Patriotism levels are on the decline among today’s youth

By Michael Bradshaw & Hannah Wing

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Photographer - Claire Ward
Photographer – Claire Ward

We all know these words. We all know their importance to our country. Why doesn’t 65 percent of the student body stand up for the pledge every day then? Is this a result of declining patriotism among teens?

Although the majority of students don’t stand up for the pledge there are still a select few that openly display patriotism. Dexter High School junior Randy Gesell is one of these remaining students who feel a strong sense of pride for their country.

“Patriotism is important and pledging allegiance to the flag is something everyone should do,” Gesell said. “I think people are just lazy and they don’t see it as important as it really is. They don’t want to be judged by standing up and that’s a big reason.”

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Rape Culture

It is a disease affecting the nation. Everyday, thousands of rape cases go unnoticed and hundreds of rapists go unprosecuted. With an American citizen sexually assaulted every 107 seconds, Rape Culture has stepped into the light as a serious problem.
By Claire Ward & Gigi Saadeldin
“No one is asking to be violated. There should be a ‘yes’ before anything happens.”

In Transforming a Rape Culture by Emilie Buchwald, Rape Culture is defined as “a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In Rape Culture, [people] perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A Rape Culture condones physical and emotional terrorism [as the norm].”

Sexual assault can be classified as any sexual activity performed on a person who has not given consent. Giving consent means saying the word “yes.” Consent can not be given if the victim is unconscious, severely under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or in a forced situation. Sexual assault ranges from an inappropriate touch to unconsented intercourse. Merriam-Webster defines rape as: “[forcing] (someone) to have sex with you by using violence or the threat of violence” with the archaic definition of “to seize and take away by force.” It is sexual intercourse between two or more people when one person does not agree or want it to happen.

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Hovering overhead

Senior Aaron Kelley’s mom is a strict parent and is proud of it. She likes to know where her children are and what they’re doing at all times. In Jill Kelley’s mind her strong parenting style is a way to insure that the character of her children is at the highest standard possible.

“My mom used to be really mad at me when I didn’t text her where I was even if it was at school,” Aaron said. “There also have been times when I have to tell my friends that I can’t hangout because I haven’t been home enough that week.”

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#FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS

Backpack weight

After weighing five random students and their backpacks, four of these five backpacks weighed over 25 pounds and all five students’ backpacks weighed more than 10 percent of their personal body weight. According to the American Chiropractic Association, this situation is dangerous to students’ health.

This situation also concerns Michelle Rabideau, a physician that specializes in family medicine, who suggested to DHS administrators that something needed to change in regards to students having to carry backpacks around school every day.

“I probably see an average of one a week with back pain, neck pain or headaches – but I find more if I ask at routine physicals,” Rabideau said. “Mr. Kit Moran stated that the interval between classes is sufficient for students to use their lockers, because some students figure out how to do it.

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Seeking alternatives

Jeremy Hannich, a youth minister at Dexter United Methodist Church, sat at the pew, praying for a safe trip as his assortment of church-goers were prepared to save some lives.

Hannich, who is an adult adviser of the trip, and a handful of high school students from Dexter UMC are headed to Belize for a mission trip. From April 4 to April 12, these students have decided to donate their spring break vacation to conduct a medical mission in one of Central America’s most long-suffering countries.

“I don’t really know what to expect. It’s my first mission trip, so it’ll be different to interact with some of the kids, our age, down there,” senior Olivia Stagg said.

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Hashtags and cilantro lime rice

Obsession. It runs rampant through the world of teenagers and trends. They become hooked, quickly, easily. From expanding social networks to popular restaurants, the obsessions continue to grow.

Chipotle
Senior Jen Bondie said she has been “obsessed” with Chipotle ever since the sixth grade.

“Starting in sixth grade my dad would take me to the Chipotle in Arborland and ever since I’ve loved it,” Bondie said. “There was a time in my life that I would go to Chipotle at least once a week.”

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Filling with vapor

The vapor spiraled upward, dissipating into the air around him. He lifted the electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, back up to his mouth, took another puff, then carefully tucked it back into his left front pants pocket. The bell rang and he walked back out of the bathroom. Back to high school. Back to class.

This senior, who agreed to be interviewed only if we didn’t use his name, said he has been using e-cigarettes for over five months.

“In my experience, e-cigarettes are a very relaxing practice,” he said. “They give me inner peace. Whenever I’m stressed out, they’re a great way for me to just chill.”

And this senior isn’t alone. E-cigarettes are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to cigarettes and other tobacco products.

“I probably take around 100 puffs every day,” a junior, who also consented to be interviewed only if we kept him anonymous, said.  “I’m addicted to nicotine. I’m not worried about being addicted. I know it’s not really harming me, and it makes me feel good.”

But the FDA has expressed interest in regulating e-cigarettes because of these health risks. The bureaucracy doesn’t share the junior’s opinion about the neutral health effects of e-cigarettes.

Their website warns that e-cigarettes “have not been fully studied so consumers currently don’t know how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use.”

The reason the product hasn’t been examined with as much depth as similar products, like cigarettes, is because it’s relatively new, especially to the world of teenagers and school districts.

According to About.com, e-cigarettes were introduced into the modern world by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik in 2004. In the 10 years the product has been commercially available, its popularity has significantly increased.

E-cigarette use more than doubled in high school and middle school students between 2011 and 2012, according to the CDC. The percentage of these students using them went from 4.7% in 2011 to 10% in 2012.

And the halls of DHS have just started to feel the effects of the newly popular products.

ìE-cigs hit the radar screen less than a month ago for us,î Principal Kit Moran said. ìThe e-cig thing is so far ahead of the law and the lawmakers that itís tough to pin it down. I think weíll get to the point that there will be a state law about it.î

But currently, thereís nothing in the parent-student handbook that specifically prohibits e-cigarette use.

ìRight now, we donít necessarily have a policy on it,î Moran said. ìWe are considering them to be like cigarettes right now, and weíre treating them as such. Different schools are doing different things. From my point of view, there are harmful chemicals in them.î

Whether or not the school is trying to prevent e-cigarette usage in the schools, students continue to use them. They do it on the sly, trying to avoid the watchful eyes of teachers, administrators and the occasional classmate.

Both the junior and senior interviewed said they frequently use their e-cigarettes in the school bathrooms, where the odorless vapor quickly disperses after each exhale, covering their tracks.

Steve, however, has ventured to take the practice one step further. He and several friends bring e-cigarettes to class and use them during the hour.

ìIíll use it in class if I get the chance to,î he said. ìBut Iím careful and I havenít been caught yet.î

Moran said there have only been a couple of incidents involving administrators catching students using e-cigarettes so far, and that it has been years since students have tried to smoke traditional cigarettes on school grounds.

He also said heís not sure, at this point, what direction e-cigarettes will take, because theyíre such a new problem. Right now, he is mainly concerned about the health risks.

ìThere is an addictive quality to those kinds of things,î he said. ìThereís no one time bad overuse, and nobody binge smokes, but we know thereís an addictive quality to it. So you start smoking, then you become addicted to the chemicals in it, and that creates a bad habit thatís detrimental to your health and your pocketbook.î

CVS recently announced that it was cutting out sales of all tobacco products at its stores, because they felt that a store promoting health shouldnít also sell products that can be extremely detrimental to health. However, they still donít sell e-cigarettes because theyíre waiting on guidance from the FDA, who is looking into regulating the products.

The potentially harmful effects of e-cigarettes are why they are only available to people who are at least 18 years old. But police deputy Jeremy Hilobuk said that this doesnít always stop minors from acquiring the illegal products.

ìItís not that often that we see fake IDs,î he said. ìI think maybe they get it through other means, whether it be a friend they know whoís older or stores that arenít checking IDs. Some of the stores get busy, and they forget to keep track of those kinds of things. Itís probably 50-50 for the entire county.î

And this is how the junior gets his hands on the products that he legally should not be able to buy.

ìIím friends with the guys who work at the store I buy stuff at,î the junior said. ìThey know me, and they let me buy it, even though Iím not 18.î

So Hilobuk and the Washtenaw County Sheriff Department are trying to prevent this kind of thing from happening by performing stings. They work with minors and have them try to buy tobacco or nicotine products from various businesses around the county. If the business is noncompliant, meaning it sells these things to the minors, then the police intervene and give the business a ticket. Hilobuk said the business then has to pay a fine thatís generally around $100.

ìDexter is pretty good,î he said. ìWe get good compliance around here. Itís when we head East to Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and places over there that the compliance gets a little lower.î

If the business is noncompliant, then the Sheriff Department performs the same sting some time later to try to get compliance the next time.

ìItís really training them to remember to check IDs and keep things legal,î Hilobuk said.

Of course, there are exceptions. The senior we interviewed, for example, turned 18 since he started using e-cigs and tobacco products, but he also has a fake ID that he used when he was 17.

Neither person says he is nervous about the effect of e-cigarettes on his health. Both, similar to millions of high school students across the country, will continue to use the products and worry about his future later.

ìI like e-cigarettes. They give me a head rush,î the senior said. ìI donít consider myself addicted right now and Iím not really worried about becoming addicted, because theyíre just not that potent. I figure that I could use e-cigs for the rest of my life and not have a problem.î

Minimum wage change would affect students

Senior Abbi Kemperman works a part-time job at Classic Pizza.  In addition to the time she spends at school, equivalent to a full-time job in itself, she said she spends between 16 and 32 hours a week working to make money to pay for her car insurance, gas and other expenses.

“I have time to work, go to school, and do homework, but that’s about it,” Kemperman said.

Like many high school students, Kemperman makes minimum wage, currently $7.40 an hour.

Working three or four days in an average week, senior Peyton Chrisner earns only slightly more.

“I work between 10 and 20 hours a week and make $8 an hour,” she said.

Panera Bread, where Chrisner works, pays employees above minimum wage, but soon this salary may still be too low.

Following President Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 28, where he argued for an increase in the federal minimum wage, the debate regarding proposals to increase minimum wages, nationally and for each state, regained momentum.

Obama announced a plan to create an executive order that would increase the minimum wage for federally funded employees to $10.10.  He also urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage for all employees, which is currently $7.25.  Tip wages, for workers who also receive tips, and wages for minors are allowed to be even lower.

“They’re allowed to not pay you minimum wage if you’re under 18,” Kemperman said.

Democrats in the Michigan legislature have proposed plans to increase Michigan minimum wages, but both federal and state congresses have disagreement as to whether raising minimum wage would help or harm the economy.

Politicians in favor of increasing minimum wage argue that those working for such wages do not make enough to support themselves and their families.  Thus, increasing minimum wage would decrease the number of people living in poverty and, as a result, help the economy.

In his state of the Union Address, Obama said, “Today, the federal minimum wage is worth about 20 percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here.  Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10.  This will help families.  It will give businesses customers with more money to spend.”

However, Natalie Park, owner of Coffee House Creamery on Jackson Road, does not think this sudden change would be a realistic option for small businesses.

“It would not jump to $10.10 right away.  No business would survive it,” Park said.  “You can’t raise any price (including wages) 40 percent.”

Only recently-hired workers at Coffee House Creamery work for minimum wage. Still, Park said an increase in minimum wage would also require her to make other changes in her business beyond wages.

According to Park, increased wages also mean that employers have to pay increased taxes and insurance.  These changes could force her to change her policy of increasing employee salaries based on their length of employment.  Park would also have to raise prices.

While she opposes a dramatic change, Park is not completely against the idea of slightly increasing minimum wage.

“I don’t think it’s terrible,” she said, “but it could be very dangerous.”

Primarily, the movement to increase minimum wage is targeted to aid adults working full time.  The intent is to help families living in poverty, but teenagers could still see changes in their earnings as a result.  Chrisner, however, does not object to her current salary.

“I don’t really mind (the current minimum wage) because I use the money for car insurance but don’t have major bills or adult expenses,” she said.

Despite this, both Kemperman and Chrisner agree that an increase in the minimum wage would be beneficial. Kemperman, for example, said she could use the extra money to buy extra things that she would like.

“Three quarters of my pay checks go to gas, so I’d have more money for other things that aren’t gas,” she said.

For Chrisner, the changes would be different.  She said that she spends all of her earnings, but a higher minimum wage would let her put some of her paycheck away for a rainy day.

“I would actually consider saving some (if I made more),” she said. “I know I should be saving for college.”

An increase in minimum wage would similarly benefit senior Collin Ullmann, who works at McDonald’s.

“It would make college a lot easier,” he said.  “(With current wages) I would have to work 50 hours a week over the summer to make the money I need.”

UFOs? Whoa! (with video)

“Domed,” “oval-shaped,” “quilted surface,” “lights in the center and on each end,” “fantastic speeds,” “sharp turns,” “dive and climb,” “great maneuverability.” These are some of the words used to describe an unidentified object seen by dozens of witnesses including law enforcement on March 20, 1966 in Dexter.

That night, on Frank Mannor’s McGuinnes Road farm in northwest Dexter, in the midst of hundreds of UFO sightings in Michigan at the time, Mannor, his family and dozens of other witnesses said they saw a domed, oval-shaped object with a quilted surface actually land in a nearby swamp. According  to these witnesses, the object had lights in the center and on each end.

According to then-40-year-old Mannor, he and his 18-year-old son Ronald followed the UFO into a swampy area, but as they came closer, it slowly rose up, moved right above their heads and quickly disappeared into the night.

Just after, two officers who had not arrived on scene yet, Stanley McFadden and David Fitzpatrick, saw an object that matched the same description over Mast and North Territorial Roads in Dexter. They said it looked to be about the size of a small house, and they had never seen those types of movements on any air craft as it hovered quickly disappeared into the night moments later.

Dexter resident Louie Ceriani has lived in Dexter since 1928 and recalled the incident as exciting. He said it sparked a lot of intrigue in most citizens whether they believed in UFO’s or not.

“The excitement of all of this caused people for miles around to look skyward looking and hoping to see a UFO,” Ceriani said. “Some said they saw one but never told the press but only to their friends and that was with a smile.”

Jim Koch was a junior at Dexter High School at the time and said he felt the collective excitement that was going around town at the time.

“I remember it was a big deal at the time,” Koch said. “I was in high school at the time, and one of our favorite activities to get out of the house was to go look for UFOs.  We would cruise around the back roads and do what high school kids at the time did.”

In fact, Ceriani said people came from miles around to check out Mannor’s farm because the case got so big.

“Even professors came to Frank’s farm,” he said. “Of course, they knew better: that Frank was just making it up. But Frank stuck to his word saying he did see a UFO. The more intelligent people thought maybe Frank was a little tithed, not well-educated. The press even took pictures of Frank and his house.”

Due to the various, alleged UFO sightings in Michigan at the time, the Dexter case attracted national attention as Project Blue Book, set up by the U.S. Air Force, sent Dr. J. Allen Hynek to investigate the sighting reports.

At first, Hynek agreed that there was something going on in the Michigan skies. But after he consulted with Blue Book headquarters, he changed his mind, and said that the sightings were nothing more than swamp gas.

“Marsh gas usually has no smell but sounds like the small popping explosions similar to a gas burner igniting,” Hynek said in 1966. “The gas forms from decomposition of vegetation. It seems likely that as the present spring thaws came, the gases methane, hydrogen sulfide and phosphine, resulting from decomposition of organic materials, were released.”

With Hynek’s conclusion, the case was closed. Project Blue Book, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was terminated Dec. 17, 1969. Of a total of 12,618 sightings reported to Project Blue Book, 701 remained “unidentified.”

Then-Sherrif Douglas J. Harvey was angry at the time due to Hynek’s conclusion. He had spent time in army bases in the swamps of Lousiana during World War 2 and claimed he had seen plenty of swamp gas before.

“That’s a pretty weak theory,” Harvey said. “I’ve seen plenty of swamp gas and this wasn’t it. We saw what we saw, all right.”

WISD program provides life skills training

It’s 12:45 in the afternoon. Hundreds of students flock out of the lunch room, heading to their fourth hour classes. The cacophony of teenage voices fades away and silence floods the air.

However, a handful of students remain in the lunch room. These are the students enrolled in the Washtenaw Intermediate School District classroom for students with moderate cognitive impairment at DHS, and they are at their next activity: lunch room cleanup.

Four days a week, after C lunch, students from this classroom aid in stacking chairs and cleaning up the lunch room. While some believe that these students are unjustly forced to work, the purpose of this activity, according to teacher, Liz Shields, is to prepare the students for life after high school.

“Part of our curriculum for this class is to learn life skills,” she said. “And working a job is a life skill.”

Just as DHS students are enrolled in two semester classes, these students practice cleaning throughout the entirety of the school year. “Learning job skills is an ongoing thing, because a lot of them will start with needing a lot of help from us as their job coach, but then by the end of the year, they’re more independent with it,” Shields said.

Special education teaching assistant Richard Korth shares a similar view.

“Everyone has to learn their job and figure out how to do it,” he said. “If you don’t do your job for a while, you get out of the routine and you have to relearn your work.”

While parents reserve the right to opt their child out of this activity, said Shields, none have ever done so. “All the parents understand that having a job and learning how to do a job is part of our curriculum and part of what the kids are going to need after they leave DHS.”

However, the life skills in the curriculum practiced in this classroom aren’t limited to stacking chairs and washing tables; the program also emcompasses a myriad variety of other pivotal tasks.

“We also do all kinds of other life skills things like cooking and laundry and hygiene because those things are all part of our curriculum,” Shields said. “Getting down there and doing that works gives them job experience that will help them for the future.”