Category Archives: INSIGHT

Success without that ‘small loan’



Success in high school seems almost impossible to many people because we’re taught that we need a high school education, college, job experience, etc. before we can ever reach a career that will make us a living wage. Through determination and motivation, one may be able to start their journey to success early. I proved it could be done with my company, Cotton Skate Company.

Initially, we had no idea that our love for skateboarding would become a business that was actually viable. On June 16th 2015, we created and posted our first video on YouTube. To begin our journey to success we started posting videos weekly just as a way of introducing ourselves to a wider audience than just locals. Initially, we weren’t reaching our goals with views, but as we began to follow our schedule, we started getting recognized.

Tony and I posted the hyperlinks on Instagram, Facebook, and just about anywhere else we could. In a spur of the moment decision, I created a Facebook page for the company to try to reach out to more than just my friends on my personal account. To almost everyone’s surprise, it actually worked. Within the first night, we were able to reach over 100 likes from friends, family, and random people who had seen our videos on YouTube. The influx in viewers was amazing.

After watching Tai Lopez videos on YouTube for hours on end, I decided that opening a shop may be a good direction to go for my future. As a result of this I put pencil to paper and drew up some designs to put on the shirts. Within four hours I had an online shop and started to build our credibility.

For a short time, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I thought I was just building a website and starting something that’d be fun to get into. I soon realized that I had began something that I would grow to love more than anything else. Money wasn’t the driving force, but the income was substantially appreciated. Of course it wasn’t enough to get my own Lamborghini and drive it around in the Hollywood Hills, but it was a decent amount for a 15-year-old to have.

After about ten months of working every single day to stay relevant and getting in contact with hundreds of people, we finally struck oil with a small local business in Colorado called All Day Denver Decks. They agreed to partner together and start working side by side with us. We made a joint design within the first week and we began putting it on our product, which in turn caused All Day Denver Decks to put our product on their shelves.

Now, am I saying that you are guaranteed the same success? Yes and no. People who are willing to dedicate hours on end to one purpose are the kind of people who are guaranteed success. But those who pick something up, try it out and put it down two minutes later will be wasting their time.

Let me make this clear though: Do not commit to anything in a hope to just make money. You must find something that you love and that you will be willing to put hundreds of hours into. The reason being, if you don’t make money, at least you spent that time doing something you love rather than wasting your time doing something you don’t enjoy.

Running a company effectively takes a lot of time to learn. I would recommend you learn how to do so before jumping in with both feet, but you can get your feet wet through simply starting local.

This is not limited to skating or clothes, but can actually be applied to just about anything if you can successfully market yourself. Marketing is something I taught myself, but there are many opportunities available if we know where to look. At Papio South, there are multiple marketing classes that you can sign up for and learn everything you need to know. For those seniors graduating, you have an even broader spectrum of options to choose from.

What am I getting at? I’m telling you that there is never a time too early to start! With the tools we have access to, anybody can start to make some money without a small loan of a million dollars.

Does America do student life better?


School spirit here is uniquely American. America celebrates its teams like no other country, school districts and universities banding together to wear merchandise and compete nationwide.

School merchandise? Cringe! For the English, wearing your mandatory uniform is enough school spirit for a lifetime. No way was it cool to find, after learning that I was enrolled here, t-shirts with Titan logos on them in stores – they were laughable, until I saw that people actually wore them.

Don’t get me wrong, three years here and I’m now a proud owner of Titan merch. I’m not bashing your team spirit; it’s fascinating. Fierce student bodies are like microcosms for your competitive, highly capitalist economy.


1116155_699817106710977_192255056_oWhile the English potter around in pleated skirts and tucked in shirts, Americans rock up to school in different clothing everyday. Where Physical Education is just a lesson for games in the UK, choosing athletics and sports are viable educational pathways for the Americans. The countries handle their students very differently, and the students think differently of their schools in return. Nationalism is never wracked up in England, for a pledge to the Union Jack isn’t recited. For you lot, you rise at 11:45am to do so to the Stars and Stripes.

We, the Titans, are coming under flack for not having enough school spirit. Compared to the state of affairs of the English, though, you guys are doing fine. In fairness, Brits do have less to support – with English high school students (in my hometown) being from ages 12 to 16, we’re still at the age where it’s cool to hate everything. Sports and school orientated clubs just don’t get funded, either. For my old school, extra-curricular activities were few and far between, although they started trying to kick things off as I left. Icknield High School have a Debate team who now have won several competitions! They’re not celebrated much beyond the English department, though.

No matter what country you’re in, schoolwide celebrations are hard to enthuse. In the US, though, you really try – Pep Rallies don’t exist where I’m from. Half of our student body love getting out of class and feeling some atmosphere, making some noise. The other half (mostly the Seniors) watch with cynical disdain. Coming from the pep-less England, I say loosen up! A little spirit, however silly, ain’t bad.


* Pictured: Alexandra Haynes herself in Icknield High School’s art department, Luton, England. She came to Nebraska in 2013.

Who says a woman can’t be president?


WomanPrez.sept.30“Can a woman be president?” That question has been discussed in every single history class I have ever been in. And every class has come to the consensus that yes, a women could be president but they agree that our society ‘isn’t ready’. I’m not convinced this is the correct answer anymore.

Before applying this to mean the President of the United States, let’s take a look at the leaders that are in our community. Think of some leader you know. What gender are they? What leadership qualities do they possess? And think, do these leadership qualities stem from their gender? The answer to the last question is probably no.

Most of my experience with strong leaders has been with strong female leaders. Out of my four years of high school nearly all of the presidents of clubs I have been a part of have been female. I have had female editors of the magazine and female key club and student council presidents. At statewide student council conferences, I have noticed the presence of female leaders holding offices. There are currently female presidents of student councils at Lincoln Southwest, Millard North, Millard South, Skutt Catholic, Westside and even here at Papillion-La Vista South.

I know that being president of a high school club is nothing like being president of the United States, but  the leadership roles equate to each other on their respective levels. In the adult world of the United States, the president is top dog just like in the student council world the state president is top dog.

What does it take to be president? We all know that the President is the head of state, the head of government, has a cabinet full of secretaries and makes lots of important decisions as head of the executive branch. But a strong leader of either sex could definitely handle these responsibilities.

According to Hannah Keator, President of the Student Council at Westside High School, in order to be a strong president, one must be “personable, open-minded and have the ability to direct others.”

Some candidates in the presidential race may not possess all of these qualities. In general, I do not see a quality listed exclusive to one gender. The qualities needed to be president depend upon the individual.

So why on earth has there not been a female head of our fine country? There has to be a reason women have been excluded from the Cool Kids Club for 200 years.

“A woman has yet to become president of the United States because we haven’t completely escaped the patriarchal ideology that founded our nation,” Rachael Packard, president of National Honor Society at Papillion-La Vista South High school, said. “There are plenty of women today running other nations.”

While yes, the legislative make-up still looks a lot like the founding fathers, the founding fathers are not currently alive and perpetuating stereotypes. These issues of race and gender are only still around because there are still people who perpetuate them. 200 years ago the rich, white, educated men had the power to choose whom they wanted in their little lawmaking club. In the 21st century, we should be aware that, though we may have different bodily organs and skin colors, we all matter and are capable of representing groups of people and voting on issues in stuffy little chambers. Several other countries around the world seem to get this better than we Americans do.

Germany, Croatia and Switzerland are among the list of countries led by women today. With a strong female candidate running in each political party, the United States could soon join the list. Both Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton are big names in their respective parties.

Even though we have strong female candidates, this does not mean that our society is treating men and women equally. Donald Trump was able to make horribly sexist comments about Carly Fiorina with little repercussions. Trump actually said, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” Let me make this clear – those words really came out of his mouth. Trump got away with his comments by later claiming he was describing Fiorina’s “persona”.

Fiorina took the comments in stride and turned them into a series of power statements for her campaign. She responded with, “Ladies, look at this face, and look at all of your faces – the face of leadership.” And also with,“This is the face of a 61 year old woman, I am proud of every year and every wrinkle.”

Comments like these are proof of how it may take more work for women candidates to get the public to take them seriously. They must overcome individual prejudices and two centuries of tradition for the victory. These issues are displayed in the biased media that has had little practice reporting upon female candidates.

Some media outlets have described female candidates’ outfit choices while failing to mention the color of the male candidate’s suits. These small and seemingly insignificant differences in the way men and women are treated can impact how the United States views that candidate. Voters may have a hard time thinking seriously about candidates with fashion run-downs included in the articles about their speeches.

“In order for a woman to get voted into office, I think it starts with each and every one of us. We have to treat men and women with equality all around,” said Alexa Narke, President of Student Council at Skutt Catholic High School.

Is our society ready for a woman president? That  is up to you.

Is this REAL LIFE?


As an 18-year-old who has no clue how to use a stove, I have no idea why anyone would let me out into the world in just five short days. Yes, that’s right, it’s real life. Grab an inhaler, seniors, because you are graduating. Yep, I’m going to need to sit for a minute.

I’ve been anticipating graduation since I set foot into PL South, but now that it’s approaching, I may consider locking myself inside and building a fort in the rafters. Because, really, let’s face it, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING. This isn’t even me trying to give you a “How To” on navigating through your tortured, confusing college years that are approaching, this is me telling you that I’m pretty sure it’s OK to have no idea what life is.

Maybe I should learn how to do a load of laundry or stop eating off the kids menu at Buffalo Wild Wings. Maybe. But I am still technically not even an adult in the state of Nebraska. No, I don’t know where I’m going, but I know of some things I should probably learn. With the help of my lovely mother, Vicki, I’ve compiled a list of things you may want to know how to do within your first year as a college student.


No, I have no idea how to do laundry. Vicki is a saint. But I asked her for a quick how-to and she said, “Cassidy, I regret being so good to you.” She continued with, “Separate them into whites, colors, darks and delicates – always just bring the delicates back home or you’ll never forgive yourself,” most likely true. “Put in the right amount of detergent, it should be on the bottle, and if you can’t find where it goes just look at the other kids around you. Then, make sure to set the right temperature, darks in cold, whites in warm. Put the clothes in, start it, blah blah blah, take them out and put them in the dryer. The dryer is so self-explanatory, I won’t even respond if you ask.”


Trust me on this, you will never see me in a chef hat manning a kitchen. And if you do, I’m being held against my will. But, seriously, food is important. Not only because it can fulfill all of your dreams, but also because it just so happens to help keep you alive. Eating a well-portioned meal is essential to staying healthy. Even if that means you go to sample day at Target to get your fruit, then so be it, I know those strawberries are expensive. Do what you got to do. Hit up that stand for those tiny cups as many times as possible. Ramen noodles are great, but if that’s all you’re eating on your own, just call home and sound super miserable and you’ll get a care package in like 10 minutes.


Most people I know work at Kids Club, local restaurants or clothing stores, which will be fine as a college student. But if you’re like me, you’ll need to know how to get those jobs. First of all, you need to apply. Either go into the place you’re interested in working, or apply online. Once they’ve called you back because you have a super awesome application, you’ll need to go in for an interview. For this interview, you’ll need to dress business casual. You’re not trying to become the CEO of Microsoft here, but you’re also not having a Netflix binge day, either. A nice blouse and jeans and flats for ladies and the #frat look for the boys will be appropriate.

In an interview, they’ll try to get to know who you are and how you might fit in and contribute to the workplace. You should always let your personality shine through and talk about working at American Eagle like it’s your life’s mission. If they love you, they might hire you on the spot, and if they don’t call back within a few days, call and follow up to show your interest. If you don’t get the job, go try somewhere else.

Once you get a job, you’ll have a bank account where your paycheck will go, after taxes are taken out, of course. A portion of your paycheck each week, every two weeks, or however you’re paid, should go into savings for future need, and the rest into checking for easy access.


Unless you’re blessed with an amazing brain or athletic ability, chances are you’re going to have to pay for college. Don’t fear the seemingly bottomless pit of debt, because most of the time you can find scholarships or receive federal grants that will keep you from drowning in nonexistent money. But, really, it’s all you. The wonderful counselors here at PL South, SHOUTOUT TO YOU, YOU THA REALEST, have sent out lists and lists of scholarships you can apply for through Naviance. I thought Naviance was a mythical place in a different dimension that had a secret club of students who knew how to use it. Not the case.

FAFSA is a different story. You’ll have to sit down with your parents for what seems like 97 years and talk about weird things like taxes, but when you’re all done, you’ll get an e-mail saying how much money you get! Yay! But, wait, that’s your money now. You’re now taking out a loan. Based upon your parents’ income, you’re allowed to borrow x amount of money, while your parents may be left to pay another amount to cover the cost. If you’re eligible for grants, you don’t have to pay those back. So, when you get out of school, you’ll have your loans to pay off. Yes, I assume it really does suck. But, that’s life.


The first thing you should do is determine the type of loan you want. Let’s say it’s an auto loan. You’ll determine where you’re borrowing from, and let’s say that place is the bank where you have an account. Credit is a big factor in being given a loan, but most of us don’t have credit yet. This means you will most likely have to borrow less and pay more to build this credit. Sounds pretty jank, I know. You’ll then need to make a game plan. Figure out how much it will cost you each month to pay back this loan and the interest rates that come with it.

After you’ve gotten through that, you get to apply for the loan! Yep, you haven’t gotten it yet. This is like college applications all over again. Don’t cry, it’s fine. You go to the bank, tell the nice lady at the desk you’re interested in taking out an auto loan, and she will explain how to apply. You might be approved, you might not.


When it becomes too much, and it will, call your parents. You might think they like having you out of the nest, but your parents might actually love it if you call and ask for help. That’s what they’re there for. You don’t know everything, and that’s OK, because there are tons of people who have a better idea. So ask. Ask all the questions you can. Learn. LEARN! *High School Musical jump*

Paris terror tips the mental balance


Think about, “What is Free?”

What if I told you, you can’t say that?

What if I told you, you can’t draw that?

What if I said I’ll kill you for what you believe, take your free speech and watch you bleed?

And what if I said American doesn’t necessarily mean free?

See, we live in a democracy with the idea we can speak, draw and write what our hearts desire. And hope we are safe by what our leaders say is a constitutional wall of fire.

On Jan. 7, 12 bodies hit the floor, and a worldwide scare was out the French door.

Hundreds of shots fired, the radicals roared – ”We have avenged the prophet” – with the promise of 72 paradise virgins in store.

Was the act justified? “Hell no,” many say, they were just drawings, easily erased away.

But what would you do if it was your case and everything you believed in was being debased?

So think, “What is Free?” Americans say it’s what we are,
but to get that privilege so many troops are forever with the stars.

So, “What is Free?”

Do you have the right to speak your mind, without the fear of vengeance coming up from behind?

What would you do?

Think. Truly think.

Would you back down because of the threats terrorists proclaim?

When savagery meets the drawing board, could it be a fair game?

See, we play this game of tug-of-war against these terrorist thugs. We assume we are always right and think it is the key to be free, but just because you point out the blind does not mean you can see.

“Je suis Charlie”?

Did the French peeps die for a bigger picture, or will they just end up some type of scripture?

What is free speech? Who controls your expression?

Aggression? Oppression? Or maybe obsession?

What would happen if tomorrow we woke fearful of paying for each word we spoke?

So, think, what is free?

This is our fight, our job, our natural-born right!

What will history remember, how will we define life?

On this balance beam of freedom and fear, what will win out?

The pencil…  or the knife?

V-Day? Try “Be”(yoncé) Day


The wise philosopher Beyoncé Knowles once said, “All the single ladies, put your hands up!” That’s right, ladies, it’s OK to be single. Even though Bey went home to her husband and left us dancing in a circle to the hit “SINGLE LADIES,” it’s still fine. And for all you lonely ladies out there, you probably feel the presence of that day approaching more than the ones who are “CRAZY IN LOVE”… You guessed it, I’m talking about Valentine’s Day – DUN DUN DUUUUUN!

But wait! Don’t go! This isn’t a story about all the ways to say ILYSM or some lovey-dovey Nicholas Sparks movie review. NO WAY. No lovers allowed. Unless, that is, you are a Beyoncé lover. Yes, ladies, this year we are going to Be-yoncé. No, you don’t need to go out and find a husband and have a baby real quick, because, let’s be real, you can’t really Be-yoncé – you don’t even have a boyfriend. But we can sure try! All the single ladies, put your hands up, we’re “INDEPENDENT WOMEN,” work Valentine’s Day like she, Bey, would.

Being Beyoncé is literally only something she can do, only because of the fact that she’s from an alien goddess planet. We all know that if we are ever, in any way, compared to or associated with Beyoncé in any way shape or form, we could live our lives completely content, even if there was a fire. So what more could you want on a day filled with all of the things that you don’t have, like boyfriends, flowers, yadda yadda yadda, than to feel like a goddess? This, girlies, is your guide to make V-Day, Bey-Day.


If you know anything about Beyoncé, you know that her hair is always somehow blowing behind her like a beautiful mare running through a meadow. It’s like God created a breeze to follow her everywhere she goes. Since He spent a little extra time on her, we can just hire someone to hold a fan in front of us on V-Day. Or force a sibling, whatever you feel.


If you’re brave, you can construct a replica of Beyoncé’s Tom Ford body suit that she wore for her 20 minute Video Music Awards performance and wear it whilst out and about. I mean, why not? Beyoncé confesses herself that she has to wear four pairs of stockings in order to look that good, so just do what you have to do.

If you’re going for a more subtle look, creep on Bey’s Instagram account (@beyonce) for some of her latest fab fashion moments.


Lastly, have a concert. I don’t care if you go perform at a local venue, in your bathroom, or for your mom and dad. Just live your single life as Beyoncé would if she weren’t married to one of the biggest names in music and the mother of a beautiful daughter named Blue. It’s fine, we’re not bitter, girls. Really, single ladies, Valentine’s Day or any other day, living the single life has potential to be a Beyoncé-tastic day. As I once read on a mug I found on Pinterest, “You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé.” It is so true. Use those hours and Be Yoncé!

Understanding ISIL


I vividly remember one moment from Sept. 11, 2001. Even though I was 5 years old, I can still hear my mom and sister crying while we listened closely to President George W. Bush addressing the nation. For three days I sat on the couch with my mom before she went to work in the morning and watched the scene of the planes crashing into the towers, but I had no idea what it all meant, and, to be completely honest, I still don’t.

I watch the news every morning with my mom just like I did during the tragic days surrounding 9/11. I personally find this all completely fascinating, and at the same time incredibly terrifying, even though fear isn’t something I’m comfortable with in any way. I don’t know if there is anyone out there who is comfortable with fear; I try to find out anything and everything I can in order to overcome it, but in the case of terrorism, is there really any way to understand or overcome it as a 17-year-old girl from Nebraska?

ISIL art

I set out to write this story as an informational news piece on ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State, a terror group that currently seems to be the biggest threat to the United States, but each day I would turn on the news, more and more information comes at me. How do you write a story about something like terrorism? Something that has been going on for years and something that will continue to go on? If I were to attempt to help you readers understand ISIS and terrorism, I would need more than the 16 pages that are in this magazine.

For our generation, terrorism has been a word we’ve heard thrown around for basically our whole lives. But do any of us really know what it means? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines terrorism as “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.” With the 9/11 attacks, the terrorist group al-Qaeda did just that. For Al-Qaeda, they are “avenging wrongs committed by Christians and Jews against Muslims over the ages,” according to the BBC al-Qaeda Quick Guide. This group puts their beliefs in action by attempting to have one Islamic way of political leadership for the Muslim world. al-Qaeda sees all non-Muslims and Americans as intruders and wants to drive them out of their holy Islamic lands, which means that the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is a threat to them. They see our presence as some sort of declaration of war on Islam. But in reality, the political situation in the Middle East is so beyond anything we could fathom in our utopian-like country, and we just tried to help.

Al-Qaeda isn’t gone just because of the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. They haven’t achieved their goal, and they’ll keep working.

But the latest threat to the U.S. is one of many names you’ve heard thrown around on TV or something; you may have heard ISIS, ISIL, or Islamic State. ISIS and ISIL stand for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. So in general, they’re being called the Islamic State. Numerous news outlets like Global Research say that the goal of the Islamic State is “to establish Salafist government over the Levant region of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus and Southern Turkey.” The Islamic State group is actually a group that broke off from al-Qaeda after disputes of control over parts of land in the Middle East.

So what does the rise of the Islamic State mean for us as Americans? It has already cost two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, their lives in brutal beheadings. These violent acts were carried out because of U.S. military action using missiles to strike areas being targeted by the Islamic State. According to reports by CNN, “It’s believed ISIS is still holding a “small number” of Americans hostage.” And with President Obama’s September tenth approval of air strikes over Syria, who is to tell how the Islamic State will react.

As of Sept. 16, “U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq, using fighter aircraft to conduct five airstrikes Monday and Tuesday southwest of Baghdad and northwest of Irbil,” according to the U.S Department of Defense. Islamic State property was destroyed in these strikes.

So now, we wait.

Fond farewell to a tragic clown


Robin Williams once said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” Williams was a gifted actor and comedian but, by many accounts, he was an even better person. He had the ability to make us laugh, cry, and love. Through his accomplishments what shine most are the stories told about his heart of gold.


Many comedians go on stage or just make people laugh and feel good as a way of self-medicating, it seems. Williams, who had an on-and-off struggle with alcoholism, was often praised for his kind acts, but it it seems he may not have connected with a lot of people on a deep personal level. It’s possible Williams was addicted to doing nice things; regardless, the difference he made in the world is worthy of praise.

Comedians, from the class clown to someone like Robin Williams, often seem to have a lot in common. The funniest people sometimes also are the saddest. Oxford University did a survey of 523 comedians and found that the creative elements needed to produce humor were strikingly similar to the characterizations of people with psychosis, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Jaime Masada, owner of Hollywood’s Laugh Factory, said in an article on that “80 percent of comedians come from a place of tragedy.”

Time magazine quote New York psychologist Samuel Janus as saying that comedians often go through some significant trauma in childhood and end up in therapy. So the things that make them funny are some things we can’t even imagine.

In a typical year, 39,000 Americans take their own life. Ninety percent of people who commit suicide often have depression. Williams denied having clinical depression but did mention that he had  down days, generalizing it to  “Everyone has down days.”  The thing is, clinical depression, bipolar disorder and battles with substance abuse all have long lasting and damaging effects to the brain. Having any combination of those could be very hard to recover from.

Some experts have suggested Robin Williams might have had melancholia. Melancholia is a long-lasting deep sadness, an inability to derive pleasure from anything in life, slowed thought and movement, and changes in bodily functions such as different sleep patterns and different appetite. With this condition, there’s a constant risk of suicide, but it is treatable. Studies have shown up to 80 percent of patients respond to ECT. ECT stands for electro convulsion therapy. Other treatments might include antidepressants, which can very effective in some patients.

The problem is a lot of people try to make these issues more black-and-white rather than the parade of colors depression and other mental illnesses really present.

All of this together might raise the question of how someone who makes seemingly everyone so happy could be so depressed? I suspect making people smile and laugh made Williams feel better about himself for however long it might have been. It also might have been easier for him to make us laugh rather than make us sad knowing how depressed he really was.

The thing is, no matter the real reason the world lost Robin Williams, it still feels similar to losing a friend or even more similar to losing a wacky uncle who always had some crazy gag and delivered it with a big goofy smile. It is OK to mourn the loss of said wacky uncle who gave us some of the best gifts we could have asked for in all the colorful characters he brought to life.

In the same sense, Robin Williams was also a celebrity, and it is just as OK to celebrate his life. The beauty is, the gifts both the celebrity and the wacky uncle left us will forever be there. Williams himself may have passed, but the memory will live on, for a very long time.

“And as they watch, their parents will be able to point to the Genie and say there was this man named Robin…,” Rochelle Riley wrote in her article titled “Robin Williams didnt need an audience to be amazing” on

Rest in peace, Robin Williams.