The Five-Second Rule for Productivity

Author Mel Robbins was facing her lowest point. At 41, she didn’t have a job, her family faced debt, and all she could do was lie in bed, tired. She tried many things to get herself out of this state—but all of them brought her back to where she started.

This all changed when she saw a commercial of a rocket. When she heard the countdown, “5… 4… 3… 2…1… BLAST OFF!” what she should do hit her like a train. And it worked. She “blasted off” her way to work, inspired with certain ways to take action and turn her life around.

So how did she do it? How did Robbins take the first step?

It’s simple: when she has a task to accomplish, like getting out of bed, she counts down starting at “5” and when she hits “1,” she blasts herself out of her bed like a rocket. She later called it the “5 second rule.”

What she means is that if you have the instinct to act, you use the 5-second rule to act upon it despite what you’re feeling.

Let’s say you have to finish the assignment due tonight. You know you should do it in order to improve your grade, but you also want to scroll through Instagram. You start to reach for your phone. Instead exclaim, “Wait, stop! Do that assignment! 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Do It!”

The only rules to this trick are that it must be something possible, and it has to be something you can do at any moment. You can use these for anything, such as taking out the trash, breaking an unpleasant habit, or achieving your dreams.

Choose something on your to-do list which you have been delaying and “Just Do It!” 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!

— Billy Wikol

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Civilian Advisory Board for the Police Department

It’s been a busy year for racial justice movements in America. Pushes for racial justice have been coming on stronger than ever all across the country, including in our own community. There were Black Lives Matter marches in Kennett, the Equity+Diversity council has been hard at work this year, and a new African-American history club is in the process of starting up at the school, run by Ms. Olewine. But organizations outside of the school are also working in the pursuit of racial justice and police accountability. One such organization is the Southern Chester County Regional Police department, which recently formed an advisory board composed of members of the community.

The board was an idea pioneered by Chief Gerald Simpson of the SCCRPD, with the goal of fostering an understanding between law enforcement and civilians in our community. Chief Simpson has worked in law enforcement for roughly 38 years and hopes to provide his perspective on issues that the general public may be oblivious to. The general public serving on the board aims to explain their outside perspective on policing and provide suggestions for a more sustainable version of law enforcement.

It will be interesting to see how the community advisory board develops from here. I attended the first meeting and immediately noticed a few things. One was the amount of diversity. There were people of all ages and backgrounds from all across Southern Chester County. I met a student from Avon Grove, and there was at least one other student from Kennett in attendance. There were several Methodist pastors, local businesspeople, and others. The ideological differences among the group were vast. Some seemed in favor of almost a full teardown of our law enforcement system, and some thought few changes were necessary. The police chief and his colleagues seemed open and optimistic about making changes, and the discussion remained civil. Both are good signs for the future of the board and of local law enforcement. While the board holds no official power, it is an important outlet for law enforcement to connect with the general public. Hopefully, it can inspire some changes to make our community a safer and more equitable place.

— Martin Heintzelman

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miniTHON: the Journey of the Four Diamonds

At Kennett High School, miniTHON needs no introduction. Over the past several years, it has become one of the most celebrated and biggest events Kennett offers, and many don’t even know how this celebration and remembrance of childhood cancer even began.

It all began when a boy named Christopher Millard was diagnosed with cancer. It began a summer-long battle as knights began to fight a sorceress within Millard’s body. When the school year began in the fall, Millard’s teacher assigned everyone a writing assignment of what they had done that summer. Knowing what he wanted to talk about, Millard asked his teacher a question: “Can I write a short story instead of an essay?” The teacher replied with a yes.

And so he wrote his short story: The Four Diamonds. While it may seem like a simple story of knight and shining armour defeating evil, it ended up being an allegory for Millard’s journey—an allegory which delivered much weight because of Millard’s past.

The allegory—a work that has a different meaning of what is being said from the surface—tells of Sir Millard, a knight named after the author, and his journey to defeat Raptenahad, an evil sorceress. He needs to collect the four diamonds of Courage, Wisdom, Honesty, and Strength in order to defeat her.

When the real-life Millard turned it in, his teacher praised what she had read. She even said that Millard should write novels during his senior year. Unfortunately, that never happened; he lost the battle, both figuratively and literally. In order to help other kids with cancer, Millard’s parents started an organization called Four Diamonds—named after the four diamonds in Millard’s story.

Today, the four diamonds symbolize what’s needed to win the battle against cancer: courage, wisdom, honesty, and strength. These are needed not just for those with cancer, but everyone. Everyone can join miniTHON and Four Diamonds, because everyone has the courage, wisdom, honesty, and strength to stand up and battle the cancer within all of us.

— Billy Wikol

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Easing Mask Mandates

Local families can breathe an unmasked sigh of relief after the latest COVID-19 mandate. Pennsylvania and Delaware governors Tom Wolf and John Carney recently issued statements saying that, as long as you are fully vaccinated, you are not required to wear a mask. However, unvaccinated and half-vaccinated people are still required to wear masks in all settings. Furthermore, anyone from age 12 and up is eligible to get vaccinated! Longwood Gardens and most pharmacies are providing vaccines for anyone interested.

Because of this, fully vaccinated students can go back to enjoying the great activities of summer they missed last year. Now they can travel, invite friends over, and attend (or volunteer at) summer camps! This also means they will be able to enter next school year normally and enjoy all the activities that were canceled or modified this year. The vaccines are a long-awaited opportunity for everyone to be protected and get back to normal.

— Vienna Gurev

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Mental Health Awareness Month

It’s been a wild few months. The school is finally open 5 days a week for those who had opted to come in, more and more people are getting vaccinated, and I write this having just taken 3 out of my 4 AP exams for the year. That being said, we as students have also managed to get lucky in some ways. While Keystones and AP exams will still be going on like they did pre-pandemic, local finals have been cancelled. But the end of the school year can still be tough for many. It feels like it should be summer, and we’re all still stuck inside a school building for six hours a day. It’s important to try to avoid that burnout feeling, as work will begin to pile up and school will only become more stressful. Seeing as May is mental health awareness month, I want to focus on what we can do to avoid burnout as one of the most volatile school years looks to be coming to a long-awaited close.

  1. Take small breaks
    1. It can be hard to sit down and work for hours, especially if the weather is good like it is right now. To avoid burnout, one key strategy is to just take small breaks. Go outside and rest for a few minutes, or go for a walk or run. This can serve two purposes if you also have pets who need exercise!
  2. Organize your work
    1. Feeling like you have a lot on your plate? I’ve always found that making a “game plan” can help. Try to schedule your work into slots, and it will often quickly seem more manageable. You can use the resources our school gives us for this too! Schoology has a calendar that can help to see when different assignments are due, and Skyward will show you what you have missed. The Google Suite also has a calendar that allows you to block out time for different activities and assignments.
  3. Use the end of the year for catch-up
    1. As has been mentioned by several teachers to me, after June 1st our amount of graded work should be dropping significantly. Many teachers will have stopped adding new assignments and materials, and while I’m unsure if this is on a case-by-case basis or if it is schoolwide, use this extra time to turn in late work or study for any final tests or Keystones you may have!
  4. Just try not to stress!
    1. I know this one seems kind of obvious, but stressing more about work you already have to do won’t actually help you get the work done. On top of this, remember that your mental health and well-being should always come before all else. It’s been a wild year, and sometimes all you need is a break to relax.

— Martin Heintzelman

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Abigail Mack, Harvard, and the Letter ‘S’

Due to her unique college essay, high school senior Abigail Mack is one of the less than 4% of Harvard applicants who were accepted this season. Mack’s reading of her fantastic admissions essay went viral on TikTok, gaining over four million views within the span of only a few days of posting.

Mack began her essay with a reflection on her loathing of the letter ‘S:’ “I hate the letter ‘S.’ Of the 164,777 words with ‘S,’ I only grapple with one. To condemn an entire letter because of its use .0006 percent of the time sounds statistically absurd, but that one case changed 100 percent of my life. I used to have two parents, but now I have one, and the ‘S’ in ‘parents’ isn’t going anywhere.” This introduction immediately hooked me in, and I can see how it instantly interested a Harvard admissions officer.

Mack continued her essay, seamlessly connecting the topic of the letter ‘S’ to the topic of her mother’s death from cancer. She described how she filled her schedule up with extracurriculars to fill the gap left by her mother’s death. She claimed, “There were so many things in my life I couldn’t control, so I controlled what I could- my schedule.” She then explained how she overcame her grief with the loss of her mother and her stress from school and extracurriculars.

During an interview with Buzzfeed, Mack gave some advice to future college applicants: “Your college application is a culmination of everything you’ve done in high school. You’ve already put in the work, so the hardest part is done. Now, you just have to put pen to paper, share what you’ve accomplished, and, most importantly, illustrate how you plan to make a difference going forward in your own, unique way.”

Mack is surprised by her newfound fame and is excited to be considered part of the Harvard Class of 2025!

— Vienna Gurev

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What is AAPI Heritage Month?

AAPI stands for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. This is a general term to represent people whose heritage comes from the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. It began in 1977 by Representative Frank Horton of New York, who proposed that the first ten days in May be dedicated to AAPI heritage. Later that year, Senator Daniel Inouye introduced a similar offer. But both of their ideas were dismissed. It wouldn’t be until a year later that then-President Jimmy Carter signed off the resolution that the first week of May be AAPI week. In 1990, Congress passed Public Law 101-283, which extended the celebration to cover the whole month. However, it still wouldn’t be official until 1992, when Congress passed another law that annually nominated May to be Asian and Pacific Heritage Month. May was chosen as a way to honor the first Japanese immigrant of the United States, Nakahama Manjiró, who came to the U.S. on May 7, 1843. The month is also to celebrate the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1896, as the majority of the workers were Chinese immigrants. This year, President Joe Biden has acknowledged AAPI Heritage month to celebrate the many AAPI people who have had great influence on the cultural and scientific advances in the United States.

— Maya Ross

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AAPI Heritage Month: Modern Trailblazers

Eva Noblezada

Known for starring in hit Broadway musicals with her amazing vocals, give it up for Eva Noblezada. Eva Noblezada was born on March 18, 1996, and grew up in San Diego, California. She is the eldest child of a Filipino father and a Mexican American mother. She began her career at a young age, becoming the top performer at Charlotte, North Carolina’s, Northwest School of the Arts. Her talents wouldn’t be unnoticed, as, at the age of 17, she would be cast as the understudy for Miss Saigon’s heroine, Kim. She also starred in other musicals such as Les Miserables and her more recent role as Eurydice in the musical Hadestown, a modern retelling of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Schuyler Bailar

In comes a rising athlete in swimming, coming from the men’s swim team at Harvard University: Schuyler Bailar. Raised in McLean, Virginia, by his parents Gregor Bailar and Terry Hong, he is of Korean descent. Bailer was never quite satisfied with his life, and it wouldn’t be until after his freshman year of college would he fully embrace his true self. After a year of rest to get treatment for his eating disorder, Bailar finally came to terms with his gender identity. He became the first openly transgender NCAA Division I swimmer. Now, he is an advocate for transgender rights and visibility. In an interview with the Washington Post, he states “I don’t want to always be known as ‘that kid’ or ‘the transgender swimmer’ but I do want to do what I can to help other young people struggling with this.” That said, he wouldn’t have such a successful career if not for his support family, friends, and coaches. Now, he and his parents advocate against transgender violence in America.

Alice Wong

Founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project, media maker and consultant, Alice Wong is a modern trailblazer. Born in 1974 as the child of two immigrants from Hong Kong, Wong was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at an early age. She graduated with an English and Sociology degree at Indiana University and would work as the Staff Research Associate in San Francisco, California. Wong was honored with many awards for her research including the Disability Service Award by the University of California in 2011 and was recently given the Beacon Award by San Francisco Mayor’s Disability Council. Wong was even appointed by President Barack Obama, for membership of the National Council on Disability. She has also done personal works including her novel Resistance and Hope: Essays by Disabled People that was published in October 2018 and in September 2017, she launched her podcast Disability Visibility. She is now the editor of the Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century, along with being an independent research consultant on the side.

Urvashi Vaid

All rise for the attorney and strategist for social justice movements, Urvashi Vaid. Born on October 8, 1958, in New Delhi, India, Vaid’s family soon came to the U.S. eight years after she was born. She attended and graduated from Vassar College in 1979 and attained her law degree from Boston’s Northeastern University in 1983. She would soon become active in politics as she joined the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project for about 3 years. Afterwards, Vaid joined the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as the director of public information. But she would then become the executive director of the NGLTF Policy Institute. She advocated for the group and helped increase its budget. The book that she co-edited with John D’Emilio and William B. Turner, entitled Creating Change: Public Policy, Civil Rights, and Sexuality, was published in 2000. Vaid has received many awards over the years including the Stonewall Book Award, the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund Civil Rights Leadership Award, plus the Social Justice Action Award in 2014. Urvashi Vaid said, “I want a movement that is not just focused on identity but that is engaged in defining what kind of society we will have in the next century.”

— Maya Ross

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The History of Plastic

Plastic: A material made of polymer that can be molded into a shape. 

1863- John Wesley Hyatt invented Celluloid in five years, made from Cellulose, a compound found in wood and straw. This is considered to be the first plastic. However, due to its flammability, it wasn’t the most reliable source.

1907- A chemist by the name of Leo Baekeland created a polymer known as Bakelite, which was a combination of Phenol and Formaldehyde. This polymer was much less flammable and its raw materials were easily accessible.

1920- Polystyrene was soon commercially available, a soft plastic that was used for installation.

1930- Nylon became widely popular as it mimicked silk, but with more strength.

1933- It wouldn’t be until the emergence of Polyethylene that plastic would become used for everything from water bottles to bulletproof vests.

1946- James Hendry built the first injection moulding machine. This made it possible to pour liquid plastic into any shaped mold. Plastic soon became in even higher demand during WWII. Soldier helmets were lined with plastic, water-resistant raincoats were made of vinyl, planes were made of plexiglass, and parachutes were made of nylon.

After the war, companies began to shift their focus to consumer products. Soon enough everything was made of plastic: furniture, clothing, and much more. While plastic is a cheap, easy and convenient source, it also creates detrimental environmental problems. Most plastics are made of non-renewable material and were designed to be used once, but can take centuries to decompose.

In order to save our planet, new types of biodegradable plastics must be invented to replace the old ones.

— Maya Ross

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Ben Hartranft visits KCSD for #ALLin

As I came into view of the signs of Kennett Middle School, I noticed several people masked up. One—who was wearing an Eagles shirt—cheered first to welcome our arrival. Stepping off the bus into the warm spring day, I assumed the person who cheered was a new teacher at Kennett Middle School. However, as I walked into the stadium, Mr Moore told me, “The speaker’s name is Ben; he’s the one in the Eagles’ shirt.” I assumed he was a person learning how to socialize, but he placed smiles on faces while dancing with anyone he encountered. The music calmed down and then Ben spoke. Despite having autism, he was speaking and socializing like a professional. When I heard about his efforts through his story and saw videos of him on the football fields, my brain exploded. He learned how to achieve almost anything without his disability getting in the way. Having a disabled sister, I can relate with him as he struggles to work his way through the condition he didn’t choose. It’s rough to have a family member with autism; I can tell because I have one. Since it was hard to hear his speech via Microsoft Teams, I will retell his story.

For many—Ben and my sister included—being diagnosed with autism began at a young age when their parents noticed something was off. As toddlers, children should speak 200 words; Ben had 20. Later, he was diagnosed with autism. After working hard over the years, he learned how to speak the words he needed.

By high school, he ended up becoming a social butterfly: Ben treated everyone at his school like they were friends, and his friends accepted him like that. Despite doubt from his parents, he campaigned for Homecoming King and won. Most likely because the other nominees for the title wanted their peers to vote for Ben.

Growing up, he was also doing well in life. He got a job at Dorney Park where he enjoyed making others happy and turning frowns into smiles. So much so that they later named him the Mayor of Dorney Park. He also raised money for autism by being an Autism Ambassador for the Eagles. There, he met several of the most popular Eagles players. Ben wanted to be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and after 3 years of asking, he got his chance. (See Ben on The Ellen Show here; his reaction when meeting Ellen is just priceless!)

Of course, not every dream came true for Ben. He talked a lot about most of his success but mentioned a little about his many failures. One of which is how he failed to get the lead role in the school play. Despite those setbacks, that didn’t stop him from trying; he continued to reach for his dreams. That was the key takeaway of his presentation—despite one’s condition, one can achieve great things if they keep on trying.

— Billy Wikol

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