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2010-11 Best of Colorado Writing Category Winners These samples placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in our inaugural individual contest, deadline of March 31, 2011 You can find all the results on our website:

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2010-11 Best of Colorado News Feature Samples


Arapahoe Herald | Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Drug war hits close to home for AHS senior

Student speaks out about family tragedy and the horrors of the Mexican drug war Emerald O’Brien Arapahoe Herald hen senior Gabriel Harmon woke up the morning of Oct. 26, he wasn’t expecting the drug war in Mexico to affect him. Hundreds of miles away, it wasn’t a reality in his day-to-day life. He went to school and came home just like on any other day. But when he arrived home, he was informed of an unnerving event, directly affecting him and his family. His great uncle, Asunción Barrón Espinoza, 63, was murdered the day before by drug cartel members in Juarez, Mexico. Few Americans understand the magnitude of the situation in Mexico. The drug war has entered a stage of utter brutality, to the point where many citizens can’t even leave their homes for fear of being killed. This violence towards innocent people has created a situation so out of control that solving it may prove to be an impossible task for the Mexican government. From birthday parties to carwashes, innocent people are being killed while doing simple everyday tasks. In the case of Harmon’s great uncle, he was doing something he loved. “He used to play for a minor


league baseball team, so he would travel around Mexico to play, but he was getting kind of old, and he just couldn’t tour anymore,” Harmon said. “So he was umpiring [a game] in Juarez, Mexico, and at one point the drug cartels showed up and shot everyone on the baseball field. They started just killing innocent people. His son was in the

El Paso. “He loved Mexico a lot, and we would talk a lot. I knew he loved baseball, and he would send us photos he had with the other people on his baseball team.” Harmon and his family mostly received their information about his great uncle’s death through their family in El Paso.

It’s sad because the people in Mexico can’t even be happy; they have to worry a lot about ‘am I going to die today because I go outside?’” – Gabriel Harmon, senior

audience watching, but he was able to get away and go to get his mom.” Most of the victims of drug war related crimes are innocent, and have not had any involvement with drug cartels. “I know [my great uncle] was a good guy and he wasn’t involved with any of them, and that’s why it makes me upset that this happened to him,” Harmon said. “It’s sad because the people in Mexico can’t even be happy; they have to worry a lot about ‘am I going to die today because I go outside?’” Harmon had a fairly close relationship with his great uncle, and would visit with him while living in

“I talked to my mom at first when she told me about it, and then she went down [to El Paso], and she talked to the wife and some of the family too, and they told her the whole story,” Harmon said. “There is even a website some family in California found and it actually shows his body and the way he looked, but we didn’t want to look at it because we don’t want to have that image of him. I just feel sad for my family, especially my grandma because she is going through a lot and I wish there was something we could do.” The situation has been escalating over the years leading up to the

horrific events seen today. “I remember when I was living [in El Paso] they would kill people and they would hang bodies off of [the highway overpasses],” Harmon said. “They used to put banners everywhere saying that if you wanted work to join them and if

anyone ever tried taking down the banners they would be killed for it.” “It surprises me that a lot of people up north have no idea what has been going on there. This has been going on for a while but it hasn’t been loud enough for everyone to hear about it in America. But it’s getting worse every year.” Continued on page 5


Arapahoe Herald |Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Left image: Senior Gabriel Harmon (center) speaks out about his great uncle’s murder with junior Emerald O’Brien (left) and adviser Greg Anderson (right) from the Arapahoe Herald. Harmon hopes to raise awareness about the drug violence currently occurring in Mexico. Sydney Streicher | Arapahoe Herald Right image: Harmon’s great uncle, Asunción Barrón Espinoza, passed away on Oct. 25, 2010. His family remembers his love of baseball with this photo of him wearing his uniform for his minor league team, the Indios. Photo courtesy of Gabriel Harmon.

Student loses family member to drug violence Continued from page 4

“It’s like there is no justice or order in Mexico, so I don’t know how they’re going to step up to these guys.” Because of fears of more violence, Harmon and his family were unable to attend his great uncle’s funeral. “Lately, when people have been murdered in Mexico, the families go to the funerals and [the drug traffickers] show up and

kill everyone at the funeral too,” Harmon said. “So we can’t go to the funeral because they’ll kill us if we do. We don’t know for sure [if they will come] but they have done it a lot of times and it’s just scary to go there. We can’t say goodbye to him because we can get killed too.” The Mexican government has tried to stop the problem but with a corrupt police force and increasingly violent drug cartels, it is proving to be an issue more out

of control than thought. “It’s like anarchy there,” Harmon said. “They are trying to take over the government and make it their own.” “[The drug cartels] need to be stopped, so the good people there who love Mexico can live there without violence,” Harmon said. This horrific event has changed Harmon’s view of the world and the people in it. “I feel like I see the true evil

in the world,” Harmon said. “I feel like there are people out there that do these things and it’s not only Mexico, there are other countries that go through similar things. But I feel like I have to accept this because this is the way the world is, and you can’t even be safe in the world anymore. You can’t really trust anyone anymore.” By sharing his great uncle’s story with the Arapahoe Herald, Harmon said he wishes to create

awareness about the drug violence and to clear up misconceptions about most Mexican citizens. “I want [people] to know that there are good people there,” Harmon said. “I hear people talking about illegal immigrants coming over and killing people, and they make it sound like everyone there is bad, but there are people who come [to America] to work, and to get out of poverty, and they are good people.”

Stress begins as time until finals ticks away Hannah Griesemer Arapahoe Herald Students! Finals are quickly approaching and can be a hassle to many. For some, this may be a stressful time of year, while for others it is a challenge to show what you have learned thus far. No matter how you approach them, here are some beneficial tips to help you rock this semester’s finals.

How do you prepare for finals? said.

“I make flash cards,” senior Coley Colwell said. “Studying my notes is helpful,” junior Erin McClintock

“I listen more in class. When I study for a long time, I lose focus. A good breakfast helps too!” sophomore Courtney Reed said. “Throughout the year, for every test I make a

study guide and for finals I study all my study guides,” senior Franki Daymil said.

What are some study habits that you find helpful?

“I think study buddies work well,” Colwell said. “I look over the study guide,” McClintock said. “Making songs for vocab and different memorization games is helpful,” Reed said. “Looking over past notes and tests,” Daymil said. What are the best ways to relieve stress during that time? “Cooking is relaxing,” Colwell said. “Go have fun with friends and don’t study all the time,” McClintock said. “I go on runs and drink hot tea… it’s relaxing,” Reed said. “Listening to music helps me concentrate better and also takes the stress away,” Daymil said.

achiever, it can be stressful because they want to do really well but some kids slack and don’t really care how they do on finals,” Reed said. “For the underclassmen it can be stressful because teachers tell them how important it is for them to do well on the tests so they can get stressed but by the time you are an upperclassman the stress levels go down,” Daymil said.

Do finals put too much pressure on students? Why or why not?

“No, I don’t think so because kids should already be prepared and do their work so they are ready for the end of the semester,” Colwell said. “No, because finals are a way to practice your time management which is important for later on in life, for instance, jobs,” McClintock said. “It depends on the student. For the over-

What do you suggest other students do to take the stress levels down?

“Working out and listening to music helps me. Kids shouldn’t over-think finals,” Colwell said. “After a day of finals, don’t go straight home and start studying for the next day. Take a break!” McClintock said. “Don’t cram, you won’t remember anything. Study in chunks,” Reed said. “Breathe; don’t think about finals so much. Study hard but don’t overdo it,” Daymil said. Photo illustration by Madi Bates| Arapahoe Herald

March 16, 2011

Eaglecrest High School

5100 S. Picadilly St. Centennial, CO 80015

Volume XVIV, Issue VI

Worried sick Two students balance school and hospital visits for loved ones.

by Jessica Dankenbring Assistant Editor


here are struggles in the lives of every high school student, but for Maggie Shaver and Spencer Juerrero, those struggles are a fight between balancing school and loved ones’ countless hospital visits.

There’s something traumatic about watching someone rip out their IV’s in frustration, and throw a food tray at a nurse in rage. “He’s not the same person. I don’t like seeing him drugged up, pissed off and tired,” sophomore Maggie Shaver said. “It’s definitely hard to go visit.” Shaver’s 25-year-old cousin, Jeremy O’Rourke, has been in and out of the hospital for the past nine years. He’s gone through open-heart surgery, ulcers, getting a pacemaker, hypothermia and addiction. Dealing with the constant pulse of lifethreatening situations has given Shaver perspective, but it’s also created major anxiety in her life. “It’s scary to think that something could happen at any moment,” Shaver said. “Even if nothing’s happening, it’s in the back of your head.” The emotional side of things is the hardest for Shaver, who is trying to get through the school day. “Especially during surgeries, I keep looking at the clock during class,” Shaver said. “It’s just worrisome that they’re there.” “It’s so hard not being able to do anything. It’s the fear of losing my cousin to something I can’t control that worries me. Is he going to go into surgery and they find something worse?” Shaver said. Despite the trials that have come with the ripple effect of medical issues, Shaver recognizes, “We’ve grown closer. We have an amazing bond. He’s like a big brother. There’s a bond between us: knowing that we’re there for each other- always.”

vHospital cont. on Page 4 —photo illustration by Laura Omvig and Alison Bleser

Index Opinion News Student Life In-Depth A&E Sports

2-3 4-6 7, 11 8-9 11-13 14-16

Budget cuts for next school year leave teachers worried. Page 5

See what students are addicted to — including makeup. Page 8-9

Take a trip to the South with Famous Dave’s BBQ. Page 13



Balancing school and hospital visits vHospital from Page 1

For sophom o r e he’s at home, surrounded by the isSpencer Juarrero, i t ’s fiber m- sue, but when he’s out of the house ialga, lupus and chron- ic migraines. For a being himself, he tries not to worry too couple of days each month, Juarrero’s mom, much about it. Shelley Juarrero, is in the hospital for numerHe also recalls one particular event where ous, ongoing he wasn’t home, but health concerns. I have to help her because she can’t his mother accidently “It’s not reoverdosed on one of ally a big deal do anything herself and take on some her medications. “Forto me anymore. of the parenting responsibilities. She tunately, one of her I’ve had 15 years sometimes isn’t available to participate friends were home at of it,” Juarrero in family events and other activities. the time and got the said. paramedics,” Juarrero Juarrero norsaid. mally drives her There’s been a con—Spencer Juarrero, stant stream of medithere, and is approached by cal struggles, but it’s the man with the wheelchair once they arrive. not the constant hospital visits that troubles Then, there’s a couple of long hours spent Juarrero. waiting in the lobby. The hardest part for Juarrero is being at “People in the lobby are always really un- home. “I have to help her because she can’t comfortable, just by the way they look at you,” do anything herself and take on some of the Juarrero said. parenting responsibilities,” Juarrero said. “She The constant ER trips take up a lot of his sometimes isn’t available to participate in famtime as well. “I hate how the ER works. They ily events and other activities. I wish she’d take people with small problems first and then have her independence back.” the more serious,” Juarrero said. With all that Juarrero and Shaver have It also becomes impossible not to mix hos- endured, they both can agree, dealing with pital visits and school. “Whenever we have to something as stressful as the poor health of a take a trip to the ER, I normally stay there the loved one builds you up to be a stronger, more whole time, so school work has to come with caring person. “I think we all fight our difme,” Juarrero said. “Same thing at home; I ferent types of battles,” Shaver said. “But it’s have to help out a lot and do work.” something I believe everyone will face — and Juarrero said that he feels different when we all become stronger for it.”

I wish she’d have her independence back.”

Purpose: To bring attention to antiLGBT name calling, bullying and harassment in schools. What to do: Take a vow of silence April 15

1 C OV E R

STO RY – Student journalists’ rights


st Congress shall make no law respecting an

establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. nt e

ndm e m A


May the first be with you...

Student journalists strike back By VINCE RAMIREZ

T WHS Chronicle


Editor-in-Chief Kya Wooldridge and reporter Korbyn Ukasick work on a story under a poster listing the major points of the Tinker vs. Des Moines court case.

2 | 02. 07.11

o some at WHS, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is something to study for a test in a history or government class, but to student journalists, it’s freedom of speech. The First Amendment to the 223year-old Constitution, since its creation, has been cited in landmark students’ rights cases, such as the infamous 1969 Tinker vs. Des Moines Supreme Court case. The case involved a 15-year-old boy and his 13-year-old sister who wore black armbands to protest the Vietnam War in class. The court’s decision gave students the right to voice unpopular opinions at school. But misconceptions concerning student journalists’ rights continue. “When you’re here in the school, you really don’t have any civil rights to speak of that deal with freedom of the press – things like that. The school newspaper, I don’t

think, falls under that,” said WHS history teacher Doug Gordon, who is nearing 10 years of teaching United States history at WHS. “It’s not as if the school newspaper warrants the same rights as someone who does The New York Times,” he said. But Carrie Faust, President of the Colorado High School Press Association, (a commission of the Journalism Education Association) and journalism adviser for Smoky Hill High School, disagrees. “I don’t know why anyone would think that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to all citizens of the United States. I do know that sometimes people feel that they should somehow have control over what happens in school more because ‘kids are just learning,’ but writing for a scholastic publication like a newspaper is the best practice of our Constitutional rights that a kid could ever have, and, frankly, one of the best ways that schools carry out creating informed citizens who understand the



STO RY –Student journalists’ rights

SPLC attorney supports free press [CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2] impact of their actions with the rest of their community,” Faust said. Student journalists at WHS say they feel as if their rights to publish certain stories has been questioned recently. They say that they feel as if recent stories have drawn increased attention from school administrators, students and staff after unpopular reports involving a couple of the school’s athletic programs. Following a Dec. 16 publication of The Windsor Chronicle, students affiliated with the school’s wrestling team were upset over an article describing an outbreak of skin infections among some wrestlers on the team, and voiced opposition on Facebook. Another story questioned the rise in incidences of concussions at the high school. According to Chronicle journalists, school officials refused comment and access to information on follow-up stories. “I would ask that we err on the side of being conservative. We don’t need to make a huge issue of something that really isn’t,” said Principal Jeanne Findley.

Don’t kill the messenger “I feel like by being in journalism, we’re only doing what we’re supposed to by telling the truth and reporting what we’re told, and letting people know what’s going on. I think people don’t always see that,” said Schafer. Editor-in-Chief Kya Wooldridge said she feels as if the administration is subtly “cracking down” on the publication of stories that might make the high school look bad. “I think the administration is overly critical of us…when we paint good things, they love us; when we paint things that they don’t approve of, they hate us,” Wooldridge said. She said she believes the reason for that is because the administration wants to present

the school in the best light possible. Wooldridge and Schafer said that criticism from students and staff didn’t have an effect on the staff ’s approach to reporting the news, however. “I’m not changing how I write because I’m afraid it’s going to blow up in my face,” Schafer said. “I have the right to write about what I want, even though I’m a high school journalist; but as a reporter, I’m not going to put lies in a paper. It’s all the truth.” Wooldridge agreed. “Just because we’re a high school publication, it doesn’t mean those basic rights can be denied,” Wooldridge said. Doug Gordon, who once got involved in a public discussion of the debate with Wooldridge, maintains that the Chronicle “is an arm of the school. There are certain rights [the Chronicle] is not awarded.” “This is a misconception of several people at the high school,” said Chronicle adviser Jill Jones. “Student journalists do enjoy the protections of the First Amendment, in all of its intentions – and should not be censored in any way if they are practicing sound journalism and following ethical guidelines,” she said. Jones also teaches Introduction to Journalism at the high school. The class is a prerequisite for all reporters in Journalism, the class where the Chronicle is produced.

Making sure it’s right Ethics, although not legally recognized, still play a major role in journalism, according to Tom Fasano, chief editor of the Windsor Now!, a weekly publication produced by The Greeley Tribune. “Not every story is going to be cotton candy and fluffy clouds. You’re going to have some hard-hitting stories that are going to upset people. That’s why a lot of people don’t

like newspapers and a lot of people don’t like journalists,” said Fasano. “You just gotta make sure the story is right.”

The law is the law “We provide free legal help and information to high school and college journalists across the country,” said Mike Hiestand, consulting attorney for the Student Press Law Center, a free Washington D.C.-based law center aimed at advocating for high school publications. According to the SPLC’s website, Hiestand, throughout his 20 years at the center, has fielded more than 14,000 phone calls and, according to, was selected to receive the National Scholastic Press Associations highest honor to individuals; the Pioneer Award, as selected by previous award winners. “We do it [support student journalists] because we believe that a free press is absolutely essential to our way of government – our way of life,” he said. Regarding the First Amendment, Hiestand said he was all for the First Amendment’s protection of student journalists. “The Supreme Court has been very very clear in saying that students do retain First Amendment protection,” said Hiestand, who referred to a now famous quote during the Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District ruling: “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” Mr. Justice Fortas offered this decision on behalf of the 7-2 majority in the ruling. “Walking into a school doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you do not have First Amendment protection,” said Hiestand.


“It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” - United States Supreme Court - Justice Fortas; 1969 4 | 02. 07.11

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 22-1-120 (1) The general assembly declares that students of the public schools shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press, and no expression contained in a student publication, whether or not such publication is schoolsponsored, shall be subject to prior restraint except for the types of expression described in subsection (3) of this section. This section shall not prevent the adviser from encouraging expression which is consistent with high standards of English and journalism. (2) If a publication written substantially by students is made generally available throughout a public school, it shall be a public forum for students of such school. (3) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to authorize the publication or distribution by students of the following: (a) Expression which is obscene; (b) Expression which is libelous, slanderous, or defamatory under state law; (c) Expression which is false as to any person who is not a public figure or involved in a matter of public concern; or (d) Expression which creates a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts, the violation of lawful school regulations, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school or which violates the rights of others to privacy or that threatens violence to property or persons.


STO RY –Student journalists’ rights

Colorado law protects student journalists [CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE] Furthermore, added legal protection for student journalists is in place, specifically in the public schools of the State of Colorado. “Not only do they have First Amendment rights under our Constitution, but Colorado takes it a step further, because in 1990, we passed a law called the Student Free Expression Law, which implicitly protects the rights of Colorado students. That was a direct response to the Hazelwood case that happened right before that,” said CHSPA President Faust. “Colorado is one of actually eight states in the country that has now passed laws that provide specific legal protection to its student journalists,” added Hiestand. Those states are California, Oregon, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, and Massachusetts, according

to “What Colorado lawmakers did…they said that ‘We believe that that Hazelwood decision went too far; it took away more rights than we think is appropriate when it comes to teaching kids about free press and journalism,’ ” said Hiestand. Of course, there are exceptions. “The only time they can censor is if they can point to something specifically that (the Chronicle) publishes that is unlawful,” said Hiestand. “School officials can also intervene and censor material and require changes to be made if they can show that it would cause a serious physical disruption to normal school activities.” “When they’re refusing to comment, it gives the impression that they’re trying to hide something. You can’t report it as fully as you should be able to,” Schafer said. As stated in the Chronicle’s policy on page 3, and

defined by Colorado Revised Statute Section 22-1120, paragraph 2, which says “If a publication written substantially by students is made generally available throughout a public school, it shall be a public forum for students of such school,” The Windsor Chronicle is legally recognized as a public forum. Some may argue that the Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court case restricts students rights, but the newspaper in question; the Hazelwood East High School Spectrum was ruled against because it was not a public forum. Colorado State law also supersedes this case because it was enacted in direct response to the case, Faust said. “I think school newspapers serve a valuable function,” Doug Gordon said. From an ethical standpoint, he also said that “being from a student position and writing, it’s hard for (journalists) to be unbiased.”

‘Colorado is one of actually eight states in the country that has now passed laws that provide specific legal protection to its student journalists.’ – Mike Hiestand, consulting attorney for the Student Press Law Center

Go ahead, do something good

W WHS Chronicle Staff

HS has been working for the past year to support positive behavior. This year a new system, PBS (Positive Behavior Support), has been implemented. Teachers are trying to reward students when they do something that benefits the school or other students. They do things such as giving students notes and calling home to tell their parents that they have done something outstanding. One of the newest things that has been seen around the school lately are fridge doors bolted to the wall outside of the main office. These doors are a part of the new PBS system.

“They want to do something positive like you do at home. If you do something good your mom hangs it on the fridge,” said Principal Jeanne Findley. The fridges were the idea of gym teacher Jessica Grable; she has been organizing the system. Grable said that members of the staff will be given golden paper stars, and if they see a student doing anything that warrants a reward, they can ask them for their name and write the good deed that they have done on the star. It will be hung on the wall for one week and then they will be given the star as a momento and will have the possibility of getting some other small prize, such as a free burrito from Taco John’s or something of similar value, Grable said.


Fridge doors will soon display the good deeds of WHS students.

Negative campaigns are uncomfortable to watch, but effective As elections approach, mud-slinging fills the airwaves By Elise Reuter

“We are a media-based society, thus the effectiveness of ads will continue. The format may change, and the delivery media may change, but we will see more and more political advertising,” said Dr. Chris Leland. With the midterm elections swiftly approaching, a torrent of political ads is covering TV stations, newspapers, and yards in the form of picket signs. With multiple candidates and controversial issues on the Colorado ballot, more money will be spent on advertising in Colorado than most of the other states. This year has been marked by a significant increase in advertising expenditures unlike anything seen in years before. Over $2.5 billion will be spent on advertising for this election according to an estimate made by Politico. This would be a 25% increase from previous off-year elections. “Ironically enough, campaigns are, by law, charged the lowest rate of all advertising rates yet they outspend some products, which means they are putting more ads out there (and we see that every night on the news),” said Leland. Some advertisements are funded by candidates, but Political Action Committees also play a part in running more controversial ads. According to Leland, “if there is a highly negative campaign, then PACs will take over because there is less backlash against an outlandish negative ad if it is not sponsored by the candidate directly.” PACs also have fewer limitations in receiving donations. They can spend as much money as they want on advertising, so long as they have a statement within the ad that they are not affiliated with a candidate. Sometimes PACs will also advertise for or against ballot issues; they are not limited to candidates. TV advertising is the most prevalent form, but candidates are working toward web-based campaigns with the rise of the internet. If political advertising moves online, distribution costs would decrease significantly. Hopefully, this would lead to a decrease in spending for advertising, but there are no guarantees. For current advertising schemes, different types of political ads are used strategically: “Early in a campaign, one tries to build credibility with positive and very patriotic ads for yourself, then at about the midpoint, the candidates go on offense and attack the other candidate...Campaigns have learned that they benefit from abandoning the negative in the last week and turn back to the ultra positive. We’ll see,” said Leland. Although the negative ads may be annoying, they have been proven effective, and it doesn’t look like they will be going away any time soon. “I would love to see a candidate break the mold and agree to take half the advertising budget and do something about an issue. What a political threat that would be to the system if I took $500,000 and used it to feed children in our city or build houses… put our money where our mouth is. It would be a huge risk, but it might be fun to watch,” said Leland.


The Bear Truth • January 2011 • Palmer Ridge High School

Page 10

The Reality of Drugs

Ask the Experts

An in Depth View of the Consequences of Substance Abuse

How to Properly Dispose of Prescription Medication:

By Mary Danielson and Emily Ward “Misuse of prescriptions pills? It’s the latest craze in drugs,” said Bob Foster, the Director of Personnel and Student Services for District 38. The use of illegal substances by students has always been a concern for staff members in the Lewis-Palmer School District, but recently, the misuse of legal drugs

It is extremely dangerous. Due to Palmer Ridge’s mandatory Health class, students are taught about the harmfulness of illicit drugs, but it is disconcerting that many students remain unaware of the dangers of legal drugs. “The new trend is to raid their medicine cabinet at home, take all the prescription

really knows what they would be taking, or even have an idea of what the effect’s gonna’ be on their body…That’s the scariest part of pharming.” Not only can prescription and over-the-counter medications be harmful to one’s body, but using them in school can have unfortunate

“[Pharming’s] on the rise nationwide, it’s on the rise locally, and it’s a concern.” ~Bob Foster Photo by Mary Danielson

Bob Foster Director of Personnel and Student Services

(medications) has become more prevalent. “I would say that from the groups I work with and from the people I talk to outside of schools

stuff, throw them all together in a bowl, or in a bottle, and just take pills in random combinations and random amounts, which is Photo by Emily Ward

Photo by Mary Danielson

Joy Underhill Certified School Nurse

Photo by Des Alvarez

legal consequences. “I don’t think people realize… if you’re in possession of somebody else’s prescription pills-that’s a Class 2 felony. And it could be innocent or not, it’s one of those things where

the ‘school-side’ consequences. “The school district has opted over the last couple years…to try what we call deferred expulsion.

deferred expulsion you follow the rules. Now if you violate the rules at that point, you serve the rest of your expulsion term… It’s sort of

that [abuse of medication] is on the rise, but it’s a common problem. It’s not endemic to just Monument, to just Lewis-Palmer. It’s on the rise nationwide, it’s on the rise locally, and it’s a concern.” Seann O’Connor, Assistant Principal at Palmer Ridge High School, agreed with Foster’s assessment of the situation: “The majority of the time in the high school it’s either gonna’ be alcohol or marijuana, typically, but I think one that’s on the rise that people aren’t necessarily aware of is prescription drugs. Statistically, I think it’s been linked as a growing problem in this age group.” This alarming new trend of taking various prescription medicines to get high has been dubbed ‘pharming.’

extremely dangerous because a lot of medications cannot be combined with others…the medicines will intensify the effects if they’re given in certain combinations,” said Palmer Ridge High School’s nurse, Joy Underhill. “The bottom line is we should never take a medication that’s not prescribed specifically for us.” The school resource officer, Deputy Dennis Coates, wants students to be aware of the physical complications of ‘pharming.’ “Medication reacts differently to everybody’s body… individually it’s harmful, accumulatively, or a bunch of them together, is deadly... We’re all allergic to different things, we react differently to things…The scary part is I don’t think anyone

if you get caught with it, you’re in trouble,” O’Connor said. A Class 2 felony is a serious issue. A student caught with pills not prescribed for him or her would likely get a chance to meet Deputy Coates and Mr. Foster. “If the school were to have any drug-related cases whether they were prescription or illegal drugs, they would contact me and then I would come up.” Deputy Coates said. “So a student would have consequences from the school and they would also have consequences from law enforcement. Those consequences could vary as much as (from the school side) a detention to an expulsion and on the law enforcement side depending on the circumstances behind it, vary from a warning to jail time.” Mr. Foster expounded more on

Coates, “probably curiosity and peer pressure are two of the biggest [factors contributing to drug use,] so the more educated you are and

“Never take a medication that’s not prescribed specifically for [you].” ~Joy Underhill “Deferred expulsion is basically an agreement and under the grounds of deferred expulsion you say ‘I did it, I messed up… I and my parents waive our right to a hearing. We set some constraints and some rules… usually the principal and myself and Mr. Bauman, we decide that these are good rules for the kid to follow. As a student of the Colorado law you can be suspended for up to 25

like being on parole, or probation. “Deferred expulsion is a nice option because it gives kids the chance to make a mistake and recover.” This change from the tradition of immediate expulsion has helped students stay in school. Once a student is expelled, no other public Colorado high school has to accept them. However, this has not stopped

“You asked if I think kids are using them maliciously, and I think we have some of both. We do have kids who are innocent and ignorant and we do have kids who I think use the uncommon thread of that kind of drug abuse to get high and sell and make money and do those things.” ~Seann O’Connor

Deputy Dennis Coates School Resource Officer

Seann O’Connor Assistant Principal of PRHS

Page 11

days for a single event. When you return from your suspension, the period of deferred expulsion begins and that goes for however long that was agreed upon. Under that Photo by Mary Danielson

students from experimenting. “Unfortunately a lot of times I know high school kids get involved with drugs because of curiosity and peer pressure,” said Deputy

the better choice of friends you make obviously are going to go a long way in preventing you from dabbling in drugs.” Just like any other high school in the nation, there is drug usage in Palmer Ridge. The real question is: how severe is the drug problem? Responses to this question varied. “I don’t know that I can say [the drug problem] is severe. It wouldn’t surprise me if I found that it was, but I do think it’s more prevalent than we as administrators and parents realize,” O’Connor said. Deputy Coates’ opinion is slightly more benevolent; “I wouldn’t use the word severe. I think there are kids who are either undereducated or make some bad choices. I don’t think the percentage of kids necessarily are any higher here than any other school district, but there are kids who unfortunately are using them and do make bad choices,” he said. Foster sees it differently still: “Is there drug use in the district? Is there alcohol abuse in the district? My response to that would be, is there drug and alcohol abuse in the community? Because a school district is a reflection of the community, and so if there are drugs and alcohol in the community, there will be drugs and alcohol in the schools… I would say above 95% of the kids I ever busted… for any type of alcohol or drugs have gotten it from their parents or older siblings. It’s just a fact.” Drug abuse exists. ‘Pharming’ exists. Individuals need to take responsibility to understand the consequences of substance abuse, and learn how to put a stop to it. The most important preventative measures parents can take to assure that their children don’t give in to the pressure to misuse drugs is to properly dispose of their unneeded medications, and, in the words of Mr. Foster: “To have those open and honest conversations and work at having open lines of communication with kids is very important.”

1) Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers. 2) Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds. 3) Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag. 4) Conceal or remove any personal information, including Rx number, on the empty containers by covering it with black permanent marker or duct tape, or by scratching it off. 5) Place the sealed container with the mixture, and the empty drug containers in the trash. * Remember: NEVER flush medications down the toilet UNLESS the label explicitly says to. Information provided by Photo by Emily Ward

Does the use of medical marijuana apply on school grounds? Colorado State Law says that“No patient shall: engage in the use of medical marijuana in a way that endangers the health or well being of any person; or engage in the medical use of marijuana in plain view of, or in a place open to, the general public.” Basically, no medical marijuana is allowed in school, because school is a “public place,” and the use of said marijuana could be a bother to some people. Information provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

2010-11 Best of Colorado In-Depth News Samples

Rocky Mountain Jan. 21, 2011

Volume 38, No. 5

One Acts a Limelight, one-hit wonder B8


A fun visit from a Globetrotter Features, B1

Everything as far as you can see -John Denver, Rocky Mountain High Rocky Mountain High School 1300 W. Swallow Rd. Fort Collins, Colo. 80526

Doors open wide for school of choice by Regan Miller Reporter

In the upcoming years, Rocky is hoping to see new student faces from all different area high schools due to the fact that the school is open for school of choice. All Poudre School District high schools are open for school of choice, a program where students can attend a high school different than what is considered their neighborhood school. The enrollment will be based off of a space-available basis, according to the district policy.

For some students, switching to Rocky was influenced by their siblings, who went to Rocky in previous years. Sophomore Jack Brasse switched from Heritage Christian High School to Rocky in 2010. Before choosing to attend Rocky, he also looked at the other local high schools, such as Collins and Fossil. He ended up registering to go to Rocky because of the block schedule and open campus for lunch. “My sister went here and I heard good things,” Brasse said. “I wanted a change. I

wanted a bigger school feel and more opportunities. I wanted to come at semester, but it was hard to (because of the schedule).” Sophomore Noelle Taulbee switched entire school districts in order to come to Rocky. Taulbee first went to Windsor High School and also switched to Rocky in 2010. She chose Rocky because of the block schedule. Since Taulbee lives in Severance, it takes her 30 minutes to drive to school.

Jump to CHOICE page A2


ADHD medicine used as academic performance enhancer

And facing AddeREALITY

by Tess Halac Editor-in-chief

Adderall – a small pill with a myriad of uses. Most commonly, Adderall is used by those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a way to improve concentration. However, because of these effects, the drug has recently made its debut in the regular world as more and more people utilize it recreationally. One junior, who wished to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the story, first used Adderall in junior high as a way to cope with the stress and nerves she faced. Now, however, her reason for usage has altered. “(In junior high) I needed a way to ease my nerves, so a friend gave it to me,” the source said. “I could immediately tell a difference. My brain was working faster and I was more efficient. I use it differently now, though. Now I just use it to get f**ked up. I get bored with sobriety.” The source said she has mixed Adderall with other drugs like Triple C, a slang term for an over-thecounter cough medicine that is used as an illicit drug when taken in high quantities, and acid. Though the source admits she has used the drug for purposes other than its original intent, she maintains that drug use can be positive. “Drugs help you to have new experiences, new things you didn’t even know possible,” said the source. “It opens your brain to new things. You can think a certain way when you’re on something and you’ll remember it when you’re sober, especially

Drug Adderall causes serious health concern by Geneva Mueller Reporter

One little pill. How harmful can it be? Adderall—the drug that treats approximately 8 percent of children in the United States who are afflicted with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. According Front to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) ADHD is “characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/ or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequently displayed and more severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development.” On a more basic level, ADHD can be described as evoking hyperactive impulsive, inattentive or a combination of hyperactive impulsive and inattentive behaviors. Many people who struggle with ADHD are prescribed Adderall. Adderall is an amphetamine drug


Calvin Jouard

Showing Rocky off: Principal Tom Lopez shows prospective Rocky parents around the school. An open house was held on Jan. 12 for those interested in school of choice for next year.

that increases dopamine (the chemical that controls pleasure, attention and movement) levels in the brain. When taken properly and for therapeutic reasons, the drug catalyzes the dopamine release slowly into the brain. Social worker Tricia Van Horssen often comes in contact with students who take the drug to treat their ADHD. “It is truly a great drug if you actually have ADHD,” Van Horssen said. “But from my understanding, it is more addictive than other ADHD medicines.” As effective as it may be for treating ADHD patients, problems in the United States have recently sprung up regarding the recreational use of the drug. Jump to HEALTH page A2 Photo Illustration by Tess Halac and Ramsey Nicholas

Quoted directly: “I encourage students to get a job and start saving now so they can be ready for their future in advance. Buying my own car really taught me the importance of saving and spending wisely. Paying my own bills really helps me to understand how valuable each and every dollar I make really is.” - Mark Umbreit, senior on paying own bills

Inside Stuff

Jump to ADDERALL page A2

►Rocky coaching Rocky: Alumni come back to coach sports at alma mater Sports, A8 ► A prodigy in the making Limelight, B8 ► A closer look at smokers’ corner Features, B1


Rocky Mountain Highlighter

Health from page A1 According to NIDA, Adderall is taken by people with natural levels of dopamine; the stimulant causes a rapid increase in the dopamine levels and is more likely to spark addiction. Family practice doctor and Rocky parent Mark Rotman further explains the circumstances surrounding the recreational use of Adderall. “I’ve had people ask me for Adderall for recreational and concentration purposes,” Rotman said. “There aren’t only risks in doing this, but it’s potentially addictive. People who are doing this are abusing the drug.” Adderall, when used by people unaffiliated by ADHD, has somewhat of an inverse effect on the user. “Adderall is an amphetamine, which means it’s like speed,” Van Horssen said. “It gives the user the opposite effect if they don’t have ADHD. It brings along euphoria but the comedown is dangerous—heart palpitations, moodiness and even depression.” Additionally, many who take the drug (recreationally or otherwise) do not understand the lasting effects that it can have on the body.

Choice from page A1 “It’s worth it,” Taulbee said. “(I came to Rocky because) you can have an off period, and the teachers are definitely better.” Poudre sophomore Daniel Mallal is also taking advantage of the school of choice option because of the IB program. However, instead of first checking out the different high schools for his decision, he decided to go to a middle school which fed into Poudre. “I went to Lopez Elementary that feeds to Rocky then I went to Lesher, so I went straight to Poudre,” Mallal said. “Poudre offers more of a variety for what you want to do for different styles of


“If a patient takes Adderall daily, they are physically dependent upon it,” Rotman said. “Even if they are taking it for ADHD, they would experience withdrawal symptoms if they tried to stop taking it Tricia Van cold-turkey.” Horsenn, When ADHD users are social relieved with the ability to worker focus, non-ADHD users will find themselves extremely focused—to the point where sleep is impossible, and the only thing the user can think about is what is in front of them. School nurse Barb Cynkar, has serious concerns about the use of Adderall. “If everyone could just do a little bit of stress reduction, sleeping and eating right, people wouldn’t need these things,” Cynkar said. “To those who are taking it recreationally, I would urge them to be very careful. Do a little research about what is going into your body with the drug, because just because it’s a prescription drug doesn’t mean it is okay.” Accompanying the possible and impending addiction to the amphetamine stimulant is the long list of possible side-effects. Because the drug is an amphetamine, both Rotman and Van Horssen agree that it has

learning.” Mallal’s brothers attended Rocky in the previous years, however, this did not encourage Mallal to attend Rocky. “They loved it,” Mallal said. “I just really wanted to do something different than my brothers, something more challenging.” However, Mallal is considering attending Rocky next year because of his friends. About 500 postcards were sent out before break to all the household with eighth graders in the Rocky attendance area, according to office secretary Martha Pasquale. A meeting was also held Jan. 12, explaining the school of choice options.

LUNCH EXPRESS $3.99 (Plus free drink with student I.D.)

cIncludes 2 ENTREES Of Your Choice cPlus 1 SIDE Of Your Choice 3663 S. College Ave. #12 223-3388 (Next to Albertsons)


January 21, 2011

Only minutes away from Rocky!

similarities to

Adderall and meth methamphetare similar because amine. “Adderall they are both and meth stimulants. I could are similar see it as a gateway because they into meth, coke or are both stimulants,” speed.

Van Horssen said. “I could see it as a gateway into meth, coke or speed.” According to Drug News, the drug affects the central nervous system and releases an adrenaline rush throughout the body which, in turn, leads to an increased heart rate and blood pressure. Additionally, Adderall cannot be taken if the user is taking, or has taken monoamine oxidase inhibitors (a form of antidepressant.) According to the site, a “speed crash” always follows the high. This denouement that follows the rush includes side effects such as nausea, feelings of depression, irritability and extreme exhaustion. Scientifically, the feelings of depression hold chemical clout. While using the drug, the levels of dopamine are much higher than normal, creating a possible euphoric feeling. Once the high is gone, the dopamine levels

Adderall from page A1

are back to normal, but seem less prevalent. After the drug has been taken, the high is what is remembered ,and normal levels of dopamine can cease to suffice to provide natural, everyday happiness. And thus, the depression ensues. “Adderall has been around for a long time,” Van Horssen said. “But there isn’t a whole lot of research done about the long term effects.” Many things about Adderall are still unknown, and extremely subjective to the user. Van Horssen urges students not to use the drug unless prescribed because it affects everyone differently. Whether using or abusing, Adderall is a schedule two controlled substance which comes along with a long list of extremely serious side effects. A schedule two drug is one that has a high potential for abuse and can have serious physical and psychological side effects. Furthermore, the affects of Adderall are said to be “similar to that of cocaine, but the onset is slower and the duration is longer. Chronic abuse produces a psychosis that resembles schizophrenia.” “With any drug, do your research,” Cynkar said. “It’s not a drug that you can quit cold turkey if you start taking it all the time. You have to be careful.”

will think it’s absolutely absurd,” the senior said. “It’s ironic and it’s weird, I know that. But right now, with Adderall. If you use drugs school and academics are what are like I do, to expand your mind, most important to me. I have to then it’s a good thing.” do everything I can to make sure While some students may I succeed.” use Adderall specifically to alter Added language arts teacher their state of mind, many recreTom Smailes, “ When you see ational users are now taking it for kids take drugs like Adderall to academic purposes. Since it is a improve a grade, you know it’s stimulant, students are taking it a problem with their stress level. before standardized tests, while These kids are over-taxed and cramming for tests, and writing overwhelmed; they have to work papers as a way to stay alert and on coping with their busy lives. I focused. try to stress balance at my job and A senior, who wished to remain anonymous because of the at home. You have to do the best you can with the time available. sensitive nature of the story, said she began taking Adderall this year Be reasonable with the resources you have, and that’s all you can as a way to cope with her piles do.” of homework, extracurricular acScience tivities and college teacher applications. We need to Glenn “I needed a Gainley way to cope with wait and let the stress,” the senior science take its isinstrucsaid. “When you course. Once it tor for have 20 problems is scientifically Advanced in math, a paper Glenn proven safe, I Placement to write, several Gainley, Chemischapters to read, science see it being no try, which volunteering teacher different than is arguably after school and the hardcaffeine. a sport in the est class at evening, it gets to Rocky. He be overwhelming. acknowlSometimes you just need a little edges that since his class normally extra help.” attracts high-achieving students, The senior described her it would be plausible for some of first time using the stimulant as them to take an academic perfor“surreal.” Aside from a slightly faster heartbeat, and extreme, even mance enhancer in order to earn a good grade. However, Gainley “tunnel-vision” focus, the source maintains that if any student is said she felt completely normal driven to such levels, they should for the three to four hours the withdraw from the class, no matsubstance was affecting her. ter what the consequences. “Even though I didn’t feel “If I found out my students much different, I was kind of distracted because I was upset that were planning to take Adderall to keep up with my class, I would I had stooped to that level,” the strongly discourage them from senior said. “Taking prescription taking the course in the first pills that aren’t intended for you place,” Gainley said. “Students is a pretty hardcore thing to do, have this, ‘I gotta do what I especially since I’m not a druggie. gotta do to get through this class’ I’m not proud of it – it’s illegal mentality and they don’t care and it’s unhealthy. But it’s what I what happens down the road. It’s had to do to ensure my success.” a health issue, and it’s a bad, bad The senior and teachers alike fear that she might be missing “the plan.” Questions about how such a big picture” about high school drug could creep its way into eduacademics because of her perfeccational circles have surfaced since tionist, tunnel-vision tendencies. the reportings on its recreational “I’m sure when I look back at use. Many are pointing their finthis in 20 years and think about gers to the correlation to steroids how I took drugs for school, I


in the sports world. “I think what we see athletically has gone into the academic realm,” Smailes said. “There’s definitely a parallel between steroids and Adderall. We’re always looking for shortcuts, for an edge. People need to always be bigger and stronger than their peers.” Beyond questions of its origins lays the bigger issue on whether the use of such a stimulant is considered cheating. It is a question that colleges and high schools continually struggle with. In the fall 2010 semester, Wesleyan University officially banned the “misuse or abuse” of prescription drugs in its student code of conduct. Other places, however, find it to be a gray spot and struggle to classify the process as moral or immoral. “I definitely don’t see what I’m doing as cheating,” the senior said. “Maybe not the right thing to do, but certainly not cheating. I still have to acquire the same knowledge and retain it; Adderall just helps me focus in doing so.” Gainley said that his issue with Adderall is not an ethical dilemma, but health-related. “I think taking a prescription drug with no consultation from a doctor because you like a positive, with no regard to its negative is extremely shortsighted,” Gainley said. “That said, in my mind it’s not an immoral advantage. It goes along with eating right and getting enough sleep – these are all things to make your brain more receptive. The drug has potential, but for now we need to wait and let science take its course. Once it is scientifically proven safe, I see it being no different than caffeine.” Smailes said that he disagrees with students who utilize the stimulant as a way to relieve some of their stress. “Life is full of peaks and valleys,” Smailes said. “You need to be able to pull yourself out of a valley without help. You need to learn how to deal with stress without a foreign substance in your body.”




The Rumor The Truth “You can miss up to a week of school without an excuse.”

“Freshman with an attendance rate of 95 percent get taken out of study hall.”

False: If freshman have a 95 percent attenFALSE

“All absences must be excused within a 24 hour period.”

“The policy has been enforced this semester, and a large majority of upper classman have already had their privilege to go to the dances taken away.”

Michael Warren ‘12

cent or higher in order to keep your parking pass.

dance rate they can get taken out of study hall, but only if the other half of the requirement is met. Freshman must also have a 3.5 GPA or higher.

If your current absence is excused in the allotTRUE ted time given, it will not count against you.

FALSE No one has yet to be affected by the policy which does not go into affect till the beginning of second semester.

Caught in the halls during the hall sweep while grabbing something from his locker. He explained that he needed to go to work. Rather than getting detention, he received two days of in-school-suspension. “My opinion on the new attendance policy is that I think that it is crap if you happen to miss class for one time, no matter the reason, and get detention and screwed over. I have work after school and trying to explain it just made things worse. I don’t see why if the office overreacts I get in trouble when I overreact,” Russell said.

Sam Russell ‘13 Tawnee Bighorn ‘12

The New Policy - Absences must be excused within a 24 hour period, no exceptions - Beginning 2nd semester, students must demonstrate a 95% attendance rate in order to participate in the following: • Winter Dance (Feb 12) • Prom/ After Prom (April 29) • Homecoming Dance (2011) • Powder Puff (2011) • Tailgator (2011) • All other dances • Parking passes (2011)

She was sent to the office for going to the front doors of the school to wait for her friends her hall pass was to the library. “I started laughing and talking with my friends and so I was told that I was to see Mrs. Broetzman on Monday. Nothing ever happened. I was confused with what had happened and why they all of a sudden were giving me detention for being out in the hall. It just didn't make sense to me at all. I thought it was really stupid and wasn't worth a detention,” Bighorn said. Page compiled by Brittaney Cisneros, Amanda Padgett,Austin Kunert, Deanna Pesta, and Kara Spada

Be a Hero at Home Good Grades = Big Savings www.richwith

month or ten unexcused absences in a year, you can be considered truant. The days missed don’t have to be in a row.

You must have an attendance record of 95 perTRUE

up for failure. If we didn’t think people could handle this we wouldn’t have enforced it in the first place, this is purely in the spirit of educating kids,” Pierson said. “I truly believe that we have some of the nicest kids in the entire district, and we know that students can handle this, and we will succeed,” Hillberry said. Some students have reacted to the news a little differently. “I think we just need to be treated like high school students. It’s not like we’re running around in the halls being loud and disruptive. If we aren’t bothering anyone, they should just leave us be,” Becky Lewis ‘11 said. “Why don’t they just pull down the gates and lock us in?” Lizzie Lofton said sarcastically. “We’re around 18, not five.” Lizzie Lofton ‘13 said. -Austin Kunert

After the bell had rung, he was issued a detention for walking to his locker when he needed to be in class. “I was walking to my locker and [Mr. Tony Bruno] told me to get out of the halls. I said I was going to get my homework, and he gave me detention for having attitude. I think the policy has a good premise but restricting you against getting your homework is against the point,” Warren said.

If you have four unexcused absences in a FALSE

“If your attendance record doesn’t meet the expectations, your parking permit will be

Sweeps, new ditching policy changing SLHS The clock hits 7:15, the bell sounds, and the students disappear into their classrooms. After five minutes the order goes out to teachers to close and lock all doors. The one place to not be right at this moment is the hallway as Standley Lake administrators and campus security sweep the halls to crack down on frequent ditchers. Their goal? Keep the students on their toes to eliminate some of those red boxes on their attendance record. “It’s not a new policy. We never said that it was okay to ditch class; this is just a new way of enforcing that rule,” Assistant Principal Vicki Hillberry said. “Five minutes after the bell has rung the teachers are to close and lock their doors. If any student is found in the hallways they will be given detention and then sent to their class,” she added. Campus security and administrators will be taking on the task of hunting down repeat offenders in the hallways, serving them their detention slip, and escorting each student back to class. This game of cat and mouse has become known as “Hallway Sweeps.” These sweeps will not be happening every day of every hour; teachers will receive the news via email the day of telling them to lock their doors five minutes after each bell. Principal Jeff Pierson wants to assure students this new procedure is not meant to be punitive. “We have no intention to punish the students in any way; we are not setting students


More awards in State than any other Colorado 5A high school newspaper. Congratulations, INsight staff, on another stellar year. -From the Dowling Family

STUDY HALL: - Beginning 2nd semester, freshmen with a GPA of 3.5 or better, and an attendance rate of 95% or better may opt out of Study Hall (with parent approval). They may enroll in an elective course on a space available basis or have an off hour. - Beginning 2nd semester, sophomores who failed 2 or more CORE classes 1st semester will be assigned to a Study Hall during their off hour. • At six weeks, administration will review sophomore grades and if all F’s in CORE classes have improved to 65% or above, they MAY regain his/her off hour with compliance from parent and administrator. •Freshman/sophomore students can be reassigned to Study Hall at any given time during the semester if their grades begin to fall.

Cutting Costs by Elise Reuter

This year, TCA is in a pinch for finances. Students may have noticed attempts to cut costs, such as cleaning classrooms during flex, shutting off unused electronics and reduced air conditioning. But how effective are these attempts in the end? The financial troubles began at the state level, with a decrease in funding of nearly one billion dollars. In an attempt to reduce costs, approximately $260 million was cut for elementary and secondary education funding. This led to a decrease in per-pupil funding in District 20, which created an $825,000 reduction in TCA’s budget. In addition, within the last year there has been an increase in PERA (Public Employees’ Retirement Association) expenditures, with approximately an $110,000 increase in cost for TCA staff. Alternative sources of revenue

have helped fill that gap, such as the Mill Levy Override and students taking courses at College Pathways. Because the costs for classroom materials and professors are covered at PPCC (Pikes Peak Community College), TCA makes a profit from the program. “We just get a little less revenue per student for College Pathways [than for students at TCA],” said Chief Financial Officer Mark VanGampleare. “That’s been helpful.” Despite these sources of funding, there still has been a need to significantly cut costs. There was a salary freeze for all TCA staff, but no staff members were let go. “We did not have to do any reduction in the workforce, so we were fortunate that way,” said VanGampleare. Athletic and instructional supplies were both cut by

With state, district and school budget cuts, many plans for change are in place

10 percent, saving roughly $200,000. However, this requires higher student fees in some classes and activities. A budget committee was also created to further cut costs. One decision made by the committee, is the choice to have students clean classrooms during their flex block. This is intended to save about $30,000, as well as to improve TCA’s culture. According to VanGampleare, the committee intended for TCA to “have more of a culture of taking care of our home here, having a little more ownership and pride.” While it is a cost-effective method, students may not appreciate the idea. A plan was also created by Steve Rex in order to decrease utility costs. For example, all lights, computers and printers now must be shut off when they are not in use. Also, the school turns off the

Can you feel budget cuts in classrooms?

Michael Kochan, sophomore -- “I can tell, because we have to clean in flex time.”

Kimberly Grant, senior -- “The temperature is less regulated. The AC is either too hot or too cold.” Photos by Krysta Major and Justin Peterson

6 September 2010 The Titanium

Where has all the money gone?

175 150

Budget is prioritized to keep students from feeling cuts in classrooms

125 100


By Madeline Witzel



50 $29,000




25 $1,000




fu al


















































By Ashlee Ginn

Halston Reason, junior -- “Everything is cheaper, because of the budget cuts.”

Misconceptions concerning charter schools, especially TCA, abound. Nearly every TCA student has probably had a conversation where TCA has been reduced to its uniform policy or its students’ socioeconomic status. Contrary to this popular belief, a charter school is not defined by its dress code, the students it admits, or even its individual educational philosophy. A product of the choice movement in education, which believed that increased school choice for students would lead

appx. $200,000


TCA’s pending

John Wannamacher, freshman -- “I can’t feel the budget cuts at all in classes.”

By Zack Clemmons

air conditioning when students are not in the building. These changes are expected to save about $30,000. While these changes should be able to keep TCA functioning for this year, the next year may pose new problems. More state, district, and school budget cuts are anticipated, which might result in a one million dollar cut for TCA. “It is a very real concern,” said VanGampleare. “Right now the current forecast is that state legislature must cut one billion in the next fiscal year.” The staff and board are currently working on finding new ways to generate revenue. Until that point, TCA will try to continue to keep a balanced budget with as few negative effects as possible. “We are trying to have the least effect on staff and students,” said VanGampleare.

Student-applicable cuts in the TCA budget for 2010-2011, across campuses

Amount cut from department


The recession is still going strong and the entire country has been affected, including schools. As a charter school, TCA is funded by the government; therefore, with cuts in state budgets, the school’s budget has been decreased in all areas. These stories and statistics answer many questions about where our money is coming from, where it is going and how everyone feels with less money in their pockets.

No new Precalculus books? Only 25 trashcan liners per classroom? While TCA’s administration has prioritized this year’s budget to keep students from feeling budget cuts in classrooms, money remains an object in the forefront of the administration’s collective mind. To prioritize budgets for junior high and high school, teachers are divided into departments such as English, technology, math and fine arts. Each department gets a budget for the year. “They, as a team, divide up that money,” said Russ Sojourner, junior high principal. Each year, most of the department budgets go toward textbooks and other books. Other supplies must be purchased with department budgets as well. This includes software programs for the technology department, sheet music for the performing arts department, website licenses for the math department and athletic equipment for the P.E. department. A department representative works with each teacher to make sure that they receive the money they need to run their classrooms efficiently. When cuts were necessary this year, the principals responded in a diplomatic manner and made cuts evenly, as much as was possible. “When I lost a percentage of junior high money, I apportioned that evenly. The junior high administrative budget took the biggest cut this year,” Sojourner said.

“We modeled off our expenditures, and figured out how much could be cut from each department, then made minimal cuts across the board,” said Hugh DiPretore, high school principal. DiPretore said he hopes no one feels the cuts as a bitter sting, but more of a dull reminder of harder times. The cuts were made so that no one feels that their program will be devastated. “Budget cuts this year will most impact fine and performing arts. They will feel it most greatly because they reach almost 2/3 of our campus,” DiPretore said. Priorities this year were organized according to TCA’s philosophy about providing quality education for students. “Philosophically, my biggest priority is not to negatively affect classrooms,” Sojourner said. “My biggest concern is not to touch education for students, or programs that make well-rounded students. Many schools are cutting arts programs altogether, but we’re determined not to do that,” DiPretore said. What would they do with extra money? Spend it on you. “I would spread any extra money over multiple areas, and distribute it to maximize benefit educationally and co-curricularly,” DiPretore said. While cuts may be felt by students in minimal ways, the administration has worked hard to keep students from feeling the “bitter sting” of the cuts in funding.

Charter schools are privately run and publically funded to competition and subsequently higher test scores, a charter school is a publically funded but privately chartered school. This means the school runs on money provided by the government but is not subject to the same rules and regulations as a typical public school. Instead, they are held accountable to the charter they write as the school is founded. The charter is essentially the constitution of the school. It contains all the educational and organizational policies

that the school runs on. This ranges from dress code to educational philosophy to where TCA’s money will be allocated. Charter schools are open enrollment, meaning anyone can apply and be enrolled. There are no tests that need to be passed and no fees associated with admittance. Public funding is different between a charter school and a fully public school. TCA principal Hugh DiPretore said concerning the difference in funding

between typical public schools and a charter school like TCA, “Per Pupil Revenue (PPR) is essentially the same.” TCA receives $6,471 per student from the state, a decrease of $158 from last year, but still on par with the rest of the district. “The limits come in areas such as TCA being entirely responsible for its buildings and maintenance,” said DiPretore. What is contained in the charter itself leads to limitations in funding. “Our class size is a great example. In TCA’s charter, we limit our class size to 22. The rest of the

district has classes of 32. This means our per class funding is limited compared to the rest of the district,” said DiPretore. As a school in Colorado, TCA is held accountable to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). The CDE goes through District 20 to hold TCA accountable in areas like civil rights of students and state educational standards. The monetary tradeoffs were worth having a school chartered differently from a typical public school to founders like Jim

Kretchman. Kretchman said of the motivation to found TCA as a charter school, “I was excited about creating a more close-knit community that recognized the important role that parents play in the education of their kids.” In order to create said, “close-knit community,” TCA was founded as a charter school, accepting all the costs and benefits of being a publically funded but privately run school.

September 2010 The Titanium


N E WS – Littlest cheerleader realizes her dream

Little girl captures hearts Cheerleaders honor 3-year-old Delaney Wadsworth



WHS Chronicle Staff

n Feb. 17, the WHS boys’ varsity basketball team defeated Northridge. It was also a special game because it was dedicated to a little girl who has touched hearts, Delaney Wadsworth. Fans were asked to wear pink in support of Delaney, who is battling an incurable brain tumor. During the halftime show, Windsor and Northridge cheerleaders came together to do a cheer with Delaney. “Delaney’s favorite part of coming to games is doing ‘Jump, Shake your Booty,’ with the cheerleaders,” Brenna Wadsworth, Delaney’s mother, said. “Having the cheerleaders do this for us is so amazing, it’s one of the coolest things for the two schools to come together and do this for us; I can’t even tell you what it means to us,” Wadsworth said. Delaney loves to sing and perform in front of crowds, Wadsworth said. Delaney and the Northridge cheerleaders got up in front of the whole gym and sang, “You are My Sunshine,” Leaving many of the people in the gym in tears. Delaney was diagnosed with a incurable brain tumor, on July 4, 2010. “At the beginning of the year, we found out that Delaney had a tumor that was incurable, so we had her come cheer with us. After that, we did a fundraiser at the Rec Center. We didn’t have to go, but we did to show our support. After that she started to get better, then it turned around, and now were trying to do the best for the time she has,” said Mikayla Schwindt, WHS cheerleader. “We were asked by Delaney’s family to help her any way we could, so we took it upon ourselves to make her a little Windsor cheer uniform, and we have invited her to cheer at every home game with us, along with coming to team dinners, and are just trying to have lots of fun with her,” said Tracie Murphy, WHS cheer coach. Northridge cheerleaders were involved in a similar situation in 2007. “My sister was diagnosed with the brain tumor in October of 2007, and then she passed away. Then we saw an article last September on Delaney in the paper. We wanted to meet her and meet her family, so we called her and met

4 | 03.10.11


Delaney Wadsworth and her mom Brenna. her at dinner like a week later and then we just got close,” said Abby Gonzales, Northridge cheerleader. “My sister Amanda was 16 when she was diagnosed and was starting her junior year of high school. The second she got diagnosed, she stopped school, and two weeks into her diagnosis, she was put into a wheelchair. The February after she was diagnosed, the doctor said she had four weeks left to live and so we just kept praying. Amanda was the strongest girl; she kept faith. “Amanda lived past the time she was supposed to. They gave her 9 to 13 months, and she lived 16 months. She passed away her senior year in March, two days after her

birthday. Ever since then, Delaney is like my sister now. We’re just praying for a miracle with Delaney,” Gonzales said. WHS cheerleaders have done lots of fundraising for Delaney and her family. “We did the spaghetti dinner with her, we sold T-shirts, bracelets, and we have passed around buckets at football games,” Murphy said. These fundraisers have raised lots of funds for the Wadsworth family. “We didn’t count the money; we just gracefully handed it over,” Murphy said. Northridge cheerleaders also have put lots of effort into fundraising for the Wadsworth family. “We had the walk to raise money, we had this (basketball game), we sell shirts, and we have this thing at WalMart for our cheer team, so we made donations cup and I think we made over $100. I’d say [we made] over a couple thousand just with the little things that we tried, and every single penny has gone to the family,” Gonzales said. The WHS cheer team has had a hard time accepting Delaney’s illness. “I think we were lucky to be around her, and she’s a really innocent and beautiful soul, and if it’s her time to go, a positive way to think about it is she never had to go through all of life’s pains, like heartbreak. God took her as an innocent being and it’s good to know that all of us are her role models,” said Nadia Bierwirth, WHS cheerleader. “Right now Delaney’s illness has continured to decline. She hasn’t been sleeping well, so her parents called the doctor, which means it’s getting further along and it’s getting worse. Right now she can’t move on he own; she has very limited movement in her right hand along with her body. She can’t eat anymore, so her parents have to mash all of her food. Everybody is taking off work and trying to spend as much time as they can with her because they said that her time is limited. She can’t talk, so she can’t tell anybody what she wants. She gets really frustrated because she tries to tell us what she wants, but she can’t. Both of her eyes are crossed and they say she can’t see out of them,” sophomore Kasey Benish, Delaney’s cousin said. Delaney’s mother said she feels as if Delaney’s accepted her illness.


Fans and athletes honored 3-year-old Delaney Wadsworth Feb. 17 at a varsity basketball game between Windsor and Northridge. Photos by VINCE RAMIREZ / WHS Chronicle

“The other morning, Delaney and I were sitting and she wanted sausage, so we were sitting there talking about her dog Daisy that had passed away. She had been pretty upset about Daisy. We always talk about her and how she’s with Jesus. Delaney says, ‘Will I get to see Daisy again?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you’ll see daisy again, and she’s with Jesus.’ And she says, ‘Mommy, I’m so excited; I’m dying.’ and I said, ‘What did you say?’ And she said, ‘I’m dying.’ I said, ‘OK, who told you that?’ She said, ‘God told me.’ I strongly believe God spoke to Delaney and told her everything, and then when she asked me, I told her the truth. So she knows she’s sick, but she’s OK with it and what’s going on,” Wadsworth said. Delaney was definitely happy to have experienced cheerleading. “Delaney’s dad has always dreamed of her being a WHS cheerleader because he went here and her mom was a Northridge cheerleader, so this wasn’t only her dream, but her parents’ dream,” Sydney Lindenstein, WHS cheerleader said. “I think we have been blessed just getting to know Delaney and spend time with her,” Kylie Graff said, WHS cheerleader. “Most people don’t get to learn the lessons of how valuable life is, and this shows us that we should live every day like it’s our last,” Bre Clark, WHS cheerleader, said.

03.10.11 |


Writing winners 2010-11, part 1  

You can find all the results on our website: These samples placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in our inaugural individual contest,...

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