The Impatient Patient: Reduced, heightened expectations pressure minority students

Racial stereotypes have been proven to invoke reduced expectations and heightened pressures for students in affected groups. Not only that, but these racial stereotypes also contribute to the achievement gap, or set of disparities in testing scores, between Asian and white students versus non-Asian minorities, according to the National Education Association.

As diverse and accepting of a campus HHS is, it is still not spared from this issue. According to an editorial done in print issue four of The Epitaph, the racial makeup of HHS (73 percent being Asian or Caucasian, 27 percent other) is not consistent in AP and honors level classes.

The achievement gap is not limited to distinctions between different racial groups but also gender and socioeconomic factors. According to an article in US News, the achievement gap between black and white students has improved little over the last 50 years.

Previously, 87 percent of white students in their senior year of high school outscored black students also in their senior year. According to the article, black students placed in the 13th percentile of the score distribution for their white counterparts.

Currently, black students place in the 19th percentile. It has been estimated that should these low rates of change continue, the gap in mathematics between the two groups will be closed only after two and a half centuries. The fact that black students have to wait 250 years for the gap to be closed is ridiculous.

Nationwide, black and Hispanic children account for 37 percent of students. Within this 37 percent, only 27 percent take at least one AP class. Location is another factor in this disparity. Black, Hispanic and Native American students are more likely to live in areas with schools that do not offer advanced courses.

According to a study done by School Psychology Quarterly, teachers viewed black students with lowered expectations and disproportionately refer black students to special education and disciplinary action as compared to their white counterparts. Regardless of high academic standing, black students were given less attention.

Students who are victims of this bias have not only been found to have lower grades, but also a lowered motivation to excel.

The stereotype of black students as “troublemakers” manifests in harsher punishments are doled out by teachers after two infractions due to the belief that this bad behavior is likely to continue. Black students are therefore three times more likely to be suspended and expelled.

If a student is continually led to believe that academic success is not inherent in their racial identity, how can they be motivated to exceed academically? Not to mention, if a student is placed with lowered expectations immediately, it is harder to deviate from these ingrained expectations.

For black and Hispanic youth, the desires to prove stereotypes wrong, or even simply the knowledge of these stereotypes, causes the body to produce more stress hormones as a form of a “coping mechanism.”

According to a study done by Educational Theory, the resilience within successful black students to overcome negative stereotypes manifests into a greater issue of a mental health crisis.

According to the author, “black students work themselves to the point of extreme illness in [an] attempt to escape the constant threat of perceived intellectual inferiority.”

A phenomenon dubbed the “stereotype threat” describes the impact of stereotypes on a student’s development of their identity and intellect. Black students were found to underperform on tests that were not “diagnostic of intellectual ability” due to the “priming” of negative racial stereotypes. Asian students were found to have lowered concentration skills and performance on quantitative skills test due to the “priming” of so-called positive stereotypes such as their presumed adeptness in mathematics.

Moreover, although Asian Americans are not negatively impacted by the achievement gap, racial stereotypes still come into play. Asian American students were viewed as “cooperative” and more successful academically, as per the “model minority” stereotype.

The model minority myth is described as a “cultural expectation” on Asian Americans. Perhaps the most detrimental aspect of the myth is the assumption that Asian Americans are never in need of assistance. The impacts of this is that Asian Americans are less likely to report issues of stress and hopeless feelings, yet not seek help from a counselor.

Asian Americans may be successful (for example, compared to their white counterparts, Asian Americans have a higher percentage of individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher) but these high-achieving statistics mask groups who do not reflect the ideals of the model minority stereotype imposed upon them.

Teachers have been found to be three times more likely to expect their Asian American students to go to college. But 10 percent of Laotian Americans, 13 percent of Hmong Americans and 16 percent of Cambodian Americans in California have some of the lowest attainment of college degrees. In addition, Hmong and Cambodian Americans live in poverty at higher rates than black and Hispanic individuals. These statistics are said to be masked by Chinese and Indian Americans, and as such, is not an accurate reflection of Asian Americans.

As an article in The Atlantic puts it, “The consequences are classrooms where Asian students not excelling in math are seen as an oddity, and black students excelling in math are seen as an outlier.” The stereotypes placed onto these two groups have very real effects, and are more than just unfortunate statistics.

There are countless students who feel as though they may never amount to anything, or inversely, students who feel inadequate because they do not fit into the “mold” of what is expected.

Asian and black individuals are on opposite ends of a spectrum where negative stereotypes are place on to black people and more “positive” ones are placed onto Asian individuals. In the end, both  stereotypes have a negative effect.

We as a whole need to understand that different groups are subjected to different barriers in their success. It is useless to place blame on certain groups for the achievement gap. Stereotypes may always linger, but your choice to partake in the belief and perpetuation of these stereotypes is dependent on yourself. Stereotypes are more than just unfortunate statistics, but have real-life impacts that need to be recognized.

The Impatient Patient: In defense of a lazy, smartphone-obsessed generation

Lazy. Entitled. Snowflakes. According to Media Post, these are the qualities 71 percent of past American generations attribute to Generation Z. These sentiments are reflected not only by the parents of Generation Z, but in those belonging to it. 40 percent of parents and 45 percent of Generation Z themselves agree that within this “selfie generation” lies an inherent trait of laziness.

HHS students participated in a walkout on March 14. Photo by Riley Anderson.

Generation Z, or the cleverly nicknamed iGeneration are the 23 million born from 1995 to 2012. 4 million of Generation Z own a smartphone, and most have never known a world without apps and instant gratification. And some fear that the implications of a generation shaped by social media and smartphone are dire.

Lonely. Dislocated. Unhappy. Another triplet of not so flattering traits attributed to Generation Z. A study by The Atlantic ties the rapidly increasing rates of depression in teens to the devices they cultivate their entire persona upon — smartphones.

Teens hang out together less too, with a 40 percent drop from 2000 to 2015. Screen-related activities are linked to unhappiness, while non-screen-related activities are linked to a greater overall wellbeing.

    Yet although Generation Z may be suffering at the hands of of their smartphones, they’re also saving lives. A large social media following and the ability to condense thoughts into a relatable, retweetable 140-character limit may not be necessary an advantageous skill set for most, but the Parkland students and many other teen activists across the country beg to differ.

    Take one of the most well-known of the Parkland students, Emma Gonzalez. With her steely gaze, the high school senior, among with many others of Never Again MSD, organized the largest student-driven protest in American history thus far. Not only that, but Never Again MSD has been credited with the Florida Legislature enacting several gun control measures. Lazy? I think not. And Gonzalez has a remarkable 1.2 million followers on Twitter. Lonely? I think not.

And, who is to forget David Hogg, the Parkland shooting survivor who also made headlines following provocations from those like Jamie Allman and Laura Ingraham, who saw it fit to make jokes about sexually assaulting the 18-year-old, and mock his rejection from colleges.

While Ingraham boasts a net worth of 45 million, Hoggs boasts 753,000 Twitter followers. And, while there is not yet a conversion between American dollars and Twitter followers, Hoggs engaged followers in asking Ingraham’s advertisers to boycott her show. 25 have dropped so far.

While it is easy to argue that the Parkland activists are simply outliers in the convoluted model of how a Generation Z individual is supposed to act, many researchers who study adolescents believe that they are not. I know, because I see feats of activism among my friends, among my classmates, within my community.

The HHS March for our Lives protest was organized by two sophomores. The protest then made a detour to Sunnyvale City Hall made possible by a group of juniors and seniors, poor weather conditions be damned. They were joined by neighboring schools such as FHS and De Anza.

Inspiring. Revolutionary. Tenacious. This is what I believe Generation Z to be.

The Impatient Patient: Crisis pregnancy centers have the right to their beliefs, not the right to deceive

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are organizations around the country offering counsel to pregnant women, with the goal of swaying women away from having an abortion by presenting different options. As such, CPCs counsel women through their pregnancy and after, providing adoption referrals.

There are 2,500 to 4,000 CPCs across the U.S., outnumbering the 1,500 abortion centers. CPCs have been making not only headlines, but also an appearance in the Supreme Court. This is in lieu of California’s Reproductive Fact Act requiring licensed CPCs to post a sign of their services offered — one example being whether or not said clinic offers abortions.

While clinics that are unlicensed are exempt from stating whether or not they provide abortion services, these clinics do have to state that they are unlicensed. Not only that, but these clinics have to make signs of their lack of licensure obvious and in different languages.

The law has stirred much controversy, with the National Institutes of Family and Life Advocated (NIFLA), who support around 1,400 CPCs, taking the case to the Supreme Court, in NIFLA v. Becerra.

CPCs, along with justices, feel as though the California law is targeting them because of their anti-abortion beliefs, a belief 61 percent of Californians do not agree with, that the government has not place in abortion matter.

Justice Elena Kagan brings up that the Reproductive Fact Act is manipulating the law centering it only on CPCs. In addition to being singled out, CPCs also argue that their First Amendment rights are being called into question — that they should not have to advertise a message not in alignment of their beliefs.

California legislature estimated in 2015 that 200 CPCs within California employed deceptive tactics, a reason for the law. The centers are accused of intimidating women who step into the center, in addition to providing misinformation about abortions, such as the idea that having an abortion might increase the risk of breast cancer.

However, while some CPCs are prone to deceptive actions, CPCs like Informed Choices report that they did not employ intimidation tactics, and still maintain relationships with women chose a different route. Furthermore, Informed Choices, part of its counsel for pregnant women, also provides baby clothing and supplies for mothers.

CPCs claim that putting up a sign is against their beliefs and an infringement of their First Amendment rights, but the information on the sign would not be false information. Why should CPCs be afraid to publicize information that is in fact, true?

It does not go against one’s belief system to publish truthful information. The government is not asking CPCs to put up a sign stating that they are pro-life, the government is asking CPCs to put a sign stating what services they offer.

It’s as though certain CPCs have a hidden agenda, refusing to put up signs for fear of driving women who are set on having an abortion away, which goes against actually helping pregnant women in need. I understand that CPCs want to prevent abortions, but doling out misinformation and intimidation is inexcusable.

While suspicions that the law is is possibly employing CPCs specifically are not unsound, with the talk of first amendment violations and deception, what seems to be understated is the well being of pregnant women. Furthermore, the law in question does not only apply to CPCs — but businesses like nail salons are also required by the law to put up a sign.

CPCs who do not employ deceptive tactics have nothing to fear with putting signs up. Women who decide to have an abortion do so because they feel as though it is their choice, it is what is best for them. Arriving at this decision was likely not an easy one, but one weighing out all possible options.

If the main objective of a CPC is to counsel women, then they should do just that — counsel. A woman’s choice of abortion is time-sensitive one. I firmly reject the notion that a woman must give birth no matter what — there are so many extenuating circumstances.

For CPCs to continue to employ unsavory measures to get their message across is not only immoral, but comprises an individual. I cannot imagine the point of a center that give off the appearance to have services it does not provide.

For the 200 CPCs employing deceptive tactics, all I have to say is consider — is the point of your center to save lives, or to further your movement? Maybe women who do go in and decide not to get an abortion because of CPCs are glad of their decision — but to maintain a front of deception to achieve that goal is questionable.

CPCs and abortion clinics look so similar, it can be hard to tell the apart. From similarly in names to proximity to abortion clinics, even those in support of the pro-life message cannot tell apart a CPC from an abortion center, with a pro-life group accidentally vandalizing a CPC.

Elizabeth Clark, director of Planned Parenthood, advises to take precautions when differentiating between CPCs and abortion clinics, such as calling beforehand to find out exactly what services are offered, in addition to looking at language on a CPCs website that may seem more skewed to a certain ideology.

Students march to protest gun violence at nationwide walkout

The walk out continued on after the 17 minutes, as students walked to FHS and to city hall.

“Something needs to be done,” sophomore Ellora Lasker said. Lasker was one of many students who participated in the National School Walkout in the wake of the recurring mass shootings.

The nationwide protest, with goals to invoke change in the current gun laws, was slated to last 17 minutes long, each minute accounting for every victim of the Parkland school shooting. The HHS walkout started as a Facebook event created by sophomores Shama Tawakol and Romy Bornstein.

“My family’s from Egypt and I go there every summer … [people ask] is it safe going there, but if you look at the statistics there is a higher chance of being killed here at school than walking the streets of Egypt,” Tawakol said. “If my walking out of class for 17 minutes can do anything to change it, then [that is what I will do].”

At 10 a.m., students gathered in the Horseshoe, some wearing orange and holding signs to show solidarity with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victims. As the walkout extended past the duration of brunch, and for some the duration of their fourth periods, students were marked tardy or absent to class.

Some students returned to their fourth period classes following the end of the 17 minutes, while others continued to march. Despite harsh weather conditions, senior Lavender Payne and her friends led the extended walkout to Sunnyvale city hall. Payne said they had not originally planned to extend the march, but felt as though 17 minutes “was not enough,” and wanted to create a larger impact.

Juniors Charles Crane and Namiko Turner said the two got in contact with Mayor Glenn Hendricks as they thought going to city hall was a good idea.

“Once Cianna Burse got the group moving, we ran from the back to the front, and I thought that we should make this something by going to city hall, so I called the mayor,” Crane said.

Turner said she considered the overall walkout to be a success, since many students continued on with the march, and were able to listen to each other’s voices. The chance for people to get together allowed for not only the students to see that their voices could be heard, but also adults and city officials as well.

“And when we finally got there, everyone stood there and listened to what was being said, with high energy,” Turner said.

At city hall, students from HHS, FHS and De Anza gathered together to hear what the mayor had to say. He spoke about what the city of Sunnyvale is already doing, in terms of laws for gun control. Then he let students who led the group to city hall give short statements on why they took part in the walkout and what they want to see changed, not just in Sunnyvale, or California, but in the rest of the country.

“On the media, the government and adults seem to think the youth does not know what they are talking about,” Payne said. “… In reality, we are the ones living through it. Education is important … if we come to school to learn, we should be able to learn in a safe environment,” Payne said.

According to Principal Greg Giglio, students are allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights during school hours without fear of punishment, as per the 1969 Supreme Court ruling. This statement was reiterated by a districtwide email sent out by Superintendent Polly Bove. Giglio said punishment would only incur should a student be disruptive.

Giglio said he commends event creators Bornstein and Tawakol for keeping a peaceful protest. On the Facebook event, Bornstein and Tawakol gave guidelines outlining appropriate behavior students should follow during the march, such as carrying signs free from hateful comments.

Teachers supervised the walkout along with students to ensure safety. Giglio said teachers were allowed to wear clothing to show their support for said cause, but could not explicitly participate in the march alongside students.

“I think it’s great students are walking out and standing up for what they believe in and pressuring legislators to make changes,” history teacher Andrea Yee said.

The Impatient Patient: The Paralympics’ dim spotlight

U.S. and South Korean ice hockey teams battle it out. Photo courtesy of The Atlantic.

The buzz from the 2018 Winter Olympics may be dying down, but the hype for the Paralympics is just igniting — but barely. Since 1976, the year of the first winter Paralympic games, winter Paralympians have won 278 medals, more than the 197 medals earned by Olympians.

Despite this, there is a longstanding disparity between Paralympians and Olympians worldwide in terms of coverage received and money earned for winning medals, among others. This is not an issue exclusive to the U.S., but one that happens worldwide.

In 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) signed an agreement that will extend to 2032 with goals to not only bring about more awareness to the Paralympics, but also to ensure their longevity.

While this agreement is promising, it is hard to ignore the Olympic-sized gap between the two major sporting events. According to an article in the New York Times, the number of American reporters at the Paralympics dropped from 57 to 33 reporters. NBC alone sent 89 reporters to the 2018 Olympics, according to their website.

Of the 801 reporters worldwide covering the Paralympics, American reporters comprise of roughly four percent. Meanwhile, American athletes make up 43 percent of all Paralympic athletes competing, according to the official Team USA website. That constitutes, roughly, to seven athletes per reporter — extremely uneven coverage.

American Paralympians have been making great strides at the Olympics, currently owning the largest number of medals. It is a shame that we cannot be bothered to provide equal coverage to such athletes. We have athletes overcoming tremendous feats, yet their stories, much less their accomplishments, are given a very dim spotlight to be showcased in.

The same lack of coverage was apparent in the 2016 Paralympics as well. According to an article on The Conversation, 52 reporters (excluding NBC) were sent to the Paralympics compared to the 400 sent to the Olympics.

So what is causing the Paralympic coverage drought? According to this study published in 2003, journalists did not cover the event because they felt as though readers were simply not interested, and it was not worth the actual the cost of coverage. Another reason was the sentiment that the Paralympics did not rival the Olympics in that it was not a “real competition.”

Journalists may think that the Paralympics may not be an area of interest for the general public, and perhaps they are right. But, you cannot light a flame without a spark. How can the general public even get interested in the Paralympics when there is no coverage readily available?

While this study was published 15 years ago, the amount of coverage remains consistent — consistently low. The “para-” in “Paralympics” comes from the Greek preposition meaning “to be beside with.”

It was given to illustrate that both the Olympics and Paralympics were to exist together, with one not being placed on a higher pedestal than other. The origins of the Paralympic name has its heart in the right place, but until the same respect that is given to the Olympics is awarded to the Paralympics, the Paralympic name remains untrue.

An article on the South China Morning Post proposes an intriguing question — why are the accomplishments of an able-bodied person far more celebrated than the accomplishments of someone with a disability?

The fact of the matter is that the Paralympics were not created as a kind gesture for people with disabilities to compete in a pseudo-major sporting event, and as such, its athletes should not be seen as secondary.

The Impatient Patient: How Weight Watchers’ new teen program offers benefits to low-income families

Weight Watchers’ recent decision to offer free memberships to teenagers has been met with much backlash across the internet — and this comes as no surprise, as we, as a society, have become increasingly focused on what it means to be healthy. However, the concern over  the effects of dieting on impressionable teens ignores another group — individuals who do not have access to healthy food options.

Weight is a touchy topic, as it brings about issues of body image, eating disorders and of course, what it means to be “healthy.” Is healthy a lifestyle, or is it a body size? Is “skinny” the new healthy?

Magazines and media are dominated by models, according to an article on Rehabs.com, an industry where a BMI of 15 or 16 is ideal. Obviously, this is unrealistic for the average American woman.

A study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine breaks the long-conceived notion that body size is an indicator of physical health. Being a “normal” weight does not guarantee health. There is no set trend — overweight individuals are shown to be as healthy as their thinner peers, and thinner people also exhibit health problems frequently found in those overweight.

So, the basis of the correlation between body size and healthiness is very much baseless. Despite this, “skinny” is still being touted as an ideal. However, while being overweight is not an accurate depiction of an individual’s health, there are still health issues that stem from being overweight, such as diabetes, heart disease and strokes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The problem is that issues regarding weight are constantly viewed from a limited perspective, without concern for other stances. We skew conversations about weight too closely to a certain side of spectrum — that we should love our body, no matter what. That one should not diet, because they are fine the way they are. Or that being overweight is tied with unhealthiness and is often associated with numerous unsavory stereotypes, such as laziness.

While I completely agree with the need for body positivity and that one’s body size should not be an indicator of anything, people must also  see another side of the spectrum and start making conversations surrounding weight not about body size, but about lifestyle.

Backlash from the program is due to the concern that by handing out free memberships, Weight Watchers is encouraging teen dieting, which itself has disastrous effects. However, a statement provided to CNBC from Weight Watchers states that their focus, unlike their original program which has a point system categorizing food, hopes to instead shift the focus on the development of healthy eating habits, not counting calories.

Furthermore, the new program catered towards teens solves a potential problem of teens utilizing the program as means of unnecessary weight loss, by offering a family-oriented approach — teenagers can only make use of the program should their parent or guardian allow them to do so. In doing this, the chance of a teenager participating in the program for the wrong reasons are lessened. Through the program, Weight Watchers are also able to screen teenagers who are at risk of developing a potential eating disorder.

Another added benefit is that this program will be of great service to those in low-income households. According to the Food Research and Action Center, those of lower income face do not even have the alternative of opting for a healthier lifestyle.

Lower income families have a greater abundance of fast food restaurants surrounding them. This is further exacerbated by a lack of farmer’s markets, which provide perishable foods. When perishable foods are in access, they are often of lower quality.

Aside from the poorer quality of food, for those of lower income, food is not always a constant. Due to the limited stream of meals, low-income households may experience periods with no food, which leads to skipping meals. And, due to the uncertainty in when one’s next meal may be, individuals tend to overeat in periods where food is present. The lack of equilibrium between skipping meals and overeating all contribute to poor eating habits that continue on in adulthood.

Poverty and obesity is a link that is often overlooked, and I applaud Weight Watchers for offering up a program that opens up options previously closed to lower income individuals. For now, there are no concrete statistics that prove the benefits of Weight Watchers’ new program. But, in the meantime, recognize that not everyone is in a position of privilege to be able to start a healthier diet regiment.

It is misleading to accuse Weight Watchers of encouraging teenagers to engage in dangerous diets. Embracing the body you are born in is of utmost importance, but this should not understate the struggle that low-income families have when it comes to accessing healthier food options.

The Impatient Patient: Video game addiction more than a virtual reality

Part 1 of this series can be found here https://hhsepitaph.com/6416/opinion/the-impatient-patient-video-game-addiction-more-than-a-virtual-reality/

Gaming addiction now has a place into the World Health Organization (WHO) International Classification of Diseases. However, there has been debate over whether or not the decision to brand it as an actual disorder is a premature choice. The gaming world is already very stigmatized, and there are concerns that with its induction as a disorder, more stigma is added.

Are cases in which people have died due to overexposure from video games simply an anomaly? Perhaps — the American Journal of Psychiatry published a study that seems to refute the validity of a gaming disorder, in that only a small part of the population may qualify for a diagnosis of it.

In addition, according to Professor Mark Griffith of Nottingham Trent University, an author on the study, to diagnose gaming without looking at other factors is harmful, as there is the possibility of a pre-existing mental disorder present, and that it is not just video games themselves that incite such destructive behavior.

Few qualify for an actual diagnosis according to study — but is it just to write the those affected as outliers? Illustration by Renee Wang

However, in Asia, where video game addiction is surging and has taken form in its own culture, larger cases of those affected by gaming addiction have been cited. According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, in a study done, figures of 10 to 15 percent gamers addicted have been recorded in the East, compared to 1 to 10 percent of western gamers.

According to Nigel Henderson, president of Mental Health Europe, a lack of social connections or a supportive network of family and friends may spur an individual to turn toward  video games.

The need for human interaction is inescapable — in fact, friendship and intimacy have their own tier on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — and for obvious reasons. The advancement of human civilization was not borne out of a single individual making great leaps, but out of groups of individuals.

English poet John Donne once wrote no man is an island, and this makes for more than an impactful peace of poetry. According to psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a lack of social connections with peers increases chances of early death by 50 percent.

Does the culture in Asia mirror feelings of isolation, where social connectivity is perhaps not such an inherent part of the culture? It is possible, seeing as the Korean Institute for Health and Social revealed 90 percent of Korean adults were under some form of stress daily, while  Newzoo, a market intelligence provider,  reported that 49 percent of gamers in Korea are adults between 21 and 35.

As a matter of fact, WHO’s prospective induction of gaming addiction stemmed from pressure from Asian countries, according to WHO officials. In particular, the South Korean government has funded campaigns and treatment centers all centered around the problem of gaming addiction.

South Korea has even set laws in place to limit screen time within younger children. Noted in the Shutdown Law passed in 2011, in which children younger than 16 were disallowed from video games between 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Though this law has since been dissolved following backlash, the addition of it highlights the South Korean government’s battle against video games.

While gamers in Korea do not fall into the age range of that of teenagers, the precedence of the Shutdown Law marks that methods of prevention are being implemented to rid of the use of gaming and the possible dangers it might incite among youth.

If stress and lack of connectivity are concurrent factors that might result in a video game addictions, Korean students may just be at risk. According to the New York Times, 53 percent of Korean students with thoughts of suicide attributed academic inadequacy as main contributor to such thoughts. Among teens in the rigorous Korean school system with little free time, the refuge of video games is an outlet for coping with stress from school, according to Engadget.  

In the end, it is undeniable that video games and their culture induced from stress pressure, whether in the East or West, has been elevated to a point where it causes seriously destructive incidents for those affected. An individual dying from playing too much video games is rare, but the fact that there are such individuals should be a cause of concern.

While a small group of individuals may not reflect an overall population, who is to say that similar incidents may not follow? It may be better to not propose a war on video games just yet, but making available treatment options for those in danger of spiraling can only do more good than harm.

FUHSD aligns bell schedules district-wide

Incoming and current students will experience a revamped bell schedule beginning in the 2018-19 school year. Changes include a new start time and three instead of four tutorials per week. However, total tutorial time distributed throughout the week remains the same.

The new schedule also removes the “seventh skinny” period, where students meet daily but for a shorter amount of time. The loss will affect classes such as AVID, which operates during said period. AVID and literature teacher Shawnee Rivera, who voted for the four-block schedule, said she hopes that the AVID dynamic will remain unchanged by the loss of the “seventh skinny” period.

The revised schedule will take effect in the 2018-2019 school year. Photo courtesy of the HHS website.

“I really appreciate seeing my AVID students every single day and ending my day seeing them … I’m hoping I will still get to see my [students] everyday, because they will be here either during morning tutorials [or] during lunch,” Rivera said.

The revised schedule was not created in conjunction with the failed Senate Bill 328, which would have made middle and high schools in California start at 8:30 a.m. or later, Principal Giglio said.

Students are now given the option of a “true no first period,” Giglio said, where they will be able to attend school at a later time every day of the school week. This is a change from the current “no first period option,” where a student can only attend school later for three out of the five day school week, Giglio said.

The creation of the new bell schedule was spearheaded by the FUHSD Wellness Taskforce, following a petition for school start times to be pushed back. Created in 2015, the Wellness Taskforce is open to all members of the community and serves to provide a platform to address issues such as stress and sleep deprivation in students, according to the FUHSD website.

The committee has been pushing for later school start times in particular, citing evidence from an American Academy of Pediatrics study correlating later school start times and the reduction of chronic sleep loss.

Parents and different groups of students who showed up to the meetings hosted by the Wellness Taskforce were interviewed and staff members were put on panels, Giglio said.

The two-year process of revising the bell schedule also involved various surveys regarding sleep schedules. Giglio said he estimates that 25 percent of the school population answered the surveys.

“[The schedule] has gone through so many people; I don’t think there isn’t a person who has touched it some way or the other,” Giglio said.

The new schedule change is not exclusive to HHS; all FUHSD schools will have aligned bell schedules. A stipulation in teacher’s contracts allows them to vote on the schedule, Giglio said.

Teachers were presented with two options: a two-block, where there will be block periods two days of the school week or a four-block schedule, where four days of the school week would  have block periods. HHS, FHS and CHS opted for the four-block option while MVHS and LHS opted for the two-day block.

The alignment of the schedule allow students hoping to take a class not offered at their current campus to take it at another FUHSD campus that offers their desired class. Furthermore, it makes it easier for the district to share teachers who work on more than one FUHSD campus.

English teacher Sara Moreno voted for the four-block schedule due to its similarities with the current bell schedule. Moreno said she believes that time will only tell the effectiveness of the bell schedule at improving student sleep schedules, in addition to other things such as staff development.

“I’ve heard a couple students already say that they are just gonna go to sleep later, and that it’s not really going to make too much of a difference in their sleeping pattern,” Moreno said.

Similarly, PTSA President and parent Kay Zeren said she believes that there are a lot of different components to the mental health wellbeing of high school students today, such as homework and pressures from the current college process.

Zeren said that the schedule change might be a problem for parents with more than one child, who have to drop their children off at different schools with staggered start times.

The bell schedule changes also bring up several other issues regarding traffic, after school activities and bus schedules.

“I think that cutting down on tutorials has a negative effect on the school because we do not have as much time to catch up on our missing work,” sophomore Dristi Thakur said. “The impact of late starts also causes more people to walk to school, instead of parents dropping kids off, because parents have to leave for work earlier, and it also might mess with the bus schedule.”

Regarding how the schedule affects the bus schedule, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and district will work together, and meetings are being made to reach a compromise, Giglio said.

After school activities, athletics in particular, pose new challenges as well.

“The problem with sixth and seventh period at the end of the day was that you could not opt out of either to get to sports on time,” Giglio said.“We are having conversations with the athletic leagues to see if we can move [practice or game] times.”

A proposed solution is putting students in classes that do not coincide with the day they have sports. However, this solution is not a cure-all due to the complexities in schedule placements, Giglio said.

“We are never going to please everybody. But we can try [our] best to get the most information we can to make the best choice,” Giglio said.

The Impatient Patient: Video game addiction more than a virtual reality

Video game addiction now has a place on the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases draft for 2018. For now, it falls under the very general umbrella term of behavioral and drug disorders that stem from addiction.

For a long time, there has been debate on video games, such as, does it invoke violent behavior in those playing? And with its new introduction on WHO’s International Classification of Diseases, further debate arises.

Not only is there debate on the validity of this addiction, but Higher Education Video Game Alliance, a group that advocates for video games in academic settings,  opposes this addition, stating a “clear lack of consensus” between doctors and scientists. The group also addressed the potential stigma that might follow in their statement.

I definitely see where this apprehension is coming from — video games are one of those things that are not only so common in daily life, but also seemingly harmless. Some play video games at sleepovers, others as an outlet for negative emotions. We throw around the word “addicted” carelessly and forget the actual gravity attached to it.

Those affected with video game addiction, according to WHO’s guidelines, possess no control on how often they play — WHO cites a general timeline of a year or more for concerns to be raised. Gaming addiction affects critical areas in an individual’s life from work to school to relationships. And, as a matter of fact, people have died as a result of video games.

Take Lee Seung Seop, who played video games for more than 50 hours, consumed little food and took one one bathroom break throughout, according to an article on BBC and. Shawn Woolley, according to a CBS news article, killed himself while his video game continued blaring across his computer screen. His mother believes the game contributed to his death, but Sony Online CEO says players need to take responsibility.

Seop was so entranced by the world of video games he neglected to attend to his basic needs. Woolley may have found solace in video games, only to become a victim of it. These individuals entered the gaming world and never left, and such a thing could happen to the 42 percent of Americans who play video games as well.

I do not know these men or their circumstances, but what I do know is that their deaths could have been prevented. Video game addiction is more than just a virtual reality its poses real consequences, and now that is has been addressed, it needs to be taken seriously. For one to ignore it or even oppose its induction into WHO is highly insensitive.

It should not take another story on the news for one to accept the validity of gaming addiction. You may not understand it, but, at the very least, understand the serious consequences of it, the direness of it and how video game addiction’s official classification does only good, such as raising awareness and offering more widespread treatment and coverage.

Times are changing, and they always will be changing. Video games, their increasingly real virtual landscape, dialogue and addictiveness are all part of it.

“SafetyChick” Kathleen Baty’s college safety guide

The PTSA welcomed personal safety and crime prevention expert Kathleen Baty to present on various aspects of college safety, with issues ranging from the danger social media poses, sexual assault prevention and date-rape drugs.

The new speaker series program was spearheaded by PTSA Executive Vice President Traci Oberman. The goal of the program is to introduce four to six speakers every other month during the academic school year according to Oberman.

“We try and bring engaging speakers that touch on topics that the community and students would be interested in or relevant to. We want to know what the students want to see us do,” Oberman said.

Personal safety expert Kathleen Baty

Student turnout at previous PTSA meetings has been low, according to Oberman.

According to Oberman, the new PTSA board is comprised of parents who all work full-time, Oberman said. The PTSA jurisdiction encompasses more than just meetings and speakers but also helps allocate funding and grants for student projects, classroom supplies for teachers and field trips.

Tiffany Lo, a parent who attended Baty’s presentation on Jan. 11, wanted her daughter to learn about making smart and safe choices in high school and college environments.

“[The speaker gave] tremendous insight about using our innate intuition to watch out for signals to react and respond through communications and remove ourselves from potentially unsafe situations,” Lo said.

Baty holds a wide range of credentials, from CEO of SafetyChick Enterprises to being a two-time published author in addition to a champion for stalking laws.

Baty’s speech garnered a full house. She was a stalking victim for 15 years, and at one point, was kidnapped and held at gunpoint by her stalker. This experience forced to learn every possible aspect of personal safety.

Baty strongly encourages the use of “intuitive body signals” stating that without them, all safety tips utilized would be rendered useless.

“The tightening of your stomach, the hair on the back of your neck, all those things mean something. Like animals in the wild, it is innate in all of us. If we tap into that and pay attention to those, nine out of 10 times we would not be in a dangerous situation in the first place,” Baty said.

Living in fear of her stalker forced Baty to leave her career in television and the city she was living in. This all changed after Baty testified to along with former California State Senator Ed Royce to implement the first anti-stalking laws nationally.

“[Testifying] gave me my power back. It was so much easier to live in power than in fear … [it is] more stressful and strenuous to live hiding than be open and positive and get the message out. So [testifying] was really what changed my life,” Baty said.

Baty said she believes schools should integrate personal safety and crime prevention as a subject taught in schools.

“[It should be] taught in an empowering and positive way as a lifestyle choice just like any other subject,” Baty said. “Personal safety and crime prevention and learning how to make those positive personal safety choices and situational awareness should be part of every high school’s curriculum.”

Baty said she hopes students will leave embracing their personal safety and the positive aspects that come from it.

“I had to learn street smarts the hard way, but in this day and age if I can give you street smarts, something before you have to learn it the hard way, the better. That is my whole goal,” Baty said.

The Impatient Patient: Why TV shows catered to children have the responsibility of representation

Is television the glue of American society? Perhaps, seeing as we devote five hours daily to a screen, according to the New York Times. For children between the ages eight to 18, a eerily similar figure of 4.5 is cited.

When kids and teenagers devote such a significant chunk of time to television, the question that needs to be answered is: how are these shows influencing them? While television has been linked to positive learning (for example, shows like “Dora the Explorer” or “Sesame Street”), studies have connected types of television programs watched that may present suggestive themes to violent behavior in kids to reckless sexual behavior and subpar academic performance, according to the National Library of Medicine.

An analysis of Disney Channel shows and the issues featured in them from 2001-2017. Infographic by Renee Wang.

While most TV shows for children do not contain such mature themes, the fact of the matter is that what children watch on television transcends just a few minutes of screen time.

Most kids’ TV shows follow a specific formula of a perfect nuclear family and a leading character who gets into wacky situations, living in a utopia where real issues cease to exist. While the intention of this formula is to produce 20 minutes of light-hearted slapstick for kids to look forward to, TV producers have an influence that is not always used as wisely as it should be.

As such, I found it appropriate to analyze the programs I watched growing up on Disney Channel, where the bulk of my treasured shows aired. Disney Channel also happens to be one of the top rated networks in the nine to 14 age group, according to Nielsen co., a market research firm.

My findings represented a downward trend for the most part, in that shows from 2001 on featured episodes concerning racial, gender and societal issues in their episodes than their later counterparts. Still-airing TV show Andi Mack, is an exception, having the highest percentage of issues featured, with episodes dealing with familial, gender and LGBTQ+ issues.

Shows after 2003 failed to produce episodes highlighting racial issues, which is irresponsible, at best. The characters in shows may live in a world where discrimination is not prevalent, but some of the children watching are forced to confront hateful incidences much earlier. By producing television shows stuck in a bubble, it inadvertently causes the children watching to be stuck in a limited worldview.

To exclude issues of race only reiterates that it is and has been a growing issue in America. Racial tensions may not be the easiest topic to talk about, but progress cannot be made if it is suppressed. Including ongoing and often difficult issues does not subtract from the lighthearted air of kids TV shows, nor does it decrease the learning value intended.

To argue that ignorance is bliss is irresponsible — racism, sexism and discrimination are all themes anyone is bound to experience, and as mentioned above, for some this is experienced earlier than most. For shows with tremendous influence and a wide audience, effectively presenting such issues in an appropriate and positive way can teach kids watching life lessons that will segway into making them better equipped in life.

If a culture of acceptance and understanding is instilled in children from a young age, I can only wonder how many more issues could be easily resolved, from encounters in real life to contentious political issues today.

In particular, “That’s So Raven,” produced in 2003, showcased an episode in which the titular character Raven does not get a parttime job because of her race — the employer explicitly states that she does not hire black people. Such a plotline may be absent in children’s programming today, but discrimination is still a very real issue.

In an episode of “Lizzie McGuire”, the characters learning to empathize with an immigrant from a different country despite initial mockery of his English. With the immigration bans and anti-immigration rhetoric being thrown out today, I cannot think of a more appropriate lesson to teach kids. Children’s shows featuring people of color simply cannot understate or ignore such issues. There should not be a disconnect between what a young person experiences in real life and the TV shows they watch at night.

That being said, Disney Channel’s shows do feature an upward trend in LGBT representation, with a character on “Andi Mack” recently having come out gay, and “Good Luck Charlie” having aired episode with a same-sex lesbian couple. While it may have been groundbreaking, it was also long overdue.

Instead of being stuck in a rewind of back jokes and vapid fashion trends, Television should be representative of the society we live in.

Tove Lo’s new album loses characteristic grit

P erhaps most known for the explicit hit single “Habits (Stay High),” Swedish pop phenomenon Tove Lo is back with her third album, “Blue Lips,” which offers a new dimension to her previously raw and gritty tune.

“Habits (Stay High),” with its surge in popularity, was forever etched into Lo’s musical identity, and this is both a blessing and a curse.

“Habits (Stay High)” focuses on tropes we hear so often in music — sex and drugs and all that jazz. But somehow, through both Lo’s songwriting mastery and notes belted out full of raw emotion, these vulgar topics become a sophisticated, and more important, immensely powerful melancholy. An anthem almost, for the lost and heartbroken.

Much of Lo’s songs derives from her personal experiences — the same can be said of “Blue Lips.” Compared to her previous songs, “Blue Lips” gave a more pop-esque vibe to it, with a special focus on the beat — multidimensional groves powered with Lo’s haunting melody making a majority of the songs optimal dance songs.

In all honesty,while I will forever appreciate Lo’s lyrical genius, that is distinct from the overall composition of the 14 songs in “Blue Lips.”

Her newest album is reminiscent of many pop songs populated on the radio, and dare I say, decreased the original grit and sophistication Lo’s previous works have offered. In a way, they were forgettable — the beats were fresh, her voice is hauntingly beautiful, but nothing grabbed me. I would not replay a majority of the songs in the mornings when I got ready for school.

That being said, I applaud Lo on her dimensionality — her album features songs like “PITCH BLACK” and “LIGHT BEAMS”, lyric-less beats which complement as well give much depth to the album.

Songs to commend would definitely  have to be “9th of October” and “Romantics” — the beauty in these songs lies therein of the lyrics, truly poetry in motion.

For any shying away from perhaps the reoccurring explicit content featured in Lo’s music, I urge that you focus less on the subject matter, and more on message.

All in all, “Blue Lips” did not etch into my heart, but provided for a nice escape with its richly layered melodies and beats.