KHQ TODAY

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Cry Pretty

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Photo Curtesy Of Tribune News
A country singer, Carrie Underwood, released her sixth studio album, Cry Pretty, on September 14, 2018. The album consist of 13 songs. They are soulful and full of meaning. The songs show another part of Carrie that most fans are not use to seeing. Not all of the songs have music videos, but you still feel the meaning in each word she sings. The songs Bullet and Love Wins are definitely the most inspirational, and the words convey messages still talked about today. These topics consist of gay rights and gun violence. In today’s climate talking about these issues is important because it helps
open the minds of people in society, and brings light to some major issues. The album has taken some political risk, but nonetheless the songs aren’t just about the country, roads and drinking that most stereotypical country music holds, they’re about love and convey real meaning, but Carrie keeps her country style and full throat voice. I’m not a big fan of country music. I’ve never listen to it, but I decided to try something different. And I was pleasantly surprised. If you’re a fan of country music and songs with what, I believe, are meaningful and full of life, I highly recommend the album Cry Pretty.
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Swimming

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In his fifth and final studio album, the late Mac Miller drowns the listener in captivating songs of R&B, soul, jazz rap about heartbreak, self love, and healing. But do not be mistaken, this is not a breakup album.
“I’m just talking about things that I’m proud of myself for, things I’m afraid of, or things that are just thoughts and emotions,” he told Beats 1 host Zane Lowe.
The whole album itself, flows at the same pace and keeps you listening. The leading single, Self Care tells how Miller is overcoming struggles and making the decision to treat himself right.
The emotional and nostalgic feel of 2009 with a beautiful orchestra playing at the beginning will have you reminiscing on the past.

More upbeat songs like What’s the use? , which has a subtle cameo of Snoop Dogg, tells how Miller is dealing with personal devastation.
The title goes wonderfully with the album as a whole, the album flows you along song to song, each telling a story and has important meaning behind each one. Overall, the word that comes to mind when I listen to this album is patience, I’m not quite sure how to explain why but maybe because the album seems to keep you calm and focused, even the upbeat songs. I would highly recommend listening to Swimming on your lowest, chillest, or simply days you just need to be in your head.

Photo courtesy of Tribune News
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Sierra Burgess Really Is A Loser

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The Netflix original movie Sierra Burgess Is a Loser was supposed to be a homage to every self conscious girl who feels like they have no purpose or have no idea who they are. Instead, the movie portrayed its main character, Sierra Burgess as a vindictive and manipulative loner whose only purpose in life is to win the heart of a boy. Sierra is the basic stereotype for this sort of character. She has good grades, is in band, has one friend, who is just as nerdy as her, and she is bullied for every step she takes. She is even played by a plus sized actress, which is a step up for the teen film industry. When we first meet Sierra, she is going through what most high school seniors go through, college stress. Her counselor asks her the question of “What is Sierra Burgess?” but Sierra has no answer, causing her to stress. Her counselor suggests she takes up tutoring, so that her applications stand out. That’s when she decided to put her number around the school. When the head mean girl of the school, Veronica, decides to give Sierra’s number to a cute guy as a joke because he has “loser friends,” things start to take off. Sierra gets a mystery text, It happens to be Jamey, the cute boy. Sierra has no idea why or how this boy has her number but she plays along, hoping that it isn’t all too good to be true.
When Jamey calls her Veronica it is all clear and Sierra is crushed. She decides to play along anyway. The movie tries to justify Veronica’s horrific bullying with the fact that her mom is plus sized and her dad left. The mom is just a coverup for trying to be a ‘diverse’ movie and giving a mean spirited girl a scapegoat. The main problem I have with this movie is that it glorifies the act of catfishing. Catfishing is pretending to be someone else, and engaging in a fantasy that could eventually lead to emotional harm for both involved. Sierra is catfishing Jamey into believing that she is Veronica, when in fact she is not. Jamey eventually asks “Veronica” to FaceTime and (Sierra being an idiot) says yes. Coincidentally, the real Veronica ends up needing a tutor and Sierra offers to help her in exchange for a favor. Her plan is to FaceTime Jamey with Veronica’s face, but with Sierra’s voice in the background. When Sierra says something, Veronica acts like it is lagging. The FaceTime ends up being a success, and the catfishing continues. Overall, this movie was trying to send a major message to teenagers that you don’t have to be the most beautiful, skinny, or the most popular to win the favor of people, but it ended up being like every other Netflix original, with the same cast, bad acting, and the glorification of nasty internet ways.
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Kneeling For Nothing

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I do not support making Colin Kaepernick the face of the Nike campaign. I personally believe that it is disrespectful and a spit in the face to the men and women that serve and have served our great country under the flag and National Anthem. However, I don’t believe that Kaepernick intended for it to be viewed as disrespectful. I think that he just wanted to do something to get the NFL talking about him again because he is not a very good quarterback and he was probably going to get traded. No matter the intended outcome of his actions I do realize that he was just exercising his right to protest, I just don’t agree with the way he went about it. I am truly glad that he used his “celebrity” status to stand up for something that he believes in.
Honestly though, I don’t think that he is the right person to speak for the “oppressed black people and people of color” since he grew up in a white household and he did make it into the NFL so he wasn’t too oppressed if you ask me. Also, for Nike to name him as the face of their ad under the phrase “stand up for what you believe in, even if it means losing everything” is ironic. He DID NOT lose everything! He simply lost one overpaid job for another. That is not everything when there are people dodging bullets on a war front, hiding from the government in order to go to school, and when many people don’t have houses, food, or drinkable water. Kaepernick used his status and the issues of the world to benefit himself and Nike helped him to do so when they endorsed him.
Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service
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The Young Adult Novel Apocalypse: Authors Exploit the Genre

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J.K. Rowling spurred the explosion of today’s young adult genre back in the late 90s with the release of the first Harry Potter book.

       She had to go to several different publishers —at least 12, according to The Guardian—because her story was repeatedly rejected.

   And it wasn’t because the publishers didn’t like the story. They were worried that the books would never sell, says the fandom-journalist site Hypable.

   Christopher Little, Rowling’s first agent, told The Guardian that publishers feared nobody would read Harry Potter because, they reasoned, it wasn’t relatable to an adult audience.

   Before Rowling, there wasn’t much of a Young Adult genre, and this is likely due to the same reasons why Rowling had to face so much rejection.  No company saw any profit in publishing a book that catered to such a small demographic of 12-18 year-olds.

   Although I’m glad that Rowling had determination to put what would become one of the most beloved book series of all time on bookshelves, it’s understandable that these publishers didn’t want to take the risk.

   Teens didn’t have their own genre before the last couple decades.  Books were published for children, and books were published for adults.  Before the late 90s, students read classics like Gatsby and Catcher in English classes, and any leisure reading was made for the grownup audience.

   Books like Gary Paulson’s Hatchet or like Hinton’s The Outsiders (she was 17 when her book was published, funny that) are some of the earliest examples of YA fiction, but few others wanted to write fiction for specifically young people because there was no demand for it.

   Rowling set the precedent for  young adult literature by showing everyone how much money you can make by creating something that teenagers want to read.

   Ever since Rowling’s immense success, there was an outbreak of young adult books.  Authors like John Green, David Levithan, Rick Riordan and Veronica Roth—all names you can find on our library’s shelves—have emerged as some of this generation’s most successful writers.

    YA literature has become the bottom of the barrel for books; publishers are using the genre as  loophole for authors who aren’t good at writing to get something published.

   Recycled plot lines, laughably bad dialogue and character arcs as flat as old Pepsi are only some of the many crimes against literature that run rampant throughout these god-awful books.

Joyce Carol Oates, American author with hundreds of published novels, short stories, poems and essays, said in an interview with the Michigan Quarterly Review that young adult writing takes a special kind of skill.

“[My editor] Tara encouraged me to write a young adult novel, which, for me, became an experiment in genre: how to present a narrative in the most succinct and dramatic way, relying mostly upon dialogue, a minimum of interior narration, virtually no description, exposition, or background. In adult fiction, the act of describing, for instance, a high school cafeteria could be a tour de force of sharp, sensory writing, but a young adult editor will simply cross out such a description with the gentle admonition: ‘Teenagers know what a high school cafeteria is, you don’t have to tell them.”’

   Oates may be right that good Young Adult fiction is dramatic and succinct, but much of the young adult books published these days aren’t on par with the leading authors of our generation.

   Rowling’s use of installments was artful, masterful and added to a gripping plot.  C.S. Lewis and George R.R. Martin have also used installments tastefully.  But  the rise (and plague) of series has become just another way to copycat Rowling’s successes.  It’s become less about writing impactful and thoughtful literature and more about making up new ways to keep making money.        One of my biggest problems with this genre is that it is insulting to our intelligence.  YA authors have this nasty habit of censoring themselves all the time.

   Do these authors think we don’t know what sex is?  Do they think that they are doing us some great service by only alluding to all the dirty things that teenagers do?  Young adult books should be as honest and real as the lives of those reading them.

   The Young Adult genre has become an outlet for middle-aged writers to reminisce about their high school experience.  While this style may be suitable for memoir writing, it’s not entertaining when placed in a modern setting with fictional characters in a slice of life plot line.

   Forty-year-olds do not know what the current high school scene is; they like to impress their ideas on what they think high school is like on their story and pass it off as real.

   Oates was right when she said that high-schoolers know what a cafeteria looks like.   There’s a special shared experience between students.  It’s a mutual language that we all know, and authors are making it all too obvious that they don’t speak the tongue.

  What are teenagers all about?  Their phones!  Let’s write all of our stories with a heavy reliance on texting and email in order to dig ourselves an even deeper grave.  Books that use threads as a means of carrying a plot makes a story boring as hell.  If i wntd 2 read txt lk ths (which is NOT how teenagers text, John!) id skrrt skrrt rite on ovr 2 twitter lol.

   This plot device-y way to make characters seem more hip and trendy falls short nearly every time and leaves readers bored, confused and a little uncomfortable.  This heavy reliance on technology in order to make a book seem more modern is a glaringly obvious crutch for someone lacking talent in writing dialogue.

   Our great-grandchildren will still be reading Mark Twain and Mary Shelley when they’re in school. Cassandra Clare who? Stephen Chbosky what?  Young adult books exist only in the present and have no literary merit to keep them relevant in the future.

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Are Chromebooks useful?

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SPS has introduced Chromebooks to their curriculum for all students to use this year. This gives every student the opportunity to have Internet access on a computer and can use Google Docs to store and save all their work. This has been a debate all school year, in which some people enjoy them while others don’t. I asked a few people what they thought about the Chromebooks. “They are useful resources, but they are not needed very often.” Senior Ian Martus said. They have their uses for the classroom but can take away from the learning experience by distracting students with the gaming capabilities and being able to browse the internet. The Chromebooks are not a favorite among people, but they get the job done. They will be in the school’s curriculum for the foreseeable future.

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Immigrants Know More

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 Being an immigrant myself, coming to America was very difficult I had to learn a new language and about how the government runs. So my main point is why do I have to learn more about their country than they do.

  Like how does that make sense, to add onto that the process of becoming a citizen is a long and gruelling process.

   In order to be eligible to apply to become a citizen, first off you need to be eighteen, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, resident and physically present in the United States for at least five years at a time of application, and must be of good moral character.

  I get the other requirements to apply to be a citizen, how can you classify a person as a good moral citizen; think about it how is the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS) suppose to tell a immigrant is a good person.

  “One of the general requirements for naturalization is good moral character (GMC). GMC means character which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides. [1]In general, an applicant must show that he or she has been and continues to be a person of GMC during the statutory period prior to filing and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance,” according to the USCIS.

   But I’m not the only one that understands this many other students know how hard the process of becoming a citizen.

  “Yeah I remember when I first got my citizenship, it took me almost two years before I finally got it, when they told me I was finally a citizen of America all the hard work was well worth it,” said Junior at Evangel Patrick Puletusie

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What We’re Thinking of Fergie’s Not-So National Anthem Rendition

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Photo by Allen Berezvosky

Photo by Allen Berezvosky

Photo by Allen Berezvosky

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   She’s Fergalicious… well maybe not so much right now. If you, like many others saw Fergie’s National Anthem performance before the NBA All-Star game, then you’re probably just as confused. Maybe you’re wondering the same thing I am, who in the world told her they liked that and  it was okay to do on national television?

  On February 18, some of the best basketball players teamed up to play and win, proving who is better for the year. Millions watched from all around, and unfortunately for Fergie, the first 10 minutes were re-watched more than anything else that night.

  Fergie’s rendition started off slow, and right off the bat no one knew where she was taking us. High, low, and shaky; all notes she was doing her best to hit but we’re definitely not agreeing with her. It was like a car crash that was so bad you couldn’t help but watch to see how it ended.

  It was all anyone could do to not laugh at her, but that’s probably not too polite of a thing to do on TV. As players and celebrities panned on and off the camera, the world got to catch a glimpse of just how hard it is not to laugh when someone is making a fool of themselves. As the song came to an end, Fergie threw her hands in the air and said, “let’s play ball,” finishing the performance with proudness on her face.

   Right away Fergie became all anyone could talk about; tweets, remixes, and reactions posted every minute. It was something the world could hide from Fergie either, obviously she was going find out what everyone thought of her performance.

   “I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA,” Fergie went on to say, “I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best,” Fergie said.

   An apology and a week later, everyone has began to leave Fergie alone. Will we ever know who told her to do that on national television with a straight face? No, but I say we pass the blame and humiliation to that person.

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High School Girls Perpetuate the Lesbian Trend

High-Schoolers+across+the+nation+are+trying+the+gay+lifestyle+on+for+size.++It%27s+not+empowering+or+advocating+for+equality%2C+though.++It%27s+just+plain+wrong.
High-Schoolers across the nation are trying the gay lifestyle on for size.  It's not empowering or advocating for equality, though.  It's just plain wrong.

High-Schoolers across the nation are trying the gay lifestyle on for size. It's not empowering or advocating for equality, though. It's just plain wrong.

High-Schoolers across the nation are trying the gay lifestyle on for size. It's not empowering or advocating for equality, though. It's just plain wrong.

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  There are three reasons why a high school girl might gush about her new girlfriend.

  The first reason is that she’s  just like the rest of us: confused, blindly stumbling about, dating to pass the time or dating to find The One. She’s trying to figure herself out, so she’s showing off a new boyfriend or girlfriend on Instagram every few weeks to cover up the fact that she’s lost in the perplexity of growing up.

  The second reason is that she feels free to express her sexuality.  She feels safe in an environment that supports her, and she’s able to live as a homo/bi/poly/pan-sexual woman because she is brave enough to be herself in a world that sometimes encourages her not to.

  The third reason that  high school girls might feel compelled to date each other is because of the Lesbian Trend.

  Many people may consider Lesbians to be trendy because there are a lot more of them than there used to be, especially in the high school setting.

  Hello, it’s me, the token Lesbian, here again to complain about Lesbian things.

      While I typically joke that girls wearing those plaid lumberjack shirts are “appropriating lesbian culture,” I can’t help but wonder what else straight people are are stealing from us.  And then I realized that, by dating girls themselves, straight girls–heterosexual girls, that is–are taking away the core of what it means to be gay.

  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wonderful that more people are coming out.  We’re fortunate to live in an period where it is becoming more safe and more acceptable for gay people to be themselves.

  But straight people don’t get to have this. Taking away the root of what homosexuality is by exploiting it the worst type of oppression.  Pretending to be gay or being gay just for fun is just another form of ostracizing the LGBT+ community.  Get your yucky little hetero fingers off of things that don’t belong to you.

  My theory for the increasing lesbian crowd may be caused in part by celebrities like bisexual actress Bella Thorne and lesbian actress Ellen Page who serve as  role models for young girls worldwide.  And imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so teens who want to be more like their famous idols may take up homosexuality as a hobby.

  What these girls fail to understand is that homosexuality belongs to homosexuals and nobody else.  Same-sex dating is a characteristic reserved only for people in the LGBT+ community and those searching for their identity, not for heterosexuals.  This isn’t to say that heterosexuality is bad; just stay in your lane, girls.

  To be clear, the problem does not lie in those who are looking to find themselves.  Nobody expects you to know your sexuality, and actively dating multiple genders does not cause anybody any harm.  Bisexual people (those attracted to their own gender as well as another gender) aren’t the problem, either.

  The center of this problem lies in decidedly heterosexual girls using other girls as an excuse to consider themselves a minority.

 Being a minority is cool somehow for someone who has never been in a minority group.  Because a privileged person will never have to suffer the true consequences of being a minority, they might think it’s fun to dabble in a world that is foreign to them.  

  The Lesbian trend is merely a reason for girl to go looking for a reason to be oppressed.  But because they are not truly in the LGBT+ community, there is no way they will ever suffer any injustice.

  High school girls may decide to “go gay” because they’re fed up with teenage boys, because the new endeavor seems fun and exciting or because the Internet glorifies this newly-blown-up “heteroflexible” term, which people use to describe themselves as mostly straight and sometimes gay.

  Heteroflexibility, then, is essentially heterosexuality but only when it’s fun not to be.  This is another example of dabbling in the culture of the oppressed and never needing to suffer any of the consequences. It’s a cop-out.  It’s unfair.  And it’s further oppressing the groups of people who actually identify as gay, bisexual, transgender, and others.

  Dating for love versus dating for the attention has been a problem for young people for as long as dating has been popular.  We need to tell the difference between the two and put a halt to the latter.

 So, girls:  If your girlfriend is just another accessory to your outfit, it’s time to stop.  If your girlfriend is truly someone you love, and you can see yourself building a future with her, then I wish you the best of luck.

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Black Panther Review

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The Black Panther starts after the death of T’Challa’s, the main characters, father now he has to become the new black panther and new ruler of Wakanda.

  But when a foe challenges his right as the king and black panther, he is caught up in conflict that will put not just his title as black panther at risk but the fate of the people of Wakanda as well.

  I think this has been one of the best superhero movies  since the first Captain America movie.

 The Black Panther has been labeled by Rotten Tomatoes as  “the best movie of all time,” also it smashed the box office record with over 218 million dollars on opening night.

  So I recommend this breathtaking movie to anyone, but better get to the theaters quickly, because tickets are selling fast.

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Women Do Not Have a Right to Their Bodies

There+are+431+men+in+Congress+deciding+what+women+can+and+cannot+do+with+their+body.%0ARoe+vs.+Wade+protects+a+woman%27s+right+to+make+decisions+about+her+body%2C+but+our+voice+is+getting+lost+in+the+wind.+
There are 431 men in Congress deciding what women can and cannot do with their body.
Roe vs. Wade protects a woman's right to make decisions about her body, but our voice is getting lost in the wind.

There are 431 men in Congress deciding what women can and cannot do with their body. Roe vs. Wade protects a woman's right to make decisions about her body, but our voice is getting lost in the wind.

Photo by: Clip Art

Photo by: Clip Art

There are 431 men in Congress deciding what women can and cannot do with their body. Roe vs. Wade protects a woman's right to make decisions about her body, but our voice is getting lost in the wind.

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The room contained all white men and one Indian-American woman.

“…we as women have the right to determine how we are going to proceed with choices we make about our own bodies…” Representative of Washington’s 7th District, Pramila Jayapal explained to fellow lawmakers.

She sat  beside male lawmakers discussing a woman’s right to her body in the Judiciary Committee.

The lack of representation for women in the government reduce the choices women have about their body and health care. The fact that Jayapal was the only female lawmaker in the discussion of the anti-abortion HR bill 490 is just one example.

“This bill amends the federal criminal code to make it a crime for a physician to  knowingly perform an abortion: (1) without determining whether the fetus has a detectable heartbeat, (2) without informing the mother of the results, or (3) after determining that the fetus has a heartbeat.,” according to congress.gov.

Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. Being pro-choice means to advocate for women to be allowed the freedom to make choices about their own bodies. It’s 2018, and we live in one of the most sophisticated societies on earth, yet over 50% of the population in the U.S. does not have the right to their own body.

Women do not have a national right to birth control, other contraceptives, or even the choice to have a child. Since the president’s inauguration, birth control even with insurance is not free. Women have to pay to not have a child, and are then shamed when an unwanted pregnancy occurs. In this society, as women, we are considered less of a person.

Women are not treated equally in many cultures, including in American culture. We should not be content with being less than equal, treated like an object and being told what to do with our own bodies by a group of rich white men thousands of miles away – this is not okay.

The solution is not to avoid the touchy subjects. It is to recognize that women are not equal, but should be, and to actually begin to act like they are. The most recent, groundbreaking movement is #MeToo, and it has propelled the women’s rights movement closer to the goal of equality. Women’s involvement in the government had an enormous impact on Olympic gymnast U.S. team doctor, Larry Nassar’s criminal trial – an integral part of the #MeToo movement. Eaton County Circuit Court Judge Janice Cunningham helped give the victims of Nassar the power he took away from them.

“Ladies and gentlemen: this now ends the criminal legal proceedings involving Larry Nassar. I realize that it does not end the emotional physical suffering he has caused,” she said.

The judge empathized with the victims. Which itself is powerful because of the typical notion of disbelief when it comes to sexual assault, as well as the fact that she was ridiculed for her empathy.

“I am in awe of each of you, and I appreciate your efforts to provide me with your statements, flying in from Europe, all over the country, submitting videos, taking time off work, missing classes. You basically put your lives on hold. You will always be in my thoughts and prayers. That is all,” Cunningham said.

The next step for the women’s rights movement is fighting for our voice in government, as well as in society. Catalyst.org is a non-profit that works with the most powerful CEOs and innovative companies to build better workplaces for women.According to their website, 80.6% of Congress are male. There are 104 women in Congress out of 535 total members. These lawmakers are supposed to represent the people, but how can women’s rights be advocated for if there is not enough representation for them?

There are 431 men deciding what women can and cannot do with their bodies.

The Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade protects a woman’s right to make decisions about her body, but our voice is getting lost in the wind. New bills are being proposed that take away that right. If there are not enough advocates for our rights, then soon we won’t have many left, including the right to our body.

For example, in January the Senate voted against a 20-week abortion ban. If the bill had passed, abortions after 20 weeks in the pregnancy would be illegal. Because most abortions occur before 20 weeks, the bill is more about the government controlling the choice a woman has the right to make.  The Senate voted against the bill 51-46. Eleven Democratic Senate women face re-election this year. That is half of the entire population of women in the Senate. The more women that are in Congress, the more accurate representation will be for women. The more women in the judicial branch and in law enforcement, the more of a voice women have in pursuing taboo topics such as rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence.

On the night walks from my place of employment to my car, my car key is wedged between my fingers just in case. I would rather be paranoid than unprotected.

Because one out of every six women are victims of sexual assault in United States., According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). Because 82% of all underage victims are girls. Because 90% of adult victims are women.

A woman’s right to her own body is so demeaned that people violate this right every 98 seconds according to RAINN.

Out of every 1,000 rapes, 6 perpetrators will be convicted. Since 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women have been victims of rape.

“One victim made the observation that often one victim is seen as a tragedy, but 100 victims are seen as a statistic…The ramifications of each person that you meet, and each person’s thoughts and feelings, are important. Each voice and each story does make a difference,” Judge Cunningham stated in the Nassar case.

A predigest doctor molested over 256 women. There were 11,766 women murdered by men in domestic violence situations from 2001 to 2012. More women were murdered during that span of time than the amount of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to an article from the Huffington Post.

Three women are murdered on average everyday in the United States.  Over 38 million women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. Women do not have a right to their own bodies.

I remember the first time my mother told me the truth about my parents marriage. His hands went around her neck during an argument. He was mad because she was late for dinner.

Not all men are abusive. Not all men are sexual predators. But also, not all men empathize with what women live and go through. Not all women do either. Society’s attitude towards these subjects are changing, and therefore the government’s will too.  Women are realizing that we’re all in this together, whether we like it or not, so we might as well the best of it.

 

My mother told me that her love for me gave her the strength to leave her marriage. She didn’t want her daughter growing up to think she is less of a person or deserved to be treated the way she was treated.

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Thank You, Fortnite

These+Fortnite+characters+will+appear+on+your+screen+as+the+game+loads.+Photo+Courtesy+of+Tribune+News+Service.+
These Fortnite characters will appear on your screen as the game loads. Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service.

These Fortnite characters will appear on your screen as the game loads. Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service.

These Fortnite characters will appear on your screen as the game loads. Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service.

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On July 25th, 2017, the gaming world changed forever. Epic Games released  Fortnite, a free co-op survival video game for Xbox One, Playstation 4, Mac and Microsoft Windows. This game has been the most popular game this year, as 45 million users played at least once.

                                                                        Fortnite is the most exciting  game to play since Modern Warfare 2 came out in 2009. No game is close to how addicting and fun Fortnite is. The Battle Royal section of the game is you vs 99 other people. Last one  standing wins. Battle Royale takes skill, determination and a lot of luck. You can play by yourself (solo), with one other person (duo) or with 3 others (squad).

Solo takes the most skill because its just you and  yourself. No one can save you, and no one can help you.  You’re either good at solo or you’re not, there is no inbetween. Duo is a different story, having another person by your side takes the stress of you and you can be a lot more risky and push more often while solo takes strategy on when to attack and when hold back. Squad is the most chaotic and takes tons of communication with your teammates.   Taking down 4 people is challenging by itself, but with communication and a little bit of luck you can take down a squad and you might find yourself with a win.

  When you are so close to winning you can smell it, every move counts. Trying to counter the oposing player and finally get your first win, is a stressful process. Once you see Victory Royale pop up on your TV, a rush of excitment and happiness enters your body.

As long as this game is around, the only thing I can say is: Thank You, Fortnite.

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A To Z Conspiracy: Area 51

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Whats really going on behind the closed gates of Area 51?

By ZACH ARNOLD AND AARON SAWCHAK

Wikimedia commons

The U.S we’re  conducting low flying planes for recon missions about one hundred and fifty six miles from Las Vegas in Nevada in the early 1950’s. The constant  fear of being spotted and shot down led President Eisenhower to authorize the development of a top secret high altitude recon aircraft project called the U-2. This required a remote area not visible by spies or civilians. Area 51 was perfect for this.

  The sheehan family owned a groom mine property overlooking the secret base Area 51. The family no longer owns the title to the property that the family owned for one hundred and thirty years. The Federal government took the deed through eminent domain after offering the Sheehan family $333,000 which they thought was extremely low. The family has still not been paid for the land but are very prepared to fight in a jury trial.. Sheehan told Fox News that Air Force officials started showing up unannounced on the property in the early 1940s and 1950s to intimidate his grandparents. His family made complaints to the Air Force but nothing ever happened. After the Air Force confiscated the property on September 16, 2015, the family had three experts appraise the property. Each appraiser noticed its unique value and came to a conclusion that the land was worth 44 million to 116 million dollars.

  In contrast to commercial airliners, which can fly at altitudes of around 30,000 feet, U-2 planes could reach heights of 60,000 feet. This led to the misconception that U-2’s were extraterrestrial flying objects. With Air force officials knowing these  sightings were actually U-2 tests they decided to cover this up by saying that these sightings were “natural phenomena” and “high altitude weather research planes”. The CIA officially acknowledged the existence and location of this base in 2013. In July 1947, the military sensationally announced in a press meeting that they had found the remains of a crashed flying saucer in the desert. The following day they retracted their statement saying that it was a U.S air force air balloon. Sheriff Jess Slaughter and Deputy Sheriff Charles Fogus were on duty the night of the incident.

  In the interview with Sheriff Fogus he claimed that  he saw a flying object smash into the side of a river bed. The object was “100 feet” across. “When we got there the land was covered with soldiers and they were hauling a big creature,I saw the legs and feet on some of them and they looked like our feet.

  After the Soviets took people to the moon the USA felt pressured to do the same. Not having the technology that the USSR had, the Americans were desperate to get someone to the moon. Area 51 was the best place they could find to fake the moon landing. When Neil Armstrong planted the American Flag  in the dirt, the flag started to wave like there was a breeze.

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My Voice Matters, Too.

How Tinker v. Des Moines saved student journalism, how Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier wrongfully ruined it & and why New Voices legislation should be enacted to save it once again.

It+is+neither+my+administrators%27+nor+my+legislators%27+duty+or+right+to+determine+which+parts+of+the+first+amendment+do+or+do+not+apply+to+me.+Photo+by+Lilli+Flanigan.
It is neither my administrators' nor my legislators' duty or right to determine which parts of the first amendment do or do not apply to me. Photo by Lilli Flanigan.

It is neither my administrators' nor my legislators' duty or right to determine which parts of the first amendment do or do not apply to me. Photo by Lilli Flanigan.

It is neither my administrators' nor my legislators' duty or right to determine which parts of the first amendment do or do not apply to me. Photo by Lilli Flanigan.

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TINKER V. DES MOINES (1969)

   Our story starts in the height of the Vietnam War, with a middle school girl by the name of Mary Beth Tinker and her older brother John Tinker. The siblings are famous for  protesting what they perceived as the war’s injustices by donning black armbands to wear to their Des Moines, Iowa public schools.

   The Tinkers’ school administrators, to say the least, were not pleased with their display of activism. In fact, a new policy was quickly adopted by Des Moines district to stop students from participating in such protests. The policy stated that students who refused to comply with their new “no-armband” policy would be subject to suspension if they didn’t remove the bands.

    As this was a blatant disregard for students’ first amendment rights  throughout the district in a public school, John and Mary Beth persisted with their protest. They were suspended in December 1965 and returned the following January, but not before their parents filed a lawsuit against the school in U.S. District Court for infringing upon the Tinker siblings’ first amendment right to freedom of expression. This sparked the infamous Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) Supreme Court case. While the District Court ruled in favor of the Des Moines Public School District, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Tinker family when they appealed.

   “It can hardly be argued that either the students or the teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” Justice Abe Fortas said during the 1969 Supreme Court case, four years after the original suspension.

   To make a long story short, hurrah! Public school students, including student journalists, retain their first amendment rights -including that of the press- inside the schoolhouse gates. This set the Tinker Standard into action in public schools, which was meant to protect any and all forms of student expression, so long as it was not a disruption of the educational process. While the Tinker Standard did not specifically address student press, this right is implied under “first amendment.”

   Now if only it were really that simple.

HAZELWOOD V. KUHLMEIER (1988)

   The 1969 Tinker ruling will bring us into another important case for students and student journalists in America: Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988). In the 1980’s at a St. Louis area public high school, Cathy Kuhlmeier, was a student at Hazelwood East. She, along with other student journalists, on her Spectrum newspaper staff, planned to publish two in depth news pieces on teen pregnancy. In the eleventh hour, Hazelwood East’s principal pulled the stories from the publication just before being sent to print, deeming them inappropriate for a high school audience. He also argued that the identities of pregnant students in the stories were not hidden well enough, and that the father of a divorced teen interviewed in the story should’ve been able to comment.

   And I happen to agree with this statement. The stories were prime examples of sloppy, and, frankly, poor journalism. Identities of the students in question were not properly disguised, and the writing lacked subjectivity when certain people in the story appeared to be displayed in a negative light. But that is not what is up for discussion. What we’re talking about is censorship of student press in a public school: a blatant disregard for the 1969 Tinker ruling.

  Because of the wrongful censorship, Cathy Kuhlmeier’s suing of Hazelwood East High School for infringing upon rights protected by Tinker v. Des Moines. After a flip-flop of rulings between the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the school. The ruling stated that unless a publication identifies as an open or public forum (like Kickapoo High Quarterly), school-sponsored content can be censored or edited by administrators to prevent inappropriate material from being disseminated to the student body. This means that not only student publications, but also choir concerts, speech and debate pieces, theatre performances, or any other example of school-sponsored, student-produced content are subject to administrative censorship.

WHAT NOW?

What about the Tinkers? What about Abe Fortas? I thought that I didn’t shed my first amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate, but it appears that I do shed one: my constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of the press. But it is neither my administrators’ nor my legislators’ duty or right to determine which parts of the first amendment do not apply to me.

   Luckily, I’m not alone in these opinions. In an effort to protect students from administrative censorship under Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, the Student Press Law Center, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. that seeks to protect and strengthen the rights of student journalists, started a project now wildly popular among American student journalists: New Voices. The website for New Voices defines itself as “a student-powered grassroots movement to give young people the legally protected right to gather information and share ideas about issues of public concern.” New Voices works with advocates for journalism, law and civics in order to help student voices avoid stifling by school administration.

   As of 2017, thirteen states have passed laws, codes or advisories into place to protect the rights of student journalists that the Hazelwood decision formerly denied them. Missouri is not one of these states.

   The state of Kansas though, is one of the thirteen states to have one of these laws in place. The Kansas Student Publications Act allows administrators to review content prior to publication, but emphasizes that the students -not a district, board member or employee thereof- are responsible for determining their own content as well as any civil or criminal action that may come about as a result.

   Julia Howell, Editor in Chief of Topeka High School World Newspaper and its website the Topeka High School Tower in Topeka, Kansas reflected on the benefits her publications have seen thanks to the Kansas Student Publications Act.

   “We have been able to write stories that have caused a lot of backlash…but not all the backlash was bad,” Howell said. “All of these stories were things that needed to be talked about.”

   She discussed some of the controversial topics that the law has allowed them to publish, and how how that has benefited her particularly diverse high school and its publications.

   “Because of this act, we are able to create a discussion about things like drug abuse, controversial forms of protest, tense political events, etc. We have such a diverse school and community that limiting anything we say would be crazy and very uninformative,” Howell said.

NEW VOICES OF MISSOURI  

The Student Press Law Center reports that about twenty states are currently running New Voices campaigns to help protect the rights of student journalists, and Missouri is one of them. The Show-Me state, home of the Hazelwood trial, has no legislation preventing administrative censorship for Missouri student journalists or their advisers.

  In layman’s terms, the results of my extensive research, diligent interviews and comprehensive reporting can be completely scrapped simply because I was reporting a truth that a school suthority didn’t think should be publicized. In the real world, we’d call this fascism. But for whatever reason, it’s okay to suppress my rights to freedom of the press when I’m a high school student.

  In January 2016, Representative Elijah Haahr (R) introduced the Walter Cronkite New Voices Act to the Missouri General Assembly. The bill would keep school administrators or other officials from censoring student media, so long as the media is not libelous or slanderous (false and defamatory statements), that do not invade privacy, violate any law or cause a disruption at school.

  “Missouri is the home of one of the world’s most famous and iconic journalists in Walter Cronkite, but also the home of the Hazelwood decision that saw the rights of student journalists suppressed,” Haahr said. “My hope is that we can reestablish Missouri as a place that supports the freedom of the press, and protects the rights of high school and college student journalists.”

  In 2016, the Walter Cronkite New Voices Act passed with flying colors in the Missouri House of Representatives, and received “favorable reception” in the Senate Education Committee. Unfortunately though, the bill never reached a Senate floor vote in 2016 and died on the calendar, as many bills do. This year, the bill came to this disappointing fate once again.

  With Representative Haahr’s recent election as Missouri Speaker of the House, the bill has since been taken over by Representative Kevin Corlew.

WHY NEW VOICES SHOULD MATTER TO YOU

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier incites the kind of censorship that is born of fear and a lack of trust in student journalists. Our administrators and our legislators  alike must begin to see our journalism classrooms for what they are: newsrooms. Newsrooms full of journalists who simply want to report the truth and nothing but it, but often cannot because no law exists to protect them from wrongful censorship.

  While I, a student journalist, promote such legislation for my own benefit, you, the readers, play a huge role in my argument as well. You deserve to see the cold, hard truth every time you open an issue  of this magazine, or any other publication for that matter. You deserve to hear about controversial topics like sexual assault or the legalization of marijuana, because if one thing is for certain, it’s this: these things are happening. Some schools are crawling with mold. Some students are living on the streets. People are dying of heroin overdoses. Children are deliberately killing themselves, and people are walking into schools with firearms to kill children.

   The idea that you, as a high school student, can’t handle controversy like this is not only absurd; it’s insulting. In preserving Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier and everything it means, you are being deprived of this truth and being viewed as a child that must be shielded from all bad things.

  If you would like to learn more about the New Voices movement in Missouri and in the United States as a whole, be sure to visit NewVoicesUS.com or send an email to newvoicesmo@gmail.com. You can also contact Rep. Corlew at Kevin.Corlew@house.mo.gov to voice your concern; my voice matters, and so does yours.

  In the words of American hero Walter Cronkite, “that’s the way it is.”

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Christmas Cookies

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 As thanksgiving comes to an end family and friends start to think about getting ready for christmas one of the most celebrated american holidays. Making christmas foods and goodies is one amazing way to have some fun in the kitchen around the holidays.

Making sugar cookies: ingredients- 2 ¾ cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon baking powder, 1 cup of butter-softened, 1 ½ cups white sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Directions: 1) preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. 2) In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets. 3) Bake eight to ten minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

  How to make royal icing; Ingredients- three tablespoons of meringue powder, six tablespoons of water, and four cups of sifted confectioners sugar. Next you are going to beat all ingredients together on low for seven to ten minutes or until icing forms peaks. Keep icing covered with a wet kitchen towel to keep icing from drying out.

  After making these cookies and adding the royal icing i decided to try them and give them a rate from one to ten. I give these cookies a solid eight because they are very good and i couldn’t stop at just one cookie. The icing really added a perfect flavor to the sugar cookie.

Source for recipe: allrecipes.com

 

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Team Sports Quiz Changes

Students+working+hard+on+their+quiz.+Photo+courtesy+of+Tribune+News+Service.+
Students working hard on their quiz. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service.

Students working hard on their quiz. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service.

Students working hard on their quiz. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service.

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The team sports curriculum has been changed starting this year. Instead of tests being on paper, they are now on Canvas for students to take before midnight on Thursday. There are pros and cons to this experiment and the change has some differing opinions on the subject.

The are some pros of the online quizzes. They don’t take out any class time to take the quiz. They are shorter than the paper quiz, and provide a good study guide. “This allows us to actually do more physical activity and less sitting around looking at papers.” Senior Zac Salyers said. There are more activities now because of the added class time.

There are cons to this movement as well. The activity can be confusing to some and there is not a teacher to help them through it. It can also be hard to find with all the canvas classes and tabs there are. “I sometimes forget to take the quizzes due to not going on canvas everyday. I will forget when I get home and be stuck with the zero.” Sophomore Aidan Bilbao said. These issues can cost students a good grade in the class.

The online quizzes have the right idea, but there needs to be a better format in place.

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New Year, New Me

I+procrasinated+taking+this+photo+until+the+day+before+it+was+due.+I+wanted+to+look+good+with+cute+clothes+and+makeup+on%2C+but+this+is+me+everyday%3A+no+makeup%2C+woke+up+five+minutes+before+I+had+to+leave%2C+wearing+the+shirt+I+slept+in.+To+publish+a+photo+I%E2%80%99m+not+confident+with+in+a+magazine+that+is+viewed+nationally%2C+it%E2%80%99s+a+step+I%E2%80%99m+proud+of+myself+for+taking.+
I procrasinated taking this photo until the day before it was due. I wanted to look good with cute clothes and makeup on, but this is me everyday: no makeup, woke up five minutes before I had to leave, wearing the shirt I slept in. To publish a photo I’m not confident with in a magazine that is viewed nationally, it’s a step I’m proud of myself for taking.

I procrasinated taking this photo until the day before it was due. I wanted to look good with cute clothes and makeup on, but this is me everyday: no makeup, woke up five minutes before I had to leave, wearing the shirt I slept in. To publish a photo I’m not confident with in a magazine that is viewed nationally, it’s a step I’m proud of myself for taking.

Photo by: Mario Hackney

Photo by: Mario Hackney

I procrasinated taking this photo until the day before it was due. I wanted to look good with cute clothes and makeup on, but this is me everyday: no makeup, woke up five minutes before I had to leave, wearing the shirt I slept in. To publish a photo I’m not confident with in a magazine that is viewed nationally, it’s a step I’m proud of myself for taking.

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The New York Times wrote an article about how to detect if you are beginning to burn out. If only I had read that article a year ago.

After a long, hard junior year I learned a lot about myself. At the time, it felt like I was never going to heal from the mistakes I had made, and over the summer a multitude of new experiences happened, and I learned that I didn’t like who I was pretending to be.

In English classes, teachers teach about how to create a good story. There’s a plot line, a subplot, the big event where life will never be the same afterwards, the climax, and resolution. If life were viewed as the kind of novel English teachers spend a month tearing apart, dissecting for analyzing, one of my life changing events occurred this summer. Then I realized how ashamed I was of the person I had developed into over the course of the past year.

Focusing on yourself is difficult, but it’s even more difficult with a constant flow of outside influences and distractions. After the “Big Life Changing Event,” I decided to cut off all the outside influences that I felt were only contributing negative factors to the person I had become.

I deleted everything. One after another, I left without saying a word to anyone. All the Snapchat streaks I had always been so worried about losing, didn’t seem to matter so much anymore. 356 days, 117 days, 40 days, the list goes on and within a few days, they were gone. No more Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – I even deleted the Tumblr I hadn’t used since Freshman year of high school.

Almost three weeks went by, and I was enjoying the isolation. Without the constant pressure of having the perfect Instagram aesthetic or retweeting the best dog photos on Twitter, I was free to focus on myself and really self reflect. It felt like I was in my own little reality, where all the mistakes I had made felt a million miles away and a lifetime ago.

Within that isolation period, I discovered who I was and who I wanted to be. While the rest of my peers were posting their senior photos and finding out what classes they had with their friends – all things I had been looking forward to over the summer – I was alone.

With being alone comes a peaceful period of self reflection and contemplation. Until reality hit me in the face and it was the night before the first day of my senior year. All of the sudden, everything I had been working on was going to have to be utilized consistently in an environment where I have struggled the most.

Slowly as I made progress on myself and towards my goals, I opened back up to the outside world awaiting on social media. It was a long process, taking months to add everything like Instagram and Snapchat back. Although the process isn’t over. I’m constantly working on being happy, approaching everything with empathy, and all of the other goals for I have for myself.

Having personal goals for developing as a person is overlooked by the goals people have for their career or college. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if all of the other, more materialistic goals are reached if you haven’t developed as a person and grown from the experiences you’ve had.

Being a kind and compassionate person, constantly growing and learning to be a better person is all that really matters. And sometimes, it’s easier to focus on doing that without a continuous flow of outside influences. Social media will still be there if someone decides to take a break for a little while.

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Jake Young, Ryan Hunter, Nathan Hardison, and Brenden Goodman Make, Model, Year 2002 Mercury Sable  Nickname Frankie  Where did you get it? “Ryan found the car on Facebook Marketplace for $450. It was in pretty bad shape: the passenger side mirror was dangling, the windshield was cracked, the passenger side window was glued in place...
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Senate Bill 98 Ignores Minority Rights

It+is+not+up+to+the+senators+to+determine+the+gender+identity+of+a+student.++Transgender+youth+should+not+be+forced+to+use+a+bathroom+that+does+not+match+their+gender.
It is not up to the senators to determine the gender identity of a student.  Transgender youth should not be forced to use a bathroom that does not match their gender.

It is not up to the senators to determine the gender identity of a student. Transgender youth should not be forced to use a bathroom that does not match their gender.

It is not up to the senators to determine the gender identity of a student. Transgender youth should not be forced to use a bathroom that does not match their gender.

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Springfield Public Schools’ policy on transgender bathroom use is the lack of policy.

 Republican State Senator Ed Emery plans to change that.  He oversees Senate Bill 98, commonly known as the “bathroom bill.”    

  The bill would make transgender students legally obligated to use the bathroom, locker room, shower room, etc. that matches with their anatomy, meaning their biological sex, and not their gender identity.

 It is already illegal to go into a restroom with ill intent, so proposing a bill that targets transgender youth exclusively is both discriminatory and superfluous.  

 The bill states, “in every public school setting in which a student may be in a state of undress in the presence of other students, school personnel shall provide separate, distinct areas designated for use by students based on their biological sex to ensure the personal privacy and safety of students.”

  Senator Emery claims that the safety and privacy of all students is his priority, but the details of the bill imply otherwise.

  Should SB 98 pass, transgender students will not be allowed to use the bathroom that they want to use.  For example, a trans boy—let’s call him James—is someone who presents, acts, lives, dresses, and IS male.  If the bill passes, James will not be able to use the men’s bathroom.  This is discriminatory and does not take into account James’ safety.

  Senator Emery thinks that transgender people should have to go somewhere else other than the bathroom with which they identify.  What Emery doesn’t realize—or rather, what he doesn’t care about—is that transgender students wouldn’t be able to use their biological bathroom, either.

  If James were to use the women’s restroom like Senator Emery wants, he would be very out of place because he doesn’t look feminine in any way.    He would be ostracized for simply walking into the restroom that matches his anatomy.

  The bill also states “A student who asserts to school officials that his or her gender is different from his or her biological sex may be provided with alternative restroom, locker room, or shower room accommodations.”

  The word to note is “may.”  Emery’s bill says that schools may provide alternative accommodations, but the bill in no way forces the schools to do so.  Transgender students won’t be able to use the bathroom that they want, they won’t be able to use the bathroom that matches their biology, and there’s no promising that they will have anywhere else to go.

   Alternative accommodations are not the solution to the bathroom debacle.  Building a third bathroom for all the “others” in schools provides a breeding ground for harassment and bullying.  It calls attention to students who use the third bathroom and jeopardizes their privacy.  

  The bathroom bill does not ensure safety for students.  It is already illegal to go into a restroom with ill intent, so proposing a bill that targets transgender youth exclusively is both discriminatory and superfluous. 

  The bill further states that “[a student can] be provided with alternative restroom, locker room, or shower room accommodations, provided that a parent or legal guardian . . . shall provide written consent to use of such alternative accommodations.”

  I do not need permission from my parents do use the bathroom!  It should not be up to parents to determine which bathroom best fits their child.  Senator Emery and those in favor of this bill  know that many transgender students have turmoil at home because they are not accepted by their families.  By requiring parental consent, the bill effectively denies transgender students of their rights.

  To recap:  James won’t be able to use the men’s restroom.  He will be bullied if he uses the women’s restroom.  And even if he obtains parental consent, he still will not be allowed into the restroom that he wants to use.  

  Bills and laws are written so that they can be enforced.  Authorities will not be able to control who goes into what bathroom. Transgender students deserve their rights, and SB 98 does not ensure the equality of everyone.

  The good news is that Missouri’s senate is not in session currently, so this bill will not go into effect any time soon.  Emery will have to re-introduce the bill in January of next year and start over if he wants his bill passed.

  To voice your concerns, visit senate.mo.gov and send Mr. Emery an e-mail.  Missouri State Senator Bob Dixon’s district includes Kickapoo, so you can also e-mail him so that he can vote with for best interests of the people he is representing.  

 

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Chromebook Pros and Cons

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SPS has introduced Chromebooks to their curriculum for all students to use this year. This gives every student the opportunity to have Internet access on a computer and can use Google Docs to store and save all their work.  This feature limits the use of paper and pencil from schools that are now becoming more centered on technology. There are positives and negatives to this new movement in curriculum.

Some pros are that you can do your work at school and it will be in the same place you finished it. There is also a lot more information you can figure out while using the Internet and find helpful resources. Quizlet and Kahoot are great resources that these Chromebooks can provide. These websites are great tools that can help you learn information and study it. There are students who do not have access to Internet at home so the Chromebooks gives them Internet access at school to be able to have similar opportunities as the other students. Lastly, you can see your grades online, so you can check and see how you are doing.

Some of the cons of the chromebook is the low battery life. It feels like every time I come home after using it during the school day my battery life is almost dead. Another thing holding it back is the blocked websites. I feel as if I sometimes can not do my best work due to the fact that I cannot get on the websites necessary to complete this. The Internet on the computer runs slowly which is not the worst thing, but is an annoyance.  The last con  is they will randomly crash for no reason.

Overall the Chromebooks are a good idea for students who don’t have computers or internet access. They are not the best computers in the world but they get the job done for all of the students in the district.

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As a Journalist: My Experience at the Freedom Forum’s Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference

All+51+Free+Spirits+gather+for+a+group+photo+on+top+of+the+Newseum+on+Pennsylvania+Avenue+in+Washington%2C+D.C.+All+photos+courtesy+of+Maria+Bryk%2FNewseum+Institute.
All 51 Free Spirits gather for a group photo on top of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. All photos courtesy of Maria Bryk/Newseum Institute.

All 51 Free Spirits gather for a group photo on top of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. All photos courtesy of Maria Bryk/Newseum Institute.

All 51 Free Spirits gather for a group photo on top of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. All photos courtesy of Maria Bryk/Newseum Institute.

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Journalism first became a part of my life in mid-August of my sophomore year. I walked into room 201 as a timid 15-year- old with none of my own opinions or ambitions, terrified of the adviser.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid that I had made a terrible mistake in taking Journalism I. Little did I know that this giant, intimidating classroom would lead me to the single most life- changing experience in my short 18 years.

New York Times White House photographer Doug Mills shows his camera equipment after showing the Free Spirits his Pulitzer Prize-winning photos, along with many others. Mills photographed President George W. Bush in Air Force One and at the Sarasota, Florida elementary school on September 11, 2001.

I still remember the day that my adviser, Leslie Orman, handed me a pamphlet for the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference. It was a great honor to be bestowed upon any student journalist. Only one student from each state and the District of Columbia would be selected, and would receive the all-expenses- paid trip to our nation’s capital for the conference, a $1000 college scholarship, 50 new friends from all around the nation and all the networking opportunities I could ask for.

Frank LoMonte, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center, speaks to the Free Spirit scholars about the rights of student journalists at a U.S. District Court in D.C. He also described how the 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court case is “cancer” to student journalism.

I obviously didn’t think that I would be selected. Out of hundreds of Missouri applicants, there was no way I could possibly be the most appealing to a Freedom Forum selection committee. The conference was for the best of the best student journalists- not for me. To my utter amazement and boost of confidence, I was selected to represent the state of Missouri at the conference from June 17- 22, 2017.

Associated Press News Automation Editor and 2006 Missouri Free Spirit Alum Justin Meyers (with other Free Spirit Alumni) speaks to the Free Spirit scholars at the Knight Conference center at the Newseum.

The Free Spirit program was founded in 1999 by Al Neuharth, creator of USA Today, the Newseum and Newseum Institute and Freedom Forum. Since then, Al Neuharth Free Spirit scholars have gone on to report for major publications like USA Today, The Associated Press, Politico and The Washington Post. Some of these scholars even came back to Washington as speakers at the conference.

During our week in D.C., I also got the opportunity to meet with other well-known media professionals like Pulitzer Prize winners Martin Baron, David Fahrenthold and Sara Ganim (three of my personal heroes when it comes to investigative journalism). We even got to meet two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Mills, a photographer who was with President George W. Bush on September 11, 2001.

Nevada representative Sarah Fernandez, Kentucky representative Fons Cervera and New Jersey representative Anna Favetta stand in awe inside the United States Capitol Building rotunda shortly after visiting the press galleries of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives chambers.

I can definitively say that learning from these media professionals and making connections with them changed my life for the better. As most people know, Journalism is a risky trade. Every time you put yourself out there, you’re putting everything on the line; sometimes it’s your career in general, sometimes it’s your reputation, and sometimes, it’s even your life. I didn’t think I really had what it takes to succeed in this trade. But thanks to the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference and everyone at the Freedom Forum and Newseum Institute, I now know with total confidence that I will survive in this industry.

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron speaks to the audience in the Newseum lobby after accepting the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media. Baron is most popularly known for his 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé about the Catholic Church child molestation/sexual assault scandal in the Boston Globe.

My week in D.C. this summer was the single most important and life-changing experience of my entire life. But if I hadn’t taken JI my sophomore year, I never would’ve been presented with this great opportunity and even greater honor. So my advice is to take chances. Apply for that Rotary scholarship. Look into GOCAPS or ask your teacher about that art institute. Don’t miss out on those opportunities because you were afraid. They could be terrifying, and you might fail. But you also just might find out what you were meant to do with your life through amazing, metamorphic experiences like mine.

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