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.

YA! program at CLUES

Throughout the Twin Cities, there are many programs (within and outside of school) to help students prepare for their future/college.

CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio) has The Youth in Action! (YA!) program in St. Paul, and for the first time, the program will also be running a CLUES in Minneapolis!

The YA! program is dedicated to help Latino students feel more empowered to become future leaders. Every student in the program is matched with a mentor to support and motivate them. Student and mentor pairs get to know each other during the YA! Institutes, and on an individual basis to help them with whatever they need. YA! Institutes are held every second Saturday of each month, through September and June.

photo courtesy of Tanya Tzwald

Along with mentors, students are given many amazing opportunities to volunteer at places like Feed My Starving Children and Toys for Tots.

Students are also given the opportunity to develop their leadership skills by planning civic engagement activities. Civic engagement activities are focused on topics like problem solving for the community, formation/changing of laws, local and national governing bodies, and bettering our communities.

I have been in the YA! program since 2015 (my sophomore year), and I wish I had joined sooner. Since joining, I have definitely seen my leadership skills grow. I have had the opportunity to help/run a civic engagement activity, and volunteer at not only the places I mentioned, but I also became a Play Team member at the Minnesota Children’s Museum.

Applications are out! If you know someone that will be in 9th grade next year, encourage them to apply! Or if you have further questions, please contact Tanya Zwald at tzwald@clues.org or call (651) 379-4235!

More info – http://www.clues.org/wp_english/portfolio/youth-engagement-enrichment/

St. Olaf: Racist note was a “hoax”

On April 29, 2017, a racist note saying, “I am so glad you are leaving soon. One less [N-word] this school has to deal with. You have spoken up too much. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up,” was found on Samantha Well’s car, a black student at St. Olaf college in Northfield, MN.  

The tight knit community, at the small private liberal arts college, initiated a campus wide rally that was streamed live via Facebook that day. The stream featured a variety of visibly shook-up, and very distraught students. The rally turned into a sit in, and classes were cancelled for the following two days, as most of the St. Olaf students spent the day supporting their peers who had been affected by the incident.

Student organizers demanded extensive campus changes regarding the way the

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Image from foxnews.com

administration responds to, and investigates incidents like this one. Precious Ismail, a spokeswoman for the campus group, the Coalition for Change on the Hill, told the Star Tribune, “Our movement wasn’t about one individual, our movement was about a pattern of institutional racism.”

On Wednesday, May 10, it was announced by the President of St. Olaf, David R Anderson, that the note was a “hoax,” and that a St. Olaf student was responsible for authoring the note. Anderson added, “federal privacy laws prohibit the college from disclosing the identity of the author of that note and disclosing the actions taken by the college now that we know the author’s identity.” In a message to the students, Anderson wrote that the note was “fabricated” and was a “strategy to draw attention to concerns about the campus climate.”

The Northfield police told the Star Tribune that the case has been closed as of Wednesday due to the fact that Wells decided not to file a report, as she is leaving soon and would rather spend her last few weeks at college enjoying herself, than to be preoccupied with a case.

Anderson told the Star Tribune that the campus will continue to investigate similar reported incidents.

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Image from star tribune.com

Nerf wars

Nerf wars is an annual event for Highland Park students taking place after spring break. Students who wished to participate had to create a team of 5 and each team member was required to pay a fee of $5 to play.

The competition, this year,  began with 21 teams, and now is in the second round with 16 remaining. Any student was able to participate as long as they paid the fee and had a team of members. The teams were then seeded by grade, number of drivers on the team, previous experience, and if they played any sports.

A team with multiple drivers, and previous experience, is at a much higher advantage than the other teams, but this year’s Nerf wars, in the community, has changed a little. Most parents are not allowing their sons or daughters participate due to the serious risks that come along with the game.

On December 4th, 2015, two Lakeville South students, who were participating in a Nerf wars game, were killed in a car accident. Jacob Flynn, 17, and John Price, 18, were the two students who were killed. Mason Kohlbeck, 18, and Alexander Hughes, 17, were among the ones injured in the car accident. Hughes was driving the pickup truck when it crossed over the center line and flipped multiple times before it stopped.

Due to this tragic event, regarding the Lakeville South students, Ramsey County Attorney, John Choi, sent out an email to many administrators and parents of students participating in Nerf wars this spring. The email brought to attention the potential dangers of the game for the students who chose to play. Choi met, and talked, with parents of different schools, “I learned a lot about what is happening and am concerned that some of these activities are not only dangerous, but also illegal, and could result in serious injuries and/or prosecution.”

In his email, he stated what parents have said about how many different students that have partaken in the game “Have used cars to block other teens; jumped on top of moving vehicles; slashed tires; gotten into car accidents; crawled into homes, garages and/or on roofs without the homeowner’s permission, often in the dark and in violation of curfew laws.” With that being said many of the schools’ administrations are encouraging students not to play.

School administrations aren’t the only ones who are concerned; many parents won’t let their sons or daughters play, which has lowered the number of teams playing. In the past there have been around 34 teams and this year their was only 21 teams.

New superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools

In the end, there were two candidates for superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools, after one of the final three candidates withdrew himself from consideration.

Undated courtesy photo, circa March 2017, of the three finalists announced March 23, 2017 to lead St. Paul Public Schools as superintendent. The candidates are, from left; Joe Gothard, superintendent of the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage school district, Cheryl Logan, chief academic support officer for Philadelphia public schools, and Orlando Ramos, regional superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. (Courtesy of St. Paul Public Schools)

The superintendent is like the CEO of the district. The superintendent’s job is to put into place the school board’s visions by making daily decisions about: educational programs, budget spending, staff, and schools. The superintendent hires and manages the staff and principals of the district.

The first superintendent candidate was Joseph Gothard. Dr. Gothard went to Edgewood Collage and has a Bachelors degree in Biology Education, a Masters degree in Educational Administration, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. He used to be a principal, and assistant superintendent, in Madison, Wisconsin. He has most recently been the superintendent for the Burnsvill-Eagan-Apple Vally school district.

The second candidate was Cheryl Logan. Dr. Logan has a Bachelors of Science degree, a Masters degree of Educational Leadership, and a Doctorate in Education Policy – from the University of Pennsylvania. She has served as Principal at Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland; principal at Gorman Crossing Elementary School in Laurel, Maryland; and also as assistant superintendent of Schools in the school district of Philadelphia. She has most recently been the chief academic support officer for the Philadelphia school district.

The position of superintendent was said to have a $238,000 salary.

On April 11th, the SPPS school board chose Dr. Joseph Gothard to be the new superintendent of SPPS district. The board said they chose Gothard over Logan because of “[ Dr. Gothard’s] strong leadership experience and knowledge of education in Minnesota.” The board also said ” We were impressed by his public engagement in developing the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District’s strategic ‘Vision One91’ plan. Dr. Gothard is also skilled at bringing people together for a unified vision for a district, and understands racial equity and its impact on student learning.”

The school board and Dr. Gothard are still negotiating the terms of his contract. They hope to have everything finalized by May 1st of this year.

Additional information can be found at: http://www.twincities.com/2017/03/23/who-will-be-st-pauls-next-schools-superintendent-three-finalists-to-be-named/

Transgender students and bathrooms

On Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017, the Trump administration withdrew protection rights, for transgender students, that were put into place during the recent Obama-era. The protection allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms according to what gender they identified with.

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Image form christianheadlines.com

Many believe that the federal government should not have become involved with the issue, but that it should have always been up to the states to decide their bathroom laws.

The Trump administration sent out a two page letter to public schools explaining that the Obama-era guidance did not provide “extensive legal analysis” and therefore, it should be decided on a state-level.

The White House stated, “The joint decision made today by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education returning power to the states paves the way for an open and inclusive process to take place at the local level with input from parents, students, teachers and administrators.” However, according to CNN, a source reported to them that Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, was against the Trump administration’s draft for withdrawing the guidance.

It’s been reported that DeVos was publically on board, but did privately express her hesitance and disagreements with the guidance. According to CNN, DeVos was summoned to the White House to meet with the President where “she was told to agree to the plans.”

A statement, issued by the White House, regarding the new guidance, states that the guidance “does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment.”

In agreement with the White House’s statement, addressing student protections, Civil Rights groups have pointed out that this new guidance does not undo state-level protections or Title IX for transgender students. Title IX is an education amendment that was made in 1972. The amendment states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Even with the protection of Title IX and state level laws, CEO of Lambda Legal, Rachel B. Tiven, said in a statement, “The law bars discrimination – the new administration invites it.”

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Image from post-gazette.com

College student crudely arrested for swastika vandalism

A University of Minnesota student was arrested Thursday, February 16th, and is accused of vandalizing a desk in the common area of his residence hall with a swastika. University police said they arrested the student,  identified as Matthew Gruber, on suspicions of vandalizing part of the 17th Avenue Residence Hall. The University student has not been charge with a crime yet, but they are holding him for suspicion.

The swastika was noticed by a University student, who reported that they found a swastika in their Pioneer Hall dorm room.

According to http://www.jta.org, the campus police told the local ABC affiliate, KSTP, “UMPD takes incidents and reports of bias related crime very seriously. These cases are comprehensively and completely investigated.”

Since December, there have been seven reports of swastikas, neo-Nazi propaganda and other anti-Semitic graffiti at the University, according to the University’s Bias Response and Referral Network.

Día sin inmigrantes

b806420“Día sin inmigrantes” fue el jueves 16 de febrero de 2016. Los Estados Unidos se unieron para protestar. Aquí en Minnesota, tuvimos una marcha que comenzó en el Consulado Mexicano (797 7th St E 55106) pasado centro de la ciudad, todo el camino a la capital. Durante la marcha hacia la capital hubo muchas paradas para ver a los bailarines aztecas. Cerca de 300 personas marchaban, y había más gente allí.

Muchos grandes restaurantes y tiendas estaban cerrados, tales como:

  • El Burrito Mercado
  • Boca Chica Restaurant & Taco House
  • El Nuevo Rodeo
  • La Loma Tamales
  • Las Mojarras
  • Panaderia San Miguel
  • Los Ocampo
  • Taqueria Los Paisanos
  • Los Gallos (las 15 localidades)
  • Salón de Belleza Avandaros

Estos eran sólo algunos de los lugares populares que estaban cerrados, pero había muchas más empresas que estaban cerradas. Mi papá cerró su negocio, J.P Auto Body pero no asistió a la protesta conmigo. En la capital, los bailarines aztecas continuaron actuando y gritando “Un pueblo unido, jamás será vencido”, “Si se puede” y muchas cosas más, Dirigido principalmente a Donald Trump.

Como alguien que tiene inmigrantes en su familia y en su grupo de amigos, esta protesta fue muy importante para mí. Ver el apoyo de no sólo mi carrera, pero muchos más fue increíble. Esperemos que esta protesta trajo a todos más cerca y que trajo más conciencia de cómo los inmigrantes afectan no sólo la economía, sino todo lo demás.

 

For those unable to read Spanish:

“Day Without Immigrants” was on Thursday, February 16th, 2017. The United States joined together to protest against President Trump and his immigration statements. Here in Minnesota, we had a march that started at the Mexican Consulate ( 797 7th St E 55106 ), went past downtown, all the way to The Capital. During the march towards the capital, there were many stops to watch the Aztec dancers. About 300 people were marching, and there were more people there.

Many big restaurants and stores were closed, such as:

  • El Burrito Mercado
  • Boca Chica Restaurant and Taco House
  • El Nuevo Rodeo
  • La Loma Tamales
  • Las Mojarras
  • Panaderia San Miguel
  • Los Ocampo
  • Taqueria Los Paisanos
  • Los Gallos (all 15 locations)  
  • Avandaros Beauty Salon

These were just some of the popular places that were closed, but there were many more businesses that were closed. My dad closed his business, J.P Auto Body, but did not attend the protest with me. While in the capital, the Aztec dancers continued to perform and to yell “Un pueblo unido, jamás será vencido” ( a nation united, will never be defeated), “Si se puede” (yes we can) and many more things, mainly directed at Donald Trump.

As someone that has immigrants in their family and in their friend group, this protest was very important to me. Seeing the support from not only my race, but many more was amazing. Hopefully, this protest brought everyone closer, and it brought more awareness to how immigrants affect not only the economy but everything else.

 

Prom dress: Censored

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The Osakis School Board, in Osakis, Minnesota, has suggested a new rule for their upcoming prom in April. The original “rule of thumb” prom dress code was described as “to wear what they would feel comfortable wearing to church.” This is a public High School. Despite that, not every single person goes to church, or might not have ever attended church. I would not save my money all year, for a night, to only wear something I could wear every week. 

Here are some ideal examples for church-wear, and apparently appropriate prom attire as well:

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Image from pinterest.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new suggestion is requiring every girl who is planning to attend this year’s prom to submit a photo of them wearing their chosen dress to their school’s prom advisor. Photo submissions of boys are not required. This has recently been approved by the school board and will be required.

Another thing that is not required is entrance into the prom dance. After one has spent the $80 on a ticket, $100 on the dress of their dreams, around $100 on hair and makeup, and another $50 on their nails, these girls still can be turned away at the door if their dress does not meet the dress code. Board member Monica Klimek stated, “We have a right to not allow entrance to the prom.”

A statement about the dress code requirements was passed out to all 11th and 12th graders in the Osakis High School. The statement said:

“Appropriate attire is required since prom is an official, formal school event…Ladies, an acceptable prom dress is one that you would feel comfortable wearing to a formal event at school…Length of dresses must be lower than the fingertips when arms are held straight down at sides. Tennis shoes, sunglasses and baseball caps are not formal attire and are not acceptable.”

The letter does address dress code suggestions for the attending “gentlemen.” Suggestions include: dress pants, dress shirt, sports coat and tie, tuxedo, accompanied by dress socks and shoes. The letter concludes by saying, “Prom is a privilege and not a right.” Students must sign and return the letter.

The reason behind these requirements for the girls is due to an attempt to prevent “embarrassment” according to the Osakis School board.

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Image from theosakisreview.com

However, who are they to declare if one is embarrassed by what they wear?

If another goal, in declaring this dress code, was to prevent any unwanted attention, or advancements, from the “gentlemen” attending, why not teach them how to be a gentleman?

Don’t restrict a girl’s freedom to express herself through what she wears. It’s 2017 and as far as I’m concerned, girls have been told what not to wear for years. Onlookers have been blaming their wardrobe for what happens to them, but I have never heard of clothes that say “please come and make me feel embarrassed and violated.”

Young women should have the freedom to wear what THEY feel comfortable in: sneakers, an elaborate dress, sweats, etc. No young women should feel a backlash for wanting to feel extra special for a night.

A Day Without Immigrants

Thursday, February 16, 2017, was known as “A Day Without Immigrants.” Immigrants around the U.S. stayed home from work, and school, on Thursday, to demonstrate how important they are to America’s economy. In an act of solidarity, many businesses also closed for the day. The boycott was primarily directed at the Trump administration’s efforts to build a wall along the Mexican border, increase deportations, and ban travel from a number of Middle Eastern countries.

The protest affected many aspects of life, but A Day Without Immigrants mainly affected the restaurant industry. The restaurant industry was heavily impacted because it offers the most jobs to new immigrants in the U.S. It offers jobs such as cooks, servers, and dishwashers.

Since the end of 2007, the number of foreign-born employees in the U.S. has jumped by nearly 3.1 million to 25.9 million; they account for 56 percent of the increase in the U.S. workforce, according to the Labor Department. In the restaurant industry, there are 12 million immigrants employed, and in cities such as New York and Chicago, they account for more than 70% of the restaurant workforce. Another industry that felt the impact of the protests was construction.

A large portion of the protesters are having to deal with the consequences of President Trump, when a majority of them didn’t even have the right to vote, while other protesters didn’t even vote for him. There is no nation-wide number stating how many people stayed home from school or work, but many student absences were not excused, and some people who skipped work lost a day’s pay or perhaps even their jobs. Even with these consequences, organizers and participants argued the cause was worth it.

Here in St. Paul, the marches started in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. A couple hundred people gathered at the corner of East Seventh and Hope streets near the offices of the Mexican Consulate in St. Paul. The march traveled down East Seventh street past the Asian grocery store, an Ethiopian church, an Italian pizzeria, and a Mediterranean grill. By noon, the streets of St. Paul had protester groups that were two or three blocks long. The march eventually made its way to the Capitol building. The total number of protesters in the Twin Cities reached nearly 200 people, of all types, who boycotted work and school. There was also a handful of restaurant chains the closed in solidarity to the protest.