Don’t exclude Homeschooled Children

Did you know that Connecticut is one of the 21 states that doesn’t allow homeschooled children to participate in sports and other activities in public schools? There are approximately 1.7 million homeschoolers in the United States ( A House Divided; Homeschool Students on School Sports Teams ), and only 25 states in the U.S. allow homechooled children to play public school sports. At this current time, more than 19 states allow home-schooled children to participate in public school activities ( some with requirements ), while 21 other states only allow children with full enrollment to participate in their activities. The state of Connecticut doesn’t allow any homeschooled children to join and participate in their activities, and this is because Connecticut follows the rules of  the CIAC. The CIAC (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference ) says that, “Home schooled students are not eligible to participate on CIAC schools’ interscholastic teams”. Only students that are fully enrolled into the school that is under the rules of the CIAC are allowed to play and do the activities at that school.

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By excluding homeschooled children from participating in public school sports, its discriminating against parent’s  right to educate their children how they see fit. Everyone should have a right to tryout for and if they make, participate in any organization or  athletic team that their  tax paying dollars support. ( Pro/Con; Should Homeschoolers be Allowed To Participate in Public School Sports? ) There are many positive  benefits for children who play on a school-based sports team, this includes weight control, self esteem, social skills, leadership skills and better academic achievements among children who play on sports teams.  Even though children have the opportunity to attend  public schools in the area they live in, some children choose not to  attend them, and this can be because their parents are in  the military and they move around alot, religion reasons, and bullying issues.  I was very disappointed when I found out that in Connecticut the CIAC wouldn’t allow my friend and travel basketball teammate to tryout for the Dodd team.  So, I wrote to my local representatives asking them to create a new  law that would ban the CIAC from discriminating against home schooled children. All in all, if you pay taxes for the school system and you chose to educated you child at home  your children should still be able to participate in your schools team sports and activities.  It would  benefit the homeschooled children and it would make the school team stronger because you never know the next Michael Jordan or Rebecca Lobo might be homeschooled in your town.  

~Sophia

The Ships of Space

One of the things that I love to think about is technology advanced space ships. When I do end up thinking about this I like to think about how they are built. What they would do. How the would be used and, where they would go. Whenever I get lost in my thoughts, I can see my inside one of these spacecraft exploring the universe as if i’m riding my bike around the neighborhood.

Whenever I picture one of these magnificent boats of space being made I think of the final scene from Star Trek “Beyond” when the U.S.S. Enterprise is being rebuilt. I would picture some sort of advance engine type firing up and preparing to warp with a low humming sound and the humming gets louder until they fire and the ship begins to move at immense speed to some far away solar system, even a galaxy where mankind has never seen before. Speaking of exploration, I imagine ships all over the universe thriving at the fact that there could be a new home (not saying earth isn’t good for humanity) and searching for minerals and more elements on the periodic table trying to advance our technology even more. Wouldn’t you want to see the vastness us outer space without full astronaut training?

~Kyle

Dress Code, Harmful or Helpful?

You may have run into the moment where you had to change what you were wearing to meet the requirements of the school dress code. What is dress code you may ask? Dress codes are requirements given by the school, on what you can and cannot wear. Dress codes have been around for centuries restricting your clothing choices, but the first school dress code law was established in 1969 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Some people find dress codes bothersome and unnecessary, while others say it helps keep students from being distracted while promoting discipline. This brings up the question: does dress code really help shape students to their advantage?

Some people think that dress codes are unfair and assist to the shaming towards females. Dress code rules state that they help “prevent distractions towards young boys.” But the reasoning here is that girls should not have to change what they wear for the boys, boys should learn and respect what the girls wear. And to think that boys cannot learn if they can see a girls shoulder is said to be absurd. Dress code as well as telling girls to change, can be hard to follow. In an article by Mckenzie Foust, she dressed according to school dress codes around the country. She said, “I was appalled to see what schools were calling dress code violations for and some of their punishments. This article showed me just how easy I had it.” Although, the other side of the argument is that it encourages students to learn more and worry less about their fashion choices. Dress codes have been proven to decrease the pressure on wardrobe choices for students. In addition, dress codes decrease the amount spent on clothing because they do not have to buy clothes based on expensive trends. This decreases the amount of bullying and the pressure to look popular. In my opinion I think that we should start teaching everyone, from a young age, not to be distracted or judgmental of other’s clothing. Dress codes are important to teach students what is appropriate to wear, however extreme dress codes with punishments are not needed. Nevertheless, what do you think about dress codes? Are these rules necessary or beneficial to students education and growth?

~Sophia

How Easy Is It To Steal Your Fingerprints?

Let’s admit it, we’ve all taken pictures while making a peace sign or a thumbs up and sent it to a friend or decided to post it on Instagram, harmless, right? Well, you may have given all of your followers or your friend the password to your device without even knowing! Now many of our devices allow you to use your fingerprint as a way to unlock your phone, but your camera could allow others access your devices. Pictures taken from smartphones are so detailed that they can pick up your fingerprints! Although you may think that they can only notice the fingerprints when you take a selfie, you may want to think again. Your fingerprints can be retrieved from pictures that have been taken up to ten feet away.  

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If you think that none of your followers could have the technology to steal your fingerprints, you may be frightened to hear it’s easier than you would think, I know I was. Professor Isao Echizen from Japan’s National Institute of Informatics explains that, “your fingerprint data can be recreated if fingerprints are in focus with strong lighting,”. By compiling photos, or even just using one, thieves can recreate your fingerprints and hack into your devices, all they need is good lighting and a focus on your fingers. However, for me, the scariest part of stealing your fingerprints is that they, unlike passwords cannot be changed, we’re stuck with them forever! The thought that a harmless picture could give someone the password to all of my devices, forever, makes me think twice every time I go to make a peace sign or thumbs up in a picture. However, I think I’m just not going to do a peace sign or thumbs up in any picture I take, it’s not worth the risk. And just think about how easy it’ll be to steal your fingerprints in the future!

~Isabella

Will the Pittsburgh Penguins say “hello” to Stanley again this Year?

Yes, they did win the cup last year.  But can they repeat those stellar playoff wins?  Putting up a total of 241 goals during the regular season, they had a great start.  Also when new coach Mike Sullivan over Christmas break stepped in, he had a large, positive, impact on the team.  His prior experience coaching Pittsburgh’s minor league team, the Wilkes-Barre Penguins, gave him the knowledge needed to bring up young players without taking too much money out of their salary cap.  Also the Penguins captain Sidney Crosby started to contribute after Christmas break, racking up an explosive 85 points on the season.


Personally, in my opinion, I believe that the Burgh can do it again this year.  With the new phenom Conor Sheary, winning star of the week, scoring 6 goals and 9 points in the past seven days, it is very much in their realm.  Furthermore, being in the top three of the metropolitan division for most of the season, it looks like we should make the playoffs with ease. Also, Sidney Crosby is having yet another great year, leading the NHL in goals right now with a very solid and consistent 28.  Plus, in a recent stadium series game against the Flyers, the Penguins had a demanding 4-2 win giving them nice confidence boost to play well in the last leg of the season.  The penguins as whole have only three losses at home this season right now, being a threat to the whole national hockey league.  As you can see, the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise have shown many promising results that could lead to yet another Stanley Cup win this year.

~Mark

The Hardest Puzzle In The World

So I know what ya’ll were probably thinking when you first heard the title, “What’s so important if there’s a hard game that tests knowledge?” Except this post is about something totally different and more serious. I’m talking about Autism, a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts. Also about special needs, a  particular educational requirements resulting from learning difficulties, physical disability, or emotional and behavioral difficulties. Yes, you’ve probably heard before, “Every kid is special in their own way,” but what does it actually mean when people refer to special needs children. “This means any kid who might need extra help because of a medical, emotional, or learning problem. These kids have special needs because they might need medicine, therapy, or extra help in school — stuff other kids don’t typically need or only need once in awhile.” You may be thinking, “So what? I know what that is, but what more should I know?” Yes, you may know what is is, but no one I’ve ever met has ever had a full understanding of it unless they have a connection with someone who has it. However, whenever I touch this sensitive subject it’s as if people want to avoid it or just leave it out of the picture, but the truth is you can’t.

Again I know some of you reading this know not to tease or think less of the special needs, which means you were taught right. On the other hand, some are less fortunate to not have. So, when they see someone talking differently or having a helping teacher they point and laugh, but once they find out what they have they immediately stop. That’s the problem no matter if they have specials needs or not they’re human. They’re just like us and all they’ve ever wanted is to be treated the same way as everyone else. I know it may seem like I’m ranting on and on about a subject you may not care about, but I do. Why do I seem to care a lot about this matter? Is it because I want a good grade, or is it because my parents forced me to? The reason I care so much about this matter because all my life I’ve lived around special needs.

So what’s the point of this ongoing blog post? Well it’s me telling all of you to become friends with a special need. Please don’t let them wander the halls, eat alone at a lunch table, or to find that all the people they thought were their friends made nasty jokes about them behind their back. All I want is for you to open your heart to someone who needs it truly. Now is that too much to ask? I’m not asking you to dis all your friends, but to simply to make them feel accepted or hang with them with your original friends. If you think it’s too much of a risk because you might be judged by your friends,  then I guess you gotta ask yourself this question, are you hanging around the right kind of people? Another question you might want to ask yourself if you would get embarrassed being seen with a special needs kid is, what kind of person does that make you?

~Tammy

Is it worth the headache?

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Over the years, the number of concussions in the NFL has increased massively.  Between 2014 and 2015, the concussion percent rose over 30%.  The most common reason for concussions in the NFL is head on head contact, which is why they banned “head slaps” for good.  The NFL continues to think of new rules and policies that could possibly decrease the amount of concussions.  For example, they’ve advanced the “roughing the passer” penalty to make it more strict and inclusive, as well as the “unnecessary roughness” penalty.  So the question is, what are more effective ways the NFL could further prevent concussions?

 
In my opinion, the only reason NFL players still occasionally “bump heads” intentionally is because the consequence is bearable and not intimidating. The highest penalty for “unsportsmanlike conduct” is 15 yards in the current game.  I think the consequence should be more lasting and punishing.  I believe if a player is clearly headbutting on purpose and continuously, there should be talk of a possible suspension.  The only thing 15 yards accomplishes is maybe a yell from the coach, but a short 1, maybe 2 game suspension will surely prevent players from making the same mistake.  Also, most players keep quiet if they notice double vision, blurriness, or other symptoms of a concussion.  They would rather play in the game and not miss any opportunity to compete.  If players told someone right away if they were experiencing any symptoms, it would prevent their concussion from getting even worse.  Even if this strategy won’t technically prevent concussions, it would stop the players from making the injury even worse.  If a player notices any concerning symptoms, they should tell their coach immediately.  Lastly, there are some ways players could prevent concussions by just being more aware on the field and knowing some strategies during play.  All in all, even though the NFL has managed to decrease concussion numbers over the years, I think with these strategies, they could really put NFL concussions in the past.

~Sarah

The World’s Fight for Elephants

Within the past three years, 100,000 elephants were killed, mutilated, and stripped of their ivory tusks. Everyday, poachers are looking for more. In 2011, one out of every twelve elephants was killed. Because of these illegal killings, Africa’s population of elephants has decreased 64% over the past decade. The illegal killings of these creatures has caused a worldwide outreach to stop it. A company called Ivory Ella was created last year by five entrepreneurs with a mission; to save elephants all over the world.

Ivory Ella makes clothes advertising their message to all. They make clothes in an effort to bring all people together and lead them to support their community. Ivory Ella donates 10% of their net profits to Save the Elephants, and organization built on the goal of putting an end to the illegal killing of elephants. On every shirt, the company shows their logo, along with a patterned elephant on the back. This aids in their mission to spread the word about elephants, and help protect them.

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In my opinion, Ivory Ella’s mission is imperative toward saving the population of elephants in our world. Without their support and donations, the amount of African elephants left would be a decision made by poachers. But poachers aren’t the only possible threats. Others include habitat loss,  fragmentation, and overgrazing. Habitat loss is caused by new farms being built. With the assistance of Save the Elephants and Ivory Ella, these threats become less of an issue. They spread awareness and let you know what you can do to aid in the fight for elephants. For more information on how to help save the elephants, visit the link below: Save the Elephants

~ Sarah

Donald Trump claims Voter Fraud from the Presidential Election

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Just last week, January 20, 2017, Donald Trump officially entered the White House for four years. Not even a week being in the White House, Trump has already suspected voter fraud. On Monday, he called for a “major investigation” because he believes that millions of people have voted illegally. Back in November, Trump won the role of president by a majority of electoral votes (33 votes). Many questioned Trump as he won his role of presidency by 16 votes, why he even was running for president. Prior to running, Donald Trump hosted a reality television show, The Apprentice, for 11 years. He also is a successful businessman as he has built many office’s, casinos, golf courses, and much more. So why did he run for president? According to the NY Times, Trump ran in an effort to gain stature. Cleary, Trump has but is slowly losing it as he said that there have been a mistake in votes. So far, he has not cited or proven any key evidence to why this is possible. Over the course of two tweets, Trump wrote, “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and … even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!”

But what if Trump only won president with the help of voter fraud? Why would he be pointing this out? Trump exclaims that he is confident in his win and even if there was a voter sham, he still would’ve come out on top.  “You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states. You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in a New York and a New Jersey. They vote twice. There are millions of votes, in my opinion,” stated Trump. Later he went on saying to various media reporters that he wants voting to be legitimate and real because voting for a president is a serious topic to discuss and vote on. Though he is right about voting being a serious deal, why wouldn’t voting be legitimate? Trump said that he does not want anyone to be registered in two states, or dead people that are registered or illegals voting. This is accurate, but this doesn’t mean that at least 15 million people voted illegally this past year. Still no evidence has been proved but Trump still believes that he is correct. The new president has had a hard time grasping that others don’t have the same view on this topic. ABC’s David Muir told Trump that the author of the report found no incriminating evidence. Donald Trump later called him “groveling”. Just because the proof from the report doesn’t match his opinion doesn’t mean that David Muir is lying.

Trump has decided that he would like to speak with Republican Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and consider the best way to go about this problem. Hopefully there aren’t any further problems similar to this with Trump when he is in the White House. Who knows what’s in store for the United States for the next four or possibly eight years.

~ Mary

Are You Looking For The Dream Vacation?

Imagine in sitting soft sand, looking out at crystal clear water, filled with exotic fish, turtles, and coral. What more can you ask for? You can get all of this within U.S. territory and only a short, 5 hour plane ride away, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S. Virgin Islands are a series of islands just East of Puerto Rico. The islands in this territory are St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix. I have traveled to both St. Thomas and St. John, and I can speak from experience and say that they both were unforgettable trips definitely worth taking.

There are lots of different lodging options when staying in the U.S. Virgin Islands. You could stay in a beautiful resort, with private beaches, pools, and a glamorous suite with a view. You could also stay in a vacation rental, with a short walk to the beach, total safety and privacy, and plenty of space. These different hotels and vacation rentals also come with a range of prices to accommodate you and your financial needs. As you can see, the US Virgin Islands offer several different lodging options, but wherever you decide to stay, there will be always be a beautiful view!

The food in the U.S. Virgin Islands is amazing everywhere you go. They serve quite a lot of fish and seafood. Seafood is often served with “johnny cakes.” They are made with flour, baking powder, shortening, and salt, then fried or baked and are quite popular on the island. Calallo soup is another popular dish, which is made of leaves from a daheen plant mixed with okra, local herbs and often various meats or seafoods. While, the islands have their own exotic kinds of food, they also serve a lot of American food, so don’t worry, it is not hard to find a great burger!

Going to beaches is obviously the most popular thing to do when visiting the islands. There are several different kinds of beaches you can go to depending on your needs. Magen’s Bay, in St. Thomas is a very family friendly beach. They offer a clean, and well managed food and beverage concession stand, clean changing rooms and stalls, lifeguards who are trained and certified in American Red Cross, and of course, stunning, crystal clear water. Salt Pond Bay, on St. John, is beautiful, with unique coral and fish, but is not recommended for families. To get to the beach, you have to take a 15 minute hike, which is downhill on the way down, but is uphill when you are leaving. There also is very little parking, so it is recommended that you get there early, or else you will have to park in the street. And while there is one bathroom, it is not cleaned on a regular basis so can be very disgusting. Beautiful beaches are what these islands are known for, so do some research prior to your trip and find the one best for you!

Besides going to beaches there are plenty of other exciting, or relaxing activities you can do! One exciting, and unforgettable activity you can look into is scuba diving. The Aqua Marine Dive Center, in St. Thomas, is an international scuba school, that also offers yacht charters to the best scuba spots around the islands. Although this would be a breath-taking experience, it is pricey, and not great for kids. Another incredible experience that I was lucky enough to experience was the Virgin Islands Ecotours, located in Charlotte Amalie, in St. Thomas. First, you will kayak through the beautiful mangroves to your snorkel spot, then you will snorkel through crystal clear waters and learn about the unique wildlife you are seeing. On my ecotour I saw an octopus, which I will remember forever! It’s also okay if you have never been on a kayak before, or have never used snorkel equipment before, you will have an amazing tour guide, that will help you every step of the way!

I hope some day you have the chance to experience these incredible islands, because you will be wowed by what an amazing time you will have. If you would like to look further into this vacation spot, visit http://www.visitusvi.com/ for more information.

~Lucy