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IB | PAGE 10






Midland High School | November 27, 2013 | Volume 36, Issue 3


of students are lesbian, gay, transgender, or bisexual

To read more about the GSA club turn to page 8-9

Scout Parsch | Infographic

SPECIAL REPORT: Students learn to advance with different forms of Autism.

Volume 36 Issue 3



17 22




03 Editorial 04-07 Opinion 08-09 Gay, Straight, Alliance 10 IB Profile 11 New Superintendent 12-13 Senior Pictures 14 Girls & Boys Basketball 15 Becca Singer’s Injury

16 Sports Corner 17 Jon Evans 18 What is Autism? 19 Autism in the Family 20-21 Living with Autism 22 Ads & Humane Society 23 Television to Youtube 24 Anayze your dreams



Scout Parsch Editor in Chief Jack Duly Managing Editor Katie McIntyre News Editor Maddy Wheelock Features Editor Michael Adams A&E Editor Emily Resmer Sports Editor Kyle Blackwood Opinion Editor Sarah Wontorcik Photo Editor Mercedes Hussein Design Editor Emily Fisher Ad Coordinator Hannah Lasky Exchange Editor Michelle Demo Website Editor Jim Woehrle Adviser Midland Daily News Printer

If something annoys you about us, school, or life in general, write a letter to the editor. If something amuses you about us, school, or life in general, write a letter to the editor. If we got something wrong, write a letter to the editor. If it’s coherent and under 300 words, we’ll run it. Drop them off at room 345 with your name.

OUR MISSION STATEMENT Focus established in 1977, previously the Vic Tribune established in 1936, is the official school sponsored newspaper of Midland High School. Focus is published monthly by the journalism classes at Midland High School and is distributed free of charge. It is a member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA), the Michigan Interscholastic Press

Association (MIPA), and Quill and Scroll. Adviser membership also includes the Journalism Education Association (JEA). Focus is designed as a forum for student expression and as a realistic lab experience. Focus, however, reserves the right to contest the challenge of an administrator who attempts to censor and/ or remove an article or graphic element.


Balancing books

Though the IB program requires extensive work and greater depth, some students find the effort worthwhile when they receive college credit

What do you think? Do you think that the IB program is beneficial?

“I think that getting the certificates is worth while but I don’t think that the diploma is.” Freshman Jayden Williams

For many IB students, time is just another number. Many work deep into the night, still typing, reading, and studying until the work is done. Though time management is key in undertaking the IB diploma program, hours and hours can tick by and yet the students remain planted in their seats, eyes glued to their books and computers until every page has been read and every fact memorized. For other students, the simple two letters, IB, are daunting. Any class prefaced with these letters is immediately crossed off when selecting schedules. They know that the class will be held to a much higher academic standard than other classes. The time that these classes will take up will be much more than these students have to dedicate to a single class. That is why we believe that the IB program is beneficial to some but not all students. Midland High has chosen to allow students who are not applying for the International Baccalaureate diploma to still have the opportunity to take IB classes and acquire certificates for them. This makes the IB program as a whole very beneficial to a wide variety of students. It allows students who are seeking high-level courses to tailor the certificates that they earn to what will fit in their schedule. This gives wider access to more of the student body to get involved with the IB program without having to get the diploma.

Because of the amount of time required to reach the requirements for the IB diploma, many kids cannot commit to taking all of these classes. However, by taking only the classes that they have time for, this allows students to still be a part of the IB program and still benefit from what it has to offer without the “all or nothing” idea. However, even the certificates are not for everyone. Though some classes require more work than others, many IB classes require a significant time commitment in order to be successful. For many students who are very involved in a lot of extracurricular activities, it can be much more difficult to find time to meet standards of the class than those of a .3 non-IB class, thus making it less appealing to those with more out of school activities. For the students who are able to take HL (higher level) IB courses, the payoffs can be tremendous. If students score high enough on the IB tests for their classes, they can receive college credit. This can save students thousands of dollars and can also allow them to take a lighter class load in their first year of college. However, for SL (standard level) IB classes, most colleges will not grant any credits for these scores. While the testing environment is still good practice for college, some may not be worth the stress of studying if the payoff is not financially significant and IB becomes less appealing to those in SL classes.

Christiana Haight | Illustration

Overall IB has many qualities that benefit a variety of students; however, the big leap between .2 and normal .3 level classes and IB classes is so big that many times there is no option for students who do not want to take low-level classes but are not able to commit to IB classes. Midland High could consider replacing some of the SL IB classes with regular .3 classes to accommodate the students who need a middle-level class. This will help those who are not currently benefitting from the IB program but still want to take challenging classes. The school should offer courses that still carry .3-level rigor without all of intensive extra work found in a typical IB class. Another way to help the students who still wish to take difficult classes, but do not have the necessary time to commit to IB classes, is to divide the classroom requirements. Many IB courses have projects and assignments that would not be otherwise required if not mandated by IB. Perhaps these assessments should only be required for students who are working toward an IB diploma or certificate. This may be at the discretion of the teacher, but such a policy would encourage those wishing to take difficult classes (but do not have the time to commit to a standard IB class) more likely to sign up for those classes. By implementing some of these changes, we believe that the IB program would be more beneficial to a wider range of students.

“Yes, because it looks good on a college application and broadens a students horizons” Sophomore Bryce Thomas

“No, because it is no different from any other class” Junior Luke White

“Yes, it is beneficial to individual students as they go off to college, because it can benefit them then but not as much as in high school” Senior Kayla Beebe | FOCUS | 03



If anyone knows me personally, they can describe me in one word: pessimistic. I am known to have a small problem with the idea of hatred, but that didn’t stand in my way as I typed this letter (as opposed to burning down the Focus office). The last issue of the Focus had a theme of “fandoms”. Now before you flock to your Tumblr page, calm down. I noticed a very similar theme to all of the television shows presented in the centerspread: they are over the top, sciencefictiony productions. I normally would skip that page, but it bothered me that MY fandom was left out. My fandom of a realistic, comedic, classic television show that is overlooked in the eyes of this freak-show generation. That’s right; I am talking about Gilmore Girls. Now before you call your aunt and ask what that show is, I will elaborate. Gilmore Girls takes you through the life of a single mother named Lorelai with her daughter, Rory, and the heart warming experiences they have in the small town of Stars Hollow. I don’t want to spoil anything, or make myself cry from the thought of the best television show of all time, but I will advise you to watch it. It beats How I Met Your Mother or whatever you kids watch these days. It teachers you more life lessons than Uncle Si and it’s funnier than a crying Kardashian. So Midland High please, put down Molly, skip that next sporting event (spoiler alert: we win), and let the best experience of your life occur before your eyes all night long. In the words of Lorelai Gilmore, “If you’re gonna throw your life away, he’d better have a motorcycle!” XOXO Andrew Johnson

PUZZLE OF THE MONTH Thanksgiving day feast words search


Opinion Section

The youth groups story were incorrectly listed on the cover as being on page 9. Hopefully there will be divine intervention next time to stop us from making that mistake.

We apologize for the numerous amounts of errors in the opinion section last month. Also, contrary to popular belief Nate Fisher does not have a ‘g face.’ Our bad.

What defines a sport?

Tuesday: Teach a three minute dance routine to eighteen girls within two hours, while also trying to keep a room full of teenage girls paying enough attention to learn it. Thursday: Perfect it. Friday: Perform it. Repeat. This is my weekly lifestyle during football season as a pommer. Pom-pon isn’t like any normal sport; it’s almost a combination of cheerleading and high kick dance. Pom differs from other sports for obvious reasons. Multiple people choose to display their opinions on social media sites about how pom-pon can’t be a sport, considering that all we do is “run three laps and call it good.” I find it hard to believe these people would have any knowledge of what it’s like to be on the pom team, since I haven’t seen any one of them at pom tryouts yet. What really makes pom so unique compared to other sports like basketball or volleyball is the fact that we are given only three minutes to show the judges and fans how good our team can really be. We don’t have the extra points, there’s no overtime, we just walk out and give the routine all we’ve got. If one person messes up, she drags the entire team down in a matter of seconds; one misplaced arm and the entire routine loses value. If a teammate decides she just isn’t feeling like trying that day, we don’t just bench them; pulling a girl out would not only skew every formation in the routine, but also throw off the balance of the dance moves that are coordinated with our pom-pon’s colors. And it’s not like this is a rare occasion. Only a week before our Rhapsody performance a girl decided to just call it and not come to practice.

We then all had to pick up the slack, including rewriting sections of the routine because we now have an odd number of girls, taking up most of our practice time for the day, with only two practices left. Not only does pom have very few practice days during the week, but we also have very little time to create new routines, teach them to the team, and perfect them. Most times, we will have a new routine to make up and perform each week, making it very stressful to keep all of the different routines straight in your head. By the end of football season I will have at least six routines I am trying to memorize and keep separated in my head. If speed learning is not one of your strengths, good luck even making it through the Tuesday of tryouts. Now, on to the creative aspect of being a pommer. Reusing routines we’ve already performed would just be too easy; instead, we learn a new routine for each game. Each year we have to force ourselves to come up with new and creative dance routines, hoping to match the level of difficulty of other teams in our division for competition season. After watching numerous YouTube videos of State competition winners, we slowly piece together our competition routine nearly two months after our winter season starts. This is the routine that will prove to the judges exactly what our team can do skill-wise and as a unit. So if you’re still convinced pom-pon shouldn’t be considered a “real sport,” as if learning a routine in three days isn’t a challenge, proving yourself in three minutes isn’t a huge weight on your shoulders, and depending on your teammates to pull through at the last second isn’t stressful at all, by all means come to tryouts and see for yourself. Tuesday: Learn a three minute routine and the fight song in two hours, with at least forty other girls in the room doing the same thing. Wednesday: Perfect them both. Thursday: Perform them. And after all of that, try to tell me again how pom isn’t really a sport.


This year the Focus is trying something new. Similar to Where’s Waldo?, Vic will be hidden anywhere throughout the paper each month. The first person to find Vic, take a picture, and tweet it at @MHSFocus1 wins a free 44 oz. Speedway slurpee. Make sure to tweet it with a flavor and your 5th hour teacher. Happy hunting, and may the odds be ever in your favor. 04 | FOCUS | NOV 27,, 2013

*the Vic on this page does not count

Coffee Shop Reviews


Across town, Starbucks, Journeys, Coffee Chaos and Espresso Milano have provided people with warm coffee, various desserts and a comforting atmosphere. Focus adds our reviews on the overall experience received from all of those local coffee shops. Mercedes Hussein | Design Editor

Journeys Coffee Shop


Entering Espresso Milano, you get the vibe that this is a coffee shop for teenagers and adults by the darker lighting and background music. The coffee shop has very condensed spacing. It has a range from high top tables to a few regular tables. The customers all speak softly to each other, which gives off the intentions that you have to be quiet while inside of here. This is not the coffee shop to come to with your study group or loud friends. However, Espresso Milano provides an excellent drink that cannot be found anywhere else in town: the Mudslide. Tasting the unique drink gives off the refreshing, chilling taste that leaves you wanting another one. The Mudslide is the key characteristic that makes Espresso Milano stand out opposed to the other coffee shops in town. The prices are a little more expensive though. A 10 ounce drink is around $3.25, which is the smallest serving size for coffee drinks. Overall, Espresso Milano has a warm vibe for the mature crowd. It’s the perfect place to go for some alone time, working on homework, and tasting the unique Mudslide.

Journeys: An act of traveling from one place to another Walking into Journeys, the most eye catching characteristics that stick out to the public are the inspirational words on the wall. There are numerous Bible verses, uplifting quotes, a song lyric, and the definition of journeys (listed above) on the walls. One thing that really makes Journeys stand out is the long bar area. That’s one of the unique characteristics Journeys provides because the majority of coffee shops don’t have bars.

Along with the long bar area, the amount of space there is a lot bigger than the typical condensed coffee shop. There are different kinds of tables, chairs, and couches to sit on, which provide the perfect variety for everybody. Additional to all of that, Journeys has a mini stage area in the back of the shop where they host bands and other artists. Journeys gives off a welcoming, warm atmosphere. The baristas have smiles on their faces, are friendly and helpful towards customers, and create a vibe that makes you feel comfortable being there. The pumpkin spice latte, the signature drink of the season, is very sweet and perfectly accented the latte. It is a great taste of fall. It is fresh, warm and homemade. This is the kind of place you could gather at with your friends for some intense



Coffee Chaos provides excellent service with their overly friendly baristas. The baristas seem to have an advanced work ethic while making the drinks very quickly compared to other coffee shops in Midland. The white mocha is a great tasting drink. It’s very sweet yet still had the bitter taste of coffee to add. If you wanted a place to meet with someone to have a pleasant, loud conversation with, Coffee Chaos would be the place. Along with the space, Coffee Chaos has a drive-thru, which makes it stand out because only few coffee shops do. It’s convenient and quick if someone is not looking to go inside of a coffee shop or is crunched for time. Coffee Chaos has a wide variety of areas to sit, which is perfect if you need quiet time or wish to have time to yourself. Coffee Chaos provides a friendly, comforting atmosphere along with a positive overall mood with the bright painting, as well as a plethora of windows and appropriate lighting to give the shop a welcoming appearance.

This is the typical coffee addict’s favorite place to go. Starbucks. Once you walk through the doors of this coffee shop, the eye opening aroma welcomes you to stay. Starbucks is the most commonly known coffee shop and is located just about everywhere you would travel in the United States. Although it is very cliché, it’s never a letdown or bad choice to go treat yourself to a coffee from here. The baristas are very friendly, maintaining a smile throughout the busy days. They actively work to provide the cravings of desserts, smoothies, mochas and scones to their customers. What makes Starbucks so unique is how when someone goes in at least three times within one week, they will have your name and order usually memorized. With some customers who go in on a regular basis, they know their names, orders, what time of day to expect them and the car they will most likely be driving. In some cases, Starbucks baristas will see a regular customer coming and have the drink ready before they

studying. If studying isn’t what you are into, Journeys has an event called “The Gathering Night,” also referred to as “Game Night,” every Tuesday night. Journeys is the place for friends and families to come together for a place to talk and enjoy each other’s company. Journeys even has an award they won on the wall called the “Family friendly business award.” Usually coffee shops would not be considered somewhere to bring a family but Journeys contradicts that thought by the atmosphere they put off, allowing children to feel welcomed and have a good time as well. The downtown location also gives Journeys a fun vibe, and creates a very diverse range of customers. Next time you’re taking a stroll downtown, stop into Journeys and grab a pumpkin spice.

1. Espresso Milano 2. Coffee Chaos 3. Starbucks even placed their order. Also, the baristas work very hard at memorizing the voices through the speaker of the drive-thru. That is another way shows the passion they have for pleasing their customers. Their signature drink for the season is the Caramel Brule. It can definitely be added to the addicting category of drinks. It had the perfect caramel and coffee quench and makes you promise yourself to come back in the morning for another. You can never go wrong with choosing Starbucks. Even though the space is condensed, they have very convenient and comfortable seating. One of the main dessert choices of Starbucks are the cake-pops. There are three choices, the birthday cake pop, caramel with sea salt pop, and the double chocolate pop. After biting into the cake-pop, the soft, and sweet cake is a step up from average cake-pops. So go and order the Caramel Brule or one of the addicting cake pops every day for the rest of the week and the baristas will know you by heart. | FOCUS | 05


First floor problems So one day a few weeks ago I was simply minding my own business, walking back from my second hour located on the second floor to my locker, located on the first floor, when I was hit by a powerful, soul-crippling odor that almost knocked me back into the eleventh grade. It smelled like a pasture of cow manure sprinkled with dead animals organs, on steroids. As I made my way through the crowd of people with sweatshirts pulled over their nose to my locker, I took as few breaths as possible. Expressions of pure disgust and confusion reflected on each individual’s face, wondering of such a repugnant smell could possibly emerge into a public place. And it wasn’t just my hallway, it was the entire first floor. As if matters couldn’t get any worse for us level one inhabitants, a group of geniuses got together and formed the conclusion that an overwhelming amount of cheap perfume could counteract the smell. The foul stench seemed to rise to the occasion, overpowering the perfume and cologne to remain a factor in each breath. So they thought, “We need to spray more!” Now there was a mix of cheap perfume and the deathly smell, which was arguably worse than the original odor. An event this horrible and disgusting can be made home to such a place as the first floor. The alleged septic break altercation is not the only stink-related conflict that has arisen in recent memory. Some may recall the spoiled chocolate milk incident from last year. Some moron left a bottle of chocolate milk in his/her locker for months, and then decided to finally throw it away, spilling it on the floor in the process. I was not a witness, but I heard that the viscosity of the milk was nearing that of a solid, and was hardly identifiable as milk. Not to mention, the stench was simply putrid.

The Bechdel Test 06 | FOCUS | NOV 27, 2013


Random pieces of information told in less than 50 words More than

Only on the first floor would such a pungent catastrophe occur. Another annoyance the first floor natives have to withstand is the loading dock in the winter. Personally, my locker is almost directly across from the loading dock. The implications of this unfortunate location of locker is having to endure the icy winds that howl from the depths of the mysterious courtyard. The doors often remain open for long periods of time, dropping temperatures significant degree amounts in the afflicted areas. An innocent third or second-floorer may never have to deal with this vexation, but for us poor first-floorers, it’s an “on the reg” problem in the wintry months. Abe Lincoln once said, “A floor divided cannot stand,” or something like that, anyways. Although us that hail from the first floor may come from our separate walks of life, we do not let our first floor problems divide us further, rather, they give us something in common. I feel as though it has helped to mold me into who I am today. There is a special bond between those who have called the first floor their home. Being able to look at the people around you, knowing that they go through the same first floor problems as you, is comforting. We are able to deal with the conflicts presented, not on an individual level, but as a floor united. We stand together as one. We are. First floor. Pick one of your favorite movies and ask yourself the following questions: Does it have two or more named female characters? Do they talk to each other at any point in the film? And last, do they talk to each other about something other than a man? If you said no to any of those questions, that movie has not passed something called the Bechdel Test. This test rates movies depending the answer to the above three questions, which, disturbingly, are hard standards to find. Many of Sweden’s cinemas have recently taken up the use of this test in order to rate the movies and assess the gender bias present, something that I feel the US should adopt as well. I know that some of you are thinking that those questions are arbitrary. But try doing it backwards; can you think of a single movie

10,000 The number of Midland residents that lost power during the storm on Nov. 17.

3 THINGS you don’t have to worry about this month

1 2 3

Knowing if your generator is working. Whether or not we’ll beat Dow high in football this year *cough 97-34 *. The Cold War.

and one thing you still do...


Tweet OF THE Month No school tomorrow my house is 30 degrees and I’ve run into 3 walls already but it’s worth it

Follow THIS User

Stuffing yourself with too much mashed potatoes and gravy and not having room for that homemade apple pie.


where there aren’t two or more named male characters that talk to each other about something other than women? While few movies pass the Bechdel Test concerning female characters, virtually every single one does for males. Even films that are labeled as “girly”, such as the Disney princess movies, include this important standard for males. Passing this test doesn’t make the movies necessarily good or bad, but it addresses a scary issue in the media. Did you know that males have outnumbered females in family films 3 to 1 since 1946? This is according to research done by the USC Annenburg School for Communication & Journalism. 3 to 1. For 67 years. Currently, females make up more than half of the United State’s population and yet, they’re being portrayed as a minority. Ratatouille. How to Train Your Dragon. Inception, the entire ten hour long Lord of the Rings, Star wars, Lion King, all but one of the

Harry Potters, Avatar, Aladdin, Identity Thief, Toy Story, and The Bourne Identity. Few people notice consciously, but subtle messages make a difference when they’re expressed enough times and that’s what I fear is happening. Not only are women told to behave and look certain ways, but in a scary fashion and especially in children’s movies, they’re completely omitted. Occasionally there’s that token female; but she’s usually the support for the male lead that’s out to win back the throne, destroy the bad guys, go on adventures, or win the contest. Women are important. Whether subtle or blatant, sexism still prevails in the movie industry and sends harmful messages to both males and females that women are not an equal part of everyday life. Women are capable and valuable and they are most certainly not a minority.


The horrors of baby-sitting Sitting on the floor of the playroom, I watched the two little girls I babysit viciously brush the hair of their Barbies. The oldest one looked up at me to ask for help after her brush got tangled in a gigantic knot. She moved forward to hand me the doll but stopped half way. Her big blue eyes met mine, but suddenly shifted to focus on something behind me. “Miss Jordan,” she said, “there’s a little boy walking in the air behind you.” I pondered her comment for a moment, trying to figure out exactly what she was saying. She repeated it again still staring at whatever had grasped her attention. Fear poured over me. I became frozen, not wanting to believe what I was hearing. Refusing to turn around, I hesitantly asked her if he was still there. “He has brown hair and he’s wearing red and blue,” she said, ignoring my question. She went back to ripping the brush out of her Barbie’s hair, a clump coming out with it, and proceeded with her playing as if nothing had ever happened. I, however, wanted nothing more than to leave the house that I would from now on consider haunted. Later that day when the girls’ mom got home, I told her about what had happened. She looked confused and bewildered at first, but then the confusion and bewilderment wiped of her face and she told me that her nephew had died when he was young. I looked at her blankly, thanked her for the money she owed me, and hurriedly walked out the door. A few weeks later while sitting in the basement, I watched the eyes of the youngest one travel from one end of the basement to the other then suddenly wince at the

The girl in the leotard

I am a SLIder

knocking over of a Lego house that was nowhere near either of us. After many more paranormal happenings at their house, including the slamming of doors and turning on of electrical devices, I decided to research the psychic abilities children are said to have. I came across a study conducted in 2004, which found that children who have psychic abilities most often communicate with deceased family members. The study also included that the apparitions mostly occur in a home environment. Out of curiosity, I asked the girls if they had ever seen a ghost before. “Yeah,” the youngest one replied casually, “in a book.” I asked which book she had seen these ghosts in, only to find the answer was in a picture book: a picture book with her and her sister. One night, shortly after I had found out the girls could not only communicate with their deceased relatives but see them, I went to shut the blinds in the back of the house. “Stop!” the youngest one said. I stopped, wondering what I was doing wrong. The reflection of the TV flickered in the window as I stood facing it. “The people in the woods like to watch the TV.” My hand slowly removed itself from the blinds as I stood in a trance looking out the window into the woods, praying there wasn’t someone out there looking back at me.

I am afraid to be on the streets at night. By “on the streets” I don’t mean like wandering alleys in the ghetto or buying drugs from a crack addict. No, I mean driving my little Pontiac down Washington Street. It’s not crime that I worry about (let’s be honest here, we live in Midland). Really, it’s the streetlights that terrify me. I’m fully aware of how strange it is to be afraid of streetlights. And really it isn’t the streetlights themselves that frighten me, it is the fear of them going off. You see, I am a self-diagnosed/ Google diagnosed SLIder (the SLI stands for street light interference.) This means that as I pass by, an uncanny number of streetlights go out. Granted this is not a scientifically proven phenomenon, more of a Wikipedia proven phenomenon but regardless, I can’t go out past dusk without at least one or two streetlights dimming out as I pass by them. I’m sure that you all think that I’m crazy and paranoid and that there is no way that the streetlights going out has anything to do with me. Believe me, that’s what I thought at first too. But as the years have gone on, I have come to terms with my SLIder identity. One night this summer, I was out for a walk with my mom. One streetlight went out as we passed below it. I didn’t think anything of it; after all, that was normal for me. Then another went out. Then another. We kept walking on and it became darker. We were getting close to our house again; I was excited to be near the refuge of my room, safe from the darkness that literally followed me. As we passed below another streetlight it flickered then dimmed to black. Then it flashed bright light, illuminating the entire street, then fizzled back to darkness.

I remember the first time I felt too big. I was comparing my weight with girls at dance rehearsal. I couldn’t have been much older than ten, my metabolism still running strong, but all the same, I managed to feel guilty for the whopping 60 pounds that I was. Sometimes I still look in the mirror and berate myself for not being thin enough. It doesn’t matter how much someone weighs—at some point, we all experience the shame of being looked at negatively. I’m not sure when our society decided that “fat” was one of the worst things that a human could be, but I am sure that it is one of the worst things our society has decided. Most people in our culture, especially girls, have grown up around the idea that the less you eat, the more accepted you will be. Girls are expected to grow inward rather than outward, hiding their binges on Christmas cookies as if they didn’t deserve them. The calorie count becomes a race, and the one who has the most ribs sticking out wins. This

standard that women feel they need to uphold has, in many cases, led to life-threatening illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia. A few years ago, I read a quote that changed my life. In 2006, JK Rowling responded to criticism about her characters by asking, “Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me… I’ve got two daughters… and frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones rather than PansyParkinsons.” Maybe it was just my undying devotion to JK Rowling that made this quote so important to me, but after hearing it, I began to look at “fat” in an entirely new way. It’s not “fat” that is bad. It’s the way we throw around the word. Never have I heard someone use the term to mean anything less than derogatory. Insults have stolen

In the time that it took me to pass below it, the streetlight did this twice, ultimately leaving us running to our house in the pitch black, considering how I had burned out pretty much all the streetlights in our neighborhood. Four streetlights in one walk is outrageous. I regularly put out one or two when I drive at night, but my SLIder connection must be strongest while I’m on foot. Fortunately, I’m not alone. According to Yahoo answers, there is a whole community of SLIders just waiting for their voices to be heard. I guess I can’t complain too much because some of these people even put their own house lights out. I bet they spend a fortune on light bulbs annually. That would be a rough life, not even being safe from the phenomenon in your own home. Others will inadvertently turn on and off toys that make noise when they walk down toy aisles in store. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be just minding your own business and then off goes “Tickle me Elmo”. Even though apparently I am not as strong of a SLIder as some people out there I would still consider it quite a skill. Some people are athletic, some people are gorgeous, some are geniuses, others can sing or play an instrument; me, I am a SLIder. I can turn streetlights off with my mere presence. Unfortunately, my talent is not ideal for college and job applications. It seems that others don’t find it to be a terribly marketable skill. the word from us—but we can take it back. Make “fat” be a prideful statement; or at least an indifferent one. I don’t want to hear any comments about being “worried for fat people’s health.” Weight is not an absolute indication of fitness, and no one really cares that the woman they see on the street is unhealthy. They care that she’s fat. The standard that women are held to in order to be considered “pretty” is outrageous. We should not feel ashamed of who we are, or feel doomed to become society’s least favorite adjective: fat. A woman should be able to walk down the street in a pair of shorts without being afraid of being mocked. A woman should not feel pressured to keep her weight low so her boyfriend will stay with her. A little girl should not have to question how she looks in a leotard and a pair of ballet shoes, hips sticking out at awkward angles. | FOCUS | 07




not tolerating


Midland High’s Gay Straight Alliance club officers juniors Cara Mitrano, Audrey Thomas, and Jake Strait hold a sticker provided by that is often used to symbolize the safe space that the students in the club work to achieve. Scout Parsch | Photo

8 | FOCUS | NOV 27, 2013



As the students continue to grow and find their sexual identity, many have voiced the need for a Gay Straight Alliance club to help others feel accepted. The newly formed club creates a “safe space” for lesbian, gay, transgender, or bisexual students, along with their allies. Scout Parsch | Editor-in-Chief


omplete isolation. Without many friends GLAD to be created for years at Midland High, or family members to help her, Donice the advisors Geib and Heather Aviles were able Hannegan fought the battle to become to gain approval from the board, along with accepted for who she really is: a lesbian. After the support from the students. Amongst many struggling through all of high school and nearly of the administration and staff strongly agreed seven years as an employee at Dow Chemical, with the need for the club, vice principal Kandis it was not until 2002 when she cofounded the Pritchett found the club to be something that Gays, Lesbians, and Allies at Dow (GLAD) should have been created years in the past, and organization to help out others in her situation. originally helped to initiate the club. GLAD was first created once she realized that “I feel Midland High students are amazingly the company was in need of a “safe space.” This accepting and respect diversity,” Pritchett said. term is often used when talking about those “I didn’t give it a second thought of allowing who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender this opportunity.” (LGBT), meaning a welcoming, supportive, and Along with Pritchett, many staff members safe environment for LGBT employees, along work to create a safe space, not only in the club, with their allies. Allies are those who are willing but in the classrooms. Aviles and Geib have met to support a person being discriminated, while with the faculty to present their ideas about the working to end oppression. GLAD provides this club, hoping to convince teachers to monitor safe space for all employees, regardless of their their classes more by watching the language sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender and actions of students, especially those using expression, hoping to promote acceptance of derogatory terms such as “that’s gay” or “fag.” these employees throughout the work place Not only are these words stereotypical, but and community. they also cast a harsh light on those students “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever been who are LGBT. through in my life,” Hannegan said. “If there’s “We can’t change the way people think anything I but we can can do help “IF THERE’S ANYTHING I CAN DO TO HELP change the way another kid people behave ANOTHER KID TO NEVER HAVE TO GO a n d w h a t ’ s to never THROUGH THAT AGAIN, I WILL DO WHAT- a c c e p t a b l e have to go through that behavior,” EVER I CAN FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.” again, I will Aviles said. DONICE HANNEGAN do whatever I While the can for the rest advisors work of my life.” to create a safe space for their students, the Only a few weeks ago, Midland High’s Gay officers of the club, juniors Cara Mitrano, Jacob Straight Alliance (GSA) club had the opportunity Strait, and Audrey Thomas, work to start up to have Hannegan as a guest speaker during one their first fundraisers. They just recently were of their meetings. As the founder of GLAD, she provided $75 of funding from the magazine came in to talk to the students about how things drive and plan to use it to not only write up a really do become better, and that many will not constitution of the student’s rights within the feel the need to hide themselves, even in your club, but also to buy supplies for the fundraiser their setting. they plan to carry through first, making rainbow “They were excited to hear about all the metal bracelets. The group plans to have a support they have in the community,” said person come in to a meeting to demonstrate Midland’s GSA club advisor Ana Geib. “[Many how to make the bracelets and later hope to sell people] don’t think that Midland is a community these around school to promote the acceptance that is supportive, and yet the biggest employer of LGBT students and their allies. in Midland is very supportive. It was very Aside from getting the school involved in emotional to hear.” supporting the club, they also want to make an After pushing for this club similar to Dow’s effort to include the middle schools, focusing

N mainly on students that will be arriving to MHS from Northeast in the next few years. The group has made an effort to contact the school administrators, trying to work out a way they would be able to set up an optional assembly to inform students of how much better things can be in the future at MHS, similar to the inspiring speech given to them from the Dow employee, Hannegan. “If a middle school student discovers that they are LGBT but feels that they will not be accepted, then that student could try to repress who he or she really is,” Mitrano said. “By reaching out to these developing teenagers, we will be able to spread the message that it’s okay to be whoever you are and show them that there is a safe space for them in high school.” Although the club currently consists of a small group of twelve students, they hope to get the word out to more students about the club and what their focus is. The advisors and officers really work hard to keep privacy a priority when thinking about the club members. “We don’t want anyone to be targeted by other kids, saying they must be gay for being in the club,” Geib said. “We want it to be up to them if people know about it, even if they are only allies.” The club does not always have a set agenda for each meeting; instead, the officers talk about what they feel needs to be addressed and discussed by with all of the members. While the club is most often student led, the advisers currently have a larger role as they plan out the club’s constitution. This freedom aids in differing the club from others in the school, and it may even appeal to a student more because the students have the chance to take charge and express themselves and their beliefs in a more relaxed setting. “I think that having student leadership is always a good thing, especially with something like GSA,” Strait said. “It shows that students can do a lot to help out in the community, and it is a lot more fun for the members.” Although the club has had a limited amount of meetings since they only meet every other Thursday, they try to get the word out on the weekdays by using the school announcements and posters. The students especially believe that word-of-mouth is the best way to get the club’s meetings time circulating around the school. The club was created to provide other students with a safe space, and by informing the student body of their goals, they can reach out to students who are looking for a welcoming group of friends, a way to get involved in LGBT activism and education, and a feeling of belonging and security at school. “It is a fact of life, and it is a part of our high school,” Pritchett said. “I would never want a student to not feel comfortable coming to school, and I would never want a student to not feel safe, and if this helps to know that they’ve got someone to go to, then I think we’ve done our job.”





Midland High’s

needs one

84.6 % 30

of LGBT students report being verbally harassed due to their sexual orientation

% of LGBT students have About skipped class at least once in the past month because they don’t feel comfortable at school MOST LGBT students who are

harassed in school did not report it to the staff.


Gay Straight Alliance Club

Nation School Climate Survey | Information



Create a “safe space” for all LGBT students at Midland High and their allies, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Myth vs.


a supportive, welcoming, and safe environment for lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender students and their allies


an individual who is willing to support a person or group being discriminated against, working to end oppression

GSA club | Information


Advisers | Ana Geib

Heather Aviles



If a school has a LGBT club it supports their lifestyle and should not be allowed in schools.


There is no “LGBT lifestyle” and they are people just like all of the other students.


Only LGBT students should participate in the GSA club.


The actions of GSA can be supported by anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Scout Parsch | Infographic | FOCUS | 9





The few, the proud, the IB Whether giving an IOP at the front of the room, studying at 1 a.m., or dissecting a rat, students in IB classes show their strength despite the challenges asked of them. Kelsey Pennock| Staff Writer


henever the words “IB Diploma” are mentioned, there is a mixture of emotions that follow: respect, interest, frustration, joy, or even irritation. However, no matter how students feel, the majority will readily agree that the candidates deserve their diplomas for the amount of hard work that they put into earning them. “What the program says is this is a student who has grit,” International Baccalaureate (IB) Coordinator Carol Neff said. “This is a student who has taken the most challenging curriculum and stretched themselves, and I think it fosters tremendous growth for the students because it has such great challenges.” The IB program originally started in 1968 to help the families that moved with international corporations and were concerned about the level of education for their children. It has quickly evolved into much more than that in the past years. “The IB Program was created to guarantee a common educational standard internationally. It’s about creating well-rounded, globally minded thinkers,” Neff said. IB classes were first offered at Midland High in the fall of 2007 with the help of a grant from The Dow Chemical Company. In June of 2009, the first Diploma class graduated, paving the way for many more to follow. IB certificates can be earned through tests taken by students in their IB classes. The IB diploma is only awarded to those who score high enough on the tests for each of the six twoyear IB classes of their choosing. Students must also complete an extensive Creativity, Action and Service project, or “CAS”, take the course Theory of Knowledge, and write an extended essay (a 12-14 page research paper conducted over an 18-month period). IB candidates find out if they have earned the diploma when they receive their test scores the summer after they graduate.

L I FE O F AN I B ST UDE N T 10 | FOCUS | NOV 27, 2013

Seniors Elizabeth Ladwig, Eddie Mulford, and Caroline Mulvaney are three of the sixteen IB candidates who are striving to earn the diploma this year, despite the hard work that may appear daunting to some. All three remarked on how IB has affected their years in high school, saying that overall it has been a positive experience. “It’s definitely made my work load a lot harder but I have a more open mind,” Mulford said. “From TOK, I now ask, ‘Why?’ to absolutely everything. It has really changed the way I see things.” Ladwig agreed, adding that she draws strength from her peers who are going through similar experiences. “Honestly, I am so glad that I did it. You have all the IB diploma kids in your classes so you make new friends and can relate to everyone,” Ladwig said. Even those who have left the program have been heavily influenced. Senior Bethany Dickerson chose to drop out of the IB program at the end of her first semester junior year but feels that her efforts in IB were not wasted. “I definitely grew as a person and learned that it’s okay not to be the best in everything,” Dickerson said. “It was a growing experience where I learned a lot about myself and my limits.” Part of the reason that Dickerson left the program was because of the pressure that she faced under the challenging curriculum. Although she is a hard worker, the classes soon became too much for her to handle. “My whole life I was one of the best students but then IB happened and I wasn’t anymore,” Dickerson said. “If I got a B, that was really hard for me.” Mulvaney agreed, adding that it was also difficult for her not having the time to make all her assignments as good as she wanted them to be.

“You can’t make everything perfect. You have to spread your time out between all your classes and that’s frustrating,” Mulvaney said. Mulford commented on some of the classes that he sacrificed in order to go for the diploma, admitting that he would have taken another art class or joined some more clubs. As an IB candidate it is important to stay involved, he explained, but with the classes he is taking and the activities that he is already in, it is hard to find the time. “Having so many responsibilities can make you forget to have fun. All you want to do is finish your projects and sleep,” Ladwig said with a laugh. However, the IB candidates are willing to work hard, in part because they see the long term results. Mulvaney said that her improved

The average 2013 candidate gets

Hardest school year for an IB student


hours of sleep and hours of homework.


Senior Whitney Keenan concentrates on her lab drawing after dissecting a rat in IB Biology. Along with multiple labs, students are expected to complete an extensive IB internal assessment at the completion of the class. Michelle Demo | Photo



work ethic leaves her feeling more ready for college while Mulford hopes that being an IB candidate will help him when applying to the Grand Valley’s honors college. Helen Raica-Klotz, the Writing Center Director at SVSU, said that along with the college credit available to those who score highly on the tests, the skills learned from pushing so hard in high school are definitely worth learning. “Good thinking [is what] the IB program develops, and it is exactly what makes students not only successful in college, but successful in life - to take what you learn and apply it in different contexts, for different purposes,” Raica-Klotz said. “It also makes you an interesting person, which is never a bad thing.”

47% of

Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) projects take over


hours to complete





New superintendent, Michael Sharrow, is hoping to make some big changes in the district and increase communication between parents, faculty, and students by


reating onnections

Casey LaValley | Staff Writer & Aelish Shay | Staff Writer


child innocently colors a photo of his favorite superhero as another compares dolls with her friend in the corner of the small kindergarten classroom. The sound of their laughter can be heard throughout the halls, a sound that is seldom heard by Michael Sharrow since he took over the position of superintendent for Midland Public Schools. “I don’t necessarily regret taking this job. I just have to remind myself that it is something that I enjoy and to get out there and get into a classroom,” Sharrow said. “They say that when you are having a bad day, you should visit a kindergarten classroom. That kind of changes your outlook.” Sharrow has been in the office for nearly 100 days, but he is no stranger to the role. Sharrow was formerly the superintendent of the district in his hometown of Algonac, Michigan, and before that he has held both teaching and coaching positions at various schools throughout the country. Despite his vast amount of experience in the education system, the transition over from a small town, like Algonac, to Midland’s large school district has been a challenge for Sharrow. “My favorite job ever was being a high school principal. The reason was that I got to be around the kids all day. As frustrated as I would get at the students and what they would do sometimes, they are the fun part,” Sharrow said. “That’s the part that I miss the most. When I go to the high schools here, the students don’t know me. I really miss the fact that I could walk down the hall and someone would say ‘Mr. Sharrow, how are you doing today?’.” Sharrow’s biggest struggle so far has been not being able to visit the elementary and middle schools as often as he would like. However, Sharrow has not let the challenge get the best of him. He has been able to bring some useful

skills to his new position and the administrators are very grateful for it. “Different superintendents have different styles. He is certainly big on communication, making sure that everything is open, and that everyone in the district knows what is going on. I think that’s one of his strong suits,” Janet Greif, the principal of Midland High School, said. “He always puts the kids first in his decision making. “ Due to his communicative nature, one of Sharrow’s new policies this year is the implementation of a quarterly newsletter

Sharrow honors Northeast Middle School’s Craig Northrup with the 2013 Distinguished Service Award. Northrup was one of four recipients. Photo courtesy of Cindy Young was trying to make change in such a large organization.” Sharrow hopes that he will be able to lead the high schools in a better direction with these policies and remove the “focus school” label that has been placed on both Midland High and Dow High. The label means that the students in both schools have too large of a gap between the highest achieving students and the lowest. According to one of the new trustees on the Board of Education, Pam Singer, his leadership abilities will help him to do just that. “He does a nice job seeing and analyzing

“ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS I’VE FOUND WAS TRYING TO MAKE CHANGE IN SUCH A LARGE ORGANIZATION.” SUPER INTENDENT MICHAEL SHARROW about events in Midland Public Schools. It will be eight pages in total and it will be featured in the Midland Daily News, which comes out on Sundays. In addition to that, Sharrow is a huge supporter of including more technology in the curriculum of all schools. He started an initiative to bring iPads into schools back in Algonac and he is hoping to do the same thing in this district by reintroducing the technology millage that was previously shot down back in 2012. Sharrow’s goal is to be able to change the way that the students of Midland Public Schools learn in order to quickly match the trends of today’s world. “I think that I came in knowing that it was going to be vastly different and a little more difficult to move quickly. I grew up in a boating community, so I would say that in a small district, I was driving a speedboat,” Sharrow said. “But, in a large one like this, I might be steering a freighter. A freighter can’t turn very fast, and so one of the hardest things I’ve found

where we’re at today and he is good at recognizing student achievement,” Singer said. “He is a visionary.” Along with the learning conditions, Sharrow’s biggest concern lies with balancing the budget. Integrating iPads into schools sooner rather than later will be hard to do while there is still a budget deficit. With enrollment rates down and older schools needing improvements as well, it appears that a difficult task remains ahead for Sharrow. However, he is not about to let the stress of being the new superintendent affect the enjoyment that he gets out of his career. “I’ve changed my outlook in the years that I’ve been doing this. My stress level isn’t nearly as high as it used to be because I look at the glass half full,” Sharrow said. “Instead of looking at all of the financial issues and all of the things that we need to do, I look at the exciting new things that we are bringing into education that haven’t happened before. That’s the reason I went into this business.”

Sharrow’s Stats


students are overseen by Sharrow

Sharrow got his start in education


years ago

Snow days have to be called by

5:15 in the morning There are


administrators working in the district

Casey LaValley | Infographic | FOCUS | 11






Computers can now remove any blemish with the click of a mouse. Photo studios utilize these techn



of seniors were satisfied with their senior pictures


of seniors were happy with the edits done to their photos

Statistics compiled from a survey of a 119 seniors.

12 | FOCUS | NOV 27, 2013


Reasons to Re-Touch

he process has changed. Ten years ago he didn’t use Photoshop or digital cameras. Photographers needed the perfect lighting, backdrop, and a steady hand. Not every minor problem could be fixed. Bruce Schneider, owner of Warner Photography, remembers editing photos using negatives, he was unable to add as much detail. Every blemish had to be removed by adding dye to the negative of a photo, layering it on until the blemish became neutral with the skin. “The prints would come back and any light spots on the prints, like shine on the face or glasses glare, could actually be taken out by adding dyes and painting over mistakes if you needed to,” Schneider said. “Now you do it all at the same time on the computer.” Schneider believes that with editing programs like Photoshop it is very easy for photographers to show their clients in their best light. He has the philosophy that every client should look the best they can look. Kathy Morley, owner of Morley Studios, also runs her business with the same philosophy. Morley comments that her take on retouching photos is to make her clients look rested and have them look their age. With senior photography, Schneider wants his customer to feel good about themselves. To do this, he is a firm proponent when it comes to retouching photographs. Morley will even go to the lengths of swapping out the heads of her client in one photo, with the head of the same client in a different photo. She does this because she sometimes captures the perfect smile or emotion on one face while capturing the perfect pose on a different photo. “I have a different philosophy when it comes to photography, I want everyone to look their best. If I can make it perfect I will swap a head

to make it perfect,” Morley said. Senior Malissa Garland chose Warner Photography because her friends were crew members, seniors who are chosen to have their photos advertised, and liked Warner’s style. She got her pictures taken in May and when she got her hard copies she was impressed with the way Schneider highlighted her best features. “Wow... I wish I looked like this all the time,” said Garland. “I don’t know what else they could do to them, I’m so happy with how they turned out.” Garland mentions when she was choosing a she kept in mind that she wanted to go somewhere that emphasized her beauty, one that didn’t take their retouches too far to the point where she didn’t look like herself. “The danger of retouching is putting it in the wrong hands of people who take it too far,” Morley said. “You want it to look like that person, but have it be them on their best day, and not have it so they are blurred out and look plastic.” Morley believes that when deciding between picking a studio that retouches their photos verses a studio that doesn’t, it comes down to a personal preference. “Clients come to me because that is what they want. They want my style and my artwork. Otherwise anyone with a camera can do it. Why would anyone come to me and say I just want your pictures but not your artwork,” said Morley. “Everyone needs a little bit of editing to give them a little more dimension. It doesn’t change how you look it just enhances by taking an image on a flat piece of paper and make it look better.” Senior Malissa Garland models the effects of re-touching that most taken. This photo was helped made possible by Samantha Rayk



BLEMISHES Left click the spot healing brush tool located on the left toolbar.

Quick and easy Photoshop tips that even an amateur can do.

1. How to remove blemishes 2. How to whiten your teeth 3. How to make your eyes pop

Select the healing brush tool. Alt

Hold down ALT and click on skin around the blemish

Now click on the blemish and watch it disappear




Select the dodge tool located on the left toolbar for lightening the iris.

Select the paint brush tool located on the left toolbar. At the bottom of the left toolbar click on the white box and make it an off white color Lower the opacity of the brush to around



Lightly brush over the teeth until they are white enough.

Range: Midtones Hardness: 20% Select the burn tool located on the left toolbar fordarkening the edge of the iris and the pupil Range: Midtones Hardness: 20%

niques to varying degrees on senior pictures. By Jack Duly | Managing Editor & Emily Fisher | Ad Coordinator





Where seniors decided to go for their senior portraits. Data gathered from a survey of 119 seniors.


chose to have her senior portraits taken by Captured Photography because she liked their relaxed and unique style. She enjoyed how Evans used color to emphasize the background but still had the focus of the photo be on her. She was pleased with her photos and commented that she had a good experience working with Captured Photography. “I liked how it wasn’t posed, it was in the moment. There were no strict positions so my pictures look like a moment being captured in time,” Szymanowski said. “I think some of my photos were retouched, but it was unique to other studios, they didn’t try altering my face.” Although Evans and Carroll do not use editing software to make major enhancements to their photos, they still use programs like Photoshop and Apple Appacure to make basic retouches to their client’s photos. These are common expectations that clients have when having their senior pictures taken, and include blemish removal and making sure the skin looks healthy. Additionally, clients of Captured Photography can choose a variety of tints for their photos. “I prefer a more classic style and to keep it real with my clients,” Carroll said. Both photographers have a set style that is associated with their work. They are known not to alter their client’s photos, but to use both of their individual and unique methods to enhance the photos. “We love people and I think that it is exciting to see clients and show them themselves in a light they haven’t seen before,” Evans said. “Our goal is to capture their personality, because that’s what it should be about. We don’t want them to be plastic and posed. That would be foreign to them.”


here is one goal: when the client sees the picture, they shouldn’t feel selfconscious. They should feel confident in themselves and their photos should reflect their personalities. The photos should summarize their senior year, so students remember what they looked like and how they felt. This is the philosophy Rachel Evans, senior picture photographer at Captured Photography practices. “I want my clients to have their best side captured, but it is very important that it is still them,” Evans said. Every year, seniors make the decision on how they want to remember their senior year through their senior pictures. Photography businesses have a fine line between making seniors look the best they can or making them look like something out of a magazine. Adam Carroll, owner of Harbor Light Photography believes, along with Evans, that a senior picture should be a true reflection of the client and should not be heavily altered or retouched. “They should feel and look pretty, not sexy. They’re seniors in high school, not twenty-five year olds. I know girls can be self-conscious and we want to make them look good,” Carroll said. Since Evans and Carroll do not rely on Photoshop and other editing software to improve the quality of their photos, they take a different approach when it comes time to take their photos. When Evans gets ready to take the photo, she makes sure the client is the main focus of the image and the background doesn’t clash with the client. Evans tries to find angles the flatter her clients best, and comments that leaning forward is one of these most flattering poses. t seniors receive automatically when having their senior photos Senior Hannah Szymanowski kovitz, make-up artist. Jack Duly & Emily Fisher | Photo Illustration



A Natural Approach

10 26 9 3 57 14 | FOCUS | 13


Lady Chemics shooting for district championship L

ast season the girls’ varsity basketball team went 13-8. This year they hope improve even more. With many goals for their season, including scoring over 500 points and beating Dow High, they have a lot of work to do to get ready for the upcoming season. “We’re always shooting for Saginaw Valley, I think that’s reasonable for our squad if we can get things under wraps and come together with some cohesiveness.” Said girls varsity coach Elaine Mahabir Because of many returning starters, senior post Emily Resmer, senior shooting guard Lily Hami, and Walter, the team is very optimistic for the upcoming season. Though the team just started practicing, they have a great team chemistry that they believe will lead them to a great season. “Team chemistry really comes into play on the court,” Walter said. “You have to trust your teammates and know where they’re going to be.” Along with the early successes that the team is experiencing, they are also encountering

some setbacks. Currently, senior Hannah Lasky is unable to play because of an injury with her pattella, Hami is out with pneumonia, Walter has injured her ankle, as well as senior Mikaela Kram is experiencing some health issues. The team will also be gaining support by five freshman this year: Jayden Williams, Tara Gross, Sadie DeWildt, and Alex VanSumeren. They are eager to contribute on the court. The team will begin their season on December 3rd on the road against Traverse City Central. With their first four games away, the With many talented new members and experienced returning players, the girl’s basketball team looks forward to starting their season in a successful way. “Coming into the season we have to gel, as in get our timing down and remember all of the parts to our plays,” senior point guard Jessica Walter said. “We need to strengthen all the areas so that we’re game ready.”

Reporting by Noah Surbrook

Senior post player Katie MacIntire does strength conditioning with the varsity girls basketball team to prepare for their upcoming season. Noah Surbrook | Photo

Boy’s basketball is prepared and gearing up

Senior Zack Stirn is focused on improvement in an offensive drill while being guarded by senior Will Williams. Emily Fisher | Photo

14 | FOCUS | NOV 27, 2013

Midland High is not usually known for its basketball success. So when the varsity basketball team found themselves competing in a regional semi-final game last year against Saginaw High, many students and community members were surprised. The team was not. This year the team has similar plans. When asked about expectations for his senior season, returning varsity center Austen Irrer flatly stated, “Win another district title and hopefully compete for a regional title against Saginaw.” Those may be large goals for a relatively young team, but they are coming into the season well practiced. Over the summer the team played 27 games together, taking advantage of every minute on the floor together as they became more accustomed to each other’s playing style and gained cohesiveness. Irrer believes that the greatest opportunity the team had to better themselves was when they competed in Fort Wayne, Indiana for the American Youth Basketball Tour (AYBT) national tournament. The team performed well going 5-2 against travel teams from around the country. Aside from benefitting the players, this

gives varsity boy’s basketball coach Eric Krause a chance to get a better feel for his team. Watching his team in these games allowed Krause to further evaluate his players and gain insight on what each player’s role will be when the actual season comes around. “A lot of people can look good in practice,” Krause said. “[Seeing them in games] helps me determine which players will play well against higher level competition.” Krause is excited for his team this year. “We are definitely more experienced than people think,” Krause said referring to Irrer who started in many games last year, and senior point guard Will Williams who has been on varsity for three seasons. Many returners have improved over a whole year of varsity practice last year and are now poised to let it pay off on the court. Along with the veterans, the newcomers are also eager to contribute. Krause expects the that will be at a much higher level than they were in the summer, and Williams is excited to see what they can do. “My role is going to be the same as it always

is, just trying to help my teammates get better,” Williams said. The team is ready to play a fast-paced style of basketball, led by Williams. Krause noted the team’s size and ability to defend and rebound are attributes that contribute to a fast playing style. “We’re going to play fast and win games,” returning center Zack Stirn said. The team is looking forward to a lot of fans being in attendance to spectate and cheer. “Having a huge student section cheering is the greatest motivator and best thing to see on game day,” Stirn said. The players are not the only ones excited for a competitive season. Krause is looking forward to a rowdy student section as well. “When you walk into a packed gym in the winter, it is a very unique experience,” Krause said. “When people are getting into it, nothing can recreate the intensity you are going to feel in the next hour,”

Reporting by Ben Luzar


Down, but not done

Senior Rebecca Singer has struggled with multiple serious injuries in her high school career. After a broken jaw and three concussions, she has been restricted in her participation in sports, and must now contribute in a different way. Hannah Lasky | Exchange Editor & Caroline Swiercz | Staff Writer


he wheels of the bike screeched as the front tire flew up a three-inch lip on the Pere Marquette Rail Trail. Rebecca Singer’s surroundings blurred as she fell off the bike and landed chin-first on the cement. As blood dripped down her face, she spit a broken tooth into her hand. “I broke my jaw and two teeth,” Singer said. “I had to get stitches on my chin, but I wasn’t told I had a concussion because I had no symptoms.” This was Singer’s first accident, beginning her trail of injuries. This caused her to be unable to participate in volleyball her sophomore year due to her fractured jaw. However, she had recovered in time to try out for junior varsity basketball in the following winter season. During a league game against Saginaw Nouvel, Singer collided with a player on the opposing team. Soon after, she was diagnosed with a concussion, causing her to suffer from headaches frequently. “A normal day for me with the headaches was waking up through the night, taking medicine every six hours, lying in bed half of the day and spending the other half sitting in a dark room with no noise,” Singer said. Singer’s family noticed a drastic change in her demeanor, causing worry, in her mother especially. Her attitude wasn’t the same as it would have been on a daily basis, bringing up the thought that they should go see another doctor. “Rebecca was always a very positive and upbeat person,” said her mother, Pam Singer. “When she was lying bed so angry about the pain, her personality flip-flopped, so I took her to the emergency room that night.” This initial trip to the emergency room triggered a long journey of visits to a total of a dozen doctors. Each doctor explained to Rebecca that she had suffered multiple concussions, but as the pain reached a new high, her pediatrician said it would be

5 st e ps t o di agnos e a co nc us s ion

beneficial to seek help at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After spending a week there, Rebecca finally received the answers that she had been waiting for. “They said that I had a concussion to the point where it passed regular pain and was chronic pain, explaining why it went on and on,” Rebecca said. “I also had a medical overdose because all the doctors prescribed me different medication.” Rebecca jumped into a formal routine in order to decrease the pain and recover from the concussions. She began doing yoga, physical therapy, and biofeedback, which is used to convince the brain that it does not feel pain. Along with Rebecca’s long recovery period came a semester’s worth of make-up work, which held her back from officially being a junior until February of 2013. Doctors gave Singer the go-ahead to play sports, but the downside was that she had to put herself at risk for other possible head injuries. Despite this, Rebecca built up her confidence to try out for varsity volleyball for the first time during her senior year, due to her passion for it. Her family and friends were extremely supportive of this decision. “The decision for Rebecca to play is hers. Can you imagine telling someone they can’t do what they love?” Pam said. “At this stage in the game, Rebecca is almost eighteen years old and the days of mom and dad telling her what to do and how to do it are weaning. I believe in giving as much information as I can so she can make informed decisions, and there isn’t anyone in the world that can make that decision better than Rebecca.” Rebecca, now a senior, took a position on the varsity volleyball team as a middle hitter, making it through the majority of the season injury-free. However, one evening at practice, Rebecca suffered another head injury. As she was going up to block a hit, the ball ricocheted

Senior Rebecca Singer (12) huddles up with her team between sets during their District semi-final game against Dow High. Before her third concussion, she was a strong blocker on the varsity team, often called “Reblocka” by her teammates. Hannah Lasky | Photo off of the net into her face. “I was really out of it,” Rebecca said. “I had headaches, dizziness, and I went to Tony to do the concussion test and memory recall, and I had a temper that was worse than normal.” After officially being diagnosed with her third concussion, Rebecca was benched for the remainder of the season. However, that did not affect her impact as a player on the team. She spent the remaining moments of the season motivating everyone else to get better. “To me, she was never in a down state,”

for consciousness. See if Examine their physical state. 1. Check 3. Check to see if they are the person is responsive.


Analyze mental and physical state. Check to see if the person has a difficult time concentrating or has a loss of memory.

experiencing nausea or severe headaches.

their exhaustion levels. 4. Analyze Notice if they have insomnia or

are sleeping more than normal.

varsity volleyball coach Tim Zerull said. “She always brought a positive attitude to the floor and she was always confident in what she was able to do.” The Varsity volleyball team finished with a strong season in the league, and Rebecca contributed to her team’s success in every way possible. “I came to the realization that even though I wasn’t making a difference on the court, I could make my difference from the bench,” Rebecca said.

for changes in their 5. Look emotional state. See if they

exhibit mood swings or high levels of anger, fear and anxiety. | FOCUS | 15




With fall sports such as volleyball, football and cross country at a conclusion, the coaches and players reflect on their experiences with the sports seasons. Will Hackbarth | Staff Writer

SPORTS BRIEFS VARSITY FOOTBALL Coach: Eric Methner Eric Record: 10 wins. 2 losses. Methner Key Players: “Our seniors were the catalysts of our team. Their determination, work ethic, and leadership allowed us to have a terrific season” Coach’s Quote: “I am very proud of our team’s accomplishments this season. Ten wins, a district title, two victories over Dow High, and a valiant effort against an outstanding Muskegon team in the Regional Final. I am very proud of these players.” Eric Methner

Faces of Fall This season’s top athletes 1. Sophomore Amy Smith runs in the MHSSA D1 region 2 meet running a 19:47.14, her personal record and qualified for states. 2. Junior Jake Greer runs in the Midland county invitational running a 16:11.39, which at his time was his personal record. 3. Senior Abbi Schieber practices her butterfly stroke at the Dow High pool before the state championship. She later placed 13th in the state in the 100 butterfly. Emily Fisher, Melinda Greer, & Lee Rouse | Photos

16 | FOCUS | NOV 27, 2013


TWEET of the MONTH This marks the end of an era that I’ll never forget, I wouldn’t trade the hours I’ve spent with my team for anything in the world #hithitwin




Coach: Tim Zerull Record: 31-24-4. Top Performers: Taylor Jensen, Mariah Sherman Top Newcomers: Rebekah Walter, Michelle Plaver Coach’s Quote: “I am satisfied with the season and how we did with all the injuries and adversities that were thrown at us, the girls did the best they could with it. It was a tough end in a sense that we had to play Dow, which is always a difficult task.” Tim Zerull

Amy Smith

Miles Jake Greer ran in a week during the cross country Season


Years in a row that the varsity football team has had a winning record


Hours Amy Smith ran in a week during the Cross Country Season


Jake Greer

Abbi Schieber

Grade: Sophomore

Grade: Junior

Grade: Senior

Sport: Girls Cross Country

Sport: Boys Cross Country

Sport: Girls Swimming

Stat: Her best five kilometer run time is 19:47

Stat: His best five kilometer run time is 15:56

Stat: Her best 100 yard butterfly time is 58.32

Favorite Memory: “Regionals, because even with the cold weather I got my best time and I made it to states.”

Favorite Memory: “Running at states, there were so many runners.”

Favorite Memory: “Qualifying for Junior Nationals. ”

Key to Success “Discipline, staying focused on what you really want.”

Key to Success: “Working hard, just always trying your hardest at practice, eating well, and get lots of sleep.”

Key to Success: “Working hard in practice and having a positive attitude.” Coach’s Take: “She is a very talented young athlete who is just now scratching the surface of her true athletic ability. Amy does not realize how good she is or how great she can become. It’s a very exciting time to watch an athlete with her ability start her ascent.” Marty Hollenbeck

Coach’s Take: “Jake is a very intense and intelligent runner who is very driven to succeed. I am very lucky as his coach that he is only a Junior and I get to watch him continue his growth as a superior runner.” Marty Hollenbeck

Coach’s Take: “Abbi is self-motivated, she makes the most of every opportunity to train. The more success Abbi has, the stronger her commitment is to improve. Abbi has team respect and is always encouraging and supporting her teammates.” Carol Boychuck


Back in blue


s junior Jon Evans sits in the locker room on game day, time before the puck is dropped dwindles away. Around and around he loops the white athletic tape from one side of his hockey stick to the other, heel to toe. Music resonates in the background; Evans sets his freshly taped stick up against his locker and begins kicking a soccer ball around the locker room with the rest of his team, a pregame tradition. “I’m excited to be back at Midland High,” Evans said. “It’s fun playing with your friends on a team. It’s just more familiar.” Just one month ago, his hockey skills were pledged to a different team, the Flint Junior Generals. This past summer, when he was trying out for the Michigan Warriors, a Tier 2 team, he caught the eye of Steve Howard, coach of the Generals. Howard invited Evans to try out for his team, which is a part of the North American Tier 3 Hockey League, one level lower than the Warriors’. In Junior Hockey, there are three tiers, with the most skilled and experienced players playing in Tier 1. When tryouts rolled around for the Generals, Evans landed a spot on the team’s roster and chose to pursue the opportunity. “I decided to go to Flint because I wanted to get a higher level of experience and I wanted to get better looks from coaches and college scouts,” he said. The Generals appeared to be a well-suited team for Evans, and a promising stepping stone for his future. Jon’s father, Thomas Evans, expressed how important this move was. He explained how many college coaches and scouts look to Tier 2 Junior teams for potential players, so Jon wanted to play Tier 3 in order to get looks from Tier 2 coaches. Jon wants to play college hockey, and Tier 3 hockey would give him an avenue to Tier 2 and then on to college. In order for Jon to move houses and go to school in Flint, the guardianship that his parents upheld needed to be changed to his grandparents. This was done more as a precaution because Jon wasn’t sure how long he would be living in Flint. “We were lucky because Jon’s grandparents lived near the Flint rink, so we were easily able to transfer guardianship to them,” Thomas said. “This was important to us because Jon had the opportunity to interact with many coaches and players who have played at some of the highest levels of junior and college hockey.” While living in Flint to play for the Generals, Jon attended Linden High School during the day. He would start school around the same time as Midland schools, but his school day would only go until 1 p.m. due to the fact that

Junior Jon Evans has rejoined the Chemics for his third season on the varsity hockey team after moving to Flint in the beginning of his junior year to play in the Junior Hockey League. Emily Resmer | Sports Editor & Nate Fisher | Staff Writer

Junior Jon Evans skates a board, which is a sprint from one end of the ice to the other, at the end of practice. Evans is glad to be practicing with his Chemic teammates, as he has recently returned from playing Junior League hockey in Flint. Emily Fisher | Photo Linden classes only run a five hour schedule. on a team with players up to the age of 20, his Practice for him started at 2 p.m., and he would expectation of playing time decreased. get off the ice around 4:00. After practice, he “Being the third youngest on the team, we was required by his team to lift weights for a realized Jon would probably get a lot more few hours, and then he would go back to his game experience playing for Midland High,” grandparent’s house to finish up schoolwork. Thomas said. “And this year should be an Jon adjusted to the changes quickly. especially good year for competition in the “I got to Saginaw Valley League.” make new B e c a u s e J o n friends and I transferred back and hung out with forth between schools, the team a it was questionable at lot,” He said. first whether or not he high schoolers on his “I just missed would be immediately my friends eligible to play hockey [in Midland]. for Midland High if he The crowd came back this year. isn’t as big “The MHSAA person hockey team in Flint. at our games (Michigan High School [in Flint], and Athletic Association) when I come back here, there’s a student section; rule very clearly states that students who I missed that.” transfer from one school to another and do Due to the depth and experienced veterans not physically move from one residence to that the Flint team had, Jon was not getting as another have to sit one semester of athletic much playing time as he had hoped for. Upon participation,” athletic director Eric Albright realizing that Jon was a seventeen-year-old said. “Except, that’s the key word here, there

Jon was




of only

are 15 exceptions built into that rule.” The procedure Jon underwent to get to Flint was residency exception number two, which states: “Not living with parents, moves in with them.” Because Jon fully transferred residencies, he will be eligible to play this year. “The exceptions are made in order to help a student who is in a circumstance that is out of their control,” Albright said. “It’s a onetime exception, he couldn’t use it again so he wouldn’t be able to go back and forth between schools.” Jon feels that his exposure in the Junior Hockey League will help him achieve his future goal of either playing hockey at Northern Michigan University or Ferris State University. The experience he gained in Flint will also help him be a major contributor in his third year on the varsity hockey team. “I’m excited to be back at Midland High School and play a lot. It’s fun playing in front of your friends and with your friends on a team, it’s just more familiar and knowing people in the student section makes it more fun,” Jon said. | FOCUS | 17


Life on the spectrum

Teenagers at MHS living with Autism learn to overcome various setbacks.

What is Autism?

Autism is growing in prevalence in America; here are the facts about the disorder that affects over three million people in the United States . Dylan Rocha | Staff Writer & Nick Wright | Staff Writer


Autism: a growing development disorder that usually

shows up by age three and is evidenced by a difficulty to form normal relationships as well as a difficulty to communicate with others, among other symptoms depending on the type of autism.


are 1in 88 people diagnosed

of autistic

children finish high school

with a type of Autism spectrum disorder



Autism receives less than research funding than other, more common, childhood diseases.


1 5

girl has Autism for every boys that have Autism

18 | FOCUS | NOV 27, 2013

of children with autism are also diagnosed with down syndrome


Kanner’s Syndrome

This type of autism is the most severe. It is characterized by a lack of emotional contact with others, sometimes an abnormality of speech and a fascination with manipulating objects.


This type of autism stands for Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. People who are diagnosed with this syndrome have some, but not all symptoms of autism. This type affects approximately 2 out of every 500 people.


Asperger’s Syndrome

The people who are affected by this type of autism are usually super-skilled in a certain area. They are also prone to have coordination problems and repetitive behavior.

Autism Speaks | Information


Life on the Spectrum When the lights go out Families of children diagnosed with autism face unique challenges when it comes to day to day life. Two families in Midland share their experiences about overcoming the obstacles associated with autism and helping their affected family members to succeed. Michael Adams | A&E Editor & Christiana Haight | Staff Writer


hen Eliza Wager was just a baby, she did not show any real signs of having Autism. At a glance, her behavior and development was similar to many children her age. Her mother, Joellen McMullen, never suspected anything. “Just after she turned two, the lights went out,” McMullen said, snapping her fingers to emphasize how quickly everything changed. “She just wasn’t herself anymore.” Wager, now thirteen, and her sister Katie Sandow, an eighth grader at Jefferson Middle School, were both diagnosed with Autism at early ages. Katie began to show symptoms of the condition at an earlier age than Wager. “One of the first signs that I noticed was that she would not look you in the face. She had a hard time speaking, and when she did talk, it would be very abrupt and choppy,” McMullen said. “Even from when she was little, we could tell there was something different.” Katie was diagnosed with Autism when she was about five years old. “For Katie, it was kind of a long process, it took the doctors a longer period of time to discover exactly what the problem was. The diagnosis for Eliza was much smoother, although it was more emotional for the family,” said McMullen. “It was much harder for me with Eliza, since she was such a happy little baby, I never expected Eliza’s autism.” When the girls were first diagnosed, McMullen wondered what kind of future they could expect, and what, if anything, could be done for them. It took them some time to adjust, but since it was discovered so early on for the girls, the family was able to adapt to their needs. McMullen and Sarah have worked hard to accommodate Katie’s daily routines, and they are glad to do so. “Katie needs to have everything in specific orders, and we always try to help her as best we can,” McMullen said. Today, both Wager and Katie are educated

“WE’VE NEVER LOOKED AT BEN AS IF HE IS ‘BROKEN’ AND NEEDING TO BE FIXED. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH HIM.” DEB YATS, MOTHER through the Midland County Educational Service Agency, otherwise known as ESA. The program provides alternative education programs for students with special needs. Wager attends Hillside Elementary School, while Katie attends Jefferson Middle School, where she is involved in a variety of activities, including the choir. “Katie is always singing,” Katie’s sister Sarah Sandow, a junior at Midland High said. She even had a solo once.” Aside from singing, one of Katie’s favorite things to focus on is what Sarah and McMullen like to refer to as the ‘Movie of the Month,’ where Katie finds a particular movie and discusses it with the rest of her family for about a month at a time. McMullen, Sarah, and Wager always take part in the discussions. “She even chooses characters for us to be,” Sarah said, smiling. Katie assigns the names of certain characters to the members of her family based on the similarities they have with the characters. Katie also enjoys drawing the characters from the movies. She often looks up how to draw the characters on the computer, and then uses the template as a guide. “She’s already filled up six notebooks this past year,” Sarah said. Since Wagner is not as verbal as her sister, McMullen worries about her youngest daughter often. “It isn’t a problem with how to talk—she pronounces words just fine. She just tends to be quiet,” McMullen said. “When you get more

Ben Yats returned to Midland to see his parents, Deb and Dave Yats, and to attend Rhapsody Rendezvous, where his sister Katie was performing. Their parents attended the show as well. From left to right: Ben, Deb, Katie, and Dave Yats. Michael Adams | Photo than a few words from her in a conversation, article in the Sunday paper about Asperger’s, it’s a great day,” she said, laughing. When Eliza and was stunned by the parallels between the does vocalize how she is doing, McMullen is boy in the article and Ben,” Deb said. “She relieved. brought the article to me and said, ‘This is “We’ve definitely had to take precautions Ben.’ When we first read it, the similarities with [them],” McMullen said. “But we handle between the article and Ben were eerie. At things just fine.” that point we started the process of seeking an Similar to McMullen with her daughters, official diagnosis.” Deb Yats began to notice that her son, MHS Ben was diagnosed with Asperger’s by a grad Ben Yats, was displaying signs of specialist in Ann Arbor right before he started Asperger’s from the time that he was a baby. third grade. Deb’s immediate reaction to his Loud noises, lights, and movement would diagnosis was shock, denial, and often overstimulate Ben. He guilt. She did not know if their would avoid physical contact family had done–or failed to do– from anyone except his something that caused Ben to mother. Around the age of have Asperger’s. two, he began to rock back “Even though we knew of the and forth on the floor for something was different, extended periods of time. putting a name to it made population of “That immediately it real, and we weren’t children between made us think of quite ready to deal with autism, but he didn’t that,” Deb said. “It took the ages of and show any other a few months, but at some classic signs like h a v e s o m e point you have to accept the withdrawing from diagnosis and move on to figure form of autism the world or losing out what needs to be done to verbal skills, so it was help Ben manage Asperger’s and easy to dismiss the rocking figure out how to live on a day-tobehavior as an anomaly,” Deb said. day basis in the real world.” “As he got older, there were more signs, but Deb Yats does not view Ben’s each behavior by itself was just quirky. We just condition as a problem. Their family thought he was a bit odd.” instead works with Ben to help him function As Ben grew older, he had trouble engaging on his own. in conversation. Deb noticed that her son “We’ve never looked at Ben as if he is would rather talk to adults than children ‘broken’ and needing to be fixed. There’s of his own age. She also had to keep a strict nothing wrong with him. His brain is wired routine in order to prevent Ben from becoming differently; therefore he has a different way of overstimulated. interpreting information and interacting with “All of those things together as a package are the world around him,” Deb said. “ Our job has typical Asperger’s behaviors,” Deb said. been to help him take his unique differences Ben’s journey to an official diagnosis began and, rather than make excuses for what he when he was in second grade. can’t do, find ways for him to integrate his “A good friend of ours who knew about differences into his peer group in appropriate the struggles we’d been experiencing read an ways.”



3 | FOCUS | 19


Life on the Spectrum Accepting life with Autism

Even through the bullying and difficulties they have faced because of their Autism, these students have risen above the odds. Being a student with Autism is not always easy, but with the support of their families it can become easier. Katie McIntyre | News Editor & Maddy Wheelock | Features Editor


Senior Jonathan Young is known for holding doors for everyone as they come into school and giving his signature “smile and wave.”Sarah Wontorcik | Photo

Not all people who have Autism experience the same signs or symptoms. However, many people with this disorder have the similar mannerisms that doctors have used as indicators in the diagnosing process. These are a few of those signs. 20 | FOCUS | NOV 27, 2013

early signs of autism

t’s fine, he won’t fight back” junior high. they sneered as one child hit the “I was relieved,” Kelli said of her son’s books out of MHS student Jordan diagnosis. “I wanted to help him, and I couldn’t Cockrum’s hands. And he did not. unless I found out what we were dealing with.” Jordan did not so much as speak One characteristic of autism is having a back to the bullies that terrorized him. Though special focus and passion for one certain the bullies probably believed that Jordan did thing. For Jordan, his passions are anime and not understand what was happening, he did. Pokémon. He knew what they were doing and why he was “He eat sleeps and breathes it,” Kelli said. being picked on. It was because he has Autism; “For kids with autism, the one thing that they because he acted differently. He did not respond focus on becomes like their whole world.” to their taunts because having Autism makes Recently, Kelli has been trying to get him communication difficult for Jordan. involved in extracurricular activities in an Jordan’s lack of communication skills from a attempt to make him more social. very young age was one of the first notifications Jordan participates in anime club as well as for his parents that he the Special Olympics, may not be like the “I WAS RELIEVED. I WANTED a sports program for other children. By people of all ages TO HELP HIM AND I COULDN’T who have intellectual the time Jordan was UNLESS I FOUND OUT WHAT disabilities. He has three, the only words in his vocabulary were participated in many WE WERE DEALING WITH.” “mama” and “ball.” different events KELLI COCKRUM including bowling, “That’s not normal for a three year old,” golf, soccer, and Jordan’s mother, Kelli Cockrum, said. “It was basketball. He especially enjoyed golf and so hard to communicate with him.” bowling because these two he was able to Looking for answers, Kelli brought Jordan participate in with his father. In Midland, Kelli into the Educational Service Agency, usually says, there is no shortage of activities for Jordan known as ESA. The ESA provides services to partake in. for students with special needs and helps Senior Jonathan Young is also no stranger to direct parents to someone who can develop the opportunities that Midland offers. Although a diagnosis. Soon after beginning at the ESA, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome Jordan was told he had speech and language when he was two, this has not stopped him delay. Since then, he’s been diagnosed with from participating in drama club, key club, cross a multitude of different conditions such as country, student leadership, and track. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attention Asperger’s Syndrome, more commonly Deficit Disorder, and Attention Deficit known as Asperger’s, is an Autism spectrum Hyperactivity Disorder. He wasn’t correctly disorder characterized by eccentric behavior diagnosed with high-functioning autism until and social isolation. People with Asperger’s

abnormal amount of intelligence

imitating others

F E AT U R E S tend to be quiet and less in-tune with the norms of conversation. For example, many people who have Asperger’s have a hard time understanding sarcasm. Often, people who have Asperger’s are falsely assumed to be less intelligent than others because they tend to be quieter. “People with Asperger’s can either have average to above average intelligence, or maybe even be smart beyond words,” Jonathan said. Although Jonathan’s academic abilities are not diminished by his disorder, he tends to finish his tests and quizzes slower than most students in his class. This, he says, is the most difficult part about being in mainstream classrooms. Although this can be frustrating, he still loves coming to school and being with his friends in class. Jonathan is in main streamed classes; however, he has a paraprofessional, Ms. Adan, that he will stop in and ask questions to when he needs some help. One person who he does not see in class, however, is his twin brother Joseph Young. Joseph was diagnosed with Autism at the same time as Jonathan. His case is more severe, and requires him to be in a self-contained classroom during the school day. Joseph is mostly nonverbal, which sometimes makes it difficult for Jonathan to communicate with him. Jonathan tries to give his brother direction on how to act and Joseph will listen and do what Jonathan is telling him, but it is difficult for him to actually carry a conversation with his brother. “I have to take care of my twin brother and spend more time with him [because of his

autism],” Jonathan said. “He’s like a teenage when he would get made fun of on the bus. version of a baby sometimes—in a cute way.” Jordan often didn’t speak up about people who Jonathan, Joseph, and Jordan all feel like they were mean to him, so his mother wouldn’t know have a good support system at Midland High. about it until they got a call from the school or Jonathan said that he has no problem fitting in until his sister, senior Samantha Cockrum, said with all students, but it has not always been something. Samantha said that being raised this way. In elementary school, sometimes around Jordan has helped her become he would come across people who more empathetic and understanding did not understand the effects of when someone around her is being Asperger’s. frustrating. “There were kids that knew Autism affects “Bullying doesn ’t make I was different,” Jonathan said. sense to me,” Samantha said. “It made me feel angry and “It infuriates me and I don’t between frustrated to get negative understand it. I’ve lived with responses from other [Jordan] all my life and he’s an 1 and 1.5 students.” awesome person. I don’t know Luckily, Jonathan said, people don’t see that.” million people how he has not encountered Kelli agrees with her daughter. anything like this since elementary Although the bullying has gotten school. In fact, he feels like he no longer has better since Jordan has gotten older, she problems making friends. Jonathan can often be is still afraid that people will respond seen giving his signature “smile and wave” to negatively to him especially considering there is people in the hallway. He says this is the best no cure for Autism so this will be how Jordan’s tactic for making friends, and always works out life will continue to be. well for him. “Even when your child doesn’t have Autism and Asperger’s affects each person disabilities, It’s hard as a mother to hear that differently. For Jonathan, having Asperger’s [your kid has] been picked on,” Kelli said. “But makes him more sensitive and empathetic to it’s especially hard when you know that for their the feelings of those around him. However, for entire lives, this is how it is going to be. You Joseph, having autism makes it harder for him can’t protect them your whole life.” to read other’s emotions. Like Joseph, having Even though they have reached bumps along autism also makes it harder for Jordan to the way, Kelli and Samantha are certain that understand social queues, which can sometimes Midland has done the best they can in assisting lead to bullying from his peers. Jordan through his schooling due to all of the It was worse for Jordan when he was younger, support and programs that Midland has to offer

for kids with special needs. “Midland has a very good disability network,” Samantha said. “We’re lucky to live here. If we lived anywhere else, we wouldn’t have such and easy story to tell.” One of the programs that is a benefactor in Midland’s disability network is The Arc of Midland. This program has many different branches that help to raise awareness of different disabilities, run programs to encourage understanding and acceptance and to provide advocacy for parents of children with disabilities. The Arc of Midland does a program called Count Me In, which is for children in elementary schools. Through this, kids do simulations of what it is like to live with different types of disabilities, including autism. This helps students to learn at a young age what kids like Jordan and Jonathan experience every day. Another group run through The Arc of Midland is Everyone in Education. “This is a group that works with Midland Public School employees and parents to help kids with disabilities to be successful in school,” Arc of Midland employee, Michelle Vouaux said. This group helps to provide training, education, ideas, and resources to help provide opportunities for those that require different learning strategies in the school system. Though living with Autism and Asperger’s can be challenging for both the kids and their families, with the support of programs to help these students, it can become easier.



laughing inappropriately

separating themselves from most social interactions

spinning self or objects | FOCUS | 21


Opportunities to help

Students have devoted their time to the Humane Society, which has saved more than 2,150 animals this year. Kyle Blackwood | Opinion Editor For sophomore Jordan Ensz, volunteering at the Humane Society began as something any animal lover would do in their free time, helping animals that have no home or owner. However, years later, Ensz also hopes to turn her love for animals into a career. ‘’I’ve wanted to be a vet for a while so I wanted to get some experience working with animals and it really looks good on resumes It’s just something that I really enjoy doing.” Ensz said. “I consider it experience for the future because that’s what I want to go into is helping animals and plus I really like the volunteering aspect of it.” The Humane Society has not just helped Ensz gain experience for her future job as a veterinarian; it has also saved over 1,400 cats along with nearly 700 dogs just this year. They also allow active probation members to earn more community service hours. Just entering the Humane Society, there is a wall on the right almost completely packed with pictures of various cats and dogs of all

breeds, with names and dates on them. This is just one of the of boards in the building that show, all of the animals that were saved and adopted by families. Behind their success are all of the volunteers who help in the maintaining of this organization. Among those volunteering is freshman Autumn Wissner. She started volunteering in sixth grade when her church youth group brought a group of students to the Humane Society, prayed over the building, then began to help with the jobs they have to offer. “We did fund-raisers for the Humane Society at the Holiday Inn and we also had little puppies in the Inn for the kids to play with and it was really fun,” Wissner said, recommending that others volunteer their time as well. “The more people they get to volunteer, the more word is spread around, and the more likely that dogs will be adopted and saved instead of being bought from a breeder.” The plethora of jobs that are available for

GRACE ANNE ARISTRY On-sight wedding hairstyles and make-up artists

Sam Raykovitz | Sarah Biddle |



volunteers to do are fairly simple: walking and just socializing with dogs, cleaning around the building, washing the animal’s bedding, and helping the employees that are working at the time. The Humane Society offers times for jobs that need to be done and anyone who wants to volunteer just needs to show up at that time and help out. For people on probation looking for community service hours. It is a simple sign up to just fill out information and they will provide the hours. The Humane Society always is appreciative of more volunteers. Employee Diana Winkler started working for animal shelters around five years ago, when she lived in Minnesota. “I just got tired of going to work every day and then leaving and not feeling like I’ve done something that matters, so I quit my job and started working for an animal shelter,”Winkler said. “I wasn’t just clocking in, then clocking out, I just wanted the feeling that I was actually doing something that mattered,” Winkler has been working for the Humane

Sophomore volunteer Carter Welter holds Jake after a walk. Welter walks dogs and socializes with them an average of twice a week. Kyle Blackwood | Photo Society in Midland for around eight months now, and she is continuing to help animals. Her typical workday consists of her taking care of some of the animals, showing new volunteers what to do, managing the welcome desk, and helping out with various activities. Although the work Winkler does is very busy, every dog that she helps is a dog that is not starving on the streets or being abused. After all the dogs and cats are fed, washed, and warm in their kennel, Winkler locks the doors and smiles at the work she’s done. .

Additional reporting done by Kevin Sharpe.

Do you want to advertise here? Contact Emily Fisher @ 989-615-4482 or

Need for Birth Control or Emergency Contraception Services? Call Midland County Health Dept. 832-6661 Absolute Confidentiality Midland Coalition for Choice Box 2386 Midland, MI 48641

22 | FOCUS | NOV 27, 2013




A virtual addiction Natalie NatalieSchwartz| Schwartz|Illustration Photo & Michelle Demo | Illustration


hen junior Emily Chicosky is done with school extra curricular activities and homework, television is the last thing on her mind. Instead, she opens up YouTube to watch a real life version of Modern Family. “Compared to TV, which is fake, [YouTube] is real. It’s their actual lives. The families and people are all real and just the average person,” Chicosky said. Chicosky is a part of a growing trend which follows a long list of “Youtubers,” people who have their own channels and post videos of themselves on a regular basis. Two of Chicosky’s favorites include Jenna Marbles (A woman who puts a twist on typical male-female quirks) and ShayTards (an unscripted Modern Family). She also finds herself watching a lot of gaming videos, which are videos interacting in the virtual world of whatever game the user is playing. Gamers such as Pewdiepie and BajanCandian especially catch her interest. Pewdiepie and BajanCanadian make their videos with humorous intentions. They create their own catch phrases and funny sayings like “Nailed it” and “Slap dat button with ya forehead!” Both of these gamers attract Chicosky’s attention. Sophomore Maria Marcellis shares the same love for YouTube as Chicosky, and watches it religiously. “I probably watch six to seven hours of

YouTube a day,” Marcellis said Added to Chicosky’s eight to nine hour YouTube watching routine, Marcellis and Chicosky watch Youtube more than television on a daily basis. “It is slowly becoming an addiction,” Chicosky said while chuckling to herself in realization. Junior Victor Anderson has also been following the same trend because of the variety on YouTube. “I have more power to choose what I want to watch, unlike cable where I have to find out what time my shows are on,” Anderson said. Anderson prefers to watch The Yogscast. The Yogscast is a group of 32 friends who enjoy making gaming videos, music videos and daily skits. “They play the same games I like to play, and they tell really funny jokes they make up on their own, unlike television where everything is scripted,” Anderson said. Anderson, Chicosky and Marcellis explain that they enjoy the world of YouTube more than television because some of the people they follow are very relatable. For example, Jenna Marbles posted a video about what girls do in the car, exaggerated but accurate. “Youtube is real life. [ShayTards] have grown up on their channel. When they had their baby, the entire moment was captured,” Chicosky said.

YouTube has always been popular, with millions of users. But, the trend is quickly growing. Students are dumping their cable and logging on to this fast growing trend . Natalie Schwartz| Staff Writer & Colton Dexter| Staff Writer From low resolution to higher quality, YouTube is large and quickly growing. Chicosky and Marcellis describe it as a big community, where people are supportive with new ideas and videos. Youtube started in 2005, and only allowing video posts with low quality audio and visual. Now its features includes TV clips, video journalism (vlogging), short original skits and movies, along with occasional cat playing piano. While registered on YouTube, users can subscribe to other users so they are able to follow up on other user’s activity and upload their own videos. YouTube sets no restriction on the amount of video clips someone wants, so users can upload as many videos as they desire and other users on the site can search the videos with a simple key word or your user name. “I am always looking for something different,” Marcellis said. “I enjoy all the different topics.” Without being promoted in any special way besides word of mouth, YouTube has grown drastically over the years, and it is still reaching out for new viewers. “I remember my first time watching YouTube,,” Anderson said, referring to a video of a Dane Cook voice recording animation. Where a voice simulation was placed on top of an animation, making Anderson cry with laughter. Anderson has been watching YouTube ever since.

The rise of YouTube Over 6 billion hours of YouTube are watched a year 25% of the total views occur over a mobile device There are 1 billion users of YouTube today 100 hours of videos are uploaded every minute Stats l | FOCUS | 23

Decipher your dreams A



Melissa Toner’s psychology class has been analyzing their dreams. Studying both Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung’s theories, the students analyze what dreams mean. Michelle Demo | Web Editor & Sarah Wontorcik | Photo Editor


enior Nick Shahin sat alone in his basement, when band mate Dow High senior Abbey Drumright walked down the steps into the basement. She held a bowl of various diamonds, and was attempting to pick out a specific one. This is how one of the many dreams that Shahin analyzed in his psychology class began. To do so, he has to fully understand what his dream was trying to tell him. “There’s theories, and you can look at [your dreams] from viewpoints of what’s happening in your life right now,” Shahin said. “What wants and needs do you have that aren’t being fulfilled, your dreams are a way to fulfill them.” The students of Melissa Toner’s psychology

class were able to understand that the smallest details could symbolize larger, real-life aspects. “[Sigmund] Freud’s theory involves latent and manifest content,” Shahin said. “One of them is the obvious things in the dream and one of them is the metaphorical- an object represents something else.” The students took these theories and applied them to their own dreams in order to figure out what their dreams meant. “There was always a meaning behind them,” senior Alexis Luetge said. “I noticed with more of my dreams, it would tell me I was stressed.” Along with analyzing their dreams, the students learned various ways to remember

their dreams in order to analyze them correctly. “Before [beginning to analyze my dreams], I was kind of like the lottery,” senior Lauren Kelsey said. “I would either remember dreams, or not remember them. But after I did this, I ended up remembering two or four a night.” Toner says that it is important to study your dreams in order to learn more of yourself. “The things that you’re preoccupied with in the day, sometimes will incorporate into your dreams,” Toner said. “Then maybe you can think about that a little bit more in depth to say ‘why was that bothering me’ or even some people will solve problems in their dreams.”


Figure out important characters and objects within the dream.



Describe the dream’s overall setting. Include places and land area.

Relax: Before and after going to sleep, be sure to clear your mind of thoughts and try to move as little as possible. Take deep breaths, and repeatedly tell yourself that you will remember your dream. Talk: Retell any of the events of your dream either to yourself or to others. This helps jog your memory and will cause you to remember the finer details of the dream, Write: Keep a note pad by your bed to write down as many details after you have woken up.

5 steps to analyze a dream

Shahin’s dream: Shahin, Drumright, suspicious man in a park, Mr. Fox, and Mrs. Toner. Diamonds and iPads. Freudian perspective: People in dreams indicate what a person’s true feelings are. How the person is depicted in the dream is how you truly feel about that person. Objects within a dream can have multiple meanings, a person must look at the finer details rather than the big picture. For example, an arm may not be as important as the hand attached.

Shahin’s dream: In the first part, the setting was vibrant, green, happy, and in Shahin’s basement. In the second part, the area was beautiful, green, sunny, and in a suburban park area. The last part took place in Toner’s classroom and Fox’s computer lab, the weather was overcast. Freudian perspective: Areas and feelings within a dream may indicate the person’s more instinctive needs. A park, for example, may indicate the need for a more innocent lifestyle.


Give examples of animals that had appeared within your dream.

Shahin’s dream: Misshapen dogs in cages that gave off a feeling of suspicion. Freudian perspective: A human’s subconscious is primitive. The animals within a dream can indicate the amount of primitive needs that the person may have.

24 | FOCUS | NOV 27, 2013

How did the dream, or parts of the dream, make you feel emotionally?

Shahin’s dream: The mood of the first part was happy and normal. Then in the second part it was happy, but out of place, and suspicious. The final part was normal, but mixed with happiness and bleakness. Freudian perspective: The unconscious mind will censor what can be revealed from the deeper meaning in dreams in order to protect the individual from their own primitive feelings that can be difficult to cope with.


Summarize the total events that took place in the dream. Shahin’s dream: At the start of the dream, Shahin was in his basement, everything was normal, with Drumright, who held a bowl of diamonds. Then, in the next part, the dream was outside in a park-like area, still with Drumright, but a suspicious man who had three misshapen dogs had joined them. In the last part, Shahin was in Mrs. Toner’s class, taking notes about diamonds. Then the dream switched to Mr. Fox’s computer coding lab, where Shahin was creating a code to sort diamonds.


Based off the meanings of each symbol in Shahin’s dream, the dream symbolized that while he may have wealth, Shahin would still be willing to part with it. The misshapen dogs, or dogs with anything wrong with them may indicate a neglected friendship that needs to be strengthened.

Symbolism Definition Source l ‘Decode your Dreams’ by Jenni Kosrin and

Ways to remember your dreams

Source l DreamMoods

The psychological approaches Freud, Sigmund

Sigmund Freud

Carl Jung Source l Melissa Toner

Freud believed that the unconscious mind expresses a person’s more primitive nature, Freud thought that while dreaming, the more aggressive desires of a person will come out. Jung focused on what a dream could reveal about a person. His theory was that within a dream a person could tap into an ancestor’s dreams.

November 27th, 2013 Issue  
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