The Good Club

By: Vivian S

Everything is fine. You’re in the Good Club. Or, at least, you could be.

But why should you be in the Good Club? What do they even do? To satisfy my curiosity and hopefully your own, I went to one of their meetings.

Upon arriving, everyone signed in, and for the first five minutes of the meeting, more and more students streamed in until Ms. Ostendorf’s room was almost full. Then, they began the meeting with a short presentation, discussing the activities of the club and their aim, which is to help the community.

The Good Club will be participating in the event Trunk or Treat hosted by HopeKids. This will include decorating their cars until they are the coolest things rolling down the streets. They then participate in giving out candy to kids at a set location.

HopeKids is the organization that the Good Club will be working with this quarter. They provide events and support to children with life-threatening diseases and their families. Each month, they have a different activity for the whole family, such as sporting events or concerts. If you want to learn more about them, go to https://www.hopekids.org.

While I was there, I interviewed Cailin and Delaney, two of the people running the club.

They say that how they would describe what they do in the club is that they work with nonprofit organizations to create a better community. They formed it because they believed that there needed to be more service opportunities at Highland, especially for underclassmen.

They say others should participate as it is a great opportunity to meet new people and get involved. Even if you are unable to go to meetings, they say you can still volunteer on your own time and sign up for some of the events the club does.

Their goal for the club is to make connections with other organizations and continue to work with them in the future. Also, to build relationships in between students.

Even with their room almost filled to capacity, they still urge more people to join.

They meet at 7:45AM on Thursday mornings, in room 2208, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they have to move to the auditorium. Be sure to check it out!

A limited number of bathroom passes

I’m sure every student has, or will at one point, encounter a teacher that will only give out a limited number of bathroom passes for the quarter or semester. They may give out so few bathroom passes that even with your best attempts to not use the bathroom during that class you would be unable to avoid running out.

But why do teachers choose to enact such regulations?

I spoke with two teachers on why they choose to give out limited bathroom passes and their answers were rather similar. They want students to remain in class and focus on the material.

One of the teachers, when she had not had this rule, had too many students missing too much class time and felt it was likely they were goofing off in the bathroom.

Both teachers believe the number of passes they give out is sufficient so if it actually is an emergency they’ll be able to go, and that passing time, or the amount of time they will give them at the beginning of class (one teacher gives their students an extra 5 minutes at the beginning of class to use the bathroom), is enough.

One of the teachers also made the point as due to the new cellphone policy it is more likely that students will go to the bathroom just to use their phone.

They say these regulations have been working to accomplish their goals. Students are spending much more time in class and without having to manage what kids are in the bathroom or who is going next, class seems to run much smoother.

They say that each teacher runs their class a certain way and knows what is best for it, but if they are having problems with students using the bathroom, this is a solution for them.

However, the students I interviewed seemed to have some different ideas than the teachers. 8 out of 9 of them said that they did not support teachers giving out a limited number of bathroom passes. A majority of them did say there might be ways for the policy to be changed enough for them to support it though. 

Most of them also said that while it depends on the class, passing time is not enough to use the bathroom, unlike what the teachers believe.

7 out of 9 of them said that it did not help students pay attention in class, as if they need to use the restroom, but are unable to, they would not be able to pay attention.

So, while teachers who implement this rule think it is good and helps students pay attention, students seem to be of the opposite opinion.

Metro Transit summer bus pass

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to spend my entire summer at my house. There is an easy solution to that though. Metro Transit is offering summer bus passes to high school students for $29.

June 1st through September 3rd, students will be able to ride on buses and trains under a $3.25 fare with this pass unlimitedly. One of the services this pass will not pay for are the Northstar trips, so please, do not try to use these passes for it. The passes can only be used between 5am and 10pm. Students that get the passes must agree to Metro Transit’s code of conduct. Each student can only get one pass.

Highland is one of the high schools participating, and seniors can also get this pass.

Connected to this program, Metro Transit is partnering with Second Harvest Heartland. They are offering nutritious, free meals to kids and teens over the summer at specific sites, which you can use the pass to get to. If you want to learn more about them, visit: https://www.2harvest.org/who–how-we-help/services-and-programs/programs/sfsp/participant-page.html?utm_source=metrotransit#.XPe3TslOk0M.

If you wish to buy the pass using cash, you can buy it at Metro Transit Service Center.

If you plan on using the bus this summer, I would suggest getting this pass to save money.

If you are wondering what other schools are participating, or where to buy the pass, go to: https://www.metrotransit.org/summer-student-pass.

Metro Transit suggests that you register your pass when you have received it. That allows them to replace your pass easily if it has been lost or stolen for a $5 processing fee.

Sales this year began on May 15th, so if you enjoyed the pass this year, be on a lookout around then next year for it.

Teen Summer Spark

By: Vivian S

Do any of you remember participating in the Summer Spark program at the library before? Reading some books and then going to library and getting a prize? Well, this year there is another Teen Summer Spark with a new list of books to read.

There is With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo, which is about a teen mother who is trying to balance completing high school and her dream of being a chef.

Then there is The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf. The story takes place during the 1969 race riots in Malaysia, which I have only quickly researched. It seems to be that the Malay and Chinese populations there have always had tensions, but after an election, which afterwards, many Malays marched in Kuala Lumpur (a predominantly Chinese city and where our story takes place), and that march devolved into violence. During this, a sixteen-year old teenager is trying to find her mother, but must first get through prejudice, violence, and her own OCD.

Another is Lovely War by Julie Berry. This story is told by the Greek goddess Aphrodite, and it’s about 4 people who fall in love during the First World War, and the challenges they face.

There is Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka. This book is a graphic novel, and it is all about the author’s life. It is about his mom, who is an addict, his grandparents, who he lives with, and his father, who he does not know.

Also, there is On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. A follow-up to The Hate U Give, this book tells the story of a sixteen-year old rapper, who pours her emotions into her first song, and ends up in the center of a controversy.

There is Genesis Begins Again by Alicia Williams. About a thirteen-year old girl who tries to lighten her skin many times, thinking that her dark skin is the source of all her family’s problems, before she finds reasons to love herself as she is.

Finally, there is We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai. This not only tells the story of Malala Yousafzai herself, but also of many other people she met in refugee camps and other places during her journeys.

You can read and rate any of these books, or your own choice books, and by filling out a slip, you can a win a book, a journal, and an opportunity to spin a prize wheel (which you can only do in August).

To find out more, please go to: https://sppl.bibliocommons.com/list/share/1165043747_sppl_teens/1397988357_teen_summer_spark_2019?_ga=2.67466577.1190286460.1556283232-6556837.1536076982.

Frankenstein

Frankenstein, is an old gothic novel written by Mary Shelley (or, as I like to call it, “All the reasons I hate Victor Frankenstein”).

I read this novel last year for school, expecting it to be wonderful, and I was disappointed, and this year, I have to read it again, so if I must suffer thus, you must suffer with me.

Let me begin with the good parts of this novel. I quite enjoy some of the plot and the ideas. Victor Frankenstein creates a being, and refuses to take responsibility for it because it is ugly, and after being rejected from society again and again, the being becomes a monster.

However, beyond the interesting discussions I can have about this book, I still do not enjoy it.

The novel is written in a way in which the same idea will be stated over and over again, multiple times in a chapter, in almost the same words. There are only so many times I can read “Victor was sad” on a page without wanting to chuck the book across a room. Beyond that, I found very little of the narration interesting, and the only way I could even slightly focus was by writing sarcastic comments down.

Which leads to my next problem, Victor Frankenstein, our narrator is the most annoying character I have ever had the misfortune of having to read. Victor is self-centered and refuses to take any responsibility. He will constantly state about how much he is suffering. His suffering is even worse than that girl who has been sentenced to death! Where everyone else is trying to cheer one another up, Victor refuses to do anything.

Overall, even though the themes and ideas of the book were good, the narration and style made it impossible for me to read.

Into the Woods

By: Vivian S

Into the Woods, presented by Highland Theater, is a musical, where dozens of fairy tale characters, you may or may not recognize, appear. Directed by Nancy Michael, many people participated in the making and success of the play. The play was split into two acts, with an intermission between them.

The basic plot of the play is that a baker (Logan Staeheli) and his wife (Leah Terry) can’t have children because a witch (Sidra Michael) cursed their family, so they have to collect ingredients for a spell for the witch. Their paths end up crossing with Red Riding Hood (Leah Morley), Cinderella (Clare Brownlee), and Jack (Soren Chirhart).

Some of my favorite moments included a song featuring the two princes (Thomas Madison and Soren Eversoll) called “Agony”, in which they are fighting over who has it worse. Another moment that had the entire theater rolling in their seats with laughter is when Rapunzel (Amelia Stensrud) drops one of the children. This might have been a mistake but it was hilarious.

Outside the theatre there was a board with pictures of the actors on it where you could leave praise and encouragement. I found that a very nice touch.

The play also gave special acknowledgement to the seniors participating, as for many, this may be the final play here they participate in. In the guide, they had small bios for all the seniors.

Let us also not forget the amazing job that the pit orchestra did during the play. The music added an amazing atmosphere to the play.

I found the props also rather enjoyable and impressive. The crew did a good job in wheeling out trees and Rapunzel’s tower.

That is not to say the play was perfect. I was sitting near the back, and I couldn’t hear half the words, which was unfortunate. I have never seen Into the Woods before, so I did not know the plot or, well, anything. That is why, when the play stopped for an intermission, I genuinely thought the play was over and almost left until a person I was sitting by told me it was an intermission.

Overall though, it was enjoyable and there was obviously a lot of work put into it.

Why my cat is better than yours

By: Vivian S.

Listen, many people have cats, as they are one of the most common pets; however, in this article, I will prove to you that my cat is better than yours.

First of all, I have three cats, so I will be combining them all into one, to talk about all their best qualities. And yes, I know that seems slightly unfair, but when you have multiple cats, they all feel just like one embodiment of the meaning of cat. And if you do not have more than one cat to spend all your time on, what are you doing with your life?

Smokey

To begin, my cat has the softest, best fur to pet. It’s short and slightly fluffy, and so, so soft. You could stand around petting any one of my cats for an hour and not even notice the time passing.

My cat also has the best purr, and we all know that cat purrs are essential to life. As you pet her, you can feel the vibration of the purr. In that moment, you truly understand peace, serenity, and paradise.

My cat has the fluffiest tail. I don’t know why I’m including the tail as a positive trait, considering the cat constantly knocks things over with her tail and seems to have no control over it, but it is also very fluffy. You wish your cat had as fluffy a tail as my cat.

Smokey

My cat also curls up on my bed under my blankets. She will curl up into a ball, sometimes with a paw covering her head, and sleep. You have never known true fear until you have begun getting into bed and realize that you almost sat on the cat hidden beneath the blankets. And you have never known the heights of adorableness until you realize how cute they look peeking out from the covers.

My cat also sits on my lap when I watch television, which is the best time to have a cat with you. We will stare at the TV together in silence and dream together of taking over the world.

There is also one big advantage to having multiple cats, and that is seeing them curled up together. While it is rare to see the cats near one another, occasionally you will find two of them curled up side by side on a bed, and it is a sight that can’t be explained in words.

Mio

In conclusion, my cat is the best cat, and you wish that you had her. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean up cat poop.

Youth Climate Strike

By: Vivian S

The Youth Climate Strike, which happened on Friday, March 15th, was when, in over 40 countries, including the US, students walked out of school to raise awareness and fight against climate change.

The movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg, who protested outside the Swedish parliament and delivered a speech to the United Nations Climate Summit, and the short amount of time science says we have to fix our climate.

We have very few years left to transform our energy system and reduce greenhouse gasses until the damage is permanent. The website for the Youth Climate Strike US, https://www.youthclimatestrikeus.org/platform, says they are striking because world leaders have yet to acknowledge or prioritize this issue. They hope that by disrupting the normal flow of things, by not attending school, they can force governments to deal with climate change.

The strike was to demand that: The Green New Deal be put into effect, that there are no more new fossil fuel infrastructures, that the government make decisions based on the newest scientific evidence, that a national emergency be declared about climate change, that there is a comprehensive education on climate change for K-8, that wildlife is preserved, and that water remains clean.

The solutions they propose are: reforestation, the reduction of food waste, to make goals and benchmarks for the reduction of greenhouse gasses, to change the agriculture industry, to use more renewable energy, to stop fracking, and to stop mountaintop removal and mining.

We can only wait and see if this protest had any effect on the policies governments sign into laws, or if there will be any more strikes. But know this, I think these students will be heard, I don’t think this is the last we’ll hear of them.

Govie Leadership Summit

The Govie Leadership Summit was Friday, March 1, at Johnson Senior High. With 20 sessions and over 37 presenters, this year’s summit focused on three categories: social justice and racial equity, developing your leadership style, and building healthy communities.

The summit began with an amazing and hilarious improv show by a group called Blackout Improv. After the breakout sessions, we discussed in small groups the strengths, challenges, and opportunities of our schools and student voice. At the end of the day, Mayor Carter spoke and challenged us to make Saint Paul a better place.

Highland’s own Dare 2 Be Real group presented on “Stereotype Promises vs. Stereotype Threat.” They covered different types of stereotypes and how to combat the problems they raise. D2BR believes this is important, because stereotypes are everywhere, even at schools, where everyone should be treated equal and fairly. For example, teachers may look at an Asian kid, see the smart Asian stereotype, and offer them more help, whereas they perceive another kid as less smart. Teachers may do this without even knowing. This affects the students in the support they receive and their self-esteem. When a minority is faced with a stereotype threat, it is harder for them to succeed and puts more pressure on them.

My first session was “Boss Up,” led by Talea Plata. We began by describing ourselves in the future, beyond just jobs, but also hobbies, how we look, and so on. Then we had a conversation on self-love, the little ways in which we can do it, and why it is important.

My second session, “No One Can Say It Like You Can” empowered us to speak our personal truths. Presenter Annie Humphrey performed songs about their own personal truths. Annie told us not to let others stifle our voice, to not judge others, and to not let our lives be ruled by fear.

My third session, “Screen Scholar — Rethinking How We Watch and Read Stories” led by Tri Vo, was about why diversity in media matters. We started with looking at the basics of storytelling: background, characters, plot, and production value. Then we talked about how we need to have diversity because representation is power. We see people in media and expect others to be like them. We need to be able to see ourselves in media. We can’t not think about representation, because so much of our lives revolves around media.

The summit was enjoyable, and I can only see it getting better and better over time.

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse review

By: Vivian S

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, directed by Peter Ramsey, Robert Persichetti Jr., Rodney Rothman, and Bob Persichetti, was a resounding success. It has made $340.6 million at the box office and has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes (as of this writing), and its success is well deserved.

Into the Spider-Verse centers around Miles Morales, a teen from Brooklyn who is bitten by a spider and gains powers. The movie shows his journey in learning how to become Spider-Man. At the same time, spider people from other dimensions have been thrown into his — and they need to get back home.

The entire movie was amazing to watch. Each character in the movie was fun, with different designs and personalities. The animation was gorgeous, and once the story really got started, it had me hooked. Even though the movie was great, some scenes took it to a whole different level for me. The moment when Miles truly becomes Spider-Man is, in my opinion, the best scene in the entire movie: I could watch it again and again.

This is not to say the movie is perfect. One of the biggest drawbacks for me was all the flashing lights. The trailers weren’t exaggerating the movie’s tendency toward flashing colors and lights, and sometimes it just got too bright.

Another problem for me was that there was so much more about the story and characters that I wanted to see. Looking back now, it feels like some pieces are missing, especially in Gwen’s character arc. From watching the trailers, I figured that Gwen would be one of the main characters, but when I watched the movie, it felt like she took a backseat to Miles and Peter. It feels to me like some of her scenes might have been cut. I think the movie left a lot of opportunities on the table, because the story and characters are so amazing.

All in all, I loved watching this movie: the animation, the story, the humor, the serious moments, the soundtrack, and so on. Everything was amazing! You can tell that a lot of work and talent went into it. I cannot recommend this movie enough.