Page 1

1. NEWS GATHERING {FITTING IN} “If someone has diabetes, it’s not the end of the world; but, people who don’t have it need to be aware that people are going through an issue. People say, ‘well, you can just take a shot.’ Ask yourself, can I just take a shot twice a day for 25 years? How are you going to feel about that? It’s not pleasant to do,” journalism teacher Clay Zigler said. Zigler has had Type 1 diabetes for 33 years since being diagnosed at the age of 20. Over 29 million people in the United States had diabetes in 2012, or 9.3 percent of the population. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in America according to a study from 2010. Type 1 and Type 2 are two main types of diabetes; they can both result in many complications. A third type of diabetes is gestational and affects some pregnant women. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says prolonged diabetes can have a negative impact on vision, kidneys, blood pressure, and it can lead to strokes and nerve damage. The ADA lists symptoms such as feeling excessively hungry, thirsty, fatigued, having blurry vision, and slow healing cuts/bruises as signs that one might have diabetes. Type 2 tends to be a disease more affected by one’s genes while Type 1 can also be triggered from environmental factors such as having several infections in adolescence or from having Type 2. Type 1 or hypoglycemia, defined by the ADA, is insulin dependent with low blood sugar (glucose) levels. This means the body doesn’t make enough insulin and needs injections or a pump to assist the pancreas as it breaks down glucose. Type 1 is typically diagnosed in early childhood and is nicknamed juvenile diabetes, but it only affects about five percent of people who have diabetes. Zigler had taken injections twice daily until he received an insulin pump in 2006. According to Zigler, there are schedules people with diabetes must pertain to with injections and meals so their insulin levels don’t greatly vary from a healthy medium. “If you miss an insulin injection, your blood sugar could shoot up really high. If you miss a meal and you have an insulin injection in you, your sugar levels could drop very low. You’re on a seesaw, you want to stay as close to the middle as possible. If you drop too low, you slip into a coma and die, and if it goes too high you go into diabetic shock,” Zigler said. Sophomore Danielle Stallings has Type 1 diabetes and was diagnosed at an early age. Stallings says there are many false stereotypes about diabetes that she often hears. For instance, people with diabetes cannot have sugar, diabetes is contagious, and diabetes is caused by eating unhealthily. Stallings said it is her personal choice to eat healthy foods; it’s not her disease limiting her choices. “I’ve had diabetes for 13 years, and because I got it when I was three I don’t remember not having it; it’s been my entire life. I don’t drink regular sodas or eat some of the sugary things because I don’t like the taste, it’s weird to me. I can eat regular food, I just don’t,” Stallings said. Besides the complications that come with diabetes, there is also a monetary cost in living with the disease. According to the Greater MO/Southern Illinois Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Executive Director Marie Davis, on average, an insured person who has Type 1 diabetes can spend around $12,000 in out-ofpocket expenses annually. While federal laws are in place to protect discrimination against people with diabetes in the workplace (the American with Disabilities Act Amendments Act), Davis says people with diabetes are not allowed to work in certain conditions because of their medical risks. “[If people with diabetes become] too high or too low in glucose, then they don’t work as well, they don’t think as well; therefore, they don’t get as much accomplished. At many times, people with diabetes are going to be absent because when they get sick, they get sick quickly and stay sick longer. In some cases, people could no longer do their job. An example would be an airline piolet or a truck driver, if they are diagnosed with diabetes, Type 1, then they have to stop their profession and start a new career,” Davis said. The other side to diabetes, Type 2 or hyperglycemia is the most common type of diabetes where blood glucose is higher than normal and, according to the ADA, is insulin resistant. Type 2 is treated with oral medication, lifestyle changes, and more insulin. Even though Type 2 can be triggered by being obese, having Type 2 can lead to obesity as well. With this variation of diabetes, glucose can build up in blood when it is not properly controlled. Social studies teacher Brian Massey has had Type 2 diabetes


since 2001 and now takes oral medication twice a day, According to Massey, a sign that alerted him to his rick for diabetes was fatigue, but talking to his family and learning his family’s history made it clearer as to why he was susceptible to Type 2. “[I] would have breakfast and then an hour later be falling asleep on the couch or fighting staying awake. That’s when I decided to get the test and I found out my numbers were elevated. When you find out you have it and start talking, you find out that so and so had it and your grandparents had it. You see the markers. It’s something that you [should] talk about in your family so people know that this could happen. If you exercise and eat smart, even if you’re presupposed [for diabetes], you may never have Type 2 ever come around at all,” Massey said. As part of having a healthier lifestyle, Stallings is on the Swim and Dive team; she has an insulin pump that is water proof so she can practice without having to worry about getting low. Another thing Stallings must do is count the amount of carbohydrates she is consuming. Pizza, potatoes, corn, pasta, chips, and bread are some examples of food that are high in cards that people with diabetes cannot eat too much of. Sugar free items are not ideal for people with diabetes to eat because the sugar cane in them is replaced with unhealthier, manufactured carbs. Stallings said she has learned effective strategies to take care of her blood sugar levels in ways that compliment her lifestyle. “Going out to eat, I have to count my carbs. If the exact numbers aren’t in front of me, I have to guess. I’ll put it in my pump, how much, and then it’ll do the work for me. When I’m swimming, it depends on what we’re doing for our main exercise, so sometimes I’ll get low depending on what we do and I’ll take my pump out so I won’t get insulin and I won’t get low,” Stallings said. Similarly, freshman Denise jones was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was four and takes insulin shots daily to keep her blood sugar levels steady. Jones said that being active in marching band means she must be aware of her glucose levels and watch her eating habits. “I was in marching band and I had to sit out a lot if my blood sugar went low, but I can eat whatever I want if I take a shot for it or if my blood sugar is not low. I can’t just eat at any time. I can’t have a whole bunch of snacks without stopping and taking a shot, so I usually don’t have snacks unless my blood sugar is low,” Jones said. Like Stallings and Jones, many people with diabetes stick to regular schedules of injections, pumps, or pills so they can have a strong handle on their disease. Still, if a person is has high blood glucose levels, they should drink water, and if a person is low they need something sugary like orange juice or chocolate milk. According to Davis, if you have a friend with diabetes, it’s important to know their symptoms that show if they’re high or low, who to notify, and to be supportive. Davis says diabetes does not define a person or restrict their achievements. “[Many people have] learned how to have the life they want along with the disease. The disease if just part of them, it’s not them. You never use the word diabetic. You use the phrase person with diabetes. A girl with diabetes, a guy with diabetes, someone with diabetes, because if you say they’re diabetic, it’s like saying ‘you’re the blue-eyed girl’. I stead, you’re the girl who has blue eyes, and same thing with diabetes. You’re not a diabetic, you’re someone who has diabetes it’s just part of your makeup,” Davis said.

his was my first full page story, and I wanted to do it justice. I researched, cross-examined, and tried to absorb a mile of information, but as my adviser says, only an inch deep. I used my sources to dig deeper and make this a better story.

2. NEWS GATHERING {HAIL TO THE CHIEF} After scandals and controversies on both sides of the aisle, businessman Donald Trump (R) was elected president over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) on Nov. 8. Clinton won the popular vote with 61,324,576 votes compared to Trump’s 60,526,852 votes, and as of Nov. 13, The Atlantic said votes are still being counted. However, Trump’s lead in swing states will most likely ensure his majority in the Electoral College with 290 votes over Clinton’s 232. Similarly, political outsider Eric Greitens (R) was elected governor of Missouri over former Attorney General Chris Koster (D). Both statewide and nationally, Republicans swept the legislative races. What’s behind the vote From social media promotions to campaigns led by celebrities, the message to vote was evident this year. Alumna Liana Roach (Class of 2016) worked on the Greitens campaign this year since October and said the push for votes was clear. “[Every] vote matters,” Roach said. “Voting is a civil right taken for granted. Every vote [committed] would be tallied and counted at the end of the day and toward the end of the campaign every hour. It was a constant push to maintain numbers.” FiveThirtyEight, a website tracking electoral outcomes, said 57 percent of eligible voters went to the polls on Nov. 8, a 20 year low. In Missouri, Secretary of State Jason Kander reported an unofficial turnout of 67 percent, slightly higher than in 2012. However, second Vice President of the St. Louis League of Women Voters Dr. Nancy Miller said Constitutional Amendment 6, which passed in Missouri this November, may change this. “It has nothing to do with registering to vote. It’s requiring the state to allow only two kinds of ID: a state or federal picture ID. No more student IDs, and no more documents [with no picture],” Miller said. Previously, non-photo IDs, like utility bills or voter identification cards, were allowed. The estimated yearly cost to provide voters with an acceptable ID will be over $2 million. Politifact Missouri said there are no convicted cases of voter fraud in the state. Ways to get involved Even before this election, some students were working for the democracy. Sophomore Isabella Eslick and her Girl Scout troop sat in the commons at lunch with voter registration and education materials on Oct. 10 and 17 to work toward their Gold Award. “We decided to increase voter awareness,” Eslick said. “All teenagers should have an opinion in politics. We may not be able to vote but us being informed could help educate others so they can express our opinions for us.” Also, before Roach worked for a campaign, she hit the road and went to rallies for Trump, Clinton, and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D). She said staying local is a large part of getting involved in campaigns.


y staff went to press six days after this election, and I was at Missouri Youth in Government for most of that time. By conducting interviews throughout the election process and sorting through the plethora of news streaming in about it, I wrote this in a few hours.

“It was really grassroots heavy,” Roach said. “I did go door knocking in some neighborhoods. When people hear of campaigns I think it appears more glamorous when in reality it is the groundwork that makes all of the difference.” AP Government teacher Mary Jo Bauer said other ways to get involved include becoming aware of how one’s local government functions. “I would just love to see it start local. Start with the chamber of commerce, with city hall attending meetings and see what happens,” Bauer said. “Go to a school board meeting and attend because all of that is political. You have to show those individuals that you are their constituent and you matter.” Political education From debates and commercials, Miller said some may assume that elected officials act impulsively. However, she said that in office, those officials change their tone. “It’s a totally different behavior, and because of that I would join in the call for more actual experiences that allow students to understand what it is that elected officials actually do,” Miller said. “There’s a bigger misunderstanding about what happens at state level rather than at national level.” Bauer said the school is looking at ways to change the government curriculum by compiling various tests into one larger test, allowing for more instruction time. She said this could help put more emphasis on state politics. Some students immerse themselves in state politics through Youth in Government (YIG). Senior Duy Khanh Trinh has been in YIG for two years in the House of Representatives. This year he was a committee chairman. “YIG is necessary for any students that want to understand government on the next level. In AP [Government], you learn about government, but at YIG,” Trinh said, “you get to experience how things are actually done in Jefferson City by real congressmen.” Where to go from here Overall, Bauer said this election exemplified how the democratic process in the U.S. is peaceful as people voted safely and the transfer of power was accepted as legitimate. She also said the annual Veterans Day Luncheon after the election showed the final thing people should take away. “Watching veterans coming in on [Nov. 9] reminded kids that’s what it’s about: rallying around people who fight for freedom, who have made a difference,” Bauer said. “It’s not necessarily who’s been elected. It’s more about the actual individual citizens.” Roach said she plans on helping out with more campaigns, and this election was a sign that change is here. “America is on the brink of something big, for better or for worse. My interest in politics is not purely ambitious, I view it more as a take back of what should be ours. You want something done right, you do it yourself,” Roach said.

3. WRITING {SNOWPOCALYPSE} The start of second semester was delayed this year when a major snow storm hit the area. The National Weather Service reported that on Jan. 5, 10.8 inches of snow fell in St. Louis, breaking the record amount of snow accumulated for that day. This winter weather can be attributed to the polar vortex, an atmospheric cyclone of cold air at the Earth’s poles. The polar vortex strengthens during the winter season and jet streams can cause pieces of it to move south. One of those pieces settled over the Midwest and Northeast, causing the large amount of snow seen all over the country. Some meteorologists predict that the polar vortex that hit in the beginning of January may reappear. This is very rare, and a winter storm like this hasn’t been seen in a long time. When winter storms like this occur, schools must notify the public in the event of a closing. Interim superintendent Dr. Terry Adams said that there are many people who must communicate with each other to decide if schools will be closed. “If it’s a morning that seems to be problematic, there are a number of people [in the district] who test the roads, and they report to an individual who synthesizes all of the information that they are given. Then they make the call to me and make a recommendation as to whether the group thinks we need to be in school or not,” Adams said. Student safety was considered on Jan. 3 when school was called off due to bus malfunctions, not weather conditions. Adams said that Rockwood and its busing company, First Student, have worked together to create procedures to prevent this from happening again. “The safety of our students is always the first priority when I consider school cancellations. I take into account several factors when making the final decision: weather predictions, highway department preparedness, time of day, wind chill, as well as the drivers’ reports. I can assure you that we will continue to work closely with First Student to make sure the buses run efficiently,” Adams said. Adams also said that the decision to call off school because of weather conditions or other factors is always made as early as possible. The amount of recent snow days has caused administration to consider what can be rescheduled and cancelled, as principal Renee Trotier said. “Mostly what we tries to do was reduce interruptions with the classroom,” she said. “We moved all the drills out, senior meeting, and other things that we had scheduled so that kids would be in the


classrooms as much as possible.” The amount of days missed may have been an inconvenience to scheduling, but Adams said that it was necessary for one main reason. “If you want to get it down to one word, it’s the word safety. Is it going to be safe for us to have school and make sure we can get all of you guys here? I want you here, I want you learning, but I don’t want you in a wreck either. So, that’s kind of the key,” Adams said. Learning time has been cut as a result of the snow days. Trotier said that teachers are trying to make everything work out. “[Teachers] had to meet together on Monday during the late start and decide what they were going to cut out and what they could reschedule. Our AP classes are probably the most nervous about getting everything in,” Trotier said. AP European History teacher Tom Wade said that his class has a plan to keep them on track. “We’ll have to condense things a bit, in terms of pacing to get all of the content down for the AP test which is a few weeks before finals,” Wade said. “I always try to build in an extra week or two for review anyway. So we’ll probably have to shift review time to after school.” Junior Michael Schoen, an AP student, said that the additional AP work from the snow days should be manageable if effort is put into it. “[The extra work is] definitely a challenge but I believe as long as you’re willing to put in the effort, it isn’t that bad,” Schoen said. Teachers said that they understand that students have less times, but Wade said they know how to help. “Most of the teachers here are experienced and will know how to rework their schedules and pacing, so they’ll know how to cover everything,” Wade said. Even as teachers are working to fit all of their material in, the administration is looking ahead to future dates. Adams said that graduation will not be affected by the snow days. As for the rest of the school, Adams said the official date of when summer break will begin has not yet been decided. “Right now we don’t want to say ‘here’s what we’re going to make up’ and come back three weeks from now saying ‘well we were just kidding about that, we’re going to do something different.’ We’re going to see how the weather plays out and then make a decision about the makeup days once that happens. Hopefully, we’re done with the bad weather,” Adams said.

uring my first day on staff, I was assigned the top story of the month. I was extremely nervous and slightly overwhelmed. However, I kept interviewing, researching, and writing because I had fallen in love with journalism.

4. WRITING {SAT SAVIOR} When she was most needed, senior Ramya Mogallapu intervened and assisted a girl on the brink of death. When students go to take the SAT, tests begin early and last for hours. Mogallapu had no reason to suspect her test on Saturday, June 6 at Marquette High School last year would take such a drastic turn. This was her second time taking the SAT, and Mogallapu said she was focused on improving her score when she was distracted. “I was working a really difficult geometry problem. All of the sudden, I hear a crash from the front of the room. I look up thinking someone had dropped a calculator or someone’s book fell, but I realized a girl fell,” Mogallapu said. Immediately, the proctor, Marquette FACS teacher Susan Hamlin, rushed over to make sure the girl was still breathing. Once that was assured, Hamlin said she tried to get help from one of the people that usually walk the hallways during these long tests. “I looked out in the hall and there was nobody there,” Hamlin said. “I tried to call the emergency number we had for the people in charge here, but because they were cleaning the building, those people were held in a different office, and no one was picking up the phone.” Mogallapu, who had just been recertified as a lifeguard the week before, knew immediate action needed to be taken because the girl was having a seizure. “I pushed all of the desks out of the way so she didn’t further injure herself. I did what I was taught and checked for her breathing and pulse. I grabbed a nearby jacket and put it under her head, then I waited, watched, and kept checking her pulse and breathing. Another lifeguard appeared at my side five minutes later and I instructed her on what to do. Then I told [Hamlin] to get a call to 911,” Mogallapu said. The girl was having a convulsive status epilepticus seizure. According to the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, this type of seizure constitutes a medical emergency. The Foundation said thousands of brain damage cases and around 42,000 deaths are a result of these types of seizures yearly. By the time ambulances arrived, the seizure had lasted for at least 30 minutes. Most seizures are no longer than two minutes. Hamlin said Mogallapu’s calm demeanor during the crisis helped everyone to cope with their situation during the wait. “Both [Mogallapu] and the other lifeguard were working as a team. By her clear sense of what needed to be done, her maturity, and the obvious


fact that her training kicked in, she really created an atmosphere for the other students in the room who were taking the test to be able to not have obvious panic. She was put in that room for a reason on that day,” Hamlin said. Afterward, Mogallapu told her friend who was also taking the SAT what happened. Her friend’s mother and Hamlin emailed principal Dr. Renee Trotier about Mogallapu’s leadership and bravery. Trotier then nominated Mogallapu for the Above and Beyond Award. If Mogallapu wins, she will receive this award on March 10 at Lafayette High School. This was not the first or last time Mogallapu will save someone’s life. Mogallapu said she had her first save during her third shift ever as a lifeguard when she was 15. Her other save as a lifeguard was the day after the SAT incident when she stabilized a man who broke a disk in his back. After that last event, Mogallapu said she had ample time to reflect on her actions and these coincidences cumulated in something bigger than she expected. “[After analyzing those two events,] that was the moment that I realized I was an adult. The principal, the proctor, and my parents realized that because I took responsibility not just over myself but the life of another human being that I was an adult in their definition,” Mogallapu said. This epiphany did not mean Mogallapu could neglect responsibilities. All of the students in the room during the seizure were offered another free testing date in October of 2015. When Mogallapu took the SAT again, she had another surprise. “The girl behind me [at this second SAT date] was talking to the person next to her saying ‘I have to take this SAT again because someone during mine had a seizure.’ The girl who had the seizure heard her and said ‘sorry, that was me.’ A person in front pointed at me and said ‘weren’t you the girl that saved her?’ It was such a movie moment, the coincidences that had to occur for that to occur made it such a funny moment for something that was so serious,” Mogallapu said. Mogallapu says the girl thanked her then told her that she had been in a coma for a few weeks after her seizure. According to Mogallapu, these incidents shaped her overall goal in life even though she is still amending her plans for beyond high school. “[That SAT] made me want to help people for that rewarding feeling. Even if I don’t do that in the concept of medically helping somebody, I still know 110 percent I want to help people when I get older,” Mogallapu said.

razy coincidences led to this story becoming the success it did. My adviser learned of Mogallapu’s heroics during one of his classes and insisted I go talk to her. About an hour later, I had one of the best interviews of my life and started writing immediately. ● This story won the Quill & Scroll Sweepstakes Award for Feature Writing, 2016

5. WRITING {PLEDGING WITHOUT PURPOSE} On Sept. 20, the school recited the Pledge of Allegiance. On Sept. 21, they recited it again. And then on Sept. 22, on and on, indefinitely. The new Missouri law requiring the pledge to be said every day in all public schools is masked as patriotism, but it is truly a mockery to the values of the U.S. At the end of August, House Bill 1750 (sponsored by Representative Shane Roden, (R,111)) passed in the state, changing the requirement from reciting the pledge weekly to daily. If public schools do not comply, they risk losing funding from the state. Regardless of the nationalistic fervor behind the pledge, it is wrong to dangle education in exchange for U.S. pride. Education Week marked Missouri with a “C-” and 33rd in the nation in their 2015 ranking of states’ public education systems. If Missouri is already doing poorly, barely passing, money is even more of a necessity for public schools. Education is the backbone of any democracy. The electorate must be able to make informed decisions when voting. Children must grow up with the required knowledge to lead, innovate and inspire future generations. Furthermore, public schools are supposed to be the great equalizers in education. Liberty and justice for all is accomplished in one way by allowing all citizens in the U.S. access to learning. Take that away, and Missouri will fail the Constitution and the principles this nation is built upon. Take this away, and what pride would citizens have left in the U.S.? The pledge is a tradition and legacy, that is undeniable. However, it has been altered, and saying it is not a requirement. (The First Amendment ensures that.) In 1954, Congress added the words “under God” to the Pledge. This violates the separation of church and state the founding fathers wished to establish. This alienates those who do not believe in God. The U.S. is supposed to be a melting pot, and requiring all to say what they may not believe is wrong. Does the Pledge of Allegiance even invoke the patriotism it’s intended to?


Reciting it every day, in a way, takes away the solemn importance of it. Once a week, the school takes the time to honor the country. Every day, it becomes a bother. More to the point, does everyone who mindlessly recites it day to day understand the importance it wields? First grade students most likely do not know what “indivisible” means. When people say this, do they realize they are pledging to the ideals of a nation and not the reality? The U.S. does not have liberty and justice for all. Standing up for 15 seconds every day does not improve the U.S. Only its people can. Ideals don’t matter if they aren’t followed. Changes need to be made, and they start in schools with education. This bill was originally proposed in December 2015 and would require it to be said in English. It was rejected. After San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s recent protests of sitting during the Star Spangled Banner, the question of mandatory patriotism (normally an individual vice) has been posed more and more in the media and evidently in the government. Regardless, President Barack Obama said on Sept. 5 and 28 that while he understands why some take offense to protests, the protests are legitimate. The social stigma that surrounds free speech and patriotism is abundant. Those who sit down or kneel during the pledge and the Star Spangled Banner are pegged as “un-American.” But being American means having the right and the ability to express oneself. It means differing in opinions and using that to make the country stronger. Not everyone is proud of the U.S. or proud to be an American. That is their right. Their civil disagreement will make the rest of the country stronger. Racism, inequality, injustice, poverty and hate plague this nation. Those standing must listen to, respect, and work together with the sitters to solve the problems hindering the U.S. today. That would be truly American.

or this issue, our top story was about a Missouri law requiring time for the Pledge to be recited daily. My Associate Editor took the pro side so our editorial page would be balanced. Approaching this subject caused some strife within the classroom because it was so controversial.



uring my month at the Northwestern-Medill Journalism Institute this summer, I was a part of the video team for our website. I had never made a video story before, although I had made videos for other school assignments. It was thrilling to try something new like this and do well. 


hile I did practice live shots at Northwestern, they were not official. This is the only interviewing I’ve done on camera. During my sophomore year, I interviewed our superintendent almost every month, and while I didn’t edit this video, the questions are truly mine. 



ver the summer, I followed the Lady Falcons to Kansas City and shot their State Championship game. It was hot and I could only stand on one side of the field. Photography is not my strongest suit; however, I always want to push out of my comfort zone.

8. WEB


s a young reporter, I more frequently wrote for the web. However, I did not have the foresight to save all of that work as our website’s archives were accidentally wiped this year. Still, I have written a few web stories this year and use social media to attract readers.

 

{LEARNING TO LEAD} Todd Zell, the assistant executive director for the Missouri State High School Activities Association, spoke with students from the Falcon Leadership Council on Sept. 28. The Falcon Leadership Council is a group of 54 students who are also sports captains or activity leaders. It’s sponsored by Activities Director Mitch Lefkowitz, who worked with Zell during his time here. Zell worked here for 14 years, as a math teacher then activities director. During this interactive presentation, Zell and the students discussed the goals and purposes activities should have, what it means to be a good teammate and leader, and race and sports. Zell said this focus on a foundation of sportsmanlike habits could potentially aid students later. “My hope is that they can intentionally work on being a great teammate and carry it forward as real life in their jobs as they get older,” Zell said. Councilmember junior Ashley Perone said she plans to take these lessons to her softball teammates and fellow Student Council members first. “It was really cool to be able to see how learning how to be a good teammate can influence how others are teammates,” Perone said. Lefkowitz said the theme of leadership and teamwork will continue to be emphasized in future Council meetings. “I’ve always been a big believer in the fact that students can not only be role models for other individuals, but can also positively influence others to work hard, respect each other, or do the right thing,” Lefkowitz said.

9. LAW & ETHICS {E-CIGARETTES: WHAT ARE THEY?} Smoking is known to have detrimental health effects, and among teens it is taking a turn from traditional to electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are becoming more popular as they have different flavors, like bubble gum and chocolate; look more modern, like pens; and they are rechargeable. They are also causing controversy, and places such as Busch Stadium, are banning them. The American Lung Association reported that e-cigarette se in teens from grades six to 12 doubled in 2011-2012. Health teacher Chris Kappler said this is becoming a new trend for teens because of the accessibility of e-cigarettes. “Even though kids are underage, it’s still easy to get [e-cigarettes]. Unfortunately, there are some who thinks it makes them cook to have a vapor pen or vapor cig,” Kappler said. Joe,* a senior, said he has smoked e-cigarettes only a few times and he has never used regular cigarettes because he believes it is a safer choice. “It’s a cool alternative to not smoking cigarettes. You don’t have to worry about it stinking up your car, our clothes, or anything,” Joe said. Since e-cigarettes are relatively new, there is not a lot of research available on their health effects. The American Cancer Society said that like regular cigarettes, they can cause short term lung changes. E-cigarettes don’t contain some of the dangerous chemicals that regular cigarettes have. However, e-cigs have carcinogens, and toxic chemicals. Kappler said another harmful substance, nicotine, is still present in them. “It’s very similar to a regular cigarette. You’ve got the addictive nicotine in there that your body’s going to continue to crave, and there are negative effects. It’s still a drug,” Kappler said. Joe said he only uses e-cigarettes containing “no nicotine” and don’t have the second hand smoke factor that made most businesses and restaurants ban regular cigarettes. “For e-cigarette you don’t have all of that other stuff in it, it’s just water vapor so it isn’t that bad. The one that I bought wasn’t refillable, it was a one-time thing. It was about $20 and lasted two weeks,” Joe said. E-cigarettes are advertised as less harmful than conventional cigarettes, so many teens may think it is OK to try them without major consequences. However, the University of California San Francisco showed that users of e-cigarettes in middle and high school are more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes later on. Health teacher Christine Hohlt said addiction, caused by nicotine, is an enduring effect that’s more damaging to teenagers.


“The long term effect is the addiction factor, just like any other drug,” Hohlt said. “You guys are at such a young age that your addiction rate is much higher than somebody my age. You’re more likely to become more addicted.” Joe said that both cigarettes and e-cigarettes can be bad for you and to be cautious before using or trying them. “I don’t like when people are actually smoking real cigarettes just because of how bad it is for you,” Joe said. “Don’t use them a whole lot, even if it is just e-cigarettes. Even the ones without nicotine, I don’t use them that much just in case because they’re still pretty new. I’ve literally only gotten two of them and I haven’t gotten any since.” Some advertisers market e-cigarettes as tools to help quit smoking, but as Hohlt said, there is no proof e-cigarettes can do that. “It’s addictive like caffeine is, and I don’t think anyone looks at what [other chemicals are] in there. [E-cigarettes] aren’t as safe as everyone else thinks they are,” Hohlt said. Kappler said e-cigarettes are also promoted so companies can get around smoke free policies and sell more of their product. “The big push came from a lot of restaurants and stores going nonsmoking,” Kappler said. “It was the tobacco industry’s push to still be able to market their product, but not have to deal with second hand smoke issues. But, there’s really no research out there yet because they’re so new, it’s hard to tell if there’s dangers in that as well.” Hohlt said to remember even though companies say these new products are safe, that is not completely proven. “People who advertising want money. Even though they look good and they’re advertising in a way that’s positive and exciting, [e-cigs] still have harmful effects,” Hohlt said. The FDA proposed a new rule on April 24 to ban additional tobacco products such as e-cigarettes. The FDA protects consumers and this rule will regulate and lessen tobacco use in this generation of teens. The public comment period on this rule will be open until the beginning of July. Kappler said that e-cigarettes are not harmless and most of their effects are similar to those of a classic cigarette. “If you’re willing to take that risk, you need to know that’s one of the consequences of an e-cigarette, that it’s the same as a regular cigarette. It’s not a safe alternative,” Kappler said. *Identities have been protected upon request with pseudonyms.

he Talon avoids using anonymous sources as much as possible. However, in this case, I felt it necessary to protect one of my sources in order to get his true, unfettered opinion. Also, I ensured that there were other credible sources to balance this story.

10. LAW & ETHICS {JOURNALISM: FOR ALL AGES} The stereotype “old and wise” was broken by nine year old Hilde Lysiak from Selinsgrove, Pa., a young journalist that taught the nation that maturity is not necessarily separate from youth. Lysiak was the focus of many headlines after she was the first reporter to arrive on the scene of a murder in her neighborhood on April 2. People soon responded with praise, admiration… and criticism. Should a little girl be allowed to report on such serious events? Four days later, Lysiak responded with a video on her website orangestreetnews. com and shut down critics by saying “if you want me to stop covering news then you get off your computer and do something about it.” Media jumped on this story. It has an adorable, headstrong girl whose sass is perfect. However, a chance to have a larger discussion about journalism was ignored. Journalists are in constant danger. The White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on April 30 revealed that in 2015, more than 70 journalists were killed and over 200 were imprisoned in different countries for practicing their profession. Those are the bold ways journalists are threatened, but they are also threatened more subtly- even in the U.S., a liberal democracy that has a supposedly free press. Young journalists, like Lysiak, are often questioned and demeaned when they try to take on relevant stories. Take student journalists for example. Their biggest threat can often be administrators and legislators. In Missouri, student journalists have had their rights limited due to the 1988 Supreme Court case Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier between the Hazelwood School District in Florissant and the reporters on the student newspaper. The senior edition of their newspaper was censored by the principal who found some of the articles to be inappropriate for a high school audience. These topics included divorce and teenage pregnancy. Why should students be allowed to report on such serious events? Why not? Putting blinders on high school students and preventing journalists


from providing factual information does nothing to change reality. Even though the Hazelwood journalists could not share their articles, teens still knew those topics existed. But students are too immature to report fairly! No, they actually aren’t. The Hazelwood journalists used ethically sound procedures when reporting. The Talon strives to be ethical in its reporting. What about the professional journalists who do not follow the Code of Ethics established by the Society of Professional Journalists, est. in 1909? Do they have more of a right to report than Lysiak does because of age differences? Lysiak is reporting truths, and those should not be hidden. In March, The Talon, along with The Pinnacle yearbook and KFTN 92.7’s staff members, attended the Journalism StL Conference at Webster University. There, the publications discovered Missouri was finally taking steps to restore the rights of student journalists. The Walter Cronkite New Voices Act (Mo. House Bill 2058) was overwhelmingly passed in the Mo. House of Representatives on March 15. So far, it has gone through the Senate smoothly. This bill revokes the Hazelwood standard of censorship and prior review so student journalists have more rights. The Talon commends the Mo. House of Representatives for passing this, and they encourage the Senate to continue in the fight for students’ rights. Student journalists’ rights are essential. Without fear of retribution, student journalists are better able to fairly report the news that students need to know and uncover stories that professional media cannot or will not report. The Talon has always been committed to being a voice for Falcons, and it will continue to report the objective, nonbias information that students and community members deserve to read. It’s been an amazing year for the school and its journalists. Let’s continue that success.

very year, my staff talks about our rights and responsibilities as student journalists. Our school follows Tinker standards, but we want rights for all. We all wrote emails, called, and tweeted at Missouri lawmakers in an effort to pass this free speech bill in addition to me writing this editorial.




his year, the school took several steps to improve students’ mental health, so I assigned the story to reporters and wrote an editorial to preview it. I told the reporters no anonymous sources. It would create doubt and may distract from the true issue the story is addressing.

Trauma, anxiety, toxic stress and conversations about race and culture: these are some topics the administration is discussing with students and staff this year. This is part of the professional development the staff completes each year, with a larger focus on social emotional learning. Some students were exposed to these discussions during Challenge Day in September. Then, Tina Meier’s school wide presentation on Oct. 24 brought up these important issues, but they still must be fully understood. Meier’s message of being conscious about bullying and standing up for oneself was cut short by the limited time she had to talk with the student body. Ultimately, students must realize that bullying is still a problem. But, mental health is a problem that more greatly impacts the school. All of those topics are not jokes, and they are not removed from the school. Just because it’s not seen doesn’t mean it does not exist. Mental health especially needs to be talked about. The National Alliance on Mental Illness said 20 percent of 13 to 18 year olds do, or will, have a “serious” mental illness. It also said there’s about a 10 year delay from the first sign of mental illness to intervention. That’s time that a person may be in school. That’s time that help can easily be afforded, if the people around the affected know what to do. The school district has worked to ensure that character building programs are set firmly in elementary and middle schools. Lessons on kindness and cooperation have been repeated many times to anyone who has gone through the Fenton quadrant of schools. Many amazing speakers visit the health classes here to go more in depth on these topics. This is a kind school. However, sometimes, a person can be his or her own worst bully. Not knowing how to deal with anxiety, stress or depression can have catastrophic consequences. The stigma attached to these can also be detrimental. Meier’s presentation said it best: there is no easy, cut and dry solution to bullying. Or anxiety. Or racism. Or any problem that the school will discuss throughout this year. Recounting stories of people who took their lives due to bullying or listing statistics about the detrimental effects of mental health problems ultimately won’t make a change. It takes talking and understanding that every individual has their own struggles and pains. It takes being considerate, being kind, being patient to make a real change. For more on mental health and its effects, read the December edition of The Talon.

12. LEADERSHIP & TEAM BUILDING {NEW LAW, SAME PROBLEMS} Starting on Dec. 1, St. Louis County raised the age for purchasing cigarettes and electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 years old. This move by the county, while backed with good intentions, was unnecessary and misguided. If the county is truly concerned with teen health and decision making, they should increase efforts to educate them. Taking away rights at 18, because it is a person’s right to have control of their body, is not acceptable. The St. Louis Post Dispatch quoted the bill’s sponsor as saying “Tobacco 21” “will save kids’ lives.” Some controversy within the bill is that it includes the banning of vaping products, which some say lessen addiction and are a better alternative to cigarettes. However, the Food and Drug Administration warns against e-cigarettes because they could increase addiction, lead to the use of conventional cigarettes and their effects have not been completely tested. Regardless, recent trends point to raising ages this way as being ineffective and potentially more harmful. British news sites BBC and The Guardian compared policies on drugs around the world: Australia: Policies such as lowering drug supply, increasing education about drugs, and creating clean needle programs have been around since the 1980s in Australia. However, the United Nation’s 2014 World Drug Report said Australia had the largest, or close to, amount of users for


several different drugs. Portugal: In 2001, Portugal switched its laws to give fines, education, treatment and service time instead of jail time for some drug offenses. The results: drug use did not increase, there were decreases in drug related deaths and diseases, and there were increases in treatment seeking. The United Kingdom: Possessing drugs has been unlawful since the late 20th century in the United Kingdom. Some studies say the country now has “the highest level of dependent drug use in Europe.” Of course, other places have different cultures than the U.S., and their example cannot completely predict what would happen here. However, after 18, a person should be educated enough to make their own decisions. This law says society does not trust young adults to make the right one, so the law will force their hand. There’s a failure in the education if there’s this lack of trust. That’s why there must be more education about drugs. Not scare tactics, just real information. The following is some real information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Smoking can cause bladder, cervix, kidney, lung, mouth and stomach cancer. It’s related to many lung diseases and worsens asthma. It will yellow the user’s teeth and cause wrinkles. It will also make a person’s immune system weaker. Finally, the Department says “smoking damages nearly every organ of the body... tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death” in the U.S.

his page is one of many examples of collaboration that I encourage in my newsroom. For the editorial, I talked to each staff member privately about their opinions. Then, I asked them all to help brainstorm for my cartoon. I foster collective growth among my staff by listening and communicating.

13. LEADERSHIP & TEAM BUILDING {THE TALON STAFF MANUAL} This staff manual is intended to be a guide for the journalism department at Rockwood Summit High School. It is to assist student journalists in their effort to provide timely, unbiased news coverage over selected platforms. This handbook contains the editorial policy, style guide, goals, expectations, and other helpful information useful to not only The Talon staff, but also parents, administrators, and Summit faculty and staff members. Not only will this manual provide a clear understanding of The Talon’s style, ethical, and legal considerations, but it will provide resources to further improve the production of quality publications.


ince my sophomore year, I have been compiling all of the staff’s rules in a staff. I created this to help establish consistency and make it easier to learn our style. I first presented this to our building principal and my staff at the beginning of the year as Chief.

14. NEWS LITERACY {FOOD FOR THOUGHT} To eat is to survive; however, for an estimated four to six percent of Americans with food allergies, and many more with intolerances, entire food groups can be toxic. This statistic, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also says allergies are more common in children than adults. Reactions to allergies include anaphylaxis (a whole body reaction to allergens that can be fatal), vomiting, hives, breathlessness, shock, swelling, and faintness. Intolerances may result in stomach discomfort, gassiness, or itchiness. There are eight major food allergens recognized by the Food and Drug Administration: peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soybeans, lactose (milk), fish, shellfish, and eggs. Freshman Bella White has been allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans, and sesame seeds since she was three years old. While tree nuts are the most severe allergen for White (she had two anaphylactic reactions to them), she says she has to be cautious when eating all foods. “[My allergens] are foods, so it’s all about the digestive system, but it’s also about the immune system. With food allergies, it’s not that the actual [allergen] is bad, it’s more that your body doesn’t recognize it and thinks it’s a foreign object so it shuts down,” White said. Senior Ashley Cathers has a gluten intolerance. While she would experience discomfort eating gluten (which is in wheat, rye and barley), she says she doesn’t have intense reactions. “I was taking it day by day and my stomach kept hurting. I went to the doctor and they said ‘we’ll try to do an ultrasound to see if you have any ulcers,’ and that came up negative. Then they said to try a gluten free diet and see how it works. I tries it, and my stomach stopped hurting,” Cathers said. Cather’s cousins also can’t have gluten; they have Celiac disease (when ingesting gluten damages the small intestine). This, like many other allergies or intolerances, run in families. Junior Meghan Malone and her cousin are both allergic to eggs. Malone’s allergy has become less severe over time; while she cannot eat pure eggs or get flu shots (containing eggs), she has built up enough of an immunity to have more products with eggs used in it such as cakes or salad dressings. According to Malone, her family has showed her and her cousin how to cope with this. “We were taught [when we were young that] if you start seeing bumps or rashes, see if it’s anywhere else on your body. If it’s harder to breathe, and


you can’t talk, you need to find an adult. You need to get help,” Malone said. If someone has a reaction in school, it is vital for them to get to the nurse, be given proper medicine, and then more medical attention if needed. For an intolerance, the discomfort may be temporary or may need medicine to alleviate the symptoms. When junior Tarun Pasupuleti was six, he discovered that he was severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. According to Pasupuleti, when he had an anaphylactic reaction, and immediate treatment was required. “I was at a friend’s house, and his mom made a milkshake. She used butter pecan ice cream. Suddenly, I was on the ground and my arms were covered in hives; I felt my face, and it was all covered in hives. My throat was starting to swell up, and then my mom drove me to the hospital super quickly,” Pasupuleti said. Pasupuleti, Malone, and White all have “Epi-pens” with the school nurse in case they react again. “Epi-pens” or “Auvi-Q” (another auto injector that is equipped with smart technology) can be used to inject Epinephrine, a medicine that treats anaphylaxis, into the outer thigh of someone having a reaction. In school there are precautions taken to make the environment more agreeable to those who have allergies and intolerances. Lunch menus indicate allergens in foods, and elementary schools have allergy aware lunch tables. However, some school events, like the ice cream social, pose a threat as allergens (especially nuts in this instance) could easily contaminate other peoples’ food. For people who have severe anaphylactic reactions, cross-contamination can be dangerous. Recently, allergy awareness has increased across the country. There are two allergy aware Cardinals games that have a “peanut-free” section for fans to sit in. Northwestern University in Chicago said that, for the second year, they will have 36 sporting events that are peanut and tree nut aware. According to Cathers, taking this issue seriously and increasing awareness can help to ease this burden. “People would be surprised how much food affects their life. I want them to be considerate of [allergies and intolerances] because sometimes people laugh or they joke around and say ‘hey, do you want this? I know you can’t have it,’ and they taunt me,” Cathers said. Precautions people can take to prevent reactions include washing hangs, sanitizing areas that touched the allergen, and not sharing foods, drinks, or utensils.

n my school, my sister has one of the most severe food allergies. However, I avoided making her the main source. I also interviewed our nurse and people with intolerances, but didn’t include them because their information was lacking when I compared it to my research.

15. NEWS LITERACY {WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS} Breaking crest records and ravaging communities in the Midwest, the historic flooding during the last week of 2015 could signal larger changes. Beginning Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015, heavy rains dominated St. Louis and surrounding areas for four days. This constant rain, 10 inches in some places, provoked severe flooding in the Midwest and plains regions. While St. Louis is no stranger to the destructive force of flooding, these crests rose high above previous records. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded the Meramec River at Valley Park cresting at 44.11 feet on Dec. 31, which beat the Dec. 1982 flood by almost five feet. According to science teacher John Johnson, since this is an El Niño year, weather patterns have shifted which contributed to the excessive flooding. NOAA describes El Niño as a phenomenon that creates warmer temperatures in the Pacific ocean every few years that affects worldwide weather. “Most people think that all of the moisture and rain in [parts of the U.S.] occurred because of El Niño,” Johnson said. “Some scientists say that the magnitude of the El Niños have become greater in the last 30 or 40 years because of climate change.” Johnson says climate change is aggravated by pollutants that humans release into the atmosphere. The effects of this “Super El Niño” caused Governor Jay Nixon to declare a state of emergency for Missouri on Dec. 29 and activated the National Guard; a federal state of emergency was also declared. Assistant District Engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Tom Blair said this deployment assisted his team locally. “[MoDOT] utilized a lot of the Missouri National Guard initially when they got into town on Dec. 30. We said to them, come down to [Interstate] 55 and help us because [there was flooding there]. Then, we utilized them to maintain a lot of our road closures,” Blair said. The state of emergency was reflected in many local neighborhoods. For instance, Valley Park had a mandatory evacuation in place. A few communities in Fenton were surrounded by water and temporarily trapped. Furthermore, when a sewage treatment plant in High Ridge was flooded, people in that area were instructed not to use their water. While MoDOT was working fast to clear the roads, superintendent Dr. Eric Knost was working with a team to sandbag Eureka High School on Dec. 29. “[Water] was already on the fields. We had steps going down to the lower football field, the practice field, and somebody would go down, look, and say ‘it’s up another step.’ It was slowly coming our way and getting on the parking lot. We used all the sand that we had and we felt good about.


hen a flood struck over the 2015-2016 winter break, I began scheduling interviews and researching weather patterns on governmental and local websites immediately. As with every story, I checked my statistics using multiple sources and went straight to people who I knew were directly involved with the news.

it, but slowly those crest predictions started changing,” Knost said What was once projected to be around 40 feet, the flood crest in Eureka rose to 46.06 feet on Dec. 30. This meant that Eureka’s gyms were flooded. Once the water receded, focus shifted from emergency response such as sandbagging to cleanup and aid. Blair says MoDOT had a two main tasks to complete. “Recovery is [focused in] one area that has a slide, and we’re still inspecting our roads and bridges to see if there is any damage. As we quantify that damage, and with all of the money we already spent with all of my employees working day and night for however many hours, we will be filling out a lot of paperwork…in an effort to reimburse us,” Blair said. For Eureka, there was more to do as the three gyms all needed new flooring. According to Knost, most of Eureka’s damages will be compensated for neatly. “Roughly speaking, our repairs will cost us $1,000 which is what our deductible is. The cost [without insurance] is probably well over $1 million,” Knost said. The main gym is expected to be completed by the end of February, but it will take until the summer to restore everything. Knost also said some areas will be improved thanks to funding already set aside by Prop 4. Meanwhile, activities director Mitch Lefkowitz says Eureka athletics is having to work closely with the rest of the district. “All the high schools in the district tried to do their best to help accommodate some of [Eureka’s] games. They needed to take care of some of their initial games, then we started to look long term,” Lefkowitz said. “Last week we took a JV and a varsity boy’s basketball game. We checked to make sure there’s not conflict for the facility or gym space. If it’s available, we offer that to them.” Worldwide, the future is uncertain. A meteorologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in an article for PBS that this summer will see most of the effects of the super El Niño; some farmers will be helped by extra precipitation and warmer weather, and some will be severely hurt. Johnson said weather changes could potentially impact all aspects of life. “If there’s climate change and they don’t have snow in the mountains, like the Himalayas, then that supply of water doesn’t get to the people. There’s about a billion people that depend on ice melt from the Himalayas for their water source. What that could lead to is a refugee crisis in certain parts of the world when people are moving to go get water. That creates political problems and instability,” Johnson said. Locally, Blair said one way to keep up to date with how flooding or winter weather is affecting the area and roads is to visit or download the MoDOT app.

16. NEWS LITERACY {LASTING CHANGES RIGHT NOW} From international summits on climate to students searching for a greener future, people are looking for ways to live more sustainably in light of widespread acceptance of climate change. Climate change, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), follows a natural cycle of variations, but it is made more extreme by human activity and could impact the world in numerous ways. NASA reported that even if humans ceased releasing greenhouse gases today, climate change would still impact future generations. Looking at the state of the Earth raises concerns that the effects of climate change are too far past reconciliation with a sustainable lifestyle. One world, becoming greener The warmest year ever, according to the NOAA and NASA, was 2015. It exceeded the previous warmest year, 2014, by the widest margin ever (.29 degrees Fahrenheit); the world was .90 degrees Celsius (1.62 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average. Scientists warn that if this reaches the pivotal two degrees Celsius mark (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), climate change could become irreversible. Such large scale issues require collective perusal of progress. In Paris, France last year, 195 parties from around the world attended the COP21 (Conference of Parties, 21st meeting). The COPs began with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty for discussions about the effects of change. An agreement to limit carbon emissions was a focus of the COP21 and was adopted on Dec. 12. Lessening the effects of change like this is mitigation. Adaptation is another approach to climate change that is paired with mitigation. Brazil has adapted by through transitioning toward depending more on ethanol as an alternative fuel. UNICA, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, was formed in 1997 after Brazil was well into its change. In 2007, ethanol use overtook that of gasoline; however, biodiesel club sponsor Darren Peters says this would be harder to accomplish in the U.S. “Sugarcane is the most efficient plant at producing sugar, so [Brazil] can convert a whole lot of that into ethanol, and they’ve gotten very good at it. I think [the U.S.] could probably approach that if there was a legitimate effort for that, but you have to also understand that Brazil’s government sanctions that and our government would not,” Peters said.


Land of the free, home of the wasteful According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, in 2011 the U.S. was the country with the second highest total carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption. (China was first.) Oil causes pollution when burned and ecological disasters when spilled. The NOAA says domestic U.S. oil production peaked around the 1970s, so the U.S. is increasingly relying on foreign oil. Junior Ariel Burbridge has been studying the use of biofuels as an alternative fuel for Authentic Science Research since June. “My project is producing ethanol from cereal. I think a huge problem that we face is how dependent we are on foreign oil. Renewable energy needs to be experimented with because [it has] a lot of potential. [For example,] a lot of people blend ethanol with gasoline and even that burns a lot cleaner than pure gasoline,” Burbridge said. Some other alternative energy products being explored around the world include wind, solar, and hydropower. Peters said ways to be more sustainable on a local level are being explored by the Biodiesel Club. “We found out that [biodiesel is] a carbon neutral fuel and a renewable fuel just from all of research that we did along with those first few lab activities. You’re basically returning to the atmosphere the carbon dioxide that the plants are taking out,” Peters said. Sophomore Zane Sabbert completed a full year research project on sustainability for his Advanced Language Arts and Research Presentation class last year. According to Sabbert, anyone can take steps toward a more sustainable future. “[I practice being sustainable by] recycling. I don’t drive, but my grandpa has an electric car. Even conserving like turning of water when you brush your teeth saves a ton, and turning off lights helps too,” Sabbert said. The EPA lists other ways individuals can be green. For example, one can switch to efficient ENERGY STAR light bulbs and other household products, better insulate homes, compost, reduce waste, and reuse products. Sabbert says if people do not work to renew the Earth, then change contrary to the global warming will be slow to happen. “We should incorporate [learning about sustainability] into our education system. That would be some sort of way to drill in that everyday actions affect the environment. It’s human[ity’s] choice is we want to emit gases,” Sabbert said.

efore approaching this story, my fellow writer and I decided to poll students. Climate change is often marked as extremely controversial, but the poll results said otherwise. With this information, we wrote with the angle of providing some solutions to the problem the school believed in.

17. EDITING {ALUMNI HALL OF FAME HONORS GRADUATES} During the inaugural ceremony of the Alumni Hall of Fame, five alumni were inducted for their outstanding achievements after graduating. The requirements to be inducted include having been a graduate for 10 years, achieving outstanding academic and community service, and being nominated by a faculty member. The Hall of Fame, created by the Rockwood Summit Alumni Association, will continue to induct new members each year. The induction was accompanied by another unique change; an alma mater, or a school song, was created in celebration of the first ceremony. The Emcee of the event, Lara Corvera, graduated in 1997, and said to see the Hall of Fame recognize distinguished alumni and all of the other changes that are being enacted this year for Homecoming are exciting. “Tradition is something you do until you find something better. High schools are constantly evolving, they change and become better. Hopefully, this change can become a tradition. It was fun to be invited back; it’s fun to be a part of a new program. As an alumna, it is nice to see other alumni recognized for their accomplishments since they graduated,” Corvera said. Geoff Glidden, nominated by industrial teach teacher Rolland Garrison, graduated in 2005 then went to the University of Missouri. He had many achievements in aeronautics and space research. Glidden could not make it to the ceremony, but in his audio acceptance, he said he was “honored” to be inducted. Alumnus Derrick Johnson was nominated by social studies teacher Brent Batcheller and graduated in 2003. After graduating, Johnson attended Lindenwood University and won several weightlifting championships, and he said the ceremony illustrated how much he achieved since then. “Tonight just reflects all of those things that I’ve been able to get accomplished. From weight lifting to academics, all of those things I’ve been able to pit together and it’s a proud moment there that I would even be nominated in the first hall of fame class ever. I’m motivated now to do even more, on a weightlifting bases, on a coaching basis, and on a community basis,” Johnson said. Bruce Walker graduated in 2000 and was nominated by choir teacher Angela Rice. He attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for


his baccalaureate then Central Washington University for his master’s degree. Walker conducts orchestras in Washington state and in other countries as well. He said his high school experience made college easier and it was great to come back years later and see some similarities despite many changes. “I left Rockwood Summit feeling really good, almost over prepared for the world. I quickly found out as I went to college, I knew everything that I needed to know, and was basically having a great time. To come back here, to this high school, 14 years later, a lot has changed,” Walker said. Alumnus Brian Taylor Urruela was nominated by language arts teacher Suzanne Rainey. He became an infantryman in the Army after graduating in 2004. Urruela received a Purple Heart after his vehicle was hit by roadside bombs in Iraq and he lost his right leg below the knee. After retiring from the Army, he founded a nonprofit program called VETSports in 2012. According to Urruela, the high school experience should be appreciated because it’s about building strong relationships. “High school is about family and community and friendship, keeping those ties strong, helping each other out, and being one. Take advantage of every second in high school, don’t take it for granted. Understanding the importance of it, that’s something I didn’t do. I had a lot going on and I didn’t understand how important it was here and how much you should appreciate the time that you spend here,” Urruela said. Angela Cartnal Vietmeier graduated in 1999 and was nominated by journalism teacher Clay Zigler. She became a freelance Production Manager in New York developing events such as The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Concert and other events for shows. Vietmeier attended Webster University. Vietmeier said the Hall of Fame is another way to appreciate alumni and their successes, and students should follow their desires and work hard to meet their goals. “It’s nice to know that the high school cares, sees what the alumni are doing, and want to recognize their achievements and what they’ve accomplished since they’ve graduated. My biggest advice is to continue to work hard, and whatever your passions are in school, make sure you follow those. Whatever your dreams are, don’t think that you can’t do anything because you can,” Vietmeier said.

ith five unique stories to report on one page, I had to work hard to condense all the information I gathered. I wrote this story again the next year, but this year I handed it off to a staff member and gave him my editing strategies.

18. EDITING {SOMEWHERE TO CALL HOME} The United States is a melting pot filled with a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and traditions; some students leave the states to connect with their heritage by going back to their roots. During various family trips, six students looked into their personal histories and explored their ancestral homes. Sophomore Nikhil Mitra went to Israel last summer, with his immediate family and grandmother, to visit his extended family. While there, Mitra said he and one of his younger brothers had their bar mitzvah at the West Wall, which is considered the holiest place where Jews can pray. “It was like a birthright trip, but we did mostly go because of the bar mitzvah. A lot of it was going and seeing places; going to the Wall in Jerusalem for the bar mitzvah was like a coming of age. It’s cool to see everything that was there,” Mitra said. For Mitra, this journey home was both a celebration and a remembrance. “We visited [our grandfather]’s tomb. He lived there for the majority of his life, then came here and had my mom,” Mitra said. “It’s good to know where you came from, how you fit in, what happened before you, and to learn about your family. It was especially nice with my grandpa being gone to be in that area.” Travelling also gave junior Neha Gupta insight to her family’s traditions. Gupta’s parents and older brother were all born in India. Their family has lived in America for 20 years. During the two times Gupta has gone to India with her family, she said that she saw how little customs were lost in translation even though larger traditions stayed intact. “Diwali, [a major Indian holiday, on Nov.11], so my mom is cleaning the house,” Gupta said. ‘In India, you paint your house again, so that’s not happening here. But, she’s going to do her best to get every bit of dust out. Kids not going to school that day can’t really be done here. I think that since we’ve moved here, and it’s been a while, my parents have done a really good job of maintaining the Indian culture they grew up with and adapting to the culture that my brother and I have grown up with.” Customs are not always the only things lost during moves; ways of living can dramatically change as well. Junior Riley Weaver and her family have moved six times: from Canada, to Germany, back to various places in Canada, and finally America. Weaver said she remembers more of her time in Canada since she was born there and has lived there for the majority of her life. According to Weaver, her last home in Canada (Edmonton, Alberta, specifically) was significantly different to homes in America. “When you live in Canada, there’s more nature around you. I had two acres of woods around my house, so I was really by myself in my house. But, out here we moved somewhere where I can look into someone else’s window from my window, and that was really different because I never lived that close to someone,” Weaver said. While these types of differences can make some uncomfortable, for others those oddities are what make places special. Freshman Emma Opoku’s family is from Ghana. Her parents were born there, and they are honorary monarchs of the Ashanti and Fante tribes. Opoku last went to Ghana when she was in kindergarten, but she still corresponds with her family there, and her parents visit Ghana annually. Opoku said the contrasts from life in the United States that she saw there stuck in her mind the most. “The most memorable part would be seeing how different it was. My


grandpa had his house, and my uncle lived in a section of his house. They had chickens in the back. Everything was so close. There were big markets, and people actually walked around with bowls on their heads selling stuff,” Opoku said. Perhaps the most prominent aspect of places that make them unique is its people. Weaver, for instance, said her family and friends keep attracting her back to her birthplace. “Canada is my home because all of my family lives there. If I could move anywhere, I would probably move to the London, Ontario area just so I could be close to my family,” Weaver said. Similarly, Gupta said the limited time she spent in India during the summer made her appreciative of the time she spends with family. “[My cousins and I] would just play games when we visited because we didn’t get to see each other very often. Anytime we get together, it’s like we’re five again. We play tag and run around the house,” Gupta said. Having made five trips to Sri Lanka with her family, junior Samantha Wijeweera made the sixth one last year by herself. She stayed with her cousins every time she visited, like Gupta did. Her father was born in Sri Lanka, an island country off the coast of India; however, Wijeweera was born in the United States. According to Wijeweera, her experiences in Sri Lanka deviated from what she normally sees here. “[In Sri Lanka], you would drive on the different side of the road, and there’s no stoplights. You just go, and it’s hectic,” Wijeweera said. “I took for granted all of the cold weather [in St. Louis]. Right now, I don’t want it. But I realized I actually like the cold because it was so hot when I was [in Sri Lanka]. Also, the way people treat other people there is kinder than over here. I feel like people there are more respectful to their elders.” While Wijeweera spent lots of time absorbing this new culture during her trips, she said she still was not able to feel fully integrated in the Sri Lankan lifestyle. “Food is a way to immerse yourself in a culture. But, I didn’t eat true, genuine Sri Lankan food because I can’t tolerate spicy food. I feel like that was a barrier [to being fully immersed],” Wijeweera said. Cuisine is a cornerstone of many cultures. Meals often bring families together. When freshman Maxwell Yu visits his family in China, he says his family goes out to eat and that what Americans think about Chinese food is not always the reality. “Restaurant food from China is definitely different from restaurant food that’s supposed to be Chinese in America. Chinese food doesn’t include orange chicken, that’s American. There’s a lot of things that they claim to be Chinese, but they’re not,” Yu said. Opoku says that breaking these common stereotypes is a benefit of travelling, and that her experiences have showed her this. “I think a lot of people expect everywhere except for where they live to be poor countries or struggling countries. But, when you go there, they’re not really struggling as much as you would expect. They’re fine with how they’re living. Travelling gives you this wider perspective on how things work,” Opoku said. All six students say they keep in touch with their relatives around the world, and they want to go back to their roots again. Connecting with family is, according to Wijeweera, just another plus of taking the time to journey home. “I’ve been able to talk with a side of my life that I’m not normally able to talk to. Because I was able to go over there [to see my cousins], it was a bonding experience between us, and I’m really happy I was able to go,” Wijeweera said.

y first draft for this story was, in technical terms, a complete mess. Trying to combine six different cultures and stories is difficult. It wasn’t until my editors and adviser read the story over and gave me suggestions that I was able to organize it coherently.



t wasn’t until this year as Editor-in-Chief that I had enough time to focus on design. With my time, I took risks and tried story formats and layouts that we hadn’t done before, like this Homecoming spread.



ast May, I created a subscription program, allowing alumni and relatives of students to stay connected to the school while students and staff still get the paper for free. We put it in the seniors’ annual gift bags and the back to school newsletter. It already raised over $1,000.

Alexis White SJOY Portfolio  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you