A perspective on Highlands response to COVID-19

By: Musab Mohamud

A growing concern among Highland Park students is that the reopening of schools may spike COVID. Conversely, many students are excited to return to friends, teachers, and sports. A quote taken from one student, who is conflicted about both, reads “It’s better for learning, but not peoples health.” Released from the confines of quarantine, students are more likely to contract COVID evidenced by the spike of cases that has been surging since July.

However, Highland Park’s response to COVID has been exceedingly positive with no outbreaks or school closures. This is in part due to the school’s insistence on a mask mandate and teachers giving gentle reminders to students.

Students are pleasantly surprised with their peers following mask rules and being courteous with sanitation.

Lunchrooms might however pose a problem with students being seated in close quarters with their masks down. However, with the implementation of contract tracing and scanning where students sit in the cafeteria, I believe, that Highland is being responsible for their students.

Many students fear that their sudden reintegration into a school environment will affect their grades negatively. A quote that shows this is: “I think Highland has had a fair response to COVID, my teachers should definitely assign less work though.” This sentiment is shared by many students whose grades continue to falter.

However, on the opposite side of the spectrum there are multiple students who I’ve interviewed who believe that seeing their teachers will help academically. A quote by one of those individuals goes: “I like it more because we can experience real life learning again, it’s more efficient.”

Overall, most students share the belief that Highland has shown competence in their dealings with reopening. Some may have apprehension and fear about going back, but the feeling is overwhelmingly positive.

Mental benefits of pets

By: Sarah VonBerge

It is still unknown how and why pets seem to help with mental health. Pets don’t only affect your mental health, but, depending on the kind, also affect your physical health. Pets have been shown to decrease stress, improve heart health, and also teach children emotional and social skills.

It is estimated that 68% of all US households have some sort of pet. Studies have shown that having a pet has decreased the stress causing hormone, called cortisol, lowers blood pressure, boosts mood, reduces loneliness, and increases feelings of support. Owning something like a fish or guinea pig would help mainly with your mental health whereas having a pet like a dog will also affect your physical health. NIH is looking into creating a wide scale survey to find how the bond with their animal helps the owner(s).

Animals serve as forms of comfort as well. Sometimes watching fish swim can bring up a feeling of calmness. Therapy animals are brought around a lot, especially therapy dogs. They are often brought into nursing homes and hospitals to help comfort people.

However, people need to make sure to figure out how to bring animals around others in hospitals and nursing homes safely. Even though animals can help reduce stress and boost moods, they also bring germs and we need to make sure that animals don’t spread deadly germs between animals and patients.

Dogs have also been used to aid in the classroom. Dogs have been shown to, again, reduce stress and depression but have also recently been shown to help focus those who are affected by ADHD. Researchers took 2 groups of children with ADHD to see how dogs affect them.

In the 12 week long experiment, one group read to puppets for 30 minutes once a week and one group read to dogs for 30 minutes once a week. At the end, it was shown that the group who read to the dogs improved at cooperation, volunteering, social skills and sharing more than the group who read to puppets.

Another study found that kids with autism became calmer when playing with guinea pigs. During the 10 minute supervised play time with the guinea pigs, their anxiety levels dropped and they became better at social interactions and were more engaged with their peers.

One reason animals can help humans is because they bring new responsibilities. Even if your mental health is causing you to neglect yourself, you can not neglect your animal, or they will get sick or even die. Being able to recognize animals’ signs of stress or fatigue will all reflect on being able to recognize other people’s emotions.

For more information, please visit:

  • newsinhealth.nih.gov

Sports schedule for 10/25 – 10/30

7:00pm Volleyball vs. South St. PaulHOME
7:00pm5:00pm / 8:45pmFootball vs. Harding/Humboldtat Harding High School
Girls – 3:30pm Boys – 4:15pm Boys / Girls Cross Country Sectionsat Valleywood Golf Course
7:00pm Volleyball Section SemifinalsHOME
3:00pm Football Section SemifinalsTBD