Spps’s new block-schedule proposal

By: Marcus Lund

This December, Saint Paul Public Schools announced an upcoming change to the daily lives of students and teachers: a four period block schedule. There are a multitude of reasons behind this change, the school board stated.

Firstly, the new schedule decreases passing time. With only three passing times, as opposed to six, the board hopes that this schedule will greatly decrease behavioral issues that occur during those passing times. “Less transition, less chaos,” says board member Chauntyll Allen.

Second, the school board believes that this new schedule will improve student mental health; an issue that rose in priority over quarantine. According to SPPS, seven-period days have always been stressful for students. College and career readiness director Darren Ginther says, “It was just extremely amplified during the pandemic.”

Third, this new schedule will allow for more electives for students, which will improve learning across more diverse subjects, as well as increase student’s drive to learn. Also, incorporated into the block schedule will be a daily advisory period, which will focus on school announcements and de-stressing.

However, Highland students don’t seem to agree with this transition. One student said that the change “Is like a pro and con essay, but there are no pros.”

Many students agree, wanting to keep their passing time, and not wanting daily advisory. “Advisory sucks, why would I want it everyday?” said one.

“I Literally see no point to the new schedule,” said another.

The most positive remarks I received were from students neutral on the matter. “I don’t really care,” said one of the more indifferent students.

Dissent for this system is brooding among parents as well. Some believe that a daily gap between consecutive classes will lead to more procrastination, as well as students forgetting the things they learned.

Is this really the change that anybody needed?

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The effects of being vegan; does it help or harm your health?

By: Liv Miller

What does it mean to be vegan? Veganism is the diet or lifestyle that excludes the use of animal products. Some people who define themselves as a vegan go the extra mile to not just use animal products in their diet, but in their everyday lives as well. This can include not wearing leather clothing, or not using lotion or cosmetic products that have animal products, or were tested on animals.

The most common type of vegan though is the kind that only excludes animal products from their diet.

Many people do go vegan for the purpose of animals, but there are others who incorporate veganism into their diet solely for the purpose of their own health. Now, there is no right or wrong way to go vegan, but how exactly does being vegan affect your health?

According to a 2019 article in ‘The Economist’, 25% of 25-to 34-year-old Americans say they are vegans or vegetarians. So, it must be doing something right, right?

While going vegan does have a lot of health benefits, it is still important to look at the possible harms of the diet before deciding to incorporate it into your lifestyle. But let’s talk about the benefits first.

According to Insider.com, a vegan diet cultivates different types of bacteria than an animal-based diet. So, the bacteria from a vegan diet is shown to help lower inflammation in the stomach and boost metabolism. This relates to the common ideology around the vegan diet, and losing weight. While it doesn’t happen every time, it is a very common thing that can occur from partaking in this diet.

Another benefit is that going vegan can reduce your risk of getting some deadly cancers like stomach, liver, and kidney cancer. This is because processed meat has been closely linked to these types of cancers.

Going vegan may also cause you to see an improvement in your sleep and skin.

Now to talk about the possible risks.

You may feel tired and foggy when first beginning your diet. According to Insider.com again, a vegan diet tends to lack iodine and choline, since the two necessary nutrients are found in eggs. Iodine is needed to keep your thyroid healthy, regulating energy, metabolism, and mood. Choline supports your brain, affecting your memory and mood.

Another very common risk that many people are aware of is that going vegan lowers your protein intake. Protein is a very essential nutrient for our bodies and acts as a fuel for us. Protein is usually found in eggs, meat, etc., so basically everything that a vegan diet lacks.

Another health risk you should be aware of before switching to a vegan diet is the heightened risk of depression. According to Timesofindia.indiatimes.com “People following a vegan diet are at an increased risk of depression as their diets have a sharp decline in omega 3 fatty acids (no fish oil or fish consumption) and a rise in omega 6 (vegetable oils and nuts). They can include algae-based omega 3 sources in their diet, but they are costly and hard to find.”

Although there are many benefits and risks to going vegan, it is safe to say that the pros outweigh the cons. If you are planning on going vegan, I would recommend doing your own research and talking to your doctor about what the best course of action is right for your body.

Should we have summer break?

By: Marcus Lund

I love summer break, and I’m sure you do too. However, is it really as useful as it used to be?

Breaks from schooling are mandatory to both educators and students. It’s the school year’s current format, with one long break in the middle of the year, that is under scrutiny. Summer break was originally started to allow kids to return home during the hottest months to help on the farm. However, with rapid urbanization, and a much lower population farming by hand, this has become increasingly unnecessary.

An increasingly popular alternative to summer break, is a system with more frequent, shorter breaks spread out throughout the year, as opposed to one long one.

So, what are the current pros and cons for this sweet, sweet yearly hiatus?

One pro is how easy it is to cut out meaningful family time during summer break. With more spread out, shorter breaks, a detriment to family structure would occur. Things like finding childcare would become more difficult with parents having to look for babysitters year round.

Spread out breaks would also cause less break overlap between different schools and workplaces, so that families spread out over many occupations and schools would be further separated.

Summer breaks also provide outside-of-school learning opportunities, such as travel and summer camps, that help with character building.

Finally, traditional summer breaks offer a light at the end of the tunnel. Burnt out teachers can have negative effects on students, and vice-versa.

However, the new system has its positives, too. Eliminating a long term break would bring about improved academic achievement. 3 months away from school frequently causes huge gaps in memory and learning, a problem that could be soundly remedied by giving students less lengthy breaks from schooling. This loss of learning affects all children, but it varies by learning level and age.

Summer break can also lead to a lack of engagement, with students frequently getting bored. One expert, Carol Lloyd, says, “If American summer isn’t structured, it’s almost too long.”

I know I want to keep my summer break, but the question is, should I?

Public school breaks revolve around Christian holidays 

By: Ella Sutherland

If you go to a public school have you ever noticed how all of your “holiday” breaks are always revolving around Christian holidays? The 2 longest breaks of the school year are winter break and spring break. Those mostly always include the two major Christian holidays which are Christmas and Easter. 

Saint Paul Public Schools have around the same time periods for breaks as many of the Christian private schools. So, even though Saint Paul Public Schools are all inclusive of religions and cultures, there is still almost a bias for when our breaks are scheduled. 

Because school decided to schedule these breaks to be around Christian holidays, students that are not Christian have to miss school or go to school and postpone their special holiday. For example, many Jewish students have had to miss many days of school this fall because of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, which are very important Jewish holidays that should be recognized. And even though they get excused absences for missing school the students are still missing classes and important information and sometimes even tests.

 If schools arranged for breaks to revolve around many holidays and break it up, instead of having 2 long breaks, people might feel more included. Also, in elementary schools, at least mine for example, we would do arts and crafts like a week before winter break and lots of the crafts would have Christmas trees and Santa. We only ever really talked about Christmas around that time and never included any other religious holidays. This wasn’t just around the winter break, it was around most Christian holidays.

Public schools need to start respecting holidays that are important for other religions and not just Christianity. That includes cultures such as the Hindu holiday of Diwali, and the Islamic holiday of Eid. Schools should just start thinking about this. 

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What’s better for education, iPads or Textbooks?

By: Isaac Lund

Image taken from: http://www.bpr.org

The textbook industry has long been the backbone of elementary to collegiate learning. Today, with tablets and especially iPads increasing their foothold in American households, a new argument has emerged: Which one is better suited for today’s education needs?

In 2019, book publishers generated 8.38 billion dollars in revenue selling textbooks, an 8.2% decrease from 2018, according to Statista. On the other hand, the iPad made Apple 21.2 billion dollars in revenue, a 12.3% increase from 2018.

Both proponents and opponents of implementing tablets in schools have evidence to support their views.

Supporters of iPad learning most often bring up weight. iPads can hold hundreds of textbooks, worksheets, and tests, without increasing the need for physical storage and backpack weight. According to Mayo Clinic, leaning forward to compensate for the extra weight of heavy backpacks can affect the natural curve of the lower back. E-textbooks also cost less than printed textbooks, and these textbooks can instantly be updated to the newest edition. Furthermore, iPads allow for highlighting and taking notes directly on text, without destroying paper media. Finally, they drastically reduce the need for excess paper, helping save our ever-crumbling environment.

There are many opponents of tablets as well, and they have their fair share of cons to back them up. One such shortcoming evident is that blue light in tablets can cause eye-strain and other forms of agitation, according to the American optometric association. Also, many students, especially in public schools, do not have sufficient internet bandwidth at home to even use tablets for homework. Furthermore, even without paper, one iPad’s manufacturing requires the extraction of minerals and fossil fuels. Adverse health effects from this far exceed those of a textbook, according to the New York Times. Finally, tablets allow for easier cheating.

In my opinion, as long as iPads are properly introduced to schools with measures to combat distractions and cheating, they are far better tools to aid education than backbreaking textbooks that have so long been the go-to.

Pros and cons of school uniforms

By: Isaac Lund

Image taken from: Earth911.com

Throughout my many years of education, I’ve gone to schools with uniforms and to ones without them. Like me, many schools struggle to decide which option is best, with some schools completely switching policies over recent years. The Cleveland and Akron school districts in Ohio dropped uniforms for the 2021-22 school year, while schools in Hawthorne, California have recently implemented uniforms.

The majority of parents and teachers support uniforms, based on a poll taken by uniform manufacturer Land’s End. School uniforms help students stay focused on education rather than clothing, and increase timeliness in the mornings, with only one outfit to choose from. A study conducted in Texas shows that they can also increase school pride and community spirit. Furthermore, school uniforms often reduce bullying by leveling the playing field surrounding clothing, especially in schools with multiple socio-economic groups. Uniform policies also don’t completely eliminate individuality, as many policies still allow for unique accessories such as shoes, nail polish, and jewelry.

On the other hand, students tend to push for the elimination of uniforms. A study conducted at the University of Nevada at Reno found that between 80% and 90% of seventh and eighth grade public school students oppose uniforms. Uniforms restrict students’ freedom of expression, and encourage conformity instead of individuality. Uniforms can also hurt students’ self-image. Without the option of picking outfits fitted to one’s body type, many students may feel extra embarrassment at school. Of course, uniforms also create an extra expenditure for parents, which is especially noticeable in districts where school is otherwise free. Finally, many schools with uniforms tend to focus energy on enforcing uniform policies, instead of looking for more pressing problems.

So, uniforms of no? Both options have their fair share of upsides and downsides, and neither is truly superior. What it really comes down to is that different schools have different needs, and a uniform policy helps some schools meet these needs better than others.

Should the voting age be lowered to 16?

By: Marcus Lund

Image taken from: 5th article
https://www.democraticaudit.com/2020/02/26/what-happens-when-the-voting-age-is-lowered-to- 16-a-decade-of-evidence-from-austria/

Why can’t I vote? This question has plagued many of my politically interested peers recently, especially as our political climate has begun affecting us more. Because policies affect us just as much as someone 2 years older, why shouldn’t we be able to vote on them?

Firstly, one study found that 16-year-olds are just as civically knowledgeable as older voters, especially 18-year-olds. The study found that on “measures of civic knowledge, political skills, political efficacy, and tolerance”, 16-year-olds scored much the same. Other social scientists also claim that 16-year-olds have well established “cold-cognition” skills, which are used to make hard decisions like those needed in voting.

Another pro to lowering of the voting age is the inevitable higher voter turnout. Not only would it add a higher population to the available voters, but it would also propagate lifelong voting habits. With more young voters, a “trickle up” effect could also occur, with those voters’ parents and guardians also going out to vote.

Lowering the voter age also comes with a set of undeniable cons. The first is general maturity. With two less years of knowledge and experience, many experts argue that 16-year-olds will be unequipped to make the correct decisions when voting. Younger voters’ lack of maturity also comes with a higher capacity to be influenced by others, which makes them less likely to make decisions not influenced by outside voices.

Adding to the arguments against the lowering of the voting age includes the fact that voters aged 18-19 have extremely low voter turnout. Only 15% of those eligible in that age group voted in the 2014 election. This suggests that young voters are not ready to vote until later in life.

Lowering the voting age, while an interesting proposal, has both positive and negative aspects. As young people continue to push for it, I wonder what the government will decide on the matter.

For more information, please visit:

  • “American Sixteen- and Seventeen-Year-Olds Are Ready to Vote” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
  • “Why We Should Lower the Voting Age to 16” Nytimes.com
  • “Trickle Up Political Socialization: The Impact of Kids Voting USA on Voter Turnout in Kansas” State Politics and Policy Quarterly
  • “Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2014: Reported Voting and Registration, by Sex and Single Years of Age: November 2014” Census.gov

Pros and cons of medical marijuana

By: Mila Hart

This November, more then eight states in the U.S. overwhelmingly approved a marijuana legalization ballot item. Now that more and more states are legalizing medical marijuana, let’s talk about some background on the topic and the pros and cons of it.

First let’s review some background information on marijuana. Medical marijuana is also known as CBD and recreational marijuana is known as THC. CBD and THC are both cannabinoids found in marijuana but the difference between them is that THC will cause a person to experience a high while CBD will not.

CBD can provide relief for anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also said to help with sleep, chronic pain, muscle spasms, nausea, and vomiting, and to increase appetite. It is also safer than some other medications used to treat pain like opioids. You can use it in many ways, you do not have to smoke it. There are oils, edibles, and other non smoking ways to use CBD.

With so many pros it’s hard to think of how the cons would outweigh them, but there are some cons. marijuana can affect thinking and memory, increasing the risk of accidents. Smoking can also damage the lungs which could lead to cancer. There is also a risk for potential abuse and addiction.

I asked a few students at Highland Park Senior High, and they all agreed that legalizing medical marijuana was a good thing. One student specifically said that if it’s legal then the patients can decide for themselves if the pros outweigh the cons.

A teacher at Highland said that there are amazing medical benefits and that it’s a good thing more states are legalizing it.

So what do you think? Do the negatives outweigh the positives or should more states legalize medical marijuana?

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Art vs. Artist

By: Parker Rowen

Image taken from: Shepherd, Jack. “Artist Paints Himself Painting Himself Painting Himself Painting Himself.” Medium, Sharks and Spades, 5 Aug. 2020, https://medium.com/sharks-and-spades/artist-paints-himself-painting-himself-painting-himself-painting-himself-ed11017d25fc.

“Should art be separated from it’s artist?” is a questions that has come up in recent times. This has begun to re-emerge, with Hollywood being shown to have more and more morally questionable people to be within the industry than was once known, or believed. This is an important question to answer, it brings in a question of morality, and whether it is moral to consume art made by an artist who has committed something heinous.

When researching for a paper, or some kind of formal piece, you always question the source of the information, whether it’s reliable, if it is to be trusted, or provides something which before was unseen. Art should be viewed in the same manner. When you see a piece of art, it is paramount that the artist and their intentions get discussed.

If you look at the works of someone such as Vincent Van Gough, you’ll see how it paints a picture of Van Gough’s life, and view of the world. Without this art as context, we wouldn’t have nearly as much of a view into the world of Van Gough.

Good art is often reflective of it’s artist. It is hard to put passion into something without that thing becoming part of you, and vice versa. Art is meant to be passionate, so naturally it would show the person you are to the world. 

To separate the art from the artist would be akin to stealing the sun from the sky. The artist defines their work, and sets up their themes, they are the ones to decide what their art should mean. It often reflects an opinion, or sends a message in which the artist believes in. While this opinion may not necessarily be harmful, it should be a truthful one, and help paint a picture of what the artist is like, and whether it is someone to look up to.

In capitalism, the phrase “speak with your wallet” is a common, and very true one. People have a monetary value attached to everything, and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve success in that regard. So, by this logic, when you buy something you are supporting it. Generally, art has been sold at a price, helping to support the artist living, and to encourage more of that type of art. When you buy a piece of art, you are supporting the artist, and encouraging them to continue behaving the way in which they are.

A piece of art is crucial in learning about an artist, therefore, the artist must be crucial to understanding the art. To separate the art from the artist opens a blank space in the context, and message of the art. With this assessment in mind, I feel that to consume art, such as buying a painting, or CD, made by someone who has committed a reprehensible act is immoral and something to be avoided, because supporting that art also supports the negative behavior in which they have practiced.

Why Highland Park should give out seconds

By: Marcus Lund

As a 16-year-old with a high metabolism, I’m always hungry. So, when I head to the lunchroom, I’m ready to eat a nicely sized meal. But, then I’m served 3 chicken nuggets with a side of sadness and beans. After those 250 calories, I’m obviously going to still be hungry, so I head up again, only to be turned back: “No seconds”.

Highland Park seems to think that by offering unpaid lunches, they can’t afford to give two lunches to high schoolers who need more food. However, other schools in the Saint Paul school district who offer free lunches do offer seconds. They implement a system in which they require student pay for seconds, while their first lunch is still free. This allows the school to retain the funds needed to keep up free firsts and free breakfasts, as well as lessen food waste.

In multiple instances, when students bring up their tray and ID for a second lunch, they’re turned away. This happens even though SPPS nutrition services states that second lunches are purchasable for all SPPS students for $4.40, with second breakfast also available for $2.75. Even an extra milk is apparently available for 50 cents if wanted, an option I haven’t even heard of.

Not allowing for seconds at lunch has caused much strife throughout the cafeteria. Methods used to get a second lunch include students using other students’ IDs, students hopping the barrier to avoid scanning their lunch pass, in hopes of only needing to scan once for two lunches. Students have even gone as far as literally running away from lunch staff.

Teenagers need a lot of food, and school lunch shouldn’t be a sad excuse for a real meal. Can Highland Park step it up?

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