Category Archives: Opinion

Should the Redskins Change their Name?

In the last two years, a hot topic in the sports world and in mainstream society has been whether the Washington Redskins should change their name. I would say no.

Now there’s no way of getting around it; the term “Redskin” was once a slur toward Native Americans and had a negative connotation to it.  The term has been out of use since the 1960s except as team names. It is considered taboo to use in modern society where we are supposedly over bigotry. It has been debated  whether or not the term was initially intended for all Native Americans or just tribes who used red face paint.  The majority of people today consider it a racial epithet but others feel the term has become harmless.

Despite apparent disinterest from Shelley, Dan Snyder has developed a good rapport with Navajo Nation
Despite apparent disinterest from Shelley, Dan Snyder has developed a good rapport with Navajo Nation

Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, has long been an outspoken owner. Recently, while some schools and colleges have bowed to pressure to change their team names, he has held a very public stand against a name change. He has immense pressure on him to change the team name. He has put up a firm resistance, arguing that the team’s first coach, William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, was a Native American and the team was named to honor his heritage. He has also pointed out that Walter “Blackie” Wetzel, a former president of the National Congress of American Indians and chairman of the Blackfeet Nation, helped design and approve the team’s logo. “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps,” he told USA Today.

But Snyder has also made some statements that have hurt his case. Among other things, he once claimed something along the lines of “We have this name out of respect for Native Americans,” which angered many Native American groups who equate the term “Redskins” with the N-word. The Washington Redskins trademark was pulled by some self-righteous government officials who must’ve thought they were going to be received as heroes or something. President Obama, a sports enthusiast, butted in with his two cents, saying “I would think about changing the name.” He was quick to back off, though, by reconfirming he isn’t a team owner and has no stake in the matter. There have been boycotts and protests for several years now. It hurts Redskins’ sales that their licensing isn’t exclusive.  Lots of papers refuse to print the name anymore.

Other individuals and groups have taken their own  stands on smaller scales. Neshaminy High School in Pennsylvania also has sports teams called Redskins. The school paper has refused to print the term. Eventually, the principal and School Committee applied tremendous pressure to have them use the name. Suspensions were doled out, including to a former Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year who backed the students. In my opinion everyone involved in the school skirmish came out looking foolish. I mean come on, it’s your school’s mascot. The team members probably don’t  make fun of Native Americans; your district didn’t choose the name to slight them; and a lot of members at your school are probably indifferent. So just because one might have a personal problem with it isn’t a reason for this whole clash to occur. However, the school administrators looked juvenile in their handling of the matter, using threats and constantly complaining.

A lot of college teams have faced similar problems. North Dakota, infamous for the mascot “Sioux,” had to change its name or the NCAA would ban them from postseason play. Other schools have had to do similar things. Yet the Florida State Seminoles and Central Michigan Chippewas use their mascot names with support from the tribes themselves.

Recently, the Comedy Central TV show South Park made a huge mockery of the Redskins football organization.  In an episode where Cartman and his friends want to start a company, they end up with the name Washington Redskins because their trademark had been pulled. Dan Snyder throws a conniption after they start to soil the Redskins name, which leads Cartman to deliver the line, “We use the name out of respect for your organization and all you’ve done.” It did a good job mocking the Redskins and presented some reasons why the name is a problem.

But back to real life. The key word is indifference. All these sanctimonious people who are making this big stink are under the impression that it matters. In reality, it appears Native Americans and sports fans alike wish they’d just go away. Dan Snyder made a huger power move recently when the president of Navajo Nation, a powerful tribe based out west, sat with him in his private box at a Redskins home game. A 2013 Associated Press-GfK poll showed that “Redskins” still enjoys widespread support nationally.  Nearly four in five Americans don’t think the team should change its name, the survey found. Only 11 percent think it should be changed, while 8 percent weren’t sure and 2 percent didn’t answer. In a current ESPN Sportsnation poll, 71 percent of fans support the team keeping its name. A couple of Native American high schools proudly have “Redskins” as their mascot. So who do these people think they’re helping? What do Native Americans gain out of a name change? Not much, maybe some self pride but nothing palpable to counter the poverty, alcoholism and other issues plaguing tribes  across the country. Native Americans have bigger fish to fry then a pro sports team in which as whole they are divided on.

As a Hanover High School Student, I am proud to have “Indians” as our mascot. I remember a time when the rumor around town was were going to become the “Skyhawks” and I’m glad we didn’t. I don’t care if it is politically correct to say Native  American. Hanover as a town doesn’t use the term Indians as a slight or stereotype in any way. In my opinion, people who go through Hanover are proud to have done so. There is a lot of Indian pride in our town and it would be that way most likely even if the name changed. But there is no need for a change. People in Hanover genuinely like the Indian mascot.

I think the same thing applies to the Washington Redskins fans. Redskins fans are notoriously among the best in the NFL. Especially in the pas,t they were known for being the most wild. They are proud to be Redskins fans. They have worn face paint and headdresses to games to support the teams. They never mean any injustice to Native American heritage and I think a lot of rational people realize this. The Redskins logo is one of the coolest in the NFL. Their fan base doesn’t want their traditions and their pride to be ruined. I think a lot of fans, like a lot of Americans, realize Native Americans have been wronged throughout history. That’s why they don’t support what the term once meant. They are just supporting the team on the field. That’s why there’s no need to change the name. I think American Indians are jumping on this movement because they need something to jump onto, and the Redskins are being made the sacrificial lamb. I believe Dan Snyder will hold strong and I’ll be proud of him. Let me make this clear, if Hanover ever tries to change their mascot for a similar reason, you’ll find my name atop the petition against it. There’s just no need for change when it’s not a problem.

 

 

 

 

Should students be allowed to use cell phones in school?

 

Absolutely they should, phones are a part of our world, they are useful tools, and students use them anyway. If you were to walk through a public space, regardless of where, you will most likely see people using their cell phones. They are everywhere, absolutely everywhere, and they are not going away. According to Pew Research’s article, released in January of 2014, 90 percent of adults own a cellphone. Obviously cell phones are everywhere and a part of adult life, so shouldn’t schools prepare students for use with them as they do with anything else in life? Schools could teach students how to use cell phones respectfully, how to moderate usage, and how to not get into trouble with them. Students should be taught  social etiquette with these devices, such as not using cell phones while someone else is talking, or during a class lecture. Why not teach kids about the times they can use their cell phones respectively? During the free moments in class and times of boredom, there should be no reason why a student should not be allowed to use their phone. Teachers who have a stigma against the usage of cell phones should adapt to the changing world and technology in school the same way they have in the real world. Students should also be taught to safely use their cell phones, understanding there are risks that come with them. We should be educated on how to change our phone’s settings to make certain aspects anonymous, and we should be taught certain important facts, like phones aren’t as safe from viruses as computers. Students need to know the precautions about what they send and with which apps, so that they understand what is safe and what is risky. Most importantly, students should be taught how to use their phones as the invaluable tools that they are.

If students were instructed on how to find reliable information quickly and easily using their phones during English class, research papers could become a breeze-through item in daily class. Students could also be shown how to use their phones in science classes to instantly create data tables and graphs right on Google Drive, without ever having to use an individual computer. Understanding the ins and outs of smart phones could make school and workplace tasks easier. This is especially important.  In the workplace you are expected to have knowledge of your phone and be able to use it competently for practical uses. Whether its making conference calls or sending out an email blast, you need to be self-sufficient in using your phone, and no employer wants the person who can’t keep up with the rapid pace of technology.

Finally, students use their cell phones anyway, so why not just simply allow them to? Why should we punish students and give them detentions for using their phones in class? How does this help them learn more productively? Sure, by taking away their phones you prevent them from being distracted by them, but would this serve any real purpose to their learning? All that this teaches them is that their lives will be controlled and that they will have no responsibility for their own actions. People need to learn that if they don’t pay attention and use their phones instead, then they are the only ones to blame; don’t make it the teachers’ responsibility.

This all leaves us at a sort of tipping point: do we allow people to get punished for doing wrong, or do we preemptively ban any possible wrongdoing? I say we let people make their own decisions as we try to get them ready for the job market.

Let’s Talk About Stress, Baby

Many students my age have been frequently told that we have nothing to worry about. Teachers, parents, coaches, or whoever tell us that we are just kids. We supposedly have it easy. We do not have mortgages to pay, or a nine to five job. We get summers off, we go to football games, we sometimes cause a little trouble, and we have fun doing it. The only thing we have to focus on is being young and wild and free. (Or at least that’s how the song goes.) We should have nothing to stress over, right? Wrong.

Let’s start with grades. It is no secret that career opportunities are not currently running rampant through the streets of the US. In the “good old days,” you only needed a degree to land a reasonable paying job, but now graduates are having a tougher and tougher time finding a job. Now, in order to land our dream career, we not only need to have a college degree, but this degree has to be from a top notch university if we want to compete with all the other job-hungry graduates out there. This naturally leads to the question of how do we get into these remarkable academic schools? By having a distinguished transcript, of course. For that reason, most high school students push themselves to get good grades so they can make it into one of these prestigious colleges.

It would be manageable if the only thing we needed to stress over were grades, but they are no longer enough in the era of the “well rounded student.” You may ask, “What is a well rounded student?” It is commonly defined as a high schooler who in addition to having exemplary grades plays at least two different sports, is probably captain of one of those sports, holds an office position in student council, stars in the school play, twirls the flags in the marching band’s color guard, and spends all of his or her spare time volunteering at the nearby homeless shelter. While high school students do not need to pay a mortgage or go to a nine to five job, they do have to try to schedule time between soccer practices and play rehearsals to finish their homework. Homework is important because if it is not completed correctly it could deflate your grade in that class. If you do poorly on the homework and subsequently your classes, then you will not have a well paying job to support your future family. And then all of the hours spent cooking soup for the homeless while writing your speech for class treasurer and twirling flags until your fingers were numb were a total waste because your dream school cannot get by those grades.

Is Science Fair Going Extinct?

For years Hanover High School has had a highly attended school Science Fair. Yet this year it has come to the attention of a few of the students at our school, and myself, that there will be no Science Fair this year as far as we can tell. Science is a fundamental thing that we need, something that does take some work getting kids interested in, and what better way than the School Science Fair?

The Science Fair at HHS has previously been a mandatory thing for all honors courses, something that truly makes sense when you consider the experience one gains through doing a Science Fair, but recently this has been pushed away. As the years progressed, I assume that at some point it was decided that to have already burdened honors students do a Science Fair was something that was too demanding. From this it was decided that the only students who would have to do a Science Fair would be the freshman honors  students, and with a class of more than 150 every year, this wielded a sizable number of participants. Yet due to the freshman honors Biology teacher’s medical complications in 2012, the long-term substitute at the time did not enforce that the students would be required to make a Science Fair project. However, as one of the attending members at that Science Fair, I can attest to the fact that there was a very sizable amount of students who participated.

The following year, however, is where the Science Fair really ran into its first real problems, starting with one simple change to the student handbook not requiring honors science class students to attend the Science Fair. To put it plainly this Science Fair had a measly attendance. There were so few projects that HHS was able to have the Science Fair held inside the Library. There were less than 20 projects, not at all a reasonable thing. Now to make matters worse, we HHS students have no way to attend a Science Fair this year at all. The previous teacher who ran Science Fair, Mr. Newton, is far too busy this year with the arrival of a new baby in his family, and this is acceptable obviously. However every Science teacher I talk to says that they are not going to run the Science Fair either. Now I know many of you might not particularly think that Science Fair is a thing that is really all that important but let me assure you that it truly is.

Have you ever heard of STEM? STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These are fields, according to Rodney C. Adkins, senior vice president of IBM’s Systems & Technology Group, in which we desperately need more students. His reasoning is that while only 5 percent of U.S. workers are employed in STEM fields, STEM fields at the same time make up about 50 percent of our sustained economic expansion. Now knowing this, consider the fact that only 15 percent of the world’s scientists and engineers reside in the United States. Beginning to see my argument? The California Science Teacher’s Association has said that “Science projects prepare students for life.” This is important… REALLY important. Science Fair projects give students the kind of hands on, energizing science exposure that they need to gain a lifelong interest in science. Hanover High School students need to learn the 21st century problem solving skills that doing Science Fair Projects can teach them in order to be successful for life.

A point which has been thrown about by some of the STEM teachers in the building is that we run a Science Fair this year, but non-officially. I say that this is a terrible idea. Doing Science Fair shows students the real world competition of life, that if you don’t work hard on something and innovate enough, your idea will not be always the best one. Competition is a fundamental aspect of the Science Fair. The fact that students will be judged not only by their peers, but also by the rest of the state is an idea that drives students to put their absolute maximum effort into their Science Fair projects. Truly it is undeniable that the Science Fair is an important thing for the HHS students to have the option to experience in their high school career.

I know that this year we may still have the Science Fair, and truly I hope that we do because I strongly believe that Science Fair is something that increases the education of the average student beyond that which a classroom can. I think that we at HHS owe it to ourselves to show that we are the quintessence of studious life, that we are dedicated to things that are demanding yet rewarding, and that we are among the best and brightest minds of generation. We can do all this through the innovation and academic ability we demonstrate through our Science Fair.

Teens Must Look Beyond Media’s Narrow Definition of Beauty

As an American society we are constantly being pounded with media. It is in front of us, on our laps and in our pockets. The problem with this is that we are provided with examples of what to buy, how to live, how to treat others and one of the most important, how we should look. Although this is difficult pressure for all of America, I believe that this pressure is increased for the high school population. This portion of our country is trying to find out who they are and are seriously susceptible to the media messages that are surrounding all of us. Teenagers frequently are being told what beautiful is, and this beautiful is something only attainable to a miniscule portion of the population.

dremilymassey.com
dremilymassey.com

This leaves the rest of us on the outside, with the terrible belief that whatever we have isn’t beauty. Body image can be a problem for both boys and girls, but I’m going to focus on how it affects teenage girls in particular because that’s the experience I have lived.

It truly is everywhere. On television, the pretty, thin girls play the love interest. They are the leading ladies that we root for and, quite honestly, wish we were more like. The non-supermodel girls
are typically the ones that play the quirky best friend. Sometimes they will get the leading lady role.  However, this is just about always in a comedy or a story about how the boy looked past how the girl
looked on the outside. So what’s that supposed to tell us? Our only hope of that dream guy falling for us is that he may somehow choose our plainness over the other girl’s beauty? Basically, this is just
reinforcing the idea that we are not beautiful.

In a similar manner, the fashion world has plus-sized models. These women, despite their beauty, are placed into a separate group from the other beautiful women. So separate, that they need to have their own magazines and stores. I don’t know about you, but when I walk through a mall I only see stores with skinny girls advertising clothing. It is rare that I see a store that has plus-sized models. This is once again showing teenagers the correct way to look.

I can clearly see how this is affecting the girls at Hanover High School. I frequently hear girls complaining about their (perfectly healthy) weight. Even more, I see girls questioning why they can’t look like someone else. From personal experience I can say that seeing oneself as inferior to the next girl is one of the worst and most painful ways to lower your own self-esteem. I can remember this feeling. It gives a deep pain in the back of your stomach that lasts all day. All day, through the hunger from refusing to eat lunch and it later accompanies the overwhelming guilt when lunch is made up for
with after school snacks.

Plus-size model Robyn Lawley
Plus-size model Robyn Lawley

This needs to stop and this can be stopped, thanks to plus-sized model Robyn Lawley, who is breaking many barriers by being the first curvy model to appear in several major magazines such as Vogue, GQ, and Elle. Through her work and that of several other models, including Mia Tyler (daughter of Aerosmith singer Steven and actress Liv), the media can perhaps one day change to show that there is more than one kind of beauty.

mia-tyler-01
Mia Tyler

Until that day, it is up to us teenage girls to fight against these predetermined definitions of beauty. If there is anything certain about beauty it is that it is subjective. No one has the right, or the true ability to rate the way we look. That job is up to ourselves. We need to have faith that we are absolutely, unquestionably, utterly,
stunning, because we are. I promise.

“Through The Victim’s Eyes:” Play From the Heart

Recently, as a part of my Senior Humanities project, I wrote an original play portraying what it feels like for the average kid who is bullied either on a daily basis, or to the point where he breaks and loses all rational thought. Yes, this is somewhat common among children. I have read that at least 14 percent of kids end up committing suicide because they cannot handle the animosity that comes with their bullies. Think about that for a moment. I was shocked when I read that statistic as well.

The play itself wasn’t a total burden to write, but I just felt exhausted at one point. Saying that I didn’t want to write it anymore, seeing as how it sucked almost all of my positive energy out of me. But, obviously, I didn’t let this get to me as I continued to write it. Most insults that I used for one character, I found online. And they were all incredibly hurtful. Reading them to myself before I placed them into the character’s dialogue made me sick. What was worse?

Studies show that 58 percent of bullying happens out of revenge, or the bully thinks that the victim deserves it. That made me lose a bit of sanity inside of myself, as I ranted for at least a half hour about how angry it made me. Who deserves the animosity that comes with some people? The vicious hatred? No one. But, apparently, in this world, people think that others need to be bullied. And you know what? It made me reflect as well. I was bullied before, and I never chose to do anything about it.

Yes. I have been in this sort of position. Not to where I would want to commit suicide . . . Not even close. But, to where I didn’t want to go to school? To where I hated looking at myself? Yes. Last year was the worst for me. Because I was different (and had a pretty cool low voice), people called me all types of things. Each of them made my self esteem crumble down. But then, I realized . . . What do their petty words matter to me? Absolutely nothing.

It’s a horrible experience, and I commend you if you’re staying rather strong through it. No one wants to be bullied, but people think that you might deserve it.

Why did I call this a play from the heart? Well, like I said, I’ve been bullied. So, in a way, I can connect with the character in my play. Again, nowhere near committing suicide, but hating myself day after day. So, do me a favor before you bully somebody . . . Think about how much your words could really hurt someone else.

Sticks and Stones? That’s a lie. Words are etched in forever.

App Crossed Line Between Joking and Bullying

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I am sure that I am not the only student sick of it, sick of the constant lecturing on bullying.  Always, teachers, guidance counselors, and outside “specialists” having us sit together in large groups and listen to the definition of “cyber bullying,” and what it means to be a “responsible bystander.”  By now, I have begun to tune out these lectures.  This is not because I think that bullying isn’t something important to discuss, but because it has been approached in the same black and white manner since I’ve been in the third grade.  Another reason I’m turned off by these lectures is because they clearly are not working.  A few weeks ago I witnessed the biggest display of bullying that I’ve seen in all my years in Hanover schools.  Through the app Yik Yak, things were said about students that were so revolting that I cannot even discuss them now.

 Recently I had discussed this issue with Dr. Raab, who made the decision to get the police involved in the matter.  My first question for him was what, in particular, made him call the police.  He responded by saying that he wanted to be sure he could trace the posts back to the phones they came from.  This would become even more of a necessity if the situation escalated, like it did in a high school in Marblehead, Mass. There, a bomb threat posted on the website caused a school-wide evacuation.  Other schools across the country have reported bullying with the app as well. Dr. Raab wanted to be sure that this would not happen at Hanover.  Additionally, I had asked him how he felt these posts effected the environment of the school.  He said that it caused to students to become paranoid.  Paranoid that someone was posting about them or that they would be caught for what they posted. 

For me, there were several things that seriously upset me about the day this notorious yak came charging into our school.  First of all, I was disturbed by how other students reacted to the posts.  Of course, there were many who were as troubled as I was about the day’s proceedings, but I was perturbed by the number of students that thought it was merely something to laugh about.  When it was discussed in class and others could see that I was upset by it, many of them turned to me and said, “Oh my God, you need to learn how to take a joke.”  It is not a joke and this kind of viewpoint is what makes this kind of bullying a frequent thing.  As they laugh, it’s giving power to whatever insanity was posted on the feed.  Lastly, whoever wrote those kinds of things on the Yik Yak wall must not understand what it does to people when they read posts like that about themselves.  I can’t imagine them writing it if they did.  They could not have known that it would send a girl home from school crying, a girl who isn’t able to tell her mom why she’s crying because she is too ashamed to say what others are saying about her.  They definitely could not have known about the boy who would dread going to school because he knows what people are going to think as he passes by.  If they did know what they were doing, then that is a cruelty that I’m not sure I can understand.

New Year, New You: New Year’s Resolutions at HHS

When Christmas is over and the final seconds of 2013 have passed, everyone partakes in a classic tradition: the New Year’s Resolution. It is that time of year again where everyone strives to set goals for themselves to accomplish during the year ahead, and people make promises that they hope to fulfill before the next New Year’s countdown. These resolutions can contain anything from a distant dream somebody finally hopes to reach, or a simple task one wants to begin incorporating into their daily habits. Some even want to start the new year off with a new way of thinking, or by adopting a new trait that they are trying to weave into their personality. The endless ideas behind New Year’s resolutions are truly unique- they only depend on an individual’s mind, and are only limited by what we think to be the limits of possibility. New Year’s resolutions can really provide a glimpse into people’s minds, and what better way to gain insight into someone’s thoughts than asking them about their goals for the new year?

Hanover High School students gave up a variety of answers when asked about their New Year’s resolution. Jamie Knight, a freshman, said “I want to be more friendly and be more social.” Junior Sara White resolves to “do more things that make me happy.” Emily Hennessy, a sophomore, jokingly had to say, “Mine is to actually study and do my work considering my midterm grades…and get a higher score in Flappy Bird.” Bryan Connors, a junior, decided “to stop procrastinating,” a goal I’m sure many other students could relate to.

Overall, the students of Hanover High School seem to be excited for the upcoming year, whether for improving their grades or checking something off their bucket list. This new year will be a big year and I wish the best of luck to everyone and their future New Years endeavors.

Snow Days: One Senior says BRING IT ON!

By Sean Meehan

When it comes to snow, myself, and the rest of the Senior class, for the first time in years, are all down on our knees praying, that’s right, PRAYING for as many snow days as possible. Why, you ask? Simple, the Senior class here at HHS is the one group of individuals in the entire school district that does not have to make up any snow days, regardless of how many we may have this winter. I have waited years for this winter, and now it has arrived. In conclusion, in response to your question “What is your opinion on snow?”, I say….BRING IT ON!

snow day2
The view from Mrs. McHugh’s door on Jan.3, 2014.
Photo by Mrs. McHugh
Mrs. McHugh’s husband shovels out their driveway on Jan. 3, 2014.

Virtual High School: For Independent Students

By Calley Madison

Photo by Mrs. McHugh
Calley works on her VHS course in the library.

Here at HHS, we offer a program called “Virtual High School.” Virtual High School classes are for classes either not offered at HHS, or classes you wish to take in place of classes for school.  There are math, science, English, humanities courses and language courses. There are college level, honors and AP. In the fall, I took a course called “Career Awareness,” which helped me learn about the profession I am interested in, and soon I will be starting “Contemporary Issues in American Law and Justice.”

The class is entirely online and you get one period a day in the library to do the work, but it is not as easy as it sounds. The classes can have a wide variety of work, from barely any to an overwhelming amount, and you need to be very on task and work well with time. You see, each assignment is due by a certain day, and if you post late, points will be deducted. The assignments can be essays, group projects, discussion posts or just word searches but either way, your teachers look for the effort you put in.

If you get behind for some reason, you can let your teacher know — my VHS teacher, Mrs. Allen, gave us her e-mail, cell phone and home phone number — and you can access the course from home. Yes, the VHS website can be accessed from any computer  with just your username and password.

Your classmates are one of the most interesting parts of VHS. Your classmates can be from anywhere all around the world. I have people from Romania, Turkey, England, Washington, Florida and Massachusetts in my class. You can message these people and  learn many things about them, where they live, and how it differs from us here at HHS. You also discuss topics with them and work together on some projects.

I really enjoy taking VHS classes because I am very on-top-of-things and organized, also because it really makes me feel as if I am learning better. The VHS courses are challenging, they expect you to manage your own time, stay organized, and take tests and quizzes like real classes. I would certainly take another VHS class in the future, not because it’s a relaxed atmosphere, but simply because I learn better alone and managing all my own things on my own time.

A VHS class is not for everyone. If you are easily distracted, disorganized, and do not work well with a deadline, you’re going to feel trapped and overwhelmed. In this circumstance, risk is not always the best choice, and you should talk to the librarian, guidance counselor, and parents before trying to enroll in a class.