Debate Season and how Debate helped me

JV and Varsity with Coach Malik

This year Highland’s debate season was very good; 3 of the divisions won this year at the Minnesota UDL Championship.

There are four divisions in debate: Rookie, Novice, Junior Varsity, and Varsity. Rookies are if the debater has just begun to debate and is usually a new debater who has no prior experience before. Novice is someone who had experiences before of debating, but is still new to the debate world. Junior Varsity and Varsity are the top division in debate and usually have at least 3-4+ experience, but even if a person does not have 3-4+ experience, they can easily move up a division if they are able compete at a JV or Varsity level.

One of the things that being in debate had helped me, as a debater, is that it has allows me to work on public speaking. In a round, you have to be able to state your impact and why the judge should vote for your side to win. Public speaking is something that no one can avoid, and being in debate has allow me to be able to work on my stutterings and has helped me be more confident in my speech. It also helps with presentation skills, such as how I present myself to my audiences and gain their attention onto me.

Rookie team

Another thing that debate helps with is being a more critical thinker. It allows a person to be able to construct their own argument while being able to question the opponents’ views and impacts. The duo partner would have to work together to construct points that will eventually lead to their main statement of their impact. It helps you to think outside the box and be able to identify loopholes in the opponents’ arguments. Also, debating really helps one to be able to keep their emotions in check, and to stay calm as debates do get really heated sometimes.

Coach Malik

Overall, for me, debate was a great experience and has helped me learn a lot of new things and experience new things. Another thing that debate helped me with more is with  speed reading. Speed reading is very useful when you have a lot of evidence but are under a time limit to be able make a point with it.

The debate team is a very close group and is made up of debaters who have had more experiences that are always there to help with questions and teach new debaters about debating. The coaches are always helpful and willing to help out with the packet. Though debate season had ended for now, debaters cannot wait for the next debate season and hope that next year all divisions will get win at the Minnesota UDL Championship!

Melbourne stabbing spree

On November 9th, it was reported that a man was fatally shot by the police after he started a stabbing spree at Melbourne’s busy, shopping, city center. Witnesses had reported that they saw the man get out of his car and then his car burst into flames shortly after. The man was able to stab about 3 people before the officers could arrive at the scene. A bystander was able to record a video of the confrontation between the man and the officers. One of the civilians was trying to help the officers by pushing a cart into the man with the knife.

The officers were able to finally shoot the man in the chest and he was taken to the hospital. The man died 30 minutes later. Graham Ashton, chief commissioner of the Victoria police, has a released a statement stating, “We are treating this as a terrorism incident.” Ashton had stated that the attacker was known to federal intelligence agencies but was not being closely monitored. 

The police later released, to the public, that the man was identified as Hassan Shire Ali and that he drove a 4×4 truck full of gas bottles which he then  used to ignite the vehicle. Police said they had already spoken to Shire Ali’s wife when asked.

The police did not identify the victims, but local media news said Sisto Malaspina was fatally stabbed. Sisto Malaspina is the owner of a cafe, that is quite well known, called Pellegrini’s. One of the other victims was a 60-year-old man who was stabbed right in the face and died at the scene despite the paramedics’ effort.

The last victim is a 58-year-old man named Rod Patterson. He had just recently returned from his vacation, and he was try to intervene to stop the attacker. On a Facebook page, his wife Maree thanked all the well-wishers that had posted on their page.

Aaksh Velma was a witness, who was still working his shift when the incident happened. He mentioned that he saw the police attempt to use pepper spray and a stun gun, but it didn’t affect Shire Ali at all, thus this is why the police had to pulled out their guns. When Velma was asked about if Shire Ali tried to get away, Velma responded, “The person didn’t look like he wanted to run away, he wanted to stay and fight. He was saying nothing. He had a million chances to run away, there were many laneways.”

Yosemite couple death

There was unexpected news during the week of October 29, when it was reported that a couple died while taking a selfie at Yosemite National Park. The couple’s bodies were discovered after other tourists encountered their empty camera equipment and reported the incident to the staff. It was reported that the park rangers had to use high-powered binoculars to find them.

The bodies were found about 800 ft below Taft Point, and the recovery operation required technical climbing, rappelling techniques, and a helicopter from the California Highway Patrol.

This couple had more than 10,000 Instagram followers. They documented their travels, and they had traveled all over Europe, including to Venice, the leaning tower of Pisa, and at the Vatican.

Yosemite Park spokespearn, Scott Gerdiman had stated that more 10 people have died at Yosemite Park this year.

The couple’s names, Meenakashi Moorthy and Vishnu Viswanath, were revealed a few days after their bodies were retrieved. Moorthy was considered to be a “quirky free spirit” and an “ardent adrenaline junkie” and she had described her husband Vishnu as being “travel obsessed.”

The couple were both born in Indian and had lived in United States for a few years. They attended the College of Engineering, in the Alappuzha district of India’s Kerala state, and graduated together in 2010. One of their professors, Nisha Kuruvilla, had said that both Moorthy and Viswanath were both very good students and had gotten married at a Hindu temple in Kerala in southern India about 4 years ago.

While it is unclear how the couple fell to their death, their social media posts support the conclusion that the couple was taking a selfie which caused the fall.

The couple were known to take dangerous and risky photos. For example, in one photo, Moorthy posed at the edge of the Grand Canyon in a Wonder Woman costume. They did this even though Moorthy had talked multiple times about how fatal and dangerous a selfie can be, and advise her followers to not take those risks.

In one of Moorthy posts, she wrote “A lot of us including yours truly is a fan of daredevilry attempts of standing at the edge of cliff–skyscrapers. But did you know that wind gust can be FATAL? Is our life worth one photo?”

On the day to their death, a few hours earlier, another couple hiked to Taft Point too and were able to snap a photo of Moorthy. It was the last photo of her before she died. Sean Mattheson, the man who took the photo of him and his wife said, “She[Moorthy] was very close to the edge, but it looked like she was enjoying herself. She gave me the willies. There aren’t any railings. I was not going to get that close to the edge. But she seemed comfortable. She didn’t seem like she was in distress or anything.”

A study, published in October, in The Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, said 259 people died taking selfies between October 2011 to November 2017. It was reported that a few of the main causes of selfie deaths included: people drowning, being washed away by waves, falling from a boat, posing in front of a train, falling from high places, or taking pictures with dangerous animals.

‘Aladdin’ 2019

Disney has released the first movie trailer for their live-action Aladdin movie, and we get to see the first look of the Cave of Wonder. The director is Guy Ritchie, who is known for his crime films such as: Sherlock Holmes, Snatch, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. It was an unusual director choice for Disney, and caused some Twitter feeds to express their unhappiness, but Ritchie responded, “With five kids, I know as much or more about kid’s movies than any other type of movies.”

It is reported that Aladdin will be including music in the film like Beauty and the Beast did, and it was one of the things that the producers had to deal with when they were casting actors and actresses. It required that the actors or actresses had to have the ability to sing.

In July of 2017, the cast for Jasmine, Aladdin, and Jafar was announced. There was a backlash from many people when they found out that Naomi Scott was cast as Jasmine. Some people claimed that Naomi Scott looked too pale or that she was not Middle Eastern. Naomi is of mixed British and Gujarati Indian descent. People argued that Disney is reinforcing the idea that South Asian and Middle Eastern are interchangeable.

The role of Aladdin went to Mena Massoud, which many people approved of. Massoud has primarily been a TV actor and has a significant amount of experience in acting. He appears on Amazon’s Jack Ryan series. From what we know, Massoud does not have any significant singing experience, but everyone is quite excited to see Massoud as Aladdin.

Robin Williams voicing the Genie was an iconic performance, and so Ritchie decided to go a different route and casted Will Smith. It was reported that Will Smith was very excited to accept the role and hopes to do well.

For the role of Jafar, Disney has cast Marwan Kenzari. Kenzari has been in The Mummy and The Promise but there is not much about him yet that we know of.

Jasmine’s dad, Sultan, has not been cast yet, and there hasn’t been news about it.

For the animal characters, there hasn’t been anything about Abu, but it does appear that Rajah does play a part in the movie. There is a chance there could be CGI animals in the movie but Disney has not released a statement about it yet.

There is a new character, named Prince Anders, which Disney has cast Billy Magnussen for, and the chief of the guard will be played by Numan Acar. Another new character added in the movie is a friend of Jasmine’s named Mara who will be played by Nasim Pedrad.

The trailer of Aladdin just released, and seems that the production has already finished shooting most of the movie. Aladdin will be in theaters in May of 2019.

Hiway: Momentum

Momentum is an interactive financial learning platform that Hiway has launched to help youths and anyone else who wants to know more about finances. There are different financial topics that are explained in only 3-5 minutes, with visuals that are easy to understand. There are many different topics that you can learn about; it is not just checking vs. savings account. For example, there is a section about buying your first car, and about getting your first paycheck. There is even a section about college.

Each section, has specific topics that will help you learn more. For example, in the “College Possible” section, there is a budgeting tool that helps you get an idea on how much you should save and how much you should use.

There is also a section on money basics which is a very good start if you don’t know much about finances. The text is meant to be easy to read and they also have transcripts of their audio portions.

One of my favorite sections on Momentum is the “Helpful Calculators.” This section has different types of calculators, kind of like the budgeting calculator, but for other things such as: life insurance planning, emergency savings, student loans refinancing, and many more. It helped me learn more about how I can budget my money and allows me to make better decisions regarding the money I will use to spend.

Another one of my favorites is the section “Your First Car.” Getting your first car is exciting, but there is a lot of money that is needed and that includes the money for getting insurance to cover for your car. This section prepares you to know information on insurances and loans that will be useful. Also, this section lets you know more about the importance of your credit score, including what factors could easily impact your credit reports, and how you can make sure to avoid situations that could negatively affect you score.

Here is the link to the Momentum. It is a platform that you should definitely checked out: https://www.hiway.org/learn/momentum/index.html

Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence was first discovered on August 30, 2018, when forecasters tracked a disturbance in the Atlantic, near the west coast of Africa. Hurricane Florence was considered to be a category 4 hurricane on September 10, 2018, and it was expected to hit the Carolinas and Virginia. Hurricane Florence was a fast approaching tropical storm and the agency predicted heavy rain over the Carolinas and Atlantic. About 1 million people who lived on the coastline of South Carolina and Virginia were ordered to evacuate by the South Carolina governor. But as the hurricane struck the coast of the Carolinas’ on September 15, 2018, it was downgraded to a category 1 hurricane. Over the course of four days it managed to dump around 23 inches of rain in South Carolina and 35 inches in North Carolina.

After Hurricane Florence first struck the coastline, it damaged many structures and caused a loss of power which affected thousands of people, but the after-effects of the storm was much worse than expected. The rainwaters of the hurricane increased water in rivers and streams which have now caused flooding. North Carolina’s two biggest rivers, Cape Fear and the Pee Dee River, both saw increased water levels which became one of the reasons for the major flooding. The water level has now risen and many residents are still waiting for the water to recede. More than 8,100 residents of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia that were forced to evacuate are still staying at Red Cross shelters, or with family or friends.

In Kinston, North Carolina, the streets flooded to the point where the National Guard had to use a helicopter to distribute water to stranded survivors. In North Carolina, it is estimated that around 3.4 million birds, and 5,500 pigs, drowned to death, and in South Carolina, the flooding damaged cotton, peanuts, and hemp crops. According to authorities, Hurricane Florence’s death toll climbed to 36, as of September 19, 2018, when two women died when they got swept away by the floodwaters while they were in a sheriff’s van.

President Donald Trump arrived in North Carolina on September 19 to help out at a church at New Bern, North Carolina, which was one of the first few towns that was hit. Trump distributed box lunches that consisted of hot dogs, chips, and fruits for people who waited for over an hour to collect their meal. As President Trump handed a man a lunch box, he said “Have a good time.”

On September 20, the power plant operator of Duke Energy reported that there was about 2,000 cubic yards of harmful waste that had gotten into the water from the landfill because of the flooding. The company spokesperson, Erin Culbert, had stated that the company will continue monitoring the situation.

Americans are trying their best to help everyone who was affected by the hurricane by donating money to nationwide agencies that are assisting the victims. On September 18, NBA champion Michael Jordan donated around $2 million to the cause. Members of NBA Hornets organization are putting together around 5,000 boxes for food banks in Charlotte, North Carolina. The organization also partnered with Fanatics, the NBA merchandising company, to help raise funds by creating a special T-shirt which features the Hornets logo in the middle of the Carolina states with the words “Carolina Strong.”

 

Exciting year for the royal family

KINGHAM, OXFORDSHIRE – AUGUST 28: Mike Tindall, Zara Tindell and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James’ Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

On Friday January 5th, officials announced that Zara Tindall, Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughter, is pregnant again. Mrs. Tindall is also the daughter of Princess Anne. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said, “The Queen and members of the royal family were very pleased to hear this news.”

The baby will the second child of Zara and her husband, Mike Tindall, a rugby star. The couple already have a 3 year old daughter, Mia Tindall. Mia is known for stealing the spotlight, and getting cuddles and kisses from Prince Harry at polo events. Many times, she had happily shown off Queen Elizabeth II’s purse during official photo shoots.

ABERFELDY, SCOTLAND – JULY 11: Zara Phillips and daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph after husband Ex England rugby star Mike Tindall finished the grueling Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon in Loch Tay Scotland on July 11, 2015 in Aberfeldy, Scotland. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images for Artemis Quadrathlon)

Mia was also there to help her parents’ difficult time when Zara had a miscarriage days before Christmas 2016. Mike Tindall told The Sunday Times, “The saving grace for us was Mia, our daughter who is now 3.” Mike also talked about how he was able to spend more time with Mia now, since he retired from rugby. The spokesperson also stated that the child will be due this summer, arriving a few months after Duchess Kate’s baby, who is due to arrive in April.

Back in October, Kensington Palace made the announcement that Duchess Kate was expecting another baby after the 12-week scan. Duchess Kate Middleton has had hyperemesis gravid arum (severe morning sickness) during her last two pregnancies, which is why the pregnancy was announced early. The pregnancy was initially announced on September 4, when Duchess Kate cancelled a visit to the London’s Children Centre because of severe morning sickness.

This is an exciting year for the royal family as Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding is due to be happening around May, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be welcoming their third child in April, and in the summer, Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughter, Zara, will be adding another member to the royal family.

California wildfires

In Southern California, many are being forced to flee because of the wildfires. Officials refer to the wildfires as the “Thomas Fire.” The “Thomas Fire” started on Dec. 4th, about 69 miles from Los Angeles. According to Fox News, about 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate.

Officials had not yet figure out what caused the “Thomas Fire” to start in the first place. On Dec. 6th, another wildfire erupted known as the “Skirball Fire.” It burned about 422 acres and was around in the area of Bel-Air neighborhood. The “Skirball Fire” started because of an illegal cooking fire under the San Diego Freeway.

Scott McLean, an information officer at the California Department Of Forestry and Fire explained that the wildfires have been so destructive recently because of the drought that California has had for the last 5 years, which created a lot of dead vegetation. This year, California had a good amount of rainfall during the spring, but the summer heat dried out the growth of the vegetation.

Firefighters monitor the Thomas fire as it burns through Los Padres National Forest near Ojai, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The autumn winds is also something to worry about. It is fueling the wildfires, causing the wildfires to spread faster and cover more area. This year, primarily, it is the Santa Ana winds that are fueling a lot of the wildfires. Usually, most winds will blow off to the Pacific Ocean, but the Santa Ana winds blow off into the desert of Arizona, then move west toward California. The millions of dead trees also allows wildfires to move quicker, scorching more land.

On Dec. 11th, the Santa Ana winds begin cooperating by pushing the fire away from the nearby communities, which allowed firefighters to see and help people. The “Thomas Fire” has destroyed around 1,000 structures. There has been only one death so far, 70-year-old Virginia Pesola died in a car crash while trying to evacuate from the “Thomas Fire.” A firefighter was injured while 3 other people were burned trying to retrieve the woman’s body.

Later, a firefighter was killed by the “Thomas Fire.” According to CNN, Lynne Tolmachoff, the spokesperson for The California Department Of Forestry and Fire Protection, the firefighter was driving on a fire engine on the east flank of the “Thomas Fire.” The man had not been identified at the time of this article, but he was pronounced dead on the scene by a medical team.

CNN meteorologist, Brandon Miller, reported that the winds had been picking up again and would make the job tougher for the 8,000 firefighters. CalFire had reported that about 1,000 fire engines, and 27 helicopters are involved in dealing with the “Thomas Fire” alone. The winds continue to be fierce, with the wind going 60 mph in the mountains, and about 35-50 mph in the valley-coastal areas.

 

 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are officially engaged

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27: Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle during an official photocall to announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace on November 27, 2017 in London, England. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been a couple officially since November 2016 and are due to marry in Spring 2018. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Clarence House (office of Prince Charles) announced the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Monday, November 27. The announcement shocked the world greatly, and after the announcement, the two made a brief appearance in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace. Harry told the reporters that he knew Meghan Markle was “the one from the first time they met.” The prince declined to tell the story of the proposal, but when he was asked if it was romantic or not, he answered “Of course it was.” Meghan Markle said she was very happy and flashed the engagement ring to the reporters.

According to Kensington Palace, Harry designed the engagement ring with a gold band, a large diamond from Botswana, and two smaller diamonds from a collection of Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Botswana is a significant place for Prince Harry and Meghan because they had spent time together there in the past year and a half. Cleave and Company, Court Jewellers, and Medallists were some of the companies that made the ring.

The couple plans to marry in spring 2018, and live at Nottingham Cottage, at Kensington Palace, where Prince Harry currently lives. Meghan Markle will be the first American to marry a British Royal since the marriage of Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII. Harry’s grandparents are delighted and wishes the couple every happiness.

Harry also sought Markle’s parents and had received their blessings already. Her parent’s statement said, “We are incredibly happy for Meghan and Harry. Our daughter had always been a kind and loving person. To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents. We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together.”

Mandatory Credit: Photo by FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9243878t)
Britain’s Prince Harry pose with Meghan Markle during a photocall after announcing their engagement in the Sunken Garden in Kensington Palace in London, Britain, 27 November. Clarence House earlier 27 November 2017 announced the engagement of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. ‘His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle. The wedding will take place in Spring 2018. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course.’ the statement said.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement in Kensington Palace, London, United Kingdom – 27 Nov 2017

Prince William had just finished attending a charity event in Finland when he was asked about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement. He replied with “Wishing them all the happiness in this very exciting time. Very excited and delighted for them both.” Then he added, “For me personally, I hope it means he stays out of my fridge, and stop him scrounging over my food like he’s done over these past few years, I’m pretty excited.” He also confirmed that Prince Harry and Markle are absolutely in love and wishes them all the happiness and success in the wedding preparations.

 

 

 

Students mental health during finals week (college)

A study hosted by Stop Procrastinating asked around campus’ about the upcoming exams and how college students feel about them. More than 2,000 college students said that they fear getting a lower grade, and finding job market failure because of the upcoming exams. Survey results also had shown that 64% of students worry that their exam stress is negatively affecting their grades and academic performance.

Existing stresses are from pressure to succeed academically and getting a successful job after graduation. Stress is also linked to distractions, such as social media, and lack of motivation. 37% of students struggle with loneliness and fear of not being successful in college, which leads to them abandoning their social life. Paige Clegg, a behavioral science graduate, said, “Socializing is a great way to relieve stress for college students. When your mind isn’t drowning in to-do lists and stress, it’s able to focus more easily.” She also talked about balance. “Balance is the key. Obviously doing well in school should be top priority, especially during such a stressful period. But it’s also critical to learn to relax your mind and unwind.”

About 12% of college students admit to using drugs to help them cope with the stress. Also, drugs are sometimes used to substitute hours of sleep for students. Some drink energy drinks, and others pull all-nighters during finals week. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, about 34% of college students illegally use ADHD medications to help them focus on their studies. Adderall and Ritalin are among the most used medications according to a study conducted by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, and they found that mentions of Adderall spikes on Twitter during final-exam periods.

At Boston University, behavioral medicine clinicians reported that the number of students in crisis, coming in for help, increased from 647 in 2014 to 906 in 2015. According to another study, of about 100,000 students, conducted by the Penn Center, they showed that more than half of the students listed anxiety as a concern. Nearly one in 6 college students had been diagnosed or treated for anxiety according to ACHA 2015 national survey. The survey also found that 21.9% of students said that the last 12 months of anxiety affected their academic performance. While 13.8% reported that depression affected their academic performance.

From the same survey from ACHA, about 30% of students said that stress affected their performance while 20% listed sleep difficulties. About 47.7% of students had said that they felt like a lot of things were hopeless, and 85.6% said they felt overwhelmed with school and everything they had to do in their life at the moment. Students had been asked if they felt overwhelming anxiety, and about 56.9% of the students said yes. About 1.4% of the students had said they attempted suicide and 34.5% students agreed with the statement of being so depressed that it was difficult to function.