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wingspan • october 26, 2009

• Staff Editorial

Schools should do more to teach Internet dangers

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Do you think that schools should do more about Internet safety?

sites for students in social studies classes are blocked for “weapons.” Who would have ever guessed that weapons were used in wars? Education is the answer. Students need to be taught what the dangers are and how to avoid them. They need to learn how to evaluate the authenticity and value of websites for research purposes. Teachers

need to address these issues since in many cases parents have no clue what the Internet harbors. We propose that school systems do more than just block sites. Filters don’t have brains. A curriculum instructing teens about Internet dangers needs to be implemented. Teenagers must be educated, or they will remain clueless to threats that the Internet poses.

“I think they should do more. Whenever you do a search, it doesn’t filter out everything and you end up with a lot of inappropriate things mixed in with what you searched for.”

“No, the school should block less. A lot of times when you’re doing research, there’s a website that would be really useful, but you can’t use it because it’s blocked.” “I think the Internet at school is already very well blocked. You can’t get on any sites with any profanity on them. I think the school system should keep it (restrictions) as it is right now.” Brayden Dickerson sophomore

Diane Gromelski freshman

Hannah Wilson junior

“I think our Internet is safe. I think they’ve blocked enough so you have a choice in where you go, even to do research. Many sites I try to get on are blocked, even for just one or two profane words.” Drew Adams senior

• Viewpoint

Should smoking in the military be banned?

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ervicemen and women abandon multiple aspects of their lives that are legal in civilian society, but not acceptable in the military, such as freedom of speech. This contract between the military and individual soldiers was tested this summer when our country’s service members learned of a new policy. As of July, the U.S. Army is enforcing smoking regulations. The Army will be doing so alongside the Pentagon, which banned smokKiersten Ellsworth ing in buildings on bases Asst. News Editor years ago and the Air Force, which has had smoking guidelines in place for about two years. The ban will apply to 781,000 soldiers as well as to the Army’s 450,000 civilian employees. The policy states that, “Smoking is prohibited in Department of Armyoccupied space, except for designated smoking areas that are necessary to avoid undue inconvenience to persons who desire to smoke.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates has already defined one of these designated smoking areas as war zones, where smoking is often the heaviest. The ban, recommended in June by the Institute of Medicine after completing a study requested by the Department of Defense, recommends phasing out tobacco products over a five to 10 year period. When the institute’s recommendations were released, the American Lung Association said the U.S. military should establish a historic tobacco ban much like the military moved to end racial segregation and to accept women. This historic step forward would also set a good example. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of high school students are current cigarette smokers in the United States. Instead of negative advertising and peer pressure, a positive military role model could influence these teens. While watching TV, a new nonsmoking image would be related to the “Army Strong” advertisements. The military already brings to attention health-related behaviors, such as alcohol abuse and poor physical fitness. Treating tobacco use as another unhealthy behavior is a positive move, especially when smoking tobacco hinders one’s ability by impairing physical fitness, increasing illness and premature death and increasing health care costs. Although the danger of smoking is widely known, 32 percent of service members smoke, with the highest smoking rates occurring in the Army (38 percent). The most frightening effect of military smoking lies in the 2010 budget of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, where overall medical care accounts for $47.4 billion. These costs include $5 billion to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is caused by smoking in eight out of 10 patients. Kicking tobacco could save the military health services as much as $100 billion a year. EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Joy Owens Jessica Tobin MANAGING EDITOR Elizabeth Huntley SENIOR EDITORS Ryan Duckett Kyle Keith

ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR Kiersten Ellsworth

OPINION EDITOR Kaylan Proctor

ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR Lindsey Fore

ASSISTANT OPINION EDITORS Kayla Sciupider Josh Wentzel

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Katie Huntley

ASSISTANT ENTERTAINMENT EDITORS Meredith Cole Hailey Robinson

JUNIOR EDITOR Katie King

FEATURE EDITOR Ashley Roy

NEWS EDITOR Carly Holland

ASSISTANT FEATURE EDITOR Whitney Howell

SPORTS EDITOR Matt Thielke ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITORS Kevin Robinson Camen Royse

‘Energy czar’ needs some moderation

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Art by Katie Huntley

he Internet is a scary place. Although hundreds of millions of people go online to surf the net every day, more than ever it’s becoming hazardous. Adults as well as teenagers have their identity stolen by criminals, and children have their innocence taken advantage of by sexual predators. Our generation has been raised on technology, weaned on the Internet. Teenagers often act as if the web holds no danger for them, not when they’ve used it since they were toddlers. Perhaps it’s naivete; perhaps it’s innocence. Either way, teenagers think they are invincible, but the Internet is a serious exception. Predators can lie about their age on sites such as Myspace or Facebook and convince children they’re trustworthy. A sobering example is the case of Megan Meier, who met a “boy” named Josh through Myspace. Josh “talked” to her for several weeks before saying cruel things about her and ignoring her, causing Meier to commit suicide. It was later discovered that ‘“Josh” was a fictional person, created by the mother of one of Meier’s ex-friends. But not all danger on the Internet comes from others. Sometimes, students can create serious problems for themselves. Teenagers post pictures of themselves on social networking sites such as Myspace or Facebook, and a growing number of college admissions officers and employers are using these sites to research applicants. If the pictures they find show the student participating in illegal or irresponsible activities, then they may not hire or admit that person. Schools need to do more to teach the dangers of the Internet. Web filters used by the school give a false sense of security and are not the answer. Supposedly “bad” sites are blocked, although in many cases the sites aren’t bad at all. For instance, important research

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FEATURE WRITERS Alisha Carland Natalie Rice Catherine Swift Michael Turlington STAFF WRITERS Collin Armstrong Mariah Case Zac Cole Ashley Heywood Hailey Johns Miri McClung Amy Taylor Kristen Woods

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reedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to petition the government are all rights that every American citizen is entitled to. Along with these freedoms, citizens also have the right to smoke almost anywhere they please, but this right may end if they join the military. Why should this right end when you decide to take on the most stressful task Kayla Sciupider in the world of protecting our counAsst. Opinion Editor try? One in three people in the military smoke, and if smoking is banned, won’t this discourage smokers from joining the military, resulting in fewer people to keep America safe? Apparently the Institute of Medicine doesn’t think so. A study by the Institute of Medicine is calling for a phased-in ban over a period of years. It recommends requiring new officers and personnel to be tobacco-free, eliminating tobacco use on military installations, expanding treatment facilities and ending the sale of tobacco on military property. Everyone knows that quitting an addiction like nicotine is very difficult to do. Nicotine is the most addictive drug, more addicting than even heroin. With such a tough addiction to deal with, how could the military personnel be expected to quit? Obviously, tobacco has many adverse effects, but it also can have some positive effects. According to an interview by CNN reporters with Gen. Russel Honore, soldiers at war need to puff. “When you’re tired and you’ve been going days on end with minimum sleep, and you are not getting the proper meals on time, that hit of tobacco can make a difference,” Honore said. The pressure of protecting our country is huge. Soldiers at war have to deal with the fact that they may end someone’s life, and that’s a lot to deal with. Some soldiers are so traumatized by war that they turn to suicide. They need a way to get away from it all every once in a while, and the occasional smoke break has historically proven to be a good way to do so. “They need that cigarette break for stress relief,” Bobby Carter, a retired veteran who served 20 years in the U.S. Navy said. “I’m totally against that (smoking ban), and I think the Pentagon should leave it alone.” The suicide rate has hit record numbers in the military, according CNN. It shows that the Army will report 128 confirmed suicides for last year and an additional 15 suspected suicides in cases under investigation. The confirmed rate of suicides was 20.2 per 100,000 last year. A ban on smoking could possibly worsen this problem, according to Sgt. First Class Gary Johnson.

wingspan

Talons & Feathers Feather to the successful pep rally to kick off the school year and to the school spirit evident at the homecoming pep rally last week Talon to the nonstop rain that has plagued the fall sports teams Feather to renovations to the school cafeteria that have resulted in shorter lines Feather to the schoolwide support for the Carland, Jarvis and Hodges families following the tragic accident in August

nce upon a time, I was a freshman. I sat in the backroom of the journalism room, wide-eyed with fright whenever a senior spoke to me. I envied them as they removed their lunches from the mini refrigerator and microwave. I dreamed of the day when I, too, would be as Jessica Tobin cool as they. Many things have changed. I’m now a senior myself, complete with senioritis in all its flourishing glory, but I hope that the freshmen aren’t as frightened of me as I was when I was their age. However, other things have not changed. For one, I still can’t use the backroom mini fridge and microwave. Why? Because they’re gone. At the end of last school year, in an attempt to cut costs, the Henderson County School Board hired a so-called “energy czar.” The school system would pay the man $60,000 if he saved the system at least $60,001 in energy costs. The idea was that if we cut down on energy use, that money could be put to more useful things. The first action the energy czar took was to ban small appliances in classrooms. So good-bye mini fridge, microwave and coffee maker. We wanted to collect $100 to pay the school system for the energy that our appliances would use over the course of the year, but no one accepted our offer. Even though the average mini fridge uses only $30 per year in energy, we were turned down. The school board could have turned a profit on our need for spaghettios and warmed-up leftovers. I agree that cutting energy is a good thing in today’s world. With global warming and pollution, our environment is deteriorating, and consuming less energy is an excellent way to help protect our planet. With the county’s recessiondepleted budget, saving on energy has the added bonus of saving some extra cash. However, some of the newly created policies for classrooms are bordering on impractical. Teachers have been instructed to adjust their blinds during the day so that the maximum amount of sunlight comes through on cold days and the minimum amount on hot days. What teacher has time to constantly adjust blinds according to the sun’s position in the sky? Do we want teachers teaching or adjusting blinds? There are better ways to go about saving energy. For example, why do all the computers in the school need to be turned on all the time? That’s a lot of energy being used. And do lights in classrooms need to be on while classes and teachers are at lunch? How about cutting off the air conditioning in rooms that are ice cold? Maybe the county should try to implement some simple, common sense ideas instead of going to extremes. In the long run, that would save a lot of money and energy. Besides, if every teacher who lost a mini fridge paid to operate it, then the county could make a lot of money off of my ramen noodles.

The student forum of West Henderson High School is published seven times each year by the newspaper journalism class. The purpose of Wingspan is to convey school and community news to the students, faculty, administration and community. Wingspan content is determined by an editorial board of student editors. Wingspan is a Southern Interscholastic Press Association All-Southern, National Scholastic Press Association All-American, Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist and N.C. Scholastic Media Association All-North Carolina and Tar Heel Award publication. Staff editorials express the opinion of the editorial board. Columns reflect the opinions of the writer. Circulation is 1,200. Printed by The Mountaineer of Waynesville, NC 28786. Contact the staff at wingspan@henderson.k12.nc.us.


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