Reject Senate Bill 86

By Eduardo Andrade, Editor-in-Chief

While most people reluctantly accept the idea that all “good things must come to an end,” it seems like some members of the Florida legislature are determined to turn this saying into reality.

Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley filed Senate Bill 86 late last Feb. A bill which if signed into law will introduce serious restrictions on the Florida Bright Futures scholarship, which provides either 100% or 75% tuition to public Florida Colleges to students who meet certain criteria. Among other things, the bill would make it such that the scholarship would only apply to students who enroll in certificate or degree programs which “lead directly to employment,” as determined by the Board of Governors and Department of Education.

It is truly astonishing how ripping millions of dollars out of the hands of students who have the audacity to study something which may not appear to be immediately profitable, but let’s consider the pros and cons.

On the one hand, giving the best and brightest students in Florida the freedom to choose to study what they would like without having to worry about the significant burden of tuition while simultaneously encouraging them to keep their talents and intellects in-state to benefit Florida residents and the economy provides clear and obvious good, on the other hand, it sure is fun to crush the hopes and dreams of students whose goals extend beyond making a lot of money.

Make no mistake, if this bill is passed and an there is an increase in STEM or business majors, this is not a success, rather a measure of how many 18-year-old kids were strong armed into getting an education in something they don’t give a crap about in order to take what’s been preached to them is the only possible next step in their lives.

The government needs to take a step back and let students decide on their own what the best educational and career path is for them, and not try to dictate what they can and cannot study and Bill 86 must be rejected.

Posted: March 11

District shouldn’t force teachers back

By Ashante Anderson, Staff Intern

Students are clearly fundamental in the school system, and as such, their safety is a high priority, especially during unprecedented situations. However, they are not the only important piece. What about the lesson constructors and class instructors? What about the safety of the teachers?  

 Teachers’ safety should not be a different story by any means. Unfortunately, legal action had to be taken against those who needed to be reminded of that fact. 

During a press conference on Jan. 7, the Broward Teachers Union announced that it was intending to file a lawsuit against Broward County Public Schools, regarding an announcement made by the district that all district teachers must return back to school to teach students in person. 

A student who has a compromised immune system, whether they have a heart disease, diabetes, asthma or are recovering from cancer, would be at risk if they were forced to go back to school. That’s why they have the choice to stay at home and learn remotely, rather than be robbed of their chance of getting an education or attending in person while anxiously awaiting to leave.

It shouldn’t matter whether it is a student or teacher, parent or principal, health should always come first. 

If every action is supposedly surrounded by the safety of others, why this sudden action against the well-beings of our educators? Students are given a choice, and even so not every student can return to school yet because of certain guidelines put into place for their safety. Students are at home learning, so why risk the teachers when they can teach from home like they did before? 

Teachers should have a choice that works and benefits them, not one that forces them to choose between their job and their lives. Some teachers have gone into retirement or on leave  out of fear. At this writing the 50-member faculty includes five interim subs. It simply isn’t fair and the BTU has the right to pursue any means to protect the teachers of this county. 

At the Jan. 7 press conference, BTU president Anna Fusco said that it isn’t a matter of whether or not teachers want to teach students, because of course they do. 

“They don’t want to not return, but they are legitimately afraid that if they return, they might contract the virus and they are at the highest risk,” Fusco said. 

At the end of this dispute, the two sides had to get a third party, the arbitrator, to make a final decision on the case. The arbitrator ruled in favor of the district, but with certain rules put into place. The arbitrator decided that the principals of the schools are the ones who will make the decision on whether or not their school’s teachers are allowed to stay home. 

The school relayed this information to our teachers on Feb. 2, and English teacher Jennifer Pliske was satisfied with the results, just as I was. 

“I’m happy that there will be accountability and it sounded like the arbitrator’s ruling was that the principals would have to, in writing, explain the operational needs and the choices that they made in terms of which teachers stay home and work remotely and which ones continue to come to school,” Pliske said. “So, I think that it was a positive that it creates more honesty and transparency and it’s obvious to everybody, and it’s transparent as to why the decisions were made as they were made, based on the individual operations of the schools.” 

I support the arbitrator’s ruling; principals and teachers communicating with one another to meet the needs of those who need the most right now from those who have the power to give. 

Every system is different, but every system needs communication, or it cannot function. I do not believe that there was any ill intent in what the district was trying to do and what it was thinking at the time. It was attempting to return to normalcy, like the majority of people want to do more than anything during COVID-19.  This is an understandable and relatable notion. 

However, in this desperate attempt of trying to get students what they believe they need, the district obtained slight tunnel vision, so focused on getting things back to normal rather than seeing that adapting is all we can do at the moment to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable. 

Increased tension, misunderstandings and miscommunication are not getting us anywhere. I hope that after this incident, the district will consult those who are affected before deciding where it should stand.

“Hades” advances roguelike genre


By Matthew Shanbom, Editor-in-Chief

“Hades,” the newest game by developer and publisher Supergiant Games brings a new twist to the roguelike genre by intertwining a rich story inspired by Greek mythology.

For those unfamiliar, a roguelike involves a gameplay loop where the player continually completes the same basic actions in a randomized design.

The game focuses on Zagreus, the son of god of the dead Hades. Zagreus often expresses disdain for his father and wishes to escape his father’s domain and reach the surface.

The core gameplay focuses on these escape attempts which include randomized chambers filled with enemies and rewards including help from Olympians such as Zeus, Artemis and Ares. 

This help known as a boon lasts only one escape attempt and can boost various stats such as attack damage and knockback. Each time the player receives a boon, there is a randomized line of dialogue which, while it does not always pertain to the main story, helped me become more invested in the Olympians as characters, learning more about some than I had in all my years of school.

Another chamber reward is known as darkness, and carries over between escape attempts. Darkness allows the player to purchase permanent upgrades to their character before runs allowing the player to make it farther through the underworld each attempt. This switch from a pure roguelike kept me motivated longer, because progression not only scaled based on improving my skill, but also the base abilities of Zagreus.

After some escape attempts, Zagreus finds out Nyx, whom he believed to be his mother his entire life, was not his mother. Instead, his mother was an Olympian in hiding, Persephone. Zagreus makes it his mission to find his mother on the surface and bring her back to the underworld. This motivation captivated me as each time I failed an attempt, I could talk to characters such as Hades, Nyx and Achilles and find out more about Persephone further deepening the story.

While the original goal may have been to escape, the game is only starting when you escape the underworld for the first time. Each time you escape, the story progresses until the credits eventually roll. The credits came at about 40 hours of gameplay for me but can vary based on player skill and pace. Beyond the main story, there is extra story content to keep the player engaged in the game.

Beyond this extra story content, the game remains fun to play with the newly unlocked pact of punishment which allows players to increase the difficulty level in 15 ways. Additionally, the game encourages speedrunning through a built in timer. The commitment to making a game that stays fun beyond the main story shows and Supergiant games should be proud.

I can’t review “Hades” without acknowledging the excellent soundtrack composed by Darren Korb. I found myself hooked, listening to songs like “In the Blood” and “Good Riddance” on repeat after hearing them for the first time. The entire soundtrack is available on streaming platforms such as Spotify, allowing for easy listening without having to even open the game.

“Hades” perfectly combines gameplay and story to a point where neither feels tedious. My only gripe with the game is that after many escape attempts, you may feel as though certain chambers become repetitive as there is only a limited number of chamber designs.

“Hades” is available on PC, Mac and Nintendo switch for $25.

1776 commission report defends slavery, racism

By Matthew Shanbom, Editor-in-Chief

Just before President Trump left office, the 1776 Commission, created by Trump via executive order, released their report in response to the New York Times’ 1619 project which advocated for American education to focus on the negative side of America’s history.

The document is formatted by showing possibly derogatory actions to America’s value and attempting to prove the 1619 project wrong through weakly created arguments. One such example was when the report addressed slavery, and started to dismiss it by saying “many Americans labor under the illusion that slavery was somehow a uniquely American evil.” To dismiss slavery by saying “oh other countries did it too” is irresponsible and inappropriate for an official government commission report. The report goes on to suggest the Constitution compromises on slavery through the ban of the slave trade in 1808. While this compromise was necessary and important, it is still important to address the dark side of American history such as many Founding Fathers owning slaves.

The main point of the document is to suggest the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are almost perfect documents and should be defended at all points. The document even says “we know that our Declaration is worth preserving, our Constitution worth defending.” While I love the country, I do not think these documents are perfect and should be above all criticisms. Overt nationalism hurts nations as the people who form the backbone become blind to its issues. It is important to criticize our government for its issues then praise its good actions. Neither the Constitution, nor our government, are perfect and that should be acknowledged by all true Americans.

The report can be found here.

Posted: Jan. 26

Put no trust in Google

By Matthew Shanbom, Editor-in-Chief

On Oct. 20, the justice department announced an antitrust lawsuit against Google for its search property. This lawsuit is very warranted in my opinion because of the dominance google search plays. Google has even become a synonym for searching something online even when other search engines can do better than Google.

Tech antitrust hearings have been ongoing in the House and Senate throughout the summer as lawmakers have seeked to determine whether Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft or Apple hold any monopolies. Even though Facebook controls Facebook and Instagram, I don’t believe they hold a monopoly due to the prominence of Twitter and Tik Tok as competitors. Amazon however is approaching monopoly status due to its vertical and horizontal integrations of its shipping process. For some goods on Amazon, they control the production, marketplace and shipping. While other competitors such as Walmart have tried to mount a competition against Amazon, none have been successful leading me to believe Amazon too is approaching monopoly status. There is also one part of Amazon’s business that not many people know about that is approaching monopoly status, Amazon Web Services. It’s only real competitor is Microsoft Azure, but AWS is consistently taking a lead in market share. Since Microsoft and Apple are both in similar markets of producing computers and operating systems, neither are a monopoly at this point. Even the iPhone is not a monopoly Apple holds.

While search was the first priority to sue for, Google still holds a couple other monopolies in my opinion. The first is for Video on Demand viewing on Youtube. There is no real competitor to the experience and ease that Google offers as a part of Youtube. Even though Vimeo and Twitch seek to compete in that market, neither come close for VOD viewing. The second monopoly is how google makes most of its money, advertising. Due to the dominance Google has in search, it collects personalized data on each user to tailor advertising and allow them to charge more to advertisers. The biggest competitor is most likely Facebook advertising but is much less prominent than Google.

While the search lawsuit was a great start, there needs to be a push to break up big tech with more lawsuits to come. Google and other tech companies need to be recognized for what they are, monopolies.

Posted: Nov. 4

Beanpicker picks quotes not SGA

By Matthew Shanbom, Editor-in-Chief

Whether your senior quote is appropriate should be left to administration and yearbook not senior class officers. It is the yearbook staff who worked hard to get senior quotes in the yearbook, it is the yearbook staff who has to collect all of the quotes and it is the yearbook staff who has to assemble all the quotes and photos into a coherent page design.

As the Editor-in-Chief of a publication myself, I know the work goes into producing content and making it look good. From personally witnessing the yearbook staff work, I know they are dedicated and put in lots of work to make this happen for the seniors. Allowing the class officers to be a part of the quote screening process without putting in the work to guarantee that seniors will be able to have quotes is ridiculous. These class officers are newly elected for some of them meaning they were not even officers when the decision to have senior quotes was made. Why should one club at the school, who happens to be elected by the entire school, have free reign over areas outside of their jurisdiction. I don’t expect Key Club to start running JROTC and National Honor Society to start running band. There should be a clear separation between the responsibilities of different organizations at the school.

It’s time for the yearbook to take a stand and declare itself an independent organization. I can’t fully speak for the yearbook, but I know they are more than capable of completing a state recognized yearbook on their own without the oversight of other organizations. I want to make it clear that this is not me trying to say that the yearbook should not work with other clubs. In fact, the yearbook needs those other clubs to do great things that could be covered in the yearbook. While it makes sense of administration to have oversight of a school sponsored publication such as the Beanpicker Yearbook, SGA and the Class of 2021 should stay in their own lane.

Posted: Oct. 28


Time to turn on cameras

By Eduardo Andrade, Editor-in-Chief

As our first quarter online comes to a close, one thing, above all else, has become painfully obvious. Freshman need to turn on their darn cameras.

For many, turning cameras on can be a difficulty as they must go through the long and arduous task of moving their mouse all of six inches and pressing a button. However, with a month and a half of online schooling under our belt, this shouldn’t be much of an issue.

And though I can understand not wanting to be in the oh-so embarrassing situation of having people know what you look like, and the prospect of having your face on a two inch rectangle in someone else’s computer screen may be especially horrifying for some reason, but it’s time for freshman to take one for the team and flip the switch.

Turning the darn cameras on is just a basic form of decency. It’s the equivalent of dressing appropriately, while not necessary, not doing so is pointless and bizarre.

You may remember, from before the world was imploding, that when people talk to each other in person, neither of them are actively hiding their faces from the other. For some reason this practice has not carried over into online learning.

Freshman year is the time to make first impressions with your teachers, and what better way is there to stand out than being the online face a teacher can recognize. You are already losing so much with online school, don’t willingly give up one of the few aspects that can carry over. By turning on your cameras, you make a small step towards actually connecting with your teachers and classmates and recreating some semblance of what it’s like to be back in the classroom.

So freshmen, please, turn on your gosh darn cameras.

Posted: Oct. 5

School blurs rules for e-learning

By Matthew Shanbom, Editor-in-Chief

Beginning on Sept. 8, all students will be required to turn on their cameras upon request of the teacher and will be required to use a default background effect in Microsoft Teams including blur.

While this article is not going to go into specific events that may have led to this rule being created, it is going to analyze the bases on which these rules were created and whether the rule is warranted.

Let’s start with part one of the rule, “Students are to turn their cameras on at the request of their teachers.” This is supported by district guidelines on e-learning etiquette which confirm that students must use their cameras as directed by teachers.

The second part is the more controversial: “(Students are to) use a Teams background during instruction.”

According to Assistant Principal Lisa Spencer, the reasoning for this part of the rule was to “protect privacy and reduce distractions.”

Student privacy is very important and must be maintained. Students’ Fourth Amendment rights against “unreasonable searches and seizures” are not the same during school as outside it, as shown in New Jersey v. T.L.O (1985).

Based on the ruling of this case, school administration can execute discretion in conducting “warrantless searches of students under their authority.” With that being said, why would privacy suddenly be a main concern for schools?

The main case that protects students’ privacy is Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988) which, while it protected privacy, severely hampered students’ rights to expression in school sponsored activities. This leads me to believe that the main reason for the change is “reduce distraction,” not “protect privacy.”

Notice the word “distraction” was used rather than “disruption.” According to the Google Dictionary, distractions “prevent someone from giving their full attention to someone else” while a disruption causes an “interruption to an event or process.”

Based on my analysis of this, a disruption is more severe than a distraction. The reason why the word disruption is so important comes from Tinker v. Des Moines (1969). The Tinker case states  student expression can be limited when there is a “substantial disruption or material interference with school activities.”

While the Tinker test has been substantially changed by later cases, the language of a substantial disruption continues to be used, including multiple times in the Broward Schools code of conduct: “an incident which results in the temporary suspension of the educational process due to a school evacuation or interference with learning activities/educational process.”

Once this information is taken into account, the next question is whether a student’s background can be considered a form of expression. While schools can regulate dress code based on Pugsley v. Sellmeyer (1923) and Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School District (1968), the later and supreme ruling of Tinker stated that the direct expression in this case is a form of “pure speech” differentiating it from a dress code.

If what a student chooses to wear is a protected form of expression, why is live background during a Teams meeting not a protected form of expression?

Let’s say a student painted their wall behind them with a design that does not violate any school guidelines, which include a ban on gang symbols or hate speech. This distinction is based on Bethel v. Fraser (1986) which states a student’s right to expression can be limited due to lewd or vulgar language. Additionally, in Morse v. Frederick (2007), encouraging the use of drugs, whether explicitly stated or not, can be limited at school sponsored events. In normal circumstances, this design would be legally protected expression by the student who created the painting. Let’s say that this student positions their camera so that the only thing in their background is this painting. Does this painting still count as a form of expression? There is no right or wrong answer to this question, only different people’s opinions. To explore the first possibility that a background is not a form of expression and is rather just a wall. It’s possible, even perhaps likely, that most students have not thought about what appears in their background. This differentiates it from clothing which a student puts on knowingly in the morning. The counter argument is that everything a person does has some thought put into it making it a form of expression. At some point every object in a person’s room was placed there with thought at some point.

If it were determined that yes, a student’s background is a form of expression, the same rules as any other form of student expression would have to be followed.

The main idea of whether the school can require a student to use a Teams background is up to interpretation just as many other free speech cases in schools are. Based on my interpretation of the cases, no, a school can’t require a student to use a Teams background. Just as many other rules at schools, these rules apply solely to students and not teachers. Teachers are only required to turn their cameras on when having direct interaction with students and are never required to use a Teams background like students.

You might disagree with me, and that’s your right. In fact, I want to hear from you. Tornado Times remains a public forum for student expression, and we accept letters to the editor at pbhsnewspaper@gmail.com. You don’t have to “blur” your opinion for our sake.

Posted: Sept. 17

Make the switch to Firefox

By Matthew Shanbom, Editor-in-Chief

If you are reading this article, odds are you are reading this on Google Chrome. Chrome in fact has about 66% of the web browser market share. The next highest browser, Safari, only has about 17% of the market share. This dominance of Chrome started in May 2012 as Chrome overtook Internet Explorer(IE) as the highest used browser. Many people migrated to Chrome for its improved feature set over IE, including a password manager and extensions. Over time though, other browsers have caught up in terms of features mostly going unnoticed. Microsoft Edge recently received a rework that changes it completely to run off Chromium, the open source version of Google Chrome. Meanwhile Firefox, a long time player in the browser field, has slowly been updating their browser to compete with and eventually beat Chrome.

Firefox is owned and developed by Mozilla, a company whose only purpose is to maintain Firefox. Therefore, all of Firefox’s revenue comes from search royalties and donations not selling your data for ads like Google does. Firefox is using this to market itself as the browser for privacy.

While some people may not understand what I am talking about in this section, I will try to do my best to explain this. Any website you visit can set a “cookie” in the web browser which is designed to store data such as accounts or save data for a game. Unfortunately, some websites have leveraged cookies to track users between websites building a profile on all of its users. The amount of data that can be harvested by each website is immense with this website tracking your approximate location, how you got to the website and what articles you read. Firefox’s enhanced tracking protection blocks cross site tracking cookies and fingerprinters. Both of these protections prevent sites from gaining extra analytics on you, further protecting your privacy.

While Firefox blocks cross-site tracking cookies, sometimes you need cookies between sites for certain sites to function correctly. This is where an addon, Firefox’s equivalent to Chrome’s extensions, comes in. Mozilla themselves have made a few extensions including containers. Containers allow a user to separate their accounts and cookies into separate labeled containers such as “work” or “personal.” Cookies can not talk outside of these containers and tabs within a container can easily be opened. Firefox even premade a container for Facebook trackers that automatically blocks most Facebook elements from communicating with other sites.

Firefox has positioned itself as the browser of privacy with no sign of any browser coming close. It is unlikely that Google would create such a feature in Chrome as Google’s main business is advertising which heavily relies on tracking. This entire article also does not go into the fact that Chrome is a heavy user of Random Access Memory (RAM). Firefox has all the features of Chrome along with more and deserves more market share than it has.

Posted: Sept. 15

TikTok might be more important than you think


By Keanu Silva, News Editor

This might just be the last days of the powerful app called TikTok. Yes, the app has been in danger more than once, but this time it seems serious. 

Having a massive breakout this year during the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump gave the Chinese government 45 days to sell the app or be banned from the United States. 

 If you are neither Gen Z nor Millenial, you probably don’t really care about the app being banned and maybe even are happy about it since your daughters are going to stop “Renegading” all over the house and your son will stop throwing it back in front of grandma all the time. But this app is truly important for the people of this generation as it gives them a sense of freedom and power of speaking out.  

I asked many “influencers” with over 500,000 followers, and they all said basically the same thing, “We don’t want the app banned.” 

As much as I seemed to hate the app before, I became one of those people who said they just downloaded it because of a friend but spends hours looking at the latest trend. I just can’t imagine today’s world without Charli D’Amelio saying “Ok Boomer” and that one guy buying 50 McPatties for no reason. 

So I think I can speak for everyone when i say that TikTok isn’t just an “app.” It is a forum for the people of now, and if it does end getting banned, at least we can honor the app’s legacy with a last “Press F to pay respects.”

Posted: Aug. 28

MSD 2 years later: Still living in fear

By Lillian Monaghan, Contributing Writer

On Feb. 14, 2018, I can remember exactly where I was when we got news of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I wasn’t scared at first. There were often reports of shootings and lockdowns at a school near my house, Coral Springs High School, and they had always turned out to be fake or misinformation. Nonetheless, I texted my friends, who were a sophomore and a freshman at the time, to make sure they were alright. They responded in minutes and they were eventually led out by SWAT. This was not the experience every student had that day. My life, and many others’, changed drastically because of the events on that day.

When everyone asks me why I walk so fast through the hallways, I say, “I have a naturally quick pace.” That is not the most honest answer. I travel at practically a run from classroom to classroom because I am scared about being caught out of class in a code red. I am constantly scanning the school for new places to take shelter, in case we get put on a lockdown. There has been a strict policy regarding roaming students enforced since Feb. 14: once a code red is called, all doors are to remain closed regardless of students stuck outside the classrooms. I am terrified that a lockdown will be called, and I will have nowhere to hide because all of the classrooms will be locked. This constant need to find a hiding place is not something I do only in school; it transcends to everywhere I go. I subconsciously scrutinize every room or store I enter to find the best hiding places within minutes of entering. Some may say this is good planning or awareness on my part, but I say it shouldn’t be necessary. I shouldn’t have to fear everywhere I go that a gunman will attempt to end my life. I shouldn’t be scared to walk in my own school, the place where I spend more time at than in my own home.

Additionally, after Feb. 14, a new rule at school was enforced that we must always wear our ID badges. It was strange for high schoolers to go from never needing their IDs to it being a requirement within a day. For younger students it didn’t matter much, as they haven’t known anything different; although, it was difficult explaining to five-year-olds that they now must wear a big “necklace” with their picture on it. They are like dog tags from the military. Soldiers in war must wear identification tags that have their name, service/social security number, blood type and religion. Chinese soldiers even have links written on theirs that, when searched up, provide more information about the soldier. These dog tags are used to identify those who are wounded or dead. It helps to ensure that the families receive the bodies of their loved ones after the war. Our school IDs have our name, student number, and photo on them, and every student is required to be wearing it while on campus. The photo helps to identify us, and the student number can be used to search up more information about each student. But the school board never told us why it is required we wear our IDs. Many believe it’s to make sure that only those who belong at our school are there. Students often laugh at this; they say that IDs can be replicated, and security guards don’t check enough to catch someone who doesn’t belong. But I have my own theory; we don’t have to wear IDs to identify the living, we have to wear them to identify the dead, much like dog tags in the military. During the aftermath of the shooting, parents could not find their children. They were calling their phones and friends and yet no one could tell them where their child was because no one knew the names of those who were dead or injured in the building. It would be inhumane to have students look at their friends’ corpses in order to provide some answers to the distraught families of missing children. So instead, I speculate that we wear our school IDs so if this were to ever happen again, families of the slaughtered would know within minutes instead of hours. This ID that I wear around my neck every day serves as a reminder of those who were lost and a reminder that I could be next.

The frequent code red drills don’t help. We have one once a month, and yet I still become overly anxious each time. When we were younger, and only had one once a year, we joked about them. We didn’t believe anything would really happen, so we discussed the lockdown plan, but never actually did it. Now we know and act differently. We take each drill as if it were the real thing: barricade our doors, hold sharp items to throw at a possible attacker, and lie flat on the ground as to not be seen from the windows. This process in itself evokes many negative emotions, and it is only the practice for a potential threat. Last year we had a real code red. An armed person was in the vicinity of our school, so we were placed on lockdown. After all of our training and drills I thought I would be alright, but I was wrong. I was not alright. I silently cried into the arms of my best friend as we sat on the floor under the desk. We received minimal updates throughout this hour-long ordeal, which only caused the rumors to become more extravagant. Some said an armed man was spotted climbing the school fence and others said he was in the band hallway. In the end, the suspect never even entered our campus and was captured by the cops a few miles from our school. Over the course of the year, we had trained so many times for this, and yet I was still terrified. I have spoken to others in my school about this and they all have similar feelings. However, I have also had the opportunity to speak with friends who are much younger than me about this topic and their feelings and experiences are more neutral and sedated in a way. One nine-year-old girl, Reagan, told me about a code red that happened at her school. She calmly described to me how she and all of her friends crammed into closets and cabinets in her classroom. She said that they all stayed silent for a few hours while they waited to hear about the threat. I asked if she was okay and she told me that she was fine but some of her friends were crying and that students in her class would accidentally hit their leg or hand in the cabinet and scream because they thought they were gunshots. This high-strung, energetic nine-year-old told me this story in the most relaxed manner I have heard from her. All the while, I was remembering my own discomfort I face during our code red drills, let alone the true fear I felt during our own code red. Reagan concluded her story by telling me that everyone was okay and the lockdown was because someone’s car broke down and they were looking for help near the school. Her lack of nervousness and anxiety during this could be caused by the school’s ability to prepare its students for dangerous scenarios like this. Or it could be because school shootings have become so common and schools are required to have so many code red drills that she has become habituated to the process. Although she may have been in danger, she has always been taught to expect the possibility of a lockdown occurring. Though it was beneficial for Reagan to stay calm throughout the incident, the stark contrast between her emotions and mine in similar scenarios demonstrates how code red drills and other lockdowns have become like second nature within our schools.

I am still haunted by the fear I have about almost losing my friends on Feb. 14, 2018. As I enter adulthood, that day and all the events succeeding it have shaped who I am becoming. I get nervous in big crowds and unfamiliar situations, but I am more aware, more grateful for life, and more involved in helping the lives of those around me. Even though I have these feelings and have learned things from this event, those who have not experienced it will refuse to understand. The nation was mourning the day, the week, and the month of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. Yet two years later, the only ones who still remember this horrific event like it was yesterday are those of the Parkland community. More and more cities are feeling this pain as well, but only because they have experienced an event much like ours. What will it take for the entire nation to realize that changes need to happen to prevent more mass murders in schools? Hopefully, it won’t take a shooting in each city for the people to come to this conclusion.

Posted: Feb. 14, 2020

What I Learned From a Month of Cold Showers

By Javier Garcia, Sports Editor

I have taken cold showers for a little over a month now so you don’t have to. Well, not really, but I will bring my findings forth so you won’t have to go through the same pain I had to.

This all started with me running into a video essay made by Nathaniel Drew describing the process and benefits of taking a cold shower. Initially I just watched it for my own curiosity, but then I ran into the problem of my shower not producing hot water. The water wasn’t cold, but not hot either. It was just this weird in-between that I was not comfortable with, so using the lack of proper plumbing as an excuse, I went head first in personal experimentation.

To list off some quick facts given via Microsoft News, some health benefits to taking cold showers could be fat loss, improved immunity, better circulation and lowered stress and depression levels.

So, going off of what science deems the real health benefits, I’d like to point out what I experienced, primarily the emotional benefits seeing as I do not consider myself a credible source to give information on my blood circulation before and after some cold water hits me.

I would compare a cold shower to a shot of espresso, or in our case three shots. Leaving the shower I feel very refreshed and ready to tackle what lies ahead. My best guess is that the cold water tenses your muscles and maybe sends your body into semi-shock, sending adrenaline and thus energy, maybe. I’m no human body expert by any means.

This was extremely beneficial for me since I had a bad habit of coming home at 6:45 p. m. from lacrosse practice and immediately taking a nice hot shower. I would then leave the shower a little groggy and tired even, so I tended to just lie down in bed and procrastinate instead of doing homework. So the caffeine substitute that comes with the health benefits of a cold shower justifies the brief moments of discomfort.

Not to mention, the more I take the shower the more tolerable it seems to become, so much so there are days I see myself anticipating that night’s cold shower.

I will give my only pointer. Do not do what I did and decide to do this during the tail end of December. The combination of the cold air and cold water did not make for a fun time. Other than that, it’s just a shower, Grit your teeth and get ready for the triple espresso effect.

Ups and Downs

By Frankie Gowdy, Staff Intern

Whenever the bell rings its familiar tune, that’s usually the cue for students to pack up their bags and head toward their next class. They venture into the crowded halls and try to pass all the other students slowly making their way around the building while also keeping track of how much time they have left before the second bell rings. Of course, with only five minutes to spare between each period there really isn’t much time at all to slack if you don’t want to get that dreaded late slip.

Unless the classes scheduled to you are all on the same floor, or if you’re lucky enough to find another route downstairs to the courtyard for lunch, there’s a chance everyone at some point has had to brave the clustered main stairwell in the center of the school. It’s a complete jumbled mess of students trying to get up to the other floors while a couple hundred other students are trying to get down. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere whenever it begins to fill up.

This doesn’t only affect the main stairwell either, but also the hallway on the third floor. With everyone trying to get in or out of the mess, that means there’s another huge group of students to pass just to make it to the next period. What could’ve been an easy trek through the halls has now taken a student at least one or two extra minutes because of the huge traffic jam they’re facing.

Depending on your grade level, this situation may not present a challenge to you at all. But as a freshman whose first year is already full of twists and turns, you’d think at least you would be able to make it to your classes on time with ease.

Now, there are two other stairwells on campus that lead to the East and West wing respectively. You can traverse these stairs to get to your classes if you don’t want to risk going to the main stairwell area. These stairs make things a whole lot easier for students whose classes are further apart. They aren’t as crowded, and you can easily make your way up or down without having to worry about bumping into other people.

The problem with this option; however, is that it’s mostly closed off the whole time though. Which makes no sense. It’s not a huge dealbreaker, but it feels like an inconvenience that doesn’t have to be there. Whenever I meet with my guidance counselor, I usually take the eastern stairwell to get there as quickly as I can. But then whenever I go back to my class, I have to begrudgingly take the main stairwell and then make my way back over to the eastern side of the school for no reason.

I do understand that it’s only closed for security reasons and that you can still go up and down the stairs inside the building. I completely understand that and I think it’s a great policy to have. However, it just feels like a strange limitation that shouldn’t really be there. And considering the other option for traversing up and down the school is usually clustered anyway, I feel as if it would make more sense to allow students to use these stairs more often.

Posted: Jan. 22

Where is the “why”?

By Javier Garcia, Sports Editor

Let me make something clear, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year with many things for all types of people to enjoy. That said, it seems to be microscopic in comparison to the holiday it precedes , Christmas. Regardless of so much being accompanied with Thanksgiving, Christmas outshines it, literally, but is that a good thing?

With Thanksgiving, comes many things, the fall-to-winter transition, Black Friday and the Three F’s (football, family, and food). A distinct time of the year with distinct meals; food comes from every member of the family, each side you add to your plate is another style of cooking your taste buds will experience. It’s even better when there is a person in the family that can make one specific dish like no one else, for instance, your aunt’s green bean casserole.

The time finally comes, all the food has been prepared and the table is ready to be bombarded by your family. The seats fill up quickly, usually divided into sections so all the cousins and siblings are together, and the adults spread around the other end of the table, surrounding Grandma and Grandpa. Images like these are impossible to recreate at any other time of the year.

After stuffing your stomach to its capacity, and then some, you scuffle to the living room where the football game is already on. You plop down on the couch accompanied by uncles and some of the older cousins watch the game.

That is where Thanksgiving lacks, tradition. One of the annual things recognized at a national level is an American Football game. In terms of tradition or ethnic value, Thanksgiving is just the single day of the year families eat their largest feast together. Its origins are hard to feel connected to whatsoever, as far as my family is concerned it is just a time when Pilgrims and Natives ate together, and thus a time to be thankful for. It is understandable that the “why” to Thanksgiving on an individual level, is obscure.

Either way, Thanksgiving is a unique time of the year that is hard to not enjoy. How can you say no to the food?

Six years later, The Office still among greatest shows ever

Spoiler Warning

By Eduardo Andrade, Managing Editor

“I haven’t seen The Office.” No five words can do more damage to a relationship. As someone who often tries to limit the amount of media they consume, I can understand sacrificing being in the zeitgeist and often missing the reference. But to not have seen The Office is more than just trying to watch less TV and spend a few less minutes on the snapstagram every day. To not have seen The Office is the deprivation of a cultural experience the likes of which have never been seen before, and will likely never be seen again.

I understand some concessions have to be made. To some, season one isn’t that good and it’s hard to blame someone for not watching past the first few episodes. The comedy is more awkward and Michael is borderline racist and much more offensive making him unlikeable. While many of the episodes are still good, with “Diversity Day” being ranked the 19th greatest episode of television of all time by TV Guide, they don’t approach the near perfection found in seasons two and beyond.

Starting in the second season the show hits a peak unmatched by anything else in our time. From seasons two through five every episode is amazing at worst. Even ignoring the great character arcs and plot development, the quality of the recurring jokes, one liners and easy to miss Michael comments propel this show into the upper echelons of television. To miss out on the Dundies, Michael grilling his foot, prison Mike and a Ben Franklin impersonator hitting on women in the office because you couldn’t sit through the first six episodes speaks volumes about one’s personality and is an excellent representation of our declining national attention span which causes so many issues today. To stop watching the show after having started the second season is criminal.

In the decade and a half since the show was first released, its episodes are just as funny and as relevant. Because the show is set in an office, a setting that’s remained relatively unchanged for over a hundred years, and the universally relatable premise of a clueless boss leading employees better equipped for the same job the show is timeless and is sure to hold up for decades to come.

The show was one of the first successful pioneers of the “mockumentary” genre later replicated by shows like Parks and Recreation, Modern Family and American Vandal. 

The Office never suffered from the disease of more which plagued the final years of so many good shows. Instead of making a cash grab and extending the show for unnecessary extra seasons, like Weeds, Scrubs, Modern Family, Family Guy and The Simpsons. While the show certainly dropped in quality following Steve Carrels (Michael) departure, the show never felt forced and ended at an appropriate time with an emotional series finale that and satisfying ends to character arcs. While some say the show should have ended when Michael left for Colorado I maintain that it was all worth it to see Creed be manager.

We all owe it to ourselves to watch The Office at least once in our lifetimes, but time is running out. On January 1, 2021 the show is leaving Netflix for NBCs own streaming platform which is yet to be named. For many that alone is enough to cancel their Netflix subscription and sign up for NBC, but for too many others, it means the end of being able the best show that we have been blessed enough to live through.

Posted Nov. 20

Erivo causes #NotMyHarriet protest

By Kayla Gayle, News Editor

Cynthia Erivo, a Black British actress, plays the African-American hero Harriet Tubman in the new biographical film “Harriet.”

There has been great controversy surrounding this movie, the main one being centered around the lead actress and her old tweets that have resurfaced.

“Can some1 explain why Black folks don’t like Haitians? Is it envy from them being able to end slavery quicker than America? *shots fired*,” Erivo said in one tweet. “(ghetto american accent)” was included in another tweet of Erivo’s, in which she made fun of African-American Vernacular English.

When the trailer for the film released in mid-July, a debate about whether or not Erivo should play Tubman sparked amongst the black community.

From 2011 to 2018, Erivo has been belittling African-Americans and promoting the ethnic prejudice towards the people Tubman fought to free. She insinuates that African-Americans are ghetto and have no culture, yet is capitalizing on that culture.

Erivo may even receive an Oscar for this role despite her bashing the people it is about, which truly just screams Hollywood.

It’s also pretty funny how in a tweet from 2017 Erivo said, “which would be fair if my heritage wasn’t African and I hadn’t watch black Americans play the roles of real-life Africans.” The hypocrisy is impossible to ignore.

I am African-Caribbean, and I know that if an African-American that was disrespectful and nasty towards Jamaicans, or any Black Caribbeans, I would start a riot if they were cast as Nanny of the Maroons or Paul Bogle in a biopic.

It makes complete sense why African-Americans are angry that Erivo is playing an icon that affected all of their lives. It’s disrespectful to Tubman’s legacy.

I’m honestly not surprised though, Hollywood absolutely adores not giving proper representation to minority groups that need it. But Hollywood, I’m begging, please do better because Erivo is #NotMyHarriet.

Posted: Nov. 6

Catholic church fails to resurrect power

By Matthew Shanbom, Managing Editor

Over time, the Catholic church has evolved from a small group of followers of the “son of god” Jesus Christ to an international church with a membership of 1.272 billion people. As the church grew in power from its humble roots, it misused this power time after time to take advantage of its followers.

While the church began while Jesus was still alive, its following grew after Jesus was crucified and resurrected according to the bible. As this story of resurrection spread throughout the region via the 12 apostles and other missionaries. The church grew as a persecuted religion in the Roman Empire until 313 when Constantine legalized the practice of Christianity which quickly spread to become the state religion in 380. Once it was made the state religion, the church grew in power as more and more citizens of the Roman Empire converted. The Catholic church held power as the sole sect of Christianity until the Great Schism in 1054 which resulted in the creation of the Eastern Orthodox church. 

The church took advantage of the power granted to it to begin collecting indulgences which for most catholics was a monetary payment to the church. Most of the time, the reason for paying an indulgence was to forgive the sins of the person paying it or their relative. This practice was eventually questioned by some as to why money was required to pray for their loved ones. Indulgences were one of the church’s biggest misuses of power. 

Martin Luther was one of the first to call out the church on their misuses of power when he published the 95 theses in 1517. This started the movement known as the protestant reformation. The ideas gained popularity due to rejection of papal authority and an emphasis on a direct relationship with god. The church initially disregarded the reformation until England broke away from the Catholic church becoming a protestant nation. As for the reason England broke away, the church once again overestimated its power and misused it. By refusing to annul the marriage of British king Henry VIII, the church had allowed what would become the world’s largest empire to slip away. The church attempted to regain some power through conversion in American colonies in what was known as the counter-reformation. As Catholic countries such as Spain and France lost power in the Americas, the influence of Catholicism fell and protestantism continued to grow allowing it to become the primary religion in the United States. 

Even as the church lost power due to the reformation, it still continues to have one of the largest memberships of any religion at 20.8% of the United states. Priests in their local communities used the power given to them to sexually abuse minors. The sexual abuse allegations rose to prominence in the late 20th century and the early 21st century. Even as through investigations many priests have been found guilty of pedophelia, the church has removed very few of them even going as far as to reject the resignation of multiple Chilean priests. This rejection combined with a cover up from bishops caused the church to be forced to take action in order to save face. In February 2019, the pope hosted a meeting at the Vatican to discuss child abuse within the church. While this summit did lead to some action, the fact that it took over two decades to take any serious action shows the church was afraid to lose some of its power.

While all religions at one point have used their power to control their followers, the Catholic church abused their position as one of the largest religions to take advantage of the followers that allowed it to rise to such a prominent position in the first place. While action has been taken to repair many of these errors, the church took far too long to respond on issues it had been aware of for a long period of time.

Posted: Oct. 31

US companies side with Chinese government

By Matthew Shanbom, Managing Editor

China is the world’s largest market with a population of 1.386 billion people. Due to this fact, many American companies have sought to sell their products in China. As China is not a free market, companies must stay in favor with the Chinese government to have their right to operate continued. 

One of the biggest examples of this was in early October when Houston Rockets owner Daryl Morey tweeted in favor of the Hong Kong protesters. The NBA had been scheduled to play several preseason games in China a few days after Morey composed the tweet. The Chinese government and Tencent, the Chinese group who owns the NBA distribution rights in China, made the decision to cancel the games and not broadcast NBA games in China. This blackout has continued including not broadcasting opening night for the first time in over a decade. Even as these consequences played out, NBA commissioner Adam Silver still hoped to reach a “mutual agreement.” Former NBA players and politicians including Shaq and Ted Cruz have spoken out against the NBA for supporting what Cruz calls “tyrannical actions” in an op-ed published in USA today. 

This issue is not limited to the NBA. Another American company Activision Blizzard, a video game developer and publisher, suspended a Hong Konger professional video game player for supporting Hong Kong during a post game interview. The player was suspended for a year and had all of his prize money revoked. While eventually his prize money was returned and the suspension was reduced to six months, this was still an unfair punishment for free speech. Meanwhile, an American team held up a sign saying “Free Hong Kong. Boycott Blizz.” This team received no punishments initially while the other player had received a suspension. In protest the team forfeited the rest of their matches for the season. Eventually, Blizzard punished the team with a six month suspension in line with the other player. Again, the fact that it takes an internet protest and pressure from lawmakers to make a change shows that American companies are more likely to support China than the citizens of the country they are based in.

Posted: Oct. 23

Pelosi and House should continue impeachment proceedings against President Trump

By Eduardo Andrade, Managing Editor

President Donald Trump is the subject of impeachment inquiries as of Sept. 24. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi initiated these inquiries after allegations that Trump had pressured the leaders of other countries in order to advance his personal and political interests. Trump has reportedly asked the leaders of several countries, including China, Australia, Italy, Britain and most notably Ukraine to investigate Robert Mueller, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and possible Ukranian and Russian interference in the 2016 election. The investigation into Trump has largely focused on his actions with Ukrainian officials, including the recently elected President Volodymyr Zelensky, largely due to a whistleblower report which outlines how Trump allegedly “abuse(d) his office for personal gain.”

 Of those who have publicly stated their position, House Republicans unanimously oppose impeachment inquiries while 225 of 235 house Democrats support them, with the sole House independent, a former Republican, supporting the inquiries.

Impeachment proceedings are a necessary first step in determining whether or not Trump engaged in impeachable offences and Pelosi made the correct decision in initiating these proceedings.

The evidence against Trump is damning and warrants further investigation. While asking foreign leaders to investigate political rivals in itself is questionable, offering aid in return is impeachable.

US foreign aid in Ukraine dropped from $194 million in 2017 to an estimated $122 million in 2019. In his phone call with the Ukranian president, Trump asks for investigations into the Bidens after saying the US’s support of Ukraine has not been reciprocated, which while it is not an explicit quid pro quo offer, it does merit further investigation in the larger context of the situation. Even more concerning, leaked text messages indicate that Ukranian and American officials were wary of Trump’s intentions with Ukraine and believe Trump was threatening to withhold funds and military support if the President did not meet his requests. 

In a text Bill Taylor, head of the American embassy in Ukraine, relays to other officials that Ukranian finance minister Sasha Danyliuk said, “(Ukranian) President Zelenskyy is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.”  In a separate series of texts, Kurt Volker, at the time the US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, says the US will not schedule a White House visit for the Ukranian president unless he “convinces trump he will investigate/’get to the bottom of what happened.’” In another text, Taylor says to Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the European Union, the President is withholding “security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Both presidents have denied that a quid pro quo was offered, and Sondland responded to Taylor’s texts saying Taylor was “incorrect about President Trump’s intentions” and that the president was clear about their being no quid pro quo. However, these texts provide strong evidence that Trump gave incentives for the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden and possible Ukrainian and Russian interference in the 2016 election in favor of the DNC is cause to begin the impeachment inquiries into him.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giulianni has made unsubstantiated claims bordering on slander about Joe Biden and his involvement in Ukraine politics, claiming he had former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Shokin removed to help his sons business dealings as a board member of the Burisma Group, a natural gas company based in Cyprus and with many dealings in Ukraine. However, investigations into the Burisma Group began before Shokin became Prosecutor General and Shokin’s resignation came over a year after the investigation had ended. Former Ukranian prosecutors and current Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko have both said that Biden had nothing to do with closing the investigation.

Republicans are criticizing the probe, saying it is unconstitutional as the impeachment inquiry began without a vote by the house. This is untrue, while in the past impeachment inquiries have begun this way, the Speaker of the House can launch an impeachment inquiry without a full House vote.

While it is not needed to launch the inquiry, a House vote would likely give Republicans the right to subpoena witnesses and information and give some power to the minority party in the investigations. A House vote should be held on the inquiry as it would ensure a more fair investigation and provide transparency and legitimacy into the proceedings.

The President has claimed that the American people do not support the impeachment inquiry and cited this as a reason to not move forward with the proceedings. However, 51%  of registered voters polled believe Trump should be impeached and removed from office and another 4% say he should be impeached but not removed from office and 43% say the call to Ukraines president alone was an impeachable offence.

An impeachment inquiry is a far cry from removing Trump from office. For Trump to be removed, after their investigation, a majority of the House Judiciary Committee would have to vote in favor of opening the vote to the entire House. Then a majority of the House would have to vote to formally impeach Trump, sending the vote to the Senate. There, the Senate would launch a trial investigating the President. After the trial, two-thirds of the Senate would need to vote in favor of impeaching Trump for him to finally be removed from office.

More evidence needs to come to light in order to impeach Trump for offering a quid pro quo, however sufficient evidence has been brought up to justify an impeachment inquiry. Pelosi and the House Democrats should hold a House vote on the inquiry in order to make the proceedings more fair and to make sure the investigation continues as honestly as possible.

Posted: Oct. 10

Minecraft builds lead as highest selling game

By Matthew Shanbom, Managing Editor and Javier Garcia, Sports Editor

Minecraft is the best game period. Minecraft is a blocky sandbox game first released in May 2009. Since then, the developers have released regular updates which change the game while keeping the original vision while keeping the game fresh for years to come. 

Minecraft has established its dominance against other games by passing Tetris for the highest selling game of all time with 176 million units as of May 2019. Additionally, the gap between Tetris and the next highest game is 60 million units making the number one position a monumental achievement in and of itself. The sales for Minecraft are divided among 18 platforms including Windows, IOS and Xbox 360. This abundance of platforms has allowed for the prominence of the game among a large audience who could all play a similar game no matter which platform they use.  

Not only is it accessible on a wide range of consoles to play it is also reaches out to an even wider range of audiences. The game is rated to be suitable for ages 7+ which is usually around the age one would start playing games. In fact, it is the first game Introduced to my little sister mainly as a means to teach her the fundamentals of video games, which was effective and she has now moved on to other, more complex games. Regardless of its target audience appearing to be for kids with its childish graphics and appeal it still reaches out to people of practically any age. This is because from an initial glance the game is simple, place and break block in a large combination of ways to make anything, but that simplistic goal is what makes it infinite in possibilities. 

With the basic principles being so simple and easy to comprehend it simultaneously opens up to something only bound by ones imagination. The possibilities with block palettes and patterns/designs that is easily manipulated creates an infinite array of blocky buildings. You could log on and place dirt around in a cube, slap a door on it and call it home. Or, you can spend days and even weeks experimenting  with placing a block, stairs, slab, or plenty of other options just for the sake of one spot on a whole entire castle. The game is not limited by its age range or outdated graphics, what makes it great is that it is a game that is exactly what you make it out to be, a game not bound by limits placed by the developers but a game where there are no limits. It is a game time and time again has struck popular and has remained semi-consistent in its decade long lifespan. It is a game, that is simply the best.

Posted. Oct. 2

TikTok: SGA runs out the clock

By Kayla Gayle, News Editor

The daily themes for the annual Spirit Week, set to start on Sept. 23, have been revealed.

The themes this year are Bonnie and Clyde Monday, TikTok Tuesday, Bikers vs. Surfers Wednesday and Color Wars on Thursday. 

Tuesday’s theme is honestly laughable. According to SGA’s poster in the courtyard, we are expected to show up wearing our “favorite TikTok meme.”

If I show up Tuesday and I don’t see people with their nails painted black, wearing all black with chains on their pants while wearing a beanie, I’m going to be so disappointed.

I expect to see everyone with scrunchies, hydroflasks and oversized sweatshirts while constantly saying “sksksk” and misusing “and I oop.” 

I don’t really see how else anyone could dress up other than a VSCO girl or E-boy.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate TikTok; it’s the best of Vine and the worst of Musical.ly all in one amazing app, but I just don’t see many options for costumes. 

I might just be surprised though, students are always so creative for Spirit Week.

Maybe one will go viral on TikTok.

Posted: Sept. 18

VSCNo, Thanks!

Making fun of VSCO Girls isn’t funny

By Alexis Schatten, Editor-In-Chief

Since the dawn of Internet culture, teen girls expressing their interests online have been ridiculed for nothing more than being themselves. “VSCO Girls,” with their oversized shirts, hydroflasks and scrunchies, are hardly the first type of girl to be forced into a box and made fun of, but they are the most recent. They’ve been the butt of jokes across all social media platforms since the start of summer, and while it may seem like harmless jokes, it’s really not. 

Teen girls have been consistently placed into categories that mock their interests since the rise of social media. There was the “Tumblr Girl,” who liked to quote John Green books and shop at Urban Outfitters; the “Egirl,” who liked to wear striped undershirts and chains; the “Horse Girl,” who looks like she likes horses. The list goes on and on, and it’s likely that most girls have, at one point in their time on the Internet, been put into one of these categories. 

So, why does it matter if girls are categorized based on their interests? It wouldn’t, if it were the girls themselves that were doing the categorizing. However, more often than not, girls aren’t placing these labels upon themselves. They’re being given the label by a man, who can then take it upon himself to use this label as a way of making fun of girls who fall into the category. 

These labels have consistently been used to put girls down. Just because a girl likes a certain thing, that doesn’t mean that’s all she likes. Believe it or not, we’re people too. We have a variety of interests and if we want to wear friendship bracelets or oversized shirts, that’s only a small percentage of what makes us who we are. Narrowing girls down to these labels belittles us and makes us seem simpleminded. At the very least, if you’re going to insist on categorizing girls based off their interests, do the same for boys. Because as of now, I can guarantee you that you won’t find nearly as many people making jokes about boys who happen to fall into a category. 

Posted Sept. 11

China should ease up on Hong Kong

By Matthew Shanbom, Managing Editor

The protests in Hong Kong over the summer have had a dramatic social impact on the Chinese government. The protesters were originally denouncing an extradition bill which would allow for the transfer of fugitives from Hong Kong back to mainland China. Protesters were concerned their promised autonomy was being infringed upon by the Chinese government.

The history of Hong Kong’s British influence stretches back to the First Opium War where, after the Qing’s defeat, the British and other European powers were given a lease on territories, including Hong Kong, to govern. In 1997, Great Britain, a democratic country, was coming up on the end of its lease and decided to give Hong Kong back to China, a communist country. 

To protect the thriving economy and culture of Hong Kong, the two countries agreed that Hong Kong would have its own political and economic systems for 50 years after the transfer. Now only after only 22 years later, the extradition bill would cause Hong Kong to lose some of its autonomy.

Once the protests started, the focus shifted from the extradition bill to the general projection of power from China into Hong Kong. Police brutality, including the use of tear gas, was commonly reported including several injuries that led to hospitalization. Many others who were not injured were arrested. The Hong Kong Free Press reported that as of Sept. 2, 1,117 people had been arrested in relation to the protests. One large topic that arose during the protests was identification of who to arrest. Many experts and protesters have come to the consensus that the Chinese government is using surveillance to identify protesters and keep a record of their actions.

This use of surveillance is part of China’s social credit system, which would track the actions and travel of its citizens. The most prominent alleged use of this system is in the Xinjiang province of China, where there is a large amount of Uyghurs, a Muslim group. Many claim that the Chinese government is tracking their movements and storing data from security cameras to use for facial recognition software. This invasion of privacy is unethical and involves a government working against its own people. 

China claims that this system of surveillance is only for counter-terrorism measures but the general consensus is that this is far from the truth. While these measures could stop terrorists, regular citizens are being treated as enemies and guilty until proven innocent. This blatant racism against Uyghurs should not be tolerated and the international community should try to put pressure on China to stop the overreach of its power.

In Hong Kong, the protests have had some impact. On Sept. 4, the chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, withdrew the extradition bill that started these protests. The lasting impact of these protests will continue to be seen for many years. The people in Hong Kong will keep fighting to maintain autonomy from China, and many around the world need to continue putting pressure on China to prevent an overuse of power.

Posted: Sept. 4

Fresh advice: How to make it through your first year of high school

By Amanda Marsenison, Staff Intern

Being a freshman in high school is hard. On the first few days, getting to class seems confusing, the faces are different and the crowded hallways are intimidating. Last August, I didn’t know a single person and I had come from a terribly small private middle school. I felt completely and utterly terrified.

Now, I can look back on a fantastic year during which I met tons of new people, all with different stories, giving me new experiences. Because most of us have survived our freshman year unscathed, a few of my fellow freshmen and I hope to share our experiences and help the freshman Class of 2023 feel more comfortable.

One of my first tips is to study. I know this can sound silly, but many kids did not do this in middle school, making the transition to high school even more difficult.

“I had to develop good study skills to help me,” Matthew Stubbs said. “I learned to take notes, and study for tests days before the test.”

Another good piece of advice is to join clubs and teams. It is easier to make friends when you have something in common.

“Volleyball began at the beginning of the year, so it was really nice to recognize a few people in some of my classes on those first days,” freshman Kobie Jay said. “I met most of my friends on the court. Being part of a team is cool, and I recommend it to any freshman.”

While studying and developing a support group are good strategies to deal with the transition, getting into a relationship during freshman year may do more harm than good.

“Don’t rush into anything,” freshman Sophie Lichtenstein said. “Dating somebody can be a lot of work, and in addition to being on a team and having good grades, it can feel like a lot.”

Even without a relationship, expect to get really stressed at some point. It is important to reach out to somebody, like a counselor, a friend or family member so it never feels like too much to handle.

“Don’t stress over the work, try to make as many friends as possible, join one or more clubs, try to be organized and always put in the grind to get that bread,” Luis Caceres said.

You can avoid a lot of unnecessary stress by avoiding procrastination. The more you wait to complete an assignment, the more it may build up and the harder it will be to complete.

“Never save anything for the last minute if you want to get a good grade,” Julie Cigankova said. “I had some serious procrastination issues, and I’ve waited to complete things until the class period before it was due. That never works out for me, and I always end up getting bad grades on those assignments.”

An important thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat. Even if you feel alone, lots of people are experiencing the same exact things.

Posted: July 23

A farewell to Ann Wilson

By Javier Garcia, Asst. Section Editor

Where do I start with Ms. Wilson.

I shared a feeling that many students might’ve had with Ms. Wilson, and that was the complete dread of her class my freshman year due to such heavy homework loads and the limitless essays we wrote in her class. Towards the end of the year, especially approaching testing time, I started to realize how much better my writing had gotten from her class and she deserved all the credit. It clicked like one of those light-bulb moments you see in cartoons: There was such a beautiful method to her madness.

Then came around my sophomore year and I had her again on my schedule. I will be honest: Most of my peers who had her last year were not happy. To be frank, I too was not jumping with joy either as I was just returning from an extremely lazy summer and was not ready to take that work once more.

Then again, that light bulb turned back on after about three weeks of her class once more, and though I did not enjoy it not one bit, I was grateful for the work at the end of the day. I can credit her for so much of my work and the way I write to this day and to my success.

Coming around my second year with her I was her “class favorite” as she was extremely fond of my work and only sought the best out of me, pushing me to write more short stories and how she expected a better one than my ninth grade literary fair short story this year.

She even pulled off something no other teacher could do in all my years of being a student, and that is to actually make me want to learn poetry.

I couldn’t count the conversations we started to share before or after school, whether it was about school or small encounters in life you could often take for granted. She even shared many stories to her class, taking time away from all the work to give her students a break, a chance to feel the warmth of a human life in what can sometimes feel like the robotic life of an honors student.

She told every story one of these stories, taught every lesson, spoke to every student with a smile on her face. She brought about the positive outlook on life that often most students are lacking buried deep in the life of school, regardless of having what could be one of the worst situations handed to someone in life.

This had not been her first fight. She knew of this condition, she lived with it every day of the past 20 years, and she did possibly one of the most selfless acts I have ever witnessed with my own eyes.

Instead of focusing on herself she continued to educate young people and pass priceless wisdom down to other people.

She spent most of her time, not knowing how much of it she had left, seeking the betterment of other people and constantly focusing on others, not for the paycheck but for the chance to do what she wanted to do.

Her final wishes were not to travel the world, or to live the life as carefree as a billionaire for a day, they were to help shape the future of hundreds of kids too young to understand what she is doing for them.

For that, I am forever grateful for the mountains of homework I did Sunday nights, the essays that just seemed to pile up taller than myself, the hours of Shakespeare in class, the minutes learning more grammar than I could possibly ever need, the timeless stories, and for Ms. Wilson herself.

There are plenty of ways to show my thanks but there’s only one thing left to say.

Farewell, Ms. Wilson.

Posted: May 23

AP exams in cramped space

By Matthew Shanbom, Asst. Section Editor

For the Advanced Placement exams this year, many have been moved to larger classroom spaces such as the gym to allow for larger scale examination. While this change allows for more efficient use of procters, it is not as beneficial for the students.

The organization of testing in a large scale testing environment may be detrimental to some students. The use of tables instead of individual desks may lead students to believe they have less personal space since the tables are shared. Additionally, in a large scale environment students may feel claustrophobic in a room with 50 students and many dividers. The unnecessary stress caused by proximity of other students. Imagine a fish tank with 15 fish swimming around with plenty of room. All of a sudden, the owner comes back from the store and adds 30 more fish to the tank. This is how it feels testing in the gym. People go from having their own personal space to absolutely no space.

Additionally, with the larger space of the gym compared to a classroom, the walk to the bathroom can take longer which can take away valuable minutes from the test. If a test taker really needs to go to the bathroom, they have to get the proctors attention in a large room, then walk all the way to the gym bathrooms and back which takes longer than the average walk to the bathroom.

With more people in a space, there is a higher chance that a test taker could cause a disturbance to the entire room. If there was a one percent chance that a person would cause a disturbance, there would be a 50 percent chance if there were 50 people in the room. This upscale and the increase in disturbances can distract students who are taking their test and possibly cause a large enough disturbance to end the entire test session.

The problem is serious. Testing environments are too big.

Posted: May 1

Learning language lacking in the US

The United States is a country filled with diversity. Its people come from all over the globe, carrying their cultures and languages with them. About one in four children hasat least one parent born outside the U. S., according to Kaiser Family Foundation.

Yet, the value we put on learning about other cultures and most importantly, other languages, is very little.

When it comes to language learning, our education system is a mockery to our nation, which is supposed to stand for diversity and unity. We cannot be diverse or united if we don’t place value on learning the languages and the cultures that exist everywhere around us. The world does not revolve around America.. Magnet students are required to take three years of language, and let’s be real — most students BS it. To most of them, language seems too difficult and fluency unattainable. Some believe that it just doesn’t matter.

But what those students don’t understand is that language is freedom, and it is the key to understanding people.

The way a language is formatted, its grammar rules, its idioms and the thought process behind it all can tell someone a lot about a culture. For example, a Turkish idiom is “alın yazısı” which, in English, translates to “what is written on your forehead.”

To a majority of English-speakers, this doesn’t make very much sense, but this is a very important phrase. The idiom is similar to how we say someone’s fate being “written in the stars”.

The belief that fate is predetermined is widespread in Turkey and is an important aspect in its culture, but this belief is not taught in geography class. A lot of the time, language is the only key to understanding. Psychology, history and other classes commonly taught in schools can’t teach you about people like a language can.

Languages are dying. In 2007, there were 7,000 languages in the world. Today, there are less than 6,500. Entire cultures, entire histories, have been lost.
It is very important that the world doesn’t become monolingual. If we do, so much culture, history, and diversity will be lost and these are things that are nearly impossible to get back. To keep languages alive, to prevent the catastrophe of losing connections to entire civilizations, people need to speak them, and we need to learn them.

Despite what most Americans believe, learning a language isn’t the most difficult thing to do. It can be learned just like any subject in school; it only requires us to apply ourselves.

However, language learning is scientifically proven to be easier the younger a person is. That is why other countries start their kids off learning a second language almost right away. English is one of the most-taught languages, and kids start learning it from the time of elementary school; however, in America kids don’t start learning second languages until middle school or high school.

Throughout the world, many people are bilingual or polylingual. According to the European Commission 56 percent of Europeans can hold a conversation in a second language, compared to 20 percent of the U. S. population according to the American Community Survey.

This alone shows how much America lacks in foreign education, and frankly, it could be a contributing factor as to why other countries aren’t fond of us. They bother to learn our language, but we don’t bother to learn theirs.

Aside from language being a way to communicate both words and culture, language also looks very good to colleges and jobs. If a person can speak another language, they already have a higher chance at getting accepted whether it be for a college, by an organization or for work.

Language learning also leads to different and improved mindsets. It is scientifically proven that becoming fluent in another language, or at the very least learning the basics, can open your mind to new ways of thinking.

Some languages, Mandarin Chinese for instance, don’t have an alphabet but a host of characters. The characters are like symbols and represent whole words, not only sounds like the English or Latin alphabet.

Thus, people who speak Chinese have to think a different way when they are writing it. They have to memorize the strokes used to write the characters, forcing them to develop a sharper memory and more detailed observations. One or two wrong strokes can make the character illegible or mean something entirely different.

Mandarin Chinese is actually one of the languages taught at our school, and it is a very important language to learn due to China being one of the world powers. It is also one of the top five languages spoken around the world and used in business, alongside English and Russian.

“People think Chinese is really hard, but it only is if you believe that,” senior David Dunham said.

Sadly, people don’t have to fully comprehend a language to pass the class. At our school, we have the opportunities to learn Spanish, Chinese and French from people who are either native-speakers who came to America to teach or who have lived in those countries. This is a very valuable opportunity because not only can you learn the language from a textbook and classwork, but from a person who is living and breathing right in front of you and has experienced the different lifestyle and culture of another country.

Language is freedom because language brings people together. It can open new ways of thinking, unlock understanding, allow a person to meet new people, get into colleges, get jobs and more. There are many benefits to language learning, and it’s sad how little we Americans seem to value it.

Posted: Apr. 26

Detect the vapor

By Matthew Shanbom, Asst. Section Editor

During the month of April, a ballot was sent out to parents to vote on which school choice enhancement projects was to be completed by the school. Option number one allocates $7,000 dollars for the installation of vape sensors in the bathrooms. This is a very necessary piece of technology in high schools around the country.

Recent statistics from the national institute on drug abuse in the past month 14 percent of 10th graders and 16.2 percent of 12th graders have used e-cigarettes. If these statistics were applied to the current 10th grade class of 302 people comes out to about 42 people in the grade. Even though the number may seem low, this is a large amount of minors who are committing a federal crime in the past month just in the 10th grade class. If the school were to invest in vape sensors many more students than are currently caught can be stopped and prevented from continuing down a path of illegal substance use.

E-cigarettes can be used as a gateway drug. 30.7 percent of E-cigarette users started smoking within six months of vaping for the first time. According to the national institute on health, 5.8 percent of high school seniors have reporting consuming marijuana daily. Marijuana in the form of THC has been vaped as a replacement for smoking or using edibles. Minors who are caught with marijuana vape pods face a double felony for minor possession and possession at a government property.

Now that it is known how large the amounts of students who vape or use other drugs the need for vape detectors can immediately be seen. Vape detectors can help school security monitors find people who are vaping down to the specific bathroom and the specific time and catch students in the act. Currently, the staff does not have time to be constantly checking the bathrooms, so an alert would be helpful to know when to look. Currently, many students who vape are not caught due to the bathrooms not being checked. If these students are caught and learn their lesson they may be persuaded to quit their habit of drug use or seek help quitting. If drug users are never caught, they will never learn that what they are doing will have any consequences in life.

While the voting for the improvement plan that includes the vape sensors has already closed, the plan will not be finalized until the next SAC meeting on May. 13. It is important to continue to make it known that vape sensors are a necessity for schools to stop the vaping epidemic.

Posted: Apr. 24

In-state housing contracts due too soon

By Jessica Buchanan, Editor-in-Chief

Many in-state public schools including UF and UCF require a housing contract and deposit weeks before students know if they are able to commit to the school.

While these schools do not require freshman to live on campus, about 70 percent of incoming freshman live on UCF campus according to Orlando Sun-Sentinel.

There are still many regular decisions who have yet to come out including Ivy leagues which come out on April 1 and highly ranked out-of-state schools. Many of the students who are waiting for these decisions still have the very real possibility of attending an in-state school.

At UCF if you submit the housing contract now you must also submit a $100 prepayment and at UF you must pay $225 and submit the housing contract by March 19.

If you need to cancel these housing contracts after May you can pay a minimum of $100 to cancel on top of the fee you already paid.

The deadlines of the housing contracts are unfair to students. I understand that there are students who are 100 percent committed to an in-state school in Mid-March, but why are students who have not quite decided penalized?

Many prospective students to in-state schools have gone ahead and paid the housing contract fee. If they decide to attend they will at least have the chance to live on-campus.

“I figured I might as well do the contract,” senior Megan Tirrell said. “If I lose the $225 that is that, but if I decide to go to UF I will be glad that I did it.”

State-schools should extend their deadlines to be April 1st. This way students won’t be wasting money or taking up spots for housing if they choose not to go which benefits all parties.

Posted: March 20

Black movies made by black people should be recognized

By Jordan Brown, Section Editor

As Black History Month comes to an end, it’s only appropriate to address the exhausting journey that black people as a race are still on and have been on since 400 years ago, when a world of possibilities was taken from us. In 2019, there are many forms of media that advocates for equal opportunities and retells of the multitude of struggles black people have had to endure in the last years, ranging from the horrors of slavery to fighting for equal rights during the Civil Rights Movement.
The most popular form to retell our stories of triumph riddled with sacrifice is through film. The film industry has a long history of whitewashing or stifling actors and directors of color for reasons unknown, which is frequently assumed to be prejudice. However, there are movies, both popular and unknown, that have significant impacts on the black community that gives a feeling of pride in seeing someone that looks like you on the screen.
A very popular black film that took 2018 by storm was the three-time Academy Award winner “Black Panther”, directed by Ryan Coogler. Besides winning three Oscars, “Black Panther” is the highest grossing film ever directed by a black director and the ninth highest grossing film of all time. Most importantly, it portrays black actors in a new light, instead of in bondage or fighting for their life in one of the many movements and associations created by and for black people in the years. Several historians, activists, and psychologists have praised the film for its representation and portrayal of black people as in-depth, three-dimensional characters. For example, historian Nathan B. Connolly wrote that the film tapped into a “500-year history of African-descended people imagining freedom, land and national autonomy.” For the black community, a movie that centers around black people in prosperity regarding their technology while still rooted in traditional practices allows us to be proud of our identity in a world where we are repeatedly punished for it.
Another, and perhaps underappreciated, one of Coogler’s directing career is “Fruitvale Station”, Coogler’s first feature-length film that also stars Michael B. Jordan that depicts the life and death of Oscar Grant, a man killed by two police officers in Oakland, California in 2009. This film wasn’t nominated for an Oscar or Golden Globe but it did win close to half of the 77 awards it and its director was nominated for, having major success at the Gotham Awards, NAACP Image Awards, and the Sundance Film Festival. Although this movie doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of Afrofuturism and superheroes like “Black Panther”, it does tug at the heartstrings with a subject that black people are all too familiar with: police brutality. It ropes you into Grant’s life and lets you see behind the closed door that the public doesn’t really see when cases of police brutality show up in the papers. It lets you become attached to him and feel the rage and only a portion of the immense grief that his family and the nation felt after his death.
A movie buried in Denzel Washington’s extensive filmography is “The Great Debaters”, which depicts a debate coach named Melvin B. Tolson that taught at Wiley College and fought to have his debate team on equal standing with other schools in the 1930s, a time where Jim Crow ruled with an iron fist. “Great Debaters” was almost completely looked over in awards season but is being recognized because it sugarcoats just enough to be considered PG-13 without taking the meaning away from the work as a whole. Washington doesn’t shy away from the vicious and murderous racism targeted at black people in America during that time, especially when black people trying to ascend the social ladder through education. It’s an hour and a half long reminder that black students in 2019 should be grateful and appreciative of the students, like those at Wiley College, that paved the way for us to excel in higher education today.
In a country surrounded by divisiveness and lies coming from all levels of authority, black people deserve to know that there are movies (along with other forms of media) that portray us as smart, capable, three-dimensional, and powerful people.

Posted Feb. 27

Applause and dirty looks define State of Union address

By Julia Latchana, Asst. Section Editor

The State of the Union address was filled with short talks of unity, long talks about what the Democrats should and shouldn’t do and building a wall.

But the two hours weren’t just spent with long talks. A lot of the time was spent clapping.

Almost everything that the President said was met with applause. Applause that only came from one side of the room. It was a bit of an overkill with the applause coming after almost everything he said.

Like, seriously it was okay for some parts of his speech like when he brought up the women of Congress. But continuously doing so just showed that they were kind of like mindless drones.

The president kept his streak of condemning the Mueller investigation. During his speech, he went from “let’s unify our nation” to “let’s stop these investigations”.

Two very different concepts, but then again his speech didn’t have to flow or make any sense.

One of the best things that came out of the speech was Nancy Pelosi. She was sitting behind Trump and almost the entire time that he was talking she was giving him dirty looks, almost as if she couldn’t believe a word of what he was saying.

Halfway, through the speech, Pelosi got so bored that she began looking through papers. But the best thing that she did was her clapping after Trump said: “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.” In fact, she made eye contact with Trump as she did her sarcastic clap and honestly it was the only good thing that came out of Tuesday night’s speech.

Posted: Feb. 6

El Chapo owes US (about $14 billion)

By Kimberly Scanlan, Staff Writer

Yes, America, there is a way Mexico can pay for the wall.

Sen. Ted Cruz introduced the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act on April 25, 2017. This act would allow the United States to use money forfeited to the government due to the criminal prosecution of drug lords (including Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Lorea aka El Chapo) in order to fund border security. Trigger warning: this security would include the wall.

On Jan. 3, 2018, the Texas Senator reintroduced the bill in wake of El Chapo’s New York trial. The government is currently seeking $14 billion from El Chapo due to his drug profits made by illegally crossing the border.

This is the bill the United States needs. This bill would allow the US/Mexico border to be secured without costing American taxpayers a dime. In addition to the fiscal benefits, the bill will be funded by (and “ironically” named after) El Chapo, the former Sinaloa drug cartel leader. So in a way, I guess you can say Mexico paid for the wall.

Yes, I’m aware that the Sinaloa drug cartel is active internationally, but El Chapo is a Mexican elite in the organization. In addition to this, his defense lawyer claims that the Mexican president was cashing out on cartel activity.

Aside from the obvious monetary gain the bill would produce, the fact that it makes an example of one of the horrible people that crossed the border makes it even better. This law would remind Americans of why we need border security.

Guzman has been accused of drug trafficking, conspiring to murder rivals, money laundering and committing weapons offenses. He is ruthless. He allegedly captured, tortured and killed drug rivals and anyone who got in his way.

The Sinaloa Cartel is involved in human trafficking all over the world. These are the kinds of people that are getting into America illegally. The narrative that doctors, lawyers and other contributing members of society are sneaking over the border is false.

If you can pass the vetting to get into the United States, then you can wait your turn. It’s criminals that can’t get in. We don’t want more criminals in the United States, but we are big fans of law-abiding citizens that waited their turn to take a shot at the American Dream.

Posted: Jan. 17

Shutdown worth the cost

By Kimberly Scanlan, Staff Writer

Throughout his campaign, President Trump promised many times, “We’re going to build a wall, and Mexico is going to pay.” While I, like most Republicans, am upset that the United States will not be receiving a $5.7 billion check from Mexico, I, as an American, am extremely thrilled that we have a president that is willing to fight for our safety.

I’m going to make this very simple: If you do not support the wall, then you do support illegal immigration. I cannot see it any other way.

If you are against an obstacle that would make it harder for illegal aliens to get into the country, then do you want them here? I for one do not.

While this statement may seem harsh to some, I believe that in order to achieve the American dream, you have to put in work. If you are willing to take the easy way out, willing to skip the line and willing to harm the country that you so badly wish to be a citizen of, then you don’t deserve to be here. We don’t need any more government leeches.

With that said, at first I was torn about the government shutdown.

As a small government conservative, I was ecstatic at first. A government shutdown? You mean to tell me that taxes will not be collected, welfare won’t be distributed and Congress will be forced to fix this issue in order to make their paychecks?

Wrong. Taxes will be taken from the hard-working to benefit the lazy. Rest assured, welfare will be delivered. Our favorite members of the swamp will be paid.

While none of this is exactly great, this is where I’m torn: lower-level government employees will not be paid. The little guy will be forgotten and with a parent who is one of these “little guys,” a Border Patrol agent, it is concerning.

The issue I have with this shutdown is not that the little guys are forgotten, it’s that the big guys are remembered. If this shutdown has to mean that taxes will be collected, welfare distributed, and the little guy forgotten, I’m fine with that, as long as the big guy is forgotten as well.

If we withhold the paychecks of the men and women who can not compromise in Congress, then the shutdown is a flawless move on Trump’s part. He is forcing the Democratic elites to choose between illegal aliens and U.S. citizens.

Unfortunately, the middle-class government employee is harmed in the process. With this in mind, these employees are not simply slaving away at their own expense. All of the employees will be paid in full at the end of the shutdown. This is fine for some families who have money saved, but for those who are living paycheck to paycheck, it is detrimental.

After weighing the options, I have concluded that while the shutdown may be an unfortunate circumstance at the time, in the long run, it will be good for the country.

It will set a precedent for future presidents, showing that following through on campaign promises is extremely important.

It will prove to the rest of the world that the United States is done being pushed around by illegal aliens.

It will secure our borders by keeping violent criminals, murderers, gang members and drug mules, who would have been denied legal citizenship, out of our great country.

The wall is backed up by facts as well. In El Paso a large fence was built, and it faced the same controversy as the wall does today. According to the New York Post, illegal immigration has dropped by 89 percent in the town. So yes, barriers do work, that’s why nobody is in your home at night after you lock your doors.

Another argument against the wall is the cost. According to the Heritage Foundation, illegal immigrants cost our government $150 billion yearly. That means that on average, we spend almost $411 million daily on illegal aliens. I recognize that the wall would not immediately eliminate these costs, but compared to that, $5.7 billion is nothing.

So yes, I applaud President Trump for holding out and standing strong. And yes, I realize that the shutdown harms some families. But yes, I do believe that a wall is necessary to ensure a safe future for the country, and if we need to shut down the government to reach a solution, so be it.

Posted: Jan. 10

We need more Hanukkah music


By Alexis Schatten, Managing Editor

Christmas music seems to have been plentiful since the dawn of time, and while it’s great for raising levels of festivity leading up to the holiday, it just doesn’t cover all of the festivities surrounding the month of December.

When you think of Christmas, there are at least 25 different songs that may come to mind, depending on your level of investment in the holiday. When you think of Hanukkah, you think of Adam Sandler’s The Chanukah Song, Dreidel Song, and Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah. Three songs. Pitiful.

Now, I’m not saying that we need to replace all of the Christmas songs with Hanukkah songs. We can all live together in harmony. We just need more Hanukkah songs. What else are the little Jewish kids supposed to bop to during the holiday season?

There’s plenty of Jewish people in today’s music industry, and this is a direct call-out post for them. Let’s make some latkes, light some menorahs and write some Jewish jams for us to sing throughout the year.

In the meantime, though, we’ll just have to blast the three songs we have, so I’ve linked one of Spotify’s two official Hanukkah playlists.

Posted: Dec. 12

Coming Soon: Ms. Pompano


opinionlightningjpegBy Kimberly Scanlan, Staff Writer

Mr. Pompano is a annual event held by PBHS. Students get the opportunity to watch fellow classmates make fools of themselves. What are some of the things that these competitors may have in common? They’re all funny, shameless, seniors and (duh duuh duuuh) male.

While most Pompano High students find the affair light hearted and unproblematic, some have seen past this injustice. Those with an IQ much higher than the rest of us have pointed out: “THERE IS NO MS. POMPANO!” The students who bring this up have a fair point. There is, in fact, no Ms. Pompano event. These warriors have called many of us to battle! Those of us who are “woke” know the truth: Mr. Pompano is all part of a system of oppression hand drawn by misogynistic, women-hating pigs who want women to do nothing but chores for the rest of their lives.

Many skeptics of the theory have tried to bring us down via hate speech. “I just don’t think girls would do it,” junior Khylin Bellhorn said. To that, all we can say is you are wrong. So. Very. Wrong. Even the atmosphere of the event is PG. Nothing even slightly inappropriate occurs. Everything said by the attendees focuses on the personality of each contestant. Even if a contestant is sexualized, women love being harassed. Never in my life have I heard of a female complaining of “catcalling”. It just doesn’t happen.

In addition to the family-friendly atmosphere, the attire is nothing but elegant. The senior boys strut their stuff in the classiest of clothing, including, and extremely limited to, bowties and Speedo’s. While saying women can’t flaunt what they got is extraordinarily traditional, we, the warriors for complete and total gender equality, realize that not everyone is as progressive and amazing as us. So, we were willing to compromise. If administration will not let us walk the big stage shirtless, we will regress into swimwear. This has to be okay because there is no anatomical or physiological difference between males and females at all. Gender is simply a word that defines nothing. We are all the same, so why doesn’t everyone see that?

I, for one, am thoroughly convinced that Ms. Pompano should occur. I have seen the light and intend to see the stage lights, as well. If Ms. Pompano doesn’t happen, then we have allowed a system of hatred and oppression to tie weights to our ankles and bring us down. If Ms. Pompano doesn’t happen, it means that Pompano Beach High School hates females. We cannot blame the failure of our precious Ms. Pompano on a lack of planning or participants; simply blame the system. Everything is an attack on women and we will not stand for it any longer!

JK Rowling needs to stop writing


By Julia Latchana, Asst. Section Editor

J.K. Rowling created one of the most successful and well-known series, but while it is a great series, the world of Harry Potter has its mistakes. One of them being the author herself.

Since the books ended in 2007, Rowling has decided to tie up some loose ends from the novel and has recently begun to add to old characters and create new things and it is about time for her to stop.

One of the things that she has been doing is trying to add more representation into the series in the form of sexuality and race.

In 2010, J.K. Rowling revealed that Albus Dumbledore was previously in a relationship with Gellert Grindelwald and was gay. The Harry Potter books never alluded to this, but it was suspected that seeing as the Fantastic Beasts series focuses on the Grindelwald era it was assumed that the relationship between the two characters would be shown.

However, director David Yates said that Albus Dumbledore’s sexualiy would not be “explicitly shown”, saying that “But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology, and each other.”

Yeah fans know that, but what’s the point of making the movie if you’re not going to be accurate or at least show any part of their relationship. Their relationship obviously affected the events of the story and not including it is just taking away a part of the story.

Throughout the novels, Rowling didn’t include many diverse characters and some fans feel that she is just trying to make her image look better by including diverse characters.

After the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald dropped, fans began to discuss the character, Nagini. In the Harry Potter series, Nagini is Voldemort’s pet snake that murders people for him.

Rowling took to Twitter to explain the character concept, stating that she is a Maledictus, a person that has been cursed and will eventually become a monster. But controversy has sparked over the actress that is playing her. Nagini is being played by Claudia Kim, a South Korean actress.

J.K. Rowling took to Twitter to defend the character saying “The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini.’ They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi.”

But this argument is flawed. Naga are semi-divine deities that are half human and half serpent and come from Hinduism and is actively used in the religion, which is not a mythology, and originates from India. Naga are not from Indonesian mythology, has nothing to do with any of the ethnic groups that she mentions, or is a part of a mythology.

Rowling, if you’re trying to get more representation by putting an Asian woman in the film, then do your research and put the right kind of Asian.

But I guess we as fans shouldn’t be surprised by this. Rowling has also written the “History of Magic in North America” which is riddled with cultural appropriation and demeans Native American culture. In the book, Rowling groups all the Native Americans as one and uses skinwalkers, which is a part of Navajo culture, as creatures for her universe.

Rowling stated that “The legend of the Native American ‘skinwalker’ – an evil witch or wizard that can transform into an animal at will – has its basis in fact. A legend grew up around the Native American Animagi that they had sacrificed close family members to gain their powers of transformation. In fact, the majority of Animagi assumed animal forms to escape persecution or to hunt for the tribe”. Traditionally skinwalkers are witches that disguised themselves as animals and are an active part of their culture, not just a legend.

Dr. Adrienne Keene, a Native American academic and activist, even called out Rowling on twitter saying “it’s not ‘your’ world. It’s our (real) Native world. And skinwalker stories have context, roots, and reality … You can’t just claim and take a living tradition of a marginalised people. That’s straight up colonialism/appropriation,” but received no response.

Rowling is taking active parts of different cultures and twisting them to fit her need. At this point, she is doing whatever she can to keep people hooked and waiting for more. J.K. Rowling is just making things up from the top of her head and isn’t putting any thought into it. She wants people to feel represented in her books, but it does the exact opposite. Every way that she’s tried to include more diverse backgrounds (whether that be race or sexuality), it has demeaned everyone that’s apart of said background.

The Harry Potter books were full of flaws and mistakes but it was good; however, by continuing to write and “tie up loose ends”, Rowling is just ruining it and needs to stop.

Posted: Nov. 28

It’s time to be thankful for Thanksgiving

By Alexis Schatten, Managing Editor

Every year, without fail, people will begin celebrating Christmas around Halloween, nearly a whole two months before the holiday. Halloween, which is a sacred holiday in itself, is rudely disregarded as of Oct. 21, when the Christmas music pandemic begins to rear its ugly head and the searches for “Christmas music” on Google increase dramatically.

To be perfectly clear, I have nothing against Christmas. I don’t celebrate it, but I’ll listen to the music and pay a visit to Santa’s Enchanted Forest and spread Christmas cheer in general, like any good human being would. However, I don’t start blasting Mariah Carey until, at the very earliest, after Thanksgiving.

Sure, Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated by as many people as Christmas is, but that shouldn’t mean that it should be cast aside like a toy you broke the day after you unwrapped it. The holiday is just as important and has just as good a meaning behind it.

Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is a time for family. So why shouldn’t we be just as eager to celebrate the holiday when it’s basically a giftless Christmas about a month in advance? The term “Christmas came early” ringing any bells?

There might not be any recognized anthems for the holiday, but that shouldn’t lessen the excitement surrounding it. There’s still plenty to get excited about regarding Thanksgiving: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the aromas of food that fill the air, and the shortened school week, to name a few.

So before you press play on your Christmas playlist, make sure you take a moment to be thankful for Thanksgiving and all of the great things that come with the holiday.

Posted: Nov. 21

Democrats win the house


By Julia Latchana, Asst. Section Editor

The time leading up to the midterm elections was a very irritating, but interesting ride. Slander and support were being thrown at all candidates, but by the end of election night, most states had their results and the country knew who was in power.

While the Republicans, unfortunately, still have control of the Senate, the Democrats now have control of the House of Representatives. This was a cause for celebration for the Democratic party because they finally have some power in a political landscape dominated by close minded old white men. Three House seats have yet to be declared as of Nov. 19, but it will not change the new majority as the House is currently made of 232 Democrats and 200 Republicans.

The Democrats’ winning the House of Representatives means that they can enact change that will be helpful to the common man rather than a small set of the population, otherwise known the white, rich majority.

The Democratic agenda includes plans to increase workers’ wages, better fund health care and address voting rights issues.

The Democrats aim to do what the Republicans couldn’t: actually help the American people. The new House majority wants to protect people with pre-existing conditions, protect Dreamers, create gun safety laws, and do something about climate change. They plan to address the real and pressing issues that Republicans have been calling “fake news” and help the people that have been wrongfully labeled as “dangerous criminals”, both of which would benefit this country greatly.

In addition to these efforts, the Democrats will be focusing on investigating President Trump.

The Democrats also want to look at Trump’s financial records, specifically his tax returns, collusion with Russia and the payoff of multiple women to keep them silent about extramarital affairs during the 2016 election campaign.

If it wanted to, the House could vote to impeach President Trump; however, this would not ensure that the President would be removed from office as that would be up to the Senate.

Of course, we won’t know what will actually happen in the House until they assemble in January, but the Democrats winning the House has President Trump and the Republicans scared, and rightfully so.

The Democrats winning the House may not sound so great for the Republican party and that’s understandable since they tend to resist change at every turn. However, it’s amazing news for the underrepresented populations of America and lets them know that they finally have the opportunity to be heard by the government who claims that it represents the American people, but rarely does.

Posted: Nov. 14

Death of the best social media platform


By Matthew Shanbom, Asst. Section Editor

Google Plus, a revolutionary social media platform, announced that they will be shutting down in Aug. 2019 after seven years of being online.

Google Plus introduced a feature called “circles” which were more in depth than any other social media platform out there. “Circles” allowed people to add their family, friends, and school friends to different circles and post just within that circle.. It also featured the ability to share the same post with more than one circle. This feature is ahead of Facebook groups which only post in one group or to everyone. This feature was too far ahead of its time to be enjoyed.

Google Plus also introduced the concept of Google Hangouts which offered free multi person calling. This prompted Skype to make their service free. Hangouts was later removed from Google Plus due to being fully developed and ready as a standalone product. The way that Google Plus was able to combine a full social media platform with video calling made it the best one stop shop for people who only have access to wifi. Google hangouts could not grab the audience to join Google Plus only for Hangouts which prompted the two to separate leaving Plus with only the social media aspect.

Unfortunately, Google Plus could not compete with the already established giants of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The features that made Google Plus great were mostly made into separate stand alone products such as Google hangouts and Google Photos.This left the platform as just a text and image sharing platform. All of these features combined created a social media platform that did not catch on. Google Plus was prompted to shut down due to reports of a data breach that exposed email addresses. Google has not announced any replacement for Google Plus.

Posted: Oct. 31

Does ‘Hello’ help?

By Delaney Staples, Assistant Editor

“Start with Hello Week,” a week dedicated to creating a socially inclusive environment for the students at lunch time and throughout the day, was implemented here Sept. 24-28.

It didn’t work.

“Even though we had a program to help us make new friends, people stayed mostly with their regular groups,” said sophomore Eden Wright, although she did mention having seen fewer people sitting alone that day.

The program was started by Sandy Hook Promise organization, which formed after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 with the purpose of lowering the threat of school violence, like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, by trying to eliminate social isolation.

“Start with Hello” works to help students interact by having a week where students wear name tags and try to sit with people who may be sitting alone, or simply sitting with different people in general. But did this really happen?

Teenagers — like adults — naturally arrange themselves into cliques. Because of this mindset, people find it harder to leave their cliques and speak to someone new or to be addressed by an “outsider” without feeling  annoyed or offended.

“For people that don’t need it, it’s just really weird,” senior David Dunham said. “The only way these programs are effective are if people want to, and a lot of times they don’t.”

The conception people have in their heads when coming up to someone who is sitting alone to begin a conversation, is that it will be awkward.

“It’s hard and weird to branch out and sit with someone else even though it’s what we should do,” Wright said.

Our generation is also growing up during a time with advancing technology. The majority of kids and teens have a phone or access to an electronic device.

“Kids are so absorbed in electronics, they haven’t learned how to deal with other people,” tech teacher David Holley said. “The studies have shown that social media has made people feel lonelier, more disconnected.”

“It depends on the people,” says Eden Wright.

“A lot of people don’t have home training,” Mr. Holley said, and because of this, kids will learn most social behavior outside of home.

The implementation of programs like these are “good in theory but not really in practice,” as Dunham said. The idea of creating a more socially inclusive environment to help others feel safe and accepted is great, and if the world could be like that, then school violence would certainly be less common. It isn’t that the world can’t be like that, but that the people on it choose not to try.

“Nice people are gonna be nice, not nice people are gonna be not nice,” Holley said.

And not everyone who sits alone is lonely. Some sit alone by choice, isolating themselves, and maybe that’s better for them, but what if one day that person in the back decides they want to come forward, but realizes they have no one to come forward to? The feeling can be crushing.

The change these programs do bring is subtle and gradual, if any at all.

“Better than not doing anything I suppose,”  Holley said. From his point of view, even if the mechanics of the programs don’t directly make an impact, the message being spread serves as a reminder. It serves as a reminder of what can be done and that it is possible to reach out.

All in all, these programs aren’t typically effective as the students aren’t always receptive or they choose not to implement them. “Start with Hello” barely made a dent into the rigid social structure of the high school environment, but there are other things that can be done.

The way to theoretically eliminate school violence is to create open channels of communication between people. Make it so that if someone sees something, they can say something and speak up. A way to do this would be for teachers to take a more active role by making themselves open to the students and stopping bullying or negative conduct when any signs appear.

“Like Mr. Nagy doesn’t take any of that. If he sees even a student messing with another student he shuts that right down,” Dunham said.

Another way could be to have small groups. Small groups would be something akin to mentoring but less guided and freer. Groups of students, perhaps from various grades and ages, would meet once a week or every other week to talk about the stresses of school and/or home life.

The primary repercussion of this would be that “you’re still forcing people to sit in a room and talk,” as Dunham said, when conversation should come more naturally and happen on its own. But teens struggle to do that, whether it be because electronics have damaged us and limited our knowledge of social navigation or be for fear of not getting acceptance and validation. Perhaps what is needed is for us to be forced to talk to each other. Force us to notice each other.

Yes, that’s what Start with Hello Week was trying to do, though it didn’t truly work. Perhaps if more staff and students had supported it or tried to monitor it,, it would have made a bigger impact.

The creation of a more open environment could be critical to making social isolation a rarity rather than a common thing. But it takes more than a week.

“This is how school shootings happen, like, nobody talks,” Wright said.

People need to talk with each other and feel safe doing so, but “Start with Hello” didn’t do much but create a small ripple in a storming sea.

Posted: Oct. 28

Keep Volunteering Voluntary

By Kimberly Scanlan, Staff Writer

To graduate from Pompano Beach High School, students are required to have at least 40 hours of community service. This is done in an effort to promote lifelong service from the students. But recently studies have shown that schools that do not require volunteer work, but rather provide opportunities for students help their community, get a better response. The AASA states that the mandate promotes real life learning, but many students partake in activities that aren’t anything new, such as grading papers or cleaning. Wouldn’t it be better to implement more technical skills in the classroom, instead of expecting students to find volunteer jobs that would teach them skills needed in the workplace? Another point that is made by many is that once the volunteer work is mandated, its no longer volunteer work. The only thing that’s actually voluntary is what you do. The work becomes mandatory and students associate it with things they don’t enjoy doing. Once the work becomes a chore students are less likely to do it later in life. This may be why the schools that do not require it get a better response. The AASA has also acknowledged that the mandated community service could pose as an obstacle for students to complete traditional school work. That is a major issue seen at schools like PBHS where the workload is far above average. When students have to volunteer and complete massive amounts of school work, one is going to be pushed to the side. Either student will use the mandated work as a way to experience work they’re interested in and their grades will drop, or, they will end up doing volunteer jobs that require little effort and don’t expose them to real life situations. The truth of the matter is that volunteer work should be what it’s called, voluntary.

Posted: Oct. 24

The freshman invasion is real: Class of 2022 too immense to ignore


By Emily Powell, Web/Business Editor; and Madison Tappa, Asst. Section Editor

On the first day of school, well over 300 students — 350 to be exact — could be identified by their lanyards. The school had distributed lanyards to the incoming freshmen to make it easier for the rest of the high school body to identify that the freshmen class is just too huge.

Even Ralph Marchand, a science teacher who doesn’t even have to handle the freshmen, is already annoyed at how gigantic their class is.

“Freshmen, go home,” Marchand said on the freshmen invading the campus. “Don’t come back.”

If only the administrators had known that the Freshmen Invasion they had put together before school would turn into an actual freshmen invasion. They are everywhere to a point where the rest of the high school body is tired of them already.

“They’re annoying,” sophomore Jacob Giraldo said.

Other students do not have as many problems with the amount of freshmen who invaded the campus. When asked her thoughts on the size of the freshman class, junior Weronika Silva responded with an utterly brave remark.    

“Half of you guys are going to get kicked out anyways,” Silva said.

Some students have complaints on the actual size of the freshmen themselves.

“Why are their backpacks bigger than them?” sophomore Fabiana Ungaro said.

Others had comments on how the freshmen haven’t even grown an inch since middle school.

“Why didn’t you grow from middle school?” sophomore Niamh Mulroy said.

There were also some students who believed that the freshmen were still in elementary school.

“How did you skip five grades so fast?” sophomore James Hurst said.

After hearing about all of the satirical comments the upperclassmen had to say about them, the freshmen took the chance to retaliate, albeit mostly anonymously for fear of reprisal.

“They seem snobby and stuck-up in their own world like they rule everything around them,” one anonymous freshman said.

“Sophomores act like seniors,” another anonymous freshman said. (Yeah, we don’t know what that means either.)

“Whenever a sophomore or junior looks at me, they look at me like I’m contagious or like I have Ebola or something,” yet another anonymous freshman said. (Not sure how that’s an insult, but whatever.)

“They’re older, so they’re gonna die faster,” freshman Danielle Scott said. (Burn!)

One other freshman didn’t mind having the upperclassmen around.

“They’re cool,” said yet another freshman who wished to remain anonymous for fear (of what we’re not sure of).

Some other freshmen are fine with the way the upperclassmen treat them. Want to yell “Go home, freshmen!” at the pep rallies?

“I wanna go home,” freshman Christenn Loney said.

“Isn’t that how high school is supposed to work?” yet another anonymous freshman said.

Despite all of the mean comments from students and teachers, literacy coach and freshman class advisor Ann Wayland-Cook decided to welcome the freshmen.

“Freshmen are breaking down the doors to get here because they heard that Pompano Beach High School has a caring, supportive, and challenging environment,” Wayland-Cook said.

Posted: Sep. 25

Time to make a difference

Graphic by Kristina Latchana

As we students all anticipate the end of the school year, and some of us prepare for our next endeavors at college or in the military, we reflect upon our high school experience overall. What is different about us, about this year, is what we have gone through together as a school and community. While many of us don’t realize it, everything that has happened this year will change us forever as individuals, as a community, as a generation.

As individuals, a community and a generation we have endured racial conflict, political injustice, the Stoneman Douglas shooting and much more, yet we remain stronger than ever.

Many of us have realized our values through these traumas we have faced. Too many of us lost friends this year, whether it was alumnus Andrew Coffey in October or one of the 17 killed in Parkland on Feb. 14.

As a community, we have leaned on each other and picked each other up in the face of tragedy and walked away stronger, fighting for what we believe in. We have organized rallies, marches and protests, we have made our voices heard and we will not stop until society has corrected injustice.

As a generation, we have to pave the way for the future. We have to begin thinking about those who come after us, our children and the next generation. We have to make sure that, for their sake and for our sake,  we make a difference in this world.

As individuals, a community and a generation, we have endured more than anyone should. One person killed by hazing or a school shooting is too many. These losses will affect us for the rest of our lives, and we need to let them. We need to not be numbed, but feel more from these losses. Let your life be changed by these events, and begin to make a difference.

As we move into the summer and the next school year, no matter what our futures hold, we must take pride in what we have gone through, where we came from,  embrace the changes we faced this year and make those whom we have lost proud.

Posted: May 17

Trump’s gone rogue: U.S. should stay out of Syria


By Julia Latchana, Asst. Section Editor

A humanitarian crisis does not need more violence, and the Douma chemical attacks did not need to be met with missiles.

Bashar Al-Assad regime’s chemical attack on April 7 killed about 70 people through chlorine gas and sarin, both nerve agents.

President Trump’s response was to attack supposed chemical warehouses with missiles, something that Trump did last year. Yet missile strikes have done little to deter future chemical attacks.

Assad has been using chemicals on his citizens since 2013, when an attack killed seven people.

Trump’s 59 missile strikes last year did little to deter Assad’s chemical weapons program, which has still managed to attack Syrian civilians, so why continue to attack a regime that will continue to dust themselves off and develop these weapons?

Because it is the only thing that the United States is willing to do.

While the U. S. government is OK with using millions of dollars on means of war, only 11 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the country since the beginning of this year, according to National Public Radio.

Trump claims that he wants to save the Syrians from the “monster” (Assad), but he doesn’t want to let them into the country and has tried numerous times to ban all immigrants from Muslim nations.

To those that say that the strikes are an attack on the regime, you are wrong. The attacks are on the Syrians.

Assad is killing Syrians and the world’s response is to go and bomb the country. Our solution to solve a humanitarian crisis is to cause more threatening situations, way to go!

Trump, however, did have a personal agenda when it came to striking the country.

On April 11 Trump tweeted that “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’’

However, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, wanted approval from Congress before attacking Syria, an approval that did not happen, thus violating the War Powers Act.

Trump made the announcement on the night of April 13, and by the morning the U. S.public was told that the strike went off without a hitch. But it didn’t.

Russia and Assad shot down some of the missiles before they hit their intended targets, and it is unknown as to whether or not the strike hurt civilians. Also, by morning the regime was seen celebrating in the streets. This doesn’t seem like the response Trump was hoping for.

Perhaps the regime wanted the United States to strike back, but Trump wanted to prove that he wasn’t all talk.

Now I am not saying that Syria doesn’t need help, but barraging the country with missiles will do nothing of the sort. Do you want this situation to turn out like Vietnam, Iran or Korea, turning against us at every turn?

Missle strikes have done little to daunt the Assad regime, so why continue to attack the regime with them when they will continue to attack their civilians?

The seven-year Syrian Civil War needs to be put to an end through diplomacy, not weapons.

Posted: May 9

Same crime, same time: ID enforcement necessary


By Maria Suarez, Asst. Section Editor

Students have always known they must wear their IDs on campus at all times. It’s clearly written in the Student Code of Conduct, but it wasn’t enforced anywhere near as much as it has been recently until this school year.

Now for a regulation to be forced upon students so soon, it takes time for students to get accustomed to it. Still, it is fair to punish students with detention simply because on the one day they accidentally forgot it.

Granted, procedures to punish a student without an ID have been shifting.

Junior Madison Philips was caught not wearing her ID and instead of getting punished with a detention, she got a visitor sticker and received a warning.

“I came to school late and when I was getting my late pass, since I didn’t have my ID, they sent me to the front office where I had to sign a paper and they gave me a visitors pass,” Philips said.

Junior Giovany Suarez, who also didn’t have his ID, paid $5 to avoid receiving a detention. Suarez was given the options to pay $5 for a new ID and a visitor’s pass, or call home to have someone drop off his ID; if not, he would receive a Friday detention. Both students were caught with the same crime, but their penalties were different.

Holding students in the front office simply because they didn’t have their ID causes them to be late to class, like senior Luiza De Rezende, who tweeted: “So I missed 30+ minutes of class because I forgot my id today… yes, that makes sense.”

Giving detentions on Fridays also interferes with students who have to go to work on Fridays, like junior Brinya Kydd, who received a detention but didn’t serve it because she had work.

Although the specific consequences still need to be consistent and fair, the overall shift toward strictness should be appreciated.

Campus monitor Jamesey Stone stressed why students should understand the importance of the IDs.

“Wearing your ID helps us identify you,” Stone said. “First of all, we don’t know all the freshmen, juniors and seniors; they help us identify our kids. Kids have to understand that whatever profession you choose in life, they’ll require you to wear an ID badge. So why not get used to wearing them know.”

This year security is focusing on getting all the students into the habit of wearing their badges, because next school year new technology will be introduced that will require students to wear their IDs.

“We have iPads and programs that scan the barcode of a student’s ID and lets us know what class they’re in,” “Stone said.

Micro-tech specialist Ivonne Coronado recognizes that consequences need to be sensitive in order to be effective.

“They’re revising that because we don’t want you guys to be out of class and late, so they’re starting this week a new procedure that is the same as the dress code,” Coronado said.

On April 30, new procedures were in place, according to front office secretary Erika Rodriguez, who assists the security in administering the punishments. Students will sign to acknowledge a first or second warning before being issued a detention for their third infraction.

“With everything that’s happening in schools these days, that’s the best way,” Rodriguez said. “At least with their ID, they can identify students from our school or not because any young person can walk in, but if they didn’t have an ID, we can recognize it.”

As long as the new procedure is applied consistently to all students and stays in place long enough to evaluate its effectiveness, I’m all in favor of it.

Posted: May 7

Trump’s right: US must stand up for those who can’t


By Jamie Black, Web/Business Editor

Politics isn’t simple, especially when mixed with emotions, but saving the lives of innocent civilians is very simple. With this in mind, there should be no debate over helping the civilians of Syria.

For the past seven years, the civilians of Syria have become victims of Bashar Al-Assad’s tyrannical and oppressive presidency (his presidency lacking true validity considering the consequences the citizens would suffer if anyone else was elected). In those seven years, a proclaimed civil war has taken the lives of many people in Syria, most being civilians that Al-Assad killed in order to try and stop the rebellion taking over “his” country.

Four hundred thousand. That’s how many people have fallen victim to the Syrian Civil War. Considering the value of human life, why should the United States sit on the sidelines as innocent people die? We cannot remain neutral in times of crisis, so I support the bombings of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons facilities.

The U. S. led airstrikes caused no mass casualties and were joined by allies France and Britain.

Facts aside, if someone asked if you could stop a genocide would you really say no? Would you have said no to preventing or lessening the Holocaust? Looking at the events of the past, it is so easy to say “yes, let’s stop these terrible events,” but why can’t we make it easier to support this in the present?

We can’t be passive and allow for history to take its course. We have the ability to change history. This is a genocide of the Syrian people simply because they don’t believe in what the government believes in, and we can’t allow genocide to happen.

People’s lives are in danger. Syrians are living in fear of their own government while some Americans question the bombings simply because Trump ordered them, a very selfish reason.

In 2013, President Obama was ready to take the same course of action as Trump and bomb facilities of the Syrian government but ultimately backed out. Yet Obama didn’t receive the same amount of scrutiny as Trump.

When looking at events like this, we need to pause our political biases and look at this event from an unbiased perspective, a perspective that puts what is right first. I don’t like Trump, but I support this action because it’s right to help the innocent people of Syria.

Posted: May 2

Students: Relax from setbacks

Graphic by Kristina Latchana

The words “stressed” and “tired” are almost an instant response when a student is asked how they are, yet we don’t find that to be all too concerning.

Often we hear adults saying that the lives of students are easy and that we students have nothing to be worried about, but that just isn’t the truth.

Eighty three percent of students, in a survey taken by the American Psychology Association, credit school for being a major factor for the stress they face, which isn’t surprising to most students.

The competitiveness of school has increased dramatically since our parents were in high school. No offense, but how many of our parents would be able to get into the colleges they went to with the current standards of those colleges?

Based off data taken from the University of Florida, for the 1997-98 school year, the average SAT score for those admitted ranged between a 560-670 in verbal (reading) and a 580-680 in math. In 2016 those averages increased to 580-680 in critical reading and a 600-690 in math.

Stress isn’t all about the test scores. A student’s GPA has a major impact on their future and current stress level.

Using the 1997-98 v. 2016 data again, 20 years ago the average admitted freshman at UF had a GPA ranging from a 3.5-4.1, while in 2016 the average was between 4.2 and 4.5.

Besides good scores and a high GPA, most colleges expect rigorous coursework and an encyclopedia length list of extracurricular activities to give acceptance to a student, and once a student is accepted, there is no financial guarantee. Most students who aren’t millionaires have to start applying for scholarship after scholarship to pay for the ridiculous price of college.

The track to college is not easy one and causes a lot of stress on students, but we can’t allow the stresses of college prep and the rest of our current education in high school to ruin our lives.

Although our lives seem to be centered around school now, life is not all about which test you passed or what college didn’t accept you. Our lives will be so much more than that in such a short amount of time.

In 2018 alone we have seen so many tragedies, especially so close to home in South Florida. With these tragedies, we can see that life is short, and as cheesy as it sounds, we need to live like it’s our last day.

That said, don’t go do something incredibly dangerous or regrettable, but do something that makes you feel happy rather than stressed. Allow yourself a certain amount of time per day to just destress from your life.

If you didn’t relax and take time for yourself over spring break, do it today, even if it is only five minutes. Life is bigger than school.

Posted: Apr. 25

‘Best friend’ better than ‘cat lady’


By Maria Suarez, Asst. Color Page Editor

It’s no coincidence that dogs are called “man’s best friend” while “being a cat lady” is an insult.

Picture this, a dog’s average lifespan is about 10-13 years. One year for a dog equals seven years for you because dogs mature much faster. So a two-year-old dog is equal to a high school freshman.

Through the eyes of a dog, humans live for hundreds of years, and their owners are the center of their universe. A child will grow up with a little puppy and as soon as the child is a teenager, the dog will already start to develop grey fur and grow weak. The dog’s lifespan flashes in front of the owner’s eyes, and while the dog may grow weak, it sees its owner is still full of life. To the dog, its owner is literally its best friend for life.

Dogs are great companions. When arriving home, dog owners hear the barks of excitement when they stand outside the doorstep before unlocking the door, to be greeted by leaping hugs and wide grins showing off those pearly whites which are both threatening yet heartwarming.

Dogs don’t hide their love for their owners. A dog will demonstrate the same affection whether its owner was gone for five minutes or five days.

Dogs can be the best workout buddies. Dogs need exercise to stay healthy, and so do you, so why not combine the two?

Unlike cats, dogs enjoy going outside and being active. Jogging and walking can easily become a daily exercise for a dog owner. Cats prefer to stay inside and lie on top of furniture like couches

Yes, a comfy couch and a furry pet sounds like the perfect cuddle time, but there’s a time for everything and luckily, dogs are down for anything. Any extra time you want to spend with your dog is like a heavenly opportunity for them.

Also, it’s quite rare to see an owner walking their cat. A daily exercise for a cat owner might as well be searching around the home to find the cat, because cats are always wandering off somewhere and usually prefer alone time.

Dogs are also hard workers, helping humans in daily jobs. Dogs have special characteristics and abilities that allow for them to occupy human jobs. Service dogs are trained to help people with special needs.

Dogs have a great sense of smell, which allows them to be great first responders and serve as search dogs. Dogs are recruited and partnered with first responders by The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, a non-profit, non-governmental organization in California.

There are police dogs, which serve as investigators when hunting down criminals, illegal substances, explosives, locate missing people or find crime scene evidence. Dogs are selfless and in most cases dogs will put their lives after the lives of humans, without expecting anything in return.

Studies done by Purina show dog ownership can help those with mental health problems to recover and feel better, which is why there are special clinics with therapy dogs. In some cases, dogs have been taken to hospitals to accompany sick patients or recovering patients.

Dogs provide a sense of emotional well-being with the unconditional love they give, which is why they’re great company and comfort for people who live alone or have social problems. Studies have also shown that children with chronic illnesses often cope better with treatment when they have a canine companion.

In a recent study conducted by Takefumi Kikusui, an animal behaviorist at Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan, a group of dogs and their owners were brought together, then allowed to interact alone in a room for 30 minutes. The researchers measured both human and canine levels of oxytocin before and after and found that levels had increased when the dog and its owner spent a lot of time making eye contact. There was an increase of 130 percent in dogs, and 300 percent in humans. The same experiment was done with cats, rabbits, hamsters, snakes and other pets as well as farm animals, but in none of those other cases was the bond as strong and trust-based as it was with dogs.

Dogs are great, but they are dependent. Dogs depend on humans to bathe them, to feed them, and to get their daily exercise. A dog isn’t like a cat who can simply lick itself clean. Dogs need baths and they are time consuming.

Much like cats they need their owner to set the food out for them, although cats are known to hunt down mice to eat them or climb up trees to kill birds, or at least that’s what Tom & Jerry teach little kids.

A dog isn’t capable of putting its own leash on and stepping outdoors to walk itself. That’s why dogs wear dog tags because they face the danger of running away or getting lost. They require a responsible owner who has enough time to take them out for walks. When was the last time you saw a cat on a leach and it didn’t seem weird? That’s because cats have their litter boxes and don’t rely on walks to satisfy their needs.

A dog doesn’t discriminate. Count all the times you’ve been out in public or in a park and a dog peacefully walks up to sniff you, and half the times all they need is a little pat and off they go. In some cases, you may say that dogs are better than people.

Posted: Apr. 25

Dogs drool, cats rule


By Madison Steinkamp, Asst. Section Editor

Get a cat, life gets better. Well, it’s not exactly that simple, but it might as well be.

Cats cost less than dogs, cats keep you alive longer than dogs, cats are cleaner than dogs, and the most important information you’ll learn today, cat owners are smarter than dog owners.

A recent study by Carroll University researchers in Wisconsin found that when completing an intelligence test, “cat people” scored higher than “dog people.” Although they linked this to the environments that each perspective group generally stays in, cat people generally stay indoors, possibly reading, while dog people tend to be outside walking around more.

I can hear the dog people barking from here: “But dog people would healthier, ha on you!”

Well ha back on you because owning a cat reduces your chance of dying of a heart attack. The University of Minnesota did a study finding that cat owners were nearly 40 percent less likely to die of a heart attack than those who had never owned a cat.
But besides cat owners being smarter and the obvious benefit on not dying from a heart attack, cats are just better. Their food costs less and you buy less than you would
for a dog. and they don’t need toys, just an empty water bottle or a ball of yarn.

Cats are quieter, sweeter, and just plain better than dogs, no argument.

Posted: Apr. 25

Pineapple not too awkward for pizza

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Graphic by Maria Suarez

By Maria Suarez, Asst. Section Editor

The biggest argument used to be whether pizza was created by Italians, but it actually originated in the ancient times in the Middle East. History proves that the Greeks, Egyptians, Armenians, Babylonians and Israelites began by making flatbread in mud ovens and topping the bread with olive oil and spices, now known as focaccia.

It wasn’t until 1522, when tomatoes were brought into Europe from Peru, that the poor –and hungry — people of Naples found themselves placing the thought-to-be-poisonous fruit on top of their yeast dough, the first modern pizza.

After having found the answer to that problem, all other doubts and questions about pizza had been put aside, and the world of pizza had come to a peace.

The peace was interrupted when Gudni Johannesson, the president of Iceland, declared while taking questions from students at a school he was visiting that he would ban putting pineapple on pizzas. And much like a wildfire, a controversy erupted and all pineapple pizza lovers united to defend themselves.

As a pineapple pizza enthusiast myself, pineapple has all the right to go on as a topping. If tomatoes, which are also a fruit, can go on top, what can stop pineapple tidbits from joining the rest of the toppings list?

Pineapple tidbits add a touch of sweetness and savory in every bite. Pineapple as a whole is very healthy and is a source of vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber. Therefore, piling a couple of pineapple tidbits onto your pizza can make you feel a little less guilty about eating it.

Shockingly enough, according to a Huffington Post infographic, “The Top 10 Most Popular Pizza Toppings,” pineapple came in at ninth place, followed by spinach. If we allow mushrooms, which are neither fruit nor vegetable but fungus, to go acceptably on top of pizza, why can’t pineapples have the same liberty?

All it takes is an open mind and a hungry stomach to agree that pineapple isn’t as bad as you may think. Chef Anthony Carron of 800 Degrees Pizzeria, an opponent of pineapple pizza, gave in to the idea after receiving multiple orders of pineapple topping, one of the few ingredients his restaurant didn’t carry.

According to writer Chelsea Ritchel from The Independent, Carron now accepts pineapple only under one condition: no “garbage canned pineapple tidbits,” rather fresh ones that are hand-peeled and -diced, then tossed with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt before being roasted in a wood-burning oven until they are caramelized.

Still have a problem? To every problem there’s a solution. Pizzarias allow for pizzas to be split in half with the left and right sides with different toppings.

So for picky eaters out there, next time you’re going to share a pizza with a pineapple pizza enthusiast, you can either pick the pineapple tidbits right off your slice of pizza, or simply order pizza with half pineapple tidbits and the other with your preferred toppings.

That said, I hope we can all agree that dipping pizza in milk, which is an actual thing, is an utter disgrace.

Posted: Apr. 21

Don’t let Douglas become another statistic


By Jordan Brown, Section Editor

It’s been over a month since the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and media coverage of potential legislature or just general precautions to prevent another shooting from happening has slowed to a crawl.

In the weeks following the shooting, many Americans were fired up for change and ready to make history by pushing back against the lazy politicians and pushing forward for a change in legislation. But as more days passed, the more the fire extinguished. Newspapers stopped covering it, politicians introduced completely unrelated bills and proposals, and schools across the country got tired of all the students walking out of classes for peaceful protest.

America is known for focusing on something for a few days and then throwing it to the side to focus on something else that catches its eye, much like a hyperactive child. We, as students, have an obligation to make sure that America’s short attention span doesn’t turn to something else when we haven’t gotten justice for the 17 lives we lost in that shooting. We acknowledge and are grateful for the steps that have been taken towards the goal of justice for those families and our community. But that’s just it; they’re just steps. There’s much more that needs to be done and politicians are stalling because they think that we’re placated by the baby steps they’ve taken towards completing our goal.

Legislation regarding guns and school safety should’ve been changed when Columbine happened in 1999, but it wasn’t. Legislation should’ve been changed when Sandy Hook happened in 2012, but it wasn’t. Why? Because the media, politicians and ordinary citizens allowed it to fade away after just a few moments in the spotlight.

Ways to keep the conversation going is to continue to plan marches to your local city hall, contacting your representatives, and joining other schools’ activism. Douglas survivors Emma Gonzalez, Sarah Chadwick, David Hogg and Cameron Kasky use their immense social media following to plan, organize and advocate for the prevention of gun violence and for the safety of students around the country.

Thousands of people went to planned marches and walkouts nationwide in the past month because students like Gonzalez, Hogg, Kasky and Chadwick took action, standing up for what they believe is right. The march on Washington that took place on March 24, fittingly called March For Our Lives, grew from people marching to the nation’s capitol to people marching to their government buildings on every single continent.

We have to keep talking about it, we have to keep bringing it up, or else it’ll fade into the background and become another statistic. This time will be different, this time has to be different.

Posted: Apr. 10

If you want change, go vote


By Samuel Rosser, Staff Writer

Republicans in the state Capitol shot down a measure to ban assault rifles last week, and, on Feb. 26 Republicans in the U. S. Senate killed a bill to ban assault rifles nationwide. An AR-15 assault rifle is what Nikolas Cruz used to kill 17 innocent students, teachers and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

The president of the United States of America is sending his daughter, a fashion designer, to negotiate one of the most complicated international relationships the United States has ever seen on behalf of a nation of 320 million. That president has been under investigation since day one of his administration. Republicans have control of the White House and a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and yet, they struggle to legislate effectively.

Republicans have broken promises, lived under constant scandal and failed to make anybody besides the wealthiest Americans’ lives better. It’s time to vote them out.

Democrats harbor a 9-point lead in the generic congressional ballot, which is simply a choice between a Republican or a Democrat, according to Real Clear Politics. Donald Trump’s approval rating is hovering in the high 30s to low 40s, and the respected statisticians and political operatives at FiveThirtyEight think there are a whopping 18 gubernatorial races Democrats can pick up from Republicans this year — including Florida.

None of this can be done, however, if our generation does not go vote. Our generation is socially liberal, we believe the climate is changing because of human action and we favor higher taxes on the wealthiest among us. However, we’re infamous for our laziness. You might wonder what we’ve done to deserve that label, but they’re right.

We don’t go vote. In the last midterm election, only one out of six citizens 18-29 voted. Only 16 percent of our generation voted. Sixteen. Comparatively, half of our grandparents’ generation voted, and our grandparents make up roughly the same percentage of the electorate as we do.

I know I’m not the only one who’s been sitting at the Thanksgiving table sitting quietly while our nearly senile grandfather goes on about the “good old days.” Well, our senile grandparents still get to vote, and they have nothing better to do on a Tuesday in November. Well, we get to vote too. So go and vote.

Posted: Mar. 6

PRO: Gun control can save lives


By Alexandra Griffin, Editor-in-Chief

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The preamble to the Constitution clearly states the purpose of the document.  In light of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas on Feb. 14 and the eight other school shootings in the first six weeks of 2018, the Second Amendment is no longer upholding this purpose.

A “more perfect Union” is not one where innocent children get chased down and killed by their disturbed peers. To “establish Justice” for those fallen is not “sending thoughts and prayers”. To “insure domestic Tranquility” is not having kids’ best friends shot in front of them in a “safe space.” To “provide for the common defense” is not allowing a person who is barely an adult and is known to be disturbed to legally purchase a semi-automatic war weapon. To “promote the general Welfare” is not ignoring the voice of the people and ignoring our cries for gun control. And “the Blessings of Liberty” are not to send eight-year-olds to school fearful that a school shooter or armed teacher will shoot them.

While I respect the Second Amendment and our forefathers who created it, times have changed. The Second Amendment is just that, an amendment, and it wouldn’t be the first time that as a country, we amend the constitution. If we can get rid of Prohibition, we can enact gun control, not banning guns, gun control.

We need mental health checks other than a simple checkbox on a form that does not need to be verified by anyone. We need a ban on assault rifles. We need to ensure that there is not another person that has their life ripped away from them while sitting helplessly in school.

As students, we cannot sit by idly. We must be the difference. If we want change, we must be the ones to make it. We must join forces with our peers at MSD and fight for our lives, for gun control.

Write your representatives, senators, and president, walk out for school organized walk-outs, march for your life on March 24 in cities all over. Be the change we want and need.

Posted: Mar. 5

CON: Controlling guns means controlling the people


By Jessica Buchanan, Managing Editor

The Second Amendment was created with the security of our people at the forefront of the framer’s minds. Since its passage in 1791, the amendment states “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

In the wake of a tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, community members took immediate action to enact gun control laws on the general population, specifically the banning of automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles. However, gun control and an assault weapons ban will not prevent the problem from occurring again.

The definition of a well-regulated militia then and today might have changed but the foundation is still there. A well-regulated militia should allow for any legal U.S. male or female citizen to obtain a firearm as long as they pass the required background checks and are of legal age.

It is the “right of the people,” the individual person, to own a firearm, not the state or national government to declare what they think is best.

As citizens we are held accountable for our own personal safety. By placing gun control laws on those that want to obtain a firearm, their right automatically becomes infringed upon and the Second Amendment is no longer upheld.

I do not disagree with the fact that Nikolas Cruz in the Douglas shooting should not have been able to get his hands on an AR-15, with the mental condition he was in, but when it comes right down to it the AR-15 did not pick itself up and pull the trigger. It took Nikolas Cruz to commit that action and he along with the failure of law enforcement and his guardians to take away his guns should be held solely responsible. It takes a person to fire a gun, not the gun itself.

Therefore the issue does not lie in an assault weapons ban. The assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994-2004 did little to deter crime, which is why it was not reinstated when it expired. According to the FBI murder weapon statistics, only 3 percent of firearm murders were committed using rifles.  If an assault weapons ban were to be passed by legislation it would essentially only be preventing 3 percent of murders by firearm.

If the right to bear arms is torn away from the citizens of the United States, then there will be no way of protection when another incident happens.

The truth of the matter is that if someone wants to get ahold of anything illegal, then they will find a way to do it. 1.2 million Americans each year are arrested for possession of drugs according to the Drug Policy Alliance, and millions more go unaccounted for. Possession of an illegal firearm would not be decreased due to legislation.

Laws such as an assault weapons ban and increased age to own a firearm take guns away from those who respect and abide by the law. Criminals who are intent on doing harm will find a way to obtain a firearm whichever way, leaving a country where its citizens are defenseless.

There have been countless times where individuals with a concealed weapons permit have been able to save the lives of many. On average it takes 11 minutes for police to respond to an emergency call.

What can happen in 11 minutes if a gunman opens fire in a school, mall, movie theater or anywhere and no one has protection from an equally powerful weapon? How would the situation be different if just one citizen had a gun?

In 2014, a psychiatric patient opened fire on his caseworker, psychiatrist and several others in the office. This psychiatric patient shot and killed his case worker, but was shot himself by his psychiatrist carrying a concealed weapon.

The patient had 39 more bullets of ammo, but was stopped because that one person had a weapon.

“If the doctor did not have a firearm, (and) the doctor did not utilize the firearm, he’d be dead today, and I believe that other people in the facility would also be dead,” Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said, according to National Public Radio.

We need to stop talking about gun control laws and start taking action to make areas safer. Mass shootings have repeatedly occurred in gun-free zones. According to Crime Prevention Research Center, 98 percent of all mass shootings occur in gun-free zones. Las Vegas, Pulse nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, four of the deadliest mass shootings, have all occurred in gun-free zones. Now the shooting at Douglas has occurred in a gun-free zone.

Disarming people is like taking a leg from a gazelle thinking the cheetahs won’t attack it anymore because they know it’s an unfair advantage. Predators prey on the weak. Gun control laws will indeed make it harder for people to obtain firearms, but they will inevitably make it easier for those who obtain guns for malicious purposes to kill the vulnerable, powerless and those that obey the laws.

Posted Mar. 5

Clean campus breeds ignorance


By Madison Steinkamp, Asst. Section Editor

I have a theory. My theory is that no one a part of administration ever ventures down Sixth Street (the road our buses drive down to get to the bus loop). Why?

Well, have you ever ventured down that road and looked at the ground? Have you ever walked to the junior parking lot? If you have, you know exactly what I am going to be talking about. The trash. Not just trash in general, which is plentiful, but the beer bottles, beer cans and liquor bottles, all empty but still on our school.

Of course, our campus is an open campus and does host events besides school events, but doesn’t it seem ironic that we advocate a drug-free school (which does include alcohol), yet show no enthusiasm to clean our school to replicate the drug-free mentality?

I walked from the junior lot to the bus loop today and counted two beer cans, three beer bottles and two liquor bottles, one of which was directly next to the elementary school fence.

I’m not blaming our students or staff for bringing the alcohol onto our school grounds. I understand that it may have been brought in another way, but what I am complaining about is how it continues to lie there.

How helpful is an assembly advocating against drunk-driving when you just walk to your car and see our school littered with alcohol? Everything the student just listened to in that assembly is forgotten. If there is alcohol on my school grounds, why can’t I drink it?

By leaving alcohol containers on the ground, we aren’t just littering the earth, we are littering minds by, in a way, promoting the consumption of alcohol.

This littering is not the fault of our janitorial staff, nor the administration, nor the students, nor the city. Maybe it is the city’s for not cleaning up after hosting an event, maybe some students do chug a beer before school and litter it, maybe the administration does not walk to the junior lot to see this, maybe the janitorial staff thinks that path is the least of their worries, but it’s not just one person or one group’s fault; as an entity we all should be working to better our school, we all should care about the trash on our grounds, we all should do something about it.

Regardless of who brought the alcohol onto the grounds, it needs to be picked up, and I don’t care who does it, just clean the path.  

Posted: Mar. 5

Fresh start: Ninth-graders describe transition, pan mentoring


By Emily Powell, Web and Business Editor

A quick survey shows that the class of 2021 have different views on their transition from middle school to high school, most describing it as “somewhat positive” with “little help from their mentors and staff.”

Graduating from middle school is a great achievement, but as we continue to grow and transition, school can become more difficult. The school becomes bigger, the work gets harder, the teachers seem stricter — it’s basically a fresh start.

As a freshman two years ago, my transition was kind of tough, considering I was the only one out of my middle school friend group to get accepted into Pompano. I had no friends and didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing. I had to fend for myself until things finally fell into place.These freshmen, though? They are persistent; they just may survive high school.

Kyle Zahn was the only freshman out of the groups surveyed to say that his transition was very positive. Zahn attended Deerfield Beach Middle School and was a part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which he thinks helped with his transition.

“The workload was about the same as this, and the IB program really helped me prepare for Pompano Beach High School,” Zahn said.

Other freshmen saw their transition differently. Paul Spade, for example, was one of the many freshmen who described their transition as somewhat positive, mentioning how useless the mentoring program is in easing this dramatic change in their lives.

“Mentors don’t really do anything, and they can’t relate to us,” Spade said.

Jon-David Delcastillo had similar views as Spade, also describing his transition as somewhat positive in spite of the mentoring program.

“Freshmen don’t really want to do anything at the mentoring sessions,” Delcastillo said. “Mentors do nothing, anyway.”

The current freshman class feels that they have not been given enough help to ease their transition into high school, but the mentors have their own opinions on this. They feel that the freshmen don’t want or won’t ask for their mentors’ help despite having it. Mentors feel that there is room for improvement with the program, though, and shared their thoughts on the matter.

Senior Katerina Argianas suggested that the program would be more effective if mentors were assigned to fewer kids than they’re assigned to now, such as providing one mentor for two kids instead of one mentor for five.

“Doing this would allow more people to communicate with each other,” Argianas said.

Junior Matthew Narkier also recommended that there should be fewer activities and more bonding between mentees, since they’ve agreed that the program is “boring.”

“We should be able to talk to them and hang out with them,” Narkier said. “I feel like they kind of feel like it’s more of a ‘work thing’ whenever we see them because they’re always doing little projects and stuff like that.”

So, freshmen, help is here for you. Please, don’t be afraid to ask!

Posted: Jan. 31

School vouchers for bullied students to compound bullying problem, not solve it

By Alexandra Griffin, Editor-in-Chief

A proposal reached the Florida Senate on Jan. 23 which would use taxpayer money to provide bullied students with school vouchers so they can attend private school. Doing so will not only compound the bullying problem, but will be costly to the state budget, a budget that already under-funds public schools.  

While bullying is terrible and I hope that nobody ever has to go through being bullied or feels like they need to be a bully, if you are involved, it’s not a problem from which you can just run away as the legislature proposes. Confronting bullies and pushing through the experience promotes the problem solving and collaboration techniques that life in college and the workforce demand.

The bill teaches students who are bullied that they do not have to live in an environment that is hostile or unfriendly when the legislators making the bill know first hand that people can be cut-throat and unkind. An elected official cannot just resign from office after he loses an important debate or is called out by an opposing party member, so why propose we train the next generation to do so?

Letting victims of bullying run away from their bully/bullies also makes the perpetrator(s) more likely to target another student. If culprits are never chastised or never realize that their actions are wrong, how are they supposed to fix them?

Additionally, by approving the bill the state government would be throwing its support at private schools that do not pay their teachers as much, do not have a better education than public schools and do not necessarily have a better solution to bullies than public schools have. In fact, out of the top 10 schools in the state only a third of them are private according to the U.S. News and World Report.

The solution is easy: allocate those funds from the school vouchers to programs that help to make students’ voices heard. There is no way to fully outlaw bullying without taking away freedom of speech, but students will feel better if they have someone to talk to and someone to help them solve the problem in a safe and healthy manner.

Posted: Jan. 30

Parents pressure for peak performance

By Emily Powell, Web and Business Editor

A survey of 80 students showed that most parents get mad when their children get poor grades on assignments, even though a majority of students said they don’t feel stressed because of their parents’ feelings.

Parents want us to succeed no matter what we’re doing, whether it be playing a sport, having a job, you name it. That’s just what they do. Parents love watching their kids win their games or come home with a paycheck, but they especially love when their kids are excelling in their academic studies.

But sometimes the pressure is too much.

“When my parents yell at me because of my grades, it makes me feel like I’m not trying hard enough and think there is no use for even trying in school anymore,” junior Brinya Kydd said.

Many students would love to have Kydd’s grades, yet she still feels the pressure. But is that pressure healthy? Even the students whose unweighted GPAs fall below the magnet-required 2.5 will say that the conference with magnet coordinator Jeff Williams and their counselor has worked better than being scolded by their parents.

The students’ responses to the survey show ninth and tenth graders feel obligated to have “perfect grades” because of pressure from their parents. However, as the grade level of students increases, the students feel less responsive to parental pressure.

As we get older, the effectiveness of parental pressure decreases. So, parents, please, lighten up!

Posted: Nov. 30

Mass shootings, gun control

Change won’t come unless we embrace it

Graphic by Kristina Latchana

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — A man opened fire on a country music festival from his room in the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. This was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. He reportedly had upwards of 20 guns in his hotel room. His firearms were outfitted with scopes, tripods and attachments that converted his semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons.

He set up shop in his hotel room, schlepping his mobile arsenal with him. He loaded multiple weapons, broke open the window, aimed down the sight, put his finger on the trigger and had yet to commit a crime. The absolute insanity of that is baffling.

Nearly every member of Congress and our dear president sent their thoughts and prayers to those who lost loved ones in Las Vegas earlier this month. Their thoughts and prayers won’t prevent any equally as disturbed gunman from doing something eerily similar to the appalling actions of Sunday night.What will prevent senseless violence and dismay is a policy change.

Despite knowing how new regulations on guns can save lives, they refuse to make a change. The National Rifle Association has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on campaigns in the 2016 election cycle alone. The donations range from state legislatures to the highest office in the land. The candidate with the most money in his campaign war chest usually takes the bacon on Election Day.

Thus, the NRA has most of Congress’ metaphorical balls in a vice grip. None is going to risk losing NRA endorsement to challenge the status quo. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t applaud any such rabble rouser.  Change is on a horizon that we can’t even glimpse yet.

Their stubborn refusal of change represents our nation as a whole. In our relatively short history, we have resisted change at every turn. It took us way too long to outlaw slavery.

We need to stop resisting change at every turn. Our country’s foundation is the most radical change in history. We inspired the world to change in ways that were unimaginable at that point. The world has looked at us for the past century for leadership, and, right now, we’re failing. We were the shining city on the hill. But at this rate we might become the town dump.

Don’t resist change, embrace it.

Posted: Oct. 23

Pro-con: President Trump’s accomplishments

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Commander in change makes us great again

By Madison Steinkamp, Asst. Section Editor

The United States of America is a business, as corporate and cold as that may seem to refer to our country and home as, it is true. And in November 2016, when Donald Trump was elected president, it proved that the majority of Americans think so too. Unlike his competitor Hillary Clinton, Trump had no experience in the world of politics; he was never a governor nor a senator nor a mayor, but he did have the experience that matters: business experience.

Worth $3.5 billion according to Forbes, Trump knows how to run a company and profit from it, and that is just what he is doing for the United States. Although the world expected more change at a much faster pace, he was left with the ruins of America after President Barack Obama contributed $7.9 trillion to the national debt.

Housing prices are rising since Trump took office, according to CNN. As of June 2017, the average price for a home was a record $263,800, 5.8 percent higher than a year ago.

And although the trade deficit with China has risen, Trump has increased exports to Canada and Mexico.

Speaking of foreign countries, Trump ended Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but has given Congress six months to rewrite it until the undocumented “Dreamers” official lose their status.

Many people have slammed Trump for this decision, something that definitely shouldn’t be happening.

While many Americans are friends with and love Dreamers, we need to remember that they are illegal, undocumented immigrants, and we are Americans. While it may seem harsh to put ourselves first, in this unforgiving world, Americans must come first.

We need to fix our economy, our nation, our home before we are capable of housing others. And once we fix ourselves first, the next people we should let in are not undocumented illegal immigrants, but the immigrants who have applied for citizenship and are waiting in a line, not just hopping a border, a border that will be safer and better soon.

In order to prevent more illegal immigrants from coming in and destroying our economy and taking our jobs once again, Trump plans to create a wall at least 18 feet tall, with an unbreachable six feet below ground.

And while some Americans are completely against this wall, and others believe it will never actually happen, it will.

Two prototypes will soon begin construction in San Diego: one is a completely concrete wall, while the other is more mesh-like see and through.

And Trump’s plans to help America first are working as well. Since taking office, the unemployment rate is at an all time low from the past 16 years, 4.5 percent, according to CNBC. Over 1 million jobs have been created, and in the past 12 months, CNN reports, the average hourly wage has increased 2.5 percent.

So no, Trump hasn’t been systematically destroying our country since January — he has been running our country, boosting our economy, protecting Americans and changing our nation, some things that haven’t been done since before Obama went into office.

Liar in Chief fails to make any deals

By Sam Rosser, Asst. Section Editor

What has Donald Trump actually done? The short answer is this: a lot.

He’s announced that the United States would be pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords — a deal the United States was integral in making. He’s rolled back environmental regulations that President Obama set. He’s failed to corral Congress to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program. He’s escalated tensions with North Korea.

His crowning non-achievement? He’s failed, not once, not twice, but three times at one of his prime campaign promises: to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

He is supposed to be the best deal-maker in the country, and yet, he has failed to make a single legislative accomplishment.

Keep in mind, both the House and the Senate are controlled by Republicans. He can’t even make a deal with members of his own party. The supposed best deal-maker in America can’t make a single deal.

This failure could be for a host of reasons. Foremost of which, he has no political clout.

A majority of Americans have disapproved of his presidency since mid-February. And a majority of Americans have never approved of the work he’s doing. It’s hard to make a deal when nobody likes you.

And, to boot, he’s a pathological liar. According to PolitiFact, about 70 percent of what he states is either “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire.” Most recently, he lied about his new tax plan he’s rolling out. He claimed, falsely, that millions of small business owners and farmers would benefit from this.

Frankly, they won’t. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that, in 2017, only about 80 farms or closely-held small businesses would pay any estate tax.

He also claimed that he would reap no benefit from this new tax policy. Again, he blatantly spewed a lie with no regard for the truth. The New York Times found that he would save an estimated $1.1 billion if his plan became law.

Donald Trump has made hollow promises time and time again. When will the 38 percent of Americans who support him realize that he is a pathological liar that can’t follow through on his promises? 

Posted Oct. 20

Rocketman vs. Cheeto threatens WW3

By Julia Latchana, Assistant Editor

Maybe we should limit the child’s play going on the world stage. Or should I say playground?

Ever since Donald Trump began his presidency, he has been butting heads with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, most recently in a response to the dictator’s testing of nuclear weapons and the “success” of their hydrogen bomb testing.

As a response, Trump called Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man” during a speech to the United Nations on Sept. 19, trying to get the dictator to stop his nuclear testing and echoing his tweet on Sept. 17: “I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!”.

This then led to Kim to retort, with a variety of nicknames for Trump including “mentally deranged,” “dotard” and a “barking dog.” Trump then responded by saying that Kim is “obviously a madman.”

The North Korean dictator is not dimwitted, as we Americans would like to think.

Okay, so maybe Kim did feed his uncle to dogs so he could obtain power, but as the “grandson of a god” he can do whatever he likes, meaning that his loyal citizens may not give a damn, which is frankly good for him.

However, President Donald Trump might not have his hat on the right way.

Since taking presidency— and a little bit before that— Trump has done some questionable things without thinking about how they affect all the American people, and not just the business side of things.

I believe that this is a fight that neither side will be able to win. If Kim Jong Un were to shoot nuclear missiles at the United States, more than half of the country would likely be devastated. On the other hand, if the United States  strikes first, the ensuring war would destroy not only North Korea, but South Korea — a U. S. ally. That would then cause China, and maybe Russia, to throw a missile our way.

Either way, we’d be screwed.

If you were to take out all of the political factors attached to this dilemma, and a nuclear warhead were aimed and shot, the destination would be utterly decimated. The warhead wrecking the land when it hits its target is already big problem, but the after effects would be worse. Some living things will die as soon or right after it hits, but the living things that don’t die, will most likely get cancer or radiation poisoning.

Even if we didn’t have Trump as our current president, the threat of nuclear strikes between the two countries would still be possible because of the U. S. stance on North Korea and how we helped protect South Korea from invasion.

With Trump, the inevitability of oblivion seems to get closer everyday.

Posted: Oct. 20

Don’t blame Trump for neo-Nazis

By Jamie Black, Section Editor

Don’t shoot the messenger, but the riots, neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville aren’t President Trump’s fault.

Let’s get one thing clear here, I’m Jewish and I hate Nazis. If I truly believed Trump had anything to do with Nazis, I wouldn’t be writing this article.

With that put to rest, let’s address what occurred. On Aug. 11 , those against the removal of confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue protested in Charlottesville. By the end of the night, there was clashing among the protesters and the counter-protesters, who were in favor of the statue’s removal.

The fighting sparked outrage, and a lot of the outrage blamed Trump calling the attendance of neo-Nais and white supremacists “Trump’s America.”

News flash: Nazis and white supremacists existed before Trump was in power!

The KKK was formed in 1865, and the atrocities members have committed have not become forgotten, but it seems as if people think what occurred in Charlottesville was the KKK’s and the neo-Nazis’ rebirth.

Yes, the lynchings might have stopped, but it doesn’t mean the KKK disappeared. All they did was take off their masks and tell the neo-Nazis to hide their swastikas.

Maybe some can argue that Trump and Republicans are promoting or indirectly promoting neo-Nazis and the KKK suddenly appearing, but let me ask you this, when black men were getting lynched in the South, were there Democrats in office?

Yes there were. Neo-nazis and the KKK are not a partisan issue. I hope we can understand that these idiots with the brain capacity of birds are horrible, closed-minded pieces of scum, and we don’t need politics to figure that out.

Leave the politics out of this, and maybe instead ask a minority affected by these hate groups how they are. Do they feel safe? Or even, are they glad to be able to see the face behind the mask?

Trump is not the biggest issue here. Yes, he has said some things or tweeted things that might encourage hateful behavior, (this being documented and compiled together by the Huffington Post) but the neo-nazis and white supremacists are the real problem here.

Posted Sept. 27


  1. I love reading our newspaper because it provides us with interesting information about various topics within the school, and it allows us to connect with the gifted writers and reporters that make gaining the ongoing information possible. Thanks for all the effort, interesting covers and the detailed stories that fill our daily lives. Continue investigating, writing and just keeping us all INTERESTED in life’s many events.

  2. Love how dedicated the staff is to providing us with information. Go tornado times!

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