Quarantine’s effect on mental health in teens

By: Mary Koch

Quarantine had overwhelming effects on everyone, especially teenagers. Spending months at home and not being able to see friends in person isn’t healthy, and teens’ mental health is an example.

Not being able to go to school in person made things more difficult, and it was harder to keep up with classes and assignments. Stress of staying on top of working and trying to understand lessons without having as easily accessible help wasn’t easy.

Things like school dances, performances, and sports were cancelled or postponed, so students ended up missing out on things they won’t have a chance to do again. Graduations and school events were socially distanced or virtual, and the overall experience wasn’t the same.

A poll taken in New York indicated that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys, from the ages of 13 to 18, have had more severe anxiety since quarantine began.

Without the pandemic, 14.3% of teens will experience depression or bipolar disorder. Adding on the effects of quarantine over 22% of teens are meeting criteria for having one or both of those mental illnesses.

When people are suffering from depression, it’s recommended that people don’t isolate themselves, but with the lockdown, there was no other option. Kids have to stay home, they couldn’t see their friends or non-immediate family, and they had fewer activities.

Having a good steady sleep schedule can make positive changes in people’s lives. With lockdown school was done online, so students didn’t need to wake up at the same time everyday. Instead of going to bed and getting a good night’s sleep, they stayed up doing homework, watching TV, and going on their phones.

Lockdown also strained relationships with friends, and many teens came out with fewer than they had when the lockdown started. With fewer friends and less of a support system, people’s mental health will decline.

For more information, please visit:

TBIs: effects, stats, and treatments

By: Mila Hart and Liv Miller

TBI stands for traumatic brain injury. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons defines a traumatic brain injury as “A disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a blow, bump or jolt to the head, the head suddenly and violently hitting an object or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue”. 

The four main types of TBIs include: concussions, contusions, penetrating injuries, and anoxic brain injuries.

  • Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries and are caused by a blow to the head.
  • Contusions are slightly more severe then concussions. Contusions are a bruise to the brain that causes bleeding and swelling inside of the brain.
  • A penetrating brain injury is when an object penetrates the skull and hurts the brain.
  • Anoxic brain injuries are the most severe TBIs. They are caused by a complete lack of oxygen to the brain. Anoxic brain injuries are often fatal.

To learn more about the four main types of TBIs visit Dolmanlaw.com.

The symptoms that follow a traumatic brain injury can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the injury. There are a wide variety of effects and symptoms that people who have suffered a TBI may experience. Some symptoms include vomiting, headache, dizziness and balance concerns, breathing problems, confusion, ect., and that is just the beginning.

Although some of these symptoms can be short term and get less severe over time, there is a good chance that someone can experience many long term effects after suffering a traumatic brain injury. These include loss of memory (amnesia), focal neurological deficits such as muscle weakness, loss of vision, change in speech, ect., and an overall weakened mental state.

If someone were to experience a more serious traumatic brain injury, or multiple ones over a short period of time, they might be more likely to go into a vegetative state or even die. The long term effect can get even worse if you experience multiple TBIs. Psychology Today says that if you have suffered three or more concussions you are more likely to have long-term cognitive impairment and emotional struggles. Multiple concussions can cause depression, anger, and memory loss. To learn more about the symptoms for a TBI visit the CDCs website.

It is estimated that around 1.6 to 3.8 million sports related traumatic brain injuries occur every year, and recreational activities contribute to about 21 percent of all TBIs among American children and adolescents. The reason why sports often contribute to traumatic brain injuries is because more aggressive sports, like football, soccer, rugby, lacrosse, etc. involve a lot of person to person contact often resulting in blows to the head.

There also may be a high underestimate of traumatic brain injuries reported due to many people failing to seek medical help after sustaining their injury. Many people, especially adolescents, are likely to assume they have just a mild concussion and fail to go to the doctor. This is not good because it can result in their condition getting worse, and put them at a higher risk of sustaining serious long term injuries.

There are several ways to treat a TBI. Some include rest, medication, and surgery. The treatment will vary depending on how severe the injury is. The medication often used to treat a TBI is called Diuretic. Diuretic helps remove all extra water from the body and treats high blood pressure.

The type of surgery needed to treat a severe TBI is called a decompressive craniectomy. This surgery removes part of the skull so that an injured brain can swell without being squeezed.

Although these are very effective treatments, there is still a likely possibility a patient can end up paralyzed or dead. So, it is very important to seek help right away if you were to sustain a TBI. No matter how serious it seems at the moment it is better to be safe than sorry.

For more information, please visit:

Seasonal holidays

By: Fatima Mohamud and Sumaya Noor

Which holidays are celebrated this season?

In the months of November, December, and January, many celebrations and festivals are celebrated throughout several cultures and religions. Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Diwali are some of the notable holidays in these festive months.

Who celebrates these holidays?

Christmas is celebrated by Christians of all backgrounds. The holiday is one of the biggest celebrations across the globe, with over 2 billion believers indulging in the festival. It’s from December 24 to December 25, and consists of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, sharing gifts, and spending time with family and friends. Decorations and festive treats are very popular during Christmas.

Kwanzaa is a tradition that honors African heritage and African culture and is viewed by Africans and African Americans. Kwanzaa isn’t a religious holiday but more of a cultural one as there is no religion tied to it. Celebrated for a week from December 26 to January 1, the holiday brings people together and shares gifts. Kwanzaa first became a holiday less than 60 years ago.

Hanukkah is a Jewish festival observed by Jews across the world. Hanukkah celebrates the recovery of Jerusalem. Although not the holiest holiday observed by Jews, (the holiest is Yom Kippur) it’s still very significant and is from November 28 to December 6 this year. During Hanukkah, Jews read the Torah and scriptures, recite the Psalms, light the Hanukkiah/menorah and bless themselves.

What are some other holidays observed during the festive times?

Diwali is a festivity that celebrates the light and its power over the dark. It is celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists. To honor the light, people light candles and oil lamps while praying for their wellbeing. The festival goes on for 5 days, starting on November 4 and ending November 9 this year. On the night of Diwali, many Hindus pray to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and pride, and Ganesh the god of good luck and wisdom towards the coming year.

Many people who are not Hindu or Buddhists also take part in this holiday. In the days coming before Diwali, many people exchange gifts, foods and hang up decorations just like for other holidays. In north India, many people host parties late at night with cultural food, drinks and lots of games such as gambling, it’s an ongoing tradition for many. Although this is not a requirement, many people do so to get together to celebrate.

New Year’s Eve is a celebration for people all over the world. It doesn’t follow a specific religion or belief, only to those who feel like celebrating the coming year. Lots of people buy decorations such as the last two numbers of the incoming year and throw lots of parties that night.

In New York, every year at Times Square there is a very iconic late night show that hosts singing, performances, and games before the clock hits midnight. This tradition has been going for many years and lots of people stay up to watch or go in person if they have the chance.

Thousands of people come up with New Year’s Resolutions to set a goal or plan to overcome. It’s a great way to have something to look forward to.

Thanksgiving is a mostly American national holiday celebrated by most people of color, religion, or beliefs. It falls on November 25th and it’s not long before winter starts. This holiday consists of spending time with loved ones, family and friends to show appreciation and kindness. Others have big feats or harvests to celebrate the day and prepare for it nights before. People get together to enjoy turkey, a very common food that is usually eaten at this time of year where the animal is most popular before it migrates to the south.

During this holiday flights can get very expensive and traffic will become more common because of people wanting to go visit family or friends to enjoy the holiday.

Pros and cons of medical marijuana

By: Mila Hart

This November, more then eight states in the U.S. overwhelmingly approved a marijuana legalization ballot item. Now that more and more states are legalizing medical marijuana, let’s talk about some background on the topic and the pros and cons of it.

First let’s review some background information on marijuana. Medical marijuana is also known as CBD and recreational marijuana is known as THC. CBD and THC are both cannabinoids found in marijuana but the difference between them is that THC will cause a person to experience a high while CBD will not.

CBD can provide relief for anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also said to help with sleep, chronic pain, muscle spasms, nausea, and vomiting, and to increase appetite. It is also safer than some other medications used to treat pain like opioids. You can use it in many ways, you do not have to smoke it. There are oils, edibles, and other non smoking ways to use CBD.

With so many pros it’s hard to think of how the cons would outweigh them, but there are some cons. marijuana can affect thinking and memory, increasing the risk of accidents. Smoking can also damage the lungs which could lead to cancer. There is also a risk for potential abuse and addiction.

I asked a few students at Highland Park Senior High, and they all agreed that legalizing medical marijuana was a good thing. One student specifically said that if it’s legal then the patients can decide for themselves if the pros outweigh the cons.

A teacher at Highland said that there are amazing medical benefits and that it’s a good thing more states are legalizing it.

So what do you think? Do the negatives outweigh the positives or should more states legalize medical marijuana?

For more information, please visit:

Effects of nicotine on the brain

By: Grace Blumer-Lamotte

Nicotine is an addictive substance that can alter your mind and actions. It can also cause permanent brain damage. According to Drug Watch, “Nicotine can disrupt the part of the brain that controls attention, learning, moods and impulse control. People under the age of 25 are also more susceptible to becoming addicted to nicotine before the brain fully develops.” 

With nicotine, there are both short and long term effects. 

The short term effects are a reduced sense of taste and smell, bad breath, a decrease in energy, withdrawals, and fatigue. 

The long term effects and risks are the addiction aspect of it; it can lead to mood disorders, respiratory issues, lower life expectancy, and it permanently lowers your impulse control.

There are also effects of second-hand smoking. It can affect the health and well-being of anyone that’s exposed to it. According to Quebec Advice and Prevention, “These people are at high risk of developing health issues such as: heart problems, respiratory or lung problems, such as asthma or excessive coughing, and lung cancer.” Second hand smoke is one of the most dangerous environments to be around. To learn more about “The Effects of Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke” visit the website below.

I asked a freshman, a junior, and a senior these questions about nicotine and vaping. Have you ever vaped, and why did or didn’t you do it? What do you know about the effects of nicotine on the brain? If given the opportunity, would you wanna learn more about the effects of nicotine?

The freshman responded to the first question saying, “I have not vaped because I know it’s bad for me and I am not stupid.”

The second question they responded saying, “Doesn’t it have withdrawal-like symptoms? It also disrupts your attention span I have heard. Maybe you really want something and that could affect your brain the same way when you want nicotine.”

The third question they responded with, “Yes.”

The junior responded to the first question saying, “I have vaped before and I did it because I thought it would help my mental illness. But it ended up with me being addicted.”

The second question they responded saying, “I’ve first hand experience with withdrawal symptoms and let me tell you… it is not fun.”

The third question they responded with, “Yes, I would be open to learning more about how it was affecting my brain.”

The senior responded to the first question saying, “Yes, I have due to curiosity and peer pressure.”

The second question they responded saying, “Little to none.”

The third question they responded saying, “Oh for sure.”

For more information, please visit:

Art vs. Artist

By: Parker Rowen

Image taken from: Shepherd, Jack. “Artist Paints Himself Painting Himself Painting Himself Painting Himself.” Medium, Sharks and Spades, 5 Aug. 2020, https://medium.com/sharks-and-spades/artist-paints-himself-painting-himself-painting-himself-painting-himself-ed11017d25fc.

“Should art be separated from it’s artist?” is a questions that has come up in recent times. This has begun to re-emerge, with Hollywood being shown to have more and more morally questionable people to be within the industry than was once known, or believed. This is an important question to answer, it brings in a question of morality, and whether it is moral to consume art made by an artist who has committed something heinous.

When researching for a paper, or some kind of formal piece, you always question the source of the information, whether it’s reliable, if it is to be trusted, or provides something which before was unseen. Art should be viewed in the same manner. When you see a piece of art, it is paramount that the artist and their intentions get discussed.

If you look at the works of someone such as Vincent Van Gough, you’ll see how it paints a picture of Van Gough’s life, and view of the world. Without this art as context, we wouldn’t have nearly as much of a view into the world of Van Gough.

Good art is often reflective of it’s artist. It is hard to put passion into something without that thing becoming part of you, and vice versa. Art is meant to be passionate, so naturally it would show the person you are to the world. 

To separate the art from the artist would be akin to stealing the sun from the sky. The artist defines their work, and sets up their themes, they are the ones to decide what their art should mean. It often reflects an opinion, or sends a message in which the artist believes in. While this opinion may not necessarily be harmful, it should be a truthful one, and help paint a picture of what the artist is like, and whether it is someone to look up to.

In capitalism, the phrase “speak with your wallet” is a common, and very true one. People have a monetary value attached to everything, and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve success in that regard. So, by this logic, when you buy something you are supporting it. Generally, art has been sold at a price, helping to support the artist living, and to encourage more of that type of art. When you buy a piece of art, you are supporting the artist, and encouraging them to continue behaving the way in which they are.

A piece of art is crucial in learning about an artist, therefore, the artist must be crucial to understanding the art. To separate the art from the artist opens a blank space in the context, and message of the art. With this assessment in mind, I feel that to consume art, such as buying a painting, or CD, made by someone who has committed a reprehensible act is immoral and something to be avoided, because supporting that art also supports the negative behavior in which they have practiced.

‘Dune’ Movie Review

By: Eva Olsen

This movie is set somewhere very far into the future in space. It follows the story of a boy named Paul Atreides, who has to go to a very dangerous planet to guarantee the future of his people and family. A war erupts over spice, the most precious substance in the universe, which is only found on this dangerous planet called Arrakis.

I thought the plot of this movie was very interesting but also kind of confusing. The most confusing part for me was remembering all of the names for the different planets, characters, languages, and objects. All of the advanced and futuristic technology was also really cool to see.

A lot of conflict was shown throughout this movie and most of it was revolving around politics. There were a lot of fighting scenes but they weren’t too bloody

I loved the characters and how they all had such different personalities from one another. It created a lot of suspense not knowing what characters were loyal to Paul and which ones weren’t. There were a lot of sad scenes where characters I liked died or sacrificed themselves. There were also a lot of plot twists in the movie, most of them revolving around betrayal.

The casting of this movie was good in my opinion and I recognized a lot of the actors in it. I thought the acting in it was very good. All of the costumes were very cool and I loved the attention to detail. The special effects were also very captivating and looked very realistic.

Overall, this movie was really good even though it was a little bit confusing at times. I recommend this movie if you like suspenseful action/adventure and science fiction movies. I give this movie a 9/10 rating.

If you were interested in seeing ‘Dune’, it is available in theaters, and online at HBO Max.

‘Sky: Children of the Light’ game review

By: Annika Getz

‘Sky: Children of the Light’ is an open-world, indie adventure game, available in the App Store, on the Nintendo Switch, and on the PS4. It was developed by thatgamecompany, a company famous for it’s indie explorer games, the most well known of which being ‘Journey’, which was released in 2012. ‘Sky’ was originally released for iOS in 2019. ‘Sky’ has a rating of 4.5/5 on Google Play, and 4.8/5 on the Apple App Store.

The main goal isn’t to “beat” the game, in fact, there’s not really a way to beat it at all. The game is simply about exploring, and communicating with other players. Throughout the game, you search for what the intro calls “fallen stars” which are spirits scattered throughout the map.

The lore of the universe is a bit ambiguous, though enjoyable nonetheless. The spirits are beings trapped in statue-like forms. Your objective is to find them, experience one memory of theirs, and learn from them. From each spirit, you learn a new action, such as hugging, clapping, waving, etc., as the game progresses, the actions get more complicated and fun. You can learn to flip, play hide and seek, blow kisses, and more.

There are also figures made of pure light in many places on the map. When you find these spirits, you receive wings. The more wings you get, the longer you can fly for. There are also options to customize your character’s outfit the more you progress.

There are seven realms in the game, the first being “Isle of Dawn”, the second “Daylight Prairie”, the third “Hidden Forest”, the fourth “Valley of Triumph”, the fifth “Golden Wasteland”, the sixth “Vault of Knowledge”, and the seventh “The Eye of Eden”. Eye of Eden is the final and most difficult part of the game, and the first time you face a real life-or-death situation (there are similar perils in the “Golden Wasteland” area, but it’s less high-stakes).

Overall, I think this game is great, the visuals are beautiful, and the music and sound effects do a great job immersing you in the world. The large scale of the map, and frequent editions of new seasons keep you from getting bored too quickly. The concept, though mysterious, is intriguing and enjoyable.

My main critique is that the controls aren’t the greatest. I’ve only ever played on a touch-screen, so I can’t speak as to what it’s like on the Switch or PlayStation, but as far as mobile devices go, I and others find it to be difficult to control. Moving your character, and moving your perspective, is basically the same movement, just on different sides of the screen which makes it difficult to control your movements at times.

Overall, this is a game I’d highly suggest to anyone looking for a calm, and visually beautiful adventure game: 4.5/5.

For more information, please visit:

How does the Pfizer vaccine work?

By: Sarah VonBerge

Pfizer is 1 of 3 COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States. The ones currently available are Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Pfizer and Moderna are both Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, meaning they recognize proteins and help our body learn how to fight an illness so we don’t feel the serious symptoms. This type of RNA does not stay in the body for long, but it helps the body remember how to deal with illnesses.

These vaccines do not release a live virus, but instead a harmless protein called a spike protein, which sits on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. These spike proteins are then displayed on the cells.

When the immune system realizes that that protein is not supposed to be there, the body begins to fight it as if there is an infection even though there is no danger, which is why people may feel sick after they get a vaccine.

Even though the spike protein sits on the cell, it never goes into the nucleus, which is where DNA is kept. Because it doesn’t get into the nucleus, it does not alter DNA in any way even though this is a popular belief.

Just because the spike protein eventually leaves the body, the body doesn’t forget it. Our immune system will continue to remember it, so if the same protein were to come into the body again, it knows how to fight it.

Many are hesitant to get a COVID vaccine because they don’t believe that mRNA vaccines have enough research when, in reality, they have been tested and developed for decades, but only recently became available to the public. They have been studied for the flu, Zika, rabies, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and even cancer.

To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ in our body, whereas mRNA vaccines do not. This immune response is what causes our bodies to release antibodies and fight an illness. Although mRNA vaccines can not prevent an illness, they do help our bodies know how to fight an illness and help us not feel the serious symptoms, if any symptoms at all.

For more information, please visit:

Why Highland Park should give out seconds

By: Marcus Lund

As a 16-year-old with a high metabolism, I’m always hungry. So, when I head to the lunchroom, I’m ready to eat a nicely sized meal. But, then I’m served 3 chicken nuggets with a side of sadness and beans. After those 250 calories, I’m obviously going to still be hungry, so I head up again, only to be turned back: “No seconds”.

Highland Park seems to think that by offering unpaid lunches, they can’t afford to give two lunches to high schoolers who need more food. However, other schools in the Saint Paul school district who offer free lunches do offer seconds. They implement a system in which they require student pay for seconds, while their first lunch is still free. This allows the school to retain the funds needed to keep up free firsts and free breakfasts, as well as lessen food waste.

In multiple instances, when students bring up their tray and ID for a second lunch, they’re turned away. This happens even though SPPS nutrition services states that second lunches are purchasable for all SPPS students for $4.40, with second breakfast also available for $2.75. Even an extra milk is apparently available for 50 cents if wanted, an option I haven’t even heard of.

Not allowing for seconds at lunch has caused much strife throughout the cafeteria. Methods used to get a second lunch include students using other students’ IDs, students hopping the barrier to avoid scanning their lunch pass, in hopes of only needing to scan once for two lunches. Students have even gone as far as literally running away from lunch staff.

Teenagers need a lot of food, and school lunch shouldn’t be a sad excuse for a real meal. Can Highland Park step it up?

For more information, please visit: