The benefits of learning a language

By: Joxery Mezen Camacho

At Highland, students must take two years worth of language credits. And many like to continue on for all four years.

But why should we be learning a second language? Just for fun? Or are there actual benefits besides being able to say you’re bilingual?

With that in mind, here are 6 benefits to learning a new language: 

  1. Improve Memory 

An experiment in the ‘Journal of Experimental Child Psychology’ found that learning another language improves your working memory. Learning a language takes effort from your brain, since you have to memorize a lot of new words and different pronunciations. This helps you get better at recalling information such as words, names, and facts. 

  1. Confidence in decision making

According to a research article in ‘Sage Journals’, if you think in a different language helps you make decisions because it reduces biases. This leads to less overthinking, making you able to make more decisions with confidence. 

  1. Helps improve your primary language 

When you learn a new language you’re introduced to more of the basics and specifics that languages are made up of — grammar, different tenses, and more that you don’t usually overthink since you’ve been talking for just about forever in your first language! This makes you more aware of these things in your primary language which decreases the chance of making mistakes. 

  1. Strengthens your mind 

Learning a new language is a great way to keep your brain working and growing! An article on Neurology.org states that learning a new language can reduce or delay Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, and dementia. The brain keeps getting stronger because of the new neural pathways that are created as a result of learning a new language. 

  1. Improve focus and attention 

When you learn a new language you tend to get good at switching from your primary language and the one you’re learning. This improves your ability to refocus, as well as focus on switching between tasks. 

  1. Opens more opportunities

Knowing more than one language can open new doors for you. It can be a way to beef up your resume, making you a more unique candidate for a job. It can also open up a different place to travel to, to study abroad in, or to live! A new language can also lead to new relationships with other people because of a similar goal or ability. 

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Endangered species: tigers

By: McKenna Nutter

The tiger is a very popular and well known animal. The large cat is known for its unique pattern. Despite having grown up knowing a bit about these animals, I was surprised to find out that these animals are endangered. Since learning of the tigers endangerment, it has crossed my mind that there are many species that are facing the brink of extinction while many people are unaware. The overall tiger population of approximately 3,900 has earned tigers a place on the ‘Red List of Threatened Species’. 

3 out of the general 8 species of tigers have now gone entirely extinct. About a century ago, there were estimated to be about 50,000 to 80,000 tigers inhabiting the wild. Female tigers will only give birth to two to four tigers every two years.

The growing human population has caused growing communities. Because of this, tigers have lost so much of their habitat to society.

Tigers are a natural predator, but they also fall prey to hunters. Tigers, for a very long time, were large targets for trophy hunting because they were big, dangerous and beautiful. Tigers were also largely hunted because in some cultures, they believed that tiger bones had healing properties, and could cure disease. Some tiger bones were even used in traditional medicines.

Livestock farmers also have a very big place in their endangerment. As we pushed back on their habitats they have lost a lot of their natural prey. We have built farms, and on those farms are animals such as sheep, cows, chickens, etc. Many farmers have shot tigers in order to protect their livestock, and while this is required to take care of their business, it has had a major impact on the species.

While we may never get the tiger population back to what it was before, there are still ways we can help them hold on. WCS, or the World Conservation Society, is an organization that conducts research on tigers, then uses that research to inform and teach communities local to tiger habitats about tigers. They also reach out to wildlife rangers and wildlife conservations to teach them about tigers as well. Donations to any non harmful research societies and wildlife conservation organizations can do wonders for not only tigers, but other endangered species. 

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The future of architecture

By: Grace Helmke

The human race has long been graced with creatives in all fields. We have been subject to artists who have shaped our culture without us even knowing. Architecture is one the least acknowledged fields of art, yet it contributes a great deal to the society in which we exist.

Architecture is the physical representation of a society. It reflects how we see the world, and how we see ourselves. That being said, what does the future hold for architecture? How will society shape our physical world into a reflection of our newfound values? 

  1. Smart cities 

Technology has become an important part of the lives of practically everyone in society. It’s part of our everyday lives. Smartphones are the keys to city life, providing information on any topic you could think of. It allows us information on healthcare services, access to transit, traffic, restaurants, and even provides safety measures and alerts. According to McKinsey & Company, smart-city strategies are about “Using technology and data purposefully to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life.”

Creating architecture built around the idea of increased technological use would significantly impact all aspects of society. Citizens would fight crime, and improve public safety, make daily commutes faster if smart-mobility infrastructure is created, deliver a cleaner and more sustainable environment through electric and more sustainable applications. 

  1. Vertical cities 

As our world’s population continues to rise, we will have to accommodate for the increase in the need for living spaces. Currently, over 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. This figure is expected to increase to 66% by 2050. Land will become scarce, especially if we continue to build out, instead of up. Creating vertical cities will not only provide a society that’s community based, but would expedite the goal of smart cities. 

  1. Bioarchitecture

Bioarchitecture is the blending of the art of architecture with biomimetics. It incorporates natural shapes to provide a structure that is essentially bioinspired, and eco-friendly. The architecture would mimic its surroundings to provide less of an intrusive existence.

This idea isn’t necessarily new. Ancient Greeks and Romans mimicked nature in their architecture. They incorporated leaf motifs into their structures. Frank Lloyd Wright was a pioneer in the bio architectural movement. He continuously pursued the idea of blurring the lines between his buildings and their landscapes. Even so, this movement will continue to increase as our society places a higher value on our own individual impact on the environment.

  1. Parametric architecture 

This type of architecture involves complex design and unique varieties of structures. It is characterized by free-from architectural concepts with sweeping lines, curves, and irregular shapes. This style presents as very futuristic. It rejects symmetry and uniformity, and instead creates works of art that vary in shapes, textures, and sizes. 

The future will indeed place a higher value on creativity and expression. This form of architecture will produce a work of art which can be doubled as living, working, and recreational spaces. It will produce a society free from the concepts of uniformity. 

  1. Space housing

Technological advancement in the field of aeronautics is happening at a rapid pace. We are closer and closer to achieving commercial space travel. And when the day comes that individuals may be able to travel to space for extremely low prices, an industry will likely emerge on other planets. Hotels and homes capable of housing humans in outer space and on other planets will develop. At first, these habitats will likely be inflatable. Bigelow Aerospace, a company in Nevada that specializes in space technology, has begun to produce these alternative housing solutions.

  1. Accessibility in architecture 

Hopefully, the future holds a greater opportunity for inclusivity. We do not currently have a society that’s built for all forms of life. One major issue for many disabled people is lack of adequate and accessible designs in public architecture. As we progress to become more aware of issues facing all walks of life, we will begin to develop ways in which everyone is benefited. 

Our future holds incredible opportunities for advancement. We may just become a society based upon inclusion, awareness, and desire for good. Our incredible architectural artists and talented technicians will no doubt help us to create a better world where our actions will be for the betterment of all. 

For more information, please visit: 

Xiaojie Tan a victim of an Asian hate crime

By: Hayat Osman

On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, Xiaojie Tan was one of eight people killed in an Atlanta-area spa shooting. Six victims of the shooting were Asian women. Since the beginning of COVID-19, the amount of hate towards the Asian community has increased tremendously.

Image taken from: https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/26/us/g eorgia-spa-shooting-victim-funeral-xi aojie-tan/index.html

Tan, her daughter, and her ex-husband, Micheal Webb, emigrated from China to the U.S. more than fifteen years ago. In 2004, Tan enrolled in nail school to get a license, and become a nail technician. Later on, Tan and her family moved to Marriettta, Georgia where she bought her first nail salon. Eventually, Tan sold the salon and bought two other spas, located in Acworth, Georgia, where Tan’s life was cut short.

The family members, and loved ones of Tan, all described her as a hard working woman who was living the American Dream. With her savings, Tan bought her mom a home in China, and financially supported her daughter through college.

According to Tan’s ex husband Micheal, Tan had been planning to retire soon. In the future she hoped to travel; she wanted to visit Alaska and Europe. Tan Xiaojie’s daughter shared that they were planning to celebrate her mother’s 50th birthday soon, but they never got the chance.

The tragedy of this event reminded many of the true virus of racism and hate in our society that took the lives of many. According to Micheal Webb. “We as a country should be ashamed. If only our country could learn from Xiaojie’s example, the violence and bloodshed and pain might stop.” We as a Nation must stand in solidarity with the Asian community. Stop Asian hate.

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NCAA men’s programs vs. women’s programs

men vs women weight rooms
Image taken from: http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2021/03/19/ncaa-womens-basketball-tournament-weight-rooms-facilitie s-unequal-orig-mg.cnn.

By: Charlie Fragrassi

As some people may know, the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament just finished up a couple weeks ago. Both men and women athletes were quarantined in different states and were playing in “bubbles” to ensure player safety. Athletes were given all the basic necessities, which included access to the weight room.

About a week into March Madness, pictures surfaced of the men’s weight room, which was spacious and had all the basic needs a weight room should have. Days later, a picture of the women’s weight room was posted to the public, and all they had was a rack of dumbbells and some yoga matts.

As you can imagine, this stirred up a ton of controversy with the NCAA and how they treat male versus female athletes. Many celebrities spoke on this matter, including Lebron James.

The NCAA received much hate for this and ultimately ended up giving the women not only a bigger weight room, but also better meals and the same amount of gear as the men’s teams were getting.

The NCAA needs to do a lot better job of treating their athletes, who bring in millions of dollars, and they need to give them a fair shot to perform as well as they are able, regardless of gender.

This is an example of how women’s sports can be treated as inferior to men’s sports. Although women’s basketball doesn’t bring in nearly as much money as the men’s teams, they should still be supplied with the necessities and equipment to stay healthy and get better, because at the end of the day they’re still athletes and they’re working hard everyday to get better at their sport.

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AstraZeneca vaccine concern

By: Alexandra Rimbu

Following a recent concern raised around thrombotic events (the event in which a blood clot forms inside a blood vessel), AstraZeneca offered its reassurance on the safety of its vaccine by conducting trials across the UK and EU in order to evaluate the vaccine’s effectiveness based on scientific evidence. The AstraZeneca report showed the vaccine to be 76% effective in preventing COVID-19 symptoms. Not only this, but the vaccine showed 100% efficacy against severe or critical disease or the need for hospitalization.

Reports from the UK and EU show that there have only been 15 events of DVT (deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the legs) and only 22 events of pulmonary embolism (a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked by a blood clot) reported among those given the AstraZeneca vaccine. This number is actually quite impressive, and it turned out to be much lower than would be expected to occur in populations of that size. 

Ann Taylor, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Around 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population. The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety.”

In terms of quality, there have been no confirmed issues regarding any batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine used across Europe, or the rest of the world. However, additional testing has, and will continue to be conducted, although so far, testing has indicated no reason for concern, according to officials. 

AstraZeneca has stated that they will always put the public’s safety first and that they encourage those invited to get the vaccine, and hopefully, we will soon overcome this pandemic.

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Atlanta Shooting

On March 16, 2021, Robert Aaron Long killed eight people at three different spas in metro Atlanta. Of the eight victims, seven were women, and six were Asian. At the time of the shooting, the question remained if this was a hate crime. The seven female victims that were killed are:

  • Soon C. Park: She worked at the Gold Spa. She was the oldest among the victims that were killed.
  • Hyun J. Grant: Ms. Grant, 51, also worked at the Gold Spa. She was a mother of two boys.
  • Suncha Kim: Ms. Kim, 69, worked at Gold Spa.
  • Yong A. Yue: She worked at the Aromatherapy Spa. She was 63, and was one of the last victims to be shot. 
  • Xiaojie Tan: She owned Young’s Asian Massage.
  • Daoyou Feng: Feng worked for Ms. Tan, and she was 44 years old 
  • Delaina Ashley Yaun: She worked at the Waffle House restaurant, the day she was killed, she was on a date with her husband

The male victim was:

  • Paul Andre Michels: Mr. Michels was a businessman, he was 54 years old and had moved to Atlanta 25 years ago.

The murderer, Mr. Long, was charged with eight counts of murder, and one count of aggravated assault. He is being held without bond in Cherokee County. He told police he went on the killing spree because it had been “a really bad day.”

This should not be a debate. Having “a bad day” should not be an excuse for killing eight innocent people. Repeat: having a bad day doesn’t mean you can go around and murder eight innocent people.

It was a bad day for the families of those that were murder. Since COVID-19 has begun, Asian hate crimes have been on the rise. Asian Americans shouldn’t have to live in fear wondering whether or not they will be murdered by someone who is having a bad day. 

To support our Asian friends, donate to:

  • Armed Patrol Security Guards for Oakland Chinatown
  • Asian Americans Supporting Justice
  • Enough is Enough
  • Hate is a Virus
  • Heart of Dinner
  • Stop Asian Hate
  • Stop AAPI Hate
  • They Can’t Burn Us Al

For more information please visit:

‘The Sopranos’ and its relevance today

By: Teah Henry 

I recently finished my first watch through of ‘The Sopranos’, and I wasn’t the only one who was binging the show. According to HBO, the show’s viewership went up 179% at the start of the pandemic. ‘The Sopranos’ still manages to be relevant today with its commentary on mental health, social issues, and American capitalism despite its finale airing in 2007. 

The show cemented itself as a staple in television history with its realistic, complex characters and being one of the first shows that proved T.V. could be just as effective as film.

It was also one of the first to utilize the anti-hero; a protagonist that the viewer isn’t meant to agree with or even like. ‘The Sopranos’ paved the way for other shows like ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Rescue Me’. 

It’s not far fetched to say that most mafia stories are critiques of capitalism. They take place in a system that encourages cheating and competitiveness, and the members are often not happy with the way things are. The way that only a few in the mafia make a large profit while sending out lower ranking members to do the dangerous work is reminiscent of the small amount of people that hold the majority of wealth while most Americans are stuck working for a living. Christopher’s frustrations with Tony are the same as workers towards their own bosses; feeling used and not cared about. 

During the pandemic, the rich got insanely richer while the working class struggled to make ends meet. Congress couldn’t agree to send out another stimulus check a year after the first one, while other countries were consistently sending them out monthly. A lot of people became aware of America’s unfair distribution of wealth, and ‘The Sopranos’ bleak look at how capitalism only keeps its citizens unhappy helped people feel heard. 

Tony’s struggle with his mental health was also something viewers could relate to. Struggling with depression and panic attacks, Tony has to hide his problems to nearly everyone in his life due to social stigma. Tony’s inability to feel completely happy and satisfied is something a lot of people deal with, especially now as living conditions in America become worse.

Teens may also see themselves in the character AJ, Tony’s son, who is a teen throughout most of the show. He inherited his father’s mental health issues. His struggle with school and finding a purpose in his life is familiar to many. 

While almost all of the characters in ‘The Sopranos’ are irredeemable, there is something relatable about their feelings and struggles, and the commentary it makes will always ring true with American culture. 

Josephine Baker: A biography

By: Reagan Welch

Josephine Baker is a name you’ve probably never heard, but it should be. Baker was a performer, mother, civil rights activist, and spy for the Allies during World War II.

Intrigued yet? I thought so.

Let’s start with her childhood. Freda Josephine MacDonald was born on June 3rd, 1906 to a single mother in St. Louis, Missouri. She grew up very poor, and had to drop out of school at age 8, becoming a servant for a white family.

She was very passionate about dancing, so she performed on street corners for extra money. There, she caught the attention of a theatre troupe, who hired her. She gained her fame by performing in the Broadway show ‘Chocolate Dandies’.

While living in New York, she married a man named Willie Baker, whom she later divorced, but kept his last name, therefore becoming Josephine Baker.

In 1925, she moved to Paris and became a star there, where she was known for her flamboyance. In one of her most famous performances, she wore a skirt made of bananas. She also owned a pet cheetah named Chiquita, and went on to star in French films.

When World War II began, Baker enlisted as a spy for the French military. She kept performing, and was invited to many parties. She would flirt with generals of the Axis powers to coax information out of them. After that, she would write the information in invisible ink on her sheet music. If she found crucial photos, she would pin them to her underclothes, depending on her stardom to keep from being strip-searched.

After the war ended, Baker returned to the United States for a tour. She faced lots of racism, with as many as 36 hotels forbidding her to perform. Eventually, she sat down on stage and refused to leave until the hotel’s manager finally gave in.

She became heavily involved in the civil rights movement. She was the only woman to speak in the March on Washington. When Martin Luther King Jr. died, she was asked by his wife to lead the movement. Baker declined, as she had 12 adopted children at home. She called them her “rainbow tribe,” as they were from all different ethnic backgrounds. The NAACP named her Woman of the Year, and a parade was held in her honor.

In 1975, Josephine Baker performed in her last show. Three days after opening night, she died of a cranial hemorrhage. She was buried in France with a 21-gun-salute, and over 200,000 people came to her funeral.

Though she may have passed away, her legacy lives on. The NAACP declared May 20th “Josephine Baker Day”. Beyoncé has said in an interview that Baker is an inspiration to her.

Josephine Baker accomplished many wonderful things in her life, and should be talked about more often.

If you’d like to learn more, PBS released a documentary about her life titled ‘Josephine Baker: The Story Of An Awakening’