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Spark Lakota East High School April 15, 2011 $4 Newsstand


parenting a look at the different parenting styles that directly affect students at east...

entertainment: Blue wisp

news: district faces more cuts

sports: athletes go collegiate

14: 20 40 60


April 2011

Volume XIX Issue CXXXVII Simple Six Caught on Camera Five for Fighting Skating in Style Blue Notes, Blue Wisp College in Canada H2H: Planned Parenting



24 The Young and the Parents How East parents have benefitted from raising children at a young age and why a balance between age and parenting is crucial.

Having seven members, the Neidermans face unique difficulties as a larger family such as sharing one bathroom between all of them.

10 16 44 56 60 72

23 28

photo ellen fleetwood

28 One Really Full House Exploring how raising a houseful of children defines parenting styles of several East families and how being responsible for many children enriches parents’ lives. 29 Simply Father and Son How a relationship between a father and his son is influenced by the father’s role as a messenger of God’s word. 31 Arriving at their Castle How adoption has blessed the lives of East students Anita and JR Smalley with opportunities to define their future. 33 Shots at Dinner The reality behind the willingness of parents to put alcohol in the hands of their children within the boundaries of their household. 37 For the Love of their Children Revealing how parents of special needs East students revolutionized parenting styles and loved their children unconditionally.

cover faiz siddiqui Every day, hundreds of students roam the halls of East, coming from all different walks of life. But one thing they all have in common is an indivdual who gives them care­; how students are cared for is what makes them unique. photo sierra whitlock

3 | Spark |

opinion | letters

Dear Spark, When trying to learn the facts of a situation, hearing both sides of the argument is often the best way to decide what to believe for yourself. In each issue, Spark publishes two “Head to Head” articles which are informative and useful because each side of an argument is presented and then supported by fact. This is good because the reader is able to form his or her own ideas. In the article “Roger, Roger,” which was part of the entertainment section, the author makes jabs at Fox News, making points having nothing to do with a factual article. The difference between the two is that the “Head to Head” is opinion and “Roger, Roger” is supposed to be fact based. If writers have opinions, they belong in the appropriate section. Balancing published ideas makes for a more informed reader on any topic, from abortion, to religion, to who has the best sports team. Having more “Head to Head” like articles and less unsubstantiated opinions would benefit readers and provide a good outlet for writers’ opinions. If it’s a news article, keep it a news article, but it is unappealing to the reader to pass opinion as factual based news. —Ryan O’Connor East junior Dear Spark, The importance of coming to school is undoubtedly large. Every day, each teacher prepares a lesson plan that is intended to expand the mental abilities of the students and further their education. In order for students to make the most of their education, it is imperative that they attend school regularly. For every period of school students miss, they essentially miss an entire 48 minute period of education, 48 minutes in which teachers bequeath valuable knowledge upon their students. Needless to say, a student’s poor attendance has an adverse effect on his education and his future.

attendance by a student. My poor attendance record became the subject of much mockery and ridicule, and fellow students and I had begun to lampoon my attendance record. However, in the midst of all this joking and foolery, deep down I knew I had to change. On March 23, I posted a status on Facebook, stating, “I have set a goal to have perfect attendance for the rest of the year. Like this if you don’t think I can do it.” The status received a flood of likes, along with many comments expressing disbelief. However, I have great confidence that I can and will achieve this goal. In the end, I suppose that my experiences of junioritis taught me the importance of coming to school, and it helped me become a better and more mature person. —Dwight Hu, East junior

Got Something To Say?

However, more than anything else, a student’s poor attendance is a disservice to the teachers. Perhaps more so than any other occupation, honorable teachers work for the chief purpose of helping others, dedicating much effort to the betterment of their students, a very honorable thing to do. When students miss school, it shows not only a lack of responsibility, but also a lack of appreciation and gratitude from the student towards the already underappreciated teacher. With all this being said, I must admit that this year I have exhibited such aforementioned sporadic attendance. Sometime during the year, I had a severe lapse in time management skills and school work ethic. As Faiz Siddiqui, chief of Spark, said, I had what seemed to be a case of “junioritis.” This, combined with the seemingly paradoxical grade-chasing mentality that I possess, contributed into creating an incredibly ridiculous manifestation of poor

The Spark, which provides an open forum for students, faculty, subscribers and community members, encourages letters to the editor. Letters can be sent to the publication at the address below or dropped off in the journalism classroom (room 118). Letters must be signed, and the staff reserves the right to edit letters for length, grammar, invasion of privacy, obscenity or potential libel. The opinion editors will contact letter writers for confirmation. Spark c/o Lakota East High School 6840 Lakota Lane Room 118 attn: Opinion Editor Liberty Township, OH 45044 Phone: (513) 759-8615 ext. 15118 Fax: (513) 759-8633 Email:

Spark Notes The March 26, 1999 issue of Spark covered the parental issues at East. Extensive reporting and surveying revealed that parents had overall control of certain aspects of their child’s life. This included the arising issue of parental override in honors classes, specifically Honors English. The issue further explored differing parental

4 | Spark | April 15, 2011

techniques in various cultures. Student, at East whose families had immigrated to the United States had to deal with balancing two different sets of expectations, those from the American society, and those from their parents at home. In many cases, this made life difficult for these East students because of cultural demands and peer pressure.



Mason Hood, Faiz Siddiqui, Ariadne Souroutzidis Editor-in-Chief Sarah Craig Business Manager Justine Chu Copy Manager Sarah Wilkinson Design Manager Jill Bange, Alyssa Davis Managing Editor Victoria Liang Web Manager

from the editor

Sierra Whitlock Photo Director Tyler Kieslich, Christian Roehm, Lucy Stephenson Entertainment Editor Jenn Shafer, Christina Wilkerson Feature Editor Lauren Barker, Hannah Berling Lifestyle Editor Nathan Dibble, Shivang Patel, Nick Tedesco News Editor Tommy Behan, Sean Lewis, Nitya Sreevalsan Opinion Editor Megan Fogel, Victoria Reick-Mitrisin, Katie Szczur Package Editor Devin Casey, Kyle Morrison, Drew Souders Sports Editor Lisa Cai, Jeff Cargill, Ian Castro, Sarah Fanning, Rashma Faroqui, Emily Merrick, Logan Schneider Art Section Editor Eric Muenchen, Sara Patt Photo Section Editor Rachel Podnar Business Associate Brittany Bennett Public Relations Director Devon Lakes Ad Designer Melissa Gomez, Rachel Knock, Jill Stelletell Ashley Wolsefer Public Relations Dean Hume Advisor Spark is a publication that is produced at Lakota East High School. The magazine is completely studentgenerated through the efforts of the Journalism I, Journalism II and Journalism III-Honors classes. The publication material may not always reflect the views of the Lakota Local School District or the publication as a whole. Content is controlled and edited by the staff editors. The staff will publish only legally protected speech adhering to the legal definitions of libel, obscenity and invasions of privacy. The publication is produced every five weeks on recycled paper. Production costs are covered through advertising, subscription sales and fundraisers. Advertising information is available by writing to the address below or at The purpose of Spark is to inform the students, faculty, subscribers and community members of news, information and issues that may influence or affect them. Spark accepts news releases, guest columns and sports information releases. Spark, a Gold Crown, Pacemaker and Gallup winner, is a member of the Ohio Scholastic Media Association, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the Journalism Education Association, Quill and Scroll and a Hall-of-Fame member of the National Scholastic Press Association. Spark c/o Lakota East High School 6840 Lakota Lane Liberty Township, OH 45044 Phone: (513) 759-8615 ext 15118 Fax: (513) 759-8633 Email:


have spent the past 18 years of my life complaining about my parents. When I had straight A’s and I neared an abysmal 93 percent in eighth grade CP Algebra I, I was vehemently chastised to not let my it slip any further. I ended up with a 95 for the quarter, no part due to my parents’ nagging. When I lost my neighbor’s garage door opener while dog-sitting their Korgi, I couldn’t go to the Reds game later that evening. My dad took his friend instead, and not only did the Reds score double digit runs entitling any ticket holder to free wings from the bust haven of Hooters, but a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth pulled Cincinnati to victory. Missing an epic game would somehow translate to me being more responsible with neighbors’ garage openers. And when I came home at 12:01 a.m., breaking my midnight curfew, I was subjected to an hour-long lecture. Result: Next time, I returned a whole 60 seconds earlier, allowing my parents the comfort of knowing I was alive for those 60 seconds. So in short, my parents prevented me from falling victim to a low A, seeing a great baseball game and arriving into the much more wee hours of the morning. But without them, I would not be the stellar ladies’ man that I am, with one three-month relationship in 18 years. Without them, I would not be on-task every waking minute, procrastinating on Calculus until at least two o’ clock in the morning. And without them, I would not have the massive pecs that allow me to bench a stunning half of my body weight. But when both of my parents came to the Liberty Junior School academic awards, Assistant Principal Ken Martin presented me with one for service. “Congratulations buddy,” my dad said as we returned home. He shook my hand, and then, unexpectedly, pulled me into a tight hug. He was crying. I was shocked; my father, who had been hard on me for so long, was crying. The man who made me organize my toys into labeled plastic bins, and the woman who yelled at me for a low A cried for an award I had won. Had I been ungrateful? Did my parents deserve to be treated the way that they were? No. I vowed to improve how I treated my parents, to treat them with deserved respect. And the next day I yelled at my mother for waking me up. I sighed when she reminded me to brush my teeth. I snapped when my father told me to clean my tornado-stricken room. And I scolded my mother when, for the second night in a row, we ate our dinner with the new charcoal-flavored rolls we so loved. But I respect both of them—no matter how little it shows. She takes the time to wake me up everyday, when she could let me oversleep and miss school on a daily basis. She takes the time to make sure I maintain good oral hygiene and keep me cavity-free. He takes the time to make sure I develop good organizational habits. And she takes the time to put a hot meal on the table every night, even when she would rather watch Rachel Ray. This issue, Spark attempted to depict the universal image of the “modern family.” But when all was said and done, it became less about defining the archetypal modern family and more about parents and the unique obstacles they encounter. From homosexual parents to pastor parents, from special needs children to those adopted, Spark strives to show how parents think outside the box to better raise their children. And we found they succeed—as my parents have for the past 18 years. Have they been wrong? Yes. Do I still love them? Yes. And honestly, that’s all that matters. Although I would love for my mother to stop burning the dinner rolls. n

5 | Spark |

news | east news






story nick tedesco | photo sierra whitlock

story christian roehm | photo kyle morrison

At the March 28 Lakota Local School District Board of Education meeting, the Board voted 4-1 to table the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) presented to them by the Lakota Education Association (LEA). This MOU would require teachers like LEA East Head John Severns (above) to teach six periods rather than five, allowing the high schools to keep a seven-period day while still eliminating 14 full-time equivalents (FTEs). Board member Paul Lohr, who motioned to table the proposals, said that the Board needs to do “more work on long term strategy because this proposal will have long term effects.” Members of the community and of the union were visibly dissatisfied with the Board’s decision. “I am extremely disappointed in our delay, and I am sure that the 1,200 members I represent will be also,” said LEA President Sharon Mays. “We made some concessions to make it possible for our students to have the same opportunities that they have now. I feel as though we have left the students and the members in limbo.” Board President Joan Powell cited ulterior motives for tabling the MOUs. . Given Lakota’s current financial situation, Powell said that the reason for tabling the MOU may be related to the ability to legally sign the said contact because districts must be in the black. n

Students gathered in the East gym on March 18 to watch the annual student-staff basketball game. Sophomores with perfect attendance during their OGTs received a free ticket to the game. Juniors and seniors who wanted to attend the game, which took place during seventh period, bought $2 tickets during lunch; the funds directly supported Spark. During the second half of the game, while they were trailing, the students called a timeout. The team sprinted towards the locker rooms as the boys’ basketball team replaced them on the court. With only a few minutes remaining, however, even the most successful boys’ team in school history could not score enough points to overcome the teachers’ lead. The teacher defeated the students 23-12. Both the student players like Ben Slageter (above) and the teachers chosen to play in the game were nominated by East students during their fifth period study hall. East junior Michael Dudley was one of the students nominated to play. “I was surprised [when I found out I was nominated] because I know that I’ve been nominated for homecoming court and Mr. Lakota East, but I didn’t think I was well-known by many people,” said Dudley. “I thought I got my 15 minutes of fame from previous nominations and those had already passed, but I guess [the fame didn’t go away].” n


High School Lakota East n Online Editio

lehsspark .org

6 | Spark | April 15, 2011

Several reductions in class options at the junior high level will occur if the Lakota Local School District Board of Education approves $12 million in the district-wide cuts that were proposed at the Feb. 28 meeting. Specifically, at the junior high level, there would be a reduction of 25.5 staff members and $1,727,819.

news online

story shivang patel

photo sara patt

excerpt from “Junior High Cuts”

Slicing the Swing Staffing and course reductions across the board, threaten the future of East’s highly successful jazz program. story sara rayburn photo sara patt


East’s 8 o’clock jazz band practices for an upcoming concert.

ue to budget cuts, East administration will reduce several of the school’s band options, such as the jazz program, in the 2011-12 school year. There may, however, be new choices implemented for East students who participate in band in high school. East Principal Dr. Keith Kline said that the reductions would be finalized in time for next school year, although he was unable to specify a particular date. Kline explained that the purpose of this cutting method was to avoid losing any given elective area entirely. There will be fewer classes offered, but they will still be varied in subject matter. Scheduling availability would also change to support reductions. Right now Lakota high schools plan to offer jazz band to only juniors and seniors. East administration provided two reasons for this limitation. Upperclassmen are already ahead in obtaining graduation credits. They also have fewer years to fit jazz band into their schedules before graduating. “The variable that is really making [decisions] a challenge is whether [East] will have six periods or seven periods,” said Kline. Regardless of the number of bells in the schedule, East will be eliminating 14 full-time equivalents (FTEs) in teaching staff. Currently, the plan is to cut one instrumental music FTE, leading Kline to suspect that there may not be enough teachers for a jazz band class.

“It’s going to be a very challenging balancing act to figure out what students are asking for and what we have staff to cover,” said Kline. The level of student enrollment determines how East administrators cut. According to East and Lakota West jazz band director Todd Hartman, there are approximately 125 students currently involved in the East jazz bands alone. When East underclassmen are ineligible for the course, Hartman predicts that only 50 to 55 students will be able to participate in jazz during the school day. “There are many important academic, musical, expressive, creative and personal components that are unique to jazz band,” said Hartman. “If the program suffers cuts, I am concerned about the loss of these experiences for students.” Incoming East freshmen Noah Pavuk and Evan Blados, who are currently enrolled in an East jaxx band, are aware of the impact the cuts will have on the jazz program. “I like playing the music. It gives me room to expand on my band skills, and also has social opportunities,” said Pavuk. Blados also enjoyed having an opportunity to play a different style of music. “[Jazz] is fun music that has more life to it,” said Blados. “It would be really sad if such a fun class was cut.” Lakota East Upbeat Club (LEUC)

President Ann Kilyk said that reducing band offerings is detrimental to East’s instrumental music curriculum. LEUC provides support for band students and directors through volunteer efforts, fundrasing and financial assistance. “I am not sure that [LEUC’s] role will change that much if the band programs are cut,” said Kilyk. For instance, Kilyk said families will pay the same amount of money as they previously did for marching band, but instead of band camp at Wright State University it will be held at East. The funds formerly allotted to band camp would be used to fund salaries of directors and busing fees. Additionally, an extracurricular jazz band could provide East underclassmen the opportunity to play jazz. “As with any course, time with students is valuable,” said Hartman. “After-school jazz would allow for time working with students.” Although Hartman does not have specifics about an after-school program because it is in its early stages. Kilyk believed that these programs could preserve long-term student interest and participation in jazz performance by involving students at a younger age instead of having them wait until junior year. “Until everything is decided, it is hard to make exact plans to support people,” said Kilyk. “But there are many parents in the Upbeat Club that are willing to help in any way they can to support the students.” n

excerpt from “Praying for Japan”

excerpt from “Retirement Revision”

There is great power in a body of praying people. While people may have different tongues or customs, beliefs or values, all people have a heart. Tragedy is tragedy, death is death, and no matter the nation or people, heartstrings are tugged. Tears, the words the heart is incapable of expressing, are shed. Prayers, the thoughts the heart is incapable of speaking, are petitioned.

The Lakota Local School District Board of Education passed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the March 14 meeting, allowing Lakota Treasurer Jenni Logan to continue investigating a retirement incentive package for district teachers; the plan is expected to save $30,000 each year per teacher that retires.

story rachel king

story jill bange

opinion online

news online

7 | Spark |

news | east news

radio loses its license Reductions loom in Lakota’s future, and programs face total elimination. WLHS Lakota Local Radio faces such a cut, but it is still uncertain about what will happen to the remnants. story ariadne souroutzidis photos sara patt infographic jordan wheeler


WLHS students Nate Lasley (top right), Chris Sieber (top left), History Vega (bottom right) and Mark Mason (bottom left) spoke at the Rally for Radio at the Board of Education meeting Feb. 28, where many radio students showed up in support of their program.

s the Lakota Local School District moves forward in cutting $12.2 million from its budget to avoid deficit, several programs may be cut. The East administration planned on eliminating the radio program that has been in Lakota since 1977 and replacing it with Digital Media Arts through Butler Tech. The Butler Tech program was approved at the Feb. 14 Board of Education meeting. Digital Media Arts will be run by Joe Flynn, a former Talawanda High School teacher. “Radio was something we were looking at as a possible reduction area to start with. [Because of] the addition of the Butler Tech

program, those enrolled would need to accumulate 415 hours of instruction, which would require students to take the class for one period during the day and have an internship that would take place outside of school. The internship could include activities such as developing the school web page or videotaping concerts. According to WLHS advisor and radio teacher Mark Hattersley, the chances of getting a real internship with a radio station would be extremely rare. “From what I’ve heard, they are trying to incorporate internships. I think it is going to be a hard push because everyone I know in the radio industry, unless you’re in college, won’t accept a student as an intern. It’s just a liability factor, being under 18 years old,” said Hattersley. Although the class will be a two-year program, for the first year that Digital Media Arts will be offered, incoming juniors and seniors will be allowed to sign up for Digital Media Arts I. An introductory class, that would function as a semester overview, may be available for students during their freshman or sophomore year. According to Kline, over 50 students signed up for the program under the assumption that there would only be six

like every time we try to “Ittalkseems to [the administration] their

minds are entirely made up and they have no interest in even carrying on a dialogue with the students. program, we are able to maintain [those skills with] this two-year Digital Media Arts program that is actually going to be more of an integrated approach to the radio,” said East Principal Dr. Keith Kline. “Right now, we [have] radio, photography and audio video as [separate] programs. What Digital [Media] Arts will do for us is to pull all of those [into one course].” In order to complete the Butler Tech

8 | Spark | April 15, 2011

periods, so more students might sign up if Lakota remains at a seven-period day. “In [a] Digital Media Arts year one program, what kind of fundamentals do we need to have kids understand? It could be camera operation. It could be basic radio broadcasting. It could be a lot of the stuff we do in Radio I now. It could be basic web page design,” said Kline. “And then the second year is a different level, a different tier. I expect second-year folks to be doing a lot more broadcasting, whether it is TV broadcasting or radio broadcasting or creating our school webpage. We are still in the process of pulling all those processes together and creating this program. That’s what makes this exciting.” Some students have reservations, however, as to how well Digital Media Arts will cover what radio currently does. “I feel like [they are going to be] teaching about the radio station, instead of operating the station,” said East senior and WLHS Sales Director DaMonte’ Cole. “There is a big difference between the two [classes], and I don’t think [students in radio now] are going to be interested in doing something like that.” For students who are currently in the radio program and wish to join Digital Media Arts if radio is cut, they would be required to start in Digital Media Arts I. Currently, there are about 85 students in the radio program. Despite the fact that Digital Media Arts is supposed to incorporate aspects of radio, not all students currently in radio plan on taking Digital Media Arts I. “I worked really hard to go through

Radio I. That was work. I know how to work everything. I would be a senior next year which would mean I have no chances of taking Digital Media Arts II, which is where you do all the hands-on, fun stuff,” said East junior and Radio II student History Vega, who was disappointed to learn that she would be required to take Digital Media Arts I her senior year despite being in Radio II. “It is kind of like a demotion.” Students in radio gathered at the Feb. 28 Board meeting for the Rally for Radio in an attempt to save the program. The rally was completely student-driven by radio members coming to speak in hopes of convincing Board members to keep the radio program. “I saw it later online and I was really proud of them,” said Hattersley. And I tell the kids at the beginning if you never work in radio, that’s fine. But if you learn communication skills, and if you are able to stand up like they did and talk in front of a room full of adults, that’s when you know we did something.” Although the reduction in staff that would eliminate the program’s teacher has yet to be approved by the Board, radio did not appear as an option for students to choose for the next school year’s schedule. The Board

approved the Butler Tech program, but the elimination of the radio program would not require Board approval. “Lakota is one of the only places I know that does not ask the Board to approve [the Course of Study book],” said Board President Joan Powell. “We will, in effect, be approving the deletion by approving the reduction in force. So whether we totally understood the impact of the approval [for the Butler Tech program], that approval may mean the end of the radio class. It is sad to see this program eliminated as it has been around for a long time. I would have preferred a direct conversation about the program and why the school administration thought that the Butler Tech program would be preferable.” Hattersley and students in the program are also disappointed in the lack of communication regarding the cuts. “It seems like every time we try to talk to [the administration], their minds are entirely made up and they have no interest in even carrying on a dialogue with the students,” said Lakota West senior and Radio III student Chris Sieber. Even with the probable end to the radio program next year, it is unclear what the

License to Communicate

district is going to do with the frequency. The district could keep, sell or rent it. “Our frequency only reaches as far out as Colerain, the beginning parts of Cincinnati and Indian Hill. No one is going to want to rent out that tiny airspace,” said Cole. Even if the district holds onto the frequency and tries to integrate it into the Digital Media Arts program, the station would still need to be maintained year-round. “If you are only going to use this facility for a modular thing, for like half of a quarter or something, then it’s not going to happen,” said Hattersley. “It’s something that needs to be maintained on a daily, if not weekly basis. During the summer, I come out here and maintain it. It has to be on all the time.” If the district were to sell the frequency, then they would not be able to buy it back. “Whether we hold onto that license or not, we are looking at a lot of different options when it comes to radio just like we’re looking at a lot of different option when it comes to everything,” said Kline. “I’m confident that we are going to at least hold onto the Internet side of the business. Those are decisions that we haven’t gotten to yet, nor are we prepared to just yet.” n

Factors for Licensing

Licensing process is done online Costs 1) commercial or amature stations 2) music costs 3) equiptment costs 4) space for radio station 5) operating costs for station Total cost: 6) music licensing cost $100-$100,000 7) publicity/advertising costs

In order to obtain one of the few airway frequencies, one must find the proper paperwork and fees online. *The number of radio licenses are limited because there is not a sufficient amount of available frequencies for everyone to broadcast from their station.

Signaling the Program’s Stats Licensee: Lakota Local School District License issued and granted on: 3/10/2010. License expires on: 10/01/2010 License must be renewed: every two years Lakota has 3 other FCC licenses solely for industrial purposes. Once they are lost, radio licenses are very difficult to obtain again.

Applying for a Radio Frequency

1 Create an account in the Consolidated Database System on the Federal Communications Commistion (FCC) website (www.fcc. gov).

2 To apply for a radio frequency, complete Form 160. You will then receive an FRN number so the FCC can see if you have paid. Complete Form 301 if applying for a commercial radio license. If you want to broadcast yourself, you do not need this license.*

3 Pay the required fee for your application. The amount of the fee will depend on the particular application. The FCC will then contact you to tell you if you are receiving a license.

9 | Spark |

news | east news

Caught on Camera Several security issues revealed glaring flaws in East’s camera system. story and infographic ameera khalid photo eric muenchen


ne class period after East junior Lisa Cai’s bag was stolen out of a classroom, she immediately sought aid from administration. Her $30 purse contained many important items: her social security card, her ID and her debit card, totaling up to about $50 in value. Cai had to reapply for her driver’s license and endure the process of getting another social security card. The thief, who was never caught, proceeded to spend $50 on her debit card before Cai could go the bank and close the account. Although the money was refunded, Cai was frustrated to find that East administration could not identify the thief because the image captured by school cameras were fuzzy beyond a 20-foot radius. “I went to [East Assistant Principal Eric] Bauman,” said Cai. “Basically, he said to find someone walking out of that room with my bag would be very difficult because the cameras are angled a certain way so they only see certain places and are very low quality.” Four cameras are purchased per year for the 22 buildings in the district. With only 41 cameras in East’s extensive two-level building, blind-spots are unavoidable. “It is not feasible to get coverage of the entire school,” said East Assistant Principal Christopher Kloesz. “By law, we’re not allowed to put cameras in bathrooms or locker rooms, where many of the thefts take place.” Aside from these areas, due to the size of East, it would take far too many cameras to gain complete coverage. “Sure I know all the blind spots,” said East junior Andrew Koster. “On the first day of school my friends showed me all the blind spots because that’s where they go smoke.” Other than the placement and coverage of cameras, the administration must also balance budget and safety concerns to find the most

10 | Spark | April 15, 2011

A Pelco black and white camera in a stairwell at East which has a 20foot radius of visibility

efficient security package. While a new building is constructed, the building and grounds department, along with building administrators and the architectural company, puts together a security and safety package. The package details what the building needs in alarms, cameras and badge scanners. Then, according to state law, the team puts out a bid to the public and selects the company offering the lowest price for the specifications they require. “[The] Lakota [Local School District] looks for a certain resolution and a certain number of pixels in cameras to be sure they can see people’s faces,” said Executive Business Director Chris Passarge. “Most of our cameras are stationary; they don’t scan. We want them to be able to see certain areas. Also, I believe only some of the older buildings have black and white [cameras] and we mainly have a mix.” Lakota has a contract with and purchases all its cameras from Cincinnati Alarm Systems, Inc. Whenever East administrators want to install new cameras, they consult the company to find out what type of camera would be best. “Cameras are placed at two separate times, building opening and building addition,” said Passarge. “When the building was constructed, the cost-effective technology available at the time dictated the type of camera system installed at each facility.” All the original cameras installed at the opening of East were Pelco Black & White cameras, which are black and white. Any additional cameras are Bosch Color cameras. According to Passarge, these cameras can cost anywhere from $600 to $1,000. Running a cable from the camera to a recorder adds $1.25 to $2.50 per foot to the cost. Should a signal booster be required, the

cost runs between $75 to $125. According to Kloesz, the few times a camera malfunctions per year, a maintenance man from Cincinnati Alarm Systems, Inc. is paid to come out and fix the problem. The maintenance calls generally start at around $75 per hour but can be adjusted for the severity of the problem. Additional costs also incur when cameras need to be replaced or added. The costs involved in the addition and upkeep of cameras impact whether Lakota administrators decide to install new cameras or not and what type of cameras to get. As funds grow short, the district may not be able to afford new cameras. The latest wing with G and H, the newest locker bays, was added to East in the fall of 2007 and they were built with three and two cameras, respectively, while all the other locker bays only have one. “Cameras are placed depending on traffic and need. If there are multiple cameras placed in one specific area, they are there because each is focused [in] a different direction,” said East Principal Dr. Keith Kline. Administrators decide to put cameras where students are most likely to cause trouble. Kloesz said that these areas include locker bays, staircases and along Main Street. The camera in front of locker bay B, however, did not catch the thief who stole East junior Myles Calia’s $300 iPod. When Calia went to East administration two hours later, he was told the film had already been erased. However, Kline said that all our cameras are digital. Similarly, when East senior Adam Faubry’s art project was stolen and allegedly passed through several hands and mutilated, none of the cameras were able to reveal anything. “It’s really not the school’s fault,” said Cai, “but I wish they could do more.” n

Scoping out the School Surveillance systems serve the East staff and students by securing the school’s safety.

Visible light passes through the infrared (IR) blocking filter. The IR electromagnietic waves are blocked, leaving a crisper image similar to what the human eye can see.

Shedding Light on Lenses Light hits the lens and travels to the CCD sensor where it is turned into an electrical current.

Visible light passes through the RGB filter, which separates it into red, green and blue components. A colorblind sensor converts the waves into an electrical signal.

Choosing a Camera These factors in selecting a particular camera model helped East administrators choose the Pelco Black & White and Bosch Color cameras when the building was constructed. - Available technology: Depending on the particular needs, older technology may prove more effective than the latest model. - Black and white versus color: Color creates a more definitive picture, but black and white is best for dimly lit settings. - Placement: The further the camera is from its recorder, the more the camera will cost.

The electrical signal is transported to a display screen and recorder, either wirelessly or through a cable.


in-school thefts were reported nationwide from students ages 12 to 18.* *according to the National Center for Education Statistics

Cameras: Taking the Floor LOWER FLOOR


EAST FLOOR PLAN KEY Pelco black and white cameras: Bosch color cameras: and Radius of highest resolution: Areas that can be seen: information chris passarge

11 | Spark |

news | district news

East junior Ashley Fazenbaker gives a presentation on Down Syndrome in Teacher’s Academy, one of East’s Butler Tech courses.




photos sierra whitlock | infographic michael tedesco

The Lakota Local School District’s upcoming budget cuts will eliminate some East courses and replace others with Butler Tech classes, as administrators battle to master the schedule.

Six-Period Dilemma


s a result of the Lakota Local School District’s financial crisis, East and Lakota West students were instructed to register for six periods, as opposed to seven, from a condensed list of classes for the 2011-12 school year. The reduction in course offerings would cut 14 full-time equivalents (FTEs) and save the district nearly $2 million. “If we go back to a six-period day, the teachers will be teaching [a greater] percentage of the day, so we don’t need as many teachers,” said Lakota Board of Education President Joan Powell. Although the six-period day has not been officially approved by the Board, the Lakota high schools only allowed students to choose six classes in the registration process. “I don’t know when the Board will vote [on the six-period day],” said Powell. “However, the Board has tentatively given administration the go-ahead.” East Principal Dr. Keith Kline emphasized the importance of alternative courses should the Board vote to keep a seven-period day.

12 | Spark | April 15, 2011

“We are going to really hit hard for students to take those alternate courses very seriously, because if for some reason we end up on a seven-period day, we’re going to take the first alternative and add it to students’ schedules,” said Kline. Seven periods would be available next school year if the Board approves the Memorandum of Understanding, an official agreement allowing for changes to teacher contracts. This will increase the high school teachers’ workload by one class at the loss of teachers’ duty periods for no increase in pay. “We can no longer afford to have a class of just 10 or 11 students,” said Lakota Interim Superintendent Ron Spurlock. “So if we get in that situation, we may have to eliminate some of those classes and move the students to other courses.” According to Kline, classes that have had historically low enrollment and classes that were estimated to have low enrollment due to the switch to six periods have been pulled out of the East class catalogue. Other classes might be available for students to enroll in, but that will depend on how many students actually do enroll.

“[Enrollment-dependent classes are] really nothing new; we do that every year,” said Kline. “We’re hypersensitive to it next year because resources are going to be tight.” In order to decide which classes will not be offered in the 2011-12 school year, Kline and the other administrators considered the recommendations of the department chairs. East Social Studies Department Chair Tom Prohaska agreed with Kline that enrollment was an important factor in deciding which classes to offer. He added that another factor in the decision process was whether or not the material in one class overlapped with another. “[As government or history teachers], we are touching on current events throughout the year, so [the current events class] could go to the wayside knowing that we should be doing it in class,” said Prohaska. East junior Natalie Paul’s options were limited by the cuts because the classes she wanted to take her senior year will not be offered in 2011-12. “Business, history and investing classes were the ones I was interested in. Now they are gone, so I have to take meaningless classes like cooking just to get credit,” she said.

Even though the course reductions affected her senior schedule, Paul thinks the cuts hit underclassmen hardest. Kline agrees. “The most heartbreaking thing about all of this is that we are losing opportunities for students, and that’s not why I got into this business,” said Kline. “I got into this business to give kids opportunities to find out what they like so they can pursue that as an adult. My job is to find ways to offer as many of those opportunities as possible with the limited resources that we have.” Kline’s aspirations to limit the negative impact on sudents and the community directly affected by the cuts led to consultations at community information nights before decisions were made regarding the limited course options. “The first thing we did was to figure out what our parents thought. We wanted to know what our students thought. We wanted to find what courses they were going to take. If we look at enrollment and classes taken, that gives us an indication as to what the parents and students want,” said Spurlock. “The other side we took was graduation requirements.

We took that info and shared it with our leadership teams.” Spurlock encouraged sharing information in the decision-making process as the district prepares for the changes brought by the financial crisis. “The first day I found out I was going to be interim superintendent, I called our association presidents and said, ‘Gang, this reductions proposal cannot be administrative driven,’” he said. “We’ve got to do this together.”—Reb Vachon

Building Butler Tech


ith the start of the 2011-12 school year, the current sports medicine and radio classes will not be offered. They will be replaced and consolidated into Sports Medicine and Exercise Science and Digital Media Arts. Both two-year programs will be offered at East through Butler Tech and will include an outside internship component. The new classes will be similar to Teacher’s Academy,

which was instated at East years ago. These classes come at minimal cost to Lakota, in a time when cost is paramount. Sports Medicine and Exercise Science, along with Digital Media Arts, will add two Butler Tech-employed teachers to East. Lakota West will also receive a new course, International Business, through Butler Tech, which will add a teacher to the school. Sports Medicine and Exercise Science and Digital Media Arts will become two of more than 190 satellite programs that Butler Tech offers throughout 10 associate districts. Digital Media Arts will encompass Radio, Still Photography and Broadcasting classes at East. “Internships are an opportunity to give students first-hand experiences, outside of the classroom,” said Kline. “It might be something like creating a video for East’s website, or videotaping a sports teams games.” According to Kline, these programs have been in development for one and a half years. “Last year, we talked to Butler Tech about how they could provide for us staff and extra programs,” said Kline. “Their new

The Science of Cuts 120

Because of budget cuts, the administration is deciding which classes to eliminate based on factors such as current and expected enrollment numbers. Each bar represents the number of students currently enrolled in the specified classes.



116 students



66 students


29 students



19 students

11 students


Honors Zoology

Creative Writing

AP Statistics

Legal Studies

3-D Art

AP Spanish 13 | Spark |

news | district news superintendent wanted to follow through with the plan, so we started this year by touring the existing programs.” When deciding what classes to cut, Kline said that he considered historical enrollment and whether or not the class meets graduation requirements. Sports Medicine was moved to Butler Tech because, while it fulfills no graduation requirements, many students enroll in the class. Currently, there are five sections of Sports Medicine, at East, making it likely that the Butler Tech class will have high enrollment. According to Butler Tech’s Vice President of Secondary Education Laura Sage, Butler Tech has similar criteria for deciding what programs to offer. Butler Tech utilizes the Ohio Kuder Career Assessment results from the school it is going to work with in conjunction with the Southwest Ohio Employment Projections to determine what classes to develop for home schools. “There are Kuder results per student, but also per school,” said Sage. “Butler Tech looked at those results from East and Lakota West to see what classes would be

“Not only do we have textbooks, but also machines and whatnot for students to work with,” Sage said. “For example, in our health field, we have mannequins and equipment because the students are learning skills like how to take blood. Also, our textbooks are college textbooks, which are very expensive.” Board member Lynda O’Connor serves on both the Lakota Board of Education and the Butler Tech Board of Education. She says that both districts have dedication, energy and passion for quality education, and that both Boards and staff members put forward on behalf of students. “Butler Tech is a terrific partner with Lakota and helps provide additional and much needed opportunities for Lakota students,” she said. Board President Joan Powell agreed. She said that in the past, there has been resistance to Butler Tech programs because administrators did not know if such programs would interest students, but now Lakota is exploring its options with them. According to Powell, attending classes at the D. Russel Lee Butler Tech campus might not be for everyone, because students typically like to stay on campus. But at the same time, students value career exploration and hands-on classes. Offering Butler Tech programs at East is the best of both worlds, as students can have the real-world experience and stay at their home school. Butler Tech Curriculum Director Abbie Cook is glad to be able to provide multiple opportunities to students outside of the Butler Tech campus. “Education is changing and [Butler Tech and public schools] need to work together to find efficiencies in providing exceptional services and learning experiences for all of our students,” she said. —Rachel Podnar

are an opportunity to “Internships give students first-hand experiences outside of the classroom. ” of high interest. Then we compare it to the employment projections, which extend up until 2016. Both have to show high levels for us to even consider offering a program.” Butler Tech is able to provide programs like these at its member schools because it is funded differently than traditional districts like Lakota. Under the current Ohio school funding model, which may change soon due to legislation, each Full Time Equivalent (FTE) has $5,732 of funding. An FTE can be divided between different schools, depending on how each student attends class. A full-time East student allots East one FTE. If that same student splits their school day between East and D. Russel Lee Butler Tech campus, Butler Tech receives half the FTE and East the other half. In addition to FTEs, Butler Tech receives additional funding because it is a careertechnical school. This practice of awarding tech schools more funds began roughly 35 years ago, when the Ohio Gov. Jim Rhodes decided to fund vocational schools. Today, Butler Tech is granted an extra 28 percent of an FTE, equivalent to $1,604 for each student it enrolls, in addition to an extra $1,100 to $1,200 for extra busing or electricity costs. Sage said that Butler Tech receives this extra funding because it costs more to fund a career-technical education.

14 | Spark | April 15, 2011

Elementary students are at risk of losing various art specials due to proposed district-wide budget cuts.

Elementary Cuts


ot only are cuts impacting the Lakota high schools, but the foundations of band, art and gifted programs are also facing reductions at the elementary school level. As of press time, the music programs at the elementary schools face proposed cuts of 20 minutes from instructional time. Additionally, many music teachers, such as Woodland music teacher Alan Greeb, are expected to be let go if the Board approves the reductions. “I will not be able to return to Woodland as the music teacher, and I am almost certain that I will lose my job in Lakota,” said Greeb. “I have an English certification, but it may not help. I have found Lakota and Woodland to be a wonderful place to be, a second home. I will miss it.” According to Freedom Elementary guidance counselor Kathie Baxter, there will be a 40 percent time cut in the specials from prior years. As a former Lakota parent, Baxter believed students should have a well-rounded education and the proposed cuts are “lost opportunities.” Such opportunities include the possible elimination of gifted education at the third grade level, shortened specials time, a single media specialist for 14 schools, less classroom aides and loss of technological use at certain schools. After losing Greek mythology from her curriculum, Independence Elementary teacher Annie Ritz would also be a traveling teacher, doing, “a little bit at two schools instead of a lot at one school.” Woodland Elementary fifth grade teacher Christina Butler is concerned about her students, admitting the loss of aides and increased class sizes would greatly affect her. “I’m worried about less individualized help [for students],” she said.—Erin Grasty


Cd demos due April 15 --no profanity --CD Format only --no late entries

feature | student feature

FIVE FOR FIGHTING While most seniors look forward to college after graduation, four East seniors and one East alumnus have chosen to stray from the beaten path and make the military their futures. story joey armentrout | illustrations mandi ellsworth


arn your stripes.” From helping a young boy become an Eagle Scout to, advertising Tony the Tiger’s signature cereal, the phrase is recognizable and always unified by one factor: commitment. Commitment to a task, goal or meaningful purpose in order to accomplish something significant. Some East students, however, are elevating the phrase to new heights, and are willing to put everything on the line for their country and the people they strive to protect. “Count out your numbers loud and strong: Two, three, four, hut, two, three!” East senior Carolyn Pitman’s decision to join the United States Army did not come until summer 2010. Pitman was contacted by West Point tennis coach Col. Paul Peck, who recruited Pitman to join the United States Military Academy. During the tennis season, Pitman visited the academy and was convinced that West Point was right for her. “It’s the education, the leadership and just being patriotic,” says Pitman. Joining the academy on a tennis scholarship, Pitman will be redshirted during her first year, meaning that she will not immediately compete with the team, but will still develop her skills. To Pitman, her passion to join the military has deep roots in serving others and making herself a better person. Pitman is interested in joining relief efforts to help after natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods and other cataclysmic events. “The military teaches you how to be a leader. It teaches you to be responsible. You can’t lie. You can’t cheat,” says a confident Pitman. “It teaches you to have integrity.” With these merits, Pitman is convinced that a path through the military will ultimately lead her to success. “The only person standing in your way to success is yourself,” says Pitman. “We live in fame or go down in flame/ For nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force!” Representing East in the United States Air Force is senior Devin Harrison. Harrison spoke to Staff Sgt. Ryan Dewey in Sept. 2010 about joining the force and explored the options the Air Force provided, visiting a military interest

16 | Spark | April 15, 2011

processing station in Columbus, OH. Assured that the Air Force was right up her alley, Harrison enlisted and was sworn in on Jan. 19. The Air Force will enable Harrison to continue doing what she has done all her life—help people. “I want to have the opportunity to fight for people who have not had the same opportunities I have had,” says Harrison. “I’ve always had the desire to help people. Joining the Air Force is the perfect marriage for me.” Harrison has been serving the community all of her life and currently volunteers through Matthew 25: Ministries. Working in a soup kitchen since the sixth grade, Harrison has always thought of others before herself. “I learned respect. It’s a humbling experience to be around those who really need help. I feel like we, as teenagers, don’t always recognize the depth of the poverty and how [the poor] sometimes aren’t bad people,” says Harrison. “They are people who need aid. I feel like it’s urgent for us to realize that.” Now she must face the task of being in the United States Military. It is a challenge Harrison is willing to undertake. “I’m ready to take on a life-long commitment of service for my country,” says Harrison. “The Air Force will give me an even greater sense of patriotism and camaraderie [with those serving alongside me].” Harrison says that she is interested in aircraft electronics systems and other intelligence-based Air Force career opportunities. While these fields are not necessarily combat-related, they can still pose a potential danger. Harrison is not too concerned, however, despite the fact that she has enlisted at a dangerous and turbulent time. “I have a much higher likelihood of dying in a car accident driving to college than being killed in the Air Force if I go into intelligence,” says Harrison. “I don’t really see much of a danger.” “We’re always ready for the call/We place our trust in Thee/Through howling gale and shot and shell/To win our victory!” Though the Coast Guard is the smallest branch of the military, it has also had success recruiting at East. East alumnus Evan Gallant discovered his interest during his junior year at

The painted illustrations of East senior Carolyn Pitman (above), East senior Devin Harrison (below), East alumnus Evan Gallant (top right), East senior Tyler Hollenkamp (middle right) and East senior Alex Monson (bottom right) show them in uniform.

an armed forces recreation meeting. Though he originally had no intention of joining, the Coast Guard presentation appealed to him because of the vast number of opportunities that the Coast Guard provides. After further research, Gallant decided the Coast Guard was a good avenue to pursue, with its heavy involvement in humanitarian missions and homeland security. “I want to have an opportunity to give back,” says Gallant. “I’m really looking forward to serving my country.” Gallant registered with the Delayed Entry Program, which essentially allows him to delay his Coast Guard training for one year. This delay provides possible candidates time to think about their Coast Guard options, coordinate their training with the limited space and organize future plans. Even though he is taking the time to plan out his future, Gallant says that he is dedicated to the Coast Guard and its mission. He already knows the meaning of commitment, having undergone the rigorous and time-consuming process of becoming an Eagle Scout. To Gallant, becoming a member of the Coast Guard will introduce a new set of challenges to overcome. With obstacles come personal changes. “The Coast Guard will give me insight into new values and a greater sense of respect, while reinforcing the values I already have,” says Gallant. “It is going to give me a broader scope of knowledge of the world. It’s going to help me become a better person.” “We fight our country’s battles/In the air, on land, and sea/First to fight for right and freedom/And to keep our honor clean.” For East senior Tyler Hollenkamp, joining the Marines is much more than a way to get recognition. It is a complete change of lifestyle, a change from “civilian to government property,” as Hollenkamp puts it. Hollenkamp’s interest in the Marines never had a true beginning. He watched many of his friends join the armed services and the idea of joining turned into a serious consideration for him. “Growing up, I’ve looked at the world differently,” says Hollenkamp. “I want to make a difference. As a marine, I’m going to be able to change people’s lives.” Hollenkamp plans to study to become a mechanic, fixing military Hummers and other military vehicles. Boot camp, where Tyler says the physical and mental impact of joining the Marines will really set in, is scheduled to begin on Sept. 5, 2011. “They are going to drill and force respect into you,” says Hollenkamp. “You get respect and earn respect at the same time. It becomes a part of your lifestyle, along with self-confidence, leadership and a sense of belonging.” With this mentality, Hollenkamp believes that he can contribute himself to a greater cause. “I wanted to do what I thought was right

and become part of something bigger than just myself,” says Hollenkamp. “You know the saying ‘The Few. The Proud. The Marines’? I want to be a part of that few.” “Anchors aweigh, my boys!/Anchors aweigh!” East senior Alex Monson also has aspirations to join the armed forces, and more specifically, the Navy Seals. Protective instincts, a rush for adrenaline and a desire to test his limits propel Alex’s ambitions. “I feel a strong need to protect people and I expect to be challenged in every aspect of my life,” says Monson. “The Navy will teach me to respect authority and develop leadership and responsibility.” Alex’s father Paul Monson believes committing to the Navy will be a difficult task, but one for which Alex is more than prepared. “It is something you have to make a

I wanted to do what I thought was right and become part of something bigger than just myself.

commitment to. There’s no backing out once you’re in. Alex has a really good head on his shoulders,” says Paul. “He handles people and all danger very well. Parents have the natural tendency to worry about their children, but Paul says that hazards are present in any situation. “Yes, I worry,” says Paul. “But there is danger in every aspect of life. Every time I drive down the highway there is a risk.” Alex says he will continue to serve his country after his time with the Navy, possibly with the CIA or other military and homeland security agencies. Despite the clear danger and hardship involved in joining the United States military, these students all made the decision to enlist, not only for glory. It was not so they could pay for college. It was not even for the recognition. It was so they could continue doing what they already believe in: serving others. And in making this sacrifice, these students have earned their stripes. n

17 | Spark |

feature | student feature

Giving up the Gun story reb vachon | photo sierra whitlock | infographic ian castro

East senior Jason Miller has returned to school to turn his life around after associating with a gang.

After a string of illicit activities, including bringing a gun to school and joining a the Latin Kings, East senior Jason Miller has reformed his ways.


t is a truly impressive piece of equipment. Sleek, smooth and efficient, the Glock 18 C can shoot 32 rounds per minute, making it one of the more dangerous weapons on the market. This deadly gun was the same one that East senior Jason Miller owned during his tenure as a gang member. Miller first got involved with the Latin Kings, arguably the largest and most organized Hispanic street gang in America, after going to jail for possession of a firearm on school grounds. “I got two months [in jail] for possession of a firearm, even though it was only an airsoft gun,” says Miller, who was attending Princeton Middle School at the time. “[Then I had] probation and house arrest. Then I joined a gang.” During his time in jail, Miller was exposed to more violence and negative influences. “The first day I got there, there was a lot of racism,” he says. “I got into a fight on the first day and ended up being in there for two months instead of 14 days.” His time spent in jail for having an airsoft gun on school property eventually provided

him with a real gun through his involvement with the gang. “The first time I got a gun was in the gang. They just gave it to me,” he explains. “I don’t know where [the gun] came from.” According to Special Agent Kimberly Riddell, who works with the Bureau of Alcohol,

because of shootings, according to National School Safety and Security Services. While Miller does not know the origin of his firearm, Riddell says there are only three ways a juvenile can illegally acquire a handgun: straw purchasing, theft or an illegal purchase. “A straw purchase is a transaction wherein a person that is lawfully able to obtain a firearm purchases one for someone that is prohibited from purchasing a gun,” says Riddell. “[The straw purchaser] claims it is for their use when in fact it is really intended for another individual.” A straw purchaser is most commonly a friend of the juvenile, although straw purchasers can also be a relative, a significant other, a member of the same gang or a paid purchaser, according to an ATF report. That method of obtaining illegal weapons can mean trouble for all who are involved. “Straw purchasing is against federal law, and both the straw purchaser and the prohibited person could be charged with a federal crime,” says Riddell. While Miller was never caught having a real gun, he did come close to getting in trouble

I got two months [in jail] for possession of a firearm, even though it was only an airsoft gun.

18 | Spark | April 15, 2011

Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess, sell or transfer a handgun or ammunition. But many teenagers do it anyway, including Miller. In a 2000 ATF report called Following the Gun, teenagers were involved in 42 percent of ATF investigations in a two-year period. In the 2009-10 school year, there were 82 incidents of school related violence. Seven people died

with the law again when riding in the car with some other gang members. “Once we were pulled over, [and there were guns in the car], but the driver was over 18 and had a concealed carry [permit], so we just said that they were his,” he says. Miller’s experiences with the Latin Kings also brought him close to seriously injuring others and being wounded himself. As part of his involvement in the gang, Miller was expected to shoot at rival gang members. “I have shot at people and I’ve been shot at, but I’ve never killed anybody,” he says. “Whenever we had to shoot at someone though, I would usually try to just shoot at the sidewalk.” Though the Latin Kings is one of the most notorious gangs in Los Angeles, CA, there are smaller groups spread across the nation. Miller was also a victim of gunfire after doing “gang-related activities.” “I was shot at twice after I moved this guy’s car and he wasn’t really happy about it,” he says. “I had to go to the hospital, and they removed two particles out of my hip.” Miller no longer has his Glock 18 C, but there are many teenagers out there like him who often obtain and use guns, both legally and illegally.

East senior Brian Tuck, who goes target shooting regularly, is one teenager who uses firearms for recreational purposes. “It is fun just to see how many times I can hit a bull’s-eye,” he says. Tuck was first introduced to the world of guns when his dad, a former cop, took him target shooting when he was eight years old as a way to bond. From that day forward, Tuck has always known how to use a gun safely because of his dad’s careful instruction. “Always treat a gun like it’s loaded,” he explains. “As long as you are safe with [the gun], there is nothing to worry about.” East junior Evan Smith, who likes to hunt, also takes safety precautions whenever he handles a firearm, such as always wearing eye and ear protection. “I always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction away from anyone nearby when the gun is loaded or unloaded,” says Smith. “I strongly discourage horseplay when I am with my friends when we all go out shooting.”. He started hunting at age 13, although he has been around guns all his life and enjoys the recreation. “I especially like the perks of hunting, like the meat,” says Smith. While both Tuck and Smith engage in

legal firearms use, they do realize that many teenagers use them illegally. “If you buy an AK-47 on the black market, you are going to do something illegal with it,” says Tuck. Apart from straw purchasing, juveniles can also steal guns from a friend, parent or other person who legally owns a firearm or by purchasing the firearm from an illegal trafficker, although illegal juvenile firearms use is discouraged by the ATF. Dealers with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) are also required to display a Youth Handgun Safety Act Notice poster, which explains that juveniles are prohibited from possessing, selling or transferring a firearm— or even knowing about an illegal possession, sale or transfer. The poster also contains all the federal law pertaining to juveniles and firearms. FFLs are educated by the ATF on how to counter straw purchasing. Though Miller saw many instances of illegal activity among teenagers while in a gang, including straw purchasing, he decided to quit the gang in order to pursue his schooling and a career in the army. “I’m out of [the Latin Kings],” he says. “I wanted to straighten out and stop being dumb.” n

Tracking the Bullet bullet

When the trigger is pulled, the firing pin strikes the primer, which ignites the propellant powder inside the bullet case.



A spring in the clip pushes bullets up as the gun is cocked.

bullet case


The powder burns and turns to gas which expands, pushing the bullet out of the barrel.

Top 5 Handgun Purchases in the United States 1. FN 57

2. Beretta 92

3. Walther P99

4. QSZ-92

5. FN-FNP 45

19 | Spark |

feature | community feature

SMASHING THE COMPETITION Though the restaurant only recently opened, Smashburger is already a hotspot for East burger aficionados due to its fun atmosphere and skillful management. story victoria reick-mitrisin | photos eric muenchen


eep. Beep. Beep. “Sizzle 20!” Just as the Smashburger staff finishes their chant in unison, the crowd of red uniforms scatters around the room. A scarlet flash can be seen sneaking into the bathroom, while a sea of crimson floods into the kitchen. The rest of the group spreads like a swarm of bees, bussing tables, cleaning the Häagan Dazs milkshake machine and conversing with familiar customers. After five minutes, the staff is busy at work, bringing customers their orders and ensuring each patron has nothing short of an outstanding experience. Every twenty minutes until the store closes, the sea of red spreads out across the restaurant to check on customers. The West Chester Smashburger is one of five of Amy Kessling’s stores, all located in southern Ohio. Kessling is proud to claim this restaurant as her home community’s facility, asserting that this one is meant to be “a place where everyone from teens to families go on a busy weekend.” Kessling’s Smashburger franchises are the first in the area, which is precisely what she intended. “We want to change the way people in the community think about burgers,” says Kessling. “We want them to think of us.” Kessling began this quest to influence the community’s perception of food six years ago along with her manager Christian Strong, who is currently managing all five of the stores. With four open and one on the

20 | Spark | April 15, 2011

way, Strong continues to approach his job as if it were a hobby making burgers a focal point in the community. “The fun part about Smashburger is you get a lot of Man V. Food people,” says Strong. “You get to build your own burger again.” According to Strong, Smashburger has no true competition, but Kessling and Strong have served spirited customers from as far away as Indianapolis, IN. “Because we were featured on the Travel Channel about a year ago, we get a lot of people coming from everywhere to see what we are like,” says Strong. “We want to maintain this mentality.” Strong hopes to remain prominent by making a cultural shift back to what burger joints once were—a social epicenter of the community. East senior Megan Parella agrees, saying that Smashburger provides her with delicious burgers and a unique environment. “Everyone is so nice and accommodating there,” says Parella. Strong does not want people in pigtails skating around in roller blades asking orders. He simply wants the friendly, community-driven mentality to be revived via the stores. Kessling agrees, openly accepting all requests for school and community fundraisers, including one for East’s National Honor Society and Lakota West’s theater program. “I like to be present during fundraisers to make sure that things run smoothly and people are pleased,” says Kessling. “We want to play a big role in this great community.” The West Chester Smashburger debut a month ago was attended by

Left page: Smashburger’s logo is displayed in the restaurant on Cox Rd. Right page: Smashburger and Smashfries

chamber members, township leaders, police officers and several others. Each time a store is opened, the store donates a large amount of money to the Thank You Foundation, an organization that supports and shows appreciation for troops by taking care of the families that soldiers had to leave behind. They make donations to several other foundations as the business grows as well. Despite Kessling’s involvement in the community, she also maintains a sense of closeness and communication with her employees. She divides her time between stores, and when a shift gets busy, Kessling prides herself on working with her staff in order to push the crowd through. “I’m not a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ kind of person,” says Kessling. “I work alongside them whenever I can.” Strong maintains these qualities as well, working with new general managers for approximately 75 percent of their shifts for the first three weeks on the job. He feels this creates a “healthy, efficient atmosphere.” He says that he and Kessling work well together to make the place run efficiently, while allowing employees and patrons enough space to feel welcomed in the facility. “We are a lot alike,” says Strong. “[Kessling] likes to have fun like all of us, but she is very professional as well. She lets people do their jobs, but people know they can come to her if they need help.”

Aside from simply working with employees, Strong has taken trips between several sites on a near daily basis, maintaining communication between all levels of management. Strong says that he does this in order to help the staff stay “on top of it.” These commutes can be up to 40 miles long. But, he believes that it is worth it. This both fosters a sense of community and allows for standards to be maintained across the boards and ideas to be spread to all stores. Regardless, individual stores are free to try new things. At the West Chester franchise, several East bands are in the process of being recruited to play on the patio of the restaurant once the weather permits. The staff hopes that this will draw more teens to the facility all nights of the week. Kessling also provides a positive atmosphere by not separating community and family. She not only remains at her stores on nights and weekends, but her children are also constant visitors on the weekdays. Kara, the eldest, can be seen working orders; Kessling’s youngest two do homework and eat the official garlic, rosemary and olive oil “Smashfries” as their afternoon snack. “[My husband] and kids are Smashburger’s number one fan,” says Kessling, who is pleased that her family is as interested in her dream as she is. “It’s great to be able to spend time with them and to what I love here as well.” n

“It’s great to be able to spend time with them and do what I love here.”

21 | Spark |

feature | dart

dirty dan-cing Growing up in a world of poverty, East senior Danny Uy has found a way to recover. story dillon mitchell | photo dan turner Each issue the Spark staff picks a random East student and covers a unique aspect of his or her life.


own a brick path, past the University of Cincinnati’s (UC) Steger Hall is a box. Not a literal box, but a small box of a room surrounded by glass windows. It is a small lobby, but around 6 p.m., it transforms. It thumps with the beat of music. Dub-step style remixes flow through the windows, infecting the air with sound. Inside, four guys are slipping, sliding and spinning across the smooth concrete floor. One of the friends, shorter than the others and wearing black-framed glasses, is spinning on his back, seemingly breaking the laws of gravity in classic, 80s film style. In the middle of his move, their computerized soundtrack accidentally switches to Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with Me.” The group begins to laugh heartily, and the dancer’s concentration breaks as he falls back to Earth. The gravity-defying dancer is East senior Danny Uy. He hefts himself off the ground and starts the story of his love for breakdancing. “[Breakdancing] isn’t just a recreational thing for me; it’s more like part of my lifestyle,” says Uy. “It’s been in my life since I was seven or eight [years old], but I didn’t get too [involved with] it until two years ago. I go down to UC for practice four or five times a week.” For three hours of practice, Uy works with his friend Daniel Pham. “I first met him at a battle,” says Pham. “He was one of those kids that was just [watching the battles]. He used to always come with friends. He asked me for advice sometimes, so I finally just asked him if he wanted to battle. After that, he started coming down to our practices and we started to battle together.” Uy’s latest dance gig was featured in the East winter pep rally. “I was excited to show people what I love to do, and who I really am,” says Uy. “I could always inspire someone to start break dancing. That’s just another exciting possibility of getting the [art form] out in front of people.” Despite Uy’s intense passion for the art form, his mother Konitha Vonnida was surprised to hear about his love for it. “I didn’t know Danny could dance. He has no rhythm whatsoever,” says Vonnida. “He didn’t strike me as the break dancing type. I had no idea he would go that route. When he told me that he liked to dance, I said, ‘Why?’” The disbelief stemmed from Uy’s early talent for art, a hobby that

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Danny Uy practices his break-dancing with fellow breakdancers at the University of Cincinnati campus.

requires completely different skills. “He’s a great artist. He can sit down and sketch you in a matter of minutes. He’s very good when it comes to artsy stuff,” says Vonnida. “I think he’s very into arts and design. Maybe he would like to do something like that one day.” Uy’s proclivity for art usually goes past the classroom and out into the environments in which he dances. “Outside of school, I work on a lot of pieces that deal with the culture of hip hop, the breakdancing I do,” says Uy. “It ranges from painted pieces to drawn out sketches to graffiti pieces. It all reflects who I am.” Although Uy leads an extremely urban lifestyle, he insists that his fashion is just to keep his family proud. “I don’t try to portray myself as a fashion icon. I just want to make sure I look good,” says Uy. “It’s an image you try to portray for your family. That’s why I do it, not just for my own sake, but for my family’s image.” According to Uy’s friend Liz Nguyen, his sense of style comes naturally. “He just wears what he thinks looks good, and doesn’t try to fit the image of what everyone else looks like. He doesn’t want to look like every other person in the halls at school,” says Nguyen, a junior at Mount Notre Dame high school. As Uy drives past his old house on the way to a break dancing practice, he recalls being made fun of in elementary school for his unpopular clothes. “Nike Air Force Ones were the ‘it’ items. Everyone had them back then, but we couldn’t afford them,” says Uy. “We shopped at thrift stores. My general attire tended to be pants and shirts that were too big for me. Kids would gang up on me and pick on me just because my clothes weren’t as nice as theirs.” Uy never got any Air Force Ones, but he never needed them. He does not need any of the trivial things that other people think they need to be happy “I don’t take anything for granted,” says Uy. “Not my house, not my clothes, not this education. I know how lucky I am." n



parenting outside



“Holy crap, am I really pregnant?” At only 18 years old, she was trembling with the fear that she would have to be responsible for another life. Years later, Jamie Buchanan’s greatest fear for her family is just that her eldest daughter Summer Buchanan will melt the ice cream again. “We usually leave it out on the table by emily chao [to melt a little], but [Summer] doesn’t photo by sierra whitlock like to do that. So she puts it into the microwave and presses the popcorn button,” says Jamie’s son, Brock Buchanan. “[Summer] opened it up and [said], ‘Brock, we’re not having ice cream, we’re having milkshakes.’”

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The Buchanan family sits together as they reminisce about the struggles and joys that have brought them together.

Although the pregnancy was unexpected, East parents Jamie and Chuck Buchanan both are now extraordinarily close with their children, reiterating that the kids are “everything” to them. As Brock searches for a pair of socks while packing for a trip to Grandma’s, he shows his father the one pair of socks that he finds. “You’re gonna need more than one, bruh,” Chuck tells his sevenyear-old son. On the other hand, Lakota Local School District Executive Director of Special Services Brenda Paget’s family is as happy as the Buchanans, but she had her first child, William Paget, when she was 41 years old. Overall, parental age is increasing steadily. According to babycenter. com, a pregnancy help organization, the average age of first time mothers has increased from 21 years old in 1970 to 25.2 years old in 2005. According to Time’s White House analysis on women, the percentage of women who have their first child by age 30 or older has increased from four percent in 1970 to 22 percent in 2007. Paget is one of the 22 percent, having waited to have her son until she built a career in Lakota’s Special Services Department. “The level of patience that I have and the hindsight that I have is much different than I would have had [in my mid-20s and 30s],” she says. “A lot of times, the little things don’t shake me up as much. I don’t lose my mind.” East English teacher Bobbi Hume, who did not have her only son Jamison Hume until she was 42 years old, believes that being an older parent has financial benefits for children. According to Cincinnati Public Schools child psychologist Ruma Sikdar, younger parents tend to be less educated and financially stable than older parents. “I see a lot more younger parents, and along with them comes lack of experience and education,” says Sikdar. “I tell the students all the time, ‘Your mom may have had you at 14, but Mom had a rough life because of that.’” Miami University Associate Professor of Family Studies and Social Work Alfred Joseph observes that younger parents generally do not have

connections for assistance with the everyday challenges of parenting. “[Younger parents] tend to not have a sustained support system,” he says. “They have not been around long enough to meet people in the neighborhood.” Although Jamie received a college education, she did not get to experience “college life,” the time when most parents her age did not have to worry about having responsibilities involving a child. Despite becoming a parent so young, Jamie believes that she maintains a “good relationship” with her daughter and better understands the “drama” conflicts of teenagers because her experiences are more recent. “I feel I’m more involved in what is going on in their daily lives,” she says. “With my daughter, I can tell when she is trying to manipulate me.” East sophomore Summer Buchanan agrees, saying that her parents know all of her “tricks” and understand her slang. “If I say ‘salty’ in front of my parents, my dad’s like, ‘I know what that is,’” she says. Chuck says that having a young parent’s rather than an older parent’s energy level provides more opportunities to share time and play with his kids. “I feel like I can keep up with them, [and] I can run with them,” he says. “If I felt in any way I couldn’t keep up, it would be heart-wrenching.” Bobbi acknowledges the negative aspects of older parenting as well, stating that older parents such as her tire easily. “Because he is little, he wants to play all the time,” she says. “When it’s just the three of us after supper and [my husband] and I want to put up our feet and sit down, [Jamison will say], ‘Let’s play ping-pong.’ To Dad’s credit, he does it.” Middle-aged women who give birth also increase their risk of pregnancy-related health problems. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the risk for miscarriage rises as a women ages, with a 15 percent risk for those 35 years old or younger, 20 percent for those 35 years old to 40 years old and 50 percent for those 45 years old and older. As a self-labeled “mother of advanced maternal age,” Paget remembers

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her initial concerns that her baby could potentially have autism, because women over 40 years old run a 51 percent risk of their children showing autism or mental retardation if the baby survives pregnancy. “It’s natural for you to have that concern,” says Paget. “I had to realize that my child could develop anything. It could be autism, it could be a learning disability, it could be a multitude of things. But I still would love him as my baby.” East English and Journalism teacher Dean Hume also acknowledges the worries are not only for the wife, but for the husband as well. “Don’t believe for a second that when a woman is pregnant, a husband isn’t pregnant too,” he says. Chuck acknowledges the difficulties associated with younger parents as well, and especially with their earlier financial troubles; he feels very lucky that their family has made it this far. “You don’t really have all your ducks in a row. You’re kind of caught on your heels,” he says, looking back at a different period in his life. “The younger you are, the less stable you are, so there is a lot more work involved. But that just kind of comes with the territory. Other than that, I kind of like where we’re at.” With the idea of a “happy medium” of parenting age in mind, Chuck notes that first-time parents who are older would not be able to experience parenthood to the fullest. “At an older age, you hope that they get what I get. You hope that they realize everything up until that point was important, but not nearly as important as what it feels like to be a parent,” he says optimistically. “For me, that’s the apex.” n


chance for


Dawn Downs is pleased that her third grade son can read at a first grade reading level. It doesn’t sound like much, but considering her son Will has Down Syndrome, he was predicted to be six years behind. Dawn is a parent who sees the benefit photo by kyle morrison to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) that former President George W. Bush signed into law on Jan. 8, 2002. According to Executive Director of the Commission on NCLB Gary Huggins, “the purpose of NCLB was to focus federal education policy on achieving results for children rather than on simple compliance with rules and regulations as had been the case in the past.” The act can be summed up into four primary principles: These embryos represent a three percent increase or decrease in stronger accountability on the schools for results, more fertility rate of a certain age group of women from 1990 to 2005. freedom for states and communities, proven education infographic emily chao, matt starrett methods and more choices for parents. Each school is now required to submit a state report card that gives an overview of the school’s achievement and academic progress. If the school does not make appropriate progress after five years, changes will be made to the way the school is run. Schools will also be required to provide free tutoring services to all students in need of assistance. Ages 15-17: decreases 29.4% Teachers who teach core subjects are required to be “highly qualified,” meaning they have to have a bachelor’s Ages 18-19: decreases 14.5% degree in the subject they wish to teach, full state certification or licensure and be able to prove that they Ages 20-24: decreases 8.7% demonstrate mastery of the subject they wish to teach. There has been a significant increase in academic Ages 25-29: decreases 4.3% progress after the NCLB was put into action. In Ohio, from 2002 to 2005, fourth grade reading proficiency increased by 21 percent and fourth grade mathematics Ages 30-34: increases 3.8% proficiency increased by six percent. Also as a result of this act, all schools now have open Ages 35-39: increases 12.3% enrollment, so parents can transfer their children to a better performing school if the school they are currently attending does not meet the NCLB standards for two Ages 40-44: increases 11.9% consecutive years. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “At the core of the No Child Left Behind Act are a number of measures designed to drive broad gains in student

by raika casey

Fertility Fluctuation


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The Downs family gathers around the playset in their backyard.

achievement and to hold states and schools more accountable for student progress.” Additionally, states must bring all students up to the “proficient” level on state tests by the 2013-14 school year. Individual schools must meet state “adequate yearly progress” targets toward this goal for both their student populations as a whole and for certain demographic subgroups. The fact that every single student in attendance at that particular school factors into the overall progress of the school has stirred up much controversy. Before NCLB, some students who had mental illnesses and disabilities were placed in the same boat as those without. Now there are two separate classes that some special needs children like Will take part in. He goes to a class for special education children for some of the day, and is then integrated into mainstream classes. Opinions about this policy vary greatly between different parents, but Will’s mother approves of the policy, as she sees it as a benifactor for her son. “Will does well in a small group setting. It’s great that he is being taught along with other students who are just like him so he can get an education at the best pace for him,” says Dawn, who attempts to always maintain a realistic approach. “[The separation of kids] only gets complicated when parents won’t accept their child not being mainstream. Will gets everything out of mainstream [education] that he can, but I’m realistic and know that he needs special help.” Acclimating children with special needs raised controversies above NCLB’s efficiency, but Huggins firmly stands by it. “NCLB has had a particularly positive effect on children with special needs—in fact, on all populations of kids who have often been underserved by the previous system,” says Huggins. “Because of NCLB’s requirement to publicly report academic achievement results for all groups of kids, like special needs, poor and disadvantaged and English language learners rather than just broad averages, schools have been incented and better positioned to address the needs and produce results in learning gains for populations of kids that were often invisible in state accountability systems.”

Although NCLB has good intentions, there are flaws to the system. For instance, one of the main intentions of NCLB is to close the achievement gaps and to bring every student to common grounds. The NCLB act does this by instructing teachers to spend more class time going over material with some students who have difficulty grasping the concepts taught. This time is subtracted from the class advancing to the next part of the assignment. East teacher Walter Vickers agrees that NCLB has affected his teaching structure, but he states he still argues that “as a teacher you need to be flexible and be able to adapt to new structures.” Also, Vickers believes that the federal government has no constitutional authority in the education arena and that federal involvement erodes state and local control over education of their children. Huggins is aware of these flaws and the plans that have been made to change the system, but states that it has still been a significant step forward in federal education policy. One of the changes he addresses is the accountability systems that track and credit individual student improvement, rather than simply looking at a snapshot of performance. Graduation requirements for special needs children like Will are based off of his Individual Education Program (IEP), not regular graduation requirements, making a diploma more attainable for impaired students It is required that each IEP is designed for one student and must be an individualized document. The IEP’s intention is to create an opportunity for parents, teachers, school administrators and related services personnel to work together and improve the education results for children with disabilities. “[Analyzing] student improvement and performance is a key component in evaluating the effectiveness of teachers and principals. [It is also] more effective in directing professional development dollars,” says Huggins. “There are also consistent and higher performance expectations through improved standards and assessments. [There are now] more choices for delivering improved educational options to students stuck in chronically failing or struggling schools.” n

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really full


Packing 30 lunches every week, working through four sixth grade projects at once and spending more than $500 a week on groceries is normal for the Peddicord family. The Peddicords are a family of eight, which includes two high schoolers and a set of quadruplets currently in sixth grade. In a family of this size, Professional Clinical Councilor (PCC) Mental Health Therapist Gretchen Cassil emphasizes the importance of spending time with each child individually. “The most common problem [in parenting] is the parents trying to have time for everyone, because the kids all still need and want attention,” says photo by ellen fleetwood Cassil. Ever since she was pregnant with East sophomore Brandon Peddicord, her second oldest, Lisa Peddicord regards staying at home as the only way she is able to divide time effectivly between her kids. Until recently, the Peddicord kids would take turns shopping one-on-one with their parents so that each child received individual attention. Now that the kids are older, “special time” is not planned. It simply happens automatically. The Niedermans, another large East family with five kids ranging from age six to 20, feel that the majority of the family’s quality time has always happened through simple situations, like driving to dentist appointments. “Now that they can drive themselves, we have kind of lost that opportunity for that one on one time,” says mother Bethann Niederman. Lisa agrees, but she feels that the loss of one-on-one time is not the only challenging thing about her kids getting older. “It’s harder now because when [the kids] were younger, they were at home with me,” says Lisa. “Now, we have homework assignments, deadlines, projects, field trips The Niedermans stand and just daily issues with school.” together outside the home on their family farm. But Lisa and her husband Mark Niederman acknowledge that in some ways things have

by Kaitlin lange

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gotten easier as the kids have grown older. East junior Aimee Peddicord, the oldest child, has already taken steps to becoming more independent. She is now working three jobs, waitressing at Donatos and Frisch’s Big Boy, as well as cleaning houses. “The kids definitely get enough, but I wouldn’t say they are spoiled,” says Lisa. “They aren’t without, but compared to an average or above average family income, maybe they don’t get quite as much.” Although the Peddicord children consider their parents generous and “laid back,” the parents are firm when they feel it is necessary. “Last week Aimee got her phone taken away and shut off because she hung up on me,” says Lisa, who believes that children’s respect for their parents is important. Though the Peddicords feel they are by no means deprived, they have been forced to deal with a lack of privacy. Brandon and one of the quadruplets in sixth grade, Jacob, share a room. Aimee shares a room with Emily, another quadruplet, and the two other quadruplets, Jenna and Rachel, share a room. Despite the cramped quarters, the kids do not mind their living arrangements. “I don’t really mind because Emily is like me,” says Aimee. “Emily dresses, wears her hair and does her makeup the same way I do.” According to Lisa, “Emily thinks she is 17 years old” and will hang out with Aimee and her friends when they are over at the Peddicord’s house despite the fact that she is 12 years old. Aimee’s only complaint about Emily is when she can not find her clothes sometimes because her much younger “twin” took them. The Niederman children also share rooms and only have one bathroom for the whole family. For the most part, they all manage to get by because they wake up at different times in the morning. According to Bethann, this sharing teaches them general life lessons. “They have to share their toys, their space and their bathroom,” says Bethann. “It’s definitely a benefit because at a very early age they learn that the world involves a lot more people than just them.” The Peddicords, however, attempt to give their children space. And

in all, the kids like having a big family. “There is always something to do,” says Aimee. “You never get bored.” All of the Peddicord children want to be part of a bigger family when they are older. Mark remains financially realistic and hopes his children will realize the difficulties that come with raising a large family. Miami University Family Studies and Social Work associate professor Dr. Alfred Joseph says that because of rising living costs, it will be harder in the future to have families of such a large size. Even so, the financial burden does not overshadow the enjoyment of the parents’ experience of raising large families. The Peddicords and Niedermans enjoy having all of the children around. “With a large family there is always something new, something exiting, and there is always activity,” says Bethann. “Kids are a blessing.” n


father and


As a pastor, Carl Franco knows the stereotype. He knows that pastors’ children are thought to be unruly and rebellious. More importantly, he knows of the stresses on families that a life in ministry can cause. According to Neil B. Wiseman and H.B. London Jr.’s book Pastors at Greater Risk, 80 percent of pastors believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively, with 66 percent feeling pressured to model the ideal family to their congregations and communities. Franco does not fit into these stereotypes of a pastor as a father who does not excessively foster a certain religious expectation for his children to create that “perfect family.” Founder and senior pastor at the interdenominational Wellspring Community Church and father of East sophomore Dominic Franco, Carl realizes his profession may cause his family to be held to a higher standard by others. He takes a more lenient approach to parenting, particularly regarding religious decisions. “I think that pastors place a higher responsibility on their families to ‘act the part,’ so to speak,” explains Carl. “When my kids came along, I said, ‘I am not going to place a higher responsibility on them.’ They’re kids.” Dominic appreciates that his father does not hold him to a higher standard. “He does a great job as a parent,” says Dominic. “He’s a super-awesome guy.” According to Dominic, the rules that he is encouraged to abide by are “just like those of any other kid.” Dominic says that high expectations from others are one of the only difficulties he feels associated with

being a pastor’s son. Although he maintains his independent personality, Dominic hopes his decisions will reflect on his father positively. “People expect more of me because I am the pastor’s kid,” says Dominic. “Sometimes when I go to church, everyone talks to me and tries to have a relationship with me, so it is a little much sometimes. Usually my dad is pretty good about keeping [the pressure] to a minimum.” Fellow Wellspring pastor’s son Tanner Holt reinforces this idea, saying that expectations are a difficulty. “It’s really hard for pastors’ kids, because [a lot is expected of us],” Holt says. “A lot of people expect us to be perfect.” Carl’s goal is to mitigate these struggles. He knows that all children will at some point make “crazy” and “stupid” decisions. “Children are going to do some non-Christian things from time to time, and that is part of being a teenager,” says Carl. “I am not going to let that reflect on me as a pastor and I’m never going to say to Dominic, ‘You can’t do that. What will the people at church think?’” Yet not all pastors share the same philosophy as their children. Princeton Pike Church of God Pastor Scott Mishler believes he should hold his children to a higher ideal. “I would say we probably have a higher standard as a photo by sierra whitlock family just because sometimes my kids will say, ‘So and so are doing whatever.’ My response to them is, ‘Well, we are just not like everybody else,’” he says. ‘“We want to make God proud, we want to be faithful in every way we can be faithful.’” Dominic, however, is not completely sure where his own personal religious views lie. He is in the process of “searching” for answers. “Generally, someone would think a pastor would demand acceptance of their religion, but my dad does a good job of giving me space and freedom to follow my own religious path,” explains Dominic, who plays bass guitar in Wellspring’s youth group, Ignition Student Ministries. “I would say faith definitely influences his parenting style, but my dad is a

by wyatt johnson

Dominic Franco and his father Carl sit upon the stage where Carl leads service on Sundays.

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new age thinker. He obviously sticks to the basic guidelines, but he thinks outside the box.” Carl agrees that this is what he strives to do in parenting Dominic and Marissa, his sixth grade daughter. He adds that the content of his family values are based on his faith, but are not related to his role as a pastor. “There are some things we prefer that Dominic doesn’t do [and we have] some boundaries that we set, but those don’t have anything to do with the fact that I am a pastor, they have to do with the fact that those are our family values,” says Carl. “I want faith to be a choice for Dominic. It needs to be something that he chooses and that he feels a connection to on his own, not because his family [does].” According to Carl, this father-son relationship is not hindered by extreme vigilance or excessive restriction. Instead, it is enhanced by openness and conversation. He tries to set reasonable boundaries while maintaining as much freedom as possible. “I think sometimes, because I’m a pastor, there is inherently some

pressure in that for my children. I am probably a little bit more lenient [in my parenting style] than I would be if I wasn’t a pastor,” says Carl. “Dominic will bring some things to me that I will disagree with, but I think that it is [just] me, and he is entitled to explore this and think about this on his own. I don’t try to say he is wrong. I try to say ‘That’s an interesting way of thinking about it, [but] I’ve always approached [this issue] from this side.’” For families whose lives are not centered on religion, family values are derived from similar conversations between parents and their children. “Agnostic-atheist” and mother of East sophomore Reece Aponte, Deborah Osbun, uses similar techniques to establish family values. “I believe people need to be good to each other, all over the world. We should care for each other and help each other, almost as if everyone is a son, daughter, sister, brother,” says Osbun. “I teach and expect my children to be the best people they can be every moment of their lives. I prefer to explain the reasoning for my ‘rules’ so they will develop an understanding of all the ‘whys.’” Similarly, Carl believes in growing through discussion rather than resorting to telling people what to do and rejects the term “preaching.” This philosophy is present in his roles as both pastor and Due to their extensive working conditions, pastors and clergy parent. Carl’s intelligence is something members face some of the toughest family lives. In its 2009 that Dominic truly reveres. Close friend Pastoral Ministries Survey, “The Parsonage” discovered Logan Brown, who knows Carl for his that compared to other professions, they have the secondfriendliness and great cooking, realizes highest divorce rate. that this intelligence is so important to Dominic. infographic jack dombrowski “I think Dominic and his dad have a good relationship because they are both able to discuss intelligent topics easily with each other, because of his dad’s [history of founding Wellspring],” says Brown. Holt feels the same way about his own relationship with his father. “My dad studies teenagers [as a youth pastor at Wellspring],” explains Holt. “He knows what I’m going through, he knows how it is and he knows pretty much everything about me.” Carl wants his son to develop and 52% succeed by setting a good example and engaging in conversation rather than mandating behavior. “I have always had the same 33% aspiration for Dominic,” says Carl. “I want him to become all that he was intended to become.” With the idea of heightened expectations as one of the only obstacles Dominic experiences, he feels he does 52 percent of all 80 percent 66 percent of all 33 percent of not fit into the clichéd role of the son U.S. pastors say of all U.S. U.S. pastors and all U.S. pastors of an extremely vigilant pastor. He does they and their pastors believe their families feel say that being not let these expectations change him. spouses believe that pastoral pressured to in the ministry “Overall, I am very much my own that being in ministry affects model the ideal is an outright person,” Dominic says. “Nothing pastoral ministry is their family family to their hazard to their hazardous to their negatively. anyone in my church thinks [or anyone congregations family. family’s well-being and who holds stereotypical views about me] and health. communities. affects my actions.” n

Pastor Burnout



Information Pastors at Greater Risk

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at their


She could not care less about her future. Dedication seemed pointless. By second grade, school dropped to the bottom of her priorities, and when she did manage to go to school, she would get in trouble. When she came home, the door to her life of turmoil swung open. All she had was a grandmother who could barely provide for her and a grandfather who seemed to only occasionally care about the girl’s whereabouts. Sometimes she wondered if food would be on the table when she got home. Although her life was rough, she knew her brother’s was worse. As a photo by jeff back baby, he was left to himself in his crib for majority of the day, neglected even more than she was. To this day, she does not know why her parents favored her. Fortunately, change soon came for East senior Anita Smalley and her brother Joshua Robert (JR). For once, she felt like a regular girl. More than that—she would feel like “a princess.” “I was in an unstable family,” says Anita. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for this experience. I might not even be a senior.” The sister and brother were adopted at seven years old, and two years old respectively. The couple who would eventually become their parents, Travis and Robin Smalley, Anita and JR’s uncle and aunt, had started out wanting to become involved in foster care. “We were unable to have children. We went into foster care and then we started [foster] training and all that kind of stuff. After that training, an opportunity came to us to adopt through private adoption,” says Robin, who runs the English as a Second Language program at the Lakota Hills Baptist Church where her husband is a pastor. “We took that opportunity, and that’s how we got Anita and JR.” Travis believes that as a pastor, he is fulfilling a higher deed to God in adopting and caring for Anita and JR. “The Bible says that one of the things you do to show your true religion is to take care of the orphans and widows. To take care of the

by Irfan IBrahim

fatherless. To model the love the God has shown us,” says Travis. “The Bible says that when somebody comes to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, He adopts them into His family. And we’re called children of God. I don’t even think of Anita and JR as adopted, they’re just my kids. I guess that’s where willing to be an adoptive parent came from.” As Travis and Robin endured the adoption process, the couple came across several difficulties including and a birth mother who changed her mind regarding giving consent for adoption. “Our first lawyer was not very good. We did everything. [On our final court date], the one when we were going to adopt JR, the birth mother had said no,” says Robin. “We still left with JR, we still had JR, but we just had custody again. He was not ours, adopted, or anything. We found a new lawyer, and Anita was available, and so we actually adopted them at the same time.” The intervention of biological parents at the conclusion of the adoption process is not uncommon. Focus on Youth, an adoption and foster care agency, founder Cindy Skinner says that court cases do not always play out smoothly. “It’s called legal risk adoption because the children haven’t been permanently committed yet. There hasn’t been a legal termination of parental rights,” says Skinner, who founded Focus on Youth from her basement and now has an established location in West Chester Township. While the Smalleys faced many changes of heart and mind from the biological parents, the support they found from friends at the church never faltered. Travis recalls how the congregation would comfort and support them when they went through the court cases and adoption training. Throughout the adoption process, the congregation ensured that Anita and JR would come home to a safe, loving and religious environment. “The church just walked with us through that [chaotic adoption]. You have to have home studies, and the whole court process, and you The Smalleys sit and discuss the hardships they faced during the adoption proceedures.

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have to be very patient [in order to adopt],” says Travis. “I don’t see how the adoptive experience could have been any better when I look back at it and how the church reacted to what we were doing.” Both Anita and JR agree that the religious aspect of their lives, along with the care of a loving family, helped shape them into who they are today. “Before I would always give grief [to my family] about going to school, but immediately after getting adopted, I was with a loving family I wanted to impress. I actually had to pass tests and do well,” says Anita., who volunteers at her church’s Vacation Bible school. JR agrees. He believes that there is no reason for people to take pity on adopted kids because, from his personal experience, adoption leads to a better life. “There is no reason to feel sorry for us, because everything [that was] bad turned good, and they should be happy for us,” says JR, who went from being in Speech Therapy to ranking in the top three of his class. His sister has also shown academic improvement. “Anita’s a very brilliant girl, but she just wasn’t applying herself, and just didn’t have the encouragement at home to apply herself at school. When she came into our family, we took her to school. School’s part of your life and you have to go. She always did her best, and she’s always done her best, and she really excelled. Same way with JR,” says Robin. There was no religious indoctrination or “tiger mothering” required, according to Travis. “It wasn’t anything exuberant. We were just being normal parents, I think. We were just loving him and caring for him. And they took off, when talking about grades,” says Travis. “We were expecting behavioral problems, particularly out of Anita because she was older. We didn’t experience [those] at all. Just normal kids stuff.”

Types of Parenting Permissive

Parents try to avoid confrontation with their child. They set low demands and do not require responsible behavior from their child.

Parents barely communicate with their child. They tend to have low demands for their child and are unresponsive to their child’s actions.

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East English teacher and Department Head Ashley Whitely, goes to the same church as the Smalleys, and attributes Anita’s success both in and out of school to her parents. “In her letter of recommendation, I built it around a Kenneth Blanchard quote that says, ‘The key to successful leadership today is influence not authority.’ I think that sums up Anita quite well, in that, she’s not about being the authoritarian, she’s not about being the loudest speaker in the room, but she’s about her influence,” says Whitely, not only as a friend who’s known Anita for three years, but also as her former Honors 10 English teacher. “I think her influence comes across in a lot of ways. Her academic prowess, her strength, her strong morals and values that have been instilled in her.” Whitely notices the several distinct similarities between Anita and Robin, and how the morals and values from having such a religious upbringing shows when she is in class. Both teens became well-aclimated and had something solid during their transfer because of their strong religious ties. “Anita reminds me a lot of Robin. She has that sweet disposition. Very caring, wants to help anybody in a moment’s notice, very active in church, helps with vacation Bible school. You see the potential of what Anita will grow into,” says Whitely. Anita has even house-sat for Whitely, which was quite an “experience,” according to Whitely. Whitely recalls a time when Anita thought there was a robber in the house and instead of calling an adult, she ran into the home to try to stop them. “‘Your first instinct was to come into the house?’ ‘I thought I left the garage door open and I thought that it was going to be bad,’ [Anita replied]. ‘And your first instinct was to come into the house?’ I think she’s just sweet,” says Whitely. Travis and Robin focus on what they refer to as “huggin’ and infographic laural casteel lovin’ on them.” They treated Anita and JR not as adopted children, Authoritarian but “just our kids, as if they were never adopted at all.” Robin bought Parents give their child strict rules. several toys and toddler materials for JR just like any parent would. Parents will often tell their child to The parents both made a great effort to renovate Anita’s room for obey them “because I said so.” The her with a Disney princess theme, something that Anita was thrilled child is harshly punished when rules are disobeyed. Parents are unresponsive and about getting. have high demands for their child. “Her eyes got really big. We had all the princesses up there and she was the head of the princesses, and we said, ‘This is your room!’ and she’s just like ‘OK’ [and was awestruck]. I guess growing up, I took for granted having a room,” says Travis, as he reminisces about Anita’s arrival. He remembers a particular experience that really emphasized how adjusting to day-to-day life was easy. JR, who was only two years old when he came to live with them. “He wasn’t potty trained. I just said, “Hey man, this is what you do.” Other than that, that was all the potty training he needed. That was it.” says Travis, as the whole family bursts out laughing. Because of the positive impact adoption has made on her life, Anita has decided to dedicate her life to being an adoption lawyer and helping other children. Anita plans to earn a Bachelor’s degree at the Raymond Walters branch of the University of Cincinnati when she graduates from East in June 2011 and then will go on to pursue Authoritative law school. Children have rules that they are With her future career as a lawyer, Anita makes the promise to expected to followed. Parents will let others have the experience that she was fortunate enough to communicate with their child, recieve from her adoptive parents. She feels that all children are however, and listen to what they deserving of the love and attention that a normal household brings have to say. without exeption. One day she will strive to let another girl feel like a princess, too. n


in trying out alcohol with her mother. Finding the situation humorous, her mother decided to answer her daughter’s questions by giving her some to try for herself. “I was skeptical about why whiskey puts so many people ‘under the table,’” says Kira. “So my mom decided to give me a shot of [whiskey] to show me how it tasted.” According to Tammy, the rules of their household are that Kira is only allowed to drink alcohol when it is given to her and that it is consumed within their house. If she has alcohol without consent or drinks anywhere else, she will face her parents’ consequences. However, Kira is not bothered by her parent’s rules. Having already tasted alcohol before, she feels no urge to drink outside the home. “Although I sometimes wish they’d let me have alcohol more often, I do not really mind my parents’ rules. My mom still has let me try a lot of things,” says Kira. “Actually, a few nights ago she was having this new A shot glass filled with Schnapps whiskey is set on the young woman’s brand of wine that she didn’t like very much, and had me try it to see placemat. She wants to know what it tastes like. Some of her peers and what I thought. We ended up experimenting by adding pineapple orange friends have tried it, and her curiosity grows. She does not hesitate to juice to it.” Assistant Professor at Wake Forest University Kristie Long Foley lift up the miniature clear glass and down the soft amber liquid. The and her research team say that the technique smoldering alcohol, bitter and thick in taste, parents use to discipline their child does not runs down her throat. She scrunches and particularly have an effect on whether they gags from the repulsive cough syrup-like will try alcohol, but the technique does have flavor. Her face scrunches, realizing why an effect on if they become binge drinkers whiskey plasters so many people. photo by sierra whitlock later in life. Mission accomplished: not trying that “Parents who are what we call again. authoritative, meaning they monitor kids “At least now I know what it tastes like,” thinks 15-year-old East sophomore Kira Pearce, shrugging off the closely but still show a lot of warmth and support, are less likely to have teenagers that participate in heavy drinking,” explains sociologist and atrocious experience. But she did not fall to peer pressure. Kira’s mother Tammy Pearce parenting study author Stephen Bahr. According to East Resource Officer Deputy Doug Hale, some supplies Kira with experience to satisfy her daughter’s curiosity about alcohol instead of leaving her to experiment among friends. Some parents may infographic logan schneider, sarah wilkinson, caitlyn williams choose to reprimand alcohol consumption, but families like the Pearces have a much different approach. They allow their teen to consume alcohol under close supervision. In this way, Tammy Pearce believes that teens are in a more controlled environment that allows them to familiarize themselves with alcohol without breaking the law. According to the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control, minors under the age of 21 are allowed to drink alcohol The Century Council A 2009 national The National Center According to A Teen Today study at home with their parents’ found that 49 by Students Against on Addiction and Students Against survey on Drug permission as long as the percent of mothers Use showed that Substance Abuse Drunk Driving found Drunk Driving underaged individuals are of teenage girls found that 80 16 percent 72 percent of high out that over half of surveyed believe American parents of percent of parents of underage supervised by their parent or school students that it is acceptable have had at least agreed that it is teenagers believe alcohol users legal guardian. for their daughters normal for their drinking is part of get their alcohol one drink in their Kira says that she is a “huge to drink. children to drink growing up. from a parent or life. history buff ” and has read underage. guardian. up on the history of whiskey, which had sparked her interest

during family


by alex griffin

Rethinking Underage Drinking

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The Roths sit together on the family couch in their alcohol-free home.

parents believe that taking away their teens’ and friends’ keys at a party justifies giving them alcohol, thinking “If it’s in my house, it’s OK.” But Hale believes this mentality is not the case. “Several years ago, there was a party where a boy died from an asthma attack because he had been drinking too much,” says Hale. “They could have lost everything through all the lawsuits, and the parents sometimes don’t realize the consequences when they do these sort of things.” Foley performed studies and found that teens who attend parties with alcohol supplied by a parent are twice as likely to binge drink or become regular drinkers themselves. In comparison, teenagers reportedly binge drink a third less often if they drink with their parents at home and get drunk half as often in the following months. “The goal is to try familiarizing my daughter with alcohol in a controlled environment so that she will not go out and overdo it later on,” says Tammy. Thus, Kira is able to enjoy drinking alcohol with her mom. She even has a glass of wine at dinner from time to time. Other parents, however, have a different way of teaching their teens to drink alcohol responsibly. East freshman Nate Roth’s parents do not drink alcohol at all. Doug Roth, Nate’s father, says that one of the reasons is because his grandfather became an alcoholic and left his family. “To me it is more I want to be a good dad and set a good example for my children,” says Doug. “If I am not drinking, then more than likely my children will not have it become a serious problem for them. It is more of a painful and personal reason, not that we just don’t want alcohol to be a part of our lives.” He and his wife hope that both of their children recognize the negative effects of too much alcohol. Because of their parenting choices, Nate has decided not to consume alcohol in the future.

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“I am me, my own person, and my views concerning alcohol would stay the same if my parents drank or not,” says Nate, who follows his parents’ example and does not see any benefits to drinking. “Maybe I could control my drinking and wouldn’t get drunk, but I couldn’t promise that to my [future] children or my friends.” Similarly, Kira will follow her parents’ decisions regarding alcohol and will instill the same rules with her children. “When I become a parent, I will most likely allow my children to have alcohol once they were older, like what my own mom did with me. I was 14 years old when I had my first drink,” says Kira. Foley and her research team found that adults’ approval of alcohol use is highly connected with teenage drinking behavior, depending on how parents use alcohol and where the alcohol is being used. “Drinking alcohol with parents may help teach them responsible drinking habits, or even extinguish some of the novelty or excitement of drinking,” she reports in her journal article, “Adults’ Approval and Adolescents’ Alcohol Use.” Foley describes teens having drinks with their parents should be considered more of a “protective behavior,” supporting the practicality of the Pearce’s parenting style. Foley suggests that teens who have parents who drink with them have fewer alcohol problems than their peers. Kira believes that because of being introduced to alcohol as a teenager, she has a better understanding of the dangers and is more educated to make better and more informed decisions concerning alcohol. Despite criticism for permitting alcohol use in high school, the uncommon compromise between Kira and her mother contradicts the negative stereotypes surrounding parents who allow their children to consume alcohol. n



WATCH Miamisburg, OH Three Bears Childcare Center director Gwen Adams says that children need to be children for as long as they can. Whether a child is enrolled in some form of childcare or not, Adams believes this is the way that kids need to be raised. ho is responsible for raising these children and how parents make decisions are the real questions. Childcare has effectively become one of the most discussed parenting issues in modern society. As shown in the National Survey of America’s Families, photos by sierra whitlock approximately 76 percent of children under the age of five are enrolled in some form of nonparental care. According to a professor of the Department of Family Studies and Social Work at Miami University Dr. Alfred Joseph, for some, the economic pressures to provide for one’s children has prompted a drastic change in the family unit that is far different from that of 50 years ago. “The rise in daycare enrollment is due to the economy,” says Joseph, a 16-year professor and father of three. “You need two working parents to make it in society today.” According to a study done by the National Association of Child Care

by jeff back

Children at All About Kids do arts and crafts during play time.

An All About Kids employee helps a child construct a snake craft.

Resource and Referral Agency (NACCRRA), over 57 percent of parents surveyed cite childcare as an economic necessity in 2010. Adams accepts the economy as a prominent factor in why some parents enroll their children in childcare, but believes that economic provisions are not the parents’ only responsibility. “Not only do you have to provide material necessities, but you also have to provide time and compassion and interaction with the children too,” says Adams. For West Chester resident and former Hamilton County Educational Service Center employee Kim Oswald, the need to be with her three children during their early years outweighed any economic hardships it may have placed on her family. Kim and her husband Bob Oswald specifically planned for her to stay home with the kids. “I didn’t want anybody to tell me that he took his first step,” says Kim. “I wanted to be there for it.” At her former job which was required after the passing of Public Law 94-142 in 1975, Kim traveled to where different children would spend their days evaluating forms of childcare. Public Law 94-142 mandates education to be available for all handicapped children, and according to Kim, few daycares knew how to take care of young children at the time. Her job consisted of teaching daycare employees how to effectively assist children in their early development, regardless of the parents’ chosen form of childcare. “There were some daycares that I went to that I could not leave without praying for the children,” says Oswald. “My little body has walked over the steps of at least 150 daycares in this area. I would consider sending my kids to maybe six of them.” Oswald stresses, however, that there are “some very nice daycares out there.” She says that she has observed a handful of daycares that are “fabulous, where they spend time with each individual child.” While there are a total of 5,804 childcare centers in the state of Ohio according to NACCRRA, only 273 of them are nationally accredited.

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Comparing Childcare

Though parents disagree on whether or not daycare or home-rearing is better than the other, both have been shown to have positive and negative effects. infographic jeff back, maria rodriguez

information kim oswald, gwen adams, jayme murray

Daycare children often have higher immune systems. Daycare children are often better at following directions. Daycare children often have higher social interaction skills. Home-raised children often have a better family relationship. Home-raised children often have an expanded vocabulary. Home-raised children are often more independent.

Roughly five percent of childcare centers provide care for children that both the state and the country find to be more than adequate. Some parents, although recognizing these statistics and making every effort to find adequate daycare, simply do not have a choice, says Adams. Despite this, Adams advocates that although most daycare centers are not accredited, the majority operate on a set curriculum and employ caring teachers. While hiring employees, she remembers that they are going to be with the children more than the parents on a day-to-day basis, and the children deserve attention. “[My employees] are not just babysitters,” says the retired schoolteacher. “They’re going to get down and play with the kids.” According to the Liberty Township All About Kids Learning Center director Jayme Murray, it is important that kids receive one-on-one attention from adults, “the big factor is socialization,” amongst the children. Veteran kindergarten teacher of 23 years at Creekside Early Childhood School Lisa Smallwood has seen, and can evaluate, children who come from both daycare and home environments. “I can’t necessarily tell a difference [in which way a child was raised], especially right away,” says Smallwood. “I think what you notice is not whether children attended daycare, but whether parents have spent time

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with [their kids]. You notice the parents who have talked with [their kids], not at them.” The only slightly apparent difference in the children is “daycare children might not be as shy at first,” but that quickly changes. Oswald concurs with Smallwood in that parenting plays a much larger role in a child’s outcome than the setting. “What you get out of the time you spend with your children, rather than how much time that is, is what will ultimately determine your child’s future,” says Oswald. Additionally, Smallwood supports the importance of parent involvement. “If you, as a parent, give your child everything that you can, as much time as you have, I think that makes a huge impact on a child’s life because a child looks up to you,” says Smallwood. Joseph says that daycare attendance or not is a miniscule factor when attributing either good or bad behavior in children later in their adolescence. In the end, one of Adams’ teachers listing words that end with “t” with a group of children will affect a child’s life in about the same way that a mother who reads with her own child does. “People are way too complicated to say ‘this’ causes ‘that’,” says Joseph. n

for the

love of their


She used to run herself ragged. Three Halloween parties. Three different schools. Filomena Nelson ran between Woodland Elementary, the old Lakota Early Childhood Center and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Aaron W. Perlman Center on the Halloween 1998 to serve as a party mother for all three of her children’s schools. By the time trick-or-treating came around, she was done. Filomena did not want to see another kid in a costume. She and her husband David Nelson struggle with giving their children, Stephanie, John and Gregory, equal attention. But the couple will never be able to make it even. Filomena remembers taking her son, East junior Gregory Nelson, to the pediatrician after he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP). The doctor told her that no matter how hard she tried, she would never be able to spend the same amount of time with her other kids, John and Stephanie. When twin brothers John and Gregory were born, both were very sick and stayed in the hospital for over a month. After they finally went home, photos by sierra whitlock David and Filomena began to notice delays in Gregory’s development. Although they realized that something was wrong with Gregory after only two months, he was not officially diagnosed until he was five months old. When David and Filomena officially learned that Gregory had CP, they were overwhelmed; Gregory was a twin and their daughter Stephanie was only two years old at the time. “We had no family in town, so there was nobody to help,” says Filomena. Despite the fact that Filomena had training in rehabilitation and special education, she says that nothing could prepare her for having to deal with CP as a parent. East parents Barb and Tim Lozier have faced a similar struggle. Just days after Barb gave birth to twin sisters Niki and Shelley, Shelley began having seizures. While they entered a ZERO TO THREE program, which allowed for Shelley to receive therapy and her parents to join a support group, the Loziers did not have the CP diagnosis down in writing until Shelley was three years old. Shelley is still able to walk and move functionally, yet Gregory has no control over his arms and cannot walk or sit. He also cannot speak, so he must use assistive technology to communicate verbally. The assistive technology has been “a whole other world” for Filomena

by sOPHIA lI

Gregory Nelson displays his sports memorabilia.

that she would otherwise know nothing about if not for her son’s needs. Currently, Gregory uses his speaking computer with a HeadMouse, a device he clicks with his left cheek. “It’s really only been in the last two years that he’s gotten better at communication, although he’s been trying for the last 10,” says Filomena. “Different devices and ways of accessing is a big issue for him. Without using your hand, accessing equipment [is difficult].” To grow accustomed to CP, Gregory attended preschool at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Perlman Center. In addition to following a typical preschool curriculum, the students do physical, occupational and speech therapy. Now, Gregory goes to the Perlman Center in the summers to utilize its assistive technology. The Perlman Center also helps families connect with the appropriate resources. Perlman Center social worker Jackie Rapose serves as a service coordinator, making sure families get the help they need, educating parents and working with the school once a child is in the public school system. Rapose says that while Medicaid and most private insurances cover therapy-related costs, families will run into problems when they need equipment or communication devices. “It’s an ongoing battle to get [the costs] covered,” says Rapose. “When kids come in, if they need a wheelchair or a walker, our therapists evaluate for that and take them through the process, the funding and the

Nikki and Shelly sit together in front of the piano that Shelly enjoys playing.

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appeals. It’s very expensive, and oftentimes it can be denied two or three Hungarian conductive education—he still doesn’t sit,” says Filomena. times, so it might take nine months for a child to get a wheelchair.” “You can say to the other kids, ‘If you study harder, you’ll do better’ but Before Gregory received his wheelchair, David and Filomena were you can’t say, ‘If you work harder physically, you will walk,’ or, ‘If you do able to communicate with their son through eye gazes and reading his this, this will happen,’ because it’s not going to happen.” expressions. According to David, communication was all about giving The Loziers understand Filomena’s frustration when they must tell Gregory choices and letting him “talk with his eyes,” such as looking Shelley that she cannot do something, but Shelley is generally accepting to the left if he wanted ice cream or looking to the right if he wanted of their rules. pudding. Back then, Gregory’s parents would help him complete his “Shelley will say ‘I hate having CP,’ but we always try to tell her that homework by having him make choices on a board held in front of him. she is who she is, and we love her because she is the way she is,” says “Other people need to depend on his technology to communicate Barb. with him, because they’re not around him as much, so they [cannot read Over time, Shelley has also learned to accept her condition as him],” says David. something that she cannot escape, but rather overcome. Because Shelley’s CP is much more moderate than Gregory’s, she “Sometimes my CP is kind of like a chain,” says Shelley. “But as I go does not share the struggles of communication to the extent that through life I have learned something: that these chains aren’t going to Gregory does. She is able to talk without any device, although her speech bring me down at anything I try to do.” is delayed. Cognitively, she is not far behind Niki, but physically, she Parenting Special Needs magazine founder Chantai Snellgrove has struggles with her fine motor skills. Shelley cannot write so she must do seen the differences between parenting special needs and parenting her homework using a computer or keyboard. healthy children from both the professionals that are involved in her In Filomena’s case, the biggest frustration is knowing that Gregory publication as well as her experience as a parent of a child with special can understand everything he hears but cannot communicate back, at needs. least not anything like he would without his physical disabilities. Gregory’s “When you have a special needs child, sickness can be constant to physical state and mental state differ greatly: while he has no control over the point that it can cause disruption to jobs,” says Snellgrove, who his body, he has no intellectual disabilities. In fact, his receptive language founded the online magazine in 2008. “Special needs children can have a has always been advanced. In first grade, he had the vocabulary of a gamut of things that you’re constantly dealing with, and employers don’t 13-year-old, and when he was in seventh grade, doctors said that he had necessarily understand [or] want to deal with it.” the vocabulary of a freshman college student. Another difference that Snellgrove sees is the contrasting lives special “You rarely get a typical, intelligent person with a typical brain needs children may live. that works just like yours and mine with his physical limitations,” says “Most typical parents’ goal is to have their child grow up and live their Filomena. “When Lakota started busing Gregory, he was on a special own life,” says Snellgrove. “With a special needs child, that may not be needs bus, but he always had more in common with his neighborhood something that is going to happen—your child may be with you for the friends and his sister and brother. [David and I] had to battle for that, and rest of your life.” we got him on the regular neighborhood bus. He has more in common This possibility is a major concern for the Nelsons. with the kids without special needs.” “Our fear is what will happen to all of us. [Gregory] doesn’t want to Having special needs children has affected both the Loziers as well as live with us, we’d like to go, but we aren’t sure how that’s going to work the Nelsons is by making them more understanding. out,” says Filomena. “We aren’t sure who will care for him, if he will be “I’m not really a patient person,” says Filomena. “I really like to happy, if he will be safe.” n get things done quickly, and [with special needs children] you can’t do that. We spend a lot more time with the Spastic Cerebral Palsy infographic mandi ellsworth kids, because you can’t say causes stiffnes and during breakfast, ‘Have your Athetoid Cerebral Palsy movement difficulties. breakfast, I’m going to go dry leads to involuntary and my hair’—you have to be [at uncontrolled movements the table] feeding him.” Gregory’s disability has taught Filomena that life is Percentage of Diagnoses not always ideal. of Cerebral Palsy by Type “I have always believed that if you work really hard, you can accomplish whatever you want to accomplish. We’ve tried traditional therapy, horse therapy, Ataxic or Hyptonic aquatic therapy, hyperbaric Cerebral Palsy causes oxygen therapy; we’ve been to Athetoid Cerebral Palsy a disturbed sense of California, Kansas City; we’ve Ataxic of Hyptonic Cerebral Palsy balance and depth been to Poland six times, perception. Spastic Cerebral Palsy for six weeks at a time, for Adeli suit therapy; we’ve tried

Cerebral Palsy Diagnoses


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fathers, more


Merrick Morgan has three dads. Well, he has a stepfather, a biological father and Tony, his father’s Norwegian partner. Yes, his dad is gay. But Morgan doesn’t care. For most of the year, Morgan is raised by his mother and stepfather. However, during most school breaks, the East sophomore visits his dad and his partner. Growing up in Cincinnati and Phoenix with two compassionate households and with two different family dynamics, Morgan has accepted his individuality. “My mom and dad have always told me that I’ve been really open-minded photos provided by morgans about everything,” says Morgan, who was only nine years old when his father came out to him. “I probably had no comprehension of what [gay] meant,” says Morgan. “I didn’t care to discriminate against it either. It never really bothered me.” Morgan told his mother a year later about his father’s sexuality. “I don’t think he wanted to tell me at first,” says Rachel Kuntz, Morgan’s mother. “He said, ‘Well, you might be mad because you know this person.’” Kuntz assured her young son that she did not have a problem with people who are gay. But she was initially frustrated that her exhusband was not open with her. “I was a little bit mad at first because I thought that he pretended to be different for a long time,” says Kuntz, who eventually understood her ex-husband’s hurdle. “I have always felt that he was never comfortable with himself in his own skin.” Kuntz later realized that his secrecy was due to lack of family support. Morgan’s father came from Jamaica, a country that, according to Morgan’s father, does not widely accept homosexuality. “My culture is so anti-gay to begin with,” says Merrick’s father, who is also named Merrick Morgan. “Jamaicans are horrible. Oh hell, my father didn’t even speak to me.”

by mohinee mukherjee

While it took some time for Mr. Morgan’s father to accept his son’s sexuality, Mr. Morgan was confident about telling his son because the young boy was “ahead of the game.” “He would probably understand,” says Mr. Morgan “I want him to believe that sometimes learning is not just trying to memorize something. It’s actually giving someone exposure.” Mr. Morgan and his son have had a “solid relationship” since Merrick was born. Even during the marriage, Mr. Morgan had to travel out of state in order to provide for the family. Despite the challenges, the first two to three years of Merrick’s life brought about many lasting memories. Kuntz remembers how her ex-husband used to incessantly take pictures of baby Merrick before leaving for frequent work trips. “It was a constant ‘click, click, click,’” says Kuntz. “[Merrick] is super cute, but we don’t need 600 pictures of the same move.” Even after the divorce, the duo remained inseparable. Ever since Merrick was little, he had a cell phone to encourage direct and regular communication with his father. “He gets me to start focusing,” says Merrick “It’s what he’s good at. My dad definitely will not give me positive reinforcement because he’s the manliest gay dude you know.” Phone communications keep the father and son connected, but when he can, Merrick spends time with his father and Tony Madsen, whom father and son refer to as “T.” Madsen met Merrick when the boy was four or five years old. From sightseeing on holidays to going on dog walks, Madsen and Merrick have spent a wealth of time together over the 12 years they have known each other. “I remember telling stories and singing lullabies to Merrick after putting him to bed every night and he always loved it,” says Madsen. “It was very special every time, to see him so content, safe and loved.” Miami University Assistant Professor for the Department of Family Studies and Social Work Katherine Kuvalanka finds that the parents’ sexuality has little to do with a child’s welfare. “Parental sexual orientation is not an effective indicator of a child’s well-being,” says Kuvalanka. “What matters is the quality of the relationship between the parents and kids.” Mr. Morgan agrees.

Merrick leans on his father while eating breakfast with “T,” his father’s partner.

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“You have the same headaches as any other parent,” says Mr. Morgan “Once the kid becomes a teenager, it’s like ‘Good luck, man.’” Cincinnati-area psychologist and social worker Katherine Schneider finds in many situations that same-sex parents have a closer relationship with their children than heterosexual parents. She considers this to be beneficial. “They make it paramount to hold open and ongoing discussions with their children about any issues that arise in the family,” says Schneider. “They actively encourage dialogue.” Just like any other family, Mr. Morgan and his family celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays. And just like any other family, the Morgans do have their memorable moments together. Like when Merrick was six years old and he saw a commercial about the dangers of smoking. “He stormed out of the room, bawling his eyes out,” says Mr. Morgan. “[Merrick] said, ‘Daddy, you got to stop smoking! You’re going to die!” Mr. Morgan looks back on the moment with amusement, but he took his son’s words to heart. Eventually, he quit smoking, and he credits his son for his accomplishment. Unlike other children who witness their parents embrace on a regular basis, Merrick does not see many signs of affection between his father and Madsen. “They don’t hold hands because, as Tony would say, ‘That is too gay,’” says Merrick, who also does not see them hug too often. However, Merrick does remember the first time he saw his father and “T” kiss. “We had gotten back in the car after going to some nice place to have dinner,” says Merrick. “While they were sitting in the front, I had just gotten in the back, and they kissed each other and then Dad pulled out and we left.” Merrick was glad he could finally witness his dad and Madsen kiss, because he could get used to the situation if it ever came about in public. Despite the fact that Mr. Morgan and Madsen currently cannot be legally married in Arizona, Merrick considers “T” to be almost like his “stepmom.” “It was like having another mom,” says Merrick “I look at him as a good friend and a kind of stepmother role. Like they don’t try to get too involved, but they’re still there to care for you.” Luckily for Kuntz, who remarried eight years ago, she does not have to share Merrick with another mother. “I’m always the [real] mom,” says Kuntz. “He’s just got three dads. So I play the [starring] role, which makes me happy.” Michael Kuntz, Merrick’s stepfather finds that being one of Merrick’s paternal figures does not affect his parenting at all. “Probably the biggest benefit is the fact he gets a lot of perspectives on things,” says Kuntz. “We have our own approach on how things ought to be.” While Merrick may not judge his father, the same cannot be said for those around him. When he hears someone say, “Oh man, you’re so gay” or “You’re such a fag,” Merrick turns around and asks, “What’s wrong with that?” before sharing the fact that his father is homosexual. Kuntz says her ex-husband is inspiring, as he could have lost his family connections once he acknowledged his sexual orientation. Merrick calls his father his role model. “[His confidence] embodied to me what it meant to be someone who was comfortable with himself,” says Merrick. “I kind of started picking up on that as I came to understand myself more. Now I could be more like my dad.” n

40 | Spark | April 15, 2011

Whether to accept or

IGNORE The virtual playground known as Facebook is popular with both parents and children. Parents wary of social networking’s dangers or concerned with their children’s social life use it for both their own social or business lives and for keeping a close watch over their children’s social lives as well. “It has become increasingly common for parents to join Facebook to keep an eye on their kids,” says parent psychologist Nancy Goodwynn. “I wouldn’t be surprised if at least half of the kids on Facebook have parents who have activated accounts for sake of watching over their kids.” In a recent survey of 200 students, 132 students claimed their parents were on Facebook only to supervise them. Of those students, 75 percent of them did not want their parents to be friends with them, though, 91 percent received friend requests from their parents. Nine percent were told by their parents to accept their parent’s friend requests or felt that they were obligated to accept their parents as friends. A recent Nielsen Company survey reported that 75 percent of parents who have Facebook profiles were friends with their kids, and 20 percent told their child to un-friend someone. East sophomore Zach White believes that parents should not dictate their children’s actions on Facebook. “I’d feel rebellious if my parents told me to do something like that,” said White, whose parents are friends with him on Facebook. “I don’t mind my parents being on Facebook as long as I can be friends with whoever I want to be.” Some hold a stronger opinion. A group on Facebook, called “For the love of god—don’t let parents join Facebook!” has 5,819 members. Indian Hill Middle School Principal Kim Miller, a parent of two highschool-aged teenagers, encourages parental involvement with their kids on social networking sites like Facebook. “It is important for parents to try to stay in communication with their kids,” she says. “An open, clean line of communication between a child and a parent fosters a healthy relationship between the two, which is crucial in a child’s development.” According to the Nielsen Survey conclusion, however, the disagreement between the parents and students regarding parental control over their kids on social networking sites will not be resolved any time soon. In fact, the technological rift between students and their parents may be getting larger as a result of increasing numbers of methods of communications. n

by Josh Miller

lifestyle | healthy eating

Sweet Treats Dieters commonly avoid desserts because of their high sugar and fat content. With the right recipe and moderation, however, people can have a sweet treat without the empty calories. story victoria reick-mitrisin | photo sierra whitlock Each issue, Spark explores nutritious dining options for each meal.


plenda-sweetened cupcakes and Coke Zero Zero will not kill you. According to Spark People nutritionist Tanya Jolliffe, there have been “no published, peer-reviewed, controlled scientific studies to support the accusations [that artificial sweeteners are detrimental to one’s health].” But for those not prepared to risk proving the common health myth wrong, there are other options to getting that sweet “quick fix” in even the healthiest of diets. One healthy substitute for a sugar carvings is a bag of fruit snacks, which is part of East junior Lauren Haller’s diet. She returns home for a balanced meal and her “minor [fruit snack] indulgence” after she runs track and spends a quick hour at the gym. Haller eats three square meals and an after-track Powerbar during her busy day, but she regrets not spacing her intake out with a greater quantity of smaller meals. “[My habits are] just healthy,” says Haller, who is adamantly against attempting only to “look good” instead of considering the longterm health effects. “I feel accomplished when I work out and eat right over a long period of time.” Jolliffe recommends that those seeking a better post-meal option should consider fruit as something that will satisfy sugar needs, while maintaining healthy proportions. Additionally, Jolliffe suggests spacing out several servings of dried fruit between meals, allowing people to indulge in a sweet treat multiple times per day without the health risks of sweets. Haller feels that her family has not allowed for her to indulge too often, as her parents do not purchase an excess of unhealthy foods. Haller feels this has conditioned her to not snack on junk food each time she passes the kitchen. Instead, she goes for fruit or yogurt from her fridge, which helps her to eliminate the “crash-and-burn” feeling in her diet. “I will only want [unhealthy food] really badly if I know we have it. If we do, when I’m really hungry or just bored, the junk food that we have on hand is the first thing that I want,” says Haller. “I have a plan that works and gives

42 | Spark | April 15, 2011

Apple Crisp Ingredients me time to relax while staying fit and active.” According to Haller, eating several small meals throughout the day curbs cravings and binging. “Students always eat once or twice per day and binge on junk food because they can. They don’t worry because it doesn’t affect them right now,” says Haller. “When they are older, these habits will stick, and people won’t be quite as successful staying fit with [the same] lifestyle.” East junior Emily Morrell agrees that eating large quantities during the day has detrimental effects on teens. Having lost 20 pounds since December 2010, Morrell attributes her weight loss to the elimination of most desserts and a portion-conscious, healthy routine. Morrell eats a calorie-heavy dessert once per week but attempts to simply skip over the unhealthy food in her home for a healthier option, like berries and cream. Morrell only indulges at social gatherings or when she goes out to dinner with her family. “There’s a lot of stuff out there that tastes like dessert, but is a healthier diet food instead of dessert food,” says Morrell. “I don’t think that people, particularly high school students, fully understand the difference.” East senior Victoria Brooks disagrees with Emily’s method of dieting. Brooks only eats dessert about three times each week, but she eats more in order to fully satisfy her cravings. “[Eating a lot] gets it all out of my system and then I don’t want dessert for awhile,” says Brooks, who reiterates the fact that portion size in all other areas of dieting is key, so that snacks are not utilized to relieve boredom. She feels that her method, though not the healthiest, is the most practical way for her. “I generally only eat desserts during social events, and they tend to be larger than a normal portion size,” says Brooks. Brooks considers herself an individual who plans for her future health. She refrains from over-indulging by limiting herself and finding healthy alternatives to her usual desserts. “As long as you keep yourself motivated and tell yourself when to stop, it doesn’t matter what you eat,” says Brooks. n

3 medium sized baking apples, cored, sliced thin 1 tsp cinnamon 2 tbsp sugar 2 tbsp flour Topping: 1 cup quick oats 1 tsp vanilla 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 cup brown sugar 2 tbsp heart-healthy margarine


1) Mix the first four ingredients and place in a nine-inch dish. 2) In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients until they are crumbled. Sprinkle topping over apples. 3) Bake at 325o until apples are soft and topping is goldenbrown (about 30 minutes).

Nutritional Info Serving Size: 9 Servings per recipe: 1 Calories: 131.5 Total Fat: 3.6 g Cholesterol: 0.0 mg Sodium: 33.9 mg Total Carbs: 24.4 g Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g Protein: 1.5 g

Science of Your Skin story alyssa davis | infographic lisa cai


fter eight months of taking a prescription medication for cystic acne, visiting the doctor monthly to ensure that she was not pregnant, and enduring dry skin all over her body, area resident Kelly Blackburn’s hair fell out. That side-effect finally pushed her to quit taking Accutane, a medication prescribed to patients with sever acne. Although her side-effects are extreme, the condition is not unique. According to, 90 percent of teenagers suffer from acne. Dermatological nurse practitioner Lynn Mellencamp asserts that almost everyone has a breakout at sometime, and all breakouts typically begin the same way. “Acne is usually caused by bacteria and [extensive] oil production on a body surface. Hair follicles become clogged and it causes an inflammatory reaction,” says Mellencamp. “The white blood cells migrate to the area and try to get rid of the infection. All of that results in a zit.” Even though all acne have a common origin, there are different levels of “zits” and breakouts. Level one acne includes comodones, or white heads, level two includes open comodones, or black heads, and level three includes closed comodones, or red papules. According to Mellencamp, for those with mild acne, dermatologists will simply prescribe a topical wash or lotion to treat the acne from the outside. Although most topical treatments require multiple applications each day, Duac combines two medicines so that the application can be reduced to one application per day. East junior Alex Miller, who has used Duac since his freshman year, applies the cream once a day and takes an oral medication called Minocycline twice a day. According to Mellencamp, the oral medications fight the acne “behind the scenes” and help infections heal before acne appears by “calming down the swelling due to the white blood cells.” “The medicine did not work that fast. It probably took a month or more to start working on getting rid of my acne,” says Miller, says that his acne was not severe, just a “nuisance.” “[My medication] only works up to a certain point. I only use it now so that I do not regress.”


For some patients, however, even prescription drugs are not enough. One of the strongest acne medications that can be prescribed is Accutane. Because of Accutane’s side-effects and need for monitoring, Mellencamp’s office does not prescribe this drug. “Your lips dry up, your eyes dry up, even the synovial fluid in your joints can dry up. But it also gets rid of your acne,” says Mellencamp. “The side effects are temporary—when you quit taking it, everything is reversed. You have to make a decision on what you want to do. To get rid of your acne, sometimes you have to pay the price.” After Blackburn stopped taking the medication, it took two and a half years for her hair to grow back. While on Accutane, she had to take two forms of birth control because the medication can cause severe birth defects. “While taking Accutane, I met with my dermatologist monthly. I would get a blood test, which confirmed I wasn’t pregnant,” says Blackburn. “I would take those results to my monthly dermatologist appointment and he would write me another monthly prescription of Accutane.” For patients with cystic acne, Mellencamp uses spot treatments. Injecting steroids, an anti-inflammatory, and an anti-bacterial into the cyst will usually clear up the spot within 24 hours. She says that this treatment is good for patients who are self-conscience about their acne as it keeps them from picking at the scabs or pimples, which could scar. “Scaring is a life-long side-effect. Some people have what we call icepick scaring,” says Mellencamp. “They look like someone took an icepick to their faces because they are so deep.” Mellencamp strives to prevent scarring and instruct patients on how to wash their faces, but ultimately they want to help their patients heal. “Acne takes a really long time to heal and that is sometimes frustrating for our kids,” says Mellencamp. “It is really cool, though, when the patients come in and their faces are getting clear. That is really rewarding.” n

Sebaceous gland Sebum Pore

Up the



Grease is typically considred to clog pores and cause acne; this is not the case. Sebaceous glands, located in each hair follicle, produce sebum, an irritant that can clog pores. Puberty, or simply genetics, causes these glands to produce more sebum, which traps bacteria in pores, leading to the formation of pimples.

Acne medicine that contains benzyl peroxide kills bacteria built up in the pores and dries up excess oil. This reduces swelling and shrinks pimples. 43 | Spark |

lifestyle | fashion feature

Skating in Style With a shoelace belt, relaxed crew neck t-shirt and slim cut jeans, East junior Sam Butler proudly works his skater style. story jill stelletell | photo sierra whitlock


oaming the many streets of West Chester and Liberty Township, he is not found on his feet, of course, but on his skateboard. East junior Sam Butler is known for his punk-skater and classic-surfer style with a wardrobe that reflects his chill yet rebellious personality. Butler’s wardrobe is made up of graphic t-shirts, zip-up sweatshirts, skinny jeans, fresh kicks and his infamous shoelace belt. While his wardrobe collection is very unique, Butler looks up to professional surfers and skateboarders for some fashion trends and brand names. “I look up to the pros, but not one person specifically. I pretty much choose whatever I want to wear. I know what I like and what looks good, so that’s what I choose. I want to stay comfortable,” explains Butler, sporting a casual scoop neck t-shirt. The shoelace belt is one of Butler’s signature pieces worn with every pair of jeans. The trend started when Butler could not find a belt one morning and found a shoelace as a quick substitute. Lo and behold, it worked like a charm and completed his edgy look, too. The rest was history, and people now follow his trend. While he wears his shoelace belt, he stays true to his style by wearing Pro Model shoes, which are made by skaters and are the skater equivalent of Air Jordans. Butler never followed the usual such as the seemingly uniform wardrobes in elementary school and the Hollister and Abercrombie junior high craze. Instead, he vowed to set his own trend that reflected his personality and interests. “In seventh grade, I really started getting serious about skating. The music I listened to became an influence on my style as well like A Day to Remember and Underoath. I started rocking tight shirts and skinny jeans,” said Butler. “Plus girls seemed to love that I didn’t look like everybody else.” According to Butler, his mother Lynda

44 | Spark | April 15, 2011

Butler models his casual wardrobe, which he first adopted in junior high.

Butler never saw his evolution of style coming. His mom thought it was just a phase, and he would never really get into it. But once Sam started to get serious about skating, she realized it is not all bad and allowed him to wear what he wanted. Now, she likes his style and thinks it is “quite cute.” His mom is not the only person who thinks that he is pretty cute. Many girls Sam meets do as well. East junior Morgan Beul is no exception.

“[Sam] is really cute. His style is really original which makes him different from all the other boys around here,” says Beul, a close friend to Sam. Sam seems to have no problem standing out from his high school peers. There are a few that have the same simple, yet eclectic fashion, as Sam. “I love my unique style,” expresses Sam. “I don’t see many people dressed like me and that makes me feel different, but in the best way.” n

Each issue, a member of the Spark discusses his or her current favorite eight items.

Sally Hansen Peel Polish

My nails take forever to paint and even longer to dry. With this nail polish, I don’t worry about messing up. There are over 50 designs to choose from that will fit any occasion. All I have to do is peel and press.

To Write Love On Her Arms

Abbreviated “TWLOHA,” this nonprofit organization brings hope to those struggling with self-harm and addictions. The foundation sells T-shirts and wristbands to fund research and tours that encourage people to address their issues.

Starbucks Ice Cream This is my new addiction. While it can be pricey, Starbucks is where I get my ice cream fix. They offer six delicious flavors, and only four of them have coffee.


Columbia Jackets My go-to jackets if I don’t want to lug around a huge coat., they are comfy, come in just about every color and are about $100 cheaper than a North Face.

Extra Dessert Delights Gum With Extra Dessert Delights Gum, I can get my favorite treats anytime. With flavors like strawberry shortcake and key lime pie, one piece can satisfy my cravings.

things of the moment

Jumbo Hair Waver This nifty device heats up in about two minutes. My hair takes forever to straighten and now making it wavy it takes half the time. And it only costs about 20 bucks.

Hot Head Burritos This place just opened, and it’s good. It has more options than Chipotle, and there are always new special offers. Plus, I get stickers every time I go there, and my 10th sticker lands me a free burrito.

Tosh.0 Daniel Tosh’s sarcastic and rude remarks give me the giggles when no one else can. Also, his web redemption videos are always a blast to watch over and over again. Sierra Whitlock CHRISTIAN ROEHM

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N w showing




Universal Studios R 104 mins.

Win Win

Fox Searchlight Pictures R 106 mins.


Alliance Films PG-13 102 mins.


Working Title Films R 104 mins.

Movie Posters:

46 | Spark | April 15, 2011

It’s a power nerd’s dream come true: a tiny, green potsmoking alien who curses like a sailor. The lovechild of an illegitimate union between E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Pineapple Express, Paul is the latest effort from collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, whose previous work includes classics Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Frost and Pegg play Clive Gollings and Graeme Willy, respectively, two sci-fi fanatics touring America’s famous alien-sighting spots. While traveling one night, they witness a car crash. When they stop to investigate, a small figure reveals itself from the shadows. This is Paul (Seth Rogen), the aforementioned extraterrestrial. Having escaped from captivity at Area 51, Paul persuades the two to transport him to the location where his alien overlords will return him home. Along the way, they face

several obstacles, including a overzealously creationist FBI agent and a mysterious government overseer. Unlike Pegg and Frost’s previous collaborations, which were directed as well as co-written by Edgar Wright, Paul is directed by Greg Mottola. The difference is apparent, as the film lacks the dry wit that Wright brings to the table. Mottola is clearly more interested in tacking a dirty joke, or an expletive or two, onto every line of the script simply for good measure. Unfortunately, it’s a waste of Pegg’s and Frost’s natural comedic chemistry, and although the film has a broader appeal, it is, quite frankly, nowhere near as entertaining. Nevertheless, the movie works as a comical homage to classic sci-fi, with subtle references to films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Aliens and Star Wars. In addition, Rogen is much easier to tolerate from behind the face of an extra-terrestrial pothead, and in the end, we can all take solace in knowing that somewhere in the world, Steven Spielberg is coming to the realization that E.T. would have been much cooler if he had been eating Reese’s Pieces because he had the munchies.—Zach Fulciniti

Insidious  When the makers of Saw and Paranormal Activity, some of the scariest films of the decade, team up, expectations are high. With the disturbed imagination of Saw’s James Wan, and with Oren Peli of Paranormal Activity’s ability to induce insomnia, Insidious is a combination of creepy and frightening. Unfortunately, the movie is not executed to its full potential. The film centers around a family that has moved into a new home. Their son Dalton falls into an unexplained coma and strange events begin to unfold. They soon find out that Dalton is not in a coma, but is in fact lost in the world called “The Further.” Because his spirit is gone from his body, dead souls wishing to live again are attempting to take over his body. The film’s opening sequence is very 1930s-esque, with the title screen blaring creepy music only found in Hitchcock movies

playing over the title sequence, with Insidious in a blood-red, scary-movie font. This kick-back to a vintage style gives a movie a fresh feel, distinguished from its contemporaries. The soundtrack also gives the movie an old-school feel, resembling that of Psycho. A Tiny Tim song eerily plays in several scenes, as ghosts wander around the home. A really interesting aspect of the film is that the ghosts are played by people, rather than of special effects. Though it sounds like a perfect horror flick, its held back by numerous problems. There is no doubt that the movie is creepy. The mixture of hidden demons and random ghost appearances make audiences scream, but this is a problem. Viewers are waiting for the next face to pop up in the window or the shadow to move through the hallway. But suspense is what makes the movie scary—not the film itself. Even worse is the fact that the movie is ruined by fake-looking effects, as well as terrible acting. Not to mention that the demon looks like Darth Maul. Anyone looking for the thrill of walking through a haunted trail or haunted house in the spring, Insidious is the movie to see. While the ghosts and demons startle audiences, the fear will not stay with them.—Lucy Stephenson

Win Win Sometimes I worry about Paul Giamatti. Seriously, how much ennui can one man have? In Sideways he was an unpublished writer whose dreams had realistically passed him by, so all he wanted to do was play golf and drink wine (but not merlot, by God, not the merlot). It’s easy to picture him with his head out the window, shouting “I’m fed up and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Giamatti’s existential crisis isn’t helped much by Win Win. Here he is a lawyer, a Mike Flaherty, struggling to not off himself in a job that he hates, but mostly just struggling to get by. He volunteers as the local high school’s wrestling coach, and it is the one thing on this earth that keeps him from total collapse. You see, Mike used to be a wrestler, too. But living vicariously through his players doesn’t really go well, as the team is terrible, and they don’t remember what it feels like to not lose. Then, Mike faces a moral dilemma when he finds out he can make $1,500 a month by throwing an aging client, Leo, into a nursing home. A little cold, but hey, we have to do what we have to do. The rest of the film is a lot less interesting. Leo’s grandson is Kyle, and he ends up living with Mike after he runs away from his drug-addicted mother. Anyone familiar with anything could guess the rest of the plot. Kyle turns out to be great at wrestling, which is great for Mike, because Mike’s wrestling team is terrible. But more than the wrestling, the two grow closer together, help each other grow, but no, no, they can’t stay living together, because there is still Kyle’s mother, and that would be illegal. Usually, a Paul Giamatti picture would have some kind of ambiguously melancholy ending. It would have been expected, but it would have been more accurate. After all, it’s like Nas said, life is a you-know-what, and then you die. Giamatti knows this. Instead, the film shoots for a Saved By the Bell ending, in which everything turns out just great. Not that Win Win is a bad film. But sometimes when we worry about Paul Giamatti hating himself, it’s because we’re afraid we might hate ourselves a little bit more.—Tyler Kieslich

Limitless pulled in nearly $19 miilion in the box office during its opening weekend.

Limitless  According to Limitless, in order to enhance my writing skills and pen a flawless review of this movie, all I have to do is take one small, translucent pill to take full advantage of my brain. The movie claims that humans can only access 20 percent of their brains and to access the other 80 percent, we only need to swallow this pill, called NZT48. If I could, I wouldn’t have a blank Microsoft Word document up right now, typing a few words, then deleting them. That’s the situation Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) finds himself in at the beginning of the movie. Morra is supposed to be a writer, but he has some serious writer’s block. He has a book contract, but he can’t produce anything. He only stares at the computer. Sometimes he types a line, only to delete it. He loses his girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), due to his lack of success. He needs to quickly produce some amazing writing, or he risks losing his book contract too. When he meets Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), his ex-brother-in-law, on the street, they decide to get together and catch up. After hearing about Morra’s writing problem, Vernon gives him one free NZT48 pill. Vernon claims this $800 miracle is “FDA-approved.” Although hesitant, Morra takes the pill and has an entirely new perspective on the world. He starts writing an excellent book at a ridiculous speed, and he can remember anything he has ever laid his eyes upon. But the next day, he needs more. The rest of the film is about him trying to

maintain an ample stash of the drug while making millions in the stock market with Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro). At the same time, he must keep the drug away from others who will do anything to get their hands on its immeasurable power. The film is reminiscent of Inception, although it’s not nearly as mind-blowing. It’s a great film, however, and Cooper plays the terrible-writer-turned-genius well. Better than Shia LaBeouf would have. See, if LaBeouf would not have broken his hand and fingers in a car accident, then he would have played Morra as he was originally cast to. Luckily, Cooper ended up with the role, because even though LaBeouf would have had the girls pouring into the theater, the Transformers star, and consequently the movie would not have been taken nearly as seriously. Limitless should keep you at least interested throughout its 105 minutes. You’ll wonder what will happen next, and most times you will be pleased. A little research, however, shows that humans using only 20 percent of their brains is not necessarily accurate. This scientific flaw, does not make Limitless any less entertaining. It is the story of a man who takes a powerful pill and becomes a successful writer and a rich businessman. But I’m just a writer, finishing a review without one.—Christian Roehm

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picture used with permisson from



N w Playing

noah and the whale 


Noah and the Whale

Last Night on Earth Mercury

J Mascis

Several Shades of Why Sub Pop


The King of Limbs Self- released

The Strokes Angles RCA

album covers:

48 | Spark | April 15, 2011

Noah and the Whale sound dead. Or maybe that’s just Charlie Fink’s vocals, an ugly noise that sounds like a dying cat when he reaches for high notes. Folk singers obviously don’t have the polish of bubblegum pop artists, but they have a certain raw soul that is both beautiful and damaged. Fink could take a lesson from Josh Ritter. Maybe Noah and the Whale is just too young of a band that has put out too many albums in too short of a time. After all, they only formed in 2006, and their first album came out in 2008. That’s three albums in four years. They’re like the Weezer of folk bands, releasing mediocre albums almost annually. Last Night on Earth is half bad, literally. Half the songs are good, and when they’re good, they’re great. Piano and fiddle intertwined with acoustic guitar makes a beautiful sound. But the other half of the

album is a mess. Storytelling is prevalent in folk music, but not powerful when it’s rife with cliché topics like “changing your ways.” That is literally a line from “Life is Life,” a convoluted attempt at a philosophical message within a song. No, the best song on the album has no words, let alone storytelling. “Paradise Stars” is piano—just piano. Crisp, faint, beautiful. It’s not weighed down by the nuances of Fink’s voice or the stereotypical acoustic guitar chords. It doesn’t need any of those extraneous touches. It’s the soul of a song, breathtakingly simplistic, pure and mesmerizing. Last Night on Earth is Noah and the Whale limping from their folk roots into a more acoustic-pop style. Overly simplistic music backs overly cliché lyrics. Every track just seems so boring and overly polished that songs don’t even sound like real folk music anymore. If you want a folk band that actually sounds like a folk band, try Bon Iver or The Tallest Man on Earth. Noah and the Whale just isn’t anything special.—Dillon Mitchell

radiohead  Listening to Radiohead for the first time is like listening to a concoction of ambiguous syllables, paired with melancholy instrumentals that somehow seem to relate to any listener’s life. But before you can immerse yourself in The King of Limbs, disregard any preconceived notions about Radiohead. “Bloom,” the album’s first track, seems to drag on forever, leaving a loyal fan apprehensive as to whether The King of Limbs is all they’ve been anticipating the last three years. The melody seems almost too familiar, reminiscent of their sixth album, Hail To The Thief. Upon reaching “Lotus Flower,” there seems to be a speck of hope for the album as lead singer Thom Yorke addresses his dilapidated state of existence with a voice so genuinely full of emotion it could bring any man to tears: “There’s an empty space Inside my heart/Where the weeds take root/Tonight I set you free.” Although the first four tracks aren’t lacking in any tangible

way, they all seem too safe and analogous to Radiohead’s previous work. Even the lyrics are evocative of “House of Cards” off In Rainbows. When In Rainbows was released in 2008, listeners were blown away by the new sound Radiohead had adopted. The band set the bar high for themselves with masterpieces such as “Reckoner” and “All I Need.” The only song comparable to either of these is “Codex,” which begins with vulnerable piano chords and a swayworthy bass pedal. Yorke’s voice is entirely stripped and seems to hover effortlessly above the piano and horns. But again no risks are taken in this song. In its entirety, The King of Limbs is a well-done record and will gain critical acclaim. The album will disappoint loyal fans of Radiohead, who, after being exposed to Hail To The Thief and In Rainbows, expected a more refreshing sound. Instead, Radiohead seems to relapse into their comfort zone with all-too familiar harmonies and signature self-deprecating lyrics. Anyone who has listened to the previous works of Radiohead will find themselves crestfallen by The King of Limbs. —Tariq Carmichael

J mascis

EDITORS’ PICK Angles is The Strokes’ first album in five years.


photos labeled with commercial reuse

J Mascis has a glorious head of hair. The locks are long, flowing. In the wind it waves heroically, like an American flag in a strong summer breeze, like some patriotic banner of freedom and democracy. The hair is J Mascis, and J Mascis is the hair. He’s been around for a while now, nearly 30 years, as indie rock’s favorite uncle since the last days of disco. As the singer and guitarist of the stoner-chic quasi-metal demigods Dinosaur Jr., he has influenced everyone from Kurt Cobain to Stephen Malkmus to Kurt Vile. Mostly, Mascis is that quintessentially laid-back, still-a-little-high-from-Woodstock kind of punk-hippy. His songs are mostly drenched in his signature guitar-feedback. Usually there is a guitar solo. This being said, Mascis isn’t normally taken very seriously. The songs are nice and fast, but his lyrics have long been dismissed as new-age dribble, the ramblings of an over-indulgent hippy. He once recorded an album dedicated to the Hindi leader Mata Amritanandamayi, which, yeah, it’s a nice gesture, but it won’t do a lot in the way of shaking that stoner stereotype. Not that this is at all fair, because his songs are all generally fantastic. But still. This is what makes Several Shades of Why so interesting. The feedback and the guitar solos are gone. The songs are acoustic, intimate. The lyrics are dark things, especially for someone everyone assumes is high and happy all the time. This version of folk music is a twisted one. Mascis’ signature croon makes everything a little more depressing when it isn’t backed by optimistic guitar tomfoolery. It’s like Mascis found his old copy of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and then went and did his own thing anyway. The best song is “Not Enough,” in which Mascis does his best Fleetwood Mac impression. It might be about all the neurosis that come with being in love, but who’s counting? The melody will make your foot inexplicably tap to its eternally optimistic rhythm, but when Mascis says “I know my love/and I wish I didn’t know her” it will break your heart. His hair is still there, still free. Mascis’ locks have been the same since the beginning, the same through the guitar noodling and the Hinduism and now through the damaged folk music. J Mascis isn’t any different. His hair can tell you that. It’s everyone else who has changed.—Tyler Kieslich

The strokes  The Strokes aren’t supposed to be here. See, like Neil Young said, they were supposed to just burn out. Their career was only supposed to be a flare-up. They would blow through the music world a fiery tornado of garage-rock fury, sparking a revolution and leaving in their wake a generation of copycats striving to imitate what they could only do once. Then they would disappear, to exist only in the annals of rock history, leaving the estranged masses longing for more. They were supposed to follow in the path of their post-punk predecessors. The Stooges, who disbanded after only a few albums. They should be long gone by now. But they’re not. They’re still here. That’s where Angles comes in. Angles is the ultimate act of defiance, The Strokes’ rejection of their predetermined path. It is their fourth release, the first since 2006’s dissatisfying First Impressions of Earth, as well as their most avant-garde; it sees them abandoning their garage-rock roots in favor of a bizarre, 80s synth-pop fervor. To put it in terms of U2, it is their Achtung Baby, a sharp contrast with their previous work. The record opens with “Machu Picchu,” a fitting lead-off for no other reason than the lyric “I’m putting your patience to the test,” which Julian Casabalancas sings over subtle guitar harmonics and a punchy, driving bass line. On “Taken for a Fool,” the band channels Talking Heads, and Casablancas’ crackly, almost syncopated vocals serve as a fairly convincing simulation of David Byrne. Songs like “Two Kinds of Happiness” and “Gratisfaction” sound like 80s Rolling

Stones, and The Cars. This album is basically an entire decade of pop music wrapped into 10 tracks. In almost every way, Angles is a complete divergence from The Strokes’ earlier work, lyrically, thematically, and instrumentally. Yet in several essential ways, it is a return to form. Bassist Nikolai Fraiture plays a more prominent role, as he should. The tracks are shorter and more intense. Their first two records both clocked in at roughly half an hour, but First Impressions runs for 52 minutes. It was the first time they had recorded a song longer than four minutes. It may seem inconsequential, but for The Strokes it is a vital point. Luckily, Angles contains only one track that exceeds four minutes, the beautifully indulgent elevator music of “Life is Simple in the Moonlight.” It’s the exception to the unwritten rule that The Strokes can do anything as long as they keep it brief. If Angles is The Strokes’ Achtung Baby, then the lead single “Under Cover of Darkness” is their “One.” It’s an upbeat anthem, their best work since “Reptilia.” Ironically, the only track reminiscent of their past efforts. Casablancas complains, “Everybody’s singing the same song for 10 years.” And yes, it has been 10 years since the release of their debut, the instant classic Is This It, but for the first time they aren’t singing the same song anymore. And considering how great that song was, that’s a surprisingly good thing.—Zach Fulciniti

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entertainment | in-depth album review

Wiz khalifa

rollingpapers They call him joke rap. They call him weed rap. Wiz Khalifa is just staying true to his marijuana-influenced colors. review jeff cargill


hile staying true to his slow, mellow beats and lyrics jam-packed with drug references, Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa takes on a whole new audience with his third album, Rolling Papers. Wiz Khalifa became an underground superstar by releasing an independent album and many free mixtapes. His underground popularity and unexpected fan base attracted attention from major labels and he signed with Warner Brothers Records in 2007. Disputes over marketing, however, led Khalifa to split with the label in 2009. Khalifa signed a new deal with Atlantic Records and conquered 2010 with the breakout success of his free mixtape Kush and Orange Juice. To say Kush and Orange Juice was popular is a huge understatement: On the day after its release, the hash tag #kushandorangejuice became the number one trending topic on Twitter and the search “Kush and Orange Juice download” became number one on Google. Wiz Khalifa carries the same mellow style of music featured on Kush and Orange Juice onto his Atlantic Records debut Rolling Papers. Rolling Papers is the album that takes Wiz Khalifa from being a recognized urban artist to a nationwide sensation. The album’s first single, “Black and Yellow,” flew to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 after its release and has since sold over 2 million copies. The song’s overwhelming success has given Khalifa a whole new audience. This is why some of the songs on Rolling Papers, such as “Roll Up” and “No Sleep” seem to sound like pop songs that would be heard on the radio, rather than traditional Wiz Khalifa tracks. But his fans shouldn’t be disappointed. The style they have come to love is still evident on the album’s other tracks. A remarkable aspect of Rolling Papers is that Wiz Khalifa has none of the superstar guest appearances that have become almost necessary for a successful hip-hop album. The only other featured artists on the album are Chevy Woods, Curren$y and Too $hort, who are not bigtime rappers by any means. Too $hort is best known for raunchy sexual raps that never really earn much commercial success. Curren$y has had record deals with major labels and released both albums and mixtapes, but hasn’t sold enough to ever become a mainstream artist. Chevy Woods

is still a new artist who Wiz Khalifa considers to be a sort of protégé. The guest appearances on Khalifa’s album are not overpowering and simply complement Khalifa’s unique style. Rolling Papers is Wiz Khalifa sticking to his style, instead of trying to capitalize off of the success of other artists. Lyrically, Rolling Papers features the cliché topics that Wiz Khalifa and the genre of hip-hop have been known and criticized for: money, weed and women. This is evident from the opening lines of the album: “And they say all I rap about is b****** and champagne/You would too if every night you seen the same thing.” Most of the other tracks are the same way. Wiz either flaunts his newly acquired wealth, brags about the beautiful women he seduces or raps catchy metaphors about how intoxicated he is. As any of his listeners and Twitter followers will tell you, Wiz Khlifa, a notorious potsmoker, has never had a problem publicizing his exorbitant marijuana use. Rolling Papers is filled with marijuana references, but that is just another part of his patented style. Some songs that aren’t centered around these typical topics are “Get Your S***” and “Fly Solo,” both about ending relationships. “Cameras,” the last track on the album, probably has the deepest lyrical content even though the beat is light and catchy. The song is about the changes Wiz Khalifa has experienced on his rise to overwhelming fame and fortune. Wiz Khalifa isn’t a conscious artist who raps to express a profound, new outlook on life. He sticks to typical hip-hop topics, but that is what he does best. People don’t listen to Wiz Khalifa with the same bitterness and mellow attitude they would have while listening to Common or Kid Cudi. His listeners do not want a view of his feelings; they just want to party. His slow beats and catchy hooks combined with witty lyrical jests create a style that cannot be found anywhere else. Generally, his new album sticks to the slow style of the successful mixtape Kush and Orange Juice, even though there are a few songs like “Black and Yellow” and “Roll Up” that were clearly made for the radio. With Rolling Papers, Wiz Khalifa has created an album that will appeal to all of his fans, both old and new. n

Rolling Papers is Wiz Khalifa sticking to his style, instead of trying to capitalize off of the success of others.

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entertainment | feature



story devin casey | photo eric muenchen

Mark Hattersley has been running the WLHS radio station from room 223 since 1999.

One full-time radio teacher.

East Radio teacher Mark Hattersley strokes his beard and stares at the slideshow. The room is filled with the sound of teachers and other members from the Lakota Local School district technology department turning in their chairs to peek at the only radio teacher in the district. Hattersley continues his staring contest with the slideshow—and grins. “They could’ve just put ‘Hattersley’ up there,” says Hattersley, who finds out from a slideshow presentation in a staff meeting that he would not be working for Lakota next school year. “But when I walked into the meeting, I knew in the back of my mind that radio was still an elective.” After the meeting, Hattersley returns home to his two kids whom he takes care of with his mother, Teri. While his family is shocked by the news, Hattersley knows that the following Monday, he will have to walk through halls of East and run WLHS its radio station. The next morning, Hattersley has no problem strapping on flip-flops and heading to school. He says his experience in the music industry helps him emotionally with getting cut. In high school, when he first picked up a bass guitar and joined his friends in Silver Cross, Hattersley found himself performing covers of AC/DC, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Nirvana and other rock bands of the time. After being accepted into the electronic media program at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), he had to put down the guitar and pick up the books and learn

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about music from a different aspect. The next school day, however, Hattersley immediately returns to the groove of teaching his radio students. Currently, Hattersley pushes radio basics through hands-on bookwork in Radio I. He spends his first period at Lakota West teaching book-based classes, and then some of the upperclassmen in the radio program at Lakota West join Hattersley at East for his Radio II and III classes. “[Hattersley] always teaches with a good combination of work and fun,” says East sophomore Justin Smith, who is currently in Radio I. “He knows when to crack the whip.” During his Radio II and III classes, Hattersley lets his students learn on their own. His book knowledge from CCM helps him lead his Radio I classes, but the experience he gained during his college years outside of the classroom has helped him the most. Once Silver Cross split, Hattersley began to run the live sound for Milhaus, a band that had him working five nights a week as stage manager. With Milhaus, Hattersley went from small, local performances, to opening for Duran Duran and Eddie Money. “It was a pretty cool experience, being in college and meeting great artists,” says Hattersley, who went with Milhaus to performances across Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Michigan. “It was a lot of hard work, but didn’t feel like it because we were all kind of a family and I don’t regret it.”

After running Milhaus for five years, the band’s success and earnings began to decay. The group performed mostly covers with a few original songs on CDs, but they only sold a few thousand copies. Hattersly began to turn his back on the group to search for a more stable job. The turmoil and downfall of Milhaus was much like the situation Hattersley encountered when he began teaching at East in 1999. The radio program was not being funded and run properly and the district eventually intervened and moved the program from the Lakota West Freshman School to East. A friend of Hattersley, Greg Vatter, called him about an opportunity in the Lakota Local School District and told him that the radio position was open at East. Excited, Hattersley prepared himself for his first time running a radio program with high school students, until he first entered his classroom. “The technology was in complete disarray, but using what I learned at CCM, I created a five-year plan for the outdated and broken materials,” says Hattersley, who was just getting used to the change from analog to CD while at CCM. “The final phase was putting in the studio-totransmitter line over the summer so that our program was now on-par with commercial radio.” Now his students’ knowledge nearly surpasses his own in an increasingly more digital radio program, but his teaching experience in Cincinnati Public Schools helps him keep students on task when they do not do their live shows. “Teaching in Cincinnati provided good experience,” says Hattersley. “But I never had to break up any fights. I guess it helped being a big white dude.” This style of teaching correlates to Hattersley’s style in his first few years at East when he began revamping the radio program. The initial renovation Hattersley made was with the automation system, which allows songs to be played continuously over the radio without a person constantly monitoring it. Hattersley immediately swapped out the disc changer with a computer, a much more efficient medium for automation that allows for many more songs to be rotated. Helping Hattersley with the early change was East alumni Mitch Wyatt, who now owns a recording studio in Arizona and still keeps in contact with the radio teacher after taking his class in 2000. Also assisting Hattersley in the latter stages of his radio recovery program was East graduate Tyler McClure. “When I first came to East as a sophomore I was really shy,” says McClure, who is currently majoring in business at Xavier University, “[Hattersley] really helped me come out of my shell and forced me to talk to people.” In his 13th year at the helm of WLHS Radio, Hattersley is still influencing students and making improvements. The program now has three recording studios and holds over 8,000 albums that it received from various recording studios. When the radio program receives albums from recording studios, they are cataloged and added to the automation. If the song is played it is the responsibility of the music director, East senior Nate Lasley, to report what gets played to the College Music Journal, an independent rating system. “It’s cool because we know [Hattersley] knows what he’s doing because he worked in the industry and has real world experience, but he still lets us do it ourselves,” says Lasley, whose live show handle is The Captain. “Helping with recordings is a practical learning experience that has been very influential on what I want to become considering that I came into the program knowing nothing.” Hattersley’s real world experience comes in handy for

the radio students during the radio showcases and benefits, during which Hattersley helps set up sound and leads from a distance. When the radio program DJed a dance for kids with Spina bifida, Hattersley was there to help run sound and was always nearby to assist his students in gaining their own real-world experience. “He really made this thing his own,” says East senior Nathan Taylor, WLHS Assistant Sales Director. “He’s the guy behind the scenes that everyone fears and listens to. Whenever we have a problem with anything, [Hattersley] just comes in and fixes it by pushing a few buttons.” Hattersley’s knowledge outside the textbooks allowed him to retain his job for over a decade and survive the last large-scale cut scare before the most recent levy passed in 2005. But next year Hattersley’s program will be combined with other communication elements through Butler Tech in the form of a digital media class. Taylor and Lasley agree that the class will not feel the same without Hattersley’s relaxed and laid-back teaching style,because of the change Smith and several other sophomores will not be taking the class next year. Hattersley is also concerned with the fate of the program that he took 13 years to build. “I’m sure [radio] won’t get the proper attention it needs,” says Hattersley, who not told anything about the specific changes occurring next year. “The program won’t last.” Some Radio I students, including East sophomore Max Newman, attended the Butler Tech field trip in Kettering to learn about the digital media class being offered next year and is planning on taking the class to further his interest in the music industry. “I really liked Radio I, and I thought it was pretty interesting,” says Newman. “But [next year] I would rather have Hattersley.” The new teacher at the helm of the radio program next year will be former Talawanda High School teacher Joe Flynn. The decision to hire Flynn for the satellite radio program that willl be held at East was made by the Butler Tech Board of Education. Without the job as a Thunderhawk next year, Hattersley plans to continue his journey in the music industry. His prowess in the classroom has given Hattersley offers from various local bands, but none of them would be steady or timely enough for him to take care of his two kids. “I liked working at this level, and I liked watching the kids collaborate and learn that one person can’t do everything, says Hattersley. “It’s been a good experience and I realized I like working with these kids.” At this point, Hattersley is unsure what he will be doing to support his children after he leaves East for the final time when his contract expires in July. He says he will continue to work to get the program in tip-top shape before it is taken over by Butler Tech. Currently Hattersley has received offers running live sound for bands again, but he says he would not mind moving outside of music and expanding his knowledge outside of the industry he has built his life around since high school. “I have no complaints about my tenure at East, the district has been great to me,” says Hattersley. “It’s been fun building up this program and I love watching my kids become successful in anything that they do.” n

But I never had to break up any fights. I guess it helped being a big white dude.

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entertainment | column

“i’m not gay...

I just wanna boogie

an all-inclusive look at the corrupting influence of a hip-hop demigod. story faiz siddiqui

As a self-proclaimed aficionado of most things hip-hop, I’ve sat through hours of sex-related banter at the hands of Lil’ Wayne, hours of marijuana musings courtesy of Kid Cudi. And this was all after Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP. But recently, I stumbled upon something that not even my own trained ears could fathom. It was a music video featuring the only man who could ever don a Hawaiian t-shirt and ooze intimidation at the same time. His mere presence could have turned a jubilant daycare playgroup into a dejected bunch of sobbing toddlers. Because Tyler the Creator is vulgar. He uses an alien form of English that we normal people wish we could understand. He drops the f-bomb in ways we could never imagine. His music will make even the most bloodthirsty demonical wild children the slightest bit uncomfortable. And he’s not changing for anybody. Tyler’s true colors are best captured in his interview with Canadian celebrity-reporter “Nardwuar.” Accompanied by his right-hand man Hodgy Beats and his rap group Odd Future Tyler successfully dodges every question, beginning with the easiest. Having interviewed a few people myself, I can attest to the fact that most people, when asked to identify themselves, proceed to identify themselves. It’s protocol, really.

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Tyler the Creator shatters even this preconception. When Nardwuar expectedly asks the underground rapper “Who are you?” the response is, at the very least, unorthodox. “R. Kelly,” says the 19-year-old Los Angeles native who, aside from the just-urinated-on-underage-women-esque smirk on his face, shares little to no resemblance to famed closet dweller R. Kelly. No, Tyler the Creator won’t give anyone a straight answer. He’d rather create one. It’s in the name, after all. Nardwuar proceeds to shower the rapper with gifts ranging from bacon-scented soap to an Alan Tew album, both of which leave him ecstatic enough to ask the interviewer if he’s “with the feds.” Tyler clearly isn’t accustomed to receiving heartfelt and well-thought-out gifts. It’s more than safe to say that his parents never loved him. But above all, in spite of his constant display of profanity and vulgarity, his unwillingness to stray from his character, his lack of any moral value whatsoever, Tyler the Creator is downright entertaining. There’s nothing quite like hearing a nihilistic Los Angelite’s profanityridden dialogue with Jesus Christ of Nazareth himself. In an article about Odd Future, Frannie Kelley proclaims: “their music is alive —it punches you in the face. If you’re over forty, have kids and are white, they don’t like you.” And in this regard, she’s completely right. In fact, I’d be willing to take it further and say that they’ve probably never met suburban children. If they had, there’s no way they could go on producing the devilish brand of rap music that they’re introducing to the innocent ears of middle-class America. This is music that could instantly trigger the onset of puberty in a 12-year-old boy. Because once that prepubescent boy listens to “Yonkers,” all innocence is inevitably lost.


tyler, the creator

photo used with fair use

to some Marvin.” The YouTube hit inspired a bone-chilling video accompaniment in which the rapper ingests a giant cockroach sprawled across his hand over the spot conveniently labeled “kill.” The rapper then vomits profusely before continuing with his anti-mainstream diatribe, professing: “I’m not gay/I just wanna boogie to some Marvin,” in reference to the late Marvin Gaye. The video ends with Tyler hanging himself, kicking his feet around before coming to a lifeless rest. The symbolism here is obvious. Tyler hates mainstream music, but he can’t compete with it. So he suffers a tragic and unfortunate fate. Mainstream music is the death of him. Sure, he’s probably a societal threat. Sure his music is, at times, unbearable. Sure, he wishes he could stab Bruno Mars in his “g*ddamn” esophagus, but don’t we all? Maybe not. But a lot of us can agree that “Grenade” is a bigger embarrassment to America than any 13-year-old girl’s ode to the fifth day of the school week. And when Atlanta-based B.o.B. responded to the shots Tyler took at him in “Yonkers,” Tyler again surprised with his response. Instead of threatening to retrieve his glock and “smoke” B.o.B.’s ass, Tyler actually praised the Atlanta native’s diss track entitled “No Future,” a play on Odd Future. “I don’t think the ‘No Future’ song is even a diss,” Tyler says. “But I’ve never heard him spit like that. Took me by surprise, cus it’s tight.” The real shot was taken at “Airplanes” and “Love the Way You Lie” producer Alex Da Kid because the songs sounded so similar to one another. Tyler the Creator is just fed up with the mainstream sector producing and recycling the same stuff and branding it “good music.” And he’s a living protest of it. He’s not backing down whether we

like it or not. He’s utilizing pure, unadulterated, uncensored art in its true form, for its true purpose. And for that, he’s 100 times the artist that Bruno Mars will ever be. He’s grateful for the support too. Just a couple months ago, he reblogged three suburban shirt-andtie clad white kids’ video cover of his song “Sandwitches [sic]” adding “This. Is. Epic. [sic]” underneath. He didn’t care that they looked like three of Miami University’s preppiest fratboys; he was just glad that they were a part of the movement. Not that he has an established movement. He’s a loose cannon. But loose cannons are invariably the best entertainers (ask Charlie Sheen). Tyler the Creator is doing his thing, he’s doing what he does best and he’s not willing to compromise. This is art after all, and nobody accused Michaelangelo of corrupting the youth with his statue of overtly naked David. In a world where rap music is already struggling with its image, Tyler the Creator is a demagogue. And in a world where likening mainstream music to rap is comparing apples and oranges, Tyler the Creator is a metaphorical cantaloupe. And he’s out to get all of us. He’s out to destroy all of the suburban youth, myself included, with his demonic brand of music. I fell victim to it all when I found his album Bastard online. It was simple. It was catchy. It was free. It was art. And so I proceeded to download the bone-chilling compilation and subject myself to its corrupting influence. And in return, I pledged to do my part to tell the world about the mysterious, vulgar, talented artist known only by the pseudonym Tyler the Creator. Consider it my very own personal deal with the devil. n

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entertainment | feature


blue notes, blue wisp story victoria liang | photos dan turner

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o I didn’t expect the Blue Wisp to literally be blue. As I approached this establishment lodged in between the browns and grays of Broadway and Sycamore, not even the neighboring Trimble’s Bail Bonds (with the slogan “If you go to jail, don’t tremble! Call Trimble!”) could distract me from this big blue block of a building. A jazz club is supposed to be hidden away in an alley. It’s supposed to be the place you know about because you overheard a whisper from a man in a sequined fedora. It’s supposed to be the kind of place that I wouldn’t be allowed to enter, partially because I can’t snap my fingers and partially because getting rejected by Yale doesn’t make a good blues song. And yet here the Blue Wisp stands in all its gaudy glory, the kind that lets people like me in. Maybe it’s not what I expect, but it offers everything I need. Only the musicians and colorful mosaic of alcohol are illuminated. There are some Christmas lights strung up and a row of tealights on a table, but it’s mostly dark. Not in the seedy-speakeasy kind of way. It’s dark because you don’t want other senses distracting you from the swell of sound. There’s a pianist whose fingers dance across the keys, one second a frenetic Charleston and the next a graceful waltz. A drummer so engrossed in the music he appears to be an extension of his drumset. A tenor saxophonist who pours out a feverish melody. A bass player calmly plucks out lines that bubble up from beneath the frenzy. A sizable crowd observes from the darkness, nodding their heads, sipping martinis, chatting candidly, sitting silently as music engulfs them. But the impressive thing is that the performers are just kids, The Blue Wisp Young Lions. They’re just students and recent alumni from East, Lakota West and Fairfield High School who met through the All-State Jazz Ensemble, and yet they get a weekly gig, which is almost unheard of even for professional musicians. But they’re not just kids, not just amateurs, even though the exact composition

A diverse crowd enjoys the music inside the blue wisp on a saturday night.

of the ensemble varies from week to week and they never rehearse together before performing. They’re carrying on a genre mostly forgotten by our generation with a virtuosity that could make a professional insecure. By the warm yellows, reds and browns of the bar, there’s a beige display labeled The Big Band Times, meant to elicit nostalgia for the older patrons. There’s a subheading labeled “Remember when?” with a list of how common goods’ prices have changed from 1980 to 1990 and how different aspects of the place have changed. But there really aren’t many who would remember. Many are young couples, businessmen who’d torn down fliers in hotel lobbies, friends of performers who wanted a glimpse at how a burning passion can free a mere mortal from the cold Cincinnati evening. One grizzled man remembers. He sits as if in a trance, lost in the music, or maybe a different decade. His body has always been here, since 1979, when the Blue Wisp first opened as a bar and grille in O’Bryonville, OH. It didn’t have live jazz at first, just a jukebox. Once it added the live music, he knew he had to keep coming, so he followed the place from Brianville to Garfield Place to its present niche. It’s not until the musicians take a break that he wakes from his trance. He calls himself Sean Socrates, and then laughs when I say I don’t believe him. He laughs again when I ask why he’s been coming here for so long, a long and deep chuckle that shakes his ancient frame until his newsboy cap obscures his tired eyes. “Honey, I was into jazz before the Blue Wisp was into jazz.” The owner of the establishment sighs. He’s

Ed Felson, a New England Conservatory and University of Cincinnati (UC) Law School graduate and bass fiddler. “Don’t mind Sean. He’s out of his mind. We let him stay for free, give him a cup of coffee, but he’s out of his mind,” Felson fires out in rapid cadences, betraying a hint of sentimentalism from his otherwise shrewd demeanor. He takes me upstairs to his office, where piles of papers and demo tapes from artists around the world contrast sharply with the romantically dusky hues of the area below. It’s telling of the place’s integrity that the photo of Felson with Ryan Gosling when he came to Cincinnati doesn’t share a spot with the black and white photos of “Jazz Greats” on the wall by the entrance. Instead, it languishes on a desk with a billion other papers and CDs. Felson remembers that he still has to listen to that pile. He promises to listen to every artist who sends him a tape, maybe not all of it, which is more than most music industry big shots offer. It still doesn’t guarantee that contracted musicians will be grateful. “Sometimes, a musician will demand in their contract that I provide a private shower or dressing room. Or a fruit plate with grapefruit. There has to be the grapefruit. And I’ll take a red pen and cross these things out. We’re not Carnegie Hall,” he laughs. “We deal with a lot of personalities, a lot of artistes.” But for him, it’s just a fact of life. “I didn’t pick the Blue Wisp. It picked me. I was never meant for business. I was meant for music. My music background speaks for itself. Sure, I dabble in criminal defense and divorce

“Don’t mind Sean. He’s out of his mind. We let him stay for free, give him a cup of coffee, but he’s out of his mind.”

work when I have to.” It’s a heavy load for Felson. He looks and talks more like an investment banker working from a soulless skyscraper in New York City. But ever since he bought the place in November 2007 with some friends, he’s let the Blue Wisp consume him. Any less dedication and the place would fade into obscurity like the jazz clubs that only live on in cloudy memories of the baby boomer generation. It takes a certain cunning to prepare a club for the public a mere day after finalizing the purchase. It takes a certain aptitude to run the place with no experience in the field. And a certain tenacity to handle the stress and betrayal of internal theft. And the artistes. Always the artistes. One is sitting next to him, watching the crowd down below from a computer screen. He’s Wilbert Longmire, a bass guitarist who’s been playing for 60 years and is about to perform next. It was probably the sequined fedora that clued me in. “Hey, Ed, people are sitting in the seats reserved for people who’d bought their tickets ahead of time,” he complains. The place is becoming densely packed now, and the entrance is completely clogged up with people about to sit in the wrong seats. Felson sighs. It was probably Longmire’s job, or his stage manager’s job, but he goes down to handle the fiasco with the efficient authority he knows only he can dish out. Then, as Felson goes into crisis mode, it’s off to dinner with the band. For all their musical mastery, they’re still just kids, ribbing about one of them being Jewish, or another being a diabetic, or gasping, “WHAT? Cherry limeade?” They welcome me and other nonmembers who decided to join them, not as intruders or even observers, but as friends, sharing their amusing inside jokes. But ask any of them about their futures, and they’re not just playful teenagers anymore. “I know it’s unrealistic, hard to find a job, yeah, yeah. But they say you shouldn’t go into music unless you can’t picture yourself doing anything else. And that’s where I am now,” says Lakota West senior percussionist Brian Ellerman, showing a suddenly serious tone that shows a degree of certainty that would be unusual even in an adult, let alone a teenager. In its heyday, jazz was considered wild, free, a distinctly American invention, an embodiment of the spirit of the nation. And now for the general public, it’s been relegated to elevator music. Ask a typical teen what they listen to, and they’ll all tell you “everything but country or rap.” They never listen to jazz either, but they forget that it’s even a genre. What once burned as bright as a blue flame in the nation’s conscience is left as just a little wisp of smoke. But jazz is still alive in a little blue building between Broadway and Sycamore, in the blazerclad high school musicians, in the senile Sean Socrates, in the sequined Wilbert Longmire and in the practical and commanding Ed Felson. n

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entertainment | book review


Water For Elephants

publisher algonquin books cost $7.99 (paperback) pages 464

review victoria liang


f you want to sip champagne while pretending to appreciate classical music, you go to the symphony. If you want to discuss philosophical treatises like Catcher in the Rye, you go to an independent coffee shop. And if you don’t actually care about appearing cultured and just want to be entertained for a little bit, you go to the circus. Then when you realize that there aren’t many circuses out there, you realize you can get the same experience by reading Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. Minus the nagging fear that Stephen King was onto something about clowns when he wrote It. And King’s writing ability, too. Jacob Jankowski is ninety. Or ninety-three. He’s not so sure. He’s a remnant of a lost era. He holds memories of kids and grandkids, world wars and cold wars. But there’s really only a couple of months that matter. He had grown up alongside his veterinarian father and attended Cornell to follow in his footsteps, but this dream is shattered when both his parents are killed in a car accident, leaving Jacob with nothing. Before he takes his final exams to earn a Cornell veterinary degree, he walks out and jumps aboard a train to the circus. He soon finds himself as a veterinarian with The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a travelling circus that scavenges for unemployed acts and animals from other failing circuses in Great Depression-era America. It’s a vibrant subculture sitting on the fringe of society, full of its own rules, jargon and hierarchy. Sure, the exotic animals and brilliant feats seem glamorous to outsiders, but this is, after all, the Great Depression. Their leader Uncle Al runs the show with an iron fist, with no shortage of atrocities (less useful performers mysteriously “disappearing” in the middle of the night) nor shams (a dead hippopotamus being soaked in formaldehyde and then paraded around). But cutting corners just barely keeps them afloat, let alone soothe Uncle Al’s inferiority complex with the Ringling Brothers. Yet in the midst of the seedy showmen is Marlena, a horse trainer whom Jacob instantly falls for. But she is married to the animal trainer August, who alternates between periods of charismatic friendliness and irrational fury. It terrorizes Jacob, Marlena and the newest addition to The Benzini Brothers, a difficult-to-work-with elephant named Rosie. Jacob must find a way to survive the circus and then escape the circus with Marlena and Rosie before the entire production implodes under the economic pressures of the times.

The plot moves steadily forward, just like the Benzini Brothers circus, never lingering long enough on an event or a detail. It’s an endless bustle of activity. This makes the novel a quick, entertaining read, but I think Gruen forgot that if we’re picking up a 300-page book, we have longer attention spans than the demographic of small children real circuses cater to. A book set in such a decadent setting should probably rely more on vague preconceptions of what a circus would look like and the black and white photos accompanying each chapter. The characters are colorful, sure, but the only character with any semblance of depth is August, and well, he’s a bipolar paranoid schizophrenic. Yes, we are supposed sympathize with Rosie when she’s getting abused by August, but Jacob doesn’t even always show much interest in Rosie’s well-being until the end. Not that those passages are well-written enough to elicit any sort of emotional response. And the thread that supposedly pulls the entire plot together is Jacob’s everlasting love for Marlena, but we don’t really know why he loves her so much because we don’t really know anything about her other than that she’s pretty and good with horses. Her act does displays a lot of…endurance and flexibility. That apparently can make a college dropout stay with you for seventy years. I’ll have to remember that. Maybe Gruen had been secretly planning for her novel to get adapted into a movie. I suspected as much while reading it, considering the never-ending string of dramatic events and lack of plot depth. I would say that the exceptionally handsome and talented Christoph Waltz (of Inglourious Basterds fame) playing August would be the saving grace of the movie, but it makes the fact that Marlena even considers leaving him for Robert Pattinson’s character more unbelievable. But maybe Pattinson will learn to do more with his career than sculpt his hair into a perfectly crafted 80s-butch-punk-bandfrontwoman imitation and enrapture housewives and 12-year-old girls with low self-esteem. But the truth is, he doesn’t really need to for this movie to be enjoyable, just as the plot doesn’t need much depth for the book to be enjoyable. Yes, at its worst, it is a disposable novel so unprovocative that even book clubs filled with unemployed English majors would probably have a hard time finding things to discuss. But it is a disposable novel that only requires a few hours of your time and takes you to perhaps not the most spectacular show on earth, but a pretty fun one. n

“The only character with any semblance of depth is August, and well, he’s a bipolar paranoid schizophrenic.”

58 | Spark | April 15, 2011

59 | Spark |

sports | feature

College in

Canada Despite being undersized by volleyball standards, East senior Wes Meyer has a scrappy style of play which led him to the next level—and a different country. story jenn shafer l photos eric muenchen


lipboard in hand, the coach peruses the hardwood. Attending the tournament with his own club organization, he was not expecting to recruit for his college team until he saw number six playing on another court. Afterwards, the coach approached him. “How do you feel about playing volleyball in Canada?” he asked. Not many high school seniors would consider leaving the country for college. Another culture, different currency and a new system of government can be intimidating. But at the first club volleyball tournament of the year, East senior Wesley Meyer caught the eye of new University of Windsor head volleyball coach Shawn Lippert, who was immediately impressed. “He just happened to see Wesley play and he asked our club director, ‘Who’s that kid? Who’s number six?’” recalls Wes’ dad, Jeff Meyer. “He saw talent; he wasn’t wrapped up in height because Wesley’s not the tallest volleyball player. But he saw his jumping ability and his athleticism, and that is [the kind of player] he likes at [University of Windor.]” Lippert saw a drive in Wes that made him unforgettable. “He is that guy who is intense, and it becomes infectious,” says Lippert. “I want to bring that intensity to the team.” Four years ago, Wes took the road less traveled and tapped into his volleyball skills, abandoning mainstream sports he had played for years. “I was playing basketball and football, and by the time I got to high school, I was kind of burned out. I wanted to try something else,” says Wes. “I dropped basketball and football, and started playing volleyball. I don’t know what made me start, but I realized I was good.” His determination in the sport started with an experience at a Ball

60 | Spark | April 15, 2011

East senior Wesley Meyer has been recruited to play volleyball above the border.

State University volleyball camp, where he initially found himself out of his league. Thinking it was a beginners’ camp, his parents signed him up only to realize they had put him in the world of competitive volleyball. “We went to drop him off and we saw these kids out there hitting and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, he is going to get crushed; he’s just going to quit.’ A lot of kids would [have],” says Jeff. “But to Wes, that just gave him a drive that, ‘I can be good at this sport, I want to be good at this sport, and I know I have to work to get better.’ That’s what his club coaches and club directors have said—that they have never seen a kid work so hard to improve.” In the fall of his freshman year, Wes started his volleyball career at Cincinnati Attack Volleyball Club. By the spring, Wes was playing on the East varsity boys’ volleyball team and now helps to lead the team. “He is the most experienced player we have,” says East varsity boys’ volleyball coach Faber Fields. “He has a lot of talent and leadership.” Wes has talent, but it was his work ethic that made him a successful volleyball player. Standing at 6 feet and 2 inches, Wes is still considered fairly short for volleyball. Nevertheless, Wes played middle for three years and considers “getting the block,” with his 42-inch vertical jump, the best thing about volleyball. His strong versatility helps him lead by example and influences his team positively. “I think he has become more of a leader,” says Jeff. “The respect he earned as an athlete and his accomplishments have provided him with a little more confidence. In basketball, he was shorter [as well], so he had to prove himself. He brought that same attitude to volleyball.” The scrappy attitude Wes brought to volleyball has enabled him to

become a leader on the East team and Vanguard Volleyball Club, his club team that is exclusively for males. Being the best team in the region and being ranked in the top 10 nationally does not come easily. “I think what I brought to the team this year was a winning attitude,” says Wes. “A lot of guys didn’t have a lot of experience in winning, and when they were getting beat they would just lie down and get beat. I brought the winning attitude that we’re the best and we can do anything if we put our minds to it.” Because Vanguard Volleyball Club is in Columbus, OH, Wes has to travel 90 minutes to practice twice a week. For Saturday practices, the team tends to extend the visit to make time for team bonding. “We’re all clustered together and never separated at a tournament,” says Wes. “We’re always together no matter where we go. If one person goes to the bathroom, everyone goes. We’re a team. Before a game, we all huddle and make jokes and rip on the other team, listen to music, have a good time. But when we get on the court, it’s game time.” The upbeat attitude helps bring the team together and build confidence, while never losing their concentration. “Wes has an exceptionally strong work ethic.  He brings focus and intensity,” says Vanguard coach Jeff Miller. “Wes is able to be competitive and intense and still have fun.  His attitude is contagious and a positive influence on teammates, coaches and parents.” By signing his letter of intent, Wes will become the first player from Vanguard to take his talents up North and play at the international level. He will also be the first American male to play volleyball for the University of Windsor in Canada. Deciding to play at Windsor, however, was not an easy decision. The recruiting process was a long, balancing act. But when this opportunity arose, the pieces seemed to fall into place. “It was a perfect match,” says Wes’ mom, Dorothea Meyer. “Throughout the process, you need to balance the athletic side with the academics. ” Universities in Canada are known for academic specialization. The University of Windsor focuses on teaching and human kinetics. [Those are] areas that interest Wes. He was in Teacher’s Academy his junior year, and is interested in being a teacher later in life. The area of bigger interest to Wes, however, is kinesiology, as he is interested in a career in physical therapy or athletic training. “I love helping people. I love being around sports,” says Wes. “Even in school, when I took anatomy and sports medicine, I fell in love with that stuff. It came easily to me.” Because there are no scholarships in Canada, Wes received 75 percent of his tuition in grant money, with 25 percent of that for athletics. Before entering high school, students are tested in eighth grade to determine which high school they will attend, which will prepare them for a two-year college, four-year college or the work force. “Here we have the honors track and college prep track, but [students] all go to the same high school together. [In Canada, high schools] segregate them,” says Dorothea. “Here, it’s education for everyone. There, [students] earn the right, so you’re not a burden on the socialist system.” The program Wes will be entering is more rigorous because it assumes that students have already taken honors courses. Before Wes was accepted, Wes had to show his transcript to provide proof of what courses he has taken and his biology classes. Attending a college outside of the United States will allow Wes to

“His attitude is contagious and a positive influence on teammates, coaches and parents.”

Meyer attempts to bump the ball during practice.

gain experience with the different culture and government programs. The U.S. is very different from other nations in its set-up, and with globalization, it helps to understand how other countries operate. With five years of eligibility to play volleyball, Wes will not be redshirted the first year like many other college athletes. Instead, he will be able to play and improve for a full five years. During this time, he will have the opportunity to earn two degrees, either two bachelor’s degree or a bachelor’s degree and a tentative Master’s degree. While living at Windsor, Wes will be staying in a volleyball house set aside for the players at the university. As part of the recruiting process, the Meyers were able to spend a weekend at the college. “The coach did a fantastic job. [Wes] was able to meet the faculty and the dean of the college of kinesiology,” says Jeff. “He was able to fraternize with the kids at the school and the team and was allowed to practice with the team.” The caliber of play was right on target with the schools Wes was also considering. Playing with the Vanguard Volleyball club has helped prepare Wes to face the greater amount of intensity in college ball. “He’s got a killer instinct and loves to play the game aggressively,” says Lippert. “He’s the guy to get the job done.” Wes has impressed multiple people with his ability to play the game, but his athletics alone have not brought him thus far. “There are a lot of really good athletes out there. The thing that separates the outstanding athlete from the rest of the crowd is attitude,” says Miller. “Wes maintains a healthy balance between his drive and competitive nature and enjoyment of the game.  He is a selfless player that relishes the success of his teammates as much as he does his own.  I have really enjoyed having him on the team.” Wes’ parents also attribute Wes’ success to his attitude and his determination to follow through with something he loves. “His work ethic is really what brought him to this point,” says Jeff. “His younger brother is kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum; we have to push him all the time. With Wesley, we had to hold him back because he just wants to learn and he wants to be better.” According to Miller, the University of Windsor is lucky to have Wes as a player because he is a great example of what can be achieved when you are willing to put in the effort. “He has been a joy to work with,” says Miller. “My only regret is that I would have liked to have been his coach for more than one year.” n

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sports | opinion

Devin Casey Recreational Intensity SPORTSOPINION

Underneath a dimly-lit YMCA spotlight, several young academics prove that competitive basketball is truly not rocket science.


e arrived at Milford Elementary 45 minutes before tipoff. Watching the elementary students in the game before us, we joked that we should recruit their tallest player and have him start for our high school recreational basketball team. The other team arrived wearing short shorts that were the standard for college athletes before we were born. Milford’s recreational team had two things that we lacked—height and girlfriends. Theirs giggled at the sight of their boyfriends’ shorts but laughed when we sent a 5-foot-8inch Chinese athlete to jump for the jump ball. The first quarter was ours: 15-9. For the first time all season we were winning. For the first time all season the other team took us seriously and did not jump off each other’s backs to try to dunk or see if everyone on the team can score double digits. By the fourth quarter, that had changed. To turn the team around in a single season, I needed to be Domino’s. I needed to broadcast a promised change. Unlike Domino’s, the change we needed would be going from fried rice to deep dish pizza. A month before our battle with Milford, we were deadlocked with a Sycamore team. When I wiped the sweat off my forehead and turned to my teammates, I could not promise them that change would be coming. I could not promise that the 0-21 deficit at the end of the first quarter was surmountable. I could not tell them to look at the scoreboard and guarantee that the tables would be turned before halftime. I could not make our streak of five straight 30-point losses disappear. While shaking hands with the other team, we found out that three of their players used to play for their high school team—until they were expelled. We said that one of our tallest players had to go to District XIII Honor Band and could not play. When we saw half the team being driven from the game in a local police car a mere 15 minutes after the final buzzer, we drew our own conclusions. As the captain of a recreational basketball team that plays throughout the Cincinnati area, I could only make sure no one hung their heads as we sweat out a 31-74 beating. As we piled into my 2000 off-gray Honda after the game, no one was spiking his inhaler. Once the Sycamore team had entered the court, we knew that our losing streak would not be broken that night. After shaking off another grueling loss, I prepared myself for the next set of delinquents to stomp us on the hardwood. Filling in the lineup for next week’s game was a chore in itself. Our starting point guard had an interview with Harvard. The starting shooting guard would miss both games that weekend because the Junior Statesmen of America were going to Washington D.C. for Winter Congress. To make things worse, I would not be able to make it to basketball practice for the next few weeks because my mock trial team had practice on the same night. The first time we took our makeshift team to the court we were warmly greeted with maniacal laughter. Four of the starting five, wearing

red shirts with white sharpie written numbers, happen to also be in the top 25 of their class at East. It must have looked like we were asking for help because our bus broke down on the way to the chess state finals. No bus broke down. We assured the other team we were here to play basketball, although it did not look like that in a 10-50 drubbing. Nobody believed we could win a game, even our coach, who fits the mold of our team as a financial analyst at an insurance company in downtown Cincinnati. I could not blame him. With college visits, jazz band concerts and debate team conventions, one could not expect this team to outplay anyone. Three of our players missed the second game of the 10-game season for a robotics competition. Two of those players had already missed the first game for a physics competition. One player is a valedictorian and has earned full tuition to Vanderbilt. Two other players also play for their church basketball team. The rest of the team has spent the same amount of days on the court as they have on dates. No one needed this team, but everyone played as if Division I scouts packed the stands at recreational centers and YMCAs across Cincinnati. Band geeks do not become all-stars because they go to practice. Mediocrity is what made this team exciting. I could not promise that we would win or even have a single digit loss. All I could do was smile and continue to motivate a team that never looked at the scoreboard. Playing against the short-shorts-clad athletes, we could not help but stare at the scoreboard like a student in calculus class. The shortshorts-wearing athletes came within two points of us with eight seconds remaining in the game. They were making every shot and could outlast us if there was any clock left for them to milk. Their girlfriends had already left and the stands were empty. No one had money on this game and the other team, with a 1-6 record, was not looking to clinch any title. But if you looked at the faces of our team, you would think we were seconds away from winning the Science Olympiad. Trying to regain possession, the other team had begun to use a full court press. As we tried to inbound the ball past the quicker and taller players, one defender touched the ball before it was put in play—a technical foul. Given two free throws, we sent to the line a player whose 4.11 grade point average was higher than his 3.2 points per game average. The first free throw bounced off the backboard and came straight back to him. The second looked uglier as it left his hands but banked in off the glass. Fists pumped from the bench to the hardwood as we ran out the clock en route to a 38-35 victory. Our mere presence on the court was laughable, but what we did as a team to foster even one win was incredible. My teammates agree that our one moment of glory on the hardwood was better than any A, any 34 on the ACT, any conference win for the Academic Quiz Team. The next day we lost a nail-biter to Mason. Looking back, the game was a lot closer than it seemed. We lost 16-60. n

Band geeks do not “become all-stars because they go to practice... ”

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sports | inside east

Leading off into the


East senior JD Whetsel will be playing baseball for Cornell University next season in hopes of going from the Ivy League to the Major Leagues. Whetsel has plans of continuing his prowess on the diamond in college.


eel, banana, peel, peel banana.

Peel down the right. Peel down the left. Peel down the middle and, whoo, take a bite. I say, go bananas! Go, go bananas! I say, go bananas! Go, go bananas!” Sitting in the bleachers of a school in Tippecanoe, OH, a rowdy group of East seniors cheers on the Lady Thunderhawks in the Girls’ Basketball state championship. Among the crowd of black and white, East senior and varsity baseball shortstop JD Whetsel hollers from the sidelines in a show of school spirit rarely demonstrated at baseball games. “I remember that as a sophomore, our girls’ teams were really bad; they never got any wins. But to see them turn it all around like this and see them get this far is really cool,” says Whetsel. “In big games, we sometimes get a good crowd, but [high school] baseball really doesn’t have a fan base. That is partially because baseball isn’t a sport where you can stand up and cheer a lot or get really excited.” Since his sophomore year on East’s varsity baseball team, Whetsel has assumed the role of a team leader alongside teammates and East seniors Jesse Rait and Mitch Geers. “Now that I am an upperclassman, it is totally different. Coach comes to us with questions about the team, and he counts on us to bring the team together,” says Whetsel, who also plays select ball in the summer for the Cincinnati Flames along with Rait and Geers. “We have to really work hard because we are going to be hitting at the top of the line-up and playing all of the positions that everybody is counting on. People are going to look to us to work hard and set a good pace.” Watching his team succeed last year as a junior, Whetsel learned the

64 | Spark | April 15, 2011

story alyssa davis l photos eric muenchen

demands required of a senior leader on the varsity baseball team. “Last year, we had such a good group of seniors, and they made sure that the team chemistry was great and that everything clicked and gelled for the team,” says Whetsel. “Now this year, it has been our job to do that same thing.” One of the senior leaders that Whetsel tries to emulate is East alumni and Miami University freshman Andrew Wills, who ranked first in runs batted in (RBI) last year in the Greater Miami Conference (GMC). Wills says that true leadership consists of creating a united team. “It needs to be a family, in a sense, where everybody supports each other and personal quarrels are set aside. Everyone should be supportive, no matter his age or his grade,” says Wills. “Leading by example is a big thing. It is all about attitude, no matter the outcome or how the game is going; you have to keep your head up. As a senior or upperclassman leader, everyone’s eyes are on you.” That senior leadership translated to the Thunderhawks’ GMC championship win last season with a 15-3 regular season record. Whetsel, along with his teammates, attributes that success to the great leadership from the seniors. “We had never really been successful until last year; [East students] weren’t really expecting us to be very good. But we had really good leaders so we got to see that role prior to becoming a leader. I definitely think that that helped,” says Rait, who will play baseball for Miami University next year. “Before, we were more of followers. To develop into a good leader, you have to have good leaders ahead of you.” The three senior leaders all believe that this year’s team has a shot at

Whetsel successfully steals third base during a 3-1 victory over Mason on March 31.

winning the GMC tournament again. East baseball coach Ray Hamilton agrees. Having coached for 12 years at East, Hamilton has been able to watch his players grow both in ability and experience. “Physically, the guys have grown into young men [during their years in high school],” says Hamilton. “But they have also grown experiencewise, the way they carry themselves, the expectation of their own abilities and the expectations of their team. They have turned into great people.” Hamilton says that Whetsel, Rait and Geers are all great leaders on the baseball team, and have learned to lead through their experience on the team over the last few years. “[Leadership] is about experience. They understand how to do things and how to go about things the right way, the way that is expected,” says Hamilton. “They know what has to be done in order to get where we need to go. Their leadership helps on a day-to-day basis with what we do.” As a leader of the team, Whetsel is expected to unite the team both on and off the field. Whetsel takes his job seriously, whether that involves packing up the team and heading to the girls’ basketball game in Tippecanoe, OH or trekking to JD Stackers every Wednesday for 50 cent wing night. “We have to organize all of the team bonding and get the team together outside of baseball so that everyone gets to know each other and is comfortable,” says Whetsel. “We have to make sure that everybody trusts each other.” Last year, while the team was having a routine post-Saturday practice McDonald’s run, Whetsel was put up to talk to a “really cute girl” by his teammates. “After she walked out to her car, everyone was saying, ‘Someone should go get her number.’ So I got up, and I don’t know why I did it because I don’t usually do things like that, but I followed her to her car and introduced myself. I asked her for her number,” says Whetsel. “She looked like an 18-year-old at the most, but she looked at me and said, ‘I am 25. I am married.’ So I walked back into the restaurant and I was really quiet. Everybody was waiting to hear how it went. So I said, ‘She was married.’ Everybody just lost it and went absolutely crazy.” Whetsel and the team are not strangers to camaraderie, spending time together outside of games and practices. This time, according to Whetsel, is an important part of being a team leader. Dave Whetsel, JD’s father, says that baseball has taught his son to listen and learn to become a “solid teammate.” Dave, who says that his son was swinging a bat when he was two years old, believes that baseball will aid JD in his future. “Even as a little guy, he was passionate about baseball, playing in the backyard every day that weather allowed and playing whiffle ball in the basement through the winter,” says Dave, to whom JD attributes his love for baseball. “When we would play baseball in the backyard, I would rarely throw the ball directly to him and I never gave him the perfect pitches to hit. I really wanted to challenge his athletic ability at a very

young age so that it would all come very naturally to him. later in life” This natural talent led JD to be ranked fourth in the GMC for his batting average of 0.457, and eighth for RBIs with a total of 32 last year. This record allowed JD to sign with Cornell University to play baseball. “A Cornell recruiter saw JD play during a summer tournament in Cleveland and started pursuing him immediately. Coach Hamilton was a great help, giving JD a good recommendation and answering our questions about the many do’s and don’ts of recruiting,” says Dave. “Cornell had quite a few more requirements to be accepted than I had realized, so JD was again in a situation where he had to work a little harder than most to get the job done.” At Cornell, JD will study Hotel Administration and Real Estate. JD says that Cornell’s “claim to fame” is its Hotel Administration degree and that he plans to one day be managing and working in tourism, casinos, hotels and resorts. Though he is sure of his commitment to Cornell, JD was recruited to other schools as well. “Tiffin University recruited me pretty hard, and I took an official visit up there. I was also in contact with Xavier because they came to my games. But I committed so early to Cornell, in November, I did not have a lot of time to pursue any schools around here. Cornell gave me two weeks’ notice,” says JD. “It was make or break time. I just had to make a decision and go with it.” But JD’s college decision was not his coach’s prime concern. Hamilton simply wants to see JD, like all his other players, where they belong and becoming successful. “I learned a valuable “It needs to be a family lesson a long time ago. If in a sense, where a kid wants to go play, I think it is my responsibility everybody supports to find a place for that each other and personal kid to go and play,” says quarrels are set aside.” Hamilton. “For me, I don’t care if [the college] is Cornell, like for JD, or if he goes to Miami Hamilton. The ultimate goal is for the kid to walk out of that institution with a degree so that he can do what he has to do [in life].” On the other hand, Dave is ecstatic because of his son’s decision to go to an Ivy League school. He says that JD’s experience will help him in all “future endeavors,” both personal and professional. “As a parent you are always hoping to see your child thrive and succeed doing what makes him happiest,” says Dave, who also played baseball in high school and was recruited by Ohio University. “Seeing JD recruited and accepted early decision to an Ivy League school to play baseball is even better than what I had imagined for him. It’s a father’s dream.” Wills also believes that JD will do well in college because of his talent for the game and for his natural abilities as a leader.

65 | Spark |

sports | inside east “JD is going to do really well [at Cornell] and impact its program immediately,” says Wills. “He has a great work ethic—he is always trying to get better. But more importantly, he is a great teammate. He is very supportive and encouraging to all the guys. He is one of those guys that you can’t replace in the dugout.” JD says that Wills’ leadership during the 2010 season will affect how he leads the team this year, as well as how he will play while in college. “The work ethic and everything else that you have to do in order to play at the college level will be helped by my leadership this year,” says JD. “But more than anything I think that it will help me respect the upperclassmen when I get to college because I know where they are coming from. I will have been in that position before. It will make it easier for me to fit in as far as the whole team picture.” After scouting and interviewing JD, Cornell recruited the senior as a shortstop but could play him as a second baseman as well. Though JD signed with the school on Feb. 4, there is no promise of play time in his freshman year. “Playing time in college totally depends on what [the college] needs, what players were drafted and what positions [the team] has opening up,” says JD. “It also depends on how well you perform when you get up to the school in the fall. I will be looking to at least get into the line-up every now and then.” JD says that playing ball in college may even lead him to a career in the sport. “If I can put together a few good years in college, they will put me in a league on the East Coast like the Cape Cod League to play ball during the summer. If you can go to those leagues during the summer and play really well, then you have a better chance of being drafted,” says JD. “But playing minor league ball and playing major league baseball are totally different things. Thousands of guys go to the minors and never make it to the majors. But if I get drafted, I would totally give it a shot.” JD’s success in sports is not limited to baseball. He also played varsity football for East as a running back and kick returner. Though playing football in college “never crossed [his] mind,” JD was recruited by some small schools to play. Despite scoring two touchdowns for the Hawks his junior year, he says that there was a possibility that he would not return to the gridiron for his senior year. “I considered quitting football all summer, and I had schools looking at me for baseball. Obviously, football is one of those sports where you can blow out a knee any game, and then your whole season is over and you need surgery,” says JD. “I had friends, coaches and everybody tell me not to play, but I decided to play anyway and I did not regret it at all. I am glad I stuck with it.” His love for football may have kept him playing for East’s team this year, but JD’s true passion lies with baseball, despite essential differences between the two sports. “Football is a much more intense power sport. It is really easy to get jacked-up,” says JD. “Baseball is more of a mental finesse type of game, but I prefer to play baseball without a doubt.” Even though JD loves the sport, he may not pursue a future in baseball. His family and coach, however, still know that baseball will have taught him the lessons that he needs to know in order to do well in life. “I think that the lessons that we teach here are the same ones that you need to be a successful adult. You have to be on time, you have to be responsible, you have to be dependable, you have to be courteous,” says Hamilton. “They have to learn to be respectful of everyone they deal with on a day-to-day basis, and the way we go about things carries over into their everyday lives.”

“Thousands of guys go to the minors and never make it to the majors. But if I got drafted, I would totally give it a shot.”

66 | Spark | April 15, 2011

Whetsel and the East varsity baseball team congregate on the mound.

JD says that his leadership skills have taught him how to lead both on the baseball diamond and in the business world. “As he started to play organized baseball, he was almost always the youngest player on the team, so he learned early on to work hard and never slack off,” says Dave of his son, who began to play T-ball at the age of five. “High school and summer baseball are demanding on a student athlete; it requires learning to prioritize time. [Getting] out of bed early for hitting before school starts, practice after school and games during the week and on weekends leaves little time for socializing or getting a job. Your baseball time becomes your social time and you build a very strong bond with your teammates and coaches.” Morning practices require all the baseball players to start their day at school around 5:30 a.m. “Morning practice is a two-fold deal because it allows us time in order to get our off-season hitting practice done,” says Hamilton who begins his work for the practices at 4:45 a.m. “At the same time, it eliminates the kids that aren’t totally committed to what we are trying to do.” Being dedicated enough to attend morning practices is one of the ways that the senior varsity players lead by example. Not only do they encourage bonding after games and practices, but they also devote time to building the team. “It is our job to be vocal and make sure that the team morale never gets down. We always keep everyone excited and ready to go all the time,” says Rait. “We make sure that no one is slacking off and that everyone is working hard at all times.” Geers, who will play baseball next year for Marietta College, believes the Thunderhawks will go farther this year than previous years. Rait agrees, citing the team’s depth of pitching. But even if the team does not advance far in the GMC tournament, there will still be the games, like JD’s favorite game from the 2009-10 season against Oak Hills. “One, two, three, go East!” As the players put their heads together before the game, they know that it is important. It is the last game of the season. The bases are loaded and East is up by just one run. To win the game, the pitcher swiftly mows down the next three batters, striking them out to win the game. “The game was special because we were trying to win the league. We came in so close, but winning really energized the whole team,” says JD. His performance during last year’s season even garnered attention from rival coaches. “I respect the way [JD] plays the game,” says Lakota West varsity baseball coach Bill Dreisbach. “A coach can always appreciate those kind of players.” 



Throwing a Curveball

story evan hills east boys’ baseball (as told to michael sell) photo eric muenchen

Get a Grip “To grip the ball, I place my pointer and middle finger slightly above the seams with the thumb directly below.”

Change it Up “When I throw a curveball, I like to mix up my arm slots to give the ball different movements. I can throw from over the top or sidearm.”

It’s All in the Wrist “Just before the ball leaves my hand, I flick my wrist. It’s just like opening a locker.”

Plan Your Pitches “I enjoy making the first pitch a curveball because batters learn to never swing at first pitch curves. I use this to my advantage.”

Recognize the Opposition “To a right-handed batter, the ball should curve away from them. And to a left-handed batter, the ball should curve toward them.”

Finish “The last step is when everything falls into play. If my curve is ‘nasty,’ it usually is my strike-out pitch. I enjoy watching batters’ faces after throwing a really good curveball.”

Ice the Arm “It is always good to ice and run after throwing to keep the arm healthy and ready for another Greater Miami Conference Championship.”

Keep Practicing “The curveball takes time to learn, and since I was little, I practiced it all the time. I have taken lessons to help my pitching, and it has all paid off completely.”

67 | Spark |

sports | hawk culture

Hawk Briefs

Track and Field


eniors James Scott and Stephen Sensel warm p during practice before the Fairfield Invitational.

photo eric muenchen

as difficult with the team’s history. Last year, they finished the season with an 8-1 record and placed second in the GMC tournament. “We have some high quality competition this year,” said East senior varsity second singles player Freddy Abunku. Abunku and East junior Zach Mueck are returning leaders on the team. Abunku has been a state qualifier in the past, and Mueck came in second during state last year in the singles competition. “He is back there leading the lineup at the very top,” said East boys’ tennis coach Greg Mahlerwein. “We have the toughest schedule I have ever put together this year, and this team is up for that.” n —Alex Griffin ast track and field coach John Lindeman wants to have a full bus. June 3 is when the track team hopes to travel to this year’s State Championship track meet. “Last year we took a busload up to regionals, and we only took one [student] to state,” said Lindeman. “This year I want to take a busload of athletes up to state.” Lindeman is not the only one with high aspirations for this season. East sophomore Matt Rice attests that a successful state tournament is one of the team’s ultimate goals. “We’re putting in a lot of hard work, and we have been for awhile,” said distance specialist Rice. “I think we have a strong possibility of going to state this year.”

Boys’ Tennis

East junior Mitch Noufer sets up to hit a backhand during varsity tennis practice.

Lindeman also believes that the team is capable of performing better in the GMC championships this year. “Hopefully we can do better than [placing] sixth or seventh like last year. I’m hoping to [place] in the top four or five,” he said. East sophomore Ben Miller also sees solid improvements over last season, in part due to the Lakota Local School District’s new pay-toplay policy, which increased to $300. “Last year there was nothing too shiny, nothing too shabby,” said Miller, who runs the 800 and 1600-meter. “But pay-to-play has narrowed the team down to the most dedicated athletes. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.” n —Zach Fulciniti


A look into the lives of East athletes


infographic drew souders




Smashburger or Five Guys?







Will the Reds Make the Playoffs?







Charlie Sheen is...







Spring Break Destination?







Does Ochocinco have a career in Major League Soccer?









SOFTBALL — Sara Pearson first in strikeouts


BOYS’ VOLLEYBALL — Wesley Meyer first in kills per game

photo nugeen aftab


ractice starts with their “sexy” playboy warm up stretch: one, two, three, all the way up to 10 seconds. Every week, the East boys’ tennis team stretches with humor and enthusiasm. “Whenever we do warm up laps, the varsity players throw tennis balls at us when we run,” said East junior varsity player Rico Carmichael. “At first, I thought they were jerks, but it was more of a way of welcoming us to the team.” Though the team bonds both on and off the court, the boys also know how to snap into a serious mindset for their matches. As of press time, the undefeated boys’ tennis team is favored in the Greater Miami Conference (GMC) to take home another title. Achieving the team’s goal should not be

opinion | column

Tommy behan

I’m a winner too


contact tommy at

In my childhood dreams, I was a rock star. I made millions every gig. I flew from city to city on our tour that made other tours hang their heads in shame. When the private jet I landed and I stepped on the runway, even more screaming fans blinded me in a lightning storm of flash photography. Needless to say, I was successful. Being a rock star was difficult, but I reaped the rewards. I was raised with the mentality that hard work would lead to great accomplishment. But I was a mere child. I could not possibly have known the truth about such false hopes. I had about a one in a million chance of becoming a guitar-smashing rock star. What I have come to realize is that there are easier and much more guaranteed ways of becoming successful. In my infinite wisdom and experience, I have deduced the secret path to making millions and living the good life. I would not have to commit to school anymore. I would not have to kill myself with honors and Advanced Placement classes. No more community service. No more Honor Roll. No more homework. All I would have to do is capture the star spotlight and parade around on television while seeming 110 percent blazed. With excessive alcohol, model girlfriends and incoherent rambling, I will invent a new recipe for fame. I will call it “Tiger’s Blood.” Enter Charlie Sheen, my role model. Sheen once said, “I am on a drug; it’s called Charlie Sheen.” He was wrong. Charlie Sheen is not on Charlie Sheen (although he’s on much more than that). America is on Charlie Sheen, and it will “melt America’s face off as our children weep over our exploded bodies.” Soon-to-be orphans and parents alike are being lured into the rusty white van that Charlie Sheen drives. But they cannot be blamed. There really is nothing more satisfying than sitting down with the family to watch Entertainment Tonight with Sheen’s now near-daily interviews. A family really can bond well when they see a man destroy himself bit by bit. There is not possibly a better way to spend an evening. Take my family for instance. My father and I once had a father-son moment while watching Sheen on television. The way he raised his boys Bob and Max literally inspired my father. Prior to watching the enlightening interviews, my father and I had a more “master-servant” relationship. Since then, our relationship has become more “warlock-magician’s apprentice” and I’ve never been treated better. Both my father and mother wholeheartedly pledged their support and funds to my aspirations of fame Charlie Sheen-style. Their first step in helping me reach the pinnacle of human success was by purchasing us all tickets to Sheen’s tour across America (thank goodness we got them within five minutes because they were sold out in 18). We will see Sheen live to soak in all of the splendor. I cannot

fathom a better way to spend a Friday night. Sheen is the only source of entertainment, especially in his striking treatment of women. Although hard to imagine, there were things before Charlie Sheen. The 60s had Jim Morrison of “The Doors” as their resident Charlie Sheen. The 80s had Tanya Harting. The 90s had Mike Tyson. Now Charlie Sheen is the Charlie Sheen. The difference between the four, however, is that America and the media worship him. I mean, when he is able to receive nearly nine million hits on Youtube from just one Good Morning America interview, someone has got to be making some money. Maybe it’s Sheen himself. After all, as CBS paid him $2 million for every episode of Two and a Half Men, the most any TV star has ever been paid, he might be going hungry soon. Porn stars are expensive—especially when they come in pairs. But Sheen stays true to himself. Both in real life and in his former hit TV show, Sheen stays spot on to his orange and black, tiger-striped colors. What pure glory! To have the same personality on-screen and off-screen and get paid millions of dollars per episode would be the dream. It would be no harder than memorizing a few lines for a test. If it were me, I would even ask for a raise, to say $3 million per episode because “I’ve got magic. I’ve got poetry in my fingertips.” Now I know I don’t have to be a rock star to tour across the country and be successful. Sheen may appear to be a raving lunatic, but he has the making of being possibly the most brilliant inebriated man ever to walk the planet. He has caught a monster even bigger than Hemingway’s marlin. He has caught America, and just like the Old Man, he will not give up. He will fight the marlin even after the sharks have eaten it. He is relentless. Deep down, Sheen knows what America wants, and America is continually taking the bait, hook, line and sinker. Like Hemingway’s hero and New York’s baseball legend’s Joe DiMaggio, Sheen apparently is a big baseball guy. He plays out his life just like the game, except that he will not play with an umpire. He will not stop rounding the bases. He will not stop spitting tobacco at the fans. He will not stop bi-winning. He will not lose. And he most certainly will not strike out. “I’m zero for three...Being a ballplayer, I believe in numbers. I’m not going zero for four.” That’s great for Charlie. And it’s OK. Even though most people strike out when they go zero for three, Sheen gets four strikes. America will make an exception for him. America always makes an exception for him. Meanwhile, I am left in the slums of measly childish fantasies. Dreaming of rock stars is certainly naïve. But dreaming of drunkards is bliss. n

“America is on Charlie Sheen, and it will melt America’s face off as our children weep over our exploded bodies.”

69 | Spark |

opinion | column

SCott koenig Klansman’s plates


contact scott at

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a self-educated real estate investor, a revered leader during the civil War and a respected advocate for the South in the reconstruction years. He was one of the few soldiers to enter the war in 1861 as a private and be promoted to general officer by early 1865. There were soldiers on both sides of the war who said he had a natural gift for battle strategy. But Nathan Bedford Forrest also owned other human beings. He was a slave trader who once served as the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). And yet, the Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans have proposed the creation of license plates commemorating Forrest, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, or as the organization calls it, the “War Between the States.” In Mississippi, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons (NAACP) is launching a campaign to counter the proposed license plate that would honor Forrest. When the NAACP asked Gov. Haley Barbour to denounce the proposed plate, the sevenyear governor refused. Even though he would not denounce the plates, Barbour said that he doubts that the plates will become anything but an idea. “I know there’s not a chance it’ll become law,” said Barbour. If Barbour avoids denouncing the plates, however, there is no chance that he will pick up any speed in his 2012 presidential campaign. He wants to become president, yet he refuses to acknowledge that honoring a bigot is repugnant. Forrest was a Civil War hero, but the fact that he believed that one race of people was superior over another renders him unworthy of governmental praise. One of the tasks of a politician is to take a strong stance on every issue. Whether with a controversial national issue like defense spending, a state issue like educational funding or even a disputed local issue like the license plates honoring a KKK leader, a true leader will make a decision and stick with it. Barbour has stuck with nothing but discouraging uncertainty. A presidential candidate must also make very meticulous choices when carrying out his or her campaign. Any picture, video or quote can come back to haunt those in pursuit of a government position. If Barbour really believes that this issue is trivial, then he may be in for a very unpleasant surprise during his future campaign. This is the type of material that can and will end up on attack ads. I can see it now: “Gov. Haley Barbour does not realize that slavery is bad.” It seems that Barbour values politics more than integrity. He is more worried about

losing votes than promoting equality, and it could be a fatal blow to his attempt at the presidency. Whether or not voters agree with his specific policy stances or not, history has proven that the candidate who most strongly supports issues in the most logical manner will almost always win the election. Kennedy advocated civil rights, despite a Republican-backed Congress that refused to allow any such legislation. Franklin D. Roosevelt advocated economic prosperity in the form of the New Deal, despite the fact that many Americans deemed it unconstitutional. Lincoln advocated equality, even when the entire southern half of his country hated him for it. Barbour has a perfect opportunity to promote tolerance and equality, but unlike these other presidents, he is squandering it. In fact, this indecision about the license plate tarnishes Barbour’s strong reputation of racial equality. It counters the strong work that he has done, like having “more African-American elected officials in Mississippi than anywhere in the country,” as Barbour said during an interview. Considering the racial turmoil that Mississippi saw throughout the fight for civil rights, however, the state does not want to send a message that could be interpreted as supporting racial injustice. This indecisiveness will send that message, hurting the reputation that Barbour has worked so hard to build. In a country like the United States, where discrimination was lawful not so long ago, leaders should set the standard of tolerance and civility. People fought and died in the name of democracy, with the intention that future generations, regardless of race, could vote for the leaders they wanted. If those leaders do not represent the interests of the people, the responsibility to legally remove those problematic leaders falls on the voters. The Mississippi governor is alienating thousands of voters in his own state by refusing to denounce this license plate idea. As days go by, the governor loses more and more potential votes for his campaignto-be. According to a Public Policy Polling survey, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, another Republican presidential hopeful, is more favored than Barbour in his own state of Mississippi, by a margin of 51 to 41 percent. Simply avoiding the license plate controversy is the worst option for Barbour at this point. Even though the act would be morally deplorable, he might at least garner some more support if he were to defend the plates. This inactivity, however, has done him nothing but harm, as voters on both sides of the issue are left thinking that he is incapable of making decisions. In order to minimize the presence of two-faced politicians, Americans need to make themselves heard in the political process. Voters in all states, including Mississippi, need to let every candidate know that only strong-willed and decisive members of society will be allowed to succeed in this government. And it begins with Governor Barbour. n

“Governor Haley Barbour wants to be president, yet he refuses to acknowledge that honoring a bigot is repugnant.”

70 | Spark | April 15, 2011

head to opinion | head to head




Sex education shouldn’t cost $360 million. Regardless of whether or not young women and men have known each other intimately (cue the smooth jazz), they all should be educated about health risks and disease prevention when it comes to sex. Planned Parenthood is, at its core, a clinic to educate people about sex. Recently, it has been marred by corruption and scandal. It’s time for the government to stop funding this corrupt and unnecessary organization. Planned Parenthood provides contraceptives, tests for sexually transmitted infections and reproductive cancer screenings. However, most of the vital “health care” Planned Parenthood provides is deferred to other clinics and doctors. Abby Johnson, a former eight year Planned Parenthood clinic director testified on an anti-Planned Parenthood website that the organization changed from providing healthcare to poor people to becoming an abortion clinic. And the facts are on her side, as the organization is the largest abortion provider in the United States. Even though Planned Parenthood claims abortions only make up three percent of its services, it provides abortions to 98 percent of the pregnant women who seek them, according to Johnson. This sort of encouragement, though legal, is a negative. Regardless of ideology, the ultimate goal should be to reduce abortions. Because the government is not responsible for what a mother decides to do with her baby, it should not be responsible for the mother’s sex life either. If people are responsible enough to have sex, they should be responsible enough to buy their own contraceptives. Distributing contraceptives for free does little to promote healthy family formation, healthy relationships or healthy marriage. Not only should Planned Parenthood be defunded to encourage healthy family formation, it should stop serving as society’s fallback. It should stop serving as a haven for the women who are being sold into trafficking and being raped. Planned Parenthood does nothing to prevent the abused from being abused again. Hospitals properly notify authorities of incidents of rape and trafficking while Planned Parenthood presents these girls and women with

the opportunity to avoid the aid they deserve. The youth led non-violent pro-life group, Live Action, brought this issue to light after it showed audio and video recordings of clinic staff overlooking incidents of rape and human sex trafficking. Members from their group posed as pimps and prostitutes seeking care at Planned Parenthood. They were encouraged to not reveal their real ages and were given advice about how to get around the law, essentially obstructing justice. Planned Parenthood needs to stop the exploitation, not hide it. The Los Angeles Times reported that Planned Parenthood received an average of $11.99 for each birth control cycle while other public healthcare providers received an average of $8.65 and private providers received an average of $8.26 from the government. Clearly, tax money is being wasted when Planned Parenthood gives away birth control for a more inflated price than most hospitals. With a projected deficit of $1.65 trillion for this year alone, every piece of the federal budget needs to be a part of the conversation on how to cut spending and lower the national deficit. The government gives Planned Parenthood 360 million tax dollars every year. As an upholder of justice, the government needs defund Planned Parenthood. Because it is responsible for 70 percent of its own revenue, Planned Parenthood should be able to fund itself. Clients can receive the same sex education and advice from the internet or library or even a trusted friend without funding from the government. Bottom line, the government no longer has to serve as our encyclopedia of all things sex. Eliminating unplanned pregnancies eliminates abortions. The real issue is sex education. If young women and teens are given sex education properly from parents or in schools, the issue would cease to exist. Without being offered excuses such as abortions, contraceptives and testing, fewer teens would unintentionally and irresponsibly bear children. Fewer children would be born into poverty and their families would not require use of facilities such as Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood should no longer serve to fill the void that an irresponsible society presents. It might be tough love, but the parents are going to have to take the lead on this one. Instead of allotting $360 million towards corruption and scandal, we should push to eliminate excess. Planned Parenthood is undeniably wasteful, especially in an age where a simple Wikipedia search would suffice. 

“as an upholder of justice, the government needs to defund Planned parenthood. ”

o head parenthood



“Mass murder of innocent babies is much more important than the economy. Start acting like it.” Screaming and chanting, protestors swarmed Congressman John Boehner’s West Chester office on March 7, 2011, demanding that funding for Planned Parenthood be cut. The protesters were from Operation Rescue, a prolife organization that has been fighting hard for the cuts. The group told reporters that they want nothing less than complete defunding of Planned Parenthood and have already started a search for Boehner’s replacement. But what the protestors do not seem to realize is that Planned Parenthood is much more than an abortion clinic. Because there is no way of truly preventing people from having sex, we need to help people protect themselves from the consequences of sex and educate them about how to keep their partners and themselves safe. Planned Parenthood realizes this, and is taking a proactive step in trying to keep Americans healthy. It is not promoting sex in any way, but simply educating people about it. The organization provides many services including free contraceptives, counseling and tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV and pregnancy. Anyone can go talk or get contraceptives anonymously and embarrassment-free. Many women who feel awkward talking to their mothers or doctors about obtaining birth control are helped without feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable. Programs like Planned Parenthood face the topic of sexual education head on, enabling the U.S. to have relatively low rates of STDs. According to North American AIDS charity, three million adults are infected with an STD. In contrast, South Asia has 48 million and Sub-Saharan Africa has 32 million adults that suffer from STDs. India, Bangladesh and those African countries lack proper sex education, causing these nations to have the highest rates of unplanned pregnancies and STD cases in the world. Still, even with the sex education provided in the U.S., it has higher rates of teen pregnancies, unplanned pregnancies and STDs compared to other developed nations. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 22 percent of women reported having had a child before age 20 in the U.S., compared to 15 percent in the UK, 11 percent in Canada and six percent in France. This, according to the same Guttenmacher Institute study, is mostly due to the fact that the topics of sex and contraception are much less taboo in these

nations. Planned Parenthood is trying to make sex a more acceptable topic, and therefore trying to help improve America’s sexual health. Planned Parenthood is one of the only organizations actually keeping our pregnancy and STD levels at a reasonable rate. One of the most important contributions that Planned Parenthood makes to society is providing services to those who may not be able to afford it otherwise. All prices depend on the customer’s income or where the office resides. People who cannot afford treatment from a regular doctor or hospital can go to Planned Parenthood. In the U.S., most women 18-24 who have unplanned pregnancies are from low-income backgrounds according to the Guttmacher Institute. Places like Planned Parenthood work to lower this statistic. Planned Parenthood also offers various free contraceptives. Defunding Planned Parenthood would take away the ability for those living in poverty to have safe sex. While abstinence is the best option, it is obviously not the one always taken. One of the biggest problems that Operation Rescue has with Planned Parenthood is that they offer abortions. But any woman considering abortion is required to meet with a Planned Parenthood counselor to make sure that abortion is the best choice. More importantly, Planned Parenthood performs safe abortions, meaning women who get them are much less likely to suffer from severe, even fatal, complications. An estimated 68,000 girls and women die each year around the world from unsafe abortions according to The Population Reference Bureau. Because abortion is legal, it does happen, and the procedure needs to be done safely. Cutting funds to Planned Parenthood will not stop abortion. Instead, women will go other places that may perform unsafe abortions—hurting more people. Operation Rescue’s mission is to fight is abortion, and defunding Planned Parenthood will not do this. Instead, they will destroy a public service that helps prevent 612,000 unplanned pregnancies and that takes care of and educates over five million people a year. Cutting Planned Parenthood’s funding can help no one—it can only harm. n

“Programs like Planned Parenthood face the topic of sexual education head on.”

opinion | column

rachel Podnar

The tiger is actually tame


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While Charlie Sheen may have tiger’s blood, some kids have tiger moms. Sheen might think he’s winning, but the results from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment indicate that kids with tiger moms are the real winners. This was the first time that students from Shanghai, China joined the ranks of other international students from 65 different countries in taking the assessment which tests how well 15-year-old students have acquired the basic math, science and literary skills necessary to be fully functional in society. The Shanghai students took first place in reading, science and math. In comparison, the U.S. ranked 17th, 23rd and 31st, in the subjects respectively. Basically, these Chinese kids smashed American kids to pieces. While not all Chinese parents are necessarily tiger parents, they must be doing something right. The results from the 2009 test were released December 7, 2010, around the time when Amy Chua’s controversial memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, depicting her less-than-fluffy parenting philosophy, was published. Many Americans expressed shock and disgust at Chua’s seemingly harsh methods, but they appear to be missing the larger context. Chua does not really believe that her children are “garbage”—she loves them. Chua insists that everything she did to her daughters, like forcing them to play their instruments for hours, threatening to burn their stuffed animals and forbidding sleep-overs, she did out of love and desire to give them good futures. This obviously does not sound like the type of typical American parenting model that screams “love.” Let’s call them “bunny” parents—the overly soft, cuddly, coddling type of parenting that is cousin to the “helicopter” parents, a separate phenomenon where parents are obsessed with their children’s every activity. While Chua’s methods differ, however, she says that her care for her children was what guided her actions in the hopes that her children would love their lives in the future and would eventually have many opportunities. No one can or will argue that any parent loves his or her child any more than any other parent, but maybe Chua has thought things through a bit better. Her desire to raise children with a fulfilling and limitless future is no reason to be critical. Less freedom to roam as a child may very well lead to more opportunities later in life. She stated in her Wall Street Journal essay “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” “no Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother, ‘I got a part in the school play! I’m Villager Number Six. I’ll have to stay after school for rehearsal every day from 3:00 to 7:00, and I’ll also need a ride on weekends.’ God help any Chinese kid who

tried that one.” Chua recognizes that hours of languishing rehearsal and practice for a school play in which the child is in a less-than-starring role is just the same as wasted time in that it subtracts from time that could be used developing more useful skills that will one day be helpful in getting a job or getting into college. Therefore, Chua’s daughters never spend time preparing for a school play. Herein lays a key difference between Chua’s parenting and “bunny” parenting: the two methods yield very different answers when deciding whether the ultimate goal of parenting is to produce a happy child or a child who may not spend their days in bliss, but who will be happy and successful later on in life. The discrepancy in ideology manifests itself in the word “no.” Parents who are focused on raising children who will be successful in the future see absolutely no problem in objecting to every single one of their child’s whims and fancies. Hours and hours spent rehearsing for a play where the child is only in the background only subtracts time that could be spent on school work and developing skills that will better aid them in the future. On the other hand, an American “bunny” parent would see no downside to chauffeuring their child back and forth between rehearsals when they could be working on homework, as long as the child is having fun. Basically, Chua knows how to kill her children’s lessprofitable dreams and center them on more-advantageous ones. “Bunny” parents are not as good at dream-killing, because they have a hard time saying “no” under the assumption that their children will not be able to handle hearing that word. Tiger parents assume strength, not weakness, and they push their children harder with the understanding that children are resilient and will work. To justify her “mean” methods, and frequent use of the word “no,” Chua said in her essay, “To get good at anything you have to work. Children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.” She’s right. In the end, kids, from young children to teenagers, cannot make adult decisions. If we had the choice, many of us would sit and watch TV all day or stay out all night, every night. Kids need their parents to be the authority and “override our preferences” to direct us to more enriching activities and lead us towards successful lives. We cannot make all of the choices to stay on the right path by ourselves because, quite frankly, we do not know what those are. Chua was not afraid to make decisions for her children and give them fewer choices so they could have a more successful future. We spend less than 20 years as children and, if the average American lives about 78 years, we will spend near 58 years of our lives as adults. A “happy” childhood, as provided by the “American” way of parenting, might not lead to 58 years of fulfillment and opportunities. Tiger moms, on the other hand, rather than eat their young, set them up for years of success that outnumber their years in childhood. n

“Chua knows how to kill her children’s less-profitable dreams and center them on more advantageous ones.”

74 | Spark | April 15, 2011

Hey mom, guess what? I got the second highest grade in the class!

I’m disappointed. Second is another way of saying that you’re the first loser.

editorial cartoon tommy behan

East Speaks Out

How do you feel parents should “parent” their children?

Maria Brafford, Senior

Nick Pierok, Junior

Katy Haynes, Senior

Connor Fraley, Junior

“Parents should not be as strict as they think they should be because kids like to rebel against their parents.”

“I think that parents should be there to support their kids when they need it, but they should also give their kids enough space and freedom.”

“I think parents should be able to teach their kids to be responsible and have accountability for their actions. They shouldn’t swoop in every time they have a problem, but they also shouldn’t leave them completely on their own to solve it.”

“A parent should teach their kid strong values and ethics that will allow them to be successful for the rest of their life, while providing options for the kid to choose to follow or not, such as religion.”

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opinion | essay

the ballad of James O’Keefe Essayist Zach Armstrong gives his satiric take on the antics of conservative activist O’Keefe.


ervous, well-to-do white people face a crisis in modern America. Everyday we wake up to see our nation in ruins, a Randian nightmare where the most affluent of society are viciously taxed to support those suckling the government teat. And yet, at Rutgers University, there was a single faint glimmer of hope. One man read Atlas Shrugged in college, and it, like, blew his mind. “Seriously, have you read Atlas Shrugged?” he asked. “It’s amazing. And you know, I think I’m really a lot like John Galt. A great man—the greatest man, actually, the epitome of human potential, burdened by the existence of government. That’s really me, you know?” This man was James O’ Keefe. Like John Galt before him, James set out to change the world for the good of upper class white people. He knew his targets: the liberals. They taxed, he knew that much, and that was enough. But he realized that he could not destroy his enemies through brute force. No, they were too numerous and too physically capable from their vegan, all-organic diets and love of bicycling. James knew that he would need to be stealthy, that he would need to cut off the heads of the hydra to defeat it. It would be a long and arduous battle, but James was ready for it. Armed with his family’s money, James set out in the year 2007 for his first target: Planned Parenthood. His plan to destroy the organization entailed exposing its racism and unscrupulous practices. James posed as a racist, calling several Planned Parenthood clinics in order to donate, but specified that the donation was to go towards abortions for minorities. At least seven clinics accepted the donation, most of them with condescension or barely-suppressed giggling as they did so, presumably because they were on the phone with a racist

76 | Spark | April 15, 2011

James O’Keefe, dressed as a pimp, talks to Fox News about his escapades

cartoon. Following this, O’ Keefe and pro-life activist Lila Rose teamed up, with Lila posing as a pregnant 13-year old girl attempting to get an abortion without her parent’s knowledge at a Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles (PPLA) clinic. The hidden camera video of Lila’s discussion begins with her asking the Planned Parenthood representative if she could get an anonymous abortion, because her “31-year old boyfriend would get in trouble.” The PPLA rep informs Lila that her situation is statutory rape and that she needs to get parental consent for the procedure and call the authorities. Then the video skips 60 seconds of their conversation (too much of a stinging indictment of Planned Parenthood’s corruption for anyone to see) and then the representative is telling Lila that she can inform authorities that she was raped and does not know who got her pregnant. The fallout from Planned Parenthood’s ousting as despicable, lawless racists led to widespread public protest and several firings and suspensions within the organization itself. Boom. One point to O’Keefe.

Freeing his sword from the gutted torso of his enemy, James decided in 2009 that he would tackle another liberal organization, infamous amongst conservatives for encouraging poor people and minorities to vote. James decided to wipe the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) off the face of the Earth. James decided that the best way to destroy them would be by posing as a pimp and exposing ACORN as a purveyor of whores. To this end, James enlisted his friend Hannah Giles to pose as his prostitute(pimps are notorious for completing mundane daylight tasks with their women. It’s called “totin”). Their disguises impenetrable, James and Hannah set out to secretly record Acorn workers doling out illegal advice on tax evasion, prostitution and human trafficking. One of the ACORN workers they featured on the resulting video, Tresa Kaelke, was extremely candid with James. Candid in the sense that she confessed to murdering her husband. And O’ Keefe had captured Ms. Kaelke’s confession on tape. In addition, James’ videos showed other ACORN workers giving James and Hannah advice on tax evasion and human trafficking. So not only had James proved ACORN’s corruption, he had discovered a murderer! Discovering a murder would have been a bonus point for O’Keefe, but it turned out that Ms. Kaelke was being disingenuous with the pasty young white man wearing a fur coat and those bug-eye sunglasses who claimed he was a pimp, and totally had the prostitute to prove it. From Kaelke herself: “They were not believable. Somewhat entertaining, but they weren’t even good actors. I didn’t know what to make of them. They were clearly playing with me. I decided to shock them as much as they were shocking me. Like Stephan [sic] Colbert does—saying the most outrageous things with a straight face.” And the police investigation into Kaelke’s confessions, which included her claiming that she was an ex-prostitute that advocated child prostitution in addition murdering her husband, turned up no evidence against her, noting that “investigators have been in contact with the involved party’s known former husbands, who are alive and well.” And as for the other ACORN offices, a federal court ruled that there could be no charges brought against ACORN, because James’ video had been heavily edited to make them look terrible. But ACORN still temporarily lost their federal funding in the immediate aftermath of the video, and by the time the ruling was decided, ACORN was already well on its way to bankruptcy. James made a video that a federal court found embarrassingly blatant in its editing, and it still managed to destroy ACORN. Sure it was falsifying evidence, but James O’Keefe does not simply hide material that could expose wrongdoing, even if that wrongdoing has to be constructed! Another conquest for James O’ Keefe! Yet still he was not satisfied. The hydra’s heads still flailed and gnashed their thousand teeth. In 2010, one of the heads turned toward O’Keefe, and its name was CNN. And with good reason. By this time, James had become an iconoclast. He had become the conservative, American, beardless antithesis of Che Guevara, and CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau was immediately drawn to him. She was doing a documentary on young conservative activists, and no man fit those three words better than James O’Keefe. She contacted

James and asked for an interview. That was when James saw his chance. He agreed to the interview, and began at once to formulate his plan. Because James knew. He knew CNN’s goal. As he said in his 13page document detailing his strike against the news organization: “I’ve been approached by CNN for an interview where I know what their angle is: they want to portray me and my friends as crazies, as non-journalists, as unprofessional and likely as homophobes, racists or bigots of some sort.” He would not abide this. He would not be their strawman. So he concocted a simple plan. In the man’s own words: “I’ve decided to have a little fun. Instead of giving her a serious interview, I’m going to punk CNN...This bubble-headed bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she’ll get seduced on camera and you’ll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath.” Yes, to defeat CNN’s accusations of unprofessionalism, James would proposition a CNN reporter during an interview. And so, James acquired a boat, the sexiest of all transportation devices, and armed it with the requisites of romance, which he listed in his 13-page plan. This list contained such essentials as a “condom jar, dildos, lube, candles,” and the enigmatically named “Props.” But alas, James’ CNN Caper was not to be, as one of O’Keefe’s assistants in the plan told Ms. Boudreau of O’Keefe’s plans. This assistant was promptly decapitated and had her head displayed on a pike at the gates of O’ Keefe’s fortress as a warning, but the damage was done. The fallout was disastrous, and it seemed for a time that James O’Keefe had been revealed as a charlatan, that not only did he edit videos to portray the people and organizations in them as the terrifying advocates of public transportation and gay Mid-Westerners fear, but that he was also a pretty creepy guy. Yet O’Keefe soldiered on, undaunted. His war, nay, his crusade demanded him. There was no time to rest. And just in March, O’Keefe launched his offensive on that capital of liberalism, NPR. O’Keefe found associates to pose as members of the Muslim Brotherhood and eat lunch with Ronald Schiller, then senior fundraiser for NPR. This lunch was then, of course, taped and released onto the Internet. The video, when edited by James O’Keefe, was a damning indictment of Schiller. It showed that Schiller believed, when edited by James that NPR didn’t need federal funding. It showed that Schiller, when edited by James, found Tea Partiers to be “seriously racist, racist people.” These quotes, among others, disgraced NPR and shattered the public’s conception of NPR as non-partisan, and so Ronald Schiller resigned in disgrace. And following his resignation, the CEO of NPR, Vivian Schiller (no relation), also resigned, on the basis that she could no longer effectively lead the organization, employing people like Ronald Schiller, people who say words. James O’ Keefe had conquered Jerusalem. He had proven that truly, none within the Ivory Tower were safe, so long as they said something that could in some way make them look bad if some of their sentences were cleverly mixed together. This was the latest of James’ efforts to expose all the corruption and bias he can create, and he shows no signs of slowing down. There are still so many enemies to fight. And he alone must hunt them. He never sleeps. He is always watching. n

“The hydra’s heads still flailed and gnashed their thousand teeth. And in 2010, one of the heads turned toward O’Keefe, and its name was CNN.”

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opinion | finishing touch

FaizSiddiqui More than a game


y best friend’s mother said it best: “Faiz shouldn’t be allowed to do pretty much anything.” This was of course warranted. I’d run out of gas, begged her daughter to rescue me and spilled gasoline all over her backseat, leading it to smell like a flock of BP’s pet seagulls. But my ineptitude was, perhaps, best showcased during last year’s chem labs. I’d tried to make a tie-dye shirt without following instructions, only to create something so inconceivably bad it became a metaphor for my failures. Fluorescent red, yellow, green, pink and blue didn’t make the fluorescent black I anticipated. The person whose shirt I’d eagerly volunteered to decorate was livid. And to the usually optimistic Mr. Severns’ dismay, “I’ve never seen a student make an ugly shirt” was now a lie. But this time, nearly a year removed from my last horrible attempt at a makeshift t-shirt, my shirt wasn’t merely a display of incompetence. It was a display of nationalism, patriotism, solidarity—values I’d usually shrug off as blindy chauvinistic. It was white with “INDIA” in huge letters like an Old Navy July 4 shirt exclaiming “AMERICA!” Among South Asian peers, it was a hit. But it shocked American friends. I usually don’t wear my culture on my sleeve, or my chest for that matter. But this time, my mediocre t-shirt would be the least of my concerns. This time, it would be treason. This was huge. The pinnacle of occupational influence. The national pastime of 1.5 billion people. Duke-Carolina was suddenly child’s play. This was international cricket with fierce rivals India and Pakistan, the real perpetrators of “malice at the palace,” bringing animosity to each royal location graced with their presence. They hated each other, not just the players. A community built on unity found itself in a civil war, half pushing for Pakistan’s trademark green, half rallying behind the tricolored flag of the motherland. And here I was, displaying the name of the aggressors, those who pushed my family out of their homeland, out of the comfort of their own homes. With a father who faced vicious oppression at the hands of India before escaping to the comfort of Karachi, Pakistan, here I was, pulling for a nation that didn’t do so much as support his livelihood. I was a casual cricket fan, passively supporting my bloodline’s team out of convenience. I was a fair-weather fan in a sport in which my passive attitude was unacceptable. Because this was more than a game. India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited his Pakistani counterpart Asif Zardari to watch the match by his side as not an act of kindness, but a push toward solidarity for nations with a tumultuous past. But they stayed divided. In typical fashion, Pakistanis watched with Pakistanis. Indians watched with Indians. And the lone Indian who happened to be at a Pakistani viewing wouldn’t dare reveal his disloyalty. This was a different scene. Although I’d supported India all week, disregarding my family’s struggle for a cheap shot at diehard fanhood, I decided to make things right. So when I finally taped my minimalist display of patriotism to my white t-shirt, it featured three more words than planned. Below the “INDIA” that slapped onlookers in the face stood a calmer declaration. “And Pakistan too” was no mistake. Though “INDIA” dominated the shirt, I was uneasy declaring unilateral support. Having only been a cricket fan for the 72 hours I knew about the match, I couldn’t adopt one team as the Cincinnati Reds’ Ganges River affiliate. I accepted that cricket didn’t fit into the causal fan’s seat-cushion-laden realm of American sports. And eventually I came to terms with being a flip-flopping fair-weather fan. This was one game that had the relative importance of an entire baseball season. I was just glad there weren’t 161 more of them. n

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2010-11 Issue 6