Tags Articles tagged with "youth"


Murray Siegel

By Murray Siegel

The school year has started, and many 12th-grade students and their families are experiencing the college admission application process.

If a student waits until the senior year of high school, he or she has waited too long. The process should begin in elementary school where the student can develop a productive work ethic. Completing all homework assignments, studying for tests and starting early on assigned projects and reports will develop behaviors that will maximize grades in high school.

Once the student arrives in ninth grade, a folder should be maintained listing all activities (both in-school and off-campus – athletics, music, academic competitions and student government are prime examples), including a description of the efforts made by the student. A similar folder should be created for each grade level in high school. Colleges are very interested in activities as well as grades. A student who has participated in time-consuming activities and who has good grades has learned to budget time and will most likely be successful in college.

Starting in 11th grade, the student should start examining possible colleges. Some questions that should be asked about each school are:

  1. Is the school’s location what I want? Some students may wish to be close to home while others may want to be far away.
  2. What size student population is desired? Will a student be happy with a campus of 1,000 students? How about 30,000 or 50,000?
  3. Is there an academic program that covers the student’s career interests?
  4. If the student should change his or her mind about the major, are there diverse majors available?
  5. How likely is the student to receive sufficient financial aid?

There is help available, starting with the high school counselor’s office. Ultimately, the student should visit the campus of each school that appears to be a good choice. Ideally, visit the campus on Friday and attend classes. Stay over to Saturday to see what type of activities exist for those residing on campus.

It is wise to invest time in seeking financial aid. There are all types of scholarships. Students who have a parent who served on a U.S. Navy submarine are eligible for a special scholarship, as are those whose parents or grandparents worked in the shoe industry. Many church-based colleges offer financial aid to students who are active members. An excellent scholarship program is the ROTC Scholarship, which pays academic costs and provides a monthly stipend to help with room and board.

Financial-aid research is an important part of early preparations for college.

Murray Siegel has a PhD in MathEd and 42 years of teaching experience. He lives in Maricopa.

This column appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

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By Chris Cahall

Chris Cahall

HBO’s hit show “Game of Thrones” generates its network a billion dollars annually. One of the better scenes is in season two when Petyr Baelish faces off with Cerci Lannister. He hints at knowing a secret she didn’t want divulged and proclaims, “knowledge is power.” She bests him with her soldiers and shows him she can bring about his demise and tells him “power is power.”

SPOLIER ALERT: Baelish was right. We find out later that the whole war was orchestrated by him, he has been manipulating events to produce kingdom chaos with one goal: to take over. He only loses when another player gains knowledge of his scheme, defeating him and claiming his bannerman as her own because, knowledge is power.

Which brings me to my point. This subtle (yet game-changing) plot point is a universal truth that has taken a niche genre and developed it into a multi-billion-dollar franchise. And it isn’t lost on the players at the Be Awesome Youth Coalition. They have adopted this philosophy and will be focusing on it this fall by educating parents and community members on topics relevant to our youth. Kids and teens are facing a slew of issues, and if we don’t make it a priority to educate ourselves on the realities facing them, then we run the risk of falling into the trap of false security. Here are three ways in the month of September you can get involved with Be Awesome and increase the knowledge (aka power).

1). Swag Bags. Be Awesome is currently using fun swag for decorative bags to share with community members that also provide valuable information for parents and community members about adults. We could use help with collecting items, putting them together, and passing them out at events. Or grab one for your-self.

2). Social Media. Like and share the Facebook Page. Be Awesome will be publishing valuable information on their page alongside of other fun and motivating posts. Take the time to like the page, read the posts, and share them.

3). Talk-O Tuesdays. Be Awesome will be providing speakers and information on tough topics relevant to the health and wellness of kids and teens over a taco dinner with the partnership of Ultra Star. After a long drive home on the 347 you don’t have to decide between making dinner and participating in a workshop with valuable information. Your community has you covered.


This column appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Turner Stanek, 15, went after his own state records. Submitted photo

A Maricopa teenager raised the bar during his first power lifting competition last year and is building on his reputation this year.

Turner Stanek, 15, broke state records in the back squat (352 pounds), deadlift (435 pounds) and bench press (198 pounds) at the USA Powerlifting Apeman Strong Fest in Phoenix Sept. 23.

“This is all new to him and it’s pretty awesome,” said Stanek’s mother, Danica.

Last Sunday at the USA Powerlifting Arizona 2018 State Championship, the Mountain Pointe sophomore beat his own records in back squat and deadlift and maintained his previous holding in the bench press category.

He’s now qualified to participate in the 2018 USA Powerlifting Raw Nationals this October in Spokane, Washington.

Turner’s passion for the sport began with encouragement and training from friends and staff at Maricopa CrossFit.

“It’s astonishing because two years ago today I wouldn’t have thought I would hold three records or that I could back squat 402 pounds,” Turner said.

The process produced a physical and mental metamorphosis.

Turner gained muscle and lost pounds with cross fit and powerlifting competitions.

“He has literally gone from kind of a chubby adolescent to looking like a 25-year-old man,” said Danica Stanek. “It’s crazy.”

The once introverted teen also increased his confidence and has since broadened his social horizons by joining clubs at school and encouraging others to accomplish their own fitness goals.

Work inside the gym taught Turner to deal with his emotions.

“I can put all that anger into the bar and take it out on the bar because that’s all the bar wants me to do,” Turner said.

He plans to compete in regional competitions this summer ahead of the national event in September.

Stanek said he wants to be a well-known powerlifter and help others with their fitness ambitions.

“It’s a great feeling what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it as much as you do for powerlifting,” Turner said.

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Priscilla Behnke. Photo by Mason Callejas

By Priscilla Behnke

  1. It’s the most popular drug. With all the talk about the latest epidemic, opioid abuse, it is important to remember that alcohol is still the most commonly used substance by teens. This holds true for our local youth. For the last 12 years all data points to alcohol being the default substance used by Maricopa teens.
  2. The line, “Everybody’s doing it” is a lie. It’s counter intuitive when there is an endless supply of movies ready to be streamed straight to your phone depicting teens and raging alcohol thirsty partiers, but they aren’t. In fact, while it’s the most popular drug of choice, more kids chose not to drink. According to the latest Arizona Youth Survey data, only 17.5 percent of local teens report using alcohol in the 30 days. This same survey has shown, cycle after cycle, teens who use alcohol are in the minority.
  3. Local teens are on the friends-and-family plan. The 17.5 percent of adolescent drinkers accessed their alcohol from somewhere or someone. According to local surveys conducted by the Be Awesome Youth Coalition, our teens are on the friends and family plan. The top two ways youth accessed alcohol were:
  • Party with friends (without adults present)
  • At home from parents or guardians

We need to be vigilant about where are kids are going. We shouldn’t just worry about parties; whom our children are hanging out with is also important. Get to know the parents of our children’s friends. Ensure they are not hanging out at homes where adults are sharing alcohol with minors.

  1. All brains are not equal. There are several reasons we should take underage drinking seriously. Brain development is ongoing for what experts believe to be into the early to mid-20s. In the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, a study completed in 2010 by neuroscientist Susan Tapert found that teens who abused alcohol do worse on thinking and memory tests than their non-drinking peers. I meet parents all the time who take pride in their child’s education. If their child is drinking, they are putting said education at risk.
  2. You have the greatest influence. You as a parent have a great impact over your child’s decisions. If you talk with your kids about alcohol, they will listen. Parents who do not engage in discussions about alcohol use risk leaving a vacuum on the issue open for anyone to fill. Your role as a parent is key in helping to reduce underage drinking. For more information follow us on Facebook at The Be Awesome Youth Coalition page or visit our website mcasa.org.

Priscilla Behnke is program director for Maricopa CAASA and Be Awesome Coalition.

Facebook.com/BeAwesomeYouthCoalition, PBehnke@macaasa.org 

This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.


Submitted photo

For the second year in a row, Maricopa High School junior Evan Grace has been appointed to serve on the Governor’s Youth Commission.

Fifty-one high school sophomores, juniors and seniors were appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family and will play a vital role inspiring Arizona’s youth to “take the lead” in their communities. The GYC has chosen to focus on substance abuse, bullying, teen dating violence, distracted driving, and civics education in their respective counties

Evan will serve on the Substance Abuse Committee and has been appointed the position of vice president. He is currently featured on the official GYC website for his recent honor of being the recipient of the Daily Point of Light Award from the President George H.W. Bush foundation.

“I am proud to appoint these young leaders and to give them the opportunity to serve as community ambassadors,” Ducey stated. “Each year, I am impressed by the commission members’ accomplishments for Arizona and look forward to what they will achieve this school year.”

For the third year in a row, the GYC helped the state of Arizona achieve its No. 1 ranking in the world in youth-led service projects. Last year the youth in Arizona logged over 70,234 service hours on the BeSeenBeHeard.az.gov website, and hosted 1,200 Arizona youth at Youth Leadership Day.

The GYC was established in 1989.