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Back to School from A to Z
Who says learning the alphabet is just for kids?

After-school activities
Extra-curricular activities are great places to meet new people who share your interests-especially if you're the only one in your barkada who likes to cook, plays an instrument, or actually enjoys science. Can't find a club that's perfect for you? Start your own, or look for clubs outside school: in your community, at church, or online. You'll be surprised at how many people care about the things you do. Besides, what starts as something you do after school could turn into something you love enough to do for life!

Brown bagging in style
With the many classy (grown-up!) lunchboxes available, you won't have to tote around a beat-up brown paper bag or suffer endless torment for bringing a pink plastic Barbie baonan to school. Another reason to brownbag it? Bringing your own baon means you control what you eat so you can be as health-conscious or gourmet as you want, and you won't be tempted by that last-minute-lunch-line impulse to get the choco fudge cake that's sitting enticingly by the cash register. You can bring your baon anywhere, too, so stash a blanket in your school locker, and enjoy lunch-hour picnics in the field and fresh air.

Cliques blame it on bad press
If you're in a clique, you're seen as the mean girls, the snooty girls, the popular but brainless girls. But you don't have to be. We all need a steady group of "for better or for worse" friends to survive the sometimes soap-operatic stages of high school. It's not belonging to a clique that's wrong but being too exclusive-alienating others just because they're not "one of you." Do you tease a classmate just 'cause her opinion, style, or lifestyle is not the "group-approved" choice? Do you call clique council meetings to make every decision? Can you have fun on your own, your way? Remember, friendship doesn't have membership requirements. If yours does, think twice about how much you're willing to pay to get in, and stay in.

Dividing the work
Group projects are great for bonding-planning projects late at night over ice cream, discovering each other's useful (and sometimes unusual) talents, organizing a "We rocked it!" after-party. But they're no fun when they become one person's burden. To avoid this, define each person's role in the group, and write down their duties in a group-project log so there's no question of who should do what (it shouldn't all be you!). Take down contact numbers, and don't be afraid to bug members who are slacking off. Don't play martyr if your group isn't cooperating; you'll only feel resentful later on. Communicate-they may have a good reason for being unable to do their part; and if they don't, at least you'll be able to let them know frankly-to their face (no backstabbing!)-that you don't appreciate their behavior and that you won't be a slave to their slacking.

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Electing officials
Maybe school elections become popularity contests because it seems like class officials don't make a difference-so you might as well vote for someone you won't mind hearing speeches from (and looking at) during school assemblies. But think of all the great things a good student body president could do: petition for a revamped gym or cleaner bathrooms, organize a fun fund-raising event (no more newspaper drives, please!), challenge teachers with unfair grading procedures, or be your voice in the administration and actually make change possible. Make your vote count, or maybe even run for office yourself!

Read more on the next page.

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Shiloah Matic
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