How COVID-19 still has an affect on us three years later

By: Calla Fragrassi & Mackenzie Malek

After three years of constant change in our school system, we wanted to ask Highland Park students how they were affected personally, then and now, by COVID-19.

We asked the same questions to students in grades 9-12 on their experiences.

Academics- How did the pandemic affect you academically in school? Was the transition between virtual to in-person learning challenging for you? If so, explain.

Freshman: “I thought the transition was really hard because on top of having to adjust to a whole new lifestyle where I couldn’t see people and couldn’t do so many things, my workload was still similar and so it was harder to do than before because I had so much more going on.”

Sophomore: “I felt like I fell behind in my classes and that school felt optional. Yes, I would say it was challenging because everything was constantly changing and it felt like there was no routine.”

Junior: “I believed everything would be easier coming out but my ideas changed. Also, I mentally struggled after the pandemic which took a toll on school. The actual transition wasn’t the hard part.”

Senior: “It made things easier and I got all As. The transition wasn’t that hard but it was fun to see other people again.”

Activities- Did COVID stop you from participating in any sports or activities you were involved in at the time? If so, how did that affect you personally?

Freshman: “COVID restrained me from all my sports and from seeing people I loved and it was really challenging because I relied on those practices to be good at my sports, so I felt set back and also felt set back from social activities since I wasn’t allowed to see people.”

Sophomore: “I stopped playing volleyball during COVID and when I went back for the season it was harder getting back into it because of the long break off, so I ended up quitting because I didn’t enjoy it as much anymore.”

Junior: “It took away club gymnastics, which was hard for me since it was the last year, and made the sports I eventually joined challenging in the fact everyone knew it wasn’t normal.”

Senior: “It prevented our football season in 2021 from going its full length because we had a shorter season due to COVID.”

Socially- Do you think the way you interacted with others changed after COVID? If so, explain.

Freshman: “ I think it did because so many people relied on social media to interact during quarantine and social media was the base of a lot of people’s senses of humor and things like that, so it kind of became something that defined your personality which I hadn’t really noticed before quarantine.”

Sophomore: “It was weird seeing my teachers and classmates in person after so long, and it felt weird being able to interact with other people besides just my family.”

Junior: “Yes, how I interacted changed in the way I grew, how I wanted to be as a person when I was in lock down. So, I figured out who and how I’d interact.”

Senior: “No, because I still interacted with people during COVID.”

All in all, these responses show that no matter the age, all these students had somewhat similar experiences throughout the pandemic. As you can see, for academics and activities, everyone had similar answers such as falling behind in classes and having to take a break from sports.

For the social questions, the responses varied a bit because this depended on how everyone interacted with others before COVID-19 prevented them from socializing. Some students were still able to talk to their friends and classmates, but others not so much.

What happened during the pandemic still has an affect on everyone today in some way and will in the future.

Pepsi vs. Coke

By: Rose Ramadan and Thea Berg

In this article, we will be reviewing the difference in pop flavors. We chose to compare Pepsi and Coke flavors, due to the big controversy surrounding them. We tested regular Pepsi, regular Coke, Cherry Pepsi, and Cherry Coke. We also tested the different pop brands they own. For Pepsi, we tested Sierra Mist and for Coke, we tested Sprite.

Our outcomes were as anticipated. More so than Pepsi, we preferred most Coke products. On a scale of 1 to 10, we assigned each pop a flavor rating. Then a bubble scale from 1 to 10. The aftertaste on a scale of 1 to 10.

The majority of Coke products scored an 8 on the flavor rating. They scored a 6 on the bubbling scale, primarily due to our distaste for bubbly beverages. On the aftertaste, they scored an average of 9.

Pepsi, on the other hand, scored an average of 6 on the flavor scale. On the scale of bubbling, they scored a 5. Finally, they scored an average of 7 for aftertaste.

To dive deeper, let’s review each comparison. To start with regular Coke versus Pepsi; the Coke had more of a refreshing taste. It was more pleasing to our taste buds and overall it had a better lasting flavor. In addition, it didn’t have much of an aftertaste compared to Pepsi, where the aftertaste had more of an unhealthy taste. Because of this, Coke had way more of a higher rating in our books.

To compare Cherry Coke versus Cherry Pepsi, we could hardly taste a difference between the two of them. As stated before, the Coke had more of a refreshing taste. We probably couldn’t tell the difference between them if it came down to it, though. The comparison between these two was hard.

Last, we compared Sierra Mist to Sprite. Sierra Mist, being a Pepsi product, and Sprite, being a Coke product. Though both are on the top of the list for our favorite pop drinks, we prefer Sierra Mist by a lot more. It has a sweeter taste and is more pleasing to our taste buds. It also has less bubbles which makes it more of an appealing option to the two of us.

The differences between the flavors of the regular Coke and Pepsi were subtle, but noticeable. Regular Pepsi tends to be sweeter, but it also has 2 more grams of sugar than Coke does, so the sweetness level makes sense. Coke is a little less sweet and has a more flavorful taste than Pepsi does. Pepsi also has more of a slightly citrusy tang, but Coke has more of a raisiny-vanilla flavor, although both Coke and Pepsi have very similar recipes that both contain carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, and caffeine.

One main difference between these two drink recipes is that Pepsi has the ingredient of citric acid in their drink, and Coke does not. The citric acid is what sets the flavors apart between the drinks and makes Pepsi have the citrus flavor over the vanilla raisin flavor.

Coke also had more carbonation and bubbles than Pepsi did, we thought that Pepsi seemed a little more flat and less bubbly.

Between the 2 of us we both agreed that we liked the flavor that Coke had better than the flavor of Pepsi. We both preferred the less sweet flavor and the less tangy flavor because we thought it tasted more authentic with the raisiny-vanilla flavor.

We also liked the carbonation level that Coke had better than the carbonation level of Pepsi.

Overall, we both agreed that the Coke products were better than the Pepsi products based on a lot of factors. Pepsi had many good flavors, and it had the upper hand with Sierra Mist, but most of the other flavors of drinks were in favor of Coke products.

The Boston Strangler

By: Ren King & Violet Hirman

*Warning: This article contains descriptions of murder and rape.

He who strikes in broad daylight.

It was a seemingly normal day, a woman after having just stepped out of the shower heard a knock on her apartment door. The plumber, though a bit early, she let him in quickly with a smile saying:

“I do hope you forgive my appearance, wait here and I’ll change quickly.”

She closed the front door, turning her back to the man in a heedless ignorance to his dangers. Her neighbors heard nothing of what came next, not of the screams, the terror in her voice as she pleaded for mercy, nor the strangled sounds of a woman dying.

In a few minutes, she was dead.

In a few hours, she was found with her bathrobe tied around her neck in a bow. So tight, that when they touched her head, it fell off.

Anna Slesers, 55 years old. The first victim of the Boston Strangler.

From June 14, 1962 to January 4, 1964, this serial killer plagued the streets of Boston. It was like a curse had been cast over the city, people lived in fear. The streets were silent, eyes turning to every stranger one would see on the street. Women locked their doors, hid their children.

Yet, this didn’t stop the murders from happening.

13 women of the police’s knowledge, many more that were unconfirmed to have been the Boston Strangler’s victims. Most were sexually assaulted, some had been stabbed or shot before they were strangled. Nonetheless, they all had one feature in common. They were found with a meticulously done bow wrapped around their neck.

Always so tight that if not handled properly, the head would fall off.

Over ten years later, a man of the name Albert DeSalvo was arrested for charges of sexual assault and breaking and entering. While he was in custody, another inmate, George Nasser recalled their conversations.

“He’s mad is what he is, sick and twisted beyond my own belief. Which is hard to believe since I shot a man, but true all the more. He says that he wishes to be as famous as the Boston Strangler himself, but a lot of the time I’m afraid that he actually is.” The exact words, according to the locals of Boston.

DeSalvo was taken into questioning about the crimes of the Boston Strangler. At first, he denied having any ties with the serial killer other than adoring remarks about his good work.

F. Lee Bailey, after two full days of interrogation, emerged with a tape of recordings from DeSalvo. Words that the police insisted were those only the Boston Strangler would know.

So, they had finally caught the Boston Strangler.

Or so they thought.

Dr. Robey was skeptical of DeSalvo’s complete guilt. He knew that the man had photographic memory, and had a track record for breaking and entering. He suspected that DeSalvo had come to the crime scenes days after the events occured to study them. That he confessed to the crimes of the Strangler in order to be sentenced to a mental hospital instead of a prison.

Alas, the evidence was too strong in DeSalvo’s favor and all investigations of the Boston Strangler were shut down.

Not before they discovered, from an eyewitness, from one of the murders, that she did not recognize DeSalvo, but instead George Nasser. Along with this, testimony that several people were seen coming out of the apartment.

Though they studied the scenes thoroughly, there was no other sign that it was a case involving multiple people other than the witness statement. Therefore, they had to believe that DeSalvo truly was the Boston Strangler.

DeSalvo was sentenced to life in prison, but not for the crimes of the Strangler. He was never actually tried for the serial killer’s crimes, only named it.

On November 26, 1973, DeSalvo told his psychiatrist that it was finally time to reveal the true crimes of the Boston Strangler.

The same day, he was found stabbed to death in his prison cell before he could say a word.

Through more recent DNA testing and closer scrutiny into the case, it was shown that unidentified DNA was found at several of the crime scenes. None of it matching to DeSalvo’s. Along with that, a painting crew was seen at the site of the first victim’s house. Two weeks later, the same crew was seen at the third victim’s.

Was it a coincidence? Or was it a clue?

To this day, no one knows the true story of the Boston Strangler. Despite countless reasons that the real killer, or killers, are still out there, further investigation cannot be taken due to DeSalvo’s confession.

So, if you’re home alone and you hear a small clicking sound. You turn around, but nothing is behind you. It may very well be…the sound of the Strangler’s walker because if they were still alive right now they would be well into old age.

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The affects of climate change

By: Ellie Moore

Global warming is impacting our environment in many ways. Climate change is caused by an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because humans are burning fossil fuels and destroying the forest.

The effects of global warming are occurring throughout the whole world, and although climate change is bad everywhere, it is worst in Japan with the Climate Risk Index being 5.5 (you want a higher Climate Risk Index). The Philippines is the next worst with 11.17, and Germany is third with 13.83.

Rising temperatures have led to the melting of polar ice caps and glaciers, causing sea levels to rise and putting coastal cities at risk of flooding. Extreme weather events such as heatwaves, hurricanes, and droughts have become more frequent and intense, leading to loss of life and property damage.

The impacts of global warming affect our economy, health, and social well-being. It is estimated that by the end of the century, global warming could cause the loss of trillions of dollars in economic output and displace millions of people from their homes.

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the world is running out of time to limit global warming to safe levels.

By the year 2035 it is said that the effects of climate change will be irreversible. The main “tipping” point being sometime between 2026 and 2042. This means we only have a few years to change our habits.

Since we only have around 20 years to take action we need to drive less and carpool if we can. Some other ways to slow down climate change is to eat less meat or use less electricity in your house.

With the population growing, it is harder to get everyone to take action, but if everyone took one small action it could make the difference of 1 million more years of our planet’s existence.

However, despite these efforts, global warming continues to worsen.

Global warming is not just a problem for the future, but one that we are already facing today. We must act now to protect our planet and secure a sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.

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