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Spark APRIL 9, 2013









Stay updated on East news, check athletic results, read music, movie and book reviews all on Spark’s website.




Marissa Alsip discusses why the Boy Scouts should allow gay members.

PODCAST 4: ANT-MAN ADVENTURES The editors postulate what the new Ant-man movie will be like plot-wise.


Dillon Mitchell reviews Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience.


East Latin Club celebrated the Ides of March with games and fun.

INTERNATIONAL THESPIAN SOCIETY East’s Drama Club held an informal meeting complete with dodgeball.




The Board discusses the preschool tuition and state report card results.


Lauren Fang explains the nuances of Dave Tomar’s The Shadow Scholar.


The School of Rock hopes to hone young musicians through performance.




Maggie Schaller writes about using the new line of skin-care products.


Nick Riddick reviews Snitch, an action movie starring Dwayne Johnson.


Onur Eroglu discusses the true intentions behind award shows.

2 | Spark | April 9, 2013 | Spark | 3




Spark APRIL 9, 2013



ON THE COVER design jeff back, photo michael tedesco





Spark takes a look at how the business of prom has grown with increasing prices on everything from dresses to corsages. But some stores also look to make the night affordable for teens.




Many East students participate in blood drives as well as donate plasma.

16 CASINO HELPS FUND SCHOOLS All schools in Ohio including East will receive funding from the new casino.


Students must take into consideration the rising costs of prom.

33 PHOTOSHOOT: FEMININE MENSWEAR Androgynous fashion has become mainstream in the past few years.


East junior Catherine Bare participates in the 4-H club with her goat.



38 SPECIAL COVERAGE: IMMIGRATION Spark takes an in-depth look at the issue of immigration in the community.


Cincinnati music is experiencing a revival period thanks to ambitious artists.


Spark continues its series on sports injuries, this focusing on turf problems.




New varsity lacrosse coach takes steps to turn the team’s record around.


Spark staffers go head to head on immigration reform in America.

EDITOR’S NOTE: After checking the Spark archives, it has been discovered that this is actually issue No. 149, not the issue published on Mar. 12.

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opinion | letter to the editor

“Column is a poor reflection of Spark” As I was skimming through the most recent issue I was amazed at the professionalism displayed throughout the 84 pages. As I was finishing my skimming I came across a column that caught my attention. Ellen Kasik’s column “The New Kid On the Block.” I actually had to read it twice to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. The column makes her seem judgmental and superficial. I know this is not Spark’s character at all. Judging people on their looks is a juvenile tactic and displays immaturity in the eye of the beholder who should not retain these shortsighted judgments in life. I felt as though her column reflected poorly not on her, but on the paper itself. As an alumna of Spark I understand the hard work and dedication that must be taken to publish an issue every month. With that being said, Spark has such a high reputation

opinion | letter from the editor to uphold and the editors should consider that before they publish something that could reflect poorly on the organization. Throughout her 1,000-plus-word column I did not see one single nice thing said. Words like fugitive and bad kid were mentioned often without even knowing his first name. I am just extremely surprised that there was no follow-up on the unknown student. I feel as though the column should have reflected more of a moral of the story such as “don’t judge a by book its cover,” rather than her being critical of someone she doesn’t know. It would have been a more effective use of the column as to ask why maybe students act like this with people they don’t know. I am always impressed with every issue that comes out, but this caught my attention in a way that I believed reflected poorly on the reputation of Spark. -Sierra Whitlock, East alumna

“Spark has great substantive quality” I wanted to let you know I received my complimentary copy of the Spark. I have to admit, I am staggered by the quality of the research, writing, and production of this publication. I was the assistant editor of my high school newspaper (keep in mind, this was shortly after the advent of the printing press!) and our substantive and production

Website Commentary Spark Poll: Online The Top Stories This Month March 12-April 8

What part of prom is the most exciting for you? TOTAL VOTES: 37

1) Zach Fulciniti’s “House of the Rising Stars” - 148 page views

After Prom 39 percent

Getting Ready for Prom 43 percent

3) Dilllon Mitchell’s “Review: 20/20 Experience” - 46 page views 4) Kaitlin Lange’s “A Leap of Faith” - 21 page views 5) Lauren Fang’s “Board Discusses Change in Preschool Tuition and State Report Card Results” - 21 page views

6 | Spark | April 9, 2013

“Senior citizens’ prom very touching” I wanted to personally thank you for covering the recent Senior Citizen’s Prom at Heritage Springs. It is an amazing opportunity to present the students of the school involved in something that brings so many together. Students coordinate, decorate, prepare and put on a wonderful night for the sweetest people I have ever met. The folks at Heritage Springs have a special place in my heart. Not only from the three years of the Senior Citizen’s Prom that I have participated in, but also from the involvement that my youth group has had in presenting a church service once a month. Over the years, I have come to see this as one of my favorite service events our school offers to the community. The residents are at this home all the time, and for one night, we are able to give back to them. Without those people before us, we would not be shaped the way we are today. For the residents there, sometimes we are their only chance to see a smiling face, and giving them a night of ourselves and our time is just a true gift. I encourage others to participate in the future to keep this event for the years to come. At the end of the night, when we say our final goodbyes and thank everyone for the opportunity to dance with them, I feel completely renewed, as a person, knowing I made someone smile, even if it was only for a few hours. Once again, I want to thank Spark for covering this event, made possible by Mr. John Lindeman, members of SACA and various volunteers, because these are the types of things that bring us, as not only a school, but also as a community, closer together. -Hunter Miller, East senior



2) Shervani Patel’s “Kline Takes on Role as Superintendent” - 61 page views

6) “Podcast 4: The Amazing Adventures of Ant-Man” - 21 page views

quality didn’t come anywhere close to this. I appreciate you soliciting my assistance with this undertaking, and please feel free to contact me again if you have any inquiries in my areas of study. -Derek Cohen, University of Cincinnati faculty

Prom Itself 11 percent

Dinner 11 percent

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 on the following page, dropped off in the journalism classroom (room 118), or posted as comments on our online stories and tweets/comments to our social media accounts below. 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. email |


2012-13 STAFF

c/o Lakota East High School 6840 Lakota Lane Liberty Township, OH 45044 Phone: (513) 759-8615 ext. 15118 Email:

Editor-in-Chief Jeff Back Editor-in-Chief Sophia Li Editor-in-Chief Natasha Rausch Business Manager Graphics Manager Photo Manager Webmaster Writing Coach News Managing Editor Lifestyle Managing Editor Package Managing Editor Entertainment Managing Editor Sports Managing Editor Opinion Managing Editor Art Managing Editor Public Relations Director Public Relations Director Technology Director Survey Coordinator Copy Director Copy Director News Editor News Editor News Editor Lifestyle Editor Lifestyle Editor Lifestyle Editor Package Editor Package Editor Package Editor Package Editor Entertainment Editor Entertainment Editor Entertainment Editor Sports Editor Sports Editor Sports Editor Opinion Editor

Hannah Lee Irfan Ibrahim Michael Tedesco Emily Chao Jasmine Tuazon Mohinee Mukherjee Kaitlin Lange Zach Fulciniti Dillon Mitchell John Grasty Nugeen Aftab Jack Dombrowski Amber Jagpal Maddie McGarvey Arvind Madhavan Sam Hauck Onur Eroglu Katie Masterson Lauren Fang Daphne Ocran Shervani Patel Marissa Alsip Halley Davidson Rachel Hartwick Morgan Bain Alexa Chryssovergis Angela Ferguson Claire Schomaker Chris Bowling Hannah Eads Josh Shi Sydney Aten Emily Haynes Claire Middleton Meeta Bhardwaj

News Art Editor Rahul Mukherjee Sports Photo Editor Nick Kanaly Business/PR Associate Business/PR Associate Business/PR Associate Technology Associate

Madyson Alexander Jack Mangold Mansi Patel Dan Turner

Advisor Dean Hume

Spark is a publication that is produced at Lakota East High School. The magazine is completely student-generated 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. The purpose of Spark is to inform the students, faculty, and community members of news, information and issues that may influence or affect them.



My dad came to the U.S. with nothing more than two suitcases and $32. He didn’t come from money; he grew up on a farm in Hunan province and became the first person from his village to go to college after he scored well on the national college entrance exam. Like many Chinese people who immigrated to America at the time, my dad sought a career in an area that was underdeveloped in China—for him, the sciences. From earning his Doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota to getting a stable job at Procter and Gamble, my dad has lived the American Dream. Although immigration seems to have gotten a bad name ever since 9/11, the issue itself has not changed much. The reasons for immigration have always remained constant. Whether it’s for education, safety, or freedom, people have always and will continue to come to America for greater opportunities. As the illegal immigration debate has garnered more attention with Obama’s inauguration and the proposal of a potential overhaul in January 2013, the word “amnesty” has been thrown around a lot. From the view of those who oppose the current reform, if someone is living in the U.S. without proper documentation, that offense should not simply be forgotten or overlooked. These politicians argue that the plan grants amnesty, which thereby encourages further illegal immigration by making it seem

like there are no penalties. But if the current plan is considered amnesty, it is hard to imagine a realistic solution to the immigration problem without some form of “amnesty.” The proposal, which also includes a call for securing the borders, would have illegal immigrants come forward and register with the federal government. Under the plan, illegal immigrants would have to pass background checks, pay back taxes and get pushed to the back of the line to gain citizenship. Many politicians are quick to label solutions as granting amnesty, but none of those people have offered any plan that addresses the millions of non-documented immigrants living on American soil. Clearly deporting millions of people, many of whom have already planted roots in American society, is not an answer that is remotely economically or logistically feasible. In this issue, Spark talks to East students that are first and second-generation immigrants and the challenges they have faced in assimilating to American culture and growing up in the U.S. Spark also discusses the steps that these immigrants have taken to gain citizenship and the places in society they hold today. Regardless of what reform gets passed, speaking to immigrants in the school and community has made one thing clear: immigration is too important of an issue to be put on the backburner any longer. SM | Spark | 7

news | online

news | school

Scan this QR Code to continue reading the stories below and other stories online at

Lakota Students Switch Schools for Classes

French Club Takes Time to Tie-Dye

story madison shelton photo madi root

story jack mangold photo halie sullivan

With only six possible periods in the day, Lakota West junior Rachel Immerman was trying to make room for Teacher’s Academy (TA), a two bell class that she would later refer to as the most enjoyable part of her day. Along with other students registering for classes online through Home Access Center, Immerman needed to decide how she could fit in all her needed credits while still taking the classes she wanted to. She decided to take health online and sacrificed taking an third year of Spanish in order to free up her schedule. By doing so, she could commute to East [continued...]

story ashley fishwick | photo michael tedesco

About 40 students gathered at East French Club on Wednesday, March 20 to play games, eat and tie-dye their club shirts. One of the first orders of business, however, was to recruit people from the club to be in the upcoming East lip dub, a video benefiting patients and research of spina bifida. The French Club will have its own section of students in the lip dub, along with many other clubs throughout the school. As students arrived at the meeting, officers set up tables full of French-themed food, including many types of bread, jelly, chocolate mousse, chocolate biscuits, pineapple upside-down cake [continued...]

In order to serve the local elderly generation, East students organized and participated in Student Activity Committees in Action’s (SACA) annual Senior Citizens’ Prom at Heritage Springs retirement home on March 23. Students began decorating the home and interacting with the residents at 1:30 p.m., and the dance and cleanup ended at 9:30 p.m. Though some students attended the event in order to gain community service hours, others attended in hopes of making an impact. “I really enjoy community service where I get to see what I do,” East senior Meghan Gibbons said. “My friend, Bridget, always said it was really fun and fulfilling, so I wanted to see what it was like.” According to East senior Bridget Kristof [continued...]

East senior Hunter Miller prepares to tie-dye his shirt during the recent French Club meeting.

Lakota West junior Sean Hale takes notes on a student-led lesson in his Teacher’s Academy class.

East junior Christina Brinkmann speaks to a resident.

SACA Hosts Senior Citizen’s Prom

Lip Dub, Foreign Language, Gifted Learning, and Open Enrollment Discussed at Meeting story hannah lee The Lakota Local School District Board of Education invited multiple community and district representatives to speak on behalf of the issues regarding the newest fundraiser of East National Honor Society’s Lip Dub, world language studies, gifted learning, and open enrollment updates while conducting a regular meeting that took place on March 25.

8 | Spark | April 9, 2013

Board members began by welcoming both the president and vice-president of National Honor Society, Sydney Aten and Amber Jagpal, respectively. The two discussed the goal of the Lip Dub in attracting awareness of the cause and explained the fundraisers associated with the project through video presentations. In addition, Aten invited the Board and other

community members to attend the filming of the Lip Dub, and Jagpal announced that there will be a community shot taken on the football field on April 18 at 6:00 p.m. Following the Lip Dub presentation, Dr. Lon Stettler began his presentation on world language opportunities for the school district in the 2014-15 school year. [continued...]

Left: Newly-inducted Z Club members pose for a photo, Right: Members of the cast of The Secret Life of Girls speak to students in the audience.

Z Club Collaborates with Theater

After its initiation at the beginning of the school year, East Z Club received its official charter and has inducted 21 members. On this occasion, members presented their awareness video and theater production to family and friends. story daphne ocran | photos madi root


ast’s Z Club received its official charter, inducted 21 members and featured its first service project, a video titled “Let’s Talk!,” on March 14, later presenting a theatrical production and hosting a public discussion forum on March 22. The event began with a welcoming statement and reading of proclamations by president of the Zonta Club of Cincinnati Terri Purtee-Stein, East junior Josie Halozan, and Zonta international District five Area two director Lois Pieve. Proclamations included congratulatory and recognizing statements from the Ohio House of Representatives and Governor John Kasich. “I’m so proud of these young girls,” Zonta Club of Cincinnati Z Club committee member Glenda Carota said. “As a Zontian, we’re an older group, and I’m excited to see a new generation of women get involved.” Following the opening statements, East junior and Z Club president Danielle Lewis was presented with the charter and gavel, and members were inducted into their positions. Lewis, East sophomore Sarah King, Halozan, and East junior Rachel Chestnut were inducted into the president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer positions respectively. In addition, 16 other East students were sworn in. Each member was given an official Z Club membership pin and a ceremonial tulip flower. Following the induction ceremony, the

club presented its first service project; a video entitled “Let’s Talk!” that featured select Z Club members telling of their hardships and personal experiences—ranging from sexual abuse to self-harm to bulimia. The film was produced by East senior Matt King, and was geared towards a single idea: that it is possible to overcome those issues with help. “The video was very moving, and I heard people behind me crying,” Sarah King, East Z Club vice president said. “I can’t wait for other young girls and teenagers in our school to see that. It really reassures teenagers, because the junior high and high school years are where [these kinds of challenges] start.” One of the video’s featured members was East junior Kellsa Mbah, who immigrated to the United States from Cameroon in July of 2006. In the video she spoke of her initial struggle to fit in. “When we were creating the video, I was nervous,” Mbah said. “But seeing it, I think I’ve come a long way. It it’s really nice to know that I’ve had so much support here. I love where I’m from and I’d never change that.” King felt that the video would be useful in helping girls understand that they have friends to confide in, no matter their situation. “From the video you could tell that everybody’s been through something,” King said. “This will help reassure girls that they’re not alone, and that they need to come out and communicate with one another for support.”

On March 22, Z Club presented “Let’s Talk!” for a larger audience, and a short theatrical production and community forum produced in collaboration with the East Theater. Titled “The Secret Life of Girls” and scripted entirely by Zonta club members, the production featured the struggle of a junior high student and her friends to maintain friendships despite growing conflicts between them. “The idea for “[The Secret Life of Girls]” came together in the school parking lot,” Statt said. “[East counselor Jill] Kelechi and I were walking in from our cars one morning and we had a conversation about two projects that we were currently working on that we had ideas for.” According to Statt, East Theater worked in collaboration with Zonta members for four to six weeks as part of its third quarter project. “Working with [Z Club] was so much fun,” said Alyssa Stegmaier, an East Performing Arts student who performed in the production. “The product of two clubs and having two different departments in school working together was awesome. I went through things in junior high that really affected me, and I could really relate to the character.” According to Statt, East Theater plans to collaborate with Z Club in the future. “Whenever opportunities like this come up we’re happy to collaborate,” Statt said. “I think this is a good relationship. and we will probably do some pieces together in the future.” SM | Spark | 9

news | district

news | district

For the upcoming school year, certain Lakota eighth graders will be able to earn high school science credit, signaling the district’s



East anatomy teacher Julie Deak is looking forward to the changes that will be made to the high school science course sequence.

story and sidebar ivana giang photo chris bowling


ourse sequences within the Lakota Local School District’s science department will change for students in grades 8-10 beginning in the 2013-14 school year to comply with new standards set by the Ohio Board of Education’s (ODE) Common Core. The current route for regular level students dictates that freshmen take Biology, while sophomores take Physical Science. This order of courses will be reversed for regular level students starting next year. According to East Freshman associate principal Stacy Millburg, honors students will begin taking physical science as eighth graders for high school credit before taking Honors Biology as freshmen and Honors Chemistry as sophomores. Liberty Junior eighth grade science teacher Ellen Anderson said that the physical science curriculum taught at the junior high level will cover less material compared to the current advanced eighth grade science course. According to the ODE’s New Learning Standards for K-12 science, topics will include the study of matter, energy and waves, forces and motion and the universe. “We can go into much more depth,” Anderson said. “[Having less material] is good because [students] can do multiple activities, research, projects and solve problems. That’s how you really learn the material, not by hearing briefly about it on a very superficial level.” This year and previous years, honors level students were not required to take physical science because the advanced eighth grade science covered everything students needed to know for the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT).

10 | Spark | April 9, 2013

for the course. “Of course I’m going to expect it’s going to be hard, because it’s a high school credit,” Jeske said. “[But] it will be a good idea for me to take [the class] because it’s going to help me get into a better college and help me in my life.” Liberty Junior seventh grader John Ferguson, who also plans on taking the physical science class, said that he is concerned about learning the entire science curriculum. “Instead of just zeroing in on physical science, I would like to learn about other areas of science,” Ferguson said. “It will become useful in later years of high school.” To be able to enroll in the physical science class as eighth graders, students must meet the established placement criteria, including successful placement scores on Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA), competent performance in science class and teacher recommendation. Science teachers will also look at students’ prior performance levels and future plans in mathematics when making recommendations, which can be overridden. “If [students] don’t get recommended

College Prep Route But according to Lakota executive director of Teaching and Learning for Secondary Education Shelley Hilderbrand, the OGTs will be “phased out” by the start of the 2013-14 school year and will no longer be a graduation requirement in 2014-15. Instead, students are going to have to pass a variety of end-of-course exams, as dictated

It’s been a long time coming. It’s going to be good for the students. by the Common Core. Another reason for the change is that the biology end-of-course exam is given at the 10th grade level for regular students. Because honors students will now be required to take an end-of-course exam for both Biology and Physical Science, they must take both those courses. East science teacher and department chair Julie Deak said that course sequence changes should have been made “a long time ago.” “Over the years, we’ve tried to implement this switch and apparently the timing just wasn’t right,” Deak said, “but now, with the new state model changing, we really need to do this to be aligned with it and with what most of the other high schools in the state of Ohio do. It’s been a long time coming and it’s going to be good for

the students.” East principal Suzanna Davis added that the switch would help new students transferring into the district because the curriculum would most likely correlate with their previous school district. “About 98 percent of other school districts in the state of Ohio do the sequencing of physical science and then biology,” Davis said. Hilderbrand said that because the district is seeking ways for junior high students to participate in challenging courses to gain high school credit, the administration agreed with the decision to replace the advanced eighth grade science with physical science. The advanced eighth grade curriculum that will be excluded in the new eighth grade physical science course will be incorporated into the advanced seventh grade science curriculum. According to Hilderbrand, the future eighth and ninth grade physical science classes, for honors and standard students respectively, will not differ from each other but will differ from the current tenth grade course because they will follow Ohio’s New Learning Standards. Deak said that the transition will be beneficial in terms of preparation for statemandated changes. “We’re trying to implement this curriculum next year so that teachers and students are familiar with the courses and the content, so that when we have to be teaching it according to state guidelines, we’ve got a little more experience with it,” Deak said. Liberty Junior seventh grader Cameron Jeske, who is planning to take physical science next year, is prepared to earn high school credit

8th Grade 8th Grade Science

9th Grade Physical Science

10th Grade CP Biology

or they don’t necessarily have the scores that would warrant going into that [class], but they still think they have aptitude in science, we’re not going to hold anyone back from doing it,” Millburg said. Next year will be a transition year for all those involved in the changes. Because the switch in the science sequence will start with

86 percent of 312 East students surveyed said they would have taken a science class in eighth grade to earn high school credit. the incoming eighth graders and freshmen, Physical Science will be taught at the eighth, ninth and tenth grade. After next year, it will permanently be a freshman course but will also be offered to eighth grade students. Biology will be the standard for tenth graders and will continue to be offered to freshmen as honors. Eighth graders of the 2013-14 school year will not take the Physical Science end-of-course exam, but according to Millburg, end-of-course exams will be required in 10 courses beginning in the 2014-15 school year: English 9, English 10, English 11, Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, Physical Science, Biology, American History and Government. There will not be an end-ofcourse exam for the Chemistry course. According to Hilderbrand, these end-ofcourse exams may become a part of the course grade, between 20-30 percent as determined by the state. The new exams will be an online assessment and will include performance tasks. Millburg said that the two major shifts in science classes will allow students to take more science classes in their high school career so that they can enroll in Advanced Placement level courses quicker, even with a six-bell day. The disadvantage to students, according to Millburg, is if students take physical science in eighth grade, their only option for ninth grade is Honors Biology, because the other course that would be offered is physical science. “If they get into Honors Biology as a ninth grader and decide that they can’t be successful,

they don’t have anywhere else to go because they’ve already taken the Physical Science, and the freshman building is separate from the main campus,” Millburg said. Teachers will face the difficulty of teaching other courses because Physical Science will be offered to both freshmen and sophomores. For freshmen biology teachers such as Mark Folta, Physical Science will require “a fair amount of time involved in getting ready.” “Physical Science is a subject I’ve never taught before, so there’d be a lot to learn in regards to the curriculum,” Folta said. “Basically, it would be like teaching a whole new class.” Freshman teachers who taught both honors and standard level classes have always had an overlap in their teachings because both honors

Honors Route

8th Grade Physical Science

9th Grade Honors Biology

10th Grade Honors Chemistry

and regular levels were learning biology. However, for these teachers, there will be a discrepancy between the areas of science being taught because the regular course will be Physical Science while the honors course will still be Biology. Davis said there will be a chance for teachers across the department in both high school buildings “to get together this spring to do some professional collaboration to prepare for teaching those next course.” Folta is optimistic about the shifts. “We can do it. We’re up for it,” Folta said. “It will help us be a little more well-rounded as teachers by teaching another subject.” SM


As students’ schedules are becoming limited due to last school year’s budgetary reduction, several courses will be offered to eighth graders for high school credit beginning in the 2013-14 school year. Options for high school credit available to eighth grade students because of the sixbell day at the high schools include physical education, health and information technology. Because the administration wants students to have the same opportunities as previous graduates, it is allowing eighth graders to earn high school credit. “Part of [the reason for offering these courses] is allowing kids to open up their

schedules a little bit more as they get into 10th, 11th and 12th grade,” East Freshman associate principal Stacy Millburg said. “If the students have the [credits] under their belt, that allows them to have more opportunities and flexible schedules.” According to the Lakota Junior Schools 2013-14 Program of Studies, eighth grade students can take fitness and sports during the summer before eighth grade or for one semester of the school year for physical education high school credit. In addition, students can meet the half credit of health requirement for high school graduation with the successful completion of the personal

health course. By taking these courses, students can have up to 3.25 high school credits before entering high school, which will also free up room in their schedules to take more electives. Millburg said that the physical science course will play into the eighth grade math option that has been and will continue to be offered for high school credit at the junior high schools. “It would probably be the same type of students that would be taking the CP Algebra I class and Physical Science in eighth grade because those two go hand-in-hand,” Millburg said. SM | Spark | 11

news | school

news | school




East SACA hosted two blood drives in the 2012-13 school year. While students at the recent March blood drive only donated whole blood, many people in the nation also donate plasma. * denotes a name change story, infographic and sidebar alexa chryssovergis | photo justin york


wice a week, for approximately two hours, and the outcome is 50 dollars. East alumnus *Ryan Brown had given whole blood four times, but it was not until December 2012 that he even considered donating plasma. For him, plasma donation was not only about saving lives, but also about getting paid for his time and commitment. “It’s just a good mix between helping other people out and a little bit of extra money to spend on the weekends and such,” Brown said. “It’s pretty much a win-win situation for me.” Brown is not alone in his desire to save lives with his own blood. During the school day on March 8, approximately 100 students at East gave whole blood at the most recent of Student Activity Committees in Action’s (SACA) semiannual blood drives. According to East teacher and SACA advisor John Lindeman, both the October blood drive and the March blood drive collected around the same amount of blood at 102 units each. For East junior Trista Schultz, donating in the March blood drive was an opportunity she could not wait to jump on. Schultz attempted to give blood during the October blood drive, but she was denied from doing so due to the fact that she had received shots from her doctor a couple weeks prior. “Donating blood is a good thing to do. I’ve always wanted to [give blood],” Schultz said. Although the March blood drive was only Schultz’s first time giving blood, there were many students at the drive who were experienced at donations. East senior Tim Wilson had given blood three times prior to the blood drive, with his reason for donating being, “I don’t need it, [but] someone else does.” Although many student donors were inexperienced with giving separate components

12 | Spark | April 9, 2013

East senior Tim Wilson donates blood at the March drive.

of blood, such as plasma rather than the blood drives for Hoxworth, Kevin Daniels, the main as a whole unit, there are approximately 18 difference between the two processes is the million annual plasma donations in the U.S., use of the apheresis machine during a plasma donation. Once the blood of the donor enters according to Plasma is the colorless fluid component of the machine, it is separated into its separate whole blood that holds fat globules. 21 percent plasma and red blood cell components, and of 302 East students surveyed have given then the red blood cells, along with some saline, whole blood, including those who donated at are reentered into the bloodstream. Brown, who donates through BioLife, said the drive sponsored by Hoxworth Blood. Although only whole blood was drawn that he knew many other college students during both blood drives at East, Donating Different Blood Components donors also have the First, the arm is sterilized using an iodine swab. opportunity to donate Then, the donor is stuck Double Red Plasma Donation individual components with a butterfly needle Blood Cell Donation and the process ensues of blood at other locations, such as just Separated plasma like Brown Units of plasma and red blood platelets does or red blood cells cells and platelets. According to the Donors can give every 28 manager of BioLife days Donors can give One plasma unit is produced every 112 days Plasma Service Dan as the apheresis machine Two units are Keal, there are not separates plasma from produced as the platelets and red blood cells apheresis machine many procedural Takes 75 minutes separates plasma differences between and platelets from cells giving whole blood and Platelet Donation Takes 30-35 giving plasma. Both minutes begin with a puncture in the arm and a similar Whole Blood screening process. Donation “You have to scan Donors can fingerprints [when give every 56 donating] plasma,” Donors can give up to days 24 times a year One pint/unit Brown said. “The Four to six units are of blood is For every time a donor gives blood, he/ [whole blood and produced as the collected she only gives 1 pint. Depending on what apheresis machine Takes 8-10 plasma] screening component of blood is given, different separates platelets minutes amounts of units can be produced process is the same.” from plasma and red According to the information redcross,,, blood cells Takes 90-150 minutes field leader of blood

who make extra money by donating plasma. In order to give blood through BioLife, the donor must be between ages 18 and 65, and he or she is allowed to donate twice a week. BioLife pays donors $20 for the first donation per week and $30 for the second donation. There are also additional monthly incentives, such as a drawing for $100 once a month. With the extra money, Brown has been able to afford attending three concerts recently as well as going bowling almost every weekend. According to Keal, all plasma collected at the center goes toward prescribed medications and therapies rather than into cosmetics or other similar products. Although Brown enjoys getting paid for his service, he admitted that there are downsides to plasma donation, such as exhaustion and a lowered immune system. In addition to getting sick more frequently, Brown also does not enjoy the scars and bruises that he has in the crease of his elbow from donating so much. “You get these nasty-looking scars on your arms, so that’s not very pleasant. It makes you kind of look like a heroin addict,” Brown said. In his opinion, the employees who stick his arm when he is donating are not as professional or efficient as real nurses, as some of them are his classmates doing paid internships at BioLife. Sometimes they stick him at the wrong angle, resulting in painful bruises. “They’re not trained. They’re not like a nurse at a hospital,” Brown said. “You have to give them a big target. You have to pump up your arm, and when they put [the needle] in,

they’ll put it in at a bad angle where it’ll leave bruises. I mean, they’re professional but not as good as the real thing.” Brown also noted that he observed BioLife Plasma Services has a different atmosphere than blood banks. “[When I’m] donating blood, I feel like I’m at a doctor’s office,” Brown said. “When I’m donating plasma, I feel like I’m walking into a business,” Brown said. Despite the downsides to donating plasma and the fact that it is “definitely not for squeamish people,” Brown still prefers it to giving whole blood and said he will continue to give plasma in the future. And by doing so, he is helping kids such as East junior Sam Beiting, who was born with a very rare disorder called Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP). The condition causes platelets in the bloodstream to clump together because of a deformed gene that inhibits enzyme production. Whenever Beiting falls ill, with the exception of a cold or allergies, he must test how much blood is passing through his system by urinating on a stick that indicates what his platelet count is. A low platelet count is indicative of them clumping together. This may result in Beiting slipping into an episode, in which he will experience excessive vomiting. The two main illnesses that often trigger an episode are the flu and strep throat, and the only treatment is plasma transfusions. Beiting said his visits to the hospital to receive transfusions used to be much more

After Donating


Frozen plasma helps clotting in liver

The plasma is tested for viruses to ensure it is safe. It also undergoes various tests. Then the plasma is labelled, coded and packed for different purposes

These are only a few of the hundreds of practical uses of plasma in the world

Clinical Fresh Frozen Plasma The plasma can treat patients after they have a liver transplantation or experience trauma.

Rheus Disease Prevention Critical Care Products Plasma can treat shock and burns and is also used in fluid replacement therapy.

frequent, when his immune system was not as developed. Now, however, the transfusions are only necessary about once a year. The last time he needed one was toward the beginning of his sophomore year, nearly two years ago. “The condition itself can lead to symptoms that are intense, and I’ve had periods where, because of the condition, I’ve been bedridden for two whole days or something,” Beiting said. “[The episodes are] extremely random. There’s almost no way to tell [when I’m going to have one]. The only way is if I get sick. Then that’s an indicator that in the next few days or maybe a week or so, I might slip into an episode.” Beiting said that his TTP was genetically inherited, as both of his parents happened to be carriers of the recessive allele. Beiting also has a younger brother and sister who have the condition Although he admitted it can be a burden sometimes and that it causes him to be more careful of illness in his surroundings, Beiting said that he could have it worse. “[I realize] that others may have it worse [than I do],” Beiting said. “Sometimes if I feel really sick, or I’m like, ‘Why do I have to have this condition?’ it makes me think, well, this isn’t the worst it could be.” From a financial standpoint, Brown said that because he gets paid, donating plasma is definitely worth the time and side-effects, and he will continue to give in the future. “I wouldn’t suggest against it,” Brown said. “I don’t find a problem with it, and [doctors] say it saves a lot of lives.” SM

If a mother is exposed to the infant’s blood during birth, it can cause health problems. If the mother has an intramuscular injection of anti-Rh antibodies right before or immediately following the birth of her child, this can be prevented. Plasma serves as a component in this disease prevention.

Pre-birth OR


Kevin Daniels, Field Leader of blood drives at Hoxworth Blood Centers, said that it is the job of Hoxworth employees to make sure every item used during the blood-drawing process comes out of a single-use kit, thus ensuring the blood is not contaminated. “Every kit that we open up, everybody gets a brand new bag, [so] the needle is only used one time,” Daniels said. According to Daniels, employees at Hoxworth also have Standard Operating Procedures that they are required to follow, which further decrease the risk of contamination. Hoxworth requires that donors must be at least 17 years old in order to give blood without parental consent. They also must weigh at least 110 lbs and be in good health when donating. Donors will be ineligible to give blood at Hoxworth if they have recently had a major surgery, if they are pregnant or if they have had an allergy shot less than six hours prior to their donation. Hoxworth also asks that donors not drink any caffeinated or alcoholic beverages before and after donating. After donating whole blood, a person must wait 56 days before donating again. It is vitally important that the donors consume food and water after they give blood so that they do not pass out or become lightheaded. In the same respect, BioLife Plasma Services manager Dan Keal stressed the importance in staying hydrated before and after a plasma donation. “Plasma is about 90 percent water, so hydration is key,” Keal said. SM | Spark | 13

news | district


[The West Chester Land Use Plan] was created decades ago by the forefathers to guide and develop our township.


After many delayed meetings, the West Chester Township Zoning Commission voted against development of a new Kroger along Tylersville and State Route 747. West Chester residents hold Stop Kroger signs to protest the new Kroger development.

story lauren fang photos madi root infographic halley davidson


espite West Chester Township Zoning Commission’s 4-1 vote against the development of Ohio’s second largest Kroger marketplace on State Route 747 (SR) and Tylersville Road on March 18, and the developer’s withdrawal of its current proposals as a result, the new Kroger could still be built. On the day of the vote, West Chester Twp. Hall’s main meeting room, lobby and two conference rooms were filled to capacity as more than 100 West Chester residents and Smith Road and SR 747 Kroger employees occupied the building. Two days later, Kroger sent an email out to West Chester Twp. officials stating its decision to withdraw its plans, although it did not indicate whether a new one would be submitted. Commission members did not approve the plan due to community concerns that were not satisfactorily addressed. Several members also requested that Kroger come up with a new proposal that would comply with the current

Neighborhood Supermarkets

2004 Land Use Plan, which states that the land is to function as a transitional area between development and homes. However, director of Site Acquisition and Development for Silverman and Company Tim Burgoyne said that Silverman has been sensitive to the Land Use Plan. “This is a community oriented development,” Burgoyne said. “It’s not like an IKEA or a Target that’s going to draw from 20 or 50 miles. Our company has done residential development for over 35 years, and we’re one of the few companies that do both commercial and residential.” Commission member Scott Gilliam acknowledged that the development could bring business to the community, but said that the proposal was too unpopular with residents. “Look at the 677 petition signatures [that the residents obtained in seven months],” Gilliam said. “That takes a little effort. This is our community speaking to us.”

There are already several food distributors within five miles of the proposed location of the new Kroger Marketplace.


- Meijer -Walmart

- Target - Kroger Tylersville Rd -On Tylersville Road

- Creekside ESC, West Freshman Campus and Wokini Academy information google maps

14 | Spark | April 9, 2013

Tylersville Rd



Tylersville Rd




4.0 mile





news | district

4.8 4.1 miles 4.8 mi


Tylersville Rd

Vice chairman and 22 year West Chester resident Jim Williams agreed and said that he did not want to second guess a Land Use Plan that has been “on point” for the last 20 years. “Kroger needs to plan in conjunction with the Land Use Plan, not ask for changes,” Williams said. Township planner Bryan Behrmann said that if Silverman provides a new plan that conforms with the current residential zoning, it could go back to the West Chester Twp. Zoning Commission instead of starting the whole application process over again with the Butler County Planning Commission. “Silverman missed the March 12 deadline to submit a plan for the zoning commission’s next meeting on April 15,” Behrmann said. “If the developer submits a new plan by April 16, there is a chance it can be reviewed at the zoning commission’s May 20 meeting.” But whether or not the zoning commission gives its recommendations in the near future, “the ultimate say so” will be made by the West Chester Board of Trustees, according to Board member George Lang, who said the trustees would likely support whatever decision was made by the commission. “In my 10 years on the Board, we have never overturned a decision of the zoning commission,” Lang said. “We’ve never denied, but we have accepted with condition, so we have made changes to what the zoning commission did.” Community backlash against the development of a new Kroger marketplace began after West Chester residents, who would be directly impacted by the construction, were informed of an application for a zoning change. On Sept. 10, civil engineering, surveying, land planning and landscape architecture design firm Bayer Becker had requested that the 35 acres of land surrounding Tylersville and 747

be changed from R-1A Suburban Residence to Commercial Planned Unit Development so that Silverman could build a 133,000 squarefoot Kroger in Phase 1 and reserve 40,000 square feet for other commercial businesses for Phase 2. On Oct. 9, Silverman gained the Butler County Planning Commission’s approval of its proposals. Later that day, West Chester Resident Thomas Eggert began organizing a campaign against the development of a new marketplace called “Stop Kroger.” “We had approximately [six] days between Oct. 9 and Oct. 15 to gather and start our opposition team,” Eggert said. “Once the zoning commission saw what kind of opposition they had and the questions that were unanswered as well, they decided to [table the next meeting] and give us more time.” In preparation for the next meeting, which was scheduled to take place on Nov. 19, “Stop Kroger” campaigners began utilizing social media in late October to inform the community. During this time, West Chester resident Challis Hodge launched “Social media has been effective [because] it has given us a place to come together,” Hodge said. “It doesn’t necessarily have an extensive reach beyond our neighborhood, but in terms of coordinating communication, it was good.”

Still, digital communication played a huge role in the campaign. A fourth of the 677 petition signatures gained by people who were opposed to any rezoning of the subject property were collected digitally, according to Hodge. “Stop Kroger” signs were also created and distributed to residents of neighboring subdivisions that would be directly impacted by the new development. Two postponed meetings and four months later, Silverman attended the March meeting. At that point, Eggert and his neighbors had already raised enough money to hire Tim Mara, an attorney who addressed the West Chester Zoning Commision and spoke on behalf of Stop Kroger constituents about the “negative impacts this shopping center would have on homes, families and the community at large.” Burgoyne, on the other hand, said that great communities are more than just the homes and are “[made by] the level and types of services that are offered [such as] retail and shopping.” Negative impacts discussed during the public comment segment of the meeting included unnecessary smells, light and noise that could reduce quality of life as well as crime and decreased property values. The two concerns mentioned most, however, were over traffic safety and adherence to the Land Use Plan. Although a traffic impact study (TIS) on the area, conducted by Bayer Becker, was approved by both the Butler County Engineer’s Office and the Ohio Department of Transportation, West Chester resident and retired MiamiDayton police officer Stephen Harris still did not feel that traffic safety was adequately addressed. “This area is near Wokini Academy, Lakota West Freshman School and Creekside Early Childhood Development Center,” Harris said. “Out of the 285 pages [in the study report], 200 pages were graphs, charts and algorithms. The only mention of traffic safety is on page 48, and it’s two sentences long.” These two sentences stated that intersection

Kroger employees and West Chester residents wait for the commission’s vote on March 18.

sight distance was not an issue and that “school zones or pedestrian plans were not developed or evaluated as part of [the] study,” despite what the traffic accidents and crash reports provided by the West Chester Police Department spanning from Feb. 2012 to March 2013 showed, which was that Tylersville was a dominant factor in all the cases. Butler County Engineer’s Office Matthew Loeffler argued that the study was accurate. “It really only took into account the vehicles, and there was a comment made regarding a safe walking environment for pedestrians,” Loeffler said. “But it’s likely that the impacts would be less going forward only because the consultant used a very conservative estimation on what land uses would be in.” The one community residential proponent for the Kroger development was Etta Reed, the Principal of Bayer Becker. “As a resident of the Foxborough subdivision, caddy corner of the development, safety is a big concern [for my family],” Reed said, “but we reviewed the TIS, and we don’t feel like it will create safety hazards.” Residents proposed alternative locations, such as the empty lot where Biggs grocery story used to be located near Union Centre Pavilion

202 out of 296 East students surveyed don’t want a Kroger Marketplace on State Route 747 and Tylersville Road. Dr., but Kroger Real Estate Manager for the Cincinnati and Dayton area Lisa Ammons, who has been involved in over 35 new store developments, said that relocation to this area is not a possibility. “That site has been presented to us before, during and after the Biggs occupancy,” said Ammons, who has been in her current position for 18 years. “The location doesn’t meet our business model site criteria or lend itself to a retail grocery store location, at least not for Kroger. That is evidenced by Biggs’ closing.” While Burgoyne said that he did not see a vision for the plan that would be agreeable to the community, he said Silverman is still willing to talk with anyone about the development. “We thought we understood their suggestions and made substantial changes to the plan to accommodate,” Burgoyne said, “but what we’ve heard is, ‘No, there’s no way we want this,’ and I don’t know how to change this plan.” SM | Spark | 15

news | district

As stated in Article 15 of the Ohio Constitution, part of the tax from gross casino revenue must be used to fund primary and secondary educatio.

As schools in the state scramble for funding and new casino revenue becomes available, districts are saying


M NEY story mohinee mukherjee photo illustration michael tedesco infographic cameron drake


espite receiving $351, 697.12 from gross casino revenues from Horseshoe Cleveland, Hollywood Casino Toledo, and Hollywood Casino Columbus on Jan. 31, and projections of receiving income from the casinos twice a year in the future, the amount is not sizable compared to Lakota Local School District’s daily operating cost. Logan said that this payment is the first to take place for all school districts in the state. The funds, she said, are anticipated, but not restricted revenue, and will go into Lakota’s general fund, as Ohio’s constitution states that the money can only be used for primary and secondary education. “[The revenue] comes in, is pooled with all the other funds in the general fund and then spent accordingly,” Logan said. “It will be spent on all the things in our budget. It’s not targeted for one particular thing.” Logan originally projected receiving $340,000 from the casino tax distribution, which she said is less than one day’s operating expense, as Lakota spends over $400,000 a day. Although very grateful for the funds, Logan said the amount actually received is not a substantial amount. “We are always eager to take any additional funds the state wants to send our way,” Logan said, “but [the funds] did not make an impact to our overall budget.” According to Article 15 of Ohio’s

16 | Spark | April 9, 2013

constitution, there is a 33 percent tax on gross casino revenues. Thirty-four percent of that amount is distributed to the 88 counties in the state, in proportion to each county’s public school district student populations at the time of allocation. 5753.11 of the Ohio Revised Code states how the tax commissioner calculates the amount of funds for each particular public

220 out of 308 East students surveyed believe that a tax should be placed on gross casino revenue to fund public school districts in Ohio. school district: the total student population in each county is divided by the sum of the total student population in all 88 counties. That amount is multiplied by funds in the gross casino revenue county student fund, which determines the amount for each county. This number is multiplied by the quotient of the student population of each public school

district divided by the total public school student population in the county. Although the formula allows for school districts with higher numbers of students to receive more money, Ohio Casino Control Commission director of Communications Tama Davis said that the per-pupil amount for every public school student is the same. At the end of January, the per-pupil amount was about $20. By law, the tax commissioner must make these distributions twice a year on or before Jan. 31 and Aug. 31. The Ohio Jobs and Growth Committee funded the proposal, known as Issue 3 or the Four Casinos Initiative, about opening casinos in Ohio on the ballot in 2009. The initiative passed, and an amendment was added to Ohio’s constitution that permits only one casino in four designated locations: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo and within Franklin County. Rock Ohio Caesars LLC (ROC), a joint venture between Midwest-based Rock Gaming LLC and Caesars Entertainment Corporation, developed Horseshoe Columbus, which opened in May 2012, and Horseshoe Cincinnati, which opened on March 4. A ROC representative could not comment, as ROC Public Relations associate Samantha Chyette stated that it was within its policy not to “market the casino in any way, shape or form to minors.” Because Ohio’s constitution sets the number

news | district of casinos and the percentage of revenue that is taxed, neither aspect can be changed without another referendum. At the same time, the Constitution states that tax collection and distributions to public school districts and local governments are intended to supplement, not supplant any funding obligations of the state. Nonetheless, Logan is concerned that this doctrine may change. She said that she is hesitant to “count on” the casino money because of the situation with the Ohio lottery profits allegedly supplanting, or replacing, funds from other sources for school districts. Article 15, section six of the Ohio Constitution states the entire net proceedings of any lottery are paid into a fund of the state treasury that only contains these proceeds. The money in the fund may solely be used for supporting elementary, secondary, vocational and special education as determined through appropriations made by the General Assembly. According to an article published by The Columbus Dispatch, school officials have claimed that “for every extra dollar generated by the lottery that goes to schools, a dollar is taken out of the state’s general-fund allocation to districts across the state.” The article also said that in 2001, the state reduced general-fund money by $40 million because it anticipated that $40 million from the newly added Powerball would fund schools. Additionally, the article mentioned that in 2012, when lottery profits exceeded estimates, the extra money was put in a “rainy day” fund. Chief of the Education Section of the Office of Budget and Management Matthew Martin said the last claim was true. Although the lottery brought in more money last year than anticipated, he said, the administration determines the amount that will be sent into school districts a year in advanced. For this reason, Martin said, there could not be an immediate change made to the education funds. As for a decrease in general funds, Martin said that in his experience, there has not been a case where the lottery money supplanted general funds for education. “The states contribution to state-only money for education has increased every year, as long as I’ve been in this job,” said Martin, who has served in this position for eight years. “Lottery money, similarly, has increased every year. Lottery and regular state tax money going to school districts have both increased year after year for at least eight years.” In regards to a similar situation arising with the casino funds, Ohio Department of Education associate director of communications John Charlton is unsure that the current amendment will be altered. “Right now, a certain percentage is required to go to the schools from the casino money,” Charlton said. “Quite honestly, [Ohio] Governor Kasich’s proposed budget does not use casino revenues to fund the proposed

formula.” Charlton added that the concern of certain funds supplanting other money is “the kind of push back you get from people that support the schools.” “They will say that, ‘[The state] uses the casino money to supplant other monies, so the same amount of money is going to the school,’ but that’s really not true,” Charlton said. “The funding formula is based on the number of students and the certain dollar amount per student and things of that nature. It doesn’t even take [casino revenue] into consideration.” Logan is still worried because of possible changes that could be made to Kasich’s proposal for his biennial budget. “Things could change during the legislative process, so we’re keeping our eyes open to see if there [are] going to be any changes,” Logan said. The second rounds of distribution, scheduled for the end of August, are projected to include revenue from Horseshoe Cincinnati. With the opening of this casino, Logan anticipates receiving additional revenue for Lakota in the future. She added that future distributions of the casino revenue might increase. “When I took a look at the initial [projections], we got some estimates,” Logan said. “It is estimated that we could receive a million dollars a year.” SM

SIDENOTE: COMPARING FUNDS FROM CASINOS Lakota Local Schools $351,697.12 Mason City Schools $223,941.72 Fairfield City Schools $206,876.97 Princeton City Schools $105,103.56 Sycamore City Schools $111,004.26 Middletown City Schools $131,877.27


Article 15, section 3 of the Ohio Constitution states that gross casino revenue are taxed at 33 percent and must be distributed in certain areas of the state.

5 percent Host City Fund

34 percent Public Student Fund

3 percent Casino Control Commission

51 percent Counties based on population

2 percent Law Enforcement


2 percent Gambling/Substance abuse information ohio constitution

3 pecent Ohio state racing commission to promote horse racing | Spark | 17

lifestyle | east pinterest

East students “pin” their favorite items at the moment.

East Pinterest as told to courtney yanzsa | photos madi root

Rings “I first started wearing rings last year, I have about 25 now. I started wearing rings because I needed new accessories. I got my favorite ring, which has an infinity sign on it, at Kohl’s.”

The Parent Trap “I can watch The Parent Trap over and over and not get tired of it. Ever since watching The Parent Trap, I’ve always wanted a twin identical sister and red hair. It reminds of summer and being young and all of the fun things that I used to do.”

Leather Jacket Senior Pam Wood

Junior Yana Yaremchuk

“I got my leather jacket from JCPenny over the summer because it was a good price. I like it because it’s comfortable and warm and I can wear it with a lot of different shirts.”

Junior Erin White

The Hunger Games Perfect North “I probably went to Perfect North at least twice a week [this winter]. With a silver pass, you can go any day of the week except Saturday. Tons of my friends go and that’s why I started going.”

Senior Tyler Phillips 18 | Spark | April 9, 2013

“My favorite part of the series is when the first the first Hunger Games was over and Katniss and Peeta both won because they found the loophole. I like Peeta most out of all the characters because he’s strong and compassionate.”

Junior Jacob Clancy

Galaxy S3 ”My Galaxy S3 can do anything; it’s better than the iPhone. I like it because it has a big screen and gets the job done Also, there are a bunch of cool games. My favorites are ‘Bike Race’ and ‘Minecraft.’”

Sophomore Keith Jessee | Spark | 19

lifestyle | prom

lifestyle | prom

Prom The prom market is growing. The average tuxedo and dress cost has risen, along with the overall cost of entertainment at after-prom and the total cost of a date, dinner and the dance. Bridal businesses are benefiting from the increasing interest in what has become known as a night to remember.

story jasmine tuazon | infographic irfan ibrahim | photos michael tedesco

20 | Spark | April 9, 2013


he’s a little embarrassed. As she works the arithmetic in her head, it seems like the total is rising exponentially with her selfconsciousness. The spray tan was $30. The couple dinner was $50. The nails were $70. The dress was $215 . . . “Probably $600 total,” she tallies. She shrinks back a little, “not wanting to come off as spoiled.” After all, the price tag of East senior Staci Burkel’s junior prom is a purchase many students and parents would steer away from. According to a 2012 national telephone survey conducted by Visa, however, Burkel only spent a little over half the national average on prom: $1,078, up $271 from the 2011 average of $807 spent on expenses like hair, accessories, transportation, photographers and so on. Despite this, as the person in charge of organizing her prom group of 14 people, Burkel took many measures to try reducing the group’s expenses. “Last year I decided on a limo because it was a little cheaper than a party bus, which I’m going to have this year, and I wasn’t going to go full out for junior prom. And because limos go hourly, our group used our time before prom and didn’t have it wait on us during the actual event,” Burkel says. “For dinner, we went and looked at different places near where prom was held and considered stuff like price, trying to keep it between $10-15 for each person, not including drinks or appetizers.” For her largest purchase, Burkel spent much time looking through several stores for her senior year prom dress. “I just recently got my dress for $215 from Caché,” Burkel says. “Before that, I went to about six bridal stores, Arden B., Macy’s and BCBGMAXAZRIA looking for a dress.” Rather than wait until closer to prom, Burkel decided to look for her dress two months in advance to “beat the rush” and make sure she had the perfect dress. While many girls follow this same plan, David’s Bridal store manager Ruth Ann Underhill, who has worked for the store for a little under a year, says that there is not a certain time when they will see an influx of girls buying prom dresses. “There is no real trend for when girls will decide to buy their dresses,” Underhill says. “Much of it depends on when they are asked,

and those who want a larger selection will begin looking in the fall when the dresses are first delivered.” In addition to their services of in-house alterations and matching up to 42 dress colors with their partner store Men’s Warehouse, Underhill’s Springdale David’s Bridal location also provides free prom dress shows for local high schools to feature their dresses to students. Mitchell’s Salon and Day Spa, and their sister salon Pump Salon, like David’s Bridal, sees increases in business around prom season. Marketing director Logan Schmidt says that during the prom season, Pump Salon sees a spike for special occasion hair and blowouts. “Nails, hair and makeup are what most girls come in to do. Sometimes they will get a brow wax a few days beforehand, some will get a pedicure if they have open-toed shoes,” Schmidt says, “If there is a Saturday when a school has a prom, about 50, upwards of 60 percent of our clients will be high school girls.” At Mitchell’s Salon and Day Spa, there are wedding or party packages that could be applied to prom, but Schmidt says that some years they may have a promotion that would include a package for prom. Businesses aren’t the only ones trying to set up prom package deals for students. East’s Prom and After Prom committees will be offering new packages this year “to help streamline the process of ticket sales and info by allowing students to purchase Prom and After Prom tickets together,” according to After Prom Committee co-advisor Laura Roseblossom. For the first week of ticket sales starting April 10, the package for both Prom and After Prom tickets is $50, compared to the $40 Prom tickets and $20 After Prom tickets if bought separately. Prices rise the second week of sales on April 18, but students will be able to get a package of $65 if they buy both tickets, compared to the $50 Prom tickets and $25 After Prom tickets if bought separately. Students who purchase tickets by the end of the first sales week on April 17 will be in a drawing to win a “Grand Prize Prom Package Giveaway,” which includes a dinner for two at Casa Bianca, a $100 Gift Certificate from Jimmy’s Limousine, corsage and boutonniere from Nina’s Florist, a $50 gift certificate for Lia Sophia accessories, hair styling and makeup from Lunatic Fringe Selon, a full set of nails with | Spark | 21

lifestyle | prom a pedicure from Snow Nails, Black Tuxedo Deluxe package from Schrader’s Formalwear, two Prom tickets, and two After Prom tickets. Roseblossom says that After Prom, which has averaged about 700 students in the past, compared to the 800-900 students that Prom Committee co-advisor Jane Chick estimates will attend the main event, runs on a budget of approximately $25,000 raised through fundraising of selling camo pants, yard signs, corsages and boutonnieres, tuxedos, tickets and donations. “The majority of the budget is spent on entertainment–– almost half goes to all the entertainment pieces of After Prom, so we can provide the students with so many activities, they won’t get bored and will stay until the end,” Roseblossom says. “The next two areas are food and decorations.” Roseblossom says that the After Prom committee contacts 100 local businesses for donations, a gift card donation or sponsorship of a raffle prize. All businesses that donate to prom are listed in the program that is handed to the public when they come to walk-through from 8-10 p.m. on Saturday evening, and that money will be used for activities like caricature artists, karaoke, dodgeball, ping pong, haunted

maze, limbo contest, casino, laser tag, tricycle races and airbrush tattoos. “Everything we have planned is a direct result of student surveys we had at the beginning of the school year,” Roseblossom says. “Some items were not logistically able to happen or the cost was so high that we just couldn’t do it. We are pleased with the variety of activities the students will have to choose from, and we are hoping that with our exciting Haunted Caribbean Island theme and more activities and students generating excitement among friends, we will be over 700 people from last year.” While both students and the Prom and After Prom committees will spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on the event each year, many agree that the money spent is well worth it. “My brother and sister still have their prom pictures up around the house, and I’ve seen my mom’s photos, so I know it’s something we will look back on down the road, and I want to look nice,” Burkel says. “Even though it’s only a couple hours and a lot of money, it’s still really fun, and I’m just trying to have a good time.” SM

Everything we have planned is a direct result of student surveys we had at the beginning of the school year. We are very pleased with the variety of activities the students will have to choose from.

ASKING SOMEONE TO PROM? Email your own “promposals” to OR tweet them @lakotaeastspark.

22 | Spark | April 9, 2013

13 percent of 118 East girls surveyed said they are willing to spend more than $500 on a prom dress.

16 percent of 297 East students surveyed spend more than $500 on prom.

Scan this QR code with a smartphone to see more of East’s most interesting “promposals.” | Spark | 23

lifestyle | prom

lifestyle | prom

50 percent of 314 East students surveyed are attending prom this year.



Whether it’s due to having other plans, such as dance or robotics competitions, or a disliking for school dances, some East students opt out of attending prom. story emily haynes | photo illustration michael tedesco


he music was thumping in her ear. She couldn’t even hear own thoughts, let alone her friends’ voices. East junior Katie Fuhr started to question why school dances like homecoming and prom are even considered fun. “I really like going out to dinner and hanging out with my friends,” Fuhr says, “but once you get [to prom], it feels like a waste.” After Fuhr’s experience at homecoming this year, she and her friends, East juniors Halie Sullivan and Alexis Park and sophomore Alex Mohr, have decided to forgo prom. In lieu of the dance, the four girls are going to dinner and watching movies until after prom. “I would rather be social with my friends than blow my eardrums at prom,” Park says. “I got home [after homecoming] and my ears were ringing for hours. I can’t sleep after that!” For the friends, who know each other from band and colorguard, the whole environment at the dances doesn’t feel right. Loud music, dark lighting and provocative dancing do not seem worth the expenses. Sullivan, a selfproclaimed “tomboy”, is especially against the whole process of preparing and spending for prom. “Spending all of that money on a dress, makeup and hair is ridiculous,” Sullivan says. “I sat with my friends while she got her hair done for hours last year, drinking a root beer. Sullivan, who would rather be watching a University of Kentucky basketball game than picking out a dress, doesn’t see prom as a rite

24 | Spark | April 9, 2013

of passage like most other high school students. She would rather attend after prom in her sweats while socializing with her friends than waste all of her time primping.

A Different Dance

East junior Bailee Jesse will be primping on April 27 not for prom, but for her dance performance at Epcot in Orlando, Florida for the annual Dance Worlds competition. “I’m disappointed I can’t go to prom because I won’t be with my friends,” the Star Performance Centre (SPC) dancer says. “But Worlds is such a great experienceit cancels out.” In her six years as a dancer at SPC, Jesse

“I would rather be social with my friends than blow my eardrums at prom.”

has had her dance schedule conflict with other events. Most recently, she almost missed homecoming this past year as a result of a competition. Her boyfriend of three months, East senior Chris Elam, has mixed feelings about her absence at prom while he attends the dance. “I do feel bad not going with her since I will be leaving soon and would like to have this special night to remember,” Elam says. “But I understand where she is coming from because Worlds for dance is like the equivalent to the World Series for baseball. And honestly, as prom is in the middle of baseball season, I wouldn’t have had much time for [prom] planning.” Jesse’s teammate, East senior Taylor Hennessy, has never been to prom either, but she would never complain. “Dance is my number one priority,” she says. “Worlds is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. [I get to meet] other people in the world who share the same passion as me.” For Jesse and Hennessy, dancing is more exhilarating on a stage in Orlando than on a ballroom floor at the Sharonville Convention Center. Hennessy goes even as far to say that “there is nothing in the world” she would rather be doing than dancing in front of all of those in attendance at the Worlds competition.


The students piled into the third floor of Hyatt Regency Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.

Some girls in gowns, others in t-shirts. Some boys in tuxes, others in sweats. One boy was even dressed up as the robot backup dancer from the Party Rock Anthem music video. But nobody cared, because this wasn’t an average prom. This was RoboProm. RoboProm is an alternative dance for robotic clubs attending the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Worlds Competition that often coincides with their prom. East’s robotics club was part of that group last year, and potentially this year if the team qualifies again.

“[RoboProm] is basically the same as school prom, but less expensive and includes people from all over the world,” East junior Scott Crowder says. Team 399, a robotics club at Lancaster High School in California that also participate in FIRST, had students attending a Worlds Competition in 2007 who were sacrificing their own prom for robotics. To prevent themselves and any other students from missing out on prom, Team 399 created RoboProm. They held the dance at a hotel for any students who were willing to pay the $20 fee. Because it was such a huge success, the team has continued hosting the event for the past six years. Crowder was one of the eight East students who attended RoboProm last year. The dance,

Prom Summit


n Friday, March 22, 51 J. Kyle Braid (JKB) members and coach and counselor-nominated juniors and seniors from East and West teamed up with the Alcohol and Chemical Abuse Council of Ohio (ACACO) to come up with ideas to promote safe prom and graduation activities at West Chester Activity Center. The day began at 9 a.m. with free Stan the Donut man donuts offered to everyone attending. Shortly after, JKB members showed a Powerpoint outlining the goals of the day, as well as sharing ideas they had already brainstormed. Superintendent Karen Mantia then gave a few words to students about the importance of safe prom activities. “Drinking and drugs are not a part of [prom] and they can’t be,” Mantia said. “I’ve had students die on that very night and it was because it was a decision they made to skip out on prom and it ended in a tragedy.” After the presentation, guest speaker Susan Monnin, who had lost her 21-year-old son Daniel to an accident while under the influence of alcohol, spoke to the students. “As a parent, I want you to see how it affects us when you make bad decisions,” she said to the students with teary eyes. “Please come up with some alternatives so you can remember

according to junior Josh Doerbaum, got so intense that the floor was actually moving up and down with the dancing. Both prefer RoboProm, which Doerbaum referred to as “a dance for the socially awkward,” to the traditional prom held at East. “Nobody feels awkward because we’re all nerds and feel comfortable together,” Crowder says. “Even if there was no RoboProm, I would still go to Worlds rather than prom.” Unlike her other teammates, senior Katy Doyle has some reservations about missing prom for the second time. “I would love to go [to prom], but I also love spending time with my second family,” Doyle says. “I don’t really know many people at East since it’s so large, but I now know over half of the people at RoboProm.” For the three teammates, the experience of the Worlds competition outweighs attending prom. If given the opportunity to choose between prom and Worlds, Doerbaum and Crowder do not believe that they would choose prom because of the immense costs. “RoboProm is cheaper and more fun,” Doerbaum says. “I get to hang out with all of my friends in robotics and new people from all over the country.” SM

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[prom] for the rest of your life and your parents will be thrilled to see you when you walk through the door.” The students then broke into five groups and worked together to think of safe and fun ideas for prom time, including having spirit week dress-up days, a pre-prom assembly, and a video promoting “above the influence” activities the week before prom. “We wanted East and West to come together and not be a competition all the time,” said Principal of Lakota West Elgin Card. “[Rather, they] come together for a great cause to help

“Drinking and drugs are not part of prom and they can’t be.”

other kids.” President and CEO of ACACO Tom Kelechi said it is not only a good idea to have East and West students devising strategies, but also to follow through with those strategies. “The important thing is for the students to all go through graduation together,” he said. “[We want] no seat unfilled.” For East junior Kelsey Forren the issue of drinking and driving hits close to home because her uncle’s best friend was killed in high school because of it. “Drunk driving has affected my family, and my little cousin is named after my uncle’s friend,” said Forren, who was one of the JKB facilitators at the summit. “I think at the summit today we came up with a lot of good plans that will be beneficial at both schools to prevent [such] activities.” After eating Uno’s pizza for lunch, all students sat in a circle to share what they accomplished that day. The meeting finished off when East principal Suzanna Davis suggested each student tweet a positive message with a common hashtag. The students decided to tweet “#betheinfluence.” “[I hope] these activities cause people to take one minute to step back and think twice about their decisions,” Davis said. “Then we’ve succeeded.” SM | Spark | 25

lifestyle | prom


Average national prom dress cost in 2012

Left: Club Dress is located inside Bridal and Formal. Top: The shop sells a variety of dresses ranging from $100-500. Bottom: A disco ball hangs from the top of Club Dress.

Yes Dress to



If the rhinestones aren’t right, then it’s back on the rack. Once the tag of the ideal dress is scanned and ripped off, there’s no looking back. For some girls, the only thing worse than an ugly prom dress is looking across the dance floor and seeing someone else wearing the same dress. And the computer at the bridal and formal shop works wonders. Once a girl buys a dress, the employees enter that dress’ bar code and color into the computer to prevent any other girl attending the same school from buying it. On top of the large dress selection and nonduplication system, Club Dress shoppers adore the employees’ attention. East senior Madeline Garda praises the store’s service.

Club Dress is located in the largest bridal district in North America and organizes its dresses by both size and color.

“They were all super nice and helpful,” Garda says. “They gave me their honest opinion on each dress [and told me] whether it looked good or bad.” Not only do employees guide shoppers through three rooms full of dresses, but they also sell jewelry and hair accessories. Racks on the walls are lined with sparkling earrings to compliment the perfect dress. Club Dress even has several pairs of heels to try on with

the dresses, mimicking what it will look like on prom night. Mimicking the popular saying from the TLC show “Say Yes to The Dress”, once a girl decides on her dress, the workers take a picture of the girl holding a sign that reads “I said yes to the dress.” Because of the large selection and great customer service, Club Dress makes saying “yes to the dress” a stress-free event. Finding a date is another story. SM

Located at the heart of North America’s largest Bridal District, Club Dress not only gives customers a unique shopping experience, but also ensures there are no dress duplicates at prom. story kenzie walters | photos michael tedesco


hen a light switch on the far wall in the foyer of Club Dress is flipped, the prom dress store immediately lives up to its name. The lights go down and a disco ball on the ceiling starts to spin, bringing a little piece of prom to the upstairs of a bridal shop. East junior Rachel Vachon had already waded through five different stores, searching for a dress. But when Vachon found herself standing in the center of that foyer with the disco ball overhead, she knew she had come to the right place to find her perfect prom dress. Situated in the Bridal District in Reading, Ohio, Club Dress has been ensuring its customers the ideal prom shopping experience since the store first started selling prom dresses in 2006. According to employee Megan Pippin, Club Dress sees 10-15 shoppers on a weekday and as many as 50 dress hunters a day on the weekend. Rainbow-colored arrows guide shoppers through the maze of wedding and bridesmaids’ dresses to the upstairs of the shop. The staircase gives way to several brightly painted rooms full of prom dresses.

26 | Spark | April 9, 2013

The dresses are organized first by size and then by color. Club Dress has over 1500 dresses by 15 different designers in stock. Shipments of freshly glittered dresses come in every day ranging in size from 00 to 14. Depending on the amount of sequins the dress is sporting, they can range in price from $99-550. Manager Amber Dickerson says the majority of dresses at the shop however, are between $300 and $500, with the average dress costing about $400. “I liked that they had a lot of dresses that weren’t the same dresses that I kept seeing over and over again,” Vachon says. “I went to a lot of stores at the mall, and all the dresses were either the same or really similar. Club Dress had a lot of variety.”

Although the stock of dresses come out in January, Pippin says that Club Dress starts seeing its first round of girls in early February. Pippin has been an employee at Bridal and Formal for a year and half, and her favorite part of the job is working in Club Dress. “It’s fun to see the dresses,” Pippin says. “And pick out dresses for girls.” Pippin and her fellow employees work their hardest to find dresses that make customers feel like princesses. After searching through countless dress stores, every dress starts to look the same. Club Dress, however, aims to provide new options for weary shoppers. Girls search fervently for weeks to finally stumble on the ideal piece of silk and tulle.

I went to a lot of stores at the mall and all the dresses were either the same or really similar. Club Dress had a lot of variety. | Spark | 27

lifestyle | prom

lifestyle | prom

9:00 a.m.: Showers After breakfast, “the shower cycle,” as the girls call it, begins. Utilizing the four showers in Noble’s house, they start with the girls with the longest and thickest hair to allow maximum hair-drying time. “As people get out of the shower we will start blow drying their hair because it takes forever,” Noble says. “Once everyone’s hair is dry, we start curling hair.”

East senior Kenzie Walters curls Megan Jesse’s hair for the 2012 prom.

All Affair



East seniors Alexis Noble, Megan Jesse, Mallory Webb, Lydia Dangel, Olivia Debevec and Kenzie Walters have getting ready for prom down to a science. With printed out schedules in hand, these friends spend all day together preparing for the biggest night of the year. story alyssa roehm | photos used with permission from jenny walters


ix printed schedules are hand delivered from Alexis Noble to thew group of girls a week prior to the event. Each hour is detailed with exactly what they will be doing in order to be ready on time. It is not for work or school. It’s Prom. For East seniors Alexis Noble, Megan Jesse, Mallory Webb, Lydia Dangel, Olivia Debevec and Kenzie Walters, school dances have always been a big deal, but nothing compares to prom. Prom day is dedicated to getting ready for the biggest night of the year, but it all starts months before. Three months prior to Prom day: dress shopping For these girls it can take anywhere from 45 minutes in one store to countless hours around the Tri-State. Walters, for instance, went to 12

28 | Spark | April 9, 2013

stores before finding her dream dress “Somewhere between Dayton and the [Ohio] river we will find a dress,” Walters says. Though the girls go shopping with each other countless times, there is never a replacement for shopping with that one special person—their moms. “We will shop around with each other and try clothes on, but usually our moms are the ones who [are with us],” Webb says. “Our moms won’t let us buy one if they aren’t there.” In addition to buying dresses, Webb and Jesse start to prepare for prom a month before by using tanning beds while the other girls spray tan a few days before in order to get the “perfect glow.” Prom day 7:30 a.m.: Rise and Shine

The girls sleep over at the house at which they plan to get ready. For homecoming, they stay at Walters’ house, and for Prom at Noble’s. They set alarms according to their schedules and wake up at what Jesse calls “the butt crack of dawn.” “Your alarm is going off, and Alexis is in your face,” Walters says, describing the early morning. 8:00 a.m.: Breakfast Breakfast is important for the girls because it is the only real meal they will have until they go to dinner. Lunch is substituted with snacks eaten while getting ready so they do not waste any time. Noble’s dad always makes breakfast for them. Last year they had biscuits and gravy, eggs and bacon.

10:00 a.m.: Hair The all important task of styling hair is split up between Noble and Webb and takes up a large portion of the day’s schedule. Noble styles her own hair as well as Dangel’s and Debevec’s while Webb is in charge of hers, Walters’ and Jesse’s. “The gist is, Mallory will curl your entire head,” Walters says. “Then it all gets pinned on top of your head.” The girls do not remember how they got the idea, but for their Sophomore homecoming Walters, Webb, Jesse and Noble traded their silver hair pins for each of them to wear in their hair. They have continued this tradition by wearing the pins no matter if it matches their dress or not.

bottom of the steps. Then we’ll do pictures at Alexis’ then we’ll have to get in the car [to go to dinner].” 5:15 p.m.: Dinner and more photos Dinner reservations are planned weeks ahead and usually revolve around where pictures are to be taken. Last year, the girls and their dates went downtown to Nada because they wanted pictures at the Aronoff Center. “My mom is a photographer so that’s why it looks like we’re crazy because our pictures are nice,” Walters says. “It’s pretty much, I say, ‘I want my picture taken in front of this, this and this’ and we find a restaurant in front of it.” 8:00 p.m.: Prom After a long day of getting ready and going

to dinner, the girls finally arrive to the dance exactly on time, ready to have a blast. “Last year I was the first person on the dance floor; no one would dance with me,” Webb says. “There was a huge crowd of people and I was the only one on the dance floor.” *** As their last year together comes to an end, the girls know this is going to be their last big event before going to college. “It is our last thing together,” Jesse says. “I talked to them about getting ready for graduation, but it won’t be the same. It’s not prom or anything.” The girls’ method of getting ready may seem a little hectic for a school dance. But for them Prom is not just a school dance. It is schedule worthy. SM

Top: Walters, Noble, Jesse and Webb pose for a group picture before prom. Bottom: The group of friends snacks on puppy chow while getting ready for Prom.

2:00 p.m.: Final Touches The girls put on their own foundation and blush, and then split up eye makeup duties. Noble and Webb do eye shadow while Jesse and Walters handle the fake eyelashes. “We have never paid for anyone else to do our hair or our makeup,” Noble says. “I mean, obviously, we will buy makeup, [but we don’t pay someone to put it on].” The friends make getting ready for prom a party in its own, and Walters describes it as “bumping some gangster rap.” They also snack while getting ready. Last year the snack of choice was puppy chow that Webb made. “Usually by the time everyone is supposed to be coming over we’re all running around,” Jesse says. “We have run out of time like ‘Oh my gosh,’ we were all zipping each other up and throwing our clothes on.” Because the friends value each others’ opinions, they help each other complete their Prom looks. Last year Jesse brought several types of jewelry so she could ask her friends which one to wear. “The most fun part [of the process] is getting dressed,” Webb says. “We all help each other, with things like with jewelry.” 3:30 p.m.: Pictures After the last-minute touch ups, it is time to meet the dates that have arrived and take group pictures. First, each of the girls does her traditional first picture. “Then we have to hobble down the steps,” Walters says. “We all have pictures at the | Spark | 29

lifestyle | prom

Donated prom dresses fill the room at Liberty Heights Church.

Cinderella C inderella A


Running off of donations from the community, The Esther Project is a church sponsored organization that assits local high school students who have trouble affording the luxuries of prom. story marissa alsip | photos kenzie walters


he people of the Esther Project are fairy godmothers. The magic begins in the lobby of Liberty Heights Church, which is overwhelming. It is easy to get lost with the various hallways and rooms branching off from the lobby. The lobby is filled with people, chairs and books, but there is one thing that does not seem to fit. A clothing rack with a sign promoting “The Esther Project” on it. The rack is full of at least 15 “prom-style” dresses along with multiple pairs of high-heels waiting to be moved to the store in the back of the church. And that’s just from one Sunday. Along with donations from church members, The Esther Project receives donations of dresses, jewelry and high-heels from local businesses and community members. But not every dress is accepted. The volunteers make sure that the dresses they accept are in style and in great condition so that the girls who come in will have a large selection of dresses. “This is the fourth year for The Esther

30 | Spark | April 9, 2013

Project and the word’s starting to get out,” Shannon Anderson, Esther Project coordinator at Liberty Heights church says. “[For example], we didn’t even call Welling & Co. jewelry and they donated two really nice bracelets and

Shopping Dates: April 2: 10:00 - 2:00 March 27: 4:00 - 8:00 March 30: 11:00 - 4:00 April 6 &13: 11:00 - 4:00 earrings. Bridal & Formal called us and said that they had 25 dresses [they could donate] and asked if we would like them.” The Esther Project was started by an organization called 1eighty ministries in Lebanon, OH. The project got its name from a story in the Bible’s book of Esther in which a simple girl became queen. The flyers promoting The Esther Project display the verse, “Strength

and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the failure,” Proverbs 31:25. “The Esther Project is named for a simple girl from the Bible with a ‘queen calling’ on her life,” Anderson says. “We believe that every girl is beautiful on the inside and out, and being treated extra special with lots of love will make them feel like the queen they are. It did not financially cost Esther anything to prepare for her king, so it doesn’t cost the girls that come to the Esther Project anything either.” As the project grew in popularity it separated into its own ministry and began helping other schools in the area. The project spread to Liberty Heights four years ago when Anderson first heard about the project from a friend. At first, Liberty Heights reached out to a local school, but there was a disconnect and no one from that school came to the shop. Then, two years ago, Anderson decided to start focusing her efforts on East, located two miles from the church. In addition to Liberty Heights, New Life Chapel helps reach out to girls at Lakota West,

Heritage Baptist Church to girls at Lebanon City School and Faith Builders Church International to girls at Warren County Career Center. In order to spread word about the project in the community, Anderson sends 75 letters explaining the project to East counselors. The counselors then send out the letters to students they think could use help paying for the costs of prom. From there, the counselors seek out individuals who could benefit most from the project. At East, the program was mentioned over the morning announcements so that even people who did not receive letters have the opportunity to come. “[The project] is designed for people who are having trouble affording prom because we know it’s especially tight this time of year,” Anderson says. “We feel that God has called us to be his hands and feet. This is just one really practical and easy way that we can help show God’s love to these girls.” As a parent, Anderson realizes that things such as prom are not always the top priority when money is tight, but she does not want girls to miss out on the experience. “[We want to show love] not only to the girls but also to the parents because I know, as a parent, all these things start to add up,” Anderson says, “and then you start to pick and choose. We don’t want prom, which is a really special day in a girl’s life, to be stressful. We don’t want a girl to be worried that her parents have to shell out this money.” There are 11 shopping days scattered throughout March and April when girls can come to Liberty Heights church to pick out all the prom necessities. The shop is set up in the back of the church and has its own entrance so that girls can feel like they are going into a real store when they come to shop. When the girls arrive they are asked to sign in with their name, email addresses and schools. This allows Esther Project volunteers to track how many girls come from the school they had reached out to. Last year, there were about 35 girls who came through the dress shop. As the project grows in popularity, so does the selection of dresses. Last year there were 75 dresses for the girls to choose from, and this year there are more than 360 dresses

in sizes ranging from 0 to 24. In addition to dresses, there are tables filled with heels and jewelry that the girls are allowed to keep. The volunteers work to give the girls the full “promdress shopping experience.” “We don’t want the girls to feel like this is a charity, because it’s not,” Anderson says. “This is just our way of loving them. ” After the girls pick out prom dresses they are able to schedule appointments to come and get their hair, make-up and nails done on the day of their prom. The church converts its large student center into a salon where the girls and their parents can come relax and get ready on prom day. The church’s large size gives Anderson access to many professional cosmetologists, hairdressers and manicurists that are willing to donate their time to help the girls get ready. Last year, there were 15 girls that came in to get their hair and makeup done. One of the volunteers who helped the girls get ready is cosmetologist Heidi Evans. “Doing hair has been something I have been passionate about long before I became a licensed professional,” Evans says. “I knew I wanted to be a cosmetologist and work in a salon. However, this is not what defines me. My identity is in Christ, and when I learned of this opportunity to use my skills that God has allowed me to obtain and develop to serve others, I was ecstatic.” The first year that Evans participated in the event, she expected it to be like “another day in the salon.” After participating in the event, however, Evans says that the experience was much more rewarding because of the opportunity getting to know the girls. “Before I served at the event I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Evans says. “The girls came in a little unsure at first, but at the end of their makeover, they were walking out with huge smiles and a confidence that was so amazing to see. The women who served had the opportunity to get to know the girls and speak into their lives, letting them know that they are beautiful and they are loved. I remember one girl saying, ‘No one has ever done anything like this for me.’ That makes it all worth it.” Another volunteer who helped the girls get ready is Tosha Cunningham, who says that the

[The project] is designed for people who are having trouble affording prom because we know it’s especially tight this time of year. This is just one really practical and easy way that we can help show God’s love to these girls.

Along with prom dresses, The Esther Project offers jewelry and shoes free of charge.

girl’s reactions and gratitude make all of the time and effort the volunteers put in to the project worth it. “The girls’ faces when they are all finished [getting ready] are priceless,” Cunningham says. “[The Esther Project] is such a fun way to show these girls that God loves and cares about them. I really feel like everyone involved views this as a ministry and they give the best of what they have.” SM | Spark | 31

lifestyle | photoshoot


With society’s view of gender roles changing, androgynous fashion has spread into the mainstream as men have adopted brighter colors and more “feminine” clothing and women have adopted “masculine” clothing. story natasha rausch | photos michael tedesco | models grace deutsch and kendal legge


everal years ago, males donned pink t-shirts with the words, “Real men wear pink.” Ironically, the boys under those shirts didn’t truly think so. The purpose of the shirt was to point out a socially unaccepted phenomenon and to see how many laughs they could get out of wearing it. That’s not the case anymore. As social norms change, the fashion has changed with it. Men have begun to adopt a more feminine style of dress as women have adopted a more masculine style. This exchange in wardrobe is formally known as androgynous fashion, characterized by short haircuts, loose jeans and baggy shirts for women and long hair, tight pants and v-necks for men. A fashion that has overcome the jokes that follow “Real Men Wear Pink” t-shirts for pink V-necks and fitted pants that men actually wear as as style. According to Adriane Broili, an adjunct fashion professor at the University of Cincinnati and a fashion consultant for various brand agencies, androgynous fashion has been seeing an increase in popularity over the past few years. She first noticed it four and a half years ago in the “trend-forward” city of Brooklyn, New York as she stood in line for the subway. “There were all of these couples [standing in line with me],” Broili says. “All of the girls had short hair, all of the guys had long hair and they were wearing the exact same outfits. So that’s when I first noticed [the androgynous look].

32 | Spark | April 9, 2013

On Grace (left): Denim Jacket, T.J. Maxx $39.99 On Kendal: Black Beanie, Urban Outfitters $14.99; Green Jacket, Target $34.99

Now the style is becoming more mainstream.” According to Broili, the changing societal roles among men and women has promoted the new fashion. When women really had an impact on the workforce in the 80’s, they began wearing the “power suits” with the large shoulder pads. As women took on what used to be considered a more masculine role in society by working, males began to accept that they don’t have to be “all manly.” The shifting roles are evident in the new line of “Boyfriend” products carried by many companies. The androgynous fashion has stemmed from various aspects in society, one of which is relationships. Victoria’s Secret has adopted the idea of the “Boyfriend” sweatpants,

while Fossil has also adopted the new style with their “Boyfriend Watches.” Girls’ jeans have also been a prime example of this relationship phenomenon, as companies have had success with selling looser-fitting jeans similar to what guys generally wear. “There are a lot of trends popping up around the modern relationship,” Broili says. “At one time women had to have a man to be financially secure. But now women are starting to make a lot more money so there is that whole balance between male and female. That is one of the reasons [androgyny] is starting to show up in fashion as well.” According to Kent State fashion professor Vince Quevado, the androgynous fashion has | Spark | 33

lifestyle | photoshoot

lifestyle | photoshoot

On Grace: Red Blazer, T.J. Maxx $39.99; White Shirt, T.J. Maxx $16.99; Blue Slacks, T.J. Maxx $24.99 On Kendal (below on right): Black Fedora, Target $12.99; Black and White Striped Shirt, Kohl’s $28.99; Jeans, H&M $39.95

been slowly evolving over centuries. Beginning in the 14th century, both men and women wore perfume and wigs and had clothing made of silk decorated with embroidery. With the changing needs of the workforce, however, the lavish styles did not work for the clothing needed for the day. Men began to wear more practical clothing with less details and after many years what used to be considered stylish for both men and women, became considered mainly feminine. The Industrial Revolution and World Wars caused women to take on new roles in society, forcing them to also consider more practical clothing such as pants and button up shirts. It then became acceptable for women to wear “bifurcated skirts” (pants) whereas before only skirts or dresses were allowed. “Men who wore women’s clothing were cross-dressers while women who wore men’s clothing were considered ‘active’ or ‘athletic,’” Quevado says. Beyond the slow evolution of society’s definition of masculine and feminine clothing and the effect that the modern relationship has on the new androgynous style, another factor has come into play. Quevado says that men wearing more feminine clothing is the result of the acceptance of the gay movement in today’s society. “Cultures have always defined the roles of men and women within the confines of their values and morals,” Quevado says. “First it was the ‘metro-sexual’ while now it’s acceptable to wear clothing that was once considered feminine. You don’t have to be gay anymore to wear feminine clothing.” In other countries, this more feminine trend among men has been prominent for a much longer time than in the U.S. According to Broili, in 2011, 50 percent of all cosmetics purchased in Asia were bought and used by male consumers. European countries have also begun to take on a more feminine male role in their adoption of male skirts known as utility kilts. Utility kilts are a modernized version of the old-fashioned design generally associated with the Scottish. Broili says that European countries are much more fashion-forward than the U.S and predicts that the country will never be as trendy as other places in the world. Conversely, Quevado thinks that the male skirt is a definite possibility in future fashion breakthroughs.

“Designers have always been challenged to design a man’s skirt without having the negative connotation of being feminine,” Quevado says. “Will it be acceptable at some point for men to wear skirts and dresses? Yes.” For East junior Aidan Morgan, wearing a kilt to school is just like wearing any other article of clothing. He began wearing kilts freshman year and now has three of them, one from the Celtic fest in Cincinnati and two others from the internet. “I mostly get a positive response when I wear it to school,” Morgan says. “Even though I’m not Scottish, I just like to wear them because they are very comfortable.” According to Quevado, men are beginning to feel the same pressure in “looking good” that women have been feeling for centuries. As men take over the more “feminine” fashions with longer hair, skinny jeans and lighter colored wardrobes, women have done the opposite. They have begun to don baggier jeans such as boyfriend pants and some have even chosen a shorter haircut. East junior Ali Douglas was the first of her friends to cut thirteen inches of her hair into a more boyish style known as the “pixie” haircut. “I thought it was a cool look and I kind of wondered if I could pull it off,” Douglas says. “I dated a guy that had shoulder length hair

83 percent of 244 East girls surveyed wear menswear.

34 | Spark | April 9, 2013

over the winter, so it was a little different, but it wasn’t weird. My friends really liked [my haircut] and wished they could pull it off too.” Broili says that the new androgynous fashion is allowing for other male to female trade-offs beyond just the haircuts. Celebrities like Ellen Degeneres and Adam Lambert are leading the androgynous style—Degeneres with her short haircut and suits, and Lambert with his eye makeup and tight jeans. “All of the guys and all of the girls look like they could probably share the same jeans and probably share the same plain shirt that they have on,” says Broili, who used to work for Donneger, a trend-forecasting company, “[Overall with the androgynous fashion] people are dressing very simple with just a lot of basics, which makes the trend very easy to wear.” The goal with androgynous fashion, according to Broili, is to accessorize less and be simpler overall. This makes the trend easier to wear and allows people to avoid being categorized into “social groups.” Because of the simplicity and the changing socio-cultural mindset, Quevado says that the androgynous fashion will continue to become more prominent as time goes on. “The demarcation between men and women’s fashion have blurred,” Quevado says. “Social norms and morals are slowly developing into acceptable levels in industrial worlds. Fashion magazines and catalogs now cater to men who want to look like the ones they see in the media. Like many fashion phases, roles will disappear as time goes on.” SM | Spark | 35


lifestyle | student feature

lifestyle | student feature

I love living on a small farm, having space and not looking out your back window and seeing another person’s house,” - East junior Catherine Bare

Top: East junior Catherine Bare holds her sleeping baby goat on her farm. Bottom: Born this year, Bare’s goat will be shown at the upcoming Butler County Fair.


East junior Catherine Bare grew up watching her siblings participate in 4-H Club. Since age nine, she has been raising and training her own goats for show.

“I had the second best goat at the fair,” Bare says. “It’s my pride and joy, so nobody had ever gotten this award [in my family] or anything close to it until that year.” Although Bare’s awards require spending countless hours preparing for the fair, her father Andrew Bare knows that her hard work pays off during fair week. “[Catherine] would spend her whole week at fair if she could,” Andrew says. “Although fair week is a lot of work, it is also a lot of social time.” This is another reason Catherine enjoys fair week; she gets to spend a majority of her time there with her 4-H club friends, like East senior Ashley Niederman. Like Catherine, Niederman has been showing animals since she was nine years old, but Niederman prefers to show pigs. “Definitely my favorite part [of fair week] is hanging out with all my friends, especially

those in my club,” Niederman says. “In the middle of the week we get together and have a potluck dinner, and at the end of the week, we try to do a [themed] parade together where different clubs build a float.” The 4-H club not only enjoys their activities together, but they always encourage one another to do their best in shows. “Whenever I am at the fair I am always associated with my club,” Bare says. “My advisors are always there to help me out. They’re like an extended family.” This extended family includes five different advisors and around 40 club members. Bare says that 4-H advisor of 30 years Eggy Casey is always present to help the members of her club, from helping them clean to getting water for the animals. Casey says her favorite part of being a 4-H advisor is seeing the members grow and learn new skills.

“[I love to] watch them grow, not only in work ethic, but watching them mature as they go through handling animals,” Casey says. “[I like to see] the experience the kids gain and the knowledge they learn from 4-H.” Catherine’s mother, Jane Bare, feels that Catherine’s experiences raising goats and living on a farm has given her an advantage over those who have not had the same opportunities. “I think [living on a farm] is a great way to grow,” Jane says. “It’s also [helpful] to experience what it’s like to take care of the animals, to have that responsibility.” Because of these experiences, Catherine says that she wants to live on a farm in the future. “I love living on a small farm, having space and not looking out your back window and seeing another person’s house,” Catherine says. “It’s calming. It gives me room to breathe and have peace.” SM


The American Dairy Goat Association carefully scrutinizes every dairy goat, looking for qualities that make for productive, healthy goats. Here’s a guide to their selection process of the G.O.A.T.* goats.


story alyssa roehm I photos rachel hartwick I infographic josh shi

36 | Spark | April 9, 2013

Liberty Livestock, a club focusing on preparing its members to show their animals at the Butler County fair in July of each year. Each member has the opportunity to choose which animals they will show at the fair. Catherine chose goats because of their small frames and pleasant demeanors. After the goats are born in January on Bare’s farm, she immediately begins to care for the kids: feeding, brushing, cleaning. When summer comes around, Bare begins to train the goats by walking them and teaching them the correct standing position for the show. “Throughout the year I train my goats how to walk properly [with a] chain collar,” Bare says. “I also teach it how to set its feet properly so [a judge] can see the muscle in their butt and leg, showing the meat off.” At the start of fair week, Bare brings the two goats in the market class she will show to be “weighed in,” hoping it reaches at least

50 pounds, the minimum weight for goats to qualify. She participates in two different shows: a breed show and a showmanship show. Junior fair coordinator Julie Dalzell makes sure that all of the junior fair members are organized into their right shows. “In Showmanship they are competing against members of their same age and show the judge their ‘showing skills,’” Dalzell says. “In the Market classes, they show by weight.” And preparing for these shows pay off. Many awards are given out for each of the different categories in the Boer show, which is a breed of goat, and showmanship show. Bare has won three skill-a-thon awards, in which she has to take test on different species of animals. She has also won ribbons for first and second place in her class in showmanship and market class and a 10-year membership award in 2011. Her biggest award was the reserve grand champion for market goat that she received in 2009.

Body Capacity: A strong goat is a healthy goat. In this category, judges evaluate the goat based on whether it seems large and in the proper proportions for its size, age and period of lactation (or breeding season for bucks).

Dairy Character: Dairy character encompasses all the practical aspects of a healthy, productive goat, including all the body traits that contribute to milk production. These include the neck, withers, ribs, flanks, thighs and skin.

Mammary System: A goat’s mammary system should be firmly attached, elastic and have a reasonable capacity. It should also show relative ease of milking and give evidence that the goat has been milked for a long time.

General Appearance: If you’ve got it, flaunt it: goats with feminine qualities (masculine for bucks) score more points, and judges look for strength, good posture and a smooth frame as well.



he big day in April had finally come. East junior Catherine Bare had watched this happen to her older siblings for years but now it was her turn to join “the big kid ranks.” She walked outside full of excitement and determination for what was about to happen. Now it was the time for her to meet her partner for the next several months––her goat. Intending to join her siblings in the family tradition of showing goats at the Butler County fair, Bare first started raising and training her own goats at nine years old, the minimum age requirement to show animals. Growing up, Bare watched her older siblings participate in a 4-H club, a youth organization sponsored by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the U.S., which allows its participants to compete in various competitions at their county fairs. Bare and her siblings have all participated in






15% 55%



15% 55%




America: Immigration


stories naomi grandison, brian fogel, allison gayer, halie sullivan, lauren drummond, zach fulciniti and sarah king


hen An Nguyen was eight years old, he couldn’t go anywhere without fearing the violence and bloodshed that surrounded his hometown of Saigon, South Vietnam. “Fighting could be happening anywhere [at the time],” says Nguyen, the uncle of East junior Judy Nguyen. So on April 29, 1975, the day before North Vietnam’s attack on Saigon, Nguyen, his parents and his four siblings fled their home country on a commercial ship. The fall of Saigon not only marked the end



of the Vietnam War, but also the influx of more than 700,000 Vietnamese refugees into the U.S.—including the Nguyens. “The U.S. government picked us up,” Nguyen says. Nguyen and his family moved safely and fairly easily into the U.S. as war refugees. “The U.S. is always open to everybody.” But lately, immigration has become more of a complicated issue.The U.S. government has added more restrictions to the naturalization process, resulting in many immigrants failing to gain citizenship. While many Americans feel

Unmanned aircraft covers 950 miles from Washington to Minnesota

200 miles covered by unmanned aircraft between New York and Lake Ontario

infographic wing chow 2,200 border agents plus 3,700 Agents working ports of entry.

140,000 unauthorized immigrants arrived in the year 2011.

651 miles the southern border lined with fencing out of 1969 miles of the whole border. 18,500 border agents around the southern border.

38 | Spark | April 9, 2013

photo used with paid permission from photo illustration jack dombrowski

that immigrants threaten American jobs, this fear is unnecessary, according to immigration lawyer Gabriela Mendoza Thibeau. She says that immigrants are willing to take low-wage jobs that most Americans don’t want, such as construction, landscaping and working in hotels as cooks and maids. “There are a lot of people who are willing to hire unauthorized immigrants because they need the help,” Thibeau says. President Barack Obama has been pushing for immigration reform in his second term. Obama’s plan, posted on the White House website, consists of four major parts: strengthening border security, fining employers who hire unauthorized immigrants, providing a way for unauthorized immigrants to earn citizenship and fixing the immigration system so that foreigners can enter the U.S. and gain citizenship with fewer complications. In a speech he gave in Las Vegas, Obama was adamant that something will be done about the broken immigration system. “Now is the time,” he said repeatedly. “Think about it—we define ourselves as a nation of immigrants. That’s who we are—in our bones.” According to the Migration Policy Institute, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) was passed to prevent and control illegal immigration. IRCA has shaped America’s immigration system today. It is known as the “three-legged stool” for its three key components: enforcing border security, penalizing employers who hire unauthorized immigrants and granting amnesty to unauthorized immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years. Two laws passed in 1996 (Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act and Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act) that caused an outrage among some citizens are still in effect today. According to the National Immigration Forum, many people feel that the issue with the 1996 laws is that the punishment doesn’t always fit the crime. Immigrants are sometimes deported years after committing petty crimes like shoplifting, driving under the influence and drug possession. Immigration has been an important part of Cincinnati history and culture, ever since Germans and Irish immigrants came to Cincinnati in the 1800s. In 1850, German immigrants made up 27 percent of Cincinnati’s population and Irish immigrants made up 12 percent. The Germans settled in a district called Over-the-Rhine, which still exists today and is one of Cincinnati’s oldest districts. “We still have a lot of cultural legacy from the Germans,” says Dr. Robert Miller, a history professor at the University of Cincinnati (UC).



According to Miller, German influence does not stop at Over-the-Rhine. Cincinnati is wellknown for its Oktoberfest, a German festival that attracts over 500,000 people each year. The popular Flying Pig Marathon, which began as a German cultural event, drew the largest number of participants ever in 2012 with 30,993 people. The center of Cincinnati, the Tyler Davidson Fountain in Fountain Square, is the work of German-Americans August von Kreling and Ferdinand von Miller. Businesses all over the area sport names such as Schneller, Gruber, and Krauffman. Yolanda Vazquez, an immigration law and criminal procedure professor at UC, says the majority of those unauthorized immigrants have been here over ten years. “They’re contributing in ways that we do not recognize,” she says. Vazquez thinks amnesty, which would give legal permanent resident status to unauthorized immigrants with fewer restrictions, is the best option for the U.S. right now. According to Thibeau, there is a possibility of amnesty soon. The first amnesty in 1986

affected 2.7 million illegal immigrants, while the last one in 2000 affected 900,000. There have been eight amnesties in U.S. history. Thibeau thinks an amnesty would have many benefits. “We [Americans] have an amnesty every 20 years,” says Thibeau. “We were due to have another one around 9/11. It brings a lot of people out of the woodwork,” says Thibeau, adding that it would also help the U.S. government improve census data. Thibeau believes that some Americans have an intolerance of immigration possibly sparked by events like 9/11. “The terrorist attacks impacted our thought process as a nation toward immigrants,” Thibeau says. “For some reason there is a lot of negativity towards Mexicans, who really had nothing to do with 9/11.” “People shun specific groups rather than everybody,” Nguyen says. The incident on September 11, 2001, swung the focus to the unstable U.S.-Mexican border as people feared easy entrances by terrorists. The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act passed in December of 2005 as a response to the 9/11 controversy over the Mexican borders.This act made undocumented presence in the U.S. a felony and called for construction of a 700mile fence along the US-Mexican border. Thibeau feels that the negativity toward new immigrants is unfair. “It’s important to educate people and to let them know that the immigrants are not responsible for all the bad things that happen.” Thibeau says. “We need to remind people that we all came from somewhere.” —naomi grandison

Armed guards patrol the southern border of the U.S. to prevent aliens from illegally entering the country.

photo used with paid permission of mctcampus | Spark | 39

photo brian fogel

At Ivy League colleges like Yale, where international students made up 18 percent of the 2011-12 student body, the presence of international students is much more common. According to Pacifica Consultants, the average cost for American students attending a four-year college is $9,000 a year, while international students pay an average cost of $20,000 with no financial aid or in-state tuition qualifications. But Wang’s parents, who have only a high school and middle school education respectively, paid for all of her education. “My parents are my biggest support,” Wang says. “When I told them I wanted to do this they supported me both materially and mentally.” Many college students come from parents who have Bachelor’s and even Master’s Degrees. But Wang thinks of herself as an exception to this generality because she is one of few who don’t have lineage that have obtained higher education. In specific rankings of universities, the best U.S. universities are above the best Chinese Chinese students like Wang studying here universities, but that’s not encompassing every during the 2010-11 school year, China is the university of each country. In a 2012 list of most common place of origin for international international rankings by U.S. News and World Report, there are 20 U.S. universities in the students in the U.S. A record high enrollment of 764,495 top 50 and only five Chinese universities in international students during the 2011-12 the same group. The best Chinese university, school year, however, still only comprises four University of Hong Kong, is ranked 23rd while percent of the total U.S. college enrollment. the best American university, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is ranked first. Wang says that many parents in China believe that American colleges and universities are superior to those in China. For Wang, the biggest reason she came here to study is for the opportunities. “I think you can acquire more here,” Wang says. “While staying in China you can mostly just do things at a basic level. You won’t have enough opportunities to acquire this much.” Wang first obtained a J1 visa, issued for the duration of a student’s exchange program, in order to become a one-semester exchange PERCENT OF 283 EAST STUDENTS BELIEVE student at Miami University. The F1, which THAT U.S. COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES OFFER Wang currently has, is for students who plan BETTER OPPORTUNITIES THAN FOREIGN ONES to stay in the U.S. for a long period of time to study. Unlike the limits of a J1 visa, the F1 does not require a student to return home upon completion of a program. Additionally, F1 students must pay completely for any expenses incurred during their stay in the U.S., whereas a J1 student may receive financial help through the government or other institution in their home country. University of Cincinnati Professor of Immigration Law Yolanda Vazquez says that Betty Wang immigrated to the U.S. to pursue a more challenging education.


s she worked toward her Bachelor of the Arts at Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, China, ranked 361st in the world by U.S. News and World Report, Betty Wang found herself becoming bored and unmotivated. While this university is ranked best of those in China’s Henan Province by higher education directory 4 International Colleges & Universities, Wang wanted something more. “I think it is interesting to make life somewhat challenging, because coming [to the U.S.] for most Chinese people is not easy,” Wang says. “You have to pass exams in English, which is not our native language, and also I have to pay a lot and regenerate the money.” A few years later in 2013, she’s sitting in a similar lecture hall at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At this university on the other side of the world, ranked 56th by U.S. News and World Report, she finds herself captivated and challenged by a professor who is very strict. Now 23 years old, Wang traveled here from China’s Henan Province on an F-1 visa two years ago to obtain her Master’s degree in Advertising and Collegiate Media, intending to get it from the country where she has found herself the most challenged. The United States is not ranked the highest in overall education systems, and actually sits at 17th—14 spots behind China, who is ranked third by BBC News. But with approximately 194,029

40 | Spark | April 9, 2013


A ONE-SHOT EDUCATION infographic irfan ibrahim

The National Higher Education Entrance Exam of China, or GaoKao, utilizes tests on three subjects. It is out of 750 points and is nine hours long, longer than the SAT and ACT combined. Chinese 150

Math 150

English 150

The final 300 points of the test is the student’s choice of either Social Sciences (including Politics, History and Geography) or Natural Sciences (including Physics, Chemistry and Biology). However, the test itself is only offered once a year and can no longer be taken past the age of 20.

60 percent higher education, Wang is a part of the 38 percent of Asian immigrants who, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, have parents that did not attend a college or university. With the U.S. educational system ranking much lower than China’s, Wang came here for the challenges and opportunity. Even though she will eventually be returning to China to find a job, she feels that her American

information, “On the Reform of China’s NCEE since 1977”

Here for higher learning

students, as well as anyone in the U.S. that is not a citizen, are at different stages of citizenship all the time. Some merely visit, others gain permanent residence with a green card and still others like Wang complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language and the Graduate Record Examination to study here temporarily. Vazquez and Wang both discuss the fact that the majority of international students from China and other countries are those that are rich enough to pay for higher education in the U.S. or smart enough to get into America’s best colleges. These students contribute significantly to American education rankings in that 41 percent of their majors are in science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields—fields in which the U.S. is ranked 14th by The Guardian. In terms of an economic benefit, the U.S. Department of Commerce notes that more than $22.7 billion were added to the U.S. economy by international students in 2011. “We have become needy of international students,” Vazquez says. “[Immigrants] contribute to our society more than they take away.” A problem arises from this, however Vazquez refers to it as a “brain drain” on the top countries of origin. When all of the best students from these countries come to America, there will be a reduction in the academic performance levels of those countries. While a majority of Chinese students are returning home after getting a higher education in the U.S. and thus reversing the so-called “brain drain,” it is still a problem with the recent increase in students studying abroad. Coming from a family with a past of no

of students who take the GaoKao pass each year

education will prepare her for the future. “I think college here can prepare me for the future in [two] ways.” Wang says. “First, it will make me familiar with English language and the U.S. society, which is required by many businesses in China; and second, the adaptive process makes me stronger, especially mentally, because I have learned how to face difficulty in my life.” —brian fogel

how to make it in america


he lights are low. The only noise comes from three workers huddled together gossiping, waiting to clock out. It is closing time and the salon is empty. Manager Konitha Von Nida, who is in her mid-thirties, runs a paper towel over a row of tables as she walks to the front. Von Nida sees someone walk in and greets them with a welcoming smile. She is cheery and friendly. The first impression she gives does not reflect her hard past. It took her years to end up where she is now. When she was four and living in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge, a communist rebel group, put her and her family in a concentration camp. She survived because her mother pretended like she could not read by holding a paper upside down,

making the family seem illiterate and thus no threat to the Khmer Rouge. Her family was in the camp for three years before they managed to escape into Thailand. They were given little food and treated horribly. Five years later, the New Burlington Church of Christ in Mount Healthy, Ohio, sponsored them so they could join Von Nida’s aunt in the U.S. The family moved to Price Hill and Von Nida married a local boy when she was 15. She says he treated her poorly, rarely permitting her to leave the house. Three kids and 10 years later, Von Nida filed for divorce. Her community excommunicated her for this. Since then, Von Nida has remarried. She took her three children and had another child,

a daughter who is currently 10 years old. This is her past. Von Nida now focuses on her future. Located in a strip mall, her salon, Studio Nails off of Tylersville Road, has been open since 2001. It is true that Von Nida and her Cambodian sisters are Asian, but she strives not to make her business a typical “Asian Salon.” She and two of her sisters, who help run Studio Nails, hate this stereotype. While other places have employees that don’t speak English, Von Nida says that she tries “to make our girls not speak in our language.” To her, it is all about customer service. According to Small Business Administration (SBA), data from 2012, 10.5 percent of the national immigrant workforce owns a business. Of the native-born American workforce, | Spark | 41

infographic jonah christner

Many Fortune 500 CEOs have immigrated from foreign countries to the U.S. before striking it rich.

Founder: Pierre Omidyar Fortune 500 Rank: 267 Country of Origin: France

Founder: Sergey Brin Fortune 500 Rank: 102 Country of Origin: Russia

Founder: William Procter, James Gamble Fortune 500 Rank: 22 Country of Origin: Ireland

Founder: Jerry Yang Fortune 500 Rank: 343 Country of Origin: Taiwan

Founder: Alexander Graham Bell Fortune 500 Rank: 7 Country of Origin: Scotland



six years old. He’s lived in America ever since. In 2007 Karvelas and his wife Maria decided to open their own business because he wanted to have something that was completely different than his career as a cardiac perfusionist. He says that the restaurant has its challenges, but he loves it. “Coming here, creating something you can call your own, that you love, that you love doing, and see it prosper and become successful…[it] is any immigrant’s dream,” Karvelas says. According to SBA, immigrants are 17 percent more likely than native-born Americans to start their own business. Family plays an important role in Von Nida’s reasoning for opening her business. She wants to never have to struggle again. Hoang keeps her family in mind when she works as well. “I just want to get more money to raise my kids,” she says. “So they have what they want and need. So they can go to college.” Both women have strong support systems through their families. Von Nida has a sister, an employee at Studio Nails, who is very important to her. “I have my right hand, my sister Tia. She’s been there since the beginning,” she says. Hoang remembers how her kids encouraged her, saying, “Mom, you can do it!” when she was questioning opening a business. Von Nida hopes her business will be a security blanket for her family. “I don’t want my kids or my sisters or my family to struggle the way I did,” she says. “It is an incentive, to never have to be in that situation. Never want to not have food. Never want to not have enough. That was my main inspiration.” —allison gayer


Choose a business location. Consider zoning regulations, competition, proximity to suppliers, and a plan for growth.


Finance the business through government-backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help get started.


Determine the legal structure of the business like a corporation, nonprofit, cooperative, and so on.


Get a tax identification number.


Register for workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance.


Obtain business licenses and permits necessary to run your business legally.

Not Born, But Raised


ast junior Amarinda Reed remembers the strange looks she received from her classmates on the playground in elementary school. She was different. She talked differently. She enunciated the word “horrible” differently. She was British. Born British and raised British until the day she and her family moved from England. “People tend to judge you a little bit if you’re not an American citizen,” Reed says. “Being an American citizen made everything a lot easier.” Reed, who moved from Taunton, East Sussex, England, has been in the Lakota Local School District since the end of her second grade year. Reed came to the U.S. because of her dad Paul’s job change. In May 2010, the Reeds began the process of applying for citizenship because their green cards, which must be renewed after 10 years, were about to expire. The Reeds started out on a three-year visa after Paul was sponsored by his company to join their North American team. After his employer filed for a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Paul received his L1 visa. Amarinda and her mom, Susan, were given L2 visas which are issued to spouses and children under the age of 21 that depend on an L1 visa holder. L2 visa holders are allowed to reside in the U.S. for the duration of the L1 visa holder’s authorized of stay. L2 visa holders are allowed to work in the U.S. as long as they have completed an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) authorized by the USCIS. As the visas were about to expire, Paul was asked to either renew his L1 visa, or become a green card holder, which would allow the

photo abbey russell

Founder: Andrew Grove Fortune 500 Rank: 62 Country of Origin: Hungary

photo halie sullivan


9.3 percent of people own their own business. West Chester Trustee and business owner George Lang, the son of two Cuban immigrants, believes that starting a business as an immigrant is no harder than for a natural born citizen. According to Lang, the difficulty stems from government regulations, like obtaining permits and meeting health and safety requirements, and Von Nida agrees. “All the paper work gets tricky,” she says. “As far as the language barrier.” Before opening a business, the owner must obtain a number of permits which need to be approved by the government, and must meet a standard of health and safety that has to be approved by an Occupational Health and Safety worker. Owner of Anna’s Petite Salon, Anna Hoang says opening her own shop was harder because her English is “not as good as some people who were born here.” Hoang has been through a lot as well. When she was only 5 years old her father was placed in jail by the North Vietnamese government. He had been a captain in the South Vietnamese army and he was about to be promoted. “When my dad was in jail, my twin sister and I took care of our brothers and sister so my mom could make money, so she could raise us,” she says. Hoang’s mother sold cigarettes for many years in South Vietnam. Later when selling cigarettes became illegal, she sold almost everything from tennis balls to underwear. She had her children help out by delivering goods and collecting money. Each morning the kids rode their bikes to deliver cigarettes. At night they would go back and collect money. After 10 years, Hoang’s father was released, and in 1993 their whole family made the journey to the U.S., where they met up with family living in Toledo, Ohio before finally settling in Columbus six months later. Hoang was 24 years old. According to Hoang, business in America is very different from Vietnam. She says her family had to pay police officers or soldiers just so they could have their shop open. It was bribery, rather than a legal fee. According to Lang, businesses in West Chester don’t even have an income tax, and pay a reduced property tax. “Here there’s freedom. That’s why I [felt] so comfortable opening my business,” Hoang says. Kosta Karvelas, owner of Greek Isles, describes the U.S. as the “land of opportunity.” He was born in the United States while his family was visiting an aunt. They liked America and decided to move here when Karvelas was

East junior Amarinda Reed moved to the U.S. from England in the second grade.

family to eventually apply for citizenship. The Reeds chose green card status. This required a lot of information gathering. “We had to collect police records and medical records from everywhere we had ever lived,” says Susan, whose family had lived in England, Singapore and Canada. “We also had to fly to London to have full medical exams and interview at the American Embassy. It took a long time to gather all of the information— probably a year in total.” After 10 years of green card status, the Reeds began the process of naturalization at the USCIS Cincinnati Field Office. The first step of the naturalization process is to complete Form N-400 Application for Naturalization, which Susan says was not much more difficult than completing a passport application. Form N-400 is carefully

examined by USCIS officers and is used to determine an applicant’s acceptance or denial for naturalization. Background checks on the applicant are run by USCIS officers as well. According to District Congressional Liaison David Link Jr., the investigation consists of criminal background and security checks. The background and security checks include an FBI fingerprint analysis and “name check,” where anyone with a name change is investigated for past criminal activity. If a name change is present, any criminal activity under the former name will then be investigated as well. In addition, USCIS conducts other inter-agency criminal background and security checks on all applicants for naturalization. After the Form N-400 has been submitted, applicants wait to receive a receipt and followup notices. Susan and Paul received a letter of


42 | Spark | April 9, 2013 | Spark | 43

recommended her application for approval and the notice for her final step in the naturalization process, the Oath Ceremony, was mailed. “I filled out a form requesting her citizenship, based on mine, as she is a minor,” Susan says. “We received an appointment, went downtown and then she took the oath and received her certificate. Very low key.” Susan and Paul had a typical Oath Ceremony. Held at a school on the West side of Cincinnati, 80 other people became citizens that day. Aside from the large group of soon-to-be-U.S. citizens, there was a crowd of approximately two hundred spectators, including some of the Reeds’ friends and students that attended the school, to watch the ceremony. “It took all morning and we had to say our name and where we were from. There were


STEPS TO CITIZENSHIP infographic abbey russell

Step 5: Receive results

and become a citizen if approved Step 4: Get fingerprinted and attend an interview , then take the English and civics tes t Step 3: Send

photos, fees,

and applicatio n to the servic e center. Step 2: C omplete th e N-400, and any o the officia ther necc l Naturaliz essary do ation App cuments. lication Fo rm Step 1: M eet eligib ility requ presenc e in the country, irements such a s a good u nderstan having residenc ea ding and knowled nd physical g e of the and goo U.S., d moral characte r.

people from everywhere.” Susan says. “They then took our green cards and we walked through the line of people there that included Congressman Steve Chabot and judges, to receive our naturalization certificates.” “I was surprised at how emotional I was. I hadn’t expected to feel different,” Susan says. Although the Reeds are now U.S. citizens through the process of naturalization; all three have dual citizenship with the U.K. This allows them to travel to England without having to go

through customs. “I have a British passport, and an American passport,” says a grinning Amarinda. “It makes entering home much easier. My younger siblings, however, only have American citizenship, so when we travel to the United Kingdom this Christmas, they’ll have to go through [English] customs while my mom, dad and I won’t.” Regardless of how they are American citizens, the Reeds don’t let being American

alter their British traditions. On Sundays, the Reeds always have a roast. They serve a big portion of any meat they want, such as ham, and eat potatoes and green beans on the side. “I was scared [to get U.S. citizenship] because it was something big,” Amarinda says. “Becoming a citizen is a big thing; it’s a big deal. I was really happy I was going to become a citizen, but at the same time I was really scared. And it just changes me. I’m American now.” —halie sullivan

No small price to pay


evgeny Leonidovitch Tcherevan, who goes by “Z,” found out a couple wanted to adopt him in 2009. “Cool,” he responded with indifference. Finding out he had to leave his life in Ukraine behind and move to America with strangers that spoke a different language? Not so cool. When an opportunity to adopt a child from Ukraine through Crossroads Community Church in Cincinnati arose four years ago, the Keyser family felt a tug to follow God’s calling. “Somewhat self-righteously, I thought we would bestow on some lucky orphan the blessing of being in a family—I thought we’d bless God in that way,” Gregory Keyser says. “But the blessings have been directed to us.” Going into the international adoption process, Brenda and Gregory Keyser expected to pay a maximum of $30,000 and bring their child home within a few months. Ideally, all adoptions would follow this common guideline but in reality, most don’t run this smoothly. Complications both lengthen the process and increase the expense of this life-altering decision. Having understood the likelihood of encountering issues, Brenda says, “Don’t let fear keep you from following the heart of God and serving Him.” Z’s adoption process was relatively normal compared to the adoption of the next two children. It only took six weeks to receive the final visa from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine. Since time was not an issue, money became the biggest strain. Due to work demands, Brenda had to fly back and forth from the United States to Kiev three times, increasing the total cost to $45,000. But for the Keysers, no price was too high to bring their new son Z, then age 11, home. Although they admitted the process was stressful and cost almost twice the minimum of

photo abbey russell

44 | Spark | April 9, 2013

years in the U.S. Immediately after the interview, Amarinda took the civics portion of the test consisting of 10 questions. In order to pass the civics portion, which is presented orally by an officer, applicants must answer six out of 10 questions correctly. She was also asked who the first and 16th presidents were and was asked to name four out of the 13 colonies. Following the civics test is the English portion, which is three parts: speaking, reading and writing. The reading and writing parts each consist of three sentences. In order to pass each section, Amarinda had to read and write one of the three sentences correctly. Once the civics and English tests are completed, the officer reveals the results. When Amarinda passed her exam, the USCIS officer


approval after about two weeks. According to Link, however, receiving acceptance on an N-400 can often take up to four months, related legal issues and the particular office of jurisdiction. Upon getting the receipt notice, applicants pick up the booklet Learn about the U.S.: Quick Civics Lesson to prepare for the naturalization test, which covers civics and English. Immigration officers at the USCIS then examine the N-400s submitted by the applicant and conduct an interview with them to verify information provided on the application. The Reeds had to meet many requirements in order to be eligible for acceptance. According to University of Cincinnati (UC) immigration law professor Yolanda Vazquez, Form N-400 can be denied if the applicant has not been a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for at least five years, or three years if the applicant is married to a U.S. citizen. Being absent for more than 30 months of the five years will violate continuous presence. The applicant must have physical presence half of those five years. The applicant must also display “good moral character” and then he or she has to pass the naturalization exam. Once their N-400s were accepted by the USCIS, Reed and her family received a letter in the mail including the time, date and location of their interview. Once documentation is provided, the applicant is searched by security and taken to customer service where the interview notice is presented to the officer. Because the Cincinnati office was booked, Amarinda’s parents waited more than an hour to be interviewed. In a normal naturalization eligibility interview (NEI), applicants like Susan and Paul are asked questions derived from their N-400. The interview includes questions like Social Security; information about previous residencies and questions about past criminal records and drug activity. Amarinda’s NEI and test were slightly different from the norm. Her mom, Susan, filled out a form requesting her citizenship based off of her own experience because Amarinda was a minor. Amarinda was taken into a room with an officer for her NEI. The first thing she was asked to do was raise her right hand, swearing she would tell the truth. She was asked questions pertaining to her life in England like how old she was when she lived there and how she felt about the country. The officer also asked Amarinda if she was proficient in English. During the NEI, the officer tested Amarinda’s ability to speak and comprehend English, which wasn’t hard for her since she was born in England and had spent the last ten

Gregory Keyser and his wife, Brenda, have adopted three boys from Ukraine.

$25,000, in 2010, Brenda and Gregory decided to adopt two brothers from Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine—Ruslan and Zhenya, ages 13 and 17, respectively. Unfortunately, no one could predict the legal fight that ensued. The Hague Adoption Convention is an establishment that focuses on creating safeguards to thoroughly protect adopted children’s rights and prevent trafficking in all Contracting States. But because Ukraine is a non-Hague country, different requirements must be met during the adoption process. According to non-Hague law, a child must be under the age of 16 to be eligible for adoption. So a legality issue arose when Zhenya turned 18 during the adoption. Pursuing court appeals to ensure that he and Ruslan stayed together brought the expense to $70,000 instead of the maximum $30,000 the Keysers had expected. The process was not only expensive, but also took a year for the details to be finalized. Like Brenda and Gregory, Laura Weinberger

of Liberty Township’s Center Pointe Church also found herself facing frustration during her attempts to finalize the adoption of a girl from Haiti. It took 17 months before she and her husband John could bring Venise home. “The Haitian government would continually change processes and let Venise’s paperwork sit in an office for five months without being looked at,” Weinberger says. “Even though the adoption was official, we couldn’t take her home.” Unlike the Keysers, the struggle in the Weinberger’s case was safety. Because of a spike in violence in Haiti at the time, the U.S. government urged the Weinberger family to delay their trip until things lightened up. “When John and I went to Haiti [several months later] we saw intimidating trucks with U.N. soldiers patrolling the streets,” Weinberger says. “And when we went into the office where Venise’s paperwork sat, big men were just casually sitting in really run-down, low quality chairs with machine guns across their laps.” | Spark | 45






The process for finalNow that your adoption izing an adoption in Haiti is complete, there are generally includes the a few more steps to following: take before you can 1) Role of the Justice of head home. Specifically, the Peace you need to apply for 2) Role of The Adoption several documents for Authority your child before he or Under the current system, 3) Role of the Civil Court she can travel to the 4) Time Frame matching often occurs United States 5) Adoption Fees through the adoption 1)Haitian Passport After you finalize the 6) Documents Required service provider. Each 2)U.S. Immigrant Visa adoption in Haiti, the family must decide for USCIS must determine itself whether or not it whether the child is will be able to meet the eligible under U.S. needs of a particular child immigration law to be and provide a permanent adopted (Form I-600). family placement for the child.









phi c ri



To bring an adopted child from Haiti to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The first step in adopting a child from Haiti is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption.


The Devils’ Advocates


kyscrapers everywhere. Weiping Cai, father of East sophomore Kelly Cai, remembers his expectations of America, most of which he says came from “the news, the movies and the books we read.” “Americans were depicted as monsters,” he says. “‘Foreign devils’ is what we called them.”

46 | Spark | April 9, 2013

In 1986, Weiping moved here from China, where he had been an English teacher with his wife, Zhenling, who taught gymnastics. After receiving a degree in computer science from Wuhan University in the Hubei Province, he sought a more advanced education in America. “At that time, China was less developed. A lot of disciplines were not offered,” he says.

“No matter how good a college was, it was still learning.” Weiping received an offer to come to Ball State University on a full-ride scholarship with a small stipend, and when he arrived in Muncie, Indiana, he learned a quick lesson about America’s geographical diversity. “I thought everything was busy life, bustling,

traffic jams, nightclubs everywhere,” he says. “But when I landed in Indiana, it was very different. Indiana is in the middle of nowhere, a bunch of corn fields.” When Weiping arrived at the Indianapolis International Airport, which he calls “very exciting” compared to the train stations in China, he had in his possession two bags of luggage and 70 dollars. He was picked up by his soon-to-be professor and driven the 60 miles to Muncie. He was taken in by a host family for his first month in America, until he found his own place to live near campus. During that time, he also worked as a Teacher’s Aide. “The campus was very beautiful, just the life was different,” he says. “We didn’t see the nightclubs, we didn’t see a lot of traffic, just quiet and a lot of birds. Grey everywhere.” “Cars everywhere,” Zhenling adds. “In China it’s bicycles everywhere.” “She’s right, at that time there were a lot of bicycles,” Weiping says. “Today it’s completely different.” Weiping completed his master’s degree at Ball State and then began the search for a job in, of all places, the classified section. Following a two-year stint as a programmer at RSS Marketing Incorporated in Dayton, Ohio, he and his wife moved to Cincinnati, where they remain to this day and where Weiping currently works as an Information Technology Manager for General Electric. “You know here, it’s different because it is competition-driven in this country. It’s a more entrepreneur-driven society,” Weiping says. “In China, it was simple at that time because there was no competition. There was no free enterprise, no privately-owned properties. Everybody got an equal portion of the resources. Teachers got paid about the same amount and the competition was not fierce at all. Life was easy and there was no hope.” Weiping and Zhenling both grew up under the Communist regime of Mao Zedong, a government that sought to control its citizens’ actions and beliefs. Weiping felt first-hand the effect of this type of rule. His father, Xuezhao, had fought in the Chinese Civil War on the side of the Nationalist government. After the Nationalists fled to Taiwan, he was arrested and then became a soldier for the Communist Army. During a period of Chinese history known as the Cultural Revolution, Xuezhao was put in a labor camp on suspicion of being a Nationalist spy. “It’s not unusual, because it didn’t just happen to my family. The same thing happened to probably hundreds of thousands of families,” he says. “Maybe you have heard of that and thought, ‘wow, that’s so cruel.’ But

Zhenling and Weiping Cai came to the U.S. in 1986 and have dramatically adapted their lifestyle since.

at that time, it just happened. To many, many families. For no reason.” After several years in the labor camp, Weiping’s father became seriously ill. “He didn’t get proper treatment in the labor camp. He got so sick he could not do anything, he could not help himself,” Weiping says. “He was hospitalized and that was too late. That was too late. I believe that I was 11 years old and I saw him for the last time in the hospital.”

His father’s death was the first indication to Weiping that the way of life in Communist China was not what the government would have him believe. The second was the treatment he received because of it. “I became a little bit disillusioned, because even I was treated differently,” he says. “My friends, my peers, stayed away from me. Some people even said, ‘look at Weiping, his father was anti-revolutionary, don’t play with him.’”

Two different worlds After moving to America in 1986, Weiping Cai was introduced to a completely different culture. Several of the most dramatic cultural differences between China and the U.S. are government, population, and transportation. infographic ayaz faroqui and judy nguyen

BEFORE 1986 In China during the 1980’s, they mostly used bicycles to get around town, today the busing and train systems are prominent

In the U.S. during the 1980’s transportation mainly involved buses as well as cars. Today cars are used as the main form of transportation

China’s population in the early 1980’s reached a highpoint of 1 billion, today the population is 1.34 billion people.

America during the 1980’s had a population of 2.37 million; in 2012 we reached 3.13 million

In the 1980’s China was a Communist nation, today however China is split between Communistic and Republic governments.



Approximately 135,813 children were adopted in 2012 in the United States, 13 percent internationally. This total number of adoptions shows an increase of more than 8,000 in the past 10 years. Although adoption has increased in general, international adoption has been steadily decreasing. Due to legal restrictions, the number has dropped from 22,990 in 2004 to 12,753 in 2009. More restrictions are being enacted. After Guatemala banned U.S. adoptions in 2008, Russia followed suit in December 2012, creating even more diplomatic tension. This legislation not only bans future adoptions, but also nullifies adoptions that have already been passed, with children already residing in the U.S. as an exception. They Keysers were lucky enough to adopt their children less than a year before the legislation went into effect. Adopting may have cost tens of thousands of dollars, but for Brenda and her husband, adoption has been “the greatest blessing of our lives.” —lauren drummond

dek ker

Venise, having only been six when Laura and John brought her home, caught onto English swiftly. The first few months of communication, however, were based solely on a packet given to Laura by the adoption agency. This packet included simple words like “danger, hot, cold, no, drink and eat” in Creole. Aside from that, learning was all trial and error. Another important consideration is keeping the children’s culture active in their lives. Z visited Ukraine during the second adoption and he plans to visit again with Zhenya; Ruslan aspires to permanently move back there when he’s old enough. Laura incorporated Venise’s heritage by making her American middle name her last name from Haiti. “She was a person before she got to us.” Laura says. “We don’t want to take away any of her identity.” But while Z, Ruslan and Zhenya embrace their heritage, Venise rebukes her middle name and pleads her mom to change it to Marie. Despite the obstacles, adoption is becoming increasingly popular in the United States.

photo erin starrett

Seeing the weapons reinforced the Weinbergers’ awareness of the danger that surrounded them. Laura and John resisted the urge to return to the securities of the United States and instead, fought to bring their child home. Finally in 2007, Venise became one of 1,096 kids internationally adopted from Haiti that year. Both families agree, however, that the adjustment the children have to make to integrate themselves is much more stressful than any other part of the adoption process. “They keep to themselves more,” the Keysers’ biological daughter Alex says of her adopted siblings. “We still don’t ever hang out.” For both families, the differences in language were an issue that contributed to the children’s introverted nature. Brenda and Gregory didn’t speak Russian, and their adopted children only had a general sense of English from learning it at school in Ukraine. “Something that I noticed was that it was very tiring for Z to be speaking a foreign language all day,” Gregory says.

AFTER 1986 America was a capitalist country in the 1980’s, and it still is today | Spark | 47

His isolation at a young age led him to enjoy sports, like basketball and track and field, which helped him overcome the “hatred in [his] heart.” But the desire to leave his native country, for what he suspected were greener pastures, remained for 15 years. “I was young and the government was just like that, you could not singlehandedly go against the government,” he says. “That’s why when I was able to leave China, I got excited.” When they got here, it didn’t take long for Weiping and Zhenling’s perceptions of America to change. They quickly learned that capitalism, America’s economic system, was not what China’s communist government had made it out to be. “Capitalism was depicted as a bad thing. The Chinese government didn’t encourage people to own something. Capitalism would provide inequality and the society would not be balanced and people would have different classes, and then you would have exploitation,” he says. “It was a not like what we were told. The people here, they have freedom and they work hard and they own their property. It was a big shock to me.” “I saw the lovely families, caring people, loving people,” Zhenling says. “Nothing political, we just came here as students.” That changed perception of Americans, from “foreign devils” to caring families, also led the Cais to rethink another governmentphoto halie sullivan



WWW.LAKOTAEASTSPARK.COM 48 | Spark | April 9, 2013

influenced aspect of their lives: religion. “China was a communist country and the government, at that time, discouraged belief in any religion. The government thought of religion like a superstition,” Weiping says. “When we came here, a lot of church people approached us. That was the first time we heard of God and Jesus Christ, but we didn’t want to believe them.” “That’s him,” Zhenling says. “Me, I was kind of interested, you know, who’s Jesus? We watched movies that talked about church things. We had bible study, and they took us to church on Sunday morning. The best thing, for me, is that they were very nice people. That’s why I believe in Jesus.” “We never thought we would become Christian,” Weiping says. “Gradually, we realized that we could believe in ourselves and that there is a supernatural somewhere.” For their first years as Christians, the Cais attended a Chinese church, but then they began attending Grace Baptist Church in Mason. “God’s people, they are a big help. They did a lot of things for us. When my kids are sick, or I need rides, my friends help us. They touch you, directly,” Zhenling says. Although the Cais came here for economic opportunities, they have seen their worldview change in significant ways. They say they have, with few exceptions, moved on from their Chinese heritage.

“We adapted to this culture. We don’t have a lot of traditional ways of living, except that we eat Chinese food more often than hamburgers,” Weiping says. “We still observe Chinese traditional holidays, especially Chinese New Year. My wife really loves Chinese folk music, and she’s a Chinese dance teacher. But we celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, because we are Christian.” In Chinese culture, parents give their children red decorated envelopes with money in them, called Hongbao, as gifts for holidays. Since coming to America, however, the Cais have taken up American gift-giving traditions. “Sometimes we preserve this tradition, but mostly, it’s modern,” Weiping says. “We set up a Christmas tree, we buy gifts.” Although their children enjoy American music, Weiping still prefers Chinese and classical music, and any exposure to American music has been limited. “I have gone to very few concerts,” he says. “A couple I went to were very loud.” “We used to listen to the Backstreet Boys,” Zhenling concedes. In their eyes, the two cultures that have influenced them are not separate entities. “It’s kind of difficult sometimes, the clash between two languages, two cultures and two value systems,” Weiping says. “We do have the clashes, but most of the time we live in harmony.” —zach fulciniti

a Simple plan A young girl was riding her bicycle in the parking lot of the Butler County Jail when she was raped by a man who had spent time in and out of that very institution. That wasn’t the end of it because after that, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones became aware of a larger trend. The cycle never ends in what Jones calls “his jail”—he became familiarized with certain faces because they would leave his jail after committing horrendous crimes, then return to their home country. After a few months, they would cross back into U.S. territory and commit another crime, returning to Jones’ jail again. Some stayed longer than others but inevitably, they kept returning. Concluding that this was the problem of a broken immigration system, Jones decided to write and propose an eight-point immigration plan to the National Sheriff ’s Immigration Committee (NSIC) on Jan. 29. Jones says the federal government has great ideas that aren’t enforced, concluding that this is the cause of most problems, namely border security. He is

concerned about “Coyotes” who are paid by foreigners to help them be illegally smuggled across the border. Only 60 percent of unauthorized immigrants, however, cross the American border by foot, while the remaining 40 percent arrive by plane. “It’s not just [with] Mexico and South America that the borders aren’t secured enough,” Coley says. “We have people coming over from all over the world that we aren’t sure who they are or how they got here.” In this respect, Jones proposes that the nation’s borders be 100 percent secured with the cooperation of and agreement by all border states and that afterward, the borders must be continually enforced. Another point of Jones’ proposal would have governors of border states and other states directly affected by significant immigration issues be substantially involved in the establishment of any national immigration reform policies. Arizona has already taken action by passing Senate Bill 1070, whose

legalization is intended to discourage the unlawful entry of unauthorized immigrants. Employing undocumented immigrants anywhere in the United States is currently a federal crime; the penalties, however, are not enforced. According to section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, any illegal Sheriff Jones presented eight specific points to D.C. to help fix the current immigration problems. immigrant in the U.S. who has recently been employed, must notify the government within 1. Our nation’s borders must be 100% secure, with the 120 days or will be removed. Adding onto this, cooperation of and agreement by, all border states. Then, Jones suggests in his proposal that the federal continually enforce it. government impose “severe penalties, criminal penalties and large civil penalties [upon the 2. There must be severe penalties, ciminal penalties (jail time) employers of illegal immigrants], then enforce and large civiil penalties (monetary fines), for emplyers and it.” Jones’ plan also emphasizes the importance companies who employ illegals. Then enforce it. of immigrants attaining proper work visas before applying for a job in the United States, 3. The flow of illegal drugs crossing our borders must be but states that such immigrants should not be stopped, with enforcement. given priority over American citizens. Along with that of border security, Jones 4. Welfare and other Social Services programs should not be stresses his concern about criminals in the provided for anyone who is unauthorized or in the process of United States. The U.S. is the number one becoming legal. No “free cheese” until attaining legal status. consumer of illegal substances and according Then enforce it. to NBC News, 3,500 tons of marijuana from 5. No jobs without proper work visas until attaining legal Mexico are smuggled each year into the status, and cannot displace or be put ahead of U.S. Citzens. United States through Arizona alone. The Then enforce it. current penalty for being caught with illegal substances three or more times does not result 6. No voting rights for non-U.S. Citizens. Then enforce it. in deportation, just imprisonment. “The immigrants treat our borders like 7. No “jumping to the front of the line.” Must let those who are revolving doors—they cross in and out of already in the process of becoming legal (currently doing it the America whenever they need to ‘take a break,’” “right way”) remain first in line. Then enforce it. Jones says. “I don’t need the extra [crime]. I wish 8. Governors of border states, and other states being directly other countries would keep their criminals.” In terms of aliens’ effect on the economy, the affected by significant “immigration issues,” must have Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reports substantial involvement in establishing any immigration reform that 11 to 22 billion state dollars are spent each polices. year on welfare for illegal immigrants. Jones and Lang say agree that this figure is too high. the Immigration and Nationality Act that he As for the immediate legal action on his Accordingly, another part of Jones’ plan states wishes would be enforced more. agenda, Jones says that he, along with other that Welfare and other Social Service programs As for the process of obtaining citizenship government officials, would “love to see the should not be given to anyone who is currently itself, Jones wants there to be no “jumping to criminals’ names on the top of the deportation living in the U.S. illegally, or who is in the the front of the line.” This means that those list.” This would cut down on what the CIS process of becoming legal. who are already in the process of becoming reported to be the 1.6 billion dollars annually “We can’t afford them coming in and legal citizens would given legal precedence spent on the federal prison and court system taking our welfare without contributing,” Lang over those who are caught living illegally in for unauthorized immigrants. By the same says, despite what University of Cincinnati the U.S. and then try to apply for citizenship token, legislation dealing with deportation is Immigration Law Professor Yolanda Vazquez legally. Jones says he does not want all illegal very thorough—specifically, the 50 pages out describes as the five year residency period that immigrants to go back to their homeland, but of 404 total pages in the Immigration and is required for immigrants to receive benefits. rather to admit that they have been living in the Nationality Act that outline every scenario that A recent study conducted by Pew Hispanic U.S. illegally, pay a fine and then apply for U.S. would result in an immigrant’s deportation. Center estimates the number of illegal aliens in citizenship. Meanwhile, Coley wants to take Even with so much controversy swirling the workforce at eight million out of an overall Jones’ belief one step further. around the topic of what, if anything, should population of 11.2 million illegal aliens, and “No matter how you got into this country, be done in regards to illegal immigration, West Chester Trustee George Lang says the you need to apply for permission of entry,” Coley takes note of how many people want to U.S. needs the illegal immigrant workforce. says Coley, who thinks it isn’t right to reward come to the United States and experience the But Jones feels that the economy “will not be people who break the rules while people who American Dream. affected at all” if all unauthorized immigrants follow standard procedure are pushed aside. “The important aspect is that if people are were to be deported and lose their jobs. He also “That means if you are here illegally, [you need wanting to migrate to our country, then that is tells the NSIC to enforce no voting rights for to] go home, apply and then come back if you a sign that our country is still a desirable place non-U.S. citizens, which is a current law under meet the criteria, just like everyone else.” to be.” —sarah king

8 points of Immigration | Spark | 49

entertainment | feature

entertainment | feature A model of an 1800s steam train travels through replicated mountains.




More than just a museum, the world’s largest train display is a wonderful realm that lies within West Chester and welcomes people from all over the world. story amanda weisbrod | photos kenzie walters


don’t know what to expect from Entertrainment Junction. Maybe there will be a bunch of different tables with trains circling around them. Or maybe a giant museum that focuses on the history of the locomotive. Regardless, I follow Bill Balfour, the general manager, through the first tunnel and out the other side. The world around me transforms into grassy hills that nearly touch the ceiling and steam trains whistling along their miniature tracks. The crickets chirp and bullfrogs ribbit as the low lighting creates a synthetic nightfall. “This is our Early Period, the first of three time periods featured,” says Balfour. “A lot of this section is historical.” The lights slowly brighten and birds begin chirping as the five minutes of darkness come to an end. “This is the Civil War camp,” Balfour gestures to the tiny cannons, tall bridge and little tents. The bridge is supported by slender tree trunks, which the Yankee soldiers shaved and used to re-build the railroad after the

50 | Spark | April 9, 2013

Confederate soldiers burned it to the ground so that they wouldn’t be followed. Old pieces of charred wood lie beneath the bridge and guard towers watch over the small valley. He walks away from the Civil War scene to break down the rest of the 1800s section of the exhibit. A river flows through a 50s era farm while children dive in to its waters.

More than two miles of track run through the 25,000 square foot display. Over 1,000 train cars chug along at any given time, each G-scale car about the size of a loaf of bread. All of the mannequins and houses are proportional to this scale. The 11-foot waterfall trickles in the background behind the commotion of the locomotives. Its waters connect the three time periods by rivers and canals and eventually spill into a large lake. Little towns and train stations dot the landscape of the lush mountains until the 1800s come to an end, and a new era is introduced. “The 50s were a time that passenger cars were really popular,” says Balfour. The green mountains change into dance studios, little shopping centers and retro cars. “During the night time, these buildings really light up,” says Balfour while referring to a dance studio and hair salon. Tiny couples twirl underneath the spinning disco ball and little customers recline in salon chairs with aprons tied around their necks. These creative and fun characters are the source of many scavenger hunts for the

visitors of Entertrainment Junction. “I took six of my kids’ Star Wars figurines and hid them around the display,” says Balfour. “It’s fun to challenge people to find interesting stuff like that.” And sure enough, Chewbacca guards the roof of the city jail while a prisoner escapes out of a side window. We leave Chewbacca and pass a miniature drive-in on the way up to the observation tower. The hills of the 1800s and the small vistas of the 50s are all visible at once while a miniscule 60s Coney Island plays carnival music behind us. Brave figurines put their hands in the air and prepare for the intense hills of the Shooting Star roller coaster replica that is almost 40 feet long. A few trolleys circle around the small, unfinished amusement park, which is to be completed this spring. I walk over to the largest window and directly below me is the waterfall. In the distance, I see the gargantuan skyscrapers of the time period that I have yet to explore. “You can see kids diving into the river off of the bridge there,” Balfour points to the scene. “And a person bungee jumping off of the larger [bridge].” A miniature mannequin

dangles upside down from the bridge with a string tied around its waist. Each figurine is handcrafted and every building is handmade by people who volunteer their time to create and improve the world’s largest train display. Charlotte Hughes, one of Entertrainment Junction’s head volunteers, describes just how much blood, sweat and tears went into building this exhibit and keep it running today. “In the beginning, over 100 volunteers helped build this place,” says Hughes. “Many of those same volunteers come back regularly to add things.” Each volunteer likes to make something different for the display, such as trees, buildings, or people. The “countless hours” which each volunteer has donated gives the exhibit personality, which can only be obtained many hands coming together to create something beautiful. Bill leads me away from the window and down the stairs to see the last half of the 50s, but not before he introduces the American Railroad Museum. Vintage conductor suits, actual wooden train station benches and various other trinkets are displayed alongside informational boards to teach visitors everything there is to know about trains. A video tour of the exhibit plays on a small screen across one of these benches, which is a 100 year old relic from the Dayton Union Station. Small cameras are placed in the model trains, which travel around the entire display, so while watching the screen, it’s as if the tour is from the point of view that a passenger would have while riding one of these tiny trains. After the museum and the end of the 50s era, we travel through the third tunnel into present day. Instead of quaint vintage shops, skyscrapers tower over everything. Passenger trains

model train sizes G Scale: similar to the size of a loaf of bread. O Scale: similar to the size of a water bottle. HO Scale: similar to the size of a stapler. N Scale: similar to the size of a roll of quarters. information | joe koehl

transform into subways, and cargo carriers accumulate graffiti on the sides of their cars. The lights dim as the fifteen-minute sunlight cycle comes to a close. Rather than the sound of bullfrogs ribbiting and crickets chirping, car horns and speeding tires fill the air. C-3PO stands in line for the subway with other citizens of the city, some of which are on their laptops or purchasing drinks from vending machines. The underground train comes to a stop to let its motionless passengers aboard, and continues its journey underneath the city, which is visible through portholes cut out of the walls. The shining apartment buildings are full of inhabitants going about their business and traffic lines the narrow streets that wind around the lofty skyscrapers. It surprised me that something so amazing was right down the street from my neighborhood, when approximately 125,000 train-lovers from far and wide traveled the distance to see this gigantic display last year. “People from 35 different countries and all 50 states have signed our guest book,” says Balfour. “And we haven’t even been open for five years.” Don Oeters, the owner of Entertrainment Junction believes that locals don’t visit this train exhibit, because they keep putting it off to another day, not because they don’t want to. I think about how many people are missing out on this incredible display as I follow Bill to see the last part of the exhibit. Orange and yellow cranes lift train cars off of semi-trucks and onto locomotives when he pushes the blinking red button beneath the display. We turn away and walk through a large double door and into the gift shop, which sells train sets, conductor hats and Entertrainment Junction t-shirts. We left the wonderful world of trains behind, to venture on a new journey through the A-Maze-N Funhouse. A large mural of a circus coats the left wall of the entrance. Five red and white striped tents arch in a semi circle to the right, and an animated carnival display rests in the corner. Each tent offers a different wacky amusement. The Outer Limits tent is a journey through a black hole into the deepest realms of space, while the Clown College sideshow is full of optical illusions and tilted rooms. Getting lost in the Mirror Maze, or the Curtain Chaos tents, which is a maze with curtains draping over each pathway, is definitely plausible. The fifth tent is the Crazy Caper. It’s full of booby traps, challenges and various obstacles throughout. Although it is only open during the holidays and the month of July, the sixth tent features the Christmas Journey, which transports it’s visitors to the North Pole, where reindeer, elves and the big man himself, reside. The time comes for me to leave once I find my way through Ohio’s largest mirror maze and scale the tilted walls of the clown college, so I shake Bill’s hand goodbye and depart with a smile on my face. SM | Spark | 51

entertainment | movie reviews

entertainment | movie reviews



Left to right: Tina Fey, Nat Wolf and Paul Rudd star in Admission


he Incredible Burt Wonderstone is one of those movies that just looks terrible. Its trailer kills any chance of proving that the film is naturally funny.

Instead it gives the impression of just another strange Steve Carell movie void of anything but dumb slapstick jokes. But for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, strange and dumb just happens to work. After performing the same show for 15 years, famous magician Burt Wonderstone (Carell) has a falling out with his partner and best friend of 30 years, Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi). Burt tries to sustain his career solo, but soon discovers he’s not only lost his shine, but also all of his money, his show and his best


friend. When Burt unexpectedly meets his childhood inspiration, famous magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), he is inspired to rekindle his love for magic and his friendship with Anton in order to defeat his competition and earn back his performance at the fabulous Aztec Casino in Las Vegas. The plot isn’t filled with any unpredicted twists and turns, but remains interesting enough to scrape by. It certainly helped that the majority of the jokes made were original and unique, unlike the slapstick comedy that


photo used with paid permission from mctcampus





117 MINUTES ∙ PG-13


ina Fey is the funniest woman in televison. Her work on 30 Rock, which is easily a contender for one of the funniest shows ever made, and her writing on Saturday Night Live (SNL) that gave wit to an otherwise lifeless show is a testament to that, by all accounts. But when it comes to movies, she

52 | Spark | April 9, 2013

struggles to establish herself, and it’s really apparent throughout Admission.

coming to terms with her motherly instincts and doing whatever she can to get her son into college.



ortia Nathan (Fey) is an admissions officer for Princeton University who’s given up on her love life, social life and any other notion of fun to marry her job in hopes of one day getting promoted to head of admissions. She’s constantly vying for the spot with coworker Corinne (Gloria Rueben) and is also in a loveless relationship with her boyfriend Mark (Michael Sheen) who breaks up with her after revealing he not only cheated on her but is also expecting twins. Nothing’s going right for her until she meets teacher John Pressman (Paul Rudd) whom she starts to fall for until he reveals to her that a prodigal student, Jeremiah (Nat Wolf), who he wants for her to highly consider for Princeton, is actually her son. The remainder consists of her

n the surface, Admission seems like a genuine movie. It has an original premise and doesn’t appear to follow the same beaten path of other movies in its genre of chick flicks and date movies. But after the first 10 minutes, it’s undeniable that this film was only written for people over 40. The humor is completely nonexistent except when randomly inserted in the middle of the movie’s lethargic plot, and the characters are so flat that it makes Fey seem like the only one who had prior acting experience. Fey carries the movie but even she provides a disheartening performance. It feels like she’s being held back, which is something no one would expect from the same woman who is so well-known for having mocked people weekly on 30 Rock and SNL.

The cliché writing and hackneyed nuances aren’t things that fans expect from Fey, but that probably has to do with the fact she had nothing to do with the writing process. Even so, her usual wit and humor are expected from anything that she’s willing to put her name on, and the script is just as lifeless as that of any other write-off movie—and that’s exactly what Admission is.


atching it isn’t awful. There are some endearing moments and some moments that provide genuine laughter, but the film is shrouded with unoriginal writing and subpar acting. Fey’s still the master of television but she needs to stick to that because whether she’s behind the making of movies like Admission or not, it’s starting to call to question whether or not she still has the genius approach to writing that made things like SNL and 30 Rock so outrageously hilarious. SM


ometimes I wonder what it would be like if terrorists from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or maybe even the People’s Republic of Al-Qaeda were to take the president hostage. And now, having watched Olympus Has Fallen, a film where the president is taken hostage by North Korean terrorists, I am definitely still wondering what that would be like. When Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune), takes control of the White House with the President (Aaron Eckhart) as his hostage in order to force the Speaker of the House (Morgan Freeman) to remove American troops from the 38th Parallel, Michael Banning (Gerard Butler), a secret service agent who 18 months earlier had to let the First Lady die in order to save him,



happens to be the only living agent in the building and thus America’s only hope. None of it is believable. There’s no way the White House would be that unprepared for an assault of this kind. And even if terrorists were to be able to take control, there is no reason to believe that the Pentagon wouldn’t just let the president die. But this isn’t supposed to be an accurate story. What it should be called is Die Hard With Gerard Butler in the White House. It thrives on Antoine Fuqua’s fast-paced direction and its action sequences. The writing is there, but only to fill in the gaps where there aren’t explosions. Action usually isn’t enough to redeem a movie that lacks in other more-important areas, and this film is no different. But I admire the effort because Olympus Has Fallen is particularly uncompromising in its devotion to violence. And not the type that begets a message. No, this is orgiastic movie violence. It’s so blunt and meaningless that it’s funny. SM

is overused in most movies. Burt and Anton’s new rival, street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), is the main source of much of the comedy. Holding the title “Brain Rapist,” Steve Gray is an allusion to real-life magician and illusionist Criss Angel. But past the hilarious mix of wit and stupidity, Burt’s story is quite touching. The movie balances comedic and emotional writing, offering a way to connect to the lovable characters while still letting the audience in on all of the ridiculous jokes. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone isn’t mind-blowing by any stretch, but it definitely deserves some recognition for exceeding expectations, if only for the fact that they somehow made a funnier Criss Angel than Criss Angel. SM



ay hello to the Croods, “the world’s first modern family.” This animated adventurecomedy film follows the journey of the titular cave family. The Croods focuses on the group and their ability to live due to the father’s smart, yet overly paranoid, survival tactics, which include shunning anything new and hustling back to their cave home before night comes. The family must change their ways when their home is threatened by “The End,” an apocalypse theorized by Guy (Ryan Reynolds), an intelligent nomad, who is found by rebellious teen daughter Eep (Emma Stone). With his help, the family voyages across many bizarre lands until they reach safety on a mountain. Throughout their journey, Guy introduces the clan to many new


concepts like fire, shoes and different ways of surviving. Although it appears to be solely about a comedic cave family, The Crood’s underlying message is the importance of family love and not fearing the world, as shown through their near-death experiences and fright of new things. An unexpected tear-jerking moment comes when Eep, certain that her father, Grug (Nicolas Cage), is about to meet his demise, begins to regret not telling him how much she loved him. The comedic elements, such as the hybrid animals, like flying birdturtles or mice-elephants, and the oddball nature of the Croods gives the film a light tone. The adorable add-ins from Guy’s pet sloth, Belt (part-time pet, part-time belt), and the dog-like baby, Sandy, definitely makes the movie worth seeing. Although it is a kid’s movie, it isn’t overly annoying and is a perfect fit for this prehistoric family. The Croods it’s a fun film that’s great for the all ages of cave dwellers to enjoy. SM | Spark | 53

entertainment | Cincinnati Bands



MUSIC The return of ambition to the city’s bands, venues, fans, Cincinnati’s music is experiencing a revival causing many to reflect on the scene’s rich history and uncertain future. This is the second in the series on Cincinnati Music. story chris bowling photos used with permission from rachel ames, bunbury and joshua timmermans


54 | Spark | April 9, 2013

CINCINNATI MUSIC The scene remained “very underground” until the late 80s and 90s when more clubs began opening to support the rising popularity of alternative music. Venues like Sudsy Malone’s became the center for Cincinnati music and was the favorite place for bands like Ass Ponys to hang out and play. As Cleaver puts it, “everyone in a band around here practically got their start at Sudsy’s.” And even for those who weren’t in bands, the venue still had an impact. Karyn Oldendick, a former employee and avid fan of Sudsy’s, found her love for local music at the venue on October 11, 1991 at a show for a band called the Throneberrys. From that night on, she realized she had found her home away from home. “I practically lived there,” Oldendick says. “I would be there from about 5:30 in the evening to 2:30 a.m. or later if we were all hanging out after cleaning, go to work later that morning and then back to Sudsy’s at 5:30 again. I was there seven days a week. It was my life.” Ian Mathieu was only 17 when he first started going to shows at Sudsy’s. Now he’s the assistant manager of the popular venue Southgate House Revival and a member of local folk band Terminal Union, but what he still remembers most about the place is hanging out with his heroes. “I would go down to Sudsy Malone’s on Short Vine and see Ass Ponys all the time, they were one of my favorites,” Mathieu says.

“Chuck would get me in, I’d carry an amp or something and he’d say I was his nephew.” The 90s were a point of citywide support for music and a thriving culture that had previously been limited to UC classrooms and house parties. The city also earned national attention through bands like The Afghan Whigs whose albums like 1993’s Gentleman made them one of the most critically acclaimed alternative bands of the 90s. In 1994 MTV even came to Cincinnati to do a now infamous segment about the city’s rising music scene which Cleaver still remembers. “In the 90s when The Afghan Whigs got signed I remember MTV came here and started calling us ‘the next Seattle’ and all that crap, but people around here knew it [would never happen],” Cleaver says. “In Seattle there seemed to be a unified theme of sorts with the whole grunge thing, Cincinnati has always

photo brian bruemmer

cross the street from Bogart’s, there used to be a venue called Sudsy Malone’s. Other than doubling as a laundromat, it also served as the breeding ground for Cincinnati artists and music through the 80s and 90s, fostering local bands like The Afghan Whigs, Over the Rhine and Ass Ponys. These bands found a home in the unique venue and helped put Cincinnati’s music on the map. Today, Sudsy’s sits vacant, its persona living on in the fond memories of its regulars like former Ass Ponys front man and present day Wussy guitarist and singer, Chuck Cleaver. When he came to the city in the 70s to be an art student at the University of Cincinnati (UC), Cleaver didn’t know what to expect. In his hometown of Clarksville, Ohio he was “the only person within miles” that was listening to rock stations like WEBN that featured album cuts and the stuff other stations didn’t play. When he came to Cincinnati he found people who shared his interests and slowly he started getting involved with music, beginning with a band he and some classmates started in 1978 called The Lunch Buddies. Since then he’s gained recognition from SPIN, Rolling Stone and MTV and has become a component in the current renaissance of the city’s music. But even if things are thriving now, Cleaver remembers that it hasn’t always been that way. “Cincinnati has never been a supportive city of original music,” Cleaver says. “In the late 70s and 80s it was hard for an original band to get a show. We’d just have a party in a room at UC, charge two or three bucks to get in, have a keg of beer and that’s what we did until we were kicked out. That’s how you played.”

been eclectic. There’s an interview with our bass player and [the interviewer] asks what he thinks and he says, ‘eh, I think it’s a fluke.’ People actually got mad and he was like, ‘f-k that.’ We’re going to be gone in 60 seconds because they’ll figure out we’re not young and won’t cooperate.” And just as Ass Ponys bassist Randy Cheek predicted, Cincinnati’s national spotlight was gone just as quickly as it came. Through the 2000s, popular venues like Bogart’s and Sudsy’s were either neglected or shut down and bands like The Afghan Whigs and Ass Ponys broke up. Even the area of Short Vine, which had been home for the scene, went downhill and by the time Sudsy’s closed in 2008, the flagship bands of its heyday had stopped playing there. But now through the resurgence of bands such as Walk the Moon, Foxy Shazam and Wussy, return of support from fans, and the arrival of venues like MOTR, co-owned by former Sudsy’s booking agent Dan McCabe, Cincinnati is seeing a revival of its music scene. And for Cleaver, who’s been a part of the scene for 35 years, it’s returned with an even stronger force than ever before. “Right now the music scene in Cincinnati is easily the healthiest it’s ever been,” Cleaver says. “Over the last four to five years it’s really gotten good.” And in addition to the return of venues, fans and creativity, Cincinnati’s music has also begun to progress and innovate in a way that wasn’t present before. Music festivals like South by Southwest, Coachella and Lollapalooza have become staples of the musical experience over the past decade. Thousands flock to these cities for days of music and last year Cincinnati joined the ranks of those cities by introducing its own festival, Bunbury. Bill Donabedian, who cofound Midpoint, another local music festival in 2002, saw an opportunity for an even larger festival with the rising support in music. “The region didn’t have anything like Bunbury,” Donabedian says. “So it seemed like the right time to start a music festival.”

Chuck Cleaver of Ass Ponys and Wussy.

The Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli at Sudsy’s in 1989.

We want Bunbury to be one of the best music festivals in the world. It may never be the biggest, but it can definitely be one of the best. He had the know how from his experience with Midpoint, which takes places every fall, and has attracted artists such as Best Coast, Sleigh Bells and Grizzly Bear. But beyond Midpoint, Donabedian also had experience as former managing director of Fountain Square, which puts on an annual summer concert series, but this was on a much larger scale. After planning for over two years and acquiring the capital to put on the show, his work paid off. In its inaugural year of 2012, Bunbury was ranked ninth in the essential festivals to see that summer by Yahoo Music. It also had a crowd of 55,000, drawing 25,000 more than the average attendance of nearby Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Kentucky which celebrated its tenth anniversary last year with headliners like The Black Keys, Wilco and My Morning Jacket. For 2013 Bunbury has announced a lineup of MGMT, The National and Fun. among 80 other performances. And for Donabedian these acclaimed acts are all part of plan. “We want Bunbury to be one of the best music festivals in the world,” Donabedian says. “It may never be the biggest, but it can definitely be one of the best.” And because of the success of Bunbury and the continued improvement from the rest of the scene, the city’s future is optimistic. Much like in the 90s people like Karen Foley, general manager of Bogart’s, are looking at the next ten years and wondering if the city can be the next Austin or Seattle. And to most it’s a strong possibility. But those like Cleaver don’t want to see the city go in that direction because they know the consequences that follow. “Look what happens to those cities, they go up the pole and now they’re burnout towns,” Cleaver says. “I have friends that live in Austin that say it’s horrible now, and Seattle’s the same way. People hear [the music] and all flock thinking there’s some magic f--king potion that’s going to suddenly make them good. If it happens here, so be it, but it won’t do anyone any good.” Mathieu, who briefly moved from Cincinnati in 2007 to live in Nashville, Tennessee agrees

with Cleaver. “[The music scene in Nashville] is awful,” Mathieu says. “The talent here is equally as good [as Nashville]. I think the songwriting is actually better. [In Nashville] it’s not very communal, everyone just tries to get what they can but here everybody is very cool about helping each other out. You also see that in Austin—so many bands flock there and it’s like a big competition of who can outdo each other and who can sound exactly like someone else. I like where we’re at now because we’re big enough but we just kind of have our own thing here.” And a large part of “our own thing” is the sense of community in the music and art scene. Whether it’s Cleaver coming down to his favorite Northside coffee shop and sliding a copy of Wussy’s Buckeye to the girl behind the counter, Mathieu hosting a songwriter’s group at the Southgate House Revival or Bunbury featuring local talent along with their headliners, Cincinnati has become an artistically supportive city again. Oldendick, who’s seen the scene in good and bad, notes that no matter which clubs open or close, this sense of community is what will always be there. “We haven’t changed, just matured,” Oldendick says. “The old schoolers have gotten older of course but they are still all willing to encourage the up-and-coming bands and we still support each other. Cincinnati music scene, regardless of genre, is a family.” And as for Cleaver, who sits in Sidewinder coffee shop almost 19 years after MTV aired its feature, he still believes the best situation for Cincinnati is to remain where it is. But most importantly the best future for Cincinnati is to keep supporting and taking pride in the unique sound of local music and artists. “If people come here from other places, there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s something about being from the Midwest,” says Cleaver. “If anyone writes from here,” he says motioning to his heart, “or wherever. It’s always a reflection of where you’re from.” SM

Foxy Shazam performs

at Bunbury in 2012. | Spark | 55

entertainment | album reviews

entertainment | album reviews


Luckily for Bowie, he’s always sung like an old man, so now that he is one he doesn’t sound much different. But he does sing with a new kind of pain. He no longer belts out his lyrics, he croons them. It sounds as if they struggle to escape him. The best example is the dreamy ballad “Where Are We Now?” In the 70s, Berlin was his muse. He wrote much of his best music there and he had it in mind when he penned “Heroes.” Now he sings “Sitting in the Dschungel/On Nürnberger Strasse/A man lost in time.” He’s an old man trying to remember what the glory days felt like, not so he can recapture them, but so he can remember why he made the beautiful music in the first place. “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” is probably the best track. It is an operatic anthem, bittersweet and violent and magnificent. It’s the culmination of everything Bowie is trying to accomplish: it conveys his sadness, his disillusionment and his old age, as well as his desire to turn the page on The Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust and all those other men he used to be.

David Bowie performing live in his younger years


THE NEXT DAY David Bowie

Columbia Records

David Bowie fights off senility with angry guitars and general weirdness.


photo used with fair use


ven when it was hard to understand what David Bowie was singing about, it’s always been easy to understand where he’s coming from. “Life On Mars?,” from his acclaimed 1971 record Hunky Dory, is a contender for my favorite song ever. It is oblique and difficult lyrically, but musically it is grand and sweeping and it has brought me to tears damn near every time, even before I understood the significance of its pained female protagonist, disillusioned with the media and seeking a better reality

56 | Spark | April 9, 2013

somewhere out in the cosmos. It was Bowie at his best because he’s a romantic in the classical sense. Not anymore.

His youthful idealism has been replaced by cynicism. And just like it was in his prime, the music suits the times.



he Next Day, Bowie’s first record in 10 years, proves two things: he is not the same martian who told Cold War love stories when we needed them the most. And secondly, he is as funky as ever, in his own bizarre way. Instead of “Heroes,” we get “Love is Lost.” The guitar isn’t sweet or uplifting, it’s hard-edged and foreboding, and the wall of sound has been painted black.

e’s still groovy, but an overbearing sense of melody has been replaced by unadulterated noise, like his goal in life is no longer to bring down a wall, but build a new one out of sound and gravel. And the brilliance of Bowie, like always, is that his lyrics and his instrumentation work collaboratively. The drums, the synth, the guitar, they’re just as angry as he is.

he point is that Bowie is still here, weathered and old but not yet ‘round the bend, with just enough juice left to make some noise. There’s a sense of general weirdness that appears to have been augmented by Bowie’s impending senility, but in a way it’s charming. Lucidity is for younger folk, and Bowie’s never been one to deny his true self (except for when he decided he was gay and then decided he wasn’t). The Next Day is at its best cathartic, and at its worst hard to swallow. But like always, Bowie makes it easy to see where he’s coming from. And here he sings “Here I am/Not quite dying/My body left to rot in a hollow tree.” I couldn’t put it any better than that. SM




hree years ago, it would have been fair to call Nathan Williams a stupid kid. He was putting out his third album in two years as Wavves, and he called it King of the Beach. The cover was a cat holding a joint, most of the album had a kind of lackadaisical attitude to it and it was surfpunk perfected, with Williams’ voice giving the album a kind of Beach Boys meets Japandroids feeling. And it was a childish, the sounds of a 24-year-old rejecting


responsiblity and maturity. But it’s three years later, and Afraid of Heights is probably the most appropriate title for this album. The sound isn’t much different. For the most part, it’s the same heavy drumming and sonic tidal waves of guitar that made up his last three albums, while Williams showcases an uncanny ability to switch between clear, pounding guitar riffs and lofi messes that both sound great. Lyrically though, Williams sounds downtrodden. On the first single, “Sail To The Sun,” Williams sings “We’ll all die alone/Just the way we lived.” And on the title track,




It all began when Walk off the Earth covered “Somebody That I Used To Know.” After that, they became famous for covering songs and then uploading them onto YouTube. The band’s unusual instruments (ukulele, theremin, etc.) had people hooked. And with R.E.V.O., Walk off the Earth will be crowned more than just YouTube sensations. “Red Hands” establishes a cheerful tone before bursting into summer chants that fluidly alternate male and female vocals. “Gang of Rhythms,” however, sums up the entire album, showing that their strongest point is their bohemian style combined with their bubblegum energy.—Kelly Cai

Comedown Machine opens with a screeching guitar then jumps right into a layered, toe-tapping groove with sleek guitars and snappy drums. From there out, the album shows off the Strokes’ best attributes. The album’s vocals alternate between the heavily distorted style seen in Is This It? and Room on Fire, but also draws from Angles’s clear and flowing vocals. Casablancas’ vocals change for every track, making no two sound the same. Comedown Machine really showcases the experimental and evolving sound of rock. Stereo recording makes it hard to play on earbuds, so play it loud and proud on the biggest speakers available.—Arvind Madhaven

Williams repeats “I’ll always be on my own/F---ed and alone.” The dude just sounds beat. It sounds bad to say, but it’s exactly what Williams needed to keep Wavves relevant. The whole surfer-stoner-I-don’tgive-a-shit genre is hackneyed and boring—Best Coast killed it with their sophomore album The Only Place. Williams keeps the style changing enough to keep the album interesting, like the surprising acoustic addition “Cop” and “Gimme a Knife,” on which Williams screams “Gimme the knife/I’ll put the knife in my brain.” Afraid of Heights is what follow-up albums are supposed to sound like. It actually showcases Williams’ progression as an artist and a person. But like he sings on “Demon To Lean On,” “The truth is that it hurts/And what’s it really worth?” Hopefully he’ll tell us. SM




photos by chris bowling



“DOMO 23”

Tyler, the Creator




Hoodie Allen



WHAT ABOUT NOW Bon Jovi has been making genuinely good music for the past 30 years, but on their twelfth studio album, What About Now, they diverge from the beaten path of the hard/pop rock music that they have mastered so well to create a soft rock album. Even if it didn’t feel wrong for Bon Jovi to make soft-rock, the atrocity of the album makes it rock blasphemy. Of the 15 tunes on What About Now, “Because We Can” is the only good song, partly because the lyrics and instrumentation are better than what the rest of the album has to offer, but also because it still has some remnants of the sound that has defined Bon Jovi for years.—Jake Haan

To check out more reviews on movies and albums, as well as watch live performances by local bands, go to

Kingston Town




Love & Theft



Florida George Line | Spark | 57

entertainment | book review


JONATHAN FRANZEN publisher farrar, straus and giroux release date september 1, 2001 book review onur eroglu


s I read The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, I can’t see the big picture. I can’t pick out what the novel means, what the people stand for, what the message is. This is because the way the lives of the characters intertwine, bind and mutate together has made this book so relatable that every detail has an effect on the way I view the story. It’s about Enid, Alfred, Gary, Chip and Denise Lambert. Enid is the matriarchwho wants to get her family back together for Christmas. And for much of the novel she’s a monster. This is manifested in her relationship with her husband Alfred, a former railroad engineer who believes in honest work. Enid wants adventure, something stupid she can tell her kids about. But Alfred’s Parkinson’s and dementia seem to be getting progressively worse. In this, Franzen narrates with ambiguity. There is no side to take in this battle between Enid’s manipulation and Alfred’s lack of regard for her feelings. At some points Alfred seems too detached to love his family. At others Enid seems more concerned with her projection of her family than with her actual family. The narrator is limited; feelings are filtered

In contrast to the dismal subject matter, the story is told with clever prose that ultimately shows it to be more a work of dry-witfueled humor, tinged with pathos, than a work of bleak tragedy.

through the prejudices of the character that each particular section is focusing on. And the structuring of the story adds to this mentality. There are sections corresponding to the life of each character. Viewpoints on characters change as we receive backstory in anachronistic order. Chip Lambert is a Marxist who likes grungy sex. He’s an amiable screw-up who after getting fired from his professorship sets out to write a screenplay. He explains to his skeptical girlfriend that he wanted the beginning to be off-putting so that when the audience finally does get over the hump it’s fulfilling. This is ironic, not only because it’s selfdefeating but also because it’s exactly what Franzen does with the novel. The first pages consist of grueling sentences describing the weather in St. Jude, the fictional Midwestern town where Enid and Alfred live. Chip’s life has been the result of his emotional distance from his parents since a young age. The way the family’s life was when they were together profoundly affects the way of life of each character now. This makes it so that there is a DNA that runs through each character’s actions. The characters stand as more than just mere representations of themes. They’re real people who act according to how they’ve been affected by their family.

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Chip’s older brother Gary is the opposite of Chip. He’s a wealthy banker with a beautiful wife and two spoiled kids. Through the story of Gary’s life, we see the complexity with which Franzen is renders his characters. If we view things the way Gary does, we believe that his wife is a sociopath who tries to convince him that he’s depressed in order to gain some kind of advantage in the relationship. Gary also has this lingering fear that she is conspiring with his kids to make fun of him behind his back. The narration flows through Gary’s head so vividly that his suspicions are believable. But then we see, through his endless recollections of the warning signs of depression in efforts to prove to himself that he is not afflicted, that Gary is only successful in theory. He’s much like his mother; he tries to believe in a life of success and harmony instead of coming to terms with his unhappiness. He and his mother are at odds with his sister, Denise. Denise is sexually confused, meaning she will literally make love with anything that is made out of flesh as long as she is not related to it. She’s always had

a thing for married people. She’s ruined many lives. Her life has spiraled out of control much like those of her parents and brothers have in their own ways. What all of these characters have in common is that they try to convince themselves that the lives they are living, the values they have, are the right ones. But as the story unfolds they realize they’re wrong, so they seek to correct their lives. The only tragedy is that Alfred can’t do this because he’s going nowhere mentally. All of their individual corrections are tied to the novel’s backdrop which is a waning late-90s economy. A setting that is deconstructing itself as the Lambert family is. In contrast to the dismal subject, the story is told with clever prose that ultimately shows it to be more a work of dry-wit-fueled humor, tinged with pathos, than a work of bleak tragedy. The Corrections isn’t built on escalating emotions for the purpose of drama. It’s built on ironic encounters and uncomfortable self-deceptions that are ultimately satisfying. It’s a philosophical study of how people respond to mistakes that they’ve made by continuously making decisions that get worse and worse until their lives are either damaged beyond repair or so ruined that they start to change for the better without being conscious of it. SM


sports | 8 things


story kalen white east varsity boys’ volleyball (as told to claire schomaker) photo michael tedesco

Be in good shape

“Middle blockers needs to be built for speed since you take off in either direction to block a hitter.”

Possess a high vertical

“This means that you can jump high; you can achieve this by working out with plyometrics or “strength” training. It helps to be tall and have long arms.”

Make decisions quickly

“The strength of a middle blocker is speed. Almost all of the sets that middle gets are either immediately above the net or about a foot above. You have a second to get to the ball before it drops below the net.”

Anticipate opponents

“You own the net. Call out opposing hitters, call stacked plays. Know where you will be needed most according to the opposing teams line-up. Know where their key hitters are and shut them down.”

Develop relationships

Since your sets are typically faster, with less reaction time, it is essential for the setter and middle to be on the same page.

Have consistency

“Repeatedly practice with your setter from a variety of angles, making you a target during plays that would typically omit you i.e. bad pass, no approach.”

Stay enthusiastic

“Be the first to cheer your teammates as you are usually a part of every play and your intensity will inspire your team.”

Have fun

“After you have adjusted to your opponents, line up and know exactly what they’ll do. Have fun!” | Spark | 59

sports | indepth

sports | indepth

Since the turf was installed, East athletes believe that it’s the cause behind injuries. Eric Eichler and Sydney Aten are both survivors of the

TURF WARS story claire middleton photos kenzie walters and michael tedesco infographic nugeen aftab Eric Eichler shows the scar he received from his MRSA infection.


60 | Spark | April 9, 2013

they spread MRSA everywhere.” Another reason athletes are so prone to staph infections, according to Schlaudecker, is because they are more likely to have cuts and scratches during activity, especially while playing on turf. “[The infection] actually occurs because of a turf burn, which opens up your skin,” Schlaudecker says. “The bacteria on your skin then infects the burn.” Signs the athlete might be infected include swelling, pain and—as Eichler noticed— redness of the infected area. To treat this, a swab of the area is taken and sent down to a microbiology lab where they grow a culture of the bacteria. From there, they test a number of different antibiotics. “[Culturing] is really important because you’re taking a big guess on what to treat it with unless you know what kind of bacteria is actually in the infection,” Schlaudecker says. “If it’s just a red area and there’s no place to culture, we usually treat with Clindamycin and

INJURI NJURI S Spark presents the fourth installment of its multi-part series about East sports injuries. Part five will be explore the psychological effect of injuries.

Bactrim. The last resort we have is that we can use an IV medicine called Vancomycin.” After skin is infected, symptoms of cellulitis can vary. Some people may experience flu-like illness, while others experience a fever. It all depends on how a person’s body reacts to the infection. “Cellulitis can be very painful,” says Schlaudecker, who sees a few hundred infectious diseases, with over half being MRSA, in the outpatient clinic each year. “If it is cellulitis, redness will spread and the skin will feel warm. It often will start to feel a little hard where the skin is inflamed. An abscess, or ‘puss pouch,’ will occasionally form as well.” Although Eichler did not have abscess, he was immediately treated with IV Vancomycin and Cephalexin, since the doctors were unable to culture a sample of the infection. “They gave me an IV and some antibiotics and pumped the medicine into me Sunday night and all day Monday and Tuesday,” says Eichler, who threw for the second most passing touchdowns in a season in school history this year. “After I was released from the hospital [on Tuesday], I took an oral antibiotic for about two weeks. I got to practice Wednesday and Thursday, but didn’t get to start in the game Friday [but I still got to play some].” Although Eichler had taken his oral antibiotics for three days before the game against Fairfield, meeting the minimum number of days to be considered “non-contagious” and

Eric Eichler wearing a sleeve to protect his arm after his infection.

causes pressure in one of the four muscle compartments to increase to a point to where it causes neurovascular compromise, which is when the deep perennial nerve runs down the anterior portion along the artery. When it swells, the artery collapses and it pinches the nerve, choking off the blood supply to the foot. When Aten went to Galloway, he explained the symptoms of the condition including pain, pallor, paresthesia, paralysis, and pulselessness, commonly known as the “five P’s.” Throughout the 2011 fall soccer season, Aten experienced all of these signs and realized the condition was getting worse. Although there is no definitive research that supports the fact that turf causes an increase in the number of compartment syndrome cases, Aten believes that it was the major cause. “That’s when I noticed a huge difference

MRSA: A PROCESS The inside of the nose and the skin are the most common place for staphylococcus bacteria to live.

If the bacteria from the skin gets inside an open would, it will create a “staph” infection.

between turf and grass. Whenever I played on turf it seemed ten times worse,” Aten says. “I remember one of the last games we played against Mason High School. They were our biggest competition, and we were tied 0-0 in the last few minutes of the match. My legs were extremely sore from our game on the turf two days prior, but I honestly thought my legs were going to explode. They were on fire and it felt like someone was stabbing my shins with pins and needles. That’s when I realized it was really serious.” In order to diagnose the disorder, Aten had magnetic resonance images (MRI) taken of her legs to evaluate the muscle blood flow in the compartments. Just a few weeks after the scans were completed, they confirmed the condition. To treat it Sydney had a bilateral fasciotomy to relieve the pressure. “The elastic fascial sheath is basically like saran wrap that goes around the muscles in the compartments,” Moore says. “When the surgery is performed, they do a fasciotomy and cut the fascia that crumbles around that group of muscles.” The elastic fascial sheath holds the muscles in the leg together. This “saran wrap” is cut from below the knee all the way down the leg to leave room for the expansion of the muscles. Although the surgery was invasive, the recovery was very fast and Aten was back on the soccer field in less than a month. “The rehab was extremely easy,” Aten says. “I had absolutely no pain after surgery and never had to use crutches. The hardest part was just waiting for the scar tissue to heal so that I could get back to exercising, but aside from the four nasty scars, it was the easiest surgery I’ve ever had to recover from.” Although the turf field Aten eventually returned to play on offers numerous advantages to schools and athletes alike, it sometimes comes—as a few East athletes learned—at a painful price. SM

A common infection in football players and other athletes, MRSA is surprisingly easy to acquire. A boil can form and last one to two weeks. The boil can be extremely painful and must be drained in order to heal.

MRSA bacteria are resistant to most drugs. Stronger medicines or an IV are used. information Elizabeth Schlaudedecker

ast junior quarterback Eric Eichler took the snap. As he was waiting to pitch the ball, a Mason linebacker came out of nowhere. His right arm slid across the playing surface, leaving a turf burn that he didn’t notice until after the drive. “You don’t notice [a turf burn] in a game, but it really hurts afterward like when you get in the shower and the water runs over it,” Eichler says. “You can’t really prevent it.” Two days after the game, Eichler got out of the shower and noticed a red streak from the burn going all the way around his arm into his armpit. Later that night, his mom Diane took him to West Chester Medical Center’s emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a type of staphylococcus aureus—more commonly known as staph infection—called cellulitis, an inflammation of the skin. According to Elizabeth Schlaudecker, the Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Division of Infectious Diseases at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, cellulitis caused by methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is more commonly found in athletes, especially football and soccer players, than in any other population. “Football players have more equipment [than other sports] and they tend to have a lot of skin folds and areas that are warm,” Schlaudecker says. “A football player that is wearing a lot of pads is going to get really sweaty. Then if they are sharing equipment,

be cleared to play by the National Federation of State High School Associations Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, he returned to action with some trepidation. “I had to keep it covered really well when I played that’s why I started wearing the arm sleeve,” Eichler says. “It ended up taking a while for it to heal because I would get hit where the scar was and it would break back open and start bleeding again.” Despite the problems it poses, Eichler still prefers playing on the turf field over playing on a grass field. “[Turf] is easier to run on because it has more of a flat surface,” Eichler says. “It is more beneficial to football players because it helps you run faster and have quicker reactions.” Turf also offers numerous benefits to athletic departments. It requires significantly less maintenance than a traditional grass field, has much greater long-term durability than the alternative, and can last through any weather condition. East’s turf, which was installed in the summer of 2009, is a variety called Twenty-Four/Seven from the Motz Group. It is composed of slit film fibers, and is then filled with crumb rubber and a sand mixture to provide a “cushioned surface,” according to the company’s website. Although this softness is designed to help limit injuries, East senior soccer player Sydney Aten believes turf contributed to one of hers. During her junior year playing on the girls’ varsity soccer team, Aten began to notice some numbness and pain in her legs when she ran—especially on the turf. After visiting East athletic trainer Cory Jacobs, she went to her orthopedic doctor, Marc Galloway, to figure out why she was experiencing these symptoms. After multiple tests, Aten was diagnosed with Anterior Compartment Syndrome in September of 2011. According to Mike Moore, an East athletic trainer, compartment syndrome | Spark | 61

sports | brief

sports | column



East girls’ basketball head coach Nikki Drew leaves the team after four years of coaching because she wants to spend more time with her family. story john grasty | photo spark archives infographic emily chao and angela ferguson

A coach for four years at East, Drew was known to be as passionate as the players she coached.


hen 2012 East graduate Aleth Pashi received a call from East sophomore Cydney Franklin on Feb. 27, she started crying. While on the phone, Franklin informed Pashi that Nikki Drew would be stepping down from her position as East head girls’ basketball coach. After 10 years and 118 wins at the helm of both East and Colerain, Drew decided she needed to spend more time at home with her family and less time in the gym. “[I stepped down] to be home more for my daughter, who is seven,” said Drew, who also teaches sports medicine at East through Butler Tech. “She is getting involved in her own activities and basketball is a full time gig, so it’s hard to get her where she needs to be.” When Pashi took time to consider Drew’s reasoning, things started to make sense.

“At first, I was kind of shocked. But when I let it set in and the reason why I honestly understood it 100 percent,” said Pashi, who followed her four years under Drew with a career at Otterbein University. “You wouldn’t want your family to suffer or think they’re coming second to something.” According to East sophomore guard Kandace Satterwhite, Drew’s intensity made her the perfect coach. “[I’ll remember] how much she loved us and the game,” Satterwhite said. “How she cared about everything that was going on about us and how much passion she had.” Drew thinks it will be difficult to no longer be involved in a sport she has either played or coached her entire life, including her collegiate career at Xavier University and a stint playing professionally in Europe. “[Stepping down] is a huge change for me personally,” Drew said. “I am not quite sure how to handle it. Ask me in a month or summer time when summer leagues are taking place.” In the four years before Drew took the coaching job at East, the Thunderhawks won a total of 16 games. In Drew’s four years, they

information lakota board of education policy,,, dan hilen


5 4 3

Pupil activity program permit issued by the state board of education Necessary qualifications Have been properly interviewed Sign an employment contract Pass a background check

Under Drew’s coaching, East has had an increase in the number of college signees. Coached under Drew

2 1 0

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

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won 55 games, including the program’s first district championship in 2011. As of press time, no decision had been made about Drew’s successor, according to the East athletic department. Satterwhite believes assistant coach of two years Larry Sykes would be an ideal candidate since he has worked with the girls before and was interim coach during Drew’s one week leave of absence in the 2011-12 season. “[Coach Sykes] knows all of us already and how we play,” said Satterwhite, who was a second-team all GMC selection this season. “It would probably be the easiest to have him.” Regardless of who is coaching the girls next year, Pashi believes some of the lessons Drew taught the team will allow them to move on without any setbacks. “[The current team] can learn from coach Drew that just one person leaving doesn’t affect how well those girls can work together or how hard they can work,” Pashi said. “They have so much talent, so just one person can’t affect how well they do. That’s something coach Drew taught [the class of 2012] through our time with her.” SM

Under Drew East achieved more wins in four years (55-40) than in the first 12 years combined (54-202).


MERCY HIGH SCHOOL Hall of Fame inductee 11 varsity letters




X XAVIER UNIVERSITY College ball led to professional career in France and Germany




2002 director of Vanderbilt University’s basketball operations

Head girls’ basketball coach, 2003 – 2009 Coached the team to its first district title in 2005

LAKOTA EAST HIGH SCHOOL Head coach, 2009-2013 Thunderhawk results: 2009-2010 – 13-11, 6-8 GMC 2010-2011 – 19-6, 10-4 GMC 2011-2012 – 13-8, 9-5 GMC* 2012-2013 – 10-15, 7-7 GMC

OVERALL: 55-40 *Coach of the year

STAFF CONTRIBUTOR contact brett at


rowing up in a suburban neighborhood, I had a group of friends that lived on my street who would play games with me. From driveway basketball to playing “Super Mario” on the Nintendo 64, we always had a blast. But there was a kid who lived down at the end of the street who was never allowed to play any sort of contact sport. He had that over-protective kind of mother who seemed to refuse to let her kid have any kind of fun. Whenever we did anything that might get him hurt, this kid would have to go through an interrogation session with his mother before she approved him going outside to play. He was always complaining about not being allowed to play with me and the rest of the neighborhood kids. And as the National Football League (NFL) Competition Committee proposed yet another rule change, I could only think of the poor kid from down the street. The committee, which is made up of eight members chosen by NFL coaches and owners, proposed to penalize ball carriers leading with the crown of their helmet. A ball carrier that leads with his helmet will now receive a 15-yard penalty and possibly a fine. The rule was voted on by the owners on March 20, and it was passed by 31 of 32 teams. The Cincinnati Bengals were the only team to turn down the rule, making this the first time I have ever agreed with Bengals owner Mike Brown, but that’s a whole other issue. n theory, the rule sounds reasonable. It would not only protect the defenders from being bulldozed by the top of a helmet, but it would prevent the runners from damaging their heads, especially amidst the recent attention paid to concussions and long-term brain damage. What this does, however, is disallow the running back from naturally lowering his shoulder as he braces for a hit. It creates uncertainty for the ball carrier, and when 11 lightning-fast, chiseled pro athletes are chasing him down, the last thing the guy with the ball wants is uncertainty. Star Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte took to Twitter to discuss his


displeasure of the new rule. He called the idea “absurd” that runners would have to change their running style to that extent. “In order to lower ur shoulder u obviously have to lower ur head,” Forte tweeted. “It’s a way of protecting ur self from a tackler and a way to break tackles.” Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson has publicly stated that he believes that the Competition Committee made the new rule because of him, even referring to it as the “T-Rich” rule.


The committee showed a video of Richardson lowering his shoulder and head and plowing through Eagles safety Kurt Coleman, knocking Coleman’s helmet off in the process, as an example of the problem with the move. This was followed by the vote from the owners and then the rule became official. hanges like this have become a common theme in the NFL over the past few seasons, with player safety and discipline at the focal point of the decisions. Rules such as not allowing defenders to launch themselves at opposing players and the increasingly


stringent regulations on concussion testing have all come into effect recently. Nothing is wrong with trying to reduce injuries in such a violent sport, but there comes a time when the rule changes are taking it too far. hese changes to rules have slowly taken big hits out of the game. Even when a defender makes a clean hit, he gets flagged because the receiver was deemed “defenseless,” and if the defender is a Steeler or Raven, a fine usually follows. If he’s going to put his receiver in a defenseless position, it’s on the quarterback to not throw the ball to him. Nowadays, high school football can be an even more hard-hitting and physical game than the pros. One of the best hits I’ve ever seen happened in the 2011 match-up between Moeller and St. Xavier when a receiver on a post route met a safety just as the ball hit his fingertips. There was no penalty, and the safety was not fined or suspended. Rather, the receiver slowly climbed from the turf and offered the safety a congratulatory buttslap because he had made a good football play. ut sometimes, owners put other things above good football. The NFL rule changes are almost like playing a board game with older siblings who constantly change the rules to ensure that they win. The owners adjust rules to make sure their star players will always be on the field, insuring tickets will be sold and the owners will be making money. But running backs that have made a living using the move—and hardcore fans that enjoy watching it—are deprived of the physicality they love about football. The owners are trying so hard to keep every player safe in a naturally violent game, and it’s always a shame to see a player go down. But injuries happen. It’s a part of football. Adding rules to limit violent hits may help, but overdoing it will just cause the game to turn into something that’s closer to elementary-age flag football than the hardhitting game the fans thrive on. As the game evolves into a seemingly two-hand-touch league, the fans will not evolve with it. The mother from down the street, however, will be satisfied. SM


B | Spark | 63

sports | athlete spotlight

sports | athlete spotlight


With a dad that played in the NFL and a mom that was a Division I track runner, Autumn Heath comes from an athletic family. She hopes to continue this tradition and remind everyone athletic success is


Autumn Heath sprints down the East track.


Liberty Junior School T-Birds. “[Getting her to start running] was pushing her to the point where she understands that she has a talent that she needs to take seriously. Once she started to understand how far she could go with it, it wasn’t a problem after that,” Rodney says. “I knew she was pretty good when she was younger, but I didn’t know what type of attitude she would have toward it. Around seventh grade I saw some of the stuff she could do and I knew she could keep up with some of the girls without even training and I knew we had something special.” From these early days, Autumn has stuck to sprinting—the 100 meter, 200 meter, occasionally the 400 meter, and since starting indoor track, the 60 meter. During her


Those who win races, often have the best starting strategy, and execute it well. Having the right shoes and the right uniform is important, but great technique almost always trumps equipment.


Bodyweight is evenly distributed over the four contact points in the start position (the hands and knees). 64 | Spark | April 9, 2013

freshman year, she qualified for the state meet in the 100 meter. While she did not qualify for finals, simply being there was still of immense importance to her. “It was very scary because I was just the freshman,” Autumn says. “Now since I have more experience, I feel like I deserve to be there as much as anyone else.” During her sophomore year, she qualified in both the 100 meter and 200 meter races and made it to the finals in each, placing fifth in the 100 meter and eight in the 200 meter. But Autumn doesn’t want to just be in the race anymore—she wants to win. “This year my goal is to win states in the 100 [meter] and 200 [meter] and for our [4x100 meter] relay to make it this time so they can

The back leg swings forward, and the extended front leg and trunk form a straight line.

“[In five years] I see her running for a major university and possibly trying out for the Olympics,” he says. “She’s got a fabulous start if she hits it the right way and she can run a curve. She’s just getting that strong. She’s a stud.” Rodney thinks his daughter has all the tools needed to make it to the highest level of track and field. “[Olympic] athletes don’t just go out and do it and not have a passion behind it,” Rodney says. “Hopefully [in five years] we’ll be getting to go somewhere and watch the Olympics.” For this year, Autumn has an upcoming high school season that Lindeman is tremendously

“She’s got a fabulous start if she hits it the right way and she can run a curve. She’s just getting that strong. She’s a stud.” -East track and field coach John Lindeman “Track is really a mental thing. When you look at a race, you have to be mentally tough,” Autumn says. “If you’re not mentally tough, that’s the worst part. That’s why I think this year is going to be good for me because I have the experience and I can go farther.” Although she only has two seasons of high school track and field under her belt, Autumn has received attention from Southeastern Conference track and field powerhouses like Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama. This comes as no surprise to Lindeman, who sometimes refers to the athlete as a “specimen.”

excited about. He attributes much of this to her initiative to help her teammates. “She forces other kids to get better,” Lindeman says. “It’s helped our girls’ team. She doesn’t have to say much, it’s just by what she does. We plan on taking a whole bus to state.” And even if a Firebird sprinter makes it to 100 meter final, their assistant coach already knows whom he’ll be cheering for. SM Adidas: Adizero

Mesh ventilation for minimal sweat, reducing slip.

Autumn’s Best Times 60 METER




Starting with an explosive push off with both legs, the front leg extends remaining in contact with the ground.

race and, after meeting with trainers and her parents, decided to still run in the 200 meter despite the pain. “She mentally toughed it out and ran the 200 and was winning up until the last 20 meters where she just couldn’t go any faster because of her quad,” Lindeman says. “That tells me she’s just gotten mentally tougher.” At this same meet, Autumn set the Ohio girls’ high school record for the 60 meter at 7.72 seconds. She has since bettered this with a run of 7.70 seconds. She thinks the same mental toughness that helped her through her injury has allowed her to keep setting new personal records.


Spikes in the toe focus power on acceleration, not braking.


The feet land near the center of gravity, and arms swing opposite to the legs, aiding in balance.

After about 20 meters, forward body lean has decreased and normal sprinting position is reached.

information Autumn Heath,,,

akota West track and field assistant coach Rodney Heath admits he would rather see an athlete from East win than one of his own. But not just any athlete. Only his daughter, East junior Autumn Heath. “Now when I see her run at every track meet, my dad hat is going to be on as much as my coach hat,” says Rodney, who played cornerback for the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons during four seasons in the NFL. “I’m still dad out there and she knows I’m going to be cheering her on regardless.” Rodney and his wife Kimberly, a former sprinter at the University of Minnesota, have had this mindset ever since Autumn first laced up her track spikes in seventh grade for the

story john grasty | photo kenzie walters | infographic jack dombrowski

experience it too,” she says. To help her realize her dream, Autumn trains during the offseason. In a typical workout, Autumn might run a sprint of 50 meters, a sprint of 40 meters and a sprint of 30 meters in a span of eight minutes. She also started lifting weights as a freshman to not only make herself stronger, but also help with injury prevention which is especially important since her mother’s track career was ended prematurely by a stress fracture in her foot while in college. Autumn claims she never really thinks about her own running days ending the same way. “I’ve thought about it before but I’ve never had an injury so far,” says Autumn, who was second in the GMC in 100 meter time last year at 12.29 seconds. “But that makes me want to stay healthy and make sure I don’t do workouts where I pound my feet too much.” In addition to her offseason training, Autumn also competes on a summer team, the Ohio Blaze, coached by her parents. This season ranges from May through July and culminates in the Junior Olympics, which were held at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md. last year. Rodney claims that sometimes the relationship as both coach and parent can be difficult for both of them. “There are some frustrating days because I’m her dad and I’m out there coaching her and she doesn’t necessarily look at me as coach,” Rodney says. “Now since she’s more mature she understands as an athlete she can go far. Some of those things that make her hungry [for success] make her easier for me to coach.” East head track coach John Lindeman has seen firsthand how this maturity has helped Autumn. At a recent indoor meet in Kentucky she “tweaked” her quadriceps during the 60 meter

At normal sprinting position, the head is relaxed, eyes are forward, and the body is almost erect. | Spark | 65

sports | athlete spotlight


LEAD BY EXAMPLE As the lone senior on the East softball team this year, Lea Buckenmyer looks to use her experience as a four year letter-winner to lead the young squad to postseason success.


Ben Call Lakota East Varsity Boys’ Track Runner interview sydney aten | photo kenzie walters Lea Buckenmyer throws a pitch in a game last season.

story keeley aten | photo jeff back


ast senior Lea Buckenmyer seems to have it all. The good grades, the starting pitching position on East’s softball team and the college softball career lined up for the next four years. This success, though, took a hit last May when Buckenmyer and her team, predicted to go far in the state tournament, lost to Fairborn 3-2 in the third round of the postseason. This loss fueled the team’s “hard work, all the time” motto for the 2013 season. “We sat down as a team after that loss and made a list of things to improve on for next season,” says Buckenmyer, who was second in the GMC with 19 wins on the mound last year. “[The coaches] have added a lot of these things to practice so we can get better in areas where

people I know.” According to Maple Leaf head coach Lee Mast, Buckenmyer’s strong academics were just as big of a factor as her softball skills in her recruiting process with Goshen. “She’s a very studious person, very calm and cool,” Mast says. “[We wanted to recruit her for] her academics and demeanor, as well as her skill level in our pitching circle.” But academics are not the only defining factor in Buckenmyer’s life. As a four-year varsity player, Buckenmyer has always given 100 percent effort in practice, and often stays late in order to get extra work in her problem areas. According to Buckenmyer’s father and volunteer coach for the softball team, East math teacher Mike Buckenmyer, this helps

“[We wanted to recruit her for] her academics and demeanor, as well as her skill level in our pitching circle.” -Goshen College softball coach Lee Mast we are weak. They always say that somewhere, someone is working harder.” This adversity has helped mold Buckenmyer into who she is now, and will also allow her to continue her softball career at the next level; she recently signed to play college softball with Division II Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana. Buckenmyer is also known to devote an extreme amount of time to her schoolwork. With a GPA of 4.68, there’s no denying that Buckenmyer is, as East junior third baseman Grace Sprockett says, “one of the smartest

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sports | hawk culture

establish Lea’s place on the team, leading others by the example she sets. “I call her a grinder because she’s always working on something to get better,” Mike says. “This has an effect on the younger players because it shows them what they need to be doing. She never stands around and chitchats. I do help coach, so I see it every day. ” Although Lea is the only senior on his team this year, East head coach Steve Castner isn’t worried about his squad’s leadership. During Lea’s four years on the varsity team, Castner has grown accustomed to Lea’s guidance style.

“She leads by example,” East head coach Steve Castner says. “She’s not a vocal leader, but she shows it on the field.” And when she’s on the field, she isn’t limited to just pitching. In addition to ranking fourth in the GMC with an earned run average of 1.20 last year, she was also first in runs batted in with 43 and third with a batting average of .432. During her freshman and sophomore seasons, she also played outfield and first base. This versatility combined with her skills help identify Lea as the perfect example, according to Sprockett. “She’s just so lovable,” Sprockett says. “I was lucky enough to play varsity my freshman year, so being able to look up to her as a role model [was great]. The fact that she as a varsity athlete can juggle so many AP classes makes me look up to her and think, ‘If I can even be like her [in any way], I know I’m doing something right.’” According to Lea, forming bonds with people like Sprockett has been one of the biggest aspects of softball. “[Softball] is where I’ve made most of my friends,” Lea says. “Without softball, I’d never have met [teammates] Grace [Sprockett] or Brooke [Dendler]. We’re a huge family. That’s what I’ll miss most next year.” Mike, too, knows things will change next year not only with the softball team, but also around the house, when Lea moves into Goshen. “It’s going to be hard not seeing her play every day,” he says. “We as parents have never had to worry about her. She’s always hung out with the right group of people, and it’s a relief to not have to be on our toes 24/7 worrying about what she’s doing. When a person’s been in your life for 18 years, that’s going to be an adjustment to fill.” SM

Sydney Aten: Why are you running track, and how exactly is it different than cross country? Ben Call: I’m doing track because I love running and it’s always something I’ve enjoyed doing. It is very similar [to cross country], the main difference is the mileage. In track the longest race is the two mile, whereas in cross country it’s a 3.1 mile or five kilometer, so training for track involves much shorter speed training. SA: What goals do you have for this track and field season? BC: My number one goal is to obviously make it to the state track meet. I also want to improve

my times. I want to run a sub-4:30 minute mile and a sub-9:45 minute two mile this season. SA: What is the best thing about track? BC: The best thing about track is definitely the atmosphere of the meets and seeing your teammates succeed in their individual areas. SA: Is East track and cross country coach Adam Thomas different with each sport? BC: Coach is pretty much the same, whether it’s cross country or track. SA: What do you do to get in the

zone before a race? BC: I listen to music for most of the time before my warm up, then once I stretch and do my drills, I don’t talk much and just focus.

would be either a six mile run or a speed workout on the track. SA: What events are there? BC: For distance runners like myself, there’s the 3200 meter or two mile, the 1600 meter or one mile, the 800 meter or half mile and occasionally the shorter distance runners run the 400 meter or quarter mile.

SA: What’s the hardest thing about track? BC: The hardest thing during track is remembering which lap you’re on in the mile or two mile, because in cross country it’s all measured out ahead of time.

SA: What is your biggest accomplishment in your running career? BC: Breaking the 16 minute barrier in a 5K when I ran a 15:58 with a stress fracture in my left foot. SM

SA: What is a typical practice like? BC: A typical practice is a warmup, then stretching, then if it’s a speed workout we do drills, but then we do our primary run which

HAWK CULTURE A look into the lives of East athletes and coaches infographic john grasty

Brooke Dendler SOFTBALL

Grant Smith BOYS’ TRACK

Austin O’Harold BASEBALL



Greg Mahlerwein BOYS’ TENNIS COACH

Prom will be...?







Celebrity crush?







AMC’s Walking Dead is...?







Where did you go for spring break?













Where do you work? | Spark | 67

sports | team feature

The boys’ lacrosse team huddles around Pottebaum (hat backwards) in their scrimmage against Bishop-Watterson.


lacrosse players get and is trying to change that.” Pottebaum’s previous college coaching experience at the University of Dayton for five seasons has translated into his approach at the high school level. Each practice is planned to the minute and for the first time, the boys are not allowed to travel over spring break because of games and practices. The team has been forced to practice from 8 to 10 p.m. on weekdays because they are in competition with the other spring sports for the turf. Despite the late practices and sometimes inclement weather, Pottebaum hasn’t cancelled once, even when the other sports did. Another aspect Pottebaum is trying to reform is the youth organization of second through eighth graders in Lakota Lacrosse. “I’ve been attempting to make the organization more uniform and, to teach the younger kids an offensive and defensive philosophy,” he says. “You’ve got to start young.” Pottebaum has been around the game since 1997 and knows that building a strong lacrosse youth foundation is an imperative step to success. To do so, he moved a former junior varsity coach, Justin Multhauf, down to the junior high levels to help develop players. Pottebaum also rid the coaching staff of almost all parents. Pottebaum believes that

Head coach Gary Pottebaum’s new style has revolutionized the boys’ lacrosse program. As he embarks on his second season, he has hopes for the most successful season in team history.

Pottebaum crouches on the sideline while watching the scrimmage.

Senior Austin Orner passes in a scrimmage against Bishop Fenwick High School.

having parents as coaches takes away from the intensity and focus of the players. Buczek agrees, even though his father Jim Buczek is the lone parent who continued coaching because according to Pottebaum, he’s “been around the game longer than I have been alive.” “Before Coach Pottebaum, it was just a bunch of parent volunteers trying to coach,” John says. “I don’t think the players took anything seriously because it was just parents.” The players on the East junior varsity and varsity teams this year are also very young, with a majority being sophomores and freshmen. The age of his players, however, is not a factor in determining playing time. “If the kid is talented enough, I’ll throw

him in the fire,” Pottebaum says. “More often than not, these boys will rise to the occasion. This young group is very much leaders.” Tassos has coached this group with both Pottebaum and the previous coach, Matt McDonnell. While McDonnell provided the basis for the new program in its infancy, Tassos believes that Pottebaum will be the one to create a legacy for East lacrosse. “Since he came in with a set plan, things have run smoother,” Tassos says. “In the coming years, East will not be a team that other schools look at as an easy win, we will complete with the best teams in the city and the state. Pottebaum is the next step to allow us to make a name for ourselves.” SM




story emily haynes | photos nick kanaly and erin starrett | infographic cameron drake

68 | Spark | April 9, 2013

a huge difference for junior John Buczek after his four years of playing lacrosse for Lakota. “[Pottebaum] introduces a whole new level of seriousness that East lacrosse has never seen before,” says Buczek, who was voted as one of the captains this year by his teammates. “If you aren’t serious about lacrosse, [Pottebaum] won’t put up with it.” Since Pottebaum was hired, varsity assistant

“[Pottebaum] introduces a whole new level of seriousness that East lacrosse has never seen.” —East junior John Buczek

coach Matt Tassos has seen a very noticeable difference in the culture of the team both on and off the field. Tassos has been coaching in the program for the past four years after playing and graduating from East in 2008. “Before [Pottebaum] became head coach, the lacrosse players were known as troublemakers by the students and faculty at East,” Tassos says. “We have been making great strides to change this.” During the offseason, Pottebaum brought the team to Adrenaline Sports and Fitness twice a week for 15 weeks to be trained. While it was not mandatory for the players, he knew that the ones who showed up “want to do better and want to win.” East senior captain Tyler Ebersole, who has played lacrosse for the past seven years in Lakota, was a constant presence at the offseason training and has noticed the magnitude of the changes Pottebaum has made in his short time as head coach. “He’s completely changed the program,” Ebersole says. “He noticed the lack of respect


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he East boys’ lacrosse team is used to losing. After the Lakota Lacrosse team split into East and West in 2007, the team has had an overall record of 7-59. Two-year head coach Gary Pottebaum is ready to change this. “We are definitely going to be more successful this year,” Pottebaum says. “I spent last year trying to instill a culture in the high school guys and now I’m starting to work on the youth organization.” Part of this new culture is reforming the “lax-bro” mentality of the previous players. Pottebaum describes a “lax-bro” as a person who is relaxed and laid-back about the sport and plays it for leisure. According to Pottebaum, this attitude has helped fuel the overall lack of respect for lacrosse players. “If you don’t have your [practice jersey] and shorts, you’re not practicing,” he says. “If one bag is out of place in the straight line on the sidelines, the whole team is running. I have consequences for everything.” And it’s the little things like that which make

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FACE OFF Jumping | Spark | 69

opinion | column

opinion | column







y sister and I had always been close, ever since the year when I was three and she was eight, and we were both dressed in fuzzy heart-covered Valentine’s Day bathrobes. She was the quintessential older sister: smart, athletic, vocally talented. The blondhaired, blue-eyed American sweetheart. At 10, she was winning the all-around in every gymnastics competition. At 14, she was Rusty, belting out “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” in Liberty Junior’s production of “Footloose.” At 18, she was being recognized for her uncanny ability in physics. When she wasn’t busy garnering massive amounts of friends through Youth in Philanthropy, the dance team, the swim team, and Great Miami Rowing, she was busy being my older sister. We spent weekends taking videos of ourselves singing along to “As Long as You Love Me,” the classic, smooth Backstreet Boys tune. We drove to UDF to get milkshakes (usually regular, but lately she had switched to low fat) on the spur of the moment. We drew chalk pictures on the sides of the brick deck, took the dogs for a walk at the park up the road, blared the Beatles and Secondhand Serenade from the radio of the beat up 2006 Honda Civic nicknamed Kenny Loggins.


t wasn’t all fun, all the time. The Beatles entered our rotation of scratched CDs when our parents announced their surprise divorce. My sister was a senior and I was an angsty middle schooler; we sought comfort in the hippy trip that is “All You Need is Love.” At least, in the face of this unexpected challenge, we had each other. Or more correctly, I had her. In the weeks following this event, my sister took me everywhere because I couldn’t even look my mom in the eye. She put up with my angry and frustrated outbursts. She assured me everything would be fine. I don’t know if I ever considered, in my seventh grade world, that maybe my sister needed me as much as I needed her. At least not until the summer before ninth grade. My sister had moved home for the summer between her freshman and sophomore year of college. I had been at soccer conditioning

70 | Spark | April 9, 2013

all morning, and I had returned home half an hour early. She probably thought she was all alone. My foot was on the stair to go up to my room when I heard it. Retching, coughing, the unmistakable sound of puking, a sound that everyone knows. I froze on the steps, almost at the point of applying enough pressure to force the stair to squeak. A hot feeling spread through my limbs, then a dropping sensation, as though I’d fallen straight through the wooden floor boards into the basement. Still poised on the bottom step, I waited to hear the splashing of the faucet and the almost indiscernible sliding of the lock. She appeared around the door.

24 MILLION AMERICANS ARE HAUNTED BY BULIMIA; STANDING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS, I WAS A MERE 17 STEPS AWAY FROM ONE OF THEM. “Are you sick?” I asked, trying to mask my shaking voice. She paused, the smallest pause. If I hadn’t heard what I had just heard, I wouldn’t have caught it. “Yeah. I ate a sandwich and then drank apple juice, and it just didn’t agree, you know?” I didn’t know. This was coming from the girl who once ate four whole lemons just to prove she could without puking. “Oh, okay,” I said. She walked down the hallway into her bedroom, the cheap, plastic bead necklaces rattling against her door. According to the National Association of

Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 24 million Americans are haunted by bulimia; standing at the bottom of the stairs, I was a mere 17 steps away from one of them.


n my chest, my heart rattled. I wasn’t sure how to handle this. My sister had taken care of me through a divorce, through the absence of my older brother, through the loss of all of my grandparents before I was ten. She hadn’t cried on any of these occasions, not even when our kitten died. Now I needed to take care of her, as she poured some deeply buried emotions into an open toilet bowl. Here was my chance to be the big sister. I had been telling her that when I was taller, when I had outgrown her physically, then I would be the “real big sister.” I’d reached that point by two entire inches, but I knew who the real big sister was. She was alone in her room, probably panicking as much as I was. And I knew who needed the big sister the most now. She was alone in her bedroom, and she needed me. SM




In a regular household, a roll of toilet paper lasts about five days. About six rolls are needed each month, 73 rolls of toilet paper per year. Charmin, a well known toilet paper company, donated 5,000 rolls of toilet paper to Reach Out Lakota. This one donation alone is able to supply 68 families under the care of Reach Out Lakota with toilet paper for one year on top 5,500 rolls Reach Out Lakota supplies families with each year.

CONTINUE ONLINE Read the rest of Wingchung Chow’s column at



inh mung Maria day on phuc. Duc Chua Troi o cung Ba. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” Melodic chanting saturates every corner of the small home. Mismatched chairs arranged in makeshift rows seat a congregation gathered in my great aunt’s memory. Ba co phuc la hon moi ngoi nu, va Giesu, Con long Ba, gom phuc la. “Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.” The same prayer resounds time and time again, yet it fails to register in my mind. The religious Vietnamese rhetoric is as good as gibberish to my 14-year-old ears. But today, it doesn’t seem to matter that I can’t understand the language because mourning is universal. Coming from all reaches of my grandparents’ social circle, guests arrive in a steady stream. In a brief span of time, a variety of faces fills the house to the brim. The small children, the elders and the parents manage to dissipate into distinct groups. Guests more or less stick to their own families, and the scene revives images of my own school cafeteria, with its straitlaced status quo of seats and tables. Then there is us, teenagers lost in the abyss between our youth and adulthood at the awkward age of 14. Tommy, a boy around my age, hovers in the same fashion as I do, uneasily somewhere between his parents and the raucous kids. Many new faces greet me warmly, but it’s weird that I have never seen them before. Evidently, many people have been affected by her death, but I feel odd among strangers who are here for the same reason I am. Other than their affiliation with my grandparents, the guests are unfamiliar with one another, yet a friendly buzz prevails. Everyone is united in their purpose for attending. I am told that my great aunt was a magnet when it came to being around others, but I can’t claim that I had known such a personality. That could’ve been fixed with one visit. They say she had a beautiful voice, but I can’t seem to recall such a tone. That could’ve been fixed with a phone call. I perceive the Bible reading by my father

as a send-off, although for some peculiar reason, I don’t know the cause for her departure and to this day, I still don’t know. The elders, who just minutes ago were quietly greeting one another, now again lead the incantations in perfect sync. With their babies hushed, the parents join together to follow their lead. The children, who had managed to cause a ruckus on every level of the house a few moments ago, sit obediently next to their scrutinizing parents. As I look around, even Tommy and I, buoying in our outlander status, are now just two heads in the assembled mass. Neither fathers nor mothers, sons nor daughters, friends nor family are distinguishable as clasped hands and bowed faces chant as one and the same. Thanh Maria Duc Me Chua Troi, cau cho chung con, la ke co toi Khi nay va trong gio lam tu. Amen. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” I had never met the man to my left, yet we are sharing a hymn book. I had never spoken to the child on my right, yet we are holding hands in prayer. We had never known each other, yet we are here for her. Death has power. It forces a congregation of strangers to come together as one, in funeral homes and at memorial services. We could’ve easily been found somewhere else, celebrating my great aunt’s life while she still had it. We took her for granted while she was alive. We are celebrating my great aunt now, but we’re one step behind. Now I sit here in this gathering in the midst of dozens of adults who had known her and I become further alienated. “She cooked a mean bowl of noodles.” I had never tasted them. I shouldn’t be here. “Her jokes always had me in stitches.” I had never heard them. I shouldn’t be here. “She had the loveliest smile.” I had never seen it. I shouldn’t be here. The past flashes before my eyes: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, spring break, the summer, a few weeks ago-any time before the news hit. I shouldn’t be here now, because I wasn’t there back then. SM


FROM THE EDITORIAL BOARD Each issue, the editorial board of Spark assigns grades to three topics in the school or community that have touched East in the previous month.

THE NEW KROGER There is already two Krogers, one Walmart, one Meijer and two Targets within five miles of where the new Kroger is planned to be built. The farm land that currently takes up the space is a rare commodity in the Lakota district becacuse of the immense amount of construction in VOA and other parts of the district. The land should be kept as is rather than building another grocery store.


SCIENCE CREDITS Allowing students to get credit for advanced sciences while in junior high is an effective way to start getting graduation credits early on. With only six periods it has become more difficult to earn all of the high school credits, but this will ease up some of the stress. The only complaint is that this should have been put into place earlier on to give the current high schoolers the chance to earn credit.


CINCINNATI CASINO There’s no doubt that the casino is a large source of revenue for the city of Cincinnati. It is also a negligible source of revenue for the district of Lakota. It will also create more jobs in the city. Outsiders may come to the city to visit the casino causing an increase in economic activity. But will the casino attract the negative behaviors that Cincincinnati is trying to rid itself of ?

B | Spark | 71

opinion | head to head

opinion | head to head

REFORMING Obama’s new immigration reform proposal outlines specific points,



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he American Dream. solution is to grant citizenship A dream of prosperity. A dream of financial to illegal immigrants already stability. A dream of a better life. situated in the country. But the Although Americans take much pride in the reform bill doesn’t propose American Dream, it has been greatly revered by that these immigrants will people of various ethnicities from all over the automatically gain citizenship. world. The beacon of hope it offers may be the Several tests will be taken, such as national security reason why after 651 miles of fencing and $219.1 and background checks to root out criminals. Illegal billion spent on border control in the last 26 years immigrants will also have to pay taxes and fines, as according to the Migration Policy Institute, 11.2 well as a few other necessities. If they meet these million illegal immigrants still remain in the country. requirements, there will not be denied citizenship. By no means is this money being put to good Although the majority of illegal immigrants use. With the U.S. still over $16 trillion in debt, this cross in hope of enjoying the freedoms and quality process is adding money to a cause that will not of life promised in the U.S., still some criminals result in any quick solution. The U.S. must defer cross for other countless reasons. The U.S. must from the idea of putting more money and troops still put some attention towards spotting these to strictly increase border control, and instead bring criminals out, but at the same time focus more its attention towards a different idea: how exactly to towards creating organizations and other methods deal with those already here. of dealing with them. It is quite obvious that miles President Obama has proposed a plan for reform and miles of fencing are not going to solve this that consists of four points which could potentially problem, as it hasn’t in the past. cut down on illegal immigration. These include What sets these “aliens” apart from average increasing border control, scouting out companies American folk is their immense determination to that hire illegal immigrants and generating a plan achieve what they have set out to do. With a 44.2 for illegal immigrants to earn percent poverty rate in Mexico citizenship. according to a 2009 report DEPORTING Regarding his proposal, done by CONEVAL, there’s OVER 11 MILLION no doubt that coming here Obama states, “We’re going to bring these folks out of the may result in a better life. That PEOPLE OUT IS shadows. We’re going to make why they are willing to leave BY NO MEANS A istheir them pay a fine, they are going home. That is why they POSSIBILITY. to have to learn English, they depart from all that they have are going to have to go to the known, ranging from their back of the line. . . but they will have a pathway to culture to their language. That is why they will swim citizenship over the course of 10 years.” across the Rio Grande or run miles and climb over And these immigrants should not be forced out fencing to enter a country they have no affiliation of the country. They do contribute to the economy, with or true knowledge of. by taking part in the jobs that we Americans consider The government must branch out and focus “low-skilled.” These occupations include cleaning more on working with these immigrants. After all, services, restaurants and low-pay industrial jobs. the country was founded by immigrants to be a Some Americans may feel they are “overqualified” tolerant state. Instead of focusing solely on trying for these types of services, and if these immigrants to spot them out, they should assist them, as these want to take them, then they should be able to. immigrants constitute to our economy just as much America has continually opened its arms to people any one American does. of all ethnicities in the world. Moreover, our Current fencing covers almost a third of the country was founded by people who departed from actual 1,951 mile border between the U.S. and their home countries in search of a better place. Mexico. The reform bill plans on adding 350 miles With people coming to the country for the sole of fencing, but we cannot rely on border control basis of working, the only viable solution to this to “save” us from illegal immigrants. They will find problem is to make the necessary documentation some way, like the 11.2 million who already have. for citizenship easier to gain to reduce the amount No matter what the government does, it won’t of immigrants labeled “illegal” in the U.S. be able to suppress this ardent willpower. The viable This will occur when the third point of Obama’s solution would be to work with them, as outlined in plan, that of earning citizenship, will be much more various parts of the President’s reform proposal. stressed. Deporting over 11 million people out of Because the hope of obtaining a better life is the country is by no means a possibility. A simple just something that can’t be set aside. SM


but what is the most viable way to deal with illegal immigrants?


bout 10 years ago, the U.S.-Mexico border skilled work and consequently, lower incomes) is was just the Rio Grande. Maybe a thin the single largest cost to taxpayers, with a cost of barrier to keep out the rising tide in some $52 billion, and is mostly absorbed by state and parts, but mostly just the riverbank. local governments. Easy to navigate. Easy to identify. Easy to cross. Those who are already in the country should In 2006, President George W. Bush signed a bill make the utmost effort to gain their permanent into law that authorized the construction of 700 visas, and after the five-year waiting period, apply miles of fence along the border. for U.S. citizenship, because it’s not logistically Now, that fence stretches 651 miles to date. possible to deport all those who have illegally Border Patrol officers have doubled since President entered the country. The U.S., however, should Obama came into office. Brightly-colored signs still tighten border security so that we don’t face dot barbed wire sections warning of arrest and the problem of deporting and sending home those legal prosecution for violating US Immigration and who fled their country for ours. Customs Laws. It’s not to say that we should stop immigration Now, it’s not so easy, and should stay that way. completely. We shouldn’t. Our nation was built by The Obama Administration has compiled a immigrants; men and women who sought after the package of potential legislation for immigration American Dream to achieve their own economic reform. It includes anything from strengthening prosperity in the land of opportunity. People of border security and cracking down on criminal all sorts of ethnicities came to America, from the networks to allowing illegal immigrants already in Chinese sailing across the Pacific to the Europeans the country to obtain citizenship and ensuring that bombarding Ellis Island. People who want to there are increased penalties for employers who hire achieve their American Dream should still be able undocumented immigrants. to come to the U.S. But the aspect that the Obama administration But they should only be allowed to do so if should focus on is border they’re going to follow the security and strengthening Yes, the process is THE U.S. SHOULD rules. law enforcement, because in arduous, but the consequences STOP THE LEAK won’t be as severe. doing so, the U.S. can then effectively help streamline Our nation logistically OF ILLEGAL who is coming in and help cannot handle the influx IMMIGRATION AT of illegal immigrants. It’s those who are already in the country to gain citizenship as not helping America and its ITS SOURCE. per se to the other proposals. citizens that they are coming The U.S. should stop the leak of illegal immigration and avoiding the process of naturalization. With at its source, the border, rather than trying to more than $100 billion lost every year to help those control the flood from the inside out with its other who do not go through and obtain the proper proposals of permitting temporary visas and other paperwork, we must consider border security. documentation. It is not fair to those Americans who are Because if we don’t limit the amount of illegal unemployed that these illegal immigrants are immigration into the country, the U.S. will fall prey allowed into the country and can find jobs. It is not to having to pay for benefits and other amenities fair to businesses who are following the rules but (including healthcare) for undocumented aliens, are struggling to find people to hire while other costing the U.S. to lose valuable taxpayer dollars. businesses are gaming the system and allowing In 2011, there were an estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants to work. It is not fair illegal immigrants in the U.S. Yet, those same 11.2 to the hardworking American citizens who dutifully million (over half are from Mexico and other pay taxes, only to have a significant portion support Latin American countries) cost the U.S. over $113 those who do not deserve to be on American soil. billion, paid for mostly by taxpayers, according to If 30 million other immigrants who have a study conducted by the Federation for American made their way to the country need to apply for Immigration Reform (FAIR). naturalization or obtain a green card, then the 11.2 Most of the financial burden ends up falling million who gamed the system should have done on the state and local governments, with many so as well. And the U.S. border should be secure already in deficits due to the economic downturn. enough to not let anybody else enter American soil According to the same FAIR study, educating the without properly seeing Immigration Patrol. children of illegal immigrants (many of whom do Because one fixes a leak from the source, not by not pay the full amount of taxes due to their low- desperately trying to control the flood. SM

EMILY CHAO | Spark | 73

opinion | column

opinion | column







t’s one massive and drawn-out shouting match between the opposing sides of the gym. One’s shouting “We want Ellen,” the other, “We want Boehner,” but they come together to give VanGorden Elementary sixth-grader Amelia Murphy a standing ovation after she delivers her speech. East’s students, teachers and administration come together passionately at the Feb. 8 pep assembly to support the short, peppy girl with curly brown hair who doesn’t hesitate when she admits that she’s had 61 surgeries by the age of 11. But that was then. Today, a large portion of the student body has lost interest in the cause of the NHS project, “East Dub,” a world-recordbreaking lip dub aimed to raise money for the Cincinnati Children’s Center for Spina Bifida. It’s apparent now that when the crowd shouted “We Want Ellen,” they didn’t mean in a few months, or six weeks or even three. They wanted her then and there. And as time went on, people got discouraged from a lack of response from Ellen Degeneres and no longer saw a reason to be actively involved.

would be a “one time thing” the student body has gone from full-fledged support to permissible. There’s still support, but it’s nowhere near what it was when the notion of getting DeGeneres involved and that was seen during the week of March 11-15 when NHS held a t-shirt fundraiser during lunch. All week the organization sold $10 lip dub shirts at lunch with half the proceeds going to the center for Spina Bifida. But out of over 2,000 students in the building NHS only sold 260. That being said, $1,300 is still a great achievement for NHS but had the



he phenomena started on Jan. 30 when NHS premiered “Lip Dub Promo” on YouTube. The initial result was optimistic. But the student body’s excitement didn’t really take off until after the pep assembly on Friday, Feb. 8 when the group released that it wanted TV personality Degeneres to come to East and support its cause. Through the weekend people took to their Twitter accounts, tweeting “#WeWantEllen” to such a great extent that on Sunday, Feb. 10 the hashtag topped the Grammys in Cincinnati trends. And through persistence, the students of East have gained attention from Cincinnati Reds Pitcher Bronson Arroyo, University of Cincinnati president Santa J. Ono and other recognizable names. East was on track to set precedents. It seemed like for once, every student in the school only had one thing on their mind—a good cause. But now, over a month later, things have changed. Even though NHS knew that the support “#WeWantEllen” would garner

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there’s no reason the students should be any less passionate about the lip dub than they were when Murphy was applaused.


he lip dub filming is still about a week away, and on April 18, NHS will hopefully raise its goal of $5,000, and that’s a reason to be proud. But it’s become apparent through recent events that East’s student body isn’t one to take part in a fundraiser that doesn’t promise some sort of attention or incentive. When people see the instant gratification of getting a national celebrity’s attention, they flock to the cause, but when that incentive starts to become more and more unlikely people abandon it. We need an incentive to be good people, and if that’s what it takes to help someone or find a cure, then that’s sad. Fundraisers shouldn’t have to institute incentives to gain support; the incentive should be that we get to change someone’s life or make the world a better place. At the least, they show we care. Yet a large portion of the student body at East doesn’t feel the same way and it’s evident that the only way East students will get involved is if they can get their personal spotlight and 15 minutes of fame. SM



student body remained as ardent about the cause as in the beginning, that number could have been much higher. The majority of the fundraiser’s supporters were only interested in the idea of being on television or getting national recognition; raising awareness for Spina Bifida patients was only a secondary concern.


eople have lost sight of the original cause—to help others. Now it’s become about the number of hits the promotional videos can get and which famous celebrity will feature us on their show. It’s become about the recognition and fame for the student body and administration and less about portraying a positive image. And if East can still claim to be doing the latter,

I’m just about the whitest Indian there is. I couldn’t name three of the Gods praised in the Hindu religion, and I couldn’t tell you what any of the holidays are about. If someone has ever asked me a question regarding Indian culture, chances are I googled it just so I would not come off as blatantly ignorant. I might as well classify myself as a tan white person. And unlike the majority Indians...

CONTINUE ONLINE Read the rest of Raika Casey’s column at



n June 4, 2012, feminist blogger Anita Sarkeesian uploaded a YouTube video on her channel, FeministFrequency, to promote her Kickstarter page. Money donated to her project went toward funding a potential video series called “Tropes vs. Women,” in which she looked at misogynistic and anti-feminist stereotypes in video games. She soon became the object of the worst kind of hate on the internet: male gamer hate. The video was soon bombarded with misogynistic, anti-Semitic and racist comments, and after two weeks, she stopped allowing comments on the video altogether. Her Kickstarter, meanwhile, raised $158,922 with nearly 7,000 backers, seeing well beyond its goal of $6,000, a goal which she raised on June 16, 2012. She originally promised five videos in total, ranging from topics including “The Sexy Sidekick” to “The Fighting F#@k Toy,” and after the immense success of her Kickstarter, expanded “Tropes vs. Women” to be a 13-part series, bundled with a free classroom curriculum. Not much was heard from Sarkeesian for the following several weeks, and it wasn’t until March 7, 2013 that she released her first segment, a 23-minute video about the “Damsel in Distress” trope. Comments were disabled outright for the video. The video takes a very negative view at many classical games and their developers, including multiple criticisms against legendary Japanese game designer Shigeru Miyamoto for making decisions like turning the game Dinosaur Planet (which originally starred a female protagonist, Krystal) into Star Fox Adventures (which kept Krystal, but turned her into a helpless, trapped character who had to be rescued by a male lead). “The tale of how Krystal went from protagonist of her own epic adventure to the passive victim in someone else’s game illustrates how the ‘damsel in distress’ trope disempowers female characters and robs them of their chance to be heroes in their own right,” Sarkeesian says. This video basically sums up Sarkeesians job: she watches and plays television shows, movies and video games and scrutinizes them, looking for anti-feminist or misogynistic

views. And that’s fine. Society often needs someone to look more closely into popular culture and entertainment to point out the more harmful parts of certain mediums. She doesn’t evaluate popular media for being sexist—she evaluates it for being misogynistic. And while Hollywood isn’t justified in exploiting female stereotypes by doing the same for men, it has to be kept in mind that both men and women are exaggerated in popular culture. And that’s what they are: exaggerations. Distinctive characteristics of different kinds

STEREOTYPES ARE SO INGRAINED THAT IT WOULD BE CLOSE TO IMPOSSIBLE TO REMOVE THEM. of people are played up or even skewed, because that’s just what Hollywood does. What Sarkeesian doesn’t realize is that these stereotypes are so ingrained into entertainment that it would be close to impossible to remove them. They’re a part of the culture of entertainment. People do not turn to realistic representations of themselves for escapism, or else every video game would star Michael Cera as he enters a competition to be as uninteresting as possible, a competition in which he places near the middle of the pack. It helps no one and accomplishes nothing when people like Sarkeesian simply point out things in the media and tell others that they should be offended by what they’re seeing. What it does instead is help create a culture of people who dynamically oppose feminists not because of anything they say substantively, but because they feel they need to defend the subject matter, and in doing

so shut out what may be legitimate concerns. Even some women are almost shamed out of wanting to be associated with “feminists,” who, as Sarkeesian points out in her video about “straw feminists,” are portrayed in popular media as being nothing more than women who feel paranoid about a nonexistent patriarchy and resort to violence and bigotry to fight an exaggerated enemy. In June 2001 Gallup poll, only 25 percent of women identified themselves as feminists, compared to 20 percent of men. The irony is that, although Sarkeesian points out that “feminist” should mean “a person who believes that men and women should be equal,” she plays up the same problems that a) don’t exist for the purpose of putting down women and b) reinforces the stigma toward feminists that she already recognizes and tries to dispel. Almost all aspects of most characters in video games, from Marcus Fenix’s cinderblock-abs in Gears of War to any woman’s beach-ball boobs in any Dead or Alive ever, are due to someone wanting to fulfill the role of a primal alien bug-sniper or an invincible intergalactic space marine or a girl who is looking at some serious chronic back problems in her later years. If there are people who want to assume those roles, regardless of what Sarkeesian wants, these video games, movies and television shows will continue to be made. Instead of putting so much effort into telling people why we should be offended by something, it is more important and effective for us to remind people that it is fine to enjoy media but to keep in mind that it is not, nor is it meant to be, an accurate representation of what real life is or should be like. We should remind children to emulate real people, strong women like Jennifer Lawrence and Anna Kendick. Ragging on the patriarchy and unreasonable expectations of a business that claims to be neither fair nor reasonable is at best a misdirection of efforts and at worst an immediate turn-off for people who believe that women are equal to men (which, frankly, should be everyone). Besides, we can’t all be walking around with back problems. SM | Spark | 75

opinion | east speaks out

opinion | column

editorial cartoon nugeen aftab






t’s been a weird month for me. I had some kind of flu a few weeks back and missed four days of school. Moreover, the morning my father took me to the doctor’s office, we were listening to the Howard Stern show, and Howard had fellow shock jock Alex Jones on as a guest. If you’re not conscious of Alex Jones as a public figure, first of all, lucky you. Second of all, imagine a conspiracy theory that only finds credence among 13-year-olds. Now, imagine the guy who produced the YouTube clip that convinced those 13-year-olds that the U.S. is run by the New World Order. Is the guy pudgy and menacing? That’s Alex Jones. On this notably frigid Tuesday morning, Mr. Jones was rattling on about the tyranny of government when he came to a story about former Obama White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who, Jones said, admitted to denying the existence of the well-documented drone program on the order of senior White House officials. This was startling, mostly because it’s verifiable. The drone program is a military initiative that utilizes Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, predator drones, to carry out attacks or assassinations, known as “targeted killings,” mostly in countries like Yemen or Pakistan. Without going into great detail about it, questions regarding jurisdiction and, more importantly, ethics arise that our government has yet to answer. And on that point, Alex Jones was right in the most unequivocal sense of the word. In the midst of Jones’ verbal diarrhea, the kind of urine-flavored alphabet soup that tends to spell out “nutjob” repeatedly, he managed to hit on a point that led me to question my own perception of reality. Barack Obama is not a perfect president, but he’s a liberal who cares about human beings, even the gay ones. The drone program, however, is a confounding moral blunder. Sending robots around the globe to kill America’s enemies, for one, deprives said enemies of a basic human right, the right to defend oneself against criminal accusations. In many instances, those “targeted” by

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drones were surely guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. Few would deny the guilt of Anwar al-Awlaki, the so-called “bin Laden of the internet” and the first U.S. citizen to be killed by predator drones. But he deserved his day in court like anyone else. Moreover, human soldiers occasionally make mistakes on the battlefield, resulting in an innocent civilian being killed or possibly even friendly fire. If drones were ever to malfunction in such a way, there would be no way of holding one single person

AT LEAST OUR SOLDIERS HAVE TO LOOK THEM IN THE FACE BEFORE THEY PULL THE TRIGGER. responsible for a machine’s mistake. Maybe this is nothing more than our government hiding behind the tepid protection the word “unmanned” affords it. The death penalty is abhorrent, and war nothing more than a series of glorified death sentences, but if we’re going to march our boys into a foreign country to shoot down our neighbors’ sons, brothers, fathers, at least our soldiers have to look them in the face before they pull the trigger. Predator drones have no such conscience. How do we survive when we start killing without conscience? It is an indignity that we would not pay our enemies that respect, the chance that every man should have to look his executioner in the eye, even the men on our “kill list.” It’s hard to reconcile my own ideology with the knowledge that, on an issue of incredible moral consequence, I find more common ground with a man whose basic views confound me than my own president, the supposed vanguard of modern liberalism.

That’s not to say I refuse to agree with Republicans, I simply find that I never do. Imagine my outrage when I find myself on Alex Jones’ side, and I find myself ashamed of the man who is supposed to fight for the things I believe in. As if that weren’t enough to incite a philosophical crisis, on March 6, Senator Rand Paul took to the Senate floor to begin a filibuster that would last 13 hours, in protest of the Obama administration’s use of predator drones. He specifically highlighted the possibility that the use of drones for “targeted killings” would spread to the U.S. itself. While the possibility is unlikely, the Federal Aviation Administration stated recently that within the next five years, 7,500 drones will be active in the U.S., including ones operated by various police forces and law enforcement agencies. And if it doesn’t seem like domestic law enforcement would have a use for drones, don’t forget about ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. Dorner’s alleged crimes led to a manhunt that spanned two states and Mexico, leaving destruction in its wake, including a house fire that may have been started by the LAPD in order to smoke him out of the mountain home he had been hiding in. Certainly sounds like a situation that could have been resolved faster with an unmanned combat vehicle. When we toss morality aside, all that’s left is convenience, and there’s nothing more convenient than having someone (or something) else do your dirty work for you. It’s likely that Rand Paul was only using the filibuster to sustain his rapidly waning 15 minutes of fame, but he makes a point about the legality and the ethicality of the kind of can of worms our government may have opened. It will probably be some time before SWAT teams are replaced by robots, but giving anything other than a human authority in law enforcement is a scary precedent to set, and more importantly it leaves little opportunity for the judicial process to run its course. “Extrajudicial” is a word we need to work very hard to keep out of our vocabulary. SM

HITLIST: nd Ra Paul Joe. L. Barton Edward J. Marley THE AMERICAN PEOPLE



DO IMMIGRANTS LIVING IN THE U.S. HAVE A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE IMPACT ON THE PEOPLE? Both, honestly. I know a lot of Chinese people who are really smart. They’ve been really advancing our science technologies, but we’re losing a lot of jobs. -East senior Scott Johnson

I think they’re taking a lot of jobs and healthcare and getting money from the government. -East junior Ashley Jencen

With new people comes new culture. I wouldn’t say it’s a negative thing, but I wouldn’t say it’s a positive thing either. -East sophomore Ennis Padilla

I think it’s positive because there’s more of an influence and it’s good to have a variety of people. -East freshman Emily Harris


percent of students out of 312 surveyed that have had or known someone with an eating disorder


number of students out of 306 surveyed that have tried an illegal drug


percent out of 309 surveyed that believe immigrants have a negative effect on the economy


percent of 293 surveyed that believe drones should not be sent to other countires | Spark | 77

opinion | the final word



I’ve sat down to write this column every night for the past five days. I open Word on my laptop and type the words “Chief Column” into the save as. Solid progress. As a reward, or maybe just out of frequent habit, I then open Google Chrome and check all my notifications as if they’ve changed from before I started my draft. I look through my emails to see if any colleges have sent any exciting news only to find a few emails from Hollister and Victoria’s Secret. Then I go to HAC. I click on transcript, because I haven’t looked at that enough in the past four years. And I proceed to evaluate every inch of my high school career, and how it could have been so much different—“if.” Facebook is next. After I click the “Country” genre on my Pandora, I go back to Facebook and begin chatting with multiple people. Mostly fellow Sparkies. I beg for ideas about what to write in my column as they worry about their own stories. After only a few seconds, our talks are filled with pleas for summer and college and even considerations of just driving to Florida now and skipping the rest of senior year. I ponder these wonderful thoughts for a few moments and then realize 20 minutes have gone by and the word count on my chief column is still the same as before I began my social media endeavors. Back to work. As I stare at the blank document for several moments, nothing comes to mind. Then I simply begin brainstorming anything interesting that I did in the past weekend. Planned my exotic trip to the University of Nebraska for spring break—don’t get too excited by the endless corn fields; I also signed up for my even-more-glamorous trip to Kent State with all the Sparkies. Made chocolate chip pancakes with friends on the Friday of OGT week, then suddenly felt “too sick” to go to school. Watched the last Twilight movie and tried not to laugh too hard when Bella attacked the tiger. Read the entire Silver Linings Playbook novel. Played basketball.

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Watched Lord of the Rings re-runs on T.V. I did just about everything that weekend. Everything except my homework. I then came to a scary conclusion. A conclusion that many people have been dealing with since the beginning of the year and some even since the beginning of high school itself. I have senioritis. I thought by involving myself in as much as possible that I would be immune. I wouldn’t fall into the same trap as the three-period flex schedule seniors who I now envy on a daily basis. Each time I accomplished something—like completing a college application, applying for a scholarship or finishing another issue—senioritis would eat away at my ability to stay focused as social media and television became so much more enticing. Hanging out with graduated college students probably hasn’t helped my situation. Whenever they come home they rave about their relatively easy class schedule, their overabundant free time to do anything that suits their liking and then thank their lucky stars they graduated. That’s usually followed by a “so how’s high school” and a sucks-to-be-you smile. But that’s just the college freshman. After a few years the utter disdain for high school is mitigated as fond memories take over the thoughts associated with high school. At the beginning of my senior year, my brother told me to make this year count, and to enjoy it. Because he and his friends said they’d go back “in a heartbeat.” That’s ironic considering my brother defined senioritis from the moment he walked into the freshman building. I don’t think I ever saw him actually open a textbook. Who knew if he even had a backpack. But I think I get it. We’ll be leaving the people and the way of life we’ve known for 13 years. I’m looking forward to the moment when I can actually feel bad about that. I’m looking forward to the moment when I can come back from college and walk into high school with a gleaming smile on my face. I’m looking forward to late nights with friends reminiscing on high school, rather than late nights doing homework. Until then I’ll be like every other senior who’s waiting for the moment when I can check out of school. And I have definitely already set my date of departure at the same day the final issue is completed and my last AP test is taken. That will be a glorious day. Until then, Netflix anyone? SM | Spark | 79

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Lakota East Spark 2012-2013 Issue 6  

This issue focused on the different aspects of prom as well as a special report on the immigration impacts on East.

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