Page 1


the communicator

Community High November 10, 2010 Volume 26 • Edition 2

letter from the

editors 11.10.10


- Kyle Aaronson, Katie O’Brien and Julia Kortberg Editors-in-Chief ‘10-‘11


the communicator letter from the editors

photoS jordan siden

ommunity High School’s relationship with Kerrytown should be cherished. It is a privilege that shops such as Sweetwaters and Sparrow’s tolerate and welcome CHS students into their stores. While some high schools don’t permit their students to leave campus for lunch, we have the ability to venture from across the street to the rest of downtown Ann Arbor. However, this is a freedom we are granted, not a right. A huge factor in a cooperative relationship is trust. Trust – a strong value of CHS – is why we do not have bells that tell us when class is starting; trust is why teachers give us extensions on assignments that we struggled to complete; trust is why we are allowed to go on Forum trips every fall and spring. Therefore, it is a shame that a certain, small group of CHS students is jeopardizing our relationship with Kerrytown. Although we believe it should go without saying, perhaps, students need a reminder that it is common courtesy to purchase an item before sitting down at a restaurant with friends. It is important to respect the store’s policies – if the store does not allow outside food, do not bring in outside food. More than that, it should be unthinkable to steal. We want you to know that by stealing from Kerrytown, you are stealing from the culture of CHS and the values that we are built upon. Stop and think what it would be like without Kerrytown. Stop and think why the name of our high school is Community. These ideas make our school unique; we are a part of the surroundings and we have the opportunities to utilize the downtown location our school was so fortunately built upon. We understand that it is a minority of students that are shoplifting; however, the consequences affect all of us. The loss of Arizona brand beverages is just the beginning, and it is up to the rest of the CHS students to maintain our privileges and respect Kerrytown. We encourage students to not be bystanders and to do their best in preventing shoplifting. Just like the slogan that prevents drunk driving, friends don’t let friends drive drunk, we should adopt our own policy: Friends don’t let friends shoplift from Kerrytown – or anywhere else.

STAFF Editors-In Chief Kyle Aaronson Julia Kortberg Katie O’Brien

Business Manager Cooper DePriest

Art Directors



Jordan Siden Liz McCubbrey

Copy + OP-Ed Editor Oriol Burgos-Tsoffar

Sports Editor Spencer MacDonald


Op-Ed Editor Oriol Burgos-Tsoffar

News and Mind Game Editor Acer Xu



Staff Joella Bennett Mari Cohen Julia DeVarti Josh Fendrick Kerryann Fingerle Ruthie Graff Olivia Kincaid Abby Kleinheksel Clare Lauer Erez Levin Emma Machcinski Patricia Nease Aaron Nelson-Purcell Brienne O’Donnell Hind Omar Justine Samaha Emma Share Zach Shaw Ryan Shea Paul Smith David Soth-Kimmel Eliza Stein Eli Sugerman Rosie Sullivan Tori Weshead

Adviser Tracy Rosewarne

Cover Photo Liz McCubbrey Sauce provided by Kosmo restaurant

Back cover Illustration Colleen O’Brien


14 18




07 What’s up doc? Current and future changes to Obama’s health reform bill

19 A look down under

A look into Community’s basement

14 Community rocks the vote 20 in a rocktopus’s garden

Community High’s Civics classes get involved

Alex Johnson recounts his musical journey

16 home grown 21 Spencer vs. The rise of the local food movement Spencer Vs Pioneer varsity golf athlete Rob Aldrich 18 Exchange life Exchange student Lena Knaebe talks about her experience

28 A spoon full of suger

Eli Sugerman catches up with Ingrid Michaelson

what’s up doc an update on the current and future changes regarding health reform and how it is affecting the local community

emma share photoS courtesy of the Corner Health Center illustration emma share


ast spring, the United States Congress voted for change. President Barack Obama’s Health Reform Bill was put into affect on March 23, 2010. The final, amended version of the law is known as the Affordable Care Act. any U.s. Citizen This law, nearly 2,000 pages long, is or Legal so extensive that its timeline currently Resident without covers the next eight years. The first qualifying major wave of Health Care Reform insurance in 2014 will be subject changes started September 23, when to a tax penalty the Patient’s Bill of Rights was implemented. Some significant bullet points of the Patient’s Bill of Rights include: discriminating against kids with pre-existing conditions and insurance companies dropping and limiting coverage. Every health insurance company will be required to offer coverage to anyone, regardless of their health status. The Bill also states that young adults up to age 26 will be covered on their parents’ insurance plan. Previously, coverage commonly ended at age 19, or 24 for some college students depending on their parents’ health insurance plan.


the communicator


Another major modification is that all insurance plans must now cover preventive care with no cost. The Patient’s Bill of Rights mostly affects citizens currently with health coverage plans. 50.7 million U.S. citizens, however, do not have health insurance, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in September, 2010. A major goal of Obama’s Health Reform is to get that 16.7% percent insured. A client of the local Washtenaw Health Plan described what it was like to live without health insurance. “It’s really scary not to have insurance... because if something happens to you, you’re afraid to go to the doctor.” Ellen Rabinowitz, executive director of the Washtenaw Health Plan (WHP), helps remove some of that fear by providing access to health care services for low-income and uninsured people in Washtenaw County. Medicaid, a nation-wide comprehensive health

coverage program for people with low-income, has been restrictive in terms of eligibility. Many low-income adults who do not fit into certain categories, such as pregnant women, haven’t in the past been eligible for Medicaid. There hasn’t been an alternative for them, so “there are programs like the Washtenaw Health Plan, that exist in different communities to try to fill that gap,” said Rabinowitz. Medicaid ineligibility is the reason that Washtenaw County residents from low-income situations, or who are uninsured, enroll with the Washtenaw Health Plan. According to Rabinowitz, there are approximately 35,000 uninsured people in Washtenaw County. The WHP helps 8,000 of that uninsured pool. Fortunately, the main purpose of the Medicaid expansion is to increase the number of Americans eligible for the health coverage program. Hopefully, by increasing eligibility, Medicaid will be

closer to serving the actual number of low-income citizens who are uninsured. On the local level, 75% of the people who are served by the WHP will become eligible for Medicaid. “It’s going to be a great thing for the people in my program. The Health Plan provides access to a pretty large array of health care services, but Medicaid services are better,” Rabinowitz said. The Health Reform is making this possible by modifying Medicaid so it is solely an income-based program and by increasing the income threshold. The Medicaid expansion, along with the new law that allows all young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ health insurance, will be affecting another local populace. Dr. David Share, who works two jobs in the public health field, is excited to directly be involved with the effects of those two changes, along with the many other amendments to the health care system. Dr. Share is the medical director at the Corner Health Center, a nonprofit community health center in

Above A U of M doctor (right), working as a part of the health care team at the Corner Health Center, and a young mother (left) check infant for an ear infection. Now, with the new health reform bill passed, this type of exam will be covered by all health coverage plans. Part of President Obama’s health reform plan focuses on preventive care services. Patients of the Corner Health Center won’t have to worry about whether they can afford their ‘well-adolescent’ or ‘well-child’ healthcare evaluations. These evaluations include immunizations, blood testing, checks for infections, etc.

Ypsilanti, Michigan, for teenagers and the children of teenagers. The Corner welcomes young adults through age 21, whether or not they have health insurance coverage. At the Corner, Dr. Share sees patients and helps run the organization. In addition to this job, Dr. Share is the executive medical director for health care quality at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “I focus on working with groups of doctors and hospitals around the state to transform how care is delivered in order to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare,” Dr. Share said about his work at Blue Cross. The Health Reform Act is helping to provide more of Dr. Share’s teenaged and their children with care, and, with its new standards, better care. “More young adults will have coverage, so more of my patients will have coverage... many of my patients who aren’t desperately poor, but just poor, will be eligible for Medicaid, which will be a godsend for them because they will have the ability to get care without be-

ing overwhelmed by the cost of care,” Dr. Share said. “In my clinic role, I see firsthand how lack of insurance coverage devastates people when they’re sick and it keeps them from getting preventive services. And the Affordable Care Act will help overcome a lot of that.” The Medicaid expansion, which will insure millions more Americans, has been much anticipated by non-profit health care organizations. With that said, they will have to wait a little while longer. The major changes of Medicaid will not officially be in affect until 2014. That is four years from now-- a long time to wait for someone who is uninsured. On the other hand, this will be the biggest expansion of Medicaid since its creation in the 1960’s. A group of people in America, though, is left out of the expansion benefits: illegal immigrants. While 95% of the total population in America is expected to have insurance coverage after the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, 5% are anticipated to remain uninsured, many of whom are

illegal immigrants. To be eligible for Medicaid, one must have legal residence in the U.S. for five years. Without legal residence, undocumented immigrants won’t know how long they must wait. Approximately 25% of WHP clients are immigrants who aren’t eligible for Medicaid, who won’t be after the Medicaid expansion in 2014, and will continue to be uninsured. “A big gap is that people who are here without legal documentation but are working and contributing to the society will not be covered by any of this,” Dr. Share said. “Many, many people will be basically without coverage and earning relatively low wages; often at jobs like cleaning homes or businesses, or washing dishes, or doing farm labor work that American citizens are often not willing to do. They pay taxes because their employers take money out for taxes but then they don’t get benefits such as eligibility for Medicaid.” Change is a process. It doesn’t always happen overnight. In terms of Health Reform, the process may take

TOP A teenage patient gets his throat examined by a U of M doctor at the Corner Health Center, in Ypsilanti, MI. Bottom Dr. David Share (right), medical director of the Corner Health Center, works in exam room.

eight years. Everyday, though, more and more Americans are being positively impacted by the Health Reform. Whether it’s through preventive care services, staying insured by a parent’s coverage plan, or not being discriminated against by insurance agencies for pre-existing health issues, Americans’ lives are changing. “The one thing to know about the legislation is that it’s a great first step, and it’s going to cover millions more people, but there are still going to be millions of uninsured people,” said Rabinowitz. “So this is in no way the last answer to this question. It’s a first step.” C

a 10% tax on indoor tanning services was implemented in 2010 as a part of the health reform

feature the communicator 07

challenge me community high school may not have ac and ap classes, but that doesn’t stop some students from seeking accelERATION

mari cohen photoS kerry fingerle


the college board has administered advanced placement exams since 1955


ophie Faylor, a sophomore at Community High School, has a tall stack of index cards covered with tiny writing. These notes are all for one class: U.S. History AP, which she attends each afternoon at Huron High School. “I decided that most of my classes are pretty easy and I wanted to have more of a challenge,” said Faylor of her decision to take the course. She is not alone in this choice. Many students at the larger high schools take various AP and AC classes, and a few Community students split-enroll in order to do this as well. AP stands for Advanced Placement and refers to high school classes that function on a college course level. Students who take AP classes can potentially gain college credit if they do well on the end of the year exam. AC (accelerated) classes, which are often referred to as honors classes in other districts, move at a faster pace and study the material in more depth than the normal class level.

the communicator


No Community classes have this distinction. “We’re too small to segment our classes into even smaller groups,” explained counselor John Boshoven. He added that although Community has grown larger and classes have become more crowded, there are still obstacles to creating new types of classes. “It takes a lot of money to pay teachers for special sections and if we start dividing our group into special sections, it costs too much to put that together in a small school.” Still, the potential benefits of these accelerated classes are enough to motivate some students to split enroll. One factor is the learning-focused environment in an advanced class. “Kids who want to work hard and be more stretched and more pushed typically are going to be in those more advanced, more difficult classes. If you enjoy the stimulating conversation and the competition of students that are bright like you are, you are going to like the atmosphere of those classes better than classes that are appealing to kids who

don’t want to work very hard,” said Boshoven. Faylor also feels that the advanced nature of her AP class has helped her learn more. “I definitely think I’ve learned more in this class than I would have in a regular history class,” she said. “It has better prepared me for things in the future.” However, much of the value of the class depends on the specific course. The amount of acceleration, as well as which aspects of the class are more challenging, varies for each AP and AC class. Faylor noted that for U.S. History AP, the difficulty of the class lies mostly in the amount of time it takes to complete all the work. “So far [the challenge is] not necessarily how hard the work’s just a lot of time,” she explained. Community sophomore Alex Meingast spoke on a different note about the German 3 AC class he takes at Pioneer: “The only thing that’s really different is the tests– there are just harder exams and tests.” Meingast, unlike Faylor, does

not feel that his course contains many educational benefits. “The specific class I’m’s not a very rigorous course and the AC doesn’t make it that much harder, doesn’t really help you that much more,” he said. Still, he hopes to take more accelerated classes in the future and he does see one advantage of his course: “I think it’s important [to take AC classes]. I think it definitely looks good to take an AC class [for] a college application.” Many students, like Meingast, are motivated to take more rigorous courses in order to build a more impressive college resume. “Colleges want you to maximize or seek the most rigorous course you can be successful in. And so from the college perspective, it’s a good thing when you’ve done that,” explained Boshoven. Of course, since Community does not offer accelerated or advanced placement classes within the building, colleges evaluate Community students’ applications differently. Colleges ask Boshoven to rate the difficulty of the classes, and he explains

photo illustration kerry fingerle

to them which classes have a more rigorous nature by reputation. It also depends on the way the subject is structured. “[It’s a matter of] which, by reputation, are the most rigorous English classes. Science, it’s a matter of whether you took all four years, the same with foreign language. And math, of course, we go through Calculus. But some students actually go beyond Calculus, so they would even seek additional rigor from there,” said Boshoven. Community sophomore Hank Miller does not see many advantages in taking AP and AC classes. His view is that their only purpose is to look good on college applications, and that students usually only take them because of the frenzy to get into a “good” college. “It creates an additional level of stress on high school students,” he said. “I really like that Community doesn’t have [AP and AC classes], just because you focus more on learning rather than just, ‘Oooh, college.’” Tod Tharp, a science teacher at Community who formerly taught Geophysi-

cal Science AC at Pioneer, can see both sides of the issue. “I think that if you are a serious college-bound student and want to see how you might do in college, it might be beneficial to take an AP class or two, because I think it’s more along the lines of what you’re going to see, pacing-wise,” he said, “It’s just the pacing: how fast you’re going through stuff and getting the material and processing the material and having assessments on your material and then moving on.” But Tharp also really loves Community’s Foundations of Science program and believes that students can learn just as much from it as they can from the AC and AP classes at the other schools. “If you look at the scores of the Community students on the standardized tests, the MEAP and the ACT, they do as well or better than, you know, maybe the bigger schools, where they have the kids doing the AC or AP program,” he said. Taking AC and AP classes at the larger high schools is just one way to

prepare for college or to additionally challenge oneself. Though they may not have in-building AC and AP options, Community students have the opportunity to take actual college courses at the University of Michigan, Washtenaw Community College or Eastern Michigan University, and many of them elect to do this. “Our students at Community typically don’t want to go to the big high schools and take a class…taught by a high school teacher. They typically would rather take a college class, at a college campus, taught by a college instructor,” said Boshoven. There are also advantages to being in the multi-level classes at Community. “We find real value in learning from each other in the collaborative way,” said Boshoven. “Psychologically, and really, philosophically.” Students at different levels and with different learning styles can come together in the Community classes and learn from one another. The question of the necessity of AP and AC classes is not one easily

answered. There is no true way to measure it, and it depends mainly on opinion and personal perspective, as well as the specific class. “I think it’s definitely valuable [to take an AP or AC class], but that being said, I never took an AP class in high school, it’s something they just didn’t have at my school, so I don’t know if I would have been better in college or worse,” said Tharp. Meingast summed it up by saying, “I think…it is ultimately a good thing to be challenged.” But exactly what constitutes “challenging” is different for everyone, and Community students are lucky enough to have several options. Whether it be through in-building classes, AC or AP classes at the other high schools or college courses, it is up to each Community individual to determine how best to learn and be challenged. C

feature the communicator 09

photo jordan siden

behind the screen

an inside look at
















jordan siden


he clacking of keystrokes are the only sounds to be heard in the otherwise silent computer lab. The students are taking the SRI and MyAccess tests, and they are not the only ones. For roughly five years, every high school student in the Ann Arbor Public School system has taken the SRI/MyAccess twice a year, every year, as part of the English Department’s common assessment curriculum, mandated by the Michigan State Board of Education. By directives from the state level, all schools in Michigan are required to have a common assessment piece – a uniform, subjective test whose results can be compared district-wide. Anne Reader, Instructional Technology Coach for Ann Arbor Public Schools, spoke about the term common assessment. “It’s a common term that’s being thrown around in education a lot right now. So as part of the common assessment there are objective pieces and some subjective pieces, in particular for English/Language Arts. They wanted to have some, what the district would consider some objective pieces, or some computerized pieces that don’t have a teacher evaluation component to them.” 10

the communicator


Ann Arbor Public Schools chose the SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) and MyAccess tests as its common assessment piece. Both tests are entirely computerized; both taken on a computer and scored by a computer, with most students having no knowledge of the criteria in which the the tests produce their numerical score. The MyAccess uses an automated

The grading system, known as Intellimetric, begins with five to six hundred ‘pilot’ prompts, or essays written by students and hand-graded by teachers. Those grades are soon evaluated to determine what one through six score it would receive on the MyAccess, and by the time AAPS students respond to prompt, a computer is already trained to analyze essays on the fly, and evaluate their score.

Both tests are entirely computerized; both taken on a computer and scored by a computer, with most students having no knowledge of the criteria in which the the tests produce their numerical score. program to judge student responses based off of prompts it gives. “It looks at the language that you use specific to what the prompt is asking you,” said Reader. “So if you’re using words from the actual prompt question in your thesis statement, it looks for things like that. It also looks for transition words like ‘first, secondly’ and so on. It’s looking for your point, your main point.”

But the accuracy of a computerized grading system is debatable. “I think that kids know how to play with MyAccess,” said literature teacher Judith DeWoskin. “I did see an example of a paper where a student, who was a good writer, simply wrote the same sentence three or four times every paragraph and used very sophisticated words with lots of syllables, and the score was quite high. The paper was absolutely

unintelligible, but MyAccess gave it a good score.” Manipulating MyAccess to receive higher points is not uncommon among students. “I honestly just mess around with it and still get above proficient in everything,” said Daniel Chapman, a sophomore at Community High. “I’ve used longer words on purpose, that’s it, I mean writing about a topic using pretty long words will get you a good score.” “It’s pretty well agreed that a computer can’t objectively grade an essay,” argued senior Micheal Savage, “Maybe it can grade form and grammar and spelling and length and complication of the diction but it can’t decide whether an argument makes sense.” Test administrators in the district claim that the accuracy of the test corresponds with the level of seriousness in which the student applies to their essay. “I think MyAccess is accurate if the person taking it follows the rubric,” said Nat Powell, Media Center specialist and SRI/MyAccess advisor at CHS. “...I mean they’ve done thousands and thousands and thousands of these. Of course, like anything you can go in there manipulate it. You can try and outsmart it – it has been done. But on

photo ILLUSTRATION julia kortberg

a whole, I think it is pretty accurate.” “If you’re an excellent writer,” said Reader, “and you can make an essay interesting with a lot of pretty words and still make the point that you’re trying to make, [MyAccess] doesn’t have the capabilities to reward that type of writing. I think that MyAccess is good for struggling writers, I think that if you’re already a writer that has a good skill set, it’s probably not as effective.” While a computer’s ability to score essays on MyAccess is debated, the SRI is strictly a vocabulary test. Owned by the Scholastic publishing company, students must read short passages and answer questions regarding vocabulary, and are given a numerical “Lexile” score of their reading ability. A personalized list of recommended books, all published by Scholastic, is presented to students at the end of the test. But what goes on behind the screen is largely unknown to students. As of now, The SRI/MyAccess tests are used for nothing more than detecting students below a certain proficiency, measuring growth and trends, and assisting teachers in fine tuning their curriculum. “That is a noble end,” said Literature teacher Ken McGraw. “And I’m all for that, I’ll participate in that.”

But rumors of their growing importance in AAPS are beginning to become more and more concerning. “My fear is that my pay is going to be tied to these assessment scores,” explained McGraw. “ job, my pay, my job security could be hinging on instruments which are dubious, which I am very skeptical about.” In December of 2009, a flurry of education related bills were passed in the Michigan legislature in order to qualify for the Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top” stimulus money, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Source: Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals). While Michigan did not qualify for the stimulus, the new laws, including Senate Bill 981, will greatly impact the future of Michigan education. SB 981, among other new measures, requires student data to be a significant measure of teacher and administrator evaluations, as well as their merit pay. That means SRI/MyAccess, Ann Arbor’s chosen form of collecting student data, will directly affect teacher salaries, and their job security. When asked about the link between common assessment scores and teacher pay, Powell’s answer was ominous.

“Merit pay has not been tied to the results on the MyAccess. That’s something the state’s looking at but it hasn’t happened yet.” Using student data, derived from standardized test scores as a significant measure of teacher’s achievement may have very serious implications, especially a test that may have corporate gains to make such as the Scholastic owned SRI, argues McGraw. “I think the notion that we are going to base our education system, our compensation of teachers, our firing of teachers, whether or not to change programs like Community High on something made up by a company that has financial gain at stake, I think that’s absurd. And I think it verges on criminal, actually.” Regardless of what the future may hold for standardized tests role in the Ann Arbor education system, the SRI/MyAccess is only used as an evaluative tool; a way for teachers to assess growth and their learning curve. But it is the teachers themselves who are more than able to evaluate their own students without the help of an electronic grading system. “I think teachers can assess their students writing progress very effectively,” said DeWoskin. “We give a variety of writ-

ing assignments, and I trust us, I trust my department, I trust my colleagues. I don’t trust a computerized grading system that the [MyAccess] uses.” “We have to have some way of justifying what you’re doing at school,” said Reader, “which is the sad part of it, but I think that students learn better when they’re interested in what they’re learning about, quite frankly. I like it when you can integrate all the different pieces and sort of mesh the curriculum together throughout the day, instead of training for a test for example. But the bottom line is there are times where you have to. You just have to. And you have to perform on them.” “I’m hoping that the district has faith in the teachers,” said DeWoskin, “and the way teachers assess students, and doesn’t spend a lot of money and time and effort and training into sending us down the road of nothing but testing, and I’m a little worried about that now. I don’t think it’s just our district. I think its an issue at a national level as well.” C

feature the communicator 11

photo tanner depriest kyle aaronson


t’s a normal day in Craig Levin’s 7th block Analysis class – a homework check and questions, learning the new material and then working on the next day’s homework. Nothing special in the math world – other than the unveiling of a brand new piece of technology Levin has recently acquired. “I use an ELMO,” said Levin, commenting on the gadget he received midway through last year’s school year. “For lack of a better word, [it’s] an opaque overhead projector.” ELMOs are becoming more prevalent in education. ELMOs display images through a camera on a tripod similar to an old-fashioned overhead projector; whatever is front of the teacher is shown to the students. But because the ELMO projects opaque images and not just transparent slides, Levin is able to show his students the text book page he is looking at, the graphing calculator he is using and even themselves; the camera is set up on a tripod and it can be rotated and focused on the students. 12

the communicator feature

Levin rotates the camera and points it towards the students who are immediately displayed on the projection screen. Many smile and wave at themselves and fellow students. “The big advantage of the ELMO is that we can look directly at student work, handwriting and everything,” said Levin, “which I think in some ways is

“It would be great,” said Levin, “[if all teachers could have one] because I know Steve Coron would love to have access [so he could] put student art under the projector so they can do critiques.” Levin hopes to eventually share the school’s sole ELMO with other teachers so they can realize how beneficial it

You could ask two-thirds of the kids in this building to find a factual piece of information and they’d have the answer in less than five seconds. very superior to a chalkboard which is sometimes clumsy and sometimes kids are reluctant to go up to the board.” Despite the benefits the ELMO creates, it is difficult for each faculty member to own one; each ELMO can cost up to $760.

is, and then write a grant proposing that the school be allowed more high tech projectors. An ELMO isn’t the only piece of technology Levin uses to help his students; he also has his own website and provides graphing calculators to

students. Levin designs his website through iWeb, an Apple program, and publishes it using the server space. Many teachers, including FOS I and Physics teacher Courtney Kiley, use websites to help share information with their students – on these websites, teachers can post the class’ curriculum and assignments. “[My website] is just on web.mac. com,” said Kiley. “It’s just 100 [dollars] and it’s pretty easy.” Kiley pays for the website out of her own pocket, but many teachers choose to use the server space the school provides them. This can often lead to messy and poorly conveyed information. One of the benefits to creating your own website is that teachers receive their own domain names and they are not limited by what the school allows; school websites are generally more basic than the comprehensive websites teachers can create on their own. It is simple to post a link from the school’s website to the teacher’s.

Kiley is also interested in writing a grant in order for the school to have more technology to use in her classroom. Kiley’s Physics class studies acceleration and velocity, and Kiley hopes one day to have cameras that will be able to slow down an object’s motion so students can visually observe changes in velocity and acceleration. But technology in the schools is not just limited to academic success. Robbie Stapleton, a Personal Fitness and Health teacher at Community, hopes that she will receive more equipment for her to monitor students’ athletic performances. “In some high schools they have heart monitors hooked up to all their cardio machines,” said Stapleton, “and the teacher can see everybody’s heart rate.” Stapleton also wishes that all of her students had a GPS, a device commonly used to measure distance when running based off of satellites. Stapleton

that they need. On many websites, teachers will post the entire PowerPoint that they presented earlier in the day. Therefore, students can miss class but still gather the information they need to pass the next test. Stapleton is also concerned that it is sometimes a challenge for students to find the information that they need online because of the multiple websites. She states that if everything were under one website, it would be much easier for students. The district has not had time to put something like this together. Added technology has made it easier for students to check grades, but it has made it more difficult for teachers to keep track. Simple things such as attendance have changed from one step to three step processes over the years. Teachers now need to submit the attendance not only to the school but also to PowerSchool. It has also made papers and assignments easier for students. Stapleton

[Technology] has a place in school and it doesn’t have a place in school. believes it would be more efficient to tell students to go run four miles instead of having to lead the whole group in a four mile run; the latter is difficult because students run at different paces and Stapleton needs to show all the students the route. Stapleton actually digressed technologically in her health class; she noticed that students get tired of technology very quickly. Whenever she told her class they were going to be using PowerPoint, she heard a collective groan. Stapleton now uses overhead projections because she is able to take notes while giving the lecture, making it more stimulating for her students. Stapleton states that there are other things she desires before new technology, such as a bigger room, suspended wood floor, mats under the weight machines and better technology in terms of weight training, such as weight machines. Students notice that much of Stapleton’s weight room equipment is outdated and worn down. Stapleton notes that all of the technology used in today’s schools might make education a little bit too easy for students – while students should learn independence when they’re in high school, PowerSchool and online websites don’t help. A lack of technology may promote students to come to class more because that would be their only chance to obtain the information

says that her sons in college have more distractions, such as social networking sites and cell phones, but they are able to finish their papers faster. Instead of going to a library, students can now find all of the information that they need on their laptops. Community students have found the advanced technology beneficial. Many students note that their teachers use PowerPoint for presentations, and that websites are helpful when students forget assignments. Of course, if teachers don’t update their websites constantly, it makes it difficult for students to find assignments outside of school. “I think they can be really useful,” said senior Christine Hagan, “but it’s going to depend on how well the teacher can maintain the website because if the teacher is not actually keeping up with the website it is going to be very difficult.” “Sometimes [the websites] are a little unneeded but they can be helpful,” said senior Ben Gleichert. “They’re another resource you have available to you all the time.” Gleichert notes that although the websites are not professionally created, they do a good job displaying the information the students are searching for. He does note that it is sometimes difficult to find the sites because of the URLs. Of course, students aren’t only using

the technology the school provides to them, but they are using personal technology as well. Cell phones and iPods are constantly seen in the hallways and classrooms in local high schools. While some teachers are more lenient about cell phone policies, many teachers feel that they should not ever be seen in class. “[Technology] has a place in school and it doesn’t have a place in school,” said Kiley. “I don’t think kids should be texting in class, I don’t think kids should always have earphones in.” While Kiley believes that iPods and cell phones should be forbidden from the classroom unless under emergency situations, other teachers, such as Craig Levin, have found ways to incorporate students learning and personal technology. Last year, Levin discovered a website known as Wolfram Alpha, a search engine that has the mixed characteristics of a graphing calculator and Google. Wolfram Alpha allows students to plug in math equations and see other ways of looking at it. Levin allowed students to download the program for their iPods and use it in class and even on the math tests. “[Utilizing personal technology] is something I’ve been working on for years,” said Levin. “I know there are teachers who use texting voting during class, but I see that’s a way to embrace the fact that I recognize that everyone’s texting so let’s put it to our advantage.” Levin hopes that teachers can continue to incorporate personal technology with school technology because he sees this as an opportunity for students to learn more, but he does worry that students are using their brains less and relying on the tools they are given too much. “The goal of every teacher is to teach the students to think in different ways,” said Levin, “and we don’t want students to be bogged down by, ‘What is 36 divided by 4?’ but if understanding why 36 divided by 4 is 9 is important to what you’re doing, there has to be a way to bridge how and why things work with the what.” Levin realizes that teaching facts is “totally moot” now because it is so simple for students to access information by using the Internet. “You could ask two-thirds of the kids in this building to find a factual piece of information,” said Levin, “and they’d have the answer in less than five seconds.” Levin hopes teachers will be able to realize this and that students will continue to learn. C

the technology teachers use

ELMO The ELMO is a digital visual presenter which means it is basically a camera that projects the image below it to a computer or through a projector to a screen. Craig Levin is the only teacher with one.

Macbook Every teacher has MacBook computer from Ann Arbor Public Schools and they are used with PowerTeacher to record grades and attendence. Teachers also use their computers to show present documents and show videos.

sound system Usually only used to provide sound for movies or play music from iPods, the sound systems also have microphones for the teachers to use. These are rately used by teachers unless they have sore throats.

overhead Though old and low-tech the overhead is still used in many classrooms. Using mirrors, transparent documents and light, these function in a similar way to the ELMO as they also project documents to screens. illustrations paul smith feature the communicator 13

photoS david soth-kimmel

community rocks the vote in a new civics project, chs students get their chance to vote julia devarti


his year, Community High School Civics students are getting a new kind of lesson. They have all been assigned an interactive project on the 2010 Michigan gubernatorial race, involving research on a specific candidate’s campaign, as well as a chance to participate approximately in a nationwide mock election for high 43% of school students. Civics teacher Cheryl registered Grace described it as a project whose voters cast purpose “is to engage students in the ballots in issues relating to the 2010 midterm washtenaw elections.” county In each civics class, students were put into groups and randomly assigned a candidate running for Michigan governor. Each person was then required to research their candidate’s views on major issues in Michigan politics before collaborating with their group to make

a poster and skit expressing their key points. “This project forced students to really look at a variety of sources and form their own opinions about the candidate without mindlessly going with one party or another,” said Jason McKnight, CHS civics teacher. To end the project, all civic classes met at a mock rally to perform their skits. They then hung the posters on the second floor of CHS with the hope that students not in a civics class would make use of them to learn more about this year’s midterm elections. “The University of Virginia Institute for Public Politics Project [is] running, as they always do, a nationwide student mock election online. Our students at Community will have the opportunity to vote in that, so part of the project is to make posters to educate students

about the governor’s race issues,” said Grace. “We’re making posters around Community, so hopefully [people] will actually look at them,” agreed civics student Abby Lauer. This will be the first time the civics classes are doing this project. “[Jason and I] both went to a conference together at the end of September about the Michigan elections in particular, and so we started talking about it then,” said Grace. “[We] hoped this would be a really interesting and engaging way to get our students interested in the election.” Students seem to be enjoying the assignment. “I really like it. I’m learning so much about all the different candidates and parties,” said Lauer. Civics student Fernando Rojo agreed, “It’s a really fun way to get involved with the election. I’m learning things I

never knew before.” Grace added, “I think [students] are pretty excited about it. They seem to be following independently, and some of them are even taking the opportunity to go and do more research without me even asking them to do that.” As election day approaches, all Community students will get a chance to vote in the mock election. “I’m really curious to see how our votes compare with the actual winner,” said Lauer. “It’s really interesting, so everybody should vote.” McKnight concluded, “When the time comes for them to be in the voting booth, it’s important for [students] to make informed decisions for themselves based on multiple sources.” C


“I voted for Stacy Mathia because I campaigned for her, but that’s pretty much the equivalent of abstaining because she’s not going to win and I didn’t want to vote for any of the major parties.”

“I would vote for Rick Snyder because I wrote a rap about him. He’s a tough nerd.” -Colleen O’Brien

“I voted for Stacy Mathia, because the other candidates don’t understand the tenth amendment, they don’t understand the difference between federal powers and state powers.” -Dylan Croasdill

-Isaac Fink 14

the communicator


“I picked the green team, because it said ‘The Green Team’, and I like the color green.” -Jason Talley

one student, two schools

photo eli sugerman

many chs students find themselves splitting their school days between multiple schools acer xu


ne of the major features of the Ann Arbor Public Schools is split enrollment. Although this is one of the things that is often used to advertise Community High School to prospective students, many students utilize this for music or world language classes only. Split enrollment is designed to allow students to take classes at the big schools that they cannot take at CHS. “Of course, music and world language classes are a big draw for split enrollment. But there are also the AP/AC classes, and career and technical education classes,” said Boshoven. “A lot of students at Community are involved in those classes, so [split enrolling] gives students more options for the classes they take.” Another major reason students split enroll is for athletics. Aidan Tank, who split enrolls to Huron for 5th and 6th

hour and plays soccer and golf, said “I play a sport, and it’s just an easy transfer from class to my sports. The shuttle buses at the end of the day are kind of a hassle.” CHS Junior Alec Bennett has yet another reason for split enrolling. “I wanted to see what it was like going to Huron, and I have a lot of friends at Huron, and it was nice to be in classes with them,” he said. “Also, I live right next to Huron, so it’s easier to go home after school.” But some students do split enroll purely for the academic challenge. “I really, really like those particular subjects, and I wanted something extra intensive, which Community doesn’t offer,” said Nikila Lakshmanan, who takes AP Biology and AP Government at Huron. However, With these extra classes comes a much larger workload. Lakshmanan said, “Although I don’t think

the material taught at Huron is any harder, I think the way they present it puts more pressure on the student,” Lakshmanan said. “Also, I think that its just how the class is structured, how the tests are presented, the different emphasis on certain things, like how points are awarded, that makes you more stressed out.” Bennett, who takes British Literature and Team Sports, adds on to this, saying “There’s a lot more work in my Huron classes. Last year, when I took World Lit, I would be expected to read around 20-30 pages every two nights. At Huron, I’m expected to read around 3 chapters a night, which is maybe up to 50 pages sometimes, and maybe even more.” But Bennett also sees things at Community that are harder than Huron. “I haven’t written as many essays [in British Literature] as I did for World Lit, so

that kind of balances out.” But not everyone agrees that the classes they split enroll to are hard. “My classes are pretty easy. I think that my hardest class is probably math, which is at Community,” said CHS junior, Tommaso Helwig, who also takes British Literature and Team Sports. Not everyone agrees that split enrolling is a good idea. Dylan Summers, a Pioneer sophomore who split enrolls at Community, said, “I think split enrolling from Community is dumb. If you really want to split enroll, you should go to the other schools, and split enroll to here. That way people who really want to go to Community full time can get in.” But there is one thing that all four students agree on. As Bennet said, “I definitely think split enrolling is worth it. I get to see the atmosphere of a bigger school, and it’s also a lot of fun.” C

pioneer has the most split enrolled students from community

Only Four chs students split enroll to skyline

6.0% CHS students who split enroll and do not take a music or world language class


infographic eli sugerman

83.4% CHS Students who do not split enroll for any classes

CHS students who split enroll and only take world language or music classes feature the communicator 15

emma machcinski & katie o’brien


ood tastes better with a story,” said Jeff Tenza. Tenza means that knowing everything that went into producing the food – the rain, the sun, the soil, the care, the commitment – makes the food more enjoyable to eat. Tenza is an apprentice at the Community Farm of Ann Arbor and a co-host of Arborama, a radio talk show on WCBN 88.3 FM that focuses on environmental concerns. “Your health and your ability to work and your community start with what you eat,” Tenza said. Tenza is not an exception to the rest of society. Many other young people are becoming conscious about where their food comes from and how the process of growing it relates to their community as a whole.

local farming Vliet said. Tenza’s journey to ending up at the farm came as somewhat of a surprise as well. “I wanted healthy but easy-toaccess food,” said Tenza. He discovered the Community Farm of Ann Arbor through a fellow alum of Huron High School, who was starting a business of turning crop shares into meals. The meals made it easy for Tenza to receive farm fresh food. Learning about Community Farm of Ann Arbor, it was a “no brainer at that point”, said Tenza, who began volunteering at the farm. He left his job as an electrical engineer working on solar cells and was “just drawn to the farm.” Students in high school are getting on the local farming bandwagon as well. Mishka Repaska, a sophomore at

More people from our generation aren’t going into traditional jobs but into farming. “More people from our generation aren’t going into traditional jobs but into farming,” said Tenza. This is made clear looking at those who work on the local farms of Ann Arbor. “I came totally by accident,” said Kristen Van Vliet of how she got to be at Community Farm of Ann Arbor, where she has worked as an apprentice for seven years now. “[I was] headed in the way of sustainable living. I needed a job.” “I’d never done physical hard work of my own volition,” Van Vliet said. Regardless of her lack of experience, Van Vliet was immediately attracted to the vibe on the farm. “I saw all these folks doing hard work so joyfully,” Van 16

the communicator center spread

Community High School, is currently taking part in the Organic Farming CR offered by Tantre Farms. “I signed up for it . . . because I’m actually super, super interested in anything to do with food,” said Repaska. Both Tantre and Community Farm of Ann Arbor are part of the Community Supported Agriculture model of farming. This means they produce a certain number of crop shares—a fraction of their crops—a year which the public can purchase. The CSA model allows the community to participate in the process of growing their food. “They don’t take time to get to know each pepper plant,” said Van Vliet about conventional farms. With CSA it

is a more personal connection that the consumer is able to have to their food, and an awareness of how what they eat gets from farm to plate. The connection is something Repaska has observed during her time with the farming CR. “We go to the farmers’ market, and then the marketing bit of that is nice . . . the interaction between the actual people who grow your food and the people that buy it.” “You get to see the whole process. I get to help it grow and watch it until I get to eat it,” said Ona Schneider, a summer apprentice from the Community Farm of Ann Arbor. Schneider worked on the farm over the summer after graduating high school in order to have a job outdoors. Schneider said the job gave her a “deeper level of appreciation” for the food she was able to help produce and eventually eat. For these young farmers, sustainability—not instant gratification—is key. “The easy way is most likely not a healthy way,” said Schneider. Tenza says sustainability is “satisfying our needs without harming future generations.”C

Local Farms with CSA Shares Tantre Farm 734-475-4323 Community Farm of Ann Arbor 734-433-0261 Frog Holler 515-592-8017 Back Forty Acres 517-522-6976 Beautiful Earth Family Farm 734-649-5918

illustrations colleen o’brien photoS emma machcinski


ven before you get to Selma café, you know it is going to be a unique experience. It is not located on a street downtown, but rather in a neighborhood. Being in someone’s house explains why Selma has such limited hours: breakfast is served exclusively Friday mornings from 6:30-10:00 AM. Selma stands for the Soule-EberwhiteLiberty-Madison Affiliation. Sunseed Farms can be found some weeks in the driveway, selling food and distributing to shareholders. Sunseed is just one of many local farms that provide ingredients for Selma breakfasts. An impressive accumulation of name tags cover the blue walls of the waiting/laundry room. Lisa Gottlieb, who hosts Selma along with Jeff McCabe, greets all who enter with a smile. The tone of a warm, inclusive environment is already set. As people enter, they are seated at one of a few large tables that take up all available space in the kitchen and dining room. The tables are crowded with friends and strangers sitting next to one other like one big family. People talk about everything from owning crop shares to bragging about their nephews. Everyone is bonded by their love of food, more specifically food grown locally and sustainably. The menu changes week to week, along with the chefs. The introduction of different chefs each week facilitates the unique energy that radiates from Selma’s kitchen. There are no orders of “the usual”, but rather continual opportunity to experience something new. The one guarantee is that customers can always find at least one vegetarian

review and vegan option. The chefs can be seen hard at work turning out orders– seating is even available in the kitchen, providing a front row view. However crucial and entertaining the chefs may be, they are not the sole contributor to Selma’s success. The prep work for the meals starts Thursday nights with volunteers coming to the house to help. This whole production comes together into delicious meals such as squash pancakes with honey-pear compote and a side of local bacon or a vegan kale quiche all served with local Roos Roast coffee or local teas. With the suggested donation of $1215 money goes to pay for the food, and the remaining balance is donated to help build hoop-houses on local farms. The hoop-houses are structures that allow for food production throughout the winter, resulting in more profit and more food production for the farms. All in all, Selma cafe provides a deep local experience, bringing together local farms and citizens of Ann Arbor. C

TOP: Name tags left behind from previous visitors of Selma. BOTTOM LEFT: Vegan quiche and applesauce. BOTTOM RIGHT: Squash pancakes and bacon.

center spread

the communicator 17

the exchange life german Exchange student Lena knaebe comes to America abby kleinheksel illustration brienne o’donnell


his year, senior Lena Knaebe fulfills her dream as she ventures into a new country, away from her hometown, Dortmund, in Nordrhein Westalen, Germany. Hosted by the Nease family, Knaebe lives as an exchange student in Ann Arbor through a program called Youth for Understanding. Along with adjusting to Community High, she also adapts to the American culture as she continues her year abroad. Knaebe has been thinking about this year since she was 11 years old. She began learning English in fifth grade. Though she was very young, she was still incredibly interested in experiencing and understanding a new culture. When she was 15, she began to attend interviews as they searched for the perfect family to host her. It was a very extensive process. “We were prepared with this orientation camp, and my parents talked about ways to communicate. It was a long way, but now I’m here,” said Knaebe. Despite all the preparation, cultural differences have still come as somewhat of a shock, “It’s strange for me because people I’ve never seen before say, ‘Hey, how are you?’ and I’m like Oh! I forgot your name… oh, I don’t know you. They’re just nice, that’s American. This

18 the communicator school news

is a little bit difficult for me to see if a person really actually likes me or are friendly like everyone,” said Knaebe. She was told before arriving that some things in the U.S. could mean something completely different in Germany and vise-versa. Although the location of Ann Arbor was chosen by the exchange program, Knaebe is very glad that this city was chosen for her, “It’s really perfect. Ann Arbor is, I think, not typical America. It is more a student city, and everyone is different and younger. The city is younger,” said Knaebe. She enjoys the spirit and the open-mindedness of the city. Knaebe’s experience so far has been quite different to the stereotypical American lifestyle, “That’s about it, this picture of the fat American person… like the Simpsons. Everyone thinks that Americans are exactly like the Simpsons. I guess everyone just laughs and thinks that this must be American,” says Knaebe. Everything is very different than what she expected, especially living in Ann Arbor. Besides adjusting to the city, Knaebe also adapts to Community and the American school system. She is relieved to have a small atmosphere, as she has heard many stories of exchange

students getting lost in the crowds at bigger high schools. The amount of personal attention has benefited her greatly, “They are so open-minded and the teachers want me to be good here in America.” Along with the school atmosphere, the education and curriculum are also quite different to that of German schools. In Germany, there is a much heavier focus on participation in classes, rather than paperwork. “It’s just more talking, and I’m more the talking person, so this is what I really miss, but I think that if you’re shy, it doesn’t matter here because you just have to turn in your work,” said Knaebe. She thinks stimulating discussions is more effective than writing out what we learn. Knaebe thinks this has been a wonderful learning experience so far and hopes travel to other countries and to different parts of the United States. She would like to continue to adapt to different cultures and to see new places and people. “It’s just so interesting to gain experience and to see other cultures, and maybe to understand myself and my culture in Germany a little bit more.” C

a look down under

photoS liz mccubbrey

paul smith


he bold, stenciled letters read: “BE SURE INTERIOR DOORS OF PLENTOM ARE CLOSED AT ALL TIMES”. While door warning signs can usually be safely ignored, disregard of these notes may lead to grotesque results. Among the rusty labyrinths of pipes and eerie gauges, framed by the dirty cement floor and ceiling fading into blackness, these doors are a testament to the complex and often spooky mechanizations that explain how Community High School functions. These doors lay behind the well-kept secret of what the basement of CHS really is like. Only two staff members in Community High School have keys to the basement. Even Kevin Davis, notorious for being seemingly everywhere in the building at once, goes down the staircase only about twice a year. Many past students have speculated about the boiler room, a small, tucked-away door right by the boys locker room, and a few have even caught glimpses of the staircase leading to the most off-limits area of Community High. The descent begins by traversing down a small flight of stairs that seem

the entrance to hell. At the bottom, the visitor is struck by the view of a gatedoff endlessly spinning band, at first glance resembling a giant fan, in which the giant spinning circle seems to mesmerize and inspire fear as it continues speedily humming away. To the left is the short dark staircase to the wind tunnels. No student is allowed in the wind tunnels, which stretch under almost the whole school. When asked about the wind tunnels, Dean Jen replied, “It is really scary… they’re very tall and they are very wide, but all you hear is the sound of wind rushing. I would be terrified to be down there by myself.” Progressing further past the gated belt, the twisted pipes, confusing gauges, and strange electronic mechanisms come into view. That every valve has its own unique and necessary function must be taken for granted, because simplicity does not come to mind while gazing upon these pipes. That the behemoth of a machine on the left is not about to explode must be blindly believed, because its designs and innermost workings are inexplicable to those not well-versed in the workings of such mechanisms. Only the head custodian and Dean Jen have keys to these cryptic

rooms, and only the janitors and Dean Jen can work these complex and intricate machines. Theories abound as to why no student is allowed onto the courtyard, why it is gated and graveled off. Were students to walk out on this, what is actually a thin platform of sheet metal, they would doubtlessly plunge into the boiler room, to the tall blue boilers and the cold concrete floor. They stand hulking in the center of this large bare space, the only occupant of which seems to be the loud puttering like that of a motorboat from another confusing machine in the corner. This is only notable in its absence, when it pops into silence or begins hissing frighteningly again. The eerie silence emphasizes the quiet and loneliness of the room. In one corner, close by the claustrophobic concrete enclosed rooms, a dank and dark twisting staircase leads into the blackness. After inspecting the shiny, blue, SMITH brand boilers, their loud hissings seem to usher guests out of the room. There is much more yet to be uncovered in the rooms below Community. Dean Jen admitted to having heard of ghosts or spirits who exist in the boiler

area, and even one existing in room 307, the room of Tod Tharp. The wind tunnels have still not been traversed by any Community student, and the radiator room is entirely off-limits as well. What is behind those doors is only for students to imagine, those rooms in which only the word of certain school officials assures us that all is well inside. The boiler room and the main room of the basement remain a mystery, even to those who have completed the journey through them. Their dusty, still air lingers in the lungs like a scent reminisced, and the dust and dirt covering old unused machinery is an image infused upon the retinas. Yet there seems to be something more to the room. The callbox by the security system, in case of emergency, begs the question of what exactly would necessitate a call from the basement. Even the Dean seems hesitant to enter the tunnels, and replied to queries about stories with “but you know... when you hear the clanking of the pipes and you hear the whistling of the wind in the tunnels, I suspect the wind might be carrying some very important messages for the students of Community High.” C

The radiator room is so hot when it’s on that it is off-limits to reporters

feature the communicator 19

in a rocktopus’s garden Alex Johnson, director of the Ann Arbor music Center, recounts his musical journey erez levin photoS jordan siden


ver since he was but a young Ann Arbor boy of four, Alex Johnson has been compelled toward music. Every day, he would take out his dad’s Beatles records, put them on the record player, and jump all around the room, basking in the sweet sounds of rock and roll. Today, thirty-six years later, he owns and teaches at the Ann Arbor Music Center, a haven for music education. The programs range from private lessons in guitar, bass, drums, voice, piano and keyboard, saxophone, harmonica, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and ukulele, to full workshops in the art of being in a rock band, hence the Music Center’s second name: Rock Band School. Johnson commenced his guitar-playing journey at age nine. “I bought a really crappy guitar at a neighbor’s garage sale for ten dollars, and I started my guitar lessons, on my guitar that was not…fit to be played. My first guitar teacher was a great guy, though like a lot of guitar teachers, didn’t really have a lesson plan or goal set in mind… I learned a few songs, and I learned a few chords, and I learned what a bar-chord was, and what a blues scale was and I started messing around on the guitar and writing songs. This was around the time of the hostage crisis in Iran, which was during Jimmy Carter’s administration, and I wrote a protest song about it. I was like ten, not understanding any of the politics I wrote about, and that was the beginning of my career.” He continued into the story behind his very first musical project: “I put together a band with the neighborhood kids, one of whom claimed to be a drummer, and he had a snare

20 the communicator feature

drum. Two of them were bass players, brothers from across the street, and I came up with this clever arrangement, when one side of the room would play chords going up, and the other side would play chords going down. And so, the progression would start on G major on one side, B major on the other, and they would meet in the middle on A major, and then criss-cross, where the side going up would end on B major and the other side on G major, and it was really a hideous cacophony. “After spending middle school just playing the middles of songs, we didn’t do the intros, outros, or have a singer, so we just played the ‘guitar solo’ part of the song,” he laughed. “By then we had a drummer who had a whole drumset, and only one bass player now, one of the two, in fact, that we’d started with. But, as I was going into ninth grade at Community High, this underground punk thing was happening, in the 80s, really taking the attention of all the kids. So we’d have half the band saying ‘We wanna play hardcore thrash,’ and the other half saying ‘We wanna be The Rolling Stones.’ So, two of us went one way, two of us went the other. And I continued to experiment, and my chord voicings got more sophisticated and my structure of verse and chorus got more clearly defined. Although I became a more sophisticated songwriter, I still didn’t really know what I was doing. I might play some crazy chord voicing and I knew that it was some kind of E chord, cause it started on E, but I didn’t know what kind.” After going through more guitar teachers, hoping for some musical enrichment (but rather finding that most

guitar teachers had no idea of how to fill in the gaps for him, a fourteen year old who could move his fingers around the fretboard, but had no systems, no language), he continued to search for the music theory he so drastically needed. He found it at Community High School. “Community High used to have a very small semblance of a choir. We had an eleven-person choir [directed by Betsy King]. Betsy King taught me music theory, taught me how chords were made, we were doing this with our voice. She would talk about scales, and how the notes came from scales, I finally understood it! I saw the light!” He learned the theory linearly as on a piano keyboard, in his 1983 Community High choir class, then applied it to the guitar. “It wasn’t until after high school, I was eighteen years old, I took the jazz guitar class at Washtenaw Community College with John Lawrence, and he’s still there, since twenty two years ago.” he said. “Not only did he give me the confidence to dig deeper into the guitar and insight into chord voicings, a better understanding of the mechanics of jazz, which is really important to any guitarist’s big picture; I realized that an understanding of at least the basics of jazz was fundamental to a deeper understanding of the fretboard of the guitar and more advanced chord systems, more advanced harmony, melody. So, while that didn’t lead me to jazz studies specifically, it opened my mind to a lot of things. It allowed me to gel together the information that I had… John Lawrence was such an inspirational teacher, he inspired me to teach.” Johnson then recalled the day he

foot room in the Technology Center that once stood where the YMCA now stands. He set up shop to teach guitar and bass in that room with his childhood friend, Dave McWilliam, who set up a drum kit and taught drums. They kept no hours, and they had one landline phone, the number of which has remained the same since day one. They took out an ad in the yellow pages, and that, coupled with a bit of word of mouth, gave him a full schedule, working all day, every day. “I hadn’t made a business yet, I had made a job for myself.” Johnson said. He started holding rock band workshops with his students, “which was what I really wanted to do,” he said. “I would get a group of my students together, and one of their drummer friends, and hold these rock band workshops. It was pretty cool, teaching kids how to play together in bands. It really answered a bunch of their questions, helped them to move forward as musicians.” The program grew, and he rented the room next door, in the coming months, the room next to that. He named his enterprise the Ann Arbor Music Center “because it sounded big, established, like it had been around since The Gandy Dancer, as old as the university,” he said. It soon raised problems, such as people calling, asking for trumpet valve oil or wanting to buy concert tickets. “I would have to say ‘We don’t sell those, but do you need any guitar lessons?’ So maybe I could have chosen more wisely, but at least the phone was ringing.” He marked the day that his band program became official, the day his new business became the Rock Band

School. “One day the phone rang, and I picked it up,” he said, “ and it was a woman saying ‘I have a twelve year old son looking for bass lessons. What do you offer?’ I said ‘Well, our students take two lessons a week, one is a private instrumental lesson, and the other is a rock band class, where they learn to apply the skills they learn in private lessons and learn how to rehearse, how to work with people.’ And she replied ‘That’s perfect, that’s just what my son needs, sign me up.’ “Anyways, someone at the Ann Arbor News caught wind of what I was doing and asked to write an article on what I was doing – Ann Arbor Music Center, Rock Band School. So this very talented writer wrote a page and a half in the Ann Arbor News in August of 2003. That article was such a hot property, and the phone rang and rang and rang.” The program grew more, and Johnson then realized that “this little improv bit I did on the phone had taken on a life of its own, and this is what I’m going to be doing.” The program outgrew the three rooms they had, and moved into an old house on South Main St, and was there for five years. Alex and his partner Karen King (who runs the entire business side of the program) have now moved into what was once a music store many years ago on Ashley St., with many more instructors on staff, and nearly five- hundred students. The future is bright for the Ann Arbor Music Center and its students. C

This page TOP LEFT The Ann Arbor Music Center banner ABOVE Alex teaching guitar to one of his students BOTTOM LEFT Alex in front of the Ann Abror Music Center BELOW A teenage Alex Johnson plays guitar in front of Community High School in 1983 LEFT page TOP LEFT Alex in front of the Ann Arbor Music Center BOTTOM LEFT Two of Alex’s guitars: an Agile Les Paul and a Fender Stratocaster BOTTOM RIGHT Alex playing guitar in front of the Ann Arbor Music Center

photo courtesy of alex johnson

officially became a teacher. “I was in a guitar store, playing a guitar, trying out a guitar, and the manager of the store came up to me and said ‘Hey, do you teach?’ And I was opening my mouth to say no, when my friend Lee said ‘Yes, he does, he’s an excellent teacher, and he’s looking for a job!’ My friend Lee takes great pride that he butted in on that conversation, because I have been teaching ever since.” He soon became the most popular teacher at that guitar store, filling sixty slots on his schedule. “[Yet] as I looked around, few of the teachers working there really had a sense of how to teach guitar. The typical lesson scenario was: 1.) Student arrives to lesson. 2.) Guy in room says ‘Hey, dude, what do you wanna learn?’ 3.) Student says ‘I wanna learn this song.’ 4.) Guy in room proceeds to teach song with no enrichment, no teaching of scale, or key or chord progression, no study of technique at all. “So after four years of teaching at a guitar store with no standards, no guidance, and no unified program, I decided to strike out on my own.” He started to teach guitar to a few students out of his apartment, and worked a day job in sales at a computer company, where he learned a great deal about owning a small business. But when the dot-com bubble burst he thought, “What am I going to do? My clients are all going out of business. I know, I’m gonna teach guitar again, but this time, I’m gonna do it right.” With him, he had two folding chairs, a music stand, an amplifier, and a guitar. He rented out an eleven-by-eleven

21 the communicator feature


photo katie o’brien


Genre Ska, Punk, Rock and Jazz Formation Space Based Adventure formed during the summer of 2008, but due to members graduating only half of the current lineup was in the original group. From Ann Arbor Instrumentation Trombone, trumpet, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, guitar, bass, drums and three vocals Current Status On Wednesday, October 13, Space Based Adventure played a live broadcast in the WCBN studio for an hour and a half. What’s Next? More touring and songwriting Quote ”[Space Based Adventure] is just a way to get together with a bunch of friends and have a bunch of fun.”

Genre Rap Formation Gameboi started rapping six years ago, just as a hobby with his friends. His rap career progressed and it eventually became a large part of his life. From Saline Instrumentation Vocals and beats Current Status Gameboi recently released his debut album, “The Posterchild,” and presently studio produces for local artists. What’s next? He has a new single coming out over Thanksgiving Weekend and a new project coming out next year. Quote “Music is a way for me to escape from reality – it takes me to a whole new universe.”

SPACE CADET Genre Rock Formation Space Cadet has been together for about a year since the group snowballed together through a series of jam sessions. The band’s first performance was at the FutureStars competition. From Ann Arbor Quote “Our music is music that you wish you were listening to when you lost your virginity.”

Instrumentation Two guitars, keys, bass, drums and two vocals Current Status With two members in college, so until they return during winter break the remaining members will work on refining material and writing songs. What’s next? They plan to record an EP. Their next show is at the B-Side on November 12, and after that they plan to play more shows with increased frequency.

Genre Thrash, Hard Rock and 80’s Metal Formation Kro-Magnon officially started in February of 2009; the lineup solidified in July of that year. From Canton Instrumentation Guitar, vocals, bass and drums Current Status Kro-Magnon has recently opened shows for The Misfits and Ratt. What’s next? They will record an EP and attempt to be signed to a record label. Quote “[Kro-Magnon] is pretty much what we want to be doing for the rest of our lives, but one can only dream, right?”

photoS courtesy of artists 22 the communicator arts and entertainment




ryan shea

Artist Profile

VAC benefits youth art scene THE NEUTRAL ZONE’S VISUAL ARTS COUNCIL HELPS PROMOTE STUDENT ART olivia kincaid & justine samaha


ANGENT CHOP!” The sound of these words echo in the Neutral Zone art room as Pioneer junior Cassidy Fowler tries to retain order at a Neutral Zone Visual Arts Council meeting. VAC is a teen-run art council at the Neutral Zone that meets every Wednesday at 4:00 pm. It is a place for teens of all artistic ability to openly express themselves through art. VAC gives students the opportunity to be responsible for putting together art exhibitions, help other VAC members with their art through critiques and display their art in museums. “[VAC] has given me a chance to showcase my art through the art shows and made me want to continue to pursue my passion for visual, performance [and] literary arts,” said Fowler. Fowler believes that VAC will help her with future planning in her own life, and help her build confidence in her own art. It has been difficult to organize members and hold their attention, since VAC has grown exponentially. “[This year] we decided to grow up a little and

work harder on paying attention,” said Fowler. Thanks to the meetings, VAC has now established a new system in which the group is led by co-facilitators. The co-facilitators, who are interchanged every so often, make sure that everything on the agenda is accomplished and everyone stays on track.

and Ohio art colleges will be present to review student artwork. According to Stone, the finished products of these art shows are amazing, but it takes a ton of work to get them that way. “It’s a complex process with many components,” said Stone. “If I had to condense [everything that

“[VAC] has given me a chance to showcase my art and made me want to continue to pursue my passion for visual, performance [and] literary arts.” VAC’s newest art show, which is on November 19, is titled Dreams: A Stumble into Your Subconscious. “The show will have all kinds of artistic media focusing on dreams,” said Trevor Stone, head of the Neutral Zone’s art department, “[ideas like] surrealism, dreamlike states, hidden thoughts, fantasy worlds, etc.” Stone added that their shows are usually large, so recruiters from Michigan, Illinois,

needs to be done] into chapters, [they] would be theme design, promotion techniques, space design, curating, lighting, booking performances, hosting etiquette and cooperative collaboration.” Along with putting on shows, students go on field trips and have professional artists come in and teach techniques to better student art. “[By being in VAC] I get the experience of working with other [artists] and leadership oppor-

tunities,” said Maia Akiva, a senior at Greenhills High School and VAC member. “VAC makes me more inspired to create my own work.” When first joining VAC, Akiva expected it to be a group of like-minded, artistic people, “and it is,” she said, but she also wishes VAC would do more to create a different variety of students in the group. “I believe like there should be more diversity. I mean most of the people in the group are from either Community High School or Greenhills; more diversity of schools would be really good.” Even though VAC has had its problems with organizing a large group of people, Stone thinks that VAC’s growing size is a good thing. “VAC has changed in size, not in spirit,” said Stone. “We started at three teens and now we average around 16 [teens] per meeting. We can accomplish projects at a whole new scale if VAC really puts its back into it.” C

VAC’s newest art show, Dreams: A stumble into your subconscious, debuts November 19

Originally just 3 members, VAC has expanded to average 16 teens per meeting

photo emma machinski

Movie review

reel good

oriol burgos-tsoffar

“The Social Network” I Guess I “Liked” this movie


s it ironic that while writing this review of “The Social Network,” I spent a good deal of time on Facebook? “The Social Network” is a highly fictionalized account of the founding of the aforementioned site by Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher. The movie begins just before Facebook does, with Mark and his girlfriend arguing and breaking up. This leads Mark to return to his Harvard dorm room, go on a drunk blog-

ging spree and create a site that allows students to rate female students on a basis of “hotness.” The site gets shut down within a few hours, but these hours are more than enough to win the interest of several upperclassmen, who ask Mark to build them a social networking website. Although the first half-hour sets the precedent for most of the movie’s explicit material, the film still gets more shocking in the apparent moral slippage of the characters. David Fincher has succeeded in making a film about IT nerds into an exhilarating thrill ride, but this is to be expected. Fincher, whose previous works include “Alien 3,” “Se7en,” and “Fight Club,” appears to be taking his films in an entirely new direction as of late. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” further exemplifies this. Fincher appears to have found a niche in the genre of mildly epic dramas. Although his earlier films were enjoyable, these are equally good, if not better, and infinitely more accessible, and direct-

ing movies like “Se7en” is not the best way to grab Academy Awards. Fincher’s charged, kinetic style of directing still shows, and is, in my opinion, better utilized when applied to this more relaxed story. The direction is so energetic that at times it alone drives the movie, making it even more addictive than the website whose creation it chronicles. This is especially visible during the party sequences. Roughly a quarter of the film can be summed up as a more artful extension of Asher Roth’s “I Love College” music video, consisting of rowdy depictions of college debauchery. This might be due to my senior-year college anxiety, but no other medium has made me wish so much that I was qualified for Harvard (and to a lesser extent, Stanford). The acting was surprisingly good, too. I am glad directors are finally starting to recognize that Jesse Eisenberg is not Michael Cera, and casting him as such. Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg with dry wit and an emotional detach-

ment typical to people with Asperger syndrome. Eisenberg was asked not to meet the real Zuckerberg, and thus based his acting on whatever sociallychallenged techies he himself knew (again, ironic; look at the title). The performance can come off as being a little cliché at times, but it is nevertheless interesting to see that Mark gets the most emotional when his website is at risk. Andrew Garfield, on the other hand, is positively electrifying as Eduardo Saverin, Facebook’s co-founder whom Mark swindles out of several million dollars. Garfield is certain to be the new crush object for hundreds of thousands of deluded teens. His performance is completely magnetic; he exudes charisma. Although it is not necessarily completely factual, “The Social Network” is an undoubtedly worthwhile film. Peter Travers calls it the best movie of the year. I unhesitatingly agree. C


arts and entertainment the communicator 23

SPORTS Spencer vs.


fter my disastrous start to the season, my spirits were pretty low. My self-confidence started to tank and my ego was on life support. That is when I was hit with a revelation and I realized why I was losing. I don’t have a winner’s mentality. A winner’s mentality is that x-factor that most athletes have. It drives the athlete to never accept a loss, to have a win-or-nothing mind set. After learning that Dunham’s doesn’t carry winner’s mentality, I pledged to develop my own. For my second challenge of the year I would be taking on golf phenom Rob Aldrich. Rob began golfing at a very young age. When he was five years old his dad would take him out to the driving range and teach him how to play. Rob plays Varsity golf at Huron High School and has several schools recruiting him including Centre College in Kentucky. I must admit I was not looking forward to playing a true prodigy of the game of golf. When I play golf, sometimes my club goes farther than my ball, sometimes I have to take five or six mulligans, and sometimes I am escorted off the course. Golf courses are places of tradition and beauty, so apparently it is frowned upon to take off your shirt after you sink a putt. Rob and I met at the scenic Huron Hills golf course. It was a majestic

evening, the sun was starting to drop below the trees and the acres of green fairways stretched out before us. At tee off, Rob crushed his drive a good 250 yards. Five minutes into our outing I was given my first warning by the course manager. Just off the fairway I had swung with my 5-iron to see that my ball had gone about two feet. My temper, always so close to the breaking point when on a golf course, snapped as I started slamming my club into the ground. This is also not proper golf etiquette, as I shortly learned. Our second hole Rob played beautifully as he drove the fairway, chipped onto the green, and finished with a nice, clean par putt. I spent most of my time in the sand. Getting out of sand traps is much harder than it looks. The first couple times I missed the ball completely. I finally got onto the green and five putted from there. I tried to keep the score close, but Rob’s power combined with his fluid stroke left me in the dust. Every hole Rob was on the green in two shots where as I, on the other hand, often had to take scenic walks through the woods to find my ball. For the six holes we played, Rob shot a 23 and I shot a solid 41. There were not many positives to take away from this matchup. An 0 and 2 start is tough, but before the season is over, I still guarantee a win. C

Photos jordan siden

spencer macdonald

24 the communicator sports


the work pays off Two U of M graduates Reminisce on college sports


our-year-olds bunch up as they all race to chase one ball at a Saturday morning soccer game. Fourth graders run their timed mile, out of breath, striving for a seven-minute time. Two boys leap for the basketball during the middle school city championship game. High school student athletes condition in the weight room during preseason, working to earn a spot on their respective varsity teams. In all these stages of athletic development, kids (and probably their parents, too), imagine themselves playing for their hometown team, the Michigan Wolverines. For many, playing in the Michigan stadium is only a dream. But for Katie Morris, a 2002 Pioneer High School graduate and varsity field hockey player, this dream became a reality. Morris was recruited by the University of Michigan to play collegiate field hockey. After the University red-shirted Morris her freshman year, she went on to play three years as a significant contributor to the team. Some athletes are determined to play sports in college from a very young age. This was the case for Eddie Umphrey. Umphrey grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a competitive gymnast. He was already being recruited by several other Big Ten schools when University of Michigan approached him.“I watched a video showing the success Michigan strives for academically as well as athletically,” said Umphrey. “At the end of the video there was a clip of Charles Woodson intercepting a pass and scoring on Ohio State to beat them. When he reached the end zone, he struck the Heisman pose. At that point I turned to the head coach and said, ‘I want to be a Michigan Wolverine.’”

Playing a sport in college is not always all fame and glory- it’s hard work. Morris explained that the transition from high school to college athletics is challenging. “You have to miss your Friday classes and you have to play a lot of catch up, but college athletics do a really good job of structuring academics and they provide a lot of free tutors and study time.” The Wolverines would travel to a different college almost every weekend -- even if a huge paper or test was due that following Monday. “In the beginning, [of college] the stress level was pretty high but they do a good job of acclimating all of new student athletes, so it was easy to get the hang of it.” As for Umphrey, the time commitment to sports was a struggle. “I had to be very wise about what I devoted my time to because if you let distractions take over then you sacrifice your grades, your athletic success, or both.” Playing at a Big Ten school impacted both of the athletes’ lives today. “I think it’s the lessons you learned on the field, you could transfer into your life as a young adult,” said Morris. For example, Morris used these lessons during nerve-wracking job interviews. She would think about the times before a big game and how she dealt with the nerves. “Control the controllables,” Morris would tell herself. She always feels prepared to take on new things after her Wolverine experience. For Umphrey, competing for Michigan has also had an enormous impact on the way he lives today. “I honestly couldn’t picture where I would be if I wasn’t involved in sports. I’ve learned so much about who I am [from] being an athlete. At Michigan, it’s a given that you learn about things like respect, honor, tradition and hard work,” he said.

CHS athlete profile

Although Morris states in a heartbeat that she would repeat this experience, she feels that she missed out on a few key things. One was the ability to go abroad during her junior year. “As a fall college athlete, your second semester is in the winter. You can’t miss; it’s all about getting stronger, training, and conditioning. So while some of my friends were in Europe, I was in the gym, in the weight room at six in the morning,” said Morris. Umphrey, however, said that he has no regrets. “I had the ultimate college experience and lived every second to the fullest.” For both athletes, the pros of being a collegiate athlete far outweighed the cons. They were pushed to a level of fitness that they thought their bodies could never reach. Morris learned an important message that she still carries into her life today: “Do what you love, love what you do.” And Umphrey applies the advice, “To always smile,” to his life today. Both Morris and Umphrey accomplished a lot during their years as Wolverines. Morris and her team won the Big Ten Tournament and went to the Final Four. Individually, she set the record for the most goals scored in a season by a sophomore and was the captain her senior year. Umphrey’s team competed in the Super Six all four years he was on the team. They also traveled to France to compete against the French national team. Umphrey was an event finalist at the Big Ten Championships every year. Both Morris and Umphrey agree that although being a student athlete is a lot of work, it pays off in the end. It’s all about doing what you love. C

ABOVE Eddie Umphrey demonstrates a handstand while Katie Morris handles her field hockey stick BELOW Umphrey, a former gymnast at U of M, stands next to former field hockey player and Big Ten champion, Katie Morris.

Name: Jeremy Simon Sport: Ultimate Frisbee What is your favorite type of pefume? Whatever Spencer wears. What kind of socks are you wearing today? Today I am wearing the wooly kind. If you could bathe in anything, what would it be? Definitely tomato sauce.

Photos jordan siden

ruthilah graff & eliza stein

If you ate a pizza with candy, what would the toppings be? Sour Gummy Worms How often do you brush your hair? Three times total. Once in the morning, once at night, and once in the middle of the night. If you could have any type of mustache, what kind would you have? The hairy kind.

Photos emma machcinski sports the communicator 25


Letter to the editors

photo olivia kincaid

Staff editorial “How is president barack obama faring through his first term? is he on the right track to being reelected?”


alfway through his first term as president, Barack Obama’s future isn’t looking too bright. According to Gallup public opinion polls, his current approval rating is at 46%, only five percent higher than his all-time low this past August. One apparent sentiment is that Obama is not coming through on many promises he made while campaigning. However, according to Pulitzer Prizewinning website, Obama has made good on almost six times as many promises as he has broken. Although there are some major offenses such as neglecting to introduce a comprehensive immigration bill within the first year, most of the promises he has broken are minor: promises to allow imported prescription drugs and make reports on the “state of our energy future.” While this factor could be a small contributor to Obama’s declining support of late, it is not the main factor. His successful deliveries (health care reform, as well as the stimulus package, which the Congressional Budget Office states increased employment by 1-2

million jobs) far outweigh his failures to deliver. The main conundrum is why Americans don’t recognize that he has made good on the majority of his commitments. A conceivably large factor in Obama’s increasingly flaccid support is what L.A. Times film critic David Ehrenstein identifies as Obama’s unfortunate image as the archetypal “Magical Negro,” a pop-culture stereotype of a benevolent and complacent African-American whose job it is to sacrifice himself for white Americans’ well-being and clean up their messes. In this case, the mess is the one left behind by George W. Bush. Obama’s realistic inability to solve all of America’s problems seems to have alienated white Americans who expected Obama to save our economy immediately. In “support” of the president, people have been wearing t-shirts with designs showing Obama as a superheroic figure. This has only set the public’s expectations to a superheroic standard, in turn, making the public even easier to disappoint. Another major cause of declining support is fear-mongering and patent

untruths and misinformation being spread by Tea Party members. Examples include claiming that health care reform will result in so-called “death panels,” and repeatedly insisting that Obama is Muslim in an attempt to stir up racist sentiments stemming from the rhetoric of the War on Terror. Regardless of reason, the country is losing faith in its president. It is possible, even probable, that this year’s election will result in a majority Republican congress. This will likely make it even more difficult for Obama to rehabilitate his failing image in the eyes of the American public. As for how to do so, well, that’s where it gets difficult. The CBO predicts that the federal budget deficit will rise to $1.5 trillion before 2011, due to a sudden drop in tax receipts. In the coming years, Obama will have to overcome a majority Republican congress and rising national debt. One thing, however, is certain: if Obama wishes to be reelected in 2012, he will need more than just “Hope,” no matter how audacious. C


editorial cartoon

Dakota Denison

Jeremy Lazare

Jenny Pritchett

“I think he’s doing pretty good, and I think he should let them haters talk. I don’t know the chance of being reelected but probably.”

“I think he has started in the positive direction, and if people become aware of that, then he’s on the right track to being reelected.”

“He’s doing good, and yes.”


To the Editors, xotic birds are a beauty that world would be dull without. They are visually stunning and intelligent animals. Exotic birds such as Scarlett Macaw Parrots, Amazon Parrots, Cockatoo’s, and many others face the danger of being captured and smuggled here from Latin America. I am a proud Parrot owner. My bird was bred here and has never experienced the wild. I feel very strongly about animal trafficking and cruelty. I have always been educated and aware of the illegal trade of exotic animals and I would like to shed some light on the subject. Exotic/Wild animal trafficking is an industry that has been growing since 1973. I am aware that there are many animals trafficked but I would like to focus on the birds that are brought here. Like the other animals, these birds are ripped from their jungle habitats and brought here under intense and dangerous circumstances. In South America there are roughly about 1,600 different species of birds. The birds are caught by using glued branches, nylon loops, and bright lights. The birds are then shipped here in suitcases and packages. The birds are usually drugged and then wrapped in newspaper. The newspaper is used to bind the bird’s wings and beaks. Most of the birds suffer heart attacks from stress or suffocate in the suitcases. Now the illegal bird trade is more modern and better technology is used to get the birds to the U.S. The U.S is the largest importer of exotic animals in the world. One way to fight against bird trafficking is to make sure you are purchasing your pet from a registered breeder. One way to make sure is by looking at the bird’s ankle. Usually there will be a small silver band, this band insures the birds are not trafficked. If you wish to do more to fight against bird and exotic animal trafficking you can visit: to learn more about wild birds and what you can do to help stop trafficking. Kylah Thompson

photoS josh fendrick photoS aaron nelson-purcell 26

the communicator op-ed

We wore purple. so what? Sarah Kerson

Kerrytown Zach shaw


or years, the relationship between the restaurant and store owners in Kerrytown and Community High School students has been very strong; students provide the stores with business and courtesy, while restaurant owners return the favor with good food, student discounts, and a family atmosphere. But already in this young school year, some stores feel that students have taken advantage of the generosity and trust given to them. An unfortunate part of owning a business is dealing with theft. Bob Sparrow was aware of this when he opened Sparrow Market, located in the center of Kerrytown’s first floor. However, according to Sparrow, the shoplifting is worse than he could have expected. “There’s way too much of it going on. It’s a huge problem,” he said. While shoplifting has always affected Sparrow, he said that this year is the worst it has been in at least 30. A few months back, Sparrow installed a security system to crack down on break-ins and shoplifters, but the cameras showed that the problem was worse than he thought. The increase in shoplifting has pushed Sparrow to the point at which he has chosen to stop selling Arizona beverages, by far the market’s top product among students. What changed to cause such an increase in shoplifting? . The popularity increase in Arizona beverages surely played a part. Despite these pitfalls, Kerrytown still appreciates its CHS customers. One restaurant that particularly enjoys student business is Kosmo. “There are some kids that I love seeing in the morning, you know, they’re great, great kids that come in and do their work, they eat, and they get outta here.” said Kosmo waiter Matt Hansen. “But you know, not everybody buys every day. Sometimes

photo zach shaw

they get in the way, and sometimes they make a disturbance”. In general, Hansen and his fellow Kosmo workers think highly of students and do not think the whole student body should be punished, “We shouldn’t punish everybody because of a couple bad seeds.” Hansen said on eating at Kerrytown, “No matter how the students act in [Kerrytown] they have a right to come in here if they want”. Hansen’s words will probably be music to many students’ ears. Most CHS students do not cause disturbances, they just enjoy the open-campus lunch as a break from the tedium of school. There is no logic in punishing these students for the actions of others. Besides, could you imagine how empty Kerrytown would be without us? There would be more than 450 students crowded in CHS hallways during the lunch hour. The hardest part about the entire situation is finding a solution to the obvious problem. The best solution, of course is to follow the rules. Don’t shoplift, and when you see someone doing it, tell them to stop. When there is a crowd in Kerrytown, try your best to sit down somewhere, and if there is nowhere to sit, go someplace else. Use your inside voices, and just follow common courtesy. This will prevent CHS staff from having to come up with another solution, one that would undoubtedly hinder the CHS experience for not only the current students, but those of the future as well. While it is not very likely that Kerrytown will ban students, it is clear that some students have abused their open lunch privileges. As a student body we are reaching the point where decades of tradition may no longer trump the poor behavior of certain students. If the pattern continues, the stopping of Arizona sales and the new Sweetwaters rule may be just the beginning. C

The Communicator, being committed to the free exchange of ideas, is an open forum for expression of opinions published monthly. The Communicator is student-run and students make all decisions about content. Letters to the editor are encouraged and can be sent to Signed articles will be accepted with no prior administrative review as space is available. However, in attaining the highest journalistic standards, The Communicator reserves the right to edit submissions. Furthermore, opinions expressed therein are those of the authors and not of this newspaper, Community High School, or Ann Arbor Public Schools. The Communicator welcomes advertisements. However, the staff reserves the right to reject, edit, or cancel ads that are judged offensive, inaccurate, misleading, libelous, or that encourage illegal activity. Advertisers are solely responsible for the contents of their ads, which do not represent the view of this newspaper or its staff. Please contact the Communicator at


y outfit for Wednesday, October 20th was picked out weeks in advance. I had my purple J. Crew Sweater and violet imitation-Keds from Urban Outfitters laid out and ready to wear long before the 20th. My purple Urban Decay eyeliner was sharpened and ready to be put to good use. I hadn’t given this much thought to my outfit since, well, ever. I wasn’t getting ready for a Pioneer High School pep rally or feeling the need to ignore the other six colors of the rainbow; I was dressed for “Wear Purple Day” or “Gay Spirit Day.” Held on Wednesday, October 20th, the day encouraged people to don purple clothing to honor gay pride and recent gay suicides that have rung an alarm across the country. The media has been in an uproar over teens who have committed suicide, some as young as 13, because of anti-gay bullying. Ellen Degeneres and Anderson Cooper launched an anti-bullying campaign sponsoring the Trevor Project, a suicide hot line for youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Dan Savage, a renowned advice columnist, launched a video series called “It Gets Better,” in an attempt to invoke some hope for the future in teens who are in danger of heading down the same path as their aforementioned peers. There were multiple Facebook events for Wear Purple Day, with hundreds of thousands of reported participants. The invites went out weeks before the actual event, fueling an excited buzz online. At first, I joined in on the purplestimulated anticipation. I invited all of my friends to the Facebook event and perused my closet for the perfect purple clothing. But as the day drew nearer, I grew more and more apprehensive; was this really it? Eight plus kids commit suicide and all we can do is coordinate our outfits? What change, if any, was this day going to bring? Once October 20th rolled around, I did end up participating in the day of purple. I wore the sweater I had picked out and a purple ribbon in my hair, tied by a friend of mine. But that’s just it: all we did was wear purple. We didn’t talk about the kids who died. We didn’t talk about what drove them to their deathbeds. We went to school with our purple on, and took

photo colleen o’brien

it off when we got home. The next day, not much changed. We returned to our purpleless state, which turned out to be not much different from the day before. We were able to take our purple off. We threw it in the laundry basket or on our bedroom floor, left to be forgotten about until the next Pioneer High football game. The kids October 20th was supposed to honor couldn’t take off their purple. They were purple. Their purple shirts were stitched into their skin. They lived with their purple every day. They were taunted and terrorized for their purple every day. They killed themselves because of the way others saw their purple. Don’t get me wrong, raising awareness is always a good thing. But raising awareness for the sake of raising awareness is never effective. Wearing purple for one day was never going to change anything, because all it was was wearing purple. If we want to see real change, we need to act upon our purple. Hundreds of thousands of people responded to those Facebook events, and yet Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the US military policy that makes it illegal for out gay soldiers to serve in the military, has yet to be struck down. Saline Public Schools still can’t add sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to their non-discrimination policy and legally protect their LGBTQ students. These policies foster an environment for the anti-gay bullying faced every day by teens like the ones who committed suicide. If we ever want these policies and environments to change, we are going to have to do a lot more than wear purple. C

got something to say? Many students at Community High have a passion or an opinion. We here at the Communicator would love to see your letters, but keep in mind that we do reserve the right to decide which letters will appear and we reserve the right to edit your letters. If you do have something you want to say, write a letter to our editors at and you might see your letter here! op-ed

the communicator 27

photos katie o’brien photo eli sugerman

A spoonful of suger

photo jordan siden

ECO Echoes: Goodbye mountains?

eli sugerman

katie o’brien


ngrid Michaelson is the epitome of originality. Discovered in 2007, at the musically-elderly age of twentyseven, via the then un-orthodox medium of MySpace, Ingrid Michaelson is climbing the musical ladder to fame. Though many adore Ingrid for obvious reasons: her charming personality, catchy lyrics, and stunning vocal capabilities, what set her apart from other stereotypical independent singersongwriters are her stage presence and raunchy humor, making her a bit of a rebel. Ingrid Michaelson is not all love songs, rainbows, or fuzzy pink bunnies, although it does seem her voice is the vocal equivalent of the latter two. Her songs are quirky, fun, and infectious. However, what really sets Ingrid apart is the often “Mature Audience Only” label that should be stamped on the comedic routine that inevitably accompanies her show. The combination of beautiful songs with x-rated humor makes for an incomparable evening out. Ingrid Michaelson never starred in a Disney Channel Original or appeared on American Idol; rather, Ingrid was discovered in a fashion not popular to its time. She was discovered through the old-school social networking site MySpace, and luckily for us, just in time. Ingrid Michaelson had said that if she had not found sufficient “traction” in her musical career by age twentyseven, then she would have quit the business. But in 2007, at the age of twenty-seven, Ingrid was discovered by Lynn Grossman’s company, Secret Road, which essentially locates music for TV shows and movies. However, the company quickly realized that

Ingrid had more than just a few songs in her, so they began to manage her full-time. With her career taking off, full-time management was necessary to coordinate the multitude of activities in her every day. So, what is a typical day in the life of a touring artist like Ingrid Michaelson like? Busy, stressful, but come show time, not nerve-wracking at all? When I asked Ingrid about getting nervous before shows, she responded, “No, I don’t get nervous at all.” Ironically, Ingrid’s take on the stress a musician must deal with is that “The shows don’t stress me out. Everything else does. All the promotions, and radio things, and interviews – those things, they mount up and sort of, can get you down, but you know, it’s all to further the project so, gotta keep-on keeping-on.” There can be drawbacks to celebrity, like teenage wannabes or even crazed stalkers and creeps. When asked about weird encounters she’s had with fans, Ingrid couldn’t recall any crazy stalker stories, just your typical underwear thrown onto the stage (tags still on them) and balloon structures of herself. You know, typical stuff. It’s hard to be considered crazy for Ingrid, because she is so off the wall herself. When asked about her craziness Ingrid told me that, “when I’m on stage it’s just like, there’s sort of like, I lose track of, my, brain.” Before putting down the paper, walking over to your computer, opening Garage Band to upload your own song to MySpace, and hoping to be discovered, it helps to realize that like any job, singing is not all positives.

Ingrid’s days are extremely busy by her description. “Well, usually I’ll have, like a phone interview, or two, or three, and then we’ll have a radio show we have to go to, then we have [to] load in all the instruments, and I go to the gym usually at least once a day, or at least I try to go everyday, and then I’ll have a meet-and-greet with some fans before the sound-check, and then we have sound-check, then we have dinner, and then we have the show, then we do it all over again the next day. People think we just show up and all I do is that show, but our days are filled with stuff.” If the non-stop schedule, late nights or long bus rides don’t deter you, then maybe you’re meant to be a singer. Here’s what it takes, in the words of the infamous singer-songwriter, Ingrid Michaelson: “do what you wanna do whole-heartedly, you know, don’t expect to be rich and famous cause if that’s all your in it for then you’re gonna be disappointed, do it because you really love it and because it, fulfils you. And then you’ll be happy, even if you’re singing at a coffee house for, 20 people. You know, [if] you’re doing something you love, do it” The days of a musician can be long and stressful, but if singing is your true passion, and you are willing to work at it 24/7, then you just might be successful, like my favorite singer, songwriter, and comedian Ingrid Michaelson. Singing isn’t your thing? Don’t worry, as long as you’re doing something you love, everything will Be OK. C

ABOVE Ingrid MIchaelson performed at the Crofoot in Pontiac, Michigan on Monday October 11. 28 the communicator columns


he Appalachian mountains once were the highest mountains on Earth; 466 million years ago they were higher than the Himalayas are now. Through erosion and time they have shrunk, but now coal companies are reducing the once tall, proud mountain tops to dust. Beginning in the 1970s, Mountaintop Removal has been a method for extracting coal from the Appalachian mountains. According to -- a resource website about MTR produced by Appalachian voices -- MTR has 6 components. The first is clearing. In order to begin mining, all topsoil and vegetation are removed, often burned or disposed of illegaly. The next component is blasting. Since the coal lies anywhere below 500-800 feet of elevation, that must be blasted away using millions of pounds of explosives. Digging is next, when coal and debris are removed using a dragline machine. Next the waste is dumped, with most of it going into nearby valleys and streams. The coal is processed by being washed and treated. The excess is a coal sludge mix of water, coal dust, clay and chemicals such as lead, arsenic and mercury. This sludge is kept in impoundments, or sludge dams. The final component is reclamation. Revegetation and stabilization are required but most sites never see more than some exotic grass seed sprayed on. This whole process is incredibly destructive and intrusive to the local area. The reclamation process does little for the local people, with their drinking water already polluted and a higher risk of flood without the forests that were once there. The families live within 300 feet of the blasting sites, which operate 24 hours a day and can send large boulders tumbling down the mountain. The sludge dams and impoundments are notoriously leaky and unstable, contaminating waters and likely to fail completely. Much like the recent red sludge disaster in Hungary, an impoundment failure would be disastrous to the larger area. In fact, in 2000 a sludge dam failed spreading 300 million gallons of the toxic coal sludge through Martin County, Kentucky. The EPA called this one of the biggest environmental disasters ever. All of this is in an area considered by the Nature Conservancy to be one of six biodiversity “hotspots” in the United States with a number of rare or threatened species. According to, the coal from MTR only accounted for 5% of American coal production, and there is very little coal left in the Appalachians. Employment is also decreasing as the production increases. It is not worth the trouble. Destroying part of American heritage and unique ecosystems to produce an energy source that is dirty and outdated is not right. It is also all at the expense of American families, slowly poisoning them and increasing their risk of lung and respiratory problems. This just is not right or fair to anyone or anything involved. If this continues the United States is projecting a view to other countries that its land is not significant for life on it or the amazing geological formations but only the worth of minerals of which it contains. If it does not stop the people of Appalachia will be sick and tourists visiting will ask, “What happened to all the mountains?” C

photo warp

games Photo illustration zach shaw





Answers: A- Jason McKight, B- Judith Dewoskin, C- Tod Tharp

smile time

Photos kerry fingerle

Can you match each Student with the reason they smile?

1) Anna Orosan-Weine

2) Franny Melampy

3)Olivia Spalding

A. Not being sick

B. Good Food

C. My girlfriend

4) Lizzy Rolston D. Anna Orosan-Weine

5) Johnah Ahuvia

6) Drake Johnson

E. Franny Melampy

F. Hannah Answers: 1-E, 2-D, 3-F, 4-A, 5-B, 6-C

places around chs

Photos emma machcinski

Match the object to the teacher’s classroom

Ed Kulka

B Courtney Kiley

C Judith DeWoskin

D Mohamed El-Hussieny


F Anne Thomas

Steve Coron

Answer: A-Steve, B-Judith, C-Courtney, D-Anne, E-Mohamed, F-Ed



the communicator


think local & shop local

think local & shop local 2280 S. Industrial Hwy  734.996.9155


!  ! 

Hours M-F 9-7%Sat 9-6%Sun 11-5

Donations Accepted Mon-Sat Call for Details and FREE Furniture Pick-up


 !  ! %% %# ! !% !  

C • a student voice

a2 ties

student photography

The Communicator c/o Community High School 401 N. Division St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104

bsu talent show

chillin’ in jazz

1000 words

a FOS moment

The Communicator Volume 26, Edition 2  
The Communicator Volume 26, Edition 2  

The Communicator is Community High School’s student-run print and online newspaper. Community High opened in Ann Arbor in 1972 and it is one...