The PLP course

By: Vivian S

Schoology screenshot

If you are anything like me, when you returned to Schoology for Quarter 4, you received a big unexplained surprise. All of a sudden there was a new course labeled “PLP” in my listing.

I was sent into a spiral of panic, wondering what new class had been thrust upon me, and it took a few weeks for me to read through all the schoology updates and find out what it is. So, if you were confused like me, hopefully this will help.

PLP is an extra course – not required. It was created to help students plan for their futures. There are assignments to help one consider possible careers, necessary education, and internships. 

The course may be extra, but that does not mean it doesn’t offer credit. If you complete the course, having all assignments finished and turned in, and all quizzes passed, you can apply for a Career Seminar elective credit. Your work would be looked over by Mr. McCann, who would decide whether or not to give you the credit.

Completing the PLP course opens up internship opportunities for when you reach 11th or 12th grade. 

To find out exactly what this course is, I decided to go try out one of the assignments.

The first assignment is a self-exploration one, which isn’t really an exploration of your self but rather your career opportunities. This is, and drumroll please, a career survey! To start this assignment, you take a career survey, and the rest of the assignment is reflecting on the results you receive. 

I was actually a bit surprised by the results I received, as most of them were jobs I’d never really thought about going into (and some I’d never even heard of). So, if you want to check out some different job opportunities that you might have never thought of, then this assignment is for you.

And if you are just here to figure out if this is something for you to do for the credit, this assignment did only take me a bit less than an hour, so it’s pretty doable. 

It does appear you need to do the assignments in order though. The Career Research Assignment requires information you get from the Self-Exploration assignment, so I’d advise you do them in order.

Remember to focus on your actual classes first though! Then you can do this for an extra credit!

Quarantine haircuts

By: Vivian S

About a week ago, at the time of writing this, as the sun set over the horizon and the day wound to a halt, I walked upstairs with my mother. We stood in front of a mirror and she handed me a pair of scissors. Reaching out, I grabbed her hair, and carefully, I hacked through the mounds of tangled hair she had grown during quarantine.

It was the best experience of my life.

Stuck at home during social distancing, one of the businesses that has been closed (at least here in Minnesota) are hairdressers.

Now, lost as we are without our stylists’ help, our hairs have begun to grow long and matted. Some have taken this tragedy into their own hands though, as my mother did, and cut their own hair at home.

Now is the time! That haircut you dream of yourself having in your nightmares? You can give yourself that! No one ever need know; it’s not like you shall be seeing anyone anyway.

Of course, I can make no promises as to how long social distancing shall last. Who knows? Perhaps you may be called back to work tomorrow, and all of your coworkers will see, and laugh, at the mohawk you gave yourself. It may be better to play it safe and give yourself a haircut you would be willing for others to see you with.

If you want ideas for your own haircut, you need only to search for “coronacut” on Twitter or Instagram to see all the photos of people trying to do their own.

Why, you could partially shave your head. That’s an idea, though whether your razor will die halfway through is out of my vision.

Regardless, corona haircuts seem like a great way to have fun during social distancing. I have not gotten mine yet, but it is only a matter of time.

Zoom

By: Vivian S

During this time of social distancing, many things have changed and new services have gained notice and importance. One new company that has become well-known is Zoom.

Zoom is an app/website that can be used for video conferencing, which has become much more important now that nearly all meetings have to be held from home using a computer. While all of us are social distancing, many people have turned to Zoom to continue holding classes, seminars, and meetings.

You might notice that Highland Park Senior High is not one of those places using Zoom, and Self Service does not even allow you to download Zoom, so you may not have used Zoom yet.

As Zoom grew more popular, misuse of the app grew as well. People took to intruding into the meetings of others, and messing with the meeting. Some people even posted passwords to the meetings online so that more people would join in. These disruptions have been termed “Zoom-bombing” and they are probably the reason that SPPS is not using Zoom.

Zoom-bombing has become so popular and well-known that there is a Wikipedia page about it, which I was not expecting to find during my research.

Zoom has responded to these mass-disruptions and has been working to further secure meetings. On their website, you can find a list of tips of how to secure you meetings.

It seems like many video conferencing apps have been struggling under the weight of all the new users using video conferencing, and while Zoom is one of the most popular, other apps are also experiencing problems and are working to address them.

While more and more security issues are being fixed, we all just have to be aware of any possible security risks (such as a meeting being public – allowing someone uninvited to enter, or a password being shared on the internet) and take steps to minimize those risks with the services these apps are offering and improving.

If you want to hold a Zoom meeting, please read the security guide they provide here: https://zoom.us/docs/doc/Securing%20Your%20Zoom%20Meetings.pdf.

Youth Climate Justice Summit: Part 2

By: Vivian S

On Wednesday, February 26th, I woke up, brushed my teeth, and walked out of my house. But instead of continuing down to the bus stop, I was driven to the Capitol.

…Well, not exactly the Capitol, I was driven to the Good Neighbor Building, as that is where the Youth Climate Justice Summit began.

After I managed to find my way around all the twisting roads of the Capitol, I completed my registration and went down to breakfast. Everyone sat at tables with people in the same district as them and chatted for a while. Then, youth took to the stage.

We started with some icebreaker activities, but the true beginning of the summit was a speech about the exploitation of Native American people to this day, and how it related to climate justice. That idea is a part of intersectional climate justice, which was a big focus of the summit, which says that climate change disporportionallly affects communities of color and other disenfranchised communities which are normally systematically targeted, making it not just an environmental issue but also a social and economic issue.

We then were given a short presentation of how to talk to representatives, and on the bills that the summit was trying to get passed, and those they were trying to stop from passing.

The bills that were being supported were:

  • Solar on Schools (HF1133 & SF1424): which is a grant program to give schools solar panels which will eventually take on a great part of the electricity load of the schools.
  • Energy Conservation for Schools (HF1148 & SF2016): which would make a loan-fund for schools to make investments in energy conservation.
  • The Women of Color Opportunity Act (HF841 & SF1123): which is a collection of grant programs for organizations working with women of color to develop small businesses, expand access to STEM careers, provide internships, etc. to combat the how women of color are underrepresented.
  • Trash-burning is Not Renewable: which would declare that trash-burning is not a renewable energy source and companies cannot keep claiming it as such. It is still being drafted.
  • Green Affordable Housing: is a proposal by Governor Walz to make massive investments into affordable housing that is energy efficient as well.

The bills that weren’t being supported were:

  • Felony Free Speech & Guilty by Association (SF2011/HF2241 and SF3230/HF2966): 4 bills which would make harsher punishments for water and pipeline protesters.
  • Clean Energy First Act (SF1456): which, while it says that electric companies have to prioritize carbon-free energy, it also defines trash-burning as renewable and coal and gas plants “carbon free resources”.
  • Exempting Climate Impacts from Environmental Review: which says that new projects in Minnesota don’t have to consider the impact they would have on the environment due to carbon emissions. This bill is still being drafted.

After we were given these bills, and an overview of them, we then went to meet with our representatives. I went to meet Rep. Dave Pinto.

We were let in, and about 10 of us squeezed in. We went around introducing ourselves, then got straight down to business. Rep. Pinto immediately expressed his support for what we were doing and the bills we were talking about. The meeting was short, and we only had the time to bring up a few ideas, like how to get moderate Republican support, and short discussions on the bills. By the end of it, Rep. Pinto said that he would co-author the House Solar in Schools bill, which would mean he would be signing his name as someone that was supportive of the bill.

Then, we tried to go meet with Sen. Dick Cohen. We didn’t have a meeting with the senator though, so our meeting failed, but we left letters expressing what bills we supported and what we didn’t.

After that, I participated in one of the student-led workshops. There were many of those over the day, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to see most of them, but I managed to catch one. “Raising the pressure on legislators”, in which one of the students led us through how to contact your legislators and more effectively express your opinions and ideas to them. We were given instructions and how to write letters and emails, how to make phone calls, and how to be active on social media and the community.

We were also given a list of places to look for other events to become active in: US Climate Strike, MN Climate Strike, and Yea! MN.

Then, there was lunch, which may have been my favorite part of the day.

After that, all of us walked up into a sanctuary and filed in row by row, to listen to a whole host of speakers.

The first speaker introduced Will Steger, who founded ClimateGeneration, one of the programs leading the summit. Then came Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan who discussed the need to be active in politics and the fight against climate change. Following her came Governor Tim Walz, who talked about the urgency of battling climate change and how we as young people had to protest, to demand our rights.

Before this summit, I had barely known who Governor Walz was, much less how much of a contested character he was to the climate change activists at the summit. He only spoke for ten minutes, and left at the end without taking any questions. The entire group had a discussion about what he had said, with many of us coming to the consensus that we were disappointed by his lack of specifics.

After that, we had the chairs of both the house and senate climate justice committees talk to us, in which they discussed the specific actions they were taking, their problems, and how to get involved.

All in all, it was a very long day.

I enjoyed it, getting to talk to our representatives was important and it did feel like having a bit of a voice in politics, but the summit could have been managed a bit better, and I wish we got to meet with more representatives.

I would urge all of you though, even if you were unable to make it, to contact your representatives and make your voices heard, and to join in other events.

Youth Climate Justice Summit

By: Vivian S

If you are currently alive in the world, you have probably heard of climate change. One of the most discussed issues in this day and age, everyone seems to have an opinion about climate change. And youth are no exception, which is why they will be having a discussion about it.

On Wednesday, February 26th, which yes, is a school day, from 8:30am to 3pm, youth will be holding a summit to discuss climate change.

During the summit, youth will learn how to participate in government, specifically on the issue of climate change, and get a chance to speak with their representatives. Youth will also get to listen to youth activists, and learn how they are protesting climate change. While the summit may be about climate change, it also will be talking about how social justice relates to climate justice.

While posters around the school proclaim that the summit will be taking place at the MN State Capitol Building, the website says that it will be taking place in a multitude of buildings, mainly the Good Neighbor Center. The Good Neighbor Center is where the Highland group will be meeting first as well. If you are confused, like I was, you can find a map and instructions of where to go on the website.

To find that map and register, go to: https://www.climategen.org/our-core-programs/yea-mn/youth-climate-justice-summit-2020/.

They very strongly recommend and would like you to register.

If you are worried about transportation, the organizers also have options for that. You can fill out an application for transportation funding (though I’m unsure if they’re taking them anymore given applications were supposed to be turned in by January).

The Highland group is currently trying to work out transportation, but hasn’t yet got anything, if they do get transportation, they will be announcing it via announcements or their Instagram (@hpsavestheworld).

Also, if you are worried about food, there will be food there.

Last year, about 200 youth met with 50 senators at this summit. They participated in workshops, some of which discussed climate justice. Multiple organizations including Yea! MN, MN Can’t Wait, Women for Political Change, and MN350 participated in the event.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, whom I’m assuming is a Minnesota youth, you might want to register and plan to attend. 

Sheridan Story service trip

By: Vivian S

If you are as obsessed with staying up to date with the school announcements as I am, or you look at the posters hung up all around the building, you may be well aware that on Wednesday, February 19th, there will be a service trip to the Sheridan Story.

The Sheridan Story is an organization dedicated to helping defeat child hunger and food insecurity. They work with schools and communities to help children get the food they will need, especially for weekends and breaks.

Not only do they provide food, but they try to make sure it’s healthy, consulting with dieticians from Allina Health and Saint Paul Public Schools.

And Highland Park Senior High is going to head over and help them! The field trip will be from 9:30AM to 12:00PM on February 19th. There are only 100 spots though, so the trip is already full.

If you still want to volunteer, you can sign up to volunteer on the Sheridan Story website.

While I always appreciate service opportunities just because, if you are part of a club or program (*cough* National Honor Society *cough*) that requires service hours, this would also be a good place to get some in. 

To find out more about the Sheridan Story or donate to them go to: https://www.thesheridanstory.org.

The proceeds of the school’s Bid Out, February 10th-18th, will also be going to the Sheridan Story. Bring money to your 2nd period class, the 10 classes that raise the most money will be going to ComedySportz, an improv comedy show.

CCRC

By: Vivian S

Right beside the counselors office in our fair school lies the humble College and Career Resource Center. If you go to Highland, you may know of it, considering it sends out an email and updates Schoology every two weeks with its newsletter. But exactly what services does the CCRC offer?

The CCRC newsletter includes information about: summer camps and programs you can sign up for, ACT tests and resources to prepare for the test, and events hosted by colleges. The newsletter also has information about volunteer opportunities and job opportunities, with a few requirements and details for each. Finally, a list of scholarships, requirements, deadlines, and the amount of the scholarship can also be found in the newsletter. 

Walking into the CCRC, I could already see that it had many tables for students to work at. It had a few computers and a laptop cart, along with a printer that costs 5 cents per page. There was a small shelf with ACT prep books that could be checked out, and students were sitting, doing work, and talking to Ms. Baheriy about scholarships. I was honestly surprised by how busy the CCRC was, with people constantly handing papers in to Ms. Baheriy.

Ms. Baheriy graciously agreed to sit down and tell me what the CCRC does.

The CCRC is a place for students to prepare for colleges and careers, and get help planning those. Students come in to discuss and work on college and job applications, and career planning. Ms. Baheriy described her help as providing students with guidance and sharing all the options they have.

She also had some tips for students, saying that we should all start planning early instead of later. To start preparing for college, during the fall, there are many college visits, so researching colleges then would be helpful. She also encouraged students to look at the CCRC newsletter.

For applying to scholarships, she told me that most scholarships aren’t based off of what college you go to, but that many don’t open up until senior year.

The CCRC is open at any hour so students can have a place to work. If Ms. Baheriy isn’t available, students can make an appointment with her. But remember, the CCRC is not a place to hang out and eat lunch.

For more information, here is the CCRC’s website https://www.spps.org/Page/8150.

Read Brave

By: Vivian S

Are you looking for a new book to read, despite the fact that you never get around to reading anything, and your pile of recommendations is growing in the corner of your house, and you can’t motivate yourself to read them? So am I!

The Saint Paul Public Libraries are once again doing their yearly Read Brave program. Read Brave is a city-wide program where everyone is encouraged to read the same one or two books to learn about an issue facing our world.

The issue this year is climate justice. The main book is The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, with a non-fiction option Climate Justice by Mary Robinson.

The Marrow Thieves is a dystopian young-adult novel, taking place in a future in which climate change has destroyed the whole world, and people no longer have the ability to dream. Indigenous people are the only ones still able to dream, and are hunted for it. The story follows Frenchie, who is on the run.

Climate Justice is about the impact climate change has on ordinary people, and their struggles to survive and find sustainable solutions.

I have not read these books, so most of that information came from their summaries (which aren’t always representative of what the book will be about).

At the end of the program, the Read Brave author, who this year is Cherie Dimaline, will visit Saint Paul and talk about the book. Dimaline will be coming March 11th through the 13th.

The book club will be reading The Marrow Thieves for their February meeting, and already have copies, so if you are interested, visit Ms. Rahman. The environmental club will be reading Climate Justice.

Read Brave is one of the biggest programs sponsored by the Saint Paul libraries, and an amazing opportunity to read a new perspective and meet an author. I, for one, will be taking advantage of this program.

The Good Club Vol. 2: Food drive

By: Vivian S.

One of Highland Park’s newest clubs is back at it again. The Good Club will be holding a food drive this week.

They will be collecting donations of food and/or hygiene products up until December 12th, when later that night, during parent-teacher conferences, they will be passing out the food to HP students next to the auditorium from 5-7pm.

If you have any donations, you can bring them to Ms. Jane’s room or Ms Ostendorf’s room (2207 and 2208).

So, once again, to find out more, I interviewed Cailin and Delaney, two of the people running the club.

Please note that these are not direct quotes. 

V: What is your goal for the food drive?

C&D: To make food security less of a taboo topic in our school, as many of our students do need food, we’re hoping to make it more normalized.

V: What do you want people to donate, and is there anything you do not want?

C&D: Anything is fine, especially canned and boxed food, stuff kids can make for themselves. Not fresh produce, milk, or eggs though. Healthier options if you have any.

V: What do you plan on doing with any remaining food?

C&D: There is a food shelf here, so it’s going to be put there, and if there isn’t enough room, the rest will go to a local food shelf.

V: Do you plan on doing it again?

C&D: Yes, if given the opportunity and resources to do it again, we’ll do it again.

V: How much more food do you need to reach your goal?

C&D: A lot, we don’t have a goal, we just want as much food as possible.

V: How are you getting donations, and who from? I heard you talking about getting donations from Cub and a dentist’s?

C&D: Members of the club reached out to specific stores to ask for donations, and neighbors and friends. 

V: Why did you choose to do a food drive?

C&D: Hunger is something that isn’t really talked about in our school, and we wanted to bring awareness to it as it is important.

V: Do you have any plans for your next project?

C&D: No.

Black Friday

By: Vivian S

As the great day of destroying and devouring a turkey approached, so did another holiday that I feared much more. Black Friday is came on November 29th. 

I remember as a child hating Black Friday, when my mom would drag me around the overcrowded stores for hours. I still do hold a distaste for it, but it also intrigues me. 

Why do we have a holiday for a day that is just stores selling all their items on sale? The day after Christmas isn’t a public holiday of this much renown. So why does Black Friday exist?

My research for this immediately became complicated with all the different origin stories I was inundated with.

I first found a History.com article that listed 4 different origins of Black Friday, though only one was listed as the “true” beginning of the holiday. The holiday apparently comes from Philadelphia, “Black Friday” being a term the police would use to describe the chaos of the day after Thanksgiving, when everyone would go out shopping in advance of the Army-Navy football game. None of the cops were allowed to take the day off, they would have to work extended shifts, and shoplifters would take this opportunity to do as shoplifters do. 

The term eventually spread, and retailers found a way to spin it in a positive light for them with all the sales.

However, the term Black Friday wasn’t even used in the beginning to describe the holiday. Instead, it was first used to describe the collapse of the gold market in the 1800s because two stock-brokers tried to make themselves rich and it didn’t work. 

The article listed other stories of how Black Friday originated, but says the one I repeated above was the correct one.

Yet, that still didn’t answer to me why Black Friday is such a popular holiday.

Wikipedia says that Black Friday marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, and that many employees are given the day off as part of Thanksgiving, which could be reasons for its popularity.

In the end, I don’t think the endurance of Black Friday will ever make sense to me, and I will just have to live with it, and the shopping my mom will drag me around for.