more responsibility. The biggest difference I found between middle school and elementary school, however, was the sheer amount of testing. Three years later I still can’t believe how many exams and standardized tests we have to take every year. Further, all of our semester exams are cumulative and worth a quarter of a semester grade. This adds stress and pressure to the lives of students. I can see the looks of anxiety on the faces of my classmates, but I wanted to know for certain how they felt about the subject.

Eighth grader Shreya Patel doesn’t believe that the practice of giving exams should be ended but she does believe it should be modified. “I think that we should still have exams because if you don’t, you can’t prove that you’ve learned anything. But exams should be given quarterly, because by January I’ve completely forgotten what I learned in September.”

Angela Salas had quite the opposite opinion. The aspect of exams she wanted to change was their frequency. She suggested, “We should only have a final so everything we learned can be summarized on one test.”

A student at Williams IB, where I attend, agreed with the way exams are given now “because it is a way to see what we’ve done.” However, she says that the tests definitely added extra pressure to students.

My opinion is similar to Shreya’s. I think that by having a semester exam, there is so much material to cover that immense pressure is put on the students. On top of that, kids often get questions wrong simply because they can’t remember the information. If the school board were to change semester exams so that they were given quarterly, pressure would lessen and students may even perform better.

Of course, that is the main goal: for students to do their best.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is an eighth grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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Should the Media Define Beauty?

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder.

Beauty, of course, is perceived differently by each person. It seems, however, that the concept of beauty is increasingly being determined by today’s media. Everywhere you look, life-sized posters of “beautiful” women are put on display. The downside is they create unattainable expectations for teenage girls. As one online student newspaper stated, “It makes them (teenagers) feel highly insecure about their own bodies and gives them a false image of the ‘best’ body type. It makes teenagers believe they must achieve this shape in order to be accepted by society.”

I asked a few teenage girls how they felt about the issue.

An eighth grader at Williams IB agreed that popular ads put pressure on girls to “better” themselves. When asked how the media’s image of beauty affected a typical teenage girl, she said, “I think it makes her very insecure about what she looks like and how she should look…It also affects the way you want to be viewed. It makes you want to change your personality, anything, just to be like the one person that looks flawless and perfect.”

In order to reach the media’s impossible standards, some girls will do anything, even harm themselves. According to, in a sample of Stanford students, 68 percent felt worse about their appearance after looking through a women’s magazine.

Morgan Felt (Walker Middle) told me that she feels that the media is narrowing the definition of beauty so much that the average young woman can never achieve it. She suggested that establishing a law limiting the amount of advertisements might help reduce its damaging effects.

Body Image and Advertising says that the average woman encounters 250,000 commercial ads before she turns 17. Perhaps the real problem is the sheer amount of advertisements to which the average person is exposed. The danger in continuing this pattern is that young girls’ concepts of real beauty will become altered too much. It has gotten to the point where it is a rarity to be considered beautiful – at least compared to the standards magazines present us.

It is up to all of us to stay true to the old saying: Beauty should in the eye of the beholder – not the media’s distorted lens.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is an eighth grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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Remembering The Year’s Big Events

As we approach the end of 2012, I can’t help but think back to all of the momentous events of the year.

I realized that different events may have stood out to different kids. So I asked a few people what events this year were important to them.

Eighth grader Andrea Herrada started off by saying that the Summer Olympics were significant to her because in these times of conflict, it was nice to see global cooperation. Considering that the Summer Olympics are only held every four years, I completely agree that it made this year stand out.

A student at Williams IB told me that to him, the human population reaching 7 billion was important because in today’s world “overpopulation is a looming threat.”

An eighth grader at Walker Middle told me that Hurricane Sandy was an influential event because of all of the lives that were lost and how it affected many people’s voting abilities. Lidya Vincent from Robinson High School also mentioned the election, stating that it was very momentous since it decided who the head of our nation would be.

Jonni Shell told me that the discovery of the Higgs Boson was a notable advancement in the world of science. Both Faith Colagouri and Samantha Niedzwiecki said that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was a significant event because, as one said, it shows that “we need to protect our embassies around our world.”

In my opinion, the reelection of President Hugo Chavez was definitely important because it so greatly affected the citizens of Venezuela, and therefore the majority of my family.

It seems apparent that this year has been a fairly significant one. From science to environment and from politics to international relations, 2012 has been a landmark year. It’s important to reflect on these events as we enter a new year.

In order to insure a bright and prosperous 2013, we have to learn from our mistakes and build on our progress. Although 2012 is now in our past, it still holds keys to our future.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is an eighth grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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How Well Do Teens Know Current Events?

Every day, all over the world, momentous events take place.

With such easy access to the media, kids in our community should be familiar with current events. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

At times kids seem unaware of what’s happening around them. Of course, that is a generalization. There are kids who realize how important it is to be up to date on what’s happening in the world. As the result, I’ve always wondered if kids are just stereotyped as being unaware of current events or if it’s actually true. I thought I’d find out.

I asked kids two questions concerning one of the most talked about topics in the country right now, the 2012 presidential election. I surveyed people at my school, Williams IB; to get a wider range of results, I asked Westchase resident Morgan Felt to survey kids at Walker Middle School.

My first question was: who are the presidential candidates? Twelve percent could name only Barack Obama, four percent answered only Mitt Romney, 81 percent knew both candidates and 16 percent didn’t know either. I then asked: who are the vice-presidential candidates? Twelve percent named Paul Ryan, 17 percent could name only Joe Biden, 21 percent knew both and a whopping 63 percent couldn’t name either.

It seems that most kids know the most popular news but don’t know the real details of current events. When Morgan and I asked kids about big headline news like the presidential candidates, almost everyone knew the answer. Yet when we asked about something less well known, in this case the vice presidential candidates, the amount of kids who didn’t know the information was three times the number of those kids who knew both names.

It’s incredibly important that we stay up to date on what is happening around us, especially with something as significant as the United States presidential election. Kids, who always want to be treated like adults, need to be aware of things like that. We are the future after all.

Think about that the next time you think something on the news is too boring for your attention. It might turn out to shape your life while you’re looking the other way.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is an eighth grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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The Real Importance of the Olympics

Every four years, athletes from all over the world gather to showcase their abilities at the Olympic games.

People from 204 different countries all join for the purpose of exhibiting their skills to the world. For two weeks last month, people around the globe watched players perform amazing feats in the sports that they love. And everyone adored it. But I don’t think that the sole purpose of the Olympics is to simply watch athletics. The intentions of the games are much deeper than that.Currently, there is much violence and tension in the world. Sports are a way to create international unity amid strife. The United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace states, “Sport has historically played an important role in all societies, be it in the form of competitive sport, physical activity or play.”

They continue, “Sport has been increasingly recognized and used as a low-cost and high-impact tool in humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts.”

So, why not view the biggest sporting event in the world as a chance to bridge the social and political divides among nations? In 1972, one Soviet gymnast took a step in shortening the colossal distance between the Soviets and the Americans – Olga Korbut.

At the time, the Soviet gymnastics team was known for its flawless technique and execution. All of the girls were tall, strong and serious, but then came Olga. She was a head shorter then her teammates and had a cheerful, childish attitude. Her specialty was the uneven bars, where she showed her energetic routine. The most important thing about Olga was how human she was. Everyone thought of the Soviets as robotic. Olga was someone that everyone could relate to: fun, vulnerable, and most of all, honest. She helped create familiarity between two very different nations.

There are so many ways that the Olympics influence people. They enhance feelings of patriotism but also create badly needed international ties. Sure, the Olympics are full of amazing events and outstanding athletes. But when I watch, I see people of completely different cultural, social, and economic backgrounds coming together as one.

Simply because, they all love the games.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is a eighth grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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This Summer’s Movie Hits

One of the best ways to escape the scorching heat of a Florida summer is by going to the movies.

Lucky for us, there have been plenty of great releases over the past few months. From action-packed superhero movies to hilarious animated films, the theaters have filled to the brim with hits. The movie critics have been raving about these flicks but I wanted to know what kids thought about them.

First, I asked an upcoming eighth grader what he thought of The Amazing Spiderman. He said that it was funny and had a good plot. Also, it had a lot of action with romance intertwined. I asked him to compare it to The Avengers, the other very popular super hero movie that came out this summer. He said that The Avengers was funnier than The Amazing Spiderman and that the fight scenes were more impressive. However, he did say that the fighting in Spiderman was more unpredictable.

A seventh grade Bridges resident said that she thought Madagascar 3 was an enjoyable, funny movie, but “is the kind of movie that you wouldn’t see twice.”

I thought that Men in Black 3 was full of comedy and had a good amount of action. The best part was the ending’s unexpected twist. Of course, Will Smith was pretty awesome too.

Most would say that The Avengers has been the best movie of the season. However, The Dark Knight Rises may rival it as the best film of the summer. I’m writing this on the verge of its premiere so I don’t know how the movie will turn out. But the release has been highly anticipated. Anthony Suarez, a Batman fanatic, says that it’s going to be a fantastic and captivating movie. He said that it has an amazing plot that will keep you intrigued until the very end.  It’s definitely a movie to keep an eye out for.

By far, my favorite movie of the summer has been The Amazing Spiderman. I thought it was the perfect mix of action, humor and romance. I would absolutely recommend it.

But you might want to find out for yourself how good they really are. You’re the best critic. So this summer, when you’re trying to find something to do or if you’re trying to beat the heat, head to the movies to catch this summer’s hits.

Giovannetti is an eighth grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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The Importance of Family

Blood is thicker than water.

It’s a saying that’s thrown around all the time. But what does it really mean?

I interpret it as signifying that family bonds will always prove stronger, or thicker, than the bonds made with others. I think it means that you can count on your family no matter what, whereas other people may prove unreliable.

This summer it’s important to keep that in mind. What is usually the first thing people tell you when you ask them what they’re planning on doing for vacation? Usually, they’ll say that they are going to visit family. Out of those kids who say it, at least half of them will do so with a pain-in-the-neck attitude.

And why is that?

If your relatives are the most trustworthy people in your life, why wouldn’t you want to spend time with them?

A number of kids recently told me about times when their families have proven loyal.

Morgan Felt said when she was younger, she really wanted a bike. To teach her responsibility, however, her parents told her to save the money for it. Once she had done so and learned a valuable lesson about saving, her parents let her keep the money and bought her a bike.

A student at Williams Middle School said that when she was little, kids who she thought were her friends picked on her for the clothes she wore. So her mom went out and got her all new clothes just to make her feel better.

A time when my family came through for me was when I had a big math exam to study for and none of my friends had time to help me. I was feeling really overwhelmed. I got through it, however, with help from my parents and my brother. They even stayed up late just to help me.

It really is important to stay close with your relatives. In the end, they’re all you’ve got. It might seem like you have better things to do this summer than go visit your cousins in Ohio, but keep in mind: in times of trouble, blood proves to be thicker than water.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is a eighth grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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Face Your Fears

As Ambrose Redmoon once said, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."

All the time people are held back by their fears. They are capable of doing amazing things, but they never achieve their goals because they’re too scared. The only way to get over your fears, however, is by facing them. To prove it works, I asked some kids about times when they had to overcome their fears.
Morgan Felt said that she was scared of roller coasters. But she faced her fear straight on and now she can go on any ride. Emma Duffey said that when she played sports, she was afraid of making mistakes. She was scared that she would always miss her serve when she played volleyball. She wanted to keep her beginner serve but instead she faced her fear. She decided to serve overhand consistently (a more complicated serve) and learned from her mistakes. It really paid off. She plays for a club volleyball team now and has played for her school team two years in a row.

There have been many times in my life when I have had to face my fears. I, like Morgan, am incredibly scared of roller coasters. But I’ve faced that fear several times before. In the past performing in front of an audience also frightened me. After having so many orchestra concerts at my school, however, that fear has faded away.

Overcoming a fear is fairly simple. All you have to do is think this: I will beat this fear. Keep a positive attitude at all times. Don’t let negative thoughts cloud your mind. If you try these things, you will conquer your fear and become a stronger person because of it.

Though the thought of facing your fears may seem intimidating, it’s definitely worth it. You will no longer have that giant obstacle in the way of reaching your goal. If you remember that there is always something more important than your fear, then you will always have the courage to make your dreams come true.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is a seventh grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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Model UN Experience Thrills

From the first bang of the gavel to the final award, my Model United Nations trip to New York was full of excitement.

Last month, 20 kids from my school, Williams Middle IB Magnet, went to New York City for a Model United Nations (MUN) conference. Schools from all over the country and the globe attended the conference. There were schools from Italy, Hungary, West Virginia and New York. It was my first time ever going to an MUN conference. Needless to say, I was a little intimidated.

The trip started with opening ceremonies, held at the UN building in the General Assembly Hall. The place was milling with kids and adults alike. The buzz of many different languages hovered in the air. My partner, Lauren Green, and I immediately began mingling with the delegates from the other schools. We met people from Ghana and Mexico. I found that even though those kids lived thousands of miles away from me, we’re really not that different. After meeting a few more people, we took our seats and heard a speech from an ambassador from the United States. The real excitement, however, started the following day during committee.

Committee is the actual debating part of the conference. I was part of the delegation from Pakistan and was discussing human rights for refugees. For two days straight I debated with other kids and wrote resolutions with them. By the end of the conference I had written a resolution and met over a 100 new people. The best part of the whole trip was just that – meeting new people. I had to work with people I was very different from and people who were a lot like me. I had to work with people I liked and people I didn’t.

In the spirit of the UN, I had to be diplomatic towards everyone around me. I’ll have to do that countless times again. To have that kind of experience on such a large scale was a wonderful opportunity for which I am very thankful. Maya Barrett, Lauren Green, and Kyle Johnson are also Westchase residents and went on this trip. We all enjoyed the experience and are ready to represent our school again next year!

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is a seventh grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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April Fooled?

Once a year, we get the chance to joke around all day. On April Fool’s Day we can get away with pranks and tricks for a whole 24 hours.

The whole country and even some places around the world celebrate this day full of laughter and fun. Everyone walks away with some hilarious stories to tell. Having had some crazy experiences myself, I was curious to find out about the best April Fool’s day pranks other kids had seen.

The first person I talked to was Lauren Green, a student at Williams IB Middle School. She said that one year her parents made cupcakes out of meatloaf with mashed potato frosting. She can’t stand potatoes so you can imagine her reaction when she took a bite. Jonni Shell said that last year her dad told her that there was a tornado and that school was cancelled. A seventh grader at Davidsen Middle School said that the best April Fool’s prank she’s ever done was put a cup of water at the top of a door so when her sister opened it, she got soaked with water.

The best April Fool’s joke that anyone has ever pulled on me was in fourth grade. My teacher told us that the school was going to cancel all fourth grade math and science classes because we were not being well behaved. She said that if we wanted to go to fifth grade the next year, we had to instead stay after school for math and science or come to school an hour early. Everyone believed her. Then she told us the principal had something special to say to us. She took a long pause and said, “April Fool’s!”

I couldn’t believe it. I’ll never forget how relieved and angry I felt.

Although April Fool’s Day is meant to be fun, it’s really important not to get carried away and hurt someone or their feelings. But if you get fooled, don’t take it personally. Enjoy the joke. Don’t take it the wrong way.

In closing, I’d also like to say that I have written in the WOW for two years now and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. But I have decided to no longer write for the World of Westchase.

April Fool’s!

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is a seventh grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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Music: Is It Better or Worse Today?

Music has been around for centuries and has been a great part of many cultures.

From the Greeks and Romans to kids living in the United States today, music has shaped our cultures. As I was listening to the radio, my friend, Morgan Felt, pointed out how much music has changed.  She said, “How did we go from listening Mozart to listening to Nicki Minaj?”

I realized that she had a really good point.

What made popular music change so much? Has this been a good or bad change? I asked a few kids what they thought about how music has evolved and how it influences us. Kyle Johnson, a seventh grader at Williams Middle School, told me that through the orchestra program at his school, he’s been given “many new opportunities that never would have been available” to him otherwise. He said “Overall, music has greatly influenced my life.”

The music we play in orchestra class, however, isn’t the same music that is on the radio. Kyle says that he prefers the classical music played in orchestra because it’s real and authentic.  He says that popular music nowadays is more computerized and fake.

Morgan had a similar opinion. She said music had gotten worse and that now, it’s less meaningful. Lauren Green, on the other hand, thinks that music has definitely gotten better. She says that it’s changed the same way that people have.

In a way, I agree with all of them. In the past, music was more meaningful and real but people have changed.  Since music is such a big part of our lives, it has changed with us. People may disagree on whether that’s good or bad, but we can all agree that music influences us every day. That will always be true.


Last month I wrote about the world’s different cultures. Addressing Hinduism, I wrote that the people who practiced that faith aren’t allowed to eat meat, which isn’t completely accurate. People who practice Hinduism aren’t allowed to eat beef, since cows are sacred. The person I interviewed, Niti Rajani, is Hindu but her family prefers not to eat any meat. I’d like to thank Mr. Vaidy Subbaraman of The Bridges for bringing this to my attention. Comments and suggestions from readers are welcomed. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is a seventh grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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Just a Drop

There are now 7 billion people in the world. Looking at that number can make you feel like a drop of water in all the world’s oceans. 

Mother Teresa once said of helping others, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean will be less because of that missing drop.”

Even though you are one person out of billions, the role you play is significant. Sometimes, as kids, we think that we can’t make a change. That is not true. Kids have the opportunity to make even more of a difference than adults. We are the future after all.  If we start doing great things for our community now, imagine what an impact we can have once we’re adults.

Even the smallest efforts will make a difference. It’s important to remember that, especially now, during the holidays. There are families everywhere who don’t have what we enjoy and can’t have a nice holiday. You may think, “I can’t do something big enough to help those people.”

But that’s the kind of thinking that Mother Teresa wanted to change. It doesn’t take something huge to make a difference. The smallest effort, or drop of water, can make someone’s holiday better.
So, I challenge you to think of this quote every time you think that what you do doesn’t matter. I want you to remember that even if all that you add is one drop, you still make a difference. All it takes is for you to add a drop. Just a drop.

From Dec. 1-31, I will run a children’s clothing drive for the kids of migrant families that live in Wimauma, just one hour from Westchase. If you would like to add a drop and be part of this ocean, you can ask your parents to help you bring your used clothing to me. Simply e-mail for a drop location. Items need to be in good and clean condition.

I would love to hear from you. You can post your comments or ideas below my column here.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is a seventh grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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Honoring Veterans Day

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…”

We say those words every morning but do we really know how much sacrifice it takes to make them true? This Nov. 11 is Veterans Day, a day to commemorate and honor all of the men and women who have fought for this country.

To protect us and keep us safe, the brave men and women of our military have sacrificed so much. But they are not the only ones.  The families of these courageous people have been through a lot and are proud of their families in the service. I spoke with Radcliffe’s Megan Gullekson, whose father is a veteran. She said that while her father was serving in the military, she would get scared when he would go overseas, months at a time. She’s glad, however, that all that her dad did was for the good of our country.

I also asked a few kids what Veterans Day means to them.  A seventh grader at Walker Middle School said that veterans are important because they have fought for us and our freedom. Another seventh grader said that veterans are important because for every life that was lost, veterans made sure that more lives were saved.

I believe that we should honor our veterans every day.  Throughout the year, you can show our veterans that you care and that you honor them for all that they have done. You can send holiday cards to veterans, or you can visit any veterans in your family to show that you are thinking about them. You can also send care packages to our troops, who still need our support. Simply thanking them for their service will brighten their day.

Right now, there are men and women fighting for their lives, and ours, overseas. When they come home, they deserve to be treated like heroes. They deserve to be honored for all of their sacrifice and courage. That’s what Veterans Day is for – to make sure that their amazing sacrifices will never be forgotten.

So, the next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the national anthem, what will you think about?

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is a seventh grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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What Can You Change?

If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? For over a month now Westchase students have had time to get used to our schools. We’ve seen the great things about our schools and the not so great things. What are the pros and cons at your school and, more importantly, what can you, a student, do about them?

I first spoke with Emma Duffey, a seventh grader at Walker Middle School. She said that she likes the way that education is a top priority at her school. She says that the teachers “teach you well but in a really fun way.”

What doesn’t Emma like about her school?

It’s having to wear khakis as part of her uniform. 

The next person I asked had a similar opinion. Seventh grader Lauren Green, who attends Williams IB Middle Magnet, said that she doesn’t like having uniforms at her school either. Lauren does, however,  like having so many different classes with many different people. 

Another Westchase student, who attends Davidsen Middle School, says that he likes almost everything about his school. He said that if he could change one thing about Davidsen, it would be the amount of time between classes.

If you’ve been complaining about something you don’t like about your school, it’s a good idea to do something to fix it. As Denis Waitley has said, “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”

I’m not saying that you should cause a riot at your school in protest, but you could try writing a letter to your principal. Perhaps you might also try running for student government to make a difference.

It’s just important that you don’t sit around when you think that something in your life can be improved. Instead it’s important to take responsibility for improving it.

After all, it is your school and you will be there for a couple of years.

Do your part and make your school the best that it can be.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is a seventh grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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What Do Kids Think About Writing?

Every time a teacher tells his or her class to pick up a pencil and write, the same thing happens.

Half of the class gets bored, worried or annoyed expressions on their faces. The other half of the class just groans.

I love to write, but over the years I’ve learned what happens next in the classroom. Knowing what will happen, I’ve often joined my class and offered a bored look of my own.  For the next 45 minutes I’m going to have to write an essay about my favorite day of the week or my favorite subject in school. This is not exactly my – or any other kid’s – idea of fun.

Unfortunately, this is sometimes the only form of writing to which kids in elementary and middle schools are exposed.  It perhaps isn’t surprising how many kids don’t like to write. I can’t help but wonder if the way that schools teach the subject has something to do with it. 

I spoke with a few kids about their feelings about writing. When I asked Jonni Shell, a seventh grader at Walker Middle School, what she thought about writing, she said that writing wouldn’t be her first choice of something to do. Jonni added, however, that if she got a good topic to write about, then she would enjoy writing more. She agreed that kids would probably like writing more if they got to choose their topics.

Another seventh grader at Davidsen Middle School says that he doesn’t like writing because it’s boring.
When I asked an Alonso High School student what she thought, she said she liked writing because it can be fun. What makes the difference between it being a fun or boring assignment, she says, is the prompt or topic about which she has to write. Another high school student said that he didn’t like writing because it was too tedious.

After speaking to students, I came up with two reasons why writing isn’t enjoyed by most students: It’s too dull or boring.

Well, writing isn’t for everyone. Regardless of topic, some kids would rather be outside than inside writing a story. I also found that some kids don’t like writing because they aren’t given enough freedom to choose the topic they prefer. At school we are often given dull topics that realistically can’t be used to write an interesting two-page essay. This causes kids to groan at the thought of having to write.

The truth is that you can’t avoid writing. Writing is still a main form of communication.  In the future, you’ll need to write important essays for school and, let’s not forget, college applications. Avoiding writing won’t do you any good. Like with any sport or hobby, to get better at writing, you need to practice it. If you don’t like writing at school, try doing other things to improve your writing skills. This can include writing letters to friends or family that live far away, keeping a journal, or maybe even writing short stories.

Believe it or not, just by reading a well-written book, you can improve your writing skills. The more you read, the better you write. 

Writing is an essential skill to have. Though you may not see it now, writing is also a great way to be creative and use your imagination. Hopefully, in the future schools will lighten up a bit on their standard, dull prompts, and let kids enjoy the creative side of writing.

When they do, there won’t quite so many groans or annoyed looks when the teacher announces that it’s time to write.

By Isabel Giovannetti

Giovannetti is a seventh grader at Williams I.B. Middle School.


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