SEPTEMBER 2021 – Twenty years have passed since the attacks on September 11, 2001, an event that devastated the nation and forever changed the lives of many. Nearly 3,000 people were killed, and another 6,000 people were injured. Sept. 11 has become a great divider amongst generations, separating those who witnessed it from those who grew up during the aftermath.
The students of Bio-Med Science Academy were not alive on 9/11. However, Kadence Papantonakis, a sophomore, has a personal connection to that day: her mom, Trisha Shaffer Papantonakis.
“If the plane had crashed a couple of blocks over, my whole family would not be here. My siblings and I would not exist,” Papantonakis said. In 2001, her mom was attending college to study criminal justice and interning at the Pentagon.
“That morning she didn’t have breakfast so she went to ask someone to take her to get some food and that’s when she heard a big crash. Once the planes hit, everyone evacuated and no one was completely sure what happened until they saw the damage,” Papantonakis said when describing her mom’s experience.
Memories of that day remain vivid for many people 20 years later. Two Bio-Med teachers reflected on their whereabouts when they received the news of the attacks.
Mrs. Whitney Mihalik, the eleventh grade college, career, and civics teacher, was 13 years old on 9/11. “It was a week before my 14th birthday, and I was in third period honors social studies,” she said.
“My teacher told us to pay attention to what’s happening. So that was the first time I decided to pay attention to what was going on in the world because I didn’t know who Osma Bin-Laden was. I didn’t know where Afghanistan or Iraq was. But, after that, you didn’t have a choice – everyone knew,” she continued.
Mihalik stated, “After 9/11, everyone in America became super patriotic, which is a good thing. I think patriotism is fine but then that patriotism shifts into some scary nationalism, which I think we are seeing today. With that, comes a shift in what’s acceptable and what Americans should look like. This is my seventh year as a teacher and when teaching history, having that conversation is tricky because I have students and their parents who have opinions on what I should be teaching.”
Ms. Tracie McFerren, the sophomore English teacher, worked as the art director for Cleveland/Akron Family Magazine at the time. “The plane that ended up going down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania actually flew over Cleveland airspace,” she said. “There were rumors that there was also a suspicious plane at Cleveland Hopkins Airport that was being held or detained, so they evacuated everyone in downtown Cleveland… I remember driving home and thinking, ‘the world is never going to be the same again.’”
When asked if she felt students were becoming less aware of the effects the 9/11 attacks had on the United States, McFerren replied, “Students know about it, they’ve heard about it, they know what happened, and all of the basic facts, but it is hard to get across the feelings on that day. You can describe how you felt and what you saw, but it is hard to express to someone who didn’t experience the same moment of shock that we all felt.”
Members of Generation Z, those born after 1996, have only hazy memories of the 9/11 attacks or learned about them secondhand.
Logan Hoskinson, a freshman, learned about the attacks in school. “I was in third grade in my social studies class when my teacher decided to talk about 9/11 finally, but they didn’t say very much. We watched three YouTube videos about it, and that was mainly it,” he said.
Senior Ian Ruehr stated, “If it came up in conversation in class, we would talk about it for a little bit, but it was never something that we really went out of our way to talk about.”
Growing up in a post-9/11 world meant developments like stricter airport security, extreme patriotism, or the U.S. war on terror have always been a reality for students.
Alex Hale-Hartman, a senior, felt that after the attacks, American ideals were imposed upon everyone, furthering Islamophobic sentiment. “When I read up on 9/11, I become very grossed out and disgusted by democracy spreaders who wanted to tear down other people’s way of living just because they thought ours was better, ” said Hale-Hartman. “People are extremely closed off to non-western points of view,” he remarked.
Ruehr stated, “When I was younger, I always heard about the Taliban and ISIS and all of the terrorist attacks. I have definitely grown, and my world views have improved, but those early years definitely set a groundwork that I’m still working to fix.”
9/11 was the defining moment for many individuals, impacting their hopes, fears, and futures. Both consciously and unconsciously, the events of 9/11 have shaped the way society is viewed, even for the younger generations that did not live through it.
SEPTEMBER 2021 – Bio-Med Science Academy’s staff saw a lot of staffing changes over the summer as ten new teachers joined the campus and five have switched positions.
Among these new teachers is Ms. Sarah Welton, the seventh-grade English teacher. She was a student at Kent State when one of her professors informed Welton of an opening at her daughter’s school, Bio-Med. After Welton sent her resume to Charmayne Polen, Chief Operating Officer and Principal, she was called in for an interview where she was asked about her teaching style. She commented on this, saying, “They called me back since they really liked what I had to say about teaching writing and how I think it should focus on voice and purpose to make it more meaningful.” She said this teaching style also fits well with master-based learning.
Welton has prior experience as a student teacher at Stanton Middle School in Kent. The most significant difference she noticed between her previous school and Bio-Med was increased student engagement and freedom.
“I enjoy having more freedom like this, rather than in a traditional setting. It helps students to care more about their education and feel more comfortable in school and being part of the school. I’ve noticed students seem more invested in their learning,” she said.
Mr. Randy Rininger, former seventh-grade English teacher and current Dean of Students, helped her select a few books, but she is otherwise planning all of her lessons on her own.
Overall, she’s excited for her future at Bio-Med and stated, “I just really like being here. The seventh-graders are really great. It’s cool to see how excited everyone in this building is to have those new students here and to see more potential coming into the school as the years go on.”
Like Welton, Ms. Kaitlyn Long, the sophomore history teacher, also attended Kent State when her adviser reached out to her to recommend her for an opening in Bio-Med’s seventh grade. After going through the application and interviewing process, she was contacted by Lindsey McLaughlin, Chief Operating Officer and Principal.
“Mrs. Mclaughlin called me and said, ‘Our tenth grade position opened up, would you want that instead?’ and I said, ‘Yes absolutely,’” Long recalled. “I had done most of my work in high schools, but I would have been okay with teaching either middle or high school.”
Except for her student teaching, Long had no prior experience working as a teacher, so she came in with an open mind. “I was ready to do whatever, to run things how they run things at Bio-Med. I was prepared for anything,” she said.
Since the sophomore team is completely new with the exception of Ms. Tracie McFerran who moved from her previous position on the senior team, many students reported concern for the curriculum and how it will compare to previous years. However, Long viewed this as an opportunity, saying, “We’re all figuring everything out together at the same time. It’s nice that we get a clean slate.”
Specifically, her history class will be different from last year. “I got access to a folder that [the previous teacher] used, but I’ve elected to not follow it in the same way, because I’ve worked with an eleventh-grade teacher and redesigned how the history classes lined up with each other,” she explained.
Long is looking forward to her future with Bio-Med. “It’s really great to be here. Everyone’s been really welcoming.”
Similarly, Mr. Eric Salmen was an intern for Bio-Med with Kent State University two years ago, helping with summer extension. Bio-Med reached out to him in July of this year, and he accepted the position of senior math teacher since he was intrigued by the school.
“I know they do a lot of things differently here,” he said. “A lot of it lines up with my core values, especially how I like to grade things based on the mastery scale, as well as PBLs, but I specifically like focusing on pattern recognition and where you can find math in real life, and where you can apply it in real life.”
Salmen held teaching positions at Kent State and University of Mount Union, and is still working at Stark State College as a mathematics adjunct professor. This means teaching at Bio-Med is a difficult yet exciting transition for him.
“I’ve been a college teacher for seven or eight years, and now I’m going to a high school, so that’s going to be huge. That’s going to be different in a couple different aspects. Though it gives me an edge, since I still work at Stark State, I can provide students resources and tell them how things operate,” he said.
He began using the flipped classroom teaching style, where he gave students reading material before class and assignments during class, so students have more opportunities to clarify any confusion as they work. Although he still needs to keep teaching somewhat traditionally to prepare students for college, he said the mastery system works well with his new teaching style.
“While grades are always going to be some sort of component, how much they collaborate with one another and how much they interact with me will definitely play a part. If you are struggling, especially since we have this class time, ask me questions. I am a resource for you,” he said.
Salmen also commented on how his classes now tie into others. “In calculus, a lot of it has physics, and every senior has to take physics, so if they bring those physics applications into calc class, that’s going to exceed mastery since they’re able to apply that knowledge to different disciplines… . That’s one of the things I love, that whole ‘integration: where can you apply it.’”
He summarized his feelings about the school, saying, “I’m really excited to adapt to how Bio-Med does things, especially the mastery-based learning system. It makes so much sense. I’d love to integrate more of my traditional stuff into that mastery base. I’m really looking forward to it.”
In addition to these three teachers, James Pennell, Hajnal Eppley, Heidi Hisrich, Jackie Walker, Catherine Panchyshyn, Melissa Cairns, and Carrie Sinkele have also joined the Bio-Med team. Nejla Shaheen is the new eighth-grade science teacher. Janna Mino is now teaching the seniors instead of the sophomores. Finally, Rebecca Putman is the new art teacher, who previously taught art at the Shalersville Campus.
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.
May 2021 – It is National Pet Month in the United States. To celebrate this occasion, here are even more featured pets from the Bio-Med Science Academy community.
Sophia Christian, eighth grader, has a blue and gold macaw named Carla. Carla was rescued from a neglectful household. She can say a few words, including her name. She will lay next to someone or one them to receive pets, and while she cannot fly, Carla enjoys going outside.
Christian also has a new basset hound puppy named Doc, who was adopted because the previous dog Christian’s family had passed away. The family also has many other pets other than Carla and Doc.
“They’re not pets, they are family members. I would die for my pets. Truly I love them all,” Christian declared.
Rio and Echo are two four-year-old green cheek conures belonging to seventh grade student Laci Zamora. Rio likes tissues and plastic bags, and he bites. There is a cabinet he likes to hide under, where he also stores his tissues.
Echo also bites, and is generally grumpy, but can get cuddly if it is quiet and he is alone. Echo also enjoys popcorn.
Zamora is also fostering an aggressive nine-year-old quaker bird named Birdie. She likes pizza and cuddling, though if she is on the person’s shoulder then ears should be protected from her.
Finally, Zamora has a super cuddly three-year-old Hoffman conure named Jabez. According to Zamora, Hoffman conures are very uncommon, and are currently unable to be bought. Jabez always gets first dibs on a cup of water.
Zamora stated having pets means “responsibility, companionship, enjoyment of another living creature, [and] also less food because they steal yours.”
Eighth grader Van Leichliter has Norwegian elkhound and keeshond mix named Solvi. Solvi is very nice and, according to Leichliter, “the best dog you could ever ask for.”
Leichliter said pets are “an extension of [your] family.”
Rachel Mollohan, seventh grade student, has a nocturnal reptile named Ash. Ash is cute and very jumpy. He likes to climb, explore, and eat crickets. Ash also enjoys licking random things, and if they do not taste good he attacks them. Mollohan also has a guinea pig named S’more, who is very cute, cuddly, and shy.
“Pets [are there] to play with when you are bored or sad, and to build responsibility, and they can cuddle with you,” Mollohan said.
Tenth grader Kailan Donecker has four pets. The first is a snake named Knox, whose addition to the family convinced Donecker’s mom to like snakes. Next is a dog named Blu, who is very sweet and likes to lick.
Then there are two cats, Raven and Max. Raven was found under a bush, and after trying to find her a home, the Donecker family decided to keep her. Max enjoys picking on Raven and has twenty-two toes in total.
“[Pets] are family. Even if they are not the same species or related by blood. They make me very happy and I consider them my fur-siblings,” said Donecker.
Monte is a seven-year-old cat belonging to eighth grade student Caroline Brunn. Monte thinks he is the king of the house, and is cute and chunky.
“Pets are like friends you can buy, but in a less weird way,” commented Brunn.
Nona and Bella are two cats belonging to Ms. Stephanie Hammond, a school counselor at BMSA. Nona is nine years old and has spent eight with Hammond. She is small in stature but has a big personality, and is the head of the household with “the demands of a diva.” Hammond described her as a “regal being.”
Bella is eight years old but behaves like she is three with all of her energy. She loves to snuggle and play, even with her puppy friend. Bella is independent but also very loving.
“Nona and Bella are my furry children! While cats are pretty independent, these two love to spend time and be around when I am home! I love sitting on the couch under a blanket with them snuggled up and napping. When I travel I miss them terribly and spoil them to no end every chance I can!” Ms. Hammond expressed.
Twelfth grade student Suzie Krauss has a Boer goat named Jack. Jack is very sassy and thinks he is still a baby. He enjoys headbutting people, including an attempt on a three-year-old child. He has also broken everything Krauss’s family owns.
“Animals are important and they deserve the utmost respect and the best care possible. It’s our responsibility as the overlords of this planet to protect them and their natural environment,” stated Krauss.
Ms. Maggie Huffman, a receptionist at BMSA, has two dogs, Dakota and Paisley. Dakota is a nine-year old English mastiff and Paisley is an eleven-year-old Boston terrier. Both dogs enjoy being lazy and laying by the fire, but then act like puppies as soon as they go outside. They are also incredibly loving animals.
Huffman also has a cat named Hank, who is a nine-month-old rescue. He is crossed eyed, and he enjoys playing fetch with stuffed animals.
“Our pets are additional family members, who need love and attention just like anyone else. Our life wouldn’t be whole with our them,” said Ms. Huffman.
Kloe is a pit bull belonging to Zachary Hamilton, an eighth grader. Kloe is very calm and always itchy.
“[Pets are] calming. I consider them people, not assets,” Hamilton stated.
Tenth grade student Erika Bentley has a three-year-old mutt named Nyla. Nyla’s favorite hobbies include, though are not limited to, playing fetch, running as fast as she can around the house, and barking at the cows across the street.
Recently Nyla underwent ACL surgery, a type of knee surgery, and is currently in recovery. She has been spending her days napping and dreaming of playing with the cows.
“I love my pet Nyla. She is always there for me to play with and she comforts me when I need it. Throughout covid nyla and I have tried so many things. We’ve visited new parks, we’ve learned new tricks, and we have learned a lot of patience and adaptability together. I would not be who I am without her,” Bentley said.
Kat is a retired racehorse belonging to seventh grader Caroline Markulis.
“[Pets] mean a non-human companion, who gives you attention and the other way around,” said Markulis.
Kaytlin Haylett, eleventh grade student, has a yorkie poodle mix named Lacey. Haylett described Lacey as “the most human-like dog in the world.”
Haylett also has a kitten named Sasuke, who has two siblings named Sakura and Sushi.
“They’re my comfort animals,” Haylett said in regard to her pets.
Eighth grade English instructor Mr. Aaron Ettinger has a ball python named Lucy who likes rats and naps.
Ettinger also has a tailless whip scorpion named Grogu who enjoys bugs and hiding in logs.
“Owning weird critters is fun. It keeps me curious and accountable,” stated Mr. Ettinger.
Ms. Brianna While, BSMA’s District Administrative Assistant, has two cats, Catalina and Wallace. Catalina is a twelve-year-old domestic shorthair and is the boss of the house.
Wallace is seven years old and only answers to “Fat Baby.”
“To me, pets have always been wonderful companions that bring joy to myself and my family,” stated Ms. While.
Eighth grade student Sophie Wiley has two goldendoodles named Harper and Finigan. Harper looks more like a poodle, and is very wild and will “do anything to get food.” Finigan looks more like a golden retriever, and is very sweet, shy, and a “scardy cat.”
Wiley also has a hedgehog named Maggie. Maggie sleeps all day, but can be very loud at night when she runs on her wheel.
“Pets are companions…with their own personalities and deserve to be loved like a family member,” Wiley said.
Bricco is an energetic and stubborn mini goldendoodle belonging to Ms. Shana Varner, BMSA’s eleventh grade Anatomy and Physiology instructor. Bricco just turned two years old this past January 26th. He loves big trucks, motorcycles, peanut butter, being outside, all toys that squeak, and his kitty pool. Bricco is best friends with a 120-pound pit bull named Thor, and their favorite game is tug-of-war. He also likes to alligator roll in the bathtub.
“Everything!” Ms. Varner stated in regard to what pets mean to her.
Twelfth grade student Blessing Mupinga had an African pygmy hedgehog named Kashi, who unfortunately passed away in July of 2020 at the age of four. Kashi enjoyed running, playing hide and seek, sleeping, eating, and pooping in Mupinga’s bed.
“Pets are a source of emotional companionship that teach you how to love, care, and provide for something all while being in a symbiotic relationship in which both parties benefit from the love, happiness, appreciation, attachment and care that each gives to the other,” expressed Mupinga.
Dakota Rennecker, eighth grader, has three dogs. First is an eighth-month-old chocolate labrador named Moka, who is very hyper.
Next is seven-year-old Harlie, a black labrador who once grabbed Rennecker by the hood of her sweatshirt and dragged her around the yard.
Then there is a twelve-year-old schnauzer named BooBear. She loves going on walks, sleeping, and watching TV with Rennecker’s father.
Rennecker also has a cat named Mr. Chubbs, who likes to sleep on the piano and follows her around the house. He is very cuddly and sleeps in Rennecker’s room every night.
“Pets are a very big thing to me. A lot of times when I’m upset or not in a good mood they can sense it. They make me calm down and they brighten the mood to any situation. They are also a big anxiety helper,” Rennecker stated.
Seventh grade student Charli Evanish has three cats. The first is a black Persian cat named Smooshie who is very fluffy, fat, and snorts a lot because of his squished face.
Next is a Ragdoll cat named Benson who has blue eyes and a few near-death experiences. Benson is grumpy, not a fan of people, and not very cuddly, but his family loves him anyway.
Last is Bob, who was found in Evanish’s backyard. Originally the family was just going to get him neutered and release him, but Bob stuck around. He is blind in one eye, has a crooked tail, a chipped ear, and many scars. Bob is very cuddly and loves his people.
“All of my pets are family and very important to us, we love them all so much. Pets are more than just animals, they can boost your mood when [you’re] sad and be there for you when [you’re] happy!” Evanish enthused.
Owen Sprague, ninth grader, has a big cat named Cheese.
“Pets mean a lot to me,” said Sprague.
Annie is an energetic seventeen-year-old Paso Fino horse belonging to twelfth grade student Elena Kline. “Annie” is short for Ansiosa, which is the Spanish word for “anxious.” Kline has been riding her for five years. Based on her breed, she is an easy gaited horse, meaning she does not trot. Annie’s favorite speed is fast, and she loves food.
“Sometimes, when horses want to taste something better, they will put their nose up and curl their lip back, making them smile. Annie does this on command if I squeeze her nose!” explained Kline. “She is very sweet to the other horses and she loves to go on trail rides. She can be quite sassy and during shows will sometimes begin sidepassing (walking sideways) or just stop moving altogether. But I am very patient with her and I love her very much.”
“I think pets are a way for people to have a companion that will support them, keep them company, listen to them, and love them unconditionally. Many people need their pets as a friend or as an extension of their family,” Kline stated.
Seventh grader Gianna Copen has a ten-month-old long white tailed chinchilla named Chi Chi. Chi Chi is noisy and playful. One time she pulled her cage apart while Copen was sleeping to make a slot she could slip through. A new cage had to be bought.
Copen also has a three-year-old black mini lop rabbit named Coco. Coco is generally very content, but “will tell you that she is in charge if you make her mad.” She once escaped while Copen was cleaning Coco’s cage outside, and Copen’s mother had to help catch her.
“I just love spending time with animals because they are so fun and friendly to be around,” said Copen.
Cyrus is a beagle belonging to tenth grader Skylar Earl. Cyrus loves to learn and knows around 40 tricks. He and Earl go on lots of adventures together, but they also like simply hanging out as well. Earl called Cyrus “a really good boy.”
“[Pets] really bring me happiness because they’re always there. Picking the right pet for you is very important but when you find the right animal or animals then it’s amazing. Pets for me are something different than friends or people because of their difference from us. They are definitely part of the family,” said Earl.
Kylee Staggs, tenth grade student, has a cat named Stormie. Stormie is around four years old. He enjoys looking out windows and staring at walls at night.
“Pets just make my day because they seem so innocent and sweet. Stormie is always there for me when I’m sad and animals in general just make me happier,” Staggs stated.
Tenth grader Marina Levy has a bearded dragon named Toothless. Toothless is sassy, enjoys climbing on her stick, and “hates bath time with a burning passion.”
Pumpkin is Levy’s goldendoodle. Pumpkin likes jumping into lakes with no warning and sleeping with her stuffed animals, and dislikes going outside.
Levy also has a one-month-old leopard gecko named Little Foot Tyson, who loves to jump at his food and make a mess, and to “wonder at night.”
“[Pets] are friends in the journey of life. They will stay by your side no matter what and always bring a good attitude into your days,” Levy said.
Zoei Zaveson, seventh grade student, has a friendly and playful horse named Maggie. Maggie is twenty-five years old, but acts like she is two. She loves little kids and playing tag with Zaveson around the arena. Sometimes she likes to get out of doing work though.
Zaveson also has an eight-month-old cat named Peach. Peach is playful and affectionate, and likes to kiss people on the nose. According to Zaveson, she is also “the spawn of the devil.”
“I think of pets like people. You want to treat them as if they were your kids,” said Zaveson.
MAY 2021 – As the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, so does my time as editor and chief of The Hive. Our other senior staff members will also be leaving as they graduate and move on to their post-high school lives. This year, as a staff, we wrote and published 32 articles which garnered a total of 2,574 views on our webpage, a 300% increase compared to last year. We also raised a little over $300 from our Saint Patrick’s Day Fundraiser which will be put towards our WordPress subscription, an Ohio Scholastic Media Association membership, and potentially creating printed copies of some of our issues.
The Hive began only a year ago, yet so much progress has already been made since then. “The first year of Newspaper (2019-2020) was definitely a growth year, and there were a lot of growing pains associated with it as we created and then tweaked our process. This year, however, we have found an efficient process that seems to work for everyone even with more than half our staff being online. It all works mainly because the staff has been so great this year. Our newspaper editor and reporters work pretty independently, so it’s important that they have the discipline, organization, and passion to do that, and this staff certainly does! I’m really proud of how far they’ve come since the beginning of the year; they’ve been wonderful to work with, and I’ll definitely miss the seniors,” said newspaper advisor, Ms. Bates.
The staff has worked very hard this year, releasing an issue for almost every month and covering a range of sophisticated topics as well as some silly ones too.
Ms. Bates explained, “Today, more than ever, student journalism is essential. It’s important that students — those on staff as well as those reading our publication — understand the purpose of the legitimate press. Good reporting is accurate, factual, and trustworthy, and these students are learning not only journalistic style but also the ethics associated with reporting.”
Each one of our staff members has been able to take away valuable lessons from Newspaper, despite it being the reporters’ first year.
Havann Brown was especially proud of her progress and her work. She explained, “Coming in, I did not know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised by how fun it is to be a member of the staff. I was able to improve both my writing and interviewing skills while also working on my time management to meet deadlines. I love having the freedom to be able to choose whatever topic I want to report on because I can focus on current events that interest me and issues I am passionate about. This year I covered a wide range of subjects from the Black Lives Matter movement along with the Black student experience at Bio-Med to the debate on raising the minimum wage and I enjoyed every second of it. Knowing that people read your work each month and care what you have to say is an amazing feeling.”
McKenna Burckett specifically loved being a part of our fundraiser: “Being in the newspaper staff is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. It’s allowed me to integrate with the other grades and delve into topics I’m interested in within the school. My writing has improved immensely with all of the practice, and I really enjoyed finding the rhythm of publishing. The most unique experience by far was the Saint Patrick’s Day fundraiser. There were only three of us at school, so we had to create the cards, fill the bags. and sell all by ourselves. It took up the entirety of advisory for about three weeks. Even though it was a lot of work, it was super fun! I liked hearing the younger kids whisper their crushes to us so we could deliver them an anonymous bag. I liked being recognized as “the candy lady” in the hallways. It made me feel like I was contributing to something larger. Plus, the repetitive task of filling bags and writing names felt like a nice break for my brain. I’m excited for next year, as I know there’s going to be a bigger class. That will make me feel less weird about going around looking for interviews. I look forward to helping the underclassmen if they need it and can’t wait for the other collaborative opportunities the newspaper will provide.
Our photographer, Owen Baird, was thankful for the creativity the club inspired. He explained, “Some of the things I enjoyed about the newspaper club was being a part of the process of the creation of the articles. I always enjoyed reading through the articles and learning about the interesting things in the articles. I really enjoyed making cutlines for photos that the author of the article had taken and brainstorming with the author about what images they wanted in their articles.”
Serena Gestring liked connecting with people and also saw improvement within her writing. “I actually really enjoy our staff meetings because I like hearing everyone’s ideas for what to write about and what they are interested in. I also enjoyed writing the article about teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic because I interviewed one of my past teachers, so it was nice to talk to him again; one teacher who has been around for my four years but who I never had, so I got to know her a little better; and one lower academy teacher who I got to meet for the first time, and otherwise probably would not have gotten to know if not for this article. I also enjoyed writing the article because I worked with Kaden Starkey, my best friend, and we always work really well together. It was overall a good experience,” she shared.
Gestring continued, “My journalism skills have definitely improved. I am really good at writing analytical and research essays in my classes, but those styles of writing are different from journalistic writing, so it was a shift. Ms. Bates, the Hive advisor, actually told me that the first draft of my second article read a lot like a research paper, and she gave me tips on how to make it be more of an article. As I wrote more articles I think it became easier to write like that. I have also gotten better at coming up with relevant and intriguing questions to ask people I am interviewing, because previously that was a struggle.” While she enjoyed her experience, Newspaper also allowed her to come to the conclusion that journalism is not the career for her
For Kaden Starkey, the newspaper was a way for him to push the bounds of his comfort zone and become more involved in the community. “I originally joined newspaper because of scheduling logistics, though it wasn’t the sole reason. I always thought that being a part of a school newspaper was something I would enjoy, but my anxiety stops that thought in its tracks. In a way, scheduling issues allowed me to force myself out of my comfort zone to do something I was holding myself back from doing, and for that, I am honestly really grateful,” he explained.
He specifically noted the confidence he’s gained throughout his experience: “Newspaper has allowed me to not worry so much about whether or not what I am writing is good enough or not. Teachers and friends tell me that I am a great writer, but I truly do not see it. I don’t hold any confidence in the things that I write – I feel it is all terrible. When getting monthly feedback from Bates and Aliscia on my articles, I was always beyond shocked that there weren’t more errors or any negative comments. I’ve been trying to let that sink in. I’ve been trying to build some confidence in the things I write.” Starkey was also grateful for the challenge that conducting interviews posed since communication will be an important part of his future career in graphic design.
“I’m actually quite sad that I won’t be able to be a part of the Hive staff for another year. I really didn’t expect that being a part of newspaper would leave a lasting impression on me, but it did. Despite this school year being beyond abnormal, I feel I’ve left with important lessons and experiences,” he concluded.
Moving forward, the newspaper will be expanding from eight members to 17, and grades nine through twelve will be on staff for the first time. Former reporter Havann Brown will become the new editor and chief.
“I am very excited to be editor-in-chief next school year. We will be expanding our staff and making some fun changes so I can’t wait to see how everything comes together. I expect that it will be another great year for The Hive,” she said.
The Hive has been a defining opportunity for this year’s students and will go on to influence countless others, staff members and readers alike. I’m endlessly grateful for having had the opportunity to be a part of such a great team and I wish next year’s staff an even better year of reporting.
Vax-Teen: Teenagers Now Eligible for Covid Vaccine
by Havann Brown, staff writer
May 2021 – Vaccine eligibility has expanded across the United States. All Ohioans ages 16 and older can receive the COVID vaccine. The Ohio Department of Health said those aged 16 and 17 must have parental consent for any vaccine and must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, shortly after, former President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, prompting states to issue stay-at-home orders and mask mandates. Scientific teams around the world immediately went to work to develop successful vaccines. Nine months later, on Dec. 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S.
Since Pfizer, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine have been authorized for emergency use. According to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the time of writing, over 213 million vaccines have been administered in the United States. The J&J and Moderna vaccines are recommended for individuals over the age of 18 and the companies have begun testing the vaccine in adolescents.
The Pfizer vaccine is recommended for anyone 16 and older. The company announced it submitted clinical trial data for adolescents 12 to 15 years old to the FDA for emergency use authorization. The results show the vaccine is 100% effective in preventing all symptoms of the virus after completing the trial with 2,300 adolescent participants. KHOU reported that Pfizer aims to offer the COVID vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds by next school year.
Some students at Bio-Med Science Academy are currently eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. While some individuals shared their plans to get the vaccine, others shared their concerns and feelings of apprehension.
When asked about his opinions on the vaccine, Junior Josh Mudd stated plainly, “It’s a waste. Covid is not scary and it’s not that bad in my opinion, because I’ve had it.”
Sophomore Tessa Wood stated, “I have received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. I decided to get vaccinated so I can help protect my family and feel safer at school!”
Juniors Kelsea Cooper and Dennis Bunner shared their vaccination plans.
Bunner intends to get the vaccine soon. He clarified, “My reason for wanting the vaccine is probably less for me and more for my grandma. I am the only one in my family who has not gotten the vaccine and I have not been able to visit her. I think she would feel more comfortable if I were vaccinated.”
Cooper received her first dose of the vaccine on April 14. “It seemed like the most logical thing to do,” she said. “There was no scientific or religious reason as to why I should not get it.
“I see why some people are wary of getting the vaccine because it’s so new but at the same time, other vaccines were also very new when people got them. I can also see how some people are misinformed because they do not understand the science behind it, but if you just take the time to research it for yourself, you could find a website that explains it to you in layman’s terms,” she added.
Juniors Codi Goldsboro and Brian Crum decided against getting the vaccine.
Goldsboro explained, “I am not really planning on getting it. It is nothing against the system. I just believe that it is too soon to get it. I am still young so if I do get Covid, I know my body can break it down easier than some elderly. I would rather not get it to save that vaccine for someone my age that has health issues because they are at a higher risk.”
Crum stated, “The reason that I don’t want to get it is because I’ve seen my grandpa get blood clots and I heard on the news that some of the vaccines were causing blood clots so that pushed me away from getting vaccinated…I also don’t really like needles so if I don’t have to get it, I’m not going to.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was recently put on pause when a rare blood-clotting disorder emerged in six recipients after 6.8 million doses were administered in the U.S. Officials launched an investigation into the clotting issue during the 10-day hold. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accepted an advisory panel’s decision that the benefits of the shots outweighed the risks, which will put the vaccine back into circulation in the coming days.
Two current seniors offered their views on the vaccine.
Emily Richmond wrote, “I might get the vaccine eventually, but at this point, no, I do not want to get it. My family and I have already gotten the virus. We have absolutely no idea how we got it because we were following all of the health and safety recommendations (mask-wearing, hand sanitizer, et cetera). Whether or not I have the antibodies to help protect me from potential reinfection, I don’t know. This virus is new and we are learning more and more about it each and every day and I have heard that if you get the virus you may or may not have lasting immunity. I try my best to make an informed factual decision about things like this.
“In addition to that, this vaccine, although it has gone through extensive testing, is very new and I am just concerned with what the effects will be in the years to come, whereas with other vaccines that have been around for a long time, we know how they affect us in the long run and what their potential side effects are,” she added.
Mario Frisone plans on receiving the vaccine. He noted, “I think the general consensus of both the public as well as health officials is that the COVID-19 shot, whether from any of the large distributors, is the best tool to fight in the direction of a more normalized world.
“It would be reasonable to say that I and many others have felt the pressure of some degree to get the vaccine. It has seemingly been a topic at the forefront of all informative and social media platforms. Now that we have arrived at the stage of COVID relief where young adults and more of the populace are able to be vaccinated, the expectation is that everyone who is able should be getting it. I personally agree that this pressure is generally positive and helpful. That being said, I will always maintain the position that everyone has the right to deny whatever medical treatment they participate in, for whatever reason they see fit. It is important to understand that although you may protest vaccines to any level, the repercussions will likely affect more people than yourself,” he continued.
Bio-Med offered a student vaccination clinic through Akron Children’s Hospital on April 30, with the second dose scheduled for May 21.
MAY 2021 – On May 21, Bio-Med Science Academy’s Class of 2021 will say goodbye to underclassmen as they spend their last official academic day on campus. Many of the seniors will be heading to college, entering the workforce, and some will become service members of the United States Armed Forces within the coming months.
As they prepare to start new chapters of their lives, When asked if they had any words of wisdom for current underclassmen, many were eager and wished they had received some advice themselves.
Some pointed to their experience outside of the classroom. Christian Carmichael stated that students should try their best to, “Think big, dream big, and be great.”
Jacob Fergis looked to pop culture for inspiration, quoting Richard Vernon of The Breakfast Club: “You ought to spend a little more time trying to do something with yourself and a little less trying to impress people.”
Avery Coates noted that, “Oftentimes, the simplest answer is likely the correct or most realistic answer. Don’t overthink the little things in life and put that energy towards things that help you and those around you.”
Others offered short advice, specific to their time at Bio-Med and school in general.
Due to the unusual STEM+M based curriculum and focus on project based learning, it can be difficult for some to adjust to Bio-Med. This sometimes results in students leaving the academy to return to their home schools or a curriculum with which they are more familiar. One senior promises that the struggles are worth it in the end. “Bio-Med isn’t an easy school, but that makes it worth it. The headaches and long to-do lists will make you want to give up and leave, but it’s the hard work that will push you so much further,” said Kassidy Hirst.
Starting freshman year, it was made very clear to students at Bio-Med’s Upper Academy that a specific number of volunteer hours were required to graduate. Yet, some students have still struggled finding those hours. Blessing Mupinga warned, “Don’t procrastinate and get volunteer hours as early as you can.”
Many seniors stressed the importance of maintaining good grades and dedication to school work. Zane Price shared this sentiment, stating, “Make sure to do your work. Your grades freshman year set the course of your GPA, and it’s very hard to dig yourself out of that hole.” Unfortunately, the pressure to maintain good academics can be very stressful for some students. Drake Duncan suggested that students should, “Prioritize school work first and then use free time after. That’s a great way to save a lot of stress and perform better on projects.”
Also focusing on school projects, Adriana Cooper stated, “Take each project and day one step at a time. Sometimes school can get really overwhelming, and I think it’s important to take a step back and realize the overall goal.”
Others suggested simple ways to better perform in the classroom. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand something,” stated Amani Chava.
Outside of academics, Ella Case encouraged others to,“have fun in high school while it lasts. Graduation comes sooner than you think.”
The final group of seniors needed a few more sentences to detail their experience at the academy.
Michala Hrusovsky stated, “I’d suggest multiple things. Never be afraid to ask questions. Some things will be difficult and it will always benefit you to ask for help. Participate in as many clubs or extracurriculars as possible. It’s a nice bonding experience and you meet some great people! Practice time management skills. It will help in the end so you are not doing everything at the last second and stressing yourself out. Some things will be difficult, but that’s okay. Your teachers are here to help you and you should never give up.”
Aliscia Phillips assured that, “It’s okay to need a break, it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to slow down. I spent a lot of my time throughout high school being stressed out. Time management has a lot to do with that so I would recommend listening to your teachers when they tell you not to procrastinate, but some things are just out of your control. School isn’t a competition (or at least it shouldn’t be) so comparing yourself and your progress to other people is pointless because they are not on the same journey you are. Focus on personal growth and know that the people around you, especially your teachers, are here to help you.”
Mario Frisone suggested that students, “Set both short and long term goals that apply strictly to academics and stay motivated by the little victories over assignments and projects. Your success is not determined by the volume of strenuous work that you can do, nor by your natural intellect. It is typically a result of how well you can apply your individual strengths to any given situation. Do not subject yourself to hours of grueling work every week. Go explore and live life as a teenager. Work hard, play harder.”
As underclassmen advance through the academy and fill the place of the Class of 2021, many seniors are hopeful that the advice they have given will help them to reach the full potential of their high school career.
Buckle Up! The Roadmap to Getting Your Driver’s License
by Alyssa Cocchiola, staff writer
MAY 2021 – Getting a driver’s license is often viewed as a sign of maturity and freedom among teens. However, it also comes with a lot of responsibility. The process to obtain a license is less glamorous than some may think.
“To obtain your license you must study for your temporary license test, take the test and pass, attend driving school, take the final exam and pass,” shared Blessing Mupinga, a senior with her license.
After taking a test on road signs and traffic laws at a Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), teenagers 15 ½ years old are eligible to get their temporary license. Questions are based on the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws, and consist of two, 20-question sections. In order to pass, 15 questions from each portion need to be answered correctly.
After passing a temporary license test, proof of the following needs to be provided:
– Residency of Ohio – Identity – Date of birth – Social Security number – Legal U.S. presence
A temporary license allows drivers to operate motor vehicles while accompanied by their parents or guardians. It is required that drivers collect a minimum of 50 driving hours with their temps, with ten being at night.
Mupinga shared the next steps in the process. “Do what’s known as ‘in-cars’ which are four, two-hour driving lessons with an instructor. And then take a road test where they test you on maneuverability and driving,” she continued. “And if you pass, you get your license.”
Drivers who are 18 years and older can get their license without taking the 24-hour classes or in-cars. Instead, they are required to hold a temporary license for at least six months and complete the required amount of driving hours.
Driving Classes After receiving their temps, the next step for students is to enroll in driving school. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, driving schools operate differently. There used to be a variety of online and in-person classes; however, many driving schools switched to online learning. As a result, doing the driving classes is not as simple as entering a physical classroom.
“I personally think the online/zoom driving classes are better for me because we don’t live close to many driving schools,” Skyler Earl, a sophomore enrolled in All Star Driving School, said. “This means I’d have to drive about half an hour both ways, but with Zoom I can hop on in minutes. I can also either plan [a schedule for] my lessons or look at the clock and realize I have time for a lesson five minutes before it starts. I also feel like I pay attention more than if I were in a classroom.”
Students like Earl are able to get a sense of face-to-face instruction through Zoom lectures as well as transportation benefits. However, being at home still can provide distractions at times.
“One negative is background noise from my family in other rooms,” Earl said. “Another rare problem I’ve had is internet issues, which can interrupt some content from the lesson. Overall I like online driving school a lot; I find it more engaging and convenient.”
However, not all driving schools operate through Zoom. Some are completely asynchronous with online lesson pages.
Blessing Mupinga also took driving classes online and noted it was one of the setbacks for her. “The process [for getting a license] is kind of time consuming,” she said. “I did my driving school online but forgot about it for a while until a month before the program expired.”
Despite the setback, she still managed to complete all the required steps to get her license. She advised future students looking towards getting their license to “only do online driving school if you have good personal agency.”
The Driving Test
After finishing 24 total hours of driving classes and getting practice driving time with parents, the last step is the driving test.
Tessa Wood is a sophomore who recently took her driving exam. “Personally I had no problems with me getting my temps,” she noted. “but I did fail my first driving test on the maneuverability section. That was a bit of a setback.”
Wood had to wait one week before she was able to take the test again, and was going to practice maneuverability before then.
“Although if you’re 18 [and fail the test] you have to take a course. I learned that when I failed my maneuverability section,” she said.
Unlike adults, teenagers who have failed their driving test do not need to take the abbreviated course, due to the fact they already took driving classes previously.
Organ Donation Once someone is 16 years old, they are eligible to sign up to be an organ donor with the consent of their parent or guardian. If they choose to, that information will be written on their license. Currently, more than 113,000 people are registered on the national waiting list for life-saving organ transplants, according to Donate Life Ohio.
Registrations for being an organ donor can be done online or at a BMV when renewing a driver’s license or state ID card.
“I think because it’s such a big decision you make at 16, then I think it should be educated on more,” Kaytlin Haylett, a junior, commented.
Organ donation is an important decision, and making it as a teenager can be a bit overwhelming, especially if someone doesn’t know a lot about what that means.
“I decided to be an organ donor and that’s great,” Haylett said. “I would love to be an organ donor but if people are just like ‘yeah sure,’ and they don’t really know what that comes with, it should be educated.”
“In the driver’s ed, we had to watch hours of organ donor videos. A common myth I have heard is that paramedics will not try their best to save your life if you are an organ donor,” Wood said. “However, this has been disproven time and time again. If a person’s sole reasoning for not becoming a donor is based on this, it could cost lives. One organ donor could save 30 lives and it is imperative that people do their best to help others and make educated decisions based on fact.”
Donate Life Ohio also debunked this myth on its website. “When a person is taken to a hospital, doctors aren’t concerned about registry status and have nothing to do with the donation process. In fact, hospital personnel don’t have access to the donor registry – only organ procurement organizations do.”
Opinions on Driving While driving allows people to gain access to transportation, not every student is fond of it.
“I don’t like driving ‘cause it’s kind of easy to lose focus and it takes a long time,” Randall Hatfield commented. He is a sophomore who drives to school daily.
“Once I was driving at night and I forgot to turn my headlights on,” Hatfield said. “But also I’m worried because I use google maps because I don’t know where I’m going at any given time, and I’m afraid that if the map turns off, I don’t know what I’ll do to get it back up because I don’t want to look away from the road and I’m afraid to pull over.”
Other students expressed fears about emergency vehicles passing them or unsafe situations.
“I feel unsafe most of the time when I’m on highways or unfamiliar situations such as cities where you have to stop often, and there’s an increased risk,” Wood mentioned.
“I was on the freeway once, and the car cut me off and I had to break and also I was in between two semis and it was very stressful,” she said. “I feel scared sometimes when I’m merging onto the highway.”
Driving Advice To help students overcome driving-related fears, students offered their advice for those looking to get their license.
“Just focus on what other people are doing and kind of compare that to what you are doing, and make sure you’re not doing anything that you recognize as wrong,” junior Zane Ferra commented.
Another junior, Katherine Huntley, advised early drivers to be patient. “It is gonna be scary sometimes when you’re driving; you don’t know what’s going on. Remain calm. Trust whoever’s teaching you. The basic stuff. Don’t try to rush getting your license if you don’t feel ready to take the test or if you don’t feel ready to go on the road, don’t do it, because it’s unsafe if you do. So do what you feel like when you’re ready to.”
MAY 2021 – Not all students get their driver’s license when they turn 16. In fact, the amount of 16 year old drivers in America decreased from 46.2% in 1983 to 25.6% in 2018, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
Unlike teenagers, adults over the age of 18 are not required to take driving classes.
Based on the data from 2018, the majority of new drivers were not required to take these classes. Instead, after completing 50 hours of driving and holding their temps for more than six months, they can take their driving test. If they fail their first try, they must take an abbreviated driver-training course prior to their next test.
Blessing Mupinga, a senior at Bio-Med stated that she thought it was unfair that 18 year olds could skip the classes, “I do think it’s unfair, “ she said. “But at the same time, by those people choosing to wait two whole years, they’re missing out on a lot of potential opportunities like making money from having a job, that young people with licenses can now do.”
According to the CDC, teens are more likely to speed than adults and less likely to maintain a proper distance between the car in front of them and themselves. In 2018, it found that 30% of male drivers 15-20 years of age and 18% of female drivers in the same age demographic were involved in accidents due to speeding. Many incidents on the road can be attributed to inexperience and distracted or drowsy driving.
“Before I was like ‘why don’t they lower the driving age?’ And then I realized how dangerous it actually is because I took the classes,” said Skyler Earl, a sophomore with her temps. “And they also give you a lot of tips. Yeah, I think you should take [the classes] regardless of age.”
State required driving classes cover important topics such as road rules, what to do in certain situations, and consequences for participating in unsafe driving behaviors. Knowledge on these topics could make drivers more conscious of their actions.
“Knowing what I know about starting to drive, I feel everyone should have to take a class or some sort of behind-the-wheel instruction before getting a license,” Kait Antonelli, a senior, said. “I learned a lot in the driver’s ed that I had no idea about beforehand. These things help to keep me safe. Not only this but turning eighteen does not guarantee maturity/ability to make rational decisions. I think everyone should take a class.”
While Antonelli benefitted from driving classes, there were financial setbacks.“I had to pay for my classes as well as my car. I have bought everything for myself, as well as gas. So money was a bit of an issue, however I’m so glad I got my license.”
For Antonelli, she felt that paying for things herself helped her gain independence, and that the classes for drivers were important. However, not all students are able to get a job in high school, and can’t afford to take the classes.According to DriversEd.com, the estimated cost for getting a license at 16 is around $350-500. This can contribute to the percentage of teens who take drivers education.
Other students had different opinions on the importance of driving school.
Zach Boyden is currently a junior with his temporary license, who believes that getting a license in high school is not important. “I didn’t need it,” Boyden said, referring to his license. “I wouldn’t need it, and there are probably a lot of people that wouldn’t also need it unless they have to have a job, which I feel like it is early to start having a job in high school unless you’re a senior.”
He felt that he was not missing out on any information by not taking the classes and is just completing the temps test and required driving hours.
Robert Greenwood is another junior who has his license. “My older brother actually doesn’t have his license and he hasn’t really needed it. In high school, I don’t really think it’s a requirement. I don’t think that people really need it. I got around for most of the time without my license and I didn’t really go for it at first. I waited a whole year before I actually got mine.”
Despite this, he still agreed that driving classes should be mandatory for everyone, regardless of age. “My younger brother thinks that he’s ready to drive and he has not taken any of his classes yet, so yeah. I think that when I took mine, there was a lot of valuable information that I got from it,” Greenwood said.
Most students believed that taking the driving classes were beneficial to their driving experience, and should be considered for 18 year olds to take, despite the fact it is not required for them.
“I don’t really care about fair; I just don’t think that’s necessarily safe,” Katherine Huntley commented about driving school not being mandatory for adults. “There are some things they teach you in there that I think are pretty essential for driving, like how to control yourself in different weather, which I guess you learn, but sometimes you need it laid out for you in writing.”
The majority of drivers, as of 2018, got their license after they were 18 years old, and were therefore not required to take the classes. Because of this, they miss out on an opportunity to get a more structured way of learning the road rules and practices.
“There’s not much of a difference between a 16 year old and an 18 year old. So I think that 18 year olds and adults should also be doing that just for safety,” Huntley concluded.
Driving school teaches students knowledge they can take with them on the open roads, but are ultimately too expensive for some students to afford. This contributes to the amount of teens who get their license at 16 years old.
As for the license itself, almost all students interviewed believed that getting a license was not important in high school, and up to the individual and their needs of transportation. However, most students believe that driving schools are really beneficial for driving, and would recommend students who can afford it to take them.
Aiming for Equality With New Amnesty International Club
by McKenna Burchett, staff writer
May 2021 – Bio-Med Science Academy is adding a new club to its repertoire: Amnesty International. This club is dedicated to serving the organization of the same name, upholding human rights. The club will be run by William Ullinger, current freshman history teacher, Camryn Myrla, and Keira Vasbinder, both sophomores.
“Our plans right now are to go through the steps of becoming an official club for the school so that we are able to hold meetings and invite others to join. Our goal is to be having weekly meetings starting next school year,” Vasbinder commented.
Myrla said the club activities would include researching a certain topic, spreading awareness by creating posters and using social media, writing letters to officials, signing petitions, and any other way they can take action against injustice. By creating this club, they are joining 10 million others in the organization to fight against human rights violations.
Amnesty International, also known as Amnesty for short, was created in 1961 after British lawyer Peter Benenson wrote an outraged article about the arrest of two Portuguese students for toasting to freedom. This article sparked many more like it and eventually led to the founding of this organization.
“Only when the last prisoner of conscience has been freed, when the last torture chamber has been closed, when the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world’s people, will our work be done,” Benenson declared.
Amnesty launched its first campaign against torture in 1972. Twelve years later, the UN voted to combat torture worldwide with the Convention against Torture. It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for ‘securing the ground for freedom, for justice, and thereby also for peace in the world.’ Amnesty is responsible for the founding of the International Criminal Court in 2002. It operates a large London base and regional offices in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Amnesty is currently working on developing a mobile application that would act as a “panic button” for activists in danger.
Myrla was inspired to create this club after the “many cases of police brutality happening in 2020” and the civil unrest that followed.
“I found many ideas for clubs that try to both raise awareness and take action,” she said, “but ultimately decided on Amnesty International because of how effective their work has been in the past.” However, in order to make this club a reality, she needed help.
First, she needed another student to help her run it. She approached Vasbinder with the idea.
“Camryn came up with the idea of the club and gave me a brief explanation of what we would be doing. I was interested and wanted to help with setting up and running the club,” Vasbinder recalled.
Next, she needed a teacher to be the club advisor. “I chose Mr. Ullinger to be this club’s adviser because of how vocal he has been toward human rights. I knew that he would support the idea. I also recently found out that his sister was the director of an Amnesty International club when they were in high school.”
Ullinger was also a member of Amnesty International in high school. “We had a ton of concerts at [Kent] Roosevelt back in the day where you pay to get in, and that money would go towards Amnesty International,” he recalled. “It’s a bit different now since we didn’t have social media when I was in high school, but it’s pretty much the same foundation.”
When asked about how it would be run, he said, “I’m really letting Camryn and Keira design it. I’m more the one sitting there going ‘okay here’s some problems that could come up’ like I do with everything else at this school. I want it to be very student-centered, student-oriented, and student-built.”
The three have high hopes for next year. Ullinger finished with “I think anyone can say they support Amnesty International, because no one wants to see human rights violated. I think it’s pretty agreeable across the board that that’s bad. If we can shine a light on that, be proactive, and take a stand against it, that’s a good thing.”