Expert's Guide to Gunn High School

Written by: Marlin Wijekoon


Unit 2:
Inside the Teenage Brain:
Following the transition to the adolescent stage, a child may notice emotional liability, rebellion, defiance, and sudden bursts of intelligence within him or herself - characteristics that are very similar to those found in a "typical" teenager. While teens deny these changes and parents consider them a "phase", these changes are actually caused by a redevelopment of the brain. During adolescence, a teenager's brain remodels itself -- an increase of nerve activity in the prefrontal cortex begins. This part of the brain controls our perception of proper actions, as well as our perception of social behavior, which explains why teenagers are so moody.
In addition to sudden changes in emotion, teenagers also develop a high craving for risk, for their judgment is not entirely in sync. Although this might seem undesirable, however, taking risks lead teens to understand their limitations.
Although teens experience mood swings and crave for risk, there is a critical period during brain development where the brain gains flexibility. The brain is highly receptive to gathering new information, and learning new skills, so at this stage teenagers gain interest in new things, and form new hobbies.
When dealing with many stressful situations in life involving things such as school and family issues, it is important for teenagers to know what changes their brains go through during adolescence. Although there are both good and bad changes, it is up to them to make themselves more familiar with and aware of these changes, and to use them to become a healthier person.
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Learning Styles:
“A learning style is a student's consistent way of responding to and using stimuli in the context of learning.”(Keefe 1979). In school, there are three learning styles – Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic – which are all used in different ways by teachers. Different styles work best for different students. After finding out which learning style fits him or her best, one can adjust their study habits to the best learning style in order gain more productivity from studying.
Visual learners learn best using their eyes, taking notes on any kind of visual information, such as drawings or diagrams. Auditory learners learn best through lectures, or from any other form of auditory information. Kinesthetic learners learn best through interactive activities, where they can participate and get hands-on experience to help them better understand the curriculum.
Second to these learning styles follow two others: Analytical and Global. Analytical thinkers prefer to complete tasks step by step while paying attention to close details. Global thinkers, on the other hand, see a task as a whole picture, and complete the entire task at once.
Once a student has learned which learning style fits them best, they can change their study habits and environment to make studying easier for them. Doing so leads a student to be more productive and complete higher quality work.

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Unit 3: Individuality
Gender Issues/Media Influences:
In recent years, the media has had a large influence on America. The messages it conveys to its audience have shown to be very effective, which can be seen in politics, the economy, and sports. Although the media sends messages to the public with positive intentions, some have laid negative messages on their audience. Two ideas sent by the media, influence males and females of different ages to change their physical appearance, which at times can be fatal.
From T.V. shows and magazines regarding models, the media has influenced women to change their physical appearance in order to look as thin as possible. In order to achieve the "proper" thin figure they wish to obtain, some women (and men), have developed fatal eating disorders. The most common eating disorder, anorexia, is the “third most common chronic illness among adolescents.”(2006) A study showed that about 5-10% of people who are anorexic, have died ten years after developing their eating disorder. In addition, only 1 out of 10 people who have developed eating disorders have received treatment, increasing the risks of the disease.
Alternatively, “real” men are aggressive, emotionless, and independent. In order to gain respect from others, a man has to be foul, vulgar, and must acquire brute physique. A study showed that 85% of murder is committed by men, and 1 in 4 men will use violence against a partner. If a male doesn’t show any form of aggression, he is a “wealking”, a “wussy”, or a “fag”
Self acceptance is something that needs to be practiced by anyone who may seem insecure about their physical appearance. Respect isn’t gained by a curvy or tough figure; it’s gained by personality and kindness.
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Learning Differences/Disability
For most Americans, the Beijing Olympics of 2008 is said to have been the most exciting Olympics competition of all, as Michael Phelps broke many single records and set a significant world record by winning 8 gold medals. Following this worldwide competition was yet another sports competition: the Paralympics. Much like the regular Olympics, the Paralympics is a worldwide sports competition, where people from different countries with physical and sensorial disabilities compete in various sports. The Paralympics is gaining popularity each competition, as over 4,000 people from 128 countries competed last year.
In our world today, physical and learning disabilities are commonly overlooked. This ignorance is emphasized, as people commonly use the word “retard” to insult each other, while others often call themselves a “cripple” when they suffer a minor injury. A study conducted in 2005 showed that 54.4 million U.S. residents (1 in 5 Americans) reported some kind of disability. Yet despite these large numbers in disability rates, people continue to disregard the existence of disability.
On July 26th, 1990, however, the Americans with Disabilities Act - a civil rights law which stabilized equality between those with disabilities and those without - was passed. This gave people with disabilities better opportunities for getting jobs and education to meet their needs.
Although laws like the ADA give some form of assistance to people with disabilities, some are still socially ostracized; by accepting themselves with their disabilities, however, they can overcome such obstacles.
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Unit 4: HEALTH

Depression/Anxiety:
Now categorized as a disease, “depression is one of the greatest problems and killers of our time.”(Murray, 2005). Everyone has experienced depression to a certain degree at some point in their life. While some have a stronger cases than others, experiencing depression is distressing. Through recent research, scientists have found the causes of depression, as well as symptoms that determine whether or not you should be diagnosed with it.
Recent claims suggest that depression can be linked to genetics – it is developed in the brain and can be triggered by traumatic events. One way depression is caused in the brain is by reduced serotonin production and a surplus of noradrenalin. One can tell whether they suffer from depression or not if they have lost interest in hobbies, have feelings of hopelessness, or face great difficulty in making decisions.
The best way to deal with depression is to seek emotional help. Through psychodramatic or behavior therapy, an individual can slowly cure their depression. Through therapy, one can find their personal cause of depression, and deal with their past to heal their emotional struggle.
Depression is on the rise, as more and more people are diagnosed with depression. If an individual is aware of their own depression, it is his or her responsibility to seek emotional help to return to a happier life.
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Stress:
Stress, often looked upon as a virus hindering productivity and happiness, is in fact necessary to thrive in life. Developing a low amount of stress can help you rise to a challenge and deal with situations with a clear mind. However, if too much stress is produced, it can have dire effects on the individual, possibly causing panic attacks, problems with sleeping, and even depression.
When dealing with minimal stress, the body undergoes a behavioral change called Allostasis. This adaptive stress response helps the body with mobilization by sharpening the sense.
If the body deals with too much stress for a long time, it undergoes a behavioral change know as an Allostatic Load. Feeling the effects of an allostatic load for an extended period of time can lead to many stress-related disorders such as diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, chronic inflammation, digestive disorders, infertility, neuron death, and depression.
In order to keep stress at a healthy level, one can alleviate themselves by practicing relaxing activities, such as meditation. Maintaining stress at a healthy level is essential for those who lead busy lives, as it increases productivity and provides more beneficial results, such as studying for an exam.
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Unit 5 Substance Abuse:

Addiction:
Addiction, an extreme case of obsession or compulsion, is a state when someone is psychologically or physically dependent on a particular habit, such as gambling, drugs, or alcohol. Addiction can be caused by many factors; genetics, unhealthy environments, abuse, or emotional disorders can cause addiction as a person relieves stress or depression using a meticulous habit.
An addiction is developed when a person finds pleasure in (or has pain taken away from) a particular habit, and so they continue this habit to increase these feelings. As an addiction is developed, the pituitary glands produce endorphins (also known as pleasure hormones), which trigger the brain’s side of pleasure and thus addict the person to that habit. Eventually, one will find it difficult to last without continuing the habit for an extended period of time. The most addictive habits, such as drugs and alcohol, have the most catastrophic results. Addiction to such habits can eventually lead to depression despite the initial pleasure-inducing causes of the habit.
As it is never good to develop an addiction, it is therefore necessary to prevent it at all costs. If you find yourself overly obsessed with a particular habit, you should avert your attention away from that habit for a while and return to the habit later, therefore preventing any addiction you may have.
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Tobacco, Alchohol, Marajuana:

Tobacco, an agricultural manufactured good made from plant leaves has caused the most addictions worldwide. A global study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002 showed that one person dies every eight seconds from tobacco use. In addition, 1 in 5 young teenagers worldwide have smoked, and 50% of teenagers who have tried smoking are likely to continue between 15-20 years. Both forms of tobacco, chewing and smoking, cause cancer in either the lungs or the gums, which is emphasized by these statistics.
Alcohol is another substance that is also very addictive. In the US, more than 100,000 deaths are caused by alcohol addiction each year. If taken regularly in large amounts, the long term effects of alcohol include damage to vital organs (such as the liver), higher blood pressure, and lowered resistance to disease.
Marajuana is an addictive drug composed of shredded leaves from hemp plants. When smoked, the user will experience an elevated mood change, also known as a “high”. People use Marajuana repeatedly in order to experience this sensational mood change numerous times, which leads to addiction instantaneously. Simlarly to smoking, the long term effects of Marajuana include respiratory problems and increased risk of lung, neck, or head cancer.
These three substances are will most likely cause addiction after the first use. Although alcohol takes more consumption in order to develop addiction, alcoholism can lead to emotional and fatal struggles. It’s highly recommended you stay away from tobacco and marijuana completely, as an addiction grows immediately that will take a long time to cure.
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Unit 6: Sexuality

Methods of Birth Control and Abstinence:
Different people have different interpretations of the act of sexual abstinence. One might consider doing sexually related things that they believe still follows sexual abstinence, while their partner believes the opposite. Therefore, it is necessary for both partners to agree on their “rules” of abstinence before engaging in any sexually related activity.
There are many methods of birth control as people prefer different methods over others. One of the most common methods is by using a condom. If, however, you choose to use a condom, there are a few precautions you must take. It’s necessary to check the expiration date of the condom, in order to ensure that you are protected. In addition, silicone or water based lubricant should be used because oil based lubricants will tear the condom. Finally, make sure you only use one condom; using two will have no use, as they will rip from friction.
The most effective method of birth control would be to not engage in any sexual activity at all. Doing so will not only prevent birth, but will protect you from STD’s.
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HIV/AIDS and other STDs:
Every year in Gunn High School, about 250 students will receive some kind of STD. In the US, approximately 1 million teenagers will be pregnant, and 3.75 million will receive an STD each year. Reasons why teens receive STD’s include their oblivion of having an STD, or because they do not know how to pass STD’s.
The #1 STD found in teens is Chlamydia. It’s passed between people through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. In women, it affects the cervix while in men it affects the urethra. Once infected with Chlamydia, women may experience unusual vaginal discharges, and men will experience a burning sensation when urinating. Although this infection can be killed by antibiotics, most teens are unaware of their infection, and therefore do not cure it.
The most fatal STD, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), affects approximately 17,000 people each day in the world. The 4 ways to get HIV are through blood transfusion, unprotected sex, dirty needles/sharing needles, or birth. The four bodily fluids that transfer HIV between people are blood, semen, breast milk, and vaginal fluids. The HIV virus attacks the immune system, and progresses to a condition within 10-12 years known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This is a condition when the immune system fails to recognize bacteria, which leads to death caused by normally curable viruses.
The main three ways to prevent HIV is to use clean needles, and practicing safe sex. Abstinence will be most effective, but if having sexual intercourse is a must, use proper protection (condoms and barriers). Make sure to use new needles each time you inject, or clean your needles by using water and bleach.
If you aren’t sure whether you have HIV, make sure you check every six months with either your doctor, a help organization like Planned Parenthood, or by using self tests. If not infected with HIV, be sure to protect yourself at all costs, as being infected with the disease will lead to a difficult struggle.
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Unit 7: Life at Gunn
Freshmen Year/Effort:
Although the transition from 8th grade to Freshmen year can be tough for some people, 9th grade is definitely the easiest year of high school. Although you will be given longer hours of homework and harder tests, freshmen year is a breeze compared to the later years.
Nevertheless, it is important to put effort in your work during freshman year. Yes, colleges do look at your freshmen grades and performance. Although they serve a small contribution to your college application, it is necessary you try hard freshmen year if you plan to succeed the other three years. Although freshmen year sounds easy, you will need to study for tests and spend lots of time on projects depending on the classes you take.
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Studying:
Completing freshmen year with high marked grades requires time, effort, and patience. Tests during the year, especially finals, can only be conquered by productive studying in multiple short-term increments, as one long study session can be tiring and overwhelming.
A common mistake most students make is putting off their studying until the night before the test. This never works, as the student will be very stressed about the test, and will not have a productive study session. It is best to start studying about a week before the test, for about 30-60 minutes each day. This way, you can focus on each section of a unit thoroughly, and study each section more in-depth.
Most importantly, get a goodnight’s sleep the night before and eat a hearty breakfast the morning of the test. Without a good sleep and breakfast, it will be difficult to concentrate on your test, and thus your performance will be hindered. Following these steps will aid to better performance on your tests, which can make a large impact on your overall grade.
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Bibliography (MLA Formatting)
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5. "New Statistics 54.4 Million Americans with a Disability." Disabled-World. 20 Dec, 2008. Disabled-World. 11 Jan, 2009 <http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/statistics/us-disability-stats.php>.
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9. Mclemore, Patrick. "The Causes of Addiction." Ezine Articles. 9 January 2008. EzineArticles. 11 Jan 2009 <http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Causes-Of-Addiction&id=920185>.
10. T, Buddy. "Basic Facts About Marijuana." About.com. 2 August, 2006. About.com. 12 Jan 2009 <http://alcoholism.about.com/od/pot/a/marijuana.htm>.
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3. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/gender/images/bridgevisual.gif
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5. http://www.121hypnosis.com/images/121depression2.jpg
6. http://www.kf6nvr.net/blog/archives/images/computing_stress.jpg
7. http://www.whale.to/a/Addiction_c.jpg
8. http://www.villageeap.com/employee-resources/images/tobacco.jpg
9. http://superjennyc.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/birth20control.jpg
10. http://www.vircolab.com/content/backgrounders/www.vircolab.com/hiv_virus.gif
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