OPINION

A Reflection of Pelosi’s SOTU Paper Ripping

By: Judson S. ('21)

      American politics over the past few years have been what some would call unorthodox, to say the least.  A partisan impeachment trial, billionaire reality TV-star and businessman in the oval office, socialists making large advancements in congress and even the run for president, etc.: It’s just weird. It’s to the point where if Republicans say one thing, Democrats feel a sense of obligation to say the exact opposite, and vice versa. My favorite comparison to this is when someone you don’t necessarily like is listening to your favorite song and you're like “Oh, well guess I  can’t like that one anymore.” Anyways, this constant state of disagreement which continues to expand the rift between America’s two main political parties isn’t entertaining, funny, eye-opening, educated and definitely not beneficial; it’s just annoying. Really annoying.

       Now, for those reading this who remember my first hook article titled, “Why I Love President Trump” that I wrote at the end of my freshmen year, you might have this view that I’m some backcountry, ignorant redneck conservative from Alabama, or you might be like the people from whom I certainly did not expect a compliment telling them it was “very eye-opening to the other side” back when it came out.  Regardless of your perception of what my political views are, I have bounced around a lot since that article. I fell off the Trump train for a little and liked hearing what other people like Tulsi Gabbard, Pete Buttigieg and other democrats, who I found reasonable and impressive, had to say, and for a minute I was really pulling for my girl Tulsi (Tua Tagovailoa’s dad’s support for her lowkey had an influence; I can’t even lie).  However, as the impeachment of Donald Trump started up it seemed fairly clear to me that it was less of a process to preserve morality and justice in the oval office, and more of a partisan shenanigan.   

       Thus, throughout the impeachment trial, I was pushed further back to siding with the President rather than looking into potential democratic nominees to potentially side with, though I have always continued to keep an open mind.  Another disclaimer I want to make is that I do indeed have the ability to acknowledge that my political candidate of choice at any time is not perfect and not everything he/she does is defensible or correct, and I can also acknowledge when a candidate I normally disagree with says/does something good or productive, which I find can be a little difficult for other people at times.  My main reason for saying this isn’t to brag about how I’m "more open-minded than all of these other peasants” but rather so whomever is reading this can read in peace knowing that I’m not some crusader for Trump or anything like that.

       Anyways, like I hope everyone else is, I’m tired of all of the arguing.  I understand there is not always a lot of agreement in politics necessarily, but this phase of political unrest is just getting exponentially more childish by the day.  The first and most recent occurrence on my mind that I’m going to focus on in this article is the Pelosi speech tear during the State of the Union. Some of you reading this may see it as “powerful,” and that’s okay because it is your opinion, but I just see it as pretty disrespectful and childish.  The speech highlighted various all-time low minority unemployment rates, the lowest female unemployment rate in 70 years, honored a 100-year-old Tuskegee Airman with his great-grandson, made time for a reunion of a North Carolina family and their father/husband after a surprise returned from deployment, and gave out a scholarship to 4th grader Janiyah Davis of Philadelphia, enabling her to attend a higher-performing school than she was already at after Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolfe vetoed a school choice legislation that would put her on a 50,000 person wait-list for a tax-credit scholarship.  He also honored the families of Kayla Mueller, who was kidnapped, tortured, and eventually murdered by ISIS, and also Jody Jones, whose brother Rocky Jones had been murdered by an illegal immigrant who had been twice deported, arrested in California, released due to California’s state sanctuary laws, and went on a crime spree which led to the murdering of 51-year-old Rocky and left Rocky’s daughter fatherless.

        Now that was a lot, but to be fair there was a lot more I could have added in there.  My purpose in bringing up all these things is just to back up my claim that Pelosi’s ripping up of the State of the Union speech was disrespectful, ignorant, childish, inappropriate, and unprofessional.  She just ripped up all of those names and accomplishments for a political stunt. It baffles me that a lot of people would rather see this country in the toilet than a president have success. Pelosi just seems to join the group of career politicians who have allowed a celebrity billionaire businessman with no prior political background before being elected President into their heads and throw them all out of whack.  

        Now Trump is not a perfect president, by any means but that should not oblige another politician to stoop down (to what they define as) his level.  If you want to give yourself an advantage in the world of politics I feel that it is much more effective by responding to any situation in which someone you do not like does something immoral/controversial/etc. by keeping poised and showing the American people who is calmer and more collected, rather than stirring up their own controversy as a sort of defense mechanism, and this goes for all sides.  It seems that this “defense mechanism” tends to put more attention on the defender than the offender. It’s like when you were on the playground when you were little and someone hit you and you hit them back and end up being the one getting in trouble for it. It doesn’t matter what the other person did, the teacher (being the American people in this analogy) saw and recognized what you did so it doesn’t matter what excuse you have for it, you still did it.  

        And now, my final diagnosis at the end of this pretty brief and all-over-the-place article:  D.C. is on the east coast, and Hollywood is on the west coast, and it’s better that they keep that distance for pretty much the good of everything political.  Politics aren’t meant to be a Hollywood drama or reality TV show, they’re meant to solve a nation’s issues, help the American people, etc. Trump needs to keep his mouth shut sometimes and remember that he holds the most powerful title in the world as POTUS and that he isn’t on the Apprentice anymore, Pelosi and the Democrats need to stop letting every little thing Trump does drive them absolutely nuts, and everyone in Washington needs to stop yelling at and arguing with each other and start finding some common ground to agree on so they can do what they were elected to do:  Listen to the voice of the American people and fight for what’s best for them, and I guarantee you, this political unrest, does absolutely none of that. Cheap insults and personal jabs can’t save a country, and some of our fellow Americans in D.C., whether they’re Democrat, Republican, Independent, etc., need to realize this and realize it fast, or this political rift will only continue to grow larger.

P.S.: I understand this article sort of lacked purpose and may not be the longest and most detailed but I’m also writing it on the night of Sunday, February 9th, and the Hook deadline is tomorrow so I did what I could with my time and I just felt like I should put some of my thoughts out there.  Also, I’ve kind of been struggling to find things politically that I could discuss/debate (even though it sure does feel like a lot is going on) so if anyone would like to hear me give my thoughts on something just hit up my school email, and I’ll potentially include it in the article(s) I write for the next edition of The Hook when that comes out later in the year.

The Carolina Panthers: What the Hell We Gon’ Do Now

By: MC J. ('20)

In early December 2019, the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, Ron Rivera, was fired due to the need for a culture change. David Tepper, the owner of the team, said the way to change the team meant “new blood” and a younger mind in the head coach’s office. The decision came with lots of backlash, but also relief.

A “Thank You” movement spread across the Carolinas after the decision was announced. Panthers fans were voicing their gratitude and showing their respect to the ex-coach. Senior Avery L says, “I’m kind of sad because I liked him.” However, a large number of Panthers supporters believed it was the right decision. Senior Mary Thomas W says, “I don’t care but I think the Panthers were falling apart.” A few other students believe we may have a shot at the Super Bowl now.

The new head coach of the Panther’s will be Matt Rhule, the former head coach at Baylor University. Country Day JV Football Coach Darrel B says, “He had lots of success at Baylor and I hope he can do the same with the Panthers.” His outlook on the situation is positive however there is some concern as he said, “I always worry about college coaches coming to the NFL.”

A new head coach isn’t the only thing changing about the Panthers in the upcoming season. Joe Brady, the LSU passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach, is coming off his high of winning the NCAA National Championship by returning to the NFL as the new offensive coordinator for the Panthers. Country Day JV football coach, Darrell B, has high hopes saying, “I hope he can do in Charlotte what he did for LSU.”

On top of these coaching staff changes, Luke Kuechly, a beloved Panthers linebacker, announced his retirement on January 14, 2020. The announcement was a surprise to most Panther’s fans. Kuechly says, “In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do.” There has been a lot of speculation over what prompted his retirement at the age of 28. Many people have pointed it at his multiple concussions and concluded it is most likely related to his personal health. Christian McCaffrey, a Panther’s running back and close friend of Kuechly’s posted on Instagram discussing his appreciation for Luke saying, “I’m so honored to have shared the field with not just the best player I’ve ever seen, but the best person I’ve ever met. Will always love you, bro!” It was a sweet sentiment to end Kuechly’s career.

Overall, these new changes in the culture of the Carolina Panthers will be pushing the program towards a rebuild. Mr. Bach believes Kuechly will “leave a huge hole in the Panthers defense.” His outlook on the future of the Panthers is hesitant as he says, “It’s really going to depend upon the draft and what they decide to do at quarterback.” Fans across the Carolinas will be waiting in anticipation for the 2020-2021 season.

More Than Just a Word

By: Lauren W. ('20)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T549VoLca_Q

I want everyone to think back to special Olympics, and picture your buddy. Now, I want you to picture their face if they saw you using their medical condition as a word synonymous with idiotic, stupid, weird, etc. What did they look like? Can you imagine how they would feel? Did that make you a little sad? Yeah well, people with intellectual disabilities have been living with these harmful stereotypes for their entire lives. Every time someone uses the r word to describe something negative, they enforce the idea that individuals with intellectual disabilities are lesser than, stupid, and not as capable as other people in society, sometimes without even meaning to. Most people use it as slang, and might not even think about what the word really means. Most people who use that word would never intentionally hurt the special needs community, and would never think of actually saying it to someone with intellectual disabilities. Globally, around 200 Million people are born with an intellectual disability. So your vocabulary is effecting a lot more people than just your special Olympics buddy. Most people don’t have harmful intentions. But hopefully today I can show you how that word still being used in today’s society reinforces negative stereotypes about this community that means a lot to me.

The r word has consequences much greater than words that could be used instead, it stigmatizes, stereotypes, and most importantly hurts an entire community of human beings and the ones close to them. How would you feel if your genetic condition that you were born into became synonymous with words like stupid, incapable, wrong, and unuseful, and was thrown around lightly by your peers and the adults around you? 

This is Zoe, you may have seen her around special Olympics, but to me, she’s much more than a buddy. I’ve known Zoe for a while now and she has brought so much light into my life. She has Williams syndrome, which is a rare genetic mutation that effects the 7th chromosome. Williams syndrome has a lot of scary medical side effects, but the thing you will realize right away is that people with Williams syndrome are extremely nice. People with Williams syndrome quite literally lack the ability to be mean. Unfortunately, not everyone has shown the same unconditional niceness back to Zoe. She’s been called the r word by her peers in classes, on the streets, behind her back, etc. This year, she had to switch schools from Myers park to a more inclusive school because she came home crying most nights due to the bullying she had to endure. It’s especially hard for Zoe because she is literally incapable of understanding how people can be mean.

The girl with the pink hair is Emma. She graduated from Myers park high school and now works in a hospital as an intern to some of the best surgeons in the country. She also just recently got a job at the Blumenthal performing arts center as an usher. Other than the fact that she’s incredibly smart, she loves to play videogames, the color red, and putting a smile on the faces of everyone she meets. Emma is the living example of why a word associated with her condition should never be used as a replacement for words like stupid, incapable, weird, and dumb. She literally works along surgeons who save peoples lives with their skills.

The farthest on the right is molly. She’s incredibly talented. She paints, dances, sings, and impresses me with many more skills all the time. But my favorite thing about Molly, is that she has a killer sense of humor. She will roast you harder than any one of your teammates. She can take what she dishes out too, she finds a lot of things funny, but one thing she doesn’t find funny is when people use the r word to describe negative things. Because she knows that pain that comes behind that word.

 

Sadly, the internet is full of harmful stereotypes about the special needs community. 

This is a quote from a recent study done by the Kantar Society:

“The Kantar social listening study reviewed nearly 50 million social posts in the U.S. over 2 years about people with intellectual disabilities. The sad facts: over two-thirds of posts were negative and nearly 29 million contain slurs (i.e., using the R-word or other words combined with “-tard”).

The point of me sharing this statistic is not because I think that you guys are making fun of the special needs community, and using slurs, but to show you that people in society are still using this word to negatively portray special needs individuals and harass them. You may think that the word has lost its association with the special needs community, but it just hasn’t.

A mom of a 9 year old with Cerebral Palsy recently said this in an interview:

"I'm not saying that anyone who uses the word flippantly has something against people with special needs," said Seidman, a magazine editor and mom blogger. "But it is a demeaning word even if it's meant as a joke, because it spreads the idea that people who are cognitively impaired are either stupid or losers."

 

I’m not trying to be the “word police” and tell people what they can and can’t say, but I just hope that we will start to think hard about the meanings and repercussions of the words we use. I know that it’s a difficult thing to respond to one of your friends or peers by saying “hey by the way I don’t think you should be saying that word anymore” because when you do that, you may get labeled as too sensitive or lame, but hopefully after reading this article you can have the courage to stand up for a community of individuals who have been ostracized, isolated, bullied, and made fun of for their whole lives. Or even just replace the r word with a less harmful word next time you go to joke around with your friends. And if you cant do it for me, do it for Zoe, Emma, Molly, your special Olympics buddy, or whoever in your life already has to live with the isolation that comes from being born different.

How Can we Prevent Sexual Assault?

By: Chantell F. ('21)

Imagine carrying around a 50-pound mattress, holding and bearing that weight on your shoulders. Well, this was the case for Emma Sulkowicz. A Columbia University student who was raped her sophomore year, while her accuser was deemed not responsible. In order to show the burden that she was carrying, she dragged a blue mattress around campus in 2014. College students are being assaulted at a very high rate, for instance, 23.1% of women and 5.4% of men are sexually assaulted. We must educate both male and female students about prevention methods and sexual assault, because if we don’t do something about it, it could affect our future generations.

Sexual assault can take many different forms; it is referred to as sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim, but what exactly is consent? Consent is described as "a clear and unambiguous agreement, expressed outwardly through mutually understandable words or actions, to engage in a particular activity." Consent can also be withdrawn by either party at any point. When consent is not established, then sexual assault occurs. Sadly, many sexual assault cases results in the death of the victim. 

Ruth George was a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was strangled to death after she ignored a man’s catcalls and refused to talk to him. She was only 19 years old, and an honor student. Many people are asking, what is UIC doing to prevent this from happening again? Well, subsequently after Ruth’s death, the university began instituting 24-hour security patrols of campus parking garages. This is a good step from awareness to action; other actions that should be instituted to help combat sexual assault and harassment on campuses include educating students on consent, the role that alcohol can play in sexual assault cases, and pressuring colleges to release the correct stats about sexual harassment. Colleges and universities should promote national movements to end sexual assault like "it’s on us” and the green dot strategy. By doing this, we become one step closer to ending assault.

They also must address how alcohol can lead to inappropriate and even dangerous situations for both young men and women. Alcohol is often used to facilitate the full range of sexual assault and rape on campuses. This was the case for 21-year-old Alexis Crawford, a senior at Clark Atlanta University. One night when she, her roommate, and her roommate’s boyfriend were drinking, she blacked out. She then woke up to unwanted kissing and touching from her roommate’s boyfriend. Shortly after, Alexis filed a sexual assault complaint on the boyfriend; then five days later she was killed. With the help of her boyfriend, Alexis’s roommate killed her and disposed of her body in a park. One of the main reasons why victims are afraid to speak out about sexual assault is due to fear of retaliation; other reasons include embarrassment and the fear of not being believed.

The major obstacle to understanding the prevalence of sexual harassment and to combating the problem is the low incidence of reporting. Sadly, higher education institutions have been among the worst venues. An estimated 62% of students and graduates have experienced sexual violence at a university - everything from harassment and groping to coercion and rape - yet just 1 in 10 reported this to either the university or the police. Along with women not reporting incidents, colleges aren’t either. Title 9 of the Education amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and requires schools to provide protection against those practices. The law also requires schools to report, and promptly investigate the complaints. When colleges fail to report all their sexual assault cases, they violate numerous laws, one being Title 9. The University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been one of the schools that have violated this law. In a 5-year investigation, that began after several women stated that the university had underreported sexual assaults in their annual report and that they created a hostile environment for students trying to report assault. The reason for this was because high sexual assault cases makes colleges look bad and can defer students from attending there.

However, the lack of dialogue in our communities about sexual assault and body safety enables sexual violence to continue to exist. If we are afraid to hear a disclosure of sexual assault, if our most common response is to blame the victim, if we are uncomfortable talking about body safety, then we are giving the power to offenders and allowing sexual violence to spread. Along with sexual assault, sexual harassment is an equal problem on campuses.

At the university of South Carolina, a fraternity was suspended after a local reporter was harassed. While the reporter was covering a story about the fraternity, members began yelling out offensive things to her. As a result of this, these men were suspended until 2023. By taking this action, USC helped aid in the fight to end sexual assault, by letting students know that it is not okay, and it does come with consequences.

For many women, the possibility of being sexually assaulted isn’t at the forefront of their minds when they begin college. While it doesn’t need to be the main focus, it doesn’t hurt for women to be aware of the number of crimes against women on their particular campus. By knowing how many cases have been reported on your campus can help you become more aware, for instance in 2014 Brown University and the University of Connecticut tied for the highest annual total — 43 each; although this number is high and seems bad, the high report of numbers means that victims of sexual assault are stepping up to speak out about their stories.

Prevention methods that should be explained thoroughly to students include being aware of your surroundings, communicating with your partner about consent, responsibly drinking, only drinking something that you’ve poured yourself, and using the buddy system with your friends to look out for each other.

College should be a time filled with fun, laughter and good memories; in order to make sure this is accomplished, society and legal systems must continuously work together, in order to protect students from sexual assault, and provide them confidence that their voice will be heard. If we don’t do something about the normality of sexual assault and harassment on college campuses, then it will be an epidemic amongst you and future generations. Would you want your kids and grandkids to experience this?

Grade-Wide Bonding Activities Might Not Be as Much of a Hit as Faculty Wish

By: Emma T ('22)

How Do Students Feel About Grade-Wide Bonding Activities?

(out of 103 answers)

Like them: 24

Dislike them: 41

Neutral: 38

Students may need to wait until their senior year in order to experience the excitement of the class bonding activities. The mixed ratings from underclassmen question how fun the activities truly are at the beginning of the year.

After polling more than 100 students in grades 9-12, 40% of students polled dislike their grade-wide bonding activities, 37% felt neutral, and 23% liked them.

“It is a good idea to have grade-wide bonding activities, but they should be fun and actually allow bonding with the grade rather than being boring,” said sophomore Tanvi P.

Freshman Lance T. enjoys spending time with his peers: “I like them because they are fun, and I like to talk to everyone. It is fun to be with everybody at school while not doing academic activities.”    

Some feel that the activities hurt them rather than allowing them to thrive. “[The activities] force me into awkward social situations and leave me feeling more estranged from my peers than before,” said junior Tyanna M.

Everyone has the senior rafting trip to look forward to. The trip is a three-day experience in West Virginia that includes rafting, ropes course, and a zipline. “There is no forced bonding; everything happens naturally, and the trip is so fun from the bus ride to the rafting,” said senior MC J.

[photo courtesy of Laura Trojan, 2019]

Students Grace G., Hannah B., Blake J., Charlotte N., Gracie F., and McLean S. participating in the sophomore bonding day

Why We Should Lower the Drinking Age

By: Carter G. ('22)

Caroline Smith- Clayton Real- Tucker Arnold- Jack Crean… These are few names of people that have died in college due to excessive drinking. If I've learned one thing about death among college students from overdrinking, it's that it can happen to anyone! It’s the same story every time, it's always an underage boy or girl that one-night drinks excessively whether it be to let off steam, join Greek life, or to impress friends. The story always ends with students that were scared of getting in trouble so they leave the underage intoxicated person to fend for themselves hoping that they will be fine in the morning. Someone finds them the next day with no pulse and decides then to tell someone, but by then it's too late. Then comes the families that are told that their son or daughter died last night from excessive drinking, and they have to hear that no one got help for their dead child because they were afraid to get in trouble. I suggest lowering the drinking age to 18 years old instead of 21. This is would result in less casualties because it would decrease DUI accidents, it would be less glorified, there would be more supervision, and there would be no thrill in breaking the law. The fear of getting in trouble also causes multiple DUI cases. An 18-20-year-old has what they think is a little alcohol and ends up dying in a car crash because they think they are fine, and they don’t want to have to tell their parents to pick them up because they drank. It is said too many times by parents, things like, "I will kill you if you ever drink underage!" or "My child would NEVER do that, they are too smart for that." Families and the government need to face reality, and the reality is that almost all early adults are drinking or have drank. The real issue is how are we going to prevent more deaths from underage drinking from occurring.

 

            It is a well-known fact that teens naturally enjoy breaking the rules. In fact, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 86.3% of 18-year old's admit they have drank underage in 2017. And in my experiences as a high schooler so far I believe this percent is higher. If the drinking age was lowered to 18, you may think that people ages of 18-20 would just drink more because its more available to them and then more deaths would transpire. But I disagree; there is research that tells us that if drinking at age 18-20 was legal, it would be less admired. It wouldn’t be a rite of passage because anyone can do it, they just choose not to. There is not the thrill of knowing you're breaking the rules, and I have even heard the phrase, alcohol doesn’t taste as good when it's legal. I also believe that there would be fewer deaths because drinking would be in a more controlled environment instead of at a party with no supervision, people could go to a bar and get cut off if they have had too much, or with their parents that are just making sure they don’t overdo it, because they know when someone has had enough.

 

            Thirdly, I believe there would be fewer deaths from underage drinking because people would realize there is no thrill in breaking the law, and it's not always worth the hangover that comes in the morning. This is very important to keep in mind because a main reason young adults choose to drink is because alcohol is glorified to college students. Now you may be thinking, if 18 year-olds are getting it now, does that mean that the 18-year old’s are going to start giving it to the 15 year old's? This may be true, but I can tell you 100% that anyone can get alcohol if they want it bad enough, it doesn’t matter if their parents don’t drink, it doesn’t matter if they know someone that has a fake ID, anyone can get alcohol. In fact, 17.5% of alcohol sold in the United States is bought from 18-20 year old consumers. And that’s why the distribution to teens is not the current issue. There is no way to stop the distribution, but there are ways to make it safer.

 

            In fact, the real issue is not underage drinking either. The problem is glorification that comes from underage drinking and the decisions people make under the influence to try and avoid getting in trouble, the thrill and desire that comes when you and your friends break the law to drink. I believe that lowering the drinking age to 18 will result in fewer DUI's, because a high schooler won't be afraid to call their parents to tell them they drank, and they need a ride home. It will also result in fewer deaths among adolescents because there will be less fear among bystanders to get help for a drunk person when needed and there is less incentive to drink to excess. Finally, I believe it would result in fewer fatalities because there is less motivation to drink to excess. High schoolers truly believe go big or go home, especially when drinking. Usually the sober person at the party isn't the one being praised, it’s the drunkest one that looks like their having the most fun. And that’s where the glorification aspect comes in; if the drinking age was lowered, would 18-year old's have the same desire to get drunk, to "fit in"? Or would they be just like everyone else at the party they just don’t feel the desire to get drunk, and break the rules for once, because- where's the fun in that?

It's Not Just About the Plastic Straws

By: Sarah P ('20)

Plastic straws… that’s all we seem to hear about today.  How many people go out to eat and ask for no straw with their drink or maybe you feel the opposite way and you’re now upset when you have to ask for a straw when you go out. 

How many people have bought into the environmentally-friendly straws like this metal one or maybe this silicone one, as opposed to the plastic ones I have here?  Which is great, more power to you. 

But, what would you do if I told you that the plastic straw strike really doesn’t have any overall input in the plastic pollution issue that we have?  What if I told you there was a bigger problem?  And, spoiler alert… there is, and they’re called Cigarettes.

 During the 2017 International Coastal Clean Up, there were over 2.4 million cigarettes, and cigarette filters collected along the sea shore.  Putting the cigarette and cigarette filters at the top of the list for most collected item.  That’s first place.

Well, you’re thinking…what about the plastic straws?  Aren’t there like a billion of them in the ocean killing all the turtles?  Isn’t that what all the vsco girls are obsessed with?  Contrary to popular belief, no. 

In fact, there were only 643,562 plastic straws and stirrers collected during that same pick up.  Putting the plastic straws at the 7th largest item collected.  Yes, that is a big amount, but when you compare that number to the cigarettes it’s almost nothing.

 Now I’m not here to say that the use of plastic straws doesn’t matter.  It certainly does.  What I’m here to say is that we need to focus our attention not on the disposal and use of plastic straws, but on the disposal of cigarettes and more specifically their filters.  There are three aspects that I want you to think about: 1) Plastic pollution 2) Chemical release 3) the economic burden

Now let’s take about plastic pollution.  Cigarette filters are commonly made of a plastic called cellulose acetate, and this plastic can take up to 12 years to biodegrade. 

If we estimate the global number of littered cigarettes each year, it would be close to 4 trillion cigarettes put into the environment.  Meaning we are potentially looking at the idea that there will be close to 48 trillion littered cigarettes on our planet in the next twelve years.

 Let’s keep in mind that each cigarette discarded takes around 12 years to biodegrade.  Meaning that by the 12 years that the first 4 trillion cigarettes have biodegraded, you’ve collected 48 trillion more.  But the amount of plastic pollution created by cigarettes isn’t the only problem they create.

So, what’s another problem we get to deal with because of cigarettes?  Chemicals, and even better- chemical release.  Now you may be thinking, “duh, of course there are chemicals.  It’s a cigarette,” and you would be right but what you don’t know is how well the tar and nicotine collected in the filters can transfer into the water. 

Scientists have found that just one littered cigarette filter pollutes around 500 liters of water.  But, of course that’s not all.  Before the cigarette filters even get to the ocean they travel through drains, gutters, and sidewalks, and release chemicals into any waterways they can find.

  Not only is that bad for the ocean but it’s also bad for the animals and birds that live near the water.  It is becoming increasingly common to find dead sea birds and sea life with cigarette butts inside of their stomachs.  The birds often mistake the filters for food and ingest the cigarettes along with the toxins they carry. 

So now that I’ve covered the plastic pollution aspect, and the chemical release aspect, I want to address the economic impact that cigarette littering causes.

In London alone, 3.8 million pounds are spent each year cleaning up littered cigarettes.  That is a ton of money that could be spent on education, or construction for better roads, or maybe more fluent public transportation system. 

How could we decrease or even get rid of the cost of cleaning up littered cigarettes?  Proper disposal, and what does that look like.  Well we already have the solution.  It’s called a cigarette reciprocal.  And I’m sure you’ve seen one.  It’s a slender tube with a widened bottom.  And it’s not the availability that’s the problem.

It’s the smokers.  Smokers just like flicking the cigarette after it’s done.  I’m not joking.  Public polls have found that 9 times out of 10 the smokers will flick the cigarette even if the reciprocal is next to them.

 The path of action that we have to take from that is… How do we create something that smokers will willingly use. If we can get smokers to willingly put and dispose their cigarettes into the recipricols… we can lower the littering rate -which helps the plastic polluctions, and chemical leaks, as well as help the economy.

The New Dowd Student Center: Love it or Hate it?

By: Reid S ('22)

This past school year Charlotte Country Day School invested a large sum of money into providing an eating space and study area that according to the website, would double the dining capacity, triple kitchen and service space, add flexible and multi-use spaces, and provide indoor and outdoor eating and gathering spaces. With all the new improvements and extra amenities, do students and faculty love using the new student center, or hate using it? In order to discover both sides of the story, student and faculty were asked questions about overall thoughts, feelings, and potential improvement areas on the new student center. 

 

Sophomore student Blake Jorgensen who eats in the new student center almost every day had an overall positive outlook on the new building. When asked about whether the new student center lived up to its' expectations, Jorgensen said, “At the beginning of the year it was really cool, I think it lived up to its expectations.” Particularly, Blake Jorgensen pointed out that the greatest parts of the new building are the vast seating options and that the line to get food is more “open-concept” compared to the old Dixon Sanger Dining Hall. When asked about the negatives, Blake Jorgensen said, “I wish it had better Wi-Fi, that’s really it, I like it a lot, I don’t have that much criticism about it.” Faculty members and 10th grade dean Laura Trojan had a relatively positive outlook on the new student center, but both positive and negative views on the new building. When asked whether she liked the new student center better than the old Dixon Sanger Dining Hall, Trojan said, “I like it better, yes. I like the variety in the upper school.” However, Mrs. Trojan did express concern with the lower school side of the student center as well as the lines to get sandwiches in the cafeteria.

“The downside is that there is no more show cookery which gives less variety to the lower schoolers.” Trojan also said that the line to get sandwiches causes too much of a jam in all of the other lines. Trojan also pointed out that there is nowhere to put your drink when finished, unlike the old cafeteria. 

 

Overall, the students and faculty seem to not love using the new student center. However, it looks that in the case of Blake Jorgensen and Laura Trojan, the new student center is satisfactory to use but has some areas for improvement. Altogether, the new building seems like a project that ultimately lived up to the expectations surrounding it with amenities such as a larger dining capacity, a larger kitchen, flexible and multi-use spaces. The student center now provides students with indoor and outdoor eating and gathering spaces to fit the needs of students to both socialize  with friends and focus on academics. 

Equal Pay?

By: Tyler S. ('21)

"Equal pay! Equal pay! Equal pay!" was the chant shouted at almost every USA Women's National Team's World Cup game. But are the women really getting paid less? It depends on the way a person looks at it. The men's prize for winning the World Cup is $440 million while the women's prize is only $30 million. Unfair is how most see it, but I'm here to help you understand that the pay is fair, or even unfair in the respect that the men should make more than they already do. The first argument is the fact that men make more; the second is that they get a lower percentage; and the third is the way they take their general salary is different. 

 

Before I begin this speech, I want everyone to know I am for women's rights and that women should never be discriminated against.

I understand in other places, like the workplace, women may be paid less but, in this speech, I am talking only about the situation with the US Women's National Team.

 

The Men's National Team earns money for their federation by ticket sales and sponsorships. On average, the attendance for a men's national soccer game is 21,696 while the women sit at 7,337.  The men have about three times the number of tickets sold and, if the tickets are the same price, that is three times the revenue.  The Women's World Cup brought in a total of $73 million while the men's brought in nearly $4 billion. With this shown, if the World Cup gave all of the money earned to the winning prize, they could only pay 16.6% of the men's prize.

The numbers show that the women bring in only 2.18% of the men's.

 

Second, the men actually make less in terms of percentage.  In the last World Cup in Russia, more than $6 billion was received, and the teams shared $400 million, less than 7%.  In the 2019 Women's World Cup, they made about $131 million and gave out about $30 million, more than 20%. Therefore, some might say that the men should get 20% of the revenue, or the women should get only 6.7% like the men.

 

Lastly, the women's national team players are on a salary-based income. The female players have a base salary of $100,000/year, and they get an additional $67,500 for playing in the National Women's Soccer League. The men's team is paid according to training camp call-ups (if they do well in training camp, then they will get pulled up to play and get paid).  This style gives the men's team an opportunity to get more money but is also risky.  If the women were willing to give up the security of a base salary, then they could/would make more based on their winning record. The only problem is that the non-starters might not want this because they would not make as much money.

 

In conclusion, the women's team should in no way be discriminated against, but the numbers show that the revenue-to prize-money ratio is fair - not equal, but fair.

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

By: Quintin C ('20)

Ever cursed in front of a teacher? Well, several students in Austin, Texas, have and had to put soap in their mouths as a punishment for the inappropriate language. All this took place at private school Austin Peace Academy. When interviewed, Susan Soto, an attorney for the school, wrote that the students are “well intentioned and are focused on their studies and personal growth; however, sometimes their choice of language leaves much to be desired." More than a dozen students in high school stood in front of sinks chewing bars of soap.  

Situations like this are very unlikely to happen at Charlotte Country Day; however, it makes you question whether or not a punishment like this is appropriate. Surprisingly, junior William D. thought it was appropriate to put soap in the kids' mouths. William stated, “by adopting this consequence, it would teach kids right from wrong.” He continued by saying he would “respond to consequence that harsh in a positive way. This new consequence would hold Country Day to a higher standard.” 

  Contrary to William’s belief, Kennedy G. stated that she didn’t "agree with a punishment like soap in children's mouths because there are other consequences that would suffice.” She continued to say that “being at a school like Country Day brings many privileges and an alternative consequence could be taking away some of those privileges.”  

As generations come and go, certain regimes and ways of life change. This is a new day and age, and we’re moving toward a more lenient time, accepting new ideas and beliefs, whether good or bad. Before we get too far ahead to a time that can never be changed, everyone needs to “Speak Now Or Forever Hold Their Curse Words.”

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