Add One More Test to the List?

The state of Colorado recently defeated 17-18 a bill that would have required all high school seniors to pass a citizenship test.
By Tara Higgins

With the 2016 presidential election looming, and high school juniors and seniors registering to vote, the question of political apathy comes to surface. Are today’s youth qualified enough to vote, and do they have the knowledge it takes to make an informed decision?

Senate Bill 148 clearly disagreed. It proposed requiring all high school students to pass the civics portion of the citizenship test administered to all those wishing to be naturalized in the United States. Bipartisan support draws on recent survey results indicating that only roughly one-third of the U.S. population can name all three branches of government. By contrast, about two-thirds of Americans vote in national elections. Colorado lawmakers have drafted SB 148 with the intention of ensuring that today’s voting population knows enough to exercise their most basic of rights.

“I would like high school students to be engaged in politics and government, have a high sense of political efficacy, and have a solid understanding of the American political system,” said AP and U.S. Government teacher Jacob Erisman, “but I don’t think a required civics test would contribute any more to these ends than a semester-long government class.”

Questions on the test range from simpler questions testing students’ knowledge of the first American president, which oceans border which coasts, to those asking for a list of Native American tribes and which presidents presided over which wars.

A semester’s credit of U.S. government is already required for graduation here in Douglas County School District, and many students even opt for the year-long AP credit. The basic fundamentals of civics are already covered in the class, but SB 148 would add to the list of compulsory standardized tests.

Should Coloradans have to pass the U.S. citizenship test to graduate from high school? Critics argue that the test is too easy, considering most high-school level government classes cover much more in-depth knowledge, particularly AP, and should therefore be more indicative of the student’s grasp of the subject material. But proponents pushed for the bill’s passage, contending that if naturalized citizens must pass the test, so should natural-born citizens.

The experience of preparing for and taking a standardized test can contribute to students’ academic and professional readiness,” Erisman said, but “reading the politics section of the NY Times or Washington Post every day is probably more valuable than passing a 100-question test.”

To no surprise, current government students clearly opposed the idea. Surveying U.S. Government classes, most agree that the overwhelming amount of standardized testing already imposed upon students, from ACT to SAT to AP, is more than enough.

They will be pleased to learn the bill was struck down 17-18 in a close vote. For now, it appears that the basic graduation requirements are enough –  or at least, for now.

 

Just Go For It

The 5 secrets to achieving everything you tell yourself you’re going to do

by Dani Martinez

Procrastination. No matter how hard we seem to try, it always finds a way of getting under our skin. It’s addictive, it’s wasteful and it has a way of taking over your entire life. As the end of the school year is coming full speed ahead, the Netflix tab on everyone’s laptop has remained permanently open. It may seem nearly impossible to eliminate procrastination, old habits die hard after all. But there is hope, and there are things one can do to get back into boss mode.

Write it down. Let’s admit it, no matter how well we mean in reminding ourselves to get things done, it means absolutely nothing when it’s not followed through. If you write it down however, it eliminates the excuse of forgetting to do something then never getting to it. Getting organized is the first step to accomplishing things. So get a planner, and make a list of everything you want to accomplish that week. Not only are you more likely to remember them and get your tasks done, but crossing words off of lists is really satisfying.

Turn it off. It’s hard enough to sit down and actually get to whatever you had planned. It’s happened to all of us a thousand times, you get started and your phone buzzes. You reply to a Snapchat, then another and before you know it an hour has passed scrolling through Instagram and Twitter. Once you get sucked in to distractions, it’s almost impossible to get out. So do yourself a favor and put your phone on silent. Trust me, your notifications will still be there once your english paper is done.

Make a plan. The hardest part of accomplishing anything is getting started, so if you already have a plan of action, things go a thousand times more smoothly down the road. Schedule out a plan beforehand, so you’re not sitting in front of a blank Word Doc at one in the morning. Once a plan is set, and the illusion of productivity sets in, work will most likely be done. And so ask yourself this when prioritizing, “If I had to get one thing done today, what would it be?”

Split up the work. A huge task is daunting to achieve, and the very thought of it turns off most people before they even start. So splitting up the work into small, manageable tasks makes the workload much more manageable. Despite the highly popular belief, not every single assignment has to be finished in a mad panic the night before it’s turn-in date. Just because it says due tomorrow, doesn’t mean do tomorrow.

Pull yourself together and get it done. The final and perhaps most crucial step in eliminating procrastination is to punch it right in its ugly face. Because the harsh reality is that no one has ever procrastinated their way to success. Complaining about how much homework you have won’t get it done, despite how much we wish it did. Once you get a grip and accomplish everything you set out to do, everything will fall into place. Of course this transformation does not happen magically overnight, but with each task completed, each assignment turned in on time, things will get easier. The constant anxiety will ease over time, because you will have control of your situation, instead of the other way around. I promise you, Netflix will still be there once everything is done.

Play as One, Win as One

The Varsity Girls’ Soccer team on teamwork, what defines a player, and their passion.

by Dani Martinez

Soccer is competitive. But more importantly, it’s selfless, it’s draining, and it’s demanding. Hours upon hours of practice are behind every single move. Every hit, every pass, every save and every goal in soccer is achieved through what one gives to the sport. A true team however, shines not though the talents of individual players but through the talent of the team as a whole. Trust, chemistry, and drive are what compile a truly great soccer team. Lucky for the girls this year, they’ve managed to score it all.

It is no question that great teams are hard to come by. Sure, everyone has the potential to be good, maybe even great, players. The real magic in the sport happens when good players come together to form one united strong front.

“This year’s team is so much closer than previous years. We all get along and play as a team rather than individuals,” senior Becca Kholos said.

It is not enough to have a group of talented players. Because if a team can’t combine all their different strengths, talents and abilities into a coherent whole, they’re not going to be successful.

“Our team chemistry is way better and as a team there is a stronger work ethic. We all play very well as one unit because most of us play outside of high school soccer together,” junior Sierra Smith said.

A common theme and the motto for this year’s squad is the simple phrase,“One.” It embodies everything they want to achieve. It says everything they want to be as a team. It sets them far ahead from everyone else, seeing the big picture of harmony rather than having a team full of people constantly competing to be the best.

“We don’t have a team of superstars but together we are one,” Kholos said.

It is this motto that sets the tone not only for the team out competing on the field, but the team in all senses. Not only as teammates, but as friends.

“We aren’t only teammates, we are friends. I love how even when we don’t have to be together we still make an effort to hang out and have a lot of team bonding. Everyone is so supportive and encouraging towards each other. We help each other get better,” junior Izzy Lamanna said.

Looking at the bigger picture is much easier said than done. Working together with a group of strong people poses many different challenges. But in being selfless, the team has learned that together, they can go much further than they ever could alone.

“Anyone on my team would be willing to do anything to benefit the team and that no matter what I can always count on my teammates to give it their all,” Smith said.  

But a cohesive whole can never be complete without the sum of all its parts, all of its players. For these girls, it takes years of not only physical strength, but mental power to create an athlete. For the players, it takes everything to mold yourself into the definition of great.

“Passion, drive, resilience, hard work, and motivation,” Kholos named as the makings, the ingredients that turn a player into an athlete.

The true differences in players lies in their character and their ethic much more than their talent itself. It’s either going all in, or going home.

“A good soccer player could be defined as hardworking, mentally strong, dedicated, and coachable, a person who gives 110% and isn’t scared to make a mistake in order to grow,” Lamanna said.

The sport toughens and shapes good players into great athletes. It translates into everything these girls hope to achieve in life. The lessons that are learned on the field pertain to life, even when there isn’t a ball in between their feet and a jersey on their backs.

Soccer has made me think about my life decisions in a way where I’m not only thinking about myself but also those around me and how what seems to be a simple decision can impact my life long term. Respect, determination, leadership and communication: the skills learned while playing the sport of soccer go hand in hand with almost every other aspect of life,” Smith said.

(Neither) Bud, Nor Buddy

by Ean Kramer

As with most things, language is evolving. Slang terms often times appear out of nowhere. One second, someone is ending every sentence with “YOLO” or claiming (quite falsely) that they have exorbitant “swag.” In fact, slang seems to encompass every part of the English language. There are slang words to end a sentence, modify a noun, express actions, reactions, or even all of the above. So it’s no surprise that slang words may even start to blur the lines of esteemed greetings.

That’s not altogether a bad thing. Greetings serve to acquaint two people in a small amount of time and/or show friendship. If a slang word accomplishes those goals, then it’s a word well said. Certain greetings though, should not even be uttered out of the mouth of an innocent child, and, as much as I’m afraid to admit it for fear of a thousand moms chastising me, I would cuss out a child should it greet me in such a way. Not because I hate the child, but because their parents/siblings deserve to be flabbergasted at the most inopportune moments by the random bad words of an innocent lad/lass.

Bud, buddy, and son are three different words commonly heard in greetings. And it is not uncommon to encounter a “friend” in the hall – or classroom – that uses this degrading slang.

“Hey, bud.”

“Ok, bud.”

“Did you finish the project yet, buddy?”

“Great story, son.”

Some people might not mind this, they might just think it is another innocent pronoun. It is not. No matter how it is used the word just sounds belittling. Like the person saying it believes they are on a higher level than the person they bestow the word upon. Part of the reason why bud, buddy, and son carry a negative connotation, is because of their affiliation with children. If people were great friends in elementary school, one could say they were “best buds.” If a father is talking to his son, he can justly use the word to say “son, come over here”. The words are often not used to talk about a mature party in the present tense. Therefore, calling someone “bud” is akin to calling them an “immature six year old who cries to his mommy when he doesn’t get his way.”

If you happen to be of sound mind and body yet have somehow gotten caught up in this vortex of negativeness, it’s not too late. Acceptable alternatives include but are not limited to: bro, bruh, dude, duuuuuuuude, man, hombre, brother, or brotha. When in doubt of the social situation, just call the person by name. Lastly, to get someone’s attention if you don’t know their name, do not point out something obnoxiously obvious about them. Saying, “hey, person with the huge muscles, can you pass me a pencil?” Is a big no-no. After posing this question, the dude with the big muscles clearly knows that you do not know his name despite having spent four months in a classroom with him. So just stick to an acceptable alternative.

Should underclassmen go to prom?

The upperclassmen vs underclassmen debate

by Tara Higgins

Prom has always been a junior-senior event. With that being said, many underclassmen attend after being asked by their older classmates, a privilege that they deserve to exercise–but only under those circumstances.

As plans for prom ensue, and groups continue to fight over everything from where to go to dinner to how is everyone getting where, many underclassmen have invited themselves to this glorious affair. If mixed-grade friend groups are all going in one huge group, they must include the freshmen and sophomores, right? Well, no. Solo girls and guys have no place at a dance current juniors and seniors have waited two and three years to attend.

If you think about it logically, only upperclassmen get official invitations to prom. If a senior guy wants to take a sophomore girl as his guest, so be it. But if prom were like homecoming and all grades were allowed to attend, then prom would lose the special quality that makes it the much anticipated event that it is.

Last year as a sophomore, I had the opportunity to attend as a “photographer” for prom, following along with the “Blue Carpet Affair” theme at Infinity Park. Although I wasn’t able to go anyway, I didn’t want to. As many junior and senior friends as I had at the time, there was nothing fun about the idea of watching them all enjoy a fantastic night when I knew I would just feel out of place. I didn’t feel like I deserved the “right” to go to prom, and decided to continue to stick it out until this year when I could go all out–guiltlessly (except for the financial burden, of course).

“As a person who went to prom their sophomore year with an upperclassman date, I think it’s fair for me to say that I think only underclassmen who get asked should go,” junior Madeleine Kriech said.

“You have a date? Chill. You are going for fun? Back off,” she said.

It was that simple. Just because all your friends are going doesn’t mean you can automatically tag along.

But most importantly, prom is a privilege. It is a grander affair than the other school dances and requires a certain air of dignity and elegance that you don’t necessarily get with the whole school–and more immature freshmen and sophomores–around. Each grade has its “thing,” and for the next two years, prom is ours.

Ukrainian Prime Minister has Resigned

by Alec Thomas

The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arsenly Yatsenyuk, resigned from his position on Sunday, April 10 after constant pressure to make changes to what was the Soviet-bloc nation.

The Ukrainian government has been overrun by war, corruption, and economic struggles, and this former Prime Minister has lost support from his own nation and was told by Petro Proshenko, the current President of Ukraine, to resign. Public opinion polls even showed that Yatsenyuk’s support was as low as 1% of the entire population.

“I thank our nation, society, civil society activists, volunteers; I thank each and every one of you for your endurance and patience,” said Yatsenyuk. “As of today my goals are broader: new electoral law, constitutional reform, judicial reform, Ukraine’s membership in the EU and NATO.”

Yatsenyuk was an opposition leader during 2014 when massive protests assisted in driving the Russian President, Viktor Yanukovych, from power. Yanukovych had been viewed as slowing Ukraine’s economic march toward the West. But his resignation sparked a revolution in Moscow, and within weeks Russia took Crimea.

Ukrainian leaders have attempted to implement economic and political changes. Ukraine created a more professional national police force, closed banks that were linked to money laundering, and cut subsidies for electric and gas service.

Last Sunday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Yatsenyuk to thank him for his efforts “during a historic time for Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement. Biden and Yatsenyuk agreed on the importance of assembling a new set of leaders, or a cabinet, committed to reforms for the European Union.

A High Schooler’s Guide to Being Chill

I’ve adopted a new mantra and I highly recommend trying it out.

by Madeleine Kriech

High school is full of stress and anxiety, and many students succumb to the pressure. That person used to be me. I am currently in three AP classes, I have no off periods, and I am in numerous after school clubs and activities. Being stressed all the time is no fun, speaking from experience. One day, during spring break, I realized that I’m wasting my days in high school. Why waste my time being stressed about things that I can’t even control; like a test I finished a week ago, or a homework assignment that I left at school? To me that’s not worth it. Here’s my guide to going with the flow. It’s pretty simple if you allow yourself to just take a breath and relax.

Take a step back

Everyday we are consumed with assignments and tests and life drama. It can be a lot to take in and comprehend when it’s in your face all the time. First, I want you to make a list of everything you have to do, and I mean everything–inside of school or out. It can be something as big as a test, or something as simple as doing the laundry, but no matter what it is, you need to write it down. Then I want you to order them by due date. If the test is on Friday and it’s a Monday, you can put that lower on your agenda, but if you have no clean underwear, you should do laundry that second. Which leads me to the second step…

Don’t procrastinate

Procrastination is one of the easiest ways to add stress to your life. If you have something on your agenda that takes three minutes, put down your phone, turn off the tv, and do it. I had to learn this the hard way. I was going to New York for college visits and I kept putting off registering for the tours. Then, when I finally got around to it, the tours were full. You could say that I had a break down, but it made me realize that enough is enough– I’m done putting things off until the last minute. If your agenda has small little activities that take less than an hour I want you to get them done right when you think of them. Utilize every minute of your day. That doesn’t mean frantically running around like a crazy person trying to get things done. It means don’t waste four hours on your phone or watching Netflix.

Relax

Speaking of utilizing all of your time, some of your time needs to be spent on yourself. I recommend finding an activity that you really enjoy, like playing with your dog, reading a book, or painting, and doing this in your free time. With the busy life teenagers lead, we need some time to ourselves. Also, take the time to finish things that you’ve put on the back burner for a long time. My example would be that I had four broken necklaces that needed to fixed forever, and I finally stopped putting it off and did it. It was relaxing to have finally finished a task that I had been dreading.

Forgive yourself

Although you have an agenda, that doesn’t always mean you’ll stick to it. Life is unpredictable, and things pop up all the time. Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends instead of doing a 10 point, formative assignment– that’s okay. Don’t strain yourself to be perfect. Maybe you forgot to finish a worksheet for homework, don’t spend the rest of the day feeling stressed out about it. What’s done is done. You can’t go back to last night. Just forgive yourself and carry on with your life.

Be happy

I know this sounds stupid and cliche, but I’m serious. Laugh more, smile more, be with people who make you happy. This small change can make a big difference. Don’t let friend drama tear apart your spirit. Friends are supposed to make you feel good; if they don’t, they aren’t a true friend. High school flies by and you need to spend time with people who you enjoy. As I’m coming to the end of my junior year, I keep thinking about all my senior friends going to college, which made me realize that I wanted to spend more time with them before they leave. Also, the fact that I’ll be in their shoes next year scared me; I want to make the most of high school, and now the end is coming closer and faster. Just being happy will soothe your mind and de-stress your soul.

The “chill” montra I have embodied has truly changed my life. In a short period of time I have become a go-with-the-flow human rather than a high-strung, tightly-wound robot. I am getting more out of each day and starting to truly feel comfortable in my own skin. Being chill is different for everyone. It might take longer for some of you to totally embrace this concept. Some of you probably think you might not ever be able to embrace this concept because you are too high strung, but trust me, you really need to let go. Stress is not worth it– high school stress is definitely not worth it. Yes, there is college and tests and teachers, but none of that is worth a stressed and frantic life. Be calm and live on.

Daylight Saving or Daylight Wasting?

After setting my clock forward, I realized that daylight savings time is just a pain in the, well everything.

by Madeleine Kriech

Daylight savings is a waste of my time–literally and figuratively. I miss the hour between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. each year in early March. This year I happened to be at a cast party for the musical, Cinderella. Because of teenage angst and the caffeine I was loaded with, I went to bed at 5 a.m. March 13, which, without daylight savings, was 4 a.m., a much more reasonable hour.

Let’s look at daylight savings through the lens of history. First of all, it’s daylight saving time. Not daylight savings time. Second of all, ol’ Ben Franklin did not introduce the idea–William Willett did. In 1916, Germany was the first country to implement daylight saving time in order to conserve energy during World War I. However, later studies conclude that what we save in light energy, we make up for in air conditioning. So really, the original point of daylight saving (DLS) time isn’t even valid! Also, DLS does not benefit farmers. Since they go off the sun, not relative time, they must wait an extra hour to start the harvest. Now you might be thinking, “well the whole world does it so we should too,” but, once again, you’d be wrong. Only one quarter of the world participates in DLS. Not even half! And if Albert Einstein is right, and time is relative, then why does it matter, anyway?

I could go into more statistics and talk about how DLS causes more car accidents and that our internal clocks are thrown off and all that fun stuff, but the reality is, DLS is just an old and grown-out idea. Over 100 years later and one quarter of the world still hasn’t got a clue. Why keep old ideas when the new world is becoming more innovative and advanced? As I like to say, out with the old and in with the new. I’m sure people all around the world would appreciate the extra hour of sleep in early March. Until then, I guess we will continue to be late to school or work because we forgot to set our clocks forward.

Three Weeks to a Five

AP testing is right around the corner and teachers and their students are getting their game face on

by Tara Higgins and Madeleine Kriech

As of right now, the first AP exam is 21 days away. Teachers are already preparing their students for the exam and taking time out of class to study. On the other hand, it really depends on the student to determine how much they have studied.

“I haven’t started preparing for the AP test yet, but I plan to focus on the vocab that we have been learning throughout the year and getting together with my friends for cram sessions,” AP Psych student junior Chloe Daniel said.

Teachers can only do so much to prepare their students for the rigorous exams. As a college course, students are expected to know a lot of information about that subject. No one knows exactly what will be on the test, but teachers are doing their best to assume.

Students are taking practice tests and practicing released free response questions. I am offering before and after school study sessions during the four weeks prior to the exam,” AP Calculus teacher Cynthia Henderson said.

It is in the student’s best interests to attend these sessions and to do some exam prep on their own. However, as to be expected, some students won’t be doing extra prep work. Maybe none at all. There are those, thankfully, that do their part to help them excel on the test.

“They stress about the unknown…not knowing what you don’t know,” AP Biology teacher Sandi Gregston said. “There sometimes is no way to overcome the anxiety that comes with test taking. To me, that shows kids care.”

On many occasions, AP teachers have told their kids not to cram (ironically, many hold “cram for the exam” study sessions, but that isn’t meant to be the first time you’ve studied). They recommend studying a little each night, depending on how much you need to study before the test.

“The best way to overcome the stress is to do everything the teacher recommends for review,” Henderson said.

Many classes are planning on doing a mock test right before the exam. Some teachers have decided that the mock will count for part or all of the student’s final grade. As exam week comes closer, more and more students will pull out their textbooks and get to studying.

I enjoyed being pushed as a teacher,” Henderson said. “My students did a nice job of asking the hard questions and going deeper into tough concepts.”