Wednesday, September 30, 2020
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Student news roundup, Illinois, Sept. 14

9/11 Tribute, 19 years later

The events of September 11, 2001, will forever be remembered by Americans who were alive and probably remember exactly where they were that day. The teaching of history, now to students who were not yet alive 19 years ago, continues at Rolling Meadows High School, reports Sydney Zeglin in The Pacer student newspaper. Geography students go through “an interactive timeline of the events,” she quotes a social studies teacher as saying. “There’s pictures, videos, airplane diagrams, and even audio from phone calls made aboard the plane.” Yet what cannot be lost, amid all the stepping up of US security measures, is the Islamophobia the attacks brought out in Americans, she writes.

Olivia Edakkunnathu at Glenbard West in Glen Ellyn shared a similar thought in her piece entitled “9/11 has impacted people, security, and mindsets,” referring to the “rights and liberties of a specific minority [being] sacrificed for national security”: “Despite these effects on some people in America, the United States Department of Justice has been placing a priority on ‘prosecuting bias crimes and incidents of discrimination against Muslims, Sikhs, and persons of Arab and South-Asian descent, as well as persons perceived to be members of these groups,'” she writes. “It is clear that many people were affected by this event.”

The legacy left by 9/11, in addition to changes to history courses and Islamophobia, is the great cost of the war against terror it sparked. The US has pumped over a trillion dollars and the lives of over 2,400 troops into the war on terror, notes an article in The Wildcat Chronicle at West Chicago Community High School.

The student newspaper at Prospect High School in Mt Prospect ordinarily publishes a weekly column by Brendan Burke entitled “Prospector Political Publish,” but he hit “pause” on the column on what would have been its normal Friday publishing date, instead publishing the column on September 12. “I was pleased when the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, announced that none of his campaign advertisements would be running on this day of patriotism,” he shares. “Like Biden, I believe that every American needs to hit pause on their political differences for a day and show respect to those who died so recently in our history.”

Not only do students take a day of remembrance around 9/11, but teachers do as well. Dana Balmas records the thoughts of several teachers about 9/11 at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville in The Echo student newspaper.

Supporting local business during the pandemic

Small businesses in the small town of Carterville, near Carbondale, have struggled during the pandemic, reports Paige Mausey from Carterville High School in The Sphinx. A sophomore student, who works at the Country Cupboard Restaurant, echoes the concerns of many students who are also employees in local businesses: “The pandemic has impacted the Country Cupboard by slowing our business down. We don’t have as many customers as we used to,” she said. Additional sanitation requirements due to the pandemic have increased expenses for a local bakery: “I’m not even going to go into the costs and personnel time invested in intense sanitation processes, mask policies, cost for safer supplies, etc. Let’s just say it’s a whole lot more than wearing a mask,” the bakery owner was quoted as saying.

Fine arts during the pandemic

Restaurants and bakeries aren’t the only small businesses that have had to adjust to business life during a pandemic. In Minooka, music lessons take on a new meaning. Music teacher Kaleigh Mattson, who used to work out of a local church to give students voice and piano lessons, has moved into her own living room and into a technology binge she never expected. “I only started this business in January,” P Slater quoted her as saying in the Peace Pipe Chatter at Minooka High School. “It had to go from in person to virtual, and at first it was scary, especially with voice. It’s the internet stuff. I find that I have to talk slower and it takes some more energy. I used to be able to just go with it in a lesson but now I really have to plan further ahead. The main thing is the internet and technology.”

Asking whether fine arts education in the schools will suffer due to the pandemic, Emily Delgado at Lane Tech in Chicago says, ultimately, it will. “In-person learning is a lot more helpful when learning skills,” she quotes one student as saying in The Warrior student newspaper. “It’s really important to have the teacher physically there to help the students.” At this point, Lane Tech drama students aren’t sure if they’ll have a fall play, and music performances are also uncertain. “I think we’ll miss the performance opportunities, as well, but hopefully students will feel like they are growing as musicians,” one music theory and sound engineering teacher was quoted as saying.

In a virtual world, though, there’s always Netflix. Reviewing the Netflix release Rising Phoenix for the students of Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Zainab Talha writes that the documentary about the Paralympic Games provides “a unique view on the lives of Paralympic athletes” and gives “viewers a perspective on their achievements and struggles.” In her story in The Independent, she notes that “people with disabilities have faced greater restrictions through social barriers than they have in any other way.”

Sports during the pandemic

Just as students have found new ways to teach piano and watch movies, they have also found new ways to play sports. The field hockey team at Edwardsville High School has taken to scrimmaging against themselves, since they can’t play interscholastically, writes Holly Williams in The Tiger Times. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade—that’s exactly what we’ve done,” she quoted a senior co-captain as saying. “The governor told us we can’t play over state lines or out of our region, so we decided to play each other to become better.”

Obituary: Evanston special ed teacher

Ertha Giroux-Boney, an Evanston Township High School special education teacher and strong advocate for students, died on August 7, The Evanstonian student newspaper reported. Ms Giroux-Boney worked as a paraprofessional in the Special Education Department and had been at the school since 2000. Two video tributes and a collection of positive wishes fill the article, including this one from special education teacher Liz Schroeder:

When I think of Ms. Boney, the first thing that comes to mind was her big, beautiful smile. And it wasn’t just that it was such a warming smile, but you knew the love that was behind it and the genuine care. It would always brighten my day when I saw her in the hallway. You knew just by looking at her that she cared so much for everyone that she came in contact with. We’ll miss you, Ms. Boney.

The virtual reality

The pandemic has so altered our lives that it is difficult to talk about anything without giving some consideration to Covid-19’s effect. But cultural life for teenagers has changed even during the pandemic, writes Eric Rangel in The Clarion at Riverside-Brookfield High School. From March’s panic to August’s uncertainty about school to the protests that erupted in the middle of it all, “the long journey in quarantine continues,” he writes, and “the attitude of the general public has been drastically altered.”

Uncertainty about school in general turned more specific at the University of Chicago Lab School, where a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion virtual assembly was interrupted by irrelevance. Although the precise nature of comments posted by a few students during a Zoom meeting was not disclosed, reactions to the unruly remarks were telling. “Next time you’re in a Zoom meeting, be respectful and appreciate the time it took to put it together, and acknowledge the fact that other people there want to listen and learn, not read your unnecessary comments,” Adrianna Nehme quoted one student as saying in the U-High Midway.

With reports of Zoom bombing coming in left and right, the assorted network and software glitches, and even a coordinated distributed denial of service attack on the nation’s fourth-largest school district, it’s only natural to ask if virtual learning is working. Luc Alvarez wondered just that as he posed the question, “District 99 spent months planning remote learning; is this really the best we can do?” in The Blueprint at Downers Grove South High School. “Anytime a teacher asks how students like remote learning,” he notes, “they’re met with deadpan stares and slightly positive shrugs—a pretty good representation of the Zoom classroom.”

But at Naperville Central High School, also in DuPage County, Braden Hajer provides a litany of reasons why online learning isn’t working in his Central Times column. “There was a critical mindset error in the creation of this system: the Quest for Normalcy,” he writes. “The district and several teachers are laser-focused on recreating in-person school within the homes of thousands of children. … One teacher had the unrivaled audacity to tell me not to eat or drink—in my own home! I don’t want to sound revolutionary, but you physically cannot stop us from doing so, or interacting with our pets, or talking with family members.”

September is Suicide Prevention Month

Finally, The South Stinger student newspaper at Hinsdale South High School in Darien reminds us that September is Suicide Prevention Month. Lizzie Tabachnikov writes: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey states that 36.7% of high school adolescents felt sad or hopeless (for at least 2 weeks). 18.8% of adolescents seriously contemplated suicide, and 15.7% made a plan.” She advises students to:

  • Talk openly about mental health
  • Educate themselves and others
  • Be conscious of language

She then tells them they won’t be able to help others if they don’t first take care of themselves. “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” she writes.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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