Category Archives: School Life

University of Minnesota competitively for 2022-2023

By: Joseph Nelson

The University of Minnesota has always been a very competitive school with it being part of the Big Ten colleges in the U.S. but how competitive was last year for the freshman class of 2022-2023 and how has it changed for the class of 2023-2024?

The U of M is one of the biggest colleges in Minnesota with over 6,700 freshman joining the Gophers every year. But how many applications did the applicant’s office have to go through in order to select these students? Well, for the class of 2022-2023, over 37,000 applications were submitted to the University. That’s about 1 in 5.5 applicants to be accepted into the University. These students weren’t just randomly picked though as the University looks to grab students with a heavy extracurricular activity background and academic achievement (along with many more minor details). So what were the exact stats of the applicants?

As of the 2023 year, the University of Minnesota looks for students that average 3.59-3.96 GPA and have gotten either 27-32 on their ACT or 1330-1500 on their SAT tests. Granted, depending on what major you go in for, the requirements might vary, but this is the general admission rates to get into the 2022 year. This was one of the University’s most competitive years and it seems to continue growing as in only 9 years, the acceptance rate has gone up from 53.29% all the way up to 73%. That’s almost a 20% difference right there.

So how can you increase your odds of getting accepted into the University of Minnesota? Well the 2024-2025 year has no predictions yet on whether or not it will be as competitive as its previous year but if we look back on the past few years then I wouldn’t doubt we’d see around the same results as we did last year. Like stated before, the University loves picking up students who have a large background in extracurricular activities and large academic success in their schools so joining a team or club at your school would help your portfolio immensely for your application. Along with your extracurriculars, averaging around a 3.8-3.9 GPA is highly recommended as this is the golden area of all acceptances of the 2022 year (All A’s and a B here and there).

The U of M is a part of the Big 10 schools so of course it’s going to be attractive to many looking towards going to college. It’s going to be challenging to get in, and sometimes you might feel like quitting, but if you’re considering a future there I cannot recommend going to a Gopher game enough. It always reminds me of the goal to become a Gopher like my parents before me.

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Day in the life of a high school student

By: Caden Kipfmueller & Toby Martin-Kohls

Webster’s dictionary defines senoritis as: an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences, and lower grades. Senioritis is very real and affects at least one student at Highland Park Senior High annually. We chose to follow one such student around for a day and dive deep into the psyche of a slacker.

In order to minimize the time spent in school, this particular student has opted in for a late start. This option, as well as early release, are only available as an option for seniors.

Not only has he obtained a late start, he has managed to fit his class schedule into working for a double late start. This is a remarkable feat of laziness, and it should be appreciated largely because this is a decision that the counselors usually try to steer you away from taking. Somehow, the student we followed managed to convince the counselors to allow him to take this unique opportunity, although we have no clue how (potentially bribery?).

As the writers of this article are also seniors, we also want to note that the current Late Start/Early Release form only includes Period A1, B1, A4, and B4. So, this particular student took the time and energy to talk to the counselors about a course selection alteration to make his schedule easier for his last semester of high school.

After sleeping in well after 10am, this student arrives for his first class, which is Honors Band. This student plays the trumpet. They had a special guest give them a lesson. When interviewing this particular student about his thoughts and feelings about band class, he replied “Uh yeah… we suck.”

After his first class of the day, the student has first lunch. He opts to pack and bring lunch from home. His meal includes a singular slice of ham on two pieces of white bread. No cheese. Just ham. He also packed a brown, sad looking, once-green pear. Personally, I would have not touched that pear with a 10-foot stick. He then moves onto the next part of his meal. He has packed two protein bars. He ended up dropping one on the bacteria filled high school cafeteria table and still proceeded to eat it. What a way to support the elimination of food waste. Kudos to such an environmentally sustainable move!

When interviewed, this student said, “I enjoy lunch because I get to refuel my body for my last class of the day.” Such great words to hear if you are his Chinese teacher!

His last class of the day is IB Chinese. But wait! First, he needs to head to the CCRC (College and Career Readiness Center) to print out his almost late IB Physics IA. This is quite an important assignment, for those who don’t know, IA stands for Internal Assessment. We take a nice walking trip around the first floor, and as we get to the CCRC, he notices the red sign on the door noting that they are closed for advisory. He exclaims “!@#%! Hopefully the library is open?” I don’t say anything and let him ponder about his struggles. As a senior, it is surprising he doesn’t know how the school operates.

We make it to the library and log in on the slow computers. He struggles with getting to Google Docs, so I have to step in and help him navigate. After around 15 minutes in the library, he has his 4 page Physics IA. He quickly runs up to the third floor, only to find that Mrs. Hedwall’s door is closed. He knocks, and interrupts a class of juniors. The class is dead silent as he walks in and awkwardly hands his fresh off the printer IA. But, he’s managed to do the hardest thing of the day, getting his Physics IA in.

Our student walks in late, but the teacher does not seem to care. When prompted by the reporter about his tardiness, the student replied “I don’t care.” His class is preparing for the IB Chinese exams. His class was rowdy and energetic, but ultimately focused. Our student talks in Chinese sentences about the family in a picture, showing off his multilingual abilities.

Our subject is not perfect, however. The teacher asks him a question and he struggles to answer for a second before replying in Chinese. This response is met with laughter, though this humble reporter is not fluent in the language and thus does not understand the joke he made. At the end of the class, our student asks for clarification on the homework. His teacher makes a joke about how he wants to do two assignments instead of one.

The day ends, and our student is ready to go home after a long, tiring day at school. One of our reporters asked him about the latest history assignment on WWII, and our student revealed himself to be pro nuclear bombs. What an awesome day at school!

It should be noted that this article is 2 weeks late, showing that senoritis truly affects everyone.

How to deal with school stress and mental health at the same time

By: Mya Olson – Williams

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As all Highland Park Senior High students know, mid-quarter grades are coming out and many are dealing with seasonal depression during this long lasting winter. There’s several assignments and projects due at this time, as well as a new formative grading policy. How do you deal with the stress and pressure of school at the same time as your own mental health?

Taken from experience, never procrastinate your work. Yes, it takes a lot of energy, and yes, it’s boring to do. Unless you work great under immense pressure, starting assignments right before they’re due will cause way more stress. Work on them in class, or set time aside to do them so you don’t have to worry about it later.

Focus on one thing at a time. For example, try to focus on what you’re doing at school while you’re there, and take care of yourself when you have downtime at home. With too much going on in your head, you can get easily overwhelmed.

Talk to someone. If you need help with school work, HPSH is full of adults willing to help you, along with parents or other mentors. Same thing goes for mental health. If you think you need help and support, don’t be afraid to reach out. Having someone there for you is always a good way to feel more secure.

One of the best things to do is take breaks. If you have the time, take some time to do the things that make you happiest. Whatever it is, relax and focus on yourself for a while. It always feels good to disconnect from the world, especially with so much going on around you.

This time of the school year can be more than stressful. Make sure you’re staying healthy and paying attention to the things needed to be done at school. It can be very very hard, but don’t forget to learn about all the resources that are available to you!

Seasonal depression at Highland

By: Alexa Ramirez

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As we get further into the intense Minnesota winter, many people have become affected by seasonal depression. This being something so common in a place with such a long winter, I wanted to explore how it is, or can be connected to school, and how that can change.

By definition, seasonal depression is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. It typically ends at about the same time every year and affects people most during fall and winter months. Mayo Clinic has reported that 44% of students experience seasonal depression, and it left me wondering how it may have affected, or be affecting, our student community here at Highland.

To start these interviews, I chose to keep them anonymous and to keep them simple. I asked them 1. How they think seasonal depression and schoolwork are connected for them, or for students around them, and 2. What advice they’d give to someone struggling with seasonal depression. These were all freshman students who are experiencing their first winter at this school, and I gave them full range with their answers. These were their responses:

Student 1: “I get slight seasonal depression, and it’s mostly based on how gray it is. The weather throws me off so much and it’s hard to deal with. And yes, school is a factor. Being worried about having everything turned in by winter break is stressful, plus having homework while even having a break is worse. For teachers to assign homework to students who will be on vacation or with their family, it’s hard to do all the homework. I know that this year is the last day of my break. I spent a long time catching up on work. I’d say it’s connected because teenagers (aka us) are already stressed about it in the first place. Also, having more and more homework loaded on top of each other even though teachers haven’t graded during the break also brings stress, because it might be too late to make up for not-so-great work.”

“Advice I’d give would probably be to take a while to yourself. I spend all my breaks either with my family, stressing, or doing homework, also stressing a bit. So, just taking a while to do absolutely nothing for a little bit helped me a lot.”

Student 2: “I think the winter makes me lose interest in doing my schoolwork because of how dark and cold it is here. Also, since right now we’re in the stretch of having fewer breaks we get a lot of homework and projects and the bad weather and little sunlight makes it difficult for me to have motivation and want to get stuff done.”

“I would recommend studying or doing your schoolwork with other people to get motivation, and not being afraid to ask your teachers for another day or two to finish an assignment you’re having a tough time with. I also think that it’s important to not only spend time in school and at home, I think it’s good to get out of the house when you can. as well as reaching out to your friends and family to spend time together.”

Student 3: “They are connected cause school work relies on your mental health to be stable and good and seasonal depression usually happens during the winter months when school is at its hardest”

“My advice would be to ask for help and find things that occupy your time other than school.”

My overall takeaway from these interviews was that any student experiencing seasonal depression is definitely not alone! Many people are experiencing it in their own way, or give it some kind of thought. Along with their recommendations, some things a reader struggling with, or experiencing, seasonal depression could do would be:

–  Looking for clubs or sports in school that might fill any free time you don’t want

–  Be active. It doesn’t have to be anything extreme, make sure you’re listening to yourself. But doing things like going on walks, playing sports, or any fun activity outside, have been shown to help especially during the winter months when time outside is hardest to achieve, is when it’s most important to make an effort to get outside and catch any sun there may be.

–  Try new things. Recently this winter, I’ve been trying yoga classes which have been fun for me to do and have given me a new focus. Things like those or like new books and shows can be helpful for someone looking for a new activity to put your energy towards.

–  Take care of yourself. Doing the simple things go a long way in making you feel accomplished and fulfilled. Making sure you’re making your bed, showering, drinking water and eating enough, and spending time with loved ones are all examples of small things that make a big difference.

Of course, everyone’s experience is different and what works for me or for the people interviewed in this article might not be the same for everyone, and at the end of the day reaching out is always a good idea.

Some sources here in Minnesota made just for teens can be found on:

Stay healthy!

Plaid Line winter break hiatus

Since we are a school newspaper, we will be on winter break from December 19-January 2. We will not be releasing any new content during that time, but we hope that you may have the opportunity to check out some of our work from previous years.

We would like to thank all of our readers at the end of this calendar year, as you have helped to provide us with an ever growing audience!

Everything I’ve learned about high school (from a Senior)

By: Grace Blumer-Lamotte

High school can be very intimidating. Stepping foot into the school on your first day as a freshman can be overwhelming and stressful. Here are some tips, coming from a Senior in high school. 

The first tip I would give is to STAY ON TOP OF YOUR SCHOOL WORK! This may seem silly to many but this is what I think is the most important tip of them all. Falling behind will get you nowhere. If you stay ahead you allow yourself time to yourself to do things you enjoy. It also allows you to get ahead in most of your classes, especially if the assignments are posted days or weeks in advance. 

Another important tip I have is staying organized. I know many high school students that struggle with falling behind and the main reason is that they are not organized. I have had a planner ever since middle school. I know planners do not work for everyone, but they work for some students. Writing all of the assignments due that week in my planner, and color coordinating the formatives and summative assignments, actually gave me a breath of fresh air in a busy week. It also helped me stay organized and on top of when my assignments were due.

There are many different ways to organize your planner. The way that I found that best suited me was writing out all of my classes that I had that week on each day, e.g. English, History, etc. Next, I would pick a specific color for formative assignments and a different color for summative assignments. I would write out all of the assignments, in the correct color code, due that week.

Finally, after every single one of my classes, I would write down next to the subject what I needed to complete before the next class, e.g. finish the worksheet, and complete the notes. I never knew that doing this during my freshman year would lead me to great success in my organization. I still use a planner and my color coordination method to this day. This healthy habit will follow me through college as well.

Adding on to the tips, another one that impacted me was joining clubs and sports after school. This is where I ended up finding most of my friends that still are with me my senior year. Yes, friends will come and go but the friends I made from sports never went, they stayed.

My freshman year I was super scared, I was starting high school with almost no friends/not knowing anyone. I thought I would try out for the volleyball team and I ended up making a team. I made amazing connections with every single one of the girls on the team, both freshman and older students. I stuck with volleyball all four years of high school and I have never been happier with my decision. I had the opportunity to grow up with these girls and spend most of my time with them.

If you are not a sports person, I would highly recommend joining a club or the theater program at Highland Park Senior High, or really any high school. Joining a club or program of some sort will help guide you through the ups and downs that high school gives you.

Another tip I would give is to go to those sports games. I understand that you might have a lot of homework, but try to finish it before you go. The high school sports games are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to really connect with your classmates and cheer on your school teams. I remember going to every single “musket” game all four years of high school. The energy, joy, and excitement can’t compare to deciding not to go. You only get to have four years of high school, enjoy it while you can.

I do regret one thing from high school. I regret not putting my full effort into every single class that I took during my freshman, sophomore, and junior year. This can have a great impact on applying to colleges and your GPA. 

Overall, one of my most important tips is to stay on top of your school work, stay organized, join clubs/sports/programs, and go to those sports games.

The one retake policy is pretty dumb, and here’s why

By: Abisola Dosunmu

First of all, where’s the motivation for this? Who thought this rule up? Because that puts way too much pressure on high school students, especially in accelerated classes. I get trying to prepare students for college, but I think the one retake thing per quarter is a little harsh. 

Second of all, what do educators hope to accomplish with this rule? I think I can understand the reason behind it. Maybe they think that if students are more stressed to perform well on the test, they’ll perform better. I think that more stress, even though some students perform better under pressure, isn’t necessarily what works well for all students. Is more stress really what students need? Most students don’t really need that extra pressure. 

You have to account for all students when it comes to making these rules. I wrote in the last paragraph that some students cope well under pressure and absorb the material better and therefore, won’t have as much trouble test taking. But other students suffer from test anxiety, and with the one retake policy, feel more pressure to score high, which is pretty disastrous for them. 

I think one of the biggest reasons for this rule is that in college, you’re not really allowed to retake tests like you would in high school. But in real life, you’re allowed to retake important tests. Imagine how many people wouldn’t have their driver’s license if they were only allowed to retake it once. 

Retaking tests benefits educators too! Retaking shows the spots they need to reteach a little more, and work on with students.

I think there should be a compromise. Instead of one retake in every class per quarter, two makes more sense. Also, If students retake the test more, they will absorb the information better and won’t immediately forget about it after the test is over.

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ACT vs SAT: Why do we take them? Are they necessary?

By: Maya Breininger

The infamous ACT/SAT exams date back to 1959, and have been used to summarize a student’s academic ability. The question is: Is this an accurate measurement of a student’s capabilities, or is it a grueling task that we just assign to high school students?

A study done in New York City addresses the high levels of chronic stress high school students face daily. It tells us how mentally damaging the repetitive cycle of school can be for young students, and about how the system is fit to teach students who all learn the same way. The cycle of learning a topic, memorizing it, and writing down the information on a test is the daily stressful learning system that students endure every day.

Although there are many studies done suggesting that this is the most efficient and effective way to reach large audiences of children, there are opposing studies that express how vital it is to have interactive assignments that immerse the kids in the material.

Now, what does this have to do with the ACT/SAT exams?

Well, first you have to ask yourself a few of questions – What are the contents of the exam? Are the pages of multiple choice questions of topics that were briefly discussed during class time the best way to assess a student’s academic value? Are the “core class” sections of the test – made to prepare you for very specific and non-diverse career paths – truly reaching into a student’s brain and obtaining its full potential?

Disregarding the repetitive nature of the test, along with the questionable measurement of educational properties, the way that these test scores are used can be very harmful for individuals.

Now, anyone can argue that the tests are used by many colleges and universities as tools to filter their applications, but is it accurate? Can it harm the individual?

SAT scores – according to the website – are used to make decisions about admissions, by comparing students based off of their scores. This indirectly states that a 3 hour exam can accurately capture the knowledge of an entire student. By using the same sections and decisions, colleges assess who can make it through applications.

Consider these components the next time that you have a conversation about the SAT scores, or form an opinion of a person for refusing to take them. Besides the fact that your score could deter your dream college from your application, it’s also a good idea to survey the contents of the SAT, and find out if it’s worth an entire year of stress to young high school students who might not even all learn the same way.

Now that you’ve read this article, can you confidently state that SAT and ACT exams are an accurate assessment of student knowledge? Should a decision made in 1959 about the rules of education affect how colleges view your application information?

The way I see it, it’s not an accurate assessment of the whole student, and there are lots of better ways for colleges to determine if a student is a good fit for their school.

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What is spirit week? And how was it for HPSH?

By: Domingo Basso

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So, our school, Highland Park Senior High, has this thing called spirit week at certain points in the year.

Actually, first allow me to explain to you what exactly this “spirit week” is. Spirit week is a time of year for schools to be a little more festive and have some fun with some little event or spin on the norm every day of the week. Such as: wearing all white clothes to school one day or wearing pajamas. Spirit weeks usually last… well one week (hence the name) and are usually active before an event at said school.

Another thing to note is that most high schools have their spirit week on the week of homecoming ,and ends with a pep rally on the Friday of that week, followed by the homecoming dance later that night. 

In Highland Park Senior High’s case, spirit week had the following events each day: Monday was pajama + stuffed animal day, Tuesday was Twin day, Wednesday was Cultural pride day, Thursday was class color day, and finally, Friday was RED OUT day. 

The whole concept of spirit week was first really put into use in the year of 1952. The first spirit week was known as “Friendship Week” at Palo Alto High School and later on in the 1960s it was renamed to what we know it as today: “Spirit Week”

Finally, to close off this article, let’s see the opinions of some students around Homecoming Spirit Week of 2022.

I interviewed four students and this is what they all said: 

The first student said: “Mid.” And after having this person elaborate a little more they proceeded to say that it wasn’t all that good because “There wasn’t a no backpack day,” and “it was so bad that I can’t even remember any of the themes from that week” (By the way this same person didn’t know what the theme of most of the days even were).

The second student said :“Kinda boring,” and after making this student also elaborate more, via the use of a very friendly message including their address and a picture of their immediate family, they proceeded to say that it was because “None of the daily events were all that interesting or engaging.”

And the third student had this to say about spirit week: “It was alright, Friday was cool because of the pep fest but some of the other days barely anyone participated in spirit week.”

Finally, the fourth student said: “Yah I like spirit week.” Not much to say there they simply found spirit week enjoyable.

Overall, I’d say spirit week was alright. Last year was better though, because the events were more interesting.

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The pros and cons of students being allowed to use personal devices in school

By: Abisola Dosunmu

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Should the use of interpersonal devices—like phones—-be allowed in schools? I feel like that’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one time or another. Maybe not in that exact wording—but, well, you know what I mean.

In our modern world, life thrives on the use of digital technology.  We can use digital devices to communicate with our friends, family, literally anybody. There are around 7.753 billion people on this earth. With a few key types and a click of a button we can easily communicate with them. Maybe we’ve gotten desensitized to that, especially with the younger generation, but let me remind you, a hundred years ago, this would have been impossible to even think about. Now, it’s our reality. That’s pretty amazing.

So, what does ranting about the use of modern technology have to do with my topic? Well, cell phones have many uses besides the opportunity of being socially connected. They can be used for organization, note taking, access to educational apps, and new and unique learning opportunities tailored to each student’s needs. There’s really no one size fits all for everyone, especially when it comes to learning. 

Now, we have a whole labyrinth of information on the internet waiting to be discovered, with new takes on information and data from people all around the world. The ability to discover new perspectives and the opportunity to expand students’ minds and stray from the dusty old textbooks and worksheets.  Isn’t that what learning is about? Why not take advantage of that?

But, I also understand how cell phones can easily be misused in a learning environment. From distractions and cheating, to bullying, the use of cell phones can have a very negative impact on students’ daily lives. It all comes down to trust. When executed the right way, it can be a fresh and a helpful new way to develop new ways of learning.

I’m not saying I prefer this one way or another. Each point has its advantages and drawbacks. I mean, distance learning was done on devices. Some students thrived on it, some people didn’t. That’s fine. 

Instead of policing and trafficking use of all personal devices, recognize that some people can handle their devices responsibly and some genuinely need it (emergencies, to notify a guardian, personal problems, rescheduling something, etc.), while some people may have trouble focusing on learning with it.  That’s okay, because everyone learns differently and has different challenges. 

How can we achieve that? Well, there’s really no fair way to make it a rule one way or another. Despite what I just wrote, you can’t really allow one student to be on their phone and ban the other student from using it. What you can do is teach students to be responsible with their personal devices, to be respectful when using it, to be responsible with sharing content, and realizing when it’s time to put it away.  I know it might not seem like it, but it’s just another life lesson you need to teach in school.

So, what do you think? Should we encourage personal digital devices in school settings or completely veer away from it?

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