Comic by: Thalia Rivera
letter from the editor.
As I bid my final farewell to the Clarion, I’m also saying goodbye to you all. I have been honored to be this year’s Editor-in-Chief and witness the enthusiasm surrounding our newspaper and our words. Thank YOU for supporting our dreams and keeping journalism alive, for we wouldn’t be here writing stories if it weren’t for our readers. As I pass the torch on to next year’s staff I urge you all to continue the positivity and devoted eagerness to our newspaper. Our final issue of the school year is one that gets up close and personal, conquering the bulky topics that weigh us down. These subjects might be hard to digest, but they are conversations that need to happen. Publishing the unsaid, our staff is voicing their opinions and speaking up on silenced topics in our society. Arising from our theme, ‘Weight of the World’, comes stories of toxic positivity, the foster care system, eating disorders, the cost of therapy and what really happens when ‘troubled teens’ get sent away. Stemming from accounts from our very own student body, our journalists are focusing on the hard truths that many students experience, conveying that you’re not alone. Just as Atlas carried the burden of the whole world on his shoulders, we understand that you too carry your own personalized world full of relationships, school work, family, friends and life on your shoulders as well. We all experience our own unique weight of the world, but maybe we aren’t alone. In our final days, hours, minutes and seconds within these walls of the 2021-22 school year, remember to look around and take it all in. The weight of the world might be on our shoulders now, but summer is fastly approaching and hopefully a break for you all is soon to come. Have a fun and safe summer, knights!
about the cover.
The weight of the world - the only thing that seems to keep us all grounded on our own two feet. Although staying grounded is preached as a way to focus on the present to manage our anxieties and fears, the factor that isn’t acknowledged is the slow sinking into the ground as our feet begin to succumb to the desperate escape from the weight on our shoulders. As we sink further, we then begin to realize that carrying every ounce of the issues we endure is not the way to live. We exist to live; we do not not exist to survive. For this issue, we wanted to uncover the stories of the heavy issues in order to lighten the load we carry. I, the Design Editor, wanted to create a representation of how it truly feels to live in a state of heaviness; a state where the prominence of our problems seem to stand up and make their mark before we even receive the message of getting on our feet. For the cover, we all wanted to display the reality of our title, “Weight of the World.” We took inspiration from Atlas -- a titan from Greek Mythology -- who carried all of the burdens of the world as a punishment. I created an illustration of a person who carries a world that is bigger than them. The person is silhouetted to showcase how the weight of our problems seems to drown out our identity as we begin to disassociate from reality in order to hyperfocus on the issues that are occurring; the pigmentation of our skin dulls out as the life we have begins to feel like a chore more than an experience. The person is also relatively smaller compared to the size of the Earth to represent how weak and unimportant we feel when we are suffocating in the pain that is crushing us until we’re nothing but a pawn waiting for our next move to be meaningful enough; a move meaningful enough to make the pressure go away. I stuck with more cooler-toned colors to deepen the meaning of feeling trapped in the darkness but also to match the colors of the Earth: a natural green and blue. Even if we identify with Atlas more than we do ourselves, we do not have to be him. We are our own people who deserve to live a life that is not dictated by the constant desperation to escape from the burdens that have torn us apart. We are here to build up our own strength with our successes, ambitions, and contentment; we are not here to build up our strength with our troubles. Design Editor - Zainib Al-Jayashi
Not pictured: Ksenia Gevorkova
what we do. The Clarion is the official newspaper of Lincoln Southeast High School. We publish a print magazine three times a year, and online daily. The Clarion serves as an open forum for students and staff to discuss issues concerning Southeast. The staff also gives brief news updates daily on The Clarion’s Instagram account, @lseclarion. Letters to the editor are welcome. The Clarion reserves the right to edit letters for length, clarity, and accuracy, but will not attempt to alter meaning. Editorials represent the opinion of the Clarion staff. The Clarion does not represent the opinions of the administration, school, or Lincoln Public Schools; its purpose is to establish facts and promote free thought and open discussion. Any suggestions are welcome and encouraged. Please submit your letters and suggestions to Mrs. Clark’s office in room D113 or send an email to email@example.com Have a knack for writing and a passion for truth? See your counselor to register for Newspaper. The Clarion meets daily and on needed afternoons and evenings after school. We want to hear from YOU.
The American obsession with
LAWNS Nicole Tinius | Editor-in-Chief
People’s modern day obsession with lawns has made its way to the dance floor. From the sprinkler move to California’s turf dancing, it’s proving that lawns are one of the many things people just can’t get enough of.
PAST The Lawn Institute states that the lawn’s main purpose has been to protect our environment, but it has changed drastically since then and has become a major symbol for the classical American dream. The introduction of turfgrasses into society through games was designed to simply “enhance the quality of life for humans” by preventing soil erosion, dust prevention and dissipating heat according to The Lawn Institute. However, people in different areas of the world used these grassy areas for a variety of purposes. “Thousands of years ago in Africa, low turfgrasses allowed humans to better spot approaching danger or stalk their prey,” the Lawn Institute said. “In medieval times (in England and across Europe) tree-free grass-filled
Graphics by: Zainib Al-Jayashi
spaces around castles made it easier for watchmen to scan the horizon for people.” By the 16th century, European influences from landscapes led to the big boom in gardens for homes of the elite. It wasn’t until the colonization of America that the lawn evolved again. The next group of lawn-crazed immigrants came from Europe, bringing seeds of their own, and that’s when the lawn trend started to grow. In a 2017 article from Scientific American, journalist Krystal D’Costa wrote that lawns wouldn’t reach the American middle class until well after the civil war. Most Americans in the last 19th and early 20th centuries had no front yard as they couldn’t afford maintenance and upkeep that the lawns required. This, according to D’Costa,was no new trend as in previous centuries in the United States (U.S.), Europe, China, and Japan only the wealthy could afford “expanses of scythe-mown lawns [while] Commoners used cattle and livestock to keep their lawn manicured.” Over the many years it took for lawns to make their way into suburban areas, it became a prominent symbol of status. Having a lawn meant living
Societal Expectations for cultivating a vibrant lawn is killing the environment in predominantly white neighborhoods which not only divided the social classes, but also the races. Even after the abolition of slavery, prejudice towards African Americans was still prevalent and enforced through something called “redlining”. In a 2021 article from the New York Times titled “What Is Redlining?”, author Candace Jackson describes ‘redlining’ as “racial discrimination of any kind in housing, but comes from government maps that outlined areas where Black residents lived and were therefore deemed risky investments”. Redlining allowed for white Americans to reside in wealthy and lawn-heavy suburban neighborhoods whereas African Americans were forced into urban settings. This of course restricted their ability to cultivate and maintain a traditional lawn that’s known today. While the racist implications of redlining previously restricted african americans from living in areas where a grassy lawn was attainable, the advancement of civil rights has granted better access to lawns for all Americans. Now, lawns are covering the U.S. more than ever. A research group called Milesi found that there are roughly three times more acres of lawns in the U.S. compared to irrigated corn, making lawns the largest irrigated crop in America. In terms of surface area, Americans’ lawns cover roughly 80,000 miles which is about the same size as Kansas. “Lawns are the most grown crop in the U.S.- and they’re not one that anyone can eat,” D’Costa wrote. “Their primary purpose is to make us look and
feel good about ourselves.” Today’s generation of lawn obsessed people are proving that their lawns are important through the hours of time spent, hundreds to thousands of dollars spent annually and the energy they give to ensure the grass is not greener on the other side.
PRESENT Local Lincoln company, Mike’s Organic Lawns started serving Lincolnites in 2011, providing a four-step organic fertilizer program that was unlike any other lawn care company in the area. “All the products we use are completely safe for your family, your pets, and the environment. This includes our 100% safe and natural fertilizers and application,” Krissy Comstock, representative for Mike’s Organic Lawn Care, said. This treatment, in addition to annual aeration (perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass rootsBriggs and Stratton lawn company) and overseeding can lead to lucious looking lawns as well as being more environmentally friendly ways to enhance a lawn’s appearance. “Annual aeration helps relieve compacted soils, aids in water and fertilizer absorption, increases rooting depth and encourages healthier turf plants,” Comstock said. “In addition to aeration we recommend overseeding. Every lawn can benefit from annual overseeding. Like any plant, turf plants have a lifespan; as your lawn ages, the turf will naturally thin and need replacing. Overseeding on an annual basis will help to replace the aging grass and introduce newer varieties that have better color characteristics, improved drought resistance and increased pest resistance.” Mikes Organic Lawns provides these services to customers of all ages while Lincoln Southeast (LSE) Senior Alden Zabawa is taking care of his lawn customers through mowing and cleanup. Zabawa’s lawn care service, A to Z Lawn Care, is in its third year of operation. According to Zabawa, it started
off rather “small scale”, by running the business out of his car. “I bought a hitch for my car, to have a platform on it, and then on that platform, I just put a mower back there. That’s everything. Everything that [I] needed to start up,” he said. Both Comstock and Zabawa agree that the market for lawn care customers is booming and reaches all corners of the population. “I have a variety of clients, but they probably all share one pretty common trait: they just don’t, for some odd reason, have time to take care of them,” Zabawa said. “I have a lot of elderly clients. I have a lot of people who have kids like newborns and they’re spending time with them in the summer. And yeah, people who are working.”. Comstock says the majority of Mike’s Organic Lawn Care customers also come from all walks of life but are mainly made up of families, pet owners and “those who aim to help keep the environment safer for all.” Over the last couple years, both A to Z Lawn Care and Mike’s Organic Lawn Care have seen an increase of lawns in Lincoln. With Lincoln being named one of the top ten cities to raise a family in, there has been a lot more neighborhood development to accommodate. In this comes a spike in lawns and an even higher demand for lawn care professionals, however not too many Lincolnites are transitioning to landscaping.
“There’s been a lot more grass [and] there hasn’t been a lot of landscaping that I’ve had to go around” Zabawa said. Comstock said she’s seen a lot of lawns that have smaller areas transitioning into more sustainable options, but the overall amount of lawns they tend to have has been increasing. “We do have a lot of customers or potential customers who have turned larger areas into prairie/native grasses, butterfly gardens, landscaping and raised gardens,” she said. Both lawn care services service all of Lincoln and provide services such as aeration, fertilization for Mike’s Organic Lawns and mowing, winter clean up, debris clean up and some fertilization for Zabawa’s A to Z Lawn Care. For Zabawa, he’s just impressed by how much people care about lawns and
the industry it’s provided. Previously working at Roca Berry Farms, there was a massive jump financially from setting up for the Halloween season versus his time at A to Z Lawn Care. “I think [the lawn care industry] is actually insane because people will pay so much for a lawn. [For instance] when I transitioned from a nine to five job to this lawn care, I was unfathomably bewildered, honestly, about how much people would pay,” Zabawa said. “Because it’s great money and grass, there’s no like, you know, it’s not a very useful resource. Like why aren’t we planting carrots in our front yard and feeding the population?”
FUTURE The future of our luscious grass and environment is totally dependent on how the people of today handle lawn care. Currently, the same Scientific American article reports that on average, the amount of water used per lawn amounts to that the average lawns gulpings up roughly 200 gallons of drinking quality water per person per day. In places such as California this is proving to be problematic for droughtprone communities, so many have taken to social media to shame their water-happy neighbors. Sam Sander’s NPR article about drought shame shows the new and creative ways people have called out their fellow Californians, and even some celebrities. The hashtag #droughtshame rose in popularity circa 2015 in addition to
apps such as VizSafe or DroughtShameApp where users can post images and attach them to certain geographical locations. From there, the hope is that the public shame will either call attention to the water overuse or shame the individuals into using a more responsible level of water for their lawns. State officials all across the U.S. have resources to report overuse of water, just as there are hotlines for potholes and fallen trees. The reality is that much of the water used to irrigate lawns doesn’t even reside in the lawn itself, much of it runs off. In a 2019 New York Times article titled “One Thing You Can Do: Reduce Your Lawn” , journalists Ronda Kaysen and Henry Fountain estimated that roughly half of the water used ends up in places other than intended or is a vehicle for fertilizing chemicals to harm the environment. “Harmful chemicals are getting into the runoff and are evaporating into our atmosphere and are contributing to the worsening of our climate,” Kaysen and Fountain said. This toxic concoction can be attributed to the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) estimation of one billion pounds of pesticides used in recent years compared to the EPA’s estimation of just 59 million pounds in 2012 alone. For nature lovers such as LSE Government and Politics (GoPo) teacher, David Peters, the news is heartbreaking. Peters grew up playing outside. That is partially where his love of being in the environment flourished. Many of his earliest memories came from camping in lake areas and when he got to college, he became even more engaged in the environment and the issues surrounding it. His experience of working with and in nature has been shaped from camps in Colorado to extended educa-
tion in an environmental education focus. “I’ve always appreciated nature and respected how fragile it is and have been dismayed at how little most Americans seem to care about it,” he said He knows all about the impacts of the toxic chemicals in fertilizers and has seen first hand the aftermath of decades of reckless use. “I grew up swimming at Holmes lake. [Then,] the beach was full on a Saturday…it was [packed], and of course now, by the first of June, it’s not safe to go in the water,” he said. “So to see us lose these resources, you know, in real time, [in the] course of one human life, [in] my own life, that’s really depressing and again, it’s hard to make people realize or care about it.” He finds that so many Americans are becoming much more sedentary than before that they don’t realize what is slowly disappearing. While the time actually spent enjoying the lawns so many work hard on is declining, a steadily increasing trend is showing that the obsession with our lawns is just skyrocketing. Peters believes this infatuation is rooted in societal norms. “I think that the ‘Great American Lawn’ says more about our tendency to conform than it does about necessarily anybody’s aesthetic preferences. But in a lot of neighborhoods you’re expected to have [a] type of lawn that is clean and tight,” Peters said. Pressures to include a sprinkler system, such as the appeal to increase a home’s market value, is a new standard that is subtly encouraging the overuse of water and promoting a non-environmentally friendly solution for lawn upkeep. One of the more prominent arguments sprinkler system companies promote is the increase in worth. “A sprinkler system indirectly increases a home’s market value by enhancing the home’s overall curb appeal. Since attractive landscaping requires sufficient watering, an automatic sprinkler system ensures the protection of your investment,” the company ‘Affordable Lawns, Sprinklers, and Lighting’ promotes.
However, while pesticide and water usage continues to skyrocket, a growing movement to protect the environment by going organic or using lawn alternatives is maturing at almost a parallel pace. “With a growing movement that embraces a more natural lifestyle, there is a trend toward the return of naturalized lawns that welcome flowering weeds, and subsequently support a more diverse entomological ecosystem,” D’Costa said. Peters has made sure to hold himself accountable and do his part to stay environmentally friendly by making some basic swaps in his yard. “I don’t know what my neighbors think of my lawn, but I like it because anything green is allowed to grow on the part that is ‘grass’, but I have a really small patch of grass in my front yard,” he said. “There might be some weeds here or there, but it’s green. And driving by on the street, [my yard] looks the same as anybody’s or close enough to anybody else’s yard. Then I have my entire backyard planted with shrubs and perennials and native grasses. And about half of the front yard also bermed with mulch cover and lots of perennial flowers. I have a pollinator habitat, stuff like pasture and goldenrod, a bunch of milkweed growing wild and native plants.” He finds that the incorporation of biodiversity in the plants he has chosen attracts a beautiful array of insects and bugs that flock to his home each year. “Anytime in July, August, September, you’re gonna see butterflies like crazy, honey bees everywhere, and a whole bunch of bugs flying around [at my house]. I think we have more biodiversity there than my neighbors,” he said. Peters is optimistic that the desire to have a typical suburban lawn is changing and other lawn alternatives are becoming even more popular. “I do think more and more people are choosing to mulch large sections and bring in native plants and kind of diversify the habitat because it is more visually appealing, although [it might be] a little bit more maintenance than plain old Kentucky bluegrass,” Peters said. “I think maybe those changes are
happening. Slowly. And naturally. I’d like to think that the pollinator gardens are because they are kind of coming back.” Mick Telkamp said in his HGTV article discussing lawn trends that artificial turf and lawn paint have recently become popular in the lawn industry. Elemental.green, a digital media company focused on more eco friendly products, has a comprehensive list of lawn alternatives homeowners can use to inspire their transition to a more eco friendly lawn. “The developing water shortage crisis in the United States has prompted many homeowners to turn to low-maintenance lawn alternatives. And there are plenty of options—everything from red clover as an eco-friendly lawn alternative and managed meadows to ornamental grasses and flower beds, all sharing sustainability as a common denominator,” their staff said. Ornamental grasses, moss, clover, flowers, shrub beds and more are trending choices they recommend in addition to turf grass, lawn paint and other options to take a step closer towards a sustainable lawn. “Minimizing your turf lawn— or replacing it altogether—can be a major undertaking. Getting rid of all the grass and planting a new ground covering, even in a small area, is not a small project. But we believe it will absolutely pay off,” their staff said. “In fact, in some cases, you’ll see a return on investment before the growing season is even over! And no matter your lawn’s type, size or growing region, you’ll have several different and unique lawn alternatives to choose from, each with their own set of perks.” In a City Lab article featuring Californians and their frustration with the epidemic of dying lawns, other recommendations such as replacing grass with rocks, dirt, walkways and flower beds were also mentioned. The Americans’ obsession with lawns has ebbed and flowed over the
centuries since it was introduced on U.S. soil; however, the future of these lawns and climate is in the next generations’ hands. “I would just encourage young people to go to a nursery and garden center and familiarize yourselves with all of the cool plants and potential the other choices that make a lawn beautiful and that is that are more environmentally friendly. Plain old bluegrass lawn is not as cool as it used to be,” Peters said.
Stepping into the prayer camp at Wilderness Park, the biting sky seemed to lighten. The first glimpse of the teepees were seen just over a small grassy hill as the soft ground deflated with every step he took. A scene of people emerge from the wooded area, among those is Native American activist Kevin Abouezk. He is here to take a stand. Abourezk, who is a member of the Rosebud Sioux and managing editor of Native news site, Indianz.com, is at this location to protect something that is sacred to him and fellow members of the Native community. In an April 2022 Lincoln Journal Star article, Abourezk told reporter Margaret Reist that he and other opponents were opposing the development near Wilderness Park. Abourezck explained that the sweat lodge there has been used as a prayer site and purifying space for the past 40 years and was commonly used as a place to simply connect with nature. In the interview, Abourezk compares this ground to a church and said he believes a different, more predominantly white spiritual ground, would be treated with more respect. “Imagine, if you are Christian, trying to take communion as cars drive by, or say a prayer as exhaust fumes choke you,” he said. “This is a reality we are facing ... no matter how many accommodations you make, it is what it is.” Abourezk and others at the prayer camp were there to take a stand to protect this cultural site. This act of protest is nothing new for Native activists. For generations, Native peoples have been fighting this fight, all while facing great obstacles.
“Generational Trauma” is a phrase used to describe a type of multi-generational trauma that directly affects one’s immediate family rather than an entire cultural, racial, or ethnic group. In comparison, historical trauma refers to the multi-generational trauma that circulates within one or more groups for multiple generations and is projected to persist for future generations as well. Historical trauma is the effect of crossgenerational trauma from historical losses. These losses such as slavery, forced immigration and violent colonization have caused a loss of history and resulted in a psychological and physiological trauma which can affect upcoming generations. Lincoln Southeast High School (LSE) sophomore Addison Treat says that due to the historical trauma that still exists within her family, she feels that as a Native American in this generation, it is hard for her to connect with her culture because she wasn’t taught about it growing up.
Amiah Robinson | Staff Writer Nicole Tinius | Editor-in-Chief
Graphic made using Canva
“I think that intergenerational trauma has impacted my family and my culture,” Treat says. “In the past, Native Americans have had to deal with many losses such as their land, getting ripped away from their families, loss of their connection to nature and relatives around them and much more.” Treat and her family are not alone. Recent generations of Native Americans face this same problem, still living out the consequences of forced assimilation.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the definition of assimilation is “taking on the traits of the dominant culture to such a degree that the assimilating group becomes socially indistinguishable from other members of the society. As such, assimilation is the most extreme form of acculturation”. A May 2022 article from CNN titled, “Interior Department says Native American children were forced into assimilation at 408 federal boarding schools,” journalist Nicole Chavez uncovers a recently published review from the Department of Interior detailing the “past efforts by the federal government to assimilate Native American children into White American society by separating them from their families and stripping them of their languages and cultures.” The report outlines some of the conditions many of the children endured, a list of boarding schools and more than 50 unmarked burial sites.
“Children and teenagers at these schools were subject to “systematic militarized and identity-alteration methodologies” by the federal government, including getting English names, haircuts, wearing military or other uniforms, and being banned from using their native languages and exercising their religions,” the report states. The rules were enforced through punishment which involved solitary confinement, flogging, withholding food, whipping, slapping, or cuffing. These boarding schools persisted for decades to ensure Native Americans were robbed of their identities. Exact endings are hard to delineate due to the compulsory removals not being enforced until the 1970s. Nine of these schools were opened and operated in Nebraska for decades. According to an Omaha World Herald article from May 12, 2022, in addition to the known Genoa U.S. Indian Industrial School, which was located in Genoa, Nebraska, researchers identified eight additional schools that met the Interior Department’s criteria of federal Indian boarding schools. Because of the forced assimilation that occured in these boarding schools, many Native families still suffer from the underlying fear of properly embracing their culture. According to Abourezk, his family refused to teach or allow him to speak his native language (Lakota) because they were brainwashed into thinking that if one would practice formalities like language, religion and other
important customs, then it would be difficult to succeed in mainstream society. And if you were to teach your children these things, they too would suffer. “People would come over, and they would try and talk to me in Lakota,” Abourezk says. “And they’d say ‘don’t talk to him in Lakota, we don’t want him to know that’.” Now that Abourezk is older, he has been trying to learn his native language but feels that it is more challenging to learn it as an adult. “It’s tougher to learn a language and even harder to hold onto it unless you are constantly practicing it,” Abourezk said.
The Suppression of Native Identity
The Native American identity and culture has been oppressed and suppressed in the United States (U.S) due to assimilation. However the effects of assimilation go beyond historical trauma. Larger changes have presented themselves in ways of traditional upbringing of children being lost, family structure being Americanized, higher addiction rates and skyrocketing suicide rates in the Native American culture. According to one LSE student, who wishes to remain anonymous, their native relatives on the reservation suffer from alcoholism and abuse due to generational trauma. “After many years of our culture getting taken from us, we have had countless generations of broken families, addicted relatives, and survivors of various kinds of abuse,” they said. However, it is not just protection of their culture, or freedom of expression natives are fighting for nowadays, currently many don’t even have the right to vote. The American Bar Association (ABA) details the struggles Native Americans residing in the U.S. have had to endure. “The Voting Rights Act of 1965 helped to secure and protect that right for many Native Americans and Alaska Natives. With the Voting Rights Act, voter participation among Native Americans increased. However, the Supreme Court invalidated the Section 5 preclearance formula in 2013 (Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013)), removing one of the most powerful tools to ensure equal access to the ballot,” Patty Ferguson-Bohnee states in her 2020 article titled, “How the Native American Vote Continues to be Suppressed.”
Efforts to preserve Native American culture
To protect or preserve an entire culture, many aspects of the culture must be taken into consideration. Preservation of the language, protecting resources, maintaining sacred customs, continuing religion and more are all uniquely important parts that make up a community such as the many Native American nations. While there is great speculation as to how the Native American culture could be protected, it seems as though many organizations are approaching it with an emphasis on education. Native Hope is a national nonprofit organization that addresses injustices done
to Native Americans by sharing native stories, providing educational resources and assisting Native communities. They believe that one of the more prominent challenges to preserving native culture is that Native Americans are a scattered race of people. Currently, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are roughly 6.8 million Native Americans living in the U.S., however only 22 percent of them live on reservations. This leaves the rest of them dispersed across the country. “For people of Native American descent who live off reservations, the challenge is to see what their Native American identity and ancestry means for their lives,” Native Hope’s website states. “In many cases, people of Native American descent are full of a longing to know more about their ancestors and to reconnect with a tribe or culture they have lost.” Abourezk, who is currently fighting to protect native traditions in Lincoln, believes preservation “starts with the children, because that’s usually where the greatest change happens”. American Indian educator and coauthor of “Becoming Visible”, Mandy Smoker Broaddus argues that education surrounding Native American culture and heritage must be improved in the schools. In her blog post on the Education Commission of the States’ website, Broaddus writes that improving the quality of and access to Native American curriculum benefits all students. “For non-native students, it can lead to greater awareness and compassion. For native students, it can teach strength and resiliency, foster positive identity development and help uphold tribal sovereignty,” she said. This idea of Native consciousness may seem far from home, however LSE students are feeling the effects of the lack of education surrounding Native Americans and their culture. One member of the LSE Native American Caucus wrote that their younger brother used to talk about Native Americans as if they were “not real people but rather a product of fantasy”. The student went on to say that after this happened, their mother started teaching them more about Native American culture. While many schools make an effort to introduce both native and non-native students to the Native Americans’ history and culture, many are inaccurately represented with false narratives generating stereotypes and biases towards people of that community. This is where comprehensive education can help. “When all students know the correct narrative about Native Americans and learn the vital, unique and ongoing contributions of this country’s original inhabitants, there is greater understanding — and ultimately better outcomes for students, communities and our nation,” Broaddus said.
Is Education Enough?
With many setbacks, the Native American communities are compelled to fight for their preservation, seeing that their people were the targets of exclusion in the U.S. for so many years. Some question if education alone is enough, but the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, Washington, has a page dedicated to bringing the Native
American spark back to life. According to a post on the museum’s website, it can be hard to start a conversation about Native Americans with such a complex history. They recommend going out to indigenous grounds (with permission) and acknowledge the land and the people who have always called it home. The post on the website goes on to say that this, “encourages students to think about the significance of [the] place, and the continued existence of Indigenous people”. They encourage teachers and parents to learn about Native history straight from the source. Students can visit local tribal lands, museums, cultural centers, as well as attend events. Here at LSE, there is a group of young native youth that gather once every month, and during these meetings talk about origin stories, upcoming events within the Native community, and sometimes even bring in Native speakers to give cultural lessons. “It is a time to ‘indigenize’ their lives and celebrate students and Native American successes, post-invasion era full of death, destruction, and disintegration,” Native American Caucus sponsor Kris Ross said. Students in this group get to learn about things that are going on in their community and be together. According to Ross, the club promotes academic success and advances the knowledge of Native American heritage and culture. It also provides community support for Native American Students. Additionally, students get to work on projects and take classes. Ross said they are currently working on a garden at UNL and taking classes in an effort to “revitalize and emulate images of a glorious past every Saturday morning at UNL”. One year, Ross helped her students get flags from their tribes to display at school. Even if Native Americans don’t always have the pleasures of indulging themselves or their children in large scale traditions, such as pow wows and sweat lodges, there will always be the power of storytelling. If nothing else, people can always revisit the past with the immersive stories and take smaller steps to promote change for the future. “I think that the more people who take steps to learn more about their culture, and embrace it more, it will be restored,” Treat said. Native Hope recognizes the power storytelling holds and the impact they have on current Native generations today and encourages the elders in the community to share their knowledge. “If young Native Americans turn to the stories of the past, they will see the world through the eyes of their elders. The stories reinforce those values and remind the people of the kind of life they should lead,” Native Hope said. “[With storytelling] The Native community will continue to grow, and future generations well after this one will continue to learn about and participate in cultural activities like ceremonies, the art’s and celebrations.” Sharing stories can keep a culture alive and thriving. According to one LSE student’s response to the survey, the Native identity is strong. “I think our culture is too strong and beautiful to be lost forever.”
Toxic Positivity Being overly optimistic can have harmful side-effects
Ksenia Gevorkova | Online Editor One of the most common greetings in this day and age is “How are you?” This phrase is one that often sparks lots of half answers and sometimes even lies. Oftentimes, individuals feel the need to contain their true feelings when being asked a question like this, as it isn’t socially acceptable to spill what is actually haunting them inside. Why is this? It is based around a phenomenon called toxic positivity that has run rampant in our society. According to an article written by (psychology group source), “Toxic positivity is the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic
Acknowledging the pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral aspects of a situation, then choosing to feed into the hopeful, productive ones, is incredibly important in life. - Lily Rippeteau (12) 10
state across all situations.” What this means is that people tend to ignore their negative emotions and instead put happier emotions up as a front. They feel like they can’t do anything that could bring the mood down or make them seem like a drag. This psychological tendency can often lead to denial, minimization and invalidation of true human emotions. This concept is very familiar to Lily Rippeteau (12), who has faced a lot of self-inflicted positivity conditioned into her mental perception. “I have forced toxic positivity onto myself many times. I wouldn’t say I externalize it much, as I tend to keep my thoughts in my head when I’m talking to other people, and I more generally offer words of sympathy or empathy when other people are struggling, even if internally I am judging the negative emotions they’re expressing as ‘bad’,” Rippeteu said. “However, inside my own head I experience the force of the judgment and shame for feeling negative emotions.” Rippeteau is able to acknowledge the fallacies of her thinking. Bad emotions shouldn’t be stigmatized, but shame and guilt often attach a negative label onto them. This is why some people feel like they have to bring more energy to a group setting in fear of bringing the mood down. Nick Herbin (11) has personally experienced this and understands the consequences of this mentality. “There’s a fine balance between being genuine and being positive and high energy, and just being fake,” Herbin said. Genuinity is important since life isn’t always positive. People need to deal with those emotions instead of burying them. Hiding and denying feelings often leads to shame and guilt, as well as increased difficulty in avoiding the problem. After all, feelings won’t go away if you just push them down and instead will eventually bubble over.
By denying the ability to express our emotions, we also lose the connection to ourselves and that can make it difficult for others to connect to us too. This feeling of complete disconnect can later manifest into anxiety, depression or even physical illness. “One area for growth that I most see for myself is the acceptance of negative emotions, which, as a perfectionist, I often view as unacceptable. I feel shame for expressing anger or frustration toward other people, as the story I tell myself is that ‘if I feel and express negative emotions, then I am not a perfectly compassionate, understanding, even-tempered person’,” Rippeteau said. Perfectionism and the need for acceptance can also fall right in line with toxic positivity as people are sometimes willing to do anything to conform to the idea of a “perfect life”, and the expectations of others. However, this idea can often limit important conversations and stigmatize concepts such as mental health even further as individuals feel like they can’t discuss such topics. This is why it is so important to be mindful of others and yourself to be sure you aren’t denying yourself the ability to feel. Toxic positivity can be hard to spot sometimes but there are some clear indications. If you find yourself hiding/ masking your feelings or even feeling
guilty for having those feelings, that may be a sign you are inflicting it upon yourself. Any obsession with “feel good” quotes or statements can often also end up minimizing other people’s experiences if portrayed strictly without a balance of acknowledging the negative too. In addition to that, phrases like “everything happens for a reason” or “just stay positive” can often be more harmful than good, especially for people going through difficult times who feel like they can’t express their true feelings. One important distinction to make when considering toxic positivity is the difference between optimism and toxic positivity. Optimism is a mindset that isn’t inherently bad, and in fact can be very comforting and can spread a lot of positivity. “I look at every experience in my life so far and even if it was horrible to go through, I understand that I’ve learned something from it, and so I know that in the future, any hard times I go through will help me grow like they’ve done in the past,” Rippeteau said. Rippeteau classifies herself as an optimist and believes that good can come out of any situation. Herbin, unlike Rippeteau, says he is not an optimist and tends to see the world in a different light. “I tend to see the ultra negative,” Herbin said. “To me, reality is all negative and there’s only glimpses of positivity.” These differences in perceptions only reflect a portion of the different ways everyone views life, and are not problematic in their own essence. Individuals are allowed to be optimistic or pessimistic or anywhere in between based on which view helps them best understand and deal with the world. Toxic positivity, on the other hand, is an overgeneralized extreme and doesn’t align with optimism or pessimism, and instead denies emotions of all kinds. Positivity is still important in our society, and especially with all that is going on in the world it is important to have something to look forward to. You don’t have to be an optimist in order to spread positivity or not fall into the trap of toxic mindsets. It is crucial to manage your negative emotions-- but not to deny them-- and allow yourself to be realistic about what you feel.
“I think first off recognize the negative and find the positives within a situation where there’s mostly negativity. Then if there isn’t any positivity, just accepting that and trying to make [it] positive [is necessary],” Herbin said. It’s okay to feel however you are feeling, and mixed feelings are common as well. Human emotion is such a universal experience, yet everyone deals with it in a different way. This is why it is good to focus on listening to others and showing support as this is a way that you can spread positivity no matter what your mental space may consist of. “I express healthy positivity by looking at the picture as a whole and acknowledging the pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral aspects of the situation. Then, I can focus on the favorable parts and take action to promote them, without shutting out the parts that are uncomfortable or negative,” Rippeteau said.
In the end, all emotions are valid no matter how minor or extreme they may seem. Everyone is going through something different and all of us need to be mindful of that. Positivity may seem like the solution, however, it is important to not let it get too far to the point where it can deny someone’s feelings. No one should be forced to contain their true emotions, and instead we should all be able to just freely express our struggles and feelings. “I think the most helpful mindset to take that allows for positivity without toxicity is remembering that each moment is part of a larger process and cycle. If this particular moment sucks, there will be a different one soon that will be a little better. Knowing that helps me just ride out the unpleasant parts of a situation and not fight so hard trying to change or ignore them,” Rippeteau said.
M O T H E R
How the meaning of “mother” has matured and adapted throughout the decades Evan Merrell | Variety Editor Dedicated to my mom, Diane Merrell
Lincoln Southeast High School (LSE) junior Daniel Massiani Bailey sits on a worn, gray couch with his mother, Toña Maria Bailey Castillo. Surrounding them are plants of all varieties which, according to Daniel, are his “Abuelita’s”. On every table in the room there are photos of family, great grandmas, aunts, nephews, cousins. A picture of Daniel from middle school is seated upon the brick fireplace, along with one of his older brother, Philip, as a young child. Beyond that, the walls are filled with art depicting their country of origin: Venezuela. From the very first step through the door, the aroma of home permeates through the air. This comfortability is due in large part to Maria’s presence. As a single, immigrant mom of two she has had her fair share of struggle in life. A younger Daniel kisses his mother Maria on the cheek. From the beginning Maria didn’t have it easy. Her first child, Philip, came as a surprise Maria’s impression of the “American mother” when she was 26. Maria had always thought about can be traced back to the expectations of the typical having kids at some point but not so early. post-World War II housewife. “I wasn’t prepared at the time but I was The word mother has not always meant the pregnant and just accepted that,” Maria said. Unforsame thing throughout American history. In the tunately, there were complications with the preg50’s and before, the word mother meant a very nancy and a possibility of losing the fetus. Luckily, specific thing. Duties such as food preparation Philip was born with minor health complications. and cleaning were always part of the role, plus the As he got older, it was determined that Philip was obligatory care for their kids. This is in direct conon the Autism Spectrum Disorder. This did not trast to what the role of the father was at the time; phase Maria-- in fact, quite the opposite is true. go to work and make money to pay the bills. The “[He] has shown me what really matters, that stereotypical nuclear family can be identified by material things are not important. Humanity and these key features and thus, was the social standard feelings are more important,” she said. of the era. Ten years later baby Daniel was born. With “The Feminine Mystique” is a book written the father being out of the picture and the economby Betty Freidan and published in 1963. In the book, ic stability of Venezuela on the decline, Maria had Freidan defines the term, “Feminine Mystique,” as to make a choice. the assumption that women of the era would be ful“My [children] were my reason to move to filled by the housewife lifestyle. Freidan criticizes the US,” Maria said. With Daniel’s grandma in tow, the strict social identity forced onto women. She they made the long trip to Lincoln, Nebraska. The calls attention to the suffering many women of the adjustment to life in America was difficult in all time experience while living the housewife life. facets, being a mother included. Freidan writes that during the time period, “Raising a child in America is very different “all they had to do was devote their lives from the from raising a child in Venezuela. First of all, in earliest girlhood to finding a husband and bearing Latino communities, families tend to stay in one children.” place; you form a circle of friends, a community,” These expectations plagued women, invalishe said. “Philip was very well accepted by family dating their aspirations and limiting their goals to and friends as a part of the community, even with center around child-rearing. the problems he has. When we got to America, A needed change came during the late 60s there was rejection. At school he found rejection, and early 70s with the counterculture movement. [whether] it be because of his syndrome or the fact Many women who were a part of this movement adthat we are immigrants.” vocated for reproductive rights as well as a general As a mother it was difficult for Maria to see shift towards doing what you so please with your her child ostracized by his peers. It was an unexlife. A drastic decline in birth rate marked this era pected occurrence for her as everyone had been so of change. supportive in Venezuela. According to Pew Research Center, across Another difference Maria observed was the all demographics in 1976, 41 percent of mothers role a mother played in the household. had 4 kids before their 44th birthday. Compared to “American moms are more into themselves, 14 percent in 2014. While moms with two children their jobs, their responsibility, working hard to made up 24 percent of moms in 1976 and 41 permake ends meet, while Venezuelan and every Laticent in 2014. Shifting opinions on what defines a na mom is more of the emotional type,” she said. family and what a family looks like opened the door “Like a hen with her chicks, we are very protective. for types of mothers who could not previously exist. Even when they are 20 to 25, we still treat them as babies.”
Jump to present day, the role a mother plays encompasses everything from the traditional housewife of the 50s, to a teen mom trying to provide for her child while working to receive an education. The important thing about being a mother is not the surrounding factors-- whether a father figure is present or not, if there are siblings or step-siblings, or if the mother is even biologically related to the child at all-- it is the responsibility of caring for and nurturing a new body, mind and soul. What that looks like can be widely different. This diversity in motherhood is what makes it so special. For example, according to Pew Research Center, one in four children today are living with an unmarried parent. 53 percent of that group are single mothers, and another 18 percent are moms cohabiting with another adult. Either way, in most cases the mother is the one parenting the child. Nevertheless, Maria, Daniel and Philip serve as a great example of what a modern family looks like in America. But this isn’t the only type of family present in society today. LSE freshman Cadence Haecker and her mom exemplify another example of what a family looks like. Her mom and dad separated very early on in her life and so it has just been her and her mom for as long as she can remember. “I’ve always been so close to [my mom],” Haecker says. Haecker’s family is a unique one. While being the only child to her mom, on her dad’s side she has five half brothers. She only sees her father every other weekend, but this has never bothered her as her mom has always been the one she looks to for guidance. “I’d rather be at my mom’s house,” Haecker says. Being in a very tight relationship with her mother is something she is comfortable with. “My mom means a lot to me. She’s like my best friend. She tells me everything and I tell her everything. I’ve always been very close to her,” she said. Haecker and her mom’s bond is a special one, no doubt. Another example of an unique family dynamic comes in the form of freshman Sophia Bashford and her family. Bashford’s family is going through a lot of changes currently as her parents got divorced earlier this year. While divorce can be a traumatic and scary time for the children of the couple, Bashford says she could tell it was going to happen, and that “it’s a lot less stressful now”. Her life post-divorce is still a bit of a question mark, but her mom, Amanda Bashford, is taking steps to ensure the safety of her kids. “My mom is having to take care of most of the divorce process and that kind of thing. She’s having to work overnight shifts right now,” Bashford said.
This is often the case for parents going through a divorce. An increase in work hours or even night shifts is something parents need to consider when so much is unknown. “[My mom] is having to take most of the responsibility and I can see that it’s stressing her out a lot,” she said. Unlike Haecker’s mom, Bashford’s has more than one child to worry about. Bashford has two siblings, a six-year-old little brother, and an eight-year-old sister. “My little brother is very attached to my mom,” says Bashford. “She’s been trying to sleep during the day but, because she has to take care of my brother at the same time, it’s not working very well.” Childcare poses another obstacle for many mothers. Similar to Bashford’s mom, many don’t have the funds to pay for childcare during the day. Relatives and friends of the family are often looked upon to help watch the kids while they are at work, but some don’t get this luxury and have to work around it. Despite a changing climate at home and the stress that comes from that, Bashford and her mother maintain a very positive and healthy relationship. Their bond has been pretty vital in this difficult time. “I know I can talk to her about a lot of stuff,” says Bashford. Another thing Bashford credits her mom with is helping her understand and accept her sexual identity. “I’m bisexual and my mom has been very supportive. I really appreciate her for that,” says Bashford. Support from her mom is very important to Bashford as some of her relatives are less supportive of her identity. All in all, in such an uncertain time, Bashford’s mom makes it look easy with her tireless effort to keep her family afloat. While Bashford’s family dynamic is relatively new, junior Jerrad Maier’s parents have been separated for awhile and he doesn’t remember much about their relationship before the divorce. “I only have maybe two memories of them together, but after that they both found partners pretty quickly,” Maier says. The interesting thing about Maier’s family is that when his father went to remarry he found a nice lady and they got married, fairly typical, but when his mom went to remarry she also found a nice lady to get married to. This leaves Maier with three moms, or one mom and two step-moms. While lesbain parents aren’t too uncommon nowadays, getting remarried after children is something quite unique. “The majority of my life I’ve been growing up with three moms. That’s just how it’s always been for me,” Maier says . While Maier has three moms and reaps the benefits of such, he is closest with his biological mom.
“It turns out that I call my mom, ‘mom’ and then the other two I just call them by their names,” Maier says . His mom has played a pivotal role in his upbringing and to this day is someone he can always go to. “She never gives up. She had breast cancer twice and beat it both times so she definitely knows how to keep pushing and not give up.” This was a scary time for Maier, as he faced the threat of losing his mother, all while still being in adolescence. “I mean, it was hard to see her in the hospital, but I could tell that she was still fighting,” Maier says. In the end, Maier’s biological mother was able to return to her family cancer free twice. Even still, Maier can recognize all the hard work that each and everyone of his moms puts in. “I’m not afraid to say that all of my moms are providers. They are all getting that bread, dad too,” he said. Maier is proud of his family, he doesn’t shy away from talking about the challenges and struggles his unique family have had to face. With Mother’s Day being only a few weeks ago, many are taking the time to think about the impact and importance of their mother on their lives. Personally, my mom means the world to me. She is smart, resilient, kind and loving. I wouldn’t be here without her and can attribute all of my accomplishments to her. So take the time to think about what your mom has done for you. Make sure she knows how much she means to you and how you love her deeply. Make that phone call to just check in, send that text message inviting her to lunch, send her that letter about your life away from home as I’m sure your thoughtfulness will mean the world to her.
Jerrad Maier (right) poses with his mom and brother. Photo Credit: Brandon Maier
Graphic by: Zainib Al-Jayashi
SURVIVING THE SYSTEM The Facts and Flaws of Foster Care
Photo Credit: Jackson David on Unsplash
Araya Schroder | Staff Writer
In 1969, when Linda Ross was 12-years-old, she and her eight siblings were removed from their home and placed in Foster Care. This was after her mother passed away from cancer, and her father, who was struggling with alcoholism, was unable to take care of her and her siblings. Ross remembers the trauma of being forced to leave her home and leaving all her personal belongings behind. “We were allowed to take three outfits each and that was it,” she said. Ross’ experiences in the Foster Care system left an indelible impression on her young mind. Still to this day, children are enduring these challenges while moving through the system, trying to survive. The needs of a child-- viewed as a societal problem-- were finally met around the 19th century. The earliest documentations in the old testaments and the Talmud contained paperwork of children being cared
for in what we consider, foster care. By the early 1900’s, keeping records, considering the needs of a child, along with foster parent screening were being conducted by social agencies. By this time, removing a child that was a victim of abuse or neglect in a home was authorized and validated by the United States government. In 1980, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act was established, which encouraged child adoptions from nations’ foster care systems. According to AdoptUSKids.org, 400,000 children are currently in Foster Care. 117,000 of those kids are awaiting to be adopted and about 20,000 are aging out of the system. Kaw Valley Center (KVC) Nebraska, a private non-profit organization that provides a variety of programs and services to people throughout the state says there are 3,000 children in Foster Care in Nebraska. Court Appointed Special Advo-
cates (CASA) is an organization in Lincoln, Nebraska, as well as 54 other counties, that works with the juvenile courts through volunteers advocating for the well-being of children in foster care. In 2021, 945 trained volunteers served 2,127 children in the system. Hannah Lindblad, the Volunteer Coordinator at CASA in Lincoln, says their mission at CASA is “advocating for children that don’t always necessarily have a voice in the system, or maybe oftentimes don’t feel like their voices are being heard.” She adds,“one reason why CASA volunteers are so great is because the child can have so many workers within a case, but theoretically, they’re only going to have one CASA volunteer.” A part of advocating for the child(ren) is making sure they are being placed in a safe home. Linblad explains the process in which a child endures going through the system and how certain decisions are being made.
“[The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)] is going to look to place them with a family member first just because living with family, it’s a lot less traumatic,” Lindblad said. Looking out for the best interest in the child, Lindblad says “they’ll first try to find somebody in the area that can pass a background check. If there’s nobody available like that, then they’ll look for somebody that they know that already has a relationship with that child.” This type of informal placement is also known as Kinship Homes. Lindblad says oftentimes, these consist of close family friends, teachers and sometimes pastors. “If nobody like that can be identified right away, then they will look for more like a traditional foster home,” she said. Lindblad explains that a traditional foster parent is “somebody that they don’t know but that’s licensed through the state.” She adds that each child and their case is different. “From there, the court case proceeds and that can go a multitude of different ways,” Linblad said. Some challenges CASA and their volunteers see in the system is the “foster care to prison pipeline.” Essentially, this is the lack of preventative services that can be helpful to families before a crisis point is reached. Also, children of color are disproportionately represented in the Child Welfare system. Along with the number of kids aging out of the system-- ages 18 to 21-- CASA has found that they are facing higher rates of PTSD, homelesssness, unemployment and unplanned pregnancy. Lindblad says turnovers and inconsistencies with social workers create challenges for the system. “[Social workers] don’t stay on a job very long. They usually have a really high turnover rate because the job is very, very, hard,” she said. Lindblad points out that being a social worker is a very difficult job. The high rate of turnovers makes it difficult for a child to form lasting relationships with the Social Worker. “Once a child forms a relationship or connection, then that person usually leaves,” she said. Looking back on her experiences
as a child, Ross feels that the system can improve. “There doesn’t seem to be any accountability anywhere,” Ross said. “I feel like there’s not enough follow up once the child is placed; I don’t feel the vetting of the foster parents is good. I don’t think it was then, and I don’t believe it is now.” Of her eight siblings, two were adults who did not need to be placed in foster homes, but the other six were removed and placed in different homes. Some were lucky enough to be with a sibling, but some were alone. Ross entered the system with one other sibling. “I happened to get into a fairly decent care facility and I was placed with another sibling,” Ross said. When Ross was removed from her childhood home, she said “it felt like we had done something wrong.” But now as an adult, Ross knows that it isn’t the child’s fault. “[The] parents are troubled, but [the kids] are made to feel like they’re the problem,” she said. Ross says what scared her the most was the factor of the unknown. “We didn’t know any of the people,” she said. “We didn’t know where we were going or what was going on.” Ross feels like the vetting system for foster parents needs to be improved. “[The process] is very limited and not in-depth enough to really get a good understanding of who these folks are that are taking children in,” she said. One of Ross’ sisters, six at the time, was not placed in a good home. “She had to be removed from several homes because the people were, well, they were crazy,” she said. “They were trying to do exorcisms on children that they had in their care.” When Ross’s sister tried to report what happened, the social worker didn’t believe her. “They believed the foster care parents over the children who were experiencing bad times,” she said. Two of Ross’s brothers also struggled at the foster home. “[They] were placed in a home with a couple who didn’t like children,” Ross said. ”When [the husband] would go to work, [the wife] would make [the kids] do all of their housework and then go to their rooms and
stay there until the father came home and then acted like everything was fine.” While Ross and her siblings were placed in foster care, her father was court ordered to rehab for his alcohol use. Six months later, the children, including Ross, were placed back into the home with the father, fresh out of rehab. Ross’s dad regained custody of his kids after his stint in rehab. It had only been six months since they were first removed from the home. Ross says the situation at home had not improved. “After my father got out of rehab, he married somebody that he met for two weeks and then picked us all back up from foster care and took us home, where they both continued to drink and be abusive,” she said. Ross’s experience was just one out of thousands upon thousands that go through the system. CASA’s mission is to shine light on children around the state and nation to make sure kids have someone on their side. While CASA is still working to make a difference in the lives of kids, they are still in need of volunteers. “We’re always looking for more volunteers because we always have kids waiting to have their case taken,” Lindblad says.
I don’t feel the vetting of foster parents is good. I don’t think it was then, and I don’t believe it is now.
- Linda Ross 15
Zainib Al-Jayashi | Design Editor
The final bell has rung and summer break has just begun. The only thing I can comprehend is the brightness of the sun and the ropes of my stress unraveling as I learn to breathe again in the warm air. For a few months, my presence is not needed at school, but as the distraction of my work is no longer drowning me, I begin to wonder if my presence has ever fully been in attendance. Two weeks into summer vacation, I already start to dread returning back for another year; another year where I will have to correct my teachers and classmates on how to say my name. My time off from academia has never felt like a break because I still find myself rehearsing the same speech, the same “meaningless” speech I’ve been sharing for 12 years-- the speech that never seems to make a great enough impact to last. It’s the first day of school, and I have already silently cried my wishes to all of the shooting stars that this school year will contain less of my flushed cheeks of embarrassment. Five minutes into teacher introductions, and we have a roll call. I am always one of the first people to be called on as my last name begins with the letter A, but I wish I could just go unnoticed and be forgotten. “Zuh-neeb?” they say. “It’s Zay-nib,” I respond. “Oh, I’m sorry. You’re going to have to correct me for a few days,” they laugh. I promise I am not inconsiderate or ignorant. I have already acknowledged that my name is not common here in the United States (U.S.) and that it may be hard to pronounce correctly on the first attempt. But the one issue I cannot seem to grasp is the on-going mispronunciation of my name for the entirety of the school year. I am not “Zuh-nib.” I am not “Zuhneeb.” I am not “Z.” I am Zainib. As a person of color, I have experienced this situation first-hand. Before even figuring out who I am as a human being or even what my interests are, my name presents a seemingly impenetrable barrier. Though it seems disrespectful to my cultural background, sometimes I give in to the mispronunciations as I am brainwashed to believe that it’s more “convenient” for others to say, but that doesn’t mean that I am not tired or angry about the lack of effort. I am only one of countless people who grapple with the foundation of their identity as they lose themselves to the pressures of unconsciously whitewashing their name. An article written by Zulekha Nathoo and published by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) titled, “Why getting a name right matters,” mentioned the story
of a Canadian radio host’s experience in wanting to represent her entire identity, rather than half or a quarter of who she truly is. Nathoo wrote, “Canadian radio host Naba aba Duncan decided a decade ago she no longer wanted to go by nicknames and instead reclaim her full Ghanaian name, pronounced Nuh-NAA-buh.” To ensure that her peers would acknowledge her background, she attached a name pronouncer in her emails to help those who were unaware of the pronunciation. Even with the help, she encountered a woman who claimed she could never pronounce Duncan’s real name and proceeded to laugh at her for being culturally different rather than taking the time to understand her roots. Duncan then faced the entitlement of white superiority when others began calling her ‘Nana’ for the sake of their convenience. Although Duncan despised the lack of effort and humor found in her name, she said, “‘I feel like I’m a spoil sport if I say, ‘actually, I don’t think that’s funny’.” While those who continue to incorrectly pronounce names may not think much of their mispronunciations, they are slowly deconstructing an identity and dehumanizing that person. In the same BBC article, Xiao Zhao, a postdoctoral at the University of Toronto stated, “Habitually pronouncing an unfamiliar name incorrectly is a form of implicit discrimination. It sends a message that ‘you are minimal, or you are not important in this environment, so why should I take time and my effort to learn it?’” For Lincoln Southeast High School (LSE) junior Kelly Pinto, he has altered his name to something more socially accepted in order to be seen as belonging more in a white society after experiencing the constant mispronunciation of his name from a young age. “My name is Michel [mih-kel], but I have gotten a lot of Michael’s and Michelle’s,” Pinto said. “I don’t like any of the mispronunciations; I’m just like ‘you tried.’ From very early on, I was like ‘we’re out of here, I can’t do this anymore’.” Though Pinto has an appreciation for his true name, he assimilated to identifying as “Kelly.” “I kind of like my name now, but I don’t really think about it that often because I go by Kelly so much,” Pinto said. “The only reason I go by Kelly is because when I was in elementary school, I went to an all-white school. Having a name like “Kelly” [allowed] me to blend in more because I already stuck out like a sore thumb. I thought to myself, ‘Why stick out even more when I can just go by Kelly?’ My name being “Michel” wasn’t something that was like, ‘Oh, you’re
change my hair and my skin, so I might as well change my name. - Kelly Pinto (11) unique’, it was just something like, ‘Oh, that’s different.’” In a society that praises radical acceptance, it’s ironic to think that the statement is somewhat of a hypocrisy. Through the years, there has been progress in equality for all people, but the effects of the past don’t suddenly dissolve, especially when they have scarred the mind deeply. Pinto’s real name, Michel, stems from a Ugandan background, but Kelly stems from a nickname given to him by a white family member. Though the name was created out of fun, it was ultimately turned into a white name. “I began conforming when I was a little kid,” Pinto said. “In terms of the future, I’ve contemplated using Michel for college, but I think for the sake of convenience, I’ll continue to use Kelly just because it’s almost like my new name now.” Although people of color often take the initiative to confront those who minimize of mispronouncing a name, it’s truly up to the people of society -- the white race -- to fully acknowledge the issue and walk towards a direction of change. The elements in the equation must balance out in order for it to be solved; one factor cannot be more than the other. Unfortunately, Pinto faced the unbalanced equation and had to make a difficult change for others rather than others making an easier change for him. “When you’re surrounded by people who don’t look like you, I might as well blend in as much as I can,” Pinto said. “I can’t change my hair and my skin, so I might as well change my name.” The act of branding oneself into an altered identity is not a result of embarrassment of the ethnic or cultural roots that one is born into; it is a response
to the discrimination and belittlement that overshines any attempt to be authentic. An article written by Joe Pinsker and published by The Atlantic -- an American journal of news, literature and opinion -- titled, “American Immigrants and the Dilemma of ‘White-Sounding’ Names” stated that “American-sounding first names functioned more as a signal of ‘an effort to assimilate’ than a means of ‘hiding one’s origins’.” Pinto’s modification to “Michel” was an unconscious force of white superiority from the environment he was surrounded in. Even if the decision of changing one’s name is made personally, it is still not justified to change oneself when there has been no attempt of acceptance in an environment. One can agree that Pinto changing his name to conform for others’ sake is difficult as it toggles with the complexity of identity, but when peers choose to add to the pondering, it causes more of a dissociation with oneself. Pinto’s attempt at correcting those who
were misidentifying him failed, and it left him with no option but to pretend that his name was being said correctly. “In middle school, my gym teacher was still calling me Michael, and I corrected him several times,” Pinto said. “There’s layers because people call me one thing, but it’s written the other thing; it’s just too complex.” The reality for Pinto, though, is that he has grown accustomed to the mispronunciations. “I almost just expect [mispronunciations], like when I’m signing up for something, I expect for that to happen and I factor that in while I’m doing it,” Pinto said. “[But] it’s hard because I am going out of my way and putting effort when I don’t have to put effort for anyone else’s name.” From his experiences, Pinto has learned that not everyone is able to acknowledge others in a way that is deemed considerate to all, and for that reason, he has had to draw conclusions to lighten the weight of the situation. “Sometimes when you’re dealing with ignorant folk, you just have to assume that they’re not cultured and that they’re not going to understand,” Pinto said. To those who cannot relate, it is exhausting to have to correct the people around us. It is one thing to mispronounce it on the first try, but it is another thing to continuously make the same mistake because there is no drive to learn how to say it. It is not our responsibility to teach others the correct pronunciation of each syllable and vowel, and it is almost insulting to laugh off your mistakes without learning from them. Our names are not something anyone can declare as wrong or weird; our names are something for everyone to respect because it is the beginning of our existence. In the same BBC article titled, “Why getting a name right matters,” Myles Durkee, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, said, “There are also those who use their real names, only to have people repeatedly mispronounce them. [Getting names wrong] can go under the radar for a lot of individuals. Other people can see it as, ‘oh, it’s not that big of a deal.’ What makes it detrimental is the chronic pattern of doing this consistent mispronunciation. And the ripple effects from that are much more adverse, signaling to the individual that they’re less important, that they’re less valued.” Unlike Pinto, LSE Spanish teacher Teresa Barta didn’t wholly change her name, but she changed the pronunciation of it to something that doesn’t feel genuine to her. Immigrating to the United States from the Canary Islands off of
Spain not only provided a new environment, but also a new pronunciation of her name. Her move gave her a new national identity that would soon be dictated by those who cannot seem to accept ethnic culture. “After 15 years, I’ve gotten more used to it, but it just doesn’t feel like me; it’s weird,” Barta said. “It is completely a question of identity and just recognizing myself and still being me.” Because of Barta’s Spanish background, the correct pronunciation of her name is Teh-reh-sah rather than Tuhree-sah. Growing up in Spain, Barta was only aware of the Spanish pronunciation, but when she moved to the states, it all took a turn. “If I say it the way it’s said, everybody would kind of tilt their head; sometimes, people’s behavior, attitude, or tone would completely change, and I immediately felt like more of an outsider,” Barta said. Barta’s connection to her name allows her to stay close to her family and home country even if they’re more than four thousand miles away from Nebraska. Her immigration to the U.S. resulted in a sacrifice of heritage; she had to leave her family, culture, language and comfortability in order to mix homogeneously with the rest of society. Having to leave the core of her nationality and the place where she began to discover who she was as an individual left her with nothing but the risk of experience and her own name. “I think what it comes down to is that I have had to change so much to adapt to a new culture, new country, new people around me, new environments;
be like denying who I am or where I come from if I were to change my name. - Teresa Barta
and if there’s even something I can keep for myself, I think it would be the core of my name,” Barta said. “It’s like the last bit of me that has been there since the beginning, so it would be like denying who I am or where I come from if I were to change my name.” Many of us with “different” names find it frustrating that the empathy from others seems to run short when it comes to the act of respecting a name. It takes more than just physically moving to be accustomed to a new place. The mental conflicts of having to adapt and mold to be deemed a true American citizen is overwhelming when we were constructed in another culture. It is impossible to erase the roots we’ve grown from because it is where we feel the most understood and accepted; it’s the start of our growth as human beings. We are not given handbooks to teach us what is acceptable and what isn’t; we learn from the first-hand experiences and traumas. With these experiences, we have learned that our names are something that is not accepted because it’s too “exotic.” People of color, along with the rest of the population, want to feel like they belong. If we have to keep on changing our names for the sake of your comfort and not our own, we will never believe that we belong in the states. As Barta became situated in the U.S. and began to adapt, as well as deepen her understanding of American culture, she soon learned that the only thing she had left -- her name -- would soon be left behind in Spain, too. “I felt like it was another thing that I had to do just to make sure everybody else was comfortable and that they were not going to get all weirded out about them having to repeat or learn something different,” Barta said. Even after coming up against the mispronunciation of her name and having to give some of it up, Barta has never let go of the appreciation of her name. “The only time that I didn’t like my name was when it was mispronounced [in the states] during that period of time of moving because I felt as if I was an imposter. I was not myself, and I didn’t recognize myself. That was a hard time because I was trying to learn everything and find myself at the same time,” Barta said. “Now after going through all of that, I’m fine with all of [the mispronunciations] because I’m sure of who I am.” Similar to Pinto, Barta has also had to draw her own conclusions to lighten the weight of her situation. “I don’t correct people on it unless somebody asks, ‘how do I say it?’ or ‘did I say it right?’ I think people that actually care about you will try and get it right,
and the others you don’t need to bother with every little battle,” Barta said. Since Barta endured the whitewashing of her name, she wants to ensure that she doesn’t reciprocate the hurt she felt onto anyone else. She understands the feelings of being seen as an outsider, and she wouldn’t wish it upon any other person. “I think when people show interest and care in others, then they make an effort. I think it’s a part of manners,” Barta said. “If a student tells me their name, I might ask a billion times how to say it and I might mess it up sometimes, but I’m gonna keep trying to get it right.” Barta’s and Pinto’s hardships may not be exactly identical, but the feelings of invalidation and perplexity are what they share. An article titled, “Put some respect on my name,” written by Yasmine Elkharssa and published by The Michigan Daily -- a student newspaper of the University of Michigan -- said, “Intentionally mispronouncing, or poking fun at people’s ethnic names is a form of casual racism that promotes the superiority of white people and western ideals.” Barta and Pinto were victims of the forceful cultural assimilation of American society. The two had to sacrifice and overlook their authenticity just so they could interweave to be viewed as a person within, not as an outlier. Despite the efforts to look past the microaggressions, the issue still remains as there has been little to no awareness. For change to occur, there must be action. While the constant correcting of a mispronounced name may seem intimidating, Pinto and Barta both believe that there are more considerate ways of approaching a name to avoid incorrect assumptions. “When [others] give me my last name [first] and hint at my first name a little bit, I’ll come and jump in because when they assume, it’s just wrong,” Pinto said. Although Barta has a different approach, her purpose remains the same. “If it’s a more common name, I might just say it and then ask ‘did I say it right?’” Barta said. “If I come across a name and I’m not sure how to say it, I go to the person and show them the list of names and ask them how to say it.” An article titled, “How do I respectfully ask someone to pronounce their name?” published by Rumie.org -- a website of a collection of learning experiences that help to build on transferable careers and life skills -- recommends the prompt, “‘I want to make sure that I say your name correctly. Could you pronounce your name for me, please?’” This simple prompt radiates off valida-
Ways to approach a name •
Ask the person. Asking is effective as it respects the person being asked.
Repeat their name. Ask questions like, “Am I saying your name correctly?” or “Can you say that one more time?”
Call them in. Ask them privately on how to say their name to ensure it is pronounced right.
Observe and listen. If you are unsure and are too worried about offending them, listen to how they correct others or how they say it.
tion, making us with ethnic names more comfortable in a given environment. On the contrary, things to avoid saying include, ‘Can I call you [ ] instead?’ ‘Could you go by something else?’ or ‘Is there anything easier?’ Other things to avoid are assuming that everyone is okay with the mispronunciations, joking around or making fun of a name or laughing off your mistakes without taking a second to consider the other person’s feelings. The genuine effort of trial and error is preferred over the inconsideration when learning to say someone’s name. Names carry the details for the infinite, ever-changing story of identity. The second our eyes opened to discover the new world, our ears listened to the sound of our own names before we could hear the birds sing. Without a name, there is no identity; everyone is given a name, and it deserves to be respected. Our names are ours to define, so what will it take to deconstruct the unbreakable barrier to be able to see the importance of respecting a name? 19
Weight of the World LSE students let go of what weighs them down
The Beach Body Mindset Unhealthy expectations of the “summer bod” are mentally and physically damaging Georgia Wood | Staff Writer
Graphic by: Zainib Al-Jayashi
If you look up “how to get a beach body” on Google, you’ll find countless articles, blogs and videos that offer quick fixes and tips for losing weight in a short period of time. These articles suggest diets, exercise tips and pills to burn fat faster. They’ll tell you that you’ll see results after just a few weeks. All of this is to achieve the “ideal” summer-ready body. The “ideal” body to have during the summer is known by many names, such as a beach body, summer body or bikini body. Women are expected to shave and look tan, thin, and muscular, but not so muscular they don’t look feminine. Men are expected to look tan, fit, muscular, and have cleanshaven faces. “A summer/beach body is a subjective way to make people, typically women, however not [exclusive] to women, feel bad about their bodies. The media represents the perfect beach body as skinny, toned, tan, and picture-perfect,” Layla Riley, a junior at Lincoln Southeast High School (LSE) said. The idea of a summer body is to lose weight, get rid of extra fat and develop muscles a few months before summer to look good in summer attire such as bathing suits and shorts. Websites suggest workout routines, fasted cardio and diets to achieve this overall goal, all while setting unrealistic deadlines. Some sites say that you can see results within six weeks. The problem with the beach body concept is the idea that you can develop a perfect body after over-exercising and dieting for a few weeks. The truth is, it will take a regular exercise routine and healthy eating habits to see a long-lasting, substantial difference. LSE sophomore Katarina Ward said that she has tried to get a beach body in the past. “I’ve done a lot of things to get a summer body, but nothing ever really worked. No amount of dieting or exercising really made a difference for me,” Ward said. “I never reached my goal when I was specifically trying to get the summer body. This kind of took the whole ‘I’m not good enough, I’ll never be good enough’ mindset to an extreme. I honestly would have done anything to reach my goal at that point in time, because of how much I hated my body.” The beach body mindset can be incredibly detrimental to one’s mental and physical health. Articles suggesting diets and exercise routines give “shortcuts” to losing weight. In truth, you can’t cut corners to lose weight long-term. Losing weight takes time and healthy habits. According to Medical Doctor (MD) Marcio Griebeler at Cleveland Clinic, “When you lose weight too quickly, your body slows down its calorie-burning process,” explains Dr. Griebeler. “That is your body’s way of trying to ensure you don’t starve. You might lose a good amount of weight
right away, but your metabolism quickly goes into survival mode. The change in your metabolism is a key reason why people regain weight after trying rapid weight loss plans. When you go back to eating a regular diet, your metabolism isn’t used to that many calories — and the pounds come back.” You may lose some weight after going on a strict weight loss diet for a couple of weeks before summer, but that weight loss will rebound once you start to eat normally again. Many people aren’t able to reach their summer body goal in the timeframe fitness influencers set for them. However, it’s not the people to blame; it’s the unrealistic idea that you can lose weight and body fat and suddenly look “perfect” within six weeks. The summer body mindset can discourage a person from setting long-term fitness goals because they might feel that they will never be able to lose weight and that they might as well give up. It will make them less likely to try making long-term healthy changes because they might feel like their efforts are futile. But to see a long-term difference, they have to practice healthy habits and set long-lasting goals. Fitness influencers that promote a beach body often promote losing body fat. Modern-day society views body fat as unhealthy. While having too much body fat can increase your risk of heart diseases and diabetes, the idea of cutting out all possible body fat is not healthy either. Having sufficient body fat keeps you warm, gives you energy, supports reproductive health, and more. According to an article on WebMD. com, reviewed by Dr. Michael W. Smith, women need at least 10 to 12 percent body fat, and men need at least 2 to 4 percent to sustain normal metabolic and hormonal functions. That is essential fat. However, the percentage of fat needed to be healthy can increase depending on weight and exercise habits. The beach body standard can push people to extremes in an attempt to look perfect and society doesn’t help. Although it’s unintentional, society can pressure someone to continue strict dieting and over-exercising because they think that the person is making a healthy improvement. In reality, it can be extremely unhealthy and dangerous. “I know several girls who have/had eating disorders purely because they’re trying to have a summer body,” Ward said. “I’ve seen them refuse to eat for days on end, or force themselves to be sick after eating. Even though these girls clearly were struggling, it seemed like other people were encouraging them because they would say ‘whatever you’re doing is working’. That really made those girls keep doing these bad things because they were so obsessed with having a beach body.” Alexis Swanson, a sophomore at LSE,
is one of many who struggled with trying to obtain the perfect beach body. She said the experience was awful and that she was constantly exhausted from the workouts she did and sick from the constant change in diet. “There was this program for the summertime to get a fit body. It was called the ‘ten-week challenge’, where you try to see who can lose the most weight in your fitness class. I was just 15, and they had me coming into the gym to work out every single day,” Swanson said. “On top of that, they had me, just a teen, log every single food I ate. I couldn’t go above a certain amount of carbs, sugar, fat, or calories. It was awful. I’d hear from my family members, ‘oh you look so much better’. Let’s just say I quit the program about a month in. I wasn’t feeling like myself and felt constantly sick. Even today, I still feel off.” Today, more fitness influencers promote healthier habits. However, the influence of social media and societal standards still promote the beach body. Society still values thin, toned physiques. “I think that the ideal beach body is extremely detrimental to every aspect of someone’s life, and even though some people are trying to fix or change that in some way, it’s always going to happen,” Ward said. Lily Rippeteau, a senior at LSE who also strived to have the perfect beach body in the past said, “I did not reach my goal, because my goal was unattainable. I wasn’t going to get the smaller upper body that I was looking for, because my shoulders and ribs weren’t going to shrink. I wasn’t going to get the shape of butt I thought I wanted because my genetics don’t carry weight in my legs. Not reaching my goal, however, made me think there was something wrong with my body, and there never was to begin with.” Just because you can’t obtain the ideal beach body doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your body. The beach body concept supports the idea that you can shape your body and that you should suddenly be curvy or muscular. Swanson said, “The “beach body” mentality needs to go away. It’s especially harming teens. When someone wants the “perfect body” they may do it in an unhealthy way.” The beach body mentality is an unhealthy standard that causes people to set unrealistic goals to achieve society’s definition of perfect. At the end of the day, all bodies are different and beautiful in their own way and there is no one set definition of beautiful or perfect. Rippeteau said, “I see that my body is genuinely beautiful. Not just in a cliche, ‘you’re perfect exactly as you are’ way, but in an actual ‘I like this part and this part, and sometimes I don’t like this part, but that’s normal and it doesn’t mean I need to be different’ way.”
Not a diet gone wrong The road to understanding eating disorders requires accurate representation and comprehensive education Zainib Al-Jayashi, Carmin Sims, & Georgia Wood | Design Editor & Staff Writers
As our ever-changing society adapts to new technology and the fast-paced dissemination of information, mental health awareness is now more prominent than ever before, whether it be through social media, easily accessible research articles online or even others sharing their experiences to help others feel less alone. Although increased access to information has helped many people who struggle, eating disorders is still an issue that is in need of better representation. There are many misconceptions, stigmas and stereotypes that cloud the actual diagnosis of an eating disorder.
Types of Eating Disorders
To understand the fundamental aspect of eating disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) -- the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States (U.S.) -- eating disorders are “characterized by a persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behavior that results in the altered consumption or absorption of food that significantly impairs physical health or psychosocial functioning.” All eating disorders involve a disturbance of eating, but the behaviors and psychology from the types varies with each disorder. Depending on diagnostic criteria, one can be diagnosed with one or a few of the following: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, bingeeating disorder, orthorexia, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (AFRID), pica and/or other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED). Similar to many other mental illnesses, eating disorders do not have a direct cause, but according to an article covering eating disorders published by Verywellmind.com -- a health and wellness website -- author Lauren Muhlheim states, “most experts agree that eating disorders are complicated illnesses that stem not from a single cause but from a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and environment factors.” Although there may not be an exact stem, some risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing an eating disorder are depression, anxiety, trauma, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), low self-esteem and poor body image.
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that impacts over 200,000 people in the U.S. per year. This specific eating disorder has the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness due to its life-threatening consequences as well as the other psychological impacts it causes. Anorexia is diagnosed by the displayed behaviors of restricting energy intake [calories], having an intense fear of gaining weight, partaking in interference of weight gain through exercise or other behaviors and/or having a warped and disturbed vision of the body. Though the disorder can be misunderstood as any other restrictive diet, anorexia is more than just food. The results of trauma, loss of control, lack of self-worth, limited security, and deep rooted insecurities are some of the culprits for the manifestation of anorexia in a person. The main motivation of dieters dieting is to control their weight, but anorexia is an attempt to gain control over the overwhelming emotions and unstructured life; anorexia sufferers seek weight loss as a way to attain happiness, control and satisfaction. Because of the amount of complex behaviors that compound to form restrictive eating disorders, the DSM-5 has created subtypes of anorexia nervosa in order to fully understand the entire picture of all cases. The restrictive subtype of anorexia nervosa is perhaps the most acknowledged amongst the other types. The subtype does not include episodes of binge eating or purging as it only involves dieting, fasting, exercising, and restriction. The binge-purge subtype of anorexia nervosa includes restriction as well as binge eating and purging behaviors: the misuse of laxatives and vomiting.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that is identified by three factors: frequent episodes of binge eating, frequent unhealthy behaviors to prevent weight gain -- purging, abuse of laxatives, etc. -- and distorted views of the body. An article titled “Bulimia Nervosa” published by the National
Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) stated, “[The] life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of binging and compensatory behaviors is designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.” The compensatory behaviors occur due to the prominent negative feelings of shame, guilt, disgust, etc. and feel as if their only form of relief is to reverse the binge. Bulimia nervosa purging subtype is the most understood form of bulimia as it is the disorder that is commonly portrayed in the media. This form of bulimia includes the binge-eating behaviors as well as the purging behaviors of vomiting, abusing laxatives, the use of enemas and/or diuretics. Similar to the purging subtype, behaviors occur to compensate for the bingeeating behaviors. The difference, though, is that sufferers engage in fasting and/or exercising rituals instead.
Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder diagnosis amongst the others, but it is also one of the most misunderstood. An article titled, “What is Binge Eating Disorder?” published by Eating Disorder Hope stated, “Binge eating disorder is frighteningly common in Westernized cultures, as many engage in binge eating behaviors but minimize these as “emotional eating” or falsely consider them as effective coping mechanisms.” The disorder occurs in episodes; an episode of binge eating is the act of eating an unusually large amount of food in a short period of time. The difference between overeating and binge eating disorder, though, is the feeling of loss of control during the episode which is then followed by feelings of guilt and shame. Those who struggle with the disorder feel disassociated from their body when the behavior occurs; many don’t realize what is occurring until the episode has terminated. Oftentimes, binges are correlated with feeling out of control and shame; another common similarity is that the occurrence of binges happen in private to avoid any form of embarrassment. Though the triggers for sufferers differ, most binges occur at the fault of another co-occurring mental health issue, low-self esteem, specific foods, stress, boredom, and/or trauma.
Although orthorexia is not officially listed in the DSM-5, it is an increasingly severe disorder that has stemmed from diet culture. With the pressures of the media as well as commonly shared insecurities amongst the population, orthorexia is viewed as socially acceptable because of the disorder’s emphasis on “clean eating” and building “healthy” habits; what many don’t recognize, though, is the obsession and anxiety of being the purest one can be
around food. In an article titled, “What is Orthorexia?” published by Eating Disorder Hope, Steven Bratman -- a practitioner of alternative medicine -- stated that orthorexia includes, “an obsessive focus on clean eating and avoidance of “unhealthy” foods, mental preoccupation regarding dietary practices, and very rigid dietary rules with violations causing exaggerated emotional distress.” An unfair assumption for orthorexia is that it is simply a lifestyle and that it is not considered a valid eating disorder for it is not understood to the fullest extent. Even though, eating disorders go beyond the physical symptoms, the same article covering orthorexia has discovered “reports of physical (malnutrition), psychological (fatigue and emotional instability), and social consequences (social isolation, diminished quality of life, and stigma) [that] comply with current concepts of mental disorders.” The disorder is an overwhelming, anxiety induced illness filled with obsession and rigidity, and therefore should not be considered any less of an eating disorder.
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake (ARFID)
An article published by NEDA titled, “Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder,” states that, “(ARFID) is a new diagnosis in the DSM-5, and was previously referred to as “Selective Eating Disorder.” Similar to orthorexia, ARFID is a lesser known eating disorder that risks the chance of being mistaken for anorexia nervosa. The difference between ARFID and other restrictive eating disorders is the reasoning behind the behaviors. In the same article published by NEDA, “unlike anorexia, ARFID does not involve any distress about body shape or size, or fears of fatness.” To understand ARFID, it is more than picky eating. An article titled, “6 Types of Lesser-Known Eating Disorders’’ and published by Monte Nido -- an eating disorder treatment center in the U.S. -- says that ARFID sufferers avoid certain foods because of “a severe aversion to the food’s flavor, texture or odor.” Likewise, “People with ARFID often have phobias about choking on certain foods or getting food poisoning or vomiting if they eat that food.” Commonly, the disorder begins in childhood and worsens over time if not treated. Even though ARFID is known for its rigidity of eating, the disorder can stem from OCD and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Traumatic situations such as abuse, a medical experience or illness, natural disasters and other events may display into ARFID, but is not the sole reason for its development.
EATING DISORDER STATS • Eating disorders affect at least 9% of the world population • Less than 6% of people with eating disorders are medically diagnosed as “underweight” • Eating disorders are amongst the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose • 10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of an eating disorder • 28-74% of risk for eating disorders is through genetic heritability • BIPOC with eating disorders are half as likely to be diagnosed or to receive treatment • Gender dysphoria and body dissatisfication in transgender people is often cited as a key link to eating disorders Source: National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
When society thinks about eating disorders, many tend to navigate to the consumption of food, and while that track isn’t incorrect, pica is a disorder where the obsession around food is not in the picture. In the same article titled, “6 Types of LesserKnown Eating Disorders,” it stated, “A person suffering from pica will routinely ingest items that are not considered food, with no nutritional or digestive value. Common things that are eaten in a case of pica might consist of rocks, dirt, hair, or paint chips.” Similar to other eating disorders, the root cause of pica has not been determined, but it may stem from mental health conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability or OCD; it may also stem from pregnancy due to the spontaneous cravings that may occur during the first trimester. Granted that the eating disorders mentioned above need more acknowledgement in terms of being represented correctly by their definitions, there are other disorders that need to be mentioned as well. Other eating disorders that need to be discussed more are but are not limited to is rumination disorder, in which food is regurgitated to be rechewed, reswallowed, or spat out; diabulimia, in which a diabetic uses insulin for weight loss; bigorexia, in which a severe preoccupation with the muscles of the body occurs; compulsive overeating, similar to BED but binging occurs all day long; drunkorexia, in which a person restricts their food intake and purges to “save calories’’ in order to drink alcohol; and pregorexia, in which a pregnant individual intentionally loses weight to avoid gaining weight from their pregnancy.
Factors in Development Eating disorders are very complex and misunderstood. What specific factors can cause someone to develop an eating disorder is still unknown. Many people who develop an eating disorder don’t have a specific reason or cause. However, there are some factors that doctors believe have an impact on the development of eating disor-
ders. Social media, genetic predisposition, psychological causes, trauma, and society’s values can all affect a person who develops an eating disorder.
When posting on social media, people tend to only display the best version of their life. Filters remove small imperfections and create a false reality. Social media only shows a small glimpse of one’s day, not the bigger picture of their lives and experiences. Many people are well aware of this yet they still can’t help but compare themselves to this “perfect” lie. As a society, we value small waists, a toned physique and becoming the leanest we can possibly be. With the help of filters and editing software, people can create an unrealistic version of their appearance online that fits society’s definition of beautiful. This creates a twisted understanding of what is normal or even realistic for viewers. It can lead a person to go to extremes to attain the unattainable.
While parents would never purposefully put their child at risk for developing an eating disorder, research has shown that genetic predisposition can put a person at risk. Also, the genetic body type of a family can affect the development of an eating disorder. Society’s idea of the ideal body shape or size may be unattainable depending on the genetics of a family.
Often eating disorders are correlated with a negative self-image, relationship with food, and negative body image. A personality trait that is often correlated with eating disorders is perfectionism. A perfectionist may feel the need to stick to strict rules when it comes to what they consume and over-emphasize the ideal body. If they don’t reach their goal they may be overly crucial or harsh on themselves. An individual might feel that the only thing they have control over in their life is their body, causing them to develop an eating disorder in an attempt to control their weight and image. Other psychological factors can be low self-esteem or a poor body image. Sometimes in an attempt to cope with stress a person can develop an eating disorder and bullying can also be a risk factor for developing an eating disorder.
Doctors believe that trauma can lead an individual to develop an eating disorder. One disorder that commonly coincides with eating disorders is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A person struggling with PTSD or any type of trauma is at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder. Eating disorder behaviors can develop as an attempt to cope with trauma. An individual that experienced trauma may try to find
control over their lives by being able to control their body. Eating Disorder Hope states, “It is also likely that experiences of trauma have fractured the relationship an individual has with their physical self, which might result in disconnection with the body including pain cues, hunger and fullness cues, or a relationship with the body at all. Individuals that have experienced trauma often report feeling that their body betrayed them or did not protect them, which can lead to treating the body with disregard and even disdain.”
Societal standards and environmental impacts
Societal standards and views of what is attractive, valuable, or even worthy can have a detrimental effect on an individual and increase their risk of developing an eating disorder. They may start to develop eating disorder behaviors in an attempt to comply with society’s values. Many societies overvalue thinness and being fit. Our society values thinness to an unhealthy extreme. Recently there have been attempts to change that but it will not be easy to change the idea that thinness equals healthy. One’s environment and the beliefs that one is raised with can also impact on their mental health. Those beliefs can resonate with them long after those beliefs have been proven false or the individual has left that environment. Strict rules about eating or toxic ideals with body image that was present in one’s childhood can affect them later in life and make them more likely to develop an eating disorder. The relationship one has with their parents and friends can also have an impact on their mental and physical health. An individual with parents or friends that were unsupportive or judgmental about body image and food intake may be at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder than one with a supportive, accepting family and friend environment. Criticism or negative comments from a loved one can trigger an eating disorder for someone who is already at risk.
Dieting and Insufficient E.D. Education Being Taught in Schools
In the United States alone, 30 million people are fighting their battles with an eating disorder alone or with the support of others; stated by Eating Disorder Hope. This type of mental illness affects every person differently, and can also be enhanced by the triggers that they may be susceptible to. Introducing this major issue experienced by many is an important part of our society and specifically our education system. Unfortunately, this had not yet become a sufficient reality. There also needs to be a focus on the fact that students are being taught so-called “healthy” eating habits that are causing det-
rimental issues when it comes to mealtime. Throughout the years schools have made an attempt at teaching the types of eating disorders and the common symptoms to be looking out for. In health class, you go through a series of these discussions. Teachers give definitions of the more well-known eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and orthorexia. Though they are exposing students to these disorders, a simple definition and a few possible symptoms of only the “common” eating disorders is not enough to gain the understanding of the different struggles that people may go through. It is comprehensible to say that there isn’t enough time during the school day to get through each eating disorder that someone may be struggling with, but it is more than doable to give a bit more context. In the classroom, we are taught that eating disorders have specific warning signs. Whether or not what is being taught is beneficial, this is a way of giving examples to students who may already be struggling. This topic needs to be carefully covered, and rather than giving specific signs to students, we should be discussing the different types of disorders. This could potentially give someone the idea that they have what the teacher is talking about, making them feel less alone. There should also be resources given to students during this course lesson other than the Eating Disorder Hotline. These resources could be types of therapy options, or people to talk to about their struggles. This is a topic that needs to be taken much more seriously. The lack of attention to these disorders isn’t the only issue in regards to teaching eating habits. Schools teach a course that is mandatory for graduation credits having to do with living a “healthy” lifestyle. As described in “Are School Health Lessons Harming Kids?” by U.S. News, we are learning “disordered eating practices disguised as health behaviors in a required school lesson.” Weight is a subject that teachers push on students involving what is and is not a “healthy” weight. This course leaves an indent in kids’ brains about whether or not they are living well enough and taking care of their bodies based on their size. This is considered a blatant lesson that can leave students feeling as though because they are bigger or smaller than the person next to them, they are unhealthy. As described in the same article by U.S. News, “When kids judge other kids, we call it bullying. When adults do it, we call it ‘health.’” NEDA has found a few ways to help our education system begin to rethink its teachings. For example, there is an “Educator Toolkit” located on their website which is described as “a resource for educators, staff who work in a school setting, and those who work with youth outside of school.” This was created to help teachers gain a better understanding of how they should be educating their students on such serious topics. It also gives them a chance to recognize the ways
that young people are being affected. There are also educational brochures that are available digitally with the same purpose. The way our education system is teaching students about “warning signs” of common eating disorders and the way to live a “healthy” lifestyle is only harming our youth. Rather than trying to rush through a lesson before the bell rings, maybe we should stop and consider how talking about probable struggles can be affecting students regarding their mental state and the way they view themselves on a daily basis.
Resources and Treatment
A reality for eating disorder sufferers is that they painfully fight their battles in silence. An article titled, “The Silent Suffering of Eating Disorders” published by Psychology Today --a website that focuses on psychology and human behavior -- and written by Ken J. Rotenberg, states, “These patterns are presumably part of the shame that people with eating disorders experience regarding their eating behavior.” The patterns include a lack of trust for others, refusing to open up as a way of shielding oneself and embarrassment of their disorder. Even if it may be difficult to reach out for help, there are resources that specialize in treating eating disorders as well as professionals that know how to assist someone in an effective, nonjudgmental way. A local medical clinic here in Lincoln on 3100 O Street, Hope Healthcare, focuses on treating eating disorders through individualized treatment plans created by the medical provider, dietician, and therapists there. Co-founder, Kim Waters, established the clinic after her experiences with eating disorders, and recognizes what is the most helpful for patients. Making a phone call and acknowledging that a problem exists is difficult, but to those who are wishing to receive help, the clinic’s phone number is (402) 419-3553. A few other resources include Sage Nutrition who work with eating disorders located in Lincoln on 2917 Pine Lake Rd. with the number (866-818-7481). You can also visit the website Psychology Today where you can search for therapists who specialize in eating disorders in your area. The harm of an eating disorder can affect anyone. It is important to try and understand the unknown behind eating disorders and the effects they can have on anyone struggling to fight their mind. Everyone deserves the help they need as well as realize they are not alone in their battle to health.
Online Resources • National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) • Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) • The Body Positive • Eating Disorder Hope • National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) • The Eating Disorder Foundation, Denver, Colorado • Eating Disorders Information Network • Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association, Inc. (MEDA) • Eating Disorders Resources Center (EDRC) Source: Eating Recovery Center
Is the high school experience worth the money ? Angel Paz | Staff Writer
Graphic created with Canva
Having the “full high school experience” is expensive, and most American teens cannot afford to do it all. Within the public school system are hidden costs that can quickly add up, forcing many families to choose what they spend their money on. To start, there are the obvious costs. Necessary school supplies such as pens, folders, notebooks, and calculators can be costly, especially for families with multiple children. According to a 2021 article from The Washington Post about the skyrocketing cost of school supplies, in 2020 parents spent an average of $529 per child on school supplies, even with many students at home in remote schools. Even a backpack can come with a costly price tag. Some brands, such as North Face and Herschel, can set a student back $100. And, if you want to participate in an athletic activity, you better be ready to throw down some serious cash. LSE freshman Christian Zuniga is on the football, wrestling and soccer teams. Zuniga believes that after buying the gear and the tickets for all the sporting events, he is down about 400 dollars. Zuniga says that even though it is costly, he is glad that he joined these teams because he gained a lot of experience, made friends, and was able to represent his school. In addition to athletics, the LSE Spirit Squads also have pricey gear that they need to purchase to be able to participate. Sophomore Alexis Swanson is a member of the Shirettes Dance Team and said it’s hard to say how much she has spent as there are so many different expenses. For example, members of the team have to buy poms, team shoes, uniforms, a jacket, and their backpack. Outside of that, they have to provide jazz shoes, if needed, and also have to pay for lipstick and game day hair and makeup supplies, spirit gifts, team dinners, team bonding activities and more. In spite of the costs, Swanson says it is worth it. “It helps you make new friendships and you connect with [your teammates] in different ways.” Swanson believes a team is a large support group who can help you whenever you need it and being part of a sport helps bring you closer to your school and also show school spirit. Kendy Bham (9) is part of band, volleyball and Student Council. Bham says between buying T-shirts, paying $100 for the volleyball season and paying for other school activities, she thinks she has spent around $400 to $300. I love being a part of a band, STUCO, and volleyball,” Bham said. She believes that you can gain friendships, as well as time management and partnership skills if you join a sport or a school activity.
Other obvious costs include the events that students can attend throughout their time in high school. Two include the formal events such as Homecoming and Prom. According to Thehustle.com article titled “High school prom are getting extremely expensive” author Zachary Crokett writes that based on recent data (compiled by Visa in 2015), the average prom attendee spends $919 on tickets, dresses and tuxes, haircuts, shoes, jewelry, makeup, manicures, corsages, tanning, transportation and dinner. Crockett goes on to write that the average middle-income family spends $234k rasing a kid from 0 to 17. At the amount of $919, prom take away about 0.4% of that entire 17-year cost. The final formal event that is much more costly than one may imagine is graduation. Not only do students look forward to receiving their diploma, many also can’t wait for the celebrations. High school graduation parties have evolved into a celebration of accomplishment for many students. Owen Anthony (12) said he spent $114 for his cap and gown, but was okay with that cost. “I think that graduation is important because it illustrates your accomplishments and shows your progression.” As for the graduation party, Anthony thinks the cost spent $1000 on his graduation party. High school is also a place where students can earn college credit through Advanced Placement class. According to a US Today article titled “How Much Does it Cost to Get Your Kid into College”, author Charisse Jones found that the SAT or the Act prep courses can cost up to $1,000. Jones also wrote that one-on-one coaching can range from $50 to $100 per hour and can be different according to what part of the country you live in. This time of year is stressful for many students, especially for those who are taking the Advanced Placement exams. In an article titled “How much does it cost to take the ACT in 2022” published on the website of tutoring company Soflu Tutors, author Becky Rosen writes that “if you want to register to take the ACT without the writing portion of the exam, it would cost $55. This test has English, math, reading and science sections”. High school is also the time where many teenagers learn how to drive and work up toward getting a Learner permit and then a driver license .
It’s worth it... It helps you make new friendships and you connect with [your teammates] in different ways - Alexis Swanson
According to an article from 4 Auto Insurance Quote’s website, author Rachel Bodline writes that “if you are trying to buy your own car insurance policy you should expect to pay between $7,600 and $9,000 per year for car insurance or about $630 to $750 per month”. In addition to insurance on a vehicle, students are also paying for gas to commute to and from school, along as well as events and activities. According to an article by the Sun Chronicle, Olivia Studley foudn that teengers use on average 143 gallons of gasoline per year. At current prices, about $3.50 per gallon, that costs teenagers $500 a year. High school can be expensive, but there are many different resources for students to help them pay for different activities. One resource is the Fee Authorization Act, which allows fee waivers for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Fee waivers give qualifying students the right to not have to pay certain student fees and to be provided with specialized materials for equipment to participate in certain activities. If you want more information about fee waivers, contact your school counselor.
Gotta Go Opinion: Students should be able to Go to The Bathroom Whenever They Need Maren Steinke | Staff Writer Graphic by: Zainib Al-Jayashi
Between the teen vaping epidemic sweeping the nation, vandalism incited by social media (we all remember Devious Licks), and general boredom stemming from not-so-fun classes, school staff aren’t totally in the wrong for restricting bathroom visits. But when concerning a subject as sensitive as a restroom rendezvous, people may just have to accept that while many students may abuse their bathroom rights, it’s not okay for teachers and administrators to prevent kids from going to the bathroom. In a survey of 77 Lincoln Southeast High School (LSE) students, 78.9 percent say passing periods at LSE aren’t long enough for students to go to the bathroom and still make it to class on time. 79.2 percent don’t support the “First 10 Last 10” rule, which deters students from leaving class to go to the bathroom in the first and last ten minutes of their classes. But there is reasoning behind teachers saying no when a student asks to go to the bathroom. Even some students agree that many kids leave class under a restroom ruse to spend time on their phones, talking to friends, etc. 25 percent of respondents in the survey agreed that the majority of kids who leave class to go to the bathroom do so to skip class. “The student expectation is, you go in, you go to the bathroom, and you leave,” LSE administrator Crystal Folden said. “It’s not a place to hang out and loiter. When students understand that being out of [class] really does negatively impact them, people follow those expectations.” When students follow expectations and rules regarding leaving class, that’s when some teachers have chosen to loosen restrictions, such as allowing them to go to the bathroom without asking or letting more than one student go at once. While the principle idea of having kids understand that leaving class can negatively impact them makes sense, it’s difficult to get a group of 2530 people on the same page. And that’s when things get tricky. Most students leave class after asking to go to the bathroom to do exactly that. Some students leave class because they need a break from being in an environment with that many people. School is a very public place and some people may need a break from being under constant observation of their peers. Some students may need to take a few minutes to themselves if they are struggling with anxiety, stress, or upsetting situations.
The bathrooms may be the only private place a student can access during the school day, and everyone should have access to such a place when they’re at school for 6+ hours a day. Others choose to leave class simply to skip. Teachers and administrators can’t control how a student uses their bathroom privileges, but those who do skip class should understand how their actions affect others. Students who actually need to go to the bathroom can’t because passes are in use, and those who choose to spend their freedom in the handicapped stalls negatively impact those who need to use them, as Mackenzie Hovland (11) pointed out in her survey response.
When students understand that being out of class really does negatively impact them, people follow those expectations.
- Crystal Folden
“I am in a wheelchair and people skip class in the handicapped stall all the time. It’s ableist as they take the resources I need. . . only use it if all stalls are taken. I am begging for people to stop skipping in the stall,” Hovland said. Even if some students choose to skip class by going to the bathroom, teachers still shouldn’t be allowed to bar students from going to the bathroom. Using the restroom is a medical need, and asking kids to hold it can be mentally and physically damaging. While controlled passing periods and rules seeking to keep kids in class make sense, it’s difficult for students to put their needs on hold. In fact, not letting a kid go to the bathroom during class so that they don’t miss important information can be counterintuitive because we all know it’s hard to focus on anything when one needs to go. Students shouldn’t be expected to ignore their medical needs in lieu--, or loo (pun intended)--, of their education. A 2019 Atlantic article titled, “The Tyranny of School Bathrooms,” illustrates this point simply by saying, “Treating bathroom use as a discipline
issue can have serious health implications, especially when a kid needs to go, but can’t.” Encouraging students to “hold it” can damage nerves and cause symptoms that can lead to an acutely dysfunctional bladder. And then there’s the issue of students on their period. It’s safe to assume that roughly half of the students and staff at LSE menstruate. When one doesn’t have access to a bathroom when it’s that time of the month, it can be very stressful, anxiety-inducing and sucky. Menstruation isn’t a choice, but it is a very taboo topic in our society. While that isn’t something that can be fixed in a day, schools can do better when dealing with periods. 80.3 percent of survey respondents supported free menstrual products in bathrooms, but there is no current policy in Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) concerning free period supplies in bathrooms. According to an article published by the Society For Women’s Health Research’s interdisciplinary network on urological health in women, “When students do not have access to menstrual products, they may be forced to miss class, negatively affecting their education, or to use the same sanitary product for a long period of time, which can result in health issues such as yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and, in rare cases, toxic shock syndrome.” So what can we do to support the community of people who menstruate? First, teachers and students shouldn’t question a student for taking their backpack to the bathroom. Many people feel uncomfortable grabbing a pad and waltzing to the bathroom in front of 20 other people. Donating menstrual products to a teacher’s supply if they have one is another great idea, or adding to the boxes that are sometimes in bathrooms. And if we want to get really crazy, one survey respondent even suggested “[hiring] bathroom attendant who hands out mints and tampons.” All in all, students, staff and administrators need to make everyone at LSE feel comfortable during the school day by assuring access to bathrooms and menstrual products to all people when they need them. Even though it is impossible to ensure that everyone follows all school rules, when these instances concern students going to the bathroom, it should be a rule of thumb throughout schools to assume that students have the best intentions.
Leaving on a Good Note
An interview with Missy Noonan, Retiring lse Choir Teacher Ksenia Gevorkova | Online Editor Maren Steinke | Staff Writer
Q: What is your name? A: Missy Noonan Q: How long have you been teaching at Southeast? A: I student-taught at Southeast in 1988 and started teaching here in 1990. Q: Did you enjoy teaching at Southeast, why or why not? A: I have loved teaching at Southeast! There were some days (back in the day) when we didn’t have air conditioning or hot water in the bathrooms that the thought of teaching at another school went through my mind. However, the students always kept me here. I have always loved the students, staff, and philosophy of our music program. We believe that every student matters and that what we learn and create each day can be empowering and transformative. Q: What do you believe has been the most rewarding experience at Southeast? A: While rehearsals and performances are always amazing experi-
ences, I think it is the small, daily things that are the most rewarding… kindnesses toward each other, group successes, individual successes, emotional connections to music and each other, inclusivity, and spontaneous moments. Q: What will you miss the most? A: Without a doubt, I will miss the choir students and my performing arts colleagues and friends! Oh, and creamed turkey!
What Students Have to Say About Noonan
Q: What do you hope for all the future students involved in vocal performance at Southeast? A: My hope is that vocal students realize that choir gives them opportunity to grow individually but also to contribute to a group collaboration that is bigger than themselves. Singing is a life-long gift and should continue after high school. Everyone has a voice and that voice is important…in choir and in life!
Noonan has always been kind, welcoming, and caring. She made me feel safe and loved the second I got to know her. Noonan will never be forgotten and we will miss her tremendously.
Q: What are your future plans beyond retirement? A: Living life with no bells! I am looking forward to unstructured time with family, hobbies, travel, and working on projects around the house. I have a home decorating blog that I started during the pandemic that has grown and evolved into an actual business. With retirement, I can spend more time on creating content and building the business.
She has made such a big impact on all of us, we wouldn’t be the same without her. Love you Noonan!
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add? A: I am so grateful for my years at Southeast High. I want to thank students, staff, parents, and friends (past and present!) for a truly special and rewarding career! I love you, Southeast!
Mrs. Noonan is my favorite teacher. She is always positive and extremely caring. I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to be her student!
Photo by: Nicole Tinius
Graphics by: Georgia Wood
Graphic by: Zainib Al-Jayashi
MONEY TALKS The Issues with the Extensive Cost of Therapy Carmin Sims | Opinion Editor
Graphic by: Zainib Al-Jayashi Mental health is a factor in almost everyone’s lives. Whether it’s someone struggling with their own issues, or someone else who is a part of their life. These health problems don’t have quick fixes, and on the contrary can require great lengths of help from people who are able to walk you through recovery. Unfortunately this type of help isn’t always affordable for everyone who needs it. More often than not, therapy costs override the need for mental guidance. Even if you know that you need help and are willing to receive it, the high price of a well-trained therapist can cease that opportunity. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most common types of therapy for mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse. In this type of session the therapist will talk their patient through the issues they are experiencing and offer possible coping skills. They will introduce changes in both thinking and behavioral patterns. In most cases a session of this form of therapy is expected to cost from 34 $100 to $200.
Ashleigh Clayton, junior at Lincoln Southeast Highschool, has had her own struggles with finding affordable therapy. She has also found it difficult to find a therapist who helps her in the way that she needs. “We went to several different therapists and they were too expensive,” Clayton (11) said. “I only actually ever went to one therapist, but we definitely were not wanting to go there for a while because they were so expensive.” Finding therapy within a reasonable price range does not only have to do with the type of therapist being paid for, but the location of the therapist as well. Depending on where the patient or the therapist lives the price may be higher due to the state of the economy. The specialization of the therapist can also unfortunately harm the affordability of a session. Depending on the education needed for each disorder specialization, the price could be raised based on training. This will also affect the amount of time spent per session, or amount of sessions. The longer the therapy session, the more the patient can expect to pay. “With the therapist I know it was
like, a couple hundred dollars every time. I just talked to her for like, 20 minutes,” Clayton said. Luckily for some, insurance can help reduce the cost. Due to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), insurance has been made helpful in affording the expenses following a therapy session. Passed in 2014, also known as “Obamacare,” this act was meant to
It’s hard trying to find someone that works, someone who can actually help. - Ashleigh Clayton (11)
make healthcare more affordable and accessible to Americans without it. This also stretched out to mental health patients. Not only were adults with mental health struggles being helped, but there was also an extension to young adults. Some states have decided to remove themselves from being under the law’s expansion of Medicaid, leaving those who live in said states a lack of health coverage. Continued coverage is not guaranteed for everyone. Some forms of mental illness need further help than a therapy session. When clients are sent to in-patient treatment, they are kept in a hospital or medical center in order to get extended and more detailed help than in an average therapy session. Hospitalization and residential treatment are the two types of inpatient treatment. When someone is hospitalized, it usually occurs after a mental health crisis, leading the patient to need medical care. The patient will usually stay either overnight or a series of nights to rehabilitate. They then leave with options of out-patient therapy given by doctors at the hospital. Before any form of insurance, a typical overnight stay can cost between $6,000 and $9,000. Insurance doesn’t always help in these high-priced instances. Inadequate provider networks can cause patients to lose the chance of a valid price and the immediate help they may need. Insurers need a prominent amount of in-network workers in order to cover a certain necessity. For example, mental health doesn’t always fall under this category. In certain places around the country, there aren’t an “adequate” amount of mental health care professionals in order to put it under insurance coverage. This not only retains the large expense, but creates a new problem in which the client has to find help outside of their location. Insurance companies also usually have requirements on the type and level of illness that the patient is facing. This often leaves patients who don’t fit the “criteria” of depression, anxiety, or substance abuse without a way to pay for the help they need. This is also why many people with mental illness do not believe their struggles are severe enough to even need the help they deserve. Because of this, patients often do
not get the proper help that they need. It can be very difficult for people to find a therapist who can help them and their individual struggles. Whether it’s experience, training, or location, a good therapist can be hard to find. “It’s (hard) trying to find someone that works,” Clayton said. “Like, someone who actually can help.” This issue has affected people struggling with mental illness for years. There are a few possible solutions that don’t involve insurance or an extensive cost, though they may be difficult to find. Some are given the opportunity of a private pay depending on the therapist. This means that the patient will be paying directly through the therapy organization per session. This gives the client the ability to continue therapy sessions at a steady price. It also allows them to stay with the same therapist rather than having to find a new one who takes their insurance. “For clients without insurance, we do what’s called a private pay rate which is just saying, ‘okay you’re not using insurance, here’s the fixed rate that you are gonna pay per session,’’’ Leslie Walker, therapist at Hope Healthcare said. “We try to make that pretty comprable to what someone would be left with if they had an insurance plan.” This type of payment may still be too high of a price for many to pay. Community counseling centers may be the best option in this scenario. Universities often have students who are well enough into their training program to give a form of therapy to people struggling with mental illness who still cannot pay the expenses of a professional therapist. In most universities your tuition could also pay for any counseling covering crisis, eating disorder treatment, substance abuse, and informal consultations. “When I was in grad school we had a counsel-
ing clinic where we charged ten dollars,” Walker said. “It’s students doing the counseling, but we’re far enough in our program that it’s better than nothing. There are places like that around as well that will do essentially free counseling.” There are many issues that occur when someone is trying to find counseling or therapy. It can be hard for some to even get out of bed in the morning due to their depressive state, which could make the idea of having to pay an expensive price for the therapy that they need feel much too distant. Therapy has been made a luxury rather than a necessity. This financial burden should not be put on anyone. There are a few ways around this, though they may be a bit more difficult to find, that can hopefully help someone be put on the road to recovery.
Sent Away Pulling back the Curtain on the “troubled teen” industry Chloe Fitzgibbon | Copy Editor
Editor’s note: Anne is a pseudonym [a fictitious name], and Eliza’s first name only is used for the privacy of their families At 6 a.m. on May 14, 2020, Anne (12) was sleeping soundly when two strangers entered her room, turned on the lights and said, “We’re taking you to Utah.” Without knowing it, she was being “gooned.” This is the term used to describe the legal kidnapping of a person who is to be escorted to a therapeutic or recovery program. Still unaware of what was occuring, Anne was brought to the airport and told that she could call her mom when she arrived in Utah. “I didn’t get to say goodbye to any of my friends or my parents,” Anne said, who was a sophomore in high school at the time. “And the lady lied to me; I did not get to call my mom when I got there.”
After the long plane ride, during which she was able to come to terms with where she might be heading, the two strangers dropped Anne off at a “Wilderness Therapy Program” in Utah. Most wilderness therapy programs define themselves as a mental health treatment strategy that helps adolescents
experiencing maladaptive behaviors by providing challenging outdoor experiences along with therapy. Some mental health professionals, though, claim these programs have found “loopholes” in order to avoid regulation. “[The programs] call themselves wilderness therapy or come up with their own categories so they can avoid the criteria that would apply to, for example, a mental health treatment facility,” Child Psychologist Nicki Bush told The Atlantic in 2014. “Then because they’re not regulated, no one is really ensuring their staff has adequate training, and in many cases we’ve seen, the staff are by no means qualified to provide the type of care that is being advertised and certainly not the type of care that these facilities require.” Upon arrival, those attending the program are sent to-- as Anne says they called it-- “get outfitted.” She was given two pairs of pants, two shirts and a week’s worth of underwear that she would have to make do with until the start of another week. Then, they were given their backpacks. “Now these backpacks literally
weigh like 60-70 pounds, mind you I’ve never hiked before so I’m like, what is going on?” Anne said. “I think I still have stretch marks on my back from my backpack.” Anne says she was then given a food ration for the week-- the majority of it dehydrated so she could prepare it herself-which typically consisted of rice, oatmeal, beans, a jar of peanut butter for protein, a bag of trail mix and a couple of noodle packets. However, says Anne, the noodles were not your typical ramen noodles, but instead, “the gross ones.” “We had to get our water from the lake and put bleach in it to clean it,” she said. “We’d go to the guides and they’d put our drops of bleach in our water and we wouldn’t be able to drink it for 30 minutes.” Anne says their time for showering was once a week, five minutes. “I just remember the water was brown,” she said. The counselors made it known that if a shower was over five minutes, there would be a punishment, but Anne says she never got to find out since she made sure to always be quick.
“It was just so dehumanizing,” she said, comparing the constant orders to being rounded up like a herd of cattle. After two months of attending wilderness therapy, Anne was to be picked up by her parents. She says the program made sure every time a person was set to leave, they were showered and well groomed. Reflecting on her stay, Anne says she thinks the wilderness program had some benefits. All throughout her freshman and sophomore year, she says she was having problems with substance use, and wilderness therapy helped with this. “It scared me enough to get sober,” she said. “I wasn’t doing hard drugs, just smoking weed, an immense amount; There was not a time where I wasn’t high. I don’t remember things from freshman through sophomore year.” As a result of her wilderness experience, she learned coping mechanisms that were different from ones she had previously used, and she realized she could do things that she never knew she could. “I haven’t smoked in two years. That’s how I used to cope with my anxiety,” she said. She says the experience created a mindset for her that helps with anxious feelings. “Like if I can do all the s**t that I did the year of 2020, I could give this class presentation, things like that. I try to think of it in a more positive way,” she said. Not everyone gets gooned. The tactic is typically only used for those who are resistant to being sent to these programs. But in Eliza’s experience, she decided to go willingly on advice from an “education consultant” who was highly recommended to her parents. For Eliza, her stay at the program-which was the same location as Anne’s-has more negative feelingsW connected to it than Anne’s for one big reason: Eliza attended the program through the winter. In her time at wilderness therapy, she was forced to endure freezing temperatures, hike on icy terrain and suffer great illness. Since Eliza began the program in the fall, she was issued the fall clothing due to her arrival time and was never given some of the items issued for winter. “The coldest it got was on New Year’s Eve. It was negative 15,” she said. The frigid weather was dangerous.
Eliza and the other attendees were often given time to journal.
“The girl who I rode [to the program] with, she got frostbite and almost lost one of her toes,” she said. “And they didn’t take her to the doctor.” According to Eliza, many would try to run at night, and the guides would follow them, but not interfere until necessary. However, they could not access their shoes after bedtime, so they would be barefoot. She heard horror stories about people getting frost bite when they ran away barefoot in the middle of the night. “And the people would just watch them until it was critical, to prove they shouldn’t [run],” she said. Additionally, when Eliza was “getting outfitted,” she says despite not having any history of drug use, she was strip searched [the act of searching someone for concealed items, typically drugs or weapons, in a way that involves the removal of all their clothes] with the door wide open. At one point, she became quite ill, yet was not allowed to visit a doctor until she passed out from hitting her head on a rock while hiking. Eliza says the program took thousands of pictures throughout the time spent there, but only the photos where she was smiling, or didn’t look visibly upset, were sent home to her parents. Additionally, privacy was not taken into consideration when sending these photos home. “The photos were available to every-
body, even if your child wasn’t in them,” she said. This detail concerned Eliza because it gave others the opportunity to exploit these photos without their permission, if they chose to do so. Eliza says that-- similar to Anne-“resilience” was also one of the positives she experienced from wilderness therapy. “I had really bad anxiety,” she said. “The beginning of sophomore year I stopped going in-person because I was having panic attacks in every single class.” After the wilderness program however, Eliza realized these feelings were no longer as pressing of an issue. “Way worse things were happening so I had to deal with that,” she said. “So then I came back and I was like ‘Oh, that doesn’t make me anxious anymore.’ That was the only good thing though.” Eliza recognizes that although her stay was not pleasant whatsoever, she may have had it better than some because she believes the wilderness program she attended was a lot safer than others she’s heard about.
Statistics derived from breakingcodesilence.org
“We always went back to get food restock at the hill,” she said. “But most other [programs], you have to hike to, and if you don’t make it to the point, you just don’t get more food.”
Eliza and her best friend from the program taking a break while on a hike.
Therapeutic boarding schools and “The Ranch”
For both Anne and Eliza, wilderness therapy was just the beginning. Their next destinations are where most of their negative feelings towards the “Troubled Teen” Industry were fostered. Vox reported on the industry in an article titled “I went into the woods a teenage drug addict and came out sober. Was it worth it?” According to the story, those who run these programs hire transporters and “education consultants” to “exert tremendous pressure on transitioning children from wilderness directly into a therapeutic boarding school regardless of the child’s progress in wilderness,” all for the money. “Yeah, or else ‘it doesn’t work,’” Eliza said, quoting what she had been told as the reason for attending a second program. Anne attended a Ranch also located in Utah, and Eliza went to a therapeutic boarding school-- two institutions with similar missions. If “The Ranch” sounds familiar, it may be due to the common “solution” prescribed to patients who go on the televised therapy talk show, “Dr. Phil.” The Internet Star Danielle Bregoli, aka Bhad Bhabie, who first gained her popularity from the show, was ordered to attend one of these locations after additionally being sent to a wilderness therapy program prior. Anne says the Ranch was actually “right down the street from Bhad Bhabie’s ranch.” According to Anne, the Ranch was not originally built to become a mental health facility. “The Ranch was an old guy’s mansion and he had houses for each of his kids. And that’s where we stayed, those were our cabins,” she said. “I think his kids sold the Ranch to [the current owner of the Ranch], and then decided to do whatever came out of that.” At the Ranch, Anne says privileges are awarded in phases, starting from orientation phase where students cannot stand
within arms length of a staff member, yet have to always be visible by the staff when using the facilities. Anne says that as a student shows good behavior, the restrictions begin to loosen and they are allowed special “privileges,” such as being allowed to eat whenever one wants to. “And then phase three, you can finally wear makeup, jewelry and curl or straighten your hair. And you can wear a backpack to school. Because those are privileges. And it’s a privilege to not be arms length and take a s**t by yourself,” Anne said. The goal for everyone was to reach the highest possible phase. Anne compares it to “a game.” Anne says they would sometimes have therapy sessions, but they were hardly beneficial. And aside from the therapists, the workers who the teens were around the most, were not qualified to deal with mental health. “The staff were college students,” she said. “Not like certified therapists or whatever. They were just the staff.” Anne says the Ranch preached structure and neatness, and that she was punished for minor details. “I put my towel in the hamper, and the corner was hanging off the hamper. I got in trouble for that,” she said. If there is a violation of rules, privileges are revoked. The SOS level, though Anne is unsure what it stands for, was basically a removal of all privileges. “You’re not allowed to talk on SOS which is just, again, dehumanizing. Like, freedom of speech, I can talk if I want,” she said. Meals, according to Anne, were not enjoyable, and left her and the other students ravenous. “I kid you not, every morning we got
scrambled eggs. They weren’t even real eggs. They were like the prison eggs, the powdered ones, so they were actually nasty,” she said. Anne says the portions were much too small to satisfy her hunger. “I’m a tall girl, I need to eat more than other people. I don’t eat the same as this little 13-year-old sitting across from me that’s like 5’2,” she said. Aside from measly portions of unappealing food, Anne would often receive a small nighttime snack of trail mix or the cheese and peanut butter crackers called Munchies, as well as occasional apples. Anne says that students would apply for certain jobs such as the “kitchen manager,” which meant a single student in charge of food order. “[The kitchen manager] would always forget to put in food orders so sometimes I wouldn’t even get my apples,” she said. Anne says there was one cafeteria worker who went by the name of “Mama.” “Everyone would try to be nice to her because she decides what we eat. So every time we walk into the dining hall we’d be like ‘Hey, Mama!’” Anne said. Although Anne was allowed to wear the clothes of her choice, she says the dress code was strict. “The shorts had to be knee-length. So on my little two-day break from wilderness to the Ranch, guess where I went? I went to Dick’s and got myself some boy shorts,” Anne said. Anne says during her stay at the Ranch, she saw things she “didn’t need to see.” At these two locations, both Anne and Eliza witnessed others self-harming, or even attempting to take their own lives. Eliza describes the staff at her boarding school as “neglectful,” saying they hardly interfered unless necessary. At times when others were having traumatic flashbacks or panic attacks, the teens were not allowed to help due to a “no interference policy” set in place by the staff, and would get in trouble if they did help. “We all knew how to deal with it since we’d all seen it enough times, so we’d be able to calm them down,” she said. “But the staff would be like, ‘You can’t do that.’”
Impact on mental health and relationships
Throughout the course of the experience, Anne says she struggled to find a way to communicate what she was experiencing with her loved ones. But once she had returned home permanently, Anne was able to finally come forward and talk to her family about it. “I told them everything because I trust my parents. And I don’t blame them, they had no idea,” she said. “They told me I was going to a therapeutic boarding school, which is what they thought it was.” Eliza says she and her family, too, were not well informed about the programs beforehand. “The website makes it look like a summer camp,” she said. Additionally, she says the “Educational Consultant”-- whom Eliza and her family had greatly put their trust in due to others’ positive regard for him-- had told them that any negative reviews online were children who had just not wanted to be sent away. “To a parent, that probably sounds kind of legit,” she said. Eliza and Anne both believe the staff appeared to mostly have good intentions. “Some of the staff think they’re doing a good thing; like they’re trying to help,” Anne said. But despite their efforts, Eliza thinks they just “did not understand enough to be effective,” due to the fact that most of them had never dealt with mental illness before. Eliza thinks that not only was it a difficult situation for her and the other people attending the programs, but it was emotionally taxing on the workers, as well. “A lot of them ended up quitting when I was there,” she said. “One guide… I would cry and talk to her and she then quit the next week.” Anne believes the owners of the programs are the ones responsible and who should be held accountable. “The people that are to blame are those corporations. They need to realize there’s other ways. You don’t have to dehumanize kids that already don’t think they’re worthy of anything.” Eliza believes the industry is only there for making money, and its efforts
are not sincere in trying to help children. “I think it just puts everyone in a bad situation except for the execs that are making money off of it,” she said. With a couple hundred dollars in fees per day, and the $1,000 worth of gear they receive, the guides and workers at these programs are still not greatly paid. According to Ziprecruiter, the national average pay of a wilderness Therapy guide is $16 an hour, and Indeed says a Direct Care Worker at the Ranch Anne attended makes $11.96. Eliza thinks the rest of the money is being pocketed by the business owners. She says the wilderness program even provided a “discount,” which allowed for the price to decrease each day in order to prevent parents from pulling their children. Returning home after a long period of being MIA from normal life is another situation Eliza and Anne had to face. Eliza says becoming a social outcast was “probably the hardest thing” that came out of the experience. “I came back from this terrible thing and then I was like ‘Oh my friends are going to hang out with me, this is going to be fun,’” Eliza said. But instead, it was actually the opposite. She says a lot of her friends thought she was “ghosting” them because of her abrupt disappearance from their lives, and as a result did not have any friends for the entirety of the summer when she returned.
Graphic by Chelsea Filer
Eliza says that certain sensory information-- mostly auditory-- will give her flashbacks. “Sometimes I get triggered, but not super bad,” she said. “The main thing is songs because the guides would play them when we were driving across the interstate. So there’s certain songs that when I hear them I freak out.” She believes that trauma does not always develop immediately, and the effects of the situation may not be realized until years after the experience occurred. “It’s such a shock,” Eliza said. “I think it didn’t hit one of my good friends until last month, and it’s been over a year.”
The “Troubled Teen” Industry and #BreakingCodeSilence
The programs attended by both Eliza and Anne fall underneath the category of what’s called the “Troubled Teen” Industry, which is made up of “a network of private youth programs, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, religious academies, wilderness programs, and drug rehabilitation centers,” which date back at least 50 years, according to American Bar Association. Eliza believes this idea of the “troubled teen” is not always the correct label to use. “So the traditional sense of a ‘troubled teen’ [those who participate in reckless behavior that risks the safety of themselves or others]-- that’s maybe 10 percent of the people who are actually in the industry,” she said.
One of the many photos taken of Eliza during her time at wilderness therapy.
She says the majority of the people are simply just traumatized, sad or anxious, and some don’t have any problems whatsoever. Eliza thinks the root of these negative behaviors may be some of these common mental disorders that could be solved with something as basic as regular talk therapy. She also thinks rather than trying to “fix” someone, rehabilitation programs should put an emphasis on healing. “Any real therapist would say there’s no fixing you. You have to live with it everyday,” Eliza said. She says educating more people on mental illness is the only way to improve these programs because many often don’t understand other people’s mental health struggles, let alone their own. “And so they are mean to [people who struggle with mental illness], or they don’t get it,” she said. “So I think teaching people from a young age is important.” Eliza believes these programs derive their “therapy” methods from the misattribution of where the behavioral issues are really stemming from. “Starting in elementary school, we villainize substance abuse, which I think teaches people from a young age that people who abuse substances are evil, which is not true because most of the time it’s a coping mechanism,” she said. Eliza thinks that, for therapy, one size does not fit all. Therefore, creating one solution for a wide range of problems is not always what’s effective. “I had a lot of similar issues to a lot of people who were there. But someone who has the exact same diagnoses can have a completely different life,” she said. “Each person is so different to understand, and I think insurance, government, society…[puts] everything into a single group.” Anne and Eliza acknowledge there are some people who have good experiences, and there are positives that come out of these programs. “Everyone experiences things differently, and I don’t want people to change their perception of the experience,” Eliza said. However, for many, that has not always been the case. “99.9 percent of people I know would rate it from bad to a very bad experience,” Eliza said.
And people are speaking out about these bad experiences. The organization Breaking Code Silence was formed in 2014 as a “collaboration of advocacy groups to encourage survivors of institutional abuse to share their stories.” To share their experiences, people can use the hashtag #BreakingCodeSilence on social media posts, with “Code Silence” referencing the often-used punishment of not being allowed to speak, previously mentioned by Anne. The purpose of it is for “encouraging alumni of the ‘Troubled Teen’ Industry to share testimonials online,” according to the New York Post. On Nov. 16, 2021, Eliza decided to finally speak out about her experience on social media with #BreakingCodeSilence. She says leading up to the post, she had become a victim of a multitude of false rumors about where she had gone off to, and she was determined to clear it up. Another reason was because she wanted to provide a space for others with similar experiences to feel comfortable enough to reach out to her, or also speak up. “I think it was kind of a way to get it out there because I know more people than you would think who went through similar things,” she said. Since Anne got back from Utah, she has buried the experience in order to protect herself from what her peers would think of her. “I just tried to kind of block it out because I don’t want to think about it,” Anne said. “And I don’t want people to see me as ‘the girl that got sent away,’ because that’s not me, and I also don’t want people to see me as the person I was before I got sent away because I wasn’t myself.”
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