Orca-strating a Trip to Alaska

by Jesse Mitchell, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — The sound of coastal water erupts as it crashes against the shore, spraying up and engulfing the air. Off in the distance, the sea starts to rise and bulge before it explodes, giving way to a beautiful orca or gray whale leaping out of the water for a couple seconds before it disappears with a huge splash below the waves.

This is the mental image that some Bio-Med Science Academy juniors have envisioned and dreamed about, and it’s a reality that’s coming true for six students due to Bio-Med Partnership with the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). Selected students will be given the opportunity to travel to Sitka, Alaska in early Nov. 2023 to attend the Sitka Whale Festival, in an opportunity that is lovingly referred to as “Whales” or the “Alaska Trip” by junior students.

Pictured is the skeleton of Ambulocetus Natans, or the Walking Whale as it is popularly referred to on the NEOMED campus. The Walking Whale became NEOMED’s official mascot in 2013, chosen because one of its professors, Dr. Hans Thewissen, first discovered this skeleton in Pakistan in 1993. That was where he established himself in the world of marine biology and became well-known for his research into the study of whales. Dr. Thewissen has since continued to do and share his research into the field of study, especially at the Sitka WhaleFest in Alaska, where he will take Bio-Med students next year.  Photo by Alexandra Levy, staff writer

This opportunity allowed any students in the class of 2024 to sign up for participation in a program run by NEOMED’s professors, Dr. Hans Thewissen and Dr. Lisa Cooper. The opportunity comes with the obligation of taking a three-week class called Whales, Seals, Evolution & the Oceans during a period known as accelerated term. During accelerated term, students get to take elective classes in place of their normal curriculum. Students in this class will be able to learn about whales one-on-one with Thewissin, who discovered the Walking Whale.

Interviews with Thewissen Oct. 17 decided on the potential ten candidates. Of these 10 candidates, only six would be chosen to be a part of the team, and the other four would be backups if one of the six could not go During these interviews, the students had to take part in  an informal discussion speaking to why they wanted to be on the team and give Thewissen a chance to evaluate them in person.

“The interview was very stressful… and nerve racking,” junior Kathrine Lennox described.

Junior Logan Cook said, “I put a lot of work into preparing for that interview, and I am extremely grateful that it paid off.”

The six students selected to go on to Alaska are Logan Cook, Clare Haddon, Maya Kline, Katherine Lennox, Andrew Nguyen, and Morgan Whiteman. The alternatives for the trip are students Abbigail Crawford, Nathan Pastor, Bristol White, and Ella Wright.

“I don’t know many of [the people going on the trip] super well, but I think it’d be fun. It’ll be a nice opportunity to make new friends,” said Lennox.

Wright, when she found out she was an alternate, expressed that it was “a little disappointing to not be able to take part in the opportunity that [Thewissen] is chaperoning and in charge of…. I would have liked to get in. Second runner up is not great,”

A disappointing feeling is one shared amongst the four who are alternatives on the team, but despite that, they remain just as appreciative and grateful as the entire group is for the opportunity.

Cook explained his reason for taking advantage of the opportunity“When I was presented with this — while it’s not necessarily the exact biology field I want to pursue, as it is marine biology, and that’s not exactly where my interests lay — it is still biology, and as someone who wants to pursue that field and opportunity where I could do that with two world class experts… was far too good to pass up,” he said.

Like Cook, who plans to study biological engineering after graduating from Bio-Med, many of the other students are using this as an opportunity to explore something they wouldn’t have considered before.

“I thought it would be interesting just to learn more about [marine biology], because it might be something I’m interested in in the future, and also, it just sounded like a fun opportunity,” said Lennox.

For Nguyen, one of his most significant reasons for applying was, “It will also look really good on my resume…and also who doesn’t really want to go to Alaska?” he asked.

Nguyen is an avid snowboarder, as he described himself as a “big snow guy,” and he is looking forward to using the trip as a way to explore Alaska.

For many, being able to explore Alaska was one of the consequential reasons to apply, with the program offering “an all-travel and lodging expense paid trip to Sitka, Alaska,” as assistant Chief Administrative Officer Lindsey McLaughlin wrote in an email to juniors.

The Sitka Whalefest’s website describes the event as, “not like most science symposiums, and it’s really for the public and for everybody who really likes marine environments.”

The heart of the Whalefest is a three-day symposium where speakers and scientists from around the world come together to discuss their research and to talk about marine environments around the world. For the students selected, they will be a part of a presentation at the symposium along with participating in other events and lectures to enrich themselves in current marine biology research.

“I think the actual trip itself [will be the best part], because I looked into the festival, and it seemed really fun. And the symposium [too], watching the presentations that other people do is going to be wonderful,” shared Lennox.

Along with the free trip, there is the possibility that four of the selected students will receive an internship with Thewissen.

“Working with the professors and the opportunity to be their intern… I plan to give it my all, and I plan to do my best and hopefully impress. I’m just excited for the challenge,” said Cook.

Cook concluded, “One of the blessings of being at Bio-Med is that they structured this for us, and then they provided this opportunity for us. I don’t know that, as an individual student, I ever would have been able to pursue and accomplish this.”

Arts & Culture Bio-Med Education General Interest

Bio-Med Campus Safety

by Logan Cook, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — Bio-Med Science Academy’s location on the Northeast Ohio Medical University campus provides the school with a unique security situation. Bio-Med’s security comes from the on-campus NEOMED Police Department.

The NEOMED Police Department and its officers have full law enforcement authority and powers of arrest from the state of Ohio. According to the department’s website, it was founded in 2015 with seven officers. The department currently employs nine officers and is managed by Chief of Police Kari Williams.

Pictured is a NEOMED Police Department cruiser outside of NEOMED’s NEW Center. Officer Bussinger said the department has two fully outfitted cruisers which includes the paint job, light bar, and radio. Photo provided by Chief of Police Kali Williams.

On its website, the department states, “The Northeast Ohio Medical University Police Department is committed to developing and maintaining a safe and peaceful campus environment.”

The department is open at all times, supplementing the night shift with contract security officers. These security officers work the front NEOMED security and assist in patrolling campus.

The department is not currently operating at full capacity, having open positions for full and part-time officers. Though, even without a complete staff, the department continues to provide services for the campus.

Patrolman Michael Bussinger said, “We provide security for the entire campus, inside and outside, [NEOMED] and Bio-Med. We can handle vehicle assistance…. We can provide security escorts to students or we help faculty members who are locked out of their rooms. We also [manage] the security badges and parking passes.”

As a patrolman, Bussinger spends most of his shifts walking or driving around campus, searching for safety issues. Bussinger comes up to Bio-Med twice a day to patrol the school.

The department does not have a School Resource Officer (SRO) dedicated to Bio-Med. Bussinger and a fellow officer fill the role of an SRO while on their patrols. The department hopes to hire a new SRO for Bio-Med in the future.  

Pictured is the logo of the NEOMED Police Department. It includes the logo of the university, including the year the it was founded: 1973. Photo provided by Chief of Police Kali Williams.

Bussinger noted, “We do have a Sheriff’s Deputy [on campus]; she’s the [Portage County] School Resource Officer, so she can handle Bio-Med. She does [handle] Rootstown and Ravenna high schools — all the schools in the area. We don’t have an SRO of our own, but we do have her here.”

According to Bussinger, the busier times on campus are often the morning and afternoon when Bio-Med students are arriving at and departing campus.

“A lot of the issues that we had [with Bio-Med] were logistic issues with getting [students into Bio-Med], having to get students from one end of campus to the other. It’s a security issue,” said Bussinger. “For the first few years, we had a lot of issues with traffic. This year, we’re actually running smoothly.”

Bio-Med administration has direct contact with the NEOMED Police Department. This includes having Bussinger’s cell phone number, so they are able to contact him at any time.

Bussinger said the department has a mutual aid agreement with the Portage County Sheriff’s Office. The NEOMED Police Department is able to handle calls off campus for the county, and the sheriff’s office is able to handle calls on campus. The department also cooperates with local departments in Portage County.

“[The department] has partnered with the Kent Police Department. We did a joint training session in Kent with them. We’ve done training with the Rootstown Fire Department. We work with a lot of the area departments and back them up on calls, and if we ever need them to, they would back us up here too,” said Bussinger.

Across the United States, public schools have been receiving calls threatening schools with bombs or shootings. These threats are, most of the time, unfounded and untrue. However, the serious nature of them often requires evacuation of the school and sometimes calling a Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team. The trend has been termed “Swatting.”

Bussinger noted that, while the department has not had to deal directly with the Swatting crisis, it does have a procedure in place. The procedure was created by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice, detailing what to do when a department receives a threat to a school.

“It’s a guideline that lays out the step-by-step process on how to handle school threats, both for the college and Bio-Med…. The high school procedure is a few more steps. [Due to the] recent Swatting, the department did review the procedure again, and we have a training in January with the Kent PD to cover it as well,” said Bussinger.

The campus’ location in a small, rural area helps with the safety of the community. Bussinger previously worked at the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, an urban department overseeing Youngstown. He said the call volume is drastically less at NEOMED and allows for more community engagement.

Bussinger said he spends much of his time connecting with NEOMED students, faculty, and Bio-Med when he can. He believes building the trust between the department and the campus’ population is an important part of the department’s operations.

Bio-Med General Interest

Bio-Med’s Art Club is the Missing Piece to Its Art Education

by Avery Miller, staff writer


NOVEMBER 2022 
— Art Club at Bio-Med Science Academy is run by Abigayle Goodwin, the art instructor for grades seven through 12 and is a place where the students can continue to grow in their artistic abilities even without a structured art class.

Pictured are six of the the sophomores’ most recent art projects. For this project, art integrated with history and the students had to create propaganda posters, inspired by those from World War II, about a topic of their choosing. Photo by Avery Miller, staff writer.

Since there is no art class built into students’ schedules, one fine arts credit is earned throughout their time in high school through artistic integrated projects, so students may earn their credit while reinforcing a topic from a different class.

“In the true spirit of multidisciplinary learning, the fine arts curriculum is fully integrated into each grade level’s curriculum. The art teacher works closely with each grade-level team to support both grade-level content and art standards through integrated project-based learning,” said Lindsey McLaughlin, Bio-Med’s assistant chief administrative officer, “Such an integrated approach supports the vision and mission of the school.”

Goodwin, believes that the majority of students want a more in-depth art class.

Goodwin said, “I think the demographic that this school gets are the kids that want to take art. They want to take music. They could’ve been [in] band. I had a student telling me the other day about how they wanted to take a choir accelerated term class and didn’t have room for it. That’s something they do every year for those kids, and having a three-week intensive course is amazing, but I also think it should be part of an everyday schedule.”

Kiara Krunich, a sophomore at Bio-Med agreed, adding, “I would say at least 50% of the grade wishes we had an art class. In middle school, we had an art class, and that was one of our favorite classes.”

Currently at Bio-Med, the class of 2025 earned one-fourth credit a year, the classes of 2024 and 2025 will have earned one-third credit each year by graduation, and the class of 2026 and beyond will earn one-half credit per year and not have art after 10th grade.

Abigail Ritondaro, a junior at Bio-Med, disagrees with how Bio-Med incorporates art. She thinks that when it comes to art projects, students are more concerned with meeting requirements rather than being creative.

Pictured are a few of the self portraits done by the juniors. The portraits were created by repeatedly writing one word of each students’ choice. These portraits are one of the many art projects displayed around the school. McLaughlin said she has been, “absolutely blown away at the amount of incredible work that our students have done so far this school year under the support of Ms. Goodwin. The new displays provide not only beauty for our school but also an understanding of the hard work and creativity of our students and staff.” Photo by Avery Miller, staff writer.

“I feel like we’re not earning our art credit,” said Ritondaro. “We’re not really given the opportunity to earn an art credit. We’re kind of just handed it, because we do art projects in class. I genuinely hate the way we do art here.”

Krunich had similar thoughts about her art credit.

She elaborated, “I did the projects, and I got the grade I think I deserved, but I don’t think I got the experience I needed for [the credit].”

Ritondaro added, “With Bio-Med’s art, it’s just bland. There’s no creativity. There’s no ‘Hey this is me.’ It’s just ‘This is what I can do.’”

At the beginning of the year, 70 students across all grades at the Rootstown campus signed up for Bio-Med’s art club. According to Goodwin, there are more kids each time the art club is held every Wednesday and Thursday. Goodwin doesn’t want art club to be “inaccessible or exclusive.”

Goodwin believes this quote from Albert Einstein displayed on the back of her door is a good reminder of why the arts is important in the STEM community. She said, “It takes a certain amount of problem-solving and creativity to do the things that people in STEM are doing.”

So far, Art Club has worked on crocheting and covered different ways to paint on a canvas. “We’re doing Inktober right now, so we’re talking about drawing and ink drawing and we started crocheting the other day, which people were really interested in.”

Inktober is a month-long drawing challenge during October created by Jake Parker in 2009 to improve his ink drawing skills and create positive drawing habits, according to Inktober.com. Those who choose to participate often post their work on social media with the hashtag #inktober, or for this year specifically, #inktober2022.

“Some kids just like that they can sit down and make their own art with people that are like-minded, and then if they need advice, they can come to me and be like, ‘How do I do this?’ Sometimes we do more in-depth stuff,” said Goodwin.

According to Goodwin, so many students have joined art club that it’s getting too difficult to do structured activities. “It’s harder to do things now because [the students] are all on different [skill] levels.”

Goodwin described art club as an opportunity for both fun and in-depth art, but a huge benefit of a structured art class would be for students to have a creative outlet.

“There’s a lot of kids here that would really benefit from having [a creative outlet],” said Goodwin.

Tyson Brissey, a seventh-grader at Bio-Med, also sees art as a creative outlet. Art helps him express his strong feelings and emotions, and he expects that a structured art class would help students do the same.

“I think [art] is very important, because it gives people creativity, specifically in a school form, or it’s also a leeway for a lot of people to show their emotions,” commented Krunich.

Ritondaro values art and believes art allows people to explore who they are.

She said, “Personally, I love art. It’s everything to me, and I don’t like how we don’t have an art class. That’s how I express myself. I’m a creative individual.”

Goodwin thinks a structured art class at Bio-Med “would break up the monotony.” She thinks that having STEM courses is important, but a consistent art class with a relaxed environment would allow students to work on a certain technique for a week straight and finish feeling a sense of accomplishment. Goodwin explained that doing something in a classroom is still art, “but it’s never going to be going to art class and spending three weeks learning a specific technique.”

Brissey believes that a structured art class would encourage those who enjoy art to continue with it instead of their art getting put off due to assignments.

Ritondaro thinks students are missing out by not having a structured art class.

“There are different kinds of art we could be learning, and we’re not doing them. We could have the next Leonardo DaVinci, but we wouldn’t even know,” said Ritondaro.

Goodwin expressed, “STEM and the arts go hand in hand, which is why a lot of places have adapted to STEAM. People that can think on this level consistently tend to be more creative.”

Ritondaro sees the connection between STEM and the arts clearly, adding, “I want to be a surgeon, and saving a life, that’s art right there.”

Though Bio-Med is considered a STEM and not a STEAM school, McLaughlin said, “The arts are foundational to STEM as an approach to teaching and learning and to the STEM disciplines. They’re already there, even though they’re not part of our official designated acronym.”

Arts & Culture Bio-Med

Fulfilling Elective Credits Looks Different at Bio-Med

by Cadence Gutman, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — Bio-Med Science Academy has a two-week period of time between Nov. 28 and Dec. 16 that is dedicated to accelerated term, which focuses on the students interest in and out of school, as well as helping them earn elective credits towards graduation.

Pictured above from left to right is Kiara Krunich, Jackie Collins, Charmayne Polen, and Nicholas Cross, during Accelerated term arena scheduling, as Krunich schedules her third and fourth class, and as Cross schedules his first and second. Photo provided by Chloe Cook.

Charmayne Polen, Bio-Med’s chief operating officer of grades 10-12, explained how accelerated term is used to explore students and teachers’ interest.

“It’s an opportunity for students to have some choice in what they’re learning, and it gives them the opportunity to learn something they wouldn’t have otherwise.” She continued, “So they can kind of expand their knowledge and their skill set.”

Graduation Credits and Curriculum

Students earn one-tenth of a credit per accelerated term class which count towards graduation.

“It’s all about seat time, so because it’s an hour class, and it’s only for three weeks, there’s a formula… so a class that’s two hours is worth two-tenths of a credit instead of one-tenth,” she said. “It goes towards your graduation requirements, because you have to have four electives and/or accelerated term courses by graduation. So if you have five courses, you have a nice chunk of that done in one year.” 

Some accelerated term curriculum can be used as one-tenth of a credit towards a specific class, like history.

Polen elaborated, “It has to be based somehow on their [teacher’s] content area and their licenseship. So Ms. Brunner is doing a course on museum science; well, she’s a history teacher. And Mr. McDonald is doing a course on song lyrics and poetry; he’s an English teacher.”

Brian McDonald, the ninth-grade language arts instructor, has been participating in accelerated term since he started working at Bio-Med almost 10 years ago.

He explained, “It’s a way for teachers to be able to teach something that’s an interest of theirs that their normal curriculum doesn’t cover…. I did philosophy and world religion, because I was really interested in how different ideas spread around the world, and that was a neat way to talk about it for me, because that’s not really a language arts thing, that’s more of a social studies thing.”

Pictured above is the accelerated term course schedule for the 2019-2020 school year. All courses highlighted in blue were worth one-tenth of a history credit. Screenshot by Alyssa Cocchiola, editor-in-chief.

McDonald continued, “If you want to teach and lecture for two weeks, I don’t really think that’s what accelerated term should be about. I think it’s more about trying something hands-on.”

Though the majority of accelerated term courses differ from a teachers’ normal curriculum, not all teachers follow this model.

Diane Brook, the 11th-grade mathematics instructor, is extending her curriculum and coursework into accelerated term, and all juniors are required to take her math class during the term.

Junior Avery Miller is taking the double math course, which means she takes junior and senior math in one year. She is required to take both of these combined math classes during accelerated term.

Miller explained, “I dislike it a lot. I think of accelerated term as a time to decompress from the normal classes, so not only do I lose part of that stress-relief time, but also last year, we didn’t need to continue math through accelerated term, and I still picked up the curriculum very well when we returned.”

Cross-Grade Environment and Arena Scheduling

These courses also allow students to work in a cross-grade environment, from freshmen to seniors.

“It’s great to get students from across different grades working with each other. I think it’s a really valuable thing to have the juniors and seniors be able to give freshman advice. It’s just nice for them to connect,” McDonald expressed.

Bio-Med senior Skyler Earl commented on the combination of grade levels.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Earl said. “I think it’s more effective than family groups have been for the last couple years. I haven’t maintained the relationships with people I’ve met in those [accelerated term classes], but I do get to see people I know and like from clubs and other classes.”

Seniors at Bio-Med have different schedules compared to the rest of the school. They’re often in and out of the school building depending on when their core classes take place.

Earl explained, “I’ll only be [at Bio-Med] for cores five and six, so I wasn’t thrilled with the class options for those cores this year. I think in previous years, there were definitely more classes that aligned with my interest, but they aren’t bad this year…. I get to take Emergency Situations in Medical Care and Advanced Origami, and I’m going into pre-veterinary, so my interests are in science and medicine, so my classes kind of align with that.”

Arena scheduling is conducted by staff members. Students are called down to the designated area by scheduling groups. Once there, students tell a staff member which classes they want to take during first and second core. Then, they move on to another staff member to schedule their third and fourth core classes. Finally, they schedule their fifth core class. Pictured above the scheduling template students could use to keep track of their core choices. Screenshot by Cadence Gutman, staff writer.

Being a senior at Bio-Med, Earl was one of the first students allowed to choose their classes through the process of arena scheduling.

Students are split into groups for arena scheduling. These start with seniors in groups one through seven and end with freshmen in groups 27 to 37.

Before going to scheduling, students are required to have two alternate choices for each core class if the class they want to take is filled up. Lower grade levels are more likely to take their backup choices, as they are the last to schedule.

Sophomore Drake DeBolt commented, “I feel like there could be a better way to do [accelerated term scheduling], but I understand that it’s hard to find a better way, so it’s not perfect, but I think it works.” He added, “Scheduling isn’t like a big part of it [accelerated term], so I learned a lot regardless, like I learned how to use some of the adobe software we use now in Multimedia.”

The 10th grade technology instructor, Britany Hickey,explained how her first year doing accelerated term was a learning process.

She commented, “It was a good learning experience last year, and I still have kids that talk highly about the class, and some of them really enjoyed them, and at the end of the day that’s what I wanted them [the students] to get from them.”

Bio-Med

Bio-Med Science Academy’s Feminist Club Donates the “Equalitree” To The Akron Tree Festival

By Alyssa Cocchiola, editor-in-chief

NOVEMBER 2022 — Bio-Med Science Academy’s feminist club created and donated a tree to display at the 41st annual Holiday Tree Festival in Akron, OH. The tree represents the feminist movement and has been named the “Equalitree” to reflect its origins.

Pictured above are Bio-Med students Cadence Gutman, Erin Sterling, and Calvin Clark putting ornaments on the Equalitree at the John S. Knight Center. Photo provided by Jenna Bates.

The tree and all its decorations are donated to the festival and then auctioned off. All proceeds benefit Akron Children’s Hospital.

“[The tree] represents us as a club — the feminist club. Really, feminism is about equality and all the genders, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality — all that stuff. It’s a representation for equality in this physical form that you can pay attention to it,” said Cadence Gutman, a sophomore and member of Bio-Med’s feminist club.

The Equalitree can be found at the John S. Knight Center. The Holiday Tree Festival opens on Nov. 12 and closes Nov. 19. Admission is free and open to the public, and at the event, people can purchase different holiday decorations.

“The Holiday Tree Festival was started in 1982 by the Volunteers of Akron Children’s Hospital and continues today [in] our 41st year. It was our way of giving back to the community a fun event that both children and adults could enjoy doing together,” stated Mary Leuca, the 2022 Festival Chairman, in an email.

As of Nov. 9, the Tree Festival has raised around a total of $6.7 million dollars for Akron Children’s Hospital, according to Spectrum News.

Leuca added, “[People] can view our wonderful trees, wreaths, and holiday gifts that have been created, decorated and donated to the festival by various members of our community such as businesses, churches, organizations, individuals and youth groups.”

Leuca explained the process on how organizations apply to donate a tree.

“Every year, people can go to our website from August 1st thru September 25th to get the instructions and to fill out an application. We will accept applications until September 25th or until we reach our limit, whichever comes first,” said Leuca.

Bio-Med’s feminist club decided to take part in this event during the end of the 2021-2022 school year, where they primarily focused on obtaining a tree.

Pictured above is a display of some of the trees at the Akron Tree Festival. This year is the first time the festival has been held in-person for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo obtained from @AkronSummitCVB on Twitter.

“This year, we finalized who had the tree. Originally, it was going to be me, because my mom had this extra one, but someone in feminist club had this all white tree, and we thought that would look really nice, because we had all the pink stuff on it,” Gutman explained. “We got that, and over time, we slowly collected pink decorations, like a garland and pink ornaments. We hand-painted some of them. They had a female sign on them or ‘1973’ or a uterus in a couple cases. We handmade some of the stuff. We filled the bulbs with pink paper grass. We gathered all of the things we could find with our limited time and money.”

Gutman, along with sophomore Erin Sterling, junior Calvin Clark, and feminist club adviser Jenna Bates, went to the John S. Knight Center to set up the tree Nov. 8.

“The process at the John S. Knight center was pretty easy,” said Sterling. “Ms. Bates just pulled her car into a garage where we unloaded the stuff onto a cart that got pushed into the building. From there, we checked in and got our spot number, and then went to start setting up. I’m not sure about the process for reserving a spot, but once we got there we only had to fill out a couple of papers to explain what the tree was about.”

Gutman noted that the setup process took around three hours.

“There weren’t any completely white trees [except ours]. There was one that was an ombre tree, but more of them were normal green trees. There were some for in loving memory of a certain person. There was one that I really like every year from the NICU that has little pictures of all the premature babies around there with the little knit bootie socks and stuff. That was cute,” said Gutman. “There were these really elaborate trees that had a lot going on that you could tell people spent like two days setting up. It was kind of slightly intimidating at first when we got there with our single box, and never-taken-out-of-the-box tree, and our handmade ornaments.”

After setting up, the individuals representing feminist club were approached by a staff member of the event who addressed a complaint regarding the tree.

“While we were decorating the tree, I noticed people standing there looking at it multiple times, but I didn’t really think anything of it,” said Sterling. “Eventually, someone did come up and told us that there were complaints saying some of our ornaments were ‘too political.’ We ended up having to remove [two] ornaments.”

The Equalitree contained ornaments with the year 1973, referencing the Roe v. Wade court case that made abortion legal across the United States, and another ornament with a painting with a uterus. Gutman noted that ornament with the uterus painting was placed towards the bottom of the tree.

Pictured above are images of the two ornaments that were removed from the Equalitree after complaints. Photo by Alyssa Cocchiola, editor-in-chief.

“Nowhere in the rules did it say it couldn’t be political,” Gutman expressed. “Technically, there was a tree that was red, white, and blue, like the American flag, and their tree skirt was soldiers marching, and I could have been like, ‘That offends me, because it’s military propaganda, and I don’t like it.’ What gives them the right to take down our feminist stuff? Honestly, from far away it just looks like a pink tree. The only thing that’s not just a pink tree is the fact it has the female symbol at the top for our little tree topper. I was a little bit fired up.”

The representatives from Bio-Med’s feminist club were told the ornaments were “too political” due to the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade.

“We’re not saying anything about abortion,” Gutman expressed. “There’s not a little picture of a baby in the uterus…. It was just a uterus. People have uteri. It exists in our bodies. There is nothing political about our bodies.”

The 2022 Tree Decorator’s Instructions do not have any mention of not accepting trees with political messages.

The Tree Festival being a family event was also cited as reasoning behind the removal of the ornaments.

Gutman added, “If your child is like, ‘What’s a uterus?’ especially if they’re a little girl, tell them it’s just something inside of their body. There’s no shame in that. It’s not political. You don’t have to relate it back to Roe V. Wade. You don’t even have to talk about it. Just tell them it’s a part of their body.”

With the exception of the two removed ornaments, the Equalitree can still be viewed at the festival as one of the 135 trees on display.

“I think we were all pretty disappointed about having to remove these ornaments, because they were some of the more powerful ornaments on the tree that really grabbed your attention and told you what the tree was about. I also think it wasn’t right to call it political. There weren’t any rules that would make the things on the tree wrong, and there was another tree that you could argue was ‘political’ as well,” said Sterling. “Personally, I think this was a good example of why the feminist movement it important. If we’d have had an ornament with male anatomy, we would have been asked to remove it because it was ‘inappropriate,’ but when it was female anatomy, it became ‘political.’ While it’s disappointing we had to remove the ornaments, I think we still accomplished something with them, because obviously people noticed.”

Information regarding the specific times the event is open can be found on the Downtown Akron Partnership website. More information regarding the application for tree donation can be found at akronchildrens.org/treefestival.

Arts & Culture Bio-Med Politics

Students Build Sportsmanship Through Gaming: Bio-Med’s eSports Club

by Meadow Sandy, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — This is eSports’s fourth year in operation at Bio-Med Science Academy, and with the new season comes new advisers. Eric Salmen, the senior math teacher and eSports coach, and Alexis Bell, the Senior Apex Coordinator, advise eSports together.

Multiplayer video games that are played for spectators are categorized as eSports. Many high schools, including Bio-Med, offer eSports as a club to compete against other schools in their area.

Pictured above is a forum meeting that is held to ask students in eSports what they think the next step should be. Picture by Meadow Sandy, Staff Writer

“There is actually a competition. This isn’t just a playing around club. There are different leagues that we can also join, and depending on if we join specific leagues, there could be winnings and money involved that the school could get,” said Salmen.

Currently, eSports has about 55 members who meet Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Student numbers vary from week to week. Along with Salmen and Bell, four students help run the club: Seniors Tyler Williard, Aidan Veney, Emmett Bakos, and sophomore Lily Matthews.

“To make it easier, I’ll be here Wednesdays, [and] she’ll be here Thursdays, and we’re both here Fridays.” Salmen stated.

Tyler Williard acts as the community lead and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” team captain. As a community lead, Williard helps organize lessons, put together events, and keep students on track. Williard focuses on teaching students about the toxicity that may come with gaming, like throwing controllers, yelling at other players, and using rude and/or unacceptable language. Williard also teaches students how to properly handle the situation. As a team captain, he participates in competitions and specific gaming topics.

Pictured above is one of Williard’s lessons about toxicity in gaming and how students can deal with that toxicity, as well as control their own anger. Note: The iStock watermark is part of the original image provided by Williard. Photo provided by Tyler Williard.

“Due to my role as the ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ team captain, what I do will be different from what the other team captain may do with their team. For example, when we go over competitive game mechanics, I might focus on frame data and edge guarding, but the ‘Valorant’ captain may choose to look at team positioning and communication,” Williard said.

Captains might create their own lessons aside from the ones already provided to them based on what game they play and their techniques.

Aidan Veney is also a community lead. His job in eSports consists of overseeing club operations, designing activities, creating the rosters for each competitive and non-competitive team, and managing the organizational structure of the club. Veney created the current structure of the club last year and works to refine his design every season.

“I will say, a lot of the field-level operations are beyond my reach; the credit for that belongs to Lily [Matthews] and Emmett [Bakos], and all of our amazing team captains and team leads. There’s a surprising amount of work involved in running the club! I love doing it, and I’m super excited for the spring season,” Veney commented.

In the eSports club, there are two “teams”: competitive and non-competitive. Students are placed into different teams depending on the game they want to play. Currently, competitive students are playing “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” and “Valorant.” Non-competitive students also have the option to play “Valorant” and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” but also have a wider range of games to pick from.

Students are sent a survey at the beginning of the season to pick games they’re interested in. Next season, a survey will be sent out again to see if students would like to play different games, such as “Overwatch 2.”

Schools participate in competitions through eSports Ohio, a nonprofit organization and league created by teachers for students.The organization’s goal is to create a world where eSports are embraced as a positive change. It groups teams by region and schools within regions compete against each other in various games.

Vali Epling, a 10th-grader and member of eSports commented, “I like eSports, though I feel like there’s not enough time for practice sometimes, but the people tend to be nice.”

The competitive team has weekly activities, as well as competitions against other schools. The “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” team competes Wednesdays, and the “Valorant” team competes Thursdays.

The non-competitive teams usually have weekly or bi-weekly activities. These teams work to achieve a goal in a game.

Pictured above are some of the games that students are able to choose from for eSports. This list gives students many options to choose from based on different interests and skill sets. Picture obtained from the eSports Ohio website.

Salmen explained how he came to be the adviser.

“Mr. [Aaron] Ettinger asked me if I wanted to help him co-coach the eSports team. I had to decline, since it was my first year at Bio-Med, and I had four different classes to teach. I told him that in my second year, I would help him,” he said.

Ettinger was the Integrated English Language Arts 8 instructor who also advised the eSports club in the 2021-2022 school year. He left Bio-Med in 2022, and Salmen took over the eSports club.

Williard concluded, “As both a community lead and team captain, I like to see this club and my teammates succeed in their goals. The idea of the eSports club is to develop and grow skills such as teamwork, communication, and sportsmanship while bringing everyone together through a common interest. While many people see us as just a gaming club, we want to build off of that and provide students with something they can take outside of school and apply in their daily lives. That’s the principle that I and the other community leads have been running under when we create lessons and interact with the students.” 

Bio-Med Spotlight

The Reality Of Mental Health Days In Education

By Mallory Butcher, associate editor

NOVEMBER 2022 — Following the COVID-19 pandemic, a new conversation about the importance of mental health arose in the United States. Two years later, mental health remains on the minds of many, though they may be unsure of how to improve it in their own lives. One recommendation often proposed for workers and students is to take a mental health day.

For students in need of a break to recuperate their mental health during the school day, the counselor’s office at the Rootstown campus contains the sensory room, pictured above. Within the room are different types of seating, fidget toys, background noises, and other supplies that can be used to help visitors calm down. Photo by Mallory Butcher, associate editor.

A mental health day is when a student or employee takes time off, not for physical illness, but to enhance their state of mind. Such breaks can help people boost morale and productivity, according to McLean Hospital’s article, “The Benefits of Taking a Mental Health Day.”

Bio-Med Science Academy junior Colton Gotham elaborated, “It’s better to take the day off than go to school and cry. You don’t really want to be around people that you’re friends with and crush any relationships, because you’re stressed, angry, and sad.”

According to the Bio-Med Student Handbook, a student’s absence may be excused if  “the student’s physical or mental illness” prevents them from being present.

A parental guardian must notify the school through a note or email explaining the reason for the student’s absence. Extended absences for medical purposes must be documented to avoid unnecessary discipline.

“I took some [mental health days] at the end of last year. It helped me a lot. I always thought I’d waste so much time doing one, because I had stuff I needed to do, but I ended up being able to work four times as efficiently because of it,” said Cooper Lappe, another junior at Bio-Med.

Teachers, however, have a different procedure to take a mental health day.

Chief Operating Officer for grades seven through nine Randy Rininger Kline explained, “Each month, [the teaching staff will] accumulate sick time. Those are saved in our account, and we can use those.”

If educators take a mental health day at Bio-Med, most use one of their sick days. Within the state of Ohio, a teacher’s sick time accumulates at the rate of one and one-fourth days per month. This number will travel with teachers as they change jobs over to a different public school in the state, tracking from their first year to their most recent year.

Staff must provide a note from a doctor for their absence if they take five consecutive sick days.

“Typically, staff don’t have to give a reason. If somebody takes a sick day, I don’t need to know what’s going on with them,” added Rininger.

Though supported by Rininger, the Ohio Revised Code does not directly endorse teachers taking a mental health day.

Above pictures a screenshot taken from “Frontline Education,” the website teachers use when they need to call for sick or personal days. The image presents two variations of why educators may call time off. To the left displays the calendar staff must scroll through to select the date they will be taking off. The right is then two drop-down menus. The top menu contains a list of different reasons for the absence, and the bottom contains what time frame the staff member will be out, of which one of each must be selected. In the top left corner is a green button labeled, “Create Absence,” one a teacher would click on to schedule the time off. Photo provided by Randy Rininger Kline.

According to Section 3319.141 of the Ohio Revised Code, instructors “may use sick leave for absence due to personal illness, pregnancy, injury, exposure to contagious disease which could be communicated to others, and for absence due to illness, injury, or death in the employee’s immediate family.”

Due to no specific inclusion of mental health in reasons teachers may take off sick, not all of the staff feel comfortable discussing when they take mental health days.

Biomedical Engineering instructor Elissa Fusco recalled a time a few years ago when a representative from the Educational Service Center (which handles paychecks and leave for Bio-Med employees) was asked if teachers could use sick time following the death of a pet. The representative reportedly laughed at them.

In response to that event and with no clear support from the state, Fusco said, “No teacher will be honest about why they take a sick day.”

Fusco has done her best to avoid taking mental health days by breaking down the problem and creating an action plan.

“I think mental health days are something where you’ve reached a breaking point,” she explained. “You have to ask yourself, ‘How did I get to this breaking point?’ That’s where boundaries at work come in. You’re not just taking this day, that day, this day, that day. I feel like with mental health days, again, it’s something being caused by other things rather than just one pinnacle day.”

Many teachers that have worked at Bio-Med for a while, however, are open with others when they take a mental health day. One of those teachers includes freshman integrated language arts teacher Brian McDonald.

“This is the only place [I’ve worked] where I’ve actually had one of my admin suggest [mental health days] as a way to handle the stresses of grading and all this stuff going on,” McDonald recounted. “Our admin people being open to that sort of thing, I think, is important.”

Rininger said he has had no issue with staff members “abusing” sick days.

He asserted, “If you’re not feeling well, then you’re not feeling well. If you need to take a day, then take a day.”

Bio-Med Education

PBL IRL: Does Project-Based Learning Prepare Students for College?

by Randall Hatfield, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — Project-based learning has been an aspect of Bio-Med Science Academy’s mission since the school’s founding. It is one of the principles that sets the school’s curriculum apart from traditional K-12 education and is thought to improve student growth and absorption of school content. Though research has been performed on PBL efficacy in schools, less is known about the transition from PBL to the college system and the effects it may have on student learning there.

“Project-based learning is a way to get students to learn through a process of creating a project, or if it is more problem based, through the process of solving a problem,” stated Laura Sass, Bio-Med’s STEM Quality and Curriculum Coordinator.

Senior David Knarr prepares to test his group’s device for a physics class egg-drop project. The project tasks students with applying principles of physics to their device, in order to ensure that it protects an egg from a 5-meter fall. Photo by Randall Hatfield, staff writer.

The problems being addressed are meant to be complex and encourage students to learn their content in-depth and engage collaboratively with one another.

“It’s more about application of what’s being learned,” Sass explained. “Learning the content of the class, but also everything else that comes with a project — the group work, the communication, [and] conflict resolution. You’re delving into it, you’re researching it, you’re applying it, [and] you’re making your own meaning of what you’re learning.”

Sass also explained the appeal of adopting PBL over traditional learning styles.

“It’s about making the learning deeper…. Instead of being very surface level, [PBL is] narrowed in. It’s focused, but it’s deeper, and so it allows that learning to be deeper [and] students to work together in ways that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” she said.

A U.S. Department of Education literature review on PBL-focused research noted several improvements in the performance of students that use PBL as opposed to traditional learning, but it also noted that the effectiveness could vary based on the class. Some classes, like math, were more difficult to integrate projects into than classes like history or English.  

While PBL may have benefits in a more standardized environment, like the K-12 school system, the multidisciplinary environment that college offers could make the transition between them different for each area of study.

“It was definitely different transitioning from the really open and collaborative project-based learning to [working] a little bit on your own,” stated Nadim Awad, who graduated from Bio-Med in 2020.

Awad currently attends Kent State University and is majoring in Psychology.

“With psych, it’s kind of just learning one-on-one,” he explained. “I would say there are some times I have had to work in a group with a few other students in my class to assess a certain clinical trial or diagnose a certain client.”

Despite the shift in class styles, Awad noted that the interpersonal communication aspect of PBL had carried over into his area of study and assisted him greatly there.

“How to communicate with others is such an important part of psychology, especially if you are a little more — I wouldn’t say introverted — but a lot more ‘to yourself,’” he stated. “In psych, you really do have to know your client. You really have to be able to communicate with your client, [and you] have to really be able to help them out in any way shape or form.”

Eleanor Huntley, a 2019 graduate, stated that the PBL system had assisted with numerous aspects of her college education, especially due to her major in Architecture.

“I think it helped. It really really really helped, but something to note is I went from a project-based learning school to a project-based learning major, and not all students at Bio-Med do that,” she explained. “In architecture, every semester I have a project-based class, and then I present at several times during the semester, so the skills I learned in Bio-Med directly went into that.”

Huntley’s Architecture major teaches her the principles of designing buildings and public spaces. Shown here is one of her design projects from 2021, a cultural and recreational center imagined to reside in Tremont, Ohio. Photo provided by Huntley.

She stated, however, that the project-based aspect of her major had come in around halfway through her studies, before which she was assigned more traditional lecture classes.

“Your first and second years [of college] will be a lot more general no matter what your major is, really,” Huntley said. “Then [the] third and fourth years, you’re pretty much really integrated into your major and what that will be into your career.”

Sass explained her perspective on the qualities needed for an effective transition to college.

“I think it’s a balance,” she stated. “I think if you’re going into college, you do need those skills of traditional note taking, being able to sit and listen to a lecture, and the things that come along with a more traditional college education.

I think those skills of being able to talk to a professor, being able to think critically and creatively… will absolutely transfer over and be helpful,” she added.

Awad concluded with his advice for alleviating the transition between high school and college. .

“I would probably say my advice to juniors [and] seniors getting ready for college [learning] is to take it easy,” he said, “I know that sounds kind of odd because college is so important to most — if not everybody— but sometimes you just have to relax a little bit and not overwork yourself. It’s okay to take breaks and have a little bit of fun. It’s all about finding that balance!”


Bio-Med STEM

True Crime Comes to Bio-Med: James Renner Speaks to Juniors

by Logan Cook, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — James Renner, a journalist and true crime author, visited Bio-Med Science Academy’s 11th-grade class Oct. 14. Renner has authored seven published books, four of which are nonfiction and based on real events. According to his website, he is best known for his journalistic work on true crime.

Renner was invited to Bio-Med by 11th grade English Language Arts teacher and Newspaper instructor Jenna Bates. Bates worked with Renner’s wife and met Renner through her almost 20 years ago. Bates, a former journalist, shared that the two have bonded over journalism when they first met.

Pictured is Renner speaking to Bio-Med Juniors in the school’s common area. Renner spoke on his experiences writing books and articles, and took questions from students. Photo provided by Jenna Bates.

Bates explained why she asked Renner to come to speak to Bio-Med juniors: “In my junior English class, we were reading ‘Medea,’ and part of the end of the unit was to study female family annihilators. It became very clear to me that a lot of students were really into true crime. The more I thought about it, I thought, ‘I know a guy who is very involved with true crime, and maybe [he] would be good to bring in.’”

After an introduction to the juniors from Bates, Renner said, “I ended up as a journalist. That wasn’t the plan.”

Renner’s initial career plan was to become an English teacher. While majoring in English at Kent State University (KSU), Renner found being a teacher would be too much responsibility.

Renner was a member of the KSU student newspaper, The Stater, and considered switching his major to journalism. However, he was too far along in his English major to make the change.

Post-graduation, Renner became a waiter at a bar in Cleveland called Rock Bottom. Renner joked it was an appropriate name, as that was where he felt at the time. During his breaks at Rock Bottom, he would read a newspaper called Cleveland Scene. The editor of Cleveland Scene accepted submissions from the general public, and Renner began submitting articles while he worked at the bar.

Through these submissions, Renner published his first piece of investigative journalism: an article revealing where the creator of Calvin and Hobbs, Bill Watterserson, resided and why he had hid from the public eye.

“It turns out he lived right around the corner from my editor. My editor’s the one that got to track him down. It was Halloween. He dressed up as Hobbs the tiger, and his son, who was like six or seven at the time, dressed up as Calvin. They went and knocked on his door and Watterson just kind of chuckled,” said Renner.

“He’s definitely really interesting to hear talk. I’ve never read a book that is from the perspective of a journalist; it’s usually from the perspective of a family member or a friend or the police investigating. So it’s very interesting to read his perspective of it all, and to hear about his process.”

Morgan Whiteman, a Bio-Med junior.

Renner then described the beginning of his true crime coverage, first speaking about the Amy Mihaljevic abduction and murder case. Renner was 11 years old at the time of the abduction — the same age as Mihaljevic. He “fell in love” with Mihaljevic when her photo was displayed in missing ads.

“At 11 [years old], I would get on my Huffy two speed bike, and I’d ride to Westgate Mall, which is where I figured that was where the most people [would be],” reminisced Renner. “I would sit outside [the book store], and I’d scan the crowds as they walked by looking for either Amy or her abductor… If I saw somebody that looked similar [to the police composite picture], I would follow him out to his car.”

Twenty years later, Renner, reconnecting with his past, pitched an article that would recover the Mihaljevic case to his editor. Renner’s goal was to find who the top suspect in the case was. The editor approved his article, and Renner met with the lead detective on the case.

“I quickly learned why the case had never been solved, which is [that] there [were] too many men with the means and motive to commit the crime,” said Renner.

Renner began working on an article regarding the Mihaljevic cas, but realized that there was too much information for a single article and decided to author a book instead. Through a regional northeast Ohio publisher, Greg David, Renner published the book “Amy: My Search for her Killer” in 2006.

After writing “Amy: My Search for her Killer” and “The Serial Killer’s Apprentice,” a book detailing 13 other unsolved crimes Renner looked into while researching the Mihaljevic case, Renner took a break from publishing true crime nonfiction books. He published a book detailing tales of monsters, aliens, and secret societies in Ohio, along with a duo of novels before publishing his next true crime work.

Renner exited his true crime writing hiatus when the true crime genre became widely popular in the mid-2010s.

“Suddenly this podcast, ‘Serial,’ comes out and true crime becomes hugely [popular]… Since I had a couple books out and true crime started becoming this big thing, and [Amy: My Search for her Killer] started selling again, it sold more than ever,” said Renner. “So I had the thought that I wanted to write another true crime book, but I wanted to focus on a national case, you know, bigger than the Amy case.”

Pictured are two of Renner’s true crime novels. On the left is “True Crime Addict” which details Renner’s experience investigating the case of Moira Murray. On the right is “Amy,” Renner’s first true crime novel which detailed his findings of the Amy Mihaljevic case. Photo by Logan Cook, staff writer

Renner was watching a 20/20 TV Special when he found the inspiration for his next true crime book: the disappearance of Maura Murray.

“It was a Monday afternoon. [Murray] emailed her professors that there’s been a death in [her] family. That was a lie. No death in the family. She went to the ATM [and] took all the money out of her bank account. She was 22, bought way too much booze for one person, bought wine, a handful of vodka,” explained Renner. “She gets into her car, drives north into the White Mountains of New Hampshire, about 7:30 that night, she [makes] a 90-degree turn and crashes into a snowbank… Between the time she crashed and the time the police showed up, she had disappeared.”

To describe the flow of the book “True Crime Addict,” Renner said, “It’s nonfiction written as if it’s fiction, and reads like it, even though everything’s true.”

Renner then discussed how he revealed details of his own personal life during the writing process in the book. He described this as an attempt to make himself vulnerable in a book where he was revealing extremely personal details about Murray.

Students were then permitted to ask questions of Renner. He received questions about the process of turning books into visual media, journalism, where to purchase his books, his favorite part of the writing process, and how he met Bates.

Finishing his talk, Renner said, “I wish you [all] luck in your career and whatever you decide to do next, and that it’s easy to find.”

Renner walked off to applause from the 11th-grade students and thanked Bates for inviting him. He left copies of two of his true crime books with Bates for students to borrow.

Bio-Med junior and self-proclaimed true crime enthusiast Morgan Whiteman borrowed “True Crime Addict” from Bates and read it in three days.

Whiteman said, “He’s definitely really interesting to hear talk. I’ve never read a book that is from the perspective of a journalist; it’s usually from the perspective of a family member or a friend or the police investigating. So it’s very interesting to read his perspective of it all, and to hear about his process.”

For further information on or to contact Renner, students can visit JamesRenner.com.

Bio-Med Education

Bio-Med’s Board Meeting of the 2022-2023 School Year

By Ken Burchett, associate editor

NOVEMBER 2022 — Bio-Med Science Academy’s Governing Authority held a board meeting Oct. 18. The meeting covered a wide variety of topics, such as graduation seals, expansion of the lower grades, and instituting breathalyzer usage at school dances.

At Bio-Med, juniors pick a “journey pathway” to define the focus of their education. They allow students to take certain electives their senior year and define how a student will pursue their Senior Apex. Senior Apex is the internship, independent study, or research paper that all Bio-Med seniors must complete before graduating. There are six pathways: technology, agriculture & environmental systems, STEM, education, engineering, and health. Photo by Ken Burchett, associate editor.

Juniors are celebrating the declaration of their journey pathways Nov. 10, and each student will receive a T-shirt with the pathway they choose. The symbols on the shirts will match the banners near the school’s slide. Charmayne Polen, the chief operating officer and principal for grades 10-12, hopes the banners will inspire younger students to look forward to their future at Bio-Med.

In addition to announcing information about the pathways, the Governing Authority officially defined the Community Service graduation seal. To earn this, students may earn 120 unpaid hours of volunteer service from the first day of ninth grade to the spring deadline of their senior year. This is different from the deadline required for Bio-Med’s 60-hour graduation requirement, which begins July 1 before the student starts ninth grade.

The board also hired two new paraprofessionals at the Shalersville campus, as well as a new health pathway instructor at the Rootstown Campus.

Overnight Field Trips

The eighth and ninth-graders went on a trip to Washington D.C. and Gettysburg, Oct. 19-21. This is the first class-wide overnight trip since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only around half the ninth grade class and 25-30 eighth graders did not attend this trip. Randy Rininger, the chief operating officer for grades seven through nine, created a virtual version of the trip for these students. The rest of the students were given the opportunity to integrate the trip with the content learned in their classes, courtesy of Vincent Paolucci, the eighth-grade social studies instructor.

Rininger noted that this trip was a great opportunity for the ninth-grade teachers to connect with their future students.

Another trip is in the works, as Bio-Med has secured a grant for six students to travel with Dr. Lisa Cooper, associate professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology, and Dr. Hans Thewissen,  professor and chair of the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, to Sitka, Alaska for four to five days, beginning in November 2023. The trip will take place during whale-watching season, and students will collaborate with native Alaskan students to observe and present about the concepts learned.

Thewissen interviewed students interested in the trip, and those who were chosen to attend were notified Oct. 27. Students attending the trip will need to take an accelerated term course with Heidi Hisrich, the ninth-grade science instructor and chaperone for the trip.

Accelerated term is the period between Thanksgiving break and winter break where students take various extracurriculars instead of their usual coursework.

Pictured from left to right are Jaidyn Crum, Owen Lucarelli, and Caroline Markulis posing by a restored Civil War cannon in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Photo by Ben Lang, staff writer.

The Guatemala trip has also been canceled this year due to low participation, though they plan to continue to offer the trip in future years.

House Bill 123

House Bill 123, the “Safety and Violence Education (SAVE) Students Act,” went into effect March 24, 2021, and the Governing Authority is making plans to change when students receive instruction, and what instruction they receive.

The SAVE Students Act requires schools with grades six through 12 to give “at least one hour or one standard class period per school year of evidence-based suicide awareness and prevention and at least one hour or one standard class period per school year of safety training and violence prevention.”

Students may be excused from this training by request of the parent.

Lindsey McLaughlin, the assistant chief administrative officer, said this bill gives schools more responsibility for the welfare of their students, though many schools may struggle with the people-power required for this.

Instruction most likely will be moved to lower grades, as students are being exposed to more concepts at an early age due to the internet. Officer Terri Moncoveish, a Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) police officer, offered to assist with the programs at the Rootstown campus, and would also assist with the Ravenna campus if the Ravenna Police Department declines Bio-Med’s request.

Possible Expansion of Lower Grades

Stephanie Lammlein, Chief Administrative Officer and superintendent, has created a three-year plan to expand the Shalersville campus’ kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade’s class sizes.

Currently, kindergarten allows 25 students to enroll, first grade allows 50 students, third grade allows 75 students, and grades 4-12 allow a full class of 100 students. The final goal is for each grade to allow 100 students.

The first year, fourth-graders would be moved from the Shalersville campus to the Ravenna Campus, making room for younger grades to expand by 25 students each. The Ravenna campus would then have trailer classrooms installed to accommodate the fourth-grade students.

After two years, K-3 would expand again to accommodate the full class size of 100 students.

The Shalersville campus may also have an addition built, estimated at $1.5 million. If Bio-Med is unable to afford this, then the kindergarten class will only expand to 50 students.

This expansion would require the school to hire four new teachers, a new intervention specialist, and a paraprofessional. By the end of the third year, there would be six new teachers, an additional two paraprofessionals, and a second dean of students to specifically handle kindergarten through sixth grade. If administration is unable to hire these staff, Lammlein advised that they not go through with the project.

The trailers will cost roughly $40,000 per trailer, and each trailer will have two classrooms. They plan to discuss the benefits of leasing these trailers versus taking out a loan and buying them.

The trailers’ floors and walls will be customizable to fit Bio-Med’s aesthetic.

The Governing Authority has yet to make any official decisions regarding this expansion, but Lammlein will continue to research information about financial logistics.

Breathalyzers at School Dances

Student Council’s advisors requested the Governing Authority to recommend the use of breathalyzers at high school dances. They pushed the official decision to December to allow further discussion of logistics.

If Bio-Med goes through with this plan, the NEOMED police would most likely assist with this endeavor. They would also warn students of the breathalyzers in advance.

“It’s not about ‘I gotcha.’ It’s about safe choices,” Lammlein explained.

If a student is caught with significant blood alcohol content, they would be subject to both legal consequences and discipline following Bio-Med’s Code of Conduct. The Governing Authority discussed possibly utilizing a diversion program partnership with Townhall II, where students would take a class in lieu of suspension, though there is nothing the school can do about criminal charges.

Several board members were concerned about students not having the resources to understand the consequences of underage drinking, and therefore not being able to properly assess the risk. Bio-Med would likely bring in outside programming to discuss these risks with students before the dances.

They also noted that police would be looking for signs and symptoms of other types of intoxication that would not show up on a breathalyzer, such as being high on marijuana.

The first dance affected by this change would be this year’s prom.


Future Meetings

The next official Governing Authority meeting will take place Dec. 13. In the meantime, the members will be splitting into executive committees to tackle various issues in smaller task forces. All students are welcome to attend official meetings.

Bio-Med Education General Interest