Archive | December, 2012

To Secede or Not to Secede

12 Dec

By Keith Reckzis

Since the American Civil War, no state has seceded from the U.S.A., and only a few attempts have actually been made. To secede from the U.S. is to remove one self from the federal government and to form their own government separate from the U.S.A., similar to what the southern states attempted in the Civil War.

There are petitions filed for all 50 states on We The People, a division of the Whitehouse.gov website. The presidential administration has promised to review any petition that receives 25,000 signatures within 30 days.

Currently, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee have reached the 25,000 signature threshold, and many more states are very close. People are signing these petitions for many reasons from the economy to the recent election results. Even though there are around 500,000 signatures on the petitions nationwide, the movement is still quite small.

Texas is currently the leader with over 110,000 signatures. This may sound like a large number, but equals only .4% of the state’s overall population. New Yorkers have even less hope, with less than one tenth of a percent of the population signing the petition. All of the petitions have between ten and twelve days before they close.

Sophomores Dan Davis, Noah Wigmore, Bryce De La Osa Cruz, and Travis Beaumont, as well as history teacher Ms. Fitzsimmons, all agreed that secession was a bad idea.

Travis Beaumont said it would be simply too much work.

“They would have to make all new currencies and create their own armies,” Beaumont said.

Wigmore also said it would be a bad idea for states to secede. He said that they don’t have enough resources and their economies are too weak, except for Texas. Noah said that Texas had the best chance of any state of succeeding with secession.

Student #1 was also against the idea of secession, but for different reasons. The student said that the Federal Government wasn’t doing too badly. He also said “You shouldn’t mess with the government. They can kill you.”

Ms. Fitz doesn’t even know how to respond to these petitions. She said, “Even with all of our flaws this is still a remarkable country.” She was proud to know that even with all of its issues we still embrace democracy.

The recent secession petitions have been sparked by a series of events. The poor economy has many people questioning the federal government. The recent election results also left many people angry. Many people believe the election was miscounted and that Mitt Romney actually won, which has led them to attempt to secede from the U.S. Some people just believe that the feds are getting to powerful. They think the government has overstepped their boundaries and that they need to back away from issues like the economy, gun laws, and many other very important topics.

Dan Davis believes wholeheartedly that the government is too powerful. He wants the government restored to the original state under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Ms. Fitzsimmons was satisfied with the election results, although she is extremely worried about the possibility of upcoming wars and the safety of our soldiers. She wants better education and she feels that strong infrastructure is vital to a strong country. She also said that she is happy to pay taxes to a government that takes good care of her, and that less time should be spent of distracting issues like secession and more time should be spent on important issues.

Noah Wigmore also said the government was to powerful. He said that he doesn’t support or even trust the Federal Government, even though he strongly supports the U.S.A. He also believes gun laws should be loosened.

Student #1 said that corruption needed to be stopped, and that younger people should be put into power so that the government would be more up to speed with the people. The student also believes a third major political party should be made so that decisions can be made faster and power can be evened out.

Also on the website is a petition saying all of the people that signed a secession petition should be deported or even killed. I spoke with some of the students at WGHS and Ms. Fitzsimmons. Noah Wigmore, Dan Davis, Ms. Fitzsimmons, and the other student all agreed that no punishment should be given to those who signed secession petitions. Dan Davis even said, “Whoever made that petition should be deported or killed.”

Although there may be a portion of the U.S. that believes secession is the answer, they are most likely very wrong. All federal aid programs like FEMA, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would be lost. Many businesses and banks would either leave or close. All military bases would be decommissioned. The new countries would have to form their own military and police. Business, transportation, and legal contracts would all be disrupted. Some state constitutions even prohibit secession. Many state governors are releasing statements saying that they do not support the secession movements.

Even though these petitions have been rapidly gaining numbers ever since they were created, as we near the day that the petitions will close, the movement will likely come to an end. Only a very small percentage of people in each state have signed the petitions, and it is very likely that the most recent secession movement will end in just another failed attempt at leaving the United States of America.

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Students Choose To Not To Take Advanced Classes To Keep a Higher G.P.A.

12 Dec

By Morgan Atwood

 

The English and History department is struggling to keep the number of phase III and phase IVstudents equal among the sophomore class. The class of 2014 was the last class to have offered phase IVor phase III in Humanities and Global during their freshman year. Since then the choice of taking phase III or phase IVhas been offered exclusively to sophomores so that all freshmen would start out on the same level.

However the kids do not make their decision entirely on their own. There were approximately 15 students who signed up to take the regular humanities and global this year but were instead pushed up to phase IV. Some of these students were also persuaded by Mrs. Fitzsimons and not everyone who was spoken to wanted to be moved up, according to Mr. O’Kane.

“These students were selected based mostly on average, maturity and potential” said Mrs. Loughlin, high school guidance counselor.

She also said that out of all of these students who got pushed up none of them went to guidance to try and move back down to phase III.

Many of the students who were switched into advanced humanities and global were concerned that the work would be too fast paced and that they wouldn’t be able to keep up. The majority of these students however are discovering that the class is not as difficult as they expected.

“I feel honored to be chosen for a higher class,” said Gabriella LaRosa, sophomore at WGHS.

She said she originally signed up for phase III because she thought she would be able to have better grades in phase III and boost her overall GPA.

Joe Palumbo, who claims to be “specially gifted,” said that the class is really easy. He likes the writing and the teachers are good. He thought the class would be a lot harder but is instead finding that the reading is the only down fall (as did most other students).

Justin Duane said that he struggles with the work, too. He agreed that the course is fast paced, but he said it wasn’t anything that he couldn’t get used to. It was a common theme among all of the students that being specially selected for phase IVglobal and humanities boosted their confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Mrs. Fitzsimons said that she feels the reason students may not be taking advantage of the opportunity to move to phase IVis because the kids may be scared of the work load, concerned with summer reading, and it just feels scary.

Though the students were very apprehensive at first because they were concerned that the class would be too fast paced to keep up and the work would be more than they could handle none of them regretted making the choice to move into phase IV. In fact, they are very proud of themselves and their accomplishments. Although, they don’t find the reading enjoyable they said that just being part of an advanced class is a great achievement and honor in their lives.

Schuyler County Helps Victims of Hurricane Sandy

12 Dec

By Ashley Gardner

Some of the many things donated by people for the Watkins Glen Fire depatrment to take to New York.Photo by Ashley Gardner

Some of the many things donated by people for the Watkins Glen Fire depatrment to take to New York.
Photo by Ashley Gardner

On October 29, winds were rushing, buildings collapsing, and fires burning. Thousands were left without power, food, and a home that day and afterwards. Blame Sandy.

Super storm Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record measuring by diameter with winds spanning 1,100 miles.

Even to this day people are still trying to recover from Sandy and many people are helping to do so.

One place that has helped people to recover from Hurricane Sandy is the Watkins Glen Fire Department. The fire department has been collecting things like bags of clothes, food, water, and even toys.

The donations were sent out to people in Breezy Point and lower Manhattan on November 9. The donations came from a wide area of places. Some people even drove from Pennsylvania to drop off the donations. Someone dropped of 200 pairs of new rubber boots and people even wanted to drive a truck full of 2 by 4 wood planks there.

“People have been very generous” said Keith Caslin, director of the Watkins Glen Fire company and that even people of limited financial resources have went to Wal-Mart to buy stuff and donate it.

“It’s amazing how you see the best of people come out at the worst of times” Said Keith Caslin.

The fire department had hoped to get one whole truck full and ended up needing one tractor trailer for all of it.

Another group helping people recover from Sandy is the Red Cross, sheltering and feeding the people. The Red Cross is working in Long Island, the 5 Burroughs of New York City, and the Metro North (or counties north of the city).

The Red Cross is mostly made of volunteers with 95% of them being volunteers. The Red Cross has helped since two days before the storm sending people and resources and will continue to help for weeks to come. 12 shelters are still open and 15 hundred people are still in them.

The Red Cross also helps feeding the people with fixed feedings spread across New York and New Jersey. The fixed kitchens are also partnered by the Southern Baptist Convention.

So far they have served 5.8 million meals and snacks. Red Cross volunteers are driving through neighborhoods to hand out water, food, are relief supplies in more than 300 feeding trucks as well as rental cars, trucks, and other vehicles.

Steve Monroe, service associate in government liaison said that helping people in need is an important function that the Red Cross does along with many other things.

The many other things that the Red Cross includes heath services like nursing and licensed mental health therapists.

Since Hurricane Sandy the number of people that needed help, most have gotten it, but many more still need it. Steve Monroe said “The recovery is going very well considering the state of damage”.

He also said that he feels good about what he has done for the Red Cross and what the Red Cross has done for the people.

People can still help the Red Cross and the people hit by Sandy by donating and volunteering to help. Kids can also help with the Red Cross’s youth groups.

The Watkins Glen Faculty Association is also collecting items along with the Watkins Glen Fire department and Red Cross. The Watkins Glen Faculty Association collected two and a half boxes of non-perishable food items.

If I were a Club, Where Would I Be?

12 Dec

By Becca McIntyre

School clubs are a current and ongoing theme in extracurricular activities.

Whether they are scheduled during lunch, advisement, or after school there are countless amounts of clubs in our school. But having clubs and knowing what clubs are out there are two different things entirely.

“During my freshman year I had no awareness of clubs!” said Samantha Bradley, a sophomore. “But later in the year I started hearing about them in the announcements.”

“I knew about some clubs,” Kaylee Reilly stated, “But mainly clubs based on the classes I took that year.” She replied. Kaylee is also a sophomore.

Freshman, Andrea McNeil had commented, “I’m not in any clubs at the moment but I like to hangout in Mrs. Bartholomew’s room. It’s fun.”

Several others students commented on how little they really knew about the clubs in our school.

“I don’t really know a lot about school clubs, the only ones I know are the Yearbook and… that’s it” Destiny Weber, a freshman, commented.

Other student s commented the same way as Destiny saying, “I don’t really know…”, and “I’ve heard of Varsity Club and Yearbook…” and some students didn’t even care that we have clubs in our school.

When talking to SADD Club president, Junior, Braylyn Terry about the clubs advertising strategies she simply replied, “With how busy the school is and all it’s really hard to get people into SADD Club and with there not being a lot of people it’s hard to get out there.”

With the new Junior-Senior and Freshman-Sophomore lunches as well as BOCES, not a lot of students are joining clubs. And with those who don’t know about clubs and those who don’t care the number of school club members is decreasing. The problem is with smaller groups of students in extracurricular activities how are club advisors and members going to step up their game? Easy, follow some advice from your peers.

“Posters, lots of posters that jump out and say “JOIN!” in bright colors to catch peoples eye and say things like what they do and what they stand for!” an excited Andrea McNeil exclaimed.

“Put them in places other than the four corners, it’s just too crowded there and nobody pays attention there anyways.” Samantha Bradley stated, “Put them in the freshman wing or near the cafeteria where people WILL see them.”

“Get talking,” Austin LaFever said, “The best way I believe to get the word out is to talk about it!”

“The Announcements,” Kaylee replied, “So people know where to go and at what time to join the clubs.”

Hopefully before you read this the halls will be covered in club advertisements but if not they will be soon. And if you’re thinking about joining a club but don’t know if the school has the club or not, talk to people you know that may or may not know or just go to guidance and ask.

You never really know what’s out there unless you look and joining a club is just one look away.

So the next time you’re walking the hallway and you see a poster hanging on the wall stop and take a look, it might be something that interests you.

SCHOOL PLAY SEEKS NEW RECRUITS FOR GREASE

11 Dec
The cast of Mame poses after one of the sever songs included in last year's school play.

The cast of Mame poses after one of the sever songs included in last year’s school play.

By Caitlin Connelly

Lights! Music! Action! Preparation for the Watkins Glen school play is about to begin!

Every spring, Watkins Glen High School presents a musical to the public, completely made up of students. They make up all the performers, stagehands, and background dancers under the guidance of directors, Tim and Michelle Benjamin. Last year’s show, Mame, was fun for all, but the best is soon to come as Grease is coming to the stage this year!

Over the years, seniors have become a majority of the play, last year making up nearly half the cast. Few underclassmen have taken notice of the opportunity, especially freshmen. During both the senior plays of 2012 and 2011, one freshman participated. Most of this year’s freshmen agree they think it’s awkward to perform in front of people, but every performer has felt this way at a point in their lives.

“I was terrified to put myself out there on a stage in front of a lot of people,” said Abbey Willis, who joined the school play last year, “but then I realized everyone else was in the same boat as me and it made it less scary.”

Most play participants can agree the best part about joining play is spending time with friends. Even if you don’t know anybody that’s participating, you are adopted into a family of people that share the same interests, where no one is alone. Everyone works as a team to put on a great show and make amazing memories.

Memories are sure to be made this year as students have the opportunity to appear and assist in the performance of Grease! This well-known musical, based in the 1950s, is the classic American love story and example of high-school life. Performers will be taking the roles of leads like Danny and Sandy, members of the cliques the “T-Birds” and “Pink Ladies”, and the chorus, a group of background singers and dancers.

Both the directors and members of last year’s cast are hoping the popular story line and music brings more people to the stage. However, more people would rather watch a popular play than act or help in it. “There’s nothing else like it,” said Trávon Hardy.

In order to make Grease a success, help is needed in several other roles. Besides acting, students run the lights, control the curtains, and create and change sets for different scenes. These jobs need to be filled. They help bring a spectacular play over the top, and make the lives of the directors easier.

“Our philosophy is that those who help backstage are just as important as those who perform onstage, so we always need new recruits for both ends of the spectrum!” said one of the directors, Michelle Benjamin.

Play isn’t just something to fill your free time. The directors have seen “many students over the years grow in confidence and self-esteem, gain or strengthen friendships, have fun, and sharpen performing, singing, acting, dancing, building, painting,” and other skills, said Michelle Benjamin. They enjoy seeing this growth throughout the year and cannot wait to meet new students during this year’s performance!

Auditions for Grease will take place on December 18th and 19th at 6 p.m. Students will be asked to read lines from the script and sing one of the songs around the piano, either by themselves or with a partner. If you do not get a part, you are sure to be in the chorus and still join the fun of the school play!

If you have any questions, you can contact the directors. Michelle Benjamin can be reached at 535-8950 or mbenjamin4@stny.rr.com and Tim Benjamin at 351-9260 or marchhare@stny.rr.com.

Interact’s Interim Period

11 Dec

By Elizabeth Reed

In 1997, Interact Club hosted their first Thanksgiving dinner. Since then, it’s become fixed in tradition for students, teachers and other members of the community.

This year, though, Interact broke tradition and decided not to host their annual dinner.

The question now is simply this: why?

According to Ms. Fitzsimmons, who, along with Mrs. Loughlin, acts as advisor to Interact Club, the dinner started mostly because there weren’t any groups or charities hosting these types of dinners for the community. At the time, there was a need for some sort of community dinner at Thanksgiving-time. The club took it upon themselves to change that, and the rest is history. Fifteen, going on sixteen years later, the students who started this tradition have long since graduated and left. Ask any student here at the high school today if they remember when there wasn’t an Interact dinner, and they’ll say no.

The first time the dinner was hosted, Mrs. Loughlin recalls, she was panicked about running out of food! She also remembered that it was somewhat difficult to keep the food warm. But she, Ms. Fitzsimmons and the other volunteers worked for hours, helping to give back to a community that didn’t have a Thanksgiving-time volunteer dinner. By the end of the dinner, everyone was exhausted but still satisfied with their work.

“I remember Marie [Ms. Fitzsimmons] saying to me, ‘Now when we do this next year…’ and I looked at her and said ‘Next year?’” reflects Mrs. Loughlin.

And there have, in fact, been many next years and just as many memorable, Interact-hosted dinners. In 2010, TOPS, in a Thanksgiving surprise, gave free turkeys for the dinner. And in other past years, members of the faculty have donated turkeys, with a very grateful Interact Club there to receive them.

Recently, though, attendance to the dinner has dropped drastically, said Ms. Fitzsimmons. In the last few years, other groups, such as the Presbyterian Church, have also taken responsibility upon themselves to bring Thanksgiving dinners to Watkins Glen.

There are now at least two other Thanksgiving dinners being run besides the one that Interact Club normally hosts. The problem is not whether people will being going without Thanksgiving dinner; it is simply the loss of one particular dinner that seems to be the issue.

Mrs. Loughlin, co-advisor to Interact Club, would have preferred to continue hosting the dinner. However, without full support from all those who would have to participate, i.e. both advisors and several members of the club, she acknowledges this may not have been possible anyway.

“I couldn’t run it by myself,” she said.

Ms. Fitzsimmons believes that without the Thanksgiving dinner, Interact can put more focus on other volunteering opportunities.

“Now we can focus on what the community needs,” she said.

With both a “Kids Nite Out”, run in collaboration with

Varsity and Yearbook clubs, and a United Way dinner around the corner, Ms. Fitzsimmons assures everyone that “Watkins Glen is volunteering as much as ever.

Gym Class? For Athletes?!?

11 Dec

 By Alexis Gonzalez

Girls sit on the bleachers gossiping, boys run around the gym acting childish, the teachers begin their lesson, but no one seems to be listening.

Mr. Robert Michel is a gym teacher at Watkins Glen High School. He stated that the Physical Education department offers a lot more information to students, as opposed to only participating in a school sport. He believes that it introduces you to new things and helps you with learning communication skills, and is more than just a work out.

“Comparing gym class to a school sport is like comparing apples to oranges,” said Mr. Michel

He said many students don’t really understand that it is not just about running around and having a good time. Students should come to each and every class expecting to be taught new skills that they can use later in life.

“It helps students learn to be leaders, and the students who know more about the particular activity can help other students learn,” said Mr. Michel

Lastly Mr. Michel stated that “… [gym class] is all about variety not depth, I was hired to teach students.”

Coach Ralph Diliberto, a resident strength trainer at WGHS, stated that student athletes should have to participate in gym because of the New York State requirements. Currently, the state requires students to take PE in order to gain the credit necessary to graduate. He believes, however, that gym class does not give students sufficient exercise.

“PE is a la-dee-da class and students just mess around and don’t get a lot out of it as far as exercise,” said Coach Diliberto.

Coach Diliberto also said that many students don’t try in gym because it is not hard and they don’t really learn a lot.

“Students walk into the gym, throw on a pair of shorts, walk around, and they can get a passing grade,” said Diliberto.

During the summer of 2012 Skip McCarty, the summer school principle, gave coach Diliberto permission to grant gym credits to summer school students, who had failed gym during the regular semester. These students were required to attend his morning workouts.

“If I was allowed to give students a gym credit for coming to my morning workouts in the summer then my workout during the school year should count as a gym class,” said Diliberto.

Mr. Dave Warren, the high school’s principle, said it is up to the gym teachers and Mr. Diliberto to decide whether the morning workouts should count as a gym class.

“Mr. Michel and Mr. Brubaker would have to give Ralph permission to teach the students and then the final decision would have to go through the administrators to be approved,” stated Mr. Warren.

Lastly Mr. Warren said “I am not really sure if athletes should have to participate in gym because PE teaches you about different activities and sports keep you fit.”

Mrs. Nancy Loughlin, the high school guidance counselor, said, “Sometimes it is hard to find room in student’s schedules for PE, so some students have to double up their gym class in a semester…”

Mrs. Loughlin said Ralph’s workouts provide great exercise but gym teachers have a set curriculum that they have to teach the students.

“Mr. Diliberto is an assistant teacher, he can work independently and give students a credit for gym, but it would have to be guided by what the teachers say and the administration would have to approve,” said Mrs. Loughlin.

Some students believe that student athletes are not required to participate in PE. The counselors of the Elmira School District all state that it is a state requirement for all students to participate in gym because many coaches are not certified gym teachers.

Terry Nicklaus, a counselor with the Elmira City School District, said, “We do not exempt PE for athletes. I believe this is a state requirement not a local one. PE is a pain for a lot of student’s schedules. A lot of schools are not totally in compliance.”

Colin Gates, a student at WGHS, said that an athlete should have the option to participate in gym. He also feels he does not get a lot out of gym and he views gym as an easy grade.

“A true baller like me needs the option for gym and sports,” said Gates.

Lastly Gates stated, “You don’t have to try in gym to get a good grade I just view it as an average booster.”

Luke Flahive, also a student athlete at WGHS, said every student should play a school sport and should participate in gym. He also stated he doesn’t get a lot out of gym as far as exercise or learning.

“Students should participate in gym because; you have to go hard 100% of the time,” said Flahive.

Flahive also stated “I don’t really get a lot of exercise in gym, and I learn a lot more in basketball practice than I do in class.”

Flahive also feels that a lot of students only like certain activities in gym which is why students don’t give enough effort.

Lastly Flahive stated, “In my opinion students don’t try in gym, most kids just view it as an easy grade.”

Daniel Paradiso is a student who attends Coach Diliberto’s morning work outs. Daniel said that he learns a lot in each and every workout he attends, and he also gets a lot of exercise.

“The workouts really help me stay active and they help a lot with sports,” said Paradiso.

Paradiso said that he learns about various sports in gym but he feels he does not get a lot of physical activity.

Lastly Paradiso stated, “In gym I learn a lot about sports I don’t play but it is not difficult. It’s not as much physical activity as Ralph’s workouts. Ralph really pushes us to our fullest.”