Montgomery Blair High School SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND
A public forum for student expression since 1937
silverchips Having a ball
April 27, 2017 VOL 79 NO 6
Blair prepares for building expansion By Isabella Tilley Due to current and anticipated overcrowding, the MCPS Division of Long Range Planning is currently considering additions to the Blair building. The earliest additions would be made in 2022-23, as the processes of designing and building each take a few years. Currently, architects are considering expanding the SAC toward the parking lot, as well as expanding the 10s hallways toward the Colesville parking lot, adding a new hallway over the tennis courts,
and expanding the art wing. The addition of a fourth ﬂoor is unlikely, although at least one parent suggested it at a Blair capacity meeting, since enrollment is expected to continue rising after 2022-23. The possible expansions were designed to interfere as little as possible with the rest of the building so that students would not have to relocate during construction. A boundary study is not currently being discussed, but it remains a possibility. Northwood
see EXPANSION page A2
INTERACTIVE EXHIBIT People wait in line in the polka-dot ball room at the popular “Inﬁnity Mirrors” exhibit, which closes May 14, at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.
Michael Yin elected as MCR President By Laura Espinoza On April 20 at a Montgomery County Regional (MCR) General Assembly meeting, junior Michael Yin was elected as the 2017-18 MCR President. Yin will succeed senior Ramida Phoolsombat in the position. There were three other candidates for the president position, hailing from Churchill, Quince Orchard, and Paint Branch. Oﬃcers in MCR are elected by student representatives to MCR from each high school’s SGA. MCR is a county-wide student government organization, which Yin has been involved with since his sophomore year. “I’ve been a part of MCR these past two years, and I was really happy to see that, you know, students can make a big diﬀerence ... I thought that one of the coolest things a student can do is to advo-
cate for other students, so I wanted to try and run for president,” Yin said. Yin’s platform emphasized student involvement in MCR and expanding the organization’s inﬂuence. “I know when I was running, I had a lot of ideas for how we can make it more accessible to students because I know that just most students don’t know about
it,” he said. In the past, Yin saw a lack of serious commitment within the organization. He hopes to use the position to increase productivity and communication. “I want to change it from us talking at students to actually having these discussions and talking with everyone about big changes that we’ve all wanted,” he said.
Angela Edwards had a strange feeling about John Vigna. She, along with other parents at Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Spring, would tell their kids, “Don’t hug teachers. Don’t hug that speciﬁc teacher.” There was something about him that she could not quite pinpoint, and when her daughter had him as a teacher years ago, Edwards felt the need to sit in on classes. Years later, when her son attended Cloverly,
STANDING IN SOLIDARITY Blair students wear masks to indicate that they are not speaking during the Day of Silence on April 21.
GSA hosts Day of Silence By Gilda Geist
COURTESY OF MCPS’ STUDENT LEADERSHIP UNIT
PRESIDENTIAL Michael Yin poses with other MCR elected ofﬁcials.
A shift to sexual misconduct prevention
By Laura Espinoza and Hermela Mengesha
that feeling lingered. Nothing had changed. After a body safety class for sexual abuse prevention in the fall of 2015, one young girl went home and told her parents that Vigna had been inappropriately touching her. Her parents then reported the account to the police. This led to the discovery of another alleged victim in the same classroom. Vigna was arrested in June 2016 on sexual abuse charges committed against students at the school. Then, three more students came forward. Two girls said that Vigna
had sexually abused them during the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 school years. Later, a woman in her twenties revealed her own experience of sexual abuse from Vigna when she attended Cloverly from 2000 to 2002. The body safety classes that prompted these reports were part of a larger initiative by the county to update its Child Abuse and Neglect policy. This policy, which was updated on June 29, 2015, made changes in student and staﬀ
see ABUSE POLICY page C1
On Friday, April 21, Blair’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) held a Day of Silence. The Day of Silence is an annual national student-led movement where students do not speak during the school day to raise awareness about bullying targeted toward LGBTQ+ students. “The point of Day of Silence is to get people to be more aware of the harassment and bullying that aﬀects the LGBT community,” senior and GSA co-president Alicia Pearson said. The GSA had three tables set up at the beginning of the day which provided 500 Day of Silencethemed face masks, ribbons, and stickers. “It is a visible reminder of how the LGBTQ community is often silenced,” GSA adviser Mary Thornton said. “Silence is a powerful tool.” After eighth period on the Day of Silence, the GSA hosted an event in the media center called “Breaking the Silence.” The event included discussions about LGBTQ+ issues, and a TED Talk called “A Queer Vision of Love” was shown.
“We want to create a safe space and kind of a learning environment,” senior and GSA co-president Reilly Grant said. Two representatives from the non-proﬁt Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays spoke, as did two members of the Human Rights Campaign. The LGBTQ+ ﬁlm “Game Face” was also shown, and career center coordinator Phalia West provided information on colleges and universities that are safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students. According to Thornton, the GSA sent Blair teachers information about the Day of Silence ahead of time, so that teachers would know how to accommodate students who were participating. “We would appreciate your support in allowing students to refrain from participation in class discussions on Friday,” a letter from the GSA read. The GSA also provided a list of sources that teachers could use to educate their students about LGBTQ+ issues, including a set of guidelines from the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network called “10 Actions Educators Can Take to Aﬃrm the Day of Silence.”
insidechips BEN DOGGETT
SMOBs do not hold as much inﬂuence as students believe.
Local graﬃti artists share their experiences tagging around the world.
Three writers canvass Silver Spring in search of hidden local treasures.
A closer look at Blair’s spring sports teams.
CHIPS CLIPS D6
LA ESQUINA LATINA E1
April 27, 2017
MCPS Considers Reopening Woodward High School
Study group examines possibilities for new specialty programs By Isabella Tilley An MCPS study group is currently examining diﬀerent ways to populate Charles H. Woodward High School, if it is reopened. The Woodward building is currently being used as a holding school for Tilden Middle School, which has occupied the Woodward facility on Old Georgetown Road since 1991. The study group, which includes parents, MCPS oﬃcials, and representatives from advocacy groups, is not a decision-making body, and is not concerned with whether Woodward will reopen. According to Corinne Blackford, a planner at the Division of Long Range Planning, the group was created last year in a response to a request from the Board of Education. Blackford said that the study group currently has multiple options for populating Woodward High School, should it reopen. One option would be the traditional choice of altering attendance boundaries and assigning students to Woodward, but the study group is also considering the possibility of creating specialty programs, which could be decided by lottery or by application. “The Board, and … the superintendent are interested in new programs that could result when we open a new school, when we do additions,” Blackford said. “This study group is really tasked with looking at program ideas for a new school, which could be at Woodward High School.” No current magnet or specialty programs will be moved to Woodward, although programs like the Communication Arts Program (CAP) or the Visual Arts Program at Einstein may be duplicated at Woodward, according to Derek Turner, a spokesperson for MCPS. After a series of meetings, the group will provide the superintendent with a report of their opinions and community opinions on the various possibilities. The superintendent will review this report over the summer, and make recommendations to the Board of Education in the fall. Ultimately, the superintendent and the Board of Education will decide whether Woodward reopens, and if it does, which students will attend the school. At an April 5 meeting in Rockville, Blackford and Debbie Sfyzer, another planner at the Division of Long Range Planning, presented several ideas to a group made up of mostly parents and MCPS ofﬁcials. Those included ideas for magnet programs (either a magnet within a larger school, or a whole school magnet), changing school boundaries, altering the current Down County Consortium, creating a new consortium, and alternative lottery programs. Blackford and Sfyzer looked at other large, suburban-urban counties in the nation to draw inspiration for possible programs at Woodward. A number of study group members, mainly parent representatives, were reluctant about changing school boundaries, and said that any boundary study the Board decides to conduct should be limited to only a few clusters. They said that they were concerned about transportation and bussing, and also wanted to preserve a “community feel.” According to Blackford, the issue of boundary changes is “politically charged,” and she emphasized that the study group will not be responsible for considering boundary changes. The group will
focus on “curricular” questions, rather than demographic or geographic ones. This does not rule out the possibility of a boundary study, but if it were to take place, it would be conducted by a group separate from the Woodward study group. Boundary studies are always conducted 18 months before a new school opens, or if an old school’s building is signiﬁcantly expanded. In the coming years, a boundary
possible locations for these “nontraditional” programs. According to Turner, there is no reason that MCPS should not consider using the real estate that is already available. He said that building new school buildings can cost millions of dollars, and it is cheaper to renovate existing spaces for alternative programs. Reopening Woodward would alleviate overcrowding in eight lower county high schools: Albert Einstein, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Blair, John F. Kennedy, Northwood, Walter Johnson, Walt Whitman, and Wheaton. By looking at attendance in elementary and middle schools, birth rates, migration patterns, and residential developments, the Division of Long Range Planning projected that by the 2022-23 school year, these eight schools will be over capacity by a combined 2,710 students. By 2031, the schools are predicted to be a combined 3,455 seats short, but Blackford said that MCPS does not make plans based oﬀ of numbers so far into the future. She explained that MCPS writes the Capital Improvements Plan for six-year timeframes, since most of the students who will attend school in that time frame will have already been born. Looking forward to 2031 can give MCPS a rough estimate of what its schools may look like 15 years from now, but demographers cannot account for possible recessions and other potentially signiﬁcant events. The earliest that Woodward High School could reopen is 202122, although it is likelier that it will open later. The building is currently occupied by Tilden Middle School, which will move to a new building in 2020. According to Turner, renovations will have to
viate overcrowding. “In Fairfax County, there are kids in oﬃce buildings that have been remodeled to be school spaces, [because] they needed space and it worked,” Blackford said. The group will consider programs that could complement the existing “non-traditional” facilities. “If there was going to be some kind of culinary arts program, maybe that could take place in a commercial kitchen rather than a
MCPS DIVISION OF LONG-RANGE PLANNING
study will need to be conducted for the Seneca Valley cluster, according to Blackford. Seneca Valley is currently undergoing an expansion that will increase its capacity by 1,062 students in 2019. MCPS plans to redraw boundaries so that students from the overcrowded Clarksburg and Northwest clusters can attend Seneca Valley and alleviate overcrowding. The Woodward study group will also look at ways of using “non-traditional” spaces to alle-
school building,” Blackford suggested. “Maybe there’s industrial design programs that need warehouse space, as opposed to a traditional school facility.” Study group members voiced concerns about providing teachers for such specialized and technical programs. In response, Sfyzer said that MCPS’s location next to Washington, D.C. gives students potential access to many experts. The Division of Long Range Planning is in the process of identifying
Blair plans expansion from EXPANSION page A1 will also likely be expanded, and may even be rebuilt, although both the Northwood and Blair projects are still in very early phases. Oﬃcials at the capacity meeting made it clear that any current plans are subject to change and still need to undergo further review before they are ﬁnalized. Though any additions are far oﬀ, Blair will be installing portables to deal with current over capacity issues. According to Principal Renay Johnson, schedule simulations for the 2017-18 school year showed that there would not be enough classrooms for students, based on the expected enrollment next year. To solve this problem, two current computer labs will be redesigned to be classrooms with Chromebooks, and four portables will be installed by August between the stadium and the student parking lot. An additional four portables will be installed for the 2018-19 school year.
be made to accommodate a larger high school student body after Tilden leaves. Sfyzer acknowledges that MCPS will have to do more than reopen Woodward in order to deal with over capacity issues. The Division of Long Range Planning is also looking at ways to expand other schools.
Projected 2022-23 Capacity per MCPS High School
A (+) indicates a school will be under capacity by a certain number of seats, and a (-) indicates a school will be over capacity by a certain number of seats.
+106 -675 -329 +224
+69 -438 +180
+979 -289 DCC Capacity: Blair: -686 Northwood: -644 Einstein: -640 Kennedy: -309 Wheaton: +228
NEC Capacity: Paint Branch: -189 Blake: -100 Springbrook: +144
MAP AND DATA COURTESY OF THE MCPS DIVISION OF LONG RANGE PLANNING
April 27, 2017
Students charged for alleged rape at Rockville High School High schools to begin security reviews in the ﬁrst week of April By Emma Cross Rockville freshmen Jose Montano, 17, and Henry Sanchez-Milian, 18, were charged with the rape of a 14-year-old female student in a boys’ bathroom. They were charged on the same day of the incident, which allegedly took place on the morning of March 16 at Rockville. According to the police report, the victim was with Montano in the hallway around 9 a.m. when he asked her for sex. She refused and was allegedly forced into a boys’ bathroom stall and raped by both Montano and Sanchez. The police report released on the day of the incident indicates that the victim knew Montano, but did not know Sanchez. According to court documents, the victim alerted staﬀ of the incident after the alleged sexual assault occurred. The police investigation began that day. On the day of the alleged rape, Rockville Principal Billie-Jean Bensen sent a letter to parents, reassuring that the school was safe. “Ensuring a safe, secure and welcoming learning environment for all of our students is our top priority,” Bensen wrote. Following the alleged incident, Superintendent Jack Smith said in a community message on March 30 that security reviews would occur in every school, beginning with high schools in early April. “...We will work closely with each school on next steps, including strengthening security procedures where needed,” Smith wrote in the letter. MCPS spokesman Derek Turner said that while the security systems already in place in schools are adequate, the Department of School Safety and Security will conduct
a more thorough review of security procedures in response to the alleged incident. “Part of this is a chance to reﬂect on security in our schools … We believe we have a great foundation, but this is also a time for continuous improvement,” Turner said. The security review will include all schools in MCPS, beginning with high schools in early April. The plan includes evaluation of staﬃng strategies, cameras, and insecure building areas, as well as a reevaluation of sexual assault procedures. “We’re also looking at reporting protocols to make sure that when there is a student on student sexual assault or alleged sexual assault we have the best reporting procedures to make sure that we are getting support for the victim and getting the police involved immediately,” he said. Sanchez’s defense lawyer, Andrew Jezic, argues that there is clear evidence that the sexual act was consensual. “There are many text messages and images sent back and forth between the 17 year-old boy and the 14 year-old girl the night before this incident, indicating very clearly that both of them had planned and agreed to have sex inside of Rockville High School,” Jezic said. According to Jezic, a trial will take place in about ﬁve months. Jezic said that he is conﬁdent his client will be acquitted. “I took this case because I believe my client is 100 percent innocent,” he said. The case gained national attention due to the two defendants’ immigration status. Both are undocumented according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the incident has been used to justify tougher immigration policies. White
COMMUNITY SUPPORT Montgomery County Council Vice President Hans Riemer shows support for immigration rights following reponses to the Rockville rape incident. House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that Rockville, a sanctuary city, review its immigration policies after the incident. “I think that the city should look at its policies, and I think that this is something that authorities are going to have to look at,” Spicer said in a brieﬁng. Governor Larry Hogan emphasized the need for police cooperation. “The state of Maryland is calling on Montgomery County to immediately and fully cooperate with all federal authorities during the investigation of this heinous crime,” he said in a Facebook
post on March 21. Smith responded to the national attention in a community message on March 23, emphasizing that the defendants’ immigration statuses are irrelevant to the investigation, “While I know this tragic incident has become part of a national political debate, I want to remind community members that the lives of real students have been forever aﬀected … far too many have crossed the line with racist, xenophobic calls and emails,” Smith said. “This behavior will not be tolerated in our community.”
convened at Veterans Plaza. There, several students led discussion groups about issues related to climate change. Seniors Grace Weissman and Ronee Goldman led a group discussion on compost, junior Brianna Menson talked to students about various methods for reaching out to friends and the community, and sophomore Sam Newman informed students on the topic of renewable energy. Junior Nina Jeﬀries spoke to a group of students and dispelled some common myths about climate change, sophomores Soda Lo and Sophia Johnson ran a social media workshop, and sophomores Emma Morganstein, Adelaide Harris, and junior Charles Goldman, led a group focused on political lobbying and public relations campaigns.
Lo is also worried about how the current presidential administration is approaching climate change. “Trump doesn’t really believe in climate change, and that really really bothers me,” she said. Morganstein heard about the summit from Levien and was very interested in getting involved. “We have to stand up and do something, and this felt like something that needed to be done just to show that there are people in high school who care,” she said. For Morganstein, the civic engagement does not end here. “I feel like the next step is to really go out and meet the representatives, go to town halls, go to events like the summit, keep on doing stuﬀ and not just normalize everything that’s happening,” she said.
Climate-focused ﬁeld trip features ﬁlm and discussions
By Noah Chopra-Khan
On April 14, students attended a ﬁeld trip to the American Film Institute to watch the climate change documentary Before the Flood and engage with a panel of climate change experts and politicians. Science teachers Elizabeth Levien and James Demma led the ﬁeld trip that was primarily for AP Environmental Science and AP Biology students. After the ﬁlm and panel, students walked to Veterans Plaza and separated into student led discussion groups to learn about diﬀerent
shouldn’t have to rely on youth to have realizations about how dismal your future is,” she said. “We are here to talk about how ignoring the problem of climate change is something we cannot handle as human beings.” Prior to the ﬁeld trip, Levien said her goals were not only to educate students but to inspire them and provoke change. “[The movie] was probably ﬁnished in 2015-2016 and it’s terrifying and it’s already dated with the rate at which things are changing,” she said. “We’re going to cover the science end of
School administrators change SMOB voting By Cole Greenberg
CLIMATE TALKS Groups of students discuss strageties to combat climate change.
strategies to ﬁght climate change. Before the Flood focuses on the past, present, and possible future state of the environment. Befor the movie, Levien addressed students on the urgency of the issue. “We
To view the Climate Summit panel discussion, scan the QR code above with a QR reader app or visit the URL below. https://youtu.be/g3uSXG6X9JA
that, and then the idea is that ... 200 students are just terriﬁed and angry, and then we want to say, let’s heed the call, what can we do?” Following the ﬁlm, students asked questions to a panel of experts including author Camila Thorndike, documentary maker David Ruck, University of Maryland Program Manager for Climate Implementation James Stillwell, and Chairman of the Maryland House of Environment and Transportation Committee Kumar Barve. The speakers discussed the importance of civic engagement, and Ruck noted that in past movements, informed, angry young people are key to invoking change. Ruck also focused on methods for reaching out to people through stories and compelling narratives. In response to student questions, Barve stated that voter turnout is absolutely the most important way to eﬀect change. “You have to register to vote,” he said. “Elected ofﬁcials check that, I check that.” After talking to the panelists, students re-
Blair administrators changed the Student Government Association (SGA) and Student Member of the Board (SMOB) election voting to Chromebook-based voting in English classes instead of voting in the media center. Principal Renay Johnson and Assistant Principal Dirk Cauley made the decision a month ago in preparation of the upcoming elections on April 26. According to SGA supervisor Christopher Klein, other elements of the election besides the location and voting method remained the same. “The way that you can think about the diﬀerence most succinctly is that under the old election, or the old process, there was one central location. Now you’ll have multiple simultaneous elections taking place throughout the day,” Klein said. According to Cauley, administrators decided to change the voting system after all English classes were equipped with the appropriate amount of Chromebooks to host an election. “When you think about it, you have every English classroom outﬁtted with Chromebooks, so you can have every student not have to move from their classroom. They’re able to use the Chromebooks for the SMOB election and the SGA election,” Cauley said. Blair’s SGA members administered
the election. Rather than ushering large groups into the media center like previous years, SGA members traveled in teams of two to English classes throughout the day. According to junior SGA member and election organizer Alix Swann, administering the elections required student government members to explain the voting process to Blazers. “It involves running the students through the steps that they might need help with and supervising the elections to make sure that there’s nothing fraudulent going on,” Swann said. According to Swann, administrators notiﬁed the SGA of the voting changes less than two weeks before the elections, causing them to revise their original plans. “It’s been a lot of work and a lot of meetings and a lot of planning, because this is something that we’ve never done before and I think that only one other MCPS school does it so we don’t really have that much to guide us,” Swann said. “It’s been a lot of trial and error and seeking out the problems that could potentially happen and how we could ﬁx them.” The elections on April 26 were the county-wide SMOB election between Sherwood junior Matt Post and Richard Montgomery junior Alex Abrosimov, as well as school-wide elections to select class presidents and vice presidents, and the SGA president and vice president.
Ride On buses to offer free Wi-Fi for passengers The Montgomery County Ride On bus system announced it will offer free Wi-Fi access for all passengers by Jan. 2018. Ride On has begun a pilot phase to introduce the new technology, with four buses already equipped with WiFi, and 12 more to come in the next month and a half. The cost will vary depending on which plan the system chooses, but John Van Eck, an Information Technology (IT) manager for Ride On, estimates that it will cost around $1,200 per bus. According to Van Eck, the company will be gathering data throughout the pilot period to determine the strength of coverage and to see if any problems arise. “We are going to encourage people to write in or call in or send us emails or text or whatever, to get their feedback,” he said. “But, we’ll also be watching the traffic and how it’s used. We’ll have a good idea both what people are looking for and what people are actually doing.” For example, if passengers are using the Wi-Fi to watch Netflix or stream videos, Ride On might block streaming sites, so that there are no issues with connectivity.
County Council approves vending machine bill The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed a bill on April 18 to increase the number of healthy snacks in all vending machines on county property. The bill requires that half of all snacks have no more than 200 calories, half a gram of trans fat, and 200 milligrams of sodium. Drinks must be fewer than 250 calories and be no more than 20 fluid ounces. These nutrition requirements will go into effect for any vending machines entered in contract after the bill’s passage. Half of all snacks and drinks being sold must also have no more than 35 percent of calories from fat or sugar, and no more than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat. This second set of standards must be met by service contracts entered on or after July 1, 2017. The legislation, sponsored by councilmember George Leventhal (at-large), was first introduced on Feb. 7, and sets a goal of requiring 90 percent of all items to meet standards by the end of the vending machines’ five year terms. Additionally, the director of the county’s General Services Department must submit a report on Sept. 30 of each year describing the successes and challenges of the law’s implementation, as well as recommendations for improvements.
School bus rear ended
A car swerved into the back of MCPS bus number 5993 at 7:10 a.m. on April 20 at the Falls Road– Montrose Road intersection. The bus was transporting middle and high school students from Cold Spring Elementary School to Blair, Eastern Middle School, and Takoma Park Middle School. No injuries were reported, according to Debbie Bitonti, who works in the health room. At 8:10 a.m., a second bus arrived to bring the students to school. When students arrived at Blair, all bus passengers had to sign in with the school nurse, tell her where they were sitting during the accident, and undergo an injury check. Once cleared, students were permitted to go to class. Newsbriefs compiled by Olivia Gonzalez
April 27, 2017
Maryland General Assembly wraps up legislative session
A roundup of new state bills affecting students and schools By Henry Wiebe
The Maryland General Assembly’s 437th legislative session concluded on April 10. Over the course of the 90-day session, House delegates and state senators budgeted and lobbied for 2,861 different bills, passing 935 into law. High school students in particular will be affected by the state budget, the expansion of the free and reduced meals program, increased fines for school bus stop signal infractions, and a ban on expulsions for students in pre-K through second grade. State budget The new state budget, passed unanimously by the Senate, allocates more funding for public school systems than in the past, according to Senator Will Smith (D) from District 20. “We invested over 6.4 billion in K-12 education, which represents the largest investment in public school education in Maryland history. It’s an increase of almost two percent funding compared to what we did last year,” Smith said. Smith also said that the tuition policy for the University of Maryland school system would more closely resemble the standards set by the previous Democratic gubernatorial administration. “We also invested more in our higher education, meaning that public school tuition won’t go up more than two percent, which was something that
O’Malley had when he was governor, but was something that didn’t happen in the first two years of Governor Hogan’s administration,” he said. Senior Theresa Guirand hopes that the extra funding for public schools will help give students the resources that they need in order to succeed in the classroom. “A lot of kids don’t have… opportunities in general if their school has a low budget,” she said.
Free and reduced meals The free and reduced meals program, commonly referred to as the FARMs program, was one of the main education-related topics addressed in the previous legislative session. The Maryland Cares for Kids Act and The Hunger-Free Schools Act of 2017 both expanded free meals for students who may not have access to food at home. The Maryland Cares for Kids Act sets guidelines for low-income students to receive free school lunches, according to Smith. “[The bill] basically allowed for free meals for students who come from families with household incomes between 130 and 180 percent of the poverty line. And that basically amounts to about 50,000 kids in Maryland,” he said. “That was a great bill that we passed to help some of our most financially struggling families, to ensure that they have free meals in school.” The Hunger-Free Schools Act of 2017 allows Maryland to opt
into a previously existing federal program that grants free breakfast to more students. “Senate Bill 361 built on the community eligibility program which basically gave free breakfast to students and that allows us to help 10,000 more students a day,” he said. Senior Prim Phoolsombat is the president of the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association, a countywide student leadership organization that appears before the Board of Education and county councils to represent the student voice. Phoolsombat describes how important the FARMs program is to students who depend upon it. “There are a lot of kids that actually need this program just to subsist, so it’s really crucial that the FARMs program is expanded, which I’m delighted about,” she said. “We can support the kids who really don’t have any other option.” Bus stop signs Senate Bill 154 established a larger fine of up to $500 for ignoring bus stop indicators while students board school buses. When a school bus stops to pick up students, cars on both sides of the street must wait until the bus resumes driving before they may continue. Legislators passed the law to ensure that students are safe from any oncoming traffic as they get onto buses. According to Smith, studies
found that this law was broken more often than had been previously anticipated, resulting in a need for an increased fine. “We found more evidence that people were just ignoring those things and blowing by them,” he said. Junior Ben Abramson said that he commonly observes drivers breaking this law. “On my bus, I see people driving past the stop sign all the time,” he said. “Luckily, they have never run anyone over, but I think it’s important that you keep all the kids safe.” Elementary school expulsions
State legislators also passed a bill, Senate Bill 651, creating a policy that prevents schools from expelling pre-K, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade students. The law also makes it more difficult for schools to suspend students in these grades. “This bill essentially says that you can’t suspend them unless there are some extreme things going on there or unless they have a gun, and that you can’t expel them,” Smith said. “It’s pretty much a prohibition on expulsions, and some limited exceptions for suspensions. It’s basically designed to curb the school-to-prison pipeline.” The school-to-prison pipeline is a concept that the disciplinary actions taken by educational systems negatively affect low-income and minority students and set them up for a path that leads directly to the criminal justice system. “Last year we suspended over 2,300 students in pre-K. That had a disproportionate effect on students of color. AfricanAmericans, in particular, were suspended 64 percent of that time, even though they make up less than half of that in the school population,” Smith said. Junior Chas Goldman, the Deputy for Legislative Affairs for MCR, is in concurrence with this new policy. “I agree with the notion that students that are between the ages of three and eight shouldn’t be expelled from public school,” he said. According to Goldman, elementary school expulsions and suspensions affect minority students and students with disabilities at much higher rates. “Not just with out of school suspensions but with in-school suspensions as well, we see a major disparity in what groups of students are receiving those suspensions,” Goldman said.
BOE alters MCPS student transfer policy By Hermela Mengesha The Board of Education adopted revisions to Policy JEE, Student Transfers, on Dec. 13. This policy sets the conditions under which a student can obtain a school transfer, which is referred to as a Change of School Assignment. In the spring of 2018, the county will implement a weighted lottery process for admission into language immersion programs. The lottery will be weighted by socioeconomic status, as well as whether an applicant has a sibling in the immersion program. Under the previous policy, siblings of immersion students would automatically gain entry into the program. “My older brother got into Sligo Creek’s French immersion program. That allowed me and four of my other brothers in,” junior Lien-Dai Cao said. “That was great because all our mom had to do was drop us off at school and
pick us up at the same time.” The revised policy also allows students to transfer schools to take certain academic courses identified by the superintendent, such as Career and Technology Education programs. According to Patricia O’Neill, Board of Education member and chair of the policy management committee, the purpose of this change is to provide career options for students. “You would take not just one course, but a whole series of courses in that [field],” O’Neill said. For students who are currently in a language immersion program, the new policy will not apply to their siblings. “It is important that people understand it is grandfathered. If you are already in the program and your sibling applies, they’ll have the sibling link,” O’Neill said. This revision came as a result of a study of the county’s choice
programs conducted by Metis Associates, a research and consulting firm that works with public and private organizations to improve performance. “One of their recommendations was to make a change in the lottery process for immersion programs,” O’Neill said. According to O’Neill, the purpose of the weighted lottery process is to increase diversity in the immersion programs. “In an effort to have more fairness and more equity … we will be phasing out the sibling link,” O’Neill said. The decision to revise the policy was made in a seven to one vote. The policy was opened up to public comment more than three years ago. “We had 235 comments and about  percent of those wanted to maintain the sibling link,” O’Neill said. The majority of commenters in favor of keeping the sibling link identified as parents of students who are or have been in an immer-
sion program. Junior Madeleine Allou, along with her sister, attended the immersion program at Sligo Creek Elementary School. “If [my sister] had gotten in and I hadn’t, that would have been an inconvenience,” Allou said. Allou opposes the changes made to the sibling link. “I feel like they could have figured out another way to increase diversity, while still keeping siblings together. Splitting them up, I don’t think was the best idea,” Allou said. Throughout the county, there are 12 Chinese, French, and Spanish immersion programs in elementary and middle schools. The French immersion program at Sligo Creek Elementary School, the Spanish immersion program at Rolling Terrace Elementary School, and the Spanish and French immersion programs at Silver Spring International Middle School feed into Blair.
April 27, 2017
Students organize a TEDx event in Blair auditorium
By Leila Jackson
Seniors Eshan Tewari and Rohan Dalvi and science teachers John Haigh and Megan Hart hosted a TEDx event in the auditorium on April 6. They invited ﬁve speakers from various ﬁelds. The speakers included “America’s Millennial Expert” Gabrielle Bosche, team leader for the Street Outreach Network gang intervention program, José Segura, entomologist Samuel Ramsey, founder and president of the Player Progression Academy, Mike Worden, and orchestra conductor Simeone Tartaglione to speak at the event. Each presenter spoke about their professions, and the event included videos, photos, and pre-recorded TED talks. Tewari and Dalvi came up with the idea to organize a TEDx event at Blair after they attended one at Churchill. “We thought that it would be really cool to import the concept to Blair because the Silver Spring community has so much happening in it,” Dalvi said. TEDx events are local, independentlyorganized presentations with live speakers and videos of previous TED talks. According to the TED website, the goal of a TEDx event is to “spark conversation, connection and community.” TED licenses TEDx events and they have speciﬁc rules for how each event is carried out. Bosche, the speaker who presented about millennials, is a part of Generation Y herself and talked about the diﬀerences between millennials and other generations. She emphasized that millennials have not proven so far to be a “great” generation but that they have the potential to be. “We spend more time checking our social media statuses than our bank accounts. We avoid eye contact and handshakes and in-person conversations,” Bosche said. One positive attribute she mentioned was that millennials are a generation that cares about social equality. “Justice is a part of our core uniﬁer, it’s our core cause, and it’s our shared purpose,” Bosche said. Segura, the team leader of Street Outreach Network, became a security assistant for MCPS, and later came to work at Blair, where he was known as the “gang coordinator” because he knew many gang members throughout the school. Segura and an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher from Blair started an indoor soccer program where
TED TALKS José Segura speaks to Blair students in the auditorium about his gang intervention work in Montgomery County. around 125 Blazers from diﬀerent backgrounds came every day. “What was neat about this [was] that we had magnet students, we had ESOL students playing together in this indoor soccer program and the games were phenomenal,” Segura said. Segura said that he understood why people would gravitate towards gangs. He was adamant that he would never ask someone to leave a gang because gangs provide the qualities and support that a family would. “If I was to say to a young man or a young woman to get out the gang, I’m telling them … you need to leave your family, I would never do that,” Segura said. Ramsey, the entomologist, spoke about how he chose his career path and chronicled his life from the time in his childhood when he had an intense fear of insects to how they have become his passion. His main focus was getting over fear, which he sees as a barrier to progress. “[My parents] told me that people fear what they don’t understand and
that mantra still echoes through the walls of my life now, it changes the way I tackle problems, it changes the way I handle the subject of fear,” Ramsey said. Worden, the president of the Player Progression Academy, spoke about how he combined two unlikely topics, entrepreneurship and meditation, to ﬁnd success. He and his friends started a company centered on creating soccer programs and coaching children, but he found that as his company started to grow, he became overwhelmed. “The organization continued its upper trend of success but … my personal life didn’t seem to follow the same correlated trend,” Worden said. One of his mentors suggested meditation as a solution to his emotional problems, and he found that the relaxing practice beneﬁtted him as an entrepreneur. “What I’d originally seen as this is the entrepreneurial world and this is meditation, and they’re two separate things... in fact there were links between the
two … I found a symbiotic relationship between the two where one was reinforcing the other and vice versa,” Worden said. Tartaglione, the orchestra conductor, discussed how he has had a lifelong passion for music, speciﬁcally piano, even though he began college as an electrical engineer. It later became clear to him that he wanted to be a musician. He spoke about how he chooses the best pieces to perform for an audience and the importance of music to him. “The energy, the irresistible urge to say [to] people how much it [is] beautiful to be alive, that’s why music is in existence,” Tartaglione said. Tewari and Dalvi wanted the event to be relevant to students and sought to introduce diﬀerent views to the audience by inviting diverse speakers to present. “I think TEDx events introduce remarkably new perspectives to people. … One big issue about Blair is that people tend to bubble themselves oﬀ in the peer group or social group that they exist in,” Tewari said.
Up and Coming April 28
Deadline to order yearbooks
AP Testing PARCC Testing
Fine Arts Festival Puzzlepalooza
Pep rally Last day of school for seniors
Student & Teacher Awards & Honors Seniors Anna Barth, Ari Charles, Juliana Lu-Yang, and Ben Trunk and junior Isabel Present won ﬁrst place in the Keeping it SAFE video contest.
Blair Quiz Bowl members junior Ben Miller, sophomores Anson Berns and Ian Rackow, and freshman Ketherine Lei won ﬁrst place at Johns Hopkins University’s Blue Jay Bowl.
Senior Juliana Lu-Yang, juniors Wendy Shi and Annie Zhao, and sophomores Grace Cai and Nobline Yoo won the National Center for Women and Information Technology Award for the state of Maryland.
Members of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, seniors Emma Jin, Juliana Lu-Yang, Alex Miao, Lara Shonkwiler, Jamie Vinson, won the National Expert Brieﬁng.
Seniors Sened Belay, Asha Richards and Sydney Sharp were named Montgomery County Alliance of Black School Educators scholars.
Senior Claire Maske and junior Iyanu Bishop won the 2017 Washington D.C. Princeton Prize in Race Relations.
e g Senior
Sambuddha Chattopadhyay, junior Ben Miller, and sophomore Anson Berns of Blair’s It’s Academic team advanced to the D.C. It’s Academic ﬁnals, which will be held on May 20.
CAP government teacher Alison Russell was nominated for the Takoma Park Teacher of the Year Azalea Award.
B1 Opinion silverchips Montgomery Blair High School 51 University Boulevard East Silver Spring, MD 20901 Phone: (301) 649-2864 Winner of the 2015 National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker Winner of the 2015 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown Editors-in-Chief: Alexandra Marquez and Alice Park Managing News Editors: Dawson Do and Joshua Fernandes Managing Op/Ed Editor: Aditi Shetty Managing Features Editors: Julian Brown and Cole Sebastian Managing Entertainment Editors: Georgina Burros and Brianna Forté Managing Sports Editors: Grady Jakobsberg Ombudsman: Cole Sebastian Newsbriefs Editor: Dawson Do and Joshua Fernandes Executive Business Directors: Elizabeth Cove and Ariel Zhang Business Staﬀ: Gerrit Antonisse Marianne Benyamin Karen Depenyou Rudi Eilen Julia Henderson Kanani Jiang Honor Kalala Niki Patel Page Editors: Noah Chopra-Khan Emma Cross Alexander Dacy Serena Debesai Laura Espinoza Gilda Geist Olivia Gonzalez Cole Greenberg Leila Jackson Hermela Mengesha Elias Monastersky Christian Mussenden Erin Namovicz Isabella Tilley Henry Wiebe La Esquina Latina Editor-in-Chief: Camila Fernández La Esquina Latina Editor Carlos Fuentes La Esquina Latina Writers: Alisson Fortis Michael Hernández Angie Mejia Soﬁa Muñoz Managing Media Coordinator: Ben Miller Managing Photo Editors: Caleb Bauman and Griﬃn Reilly Photographers: Ben Doggett Jedediah Grady Chaminda Hangilipola Sami Mallon Hannah Schwartz Managing Art Editor: Shivani Mattikalli Artists: Jenny Cueva-Diaz Niamh Duecy Carly Tagen-Dye Lindsay Harris Marissa He Amy Krimm Tiﬀany Mao Alexandra Mendivil Aritra Roy Meghna Sambathkumar Sabrina Tan Puzzle Editor: Neal Sarkar Copy Editors: Divya John Sophia Liu Elia Martin La Esquina Latina Advisor: Dianette Coombs Advisor: Jeremy Stelzner
April 27, 2017
The census needs to think outside of the box
Current racial and ethnic categories are outdated and confusing By Olivia Gonzalez An opinion
Although the Census comes along every ten years, it seems that its racial categories are still stuck in the days of the dinosaurs. With the exception of a few changes in terminology and the addition of the Paciﬁc Islander category, the racial options on the Census have stayed relatively unchanged since the 1970s. These antiquated categorizations often cause confusion among people of Hispanic/Latino and Middle Eastern descent, which leads to inaccurate demographical data. The Census currently recognizes white, black, Asian, Paciﬁc Islander, and Native American as races, and Hispanic/Latino as an ethnicity. According to a 2013 article published by Dr. Alan Templeton, a professor in the biology department at Washington University in St. Louis, this categorization is not even biologically correct. The paper argues that race only exists in the cultural sense, and that “there are no objective criteria for choosing one adaptive trait over another to deﬁne race.”
Additionally, this categorization causes much confusion for those who are Hispanic/Latino, who are forced to choose a race in addition to their ethnicity, and those who are Middle Eastern, who are considered white on the Census. This confusion should not
be ignored. In the 2010 Census, nearly 40 percent of Hispanic/Latino people chose the “some other race” category and wrote in things like “Mexican,” and “Central/Latin American,” according to a 2015 article from the Pew Research Center. As a result, “some other race” was the third most
selected category, surpassing the Asian, Native American, Paciﬁc Islander, and “two or more races” categories. Additionally, a survey done by the Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of Hispanics/Latinos felt that being Hispanic/Latino was a part of their racial identity, not a part of a separate ethnic category. Therefore, in order for Census data to be most accurate, Hispanic/Latino needs to be considered its own category. It is an easy ﬁx; by replacing the word “race” with the word “category” on the 2020 Census, labels can expand to include the Hispanic/Latino and Middle Eastern ethnicities. There is no logical opposition to making this change and even the Census Bureau is starting to recognize the validity of this tweak. The organization is considering making the adaptation for the next Census based on research that has been conducted by the Bureau since the 1970s. Dinosaurs are extinct, and the Census Bureau’s racial categories should be too. By making these changes for the upcoming census, the organization can ﬁnally join us in the twenty-ﬁrst century.
Gay is okay, but MCPS’ health curriculum is not
Sex education is currently underserving LGBTQ+ students By Gilda Geist An opinion
Contrary to popular belief, the legalization of same sex marriage in 2016 did not normalize the LGBTQ+ community in mainstream society and did not end homophobia. LGBTQ+ topics remain taboo in nearly all settings, including MCPS health classes, where sex is supposed to be discussed. The MCPS health curriculum must be inclusive of LGBTQ+ topics in order to promote safe sex, healthy relationships, and LGBTQ+ acceptance and normalization. The portion of the health curriculum that addresses LGBTQ+ topics is lacking in both quality and the length of time spent on the subject as a whole. When LGBTQ+ students do not receive a good education in their health classes, there are consequences. According to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), LGBTQ+ youth are more likely than straight youth to “have begun having sex at an early age,” “experience dating violence,” and “contract HIV or other STIs,” and are less likely than straight youth to use condoms or other contraceptives during sex. In order to avoid these repercussions, the health curriculum must
be improved to include more information for LGBTQ+ students. As it is now, the health curriculum does not dedicate enough time to discussing LGBTQ+ topics. According to health and physical education teacher Lauren Gonzalez, the semester-long health class currently dedicates about two class periods to the unit titled “Sexual Orientation.” These lessons, which are compiled in a teacher resource titled “Grade 10 Sexual Orientation Sample Learning Tasks,” seem to be written for the purpose of educating exclusively straight people about the LGBTQ+ community. For example, according to the a set of guidelines for the sexual orientation unit, one of the assignments included in the curriculum is to watch a video about coming out, followed by an assessment to test the students’ knowledge. Based on the simplicity of the mere seven questions on this quiz, it is clear that the information is targeted at straight people. For example, one of the questions asks, “What is the correct term to describe intolerance of or prejudice against a person believed to be LGBT?” The answer choices are homophobia, claustrophobia, arachnophobia, and acrophobia. It is safe to say that most LGBTQ+
people would not confuse homophobia with the fear of spiders. While it is important to educate straight people about the LGBTQ+ community, there is almost no part of the curriculum that gives LGBTQ+ students new and useful information about safe sex between non-heterosexual couples. According to senior Esther Martinez Garcia, who has taken health and identiﬁes as bisexual, the video that follows the preassessment was not engaging. “There was a video shown about LGBTQ+ youth, but it was super old and the teacher was like, ‘I’m bored, I’m going to just stop this,’” Garcia said. “I was the only one watching it. Everyone else was like, ‘We don’t need this.’” Garcia even admitted to being bored by the video herself, and for a good reason. This video, titled “Coming Out: What Every Teen (Gay and Straight) Needs to Know,” includes cheesy slow-motion black and white shots of gay couples holding hands, a montage of LGBTQ+ teens talking about their exclusively positive experiences with coming out, and melancholy piano music. This is all interspersed with shots of a young man standing in front of a green screen deﬁning basic terms like
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“gay” and “lesbian.” The video is so simple that most students are not learning much from it, especially LGBTQ+ students. Eden Treado, a queer and nonbinary junior who has taken health, noticed that all of the stories that people told in the video had a happy ending. “All the experiences were positive, which is not going to be everybody’s experience,” they said. While it is important to show LGBTQ+ youth that coming out is not always scary, it is more important to tell the truth, which is that coming out is not a fun ﬁeld trip of selfdiscovery. It can, and often does, come with hardships. The video is just one example of how the health curriculum fails to normalize the LGBTQ+ community. The video, and the majority of the unit, is a great example of “straightsplaining,” meaning that the information is overly and poorly explained from an almost exclusively heterosexual perspective. LGBTQ+ students do not need an excessively over-simpliﬁed video preceded by a ridiculously shallow quiz. They need information about how to have safe sex, what to do if their family does not react well to them coming out, and where they can ﬁnd resources for support. “Health classes are supposed to provide information on safe sex and life strategies,” Treado said. “The lack of addressing those issues just makes LGBT people more invisible.” MCPS does not necessarily need to extend the “Sexual Orientation” unit, but more discussion of the LGBTQ+ community must be woven into other topics. For example, when discussing sexually transmitted diseases, there must be some acknowledgement of the LGBTQ+ community. Both Garcia and Treado heard little or no mention of the LGBTQ+ community in their health class’s discussions about HIV and AIDS. LGBTQ+ students are at risk in many ways, but a better sex education and a health class that is more inclusive of LGBTQ+ topics would make a diﬀerence in normalizing and educating the LGBTQ+ community.
April 27, 2017
Social media is a convenient tool to promote learning.
From Google Classroom to Chromebooks to Kahoot, the digital world and the Internet are now integrated into school systems. Some educators have taken things a step further and embraced social media as a tool for communicating with students. Unfortunately, this has led some school districts, including MCPS, to enact policies that prevent teachers and students from communicating with one another via BEN DOGGETT social media. Serena Debesai School systems should do away with archaic policies, and allow teachers and students to interact through social media, because it is a highly convenient platform for facilitating learning outside of the classroom. Teenagers today spend an unprecedented amount of time online, and social media sites are more popular than ever, with 76 percent of teens using one or more social networks, according to the Pew Research Center. Teachers can use social media to take advantage of the fact that students are constantly “plugged in,” and deliver reminders or updates on class assignments in a timely manner. With sites like Twitter, messages can be delivered to large groups of students almost instantaneously. Imagine scrolling through your Twitter timeline on your way home from school, just to learn that your teacher has granted an extension on the essay that was due tomorrow. It is difficult to replicate this convenience with other technologies because students are more connected to social media than other forms of communication. Aside from its convenience, social media can act as a supplement to learning in school. Communication Arts Program (CAP) government teacher Allison Russell primarily uses her “teacher Twitter account” to live tweet political events and share articles with students. Russell feels that Twitter allows learning to extend beyond the classroom by demonstrating how class content applies in a broader context. “I think that it is a good way to help students see that there are a lot of connections that they can make outside of class, and that government is a class that really matters to them,” Russell says. Although social media interaction between students and teachers has its benefits, it is still necessary to establish boundaries between students and teachers online. While the vast majority of teachers who use social media do so to enhance students’ educational experience, a small population could conceivably use social media to engage in inappropriate relationships with students. Still, the fact of the matter is that improper relationships between students and teachers will, and do, take place without the aid of social media. Dr. Scott McLeod, the director of innovation for the Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency
believes that social media is often assigned blame in instances of abuse, although it is not what drives inappropriate actions of students and teachers. Instead of entirely prohibiting student-teacher communication on social media platforms, school systems can address this issue by developing appropriate regulations that promote positive online behaviors. “School districts’ policy focus always should be on students’ and staff’s underlying actions, not the technologies themselves. We don’t need Facebook or texting policies; we need behavior policies,” McLeod writes in an article for the American Association for School Superintendents. Luckily, social media interactions between students and teachers can be monitored to a large extent. If teachers are required to make their academic social media accounts public, their posts can be viewed and regulated. Student-teacher interactions on social media should also not take place in private chats or direct
Teachers can use other outlets to talk to students. Amid your busy, not-in-chronological order Twitter timeline, there is a chance you might see a post or two from one of your teachers. That tweet may be harmless, but social media interactions between students and teachers can dangerously blur the lines of teacher-student interactions, contribute to teacher bias, and, in a few cases, foster inappropriate relationships. The only way to avoid these dangers is by preventing students and BEN DOGGETT teachers from Isabella Tilley developing any kind of relationship over social
The rise of social media has blurred the lines of professionalism and outside-the-classroom interaction. Today, employees and students can be disciplined for social media posts, bringing employers and school officials into their subordinates’ private lives. Should teachers be able to connect with students over social media? messages, which are not public record. School systems need to take steps to adapt to our increasingly digital society. Social media can become a transformative force in education, but it will require a major shift in mindset. If school systems are willing to create comprehensive policies that can mitigate the negative effects of student-teacher social media interactions, there is no reason that students should be unable to reap the benefits of learning through social media. The bottom line is that social media is here to stay. Schools should educate teachers and students on how to use these platforms effectively instead of shying away from valuable tools.
media. Many teachers use “educational” social media accounts, but these accounts do not supplement education any more than other mediums. For direct contact, teachers and students can easily email each other. To get the audience one might have with social media, teachers can use Google Classroom, which is paid for and monitored by the county, making it a safer platform for students. It also does not make sense to use social media for key assignments or necessary contact with students since not all students use social media. The benefits of using social media--convenience, most notably--instead of email or Google
Classroom are hardly worth the risk school systems take when they let teachers interact with students over social media. The most dangerous aspect of students and teachers connecting over social media is the possibility of inappropriate sexual relationships. According to a Washington Post column by a former U.S. Department of Education official, in 2014, there was an average of 15 reported incidents per week of teachers or school officials accused of sexual relationships with students. In those 781 incidents, 36 percent of the alleged predators used social media in order to further the relationship. These 781 incidents obviously do not represent all teachers -- there are thousands of school officials across America. But because over a third of those 781 school officials used social media, schools and parents have a legitimate reason to be worried about digital interactions between students and teachers. Unlike emails, online interactions like direct messages are not public record. Schools and parents cannot see what is going on between students and teachers over social media as easily as they could see what is going on in an email exchange, and they have no way of preventing inappropriate exchanges. School districts have no way of verifying that teachers who use social media to interact with their students are not going to make inappropriate advances on their students, so their best bet is to ban studentteacher social media interactions in order to prevent these instances as best they can. Stricter regulations can help prevent these situations altogether, as opposed to more relaxed rules that would only punish perpetrators after they have committed a crime. The MCPS policy preventing studentteacher interactions actually allows MCPS to prevent the possibility that an inappropriate student-teacher relationships forms over social media. It is not certain that all social media relations between students and teachers will lead to an inappropriate relationship, but a policy preventing any social media interactions eliminates that risk. For the majority of teachers who do not prey on their students, student-teacher interaction over social media is still a bad idea. There is a chance that the teacher will learn more about their students’ lives. Even if teachers use a classroom or educational social media account, students will interact with that account through their personal social media accounts. Not only could this make the student-teacher relationship less professional, but teachers may see something incriminating that would cause the student to fall out of favor, or they may see something positive that would encourage them to favor a certain student. Either way, student-teacher social media relations, even if they do not lead to sexually inappropriate relationships, could encourage teacher bias, and affect the way teachers treat and grade their students. Due to the possibility of inappropriate and unprofessional relationships between students and teachers, all social media interactions between the two should be prevented. Besides, there is a strong possibility that most students are not looking at their teachers’ tweets anyway.
voicebox Keven Nunez Sophomore
“No, a student may post something inappropriate, and a teacher may see it and call the parents.”
Jacqueline Ndjib Senior
“Yes, as long as it is professional and you are going to them for advice.”
Camille Wilson Freshman
“Yes, if it is...promoting stuff or the school and reposting things that students did. ”
Avery Brooks Sophomore
“Yes, it is fine as long as it does not get super personal. But if you just follow them on social media it is fine.”
Darien Price Junior
“No, the relationship between teachers and students should be strictly professional.”
April 27, 2017
Summer jobs are better than student interships
Work experiences help students gain perspective and prepare for the future By Emma Cross An opinon When summer arrives, students often debate whether to take a paying job that will help them save for their future, or to try out an internship that will provide experience in their field of interest. Internships can be very rewarding, but they are a gamble. Interning does not guarantee a beneficial experience, whereas jobs – in retail, food services, or another area – guarantee that students will gain important life skills, as well as a paycheck, not available in an internship or a class environment. Jobs allow students to earn money that can be put toward their future careers, such as through kickstarting a savings account for college. Navigating a part-time job can also prepare teens for finding and keeping a job during college to help with ad-
ditional expenses. Even if a summer job does not pay very well, certain companies provide financial assistance for their employees’ educations. According to an article published on CollegeScholarships.org, big companies offer scholarships and tuition assistance to working students. “Large corporations often set aside company funds for a variety of scholarship programs. These companies understand that the well educated workforce of tomorrow depends on accessible education today,” the article reads. Along with other options such as tuition reimbursement that could be used for college, working a summer job could ultimately allow students to negotiate ways to invest in their future. Even for students who do not plan to go to college, or do not need assistance in paying
SUMMER JOBS Senior Maniza Habib works hard in her position at Kumon, an after school tutoring company for math and reading.
Chivalry By Cole Greenberg An opinon
Romantic chivalry, a longstanding code preaching honor and courtesy from a man to a woman, has come and gone in modern times. The dating paradigm has now shifted from something stale to something fresh: hookup culture. The culprit behind this cultural coup d’état is not a specific gender—as Internet screaming matches tend to suggest—but rather the rise of social media and dating apps. Obvious or not, these changes in dating culture make it difficult for individuals to really connect face-to face (excluding late night activities). That being said, chivalry was by no means a perfect system. Society really just traded in the knightly sexism of chivalry for widespread intimacy issues and a web of unhappy singles. Even the 2016 Republican nominating convention was less of a lose-lose situation than that. But while the customs and subtext of romantic chivalry may have enforced female submission, they did preserve polite and respectful interactions between genders to some extent. Eventually opening doors, holding out umbrellas, and paying for meals were all labeled as too traditional and when society reformed, courtesy went to the curb and relationships went on the decline. According to a Gallup poll published two years ago, 64 percent of adults ages 18-29 were single in 2014, up from 48 percent in 2005.
American science fiction writer Larry Niven once bluntly stated that “ethics change with technology.” He was right on the money. Modern apps like Tinder, Instagram, Snapchat, and even texting make it digestible for individuals to take the personal nature out of dating— treating each other less like people and more like profiles. There is a reason why the pictures on Tinder are much bigger than the words. Not only does the Internet lead to prospective romantic partners treating each worse than costars on a reality TV show, but at the same time it prevents people from making a good impression. All you can get from someone’s Twitter page is what they think of the latest “Homeland” episode,
for higher education, there is no downside to the experience of earning money. Saving money teaches students to be responsible, therefore preparing them for independence and financial success after high school. Sophomore Zakariya Gordon worked throughout a summer for the Sew and Know program at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, where she taught other students basic sewing skills. Gordon believes internships and jobs both have advantages; however, she says jobs allow students to learn money management skills that cannot be acquired through interning. Long hours and physical labor expose students to experiences that they have been sheltered from in high school, and working in retail and food services can help teens appreciate the employees who do these jobs every day. Gordon says that hard work helps students respect people and build character. “You learn how it is in the workforce, you learn what some people have to do to make money so maybe it makes you more humble or appreciative,” she reads. While many internships allow students to gain insight into potential work environments, some are unpredictable. Some internships may not actually provide the experience that was expected, and the student might end up doing simple tasks as an assistant rather than actually gaining practical knowledge. Senior Sankara Olama-Yai has done multiple summer internships, including working for the and often little about who they really are. They could be a genuinely kind person, but if both sides of a romantic encounter are unsure how to show that in person, than we have an issue. Although it is possible to show courtesy on a dating app, right now what we need is more face-to-face interaction. What we need is a reformed strain of Chivalry— a code of interaction with the same core ideals of courtesy, but without the heavy historical baggage, especially the “males only” sign. Forget about opening a door for a woman because of the ye olde thought that she is unable to open it herself. How about opening a door for someone (man or woman) because it is a polite thing to do?
Public International Law and Policy Group. Olama-Yai says that in one internship, he did not actually do law work as he expected, and was given straightforward tasks instead. “I was sorting files for someone. She just had a year of files that she hadn’t organized, and I was just sitting at a desk, organizing … I was underused, underappreciated,” he says. This risk of a non-educational, unpaid experience is avoided in a paid job, where worthwhile work is guaranteed due to clear work descriptions and expectations of employees. Furthermore, in a paid job, workers are guaranteed to interact with customers and develop social skills. In addition, internships are not necessarily more valuable than jobs on a college application. According to U.S. News & World Report, colleges recognize that students gain thoroughly important experiences through jobs. “Many admissions officers like to see that candidates—especially those applying for financial aid—are beginning to assume a degree of financial responsibility,” the article reads. While internships may provide insight and experience in a future career, students with summer jobs are guaranteed not only beneficial experiences, but an opportunity to invest in their future with money saved from the job itself. Even without the future in mind, there is no downside to a student gaining appreciation for the hard work of others and learning how to navigate financial responsibility— both worthwhile abilities to have in life.
soapbox Do you think summer jobs or internships are more beneficial to high school students? “I think summer jobs are definitely beneficial because it can never hurt to save up a little extra money. Especially before college,” — Jake Kibunja, junior “I think internships are more beneficial to students because they are conducted with a mentor and are used to teach the student about a new skill or job, while summer jobs are generally activities that students already know how to do.” — Marie Brodsky, freshman
Exorsizing the other side
The necessity of Devil’s advocates By Elias Monastersky An opinon Classroom discussions often end up with the same outcome: a bunch of people in the room with the same opinions agreeing with each other. There is something needed in these situations that is often missing; something to break up the mundanity of a bunch of yes-men consoling each other with their “I totally agree”s and “you have a terrific point”s. And then they appear, like a knight in shining armor. They are Devil’s advocates. Devil’s advocates purposefully take a contentious opinion they may not agree with to make an argument or discussion more interesting and to allow the consideration of another opinion. The view they express is often one that is represented by a small minority, if it is even represented at all. The Silver Spring community is plagued with an ideologic “mob mentality”. While a bubble is often the way that this is described, it is not necessarily the best analogy. The problem is not that Silver Spring is limited in its ideological diversity, it is that the people lock out the other opinions, creating an unhealthy disconnect from the political views of a large portion of our country. When Devil’s advocates do not always agree with what they are arguing, it allows for the experience to be a learning opportunity focused on evaluating the actual argument, not just blindly agreeing
with everyone else. It is already healthy to read articles or news sources that contain unfamiliar opinions or ideas; not only as a way to gain knowledge, but also as a way to develop coherent counter arguments to these opposing ideas. This causes students to become more open-minded individuals instead of sticking to generic group identifications like liberal or conservative, or Democrat or Republican. The Devil’s advocate gambit is commonly used in corporate America. A person often designated as a Devil’s advocate looks for all possible cracks or flaws in a business plan before it is green lit. This allows for mistakes that are potential wastes of money to be caught before they are released to the public. These corporate Devil’s advocates also allow for the most impartial view available, giving feedback that is not easily obtained from people that have time or money invested in the project. Being a Devil’s advocate in school is not a waste of time; it is a way to prepare and practice skills that could be vital later in life. Being an adept disputant is paramount in life. There needs to be someone who asks the tough questions; someone who brings to light cracks that exist in what are thought to be indisputable claims. Devil’s advocates are those people. They are necessary in the classroom, and students should be encouraged to take on that role.
April 27, 2017
A SMOB story of false promises and crushed dreams
Campaigns designed to attract voters fall short in creating lasting change By Erin Namovicz An opinion For MCPS students, the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) is the highest office in the land. To many, this election is students’ only opportunity to vote for an office larger than their class council, someone whose power is on par with the Board members that their parents elect. However, this image of prestige leaves many students under the false impression that the office of SMOB holds any more influence than it does: a vote on the Board to represent students. We expect too much of our SMOBs. They run on elaborate platforms to grab our attention, but the one year span of time for which they usually hold office is not long enough to create sweeping changes. Each year, candidates’ platforms bring a renewed focus on innovation, sometimes sacrificing practicality along the way. Many students know SMOB candidate Alexander Abrosimov for his promise to implement food trucks, which he spreads on Twitter with the hashtag #LetsTruckItUp. It is creative ideas such as this one that sway many students to vote one way or another. According to Abrosimov, this “cool thing” is “just one out of my five plans to solve the school lunch issue. They’re not the number one thing.” Still, too many students base their decision on auxiliary items like food trucks that are not representative of a candidate’s whole platform. Abrosimov’s highest priority is infrastructure overhaul, but as fantasizing about
food trucks is more appealing to teenagers than discussing the financial consequences of crumbling buildings, the focus is drawn to the former. Current SMOB Eric Guerci explains that every candidate has to lean on campaigning strategies
The purpose of the SMOB is to bring new insight and the student voice into Board discussions. According to Board vice president Judith Docca, the SMOB is equal to all other eight members when it comes to determining policy. “[Guerci] has certainly weighed in
superintendent of schools, to drive home the changes that you want to see?” Guerci explains. Additionally, some SMOB candidates do not have a full handle on all of the intricacies of state regulations and are forced to learn on the job. This can eat away at
A VOTE ON THE BOARD Eric Guerci (center) votes on an issue at the March 30 Board meeting. such as this “wow” factor. “There are certain things you have to do to win elections,” Guerci says, adding that he was not immune to this publicity trap himself. Even the most innovative changes are not necessarily going to be implemented just because the candidate advocating them got elected. “The reality is that ... to get any change across the finish line, what it really takes is five votes of the Board of Education. You are not the executive,” Guerci explains.
on all of the things that we do. … He’s a Board member just like the rest of the Board members,” she says. However, many of the issues that Board members vote on are pre-set in the agenda by the superintendent, and it takes clout and negotiation for rookie SMOBs who generally only serve for one year to even bring an issue to discussion. “It’s all about relationships at the end of the day. … Can you effectively work with members of the MCPS administration, with the
their limited time in office. When Guerci campaigned for SMOB, he included that he supported “P.E. credit exemption for student athletes in varsity and JV sports” in his official platform. However, he has not yet been able to see that change enacted, because when he brought it up in front of the Board, he found that the Code of Maryland Regulations requires each school system to provide at least one semester of physical education for its students. Substitutions of outside activi-
ties are not allowed. According to Guerci, he was unsure if he was aware of this regulation during his campaign, though the Board did receive additional guidance from the State Superintendent on this issue this year. Many of the challenges that the Board faces, such as the achievement gap, are enduring issues that take long-term approaches to fix. Each SMOB coming up with a new idea every year is not the most effective solution to such problems. One proposed approach to lowering the achievement gap is universal pre-K. According to SMOB candidate and Guerci’s chief of staff Matthew Post, this would lead to a “massive decrease in racial disparities,” but it would need to be rolled out slowly, and results would be seen over 20 years. SMOBs need to bring fresh ideas to the table, but they must build off the legacies their predecessors have left for them. While it is easy to get caught up attracting voters with innovative ideas, candidates must keep an eye on the goal, not just getting elected. “The real challenges we face today of racial disparities, of economic injustice, … they’re not gonna be solved in a year. Or two. Or maybe even three,” Post says. When voting for SMOB, students need to remember that not everything will be a quick win. “You have your victories, you have your losses,” Post says. “You have the times when you have to realize maybe this isn’t the year to get it done, and then you keep moving forward and keep pushing for progress.”
April 27, 2017
My Blair: Personal Column Your future needs you now
COURTESY OF JOSEPH BELLINO
BILLY GOAT HIKE ESOL students go for a hike on the Billy Goat Trail along the Potomac River. In the late seventies, the ESOL program at Blair also went on a camping trip and to King’s Dominion.
& NOW: 2017
COURTESY OF JODY GIL
SUGARLOAF BONDING Students in Jody Gil’s sixth period ESOL class pose for a picture on top of Sugarloaf Mountain after a hike on April 8. See page C2 for a feature about the history of Blair’s ESOL program.
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By Elizabeth Levien Guest writer You did not create the world you inherit. But still, there is only one world and it’s all yours in short time. If you saw someone in pain, someone in need, your instincts would tell you to go offer them your help. You might not be a trained paramedic, but you would know, I must do something. Our world is hemorrhaging. Our attention is drawn to foreboding headlines like rampant, institutional racism, surging xenophobia, political systems turned on their head, turbulent economies, the outbreak of war. To top all of that off, though, I ask that you recognize that all of our threats will be immeasurably magnified by climate change. This is not a hippie sentiment. “The Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change has warned the impact of global warming will drive massive refugee movements of an ‘unimaginable scale’, and that climate represents ‘the greatest security threat of the 21st century’,” according to an article in the Guardian. “Our own military recognizes this: Former US deputy undersecretary of defense Sherri Goodman told the Guardian this month that climate change was a ‘threat multiplier’ for unstable regions around the world, but that its impacts would be felt globally, and by countries distant from the source conflict.” The regular occurrence of drought, flooding, wildfire, supercharged storms, climate refugee crises, public health nightmare scenarios due to the spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes, sea-level rise, food shortages, etc, etc, etc, will leave none of us unscathed. We might avoid direct hits due to our locality, but we
will all be paying the price. So back to that person. You help them. Now, back to you. What can you possibly do to slow down the worst, foreseeable crisis humans have ever known? You can contribute your voice and your presence to make a formidable show that the youth will not accept this. You can lead. You can join the fight. You can demand a safe future by insisting that actions are taken now. Not in 10 years. Not after squabbling and infighting. Now. Join the youth contingent at the 2017 People’s Climate March on Saturday, April 29. Bring as many people as you can. Show the world you do not accept such a terrifying future and that you will not be silent. I will be there. I will be there because I am terrified for my young children. I will be there because I know experts have assured us there is a way to avert the most dire scenarios. I will be there because I know there is no wiggle room to get this right. It is now, or, it is never. Oh, I will be there because I know marches can change the course of history. Gandhi’s March to the Sea, MLK’s March on Washington, and the 1963 Children’s Crusade in Birmingham have changed history. If the youth don’t show up, this will just be another march to add to the others. If you do, though, I know that we have a chance. Want to submit a personal column? Email it to email@example.com! The Editorial Board will read through all submissions and determine a selection.
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April 27, 2017
Vending machine nutrition standards are not enough
The county must limit the availability of added sugars in schools Thirsty? Head to the vending machine and what do you see? 180 grams of sugar canned up and ready to kill you. Even though recent Montgomery County regulations attempt to cut back on the amount of sugar available to easily victimized kids (see page A4); the very schools that should be educating Montgomery County’s children on healthy lifestyles are instead hooking them on sugar, the one substance they have never been able to escape. Although these new regulations on vending machines are an appropriate first step, the county’s nutritional guidelines fall short in regulating one primary culprit of chronic disease worldwide: added sugar. According to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), added sugar meets the same four criteria used by the public health community to justify regulation of alcohol— unavoidability, toxicity, potential for abuse, and negative effects on society. Excessive sugar is extremely toxic to human health; a robust body of research argues that excessive sugar consumption contributes to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and cognitive decline. Despite researchers’ overwhelming consensus that overconsumption of sugar leads to a host of costly and harmful problems, sugar is still ubiquitous in schools, particularly in vending machines. The new guidelines require that foods in vending machines contain no more than 35 percent of calories from total sugars. A 20 oz bottle of Pepsi, with 69 grams of sugar, still meets these standards. A bag of Krave S’mores cereal and a Jack & Jill ice cream sandwich do, too. Under the new rules, candy bars, soda, and chips—classic junk foods— can still be sold in schools, as long
as they make up less than half of vending machine options. When they made the decision to impose new nutrition guidelines, the county council correctly affirmed that teaching students and residents about nutrition and exercise is not enough. Like alcohol and tobacco, added sugar is a toxic substance that “similarly warrants some form of societal intervention,” according to the UCSF researchers. Though candy and sugary sodas have indisputably detrimental effects on human health, it is no surprise that they remain in schools. For decades, the sugar industry has funded research downplaying the risks of added sugar and attributing blame to fat for obesity, cancer, and other diseases. According to NPR, since the 1960s, “the sugar industry has been attempting to influence the scientific debate over the relative risks of sugar and fat.” A candy trade association even funded studies that concluded that children who eat sweets have healthier weights than those who do not. The regulations also do not address artificial sweeteners, which can be over 600 times sweeter than regular sugars, according to the December 2011 issue of the Harvard Health Letter. The same article states that daily consumption of artificially sweetened drinks is associated with a 67 percent increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes is linked to. Despite these concerns, the Montgomery County bill makes no effort to regulate artificial sweeteners in vending machines, which is concerning, as many companies use artificial sweeteners in place of natural sugar in their products to evade sugar regulations. MCPS is setting students up for failure when it comes to mak-
ing healthy meal choices. Students spend 12 years in school learning practices that they will carry on throughout their lives. Therefore, it seems paradoxical that students, from elementary to high school, are forced to choose from a variety of unhealthy snacks in school, and consequently develop poor eating habits. As children are conditioned to crave sugar, students cannot always be expected to properly discern between healthier choices and the more delicious option, for the same psychological reasons that they are not legally allowed to decide if they should buy tobacco and alcohol products. According to the American Psychological Association, food ads make up 50 percent of advertisements on children’s television shows. Of those advertisements, 72 percent are for sugar-loaded candy, snacks, cereal, and fast food; five percent are for dairy products and fruit juices, which still usually contain unnecessary added sugars. An easy solution would be to propose that children bring healthy food from home. However, for the 34.9 percent of MCPS students who are on free and reduced meals, eating healthy at home is not always a viable option. According to a 2013 study by the Harvard School of Public Health, eating a healthy diet costs about $1.50 more per person per day than eating an unhealthy diet, which adds up. It is the school’s responsibility to provide nutritious options for students, and vending machines are no exception. In order to significantly reduce the consumption of added sugar in children and teenagers, MCPS needs to practice what they preach and actually provide students with the materials to
establish healthy habits. Placing healthier snacks in vending machines across the country will not only aid students’ efforts to succeed, but it will also put MCPS at the forefront of national efforts to improve the quality of food offered to children and teenagers at school.
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Handing off the baton to next year’s Ombudsman By Cole Sebastian and Laura Espinoza Cole As my tenure as ombudsman comes to a close, I have taken some time to reflect on failures and accomplishments over the past year. Each cycle, I squeezed 500 words about whatever was bouncing around in my head and called it a day. Besides the column, my role has consisted mostly of waiting; waiting for a personal column submission, waiting for a letter to the editor, waiting for a reader complaint. The role of ombudsman is to serve as public liaison to the newspaper. However, I— and many past ombudsmen— have not been entirely proactive about outreach and feedback, an area that Silver Chips could greatly benefit from. That is why I am proud to announce that the role of ombudsman will be greatly expanded next year. Ombudsman will be its own role, not paired with any other role. For the past year, I have worked as both ombudsman and features editor. While the roles are equally important, an editing job has more pressing and tangible demands that have often prevented me from fully embracing the role of ombudsman. The ombudsman title will now go to someone who has the time and dedication to come into the Chips lab every day and work towards one goal: fully representing
2016-17 Ombudsman Cole Sebastian 2017-18 Ombudsman Laura Espinoza the Blair community in our paper. I cannot wait to be humbled by the accomplishments of my successor. I am also proud to have a small part in helping to reinvent the role for next year and years
after. With that I am proud to introduce the woman who will bring Silver Chips into a new era, your 2017-2018 ombudsman, Laura Espinoza.
Laura When you think of the writers behind Silver Chips stories, the same sort of student probably come to mind. Although people
like to say, “Great minds think alike,” we do not want our articles to only represent a small subset of our 3,000 students. As a staff writer over the past year, I noticed areas where the paper does not always accomplish this diversity in thought. We have a great section of our paper completely dedicated to Spanish speakers, and we encourage readers to submit letters to the editor and personal columns. Yet, we still do not reach all students or their voices. Regardless of your background or opinions, I want you to feel that Silver Chips is writing stories that matter to you. Please write to us, talk to our writers when they are scouring the SAC, and share your favorite stories with your friends and family members. Take the journalism class at Blair so that you can apply for the publications and write real news. Whether you use Silver Chips as a source of information, a message board to get your ideas across, or as kindling for your backyard fire pit, pick up a copy every cycle. Tell me if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions about anything you read. In a time where news is being thrown at you everywhere you look, we want Silver Chips to be a place to find solid, reputable stories that will not skimp on the details or the truth. And when you find that truth, hold onto it and never let go. Also, tag us on Twitter when you do.
April 27, 2017
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April 27, 2017
Community seeks action against educator sexual misconduct
Evaluating the new MCPS Child Abuse and Neglect policy from ABUSE POLICY page A1 training. This came as a response to a series of high profile sexual misconduct cases in MCPS. Each situation highlighted a lack of effective MCPS policies aimed at preventing educator sexual misconduct against students. MCPS created an employee code of conduct in 2015 and worked to ensure that all allegations of sexual misconduct were reported properly. Despite these strides, questions remain, and both parents and experts in the field are concerned about the effectiveness and implementation of the county’s policy. “They’ve done a lot of good work so far, but they still have a lot left to do,” says Jennifer Alvaro, a social worker and MCPS parent. Know your rights Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs, also protects students against sexual misconduct by school employees. In 2001, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released guidelines to help ensure that schools fulfill their obligation to students under Title IX to prevent sexual misconduct. One of the many recommendations in the guidelines is that each school should have “at least one employee to coordinate [the school’s] efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under Title IX.” Under the county’s current child abuse and neglect policy, all MCPS employees, contractors, and volunteers are personally required to report any suspicions of child abuse and neglect directly to Child Protective Services (CPS). “[Schools] should have a Title IX officer who is trained in how to handle these cases, how to recognize them, and what to do if there is a report,” Billie-Jo Grant says. Grant is part of the board of directors for Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct & Exploitation (SESAME), a national nonprofit organization devoted to researching and preventing sexual misconduct by educators against students. In past cases of sexual misconduct by staff in MCPS, problems arose in both the reporting and investigation of the allegations. A teacher at Kemp Mill Elementary School, Daniel Picca, was fired in 2011 for insubordination and misconduct. For 17 years prior to his termination, Picca was bounced around the school system, while principals and supervisors attempted to correct his repeated inappropriate behavior towards students. He started as a teacher at Candlewood Elementary School in 1985, but the first allegation against Picca came in 1993 from the principal of Rachel Carson Elementary School, where he was accused of asking a young boy to sit on his lap. In 1994, he formed a “Strong Boys Club,” where Picca “would direct the boys to take off their shirts and feel their muscles.” Former MCPS Superintendent Paul Vance issued a reprimand of Picca’s conduct in 1995, but then transferred him to Luxmanor Elementary School from Rachel Carson with a warning to conduct himself in a “in a responsible and professional manner.” CPS conducted an investigation of Picca in 1995, and the Office of Administrative Hearings found him to be responsible for child abuse. Despite multiple attempts to repeal the ruling, the charge remained on Picca’s record. However, MCPS was not aware of these findings until 2010. When Picca was transferred to Kemp Mill for the 2000-2001 school year, complaints of inappropriate behaviors continued until May 2010, when a colleague reported Picca for inappropriate conduct. Former Superintendent Jerry Weast recommended that Picca be fired, but Picca resisted the allegations. In May 2011, the State Board of Education upheld the recommendation and encouraged all schools to be more vigilant of these behaviors. “It would be prudent for school systems to review their personnel records to be sure there are no cases, like this one, lurking in their schools,” the state Board said in a report about the case. Before the creation of the county’s Child Abuse and Neglect policy in 2015, allegations of sexual misconduct were often reported to school officials or the principal,
who could conduct internal investigations and decide whether or not to report the incident to the police. In Picca’s case, principals and superintendents received reports of his unacceptable behavior, and even though he was charged with child abuse by CPS, he was never removed as a teacher. MCPS schools do not have individual Title IX officers, but under OCR guidelines, every student and parent in the community should know who their school’s Title IX officer is and how to contact them. Montgomery County has a compliance officer in the Office of the Chief Academic Officer who can be contacted. “It should be widely publicized. The Title IX policy should be posted and the Title IX officer’s name and number should be on the bottom of that in the school office, in the school cafeteria, in school bathrooms so that everybody is very clear on who to contact
all school counselors need to teach lessons on personal body safety, and so to do that, some of the counselors created lessons, starting back in kindergarten all the way through fifth grade,” Kanter says. The county provided “Personal Body Safety Lessons Objectives” for kindergarten, first grade, third grade, and fifth grade for counselors to base their lessons on. The objectives do not specifically indicate to teach students to identify staff members as potential abusers, focusing more on parental abuse. Katie Stauss is a parent at Cloverly, and her son is a fifth grade student at the school. When he was in fourth grade, Stauss’ son and other classmates were read a book about a girl who was being sexually abused by her father and given a presentation on four types of abuse. Students were told they could report concerns to “any trusted adult.”
contractors, such as school fire technicians, and volunteers, such as parent chaperones, must complete a new online training for identifying and reporting sexual abuse of minors. Miller believes that online training alone is not enough. “We believe there needs to be in-person training in addition to [online training], and it needs to be ongoing ... because in trainings like this, they can go right to the test without really watching. There is no accountability,” Miller says. All school employees received in-person instruction before the start of the 2015-16 school year, and Johnson trained new employees at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. Regarding the in-person training, Blair health teacher John McDonald says, “I don’t remember it being extremely informative beyond what we had to do online.” For effective training, Miller highly recommends repetition. “The best training is to, first of all, make it mandatory and make it annual,” Miller says. Grant agrees and says it is not enough to identify teachers as potential abusers, but lessons must give examples on specific boundary-crossing behaviors. According to McDonald, the training teachers received did not focus on teacher behavior or specific boundary crossing behavior. “I remember it being abuse that the student might experience outside of school, and for teachers to learn to identify that,” he says. “It wasn’t from the standpoint that teachers would abuse and neglect students.” From the outside, looking in
when something like this happens,” Terri Miller, the director of the board for SESAME, says. A curriculum for students Many school systems treat the issue of sexual misconduct on a case by case basis, rather than evaluating what can be done on the county level to prevent future misconduct cases. Miller says that school systems rarely have a policy in place to specifically prevent educator sexual misconduct. Joan Tabachnick is a fellow with the Department of Justice’s Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking and an expert in sexual violence prevention. According to Tabachnick, the body safety classes currently being implemented in MCPS are a step in the right direction. “These programs ... are actually head and shoulders above what a lot of other school systems are doing, which doesn’t mean to say that there’s not more that can be done. A lot of schools are keeping their heads in the sand about this,” Tabachnick says. The annual body safety classes are in place in all elementary schools across the county. According to Derek Turner, a spokesperson for MCPS, all middle school students, as well as ninth and tenth grade students, must receive body safety lessons by May 30. The program, which differs among grade levels will expand to all students, including eleventh and twelfth grade students, by the end of the 2017-18 school year. Counselors have the option of creating their own curriculum for the body safety classes. “The counselor can choose to do it for however they think works best for the school community. Part of it is that we want to have these opportunities tailored to the schools that are delivering them,” Turner says. Sarah Kanter, a counselor from Bells Mill Elementary School, relies on lessons created by other counselors and approved by county officials, rather than an MCPS curriculum. “What [the county] said is that
In Grant’s experience, many schools fail to explicitly discuss educator sexual misconduct. “Body safety is different than giving examples of crossing boundaries with students, and a lot of programs that I’ve seen don’t look at that specifically. They don’t give examples,” Grant says. At the high school level, Blair principal Renay Johnson says that MCPS issued a directive to schools last summer saying that every student would have to be educated on body safety. “When the lessons were rolled out to resource counselors and administration, it was geared for sixth grade. It was not high school appropriate,” Johnson says. Johnson found that the material was not complex enough to address the varying needs of high school students. In response, county officials said that curriculum would be used for middle schools, and high schools would receive different lessons. Blair counselors were unable to provide any additional information about the content of the high school child abuse and neglect presentation, but must still comply with the May 30 deadline. Staff training Staff can play a crucial role in the sexual misconduct prevention process, so that the main responsibility of reporting sexual misconduct does not fall on students. “Our experts tell us that if school personnel is trained on how to recognize the early warning signs, those grooming behaviors, that they can prevent physical sexual abuse from happening. Because once grooming begins, physical sexual abuse will happen within two to three months,” Miller, a member of the board of directors for SESAME, says. Grooming behaviors involve establishing an emotional connection with a child, so that they will be less likely to object to sexual abuse. The employee code of conduct created in 2015 set guidelines for appropriate relationships and behaviors with students both online and in person. In addition, employees,
At Cloverly, several months passed before the school notified students and parents of the reason Vigna had been placed on administrative leave. The community was not aware of Vigna’s alleged crimes until the school released a letter in July 2016, one month after Vigna’s arrest and six months after he first left the school. The school’s administration and MCPS officials, along with a member of the police Special Victims Unit, held a community meeting in November 2016 after new charges were raised against Vigna. Many parents questioned why the county waited until three more girls came forward to hold a community meeting. “What a lot of parents are wondering is: why did it take five alleged victims for them to come out when there were two before, and they didn’t respond to that?” Cloverly parent Theresa Phillips asks. As Vigna had not yet gone on trial, the school wanted to remain objective on his case. They resisted requests from parents to have professionals come speak to students and parents at the school. “The communication and support was extremely lacking, and it seemed like they wanted to sort of taper over it or hope that we would all forget,” Stauss says. Eventually, after persistence from parents, the county allowed the Tree House Child Advocacy Center (Tree House CAC) and a school psychologist from MCPS to come to Cloverly and teach parents how to identify signs of abuse and how to speak to young students about this issue. “[They] gave us a ... more detailed and more comprehensive viewpoint on how to keep our children safe from these sorts of events,” Cloverly PTA president Bradford Behr says. Cloverly parent Theresa Phillips found that learning from experts who work with these cases on a daily basis was extremely helpful. Though, she feels MCPS took a long time to respond to requests for the seminar. Phillips believes the seminar would have been more effective if it had been held earlier. “We had [the seminar] in March , and the arrest was made in June . So it took them a long time to give support to our school,” Phillips says. “Tree House was willing from the beginning. They just weren’t welcome.” Phillips advises the county to be more proactive in supporting the school community with these cases, especially in light of recent cases of sexual misconduct by MCPS staff. “I would definitely tell MCPS that they need to act immediately and get to the school and provide support for them,” Phillips says. “MCPS really let us down this year.”
April 27, 2017
Waves of change: The evolution of ESOL
A look at Blair’s ESOL program from its inception to today By Erin Namovicz For Long Nguyen, the first week of school serves to remind him just why he quit his comfortable government job to take a position as a long-term ESOL sub in MCPS. When he returns to Blair each year, he sees his students come in with renewed motivation, speaking to him in English instead of their native languages. “Something happens in the summer,” Nguyen says. “When they come back they’re just so eager to learn English.” This eagerness carries a bit of nostalgia for Nguyen, who graduated from Blair in 2007 after coming to the United States just four years earlier from Vietnam. He went on to study at Salisbury University and then work at the Food and Drug Administration, but came back to Blair when he realized that he had a greater purpose: to help the students who are going through the same things he once did.
dor and Nicaragua,” Bellino, who is now retired from MCPS, says. In just two years, Blair saw its ESOL population more than double again, this time from about 80 or 100 students to around 220. Today, there are 437 ESOL students, approximately 15 percent of Blair’s population. This new influx brought with it challenges that Bellino, and the ESOL program, had not encountered before. In 1976, a girl named Catalina arrived from Guatemala. She had never been in school, and could not read or write in Spanish or in English. “I had to bring
While the Multidisciplinary Educational Training and Support (METS) program offers ESOL-only content courses for those students with an interrupted education, other students like Bunnag do not need that extra help learning content— they just struggle with the language. Fridien Tchoukoua came to Blair from Cameroon with her
word problems. That’s when it came in like, ‘Oh, forget about it,’” he says. In biology and chemistry, he learned much of the material for his assignments by himself at home, slowly, through the use of a dictionary. El Hadj Diebate, who came to Blair from the Ivory Coast in 2005, found that his limited English proficiency kept him from speaking up in the classroom. “At first when I came here, due to my accent it was very hard for me to actually express myself in the classroom, although I knew some of the answers, because I was actu-
COURTESY OF JOSEPH BELLINO
COURTESY OF JOSEPH BELLINO
rican countries, a trend that has continued to today. Content classes outside of ESOL
How it all started The ESOL program in Montgomery County started in 1968 in response to an influx of Cuban refugees in the Silver Spring area. Blair and Rolling Terrace Elementary School were the first two schools to offer English classes for non-English speakers, and for the first few years, ESOL at Blair was just that: a few classes taught by Ted Cortner, a teacher who juggled a full schedule of English 10 and ESOL classes. When Joseph Bellino arrived to teach at Blair in the middle of the 1973-1974 school year, he took over the responsibility of educating Cortner’s 35 ESOL students, who were placed throughout three ESOL classes. The next school year, the end of the Vietnam War pushed a large number of Vietnamese refugees to move to Montgomery County. As a result, enrollment in Blair’s ESOL program more than doubled to over 80 students who were still spread among three classes. By this point, about four or five MCPS high schools, all downcounty, had ESOL programs, says Bellino, along with a handful of elementary and middle schools. In the beginning, most ESOL students learned English relatively easily. “Most of the first refugees were connected to the U.S. Embassy,” Bellino says, and students came from highly educated families and knew French. “They learned English pretty quickly, but as more refugees started to come, many of the less educated Vietnamese were coming so we had some kids who definitely could not learn English in three years.” The impact of immigration waves By the late seventies, the largest concentrations of immigrants had shifted from Cubans, Koreans, and Iranians to Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees. In response to the growing amount of ESOL students, MCPS got federal money in 1980 to create ESOL centers in schools with a large amount of ESOL students. Northwood became the first of these, and ESOL students whose home school did not have a large enough ESOL population to support their own program, as Blair did, would go there. The next big wave of immigration that hit the country came in the early 1980s, when “things started to get real hot in El Salva-
COURTESY OF JOSEPH BELLINO
COURTESY OF JOSEPH BELLINO
BLAST FROM THE PAST Clockwise from top left: International Club members show off their countries’ fashions in 1978 for the Interational Day show they would put on; ESOL students bear the cold to ice skate at Wheaton Ice Rink in 1979; The Silver International staff shows off their newspaper, which came out quarterly, in 2006; Usa Bunnag smiles at lunch in 1978. her down to the bus because she couldn’t read the bus numbers,” Bellino says. Bellino tried to teach her using methods he observed from his young children’s teachers, and from books he got from the literacy council he belonged to. Since she did not have enough English skills to take other classes, “I had her every class except PE. And she stayed here for about a year and a half then she didn’t come back,” he says. Usa Bunnag, another one of Bellino’s students at the time, came to the U.S. from Thailand in 1975. However, she knew basic English when she arrived and had received some education in Thailand. She was able to say “Hello, how are you,” and knew English months and letters. Because of this, she was able to complete the ESOL program after a year and graduate to regular English classes. She also started taking AP science classes. “At the time there were only three women in the AP chemistry class, so I was one of them, so that’s where I felt welcome,” she says. By the early 1990s, most of Blair’s ESOL students came from Latin American countries or from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and West Af-
brother in 2009, and graduated in 2013. While placed in ESOL level three, she was able to take the Matter and Energy science class with a mixture of fellow ESOL students and non-ESOL students. For Tchoukoua, it was not the subject matter of the science class that confused her, but the fact that it was taught in English. “The good thing is that being in Cameroon, I knew what the science was because science is its own language, mathematics is its own language. And so I knew the topics, but understanding it in the sense that it was being taught was just something that was very challenging,” she says. Instruction in that class featured Bill Nye the Science Guy videos, which she had trouble understanding. “Everybody would understand them, but I completely did not understand a single word that Bill Nye was saying,” she says. “Every single thing had to be taught to me in a way, as if I was in elementary school in a sense.” Similarly, Nguyen took math classes along with the general population, where the math he learned in Vietnam translated, but not the words. “For math it was pretty universal, so it wasn’t really hard for me in math, except
ally scared of people making fun of my accent,” he explains. This language barrier not only manifested itself in the classroom, but in social life as well. “I was on my own, always,” Tchoukoua says. “I remember times when I would go into the cafeteria at Blair and I would sit at a table by myself because obviously nobody knew me, meanwhile all the students would sit at the same lunch table, the people who would have a table with twelve chairs.” Finding their place at Blair One of the things Bunnag remembers most fondly of her ESOL days is International Club, which she was vice president of for a time. There, ESOL students would plan International Day and go on outings as a group. “[The club] gave us a place to feel like we belong to a group, and feel like we contribute to the school,” Bunnag says. In 1986, Bellino enlisted ESOL students to start an extension of the old International Club newsletter. The final product was Silver International, an ESOL-produced newspaper that was a place for students to practice their writing skills and tell their stories. According to Bellino, the first
Vietnamese refugees who came did not like to talk about their experiences, so he stopped asking them to open up. Still, these students wanted to tell their stories. “As soon as we had a newspaper, students came to me saying that they wanted to write,” he says. Nguyen was one of the later Silver International writers, who found refuge in this opportunity to express himself. “It was just really rewarding at the same time and comforting,” he says. Nguyen also found that Blair in general was welcoming to ESOL students, and he remembers a time when he was invited by the SGA to be an ESOL spokesperson. Tchoukoua found her niche in the drama club, where theatre teacher Kelly O’Connor took her under her wing. She was part of Macbeth during her sophomore year, and even though she did not understand anything that was being said in Shakespearean English, she says she is grateful for that opportunity. “It gave me confidence interacting with students who are not ESOL, but it also allowed me to interact with students who are not like me, because the theater program is a program that is predominately white,” Tchoukoua says. However, upon his return to Blair less than ten years after graduation, Nguyen is afraid that things have changed. While his ESOL classes took many field trips and focused on learning about other cultures, he finds that the curriculum has grown more restrictive, and ESOL students participate less in school-wide activities. Now, the ESOL curriculum focuses on preparing students to function independently in science and social studies classes and is very test-driven. Ngyuen says that while this new approach is great, “it doesn’t give us so much leeway to learn about all the cultures and stuff like that. It’s just very constrained.” Finding their place in the workforce Today, Bunnag is reminded of her time in Blair’s ESOL program whenever Bellino stops by her Bethesda office for his teeth cleaning. After graduating high school, Bunnag worked as a dental assistant while attending Montgomery College, and then went to Howard University Dental School. Afterwards, she became a dentist and founded a nonprofit; she travels back to Thailand regularly to do humanitarian dental work and provide scholarships to young women of tribal origin. Diebate and Tchoukoua are now in college, where they make use of the language and skills they learned at Blair every day. “During my ESOL class we’d learn how to work not only individually but as a group … and it was basically the same thing also at the University of Maryland. Since I am majoring in physical therapy we tend to do research with other students in my lab,” Diebate says. Tchoukoua is set to graduate with a biochemistry degree from Sewanee: the University of the South, next month, and Nguyen is back where he started, inspired by his teachers to help other students navigate the path he once took. “Being around the ESOL students, you can just see their change,” he says. “From the first day they come in, to the end of the school year, you can see it.”
April 27, 2017
Bridging the achievement gap one step at a time
The history and impact of the county’s Minority Scholars Program By Leila Jackson In 2005, Walter Johnson High School received an impressive offer from Morehouse College; the college had offered a full scholarship to any black male students who had a minimum GPA of 3.0. The only issue was that there were no black male students who met this requirement. The former principal, Christopher Garran, was faced with a problem that is widely known today as the achievement gap or the opportunity gap. To help, he tasked two social studies teachers
at Walter Johnson at the time, Esther Adams and Michael Williams, with addressing this issue that has gained a lot of traction over the past few years. This conversation sparked the creation of the Minority Scholars Program, a program whose primary purpose is to solve the achievement gap. History of MSP According to the National Education Association, “the achievement gap is often defined as the differences between the test scores of minority and/or low-income
COURTESY OF JULIA AVILES-ZAVALA
STRIKE A POSE Members of the Minority Scholars Program gather after a meeting to take a group photo. The Blair chapter is led by senior Julia Aviles-Zavala, and works to help Blazers of color succeed.
students and the test scores of their white and Asian peers.” The achievement gap at Walter Johnson had been a rather unexpected discovery because Montgomery County is known as a high achieving county. “It was shocking because here we were at Walter Johnson, a prestigious school in prestigious Montgomery County and it was the achievement gap hitting us in the face,” Williams, one of the cocounty coordinators of the Minority Scholars Program, says. They began talking to students about this and polled some students about why they were not taking more difficult classes. “The answers ran the gamut from ‘well I didn’t want to be the only Latino in class, I felt uncomfortable’ to ‘the first day the teacher asked me if I was sure I was in the right place and I didn’t really feel I was welcomed,’” Williams says. These answers began to shed a light on the achievement gap. “We realized that we had a big problem in terms of identification and even though we didn’t have the vocabulary to define it, what we were really talking about was the opportunity gap,” Williams says. From there, students, with the help of Williams and Adams, took on the challenge of bridging the achievement gap by creating the Minority Scholars Program. The students formed committees, took on efforts to get more students in the program, and within the first three years, the number of black and Latino students enrolled in AP and honors classes at Walter Johnson increased 30 percent. The program was having success at Walter Johnson but was not getting much attention from the
county until Clarksburg started its own Minority Scholars Program. “Since [Clarksburg is] a majority minority school, when they started having success that was similar to ours, people started taking note,” Williams says. “Things have been snowballing since then.” MSP comes to Blair The Minority Scholars Program is now in its second year at Blair. Initially it was application-only and had a limited amount of spots, but now it is open to students of any race and any academic experience. “We are the Minority Scholars Program but people think that means you have to be brown in some way shape or form, and that’s not really how it is. You don’t have to be African-American or Latino,” the president of the Minority Scholars Program, senior Julia Aviles-Zavala, says. Minority Scholars Programs vary from school to school, but there are four main initiatives and schools who have Minority Scholars Programs need to complete at least one. The four initiatives are peer tutoring or mentoring, community outreach, college visits, and inviting guest speakers to talk about overcoming challenges. Last year, Minority Scholars tutored at Eastern Middle School. This year however, Aviles-Zavala decided to take on something at Blair, so they started an ESOL inclusion initiative. “I saw that the group that needed the most help … [were] ESOL students because they are very not included in student life and not aware of things going on for their own needs such as graduation requirements, credits, and
things like that,” Aviles-Zavala says. They tutor and help ESOL students on Tuesdays at lunch and also have discussions about any pertinent topics. Students are also in touch with programs from other schools. The leaders of each program meet at monthly task force meetings at the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) building. “We come together and talk about what we’re doing at other schools and just discuss and advise each other … and how each school is trying to achieve their goals,” senior Asha Richards, the secretary of the Minority Scholars Program, says. The real impact
Students who are a part of the Minority Scholars Program often do a lot outside of school, primarily attending and speaking at conferences. Students have spoken at school board meetings, a NAACP conference, the Maryland State Education Association, and have been on multiple student panels. The program also aims to make academics interesting. “I think one of the main initiatives is to create that culture of academic achievement … making geek culture cool amongst the population that typically shuns it,” says Kenneth Smith, one of the sponsors. Williams says that this program has helped students recognize the problems around them. “It’s evolved in that students are now becoming more aware of some of the issues that are going on in their schools and communities,” Williams says. “To kind of quote what people in popular culture are saying … people are now more ‘woke’ than they’ve been before.”
Taking their art to the streets: Graffiti culture at Blair By Olivia Gonzalez Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources. Cathy, a sophomore, looks over her shoulder to see if she has outrun the police car. No such luck. Her hands tremble as she sprints through the unfamiliar streets of Freiburg, Germany, hopping every fence and wall that stands in her way. When she is sure that she is no longer being followed, she slows down, catching her breath and vowing to never be so careless about her surroundings again. Cathy continues to feel her heart in her throat for the remainder of the vacation, a feeling that only goes away when her airplane touches U.S. soil.
Why graffiti? Cathy got her start in graffiti at the age of 10 after seeing the work of graffiti artists around the globe. “I am a hip hop dancer, so I’ve always been around the community,” she says. “When I was young, I was in the U.K. and saw some of Banksy’s artwork, and I was looking around, and in Brazil there is this artist called L7m who really inspired me. It’s just really beautiful.” Although Cathy’s art can be spur of the moment, she tends to sketch it out in advance, particularly for her tributes. “Some of my pieces are memorial pieces to people I know who have died,” she says. “I knew some people who were in the London attack [the other day], and so I’m currently planning a piece to reach
out to them.” For John, on the other hand, tagging is more out of the blue. “For me, personally, I’m mostly doing spontaneous stuff,” the junior says. “In the summer there were a couple of times where I would just go bike around in the middle of the night and spray paint and shoot some spots.” To him, graffiti is all about leaving his mark on the world. “I guess I kind of like the idea of imposing your personality on something that previously would have been basically blank,” John says. “I really just like raw and in-your-face form of expression. It’s cool to take places and spots that were before just boring walls and make them cool and interesting to look at.” Suz, class of 2014, got into graffiti to help herself subsist during her struggles with mental illness. “[Tagging] helped [me] cope with my seasonal depression, which is how my sun tag started off,” she says. “It feels great to go back and see a part of myself still survive.” There is a time and a place
LEAVING THEIR MARK The barrier wall at the Takoma Park metro station, pictured above, is a local hotspot for graffiti artists.
Although each graffiti artist finds inspiration from different sources, all three Blazers agree that there should be limitations on tagging. “There are people who just pick up a can and write vulgar things with no purpose or identity besides just vandalizing,” Suz says. “I don’t support that at all. Every city has amazing true graffiti artists that you see everywhere and [that] doesn’t hurt anybody.” To John, graffiti is not vandalism, so long as it is not done on private property. “There are right
soapbox Do you think graffiti is acceptable in certain places or situations? Why or why not? “Graffiti can be acceptable if it’s not anything obscene or that would offend someone. Graffiti can also be seen as a form of art.” — Meg Miller, freshman “I don’t think graffiti is acceptable because it ruins public property.” — Pablo Perez, sophomore places to do graffiti. Don’t spray paint the side of people’s businesses,” he says. “But something like a railroad, public property, that type of thing [is okay]. That type of stuff would have just been blank before.” Laying down the law Unfortunately for these taggers, Montgomery County law prohibits graffiti on both public and private property, as well as the possession of graffiti material with intent to vandalize. If caught, graffiti artists face fines ranging from $500-$1,000 and up to six months of jail time. According to Blair’s School Resource Officer, Sharese Junious, students face additional in-school consequences, which range from community service or peer media-
tion to long-term suspension or expulsion. In an attempt to discourage graffiti at Blair and in the local community, the county tries to remove as much graffiti as possible. “In the school, building services takes care of keeping the school clean, including removing graffiti. Outside of school, the Graffiti Abatement Partners are responsible for keeping our county free of graffiti,” Junious says. “When graffiti is allowed to remain on walls, it has the effect of encouraging more people to also mark the walls.” Nonetheless, the friendships made through tagging outweigh the potential consequences for some students. “It’s like, you’re all breaking the law but in a really chill way,” Cathy says. “So it’s kind of a community-based thing.”
April 27, 2017
FROM ANOTHER MOTHER: growing closer through donated D
Originating from a sperm donor born in Hawaii, Aidan McDougall (le dle), and Jordan McDougall (right) have a web of donor siblings a
How two students discovered they were Sixth graders Catherine Chisholm and Jordan McDougall fully intended to polish their instrumental skills at the beginning of lunch, but their current conversation trumps band class. Both Chisholm and McDougall were, previously unbeknownst to each other, conceived with sperm from a West Coast sperm bank in California. They are equally eager to converse. The two classmates, students at Takoma Park, chat on, and eventually, similarities between their California sperm donors begin popping up—birth state, favorite animal, preferred ice cream ﬂavor. The two drop the guise of overtures and melodies entirely. “You have two sisters in Germany? I have two sisters in Germany,” Chisholm says, letting the implication hang. McDougall suggests they run it through the ultimate test: a comparison of donor identiﬁcation numbers. The codes match perfectly.
The reveal Previous to the yelling, screaming, and bear-hugging that followed, McDougall and Chisholm—now juniors at Blair—were little more than friendly acquaintances in middle school. On occasion, they might have oﬀered a quick wave in the halls, sometimes going so far as to crack a joke or two in class. Besides 50 percent of their DNA, all that connected the two for years was a recreational soccer team, a public education from Takoma Park’s schooling system, and a few mutual friends. It was actually Chisholm and McDougall’s shared conﬁdant, Lyla DiPaul, who made the initial connection between their similarities. “I was talking to Jordan and I was like that sounds really similar to Cate’s thing so you should go talk to her,” DiPaul recalls. The half-sisters immediately tracked down DiPaul after their discovery and burst into the middle of her math class to share the good news. McDougall was so excited during the afternoon that she and Chisholm had to be extracted from class, and the two half-sisters spent the rest of the day talking in the school counselor’s oﬃce. Mc-
Dougall’s full sister, current freshman Aidan McDougall, would be equally as shocked when the news was dropped on her later that day. “Jordan and Cate were both in the car and picked me up from school and it was weird. I was like ‘Why is Cate here,’ cause I knew her from Jordan’s soccer team. Then they started screaming and yelling at me saying we were half siblings,” Aidan McDougall says. The three girls had separately contemplated meeting up with some of their 50 or so donor-siblings in the past, but had never expected to live ﬁve minutes away from one. The circumstances would be less coincidental if the two families had been clientele at the closest available sperm bank, but this was not the case. Both Chisholm’s mother and the McDougalls’ two mothers decided to order sperm from a bank in the Golden state, speciﬁcally to try and weed out the possibility of local donor-siblings. Although Chisholm and Jordan McDougall were unaware of it at the time, their parents had had a similar conversation along the sidelines of a youth soccer game just months prior to that fateful day in band class. Chisholm’s mom, Gail Chisholm, agreed with the McDougall parents that it was best to give the situation time. “We both wanted to take some time to digest what happened and ﬁgure out if or when we would tell the girls, and I think we all processed it for several months,” she says. Chisholm was a week away from breaking the news to her daughter when Catherine sent her an excitedly incoherent voice message from which she was able to pick out only the words “Jordan” and “sister.”
“We have to do everything together” After Chisholm and Jordan McDougall discovered they were related, they made it a personal mission to hang out all the time. The two of them would spend weekday afternoons together, either at the community center or at one of their houses. They began a constant stream of texting and digital communication that would continue in
its glory days for almost half a ye Jordan McDougall is a tall, sle where between blond and brune nette, but without Jordan McDou tually, the two donor-siblings sta the girls share chestnut eyes, a pa perpetually blushed cheeks. “I think in some ways Cate l always been a little bit taller and mother says. The details were a spurred to look. As the two grew closer, they donor-siblings across the countr group created by their parents. Th Baltimore and invited her to Tako They even attended a family m of their siblings had been able to place. “Jordan and I and Aidan t the two girls who live in German who live in Colorado, and one w says. “It was like a big meet up. them and had a vacation.” According to Jordan McDoug across the board. The majority o the same height and similar hai gall and Chisholm. These similar 50 of the siblings maintain eager Chisholm and Jordan McDouga side of donor-sibling relations as
Half a relationship
Unlike full siblings who eat m same bus, most face-to-face inter cur sporadically. Interactions be
eft), Cate Chisholm (midacross the United States.
year. slender teen with straight hair someette. Chisholm is a similarly tall bruougall’s same lengthy features. Evenstarted noticing physical similarities; pale western-European skin tone, and
looks more like Aidan, but she has nd thinner like Jordan,” Chisholm’s always there, but nobody had been
ey began to reach out to their other try, taking advantage of a Facebook They contacted a sister named Zoe in koma Park. meet-and-greet in Florida where one o wrangle ten diﬀerent kids into one n took a trip to Florida and met with any, a girl who lives in Florida, three who lives in Wisconsin,” Chisholm . We just hung out at the beach with
gall, physical traits seem to manifest of their female donor-siblings have air colors to that of Jordan McDouarities do not mean however, that all er relationships amongst themselves. gall represent a rather constructive as opposed to a wary one.
meals at the same table and ride the eractions between donor-siblings ocbetween Chisholm, the McDougalls,
and their other donor-siblings tended to be quiet in the beginning. Chisholm remembers Facetiming or calling out-of-state siblings for the ﬁrst time and feeling oﬀ put by the hesitant interactions. Isadora Germain—another Blair junior with a single mom and a group of donor-siblings—comes from a diﬀerent set of genes than the McDougalls and Chisholm, but reports being similarly hesitant toward some of her donor-siblings. According to her, she has a closer-knit relationship with her younger donor-sibling from Massachusetts whom she sees once a year, and with whom she maintains weekly conversations. Once the initial hurdle is breached, however, there appears to be a certain sense of belonging among some siblings. Some never gravitate, but others can warm up to the idea of sharing blood. According to Aidan McDougall, even with a variety of family types, many of the siblings are able to relate over similar childhood experiences (having one parent, being raised by two mothers, etc.). “It doesn’t really feel like family, it just feels like something diﬀerent. There’s no word for it, I guess,” Chisholm says. According to Jordan McDougall, the relationship has a greater magnetic pull than a friendship, yet is not as deep-rooted as full blown siblinghood. “It is almost like a cousin. I think that’s the best way to describe it. Cause you are like friends, and you also have like a bond that’s like the biological bond, but it is not like my full sister cause I don’t like live with her and stuﬀ,” she says, referring to Chisholm.
Growing up As Jordan McDougall and Chisholm progressed into high school, the magnetism faded. The two are still friends, just not as close. They no longer play on the same soccer team or practice in the band room
together. For the most part, the two have stopped hanging out after school. Aidan McDougall maintains the same distance as her sister from Chisholm. “By the time I got to middle school she kind of acted like she was one of Jordan’s friends,” Aidan McDougall says. They do, however, share an interest in reaching out to their biological father through the sperm bank—a possibility only available to them once they turn 18. “I feel like it would be really awkward, but I also really want to know. I’m pretty sure that Cate and Zoe want to meet him, so if they were like reaching out to him I would deﬁnitely go with them and stuﬀ,” Jordan McDougall says. Chisholm feels the same way, but is unsure whether the donor will reply. “[There are] 50 of us and that’s just really overwhelming,” Chisholm says. “He deﬁnitely has his own family so I don’t want to get my hopes up or anything.”
STORY BY Cole Greenberg PHOTOS BY Sami Mallon
April 27, 2017
Walking into a new landscape from a devastated world How refugee families journey from war-torn Syria to America By Alexander Dacy In the hustle and bustle of a busy airport, it can feel overwhelming to crisscross hundreds of shops, restaurants, and departure gates and bump into travelers frantically running to catch their flights, all while trying to exit the airport unscathed. Living in the chaos of a land where explosions, gunfire, death, and destruction are common, however, makes that frenzied airport now seem like the most inviting place in the world. Syrian refugees around the globe are relieved to make it out of their country alive, but still have to deal with the strangeness of a new homeland and an uncertain future. The Syrian civil war has raged on for six years now. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over five million refugees who have escaped the country are stuck in a complex process to resettle their lives elsewhere in peace. Their journeys have been further complicated not only by economic and communication challenges, but also by the current reluctance of many worldwide governments to accept Syrian refugees. Due to this rapidly evolving and adverse political climate, many Syrian refugees do not like sharing their experiences directly with the media for fear of potential repercussions, including deportation. Such fears and ever-changing government policies now leave many prospective Syrian refugees wondering what will happen to them. A long journey Refugees have an extended and often frustrating course ahead of them when they want to resettle in another country. Residents of war-torn areas like Syria make plans to flee their
home countries with their families to find safer places to live. For Syrian citizens to be designated as refugees, they must first apply through the UNHCR to demonstrate that they are fleeing dangerous situations where they could be persecuted based on race, religion, political opinions, and other factors. If approved, the UNHCR then “cooperates with various governments in deciding if they will be accepted as refugees and where they will be sent,” Linda Rabben, Associate Research Professor of Anthropology at University of Maryland, says. “A refugee who arrives in the United States arrives under the offices of the U.S. government, with the approval of the U.S. government, and is legal from day one.” From there, refugees must meet the requirements of the country in which they hope to resettle in order to complete an integration program and become full members of their new homeland’s society. For example, the United States requires all refugees to go through a strict vetting process to determine whether or not they are a security threat. Refugees must submit to an extensive, multi-part screening process by the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the State Department. If they are not cleared by these agencies, their admission process is immediately discontinued, and they are barred from entering the country. Once the refugees are cleared and fully vetted, they begin to receive certain benefits to help them jump start their new lives in the United States. According to Rabben, refugees are “supposed to sign up for Medicaid immediately. A year after they arrive, they’re required to apply for a green card,” or permanent legal resident status. Additionally, they receive help with registering children in school, access to healthcare services, and some form of cash assistance from the federal government. Inconsistent directives In recent years, conflicting federal and local policies regarding Syrian refugees, as well as the contentious political nature of the issue, have complicated the formally structured refugee admissions process implemented by the United States. Even though the Pew Research Center reports the United States admitted a record 12,587 Syrian refugees in 2016, the new Trump administration has recently issued multiple directives curtailing the United States Refugees Admissions Program, and has been openly opposed to any Syrian refugees
living in or attempting to enter the United States. While this type of extreme government vetting is unprecedented, it is not unusual for American refugee and immigration policies to limit the number of refugees that enter the country. Typically, the federal government sets a yearly quota on the number of refugees the United States will accept. Then, according to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services sorts through the tens of thousands of refugee applications given to them by the UNHCR and decides whether to approve or reject each applicant. If approved, a Syrian refugee family would go through the aforementioned extensive security clearance and establishment of residency process. If rejected, the refugee family would need to reapply through the UNHCR to seek refuge in another country. Montgomery County and Takoma Park refugee policies, however, differ significantly from those of the federal government. Montgomery County is an unofficial sanctuary county, and Takoma Park is an official sanctuary city, meaning these jurisdictions do not have to follow United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regulations and other federal directives regarding refugees. In Takoma Park, for example, police and city officials can withhold any information from the government that might get individuals arrested or deported based on their immigration standing, according to Rabben. With this sanctuary status, refugees living in these locales are effectively protected from the federal government if they are at risk for deportation. A similar sanctuary status was being considered for the state of Maryland, but the state General Assembly recently withdrew the bill when the previous session ended. A new home When Syrian refugees enter the United States, they usually need immense help settling into their new homeland. They are typically not prepared, nor expected, to come to this country ready to adopt a radically different lifestyle and culture. Once Syrian refugees enter the United States, they are paired with one of nine government-approved resettlement organizations, such as the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Luther-
an Social Services (LSS), which each have local offices in the D.C. area. These groups help refugees assimilate into American society and provide them with goods and services to make them as comfortable as possible in their new country, according to LSS Communications Director Autumn Orme. They help refugees find affordable housing, learn English, and give them “household goods, furniture, toiletries, clothes, everything they would need to get started in building a new life here in America,” Orme says. These organizations also provide mentoring, education, and job training services, so refugees are able to “learn about transportation, the community, where their doctor is, [and] where the nearest grocery store is, … to help them become self-sufficient members of the community,” she says. However, it is difficult to resettle Syrian refugees in Montgomery County due to the area’s high cost of living, according to Shruti Bhatnagar, president of the Takoma Park Welcoming Committee for Syrian Families. Because of this, most refugees in Maryland live in Prince George’s County and Baltimore, which have cheaper housing options. “A refugee family has very limited means, and they don’t have a job, and they’re still trying to get acclimated to living in this country, and have very limited resources,” Bhatnagar says. “Money [from the government] may not be sufficient to qualify for the affordable housing that exists right now [in our area].” Recently, the Takoma Park City Council has recognized these housing concerns, and passed a resolution on April 12 encouraging all city landlords “to open their doors and provide housing for refugees, regardless of their national origin.” Takoma Park’s resolution provides hope for Syrian families settling in the D.C. area, despite this being a transitory and uncertain time for many refugees. These families will now have more readily available, low-cost, subsidized housing options at their disposal, ingraining them into Montgomery County’s already diverse fabric. According to Bhatnagar, resolutions such as the one in Takoma Park are encouraging for the future of Syrian refugees in the United States. “Our goal is to identify affordable housing; [once we do], that would be the breakthrough for us,” she says. “We [want to] support them so that they become independent and so that they are making a meaningful contribution in the community and to our economy.” MARISSA HE
April 27, 2017
April 27, 2017
Oolonging for the area’s perfect bubble tea
A bubble tea lover’s guide to the best drinks in the Silver Spring area
Boba: A small cafe located right off of Route One, Wasabi Bistro has a cozy environment, and allows a comfortable space to enjoy a cup of bubble tea, hot or cold. There are a lot of seating choices, including a sofa for extra comfort, a counter for individual seating, and tables that range in size, accommodating any number of customers. Ambience:
By Emma Cross Nothing compares to the sensation of the chewy, black pearls that emerge from the bottom of bubble tea. With boba, or bubble tea, cafes becoming increasingly popular, people intrigued by the sweet flavored drink infused with the chewy surprises are flocking to experience the rising sensation. According to The Daily Meal, bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea or boba juice, is a tea-based drink invented in Taichung, Taiwan in the 1980s. Classic bubble tea consists of tea mixed with either fruit or milk, and the famous bubbles are little bundles of starch made from tapioca extracted from the cassava root. Bubbles are the crowd favorite when it comes to boba, but other toppings like flavored jelly can also spice up the traditional takes on this beverage. As a growing trend, boba has expanded to include many new forms. The D.C. metro area is certainly included in bubble tea’s growing popularity, and new cafes are appearing in Silver Spring and College Park. As with any expansion, as bubble tea gains popularity, it diverges from its roots. Local cafes display both traditional bubble tea drinks, along with new exotic flavors, sometimes resulting in great taste, but other times failing to impress. Kung Fu Tea Kung Fu Tea, a bubble tea chain located in Ellsworth Place in downtown Silver Spring, is small yet charming. The bubble tea cafe opened fairly recently, but Kung Fu Tea’s convenient downtown location has already allowed many people to experience boba like never before. Striving for a traditional bubble tea style, Kung Fu Tea offers a variety of bubble teas ranging from classic black tea to an exotic longan jujube tea. The franchise also offers slush and yogurt options, and everything costs around $4— affordable and tasty! Kung Fu Tea has mastered the art of good tea. Customizable sugar levels combined with a range of flavors creates a recipe for a delicious drink. The classic black milk tea is creamy and smooth, with a distinct, but enjoyable aftertaste. The sweetness is perfect,
Ten Ren’s Tea Time
BUBBLICIOUS Junior Charlotte Cook enjoys a refreshing cup of boba from the new Kung Fu Tea location at the Ellsworth Place Mall in Downtown Silver Spring. and there is just enough ice that the drink is cold but not watered down. For a fruitier option, the mango green tea is refreshing and sweet. Tea: Kung Fu Tea’s bubbles were perfectly cooked, chewy and enjoyable. Boiled in honey for two hours, the bubbles are very visible through the cup, meaning they will last through the end of the drink. The only downside to Kung Fu Tea’s bubbles was their sweetness, which while present, failed to last after the initial taste. Boba: Despite the small size, Kung Fu Tea creates a cozy, clean environment to enjoy a nice cup of bubble tea. With lots of little tables and many board games to play, the cafe is relaxing and inviting. A counter offers extra seating that overlooks the busy center of Downtown Silver Spring. Ambience: Wasabi Bistro Serving primarily as a Japanese eatery, Wasabi Bistro has incorporated bubble tea into its sushi menu. Located right off the University of Maryland campus, the cafe
is a popular stop for students looking for a quick order of sushi or boba, with bubble tea drinks starting at around $4. The cafe has a smaller menu, but specializes in boba smoothies with unconventional flavors like avocado and kiwi. Although there is no choice of sugar level like at Kung Fu Tea, Wasabi Bistro’s classic black milk tea is sweet and enjoyable. The drink contains less milk than the drink at Kung Fu Tea, making it darker in color, and allowing the tea flavor to shine through. Along with a stronger tea flavor, however, the drink left a more bitter aftertaste than other milk teas. Besides the classic flavor, Wasabi Bistro also offers a mango milk tea with an artificial taste that leaves a grainy texture behind. Combined with the mediocre bubbles, the mango milk tea has a somewhat soapy flavor, and is not the best option on the menu. Tea: Wasabi Bistro’s tapioca pearls were slightly lacking. Only about 10 percent of bubbles were visible through the cup, indicating less bubble concentration, and therefore less bubble enjoyment! The bubbles were also fairly small, but cooked to the right chewy consistency.
Ten Ren’s Tea Time is an Asian-fusion cafe that allows sit-down dining or bubble tea to go. Prices for bubble tea start around $4, and the cafe offers a range of flavors not seen at other boba cafes. Also located just a few blocks from the University of Maryland campus, the cafe offers a convenient stop for boba in a variety of styles. Ten Ren’s offers a less traditional take on bubble tea. Served in a domed cup instead of one with a sealed lid, the tea offers a twist on the conventional black milk bubble tea. With no control of sugar amount, the black milk boba is overwhelmingly sweet, which makes it hard to appreciate the flavor of the tea itself. The tea contains a lot of ice, and takes away from the integrity of the tea by watering it down. The pina colada flavor redeems the mediocre black tea experience and combines the fresh flavor of coconut and pineapple with the soothing taste of black tea. Tea: Ten Ren’s Tea Time’s tapioca pearls are soft and chewy, with a solid concentration of bubbles filling the cup. The flavor is sweet and enjoyable, and the texture is slightly softer than Kung Fu Tea’s pearls, which creates a smooth texture. Boba: Offering a separate bubble tea bar, and an artistic chalk-board menu, Ten Ren’s Tea Time has an inviting appearance. The space is large and has plenty of seating and space for large groups. Customers play the large choice of board games available like Jenga. The environment is pleasant because of the comfortable setting and kind staff. Ambience:
Seniors strut their stuff at ‘Say Yes to the Prom’ At TLC event, Blazers pick out prom attire and meet mentors
By Brianna Forte and Georgina Burros Just like the high school traditions of senior skip day and freshman hell week, the quest for a worthy prom dress has been taken by Blair students throughout the ages. This year, 30 Blair seniors participated in the sixth year of TLC’s hit reality show “Say Yes to the Prom”, a spin off of their program “Say Yes to the Dress”. The event focuses on finding the right prom dress for successful scholars, and of course, helping them to find the confidence to rock the dance floor. Monte Durham, cohost of “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” and designer Betsey Johnson embarked on a five-stop tour to Los Angeles, Miami, New York
City, Chicago, and Silver Spring to match students with the perfect prom outfits. The show provides students with a selection of over 2,500 dresses donated by Macy’s. On March 20, a group of Blazers comprised of 25 girls and five boys from Blair, selected by their counselors and in need of financial aid, were given the opportunity to get styled for free. “Say Yes to the Prom” began in Silver Spring as a donation drive for prom dresses. This year, Discovery Channel employee and former Blair parent Crystal Taylor helped Blair be chosen to participate in the program, according to senior class sponsor Roxanne Fus. “She was in on what schools they were going to invite and she was like,
‘Oh you have to invite Blair!’” Fus says. A day to remember The day started off on a bus zooming toward the Discovery Center headquarters in Downtown Silver Spring. Numerous representatives, stylists, and assistants greeted students from Blair and Gaithersburg, ready to find each person the perfect prom outfit. “Everybody was cheering as if we had won an award or something like that… they did make you feel very welcome,” senior Jarrell Jones says. After the welcoming ceremony, the students entered an auditorium where they watched an informational video about the process and the background of the show. “The video had one of the leaders, one of the executive directors of “Say Yes to the Prom”, and then we also listened to Oprah speaking about this program and Jada Pinkett Smith,” senior Ramida Phoolsombat recalls. For many students, this event was more than just finding the right dress, it was also a chance to receive educational opportunities for the future. “I realized it wasn’t only for the dress and stuff but it was also for networking,” senior Yuchabel Sanon says. Finding the one
Although the perfect prom dress can be hard to find, “Say Yes to the Prom” helped Blazers navigate their search with a wide selection of designer dresses. “There was one big room with all the dresses in it and they had sizes from 0 to 24, so it was very incluCOURTESY OF ROXANNE FUS sive of body size which was great,” PhoolALL DRESSED UP Seniors Thierry Siewe Yanga, Jarrell Jones, and Julius Cobb sombat says. model black tuxes provided from their experience on ‘Say Yes To The Prom.’ While the dress is the star of the show,
finding matching accessories and the right hair and makeup also has to be taken into account. Thankfully, “Say Yes to the Prom” and Macy’s had those covered as well. “Once you got shoes you could go to jewelry, where the clutches were and all that, and then makeup and hair,” Sanon says.
Tailored to perfection For five lucky Blair guys, the process of finding the dashing tuxedo to compliment their prom date’s dress was smooth sailing with the help of “Say Yes to the Prom”. Each of the 11 total men from Blair and Gaithersburg were measured for their suit proportions to pick up a perfectly fitting tux at Men’s Warehouse. The five young men were able to get measurements taken for their suits, and tried out some of the different styles. While the Blazers were not able to take these suits home, they were provided with the information to get their tuxedos at a later date. “They gave us a paper that says ‘a free tux at any men’s warehouse’ where we go in and pick up our free tux or suit,” senior Thierry Siewe Yanga says. Rocking the red carpet
These gentlemen and ladies got a taste of the excitement of prom by walking the “Say Yes to the Prom” red carpet. “It was actually an amazing experience, they make you feel famous… They had Macy’s there so you like, stand in front of the Macy’s background so it really feels like you are on the red carpet,” senior Jarrell Jones says. “You know, like you’re famous and they’re stopping to take pictures of you.”
April 27, 2017
How to find the perfect fit (for your budget)
Chips’ tips for going shopping when your paycheck is small
By Isabella Tilley An opinion It has come to my attention that my fellow citizens are spending too much money on clothes. Paying $25 for a pair of shorts?! $50 on jeans?! Ridiculous! So, for the sake of journalism and informing the electorate, I have put together some tips and visited a few discount stores to see what stylish spring clothes I could find at cheap prices. Before we begin our shopping adventure, here are some quick tips from me, a seasoned discount store shopper. Whether or not I am an expert depends on how much you like my style. Tip 1 Do not be scared to shop in the men’s section, especially if you want something baggier or pants with pockets that can fit your phone! Thanks to sexism, their clothes are often a lot cheaper. It does not even make sense to gender clothing anyways. Tip 2 Limit how much cash you bring in order to restrain yourself. You will want to spend it all. Tip 3 Go shopping and look for vague things like “shirts” rather than specific clothing items like “white short sleeve crew cut crop top.” When you go to discount stores, things will likely be a bit disorganized, and they might not have everything that is in style right now. As such, you have to be open-minded and let yourself be surprised by what you find, rather than expect to find a certain item. Tip 4 Think outside of what is super stylish right now. If you go to a discount department store or a thrift store, not everything there is going to be “in-season,” but that does not mean you cannot find cute clothes. Broaden your horizons. Maybe the experience will be so eye-opening you can write a college essay about it. Probably not. Tip 5 Check the price before you try things on! It is always disappointing when you try something on and look great in it, only to be turned off by the price tag. Discount department stores: Marshalls My favorite store is Marshalls, a discount department store. Most of the clothes at Marshalls are really cheap because Marshalls buys “out-of-season” clothes from bigger department stores like Macy’s (you are buying department store hand-me-downs!). My best find so far is a wool skirt that was originally $200 but only cost $30 because it had been marked down so often. Thrift stores: Value Village There they were: smart, snappy, tan, and suede. Sitting on the rack, this pair of Oxford shoes stuck out to me. I tried them on once, and excitedly bought them for the modest price of $8. Unfortunately, I had ignored all the red flags, not noticing that I had to essentially force my feet into them. Remember that you should look for more than just good looks! Your clothes need to be beautiful on the inside too (a.k.a.
they need to fit and not cause blisters). Another pair of silky black capri trousers I got fit perfectly when I tried them on, but I did not pay attention to the cleaning instructions. I washed them before wearing them since they were from the thrift store, and later when trying them on noticed that they were “dry clean only.” RIP. Hopefully this guide has provided you with some tips on cheap shopping, and inspires you to never pay more than $20 for clothes again!
By Christian Mussenden For the most part, when it comes to fashion, department stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s and even Target get a bad rap. When people think department store fashion, they think low quality and ugly clothing. In fact, they are better known for their great cold and allergy medicine deals (get four dollars off any Zyrtec product until May 15th at Target!) than their clothing trends. Do not be fooled though— these stores are actually trailblazers in the fashion community. Besides department stores providing popular brand names like Nike and Alfani for ridiculously low prices, they are actually responsible for many fashion trends, chief among them the proliferation of those quirky yet stylish superhero tees donned by people everywhere, from Blair to Downtown D.C. Department stores do not just craft some of the hottest fashion trends; they also create clothes that seamlessly fit into the numerous and unpredictable fashion patterns that seem to change from day to day. You need a flannel reminiscent of ‘90s culture? Macy’s definitely has the perfect one for you for a low price of $15! Stressed out because you cannot find the new, hot, paint splattered jean shorts? Check the clearance rack at JCPenney— they will have you covered. Want a pair of Rainbow flip flops, but not trying to break the bank? Kohl’s has them in excess, for a low price too. The benefits that come with spring fashion shopping at department stores make up a nearly never ending list. Then, how come no one ever talks about it? Well, the reason so many people look down on these stores is because they have been classified as “tacky,” “ugly,” and “not hip” by the mass conglomerate of student fashionistas. So unless these false and incriminating stereotypes attached to department stores suddenly cease to exist, Blair youth and teens everywhere will continue to overlook the gems these stores have to offer, and shop at overpriced and overhyped companies like American Eagle and Nordstrom instead. It is truly heartbreaking to see young people adhere to society’s wishes like this. The complex world of shoes Chances are that if you live in the DMV— a “hip” acronym which stands for D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, excluding Waldorf or any part of southern Virginia— you know how important it is to have fresh shoes to complement any outfit. Shoes are the cherry on top of any outfit. A pair of fresh kicks like Yeezys or EQT’s can make any ensemble, but on the flip side, wearing a pair of ratty, old flip flops will invite an endless stream of insults. So, how does one traverse the delicate world of shoe fashion (more commonly referred to as
FLOWER POWER I bought this silky pink floral slip dress (left) for $20 at Marshalls. This is more than I like to pay for clothes, but I could not resist the temptation (wow Isabella, what a hypocrite). I am sorry. This is a nice summer dress for when you don’t want to be sweaty.
LOOKING BOMB I got the blue bomber jacket (left) at Value Village for about $8. It originally had shoulder pads, but luckily they were removable. I got the jeans (right) from Marshalls for $15. The fit is okay, but I have given up on finding super comfy jeans. I think the price is pretty good for a pair of denims! ISABELLA TILLEY
JUST FOR KICKS Adidas’ new shoe, the EQT 91/16 brought the brand to the forefront of the shoe industry with a simple design and reengineered Ultraboost support. They go well with Adidas socks (below), which are putting the brand at the forefront of the sock industry.
“shoe game”)? Unfortunately, it is not easy. The shoe game changes rapidly. Like all fashion, but more so with shoe game, a pair of shoes that is hot one day can become obsolete the next. Luckily, there are a few ways to always have the freshest shoes. One of the more well-known ways is shopping at stores like Designer Shoe Warehouse or Payless Shoe Source. They get a bad rap, but these stores provide fashionable shoes for much lower prices than more popular chains like Foot Locker. Another method involves firing up a relic of the past: Facebook. On Facebook, there are several
GRANDMA CHIC I got this long flowery skirt (above) at Value Village for about $7. I would wear it with a plain top since the black, yellow, and pink skirt is so patterned. It looks good paired with either my Adidas sneakers or knockoff Birkenstocks. Fun fact about my Adidas: one of them is discolored so I got it for half the original price!
ROMPING AROUND This black romper is from Marshalls. It feels like a pretty high quality fabric, and I only had to pay $15 for it (again, a little higher than what I usually pay, but my mom convinced me that I should splurge for it since it is basic and hopefully timeless). locally-based groups that are solely dedicated to trading and selling shoes amongst other shoe heads. Anyone can join, but be prepared to offer up some intriguing trade offers in order to be taken seriously. If you want to improve your shoe game, be sure to approach the task diligently. As mentioned before, shoes go in and out of style at breakneck speeds. So when buying shoes, do not just buy the most expensive and newest pair of shoes, because within a matter of months, they could become a laughing stock. When you are buying shoes, make sure that they will age well
too. There are a number of timeless lines such as Nike Air Force’s, Jordan Bred’s, and certain lines from Puma and Adidas that carry a royal pedigree. Purchasing shoes from these lines is a guaranteed gateway to good style and approval from shoe heads. The last and most important element of achieving and maintaining good shoe style is upkeep. No one will care about your shoes if they are dirty or in horrible shape. Make sure to take good care of your shoes, and if you do that, as well as stay true to the tips mentioned in this article, your shoe game will be nothing to scoff at.
Bookstores in the digital age are not such a novel idea
Blazers of Note
How local bookstore owners stay aﬂoat in the age of online shopping By Gilda Geist
Anna Barth Senior
April 27, 2017
For most students, the idea of a fullride to college is nothing more than wishful thinking. Senior Anna Barth is not like most students. Barth was recently awarded the Science Ambassador Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship funded by Cards Against Humanity. The scholarship is open to female students intending to pursue a degree in STEM. In December, applicants for the scholarship submitted a short YouTube video about a chosen topic in science. In her two minute video, Barth described the phenomenon of tidal heating Jupiter’s moon Io. Barth appreciates the creativity of ﬁlmmaking. “I just like… starting with a completely blank slate and making something cool that other people enjoy,” she says. As a Science Ambassador, Barth wants to encourage others to create content that teaches students about interesting, yet complicated aspects of science. “I think the Internet… needs more people who expose a younger, less mature audience to the more interesting side of science,” Barth says. Winning the scholarship greatly simpliﬁed the college-decision making process for Barth. “It made my decision a lot easier, just putting ﬁnances out of the picture.” Barth plans to attend Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California in the fall where she will study physics.
Inside Kensington Row Bookshop, customers are greeted by a room crowded with old wooden furniture, shelves of books and knickknacks, and even a suit of armor. In the next section, books of all genres, from history to children’s, line the walls and ﬁll the many shelves scattered throughout the room. Creaky stairs lead up to the literature and mystery sections, as well as a library entirely written in Catalan. Every so often the ﬂoorto-ceiling shelves of books are interrupted by chairs where people can sit for hours and read from the wide selection of secondhand books. Elisenda Sola-Sole opened the Kensington Row Bookshop 14 years ago, after closing her nine-year-old secondhand bookstore in Silver Spring. Like many other booksellers, Sola-Sole was selling books during the early days of the Internet and online book purchasing. When Amazon was founded in 1994 and eBay in 1995, the selling and purchasing of books was revolutionized. Many people turn to the Internet for easy access to cheap books, but through it all, many independent bookstores have managed to survive. According to Sola-Sole, de- CARLY TAGEN-DYE spite the ease and eﬃciency o f buying books online, people still seem to enjoy the experience of physical bookstores, and what she calls “the art of browsing.” Changes in the bookselling industry Although online bookstores oﬀer the appeal of an easy shopping experience and sometimes a cheaper purchase, both Bradley Graham, who has owned Politics and Prose
for six years with his wife Lissa Muscatine, and Sola-Sole report that their sales have actually increased since they became owners of their respective bookstores. According to Graham, although several bookstores have had to close in the past few years, even more independent stores are opening. “What we’ve witnessed in the nearly six years that we’ve had this store has been a kind of resurgence of independent bookstores,” Graham says. Against what seems like all odds, independent bookstores are surviving, and even thriving, in the digital age. “When we bought the store in the middle of 2011, there were a lot of dark clouds over the business of independent bookselling,” Graham says. “People were predicting... because of the rise of eReaders and online retailers, that physical books were going to be disappearing within ﬁve or ten years and [going] the way of vinyl records, but what’s happened has been the opposite.” According to SolaSole, with the rise of online shopping, people are able to ﬁnd the books they want from any of these diﬀerent stores on the Internet, rather than having to go to a specialty dealer. “You don’t have to be a specialty dealer or a high-end dealer in order to get top price for an unusual or rare book,” Sola-Sole says. Morton Toole, who has owned Capitol Hill Books for over 22 years, says that because of his proximity to Eastern Market, his sales have not suﬀered as a result of online bookselling. Toole says that because of the rise of technology and online books, he expects that the future of independent and used bookstores will be grim. Large commercial bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble are already start-
ing to struggle. Borders went out of business in 2011, and, according to the website Statista, Barnes & Noble’s revenue has been declining steadily in the past few years, from $5.39 billion in 2012 to $4.13 billion in 2016. That old book smell
According to Graham and Sola-Sole, one of the main reasons that the rise of online selling has not discouraged people from buying from physical bookstores is that people still enjoy going into a shop, picking up a book that catches their eye, and ﬁnding a comfy chair in the back of the store where they can read. “I think people ﬁnd a whole diﬀerent experience in going into a bookstore. The experience of browsing is enjoyable, the sense of community that people feel when they’re in bookstores is something that’s desired,” Graham says. Secondhand bookstores in particular are meaningful to Nora Simon, who has worked at Capitol Hill Books for two years. “Used books have something special about them. It’s kind of this sense that other people have owned them,” she says. “Especially [with] books that are really old that have come down from centuries that have passed through a lot of hands to wind up here, there’s a sense of history involved.” Online bookstores and physical bookstores have diﬀerent purposes. If a customer knows what they want and they want to ﬁnd it fast, online shopping is their best bet. But Graham and Sola-Sole say that the mere experience of being in a bookstore can be enough to draw people in. “The Internet’s great when you know what you want,” Sola-Sole says. “What the Internet did, I think, is people stopped kind of browsing… and now I think people are rediscovering the art of browsing, and coming in and just kind of looking, and then something will catch their eye.” With the art of browsing motivating people to explore her shop, Sola-Sole is optimistic about the future of bookstores.
Carrying radio, news, and culture in your pocket
These podcasts will open you up to a new world of information
By Laura Espinoza
Suad Mohamud Senior
When she found out that she had been selected as one of Bethesda Magazine’s Extraordinary Teens in March, senior Suad Mohamud’s ﬁrst thought was that she wished she could help other students be nominated for the award. “There are so many people who do phenomenal work, and they are just not highlighted and celebrated,” Mohamud says. Mohamud was recognized for her work in Smart Snacks, a Blair club that packages lunches for low-income elementary school students, as well as her role in Blair’s No Labels Diversity Club. She is also a member of Blair’s Chemathon team and president of Blair’s Global Culture Club. Mohamud enjoys participating in these clubs because they allow her to directly help others. “I just really love working in these clubs because they have an actual impact on people,” Mohamud says. Mohamud attributes much of why she won the award to those who surround her. “I think the reason I got the award was because of the connections I have been making with people … I am blessed, and just so humbled to ﬁnd that other people appreciate my work.”
By Serena Debesai
Have you ever seen the little purple app on the second page of your iPhone screen? If you have never opened it, now is a great chance to give it a try. This is the Podcasts app, which connects you with hundreds of thousands of podcasts created by people around the world, almost like TV episodes or radio segments without cable or internet. There really is a podcast out there for everyone. From cooking to race relations and pop culture to investigative journalism, ﬁnding music for your mind is easier than it looks! To introduce you to the exciting world of podcasts, here is a quick list of personal favorites. Planet Money Learning about the world of economics can seem boring or daunting, but it can truly oﬀer a new perspective to a variety of issues prevalent on social media and in the news. Planet Money, part of the National Public Radio network, applies numbers and theories to real life. This podcast ﬁnds the hidden facets of how business, politics, and society functions, tying everything back to a huge machine called “the economy”. The economy is like a living, breathing entity that analyzes the ways people spend their money and how they go on through their lives. It is buying a cup of coﬀee from the local café down the street or giving a few dollars to the Salvation Army around the holidays. By talking about bees moving around the country and the creation of Russian cowboys, the Planet Money hosts make their listeners aware that the economy does not revolve around just
the stock market. They explain the economic impacts of refugees on a country, how current and proposed laws aﬀect the wallets of everyday Americans, and how money drives technological innovations, like Bitcoin. Planet Money gives everyone an opportunity to learn about a system that is often hidden from the public. Whenever economic theories are brought up, the hosts do an excellent job of breaking them down into bite-sized pieces. In the Dark After the hit podcast Serial tried to solve complicated or unsolved criminal cases, many people adapted the same concept to their own podcasts. In the Dark from APM Reports took this mystery theme and created something new by focusing on the people behind the investigation rather than the crime itself. In the Dark’s ﬁrst and only season was dedicated to the infamous kidnapping of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling in St. Joseph, Minnesota in 1978. Despite the national attention the crime received, it was not solved until 2015 when perpetrator Danny Heinrich was arrested. How could a kidnapping in a small town go unsolved for nearly 40 years? An inadequate police investigation, no sex offender registry, and too much media attention all contributed to this problem. Host Madeleine Baran dives into TIFFANY MAO the complexities o f the Wetterling case to tell the story of what went wrong in the search for the missing boy and how his disappearance aﬀected this country’s laws about sexual abuse of children.
Baran went into the case without any preconceived opinions of wrongdoing from the investigative team, and she expects most of her listeners to know very little about the crime. When she discovers systemic problems that explain why Wetterling’s case was not solved for decades, she is not afraid to call people out for what they did. Listening to Baran uncover what really happened from 1978 to 2016, when Wetterling’s body was actually found, is startling. Nothing can be expected through the twists and turns or Baran’s investigation, and if you listen to this show in the middle of the night, prepare to feel utterly creeped out. Science Vs
Science class meets debate team in Gimlet Media’s Science Vs, a podcast that examines controversial topics in the science world to exactly what is fact and what is ﬁction. Australian host Wendy Zukerman does a great job of developing questions to evaluate the truth of “common knowledge” about certain topics. In revealing the science of acne, she speaks to dermatologists about how diet aﬀects breakouts and how well certain drugs can treat them, without pushing her opinions onto listeners. Even the more loosely science-based topics like hypnosis and ghosts are approached with an unbiased mindset. Although many of Zukerman’s topics can get political, like gun control, immigration, or climate change, she maintains a non-partisan view and addresses people on both sides of the spectrum. Zukerman wants listeners to walk away with knowledge and a well-formed opinion about controversial topics. Rather than ﬁlter information through a biased lens, she lays out the truth. It is just up to you to absorb it. Whether you are doing chores around the house or on a busy bus ride, podcasts bring knowledge and stories to your ears. The small app takes up little storage space, so podcasts can give you some quick knowledge with a touch of a button. Hop on over, tap on that app, and start listening.
April 27, 2017
Hunting for Silver Spring’s hidden treasures
Silver Chips embarks on a scavenger hunt to explore downtown By Alexander Dacy, Leila Jackson, and Erin Namovicz
Joe’s Record Paradise
In first person
Downtown Silver Spring is home to most Blazers, yet there are many landmarks that go overlooked. Here at Silver Chips, we decided to uncover these hidden treasures, and what better way to discover them than through a good, old-fashioned scavenger hunt? The three of us set off to trek through the city on a gloomy spring day. Our Editors-in-Chief (EICs), Alexandra and Alice, wrote a series of clues that would send us all around Downtown Silver Spring and eventually lead us to a prize.
We were greeted with a letter written in awkward typography wishing us luck on our scavenger hunt. Immediately, we recognized that only the letters A, T, C, and G were capitalized, leading us to believe that the clue related to DNA structure. Leila knew there was a DNA strand sculpture that lights up at night somewhere in Silver Spring. With some pondering and prodding, she remembered that it was near a gym, so we started walking toward Washington Sports Club. When we arrived, all we saw was construction, and we realized that we had gone the wrong direction—our first (and we hoped final!) mistake of the day. By the time we got to another gym, L.A. Fitness, we looked up to the right and saw a walkway in the sky connecting two United Therapeutics buildings on Cameron Street. The bridge features a twisted DNA ladder that lights up at night. We walked to the building’s plaza, where we met Alexandra and Alice, who congratulated us on solving the first clue.
After a few minutes, Erin checked her phone. Alexandra and Alice had sent us the next clue. This time, it was a poem. “I walk the streets of downtown/Wearing a construction hard hat/And when it’s time to lie down/I just roll out my mat,” it began. It sounded like the poem was describing a homeless person, but that did not really point us to a specific location. We kept reading. “The locals here all know me/The Auto Body and I are close,” began the next stanza. So this was a prominent figure. Still, how were we supposed to find a person? The final stanza revealed our missing information. “They say I should run for office.” A faint light bulb went off in our heads. Is this person a city councilman? Mayor? Silver Spring is an unincorporated area, so it does not have a mayor. It was the last line that gave it away. “But unlike those guys in politics/I’ll be here forever.” A statue, Alexander realized! This poem was leading us to the Mayor of Silver Spring statue, a landmark dedicated to Norman Lane, a homeless man who used to wander the streets of Silver Spring in a construction hard hat handing out roses. Alexander remembered seeing this statue before, and we typed it into Google Maps and were on our way.
Global Refugee Mural
Our lovely EICs handed us our next clue: a plastic baggie with a puzzle inside. The pieces were handmade and mainly black, but their rounded edges revealed that they formed the shape of a circle. We kneeled down on a park bench and went to work. After putting a few pieces together, we confirmed the suspicion that was budding in our heads: it was a record. We finished the puzzle just to be sure, which took us about two minutes. Where could we find a record downtown? The answer was clear: Joe’s Record Paradise. We plugged it into Google Maps; located on Georgia Avenue, it was just a quick walk down Cameron. At the address, we found an inconspicuous office building with balloons attached to a fold out sign in front announcing that Joe’s Record Paradise was in the basement. We entered the lobby and took the elevator down. Once inside the homey, music-filled shop of old records, Erin sent our EICs a picture of the rows of shelves to confirm that we had made it to the right place. Without waiting for a response, the three of us immediately began perusing the aisles in search of our favorite artists.
Norman Lane Memorial Bust
For our fourth clue, we received a map with a point from Maryland extending to Burma, Congo, and Iraq. Our first thought was that our next clue might be found in a place where restaurants from these countries are close to each other, since we all know Silver Spring is a bustling food hub with delectable dishes from all different cultures. We looked up Congolese restaurants on Google Maps, but once we got there, we found that it was next to a Thai restaurant and there was no Iraqi food in sight. After some deep Google-searching, however, Erin found a perfect match. There was a Global Refugee Mural that showcased the lives of three refugees from these three countries. Thankfully, it was just down Georgia Avenue, where we were sitting. After spending some time admiring the artwork and reflecting on how thankful we were to live in such a diverse community with colorful cultures all around us, we were ready for our last clue.
We had to use the first letter of words scattered throughout issues of Silver Chips published this school year. For example, “The first letter of the language we focused on for November’s personal columns.” When we thought we were all done, we ended up with the word “FOUNTSIN,” which did not make any sense. This “S” was for “sign language” in the clue mentioned earlier, but Erin quickly realized that the official name is American Sign Language, and the word became “FOUNTAIN.” Even though this clue had taken us the longest to figure out, the answer was simple. It was the perfect way to end the scavenger hunt. We had been all around Silver Spring to see both new and familiar sights, but we finished at a place that we knew well: the Ellsworth Street Fountain.
Ellsworth Street Fountain
TYS17.Silver Chips Ad-Grayscale-FINAL.pdf 1 1/31/2017 10:33:06 AM
April 27, 2017
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Chips Clips D6
April 27, 2017 Friday
1. Say impulsively 6. Not us 10. Verge 14. Navel type 15. Boss in fashion 16. Aware of 17. “Taken” star 19. October birthstone 20. Pokémon trainer Ketchum 21. Over-the-shouler band 22. Charm 24. Pull the trigger 25. Killed, as a dragon 26. Actor Mark of “Star Wars” fame 29. Supplying an inadequte amount 32. Challenge opener 33. Tibetan capital 34. David Attenborough’s title 35. It’s to be expected 36. Mattress brand 37. What you used to be? 38. Like a desert 39. Old _____ tale 40. Rodents, playfully 41. Gas choice 43. Gamekeeper
by Neal Sarkar
1. Jumps over 6. Close with 7. Cool head 8. Brief concession 9. Change
1. Crayola color since 1957 2. Small hill 3. No-brainer? 4. Entourage 5. Nasty look
44. Heavenly body? 45. Damage 46. 2016 ﬁlm featuring Denzel Washington 48. Brewer’s ingredient 49. Social worker? 52. Reverse 53. Tylenol, etc. 56. Green leader? 57. Empty, as a threat 58. ______-ums, or biting midges 59. Ancient Greek instrument 60. In the wrong business? 61. Place to live Down 1. Weapon with knots 2. San-Obispo connection 3. Four corners state 4. Glass edge 5. Kind of strength 6. The ones here 7. Sudden silence 8. Freudian “I” 9. Work stolen in August 1911 10. “Chill out” 11. Not receiving penalty 12. Critical unit?
13. Barbershop symbol 18. ___ Grey tea 23. Singer Del Ray 24. Al dente 25. Sports ﬁgures 26. Many an Indian 27. Garnish 28. Silver Spring native, for one 29. Tear up 30. Girl who says “Uncle” 31. Inexperienced 33. Carpenter’s tool 36. A type of English, in sports 37. Four years, for a US President 39. Hourly pay 40. Tennis star Navratilova 42. Cry for more 43. Crossing sign 45. “Green Acres” character 46. Coal, e.g. 47. One of the deadly sins 48. Wire measures 49. “One more thing...” 50. Mandatory item 51. Balsa or balsam 54. “Much ____ About...”
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27 de abril, 2017
La Esquina Latina
Silver Chips 27 de abril de 2017
Supuesto abuso sexual ocurre en una escuela del condado
Esto desata una controversia en relación a las políticas migratorias Por Camila Fernández y Michael Hernández El día 16 de marzo la escuela superior Rockville fue lugar de un supuesto abuso sexual durante horas escolares. Dos estudiantes, Henry Sánchez Milián de 18 años y José Montano de 17 años, fueron arrestados después que la supuesta víctima, una estudiante de 14 años, informara a la administración de lo acontecido. Según informes oﬁciales divulgados por la policía del Condado de Montgomery, aproximadamente a las 9 de la mañana del 16 de marzo, la víctima caminaba por los pasillos de la escuela cuando fue interceptada por los dos sujetos, Montano y Sánchez Milián. Montano le pidió a la víctima que caminara con él y Sánchez Milián por los pasillos. Posteriormente Montano le pidió a la víctima que participara en actos sexuales, a lo cual ella se negó varias veces. Los sospechosos forzaron a la víctima llevándola a un baño de varones en donde abusaron de ella sexualmente. La directora de la escuela secundaria Rockville, Billie-Jean Benson mandó un comunicado mediante una carta el 17 de marzo donde informó a los padres de familia lo sucedido. Ella recalcó, “La seguridad de los estudiantes es nuestra prioridad.” El 19 de marzo el superintendente de escuelas del condado de Montgomery, Dr. Jack Smith, también se dirigió a la comunidad mediante una carta donde dijo, “Las alegaciones presentadas en los documentos policiales son terribles e inaceptables. No representan los valores positivos de nuestros estudiantes y comunidades escolares.” Cabe mencionar que en sus cartas se limitaron a proveer detalles generales del acontecimiento porque la investigación se encontraba en pleno desarrollo. Esto enojó a muchos padres de la escuela secundaria de Rockville porque sintieron que la administración escolar y del condado no dieron el comunicado indicado con un crimen de tal magnitud. Como resultado habían muchos padres preocupados por la seguridad de los estudiantes, especialmente por sus hijas que estudian en este complejo educativo. Conjuntamente este supuesto abuso sexual también ha desatado una polémica en referencia al tema de inmigración. Uno de los acusados en este crimen es indocumentado y por esta razón ha acaparado titulares nacionales. Dado que dos de tres personas involucradas se consideran menores de edad, no se ha divulgado su estatus de residencia en el país. El tema de lo ocurrido llegó hasta la Casa Blanca en donde el secretario de prensa, Sean Spicer dijo, “Parte de la razón por la cual el presidente ha hecho que la inmigración ilegal sea algo importante es debido a tragedias como esta.”Reﬁriéndose a la víctima en este caso él dijo que ella, “Luchó para venir a este país legalmente debido a las libertades y los tesoros de esta nación y pensar que esta tragedia le ocurriría a alguien que ha soportado personalmente esa clase de lucha para venir a esta nación y después haber enfrentado esto es reprensible.” Esto es lo poco que conocemos de la víctima
aparte de que tiene 14 años y que es una estudiante de noveno grado. Inevitablemente el enfoque de este incidente se ha desviado de la víctima a enfocarse en las políticas de los inmigrantes indocumentados que se encuentran en el país. Mucha gente está protestando y piden que Rockville no se convierta en una ciudad santuario. Hay un grupo que piensa que se debería negar rotundamente la educación a los inmigrantes ilegales, por el incidente que ocurrió en la escuela secundaria de Rockville. Pero lo cierto es que la constitución de los Estados Unidos prohíbe que
14 y 15 años. El nivel de grado al que se coloca a un estudiante se decide al evaluar su nivel de destreza académica según las evaluaciones que toman al llegar en la oﬁcina internacional de MCPS. De acuerdo con el periódico The Washington Post ciudadanos de la comunidad protestaron el 26 de marzo a las afuera de las oﬁcinas gubernamentales del condado de Montgomery donde expresaron su descontento en contra de lo sucedido y la culpabilidad del condado. Docenas se reunieron llevando pancartas y carteles. Algunas tenían estos mensajes, “protejan
Olivo un periodista del Washington Post después de enterarse de la reacción que tuvo la comunidad contra los inmigrantes. “Esto se ha convertido en algo irracional.” Ella recalcó que, “Esto ha sido un incidente desafortunado” Además señaló, “Pero esto no es solamente algo que los inmigrantes hacen.” Con las fuertes acusaciones en contra de Montano y Sánchez Milián muchos han dictaminado la culpabilidad de los sospechosos. La defensa de los acusados dice lo opuesto y están luchando por sus clientes para que la decisión del juez sea jus-
MANIFESTACIONES Mientras miembros del consejo de educación de Montgomery llevan a cabo su reunión, afuera cuidadanos de la cuidad de Rockville se reúnen con pancartas que demuestran su frustación.
LA JUSTICIA Los casos de Sánchez y Montano serán examinados el próximo mes donde la ﬁscalía decidirá seguir con el caso basado en la evidencia que tienen o remover los cargos en contra de ellos. se le niegue la educación pública a estudiantes indocumentados de acuerdo al veredicto del caso de Plyler v. Doe en el 1982. Esta ley da la oportunidad a estudiantes inmigrantes de recibir educación hasta que alcancen la edad de 21 años. También muchos protestantes estuvieron furiosos por la diferencia de edades de los dos acusados en relación con la víctima. Esto también ha alarmado a muchos padres ya que uno de los presuntos culpables tiene 18 años y está en noveno grado una clase en la cual hay estudiantes de
a nuestras hijas” y “mantengan a Montgomery a salvo.” Además, los protestantes criticaron las pólizas que permitieron que 150,000 menores inmigrantes no acompañados, originarios de Centroamérica entraran al país y a las comunidades en los Estados Unidos. En la misma manifestación, un grupo de diferentes protestantes entonaban en la avenida Maryland. “!No al odio, no al miedo, los inmigrantes son bienvenidos aquí!” Al igual que gritaron con orgullo,”!U.S.A., U.S.A!” La protestante Anne Foxen le comento también a Antonio
ta y que la verdad salga a la luz. Andrew Jezic y su equipo de abogados están representando a Sánchez Milián. Jezic es un abogado reconocido por su extenso historial de casos criminales ganados. “Primeramente, yo tomo la mayoría de casos a menos que no tengan ningún beneﬁcio para el cliente. En casi cada caso hay algún beneﬁcio que encontrar, pero especiﬁcamente estoy más interesado en este caso porque yo creo que mi cliente es 100% inocente.” dijo Jezic. El alegó que él cree rotundamente que su cliente (Sánchez
Milián) no es culpable. Al igual que Jezic muchos piensan que las acusaciones pueden ser falsas. Incluso las alegaciones de los ﬁscales que los acusados son miembros de la pandilla MS-13. Según Jezic esto fue lo que realmente pasó, “ICE lo investigó por antecedentes criminales y vínculos con pandillas. ICE decidió dejarlo ir sin pagar ninguna ﬁanza ni fecha de comparecer en corte. A Sánchez Milián se le dejó libre con la advertencia que cuando este recibiera una orden para presentarse en corte él cumpliera con esta. Las autoridades migratorias lo llevaron al aeropuerto y luego su papá lo recogió en el aeropuerto de Baltimore (BWI). ICE ha tenido conocimiento de dónde Sánchez Milián ha estado desde agosto cuando llegó a este país.” El abogado Jezic también elaboró sobre las razones por las cuales él considera que su cliente no es culpable. Debido a otras pruebas de evidencia, “Bueno hay muchos mensajes de textos e imágenes que fueron mandados de ida y vuelta entre el muchacho de 17 años y la chica de 14 años la noche anterior del incidente. Indicando claramente que los dos habían planeado y acordado tener sexo dentro de la escuela secundaria Rockville durante el segundo periodo el cual era la clase de educación física.” Esto alega que la víctima había planeado y sabia de este encuentro. Lo cual puede sugerir que este suceso sea una mentira. Aquí en Blair las opiniones acerca de este caso son muy controversiales. Lourdes Reyes estudiante del noveno grado entiende lo ocurrido y comenta, “Pienso que lo que pasó estuvo mal. Me siento mal por la víctima pienso que debe estar muy afectada,” Pero a pesar de esto ella comentó que categorizar a todos los inmigrantes como violadores está mal. “Creo que todos somos diferentes. Algunos tenemos diferentes maneras de pensar e inﬂuencias de nuestros padres. Lo ocurrido me afecta porque pienso que ahora el ser latina va a afectar mis posibilidades de tener más oportunidades y trabajos por casos como este.” Al igual que Lourdes la profesora Young explicó que, “En primer lugar es una situación horrible. Yo creo que tal vez vamos a tener que ver de qué forma vamos a tener que arreglar la diferencia de edad de estudiantes. Los estudiantes que vienen de otros países a los 17 y 18 años, que están todavía aprendiendo inglés y no han estudiado, tal vez podrían ser colocados en otro tipo de programa. Me da pena que esto pase. Ojalá que otros no lo vean como algo general acerca de personas que vienen de otros países, porque hay muchísimos estudiantes que vienen de otros países a estudiar y a trabajar de manera honrada. No vienen a causar ningún problema.” Al momento los sospechosos continúan encarcelados y muy pronto se verá el caso en los tribunales. Recientemente los ﬁscales y abogados defensores de Montano y Sánchez Milián pospusieron las audiencias. Muchos especulan que esto es debido por falta de evidencia. La próxima audiencia para José Montano será el día 5 de mayo y la de Henry Sánchez Milián será el día 12 de mayo del 2017.
27 de abril 2017
México apoya a inmigrantes con centros de defensoría legal Aliviando preocupaciones en el país creadas por la nueva administración de Trump Por Sofía Muñoz Los primeros 100 días de toma de posesión de cualquier presidente están llenos de incertidumbre y cautela, especialmente cuando el cambio de poder también resulta en un cambio de ideología política. Esto es lo que está ocurriendo en los Estados Unidos con el nuevo Presidente Trump. La población estadounidense probablemente tiene preguntas sobre las nuevas iniciativas que implementará Trump, su nueva administración cómo va a reﬂejar las promesas que este hizo durante su campaña presidencial. Los ciudadanos americanos no son los únicos que tienen inquietudes sobre las nuevas posibilidades políticas, siendo estos los únicos con el derecho de votar. La población de inmigrantes en los Estados Unidos, quienes tienen un estatus de residencia, diferentes tipos de visas o aún no tienen documentos legales, también tienen muchas dudas sobre cómo las nuevas políticas pueden afectarles. Para asistir a las necesidades e inquietudes de sus ciudadanos y miembros de la comunidad americana, muchos gobiernos latinoamericanos están ofreciendo ayuda para que los inmigrantes no se sientan amenazados por las diferentes posibilidades que existen en este nuevo gobierno. Una de las acciones más notables de parte de un gobierno latinoamericano ha sido la respuesta mexicana. De acuerdo a CNN, el cuatro de marzo de 2017 cada uno de los 50 consulados mexicanos en los Estados Unidos abrieron un centro de defensoría en donde representantes legales ofrecen ayuda gratuita a sus ciudadanos. El gobierno mexicano ha estado muy involucrado en el bienestar de sus ciudadanos desde la elección del Presidente Trump, meses antes de que entrara a la casa blanca. La semana después de la elección, el periódico Los Angeles Times reportó que el 16 de noviembre de 2016, el
gobierno mexicano dio órdenes para crear una línea telefónica que estará abierta las 24 horas, como también centros de defensoría. La línea telefónica es el Centro de Información y Asistencia a Mexicanos (CIAM) y en su sitio oﬁcial conectado al gobierno
muestra la dedicación de parte del gobierno mexicano para asegurarse de que aunque sus ciudadanos no vivan en el país, les darán el apoyo necesario. Los centros podrán ayudar a una gran cantidad de personas en las comunidades latinas que no saben
FORO LOCAL Alan Hubbard, el consul de Mexico y la consul de El Salvador hablando sobre los derechos de los inmigrantes en la escuela elemental Arcola en Wheatonl. mexicano, dice que brinda ayuda a personas mexicanas que quieren reportar abusos contra su persona, reportar redadas migratorias, u obtener información sobre jornadas legales, talleres comunitarios y otros servicios. En un mensaje a los ciudadanos mexicanos, el presidente Enrique Peña Nieto anunció que, “he dado indicaciones para que se canalicen más de mil millones de pesos adicionales a nuestra red de consulados en la Unión Americana.” La cantidad de dinero son unos 53 millones de dólares y esto de-
cómo les podría afectar el nuevo régimen y qué podrían hacer ante cualquier situación. Alan Hubbard, el cónsul de protección y asuntos legales en la sección consular de la embajada de México en Washington, D.C. mencionó: “se detectó que muchas personas podían tener tal vez un remedio o algun tipo de recurso legal para evitar una deportación, pero no lo hacían por falta de información y por falta de dinero.” Entonces, los centros se dedicaron a dar información conﬁable porque había muchos ru-
mores que estaban creando más confusión y miedo en las comunidades. Hubbard explica que los talleres no son solo para personas indocumentadas, también para mexicanos con estatus de residencia que no conocen las diferentes situaciones en la cual podrían perder su estatus. Al igual que la CASA de Maryland, los centros tienen cursos para ser ciudadanos y Hubbard comenta que con la posibilidad de tener de dos nacionalidades, ya ha terminado la estigma que uno es traidor si se vuelve ciudadano americano. Para muchos residentes, es la mejor vía para proteger su vida aquí y, “no es que digamos es mejor ser ciudadano estadounidense que mexicano, la idea es cómo mejoramos la situación de los mexicanos en este país,” agregó Hubbard. Las clases ayudan a que personas entiendan cómo les puede afectar nuevas leyes o prácticas del gobierno, dependiendo en su estatus en los Estados Unidos. Para los que no tienen sus documentos legales, también hay talleres informativos en donde ellos pueden crear un plan de emergencia. Hubbard indica que una de las preocupaciones más grandes en esta área es el que hacer con los hijos si uno de los padres están detenidos. El cónsul aconseja que los adultos tengan un plan lógico que incluya todos sus documentos, conocer un abogado antes de la situación y tener decisiones concretas sobre qué van a hacer con sus hijos. Conocer las diferentes formas legales de demostrar quién va a ser el guardián de los hijos o asegurarse que los hijos son ciudadanos del país de sus padres son dos consejos muy comunes. Lo más importante dijo Hubbard es que, “¿Hacemos chequeos médicos para ver como estamos, por qué no hacer un chequeo migratorio?” Eso quiere decir que uno debe de tener información conﬁable sobre las diferentes posibilidades que hay para protegerse a sí mismo y a su familia, algo en que los centros de defensoría están pudiendo realizar.
Coca-Cola contrata a jóvenes para recoger reciclaje en México
La empresa ahorra millones de dolares pagando una miseria a jóvenes pobres
Por Carlos Fuentes Coca-Cola es una de las marcas más conocidas en todo el mundo y casi no se puede prender la televisión o abrir una revista sin eventualmente ver un anuncio de Coca-Cola. La compañía fundada por el hombre de negocios, Asa Griggs Candler en el año 1892, se ha convertido en la compañía más grande y exitosa de bebidas en todo el mundo. El éxito de Coca-Cola se debe a múltiples razones (no solo porque la CocaCola es deliciosa!) como su mercadotecnia y su simplicidad. Otra razón por el éxito de la compañía es como manejan la fabricación de sus productos pero recientemente esto ha generado controversia en México. La oﬁcina central de la empresa está ubicada en el estado de Georgia pero tiene aproximadamente más de 900 sucursales por todos los lugares del mundo. Uno pensaría que la expansión de este negocio a países extranjeros sería beneﬁcioso a la economía de ambos países pero este no fue el caso. Algo común en las compañías enormes como Coca-Cola es el acto de colocar sucursales en países donde pueden tomar ventaja de las leyes de salario mínimo y del trabajo infantil que básicamente se puede comparar a la esclavitud. Compañías como Nestlé, Apple y H&M han sido acusadas por tomar ventaja de la gente más humilde de países como Bangladesh, China y las Filipinas donde alegadamente contratan niños menores de edad para trabajar en fábricas en condiciones deplorables por un pago por debajo de lo que se considerara digno y aceptable. En el caso de Coca-Cola, a los ﬁnales del 2016 fueron acusados de abusar de trabajo infantil con condiciones lamentables y dar un pago insuﬁciente a los jóvenes. Coca-Cola tiene varias plantas de reciclaje ubicadas en México donde contratan a jóvenes para ir a los basureros de las ciudades para recoger latas reciclables e intercambiarlos por unos
miserables cinco centavos por cada libra de reciclables. En teoría, la idea de darles trabajo a jóvenes y hasta ayudar el medio ambiente no suena como una mala idea hasta que uno aprende que los oﬁciales de las plantas tratan a sus empleados como basura al igual que las condiciones bajo las cuales ellos mismos trabajan. En un reportaje televisado por Univision, los chicos que fueron entrevistados dicen que se levantan en la madrugada para recoger basura. Si el trabajo infantil no fue suﬁcientemente ilegal, los niños están expuestos a los peligros de los basureros. Los padres se preocupan por la seguridad de sus hijos ya que no hay ningún oﬁcial de la empresa para asegurar la seguridad de los niños. Es por eso que los padres son los únicos vigilando que no se corten con botellas rotas u otros peligros en los basureros como ratas o bacteria. Dado a que los basureros no son propiedad de Coca-Cola, técnicamente ellos no son responsables por la seguridad de los trabajadores. Se puede asumir que por como estas plantas corren su negocio es dudoso que ellos les importaran las condiciones del lugar de trabajo incluso si fueran responsables. A raíz de esto se puede inferir que en el caso que uno de los jóvenes tenga un accidente en el trabajo no tendrán ningún tipo de seguro para cubrir los gastos médicos. Si se lastiman en el trabajo se meten problemas peores que donde estaban antes. En el mismo año que este incidente vino a la atención del público global, la Comisión de derechos humanos de México ordenaron a las autoridades que hicieran cambios a las condiciones insalubres de los lugares de trabajo. Desafortunadamente hasta ahora todavía nada ha cambiado. Lo más repugnante de esta situación es la avaricia de las empresa en México. Debido a la localidad de estos establecimientos, en México se usa el sistema de utilizar la mano de obra en vez de maquinas de reciclaje como camiones de
basura. Dado a esta sistema Coca-Cola ahora aproximadamente 50 millones de dólares y pueden evadir ciertos impuestos de plástico. Para los superiores de la empresa, estos niños son insigniﬁcantes y fácilmente reemplazables, signos de dólar se pueden ver en sus ojos y no les importan cuántos niños sufren para que las plantas ahorran dinero. La presión no está toda en las plantas de reciclaje. Es también la responsabilidad del gobierno mexicano para asegurar que las leyes acerca del trabajo infantil y las condiciones adecuadas del trabajo sean acatadas. Hoy día el salario minimo en Mexico varia por áreas pero el promedio es aproximadamente 80 pesos mexicanos la hora lo cual sería aproximadamente 3.88 dólares. Esta cantidad ya es relativamente bajo y el hecho que las plantas no les pagan a los jóvenes ni eso es una desgracia y necesita haber intervención por el gobierno o del departamento de trabajo. La realidad es que esto no es solo una problema etica, si las plantas empezaran de contratar a trabajadores y pagarles salarios justos ayudaría a la economía de México en general. El incremento de dinero que ganan los trabajadores ayudará a sus gastos y hace que la economía crezca con más dinero invertido. Similarmente a otros casos similares, aunque esta controversia sea conocido por el público es más probable que no habrá una pérdida de negocio para la empresa, Esta práctica de tomar ventaja de gente humilde con pocos recursos no es una nueva idea. Desde el comienzo de la comunidad económica mundial se veía que la avidez causa a que unos tomen
ventaja de los más desafortunados. Es más probable que la camisa que uno tiene puesta ahorita fue hecha por un niño en China en una fábrica donde se les pagan muy mal. Al ser un país adinerado como los Estados Unidos, uno se vuelve ciego al hecho que en otros lugares del mundo muchos ni tienen los derechos humanos básicos como un salario mínimo. Uno solo puede esperar que la situación se mejore para estos estos mexicanos y que pronto tengan los derechos que se merecen.
27 de abril, 2017
Nuevos programas dan una voz a mujeres latinas en la codiﬁcación
Enseñando el idioma del futuro a niñas interesadas en expandir sus oportunidades Por Sofía Muñoz
e introducir programas de programación para incentivar que sus estudiantes lo aprendan. CODeLLA es uno de estos programas, pero es especíﬁcamente para niñas latinas que están interesadas en aprender los nuevos idiomas de la programación y continuar esos estudios. De acuerdo al New York Times, muchos
crecido, se ha visto que grupos de minoría como mujeres, personas de ascendencia africana y latinos no han sido parte del movimiento. De acuerdo al programa Changing America (Cambiando América) en el noticiero MSNBC, en los Estados Unidos hay 6.5 por ciento de latinos en una profe-
países han comenzado a introducir cambios en sus sistemas de educación para reﬂejar las nuevas demandas para un trabajador profesional. El artículo explica qué, “Es importante no solo para los estudiantes en sus futuros prospectos profesionales, pero también para la competitividad de la economía de sus países y la habilidad de encontrar trabajadores caliﬁcados en la industria tecnológica.” El director de los asuntos gubernamentales en el Computing Research Association, la asociación de investigación de computación, dice que el número de personas especializándose en el estudio de la ciencia de computación en los Estados Unidos fue un 29 por ciento en el año escolar 2011-2012 y es probable que estas cifras crezcan mucho más. Aunque el número de personas que están interesadas en esta zona de estudio ha
sión STEM, es decir las carreras con ciencias, tecnología, ingeniería, y matemáticas. Mientras el programa reporta que han habido incentivas de parte de compañías grandes para reclutar más minorías, esto no ha cambiado el ambiente drásticamente. CODeLLA es un programa de inmersión en empresas de tecnología y codiﬁcación diseñado para introducir nuevas destrezas a niñas latinas y que puedan ser parte de las carreras de STEAM (lo mismo que STEM, incluyendo arte y diseño). CODeLLA no sólo da clases de los diferentes idiomas de codiﬁcación y cómo crear componentes tecnológicos con ello, pero también tiene conferencias en donde van profesionales a hablar sobre la ciencia de computación. Los eventos, uno de ellos She Innovates Tech Miami (Ella Innova Tecnología Miami), atraen a
personas que demuestran que uno puede usar la codiﬁcación para un gran número de carreras, no solo las que tienen que ver con la ciencia de computación. CODeLLA es similar al programa Girls Who Code porque luchan para ayudar a que niñas tengan más conﬁanza en la codiﬁcación, una carrera en la cual muchas mujeres se sienten aisladas y rechazadas. Lu-Yang se acuerda de su primera experiencia en una clase de ciencia de computación en el programa Magnet, en donde se sentía intimidada porque no tenía ninguna experiencia y era una de las pocas niñas en su clase. Ella cuenta que, “Deﬁnitivamente había una presión en donde yo no quería hacer una pregunta mala porque tal vez las personas iban a pensar que es porque soy una niña, no solo porque soy una persona que no lo conoce todo.” Aunque las personas de su clase no le insultaban, Lu-Yang se le quedó con la inquietud que tenía que encontrar más ayuda para las niñas interesadas en la codiﬁcación. Después de haber notado la disparidad entre los números de niños en clases de codiﬁcación en Blair, Lu-Yuan decidió comenzar el club Girls Who Code con la ayuda de su profesora y unos estudiantes de posgrado en la Universidad de Maryland en el programa de ciencias de computación, quienes enseñan. El club Girls Who Code invita a todas las interesadas para que aprendan un nuevo idioma de codiﬁcación, especialmente con su nueva beca que da 100 dólares para los estudiantes que hacen una sesión de diez semanas en el club. Con todos los recursos que están disponibles, es importante que mujeres puedan ver que es posible e ideal que aprendan un idioma de programación para asegurarse que tengan un futuro con varias oportunidades.
Nuevo programa de Univision presenta noticias de manera satírica “Notanserio” informa a la comunidad latina de acontecimientos actuales Por Angie Mejia Univision debutó su nuevo programa, Notanserio, el 26 de febrero del 2017 el cual presenta temas y eventos actuales que afectan a la comunidad hispana de manera satírica. Este nuevo espacio televisivo cuenta con monólogos, bocetos, caricaturas políticas, sátira musical, entrevistas de celebridades y otras maneras creativas para demostrar los acontecimientos políticos actuales. Los anﬁtriones de este programa son el comediante mexicano, Fernando Arau y la reportera de noticias, Aranxta Loizaga. No es la primera vez que Arau ha trabajado en Univision, el fue unos de los pioneros del programa diario matutino Despierta América y se mantuvo en el programa por más de una década. Lamentablemente fué despedido porque la cadena enfrentó desafíos económicos que la forzaron a reducir su personal. Su regreso a Univision fue anunciado en la reunión que se llevó a cabo el 17 de febrero y que contaba con la presencia del elenco original de Despierta América al celebrar su vigésimo aniversario. El programa también cuenta como animadora a la periodista mexicana Arantxa Loizaga. Ella, aparte de este nuevo programa, también es co-presentadora de “Noticiero Univision-Fin de Semana” desde el año 2014. Su carrera periodística empezó en San Antonio, Texas donde se mudó con el ﬁn de estar cara a cara con la realidad que la gente inmigrante enfrenta en la frontera. Este espectáculo satírico se enfoca principalmente en ﬁguras políticas y gubernamentales, especialmente Donald Trump con su visión negativa hacia los inmigrantes y su inﬂuencia en la comunidad hispana. También ayuda al público a mantenerse informado sobre acontecimientos políticos recientes, pero en una perspectiva más amena. Carlos Rivera del doceavo grado se da
cuenta de los beneﬁcios que trae el tener un programa de parodia en español que hable de los sucesos políticos actuales. Él dice, “ Este programa ofrece a la comunidad hispana una mejor manera de entender y de estar informada sobre los temas que nos afectan. El
popularidad en general sigue creciendo. Recientemente el programa presentó un sketch donde resaltaron de forma divertida las barreras idiomáticas entre Donald Trump y el presidente de México, Enrique Peña Nieto. La presentación comenzó con
programa llama la atención porque es chistoso y a la vez, lleva a que mucha gente tenga la posibilidad de verlo en su propio idioma.” Arau y Loizaga demostraron su felicidad de estar en el programa a través de las redes sociales. Arau twitteó después de su debut del programa, “Muy contento con el resultado de NOTANSERIO UNIVISION @NoTanSerioTV. Arantxa Loizaga encantadora profesional. Muy agradecido en la vida.” Notanserio ha sacado al aire cinco episodios con un rating bastante favorable. Igualmente, el contenido en su canal de Youtube cuenta con decenas de miles de visitas y su
Peña Nieto y su traductor a punto de hacer una llamada al presidente Trump para discutir sobre el pago del muro. El traductor, no siendo un buen traductor, traduce el inglés casi de forma literal cuando en verdad, Trump está expresando cosas malas sobre México. A pesar de lo divertido del tema, esto aumenta la conciencia del público que una cuestión de falta de comunicación entre estos dos presidentes puede ocasionar problemas mucho más profundos. Otro segmento que fue presentado en este programa fue el cuento de los tres cerditos que reﬂejan la relación entre la visión
de Trump y la de los inmigrantes con la famosa construcción del muro. Los tres cerditos representaron todas las versiones de Trump y últimamente querían construir la pared en una manera diferente. Cuando los dos cerdos construyeron el muro de palo y paja, el inmigrante fue capaz de soplar y derribar el muro. Al ﬁnal, cuando se presenta el muro de ladrillo, ya no se pudo destruir. Desafortunadamente, insinua que Trump quiera construir un muro alrededor de sí mismo, lo cual le llevará a que eventualmente quede aislado y solo en su mundo sin peligro. Aparte de los presentadores principales, el programa ha iniciado a invitar a algunas ﬁguras conocidas de Univision como Jomari Goyso, quien es un experto de moda y tiene una segmento llamado “Jomari Love” en el programa Primer Impacto. En el futuro, probablemente podemos esperar más personajes del medio de comunicaciones y artístistas cuando el show comience a ganar más popularidad. Este espectáculo se puede comparar a las actuales presentaciones en inglés tales como The Daily Show y Saturday Night Live. Dichos programas también parodian la cultura y la política contemporáneas, presentando de una forma satírica historias de noticias recientes y ﬁguras políticas. El programa sale al aire todos los domingos a las 7 pm ET por el canal Univision. Segmentos de los programas anteriores se pueden ver a través del canal de Youtube, “Univision Noticias” y en su twitter, @NoTanSerioTV. Esperamos que esta nueva perspectiva de las noticias que es presentada de una manera divertida ayude a que la comunidad se informe, pero a la vez, tome conciencia de la realidad de la gente inmigrante y que esto nos lleve a unirnos más como gremio minoritario.
April 27, 2017
April 27, 2017
Get your head in the game of pick up basketball Regardless of the sport, unplanned games create a casual setting By Henry Wiebe What happened to the “Sandlot” days when a group of kids could spontaneously show up at a dirt field to play a game of baseball? Where did the pickup games of street soccer go? When did we stop playing unplanned basketball with whoever showed up at the court, just because we wanted to play? Although the people who play impromptu games may not know each other well, and may even be complete strangers, they are still able to enjoy themselves in ways that a more organized context does not offer. Blazers congregate at schools, rec centers, and gyms to play pickup sports—most commonly basketball. People come to play pickup games for a broad range of reasons, but most students agree that casual games can create a sense of community through players’ common appreciation of the sport. Some students appreciate the relaxed setting that pickup sports provide. According to junior Hank Groberg, pickup sports allow him to enjoy the game without feeling the added stress of a competitive team. “I like to play basketball, but I’m not that good. I’m not good enough to ‘go pro’ in this sport, but it’s still something that I enjoy doing,” he says. “So being able to play with my friends in a competitive environment, where I can succeed, without a pressure to play better, it’s a good use of my time.” However, playing for fun is not the sole purpose of pickup sports. Senior Isaq Nur explains that they also provide a good source of exercise. “It’s just a good experience to stay active and to stay fit,” Nur says. For sophomore James Madden, pickup basketball allows him to work on his personal game without worrying about making sure his team plays well as a whole. “It’s much more individual based as opposed to more team related in more organized basketball,” he says. Senior Jesse Matthews credits the lunchtime pickup basketball games on the outdoor basketball courts with helping him talk to
BALL IS LIFE Sophomore Leo Madigan Jr. (left) and sophomore Samuel Grossman (right) play a casual game of basketball during lunch. new people whom he otherwise would not interact with. “You make new friends just by playing with them,” he says. “People not in your grade, and people you’ve never seen in class before.” Matthews says these games provide opportunities to have fun with new people outside of his usual group of friends. “It’s good to get out of the bubble of the people you know, and have people with new senses of humor,” he says. While Matthews takes advantage of pickup games during the school day, other students play in the evenings or at spontaneous times. During the winter, Groberg and a few
of his friends meet occasionally at Takoma Park Middle School to split up into different teams and play pickup basketball for an hour. “We have a once a week thing every Monday. We play at a local middle school. We rented a gym together to play,” he says. His father also plays pickup basketball at a local gym, where he often tags along. Another member of Groberg’s pickup group is junior Gabel Cramer, who describes it as a good way to relax after school. “It’s nice to play with your friends,” he says. “At the end of the day it’s a fun thing to do.” Groberg says that he grew up on a steady diet of sports. He was always able to pick up a ball and find someone to play with, which
fostered many fond childhood memories. “At the beginning of every summer, my friend’s dad hosts a two-on-two and three-on-three pickup basketball tournament,” he says. “I actually won a couple of years ago, which was really fun and a really great memory.” Even though the encounters that occur in a pickup setting are often short-lived, they create a special connection that is seldom found elsewhere. “You might not know people’s names, you might never see them again, but when you’re on the court with someone, they just become your friend, if only just for that game,” Cramer says. “It really is more than just basketball.”
These student athletes reach higher levels of play Players
By Alexander Dacy Senior Madison Waechter sits down at a table with her coach, her parents, and her principal. Today is decision day. Excited teammates and photographers from local publications crowd the table, waiting for Waechter to make her next move. The cameras begin to click rapidly as she picks up a pen and signs away on the next four years of her life. Waechter then dons a University of Wisconsin hat, proud to swim for the Badgers. Many athletes, like Waechter, dream of participating in Division I college athletics in hopes of eventually turning professional. Yet, only 176,000 per year reach the elite Di-
vision I collegiate level. The varied journeys of these top-tier athletes can be long, intense, and stressful, though ultimately rewarding. On a different college track Although the recruiting process has unique components for each high school athlete, it follows a general pattern. First, student athletes attend clinics to network with college coaches; then, they follow up with schools of interest by posting their highlight videos and statistics online. According to senior soccer player Jordi Long, this is the most critical step in the process. “Contacting the schools that you really want to go to is the most important part,” he
COURTESY OF MADISON WAECHTER
COMMITMENTS Senior Madison Waechter signs a letter of intent for the Unvisersity of Wisconson, where she will swim and study for the next four years.
says. “A lot of kids that get recruited—it’s not because the school emailed them; it’s that [the student] reached out.” Next, coaches and recruiting coordinators use this information to develop a pitch for the athletes that features positive aspects of each school’s respective program. Schools sometimes use unconventional tactics to woo desired student athletes. According to USA Today, University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, for example, is wellknown for spending the night at recruits’ homes in order to build rapport with them. If the athletes are Division I or Division II, the schools then host them on all-expenses paid official visits and offer scholarships before the athlete finally signs with the team and college of their choice. While no current Blair athletes have ever experienced any outlandish recruiting tactics such as what Harbaugh does, certain small gestures from schools have stood out. Senior Thierry Siewe Yanga, who will run track in college, remembers the University of Pittsburgh gave him valuable life advice on an official visit, which has stuck with him to this day. “When I visited Pittsburgh, they had this thing called the life skills program, and it’s basically about just teaching you the proper etiquette,” he explains. “So if you get stuck in the elevator with the CEO of your ideal company or the company that you have an interest for, [it shows] how would you interact with them so they can notice you.” Waechter experienced a practice with the Wisconsin swim team and recalls how their mentality and camaraderie stuck with her. “I just really liked how the whole team interacted with each other and how they’re all really supportive, but they also knew how to have a good time,” she says. “I liked the different coaches because I really got along well with them and just their work ethic… [and] how even though it’s really hard, they all motivate each other in different ways.” While these students exemplify athletic
success, getting to this position is rare. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), only six percent of high school athletes play college sports, and only two percent of all high school athletes receive scholarships. Division I and Division II schools offer athletics scholarships. While Division III schools are prohibited from giving such scholarships, athletes can receive academic-based financial aid. ‘So much fun’
While having raw talent is a major component of being recruited, coaches also examine how well-rounded athletes are. Colleges evaluate work ethic, grades, social media habits, and how well a potential recruit works with others. These considerations often play a critical role in the school’s interest in an athlete. Blair’s student athletes stress the need to pay attention to these factors since they could make or break a scholarship offer. “Coaches [are] really interested in how fast you are of course, but they’re interested in who you are as a person too,” Waechter says. “They don’t want to have someone on their team that’s not going to support the other people on their team, and they don’t want someone who’s not coachable, who’s not going to listen to what they’re saying.” Siewe Yanga adds that student athletes should be aware of their off-field business during the entire process. “Keep your [social media] profile clean,” he says. “Just try to be the best person you can be; not just the best athlete, but the best person. … Take care of your grades, because at the end of the day, having a brain is really important.” Amidst all the whirlwind of recruiting, Waechter has one simple piece of advice for prospective college athletes. “Just have fun with it,” she says. “Because if you are getting recruited, it’s an awesome process, especially going on trips and meeting all these new people and then finally deciding—it was so much fun.”
April 27, 2017
Trail Blazers: A 41 mile walk on the wild side Hiking the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail in one day By Julian Brown, Grady Jakobsberg, and Cole Sebastian In first person The stones poke up over yet another peak as we trudge forward, squinting to make out their form. The path grows wider and more gravelly, confirming that we are approaching our destination. We break out into wide smiles and our panting subsides as the ground levels out before the ancient tower. We throw our packs to the side and collapse onto the warm grass. Miles and miles of rocks, dirt, logs, and leaves all trampled over by our mud-caked boots are left behind us. We fall asleep right in the grassy field and succumb to the fatigue that has plagued us since 12:30 that morning. After 45 minutes, we stand up, put our packs on, and set out for another 20 miles on the Appalachian Trail. 12:30 a.m. After we stow our tent, sleeping bags, and pillows in the car, the three of us congregate in the Pen Mar Park parking lot, 300 feet from the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland, for some early morning oatmeal. We take another look at our map, tracing out the 41 miles of the Appalachian Trail that we plan to hike in the next 24 hours. The portion is the entire Maryland section of the trail from Pen Mar, PA to Harper’s Ferry, WV. Anticipation hangs over our group. Shouldering our packs, we set out at a brisk pace, with our headlamps piercing the darkness. Sooner than expected, Julian’s phone announces that we have completed the first mile of our hike. We would come to regard the computerized voice of the Map My Walk app as the voice of God. 2:00 a.m. Now, a first person narrative from Cole: “Oh craaap,” I say as I stare down at my empty hip pouch. “Guys, I think I lost my phone.” Julian and Grady give no visible reaction. I do not give myself time to lament and ask for Julian’s phone to use the Find My iPhone app. It is only 0.3 miles behind us, so I tell my companions to soldier on as I search. I walk towards the marker on Julian’s phone, confident that I will find it, and this episode will only be a minor hic-
By Christian Mussenden It is springtime in the nation’s capital, which usually means one of two things for Washington Wizards fans: the sweet feeling of yet another season of subpar basketball coming to an end, or the disappointment associated with watching an overhyped team lose early in the postseason. To dedicate yourself as a fan of the Washington Wizards is basically dedicating yourself to feelings of disappointment, frustration, and, at times, crippling sadness. This year, the Wizards, started off the season with a putrid record of 6-12. On the court, they played like a nightmare. The team’s best player, John Wall, already appeared to be at wit’s end with his young, inexperienced teammates and their inability to adapt to new head coach Scott Brooks’ style of play. Once again, Wizards fans adopted the mindset of rebuilding, and started identifying the flaws in the team and what pieces needed to move. Then, something strange started happening. The entire Wizards roster magically began to come together. Stars John Wall and Bradley Beal learned to get along and quickly developed the reputation of one of the league’s top backcourts. The unexpected addition of former Brooklyn forward Bojan
cup in our triumphant journey. I look down at Julian’s screen to see how much further until I re-unite with my phone. The screen is black. All hope is lost. I have no idea what the passcode is and I am sure Julian has hiked out of shouting range. I recall my first viewing of the map and desperately search the area that seems to correspond with what I remember. A quick sweep tells me that I will not find it today. I turn around and pick up the pace, hoping to drive back to the nearby road tomorrow morning. I push the phone to the back of my mind and soon catch up with my companions. 5:45 a.m. After a grueling uphill climb, we reach the top of a ridge and are greeted by a pink sliver of sky in the east. Deciding that we deserve a break, we sit down atop a rock with a view of the valley below. Little white flower petals of nearby trees blanket the ground. Illuminated by the light of the moon, they emulate the night sky that is just starting to fade away. It is not often that we get the opportunity to experience nature so fully. As we rest, we realize we had not eaten anything but a few mouthfuls of trail mix since the beginning of the trip, so we take the chance to break out the tortillas, nutella, and peanut butter we had packed. We are upbeat and glad that day is finally upon us and we are here to see it.
We cross I-70 at mile 18 and have just three miles to go before the halfway point. Spirits are low. The freshness and novelty of the trip has long since worn off, leaving just our frail, strained bodies in their wake. The incoming Washington Monument (no relation) is a defining landmark in our journey, but the approach does not boost our spirits because we know we are only halfway to our destination. Our beloved crew slowly spreads apart on the trail, with Grady leading the way, Julian 100 feet back, and Cole caboosing along with the food-filled pack. Alone in the wilderness, there is no companionship to distract us from our growing list of aches and pains. These three miles were by far the
Bogdanovic at the trade deadline gave the team an unprecedented level of depth and flexibility just in time for the postseason. As a Wizards fan, it is difficult for me to wrap my head around the concept of the team looking remotely intimidating. These Wizards are no longer the island of misfit toys of the past (see Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young). They are no longer the NBA’s whiny, self-centered team that always shows flashes of promises but continuously manages to shut down in the face of any resemblance of adversity. Led by a prolific pair of guards, the Wizards have figured out how to learn from their mistakes, and more importantly, how to win. To top it all off, they are fun to watch! Despite only being tied 2-2 in their first round series against the Atlanta Hawks, our Wizards are a darn good basketball team. Someone pinch me.
“Christian’s Corner” is a monthly column in which staff writer Christian Mussenden expresses his opinion on current events in the world of sports.
TAKE A HIKE (clockwise form the top) We rest as the sun rises. Grady and Cole ponder riddles to pass the time. Julian and Cole take a much needed break. most soul-crushing of the whole trip.
After lunch and a 45 minute nap at the monument, we check Find My iPhone again to find that Cole’s phone is slowly moving up the trail in Pennsylvania. Two northbound hikers have picked up the phone and later, after seeing a text on that same phone containing Cole’s mom’s phone number, call and arrange to mail the phone from their next stop. At the time of publishing, the phone should be on its way. Feeling rejuvenated from the nap, we hike as one, playing games like I Spy and F**k, Marry, Kill to pass the time. We delve into riddles, using the limited amount of cell coverage to find problems to consider and solve. When even the riddles begin to bore us, our conversation turns inevitably to food; what we are going to eat at the end of the hike, what we would eat if we could have one meal, and on and on. On a particularly long break, we are passed by a group of 50 year-olds who we have previously met at the Washington Monument. For the next ten miles, we continuously pass and get passed by them, always exchanging a few words of feeble banter such as “Hi again” and “Long time no see.” Eventually, the golden oldies give in and head to their cars and we march on, reveling in our triumph over the baby boomers. Soon we begin to feel like our destination is within reach. Julian’s phone squawks out 25 miles, then 30, and then 35. We can taste the end and it tastes like chicken. Maybe our upbeat spirit and lack of crippling pain is a result of us popping Advil like candy and maybe it is not. We will never know.
reaching the canal. Night falls quickly and we reach once more for our headlamps. The darkness seems endless and it is impossible to tell how far we have traveled. The Advil has worn off and our feet burn excruciatingly in our boots. We dig into the pain, and silence falls upon the group. The croaking of frogs is the only interruption to the soft clopping of our feet. We look down the dark path in desperation, willing Harper’s Ferry to come into view. Suddenly, a bright orange light appears between the trees. The light grows in intensity as surrounding lights become visible. We turn a corner and the tall spire of St. Peter’s Church in Harper’s Ferry comes into view, beckoning us like Dorothy to Oz. 9:09 p.m. We reach the bridge and bound up the stairs in a flurry of joy and relief. We collapse on the bridge as the reality of our feat catches up with us. We have walked 41 miles in under 21 hours. We have hiked through darkness, sunlight, and darkness again. Fully immersed in the beauty of the mountains, we have suffered through the greatest challenge of our lives and we have come out happy and proud. So what did you do last weekend?
We reach Weverton Cliffs, the rocky wall that overlooks the Potomac River and the next section of our voyage, the C&O Canal. We stop on the edge to take a few pictures and finish off our remaining bagels, tortillas, and salami. The sky is overcast, but the view is spectacular. Harper’s Ferry is still out This story is accompanied by a video of sight, but only three miles remain between us produced by Ben Miller. To see the vidand victory. eo, scan the code to the right with a QR We pack up once reader app or use the URL below. more and proceed down https://vimeo.com/214690221 the mountain, eventually
April 27, 2017
Spring into this season of spectacular sports By Noah Chopra-Khan
Girls’ lacrosse is on a three game winning streak with a current record of 4-3. They recently beat Northwood 16-7, they were able to move the ball and transition better as a team Senior captain Claudia Burlinson is excited by the improvement she’s seen in her team. “We’ve improved a lot working together,” says. Looking forward, she wants to continue getting younger players into the game and maintain the speed and intensity they have been playing with. “We need to work on starting faster, that’s something we’ve been lacking,” she says.
Boys’ lacrosse emerged from a brief rut with a win over Einstein 16-10, bringing their current record to 4-4. After losing a rivalry game to Northwood following spring break and then conceding another game to BCC, it was a great victory to beat Einstein, the division leaders. Attacker junior Uro Lyi scored 7 points (goals and assists combined), and senior Nick Yonkos played strong defense, sliding well and playing smart. Senior captain Daniel Green attributes the success to good practices and a tougher mentality. “Preparation and a change in the mindset really helped,” he says. “There was a lot of good movement and getting good shots oﬀ.”
Winning their ﬁrst division match in four years and maintaining a winning record of 5-3, the boys’ tennis team has had a very good season. In order to stay in division 1, they narrowly beat Walter Johnson winning four out of seven games. Senior captain Richard Chen played well, winning his ﬁrst division I game.“My opponent was getting really pissed oﬀ… I was beating him mentally, playing calmly, and he actually threw his racket at the ground.” Junior Richard Gancayco and freshmen William Shepehrd Johnson also played dominantly as doubles. “I saw they were playing really aggressive they we’re being really proactive at the net and that deﬁnitely paid oﬀ because it helped them win,” Chen says.
Baseball has had a winning, but inconsistent season so far, with a current record of 6-5. Their most recent match against Northwood resulted in an 11-1 blowout win, leaving Blair as the kings of the Boulevard. Junior Joey Merrill exhibited stellar defense at shortstop, and senior captain Ryan Bratton drove a ball into the right center gap for a triple. Bratton believes they are making a lot of small mistakes as a team that are costing them games. “It’s most deﬁnitely a mental thing. We are physically ﬁt, we are basically capable of winning every single game,” he says. “We have a very deep line up, we just have to bring it all together mentally.”
Key Players: senior Claudia Burlinson, senior Ellie Burlinson, senior Elizabeth Cove, and junior Honor Kalal
Key Players: senior Joshua Agu, senior Daniel Jones, senior Paul Moser, and sophomore Calvin Bruwelheide.
Key Players: sophomore Mark Jung, senior Richard Chen, and sophomore Tyler Huang
Key Players: seniors Ryan Bratton, Sam Strongin, Scott Gahart, and Raﬀa Kanner
BREAKING ANKLES Junior Marike Pinsonneault runs toward the goal in a close game.
TAKING SHOTS Sophomore Calvin Bruelhide Runs past Northwood defenders.
SWINGING FOR GLORY Alexander Frey-Kim gets ready to return the ball on the court.
THROWING SMOKE Junior Joey Merrill delivers a pitch in a game against B-CC.
COURTESEY OF TINO PHAM
COURTESEY OF TINO PHAM
PUMPING HEAT Sophomore Courtney Wyche delivers a fast pitch in a game.
HIT IT DOWN Senior Rourke Smith spikes down the ball in a game against Sherwood.
FOCUSED ON FORM Junior Emily Fox does a heel stretch on the balance beam.
JUMPING TOWARD SUCCESS Senior Ponce DeLeon leaps over hurdles at a track meet.
Softball is continuing their legacy of success with a strong current season record of 9-2. On April 19, they embarrassed Northwood 17-1, where sophomore Courtney Wyche had multiple strikeouts and junior Maddie Hutchins helped out the team with her strong hitting. Senior captain Allison Mackenzie believes their team is on track to making it to the Maryland State Tournament. “In some ways our losses have helped us because we have to face adversity which makes us stronger,” she says. “We’ve been ﬁguring out how to work together better, trying to get our vibe back. We’re gonna peak at the right time.”
The boys’ volleyball team is killing the competition, after recently winning the division and earning their current record of 6-3. They recently suﬀered a tough loss to Walter Johnson. Senior Rourke Smith scored often and stayed aggressive, but the Walter Johnson oﬀense was too strong. Smith believes the team could have beat Walter Johnson if they meet them again in the playoﬀs. “We’re deﬁnitely improving a lot throughout the season and we’re hoping to make a deep playoﬀ run,” he says. “With the addition of our freshman setter Eric Hao our team play has improved a lot, and through increased team communication we’re able to play really well as a team and a cohesive unit.”
The gymnastics team has had a tough season so far, achieving a current record of 1-3. They recently placed second in a meet against Springbrook and Walter Johnson, where senior Alannah Blount performed well competing in the all around event for the ﬁrst time. Senior captain Jasmine Trejo believes they have some work to put in as they gear up for championships. “We’re still working on some players trying to get more conﬁdence in their routines and stuﬀ, trying to work out more,” she says. “We’re trying to get our routines clean for championships and see who’s going to do which events.”
Key Players: senior Allison Mackenzie, sophomore Courtney Wyche, and senior Isabel Lott
Key Players: senior Jesse Matthews, senior Rourke Smith, senior Lawrence Zhao, and freshman Eric Hao
The track team has gotten oﬀ to a strong start. “[The girls have] won every meet so far, against Kennedy, Rockville, Northwood, and I think we have a good chance against Einstein to win,” says Senior captain Akosua Hawkins. The girls’ record is 5-0 and the boys’ record is 4-1. Hawkins appreciated the huge turnout and the eﬀort every runner puts in in practice. It is getting late into the season and coach Bruce Williams expects more than what he is currently seeing from his athletes. “This is an example for turning the corner,” he says gesturing to junior captain Morgan Casey, referring to her recent personal record in the open 800 meter race. “Right here we need people to break through that barrier, you know some people kind of get stuck at whatever numbers that they’re on, and this is the time of the season that we need to start breaking through as a team,” he says. “We really need to get focused and get going for post season.”
Key Players: seniors Jasmine Trejo, Jasmine Scott, junior Olivia Amitay, and freshman Alejandra Oquendo
Looking at future college athletes
Three guys, 41 miles, 24 hours
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see page F2
Key Players: junior Morgan Casey, senior Akosua Hawkins, senior Ponce De Leon, and senior Thierry Siewe Yanga
April 2017 edition of Silver Chips Print. Editors-in-Chief: Alexandra Marquez and Alice Park