MAY 2022 — When most people travel to Europe, they picture stone villages, grand architecture, and beautiful scenery. Five students from Bio-Med Science Academy experienced the real thing with Education First (EF), a company that provides experiential learning programs through international travel, March 26 through April 4.
Ms. Laura Sass, the STEM quality and curriculum administrator, explained the different activities students participated in.
“On European trips, we visit different museums, castles, city centers, and other places important to that location. For example, on the most recent trip to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, we visited cities such as Vienna, Munich, and Lucerne,” Sass said. “We went to Neuschwanstein Castle, which was the inspiration for the Disney Cinderalla castle, Dachau concentration camp, and up a gondola to see Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland.”
Sass continued, “My favorite activity from the trip this year was called the ‘Swiss Alps Experience.’ This was a fondue dinner and show of different musical instruments from the Alps and Swiss culture. Students were able to participate by playing the Alpine Horn and practicing their yodeling. It was a fun way of learning about Swiss Culture, while also having the students be involved.”
Ana Sadeghian, a senior who attended this trip, said, “I really enjoyed all of the places we toured. I wish that we spent more time in some places like Liechtenstein and the Alps. Because we were on a tight schedule, we didn’t have as much time to tour these places.”
Her favorite activity was, “visiting Vienna, Austria. It was so beautiful! I also really enjoyed going to Dachau even though it was a very heavy day because of all the history we learned.” Dachau was the first concentration camp built by Nazi Germany.
Though Sadeghian enjoyed the trip, she learned about the challenges traveling can present.
“I learned that traveling is not a vacation; it is very intense. When traveling, you really have to dress for comfort and wear layers. We went to four different countries, all with different climates. So if you don’t dress accordingly, you will not have a good time!”
Sadeghian said that she “would recommend this trip to other students if they think they can handle it!”
Lily Hritz, a tenth grade student who also participated in this trip, said that her favorite part of the trip was, “being in Vienna and all of the free time [the students] got.” Students often spent their freetime further exploring the local attractions. She also said that she enjoyed “getting to be in another country and learn about [that country’s] customs.
“I’m glad [the trip] was offered. I probably wouldn’t have gotten to go otherwise …. I would recommend going. It’s not an opportunity [people] get a lot in life,” said Hritz. “My biggest takeaway was to try new things. There’s a lot I wouldn’t have done, but since I was there, I did.”
Sadeghian enjoyed the trip, but was glad to return home.
“Although I experienced many great things and came home with good memories, I learned I am not a world traveler,” Sadeghian said. “I was extremely homesick the entire trip and it was really hard to cope with.”
In contrast, Hritz said, “Adjusting to the time difference after I got back was really hard, but leaving was the most difficult …. I wanted to keep going.”
Sass concluded, “Our tour company, Education First (EF), does a fantastic job of putting together the itineraries and activities for the students. We work closely together planning the trip and adapting it to the interests of the students. Overall, I have really enjoyed all of the activities on the trips.”
NOVEMBER 2021 – Recently, schools have seen a significant increase in behavioral issues caused by social media trends. The social media app TikTok has been the main app to find and start these trends. TikTok has more than 1 billion users, and studies by Statista and wallaroommedia show that 25-32 percent of those users are ages of 10-19. More than 285,000 children are being exposed to these trends monthly, and a lot of them want to repeat what they see.
TikTok has a lot of influence over younger generations. The prevalence of TikTok in teenagers’ lives can begin to affect their lives outside the internet. Schools are one area that have seen the effects of these trends. Users of TikTok have started to create trends that have negatively and positively affected the schools they attend.
The original videos that started the chain of school-based trends was known as the “Devious Lick” trend. The trend encouraged the theft of school property like sinks, mirrors, paper towel dispensers, and many other school appliances.
The trend quickly gained popularity in only days, with the number of videos that were showing up on students’ “For You Page” (TikTok’s homepage) quickly arose. The number of videos did not seem to show any signs of slowing down, with many videos being posted every day of the crimes teenagers were committing.
Over sixteen thousand videos have been posted that can be attributed to the Devious Lick trend. More videos have been posted under the hashtag “#DeviousLick,” but TikTok has taken them down for violating community guidelines.
Within Bio-Med, there have been examples of students participating in these trends. Ms. Stephanie Hammond, the guidance counselor for grades 10 through 12 said, “There’s been vandalization in the bathrooms. I thankfully, knock on wood, have not heard of anybody getting assaulted.”
Several counter-measures have been taken to curb participation in these trends at Bio-Med. “We cannot take phones into the bathrooms. We can only go into bathrooms one person per class. It’s really annoying,” said Hope Sprague, an eighth-grade student. “For the first few weeks, there was a teacher that waited outside of the bathrooms, they took phones, [we] had to put phones away in class, [and] all these consequences have come from TikTok.” Sprague is frustrated with the punishments her entire grade is facing due to an individual’s choice of participating in the Devious Lick trend.
Along with Bio-Med, schools like Kent Roosevelt High School have started to take more precautionary measures. Students are finding themselves being stripped of privileges that they are used to because of the behavior these trends are causing. Multiple students going to the bathroom at once is no longer allowed, and students must ask permission before leaving the classroom for any reason.
The effects of the Devious Lick trend are seen as disruptive and dangerous to schools, the staff, and other students. These trends that stemmed from the many Devious Lick videos contain the illegal activity, including theft and vandalism while introducing new crimes such as assault, battery, sexual assault, truancy, and more.
Mr. Randy Rininger, the Dean of Students at Bio-Med Science Academy, listed trends that may occur during the coming months, cautioning students not to participate. Some of these trends include “Vandalize School Bathrooms,” “Smack a Staff Member,” “Jab a Breast,” and “Ditch day.”
Students at other schools are facing criminal charges for participating in the “smack a staff member” trend, including at Lancaster County School District. Hammond is familiar with these trends and how they can affect the school, saying, “I think about this whole Devious Licks, the slap a staff [and] these ones that are coming up. I am not trying to date myself, but I truly don’t understand how vandalism is a trend if you boil it down, or literally physical assault is a trend.”
Parents of Bio-Med students are advised to be aware of these trends that may be coming in the future, and are told to communicate with their children with Rininger saying, “Please talk with your student about social media and help them to set boundaries and understand both the good and the bad that come with it. That message needs to be consistent at home and at school so, together, we can help our students have a healthy relationship with social media and use it for positive purposes.”
Many trends are short-lived, so there has been a major decrease in the number of students participating in these trends. However, these trends are still scary to a lot of people, with Hammond saying, “There’s other ones coming up that I’m really worried about, with Devious Licks being the biggest one.”
Not all trends are having negative effects on students. In retaliation for the Devious Lick trend effects, other students have started “Angelic Yields.” The Angelic Yield trend encompasses cleaning or adding things to schools or public places like furniture, soaps, and other convenient items.
Hammond supports this trend, saying, “I think Angelic Yields is a fantastic idea! Doing random acts of kindness, especially without people knowing, is so impactful and can really make someone’s day! Typically, then that individual pays it forward and now you have a movement! I had not heard of this yet but I think we need more trends like this!”
NOVEMBER 2021 – This year, many activists are boycotting Thanksgiving celebrations due to claims of cultural insensitivity.
Thanksgiving is known to be a holiday of cultural significance in America, centered around food and family. Schools offer extended time off for students and encourage them to spend time with their families. However, Thanksgiving also commemorates the slaughter of Indigenous peoples in America.
“I think it’s important that we educate people on our country’s history, but we need to stop spreading misinformation about Native American history,” said Bio-Med Science Academy junior Olivia Opritiza. “When you celebrate Thanksgiving, you’re really celebrating the genocide of Indigenous people.”
Opritiza felt that elementary education contributes to the spread of misinformation about Thanksgiving. Many Bio-Med students agreed, claiming that their earlier education misled them because their teachers sanitized history.
“America likes to avoid telling people about the bad things we’ve done in history. I was taught that the Pilgrims and Indians have mutually beneficial relationships, which I now know is really incorrect,” expressed Opritza.
Others argued that Thanksgiving and early American history can remain an early education curriculum, but students’ age and emotional maturity should be taken into account.
Bio-Med sophomore Irene Scherer said, “It’s important that they [children and young students] are educated on the real history, but we don’t have to say everything that happened because they are kids.”
Scherer believes proper education at a young age will result in a deeper empathic understanding of historical events.
“If people were taught the non-colonized version first, I think Thanksgiving would become less celebrated and more memorialized,” explained Scherer.
Mr. William Ullinger, Bio-Med freshmen history teacher, tries to encourage students to recognize privilege and learn that some comfort may be sacrificed for comprehension.
“I think there’s a lot of stuff that we do in my class to make sure that students understand ‘problematic history,’” Ullinger explained. “My class focuses a lot on imperialism. Imperialism and colonialism ideals and invading indigenous peoples mostly ties back to American and European history, especially American and European treatments of Native American, Indigenous people on North America.”
Ullinger claimed that students should learn the accurate version of the story of Thanksgiving. However, he believes that education does not mean that the holiday should be boycotted overall.
“My Thanksgiving looks very different from a lot of other people’s Thanksgiving. When I was younger we used to invite random people that needed a place to go. That’s what we should be focusing on Thanksgiving. It’s helping each other out. These ideals were what we say we want to put in about Thanksgiving. Push those; don’t push the false story about why we follow these ideals,” he elaborated.
Professor and public history graduate director Theodore Karamanski of Loyola University Chicago agreed with Ullinger; the inaccurate story should be corrected.
“Thanksgiving can be portrayed in insensitive ways, particularly when the focus is on the connection with the Plymouth Colony in the 17th century. Yes, a harvest festival was held between Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in 1621. The Pilgrims were dependent upon Wampanoag help for their survival in the initial years of their settlement, but in later years took more and more Indian land for themselves and eventually made war upon the children of the Indians at that first Thanksgiving. After a long and bloody war, many Wampanoags were sold into slavery. So, when the peaceful image of the 1621 feast is presented, it gives a false impression of the overall thrust of early American Indian-White relations,” Karamanski explained.
Karamanski teaches courses on American Indian history, the Civil War, and public history. He was the founder and director of Loyola’s Public History Program and has contributed to numerous books, both as an author and an editor, about Native American history.
Karamanski described the true history of Thanksgiving: “The true origins of the national holiday celebrated by Americans dates to the action of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. His 1863 proclamation set aside the last Thursday in November to thank God for Union victories and to ‘heal the wounds of the nation.’ The holiday has been celebrated every year since. Today, there are widening political and social divisions in the USA. Extended families getting together for Thanksgiving too often fall into divisive disputes over political personalities. Perhaps they would do well to remember the danger of division and be grateful that the evils of slavery and Civil War have passed. That is what I am grateful for.”
Karamanski also agreed with Ullinger that early and elementary education could mislead students about topics of early American history. However, they both believed that there is progress being made to better educate the current and future generations of students.
“November is Native American Heritage Month in part because educators have gradually heightened awareness that the traditional Thanksgiving story is at best incomplete.” Karamanski concluded, “A feast is always more palatable than a massacre. American Indian activists have been successful in critiquing the general society’s tendencies to exploit the image of Indians, while obscuring their true history.”
May 2021 – Bio-Med Science Academy strives to foster an environment where students, staff, and community members are respected, connected, and inspired. This type of environment creates a sense of community, one of the six Bio-Med attributes. One of the necessary pieces required to reach this goal is respecting personal pronouns.
Oxford Languages defines “pronoun” as “a word that can function by itself as a noun phrase and that refers either to the participants in the discourse (e.g., I, you) or to someone or something mentioned elsewhere in the discourse (e.g., she, it, this).”
Personal pronouns are used when referring to a person being talked about. There are many personal pronouns with which individuals can identify, and while some are more common than others, they are all valid. Below is a guide on how to use different pronouns from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s LGBTQ+ Resource Center.
One step towards accepting personal pronouns, especially ones that may seem new or unfamiliar, is to recognize that pronouns and their usage have not always stayed the same; they have changed throughout history. Dennis Baron is a professor of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois, and for decades has studied the history of pronoun usage. He has compiled his research into his book “What’s Your Pronoun?” Beyond He & She.”
So far, Baron’s list contains over 200 coined gender-neutral pronouns, the earliest being from the late 18th century. He believes these words failed for a variety of reasons, such as not being adopted by enough people, not reaching a wide audience, and being too strange or difficult to read or speak.
One exception to this is the singular “they.” Those who are opposed to the use of the singular “they” claim it is grammatically incorrect. However, according to Merriam Webster’s website, people have been using “they” as a singular pronoun since the 1300s.
People today use singular “they” all the time in everyday conversations. For instance, Oxford Languages lists one definition of “they” as “used to refer to a person of unspecified gender,” and gives an example sentence: “Ask someone if they could help.”
Using the singular “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun for someone who does not identify with the pronouns he/him/his or she/her/hers is a more recent development. Nevertheless, Oxford Languages lists another definition of “they” as “used to refer to a person whose gender or sexual identity does not correspond to the traditional binary opposition of male and female.”
The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary also gives a definition of “they” for this usage. The 2017 Associated Press Stylebook includes guidance on using singular “they” as well. The APA Style Guide also accepts this usage: “Use of the singular ‘they’ is endorsed as part of APA Style because it is inclusive of all people and helps writers avoid making assumptions about gender. Although usage of the singular ‘they’ was once discouraged in academic writing, many advocacy groups and publishers have accepted and endorsed it.”
Also, “you” used to only be used as a plural pronoun, along with “ye.” “Thee” and “thou” were used as singular pronouns instead. “You” was not widely used as a singular pronoun until the 17th century, and the use of the singular you is not disputed today. This is an example of how a pronoun’s usage can change and become generally accepted, which is now being seen with the singular they.
So why are there those who are still adamantly against individuals identifying with pronouns other than he and she? That comes down to not a grammar issue, but an issue of respect.
Matthew Fowler is a senior undergraduate student studying public health and sociology at Kent State University. He also interns at the Kent State LGBTQ+ Center, where he advocates for pronoun usage across the campus.
“Even though I’m cisgender and I use he/him pronouns, personal pronouns is something that I have been made aware of. Throughout my years growing up on the internet and trying to educate myself about queer issues in queer spaces, pronouns have been one of the earliest things that I learned about in terms of gender identity and respecting others,” Fowler said.
Fowler has friends and has met many people through his internship who are not out or whose personal pronouns are not completely validated in other parts of their life. He believes that by respecting pronouns, he is helping to validate and create a safe space for those individuals.
“[Pronouns] have a lot of personal weight in them when you use it to validate or unfortunately invalidate someone. I totally understand that, in the grand scheme of issues with gender identity, and within the trans and gender nonconforming community, pronouns are not the only thing to be worried about; however it is that baseline of decency and respect. When we talk about issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc., first unfortunately we have to aim for the baseline. [To] me, pronouns is [the] least you can do when you’re fighting against transphobia and general gender discrimination,” expressed Fowler. “Furthermore, it’s just a personal piece of respect, because if you identify a certain way I should respect that. That’s not my life. That is not my thing to judge or to critique or comment on.”
However, not everyone feels this way. In public places especially, Fowler has seen many people be directly misgendered, or the wrong pronouns used in reference to someone outside of the conversation. He explained that while he has never personally been triggered by these instances, he sympathizes with those who have and understands the feelings of sadness, frustration, and anger that come with it.
“At this point I’m used to it. I’m used to seeing it and like I said, as a cis person, it’s not as if it is a personally traumatic experience for me. However, I do respect the trauma that it does promote and…that it creates for people who are not cisgender,” said Fowler.
In those moments, Fowler has pushed himself to step in and correct and educate someone, providing it is a safe space to do so and he has permission if the misgendering was towards someone in particular.
“I often try to assess the situation and see if I, with my cis privilege and the respect that I may have from certain people that I talk to, if I can insert myself in that moment and try to make a change, even if it’s just temporary,” stated Fowler.
Depending on the circumstance, he will try to give the person doing the misgendering the benefit of the doubt.
“Maybe they just don’t understand. Maybe they never looked [for pronouns] if it’s an online thing. Maybe they just need [to be] educated on how to be respectful of that person,” Fowler said.
“Sometimes there are people you can’t talk to. No matter what, there’s nothing you can do that will change their mind, change their attitude, make them feel bad for what they did and try to get them to apologize,” Fowler explained.
In those specific instances, his thought process is: “If I’m going to be mad about it, if I’m going to feel resentment and frustration, how can I funnel those feelings into something productive?”
Fowler does this through his advocacy work at the Kent State LGBTQ+ Center. If there is a frustrating update within the university, or something on the news or online, he gets together with another LGBTQ+ Center intern and they discuss their feelings, thoughts, and ideas of what they can do.
“It’s really nice to be able to funnel that energy now into a specific project that we’re doing that is contributing to the overall topic of personal pronouns, gender identity, and stuff like that. So it’s really nice to have an outlet,” said Fowler.
On a more personal level, Fowler opened up about a cousin of his who uses he/him/his pronouns and a name different from the one he was given at birth. Unfortunately, the cousin’s parents and the majority of his family were unsupportive, and this led to him giving up on trying to get them to use his correct name and pronouns.
“I just couldn’t imagine having to go through that; going home and just accepting the fact that you are going to be misgendered, you are going to be called by your dead name, and you just have to exist as an invalid person there,” Fowler stated.
This is a widly different reaction from when Fowler came out as gay to his family and was met with lots of support, especially from his aunt, the mother of his cousin.
“It’s so hard because I’ve always loved my aunt to pieces. She’s been my number one supporter,” Fowler said.
Fowler learned of his cousin’s coming out during a conversation with his aunt about the situation and her feelings in regards to it. He offered to provide some resources to help with understanding, and to revisit the conversation in the future.
“I try to stay close with her just because I know these conversations aren’t over yet. I have hopes that I can do something meaningful and impactful when the perfect time arises,” said Fowler.
Fowler pointed out that sometimes people make mistakes, and that is okay. He gave the example of Kent State’s Vice President of Student Affairs, Lamar Hylton, using the wrong pronouns while talking about someone during a virtual meeting Fowler had attended. Immediately after, Hylton apologized, corrected himself, and then continued the conversation.
“That’s nice to see what we describe as the perfect scenario of someone messing up, correcting, and moving on. That was, you know, nice to be like, “Oh, well one of the top heads at Kent State University made a mistake, which sucks, but then immediately realized that they made the mistake, fixed it, and then just moved on,’” he described.
Fowler is grateful to say he frequently sees people being respectful, or making an effort to be respectful, of others’ personal pronouns in the circles he is in. When someone he knows comes out online by readjusting their pronouns, he is happy to see the vast amounts of support shown to that person.
“It gives me hope that there is a future where it just becomes normalized. That is the fight for everything. Pronouns aren’t a legal issue, we’re not talking about name changes, we’re not talking about gender identification, we’re talking about informal verbal communication,” Fowler said. “How can we shift the mindset of a culture to not always assume and to not be afraid to ask and to make mistakes and to readjust your own language? And so when I see these good things happening it gives me hope.”
Theo Peppeard is a senior at Bio-Med Science Academy who uses any pronouns at any time, including she, he, and they. Peppeard believes when people are respectful of others’ pronouns, it means they are respectful of who those people are.
“It makes me happy that other people are willing to acknowledge that I’m not just a ‘she’, but that in my case, I am fluid in my identity,” Peppeard stated.
Peppeard praised BMSA on creating a comfortable and respectful environment for its students.
“[Bio-Med] is definitely a school that accepts students for who they are compared to me walking into Ravenna or Southeast schools. There are some students who either don’t understand, which I am happy to help them understand, or just flat out refuse to use preferred pronouns and names. I can’t ever force them because if they are set on their beliefs, they are set on their beliefs. I believe in a way, [Bio-Med] is far up there on the understanding scale,” said Peppeard.
Kaden Starkey is a BMSA senior who uses he/him/his pronouns and is a female to male transgender individual. When he started high school four years ago, he was not out to anyone. Being at a new school and having a fresh start but remaining in the closet was very difficult.
“Whenever someone would refer to me with she/her pronouns, it felt like I was being stabbed in the chest, frozen in time due to the extreme emotional pain. I knew it was because they had no idea I was trans and that they didn’t intend to do it on purpose or cause any harm…but, it still didn’t help the extreme dysphoria that I would feel due to it,” explained Starkey. “I would spend hours, days, weeks trying to figure out what it was that told them I wasn’t male. It was an extremely negative and hurtful way of thinking, but it was a thought process I could not get out of…one that literally almost killed me.”
Starkey recalled the first time someone referred to him as a male, during his eighth grade school trip to Washington D.C: “I was going into the Smithsonian and the security guard gave me my belongings (after checking them for security reasons). As he’s handing me my bag, he says “Here you go sir,” and the engulfing amount of euphoria that poured through my body was an experience I have never experienced. I will never forget that moment because it was the single thing I held onto for that year. It was the thing I kept reminding myself of to make it through the day. Even though at the time, I could not envision a life where I was not hiding my identity from all but a select group of people, this moment gave me hope.”
Unfortunately, the idea of coming out still left Starkey terrified. He was concerned he would be kicked out of the house, alienated from his family, and lose his friends. Fortunately, he was attending Bio-Med, and eventually became comfortable enough to begin coming out.
“Compared to my homeschool and experiences there, Bio-Med made me feel like a human, one that wasn’t a nobody. I was out to all my teachers and a handful of classmates before I even came out to my family all because of how safe and comfortable I felt with the environment. Going into the school, I knew that they had a decent reputation for being LGBTQ+ friendly. But coming from a city school district, it was an entire atmospheric change, a positive one, that I was not expecting. Attending the school’s GSA, specifically freshman year, really helped me come to terms with myself and learn to accept my gender identity,” said Starkey.
Several months later, Starkey had a goal to legally change his name before the start of his sophomore year. Due to legal restrictions, this was not possible until a few weeks into the school year.
“On the first day of school, as I went to each class, I told all of my teachers that the name on the roster is incorrect and that I was going to be getting it legally changed soon, and that I would like you to call me Kaden and use he/him and stuff. I remember Mrs. Rickle was really excited and she would ask me almost daily, ‘Did you get it done yet?!’ All the other teachers were also really supportive and understanding,” stated Starkey. “Overall, the teachers in this regard are highly supportive and immediately started calling me Kaden and using the correct pronouns. There were a few slip ups at first, but that’s because we’re human and it wasn’t on purpose.”
However, Starkey believes there is always room for improvement. He suggested allowing spaces for gender markers and preferred names to be made available to all staff and on rosters, though he acknowledged that legal names can be difficult due to paperwork and legalities. He also described activism as being an important yet simple thing to do.
“[Teachers] could talk to their students and bring awareness and education to the topic. Inform them of the proper respect and ways to go about things. Offer more support to those that are struggling with these kinds of things; though, I know it’s hard when there’s not really ‘certified officials’ on campus to help with gender identity issues and things related. When students go to administration or a teacher about a student disrespecting one’s pronouns, that adult could be more supportive and understanding. And if this happens continuously, that the student [who’s] being disrespectful will actually be held accountable for their actions,” Starkey explained.
Today, Starkey has been doing hormone replacement therapy for two years, and gives himself weekly shots of testosterone.
“The changes that have occurred from taking it has allowed me to become more masculine presenting, and because of this people refer to me by the correct pronouns. Being referred to with the correct pronouns, has allowed me to feel more aligned, comfortable, and even a bit confident with myself. And because of that, it has helped my mental health tremendously,” said Starkey. “Just this year, I have finally been able to say that I felt comfortable in my own skin, and I would not have gotten here without people respecting my pronouns. Sure, there’s still some people here and there who misgender me, but I try my best to shake it off.”
Starkey believes being respectful of personal pronouns is a simple act of human decency.
“If you’re saying ‘During the summer she likes to ride her bike,’ all you have to do is replace she/her for he/him or they/them or another pronoun that one may identify with. I truly don’t understand why people feel the need to purposefully call someone by the wrong pronouns. What do they get out of it? Because if the tables were turned, they would be butt hurt if someone called them another gender. I honestly do not see the reason or need as to why people choose to attack another, verbally or physically. It’s not like they can change those things. People don’t just choose to identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. If they did and that’s how things worked, the mental health of transgender individuals would be drastically better. Some people think, “Oh it’s just some stupid words. Boohoo what if someone doesn’t say the ones you want?” But words are really powerful and more meaningful than what’s on the surface. If we could all just learn to accept people for who they are and not ridicule them over differences that one cannot control, that would be wonderful,” expressed Starkey.
APRIL 2021 – In 2017, a Beijing-based tech company called ByteDance acquired Musical.ly for $1 billion before moving its users to a new platform. A year later, the popular video streaming app, assumed a new name: TikTok. It is a social video-sharing app that allows creators to record, edit, and post videos up to sixty seconds in length. The app has amassed over six hundred million monthly active users worldwide and has been downloaded over two billion times on the App Store and Google Play.
TikTok users can create a variety of content ranging from challenges, dancing, artwork, comedic videos, and many more. On the app, every user has the opportunity to go viral, and many experts have raised concerns about TikTok and its growing popularity. A 2017 study of 8th to 12th graders found that high levels of depressive symptoms increased by 33% between 2010 and 2015 and has connected the results to overwhelming social media consumption. Increased technology use has been linked to mental health issues for a variety of reasons, including triggering content, social isolation, and a need for validation.
TikTok saw a rise in users at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. During quarantine, more individuals had to remain at home and find new ways to occupy their time. As stated by the Philadelphia Inquirer, “the platform has viral memes where teenagers use self-deprecating humor to talk about anxiety, sexuality, insecurities, depression, and relationship abuse.” Given the wide array of content available on the platform, its users, teens and young adults in particular, have been recommended to exercise caution when using the app.
According to a survey completed by students in grades 7th through 12th, many students at Bio-Med use TikTok. Of the 112 students surveyed, 72.3% are active on the platform. When asked why they downloaded the app, answers ranged from “wanting to keep up with trends” to “needing something to help pass the time.”
Aside from the various reasons for downloading the app, students have many different opinions on the possible effect the app has on the mental health of its users.
Two students shared some of the positive aspects of TikTok.
Eighth-grader Sophie Wiley said, “I think that the app has a very positive environment with strict guidelines for learning, and growth, making an accepting community.”
“I think TikTok has a positive effect on the mental health of users. My sister started using the app this year and has not only connected with more friends, but gained confidence doing something she loves,” said Freshman Mallory Butcher. “Any social media is bound to have some negative effects on users because interacting with people is stressful, but the way I see people use the app, it has helped to keep safe in quarantine and gain social skills.”
Other students shared alternative opinions.
Junior Alex Hale-Hartman said, “I feel that just going through and using TikTok like any other social media isn’t bad, but creating and putting actual care and effort into joining a fad and making TikToks can have a negative effect. It puts the want for social acceptance and the want to conform into a need for the individual and that’s never good.”
“The content is totally fine, but it’s the easy scrolling and short videos that damage our mental health. Our attention spans are being shortened and our threshold for instant gratification goes up and ultimately puts us at a disadvantage,” added Senior Suzie Krauss.
A study conducted by JAMA Psychiatry reported “spending more than 3 hours on social media per day puts adolescents at a higher risk for mental health problems.” In the survey responses, many students noted their concerns about the amount of time people spend on the app. TikTok use of more than five times a week was reported by 45.5% of students, with some using it every day.
Junior Biomedical Engineering teacher and new TikTok creator, Miss Elissa Fusco (@miss.fusco) shared her experience with the platform. After being persuaded by some of her students, Miss Fusco downloaded the app.
“I personally just needed a creative outlet for the crazy things that happen in the life of a teacher. Most of it is satire and just humor because honestly this year has been wild. That humor and creativity have been really helpful to let go of some stress,” said Fusco.
She also commented on the time concerns, “If you don’t manage your time [TikTok] can be very harmful because you get stuck into this rut and addiction in which you just keep watching videos. I do have a social media time limit set on my phone to help with this. Another potentially negative thing is the satisfaction from likes. When you don’t get as many likes as you hoped for or you don’t have that resilience to be okay with that, it can really cause someone to falter a bit along with their mental health.”
When asked how to establish healthy social media habits, Dr. Gary Maslow, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, told CNN, “It’s a balance, because there are benefits to engagement with media. There are so many ways in which social media is important and has positive features, but there’s also ways in which social media can replace social support and connection from people you are living with in person,” he said. “So it’s finding that sweet spot.”
APRIL 2021- With due dates, state testing, and pressure to decide a career path in the midst of a pandemic, life for students can be stressful. A total of 102 students from grades 7-12 participated in a survey conducted by The Hive rating their stress. When asked to rate stress levels they experienced on a scale of one to ten, Bio-Med students answered an average of seven (with one being no stress and ten being extremely stressed).
After the results were recorded, it revealed that 89.2% of students were stressed because of school, and 56.9% were stressed because of mental health.
In an attempt to reduce future stress levels, students shared ways that help them relax
“I give myself time to step away from my school work and responsibilities when I become overwhelmed,” Autumn Groen, a senior at Bio-Med wrote. “Some things I do to relieve stress are going on walks, spending time with my dog, and listening to music.”
She also noted that while being able to step away from her school work helps her de-stress, there are activities the school offers that help as well.
“Cyber Patriots has been a club that has helped me to step away from school assignments once a month, and although stressful at times due to its problem-solving aspects, it is a lot of fun to work through the images, chat with teammates, and eat good food,” Groen concluded.
Virtual Versus In Person:
Out of the students that filled out the survey, only 21.6% were completing school virtually. When being asked if attending school in person was less stressful than attending at home, 74% of in-person students answered “yes.” Alternatively, exactly 52.4% of virtual students stated that being at home added more stress to their day.
“I think it is more stressful,” Dakota Rennecker, an 8th grader, commented. “When you are in person you can go up to a teacher or friend and ask questions or show them problems you are having. When you are at home it is different.”
Communication was brought up frequently as a stressful part of virtual learning. With a lack of face to face communication and instructions, some students felt like it was more stressful with the only forms of communication being Zoom calls and emails.
“You have to email your teachers which sometimes they can take some time to respond and when you do ask for help or are having an issue it is hard to show them or for them to understand your problem,” Rennecker continued. “You also can’t get much help after 4 pm and it makes me feel scared or anxious that I don’t understand what I am doing or I am going to do it wrong,” she concluded.
Haily Baer is a 7th grader who was virtual for the first half of the school year. During the second half, she switched to going in-person. She compared both her experiences and shared that virtual school added more stress to her day.
“It changed my perspective a lot actually, ‘cause I used to love working at home; everybody loves being able to do whatever they want when they want to. But that changed after being so isolated from people,” she shared. “Being a social person who is stuck at home causes mass stress. You don’t have anyone to help you work, and you don’t have your friends. Now everytime we can go to the building, I make sure to go ‘cause no one wants to feel so lonely.”
While completing school work at home adds stress to some people’s days, others did not see an increase in stress caused by school. For some students, they noted it was beneficial for them to be able to work at their own pace.
“It’s been less stressful for a few reasons,” Caroline Brunn stated. He is an 8th grader attending school virtually, and says that being at home does not add stress to his day. “A) I can take naps and eat food and stuff; B) In all honesty, I spend a lot of time playing video games and not doing school so it’s pretty ‘chill.’”
“Either option comes with its own stresses,” Emma Aguliar, a 10th grade student completing school virtually, noted. “I do not think that attending school virtually is any less stressful than attending school in person. It’s just a different kind of stress. Attending school virtually comes with the stress of not knowing exactly what is going on inside of school. This makes communicating with people in school harder and more stressful.”
Just Dance Breaks
Lillian Ijoma is a junior this year and noted that she was often stressed about the future. When being asked about whether or not she thought it was more or less stressful to attend school in person, she responded “When I’m at home, it’s much harder to be motivated. Also, especially with math, when you actually have to learn instead of just completing projects or assignments, it’s so much harder to understand material when you can’t ask questions.”
One thing that has helped her de-stress while attending school has been the Just Dance sessions offered at school. “When I’m at school, me and my friends can be stressed together and that’s very helpful. Also, Mino and Hisey hold daily Just Dance sessions in the commons and doing those with my friends are extremely wonderful and good.”
When asked, only 23.1% of students attending school in person have attended the Just Dance Breaks are held after the last lunch period around 1:16 PM. Out of those students, 43.2% of people who attend felt less stressed afterwards.
The dance breaks themselves were started by a group of sophomore students and now happen daily. Aidan Veney, a 10th grade student, helped organize the dance breaks by creating a google form where students had the opportunity to request songs and have them played.
“I realized I really liked them so I tried to keep them going and keep people going to them,” he commented.
Along with enjoyment, they also provide him with a way to de-stress. “I look forward to doing them every day,” he explained. “It’s just like a little thing to look forward to every day. Especially with the hour and a half long classes, it can be a bit of a drag, so it’s nice to just have even a couple of minutes to do something else.”
Another way some students de-stress are through mindfulness activities. Mindfulness activities are anything that encourage someone to be aware of their senses and in the moment, like yoga or meditation. They can also be helpful for students to de-stress at home.
“Meditation and yoga really help me center myself,” Emma Aguilar mentioned. “Mindfulness activities are extremely important for me. They help me stay composed during my daily activities whether that is implementing breathing techniques into my daily life or using the yoga I do to improve my soccer playing. “
Out of all the students who took the survey, only 7.9% of people regularly do mindfulness activities, while 42.6% never do. Opinions on mindfulness activities were split, but revealed to be calming for some students.
“I think everyone can get some kind of benefit from things like meditation, but how much it helps changes from person to person,” Trevor Baldwin, a freshman, commented.
They also provide a way for in-person students to reduce stress as well.
Blessing Mupinga is a senior attending school in person and shared her thoughts on mindfulness as well. “I think that they are very helpful to give your brain a break and get some clarity and make conclusions about your life,” they said. “These may oftentimes influence you to change some of your behaviors to make yourself better so that you are able to partake in more eye opening, restful experiences.”
However, mindfulness is not for everyone. Sitting still and being in the moment can be more stressful for others, and can be harder to do if they are not used to them.
For students like Grace Watters, an 8th grader attending school in person, mindfulness is not the most effective in relieving stress. “I don’t really understand them,” they said. “I’ve tried, but it doesn’t really work out for me.”
Other students noted that some forms of mindfulness are beneficial, but not all.
“I think they’re good but not something effective for me all of the time,” Skyler Earl, a sophomore, commented. “ If it’s something like meditation I can actually get more stressed because I have room to think about what’s stressing me out, but other things like yoga are better because they’re more active.”
“It just isn’t worth it to be stressed,” Trevor Baldwin commented. He recommended finding a hobby in order to reduce stress. “Mine was baking. It is challenging and fun and the outcome is always something to be proud of.”
Trevor talked about the loaf he baked over the weekend. “The flavor was interesting to say the least. It was a strange recipe that didn’t need to be kneaded and it was very tasty, and goes well with soup or hot pepper cheese,” he said.
For students, life can be stressful at times. Whether it is school, social life, public health, family, mental health, or career planning, there are ways that can help reduce stress.
Saving the Planet: Earth Day and Recycling at Bio-Med Science Academy
by McKenna Burchett, staff writer
APRIL 2021 – Most students at Bio-Med Science Academy report that they don’t do anything particular to celebrate Earth Day. Sophia Wood, an eighth grader, believes that Earth Day is important, as it “stresses the importance of preserving our Earth and informs us about many actions to prevent and slow the impact [of climate change.]”
Conner Lucas says, “I think it’s important that we are always thinking about the Earth instead of on one day.”
Bio-Med students seem to be doing this. For example, Mady Kohout says, “I’m always recycling to reduce my trash thrown away. I also went strictly vegetarian just over two years ago and I try to eat vegan or use dairy substitutes as often as I can. I also try to buy as much as I can from environmentally-friendly businesses; however, that’s more difficult to do regularly since they are hard to come by.”
Junior Kelsea Cooper is thinking of starting a club that revolves around sustainability efforts “to make more students aware of ways they can make their lives more sustainable to benefit our community and the Earth.”
Earth Day is on April 22, and is the 51st celebration of the event. Earth Day began in 1970 after decades of mass consumption of leaded gas and unchecked factories spewing sludge into the atmosphere. However, in 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, which began to bring awareness to the importance of taking care of our planet through her discussion of adverse pesticides. After a devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, Senator Gaylord Nelson started a series of teach-ins at college campuses with Congressman Pete McCloskey as his co-chair and Denis Hayes as the organizer of the events. They held it on April 22, which eventually became the international event we know today as Earth Day.
As for the much-debated issue of recycling at Bio-Med, many students and teachers report hearing that the school combines their recycling bins with their trash bins, and only 6.7% of students always used the recycling bins at the school (according to a survey conducted by The Hive.)
This is not the case though. Neo-Med and Bio-Med have a thorough recycling system.
Jerry Bergstrom, Neo-Med supervisor of Physical Plant Campus Operations, clarifies this: “We have regular garbage, and we have stations out in the hallways with paper recycling, and then we have the bins that you can open the lids on for plastics and bottles. Cardboard is picked up separate. Portage County Recycling takes all of our plastics, bottles and glass, and then our paper gets shredded and is picked up by Portage industries, which is used for animal beds. Palettes are recycled also; they pick them up and reuse them.”
The New Center, and by extension Bio-Med, works slightly differently.
“They’re basically the same program we are; we just run two different contracts. It’s picked up by different companies.”
MARCH 2021 – On July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage was raised to $7.25 from $6.55 per hour. While the federal minimum wage has not been raised in almost twelve years, the longest stretch without an increase since its creation, twenty-five states raised their minimum wage earlier this year. Among those states, Ohio’s minimum wage increased by ten cents to $8.80 per hour for non-tipped employees beginning January 1, 2021. Despite the incremental progress, advocates for a $15 minimum wage remain committed to the fight of raising the wage.
A living wage is defined as the lowest wage at which a worker and their family can afford the most basic costs of living. Before Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 passed as part of New Deal legislation and effectively created the minimum wage, he expressed his strong support for a living wage. In 1933, during FDR’s statement on the National Industrial Recovery Act, he explained that “no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” This statement essentially created the framework for the battle between the living and minimum wage. During that year, the minimum wage was established at 25 cents. To put that into perspective, according to several online inflation calculators, $1 in 1938 would be equal to $18.55 today.
People have been pushing for a rise in the minimum wage for years. The fight for $15, a grassroots movement, began in 2012 when two hundred fast-food workers walked off the job to demand increased wages and union rights in New York City. It has since grown into a global movement in over 300 cities on six continents. The support for a $15 minimum wage has shifted from a protest movement to legitimate political action. President Biden has become one of the main proponents of a $15 minimum wage by 2025.
The topic of raising the minimum wage has been highly debated by both politicians and top economists. When asked about the minimum wage, Bio-Med students shared some varying opinions.
Two Juniors expressed their support for raising the minimum wage.
“The minimum wage is too low; people cannot live on it, let alone provide for a family,” said Maddy Ross.
“There are people at my job, who have been there for 16 years and only make $9 an hour,” said Kaitlyn Davis. “That is not enough money to live on so they are forced to pick up a second job. It’s so sad that people have to work all those hours just to barely survive.”
According to researchers at MIT, the living wage in the United States was $16.54 per hour, or $68,808 per year, in 2019, before taxes for a family of four. Statistically, the minimum wage does not provide a living wage for most American families. A typical family of two working adults and two children needs to work nearly four full-time minimum-wage jobs to earn a living wage. Single-parent families need to work almost twice as hard, which is nearly the equivalent of working 24 hours per day for six days, to earn a living wage. The minimum wage only currently accounts for a portion of what it would take to earn a living wage.
Opponents of raising the minimum wage cite inflation and job loss to support their differing views. Juniors Adam Lang and Nick Wholwend believe the minimum wage should remain the same.
“The minimum wage is not meant for a career wage. As it gets higher, so does the cost of living. It would also make it harder for businesses to pay their employees,” said Adam Lang.
“The big thing that I think about when talking about the minimum wage is job sustainability,” said Nick Wholwend. “McDonald’s pays around $9 an hour, but if they got a machine to start taking orders and flipping burgers, they wouldn’t have to pay all of their employees $15 an hour. Instead, they would just have to spend a couple thousand dollars on the machine. In the long run, hiring a machine would save them money.”
A report published by the Congressional Budget Office describes many of the positives and negatives associated with raising the minimum wage. It states that an increase would offer raises to 27 million people and lift 900,000 people above the poverty line, but it would also cost 1.4 million jobs while adding $54 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports efforts to increase the minimum wage but indicates that $15 may be too high.
Two current seniors are unsure about the efforts to raise the minimum wage.
“Based on what I’ve heard compared to the rate of productivity and other living expenses it is too low, said Drake Duncan.
“I think the minimum wage should be raised slightly, but the current plans that are being pitched seem a little extreme,” said Zane Price.
Junior Maddy Ross expressed a need for compassion: “People have many excuses for not wanting to raise the minimum wage, but honestly, at the end of the day, it’s about your care for other people that are struggling. If you care about other people and their issues then you would not mind paying an extra dollar for a gallon of milk.”
FEBRURARY 2021 – Originally, Valentine’s day was created to celebrate St. Valentine, according to the History Channel. However, there is controversy about which St. Valentine the holiday celebrates and is based on. The most popular legend of St. Valentine comes from Christian and Roman tradition, with Valentine being a priest during 3rd century Rome in a time when the emperor believed single men made better soldiers and outlawed marriages for younger men. In response to this, Valentine allegedly held marriage ceremonies in secret and was caught and sentenced to death.
Other versions of the story include Saint Valentine of Terni, who supposedly fell in love with a woman while he was in prison. According to legend, he sent a letter to the woman saying it was “from your valentine.” Then he died. According to Smithsonian magazine, the holiday could have also originated from a feast that celebrated a Christian martyr’s decapitation. It is also believed that there were multiple people named St. Valentine’s who died on February 14th, and while some gained more popularity than others, no one seems to be quite certain on the topic.
Regardless of the origins involved, Valentine’s day had been celebrated for many years, and was a celebration of love in Rome where it was otherwise outlawed. Since then, the holiday has transformed from a feast of celebration, into a more intimate celebration of love and relationships in a general sense.
The Valentine’s Day Debate: Why Do We Celebrate It?
Through being interviewed, each Bio-Med student was asked the same question: “Do you think Valentine’s Day is an important holiday?” The responses varied between students.
Dante Duluc believes Valentine’s Day is an important holiday. This year, he is going to spend Valentine’s Day with his girlfriend watching movies. When being asked about if the holiday was important to him, he responded “well the reason that we’re doing plans for Valentine’s day I guess it’s just it’s important to show how you care for one another.”
Generally, when being asked about what they liked about Valentine’s Day, the majority of students shared that they liked the fact they were able to show that they cared and spend time with important people in their lives. Mostly, students that were in a relationship thought that Valentine’s Day was more important than those who didn’t.When asked if the holiday was important, Kaytlin Haylett, a junior, responded that “my only reason to say yes is because it’s my first year being in a relationship so it’s like a big deal, but no.”
Other students, like Keira Vasbinder, stated they liked Valentine’s day because of “how happy it can make other people when you give them something even if it’s small.” In previous years, Vasbinder shared that she would attempt to get small gifts for her friends and family, and really only celebrated it if her friends planned events. While most people associate it with romantic relationships, Vasbinder noted that “it doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic holiday, and it’s fun to make others happy.”
Some people view the holiday a bit differently, and see it as less important than other holidays. When being asked if he thought Valentine’s Day was important to him, Emmet Bakos replied that “I’ve never really been a big fan of Valentine’s Day.” He then elaborated to say that “It just seems, pressuring to say the least. Especially for people who aren’t in relationships.”
While some students may feel pressured to buy expensive gifts, or plan a date, others revealed they did not really think Valentine’s Day was that important to celebrate. Tessa Wood, another sophomore, noted that “it’s not super important,” as other holidays. “I like to text the people in my life to remind them that they are important to me. I like the holiday, but I think it’s kinda insignificant,” Wood remarked.
Mayla Bregant is a 7th grader at Bio-Med, and shared that she was generally a fan of the holiday. “I really like Valentine’s Day because obviously you get a lot of candy and chocolate and teddy bears and that’s good and stuff.” She elaborated on this by saying that “I just wish people would be more open to loving everybody everyday.”
Instead of just showing our affection to others on one holiday, Mayla thinks Valentine’s Day should be celebrated, yet parts of it should be practiced every day. “We should still remember to love everybody everyday and not just on holidays,” she concluded.
Ella Wright, a freshman this year, is planning on spending the holiday baking and giving gifts to her neighbors. While she has plans for the holiday, she stated that “to me, it isn’t a super important holiday,” and shared similar thoughts to Mayla as to why she didn’t think the holiday was that important. “I think we should be appreciating people all of the days of the year, and not just one,” Wright concluded.
A Disease Free Valentine’s Day: Safe Ideas to Spend the Holiday
By Alyssa Cocchiola, Staff Writer
FEBRUARY 2021 – Instead of boxes of chocolates and heart shaped cutouts, most people recommend prioritizing items like masks and hand sanitizers for this Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a holiday typically associated with spending time with others. However, with safety precautions regarding COVID-19 in place, the holiday is likely to look a lot different than previous years. Members of the Bio-Med Science Academy community shared their ideas on safe ways to spend the holiday.
“So far this year, we’ve used Zoom a whole lot of times so that’s one way,” Nicholas Cross, an 8th grade student, commented. Zoom has been commonly used to host events in the digital space, with Bio-Med, and other schools in our area using it to aid in virtual lessons. “If you already have most of the family you wanna spend Valentine’s Day with around you, with the people you don’t you can just like facetime them and stuff like that,” they concluded.
Skyler Earl, a sophomore at Bio-Med, noted that “sometimes my friends would have parties or get-togethers, but this year I most likely won’t attend any of them.” She described the alternative of “zoom parties,” where her friends would get together on zoom and host events that way.
Other students shared that Zooms are not a new concept for spending time together on holidays.
“As someone who has family all over the country, family Zoom calls for the holidays have been the thing for quite some time,” Emmet Bakos commented. “They’re a fun and easy way to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in a while.”
Even if students don’t have family out of state, most students agreed that doing something with others in person is not the safest option. Bakos continued by saying, “If you really wanted to do something for Valentine’s day, the safest thing to do is call them on any video chat software and talk for awhile.” Other video chat softwares could include things like Skype, Facetime, and Google hangouts, all of which provide a way of communicating in times where in-person is not a viable option.
“Seeing someone virtually is much better than risking the chance of giving them covid for Valentine’s day,” Bakos concluded.
Tessa Wood is another sophomore, and shared her opinions on Zooms as well. She commented that “movie Zooms are always fun! They are easy to execute and you can talk during them.” The ability to screen share, and use features like Netflix Party are enabling people everywhere to enjoy different media with their peers in the digital space.
Dante Duluc is a freshman this year and shared his plans for the holiday. When being asked about his plans, he said “for Valentine’s day me and my girlfriend are going to the movies.” However, it was not an actual movie theatre he was referring to. He followed this up by saying that “for the movies what we’re actually doing is we’re just sitting in my room watching movies on TV and like eating snacks.” With watching movies either via Zoom or another socially distanced way, it still allows others to spend time watching movies with those they love, and in a way that reflects the safety regulations in place currently.
Virtual Dinner Dates
Kaytlin Haylett is a junior and plans on spending Valentine’s Day with her boyfriend. When being asked about ideas for socially distanced dates, she brought up the idea of “a dinner date over Zoom.” With this, it would enable others to go on dates and eat food together in the virtual space. “I did one of those with my boyfriend while we were actually quarantining,” she concluded.
With the safety guidelines in place for COVID-19, most people will not be able to celebrate Valentine’s Day the same way they did the year prior. While some people celebrated the holiday with some sort of party, Ella Wright, a freshman this year, stated that she likes “bringing cookies or something to school to share with people.” However, due to contact tracing, social distancing, and other guidelines, sharing treats in school is likely not an option this year.
To find a solution to this problem, she suggests that one way to show our appreciation for others is to “make something, and leave it on someone’s front porch.” This idea would enable people to share their gifts and treats like most years, while limiting contact with others.
Wright added on to this by saying, “I am planning on making some cookies, or cupcakes, or something and taking them around to my neighbors.” Even if students do not live close enough to friends and family where they can give them gifts, mailing them is always a viable option as well.
“I think others can do things for the holiday if they want to, as long as they are staying safe and doing their best to distance,” Keira Vasbinder, a 10th grade student advised. Whether it’s a Zoom meeting, virtual movie party, a virtual dinner date, watching movies, baking for others, or simply sending a thoughtful text, there are many ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day safely, and follow the guidelines in place. “You’re still connecting,” Vasbinder continued, “just in a different way.”