Monday, April 27, 2009

20 Questions to ask your school counselor

Your school counselor is one of your best resources as you plan for college. Your counselor has information about admissions tests, college preparation, and your education and career options. Here are some basic questions to help get your conversation started:

1. What are the required and recommended courses—for graduation and for college prep?
2. How should I plan my schedule so I'll complete them?
3. Which elective courses do you recommend?
4. Which AP® courses are available?
5. When is the PSAT/NMSQT® going to be given here?
6. Is this school a testing center for the SAT®, or will I need to go somewhere nearby?
7. Do you have any after-school or evening sessions available for college planning, or the SAT?
8. Do you have college handbooks or other guides that I can browse or borrow? Do you have a copy of the free SAT Preparation Booklet™, which has a practice test in it?
9. What activities can I do at home and over the summer to get ready for college?
10. What kinds of grades do different colleges require?
11. Are there any college fairs at this school, or nearby?
12. Where do other kids from this school attend college?
13. What are the requirements or standards for the honor society?
14. Can you put me in touch with recent grads who are going to the colleges on my wish list?
15. Do you have any information to help me start exploring my interests and related careers?
16. If my colleges need a recommendation from you, how can I help you know me better, so it can be more personal?
17. Are there any special scholarships or awards that I should know about now, so I can work toward them?
18. Can I see my transcript as it stands now, to see if everything is as I think it should be?
19. Do you have any forms I need to apply for financial aid?
20. How does our school compare to others, in terms of test scores and reputation?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Movie: American Violet

The film tells the story of a woman arrested and accused of dealing drugs and her crusade to clear her name.

Six years ago, writer-producer Bill Haney was driving home during rush hour in Boston when he heard a National Public Radio story about Regina Kelly, a young African American woman -- a single mother with four daughters -- in the small Texas town of Hearne who was unjustly arrested during a raid on the projects where she lived. She was accused of dealing drugs.

The district attorney gave her the option of either a plea deal -- if she took the deal she wouldn't be allowed to vote and would lose most of her rights -- or going to jail for 25 years. Instead of conceding, the 24-year-old woman contested the charges and, after they were dismissed, teamed with the ACLU to file a discrimination suit against the D.A. and local police.

"She was basically given a 'Sophie's Choice,' " says Haney. "I began to cry and started crying so much I couldn't drive. I had kids myself, and the idea this sort of institutionalized casual cruelty was happening to a mother and young girls, it so infuriated and upset me."

Haney went to Texas and spent a lot of time with Kelly, her children and the attorneys, filming long interviews with them, as well as going through some 50,000 pages of legal documents.

"Regina was pregnant at 13, and the year I went there, in the African American high school, 169 kids entered as freshmen and only three had graduated," Haney says. "None went to college. The United States has the largest prison population in the world. Texas has the most people in prison of any place in the U.S. The long, dark hand of the criminal justice system is very clear when you spend time in the projects."

Haney says Kelly trusted him immediately. "I always felt a great responsibility to the story," he says. "She hadn't a lot of positive experiences with men, so for her to be as open and exposed as she was with me, I think that was really courageous."

"You have a choice when certain things happen to you in your life. She could have just taken the plea bargain and it would have been over. But she learned how she felt about being a citizen. . . . I think that's the sort of something we saw recently with our elections. People, once they kind of get fired up and decide they are going to change some things, you actually can."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spotted: Keke Palmer

Actress KeKe Palmer arrives at the premiere of Warner Bros. ‘17 Again’ held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Tuesday, April 14th in Hollywood, California.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Celebrity reporter’s book reveals celebs' insecurity and self-esteem realities

Shaun Robinson, the Emmy Award winning television co-host of “Access Hollywood,” has put some of her celebrity interviews to paper in a new book. The tome, however, is not about stardom, fame, or Hollywood rumors.

Robinson’s new book, titled “Exactly As I Am: Celebrated Women Share Candid Advice with Today's Girls on What It Takes to Believe in Yourself” shares stories about the self-esteem struggles and triumphs of some of the world’s most talented, most famous, and most notable women.

“I’ve been working on this book for the last three years. One of the main reasons is because through my work here at ‘Access Hollywood’ and through the charity organizations I work with, including Girls, Inc., I have so many girls who ask me about the stars of Hollywood; if they are as perfect as they look on TV or in the movies and magazines,” Robinson said of her motivation to author “Exactly As I Am.”

“We have become a pretty celebrity-obsessed culture and many of our young girls think that people like me, on TV, or any of their favorite actresses are perfect and have never had struggles,” she said. “What I wanted to do was show them that we all go through things, we all have these times where we struggle with whether we’re good enough or we’re pretty enough.”

Teen blazing trail for female African-American golfers

Mariah Stackhouse’s rise to prominence provides a handy roadmap for African-Americans trying to reach the top levels of golf, but also reveals just how many obstacles there are along the way.Mariah Stackhouse, who just turned 15, has already climbed as high as No. 29 in the American Junior Golf Association’s national female rankings and currently stands 33rd.

In a sport desperately lacking in African-Americans outside of Tiger Woods, Stackhouse certainly stands out. Having just turned 15, she’s already climbed as high as No. 29 in the American Junior Golf Association’s national female rankings and currently stands 33rd, making her the top-rated black player on either the girls or boys list.

“If I get an opportunity to play professional golf,” she said, “I’d definitely like to give that a try.”
Her rise to prominence provides a handy roadmap for African-Americans trying to reach the top levels of golf, but also reveals just how many obstacles there are along the way.

“It’s a big financial investment and a huge sacrifice,” said her father, Ken Stackhouse. “I’ve known (African-Americans) who played before us, and their concerns were always the same. They never really got all the support they needed financially. As a consequence, they were never able to rise to the level Mariah has. Fortunately, she had support early enough to make a difference.”

For Mariah, it started with a doting father — “I was always a daddy’s girl,” she said unabashedly — who loved golf and willing to spend the time to teach it to his daughter, beginning at age 2. Stackhouse also has a job in the residential construction and design business that allows him to take time off when Mariah is playing tournaments during the spring and summer.
“I know most people aren’t as lucky as we are,” he said, relaxing with his daughter on the patio at the Braelinn Golf Club in this links-oriented suburb southwest of Atlanta.

Even with those built-in advantages, the Stackhouses still needed a hand from others. A local pro, King Simmons, allowed Mariah to hone her skills on several Atlanta city courses, free of charge. Then Ralph Boston, who won an Olympic golf medal in the long jump at the 1960 Rome Games, met Mariah and her father at a local tournament. Impressed by their passion for the game, he hooked them up with a prominent golf course owner who operated a club where Boston was a member. That allowed Mariah to practice and play at high-quality layouts around the metro area, minus the huge cost.

Spotted: Raven Symone

Raven-Symone participated in the The 33rd Annual Toyota Pro/Celeb Race Press Day in Long Beach, California earlier this week.