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TheExpress volume 21


Issue 04


The Adderall Effect Looking for a burst of energy or help during a test, many students have turned to prescription drugs like Adderall. See why students are using it and the potentially harmful effects.

PAge 33-35

February 2014


Blue Valley Northwest High School


Above: Sophomore Regan Muth and fellow BVNW students perform in a flash mob during the Diversity Assembly Feb. 7 (photo by Caroline Trupp).


The AddeRall effect

Adderall is a prescription drug used to treat ADD, but that is not all it is being used for. Find out the risks and reasons for students using Adderall.




Rough Riding

for 12-15 Food thought

Look through the eyes of BMX rider, junior Ben Palsson and see how his passion for bikes has impacted his life.

Find out how a simple family dinner may improve students’ performance in school.

10-11 Coaches Corner

of the 16-19 Pieces past

Check in with three winter season coaches and see why they started coaching, their most memorable moments coaching and more.

Social Studies teacher Matt Christensen spends his time furthering his love of history. Explore his collection of war memorabilia and how he started this hobby.









Blooming Passion

Senior Helen Hsu turned her creativity into her job arranging corsages at the Hy-Vee floral department.

23-25 Frozen

Read more to find out what conditions can make for a snow day and how students spent their days off from school.


Culture and Choreography

Paying homage to her culture through traditional Indian dance, sophomore Nandita Daga shares her passion for the art of dance and her heritage.

s the grass always 36-41 Igreener?

Weighed on an unfair scale

In today’s society, students are pressured to be the best student in their grade. But is this pressure too much for students?

45 Raise your glass

If 18-year-olds can vote, gamble and fight in wars, they should be able to drink alcohol, too.


The cults of competition

Honor societies are now more about the charade than they are about the integrity they advertise.

The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has caused conversation over its potential influences on students, both beneficial and destructive. Below: Student fans in The Pound and varsity cheerleaders cheer the boys varsity basketball team on during their game against BVN Jan. 31 (photo by Maddison Barley).

The Express Staff Editor-in-chief Delaney La Fon

Print Editor Meredith Johnson

ONLINE Editor Cara Brashears

Design Editor Holly Noon

Sports editor Liz Kuhlmann

visual Editor Michaela O’Connor

Copy Editors Sarah Hirsch Ankit Kadakia Madeline Maloney


Olivia Baird Laney Breidenthal Claudia Chen Madison Graves Sidney Hallak Brooklynn Langham Avery Mojica Greyson Woerpel Natasha Vyhovsky

Photographers Maddison Barley Lindsay Haight Natalie Pyle Nicole Tenold Caroline Trupp

Business Manager Zach Zelinski


Owen Sinn



Jim McCrossen

The Express is the official high school news publication of the Blue Valley Northwest High School, an open forum distributed to all students seven times a year. This is the February issue of volume 21. Subscription rates are $10. The Express is printed by Osage Printing, 400 N Liberty St Independence, MO 64050. This is a student publication and may contain controversial matter. Blue Valley Unified School District No. 229 and its board members, officers and employees disclaim any responsibility for the content of this student publication; it is not an expression of School District Policy. Students and editors are solely responsible for the content of this student publication.




The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014


riding By B r o o k ly n n L a n g h a m

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

Junior Ben Palsson wheels down a ramp at the Overland Park skate park. He enjoys particiapting in BMX street and park riding in his free time 05 (photo by Nicole Tenold).


edal, pedal, lift…soar. As dirt flies up from the earth, his feet sweep the ground and he lands his bike. Junior Ben Palsson prepares himself for yet another trick on his BMX bike. Bikes have always been a big part of Palsson’s life, he began riding bikes at a very young age and once he could ride a basic bike, he decided to try BMX riding. Palsson said that he began doing BMX when he was 8 years old, but did not start taking it seriously until April 2011. He now works as a bike mechanic at Bike Source and does BMX with any spare time he has. “I packed my bags and came here from Georgia and left a lot of stuff over there so I didn’t really have much to do,” Palsson said. “I went back and got all my stuff including my regular bike, and when I came back I decided to ride my bike out to the skate park. I jumped a few things and thought it was really fun… ever since then I’ve been hooked [on BMX].” Once Palsson moved to Overland Park, BMX gave him an opportunity to commit to something he loved. “I didn’t really like the idea of coming here and having a coach tell me what to do, and with BMX it’s kind of my own thing,” Palsson said. There are three different types of BMX riding: street, dirt and park. Palsson said that he usually rides park and street, meaning that he rides at either a skate park or on community ledges or stairs and anything else he can do tricks on. Palsson commits anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a week riding bikes, and said that he tries to ride at least once a day when the weather permits. Although BMX is a single person sport, Palsson said that he has met lifelong friends from going out and riding. “Each person has their own style… it’s just really nice to get inspiration from them.”


Above: Junior Ben Palsson stands on his bike tire as it spins around him. He began to pursue BMX riding seriously in April of 2011 (photo by Nicole Tenold).

When Palsson lands a new trick after constant practice, he said he gets what are called the ‘new trick shakes,’ once he has landed, his whole body is taken over by the landing.

i get on my bike and i just go. i forget about all my troubles and whatever else is going on and it’ll just make my day better

-Junior Ben Palsson

“I’ll come off of maybe a 12 foot drop and I’ll just shake and be like,‘whoa, I just did that,’” Palsson said. “The feeling of accomplishment is probably one of the best feelings.” For Palsson, BMX is not only a

hobby or sport, but also an escape. After the tragic loss of his best friend at the beginning of 2013, Palsson said that going out and riding for hours on end would help clear his mind, and ultimately help him heal over his loss. “It [biking] really took my mind off of it, and to look at a lot of the good things that were going on,” Palsson said. “It was the first time I was actually happy after his death, when I rode.” Thor Palsson, Palsson’s father said BMX has greatly impacted Palsson’s life. Although he was at first scared of the injuries that come from BMX, he said Palsson has come a long way and knows how to protect himself and bail himself out of a fall. “He needs to have something exciting going on,” Thor said. “I’m just

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

surprised how he can do it for eight to 10 hours at a time.” Once Palsson started picking up tricks and was beginning to spend a lot of time on his bike, Thor knew he was committed and serious about BMX riding. “[I see] focus when [Palsson] is riding,” Thor said. “I think mainly since it’s not really a team sport, it’s something he can just rely on himself for.” The mechanical aspect of riding and knowing how to fix and perfect things, is a trait Thor believes Palsson has inherited from him. “He’s quick with figuring things out,” Thor said. “If you know the mechanics of the bike and the physics of it, it helps.” Palsson agrees that his dad is very supportive of his BMX riding, but his other friends and family also support his hobby. “My parents are supportive and my peers think it’s a really cool, interesting hobby of mine,” Palsson said. “My dad is a lot more supportive of me now more than ever and my mom of course is always telling me to wear a helmet.”

Handle bars 8.6 inches bigger

BMX is known for its dangerousness and injuries. Palsson said that before riding, riders have to know the consequences of BMX. Palsson has had a fair share of minor injuries, but has yet to break any bones. “I’ve sprained my right foot two times and both of my wrists are kind of screwed up,” Palsson said. “It’s expected [getting injured], you’re not invincible. It’s mainly the will that keeps you trying to do that trick over and over again until you get it.” As for his future, Palsson said he is not riding to become famous or to get sponsored, he simply rides for the fun of it. Palsson said he has high hopes of continuing to work his way up as a bike mechanic at Bike Source, and eventually open up his own BMX specific shop in the area. Bikes are his passion, and he will continue to work, ride and incorporate bikes into his life, in anyway possible, Palsson said. “I ride to have fun and to have a positive influence and just to express myself and clear my mind, because nothing really clears my mind as much as BMX does,” Palsson said. “It’s the most fun I could ever have.”

Above: Standing on his bike seat and handle bars, Palsson shows one of his many biking tricks (photo by Nicole Tenold).

bike breakdown Palsson points out the parts of his BMX bike that are different from a regular bicycle.


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Kyle Farrington Swim and Dive What is your most embarrassing moment as a coach? One year I was joking around at practice, just because I’m impulsive, I was joking around and took one of those chairs and threw it in the pool while mock yelling at a kid. But then at the banquet, one of the seniors talked about the moment and made it sound like I was really irate and threw this giant tantrum and threw a chair in the pool. That was pretty embarrassing because the parents didn’t know the context of it, and I thought they thought I was a hot head.

What is your favorite part about coaching? The confidence I see in the kids. At the end of the season, seeing the looks on their faces when they taper well and they know they’ve had a great season ending meet. All the work they’ve done has paid off. It’s funny to watch those kids have a swagger walking across the deck, feeling really good about what they just did. The confidence is really pretty neat. They’re proud of themselves; they know I’m proud of them. It’s a big deal and it’s kind of why I do it. Farrington first started coaching when he was in middle school teaching swim lessons. From there, his love for swimming and coaching the sport grew. Farrington received his first head coaching job in 1999 when he was a sophomore in college, coaching a high school varsity water polo team. He started coaching at BVNW in 2007 as the head coach of the boys program, and a year later took over the girls program, too. Under his instruction, the swim program has three EKL championships and a state championship as well as an abundance of second place finishes in the EKL.


Senior Jeremy Grinnell on his coach, Kyle Farrington: Farrington is a great coach, he is both fun and serious when he needs to be. He is both individual and team oriented. And he not only works to create fast swimmers, but good citizens of society.

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | February 2014

Tim Serbousek

Football and Wrestling

How much time do you dedicate to coaching? Every minute of the day until I sleep, and then I dream about it. Which is horrible sometimes, and sometimes it’s good. It’s never ending. The only time I can get away from it is if I leave. I literally have to go on vacation, and I can’t answer my phone…I still get phone calls. It’s never ending.

What is your favorite part of coaching? Watching kids succeed when they are the underdog. Watching kids who weren’t really very good, become very good. It’s easy to coach the good ones, you just guide them with a few things. But to really help kids get better, that’s enjoyable. Also, my most memorable moment coaching was, just like any dad I’m sure, getting the opportunity to coach my own kids.

Do you have any regrets from your coaching career? There were some kids, when I was a younger coach, I kicked off, and I should’ve helped them more. That was back when I was young and thought everyone should toe the line. Everyone doesn’t because not everyone is the same.

Serbousek has been coaching for a total of 32 years and has been at BVNW since the school opened. According to Serbousek, he is living the dream by coaching not one, but two of the sports he really wants to coach. Serbousek said coaching wrestling has helped him grow as a person; in his younger years coaching was solely about wrestling but now he realizes his coaching position gives him an opportunity to try and help kids in other ways.

Brian Bubalo

Girls Basketball Why did you begin coaching? I like sports. I like the competition. I like the strategy of competing against another team and I like teaching the game. I like seeing players develop and become better players and I like seeing them succeed. I like working with the girls and seeing them get better. During the summer, I like working with the girls individually. Anything that involves the girls getting better or the team getting better, I like that.

Are there any parts of coaching you could live without? Bubalo started coaching in 1975 at Lexington High School in Missouri as a freshman football coach and scouting coach for the varsity, a jv boys basketball coach, and a boys track coach. After coaching boys basketball for 17 years, Bubalo made the transition to girls basketball once his sons began to play so he could watch their games. After going into retirement for one year last year, Bubalo was offered a coaching position and teaching job at BVNW, and said his experience here thus far has been a great one.

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | february 2014

The hard part is going to another game to watch someone else play. I know it’s important, but after awhile your eyes start to bounce up and down with the basketball. You’re a little bobble head doll. That’s when you know you’ve been to too many games and it’s time to go home.

Senior Lauren Mertz on her coach, Brian Bubalo: “I believe [Bubalo] has done a good job applying his wisdom of the game to our team’s strengths, and I’ve really enjoyed learning the game from a new perspective.”


By Laney (Photos by NicoleBreidenthal Tenold).


The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

New statistics suggest that making time for family dinners can improve students’ performance in school and prevent involvement in illegal activities


he question: What is one way families can decrease the chances that teens will smoke marijuana, use tobacco and drink alcohol? The answer: eat dinner together. In a study conducted of 1,003 teens aged 12 to 17, completed by CASAColumbia and published in September 2012, teens who had frequent family dinners (five to seven times per week) were more likely to have high-quality relationships with their parents. According to BVNW’s school psychologist Monica Krasovec, when families sit down and eat dinner together, it increases communication and empathy between family members. “[Family members] help each other understand what each other is going through,” Krasovec said. “In turn, it helps you associate and deal better as a family because you might understand where one family member

is coming from.” Any form of family bonding, not just eating a meal together, can increase communication and empathy, Krasovec said. She said it is only

Whatever your family consists of, it gives your family that time to do that bonding to give them that face-to-face time together. -School psychologist Monica Krasovec natural for humans to bond over food. “Since we’re social creatures and we tend to be social around food, it just happens; it’s just a natural time of the day for families to have dinner together,” Krasovec said. “It kind of assigns at that time, everybody has to sit down to eat at some point in the day. It seems to work best in our society to do it during mealtime. It’s

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

about finding the time to have that face-to-face conversation and ask, ‘How was your day?’” According to Krasovec, sitting down as a family and sharing a meal has numerous benefits. She said that parents model behavior, and if one has face-to-face family time with family members from an early age, it is a prime opportunity for one to learn several long-term things like social and problem-solving skills. For example, if parents asks their students how their day was and they respond with something negative about their day, the parents could respond by asking how the student would handle the situation in the future, Krasovec said. “Not only does the person who had the incident experience a problemsolving session, but anybody who’s witnessing that experiences how that person may have worked through their problem,” Krasovec said.


“Whatever your family consists of, it gives your family that time to do that bonding to give them that face-toface time together.” One of the most important things is making sure family makes the time to be together and work around each other’s schedules, Krasovec said. She said both parents and students must take responsibility and communicate with each other about how the student is doing; it is important to keep lines of communication open between them. “All of us are busy, especially teenagers,” Krasovec said. “You guys are involved in a ton of stuff. So we as parents, then, need to make a point of going to our student. As a student, if you are feeling something and your parent is busy, going to them and saying, ‘I really need to talk to you about something. Do you have time now, or maybe do you have sometime today that we could talk about something?’ Advocate for yourself with your parent because we do get so busy sometimes we don’t realize; we don’t pick up on the nonverbal cues that something might be going on.” Krasovec said she believes there is a correlation between amount of time families spend together and students’ performance in their schoolwork. In addition, she said that the skills that are built through one’s family establish a support system. “If someone is struggling in school with something, whether that is academic or emotional or something like that, they know they have that support system and they can go home and say, ‘I’m really struggling with this; help me problem-solve,’’’ Krasovec said. “You just have this built-in system of support. It’s nice to have that when your family can be


your go-to—that default for support. It does not only support academic success, but overall emotional success.” Wolves stick together in a pack in order to belong and for protection. Krasovec draws connections between this animal instinct and humans, saying that as a human being, one needs to feel like they belong to a group of people, which is usually a family. “If you’re left out, then you don’t learn the skills essential for survival,” Krasovec said. “It doesn’t have to be a traditional family; it doesn’t have to be mom, dad, brother and sister. It can be grandma, grandpa, aunt. As long as you have that foundational piece and you feel like you belong to at least another person, you are a family together.” For senior Abby Britton, eating dinner with her family is natural; they eat together most every night and they always have. In order for her family to eat together, they wait until Britton’s father returns from work or the teenagers are back from lacrosse practice, which can often mean eating as late as 10 p.m. In addition to eating meals together, Britton said that she and her family will occasionally remain at the dinner table for an hour or two following dinner and discuss thought-provoking questions that her father will ask. They call it Power of the Round Table. For Britton and her brother, eating dinner as a family is something they look forward to and enjoy. She said she believes eating as a family is very important. “[My family] never thought of just eating by ourselves,” Britton said. “We’re always like, ‘When is dad coming home so we can eat?’”

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

Britton said that when she has a family of her own, she will eat dinner with them every night because she has learned how important it is to her family. She believes that eating with her family has brought them closer. “Because we have dinners together, we do a lot more family-oriented stuff together that most families wouldn’t do,” Britton said. Britton said that family dinners are most important when she and her family are busy because it is

difficult to find the time to spend time together. “[My brother] and I are so busy doing events and plans that it’s kind of hard to find that pizza-and-movie night, Saturday time or Sunday time [together] because it’s just not there anymore,” Britton said. Normally, Britton’s mother cooks dinner for them every night. When things are at their busiest in the spring, Britton said that she and her family will go out to eat more than

Teens with a less than a very good relationship with their mother are...


as likely to have used marijuana

2.5 X

as likely to have used alcohol

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

usual. “I like [eating together] because we don’t get to see each other every second of the day,” Britton said. “It’s nice to regroup at dinner and just talk about what happened that day and stuff that’s going on. It’s really refreshing.”


as likely to have used alcohol


as likely to have used marijuana

Teens with a less than a very good relationship with their father are...




The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014 17

Social Studies teacher Matt Christensen shares his passion for history through his collection of war memorabilia. By Sidney Hallak


oming to set up communication lines in Germany during WWII, soldiers walked through the forest and into the burnedout remains of Buchenwald. Soldiers were struck by the remnants of crematoriums and the effects of the Holocaust. Most of those soldiers are no longer living, but their uniforms and their memories live on in the collection of social studies teacher Matt Christensen. Collecting war memorabilia has become Christensen’s hobby and he said he uses the pieces he collects in his classroom to help further enhance the experience. His collection started about five years ago and Christensen said it is all thanks to his mother-inlaw. “I got into [collecting] because my mother-in-law served in Vietnam,” Christensen said. “She was bringing a lot of Vietnam pieces into class and she was missing a [few] so I started buying the pieces. I have a lot of material that I collected for her which is powerful because she and I hunted it down.”

Christensen’s wife, Jen Christensen said she supports his hobby and it can be very interesting. The material that Christensen collects is focused on Vietnam, WWII and propaganda. “When he talks about all the gear soldiers wore in wars, and I can actually touch the gear, it makes sense,” Jen said.

I have a lot of material that I collected for my motherin-law, which is powerful because she and i hunted it down. -Social Studies teacher Matt Christensen In order to find items, Christensen looks on eBay, goes to antique stores, military surplus stores and auctions and has things donated to him. However, he said it can be tricky to find an item and he has to do a lot of research before buying things. “ [A WWII U.S. Marine Corps women’s uniform] is really hard to get a hold of and I found one on eBay and

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

I bid on it for a long time for a fairly high amount. [Bidding high was] my first mistake I kind of learned a lot from,” Christensen said. “When I got it home I realized it looks completely WWII but when you open it up the date’s wrong. So I kind of got burned there and I was really disappointed about it. I still made out okay but it’s frustrating because I thought I had the big find and you don’t find that many good finds.” Not all of his items have been bought on eBay though, and some take more work than others. An antiques store in Iowa had a uniform and was planning to split up the pieces, but Christensen said he felt like it was important to keep the uniform intact. He drove up to the Iowa store on the same day every year to discuss the uniform with the owner. Christensen wanted the owner not to split up the uniform and to sell it to him. After three years, he was finally able to buy the uniform and add it to his growing collection. Jen said she enjoys hearing the stories behind the pieces and seeing his new finds.


“They are really fascinating,” Jen said. “I enjoy history, and love thinking about the life behind the things he finds.” Over the years Christensen has been able to make some rare finds, but he is not interested in selling them. All of his collections are used in his classroom, which is why he believes people frequently donate to him. “I’ve made a lot of friends through the process of it and they’ll watch for items for you and some people bring me things,” Christensen said. “The best way I get my stuff is to let people know that I collect this stuff. I’m not doing it for sale, I use it for my classroom. A lot of military surplus dealers will call me and say, ‘A full collection of WWII material is going to go up for auction,’ but they don’t really want to sell all of it; they want to donate it because they want it to

be used for something positive rather than just to make money.”

“It’s surprising what people will want to get rid of that they don’t want to sell but they don’t want to keep Artifacts aren’t meant to be anymore,” Christensen said. “It’s bought, put in a case in your always surprising to me how much people want to get rid of their history, basement, and never looked how much they don’t want to care at. they are supposed to be about passing on to their families.” Christensen is interested in passing looked at and handled so down those artifacts though, to you can learn from it.” students and to future generations. Jen said she loves that he can bring -Social Studies teacher Matt Christensen authenticity to his classroom. He said he will bring in parts of his collection as the class studies different A uniform that came from one of time periods so the students can these donations is one of Christensen’s understand what it was like. Junior favorite pieces.  Some of his other Dan Stilley said it is really exciting to favorites include a B-17 fighter pilot see the artifacts Christensen brings in outfit that his grandfather wore in to class and it helps the history come WWII, a photograph of an Iowa town to life. on Armistice Day, and a radio that “I think artifacts are one of the saved a man’s life by taking a bullet.  best ways to teach history because you can actually reach out and touch history,” Stilley said. “Artifacts aren’t meant to be bought, put in a case in your basement, and never looked at, they are supposed to be looked at and handled so you can learn from it.” Christensen agrees, but many of the pieces he has collected do not just have educational value, they have sentimental value to him or other people. Jen said the pieces provide a window into someone else’s life and Christensen shares that idea. “It’s like a little mini history lesson of this guy’s life,” Christensen said.  “I’d like to think that when I bring [a uniform] in and show people what that guy did that people have a better appreciation for that time period and at the same time that guy’s legacy lives on.” Christensen hopes to eventually be able to contribute to a museum, or start a new one with his collection. He said he believes these collections are

On previous page: Items from Christensen’s war collection are displayed together. These items come from the Vietnam War and WWII (photo by Lindsay Haight). Bottom left: Christensen holds artillery and the radio that saved a mans life that was used in war. Christensen wears a vest also used in war (photo by Lindsay Haight).

meant to be an active part of learning and he wants to ensure that, by creating a non-profit museum. “I’d like Blue Valley to have a museum and those pieces would be housed at some central location,” Christensen said. “Then teachers would be able to check them out and use them in their room. That would be my ultimate goal.” Stilley said he would love for Christensen to create a museum, and he would want to contribute to it, or work there. Stilley has a smaller collection of Civil War relics so he

understands Christensen’s interest. “I thought [his collection] was really cool and I think collections of historical artifacts are some of the coolest collections around,” Stilley said.  For now, Christensen’s collections are stored at his house and he said Jen is not a fan of the extra clutter. Jen said most of the gear is in their storage room, but she understands why it is important to him. “[It’s important to Christensen because] he is a huge history buff and he loves to make history come alive

for his students,” Jen said. Christensen said some of his friends think he’s crazy for collecting and others think he’s crazy for not collecting more. He said he enjoys collecting not just because he learns more about the history, but also because he gets to share it with others.  “I’d liked to bring more things in for people to be able to touch and taste and feel and hold,” Christensen said. “You can learn a lot more from the story of history when you can actually see the items and see how they work.”

The Collection Take a look at some of the pieces of history that Christensen now cherishes.

“The hat with the red band on it is from a U.S. woman Marine. There were very few women who were enlisted in the Marine Corps during WWII; it’s a rare hat.”

“Each blue star represented a member serving in combat. This is unique because it has two sons from the same family”

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

“This is a common canteen used during Vietnam, but on the back of the canteen is written the lyrics to a popular anti-war song.”


Blooming Passion

Senior Helen Hsu incorporates her love for art by making corsages for special occasions at the Hy-Vee floral department By Madison Graves

Helen Hsu uses her unique artistic abilities to construct corsages at Hy-Vee (photo by Maddison Barley).


red felt-tip marker circles the date of the dance. Paper banners line the halls announcing the approach of the upcoming event. Students are thrilled as they eagerly consider who to ask. Plans are made, dresses are bought and the anticipation is high. However, senior Helen Hsu is busy putting together the corsages that will adorn wrists and lapels the day of the dance. Last August, Hsu began working in the floral department at Hy-Vee. As the youngest employee in the floral department, Hsu is responsible for the small arrangements such as corsages and boutonnieres often seen at Homecoming and Sweetheart dances. “I started making the arrangements because I really enjoy artistic things,” Hsu said. “When I am making corsages or any type of flower


arrangement it makes me feel really happy because I’ve always liked making crafts.” Hsu has been taking art classes since she was young and she incorporates her love of art in the small arrangements she puts together. According to Hsu, having prior art knowledge helps her ideas in her arrangement making.

Being in the floral department isn’t considered work for me. It’s more of a really fun hobby.

-Senior Helen Hsu

“I’ve been doing art since I was little,” Hsu said. “Whenever I do an arrangement, I like to make it

so that it’s symmetrical and so that everything looks pretty evened out.” Hsu claims the hardest part about her job is planning out the arrangement, because each one is different and unique in its own way. Each arrangement includes different options of fillers, or flowers used to fill in gaps in an arrangement. Whether it be roses, baby’s breath or wax flowers, each arrangement is always different from the last. “Each bouquet is different, so when you make one you can’t be like, ‘I want it to look exactly like this,’ because one might look different than the other,” Hsu said. “At the beginning it was kind of hard because I wasn’t used to it, but after a while you get better at it. I put passion into each bouquet I make.” Aside from all the enjoyment Hsu gets from creating different bouquets,

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

she said her job is sometimes stressful. Around the time of school dances there is a greater demand for corsages. “For Homecoming this year, we had a bunch of orders and you just have to get used to the rush,” Hsu said. “We have to plan everything out. We usually make corsages the week of the order because we use fresh flowers. I would say, for BVNW, we make a few hundred the week of a dance.” Before making arrangements at the floral department, Hsu was working with seasonal work. Since she started working in the floral department, her manager, Brooke Eldridge, said she has watched Hsu’s eagerness and readiness to learn the business. “She’s very artistic and she wants to learn and is willing to learn,” Eldridge said. “When people think of a flower shop they think it’s just putting flowers together, but there’s a lot of behind-the scenes stuff that she does to help us stay organized.” Helen takes what she has learned

both at school and at work and puts the two together when making her arrangements. Art teacher Chris LaValley said she sees Helen’s passion for art in her assignments and projects. “Art is definitely something she’s interested in,” LaValley said. “She shows a lot of attention to detail. There have been a couple projects she’s done that she incorporates flowers into.” Despite the stress of rush orders and the pressure of making appealing arrangements, Hsu says she loves what she does. According to Hsu, she enjoys working with flowers because it incorporates her passion and it’s an opportunity she finds very rare. She claims the best part of the job is seeing the looks on people’s faces when they get an arrangement. “Whenever you make an arrangement, it reflects what kind of person you are,” Hsu said. “Being in the floral department isn’t really considered work for me. It’s more of a really fun hobby.”

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

Left: Hsu constructs a corsage with red roses. Hsu has been working at the Hy-Vee floral department since August of last year. Top: Hsu glues her arrangement together. Each arrangement is made up of different types of flowers. Bottom: Hsu prepares her arrangement, piecing together the different aspects (photos by Maddison Barley).


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Frozen Snow days may seem like a simple decision to make, but district office reveals it is Not Always a Simple Task. By Olivia Baird

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEBRUARY 2014



A snowy Past

Snowfall totals over the years in Kansas City according to The Weather Warehouse 2009






4 5.6



12 16 20



ach time local weathermen forecast the chance of severe weather, students eagerly await the possibility of seeing “Blue Valley USD 229” scroll by the school closings list. Although snow days are a common topic of interest during the winter season, little is known about the factors that go into the decision the Blue Valley School District makes in the wake of winter weather. Assistant Superintendent Mike Slagle said the purpose of snow days is solely to maintain the safety of students and teachers. The decision, which is ultimately decided upon by the superintendent, is made with many sources of information in mind. Information from: the National Weather Service, the Public Works department, the bus companies’ reactions to running through their daily routes and other sources. “We get a variety of information very early in the morning, sometimes even the night before a potential snow day,” Slagle said. “Generally, we begin compiling information to make the decision around 4 a.m. We have other districts on the phone to determine whether or not the amount of snow or the temperature will create dangerous conditions.” Despite the fact that calls are made to Shawnee Mission and Olathe school districts, Slagle said that on occasion the districts differ in the decisions they make. In the case of Jan. 7, there was much unrest among students due to the Olathe school district not having school while Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley were in session. Slagle said the reason behind the disparity was because of an individual situation. “The school districts generally decide [on schools being canceled] together,” Slagle said. “Olathe and Shawnee Mission had agreed with us that we were going to have school that day. However, Olathe’s bus company reported that they had buses that were not starting. Individual problems that are specific to each district are generally the cause for one district’s schools



28 32 36


30.9 36.0


* 2014 totals through January 31st (Graphic by Owen Sinn). being canceled when others are not.” In addition to technical issues with the districts’ buses, Slagle said, there are many other possible cases caused by extreme weather that could potentially be reasons for a snow day. “Anything exceeding the safety threshold for our students causes us to cancel school,” Slagle said. “We will cancel for extreme snow, wind chill, temperatures, ice. There is no ‘magic number’ that we will cancel school for every time; each situation is different.” Although district office considers snow days a serious matter to be decided on with great care, senior Sarah Ingham said snow days can be a chance for a day of relaxation and fun. “If a snow day is called in advance,

I like to make plans with people to spend the night or have fun the next day or something,” Ingham said. “If I don’t know about it, I like to wake up really late and drink hot chocolate and read books and be cozy all day.” While snow days are a chance for students to relax and take a break from the pressures of the average school day, Slagle said they are decided upon with more than the thought of a day off in mind. “We’re worried about staff who live outside of Johnson County, we’re worried about students, we’re worried about the children at bus stops,” Slagle said. “We try to look at all aspects of the equation to make it safe for everyone to make it to school.”

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

1. 4.

2. 5.

3. Snow Day Photo Contest Entry Winners

1. Freshman Sophie Burge 2. Senior Nick Baker 3. Counselor Becky Coker 4. Freshman Mughees Choudhry 5. Senior Sarah Ingham The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014


PERSPECTIVES a visual retrospective of student life


1. Concentrating on their work, juniors Emma Rocky and Celina Allman sketch with charcoal in their drawing II class (photo by Caroline Trupp). 2. The SMNW ROTC team performed their competition routine during the Diversity Assembly Feb. 7 (photo by Lindsay Haight). 3. Performing a cover of Ed Sheeran’s song “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You,” senior Brandon Seepersad sings along to the strumming of his guitar (photo by Natalie Pyle). 4. Senior Sam Abrams chisels away pieces of plaster to create his artwork in sculpture class (photo by Caroline Trupp).


2. 26

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014


5. Sophomores Aaron Cheng and Cooper Trusdale get funky during their disco themed spirit day skit on music genre day (photo by Maddison Barley). 6. While playing against the BVN, freshman Darien Jackson makes his way down the court after stealing the ball from the Mustangs. The JV boys game ended in victory, 65-40 (photo by Maddison Barley).





The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014






3. 28

1. Dancing in the Diversity Assembly, senior Priyanka Rao performs a modernized take on traditional Indian dancing alongside senior Cori Moffett (photo by Natalie Pyle). 2. Taking on the SMS Raiders, senior Scout Watson dribbles down the court. The varsity girls’ first game of the season ended with a final score of 48-49 (photo by Natalie Pyle). 3. Senior Lauren Muth shows her artisitc ability while painting with watercolors (photo by Lindsay Haight). 4. Junior Chandler Barnes rehearses new music in her Chorale class (photo by Nicole Tenold).

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

PERSPECTIVES 5. Freshman Hayden Adams takes on the role of a pumped up football player during the freshman sports day spirit dance (photo by Nicole Tenold). 6. Junior Jack Lapin watches as the suspended balls in Newton’s Cradle swing back in forth during a lab in physics (photo by Lindsay Haight). 7. Sophomore Scott Brainard performs during the sports themed spirit dance. The sophomore class ended the first day of spirit week in the lead with 14 spirit points (photo by Maddison Barley).




7. The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

29 07

Culture & Choreography Sophomore Nandita Daga has been immersed in Indian dance since before she could talk, learning about her culture and religion through the experience of growing up with a mom who owns her own studio. By Natasha Vyhovsky


hythmic music floods from the speakers and the low pounding of a wooden block echoes in the small, brightly lit mirrored studio. As five best friends dance perfectly in sync, eyes locked on the wall ahead, they let their facial expressions and graceful, controlled movements tell stories of their culture. Sophomore Nandita Daga has been dancing since the day she could stand, watching and admiring the girls that would come to her house for her mom’s Bharatnatyam dance


classes. Bharatnatyam is a form of Indian dance composed of steps, hand and wrist movements, and facial expressions to depict scenes, as well as stories of Indian gods and goddesses. Originating in South India, Bharatnatyam is an important part of connecting Indian girls to their culture and religion, focusing on expression, emotion, beauty and concentration. “Since my mom has been teaching since I was born, I’ve basically grown up around dance,” Daga said. “The words, the rhythms and the movements have been stuck in my

head and I just know them by heart. That’s what I saw as a kid even before I knew what it meant.” Daga’s mom, Ritu Daga has been teaching Bharatnatyam as well as another form of Indian dance in the U.S. for 16 years, continuing her passion of teaching that began when she first started teaching as a young girl in India. Three years ago, Ritu began renting a building for her own business, Nartan Dance Academy, converting classes from the basement of her home, to a studio. “I started out with eight or 10 kids

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEBRUARY 2014

who would just come to my apartment and sometimes I would just go and [teach] classes at their houses,” Ritu said. “I would take [Daga] with me every time I went, so she was a part and parcel of the dance school from the day she was born.” Unlike typical dance classes in the U.S., Ritu said there are no levels in Bharatnatyam. Instead, a new class is available for girls to enroll in about every year. Each class stays together and advances their learning as a group until graduation. “This dance is one form that there is no time mark to it,” Ritu said. “You can’t see that you learned it for six years or eight years. There is no such thing as course; it’s like an ocean.” Daga, along with a fellow dancer, sophomore Surbahi Khachar, have advanced with their class and graduated the Bharatnatyam form of dance, in a ceremony including a performance and recognition of the dancers that have earned the title of a senior dancer after at least eight years of learning. Now that their class has graduated, they continue to practice every Sunday afternoon with Ritu as their instructor and plan to continue dancing for the rest of their lives. “When I dance, I just feel really free,” Khachar said. “I don’t think about anything else; all my problems go away for two hours. [Dance] is the way that I can express myself [and] express what these gods have done. I love dance because I remain intact with my culture, and it’s just a way for me to release and be free of everything.” Although it was their parents who introduced each of them to Bharatnatyam, Daga and Khachar both made their own decisions to Previous Page: Sophomore Nandita Daga holds a pose during one of the dances. This trick requires a lot of flexibility. Right: During rehearsal, sophomore Surabhi Khachar poses. The dancers practice multiple times a week (photos by Natalie Pyle).

continue putting in the time, effort, and dedication that the dance requires. Daga said that her favorite part of growing up with dance has been the inseparable bond she has formed with the girls in her class. The summer before her graduation two years ago, Daga’s group of five girls practiced every day, nine hours a day, for the entire summer, strengthening their friendships even more.

WHEN I DANCE, I FEEL REALLY FREE...ALL MY PROBLEMS GO AWAY FOR TWO HOURS. -Sophomore Surbahi Khachar “I’ve known them all for at least 10 years,” Daga said. “You spend so much time with each other and you know every little thing about each other.” Ritu wishes to continue teaching dance for the rest of her life. She hopes that she will continue to connect young girls with the culture they are missing out on from their homes in India.

“For me, introducing dance to [Daga] was [about] really keeping her close to the culture,” Ritu said. “I felt that, as a girl, this dance would give her a lot of concentration and endurance power. I wish that all my students, after they graduate, continue in any form. I really want the kids to continue and keep the culture alive. That is my goal.” Daga said she cannot imagine a day without dance. She plans to keep dancing until she is not able to anymore, and is currently aiming toward her goal of competing in a prestigious, local dance competition, along with Khachar. “Dance has been a huge part of my life,” Daga said. “It’s what I grew up with. It’s what I feel comfortable with. I just really enjoy it because it’s a way to lose yourself into this different world and forget about everything for a bit.”

Great for Dances!

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A common prescription drug, Adderall has been used illegally among some students to perform well in school. By Sidney Hallak


*The Express editors have changed this source’s name to protect the source’s identity.

34 06

lick, click, tap-tap-tap. Pens clicking, feet tapping and the clock ticking, these noises can be distracting during a test, and for someone with Attention Deficit Disorder they could make a difference between a passing score and a failing one. Strong stimulant drugs, like Adderall are prescribed to those with ADD to help them stay focused and control behavior problems. Yet, the pressure of testing has led students like senior Robert Smith* to take those drugs even though they don’t have ADD. “The first couple times I would take the test I felt uninterested and tired and unfocused on the test,” Smith said. “My mind was floating off in the middle of the test so I figured I needed something if I wanted to do the best that I could on the test.” About six percent of high school students have used Adderall in the past, according to BVNW school nurse Rebecca Imlay. She said it’s a significant problem because it is a prescription drug, which is illegal to use if it is not prescribed to an idividual, and a gateway drug. Sophomore Alexa Webber, who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), said she could not imagine taking a higher dose than what she is prescribed. The possible side

effects would include a loss of appetite, nervousness, restlessness, excitability, dizziness, headache, fear, anxiety and tremor. “[Adderall] really does make you concentrate,” Webber said. “For me it just puts me at normal so I can focus in class. If I took a higher dose then I probably would be too concentrated and I would never eat if I took a higher dose.” After taking Adderall that was not prescribed to him, Smith said he clearly noticed the side effects. During the test however, he did not notice anything but the test because he said he was so focused. “Besides the part of just being focused, I wasn’t hungry for the entire day because that was the first time I had taken it,” Smith said. “It was super effective on me, I was jittery all day but other than that nothing really [happened].” Imlay said people who have been prescribed Adderall start with a low dose, then work up to a therapeutic dose. Someone who takes it illegally is starting with a high dose, which stimulates the body a lot all at once. “Short term, you have a very quick, ‘Oh I have all this energy,’” Imlay said. “But a few kids have had underlying heart disease that didn’t know about it and then [Adderall is] rapidly raising

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

their heart rate and their blood pressure, and they’ve had side effects on a large scale with their heart from taking it.” Adderall is classified as a Schedule two drug, Imlay said, which means it has the highest potential to be abused and cause dependency. Smith said he would never use it for a normal school day, but Imlay said it is easy to develop a dependency after taking it just once. “I think that it’s kind of hush hush, and I think a lot of people do it and don’t think it’s a big deal,” Imlay said. “Illegal drugs like ADHD medicine are not regulated very well and it’s easy to get this medicine, and I really don’t know what the answer is.” Imlay, Webber and Smith agreed students who take Adderall illegally get it from students who sell their medicine or a sibling’s medicine. Webber said it is not common knowledge, which students take or sell Adderall. “I wouldn’t sell mine, it’s really expensive and there’s only a certain amount you can get at a time,” Webber said. For Smith, it was the extra help he needed on his test and he achieved the score he wanted, but he said he wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking it. “I’d say I would only

recommend it if you really struggle focusing and haven’t tried to get a prescription for it,” Smith said “That’s the only time I would recommend it just if you need it for something that’s like super important.” According to Imlay, the problem lies in education, because kids do not know what could happen to them by taking Adderall or similar drugs, like pain medications. She also said many kids convince themselves or their doctors they have ADD in

order to attain a medicine when in actuality they don’t need it. “You really need to think about taking it before you take [Adderall],” Imlay said. “In the short term it might make it easier for you, but in the long run when you’re out in a job and you have deadlines, stressors and the pressure of real life, what are you going to do then? You have to learn ways to cope and to study instead of using medications. You have to put those things in place and not rely on medication.”

1 in 8

teens have misused or abused prescription ADD medications

*according to a study done by The Partnership at

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

35 07

Is The

Grass Always

Written by Delaney La Fon with Reporting by Madeline Maloney

Greener? 36

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

With the newly legalized use of recreational marijuana in Colorado, the line is becoming blurred between the drug’s potential benefits and harmful effects among students. The question remains, is the grass is truly greener on the other side of state line?


ingers gripping the burning paper, Rusty inhales, exhales and inhales once more. Flicking the burnt nub on to the cement, he walks into school and is ready to start the day. Rusty plays varsity basketball, is an average student and enjoys exceeding the speed limit in his white Ford Mustang. Rusty will light his joint three more times, once again during lunch, before he walks onto the court and on his way home from his day at school. Rusty will repeat this every day for the next two years of high school and never second-guess what his future holds. After being convicted of two felonies, having been incarcerated for more than four years, and completed 12 rehabilitation programs, 2006 graduate Rusty Maloney said he now looks back on his high school experience of smoking marijuana as the door to his drug addiction. “There may be recreational users, but those people ... will have problems, whether it’s through their families … or through the law,” Maloney said. “I never thought it would come to the point of me being addicted to other drugs. No one wakes up in the morning and tells themselves, ‘One day I’m going to be incarcerated because of this.’ And if you do, there’s another place for that, it’s called an insane asylum.” As of Jan. 1, recreational marijuana use is legal within the state of Colorado and soon to become legal

in Washington, with 21 states total allowing the use of medical marijuana. The growing acceptance of marijuana stirs conflict as the line between benefiting and potentially harming citizens becomes blurred. “I think weed was more taboo up until recently, but now it’s always on TV, it’s always on the news, politicians talk about it, it’s in our music,” senior Ben Charpentier said. “It has become such a big part of our culture that I think kids are interested by it more now, especially since it is being legalized. It doesn’t seem that bad to try anymore if it isn’t bad to do in other states.” From suffering the consequences of drug addiction, Maloney said he sympathizes with both sides on the issue of legalization. He said he recognizes the increased lure marijuana could have on teens but also the ways it could improve states economically, by setting high tax on the drug and decreasing the amount of tax dollars spent on imprisoning criminals charged with offenses related to marijuana use. “I obviously understand that there’s a certain excitement that you get from breaking the law and smoking,” Maloney said. “That’s the way kids find that excitement is by sneaking around their parents, sneaking around the cops and smoking. If it’s available, I don’t think people are going to say ‘Hey there’s the weed, now where’s the meth at?’ In the long term, legalization is the step in the


right direction, it will take away that excitement among kids and decrease use.” Legalized recreational marijuana use may pose threats to school environments, according to Overland Park police officer and BVNW Student Resource Officer Jason Hill. Although the drug is not legal to use in Kansas, the more relaxed attitude toward marijuana use that is spreading along our border may cause more students to think likewise, Hill said. “Anyone who is using it consistently … [will have] a difference in their attitude, their social life and their performance and focus in the classroom,” Hill said. “I think legalizing it could be devastating for schools. It’s already such a big problem that I think it would become worse if you could buy it at just 21. It would open the door for people who do care about the law but now could experiment with it.” Even with school drug prevention

Stoned Age

procedures, like drug dog campus searches and Dare to Care meetings for athletes, Charpentier said he believes many of the students still view the administration as oblivious to the reality of illegal drug use among students and even tend to push aside the problem instead of helping students.

Anyone who is using [marijuana] consistently … [will have] a difference in their attitude, their social life and their performance and focus in the classroom. - Jason Hill, BVNW Student Resource Officer and Overland Park Police Officer

“[Dare to Care] is a total waste of time,” Charpentier said. “You just watch a movie for 30 minutes, and say you’re not going to drink or do drugs,

Students and teachers weighed in and shared their views of marijuana’s presence in the BVNW community and how legalization of the drug may affect the school’s environment.






























$ **This poll was taken from a total of 362 BVNW students and faculty members. 38 38

but half the people there go off and do it. It’s doing nothing, especially when the law already isn’t scaring people. It’s just a way for the school to get you to ... say you’re not going to do it and really just to clear their conscious and act like they are helping us.” According to BVNW associate principal and athletic director Steve Harms, Dare to Care is a program to inform and educate student athletes and their families about the ill-effects of underage drinking and drug abuse. Not only does it explain the law to attendees, it creates a comfortable environment for families to communicate openly about the issue. “We aren’t going to stop [substance abuse], but we certainly want to give students and parents the tools to know how to handle situations to make sure we learn and grow from it, not just sweep it under the rug,” Harms said. After presenting the program to student athletes for nine years, Harms said he believes the method has


Smoke marijuana or have in the last year.


Know someone who has sold or bought marijuana in the past year.


Do not know anyone who has been involved in the use or selling of marijuana.

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014


On the Map

21 states including Washington, D.C. have legalized the use of either medical or recreational marijuana. Legislation in many other states has been proposed but failed to be passed.

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary 2014

Legalized recreational marijuana use Legalized medical marijuana use No legal use of marijuana

definitely spread awareness, but has not come close to solving the problem of underage drug use. “[Underage drinking and drug use] is just as prevalent if not more prevalent now than it has been before,” Harms said. “It’s a societal problem, not just a BVNW, a Kansas City or a United States problem. It hasn’t and it won’t stop ... and I think [it applies to marijuana as well].” Along with many others, Hill said he does not have high hopes that marijuana use among students will lessen anytime soon. Compared to the assumed high percentage of students who use or experiment with marijuana at BVNW, Hill said the amount of students who do get caught is extremely low, only totaling to single digit percentages each year. Recognizing the problem reaches outside of the school’s control, Hill said he believes the school has barely scratched the surface of effectively preventing marijuana use. “The number of kids who get high before school on Thursday mornings is a lot higher than the school would like to think,” Charpentier said. “Even I don’t recognize when people do that,

just because it is easy to slip by when so many people are doing it. So how can the school notice it when even their classmates can’t?” Viewing the change at the collegiate level, professor of neuroscience Dan Barth from the University of Colorado Boulder said he believes legalization poses no threats and only holds great possibilities for the future of Colorado

We aren’t going to stop [substance abuse], but we certainly want to give students and parents the tools to know how to handle situations ... not just sweep it under the rug, - Steve Harms, BVNW associate principal and athletic director

and its students. From 23 years of experience teaching at one of the nation’s most notorious party schools, Barth said he believes legalization will not disrupt education even in the most expected places, like college campuses. “If anything, the state wants marijuana

to be as safe as possible and easy to get so they can have a much success as possible,” Barth said. “And hey, if there is an extra $40 million headed our way in the education system from taxes made on [marijuana], that sounds pretty great. I’d much rather have our schools receive money from revenue made from marijuana instead something like gambling. As an educator, I’m not endorsing kids to smoke illegally to help them get a better education, but parents, go right ahead.” According to the City of Denver’s Amendment 64, the consumption and sale of marijuana and marijuana related products are required to be at least 1000 ft. away from any school facility or area. The newly enacted law also deems driving under the influence of marijuana illegal, as well as residents having over an ounce of the drug on hand, smoking in any public or open place or selling the drug to those under the age of 21. Much like alcohol, recreational marijuana will be regulated and produced through state facilities and available to purchase at dispensaries and convenience stores.


Laws of the Land 38

Although marijuana use is illegal under any circumstance in Kansas, 2014 The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEbruary the punishments for activity involving the drug vary depending on an individual’s behavior. Here is a breakdown of potential outcomes for various situations.

Where are you caught?

If you are caught on school property your punishments will first be handled through the school administration and then passed on to the Overland Park Police Department. Depending on the severity of your action, possible punishments may include OSS, ISS, or expulsion. Student athletes will also experience consequences with their team participation.

How much do you have?

The amount of marijuana an individual possesses is an important factor in determining a charge. A fairly small amount of the drug, intended to be used only by one person, may contribute to a misdemeanor. On the other hand, if one has a large amount of marijuana, intended to sell and distribute, it can contribute to a more serious felony charge.

How old are you? The difference between an individual’s age, either being a minor or an adult, may influence the court system in which they are tried. Juvenile cases are usually dealt with through the Johnson County District Court, while adult cases are usually handled through the Overland Park Municipal Court. The court in which one’s case is given also depends on the severity of the charge, misdemeanor or felony.

Do you have a record? An individual’s record with the law is taken into consideration by the courts and has a lot of influence over one’s punishment, according to SRO Jason Hill. Because of this, there are no set limitations to an individual’s punishment and are entirely dependent on the specifics of one’s case.


According the SRO Jason Hill, all charges and punishments are based on individual violations with consideration of his/her criminal record. These charges can be either misdemeanors or felonies and can result in fines, required community service, diversion, probation or jail time.

“It is extremely common for people to go to their doctor, say they have something like back pain, and walk out with a prescription for medical marijuana,” Barth said. “This change may make it a little bit easier to get, but really it’s just getting a heck of a lot more expensive, and definitely a lot safer than street marijuana.” Compared to what many users would buy illegally off the street, Barth said recreational marijuana is not laced with additives that could have erratic, harmful and addictive qualities. Despite the growing pains during the first months while the state government begins to enforce


the new laws, in cities like Denver, Barth said that support for legalization is widespread, but some groups of Colorado residents continue to doubt the innocence of the drug. “It is generally accepted [in Colorado] because people are putting their disagreements aside for the betterment of the state as a whole, not because everyone here is dying to smoke pot,” Barth said. “But there are always those who disagree and claim people will start using heroin and methamphetamines if it is legal. But if you sit down with a person who suffers from drug addiction, they will probably tell you that the first drug

they used was marijuana. But that doesn’t mean that all people who smoke marijuana during high school or college are going to become crazy drug addicts.” According to a study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is estimated about nine percent of users will become addicted to marijuana or other drugs, and the number almost doubles to 17 percent if use starts during high school years. Even though Maloney’s experience is estimated to be a minority, he believes becoming involved in the drug may not lead to immediate addiction, but lead to the exploration of more severe drugs.

“I think marijuana definitely has the ability to make you want to reach out to other avenues and try more drugs,” Maloney said. “I don’t think that marijuana makes you want to go out and do bad things or be risky, if anything it makes you want to do less. But it’s all about how good the drug makes you feel and what you are willing to do to keep taking it. You start to think ‘Oh, I feel good on this, what else could I feel good on?’” The draw of experimenting with a once illegal drug is what many students will now be faced with resisting. Though many students believe marijuana is already an overlooked problem at BVNW, Charpentier said he believes recreational legalization out of state may not increase the amount of students who are smoking, but will undoubtedly undermine the risks that students are advised to consider. “In all honesty, people think it’s not that bad compared to alcohol or cigarettes, and whether that is true or not, I think that is why it is commonly used,” Charpentier said. “There is an argument to suggest that marijuana is way less dangerous than alcohol because you can overdose on alcohol and have alcohol poisoning, and you can’t do that with marijuana. It is an alternative, but it’s not healthy, it just seems healthier than [other drugs].” After analyzing studies conducted on brain function while and after smoking marijuana, Barth said this concept was found to be true in many ways. According to Barth, marijuana

affects the senses to give the entire body a calming feeling of lightness. Physically, when marijuana is consumed it assuages inflammation in the brain and relieves stress, which is why it is often prescribed to individuals suffering from chronic diseases, Barth said. “There is no long term harm inflicted upon your brain, no research suggests marijuana is addictive, no research can point to marijuana and say, ‘Yes we are losing brain cells and people are losing focus

You can come up with all the excuses you want, but when it comes down to it, it’s pretty hard to deny how beneficial legal marijuana can be. - Dan Barth, University of Colorado Boulder professor of neuroscience

and the ability to function because of this drug,’” Barth said. “The only negative consequence that hasn’t been researched thoroughly is the long term effect of the combustion when smoking it, and how it could contribute to developing lung cancer. So if you don’t want to be harmed by the smoke, you can just digest it.” Despite contradicting viewpoints suggesting marijuana’s effects on health and student behavior, Barth said he believes even conservative states like Kansas will warm up to the idea of legalization over time.

Weed Wisdom

With the spreading acceptance of marijuana in the U.S., BVNW faculty and students share whether they believe the legalization of marijuana will influence the BVNW community.

**This poll was taken from a total of 287 BVNW students and faculty members.

4102 yraurEbF | MOC.SWENWNVB | sserpxe ehT

Expecting no less than success from Colorado’s new law, Barth said the state’s steps in legalizing marijuana will prove to be beneficial in multiple facets of society. “Legalizing it here will definitely show that you can regulate it effectively and have it not harm, but help the people in your state,” Barth said. “There are so many states now that have legal medical marijuana that I bet in three years it will be legal across the board. You can come up with all the excuses you want, but when it comes down to it, it’s pretty hard to deny how beneficial legal marijuana can be.” Although harmful long term effects that marijuana may inflict are yet to be proven, Hill said he believes future prevention of smoking among students should emphasize the negative effects on immediate health and personal life. As for keeping student hands clean of marijuana off of school grounds, Hill said he is unsure of how to extend the safe atmosphere and watchful eyes of the school off campus. “[Marijuana] is so commonplace that maybe we have done an inadequate job of educating kids as to the effects of it,” Hill said. “At the least, we just have to be consistent in how we handle it. I think that’s why we don’t see a lot of instances [inside BVNW] … because of how aggressive the administration is toward preventing it. If there was an easy answer as to how to solve this, it wouldn’t be such a problem.”


believe legal marijuana will increase use among students.


believe legal marijuana will decrease use among students.


believe legal marijuana will not change use among students.

41 83


Crossword By: Avery Mojica

Find answers to the crossword puzzle and Sudoku online, at 42

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEBRUARY 2014


Crossword Clues Directions: Fill in the grid with the answers to the clues below. Across 1. Monster’s Inc. slug 4. One section ahead of CST 7. Supernatural 9. Pork product 11. ____ of Wrath 13. Synonym of blackout 14. Not in 15. Bumps 17. Uncooked, as in meat 18. Promptly 20. Baseball apparatus 21. Fill in the celebration: ___TIVAL 22. Chest component 24. To give up 26. Remove 28. React to onions 29. Anti-meat 32. Primary color 34. Sin, tan, and ___ 35. ___ and tuck 37. Decay 39. Salt, in Spanish 40. Performed 42. Rapper

DOWN 44. Carnival or Norwegian 46. Leafy season 48. Energy? 49. Lodging locale 50. ___ Miserables 51. Female suffix

1. To show again 2. Speaker 3. Close a jacket 4. Consume 5. Afraid 6. Roman fashion pieces 7. Self-thought 8. Slippery aquatic animal 9. School transportation 10. Modern 12. Type of sandwich 13. Pertaining to the eyes 16. Month of finals 19. Electricity carriers 21. Paper advertisement 23. Large 25. Do something incorrectly 27. Worm or robot 29. Maximum capacity 31. To be selective, ___pick 33. Police chow 34. Christmas tune 36. Small green food 38. Calms

39. Complete the province: Nova ___tia 40. Fire product 41. Statement of obvious mistakes 43. Weekend show, abbv. 45. Types of addresses, abbv. 47. Foot digit

SUDOKU By: Avery Mojica

Fill in the grid with numbers 1-9 so that each 3x3 box, each line, and each row contain each number once, and once only. Sudoku does not require math, only logic.

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | February 2014


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EXPRESSIONS Weighed on an unfair scale By Madison Graves

In today’s generation, students are constantly competing to be the best, do the best, and score the best. It’s an ongoing race in the classroom to see who can get the highest grade. We have no boundaries when it comes to succeeding over the rest. It is no question that parents, school, and society put pressure on us. Our students are put on a competitive scale and told where they fall in their class. A letter, these days, tells us where we stand in our class. Students worry what their class ranking is, leading to stress over their grade. In Blue Valley, it is true that we

have a lot of brilliant students who would find it atrocious to get so much as a B in a class. However, a C is technically considered “average.” Here, it’s ideal to strive for A’s, but getting all C’s is a nightmare. However, we have smart students that decide to try their hand at an AP or honors class. Not everyone is perfect, and they end up with a B or even a C in the class. Suddenly, their ranking in the class has gone down and for the first time they’re faced with the baggage of having a low grade. How is being in a school, in a district, that plants the idea that an A is the general “norm” going to affect students in college? Students are so used to getting all A’s in their high school classes that going into college

can be a slap in the face. Entering college with this demeaning mindset affects how the student approaches their educational experience. Smart students are now unable to feel smart because they are compared to people who are smarter. It rips at self-esteem, increases anxiety, and can cause gaps between otherwise equal students. Students should not feel they aren’t good enough simply because they were told their grades are not good enough compared to others. Students have a different objective from learning now: getting the best grades and getting their class rankings higher. Students should focus more on what they’re learning and how it’s helping them. Grades are important, but they aren’t everything.

Raise your glass By Greyson Woerpel The age of 18 is the biggest turning point in a teenager’s life. The moment the clock strikes 12, you become an adult. The transition to adulthood should give you the same privileges that the adults in your life have right now. Adults can elect a leader to govern the country, go to jail rather than juvenile court, and fight and die for our country. Yet, we are not trusted with a drink. Although alcohol has proven to slow brain development, we should be able to make about what we are consuming. All throughout high school, we are told to make choices based primarily off of what will benefit us in the future. As teenagers,

we are treated as adults. If we were allowed to drink, we would need to act like the adults we have recently become. A person should know not only their limit, but also know what the consequences of going past those limits are. In my opinion, kids in high school only drink because they want to rebel. When you go to a museum and tell a little kid not to touch something, that just taunts the kid to lay a finger on a valued statue even more. The same goes for drinking. As teenagers, we want to feel alive. Many kids, I feel, think that breaking the law will give them that sense of liveliness they have been craving all week since

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEBRUARY 2014

Monday morning after their pop quiz. By lowering the drinking age, kids wouldn’t think of it as such a rebellious activity, therefore lowering the interest and decreasing the problem. If people aren’t fully committed to adjusting the age, perhaps there could be a limit restriction. This would allow the newly turned adults to feel like adults without acting like teenagers.



the cult of competition By Sarah Hirsch


rt, math, journalism, science, Spanish, music, even honor itself: these are all your passions. Or so you’ll say on your college application, hoping to set yourself apart from the rest of the flock. But do these so-called “honorable” organizations really make a difference anymore? There’s a definite difference between pressure and passion. Coming into high school, when I thought of honor societies, I imagined secret organizations only for the best of the best. Now, almost three years into it, I know that this is most certainly not true. It seems like everyone I know is part of at least one honor society. People don’t stop there – I know some who are members of almost every single one of our seven honor societies. If you aren’t a member of these cultish groups, they call you out on it and constantly ask why you aren’t interested in them. If someone can be a member of every single honor society, doesn’t that mean it’s too easy to join one? Honor should mean devotion to a subject. If you aren’t willing to make that commitment, then don’t bother going. These honor societies should go back to being solely for the elite students who are dedicated to their passions. Don’t get me wrong, the original intent of these organizations was probably spot-on. But nowadays, we’ve been warped into this mindset where we constantly feel the need to make every aspect of


our life revolve around college admissions offices. We get so caught up on trying to shape ourselves into the ideal college applicant that we forget about actually enjoying what we’re doing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a student complain because they had to go to school early for a NHS meeting or some other society-related event. If you really care so much about these causes, then you should be looking forward for a chance to be recognized for your honorable achievements.

So many students are willing to put their dignity on the line to gain membership The level of hypocrisy and twosidedness in these organizations is unimaginable. People are eager to get those few hours of community service done in order to be considered for membership, but once they’re in, all bets are off. There are the few that genuinely love doing the service and helping out the organization, but there are far too many that are simply leeching off the good deeds of others. So many people are used to not having to put any effort into membership that when they join another society that requires actual interaction and time, they’re

completely shocked. This doesn’t make any sense. If these societies claim to be as highly-esteemed as they do, then why are slackers infiltrating their ranks? Now, I’m not saying these organizations are complete lost causes, because they do produce some pretty good things. The NHS blood drive is one of our most well-known charity events, and whenever the NAHS shares their work for some fundraiser, people are always impressed. But there is a lot of bad mixed in with the good. So many students are willing to put their dignity on the line to gain membership in these societies. It’s hard for me to believe that all of this brown-nosing and kissing up is worth the hassle. If you’re so honorable, then why are you demeaning yourself?

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | FEBRUARY 2014



Where there is smoke, there is fire


s word about Justin Bieber’s arrest spread like wildfire throughout the country, public outcry fanned the flames. For days the Beliebers dutifully boycotted the “unfair” arrest, the embers of their fight disseminating into every aspect of the media. What the Beliebers failed to realize was that Bieber was not simply arrested for accumulating some unpaid parking tickets. Justin Bieber was sent to jail for resisting arrest, drag-racing and driving under the influence. Barely a week after this illfated event, Bieber was reported to be smoking so much marijuana with his entourage on a private jet to the Super Bowl, that the pilots had to wear oxygen masks. While this can easily be passed off as typical celebrity madness, the real issue is that What is more frightening is that we as adolescents are mimicking aspects of this behavior in our own lives. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Although not everyone thinks it’s OK to violate the law, there are a good number of people who do. As teenagers, we have the poorly guided tendency to think that we are devoid of fault. If someone questions this assertion or a flicker of guilt arises, we extinguish the possibility by blaming it on general ignorance. While not everyone gets drunk on the weekends, in some capacity. When someone talks about getting a speeding ticket, it is almost never in the context of remorse for his or her actions. Most of the time it is a complaint, “I can’t believe he pulled me over,” and “There were other people going faster than me.” While it may seem trivial to go 35 mph in a school zone when there are no kids around, the limit was put there for a reason. The repercussions of speeding down Switzer can sometimes be the same as driving under the influence. Furthermore, the argument to do something because everyone else is doing it is the admittance of the intellect of a lemming. Let’s avoid the cliff. Not a 19-year-old pop star and not an Overland Park teen. While some of us are already full-fledged adults, most of us will bear that title in a few years time. Let’s scale back our pride and become respectable, law-abiding citizens. When we own up to our mistakes, we will become better people. And who’s going to argue with that?

WE have come to accept this blatant disregard for the laW.

Have you ever done something that you knew was illegal?

Yes 87% No 13% Poll was taken by 474 students

Most of us have adopted this flippant attitude

Nobody is above the law.

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SEND IT TO US The Express c/o Blue Valley Northwest High School 13260 Switzer Rd Overland Park, KS 66213 Room 902 Suggested length under 1,000 words Please include subject information about photos. *The Express has the right to edit all submissions.

By Liz Kuhlmann

The express | BVNWNEWS.COM | february 2014


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