Summer Jam Suggestions

By: Meghan Malas

As summer inches closer and closer, the mindsets of the student body morphs from a (somewhat) motivated, organized demeanor to one of longing. Students pine for freedom from this 7:40 to 2:40 chasm of responsibility, and with this the infamous question manifests itself among the youth- what are you doing this summer?

If you are like me, you are probably at a loss, and a little overwhelmed when asked to articulate what your priorities and/or plans are for this break. As clueless as I am about my own intentions are for my post-school life, I do have a pretty good idea of what I will be listening to when I do whatever I do. Music defines the summertime. It can make or break how enchanting your bonfire is, or how delightful your drive to the local Walmart could be. With this in mind, and as a self-certified Person With Great Taste In Summer Jams™, I present my list of top boppin’ albums for this break:

Mac Demarco- This Old Dog

Tame Impala- Currents, Lonerism

Childish Gambino- Kauai

Triathlon- Lo-Tide

A Tribe Called Quest- The Low-End Theory

Grouplove- Spreading Rumors

Red Hot Chili Peppers- Californication

Passion Pit- Kindred

Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly

Beach Fossils- Clash the Truth

OPINION: Social Media: Waste of Time or Information Cache?

By: Carter Caldwell

Social media is taking up more and more time on a daily basis, with many reports claiming that teenagers are spending around 8 hours a day on social media sites or apps.  Among the biggest of these are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube.  While some of these sites may hold true educational potential, it is how they are used that ultimately determines whether or not time spent on them was worthwhile.

For instance, there are some who claim that social media provides students with the ability to communicate easier and in turn make educational progress, with a study by the National School Boards Association revealing that 59% of teens admit to having used social media to “discuss educational topics,” and another 50% having used social media in direct relation to assignments.  These numbers are not surprising, as mobile sites especially are making the spread of information much more accessible and verifiable.  Sites like this also make new discoveries and/or studies more available to the public, which makes for a more informed and better prepared society.  

Conversely, social media also opens many new doorways for cheating, with apps like Snapchat (which allows users to share pictures that disappear after a certain amount of time) in particular encouraging these behaviors.  Social media also taps into the brain’s reward circuitry, which could lead to users feeling the need to constantly check social media and as a result lose productivity, which supports a handful of studies that found non-social media users to have higher GPAs and score higher on tests. There is also the question of online safety and privacy.  Sites can be counted on asking for at least some pieces of information that leave you wondering what they could need them for, especially personal things such as addresses and phone numbers.  Coupled with the ominous possibility of companies being hacked, sharing such information should be valid grounds for concern.

Today’s world is changing faster than ever, and it’s often a relief to have something to mindlessly scroll through, especially when one is bored.  In an attempt to curb possible distractions, many schools have simply taken to barring all phone use in class.  In many ways this is an understandable solution: since cell phones are a new phenomenon, there is no time-tested way to deal with them so why deal with them at all?  However, many of these same schools are also finding themselves taking advantage of the Internet in classrooms, resulting in new “paperless” systems.  In some ways, this makes for an almost ridiculous contradiction.  If Internet usage is so distracting for students, why make it a central part of their education?

OPINION: Stage Crew Pulls their Weight

by Jack Long

We have entered the final week of the spring musical. The Theatre Department is finalizing large portions of the musical that all BHS and BMS students will see this week on either Wednesday or Thursday. Though many of you will only see the actors and hear the orchestra, the most important part of any show are the multitude of people working behind the scenes.

They run back and forth across backstage, opening, closing, dropping-in curtains. They control the mics, the lights, and all of the stage entrances. The stage crew seems to be one of the most underappreciated aspects of shows. A crew member has to memorize just as much as the actors: light changes, actor entrances, curtain cues, and prop locations. A crew member has to keep time as if they were a musician, making sure that when the large purple curtain flies open, there isn’t a black-shirted person standing in the center of the stage doing final adjustment of the faux-walls.

So, when the stage crew comes out to take their well-deserved bows at the end of the show, thank them by clapping just as loud as you did for the actors.

Opinion: The Lack of Discourse Surrounding Syria

By: Meghan Malas

When knowledge of Bashar al-Assad’s chemically induced massacre on citizens of his own country of Syria hit the public this past April 4, everyone, including the President of the United States, was stunned by the grotesque imagery of countless innocent lives suffering at the hand of a man who is supposed to be their leader. This event triggered immediate reaction by both government and public entities, and in less than 65 hours after Assad’s attack on Khan Sheikhoun, the United States responded militarily to Assad’s heinous acts, firing 59 missiles into a Syrian airfield. (The New York Times)

When we speak of Syria in the United States, we tend to politicize its existence and in the process, forget about the reality of its past and present situation, as well as its complicated nature. We remove ourselves from the idea that Syria is in chaotic position because of a variety of confusing yet concrete facts because it is easier to discuss the devastations of Syria, and our global role in protecting its people, by means of reactionary oversimplification.

The White House has fallen subject to this self-removal of careful consideration in a significant way. When President Trump spoke publicly Thursday, April 6, he cited the “use of deadly chemical weapons” as his reasoning for the use of missiles in retaliation. On the previous day, he stated that the images of “innocent children, innocent babies” choked by poisonous gas caused him to “reevaluate” his approach to Syria also noting repeatedly that “that crosses many lines…many many lines.”

When analyzing this justification, it is important to consider the definition of this supposed “line” President Trump is talking about, as well as his approach to Syria prior to April 4. First, the emphasis on the fact that the horrid acts by Assad have “crossed a line” specifically because they involved the use of chemical weapons is not objectively rational. In the global scope, we view chemical warfare as particularly terrible: it is an illegal act of war. This is most likely because the deep trauma the images of victims of chemical warfare produce is universal. But, it’s important to note that other types of abuse and suffering are determined “fine” in the eyes of the public not because they are less vile, but because often the images of those victims are too grotesque to show on a large media platform.

Consider the fact that Assad has been killing hundreds of thousands of his own people for years (CNN), just not by means of chemical weapons. Just 80 of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives were taken on April 4–a horrific, tragic event no doubt–but to constitute Assad actions that day as an isolated event of injustice is wrong. If the realization of the abuse of innocents in Syria was the main justification by the president for responding in the way he did, then that does little more than clarify the fact that he has the ability to empathize. In fact, it alludes to a confirmation of complete lack of understanding of what the Syrian conflict is and how it has affected so many. This is not surprising when acknowledging President Trump’s rhetoric towards Syrian refugees on the campaign trail (“Refugees from Syria are now pouring into our great country. Who knows who they are – some could be ISIS. Is our president insane?” Twitter, 2015), his executive order suspending any Syrian refugees from entering the United States, or his critiques of President Obama’s policies toward Syria (“We should stay the hell out of Syria.” Twitter, 2013).

It is unlikely that humanitarianism was the prime motivator for the decision to attack Syria, unless there is a severe discontinuity of logic in this administration’s decision making process. So, we are left with a logical fallacy as the reason for intervention, and a complete lack of discourse between our representatives about this subject all together. It seems as if we are waiting to see how Syria reacts before considering the consequences of our own actions.

The media coverage of this event acts as a catalyst for oversimplification and irrational argument. No conversation about the implications of intervention in the long-term or short-term were discussed extensively by our leaders in the House or the Senate (the president did not consider seeking congressional approval), and limited context about Syria and the Syrian conflict has been adequately produced by mainstream journalists or political commentators. This is bothersome. Have we become so disoriented by the “patriotic” nature and partisan games of war that we cannot simply discuss how our actions may affect the future? Action in Syria is tedious, but some want to behave like our strike against Assad is not one with consequence, but one of heroism and victory. What will happen when thousands more Syrians are displaced from their homes due to growing tension between their leader, ISIS, and now the world community? Will we save them from further persecution? Or will we continue our policy of hypocritical abandonment?

I do not know the extent of action needed to be taken in Syria. I am by no means an expert in foreign relations, international affairs, or the Syrian conflict. But I do think that discussion, planning, consideration, and meaningful discourse on societal and legislative levels is essential to not only policy, but to democracy. We cannot reduce Syria to a few minutes of a vague, descriptive tragedy, followed by a heroic American intervention, and a snippet of a buzzword babbling administration. We cannot continue to live in a reactionary age of minimalistic comment lacking informational capability. In essence, war is easier to begin than to end and to survive in a world plagued by evil and violence we cannot resort to single statement justifications for dangerous intervention.

A Rational Highschooler’s Approach to February 14th

By Sarah Rovinsky

Too many people know Valentine’s Day to be a commercial maneuver to sell chocolate and jewelry in which we are forced to participate in, otherwise, we become the Grinch of February 14. Should we be lucky enough to have a special someone to share this day with, and choose to ignore it, you’re just a thoughtless meanie.

The issue then becomes what and how much of an effort you should make, which of course is stressful. If you make too big of an effort, you’re basic and cheesy. On the other hand, if you are outdone by your partner, you look bad. If you don’t even have a date on V-Day, you feel like a loser! It should be understood that being single on February 14 is no different from being single on the 13th or 15th. Still, it’s hard to remain collected when cheap boxes of chocolates and gooey professions of love are constantly taunting you. Thus, this dreaded day becomes one of over-hyped disappointment and unnecessary stress rather than love.

Beyond all this, I dislike Valentine’s Day because it reduces something as beautiful, as complex, as love into obligatory, thoughtless gestures. In my opinion, the most romantic gifts are when a person gets you something only they could have known to get for you. A gift ideally demonstrates sincerity and genuine affections, which are never done out of obligation or the ease of Walmart’s holiday section. Buying an expensive necklace or any gift on Valentine’s Day doesn’t compensate for being a lazy boyfriend or girlfriend, just like saying, “I love you,” isn’t the same as acting in a loving, respectful way.

If you’re alone this Valentine’s Day, be thankful you’re not involved in the silly stress of it and snag all the chocolate deals on the 15th. If you’re with someone, be creative and thoughtful. A good start would be to turn off your devices and be fully present. Don’t just hear what they have to say: listen. In an ideal relationship, every day is one of love. Rather than using Valentine’s Day to make up for shortcomings, let’s use it to remind ourselves of all the subtle ways we can show that we love and respect the other.

OPINION: Support Your Local Art Programs

by Jack Long

I’m sitting off to the right of Mr. David Deitrick, the Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra Conductor. The seventy-piece orchestra sits in a cramped fluorescent-lit room.

The brass begin to blow, at first cold and metallic, then sweetening into warm, deep sounds.

The string section violently saws away at chromatic passages.

Woodwinds sit quietly wetting their reeds, except for the flutes— who talk jokingly with their heads tilted to the right and the tip of their head-joints pressed in the left corner of their lips.

The percussionists beat out rhythms with drum-sticks on backs of chairs, the snare, or the cymbals suspended in air.

This incoherent music, this warm-harsh noise fills every musician with envy— and raises our stress levels just slightly.

The orchestral cacophony settles and rests with one glance. From Conductor to Concert Master, the command of “Tuning” is quickly received. The Concert Master shoots a look to the oboist, who, in gentle inclination plays a lonely “A.” Slowly, the Bass voices begin to hum the note, then the Tenors, the Altos next, and finally the Sopranos. My pulse quickens as the consonant stress of the entire orchestral body excited. This wave of sound grows slowly but is short lived.

The Conductor takes a step onto the podium. He adjusts his stand as he whispers out the title of the first piece. The flutter of turning pages and the sound of plucked strings follows.

This exercise takes no more than two minutes, but every musician knows the anticipation of this moment. Whether in rehearsal or in concert, a musician’s entire body quivers with nerves. It is one of the most indescribable feelings, and a feeling only performers are privy to.

Supporting local orchestras, bands, dancers, and artists is one of the most worthwhile things a person can do. Seeing people in your community participate in the things they love builds a deeper understanding and bond in the community. Whether that community is your neighborhood, or Bellbrook, or Dayton, it doesn’t matter.

One of the biggest problems in community programs is funding and patron-ship. We often don’t visit local museums, let alone a world-famous art museum that we have in Dayton. We don’t visit local orchestras or bands. We don’t make time to build our pride in our community. So, I challenge you. Go visit the Dayton Philharmonic or the Dayton Art Institute, or both. It is more difficult to take less pride in your community when there are a plethora of art programs.

I realized this in a cramped rehearsal room at Centerville High School. I also realized the necessity to support our local programs so that the future generations can enjoy them too.

California’s Famous Drive Through Sequoia Tree Falls in Storm

by Meghan Malas

On January 8, one of California’s oldest icons fell to a winter storm that swept through Calaveras Big Tree State Park. The “Pioneer Cabin Tree,” which famously possessed a hollowed portion in its base large enough to drive through, was discovered dead by a state park employee. The 303 foot giant has been a relic of American tourism since the early twentieth century, and some are speculating how humans could have contributed to its ultimate demise. The hole was drilled in the late 1880s, and at the time, possessed a fire scar in its base that made it easier for the pioneers to drill through. Though hollowing the trunk of a tree can prove fatal to some trees, this famous tree remained alive until it fell.

According to the Calaveras Big Tree Association, the tree though alive and astounding, was barely clinging to life before the storm. “The storm was just too much for it,” a park volunteer told reporters from LiveScience. The New York Times reported that the drilling may have affected the tree’s ability to repair its bark from the common wild fires that happen in the Sierra Mountains, causing it to become weaker and weaker. Joan Allday, a sequoia expert and volunteer, stated that the roots of the tree only extended a couple of feet into the ground, a short depth for a tree that is over 300 feet tall and has a base with a diameter of 33 feet. This also made the tree susceptible to falling.

These factors, on top of the recent flooding and extreme weather in the Sierra National Forest, have caused many to lose a source of majesty and amazement of their lives. As someone who saw the Pioneer Cabin Tree is 2010 when I was ten years old, I am greatly saddened by this loss. The tree, similar to other sequoias, seems to be larger than life, a product of nature that is unnaturally immense. No photo can truly match the experience of standing directly under any tree of that size, let alone one with a hole through most of its base. Many have shared their personal experiences with the sequoia on social media to honor their memory of the beautiful, intriguing titan of nature. If anything is to be learned from this tragedy, it is a reminder that it is our best interest as humanity to protect and care for our natural world as much as possible, so we can continue to enjoy and appreciate the wonders of nature.