Orca-strating a Trip to Alaska

by Jesse Mitchell, staff writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arts & Culture Bio-Med Education General Interest

Bio-Med Campus Safety

by Logan Cook, staff writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bio-Med General Interest

The Second Season of “Young Royals” Should be a Blueprint for Other Teenage Dramas

by Camryn Myrla, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — The second season of the Swedish drama “Young Royals” aired Nov. 1 and was met with global attention. In its first week of streaming, it was the fourth most-streamed Netflix show worldwide, according to FlixPatrol, and it’s clear why. “Young Royals” almost perfectly summarizes the modern lives of teenagers while also exploring what it means to be queer in an unaccepting environment.

Compared to its previous season, the second season of “Young Royals” can be more taxing to watch for its realistic depiction of mental illnesses. As the story continues merely weeks after season one, Wilhelm is still dealing with grief over a loved one on top of the stress of royalty. Photo obtained from Netflix.

The show follows Wilhelm, the Prince of Sweden (Edvin Ryding), who is sent to a prestigious boarding school. He meets Simon Eriksson (Omar Rudberg) — an openly-gay student — and begins a journey of self-discovery after the two develop feelings for each other.

Throughout both of its seasons, “Young Royals” struggles with relying on cliches to advance storylines. An unfortunate example is the use of an unnecessary love triangle in season two between Simon and Marcus (Tommy Wättring). Marcus was introduced for the sole reason of being Simon’s love interest, despite the two lacking chemistry.

Both the cast and crew comprise members of the LGBTQ+ community. Though it’s never announced in the show, the actor pictured above who plays Alexander (Xiao-Long Rathje Zhao) is transgender. Photo by Camryn Myrla, staff writer.

Because of these archetypes, the story can often feel rushed. However, the show’s writers make up for this with its beautifully-written characters. In particular, Wilhelm’s royalty is flawlessly used as a metaphor for internalized homophobia; he struggles with choosing between being who others want him to be and living his truth.

Additionally, Ryding provides a chilling portrayal of Wilhelm’s anxiety in season two when his character begins attending therapy.

In addition to Wilhelm’s anxiety, viewers also learn more about the hardships of his second-cousin, August (Malte Gårdinger). After establishing himself as an antagonist in season one, August begins to truly embrace the role, going to new lengths to gain power and status. However, he continues to struggle with substance abuse. This complexity in its characters makes “Young Royals” captivatingly realistic.

Though it’s about fictional royalty and nobility, the show provides a more believable snapshot of a teenager’s life than many other modern programs.

Problems often arise when adults well-above the age of 18 are cast to play high schoolers. Viewers are almost always pulled away from the story, because the actors’ ages are so starkly off. Hypersexualization also becomes an issue, as having older actors may distract from the fact that the characters are minors. Fortunately, this is not an issue for the drama; the oldest actor of a main teenage character is currently 24.

What also sets “Young Royals” apart from other shows is its inclusivity and representation of the LGBTQ+ community. An important feature regarding representation in media is that showrunners should not expect a “pat on the back” for including it; many shows simply contain a token LGBTQ+ character to seem progressive. Meanwhile, “Young Royals” is made by and for queer people.

While at face value, “Young Royals” seems like the typical romance drama, the show teaches countless lessons regarding relationships, mental health, substance abuse, and much more. From its breath-taking opening to its frustrating cliffhanger, season two keeps viewers entranced for the entire watch and eager to learn what will happen in season three.

Arts & Culture Opinion Review

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

by Avery Miller, staff writer


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Krunich had similar thoughts about her art credit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arts & Culture Bio-Med

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays

by Alexandra Levy, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — I am Jewish, but Christmas will always be my favorite holiday.

Every year, winter can feel hopeless when the days get shorter, and the sun sets earlier. It’s easy to feel lost in the monotony of the cold, white snow. But then, something magical always happens to break up the chilly winter days: Christmas.

Ethan Kay (left) and Shayna Wilschek (right) lit the Hanukkah menorah while celebrating the holiday in the Ohev Beth Sholom Synagogue in Youngstown. It is a tradition to light the Hanukkah menorah each of the eight nights of the holiday. Photo obtained from Bob Coupland.

Instead of driving through a sea of dark houses during winter nights, Christmas guides the way home with displays full of sugar, toys, and light. Once-empty shopping malls are alive with the buzz of anxious shoppers trying to buy the perfect gift. Schools full of stressed students cramming for midterms and finals are transformed into a hub of Secret Santa exchanges.

For as long as I can remember, my favorite holiday has always been Christmas. My dad is Jewish, and my mom converted from Catholicism to Judaism when she was younger. My mom never wanted me to miss out on the opportunity to celebrate Christmas, because I was Jewish; we would always do something together to commemorate the day. Some years, we would decorate a big tree and hang stockings. Others, we would go for the stereotypical Jewish celebration of Christmas: eating takeout Chinese food and going to the movies.

Maybe the decorations or the small family celebrations made me love Christmas. I’ve never disliked Jewish holidays like Hanukkah, but none had the same feeling as Christmas. But as a child growing up in the Jewish Philadelphia suburbs, I always felt like an outsider for my love of Dec. 25.

I distinctly remember a childhood friend who made fun of my mini-light-up Christmas tree and Santa Snoopy t-shirt.

“Are you sure you’re Jewish?” my friend had asked me. “Jewish people don’t celebrate Christmas.”

This made me ashamed and embarrassed at the merry scene I had set up nights before. It wasn’t until that moment when I realized not all my Jewish friends celebrated Christmas as I did.

In fact, Pew Research found that only 32% of American-Jewish households had ever owned a Christmas tree. I don’t know why the lack of Christmas celebrations bothered me. Still, I thought Christmas didn’t have a place in my definition of Jewish culture.

I thought if I loved Christmas, then I wasn’t Jewish enough. So, I hid the trees and the presents, and I told my parents that we should only celebrate Hanukkah from that point on.

Pictured is my family’s  light-up evergreen tree with Hanukkah decorations. The tree is a metaphor for the merging of traditions between Hanukkah and Christmas. Photo by Alex Levy.

After moving to Ohio and attending a majority-Christian school in 2014, I tried to hide that I was Jewish around the holiday season at school, so I wouldn’t feel the self-pressure to miss out on Christmas.

At school, I didn’t tell anyone I was Jewish. Instead, I told my peers about all the Christmas fun I would have. I colored snowflakes and Santas and lived in a world that smelled like hot chocolate where no one would tell me, “Happy Hanukkah!” instead of “Merry Christmas!”

After school, I would go home, practice Hebrew, and clean the Hanukkah menorah for fun. Although my parents did not and still don’t care about how we celebrate any winter holidays, I refused to tell them about any of the holiday festivities I participated in at school.

That was until the day before winter break in third grade. I was sitting in my classroom, counting the hours until break started, when suddenly, my mom waltzed into the room. She carried a plate of homemade cookies decorated to look like menorahs and dreidels.

My mom wanted to surprise me by bringing Hanukkah to school, because I told her how important it was to me at home. The teacher let her briefly explain what Hanukkah is and how it’s celebrated in Jewish households.

I remember sitting and watching everyone in the room be amazed and intrigued at the idea of this new, unfamiliar holiday. When my mom finished her speech and left, my classmates stared and ogled at me. I was bombarded with questions about the festival of lights and being Jewish.

It was a pleasant surprise to realize that other people could feel a fascination for Hanukkah like I had felt for Christmas. The experience made me proud of my Jewish heritage when I listened to their well-intentioned (even if slightly offensive) comments about my culture.

I tried my best to answer all of their haphazardly asked questions while also desperately trying to explain that I celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah.  

That day, as I left the classroom, I remember that not a single person in the room wished me a merry Christmas or a happy Hanukkah; instead, they said, “Happy Holidays.”

After that year, I realized it wasn’t worth trying to hide my culture or love for Christmas, because they’re both a part of me. I started getting excited about both Hanukkah and Christmas. I even combine the decorations for both celebrations. In my attempt to merge holidays, I started a tradition where my family uses a menorah as the Christmas tree topper.

Liking Christmas as a holiday and a time of year doesn’t make me any less a part of my Jewish heritage and culture. I have no reason to try and hide any part of my winter holiday experience, which is why I can confidently say Christmas is my favorite holiday.

Arts & Culture Narrative

Maybe Adventure, Maybe Math: Mr. Mabey says, “Definitely!”

By Audrey Fusillo, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — Joel Mabey has begun his first teaching job as the ninth-grade Integrated Mathematics instructor at Bio-Med Science Academy. With a double major in mathematics and programming, Mabey always kept teaching in the back of his mind as a career option. 

Pictured above is Joel Mabey (left) and Emily Mabey (right) on their wedding day. They got married in June 2022. Photo provided by Joel Mabey.

Born in North Carolina, Mabey grew up with his two younger siblings, Clark and Elsa, under the care of a preschool director mother and an MIT graduate father who specialized in math and business analytics.

His father’s career kept his family mobile. The Mabey family moved when he was two years old to Pittsburgh, PA, for a business opportunity. This is where Mabey unearthed his love for nature and adventure.

“Back in our Pittsburgh house, we had a pretty good amount of woods in our backyard. So I spent a lot of that time just exploring our woods,” Mabey shared. “There’s just something very pure and beautiful about nature.”

Around that same time, he also found that he was very reliable when it came to math.

“In grade school, I always excelled at math, and it came naturally to me — maybe just that analytical style of thinking,” he said.

In 2011, when he was a junior in high school, Mabey moved with his family to Solon, Ohio. He joined track and cross country at that time, and he is still running to this day. He graduated high school in 2013.

Mabey received a full-ride scholarship for presidential fellowship during the same year, attending Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA.

He earned his undergraduate degree in both math and computer science in 2017. He then enrolled in a PhD program in 2018, focusing on theoretical computer science. He didn’t realize he wanted to be a teacher until after completing his time in higher education.

“I wasn’t finding a lot of meaning in the work that I was doing. I felt like maybe I wanted to pursue a different option for what I wanted to do with my life — a more meaningful path that I could commit my life to,” Mabey said.

After attending his PhD program for one year, Mabey left without completing the program. He decided to look for something that could allow him to think about what he wanted to do with his life.

As a result, he found a conservation program based in Flagstaff, AZ, and the program drew him in.

“There’s something there, contrasting the PhD computer science program where you’re spending every day inside on a computer. Maybe some desire to have that connection to the outside and nature,” he said.

Through the American Conservation Experience (ACE), Mabey worked on projects all throughout the Southwest, traveling to worksites in backcountry wilderness where they worked in areas, such as the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest.

Above is a photo of the Cottonwood Canyon project Mabey worked on in Arizona. This was the final product in October 2019; the staircase is still up for use today. Picture provided by Joel Mabey.

He explained, “You go out for eight days, and during the [eight day] period, you bring food and everything you need. You camp out close to the work site and hike out every day while bringing out the tools you need. On the off days, they’d just have housing we’d stay at in Flagstaff.”

Mabey participated in activities that allowed the areas to be preserved and protected to let the ecosystem thrive.

“It was really just environmental protection work that benefitted both us and nature,” Mabey said.

All the projects he worked on were different. Mabey worked on thinning projects (cutting down trees for fire prevention), treating invasive species, using herbicide to control what plants grow where, and building trail systems.

His most memorable project was in Cottonwood Canyon. Located on the Arizona National Scenic Trail, Mabey and his peers built a rock staircase in three different project cycles.

Pictured above is an image of Pluto, the Mabeys’ oldest cat at only a year old. A family friend found Pluto under a porch when he was six weeks old. Emily and Joel immediately decidedto take him under their wing. Photo provided by Joel Mabey.

“The idea behind it was to allow people to explore and experience nature with provided access,” Mabey explained. “We wanted to build it so it stands up overtime, withstanding the entire monsoon season in Arizona, needing to withstand floods.”

Building with just rocks, they used a type of pulley system to move thousands of pounds of rock, shaping as necessary, and planning a design to work towards with manual labor and teamwork.

“Being outside so much — experiencing the wilderness, and even camping out for days at a time with no cell service  it was such an interesting experience,” Mabey summarized.

During this time, Mabey was able to think about what he wanted to commit his life to.

“Being outdoors and in that environment allowed me to have a deep reflection that I needed to find what path I’d want to pursue,” he added.

In the conservation program, Mabey met Emily, a tree arborist (meaning that she specialized in the care and maintenance of trees) from Kansas City, MO. They both shared the same love for nature, especially hiking, and soon started dating.

Mabey moved back to Ohio in 2019, with Emily by his side, and he decided to go into teaching for the long term.

“For me, it was always something that had been in the back of my mind as something I wanted to do,” Mabey explained. “The driving force behind why I wanted to be a teacher was just how important and how much value I feel education has as a means to the progression of society as a whole. I hope to have a positive impact on the grander scheme of things.”

In Solon, Mabey started working as a long-term substitute teacher at Louis Elementary School, with his roles ranging from being the media specialist to an instructional aid from 2020 to 2021.

Mabey also tutored through an online math tutoring program, Mathnasium, during this time. He even additionally took on the extra role of helping his mother’s preschoolers get outside.

“I’m a big supporter of outdoor education. We should be getting our kids outside,” Mabey added.

Above is a photo of Mabey’s other cat, Sophie, in a cuddly state. Emily and Joel found her at foster care and took her in, living in their apartment alongside Pluto. Photo provided by Joel Mabey.

He then enrolled in a one-year Master of Arts and Teaching (MAT) program in 2021 at Kent State University. Already having a bachelor’s in math, Mabey just needed the education coursework it took to teach.

Mabey completed his student teaching at Revere High School, teaching geometry, until he graduated with a teaching license in Spring 2022.

While attending Kent State, Mabey was introduced to Bio-Med and eventually interviewed with the Chief of Administrative officer, Stephanie Lammlein, for the ninth-grade programming position. In the end, he decided against taking them up on instructing this subject. For his first year of teaching, he wanted to instruct a math course.

“For me, teaching math is mostly about helping students gain problem solving skills as well as the analytical science of thinking,” Mabey stated.

Not long after, a ninth-grade math teacher opening was advertised, and he was immediately  asked to participate in a quick interview. When the job was offered to him, he accepted.

Mabey’s current challenge is to adjust to the “Bio-Med way” of teaching things.

“Pretty much every math course I’ve ever had has been taught in the same style: a traditional style. I’ve only ever learned it that way. When you’ve only been modeled in one particular way, it can be challenging to branch out and teach it using different methods,” Mabey said.

As a teacher, he’s also created personal expectations for himself.

Mabey said, “My greatest aspiration as a teacher is to help my students have positive outcomes in their future, applying learning skills to reason through problems to succeed in the path of their choosing.”

Aside from teaching, Mabey hasn’t let his love for nature, or other things, die out.

The tree arborist that Mabey met in Arizona became a constant in his life. Joel married Emily earlier this year in June. The Mabeys have two kitten cats, Pluto and Sophie. The newlyweds continue to enjoy hiking and kayaking frequently together, traveling to see the wonders of the world.

“Our favorite national parks we’ve gotten to visit were the ones in Utah, so like Zion, Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, and that whole group,” Mabey said.

Mabey hopes to be able to visit all of the national parks eventually with Emily, aiming to start a family and improve as a teacher with experience.

Spotlight

Celebrating 77th Annual Pledge Day: Students Divided on Relevance

By Aiden Hills, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — Pledge of Allegiance Day (Pledge Day) is a national holiday that takes place Dec. 28; it commemorates the date when Congress first accepted The Pledge of Allegiance into the United States Flag Code in 1945.

Despite not saying The Pledge, Bio-Med classrooms have American flags hung in most classrooms, like this one in the classroom of Integrated Math 10 instructor, Melissa Cairns. Cairns has previously taught in schools that said The Pledge in the morning. “It should be a matter of choice anyway, so even if we did do it [at Bio-Med], it would not be something I forced my students to do,” she said. “That flag was already there when I came here. I probably wouldn’t [have] put it up, but I don’t feel so strongly that I would take it down.” Photo by Aiden Hills, staff writer.

Jeremy Bellamy is credited with writing The Pledge of Allegiance Sept. 8, 1892. It was first published anonymously by a magazine called “The Youth’s Companion”that catered to young people. It was originally written with the hope that citizens of any country would say it.  

The Pledge has changed multiple times from its original form, which read, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The first change came in 1923, when “my flag” was replaced with “the flag of The United States Of America.”

The most recent change occurred in 1954 when Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill that added “under God.” He decided to add this due to the threat of communism.

With this change, The pledge now reads, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The Pledge of Allegiance is said in the mornings in most American schools, but it is not required. This was established by the 1943 case West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, where the U.S. Supreme Court determined that students have the First Amendment right to not recite it.

Bio-Med Science Academy has not established a tradition of reciting The Pledge of Allegiance. Although Bio-Med hasn’t made a practice of saying the pledge daily, it still has American flags in most classrooms.

Charmayne Polen, the 10-12th grade chief operating officer and principal, explained why, saying, “It’s just kind of a tradition for most schools. We decided to have them, because it gives autonomy to teachers and students who’d want to do the pledge.”

 “I don’t care,” said 11th-grade student Bristol White. “There’s nothing I gain from pledging my allegiance to the flag.”

Lauren Coates, an 11th-grader, agreed, saying, “I‘m glad that we don’t do it. Nothing’s different without it. It’s a waste of time.”

Aidan Grishaber, another junior, expanded on this.

“I think it’s a waste of time, because the country should know that we care about it.” He continued, “It‘s forcing kids to [pledge] under God, which is against religious beliefs. We have the First Amendment right to believe in what we want and the pledge is requiring kids to say that the country is under God, [and] that’s not everybody’s belief.”

Zach Phillips, a 10-grade student disagreed, saying, “I think it’s a really great thing. It makes us united as a country, and it makes me feel a part of the country.”

He continued his thoughts on performing the pledge in schools: “I think it’s an important thing since there is a decently large demographic of kids here that would enjoy doing it. It should be implemented in every school including this one.”

It is tradition for individuals to put their right hand over their heart during the pledge as a sign of respect. It is also a common practice for men to take off their hats during the pledge, even if they didn’t serve in the military. 

The same Supreme Court ruling of West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, that ruled that students do not have to recite the pledge states that students don’t have to stand for it either. It states that

“Students who objected to the flag salute and mandatory Pledge recitation for religious reasons could not be forced to participate.” 

Arts & Culture General Interest

Education has Always Rung in Bell’s Mind

By Adam Grabowski, staff writer


NOVEMBER 2022
 — Alexis Bell is the Senior Apex instructor at Bio-Med Science Academy and has held this position since the 2021-2022 school year. Education has always been prevalent around Bell and is the reason that she’s where she is today.

Senior Apex is a class where seniors complete internships, independent studies, or research projects, and make goals related to their career pathway.

Pictured above is Bell’s school profile photo. Photo provided by Alexis Bell.

“Both of my parents were in education. My dad was a science teacher and then became a principal. My mom was a special education teacher, and so I grew up around [teaching] for a really long time,” Bell said. “I also had a really good teacher in high school as well. She taught me advanced history, and she did such a good job that I thought, ‘Hey, maybe I can do this one day.’”

Bell has been surrounded by people in the teaching career field, and that has helped mold her into the instructor she is today. Looking back, Bell thanks her parents and her high school history teacher for helping her get into education and teaching. Their backgrounds provided a lot of information and wisdom to her.

Bell grew up in Tallmadge, Ohio, and attended Kent State University (KSU) in 2013, because she believed it was a good school for a career in education. She earned an undergraduate degree in education with a specialization in integrated social studies in 2017.

Bell explained, “When you’re picking a college…, you have to make sure that it feels right. And when I went [to KSU], I immediately knew that this was the school for me.”

After graduating from college, Bell worked a number of different jobs, including as a tutor for Archbishop Hoban High School. The following year, Bell worked at Kenmore Garfield High School.

“The year of 2018-2019 was the year where half of [the year] was long-term substituting, and the other half was where I was helping seniors with graduation requirements,” Bell stated.

Bell then took another position as a long-term substitute teacher, where she taught sixth grade for a whole year as a substitute teacher. Bell sarcastically added that this was “very fun” when the pandemic started.

Bell’s final job before coming to Bio-Med was another tutoring job, this time at Kent State.

“Not that I didn’t like the tutoring job at Kent State, but I wasn’t that fulfilled. The people at Kent State didn’t need as much help, and they were mostly self-sufficient, so I was mostly there just making sure the computers worked, which is fine, but I actually want to go out and help out,” she commented.

Then, Bell found Bio-Med’s job description, and she was immediately intrigued.

“The program I was using for tutoring at Kent was also called Apex. I thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s a similar program,’ or that, ‘I’ll do something similar.’ Then I looked more into it, and I think, ‘Oh wait, this looks way more fun. This looks [like] I would be able to do a lot more. This looks great,’” she said.

She continued, “Then I applied and kept my fingers crossed, and I got lucky. [Stephanie Lammlein, Chief Administrative Officer and superintendent] called me, and here I am.”

Pictured above is a potato cake that was baked by Bell. This photo was provided by Alexis Bell

Bell described the most fun part of her job as visiting all of the internship sites that the seniors go to and getting to meet many different people. She loves being in person with the kids and viewing them do real work and seeing seniors get ready to become adults.

One of the things that Bell enjoys the most about Bio-Med is the staff who work here. She says she knows that the staff at Bio-Med are kind-hearted and passionate people.

One thing that Bell stated that she explicitly enjoys about Bio-Med is that “We have a slide.”

Outside of school, Bell greatly enjoys baking as her number one hobby.

She elaborated, “I’ve made weird stuff…. You can see weird recipes online and wonder if it’s any good. I made a tomato soup cake once, and it was actually pretty good… It didn’t taste tomato-ey though. It tasted closer to chocolate, which was really confusing.”

Bell started baking because of the pandemic keeping her home, and she enjoys making things for other people.

Another hobby that Bell enjoys is historical costuming, which she hopes to do more of when she moves into a home with more room. She plays role-playing video games.

Bell also has some siblings. She has two half sisters, one step sister, and one step brother.

Bell spent most of her early adulthood focused on getting a job and a place to live. She is proud of herself for finding both things. She’s happy with how far she’s come and where she is now, but Bell will always try to better herself.

Bell see’s herself 10 years from now continuing to help students, and she’s looking forward to getting her master’s degree, though she isn’t sure what she wants to study. She is also anticipating possibly owning a house.

Bell is also looking forward to the fun she’ll have in her career and getting to know more about her colleagues. She enjoys helping students find their way in life and is grateful for all of the people that have helped her throughout her life to get where she is now. 

Spotlight

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

by Meadow Sandy, staff writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salmen explained how he came to be the adviser.

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

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

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

Bio-Med Spotlight

Shaheen has a Heart for Science

By Ben Lang, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — Nejla Shaheen is the eighth-grade Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (AFNR) instructor at Bio-Med Science Academy. AFNR is a CTE course, so it’s not a traditional science class. It introduces students to the agricultural field and what it’s like. This is Shaheen’s second year of working at Bio-Med.

Shaheen graduated from McKinley Senior High School in Canton in 2015. While in high school, she took college classes through a program at Stark State University called Early College. This allowed her to graduate with her associate degree in arts and sciences right out of high school.

“[Bio-Med] feels like a family, and it feels like an awesome community.”

Neijla Shaheen, the eigth-grade Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources instructor at Bio-Med.

After graduating from high school, Shaheen went to Kent State University (KSU) to earn a bachelor’s degree in Public Health in 2017.

While working on her bachelor’s degree, Shaheen worked at a local health department. She initially set traps for mosquitoes around the Canton area and later took mosquito counts to make sure the population stayed consistent. She would also send samples to the Ohio Department of Health, so they could ensure that the mosquitoes weren’t carrying any harmful diseases.

She later switched to a different position, where she worked in sanitation as a health inspector.

Shaheen’s journey to Bio-Med started during COVID-19. Her job at the health department had taken a turn, and it was not what she wanted to do anymore.

Shaheen also has a Shiba Inu named Mish Mush. Mish Mush means “apricot” in Arabic. Photo provided by Shaheen.

Shaheen said, “COVID sucked for working in the health department. It was not fun. I kind of went from doing my day-to-day job of being a health inspector and going and working with people to kind of being the bad guy.”

She made an appointment with her adviser at KSU, and they discussed what Shaheen might like to do. She gave the advisor ideas of her interests. It just so happened that Shaheen’s advisor had a position on Bio-Med’s board, and she was asked to join Bio-Med because of that. 

Shaheen finally started teaching at Bio-Med about halfway through the 2021-2022 school year. 

Her favorite thing about Bio-Med was that, “It feels like a family, and it feels like an awesome community.”

Shaheen has done a variety of projects at Bio-Med, but her favorite was an assignment where students were given a plant. They then had to research the plant. After that, they had to outline the different parts of the plant and what it did on multiple layers of shower curtain. When they were stacked, it made a full view of the entire plant. 

“I was a little nervous at the beginning, but the way that the final product looked was pretty sweet,” said Shaheen.

In the future, she would like to bring more guest speakers in from the outside and get more people involved in the class.

“I think it’d be really cool to kind of now move more into the community and see if I can get people to come in. Cause I feel like that’s the best way to learn — see people that are actually doing,” Shaheen said. 

Outside of school, she enjoys reading, making crafts with her Cricut, and spending time with her friends and family. 

Some of the people that Shaheen is closest to are her little sister, Eliana, her little brother, Noah, and her grandma. 

She wants to continue teaching in the future, and she doesn’t think that will change. 

“Right now teaching is making me super happy and is super fun, and I hope I don’t lose that happiness or that fun,” she said.

Spotlight