When you begin dating … avoid pairing off exclusively with one partner,” youth are counseled in For the Strength of Youth. Young women in the Murray (Utah) Little Cottonwood 12th Ward came up with an awesome way to encourage this standard.
The Laurels invited the entire priests quorum of their ward to a girl-ask-guy dance. Rather than spending the entire dance with just one guy, the girls decided it would be a lot more fun to get to know all the young men. So they “switched” dates for the dinner and dancing portion of the evening (based on names drawn out of a hat); then for photos each girl had her picture taken with all of the guys at the same time! To top the night off, the boys gave each of the girls roses.
“In working out our salvation, adversity will provide part of the perspiration. Again and again for you and me, experience after experience, we will have cause to ponder upon and rejoice in the great Atonement, [which] can bring us a brightness of hope, even amid our losses, crosses, sorrows, and disappointments.
“I praise Jesus for enduring what He endured and for descending below all things in order to comprehend all things” (Neal A. Maxwell, 29 Aug. 1999, missionary satellite broadcast).
Recent studies show that your teenage brain is still “growing,” forging connections between neurons that affect physical, mental, and emotional abilities.
“Adolescence is a time of tumultuous change in the brain,” says Jay Giedd, a child psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. “Teenagers are choosing what their brains are going to be good at—learning right from wrong, responsibility or impulsiveness, thinking or video games.”
Teens who exercise their brains by learning to control their thoughts and impulses and understand abstract concepts are laying the neural foundations that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
“This argues for doing a lot of things as a teenager,” says Giedd. “You are hard-wiring your brain in adolescence. Do you want to hard-wire it for [skills and learning]—or for lying on the couch in front of the television?”
This hard-wiring also provides yet another reason for teens not to use drugs or alcohol: they could permanently alter the balance of chemicals in your brain (see U.S. News and World Report, 9 Aug. 1999, 44).
It’s said that membership in the Church fosters great leadership skills, and teenagers are proving it. All across North America, LDS youth are being chosen as leaders of their schools, even though they are by far in the minority.
Kari Larsen, April Pollard, and Raymond Craven of the Booneville (Mississippi) Ward are examples. In an area where there are few Church members, it was a big deal for three LDS students to be graduating together from Thrasher High School. But what was more remarkable was that Kari was senior class president and valedictorian; April was senior class secretary and salutatorian; and Raymond was voted Most Popular, Most Dependable, Class Favorite, and Mr. Thrasher High School, and received 11 awards at the school’s athletic banquet. These three also captured three of the four positions in the school’s hall of fame.
Or how about Lindsay Anderson, Staci Clark, and Mikale Clark of the Naperville (Illinois) Third Ward? Although there are only about 20 LDS students in a student body of 2,000 at Neuqua Valley High School, Lindsay serves as student body president, Staci is senior class president, and Mikale is freshman vice-president.
Then there’s Kevin and Keith Stuart (pictured above) of the McMinnville (Tennessee) Ward. With only a handful of LDS students in their school of 2,000, these twins became co-valedictorians when their top GPAs tied exactly at 4.8759.
And at Rocklin High School, LDS teens serve as student body president, senior president, junior president, and sophomore president, even though LDS youth make up only 4 percent of the student body. Russell Andrews, Gabe Shumway, Chris Jones, and Lindsey Pettey are members of the Rocklin California Stake.
Need some exciting new ideas for service projects? Check out what these youth groups have done.
Albany Georgia Stake: helped Habitat for Humanity build homes for needy families by clearing debris from 10 vacant lots.
El Paso Texas Stake: beautified their community by fulfilling the city’s request to paint giant, colorful murals over graffiti-covered walls.
Chino California Stake: helped protect the environment by planting 100 city-bought trees along a busy thoroughfare and in a park.
Moses Lake Washington Stake: aided survivors of Hurricane Mitch by gathering 463 boxes of clothing, shoes, blankets, tarps, and first aid supplies to send to Honduras. The youth involved schools, service organizations, and another church in the effort.
St. Robert Missouri Stake: stuffed 350 Christmas stockings with goodies and toys and distributed them to hospitalized children.
Hingham Massachusetts Stake: put on a carnival for homeless families.
Stevensville Montana Stake; young women of the Pine (Arizona) Ward, Bartlesville (Oklahoma) Second Ward, and Kennewick (Washington) East Stake; and young men of the Ashland (Kentucky) Ward and Crosswinds 1st (Spanish Fork, Utah) Ward: made personal hygiene kits and quilts for Kosovo victims who lost their homes.