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School life after shootings

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“Back in my day…”

Everyone has heard this from an adult in their lifetime. However, it is now teens who are saying this about school and the “inner workings” of it.

There used to be a time when a fire alarm going off simply meant a fire drill was occuring. There was no thought of “What if this is a ploy to get students out in the hallway to be targets?” After Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s (MSD) massive shooting on Feb. 14, 2018, people have been more weary of the way they interpret certain aspects of their school life. The MSD shooter pulled the fire alarm to get as many students out in the hallway as possible. There, he was able to “open-fire”. He was able to gain access to campus when he knew the gates would be unmonitored.

As shown at MSD, something as simple as an open gate could lead to fatalities. Teachers and students here at Park Vista have come to know the “easiest routes” into the school from parking lots. They simply saw open gates as convenience. However nowadays, everything must be kept closed and locked, monitored by a staff member or camera and more. The student parking lot is close to a back gate near the portables. Many students are annoyed that they must walk to the front of the school, since in the past a teacher or staff member could just open it for them or it would just remain unlocked. Schools cannot take anymore chances. It is sad to think, but things like minor inconveniences are only the beginning of monumental change.

In August 2018, Park Vista’s fire alarm went off with there being no prior knowledge of a scheduled drill. It seemed like time froze in the classrooms. Many people’s immediate thought was that this was an attempt at a MSD repeat. Even teachers were unsure of what to do. In the past, students would jump at any opportunity to get out of class and talk to their friends at a fire drill. Not anymore.

“Armed teachers”. This is another thing students never thought could become a possible reality. There have proposals brought up by President Donald Trump and other U.S. government officials in support of this idea. The fact that teachers even need to be considered for weaponry and self-defense training is insane. Most teenagers could not fathom the idea of walking into their Kindergarten classroom knowing the teacher has a loaded gun in case of an attack.

A football game is meant to be a fun and cheerful event where one can express all their school spirit. However, on Aug. 18, 2018 at Palm Beach Central High School, a shooting occurred. Although not a “random” act of violence (Two individuals were targeted), it was still a dangerous shooting. As a result, Park Vista and other area schools have changed their regulations on games. These new rules include clear bags, no admittance after second quarter and after the game begins no one is allowed to exit.

The sad reality is that school safety and lifestyle has drastically changed in just a few years time. Things will continue to get worse if solutions are not instated in school systems. Children should be able to go to school without a second thought on their safety.

Filed under Opinion

College, fading necessity?

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Although a higher education can help students obtain a well-paying career, many young people are doubting its importance in modern life. The high cost of student debt is an investment that does not always pay off for the individual. A study done by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York revealed 73 percent of college graduates in the United States get jobs unrelated to their major and 38 percent get jobs that do not require a college degree.

Many of the most successful inventors and entrepreneurs have either dropped out of college or did not attend. Steve Jobs, who passed away in 2011, dropped out of college and successfully co-founded the tech company Apple, which helped him accumulate more than $11 billion during his lifetime. TV cooking show host Rachael Ray did not got to college or receive formal culinary training. However, she has become recognized around the world for her various recipes and projects.

College is necessary for many professions, but today’s changing social climate has brought about career opportunities that were unavailable to earlier generations. Entertainment entrepreneurs have take to social media to put themselves out there for online audiences. These social media stars can make a great deal of money through sponsorships and appearances. Now, more than ever before, the American dream is changing and it is possible that college is not in the future for many young adults.

Filed under Opinion

American extremism

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The United States is divided politically, and the left and right sides are fighting it out.  People are having civil debates innocently in coffee shops, in the car, on campus and many end in yelling. With the close of the 2016 election, political tensions have flared and there are people so deeply entrenched in their beliefs, that they would be willing to cause harm to someone just for holding opposing views.

The source of political violence in this country is not from the average person. This violence stems from people so deep-set in their beliefs they are physically willing to fight for them. These extremists are part of groups with dangerous views. Communists, Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and Anti-fascists are the biggest players in the war of the extremes. It may seem overwhelming or downright scary that this country is experiencing this type of political volatility, but then one takes a look at the numbers. Only an estimated four percent (New York Post) of America’s population identifies with the white supremacist or “far right” group, and only about six percent (The Blaze) of the population identifies with the “far left” ends of the political spectrum. If only ten percent of the nation identifies with extremist groups, then why do these groups seem so much larger than they are? The simple answer is the amount of attention the media gives them. They also seem bigger because of their ability to use small, yet violent, crowds to disrupt large and peaceful ones.  An example would be a peaceful protest planned for Aug 28, 2017, at UC Berkeley, a college in California. It was a “No to Marxism in America” rally. Nearby, another peaceful rally was scheduled called, “Rally against Hate”. Both groups advocated peacefully until more than 100 Anti-fascist members showed up and confronted anti-communists. A large fight ensued resulting in multiple arrests and injuries.

“The fact that a few hundred people were able to instigate a fight against a larger and peaceful group is disturbing,” said junior Alexander Pena.

The “far right” has had their share of violence as well. The usual plans are organized attacks on pre-selected targets, such as Irish Republican bombings or Ku Klux Klan lynching, but in Charlottesville , V.A., that all changed. A rally held by the “far right” was in very close proximity to the University of Virginia and its multiple campuses. Colleges and universities are the operating points for the “far left”, which creates a recipe for disaster. The two sides could not anticipate or prepare properly for each other’s violence and tactics. This created monstrous fights and the attack caused a young woman to lose her life.  The riots in Charlottesville were a wake-up call to everyone. The two sides are boiling over, and it is only a matter of time before they get to the point of being a major threat to the United States.

To be frank, the “far left” and “far right” are like the two delinquent kids in a class full of well-behaved children. The parallels are uncanny. They fight and cause disturbances in an orderly environment, get extremely heated over the smallest things and throw tantrums when they do not get their way. We should treat them like the children they are and discipline them, within constitutional rights, and start degrading their ideologies and give them less attention.

“If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man,” said former president of the United States Ronald Reagan (deceased).

The irony of the matter is that the new generations are taking more of a liking to anti-American ideas, blaming their problems on the generations that guaranteed those rights in blood, fighting against true opponents of freedom and America. Taking a look into America’s history, it has always had internal struggles against itself and national ideas. New generations should not fear the future because true American values are still the core of America, no matter the interpretation of them.

The political extremists all have a common goal: the fall of democracy to be replaced with their twisted ideology. These people make up a small portion of the population, but the media inflates their numbers by means of giving them more attention than they deserve.  The problem is here and will always exist with free thought, their futures and prominence are determined by us, the media and our willingness to allow their power.

 

Filed under Opinion

Curse of this century

A bar of soap in the offender’s mouth, used to be a consequence for using swear words.

Photo courtesy of Daily Mail

A bar of soap in the offender’s mouth, used to be a consequence for using swear words.

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  Shoot. Darn. Crap. What do all these words have in common? They are all cover-up words or “mild” words for more offensive terms. They used to be used frequently, but today’s teens and tweens are using more vulgar language than ever before. Most adults are shocked when formerly forbidden terms come out of young adults’ mouths.

     Why are kids letting the curse words fly?  One answer seems to lie in the movies and TV shows young adults watch and the music they listen to. Researchers at Brigham Young University took 223 middle-school students and asked them about their exposure to profane language in TV shows and videogames. The study concluded the more often children were exposed to swear words on these media platforms, the more likely they were to use the words themselves, and the more likely it was that they would act aggressively toward others.

    There is also the lack of discipline or repercussions for foul language. Back-in-the day, children would get soap put in their mouth for using “foul language”. Now, the use of swear words in our youth is so prevalent, that often children are not even taught or told the words are wrong. Parents may laugh at one word and punish for another. Inconsistency.

    Immaturity is yet another factor. When young adults say curse words, many feel like they are “cool” or “popular”, or they are looking for validation they are growing older or maturing.

    “So many middle-school students curse because of the influence of social media and T.V. I used to hear them curse when I was in middle school because they thought it was cool,” said sophomore, Alyssa Dragovich.

    Years ago, a dropped curse word on campus would land a student in the principal’s office. Today, rarely a referral is written. Does that mean we’ve become a society of trash-talking thugs, or are there just more important things to worry about?

Filed under Opinion

Spring break tourists to south Florida cause chaos

The+masses+of+visitors+to+Miami+Beach+left+loads+of+trash+scattered+on+the+shore%2C+only+for+it+to+be+possibly+consumed+by+the+birds+circling+the+garbage.
The masses of visitors to Miami Beach left loads of trash scattered on the shore, only for it to be possibly consumed by the birds circling the garbage.

The masses of visitors to Miami Beach left loads of trash scattered on the shore, only for it to be possibly consumed by the birds circling the garbage.

Photo courtesy of change.org

Photo courtesy of change.org

The masses of visitors to Miami Beach left loads of trash scattered on the shore, only for it to be possibly consumed by the birds circling the garbage.

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As a Floridian who lives on the coast, I tend to call the ocean my home. I have spent many days, afternoons and nights lying on the warm sand, or swimming in the Atlantic. It is not surprising that south Florida is a prime destination for tourists, in particular, college students, to travel to for spring break. What is shocking, however, is the disregard these tourists have for the environment in which they decide to party. Every year, pictures go viral on Facebook of the mess that is left on the shores of Panama City Beach and South Beach, but nothing ever changes.

According to Project Know, 40 percent of college students travel abroad for their spring break plans, and approximately $1 billion is spent on these vacations, most of which, are spent on “alcohol and drugs.” In the Instagram photos studied by Project Know, Orlando, Miami and Panama City Beach are all among the top 10 spring break destinations, but they are also among the top 10 with the highest amount of alcohol and drug usage. This research speaks volumes about the devastation and chaos that occurs every year in Florida, and each year, it appears to get worse.

“The impact tourists have on the environment is a lot like the impact locals can have on the environment, both groups can leave plastic in the ocean or wrappers in the sand, but tourists can harm the environment to a much larger degree” said Dupont.

In order to counter the chaos that ensues on Miami Beach during the break, the mayor of Miami placed a ban on alcohol consumption on the beach and  prohibited the use of loudspeakers, coolers, glass containers and tents on the beach. Nonetheless, the estimated 5,000 visitors to Miami in the first weekend of March disregarded these new rules, resulting in the arrest of about 35 people in one weekend. The city also launched the “Keep Miami Beach Clean” campaign, complete with its very own hashtag (#KEEPMBCLEAN) in order to spread awareness of maintaining a clean beach environment. But, in one instance, the city was forced to shut down Ocean Drive for five blocks, in order for police to clear the party-goers’ litter, which all included the previously mentioned banned items.

Other areas of Florida experienced similar troubles, despite those cities, such as Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, also placing bans on alcohol consumption and other unruly behaviors. After more than a staggering 1,000 arrests were made by both cities last year during the spring break period, the police department is instituting a zero-tolerance policy this season. Daytona Beach has arrested 56 people since March 4, but is is offering an alternative to its spring break law-breakers: participate in cleaning the beach, or be arrested for consuming alcohol on the beach.

“Small commitments made by these seaside communities, which include other precautions such as placing recycling bins on the beach every 50 feet, not only help the local economy, but sustain the environment as well,” said senior and co-president of Green Space Matthew Whitman.

The amount of disrespect for the law in all of these cases is unsettling. It takes very little effort and time to pick up a piece of trash on the shore, and place it into a garbage bin. There is no excuse for leaving waste in the sand. Many of these tourists do not realize that their trash can end up in the ocean, or end up digested by a marine animal. Plenty of other places exist where alcohol can be consumed legally; the beach is not one of those places. It is disheartening that Florida cities must take such strong efforts to reduce the disaster caused by spring breakers.

“Because the tourists are not at home, they tend to have a much more blase attitude towards picking up after themselves,” said senior and co-president of Green Space Stephan Dupont.

Even here closer to home, tons of tourists made the trip down to local hot spots such as Peanut Island, Deerfield Beach and Delray Beach. Fortunately enough, Palm Beach County experiences less of the effects from wild college partiers, but residents remain very aware of the damage beach littering can have on the marine environment.

To learn more visit http://www.projectknow.com/ or http://www.projectknow.com/discover/springbreak-intoxicated/.

Filed under Opinion

Dying with dignity – Physician-assisted suicide in the U.S.

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Beginning as early as 1906, the controversial social topic of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) in the United States has sparked debate, talk and government intervention. It was not until the 1990s, however, that this practice became even more talked about on the news, media and in federal and state governments.

One of the most famous PAS cases of the 90s involved a notorious pathologist and assisted suicide activist, Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Kevorkian, also identified as Dr. Death, was well-known for assisting in the deaths of nearly 130 terminally-ill patients. As Americans gathered around their televisions on Sunday, Nov. 22, 1998, viewers were not prepared for what they were about to witness. Kevorkian not only assisted in the suicide of a requesting Lou Gehrig’s disease patient, Thomas Youk, he also videotaped the procedure which led to his death and then sent the videotape to “60 Minutes”. The videotape led to questions regarding ethics in the medical world and responsibilities of the media. With much questioning and debate, Kevorkian was charged with second-degree murder and spent eight years in prison (even though he was sentenced for 10 to 25 years).

A controversial practice

Since Kevorkian’s assistance in the death of terminally-ill patients in the 90s, many patients with terminal illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and brain cancer, have pursued taking their lives through this practice. Out of 50 states, only five have legalized PAS. Through state law, California, Oregon, Vermont and Washington legally allow terminally-ill patients, who are predicted to live up to six months, the right to choose PAS as an option to end their lives. Through a court decision, Montana also provides this option to terminally ill patients who are projected to live six months or less. Though each state has its own rules and procedures, PAS is a suitable option for those who do not want to endure pain, suffering and costly medical expenses that untreatable diseases and illnesses could cause.

“What the patient wants is my first priority if I were a physician. If they feel that it’s the best choice for them, then [PAS] is ethical to me. Although the patients have the right to choose how they want to end their lives, I do not think I’d have it in me, personally, to lethally inject them,” said Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) president and
senior Jordyn James.

Because PAS is a controversial practice that questions medical ethics, social and moral principles and even religious beliefs, many terminally-ill patients are hesitant in pursuing this practice as a way out of their pain and suffering. However, PAS has been sought after by hundreds of terminally-ill patients in the U.S. One of the most recent cases of PAS involved a woman named Betsy Davis, 41.

On June 9, 2016, the End of Life Option Act took effect in California. Davis, an artist and San Diego resident, passed away on July 24, 2016, becoming one of the first Californians to take her life through PAS. Unlike other PAS cases, Davis’ case was unique. Invitations to attend a two-day party were sent out by Davis in early July. As Davis wrote out all of the invitations to her close friends and family, one of the things Davis detailed to her guests was, “These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness and openness.” Davis also stated in the invitations that the only rule at the party was no one could cry in front of her. At the party, Davis’ family and friends celebrated her life, ate her favorite pizza, enjoyed cocktails, watched one of her favorite movies and listened to and played music. When the festivities waned to an end, all of Davis’ friends and family hugged, kissed and said their final ‘goodbyes’ to Davis as she was heading into her final moments of life. To put an end to all of Davis’ pain and suffering from ALS, Davis’ physician administered a lethal injection.

Like any controversial topic, there are always going to be “haters” and people who hold strong opposing views. In Davis’ case, both positive and negative comments were shared on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.Reading these comments was unbearable. Not many individuals have the courage, strength and positivity Davis had. Instead of putting her down and shaming her and her family for condoning her choice to die, society should praise her for her bravery and positive outlook
on life.

“If I were a terminally-ill patient, I would consider physician-assisted suicide as an option so I would not have to suffer and be in pain. However, I would also want to spend as much time with my family and loved ones. I do not think physician-assisted suicide is an option I would personally choose,” explained senior Jordan Block.

A less expensive alternative

When it comes to paying for hospital stays, treatment, such as radiology and chemotherapy, surgeries, etc., medical bills can become very expensive. To some, paying for these costly medical expenditures is almost financially impossible. PAS is a beneficial option to those who are terminally-ill and cannot afford to pay expensive medical needs.

“I believe PAS is an appropriate option for those who cannot afford to pay costly medical expenses,” said junior Jacob Alderman.

Why do only five out of 50 states allow PAS? Why does the government have a say in how one chooses to live their life and how they choose to end it? Those who are suffering from untreatable illnesses, have less than six months left to live, or do not have the money to pay for their medical bills and expenses should not have to endure more pain and suffering. Terminally-ill patients like Betsy Davis should be able to say their final ‘goodbyes’ and celebrate their lives rather than miserably count down the days until they die. No one should have to live their final moments in pain and sorrow. Instead, one should be able to die with dignity.

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  • School life after shootings

    Opinion

    College, fading necessity?

  • School life after shootings

    Opinion

    American extremism

  • School life after shootings

    Opinion

    Curse of this century

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    Opinion

    Spring break tourists to south Florida cause chaos

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    Opinion

    Dying with dignity – Physician-assisted suicide in the U.S.

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