How to speak gender neutral

By: Charlotte Lane

Have you ever been in a situation where you suddenly realized you may have used the incorrect pronoun to address someone? Well I have, and it made me feel awkward. I was working at a hardware store and addressed a customer assuming I knew their gender. I believe my gender identifying language made us both feel uncomfortable. This situation got me thinking “Why can’t we clean up the English language to be gender neutral?” 

Use Honorary Titles 

One way to avoid these uncomfortable mistakes is by having the English language use more honorary titles. Honorary titles are often used in professional settings.  Doctors, nurses, professors, and teachers are all titles that are used to identify people without revealing their gender.  

The English language could invent more titles to use to categorize people. For example, we currently use Ms. Mrs. Mr. as salutations for individuals where we could substitute new titles that are gender free.  

Pronoun Refresh

Last year, the Merriam dictionary updated the meaning of “they” to refer to a “single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.” How about using the option of Mx. (pronounced Mix) or RP. (respected person) to address your neighbor or business partner?

Another option is using neo pronouns (new) that some individuals have started using. Xir (him or her) or Xi (he or she) could be used to replace the use of of current gender identifying pronouns.  

Share Your Pronouns

When speaking with others, use the pronoun you prefer to be addressed by and don’t be afraid to ask others what pronouns they prefer to use. It can help avoid awkward situations by letting other people know what your pronouns are. 

An example of this is when a teacher is open about being called “they/them.” Knowing this helps foster a healthier relationship between student and teacher. 

Be Forgiving

Similar to learning any new language, it gets messy. In order to make this new language work, we need to remember that no one is perfect and people are going to make mistakes. 

If and when you do trip up, respectfully correct the misunderstanding in hopes of change. When it comes down to it, we all have our own pronouns, but regardless of these we are all biologically human.

Why you should get your drivers license sooner rather than later

I’ll start this off with assuming most of you have ridden in a car before, but once you start to take your first steps into high school you’ll most likely find yourself riding in a car with a teenager.

A TEENAGER ?? I know.

When I first got into high school never did I ever imagine my friends would be driving me around. Having this privilege of riding around with your friends is amazing, but the worst part about it is you might not even have your driving permit or license yourself.

You begin to wish, “Oh boy, why didn’t I get my driving permit/license as soon as possible?”

Well, to save you from these haunted and terrorizing thoughts, I will write about some of the reasons why you should get your permit/license as soon as possible.This can also possibly be used as a motive, or something, to show your parents.

Firstly, having your license will help you with transport to school. Having your license and being able to drive yourself around will make it a lot easier on not just you, but also your parents trying to figure out a ride situation. This impacts greatly on families who have parents that go to work early and aren’t around to give kids rides to school, kids that don’t have a bus, kids that live far away, and kids with siblings.

Another great reason to get your license early is transport to after school sports, and activities. When your parent or guardian is not around to give you a ride to one of these after school priorities, it can become so much more complicated trying to find another last minute ride or carpool. With your license, you are able to get yourself to these places regardless if your parent is home or not.

Even though there are many more great reasons to get your license early such as getting to your job, having a car for emergencies, and showing manifestation of good citizenship, having your license is a great way for a teenager to symbolize independence and coming of age.

There are few achievements a teen would find significant and a symbol of independence, but one of these achievements is applying for a driver’s license and driving your own car without fear or being caught or penalized by authorities. It’s a great feeling to finally have true freedom and true responsibility.


I hope these reasons help you find motivation to go get your license or permit, or also maybe help your convince your parents to let you.

Until my next article, I’ll leave you with this one.

What to do this Halloween

Halloween pumpkin head jack lantern with burning candles. Image taken from:

October 31st is right around the corner. Lots of people have their decorations up and costumes ready.

So, what are you going to do for Halloween? If you aren’t sure how you want to celebrate, take a look at the four ideas listed in this article. 

Go trick-or-treating. To an extent, age shouldn’t matter if there is free candy involved. If you want to go out one last time, then honestly, just do it. There may be some people who criticize you, but the fun you have will make memories for years without end.

Also, just a tip if you do wear a costume, your best option might be one that covers your face. That way some of the most critical candy passer-outers don’t know what you look like and would not really have the ability to assume your age.

And, try your best to go to the houses that aren’t as busy. Any houses that don’t have many visitors often pass out more than one measly candy bar. 

Pass out treats. If you are the kind of person that finds pleasure in making others happy, this could be pretty fun for you. Not only can you stay inside during the cold October night, but you will be able to see all the little kids that come “trick-or-treating” by your house in their cute, and sometimes creepy, costumes.

But be warned, never leave out a bowl of candy on your step. All it takes is one group of kids to come and raid your whole bowl with a “please take one” sign on it. 

Do the tricking. If there is anytime to scare someone, no doubt it should be on Halloween. There are always questionable decorations, weird setups, and a variety of costumes, and kids walking around looking for candy, all while it’s pitch black outside, so use this all against them to give them what they have been asking for all night. 

Watch scary movies. There is no shame for anybody on Halloween who choose to shut off all the lights in their house, make some popcorn, and watch a scary movie. If anything, this holiday is the best time to do it. There are countless numbers of Halloween-themed movies that could fill up your schedule for about the next year.

How to avoid getting sick at school

School can be a difficult place to go for five days every week and when the season of sickness comes around, it doesn’t get any easier. Here are a few tips to help you avoid getting sick, or a few precautions to follow to prevent others from catching viruses that travel around the school.

Get enough sleep. It has been scientifically proven by scientists and conducted experiments, that individuals who get more sleep are less likely to get sick from a simple cold or more complicated virus. But why? Nobody is exactly sure, but sleep, especially for about eight hours, offers a sort of protection from the day to day common cold lurking just about everywhere in a busy place like school.

Wash your hands. I think it is common knowledge that washing your hands is an important thing to do because it gets rid of the germs on your hands. But, making sure you wash your hands regularly, especially during the school months, is very important to avoid getting sick.

Everything you touch throughout the day most likely has been utilized prior to you being there; a prime example being the desks we use. So, please wash your hands for the sake of your own health and everyone else’s. 

If you are at school when you are sick, take precautions to prevent contaminating other students. If you are sick you know how awful and fatigued you feel constantly for days on end. So, if you are sick, everybody, including your fellow peers and teachers, would appreciate it if you could cover your mouth when coughing, cover your nose when you sneeze, and throw away your own tissues. These minor actions could prevent others from catching the same sickness and save them the hassle of being a sick mess for a week or so.

Stay home if you are sick. Lastly, if you believe you should stay home because you are sick, then you most likely should. Nobody knows exactly how you feel, meaning you have the best opinion of the right solution for you. Also, missing one day of school is not going to ruin your whole school career. It would help everyone, including yourself, to rest for a day so you can come back feeling better.

If you do get pushed out the door in the morning, when you know that school is not a great idea for the way you are feeling, the nurse’s office is always open and a great place to go to figure out what is going to work best for you.

Boys hygiene for after gym class

A part of Highland’s course credit system says you are required to take a gym class. Gym class pushes you to your physical limits (not really), makes you a better athlete (most definitely not), but most of all it makes you sweat.

I know I don’t appreciate going to my next class with a wet shirt, sweaty forehead, and smelling terrible, and other people don’t appreciate it either. 

These are tips for boys to look, smell, feel, and be presentable for class after gym class.

Wear deodorant

This is probably the most crucial aspect to boys hygiene in any situation. Deodorants are used to kill odor-producing bacteria, while antiperspirants block sweat glands to keep you from sweating. Many products today contain both. In other words, it prevents you from sweating and smelling as much as you would if you weren’t wearing deodorant. Wear it. It’s just the right thing to do.

Extra shirt

When you sweat it obviously makes your skin wet, and when you’re wearing a t-shirt, all of your sweat gets soaked in your shirt till it sticks to your back. Having another (CLEAN) shirt in your backpack to change into after will make you feel way more comfortable, look better, and you won’t smell terrible. Also, it prevents you from getting back acne (bacne) in comparison to if you wore your sweaty shirt around all day. 

Sweatin’ Towel 

This step is not completely critical, but it can make your life just a little less sticky. Having a towel to wipe yourself off with before you put on your new shirt will make you drier and prevent old sweat from soaking into your new one. This will leave you with a completely dry shirt!

Shower supplies

If you’ve got the time, you could take a shower after gym class. Highland Park Senior High has showers in the boy’s locker room. You can bring body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and whatever other shower products you’d like. Then, bring a towel as well for afterwards so you can dry yourself off. This would be the most effective way out of all these steps for having the best hygiene in school.

I hope that these tips will help you look, smell, and feel cleaner and fresher after grueling gym class.

Until my next article, I’ll leave you with this one.

How to apply for a job

Now that we teens are getting older, we start to feel the need to have money. Our parents can only cover for so much of our impulse buys, so they stop buying them for us. They tell you that you need a job. A job, I know. Never in a million years did I think I’d hear that sentence so soon. To get a job, you need to apply for one.

Here are the common steps you’ll take to apply for a job.

1) Find local businesses that are hiring 

Go around your town, or city, and look for businesses that are hiring. Very often they will have a sign outside the store saying that they are hiring. You should be more interested in local businesses because they usually are more likely to hire you and pay more than corporate organizations. 

2) What you need

Besides a good attitude and a firm handshake, things that you legally need to bring when you’re going to apply for a job are: a form of ID (school ID, Gov ID), your social security card, and any other form of identification. Also, you need to be 16 years of age or older (usually).

3) Ask for an application

For most businesses, you can walk inside and ask any worker for an application. They will get you an application or direct you to where you can find one. Applications are normally a paper packet but at some corporate businesses they are online. On these applications you would fill out your personal information, and questions specific to the job. 

4) Ask for the manager

Once you are done filling out your application, ask an employee if his or her manager is available to talk to. If they say yes, their manager will come out and talk to you. Usually they ask about yourself, what hours you could work, if you’ve had jobs in the past, and usually general, easy to answer questions. Talking to the manager can set a very good first impression. If they are not available (very unlikely), it’s no big deal, it might just take longer to find out if you got the job or not.

5) Apply for more

Just like applying for college, you don’t just apply for one. It’s always good to apply for multiple jobs, therefore you have options and also a rebound if you don’t get the first job you applied for. It’s a little extra work, but it’s worth it if you want a job.

I hope that these steps will help you apply for jobs in the future.

Until my next article, I’ll leave you with this one.

Take the shot

By Charlotte Lane

Have you ever wondered why the flu shot is important? Or have you wondered if it even works? I sure have; why would I ever voluntarily get a SHOT!? 

My entire life I have gotten a flu shot but recently I have been curious as to why. 

The reasons I hear people say they don’t get the flu shot is because they don’t need it, they don’t believe it works, or they think it causes the flu. The truth is if you’re reading this article you should get a flu shot. 

Who me? I don’t need it. 

Actually, you probably do need it. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends everyone over the age of 6 months receive a flu shot annually.

If you get the flu, it’s a serious virus that could land you in the hospital, or even kill you. If you don’t care about yourself you might care about loved ones, when you don’t get the flu shot you put others at risk.

Every flu season strain is different, so you cannot be immune to the flu. Every year you need to get a new shot. Getting a flu shot is in your best interest. 

Flu schmoo 

The CDC estimates that the flu shot reduces your risk of getting the flu by 40-60%. Even is you do end up getting the flu, if you got the shot, your symptoms with be significantly less painful.

Statistics prove that the flu shot does work, it has been delivered for nearly 80 years, improving every year. While there is a low change that the flu shot isn’t paired with the flu strain making it less effective, it will still lessen your symptoms.

But…I’m Healthy 

The last excuse people use for not getting the flu shot is they believe it will give you the flu. This isn’t the true. Despite rumors the flu shot is not a live virus, it is made up of dead viruses and cannot give you the flu.

Your arm may be sore after receiving the shot, and you might feel a little achy, but you won’t feel like you just got hit by a truck and you want to die. You will probably feel fine within a few days, and forget it even happened. 

I recommend this flu season you do yourself and your loved ones a favor, and take the shot. 

Things to do in the fall

Fall is here, which means leaves are changing, the weather is cooling down and it’s a great time to go places before winter comes.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

Visit the Apple orchard- Visit a apple orchard farm. Minnesota is a great place to get fresh apples from farms like: The Orchard Hill, Aamodt’s Apple Farm, Fischer Croix Farm Orchard, and Victoria Valley Orchard.

Visit a pumpkin patch- A pumpkin patch is where a garden of pumpkins are planted. Minnesota has around 140 pumpkin patches, some of them have rides, corn mazes, petting zoos, and some give you the opportunity to carve scary faces into pumpkins or bake and eat the seeds. Some pumpkin patch places provide a variety of different activities like: Schiltgen Farms LLC, Dehns Pumpkins, and Lendt’s Pumpkin Patch.

Duluth- The season is changing  in Duluth, and the change comes with beautiful colored fall leaves. Duluth provides a variety of things other than to watch the leaf changes colors too. While you are there, you can head up to Spirit Mountain, tour the beautiful grounds at the historic Glensheen Mansion, explore Canal Park, Leif Erikson Park, the Duluth Rose Garden, and you can also take the train to the Hidden Pumpkin Patch on October 15–18.

Hiking- Hiking is when you go for long walks, especially in the country or woods. Hiking helps you build some strength in your quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs. St. Paul has some great hiking places like:  Winchell Trail, Shadow Falls Park, and Hidden Falls Regional Park.

Hayride- A hayride is a fun outdoor activity to get into the fall spirit. It involves a recreational ride in a wagon or cart pulled by a tractor, horses, or a truck. The wagon or cart is filled with hay, for it to be comfortable when seating, hence the name, hayride.

For more information, please visit these sites:




3 products you didn’t know threatened the environment

Though the message is clear about the overwhelming use of plastics, some other product’s consequences are not quite as widely known. To be more knowledgeable, for the sake of the Earth, continue reading about these three deceiving products. 

1. Soap

You may want to think twice about what kind of soap you are using the next time you wash your hands. Contrary to what you may think, soap is actually a substance that threatens the environment because of a toxin, triclosan, contained in it.

Case in point, the chemical is very persistent. It does not die off by water treatment, meaning that it can reach the oceans and other waterways. Not only does it destroy a bacteria within bodies of water, but the very bacteria that makes up the base of the food chain. 

Luckily, in September 2016, there was a ban issued towards triclosan. It was said the products containing the chemicals were not ideal or safe for long term use.

Unfortunately, there are still soaps, deodorants, and kitchenware containing the toxin that should be avoided. 

2. Chopsticks

Do you think of chopsticks as a harmless wooden utensil used for eating? Sadly, you are mistaken, because China’s forests are sacrificing 1.18 million square meters to produce enough wood/bamboo to meet the demand, per year. 

Chopsticks were once a product, but should now be considered a habit. As demand for chopsticks goes up, 20 million trees in China’s forests come down. Each tree is used to make 4,000 chopsticks, meaning China is producing 80 billion chopsticks per year. Sadly, this factual number goes far past the 57 billion chopsticks, per year, that China’s national forest bureau estimates are produced. 

3. Sunscreen

Sunscreen, the goody two shoes of all substances, isn’t what it seems. Sadly, there is a salty secret behind the misty spray or white lotion you choose to use. 

The oceans are greatly affected by humans and all our plastic and chemical usage, and this is no different. Sunscreen is suppose to prevent harm and damage to humans, but in the oceans it seems the coral and marine life are facing the ugly reality of sunscreen. 

A common chemical known as oxybenzone, which is the main ingredient in sunscreen, is extremely toxic to young coral. The coral reefs’ development is affected by the toxin, which also damages their DNA. Their defenses against ocean bleaching is also lessened from exposure to oxybenzone.

Advice to freshmen

Freshmen year of high school is a challenging year, it’s stressful when it comes to finding your way around the school and adjusting to new people and the new classes. Some days are going to be hard and others days are not, but it will get better, just be patient with yourself and it will feel like home in no time.

Here are few tips to help you have a great year. 

 Keep up your studies – To have a great freshman year keep up to date with your classes. High school usually comes with more homework, so figure out how to get good grades and you will be right on track.

Put together a calendar to manage your time with homework and your studies. High school will be harder and it requires a lot of hard work to have success, so if you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help or get a tutor to help you.  

Challenge yourself – If you want to challenge yourself take one or two accelerated classes. To help decide which to take, look at the school courses and see what they offer.

Also, you can choose extracurricular classes to earn more credits. High school usually has great opportunities, so it’s a great time to try something new, like trying out for a sports team or joining some of our clubs here.

Choose something that your interested in and it will help you grow and take on a leadership role.

Adjustment – Another way to help you with freshmen year is making new friends. Sometimes, our friends from middle school are not always going to stay our friends so make extra effort to keep those friendships and also to make new friends.

High school will help you, it will introduce you to new activities that will help you to have a passion for something.

For more ideas and tips to help you during your freshman year, you can visit one of these sites: