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Fresh Voices

Barbie, Love Her or Hate Her?


Barbie is known for being a toy, just something that girls (and some boys) play with. Yet, she is so much more than that. She has been both praised and condemned. Like every one of us, she has a history.

The Barbie doll was invented in 1959; Ruth Handler is credited with creating her. Barbie is named after her daughter, Barbara, and Ken, named after her son, Ken Handler.

Well, now that you have a little bit of backstory, I want to prove to you that Barbie is more than just blonde hair and blue eyes. I’m going to convince you that Barbie is more than her dream house and wardrobe. She is more than her cars and horses, too!!!

I want to focus on the positive effects that she has on the youth of every the whole entire UNIVERSE!!

While I am (very) pro-Barbie, even I can admit it’s easy to see the cons related to Barbie’s character and her giggly attitude, not to mention the way she looks. With an impossible hourglass shape, MASSIVE blue eyes, unbelievably pointed feet, and arms and legs the width of a toothpick, one of Barbie’s greatest enemies is herself and her figure. Also, her character is questionable in the more modern shows where she is featured. She can be played as a spoiled brat, who spends all day shopping. In the somewhat new show, “Barbie, Life in the Dream House”, I feel she is portrayed as someone who doesn’t have a brain, and is only worried about her next date with her boyfriend, Ken. Also, her obsession with pink can become quite obnoxious.

Many doctors and therapists have repeatedly cited Barbie as one of the most negative influences on girls’ body image due to her impossible hip, waist, and chest measurements. Along those same lines, Barbie is never out of money, food, or friends, and she is always happy, drives the best car, and lives in the best house in the best neighborhood. This makes most girls, me included, mostly jealous.

But, let’s talk about how all of these traits actually can make Barbie a positive influence on girls today, especially me! Barbie is so kind to everyone. She is even nice to people who are mean to her, like Raquelle, who is always nasty to her. Barbie always makes good choices! She can do anything! Some of the best jobs that Barbie has had include being a veterinarian, a teacher, and an airline pilot. She helps animals, kids, and helps keep people safe while traveling. Barbie even takes care of her sisters and friends. She has even run for president a couple of times! Her character, I believe, is actually really good. She is generous, ambitious, smart, and a strong leader.

barbie violin

I think Barbie is actually a great female role model for girls, because I don’t just see a pretty girl wearing lots of make-up, high heels and a really fancy dress. I see a strong, brave girl. I see a girl who isn’t afraid to work or get her hands dirty if she needs to. I see a veterinarian helping animals. I see a doctor helping people to feel better and stay well. I even see a strong woman running for president of the United States of America! Barbie is one of the most positive role models available to girls today. She is beautiful, and not just on the outside.

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Snow Day!

You wake up and rush to the window, quivering with excitement. There was a 95% chance of snow when you went to bed last night, and big fat flakes are still falling past your eyes.

You rush downstairs and ask, “Is-there-school-today-I hope-there-isn’t-school-because-it-is-snowing!”

You’re thrilled when your mother answers, “No school today, the county just called. It’s a snow day!”

How to get a snow day

  • Do the snow dance. Be creative, do it your own way.
  • Flush an ice cube down the toilet.
  • Wear your pajamas inside out and backwards.
  • Eat some ice cream, freeze the spoon, and put the spoon under your pillow.


Things to do on a snow day

  • Run around your neighborhood and sled down all the hills.
  • If you have a neighbor who has a steep hill, ask them if you can sled on it. (Works even better if they are nice and older).
  • If you have an older sibling, wait until they get up and go outside, get a friend and make a legion of snow balls and a huge snow igloo; be prepared, siblings fight back fast. Pelt them until they run back inside to tattle, now quick, run to your friend’s house and hide out there until the sibling/parent rage is over.
  • Warm up inside with some hot cocoa and snacks.

 snowball fight

How to make money

After you finish your cocoa and snack, get off your butt, bundle up again, and go from door to door asking people if you can shovel their driveways. (If there is like 8 inches of hard packed snow, it may not be the best idea, but if there’s 2 inches of a kind of powdery snow it’s like white gold!). Ask the older nice people who can’t get up to shovel. Earlier this winter, my friend and I made $35.00 each and we only had to shovel 5 driveways! It was great...I still have money left over.

Fun sledding farther away

If the snow is starting to die down you can ask your parents to take you to a nearby sledding hill. If they refuse because, “Oh we don’t have 4 wheel drive. It could be dangerous,” ask them to call a friend who does have 4 wheel drive to take you. If they say it’s rude to invite yourself, call, hint a little, and hope they invite you. Ask your mom or dad to offer the other parent that if they take us sledding, then you and your friend can play at your house afterwards. (This should work because both parents think that they’re getting a good deal).

We haven’t had much snow yet this winter, but I’m still hoping! If we do get a good snow, now you know what to do!

Robert Calvert is a 6th grader who lives in Stafford County with his family. In case you couldn't tell, he LOVES snow days!

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Top 5 Reasons Why Parents Need to Be OK with Minecraft

Hello, my name is Katie Schroeder, also known as the daughter of Kristen Schroeder (We’re All a Little Mad Here). Since I’m a big part of her life, to say the least she encouraged me to write a blog post for Fresh Voices. So let’s get started...

Today, I want to tell you tales of a place made of blocks, a place where anything is possible. You know it, you heard it, it annoys your parents, yup, I am talking about Minecraft. Why did I choose Minecraft as my subject for this blog post? Because (number 1) I’m a freaking genius when it comes to Minecraft (I can even hack into it) and (2) because I want to help out the poor kids whose parents won’t let them play it, and to hopefully make those parents be more reasonable about this great game.

So here we have the ...



Have you ever struggled to find the perfect curriculum to teach your kids or to make learning fun? Well, I went through the same problem with my mom until we started to use Minecraft as part of my homeschool. You might be thinking, ‘’how can a game teach my kid(s)?’’ Well, it’s quite easy! I use this curriculum called Do-It-Your-Self Curriculum Fun- Schooling with Minecraft.

minecraft curriculum

Also, you can make your own curriculum work with Minecraft. Anyway, in my curriculum it has drawing, and building. It also has challenges like ‘’Build a fort with only 200 blocks’’ or ‘’Make a castle only out of wool’’ then there is history. For example, if you are reading about the Romans, then you can make a building in Minecraft from Roman history, such as the Colosseum or a Roman Amphitheatre.

Now time for...


If you have been reading my mom’s posts then you should know that (1) I am her youngest child, (2) I have autism, OCD, dyslexia, ADHD, and some more conditions that I don’t even know the names for. I get really angry very quickly and how I deal with it is: Minecraft. I know a girl who has autism just like I do and she uses Minecraft to calm her down.

Now it’s time for REASON 3:

People normally have 3-10 fears. Me, I have 2 (I am totally not bragging). Fear number one is elevators, and fear number two is STORMS. I don’t know why, but I just HATE storms!! They scare me so much and if I see a tiny gray cloud in the sky I start to cry. If I hear a noise in the summer that sounds like thunder, I run to my basement. I can’t even look at a picture of a storm without getting freaked out! If there is a storm coming, all I can do is cry and hide... but since I have started to play Minecraft, I can do semi OK during storms. You see, Minecraft is so fun and interesting, that when I play it, I’m thinking, ‘’Oh, I’m just going to play for a few minutes.’’ HAHAHAHAHA -- that’s all I say when people say I’m just going to play for a few minutes... instead of a few minutes, it’s a few hours. Like, I have played Minecraft before during a storm and I thought I only played for a few minutes, but I actually played for three hours and then the storm was over! It was a win- win.

minecraft image

Reason 4:

I don’t like people. When I see people I get scared. This, folks, is what we call these days, shy. Maybe your kid(s) is (are) shy, too, and they don’t like to talk face-to-face with people. Well, let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time, in a house long, long ago (more like a few years ago), there was a young girl named Katie. She did not like people but she loved to play Minecraft. One day, her friend moved away, but they wanted to keep in touch and play Minecraft together. It seemed like the end, but her friend told her about SERVERS. And they played together and lived hopefully happily ever after!.

If your kid(s) only stays inside and plays videogames (or Minecraft) then make them do servers. Once I started to use servers I made friends all over the world! For example: I have a really good friend who lives in Norway who tries to talk in her language to me and I just stare at her like *what* and I have a friend in Australia who tells me all the time about his pet dingo. Be careful, because some servers might be more for grown-ups, and some are even inappropriate, but most are good and fun and safe. Here is a picture of my two friends and me on a Disney server:

minecraft image2

And last but, of course, not least:


Yes, there are a lot of good reasons to not let your kid play Minecraft, but have you ever thought of just letting your kid(s) try it? Minecraft is a teaching game in disguise. One time my mom was teaching me art and she was just about to talk about how colors were made but for some reason I already knew how they were made. ‘’ Mom,’’ I said, ‘’ I already know. Most colors are made from crushed up flowers or rocks.’’ She stared at me like, ‘’How do you know that?’’ and I said, ‘’Minecraft’’.

And Minecraft doesn’t have to be just about learning; it’s fun to let your kid(s) build what she/he wants. You will be shocked about what they learn about or make! Also, definitely don’t try to find another game like Minecraft because you won’t find one that is better. Minecraft is not just for boys, either. Come on, girls! We don’t always have to play with dolls and watch guys play Minecraft. And NO ONE should say that Minecraft is girly or boyish! It’s for every one...

minecraft image3

Webmaster's note: My son is a computer science student at Christopher Newport University. When he took AP Computer Science in high school, much of what he learned made complete sense to him because of what he had learned playing Minecraft! It's not just a game. It's teaching logic and coding as well!

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Sofie’s Scoop: Harry’s Alehouse

Just after the first snow of the New Year, my family decided to go to Harry’s. This new alehouse is located in West Fredericksburg, in Harrison Crossing. We were seated in a side booth as soon as we walked in the door, but no one came to take our order for a while. By the time someone came to ask what we wanted to drink, we had already picked what we were going to eat. The waitress apologized that no one had come to serve us. She brought our drinks and took our orders.

I ordered the grilled salmon BLT, Jack, my little brother, ordered the black bean burger, and Luke, my youngest brother, ordered the Steady Eddie grilled cheese. They all came with a side of home fries. The waitress was very nice to us, and she referred to us as “sir” and “ma’am”. The grilled salmon BLT is made with grilled salmon, apple wood bacon, fried Granny Smith apple slices, lettuce, tomato, and lemon aioli on herbed focaccia bread. The Steady Eddie is fried green tomatoes, applewood bacon, and melted pimento cheese on toasted rye bread. The black bean burger is a black bean burger with Granny Smith apple jicama slaw.

While we waited for our food, I read the restaurant’s “story” on the back of the table tent menu. The story is about a dog named Harry who saw the need for a restaurant in Harrison Crossing and gathered a group of people to build a family-friendly restaurant. Luke thought it was hilarious. He also thought the kids’ menu was hilarious because they named the options “I don’t know,” “I don’t care,” “I’m not hungry,” and “I don’t want that.”

My BLT was delicious. The salmon was grilled perfectly. I thought the apple would taste weird in the sandwich, but it added a flavorful sour taste. The fries were also very good. You could taste that they were hand cut, not slimy frozen garbage.

Grilled salmon BLTGrilled Salmon BLT

Jack loved his black bean burger and fries as well.

Black bean burgerBlack bean burger

Luke, on the other hand, didn’t like his sandwich at all. He thought that there was too much pimento cheese and he didn’t like the texture. He also said that it was too sour and salty. I tried it and thought it tasted fine, but I agreed that the fried green tomato was a little sour and salty.

Steady Eddie grilled cheeseSteady Eddie grilled cheese

Of course the three of us were not there alone! My dad ordered a cup of beer cheese soup, a soup with pale ale with cheddar cheese, bell peppers, onions, and German sausage, but it never came. We brushed it off because it was just something he wanted to try. We assumed they just forgot about it and didn’t put it on the check, but it was. My dad told the waitress and she apologized and took it off the check.

I really liked Harry’s Alehouse. The food was great. The service was lacking that day, but other reviews that I checked said it was usually good. We will be back a second time. If you’re looking for a family-friendly restaurant in Fredericksburg, you should try Harry’s Alehouse.

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Best Tips for Dealing with Bullies

Hi! My name is Aidan Caffrey. I am 8 years old and a 3rd grader at Salem Elementary School. Believe it or not, I’ve been dealing with bullies for almost four years now! That’s what I’m going to talk about today. I am going to give you tips for how to overcome bullying. I learned some of these things the past few years and I feel a lot better now. Let’s get started!

1) Talk to a Teacher: Do you have a guidance counselor? If you are being bullied, they are the best person to talk to! A guidance counselor may help you in a way you never thought of. For example, in first grade, a classmate was bothering me non-stop and I finally met with my counselor, who gave me great advice and had a meeting with the two of us. Now that same bully is actually my friend. Also, if you don’t want to talk to your counselor, you can talk to a teacher as well. Sometimes, teachers act just like counselors.

2) The Shield and The Sponge: A sponge soaks up water. In the case of bullies, if you act like a sponge, you let rude comments get inside you. Instead, you have to be more like a shield. A shield blocks mean comments. Try to be like the superhero I came up with, Captain Comment-Blocker! He wears a metal suit that blocks a bully’s mean comments. You can pretend you are Captain Comment-Blocker by letting the bully’s words bounce off you.

3) Come Back with Comedy: Have you ever heard of a comedian? If you haven’t, it’s somebody that makes jokes and puns. If you’re getting bullied, you can be a “comedian” by talking back in a nice way. What I mean is you can respond to what the bully said in a funny way, or what I like to call a “pun-back.” For instance, when somebody calls me small, I respond with, “Well, nobody’s ever used a shrink gun on me!” Comedy is a funny way of helping you stand up for yourself.

4) Stand up to Grown Ups: Sometimes even adults, like teachers or babysitters, can be mean. A lot of people I know are too afraid to stand up to adults just because they are in charge of kids. But kids shouldn’t be afraid to stand up to adults as long as it’s in a respectful way. For example, if you’re drawing a picture in class and your teacher comes over and says “Wow, that’s really good” in a sarcastic way, you should respond with confidence and say, “Actually, I think my artwork is very good, thank you.” If this happens, don’t worry. Just stand up for yourself like I did.

5) Courage Crazy: Do you remember the lion from The Wizard of Oz? He wants courage, but he’s too scared of everything. If you are being bullied but you are too afraid to stand up for yourself, you don’t need a wizard to be courageous. Don’t listen to the bully. Stand up for yourself. One time, a bully said, “Move out of my way, small guy!” Instead of being a coward, I said, “Newsflash! I’m not a small guy,” and I wasn’t scared. Bravery is inside you.

So if you’re being bullied, try out my tips. I can almost guarantee they will help. It’s all up to you. Good luck!


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