In This Case, Snooze and Don’t Lose: Students Need a Later Start Time

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By Eliza McKissick

In recent years, there has been great debate over the start time of schools. Many are advocating for a later start time in all schools— elementary, middle, and high school. The main argument is that currently, with schools starting at 8:00 am, adolescents are unable to get the proper amount of sleep.

Doctors at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital recommend that kids get between 9 and 9 1/2 hours of sleep. I questioned students at Arlington High School about their sleep habits and only 4.5% of surveyed students receive more than 8 hours of sleep on a typical school night. This statistic is concerning, but ultimately expected. The early start time of schools coupled with biological changes result in teens running on a later sleep-wake cycles.

An experiment conducted by Dr. Mary A. Carskadon of Brown University found that as children go through puberty, their brains begin producing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin on a delayed schedule, making it difficult for them to feel tired before 11 p.m. In order for teenagers to get the proper amount of sleep, they should be just waking up around 8 a.m. if they went to bed around 11 p.m.; this, however, is impossible when school starts at 8 a.m. (Carskadon et al., 1998). If school were to start even an hour later, teens would be able to get sufficient sleep without the risk of being late to school.

Many adolescents use the weekends to catch up on lost sleep: 73.2% of surveyed AHS students report getting over 8 hours of sleep on the weekends. This compared to the 4.5% that get regularly get that much sleep may seem good, but in fact, this great disparity can be detrimental to teens. When the sleep schedule is so irregular, the quality of sleep is compromised, and ultimately students end up feeling more drowsy than they would if they got the same amount of sleep every night. If school were to start later, teens would be more likely to receive the same amount of sleep on school nights as they would on the weekends, and overall would feel less tired throughout the day.

Not receiving sufficient amounts of sleep has the potential to become a serious problem. Chronic sleep loss among teenagers has been associated with poor school performance and a higher risk for depressive symptoms, obesity, cardiovascular problems, risk-taking behaviors and athletic injuries. Sleep deprivation impairs their ability to be alert, pay attention, solve problems, cope with stress and retain information. Essentially, students would be more productive, more ready to learn, if they were able to get enough sleep.

One argument against pushing back the start time of schools is that by doing so, teens would start their homework later, fall asleep later and then have to wake up even later; therefore a delayed start would do nothing for their sleep schedule. However, many surveyed AHS students admitted that homework isn’t usually what keeps them up at night. Possibly it’s teens’ later sleep-wake cycle that makes it feel unnatural to fall asleep before 11 p.m. It is my position that if school were to start an hour later (9:00 a.m.) and end an hour later (3:30 p.m.), teenagers would complete their homework in plenty of time to go to bed at 11:00 p.m. and receive a full 9- 91/2 hours of sleep.

I believe the issue of adolescents receiving the proper amount of sleep is reason enough to justify a later start time for schools. Yes, obstacles would be likely to arise if Arlington were to shift to a 9:00-3:30 school day; sports practices and other school sponsored events would have to be reorganized, getting students to and from school may be more difficult, and students may slip into the habit of going to bed at midnight, rather than 11:00. However, to me, the biological tendencies of teens sleep schedules coupled with the overwhelming majority of AHS students receiving insufficient amounts of sleep suggest that some action, some reform, needs to be taken. Delaying the start time of Arlington Public Schools may just be that needed step.  

 

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Boys Soccer Defeated in State Finals

 

 

By Ellie Crowley

After completing a strong season by winning the North finals, the Arlington High School boys varsity soccer team was defeated by Nauset in the Division II State Finals. During the game played on November 18th at Marshfield High School, the team lost 3-0 against the champions of the South.

The boys started the game off strong but were quickly met with a challenge when Nauset scored at 16:40 in the first half. In the opening of the second half, senior defender Nick Karalis left the field with a leg injury, and moments later Nauset scored, making it 2-0 at the opening of the second half. Junior Declan Dolan also came off the field injured, forcing coach Lance Yodzio to switch up his normal line. Senior captain Francesco Valagussa said, “Already starting the game without Will [Clifford, who was out with a broken collarbone] was very difficult, but then having Declan and Nick fall to injuries was where the game spiraled out of control.” With 21:40 left in the second half, Nauset scored again and the game ended 3-0 with a Nauset victory. Senior goalie Henry Fox-Jurkowitz reflected on the defeat, saying, “In the end, Nauset got some lucky goals but they were a really good team and were probably the toughest one we faced all season. The outcome of the final game was disappointing but we were definitely happy as a team to have gotten there.”

The team had a successful run, originally entering the Division II North tournament with a 12-3-3 record and seeded fourth, finishing as champions of the North. Reflecting on his experience leading the team, Valagussa said, “Being able to be part of this historic team, let alone lead it, was a wonderful experience. I am not too hurt about the final loss because in the end we were able to make history and it was a better year than I could have ever asked for.”

Fox-Jurkowitz feels similarly, saying, “We didn’t give up on our season and it clearly paid off in the end. I’m proud […] because this team really deserved it.”

Macbeth Comes to AHS

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By Michael Graham-Green

The most recent installment of the Arlington High School Drama Club’s productions is Shakespeare’s cursed Scottish play. Macbeth, for those who have not taken sophomore English yet, is the tragedy of a bloody prophecy corrupting an ambitious nobleman.

When asked why he chose to put on Macbeth this year, the director, Michael Byrne says that this is the first time he’s directed a Shakespeare tragedy at AHS, and he wants students to have the experience. “The brilliance and beauty of Shakespeare is that over the last 400 years the plays have become relevant to whatever is the predominant culture of the time,” he adds. “It’s interesting to explore what is our cultural lens today and what the play is saying to us today. And I think it’s open. [It’s] the universality of Shakespeare’s writing that allows people to see things and hear things.”

The Arlington High School Drama Club’s production of Macbeth is Friday November 16, at 7:30 pm, and Saturday November 17, at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm. Tickets are $8 for students and $12 for adults. Go for the beauty of Shakespeare’s writing, stay for the epic swordplay.

Rehearsals got underway in late September, and opening night is mid-November, so the director, cast, and stage management team do not have the luxury of a lengthy preparation time. This is nothing new, though; the fall show’s cast annually works under a time crunch to get an entire show memorized and staged with a little less than two months. It involves several-hours-long rehearsals four or five days a week up until the production. With so much to do and so little time, how does the cast maintain a positive atmosphere? “Everyone’s here because they want to block out three hours of their afternoon every single day to be here, and there’s good vibes all around,” says Margaret Horgan, a stage manager for the production. “We all have rituals and routines that just make us happy. Everyone’s excited just to be making something together. With [Shakespeare’s] language, everything is so intense, it’s very fun to watch.”

“Plays all expand to the amount of time you have to do them,” Mr. Byrne, explains. “With a solid plan in place you start rehearsing with your end goal in mind, and you just get there. And you take as long as you’re given.”

 

AHS Students Walk Out for Stronger Consent Education

By Anoushka Oke

Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court has sparked a fury among many within the nation. High school students throughout the United States have decided to use Kavanaugh’s confirmation as an opportunity to advocate for better consent education in schools by establishing a walkout.

Arlington High School, because of organization from the Young Feminists and the Young Progressives, is one of the many high schools throughout the nation that participated in this walkout. The two clubs sent out their message through an email from the Student Council, informing students that the the walkout would take place Friday October 12th at 10:00 a.m.. The walkout was advertised to be a “ response to the Kavanaugh confirmation,”  an action for “solidarity with survivors of sexual assault,” and a chance to call for stronger consent education.

The walkout was set to last 8 minutes, from 10:00 to 10:08 because, on average, every eight minutes a teen or a child is sexually assaulted in the United States.

Even though the email was sent the day before the walkout, word spread quickly. The day and time of the walkout, a flood of students exited the building to stand for what they believe in.

The crowd of students gathered around a large purple sculpture of letters that read “VOTE.” The sculpture faces Massachusetts Avenue, in sight of anyone who drives by the high school. By the backside of the sculpture stood juniors Izzy O’Hagan, Ina Aramandla, and Audrey Skehan, members of the Young Feminists.

Before speaking, O’Hagan, Aramandla, and Skehan announced that they were going to hold a 98-second moment of silence–representing how often someone is sexually assaulted in the United States.

The front lawn was completely silent for the short period of time.

Once time was up, O’Hagan broke the silence by introducing herself. She began her speech with some statistics, which explained to the students the importance of the walkout and moment of silence. She then described how the dangers of sexual assault impact her and many others’ daily lives; she stated several “rules” that many go by in order to avoid sexual assault, such as “always go out in a group” and “don’t use public transportation after 7 p.m.”

O’Hagan also mentioned how hyper-aware of her surroundings she is when going through her daily life, to avoid even the slightest chance of sexual assault. She and many others analyze every situation, every time they make contact with another person, due to the fear of being sexually assaulted. “We shouldn’t have to have to worry about these things,” she said. “Our daily lives are already busy enough and stressful enough, without this weight that we carry.”

At the end of her speech, O’Hagan told assembled students that putting people like Kavanaugh into positions of power further increases the fear of sexual assault that already resides in many people’s minds.

O’Hagan then passed the microphone to Aramandla, who introduced herself and picked up where O’Hagan had ended her speech by connecting Kavanaugh’s confirmation to rape culture and the fear and suffering associated with sexual assault.

Aramandla reminded assembled students that history is at a point where students choose to make their voices heard, and urged them to continue to do so regarding sexual assault. She said, “[we students] will use our voices to bring our country to the level we’re asking that it be brought to. We may not be able to vote, but we still have a whole lot of power.” By being vocal, students can let those in power know that they denounce this expanding culture of sexual misconduct.

She also emphasized the importance of better consent education, explaining to students that educating future generations to respect people’s boundaries and bodies is a major step towards eliminating rape culture.

Aramandla ended her speech with some encouraging words telling students that they are able to create change; she then handed the microphone to Skehan.

After introducing herself, Skehan began her speech by stressing the point that, especially after events like Kavanaugh’s conformation, it is easy to give up, to stop speaking out and fighting the toxic culture surrounding sexual assault because it feels like activists’ voices are not making a difference.

Skehan also pointed out that, despite the feeling that the efforts are useless, society as a whole must come together in order to fight issues related to sexual misconduct. She told the students, “Sexual assault is not just a woman’s issue. Consent doesn’t have a gender or sexuality. Whether you’re a woman or not, whether you can vote or not, you have a place in this conversation.”

She then listed some resources to which students can reach out about sexual assault, such as “a social worker, to guidance, [or] to RAIN, the national sexual assault telephone hotline.”Skehan closed her speech by urging eligible students to vote in order to “elect officials who reflect American values and the American population.”

The end of Skehan’s speech marked the end of the 8-minute walkout; students began flooding back into the building to resume their school day.

The Past, Present, and Future of Immigration

Jeff Thielman
Jeff Thielman, CEO of the International Institute of New England

By Raphael Barglow

In 1951, the United States agreed, along with 144 state parties, to accept the definition that a refugee “is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion” (UNHCR). The United States also agreed to provide protection to those who fall under this definition regardless of the immigration laws they break in seeking asylum. Despite this commitment, the number of refugees that the United States takes in continues to dwindle. Syrian refugees make up a large number of refugees worldwide, with almost 13 million Syrians displaced. However, since October of 2017, the United States has let only 44 Syrian refugees into the country.

Though this issue may seem far removed Massachusetts, the Town of Arlington actually has a long history of recognizing and taking action during refugee crises. In 1988, Arlington residents started a Sister City in El Salvador with a town called Teosinte, which was resettled during the Salvadoran Civil War as a statement of refugee rights in the 1980’s. Through this relationship, Arlington residents have participated in fundraisers and craft sales and even learned about Teosinte in their school curriculum. Thirty years later, this inter-community bond is still strong. Each year, residents of Teosinte continue to leave for the United States in order to send money back home. As they cross the United States border, undocumented, they fall into the middle of a heated national debate, about whether this simple act of entering the United States is one of criminality or survival.

This question and others about refugee rights and immigration have remained pertinent throughout the years, and each new generation has the power to change the debate and take it in new directions. For this reason, students must discuss and understand these issues, especially high schoolers preparing to vote for the first time this November.

Jeff Thielman, an Arlington school committee member since 2003 and the CEO of the International Institute of New England, a refugee resettlement organization, responded to some of these difficult questions. Thielman first talked about how ICE currently has the power “to throw 11 million people out of the country.” He argues that going forward with this mass deportation would not simply be immoral but also disastrous to the national economy. Thielman argues that the market crash of 1929, which helped precipitate the Great Depression, was caused in part by a lack of immigration due to the Nationalities Act, a highly restrictive immigration bill. Thielman says that though “the crash happened for a lot of different reasons, one major part of it was closed borders.” This isolationist policy, Thielman explains, meant the United States was “not trading and not interacting with the world the way it needed to.” Now, Thielman says, America is “repeating history, one hundred years later.”

A common belief, touted now and during the time of the Nationalities Act, is that immigrants take the jobs of Americans. This argument is “based on a false premise,” Thielman says. Thielman explains that “right now we have a shortage of workers” not a surplus, “and even when we have plenty of workers, [many people] don’t want to do those entry-level jobs.” Thielman argues that “the workforce is blessed with people who come from all over the world,” people who “work hard, build their families up and in their generation or the next, are very much part of the middle class and beyond.”

Today, immigration is undoubtedly a partisan issue, but it doesn’t have to be and it wasn’t always. Thielman points out that in 1986 Ronald Reagan, a conservative hero, signed a bill that “allowed 5 million undocumented immigrants to become citizens.” Though perhaps few and far between, there are examples of non-partisan immigration reform. In Utah, a generally conservative state, businesses, law enforcement, progressives and the Mormon Church came together in support of the Utah Compact, a document laying out a belief in the value of immigrants and the necessity of humane immigration reform. The reason that many people can cross the political aisle on immigration is that they relate to the immigrant’s story. Thielman believes it is “possible to bring together people of different political persuasions around the idea that [America needs] immigrants for economic reasons” but “also because it’s our culture, it’s our heritage, it’s the American dream and it’s what our history’s all about.” Thielman sums up his view on the future of immigration with a hopeful statement. “So is history repeating itself? Yes. Can we reverse history with the right leadership? Yes, we can.”

 

AHS Alum Protests New Building Model and Gains Major Support

Arlington High School

By Connor Rempe

Carl Wagner, age 49, graduated Arlington High School in the year 1987. Ronald Reagan held the Presidency, Full House debuted on TV, and baggy “MC Hammer” pants flew off of department store shelves. Things are different now, but one thing has remains the same: the iconic facade of Arlington High’s Collumb house. It is something that Wagner and his group, “Save Our Historic AHS”, want to see preserved long into the future.

AHS alum asks of building committee, can we be doing better?

SOHAHS was founded by Mr. Wagner and a handful of other town members and architects, many of whom had written to the Arlington Advocate in opposition to the Building Committee’s plan to tear down the existing school. The groups purpose, as Wagner made clear, is not to oppose the updating of the school but rather “as opposition to the current project,” as a means “to support the schools and to continue to support Arlington High in a way we think is better for Arlington.”  

In the early stages of the building project, Wagner was happy with the process of the committee. Based on public opinion the group outlined three priorities for the new school: budget, minimizing disruption of education, and maintaining historical spaces. Mr. Wagner attended committee meetings as the group whittled down the options from eight to three, seemingly keeping in mind these three pillars along the way. Two of the options maintained the historic facade while the third, instead, built the school on the current front lawn.

The group then sent the three options to the public to get their opinion. The survey found that most people favored the third option, knocking the building down and starting over. However, Wagner found that the amount of people that voted for options that preserved the school dwarfed those that voted for the third option. Considering that one of the three pillars of the committee was to maintain historical facades Wagner had faith that they too would see this trend.

However, on June 26th, the Building Committee voted to proceed with the third option and knock down the existing structure. Wagner and his group were shocked: “We felt as if the Building committee had sort of been stringing us along.” The group immediately started writing letters to the governor, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and the Massachusetts School Building Authority, trying to let them know what was happening. They created a website to try and spread the word and started a petition that now has more than 300 signatures. Wagner and his group even protested near the building committee’s booth at Arlington’s Town Day, handing out flyers and speaking to citizens about the new project.

“Almost everybody we spoke to was shocked,” said Wagner. “We got about 30 more signatures to our petition in person and many more online.” The protestors were asked to leave by the building committee but protestors explained they were practicing their first amendment rights .

Why care about this?

Even Wagner himself admits that as a student he would’ve wanted to “burn the place to the ground.” However, the average household stands to pay about $800 to $1000 more in taxes each year for the next thirty years. While Wagner insists that his group members are not fiscal conservatives and do want to see the school remodeled, they do think we can be doing better. “The bar for destroying public spaces must be set high,” Wagner said.

The Collumb house building was designed in 1932 during an era of fervour and vitality . Drawing inspiration from this excitement, the architect modeled the building after the current state house and the iconic clock tower after the old state house.  

“They picked up the spirit of the American revolution and put it in there,” said Wagner. “You won’t be able to capture that in any modern building.” Wagner mentioned the newly remodeled Thompson school, done by the same architects hired to do the new high school: “It’s a fine school, but it will never be on par with this in terms of the feeling of history.”  

Wagner is concerned that the town stands to forget its past and what made Arlington great in the new building. He fears that a modern structure “will lose a lot of what America stood for and still stands for, it will say let’s forget about Arlington as a town and look forward to Arlington as a city”

SOHAHS is not only concerned with the facade of the building but also the front lawn area which it said is “the largest green space on Mass. Ave. from Lexington to Cambridge.” Not only will green space be lost but also the front drop off area, which is used for things like car washes, will be gone as well.

Instead, the building committee plans to build a two-lane road that will loop all the way around to what is now the back of the school and use that as a new drop-off location. Wagner says the road will cost millions and cause traffic on Mass. Ave., Mill Street, and Grove Street. The town also plans to turn the upper grass fields into a parking lot for the DPW that will be accessible to students.

All of this, said agner, will cost a massive amount of money and result in what he estimates to be a loss of three quarters of the front lawn.

While Carl Wagner and SOHAHS are in favor of rebuilding Arlington High School, they are worried that the town will not make the new building into something that the people want; something that honors Arlington’s historic past while maintaining functionality for a bright future.

“We’re better than this,” says Wagner. “To lose the facades that are so beautiful , to lose the land, and to loose the drop off which will result in traffic mess, is really beneath us.”

World Language Studies: More Important Than We Think

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By Anoushka Oke

While students at Arlington High School are required to take at least two years of foreign language classes in order to graduate, this is often not enough preparation for the level of world language skills that colleges expect; many colleges prefer that students take four years of a language, to ensure advanced proficiency. But why does the university system place such an importance in studying and learning foreign languages?

The education system puts this emphasis on world languages because skill in a foreign language brings opportunity. By learning and becoming fluent in at least one other language, people give themselves many advantages.

Primarily, learning another language allows a person to become more eligible for jobs. Many job applications ask applicants whether or not they’re fluent in a second language because having a bilingual employee is beneficial to the company: an employee who can speak multiple languages can interact with foreign representatives and communicate with a wider range of customers. Those fluent in multiple languages also have an increased ability to travel to foreign countries to expand their business or make deals with potential foreign business partners.

According to a New American Economy report, “Over the past five years, demand for bilingual workers in the United States more than doubled. In 2010, there were roughly 240,000 job postings aimed at bilingual workers; by 2015, that figure had ballooned to approximately 630,000.” The demand for bilingual employees is rising and will continue rising.

Aside from the usefulness of foreign languages when applying for a job, learning another language helps people learn about new cultures, which can help one understand the lives and experiences of people living in other countries. It can also lead to more enjoyable and more meaningful travel to places where English is less common, because knowing the language of a place allows one to communicate with the locals when travelling

The head of the language department at Arlington High School, Dawn Carney–who speaks French and understands some Spanish–also believes that foreign languages are a crucial skill to implement in the coming and future generations of students. Carney argues that the ability to speak a foreign language unlocks many other skills that are needed throughout life. “From the brain perspective”, she says, “people that are bilingual have the capacity to toggle back and forth between languages, and that helps them with other critical thinking and problem solving tasks.”

Carney explains how these additional skills gained by studying foreign language impact one’s thinking, including helping them become more open-minded: “when people can engage in those types of critical thinking skills and problem solving skills, then they have this capacity to look from the perspective of somebody else, and ask questions like ‘I wonder why…’ [instead of saying things like] ‘that’s wrong’ or ‘why did they do it backwards?’” She mentions that acquiring such skills can also benefit students when applying for a job.

Additionally, Carney mentions how her ability to speak French has advantaged her by broadening her range of communication. She explains that she is able to communicate with people in many foreign countries. Even outside of France and other French-speaking countries, Carney can get by in other countries that use Romance languages.

Carney also feels that being fluent in French has allowed her to communicate with more people within Boston. She gives an example of how she can speak with much of Greater Boston’s large Haitian population because French and Creole, which is a dialect similar to French, are both national languages in Haiti.

So despite the many benefits of learning a foreign language, why do many students complain about having to do it? It may be because it’s difficult, or because it requires too much thought, or because it adds to students’ ever-increasing workload.

The substantial benefits of learning foreign languages is why American schools should consider implementing language studies from an early age. In many places throughout the world, particularly in parts of Europe and South America, foreign languages are required to be taught from a young age. Being exposed to the language from an early age allows lots of foreign students to be fluent in more than one language, meaning that they will therefore enjoy the benefits of being bilingual.

Because of this system’s success in other countries, the United States should definitely try to implement it into our education system. The peak age for language learning is early elementary school, and we should be using this peak age to our advantage and start introducing kids to foreign languages while they have ease at learning it. That way, high school language classes would just be about practicing the language and making sure that one is still able to speak it; such classes would be much easier and less stressful than classes that teach students languages from the beginning, especially past the peak age.

By implementing such a change, students would have second-language skills with less stress and difficulty. Gaining these second-language skills would allow students to enjoy the benefits of knowing multiple languages.

 

 

Bibliography

“Demand for Bilingual Workers More than Doubled in 5 Years, New Report Shows.” New American Economy, New American Economy, 1 Mar. 2017, http://www.newamericaneconomy.org/press-release/demand-for-bilingual-workers-more-than-doubled-in-5-years-new-report-shows/.

Limebike Rolls into Arlington

By Caleigh Lyons

What are all those green bikes parked on sidewalks around Arlington? They are LimeBikes, which people can easily use with an account on LimeBike’s Lime app. Many people are starting to ride them, even some Arlington High students are commuting to school using LimeBikes.

In June 2018 LimeBikes- a dockless biking system-rode into Arlington and 15 local communities. All you need to do is buy the Lime App on your smartphone, create an account, and then you are able to start riding!

On the Lime app you can use a map to locate nearby bikes. Your smartphone can lock and unlock the bike. LimeBikes cost $1 to unlock and $0.05/minute to ride. Students, faculty, and staff with a “.EDU” e-mail address receive a 50% discount. Your first ride is free; when you are done with a ride, park the bike in a responsible location and unlock it.

Students at Arlington High use various means of transportation. Some bike, bus, drive, and walk. Student Maggie Caradonna says, “I really like using the LimeBikes when they’re near me.” She enjoys riding them to school, but they are not normally near her home. She continues, “When I find one in the area though, I will usually use it to get to school the next day.”

Arlington High student Kian Silva says that LimeBikes “are good for when I need to go one way and don’t want to bring my bike for one trip, and,” he adds, “ if I have a ride back from where I’m going, I won’t have to be forced to ride the bike back or cram it in the car.”

LimeBike is evolving from being a San-Mateo based startup, to now serving in Seattle, WA, the only major US city to have a citywide dockless system. These green bikes are spreading across the country from West to East coasts. LimeBike’s director of expansion in the Northeast region, Scott Mullen, lives in Arlington. He is pleased to see these green bikes come into town.

In an ACMI interview Mullen says “Before we even launched we wanted to bake in that concept of accessibility, availability, and affordability. … We’re launching now, it’s called Lime Access program, you can pay cash- we are recruiting people who are already getting existing government benefits like SNAP, WIC, EBT and such- and … for five dollars we will get you one hundred dollars in trip credits. It’s one hundred thirty minute trips … nickel per trip. This beats any other form of transportation.”

Mullen also says to ACMI “Let’s give people a different way to get around. And that’s really what makes Lime unique. We don’t just come in and drop bikes, and we’re not here to make a buck with a bike. We’re here to help people think five years down the road and to make that change happen right now.”

 

Student Gets Inside Scoop on New Athletic Director

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Photo Courtesy of @wickedlocal

By Jessie Cali

Dr. Stanley Vieira recently became the athletic director at Arlington High School. I sat down with him to ask a few questions and welcome him into our community. Here is what he had to say:

Q: What made you interested in applying to work at Arlington High?

A: The biggest reason why this position interested me is because of my love with working with athletes at the high school level. My first job was working at a high school as a track coach, and I just felt like I made a real big impact at that point in my life, and I miss working with high school students. I saw the job opening and I thought, I would love to apply and see if this works out. And it did!

Q: Where did you last work prior to AHS?

A: I was working at Providence College. I was an athletic director for different colleges over the years, but I was working with off campus students at Providence College, and I really missed athletics. I missed working with student athletes, and coaches, and teams, and scheduling. I missed all of that stuff.

Q: What are some of your favorite aspects of the AHS community so far?

A: Number one is student athletes. I love how close everyone is and how they support each other. Number two: parents. They are super supportive, and they are really good communicators. Just the other day we were trying to get the scoreboard going for one of our JV football games and one of the parents just said, “I’ll do it!”. And I think that’s common. All of the parents are so willing to help out. And then beyond athletes and their parents is the external community. Local businesses, how supportive they are, and the relationship we have with ACMI is phenomenal. So it’s hard to pick just one thing but those are a few that really stick out.

Q: Did you play sports growing up? If so, which ones?

A: I played hockey, basketball, lots of things. But in high school and college I ran track. So that was kind of my number one, but I truly love all sports. I can’t say I love one more than the other. I think they’re all great. But for me personally I ran track and I just loved it. I started it to stay in shape, and then I kind of fell in love with it. I really did.

Q: Are there any specific changes you hope to make to the athletics department here?

A: One of the things that sticks out to me is the lack of branding that the program has. I want to put more banners out, I want to get the “A” out more. The other thing is that I’ve got to figure out what our logo really is. It seems like we’ve had a lot of different A’s over the years, it seems like that is an important part of our history, and the question is how do we brand that? Because it’s in certain places, but it’s not everywhere. Like when you go out to your field, other than the older scoreboard and midfield, there’s no A’s anywhere. It’s kind of disappointing to me. So branding is big, to make sure that we are getting our name out there so that people have a lot of spirit. And then the last piece is making sure that our students are really getting out there in the community as far as community service. I mean, you all have 40 hours to do, but I think we could do so much more with the community. And then giving students the opportunity to grow as leaders, doing development. For me it’s about developing from the moment you get here as a ninth grader to the moment you leave as a senior.

Q: What are some of the challenges you have faced in your role here so far?

A: I think the biggest challenge was probably coming here so late. When I got here it was already preseason, so I had to figure things out quick. So that was probably the biggest challenge, just being thrown in very quick and trying to get everything figured out. And I still have so much, as you can see my desk is a little messy, I’m trying to figure out paperwork and everything else, but I’m slowly pecking away at it. Step by step, everyday I learn a little bit more and I figure it out.

Q: Do you have any tips for students who are trying to balance sports and schoolwork?

A: I would say the biggest skill you can learn as a student athlete is time management. When I was in high school, my coach made me get a planner to plan out when I was practicing, studying, even eating. If you don’t manage your time well as a student, it gets away from you quick. It’s like putting off your homework and saying oh, I’ll do it tomorrow. And then all of the sudden it’s the day before the big test and you’re like oh no, I’ve got to study! At varsity or sub-varsity levels you’re travelling a lot. When other students are at the library or at home eating, our students are on a bus, travelling back and forth. So it’s just managing your time and making sure that you understand, I have certain things I have to do. If you don’t understand that, it gets away from you quick. That’s probably the best advice I can give.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: The only thing I would like to say is that I am super excited about this opportunity. I love being here, I love the student athletes, the administration, the parents, everyone has been so welcoming, so great. So I’m really excited. I would finish with that.

Student Activism at AHS

 

By Ellie Crowley

Since the presidential election of Donald Trump in 2016, the nation has been fraught with vast political division. This division has ignited a flame within the majority of citizens to exercise their right to freedom of speech in both support and protest of actions taken by the president. However, the controversial policies have also inspired a large majority of America’s youth to take a stand and make their adolescent voices heard. This past year, the AHS student body has embodied this rise of youth protest and created a new culture of student activism in the school’s community.

At the beginning of the school year, the community participated in the Unity Project. Drama teacher Michael Byrne first discovered the project on Facebook and proposed that the school implement its own version. The Unity Project was initially created by two women in an attempt to combat the division in their community as a result of the election. Byrne, along with math teacher Joanna Begin, applied for a grant from the Arlington Education Foundation and received funding for the project by the Dawn Moses Memorial Grant.

The project consisted of 32 PVC pipes circled around one central pipe located on the front lawn. Each of the outer poles had an identifier on it, and students were invited to wrap pink yarn from the center pole around each pole that they identified with, with the end result being a woven ceiling around the circle, representing the unity of the AHS community and a celebration of diversity.

If students felt an identifier relevant to their lives was missing, they were invited to add it to a board on the side of the installation. The board was quickly filled, and students began to write their identifiers on the pavement in chalk. Throughout the week, teachers chose to take  their classes out to the project. Students visited it during their free periods, after school, and during advisories.

The installation was also used as a setting to hold events that further unified the AHS community. During the week, the Do Something club held a bake sale to raise money for hurricane relief after the then recent devastation in Puerto Rico. At the end of the week, a rainstorm caused the structure to collapse, but that did not stop the community from appreciating its message. The next day, the Madrigal Singers used the project as a stage for an after-school performance, and on the weekend the Arlington community showed its support for the installation by holding yoga and CrossFit classes next to the fallen project.

The Unity Project set a precedent of acceptance and support for the diversity of the AHS community. This environment provided students with the support they needed to exercise their voice in protests later in the year.

Since the death of 17 students in the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, there has been a national uproar calling for gun control. That the majority of protests are student-led reveals the effect this tragedy has had on America’s youth.

The AHS student body was no different and participated in a protest on March 7th for gun control. The protest was organized by the Young Democrats and took place at schools in neighboring towns as well. Students who chose to participate left their first period classes at 8:17 am and gathered on the front lawn of the high school. Griffin Gould, president of the Young Democrats, led a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Parkland shooting.

Following the moment of silence was a speech by senior Ian Miller, who read the lyrics to “You’re Missing” by Bruce Springsteen. The song outlines how it feels to lose a loved one, as the friends and families of the 17 students in Parkland have. Gould then invited the protesters to join the Young Democrats and participate in a state-wide protest outside of the state house on March 14th.

Despite the snow day on the date of the state house visit, 26 AHS students still gathered outside to rally for advocacy training and stronger gun control laws. Specifically, students were lobbying for the passing of bill H.3610 and the repeal of the Dickey Amendment. Bill H.3610 proposes temporarily preventing access to firearms 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 outside of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul and began their march to the state house, participating in chants for gun control along the way. When students were settled in the state house, state representatives each spoke and expressed their stance on both bill H.3610 and the Dickey Amendment. Following the speeches, students were invited to meet with their representatives and ask for their support and votes in passing bill H.3610 and the repealment of the Dickey Amendment. The state house visit provided Massachusetts youth with a direct means of communication with their representatives and the opportunity to make their voices heard.

Following the shooting at their high school, the Parkland students created the movement dubbed #NeverAgain and organized a national walkout for gun control to take place at 10:00 am on March 14th. The AHS student body, having participated in their own walkout on March 7th, wanted to participate in the national walkout as well. The AHS Student Council met on February 27th with principal Dr. Janger to ensure that students who participated in the walkout would not receive disciplinary actions and to begin planning the logistics of the protest, as they anticipated a much larger group than that on March 7th.

So as not to interfere with the school’s Inclusion Day, Dr. Janger scheduled a free block at the time of the walkout so that students would not have to choose between their workshops and the walkout. As the date of the walkout approached, students began to prepare by making posters and signs in the art classroom after school, the largest of which was an orange sign that read “#NeverAgain” in large black lettering and was hung right outside of the front doors of the school on March 14th.

Unfortunately, due to the snow day the walkout was rescheduled for March 15th. Because the walkout was no longer scheduled for Inclusion Day, students now walked out of class instead of a free block. At 10:00 am on March 15th, AHS students filed out of class and gathered at the front of the school, as they had done the week before. The protest was composed of chants, speeches by various AHS students and faculty, and a moment of silence for the victims of the Parkland shooting. As the seventeen minutes came to a close, students returned to their classes and continued with their school day.

The AHS community held a diverse range of views about the walkout. Junior Harjot Singh stated, “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 school is not going to bring this change.”

History teacher Scott Matson agreed with Singh’s opinion, saying “I do not think [the walkouts] 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 social media is telling them to do.” History teacher Glen Fant made sure that his students recognized the significance of their actions by giving those who walked out lower participation grades for an in-class assignment that day. Fant explained that “I 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.” He continued to reflect on acts of civil disobedience by Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau, explaining that their peaceful protests were condemned but that it gave their purpose more strength and meaning. Still, many AHS students and faculty did choose to participate in the walkout. Junior Isa Dray, an organizer of the walkout on March 15th, explains that “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.” Freshman Milo Kiely-Song explained that he “decided to walk out because [he] absolutely believe[s] that stricter gun regulations are necessary to make our country and our schools safer.” Though not all of AHS participated in the walkout, those who chose to not partake in the event still respected those who did—yet another representation of the inclusive and unified environment at the high school. Participating students proved to the nation that their voices deserved to be heard and that they will not rest until stronger gun control is enacted.

More recently, students at AHS have responded to a major incident of vandalism at the school. On the night of Tuesday May 2nd, a group of young males broke into the school and shattered windows, smashed art display cases, discharged fire extinguishers, destroyed cafeteria tables, and smeared various condiments around school property. Additionally, the intruders spray-painted three messages of hate on the outside wall of the school, consisting of two homophobic slurs and a swastika on a trash barrel.

Many students were surprised that such hate was present in a community they thought was safe and welcoming. The school first responded to the incident by holding an assembly organized by the Junior Class Council, in which all student leaders stood as a unified wall in front of the rest of the student body. Dr. Janger, as well as junior class officers, condemned the acts of vandalism but inspired the student body to stand up for the school, to foster what the community wants: a culture of positivity and inclusivity. Following the assembly, students were invited to write positive messages in chalk on the front of the school, such as “Hate has no home here” and “You are loved.”

Members of the senior class, which the majority of vandals belonged to, were disappointed with the actions that would now shape their legacy at the school, and wanted to give back to the community. Senior Olivia Weiss organized a GoFundMe page to raise money to restore the damage inflicted by the vandalism. Dr. Janger, in a recent email, explained that he will be meeting with members of the senior class to discuss the best use for the funds in order to “repair the harm to our community and restore our sense of safety and unity.” Additionally, senior Ian Miller spoke on behalf of the senior class at the school-wide assembly about vandalism, and expressed their disapproval of the event and disappointment in those who vandalized. The unified backlash by nearly all AHS students against the vandalism exemplifies the activist voice that students have found in the past year.

The inclusive and united environment that the school has worked to establish this year has made students comfortable with expressing their political views and has created an activist culture in the student body.