Arlington’s Fourth Scoopermania: AHS Students Scoop for a Cure!

AR-180519612
Photo by Wicked Local

By Connor Rempe

The members of Arlington High School’s Scoops Club are planning this years’ annual Scoopermania event. Scoopermania is a nationwide fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund, an organization that supports research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Hosted on the lawn of the Cyrus E. Dallin Museum in Arlington Center, Scoopermania brings the community together over a sweet treat: ice cream! For just five dollars, customers get unlimited ice cream with toppings. This year, for the first time, local bands will even be performing. In the past three years, the event has seen huge success, raising over $10,000 towards cancer research. The organizers of the event are AHS students who reach out to the community for all aspects of the fundraiser. Local ice cream stores provide all of the ice cream, and many other businesses donate materials, as well as monetary support, for renting equipment.

The president of the club, Sagar Rastogi, sums up Scoopermania as “a great event for families and friends that brings the community together over a few scoops of ice cream, while also raising money for a great cause.” This year’s Scoopermania will be hosted on Saturday, May 19th from 1 to 5 PM. It’s a great opportunity to eat some ice cream, listen to music, and, most importantly, fight against cancer.

 

Advertisements

AHS Compost

By Jessie Cali

Arlington High School is implementing a new pilot composting program in the school cafeteria. Every Friday, AHS students will have the option to discard their food scraps, napkins, compostable trays, paper plates, and paper food boats into collection toters lined with compostable bags in the cafeteria. Black Earth Compost, a compost collection service, will then process and distribute the contents to local farms.

During the pilot period, the Arlington Department of Public Works will cover the cost of the collection through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Maya Pockrose, a junior at Arlington High School, attended a semester school program in Maine this past fall where she was inspired to bring sustainable practices such as composting to AHS.

When describing her experience at the semester school, Pockrose said, “By harvesting and then eating much of the food we ate, then helping to compost it on site, we were able to clearly see the process and the nutrient cycle and how food waste could be used beneficially. No food scraps were wasted there, and when I returned to AHS I wanted to bring with me that same spirit of natural resource conservation and environmental awareness.”

Pockrose spearheaded the initiative, sending a proposal to Arlington sustainability coordinator Rachel Oliveri along with the AHS administration.

“Student participation in the pilot is critical to its success,” Oliveri said on the new program,  “Food waste is a concerning global issue. The US wastes about 126 billion pounds of food per year. In Arlington, our food waste goes to an incinerator to be burned. In other parts of the country, food waste sits in landfills. Both release greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. Composting is a much better option, as the food scraps and paper trays combine and biodegrade into a nutrient-rich soil supplement that supports new plant and tree growth.”


Six of the other Arlington Public Schools (Bishop, Brackett, Dallin, Peirce, Stratton, and Thompson), also have compost buckets in their cafeterias.

The goal of this program is “not only to improve our sustainability as a school but also to raise awareness about the environmental issues we are facing and how we can actually help,” Pockrose added, “Composting is an easy, attainable way to ensure that the nutrients in food waste go back into the earth instead of into landfills.”

 

AHS Students Create Online Magazine

angelhead magazine

By Ellie Crowley

AHS students have always been known for their creativity, and are a continuous source of pride for the community with their art shows, music exhibitions, and theater performances. However, sophomores Maren Larkin and Molly O’Toole felt that the community was lacking the proper means to truly express their creativity freely beyond the high school. In the fall of 2017, the girls started Angelhead Magazine, which is “an artistic platform for the creative youth of Boston”—in other words, “an online art magazine for teens.”

Larkin and O’Toole first thought of the magazine after participating in a summer film photography workshop. After collaborating with other artists within the workshop for two years, Larkin says that “I started thinking about how cool it would be if we could all connect and share our art together.” O’Toole affirms this idea, saying “We wanted to create a space where the hard work and creativity of our peers is appreciated.” The girls’ motivation to to share their work led to the launching of Angelhead Magazine in the fall.

The magazine’s name was inspired by a line from the poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg. In Larkin’s words, “He writes about ‘angelheaded hipsters’ which struck me as kind of funny and interesting all at the same time.” Though originally unsure of the name, the pair kept returning to Angelhead Magazine, and it stuck. When asked if it has been difficult establishing themselves, Larkin says that it has been “easy and hard all at the same time. We definitely have a long way to go,” adding that they have published two bi-monthly collections since the launch. She explains that “one of the hardest things has been getting in touch with artists outside of Arlington—our first collection was almost entirely Arlington based.” However, O’Toole adds, “as we post more collections, and it grows, it becomes easier to get in touch with kids outside of our school and expand our circles.” The girls have also heavily utilized social media to reach out to local artists and found that teens are “very eager to contribute.” They realized that a significant amount of the content submitted has documented the local marches and protests, which adds a political aspect to the magazine that they hadn’t expected but greatly support. O’Toole notes, “We think that art and activism are closely tied, and often the best art is the kind that provokes social change.” The girls have loved the political additions and encourage artists to submit more because, in their words, “[activism] is very important to us and our vision for the magazine.”

Angelhead Magazine has received a great amount of support from the artistic community. Larkin adds that “I think it’s an idea that a lot of people have dreamt of pursuing,” and that she’s pleased that they have created a space to further connect the community. If you’re interested in checking out Larkin and O’Toole’s work, be sure to visit https://angelhead-mag.squarespace.com/.

Girls Frisbee Team Becomes a Spring Sport

image1
Clara Stewart, senior captain of girls ultimate team

By Eliza McKissick

This spring, an all-girls ultimate frisbee team was established at Arlington High School for the first time. Previously, girls could join the co-ed ultimate team; however this year there was enough interest to form an all-girls team.

Senior Clara Stewart was a captain of the co-ed team her sophomore and junior year, but has since decided to dedicate her time to forming the new all-girls program. Stewart says she spent a couple of years thinking about establishing an all girls program, but there was never a great push for it. However, this year Stewart explained that the “timing seemed right [and] there seemed to be enough interest.” With 18 girls on the roster, Arlington High was able to establish an all girls ultimate frisbee team

Junior Lilah Vieweg is new to ultimate frisbee, but is excited to get involved with the sport. Vieweg initially joined because she knew “everyone else would be a beginner, so [she] wasn’t too worried.” Other members agreed that they felt welcome to join, regardless of their experience level. According to Stewart, ultimate frisbee has a “great sense of community, where everyone is focused on helping each other succeed.” It is clear that this sense of community has made its way to the AHS girls team.

Since ultimate frisbee is not recognized as an MIAA sport, the team will operate as a club. For this reason, they will not receive school funding; however, they will be able to design their own jerseys and choose their team name. Stewart explains that the “team will be going through parks and rec to get field time.” Players will be responsible to pay for field time, jerseys, transportation, and any other costs that come with playing. Stewart shares that this can make it “hard to recruit since it can get expensive.” The team will be equipped with a few different volunteer coaches. Geoa Geer, who works at an ultimate frisbee organization known as BUDA,  and who is an ultimate world champion is one of the volunteer coaches. A few neighboring towns, such as Lexington and Newton, have girls programs already established. The Arlington High girls team will compete against these other teams in friendly scrimmages.

Equipped with excellent coaching and motivated players, the newly established Arlington High School all-girls ultimate frisbee team seems to be a great position for their first season.

 

16 Year-Olds are Ready to Vote…So Why are We Waiting?

download

By Connor Rempe

On March 15th, much of the student population walked out of Arlington High School and stood in front of the main doors to protest our country’s current gun control regulations. Student leaders made speeches and presented statistics in an attempt to grab the attention of politicians across the country. However, there was one speech in particular that stood out. Freshman Genevieve Baldwin used her time at the podium to warn this country’s leaders that our time is coming. Soon we will be able to vote and it is clear that our generation has a strong and powerful voice. She said that we had always been told by our parents that “someday you’ll be old enough” and that now our “someday was coming.” While this message might be inspiring, I could only think one thing while listening to it: “Why wait for someday? Why can’t someday be now?” We were told “someday” as kids, but if there is one thing I am certain of it is that the people on the steps of the high school that day were not children in the traditional sense. We were engaged in the democratic process more than most adults and ready to make a change. The leadership of youth in today’s America has proven that teens shouldn’t be considered apathetic children but rather a driving force in shaping the future. Furthermore, in order to allow teens to influence the laws and lawmakers that very much influence them, the legal voting age ought to be lowered to 16 years old.

The debate over voting age has pervaded U.S. history as early as 1942 and most notably during the Vietnam War.  During WWII, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt lowered the minimum draft age from 21 to 18, and while at the time voting ages were decided by states, across the board the legal age to vote was 21. 18-year-olds were conscripted without any say in the process of their government. “Old enough to fight, Old enough to Vote” became a slogan for the fight for voting rights and in 1942 Georgia lowered the minimum age to vote in state and local elections to 18. Many states followed suit. Congress, however, did not until similar circumstances arose in the Vietnam war and moved them to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today, the situation is similar; a group of empowered, young people want a say in the important decisions that affect their lives.

Those who oppose lowering the minimum voting age often question why 16-year-olds deserve to be given the vote. David Davenport of Forbes feels that until 16-year-olds pay taxes or can be asked to participate in the military, they should not be able to dictate the actions of those who do. Additionally, Davenport says, support for lowering the age in the government by senators such as Nancy Pelosi is purely partisan. He says that until teens have to pay taxes, they are more frequently liberal-leaning. Ultimately, Davenport claims, until we have “evidence that we need or even want 16-year olds voting,” there is no reason to make a change.

While these concerns are valid, they rely on misconceptions about the motivations of teenagers. People, let alone teenagers, don’t vote for only themselves. Studies by the American Psychological Association show that by the age of 16 teens can gather and process information, as well as weigh pros and cons in low-pressure situations, such as voting. Teens think about many different angles when making decisions, so the fact that they themselves don’t pay taxes doesn’t disqualify them from being able to vote based on what they think is best for the country and their families. Secondly, we want 16-year-olds voting because they have unique and educated opinions, which are always necessary for a good democracy. In order for that voice to be heard to its fullest extent, the voting age ought to be lowered.

Today’s youth have demonstrated that they are ready and willing to participate in the democratic process. In order for their voice to not only be heard but also affect real change, they need to be given the most powerful tool in our government today: the ability to vote.

 

 

Works Cited

Davenport, David. “No, We Shouldn’t Lower The Voting Age To 16.” Forbes, 25 May 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddavenport/2016/05/25/no-we-shouldnt-lower-the-voting-age-to-16/#7e382a55531e. Accessed 26 Apr. 2018.

History.com Staff. “The 26th Amendment.” History.com, A+E Networks, 2010, http://www.history.com/topics/the-26th-amendment. Accessed 26 Apr. 2018.

Steinberg, Laurence. “Why We Should Lower the Voting Age to 16.” The New York Times, 2 Mar. 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/02/opinion/sunday/voting-age-school-shootings.html. Accessed 26 Apr. 2018.

Model Congress Competes In Philadelphia

By Isaiah Donovan

On Thursday, March 22nd, club members from Arlington High School boarded a train to Philadelphia. The Model Congress convened with other chapters nationwide at the University of Pennsylvania, where schools from across the country were invited to participate in a model of the legislative process. There, students proposed bills of their own and debated for support in committees, before rolling the propositions out to full floor debates.

Most weeks, Model Congress meets in Room 306 during X Blocks on Tuesdays. In this time, they propose bills and practice their argumentative skills. These sessions are often held as preparation for the Philadelphia convention, but some members come every week just to debate. The club’s meetings were put to a much larger scale during their trip to UPenn. On arrival, participants were assigned into various committees, where they voted on which bills to move forward with. After multiple committee sessions in a day, a full session was held to decide on which bills to pass.

Model Congress members had previously prepared bills to suggest to their confederates. Zach Garrigus, a Model Congress member of three years “proposed a bill that would extend the presidential term limits from two terms to three terms.” Zach not only likes proposing his own bills, but also seeing the bills of others take shape. “There was a bill that made it easy for non-convicted criminals to serve in the military, which I thought was very cool.”

At face value, debating for hours may seem dull. However, the reality is much different.. “In all honesty, I started Model Congress because it would look good on my college resume, but it turned out to be a lot of fun.” says Patrick Gallagher, a junior who went on the trip. “It’s a rewarding experience, and you really get some insight into the legislative process. Plus, the campus is very fun to explore at UPenn.” Though the majority of those in attendance were from the Northeast, many students enjoy the chance to see like-minded peers from different parts of the country. Gallagher notes that he “had a great time discussing with the other committee members, even when arguing.”

Gallagher encourages all students who are interested in Congress, the government or debating in general to come by the Model Congress during one of their meetings. “It never hurts to try something new out,” says Gallagher, “and many people may find an affinity for it.”

The Truth About Standardized Testing: SAT vs. ACT

act-or-sat

by Isaiah Donovan

As students progress through high school, college plans loom on the horizon. For many, assembling a satisfactory curriculum is a source of unending stress. Of course, college is not in the cards for every high schooler, however the majority of students move on to some sort of further education. In their quest to condense their entire educational career into a single document, standardized tests become a way for students to express their knowledge, especially in cases where they are lacking in other areas. Standardized tests also may offer opportunity to receive merit scholarships and awards, which are crucial for many students.

Which Test Should You Take?

It is then that the true question emerges: What test to take? Most colleges and universities expect or require students to complete the ACT or the SAT. Every student has unique skills and areas of interest, and in truth, there is no test that will suit them perfectly. However, there are certainly aspects of each exam that many would find appealing over the other.

The History of the Test

Before an analysis, the history of these tests should be considered. The College Board was formed in 1900, and the organization set out to standardize the admissions process. Roughly 23 years later, Carl C. Bingham administered an altered version of the Army IQ test to Princeton freshmen, and was put in charge of a College Board committee to adapt the test once again. This exam would later become the aptitude test called the SAT (History of the SAT: A Timeline). In 1959, Everett Franklin Lindquist, a professor at the University of Iowa developed an alternative to the SAT, one that would assess a student’s current knowledge rather than their ability to learn. This ACT became more prominent over time, surpassing the SAT in the number of test takers in 2012. As of 2015, 1,924,436 students take the ACT that year, compared to 1,548,198 taking the SAT (Zhang). The SAT began to adapt its process to be more similar to the ACT, and focuses more on assessing current knowledge rather than future success.

A Common Misconception

Many students, particularly those around the east coast, suffer the misconception that the SAT is more widely accepted, or that the ACT is made for the middle of the country. In fact, the ACT is not only more prominent than the SAT, but is accepted by all universities across the country (Zhang). Whether or not eastern schools are biased toward the SAT is unknown, but there is very little evidence to support the claim.

The Key Difference

The SAT and ACT differ in many ways besides the number of test takers or areas of application. The different exam sections focus on varying topics. For instance, the ACT allows all questions to be answered with a calculator, while the SAT only allows a calculator on some portions of the test. This could be important for students with less confidence in their ability to solve more basic math problems. The ACT also has a dedicated science section centering on data analysis and scientific investigation. These aspects are important for many of the more analytically minded juniors and seniors. If they are skilled in these areas, they certainly have an edge entering the test, and those who are inclined to join engineering or math based programs in college tend want to show their affinity for the subject by displaying a high score on the ACT.

The Super Score

Another key difference between the SAT and the ACT is the ability to superscore. Superscoring is the ability to choose certain scores from each section on a college entrance exam and form a composite score of all your highest score subcategories. (Note that is is distinct from Score Choice, the chance to choose the highest score on one test from all test dates to send to colleges.) Roughly 200 schools superscore the ACT (Safier, Colleges That Superscore ACT: Complete List), while roughly 900 superscore the SAT (Safier, Which Colleges Superscore the SAT?) .

The Subject Test

Sometimes the SAT cannot be taken alone. An SAT subject test is a specialty exam that focuses on a specific skill that the regular SAT does not put emphasis on, ranging from Literature to US History to Latin. Some of the most elite universities recommend taking at least two SAT subject tests as well as the SAT, and a few even require it in the application process. However, many of these same universities will accept an ACT score in place of an SAT subject test, making it a suitable choice for those who want to be competitive in the admissions process without the added strain of studying for more exams.

Test Length

The SAT and ACT also vary in time length. The ACT has a time limit of 175 minutes (215 with optional essay), while the SAT has a limit of 180 minutes (230 with essay) (Lindsay). The SAT’s time limit is only slightly longer, but is fit for two sections rather than the three of the ACT. However, the SAT has five reading sections compared to the ACT’s four.

The Price of Knowledge

An important aspect to consider, especially for students who wish to take their test of choice multiple times, is cost. The ACT costs $103 to take ($120 with the essay), while the SAT is priced at a lesser $80 ($92 with essay) (Cheng). This is an important aspect for families under financial duress, particularly if they plan to superscore with multiple tests. There are opportunities for fee waivers, but many students do not wish to undergo the hassle or embarrassment of applying. Moreso, the SAT subject test carries a $26 registration fee, which would otherwise be eliminated if the ACT is chosen.  

What It Comes Down To

There are many reasons why standardized testing can be a poor reflection of one’s intellect or acquired knowledge, from test anxiety to poor preparation. No matter a student’s opinion on testing, chances are they will have to take some form of exam if they wish to continue to another level of education. There are certainly valid reasons to take one test over the other, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference. The more comfortable a student is with the test they are taking, the better scores they will receive.

Works Cited

Cheng, Allen. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” SAT Cost, ACT Cost, and How to  Save Money, blog.prepscholar.com/sat-cost-act-cost-and-how-to-save-money.

“Here Are the High School Classes That Prepare You for the SAT and ACT.” Prep | The Princeton Review, http://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/high-school-classes-prep-sat-act

“History of the SAT: A Timeline.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/sats/where/timeline.html.

Lindsay, Samantha. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” The History of the ACT Test, blog.prepscholar.com/the-history-of-the-act-test.

Safier, Rebecca. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Colleges That Superscore ACT: Complete List, blog.prepscholar.com/colleges-that-superscore-act-complete-list.

Safier, Rebecca. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Complete List: Colleges That Require SAT Subject Tests, blog.prepscholar.com/complete-list-of-colleges-that-require-sat-subject-tests.

Safier, Rebecca. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Which Colleges Superscore the SAT?, blog.prepscholar.com/which-colleges-superscore-the-sat.

Strauss, Valerie. “What Does the SAT Measure? Aptitude? Achievement? Anything?”The Washington Post, WP Company, 22 Apr. 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/22/what-does-the-sat-measure-aptitude-achievement-anything/?utm_term=.af2f50a1611a.

Zhang, Dr. Fred. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Do Colleges Accept ACT Takers as Much as SAT Takers? Is the ACT Disadvantaged?, blog.prepscholar.com/do-colleges-accept-act-takers-vs-sat-act-disadvantaged.

Stewart Competes on National Frisbee Team

 

By Chloe Jackson

Arlington High senior Clara Stewart has recently been offered a position on the USA National Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team. She has played ultimate frisbee since seventh grade, where she joined a pick-up game at Thorndike Field in Arlington. As she grew to love the sport, Stewart joined the Ocelots in eighth grade at Ottoson Middle School, and carried on the legacy of the team into her years at high school. Stewart assisted in founding a co-ed ultimate frisbee team at Arlington High, and captained it for her tenth and eleventh grade seasons. She now has coordinated and founded a successful all women’s ultimate frisbee team for this coming spring sports season.

Stewart has played ultimate frisbee in a range of settings, whether it is pick up games, youth leagues, high school clubs, women’s regional club teams, or even the prestiged USA National Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team. To tryout for the National team, Stewart underwent a rigorous application process, which entails a preliminary application and tryout of fifty young women in North Carolina. A tryout on the East Coast and the West Coast was held, each of fifty young women, to determine the National team roster of twenty four players. Stewart, in addition to her friend Tessa Johnson of Lexington, Massachusetts, earned a position on the roster of this highly selective team.

Until the World Championship game and other tournaments, Stewart and her teammates are expected to maintain their shape and skills, and they will attend several multi-day or week long training sessions to prepare for games. Stewart will attend the the WJUC (World Juniors Ultimate Championships) in late August in Toronto, Canada with her team of twenty four young women. After over five years of pursuing ultimate frisbee and gaining the impressive title of National Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team Member, Stewart will continue her ultimate frisbee career as she begins college in the fall.

Stewart plays ultimate frisbee because of the “tight knit community, especially in Boston” where everyone is “supportive and helping each other.” These past few years have been only the beginning to Stewart’s successful career in the “fast-paced, difficult” (Stewart) sport of ultimate frisbee.

Students and Teachers Respond to AHS Walkout

IMG_8603
photo by Isabella Scopetski
IMG_8600
photo by Isabella Scopetski

On March 14th, students around the nation walked out of their schools for 17 minutes to honor the victims of school shootings, specifically the recent shooting where 17 young lives were tragically lost at Parkland High School in Florida, and to call for gun control reform. Due to the snowstorm, however, many New England schools closed on the 14th, so those schools walked out at 10am the following day. 

Arlington High School students and faculty members each made an individual decision about whether or not to walk out. Some chose to remain inside while others organized the events, and still others participated in the walkout by leaving their classes and listening to their peers give speeches in front of the high school.

As the number of school shootings around the nation increases each day, students and teachers alike think about the best solution to a problem currently plaguing America. There are varying arguments regarding gun control and the justification of the second amendment. This article represents a sampling of student and teacher opinions regarding the effectiveness of the walkouts, as well as gun laws in America. This article is meant to expose the many layers of arguments which discuss the best ways to keep people safe.

Isa Dray

Ponder Page: What was your role in organizing the walkout?

Isa Dray: “I organized the AHS #NeverAgain walkout in collaboration with Laura Kirchner, Sophie Plotkin, and Gayatri Sundar Rajan.”

PP: What change do you hope to see in gun control laws?

ID: “Nationwide I think it is really important that we have stricter background checks, raise the legal age for gun purchase to 21 and repeal the Dickey Amendment, which prevents federal funds awarded to the Center for Disease Control from being used to advocate or promote gun control via studies of any sorts. This is a huge deal because it means that no comprehensive studies can be performed to assess the United States’ gun violence and gun culture. In Massachusetts, we need to continue to lead the way in gun reform by passing the Extreme Risk Protective Order, which would allow a judge to order a temporary removal of guns from someone ruled to be a danger to themselves or others. With many shootings that take place, family members or friends had prior knowledge or had seen signs of intent. Passing this bill is essential to making us safer and ensuring that guns only stay in the hands of those fit to carry them.”

PP: How do you feel about how the walkout went, reflecting from a week later?

ID: “I was really happy with how the walkout went! Seeing it all come together after two and a half weeks of hard work was very fulfilling. The event also went really smoothly thanks to the large support system we had and our comprehensive planning. I loved hearing the speakers; they all had really powerful messages and it was great to hear a variety of students speak. Having elected officials Sean Garballey, Dave Rogers, and Joe Curro, their listening to us and supporting us along with our community meant so much to me. It was really awesome to see AHS students come together for the second week in a row to show that this matters to us and to confront the reality that this could happen to us too, which is why we need to take action!”

PP: Further thoughts? Main takeaway?

ID: “I think it’s super important that people stay engaged. The national walkout to call for gun reform is not a one and done thing. We need to continue the momentum, keep this conversation in the headlines and continuously work towards comprehensive gun laws. Change doesn’t happen overnight and I encourage everyone to not let the walkout be the only thing you do. The biggest danger to this movement is the potential for it to die out if people do not stay engaged. Attend the March for Our Lives Saturday March 24th in Boston, attend the Young Dems workshops that are focused around contacting reps and making change, continue meaningful conversation with those around you, and pay attention for more walkouts scheduled for the coming weeks. Students are pushing for the Extreme Risk Protective order to be passed in Massachusetts by mid-April and we need to really work towards this by contacting our reps and demonstrating our frustration and commitment.”

Harjot Singh

“I just feel like the walkout isn’t really going to accomplish anything. The walkout is a complete waste of time, and I agree that some things need to change, but having a bunch of kids walk out of the school is not going to bring this change. Most of the kids that I talked to said that they were just walking out just to miss class and a lot of others don’t know what they are protesting against. For why I didn’t walkout, that’s because I don’t believe in what this movement is about. I was inside and I had my 17 minutes of silence to pay respects to the 17 people that had died, but I don’t think that the banning of semi-automatic rifles and other firearms is going to help. I know that this is not what the main goal is behind the walkout, but that’s what it is becoming. People that I have talked to, that support the walkout, have said that this is what they are trying to accomplish. I believe that if all guns in general disappeared we would be in a good place, but that is unrealistic. With the ban of assault rifles, the only thing that would happen is that law abiding citizens would turn in their guns, and criminals would not, and then there would be a large group of armed criminals that have an advantage over unarmed law abiding citizens that use their guns for good. But onto the third question: I definitely did feel supported by the teachers in the school. In both classes, the teachers engaged in conversations with me and there was no judging except by a few other students but that doesn’t matter.”

Laura Kirchner

PP: Why did you decide to become involved with the walkout?

LK: “The National Walkout started being planned, and we noticed a lot of posts for other schools that were participating, but we noticed that there were no posts for Arlington High School, so we figured it would be better to have an organized event where we were all walking out with a purpose and we had a plan for what we would do with those 17 minutes rather than people aimlessly walking out, because it’s more powerful if we actually know what we’re doing and what we’re walking out for.”

PP: Were there any challenges you faced as an organizer?

LK: “We did have some trouble communicating with the administration, especially with the snow day, because instead of walking out with schools across the country we walked out with schools across New England. We all knew that we wanted to make it as soon as possible after the snow day, and we essentially said to the administration, ‘we will be walking out at 10 o’clock’ and we just had to organize with them; they of course wanted students to be safe during the walkout so we just had to figure stuff out with the police to make sure there was some separation between the community and the students, but then again we didn’t want the community to be excluded because it’s affecting the community as well every time there’s an event like this.”

Mr. Fant (history dept)

Last Wednesday, March 7th during A block I addressed my AP Governments students concerning the walkout. I told them that I was not personally offended if they chose to participate in the walkout and that I support them exercising their right to free speech;however, if they chose to walk out of the graded moot court assessment scheduled for that period, it would affect their participation grade for that assignment. I also told the class that I was doing so because I didn’t want to cheapen an act of civil disobedience by making it completely free from consequence.

Here is my reasoning.

When Henry David Thoreau wrote about his decision to not pay his taxes as a way to protest the war with Mexico in the 1840s he knew he would be arrested for breaking the law. In fact, when he was bailed out of jail by a relative within 24 hours, he was angry that he could not stay in jail longer because he believed that suffering a consequence for his act of civil disobedience gave it more strength and meaning. This is why Dr. Martin Luther King and Gandhi engaged in direct action and civil disobedience and suffered the consequences of fines and jail time for their causes.

Additionally, students have a constitutional right to disruptive protest in schools as seen in the Supreme Court Case Tinker v. Des Moines. When Mary Beth Tinker and her friends wore black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam, they intended to disrupt the regular educational activities of the school day. That’s the point of protest, not just to signal virtues, but to cause conversation hopefully change through disruption.

Rescheduling assessments (such as the moot court) or excusing absences to accommodate the walkout creates two problems. The first is that doing so would undermine the protest itself by separating civil disobedience from consequence, however small it is in this case. The protest would be less disruptive of the regular school day and therefore less effective.

I support the aims of this walkout and this student-led movement to make our schools safer by demanding more gun control. I am inspired by Arlington High School students and their willingness to demand action and take part in protest movements like this one. Furthermore, I am looking forward to participating in the scheduled rally on Inclusion Day and I imagine I will see a lot of AHS students at the March For Our Lives rally on March 24th when I exercise my own First Amendment right concerning the issue of gun violence.

My support for this walkout brings me to the second problem inherent in accommodating it in my class. Doing so in this case, because I support the movement, would set a precedent that all future walkouts will be sanctioned as well, regardless of what those walkouts are protesting. Public school teachers should be hesitant to punish or sanction speech no matter how popular or unpopular. Therefore, I plan on applying the same policy to future walkouts and protests which cause students to miss all or part of a scheduled assessment.

Mr. Matson (history dept)

PP: Do you believe in penalizing students for participating in the walkouts? (such as a lower participation grade)

Scott Matson: “As far as the penalties are concerned, I didn’t do any penalties, but I think it’s up to the individual teacher.”

PP: How effective do you think the walk outs are going to be in the near future, or long term?

SM: “I do not think they are going to be very effective. In my opinion, a majority of the students around the country don’t even realize what they are doing… they are just following what the social media is telling them to do.”

PP: Why do you think students are targeting the ‘wrong people’?

SM: “They are targeting people who are NRA members, who I know a lot of, and they have nothing to do with [gun laws in America].” Additionally, Matson thinks,“there are other issues that should be more focused on, like the whole social media issue” rather than the issue of gun control.

Milo Kiely-Song

Milo chose to participate in both AHS walkouts.

PP: What do you think about having a penalty on the walkout?

Milo Kiely-Song:“Here’s my thinking: it’s a walkout, if you are going to participate, you shouldn’t expect the full support of the administration … it’s not a school sanctioned event.”

PP: Why did you decide to walk out?

MK-S: “I decided to walk out because I absolutely believe that stricter gun regulations are necessary to make our country and our schools safer.”

PP: In what way do you think the walkouts will move things forward?

MK-S: “I think the walkouts will serve a twofold purpose: first of all to simply demonstrate the discontent in our country at the moment, especially among our generation … the generation moving into the position of being able to vote. Secondly … it’s a launching point, it spreads the word, it gets people involved and interested in the process of making change.”

PP: In what way do you find your own views to be different from other students at AHS?

MK-S: “I am a Libertarian. And Libertarianism is the belief in one’s own freedoms … property rights, land rights, etc. And in terms of gun laws for me, that means I do not believe in banning the distribution of guns in this market. I don’t think the government should have that much control over business and what they chose to sell. However, since guns are very dangerous, especially semi-automatic weapons, I believe that it us necessary for us to impose stricter regulations on the purchase of such guns. A lot of people talk about putting a ban on semi-automatic weapons being sold, and, personally, I do not think that is necessarily the best idea for us. Everyone wants to preserve their liberties, [and] nobody’s against that. And in this time of social and political turmoil, I think it is important to retain those liberties. And if we do implement stricter background checks and more comprehensive systems towards buying a gun, I don’t think we need to actually ban semi-automatic weapons to get the same result.”

PP: Why were you uncertain that your opinion would be valued or “fit” in my article?

MK-S: “I think I can have a lot of great conversations [here at AHS] with people who respect my opinions, but this is Massachusetts… which tends to mean that there are less people with more conservative outlooks and similar opinions to mine.”

Arlington High School Students Walk Out for Comprehensive Gun Laws

By Anoushka Oke and Katherine Richardson

 

Since seventeen people were killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, there has been nationwide uproar about the United States’ gun laws. Students from all over the country have come together in protest against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and in support of common-sense gun laws by walking out of school.

The movement was created by survivors of the Parkland shooting, and word of it spread all over the nation through the news and social media. The protest was set to nationally take place at 10:00 a.m. on March 14, 2018, and to last seventeen minutes.

Bringing the Walkout to AHS

Upon hearing about the walkout, AHS students took it upon themselves to ensure that it would happen at the high school. Students reached out to AHS principal, Matthew Janger, who, in response, called a meeting with interested students on February 27.

The meeting on February 27 was headed by the AHS Student Council, with the purpose of obtaining Dr. Janger’s permission to participate in the walkout with a guarantee of no punishment, and to begin planning the logistics for the protest. Various ideas were discussed, including suggestions for a lobby display, an outdoor memorial, a banner, and posters to hang up around the school. Because the walkout was to take place on Inclusion Day, Dr. Janger scheduled an X-block so that students would not have to choose between their Inclusion Day workshops and the walkout.

A few days later, on March 2, the Student Council held a second meeting to discuss the logistics of the protest. Ideas from the previous meeting were revisited, and students volunteered for projects that had been suggested at the previous meeting.

The March 7th Walkout

Prior to the national walkout, some AHS students also participated in a separate walkout on Wednesday, March 7. This walkout was organized by the Young Democrats and took place at schools in neighboring towns as well.

Participating students filed out of their first period classes at exactly 8:17 a.m., gathering on the front lawn. Sophomore Griffin Gould, leader of the Young Democrats, first led a moment of silence. This was followed by a speech from senior Ian Miller, in which he read the lyrics of the song “You’re Missing” by Bruce Springsteen. The lyrics of the song outline how it feels to lose someone important, as the friends and family of gun violence victims have. “Children are asking if it’s alright,” Miller read, “will you be in our arms tonight?”

Gould then informed students of the Young Democrats’ plan to take a trip to a protest in front of the state house directly after the March 14 walkout, and invited all of the assembled students to join them.

Preparations for the Walkout

As the date of the national walkout approached, students began working to prepare for the protest.

Some of the students who wanted to create signs for the walkout met in an art classroom on Monday, March 12.  The art department provided students with materials to create compelling signs.

Simultaneously, a small committee of students created a large, orange banner that read “#neveragain” in black text. This banner was hung outside of AHS on the morning of the walkout.

On the other side of the room, another small group of students worked on painting pieces of a memorial, taking breaks in between coats to make signs. The memorial was painted in the art room by freshmen Genevieve Baldwin, Anoushka Oke, and Sierra Curro.

The memorial consists of three gates, one five-feet tall, one six-feet tall, and one seven-feet tall. From the top of each gate, there are nine blue strings and eight white strings alternating, adding up to seventeen strings on each gate– the number of people who were killed in the Parkland shooting. On each white string, there are twenty-eight bingo chips of varying colors to represent the twenty-eight people who died in the Sandy Hook shooting five years ago. The varying colors of the bingo chips on the white strings represent the youth and childishness of the elementary-age children who were killed. On each black string, there are seventeen red bingo chips, which, like the amount of strings in each gate, represent the number of deaths in the Parkland shooting. The red bingo chips represent the blood that was shed in the shooting. This memorial is not yet up.

The State House Visit

On March 14, almost every American school had the walkout, excluding schools in the Greater Boston area who had school cancelled that day. Despite school closures and the two feet of snow on the ground, twenty-six AHS students joined students from all over Massachusetts at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul to rally for advocacy training and a state house visit in the interest of stronger gun control laws.

The students were lobbying for the passing of bill H.3610 and the repeal of the Dickey Amendment. Bill H.3610 proposes temporarily preventing firearm access for extremely dangerous or suicidal individuals. The Dickey Amendment, passed in 1996, states that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

Students gathered at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. Soon after arrival, two state representatives and some students gave quick introductory speeches, and then the huge gathering marched to the state house. Students held signs and chanted phrases such as “Not in our streets! (Not in our schools!) No justice? (No peace!),” “Show me what democracy looks like! (This is what democracy looks like!),” and “State house? (Our house!).”

When the students got inside and were seated, some student representatives spoke briefly. Then each representative introduced themselves, stated the districts of Massachusetts they represented, and expressed whether or not they would support the bill H.3610 and vote to repeal the Dickey Amendment.

After the speeches, students lobbied their representatives by going around room to room, asking for their support and votes. Finally, students made their way back to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul for free pizza and closing speeches.

The Delayed National Walkout

Even though the national walkout was scheduled to take place on March 14, Tuesday’s nor’easter and Wednesday’s snow day meant that most students in or around Greater Boston were forced to move their school’s walkouts. AHS’ walkout was moved to Thursday, March 15, the day following the national walkout date. Because the walkout would no longer be taking place on Inclusion Day, students would now be walking out of class rather than a free period.

Speakers and key organizers of the event left class ten minutes early in order to set up and prepare for the wave of students that would shortly emerge from the school. At 10:00, participating students began heading to the front of the school, while students not participating went to their next class.

Outside of the school, students began to fill the front sidewalk and some of the parking area. Once most of the participating students had filed out, freshman Nate Pokress used a megaphone to lead the crowd in chanting “What do we want? (Gun control!) When do we want it? (Now!)” for about a minute.

After the chanting had died out, Student Council President, senior Laura Kirchner, stepped up to the podium to give a few opening remarks. In her speech, she emphasised the importance of students taking action. Kirchner stated, “some may dismiss us, some may ignore us, some may say we’re just children, but as we stand here today… we are making our voices heard, even though many of us cannot vote.”

Following Kirchner’s remarks, Junior Class Vice President Lucy Voges took Kirchner’s place at the podium. Voges announced the Student Government’s support of the walkout, and also described what they were advocating for: “stricter background checks, a higher legal age for gun purchase, and the repeal of the Dickey Amendment.”

Once Voges had stepped away from the podium, Student Council Secretary Isa Dray held a moment of silence for everyone who has died as a result of gun violence.

A minute later, Student Council Treasurer, senior Sophie Plotkin stepped up to conclude the moment of silence. She then read an open letter to U.S. Senators, prompting them to take action about gun violence, rather than simply sending their “thoughts and prayers” after every shooting as they accept money from the NRA. “…I am one of the 74.6 million students who have been let down by the system that is supposed to protect us,” she read, “…we will no longer stay silent while you sell our souls for seats in the Senate!”

Once Plotkin finished reading the letter, sophomore Sky Milstein stepped up to give a speech, explaining their experience living in a country where mass shootings are the norm; AHS English teacher Rebecca Walsh-Bradley told the assembled students about her experience with gun violence during her first year of teaching, when a student came into the school with a gun; and Freshman Livia Freeman then spoke of the fear caused by gun violence. Freshman Elizabeth Gromfin, Oke, sophomore Darcy Coleman, and Freeman each read a statistic relating to gun violence, outlining the scale and severity of the gun violence problem. Then, Baldwin came up to the podium to give the final speech of the morning, focusing on the power of students taking action. “Maybe most of us don’t have the adult power to vote quite yet,” Baldwin said, “but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any power at all.”

Student Council Vice President Gayatri Sundar-Rajan then gave closing remarks, reminding students that “[this walkout] is only the start of the fight for gun control.” She emphasised that student action would keep the fight going. “Let [today] be the end of students sitting on the sidelines,” she said.

As the seventeen minutes came to a close, students began to file back into the school.

What Comes Next?

Like many of the student speakers said, the walkout was only the start of student action and protest for gun control.

A group of students have begun working on a lobby display, and plan to put it up soon. Likewise, Baldwin, Oke, and Curro are looking to install their memorial outside the school as soon as enough of the snow melts.

On Saturday, March 24, the March for Our Lives will be taking place throughout the entire United States. In Massachusetts, it will be in front of the state house. This protest will be another opportunity for students to publicly demand an end to gun violence.