NEWS 6 LAKE COUNTY
New LGBTQ+ Center Opens in Lake County
New Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards Adopted in Illinois
FEATURES 9 FOOD INSECURITY
Township and School Food Pantries Help Those in Need
The Building’s Energy
Covid Waste is Littering Libertyville and Our Planet
The Environmental Costs of Fast Fashion
26 WHAT’S TRENDING
Overloaded: Searching for the Truth in a Digital Maze
18-19 STAFF EDITORIAL
Drops of Ink, Published for You
The Dangers of Cultural Misrepresentation in Media
The Message Behind the Masks
WE’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Contents by Natalie Isberg Cover by Dimitrios Mitsopoulos
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LHS Has Its Very Own Athletes and Coaches Adapt to Overlapping American Ninja Warrior: Kylie Hughes Sports Schedules
WHO WE ARE Drops of Ink is a student-written, edited and produced high school publication. Our publication functions as a service to the school and greater community of Libertyville, first and foremost delivering open-minded, informative content that is relevant to our readership. While not our primary motive, Drops of Ink also looks to provide entertainment to our audience. We aim to challenge readers to see different perspectives and gain knowledge of the world around us.
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NEW LGBTQ+ CENTER OPENS IN LAKE COUNTY Ella Marsden
When Nikki Michele and her family moved to Waukegan in September, she was struck by the lack of resources available for members of the LGBTQ+ community. In Racine, Wisconsin, where Michele and her family lived before moving, she was a volunteer at the LGBT Center of Southeast Wisconsin. Her experiences there encouraged her to open her own center in Lake County late last year. Not only did the Racine center provide a resource for members of the LGBTQ+ community to participate in support groups and engage with other members of that community, but it was also available for those who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ as a place to learn about that community. Michele’s oldest child is transgender non-binary. People don’t always understand what it means to be non-binary, so Michele is often asked to explain. “As a queer family, I’m interacting with people all the time. And they will be like, ‘Your kid uses they/ them pronouns? That doesn’t make any sense. That’s not grammatically correct,’” she said. When Michele lived in Racine, she would carry the LGBT center’s business cards around with her. When she was asked those questions, she’d hand them a card and suggest that they go to the center and learn. But when Michele and her family moved to Lake County, it quickly became apparent to her that there wasn’t a resource like that around here. “I scoured the internet, I asked around, and there really just wasn’t any one place that I could send people or volunteer at. So I just made one myself,” Michele said. In the winter of 2020, Michele reached out to Caroline Beadle about starting this nonprofit. Beadle and her husband have lived in Lake County for 17 years, and her husband is the executive director of Waukegan Main Street. Because of connections they’ve established in the community, many startup organizations reach out to them for assistance. Beadle gladly agreed to partner with Michele and became a founding board member. The LGBTQ+ Center of Lake County is currently operating in an online-only format, with social events and support groups being held on Discord. Eventually, the center plans to open a physical space in Waukegan, but many of the funds that would be going toward that are being funneled into Covid-19 relief. But the center felt the need for this resource — even in an online format — was urgent. “We were really anxious to try to provide a safe space for especially queer teens during the pandemic because already we’re socially isolated,” Michele said. “But now we can’t even hang out together.” 6
Nikki Michele is the executive director of the LGBTQ+ Center of Lake County. Currently, their meetings are all virtual, but their future plans include opening a physical space in Waukegan.
Once she and her team open a physical space, she hopes the center will be a place where people are able to find whatever resources they need. These resources could span a myriad of topics, ranging from housing to STI testing to finding a therapist who is LGBTQ+ knowledgeable, Michele explained. In addition, she hopes to use their “resources to provide training to organizations to make them more LGBTQ friendly,” she said. This means “any person who interacts with LGBTQ individuals, first responders, schools, doctors, therapists, businesses, other nonprofits.” She hopes to “also provide self-advocacy opportunities to change policies that affect LGBTQ individuals.” Junior Amy Paulsen is the president of the Gender-Sexuality Alliance at LHS, and she identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. To her, this new resource is an important step forward. “It means that the county is taking a step in the direction of equality and inclusivity. And it also means that people who are struggling with acceptance can find a place where they can have that acceptance that they need,” Paulsen said. Michele is proud of the work the center is doing already, but she thinks the county and the world still have a long way to go. She specifically touched on the importance of the national passage of the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in virtually all aspects of life. “It’s really important that we fight back against the rising hate towards the LGBTQ community and get some protections in place,” Michele said. *If you are looking for resources for LGBTQ+ support, visit: LGBTQ+ Center of Lake County
Teen LGBTQ+ Discord
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CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE TEACHING AND LEADING STANDARDS ADOPTED IN ILLINOIS
Six Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards in Illinois are summarized on the books pictured above. These standards will be implemented into Illinois teacher training programs in an attempt to ensure that all students thrive within their school community.
n mid-February, the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted in favor of the Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading standards, which were then adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education. These guidelines require all teacher training programs in Illinois to incorporate culturally responsive teaching and leading standards into their curriculum. For new teacher training programs, the rules will be included by October, but for already established programs, they have until October 2025 to implement the standards. According to Dr. Rita Fischer, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for District 128, the new standards will mainly be enforced in colleges and universities where students are learning how to become educators. The new guidelines prepare educators to effectively connect and teach students from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Fischer explained that the purpose of these standards is “so [that teachers are] aware of who their students are, their cultural backgrounds, [and] their perspectives, and [teachers use that information] to design effective strategies for welcoming multiple perspectives in the classroom.” According to Anne Singleton, the LHS equity coordinator, the standards are intended to help teachers build connections with each and every student that they have in their classroom. Their intent is to try to ensure that whatever biases a teacher may have will not impact the learning of the students nor interfere with the students’ success. “Responsive teaching is about developing relationships with students in order to support their learning. It’s a learning partnership and helps students recognize their strengths,” explained Mrs. Singleton. “As an educator, [the goal is to] see students’ strengths first and then leverage those strengths of students in order to help them understand new information to improve things in areas of struggle.” This addition to the teacher training programs sparked some debate about whether the standards were pushing political viewpoints onto the educators and then, as a result, to their students. Some opponents of the new standards believed that what educators will be teaching is being changed as opposed to how educators will teach. “I was surprised, actually, that there was some misunderstanding about this being
an initiative to teach about different cultures in our classroom,” said Lisa Hessel, a D128 school board member. “But I think the controversy was really a misunderstanding of what this actually was.” Mrs. Singleton shared that another aspect that those opposed to the standards are against is acknowledging the different cultural backgrounds represented in a classroom. “They don’t believe that [culturally responsive teaching] has a role in education, and an educator’s job is to teach the content and all of that other stuff is something that families should be doing if they want to be covering that information,” she said. “And then the other side would say, ‘No, no, no, this stuff is important. We need to acknowledge students’ identities and how my identity as an educator impacts the work that I do with students.’” Opportunities to learn about culturally responsive teaching are nothing new for the staff of D128 as “we determine our own professional learning opportunities for our educators and we have provided professional learning on culturally responsive teaching already and will continue to do so,” said Dr. Fischer. But this doesn’t mean all Illinois school districts do the same. “I think from a global perspective, it is necessary. We know that when we look at metrics that there are students that are being left behind because they come to the classroom equipped with a different perspective than their peers,” stated Hessel. “And if that’s happening, it needs to be addressed.” APRIL 2021 7
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TOWNSHIP AND SCHOOL FOOD PANTRIES HELP THOSE IN NEED Rowan Hornsey
According to Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that runs food banks around the country, it is projected that 13.2 million more people in the United States will be food insecure this year than in 2018 (when more than 37 million people were) as a result of the pandemic. Our area is no exception to rising levels of food insecurity among its population, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics reporting unemployment in Lake County higher than 6% in February. This lack of income and food insecurity due to the pandemic are new to many members of the Libertyville community. The Libertyville Township Food Pantry has not been a stranger to these major changes. According to Libertyville Township Supervisor Kathleen O’Connor, “Prior to the pandemic, numbers were super low. We had maybe 40 families a week using [the food pantry], and these families were coming twice a month.” At its peak during the pandemic, the pantry would average 80-100 families, often stopping by weekly. Currently, the food pantry averages 60 families every week. While this is a significant increase from the 40 families they used to see, O’Connor also mentioned the expansion throughout other local food pantries that have helped to serve the community in addition to the township. At LHS, since the beginning of the pandemic, the studio theatre entrance at
Avery Vang LHS has been home to a Wildcat family food pantry. School social workers Samantha Avila and Greg Loika started working on this project right as school began to shut down last March. “Right away, we go into lockdown, and our minds go to the students,” Ms. Avila said. As much as Ms. Avila was worried about the emotional well-being of many students, she also held great concern over the students who rely on the school for food and other necessities. The social workers started by surveying families and looking at the list of names on the free and reduced lunch list. They sent out the survey right after our area went into lockdown and then a couple of other times throughout because of rapid changes in people’s economic situations. Ms. Avila explained that the list’s fluctuation has largely been due to changing employment statuses for some families. “The pandemic isn’t just taking lives of people who are sick. It is transforming the lives of people monetarily,” she said. To purchase items for the pantry, the money that would usually be spent on the kids with school-sponsored lunches was instead funneled into the food items given to the families. By partnering with school lunch services, sports teams, different clubs and parents for donations, they have been able to keep the program going. Both the school and township pantries attempt to alleviate the stress that families may experience when reaching out for help. “[The social workers] get tips from teachers or other students,” said Ms. Avila. And it’s important that the social workers “don’t pry. [We just] get a bag ready and bring it to the student’s house.” “We have a lot of help that we can give and a lot of resources in this community, so why not use them?” Ms. Avila added. “There is definitely a need and some need we don’t know about. I hope if people don’t know this and read this story, they can use it.”
Due to the pandemic, Samantha Avila, the social worker in the Q-Z LST, has been consistently working on ensuring that all LHS students and their families have access to enough food weekly.
As for the township, a visit to the food pantry simply requires proof of residency. There is no need to provide proof of financial need. “The reality is that [a] family is struggling, they wish they didn’t have to be here, so how do we make it as non-stressful as possible?” O’Connor said. Although the pandemic is looking up for many due to increased vaccination rates, O’Connor stressed that “even if people are going back to work, they still have a large amount of debt...it is okay if someone needs to use [the pantry] to supplement until they get back on their feet financially.” If you’re interested in donating to the current and future needs of the community, goods can be dropped by the studio theatre lobby or in the bins outside the township office at 359 Merrill Court. APRIL 2021 9
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the building’s energy Hannah Sachs
Peyton Rodriguez Sara Bogan Libertyville High School’s building offers space to students, staff and guests for a wide range of activities throughout the entirety of the year. To hold activities such as academics, extra curriculars, sports and dances, the building itself has complex resource and maintenance demands to ensure the building functions and can be a suitable space for such activities. Due to this, the building goes through continuous upgrades to achieve goals such as creating increased energy efficiency, updating maintenance systems and enhancing the experience for everyone throughout the building. One of the largest recent updates to the school was the Olympic-sized pool with roughly 740,000 gallons of water, as described by Chris Stancil, supervisor of buildings and grounds at LHS. The size of the new pool is not the only difference it bears from the old one, though. Mr. Stancil explained that this pool is not only much more energy efficient but now also offers better
protection against chloramines, which are gases that are created when people enter the pool with products such as aftershave or makeup on. LHS’s previous pool was installed in 1969, and Mr. Stancil explained how even though there were upgrades to the previous pool, its energy inefficiencies were abundant due to the age of its systems. “This new pool has a scavenging system that actually takes the air, pushes it from one side to the other in the gutter system and removes most of the gases that come up out of the water,” Mr. Stancil explained. He also added that “it really is a phenomenal pool” as the district built it “keeping in mind safety and water quality and the health of the pool itself.” Using newer maintenance systems is one way energy is more efficient in the new pool. One other contributor is the usage of LED lights. These lights are also being actively distributed throughout the entire school whenever possible due to their energy
saving qualities. LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are more expensive than traditional light bulbs, but they also last longer while simultaneously requiring less energy. The U.S. Department of Energy describes the lights as “one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly developing technologies.” Dave Lapish, English teacher and head of LEAF, shared that additional efforts of energy efficiency through lighting can be seen through the timers that most classroom lights now run on. He described that “teachers can set them at a certain time, so if you leave the room, it’ll go off automatically to flip the lights off.” Two spaces that were recently outfitted with LEDs are the new dance studio and multipurpose room. Sitting in the location of the old pool, Mr. Stancil estimated that the lighting set up within these rooms now draws only “a 20th or 40th of the power” that the old pool lights required. Regardless of the exact numbers, Mr. Stancil guaranteed that the area is now “drawing less than 20% for electrical power” in comparison to the previous demands of that large space. Not only do these rooms have LED lights, but according to Mr. Stancil, due to these being new additions to the school, they have a new air-handling system alongside a new mechanical room, which hosts up-to-date energy efficient equipment. While the pool, dance studio and multipurpose rooms are now finished and usable projects, the next step for building updates is to give the fieldhouse new life. Currently, LHS’s largest open athletic venue doesn’t have air conditioning and has poor roofing, leaving it due for upgrades.
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Dan Stanley, District 128’s assistant superintendent for finances, explained that this project has three major focuses: new roofing, new flooring and updated HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems. When describing this project, Mr.Stanley explained that in order to remain cost efficient, the footprint of the space will be kept the same as updates are made. Mr. Stancil described it as stripping back “to the bare bones structure of the building itself” while maintaining the basic foundation of the space. In Mr. Stanley’s words, “It’s not going to look terribly different, but it will function much better.” Though projects are often worked on during the summer in order to be completed before the return of school, Mr. Stancil explained that the size of this project will demand more time, leaving it to potentially not be finished until October. The space will be more energy efficient since the outside walls and roof will be updated to have thicker insulation to protect against the heat or the cold from the outside coming in too easily. Additionally, the new roof will last for 30 or 40 years, which Mr. Stancil explained “will be great for the environment,” as it won’t require being changed as often. As previously mentioned, air conditioning will be added into this part of the building, alongside LED lights and an updated air filtration system. Mr. Stancil explained that Covid-19 has put a larger emphasis on the importance of air filtration and due to that, the school will be making efforts to update air filtration throughout the entire building. The idea for a larger expansion of improved air filtration is still in the early stages, but Mr. Stancil shared that the “air quality in the school will be much better” and “second to none” when these updates are made. Said updates would feature updating to a higher MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) filter that would be able to filter out more articulations and potentially dangerous substances from the air. Another initiative for building
Solar power is actually something that the district is seriously considering doing on the northeast corner of the building.
improvement that is currently waiting to be acted upon further is the usage of solar panels. Mr. Stancil explained that currently “we have five solar panels on the southeast corner of the roof” that were added “about seven years ago as an incentive to the school district.” These panels are essentially comparable to a “trial run” before the school takes larger scale action. Mr. Lapish described them as “sort of like the down payment or the beginning of the process.” According to Mr. Stancil, “solar power is actually something that the district is seriously considering doing on the northeast corner of the building.” The effort of expanding this project though is challenged by the roof strength that the panels demand. The amount of money it would take to redo and reinforce all of the school’s
necessary roofs in order to add a substantial amount of panels at one time is not in the budget, according to Mr. Stanley. While a large-scale update in solar panels does not seem imminent, roofs continue to be updated throughout the school and whenever it’s possible, they are being reinforced to the point where they could support solar panels in preparation for the future. The five solar panels set up today do not have a large impact on the energy usage of the school, as Mr. Stancil explained that they only generate about enough electricity to power two curling irons. The panels currently act more as an incentive to continue pushing solar energy into LHS’s future.
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COVID Waste has Littered Libertyville and our Planet Alex Clark
asks have become a part of the normal routine for people all over the world and are essential for protecting the population from Covid-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, about 93% of adults leave their home with a mask, according to a National Geographic and Morning Consult pool. And in most areas, they are required. In addition to single-use disposable gloves and hand sanitizer bottles, masks have created a new category of waste detrimental to our planet and environment. “Covid Waste” is a term created to categorize the huge influx in waste due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and this type of waste can be seen throughout various public places. Masks are often scattered on the ground, blowing in the wind, with their loops sometimes caught around brush and shrubs. Those masks, if not picked up or blown away, could stay in the same spot for 450 years. In addition, according to Waste Free Oceans, disposable masks could cause problems much further down the line, like affecting wildlife, especially birds. With the enormous demand for masks, huge amounts of waste will likely follow. Many environmental agencies have estimated that around 100-150 billion masks are now disposed of each month around the world, with the majority of those masks being disposed of improperly or ending up in the ocean. With these numbers, there could soon be more masks than jellyfish in the ocean, according to The Guardian.
Since there have not been many formal, long-term studies on the subject due to the recency of the topic, there is no data confirming the precise amount of masks being used; however, if someone looks around in public, they would most likely see a mask littered somewhere on the ground. A short walk earlier this month on the North Shore Bike Path found seven masks, one pair of gloves and one hand sanitizer bottle littered on the ground. And when driving around Libertyville, masks can be seen caught on the side of large roadways in bushes and blowing in the streets. The physical qualities of disposable masks have specifically made them more damaging
to the environment. The lightweight nature of masks make them easier to travel and be accidentally littered. The ear loops make it easy for the masks to attach to objects, including animals. According to covidlitter. com, a website created by researchers for tracking Covid waste incidents in animals, there have been 45 instances in which humans have spotted animals affected by Covid waste. Instances have included masks being ingested by wildlife, masks being used as nesting material, and mask loops being stuck around a bird’s legs, making the bird unable to fly. While this number is low, it encompasses only recently reported incidents; the actual number of affected animals
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hand sanitizer bottles and disposable masks and gloves have become more prevalent, leading to an increase in waste. An estimated 100-150 billion masks are being thrown away every month, and those that don’t make it into the trash won’t decompose for 450 years.
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COVID Waste and the Environment
On average during the pandemic, the world uses
disposable masks per month,
3 million 50,000
a minute and every second
If the pandemic ends in September, the world will have used an estimated
2,322,000,000,000 masks. Less than 1% of these will be recycled Hospitals in Wuhan, China produced
of single-use plastic medical waste per day during the height of the
6X more than the daily average before the pandemic Masks are made from
the same plastic used for
straws and ketchup bottles Disposable masks won’t disintegrate through the next
4 “once-in-a-generation” pandemics —
staying in oceans, landfills and hazmat repositories Source: RoadRunner Recycling
is likely higher. Citizens wishing to report incidents to be used in research can submit their pictures at covidlitter.com. The best way to prevent having a disposable mask or gloves from harming the environment is to simply avoid using disposable masks and gloves, according to GreenMatters. The World Health Organization recommends using a cloth face covering when going out in public instead of using a
disposable mask. Cloth masks are the best alternative to disposable masks because they can be reused and washed after every use. The best alternative to using disposable gloves is to simply wash your hands more often. The World Health Organization and the CDC, along with many physicians, have decided that disposable gloves are unnecessary as the risk for surface transmission of Covid-19 is very low; gloves give the wearer
a false sense of security, leading them to possibly touch contaminated surfaces. The CDC recently came out with research saying you have a 1 in 10,000 chance of catching Covid-19 on a contaminated surface. If someone wears a disposable mask, many environmentalists have urged people to “snip the straps” of the mask before disposing of it to avoid issues like the mask being entangled in wildlife. Many people and researchers have found creative ways to address the issue, as the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia has found a way to recycle disposable masks and turn them into roadways. According to their findings, 2.5 million recycled masks could be used to produce one mile of roadways, saving 102 tons of waste. Hospitals, such as Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, have developed strategies on how to combat Covid waste and how N95 respirators -- highly effective masks that are vital to hospitals and health care workers -- could be conserved. “Alongside our efforts to provide our team members with the equipment they need to effectively and safely care for our patients, we instituted efforts to conserve critical PPE supplies and invested in domestic PPE production, which secures the supply chain and reduces carbon emissions associated with sourcing PPE from suppliers overseas,” said hospital spokeswoman Kirsten Johnson. “Our solid and medical waste continues to stay significantly below the national average for hospitals. At Advocate Condell Medical Center, we saw an insignificant change in waste last year when compared to 2019.” Advocate Condell is also committed to continuing their environmental efforts in the future. “We’ve committed to transitioning to 100% renewable electricity by 2030, a change that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 400,000 metric tons,” said Johnson, who added that the hospital received an award last year for its sustainability practices.
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The environmental costs of fast fashion Anika Raina
Afew decades, consumers have gained unprecedented access to
s the fast fashion industry has grown exponentially over the past
apparel to media influencers to create awareness for the brand and influence their followers to shop. Companies' persuasive marketing techniques have created a massive push for consumers to buy large amounts of clothing for inexpensive prices. “I think a lot of it is just the immediacy of the shipping availability, the products are here,” said Dr. Kellum. “The easy access to ordering it, having it shipped so quickly and paying for [clothing] so easily has definitely allowed these brands to expand.” In addition, the industry has manipulated consumers into believing that repeating and re-wearing garments and outfits once or twice can be enough time to consider the clothing item old. Fast fashion companies drop new clothing collections weekly, often making consumers feel that their clothing is out-of date and encouraging them to keep buying more. Most of these garments do not get recycled and are instead thrown out; according to Good on You, the average American throws out 81 pounds of clothing yearly and three out of five fast fashion items end up in a landfill. The inexpensive prices and large selection of clothing come with a cost: the abuse and mistreatment of garment workers by employers. As stated by Labour Behind the Label, a campaign group focusing on labor rights in the garment industry, workers face “poverty pay,
inexpensive and trendy clothing. While this may sound appealing to the average consumer, the fast fashion industry is the second-largest polluting industry in the world, causing detrimental environmental damage and its unethical labor practices only continue to grow, according to leading environmental organizations. The mass production of clothing created by fast fashion companies is causing damage to the environment at an alarming rate. According to Good on You, a company that rates the sustainability and ethicalness of clothing brands, consumers are buying 60% more apparel today than in 2000, significantly increasing the fashion industry’s production rate over the past 20 years. In addition, the industry is responsible for 10% of the world's carbon emissions. Department supervisor for career and technical education Debra Kellum teaches fashion marketing and merchandising at LHS. She explained that one major reason fast fashion brands have grown so drastically over the past few decades is because of the persuasive marketing strategies brands use to promote their clothing. “The high-end fashion [brands] always have their yearly shows, and if you are anyone or want to be somebody, you're walking on a runway somewhere trying to get your brands noticed,” explained Dr. Kellum. “So [high-end brands] are trying to get their ideas out there, Activewear Activewear lululemon so then all of the lower-level Threads 4 Thought Puma Outdoor voices merchandisers Nike Iron roots quickly copy knockoffs and Casual Casual get them on the pact united by blue Urban outfitters market as quickly as they can.” outerknown Then, the companies Comfort Clothing Comfort Clothing advertise the clothing on naadam digital platforms. Champion Their newest marketing stratLuxury brands Luxury brands egy includes ads on social media armani sites as well as giving their Stella mccartney Another tomorrow chanel
Sources: Good on you, Unsustainable Magazine, Minimalism made simple, the good trade, sustainable jungle
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Fashion and water pollution:
choose clothes made in countries with stricter environmental regulations (E.U., Canada, U.S.) choose organic and natural fibers
Fashion and greenhouse gas emissions:
wHAT TO LOOK FOR TO SHOP more sustainably
choose natural fibers buy less and buy better quality; mend clothes buy clothes made in countries powered by more renewable energy
Fashion and water Consumption: Source: sustain your style
choose fibers with low water consumption Linen, recycled fibers, Lyocell
long working hours and denial of trade union rights to significant risks to workers’ health and safety through unsafe buildings, heat, lack of ventilation, no access to clean drinking water and restricted access to the bathroom, and use of dangerous chemicals.” Gender discrimination is also common in factories, whether it be unequal wages, harassment or verbal and physical abuse toward women, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign, a global network dedicated to improving conditions of garment workers. Fashion apparel is also dangerously polluting the environment. Many fast fashion brands use semi-synthetic microfibers such as rayon and viscose and petroleum-based fibers such as polyester and nylon due to their inexpensive manufacturing prices and increased strength and durability compared to natural fibers. Rayon and viscose are plant-based fabrics that are created from the pulp of wood. The increased demand for clothing has led to deforestation and habitat destruction. Furthermore, polyester and nylon fibers are a type of plastic produced by petroleum that contain thousands of microplastics, so when a polyester or nylon garment is washed, thousands of these microplastics are released into the water, contaminating the Earth’s oceans. According to ethical fashion group Common Place, 35% of microplastics in the oceans are caused by synthetic fabrics. While fast-fashion clothing may be appealing to many Americans, some individuals in Libertyville and elsewhere are striving to limit their clothing consumption. Junior Grace Comilla works at Plato’s Closet, a secondhand clothing retailer located in Libertyville, and explained that Plato’s Closet does not rely on donations. “People come [to Plato’s Closet] with clothes that they want to sell and we look through it and decide usually based on condition and the
Fashion and chemicals:
choose organic fibers and sustainable brands wash new clothes before wearing them for the first time look for clothes with certification labels controlling chemical content oeko-Tex, GOTS, Bluesign
Fashion and rainforest destruction:
choose natural or semi-synthetic fibers (lyocell or Tencel) instead of manufactured fibers (rayon, modal or viscose)
Fashion and waste accumulation:
choose natural or semi-synthetic fibers buy less and buy better quality; mend clothes
style of the clothes. With all of the clothes we do decide to pick, we give the [customer] a quote,” she explained. “Our computer system will decide the price of the clothing and will give them a quote of the total amount we can give them and they can choose whether to keep the clothes or accept the price.” Senior Rebecca Parker also works at Plato’s Closet, and explained that she hopes our society can branch away from very fast trends and stick to fashion items that will last. “I think fast fashion is something that is hard to get away from, just because it is a huge part of American culture, but I think the best thing we can do is to stay away from that and stick to apparel items that will be sustainable for many years,” Parker said. Parker has worked at Plato’s Closet since July and explained that she now buys most of her clothes from there because “once you start buying sustainably, you feel this kind of guilt buying from other fast fashion companies like H&M or Forever 21.” Her sister, Allison Parker, also shops at Plato’s Closet and nearby thrift stores, such as Goodwill and Upscale Rummage, because she knows that they will have clothes targeted towards teenagers and also because she finds it to be fun. “[By shopping sustainably], I’m hoping to make the environment a little better and know the moral improvement of that,” said Parker. Senior Emma Bleck also encouraged her peers and community members to implement sustainable shopping into their lives. ”Try to find a thrift store or a vintage shop or even online thrifting that’s a little bit smaller and can work with you, because I know with the huge [thrift stores], it can get super overwhelming,” Bleck said. “I think a lot of times it’s easy to buy a lot of stuff, so make sure you’re donating consistently too because it keeps those stores alive.”
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OVERLOADED SEARCHING FOR THE TRUTH IN A DIGITAL MAZE
hen describing the goal of his life’s work, Mark Zuckerberg once said, “the thing that we are trying to do at Facebook is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently.” There’s no doubt that Facebook and the multitude of social media platforms that succeeded it have largely accomplished this goal. The Information Age has given a voice to billions of people who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to share their beliefs
with people miles or even continents away. It has facilitated a mass exchange of ideas to occur within a matter of seconds instead of weeks. Perhaps, then, the question that remains is not whether the Information Age has allowed us to connect more efficiently, but whether it has allowed us to communicate more effectively. Has the vast conglomerate of information and opinions we now have immediate access
to made us a more educated citizenry, capable of forming well-developed and well-supported beliefs? Or has it left us highly uncertain and misinformed? The evidence suggests that while the Information Age has left us with an unprecedented amount of knowledge at our fingertips, the difficulties of navigating this abundance pose a daunting challenge for our generation.
A Deluge of Information
The Search for Escape Routes
At first glance, the increased access to information that has accompanied the Information Age appears to be an unequivocal good for society. However, access to information doesn’t always equate to the absorption of this knowledge. Junior Nikhil Patel, who’s active on social media, highlighted this phenomenon as it pertains to social media, stating, “I think seeing a bunch of differing opinions in rapid succession [can] just be confusing...Someone might be less willing to understand something if it’s just a quick reading of a post” as opposed to a longer discussion. This is in part because the brain has a limited capacity for the amount of data it can effectively absorb in a period of time. As explained by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, information overload can occur when an individual is exposed to such a high volume of knowledge that they are no longer able to effectively process this information and can, thus, be left feeling overwhelmed. In the age of endless Google searches and cluttered social media feeds, information overload has become a rather common phenomenon, with 66% of American adults reporting feeling “worn out” by the amount of news they encountered in a 2019 Pew Research Center survey.
Far from being a brief experience of anxiety, information overload can have significant consequences on an individual’s desire to fully process complex issues. In fact, a study by University at Albany professor Chang Sup Park, focusing on information overload in South Korea, concluded that perceived information overload can actually lead to news avoidance because individuals lose confidence in their ability to navigate an ever-increasing body of information and thus shy away from using the mediums available to them completely. Psychology teacher Laura Brandt expanded on how the nature of the Information Age has facilitated this news avoidance. She explained that if an individual today reads a news story about last month’s tragic shooting in Atlanta, “That’s uncomfortable. So if I don’t want to...acknowledge it’s a hate crime, or if I’m Asian American and that is just so overwhelming for me, I can just choose not to think about it, and go to the next story, and go to the next story [after that].” She compared these modern tendencies to reactions following devastating events that occurred before the Information Age, asserting that individuals had “to figure out a way to process” these past events because they dominated press coverage, and individuals didn’t have the option of distracting themselves by clicking onto another online story.
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FEATURE English teacher Matt Tooley tied information overload to the development of poorly supported beliefs, stating “when you’re constantly bombarded with [information], there’s more chance that you’re going to question what you have already kind of established as truth, and there’s a degree to which that’s good…but when everything seems to be up in the air and questioned, then I think it also makes it [easier] to believe whatever you want to believe just to feel secure.” Ironically, having access to more information than ever before might lead an increasingly large segment of society to adopt unfounded beliefs or avoid processing the world around them altogether.
Masked Lies In addition to sheer information overload, students must also contend with the way the internet and social media have inadvertently encouraged the spread of misinformation and the development of echo chambers. According to Business Insider, 59% of Generation Z list social media as a “top news source,” yet a report from Vox found that social media engagement with dubious news sources rose from 8% to 17% from 2019 to 2020. Mr. Tooley elaborated on the pervasive nature of misinformation today, citing “the experience of seeing eight, nine years ago, how poorly my students could navigate the landscape of the media [and] seeing these...rogue conspiracy theories gaining traction” as the inspiration for introducing media literacy units into his classes. Even if one manages to avoid this surge of false information, that doesn’t guarantee they are protected from more subtle biases that might corrupt their viewpoint as well. Commenting on the greatest challenges created by the Information Age, Patel highlighted the dangers of online echo chambers because “there’s so much information available, you can
find sources of information that will just completely agree with you. And they’ll provide reasoning and facts...that may or not be tailored to fit a certain narrative.”
Course Correction While information overload and misinformation may pose serious threats to our society, the benefits of responsibly interacting with media cannot be ignored. Referring to the various worldwide issues addressed by her global capstone class in their social activism projects, Mrs. Brandt described how the “internet has sort of opened the door to [involvement in social activism]” for students by connecting them to causes they are passionate about. In addition, there are multiple steps both individuals and society can take in order to combat the effects of information overload and the spread of false claims. Mr. Tooley stressed the importance of formally introducing media literacy units into the curriculum because they can “empower [students] to feel like [they] can go out and get information that [they] feel is valid, credible information.” He reiterated the importance of maintaining a “healthy skepticism” of the information one may encounter while still trusting the experts in a particular field. In regards to effective researching, Mrs. Brandt suggested that students “set up a system in which you’ve got all highly credible sources. Take one that’s more sort of liberal, one that’s more mainstream, and one that’s more conservative. That will give you a robust range...and then you won’t go down the wormhole [with] all these other sources.” Determining the net impact of the Information Age on our ability to develop fact-based beliefs might be impossible, but better preparing students to navigate an ever growing body of information is a step that our society can take to create a more educated citizenry.
Many forms of social media contain vast amounts of information about current events from numerous sources. Some outlets, like Twitter, have dedicated tabs to showcase trending news, which are filled with both public comments and reputable news sources.
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Published for You DOI Staff
Note: This piece is a staff editorial, which is an opinion article meant to reflect the opinions of the Drops of Ink staff. Because of this, the author’s name does not appear alongside the story, as the opinions shared in here are based on class discussions about the topic among the 37 DOI staff members. The staff is composed of students of all grades from a variety of backgrounds and experiences; therefore, the editorial speaks to the publication’s view on a subject and is not representative of each staff member’s exact view on the issue at hand.
he magazine you are holding in your hands or the webpage you are visiting was created by Drops of Ink (DOI), LHS’s student news publication. The DOI team is full of writers, designers, photographers and editors working hard to create each and every story, layout and photo that’s published. The whole staff takes pride in what we create, and we’re happy to do it because our work can serve a vital function in the community. Just like the rest of the journalism world, DOI and its staff members have big questions to grapple with. How do we cover topics in a way that remains unbiased while making sure to report the truth? Is it right to always present both sides of a topic if one side is actively harming a part of the community? How do you protect diversity of opinion while not tolerating intolerance? Can we ensure that the community feels represented by the content we publish, while still maintaining journalistic integrity? These, among others, are questions that DOI is committed to working on and discussing. We aim to answer some of them for you, but not all of the answers are obvious, even to us. Journalism is not a single story or photo but an ongoing process that involves the community. We can, and do, strive to better understand how to represent and serve our community. First and foremost, DOI has a duty to serve the students of Libertyville High School. Students of all races, ethnicities, sexualities and gender identities. Students with different opinions on everything from the best water fountain in the school to the heaviest topics in the national news. This focus on the students inevitably and thankfully allows the publication to serve the teachers as well, informing them about their school and the voices within it. The final link in the community DOI serves is Libertyville itself. The publication’s focus is, and should remain, on the people who attend
and work in the school, but the school community is not complete without the parents, the alumni and the residents of Libertyville, all of whom have a vested interest in LHS. Like all publications, DOI’s most important function is to inform the communities it serves. Providing reliable information on a wide variety of subjects is our primary goal. By writing accurate news, informed opinions and thoroughly reported features, DOI proudly serves an important community function. Sometimes though, the stories aren’t meant to be so serious. Talking about TV, books and burgers gives DOI the opportunity to entertain and provide cultural enrichment. DOI is also privileged enough to have two special roles that other publications might not always get to fulfill. Firstly, DOI is hyperlocal. The publication serves to give the community a voice. DOI is able to uncover voices that the wider community might not have heard otherwise. Sometimes it can feel like DOI isn’t just local; it’s personal. Staff members can see the effects of their work just by walking down the halls of LHS. The people who read DOI aren’t strangers to us; they are friends, teachers, parents: people who are part of our everyday lives. This unique position means that any effect, positive or negative, created by something DOI published impacts the staff members as well as the rest of the community. Secondly, DOI is a student publication. Not only does DOI publish for students, it’s entirely created by students. And just like any good student, the members of DOI are learning. DOI is meant to help teach its staff members -- not just about journalism but about themselves too. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that the people taking the photos and writing the words in this magazine are teenagers with all of the benefits and consequences thereof. For instance, this unique position as a student publication allows
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and compels DOI to proudly share the student perspective. For better or for worse, student voices can be hard to hear, despite how important they are. Members of DOI are in touch with the pulse of student life, and this allows DOI to share some of the most important stories that the wider community might not hear otherwise. Unfortunately, being a student publication also means that there are certain taboos and rules about what can be written. For example, DOI cannot encourage illegal behavior. DOI is lucky that what is published is not subject to review by the administration, but that doesn’t mean that staff members have free reign in what they write. Writing stories that step on people’s toes can be intimidating because staff members still have to be able to interact with the community in a positive way outside of DOI. Still, oftentimes these stories can be some of the most important topics to cover. Creating conversation about issues that people don’t want to talk about or shedding light on a problem nobody knows about is one of the most important things DOI can do. DOI does its best to cover these sensitive stories in a manner that respects all parts of the community, while allowing staff members the opportunity to tell the truth. Although significant backlash is rare, mistakes or issues can arise in such sensitive stories, despite our best efforts. During such incidents, DOI hopes that each concern is addressed in a respectful and constructive manner. Students learn from their mistakes and grow as journalists and as people. However, not everything published that a reader disagrees with is a mistake. If we only published articles that everyone found agreeable, DOI would not be doing its job as a publication. This isn’t to say that there aren’t places where DOI could improve. Staff members recognize a group tendency to try and cover big national news, ignoring the fact that professional news sources already have the topic covered. DOI has the power to tell stories that a national newspaper can’t, and we understand that we aren’t utilizing this power fully. It’s also evident that there can be a tilt to the opinions published by staff members. Staff members admit that, overall, political opinions lean towards the liberal side of the spectrum and that it can seem like conservative voices aren’t welcome. It is unfortunate that there is not a larger conservative voice on staff, but DOI has made and continues to
make efforts to encourage these voices to join the team. All voices are welcome at DOI, and we hope to make further efforts to encourage a diversity of voices on staff. In addition we were unsatisfied with our coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic on a local level, and hope to widen the events we cover in general. We want to widen the conversation to include the people that we are serving. As we strive to share community voices, it’s important we know what the community has to say to us. To help us continue serving our community the best we can, Drops of Ink is inviting your feedback. A survey is being shared with LHS students via their email. The survey can also be accessed by the QR code attached to this article. The feedback from this survey will hopefully improve our organization.
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The Dangers of Cultural Misrepresentation in Media Pavan Acharya
characteristic of these Indian characters is almost always that they s a child, the Disney Channel was my oasis for fun, heartwarmare smart. Ravi in “Jessie” portrays all of these traits to a T. ing shows about kids living odd but extraordinary lives. I adored Ravi is consistently the butt of jokes throughout the entire shows like “The Suite Life on Deck’’ and “Jessie,” whose concepts “Jessie” series. He’s made fun of for being unathletic. He’s bullied and blank humor brought me so much joy as a child. When Disney+ by classmates for his was launched less nerdy nature. Finally, the than two years ago, I show plays off of foreign was ecstatic to show tropes to portray Ravi these two programs in an exotic fashion. For I once loved to my example, throughout the kindergarten-age entirety of the show, Ravi brother. However, has a pet Monitor Lizard as I rewatched these named Mrs. Kipling, which shows, I became he brought to New York more aware of from India. Not only is glaring flaws in these the Monitor Lizard most programs, specifically often found in Southeast in their represenAsia, but the name Mrs. tations of different Kipling is also supposed cultures. to be derivative of RudyIn “The Suite Life ard Kipling, the author of on Deck,” the kids of the infamous poem “The the show travel the White Man’s Burden.” world on a cruise As an Indian-American ship and explore the person, the dangers of different cultures media misrepresentaof the world. This is Ravi, from the Disney show “Jessie,” is a prime example of misrepresentation in children’s metion of my culture, and a fantastic condia. He is an inaccurate portrayal of South Asian culture, perpetuating the racist stereotypes of being nerdy, unathletic, and weak. of all others, is greatly cept, but the show disturbing. Unfortunately, completely fails in inaccurate media portrayals of other people who look like me cause its execution. Instead of providing an authentic interpretation of others to make false judgments about who I am as a person. There the many cultures of the world, “The Suite Life on Deck” instead have even been instances when I have been called “Ravi” as a joke by plays off of stereotypes in order to garner a cheap laugh from others who use it in a demeaning manner. These occurrences drive its audience. The episode “When in Rome...” sees the show’s main home the reality that there are some who will associate me with the characters have to deal with an Italian con-artist family. Meanwhile, stereotypes tied to Ravi. in “The Mommy and the Swami,” Zack and Cody visit a yoga guru on The gravity of the issues of stereotyping and misrepresentation is a mountaintop in India, only to discover that the guru is actually the immense, and requires a multitude of solutions that I cannot possibly leader of a telemarketing scheme. In “Trouble in Tokyo,” the main cover in their entirety in this piece. However, each of the solutions characters taste a fictional shrimp-flavored Japanese soda that to solving this issue requires the cooperation of companies and corquickly becomes a source of disgust. porations that have previously produced harmful content. It is crucial Satire has its place in television, but “The Suite Life on Deck” is not that these companies learn from their mistakes and actively work to satire in any way. Its attempts to paint a picture of our multicultural not replicate them. world fail and instead imprint an inaccurate worldview in the minds The various cultures of the earth are a beautiful expression of of children such as my youngest brother. the best aspects of humanity. Racist portrayals of other cultures in While “Jessie” does a better job of exploring different cultures, programs directed towards children are dangerous. It is critical that it has one glaring culmination of misrepresentation: the Indian we recognize that these problems exist throughout all media and member of the Ross family, Ravi. Throughout film and television, understand these issues harm those with the most innocent minds. Indian people are frequently portrayed as puny, nerdy and weak, and they almost always have a thick accent. However, the one defining
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The Message Behind the Masks Molly Muscato
en fly at heights that would terrify birds, women send buildings crumbling with a flick of their wrist and teenagers scale skyscrapers during their lunch periods. Superhero movies and television shows enchant us with stories of ordinary people gifted with extraordinary abilities, harnessing their powers to save our world from incomprehensible evil. As Marvel continues to dominate the box office and as lesser known franchises such as the “Umbrella Academy’’ creep to the forefront of popular culture, it’s hard to deny that superhero stories have captured the popular imagination in a way that few genres have. But while it’s clear that superheroes such as Iron Man and Wonder Woman are here to stay, these caped crusaders are often short-changed in explanation of their lasting, worldwide appeal. Frequently, the popularity of the superhero genre is pinned on its tendency to whisk us off to a world that, despite intergalactic threats and mass carnage, feels more safe and comforting than our own. In stark opposition to a world rife with war, ideological polarization and moral ambiguity, superhero movies and television shows make it abundantly clear who we are supposed to be rooting for, painting their villains as inarguably immoral regardless of any sympathetic backstory. And the audience can always count on the hero to defeat these paragons of evil within a matter of hours. Admittedly, superhero movies and television shows are a cathartic release for a world far too aware of the fact that lasting change typically unfolds over centuries and that real-world villains tend to hide behind suits instead of melodramatic masks. However, to argue that public fascination with superheroes mounts to little more than a hunger for escapist fantasy underestimates the intelligence of both the genre and its audience. Superhero movies and television shows do provide us with worlds that are in many ways more optimistic and clear-cut versions of our own. However, the true value of the genre is that, at its best, it utilizes these fantastical settings to provide a safe place where the audience can confront both the internal and external struggles plaguing the real world through a lens of hope instead of futility. Marvel’s 2017 blockbuster “Black Panther” wastes no time in demonstrating how the cruelty of turning one’s back on the rest of the world allows for the rise of both physical foes, such as Killmonger, and more intangible challenges in the form of poverty
and prejudice. While such commentary on U.S. foreign policy is hardly original, “Black Panther” ultimately proves its point with moving anecdotal evidence in which the audience is awakened to the unintentional ramifications of isolationism at the same time as T’Challa. More importantly, by placing the story within the futuristic and extremely prosperous nation of Wakanda instead of modern-day America, the film avoids any knee-jerk defensive reaction from its audience surrounding American isolationism. Thus, viewers are left more receptive to the movie’s calls for world unity, convinced that acts of altruism can produce real generational change as they watch T’Challa build an outreach center in Killmonger’s former neighborhood. In the Netflix original “The Umbrella Academy,” secretive time travel organizations and chimpanzee butlers create an atmosphere that is equal parts mesmerizing and mysterious, yet the show pays far more attention to the estrangement of the six superpowered Hargreaves siblings than the minutiae of the apocalypse they are trying to prevent. By eventually revealing the alienation of one of these siblings as the trigger of the end of the world, “The Umbrella Academy” forces its viewers to contend with the vast fallout of familial trauma and conflict in a way that more grounded dramas rarely can. At the same time, the siblings’ commitment to repairing their relationships with each other in the second season provides strong inspiration for viewers that healing is not only possible but essential to saving their own worlds. While not all of the entries in the superhero genre manage to achieve this level of depth, engaging viewers more with costumes than complex messages, films and shows like the ones above deserve far more credit than being labeled as mere escapism. At its best, the superhero genre takes viewers on journeys through cities overrun by artificial intelligence or warring planets and somehow gifts us a slightly more empowered and open-minded lease on life. Perhaps, it is this tendency to wrap up the truth in such an unusual amount of hope, more so than any sprawling battle scene or story telling gimmick, that has won over the superhero genre fans in nearly every corner of the world.
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LHS’S VERY OWN AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR:
KYLIE HUGHES Andrew Brooks
Photos by Katy Zimmerman Photography
merican Ninja Warrior” has become a nationwide phenomenon. The TV show challenges hundreds of people to compete on obstacle courses all around the country that test endurance, speed, grip strength, balance, powerlifting and everything in between. The first Ninja courses built in America were for Americans to try and qualify for the original Japanese version of the TV show. It became so popular that instead of the Ninja courses around the country acting as qualifiers for Japan, they became qualifiers for the new American Ninja Warrior finals in Las Vegas, televised by NBC. The show is now 12 seasons in and Ninja gyms are popping up all around the country to train the next generation of competitors. One of these future Ninjas attends Libertyville High School: freshman Kylie Hughes. “[My interest] began when I started watching the show, which was about four years ago,” Hughes said. “I had seen somebody competing on TV that lived in the Chicago area and also owned a gym. So my sister and I begged our parents to take us there and they finally did one summer. We all had so much fun and started enjoying it as a family.” Hughes trains two days a week at Ultimate Ninjas Libertyville, located off of Route 176, next to Feed My Starving Children. However,
a recent development has allowed her to train more often than that. With her whole family involved in the sport, Hughes’s parents decided to build a Ninja course in their basement. “I usually go down there every day, which is really fun,” she said. “Ninja Warrior is a full-body sport. To train, you have to work on both your lower and upper body strength, get rid of nerves and practice things to challenge yourself.” The importance of a strong community and role models is crucial in a sport like Ninja Warrior. Having her family beside her during the tough training has been important to Hughes. Her mom, Mia Hughes, has been with her every step of the way and seen her grow as a person through the process. “I would say that her confidence has grown tremendously through Ninja,” Mrs. Hughes said. “I think the strength she’s gained from it has helped her in other aspects of her life as well. She’s very hard-working and dedicated. With the way she handles herself on the course, every time she competes I’m always so proud of her.” Also important for Hughes is having a professional role model to aspire to be like. “A [professional] Ninja I really look up to is Barclay Stockett. She is really strong, and she’s been through a lot,” Hughes said. “I look up to
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SPORTS her because she pushes through struggles and still does really well on the show.” In full-body workout competitions like Ninja, there is a wide variety of talents one can gain from training. The flip side of this means there is also a wide variety of skills one must acquire and obstacles that one must master. For this reason, there are certain obstacles on the courses that Hughes sees as personal strengths and others she sees as personal struggles. “I would say that balancing obstacles are my strong suit. However, there are some obstacles with fingertip grips that are really hard,” she said. “One is called Cliffhanger. It’s an obstacle at the Finals of American Ninja Warrior, and you have to hang on tiny ledges with just your fingertips and then you have to swing across and catch the other one.” Certain Ninja obstacles may pose a challenge to Hughes, but she said her Ninja training has helped her dramatically in the other sports she plays. She is a part of the badminton and volleyball teams at LHS, and she believes her level of fitness and the skills she has acquired have improved her performance for the obstacles. “In Ninja, you have to be really fast, and you also have to have a good reaction time,” Hughes said. “Also, in volleyball, you have to jump really high to get the balls, and there’s some jumps in Ninja that you have to do to catch the obstacles. I think that [the training] has helped a lot.” Hughes also competes and shows off her skills. She has been competing in Ninja Warrior competitions for two and a half years along with her younger sister and her parents.
While she’s competed at Ultimate Ninjas in Naperville, Hughes usually trains at Ultimate Ninjas Libertyville, which is right next to Feed My Starving Children. She goes to both in-state and out-of-state competitions.
“When I first started, I had only been training for a month or so, so there wasn’t that much pressure on me,” she said. “But I was really excited to do what the people were doing on the show.” Hughes first began to compete in competitions held by the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association (UNAA). For these competitions, Hughes faced off against other girls within her age group. Eventually, Hughes began to compete at bigger, out-of-state competitions against adults as well as kids. Last year, she took part in and won the UNX Major 1 competition, a professional league where she competed against adults. “I had gone into the qualifiers not expecting much because I was competing against pros and people who have been on the show,” she said. “But I ended up doing really well. I got into the finals and I somehow won. It was amazing.” Her mom added: “To see her as a 13-year-old competing against these adults who’ve been on the show was one of my most proud moments. When she was the first female of the day to hit the buzzer, I was so ecstatic. It was so exciting to see this happen. And then we just had to wait and see if someone was going to complete the course faster than her, and no one did.” One of the professional Ninjas that Hughes beat in this competition was Stockett, the woman she watched on TV and aspired to be like. “The things that she can do out there are amazing,” Mrs. Hughes said. “It was a great experience as a spectator and especially as her mom.” With its ever growing popularity, American Ninja Warrior is becoming a career for many people, whether as competitors or as owners of and trainers at Ninja gyms. Knowing this, and with all of the success she has had at a young age, Hughes is hoping she can keep Ninja as part of her life. “I definitely would want to continue Ninja. It helps you in a lot of aspects of life. It gets you physically in shape and it gets you mentally in shape,” Hughes said. “I think I probably could make a career out of it. I hope to be on the show one day.” Hughes urged anyone to “go visit Ultimate Ninjas if you want to have a fun time and a good, challenging workout.” APRIL 2021 23
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Athletes and Coaches Adapt to Overlapping Sports Schedules Katherine Thomey
s school began in August, numerous sports traditionally played in the fall were pushed indefinitely to the future due to the pandemic. Winter sports seasons were shifted to a virtual setting in late November, and athletes were left without guarantee of any season. Yet on Jan. 27, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) released a comprehensive schedule detailing start and end dates for all high school sports that had not yet had a season. The schedule assigned seasons to all remaining sports between the time the schedule was released and June 12. This shift has resulted in extensive situations of overlap between sports seasons and displays the continued necessity of flexibility among athletic staff and athletes this year. Because of this, the LHS athletic department made the decision to allow student-athletes to play multiple sports at once. This option is not limited to athletes whose seasons were delayed, nor does it prevent students from joining sports they had not previously played. With many sports vying for practice times and competitions squeezed into abbreviated seasons, athletic director John Woods noted the athletic department’s emphasis on students taking responsibility for coordinating conflicts between their sports if they wanted to play multiple sports at once. Rather than leave scheduling up to coaches to figure out, student-athletes were encouraged to formulate a plan describing how they would manage conflicts between their sports and present that plan to the coaches of both sports. This structure, Mr. Woods shared, represents one of the athletic program’s core values: accountability. For junior Evelyn Tarman, the multiple sport allowance came as a surprise but allowed her to participate in bowling and badminton, whose seasons overlapped almost entirely. She worked with her
Coach Sean Ferrell runs drills with the freshman football team during practice.
Junior Evelyn Tarman was a member of both the bowling and badminton teams this year.
coaches on a week-by-week basis to communicate upcoming conflicts and practices she would have to miss. “[My coaches] were mostly flexible with [the conflicts],” Tarman said. “If I was going to my bowling match, my badminton coach would find another partner or another person to fill my spot.” Though most of her competitions occurred on different days, Tarman faced several instances in which she had both badminton and bowling competitions on the same day. “For one of them, I had a Lake Zurich bowling match and then a Barrington badminton match,” she shared. “I decided that my bowling match was more important because Lake Zurich was our strongest competitor in our conference.” Tarman noted that days where these competitions conflicted were stressful, but she felt in control of managing both sports throughout their seasons. She was able to stay on top of her schoolwork by using the time she had during lunch and study hall periods. The opportunity to double on sports allowed senior Andrew Clark to play five sports this year, including two he had always wanted to participate in but was never able to. During the overlap between swim and basketball, he was able to reduce conflicts by attending swim practices that did not coincide with basketball practices or games. “Even though I was on one specific swim team, I practiced with all three levels,” Clark said. “If there was a morning basketball practice, I would go to the night swim practice. If there was a night basketball practice or game, I’d go to the morning swim practice.” As he worked through the beginnings of water polo and track seasons this spring, Clark noted that his role as a water polo team captain led him to choose that sport as his priority sport, meaning
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“My thought process was, ‘I’m going to make this work for the water polo would take precedence over track if a conflict between kids,’” Mr. Ferrell shared. “I think [this year] is kind of an opportunity to the two arose. His track coach approved this arrangement, so Clark showcase things that I say to [my players] like, ‘It’s not what happens, runs track workouts on his own before school. it’s how you respond.’” Similar to Tarman, Clark utilized his lunch period and small He encouraged athletes to play multiple sports and emphasized moments between classes and activities to manage schoolwork, the support he will give to athletes he coaches who are navigating but mentioned a lack of free time and “some short slept nights” as several sports at once this year. results of his crowded schedule. “You can’t ever replace the competition,” he said. “You can’t reHe shared the stress the first week of playing basketball and place the experience of being with your teammates and all that.” swimming brought and his thoughts of, “‘Oh man, I have practice Boys and girls volleyball coach before school, after school, Adam Stuart, who coached both every day,’” but once this was teams at once for a three-week established as the new norm, he period this month, also knew was able to get into a rhythm from the start that he would that limited his stress. continue to work with both Freshman Mia Colton “always teams this year. knew [she] wanted to do “It wasn’t a guarantee that we basketball, volleyball and soccer were going to have our seasons, in high school” but was able to and so I was just excited that add golf to her repertoire as a we’re going to be able to have result of volleyball being pushed both of them,” Mr. Stuart said. out of its usual fall season. While By working with other volleyshe was confident in handling ball coaches, multiple of whom the weeklong overlap between also coach both boys and girls, to basketball and volleyball, Colton coordinate practice times as they expressed the concerns she plan out the seasons’ schedheld about doubling on volleyball ules, he doesn’t expect to have and soccer for over two weeks Freshman Mia Colton had the opportunity to play four sports this year, including golf, to miss practices or games for before deciding to play both basketball, volleyball and soccer. either team. this spring. Combined with a teaching job, Colton’s coaches were “super Mr. Stuart anticipates the three understanding” throughout weeks of overlap to include long the process and shared their days, but he believes planning will support of athletes playing limit the amount of stress that multiple sports at once as long time will cause. as they communicated schedule Through the challenges of conflicts. She noted that if a abbreviated and delayed seasons, conflict between sports comthis year’s option to double on petitions occured, the sport sports has created opportunities that had been in season earlier for athletes to continue their would be prioritized. usual sports despite Covid’s Colton described the initial impact, and even pursue ones days of overlap as hectic but they had previously been unable “once [she] established a system to partake in. While the athletic of when [she] would get things department’s plans for next year done and how long it would are undetermined, Mr. Woods take [her] to do them, it was cited the potential of continuing to allow athletes the choice to pretty easy from then on.” If the opportunity to double on sports play multiple sports, especially for younger students navigating their was offered in the future, she said she would take advantage of that mixed passions. to play both volleyball and golf in a normal season schedule. This option continues to center around “putting the responsibility Student-athletes are not the only ones managing multiple sports back on the student athlete to look at the schedules, both compeat once this year. tition and practices, and then come up with a plan for how it’s going Basketball, football and softball coach Sean Ferrell experienced to work and then present it to the coaches,” he said. “If everybody’s a weeklong overlap between basketball and football seasons and on board, then absolutely, but the one non-negotiable is the coached football and softball at the same time for three weeks this academic component.” month. As a passionate coach, dropping a sport this year due to conflicts between seasons never crossed his mind. APRIL 2021 25
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CONSUMPTION MYTHBUSTERS Lyann Tam
In an age of mass consumption, many try to pick healthier habits and alternatives for themselves and the environment, but it can be hard to know which of these are actually beneficial. In this month’s What’s Trending, we discuss some common myths and misconceptions about some of these habits.
WISHFUL RECYCLING According to an article by American University Radio, recycling just because you think a product might be recyclable or because you want to find a way to recycle everything may be well-intentioned but can actually be more harmful than helpful. Single-stream recycling -throwing all recyclables into one bin without separating them into categories -- has caused increased contamination levels, making it hard for recycling plants to be efficient. Recycling something “just in case” can overload local recycling plants, making it even harder for them to recycle what is actually recyclable. Along with this, China, once the largest buyer of recyclables in the world, has recently started enforcing the “National Sword” policy. This policy prohibits the import of plastic waste, such as recyclables, from the U.S. “National Sword” has left recycling companies and programs in the U.S. struggling, as reported by The Guardian. This is due to the value of recyclables decreasing significantly.
PAPER BAGS Paper bags do offer an eco-friendly alternative because they degrade much faster than plastic. However, they can also increase deforestation and carbon emissions to an extent that petroleum products don’t. According to a study done by the British Environment Agency, paper bags have to be reused at least three times to have a beneficial impact, but plastic bags can have a very similar effect if reused, too.
Milk has commonly been attributed to helping maintain strong bones and muscles, but drinking too much milk has shown to cause an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, and heart disease.
While being able to degrade faster than plastic bags, paper bags can increase deforestation and carbon emissions to an extent that petroleum products don’t.
Milk has become increasingly controversial due to the often inhumane modern methods of mass production. But according to an article from Harvard Medical School, from a strictly nutritional standpoint, milk is neither amazing nor awful. The common myth that you should drink at least one glass of milk per day to maintain strong bones and muscles is not incorrect but is not exactly right either. The main health benefit from milk comes from its high protein and calcium content, which are necessary nutrients to obtain, especially in older age. But as stated by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, drinking an excess of milk has also been shown to cause an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer and heart disease due to high cholesterol. So, bottom line, milk and other dairy products can be useful on a nutritional level but only in moderation.
Organic foods have increased in popularity because farmers do not use any form of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or any other potentially harmful chemicals to grow their produce. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to keep soil healthy, organic farmers switch out crops often and do not over farm on one piece of land. These methods cause organic farming to be considered more sustainable, as they promote biodiversity and prevent soil erosion and contamination due to pesticide runoff. In an article written by the Earth Institute at Columbia University, it is shown that it can sometimes be difficult to determine if organic is really organic -- and therefore beneficial -- because major farming businesses have started to use the term, compromising some of its validity since big farming companies often add sulfur to their soil or farm the same crops on that same piece of land continuously, which can be harmful to farmworkers or biodiversity.
BUYING ECO-FRIENDLY PRODUCTS Buying eco-friendly products is beneficial only if the products are used consistently and continually by consumers. As stated by Business Insider, initially buying them can actually be harmful if they replaced an item that could have been reused in the first place. These products can also end up being a fad, where consumers will buy them in an attempt to help the environment without using them. 26 DROPS OF INK
Environmentally friendly products are only helpful if used consistently and continually by the owners. Buying new products instead of reusing ones you already own can do more harm than good.
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FOOD FIGHT Paige Vang
This crossword puzzle is centered around foods that often polarize people in just a few bites.
3. This food is classically eaten on a sandwich and made of eggs, oil and lemon juice. Its abbreviated name here even shares its name with a famous health clinic! 6. This food is hated by many due to genetic variations on the taste buds that pick up a soapy flavor. It’s also known as Coriander. 7. While many people love cheese, this type is hated by some for its smell and colorful, moldy exterior. 9. Most commonly added onto pizza or made into an oil used for cooking. 10. Loved by ice cream eaters of all ages, many despise this flavor due to its slight toothpaste taste and green color. 12. Most people prefer this food in its condiment or sauce form, most famously made by Heinz and Ragu. 13. A thick, brown food spread that is mostly loved by people who live in Australia. 14. Created by soaking cucumbers in saltwater but could also be made with a base of onions, beets, bell peppers or watermelon rind 15. A saltwater mollusk that sometimes has a pearl inside! 16. A candy most often eaten on Halloween, sometimes in an assorted bag with mini candy pumpkins.
1. Most often enjoyed on pizza or in soup, it’s disliked by many for its odd texture. Some can give psychedelic or hallucinogenic effects. 2. Tart, sliced cabbage that has been fermented and has a ton of health benefits. 4. A candy typically associated with grandmas and those on the dark side, which is often more appreciated in its other flavors of cherry or strawberry. 5. Sometimes enjoyed on pizza, these are small fish that hold a ton of umami flavor. 8. These vegetables resemble a mini cabbage and are named after the capital of Belgium. 11. Often cherished by kids when smothered with peanut butter and raisins to create “ants on a log.”
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