Swim team separation

Highland has many sports teams and well performing clubs and one of these is the highland swim team. They are a special group of people and one of the few teams that are joined by SPA (Saint Paul Academy) to create the Sparks swim team.

Recently, Dr. Tucker announced wishes to dissolve the relationship between Highland and SPA. Many athletes were displeased when hearing this and created a petition to collect signatures to keep their team together.

The reasons Dr. Tucker had to separate the teams was discussed with the swim team parents, and athletes, in a meeting that was held on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 in the Highland Park Senior High School auditorium.

Dr. Tucker prepared a document that explains his reasoning, and I have included a copy of it below. (Nothing has been edited these are all Dr. Tucker’s words)

SPARKS Swim/Dive Team students and parents:

Highland Park Senior High School is moving to dissolve the cooperative partnership for the Swimming/Dive program with SPA for next school year.

While we respect the partnership with SPA and recognize that students from both schools have formed important bonds over the years, there are a number of logistical reasons for dissolving the sharing of the two programs.

These reasons include but are not limited to the following:

  1.  Both schools have enough students to host their own teams.
  2. The current size of the team has resulted in many challenges, including having to turn away Highland Middle and Highland Senior students.
  3. The size of the team warrants multiple coaches, which is a financial problem to sustain.
  4. Continual turnover in coaching as a result of managing the two combined programs which has resulted in a lack of consistency.
  5. The logistical challenges in coordinating a team between two schools as well as the size of the team is very challenging and a deterrent for most prospective coaches.
  6. Saint Paul Public Schools has a practice of generally only having cooperative athletic partnerships with schools within the same district (there are a few necessary exceptions).
  7. The purpose of cooperative athletic partnerships is to be short term until both schools can build their programs. This goal has been accomplished.

    Please note that some have felt that this change was our athletic director’s decision. It is important to realize that as principal it was my decision to move forward with this change and as principal the responsibility rests on my shoulders.

    If you are interested in hearing more about this issue and would like share you thoughts on this matter there will be a meeting in the Highland Park Senior High School auditorium on Wednesday, December 12 at 5:30pm.

    Dr. Winston H. Tucker
    Principal

Though Dr. Tucker’s reasons are valid, the swim team had some reasons of their own. The following is from a petition created by SPARKS team members.

It has come our attention that the decision has been made to separate the Sparks and Trojans swim teams into two separate teams. For years, this co-op has flourished between Highland Park and SPA, both in and out of the pool. When we, the captains of both teams, were informed of this change, ‘cultural differences’ and limited pool space were cited as reasons for the split. These cultural differences are not a reason to divide the team—they are a key factor of what makes this team so special. The relationships and bonds formed between swimmers from both schools would never have been possible without the co-op. When it comes to the issue of pool space, we found a solution to the limited space during this past season, and believe that if the issue of space were to continue to be a problem, there are more viable solutions than to just separate the teams completely. This is not like the past where the teams were only separated while competing in conference meets (but could still compete in non-conference invites, dual meets, sections, and state together). The Athletic Department wants to separate us completely. We, the captains of both teams, and our fellow teammates believe that this is not in the best interest of either the Trojans or the Sparks in any way. While swimming together competitively the boys were able to come in 5th place in their 6AA sections and the girls were able to come in 7th place in their 6AA sections. If the teams were separated, like our schools intend to do, the boys team would have come in 7th place at their sections and the girls would have come in 8th place. The boys last year were able to get a new school record for their 400 free relay with two of those swimmers being from SPA and the girls were very close to breaking the 200 free relay record of which one person was from SPA. Additionally, a swimmer from SPA for the girls team broke a record that had stood for over 20 years in the 100 fly this past season. As mentioned previously, the teams as a co-op have been able to accomplish great things that they would not have and will not be able to achieve as two separate teams. We hope to have your support and for you to sign this petition in order to help us to keep our teams together.

If this article persuaded you believe that the swim team deserves to stay together, and to continue to develop the close bond they all cherish and want to continue, please click this link and help them by signing the petition: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/278/424/275/keep-our-teams-together/

 

The risks of vaping

According to theTruth.com, despite all the anti smoking campaigns used 20 years ago, in 1998, 23% of teens still smoked cigarettes. Skip ahead to 2005, and teen usage of E-cig vaping devices has increased to 16%.

Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances that is easily accessible. Nicotine mimics an acetylcholine receptor in the brain, but also reduces the number of receptors that the brain produces. The long-term brain changes caused by continued nicotine use can result in addiction.

E-cigs were originally intended for people who wanted to quit smoking cigarettes but weren’t ready to quit nicotine cold turkey. Vaping has been proven to be harmful to people in the same ways as smoking cigarettes. They might not contain the chemicals found in tobacco, but they still contain cancer causing chemicals that affect your respiratory and circulatory systems.

These 5 shocking facts about vaping might make you think twice about picking up one of these hand held smoking devices.

Nicotine from vaping can damage blood vessels. 

Vaping for even 30 minutes a day with an e-cig containing nicotine, was proven to increase stiffness in the arteries while also increasing blood pressure.

The primary ingredient in vape liquid turns into formaldehyde, a known cause of cancer, when it’s heated.

When you vape, or inhale this vapor, you are willingly exposing yourself to cancer causing chemicals.

E-cigarette companies target youth in their advertising

The companies will purposefully target youth by including themes like rebellion, independence, and sex in their advertisements. Another way they target youth is by making the vape liquid in sweet or fruity flavors.

Every month, in the U.S., more than 100 children, less than 6 years old are poisoned from ingesting vaping liquid

The colorful packaging and sweet flavors of these liquids make young children want to eat it.

E-cigs and vapes have gone unregulated by federal authorities since the ’60s. 

For more than 50 years, e-cig and vape companies didn’t have to register their products, disclose ingredients, or get approval from the FDA before selling them. They weren’t officially regulated until August 2016.

For more information, please visit: https://www.thetruth.com

The first senior class field trip of 2018

On November 2, the class of 2019 had their first senior class field trip. The senior class field trips are planned by the senior class counsel. Usually, there are about three trips a year, and they are used to promote bonding within the graduating class. This year’s first field trip was to Grand Slam.

The field trip sounded fun, a day full of mini gulf and lazer tag, but that wasn’t the part some people were upset about.

The field trip was announced just several days before the field trip was to take place. People were upset by the short notice of the trip, and some people felt that the trip wasn’t advertised enough. Some people didn’t even know the trip was happening.

I asked a senior, in my math class, if she was excited about our first senior field trip of the year, and she looked at me with a very confused look. She told me, “I didn’t even know we had a senior field trip planned. When is it?” When I told her it was the upcoming Friday (given I had this conversation on Tuesday, the 30th of October), her confusion turned to irritation. “How are we supposed to find out anything when it’s all last minute?”

She was not the only one feeling this way. When the whole field trip was announced, students only had a couple of days to get the slip and return it back to the counselor’s office before the deadline.

Even though I do see where all the frustration came from, I think we should’ve cut the council some slack. According to one of the council members, the trip was more difficult to plan than anticipated. They were trying to find other places to have the field trip, but all those places didn’t work out.

Our next field trip will be during the winter and is probably going to involve a lot of snow. With all the constructive critisism they recived, I believe the senior class council will try to communicate dates and events more efficiently.

The locker room problem

If you’ve ever been in, or better yet, used, the girl’s locker room in the basement of our beloved high school you have probably noticed some flaws in the design. The showers are never used and constantly drip, creating weird and suspicious looking patches around the drains. Because of their condition, and a lack of time, girls never use the showers.

Also, for whatever reason only 3 of the 11 showers still have curtains. The curtains that are there are falling off of their hooks. I talked to my classmates and almost all of them agreed that there is a problem with the bathrooms.

Annika Stall said that:

“The shower curtains are broken giving no privacy.”

Because no one showers, missing curtains shouldn’t matter. However, many girls prefer to get ready for class there rather than out in the main area.

But by far the biggest flaw of this decently spacious locker room is its bathroom.

When asked if she thought there were any problems with the bathroom, another student (who wishes to remain anonymous)said:

“Yeah – it’s one stall!”

The bathroom consists of only one stall; in the corner of the locker room. Outside are two sinks and two hand dryers. Because many girls find that going to the bathroom during other classes or during the short passing times is difficult, they instead wait until right before P.E., when they know they will have time to access a bathroom. They wait in a line that on some days has been six or seven girls long, making them late to class. A girl in the locker room told me during her interview that:

“Girls are waiting in line and they’re being late for class sometimes – because there’s not enough stalls.”

Now that you have read about the problems with the locker room, you are probably wondering what can be done to fix it. The easiest fix is the showers. With some new curtains and some clean up they would be as good as new, and they would provide plenty of private changing spaces.

The bathroom is less simple. I know that this one article can not magically redo the bathroom, but I hope it has shined some light on an issue that could be fixed.

Should college be free in America?

There has been talk about whether or not college should be free for all students in America. Yes, I think college should be free in America because low income families can’t afford to send their young ones to college; the cost of the tuition and fees are too high. Over the recent decades the cost of going to college has risen, and this makes it hard for young ones to go to college and follow their passions or dreams. So, many have decided not to go to college, while others have borrowed student loans that sadly sometimes follows them throughout their entire life, even when after they have retired.  .

Here are some other important things to keep in mind as you think about the question of whether or not college should be free:

  • Free colleges would expand access to education offering free college tuition would make it possible for everyone to pursue a higher education.
  • Young people who are very smart may have to skip college because they can’t afford the tuition and fees
  • Students will be able to follow their passion and abilities.
  • Young students might go to college, but not to the one they wanted to go to because it was too expensive.
  • They might not take risks later in life because they have a large amount of debt in student loans that they have to pay.
  • Students would be able to focus more on their studies rather than worrying about how to scrape together enough funds for each upcoming school term.
  • Free colleges would make it easier for kids to be more focused on school rather on their jobs. Young people in college often have part-time jobs which help them pay for their expenses including possibly their school tuition and fees. Even with these part-time jobs, they face a struggle not being able to pay their bills.

According to the data that was provided by the U.S News in a survey, the cost of titution and fees for the 2018–2019 school year was $35,676 at private colleges, $9,716 for state residents at public colleges and $21,629 for out-of-state students at state schools. According to the information College Board provided in the “Trends in College Pricing 2017,” two-year institutions tuition and fees cost approximately $3,570 on average, per year, for in-state students.

On April 1, 2016 President Barack Obama talked about the need for free college. He said, “We have to make college affordable for every American, because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red.” He went to say that “We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job.” This is not the first time President Obama had addressed the matter of free college, In his speeches in the past he had addressed the Congress to stop student loan interest rates from rising, and has asked the colleges to keep the cost of tuition and fees down.

For more in formation on this topic, please visits these sites:

https://www.studentdebtrelief.us/news/should-college-be-free/

https://smartasset.com/student-loans/the-pros-and-cons-of-free-college

https://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/12/obama-we-have-to-make-college-affordable.html

https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/what-you-need-to-know-about-college-tuition-costs

Should school start later in the day?

Photo of female student sleeping in class. Shallow depth of field, multi-ethnic group of students in the background.

I personally think high school and middle school should start around 8:30AM because it can benefit the health and welfare of students. When there are early school hours it can affect kids health. According to the CDC, some health effects of students not getting enough sleep include: drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, marijuana use, use of other illicit/prescription drugs, depression, anxiety, behavior problems, and it can affect brain development.

Verywellfamily.com shows that when school starts around 8:30AM there can be benefits that include:

  • Students are more likely to get the amount of sleep they need.
  • Students will be less likely to depend on coffee to stay awake during the day.
  • When teens sleep longer it could reduce health issues that accompany sleep deprivation (see above).
  • Schools with later start times can improve school performance.
  • Later start times can mean less tardiness, and lower dropout rates.
  • Later school times can give students time to eat a healthy breakfast.

Other factors that have been found to be associated with school starting too early is a lack of sleep. When kids don’t get enough sleep they are more likely to have problems paying attention, and they can have poor academic performance. When kids miss a bus early in the morning, and that’s their only form of transportation, they miss class and then soon they are falling behind in their classes.

In December or 2014, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine advised many schools that later school start times could reduce car accidents. Researchers looked at two towns, and they found that among every thousand licensed drivers ages 16 to 17 there were about 53 car crashes during the school year.

In November 2014, the Healthy Sleep Project launched the “Awake at the Wheel” campaign to increase the public awareness of the risk of drowsy driving. The study they did included data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles that showed that during the school year there were more than 520 motor vehicle accidents involving teen drivers, and more than 320 teen crashes.

When school starts later in the day it will benefit kids, parents, and teachers.

For more information visit:    

https://www.verywellfamily.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-starting-school-later-2609565
https://aasm.org/teens-with-earlier-school-start-times-have-higher-crash-rates/
https://www.cdc.gov/features/school-start-times/index.html
https://www.educationnext.org/do-schools-begin-too-early/

School hours

I personally think school hours should start around 8:30am. Often, when school starts earlier, the students tend to still be tired, and even may cause you to be sleep deprived. Being sleep deprived can be the cause for anxiety, depression, mood swings, eating disorders etc., which could lead to serious problems.

Being tired can make you less focused, which impacts your learning, and memory. People often are cranky when they’re tired, which could cause them to talk bad to a teacher or start problems with others. That causes disruptiveness in classrooms, and disturbs others learning.

When school starts at 7:30am, students that live further away from school have to wake up at 6:00am to get ready. A lot of the times, it’s still dark out at 6:00am, and walking to a bus stop when it’s still dark out could be dangerous.

Another example of why I think school should start at 8:30am is because teenagers usually need at least nine hours of sleep, so if they were to get up at 6:00am that would mean they would have to go to sleep at 9:00pm. Often, in high school, students have part time jobs in the afternoons, and some jobs tend to close at 10:00pm. However if it were to start around 8:30am students would be able to go to sleep at 10:00pm and not be as tired the next day for school.

The last reason I have for school starting later is because I think fewer people would miss the bus by sleeping in. Many kids arrive to school late because they’ve missed their bus. Students missing their bus can often mean they miss a class, or sometimes even a school day because they don’t have a ride. Overall, I think school starting at 8:30am would be best for students, and even the school staff.

For more information, please visit:

Should kids be paid for good grades?

 

How many times have we heard people complain about school saying it was a waste of time? But what if kids were paid to get good grades? Would it boost attendance and test scores or would children not learn anything and only do work for the money?

Here are some possible pros and cons.

Cons:

-One opposing argument is that paying for good grades is a short term solution. A kid who likes to learn will continue to do work whether or not being bribed with money. If they like learning, then money wouldn’t be an issue to them. Also, if they’re learning only for the money, paying them will not completely solve their problems; they’re more likely to cheat or copy answers.

– Another concern is that if you introduce them to doing actions for money, or bribes, then in the future they might accept a bribe that could put them in trouble. No telling what they could do just for the promise of getting cash.

– The idea that it is an incentive might work for some kids but not all. Some kids may decide the work is not worth the money, so as they get older, plan to spend more and more money on their education.

Pros:

-Financial freedom. If a child is paid for schoolwork then they don’t have to ask their parents for money. Also, it could help low income families afford school supplies and help them keep their children in school rather than have them drop out and help support their family through a job.

– It gives kids an incentive, and motivates them to work harder, to get more work in, and get better grades on tests. If they wanted to buy something, then they would work extra hard to make sure they get the money to by that thing.

– It trains kids for what it would be like to have job. You are paid for your good work (it’s better for kids under 13).

For more information, please visit:

https://broncopress.org/2769/opinion/paying-for-good-grades/

https://www.mother.ly/parenting/pay-kids-good-grades

American Sign Language in schools

American Sign Language or, ASL for short, is very important and should be taught in schools as a language option. ASL is used for communicating with people who are mute, deaf, or hard of hearing. Schools should have ASL as a class because it makes it easier for students to find a school near them, be able to attend classes, and understand the lessons without having more difficulties.

Another reason why schools should teach ASL is because there are not many local schools that are specifically just for people who are mute, deaf, or hard of hearing. Kids who were born deaf usually have parents who can hear, so if there is no local school that teaches ASL to the children, or classes in ASL, it can be hard for the family to find a school specifically for their child. Their child might end up going to a school that is out of their district, meaning there is no transportation for the child thus, the parents will have to take their child to school every morning and pick them up afterwards.

ASL can benefit people who can hear by allowing them to be able to communicate more easily with family or friends that only know ASL; without having to text all the time. This makes it easier for everyone. ASL is easy and fun to learn, with no worries of having to pronounce a word correctly.

ASL is just using hand motions while using expressions of the face; sometimes people may mouth out a word while signing. The signs are simple and easy to learn, though some words may not have a sign, which means they need to be spelled out, so the alphabet should be learned. The alphabet is easy and simple to remember though. ASL can help everyone and make it easier for others. Down below is a picture of the alphabet in ASL.

Lowering the voting age

The debate of lowering the voting age has been going on for a while now, and there are a few pros and cons. The age of voting is 18 right now, but some people are arguing that it should be lowered to 16. There are 19 states that let 17-year-olds vote as long as they are 18 by Election Day: Connecticut, Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Ohio,
Oregon, Virginia, Vermont, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Washington.

Here are some of the Pros to lowering the voting age:

  • More people might turn up to vote. Only about 50% of people go to the polls to vote during elections, and letting 16-year-olds vote might get them in the habit to keep voting through their lifetime.
  • More voices mean more ideas and different contributions to public discussions.
  • A lot of 16-year-olds have jobs, can drive, and pay taxes, so they should get to help decide how our country is run and what their taxes go to.

Here are some of the Cons to lowering the voting age:

  • Some worry that teenagers’ opinions are easily swayed and could be heavily influenced by their family, their friends, and people they look up to.
  • Others think that teens take things that they see and hear as truth without doing some fact checking.
  • Teens need more time to see what policies are important to them, and learn about what their political ideology is.

Personally, I think that the voting age should be lowered because the arguments that teens can’t think for themselves and that they aren’t mature enough to vote doesn’t make sense to me. They trust 16-year-olds to drive cars, but cars can do way more damage than an irresponsible voter. More pros come from lowering the voting age and more kids could get involved in politics. By the age of 16, teens can measure pros against cons and make well thought out decisions.