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Teen Kids News (Episode 1428)

22 minutes

(Describer) In computer animation, different news scenes in rectangles move fast around a turning globe.

(Describer) In front of a blue background with a triangle and circle, title: Teen Kids News. A girl sits at a desk with monitors behind her.

Welcome to "Teen Kids News." I'm Veronique. Here's our top story for this week.

(Describer) The Teen Kids News logo is on curved screens that form a turning cylinder. Passing around it, title: Top Story.

Competition--in sports, it gets our adrenaline flowing. In class, competition helps keep us on our toes. But as Amelia reports, too much competition isn't good. Our generation is possibly the most competitive ever. For many, it seems like we're in competition from birth. In elementary school, it was about who could run the fastest, jump the farthest, play basketball. Then when I grew up, it became about grades, getting good grades, and socializing-- you know, have the most friends amongst your peers. What are some things you've faced competition over?

(Describer) A boy smiles and shakes his head. With someone else..

Sorry. Going back as far as possible, what are things you've competed over? I don't know. Group projects in class, maybe. Trying to be the first to finish a race. I did cross country in the spring. Or get somewhere up there, maybe not first. But trying your hardest. I feel like, as an actor, every time I have to audition for a role I really want, I face competition, especially in this business where everyone wants to be the best. Mainly sports, such as wrestling or lacrosse. From getting into pre-nursery school to getting into college, we seem to always be competing.

(Describer) In a football game, someone runs with the ball.

[crowd cheering] Competition is in our nature.

The scientist Charles Darwin wrote that competition is part of the evolutionary process of living things. That led Herbert Spencer to coin the famous phrase, "Survival of the fittest." Fortunately, we don't compete with hungry animals or hostile neighbors like our ancestors had to to survive. But competition is still part of modern-day life. And while striving for a competitive edge can improve performance, being too competitive is bad. To discuss this, we're joined by Dr. Roni Cohen-Sandler. Welcome. Nice to be here. Don't we get ahead by trying to do our best? It's great to be motivated, which inspires us to set goals we can achieve. But we can't think we'll be the best in everything or be the best all the time, because that's impossible. Be the best you can be in that moment. How can we tell if we're being too competitive? If you find you're getting very upset about small disappointments, or if you find you're becoming so competitive that you're seeing friends and classmates as rivals, that can be a problem. Also, if you find you're not enjoying your achievements, that everything feels like it's never enough, then soon, you'll feel like you're not enough. For some of us, competition doesn't come from ourselves, but from our parents. I'm not saying my parents do that. But for parents who put pressure on kids to excel, how can we--I mean "they" handle that? I think that's the hardest thing teens face, is when their parents put pressure on them. It's important to talk to your parents about it and tell them how that pressure is affecting you. Yes, they want you to be successful, but also to be healthy and happy. If you can't talk to your parents, find an adult you can confide in. Perhaps they can help you find a solution. What about tutors giving us an edge in class and applying for college? If you need the help in class to learn the material or to keep up, then fine, okay. But if you just want an edge for college, you'd be better off spending your time doing something that you really enjoy-- a hobby you love, resting, or spending time with friends. To be healthy, it's important to have a balanced life. That helps you keep a good perspective. Any final advice? I think it's really important to set your own standards, not compare yourselves to other people. You'll never be the best at everything. You should be thinking about being the best you. Great. Thank you so much, Doctor. Thanks for having me. A lot of research shows that the people getting ahead in this world aren't always the most competitive. The most successful people are team players who work well with others. For "Teen Kids News," I'm Amelia. In theater, there's a saying-- "The show must go on." See what it takes to create that show when "Teen Kids News" returns. We'll be right back.

(Describer) Veronique:

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with schoolwork? Christin's here to help with "Make the Grade."

(Describer) At a desk...

When it comes to writing an essay or term paper, do you find the hardest part is the first sentence?

(Describer) She stares at a blank page on her laptop. She leans her head on her hand, then leans back in her chair, then sits up again.

[cuckoo clock ticking]

(Describer) She puts her head down.

(Describer) Sitting back up...

Too many of us try to come up with the perfect opening sentence, and if it doesn't come, we get discouraged. That only makes things harder. That's why you need to know about freewriting. Here's how it works-- set aside a period of time, say, 10 minutes. Write your topic on the top of the page. Then let yourself go. Write whatever comes to mind. Don't worry about spelling or grammar. Don't pause to reread what you've done. That leads to editing while writing. That can stifle your creativity.

(Describer) The timer on her phone reaches zero.


Okay, time's up. Now read through it. While won't be perfect, you'll be surprised at how freewriting enabled you to come up with useful ideas, words, and phrases. Now that you've got a good start, that first sentence shouldn't be so daunting. I'm Christin here to help you "Make the Grade."

(Veronique) This report is brought to you be the Concordia Conservatory.

(Describer) Veronique:

Long before the movie "High School Musical," Hollywood turned out films about kids putting on musicals. Some of the most famous were from the 1930s and '40s, starring Mickey Rooney.

(Describer) In one of them..

I've got an idea! Our folks think we're babes in arms, huh? We'll show 'em whether we're babes in arms. I'm gonna write a show for us and put it on here in Seaport!

(Katie) With the help of his friends, he'd write, rehearse, and perform the show almost overnight.

(Describer) Katie:

But that required movie magic. In the real world, creating a musical takes more time and work.

(Describer) In a school...

Everybody, tonight is dress rehearsal. Whoo-hoo, we made it! We have our guitarist here with us, so let's start.

(Describer) People play piano and guitars while kids sing.

[students singing]

(Katie) This is the final rehearsal for "The Monster of Guitaristan," an original musical written for the Concordia Conservatory. The story is that there's a town called Guitaristan. Everyone plays guitar. Everyone likes guitar. That's all they listen to.

(all) ♪ Another beautiful day ♪

♪ In Guitaristan... ♪

They're happy, but a monster comes.

(Describer) Audry Hamilton:

This monster smells really bad. So bad that he can't do what monsters are supposed to do.

(Describer) Rami Vamos:

He can't scare anyone. He tries, but they're too disgusted by his smell. Fortunately for the monster, he finds someone to frighten, but only because the victim can't smell. He meets a little boy who has nose blindness, or, you know, a cold permanently. He's able to scare him, but he doesn't feel good about it.

(Katie) As it turns out, the boy has bigger problems-- he's being bullied at school. On one hand, we have a student who's being bullied and on the other, a monster who doesn't want to scare. They make friends and try to help each other through these problems. The show ends up being an anti-bullying story. Now you know the storyline, but this report focuses on writing a musical. We'll report on that when "Teen Kids News" returns. We'll be right back.

(Describer) Spinning with the triangle and circle, title: Teen Kids News. Watched by Audry Hamilton, the director and choreographer, the cast of the musical rehearses.

[all singing]

(Describer) Katie:

(Katie) We're continuing our report on the making of the musical "The Monster of Guitaristan." Put your arms on them, like, "I'm the tough guy."

(Katie) Before rehearsal can begin, a lot of work has to be done. Step one is coming up with the idea.

(Describer) Title: Making a Musical. Step 1 – The Idea! Head Composer Rami Vamos:

[man scatting]

The idea came about accidentally. I was telling a story to my two sons, who are six and three, putting them to bed at night. And they liked it.

♪ It's another beautiful day in Guitaris... ♪

(Katie) A common second step is finding a partner. That's called collaborating.

(Describer) Title: Step 2 – Collaborating. Rami on guitar works with the piano player.

[Rami scatting]

In this case, Rami reached out to Matt Van Brink. He teaches songwriting and composition at Concordia.

[both scatting]

So when Rami had this idea and he brought it to me,

(Describer) Matt:

it was the perfect opportunity to do something together. So I loved the idea. We've definitely batted ideas back and forth, but the idea itself of a monster in the land of guitars was awesome.

(Katie) Step three is finding a backer to cover expenses and provide support, as well as the location for the musical.

(Describer) Rami arrives for a meeting with Matt and a woman.

Hey. Hi, how are you? Good. Sorry I'm late. So Rami and I took the idea to Kathleen Suss, the executive director of Concordia Conservatory. She loved the idea and wanted it on her Musical Adventures for Children series. Tell me a little about how the concept will come together with the guitar town and then how you're really going to write the book, start on the music, and the collaboration between you two.

(Katie) That brings us to the real hard work-- composing the music and writing song lyrics and dialogue.

(Describer) The sheet music shows the musical notes and lyrics for the song Rami works on.

(Rami) ♪ I couldn't run fast I ran lazily ♪

♪ When I called for the ball it sounded nasally ♪

♪ When I called for the ball it sounded nasally ♪

(Rami) Matt and I have done many shows. Sometimes one of us writes and the other does the music or vice versa or we collaborate.

(Describer) Matt:

(Matt) Rami wrote the script and the music and the first version of the lyrics. Then I did a draft, and it went back and forth.

(Describer) Matt plays piano and makes changes to the music on a computer.

(Katie) With the script, music, and lyrics roughed out, Rami and Matt worked together to polish the production.

♪ Bah-doom, bah-doom-doom. ♪

(Katie) Finally, it was time to start rehearsing.

(Describer) The sheet music is shown below the cast performing.

♪ We're at the land of guitar, the sun is shining bright ♪

♪ A multitude of smiling ♪

♪ A populist delight... ♪

(Audry) This is your wife, this is your daughter!

(Describer) Some kids play guitar with Rami and Matt while Audry directs the cast.

[kids continue singing]

(Matt) At Concordia Conservatory, we write a lot of music for our students, whether they're very young-- aged seven-- or more established older students, like the ages you'll see in this show. They're excited about having something new written for them. The idea of performing something for the first time gets them excited. It's a great musical. It's very catchy. I find myself singing, "You Gotta Get Clean" and "Guitar Stand." I love this play. It's for younger kids, mostly. But if older kids came, they would understand and could relate to it. I think the message is you shouldn't ostracize anybody because everybody can have a weakness. Everyone's different, and even though some people are more different than others, everyone has their gifts and talents. "The Monster of Guitaristan" is not just a great musical, it's got a great message. For "Teen Kids News," I'm Katie.

(boy) This report is brought to you by Allstate.

(Describer) Title: Good Starts Young.

(announcer) The Allstate Foundation's Good Starts Young initiative, empowering America's youth to step up as leaders. Christian Burgos lost his sister to gun violence and now rallies for peace. On October 19th, 2014, I lost my best friend. We must come together, despite race or religion, to unite as one. Too many adults think kids are problems versus problem solvers. We to think differently because one person could change the world.

(announcer) For more, go to

(Describer) A viewer email says, “Teen Kids News is a fun show and I like it!” Signed Emily.

You'll be surprised to learn which state has a flag that celebrates Mother Nature. I'll have the answer next, on "Teen Kids News."

(Describer) Veronique:

Every state has one, but why do they look the way they do? Here's Eric with "Flag Facts."

(Describer) Different flags flash by, with various colors and seals. A couple dozen are shown together, then appear in the word “flag”. Title: Flag Facts. It’s on a flag.

When you hear the name New Jersey, highways, the Jersey Shore, and rock 'n' rollers come to mind. But despite its small size and large population, New Jersey is actually rooted in agriculture. Thousands of acres of farmland and forest cover the state. In fact, early European settlers came to New Jersey because of its fertile soil. Horse farms, dairy farms, and agriculture fueled the engines of New Jersey's growth.

(Describer) Randy Howe:

The New Jersey flag is unique because it emphasizes nature. New Jersey gets a bad rap, but there's a reason it's known as the Garden State. The English used it as their garden in the New World. They would plant whatever they wanted to grow there.

(Eric) New Jersey's flag pays tribute to its agricultural history. First, there's the horse, the official state animal. Beneath that is the state seal with three plows. The Goddess of Agriculture stands to the right, holding a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables. The goddess Liberty holds a staff topped with a cap, a symbol of freedom from the French Revolution. Blue images on a field of gold represent the state's first European settlers, the Dutch. While stationed at Jockey Hollow during the American Revolution, George Washington chose blue and gold for his troops' uniforms. Today, that New Jersey site is recognized as our country's first national historic park.

(Randy) The flag really represents all that is good about New Jersey. It's not necessarily unique as it is an appropriate image for the state. And it proudly displays an appropriate motto, "Liberty and Prosperity." With "Flag Facts," I'm Eric.

(Describer) A courthouse with tall columns is shown. A cartoon judge in a white wig waves a gavel. On the cover of a book, title: Weird, Wild Wacky Laws. Emily:


Let's say you're walking your elephant, and you want to go into a store, say for an ice cream. What do you do with Dumbo? If you're in Florida, you're in luck. Their law lets you tie your elephant to a parking meter. You must put money in the meter, or you'll get a ticket. Good thing to remember. And if you don't, your elephant probably will.

(Describer) Luke:

If you have a tough time falling asleep, here's a simple trick to try-- sniff some lavender. Lavender is an herb with purple flowers. The scent of lavender can not only help you fall asleep, but sleep restfully. You can find essential oils made from lavender in stores or online.

(Describer) Veronique:

This message is brought to you by the National Road Safety Foundation. Keep your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and mind on driving.

(Describer) In a car...

(boy) We had try-outs today for basketball.

(Describer) Title: You’re about to see a car crash. Four teenagers talk in the car.

I'm so happy I didn't play basketball. Cody's not gonna make the team.

(Describer) A woman drives two children in another.

(Describer) Title: The cause will be distracted driving.

Did you go to the game? It was crazy. No, what happened? We won 34-20. Yeah, it was nuts!

(Describer) The children are in seats behind the woman.

Let's go to the movies Saturday. Jack is having a party. Are you going?

(Describer) With the woman, a little boy wears earbuds and a little girl plays with a toy. Title: Distracted driving causes thousands of deaths a year.


(Describer) In the first car, a phone rings by the driver, who glances down.

[phone ringing]

(boy) Hello?

(Describer) In the other car...

Mom? Yes, honey? Can you open this for me?

(Describer) As she reaches back for it, she drifts in front of the first car.

Mom, watch where you're going!

(Describer) A passenger has the phone.

[tires screeching] Watch out!

[loud thudding]

(Describer) Distracted driving – It’s not just teens.

(little girl) Mom, watch where you're going!

(Describer) In the kitchen...

You may have made packaged mac and cheese, but we'll make it from scratch. It's easy and even more delicious. Stick around. We'll be back in a minute.

(Describer) Veronique:

Students from the Culinary Institute of America share their favorite recipes with "Teen Kids News." Here's one you can make.

(Describer) Fletch:

Today we'll make mac and cheese from scratch. It's pretty simple. Let's start. Here's what you need-- half a box, or eight ounces, of elbow macaroni, one cup of low-fat skim milk, one cup of heavy cream, two cups of low-fat Monterey Jack cheese, and two cups of cheddar.

(Describer) Both shredded.

You can use whatever cheese you like, using these amounts. These are my two favorites. Let's boil the pasta. When the water's boiling, add your pasta...

(Describer) He dumps it into a pot on a stove.

and stir.

(Describer) He stirs with a long wooden spoon.

As the pasta's cooking, let's make our sauce. Over medium heat in a larger pot, add your cup of milk.

(Describer) He pours it from a bowl.

Next is the cream.

(Describer) He pours that from another bowl.

Using a spoon, add in the cheese. Continue to stir so the cheese doesn't stick to the bottom and burn.

(Describer) He adds the Monterey Jack cheese first, stirring with a big metal spoon.

(Describer) He gets the cheddar cheese.

Next the cheddar.

(Describer) Once he gets it all in, he stirs to combine it with the rest of the sauce.

Cook this for about five minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce is done and the pasta's cooked, that's it-- you're ready to go.

(Describer) A little later...

The pasta's been cooking for about seven minutes. I think it's done. Let's drain it.

(Describer) He takes the first pot to the sink and pours everything into a colander.

After draining it, I'm going to throw it back in this pot...

(Describer) He pours it back into the first pot again.

and straight into the sauce.

(Describer) He pours it into the second pot, where the cheese has melted

I'm going to grab the spoon and begin to stir.

(Describer) He stirs with the metal spoon.

Mix the all the pasta with all the cheese. Coat it evenly. Mmm, smells delicious. This is the important part. Season it. I'm using a little salt and pepper just to make sure the cheese is giving me all its flavor.

(Describer) He sprinkles them in with his hand, then he stirs some more.

Time for my favorite part. Let's taste it.

(Describer) He spoons some into a small bowl.

(Describer) Getting a smaller spoon, he eats some.

Mmm! That's good mac and cheese, like when I was a kid, and better than the box. At the Culinary Institute of America, for "Teen Kids News,"

(Describer) He has some more. Veronique:

I'm Fletch. That yummy recipe ends our show. But don't worry, we'll be back next week with "Teen Kids News." See you then.

(Describer) Titles: Director: Alan J Weiss. Copyright Eyewitness Kids News LLC, 2017, all rights reserved. Funding to purchase and make this educational program accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Contact the Department of Education by telephone at 1-800-USA-LEARN, or online at

Funding to purchase and make this educational production accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education:

PH: 1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB:

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Now Playing As: Captioned (English) (change)

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In this episode, Dr. Roni Cohen-Sandler gives advice on motivation and positive ways to handle competition. The crew visits Concordia Conservatory and learns how to write a musical. Other segments include the benefits of freewriting, the history of New Jersey's flag, weird and wacky laws in Florida, and a recipe for mac and cheese. Part of the "Teen Kids News" series.

Media Details

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