Educating the educators: HPDA club and the Schoology course for SPPS teachers

By: Caroline Crosby (Vice President of Disability Alliance club at Highland)

Highland Park Senior High School, as well as similar learning establishments around the Twin Cities, display great student body diversity. It may be inferred, then, that a variety of individuals and ranging abilities demands a variety of accommodating instruction and environments.

Inclusion and accessibility are crucial in any working facility, especially in academic settings catered towards young adults and adolescence. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics dictates that the current 7 million students with disabilities in the U.S. comprise 14% of national public school enrollment. No small number!

With this significant information in mind, HP’s own Disability Alliance club (known to many Scotties as “DA club” for short) has been collaborating with the Office of Equity, and other district staff members, to create a comprehensive Schoology course on ableism. The course is described as an asynchronous educational training tool for SPPS faculty and teachers.

The goal? To prompt reflection and growth with attitude, bias, and experiences regarding education and ableism in schools. It may* include informative content on student perspective, the history of disability rights and laws, implicit bias, inclusive suggestions for the classroom, and much more.

As the VP of Disability Alliance, my hope is that this project will prompt lasting, progressive, change for faculty and students alike. Our club has been working closely to provide an in-depth understanding of academic encounters from middle and high schoolers’ perspectives.

From April 21 to May 9, DA opened a survey recording student experiences with accessibility in school. It was available to 6-12 graders anywhere within the district, and collected written and recorded accounts that may be used in the course material.

By the time submissions closed, the survey had collected a whopping 712 responses! Members of the club’s executive board were reportedly ecstatic with the volume of data that the survey received. 

When asked about her time working with the project, HP Junior, Founder, and DA Club President Rui Rui Bleifuss said, “I’m so excited for the impact of the Schoology course, and everything that comes with it. I look forward to seeing the change, and hope it raises awareness around the topics of inclusion + accessibility!”

It appears that enthusiasm for their work was shared across the board! Fellow Junior, and Club Treasurer, Samara Hickle stated, “I love working with Sherry Kempf and the other administrators! I hope this course will educate teachers and give them a better understanding of our experiences as students.”

As those involved move forward with the Schoology course and its illuminating information; students, teachers, and faculty can work day by day to promote a more inclusive environment for all. Positive change is often founded both by organized contribution, and individual participation!

*As a disclaimer: discussed/listed aspects of the Schoology course material in this article are not indicative of the final product. Finalized features and course details are subject to change. For questions or concerns, contact the DA club directly at hpdaclub@gmail.com.

For additional statistics on education and persons with disabilities, please visit:

Why live action adaptations are bad

By: Bijou Kruszka

Live-action adaptations are getting out of hand. It seems like there’s always a new film that has everybody on the internet talking, and it’s hardly ever people saying, “Oh wow, look at this cool new idea for a movie.”

No, the discussion usually goes along the lines of, “Oh wow, I can’t believe that they’re adapting this movie, and it looks like garbage.”

How did we get here?

Technically, this trend started in 2010, with the remake of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. This movie is genuinely good, and it did what adaptations are supposed to do: stay somewhat faithful to the story in tone and plot, while adding some fun changes and fixing anything that needed to be fixed.

This continued in 2015, when Disney released ‘Maleficent’, which also follows what adaptations are supposed to do. This was the film that started the never-ending train of remakes.

After that, Disney started to release 1 or 2 live-action remakes every year. Why? Because of the money. For example, 2017’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ made over 1 billion dollars in the box office.

All Disney had to do to make money was use the nostalgia to get parents to take their kids to see it, get a few celebrities in the cast, and boom, 1 billion dollars. They think that because some live-action movies were good, all of them would be. So, they don’t put much effort into it, leaving the terrible movies we’re getting.

Now, because Disney only has a limited amount of movies that deserved the remake treatment, they started adapting the good movies, like ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Aladdin’. Though these movies are nowhere near perfect (like the issues with ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and Stockholm Syndrome), most of their problems are embedded in the plot, and can’t be removed without heavily changing the story. Plus, the originals have added charm because of the magical elements, which are elevated because of the animation. When you take the animation away, it feels flat and dull.

Because Disney is a media giant, others are following their lead, like the ‘Sonic’ movie. Although it isn’t an exact adaptation, it is a live-action movie using a name almost everyone knows with a few celebrities in the cast.

If more movies are made like this, it does not bode well for the film industry. Not only does it feed the idea that movies don’t have to be original, but it also just means that companies like Disney will get millions of dollars for something they didn’t put effort into because people will still want to see how terrible the movie is.

In the end, live-action remakes, though fun in concept, create a lot of problems, especially with unoriginality.