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SEPTEMBER 2022 — AllBio-Med Science Academy courses from grades K-12 will assess students using the same learning outcomes (LOs) for the 2022-2023 school year. Each LO defines a skill or concept that students are expected to be proficient in. This preset list of universal learning outcomes reflect the Bio-Med attributes and assess students on their skills, rather than specific content-focused knowledge.
Bio-Med has six attributes, or “pillars,” students are expected to exemplify: personal agency, engaged learning, problem solving and innovation, sense of community and leadership, effective communication, and collaboration.
These attributes were combined with Bio-Med’s application of standards-based grading, where each assignment is broken into different LOs. With these attributes in mind, Bio-Med’s Research and Development (R&D) Committee created a list of LOs that each class would implement.
“We wanted to form our LOs to be consistent across the school, so students would see these LOs over and over and over again, and conveniently, they saw the attributes that everyone sees on the website and newsletters. We started with that. Then, we chiseled down into the most fundamental skill… that not only falls under student attributes, but is a skill that is both used academically and outside of school,” said Elissa Fusco, Bio-Med’s Biomedical Engineering teacher and member of the R&D committee. “[We are] looking at that entire holistic view of a student. They’re more than just a student. They’re a person. That’s where that was based out of.”
To ensure that students are exposed to each skill, they will be assessed on each LO in a minimum of two classes throughout the school year.
Fusco said, “Some of them are just trickier to use in some of our courses, but it honestly might just be, ‘take a project or two and it can sneak in somewhere.’ They’re challenging us to assess each LO at least twice, but that’s across a grade level. I don’t have to look at these and assess every single one in the class.”
In previous years, the learning outcomes varied across each class and grade level, typically focusing on the specific content of the course and state standards.
Laura Sass, the STEM Quality and Curriculum Coordinator, explained the origins of the skill-focused LO list.
“It really started before COVID. When COVID happened, things slowed down. We’ve really been trying to get back to where we were, but it really was the group looking at our attributes, thinking about it through the lens of different content areas and different grade levels, and just collaboratively as a group deciding, ‘where do we feel like the most important skills are? How do we word them?’ That was just hours of collaborating and meeting and talking through it and revising, and vetting that with different outside people and draft version after version…. It really has been a process of about four years.”
Part of this process included careful consideration of the outcomes’ wording.
“The smallest wording changes took a big conversation, because you want to make sure what you’re getting across makes sense and it is usable in all content areas, and it isn’t too specific to one class, but can be interpreted in different ways across classes,” Sass recalled.
Though each course is using the new LOs, the list of outcomes is no stranger to Bio-Med. Prior to this year, teachers were given the option to use the LOs.
Fusco said, “I did not roll [the LOs] out the year of 2020-2021. That was its test drive. Only a few teachers had that in their Otus and used it in their Otus. I didn’t start using it until last year, and last year was the only year where it was like, ‘Start using these,’ but you were able to add in LOs of your choice.”
Carrie Sinkele, the sophomore Engineering Design teacher, did not use the new LOs until this year.
“Before the attribute LOs, I used my career tech course standards. I stress standards that I know will be used on our end of course career tech exam: WebXam,” she said.
The WebXam is an end-of-year test that Bio-Med students take for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, such as Biomedical Engineering and Engineering Design. Both Sinkele and Fusco’s classes use the WebXam. Many CTE classes use course standards — that were later found on the WebXam — as their LOs prior to this year.
Though Fusco and Sinkele both teach CTE classes, the transition process for the attribute LOs looked different for each course.
“[The transition was] overwhelming. There are a lot of LO’s to assess,” Sinkele began. “I chose 16 LOs to grade this year.”
Sinkele spent a couple weeks over the summer aligning the attribute LOs to the standards of her course.
Fusco addressed the “overwhelming” transition process: “It’s a lot of work, because it’s groundbreaking. If you pioneer anything, you’re going to have more groundbreaking work than usual. You can’t just keep repeating it over and over,” said Fusco.
Sass noted that this was the case for many teachers.
“Even though the learning outcomes are universal, they’re still embedded in the standards that teachers use. That hasn’t changed. A teacher would look at their standards and create their learning objectives based on those standards. That’s still the same, and right now, we’re working with aligning the learning objectives to those standards. Everything is still there. It’s not to say the teacher is just deciding what to teach. Everything is bedded in those, whether it’s national standards [or] state standards — whatever the teacher uses,” Sass explained.
She continued, “How [the LOs] are viewed are a little bit different. They’re viewed through the lense of those LOs. You have this LO and you think about, ‘which of these standards would fall in that LO?’ When a teacher assesses that, they’re still assessing what they should be in terms of curriculum, but the lens through which it is is a little bit different.”
Sinkele voiced one potential drawback to the attribute LOs, adding, “Content mastery could be difficult to discern [by] transitioning students to just [the attribute] LOs.”
Sinkele did note that the new LO system had a lot of potential, however. When it came to the repetition of the list, Sinkele said that a benefit of the attribute LOs is that teachers and students had an opportunity to measure their growth each year, since the LOs would not change.
“I do believe that it will show the overall student strengths that match 21st century skills,” Sinkele concluded.
For teachers like Fusco, the transition process looked a bit different.
“I got really lucky and, for one of the CTE classes, Lammlein took all of my LOs and did this mothership of where all of my standards could fall within [the new LOs].”
Though each LO needs to be assessed twice across a grade level, teachers were given the opportunity to create additional LOs for the 2022-2023 school year. It is unclear if this accommodation will be offered in the future.
“Because we’re still in that pilot, to offer some flexibility, teachers do have the option to add a couple [LOs] if they need to,” Sass explained.
Both Sinkele and Fusco did not add any additional LOs to their course.
Bio-Med students and parents had varying opinions on the change.
Grace Totaro, an eighth-grade student, was excited for the new way of assessing students.
“I like the skills, because it helps with the future…. It can help you adapt when you’re at a job and you’re not always with your friends,” she said.
Junior Cooper Lappe believed that the change had the potential to be beneficial for college applications.
Lappe commented, “It makes sense. I can see why they’d want to do this, because it’s stuff people are actually looking for. If you’re applying for a job in the medical field, do they really care if you know about the war in 1812?”
Lappe, however, was still critical of the system, citing that skills should not be the only thing students are graded on.
“What if I flunk a test? Could I potentially get zeros on other assignments and just have perfect awareness, inclusion, leadership, learning, inspiration, and apply content? That should not be right, because grades are supposed to measure understanding of skills. I could see how this would equate to 50% of your grade, maybe if they wanted to do that, but it just seems like it’s going to make up too much this year,” he expressed.
Bio-Med parent Gigi Earl shared her thoughts on the new LO system and wished that the school had switched to it earlier, before her daughter’s last year of high school.
“I think [the LOs] would be better for [students]. They’d have a better understanding of where the teacher is coming from. It’s more across the board than what the teacher’s opinion actually is. I think it’s more attainable, and I think it would give kids more self-esteem.”
Katrina Kohout, another Bio-Med parent, agreed with Earl.
“I see the value in a skills focused teaching method. I feel like the students are being prepared more to be able to succeed in the real world where you need to figure things out for yourself. I do think it would be beneficial to blend that with a more traditional hands on direct teaching/grading approach,” Kohout said.
Though she was fond of the new system, she expressed that she did not know how grades were calculated or of the LO switch.
Earl added, “I would like more information on it. There’s a big gap between students and parents, like the information the students get and the information the parents get. It would be nice to have something concrete.”
This parent/student “gap” was also noticed by Kohout.
“I don’t think we were notified regarding the change in the grading system that apparently occurred this August,” she explained. “I went through the Parent newsletters that have come out over the last few months and did not see a mention of it and don’t believe there was any sort of notification to the parents, as far as I know. I learned about the change from my children.”
Another area of concern amongst parents was understanding the grading system.
“The grading system has always been challenging to understand, and I am not sure this change clarifies matters,” Kohout said. “While I think we get the gist of how our students are graded, I definitely don’t think we have a firm grasp on the subject. The report cards from last year were extremely thorough, if a little difficult to understand initially. Ultimately though, they were effective and showing strengths and weaknesses.”
The report cards contained a student’s total grade in the class and their grade in each LO, causing confusion for some parents. Kohout expressed that she liked that student grades on the mastery system were converted to letter grading on a high school transcript.
Earl concluded, “They just need to make it a little bit more parent-friendly. I’m sure you guys understand a lot of what you’re saying, because you’re there every day. You’re the ones getting the grades, but when it comes home to the parents, it’s just like, ‘Okay, did they pass or fail? What kinds of scores are they getting?’ Stuff like that.”
Bio-Med senior David Knarr, did not know how the LOs would impact him.
“It’s too early in the year to know that, but I hope it helps,” he said.
Knarr continued, “I think it will be beneficial in some classes, but also not beneficial in other classes…. The downfall would be if there are people who don’t fully understand — if [teachers] see them and they’re engaged in the lesson, they’ll get a higher grade than what they actually should have gotten, because they’re fitting the new LOs instead of learning the new information. That would be the drawback. The upside would be, say, maybe you do fully understand, you can do the attributes better while also having a grasp, and that’ll benefit you. So, the benefit is also the catch. It’s a double-edged sword, I think.”
Much like the “double-edged sword” Knarr mentioned, some students believed that the wording for the LOs, while universal to each class, could have potential drawbacks.
“This allows for so much subjective bias in teachers, too,” Lappe commented. “If a teacher wanted — I’m not saying that any teachers in my grade that I know of would do this — they could just be like, ‘I didn’t feel like your global actions were really that good,’ or ‘you didn’t have enough empathy in this project.’ And that’s insanely scary, because teacher bias is real. I think a few kids would get some easy A’s for being the teacher’s pet.”
This was a concern for students, especially with the sense of community LOs, such as empathy, community development, and community advocacy.
“I feel like with politics, I know a lot of the teachers are democrats, and they’re very liberal. I’m not conservative or anything, but if you have a different opinion, I feel like you’d be graded harshly on empathy, like pro-choice or pro-life,” Owen Sprague, a junior, commented. “If a teacher supports pro-choice, but you support pro-life, you weren’t being empathetic towards those women who need to get abortions, thus being unempathetic.”
In the learning outcomes list, empathy is defined as a student’s ability to “understand and share different peer experiences.”
Fusco responded to this concern, saying, “I would agree that empathy is one of the hardest ones. You could assess objectively on the knowledge of empathy. For someone to actually express it, that’s where it would be kind of difficult.”
Fusco elaborated, “If anything, I could see it in an argumentative essay over something like a cause that you are very passionate about, and it’s like, ‘Where do you put in that empathy?’ You kind of start seeing a student’s writing as ‘Are they worried about other people or are they just worried about themselves?’ That’s even borderline subjective, but I would say that empathy is the knowledge of [empathy].”
Fusco does not grade on empathy in her BME course. However, as a member of the R&D team, she proposed that teachers should take more consideration into ensuring they grade in an objective manner.
“I think that’s something where, as instructors, we really have to watch out that we’re not making that subjective or focusing on, ‘what do we want to see?’ Because our empathy is different from your empathy — not just being an adult to a student, but also just life experience is different for everybody…. It’s definitely something [that], out of all the LOs, you need to take a bit more time and think, ‘how am I going to assess this?’ We want everything to be fast and easy and ready to go. But again, this is groundbreaking. There are definitely little mistakes here and there that need to be adjusted, but it’s a start,” Fusco said.
Other students believed that the LOs were beneficial, but should not be taught from grades K-12.
Payton Curall, a Bio-Med junior, said, “With the kindergarteners, yeah, you want to teach them empathy…. That’s really good for especially elementary school kids, but we’re old. We need to get less into the whole ‘Bio-Med’s creative, different way’ and crack down, because we’re not going to be doing this in college. It’s junior year. We barely have a senior year, because you’re barely at school. I feel like, especially in a high school, you have to just start thinking more focused. Getting graded on empathy is not going to help us get into college. Our teachers are not going to care.”
Sprague agreed with Curall’s comments. Sprague has attended Bio-Med since sixth grade, which was the first year Bio-Med expanded its education to middle school students. Since then, Sprague believes that he has been exposed to the attributes enough to be mastered in each one.
“We all know how sense of community works,” Sprague said. “We’re mature enough. When you’re young, it would be good to start those off. The younger grades, they know how to do these things well, and it splits out the more it.”
Sprague believed that focusing on the skills up until basecamp would be beneficial to students, but, as they approached high school, more focus should be placed on specific content.
He concluded, “I’ve been at least acquaintances with pretty much everyone. I have a pretty strong sense of this community, and I don’t think we need to be assessed [on it].”
Though this school year is just beginning, the R&D team expressed that the new list of learning outcomes has many benefits for students.
“How many kids are interested in this kind of science?” Fusco began. “Not a lot, so for me, these are really helpful, because I am able to reel in the kids who don’t care for science, because now I’m like, ‘yes, you still have to learn the content,’ but the focus is more on how do you grow as a professional.”
Sass agreed with this, adding, “It puts the focus really on the skill. The idea that the skill is learned through different content, whether it is a writing skill, presentation, research, or a different way of critical thinking or problem solving. The focus is really on the skill. I think the students will hopefully see an overlap of those skills in different classes. The writing process isn’t just for ELA. The writing process is something used in all classes. It just looks a little bit differently, but the skill in the end is still being built upon in all those different classes.”
With each class and grade using the same LOs, Sass hopes that in the future, integrated projects between classes would allow students to see a clearer connection between the courses, as the same LOs would be used.
However, the list is not set-in-stone.
“It is a pilot, so we are working throughout the year to get feedback from teachers [and] see how it goes. It definitely is a collaborative thing, where everybody is working together,” Sass concluded.
Though the implementation of the universal list of skills is just beginning, it is hoped by the R&D team that, in the future, one comprehensive list can be used to assess all students, grades K-12, in each course they take.
The Hive reached out to BMSA teachers from various subjects and administrators of the BMSA parent Facebook group. These parties did not respond to The Hive’s request.
SEPTEMBER 2022 — The Federal government of the United States officially began to take an active role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by passing the Inflation Reduction Act Aug. 16. Although there have been previous attempts to combat the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, none have ever been this aggressive.
In its entirety, the Inflation Reduction Act intends to lower the costs of prescription drugs, health care, and energy. According to a statement made by the White House, President Joe Biden’s promises to take “aggressive action” to tackle climate change.
The section of the bill regarding energy aims to modify and extend tax credits for producing electricity from renewable resources, specifically for wind, biomass, geothermal, solar, and hydropower through 2024. The bill targets larger, wealthier companies that actively put carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
Analyzing the bill, Bio-Med Science Academy 10th-grade integrated mathematics instructor Melissa Cairns said, “I think that if those companies were being forced to meet those marks, then yeah, it could totally work. But you know the problem is that they keep trying to shift the blame to us, like we’re not recycling or composting, but the real criminals are industry farming and manufacturing, so if we could rein them in, that could definitely make a difference.”
Cairns has worried immensely about the lack of knowledge surrounding climate change, especially among students. “Education is like our first line of defense. It has to be spoken about in education, but there are also all these bills trying to be passed that tell teachers what they can and can’t speak about, and they turn things that aren’t political agendas into political agendas.”
Cairns plans to host a course about climate change during Bio-Med’s accelerated term, where teachers are able to offer courses that count towards students’ elective credits. Accelerated term begins after Thanksgiving break and concludes at the start of winter break.
Arguments regarding climate change have affected the amount of knowledge many students have today.
Junior Katherine Lennox shared her perspective on climate change.
“I know that solar panels are good, and I would like to believe that recycling helps, but I don’t know what it has to do with climate change,” Lennox said.
“I think any progress is progress though, right?” remarked Catherine Panchyshyn, the 10th-grade science instructor at Bio-Med Science Academy. “I think it’s good that this information is being taught more in school. I know when I was younger, I think a lot more people thought [climate change] was a hoax or something that we would never see in our lifetime. I think since a large majority of people do know what’s going on, I’m not as [concerned].”
Panchyshyn continued, “I feel like I should be more [concerned], knowing the data…. It’s one of those things that you tend to blackout of your mind. I think being in Ohio, we are a little luckier, because we don’t have severe weather, while people in Florida are going to feel it a lot more.”
Bio-Med sophomore Nami Miller worried, “I think that I’m concerned enough [regarding climate change], but I definitely think that there are other people, especially people who still don’t believe climate change is a thing, that should be more concerned. Because it’s real, and it’s really bad.”
Cairns talked about her extreme concern with climate change in the U.S.
“I mean we [the U.S.] are definitely one of the biggest problems when it comes to [climate change].”
Part of the movement against climate change has involved the introduction of electric cars into the general public. Electric vehicles are designed to emit fewer greenhouse gasses and air pollutants than petrol or diesel cars.
Miller expressed, “My family has an electric car, and it’s amazing. You know, even taking the lithium batteries into consideration, it’s still better for the environment when compared to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that regular cars put into the air.”
While lithium batteries are often thought to be an essential part of the future with fewer carbon emissions in the atmosphere, they can be harmful towards people and the environment. Lithium batteries contain potentially toxic nickel, copper and lead materials. Used batteries that are stored improperly and uncontrolled can become explosive, and possibly turn into an environmental disaster.
Electric vehicles may be the start, but the movement has pushed further.
Along with China and Russia, the U.S. has been responsible for a majority of the global greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution. While the U.S. only accounts for 4.25% of the total population of the world, they have been responsible for 30% of global energy use and 28% of carbon emissions, according to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)
Cairns explained, “Our lifestyle since the industrial revolution has put a lot of carbon dioxide and a lot of methane gas into the atmosphere, and some of that is necessary to keep the planet from freezing.” She later countered, “But we’ve doubled the amount that we should have in the atmosphere. So it’s kind of like a snowball effect on the entire planet.”
Transportation was most recently one of the main sources of greenhouse gasses, taking up 27% of total emissions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, between March and Dec. 2020, there was a dip in the level of gasses being produced by 4.6% due to the declining use of public transportation. However, between Jan. 2021 and Aug. 2022, greenhouse gas emissions have rebounded by 6.4%.
Other offenders contributing to the total emissions include industry development at 24% and electric power at 25%.
Cairns explained where her concern currently lies.
“At this point it’s not just about saving the planet, but also saving ourselves.” She concluded, “The planet will be fine with us completely wiped out– probably even better– but it’s about saving our future generations. It’s not just about you, it’s about future generations after us, and how we are going to set them up to be successful.”
SEPTEMBER 2022 — Ohio citizens may not realize they possess the ability to place their own laws on statewide ballots. Citizens can exercise this ability via rights laid out in Article 2 of the Ohio Constitution.
The first sentence of Article 2 Section 1a of the Ohio Constitution reads, “The first aforestated power reserved by the people is designated the initiative, and the signatures of ten per centum of the electors shall be required upon a petition to propose an amendment to the constitution.”
If a citizen is to propose a law and gather signatures amounting to a certain percentage of the number of votes in the last gubernatorial election (elections relating to a state governor or their office), that law can be placed on a statewide ballot in the next election cycle. This is known as the Initiative Petition.
The goal of the Initiative Petition is to provide Ohio voters with the opportunity to bring issues that are important to them to the ballot, as opposed to only allowing the Ohio General Assembly to draft and approve laws. Constitutional amendments, whether proposed by the General Assembly or Initiative Petition will always go to ballot in Ohio.
Ohio General Assembly Legislators ratified the current state constitution in 1912, which included the current Article 2. Since then, via laws published in the Ohio Revised Code, the process to place an Initiative Petition on the ballot has been clarified.
According to Steven H. Steinglass of The Cleveland-Marshall Public Law Library, Ohio voters most recently passed one of these clarification laws in 2015, “[approving] an antimonopoly amendment that placed obstacles in the way of proposed initiated amendments that would create monopolies, specify or determine tax rates, or provide special benefits not generally available to others.”
For 110 years, no constitutional amendments have been approved to remove or weaken Article 2, maintaining Ohio citizens’ right to an Initiative Petition.
According to the Office of the Ohio Attorney General, via the office’s website, under current Ohio law, there are three types of a Initiative Petition: Initiated Constitutional Amendment to add to or modify a part of Ohio Constitution, Initiated Statute to add a statute to the Ohio Revised Code, and Referendum to repeal an existing (or section of) law. These processes are further outlined through multiple laws within Ohio Revised Code 3501-3519.
All Ohio government offices involved in the Initiative Petition process recommend that to begin the Initiative Petition process, an Ohio citizen first consult legal counsel. The citizen then must elect an Initiative Committee of three to five individuals to represent the petition in all matters relating to it. The committee will then write the proposed law and proposal summary.
Ohio Revised Code 3519.01(A) reads, “Only one proposal of law or constitutional amendment to be proposed by initiative petition shall be contained in an initiative petition to enable the voters to vote on that proposal separately.”
This section of Revised Code means any proposed law must introduce or modify only one existing section of the Ohio Constitution or Ohio Revised Code. The proposal summary must be a “fair and truthful statement” that clearly outlines the intent and purpose of the proposed law.
Once the Initiative Committee members have drafted the proposed law and summary, they must gather 1,000 signatures of qualified electors. Qualified electors are defined as any individual who is legally qualified to vote in the state of Ohio and is registered to do so.
Upon the signing of 1,000 qualified electors, the committee must send the signatures along with the proposed law and summary to the Office of the Ohio Attorney General.
Once the Attorney General has certified the proposal summary is a “fair and truthful statement” and the law only introduces or modifies only a signal section of the Ohio Constitution or Ohio Revised Code, the office will transfer the initiative to the Ohio Ballot Board. The ballot board must then certify the initiative based on the same criteria. The board has 10 days to do so.
The Ohio Attorney General, currently Dave Yost, is then responsible for transferring the initiative to the Office of the Ohio Secretary of State to be reviewed and, potentially, placed on a statewide ballot. Upon the Secretary of State receiving a copy of the initiative, the Initiative Committee can begin to collect the required number of signatures to have their initiative placed on the ballot.
The total number of signatures the committee must gather varies based on the type of Initiative Petition they are attempting to file. For initiatives directed towards constitutional amendments, 10% of the total numbers of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election are required in signatures. A referendum necessitates 6%, and a revised code statute mandates 3%.
“Signatures must be obtained from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. From each of the 44 counties, signatures must equal at least 1.5% of votes cast for governor in that county in [the] previous election,” states the website of the Ohio Attorney General.
These guidelines apply to all three types of Initiative Petitions.
The Initiative Committee is required to submit all signatures in a single document, along with a $25 filing fee, to the Ohio Secretary of State no later than 125 days prior to the election to be put to the ballot. Once the Secretary of State has certified the signatures of the initiative, it will be passed back to the Ohio Ballot Board to construct the ballot language.
After the final certification by the Ohio Secretary of State and Ballot Board, the Initiative Committee may then write an argument of why the proposed law should be passed. This must be no more than 300 words. The Ohio General Assembly must designate individuals to write the argument against the proposed initiative. If either party fails to do so, the responsibility falls upon the Ohio Ballot Board.
“The proposed constitutional amendment together with the arguments and/or explanations must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks preceding the election, in at least one newspaper of general circulation in each county of the state, where a newspaper is published,” states the website of the Ohio Secretary of State.
Newspapers published across multiple counties are permitted to fulfill the requirement for every county it is published in.
Upon completion of all of the above listed criteria, the Ohio population votes on the initiative. If a majority of Ohio voters vote “Yes” on the initiative, marked on the ballot as “Issues,” the initiative will become law effective 30 days after the election.
Ohio is one of 18 states to have a right to a Citizens’ petition for constitutional amendments written into its constitution. In 31 other states, the only way for a constitutional amendment to be put to the voters is if the state legislature approves an amendment with a majority vote. However, 21 total states allow statutes to state law be proposed via citizen’s petition. Delaware is the only state to not require constitutional amendments be put to a statewide ballot.
“I don’t think it’s very well publicized [in Ohio],” said Bio-Med Science Academy’s 11th grade College, Career, and Civics and Integrated History teacher, Morgan Brunner. “I am very active in politics and political information and have not heard of it.”
The most recent certified Initiative Petition is to add Section 22 to Article I of the Ohio Constitution. Section 22 would be known as the Medical Right to Refuse. The initiative would write into the Ohio Constitution a citizen’s right to refuse any medical procedure and that no law in Ohio can require a citizen to undergo any medical procedure. The initiative was submitted on June 16, but failed to meet the July 26 deadline to submit the required amount of signatures to be placed on the Nov. 2022 ballot.
The Hive reached out to the University Of Akron Constitutional Law center, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, the Ohio Attorney General office, and the Ohio Secretary of State office but did not receive a response.
SEPTEMBER 2022 — Juniors at Bio-Med Science Academy are required to take 7.25 credits worth of classes with only six class periods in a day, and some juniors have opted to take additional classes, adding even more credits to their schedule. Many juniors have expressed that they have been feeling overwhelmed due to the workload.
“You’d think that the workload wouldn’t be that bad, and it’s not, but it’s the fact that you can slowly see it building,” Alex Levy, a junior, stated.
Bio-Med juniors are required to take a total of nine classes: College Career and Civics (CCC), Integrated History 11, Anatomy & Physiology (A&P), Integrated Math 3, Integrated English 11, Biomedical Engineering, health, physical education (PE), and Integrated Art 3. Health and PE are worth half a credit, and Integrated Art 3 is worth a quarter of a credit. All other courses are worth one credit.
CCC and history share a period, or core, as well as A&P, PE, and health. Integrated Art 3 grades are attached to assignments in core classes.
Additionally, students are able to take Newspaper if invited, Yearbook, and/or Integrated Math 4. They may also take Spanish III online through Bio-Med, as well as any College Credit Plus (CCP) courses. All of these classes from Bio-Med are worth one credit, while CCP courses vary.
Jacquelyn Collins, the guidance counselor for grades 10 through 12 at Bio-Med, listed potential factors to consider when taking additional courses.
“Some of the benefits are the opportunities in learning about subjects that interest students. It may be beneficial on their transcript and applying to colleges and extended knowledge in a subject area,” she said. “A drawback may be that [students] feel overextended as far as time or energy in trying to manage extra classes.”
Integrated Math 4 takes place during a student’s advisory period, Bio-Med’s equivalent to study hall, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Students who take Yearbook or Newspaper in addition to Integrated Math 4 attend these classes Monday and Friday. Students only taking Newspaper or Yearbook attend these classes every day.
Sage Lammlein, a junior taking Integrated Math 4, stated, “It’s kind of difficult, because I don’t really have an advisory. When I do need to work on things outside of class, I have to use my time outside of school, which is already so busy with sports and work.”
Every junior’s first core is STEMinar. STEMinar is utilized for activities that require the entire grade to be present, like presentations from the administration. It is also used to alleviate the workload for the classes that are sharing a core. Depending on the day, students may be split into two groups. One group may work on CCC or history, for example, while the other goes outside for PE.
Avery Miller, a junior taking Newspaper and Integrated Math 4, is not worried about the workload yet.
“It’s very manageable, and we do actually have a good amount of work time in classes. They did tell us in advance to expect some work to do at home,” Miller said.
Lammlein, however, is worried for the future.
“While we haven’t had a lot of work, I have a feeling that once everyone starts assigning projects and stuff, I’m going to have to probably mess up my sleep schedule to finish the work, which has happened before, so it’s not horrible, but I also kind of like to sleep,” she said.
Lammlein has softball practice and games four to five times a week and works three to four times a week. This means that she arrives home “usually around 8:30 to nine o’clock on a good day.”
In addition to taking Integrated Math 4, Levy also takes Newspaper and Spanish III. She is similarly worried about the lack of sleep. Last year, Levy would get home at 6 p.m. and then work on various assignments until 3 a.m.
“That would usually put me sleeping for like an hour to two hours a day, and just working from the time I got home to the time I would go to bed,” she said. “That was mainly for the later portion of the year. I feel like after [December], everything picks up rather quickly, because teachers feel rushed with their curriculum. That makes me nervous for this school year where we have so many extra classes we have to get through.”
Levy continued, “I wish they would have given juniors the option of which one of these classes to take, or even just divided it a little more. I feel like we could have had Newspaper be an English credit, because it is a journalism-focused class… or even having PE when you’re a freshman. I just don’t understand why there’s this huge push and surge of classes.”
Levy believed the Bio-Med Pathways would alleviate this problem.
“It gave us the impression, at least last year when they described them, that the pathways would let you pick which of these classes you would get to take. Instead, it’s just recommending some CCP classes that you can’t take, because we don’t have enough credit hours,” she said.
CCP has a limit to the number of credits a school will pay for each year. This limit is 30 credits, with each high school credit being multiplied by three.
Bio-Med Pathways allow a student to declare a focus in their education, aligning their Senior Apex and electives with whatever pathway they choose.
Miller also had concerns regarding the classes, though hers revolved around college.
“I’ve gotten more serious about looking into what I want to do after [high school], and should I choose to go to college, Bio-Med doesn’t offer any foreign language. I’ve talked to college admissions officers who say that, [with] these extra credits, they’ll look and see that you [excel in other areas]. You haven’t had the foreign language, but they’ll see that you did other things in other areas. It’s really just to try to fill the gap that Bio-Med has in their curriculum,” she said.
Miller continued, “I really like the way Bio-Med works. I really like the CCC class and how it’s preparing you for later…. I like that they do the internships and let you see things. They have a lot of good qualities, but the gap is a little concerning, because some colleges don’t do holistic reviews. Colleges that do holistic reviews will look at all of your Bio-Med things and consider everything. But colleges that don’t do holistic reviews, should you choose to apply to them, they’ll just see that you’re lacking their foreign language requirements, and some of them will just toss out your application. And that’s really concerning, especially since it’s out of my control.”
Collins gave advice for students worried that lacking certain classes would reflect poorly on their academic performance.
“Highlight your strengths! Your transcript will reflect a STEM-based integrated learning, which is unique and desirable to institutions of higher learning,” she said.
Levy concluded, “When you meet with people from other schools, they still look better on college applications. I feel like Bio-Med does have a lot of opportunities, and I feel like other schools’ [benefits] may be more obvious or universal. You have to work to seek out the opportunities [for success at Bio-Med] and be okay with the extra workload.”
SEPTEMBER 2022 — Morgan Brunner is the 11th grade College, Career, and Civics teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy. She has been at Bio-Med since fall of 2019.
Before joining the Bio-Med community, Brunner led a diverse life. She attended a few colleges, lived across the country, and worked in multiple fields, on top of other experiences.
Brunner attended The University of Akron for History and also has a minor in Archeology. She later went to Bowling Green State University for a degree in Curriculum and Teaching.
After Brunner graduated in her 20s with her bachelor’s degree, she lived in Lexington, KY in 2009 and also lived in Baton Rouge, LA in 2010.
Prior to teaching, Brunner has pursued a broad range of occupations. She worked in hospitality management from 2003-2007.
When asked about her experiences, she said, “I pretty much worked every job in the restaurant.”
She also held a job as a museum educator at the Canton Museum of Art. While there, she mainly taught elementary school children. She said she worked with STEAM art, which is the integration of art into the traditional STEM format.
She was also a substitute teacher at GlenOak High School, where her main duties focused on teaching Honors Government as well as Anatomy and Physiology. She was at GlenOak for three years before joining Bio-Med.
Brunner admitted, “As cheesy as it sounds, my favorite thing about Bio-Med is the people. My co-workers, the students, the parents… it’s a really wonderful culture to be a part of.”
Brunner says that joining the Bio-Med community has made her a more empathetic and understanding person.
She commented that, if she had the choice, she would also like to teach psychology and sociology.
As someone who is no stranger to hobbies, Brunner said, “I really enjoy art, looking at it, creating it, the whole shabazz!”
She has other hobbies too, such as reading fantasy novels, watching action movies, traveling to weird historical places, and trying out international cuisine. She particularly enjoys Indian and German food.
“German food is my jam!” she said.
In the future, Brunner wants to go back to school and get her administrative license, so she can become an athletic director.
SEPTEMBER 2022 — Sanitation and cleanliness has always been a topic of concern in schools. Throughout the pandemic, Bio-Med encouraged students and staff to partake in sanitization measures like desk-wiping, but how effective and consistent are these measures, and are any surfaces within the school being neglected?
The Hive conducted an experiment throughout the Bio-Med Science Academy Rootstown campus to see where the building’s bacteria may reside. Commonly touched surfaces where bacteria may gather, like the stair railings, the slide, the soap dispenser, and microwave were swabbed for growth and examination.
The Hive found a diverse range of bacterial growth quantities on building surfaces. Some displayed significant growth, while others maintained a relatively sparse growth plate.
Though sanitization measures are still recommended, freshmen Wyatt Bartholomew and Madelynn Cross stated that they rarely wiped down their desks after class.
“[Teachers] do not have us do that [anymore],“ Bartholomew told The Hive.
A possible explanation for the decline in cleaning could be that, as pandemic fears eased, wiping desks began to fade from the minds of students and staff, and the practice became less frequent, leaving bacterial colonies an opportunity to redistribute themselves throughout the building.
A Yale University study demonstrated that bacterial growth on desks in three grade 7-12 schools completely regrew within around two days if not sanitized consistently. The study also verified that the majority of bacteria on the desks were sourced from humans, most likely the students sitting there. The fast regrowth could lead to an increase in bacteria transmission between school surfaces in-between cleanings.
If commonly touched spaces harbor a large number of bacteria growth, it could become easier for students to pick them up from that space and transfer the bacteria to other areas. This transference could also dull the effect of surface cleaners, by enabling rapid reintroduction and regrowth after disinfection.
Results of the Slide Sample
The slide was installed in the building during its 2020 expansion and serves the student community as an alternative to taking the stairs down between floors.
“That’s a bunch of kids’ butts,” stated Cross about the growth on the slide plate.
The plate incubated a large colony of bacteria within a few days of its samples being taken, quickly generating bacterial colonies and bringing the amount of bacteria on the slide into question.
“I don’t think many people clean that, because it would be hard to clean,” Bartholomew said as he observed the plate. “You’d have to stand on the steps or something.”
Because the slide is so frequently used, students who go down it may bring its microorganisms with them, further spreading bacterial growth throughout the building and onto more surfaces.
Results of the Microwave Sample
The cafeteria microwave demonstrated a large amount of bacterial growth.
After seeing the sample results, Bartholomew stated, “I think the microwave should be a lot cleaner. I don’t use the microwave, and I think they should get new ones, because they don’t work as well as they used to.”
In regards to the sample, Elissa Fusco, the 11th grade Biomedical Engineering teacher remarked, “This [bacteria]…might be filamentous. That might be why it gave you a different color than the other [plates].”
“Filamentous [bacteria] looks almost very hairlike,” She detailed. “[They] are kind of hard to find, because what they’ll do is just merge together and form this lawn, but you have a little bit that you can see on the very edges.”
Bacterial “lawns” are large masses of bacterial growth, caused by one or more bacterial colonies growing to cover an entire growth plate in a sort of bacterial mat.
The large amount of growth on the microwave may be a result of filamentous bacteria’s tendency to quickly form bacterial lawns, though the species and source are unknown.
Results of the Stairwell Sample
The building’s main stair railing, another location swabbed for the experiment, is an integral part of its infrastructure, often used by Bio-Med students coming up and down daily.
“I would have thought there was more,” Bartholomew stated about the railing sample. “The janitor [cleans] it after school. I think I’ve seen him do it a few times.”
“I [use the stairs] every day, actually,” senior Sarah Bungard said. “Maybe even four times a day…. I come down for lunch time, and then I go back up for class again.”
As a senior, Bungard has “open campus” privileges, meaning she can leave the building during periods where she does not have a class.
When asked about how many people she encounters on the stairs, Bungard recalled, “That depends on the day. In the morning, it’s usually a good amount depending on what time I come in…. Sometimes it’s very aggressive, and there [are] a lot of people.”
Bungard continued, “I personally do not [use the railings] usually, because I have a feeling that they are gross. I do not pay that much attention to what other people do, but I’d say I don’t see people using them that much.”
Observing the plate shows a relatively low amount of growth. Due to the railing’s cleanings, it is possible that the bacteria found was residually left over from students entering the building in the morning, and may have been disinfected during routine maintenance.
Results of the Soap Dispenser Sample
Another area swabbed, the fourth floor soap dispenser, is frequently touched by students going into and coming out from the nearby restroom. Despite its frequent use, the sample showed a lack of visible bacterial growth.
Fusco explained her thoughts on the lack of growth on the soap sample, stating, “If you had any soap antibiotics — I’m not sure if that’s antibacterial soap, I think that it is — if you got any residue on that, that could’ve potentially killed off your samples.” Soap residue may have been transferred to the surface during normal student hand-washing, preventing growth.
The fourth floor restrooms use GOJO Green Certified foam hand cleaner. The product’s description reads, “Kills germs on hands while providing a rich, luxurious lather,” further supporting Fusco’s claims, and providing an explanation for the cleanliness of the plate.
This type of soap could reduce the amount of bacteria on student hands, lowering the probability of microbial transfer from student hands to school surfaces.
The results of The Hive’s overall experiment could have been affected by several factors, including the time and method of incubation.
“It probably would’ve been good to check [the growth] every day,” Fusco reflected about the experiment’s methods, “The moment you put it in, check the same time the day after, and then the day after that… eventually, because of how basic that luria broth agar is, you’re just going to end up getting a bacterial lawn. You might just have one dominant bacteria take over the whole thing.”
A bacterial lawn is the term for a dense growth of bacteria, similar to the colonies present in the slide and microwave samples. It can form when a bacteria is present in large quantities, or possesses qualities that enable it to grow quickly.
Bio-Med senior Olivia Opritza and a few of her peers conducted an experiment similar to The Hive’s two years ago for a sophomore research project.
Opritza explained, “We went to each campus at Bio-Med and swabbed door knobs, two in each building to look at how much bacteria was growing in each building and if that correlated with the number of COVID cases in each building.”
Recalling the results, she said, “We realized that there wasn’t much of a correlation between the different buildings and their bacteria levels, and then that didn’t correlate with their COVID cases. There was just a large amount of bacteria in their petri dishes.”
“I think [sanitation] has been getting worse as the pandemic has been progressing,” Opritza added. “People have been a lot more lax with how they sanitize desks, and it’s definitely not as clean as it used to be.”
Disinfecting regularly, especially in areas that are often overlooked could be key to preventing the overgrowth and spread of bacteria throughout the building.
Another study demonstrated that different antibacterial cleaners could have different effects on bacteria growth. The National High School Journal of Science tested the use of nine different antibacterial cleaners on school surfaces over the course of two years. The results demonstrated that out of the nine products tested, those containing bleach and ammonium compounds were the most consistent at eliminating bacteria.
The cleaning sprays that Bio-Med uses are bleach-based, likely meaning that the cause of the growth is an issue in the frequency of cleaning and not the product used.
Still, despite the effectiveness of the cleaner, bacteria can still freely propagate if areas like the slide and microwave are left untreated. While most species of bacteria are harmless to humans, ensuring consistency in sanitizing student spaces, including those which are not currently disinfected, could be an effective way to ensure the health of the Bio-Med community going forward.
Building Administrator Joe Boal did not respond to The Hive’s query.
SEPTEMBER 2022 — Amy Jennings made her way onto the Rootstown campus this school year as the newest Career Technical Education teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy. She’s the health pathway instructor working to prepare the freshmen for health science and technology in addition to preparing the sophomores for bioscience research development. Despite landing where she is now, she took a winding route to get to Bio-Med, being called to both nursing and teaching.
Jennings started her college career when she was 19 by becoming a veterinary technician (vet tech) on and off for about two years as she also was taking courses in education. This was her first foray to understand where she wanted to go with her career and eventually, she found that teaching was what really called to her, despite her aspirations to work as a veterinarian.
She taught horseback riding lessons for years as a teen and found that she really enjoyed the prospect of being able to help others learn. After this discovery, she attended The University of Akron — the same school she was training to be a vet tech at — to earn a Bachelor’s of Science and a Bachelor’s of Education and graduated in 1994. After graduation, she began teaching educating middle-schoolers from grades five-eight.
But things quickly changed when motherhood fell upon her.
Ultimately, Jennings found that being a mom and supporting her family was most important to her as her children grew up, causing her to give up vet school. Jennings still persevered as a teacher during this time. After staying home for 10 years, and teaching for eight, two of her five children started experiencing undiagnosed medical symptoms.
“I didn’t like not knowing exactly what was going on,” Jennings added.
She had always been the go-to medic in the family, due to a health scare with her grandmother. Because of this experience, Jennings was comfortable researching the conditions and sharing the facts with family. After her children began displaying unexplained symptoms, the need for Jennings to continue researching medical mysteries increased.
But eventually, she hit a research wall and couldn’t do anymore without a college degree in a medical field.
Jennings decided to go the full nine yards, reflecting on the decision as a positive and has continued to work as a nurse for 13 years to the present.
Taking UA courses, she first got her registered Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license. She claims this was based around wanting to understand the difference between what she classified as, “mom-fears,” and true emergencies.
“I like being in the know. I like helping people,” she admitted.
She then transferred to nursing school at UA, craving more in-depth medical knowledge. After graduating from UA with her medical degree, she earned a position at the Akron Children’s hospital. Jennings specialized in hospice, pain management, and pediatrics. With pediatrics at Akron Children’s, she moved into the burn unit and intensive care unit until COVID-19 hit.
With an increased demand for health safety post-pandemic, she used her nursing degree to work in school health (a branch of nursing that connects to school nurses or medical assistants) which allowed her to realize how she truly missed teaching like she did during her early motherhood.
“Nursing is all about educating your patients, so it matched the education background I was already into,” Jennings shared.
She found the Bio-Med position and combined her two passions. Even though each line of work holds complex standards, Jennings said that it was easier to come back into teaching having had a nursing career.
She elaborated, “One of the main jobs of a nurse is being an educator. The doctor will write the orders, and a nurse comes in and goes over things with you and your family, making sure you understand. We’re the ones that teach you how to do it.”
Everything that Jennings’ has learned, she’s found meaning behind. Jennings encourages this same mindset in her personal teachings.
She explained, “I want to see value in it. I do feel that there is value in everything we learn here. Whether it’s for our brain, our heart, or our hands.”
Jennings finds her personal values within her family, hoping to influence their journey positively. With only one child, a freshman, at home, two in college, and one running an office for eye care, home life has slowed down.
Despite her love for family, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Jennings struggled to balance a family on top of trying to create opportunities for herself.
“I have certainly learned the differences between going to college with minimal responsibilities versus running your home and raising children while getting a degree,” she said.
With all of the seriousness needed in a professional environment, Jennings has also learned to be able to laugh at herself a lot and brush things off.
“I think first and foremost, it’s important to not take things personally. When someone is upset, when a parent is upset, it’s not about me…. Sometimes, we just need somebody to listen.”
Helping people had been one of her dreams, but Jennings also wanted to help animals, specifically horses. This passion also inspired her vet tech era. Growing up, Jennings found her core group of friends at Camp Y-Noah, the Akron YMCA’s overnight camp located in Green, Ohio.
Starting at the age of 16, she spent eight years there, with her and her best friend acting as the equestrian directors of the camp.
“Our backgrounds, where we grew up, [and] our parents were completely different,” she said of her fellow campers “If we were together in high school, we wouldn’t be friends, but we had a shared love for horses, and the job that we were doing was valued.”
After Jennings and friend, Christy Engler, left, the herd of horses the two cared for started aging to the point where they were overworked. This is when she officially started her horse rescue center on top of already working as a nurse. This was located on her property until an opportunity for larger land was introduced by a friend.
“We started buying [horses] and retiring them. We got 15+ horses and just retired them, hospiced them when they started to get ill, and gave them a good end of life,” she recalled.
Jennings also currently has three dogs, a cat, and, at one point in time, even had a monkey.
“Basically, with kids and animals, if they need a home, if they need a spot, they come to us. I’ll feed you and take care of you, try to get you set up for success,” Jennings explained.
Although taking a hectic path, Jennings showed no regret for how things ended up for her life.
“I would not change being a mom, nor would I change believing in love,” she confessed. “I would not change being loyal to the people that you call family — DNA related or not. I wouldn’t change the education I’ve had.”
Jennings gave a final bit of advice, saying, “If you have a passion, go for it. Set goals and don’t make any rash decisions. Find a team that is supportive and believes in you. And, especially, know your resources. You don’t have to know everything, you just need to know where to find the answers.”
SEPTEMBER 2022 — In addition to pending changes regarding parking passes, student drivers are expected to park in a different lot this school year.
Juniors and seniors at Bio-Med received an email from Bio-Med administrators regarding parking passes Sept. 1. This email served as a reminder to purchase a parking pass, as only 11 students have bought one thus far.
“NEOMED [the Northeast Ohio Medical University] will soon be issuing tickets for vehicles without permits,” the email read
Lieutenant Shawn Parker, an officer for NEOMED’s campus police stated, “Currently, Bio-Med students are to park in LOT A which is on the south side of campus. ” He later stated, “This is the planned permanent parking area for Bio-Med. If we find better parking alternatives, this may change.”
Parents and students were alerted to this change during the beginning of school through a school newsletter.
Parker continued, “NEOMED Police and Bio-Med administration continue to work together to make your school arrival and dismissal safe and efficient. As we note problems, we work to find good solutions.”
Zach Totaro, a Bio-Med junior, said, “I have mixed feelings about the parking situation as a whole. Last year, the parking lot was a mess. There were people walking and driving in every direction and, to be honest, it seemed like a safety issue as well as being very inconvenient. It is much calmer this year so far with parents picking up in a different parking lot. I think splitting it up like that was a good idea,” said Totaro.“The longest I’ve ever had to wait to get out of the parking lot [Last year] was probably about 10 minutes. It wasn’t a problem for me last school year, but now that I have work after school, it would be a huge issue if wait times were still like that. Thankfully, this school year, I hardly have to wait at all, maybe a couple of minutes at most.”
Totaro later commented that he thinks this is because of the new change in lots.
As Bio-Med currently has access to one parking lot for student drivers, many are concerned that it’ll get more crowded when sophomores get their licenses throughout the course of the year and begin driving to school.
Gianna Walker, a junior, expressed her concerns, stating, “I think it’s gonna get really cramped. And there’s not going to be a lot of room to get out. It is kind of cramped now… but I think it’ll probably get worse, and the wait might take a little bit longer, even with just 25 [more] people driving.”
Morgan Whiteman, another junior, agreed with Walker.
“Although this does not affect me on a daily basis, I know multiple people who just wait in their cars for half an hour before even attempting to leave,” Whiteman said. “I’ve heard both parents and students alike complaining about how many people are in such a hurry to get out that they speed through the parking lot. This is an obvious safety hazard to both students walking and drivers. However, so far, the split parking lot seems to be more efficient.”
Parker addressed these concerns, saying, “There is plenty of space for the new drivers as they get their licenses. Currently, there’s over 70 open spaces. We do not see much of an increase during the school year for new Bio-Med drivers, as many still get dropped off by parents or take the bus. If parking space does become an issue, we will re-evaluate and look at our options.”
Students are also required to have a parking pass to park on NEOMED’s campus.
Parker explained the reasoning behind this, stating, “Since Bio-Med parks in a restricted lot, we need to make sure that the cars parked there belong in that lot.”
He later continued, “It is very important that we are able to identify and locate vehicle operators when needed.”
NEOMED Police Officers monitor traffic and parking for violations.
“Punitive enforcement is not our goal, but we do use citations if voluntary compliance is not working. Citations are $25 but raise to $50 if not paid within 30 days,” Parker explained.
Parking enforcement is not the main concern of NEOMED’s police department, but it is something that is enforced regularly. Bio-Med students have been cited before, and it is their responsibility to obtain a parking pass. If a student fails to get a pass, this could result in university fines, state citation fines, or possible towing.
Students are currently required to have a parking pass to be able to drive to school and park in our parking lot. Those who need a parking pass should contact Maggie Huffman, who is located at the councilors corner desk. Huffman will help arrange payments and email the student a form that will capture a contract and have vehicle information for the student. Once everything has been submitted, a pass will be issued to the student and dropped off to the administration for distribution.
Walker shared her thoughts regarding the price.
“I think it’s a little bit expensive, and maybe not accessible for all families. Not a lot of families can afford the $156 dollars to get a parking pass, and some people don’t have access to a bus,” she said.
Parking pass prices were set by NEOMED and are applied to NEOMED and Bio-Med’s students and employees. The funds from the passes are used for the upkeep of campus roadways as well as parking lot maintenance and repairs.
SEPTEMBER 2022 — Ohio’s new graduation requirements for the class of 2023 and beyond allow students a more customized high school experience through earning seals on their diplomas. The seals allow students to show proof of proficiency in various areas and are earned by meeting the state or locally defined requirements.
“Students need two seals to graduate. One of them has to be a state defined seal, and the other one can be a state or locally defined seal,” explained Jacquelyn Collins, the school counselor for grades 10-12 at Bio-Med Science Academy.
Students get to choose which seals to pursue. It is possible for a high school student to earn all twelve seals on their diploma as long as they take one of the required routes, which could include earning a score of proficient or higher on end-of-course exams, earning a B or higher in a CCP class, or earning at least proficient on Advanced Placement exams. At this point in time, students can only earn seven seals through Bio-Med, all of which are state seals.
The local seals have not yet been defined by Bio-Med or approved by the board. These seals are the Community Service, the Student Engagement, and the Fine and Performing Arts seals. Collins said she does not know when information on the locally defined seals will be released.
Once they are decided, Collins said, “[The requirements] will definitely be located in a place where everyone will be able to access [them], including parents.”
In an Aug. 25 interview, Graham Wood, the Graduation and College in High School Administrator from the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Graduate Success, said that he encouraged districts to define their seals: “We hope that schools have [their local seals] established at this point. The information has been available to them since July 2019. Though COVID has caused some schools to fall behind, most schools have established [local seals].”
Even if local seals aren’t defined, state seals are well within students’ reach.
Wood said, “Schools may not offer all state seals, since not all courses are available in different schools, but if a student does the work to earn a seal, then a school is required to award it to them.”
One example of this is foreign language at Bio-Med. Though Bio-Med does not offer any in-house foreign language courses, if a student does the work to earn the seal of Biliteracy on their diploma, Bio-Med, as well as any other school, can reach out to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages to gain access to the assessment they need, so students who’ve learned a foreign language can be awarded the seal.
“Students can also use CCP classes to help earn seals their school doesn’t offer curriculum for,” Wood added. “There’s a number of possibilities for students to earn these seals. I think that students should know their options and what’s out there. Students should explore the best thing for them.”
Without taking CCP classes, Bio-Med students still have the ability to earn other seals, like the Citizenship seal, the College-Ready seal, the Technology seal, and the Honors Diploma.
According to Wood, “schools can create their own coursework that still proves students meet state standards and should be awarded the [technology] seal.”
Since Bio-Med’s technology classes fit those requirements, graduating at Bio-Med ensures students earn the state defined technology seal. Currently, 100% of seniors have received the technology seal on their diploma and 97% have earned the science seal. The remaining 3% of seniors will be responsible for earning an alternative second seal to meet graduation requirements.
Wood noted this ability to customize curriculum as a benefit to the seals.
“The more students can tailor their high school experience, the better off they’ll be for their future, whatever they choose to do,” he said.
Tessa Wood, a senior at Bio-Med, shared her concerns about the seals, saying, “I think the seals mean making a degree harder to obtain.”
Tessa was glad she met the new requirements, since she graduates this year and wasn’t aware anything had changed.
“Prior to looking them up, I had no idea that was a thing. I thought I just had to have certain scores on certain tests as long as [I recieved] my required credits.”
Andrew Roshong, a junior at Bio-Med, had a similar experience.
“I overheard about [the seals] and did my own research on the Ohio Department of Education website. I understand that [the seals] are requirements for graduating in the state of Ohio, but I’m not sure about much else,” he said.
Roshong expressed concern regarding the lack of information, saying, “I’m not sure that adding another graduation requirement to the state is the best idea, especially when we are not told very much about them. I had to learn about this very important topic through the grapevine rather than through official channels. It is unsettling to say the least. What other vital info could we, as students, be missing? I would like some better communication with the administration about this topic, and for them to address this, and other, issues.”
Emma Brown, a junior at Kent Roosevelt High School, explained that her school communicated the new requirements last year.
“We’ve met with our guidance counselor already. Yeah, we aren’t graduating until next year, but I’m glad we had the meeting. It was kind of nerve racking to have new things I have to earn, but I’m glad I know about them in advance, so I can fix my schedule next year to classes that would help me get certain seals so that graduation isn’t a problem,” Brown said.
Kent Roosevelt defined their local seals and put their state seals into more student-friendly terms on a document that their students have had access to since Jan. 12.
Brown continued, “I’m glad we have the document. I like being able to see my options, so that I can choose classes with graduation requirements in my mind instead of just choosing classes and hoping they meet the requirements for two different seals. Especially the state seals — those seem a lot more difficult to earn. I feel like I actively have to try to earn them.”
Graham Wood thinks that students should “utilize their counselors” to find out information about the graduation seals.
Collins will be meeting with seniors mid-September to speak with them about credits, graduation pathway, diploma seals, and honor diplomas.
Graham Wood concluded, “The diploma with seals will have students tackle more for skill building which should help them see through graduation and identify more opportunities.”
SEPTEMBER 2022 — Monkeypox infection rates are rising, according to the Ohio Department of Health, and many Bio-Med students wonder how the virus will impact their educational experience during the school year.
The Center of Disease Control (CDC) explained that monkeypox is currently known to spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or their bodily fluids, touching surfaces recently touched by someone with monkeypox, contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person, sexual intercourse, and from an infected animal’s scratch, bite, or product, such as meat or milk.
“I know it’s a rash that started mainly on rats and monkeys in Africa, but I also know it spread to multiple different countries. I heard a bit about it spreading through populations with men in the LGBTQ community, but I don’t recall if that was a misconception,” said Katherine Lennox, a junior at Bio-Med Science Academy.
There is currently a misconception that monkeypox only spreads among men in the LGBTQ+ community, and while the virus can affect any person, it is currently most prevalent in the gay male population, according to the World Health Organization.
“Monkeypox can be spread between any people with prolonged skin-to-skin contact,” said NPR’s Ari Shapiro, “but the reality is, this disease is not affecting everyone equally. According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, 99% of the people diagnosed with monkeypox are men and 98% of those who specify their sexual orientation are men who have sex with men.”
Many high schoolers feel that the virus wouldn’t have a significant impact on the student body, because there is less of a chance for sexual transmission.
Lennox doesn’t think monkeypox would affect students within the high school age range, saying, “I don’t think it’s a major concern in our age group, and I don’t think that there’s a lot of ability for it to spread through direct contact.”
Kay Conley, the Director Of Administration and Support Services at the Stark County Health Department, explained that, because of how monkeypox spreads, it is unlikely to have outbreaks in schools.
“Monkeypox is not easily spread like COVID was. It’s transmitted from person to person through close contact,” said Conley. “For the general population, the risk of getting monkeypox is low, including schools, early care and education programs, and other settings serving children and adolescents.”
The recommended prevention plan from the CDC includes sanitizing surfaces and promoting behavioral changes, including abstinence and contact tracing of sexual partners in areas with a high case rate, especially for men in the LGBTQ+ community. Bio-Med follows the guidelines by encouraging students and teachers to wipe their desks with disinfectant at the end of each class.
Another prevention method for monkeypox is the JYNNEOS vaccine, also known as the smallpox vaccine. Doses of this vaccine are currently being distributed to locations with the highest number of cases, such as New York and California.
Conley commented on how people can prevent monkeypox in their community.
“In Stark County at this time, cases are very low. Prevention measures are typical of all communicable diseases: Avoid close skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox; Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used (Do not share eating utensils/cups or handle bedding/towels clothing of a person with monkeypox.); and wash your hands often,” they said. “Also due to the data, there is a recommendation to reduce or avoid behaviors that increase risk of monkeypox exposure such as a temporary break from activities until two weeks after your second dose of vaccine. Some of these high risk activities can include having multiple sexual partners and attending private or public sex parties or events. Using condoms may offer some protection, but they alone may not prevent all exposures.”
Doctor Tara Smith is a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University’s college of public health. Public health is the science of preventing diseases in a community instead of in individual patients.
Smith explained how public health organizations are attempting to make it easier for the public to find the most current, reliable information on monkeypox.
Smith reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “I’ve talked about plagues and pandemics for a long time and never wanted to see one first hand. At the beginning of 2020, I tried to see what the pandemic plan was for Kent State and Ohio. I ended up working with Kent for virus-response protocols. I also ended up working with public health agencies and did a lot of communication about the pandemic. I was a resource for the history of plagues, the history of coronaviruses, and updating policies throughout the pandemic. I was on the front lines in administrative response and communication.”
Smith also discussed how monkeypox may look compared to COVID.
“I hope it will be less prevalent,” said Smith. “We are already seeing in New York City that cases of monkeypox are slowing and declining due to the response of vaccination campaigns. And so far, we have only seen one large outbreak of monkeypox. We’re also not starting at ground zero like we were with COVID-19; Nigeria already has experience with monkeypox, and there is already a vaccine. I also have hopes that public health officials are getting knowledge to the public on the spread of monkeypox.”
Many students worry about whether monkeypox will lead to another pandemic outbreak, like the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.
Lennox attended school virtually during the 2020–2021 school year to protect an immunocompromised member of her household. She was unsure if she would do so in the event of a large monkeypox outbreak.
“It depends on if there is a rise in the number of monkeypox-related fatalities, and it depends on how Ohio and Portage handle it and on the information at the time,” she said.
Rootstown High School sophomore Kyo Williams also attended school virtually during the 2020–2021 school year due to an immunocompromised family member.
“I know what monkeypox is, and I am fairly familiar with the side effects,” stated Williams. “If an outbreak were to happen, I personally would go into lockdown again.”
Williams explained that with changing guidelines for the virus, they feel the best thing to do is to try to isolate themself.
Williams stated, “As a person with a guardian who is at a higher risk of contracting viruses, I just want to take whatever extra precautions I can in an academic setting.”
Bio-Med freshman English teacher Brian McDonald shared this feeling. McDonald was also quarantined for a portion of the 2020–2021 school year to protect an immunocompromised member of his family. He observed that many of his students chose to remain virtual for the school year after the initial COVID-19 quarantine.
“It was a tricky year, because everyone was virtual for the first portion of the year. For my family, our advice was to remain isolated until we were all fully vaccinated,” he said.
Many reflected on the COVID-19 protocols after initial quarantine and fear that those methods may be inadequate at preventing all viruses, including monkeypox.
Wiliams said, “While being online was a huge preventative measure for myself, in the case of a future virus, I would still ask more of my school when it comes to contact-tracing and supporting students in that situation.”
McDonald agreed, saying, “I wasn’t really confident in all of the precautions we took as a school. I know people were trying to do their best, but as a teacher, you are in close contact with a lot of students throughout the day, and not having a vaccine readily available was problematic when there were outbreaks.”
Elissa Fusco, the Biomedical Engineering teacher at Bio-Med, felt as though the school was more successful than most schools in virus prevention, but that at some point, the virus was nearly impossible to prevent.
“I’m lucky that my room is big, so I had enough space for social distancing and the tables in my room are already three feet apart,” said Fusco. “In terms of all viruses, Bio-Med helped to provide teachers with resources. I’m grateful we had masks offered and provided for us.”
Fusco also explained how she is personally adapting to the new guidelines on monkeypox while being in a health-oriented class.
“I think that it is really important to make sure that you are using straightforward, reliable, and current information,” expressed Fusco. “And I try to tell my students that in class and teach them about where they are finding their information.”
Lacy Schulte is the Clinic Coordinator of School Health at Bio-Med. Schulte helps to advise virus protocols in Bio-Med. She also works at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Schulte explained how she keeps the guidelines up-to-date with the changing information on monkeypox and COVID-19.
“We do a lot of evidence-based research, and a lot of the administration team at Akron Children’s Hospital will do the research and relay the information to us. Trying to keep up to date on all new treatments and prevention plans,” she said.
Schulte expressed her current understanding of the monkeypox outbreak as a healthcare employee.
“So far, it doesn’t sound like the virus is likely to put someone in a critical condition, and so far it sounds pretty treatable. I don’t know too much about the treatment regimen, but it doesn’t seem like the scope of the virus would be anything like COVID was,” said Schulte.
Smith concluded, “I wrote an article on monkeypox early on in order to try and close some of the miscommunications about the virus. I think we need to keep emphasizing that the information we have is current from when it was presented. People need to realize that information evolves with viruses. What was once true about vaccines and masks has changed, and sometimes faulty information that’s presented was actually correct for the time. There is change involved in pandemics —flexibility, unknowns, and questions that are being answered and better understood all of the time.”
To find more information on monkeypox and other viruses, the CDC’s website can be found here.