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Dec. 13, 2011

weet as you would like Students should be allowed to post content online as they please BY THE A-BLAST EDITORIAL STAFF Emma Sullivan’s Nov. 21 tweet recounting that she told Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas that “he sucked” has revealed why students should be allowed to post updates on to social networking sites as they please. While Sullivan’s comment was inappropriate, it brought the issue of school discipline in relation to social networking sites to the country’s attention. As The A-Blast has written before, one of the many missions of an education is to emulate the basic functions of American society in order to teach its students how to navigate it. Among many things, this means that students must be able to exercise their right of freedom of speech, as long as it does not take away from the educational process, regardless of the popularity of the opinions they express. Sullivan’s comment was certainly distasteful, but since when was an ‘unfavorable opinion’ grounds to punish a student? Apparently to Sullivan’s principal, who demanded the student write a letter of apology to the governor, it was grounds enough. Writing an apology should have been up to Sullivan herself, or to her parents, but certainly not to a school official.

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3 reasons students should not have restraints on their social networking accounts: 1. Students should be able to exercise the same freedom of speech that adults can exercise. 2. Schools are supposed to teach their students how to navigate the American political system. Students, therefore, should be allowed to voice their opinion as they will be able to when they become older.

Extended Essay, Historical Investigation, and TOK Essay due in the same week

3. If school officials are allowed to view and take action upon students’ social networking updates, they will crossing a border of privacy that is increasingly diminishing in today’s world. Sullivan might have been on a school trip, and thereby representing her high school, but the tweets that she posted did not embody the opinion of the school. Sullivan’s plight can easily be applied to AHS. Many students use social networking sites to express their frustration with teachers, and classes or anger regarding other subjects related to school. If the principal of Sullivan’s high school, or Governor Brownback had not recanted their demands, any actions dictated by these officials might have reduced students freedom of expression. This event would have provided FCPS with a precedent of sorts to expand administrators’ scope into the lives of students. Currently, and rightly so, administrators can only take action against a student using his or her social network account

if he or she directly implicates his or her respective school in order to intimidate another child. It seems unlikely that Gov. Brownback, similar to any other public official, has not received his fair share of negative comments from his constituents. As history has demonstrated, American adults have the right to freedom of speech, and often exercise it, in order to share their frustrations with the government with the world. Why should students not be able to do the same thing? If it is a school’s mission to facilitate balanced, political discourse among students, instead of using Sullivan’s tweet as an opportunity to admonish a student, the principal could have utilized the opportunity to relate to students how to enter a political discussion in a civil manner. Preventing students from

tweeting, posting Facebook updates or blogging as they please will only reduce the likeliness of them understanding how to take action to discuss their frustration with certain political issues, as was done by Emma Sullivan. But more importantly, whether discussing politics or not, students have an unalienable right, no matter how informed (as long as it is not impeding upon another student’s agency or peace of mind), to post content online as they so wish. Without students having such a right, school officials will have the potential to send the wrong message to the future leaders of America. The government’s job is not to censor language that is simply distasteful. As was demonstrated in Emma Sullivan’s case, the marketplace did its job, and was the determinant of what was distasteful.

Join clubs for the right reasons N


Do you think that students should be able to post whatever they want to their social networking accounts?

Editorials Column

By Noah Noa N oah h Fitzgerel Fitz Fi tzge gere rell


“Yes, as long as they are not spreading rumors.” — Deanna Gowland


More students should be like sophomores Chelsea Barrett and Suzy Laime, who are members of the Green Atoms due to their interest in making the environment a better place.

ones I participated in for reasons other than my own interest. So why might people continue to submit themselves to this process of accumulating “laundry lists” of activities in order to establish themselves as qualified candidates for the school of their dreams? Simply, it is how those “qualified candidates” are rewarded. Seemingly, those who can do “a lot of a little” are lauded for their multi-faceted “talent.” However, this is because it is simply easier to embody this social image. Does it truly take much involvement to emulate such a form of talent?

Ask Annandale Why did you join extracurricular activities? PARENTAL PRESSURE 9%




These statistics and feedback are based on Dec. 6 survey of 130 AHS students. Surveys were distributed and returned during white day A-lunch.

Instead, I believe that those who are more admirable are those who are deeply committed to meaningful activities and are willing to deepen their proficiency of such activities. These students are able to commit valuable time and energy to those things they are most passionate about. You might now be able to see how Kurt’s election on Glee is a reflection of the backwards thinking of many high school students. In order to satisfy an end (for Kurt, it was his desire for acceptance into acting school), students often engage in activities that are counter-intuitive to the end they wish to reach in the first place. Instead of running for class office, something that Kurt was truly never interested in, he might have done himself and the world a favor by initiating an acting workshop for kids who lack the means to participate in acting on a regular basis. However, as Kurt’s character believed, it was necessary to run for class office in order to satisfy an end that might not have been appreciated by such an occupation anyway. Unfortunately, we have been taught to and seem to witness that those who are class presidents, athletes, interns, club officers, and actors all with the same face (and have time to sleep as well) are destined to succeed. Understand that if you believe such a person embodies success, you are under a false impression. So, president of club X, or writer for the Y literary publication, understand that your passion is your largest investment in your future. Or, in other words, if you wanted to submit to our tendency to quantify all experiences with an end, know that your passion, not your laundry list, will serve you better in achieving your goal.

do you think video QUOTE COLLECTION RESPONSE: How games affect teens? Video games are an enticing form of entertainment for most high school students to occupy their leisure time with. However, what happens when the enjoyment of video games transcends educational boundaries? The majority of high school video gamers confess their addiction to popular video games such as Halo and Call of Duty. Unfortunately, the effects of spending extended periods of time with eyes glued to a screen and fingers relentlessly dawdling at a controller have proven to be detrimental in many cases. Video games negatively affect cognitive skills and work ethics in high school students, thereby resulting in reduced academic performance, they also serve as prime sources of hindering social interaction. It’s one thing to find a compelling source

Trent Williams and Fred Davis of the Redskins suspended for substance abuse

“Arsenic and Old Lace” receives 16 Cappies Critics’ Choice Nominations

oah’s otes

On one of the latest episodes of Glee, the plot line, which I was able to ascertain in a short five minutes, followed the plight of Kurt Hummel (one of the main characters) running for class office in order to ensure his admission into the college of his dreams. How many of us are guilty of doing this? While karma ended up striking Kurt from class office in the end, it reminded me of a train of thought I had started a few months ago. Simply, too many students at schools around the nation, are joining extra-curricular activities for the wrong reasons. They are inundated with the notion that universities are seeking the perfect, well-rounded student, a belief that is fueled by misinformed parents and false assumptions. First off, universities are searching for the perfect, well-rounded class, and thus students who might possess a particular strength in one or two areas of their choice. No student has any business leading or founding a club with the intent of gussying up their college applications. Please, for the sake of your members (one of whom might be myself), step down. If you do not, I promise that fate will see to you a similar destiny that begot Kurt. Instead, do things for the experience; you never know what might come of it. My own schooling has taught me that. In fact, the reason I am writing for this paper is because I did not make the cut for the high school sport of my dreams. However, after much thought, I have come to conclude that I wouldn’t want any different. This column is not for college advice, however. What I saw, symbolized by Kurt’s frenetic attempt to “make it” was revealing of what society has taught myself, and my peers to value above all else – an end. We have come to value the end of a process over the process itself. In school, this end manifests itself in grades, college admissions and test scores. Is it not sad that students remember the ecstasy of receiving a high mark on a project, but not the knowledge gleaned from the project itself? I know that I have done such a thing myself. For me, the most valuable experiences I have gleaned from school were the ones I partcipated in due simply to my interest in partaking in them. The most invaluable ones, conversely, were the

25 students were just inducted into the inaugural year of the AHS chapter of NEHS

of procrastination to distract you from the unwelcoming reality of homework, but when reminiscing on high school experiences, it is pitiful to have predominant memories of being cooped up in a room playing a nonsensical video game that you probably can’t even remember the name or relative importance of any longer. If you plan on chucking your school ambitions out the window, might as well do so while engaging in dynamic recreations with a group of friends, creating genuine, lasting friendships. This is especially considering the fact that popular video games have evolved to revolve around violent combat, as opposed to the harmless classics of my childhood, such as Pac-Man and Mario Brothers. In my opinion, the cons of video games

including development of aggressive behavior, damage to cerebral functions, isolation and more, greatly overshadow pros such as improved handeye coordination and quick decision-making skills. I personally condemn video games as adverse and a form of teenage brainwash, not speaking from the perspective of a gamer, but rather from experiences beholding the effects of video games on many close friends. So, do me and yourself a favor: put down the joystick and seize the countless opportunities available to make your high school experience a little more endurable. And hey you might even learn something along the way. - Marwa Eltahir junior

“Yes, because students have a right to their freedom of speech.” —Jennifer Le


“Yes, because kids should be able to express themselves like adults can.”

--- Billal Farooq junior

“Yes, they should be able to say whatever they want because it’s their social networking sites.”

— Lauren Brown senior

“No, to protect their own reputation they need to have limits as to what they post.” — Audrey Dunnell

ESOL teacher —Compiled by Noah Fitzgerel


the 6th issue of the 2011-2012 year


the 6th issue of the 2011-2012 year