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6 Features/Opinions

PAW PRINT October 2013

To pee or not to pee By Katya Mazon

Sweater weather inside By Ellie Vachuska

Do you ever feel in danger when you walk into the restroom? Do you know what restroom you will be allowed to go in? Do people call you the wrong preferred gender pronouns? Do you even know what that is? If you answered “no” to most of these questions then you have not experienced the systematic oppression many transgender and gender non-conforming students face. In Illinois, 89.5% of transgender students feel unsafe in schools, according to GLSEN (Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network) Illinois. GLSEN records also show that transgender students reported little to no intervention on the part of school personnel when derogatory language was used. In the past few years more transgender and gender nonconforming students have spoken up and shared their stories of harassment and discrimination. At a CPS school, three transgender girls were pushed out of school due to the discrimination they faced. These girls would constantly be stopped by security because they were “dressed like girls but looked like boys.” Going to the bathroom was a challenge. One day when the three girls went to the bathroom, they were physically assaulted and removed from

If you’re anything like me, Pay- chill to a classroom, not to menton has taught you not only Alge- tion the shiver-inducing winds that bra I and U.S. History but how to blow from the vents along one side really bundle up. I’m talking lay- of the ceiling. ers; When dealing with notoriously The wind from these vents chilly rooms and (technically hallways, Payton called the “supstudents learn to ply airflow”) is a appreciate the little colder than long-sleeved the room itself shirt, sweatshirt because the air in and light jacket the room is beensemble. Most ing warmed by students would the bodies in it agree with the while the supply statement that, airflow comes on the whole, directly from Payton is a the A/C system, cold, cold place. which explains “I have to go why sitting unaround my math Wear a sweater to keep warm at der the vents is class asking peo- Payton. Photo by E. Vachuska near nightmarish

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Transgender students can feel intimidated by the current bathroom choices. Photo by Katya Mazon the facilities by a security officer. One of the girls felt so frightened she started bringing a knife to school in case of an attack. Eventually, the knife was found, and the girl was suspended. She never returned to school and neither did the other two. It is not only in Illinois and in high school that transgender and gender non-conforming youth are speaking out about their experiences. This past summer a Colorado civil rights panel ruled in favor of 6-year-old Cory Mathis who was not allowed to used the girls restroom at school. Recently in Cali-

fornia Gov. Jerry Brown signed the School Success and Opportunity Act (SSOA), making it clear that California public schools have a responsibility to ensure that all of their students—regardless of their gender identity—can access the school facilities they feel most comfortable in. Transphobia is a problem that has been around but only recently are people deciding to talk about it and change the systemic oppression put in place by society. Should every student be supported in school regardless of their gender identity?

Questioning APs By Eli Newberger Op/Ed Editor

As each new school year kicks off, students adjust to their new classes and workload. Freshmen adjust to high school, sophomores adjust to hard classes, juniors adjust to even harder classes, and seniors begin preparing for college. At Payton, the atmosphere of Advanced Placement (AP) courses begins sophomore year with deciding whether or not to take AP US history. Moving into junior year, some students start taking more AP classes as more choices arise. Junior year is already notorious for stress. However, Payton students sometimes choose to add stress with one or more AP classes. During the 2012-2013 school year, 460 students were enrolled in AP classes. Assuming that no freshman took AP courses, 62% of the student body was enrolled in at least one AP course. Now that the new-school-year routine is becoming habit, I have noticed a lot of stress and fretting over AP classes, making me question the value of these accelerated courses. As a student currently enrolled in more than one AP, I can testify to some of the reasons why the majority of Payton students flock to the AP. The strongest reason for taking an AP is interest in the subject to the extent that the extra stress is tolerable. Similarly, a student could feel that the alternate option, an honors course, is less fulfilling

ple if I can borrow their sweatshirt basically every day; it’s freezing,” said Gabrielle Xilas ‘15. The shocking truth about our school’s temperature is that it is, in fact, exactly what it should be. CPS mandates that the school be heated to 68° during the wintertime and cooled to 78° during the warmer parts of the year. It’s difficult to maintain these exact temperatures due to other sources of heating (computers and people) and cooling (open windows or doors) in the building, though our engineers do the best job possible. After receiving an extensive tour of the engineering staff’s temperature control software, I can testify that the temperatures of the classrooms have a range of about 69°-73°. Doesn’t feel like that? The sensors in each room don’t account for one important factor: the breeze. Opening classroom windows, stairwell doors, and the front and back doors of Payton all create drafts that can bring a considerable

if you forgot a sweater. What’s even more surprising is that while we’re shivering in our math classes, Payton’s air conditioning system could still be going. Payton’s engineering staff is constantly adjusting whether the A/C or heating is on in an effort to regulate the temperature; Payton’s biggest temperature problem isn’t with warming the school up but keeping it cool. The A/C isn’t used in October as a form of torture but as means to battle the constantly rising temperature inside the school due to human body heat and large numbers of running computers. So what’s the solution? Layers. Come to terms with the temperature of the school and start stockpiling sweatshirts in your locker. In the meantime, make use of these tips from Payton’s engineering staff: rooms 104, 106, 122, and 124 are the coldest rooms in the school while the language labs and library tend to be the warmest. Finally, get used to habitually carrying a sweater. You’ll need it.

Mr. Wu and students meet author By Monika Wysocka and Kaily Nagel Staff Writers Students learn to balance their work in AP classes but may also experience stress. Photo by Eli Newberger or stimulating. Many of the honors classes at Payton often have a similar magnitude of work, making the bump up to AP courses not seem so audacious. Students performances on the tests creates another incentive for enrollment. Payton students tend to do very well on the AP tests. Of the 460 students who were enrolled in AP courses, 415 of them got a three or above. This not only looks good on college applications, but it may allow for students to pass out of some of their freshman-year classes at college. Despite the strong case for AP classes, many students, especially juniors, seem to be over-stressed. Taking harder classes should not mean adding stress to students’ already stressful lives. Megan Lewis 15’ said, “the overwhelming course work is

making me not so interested [class].” The whole point of AP classes is to give students an opportunity to learn about what they’re interested in at a college-level. If AP courses are turning students off of their interests, the course does more harm than good. “Taking APUSH sophomore year initially seemed like a bad idea,” said Edis Gradjan ‘14. “But in the years going forward, it taught me useful skills in work management.” Although AP courses can offer great experiences for students, the stress and work level with which they are associated can at times do more harm than good. Although Advanced Placement courses can be a positive challenge, they should be enrolled in with caution.

Recently, Mr. Wu and a few of his students attended a presentation given by Scott Seligman, author of “The First Chinese American: The Remarkable Life of Wong Chin Foo.” It is a biography of the famous nineteenth century Chinese journalist and activist who worked to overcome the struggle for citizenship rights in America. He was also the first person to coin the term “Chinese American.” This presentation was brought to Mr. Wu’s attention by Mr. Karafiol through the Harvard Club of Chicago. When asked about his reaction to the presentation, Mr. Wu said that he enjoyed the discussion. He enjoyed how Seligman spoke some Chinese through the presentation and how that mixed with the discussion of the Chinese culture and history, which is a method he likes to use in his own classroom. “I feel my purpose of being

Mr. Wu works on his lesson for his Chinese classes. Photo by Kaily Nagel here is to always educate and dissolve these stereotypes through real life and personal stories, just like Scott D. Seligman and many other scholars have done,” said Wu.

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