JAG Holding Halloween Costume Contest October 29

The JAG leadership team is sponsoring the costume contest on Oct 29. Students will go to room 111, the JAG room and sign up in the costume contest.

The JAG Leadership team is doing a costume contest as a fundraiser for the JAG closet and a fun way to incorporate dressing up for Halloween and put a twist on dressing up at school.

“I love seeing the creative costumes students and staff come up with!” JAG Specialist Katie Cook.

To participate in the contest, any student or staff member from grades 7th through 12th will go to the JAG room In the morning on October 29 with their costumes on for the day, and pay $1 to enter the contest. The JAG team will choose winners for the funniest, scariest, best duo/couples costume, and the best costume overall and announce the winners on Monday, November 1. Doing this Contest will switch up how we normally do the Halloween dress up day while raising money. 

Story by Paige Flick

Girls Get Early Start to Basketball Season with Open Gym

Every Wednesday, from 5:30-6:30 p.m, the girls basketball team has been holding open gyms in the high school lower gym. Varsity Head Coach Donovan Crews helps the girls with plays and answers questions about the upcoming season while the girls split up and scrimmage for an hour.

All junior high and high school girls had the opportunity to attend, allowing the coaches to get a good idea of what the season will look like, and giving some opportunities for some extra help.

“Our open gyms have been going really well. Our attendance has been great, but I didn’t expect anything different out of this group. I think a lot of the kids are excited that the season is just around the corner. We’ve put in a lot of work this offseason and had a really good summer.  Hopefully all of that will carry right into this season and make it an exciting year,” said Crews.

Open gyms end today and the first official practice begins on Oct. 18. If you are interested in playing this year, email crewsd@paoli.k12.in.us for more information about the program.

Story by Carley Higgins

Survey Says: We Need Help

Hannon is Stressed — And You Are Too

Recently, I sent out a survey to staff and students asking two questions: on a scale of one to five, how overwhelmed are you on a day-to-day basis, and what do you do to cope with that stress. The results were concerning. Of the 169 who replied, 82.7 percent of those surveyed placed themselves at a three or higher for how overwhelmed they feel.

For the second question, “What do you do to cope with stress?” there were two common answers that really stood out. One was that many people turn to music to help them deal with their stressors and emotions.

Music Helps

This is not a new strategy unique to our school. According to research done by the American Psychological Association, listening to music increases the body’s production of antibodies and reduces stress hormone levels. Students may not understand the science behind it, but they know that music has a powerful effect on how they feel. As a music student, I have firsthand experience with the benefits of music. Playing my instrument is always therapeutic, as it is something I do not have to think about. I can just let my feelings flow through me and come out as something beautiful. When it is not convenient to play an instrument, just popping in my earbuds and listening to my favorite albums and instrumental music helps improve my mood and takes my mind off of things.

On Earbuds

Our current policy prohibits headphones in the classroom and blocks most streaming services on student Chromebooks. Could a change to the headphone policy provide a resource for students who could benefit from the stress-relieving properties of listening to music?

In my opinion, yes. I believe our policy should be updated to make music more accessible to students whenever there is time to do so without the possibility of classroom disruption.

Mindfulness

Other than listening to music, the answer that really stood out was that many students just do not know how to cope with being overwhelmed. They do not have the tools to help them get through tough situations. This is concerning, as students and teachers alike are under rigorous performance standards, and with no way to deal with that stress, it can have negative effects. There is a possible solution to this issue that has already been implemented at Throop.

Kara Schmidt, a community member and founder of SoINBody, began working with elementary students before the pandemic, teaching them mindfulness and yoga skills. She also did a trial run with Carol Fullington’s 2019- 2020 speech classes, coming in twice a week to practice mindfulness and yoga with high school students. I had the opportunity to be in that speech class, and those mindfulness lessons were some of the most helpful things I have learned in my high school career. I think this sort of experience should be available for all students at the high school, seeing as we are more vulnerable to mental strain as a result of our education. The easiest option would be to create a mindfulness club which meets once a week during homeroom or even after school, giving students a chance to take a break and practice something that could be beneficial for them.

Talking about mindfulness can be difficult because there is just not enough common knowledge on the subject for most people to really know much about it and how to practice it. However, if the school implemented new policies and programs which had students’ best interests in mind, and that engaged in mindfulness improvement, we might see our data shift in a more positive direction.

Story by Michael Hannon

Step Away from the Screen

Platforms Become More Toxic When Mixed with Misinformation

Since the very birth of social media, it’s use has been a highly debated and controversial topic. It’s destructive – rotting youth’s brains, destroying their capacity for empathy, ruining people’s ability to distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake. We’ve heard it all. On the other hand nothing can bring people together quite like the latest Tik Tok dance trend.

No one is more aware of the impact of social media than the most active users: teenagers (that’s us!). Because we are so often engaged in social media, we know firsthand the impact it can have on our lives. It’s no secret what’s going on in the head of a teen isn’t always pretty and the majority of us struggle with our mental stability on a daily basis. Many times, the issues can be traced back to social media and its hold on us.

Common byproducts of social media usage are not limited to depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, etc. These occur in response to the content we’re being presented with, whether it’s false narratives on issues related to health care being pushed, the consumption of overwhelmingly hateful material, or a more personal encounter of online drama and cyberbullying.

Quarantine

Especially now, in the midst of a pandemic, we are susceptible to a decline in emotional well-being and either the influx of new mental illness symptoms or the worsening of preexisting ones. Coupled with exposure to the toxicity of online platforms, our online world is a lethal combination with the potential to lead one down a very difficult path.

When quarantined, we spent enormous amounts of time scrolling through feeds and this increase in screen-time on social apps can be extremely detrimental to one’s state of mind – depending on what it is you’re looking at.

Staff’s Answer’s

Since our staff consists solely of teenage students, we thought they’d be the perfect people to ask for opinions on and personal experiences with social media.

We asked which social media platform our staff found to be the most toxic and the answers were all over the place. Several students said Instagram, due to the false image many users convey and the use of editing apps like FaceTune that take it even further. Some replied with TikTok because of the diversity of views on different subjects and the tendencies of people to attack those with perspectives other than their own. Twitter and Facebook were mentioned for the seemingly constant gossip on them. Students also said Snapchat because of the anonymity of the platform and the fact users so often bash other users on it.

On Being Aware

On the contrary to the leisurely use of social media, we rely on social media to receive our news and get the latest updates – now more than ever. In the age of the coronavirus, factual accuracy is of the utmost importance. One would think that would be easy to determine, right? Wrong. So much misinformation is spread which can easily fool people, whether you’re typically naive or not. This can be extremely harmful for people who take highly liked posts as gospel and take advice for things off of platforms without checking up on the source or consulting anyone else.

People take advice everyday for physical health, mental health, etc. that could seriously hurt them. For example, someone might watch a TikTok on how someone lost a lot of weight and follow that person’s routine when it may not be right for them physically or mentally. This can lead to eating disorders and other health issues. People give mental health advice as well, making others think that professional help isn’t necessary and likely making their problems worse.

The Upside

Although there are probably more negative sides of social media than you can count, it has its perks too. Mainly, people are able to stay connected with one another. This was particularly evident in 2020, when families and friends were separated all over the world without much ability to remain active in each other’s lives. So many moments were missed in-person due to the coronavirus, though they were posted on social media platforms for those people to see. It may not have been the same as if they’d been there physically, but it was better than nothing as one of the only forms of interaction available.

Social media has its upsides and downsides, but overall the emphasis should be put on the mindset and attitude of the user.

We are responsible for how we approach social media, how seriously we take it. It is our job to always be mindful of the content we’re consuming, however significant or trivial, whether it’s a news report or a TikTok gag. In order to protect our mental health and prevent ourselves from contributing to the spread of false information, we’ve got to stay aware.

Staff Editorial

Book Worm Takes on Library

This year, English Teacher Book Worm Rachel Miller has taken on another position in the building, part time school librarian. After passing the Indiana CORE Assessment for school library, Miller was certified to fill the spot.

Already, Miller has several goals to accomplish with the library. In addition to teaching freshman English, Miller will spend two periods of her day in the library. Miller has made a few changes to the library so far, most noticeably the appearance in the front window of the library as they walk by.

“You may have noticed the library opening up a bit. The curtains have been removed, and I’m doing some fall cleaning to spruce things up. I’m also creating displays to highlight new books every few weeks. More changes will be coming over the course of the school year, so pay attention and come see what’s going on,” said Miller.

Miller wants to increase overall student and class usage of the library this year. She plans to “re-digitize” the library to create easier access to books for students.

“Getting the titles of our books back online will be a huge improvement. Students will be able to search for books online, scan the books to check them out easily, and it’ll make checking books back in a lot easier as well,” said Miller.

In order to make the library digital, Miller plans to label every book and scan them into the system. With the help of Registrar Sara Parks, she will be able to get the information needed to input all of the students into the system. She is also working on marketing the library by building a website and rebranding it “The Ram Resource Room”.

“The library houses Ms. Manship’s office, the Paoli College and Career Academy student union, study spaces, our book collection, and your friendly neighborhood librarian, as well as working closely with the Essentials Project. The library really is a great place for students to access all kinds of resources,” said Miller.

Miller will be in the library available for questions and requests during first and second period and during homerooms. For more information email millerr@paoli.k12.in.us.

Story by Angie Ceja