Library Read Down

By: Vivian S

‘Tis the season of giving, and right now, our library is giving us a huge deal! Kicking off this month, December, you can go to the library during lunch, study hall, or after school to read down your fines. For every 15 minutes you read, $2 will be taken off your fines.

To participate, go to the library and check in at the desk. You will be given a slip of paper. On it, write down your start time and your end time, and then turn it in at the front desk at the end.

The read down does not extend to fines you have for equipment, such as iPads.

This is the second year of the read down here. Last year, students only received $1 for every 15 minutes. Not a lot of kids took advantage of this event last year, and we are hoping more will choose to this year.

Another way to read down your fines is during English class. If you have free choice reading time in your English class, you can go up to your teacher and ask them for the slip of paper so you can read down your fines! You hand in the slip of paper with your times on it to the teacher at the end of class.

Other libraries also offer programs like this. Some only offer it for particular months or days. At the Ramsey County Library, you can come in on the first Saturday of every month to read down your fines, for every 15 minutes you will get $1.

The read down is an incredible way to promote reading while allowing students to reduce or eliminate their fines.

I urge everyone to take advantage of this offer to read down any fines they might have.

NaNoWriMo

by: Vivian S

Image taken from: https://nanowrimo.org/press Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

In July 1999, 21 people in the San Francisco Bay Area challenged one another to write 50,000 words in one month. Surprisingly, they found it fun and decided to continue on doing it. It has grown since then, with 394,507 people participating in 2017, in 646 regions.

National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, is a challenge that anyone can take on to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. They have a website where you can sign up and make an account, and it tracks your progress and tells you how many words you should write each day to complete that goal. With the website, you can receive pep talks from other authors, get support, meet other writers online, find out about events in your area, and all around challenge yourself. NaNoWriMo awards badges that you can earn over the month for your achievements.

Some novels written over the course of NaNoWriMo have been published and become successful. Examples include Marissa Meyer’s Cinder and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

NaNoWriMo is run by a non-profit organization that hosts other events as well. They have a Young Writers Program and a Camp NaNoWriMo. They used to do a script writing event, but they don’t do it any longer.

In the Young Writers Program, you can participate alone or in a classroom. You can set word count goals and work toward them. Educators can create online classrooms where they can keep track of student progress.

In April and July, Camp NaNoWriMo is hosted, and it is where you set your own word count goals and work toward them.

Even after November, you are still urged to continue to work on your NaNoWriMo novel. In January and February, they host “Now What?” months where you can work on revising and publishing your novel.

NaNoWriMo is an event that anyone can take on to put words on paper (or computer) and challenge themselves.

For more information, go to https://nanowrimo.org

The mail bomber

By: Vivian S

Starting Monday, October 22, bombs targeting noticeable Democrats were found in the mail. The mail bombs were sent to: Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, George Soros, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Eric Holder, Rep. Maxine Waters, Robert De Niro, James Clapper, Sen. Kamala Harris, and Sen. Cory Booker. A bomb was also sent to CNN, specifically to John Brennan, who is a periodic contributor to CNN.

Federal authorities say that the bombs were real and a danger. So far, 15 bombs have been intercepted.

The suspect is a Florida man named Cesar Sayoc, 56. He was arrested by authorities on October 26, at an auto parts store. He had previously been arrested nine times. He had apparently threatened to blow up Florida Power & Light before when the worker he had called recorded their conversation. He was arrested, and Sayoc pleaded guilty was put on probation. On social media, he was an avid Trump supporter.

Sayoc’s van was covered in Trump-related stickers. One sticker read “CNN Sucks,” and there were targets on pictures of those he disliked, such as Hillary Clinton. Investigators believe that he lived in his van and made the bombs there. Inside there were objects that could be linked to the crime.

He apparently had a list of hundreds he was going to target. It is thought that he was still in the process of sending out bombs and that more might be in the postal system.

Prosecutors have called what he did a domestic terror attack and said that he had been planning this since July. They found that he had created a document, in July, with the return address he used, and that he had searched up Hillary Clinton’s address then as well.

Sayoc is facing five federal charges and up to 48 years in prison. The charges are as follows: illegal mailing of explosives, interstate transportation of an explosive, threats against Presidents and other persons, threatening interstate communications, and assaulting federal officers.

For more information please visit: cnn.com

SPPS school budget referendum

By: Vivian S

This year, the St. Paul Public School District has placed on the ballot a referendum on raising the property tax levy to increase the district’s budget. The referendum will increase the amount of money the district receives per pupil from $704.52 to $1179.52. The estimated tax impact on an average homeowner would be $11 more per month.

If voters approve the referendum, the money will be used to: boost achievement, improve mental health, foster social-emotional learning, and help middle schools better prepare kids for high school. It will limit additional budget cuts. The district has already cut more than $50 million over the past three years.

If voters do not pass the referendum, the district might have to: cut programs for students that need help with basic academic skills, cut staff and other programs, and cut support staff (custodial, clerical, etc.). Most likely, they would start by cutting the electives and after-school programs.

SPPS has a strategic plan they wish to implement: they want to help English Language Learners more, assist students receiving special education, improve kindergarten readiness, help students grow academically in reading and math, and prepare everyone for college and life. They also wish to decrease the disparity of achievement based on race, culture, ethnicity, and identity.

SPPS is currently facing a $17.2 million budget shortfall, and they are not alone in their budget troubles. Minneapolis Public Schools are also trying to push through their own referendum for similar reasons. Up to now, no agreement has been made on how to handle the shortfall. One thing is clear, though: our schools need more money to operate.

SPPS, although the second largest school district in Minnesota, receives about $320 per student less than the metro district average. SPPS says they need this referendum because the state, which provides the majority of school funding, has not kept up with inflation and the needs of schools, which has put strain on the operating budget and caused the school system to rely on operating levies for many critical functions. The second largest amount of money that schools receive is from local communities, through operating levies like this one.

SPPS maintains they spend money wisely: they spend less on district administration and more on classrooms. Schools are an important part of many childrens’ lives, and the school system needs more money to give them the best education.

For more information about this topic, please visit:

https://www.spps.org/referendum2018

Interview of Ms. Boruff

By: Vivian S

Ms. Boruff is a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) here at Highland, and I recently decided to interview her.
Ms. Boruff chose to become a SLP because she has an aunt who’s an SLP. Her mom also took the course in college and now is an SLP. They both encouraged her to try it out.

For her job, Ms. Boruff helps students that have difficulties with communicating in any way. She helps people find their voice and gain confidence. This includes: students with a stutter, students with a difficulty in producing speech sounds, students with a cognitive difficulty in producing language, nonverbal students, and hard of hearing students (though no HoH students right now). She helps students with social skills as well.

Some of the things she loves about Highland are the students she gets to work with, the staff, and the number of opportunities students get at Highland. She doesn’t like how early she has to get up in the morning though.

Some of her favorite activities are cooking, skiing, biking, running, and hiking. In the past, she has coached track, and right now she is helping coach the Nordic Ski Team. She helps the varsity coach and is the main coach for the A Squad. She teaches students the fundamentals of skiing and prepares them for competitive racing.

Ms. Boruff used to work in the early childhood inclusion program (children 3-5 years old), and with children from birth to three years old. With the 0-3 year olds, she helped children with a wide range of disabilities that put them at risk for speech difficulties in the future. With the 3-5 year olds she did intense speech therapy groups.

This is her 8th year at Highland and she is looking forward to it.

Libraries and the services they offer

By: Vivian S

Libraries offer a great many services to everybody, especially students, that we should be taking advantage of. First of all, libraries have a wide range of books that we can borrow at almost any time, which are very useful for both research and leisure reading.

The Saint Paul Public Libraries also offer students Library Go, so we all have our own accounts now. With Library Go, we have free music downloads with Freegal, we can check out ebooks from a giant online collection on Overdrive, and we can also get audiobooks and magazines.

The library has also created a resource list that we can use for research. It has a wide variety of sites that cover many different subjects. It starts us out with many trusted sites.

There is homework help offered both at the libraries and online. You can find a list of when the in-person help is available at: http://www.sppl.org/homework/homework-centers/.

For the online help you can use Brainfuse HelpNow, although you may need to make your own account. Brainfuse has many services such as mock tests you can take, explanations of subjects, and flashcards to review. You can even send in questions to be answered, and there is live tutoring online as well. The homework help is a very good resource.

The library also offers to print documents for you, and there are computers you can use. There are also ACT practice tests and driver’s permit practice tests available.

There are many different book clubs you can join. One for teens is called Teens Know Best, where you get to read young adult books before they are published. There are also events you can join, such as Createch.

Most Saint Paul libraries open between 10 a.m. and noon, and they close between 5 and 8 p.m. The schedule is online and varies by location and day.

Ms. Rahman, our school librarian, has told me about the variety of services the school library offers, including a giant collection of books in multiple languages, iPad help, research help, printing, board games, and puzzles.

All in all, if you have not started using the library’s resources yet, you really should.