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Well, for one thing, it's the coolest high school newspaper in all the land. Watch our video and find out more.
Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
Favorite shoes can make us strong, or irritate. Just like good friends.
A love-hate relationship
By TIFFANY TOWNSLEY, Palm Harbor University High
I always thought I would grow into liking shoes. To me, it seemed one of those ultimate requirements of Girlhood, to have this love affair with all and every kind of shoe. I expected this love to wham right into me during the haze of my tween years. I didn’t have many affairs. If you loved to shop for shoes, I was your worst nightmare to shop with. To me shoes were shoes — what was the difference? At least, that’s what I thought until I found a pair of shoes with a real difference. They are Vibram Five Fingers. Or as I like to call them, the Shoes.
My transformation happened when I had to start working out and running to stay in shape for swimming. No problem. I had my lucky sneakers, which, after nearly three years, I had to admit had become a little worn. The right toe cap was peeling off and the left was missing, and the soles would occasionally flip back and under my heels, letting my socks touch the ground. But they weren’t that bad.
My mother disagreed. She took me to International Plaza to this giant store called Fit 2 Run. Oh, I was fit to run from this shoe palace all right, right out the gaping door. But my mother happened upon the Vibrams and stopped me from fleeing. I thought I was looking at a science experiment gone wrong; these weren’t shoes, they were gloves for my toes! How could these be for running? They looked too thin, barely enough padding on the soles. But once I tried them on and ran around the store’s track lines, I was smitten. Maybe it was all the hype from the store attendant, but my feet felt amazing. Finally, I had fallen in love with a pair of shoes.
Like any relationship, the first few weeks were great. I loved striding around school with my new Five Fingers, enjoying the gaping faces of those who caught sight of my fleet feet. And running somehow seemed less of a hassle. Yes, life was wonderful. Until I stepped into trouble, in the form of a puddle. Vibrams aren’t water resistant, and they can shrink in the dryer. Things started going downhill. The shoes began to rub my ankles the wrong way, causing blisters. I stopped wearing them for a couple of months, and forgot about them. Then one day, as I was organizing my closet for the summer, I came across them, and I decided to wear them again. I spent almost 10 minutes getting the shoes on before I went for a run. Like the first time I wore them, it was wonderful, even if they were a bit tighter. I remembered how fond I was of the Shoes, and we slipped into a sort of love-hate relationship. Most mornings I would do battle with my shoes, but once they were on they were so comfy I would forget I was wearing them. On some days, I would shove them to the back of my closet. Other days I was happy to take time to show off my mutant X-men shoes.
Sure, this wasn’t the relationship I was looking for as a little girl, but I love them anyway.
(Photo, top left: Tiffany Townsley found her perfect fit: a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. --By Sam Dolson, St. Petersburg High)
Strength, in shredded satin
By JULIET PARAMOR, Tarpon Springs High
Every ballerina has a pair of pointe shoes. Actually, she probably has more than a few. Pointe shoes aren’t like any other kind of shoe. These satiny, beribboned shoes are designed to give dancers the ability to dance on their toes. They are intended to make the dancer appear weightless. When I can achieve that feeling, it’s one of the most wonderful experiences. More often than not, especially while breaking in my pointe shoes, my feet feel heavy and weighed down. Once I break them in, and my shoes mold to my feet, I do get a taste of what it’s like to feel like I’m floating. I love my pointe shoes, everything about them. The faded writing on the inside of the shank. The material on the toe slowly shredding off from grinding against the floor. The eventual broken shank. And yes, even the blood stains on the ribbons. They really show how much hard work I’ve put into them, how much passion I’ve put into them. Not only do they make me feel beautiful, they also make me feel strong. Each pair comes and goes in a matter of months. I have to buy new ones and sew them up again (attaching the ribbons and elastic, the thing I least look forward to), but each new pair of pointe shoes is a new journey. After I sew the ribbons and elastic on, I break the shoes in to fit my feet, then work them until they wear out right under me. And repeat.
(Photo, bottom left: Once they have conformed to her feet, ballet pointe shoes lift the spirits and body of dancer Juliet Paramor. When she’s all laced up she feels as if she is floating.)
Nothing to tie him down
By SAM DOLSON, St. Petersburg High
A good friend of mine knew I was in need of new soccer cleats. He suggested that he give me a pair that never fit him right. They hadn’t been his cleats to start with, either. I guess you could say we had a Brotherhood of the Traveling Cleats, like the traveling pants, only more ragged and dirty. They were a free pair of cleats, what did you expect me to say, no? Of course I accepted before I even got to see what they looked like. The next weekend I went over to my friend’s house to pick up the shoes, and I got quite a surprise. They were different from most cleats; my free, new cleats had no shoelaces. These slip-ons fit me, and many of my teammates nicknamed them loafers. There was a downside, though. They were missing two back studs on both cleats. But I quickly adjusted, and now I simply enjoy my free, and laceless, cleats. Playing soccer in them is interesting. Many people ask me where I got them and how much they cost, and I always have to tell them I don’t know, which makes for quite funny reactions. They don’t feel much different from my old traditional cleats, except for giving me the sense of a bit more control over my shot when hitting the ball where the laces used to be. I’ve been wearing them on and off for a year and now they are my go-to cleats. Beaten up, but my favorite.
(Photo, bottom right: Sam Dolson scored these laceless soccer cleats for an unbeatable price: free. [They came from a friend.])
Photos by Sam Dolson and Michael Newcomer.