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Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.


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revcecilia@msn.com.">
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Must I spend a friendless summer?

By CECILIA A. TUCKER
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 3, 2002

IT! (Private thoughts of the Indomitable Teen) is written by Cecilia Tucker under the editorial guidance of a panel of teenagers (in exchange for pizza and volunteer hours). Tucker is a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Counseling Center for New Direction in Seminole. Comments are welcome. You may write c/o: IT!, Xpress, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail Floridian@sptimes.com. If you are interested in being on the teen editorial panel, please contact Cecilia Tucker at revcecilia@msn.com.

* * *

Summer seems to be getting shorter every year. I look forward to it getting here so I can have a break from school, homework and even some of the people I spend my days with during the school year. But when it finally arrives, I say goodbye to my teachers (only the ones I like), I walk out the door for summer break, and something happens inside of me.

All my friends seem to have the same ideas for summer. We even talk about all the stuff we'll do. Every year we commit to stay in touch. The first week or so I am real pumped about all the free time I will be having. Even though I may be working, it will not take up my entire summer. I get to sleep a little later, stay out longer and make decisions about my day without having too many demands put on me, like homework and tests. Each summer, I look forward to having time with my friends and just doing dumb stuff with them.

Then something seems to happen. Friends seem to have schedules that conflict with those of other friends; it becomes extremely difficult to connect with people the way I'd like. Making plans become almost impossible. Early during the summer, I become very frustrated. Instead of being out having fun, I find myself searching for people simply to hang out with. When I finally connect with someone and we attempt to make plans, it seems things get canceled because of work schedules or out-of-town plans.

The summer seems to slip away from us, and by July 4 I know I have to get on the ball and make something happen. It starts to hit me that I have been out of school now for one month, and I am not happy with what I have done or, better stated, not done. I always figure out a way to see the fireworks with friends, and this seems to be the time we planned to meet no matter what. We have fun at the fireworks, then we make plans for the next week. We all seem to have good intentions, but something always seems to get in the way of following through. Night after night we connect online, trying to hook up. As the summer passes, it seems we have a few times that work out but a lot of times that don't.

Then, before I know it, it is time to go back to school again. Where did the summer go? Where did all those fun times we were supposed to have go? Where were all those friends I planned to hang out with over summer? How did summer vacation come to an end without me getting what I had hoped for from it? I always have this notion that I am the only one who feels this way: I think everyone must have had more fun than I did over the summer! I just know all my classmates couldn't have been as bored as I was, could they?

I am always a little nervous when I return to school. I am afraid I will learn I was just left out or that everyone had a great summer except me. When I do get back to school, I hear some stories about what people have done, but when I sit back and listen, what I hear always amazes me. My friends were out of town, working, on vacation or at home, like me. Hum! Is this the way it is -- out of sight, out of mind, too busy to make plans unless we see each other every day at school?

I don't want my life to pass me by like my summers. What can I do to be more in charge of my social life? I need a life over the summer, and so does everyone else my age!

revcecilia@msn.com.">

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