Stay hungry Highland

The New Vending Machine

Two weeks ago, the epitome of the American high school experience graced the hallway leading to the field house. What was rolled through our big glass doors was a carb packed, caffeine bursting, money gobbler that blew the minds of the poor students who got the first few glimpses. Since the vending machines arrival, all kinds of people have had thoroughly mixed reviews, and Highland Park as a whole has been somewhat shaken.

What The Students Think

When asked if they knew about the new vending machine, one student responded

“H*** yeah.”

This same student  responded the same way 4 more times when prompted with questions like “Do you like the new vending machine?” “Do you like what’s in the new vending machine?” and “Do you want the vending machine to be on all the time?”

Many people responded in similar ways. They loved the new addition, but wished it would be more accessible during school hours. They think students should be able to snack during the day, especially with the lunch hours being so early. Many wished that there should be more “unhealthy options,” i.e. regular chips, pop, and candy, while a few said it should stay where it is in terms of food. The school’s favorite snacks include the hot cheetos, and the Pop Tarts.

Someone requested I mention the fact that we need to fill it more frequently, and another requested one on each floor. Overall, students are ecstatic about a new, tasty way to spend pocket money on school grounds.

What Teachers Think

The general consensus from the teachers is that they are okay with the vending machine, as long as the food stays relatively healthy, and it is not turned on during school hours. On the first day of our marvelous new machinery, many students were late to class due to the wonder and overuse. They were happy, however, that students who are here extremely early get the chance to eat. They also thought that it was good that we get funding for the school. If the current rules are kept in place, then some support it continuing in the future.

What Dr. Tucker Thinks

Dr. Tucker made the decision to install the lovely food dispenser, so clearly he is in support of it.  After getting a call from a vending company that often supplies schools, he decided that Highland Park should accept a vending machine into the building. This is all, of course, according to district rules about the type of food being sold. All revenues go towards the school. This is a fantastic system because we get the food and the money. Keep buying the snacks and we as a school will keep benefiting from it.

Stay Hungry Highland

Racism

How do you define racism?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary states that racism is:

“A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

While Dictionary.com says:

“A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.”

Or simply,

“Hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.”

Racism has always been a hot topic, but it is just as important today than in past years. With the recent activities in politics, minorities have experienced heavy waves of racism. There’s a wide range of examples of this starting with the ban on immigrants coming into the country, building a wall on the Mexico and U.S border, and the standoff that happened between Minorities/People of Color and Neo-Nazis. Everyone can confirm that racism has risen due to the presidency of Donald Trump.

When racism occurs, there will always be people who want to state their opinions, but we want you to ask yourself this: When does your opinion on a topic become racism? When can one say something racist without getting the heat of the flame? This isn’t only applicable to our community, but also our school. We personally want to talk about our students and racism.

At Highland Park Senior High, we have experienced racism. We have overheard comments based on our race and have wondered if others have experienced the same. With this being our Senior year, we wanted to check in on our Seniors. We wanted to see if they felt safe throughout their high school careers. We wrote out a poll that asked them the following questions:

  • What race are you?
  • Have you experienced racism at school?
  • Do you feel safe at school?
  • Do you feel you were treated differently because of your race? Explain your answer.
  • Do you feel you were treated lesser by your peers because of your skin color?
  • Has anyone expressed racist ideologies in school? If yes, what was said?
  • Has anyone made you feel uncomfortable when it came to the topic of racial issues? What was said?

Survey says…

With the results, this is what we can conclude. According to the surveys, we interviewed 14 Asians, 12 Hispanics/Mexicans/Latinos, 26 Caucasians/White and 34 African Americans for a total of 86 students.

We are going to focus on the results of the most important questions asked. So let’s start with the big question, “Have you experienced racism at school.” A total of 34 students said they have experienced racism. Many of these answers were from our minority students. When asked if their race plays a part of them being treated differently, 36 students answered yes.

There was one Caucasian student who addressed their white privilege which was surprising to us. Not a lot of Caucasians are open to addressing that they have white privilege.

When we asked the students what racist ideologies were being said, we got a variety of answers. “Police brutality victims deserve it,” “immigrants should not be let into the country,” and “the end of DACA would be great,” are just a few things that were said.

Our most important question is do these students feel safe. 13 students said they felt unsafe at school. Even though it’s not a big number, it still means something.

What can be said?

With all of these results, we didn’t know what type of conclusion we wanted. We made this article to determine what four years at Highland looked like, racism-wise. We did this for us to personally get a feel about the school and racism.

From many of the surveys, when there was a problem, it mentioned the same person/problem. That leads us to wonder “Why is it that the same thing is causing others to feel unsafe and discriminated no matter their race.”

Another thing that we were able to determine was that everyone believes they will be safer by avoiding the situation. No one wants to state what’s specifically on their mind. We personally can’t blame them.

It’s as if there is an elephant in the room that if addressed will remove the feeling of “comfort” in school. This is an elephant that lived in our class for four years. For our senior year, it’s hard to determine if the elephant will be camping in the said room until we graduate, or if it will go packing.

Trump takes NBA by storm

Lately in the news, our president, Donald Trump, has been having issues with sports and its players. Trump has been making many different statements on the NFL and the whole dilemma about players kneeling during the national anthem and protesting during NFL games.

After an NBA team wins the finals, they earn a trip to go to the White House and shake hands with the president, they also get to give the president a custom made jersey, and many other things. Our past president, Barack Obama, was able to get custom jerseys from the Golden State Warriors (2015 NBA finals champs), the New England Patriots (2017 NFL Super Bowl champs), The Los Angeles Lakers (2010 NBA finals champs), and many others college and pro champions.

This past year, the Golden State Warriors won the NBA finals and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers four games to one in a five game series. Just like every year previous, the Warriors were going to head to the capital of our country and go and meet Donald Trump to give him his personalized jersey. All this was going well until Trump decided to make comments on the recent NFL protests, and that the players who are participating in these protests should “be fired,” and shouldn’t be able to play anymore.

Being a humble man, Stephen Curry, the superstar point guard from the Warriors, responded to the president’s tweet, as reported by the Washington Post, “And by acting and not going, hopefully, that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to.”

Shortly after Curry made his remark, President Donald Trump tweeted out “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn.” According to the Washington Post, the Warriors responded to his tweet saying that they were fine with not going to the White House and they would “Constructively use our trip to the nation’s capital in February to celebrate equality, diversion, and inclusion.” 

In recent times, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, responded to the matter with multiple responses on the NBA’s official website. “I have a general concern as a citizen that there’s a huge gap – call it a gulf – in our society right now, and it’s incredibly divisive. And I believe this league can play a role in attempting to unify people.” He stated during an interview that he knows of an NBA rule that states that all players and coaches must stand during the national anthem.

Since 16 of the 32 states that NBA teams are based in voted for Trump, Silver was asked if he thought players making statements would offend the NBA fans. Silver replied with a no saying that he doesn’t think that players speaking out will be an issue.

According to the NBA’s official website, NBA player Lebron James commented on Silver’s response to a tweet he (Lebron) had made earlier on his personal twitter account “He (Trump) used the sports platform to try and divide us and sports is so amazing and what it can for everyone. No matter the shape, size, race, ethnicity, religion, etc.. People find many things because of sports and it bring people together….. I’m not going to let, while i have this platform to let one Individual no matter what the power he/she should have use sports to divide us.” 

Right now, sports and politics are colliding for reasons under the sole purpose of someone wanting to stand for something they believe in or stand for. These players are only trying to make a point for what they believe in and are being accused of doing something wrong by someone who should be leading our country and not saying words that upset us and divide us. After these events we should know how to stay together as a whole country and not let individual opinions of certain people change how we see things.

National Coming Out Day: General attitude and do’s/don’ts

National Coming Out Day is fast approaching on Wednesday, October 11th. With this in mind,  I would like to talk about how people feel on this day, and things to do and not do.

First things first; some do’s and don’ts.

  • DO be respectful

Coming out can be a hard thing for some people and the last thing they need is disrespect for being themselves.

  • DO say kind things if someone comes out to you

If someone comes out to you, be kind. Say “I’m here to support you.” Or “I will care about you no matter what.” Saying things like this will enforce trust in your friendship or any other relationship type.

  • DON’T out other people

It’s disrespectful to someone if you out them. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think it’s not a big deal or that they should come out. It’s an invasion of their privacy. If they came out to you that means they felt safe enough and trusted you enough to tell you, and by outing them, you immeadiately demolish that trust system.

  • DON’T come out as straight

Considering everyone’s first assumption of people is that they’re straight, there is no need to say this. This is not your day. It is a day for a marginalized group to feel proud about who they are and not have to hide it anymore.

  • DON’T fake “out” someone

If your first reaction to this day is to out someone who’s not in the LGBT+ community as a joke, then don’t do it. Here’s why: It perpetuates a system of oppression that continually makes people in the LGBT+ community the butt of a joke.

  • DON’T force yourself to come out

It’s ok if you don’t come out. This day shouldn’t make you uncomfortable. Come out on your own terms.

  • DON’T pressure someone to come out

People may not be ready to come out or be in a safe position to come out. If you force someone to come out when it’s unsafe you may put your friend in a dangerous situation.

  • DON’T feel like you have to come out on National Coming Out Day

 Come out when you want to come out. Come out when you feel most safe, and ready to, and come out to someone you trust.

Next I’ll talk about the general attitude towards this day. For this I interviewed 9 people who are apart of the LGBT+ community and asked them 4 questions pertaining to National Coming Out Day. Here are some of their answers (if their name and sexuality appear, I obtained clear consent to use it):

Question 1: Why is National Coming Out Day important to you?

Laura Rutherford (trangender girl, bisexual): National Coming Out Day allows people to be their full selves.

Kaliyah Phelps (lesbian): It’s a day for LGBT+ people to use their voice and tell their stories.

Eva Semlak (lesbian): It’s a way to share experiences and talk about them openly.

Ally McGinnis (lesbian): It’s a day of awareness and visibility of LGBT+ people.

Mason Blumer-Lamotte (pansexual): Sheds light on the different types of people and it’s nice to have the option to come out.

Sār Chirhart (gay): A day centered around the courage to come out.

Anonymous: Normalizes being LGBT+ and makes it apparent that it’s hard to be yourself.

Generally most people mentioned that it’s important to highlight the courage, visibility, and vulnerability that it takes to come out.

Question 2: Do you think National Coming Out Day makes it easier to come out?

Mai Dao Thao (non-straight): I think it makes it easier to come out since everyone is doing it and it gives you more confidence.

Laura Rutherford: Yes because people aren’t doing it alone but there is also pressure to come out.

Kaliyah Phelps: Yes, sort of. It’s a lot of pressure for some but a perfect opportunity for others.

Eva Semlak: Yes, but also no. It shouldn’t be a specific day to come out but more of a recognition day.

Ally McGinnis: Yes, but also no. Yes, because it’s an invitation to come out and there’s a lot of support, but no because there a lot of pressure to come out.

Rocco Kyllo (gay): It’s always going to be hard, but it will make it easier eventually.

A lot of people had the same idea. It’s a lot of pressure to come out, but also if you feel none of that pressure it’s a great day.

Question 3: How do you feel about coming out on National Coming Out Day?

Mai Dao Thao: I came out before National Coming Out Day, and it won’t be a surprise or be special since everyone else is coming out.

Laura Rutherford: I didn’t come out on National Coming Out Day, but I felt a lot of pressure to.

Ally McGinnis: It’s cool and if you’re a celebrity it’s a good day to come out and be supportive of others coming out.

Mason Blumer-Lamotte: I personally wouldn’t because I wouldn’t want to put a timer on something so personal, but it’s up to the individual.

Rocco Kyllo: It’s a fun way to come out and it’s good for when you don’t know when to do it.

Anonymous: It’s great for people who need the support but could come to feel like an obligation.

The interview subjects generally felt that it’s good if you are ready to come out but that it could feel like an obligation or necessity if you’re not.

Question 4: What do you think are some “don’ts” of National Coming Out Day?

(I’ve included most of these don’ts in the previous section but I’ll add some of the ones I think need to be emphasized).

Mai Dao Thao: Don’t hate on people that come out because they built so much confidence to do it.

Kaliyah Phelps: Don’t tell them what to say or what not to say.

Ally McGinnis: Don’t out others

Rocco Kyllo: Don’t pressure people to come out

So what’s the take away? Don’t pressure someone to come out, don’t be rude to someone who comes out, and always be accepting of someone who is different than you, because our differences are what makes us human and interesting. The world would be a lot more boring if everyone was the exact same.

Spirit Week 2017

The first months of school are always the most fun. You get to see all of your friends, favorite teachers, the football games, and homecoming! Here at Highland, we have a Spirit Week every year, leading up to our pep fest. Homecoming pepfest consists of performances by the Dance Team, Cheerleaders, and others. The homecoming royalty will also be announced, and the captains of fall sports/clubs will introduce themselves and talk briefly.

This year, Spirit Week is from Monday, October 2nd, until Friday, October 6th. This year’s spirit days are as followed:


Monday – PJ Day

Tuesday – Superhero Day

Wednesday – Jersey Day

Thursday – Class Color Day

Friday – Red out

We asked some of the students about how they felt about the spirit days that are coming up, and here is what they had to say:

“I think that the spirit days this year are very overdone and that maybe next time they should think about doing something fun and something that hasn’t really been done before, something that makes us stand out.”

“I get that they are very limited on their choices for spirit days, but maybe if they could really try and get in one day that hasn’t been done before, things could change.”

“I actually really like the last two days, Class Color Day and Red Out. I believe that Red Out really unites us and makes everyone feel as if they really belong. As for the other days, they are very unoriginal and I hope that they try and come up with something fun and new.”

“I actually don’t really care for Spirit Week. I don’t think we should be so patriotic to a school we’re only spending 4 years of our lives in.”

“They should really do different themes; it’s so boring. The only thing that should stay the same is Class Color day and Red Out.”

“They could tailor it more to what the current students of Highland want. For example, no one wants to do Superhero Day.”

“I’m tired of always doing the same thing every year. HP is very unoriginal but yet again, coming up with good ideas that the student body might actually do is hard.”

With that being said, we also asked students what suggestions they had for future spirit days. Most of the common suggestions/themes we got back were, Tacky Tourist, Celeb Day and Opposite Day. Some of the other suggestions we got were:

  • Cartoon Day
  • Disney Day
  • Twin/Group Day
  • Opposite Day
  • Pride Day
  • Scottish Day
  • Tie Dye Day

We also asked students how they felt about having Class Color Day on Thursday. Many students agreed that we should do Class Color Day on Friday because we’re already split up by class, and we already have the separate class t-shirts. Though many people also agree with the idea of doing Class Color Day on Friday. There are others who absolutely love the idea of doing a Red Out instead, because they feel it is something that unifies all of us, and brings us together as a school so that nobody feels left out.

“I don’t think that it should take t-shirts to make us feel whole, or to unify us. I feel as if we should already feel that way, that everyone should know that no matter what color we are wearing, whether it be our class color or not. We are a school and we stick together and are a whole no matter what.”

Grand Old Days

If you didn’t go to Grand Old Days this year in St. Paul, you missed out. The festival this year was held on Saturday, June 4th, and it lasted all day long. Grand Old Days is a fun filled exciting day that runs up and down Grand Ave all day. The day is full of fun activities like bouncy houses, slides, and fun little mini games like bags or home run derby.

There is also a lot of different kinds of foods available. The food is served via food stands and is cooked right in front of you, so it is always new and fresh. The foods they serve include all your typical festival foods like corn dogs, hamburgers, and hot dogs, but there are also some different foods that in my opinion taste better. The options don’t stop at food though, and there are many drinks like Jamba Juice, lemonade, soda, and this year I even saw drinks served in whole coconuts.

Grand Old Days is a place to go if you want to go and have a good time with your friends and family or by yourself.

Once you have eaten and walked around, and enjoyed what there is to see, you can have a little rest and wait for the parade. The parade is a fantastic parade that includes small and big businesses and organizations, shops on Grand, and of course candy. The parade is never disappointing and always very interesting to see what floats they make to use in the parade. This year there was a wide variety of floats in the parade ranging from small flashy and colorful floats to huge floats packed to the brim with people throwing out candy.

Grand Old Days, as an overall activity, is a great family friendly fun event where you enjoy every second that you are there. I know that I had fun at Grand Old Days and I’m confident that if I asked people that went they would say the same.

Another thing that is very cool at Grand Old Days is the amount of local businesses that have been given space and booths at the event. Many events now are just overrun by big companies and businesses, but at Grand Old Days, and in most of St. Paul, they encourage and support small businesses and local stores or companies.

On the Grand Old Days webpage, they have a whole section devoted to local businesses, and at the event they have two whole blocks set aside for local businesses. I think that this is a very cool thing that they are doing because, like I said before, most events are overrun by big companies and businesses, but I feel that new ideas do need to be expressed and I’ve found that most small and local businesses have very unique and new ideas. Now this isn’t to say that every small business does, but it is more common. This is why I enjoy Grand Old Days as much as I do, because they give everyone a chance to express themselves and share what they have to offer.

Freshmen year

My freshman year was really fun and enjoyable. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be before I came to high school. Since I was new to Highland, there weren’t many people that I knew except for some freshman that came from my middle school, but I made friends throughout my freshman year.

High school isn’t really hard, unless you don’t do your work, study, etc. so, that’s some advice for the new upcoming freshmen. High school is fun, if you don’t make it boring and not fun. In my opinion, all of my classes were fun, both academic and non-academic. I was able to be in Beginning Drawing, Beginning Painting, and Newspaper, all of those elective classes were really fun, but I liked Beginning Drawing and Newspaper more. I was able to step out of my comfort zone and try something new, which was Newspaper and that was nice. I recommend students to join Newspaper, and try it because they might find it fun too.

Also, the club that I joined at Highland was ACC, which is known also as, Asian Culture Club. ACC was fun; I was able to participate in performances and the activities that they had planned.

I was also able to play on the Badminton team this year. Badminton was really fun, and the season went really well, there were many good players, everyone got along with each other, and we all worked really well with each other.

The best part of my freshman year was being able to try out the different elective classes that I had, and being part of ACC, and the Badminton team. Another best part of my freshman year was, being myself and being able to have fun in all the activities that I participated in.  

Overall, my freshman year was really fun. I have many fun and enjoyable moments in my freshman year. I hope to have an even better year, within the next year, and throughout my high school career.

Are fidget spinners O.K. at Highland?

It seems like at least once a year a new craze will sweep across the youth of America. Whether it’s a new toy, dance, or app, it seems unavoidable. This year, a new trend has spun the world into a debate. What is this subject of mass dispute one might ask? You probably guessed it – the fidget spinner.

If you aren’t aware of what these little gadgets look like, just picture three exposed ball bearings surrounding a capped ball bearing in the middle, connected with plastic. (If that description didn’t help just look at the photograph below).

The creator of the fidget spinner, Catherine Hettinger, had the idea for the now very popular toy more than 20 years ago. When Catherine was in Israel she saw boys throwing rocks at law enforcement officials. This gave here the idea to create a way for kids to release their stress, and negative emotions, in an appropriate fashion. In 1997, she pitched the idea to Hasbro Toys, but was shot down. Despite this setback, she got a patent. Unfortunately for Catherine, she patented the idea back in 1997, and the patent expired just this year; meaning the rightful creator is getting no money or credit. It’s really unfortunate when you consider tens of millions of spinners have been sold within the last few months.

photo courtesy of Elliot Wall

So, what has people all worked up about these seemingly harmless toys? Well, a few things. For one, teachers absolutely despise them because they are just another distraction for a generation with more than enough distractions. So, like cell phones, teachers have started to confiscate all fidget spinners seen out during class. Some schools have went as far as to ban them completely from school grounds.

Another reason people don’t like the little toys are the fact that they are just annoying. People complain about the obnoxious buzzing noise they make. They also complain about the little kids running around wildly spinning.

One more reason people don’t like them is the are “just a fad.” Although it’s 100% true that fidget spinners are a fad, and a kind of dumb fad at that, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t enjoy it.

At Highland, it isn’t uncommon to see a kid with a spinner (one author of this article has three). So, is it O.K. to bring them to class? A few teachers were asked to give their opinion of fidget spinners:

Mrs. Corbett, the math teacher, was asked what she thought when she saw kids spinning in class: “I don’t care when I see them out in class but I don’t think they help with ADD or anything. More like a Tech Deck, just a toy to play with… oh and also the kids who use the app are ridiculous.”  

Agriculture and floral design teacher Ms. Wedger was also asked about fidget spinners in the classroom: “It doesn’t bother me. It really bothers me when kids start timing them [how long they spin] or having competitions. I think they can help a very specific group of people, only sometimes, but most kids don’t need them.”

Finally, Mr. Manthis, an English teacher, was asked about his feelings: “I understand their purpose and I don’t care if people are spinning alone. When kids start passing them back and forth is when it becomes distracting.”

We think that fidget spinners are harmless, but can become a nuisance when kids are buying light up, speaker versions and constantly spinning in class. Teachers seem to think the same thing. As long as you keep the spinner to yourself, make sure it’s quiet, and don’t have competitions, it seems like it’s fine to bring them to Highland.

The unfair valley

I usually go on field trips for one reason: getting out of class, and food. Since it’s May, as a Senior, I hardly have anything going on in my class. So, I went to Valleyfair to hang out with my friends, and eat food. I’ve never really been a fan of rides, so that might have been a huge factor in my experience.

Basically, going to Valleyfair was probably the worst decision I made in May.

Despite the strange weather pattern, I thought it was right to dress lightly. And I was right, as it was very warm and humid. And yet, I didn’t think to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, or even a hat. I was constantly looking for shade, as having very fair skin means I get burned easily.

Even if we did decide to go on rides, the lines were very long, and in mostly unshaded areas. The arcade was a ripoff, with heavily inflated prices, and as we were told by the staff themselves, paid out very little.

That seemed to be a recurring theme among the park – high prices. The “theme” of the park was capitalism, or at least, unchecked capitalism. I brought $48 with me, and used it all up on about 4 things. We had lunch at a little 50s-style burger joint place. It looked cool, but that was all – the cheapest meal, a cheeseburger and fries, was about $13, and didn’t even include a drink. The malt I ordered was $6, and didn’t even come in one of those retro cups! The fries were unsalted, and I had to cover them in salt, pepper, and ketchup to make them edible. The burger itself though, was okay.

Drinks were very expensive; the cheapest being $5, with no refill. Near the end of the day, I bought a soft pretzel, which was $7, and for an extra $1, got a small drop of cheese sauce. The pretzel was so salty that I was desperate enough to buy one of the $4 drinks from a vending machine. I was out of money by this point, but my good friend Alex let me borrow $4. The machine itself was finicky and took about ten minutes to buy a single drink.

So, when you become a senior, don’t come to the Unfair Valley, a testament of capitalism unchecked.

Dependence

The week that the Seniors turned in our iPads was strife with technical difficulty. We were all short one more device, and on top of that, the Internet was acting all goofy. Sometimes it didn’t work, sometimes it did. Having no internet for even just an hour really set us back. All of this happening made me realize how dependant we are on technology.

I have always been extremely grateful for my iPad. I have terrible handwriting, and having the tablet really helped me take notes and write things. Having no smart phone until September last year, this also was just really great to have on hand. To look something up, I didn’t need to go on a computer, and for the longest time, it was against the rules in my house to use more than one electronic device at once.

And now, having it removed, it made me realize how much I relied on it. Every morning I would sit down and read about world news and other things. I also used it to write not just for school work, but on my novel. I’ve probably written well over 20,000 words of the book on the iPad alone. In a way, the device was an extension of my brain.

And that worries me.

200 years ago, local journalists just wrote things down. I at first thought I wouldn’t survive in that field with my bad handwriting, but I write far faster than I think. With all this information from the Internet, maybe that’s why I think so fast? I am writing this down on a piece of technology, and you will read it on that. Even if I printed this out, the text would have been made by computers, which is still technology. But then again, isn’t pen and paper technically a technology?

Are we already cyborgs?