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John F. Kennedy High School

Volume 46, Issue 6

February 22, 2013

Making the journey A look at how three multicultural students made their way to the United States

page 12

the torch





05 Senseless suspension



News 06

Leaving her mark


It’s all about Netflix

18 Potential bacterial outbreak lurks halls

08 Transitioning


Feature Coming to America


John F. Kennedy High School 4545 Wenig Rd. NE Cedar Rapids, IA 52402 Volume 46, Issue 6

Mission Statement




Their take on fashion


Records broken Cover by Tara Mittelberg

The student staff and adviser are committed to producing top quality student publications, applying high standards of writing, editing, and production. These media seek to fairly serve the Kennedy High School faculty, students, and staff showing no favoritism to any particular interest, individual, or group. Final decisions about content are the responsibility of the individual editors, and the Editorial Board.

Non-Discrimination policy

It is the Torch policy not to illegally discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, religion, creed, age (employment only), marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and socioeconomic status (students/program only) in its educational programs and its employment practices.



The Torch publication, website, official social media, and broadcasts serve as a public forum produced by the students in Journalism - Newspaper. Student editors make content decisions consistent with the Torch Editorial Policy, Iowa law and the ethics of journalism.





Letter from the editor When I sat down with my staff members in the last week of January to brain storm ideas for possible stories that appear in this issue, I noticed a trend forming. Here at Kennedy we are surrounded by diversity among our peers and in this issue we have highlighted much of this diversity. From students with unique family backgrounds to those who have created their own fashion style. I am very pleased to see and hear about how many Kennedy students choose to embrace their diversity. If you take the time to just stand still in the overpopulated foyer and observe the people that pass by, it is so easy to see the many different ways the our peers choose to dress, act and talk. I am incredibly proud to be part of the Kennedy community in which many of us embrace being individuals. I fear that our generation gets too caught up in the trends of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or reality TV that we may lose sight of who we are. It shouldn’t matter what Twitter says is the most trending topic to talk about with your friends, what Instagram shows is the most liked style or what reality TV projects to us of what reality should really be in their eyes. When we let others tell us what to do, how to act, and what to wear, we are not being the person that we want to be. Don’t be embarrassed about who you are, embrace who you are and most importantly stop caring about what others think of you. Don’t lose sight about what life is all about. Surround yourself with people and activities that make you happy about your life. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good, wear whatever the heck you want, and do whatever you want to do. Embrace who you are and do what is best for yourself.

Torch Staff: Darcey Altschwager Editor-In-Chief

Mohammad Cheetany Managing Editor Hanna Krivit Photo Editor Tara Mittelberg Feature Editor Spencer Grekoff Business Editor Amy Brause News Editor Alli Nemecek News Editor Steph Mercer Profile Editor Bailey Zaputil Profile Editor Michael Abramson Arts & Entertainment Editor Sam Nordstrom Arts & Entertainment Editor Grace King Health Editor Rachel Langholz Health Editor Norm Althoff Sports Editor Annie Feltes Sports Editor Zack Goodall Copy Editor

Isabel Neff Online Editor Ethan Divis Online Editor Mary Mathis Photographer Hannah Bruns Writer Jason Grobstich Writer Terin Kane Writer Lydia Martin Writer Emma Moss Writer Summer Thompson Writer Xander Riley Writer Maddy Crist Writer Morgan Schwab Writer David Hynek Podcast Jordan Lunsford Podcast Trevor Melsha Podcast Stacy Haynes-Moore Adviser


Stereotyping begins with tension

Tara Mittelberg

On Jan. 23, the Torch staff began brainstorming for the issue you’re holding. We had the usual smattering of story ideas – a basketball wrap-up, teenage alcohol consumption, bikini boot camp – however, one idea seemed to initiate a lot of controversy. The week before, several students were kicked out of Kennedy’s premiere show choir, Happiness Incorporated. Many people were uncertain of the causes and effects of this expulsion, so it was suggested that the Torch staff investigate the issue. At this suggestion, several staff-members exploded. They desperately begged us to avoid the story, saying it would only fuel stereotypes and sabotage the integrity of the nationally acclaimed show choir. They said Torch had no business investigating the issue because it would cause undue harm to all associated with Happiness. This brings up the question, why should

the mistakes of two students jeopardize the reputation of the entire group? Since spring 2011, when several members were kicked out of Happiness for possessing pot brownies, many students make jokes about Happiness, unjustly stereotyping all members of the choir. Some Happiness members were very sensitive about this, which causes a great deal of tension between show choir members and those not involved. Although there shouldn’t be stereotyping in the first place, from what I’ve seen it’s tension and outrage that fuels stigmas. Even though Happiness is “America’s favorite show choir,” the recent expulsion would likely not cause any problems outside of our own school. To avoid stereotyping, we need to address assumptions at our school, starting with the members involved. If group members don’t assume a scandal will result in stereotyping, others will follow suit.

A family of judgments “Oh your brother has autism? I can relate to that.” “Oh your sister is adopted? I can relate to that.” “Oh your parents are gay? I can relate to that.” No you can’t relate to that because not everyone has all of that in their family, but I do. I get judged every day because my family is different. Ever since I was six years old and my mother married my stepmother, my brother and I get judged a lot. I feel that I get judged more than he does though because he has autism and he acts different than everybody else does. I get judged because even though I am younger than he is, I took care of him when we were kids because in his mind he is younger than his actual age. My life has been a struggle - not having my father being a constant in my life, trying not to stress my mother out while she tries to be both mother and father to my


Terin Kane

Terin Kane (left) poses with her parents , brother, and sister. brother and I. I was pushed around a lot and made fun of, I always tried to ignore it but after a while it eats you up inside and you don’t want to tell your parents that they are the reason that you are getting bullied because it just makes them worry and they already have enough to worry about.

In 2007 my baby sister Rhiannon was born. We adopted her when her birth parents couldn’t and didn’t want to keep her. When people first meet her they think that she is my child at first and when I tell them that she is actually my sister they look at me and say “wait aren’t your parents gay, how did they have a baby?” The next question is usually “But why your family? Why couldn’t she get adopted by a family with a mom and a dad?” Because we wanted her. What is wrong with a family that has two mothers adopting a child? This way she would have a big family, thirteen cousins and at least ten aunts and uncles. Just because my parents are gay doesn’t mean that they can’t adopt a child. I am proud of my family and the way that we live, people shouldn’t judge us, we are a happy family.


Letter to the editor: senseless suspension

Landon Crippes I was recently suspended from school following my mindless decision to break the school’s Code of Conduct rule. I was aware of the possible consequence prior to breaking the rule, and I fully accepted the punishment and all it entailed. During the three days I was forced to spend away from school, a question I’d never considered before arose in my mind: in what way is making a student miss school a penalty for their wrongdoings? I had plenty of time to ponder over this, and it seems to me that the effect of school suspension is more harmful than helpful. It seems suspensions are not punishment at all, but rather a hindrance to learning and a vacation from an establishment that most students would rather not be attending. It’s safe to deduce from the sour

attitudes and lack of motivation of most students at my high school that many would agree that sitting through school feels like a punishment. This leaves me wondering why administrators would not force students to be at school and monitor their schoolwork in order to improve their learning rather than impeding it by sending them home for an extended period of time. What’s more is that oftentimes peers, teachers, and parents of the suspended student will place judgment, and use this singular occurrence as a way of defining their view of this child rather than understanding them wholly. I would like to clarify that I’m solely arguing the no school aspect of suspension; for I understand firsthand that there certainly are important aspects of the punishment. A suspension comes with a feeling of embarrassment for the student, which makes them realize that what they have done is wrong and coerces them to accept the consequences of their actions. For the pupils who care about education, suspension serves as a barrier to continued learning and sets them back on schoolwork. Sure, students of this type will be able to catch up, but this sort is the minority of students receiving suspensions. For the common menacing students, suspension

is preferable; it is grounds to be absent from school as they would want to be, and not really a punishment at all. In an article published in TIME magazine entitled “Do ‘Zero Tolerance’ School Discipline Policies Go Too Far?” author Sarah Carr cites Daniel Losen, a senior education law and policy associate for the Civil Rights Project at UCLA in her article who claims, “[Suspension] makes no sense, because students are losing class time. They are often not being supervised. They are not learning anything. No one is teaching them about misbehavior. No one is making sure they are prepared to return to school.” The reasoning behind the time away from school aspect of the suspension punishment is very unclear to me. Does it really help students learn their lesson, or is it in fact worse than the student simply staying in school? I preach from experience that I learned my lesson damn quick and did not need the three-day thinking period. Punishment certainly can be effective in altering behavior when implemented correctly, but vacation away from one’s school education is no act of discipline.

Staff editorial: seventeen great years at Kennedy As the news came in that Dr. Mary Wilcynski would be retiring after this school year students, teachers, and parents were shocked. Wilcynski - who has been working at Kennedy for the past 17 years decided that it would be time to retire and announced it to the staff last week. First, as a Torch staff we’d like to thank Wilcynski for all her help and contributions to the journalism program while she has been here. From the countless interviews we’ve managed to barrage her into to an incredible support system for her time spent helping the journalism program. We cannot thank her enough for the support she has put into our paper and would not be what we are today without

Wilcynski. Wilcynski strives to recognize every student willing to invest time in activities or school. She’s always sure to balance Pep Assemblies with ITED recognitions, Activities assemblies with AP pep-talks. As a staff involved in a diverse range of activities, we’re grateful for Wilcynski’s even coverage of recognition. From the standpoint of each student in the school we’d like to thank Wilcynski for being able to greet each student in the school. The fact that you have memorized each and every one of our names and faces over the past 17 years is incredible. Also from each student, we can all thank Wilcynski for the special amount of atten-

tion she gives each one of us. From being available to talk to any of us for any reason or being at nearly every school event for the past 17 years, Wilcynski has been an incredible support system and has been there for each of us whenever needed. As a Torch staff we were in shock that Wilcynski is retiring. Although we’re happy for her to be moving on to pursue other things, we’ll dearly miss Wilcynski in the halls. Wilcynski has been an incredible contribution to this school for the past 17 years and we feel that she has been a help to the parents, students, staff, and alumni over the past 17 years.

Pages by Darcey Altschwager 5


Leaving her mark After 17 years at Kennedy High School, principal Dr. Mary Wilcynski announces retirement On Sunday February 10 Dr. Mary Wilcynski, Kennedy High School principal, sent a mass email out to all staff members that they were to report to the auditorium Monday after school. Many speculations were floating among staff members but none suspected that Wilcynski would announce her retirement to be for June 2013. Wilcynski has been the principal at Kennedy for the past 17 years. Prior to that she was the principal at Metro High School. She has been working for the Cedar Rapids Community School District since 1975. Wilcynski has decided to retire because she feels that she is at the right age to still pursue other interests. She went back and forth on her decision for many months and decided that the end of this school year was the best time for her to retire. “It was a really hard decision because I do love what I do and I think it is better for you to leave before you should than after you should,” Wilcynski said. She feels that she has the best job in the world and loves working with the staff and students here. Robert Johnson, associate principal, has been working along side Wilcynski for the past four years. Wilcynski announced her retirement to him and the other administrators just one hour before the staff members were told. Robert Johnson, “It was totally associte principal. u n e x p e c t e d ,” Johnson said. He was in shock for a while after the announcement and had difficulty imagining Kennedy without Wilcynski’s leadership. Johnson appreciates that Wil-

cynski is a straight forward person and does not beat around the bush when handling issues. She always puts students first and Johnson hopes that her successor will do the same. Social studies teacher Brian White began working with Wilcynski when they both held positions at Metro High School. He was there when Wilcynski announced that she would be Brian White, leaving Metro to social studies teacher. take the principal position at Kennedy. He experienced the same sense of loss when Wilcynski made the announcement this time to retire from the district. “She is without a doubt the best there is. I mean there is no comparison,” White said. White feels that Wilcynski has built at great culture at Kennedy where all staff and students are proud and happy to be a cougar. He hopes that whoever takes over the position as principal will continue to maintain that sense of pride. Wilcynski will miss working with the staff and students and getting to know them and their stories as well as being a positive part of their life. “The staff here is just really remarkable and that’s what will cause the school to be an outstanding school because it is really about the teachers and what they do with the kids,” Wilcynski said. Darcey Altschwager Dr. Mary Wilcynski, principal, announced to students and staffmembers that she will retire after 17 years at Kennedy. photos by Darcey Altschwager

6 Page By Darcey Altschwager


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Kennedy grad shares journey as transgender male


ilo Palomo is not much different than any other 19-year old-guy. As a Kennedy Alum who graduated last year, he went to Kansas on a soccer scholarship, then later returned to Iowa to study at Kirkwood. He works at Starbucks, where he met his girlfriend, Darcey, who now lives in Florida. He loves snapbacks and Family Guy. His twitter bio is hashtagged with three things: #BucoSoccer, #IowaGuy, and finally: #TransSwag. Because before Milo was Milo, he was born a Hannah. Like approximately 700,000 adults in the US, according to a report by the Williams Institute, Palomo identifies himself as a transgender man. Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose biological sex don’t match or fully describe the gender they associate themselves with. “I guess if I started at the very beginning, when I was a little baby, I’ve always felt weird,” Palomo explained. This feeling amplified in middle school, when he realized he had more guy friends than girl friends, and he started to question his sexual orientation. “I was just attracted to girls,” he said. “So I just labeled myself as a lesbian. And I think to make myself feel better, that’s what I did because I just didn’t have the information [about] how I felt, and I’ve always felt more masculine.” In high school, Palomo came out as a lesbian in his sophomore year, when he still identified as a girl. While never bullied or harassed for it, Palomo lost friends, felt trapped and depressed. “It was more like the elephant in the room, and that just felt awkward almost. People almost avoided you.” But Palomo still expressed a lot of gratitude for the people who were there for him to talk to, mainly the girls’ soccer team, and a few trusted teachers. While his mother accepts him as a lesbian, his father, a soldier overseas in Iraq, did not. While he didn’t have much of a relationship with his father in the first place because of the distance of his job, Palomo still wears a cross necklace, a piece to remind of his dad, who he describes as “very, very Christian.”


Photos and graphics by Bailey Zaputil


“I’m not going to change. I’m going to be the same person.” -Milo Palomo *LGBTQ Terms *Transgender A person who identifies with a gender different than they were biologically born with. Palomo first realized he was a transgender male in January. “I was just online looking on a website and it [dealt] with the LGBTQ community and I was just looking into the transgender thing and it just kind of hit me. It was like, this makes a lot of sense to me,” Palomo said. “Sometimes you just go through things in life and you can’t put a name on it. Until you find something, and then you just do. That’s kind of what happened to me.” Palomo continued to research the idea before he was sure. Following that, he then decided to come out - again. He asked his coworkers at Starbucks to use his preferred name and pronoun, and they did. His friends were also supportive. The people who had been there for him the first time, stuck around for the second. His family, however, wasn’t as accepting. Like 57 percent of all transgender people according to The National Transgender Center for Equality, Palomo was rejected. “It was hard for me to hear from my mom. She said something, kind of like, ‘I’ve feel like I’ve lost a child. You’ve died. And I’m mourning a loss’,” he said. But who Palomo is, inside, isn’t gone. In his own words: “I’m not going to change. I’m going to be the same person.” For Palomo, who suffers top dysphoria (being uncomfortable with your chest), the change will not just be in his social identity, but for his physical identity, too. Palomo, who received his referral in late January, is both excited and nervous to begin the physical transition. For many FTMs, or female-to-male people, the transition comes in steps. Therapy and hormone treatments are common, while mastectomies and hysterectomies are decisions many transgendered males will have to make. Palomo struggles with the medical costs, as few insurance companies cover the process. To have such insurance, Palomo would have to privately pay for it. As Palomo struggles to get a second job to help pay for his education, he will still have to face appalling odds, like the fact that 90 percent of transgender individuals encounter some form of

*Transsexual A person who identifies with a gender different than they were biologically born with, and may seek to live as a member of the opposite sex by undergoing hormone treatment and surgery. *Agender A person who does not identify or conform with any gender at all. *Genderqueer A person with a gender identity that is not either male or female or is in a continuum between the two. *Genderfluid A person whose gender identity naturally shifts between two or more genders. *Trans Man (FTM) A person born female but identifies with the male gender. *Trans Woman (MTF) A person born male but identifies with the female gender. *Bigender A person who identifies as fully female or fully male or any pairs of gender, generally by switching between the two. harassment or mistreatment on the job, according to a report by National Center for Transgender Equality. “It’s scary, I guess,” Palomo said. “But I feel like it’s one of those things where you can’t - if you know it’s what is right - you can’t think about that, necessarily. You just have to focus on yourself.” Still, despite the struggles in the future, he has hope. “I feel that this generation has a completely different mind-set and view about the LGBT community. I feel that it will get better,” Palomo said. Milo Palomo is not much different than any other guy: paving the way for himself, one step at a time. Bailey Zaputil

Pages by bailey zaputil 9

Their take on fashion Torch investigates the style inspiration

for Kennedy’s most fashionable students. All style photos were chosen by the pictured individual. Parker Bennett

On the point. Parker Bennett, sr., describes his style as preppy some days and on other days he picks more street outfits. He likes clothes that fit well and look good.

Photo from Tumblr

Photo from

Fancy. Sammy Lizarraga, so., says he enjoys wearing nice clothes. Photo from


Sammy Lizarraga

Unlike the rest. Erin Coker, jr., describes her style as different. She likes to shop at places that other people don’t normally shop.

Erin Coker

Reid Botkin


Keeping it classy. Reid Botkin, jr., describes his style as simple, he enjoys wearing a lot of solid colors and stripes. When Botkin has the choice, he likes to be classy, he wears jeans instead of sweatpants and a nice shirt instead of a T-shirt.

Aliza Lichty

Edge of Style. “I would describe my style a mix of classic and a little bit of vintage with bohemian and not very trendy and kind of eclectic.” Aliza Lichty, sr., said.

Photo from Orange Coast magazine

Crazy Leggings. Liz Krejci, fr., has no specific style. She just likes to buy things that she really likes.

Photo from Glamour magazine

Instagram Photo of the Month: User:

@gmillz_ Grant Miller, sr. “ Ragin Penguins”

Miller and friends pose for a photo of their indoor soccer team.

Want to be the Instagram photo of the month? Use the hashtag #torchphoto

Photo from

Liz Krejci

pages by hanna krivit 11

Coming to Ameri Feature

Three multicultural students share their journeys

“I had to adjust to the fact that everyone has freedom to have their opinion. In Kenya if you speak out they will take you down.� -Talisha Maina, sr.

12 Pages and graphics by Tara Mittelberg



Ossama Abu-Halawa, sr. Although Ossama Abu-Halawa, sr., was born in the United States, he moved to Jordan when he was three years old. His family lived modestly and supported Abu-Halawa’s grandparents, until moving back to the United States when he was seven. How his parents and grandparents came to live in Jordan, however, is a story of a historical perspective often over-looked in American schools. In the 1940s, Abu-Halawa’s paternal grandparents were olive farmers in Hebron, Palestine. Previously, the British government had begun relocating Jewish families to Palestine, and at first things were relatively peaceful. “[The Palestinians and Jews] used to live together,” Abu-Halawa said. “They babysat each other’s kids.” As the Zionist movement gained momentum, however, turmoil developed. By 1948, with the help of the British government, Jewish soldiers began to violently expel Palestinians from what was now the nation of Israel. Abu-Halawa’s maternal grandparents fled to Jordan, while Israeli soldiers forced his paternal grandparents to a refugee camp in Palestine. It was here that AbuHalawa’s father was born. When his father was six years old, Abu-Halawa’s family was forced to leave Israel altogether, so they fled to a refugee camp in Jordan. Abu-Halawa’s father committed himself to his schoolwork, and eventually came to the United States to attend college and medical school. “He studied really hard and was always first in his class,” Abu-Halawa said of his father. “That’s how he got a scholarship to Emory.” After working for a while in the United States as a cardiologist, Abu-Halawa’s father moved his family - including Ossama and his brother Zayd, jr. - back to Jordan to care for his parents. Although no longer living in a refugee camp, Abu-Halawa said his grandparents lived a life of poverty since their initial displacement in 1948. “Even though they’re Jordanian citizens they’re still really poor,” he said. “They still don’t have much.” Abu-Halawa has dual-citizenship between the United States and Jordan and visits Jordan every two years. Although his American passport would allow him to visit the land that was once his ancestors’ (now in Israel), Abu-Halawa said having an Israeli stamp in his passport would make some Muslim nations deny him access into their borders. “We have to be able to perform pilgrimages for our religion, so it’s a big problem,” he said. Abu-Halawa considers himself more Palestinian than American, but he’s glad for the opportunities in the United States.

Talisha Maina, sr. Talisha Maina’s life was relatively normal: she went to school, did homework, and enjoyed being with friends. When she wasn’t studying, she liked to watch soccer matches and visit various shops near her home. However, two things were a little different about Maina’s life: first, she lived in Kenya and second, her parents didn’t. Before she was born, Maina’s father moved to the United States to pursue an education at. Five months after giving birth to Maina her mother followed. Maina stayed in Kenya to be raised by her grandma. For fourteen years, Maina lived in Nairobi, Kenya and attended elementary and middle school. Maina’s first language was English, which she learned from her grandmother; however, she learned Swahili at school. Maina said Kenyan schools are much stricter than American schools and have a much heavier homework workload. “[Homework was] pretty much all I did for eight years,” she said. Besides occasional phone calls, Maina had no contact with her parents until she was fourteen years old. In 2009, her mother travelled to Kenya to bring Maina back to the United


“Since they make more [money] here than there, it’s more likely that they’ll get better jobs and then they’ll just little-by-little pick themselves up.” -Jessica Barroso, sr.

States; they met for the first time in the Nairobi airport. “I cried,” Maina said. “I thought I wouldn’t because I had spoken to her on the phone. It was really emotional.” Her mother stayed in Nairobi for two months to do paper work and allow Maina to complete important standardized tests. In the fall, Maina and her mother moved to Cedar Rapids. Her grandmother accompanied them as well and stayed with their family for six months to allow Maina to adjust to her new life. For Maina, the best part of moving to Cedar Rapids was finally meeting her father. “I could tell he really wanted to make up for [leaving], but I was OK with it,” Maina said. “I was like, ‘you went to study.’” In November 2009, Maina began ninth grade at Kennedy. “I had to adjust to the fact that everyone has freedom to have their opinion,” she said. “In Kenya if you speak out they will take you down.” Maina hopes to return to Kenya to visit friends and see how Nairobi has changed, but she is glad she came to the United States. “I think it’s fun having to live two cultures, to see two cultures,” she said.

Jessica Barroso’s parents used to live in an agricultural region of central Mexico. Although they earned a small amount of money by working on farms or selling clothes and shoes, it was barely enough to support a family. “Where they were from there was a lot of violence and there weren’t always traffic laws,” Barroso, sr., said. “They had a really really hard lifestyle.” Barroso’s parents moved to Chicago twenty years ago to pursue work and find a better place to raise a family. They knew little English at first, but Barroso’s father eventually learned to read and write and her mother learned to communicate by listening to native speakers. Eight years ago, her father became a U.S. citizen and her mother recently obtained a residence card. Eventually, they moved to Cedar Rapids

Jessica Barroso, sr. seeking a quieter city and a place they could buy a house. At first, there were few Hispanics in the area; however Barroso said the Latino population has risen since they moved here. Many of them are originally from the same area of Mexico. “As soon as more people started coming here, it drew more people,” Barroso explained. “Now it’s kind of hard to go to any store or whatever without being like, ‘Hey, I know you.’” Despite the hardships of building a new life from scratch, Barroso said immigrating to the United States offers hope to many Mexican immigrants. “Since they make more [money] here than there, it’s more likely that they’ll get better jobs and then they’ll just little-by-little pick themselves up,” she said. Tara Mittelberg

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Arts & Entertainment

Over the past five years Netflix, an online movie rental service, has been steering the movie industry in a different direction. Although Netflix aims to provide nothing more than the best user experience, consequences of this on the movie industry have been great. Netflix started an online movie rental service with which one could order DVD’s to be delivered to one’s house. Later, it also grew into a movie and television show streaming service. Netflix was small in the beginning, but has grown into a superpower in the film industry. In January, Netflix reported two million new customers totalling 27 million United States streaming subscribers. Film critic

and blogger, Sean Wu, fr., is an avid Netflix supporter and believes that Netflix is positive for the movie industry. “It’s the way of the future,” Wu said. Due to this service and others that followed suit, the DVD industry has been crippled over the past eight years. In 2006, total revenue from DVD sales was at a steady $10 billion. In 2010, that number was cut in half and has been diving down even further. “I’m not alarmed, but that’s a big amount,” Wu said. Despite these facts some still say Netflix is positive for both the movie industry and the consumer in many ways. Wu has noticed an increase in independent films being created for streaming services

only. “Here in Iowa we tend not to get arthouse films,” Wu explains. “With video on demand features, I’m planning to see a certain movie that will being coming to New York and Los Angeles in April, but it’s coming on demand two weeks early.” Wu also believes that Netflix opens movies and shows to audiences that would otherwise be untouched because of features such as the suggested movies list and streaming home page. “I think Netflix is a really good thing. It can introduce people to movie and TV shows they would have never thought of watching,” Wu said. Michael Abramson

Those who recently watched...

Adria Brown, so., addict for two years. Adria Brown, so., has had Netflix for about two years now, and is “addicted.” During the school week, Brown said she watches it too much, and says she’ll watch about 10 hours a week “depending on if I’m obsessed with a TV show at the time.” On break weeks, she says she watches Netflix “like a job.” Brown’s recent Netflix obsessions include Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf, Greek, Drake and Josh, and That 70’s Show. The longest time frame she spent watching lasted from 10 a.m. until 4 a.m. the next day. Chet Packingham, jr., has been “spending his life” on Netflix for about six months now. On the average school week, Packingham watches from 10-20 hours of Netflix, averaging about two movies a


Chet Packingham, jr., addict for six months.

Bailey Steinke, sr., addict for three years.

night. “I just kind of watch random movies, I watch everything,” he said, specifying the movies in the comedy genre. The most time he spent consecutively on Netflix is 12 hours. Though it doesn’t really have an effect on his social life, Packingham said Netflix definitely takes up his school nights, and on break weeks “it’s an all day thing.” Bailey Steinke, sr., has been using her friend’s Netflix since the beginning of her freshman year. During the school weeks, Steinke enjoys watching Netflix whenever she’s at home doing homework. Though it depends on the day, she tries to watch at least three episodes of some TV show, her current obsession being Prison Break. During her days off of school is when it

becomes an all-day ordeal. “It’s literally when I wake up to when I go to bed,” she said. Some of her most recent obsessions are 30 Rock, Workaholics, season 1 of American Horror Story, and all seasons of Weeds. The longest consecutive time frame she spent on Netflix was with a friend, lasting from 9 a.m. through 10 p.m. Netflix does have a positive impact on her social life, as many of her friends are heavily involved in the school activities she is, and all enjoy Netflix. “When we hang out we’re tired, so we don’t want to go out and do stuff and we don’t have a lot of money,” Steinke said. Jason Grobstich

Arts & Entertainment

Unmatched verbal skills

Speech team sends twenty performance groups to state competition Kennedy’s large group speech, the third best in the state of Iowa, ended their season on Feb. 16 at the All-State Festival in Ames. “We had good days and bad days, but overall we performed well as a team,” Erika Serbousek, jr., said. This year, there are a total of about 85 students who are involved in large group speech. These students did their auditions in November, and they were then placed into specific groups within speech, such as solo mime, group mime, improvisation, ensemble acting, readers’ theatre, choral reading, short film, musical theatre, one act, and radio broadcasting. Students are placed in their groups based on any strengths that may have been evident in their audition, as well as based on which groups are in need of people.

They are also allowed to rank which groups in the southeast district of Iowa, and the they are most interested in participating. third largest in the entire state of Iowa. Although this is not a major influence, it is “It’s a pretty big deal,” Osborn said. taken into consideration. Six of the 10 groups, choral reading, “Of course we want the students to readers’ theater, improvisation, two stick with [speech],” musical theaters and Melissa Osborn, “We had good days and bad an ensemble acting, speech coach, said, received performing days, but overall we per“So if possible we nominations for Allformed well as a team.” want them to be State, and the other four -Erika Serbousek, jr. placed in groups that groups received nonthey’re interested in.” performing nominations. Twenty out of the 23 groups in speech “If you get non-performing, you basically made it to state, and out of those groups, just get the honor of getting to go to All16 of them received Division One ratings, State, but you don’t get to actually show and the other four received Division Two what you do,” Ali Bennett, sr., said. ratings. “The Speech season went very well,” said In addition, 10 of the groups were Osborn. Xander Riley nominated for All-State, which is the largest amount of All-State nominations

Tame Impala first joined together in 2008 and was promptly signed to Modular Recordings. In 2009 they released their first single “Sundown Syndrome” and announced their 2010 debut album Innerspeak. Innerspeak gained positive reception with their hit singles “Solitude Is Bliss” and “Lucidity”. Soon after the band went on a tour including many stops in big cities in the United States. In late 2011 lead vocalist Kevin Parker announced their second studio album, Lonerism. Lonerism was announced in the middle of 2012 and later released on Oct. 5, 2012. Since the release of Lonerism, Tame Impala has gotten incredible critical reception from Lonerism and their debut single “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” became a viral sensation with their music video. Since the release of the album, Tame Impala has announced both an Australian and North American tour in the coming weeks. Tame Impala is also confirmed to

play at Coachella Music Festival in California and Sasquatch Festival in Washington. As a musical group, Tame Impala has gained a lot of attention for their unique nature with their music. Although they’re a modern band, they have a distinct sound that is incredibly nostalgic of the 60’s. Leader singer and guitarist Kevin Parker, has specialized in many different types of electric instruments and likes to experiment with different types of synthesizers and guitar riffs. Tame Impala gets a lot of their inspiration from music of the 60’s and 70’s. They have an incredibly experimental sound and walk a fine line between psychedelic rock and alternative rock. Overall, Tame Impala has received positive critical attention and has made positive contributions with their music. Their nostalgic sound and vivid instrumentation allow them to properly bring back a sound that has long been missed. Mohammad Cheetany

Artist of the Month: Tame Impala

For album reviews and music coverage visit

Lonerism. The cover to Tame Impala’s 2012 album Lonerism. Artist: Tame Impala Genre: Alternative/Psychedelic Rock Hometown: Perth, Australia Hit Songs: Feels Like We Only Go Backwards Solitude is Bliss Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind? Lucidity Elephant Twitter: @tameimpala Sounds like: The 60’s.

Pages by Sam Nordstrom & Michael Abramson 17

Health Health

Graphic by Tara Mittelberg

Potential bacterial outbreak lurks halls


s an acronym it’s pretty have 300 kids that come harmless, but it represents a through the weight room bacteria that can emerge to be every day, and with that much a big problem. From even the traffic, things like MRSA and smallest of cuts or scrapes, it other diseases get spread can be deadly if left untreated. around pretty regularly,” Lewis MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant said. Staphylococcus Aureus, is a Matt Gray, doctor at Iowa form of staph infection that Health Physicians, said that is resistant to most forms MRSA is a problem because of antibiotics which makes only certain types of antibiotics treating it difficult. can treat it, and because Staph infections can be found resistance to those antibiotics. pretty much anywhere. It can “You use too many antibiotics be found on your clothes, on and it creates a resistance, and the floor, on the lockers in the that’s what happened with hall, and on every door. It’s on MRSA,” Gray said. your skin, in your hair, and on “We see it in kids and young your fingers. adults a lot, mainly because Outbreaks “You use too many they’re of MRSA in close antibiotics and it creates a contact in have been a problem resistance, and that’s what schools and b e f o r e . happened with MRSA.” work, and The last -Dr. Matt Gray s p o r t i n g outbreak events, and at Kennedy High School that is another way to share happened three years ago in the germ more quickly or more the weight-room. According to easily,” Gray said head lifting coach Tim Lewis, Lexi Bernstein, sr., was being in close contact with at a church event when she other students and teachers, incurred a rug burn. At the there is a good chance history time it seemed like nothing, will repeat itself. but within a week it turned “It’s only a matter of time into a full-blown case of MRSA. before it happens again. We “When my doctor told me I

Lexi Bernstein, sr. had MRSA I was so scared. In AP Biology, my teacher told me that MRSA was the deadly form of staph, and every day I couldn’t help thinking ‘oh my god, oh my god’,” Bernstein said. Alex Hillyer, sr., had a similar experience with MRSA. “My freshmen year I was diagnosed with MRSA after getting a cut on my knee in football. When I went to the hospital I had to get medication, and I even had to stay overnight in the hospital with an IV to get rid of the infected area that went halfway up my leg,” Hillyer said. MRSA is a scary disease, but even though it is resistant to some antibiotics, it is

18 Page By Grace King & Rachel Langholz

Alex Hillyer, sr. treatable. Most people recover if they get treatment in time as Bernstein and Hillyer did. “The key is timing. If you do see a rash that isn’t improving with the typical lotions or other over the counter meds, do not ignore it, and have it brought to a doctor’s attention,” Gray said. According to Gray, your best chance at avoiding MRSA is to wash your hands, clean any scrapes properly, and disinfect things you use every day. Those are the best ways to combat these skin diseases. David Hynek

Kennedy club helps students exercise their paddle skills

graphic by Michael Abramson


very Thursday after school, kids of all grades gather in the foyer to play, watch, and learn the game of Ping Pong. Ping Pong, also known as table tennis, is similar to the game of tennis except played on a long table with painted lines to represent boundaries. The rules are different than regular tennis, as each server serves twice before switching no matter who gets the point. Also the games are played to 11 points, and players must win by two points. Bill Wilding, fr., has been playing Ping Pong for as long as he can remember. He started playing with his older brother, Jake Wilding [‘12] as a kid. Bill Wilding is currently the Vice-President of Ping Pong Club. Ken Barker, science teacher, took over sponsoring Ping Pong Club two years ago when Jason Cochrane left. Both Wilding and Barker described the game as mentally and physically challenging. “I don’t want people to underestimate [Ping Pong] because it can get fairly difficult to play,” Barker said. “You definitely have to focus and concentrate.” There are different strategies for playing Ping Pong. Barker said the strategies people use differ based on who they’re playing, but he described some being, “There are the types of people who have really good control of the ball with good placement, power players who just hit the ball really hard, and the ones who play defensively and wait for the opponent to screw up.” The way the foyer is set up for Ping Pong is that there are three tables, two on the side hallways and one in the front of the foyer. One of the side courts is an instructional court for beginning players to learn the game, while the other courts are for more competitive playing. Ping Pong club is also hosting Lovely Lane kids after the actual club for an hour to teach them how to play. Although Ping Pong Club doesn’t compete against other schools, Wilding and Michael Abramson, so., competed in the Iowa Games Jan. 27. Wilding got a bronze in 18 and under singles, and the team of Abramson and Wilding got silver in doubles. Isabel Neff


Photo provided by Connie Caviness Record Breakers. The 200 free relay team of Brennan Urbi, fr., Chandler Hiesler, sr., Dylan Casey, sr., and Harrison Moore, sr., stand near the record board in where their names will replace an old record.

Records broken Boys’ swim team sets two school records

The Kennedy Boys’ Swim Team qualified for the state meet in Marshalltown on Feb. 9. The team raced in eight of the eleven events with seven swimmers. The Cougars placed in five events and finished 12th. In the week leading up, preparation was key. “After our original taper we had to just taper down. We started at 5000 yards and then tapered down through out the week,” Andy Hanson, sr., said. The swimmers got up early Saturday morning before the meet to get a warm-up in at Kennedy before heading to Marshalltown. “We had a great season. This was our best district meet in several years and then to qualify for state was a great step forward,” Coach Shawn Thomsen said. The 200 free relay team of Brennan Urbi, fr., and Chandler Hiesler, sr., Dylan Casey, sr., and Harrison Moore, sr., broke a school record with ninth place and a time of 1:28.12 at districts. “It was pretty unexpected because I didn’t know we were that close going into it,” Urbi said. “It was amazing because we have been going for that for the last couple years,” Hiesler said. Hiesler is Co-Athlete of the Year of the Mississippi Division and District Athlete of the Year. Hiesler qualified for 50 free, 100 free, 200 free relay and 400 free relay. He finished seventh in the 50 free relay and 10th in the 100 free relay. The 200 medley relay also broke a 19-year school record with 11th place at state and a time of 1:39.90. The record-breaking team consisted of Hanson, John Richardson, sr., Moore, and Stephan Kitsos, fr. “Originally I told myself I wasn’t going to cry, but I got out and I was yelling so hard that my head started hurting,” Hanson said.” When Harrison touched we saw that we broke [the school record]. I looked over at Stephan and he’s bawling his eyes out and then everyone started hugging me and you know emotions gets to you. It was crazy.” EMMA MOSS AND LYDIA MARTIN

PAGE BY Annie Feltes & Norm Althoff 19

Holiday Inn Express proudly supports the Kennedy Torch “The torch has been passed to a new generation.� - John F. Kennedy

Volume 46, Issue 6

Kennedy Torch, February 2013  

The February 2013 issue of the Kennedy Torch.

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