Archive | December, 2012

The Dress Code at WGHS: A Loose Fit, Just Like Your Pants

13 Dec

By Alexis Gonzalez

Sophomore Andrew Specht testing the boundaries of the school dress code’s prohibitions against headphones and hats. Photograph by Abigail Rundle.

Sophomore Andrew Specht testing the boundaries of the school dress code’s prohibitions against headphones and hats. Photograph by Abigail Rundle.

Short shorts, revealing tops, mini-skirts, hats in class, and saggy pants… Are these in the school dress code?

If you walk down the halls of Watkins Glen High School you may think they are, but when you read the student hand book, you find out they are not. Based on how some students dress at WGHS, many students seem not to know the school rules.

“It is the principal’s responsibility to enforce the dress code in their respective buildings. Middle school children may need more guidance because they are young and they may not know what is appropriate yet” said Mr. Phillips the school superintendent.

Mr. Phillips also said that there are not many kids who dress so inappropriately that it is disturbing to the student body.

“High school students should be mature enough to know what they should and should not wear,” Phillips said. “ Ultimately it shows your maturity level and how you view yourself as a person.”

Mr. Phillips does not feel that this is a big problem in our school district and if it becomes a problem it will be addressed.

Mr. Warren, high school principal, said he doesn’t really think the dress code is a big problem in the school district. He doesn’t get many complaints from students but ironically they are the people who want the dress code to be enforced. Most of the complaints tend to come from the teachers who are stricter about the school rules. He doesn’t like to address the dress code unless it is disturbing to the students.

“I rely on the teachers to send students to his office when they are dressed inappropriately.” he said. “I tend to handle the students in private, so I don’t embarrass them.”

Mr. Warren feels that when a student’s appearance becomes a disturbance to those around them it is a problem and must be handled.

“I believe the way a student dresses shows their maturity level,” Mr. Warren said. “High school students should know what is appropriate. However, their opinions may vary.”

Middle school principal Mrs. Somerville said she needs to teach the younger students on appropriate ways to dress which will help them with other rules of the school.

“Middle school students need a lot of guidance with appropriate ways to dress” Mrs. Somerville said.

She also relies on her teachers to send students to her when they are in violation of the dress code. However, she does not hesitate to let students know in the hallways when they are not following school rules.

“The toughest time for problems like this is right after summer when the students have been dressing in whatever they like for months,” said Mrs. Somerville

Mrs. Somerville also said that once school is in session and the students know the rules will be enforced they will follow them and the dress code is not an issue.

Administrators and students thoughts vary on this particular subject.

Tamijah Lawton-Stone a student of the high school stated that the dress code is not enforced in school, but should be. She also said that many people dress inappropriately and this does not send a good message.

“When it comes to the dress code I think everyone should follow the rules, our student body has rules for a reason” said Tamijah.

She also said this attracts the wrong kind of people and gets the wrong kind of attention. This is also distracting and disrupts the learning environment.

Tamijah stated that “dressing in a slutty way shows disrespect for both themselves and their peers.”

Victoria Wixson said that the dress code should not be enforced in school. She feels that high school students are old enough to wear what they want and that they are educated enough to know what is appropriate.

“We need to be ready for the real world, because no-one is going to be telling us what we can and can’t wear,” said Victoria.

In summary, it is apparent that the Watkins Glen School District does have a dress code. This dress code is enforced on a daily basis by the administrators. However, each administrator has different ideas about how the dress code should be enforced. The student’s opinions vary as does their appearance in school. Some push the limits and some follow the rules, as it is with the rest of life. We all should familiarize ourselves with the student handbook we are given at the begging of the year and learn to follow the rules. I know this will not happen, but it is sought after, just like world peace!!!

A Portal to Learning: Physics with Video Games

13 Dec

By Ashley Gardner

A screenshot of a player solving a puzzle with the portal gun and a redirection cube. Educators around the country are beginning to use gaming technology in the classroom.Photo courtesy of pcgamer.com

A screenshot of a player solving a puzzle with the portal gun and a redirection cube. Educators around the country are beginning to use gaming technology in the classroom.
Photo courtesy of pcgamer.com

 

In Mrs. Brubaker’s physics classrooms students are testing gravity. The students must prove that acceleration due to gravity is 9.81 meters per second.

Junior Emily Doppel and Senior Sarah Swarthout dropped marbles at one meter and timed how long it took for the marbles to hit the ground. The marbles and the yardstick are meant to engage students in a hands-on physics demonstration, though not everyone in the class said they enjoyed the activity.

Students admit that physics is sometime boring, but what if they started using video games to teach?

One of the biggest challenges in teaching science, technology, engineering, and math is capturing the student’s imaginations long enough for them to see all the possibilities that lie ahead. Valve has made an entertaining video game series that teachers are using to help teach physics, technology and other subjects in school.

The video games that Valve has made are called Portal and Portal 2 along with a website made for educational purposes called Teach with Portals (http://www.teachwithportals.com/) and they were made using a physics engine which simulates real world physics. During the game Portal and Portal 2, the player controls a character by the name of Chell, a woman that finds herself in Aperture Science’s Enrichment Center under the supervision of GLaDOS (short for Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) an artificially intelligent computer system that is driven to test. Players will have to solve brain puzzling problems and escape Aperture laboratories well using real world physics to beat the game.

Students will get to follow lesson plans made by teachers, get to make their own tests, and play a school-friendly version of the game. Yes, that means students will use a handheld portal device or what the game calls a portal gun that doesn’t shoot bullets but portals and be able to travel in and out of them using the real world physics to solve puzzles and learn physics in a fun, entertaining way in school that is totally free for educators.

The real world physics work just the same as it would if the portal gun existed in real life. It shots two portals out an orange and blue one and the player can travel through one and come out the other. You can ever place one on the floor and jump down into it and go out the other one at a greater speed. As GLaDOS said in Portal “Momentum, a function of mass and velocity, is conserved between portals. In layman’s terms speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out.”

Cameron Pittman a teacher at LEAD Academy, in Nashville Tennessee uses Teach with Portals to help teach in school.

“I’m teaching with portals to help students study how objects move. In physics class, we call it “mechanics.” My students are learning about ideas like forces, energy, velocity, acceleration, and gravity.” Said Pittman.

Pittman continued later by saying “I think schools should consider teaching physics and critical thinking with Portal 2 and games like Portal 2. In the future, people will be working with crazy computer programs and technologies we probable can’t even imagine yet. It makes sense to start teaching with some wild technology today. Portal 2 and the Puzzle Maker give students a chance to play with some pretty cool technology right now and learn physics and critical thinking at the same time.”

Mr. Pittman and said he has used video games before this to teach but they weren’t the same as teaching with portals. He also teaches with other materials besides video games in Physics and Chemistry.

Mrs. Coon a Physics and Chemistry teacher at Watkins Glen High school that has never used Portal, Portal 2, or Teaching with Portals but has used interactive physics simulations in class and would use Teaching with Portals to help teach Physics. “It brings problem solving and critical thinking together that student need and it also introduces a technology skill that will help in the future.” said Mrs. Coon.

Mrs. Coon also said it is well suited for physics but she could not find anything for chemistry. Also the idea’s good and it might engage students that have checked out or stopped trying but it should not only contain video games but a balance of hands-on stuff and other activities too just like a class can’t only be lectures. Lastly she would like to see research done to see if it is actually helping kids learn because she does not buy it completely.

Though Valve didn’t have education in mind, they created a physics simulator that is powerful, accessible, free, and easily modifiable. Basically Teach with Portal allows for easy creation, manipulation, and sharing or virtual worlds that run on actual laws of physics. In other words, it’s perfect for the classroom.

Teachers can sign up to receive for free educational collection of portal 2 and its puzzle maker through STEAM for schools, the school-friendly version of the game, access to lesson plans and unique puzzles, and join a teachers only community forum to share experiences.

After proving that gravity is 9.81 meters/per second, students answered questions about gravity and what they did. Why do this year after year boring the students when you can add an element of fun to it. All you have to do is start thinking with portals.

Students Megan Daigle and Lindsey Suddaby answering question after the freefall lab in Mrs. Brubaker’s physics class. Photograph by Ashley Gardner.

Students Megan Daigle and Lindsey Suddaby answering question after the freefall lab in Mrs. Brubaker’s physics class. Photograph by Ashley Gardner.

Stress: More Harmful Than You Think

13 Dec

By Emily DeSantis

WGHS student Zach Kelly struggles with his daily workload. Photo by Emily DeSantis

WGHS student Zach Kelly struggles with his daily workload. Photo by Emily DeSantis

School.Practice. Work. Homework. Repeat.

This is the life of junior Brooke Grinolds.

Grinolds attends school until 3 pm. Volleyball practice begins at 5, and then she goes to work until 9.

Sound like a wonderful day routine?

“I sometimes feel like my life is miserable,” Grinolds states. “I have so much to do.”

Unfortunately, most of us teens strain ourselves through days like these all the time. When do we have time to relax, hang out with friends, or do the hobbies and activities we love? It doesn’t happen as much as we’d like.

“I’m tired all the time,” said Grinolds “I just don’t have time for anything.”

Stress brought upon by our busy schedules affect us in many visible ways—but what about the invisible?

Every teenager experiences stress symptoms at least once in their pre-adulthood years. It can be relieved, or it can reoccur. How and when stress is taken care of varies its effects on you; stress that is not resolved can lead to many other problems. It can cause mental disorders and poor decision making.

Mental disorders don’t just appear; they develop over time. As stress builds up untreated, you’ll begin to feel helpless, irritable, and easily frustrated. It will seem like your stressors will be the end of you. Illnesses like anxiety disorders and depression are no joke – They are serious illnesses and want to be avoided at all times.

Psychology teacher, Mr. Cheplick, explains in one of his lectures for class that if you experience any of the symptoms (and there’s more!), you need to get yourself checked out as soon as possible.

“These are nasty, just nasty illnesses,” Said Cheplick. “You don’t want to be stuck with them.”

When you feel overly stressed, you may also look to other negative short-term solutions. Drug and Alcohol abuse is a common coping method. It may feel good in the moment; to forget all your problems, and to be happy for the few hours you’re not sober. But it has serious consequences.

You become detached from reality. Your interpersonal relationships decline. Your grades drop. Addiction occurs. Suicidal thoughts linger in the back of your mind. Suddenly you’re wondering what got you to where you are now.

It’s all a result of bad coping methods to stress, and leaving it untreated.

“Keeping your stress bottled up is one of the worst things you can do,” said guidance counselor Mrs. Loughlin. “My door is always open.”

Mr. Frei, a member of the Council on Alcoholism and Chemical Dependence of the Finger Lakes, is specialized in not only things listed in his title; time management and organization skills are another specialty of his.

“I’ve been working at schools for over 25 years,” Frei said, “I’m not a therapist. I’m not going to diagnose you or prescribe you medicine. I’m here to help steer you in the right direction.”

Frei has an office in the guidance department and is here every academic day; except Wednesdays. He is very flexible in his scheduling; so if you’re interested in speaking with him, let him know. He’s more than happy to.

It’s natural to become a bit timid when presented with talking to others about your feelings. There are a few alternative coping methods.

You don’t always have to talk to a counselor or teacher. You can talk to close friends and family – they will help you! My personal favorite is exercise. Go take a walk or run, throw a few rocks; anything to get your heart rate up. It’s a proven method to relieve stress of all kinds.

Though it may be hard for you succumb to it, its recommended that you seek professional help– meaning a therapist or a doctor, if your stress level is seriously getting out of hand. Seeking help doesn’t mean you’re crazy. You will only be hurting yourself if you don’t.

Don’t let this happen to you or someone you care about. It’s completely avoidable! It’s easy to learn effective stress-coping skills through positive adult influences, Mrs. Loughlin or Mr. Frei, or great online resources such as kidshealth.org/teens.

On an Adventure from Austrailia to America

13 Dec

By Elizabeth Reed

Jess Littler focuses on her AP English work during a study hall.

Jess Littler focuses on her AP English work during a study hall.

You wouldn’t think that she’s much different from your average American high school student. With her blonde ponytail and books piled high in her arms as she walks to class through crowded hallways, you wouldn’t expect that just last spring she’d spent a 26-hour plane ride moving here to America, nor that instead of going off to college next fall, she’d rather become a nun. Jessica Littler isn’t your average student and she has a story to tell.

Until the age of 11, Jess lived with her mother and older brother, Dylan, in Toowoomba, Queensland, which is in mainland Australia. She was homeschooled, and had a couple pet guinea pigs at the time. Later on, the family made their first big move – south to Tasmania. Jess, having less time for homeschooling than she had before, was then enrolled in a Catholic, all-girls school, where she learned until she moved here to Watkins Glen last spring.

“At first I was kind of excited because I was already thinking I’d like to go to America,” she said of when she first learned her family would be moving yet again.

Jess had already finished her school year when she moved, but, according to Mrs. Loughlin, guidance counselor here at the high school, boredom persuaded her to enroll before the end of the school year.

For Jess, the adjustment wasn’t big, but there were a lot of little differences between American high school and schooling in Tasmania. For one, there aren’t any Regents exams there. And two, the divisions between the schools are different. Sixth grade and below is primary school, and all the grades above are secondary, much like the British school system. Language wasn’t a barrier, but it was the little things, like how we as a school and as individuals act that was an adjustment.
The teachers here all acknowledge Jess as very studious and dedicated.

“I think she enjoys the subject matter…by the quality and dedication she puts in her work,” said Mrs. Rodgers, the earth science teacher here at Watkins.

Science, though, isn’t Jess’ forte – music and English are. Jess was an accomplished musician and she continues to be. Most recently, she’s been selected to play in this year’s string orchestra at the Area All-State festival this November, which is something that only the best can make.

“I was pleased to be selected for Area All-State this year,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it…In Australia I did music exams which were very similar to NYSSMA solos, but we never had anything like the Area All-State festivals.”

Jess also studies American Sign Language, but even though she enjoys the class and concert band very much, she confesses that her favorite class here is AP English with Mr. O’Kane.
The other large part of Jess’ life is her religion, and it’s had an enormous influence on what she wants to do out in the real world. She doesn’t have plans for extra education after graduation, but she does have a plan for the rest of her life, one of service to those less fortunate.

“My plan is to join an order of nuns who work to care for the elderly and for children.”

Though she often comes off as quiet and reserved, Jess is quick-witted and full of life. She’s always willing to strike up a conversation – school-related or not. And if you see her in the hallways, the ponytailed girl with the navy-colored “New Jess” sweater, take a second to say hello, a moment to start a conversation. She’s not all that different; she just has a different story.

Religion in School?! Bible Club Spreads the Word at WGHS

13 Dec

By Becca McIntyre

The paper starts off with a quote from John 3:16.

“For god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

You wouldn’t expect to see a sign of religion in a school setting.

Common sense and the idea of a separation of church and state would lead you to believe this wouldn’t happen in school. However, Hunter Targosh has another idea.

Using the powers of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, as well as quoting the Equal Access Act, Hunter had placed posters all over our school inviting anyone to join a club Bible Club.

Though it is stated in the constitution that no Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise of practice there is a separation.
The conception is that public schools aren’t allowed to have religious-based clubs, however, principal of our school said these clubs are legal.

“As long as the meeting times for the group are during non-academic times like afterschool and lunch the group is allowed to perform its duties,” said Mr. Warren.

Non-academic periods include the activity period we now face either before lunch for freshmen and sophomores and after lunch for juniors and seniors. Since the club meets during activity period the club must be accepted by the school and cannot be denied.

The Equal Access Act applies to any public or secondary school that receives federal funds and allows extracurricular activities in the school after school hours.

The Act states that all schools meeting these criteria are forbidden to prevent access or deny fair opportunity to students who wish to hold meetings on school grounds.

The Act is non-specific in group types and allows a broad range of groups to arise.

During a Government and Economics class with Mr. Watson the topic was brought up while learning of the court case Marbury V. Madison.

“If Bible club is allowed then why can’t we have a Satan club?” Mr. Watson joked.

Everyone laughed at the idea, but in truth the Equal Access Act would allow that.

“The school is in lack of morals with what is left in decline,” Hunter Targosh had stated before the first meeting of Bible Club this year. “I hope to bring God and morality back into the school.”

Hunter said the school is full of immorality. Some examples of this would include but don’t end with, disrespect among students as well as teachers and other adults, criminal acts, the refusal of participation and failure in studies and classes.

“I hope that the club becomes a sphere of influence on fellow students so they also can see the light of Jesus Christ, with this, participation will increase, grades will go up, discipline will go down and the overall well-being of the school will improve,” Targosh said.

Posters announcing the upcoming meeting of Bible Club are outside of Senora Meierjurgen’s room.

Coach Watson – Ringside with MMA Fighters

12 Dec

By Emily DeSantis

Two amateur MMA fighters battle it out inside the ring. Photocourtesy of Power of One MMA

Two amateur MMA fighters battle it out inside the ring. Photocourtesy of Power of One MMA

You walk into the arena. You’re surrounded by flashing lights, roaring music, screaming crowds, and in the center of it all — a caged ring.

This isn’t a scene for a wrestling match. No, it’s not boxing either. If it isn’t one of those two, then what could it possibly be? It’s the scene for Mixed Martial Arts fighters.

On November 10th 2012, Power of One and USA MMA presented the “Art of Combat II” fighting event at the First Arena in Elmira. In this event, amateur mixed martial arts fighters compete in a professional environment.

Wait a second – MMA is illegal in New York State! How was this not against the law?

Technically, only professional MMA is illegal here. This event is considered amateur because none of the fighters received prize money as a result of their victories.

Among the ringside judges was our very own Coach Watson. Watson is acquainted with Jered Cervoni, the man who started the Power of One, and as a result had inside access to the exciting event. But, that isn’t the only reason why Watson decided to judge the fights.

“I’ve been watching MMA fights on TVsince it started in the 90’s. I love it.” Watson said. “I’m into one-on-one sports. I’m a wrestling coach. I used to watch boxing, too. MMA combines everything!”

Mixed martial arts is a combination of boxing, kickboxing, submission wrestling, and judo. Watson believes that is one of the many reasons why he is so passionate about it.

So what was Watson really doing, besides freaking out with excitement, while he judged? He judged ten out of fourteen of the total fights.

“When there’s no takedowns and the fights all standing up, punch count is important,” Watson said. “Sometimes winning a round comes down to the number of hits one got over the other, or who’s more aggressive and controlling.”

He said that he wouldn’t know what to expect in a fight because it’s always different. It depends on the fighter, the type of fight, and what they’re fighting for.

Surely this was an unforgettable experience and Watson is hoping to judge in many of the upcoming events in 2013.

He even showed interest in an MMA club here at Watkins Glen High. Surprised?

“It’s a big misconception that MMA is all about violence – it’s not,” Watson said. “There are more injuries in professional football than there are in these matches. There are rules that prevent excessive violence just like any other sport.”

Watson said if there were enough people interested, he would support the club as long as there’s access to the right safety equipment. He might even try to get some of the actual trainers working at Power of One MMA to come help out.

Junior Dom Voorhees stated that he would definitely support a local MMA club. “I’d even do my homework!” Voorhees said.

Sophomore Andrew Specht chimed in, too.

“Heck yeah!”

Oh, my iPhone!

12 Dec

By Kalea Jones

 

Ring… ring… ring… First try no answer. Ring… ring… ring… Second, third, then fourth try still no answer.

“Kalea, stop trying to call your phone, and start helping us look for it!” said NaNa.

My grandmother is yelling at me as I pushed send on my mom’s phone one more time. Ring…Ring….. Then someone answers.

“Hello?” came a female voice from the other end of the line.

The other end of the line being MY iPhone. I seriously think my heart jumped out of my chest at this point.

Alright, so now let me take you back to the beginning of this crazy turn of events. It was Saturday, November 10th, and the day started off as any old day. Little did I know this day was bound to get crazy!

It was a girls’ day out to the Carousel Mall. My mom, NaNa, two youngest sisters and I ventured off to Syracuse. I had an appointment with Apple at eleven to get my precious iPhone fixed.

After the dreadful Apple appointment, of Apple doing nothing for me, we went to lunch, did a lot of shopping, and last but not least a ride on the carousel. As we went around and around and around on the ride I thought to myself, “I think I am going to get sick.” Well, that and I was thinking nothing could ruin this day. Who knew what was yet to come.

My mom and I walked out of the mall to go get the car, while my NaNa and sisters waited for us at the entrance to come and pick them up. I was busy trying to put my new phone case on my phone when we pulled up to where they were waiting. Then all the commotion started, trying to get everything and everyone loaded up in the car.

“Alright, everyone in?” Mom said. “Here we go.”

Half way through the parking garage, I started freaking out.

“Where’s my phone!” I kept saying. “Has anyone seen my phone?”

I asked again and again. What is the matter with these people, nobody is answering me. Finally, we got to place where we could pull over and look for it. Everyone got out and started the search. No luck, I would have bet a hundred dollars my phone was somewhere in the car. I was at my breaking point. I was starting to crack: where is my phone?

“Kalea, relax,” said my mom. “Let’s just try calling it.”

That was a brilliant idea, except for the fact that I always keep my phone on silent. We looked under the seats, in shopping bags, purses, even under my sister’s booster seat. It was nowhere to be found. Here is where I started to shed some tears. I tried to call one more time and that is when the woman answered.

“You found my phone! Where are you?”

The very mescaline sounding female voice responded,

“Oh we left, we are on 81….”

I interrupt her, “What?”

The women then replied.

“We are going to Mattydale.”

My head is spinning. I can’t even think straight. My mom takes the phone.

“Ma’am, we are not from around here. Can you please pull over and tell us where we can meet you.”

“We are going to Big Lots off the Mattydale exit.”

Between trying to find Big Lots and freaking about whether the lady would even be there, I nearly had a heart attack.

After fifteen minutes of searching for Big Lots we found it. There she stood in the middle of the parking lot with my iPhone in her hands. I jumped out of the car and gave her a great big hug!

“Thank you, Thank you!” I said over and over again.

She said she knew what it is like to lose a phone. She said that she tried to call “Babe” (my boyfriend) and “Mom” but nobody answered. My recent call list proved this true. She probably couldn’t get through because I was calling my phone and my boyfriend’s phone with my mom’s phone. She also said her friends told her she should keep it and sell it but she couldn’t do that.

I learned a few things from this experience: 1) There are good people in the world. 2) Never leave your phone on silent while out and about. 3) How much I truly do depend on my phone-my lifeline. 4) It wouldn’t be the end of the world if I lost my phone, but close to it.