Welcome to the Hive!

The Hive Staff, 2021-2022

Havann Brown — Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

Alyssa Cocchiola — Associate Editor

Ken Burchett — Associate Editor

CJ Delaney — Reporter

Elise Miller — Reporter

Randall Hatfield — Reporter

Camryn Myrla — Reporter

Mallory Butcher — Reporter

Jesse Mitchell — Reporter

Logan Cook — Reporter

Avery Miller — Reporter

Alex Levy — Reporter

Cadence Gutman — Reporter

Aiden Hills — Reporter

Meadow Sandy — Reporter

Ms. Jenna Bates — Adviser

*The Hive provides students with the opportunity to express creativity, to learn journalism techniques and principles, and to learn about the rights and responsibilities of public expression in our democratic society. The Hive is produced entirely by students and not subject to prior content review. Bio-Med Science Academy’s Governing Board assumes no liability for the newspaper’s content. Bio-Med’s Hive is a member of the Ohio Scholastic Media Association


Commentary: Abortion Bans Are Anything But Pro-Life

by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief

For almost 50 years, people have heavily relied on the holding in Roe v. Wade to make the decision about whether or not to have a baby. As the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey decision, “[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” Photo by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief.

MAY 2022 — Abortion is currently legal everywhere in the United States. However, it appears that won’t be true for long. According to a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito in February, at least five of the court’s justices have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision recognizing the right to abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision reaffirming that right.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” wrote Alito. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

He went on to state, “Roe was egregiously wrong,” and demonstrated that the court is looking to reject Roe’s legal protections.

It is unclear if the draft represents a final opinion, as justices have previously changed their views during the drafting process. The court’s holding will not be final until it is published, likely in the next two months.

If the Supreme Court overturns the nearly 50-year-old precedent granted by Roe’s abortion rights ruling, access to abortion will become a state-by-state issue, which would be a nightmare scenario.

An NBC News analysis of Center for Reproductive Rights data shows that 23 states would institute abortion bans. “Trigger laws,” or laws that would go into effect banning abortions when Roe is overturned, are on the books in 13 of those states. A second abortion-rights advocacy group, the Guttmacher Institute, counted as many as 26 states considered certain or likely to ban abortion ​​based on laws passed before and after Roe, in the event it was overturned.

In Ohio, abortion rights would likely be eliminated if Roe were overturned. Governor Mike DeWine has signed multiple horrific bills to ban abortion as early as six weeks gestation, require aborted fetuses to be buried or cremated, prevent medication abortions, and add rules that could shut down two Southwest Ohio abortion clinics. Additionally, a bill pending in the Ohio General Assembly would ban doctors from performing medication or surgical abortions, instituting a fourth-degree felony for violators.

Pictured is a sign from a May 5 protest in support of reproductive rights hosted by Kent State Univerity’s Chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Since the leaking of the Supreme Court draft, protests have sparked all across the country, with many being hosted on college campuses. Photo provided by Jana Stone, a Kent State freshman.

Access to safe abortion services is a human right. Forcing someone to carry an unwanted pregnancy or to seek out an unsafe abortion is a violation of their human rights, including the rights to privacy and bodily autonomy. Furthermore, denying someone abortion care has devastating and lasting consequences for the pregnant person, as it can jeopardize their health, economic well-being, and ability to determine their future.

Restricting abortions does nothing to reduce the number of abortions that people have; it only forces people to seek out unsafe abortions. Alternatively, pregnancy carries more significant risks than abortion does. A 2021 research study predicted that abortion bans would lead to a 21 percent increase in pregnancy-related deaths.

People will die if Roe is overturned, which is far from the “pro-life” stance that opponents of abortion often take. According to NPR, before Roe, anywhere from 200,000 to 1,000,000 illegal abortions took place each year. A majority of the Supreme Court will have blood on their hands.

Those most harmed by these decisions will continue to be people of color, people in rural areas, young people, immigrants, and low-income individuals, who face systemic barriers to medical care. People living in areas considered “hostile” towards abortion would likely have to travel to a state with laws protecting abortion, which is highly inaccessible. Wealthy individuals will always have access to abortion, so ending Roe is an attack on the autonomy of the poor among many others.

In the past, justices have been hesitant when overturning a precedent, and usually only after public opinions toward the subject had changed. However, a majority of the American people support abortion rights. According to a January CNN poll, “nearly 70 percent of Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.” Despite this issue being seized by vocal extremists, the numbers are certain; people support legal access to abortion.

With the leaking of the Supreme Court draft, one thing has been made terribly clear: the overturning of abortion rights is just the beginning. Alito’s reasoning for overturning Roe is simple. Since the Constitution doesn’t mention the word “abortion,” any claim that there is a constitutional right to one must show that legal abortions have been “deeply rooted in our nation’s history and traditions.”

Roe’s logic hinges on a person’s right to privacy. Overturning Roe could also undermine other rights to which Americans have grown accustomed, such as access to contraceptives and gay marriage, which also hinge on a right to privacy.

Even though the word “privacy,” like the word “abortion,” does not appear in the Constitution, justices have held the stance that it could be inferred from the text. Even if Alito is correct that legal abortion is not “deeply rooted” in our culture, he ignores the fact that women were denied nearly all rights we now take for granted for much of history.

Obviously, the Constitution says nothing about abortion, because it does not mention women. It was written by a group of all white and mostly wealthy men, who weren’t concerned with reproductive rights or any rights for women. Over the past century, the United States has rejected the worst of the founders’ beliefs and strived to respond to the needs of a changing society, either through constitutional amendments or modern interpretations of the text they created. So, why is abortion any different?

Overturning Roe is not about protecting human life; it is about control. In brazenly ignoring 50 years of its own precedent and the will of the American people, this draft ruling would destroy the legitimacy of the court. At best, abortion would only become inaccessible to those living in restricted areas. However, the more likely outcome would be an increase in maternal mortality and an influx of unwanted children. I truly hope that I am wrong. Everyone should have the right to decide what happens to their body. It’s that simple.

Abortion bans are not pro-life. They are pro-poverty, pro-inequality, and pro-cruelty.

General Interest Opinion Politics

Abigail Stiller Spotlight: A Day in the Life of a Nursing Intern

by Elise Miller, staff writer

Pictured in white is Abigail Stiller’s internship supervisor, Connie Becht. She works as the nursing administrator for obstetricians at Summa Health in Akron, Ohio. She’s also the director of the labor and delivery unit. Photo provided by Abigail Stiller.

MAY 2022 — Abigail Stiller, a nursing intern at Summa Health in Akron, is also a high school senior at Bio-Med Science Academy. Like many seniors, Stiller has an internship project that occupies half of her school day. During their junior year, students at Bio-Med are required to pursue either an internship, research project, or independent study by the end of the year. With her desire to work in the field of nursing and women’s health, Stiller secured her internship in January of her junior year. It all began with her connection to a family friend.

When considering internship opportunities, she decided to reach out to her former Sunday school teacher, Connie Becht. Since Becht was an obstetrician, a field Stiller was interested in, she contacted her without hesitation.

Becht didn’t have much hesitation either when accepting her as her intern. ​”I was excited,” said Becht, “I love precepting and my masters is in nursing education so I love teaching.”

As her former Sunday school teacher, Becht was also excited to see Stiller grow in a new way. She explained, “I got the ​privilege to watch her grow as a child and now it’s fun to see her mature into her adulthood and into her profession.”

Stiller is Becht’s first official intern, but as a floor nurse teaching nurse education Becht had many students who were college level in age. Though Stiller was the youngest, Becht recalled how “I often forgot that she was still in high school.”

Obstetricians specialize in caring for women and their babies during pregnancy and childbirth. Stiller sometimes works on the obstetrician floors at her internship.

“I have days where I’m going to be on the floor and days when I’m not,” she explained. Depending on this, her days can vary greatly in activities.

Most days not on the floor for Stiller begin once her classes at Bio-Med end during her open cores. “I get out [of Bio-Med] around 11:30 a.m., so I’m there around 11:45 a.m.”

Stiller explained that her tasks on these days range from data collection and analysis to working on spreadsheets. However, Stiller’s afternoons primarily consist of meetings.

Her days on the floor, on the other hand, can sometimes start as early as 4:30 a.m. In the delivery room, Stiller explained that “I’m what we call a helping hand.”

As a helping hand, she was taught how to take vitals of newborn babies, read contraction and fetal heart rate patterns, start IV bags, and many other procedures.

These days have also proven to be very long for Stiller. She explained that “There are some days I’ve pulled 16-hour days — some I’ve pulled 12 hours.” This is made possible when Bio-Med has “orange days,” which is when Stiller has no classes.

Stiller documented her night shifts as they went on. “I have pictures every hour [of my night shift] and you can slowly start to see the decline in my mental state,” said Stiller. Photo provided by Abigail Stiller.

On these days, Stiller acknowledged that “I have worked a night shift.” Since she is 17, this shift could possibly conflict with child labor laws in any other context. These shifts are not typical for most Bio-Med internships. However, the longer shifts were made possible by the volunteer service program she got her internship through.

The program leaves how many hours a student works up to them and requires them to sign a form removing their liability. “I do this to myself partly,” said Stiller.

She recalled one day when she worked a night shift that made for an almost 48-hour long day. “Unlike the other nurses who can sleep beforehand, I had school the entire day beforehand,” Stiller said.

She also had to do a house cleaning side job. She recalled how she slept in the back of her car before driving home that day.

Despite the long shifts and intensities that come with the position, Stiller enjoys it nonetheless. “It’s a magical sight when a baby is born,” she explained.

Becht noted that Stiller “does anything that is asked and never complains. Always has a smile on her face.”

She also loves the staff and community at her internship, solidifying her desire to pursue nursing as a career. “My plan is to do an undergrad in nursing, [and] get my bachelors in [registered nursing]. Then, I can go into medical school if I desire to become an [obstetrician],” she explained.

Working in this field has already left her with a multitude of stories, some of which she cannot share due to HIPAA laws.

“We had a case a couple months ago with a patient who had third-degree burns all over her body,” she began. The mother was 23 weeks pregnant, and without a burn unit, Stiller and others had to coordinate with a hospital that had one.

After having to go back and forth talking to doctors one-on-one, Stiller realized that “there’s a lot of problem solving I did not think would come with this job.”

Some features of the programmable baby include simulated seizures, grunting, and full movement of the head and body. Nurses are able to take the baby’s temperature and administer IVs as well. Photo provided by Stiller.

A more peculiar thing Stiller learned at her internship was that there are robot babies that cost $50,000, and her internship has one.

“We just got a new baby that’s a robot that is programmable,” said Stiller. At her internship, simulations are run with the baby to further nurse education on skills days.

Other simulations run on skills days include fire in the OR, where nurses run through a simulation of what it’s like if a fire were to break out in the operating room. These simulations help better prepare nurses for the real thing.

Aside from the educational lessons Stiller has learned in her field of study, she gathered that “you learn how to interpret people on a different level,” teaching her lessons in perception as well.

After Stiller’s time at her internship, she also gathered that she has thoroughly enjoyed her time there, as Becht expressed that “she is a joy to have.”


Tubbs: From Lacrosse To Teaching And Back

by Aiden Hills, staff writer

MAY 2022 —Mckenna Tubbs has gone through a long journey to get where she is now, starting from her career playing lacrosse, to her career teaching math, and picking up various lessons and hobbies along the way. She is currently the eighth-grade math teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy. She has a lot of hobbies and is very active outside of school, but still manages to create fun, interactive projects for her students. Tubbs is in her third year of teaching, having started her teaching career at Bio-Med in 2019 as the seventh-grade math teacher.  

Pictured is Tubbs holding the award she got at the Ohio Athletic Conference with the Mount Union Women’s Lacrosse team in May 2019. Her team won all four years she was there. Photo provided by Tubbs.

Tubbs first discovered that she wanted to be a teacher in her middle school years. She started her journey to become a teacher at the University of Mount Union (M.U.) in 2016. Tubbs decided to attend M.U. because she wanted to build a relationship with her professors, and she thought that would be harder in a larger setting compared to a smaller scale university. She also found Mount Union appealing because of its programs for teaching, and she could also play lacrosse.

Tubbs has played lacrosse since she was in the seventh grade and quickly discovered that it was something that she enjoyed doing, saying that she “instantly loved the sport.” Tubbs played the sport throughout high school, but as her senior year started coming to an end, she decided that she wanted to keep playing. That is when she found out that Mount Union was the best fit for her.

She looks back fondly on her college years, saying, “College was truly the best four years of my life, and I made some lifelong friendships while I was there.”

As she loved her college years, she also is appreciating her more recent years teaching within Bio-Med, saying that the non-traditional environment allowed her to have more creative control of her teaching.

“My favorite thing is the freedom to do what I want with my curriculum, and the support I get from admin,” she explained.

Tubbs enjoys doing fun projects that help her students grasp new ideas they are learning in class. In addition, she does projects that are meant to challenge students in ways that they aren’t usually challenged, like using math as a way to create art.

Tubbs has a four-year-old corgi named Millie. Here, Millie rests on top of a log during a hike on the Cuyahoga Valley National Park trail. Photo provided by Tubbs.

She said, “My favorite project that we have done is the Tessellation Installation that is now hanging up outside the bathrooms in the seventh and eighth grade wing.” This project was an integration with Miss Putman and combined geometry and art.”

Outside of school and teaching, Tubbs enjoys working out, hiking, running, and coaching the lacrosse team at Stow-Munroe Falls High School. She enjoys hiking around the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Tubbs does a lot inside and outside of the school, but ultimately in the future she wants to continue teaching middle school math. Sometime within the next two years, she plans to pursue her master’s degree.

She is excited for her teaching future, saying, “I look forward to growing as a teacher and finding new ways that teach students problem-solving and mathematical mindset in the classroom.”


Obsessing Over a Compulsion: OCD and the Reasons Behind the “Bizarre”

by Mallory Butcher, staff writer

MAY 2022 — One winter morning, students dragged snowy shoes through the hallway on their way to class. Tables and chairs stood against the walls. Suddenly, a student in the crowd slipped on the melting ice. They tumbled forward, bumping their left hip into a table. Dread surged, the feeling of imbalance knotting in their gut. They had to correct it. Despite the darkening patch of skin and the racing crowd, they pushed through the mass back towards the table. The student limped into class a few minutes late with two purple bruises, one on each hip, but momentarily free of an overwhelming weight.

This scenario accurately describes one person’s experience of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, most commonly abbreviated OCD, which is a mental disorder characterized by frequent, uncontrollable thoughts or tendencies that interfere with daily life. These urges raise anxiety in the person affected with the disorder and encourage them to engage in said urges to relieve stress.

Pictured above is a cabinet containing glass dishes organized in even rows. According to the Division Director of Adolescent Medicine at Akron Children’s Hospital Dr. Stephen Sondike, if a person with OCD has a compulsion to keep items such as cups in order, this method may be appealing to them. On the right side of the photo is an open bottle of prescribed medication. When medicated, OCD is typically treated with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI), a type of drug designed to block serotonin from being reabsorbed by neurons, thus lessening feelings of anxiety and depression. A common SSRI used for newly diagnosed individuals is Zoloft. The dosage ranges from 25 to 200 milligrams per pill capsule. Photo by Mallory Butcher, staff writer.

According to Dr. Randon Welton, the Margaret Clark Morgan Chair of Psychiatry and Professor of Psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University, “Two to three percent of Americans have OCD. Of that, half of them are diagnosed before they turn 20, and a quarter are diagnosed before they turn 14. There are no really major demographics or groups not affected, but men are more likely to show symptoms than women.”

Welton claimed that those with OCD are around ten times more likely to have a close relative with the same disorder. However, no biomarkers (molecules inside an individual that indicate the presence of a disease or other condition) have been located to confirm a genetic link.

Sophomore Mason Lewis has experienced many tendencies of OCD in addition to his family history, though he has never been officially diagnosed. He described one such compulsion: “Before sitting down, I have to brush off the seat with my hand or something. I normally Purell my hands multiple times a day. With my bag, I have to touch the straps multiple times to pick it up.”

He said, “I haven’t been to the doctor since I fully got into my OCD ‘phase.’ I know my mom has OCD. It was much worse when she was a teenager.”

Young adults are the most common group to show signs of OCD. Welton elaborated on this, noting that “Early on, many say that they didn’t realize their behavior is abnormal.”

Lewis didn’t recall behaviors he experienced at a young age, but he remembered, “starting to notice it through sixth-grade, and it’s just gotten worse over the years. I know the first tendency I had was I had to sit halfway off the seat, and that’s when I started to develop the tendency to brush off the seat. Then, I could sit on the seat fully.”

If someone with OCD does not complete a tendency or compulsion, Welton said that they experience intense stress and are unable to concentrate on any other tasks.

“If I don’t do those things, my brain doesn’t feel right,” Lewis explained. “It makes me think about it more like, ‘What if this happens? What if that happens?’ It kind of makes me do it after a little while.”

In contrast to the acclaimed experiences, public perception of OCD is often described as inaccurate.

“It seems bizarre,” Welton stated before elaborating. “OCD is oftentimes made fun of. It’s the typical joke of a person driving around a block and feeling like they hit someone while driving, so they get out and check. Even though they didn’t, they have to drive around the block five more times.”

Lewis agreed, describing common stereotypes: “They’re perfectionists. They need everything a certain way. Most people think of OCD as organized, having everything tidy, and stuff like that…. When people do something a certain way, they say, ‘Oh, it’s just something from my OCD.’”

Though equated with perfectionism, OCD has displayed itself to be very different. Lewis concluded, “OCD can be more things than just being a perfectionist. There are lots of tendencies that happen that don’t make you a perfectionist. You can’t control what tendencies you have.”

For more information on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, click here to read an article from the National Institute of Mental Health.

General Interest

Graduating With Honors

by McKenna Burchett, associate editor

When graduating with honors, students receive a double blue and white cord, and a sticker on their diploma. The honors cord is the only double cord. The STEM Honors Diploma sticker is silver, and the Academic Honors Diploma sticker is gold. Photo by McKenna Burchett, associate editor.

MAY 2022 — Although Bio-Med Science Academy students have the opportunity to earn an Academic Honors Diploma or a STEM Honors Diploma, many students are not sure if doing so is worth the effort.

Benjamin Morgan, a Bio-Med alumnus from the class of 2020 who earned an Academic Honors Diploma, is fully in support of students working toward the diplomas.

Morgan took a gap year after graduating high school, during which he wrote and published two articles. “One is in Dissent magazine, and it’s about the social gospel, and that movement during the early 20th century in the Great Plains. Then I wrote another piece for Z magazine, which was about the Occupy movement, like Occupy Wall Street,” he explained. “I worked with this couple named Staughton and Alice Lynd. These two, who are both in their 90s, have been big activists for coming up on 70 years. Staughton was a coordinator for the Mississippi Freedom Schools during the Civil Rights Movement and was a key player in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He did stuff with Students for Democratic Society, and was big in the anti-war movement. Then they moved to Ohio to do labor law.” Photo provided by Morgan.

“I would recommend that students [pursue an honors diploma], if for no reason other than that by fulfilling the requirements for an honors diploma, it gives you a breadth of education that, even if you’re not going to continue your education after high school, is important to have that broad basic knowledge provided by these courses,” he said.

Currently, Morgan is a history major attending Vassar College, a private liberal arts school located in Poughkeepsie, New York. He explained how he views academics, both in high school, and in college, saying, “I really try to do what I can do to be both an involved student and be engaged in scholastic endeavors, and also to be a member of the broader community.”

Morgan decided to pursue an Academic Honors Diploma because of this drive. “In terms of the honors diploma, I feel like for me, though it didn’t go into my college application, I was really happy to have received it,” he elaborated.

Irene Scherer is a sophomore who is currently working towards earning an Academic Honors Diploma as well. They were inspired to pursue an honors diploma after hearing about it from a friend.

“[My friend] was like, ‘these are all the requirements,’ and I was like, ‘I have most of those. I could do that, totally,’” they said. “I have to take a language class, still, and I think that’s going to be the hardest part, but overall it’s been pretty easy. It’s been just about what I’ve already been doing and CCP classes that I’ve already done.”

Scherer concluded, “If you’re just doing the basic classes you have to do, then I feel like doing an honors diploma is a lot of extra work. But if you’re already doing CCP classes and have the time to pursue it, then I think it’s a good idea.”

Cons of the Honors Diploma

The only complaint Morgan had about the honors diploma requirements was which courses were offered in-house. He specifically believed there should be more history courses. “Of course I’m biased, but there were only two in-person history classes, and a third that was all online. I understand that there were staffing shortages and a lack of space in which to teach it, but I believe that history is one of the most important subjects that a student can learn as it is crucial for a person living within a society to have a good sense of history,” he said. “It is one of the most fundamental subjects and it is the one that is so often cut because it forces people to look at their own past, which may make them critical of the way things are. But that’s just me coming at it as a historian.”

As of this year, a third history course was added in-person, integrated with Ms. Whitney Mihalik’s College, Career, and Finance course.  

According to statistics provided by Hammond, the majority of students graduate with Bio-Med’s standard diploma. However, until the Class of 2019, the majority of students were graduating with an honors diploma. This corresponded with the shift in the courses offered at Bio-Med. Originally, Bio-Med offered in-house Mandarin Chinese and Spanish courses, though in 2014, these were replaced with Rosetta Stone’s online instruction. In 2019, this option was removed, so students can now only take foreign language classes through CCP. Morgan was a part of the last class that was offered foreign language through Rosetta Stone. The Class of 2016 did not have the option to graduate with STEM Honors, as it did not exist yet. Photo by McKenna Burchett.

Skyler Earl is a junior who initially wanted to earn an Academic Honors Diploma, but ultimately decided against it. “I was told they don’t help you get into college, and the requirements for them just seemed like a lot of work for a high school student, on top of their regular high school stuff,” she said. “Because doing college out of school is tough sometimes, I feel like the emotional sacrifice wouldn’t make up for the extra ribbon.”

Miss Stephanie Hammond, the guidance counselor for grades 10 through 12, addressed this concern, saying, “I don’t want to take away from the students who do earn it, because it is additional work. But as far as the college process, it has absolutely no bearing on the college process. You’ve already applied, and quite honestly, you’ve already paid your deposit. May 1 is a lot of school’s deadline to accept your seat to wherever you want to go, so you have to commit by May, and you don’t graduate until later.”

Though Earl is enrolled in CCP courses, she is not doing so for the honors diploma.

“I took Spanish I, and I’m taking Spanish II. I’m probably looking at [attending Kent State], so I know the credits will transfer, and I might need a foreign language [credit in the future],” she explained.

Scherer thought finding which CCP classes were needed for the honors diploma was unclear. “I don’t like how vague it is. Because there’s not anywhere that’s outlining exactly what you need and how to get it,” she elaborated. “It’s just very hard to find [information].”

How to Earn an Honors Diploma

The Academic Honors Diploma requires all credits of the minimum graduation requirements, as well as an additional social studies credit, three credits of one foreign language or two credits of two different languages, a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and an ACT score of at least 27 or an SAT score of at least 1280. Of the additional requirements, a student must meet all but one of them.

Any credits required for a diploma that Bio-Med does not offer must be taken through College Credit Plus (CCP). Bio-Med offers all classes except for foreign language (minus Spanish III, which is taught by Christina Barnard), and a fourth social studies course. Electives in STEM and the fifth laboratory science credit can be earned through the senior elective courses. The Class of 2024 and onward have the option to take a second math course during their junior year. This is to allow students to be able to take the calculus course their senior year, though it also grants them a fifth math credit.

The STEM Honors Diploma has the same requirements as Bio-Med’s minimum graduation requirements, with an additional mathematics credit, an additional laboratory science credit, two STEM elective credits, three units of one foreign language or two units each of two different languages, a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and an ACT score of at least 27 or an SAT score of at least 1280. Of the additional requirements, a student must meet all but one of them. Photo by McKenna Burchett, associate editor. 

The Ohio Department of Education lists the six types of honors diplomas: the Academic Honors Diploma, the International Baccalaureate Honors Diploma, the Career Tech Honors Diploma, the STEM Honors Diploma, the Arts Honors Diploma, and the Social Science and Civic Engagement Honors Diploma. The latter five were introduced in 2017.

Hammond described the reasoning behind why Bio-Med only allows students to earn two of the six honors diplomas. “It is not possible to earn [all of the diplomas at Bio-Med]. We had an Academic Honors Diploma, then [Ohio] added all of these extras, and STEM was one of them,” she explained. “That’s why we now have those two that we focus on, because our students can earn a STEM Honors Diploma and Academic Honors. [For] the others, there’s just so many things… like CCP, credits, classes [offered]. It’s just not feasible.”

Hammond concluded, saying, “I think [honors diplomas are] great. I do think they’re beneficial, but I would hate for students to put themselves in a situation where they’ve taken on more than they can handle, so I think it’s really about ‘what can that student do?’ But [students should] also know that earning their degree [is] no small feat, especially as a Bio-Med student.”


The Hive: Recognized by OSMA

by McKenna Burchett, associate editor

In their spare time, The Hive students went on an informal tour of Kent State’s campus, guided by their adviser, Ms. Jenna Bates. Pictured from left to right are (back) Randall Hatfield, Daniel Swartz (who accompanied The Hive staff), Jesse Mitchell, Logan Cook, Cadence Gutman, Meadow Sandy, (front) Alex Levy, Camryn Myrla, Avery Livezey, Mallory Butcher, McKenna Burchett, Havann Brown, and Alyssa Cocchiola. Photo provided by Jenna Bates.

MAY 2022 — Bio-Med Science Academy’s newspaper, The Hive, won eight awards at the Ohio Scholastic Media Association (OSMA) 2022 state conference. The conference was held April 22 at the Kent State main campus, where The Hive members each attended four informational sessions, followed by a banquet and awards ceremony. The Hive submitted 11 articles in six categories.

Each category of awards had three tiers: Superior Rating, Excellent Rating, and Honorable Mention. All articles submitted received a feedback page from OSMA.

Jesse Mitchell, a sophomore staff writer, won a Superior award for his article, “A Change in Class Time Teaches Students Valuable Lessons,” submitted in the general feature category.

Mitchell recalled his experience winning the award.

“I see my name, and I’m like, ‘Is that real?’ I forgot how to walk…. It was a very happy and exciting moment,” Mitchell said. “Going into it, I didn’t realize there’d be that many categories, so I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to win.[It’s my] first year [in newspaper].’ But then they announced it was like, 60 categories, so I thought, ‘There’s gotta be a way I won something.’”

Mitchell struggled with writing the article. “It was the fourth article I ever did. This topic was about a bigger issue…. This was like my first big break, and it was kind of overwhelming…. There were a lot of different personalities and perspectives going on.”

He also mentioned, “I didn’t think I’d done anything quality, or had stood out to me, so I guess I didn’t expect to see it, but when I did, I felt proud of it.”

In contrast, Mallory Butcher, a sophomore and next year’s associate editor for The Hive, felt more intimidated by the size of the competition. Butcher won an Excellent Rating on her news feature, “The Teacher and Substitute Shortage: More Education Problems Revealed by the Pandemic.”

“I didn’t know how big OSMA was going to me. I was thinking it was going to be smaller, so I thought, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll probably win. [It’s] basically a participation kind of thing.’ But then when some of the bigger schools came in, I was like ‘Oh, I’d be happy with a checkmark,’” she said. Articles that did not win anything, but were still reviewed by OSMA, received a certificate with a check mark.

Butcher felt similarly about winning, saying, “I felt good about it. I felt like, as much effort that went into the article — it wasn’t just me, it was all the editors who had touched the [article] — I feel like we earned [the award].”

Despite this, Butcher felt as if she shouldn’t have been the only one to win something, saying, “It feels like a bit of imposter syndrome in a way, like, ‘I wrote that,’ but at the same time, [it wasn’t all me].”

Cadence Gutman, a freshman staff writer, appreciated the constructive criticism that came with her excellent rating on her general feature, “Gender Neutral Bathrooms.”

“It was really helpful. I mean, one of the things with the transitions, I’d already [fixed],” she said. “I don’t want to keep doing the wrong thing, because that’d be so, so sad. It was nice to see people giving me this honest feedback, like they actually cared about what I was writing and helping me improve as a writer.”

Gutman was also surprised by seeing the variety of personalities in other schools’ journalism groups.

“I don’t want to say it’s a culture shock, because it’s not a culture necessarily, but it was a social shock,” she said. “I kind of forget sometimes that a lot of schools have journalism groups…. I’m so used to being in my own little newspaper bubble.”

Mitchell was particularly proud of his fellow writers, saying, “I think the real joy for me was when they moved on to the Excellent category and Cadence [Gutman] had won, so I went back and hugged her.” He continued, “It was less, ‘I did something great,’ but ‘We did something great.’ This is what The Hive’s best can look like.”

OSMA offered four sessions of conferences, discussing topics ranging from diversity in media, to improving as an editor. “I loved the conferences. It was a lot of fun…. Speaking with people in the field, especially those relating to journalism programs, it was really nice. I especially enjoyed the interview ones, like ‘how to do better interviews,’ or ‘how to connect with people,’” Mitchell said. Photo provided by McKenna Burchett.

Additionally, Havann Brown, the editor-in-chief, won an Excellent rating on her commentary, “Critical Race Theory Is Not The Enemy,” as well as Honorable Mentions for her news feature, “Striketober Spills Over Into November,” and her personality profile, “Canfora Discusses Her Experience on May 4, 1970.”

Randall Hatfield, a junior, won an Honorable Mention for his personality profile, “Bio-Med Senior Gains Experience in Theater.” Another Honorable Mention was won by Avery Livezey, a sophomore, for her in-depth reporting article, “Growing Up Gen Z Part One: Helicopter Parents and Why Kids are Growing Up More Slowly Than Ever.”


Can Men Be Feminists?

by Meadow Sandy, staff writer

MAY 2022 – There are many misconceptions about the definition of feminism and what feminists are. Misconceptions include the ideas that feminists hate men, feminism kills traditional femininity, and only women can be feminists.

Bio-Med’s Feminist Club played a game to see where people stood on certain topics. During this game, there are seven lines (in this case chairs) that mark a neutral point in the middle, and on the right, it marks slightly disagree, disagree, and strongly disagree. On the left side of the neutral point, it marks slightly agree, agree, and strongly agree. Participants are given a statement like “Can men be feminists?” and will move to one of the points that corresponds to their opinions. Students are then encouraged to explain their stance and spark discussion. Photo provided by Newspaper and Feminist Club adviser Ms. Jenna Bates.

Cheryl Tawney-Lallemand, a junior at Bio-Med Science Academy and member of its Feminist Club, said, “I would change how when people hear the word ‘feminism,’ they think it’s a bad thing and ‘all men should die.’” She continued, “Most feminists don’t think like that; they want equality in society and in the workplace for all genders and races.”

The traditional definition of a feminist is someone who supports equal rights for women, but over the years, feminism has branched out to help fight for equal rights for all. Robert Greenwood, a senior in Feminist Club, shared his opinion, saying, “I believe that anyone is capable of being a feminist. Feminism is the advocacy for rights for everyone.” He continued, “I would love if more attention was brought to male feminists. If men would educate themselves on what a feminist is by definition, I feel like there would be less pushback on feminism as a whole.”

Ms. Heidi Hisrich, the ninth-grade science instructor stated, “I think maybe feminism should be taught more explicitly.  I can distinctly remember when my high school history teacher asked students to stand up if they were feminists. Only two students stood up. Then he said, ‘Feminism is the idea that men and women should have equal rights. Now stand up if you are a feminist.’  Nearly the whole class stood up. I think it was a memorable way to help us know what feminism is and it certainly stuck with me!”

Feminism aims to change the patriarchal power structure in society, and this can make it a little harder for men to identify as feminists.

“In my lifetime, many more women entered the workplace, but women still only earn about 80% of what men earn, even when they have the same job,” said Mr. Brian McDonald, the ninth-grade English Language Arts Instructor. “I think this should remain a woman-centric topic. But men can certainly be allies within the fight toward more equality.”

 Inhersight.com stated how “…feminist men need to do more — and different — work both internally and collaboratively in order to advance feminist ideals in support.” However, not all people think this way, as some have different views on the feminist movement.

“Feminism is a group of mostly women that think some things in society are unfair. Most of those issues are unfair but others are illegitimate,” stated a ninth-grade student who wished to remain anonymous. “I think that they [feminists] should take a look at the problems that they say they have and look at more facts about it.”

USA Today stated that only about 40 percent of men think the word “feminist” describes them. About 9 percent of them say it describes them very well, and the other 31 percent say that it describes them somewhat well.

“Some people think that women can’t be sexist and only men can be, but that’s just not true. And I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed,” stated the ninth-grader, “Overall I think that men can be feminists if it’s the right guy… I think that it depends on who it is. If it’s someone more masculine then no, I don’t think men could be [feminists.]” The anonymous student continued, “One problem with the movement is the constant fear of getting called sexist. Almost every time a guy tries to talk about a bad thing with feminism, they get called a sexist.”

These perceptions are a frequent topic at Bio-Med Science Academy’s Feminist Club strives to provide students interested in feminism a safe place to share and discuss feminism and feminist issues. It is open to all students and currently consists of about 10 students ranging from freshmen to seniors.

Greenwood talked about his experience in Feminist Club over the past three years.

“My experience in Feminist Club has been very warm and inviting while sharing my opinions and ideas with different people. It’s a great place to educate yourself while in a safe environment.”

Greenwood joined Feminist Club during his sophomore year. “What made me join the Feminist Club was my family group leader, Ms. Bates, who was always so welcoming to me, and a fellow [student] Havann Brown, also convinced me to go to the club on a regular basis. Other than that, just my general interest in rights and advocacy made me want to go,” Greenwood stated.

In the past, Feminist Club has discussed if men could be included in the movement. During meetings, members have also talked about how the patriarchy imposes stereotypes on men.

Tawney-Lallemand concluded, “I think men can be feminist because many can share an opinion. Just because it’s a man doesn’t mean we should exclude them from sharing similar ideas.” She continued, “People think feminism is only for women when anyone can be a feminist.”

General Interest

Backstage Stories, A Kadence Papantonakis Spotlight

by Jesse Mitchell, staff writer

MAY 2022 – The Trumbull New Theater in Niles, Ohio, performed a production of “Our Town” by playwright Thornton Wilder March 11-27. The play featured a wide variety of cast, including five of Bio-Med Science Academy’s students and a staff member. One of those cast members was sophomore, Kadence Papantonakis, who had rehearsed for two months to play one of the lead roles, the character Emily. 

Pictured is Trumbull New Theater’s cast for its production of “Our Town.” Papantonakis (fourth from the right in the back row) performed in this small cast, after being cast in the role of Emily. Photo provided by Papantonakis.

Papantonakis has always been involved in the theatrical arts, and especially enjoys acting. 

“The basics of theater is you just act, you sing, and dance,” Papantonakis said. 

Ever since Papantonakis was a little kid, she was drawn to the world of theater. She first got a taste of it when she did a skit challenge through the organization Destination Imagination. 

According to its Facebook page, Destination Imagination is “an educational nonprofit that has been a leader in project-based learning for more than 20 years.” The organization creates STEM-based challenges open to interpretation for students to help them foster creativity and gain real-world skills. 

For Papantonakis, she started by doing an eight-minute skit for a Destination Imagination Challenge, where she created, set up, and performed in her own work.  Papantonakis did this challenge with fellow Bio-Med student Logan Cook, who was also her co-star in “Our Town.”

Papantonakis has been involved in other productions, such as “Something Rotten!” by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick, where she played as part of the ensemble; “Office Hour,”  by Julia Cho, where she worked backstage for the play.

Having been so involved in different plays, she has worked with many different people and directors, which has been challenging for her. 

“You have to be able to really adapt,” said Papantonakis. Some directors she’s worked with were great, while others she described as “not so put together.”

Papantonakis needed to grow as a person and as a performer to always bring her best to whatever production she is doing. “You have many directors, and they might tell you to do something, and change how you act. But when you act, it’s you. Yeah it’s a character, but it’s your own way of acting,” Papantonakis said. She always wanted to stay true to herself and use her skills as a performer to carry out her role.

Papantonakis received help developing her skills and understanding how to be the best actress she can be from a program called Destination Broadway, which is a week-long program that provides students with the opportunity to work with Broadway professionals in acting, singing, and dancing classes. Stemming from that, she was able to make connections with many of the people she has worked with, saying, “even now, I would be able to email them or text them if I have any questions about anything.”

Papantonakis has little formal training although she has taken some set design, directing, and acting classes to help her grow as a performer. To her, acting is her strong suit but she highlighted she had a strong ability to pick up choreography fast. 

Papantonakis performed in the play “Something Rotten,” Nov. 1 through Nov. 21. Papantonakis’s role in this play was her first acting role on stage as she got to be a part of Trumbull New Theater’s large cast for the play. Photo provided by Papantonakis.

The skills she has picked up through her work in the theatrical arts have not only helped her in life, but also in her academics. 

“Using theatrical things has definitely helped me with ‘choose your own projects’ and those kinds of things,” said Papotanakis. 

She highlighted a current English Language Arts Project she is working on where she built a set and was able to pull from her set design knowledge and experience. Overall, Papantonakis has felt that having experience with this field has “really helped me on my projects at school,” she said. 

Being at Bio-Med has also helped her to grow her skills in theater. Papantonakis has been at Bio-Med for five years, starting as a sixth-grader. For her, Bio-Med and its collaborative learning has “definitely taught me how to work with other people more than just being there and thinking I’m working. I actually take the effort to get to know people,” she said. She described this as being a crucial part of the acting field as without connections, “you really won’t go anywhere.”

Papantonakis has found it challenging at times to make those connections, saying, “the struggle is being nice to everyone.” She continued, “When you have somebody that, say, you audition for the same role, and somebody gets the role, it’s really hard to be nice to them, when you worked hard to get something and you didn’t end up getting it.”

Additionally, she found it difficult to work with such a large variety of people. For the musical “Something Rotten!,” she worked with more than 40 people, ranging from those “ as little as three years old, and to adults that were as old as I think 70,” she said. 

Despite these challenges, Papantonakis has never gotten discouraged by those struggles and was excited to recently play Emily in ”Our Town,” which was the first lead role she ever had. 

Before her last performance of the play, she felt scared. 

“Just knowing I will never play Emily again is scary because it was my first, lead role,” said Papantonakis. Looking back, she remembered the opening performance of “Our Town,” when she and Cook, “just gave each other a hug and it was probably one of the best moments because we realized that we actually did it, like made it through the first night.”

Although Papantonakis was sad to move on, she was happily looking forward to her role in her next play. She is playing the character Robin, an errand boy, in William Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” This premiered May 6 at Trumbull New Theater. 

Papantonakis never expected to get her big break into acting through her various plays and productions. 

Acting is something Papantonakis has considered turning into a career. “I never really took in the fact that theatrical arts would be a leeway into going professional with acting and stuff,” she said. 

 “Acting was one of the big things I was looking at. It’s really hard to look into theater and acting and that kind of stuff as a long term, even though it’s something that I really, really enjoy,” she said. Right now, Papantonakis plans to continue doing plays and living out her dream, with the possibility she might minor in acting in college since she could make money in directing or acting. 

Papantonakis has been thankful for the roles and productions she has been a part of, and is thankful most for her family and friends within the acting community, as they have always supported her, sent her auditions, and believed in her. She appreciates how supportive everyone has been and is excited for every opportunity she can get to perform.

Trumbull New Theater’s production of “Merry Wives of Windsor,”  will be performed May 6-22. Visit the company’s website for more information. 


Why Are There No AP Classes at Bio-Med?

by Alexandra Levy, staff writer

MAY 2022 — Despite student preference, Bio-Med Science Academy has no plans to offer Advanced Placement (AP) classes for the 2022-2023 school year.

AP preparation books are an additional resource made for students to prepare for the tests outside of class. There are many different books and book vendors available, however, the official books are produced by the College Board and are available nationwide. Photo by Alexandra Levy, staff writer.

AP classes are a national program for high school students governed by the College Board. The classes serve as an introduction to college-level material for high school students and allow students to earn college credits before graduating if they score high enough on the AP exam.

Mrs. Whitney Mihalik, the junior history and college career and civics teacher at Bio-Med, taught AP U.S. History as well as AP European History at Benedictine High School in Cleveland for three years. Mihalik additionally took AP classes herself while in high school.

“An AP class is a deep-dive into content and critical analysis. It is not a class for students who do not know the background. It is collegiate level content, and it is attentive. It is for students who want to excel in that subject matter,” said Mihalik.

The classes prepare students for the AP tests. The student’s score on the test determines whether they have displayed an understanding of the college-level content and if the student will receive college credit for the course, depending on the college’s requirements.

 “AP classes do offer more flexibility for educators. I personally am trained as a historian as opposed to an educator, so that flexibility allowed me to utilize my skills in teaching AP students,” explained Mihalik. “The teaching style for AP is often a lecture, and doesn’t help you learn history. There is also a lot of memorization, but I feel like now, a lot of people underestimate the importance of memorization in education, but it can make a huge difference.”

Bio-Med currently does not offer AP classes to students but reminds them that the option to take the test without the preparation of the class is available. Students can register for the tests on the official College Board website. When signing up for the test, the website will additionally direct students to the nearest test center.

Chief administrative officer Mrs. Stephanie Lammlein commented, “Since the beginning of developing the academy, we have not and have no plans to adopt AP courses. AP courses have a strict curriculum that doesn’t align with the pillars, mission, and vision of the academy.”

However, many students would appreciate the opportunity to take an advanced-level class and earn college credit within school.

Sophomore Irenne Scherer feels as though AP classes might take them to a greater level of education.

“I personally feel like I would pay more attention if the classes were more challenging, and I had to pay attention. I think it would benefit other students in similar ways, and some people might even be more motivated in those higher-pressure situations,” said Scherer.

Mihalik agreed that many students could benefit from both the curriculum of an AP class and the learning style that students need for the test. A study from the College Board showed that, on average, AP students had a 78.4 percent chance of attending a four-year college program after high school, while non-AP students had an average 63.4 percent chance of attending a four-year college program.

“I think students that put in the work benefit from AP classes. In my experience, students who did all of their reading and completed all their work, left the class with a better education of history and left  as better students. You have to go in-depth in order to prepare for the test. I didn’t have all the information when I took the test in high school, but it still prepared me for learning history. I would even go as far as to encourage the class for students not interested in college. It’s how the teaching method prepares you for learning, not the actual material,” affirmed Mihalik.

Scherer claimed that they are interested in the aforementioned learning style of AP classes and would take an AP class if it was offered at Bio-Med.

“I would take it, because I think that it is better for me to take college courses in school instead of just taking easy high school classes or college classes online,” said Scherer. “I still take college classes online, but for me, I succeed more from learning in-person, so I would want to prepare for the test in a class instead of on my own online.”

Mihalik suggested how Bio-Med could integrate AP classes into the existing curriculum: “I think Bio-Med would benefit from AP classes, especially in humanities. We offer very different types of STEM classes, but I think that in terms of humanities, AP classes would prepare students for college in a way their current classes aren’t.”

Senior Kelsea Cooper disagreed and expressed she felt that the addition of an AP class into Bio-Med is unnecessary because Bio-Med offers different opportunities.

“I think some of the courses offered at Bio-Med are already challenging in their own ways but, I think it could have been nice to be offered some more challenging AP courses,” said Cooper. “However, Bio-Med’s model of learning and schedule doesn’t necessarily fit with a ton of AP classes.”

Ms. Jenna Bates, the eleventh grade English teacher at Bio-Med, taught AP Literature and Composition at Coventry High School in Akron for 13 years and agreed with Mihalik that AP classes might benefit Bio-Med students.

“I think Bio-Med students could benefit from AP and that is the one continuous complaint that I have heard throughout my career here, but I understand what that would entail for Bio-Med and the strain that it puts on a lot of the in-place systems. There are benefits and drawbacks,” said Bates.

Additionally, Bates explained that AP classes have a greater amount of work than some Bio-Med classes because they are just different learning environments.

“AP classes usually were smaller classes, so I got to know the students a lot better [than some of my non-AP students] and we were able to do a deeper-dive into subject matter. We created a collaborative environment,” observed Bates. “Students did two to three times the amount of work in AP when compared to Bio-Med students. [The students] probably read 15 to 20 books a year as opposed to four to five books a year at Bio-Med.”

Bates also explained that both AP classes and a normal Bio-Med class each have strengths and weaknesses.

“There are things I do at Bio-Med that I wouldn’t do in an AP class. Here I can step away from the focus on standardized testing and focus on interesting projects,” she said. “That being said, one of the reasons I’m an English teacher today is because I took two years of AP English in high school myself.”

Sophomore Chemistry teacher Ms. Catherine Panchyshyn took multiple AP classes throughout her high school career, including AP Government, AP European History, AP Literature, AP Language, AP American Studies, AP Calculus, and AP Art History. She weighed in on how she feels AP classes could impact Bio-Med students.

“It gives a differentiated, secondary level for students looking for a challenge,” added Panchyshyn. “I don’t know if my experience in AP classes helped me to be a better teacher, but it did help me be a better student when I got to college.”

Jimmy Schindewolf (Picture in the center and wearing yellow shirt) and his AP Literature and Composition class are pictured outside of Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens on October 21, 2015. The trip was organized by Bates in order to help students get a better understanding of the lives of people and characters in the Victorian era. Photo provided by Ms. Jenna Bates.

Jimmy Schindewolf is a student at Kent State University who took AP Literature and Composition with Bates while he was attending Coventry High School. Schindewolf feels as though the class was not only good for college credit, but also helped him to become a better student and writer because of the deep-dive into content.

“I think they are incredibly beneficial, in more ways than one. On top of having the potential to earn college credit through AP exams, students get to dive deeper into the subjects they are learning about and get to develop and hone their skills and understandings surrounding the topic of a given course,” he said.

Schindewolf also credited his AP class to his current education.

“If I hadn’t taken AP Literature and Composition, I don’t think I would have been nearly as successful in writing papers for my college classes. And now with the skills I learned back in that class, I am working on my master’s degree at Kent State in Literature and Writing!” exclaimed Schindewolf.

Justin Taylor is a graduate of political science from Kent State University and a graduate of Coventry High School who also took AP Literature and Composition with Bates as well as AP Government and AP Calculus. Like Schindewolf, Taylor credited the decision of his college major to his high school AP classes.

“My experience with these courses was almost exclusively positive. I especially enjoyed AP English as the course led me through more than a dozen of some of the greatest works in modern literature. AP Government ended up inspiring me to pursue the subject in college,” said Taylor.

Taylor expressed how taking an AP class helped him feel not only motivated, but also prepared for learning.

“I think students benefit greatly from taking AP courses,” he said. “I  felt more motivated to learn in AP classes because there’s a built-in expectation that these courses build that students are at the top of their game. If a student plans to go to college, AP classes are hugely beneficial not just because of the potential to earn college credits with the exams at the end of the year, but I felt that these courses were also the only ones that adequately prepared me in terms of knowledge and writing strategies.”

Taylor recommended AP classes for any student who is prepared to make the commitment to the learning experience of the class, even if that student doesn’t wish to pursue higher education.

“Even if a student decides not to go to college, skills learned in AP courses help with critical thinking, managing multiple tasks at once, and finding a love for learning that will go with the student regardless of their career path,” commented Taylor. “Regardless of career path or college, or no college at all, these classes expose you to information that would not be experienced in standard high school classes and learning is always good, even if it doesn’t apply to your future plans.”

Mary Claire Shaffer is a graduate of Kent State University who majored in Political Science and minored in Women’s Studies and took AP English with Bates and AP Government. She credits her time in AP Government for helping her decide her college major.

“There was a big difference between an AP class and a regular class. The AP classes were more collaborative and went into greater detail. Ms. Bates always valued our opinions and helped us to make our own educated opinions,” said Shaffer. “AP classes prepared me for college more than any of my other classes. As a student I learned what it means to write a good paper and how to make a good analysis. It also motivated me to learn more and form more well-rounded opinions.”

Shaffer also expressed how AP classes gave her an outlet to her identity as a politically-active feminist in society.

“I never had a word to identify myself; Ms. Bates and my AP classes helped me to form my identity as a person and as a feminist,” said Shaffer. “AP classes helped me to lay the foundation of my identity and the reasons behind my beliefs. So much of the information from feminism and feminist critque that really changed my world and my identity and how I see myself and I absorb content today.”

Shaffer elaborated that AP classes helped her to develop into the adult she is today.

“Ms. Bates used to tell us to ‘always be informed, no matter what setting you are in,’” said Shaffer, “AP classes helped me and my classmates academically and we took education seriously. But learning how to be informed in different environments was the jumpstart of making students into well-rounded young adults in the world.”

Mrs. Jill Balderson is an AP Studio Art, AP 2D Art, and AP 3D Art teacher at Glenoak High School, who also believes that AP classes prepare students for their futures after high school graduation.

“My district supports AP and encourages students to follow accelerated pathways,” said Balderson. “If schools offer honors, CCP (College Credit Plus)  or IB (International Baccalaureate) courses, there should also be AP offered, too. I’m sure staffing can be difficult depending on the size of the district.”

Balderson additionally explained that AP classes do require a more academically rigorous learning process, but that the effects that the classes have on students benefit them in the future.

“The pacing is faster and includes work completed during the summer and the expectations are higher as well,” commented Balderson. “I believe AP courses prepare students for college classes, the classes also can grant high school students a chance to earn college credit.”

Mihalik concluded, “It’s not up to me, because I can’t determine the curriculum. Technically, students can take the test without taking the class, but AP is a nationally and internationally recognized program. The benefits of a widely known program could help Bio-Med students in their transition into their future education and position in the workforce. If students are interested in AP in Bio-Med, they should do their own research and lobby it with the administration to show that there is a student interest in taking those classes.”


The Ins and Outs of Otus: How Are Grades Calculated at Bio-Med Science Academy?

by‌ ‌Alyssa‌ ‌Cocchiola,‌ ‌associate‌ ‌editor‌ ‌ ‌

 MARCH 2022‌ ‌—‌ After Bio-Med Science Academy began using Otus — a new learning management system (LMS) — this school year, many students have expressed confusion about how their grades are calculated. Otus uses a standard-based grading system, where projects are broken down into several learning objectives (LOs), to assess students. These LOs are then graded individually based on a decaying average system, where more emphasis is placed on a student’s more recent attempts compared to the previous ones.

“I don’t know how [the grading calculation] works, so I just know when my grade goes down that it goes down, and I’m like, ‘what’s going on?’” admitted Erika Bentley, a junior at Bio-Med.

Pictured above is an image depicting what a student’s gradebook looks like on Otus. The total grade is displayed on the top, while the overall grades for the LOs are displayed at the bottom. Photo provided by the Otus control center.

A student’s total grade in a class is calculated by averaging out all of the grades for each learning outcome. For Bio-Med, these grades will be one of the following, from highest to lowest: exceeds mastery, mastery, developing mastery, not yet mastered, or no evidence of mastery.

“The total grade is calculated using average regardless of which mastery setting is being used in the gradebook,” explained Brooke Fodor, an Otus administrator, on the Otus control center.

As for the learning outcomes themselves, this is calculated by a decaying average system. In an LO, the grade of the most recent assignment accounts for 65 percent of the entire grade. All of the previous attempts combined only account for 35 percent of the grade.

For example, if a student completes three projects that each include the LO of “professionalism,” and the student receives an exceeds mastery on the first two attempts and a mastery on the most recent attempt, the final grade for “professionalism” would be a mastery, as the most recent grade would account for 65 percent of the overall one.

The “professionalism” learning outcome, which was calculated as a mastery overall, would then be averaged out with the overall grade for all the other LOs. Decaying average would only be used for the individual LOs and not for the final grade calculation for that course.

The “most recent grade” is determined by the grade with the most recent due date; the order in which the assignments are graded does not impact this. The only time where the date submitted and date graded make a difference is if the grade does not have a due date. In that case, the assignment that is graded the most recently accounts for the 65 percent.

Bio-Med first began to use the decaying average system during the 2016-17 school year with the use of Canvas, the school’s previous learning management system (LMS). This year, when switching to Otus, the same grading system was kept.

Pictured above is a grade calculation for an individual learning outcome. With Otus, schools can select how their students are assessed through mastery settings. They can choose from mean, mode, most recent, highest, and decaying average. Photo provided by Otus help center.

Christopher Hull, the co-founder and chief product officer of Otus, and Monica Burke, the senior client success specialist at Otus, elaborated on how the decaying average system worked.

“Decaying average is a type of mastery level calculation for standard-based grading that puts more weight on the most recent score. The decaying average formula recognizes that the most recent score is more representative of the student’s current mastery level and thus puts more weight on that score (as opposed to a straight average that counts the student’s first work and most recent work as equally important). On the other hand, it also recognizes that past work might be relevant; it is still part of the whole picture (as opposed to the Most Recent formula which only counts the most recent score),” they wrote in a statement to the Hive.

When adding decaying average as an option, the Otus team worked together with several standard-based grading thought leaders and school districts to seek out the most commonly desired filters.

Hull and Burke noted, “Otus did not, nor did I, create the Decaying Average method. Decaying Average is a common method for educators to calculate a student’s performance on a specific skill over time.”

As defined by MasteryConnect, the decay rate for the formula for decaying average must fall between 50 to 100 percent. This way, the most recent grade accounts for at least over 50 percent of the entire grade. In most instances, the default number mastery settings offer is 65 percent.

Pictured above is a graphic that showcases how different mastery settings would calculate a student’s final grade in a learning objective. Each attempt is correlated with a number, with one being the lowest and four being the highest. The Otus website provides more insight on how the mastery grades are calculated and converted to traditional letter grades. Photo provided by the Otus website.

Hull and Burke explained that for Otus, they used the most common formula numbers, which were 65 and 35 percent. However, they noted that on their roadmap, which is “full of possible ideas we consider building,” is an item that allows for custom values to be entered for this calculation.

For Bio-Med’s purposes, the decaying average was selected due to its compatibility with the mastery system, which emphasizes the application of content and student’s growth as opposed to memorization. Mrs. Stephanie Lammlein, the Chief Administrative Officer at Bio-Med, discussed the reasoning behind using this mastery setting to calculate students’ grades.

“What I really like is the [grading calculation] that looks at the last thing — the very last thing you ever do, and that is that solid point — but that doesn’t show the whole story of your mastery grade progression. Years ago, when we were having this conversation as a staff, decaying average shows us the picture of your learning journey, but it allows you room for failure,” she said.

Lammlein noted that if Bio-Med used a more traditional grading system, mistakes that students made at the beginning of the year would hold the same weight as their recent assignments where those mistakes were corrected.

“That really holds down any hard work you do in the forward, and that’s not what mastery is about,” she explained. “Mastery is about allowing kids room for failure at the front so that they learn and grow. Decaying average makes those ‘areas’ that you might have struggled less heavy. It still shows that you were on this journey, so it still captures some of that, but it doesn’t hold it so tightly that you will never ever be able to show and demonstrate what you really know in that whole picture.”

Above is a graphic provided by Hull and Burke to better explain how standard-based grading is implemented through Otus. Bio-Med uses this system to assess knowledge on LOs as opposed to an overall grade. Hull and Burke explained the benefits of using the decaying average system for a mastery school. “Assessments are the measurement of learning, and because everyone is on a learning journey that is unique and not linear, I think it is important to take time to carefully consider how you want to calculate growth. I believe there is value to a wide range of strategies but consistency and open communication is key. For example, comparing the metric system to the imperial system of measurement could be a useful analogy. One can be successful with either system, but it is easiest when you are able to know the process and why. The graphic [above] shows the value in displaying the performance of a car, but the analogy to student learning is apt,” they wrote. Photo provided by Christopher Hull and Monica Burke.

Burke and Hull further elaborated on this: “Think of it this way; when trying out for a sports team, — for example, the basketball team — you practice for months before the tryouts to make sure you are at your best. Come tryout day, your coach considers your skill level from months ago to be just as important as your skill level during tryouts. That does not seem the most fair, right?”

They continued, “Would it not make more sense for the coach to value your current skill level more than your skill level from a few months ago? That is an example of how decaying average works. This method of calculation truly benefits the student, in that the current level of performance is more important than what was done in the past.”

Bio-Med students, however, had varying opinions on whether they found this way of grading beneficial.

Keira Vasbinder, a junior at Bio-Med, added, “The whole general idea before was ‘oh, if you set your grades up so that they’re good at the beginning of the year, you don’t have to worry as much towards the end of the year, because it’s not going to go down that much,’ but I feel like this just completely disregards that, and it’s just throwing it out the window, and you have to worry about your grade consistently all year.”

Many of these opinions have sparked since the switch to Otus. Though Canvas and Otus both used this system of grading, the way of displaying those calculations differed. As a result, some Bio-Med students did not know that decaying average was even used by the school until this year.

Freshman Caroline Brunn argued, “It seems to be more of a difference. I never even noticed it on Canvas.”

Some students attribute this “difference” to the lack of percentages on the new LMS. When switching to Otus, Bio-Med opted to remove percentages from students’ grades. Instead, students are assigned a mastery level with no percentages attached.

“Using percentages is certainly beneficial,” Brunn believed. “Say you have a developing mastery. I don’t know exactly what grade that is, but you would want to know if you are at like a 70 or a 60 [percent]. That could be a big difference. It just makes more sense for a lot of people to actually know what percentage you’re at. A lot of people thought developing [mastery] was failing, which I’m pretty sure it’s not. I think that if there were percentages, it would just be more clear.”

Brunn also noticed that the decaying average has both helped and harmed his grade this year. However, he believed that, overall, focusing too much on the most recent grade did not encompass the whole picture of his learning process.

“If we didn’t have decaying average, mistakes at the beginning of the year, before you know as much, could affect you, but I think that it wouldn’t be that much of a problem because, at the beginning of the year, [the content that is taught] is made for people who don’t know a lot yet. It’s aimed for people who are not as knowledgeable on the topic. Honestly, I don’t think that the disadvantages would really be that much,” he said.

Bentley elaborated on this. Though she preferred percentages, she explained that the decision to get rid of them had beneficial effects. “I would say that we’re not as separated. If you had a 90 percent of exceeds [mastery] versus a 99 percent of exceeds [mastery], people definitely judged each other based on their percentage rather than their ranking,” she said.

This emphasis on percentages rather than the learning journey was something that Bently, along with other students, cited as a positive to the grading system.

However, she also mentioned that percentages personally helped her stay motivated in school: “I definitely prefer the percentages. I think it definitely helps you keep a target goal. I definitely push myself harder with percentages. I need 100 percent, whereas this is a general area of a grade, so it’s like ‘get into that target zone.’”

With the decaying average system, many students were also concerned that this way of grading could provide little incentive to do well at the beginning of the year, considering that those grades would account for a small percent of a student’s final grade.

“Could [decaying average] be helpful for some students? Yes,” Vasbinder said, “but also, I feel like it’s a little unfair for people that are consistently trying all year and then all of a sudden, these other people are just at the same level as them,” they said, citing that some students would be able to “slack-off” at the beginning of the year and get higher grades during the second half of the year.

Lammlein noted that decaying average “causes a lot of conversations about what assessing a student should look like, and there’s a lot of philosophical things connected to that. As we continue to dig into that, the goal is to find the right way to show that, and that’s where we are right now.”

On top of this, confusion has also surfaced around GPA calculations. When students received their first Otus report cards, grades were displayed in a unique way. Instead of converting grades to a traditional letter system, mastery grades were displayed with each LO.

Pictured above is a sample report card from Otus. In the report cards this year, Bio-Med students received the grades for each individual learning outcome, as opposed to one overall grade. Many students expressed confusion regarding the report cards, citing that their parents or themselves were confused at first.

“It was overwhelming initially,” Bently stated, addressing the report card. “Obviously, I understood it a bit more than my parents did, but my concern is how do scholarships and colleges work with that? They’re not adjust to that system, and when scholarships ask, ‘What is your grade point average?’ I usually say 4.0, because I usually have exceeds in everything. But, at this point, I don’t know. How are we supposed to know how to input that information? You can get things taken away for being inaccurate when really we just had no way to know.” Photo provided by Monica Burke.

 “I have no idea what my GPA is,” Vasbinder explained. “Last year, I could tell what my GPA is, and I used it to my advantage to figure out what colleges I could apply to or what private colleges [I could apply to]. This year, I have no idea. I’ve had to guesstimate, and I’m pretty sure my estimation is wrong. I just think it would be easier if we had normal report cards.”

For Bio-Med’s GPA calculation, the grades are eventually converted to traditional letter grades, which are only given to a student at the end of the year.

Mrs. Maggie Huffman, the administrative assistant at the counselor’s office, stated that “When students, parents or athletic directors are asking for the current GPA for someone, a report is run from OTUS requesting grades from the start of the school year to the current date.”

Pictured above depicts a chart that Bio-Med uses to determine a student’s GPA. This means that an exceeds mastery would transfer to an A, mastery would transfer to a B, developing mastery would transfer to a C, not yet mastered would transfer to a D, and no evidence of mastery would transfer to an F. Photo by Alyssa Cocchiola, associate editor.

This Otus report then converts the mastery grades to a traditional letter grade to calculate the GPA. To find a GPA, a student can also look at their transcripts.

 “Since Bio-Med does not do traditional grading periods, the district will only award final grades and final GPAs at the end of the school year,” Huffman concluded.

Though Bio-Med has switched how grades are calculated on multiple occasions, Lammlein noted that as Bio-Med continues to grow, many factors of how the school operates could be subject to change.

“[Grading calculations] could change too in the future as we continue our mastery journey, and how do we do that as a school? How do we help others know what that means? It might change, but that’s where we are right now,” she concluded.

Hull and Burke gave their advice for students struggling to adapt to the system of grading, stating, “Learning is an action requiring effort, and progress on learning is something that requires continued effort and persistence. If a learner is punished too heavily when they start out, they may be discouraged to continue to try their best.”

They also noted that the standard-based grading could be more applicable to a student’s future post-high school. When applying for a job, people are usually asked to give a resume, which shares skills instead of numbers associated with those skills.

“In the future, resumes will mirror your performance on standards more so than traditional grades. If you were to ask those with job experience about their resume and job interview, you are not able to say I got a ‘B’ at my last company,” they wrote. “Instead, you share what skills you are proficient or excel at. This is similar to how standard based grading works. You are identifying the skills you are focusing on and measuring your progress to a large goal.”

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