Highland Park Senior Class 2016 graduation


photo courtesy of C. Lambert

The day June 8, 2016 will now be remembered for the graduation of Highland’s 2016 Senior Class. On that night, friends and family of the graduating class gathered together to celebrate this monumental night in all of our lives. The ceremony was held at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in downtown Saint Paul, and started at 5:30 p.m.

The night was kicked off by the Highland Park Symphonic Band, directed by Joel Matuzak. The Symphonic Band was followed up by a welcome speech from the Senior Class Advisor Charlotte Landreau.

Once finished, the Highland Park Concert Choir, conducted by Kate Mendenhall sang the National Anthem. The National Anthem was followed by greetings from Michelle Walker, as well as Zuki Ellis. After their greetings, the Concert Choir sang their final peace “Seasons of Love”.

After the Concert Choir sang, members of the Senior Class Council stood on the stage and gave their greeting speech. The Class Council speech was followed by a soloist performance from Claudia Stensrud of “Unwritten”.

The Student Valedictory Speech came next, presented by Leah Kanihan.

Then the Symphonic Band played another piece, before Richard Jensen (who had been chosen by the graduating Senior Class) gave his Commencement Address.

This was followed by Dr. Winston H. Tucker’s presentation of the graduating class, and Mary Vanderwert Conferring of Diplomas.

Then came the Presentation of Graduates, who were welcomed up on stage by members of the Senior Class Council.

Lastly was the farewell, arranged by Joel Matuzak and the Symphonic Band. Friends and family were then invited to meet the graduates in Tower Hall, where they received their diplomas after the ceremony.

Highland’s Hiway Federal Credit Union

Here at Highland Park High School there are already a lot of basic things that are provided for the students here, but last week a bank was opened in the school for the students do basic transactions such as withdrawals and deposits

The bank will be open from 11:00 am after first lunch and will be open until 12:15 pm. The bank will be run by three Highland Park Senior High students, Eva Clelland, Salyne Vang, and Samuel Vazquez Ocampo. The students were contacted through their counselors about the job opening. The students will be paid, along with getting a school service credit.

~b487695The bank is run through Hiway Federal Credit Union. Along with being able to withdraw and deposit money, Hiway Federal Credit Union is also offering special Highland Park Senior High debit cards. The debit cards will display a special Highland logo on it.

Information was collected from the counselors and students involved in making/running the bank.

For more information, stop by the Hiway Federal Credit Union, or ask your counselor, and don’t forget to signup for your new bank account.

Harsher penalties for bias crimes

asma-jama-gofundme-attackMinnesota lawmakers recently passed a bill to increase the penalty of crimes committed for bias reasons. The problem was brought to light by a case in October, when Asma Jama, a Muslim women was attacked. While dining in a Coon Rapids Applebee’s, Jama was struck across the face with a beer bottle, for speaking Swahili. Jama received deep cuts to her right eyebrow, nose, and lower lip, needing a total of 15 stitches. Jama was attacked by Jodie Burchard-Risch, a 43 year old Ramsey Resident.

Third-degree assault charges are classified under felony with up to 5 years of imprisonment, whereas a hate crime would be classified under a misdemeanor, which has a far less harsher punishment. Burchard-Risch was charged with third-degree assault by the Anoka County District Court. Members of the Minnesota Council on Islamic-American Relations were pushing for Burchard-Risch to be charged with a hate crime. However, the Members of the Minnesota Council on Islamic-American Relations were not only pushing for a hate crime, but they also wanted the severity of hate crime punishments to increase.

Increasing the penalty on bias crimes in Minnesota should help to lower levels of hate crimes. By not allowing hate crimes to fly under the radar like as third-degree assaults, and charging the attackers with felonies instead of misdemeanors, Minnesota is not only making an effective step to stopping hate crimes, but is also showing where it stands when it comes to discrimination.

For more information: http://bringmethenews.com/2016/03/19/proposed-bill-would-see-harsher-penalties-for-crimes-motivated-by-bias/

Nordic Skiing

This year at Highland Park, the girls Nordic Skiing team along with some individual qualifiers have been sent to state. Before the state tournament, some of the Nordic Skiers, along with their coach Mr. Moening had been interviewed.

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photo courtesy of Mr. Moening

Mr. Moening was asked, “In what ways had he seen his Nordic Skiers improve from the previous year?” The main focus of Mr. Moening’s answers was commitment. He had mentioned how he had seen more determination among his skiers, not only when it came to preparing for a meet, but as well as exercising in the off season.

Nordic Skiers are recommended to continue cardio exercises in the off season, and Mr. Moening mentions a noticeable improvement in skiers who continue their workouts throughout the summer.

Coach Moening is not the only one who recommends regular exercise. His daughter, Erin Moening, who earned a place among the top ten individuals at the state tournament, would also recommend committing to exercise in off season.

The times earned by the Highland Park participants in the state tournament are available to the public at:

Boys: http://sports.spps.org/Team/highlandpark/HS/boys/varsity/nordic_skiing/2015-2016

Girls: http://sports.spps.org/sport/hs/girls/varsity/nordic_skiing/2015-2016

Threatening posts

On Monday January 18th, Black Lives Matter protesters gathered at the corner of University and Snelling Ave at 1P.M. for a MLK Day march to the capital.

Saint Paul Police Sergeant Jeffrey M. Rothecker posted an online statement informing viewers on ways to run over the gathering protesters and avoid charges. This is particularly concerning because an officer, whose purpose is to protect the general public, is providing ways to harm civilians.20160118__1-JMRoth_policeBLM

Mayor Chris Coleman expressed his outrage and stated, “There is no room in the St. Paul Police Department for employees who threaten members of the public”. Coleman also stated that if the allegation was true, strong action would be taken.

A statement was released by Saint Paul Police Federation (the union that represents police) in regards to Rothecker’s online post. In the statement Rothecker writes, “I am extremely sorry for posting what I did, I understand that the post was insensitive and wrong. My poor choice of words conveyed a message I did not intend and am not proud of”.

Currently the police force put Rothecker on paid leave while they investigate.

For more information, please visit: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/01/19/police-officer-suspended-for-allegedly-urging-drivers-to-run-over-black-lives-matter-idiots/

Virtual Reality

The next big step in electronics is planned to be released this year in 2016. Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are headsets that allow the user to feel like like they are in a variety of situations. At the moment there are few companies that produce VR headsets. The main VR headsets include the Oculus Rift which is produced by Facebook, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, and Sony’s Morpheus.
While most of the VR headsets will be quite pricey, Samsung Gear VR offers a cheaper form of VR. Samsung Gear VR is priced at around $99. Samsung Gear VR allows the user to use their Samsung smartphone as the screen for the headset, however not all Samsung smartphones will work with the Samsung Gear VR.

Oculus-Rift-imageAt the other end of the VR spectrum you have Facebook’s Oculus Rift. Oculus Rift focuses more on quality. Oculus Rift is not yet out in the market, however on its website, you can pre-order the Oculus Rift for $599.

Many skeptics believe Virtual Reality will not become a big part of the future of technology due to the high prices, and because VR companies mainly target gamers. However, despite popular beliefs, VR headsets have a variety of uses other than games. Other than feeling as though the user is in a game, VR users can watch movies and television, visit significant landmarks, ect. Virtual Reality also can be used for purposes other than entertainment, such as military training, construction, education, medical purposes, and more.

For more virtual reality uses visit: http://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality-applications/

E. Coli outbreak

News is spreading about Chipotle’s new health situation. The popular food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill has recently been linked to reported cases of E. Coli (Escherichia Coli). ~8949339E. Coli is a bacteria that generally lives in the lower intestines of humans and animals and is not harmful. However, some strains of E. Coli, in this case Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O26 A.K.A. “STEC 026”, can cause an intestinal infection. Symptoms of an intestinal infection include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. More severe cases have had reported symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, dehydration and sometimes kidney failure. Younger children, older adults, and pregnant women have increased risks of developing complications. E. Coli can be caused by improperly treated food or water, however properly treating food and water, along with good hygiene immensely decrease the risks of getting an intestinal infection.

So far there have been 52 reported cases of E Coli linked to Chipotle. These 52 reported cases are spread out over 9 states. 1 person reported having been infected by STEC 026 in Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. There have been 2 reported cases in Minnesota. California and Ohio both experienced 3 reported cases. In Oregon there have been 13 reported cases. Washington has had the most reported cases with 26. Out of the 52 reported cases there have been zero deaths, however, 20 of the reported cases had to be hospitalized.

47 (90%) of the overall 52 cases, reported to have eaten at Chipotle within a week before they fell ill. Chipotle is working with public health officials to understand the distribution of the food items served at the locations where individuals who contracted STEC 026 ate.

For more information, please go to: http://www.CDC.gov

Beats Music canceled

Word has spread that the popular Beats Music app is going to be discontinued on November 30th by Apple. Apple’s decision to discontinue the application was able to happen due to Android now offering Apple Music on the Android app market Google Play Store.

On November 30th, all Beats Music subscriptions will be cancelled, but until then, Beats is offering ways to move your preferences and picks to Apple Music. Apple is hoping for the subscribers of Beats Music to then transfer over to Apple Music following the discontinuation

beats-music-logo-650-430-600x400In a document shared by the Beats Music website, http://www.beatsmusic.com,
Beats is no longer allowing new applicants, as well as asking previous subscribers to switch to Apple Music. Beats points out new and improved features to Apple music such as better music recommendations, along with the Beats 1 radio as well.

The Beats website is also offering help for a variety of topics such as offering resources for migrating from Beats Music to Apple Music on both Android and Apple products, unused balance questions, the costs of the service, ect


SPPS school start times

St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) has been looking into whether or not they should change their current school start times.

According to spps.org, the official website of the school district, the leading recommendation made by SPPS leaders is for SPPS to keep their current starting times for 2016-2017. Although the leading recommendation is for start times to remain the same for 2016-2017, SPPS is hopeful to continue working with Metro Transit to find a solution. SPPS also presented the Board of Education with two alternative options for start times.

The alternative options would be to change the school start times, overlooking the downside such as the $2 million increase due to less efficient bus routes, and the changing of 90% of schools’ start times, including elementary schools, causing difficulties for many families and staff.

The second alternative is for SPPS to stop searching for possible ways to change start times, and remain with the current structure. SPPS contacted Metro Transit in a year-long process of research and analysis, along with conversing about a possible partnership between Metro Transit and SPPS.

The main advantage of the partnership between Metro Transit and SPPS, would be allowing the majority of elementary schools to keep their current start times, creating less of an impact on families, staff, transportation costs, and school programs.

Despite SPPS and Metro Transit’s efforts to find a solution to school start times, in mid-September Metro Transit contacted SPPS notifying them they did not have the capacity/resources to expand to more high schools. Metro Transit notified SPPS that their east metro garage does not have the space to house any more busses, and for Metro Transit to expand to additional high schools, it would require an estimate of 20 more busses.

For more detailed information about possible changes in school start times, please go to: http://www.spps.org/starttimes

To Infinity and Beyond

featured-space-policyA new and rising company Celestis offers the chance to honor the deceased in a new and unique way. Celestis gives families a chance to send the cremated remains of their loved ones into space. Celestis offers multiple services ranging in prices from $1,295 to $32,500. Celestis has an “Earth Rise” service, an “Earth Orbit” service, a “Luna” service, and the “Voyager” service.

The “Earth Rise” service gives families the opportunity a chance to launch a symbolic portion of their cremated deceased into space, which will then return back home to the family.

“Earth Orbit” offers families the option to send the cremated remains of the deceased into orbit where it is estimated to stay anywhere from 10 to 240 years, after which it will reenter the atmosphere where it will harmlessly vaporize like a shooting star.

The “Luna” service will be sending cremated remains to the surface of the moon.

Lastly the “Voyager” service will send cremated remains out of Earths orbit and onward and outward to the depths of space.

Like Celestis, a company called Elysium Space offered more affordable plans for the same concept. Elysium Space sends the created remains into orbit for months or years, and like Celestis’s “Earth Orbit” service, the remains will eventually reenter the atmosphere, and vaporize. Elysium Space’s service is a low price of $2,000, where as Celestis offers the same service for $4,995. $2,000 is a great deal compared to the average $6,000 it cost to host a funeral, according to the National Funeral Director’s Association.

Elysium is working closely with commercial space flight companies, and soon hopes to widen their variety of services, much like Celestis. Much like Celestis, Elysium hopes to allow families the choice to send their deceased family to the moon, deep space, and even the sun.

As space funerals are gaining more popularity, other creative forms of spreading cremated remains are surfacing. Entrepreneur Steven Mitchell is developing a service to launch the cremated remains into the sky, using mini rockets, which it will then explode, scattering the ashes. Mitchell is working on developing a “do it yourself” version, along with a more advanced version that should travel the speed of sound.