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.

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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.


-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.


-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).

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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.

Starbucks closes for racial-bias training

Two men who had entered a Starbucks in Philadelphia were arrested after trying to use the restroom in the establishment. An employee had refused to allow them to enter, or use the restroom, because they had not bought anything from Starbucks. Soon after sitting down, the employee told them to leave, before calling the police. Once the police officials had arrived they soon arrested the two men. At that time, another person, Andrew Yaffe, confronted the police officers and asked, “But what did they do? What did they do? Someone tell me what they did?”

From the narration of Rashon Nelson; he and his friend were at Starbucks to meet a business associate. He wanted to use the restroom but was refused, and was told it was for paying customers only. So, he and his friend sat back down and waited until the business associate came. They hadn’t ordered anything because they had bottled water, and this was when employees had dialed 911, and police officials showed up to the scene shortly after.

Image taken from:

Many people after hearing/seeing the story, started to try and bring awareness towards the racism in society, especially towards Starbucks. Many people were happy to hear that Starbucks was taking action, but they hated how they’re only taking half a day to “learn” about racial bias. People believe that taking half a day would not address the problem of racism and how they caused the arrest of two men because of how they were African-American.

This event was a moment of racial bias, where the two African-American men were disrespected and not allowed to do normal things by a white man. Racial bias in the world is huge, not only does it affect the rest of the world, and countries, etc., it is also affecting people, families, children in the U.S. Children have been bullied for having different colored skin, for being “black,” or “Asian,” or foreign.

One way or another, people will always be racist, because people will always be judging others, in everyday life. No one will forget about it and will always use race, skin color, or ancestry as an excuse to hate/discriminate against people.

Starbucks had announced this incident as racial/implicit bias, but really it was just racism. Starbucks had then decided to close all Starbucks in the U.S. for a racial bias training. Believing that teaching their employee’s/staff about racial bias would stop them from enacting these events in the future.

“It’s not just a black people thing. This is a people thing. And that’s exactly what we want to see out of this, and that’s true change. … Put action into place” –  Rashon Nelson

Rashon was one of the two men arrested that day, and appeared on ABC’s, Good Morning America news to talk about the incident.

After the incident, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson had released a video explaing, what Starbucks would do to ensure that this incident would not happen again.

To view the video of Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson -

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Public schools vs. private schools

There are many who say private schools are far more beneficial to the children of our generation than public schools, and vice versa. Although there is not a lot of animosity between the two sides, the conversation still lingers as many question the other’s ethics, morals, and values.

Many argue that private schools provide more individual help from teachers, while public school all have a massive number of kids, and not enough staff members to provide the help needed for those kids in the classroom.

On the contrary, people in support of public schools argue that kids need to take the initiative for teacher help, that there are enough teachers, and that it is the kids’ responsibility to own up to their concerns and issues and ask for help themselves.

There is a strong view that people should not have to pay for education at the high school level, and that embracing public schools is the solution to the divide. Separating our community is an argument that really has not been addressed in a head-on manner by private school enthusiasts. Taking pride of togetherness, and communal ways of developing as a country, starting with our kids’ education, is yet another argument from the supporters of public schools.

Parents of private school students often argue that yes, they want to be a part of the solution, but they often take their own child’s education over the solution. They do not necessarily believe in the solution, and a substantial number believe that their future success depends on where they go to school, and if it is private or public. Overwhelmingly, private school supporters agree that the divide communally is not a large enough problem to where everyone needs to go to public school. On top of that, they believe that the discipline issues are too much to handle, and again, they take the value of their child’s education over starting to develop and help the solution of integrating private into public.

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Pros and cons of social media

Everyone knows how efficient social media can be for contacting friends and family, and learning of news of all kinds. It has been momentous for creating a platform for awareness of political and social issues. Social media is also helpful for building business relationships and connecting with customers. However, social media has unfortunately become a viable platform for cyberbullying, which has increased vastly over the past decade.

Mental health issues, and lapses in focus, that come from the overuse of social media, are unknown to quite a great extent. The majority of the problem is seen in teens. With the overuse of social media comes a constant need to be on social media, and with that, a toll on one’s psychological well-being can be a side effect. Extreme, heavy use of social media has even be linked with suicidal thoughts. It may be the fact that these teens are having these thoughts because of the cyberbullying and disgusting things read on Twitter, Facebook, etc. According to Dr. Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga of the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, “It could be that teens with mental health problems are seeking out interactions as they are feeling isolated and alone.”

More and more studies are being conducted to prove a correlation with direct evidence and data supporting the claim that these mental health issues are a result of excessive use of social media. Dr. Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga states, “Or they would like to satisfy unmet needs for face-to-face mental health support.”

I myself know of kids that are dealing with depression, and I know two be heavy users of social media. I do think these kids, from my observation, do not have much going on in their lives, not many friends and not enough things to keep them busy, which is the main cause, but who knows. The extreme overuse of social media and constant need of attention from others through technology may feed their desperation even more so.

There would be no reason to rid humanity of social media because of all the good it does for our society, but there are definitely disadvantages that need to be paid attention to, and somehow fixed or toned down to a bearable level.

The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal and the testimony of Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, has been under fire recently for a scandal involving data immorally obtained from its servers by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. In 2014, Cambridge Analytica began collecting identifiable personal information from an alleged 87 million users, 70 million of which are Americans (according to Facebook). According to the BBC, though Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed in a recent testimony, before the U.S. Congress, that the data collected included only mundane things such as “public profile, page likes, birthday and current city,” the scandal, exposed by former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie, has been enough to incite a nationwide conversation about privacy on the internet and consumers’ rights.

The Guardian has reported that Cambridge Analytica collected data in a dishonest method. The firm sent out a survey for allegedly “academic purposes” only, to which several hundreds of thousands of Facebook users consented. However, the survey collected information not only from the consenting users, but also from others in their social network. But, what is even more controversial is that this data was then sold to political groups, including the 2015 presidential campaign of Ted Cruz and politicians involved in the Brexit vote of 2016. Also, according to The New York Times, the data was detailed enough to develop psychographical profiles of its subjects, which could yield useful information to politicians on how to deliver their message to voters in different constituencies.

In the aftermath of the scandal, Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been very apologetic, calling it an “issue,” a “mistake” and a “breach of trust”; Cambridge Analytica have been less so. They maintain that the collected data amounts to that of only 30 million users, not 87.

It is also believed, by many on the left, that Cambridge Analytica played a crucial role in the election of President Donald Trump. Secret footage filmed by BBC’s Channel 4 News revealed bosses of the firm bragging about their role in his presidential campaign. Furthermore, a link has been drawn between Cambridge Analytica and the alleged efforts of the Kremlin in Trump’s campaign. Hillary Clinton has said, in Business Insider, “So you’ve got Cambridge Analytica, you’ve got the Republican National Committee — which, of course, had always done data collection and analysis — and you’ve got the Russians. And the real question is how did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania; that is really the nub of the question. So if they were getting advice from, let’s say, Cambridge Analytica or someone else about ‘OK, here are the 12 voters in this town in Wisconsin — that’s whose Facebook pages you need to be on to send these messages,’ that indeed would be very disturbing.”

Clinton’s remarks about the dishonesty and creepiness of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s actions represent those of many Americans on either side of the political spectrum. According to CBS News, speaking on a recent poll about the scandal, “Eight in ten Americans who took the poll said they weren’t surprised to discover outside companies got hold of their data, and 63 percent believe their Facebook data is currently unsafe.”

“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at his first day of testimony to the U.S. Congress on April 10” image taken from:

According to The New York Times, in response to allegations of dishonesty, poor regulation, and monopoly, Zuckerberg testified before the US Congress on April 10 and 11. Though he stated that Russia and Cambridge Analytica are corporations that “seek to harm us and hack our democracy,” and, “Do we have a responsibility for the content people share on Facebook? I think the answer to that question is yes,” Zuckerberg offered evidence of no actual solutions for the crisis being implemented, and was hesitant to answer any significant proposals of reform with a yes or no answer. This is especially important seeing as the Cambridge Analytica data scandal is not the first political scandal Facebook has been involved in in recent years; there were also the “fake news” and hate speech controversies. Zuckerberg’s testimony was perhaps more entertaining than informative, with internet commentators and meme creators teasing “Zucc” for his use of a booster seat and his alleged “reptilian” appearance mannerisms, especially on the social media network Reddit.

Vox reports that a civil rights movement is building against Facebook and it is uncertain how much the company is willing to give. Many protesters claim that Facebook’s virtual monopoly on social media (owning the three largest networks in the company, with Instagram and Facebook Messenger) justifies government intervention. Many individual Americans have sued Facebook in their county for infringements relating to the scandal. But, something even bigger is on the horizon: on Thursday, as reported by The Guardian, a joint US/UK class-action lawsuit was filed against Facebook, Cambridge Analytics and two other companies for using individuals’ private information for “political propaganda campaigns.” Even after the repealing of net neutrality laws last December, the future of consumer rights online may not be so bleak.

Should there be security guards during the day?

Should schools invest on getting security schools during the day?

Especially in high schools, there are a lot of students, and when things go crazy, one teacher can’t really control all of them. There are some schools that don’t have any guards at all.
Guards are usually there after school to check if any misbehavior is happening, or if anything suspicious happens. On this topic, we went around to ask for student opinions if they believe that schools should get security guards during the day.

The questions we asked them were:

1. Do you think schools should get security guards during the day? Why?

2. What do you think guards should do for the school?

3. If schools did get security guards, what do you think would be different?

Loren Sanchez: Yes, because it is far too easy for anyone to get into school property. I think guards should just pretty much check people who aren’t students or staffs. Well, the main difference would be our liberty, for example, students usually work in the hallways and with a cop around, it might make students feel uncomfortable. There might be security checks so students might feel like they don’t have any privacy.

Calista Vang: Yea, I think schools should get at least 2 security guards or more depending on the population of the school. I feel like instead of the vice principal controlling the cameras, the guards should be in charge of that. And also, there should be a camera at every door that leads into the school. I think something that would be different is that every kid might be searched through backpacks for things that shouldn’t be at school.

Sahra Ahmed: No, because then I won’t be able to get out of school. I think guards should just chill and protect us, but like still be serious about their jobs. There are many kids that come together to do things that really aren’t school appropriate, so guards should be more observant. I feel like at first it would cause a lot of problems with the students because a lot of people would get caught ditching class, but I feel like overall it would be beneficial because if something suspicious happens, the guards would be there.

We also interviewed officer Hull, who is an SRO, and asked him the same questions. He has been working here at Highland for 7 years now. This is what he has to say about the topic.

Officer Hull: I don’t know what to say about security guards, but if you ask me if our job was important here, I would say it is absolutely important. I think our kids are really good, they’re doing a lot of great things. There’s nothing much I want to change about the kids. But something about my job I would like to change is that, I want people to understand my job and my actions. I am not here to arrest people, I am here to build strong relationships with people and keep everyone safe.

In the end, people seem pretty divided about this topic. Some see advantages to having more security in school during the day, and some don’t think that it is necessary.

Rise of Highland Park athletics

Ever since I have known about Highland Park Senior High, I have been aware of the Highland-Central rivalry. When I was 7, my cousin Stefan Landreau, started at HPSH and there came the football season. Stefan would report back to his parents, Charlotte and Carlos, disappointed at how Highland would lose most sports games to Central and other tough SPPS schools like Como. In particular, they would get trounced in football every year which seemed to be the most important game of them all.

Next, followed Stefan’s younger brother, Ian, who was even more socially involved and outspoken and therefore even more angered and disgusted with how poor Highland athletics were. Maybe it was out of luck, or Ms. Galligan, the former Athletic Director, worked some magic of her own behind the scenes, but something changed in/around 2014.

I was keen to flip the switch in the sports that I could: soccer. I played varsity tennis in 8th grade, and our tennis program has been at the top of the conference, along with Harding, as one of the state’s best in boy’s tennis for several years. The soccer team was a different story.

I know of, and am friends with, some guys from the middle school that entered in with me: Josh Aune, Charlie Weill, Declan Flynn, Gabe Nelson, Mohamed Bue, Charlie Dombrow, and Abdi Gutu just to name a few star athletes in my grade. I had a feeling with the guys above us heading into their sophomore years such as, Amitri, Dreem, Joe, and some upperclassmen that this continued lack of achievement in athletics was bound to change.

Every year since I have been here, the records of our teams have gotten better and better. In my freshman year on the varsity soccer team we had a record of 5-12-1; already better than the past years.

Sophomore year, we were about .500 and saw a coaching change.

These past two years, we have been under a fantastic coach, have really impressive records (as well as two consecutive appearances in the section semis in which we lost to the eventual state champions last year and runners-up this year), have won a conference championship, and a one game slip-up caused us the championship last year.

The rise has not just been in soccer though. We have beaten Central in football for two straight years now (lead by Josh Aune), have been contenders for basketball (lead by Mohamed Bue and Ian Gallagher) and football conference championships, as well as being in section championships for the past couple years as well.

Now, the gradual success does not stop there. In volleyball, we have now won the conference championship four out of the last six years, led by Ellie Egbert and Michaela McGough, and girl’s tennis has had significant improvement in conference play lead by Sami Linssen and Neesha Moore.

Boys track has now won three conference championships in a row, lead by Josh Aune and Abdi Gutu.

The boys lacrosse team, lead by Declan Flynn, has improved their record drastically during my time at Highland.

The biggest surprises, however, came in cross country running and skiing. Both have now won the conference championship six or seven times in the last decade, with many finishes in the top 15 of state in recent years.

This new wave of achievement is remarkable, yet not overwhelmingly surprising or unprecedented. Even with fewer people at Highland, continued work-ethic and persistence have paved the way for significant results building reputation. Highland did have success in the 90’s and 80’s but gradually declined toward the turn of the 21st century.

I am willing to bet that Ms. Galligan’s magic propelled the next wave of athletes into stardom rather than a random group of talented athletes enrolling Highland Park High School. At least, that’s this writer’s opinion.