National Pet Month! Part 1

National Pet Month! Part 1

by Serena Gestring, staff writer

APRIL 2021 – In the United Kingdom and other countries, the month of April is designated National Pet Month. The United States, however, honors pets during the month of May. National Pet Day is also celebrated on April 11 every year. To celebrate this occasion, here are some featured pets from the Bio-Med Science Academy community and why they are so important.

“Pets help us remember not to take everything so seriously, and to enjoy the moment. They help us treat each other better by relying on us to take care of them. And they are always such good listeners…they’re always there just to be with us, with no expectations,” Ms. Mino said.

“My pets are a source of comfort and love for me, and endlessly love everyone,” said Brooke Saxton.

“To me [pets are] something that will always listen to you and love you. They’re also very loyal,” Gianna Walker said.

“Pets to me mean friends and family. They can always be there for you to make you happy when [you’re] upset,” said Abigail Allen.

“Researchers have traced dog domestication back at least 11,000 years, to the end of the last Ice Age! In that time, think about how much these pups have impacted our development as a species. They’ve worked for us, helped us find food, kept us safe, served as a means of transportation. I feel a little piece of that history every time I’m with my HAL, especially when he seems to read my mind or anticipate my movements. It’s that unspoken communication that we’ve developed over thousands of years. It’s an amazing bond, and frankly, I don’t trust people who don’t like animals, especially dogs,”  Ms. Hisey explained.

“My dog means everything to me,” stated Adrian Jones.

“Pets are things that are very special to me and that mean a lot and should be taken care of and spoiled. They are great companions and should be treated really well,” Molly Phillips said.

“Pets are a good way to have a non-conditional friend,” Bristol White said. “And they are cute.”

“Pets are the best thing for companionship or to just make you feel better. They love you as much as you love them. They will always be there for you and will never disappoint you. They are so playful and have their own personality,” said Hailey Mills.  

“[Pets] are the best,” Liam Lindsay stated.

“[Pets] mean a lot because I like to love on my dog when I’m upset,” said Arianna Fiorentino.

“Pets are an absolute blessing in disguise! Not only do they provide companionship, but they lower so many stress, anxiety, and depression levels. That burst of dopamine you get when your fluffy friend runs to you when you get home is one of the best feelings! I may only see Remy and Wally once a week, but they’ll always be my favorite floofs!” praised Ms. Fusco. 

“Pets are family members that you choose. For whatever reason. They provide such a comfort because we provide them the same. It’s really lovely knowing that something can love you so unconditionally and see past every bad thing you think about yourself,” commented Mihalik.

“Having a dog who is always excited to see you when you come home can make your whole day better,” said Ms. Tubbs.

“Pets mean a friend. Someone you can talk to who can’t talk back. Dogs can help with anxiety too,” said Sophia Oprtiza. “I also like talking walks and runs around my neighborhood so having him to run with is great.”

“My pets mean everything to me (don’t tell my children)! They are loyal and sweet and they give so much love,” enthused Ms. McFerren.

Ms. Hughes commented pets mean “companionship and fun!”

“They aren’t just pets but they are part of the family,” stated Aric May. 

“I don’t get really attached to pets but I feel like they are a very important thing that are in someone’s life and can get them through hard times,” Carmen Corbett said.

“My pets are my best friends. Whenever I am sad my dogs comfort me until I feel better. They do the funniest things sometimes. I love to talk to them about how I am feeling because they are great listeners and I enjoy whenever we play ball with each other outside. But sometimes they sleep a lot. I couldn’t ask for better dogs!” Lourden DiNardo enthused. 

“I love animals, I always have. Pets are stress relievers and constant reminders of love,” Kait Antonelli stated.

“Our pets mean the world to us. We often ask ourselves what we would do without them. They are a lot of work and sometimes a lot of money, but they enrich our lives so much; we just couldn’t imagine not having them,” said Ms. Bates. 

“My doggo means the world to me. I come home and she always supports me or makes me laugh. Having an animal teaches you how to love and care for others,” praised Kaitlyn Davis.

“Pets aren’t just another being in the house. They become another family member,” Meadow Sandy said. 

“Words cannot describe how I feel when my dog looks up at me with his beautiful brown eyes. It is one of my favorite feelings in the world. I cannot imagine living without dogs, and I would never want to,” stated Serena Gestring. 

Twelfth grade student Kaden Starkey has a domestic shorthair cat named Kosmos. He described Kosmos as friendly, cuddly, and lovable, and having an obsession with jumping on top of TVs.

Nevaeh Bennett, a sixth grade student, has a 3-year-old German Shepard named Odin, who hates the mailman. She also has a show pig named Winkle and a mare named Hungry. Bennett described her pets as “good comfort animals.” 

Seventh grader Sophia Hankinson has a dog named Luna who loves to stretch on people and provides Hankinson with “love and warmth other than my family.”

Tenth grade Chemistry instructor Ms. Janna Mino has a 35-pound dog named Kona, who is much smaller than she looks. Kona is also obsessed with fetch. 

Layla and Sammy are tenth grade student Brooke Saxton’s two golden retrievers. Layla is two years old and loves the snow, while Sammy is five years old and loves to spend all day relaxing on the couch. 

Winston is an Old English bulldog belonging to ninth grader Gianna Walker. He enjoys chasing Walker’s cat and barking at the wreath hanging from her family’s door. He is normally very lazy and sleeps most of the day, but sometimes he can also be hyper. Winston loves meeting new people and gives really wet kisses.  

Eighth grade student Abigail Allen has three dogs. Rex is a german shepherd and almost one year old. He has a scary bark and likes to jump on people, even with muddy paws. 

Bo is a very nice dog of an unknown breed who likes to follow Allen around. 

Harlee is a fluffy, playful, and fast Siberian husky.

Seventh grader Ellie Spaeth has a dog named Sammi. He is a one-year-old hound-husky mix whose favorite day is Saturday. Sammi loves to eat bacon and play.

HAL9000 is tenth grade Integrated Language Arts instructor Ms. Candace Hisey’s mutt, named after the evil computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL only cares about his mom and dad, and chipmunks; not any toys or other typical dog things. However, he does like having The Lord of the Rings read aloud to him before bed. 

Otto is seventh grade student Adrian Jones’s old pug-beagle mix. 

Seventh grader Molly Phillips has an overweight dog named Tempe. Despite having hip dysplasia, Tempe enjoys going on walks and she gets excited whenever people visit the house. She also likes to sleep in Phillips’s room, and lets herself in whenever she pleases. 

Jynx Derteen, a seventh grade student, has a dog named Finn and a cat named Lulu. Interestingly, Finn barks at everyone except for the mailman. Lulu likes to sleep all day and then “attacks your legs at night to scare you.” 

Darla is a puppy dog of Bristol White, a ninth grader. Darla likes to bark and play with toys. 

White also has a hermit crab called Bristol’s Crab who likes to “climb, dig, and cause a ruckus.” 

Ozzy, named after Ozzy Osbourne, is a Shih Tzu belonging to tenth grade student Hailey Mills. Ozzy is small and loves to play. He also goes outside and catches rats, which Mills described as “upsetting but the smile on his face makes it worth the clean up!”

Seventh grader Liam Lindsay has a dog named Max, who is a “psychic.”

Axl is a caring dog belonging to Arianna Fiorentino, a seventh grade student. 

Eleventh grade instructor Ms. Elissa Fusco has two dogs named Remy and Wally. Remy is a fluffy Shetland Sheepdog and retired agility dog. He enjoys modeling for the camera and chasing squirrels to “show them who’s boss.” 

Wally was surrendered at a shelter when he was eleven years old. He was adopted by Fusco’s parents in August of 2020 despite wanting a younger dog, because they could not pass him up. Wally is very cuddly and enjoys snuggling after a walk. 

Eleventh grade College, Career, and Finance instructor Ms. Whitney Mihalik has a nine-year-old cat named Arya, after the Game of Thrones character, which she takes after very well. Arya was coaxed out from under a Wendy’s parking lot dumpster using a spicy chicken sandwich, though she pretends otherwise. 

“She makes it clear she has always come from wealth and status as she surveys her domain from the bookshelf or while sleeping in a child’s foam chair carefully placed in our dining room window,” Mihalik explained. 

Arya is also very smart, remembering every human she has met and “how they have wronged her.” Despite her dislike towards people, she is very loyal to her family. 

Mihalik also has a cat named Dora, who is quite the opposite of Arya. “Though she was named after the Byzantine Empress Theodora, one of the most intelligent women in medieval history, she is potentially the most unintelligent animal I have ever come across,” said Mihalik. 

Dora snuggles faces and then bites noses to show her affection. She also buries her face in her food bowl when she eats, giving her an always dirty nose. 

Ms. McKenna Tubbs, BMSA’s eighth grade Math instructor, has Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Millie, who will be three years old on the Fourth of July. She is incredibly cuddly, and loves socks, sticks, puppuccinos, dryer sheets, and hiking even with her short legs.  

Thor, which stands for The Hound Of Ragnarok, is eighth grade student Sophia Opritza’s dog. Thor is a toy pom-terrier, meaning half toy fox terrier and half toy pomeranian. He is not one year old yet, but is about fully grown at 8.7 pounds. He likes to play with cat toys. 

Twelfth grade Integrated Language Arts instructor Ms. Tracie McFerren has two dogs, Bruno and Indy. Bruno is an eight-year-old German shepherd and is 127 pounds, earning him the title of “big baby.” He loves to play with his toys. 

Indy is a twelve-year-old Siberian husky who loves to escape and visit the neighbors. 

Stella is a three-year-old dog belonging to Ms. Rachel Hughes, the ninth and twelfth grade Engineering instructor. Stella once got stuck in a gate that kept her in Hughes’s kitchen. The gate had a small door for the cat to use, and when Stella tried to get through herself she ended up tearing the entire gate down. 

Eighth grader Aric May has two dogs, Duke and Baloo. Duke is a red fox labrador, and Baloo is silver labrador. Duke likes to rough house with Baloo; Baloo does not. 

Carmen Corbett, a seventh grade student, adopted a whippet named Cozmo in June of 2020. Cozmo is one year old, but seems like a ten year old dog with his laid back demeanor. He does not do very much other than playing, sleeping, and eating.  

Diablo and Layla are both English mastiffs belonging to ninth grader Lourden DiNardo. Diablo is eight years and very large, but likes to sit on people anyway. His favorite hobby is playing with a deflated basketball outside, and he enjoys a nice slice of cheese after a hard day. He is also known for taking the stuffing out of stuffed animals and sleeping with the pieces of material.

Layla is seven years old, and despite being shy she likes to give little kisses. She enjoys lettuce and jumping on Diablo when he is playing with his deflated ball. 

Twelfth grade student Kait Antonelli has a two-year-old cat named Ember, nicknamed Emby. Antonelli’s family adopted Ember after receiving a notification that a kitten had been found in a storm drain by firefighters. Ember has been Antonelli’s friend ever since. 

Ms. Jenna Bates, eleventh grade Integrated Language Arts instructor, has two cats, Atticus Melville Finch and Sawyer Bean. Atticus was adopted thirteen years ago. During the time Bates was teaching a speech class, Atticus had been a visual aid in one of the student’s speeches. Sawyer was adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sophie is a one-year-old golden retriever belonging to eleventh grader Kaitlyn Davis. Sophie loves running outside, snuggling, and peanut butter.  

Eighth grader Meadow Sandy has a maltese and poodle mix named Murphy. He is an energetic puppy and sweetheart, and loves to meet new people and play all the time. 

Twelfth grade student Serena Gestring has a four-year-old pit bull named Deimos, which is the Greek word meaning “dread.” Deimos is a complete baby. He needs to have fluffy blankets spread out on the couch for him to lay on or else he will whine. He will also whine if another dog is in laying where he wants to sit, even if there is still room on the couch. Deimos has a tendency to roll onto his back and thrash around until someone rubs his belly. If he does not get consistent attention he will whine. Gestring loves him with all her heart. 

Gestring’s family also very recently got another ball python. She is an albino, hence her yellow color, and her name is Ilios, the Greek word for “sun.” She is around three to four months old, but will grow to be four feet in length or longer. Ilios has pretty golden eyes. Gestring is very excited to have this new addition to the family.  

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Making College Decisions

Making College Decisions

by Christine Whyde, staff writer

APRIL 2021 – The first week of April is an exciting time for most college-bound high school seniors in the United States. It is during this time that most colleges and universities will be releasing admissions decisions online and through the mail, as many require students to make their final commitments by May 1. 

College bound seniors eagerly await College Decisions.

Acceptance letters will make it clear whether or not a prospective student has been accepted into the institution. If accepted, the letter will go on to explain how to move forward if the student plans to attend the institution. It is important to keep an eye out for any deadlines listed within the letter, such as a final date to make a decision on acceptance. It is also possible that, depending on the university, a student may be waitlisted for the time being as other accepted students make their final decision. If this is the case, the letter should make it clear how the student is to proceed. 

If a student has not been accepted, there is no need to fret. Not every applicant can be accepted, so it is inevitable that some students will receive a rejection letter or two. Some of the most famous people in the world have been rejected by their dream universities or chose not to attend at all, including Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, President Harry S. Truman, and Warren Buffett. In the event that a student has been rejected from each institution they have applied to, or has chosen not to apply at all, there is always time to reapply in the future. 

Those that plan on attending a college or university have many decisions to make within the next month. These decisions are especially complicated if the student has been accepted into multiple institutions. An article by US News recommends that prospective students consider enrollment size at the institution, the location, the majors and programs offered, and opportunities outside of the classroom. The article also suggests that students consider college ranking lists if they are interested in a more competitive program. 

Ideally, students should start considering what type of college they plan to attend early on. At Bio-Med Science Academy, there are multiple staff members available to help you make those decisions. One such person is counselor Stephanie Hammond. While students navigate their four years at the Upper Academy, Ms. Hammond works to provide information on volunteer, scholarship, and college information and opportunities. 

When asked about her biggest advice to students regarding the college decision process, she stated: “It is so important to start thinking about college, visiting colleges, and talking with parents/guardians early! Sophomore, junior, and the beginning of senior year is a great time to start exploring and asking questions, visiting schools, and exposing oneself to all different kinds of schools. From large state institutions to small private ones, see as many as you can and talk to as many people as possible. There is already so much going on senior year that this doesn’t have to be an added stressor.”

Luckily, Bio-Med students have the opportunity to start thinking about their future without leaving the classroom. In the College and Career Preparedness course, instructor Whitney Mihalik teaches students how to pursue not only college decisions but also most aspects of life after high school. 

College Acceptance letters are traditionally received in the first week of April.

When asked about the most important factors to consider when comparing multiple institutions, Mihalik referenced the content of her course: “As we discuss in my class, student loans can make post-college life very difficult, so for many students I usually encourage them to have the total cost of their education be a deciding factor. However, I don’t believe it should be the only factor for any student…Location is something that I believe is very important, in terms of distance from home, but also the type of setting the school is in. If a student is living on campus, a school only thirty minutes away from home can feel more like hours away. Also, many of our students have grown up in rural areas, so urban colleges seem appealing. However, it’s good to determine whether you would feel comfortable in a city setting for a prolonged time period, or if it’s really somewhere you just like visiting.” She was also sure to point out that these factors will vary from student to student, and some may not need to consider them at all given their circumstances. 

If a student can absolutely not decide between multiple colleges, even after comparing multiple factors, Hammond says financial aid is the best place to start. 

Even if a student has only applied to one institution, it is important to be certain that higher education is the right choice for them before making any commitments. It is also expected that students in this situation have done a considerable amount of research into their institution of choice, as they have eliminated other options. If a student in this situation has not done this, it may be a sign that they have applied for the wrong reasons. 

Only applying to one college herself, Mihalik explained, “All students should be determining first that college is the right move for them at this moment. Data shows us that many students go to college because it’s an expectation after high school rather than because it’s the right move for their long-term career and life goals.” 

Hammond also suggests that students consider their previous school experience: “I always encourage students to think about what made them successful in school. What about the environment contributed to their success? Now translate that to college.” A student may be surprised to find that a college does not offer those same opportunities and even that they may be offered somewhere entirely different. 

Going to college is not for everyone. One of the ways a student might discover this is through an in person visit to campus, which is highly encouraged by Mihalik. She stated, “Something else would be to consider the student body and whether you think you would feel comfortable with them. This is where visiting a college can be helpful. If you want a diverse student population, see if you can find the college’s data regarding the makeup of their student body. If it’s not as diverse as you were hoping, see what opportunities there are for growth and determine if that helps in your decision.” She also made sure to clarify that not every student will share the same experience during their college search. 

Unfortunately, many seniors were unable to make these visits this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. In a normal year, this would be a requirement during Mihalik’s course for Bio-Med juniors. Students can learn a bit more about colleges of interest at home with a simple news search. If the institution has mostly negative stories about issues that matter greatly to a student, it may be a sign that the college is not the right fit. 

Mihalik offered a final piece of advice for the class of 2021: “The biggest thing I would hope all seniors know is that this is a big decision, but it is not and will not be the biggest decision you make in your life. And it’s not a permanent one. If you make a decision and feel later that it’s the wrong one, you always have options. I also always want students to be making the best decision for themselves, not for the world, their school, or their parents. You have to think about what you want for your future, not what others want or expect. Make your decision with significant research and critical thought, but make the decision that will lead to your success and happiness, even if it doesn’t align with someone else’s dream for you.”

No matter the circumstance, each student considering college has a lot to consider in such a short amount of time. It is undoubtable that this process can be very overwhelming and confusing. Regardless of their decisions, whether they pursue further education, a year of self discovery, or go straight into the workforce, the class of 2021 can be proud of how far they have come.

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A Change In Schedules

A Change In Schedules

By Alyssa Cocchiola, Staff Writer

MARCH 2021 – The 2020-2021 school year at Bio-Med went through many schedule changes. The year started off with everyone learning virtually, and then switched to the hybrid schedule on Sept. 28. With hybrid, students were broken up into two groups; purple and green, and would alternate going to school physically and digitally every other week.

10th grade students Brooke Saxton and Isaiah Spaeth collaborate on a cross curricular project.

Starting on Feb. 1, both purple and green cohorts attended school every week, while students opting to complete the year virtually remained home. The schedules themselves remained the same, with the only difference being double the number of students. Classrooms still implement their safety precautions from the beginning of the year, like keeping distance, wearing masks and sanitizing desks after they were used. 

Mady Cross, a seventh grade student, shared her thoughts on the new schedule: “Going back every week when you’re being virtual, it’s like, it’s harder to do your work. Because you’re distracted by so many things but then being back in person, you’re less distracted because the teachers will tell you if you’re getting distracted and stuff,” she explained. 

Cross emphasized her preference for the new schedule, and how it helps her stay focused for longer periods of time. When being asked which schedule she preferred, she responded, “being in person.” 

She explained that while she felt more productive, she also felt that being in person was less stressful than hybrid. 

“I think that me being at home is more stressful because if you have a question, and the teachers are busy, like if you try to email them they won’t email you back right away,” she said.

Along with this, many students noticed class participation increasing. 

“I guess I do better at physical school,” Irene Scherer, a freshman, commented. “It’s brought my grade up some. But like the actual switch I guess is — there’s just more answers. People are participating a bit more.”

Other students shared similar thoughts on the schedule. 

“I like being in the classroom learning than in my room,” commented Braden Antonelli, a sophomore this year. “ Really doing in person school kind of motivated me because I was being watched by people and at home they couldn’t really monitor me and what I was doing, so it really gave me a reason to do it.” 

Many students shared that being in a classroom with a teacher present makes them less likely to get off task, because they are being monitored in some capacity. 

While most students seemed to agree that they enjoyed going to school in person some students shared their concerns on the subject. Sophomore Aidan Veney shared his thoughts on the safety precautions in place while combining the cohorts. 

“I think it’s a bit too soon,” Veney said, referencing the switch from hybrid to all in person. “I’d rather wait until the vaccine’s out before we have everybody back. I thought hybrid was working pretty well, so it’s a bit weird.”

Veney commented that “in theory I like all back better, but lately I’ve been kinda missing hybrid a little,” and shared that he liked both in person and hybrid equally, and that they both had their perks. 

The most notable split of opinion amongst students was the safety. Keira Vasbinder, a sophomore, commented that while they felt more productive during the new schedule, there was also “a lot less distancing” and that “people are a lot more lenient with cleaning things.”

Pictured above are some COVID-19 protocols in Upper academy classrooms.

When talking about her social life, Keira mentioned that it improved because of the new schedule: “Well, I have friends again so that part is nice. I actually get to see people and I’m actually using slang again.” Keira elaborated on this by saying that the social benefits could have an impact on the safety: “You know more people but that also means less distancing. So do you want to get sick or do you wanna have a friend?” This was reference to what she felt like was a choice between prioritizing one’s social life or their health. Keira stated that having more people benefited their life socially, but made her feel like the safety precautions had been impacted with more people in the building. 

In an interview, Antonelli talked about his thoughts on the safety precautions. 

“I think they did change but not a lot,” he said. “They did combine more people into a classroom, but they kept the sanitizing and all that the same, and the feet and distance we need the same. But, I think the only thing they really changed was putting more people into the classroom.” 

Despite the health concerns, most people interviewed agreed that Bio-Med was doing everything they could to keep things safe, and seemed to feel more uncomfortable with the situation itself as opposed to how the school was handling it. Out of all the people interviewed, 71.4% of people said that they thought the safety at school was not negatively impacted by the change in schedules. 

So far, the cases have not majorly increased at Bio-Med since the start of hybrid, and students have continued to learn in a familiar and welcoming environment this month. 

“I really prefer one hundred percent in person. It just feels like school,” Antonelli concluded. “It didn’t really feel like school before. We had the work but it just didn’t feel like it,”

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The Importance of Valentines Day

The Importance of Valentines Day

by Alyssa Cocchiola, staff writer

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. 

St. Valentine, A holy Roman priest.

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.

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A Disease Free Valentine’s Day: Safe Ideas to Spend the Holiday

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.

Zoom Parties

“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. 

A laptop with Zoom open, a digital communication application.

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. 

Watching Movies

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. 


Kitchen equipment for baking Valentine’s day treats.

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.

Reaching Out

“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.”

culture Uncategorized

Teaching in the Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic

Teaching in the Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic

by Serena Gestring and Kaden Starkey, staff writers

FEBRUARY 2021 – Education is an essential part of our society, and it is the vital job of teachers to provide that to students. However, the current pandemic has been a devastating and strenuous experience for the entire world, including our community.  

The Bio-Med Science Academy school district went to 100% virtual learning back in March of 2020. While Bio-Med normally implements a few “digital days” each school year, where students complete one assignment from each of their classes at home for the day, moving to being completely digital every day was a major change.

Mrs. Brooke is the 9th-grade math teacher at the Bio-Med Rootstown Campus.

Ms. Brook is the 9th grade Integrated Math instructor. She has been teaching for 16 years, four of which have been spent here at Bio-Med. Overall, she says things were not too bad. The worst part for her was figuring out the technology, and once that happened, it got easier. From a curriculum perspective, however, it was much more difficult and strange because of the procedural way she taught math. 

“I really struggled with how to not have questions that they can cheat on on a test knowing real well that they could just copy and paste it onto the test,” Brook said. “So trying to come up with ways to ask the questions was difficult last year.” 

This year, Brook’s class switched to using a data science approach to teach 9th grade math. This approach involves group-based investigations and analyzing sets of data. 

“My midterm this year was: What’d you learn from Unit 1? Use all the investigations and vocabulary to support your explanation,” said Brook. “So, how do you cheat on that? There’s no way you can cheat on that.” 

Math is not the only subject that is challenging to teach in a virtual environment. Mr. McDonald is BMSA’s 9th grade Integrated English Language Arts instructor. He has been at Bio-Med for eight years, and has been teaching for a total of 15 years. He had many words to describe teaching in this new situation, such as suboptimal, frustrating, inconsistent, strange, annoying, and difficult. In short: “It is not good,” he said. 

Mr. Mcdonald is the 9th-grade English teacher at the Bio-Med Rootstown campus.

McDonald has been struggling to teach his subject in a way that resembles how he normally would. “We would read together in the class and we’d pause and stop and handle, like, nuances, and questions, and you could see where kids were struggling,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine reading on a Zoom or something, like reading chapters of a book like that. That sounds awful!”

Because of this, McDonald doesn’t know if he is going to have his students read any books this year. “I know if I  select a book to read at the ninth grade level, and I expect students to read at home as homework, I just know that at least a fifth or a quarter of those students won’t do it. They just won’t do it, because no one is there making them do it,” he said. “It’s a motivation problem but it’s also a class management problem.”

Another major challenge of teaching virtually is being able to control the learning atmosphere. Students are in many different places, some with their siblings or other relatives around. 

“There’s all these things happening that I have no control over, and it’s frustrating because I want to be able to control my learning atmosphere, and I can’t,” McDonald said. “I’m a believer that to get a good education, you need to first be comfortable in the classroom. That’s gotta come first, and it’s really hard to establish that when you don’t have control over the atmosphere.”  

McDonald has also had problems with establishing relationships and human connections in his classes. “The team-building and community-building aspect of Bio-Med has almost completely vanished. We would do circles, we would go outside and we’d throw the ball around, or we would work with partners, we would have clock buddies,” he said. “You cannot do that now. We can’t, you just can’t.” 

Ms. Tubbs is the 8th-grade math instructor at Bio-Med’s lower academy.

Experienced teachers are not the only ones grappling with the present situation. Ms. Tubbs is the 8th grade Math instructor. This is her second year teaching and her second year at Bio-Med. She describes teaching during this time as hectic and having a lot of moving parts. “Being a first-year teacher last year, I was already kind of learning how to teach and getting into the groove, and everything kind of flipped,” Tubbs said.

Tubbs also thinks her specific subject presents some challenges. “I think I’m struggling sometimes to teach math just because in the classroom I love to do more hands-on. I like to see the written work, and online sometimes that just doesn’t transfer as well,” she said.

However, there is some optimism. Ms. England is BMSA’s 7th grade Social Studies instructor. She has been teaching for ten years, and this is her fourth year at Bio-Med. She thinks that while this situation has been interesting and challenging, it is also workable. “You had to just be innovative in how you’re teaching and what you want to teach, and I think a little bit more selective in what you are presenting,” she said. 

England thinks the technology-prominent aspect of Bio-Med has helped. “We were lucky that every student had their technology already and that we had already done those Digital Days. That really helped to flip that switch,” she said. “Canvas is the best thing we had throughout this thing also. Everything is housed all in one place.”

While trying to find what works best for everyone, the administration of Bio-Med Science Academy has been diligently working to enforce proper precautionary measures according to CDC guidelines. All students must wear a mask, and teachers are being offered air purifiers as well as KN-95 masks. The Academy enforces social distancing in the lunchroom and students are assigned to a cohort (a group of the same students following the same schedule everyday) that allows for any contact tracing to be easier. 

The Academy created what they call the “COVID Committee” to help reinforce the rules and regulations to keep students and staff safe. 

Ms. England is an instructor who is part of the Bio-Med Covid Committee.

Ms. England is one of the teachers a part of the COVID Committee. She said that it is a group of teachers and staff members from all of Bio-Med’s buildings. Their function is to be, “the liaison between Stephanie Lammlein [Chief Administrative Officer of Bio-Med] and kind of the rest of the staff.” They make sure that all the staff understand the information given by the Portage County Health Board and that teachers and staff’s voices are heard by the admin and the same with the admin to them. The Committee also makes sure that the school days can be safe while still keeping Bio-Med’s core learning experiences, whether that be at home or in the classroom.

The Academy began the 2020-2021 school year as 100% digital. On September 28th, 2020 the school launched its blended learning program where students were given a choice to remain 100% virtual or return back to school. The students who opted to return go one week in person and the next virtual; they are divided into two groups by last name. One group is in-person while the other is digital for a week and the next week the groups will switch, so the in-person group goes virtual and the virtual goes in-person. This rotation continues throughout the year, unless Coronavirus cases exceed a level 3 threshold in the surrounding counties, where the school would return back to 100% virtual until it is safer to return. 

The blended learning model allows for teachers to continue teaching all of their students, whether they are in the school building or online. 

When asked about how she feels Bio-Med as a district is handling the pandemic, Tubbs said, “I think they’re doing a really great job, …. it’s the best that we can do given our situation.” She felt that “other districts are looking at what we are doing” due to Bio-Med’s Upper Academy location being on the Northeast Ohio Medical College (NEOMED) Campus. Tubbs added that there are “hand sanitizer stations everywhere” and “our admin has been really supportive.” 

In the classroom, Tubbs felt that, “a huge positive of the hybrid or the blended learning is the smaller class sizes.”  She said that, “we’re really getting to know some of my students in a way that is just not possible when there’s 20 or 30 kids in a room.” She added how the class size, “allows some deeper learning opportunities that wouldn’t always happen in a normal class size.”

Brook’s praise is about the schedule: “I really like how they’ve done the schedule, it’s completely manageable.” She said, “the block scheduling has made it so it’s not overwhelming to have all seven classes every single day,” and that “it’s allowing you to go deeper …. and taking the time to really understand what you’re doing before moving on.” She added, “ I love that they picked one schedule regardless of home or 100% virtual, blended, or 100% back, we’re gonna still keep the same schedule.”

However, there are some drawbacks. Brook commented that seeing students two times a week compared to the previous five times a week has given rise to a retention problem, where students have trouble remembering what they did the last time they had class. Brook also thinks she is not getting to know her students as well as she would have seeing them every day.

Brook, too, said that for in-person classes, “It’s nice having a smaller class size.” She sets up her classroom so that the students are “all doing the exact same thing at the same time, regardless of at home or in person,” Brook said. 

Overall, Brook said the way Bio-Med Administration is handling the pandemic is, “Awesome. I fully support how admin has done this.” She continued, “From people I’ve talked to in other districts, I think our school has handled it really really well.”

England expressed similar sentiments. She felt the whole community had come together, from the teachers and students to the administration, to figure out how to be successful. “I think we did an amazing job,” she said.  

She also likes the hybrid model as an alternative to 100% virtual for her students. “I think the hybrid is good because I see a big difference in the weeks that they’re here and their engagement to the weeks that their home and their engagement,” England said. “It has helped me become more organized because you have to have everything to go. There’s not that spur of the moment changing things up because it has to be ready for those kids at home, too.”

McDonald struggled to formulate words when asked his opinion on the subject matter, as he holds a high degree of hesitation and worry towards easing things back to “normal.”

“I appreciate the caution of the hybrid model,” McDonald started off. He then commented on the smaller class sizes, “the fact that we only have eight to ten kids in a class is, is safe.”  Wrapping up his comments about the hybrid model he said, “it’s doable.”

McDonald went on to talk about the virtual learning that Bio-Med utilized previously. 

“I appreciated when they went to the virtual [model] because that’s the safest model,” he said, adding that this model probably “saved a lot of people from getting this virus.” 

On February 1st, 2021, the academy’s plan to resume full in-person attendance, aside from students who opted to be 100% virtual. This means that the two groups of students who were going in-person every other week will be in one group and attend school weekly, together.

McDonald said that he does not understand the rush to resume full attendance. He also shared that he is, “shy about going back to full attendance,” due to the potential risks involved. McDonald commented on his comfort level, saying, “I can’t imagine teaching twenty, twenty five students right now. I would not feel safe.”

From a healthcare side of things, Ohio is beginning to wrap up Phase 1A of COVID-19 vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers and people who work or live in residential facilities. 

“I think for their peace of mind, they need it,” Brook said about the general public receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the week of January 19th, Ohio is planned to begin administering the first round of phase 1B vaccinations. On February 1st, the third week into Phase 1B, the vaccination will be available for K-12 Educators to receive. Teachers Brook, Tubbs, and McDonald all said that they would receive the COVID-19 vaccine when the time comes.

Ms. Brook, who caught COVID following Thanksgiving, said, “I’m afraid of getting the vaccine too early when they really haven’t been tested.” Nevertheless, she would have gotten it even if she hadn’t already been infected. 

“I’m looking forward to being vaccinated,” stated Ms. Tubbs. She mentioned how teachers are near the top of the vaccination list: “To know that we are valued, that we have the opportunity to receive the vaccine before the general public.” Tubbs said some of her friends, who are nurses, are receiving the vaccine as well. 

Mr. McDonald firmly believes that, “all teachers should be mandated to get vaccines.” He brought up a requirement in order for Ohio educators to receive the vaccine: the school must resume in-person classes or be using an in-person/online hybrid system. McDonald shared his thoughts on this: “you’re mandating that these people put themselves in a dangerous situation in order for them to be eligible to get the thing that is going to save them from a dangerous situation.” 

Ultimately, McDonald stated, “I want the vaccine!” He had been approaching the pandemic with caution as he fears for the health of his family; McDonald said that getting the vaccine is “going to help me and my family’s situation.”

England did advise that, “the biggest thing is everybody that is making the decision on the vaccine just needs to make sure they’ve done their research and talked to their primary healthcare physicians.” 

She also ends on a note of gratitude, “I am glad that we’re able to be able to have the chance to be protected so we can focus on teaching and not that background worry of COVID.”

While the past several months have not been ideal, Ms. Brook believes being at Bio-Med has made it easier for her. She thought if she were still teaching in California or at the prison she previously taught at, she would be struggling much more. 

Brook’s mother was an elementary teacher, and Brook thinks if she was still teaching she would have quit immediately after the start of this situation. “A lot of teachers I know would just not have ever been comfortable with it and so, the fact that I have been at Bio-Med for four years, I’m just grateful because this has pretty much been a seamless transition to just 100% virtual,” she said. “I’m so grateful I work at Bio-Med.” 

Ms. England agrees, and believes teaching has gotten easier as time goes on. Attendance and working with technology has gotten better for her. “I think we’ve figured out how to still do Bio-Med schooling to a point, so that got better too,” she said. 

Mr. McDonald thought this has been a learning experience for how to teach children who cannot come to school. He gave the example of a student who has a bad health condition, or one who needs to stay in the hospital for a long period of time. “It’s letting the light in on how we might do that for a kid who needs it,” he said. 

Despite the hardships, Ms. Tubbs was glad to have students back in the classroom, as interacting with the kids is why she became a teacher. She also expressed gratitude that she is still working and teaching, even though it is not the same. 

“I think teachers are really flexible people and we make it work when we have to,” Tubbs said. “We’re getting there. Eventually we’ll be all back and it’s just something that we have to get through.”

bio-med journey Uncategorized

New Senior Teacher Brings Field Experience

New Senior Teacher Brings Field Experience

By Kaden Starkey, staff writer

Ms. Bradley is a new staff member in the Bio-Med senior team. She teaches Human Pathophysiology and Biotechnology of Health and Disease.

FEBRUARY 2021 – Ms. Erin Bradley, a recent addition to the Bio-Med Science Academy staff, teaches two senior-level classes: Human Pathophysiology along with Biotechnology of Health and Disease. Becoming a teacher was not her original plan. She instead nurtured a secret passion for numbers. 

“I’m kind of a closet research nerd and love working with numbers,” she said. Bradley initially went to school to become an accountant, but she quickly learned that that career path was definitely not for her. 

After some time, Bradley discovered that she wanted to become a nurse instead. She went to Kent State University to study nursing. Not long into undergraduate studies did Bradley realize that she also had a love for teaching. That was when she decided to go back to Kent State to become a teacher. Bradley became a nurse and graduated in 2013 and earned her Masters of Science and Nursing with a Nurse Educator emphasis (MSN-Ed) about a year ago.

With her nursing degree, Bradley found herself working in various fields doing a variety of tasks. She also used to work for Cuyahoga Falls City Schools as a teacher, along with some undergraduate teaching at Kent State University. Bradley’s goal was to teach undergraduate students how to become nurses themselves, but she stumbled upon the job opening at Bio-Med and, in her words, “I love it and I’m really happy to be here.”

Bradley is drawn towards the STEM program that BMSA offers along with the passion that its students have towards their learning. She is excited to be able to take her experience in the field and share it with her students. Fifteen years ago, Bradley says she would have not pictured herself where she is now. Despite only being at Bio-Med since September, she feels she has learned and grown a great deal.

Growing as a teacher isn’t all that Bradley has made progress with. Bradley opened up about her anxiety tied with public speaking. She says that she enjoys speaking in front of people, but she just can’t shake the fear and anxiety that sometimes comes with it. When graduating with her bachelor’s, Bradley gave the graduation speech, and she said that, “I was terrified to do it, but I wanted to, I was really excited to do it.” She says that she’s come a long way with it, and luckily Bradley does not get nervous in front of her students. Most people don’t know about her nervousness and public speaking. Bradley says that in a way, becoming a teacher has helped her face this fear.

Outside of the classroom, Bradley can be found out in nature kayaking, hiking, or being with her family and friends. She also loves to take part in different races from 5k’s to half marathons and is always trying to find a new race to do. Bradley also enjoys watching sports and is an avid Star Wars fan. When she’s not participating in one of these activities, Bradley is most likely found spending time with her four children.

bio-med journey Uncategorized

January is a SOUPer month! The National Month of Soup

January is a SOUPer month! The National Month of Soup

By McKenna Burchett, staff writer

FEBRUARY 2020 – According to a survey conducted by The Hive, only 12.9% of students at Bio-Med Science Academy knew that January is National Soup Month. National Soup Month was started by Campbell’s Soup Company in 1986 to promote the company. Campbell’s is a multinational food company headquartered in Camden, N.J., with annual sales of approximately $8.69 billion. It was founded in 1869 by Joseph Campbell and Abraham Anderson. The company initially started selling only soup, but have since expanded to other foods. 

However, is there more to soup than just selling it? 

Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.

“Soup is a very relaxing food,” said freshman Nathan Jimenez. “It’s for calming.” 

Eighth grader Zachary Hamilton agreed, calling soup “warm and comforting.” 

Meanwhile Kali Crawford, a sophomore, recalled a very emotionally charged experience involving soup. “One time I burnt my entire hand making soup, but the soup was good. It didn’t feel that good, but the soup was worth it. Soup is one of my favorite foods, so it makes me happy.”

Soup itself came about around the development of clay pots, as the waterproof pots allowed for boiling of ingredients. The oldest evidence of soup dates back to 20,000 BCE. The word originates from French’s word for soup, which is “soupe.” This in turn came from a Latin word, “suppa,” meaning bread soaked in broth. This is also where the word “sop” comes from.

As for the big question, “Is cereal soup?” a variety of answers were given. 30% of students said yes, 46.7% said no, and the rest said “sometimes.” Students said things ranging from “Soup contains broth, milk is NOT a broth,” to an entire rant about how “Soup is a job killer for inner mouth and jaw muscles. ”  

Further elaboration was gathered from a few students. Hamilton says that cereal is soup. “Soup is a liquidy substance with things in it that you can drink. Some cultures heat cereal up and make it warm, so that makes it soup. I think that if it’s thicker than runny, then it’s stew.” However, on the topic of gazpacho, a cold soup, he says “I don’t know, what is soup? It’s almost like a conspiracy theory…”

Crawford, however, disagrees with that notion. “I feel very strongly about cereal being soup, just like hot dogs being a sandwich, because soup is defined as a liquid dish with stuff in it.” When further probed about other solids within liquids, she clarified “If it’s not edible, it’s not soup.”

Here are a few soup recipes provided by Bio-Med students: 

Loaded Baked Potato Soup Recipe


6 slices bacon

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk, or more, as needed

1 cup chicken broth (no salt added preferred)

5 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

6 green onions, thinly sliced

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Evenly lay the bacon on a 2-3 ply paper towel- lined plate, cover with a paper towel and microwave until cooked and crispy– about 6 minutes. (You can also do this in a skillet, and remove and blot on paper towels.) Coarsely cut most of the bacon, finely chopping 2-3 tablespoons, as a garnish. Set aside. If using a pressure cooker, place the prepared potatoes in a steamer basket, on top of a trivet, with 2 cups of water. Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes, do a quick release and remove the lid. Melt butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds; add the green onion. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk, and chicken broth and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. If not using a pressure cooker for the potatoes, add them in at this time and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Otherwise, add the steamed potatoes, stir in cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more milk as needed until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately, garnished with green onion, cheese and bacon, if desired.

Taco Soup


2 tsp olive oil

1 1/4 lbs lean ground beef

1 medium yellow onion chopped (1 1/2 cups)

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (optional)*

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chiles

1 (14 oz) can low-sodium beef broth

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp chili powder**

1 tsp ground cumin

3/4 tsp ground paprika

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 Tbsp dry ranch dressing mix, or 1/3 cup chopped cilantro and 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (see notes***)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups frozen corn

1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14.5 oz) can can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Shredded Mexican blend cheese, chopped green or red onions, diced avocados and corn tortilla strips/chips


Heat a large pot over medium-high heat drizzle lightly with oil. Add ground beef in a large along with chopped onion, crumbling and stirring occasionally until browned. Add jalapeno and garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Drain excess fat from beef mixture.  Stir in tomatoes with chiles, beef broth, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, ranch dressing mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover pot with lid and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in corn, black beans and pinto beans and cook until heated through. Add 1/2 cup water to thin soup if desired. Stir in cilantro and lime if using. Serve warm finished with desired toppings.

Creamy Chicken, Spinach and Mushroom Tortellini Soup


1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/3 cups chopped yellow onion (1 medium)

1 1/3 cups diced carrots (about 3 medium)

8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded evenly to about 1/2-inch thickness

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup unsalted butter, sliced into 1 Tbsp pieces

1/3 cup flour

2 1/2 cups milk

9 oz refrigerated three cheese tortellini

4 oz fresh spinach (4 cups)

1/3 cup heavy cream


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and mushrooms and saute 3 minutes then add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Add in chicken broth, chicken, oregano and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot with lid and allow to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through (it should register 165 degrees in center on an instant read thermometer). While the chicken is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly 1 minute. While whisking vigorously slowly pour in milk. Season with salt and pepper and bring mixture just to a light boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside. Remove cooked chicken from soup and transfer to a cutting board, let rest 5 minutes then cut into pieces. Meanwhile, add tortellini to soup in pot, cover pot with lid and allow to boil over medium heat about 7 minutes (or time directed on package) adding in spinach during the last 1 minute. Stir in chicken, white sauce and cream. Serve warm with parmesan cheese.

general Uncategorized

Internship Spotlight: Steven Gaffney

Internship Spotlight: Steve Gaffney

by Aliscia Phillips, editor and chief 

FEBRUARY 2020 – For Senior APEX, students are required to complete either a research project or internship in order to graduate. This allows students to pursue an interest that could lead to a career or gain actual experience in a field they may end up working in. 

Steven Gaffney at his internship for The University of Akron’s Aero Design team.

As the year progresses, seniors are now preparing to share what they’ve learned. One student, Steven Gaffney, is interning with Tthe University of Akron’s Aero Design team to design and build model aircraft. He and the team of college students he works with will eventually submit their designs in a competition against other teams from different colleges. 

When asked what led him to choose this internship, Gaffney replied, “I had initially planned to intern with a company, but after going to another meeting at the university, I decided that I wanted to join the team.” He had previously been to several team meetings with his brother which let him know it would be a good fit for his interests: “I had known about their excellent teamwork [and] I knew the team was incredible at applying their knowledge to problems that face them in the field.”

His responsibilities consist of both working physically with the planes and editing footage for them. He said, “ Most days are pretty work-oriented, and we rarely will have a time where we aren’t altering pieces on the plane or filming, if not editing footage. On the other hand, we do have days where the work is slow, and that typically involves editing down pieces of footage that range hours in length.” 

His favorite part about his internship is the environment and experience he receives, specifically in CAD and video editing. He explained, “I have been in a great position, as my advisors have been really helpful and understanding, guiding me through their processes and allowing me to film their progress for my apex assignment.”

On the other hand, COVID has created road bumps for many students, including Steve. 

“Our team had been following restrictions in the months prior to the mid November lockdown,” he explained. “I had to immediately try and increase my hours to suffice for the time that I would be missing during the lockdown.” Thankfully, however, he was able to keep his internship and stayed caught up with his hours despite temporarily not being able to be at the university in person. 

bio-med journey Uncategorized

Black Students Matter

Black Students Matter

by Havann Brown, staff writer

FEBRUARY 2021 –The phrase “Black lives matter” was first shared by Alicia Garza in a Facebook post on July 13, 2013. Her post was in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. The phrase was instantly turned into a hashtag and spread to every social media platform. Alicia Garza was joined by activists Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi to create a network of community organizers dedicated to fighting racism and police brutality. 

In 2014, Black Lives Matter protested against the deaths of numerous people at the hands of the police. This rallying cry garnered national attention and further cemented itself as a movement. Six years later, a new peak was reached in the Summer of 2020. The death of George Floyd on Memorial Day set in motion a global reckoning that amassed millions of protesters fighting against police brutality and injustice.

Black Lives Matter protest in New York on June 9th, 2020. 45% of Black students attended high-poverty schools, compared with 8% of white students.

The calls for racial justice within the policing system have brought attention to other systems and institutions that may contribute to inequality. The education system has been the focus of some of these investigations. Over the summer, Bio-Med Science Academy released a statement detailing its commitment to helping students “develop a broader and deeper understanding of the long-standing inequities that are present in our society and to work to solve our country’s inequalities through a moral, humane and challenging curriculum and culture.” With Bio-Med being a predominantly white school, some Black students have expressed their thoughts on the racial environment surrounding them. 

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Among Black students from families living in poverty, 64% have parents whose education level is less than high school. 45% live in mother-only households. 35% live in father-only households.

Two students have felt an extra burden placed on them in the classroom. “At times I feel that other people think it is my responsibility to educate them on race or slavery,” said Junior Marinna Atanmo. 

Taylor Brown, an 8th-grade student, expressed a similar view: “Sometimes I feel that my classmates expect me to know everything about Black history, but I don’t and that’s mainly because it isn’t taught in schools.” The United States does not have federal requirements for teaching Black history in school curriculums, and only a few states have mandated it. Ohio is not among those states.

According to the Civil Rights Data Collection, Black students are more likely to receive suspensions or be placed into special education programs.  Cedric Sarfo, a current senior, discussed overcoming judgment: “People definitely have set low expectations for me in the past. However, I tried to prove them wrong in any way I can. Particularly academically people did not believe I would be where I am today,” he said. Cedric went on to express what he hopes people consider going forward: “I wish people understood how hard it is to change preconceived notions about a person and that sometimes they need to leave their biases and prejudices at the door and examine someone for who they are.”

Blessing Mupinga, another senior at Bio-Med, has been the only Black girl in her grade for the past nine years. “I feel like I have to be on my best behavior at all times and hold myself to a certain standard, so I don’t get labeled with certain negative stereotypes,” she said. 

When asked about how the Black Lives Matter movement affected her school life she said, “When the [Black Lives Matter] movement was at its peak, I felt mentally distracted because I was constantly trying to refute the false attacks that people were making. It made me stop focusing on school for a little so I could figure out what I could do to spread the movement in a positive way.”

According to the students who were interviewed, the education system, like many other institutions, still has a long way to go to fully address and correct its errors.

Cedric Sarfo said, “While I feel Bio-Med has layers of diversity in its own way, a more ethnically diverse environment would be amazing to experience. The more backgrounds one can reach from can ultimately enrich your total experience. This applies not only to school but life in general. I believe that diversity in anything will always result in something positive, what that positive aspect is will be dependent on the situation one may find themselves in.”

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