FROM LASA TO ETHIOPIA (AND BACK)
Students in the Wicked Problem Project, an elective focused on addressing issues that plague society. Senior Jack Kappleman founded education-focused charity One Mind at a Time last year and went to Ethiopia over winter break. photo courtesy of One Mind at a Time
see page 6
BACK ON TRACK
LIBERATOR GOES LIVE ONLINE
Junior Yaseen Abdalla won the two-mile race at the Temple Track Relays this March. Abdalla, along with the rest of the track team, has high hopes for upcoming meets after an extremely successful season last year, with multiple runners advancing to states and medalling. photo by Sarah Porter
The Liberator has a new website! At lasaliberator.com readers can find all our normal content, including stories and photos, plus exclusive web content. Archives of past Liberator stories, photos and PDFs will be available online soon. graphic by Kye Fisher
see page 11
Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School April 2, 2018
7309 Lazy Creek Drive, Austin, Texas 78724
SOUTH BY SOUTH BEST Wrestling pins
down district rivals, advances to state champs Trevor Anderson
The LBJ Wrestling program recently dominated the district, with both girls’ and boys’ divisions putting on impressive performances, according to several sophomore wrestlers. Terry Patten, LASA Sophomore and thinks that the season wouldn’t have been possible without consistent dedication from the coaches, too. “The wrestling program got to where it is today through the hard work and effort both the coaches and the wrestlers put into the program,” Patten said. “Coaches Bryant, Timmons, and Carr put a lot of time, money, and effort into training the team and making sure we are able to do our best at all times. Wrestlers also put a lot of time into practicing in order to become better, often staying after school 3-5 times a week for practice where we learn new moves and make sure we remember our old ones.” Personal responsibility and dedication are a big part of the wrestling program, and are also regarded by wrestlers like Terry as the most challenging part of being in the program, too.
This spring, Liberator editors attended SXSW in full force, covering the SXSW film, gaming, interactive (technology) and edu (education) conferences. Coverage is throughout this issue, marked with the SXSW symbol to the left. from top, photos by Clara Morse, Mateen Kontoravdis, Elan McMinn and Carolina Gokingco
Flying high: LASA Eagle Scouts lead service projects and aid LBJ band George Guckenberger
The prestigious rank of Eagle Scout is only reached by four percent of Boy Scouts. It is the highest rank that can be obtained as a Scout, and requires years of work to achieve. Before reaching this rank, Scouts must earn at least 21 merit badges, demonstrate Scout Spirit as they pass through the six previous ranks, have a leadership role in their troop, spearhead an Eagle Project and pass a Scout Board of Review. Junior Aaron Wheatley became an Eagle Scout in 2014 after he completed his Eagle Scout Service Project. “Being an Eagle Scout means you have a commitment to service and helping other people, and to live morally, and to be able to apply the skills that you learned in scouts throughout your life, and for the betterment of your life and the lives of others,” Wheatley said. The Eagle Project is a community service project which benefits any religious institution, school or nonprofit organization. Before starting, the Scout must get their project approved by a local Scout Board. Wheatley said Eagle Projects usually take from 100 to 150 hours of work to complete, and are an opportunity to demonstrate leadership. Scouts often organize up to 20 other people for their projects. “I built a path for a church that was sponsoring my fencing club at the time,” Wheatley said. “It was fully independently funded, we went through all the paperwork and permits for it, and we made it very nice and professional. Overall it took about 150 hours of work. It was really nice to organize it, and it was really appreciated afterwards.” Wheatley said it is a large accomplishment to become an Eagle Scout, because it requires a significant amount of dedication and discipline. Junior John Hearn is currently a Life Scout, the rank below Eagle, and is planning out his Eagle Project. Although only one Scout is allowed to lead a project, they are often responsible for other Scouts who assist them on their task. Junior Josh Kreth poses with a chicken on a backpacking trip his Boy Scout troop took to Philmont, see page 6 New Mexico in 2017. Kreth is currently working on his Eagle Scout project, which involves building tiny community libraries in the Sunset Valley neighborhood. photo courtest of Josh Kreth.
- Sophomore Chance Reeve
It's a committment. You really gotta work every day. But you can really see it pay off in the matches.
“I think the most difficult part of the program is the commitment required in order to be good,” Patten said. “Wrestling has practice every day, which can be a huge challenge for some people, but to do well at the sport it's necessary to make some sacrifices.Also, cutting weight can be difficult, especially when it's only a few days before the tournament and the wrestler is several pounds overweight, often it requires self control and exercise to remain at the weight a wrestler wants for the tournament.” LASA sophomore Chance Reeve agrees, but thinks that the work put in is worth it. “You know, [the season is] a grind,” Reeve said. “It's a commitment. You really gotta work, everyday. But you can really see it pay off in the matches.” One of the payoffs for the team was that both girls’ and boys’ divisions went to regionals. According to Patten, regionals were rough, and only two girls made it out. “It was rough at regionals and many of the wrestlers fell out of the bracket, competing against several advanced wrestlers and well known tough schools,” Patten said. “Unfortunately, only two of our girls were able to qualify for state.” The tough time at regionals, according to LASA sophomore Sam Hopper, will only fuel the team for future seasons. He thinks that they have a shot at winning regionals in the coming years if everyone continues to get better. “I believe if we continue to work hard we can win region in the following years,” Hopper said. Terry Patten agrees, stating that the team’s commitment and dedication, as well as district success, will inspire more success in future years. “I think a lot more people were committed this year, partially because there were several returning wrestlers who has wrestled the previous year and came back more determined to do even better this year and because our team has a really great bond this year between all the kids and it's very positive and supportive and it helps people want to stay in the sport with all our friends,” Patten said. Unity is perhaps the most important part of the program, according to all 3 wrestlers. Patten especially enjoyed a two-day tournament in San Antonio, where she thinks that the team really bonded and became more tight-knit. “I had such a great time hanging out with all the other people on the team and it was a good experience for me as I wrestled against people and school I had never seen before,” Patten said. “I also did far better than I thought I would at the tournament, and it was eye opening to realize just how much I could accomplish.” For Reeve, the team can only become better. With time and practice, he feels nothing can hold them back. “The sky's the limit,” Reeve said. “We're trying to build a dynasty, we want depth, and we want hard work, and I think we are eventually going to accomplish that.”
EXECUTIVE BOARD Adviser
Meena Anderson Clara Morse
EDITORIAL BOARD Commentary Editors
Alia Shaukat Eva Strelitz-Block
Marlen Avila Carolina Gokingco Sarah Lucas
Life and Feature Editors
Emma Jane Hopper Gabrielle Jabour Sarah Mines
Leni Milliken Max Randall
Jeffrey Kovar Elan McMinn Oliver Powers
Mateen Kontoravdis Grant McCasland Sarah Porter Jorge Villa
STAFF WRITERS Isabelle Amanuel, Trevor Anderson, Sophia Blaha, Aaron Booe, Rimon Browne, Andy DeGrasse, George Guckenberger, Max Irby, Jordan Jewell, Helena Marrteleto Lara, Nia Orakwue, Megan Ramsey, Ashley Thomas
NEWSPAPER CLUB CONTRIBUTORS Lochlyn McLure, Abby Greendyk
Responsibilities of a Free Student Press: Serving the primary communication link within the Liberal Arts and Science Academy and between the school and the local community, this newspaper accepts the responsibilities inherent in being a free press. The Liberator staff strives to produce a professional-quality publication that follows the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists. The objective is to print the news in a fair and objective way with the utmost regard for integrity. Editorial Content: 1. The students on The Liberator staff will print articles which have been researched to the best of their ability to obtain most complete information. 2. The information will be presented in an objective, truthful and fair manner. 3. When personal commentary is given it will be in good taste on issues that have been researched, analyzed and where expert opinion has been sought, and then presented with the best ability of the writer. In addition, all opinion or commentary will be clearly labeled as so. 4. No material which is obscene, libelous or that will cause an immaterial and substantial disruption of the school day, according to accepted legal definitions, will be printed. The Editorial Boards and its Functions: The Liberator staff will be governed by an editorial board comprised of the following individuals: editors-in-chief and section editors. The Editorial board will: 1. Determine the content of the publication (with input from other staff members). 2. Stress the editorial policy. 3. Ensure the accuracy of the publication. 4. Address disciplinary or other inappropriate behavior of staff. 5. Vote on removal of staff members. 6. Change or add policy as necessary with three of four board members voting favorably. Viewpoints: Printed material which is a view of a staff member or a contributing writer will be labeled as such. These views are not intended to reflect the view of the administration of Liberal Arts and Science Academy nor the School Board of the Austin Independent School District. Viewpoints will be given in two areas in the newspaper. Editorials: These will be determined by the staff consensus. The editorial will be unsigned and will represent the viewpoint of the publication. Letters to the Editor: Letters to the Editor are accepted for topics of general interest to the readership of the newspaper. Letters must be submitted typed or neatly printed in ink and must have the signature of the writer and the writer’s grade level. Editors reserve the right to determine which issue the letter goes in, with every effort made to print the letter as soon as possible. The editors also reserve the right to edit the letter for grammar, length and repetition. Non-Staff Contributors: Bylined contributions are welcome. Correction of Errors: The staff makes every effort to print accurate information. In the case of errors, a written correction will be made in the following issue of the newspaper. Sources: In general, no anonymous sources will be used in reporting. Sources from within the school, as well as those not connected with the school, will be used. Under no circumstances will gifts, including coupons, etc., be accepted by the staff members from sources or advertisers. Note: The Liberator is an open forum.
the liberator april 2, 2018
Following Parkland shooting, high school students start and lead new national conversation regarding gun reform We have a school mass shooting problem in the United States. There are more guns per capita in the US than any other country in the world. This is not a coincidence. The National Rifle Association (NRA) would like us to believe that these two things are not connected: the problem isn’t all the “bad guys” with the guns, they say, it’s just that there are not enough “good guys” with guns. Republican lawmakers would like us to believe that these two things are not connected: protecting people’s rights to bear arms (any people, any number of guns, any kind of guns), they say, is a more critical priority than managing gun violence. President Trump would have us believe these two things are not connected: “sickos” are the problem, he says; “soft” schools are the problem; “cowardly” deputies are the problem; Obama is the problem. Yes, Trump struck a different tone on gun control in a bipartisan meeting with members of Congress on Feb. 27, signalling an interest in comprehensive gun control. But by March 1st, after meeting with NRA lobbyists in the Oval Office, he had, unsurprisingly, walked back his earlier enthusiasm for legislation limiting access to firearms. The “school safety” legislation passed Mar. 14 by the House of Representatives included no gun control measures whatsoever. Mass shootings are generally understood to be incidents in which at least four people are shot. The latest mass school shooting to capture national attention occurred Feb. 14, when a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida went on a rampage and shot and killed 17 people, injuring 14 others. The AR-15 semiautomatic rifle was his weapon of choice, just as it was in the Las Vegas, Nevada shooting (58 dead), the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre shooting (12 dead), and the San Bernardino, California shooting (14 dead). Tragically, mass shootings are not a new phenomenon in America. Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15, 2018, the day after the tragedy in Florida, there were 30 mass shootings. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, over 1800 people have died so far this year as a result of gun violence. There will most certainly and tragically have been more before this issue goes to print. This is unacceptable. But it is not an inevitability. We at The Liberator stand with the students of Stoneman Douglas High School, and with young people around the country, in support of an invigorated effort to disrupt this cycle of outrage. We are ready to call out those complicit in its perpetuation: the NRA and the lawmakers and leaders graphic by Lochlyn McLure in bed with them. We recognize that the groundwork for this movement has been laid by African-American teens who have been protesting gun violence, advocating for relevant policy reforms, and challenging the NRA for years, despite the absence of the drum beat of popular support that is emerging now. The United States has been heralded as a hotbed of innovation. Here at LASA we are taught that a critical component of ingenuity is the ability to learn from one’s mistakes. Yet, each time a mass shooting occurs, the political postmortem follows a similar trajectory. Politicians offer their “thoughts and prayers.” They bemoan the loss of innocent life. They declare a willingness to explore remedies... when the time is right. (Not now, though. Too soon! Let’s not play “the blame game”). Eventually, we turn our collective attention back to our regularly scheduled programming. Mass shootings have become our “new normal.” But this time, the customary script has skidded off track. The role that racial and class biases has played in undermining the realization of this momentum previously should also be noted. The students of the well-resourced Stoneman Douglas High School are largely white and middle income. That their activism is resonating with the general public is also no coincidence. In the aftermath of the shooting at their school, Stoneman Douglas High School students, and students from around the country, are redefining the terms of a our national conversation about guns. We are rebuffing adults’ efforts to restore social equilibrium and return to the old playbook. We are demanding that politicians take meaningful gun control action and that we confront and hold accountable the long unchallenged third rail of American politics, the NRA, whose impact on policy making has rendered the gun lobby essentially our fourth branch of government. From our living rooms, and via social media (#NeverAgain), students are organizing school walkouts and national marches. We
are outlining actionable proposals to address the epidemic of gun violence in our country and calling for improving background checks, raising the age limit on the purchase of guns, and banning bump stocks and semi-automatic weapons. We at the Liberator want to add our voices to this powerful chorus. Our response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, may have started with thoughts and prayers, but it cannot end there. We say again: mass shootings are not inevitable. In 1996 in Australia a gunman shot and killed 35 people Tasmania in what is known as the Port Arthur Massacre. In response, Australian states adopted a National Firearms Agreement that bans all semi-automatic rifles and all semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns and significantly restricts gun ownership and licensing. There have been no mass shootings in Australia since 1996. So, it’s a “NO” to President Trump’s apparently preferred strategy: arming teachers. A rush is on to move forward on this front. Bills to arm teachers are already under consideration in Florida and Tennessee, and concealed carry in schools is already permitted in many states, including Texas, even as educators, parents, students, and many lawmakers (from both parties) have been voicing a myriad of concerns with this proposed policy. Armed protection of students is not in teacher’s job description, nor should it be. Moreover, the increased presence of of guns at school would likely make students, particularly students of color, feel significantly less safe. Even setting aside the ludicrous prioritization of funding for guns in schools over books and teachers’ salaries, we, the students, must again draw the adults in the room back to this core fact: more guns make us less safe. In Utah 2014, a preschool teacher living in a state that permits concealed carry laws accidentally shot herself in the foot with her own gun. At school. In Pennsylvania in 2016 an elementary school teacher left her holstered gun in a school bathroom and a student found it. On Feb. 28 a teacher at Dalton High School barricaded himself in his classroom and fired a handgun (No one was hurt). Should incidents like those, too, be our new normal? We at the Liberator, emphatically, say “no.” But unwinding current gun policy dogma will require addressing the stranglehold the gun lobby has on United States politics. Not only does the NRA wield its substantial influence directly at the national level by donating significantly to the campaigns of predominantly Republican members of Congress, but the import of its impact at the local level cannot be overstated. The NRA funds the campaigns of state level candidates who are supportive of its agenda. In turn, these politicians facilitate the gerrymandering of voting maps that (not coincidentally) both disenfranchise underrepresented minorities and secure the political wins necessary to bolster their agenda further. The NRA has declared itself to be a political entity that cannot be denied. But Stoneman Douglas High School students have not been intimidated. In a speech three days after the shooting, 18 year old Emma Gonzalez called out Trump and the NRA directly. “If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association. You want to know something? It doesn’t matter, because I already know. Thirty million dollars. To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.” The Stoneman Douglas High School student activists are a force to be reckoned with. And thus conservative commentators and other adults alike have been quick to not only dismiss these students-but attack them. Douglas High School students have been labeled “crisis actors” as if such forceful, emotive activism is beyond their capacity. We at The Liberator applaud Gonzalez, her peers, and all the students rising up in this moment. Students are not talking about guns just for show. We are not speaking up and acting out in an effort to accrue more “likes” and better curate our social media presence. Our activism is not a stunt. We demand sensible gun control because mass shootings have to stop. We demand sensible gun control because gun violence is imperiling the social fabric of our communities. We demand sensible gun control because the NRA is not in charge of our government. How this new discourse and engagement around gun control plays out, and whether or not it will result in meaningful policy change, is yet to be seen. But what is already in plain view is that in the wake of the mass shooting in Florida, students are redefining both gun politics and student activism. Our call for our voices to be heard is no longer simply an appeal for listeners. We are driving the conversation.
Dear editor. Why is the newspaper called the liberator? I’m so confused. What are you liberating us from? Did someone think it sounded cool like S.H.I.E.L.D.? - Evan Hadd Have an opinion about a new school policy? Have a bone to pick with something the Liberator has published? Anything else on your mind? Anything exciting happen to you over the summer? We work year round! Write us a letter and drop it off in portable 5A or in the boxes in the school offices. It is the policy of the Liberator to not respond directly to letters to the editor.
the liberator april 2, 2018
D e c o d i n g Tr u m p’s infrastructure plan 1.5 trillion dollars for the purpose of renovating American infrastructure is what has been proposed by President Donald J. Trump. Being the fairly politically observant centrist that I am, I would be somewhat unobservant if I failed to acknowledge the currently Aaron Booe lacking state of the American infrastructure. I Staff Writer would support such an plan to renovate our infrastructure, the current arrangement has significant causes of concern which remain hidden in vague political jargon. The plan itself was made accessible to the public on February 26th and proposes the redevelopment of America’s failing infrastructure through the usage of federal government incentives for state and local governments. In other words, Trump’s plan is to turn 200 billion dollars of federal funds into 1.5 trillion dollars, a haughty and so far unrealistic goal set forth by the administration. The math for the proposal essentially goes like this: half of the $200 billion will go toward incentive grants that will only make up 20% of any given project, so that leads to $500 billion in total investment. This may seems realistic enough, but then another $70 billion goes towards grants for underdeveloped and rural areas for experimental urbanization projects with cost that range from $50 to $100 billion. So far, $150 billion from Washington has gotten us to $600 billion in total investment, with $50 billion in federal spending left. This is where my problem with the plan comes to light: I more than support the redeveloping of infrastructure, but this plan’s main source of income is riding on some relatively unstable foundations. The extra money is proposed to come from federal infrastructure credit programs that provide loans, loan guarantees and lines of credit to transit agencies and utilities for everything from highway expansions to airports to to
as few of these projects ever qualify for such assistance, as the projects are considered either too big of a credit risk or lack the proper permits. My first issue of concern--and perhaps the most pressing--is the proposal revolves around strong reliance of local governments. The plan proposes that local and state governments match the federal allocation on an four to one ratio, so for every one federal dollar, the state or local government supplies four of its own dollars. While it’s true that local and state governments have managed to assume more of the burden of infrastructure development in recent years, I find the White House’s faith in these local governments to be misplaced and too ambitious for their own good. Surely existing funding sources can be used to levy pay for large scale transit projects. While it could be somewhat feasible for these local governments to drum up $1.5 trillion dollars from 200 billion, this plan feels rash and impulsive with subtle undertones of dubious assumptions. These assumptions being more than enough to cause my immediate concern with the proposal. One concern is the fact that he just gave away substantial amounts of potential funds in tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, and now is expecting cash-strapped state and local governments to come up with the share of money needed to rebuild their failing infrastructure systems. Accepting the fact that these governments can match the federal dollars supplied on an four to one ratio, certainly such an plan would have enacted sooner. However, given that this has not been the case, we can only assume that this hasn’t happened yet because these governments are largely financially equipped to rebuild their infrastructure. This is not to say the proposal does not possess significant brilliant strategic economic planning. The division of money remains appropriate with half the proposal money being used to incentivize local government entities. Along with 20 billion going towards projects of great national
significance and 50 billion being utilized for rural grant blocks. And let’s not forget the fact that the proposal has been submitted to Congress showing an genuine commitment on the part of the President. This is also good because that means the proposal can be reviewed, analyzed, and critiqued under the watchful eyes of a senators and lobbyist to edit and revise until the proposal is acceptable. However, until the plan can provide a more stable funding source, I do not have much faith in its ability to give Americans the infrastructure that we deserve.
desalination plants. A presumptuous goal that could prove to be inaccurate
Spring break Bats Student activism Newspaper club Popcorn S s,
Tasi Jon e
Isab el C
graphic by Helena Lara
Spring break ending All-nighters Stale cinammon rolls Plastic straws Anemia Thumbs up, Thumbs down selections do not reflect opinions of the students pictured here.
Performing pregnancies: being pregnant in the public eye
Women are constantly look up to them for what they think pregnancy scrutinized and expected is supposed to look like. Weight loss supplements to conform to a certain and how-tos are advertised to women who way of life and looks in have just given birth. There are also society, and it’s worse Instagram accounts (often run by for celebrities: instagram models) dedicated to possibly even staying fit while pregnant. It’s worse for pregnant not realistic for all pregnant celebrities. They women to be going to end up having the gym several times a Megan Ramsey to “perform” week or to even find time Staff Writer their pregnancies to weight lift and stay in as feminist author shape. Chimamanda Ngozi The public even Adichie describes it. Society dictates that questions women’s pregnant women and mothers have to uphold competence for motherhood. a certain image, which includes what their Many fans thought Chrissy bodies look like and how they act. Teigen was irresponsible for All eyes are on pregnant being seen outside without women. The media goes after her baby a little over a pregnant celebrities and how week after giving birth. their bodies look. They even go Though she knew how after women who have gained to handle that hate, it’s a a little weight, and assume that harsh judgement to take. it must mean they’re pregnant. Later on, she opened up When Rihanna’s body weight about her postpartum changes or she dances slightly depression and the differently, people speculate pressures of being a that she’s pregnant. Expecting new mom in the public mothers who are also famous eye, describing it as a provide news outlets with debilitating illness. cheap headlines. They compare Not all mothers women, like Kim Kardashian are the same and and Kate Middleton for everyone needs a example, with each other, break at some point. assuming that all pregnancies They don’t know are the same. what she was going Women’s pregnant bodies through, and most of and post delivery bodies the commenters had are compared and judged, probably never been and even shamed. People pregnant, so they expect celebrities to shouldn’t share their have cute pregnancies uninformed and like Amal Clooney did poorly constructed by maintaining her opinions. fashionable ways and a Even when women are smaller baby bump. Kim breastfeeding, their Kardashian also continued bodies are objectified and wearing her usual outfits, but she sexualized. A mother can’t wasn’t as lucky with how the public breastfeed in public without viewed her. She was compared to a getting some sort of side-eye. killer whale, which is completely Breasts aren’t even sexual unfair for someone carrying organs. Women and their another human. Right after Kate bodies need to be respected. Middleton had given birth, the Women should be able to public was shocked to see that her do whatever they want with body hadn’t bounced back to its their bodies, whenever they original shape. It’s great that society want, without society has become more comfortable with shaming them, and pregnant women since the 1950s without some man when the word pregnancy couldn’t who feels entitled be spoken on tv, but everyone has trying to make the right to some degree of privacy. moves on them. There are also higher expectations If someone tries for celebrities. They are expected to graphic by Lochlyn McLure sexualizing a have pregnancies that will entertain breastfeeding mother, they are the people. Then, their bodies are problem. She is doing a natural thing expected to almost immediately go back to normal. They will be criticized if that many mothers do too. Our bodies are our own and society has no someone sees them with leftover belly fat. The public is watching when their post delivery body place in telling us what we should do with them. is on display for the first time. They have to shed And all pregnancies are different, so women the weight and tone their bodies quickly. People shouldn’t feel pressured to oblige the public by regularly look up to celebrities, and they also performing their pregnancies.
Arguing the superiority of SoundCloud over other platforms In today’s Internet age, music streaming has emerged as one of the most prominent industries in entertainment. Big names like YouTube Music, Apple Music, and Spotify have taken their place at the top, offering huge varieties of songs and services for a typically Max Irby monthly fee. However, Staff Writer I believe that out of all major music streaming services available today, SoundCloud offers the best value to both listeners and artists. Over the last few years, numerous big names in music have started on SoundCloud and sprung up seemingly out of nowhere. Artists like Post Malone, Russ and Lil Pump all had their origins on the free music platform where they were successful thanks to the site’s hands-off approach to creative development. Unlike other streaming services, anyone can upload their music onto SoundCloud and gain a following free of any upfront cost, which allows artists to produce wide varieties of music and gain a strong following in a short period of time. The more artists drawn to the platform the more popular it becomes, so in effect SoundCloud has created a renewing cycle of incoming prospective musicians and listeners. As long as the site’s network of users grows, it can afford to be more focused on providing for new artists than signing big licensing deals for major releases. The benefits that SoundCloud offers to artists also have a positive effect on listeners. With a greater amount and variety of artists
to choose from than other music streaming platforms, listeners have more choices and are more likely to find the types of music that they enjoy. Listeners are more likely to discover artists who are less well known and thus make the artist more popular, which in turn brings more users to the site. Most consumers also pay nothing to use SoundCloud as the base service is free, and the premium SoundCloud Go only removes the rare advertisements and allows users to download songs. The accessibility to the platform for both consumers and producers is a large part of why I believe it to be the superior music streaming service. The comparison has been made that SoundCloud is the YouTube of music, while Spotify is like Netflix, which is fitting in that one pair is free while the other requires payment. The accessibility factor is also the same in the analogy, as YouTube allows mass amounts of content to be freely uploaded and shared, while Netflix relies on licensing bigname movies and shows. Another important thing to note in this comparison is that YouTube is worth far more than Netflix, and is projected to experience r faster growth in the future. e h Fis The debate over which Kye y b hic p music platform is the best a r g may ultimately come down to personal preference, but to me it seems obvious that SoundCloud is the most suited for both listeners and artists alike. The ease of access allows for users to produce and find unique music, and the site’s popularity allows for artists who otherwise might not have had a chance to find a fanbase and success.
the liberator april 2, 2018
Still looking for extracurriculars? Join the club Megan Ramsey
Several students have created new clubs since last year. The Liberator has spotlighted several of them here. New clubs that aren’t featured here and are interested in appearing in a future issue should contact The Liberator.
French Club has been a club at LASA on and off for several years, but was restarted last year by juniors Anna Tutuianu, Anushka Srivastava and Anastasia Barnett. Students don’t have to speak the language to join. Srivastava explained that this club is meant for any student that has an interest or passion for the French language or culture and a desire to try new things. Srivastava said the leaders are passionate about French and showing their members how fun and interesting the language is. “At the beginning of the year we send out a survey with a bunch of sample activities and the members vote on which activities they want to do,” Srivastava said. “Based on popularity, we basically plan out the year.” This school year, they have had a Christmas party, as well as meetings on speaking French slang, building monuments out of popsicle sticks, decorating pumpkins, singing French karaoke and watching French movies. The leaders have more planned for the rest of the school year and are eager for new members. Srivastava said the goal of the club is to expand members’ knowledge about the language and culture of French speaking countries. Members who don’t speak French can still engage in culture-based activities that don’t require any knowledge or the language. They can also challenge themselves by trying their hand at the language-based activities. Srivastava said the leaders are ready to share their knowledge and teach students the basics of French. “We’re very laid-back,” Tutuianu said. “Everybody there genuinely wants to talk about French culture.” When: Every A-day Friday Where: Ms. Bellande’s room (Portable 1B)
Junior Anastasia Barnett holds the French club’s submission for the annual school-wide pumpkin decorating contest.
National Art Honor Society Senior Amy Otnes started National Art Honor Society (NAHS) this school year. The club doesn’t have regular meetings and usually organizes events outside of school. The juniors who are officers will keep the club running for future years. Otnes relies on the Remind app, so the members can get updates on what new events within the art community they can participate in. “We partner up with a lot of clubs at school. We have volunteer opportunities a lot,” Otnes said. “Sometimes there’s events going on at the Contemporary Museum, and we just let people know, come on out and do this event, and also some seniors have developed this portable revival project where they go out every saturday-ish and paint murals.” There are requirements for being in the club. Members must have taken an art class at LASA, have an unweighted GPA of over 2.5, do ten hours of community service, and pay 15 dollars, which goes towards purchasing food and club shirts. “We’re also going to have a recruitment meeting at the end of the year where we invite kids who are in Art 1, who are freshman, sophomores, who would be interested in joining NAHS next year and then we’re going to give them the run down and tell them what NAHS is about,” Otnes said. NAHS is for art enthusiasts who want to have fun. There is no application required to join. The recruitment meeting will take place sometime in late March or April.
Philosophy Club is run by junior Seth Ellington. The club setup is quite casual, with meetings consisting of the study of philosophy through history, engaging in broad discussions, questioning aspects of life, analyzing films for philosophies and coming up with original philosophies. The club does not follow a certain concrete plan, but instead discusses new ideas every week and switches topics based on what they want to talk about and analyze on a deeper level. “I feel like in today’s society particularly, and even in high school particularly, we’ve become so caught up in our own worries and ambitions and problems that we fail to step back and examine our lives,” Ellington said. “If we become too engaged in our day to day, then we miss out on a lot of life.” Ellington said this club is for people looking to examine their lives on a deeper level, and to look at life objectively. The purpose of Philosophy Club is to get its members thinking on a new level and undertaking big topics. The members present at the meeting agree that at the end of some meetings, they leave the room as slightly different people because of a new insight or conclusion that they came to. “I think that that feeling of like an altered self leaving the club is my favorite part,” Ellington said. When: Thursdays during lunch Where: Mr. Harry’s room (268)
When: Does not have regular meetings
Junior Lochlyn McClure puts away her art supplies after a productive NAHS meeting.
After the AISD vote: Schools change names Nia Orakwue
On Feb. 26 the Austin Independent School District (AISD) Board of Trustees voted 7-2 in favor of changing the names of five AISD schools and facilities named after Confederates. .The schools and facility that will undergo name changes include: John T. Allan Facility, Zachary Taylor Fulmore Middle School, Sidney Lanier Early College High School, John H. Reagan Early College High School and Eastside Memorial Early College High School at the Johnston Campus. Allan, Fulmore, and Lanier served in the Confederate army, while Reagan was the Confederacy’s Postmaster General and Johnston served as a general in the army. There were many arguments from both sides to consider, but nonetheless several brought up the issue of the facilities’ names. This resulted in the AISD Board’s decision to rename former Robert E. Lee Elementary School in March 2016. AISD board member Cindy Anderson,who voted on the issue, said she felt some pressure due to similar measures being enacted in other cities across Texas. “A lot of schools have already taken the same steps given what’s been happening nationally,” Anderson said. “When you look at other Texas ISD’s, you can see that Dallas and Houston have already changed them as well.”
The most impacted community is the school’s constituency. -Reagan Early College High School alumna, Charsla Bentley
Advocates for name changes cite multiple issues. Given that many hate groups have adopted Confederate flags to represent their cause, there is concern leaving the names will disrupt school environments and make minority students feel unwelcome. AISD Trustee Yasmin Wagner said she was in favor of the name changes because she believes they represent the vestiges of resistance to desegregation efforts. In her view, changing the names is a testament to civil rights progress. “We were living in a time when lynchings were increasing, when African-Americans were regularly being intimidated and brutalized,” Wagner said at the board meeting. “That was the time frame in which two of these names were placed on these buildings … These names spoke volumes about what that school board, at that time, wanted to communicate about who was welcome in those schools and how they felt about desegregation.” Those who argued against renaming Alumni weighed in on the significance of these names to their high school years. For instance, Lanier Alum Terry Ayers said students were told Lanier was a famous poet, not a Confederate soldier. Nonetheless other community members said they thought it unnecessary to deny the accomplishments of the people honored simply because they were Confederates. A Reagan Early College High School alumna, Charsla Bentley, attended the meeting to argue against renaming the schools. “The most impacted community is the school’s constituency,” Bentley said. “Students, parents, teachers and alums, but also the neighborhood. It’s from this group, more than any other, that you should take your information and give it the most weight.” Money is also a factor. It could cost upwards of $77, 000 to change the name, logos and signage of each school. Many who opposed changing the names viewed the matter as a nonessential one since AISD is around $30 million short in funds. Despite around 50% opposed the name change on an AISD survey, many board members expressed their hope that this decision will better reflect the values of the city of Austin. “I think not [changing the names] would be contrary to what we’ve said is our core values, and how much we value the diversity of our students and our diversity,” Wagner said.
Junior Seth Ellington leads Philosophy Club. photos by Megan Ramsey
Year 2018: Upcoming Calendar Dates 1. April 25-30: Alley Cat Players One Act Performances 2. May 7-18: AP Testing Days
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6. August 20: First Day of The 2018-2019 School Year information by Isabelle Amanuel
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the liberator april 2, 2018
EVERYONE:1 has an opinion on the Chromebook rollout Abby Greendyk
On Feb. 13, LASA administrators distributed Chromebooks to students as part of the â€œEVERYONE:1â€? initiative, a program aimed to provide students with new technological resources. Every LASA student is eligible to receive a Chromebook from the district as part of the rollout. Though LASA was one of the last high schools in Austin to receive the laptops, the excitement of students and staff was palpable. Â The students didnâ€™t have to pay for the laptops, but they did come with a different kind of price: responsibility. The â€œEVERYONE:1â€? initiative was put in place to give every student the opportunities that personal computers offer. However, not all students opted to receive Chromebooks. If a student has a personal laptop, parents of the student could sign a form ensuring their child would bring their own computer to and from school everyday. Students were also given the option to leave their Chromebooks at school, instead of taking them home, and to sign them in before and after school. AISD required all high schools to distribute the laptops, which were district-issued. However due partially to students opting out of Chromebook use, academy director Andy Paulson said that LASA was left with hundreds of other Chromebooks that they had to get rid of. In addition, the touchscreen, internet-only laptops have limitations. They cannot run some programs needed for classes, and run others very slowly, according to teacher Vanessa Mokry, who runs LASAâ€™s audio video production classes. â€œI honestly think itâ€™s disappointing that AISD picked [Chromebooks],â€? Mokry said. â€œI would like it if you could actually load the Adobe Creative Suite on them, they could run, and be worth anything for this class, but thatâ€™s not the case...I just think AISD [is] making a decision thatâ€™s not as great as it could be.â€? Though Mokry said her class wonâ€™t find much use out of the Chromebooks, she said theyâ€™ll provide a more general use. â€œI have not spent a lot of time investigating, but my initial reactions and initial assessments from just hearing other students is that they cannot do what we
really need to do,â€? Mokry said. â€œBut I do think there are a number of people who are going to get use out of them because the COWS were not reliable. They were a pain, and [the Chromebooks] are better than nothing.â€? Unlike Mokry, whose class requires professionallevel video editing software, math teacher Charles Barnes says the easier access to technology will benefit his classes, since more of his students will be able to explore concepts using online tools such as GeoGebra and Desmos. â€œItâ€™s easy to tell students to put their laptops away,â€? Barnes said. â€œItâ€™s not so easy to tell them to conjure up a laptop they donâ€™t have.â€? Though Barnes believes having laptops will benefit students in school, he also believes unplugging is important. â€œAcademically, I think itâ€™s better that kids have Chromebooks; socially, I think itâ€™s worse,â€? Barnes said. â€œMaybe Iâ€™m just glorifying my experience, but Iâ€™m glad I didnâ€™t have a laptop in high school. I would have spent too much time staring at it.â€? Paulson shared the nostalgic sentiments, adding how the Chromebook rollout may even affect the library. Instead of using the library PCs, students can now use their own, more portable and faster Chromebooks which will create distance toward the original use of a library. â€œYou could ask what the purpose of a library is anymore,â€? Paulson said. â€œOur library here is what it was like in my day, but I think the library of the future, which hopefully still has books, [will be] mostly a hang out place. A place for kids to have access to charge devices, different things, work with groups in technology and focus.â€? Though Paulson at first held reservations with the Chromebook rollout and is still uncertain about how they will affect the campus, he believes they are necessary to LASA. â€œOriginally I would have said no, but Iâ€™m glad we did it now because itâ€™s something that should have been done,â€? Paulson said. â€œIâ€™m not sure the Chromebooks will advance the use of technology, but I think itâ€™s what we should have been doing all along, [and] I think itâ€™s nice that weâ€™re now finally on a one-to-one basis.â€?
Liberator x SXSW Edu
Various Liberator editors had the chance to attend SXSW this spring. This column shares the experiences of one who attended SXSW Edu. When Austinite students talk about SXSW, we often mean music (did you hear Khalid came this year?) or film (will any students have their films shown this year?) However, the week before spring break, I went on an adventure to see their enthusiastic younger sibling: SXSW Edu, which focuses on educational policy. After three years covering education policy for the Liberator, and various committee shenanigans, I felt preparedâ€”maybe even excitedâ€”to take on SXSW Edu. And overall, it was a blast, and an experience Iâ€™d recommend to every student. For me, passing period traffic jams and board meeting PowerPoints were replaced with the mile-long lines to try out VR headsets at Edu. But despite the abundance of interesting panels and well-meaning organizers, some things at South By seemed out of place. The pieces came together for me on the last session I attended. A three-hour roundtable group advertising itself as the â€œUnited States of Student Civic Engagementâ€? caught my attention, so I dropped in to see what was going on. Some student activists and community leaders were featuredâ€”the first students Iâ€™d seen presenting all conference. For the first time, someone seemed to be talking directly to studentsâ€” not to teachers about how to teach students to think critically about media, or to administrators about how school choices are parentsâ€™ constitutional right. Whatâ€™s more, the presenters were talking to us like adults, capable of taking on responsibilities and leading our peers and occupying a seat at the ed-pol table. We eventually sat down at the tables and introduced ourselves to each other, which was when I noticedâ€” I was one of only two students at the table at a session about empowering students. The non-students at my table, educators and administrators, seemed very supportive of student civic empowerment. But how effectively could this message be conveyed if I was one of only a few students there? Students only composed about 5 percent of SXSW Eduâ€™s 2017 attendees, and 4 percent at other SXSW factions. In 2017, the latest year for which data is available, around 850 students showed up out of over
16,000 total attendees. SXSW Edu organizers have been working to bring in more students, including through a student advisory committee, which helped to make some events at the exposition center more student-focused and increased the student count this year. On Tuesday, there were dozens of other students exploring the expo center. However, for students looking to attend in the future, it is not uncommon to be toting a backpack and lunchbox in whatever room youâ€™re in. It can feel like you are being talked about, or even talked over, instead of being invited in to the conversation. In this environment, with its paucity of student representation, is it even worth showing up to what can seem like a dry, policy-heavy, adult-dominated conference? The answer is a resounding yes. Even without taking the free stuff into account, it is worth the time commitment. This is because SXSW Edu forces students to think critically about the education theyâ€™re receiving, and what they want to get out of it. Although the impression can be of a boring bureaucratic conference, the reality is that although some panels are duds, many are buzzing with energy and an eagerness to improve education and think hard. Motivation abounds, as does an awareness of exactly how important high school education isâ€”the same one we are receiving right now. During my time there, I traded calculus quizzes, english scantrons and a history essay for debate about racism, college accessibility, emotional talk about the role of media literacy, and a spotting of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The ability to actively participate in your own education is a gift that must be cultivated, and Edu does a solid job of beginning that engagement and empowerment. If you look in the right places, you can find some student-targeted sessions, such as performances by local student dance and music groups, a student startup competition and career mentorship sessions. For one day of SXSW, the exposition center was lit up by students performing and exploring in it. So for students, especially during this moment of national prominence for student-led activist movements, it is worth it to take a more active role in oneâ€™s own education. To realize that you deserve a seat at the table, that your voice is just as important in educational policy as those of others. And hey, the virtual reality stuff is pretty cool as well. ADVERTISEMENT
LBJ MEDICAL CENTER PROGRAM Sophia Blaha
50 enroll 1st year 300 by the 5th year 60 dual credit hours Associateâ€™s Degree This infographic was put together using sources from KXAN, the Austin American-Statesman and US News. graphic by Carolina Gokingco and Marlen Avila
This session, entitled â€œThe United States of Student Civic Engagementâ€?, is summit-style. Several young leaders deliver keynotes about their activism. Pictured above are David Goncharuk and Tamir D. Harper. Goncharuk is a high school junior and Outreach and Recruitment Director of Oregon Student Voice, an Oregon-based nonprofit that aims to get students more involved in their education. Harper, a Philadelphia high school senior, talks about his experiences with UrbEd, an initiative he launched that advocates for improvements in the urban education system. photo by Clara Morse
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the liberator april 2, 2018
Senior Ruth Mewhinney poses with a group of Gumuz women and children of a rural Ethiopian village. The Gumuz are a politically marginalized cultural group in Ethiopia. Mewhinney is with them with One Mind at a Time, her charity that visited to pass out school supplies and uniforms. One Mind at a Time is run by Mewhinney along with seniors Jack Kappelman and Piper Neulander. The three created the organization in the Wicked Problem Project class’s pilot year. photo courtesy of Jack Kappelman
Tackling problems such as economic funding gaps, drunk driving, and prejudice may seem like a big task, but for students in the Wicked Problem Project, it’s just a part of the unique everyday class routine. Whether it’s donation drives, portable revivals, or trips to Africa, students creatively engage in the problems around them. At its core, the Wicked Problem Project is a class that gives students the opportunity to make a difference in their community. Students select a complex issue that plagues today’s society, or a “wicked problem.” Then, they work together in groups of their choosing to research the issue, come up with solutions, and design a plan of action. After the initial introduction to the class, teacher Helen Wilson said students spend the duration of their time formulating and implementing their plan before they finally evaluate the project to judge its success. “There’s an element of willingness to fail or understanding that you may fail, but the class is about trying to solve the problem,” Wilson said. “If it does not work out it’s okay, the point is that we’re taking this personal and professional risk so that we can solve these wicked problems that we have. We’re trying to implement creative solutions to issues.” According to junior Lisa Moomaw, the freedom for students to choose their own problem and focus on it during the school day is one of the main benefits of the class, as it allows them the opportunity to spend class time engaging with issues about which they are passionate. “I chose to take Wicked Problem because it was an opportunity to learn through working on my own unique project,” Lisa Moomaw, a student in the class, said. “Most classes, even if they cater to specific interests, are ultimately based on the teacher’s guidelines and structure. I thought it was cool how Wicked Problem Project was different because you get to decide how you approach your project.”
At the beginning of the semester, students get together in groups to plan and prepare the launch of the project. This includes talking to people in the community to see if the project seems feasible and creating a proposal that factors in cost and timeframe. The students, including Moomaw’s group and their project Tools to Schools, are currently in the process of enacting their plans. “Now we’ve begun full implementation, so we started by sending a survey out to teachers at Title I schools in Austin to ask them what supplies they need,” Moomaw said. “From there, we began emailing businesses we thought could have excess of those types of supplies.
We were able to see the impact of getting kids their new supplies, uniforms, etc. It changed my own outlook on the world and I learned so much from it.
-Senior Jack Kappelman
Life & Feature Editor
We also sent out a message to LASA parents asking for business connections. Once we obtained our first donation from [Austinbased company] Asuragen, we contacted the school we felt could use them most and delivered them.” According to senior Olivia Dudley, who is working on a project to give 100 hygiene and beauty packs to homeless women, almost all projects depend on the input of other people, which can be a challenge. “A lot of people don’t really respond because we’re not a 501(c) (3), so they want that tax deduction,” Dudley said. “It’s very hard to get people in the community to respond to your project. They’re like ‘oh this is high school students, we don’t really want to connect
with them’.” Partially due to these challenges that pop up along the way, Wilson said that some groups may feel that they did not achieve what they set out to do at the end of the class. Success in Wicked Problem Project, however, is not solely based on numbers. “If they feel like they didn’t waste their time and actually made a difference in solving that problem, whether or not there was a failure depends,” Wilson said. “It depends on what the kids determine as success. To gauge that, we’d have to see where we are at the end of the year. I know that some of our first year projects will not be “successful” just because they did not go as far as they could, and it’s not their fault because of timelines and … the input of other people.” Some students choose to take the class for two years or expand their project beyond the classroom. Jack Kappelman, a senior who took Wicked Problem Project in his junior year, recently went to rural Ethiopia to pass out school supplies and uniforms to children as part of his charity One Mind at a Time. In the future, he hopes to raise enough money to build a new school building a well in Ethiopia. “I saw how students in rural Ethiopia lacked access to basic school supplies, such as pens, paper, and textbooks, which made school very difficult for poor students to attend,” Kappelman said. “We were able to see the impact of getting kids their new supplies, uniforms, etc. It changed my own outlook on the world and I learned so much from it.” Although many groups still have a ways to go with their projects, Moomaw said she is satisfied with her groups progress and hopes to continue making school supply deliveries through the Wicked Problem Project. “I was really proud when we made our first delivery because we finally got to make a difference,” Moomaw said. “When Emily Baker, Kimmy [Wilson] and I were driving to Akins the day we delivered the supplies, we were all kind of giddy with joy because our work was finally paying off. That was a fun day. We still have a long way to go, though—I hope we get that experience again soon!”
Behind the stage: TedxYouth Stepek steps up with promise
Brass music filled the auditorium as Web Editor the sixth annual TEDxYouth Austin began. Big Wy’s Brass Band, primarily made up of undergrad University of Texas students, was just one of the performers at the event. The band was originally started at Westlake High School and then returned to their alma mater on February 17 to showcase their blend of a traditional New Orleans style with contemporary brass music. The theme for 2018 was Discomfort Zone, which TEDx said was designed to “encourage the difficult conversations, make space for each other and build resiliency ourselves.” Among the team of volunteers that helped organize the sixhour event was junior Zayan Vohra. Vohra said he saw it as an opportunity for attendees to learn not only about the world but about themselves. “Most of my personal duties were day-of stuff, managing slides, technology, the general flow of the show, and chaos management, along with the rest of the production team,” Vohra said. “Thus, most preparation work I did was just in anticipation of doing everything above, making sure we had all the materials that we needed for the event itself, a lot of stuff that’s in really close proximity to the event. Throughout the year, I helped other subteams work on getting their stuff finished.” Senior Amy Otnes was also part of the team, working in Experience Design. Otnes said the theme of Discomfort Zone meant to her that stepping beyond one’s comfort zone is necessary to learn and grow as a person. She discovered TEDx from a school friend who was previously on the team and Otnes was interested in helping with design because she enjoys finding new ways to express her creativity.
“I basically created all these neat decorations and installations all throughout the lobby, Westlake PAC and certain hallways and rooms throughout the school,” Otnes said. “My team and I created some really cool designs with light up wire. We wrote out our theme, Discomfort Zone, and a giant X, representing TEDx, out of this wire. We also incorporated a lot of interactive activities for the students attending the event such as a scavenger hunt.” One of the LASA attendees was junior Aydin O’Leary, who went with friends, because he knew Vohra had been working on the event weekly for almost six months. O’Leary said it originally looked interesting to him, but surpassed his expectations and he would be interested in going to another TED event. “I got to see a bunch of really cool speakers, a brass band, and a couple hilarious videos,” O’Leary said. “Big Wy’s Brass Band was really fun and eclectic.” Vohra also expressed his enthusiasm to volunteer for the next annual TEDxYouth Austin event. He noted that even though he was working on the Production team, he was able to absorb the knowledge and passion of the speakers and performers. “I decided to volunteer at TEDx because I thought that it’d be interesting to learn how to put on an event like this, from a purely learning standpoint, but I got so much more out of it,” Vohra said. “I got to meet and interact with some awesome speakers and learn a little bit about their lives and what they had to say, along with meeting an awesome group of motivated, driven students who are committed to spreading knowledge and pretty fun to hang out with.” graphic by Gabrielle Jabour
When first year math teacher Andrew Stepek saw a large group of administrators at his door, he had no idea what to expect. He was soon greeted with a welcome surprise: they had come to give him the Promising Teacher award. “At first I didn’t really know what was happening,” Stepek said. “I was sitting with my back to the door, and all of my students just started looking at the door strangely. When I turned around, I saw Ms. Crescenzi and the rest of the administrators standing at the door. It was very nice, they gave me a potted plant and we took some good photos.” While Stepek was very pleased to receive the potted plant as a reward for his hard work, he said he believes that teaching is gratifying enough on its own without any special awards. According to Stepek, his path to teaching did not begin until very recently. “I didn’t decide to pursue teaching until three and a half years into college,” Stepek said. “I was unsatisfied with my previous major, so I started trying out the UTeach programs and even tutored at LASA last year. It was during this time that I truly realized I wanted to go into teaching.”
Stepek has only been teaching at LASA for one semester, but he has already made impact according to his students. Sophomore Charlie Riley is in math this year with Stepek and has experienced Stepek’s teaching firsthand “Mr. Stepek has been really great, both as a teacher and a friend,” Riley said. “He always explains concepts in ways that make sense and don’t go over my head. He is also very easy to talk to and relatable because he is only about five years older than me.” Students aren’t the only ones who have great things to say about Stepek. Assistant Principal Alexandra Salinas, who was one of the administrators in charge of giving the Promising Teacher of Year Award, was very impressed with Stepek’s performance and ability to overcome obstacles. “Mr. Stepek had an interesting start to his teaching job, but he’s been able to get into the groove of things really well,” Salinas said. “We didn’t actually hire him until a few weeks into the school year due to issues with another teacher quitting, but he has done a great job of hitting the ground running and adjusting quickly. I look forward to seeing what he does at LASA in the future.”
Andrew Stepek and Stacia Crescenzi pose with the Promising Teacher of the Year Award: a potted plant. photo courtesy of LASA
the liberator april 2, 2018
Ethnic studies to offer culture in the classroom Sarah Mines
continued from page 1
“The Scout that is working towards their Eagle rank has to plan the project and put together all of the logistical stuff,” Hearn said. “As they are doing that they involve other Scouts and delegate authority— that’s one of the major things they want to see you do. You have to be able to show you can delegate properly, but most of the planning goes to the Eagle Scout, and the actual execution the other Scouts can help out with.” Hearn plans to do a project to help the LBJ band by building storage racks for drums amongst other additions to help improve the band experience. Junior Josh Kreth is a Life Scout in the same troop as Hearn, and is also working on his Eagle Project. Hearn said for him Scouting reinforces the importance of methodically planning and tackling challenges by dividing them up into smaller steps “For my project, I am building tiny libraries,” Kreth said. “I am building a couple of them down in Sunset Valley, and they are basically like community libraries. They are kind of bird house shaped, and are among the neighborhoods and people can come give books and take books and it promotes community literacy and bonding.” Kreth said Scouts have special experiences, such as camping or hiking trips, that many people lack in their day to day lives. He said Boy Scouts learn a myriad of important lessons on various topics, from wilderness survival skills and respect for the environment to life skills such as job interviews and money management. Hearn said his troop meets once a week, and different meetings involve different activities. “We usually plan for campouts or different events that are coming up, or a lot of times we will work on merit badges or other advancement things for the new scouts,” Hearn said. “It kind of depends on your rank, so a lot of the time younger scouts will work on small advancement stuff and the older scouts will be working on planning high adventure campouts.” Merit badges cover many topics, each designed to teach a scout a new skill or lesson. Hearn and Wheatley explained that merit badges involving keeping track of activities such as fitness or expenditures over several month periods are the most challenging. Kreth said his favorite merit badge was canoeing, because he had not had much experience with the activity until he earned the badge. Kreth said becoming an Eagle Scout is a significant personal achievement. “You are able to look back and be proud of your accomplishment,” Kreth said, “And also it’s really valuable because it means a lot to other people. You can tell them that you’re an Eagle Scout and it registers a sense of responsibility, ownership and leadership.”
Life & Feature Editor Ethnic Studies, a social studies course focusing on topics such as race, gender, and class, will be offered at all Austin Independent School District (AISD) high schools in the 2018-2019 school year. The class was piloted at eight campuses, including LBJ, in the 2017-2018 school year, and AISD Social Studies Supervisor Jessica Jolliffe said that the overwhelmingly positive response from both teachers and administrators encouraged the district to implement the course district-wide. “Seeing themselves and their communities in historical context, students gain a deeper appreciation of the contributions and complex experiences of diverse groups,” Jolliffe said. “Students study the local, state, and national history from precolonization to the present with a critical focus on the movements and changes promoting equity and justice.” The course consists of six units, each focusing on different aspects of identity and issues on both a local and global level. An AISD Innovation Design Team (ITD) consisting of high school teachers, AISD administrators and university professors developed the course over nine months by considering what other Ethnic Studies courses offered in other districts included, overall goals for the course in AISD, the content of the Special Topics Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and teacher input. “An Ethnic Studies course has the potential to reduce drop-out rates and provide a more inclusive and engaging academic experience for students, especially those who are at-risk.”
Jolliffe said, referencing a study published by Stanford. “Students who experience academic success derived from an authentic connection to the curriculum impacts direct-to-college enrollment. Other large districts in Texas, such as Houston ISD, offer a Cultural Studies course.” Social studies department chair Maricruz Aguayo-Tabor said that while the social studies department loves the idea of offering more classes that focus on ethnic studies, the department was not excited that they had to offer the Ethnic Studies course.
I hope that students realize that the historical narrative that most often appears in textbooks is not the entirety of the story. - Teacher Maricruz Aguayo-Tabor “I’m hopeful that given the flexibility, LASA will be able to offer an Ethnic Studies course which speaks to our student population,” Aguayo-Tabor said. “I hope that students realize that the historical narrative that most often appears in textbooks is not the entirety of the story. LASA students who come from minority communities already know this, and it’s incredibly gratifying to study and discuss the history that your family or community has shared in a more public context.” While teachers cannot change the scope and sequence of the course, they can create lessons
and use materials that best meet the needs of their students within a specific concept. Social studies teacher Adam Escandell, who will teach Ethnic Studies next year, hopes to hold sessions with LASA students in order to get their input into how best to modify the class for them and their interests. “Students really want our classes at LASA to be more aware of the history of racial and ethnic issues,” Escandell said. “I think that there is some concern that it is difficult for us at LASA because many of these contemporary educational issues that are connected to race and ethnicity here in Austin often has LASA at the forefront. I think it’s a real discussion that we have to have in that class and I think it’s a discussion students are excited to have, but maybe a little bit nervous about.” The course at LASA will largely be discussion and problem-based, a format in which Escandell looks forward to because it will helps students address and think critically about real-life problems facing the world today. Escandell anticipates that it will be a class with a light workload, but that will deal with very emotionally heavy topics. “Obviously we can’t solve all problems related to structural racism in the world, but we can talk about them in a solution-based way,” Escandell said. “We can also have assignments that can appreciate these issues in a solution-based way. One of my goals for the class is to talk about problems and try to come up with how we would go about solving them, or at least thinking about solutions.”
graphic by Lochlyn McClure
graphic by Kye
L ASA celebrates culture and hi stor y
Walking through the hallways of LASA, passionate lectures are heard from behind any classroom door. On Cultural Day, however, these lectures become decidedly more specific. All kinds of people from all over Austin set up shop in LASA classrooms to put on lectures to educate students on various cultures of their schoolmates and of the world around them. Freshmen English and Great Ideas teacher Justin Tapscott was one of the Cultural Day organizers, along with the student-led Diversity Council. Diversity Council sent out a survey earlier in the year in order to determine which cultures and activities students would be interested in learning more about. “They put together the list of the panels based on the interest of the LASA students, so we’re very proud of of how the presentations reflected first off the needs and wants of the students in general, and then secondly just any resources we could find in our community,” Tapscott said. “It reflects the school and the community both.” No matter what students were interested in, there was some lecture available to suit their tastes, sometimes even literally, as in the case
of the Pakistani food and culture panel. With the panels picked specifically according to the interests of LASA students, it was no wonder students were excited to listen. Sophomore Tara Lassiter was particularly animated in talking about the speakers she got to see. “I was really excited for it because I’m personally interested in religion, so I signed up for a lot of religious centered events,” Lassiter
It was such a cool opportunity to learn new things and reach out to new people in the community which is something I always value.
-senior Mia Crockett
said. “I got to learn a lot about shrines in Islam, motivations behind the witch hunts, and about religious synchronization: Buddhism and other religions like Christianity and how they interplay.” Freshman Alena Worhatch had her first Cultural Day this year, and chose to attend a panel
Sophomore Dhruv Hosali punches through a block of wood during an interactive martial arts session. photo by Jorge Villa
on LGBT issues in the workplace, among others. “I took sessions about issues I was already fairly invested in,” Worhatch said. “I do really care about those issues, so it was really good to see them from a professional perspective. And be able to be able to more accurately see what it is, not just read about these things on the internet.” While lectures were the most heavily featured option, there was also a widely attended dance panel in the gym. The panel was an extravaganza of traditional dances and music from all over the world. “I did get to go to the dance session in the gymnasium,” Tapscott said. “It was so so much fun to watch students participating in martial arts and trying to do different styles of dance, or a gymnasium full of high school students singing Edelweiss from The Sound of Music.” An event this large took lots of planning and networking to pull off, with students outside Diversity Council volunteering to help in any way they could. One such volunteer was senior Mia Crockett who was more than happy to talk about an event she saw so much heart being put into. “I thought it was such a cool opportunity to learn new things and reach out to new people in the community which is something I always
Irish dancers exhibit a traditional cultural dance as part of the Culture Through the Arts presentation. photo by Jorge Villa
value,” Crockett said. “That’s why I was really excited about culture day.” While the actual topics were the draw for the different panel’s attendees, the energy of the presenters was a bonus. They gave lectures based on their specific field of study, so they were often as excited as the students to get to share their livelihoods. “It was overall a great experience because the people were really passionate about it,” Lassiter said. “The guy talking about Buddhism had a wild German accent, he was all about Buddhism! That was his schtick! It was fun to see people talk about things they very clearly loved.” In the end, it was the respect and reverence with which the presenters treated their respective topics that made them so engaging, although their extensive knowledge of their subjects didn’t hurt. LASA students had a great opportunity to absorb all kinds of new information because of Cultural Day, and if they listened there was a lot to learn. “We heard such great feedback from the presenters about working with our students and how respectful they were, and that makes me feel very proud,” Tapscott said. “We presented ourselves well, I thought our students did such a great job and I was glad the student body itself was so wonderful and respectful and open to new ideas.”
the liberator april. 2, 2018
graphic by Kye Fisher
As of 2018, the annual SXSW festival has taken place for 25 years. Last year direct participation during SXSW totaled approximately 421,900 attendees.
What I learned at my first SXSW Mateen Kontoravdis
Walking into the registration center a day before the events started, I started to realize how phenomenal the next few days would be. While very excited for what was to come, I was also a bit nervous. This would be my first time attending SXSW (South by Southwest) and I was not sure exactly what to expect. However, after talking to some friends and a few other people I had met at the registration center about the festival, my enthusiasm continued building up. As I began planning my first day at the Interactive Festival, I started to become aware of the hundreds if not thousands of panel discussions, movie screenings, concerts, and other events that would be happening over the next week. On a mission to learn more about journalism and how it will evolve in the future, I filled my schedule with events relating to the industry. To my surprise, just two minutes after the session started, the ballroom hosting the panel discussion was already at capacity, with a line of people waiting for anyone who decided to leave. The next event I planned to attend didn’t start for almost two hours, so I walked around and managed to get into a session focusing on data journalism and its role in accountability journalism before it filled up. The panel of four speakers included professionals from the Associated Press and Vice News, and the audience was made up of almost 1,000 current and aspiring journalists, like myself, from around the world. Throughout the hour long session, the four panelists highlighted the important role data plays in journalism and how to properly source, handle, and publish data in news. Having walked in knowing virtually nothing on the topic, by the end of the session it felt like I had attended a lecture for a class I was genuinely interested in. You could say I’m an expert. And just like passing periods at school, with little time between sessions, I rushed through the streets of downtown Austin. I made sure I could get in to my next session before it filled up, making a pit stop for only a few minutes at a food trailer park, where you could pet goats who were also attending at festival. Over the four days that I was at SXSW, I had the chance to attend 14 different panel sessions and hear over 35 speakers covering a multitude of different topics. Additionally, I had a chance to stop by the Trade Show, where nations from all corners of the globe had come to display their best technology and ideas on the floors of the Austin Convention Center. From a pillow made to simulate a cat for those with allergies, to an app to track your favorite food trucks, to
robots capable of rapping and lightsaber fighting, the new tech was truly impressive and endless. My inner techy was going crazy as I witnesses all of the new technology being shown off and realizing the positive impacts they would soon have in our lives. Though I attended events covering various different topics, one constant remained the entire time: the enthusiasm was through the roof. No matter where I went or who I met, everyone was excited about what they were doing, even the volunteers guiding the thousands of people waiting to watch the next keynote speaker. This created an experience like none other. One of my favorite sessions I had the opportunity to attend was titled: “Shredding the Newspaper.” I was shocked by the title initially as I’m an avid supporter of newspapers and their importance in journalism, even as our world depends more on technology. To my surprise though, the panelists actually created the session to help journalists understand the balance between technology and print news that needs to exist in news rooms. Experiencing all the great events was something I will never forget. In just four short days, it felt as if I had accumulated over a year’s worth of knowledge from experts in different fields. SXSW almost felt like a dream school for me, giving me the freedom to learn about things that interest me from experts around the world. After being immersed in the festivities of SXSW for four days, I was inspired to keep studying subjects that fascinate me. Who knows? Maybe one I will be a part of a panel, discussing and inspiring others about a something I’m passionate about.
Left: SXSW attendees rush to different sessions in the Austin Convention center atrium. Right: LASA junior and web editor Mateen Kontoravdis takes a selfie with a dancing robot from KUKA Robotics Corporations. Photos by Mateen Kontoravdis.
The music division of SXSW hosts many genres of music and offers both free and purchasable events at venues across Austin. In 2017, 2085 official acts performed.
Daikaiju: King of the Monster Surf Max Randall
In today’s modern music culture, surf rock is not something on a lot of people’s minds. Plenty of current alternative and indie acts such as the Growlers, La Luz and Tijuana Panthers reference the original lo-fi sound of ‘60s legends such as Dick Dale and the Beach Boys. However, unless you’re from Orange County, California or you’re obsessed with Pulp Fiction, surf isn’t something that you listen to every day. This made it all the more surprising that my favorite act from South by Southwest this year was a surf punk band by the name of Daikaiju. The band, named after the Japanese film genre featuring giant rampaging monsters, is a surf band located out of Houston, Texas. Daikaiju has been performing for almost 20 years and has released two studio albums along with a handful of LPs and singles since 1999. Before my first encounter with the group, I had heard stories and seen pictures of their legendary stage shows, but nothing could prepare me for the monster show that was Daikaiju. All four members of the band perform shirtless and don individual red, white and black Kabuki masks. To add to the strangeness of the wardrobe alone, each member of the band do not speak during the entirety of the show, using only hand gestures, physical contact and in-your-face death stares to communicate with each other and with the audience. I first saw them at an event at the NLand Surf Park called Surf by Surf East. While the rest of the bands were excellent surf acts in their own right, Daikaiju took the event to another level. During their set, the lead guitarist, known only by his pseudonym, Secret-Man, made all twenty or so audience members stay absolutely quiet for one song, lay down for another and come as close as possible for most of the set, all while not uttering a single
word. The latter action resulted in Secret-Man getting assaulted on stage after he heckled an NLand worker because they would not come join the rest of the crowd. After the worker decked SecretMan off of the drums he was standing on, a crowd of fans chased the worker out of the venue. Sick. The rest of the set descended into further chaos. Secret-Man and Pulse-Man (bass) were both carried on shoulders and Blast-Man (drums) was balanced on a chair carried by my friend and I while he played on his drum kit that was also being lifted into the air. Finally, like icing on a cake from hell, Daikaiju sprayed lighter fluid on their instruments and lit them on fire before extinguishing the flames and handing their instruments to members of the crowd to make noise with while they danced around the audience. After the show I met the de-Kabukied members of the band, all of whom which gave me hugs and were genuinely excited that I loved the set. Secret man even gave me a free sticker and invited me to another gig of theirs at Empire Control Room the following day. Of course I went and enjoyed myself again in the fire setting, guitar shredding, face melting chaos that is Daikaiju. I even got to play Blast-Man’s symbols while he lit them on fire, smiling the entire time like the little fan-boy I had become. While what I said about surf music is true: that it is not the center of the music industry like it once was for a brief time in the ‘60s, bands like Daikaiju reinvigorate the genre like nothing I’ve ever seen. While their recorded studio albums are technically brilliant and most of the time feature relaxing surf tunes, it is nothing compared to the savagery that is their live show, a spectacle BlastMan referred to as a “great big circus act.” Thankfully, because of Daikaiju’s proximity to Austin, the band tours here often and I know I will definitely be at their next show. I recommend seeing them to anyone looking for a show they will never forget.
Daikaiju lead guitarist, Secret-Man, performs at NLand Surf Park. Photo by Max Randall.
the liberator april 2, 2018
SXSW Film Festival includes screenings of movies from all over the world. The festival also gives out five types of awards, including competitions for Documentary Feature and Narative Feature. In 2017, 7,685 films were submitted to the festival.
Female directors at SXSW Leni Milliken
The movie industry is receiving criticism recently for its lack of female contributors and female point of view. With sexual assault awareness campaigns such as Time’s Up and #MeToo, the problems women face in Hollywood are gaining more exposure than ever before. As a call to action, actress Natalie Portman pointed out the lack of female nominees for best director at this year’s Golden Globes, and now many film festivals have answered, including SXSW. According to Forbes, one third of the full-length films at this year’s SXSW Film Festival were directed or co-directed by women. The narrative feature competition held the highest majority of female directed films, with 80 percent of the films being directed by women. With this knowledge, I went into my SXSW film experience scouting out movies with a female perspective that is not common in blockbuster pictures. The first movie I saw was Sadie, a heartbreaking drama, written and directed by Megan Griffiths, that follows a teenage girl trying to cope with her mother’s blossoming romantic relationship with a new love interest, while her father is deployed overseas in a war zone. Griffiths is a reoccurring director at SXSW with her 2012 Audience Award winning drama Eden. Sadie told a unique story with a very specific tone, which came across seamlessly with help from the shots allowed by the close corters of the RV park it took place in. The film was very dialogue heavy and didn’t contain many particularly cinematic shots, but all of this contributed to the dark tone the film adopted. Each actor was vulnerable enough in their portrayal of their character for me, as a viewer, to completely accept their story as true. The story continues to become more heartbreaking as it moves along, but somehow is pulled together with the last intimate scene between Sadie and her mother that offers the audience enough resolution to not be in complete distress. Though hard to swallow, the film portrays many female characters having meaningful and real interactions and that makes it a film worth seeing. I was glad to watch a movie that superseded trope characters and followed a unique young girl exploring the world and dealing with her issues, a story not told often enough. I would recommend this film to people looking for a story of a motherdaughter relationship, people who love intense dramas or dark coming-of-age stories, and anyone willing to watch a heartbreaking tale like nothing they have seen before. The second movie I saw was writer-director Becca Gleason’s feature film debut, Summer ‘03. Summer ‘03 shares a commonality with “Sadie” in that it is another feminine coming of age story, but differs in that it is a more lighthearted dramedy. Joey King stars as the 16-year-old main character, Jamie, and the film begins with her grandmother’s last words to her that start her on a journey navigating her lack of a love life. This navigation leads her to an unexpected relationship with a young to-be-ordained priest at the neighborhood church, played by indie actor Jack Kilmer. This film was another very unique story that continued to surprise me throughout. The humor was not always to my taste, but I enjoyed following Jamie as she struggled with problems most teenage girls go through while exploring their position in the world as a woman. If you’re looking for a more lighthearted and funny, but equally original, drama I would recommend Summer ‘03. The film is full of personality and portrays a more believable version of teenage girls than what is often portrayed in big movies and tv. Even if both of these films had flaws and weren’t my favorite, it’s important to seek out movies that tell stories from different perspectives and have new and refreshing characters. It’s important to support the people in the film industry that previously weren’t given a proper opportunities, and that includes women.
Cinema goes virtual Carolina Gokingco
A series of escalators in the JW Marriott took me to The Virtual Cinema, an exhibition hosted by SXSW that showcased virtual reality (VR) cinema projects by producers around the world. With the room dark, except for an ambient purple glow, and filled with booths lined like a maze, the atmosphere seemed to represent the idea of VR: the promise of a more sensuous and immersive experience than what a simple movie screen can offer. The Virtual Cinema exhibition featured various projects, ranging from five to 40 minutes. Some projects were interactive, involving standing with a glove-like device and headset; others, you’d remain seated. A movie poster accompanied every booth, which were either minimally adorned with string lights or more elaborately decorated. One project, titled “Dinner Party,” was set, multiple forks and all, like a formal dining table. I lined up for a 20 minute short called Space Explorers: A New Dawn. As it was one of the longer works, it was allotted more room and VR headsets. Swivel chairs were arranged in rows, and people sat unresponsive. The way they looked inquisitively at the ordinary carpet floor or unknowingly stared each other down was funny, and the line seemed to move quickly. A set of headphones and VR goggles later, I was in space. Space Explorers was essentially a documentary telling the story behind several astronauts’ motivations, training, missions. I saw several rooms at NASA and aircrafts, even a satellite station. Through the lens, I could understand the appeal behind
SXSW attendee plays a video game with the virtual reality technology used at The Virtual Cinema. Virtual reality had a place not only at SXSW Film, but also at the Virtual Gaming Expo. photo by Elan McMinn
With gaming awards, expos, demos, and parties, SXSW Gaming is unlike other gaming conventions. Last year, 228 expos were featured at the convention.
South by Southwest (SXSW) has been a very prominent festival in Austin since 1987 and has been expanding every year. The first year only held 177 artists, 15 panels and 15 venues, however in 2017 there were 2085 artists, 320 panels and 104 venues. What once started as just a music festival with some speakers, has become a multifaceted event that stretches all across the city and hosts many big-name speakers such as Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Elon Musk to present at the different venues. In 2012, there was a push to include a gaming section into SXSW because of the rapid rise of “gaming culture” around the US following the popularity of games like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and Dark Souls 2. Though these games were not showcased at the event, it allowed for many smaller games and new technology in the gaming scene to be showcased to thousands of people. This has helped small games and gaming companies grow in popularity and notoriety. Recently, the video platform called YouTube has allowed for many to start careers making videos and entertaining the general public with them. With revenue from advertisements on their videos and sponsorships of their channels, these Youtubers are able to make a constant profit as they gain more subscribers. This is especially popular in the gaming community and the game showcased this year, Clash Royale, is no exception to this. One famous attendee at this year’s SXSW gaming expo goes by the name of “Chief Pat.” His real name is Patrick Hardy and he has accumulated over 2.5 million subscribers on YouTube. According to Hardy, he attended SXSW this year to support his new team of professional gamers. “I’m here at SXSW for my esports team, Tribe Gaming,” Hardy said. “We’re competing inside the Super Magical Cup for Clash Royale. It’s super exciting. Clash Royale is one of our main two games alongside Vainglory, and this is one of the first looks at our team in anticipation of the new Clash Royale League that’s coming out.” This event has helped expand the gaming company, Supercell’s, publicity for the new Clash Royale League that will be released soon. This Super Magical Cup was a tournament
VR. With the astronauts or technicians maintaining eye contact in what seemed like a natural conversation, I felt like an intern or interviewer, as opposed to a spectator in a theater. I was in the meeting room of NASA; underwater in the training pool, watching bubbles from the scuba masks rise to the reflective surface; in proximity to an American flag on the dusty, desolate moon. The best way I can describe it is like being in a dream, reality through a fuzzy, grainy lens. I experienced and saw more than what a movie director intended and camera allowed. My focus drifted in and out the headset, as I’d remember periodically I was actually in the exhibition room of the JW Marriott, not accompanied by asteroids out in space. I wondered what would happen if there was an emergency. The headset felt heavy and uncomfortably snug, like I was wearing a helmet or a scuba mask. Though the range of what I could see was the same, through the VR, the rooms felt smaller. Overall I was thankful for the experience, but also thankful to have weight off my head. The prospective impact of VR on the film and gaming industry and even on everyday life is exciting: there’s a future for and in VR. From shaping viewers’ experiences to being implemented in training simulations for an increasing range of occupations, VR’s place in all industries is rapidly expanding. It is quickly escaping the scope of an entertainment medium, and seeing how it’ll develop into clearer, sleeker designs is incredibly exciting.
that allowed for regular players to play against professionals and compete for prize money. Additionally, anyone who did well was also scouted for a chance to join one of the semi-pro teams in the league. “I don’t get a whole lot of chances to compete on stage anymore as a team owner, and being able to show my skills on stage,” Hardy said. “I ended up winning the first match and everyone was super excited. Afterwards we were also looking in case there were players to join the team.” Another attendee, LASA sophomore Kalen Bhakta, said he was excited about this event, and was not disappointed with the events that were showcased. “I came in being interested in Fortnite and Player Unknown Battlegrounds (PUBG),” Bhakta said. “When I got there I didn’t realize how big Clash Royale had gotten, but I thought it was a ton a of fun to watch.” Bhakta didn’t participate in the tournament, but said that he was very surprised about the fast growth of new mobile games. “Recently, Fortnite and PUBG released mobile versions of the games and I think it was inspired by the growth of other games like Clash Royale,” Bhakta said. According to Bhakta, even when not at the gaming convention, SXSW provided plenty of music and entertainment to make walking around downtown enjoyable. “I didn’t have to make it into the auditorium to see the people dressed up as everything from the members of KISS to some characters in a video game that I couldn’t place,” Bhakta said. A big element of SXSW is the city that hosts it, and it is through Austin that SXSW can provide expositions on large industries such as the gaming industry, as well as showcase fans from all over the entertainment world. “I saw a dragon going throughout the street, like a dragon bicycle with like 20 people inside of it, which was super crazy and interesting,” Hardy said. “I have been surprised lots of times since I moved to Austin, and that has been a great perk of moving here.”
3 4 5 photos by Elan McMinn
1. Commentators discuss strategy before the Clash Royale competition in the Super Magical Cup. Clash Royale is a free to download game that has quickly gained popularity. 2. Many attendees gather in the Open Play Area at the SXSW Gaming Convention. The gamers play Counter-Strike, one of the many games offered in this free-to-play area. 3. Super Soul Bros plays their jazz-funk fusion music for the Gaming Expo. The band combine jazz, funk, and classic video game tunes with their electronic instruments. 4. Convention attendee shows off his home-made costume. His Dr. Octopus costume and many others were featured in the Cosplay Contest. 5. Exploding Kittens advertizes their card game with a giant kitten display. Exploding Kittens Card Game is a classic card drawing game with a twist.
District realignment decoded Answering common questions about the district realignment for 2018-219
Q:Why are there different districts for Q:What is the UIL realignment and why football and volleyball/basketball? A: Unlike the other UIL sports, football is organized further does it happen? by enrollment size into two separate divisions, with the Sports Editor
A: Every two years, UIL redraws the district boundaries in order to keep up with new schools and fluctuating enrollment levels. They do this to make sure schools stay competitive in UIL competitions within their respective conferences. The realignment affects all sports under UIL sanctions. Sports like ultimate frisbee or girls lacrosse are club sports, so who they play remains unaffected by the realignment.
Q: How does this affect LBJ/LASA athletics? A: LBJ/LASA was moved to division 1 district 12 5A for football, while for volleyball and basketball we remained in 25 5A. Due to the petition by AISD to keep all the 5A schools in the same district, we remain with most of the same schools we are competing with this year except Austin High and Ann Richards were moved to 6A, replaced by Dripping Springs. Lockhart will be in district with us for all sports except football, which will have Seguin instead.
larger 5A schools sorted into Division 1 and the smaller schools in Division 2. AISD petitioned to keep all their 5A schools in the same district, putting them in Division 1 District 12. The difference between the football district from the other sports districts’ is instead of Lockhart, Seguin joins the district for football.
Q: What if they don’t like where they are placed, can they move?
A: Schools can appeal to their placement by UIL. For example, Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders appealed to their placement in district 25-6A. Ann Richards is placed by default in 6A because they are a magnet school, and do not share any athletic teams with a non magnet program. For a school to move to a new district, UIL requires unanimous vote from all the schools in the affected districts by the change. The vote was 17-1 with Lockhart being the lone school to vote no to the move, keeping Ann Richards in 6A with schools like Westlake and Lake Travis.
Football: District 12, Region 3, Division 1, Conference 5A Austin Crockett Austin Johnson Austin Lanier Austin McCallum Austin Regan Austin Travis Dripping Springs Seguin
All Other UIL Sports: District 25, Region 4, Conference 5A
A map of District 25 Region 4 Conference 5A for the 2018-2019 academic year. These teams include Crockett, LBJ, Lanier, Maccallum, Regan, Travis, Dripping Springs and Lockhart. photo courtesy of UIL Texas
Austin Crockett Austin Johnson Austin Lanier Austin McCallum Austin Regan Austin Travis Dripping Springs Lockhart
Relay makes a third place splash at state meet,” Longi said. “As for me, I also rested and got as much sleep as I could and watched what I was eating leading up to the meet.” Staff Writer Although there are many sacrifices made for the swim team there are, of course, many benefits and good experiences that make up for it, The LASA swim team made it to State over the February 16th weekend according to LASA freshman Lilli Gordon with many individual swimmers qualifying, as well as girls and boys “I didn’t think people were going to watch my race because club swim relays. The most notable places were the boys 400m freestyle relay team, is usually very individual, but when I hopped out of the pool literally half or freelay for short, who made third place and diver Willa Scanlon who the team was behind the block and they were all hugging me and they made third place in the girls individuals diving. were taking pictures and they were all so happy,” Gordon said. “And it LASA Sophomore Ava Longi, who went to state for girls individual 50 meant a lot to me to have so many people that care.” and 100 freestyle and Senior Marcella the 200 free and 200 Cannatti has just medley relays, has completed her last personal experience year on the LASA juggling school swim team and swim, club swim, ended it on a good school, homework note. and sleep. “It is a cliche “On the days I but swim team go to highschool is my second practice… I wake family,” Cannatti up at 5:30 to be on said. “As the deck at 6:30,”Longi youngest sibling said. “If I go to club in my family, it practice the night is fun to act in before as well I’m an older sibling really tired the whole role, not only for -LASA senior Marcella Cannatti next day. For club my assigned little practice, it actually sister but also for helps me to be more all of the younger productive. I do team members.” homework for about an hour when I get home, swim for two hours, and While this was a successful year for the pool jags they still want to focus then when I get home I sometimes do homework. It forces me to work on improvement and make sure they keep making and accomplishing before school and at lunch so that I can still go to practice and be in bed goals, believes Longi by 9:30 every night.” “I’m excited for the next swim season,” Longi said. I was sad when this Along with willing herself to wake up before the sun, Longi also made season ended, and I can’t wait for it to start again. Since I didn’t do as well other sacrifices leading up to state including her time and energy. as I would have liked at state this year, my goal for next year is still to “Everyone who went to state trained every night leading up to the medal at state, possibly win, and get best times while I’m there.”
It is a cliche but swim team is my second family. As the youngest sibling in my family, it is fun to act in an older sibling role, not only for my assigned little sister but also for all of the younger team members
the liberator april 2, 2018
Comeback Kid? This column is dedicated to the truth according to the opinions of the current sports editors. The topics discussed can range from anything pertinent at the time in the sports world at large to something small the editors have a passionate opinion on.
Remember the Titans. Cool Runnings. Rocky IV. All these movies have one thing in common: they are about the underdog pushing past the adversity and beating the odds to become a champion. The sports world loves the story of an underdog. The idea that any person with some hardwork and big dreams can accomplish anything they put their minds to is the ultimate fable. Similar to the underdogs turned wonderdogs, a good comeback story offers a nice morale boost. Comebacks are not limited to just the movies though, with sports legends like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Tommy John shrugging off serious illness, injury or personal issues to make triumphant returns to the sports they dedicated their lives to. The ESPY Awards show, sports’ Academy Awards, even has an accolade for the best comeback athlete of the year. It is evident that the sports world is full of apologues of people climbing to the summit of victory. Another type of narrative that captures the public’s eyes is the “fall from grace” stories about champions taking the unceremonious faceplants from the podium. These fables are almost always marred by personal issues, with names like Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods and Tonya Harding instantly coming to mind. Many of the athletes like Armstrong, Woods and Harding tried to make a comeback to their respective sports in some way. However, success was too far out of reach. The Spring League, a three week developmental scouting event similar to the NFL combine, except for professional football players, started on Mar. 28 and goes until April 11. This event is taking place at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex in Northwest Austin, with prominent Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel seen as the star attraction. Manziel is attempting to make a comeback to the league after being released by the Cleveland Browns on Mar 11, 2016 after less than two years with the team. Manziel was plagued with off-the-field problems during both his college and pro days, with more headlines about his partying and substance abuse than about his play. He was also charged with domestic violence after hitting then girlfriend Colleen Crowley in the ear and rupturing her eardrum. The list of off-the-field problems go on and on. However, Manziel pledged on “Good Morning America” saying he is sober and taking medication for bipolar disorder. In a statement to Bleacher Report, Manziel said he missed football and was ready to try and make a comeback to the NFL. The vast majority of NFL Comeback Players of the Year have returned from serious injuries, though a few players have been able to push past their personal issues to return to the game. Michael Vick was suspended for one year for being involved in a dog fighting scandal. Public opinion was split on whether Vick should be allowed back into the league after the “Bad News Kennelz” dog fighting scandal came to light. Understandably, people were very upset over the animal cruelty and illegal gambling Vick took part it in and viewed his actions as inexcusable and indefensible. Other people against Vick’s reinstatement believed that he had his chance to play in the league and blew it, so the NFL should move on to younger talent who deserve a chance. Vick did end up getting a second chance and salvaged a decent career as a journeyman and backup for the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers. Whether Manziel can make a comeback or not comes down to his play in The Spring League and if he can convince teams that he has matured throughout his time away from the NFL. Whether Manziel should make a comeback is another beast entirely. If Manziel’s only issues were his addiction problems, then reinstatement may be possible, similar to that of former teammate and current Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. However, Manziel has a violent streak and problems with domestic violence and the message the NFL would be sending by allowing him back in is not a good one. The NFL has a history of allowing players with questionable or violent pasts and problems to continue playing. Former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was suspended ten games in connection to domestic violence charges against his girlfriend, though the suspension was later lowered to only four games by an arbiter. Hardy was released by the Panthers after the 2014 season in March due to his charges, however the Dallas Cowboys signed Hardy later that month to a one year 11.3 million dollar contract. People were angered by his signing and rightfully so. The fact the league let him back onto the field is inexcusable. It took Gordon two years to make it back into the league due to his problems with marijuana, yet Hardy was signed by a teamless than a week after he was released for beating up and threatening his girlfriend. Hardy is not the only player with a very questionable past who is still allowed to play. Players like Adrian Peterson who was found guilty of child abuse, Ben Roethlisberger who was accused of sexual assault and Ray Lewis who was involved in a double homicide, were still allowed to play, yet Colin Kaepernick has not been signed by anyone after kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the US. If Johnny Manziel gets picked up by a team, they are broadcasting a message that domestic violence is okay, but athletes talking about problems in our country is not. People deserve a second chance and football players are people too, but by continuing to let players with violent criminal pasts play professional football, the NFL is inadvertently creating a stigmatism that violent behavior is okay. Like other celebrities, athletes act as a role models to younger generations. Kids should not up idolizing people who beat others and thinking that behavior is permitted. The NFL must keep in mind that by giving Johnny Manziel a second chance, regardless of their intentions, they are broadcasting a message that domestic violence is okay as long as you are good at tossing a ball.
the liberator april 2, 2018
First track meets continue at full sprint Helena Lara
LASA Junior Yaseen Abdalla running the two mile at the Temple Track Relays on Mar. 3. Abdalla won the race with a time of 9:56. photo by Sarah Porter
With last year’s track season being one of the best in the past years, because of their great performance at state and regionals, it’s going to be hard to beat, but the athletes are up for the challenge and ready to make all their hard work pay off, says LASA senior and varsity track runner Hannah Porter. Last season the girls varsity team, including LASA junior Rachel Horowitz, LASA sophomore Daylyn Gilbert, and LASA seniors Sarah Porter and Hannah Porter, broke the stadium record for the 4x100 at the preliminary race and broke their own record again in the finals. After breaking their record twice for the 4x100, they placed third at state. To practice and get ready for their meets, track athletes practice everyday, except for Friday after school. Practice consists of many varied speed and distance workouts, as well as workouts in the weight room to make sure runners stay fit. Hannah Porter believes it takes a lot of dedication to be on track, especially if you are on varsity and are working towards going to the state meet. “You have to give up your social life because practice is everyday except Friday after school and then most of the meets are either Friday or Saturday,” Porter said. “So you kind of don’t have that much time to hangout with your friends or anything which is kind of a bummer,” Porter said. Despite the large time commitment, Porter believes that practice times don’t prevent athletes from having fun, especially because people make friends within the team. As well as being friends, the athletes create a large support system that pushes them to work harder and help then get back up on their feet when they don’t do very well between themselves and the coaches, according to Horowitz, who runs with Porter on the girls varsity track team. “There’s a lot of people on the track team and so you get to hang out with them,” Porter said. “It feels like you have like a really good support system and whenever you do well your coaches like pat you on the back and tell you to do better next time even if you did do well.” One of the reasons that Horowitz accounts for the great track season last year was, as Porter stated, the cohesiveness and friendship based environment, as well as the fact that the majority of the team were not freshmen, and thus had more experience with high school track. “I would say it was probably the cohesiveness and family based environment that the team had, that would be the main thing I would say because it just made everything much more enjoyable,” Horowitz said. “Most of us were not freshmen, so we knew what we were doing, and we had a routine.” Expectations about this season’s accomplishments can be high based on the goals accomplished last season, but the track team is willing to dedicate themselves even more this season and work harder so that they can achieve more than last season, according to Porter. “I think everyone is expecting us to do even better just because last year we had a really good season,” Porter said. The track team’s goal this season is to get to regionals, and then state, so that they can get enough points to win state this season and bring the trophy back home to LBJ. “My goal for this reason is to win state, that’s our goal, to get first in the 4 x 1, 4 x 2 and 4 x 4 so that we will definitely rack up enough points for us to do well,” Porter said. The track team holds high expectations for this season, believes Horowitz. And unfortunately obstacles this season have already arisen, such as injuries and time commitment dilemmas. “I would say this season has been a little off so far because of injuries and we haven’t had as many people able to show up for whatever reason, whether academics or injuries,” Horowitz said. The athletes all agree that it will be hard to beat last season’s success and achieve this season’s goals of winning state, but they are up for the challenge and will train as hard as possible to do well this season believes Eve Nguyen, a freshmen on the team who began running track this year. “I’m going to push myself to go faster and if something is really hard I can’t just stop, I have to keep going,” Nguyen said. “It’s important to push yourself your body hard as possible in practice so that your hard work can pay off at meets.”
LBJ Basketball: fourth round falter Oliver Powers
The buzzer sounds in the Northside Sports Gym on the outskirts of San Antonio. Players and fans in green and yellow celebrate the team’s moving on to the Regional Final. The white jerseys of the LBJ Boys’ Basketball team make their way out off of the court, heads held high, despite the loss. This season marks the third year in a row the Jags have advanced to the fourth round of the playoffs only to lose out. This year, the loss came at the hands of Laredo’s J. W. Nixon High School by 13 points. The 2015-1016 and 2016-2017 seasons ended after loses of only one and two points respectively. According to Head Coach Freddie Roland however, losing that far into the playoffs is hard to swallow no matter the score. “The last three years have been new kids, and that’s tough,” Roland said. “You almost have to have two or three seniors to help run the team, lead the kids. I’m a little disappointed. This year we lost by 13 points, but the other two years we were about two points away. That kind of sticks with you.” With this in mind, LBJ junior and starting guard Brian Batts said
the season was positive overall. “I feel pretty good about the season as a whole,” Batts said. “We had a lot more wins than losses which is obviously a good thing.” Even with this year’s loss being more one sided than in years prior, according to Roland, he sets the same goal for his team every year: win state. “My goals are always to get into the playoffs and try to win the state championship,” Roland said. “That’s where all of [my team] start off, a lot of them don’t make it to that goal.” Roland’s goals may be ambitious considering the last time the Jags made it to the State Championship Final Four was 2008-2009. However, the current sophomore class boasts 12 players between varsity and junior varsity who, Roland says, will play an important role in the team’s future success. “Sophomores will be juniors, I tell them they’re juniors now,” Roland said. “I’d like to see Antwan McMillian continue to grow. He played sophomore point guard for us, he’s got the experience now. Jordan Teal, he made defensive player of the year in our district as a sophomore, and that’s hard to do. I got some pretty good sophomores coming up, I’m expecting them to do great things.” According to Jordan Teal, LBJ sophomore and starting guard, his award is well deserved. ADVERTISEMENT
“Winning defensive player of the year meant a lot to me this year,” Teal said. “It just showed that all my hard work this year payed off and that I played my role as a teammate.” According to Batts, even with a lot of talent staying, the team has work to do in the offseason if they want to go further. “I think we can make another deep run next year,” Batts said. “Our team was young this season so gaining some experience will bring a lot to the team. We have to hit the weight room in the offseason and do a lot of conditioning in order to get prepped for the season.” Even though the Jags haven’t won state yet, the boys’ basketball team has made themselves something of a staple as district champion, losing the title only once in Roland’s 20 year tenure as head coach. But, Roland says, as long as they make the playoffs, they have a shot. “I’ve been here 20 years,” Roland said. “I’ve been involved in about 16 district championships by myself, co-championship three times, and only lost one district championship. That’s kind of natural for me now, we have to win district. What I always tell them also is that they have 4 spots to make the playoffs, it turns into a new season once you make the playoffs.”
the liberator april 2, 2018
King of the hill
Located in downtown Austin, the iconic Hope Gallery Graﬃti Park at Castle Hill has served as a welcoming place for anyone who wants to take photos, get a good view of the city, add their own art to the myriad of graﬃtis or have a diﬀerent place to hang out with friends. It is now being relocated to a six acre property at Carson Creek Ranch in East Austin and will be opening soon. Below, spray paint artist Gamma Reyes decided to portray his feelings towards contemporary music. Reyes believes that the new sounds teens rave about are ruining the artistic integrity of music that evoked emotions from the heart.
Imma miss Castle Hill because it was a place where I could express my feelings and just vibe with the environment with no judgement from the rest of society
-Gamma Reyes, an Austin artist
Photos by Jorge Villa