‘23 Elementary Grads Writing Contest


Sixth grade students from White Oaks, Bonnie Brae, Fairview, Laurel Ridge, Oak View, and Terra Centre were challenged to write an article on a topic of their choice that is relevant in today’s society. The submissions were all fantastic, however five outstanding stories were chosen; congratulations Vivian Cho, Sun Yang, Madeline Lee, Magnus Swenson, and Parker Tran. We would also like to congratulate four honorable mentions; excellent work Sophia Ferreira, Dalia Bobesh, Jaxon Smith, and Lucy Tischler.



Creatine; Healthy for Teens?

Vivian Cho
Competition Winner

Muscle building protein supplements have annual sales of more than $40 billion, and creatine alone is “one of the most popular sports dietary supplements on the market, with more than $400 million in annual sales,” according to National Library of Medicine.
Creatine is an amino acid – a naturally forming protein that helps build muscle and can be found in red meats, fish, and poultry. However, creatine can also be extracted and consumed as dietary supplements to help with sports and working out. Of course, creatine isn’t the only one. There is also beta-alanine, hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB), whey proteins, and many more. These proteins can also help with different things. For example, beta-alanine lacks the muscle-building protein that creatine has, and instead provides more energy to prolong training or work out sessions.
On the other hand, whey protein and creatine do build muscles – it has the proteins to help build lean, toned muscle mass. Creatine is used widely by high schoolers, college athletes, and even professionals. According to National Institutes of Health, about 48% of men in the NCAA use creatine, stretching across around 20 different sports. Creatine is especially popular in football, hockey, wrestling, and gymnastics, but can also be a great help in lifting, competitive swimming, sprinting, and more. While creatine isn’t outlawed in such sports, there is still much debate over whether teenagers should be using it, as their body is still developing.
“Just because they’re natural, if you use too much it can still be bad for your body,” said sixth grader Dalia Bobesh. While there are many contradicting health articles on whether or not amino acid supplements are healthy for the human body, there is always a possibility the medicine or supplements can be harmful. Sixth grader Sophia Ferreira says, “If they were going to build muscles they should do it on their own and not with supplements.”
Mason Cho, Robinson junior and track athlete, says that creatine usage is acceptable “if it’s a well-researched supplement and from a legitimate source.” Another Robinson junior and wrestler, Adam Cho, agrees since anyone could ingest creatine in what they eat, as amino acid supplements are extracted from natural foods.
According to Kids Health, “most studies do not show benefits to taking amino acid supplements. Some amino acid supplements may cause serious side effects. There aren’t enough long-term studies to know if amino acid supplements are safe for teens.” Additionally, an article by LiveStrong also says, “It is risky for children and adolescents to take amino acid supplements, and there is not enough information to establish a safe amount of amino acids in supplements.” The article also raises a concern about supplements in that they are not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
On the contrary, a story by Amino Vital disagrees; “We eat amino acids every day in foods that contain protein. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.” The article argues that amino acids are needed for physiological functions, like enzyme production, hormone regulation, and cognitive ability. A story by Off Season Athlete contributes that “New research is emerging suggesting that creatine is not only safe for teens, but very beneficial as well.”
Overall, taking muscle supplements such as creatine, beta-alanine, whey proteins, HMB and others are generally not proven to be harmful, as long as it’s used responsibly and safely.



The Future Of Esports

Sun Yang
Competition Winner

Esports is electronic sports or competitive gaming, and it is becoming even more popular than ever. With esport professionals making an average of over one hundred thousand dollars and some even millions, lots of teens are playing games regularly and even enjoy watching them.
Some schools have begun giving out scholarships for esports, and many schools have teams. If teens get a scholarship and are on a college level team, it possible they will go pro.
Pros have to be the best of the best and that can bring a lot of pressure. Every game they play, people are watching, and if pros don’t live up to expectations they get cut. Additionally, pros could get cut from teams due to a lack of funding, which is why being a professional gamer is risky. Also, once a gamer reaches 25, prime time is over. Most esports pros retire in their thirties and very few still play professionally in their forties.
Lots of pros have Youtube and twitch channels, and sign content creators to promote their teams and grow fans across many different platforms. Having a content creator helps teams grow a fan base that will buy tickets and merchandise.
Injuries exist both in sports and esports. In esports, instead of physical harm, the most common injury and usually overlooked is mental health. There are lots of social interactions online and many can experience criticism, hate, and toxicity from other people. If this stress gets to them and they speak out about it, they could be considered weak. There are lots of players waiting to be the next best, so replacement is always a threat.
Many pro gaming organizations are starting to hire trainers to combat health risks. Secondly, if gamers are online all day, they might not be able to eat a proper meal. Lots of pros will eat a quick ready-to-eat food with no utensils, resulting in an unhealthy diet. Recently, many organizations have been giving pros a more healthy diet.
Esports has a lot of room to grow and progress. As popularity rises and fans grow the economy of esports is growing. With esports rapid growth, in the future it could become a worldwide sensation.



Date Labels; A Notorious Source of Consumer Confusion

Madeline Lee
Competition Winner

Oh no, the absolute horror! Your unopened box of Wheat Chex that has been sitting unnoticed until now in the back of your pantry has what-you-think-is-expired by ten days. It smells okay, is mold-free, and nothing is wrong with it. However, like many, you fling it into the trash can without a second thought. After all, in your mind, it is inedible and will probably give you a nasty stomach ache. Uncertainty and confusion regarding the matter of date labels is the cause of an enormous amount of food waste in the U.S.
It’s a popular misconception that the best by date is referring to when the food becomes unsafe to eat. In reality, the best by, sell by, and freeze by dates are nothing more than the manufacturers’ recommendation on when to consume for highest quality.
According to an article on food waste published in Food Control, an international journal that informs readers of food safety, survey results revealed that out of the participants, 58% of the people “would throw away a food that appeared to be edible, but in their assessment ‘wasn’t worth the risk,’ which implies that consumers may actually practice the food safety recommendation ‘if in doubt, throw it out’ at the expense of safe, edible food.” Approximately 30% of all food in the US is wasted; the USDA has estimated that Americans throw out 133 billion pounds or $161 billion dollars’ worth of food yearly.
Lack of standardization and clarity concerning date labels contributes to this and approximately 20% of the waste happens on the consumer level. To battle this issue, the USDA and FDA have begun encouraging manufacturers to use the phrase “best if used by” on their food products.
In conclusion, misleading date labels that are often thought of to show the period of time a food product is safe to eat, but are actually indicating its quality have caused edible, cause food to be thrown away in large quantities in the U.S.. To lessen all of this waste, the USDA, FDA, and other government agencies have worked together to educate consumers on the truth about date labels.



Should TikTok Be Banned?

Parker Tran
Competition Winner

After a long day of learning, you finally get home to relax and check your phone. Your messages, your emails, and finally, your TikToks. You open the app, but it is not working. TikTok has been banned.
Popular Social Media app TikTok is banned in many countries on work devices, and in some countrywide. The app is mostly being banned for security reasons, from accessing private information, to tracking the user’s location. “TikTok is very secure, because even though Bytedance is located in China, I highly doubt that any information will be shared.” Says Eliab Esayas, sixth grader at White Oaks Elementary. “It should be banned for government officials.”
There are many challenges on TikTok that cause very serious injuries. “Dangerous challenges like the one chip challenge, sent some kids to the hospital,” said Maddie Lee, another sixth grade student at White Oaks. Additionally, social media can also cause mental health issues, like depression or lack of sleep. “The biggest flaw is the health issues, you can get addicted,” said Lucia Kimmel, sixth grade student. “Sometimes people just need to go out and touch grass.”
TikTok can also alter the brain. “It trains the human mind to normalize viewing short formed content as opposed to long form content,” said Noah Tran, a college student. “It conditions people to absorb a crazy amount of content because of time blindness. Time blindness is when you continue watching whatever it is, for hours and hours, and not paying attention to time.”
TikTok, like other social media platforms, has a major impact on today’s society. Many people around the world use it to communicate, learn, market big ideas, and have fun. Sixth grade teacher at White Oaks Elementary believes it could be used for educational purposes. “I know a lot of teachers put stuff on TikTok so I think there is a lot of learning content,” said Nussbaum.
Tiktok has clearly marked its place in America, from the funny videos to extreme challenges. While many kids, teens, and adults love the app, many wonder if it will be banned forever.



The Dark Web

Magnus Swenson
Competition Winner

Many have heard of a place on the internet called the dark web. But what exactly is this seemingly ominous-sounding place, and what goes on in the shadows of the internet?
“The Dark Web refers to anonymous networks that act as overlays which use the existing internet but provide alternative protocols to alter, mask or anonymize internet traffic, sometimes referred to as a Darknet,” said Jared Der-Yeghiayan, Director of the Advanced Cybercrime and Engagement (ACE) team at Recorded Future.
The dark web provides users with anonymity and does not track location like the internet does. Because of this, the dark web is the choice for many criminals. “The dark web is often associated with illegal activities on the internet like drug trafficking, fraud, identity theft, crimes against children, and hacking,” said Greg Louderback, Senior Director of Strategic Accounts Engagement at Flashpoint. “It’s part of the internet that’s not indexed by search engines like Bing or Google, and it requires special software like the Tor browser to access.”
The anonymity provided by the darkweb does not make cybercriminals infallible. According to Louderback, “Sometimes, criminals make mistakes and expose their identities by accident… law enforcement has to go undercover and assume the persona of a criminal to trick criminals into exposing themselves… [or] can gather enough leads and intelligence to identify a bad guy.”
The dark web and cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, go hand-in-hand. According to Louderback, “because everyone on the darkweb is trying to stay anonymous, users can’t pay for illegal goods with normal payment methods like credit cards, PayPal, Venmo. These normal payment methods leave an easily identifiable paper trail… To stay anonymous, criminals pay for illegal goods using cryptocurrencies that are difficult to trace.”
Cybercriminals use the anonymity inherent in the darkweb to commit criminal activity. Law enforcement agencies like the FBI and Homeland Security will continue to find ways to track these criminals.