TikTok’s Impact on Mental Health

TikTok’s Impact on Mental Health

by Havann Brown, staff writer

Tik Tok is a social media platform that was released in 2016. Tik tok has exploded in popularity in recent years.

APRIL 2021 – In 2017, a Beijing-based tech company called ByteDance acquired Musical.ly for $1 billion before moving its users to a new platform.  A year later, the popular video streaming app, assumed a new name: TikTok. It is a social video-sharing app that allows creators to record, edit, and post videos up to sixty seconds in length. The app has amassed over six hundred million monthly active users worldwide and has been downloaded over two billion times on the App Store and Google Play.

TikTok users can create a variety of content ranging from challenges, dancing, artwork, comedic videos, and many more. On the app, every user has the opportunity to go viral, and many experts have raised concerns about TikTok and its growing popularity. A 2017 study of 8th to 12th graders found that high levels of depressive symptoms increased by 33% between 2010 and 2015 and has connected the results to overwhelming social media consumption. Increased technology use has been linked to mental health issues for a variety of reasons, including triggering content, social isolation, and a need for validation. 

TikTok saw a rise in users at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. During quarantine, more individuals had to remain at home and find new ways to occupy their time. As stated by the Philadelphia Inquirer, “the platform has viral memes where teenagers use self-deprecating humor to talk about anxiety, sexuality, insecurities, depression, and relationship abuse.” Given the wide array of content available on the platform, its users, teens and young adults in particular, have been recommended to exercise caution when using the app.

According to a survey completed by students in grades 7th through 12th, many students at Bio-Med use TikTok. Of the 112 students surveyed, 72.3% are active on the platform. When asked why they downloaded the app, answers ranged from “wanting to keep up with trends” to “needing something to help pass the time.” 

Forms response chart. Question title: Do you use TikTok?. Number of responses: 112 responses.

Aside from the various reasons for downloading the app, students have many different opinions on the possible effect the app has on the mental health of its users. 

Two students shared some of the positive aspects of TikTok.

Eighth-grader Sophie Wiley said, “I think that the app has a very positive environment with strict guidelines for learning, and growth, making an accepting community.”

“I think TikTok has a positive effect on the mental health of users. My sister started using the app this year and has not only connected with more friends, but gained confidence doing something she loves,” said Freshman Mallory Butcher. “Any social media is bound to have some negative effects on users because interacting with people is stressful, but the way I see people use the app, it has helped to keep safe in quarantine and gain social skills.”

Other students shared alternative opinions.

Junior Alex Hale-Hartman said, “I feel that just going through and using TikTok like any other social media isn’t bad, but creating and putting actual care and effort into joining a fad and making TikToks can have a negative effect.  It puts the want for social acceptance and the want to conform into a need for the individual and that’s never good.”

“The content is totally fine, but it’s the easy scrolling and short videos that damage our mental health. Our attention spans are being shortened and our threshold for instant gratification goes up and ultimately puts us at a disadvantage,” added Senior Suzie Krauss.

A study conducted by JAMA Psychiatry reported “spending more than 3 hours on social media per day puts adolescents at a higher risk for mental health problems.” In the survey responses, many students noted their concerns about the amount of time people spend on the app. TikTok use of more than five times a week was reported by 45.5% of students, with some using it every day. 

Junior Biomedical Engineering teacher and new TikTok creator, Miss Elissa Fusco (@miss.fusco) shared her experience with the platform. After being persuaded by some of her students, Miss Fusco downloaded the app. 

“I personally just needed a creative outlet for the crazy things that happen in the life of a teacher. Most of it is satire and just humor because honestly this year has been wild. That humor and creativity have been really helpful to let go of some stress,” said Fusco.

She also commented on the time concerns, “If you don’t manage your time [TikTok] can be very harmful because you get stuck into this rut and addiction in which you just keep watching videos. I do have a social media time limit set on my phone to help with this. Another potentially negative thing is the satisfaction from likes. When you don’t get as many likes as you hoped for or you don’t have that resilience to be okay with that, it can really cause someone to falter a bit along with their mental health.”

When asked how to establish healthy social media habits, Dr. Gary Maslow, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, told CNN, “It’s a balance, because there are benefits to engagement with media. There are so many ways in which social media is important and has positive features, but there’s also ways in which social media can replace social support and connection from people you are living with in person,” he said. “So it’s finding that sweet spot.” 


Stress Levels at Bio-Med Science Academy

Stress Levels at Bio-Med Science Academy

by Alyssa Cocchiola, Staff Writer

APRIL 2021- With due dates, state testing, and pressure to decide a career path in the midst of a pandemic, life for students can be stressful. A total of 102 students from grades 7-12 participated in a survey conducted by The Hive rating their stress. When asked to rate stress levels they experienced on a scale of one to ten, Bio-Med students answered an average of seven (with one being no stress and ten being extremely stressed).

After the results were recorded, it revealed that 89.2% of students were stressed because of school, and 56.9% were stressed because of mental health. 

Pictured Above is a graph representing the stress levels of Bio-med students.

In an attempt to reduce future stress levels, students shared ways that help them relax

“I give myself time to step away from my school work and responsibilities when I become overwhelmed,” Autumn Groen, a senior at Bio-Med wrote. “Some things I do to relieve stress are going on walks, spending time with my dog, and listening to music.”

She also noted that while being able to step away from her school work helps her de-stress, there are activities the school offers that help as well.

“Cyber Patriots has been a club that has helped me to step away from school assignments once a month, and although stressful at times due to its problem-solving aspects, it is a lot of fun to work through the images, chat with teammates, and eat good food,” Groen concluded. 

Virtual Versus In Person:

Out of the students that filled out the survey, only 21.6% were completing school virtually. When being asked if attending school in person was less stressful than attending at home, 74% of in-person students answered “yes.” Alternatively, exactly 52.4% of virtual students stated that being at home added more stress to their day. 

“I think it is more stressful,” Dakota Rennecker, an 8th grader, commented. “When you are in person you can go up to a teacher or friend and ask questions or show them problems you are having. When you are at home it is different.”

Communication was brought up frequently as a stressful part of virtual learning. With a lack of face to face communication and instructions, some students felt like it was more stressful with the only forms of communication being Zoom calls and emails. 

“You have to email your teachers which sometimes they can take some time to respond and when you do ask for help or are having an issue it is hard to show them or for them to understand your problem,” Rennecker continued. “You also can’t get much help after 4 pm and it makes me feel scared or anxious that I don’t understand what I am doing or I am going to do it wrong,” she concluded.

Haily Baer is a 7th grader who was virtual for the first half of the school year. During the second half, she switched to going in-person. She compared both her experiences and shared that virtual school added more stress to her day. 

“It changed my perspective a lot actually, ‘cause I used to love working at home; everybody loves being able to do whatever they want when they want to. But that changed after being so isolated from people,” she shared. “Being a social person who is stuck at home causes mass stress. You don’t have anyone to help you work, and you don’t have your friends. Now everytime we can go to the building, I make sure to go ‘cause no one wants to feel so lonely.”

While completing school work at home adds stress to some people’s days, others did not see an increase in stress caused by school. For some students, they noted it was beneficial for them to be able to work at their own pace. 

“It’s been less stressful for a few reasons,” Caroline Brunn stated. He is an 8th grader attending school virtually, and says that being at home does not add stress to his day. “A) I can take naps and eat food and stuff;  B) In all honesty, I spend a lot of time playing video games and not doing school so it’s pretty ‘chill.’”

“Either option comes with its own stresses,” Emma Aguliar, a 10th grade student completing school virtually, noted. “I do not think that attending school virtually is any less stressful than attending school in person. It’s just a different kind of stress. Attending school virtually comes with the stress of not knowing exactly what is going on inside of school. This makes communicating with people in school harder and more stressful.”

Just Dance Breaks

Dance parties are held in the commons as a fun way to help alleviate stress.

Lillian Ijoma is a junior this year and noted that she was often stressed about the future. When being asked about whether or not she thought it was more or less stressful to attend school in person, she responded “When I’m at home, it’s much harder to be motivated. Also, especially with math, when you actually have to learn instead of just completing projects or assignments, it’s so much harder to understand material when you can’t ask questions.” 

One thing that has helped her de-stress while attending school has been the Just Dance sessions offered at school. “When I’m at school, me and my friends can be stressed together and that’s very helpful. Also, Mino and Hisey hold daily Just Dance sessions in the commons and doing those with my friends are extremely wonderful and good.” 

When asked, only 23.1% of students attending school in person have attended the Just Dance Breaks are held after the last lunch period around 1:16 PM. Out of those students, 43.2% of people who attend felt less stressed afterwards. 

Students at Biomed Upper Academy participating in a dance party.

The dance breaks themselves were started by a group of sophomore students and now happen daily. Aidan Veney, a 10th grade student, helped organize the dance breaks by creating a google form where students had the opportunity to request songs and have them played. 

“I realized I really liked them so I tried to keep them going and keep people going to them,” he commented.

Along with enjoyment, they also provide him with a way to de-stress. “I look forward to doing them every day,” he explained. “It’s just like a little thing to look forward to every day. Especially with the hour and a half long classes, it can be a bit of a drag, so it’s nice to just have even a couple of minutes to do something else.”

Mindfulness Activities

Another way some students de-stress are through mindfulness activities. Mindfulness activities are anything that encourage someone to be aware of their senses and in the moment, like yoga or meditation. They can also be helpful for students to de-stress at home. 

Some students at Biomed participate in meditation or related mindfulness activities to help relieve stress.

“Meditation and yoga really help me center myself,” Emma Aguilar mentioned. “Mindfulness activities are extremely important for me. They help me stay composed during my daily activities whether that is implementing breathing techniques into my daily life or using the yoga I do to improve my soccer playing. “

Out of all the students who took the survey, only 7.9% of people regularly do mindfulness activities, while 42.6% never do. Opinions on mindfulness activities were split, but revealed to be calming for some students. 

“I think everyone can get some kind of benefit from things like meditation, but how much it helps changes from person to person,” Trevor Baldwin, a freshman, commented.

They also provide a way for in-person students to reduce stress as well.

Blessing Mupinga is a senior attending school in person and shared her thoughts on mindfulness as well. “I think that they are very helpful to give your brain a break and get some clarity and make conclusions about your life,” they said. “These may oftentimes influence you to change some of your behaviors to make yourself better so that you are able to partake in more eye opening, restful experiences.”

However, mindfulness is not for everyone. Sitting still and being in the moment can be more stressful for others, and can be harder to do if they are not used to them. 

For students like Grace Watters, an 8th grader attending school in person, mindfulness is not the most effective in relieving stress. “I don’t really understand them,” they said. “I’ve tried, but it doesn’t really work out for me.”

Other students noted that some forms of mindfulness are beneficial, but not all. 

 “I think they’re good but not something effective for me all of the time,” Skyler Earl, a sophomore, commented. “ If it’s something like meditation I can actually get more stressed because I have room to think about what’s stressing me out, but other things like yoga are better because they’re more active.”

Some students like Trevor Baldwin participate in baking to relieve stress.


“It just isn’t worth it to be stressed,” Trevor Baldwin commented. He recommended finding a hobby in order to reduce stress. “Mine was baking. It is challenging and fun and the outcome is always something to be proud of.”

Trevor talked about the loaf he baked over the weekend. “The flavor was interesting to say the least. It was a strange recipe that didn’t need to be kneaded and it was very tasty, and goes well with soup or hot pepper cheese,” he said. 

For students, life can be stressful at times. Whether it is school, social life, public health, family, mental health, or career planning, there are ways that can help reduce stress.


From Tutor to Teacher

From Tutor to Teacher

by Kaden Starkey, Staff Writer

APRIL 2O21 – Mrs. Madison Cambria is a new face at Bio-Med Science Academy. She teaches science to seventh grade students and is in her first year of teaching.

Initially, Cambria’s plans were not to become a teacher; she went into college as a biology major, but she transitioned into education, as biology was missing the personal connection. She graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Science Education.

Cambria says that by being a teacher, “it feels like you’re doing more for the world.”

Pictured is Mrs. Cambria. Mrs. Cambria is the 7th grade science teacher at Biomed Lower Academy.

In high school, Cambria was a cashier at Giant Eagle but quit to start her own tutoring business. She had around eight to nine students and spent about an hour with each per week. 

“I started it, and I think that’s what kind of got me into teaching,” she says. Before becoming a teacher, she was able to gain experience from working one on one with students. “I think it grew on me,” Cambria adds. 

Prior to coming to Bio-Med, Cambria said that she didn’t know very much about the school. But, she said that she “really liked what Bio-Med stood for.” She appreciated that the school is “mastery-based for learning instead of everything always being based on test scores, numbers, [and] percentages,” as well as the overall idea of it being a STEM school. 

With it being her first year teaching, Cambria says, “being at Bio-Med has taught me a lot.” When she came into the school, she didn’t have any prior teaching experience in a school atmosphere. She says “it’s taught me what kind of teacher I want to be because that’s something I came into Bio-Med not knowing.” 

“It’s taught me what a school should really look like and what a school should really focus on,” Cambria says.

Bio-Med has also helped her learn “how to branch out within the work community.” Cambria always kept to herself; she says that, “I would rather figure something out on my own than ask for help.” But she has realized that at Bio-Med, you have to reach out and ask for help, because “if you don’t understand something, it’s not gonna come to you; you have to seek advice.”

Overall, Cambria says that, “To come here and have this as a first-year experience is pretty awesome because they do things differently here.” She says that her first year is going great: “It’s going really well. I feel pretty confident.”

When Cambria was in high school, she used to be a varsity singles tennis player. 

Cambria tried to continue the sport into college, but Kent State doesn’t have a tennis program that she could participate in.

“I also really love thrift shopping.” Cambria says. She sometimes thinks to herself if she truly wants to tell someone about it because some people think of thrift shopping as weird or odd. Ultimately, she says that “I need to be true to myself.”

Cambria also loves spending time with her family. She says that, “I have a very supportive family and my family is very important to me.” 

In May of last year, she and her husband got married “during the pandemic, which was crazy,” she says.

“We are expecting our first child in April,” Cambria says. She is currently on maternity leave. 

Cambria hopes that her students “come away from [her] class learning how to creatively solve a problem instead of looking at a problem as a brick wall in front of them.” She says that most schools train students that there is only one solution to a problem. For a lot of her students, she feels that when they will be faced with a challenge, they will just stop and feel as if they cannot get past it.

“I want my students to be able to creatively find a way around the problem, or change the problem to not be a problem anymore.”

bio-med journey Uncategorized

Saving the Planet: Earth Day and Recycling at Bio-Med Science Academy

Saving the Planet: Earth Day and Recycling at Bio-Med Science Academy

by McKenna Burchett, staff writer

Photo by McKenna Burchett
Earth day is recognized all over the world and helps demonstrate support for environmental protection.

APRIL 2021 –  Most students at Bio-Med Science Academy report that they don’t do anything particular to celebrate Earth Day. Sophia Wood, an eighth grader, believes that Earth Day is important, as it “stresses the importance of preserving our Earth and informs us about many actions to prevent and slow the impact [of climate change.]” 

Conner Lucas says, “I think it’s important that we are always thinking about the Earth instead of on one day.” 

Bio-Med students seem to be doing this. For example, Mady Kohout says, “I’m always recycling to reduce my trash thrown away. I also went strictly vegetarian just over two years ago and I try to eat vegan or use dairy substitutes as often as I can. I also try to buy as much as I can from environmentally-friendly businesses;  however, that’s more difficult to do regularly since they are hard to come by.” 

Junior Kelsea Cooper is thinking of starting a club that revolves around sustainability efforts “to make more students aware of ways they can make their lives more sustainable to benefit our community and the Earth.”

Earth Day is on April 22, and is the 51st celebration of the event. Earth Day began in 1970 after decades of mass consumption of leaded gas and unchecked factories spewing sludge into the atmosphere. However, in 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, which began to bring awareness to the importance of taking care of our planet through her discussion of adverse pesticides. After a devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, Senator Gaylord Nelson started a series of teach-ins at college campuses with Congressman Pete McCloskey as his co-chair and Denis Hayes as the organizer of the events. They held it on April 22, which eventually became the international event we know today as Earth Day.

As for the much-debated issue of recycling at Bio-Med, many students and teachers report hearing that the school combines their recycling bins with their trash bins, and only 6.7% of students always used the recycling bins at the school (according to a survey conducted by The Hive.) 

This is not the case though. Neo-Med and Bio-Med have a thorough recycling system. 

Jerry Bergstrom, Neo-Med supervisor of Physical Plant Campus Operations, clarifies this: “We have regular garbage, and we have stations out in the hallways with paper recycling, and then we have the bins that you can open the lids on for plastics and bottles. Cardboard is picked up separate. Portage County Recycling takes all of our plastics, bottles and glass, and then our paper gets shredded and is picked up by Portage industries, which is used for animal beds. Palettes are recycled also; they pick them up and reuse them.”

The New Center, and by extension Bio-Med, works slightly differently. 

“They’re basically the same program we are; we just run two different contracts. It’s picked up by different companies.”


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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Teacher Vaccinations

Teacher Vaccinations

by Alyssa Cocchiola, Staff Writer

MARCH 2021 – On Friday, Feb 19, Bio-Med teachers and staff had the opportunity to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This was a digital day, so students could work from home while staff received their vaccinations. 

“The process was smooth and convenient,” Mrs. Borcoman, the Interventionist Specialist for grades 9-12 commented. “It was a great bonus that we were able to do it here in our building. In many other districts they have to travel outside of their district to have it done.”

Mrs. Mihalik, College, Career, and Finance teacher, shared her experience with the vaccine as well. 

“The staff was called back in alphabetical order by first name, so I was in the last group called. I was anxious because I was afraid they would run out by the time they got to me,” she explained. “When they called me back, I sat with a nurse as she explained which vaccine I was getting and what side effects I might experience. Afterward, I had to sit in a room for fifteen minutes to make sure I had no adverse effects.”

Staff members had a choice of choosing to be vaccinated or not and shared their reasoning behind their decision.

“While I was wary about the vaccine considering the rapidity within which it was created, I am a proponent of the benefits of vaccination as well as the professionalism and expertise of our medical community,” Mrs. McLaughlin, Bio-Med principal stated. “I had to practice what I preach, so to speak. I also think that mass vaccination will be the best way to work towards a sense of normalcy in our daily lives. I’m willing to do my part.”

“I am scared that there is a possibility of bad side effects but I know in the end it will be for everyone’s good,” Ms. Brook commented. When being asked about her decision to get the vaccine, she responded that “I would hate to have my loved ones wonder why I didn’t get the vaccine if I possibly died from Covid.” 

Many teachers felt a sense of morality when it came to getting vaccinated. Ms. Hisey, the sophomore language arts teacher stated, “I got the vaccination not only to protect myself, but because I feel that vaccination in general is a moral duty that we all owe to our neighbors and communities. Not everyone is medically able to get vaccinated, so it’s important that we protect the vulnerable among us.”

“As an immunocompromised person, I feel much, much safer knowing that I will have some protection. I’m grateful to all the researchers who worked night and day to get this to us,” Ms. Hisey concluded. 

Pictured is ELA teacher and newspaper advisor Ms. Bates after receiving a COVID-19

After receiving the first dose of the vaccine, staff members were asked to fill out a survey, with questions about the severity of side effects, along with their blood type. It has been speculated that there could be a link to the severity of vaccination side effects and the blood type of the recipient. 

As for COVID-19 itself, studies have speculated that people with blood type A were likely to get a higher risk of infection than those with blood type O, which was the least likely. The results of the survey were used to see if this was the case with staff members. 

Out of the 17 responses in the survey, 31.3% had a blood type of A+, 18.8% had O+, 6.3% had O-, B-, and B+, and 31.3% did not know their blood type. Staff members were asked to rate the severity of their side effects on a scale of 1-10, with one being little to none and ten being really severe. 

All participants of the survey answered a number below six, with the average being 2.4. The average for people with blood types A- and A+ was 2.4, for B- and B+ the average was 3, and for blood type O- and O+, it was 2.25. Out of this sample population data, the group with the highest severity of side effects being blood type B, which contradicts what was speculated previously. With the data collected, there was no direct correlation between the severity of symptoms and blood type.

While not severe, most staff members still experienced side effects after the vaccine.

Mr. Martau, the sophomore history teacher, shared his experience with the vaccine. 

“I did have mild side effects after getting vaccinated,” he wrote. “On Friday afternoon, I had some general soreness in my shoulder. Into Saturday evening, I felt fatigued and had chills, though my temperature never went high enough to be considered a fever. By Sunday morning, I was good as new.”

Ms. Huffman, the Bio-Med Receptionist shared that on top of having a sore arm she “ also had a headache the first day and was very tired too.” 

Mrs. Borcoman explained that her side effects did not last more than a couple days after the vaccine. 

“The only side effect I had was some tenderness in the area of the injection,”she stated. “It felt a little bit like someone punched me in the arm and walked away. The tenderness was gone within 48 hours.” 

Soreness in the arm was the most common side effect and experienced by almost all staff members that filled out the survey. The overall side effects included sore shoulders and arms from where the vaccine was injected, headaches, fatigue, itchiness, chills, and tiredness. However, most side effects went away after 48 hours. 

“As the vaccine becomes more available to people (especially younger folks), employers/schools/parents need to understand that this vaccine can cause some decently rough side effects,” Ms. Fusco, the Biomedical Engineering teacher wrote.

“I’m very very VERY grateful Bio-Med was able to have the vaccine given on a Friday, so we had the weekend to rest and recover. If not, I’m pretty sure I would’ve fallen asleep at some point during the day, since fatigue was my worst symptom,” she concluded.  

The Bio-Med staff is scheduled to receive the second dose of the vaccine on March 19th next month. 

bio-med journey

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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Endometriosis Awareness Month

Endometriosis Awareness Month

by Serena Gestring, staff writer

MARCH 2021 – March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. This is a time to spread awareness of a little-known illness and hear the approximately 176 million voices of those living with it all over the world. 

Endometriosis is a medical disorder in which endometrium, the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside of the uterus, usually onto the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic tissue lining, and sometimes other pelvic organs.   

According to the Mayo Clinic, endometriosis can be very painful. This is because the endometrial-like tissue growing outside of the uterus also congeals, breaks down, and then bleeds with each menstrual cycle like normal endometrium does. Unlike endometrium, however, there is nowhere for that blood to go, and so it is trapped in the body. 

Other complications can arise as well. If endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts referred to as endometriomas can form, causing the surrounding tissue to become irritated. Scar tissue will eventually form, as well as adhesions, or abnormal bands of fibrous tissue. These can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick together. Fertility issues are also common with endometriosis. 

Christine Whyde is a senior Bio-Med Science Academy student who was diagnosed with endometriosis when she was fifteen years old. The process that led to her diagnosis was long and repetitive. 

Pictured above is Christine Whyde, a 12th grader at Biomed Upper academy, who was diagnosed with endometriosis.

Although Whyde did not provide details, she said she could tell something was wrong  at around age ten. Whyde went to a doctor who put her on birth control. According to her, normally doctors will start patients on a basic hormonal birth control, usually an oral medication, as many reproductive conditions are treated with those. For Whyde, the birth control made her symptoms worse.

If previous attempts do not work, doctors will move on to a shot to regulate hormones. Whyde tried this medication option, but that also made things worse. Then she went to another doctor who gave her a new medicine that ultimately did not work as well.  

“I was just passed around from doctor to doctor for over three years,” Whyde said. “Basically it was a chain of that [until] I finally had to go to an adult OBGYN when I was fifteen, which was unusual because I was the youngest person that was in there.” 

At that point, Whyde underwent surgery so the doctors could look with a small camera to see any problems that could be the cause of her symptoms. They also biopsied the surrounding tissue for examination. Afterwards, Whyde was finally diagnosed with endometriosis. 

“I’m trying to think of a way to word this that isn’t very depressing,” Whyde said in regard to living with this condition. Whyde went on to say that it makes her feel bad because she cannot do things that regular people her age can do at times because of her symptoms. 

“Sometimes when my parents are outside doing yard work and they need help with something, I feel terrible because since I’m in pain a lot of the time, I can’t help them do anything. It really kind of limits me,” she said. Whyde also had to be exempted from gym class due to her illness. 

The immense pain that can come with endometriosis was one of the major reasons Whyde pushed to get diagnosed. 

“[The pain] was so bad that I was missing days of school because when I would have a flare up or something, I couldn’t even get out of my bed. I couldn’t even sit up or do anything,” she stated. “So it was affecting my education at that point, and my social life because I was just staying home instead of doing anything.”

Whyde’s condition also makes her sad because of its extremity. 

“Some people will just get put on birth control or something and it gets fixed for them, which is great,” she said, “but it sucks that the condition is different for everyone who has it and unfortunately I am just one of those people that it just gets worse as I get older … I had two separate doctors look at my parents and say that there was like nothing else they could do for me.” 

Having endometriosis has limited Whyde’s future as well. 

“I wanted to be in the military for example, and [I] can’t do that because technically … endometriosis isn’t considered a disability yet because again there are some people who aren’t in any pain at all, but it’s a chronic condition regardless,” she said. 

There is also the possibility of Whyde not being able to have children or needing to have a hysterectomy at a young age. 

“It’s put me into some difficult thing, like I have to think about things that other kids our age don’t have to think about,” she said. 

There are millions of people with stories like Christine Whyde’s. It is estimated that one in ten women have endometriosis, but not all of them are aware of it. According to the Metro OBGYN Team, a lack of awareness of this illness and the normalization of its symptoms has contributed to delaying a diagnosis for many women. The National Institute of Health and US Library of Medicine reported that it can take between three and eleven years for someone to be diagnosed with endometriosis. 

Yellow is the color of endometriosis awareness. March is endometriosis awareness month.

Becoming educated is a start for correcting this issue. Get familiar with what endometriosis is and its symptoms. This will provide the ability to educate others. Then begin talking about it. Yellow is the symbol of Endometriosis Awareness Month. Wearing yellow clothing or a yellow ribbon is a simple conversation starter anywhere. 

By spreading awareness about endometriosis, more people will be diagnosed and treated sooner for this illness. Endometriosis Awareness Month is a great time to start. 


Preparing for the Inevitable

Preparing for the Inevitable

by Christine Whyde, staff writer

MARCH 2021 – Millions of Americans are noticing an alarming trend as funeral costs continue to rise. According to a 2017 article by Business Insider, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the funeral costs and burial casket prices had increased by more than 230% since 1986 while all other commodities only rose 93% in comparison. This jump has caused many to choose cremation as a cost effective alternative, but there is not much of a difference in price. As of 2019 the National Funeral Directors Association found the average cost of a funeral to be $7,640 while a funeral with cremation was priced at $5,150. 

To combat these rising fees, many are choosing to pre-plan their services many years before their passing. This allows them to potentially pay for the entirety of their funerary care years in advance while locking in prices that will not increase. Although the costs may be comparable to that of a normal service, many are also beginning to seek out alternatives to traditional disposition (burial or cremation). 

One such option is an eternal reef. According to the official Eternal Reef website, “An Eternal Reef combines a cremation urn, ash scattering, and burial at sea into one meaningful, permanent environmental tribute to life.”

Cremated remains are mixed with ocean-safe cement to create artificial reef formations. These memorial formations are then placed onto the ocean floor to create habitats for marine life. 

People are able to give this company all or only a portion of the cremated remains of a loved one as well as remains of pets or additional family members. Families are able to participate in the creation of the formations if they wish and they may add personal touches such as a handprint. 

Prices depend on the size of the structure and attendance of loved ones, ranging from $2,995 to $7,495. Note that this does not include the initial cost of cremation that would be handled at a crematory or funeral home outside of the organization or any transportation of the family to witness when the formation is placed. Costs do include the presence of an inscribed plaque, transportation of the formation to the reef site, placement and dedication of the formation, and a specific GPS location of the reef. 

Another disposition alternative, similar to cremation, is called alkaline hydrolysis. The Cremation Association website describes the process: “Alkaline hydrolysis uses water, alkaline chemicals, heat, and sometimes pressure and agitation, to accelerate natural decomposition, leaving bone fragments and a neutral liquid called effluent.” By the end of the process, the body has decomposed in a way similar to burial with the aid of chemicals. The effluent is discharged along with the other waste products. 

Many people choose alkaline hydrolysis over cremation because it is considered to be a gentler process on the body. It is also seen as a more environmentally friendly alternative to cremation and burial.

Just like cremation, the body of the deceased will be transported to the facility by funerary professionals and the cremated remains will be delivered to the designated recipient. The main difference is the type of machine used and the process itself. It has also been found that alkaline hydrolysis results in 32% more cremated remains than those produced through traditional cremation. The price varies depending on the funeral home and state in which you are provided the service, but is generally at a similar price point to cremation. 

Unfortunately, those interested in this form of disposition may need to look outside of their home state. Currently, only 15 states allow alkaline hydrolysis and not all of them have trained professionals. This is largely due to confusion over the waste products, as many assume that toxic chemicals are being haphazardly released into the water treatment system. Only 5% of the solution in the machine contains chemicals and the waste product left over is heavily regulated before disposal.

Those seeking a more environmentally friendly form of disposition may also be interested in a green burial. 

A biodegradable casket offers a greener way to bury your loved ones.

For a burial to be officially considered a green burial, a number of guidelines must be followed. The deceased must be cared for with little impact on the environment unless in a way that aids conservation, reducing the emission of carbon, protecting the health of workers, or restoration/preservation of the habitat in which the body is to be buried. Typically this means that the body is not embalmed or goes through the process of cremation. 

The container in which the body is contained, whether that be a casket or urn, must be biodegradable. Green burial caskets can be made from everything from wicker to cardboard. 

Due to the criteria, lawn cemeteries are usually not acceptable for this type of burial as they may require vaults, concrete grave markers, or other disruptions to the environment. Designated “green” cemeteries do exist, such as the Foxfield Preserve located in Stark County, Ohio. 

Green cemeteries provide services like ash spreading and biodegradable burials.

To be buried at the Foxfield Preserve, an interment fee of at least $4000 must be paid. Each site allows for one full casket, one full casket with a set of cremated remains, or two sets of cremated remains. If burial is not required, cremated remains can be scattered onsite for a $250 fee. Other fees will be required depending on the desired service. 

Additionally, an individual seeking this type of disposition must work alongside a funeral home that offers such services. One such facility is local Bissler & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory located in Kent, Ohio. 

There are many other alternatives and things that may be added to traditional funerary services that may be more accessible. Some of these include incorporating cremated remains into jewelry, tattoo ink, a toy, or even a vinyl record. Others may choose to scatter the remains in one or more areas of significance. As far as burial, some may be interested in burial at sea or, if legally permitted, having a loved one buried on private property rather than a cemetery. Regardless of the disposition or how young one may be, it is imperative that Americans start planning ahead of time. Afterall, death and deathcare is inevitable and they have a cost. 

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