Are fidget spinners O.K. at Highland?

It seems like at least once a year a new craze will sweep across the youth of America. Whether it’s a new toy, dance, or app, it seems unavoidable. This year, a new trend has spun the world into a debate. What is this subject of mass dispute one might ask? You probably guessed it – the fidget spinner.

If you aren’t aware of what these little gadgets look like, just picture three exposed ball bearings surrounding a capped ball bearing in the middle, connected with plastic. (If that description didn’t help just look at the photograph below).

The creator of the fidget spinner, Catherine Hettinger, had the idea for the now very popular toy more than 20 years ago. When Catherine was in Israel she saw boys throwing rocks at law enforcement officials. This gave here the idea to create a way for kids to release their stress, and negative emotions, in an appropriate fashion. In 1997, she pitched the idea to Hasbro Toys, but was shot down. Despite this setback, she got a patent. Unfortunately for Catherine, she patented the idea back in 1997, and the patent expired just this year; meaning the rightful creator is getting no money or credit. It’s really unfortunate when you consider tens of millions of spinners have been sold within the last few months.

photo courtesy of Elliot Wall

So, what has people all worked up about these seemingly harmless toys? Well, a few things. For one, teachers absolutely despise them because they are just another distraction for a generation with more than enough distractions. So, like cell phones, teachers have started to confiscate all fidget spinners seen out during class. Some schools have went as far as to ban them completely from school grounds.

Another reason people don’t like the little toys are the fact that they are just annoying. People complain about the obnoxious buzzing noise they make. They also complain about the little kids running around wildly spinning.

One more reason people don’t like them is the are “just a fad.” Although it’s 100% true that fidget spinners are a fad, and a kind of dumb fad at that, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t enjoy it.

At Highland, it isn’t uncommon to see a kid with a spinner (one author of this article has three). So, is it O.K. to bring them to class? A few teachers were asked to give their opinion of fidget spinners:

Mrs. Corbett, the math teacher, was asked what she thought when she saw kids spinning in class: “I don’t care when I see them out in class but I don’t think they help with ADD or anything. More like a Tech Deck, just a toy to play with… oh and also the kids who use the app are ridiculous.”  

Agriculture and floral design teacher Ms. Wedger was also asked about fidget spinners in the classroom: “It doesn’t bother me. It really bothers me when kids start timing them [how long they spin] or having competitions. I think they can help a very specific group of people, only sometimes, but most kids don’t need them.”

Finally, Mr. Manthis, an English teacher, was asked about his feelings: “I understand their purpose and I don’t care if people are spinning alone. When kids start passing them back and forth is when it becomes distracting.”

We think that fidget spinners are harmless, but can become a nuisance when kids are buying light up, speaker versions and constantly spinning in class. Teachers seem to think the same thing. As long as you keep the spinner to yourself, make sure it’s quiet, and don’t have competitions, it seems like it’s fine to bring them to Highland.

New school lunches requirements

Many children complain about the healthy school lunches and how to change them, but a lot of parents with children in schools are very happy with the healthy school lunches. Michelle Obama’s campaign “Let’s Move” was an attempt to lower the child obesity rates by putting nutritional standards in school lunches, and encouraging kids to be active. She set many bars in food safety as well for kids, making sure that all food packaging was properly labelled so it was safe for kids with allergies or other medical conditions. According to the American Medical Association, this campaign actually worked. The child obesity rate in kids ages 2-5 has decreased by 5.4%. It may not seem like a big change, but it definitely helped the child obesity problem. Now with a new president, and new ideas, the standards for school lunches have changed once again.

Some specific changes that are going to happen are to whole grains, salt and milk. As far as whole grains go, states with trouble meeting the 100% whole grain rule (100% of grains served must be whole grains or grains that contain an endosperm, bran, and germ) can get an exemption to only serve 50% whole grains. Salt requirements are being lessened so schools don’t have to meet sodium requirements, and live up to what some believed to be unrealistic standards. In regards to milk, the only changes that are occurring are to the type of milk that can be served. The standard previously was that if the milk was flavored (chocolate, strawberry, etc.) it had to be fat-free, but now it can be 1% instead.

President Donald Trump has changed the standards for school lunches under a new slogan labelled “make school meals great again.” According to PBS’s Newshour his argument for this change is that it will lower the cost of school lunches. The USDA reports that school lunches in 2012 (after the increased health requirements were enacted) cost a total of $11.6 billion dollars, but before healthier school lunches were put into schools, the cost was $6.1 billion in total.

Making the school lunches less healthy would decrease the cost of school lunches, but it could also increase the child obesity rates. The USDA also said that the amount of waste from raw, and cooked, vegetables has risen in the years since the new restrictions have been implemented, so the standards are perhaps defeating themselves because kids aren’t even getting the full nutritional value of the lunch.

Another argument made by the president, in favor of changing the school lunch restrictions, was that by having only healthy options it put the agriculture industry in a bad place. This was created by forcing them to conform to unrealistic standards and constant quality checks. In an official statement, on the now president’s campaign website, it even went as far as to call the FDA the “food police” and regulation of school food “overkill.” The FDA didn’t fire back at the comments on the website, only saying that the repeals of health regulations for school foods would be unpopular because people are now much more concerned about healthy food.

Julia Brennan: A review

If you haven’t heard the new Julia Brennan track on KDWB you might’ve never heard of this new artist from Minneapolis. This upcoming artist was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1999. Music has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember, considering she took piano lessons since she was only four years old.

She recollects in her biography about memories of her mom being a wedding singer, and her grandma being Ms. Minnesota. Her talent? Singing and playing the piano, much like her granddaughter. From these two women she gathered her inspiration to become an artist herself.

Some other inspirations for the young singer are Adele and Sam Smith.

Image courtesy of MOXIE

Julia released her three song EP “Inner Demons” in the summer of 2016. She had the three songs just sitting around on YouTube until one day she decided to send them to KDWB to see if the popular Twin Cities radio station would play them. The people at the radio station ending up liking her song a lot. They called her back and interviewed her about her new EP. After that her young career took flight as she soon was able to snag a record deal with the prestigious Columbia Records.

Her song, “Inner Demons,” currently is at #7 on iTunes’ Singer/Songwriter chart and is an instant hit in the Twin Cities.

Julia’s voice influenced people with her lovely piano music. Her music reflects on people going through hard times: especially on her song “Inner Demons.” On this track, she talks about how “demons fight their battles with fire” and why it’s difficult to rise against the things that hold us back; most of those things being inflicted by ourselves.

Brennan said in her biography that “Inner Demons” is about a time when her friend was going through a hard time. She didn’t know how to help her friend but she wants to give a voice to those people in the silence.

All of her three songs use piano and vocals to express her emotions. Julia Brennan is a great listen for anyone battling their own “inner demons” or for anyone who wants to hear some soulful music with incredible vocals.

For more information about Julia, please visit: www.juliabrennanmusic.comALL THINGS JULIA  (music-video-bio-art) for articles-broadcastsINNER DEMONS video-audioINTRODUCING JULIA BRENNAN ⊹  THE MAKING of INNER DEMONS

Lacrosse preview: How the Bobcats shake out

As the snow starts to melt, most of us are excited at the prospect of ditching the heavy winter jackets and getting to enjoy a cold-free existence. For the spring athletes, it’s time to get to work and prepare for the upcoming season. This year, the Saint Paul Public School’s Bobcats will look to capitalize on a growing team and bounce back after a rough ending to last year.

10 years ago, most Americans, when asked, probably didn’t know what lacrosse was or how the sport worked. This is slowly fading away due to its massive growth and growing professional leagues. Lacrosse is the third fastest growing activity in America, with an increase of around 13 percent over the past two years (according to Not only are the national numbers incredible, but according to, they’re also stunning in Minnesota, with an average of 15 percent growth a year. This growth is not only occurring in suburbs, but also in Saint. Paul.

For many years, there was a problem with high school lacrosse for Saint Paul Public Schools – it didn’t exist. For the longest time, SPPS kids who had played the sport, up until 9th grade, had to retire from lacrosse or pay expensive fees, and invest lots of time, into a summer travel team. These options were both equally bad, and didn’t seem fair because all the private schools were able to fund and run their own teams.

In 2015, an answer was finally found; SPPS created The Bobcats, a district-wide lacrosse team. The inaugural season was very impressive for a ground zero team, with the boys finishing 5-4.

The second season ended on a much more disappointing note. The previous year’s team had 10 seniors, all whom graduated, which meant in order to keep the team afloat, a large number of 8th graders had to play. Despite the boys team having a nearly equal split between middle school and high schoolers, they still went 2-5 and were barely eliminated by North Saint Paul, in a thriller that ended 9-8 in favor of North Saint Paul.

“It was tough,” said 9th grade attack man Jack Molter. “It felt like the game just barely slipped  away from us, after we had a massive lead.” In short, the two seasons for the boys have been less than perfect.

This year, they look to change all that. With D1 commit Declan Flynn leading the way for a young defensive core, he looks to make up for the loss of senior d-man Miguel Cologne, and hopes to help groom his young apprentices for the coming years.

Peter Dadlez, the #1 attack man for the Bobcats, will aim to turn around after a somewhat depressing year for the offense. Young attack men, Asher Krelitz and Jack Molter, will want to use the experience they gained during their 8th grade year, to transform the Bobcats offense into a high-scoring one.

Middies Thomas and Nate Fleming, the workhorses of the team, will want to dominate ground balls, and help carry the struggling offense.

New coach, Bryce Dzubinski, has a challenge ahead of him; coming into the young organization, he needs to put all the players in the their right spots in order to maximize the team’s success.

Overall, the Bobcats will look to bounce back after a rough end to last season, learn as a team, and help grow the sport of lacrosse.

HPHS Robotics

This weekend, the Highland Park robotics team are hopping on a bus and going to Duluth to compete in the 2017 First Robotics Steamworks Competition. This competition will determine if the team will move on to the worldwide competition in St. Louis later this year.

For those of you who don’t know, First Robotics competitions work like this: every year First Robotics creates a challenge, this year it’s “Steamworks,” they lay out a field of play for the robots to traverse, and complete unique challenges in order to earn points, to eventually win the match. One challenge this year was to make your robot climb a rope onto an “airship.” Another was to make the robot throw wiffle balls into a boiler in order to “power” the airship.

When the match starts, the first 15 seconds are called “the autonomous period.” This is where the robots do pre-programmed tasks and deliver pre-loaded game pieces. After the 15 seconds expire, the team’s drivers take over for the last 2 minutes, and 15 seconds, of the match. In this time, teams might try to defend an objective, or complete some of their own. The team’s drivers have to be some of the most talented people on the team as one crucial mistake could mean the end for your team’s season.

Behind the scenes are the build team, the business team, and the programming team. During the six-week long build season, the build team comes together to actually turn their designs into reality. This job takes skill, and the ability to work with your hands. During the hectic build season they must work hard to assemble a robot that can physically accomplish all the methods of winning. According to freshman Alexander “Zuperman17” Busch, the hardest part of being on the build team is managing your time properly in order to finish everything with time to spare. “I mostly like the snacks,” He said jokingly.

The business team works with local businesses in order to get sponsorships, and to manage the team’s finances. One member of the business team, Greta Shore, says robotics helped her follow her passion for science, engineering, and technology. “It helped me develop relationships with upperclassmen,” she said with a “dab.”

In contrast to the large rosters of the build team and business team, the programming team is much smaller with only two members. One member of the programming team, Alexis, said, “Robotics is challenging, but fun, and very rewarding!”

Overall, robotics isn’t about the competition, according to the FRC (First Robotics Competition), it’s about the cooperation, or working with other teams, and with your team, to accomplish goals. That’s what really makes robotics special; it’s the “varsity sport of the mind.” It’s extremely different than many other sports because two teams can win the match. Robotics combines the precision of an athlete, the smarts of mathlete, and the determination of a boxer.

For all of you who want to join an after school activity, but don’t know what to join, the robotics team always welcomes you.

How eSports and traditional sports compare

Esports, maybe you’ve heard a lot about them, but most people have no idea what they are or why they’re popular. For people who aren’t familiar with video games, it might seem confusing why people would want to watch someone play a game that they could just play by themselves. If you think about the premise though, it’s very similar to “real” sports.

Let’s just start with the premise of the competition and tournaments. In traditional sports, teams compete through a long regular season where they play games weekly, and at the end of the season whoever is at the top of the standings will advance to the playoffs, and perhaps the championships. In most eSports, it works almost exactly the same. For example, in the extremely popular eSport, League of Legends, there is a six month long regular season, and a world tournament at the end of the year. So, just by the basic structure of the leagues and competition, the two entities are similar.

Another way that traditional sports and eSports are similar is the formalities of competition. You may think that video game tournaments are just messy, loud rooms filled with nerds staring at screens, but in reality it’s a highly organized event. Teams wear jerseys, shake hands, have equipment sponsors, coaches, substitutes, referees, announcers, and large live audiences. All these things exist in both sporting realms. It was through obtaining these things that eSports was able to get the attention of big investors, and become the nightmare of traditional TV producers.

One way that eSports have gained recognition is just the sheer number of people that love and watch them. Online viewership for eSports happens on video game streaming websites like Twitch and YouTube and has skyrocketed in the past few years with events like the Counter Strike Global Offensive championships garnering 2.2 million concurrent viewers (1.2 million off the internet and 1 million people on TV, according to, smashing the record for concurrent viewers of any eSport. The way that professional video gaming is able to attract so much attention is through their platform. People who play their game will see notifications for an ongoing eSport event when they log in, allowing the companies to target an audience they know will be interested in watching the matches.

A final way to compare traditional sports and eSports is the players themselves, but obviously physical athletes are much more in shape than the average eSports competitor so let’s consider the training hours. Most sports teams will spend up to 5 hours a day training, working out, revising strategy and reviewing film. The average eSports team spends 9-12 hours a day training, and although playing video games may not be as strenuous physically it can a exhausting, draining effect, and the players have to pour just as much energy and focus into their work as other athletes do. A big concern for physical athletes is injuries, but those do happen in eSports as well. The most common sorts of injuries are wrist, finger, and elbow, but often mental injuries can occur as well. When you play a seemingly silly game in front of 12,000 people, for 10 million dollars (basically your only chance of getting a real salary that year), after training for 12 hours a day stress related problems often happen. Recently a big victory was scored for all of eSports when Riot Games lobbied the US Citizen and Immigration Services to make P-1 athletic visas available to professional gamers, to allow them to traverse from tournament to tournament easily.

Recently, eSports have been gaining more recognition throughout the world, and as time goes on the industry will only grow. The biggest question surrounding eSports today is whether they will ever be able to compete with the likes of the NFL and other major sports leagues. In my honest opinion, those sports will never be topped by video games, but maybe, someday, the two could be equal.