BAGPIPE Volume 92 Issue 1
Table of Contents 04
Back to School
Getting into the Shoe Game
Paying Teachers Pennies
Anxiety, Anguish and AP Classes
President of the upcycling club junior Hannah Jud holds clothes to be donated. See more on page eight.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
t seems like just yesterday we were freshmen. We sat in a classroom in the brand-new Northwest Addition, working to the noises of construction whirring in the background. We typed, we talked, we laughed. We had no idea yet just what would be coming. A year-and-a-half-long time warp came, and it sucked us in. The days blurred into each other, and we worked hard but under considerable constraints. Confined to our homes and beset by uncertainties about the future of our world, we worked tirelessly to stick to our standards of reporting despite the restrictions put in front of us. Out of the blue, all of that ended. Suddenly, we were juniors and editors-in-chief, with new responsibilities and new people to guide, all in a new room. It still feels surreal, but we’re elated to have the opportunity to lead the program, and we have so much in store for the rest of the year. We thank our staff for working relentlessly to help us release our first issue of the school year. We thank those who have stayed with us over the years and the newcomers who were eager to learn and have already excelled. We thank our reporters for going out there and getting the story and thank all of our editors for their important work of refining and strengthening the story. We thank you, the reader, for supporting us and reading the magazine we’ve put so much into over the past month. Though as a school we have moved
EDITORS forward, the effects of pandemic shutdowns and remote instruction linger. It still feels strange now to say that we’re juniors. However, for the most part, we had a normal freshman year. We know what high school is normally like. But our sophomores never got to experience that, and now they have to learn how to do high school all over again. Our freshmen had a bizarre eighth grade year, and their transition to high school, which is ordinarily stressful, has a whole new host of difficulties. Our seniors are supposed to be able to look back on an eventful four years before they look toward their futures but instead are missing a huge portion of a normal high school experience. And the current high school experience still isn’t completely normal, because though we’re all together again, we’re still in a pandemic, and we still have to contend with infections, absences and precautions. In choosing “Back to School” as our cover story, we wanted to highlight how a disjointed year affected the entire student body and school community and how the process of coming back, relearning and growing better than ever before takes work from all of us. It’s a team effort. We also generally, not just in the cover story, wanted to acknowledge the school as it is. This year, we returned to a new school, one we barely recognize as the one we entered timidly three short years ago. We have a new look, new programs and new problems. And yet, we have the same people, LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
the same character and the same heart. That makes all the difference. Though the change in the past few years is significant, there will always be positive and negative changes. The world just works like that. What really matters the most is what we make of it. How we, as Scots, overcome challenges and take advantage of opportunities is through staying determined to perform, no matter the circumstances. We’ve seen that happen, and we applaud students and faculty alike for their persistence and dedication. It is our hope that while reading this issue, all members of our school can see themselves. This issue is a portrait of our school and more broadly, the oddities and intricacies of the modern age in which all of us live. We want everyone to be able to recognize just how far we’ve come while they read this issue ― and how much we still have left to go. If you have any feedback or suggestions for what we cover next, we’d love to hear from you. Please send any comments to the email address below.
Editors-in-Chief Lucy Gomez Jeneta Nwosu Highland Park High School 4220 Emerson Ave. Dallas, TX 75205 email@example.com
NEW GIRL IN NEW YORK Senior juggles young modeling career and school By Elle Polychronis
young model struts on a lit runway in Harlem, walking for New York Fashion Week for the first time. Birdsong, mixed into the background music, trills around her. It’s senior Presley Flores’ second show ever. Flores started modeling when she was 15, working alongside the modeling agency Dragonfly Agency. “I [went] to the industry for an hour,” Flores said. “I thought it was great, and I did a small photo shoot. I thought, ‘This isn’t so terrible,’ so I signed the contract.” Flores started doing photo shoots with Dragonfly Agency after she signed the contract. “I haven’t gone to a show, but I’ve been to a few of her photo shoots,” Flores’ friend senior Jett Jenkins said. “They’re really fun. A lot of times, she picks out her outfits and things like that, so I help her with that.” However, Flores was nervous during those first few photo shoots due to her inexperience. “When I was starting out, I would overthink during my photo shoots,” Flores said. “It was noticeable in my photos that I was nervous. I watched videos and my friends’ shoots and I would try to mimic other people.” After she did photo shoots, she started doing shows. The show she did before New York Fashion Week was a charity show at the Arboretum. “There were seven designers and I walked for three,” Flores said. Flores didn’t know that she was
going to be in New York Fashion Week at first. “I was with her when she got the text that she was going to be in it over the summer in California,” Jenkins exclaimed. “She was freaking out.” She traveled to Harlem for the New York Fashion Week to model for designer Johnathan Hayden on Tuesday, Sept. 9. She was apprehensive at first because her friends had told her the show would be stressful. “When I got there, everyone was so nice and treated me like a big sister,” Flores said. “The clothes weren’t even fully sewn five minutes before the show. It was so much fun. The New York Fashion Week was probably the most fun week of my life.” With these experiences, however, comes pressure. “Modeling takes a mental toll because you’re being judged on everything,” Flores said. “They would say all of my flaws in front of me. My agency has told me ‘You need to lose 10 pounds,’ and I say ‘No, I’m already underweight for my age and height.’” Additionally, Flores has tried to manage school the best she can, but her results aren’t what she wants. “During finals week last year, I would have finals all day,” Flores said. “Then, I had to go to a six-hour photo shoot for the Virgin Hotel summer commercial.”
S h e said she was disappointed in the grades she received on her finals. “It’s difficult to manage, but I’ve gotten better at it,” she said. Her youth also sometimes presents obstacles to her career. “Being the youngest is a blessing and a curse,” Flores said. “I [can] to get ahead, but people don’t take me seriously. Once I build up my portfolio, I think I will be taken seriously.” Flores’ agent Loren Whitsett remarked on Flores’ growth as a model over the past few years. “She has improved on her walk, her posture and her ability to pose and emote,” Whitsett said. “She has become marketable.” After going to New York Fashion Week, Flores has big goals for her modeling career in the future. “All I want to do in life is travel,” Flores said. “Paris Fashion Week is my goal now.” She plans to return to New York for New York Fashion Week’s winter show, and from there, Whitsett said, the future is promising. “If she continues to follow her heart and keep that drive, she’s just going to blow up,” Whitsett said.
TWO-MAN BAND COMES OUT OF LOCK DOWN Sophomore forms band, puts music on Spotify during lock down portion of COVID-19 By Katherine Harrell
he cover picture depicts an intricate marriage of lines, two side profiles bookending the design and a dripping flower right in the middle of it all. The art is featured on the Spotify profile of the band STÆA, composed of sophomores Tucker Mattison and Booker T. Washington High School student Hayden Wilson. The band formed over the quarantine break when boredom was frequent. “[Tucker is] my best friend,” Mattison said. “We live close together, so we just met outside, stayed 6-feet apart and wrote a couple of songs.” As a two-man band, being resourceful with instruments is a necessity. Mattison plays guitar, bass and keyboard, while Wilson is the lead vocalist and guitarist. Mattison also performs backup vocals. To record their songs, Mattison and Wilson go to Fifty50 Studios. The local business aims to encourage and document the wealth of creativity that will shape the Dallas music scene in the years to come,” as posted on its website. Currently, the band has released one EP, titled New Book Idea, with three songs on it. Mattison’s favorite song on it is Goodbye Now. “I played an instrument called a Hammond organ, and I’ve always wanted to play one of those, so it was super fun,” Mattison said. Mattison described the band’s music as “low quality alternative punk.” Their main source of
inspiration is drawn from some of their favorite artists like Smashing Pumpkins and RadioHead. “We both write the lyrics,” Mattison said. “We bounce them off each other, or we just write a full song and show it to the other person.” When Wilson sits down to write lyrics, he draws inspiration from his own life. “I almost look at things that are going on in my life, and instead of talking to other people, I say, ‘what I would say to other people,’ and I make it rhyme,” Wilson said. The band is still new but is beginning to grow traction. Mattison’s classmates that know about his band are supporters of STÆA, like sophomore Nola Carroll. Carroll said her fourth period class listened to the band’s music t o g e t h e r after Tucker mentioned an upcoming gig in class. “I really like it,” she said. “I think it’s impressive to write, compose, and publish, and perform at his age on top of other responsibilities like school.”
Mattison hopes to make a career out of his music. He is already looking at colleges that will support his passion. As for right now, the band plays at local bars or restaurants. Their most recent show was at Killer’s Tacos, a Mexican restaurant in Denton, on October 21. “I think that a lot of people would enjoy [their music], and it could also inspire some other students to follow and pursue their dreams,” Carroll said.
NEXT UP IN MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER Junior sets sights on professional soccer career By Isabella Navarro
artmouth. Harvard. Cornell. All three of these universities, as well as Seattle University and the University of North Carolina, scouted junior William Cornog after he played for Major League Soccer’s youth development program, also known as MLS Next. MLS Next is a program launched during the summer of 2020 to transform youth soccer in the U.S and Canada. There are currently over 600 MLS Next teams across the U.S. and more than 9,000 matches over a 10 month period in which teams play against one another. MLS Next started following Cornog when he played as a center midfielder for Solar Soccer Club’s U.S. Soccer Development Academy U14 team. “[The Development Academy] ended when corona hit,” Cornog said. “So then they made a new league called MLS Next and then Solar got invited to that.” When Cornog started playing for MLS Next, he had to stop playing for the school’s soccer team. “The MLS Next team trains year round, so the training would be in conflict, and [MLS] doesn’t want different types of training,” Bill Cornog, William Cornog’s father said. “They believe the MLS Next team training is the correct training.” Bill Cornog said William Cornog started playing soccer in kindergarten after the family moved to London, where they stayed for four years. “He couldn’t learn how to play football or baseball because there were not many opportunities to play those sports,” Bill Cornog said.
“Soccer became [his] passion just because we happened to be living in Europe during the years kids develop a passion for a sport.” William Cornog said the person who sparked his 11-year soccer career was his older sister Quinn. “My sister is a really good soccer player,” William Cornog said. “I strive to be as good as her and to play like her in college.” Quinn Cornog is a freshman midfielder at Vanderbilt University, and said that though she was a formative influence in William Cornog’s soccer journey, they learn from each other. “William has taught me more than I’ve taught him to be completely honest,” Quinn Cornog said. “We both push each other when we train together, so we’re both benefiting in the end.” She said her brother’s strengths were myriad, including skillful ball control and strong field awareness. “His touch is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” she said. “He is a finesse player for sure, not a power player.” When MLS Next started scouting William Cornog, Quinn Cornog knew he was going to make it. “There was not a single doubt in my mind
about William not making the Solar MLS team,” she said. Watching his son play in the highest U.S. soccer league filled Bill Cornog with pride. “It was a bliss seeing my son playing at a level that will help him achieve his aspirations,” he said. The first of William Cornog’s aspirations after graduating high school is going to college. “Most of the kids play D1 and then try to go pro from there,” William Cornog said. “That’s what I’ll do.” Quinn Cornog has always believed her brother would be a great player. “He is very intelligent and was gifted with unbelievable athleticism,” she said. “He has lots of grit and never gives up. He’s the hardest worker in the room, hands down.”
COMPOSER FINDS A CROWD Senior’s composing abilities equate to college-level skill By Olivia Howse and August Lazzaro
s instruments are tuned and music begins to swell, the first few notes of junior Marshall Engel’s own compositions fill a concert hall. At just 16, Engel has already had two music pieces performed by the Brevard New Music Orchestra, a premiere summer training academy and festival, along with other professional orchestras. Engel said when he began writing music, he taught himself. He credits Southern Methodist University professor Jake Dickerson and middle school band director Timothy Emsley for teaching him how to formally compose music. Dickerson meets with Engel once or twice a week to go over his new pieces. “He’s incredibly talented,” Dickerson said. “Marshall didn’t start with a lot of knowledge, and I think that is really remarkable.” Senior Julius Lee said Engel thrives in his school activities as well. “He is a really spirited person in the band during football games,” Lee said. “He will find opportunities to show off and dance to whatever is being played.” Engel’s success is a phenomenon to Dickerson, who equates Engel’s composing to the skill level of a college student. “Marshall is probably a genius,” Dickerson said. “He is certainly the best composer I have ever met in his
age range.” A l t h o u g h Dickerson usually only works with younger students, he believes Engel definitely has a future being a great composer. “I have a lot of respect for his ability and his music,” he said. Going through the symphony process made Engel excited to see what else was in store for him, especially while listening to his own music being played as he wrote notes for the musicians. “It was kind of a whoa moment when I was in the room,” Engel said. “I had my score in front of me and was writing down notes to give to the musicians, and I would just sit down with the recording and be in a blur.” Engel dedicates most of his time to composing, taking six months to write a four-minute song. Because it is typical for his pieces not to include lyrics, he is currently trying to challenge himself by incorporating some into his work. “He had a very good grasp of some music concepts when we started working together,” Dickerson said. “The thing that he did, that probably no one else [did] who I have worked with, is he would take on a lot of really, really rigorous topics, and he would see them to completion.” Engel, who plays the saxophone and the oboe, prefers composing
music o v e r playing it because there more freedom
is with composing. “Composing is creative, it’s an art,” Engel said. “Playing an instrument all the time can get repetitive and doesn’t let your creativity come to life. As for being a composer, you have free range and can put your emotions to life.” With composing there is no pressure for Engel. The music just flows within him. “He really enjoys composing,” Lee said. “It’s a passion thing for him.” Although Engel’s joy is composing music, he wants to attend a liberal arts college, so he can also study politics and history while working towards a degree in music composition. In getting his music played by an orchestra, Engel has already accomplished one of his major life goals and does not plan on stopping anytime soon. “I always imagined it being played in my head,” “I never thought it would happen this early, ever.”
To read more Scotlights, check out the Scotlights page of our website.
With a bundle of clothes in hand, junior Hannah Jud shows off her latest donations. She was the co-president of the upcycling club. “I think we are making a pretty positive impact because instead of people throwing away their old clothes, they are giving them to us so we can give them to those who need it,” Jud said Photo by Katherine Harrell
Recycling Upcycling with the
couple of clicks, a week of waiting and a notification from the shipping company is all it takes for a package full of trendy and cheap clothes to arrive, all thanks to fast fashion. Fast fashion is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Fast fashion has quickly become a global phenomenon. Companies like Zara, Forever 21 and The Gap are all stores that participate in the fast growing process that the upcycling club is fighting. The club collects unwanted or outgrown clothing from the student body and donates the items to organizations who collect used clothes, like The Salvation Army. “We basically go through a list of organizations in Dallas and we email those who are in most need of clothing,” junior Hannah Jud, the copresident of the club, said. The club’s efforts have an environmental impact. The fashion industry is included in the top three for the most pollution producing industries, second only to the oil industry, according to Forbes. Additionally, it takes close to 3,000 liters of water to make one cotton shirt. To put that into perspective, the world buys over 80 billion items of clothing every year, an article by The True Cost reports. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that by 2050, the fashion industry will use up to a quarter of the world’s carbon budget, meaning that this revelation matters to
anyone who will be around in a mere 29 years. In addition, local organizations also benefit from the donations collected by the club. “Goodwill relies on the sales of donated items to create jobs and fund job-training programs for people with disabilities, disadvantages and other barriers to employment,” said Courtney Peach, director of development at Goodwill North Central Texas. She mentioned that they receive donations not only from individuals or organizations, but from student organizations like the upcycling club as well. “We receive a lot of donations, thousands, thousands plural, from just our Dallas section,” Peach said. Last year, the club hosted only a fall and wspring drive due to restrictions relating to the coronavirus. However, they still managed to donate hundreds of items. “Women’s tops or old t-shirts, are our most popular donated clothes,” Jud said. For their upcoming drive, which will take place in December, the club will either donate to The Salvation Army or The Genesis Women’s Shelter. The process of donating clothes through the club takes place over the course of a couple weeks. Members will make an announcement over the intercom to the whole school saying they are holding a drive. Donors drop their clothes off at a sponsor’s classroom or a member’s house. After all of the items have been collected, the club SCOTLIGHTS
Club’s efforts promotes environmentally friendly fashion By Katherine Harrell
comes together to sort and organize clothes into categories. Through these efforts, the Upcycling Club strives to make a positive change in the community. “Just by donating our clothes we are doing just one small step that can make a big impact,” sophomore Sienna Gussio said. The club’s efforts do not go
“Just by donating our clothes we are doing just one small step that can make a big impact.” unappreciated by the organizations who benefit from their donations. “I would absolutely encourage upcycling,” Peach said. “It is a fun way for people to find treasures, whether it be an old item or a new item, or if you are switching up your style from grunge to something else. It also gets these clothes out of landfills and into the hands of people who need them.”
Graphic by Jeneta Nwosu
Back School TO
Over a year after start of pandemic, students, staff face tough transition in return to normalcy By Kimmie Johansen
s her return to in-person school approached, junior Kennedy Davila had mixed feelings. “I was really nervous just because I hadn’t been to school in what feels like forever,” Davila said. “But also, I was really excited because at that time, I felt like I needed a routine.” COVID-19 forced the school to close its doors in the spring of 2020. Last year, families received three options for schooling: fully remote learning, in-person learning with safety precautions like masks and social distancing or a hybrid option of the two. Over a year later, students, parents, teachers and administrators
are still feeling the repercussions. Due to concerns in her family about the coronavirus, Davila chose to do virtual learning as a sophomore, which made her recognize the multifaceted nature of school. “School isn’t just school. It’s socialization; it’s a routine; it’s getting up and going somewhere, and for me [remote learning] was very isolating,” she said. The isolation Davila felt affected her participation in class. “They would teach it, then they would make you do an assignment on your own,” she said. “That’s where I struggled because all the assignments were on your own, but since I was at home, it was harder for me to ask questions.” After returning to in-person school COVER STORY
full-time this year, Davila successfully boosted her grades, but she struggled to adjust to the new routine. “This year is stressing me out more than it did when I was at home,” she said. “The workload is a lot. It’s hard to balance time for everything.” She feels that she is missing information she’s supposed to have learned already. “I have a lot of gaps in my knowledge for math,” she said. “I barely passed last year in geometry,” Davila said. Davila believes her classes are outpacing her, leaving her without enough time to properly comprehend all the material. “When you’re already struggling with something, they just move on continued on next page
and move on and move on, so it’s said. “It’s not the thing that happens math class last year, there were like hard to catch up,” she said. or the adversity, it’s how you deal six of us, so I was good at math, but She finds the whole cycle involved with it that defines you.” this year there’s like I feel like I have in this transition back to in-person Mamula said the 30 of us, and I’m a lot of gaps school overwhelming. counseling team had failing math.” in my learning “When I come to school, I’m not some adversity of their Sophomore Ford from being comfortable,” she said. “I feel over own to work through Hamilton is having online last year. a similar experience stimulated all the time, so much so I last year. Counselors are cry sometimes just from being in class assigned students based to Davila and and not understanding something on their last name. Last year, the Peters. Like Davila, he attended or too much going on around me,” hybrid schedule was also based on school virtually for his freshman year. Davila said. last name, so there were days when At first, he enjoyed the experience. She decided to go to her counselor almost all the students assigned to “Staying home and doing school for help. Mamula would be at home, reducing online was pretty interesting because “I went to my counselor, and just his in-person interaction with his it was something new,” he said. “I expressed to him ‘I’m at my lowest students significantly. When students liked it because I could lay in bed all with school,’” she said. “I was so were remote, his only interaction day and still get my work done.” stressed, and I didn’t really know with them was usually via email. However, Hamilton noticed those what to do, and I just wanted to “It [was] not the same,” Mamula habits hurt his grades. communicate that to someone, but said. “Our doors are open, kids come “My grades were struggling during the response I got was just like ‘You by all the time. [Last year] was tough online school because I had no have a great teacher, she’s great, for us too.” motivation to do anything,” he said. keep it going.’” Junior Vex Peters feels the Now that Hamilton is back to inDavila was disappointed with this counselors do a great job of person schooling, he is also noticing exchange. However, the counseling supporting kids, especially those with holes in his understanding. staff is seeing an influx of students extenuating circumstances. “I feel like I have a lot of gaps in coming for help this year, and they “They are really trying to help my learning from being online last are working with students to guide everyone and are making sure year,” he said. “Certain classes are a them through the added stress. everyone’s needs are met,” Peters lot harder to keep up in when you’re “A lot of kids are struggling. A lot said. “There are some things that behind, like Spanish and geometry.” of people are struggling,” counselor they just can’t do.” Hamilton still suffers from the same Jon Mamula said. When Peters reaches out to issues that plagued him last year. A lot of “This is just a a counselor, Peters feels they “My adjustment to in-person has are kids really hard time.” get valuable information been slow, nothing is improving,” he struggling. When kids come from them. said. “I think that being online for my A lot of to Mamula, he “They give me tips and freshman year messed with my high people tries to let them are struggling. pointers on what I should school experience, and now, my work know others are do if I’m failing a class, what ethic and motivation are lower.” struggling too in hopes to provide I should do to get ahead or to take a Freshman Olivia Knight has also solace in the fact they aren’t alone. test,” Peters said. struggled as school has become more “A lot of kids seem to think that other This has been especially helpful to rigorous than in her previous, more kids don’t have problems, and it’s this Peters this year. Peters did attend relaxed year. She attended school community where everyone has a school in-person for the majority of in-person at the middle school as an smile on their face and everybody’s last year, but still, Peters is struggling eighth grader. doing great,” Mamula said. “Behind to adjust to having everyone back Like Davila, Knight greeted this that smile, sometimes there are this year. school year with optimism. people who are hurting.” “Last year, I got so much work “I thought this year would be good, Another thing he works with his done because all my friends were getting back to normal, like where we students on is overcoming adversity. not in my classes, so there weren’t were two years ago,” she said. “We try to teach kids resilience distractions, and the classes were so While Knight enjoys being able to because bad things happen,” Mamula much smaller,” Peters said. “In my read facial expressions with fewer
engaging students online. “As teachers, you’re taught to be dynamic to get up, move, interact with your students and make learning interactive and fun,” Hudnall said. “But now you have to sit so the kids that are online can see, and you’re stuck in a chair.” The news that students would be physically back in her classroom eased some of her concerns. “I think there were several times I While students received the choice said ‘If they decide we need to wear masks, if they decide on whether to be remote, hybrid I just we need to distance, or in-person last year, teachers wanted whatever,’” Hudnall were expected to come to everybody said. “I just wanted campus and teach both sets of to be back everybody to be back students simultaneously during in-person in person because the each period every day. because the energy is so different.” The demands created by energy is so Hudnall said her this dynamic posed a hard different. students aren’t paying adjustment for teachers like attention in class. English teacher Lisa Seaman. “Some teachers would say ‘we’re “I was overwhelmed, and even being an experienced teacher, I had no clue behind where we should be content how to manage that, how to make wise because we’re having to reteach sure my students were successful, stuff,’” Hudnall said. “My bigger issue make sure they were doing the work that I’m seeing is the lack of ability to and make sure they were learning focus and put phones away.” She sees this issue exacerbated the material,” Seaman said. “It was a towards seventh and eighth periods. tough transition.” “At the end of the day, like the last One aspect that intimated Seaman was the technology skills needed to two periods nobody knows how to stay still and be focused because you navigate this new environment. “Being in the older generation, my didn’t really have to last year if you thoughts were how am I going to were all virtual,” Hudnall said. Seaman can identify similar manage the computer, the screen and keeping students on task,” she concerns in her classroom. “It’s as if the ninth graders I have now said. “That for me was frustrating.” Despite her initial fears, Seaman are still seventh graders,” Seaman said. “Their maturity level is behind. still adapted. “I would move the computer around, Their social skills are behind.” Another issue Seaman notices so I could still be at the board, and then I would split the screen, so they that she believes is a result from the could be looking at the material that’s previous year’s disruptions is lack of on the computer while I’m teaching it consistent attendance. “What I’m finding is that attendance to the students in the class,” she said. Virtual instruction was also is an issue this year,” she said. difficult for teachers like physics “They’re just not coming to school, teacher Jennifer Hudnall, who felt not communicating with the teacher unprepared for the challenge of and not getting the work made up.” students wearing masks, she finds it difficult to manage her time. “I’ve been procrastinating a lot more and thinking I have more time to complete things when I don’t actually,” she said.
TEACHERS FACE TROUBLE
Additionally, Seaman raised concerns over instructional gaps, which she notices in honors and standard classes alike. “They don’t know how to take a higher level concept and apply analysis to it,” she said. “They can only do on-the-line learning, like the who, what, where and when. They can’t really do the why or make connections between things.” In order to address these gaps, Seaman is doing a lot of reteaching. To make time for the reteaching, she has pared down the curriculum. “Instead of reading five short stories, we’re reading three, so that way they still get the skills,” Seaman said. “The rigor is there. It’s just not as much content.” Though she is adjusting her instruction to accommodate student needs, she feels strongly that students still need to be held to high expectations. “I’m not going to lower my standards because of what’s happened,” Seaman said. “They are going to have to reach my standards.” Algebra I teacher Rhonda Hermanski noticed similar issues in regards to her students. “Their whole eighth grade year was upside down,” Hermanski said. “Some kids did well with remote instruction, and some kids did not, so I have noticed some gaps, and we’re working to spiral that in as we go through the year.” To remedy these issues, Hermanski is actively adjusting the curriculum to help her students succeed. “One thing kids have been struggling with is positive and negative numbers, so when we realized that was a problem or something they were struggling with, we took a day out of our curriculum, so we could spend a day working on that particular topic,” she said. continued on next page
Like Hudnall, though, she is mostly just grateful to have all her students back in the classroom. “I think we’re all very happy that we have all of our students, so we are happy about that,” she said. “But yes, we have some catching up to do.”
say they were remote all year, so they missed some Algebra I instruction,” she said. “This year, when they start geometry, the beginning of geometry is algebra, so if you didn’t have that background, then you’re already a little bit behind.” However, she credits math teachers for their attention to working with students to address these gaps. Another component of Ryan’s position is coordinating make-up work efforts for students who come Campus interventionist Stephanie down with the coronavirus and have Ryan is working alongside students to miss two weeks. “At least last year, if you were and teachers to address the pressures felt by each party. She helps students home, you had the ability to watch lessons,” Ryan make a plan to said. “There’s address absences or If there’s somebody a struggle for areas of growth and in 10th grade students who communicate with this year are trying their teachers. who had a disrupted to learn the “My job is a little eighth grade math year, material when weird,” Ryan said. “I and then they are out for don’t actually provide say they were an extended last year, tutoring, I help remote all year, so they period of time.” [students] connect missed some Algebra I However, with the teacher. instruction. Ryan said one Students [still] have This year, when they start good thing to be proactive.” geometry, came out of She says, though, the beginning of last year. that she is seeing a geometry is algebra, “Students are lot of students trying so if you didn’t have that really good hard to catch up. background, about checking This year Ryan has then you’re their email seen kids with a range already now when of issues. a little bit they weren’t “It varies. There behind. before,” she are some kids really said. “I’ve seen excelling at the moment,” Ryan said. “Some kids are a massive improvement in student’s still struggling to come to school, communication skills.” which might be partially from last year. It’s hard to learn if you are not at school.” She said she can definitely see the learning gaps teachers are Principal Jeremy Gilbert recognizes mentioning. Ryan noted there are the challenges that students and areas of need in all subjects, but she teachers faced during the previous is noticing the most in math because school years’ COVID-19 restrictions. the classes are so cumulative. The school’s pandemic shut-down “If there’s somebody in 10th grade in spring of 2020 put members of the this year who had a disrupted eighth community in a difficult situation. grade math year, and then, last year, “There is no question that when
ADDRESSING STUDENT, TEACHER NEEDS
we went to online learning that it was really hard on teachers, and it was really hard on students. I think everyone just chalked it up to ‘This is weird. This is a pandemic. This isn’t normal, we’re going to do the best that we can,’” Gilbert said. “But when we came back to school, the expectation was that we were going to have some students that were in-person, some were hybrid, some were virtual. That’s when our expectations changed a little bit.” Though the 2020-2021 school year had more students physically in the classroom, teachers had to do their jobs in a whole new way. “Teachers were asked to sit at their desks to teach in-person and virtual students at the same time, which I think was almost unfair to ask of teachers because they were asked to do something totally against what we know to be good teaching,” he said. He has a particular philosophy of education that he found difficult to integrate online. “I’m a big relationship person, and I feel like a positive, nurturing relationship is essential for students to learn,” Gilbert said. “And there’s just that barrier virtually that gets in the way of building those relationships.” This school year, he believes the ability for students and teachers to form those relationships in-person is a major benefit. “Most people, I think, are thriving on being back in-person and being able to make those connections, but it’s important to realize that through this pandemic we are all taking our own path, and some people are really struggling. Some people are thriving,” Gilbert said. “That’s been a big challenge trying to meet students where they are academically and emotionally, and that’s been a big priority with our counselors.” One additional challenge is helping students build the executive functioning and study skills they haven’t yet developed. Last year, teachers allowed students in
many classes to use their notes on assessments to level the playing field between online and in-person students. Now, that temporary privilege is gone. “Our students are having to learn how to study again because they are not able to use their notes anymore,” Gilbert said.
There is no question
that when we went to online learning it was really hard on teachers, and it was really hard on students.I think everyone just chalked it up to ‘This is weird. This is a pandemic. This isn’t normal. We’re going to do the best that we can.’
In meetings with department chairs, Gilbert emphasized the importance of students understanding the basics in each class. “We talked about making sure that we are teaching what’s essential to each class,” Gilbert said. “Sometimes we expand on that, which is great because our students, I think, thrive in that. But we want to make sure that we are teaching the standards the way that they are expected.” Gilbert believes that despite the challenges this school year presents students will still succeed. “I’ve seen our students and teachers work really hard to close those gaps,” Gilbert said. Gilbert expects end-of-the-year test results to be the same as they have been in year’s past, despite the setbacks students and teachers are seeing in the classroom. “I think it’s just going to take a little bit more to get there,” he said. “But as we say, ‘Scotties find a way.’”
Back TO Pep After one year without, weekly fall pep rallies return.
1. For student council’s National Unity Day celebration, senior and student council executive president Ava Tiffany dances to the song “We’re All In This Together.” Unity Day was about celebrating inclusivity, kindness and respect. “It’s a great chance to commemorate our students who bring others together,” Tiffany said. 2. Ponytails fly as senior Kate Hamiliton, junior Shelby Sides and sophomore Addison Renfrow dance as members of the Belles. This performance was part of a special, whole school outdoor pep rally on homecoming week. “It’s really fun. It’s like games, but everyone is there,” Hamilton said. 3. In chairs representing a car, Scotsmen and senior Chas Hutchinson, Cole Richter, Will Carlisle and Luke Vendig put on a skit. The skit was about time traveling back to the 1970s. “I love making people laugh and performing skits in front of the school with four of my great friends,” Vendig said. Photos by Matteo Winandy
THE SHOE GAME
Principal’s unique shoe choice provides opportunities for connections, forges new relationships By Maddie Watkins
n a typical school morning, Principal Jeremy
Gilbert stands outside the student entrance with a smile on his face and a clean pair of Jordans on his feet. Gilbert’s love for sneakers started when he was a freshman in high school. After the new Jordan 4s came out that year, he knew he had to get a pair. He basked in the feeling of wearing them for the first time. “I was like, ‘Man, there’s something about sneakers to me,’” Gilbert said. He knew from that moment that
he loved sneakers. When Gilbert started as a Highland Park ISD principal at Hyer Elementary School, he walked around every day with black dress shoes. “I was originally wearing what I call my ‘grown up’ shoes,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’d be real tired.” Gilbert decided to return to his beloved, comfortable sneakers. He started wearing his sneakers with his suits every now and then. This caught a lot of attention, so he embraced it. He believes that being the principal
with “shoe game” comes with some pressure to have always come with some “heat.” “I can’t put a pair on and come to school [with] duds, you know?” He said, laughing. Gilbert now has a collection of sneakers he rotates weekly, though he keeps the exact amount a secret. He wakes up and wears whatever calls him that day. “Sometimes I try to match the sneakers with the tie,” Gilbert said. “Sometimes, I just say ‘We can be mismatched. We don’t have to match all the time.’” When he buys his shoes, he never buys just one pair. He usually gets at least two, sometimes three at a time. Calling himself “a savvy sneaker shopper,” Gilbert emphasized he rarely pays full price for his sneakers. He usually gets a discount between 15% and 20% of the shoe’s price. Gilbert’s love for sneakers has unintentionally helped him create bonds with students and staff. On the first day of the school year, he greeted a lost student who noticed his shoes. “He said ‘Wow, I never had a principal with shoe game,’” he said. “It kind of brought down that barrier.” Gilbert’s love for his sneakers connected him with his students even before the first day of school. On Gilbert’s Instagram page, @prin_ gilbert, he posted a story polling students to determine which shoes to wear with his first-day outfit. The next day, he followed through, walking the halls with the chosen pair on his feet. It’s not just the students using
Gilbert’s shoes as a talking point. Math teacher Charles Trahan came to the school at the same time as Gilbert and often discusses shoes with him. They both like the Fire Red Jordans 4s. Gilbert doesn’t follow the crowd in his taste in shoes, according to Trahan. “You don’t see him rocking the Cactus Jack Jordan 1s or anything like that,” he said. “[His shoes are] always unique and different.” Junior Lindsay Bird said her favorite shoes she’s seen Gilbert wear are Jordans. Junior Drew McElroy also likes Gilbert’s Jordans, specifically the Jordan Retro 11s. Gilbert’s shoes aren’t his only standout characteristic, according to Bird. She thinks he’s easier to find and talk to than previous principals. “I feel like [the campus culture seems] a lot more open now,” she said. “You can be more free to talk to your administrator.” Trahan said he also notices students don’t hesitate to talk to Gilbert in any circumstances, whether it’s because trouble arises, or they just want someone to talk to. “I think he has set an example for staff for being approachable,” Trahan said. “I think that it is really important within a school district that students see staff as being on their side.” He noticed a unique
said, “ He ‘Wow, I
shoe game.’ It kind of
approach in Gilbert’s leadership. “Administrators can get comfortable and just do what’s easiest when there’s so much going on, but I think he does a really good job of thinking critically about how his decisions impact students and staff,” Trahan said. “Ultimately, what actually matters is your willingness to serve students, and I see that very prominently in the way he goes about his day-to-day.” Junior Drew McElroy said he, too, likes Gilbert’s leadership, and he isn’t as intimidating as other principals. “[He’s the] opposite,” McElroy said. “You can go to him with any problems, and you know he’ll have your back. He’s such a chill guy that no one even has interest of upsetting him because he’s always there helping them out.” To Trahan, though, Gilbert’s most important quality is that he cares. “People want to feel cared about,” Trahan said. “Someone that’s leading your school, for me as a staff member, to know that they care, [and for] students as well to know that he cares, is very powerful.” Check out the next page for a closer look at Gilbert’s collection.
You can “ go to him with
any problems, and you know
he’ll have your back. He’s such a
chill guy that no one even has interest of upsetting him because he’s
helping them out.
Air Force 1 Low
AIR FORCE 1 LOW
These are Gilbert’s favorite. He likes that they’re a clean white but also have plaid and camouflage patterned details.
Small peek into Gilbert’s large collection By Jeneta Nwosu
NIKE REACT ELEMENT 55
The color on this shoe, a shiny silver, pops out against dark colors. Gilbert wears them when he wants to have contrast with his suits.
PAUL GEORGE 4
AIR FORCE 1 FLYKNIT
NEW BALANCE 327
AIR MAX 90 WORLDWIDE
The plaid on this shoe reminds Gilbert of the school mascot. The ankle on it is reinforced because the namesake for the shoe, Paul George, broke his ankle playing for the U.S. basketball team.
This shoe is lightweight and might also be Gilbert’s favorite. “It’s hard to say which Air Force I like better,” he said. “It’s like saying which kid I like better.”
There aren’t many New Balance shoes in Gilbert’s collection, but he decided to purchase this one due to the chunky studs that run up the back of the shoe.
Gilbert has never worn this pair before, but he said he plans to add it as an option on an Instagram poll that will decide what shoe he wears the day after winter break ends.
PENNIES Nov. 2 election aims to increase teachers’ salaries By Ellie Cooper
fter 30 years of teaching, art teacher Peggy Bollman said she feels ready to retire soon. “I am getting old,” she said, with a smile on her face. But the amount of pension money she would receive is based on her salary, which in Bollman’s experience, comes up short compared to pay in other districts. “I have seen other school districts offer from $5,000 to $15,000 dollars a year more than Highland Park, so it’s a significant difference,” Bollman said. “I know that there are teachers, sadly, that have gone to other school districts for that reason.” The district ranks 24th in compensation for teachers with a bachelor’s degree and 22nd for teachers with a master’s degree out of 25 equivalent North Texas school districts as of last school year, according to the district. The district’s average base salary for teachers after five years is $51,858. The compensation plan details that teacher salaries range from $50,300 to $68,000, depending on experience, with additional stipends available in certain cases. To be able to pay teachers more, the Board of Trustees called for an election, asking voters to make more of the money raised from property taxes available from the state. In cases like this, the state of Texas uses the term “golden penny.” Golden pennies represent tax revenue that is used for local affairs and is not subject to recapture by the state government. When they are accessed by voters, all the revenue generated by the pennies stays in the school district to aid in issues such as teacher salaries. In short, by claiming more property tax revenue for local purposes rather than state purposes, the school district can raise money without having to raise taxes for the residents. This move is welcome to English teacher Jackie Moryan, who would like her salary to match those in other districts. “I made significantly more in Irving,” Moryan said. “In Irving, they pay SCHOOL
“ We are
professionals, and I think that based on the quality of education we perform here at Highland Park, we should be paid more.”
about 20% more.” However, not all teachers are experiencing a gap. April Burns, a volleyball coach and geometry teacher is being paid more than at her previous school. “Before I came here, I worked at a low income school, and I actually made less because it was a more rural district,” Burns said. Teachers with extra positions of responsibility, like Burns, who teaches a core class and coaches a sport, get an extra payment. Teachers with a master’s degree also get an annual stipend of $2,500, and staff members with a doctorate get twice that amount. Teachers in the district must earn a master’s degree within seven years of being hired. “Highland Park requires a master’s degree, and teachers with master’s degrees should, of course, earn more,” Bollman said. She supports the proposition from the Board of Trustees to increase teacher compensation. “We are professionals, and I think that based on the quality of education we perform here at Highland Park, we should be paid more,” she said. While the election takes place Nov. 2, early voting started Oct. 18. Voters cast their ballots at the HPISD Administration Building, or they can go to University Park United
Dog in hand, sophomore Elena Altschuler smiles in front of a yard sign outside of her house supporting the Golden Penny proposition. If the proposition passes, w teachers and staff salaries will eventually increase. The election will be held on Nov. 2. Photo by Ellie Cooper
Methodist Church. If the golden penny proposition passes, it will generate approximately $3.6 million additional revenue in the form of four golden pennies for the school district, while still reducing HPISD property owners’ tax rates by 2.1 cents per $100 - a five-year low. A majority vote against the golden pennies will decrease the tax rate by 6.1 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Teacher compensation would not increase, and the top reason teachers reject job offers or resign from the district is compensation, according to numbers released by the school district. “There are people who have gone
to other places because the pay is better,” Bollman said. “That’s a really difficult choice to make when you’re at a school that you enjoy teaching at.” Bollman, who has taught at the school for nine years, said she decided to stay because of the students. “The kids here do work hard,” she said. “They’re overall respectful and cooperative.” She doesn’t have to address disciplinary issues as often as she has in the past, so she gets to spend more of her time teaching. “It means that my retirement will probably be a little bit less, but I love SCHOOL
teaching,” she said. “And I found it to be a joy here.” To get the latest information on this story, scan the QR code.
Students discuss the benefits and downsides of AP classes
&AP CLASSES By Zoie Carlile
unior Zeynep Akdora spends an average of four hours on homework for her Advanced Placement classes each night. “This year I’m taking about five more AP classes, but most of my friends are taking like six or seven, so it’s not even that much,” she said. Since her sophomore year, Akdora has been taking AP classes, and despite the benefits that come with advanced courses, she finds there are downsides as well. “I think the biggest downside for me is when you’re being taught so much to take one specific test, it kind of takes the fun out of learning the content,” she said. Akdora feels everything in her AP classes is geared towards pleasing College Board, the organization that administers the end-of-the-year standardized tests and provides the curriculum for each course. Akdora is not alone in how she feels about AP classes. Junior Keyes Sumner is in a similar situation. He has also been taking AP classes since sophomore year. Now, he feels the pressure has only grown. “I feel like with the way in which it’s taught and how there is a constant pressure to do well on the AP exam, the interesting parts of it kind of gets lost in the pressure,” he said. The constant, looming burden of the AP exam is Sumner’s main area of concern, and he says it can distract from the actual curriculum. “It also leaves less room for having fun, less freedom in the curriculum,” he said. “Everything we do is tailored to prepare us for the AP exam.” 22
The AP exams are tests given at the end of the year to observe the overall culmination of a student’s learning throughout the year. AP world history teacher Kevin Finn says these tests are one factor that cause AP class curriculum to differ from standard class curriculum. “Teachers can write their exams, but the AP teachers don’t write the AP exams,” he said. “So we’re teaching for a test that we’ll never see.” He explained that AP classes have to end at the beginning of May to prepare for the AP exam. Because the course is meant to prepare students for the exam at the end of the year, the content is taught at a much faster pace than standard classes. “College Board writes the AP test and they have requirements that need to be taught, and there are some things that are not taught,” Finn said. “A regular class may spend two weeks on World War II, whereas the AP course would spend three days.” Bianca Park, director of C2 Education of Preston Hollow, an organization offering test preparation and college counseling, says these exams can be a challenge for students. “A lot of times students will do really well in the class and not do as well on the exam,” she said. “There’s a little bit of a disconnect there.” Park explained one reason she sees this happen to students is because they end up cramming for the exam at the last minute. Like Finn, she attributes much of the difficulty to the fact these classes must cover more material at a quicker pace. Plus, being in an AP SCHOOL
class requires students to do more work independently. “You’re not going to be spoon fed the information,” Park said. “You’re not going to be given an outline in class. You’re going to actually have to read your textbook.” Yet another challenge accompanying the difficulties of AP classes is how many to take in one year. Park has seen students overwhelmed by their coursework and says taking too many AP classes is not a smart decision to make. “You should be taking them based on your academic interests,” she said. “You should be taking them in order to study subjects that you’re really interested in.” Finn agrees taking too many AP classes can overwhelm a student. “I think having enough time for yourself, for your sleep, your family, your friends is important,” Finn said. “But the more AP classes you take, the more hours of the day you have to commit to getting things done.” Finn also noted putting too much focus on one AP class can negatively affect grades in other classes and generally doesn’t allow students to focus on anything else. Junior Fatima Rohail has been in eight AP classes so far, and she agrees that taking advanced courses in only areas of interest is a better choice for students. “It’s easier to dedicate your time to a subject that you’re actually interested in and want to spend time learning about,” she said. Despite this, she still finds herself taking AP classes for the GPA boost.
Sophomore Faith Zhao finishes her work in AP Computer Science. AP Computer Science was an elective course students could take for a technology credit. “The content we learn moves at a quicker pace, so some of it is difficult,” she said. Photo by Zoie Carlile
These classes are considered Category I classes, with a GPA max at a 5.0 instead of a 4.0 from standard level, or Category III, courses. “The pressure of being in the top 6%, being in the top 10%, you have to have a high GPA,” Rohail said. On top of that, Rohail mentioned she believes there is a culture at HP that pressures students into taking the most number of advanced courses possible. “I think HP is really competitive academically, so if you don’t take as many AP classes as your friends,
you’re going to feel like you’re falling behind,” Rohail said. Sumner and Akdora agreed they feel a certain pressure too. In spite of all this, AP classes present just as many benefits. “It’s kind of like baby college where you get the experience and the content, but it’s more guided,” Akdora said. Finn agrees, saying AP classes can prepare students with the skills for college and appeal to top universities as well. “It shows a college that students are SCHOOL
willing to push themselves and move out of their comfort zone,” Finn said. “It’s the skills we hope stay with them longer than the information.” These skills include how to study, how to improve your writing and how to perform in a rigorous environment. “Sometimes it’s good to have a class that challenges you,” Sumner said. “You don’t want to be bored in your classes, but at the same time, there needs to be a balance.”
TOXIC TREND Recent trend of devious behavior hits campus, stretches custodial staff thin By Alex Justine
door slams against the wall, and a boy in a worn-out black hoodie bolts out of the bathroom heading towards the exit, soap seeping out of the backpack holding a stolen soap dispenser. A week later, the boy leaves a different bathroom with a bigger prize in hand: a urinal wall divider. These are not just random acts. The boy does not act alone, and these are not the only items robbed from the school at the hands of students. TikTok’s “Devious Licks” trend has inspired these thefts nationwide. The trend instructs people to steal something from school and boast about it on social media. “Lick” is slang for successfully stealing something, and “devious” refers to the tactics that one uses to take it. “I think it’s dumb,” junior Greye Laharia said. “They are destroying school property for validation. It is just unreasonable.” It started with a video of a TikTok user taking a school hand sanitizer dispenser out of his backpack, according to New York Magazine’s Curbed. The video, which got 7.2 million views, was captioned “Only a month into school and got this absolute devious lick.” Videos using that phrase took 24
Graphic Faith Zhao
off on TikTok. But now, if you search the term “Devious Licks,” no videos appear. The social media platform removed videos showing vandalism, stating the acts violated its community guidelines. Other trends spread as offshoots of the original Devious Licks trend. The Angelic Yield trend, a trend in opposition to the Devious Licks trend, encourages people to give back to the school by installing soap dispensers or hiding money in toilet paper rolls. But less benevolent challenges are still around. Principal Jeremy Gilbert said he saw a list that included challenges for each month, including a challenge in October for students to slap teachers. “This is a national list that different school districts have been sharing,” Gilbert said. He said that he’s disappointed by the incidents of vandalism inspired by the Devious Licks trend. SOCIAL MEDIA
“That is not who we are as Scots,” Gilbert said. Laharia thinks the students who commit the crimes should be paying for the damages, and they do when they are caught. Vandalism is prohibited by the Student Code of Conduct and is punishable by in-school suspension or even alternative school placement depending on the severity of the damage. Students are also charged fines for damages. For instance, the bathroom vandalism came with a $1,000 fine. Seeing other students face these consequences contributed to the decline of the Devious Licks trend. “As soon as we started catching people, and people started getting in trouble, the Devious Licks went away,” Gilbert said. The school regularly catches the offenders because they tend to post the evidence of their vandalism on social media. But even without social
media, the school’s security cameras catch students in the act. “That’s a silly thing as a high school student to get a phone call home to your parents,” Gilbert said. “‘I am sorry to call you, but your high school age student was messing around in the bathroom.’ [It’s] similar to a conversation a principal would have with an elementary age student.” The bathroom vandalism also strains the school maintenance staff. With new additions to the building, such as the four-story wing on the east side, the custodians’ workload has gotten heavier. Building manager Cornelius Jones has been the head custodian at the school for over nine years and admits the work can be challenging. He sees incidents like Devious Licks as frustrating but no different than past high school antics. “We learn how to deal with the issue, and with that, we try to correct the issue or process,” he said. “That’s just part of the job.”
Despite these building additions, there are no new custodians. This means the staff is stretched thin without these added stressors. “There is just this additional mess given to a group that already has a very hard job, and that makes it even more complicated with the lack of new staff,” Gilbert said. “When they walk into a bathroom, and it is completely destroyed, their appreciation is destroyed too. They feel like the kids don’t care about them, and they don’t feel like their work is valued.” From a student perspective, Laharia also believes students need to be more mindful of the custodial staff’s time. “It is rude to them, and it is disrespectful because they work so hard to keep our school clean,” Laharia said. Even in the presence of fines, these damages are still costly for the school. The money spent to fix bathrooms SOCIAL MEDIA
takes away from funding that could be used for programs and supplies. “That’s the choice I have to make as a principal,” Gilbert said. “Am I going to buy a new computer or a soap dispenser? It’s really disappointing because I have to take money that is earmarked for really cool things and spend it on sinks, soap dispensers and towel dispensers. To me, it’s a waste of money.” Gilbert said students should encourage their peers to respect school property and report any vandalism if they see it. “It’s not [being a] tattle tale or anything like that,” Gilbert said. “It’s an effort to maintain a school to be proud of, and from student-tostudent, we will encourage each other to make great choices and to be respectful.”
Obsession Social media sleuths spark nationwide interest in case of missing woman By Will Gaffey
ello, hello and good morning,” was how YouTuber and Instagram influencer Gabby Petito greeted her 171,000 subscribers on the morning of Aug. 19. She and fiancé Brian Laundrie amassed a sizable following by their road trip through the nation. Their videos often consisted of drone shots, beach clips and camping. However, this life of travel came to an end when Gabby Petito’s remains were found on Sept. 19, exactly a month after the video was posted and a little more than a week after she was reported missing by her mother. The medical examiner said her cause of death was strangulation. Laundrie was named a person of interest after he returned home with the van while Gabby Petito was still missing. On Oct. 20, human remains were found at the site where the FBI had been searching for Laundrie along with a backpack and notebook. Both were confirmed to be Laundrie’s, ending about a month-long manhunt for him. The case quickly blew up on social media. According to Insider, Instagram accounts dedicated to Gabby Petito’s case began to appear, gaining thousands of followers. Miranda Baker, a woman who claims to have seen Laundrie hiking while the police were searching for him, is the owner of one of these accounts. She has grown her profile to over 300,000 followers over this past month after making only nine
posts about the case on TikTok. “I feel like some people like Miranda Baker have truly been helping with the case with the goodwill of [Gabby Petito’s] family in mind, but I think that there is always going to be some people who see a trend like this one and hop on it in order to get their own 15 minutes of fame,” sophomore Harrison Norris said. Norris was first introduced to the case through TikTok and continued
and divulge information, sometimes even without knowing that it can be critical to a criminal case.” That being said, Rowden points out any information collected from social media or websites must be corroborated for credibility. Because of social media’s Involvement, some people took matters into their own hands during the searches for Gabby Petito and Laundrie. Duan Chapman, better known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, started to search for Laundrie on his own before his remains were found, claiming Laundrie’s sudden disappearance was a sign of guilt. “Normally, I’d say really it’s kind of rare to enlist the public,” Rowden said. “It’s only in those cases where those circumstances exist, so it’s fairly rare.” Having platforms such as TikTok and Instagram jump on the Gabby Petito bandwagon has allowed for
You have people who get on social media and divulge information, sometimes even without knowing that it can be critical to a criminal case.”
following it out of interest. Mark Rowden, Chief of Police for the Highland Park Independent School District, has worked on several missing persons cases that have gained national attention, but he is unable to speak on specifics. Cases like Gabby Petito’s often become highly publicized through social media because of specific circumstances such as who is involved and why. “It’s an investigative tool just like anything else,” Rowden said. “Especially in this day and time, you have people who get on social media
a broader audience to learn about the case. Junior Lillian Touchstone became so involved with following Petito’s case that she did a project over it for her AP seminar class. Like Rowden, she is skeptical of the information being presented to her. “I’ve heard many different stories,” she said. “Justice for Gabby is all that really matters. However, we can’t blame Brian yet because we do not know what really happened.” It isn’t only social media that has taken a liking to this case. News outlets have begun regurgitating information found on social media
after it’s explosion in popularity. Major news publications began covering Gabby Petito’s disappearance after seeing how much attention it was drawing. This reaction from the media pushed critics to raise the question of why similar cases pertaining to people of color don’t receive the same amount of attention. At least 710 indigenous people have gone missing in Wyoming County, as reported by Wyoming’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Task Force. This is the same place where Petito disappeared, yet awareness of each of their cases has been exponentially lower than that of Gabby Petito’s case. Furthermore, a study conducted by the United States Department of Justice from 19782005 concluded homicide rates of white people are actually the lowest. Because of the disproportionate media coverage, Gabby Petito’s case has been marked as missing white woman syndrome. At a news conference in Long Island, New York, Petito’s father, Joe, told reporters that his daughter’s case should not have more importance than any other missing person’s case. However, Joe Petito has shown appreciation for all of the people who have put forth their unconditional effort to solve all cases like this, such as the FBI. “From the aspect of the investigation, though, all investigations get the same amount of attention,” Rowden said. “It’s not something that just because the news media’s talking about it more that we pay more attention to it. You don’t see the attention that it gets on the investigative side simply because of the fact that a lot is confidential.” Gabby Petito’s case is yet to be solved, but social media’s influence continues to grow as more and more information comes to light about what really happened. Still though, there’s just as much misinformation still being spread.
“We need to educate children on how to find reliable sources,” Touchstone said. “We need to teach
them how to form credible opinions instead of believing everything that is heard on social media.”
Graphic by Kimmie Johansen
Bagpipe Staff 2021-2022 Editors Editors-in-Chief Lucy Gomez Jeneta Nwosu Managing Editor Sarah Small Web Editors-in-Chief Reese Greenlee Kimmie Johansen Features and Opinions Editors Zoie Carlile Elise Laharia Photo Editor Alexis Jackson
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