The Warm Weather Problem

Winter temperatures reach record highs in Michigan, but residents should fear its implications of severe climate change

By Tessa Kipke

 

First things first: I hate winter. Truly, I do. In the dead of winter in Michigan, when the sun is a mere distant memory, and the cold is so deep, so complete, that it burrows into your fingertips, toes, and ears, threatening to numb them forever, I find solace in daydreaming about the beach, about green grass and leaves on trees and leaving the house without 20 layers on.
When the first hints of spring come after long months of ferocious cold, it’s like the world is finally waking up. It’s exhilarating and makes me remember that there are parts of Michigan weather that aren’t torturous. However, the winter of early 2017 was different. It was slightly anticlimactic, as though the world had tensed up for a hard blow that just never came.
In the fall, I had been dreading winter, as always, but then November rolled around and the weather barely shifted. In fact, the last two days of November 2016 reached nearly 60 degrees, which, for someone native to Michigan, barely warrants a light jacket. December and January got a bit cooler – we even got a few snow days – but the winter never reached the frigid magnitude of my memory. There was even a day in December that was over 50 degrees, which is practically unheard of. Now, in February and March, when winter traditionally begins fade away very, very slowly, spring seems to already have sprung. The high in February of 2017 was 45.2 degrees; the normal high is only 35.
All of this culminates in the fact that creeping shift of global climate change is starting to feel less sluggish. We can feel it, in the air and on our skin, and it feels real. But it’s also easy to be conflicted because, living in Michigan, where we’re accustomed to lengthy, brutal winters, this feels like a reprieve. The thought of warmer winters in coming years is welcome, even celebrated. Being able to go outside during the winter months and not want to immediately die is kind of great.
But the greater implications are far from positive. As the global climate increases, our polar ice caps melt, sea levels rise, and droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, and other natural disasters increase in frequency and intensity. In the past, these consequences seemed like a worrisome-but-distant threat, but now they hit a little too close to home. Ecosystems worldwide are shifting, unsure how to react to an unprecedented wave of heat, and humans are not excluded. We don’t quite know what to do with ourselves in a world transforming like never before.
A couple of weeks ago, a weekend in mid-February hit 68 degrees (the average normal temperature in February is 27 degrees) and scores of people fled outdoors to enjoy the warmth. Instagram pictures and Snapchat stories were filled with views from picnics and park benches, showing people gleefully donning sunglasses and short sleeves. It was wonderful and terrifying.
I love warm weather, but I don’t love the unnatural reality that’s been causing it lately. I don’t think we need to actively feel guilty about liking this early spring, but it’s imperative that we’re aware of the changing world around us. Though gentler weather is unbelievably nice, we must understand the underlying consequences of climate change.

ALFK: Tackling Privilege

Tackling Privilege

By Claire Ward

Privilege

[privuh-lij, priv-lij]

noun: a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most

 

Chances are, you know the word “privilege” first hand. The social theory that certain advantages and special rights are only available to a particular group. Most of us at Dexter High School can point out the many privileges present in our lives every day, the many privileged groups we belong in. We live in a relatively wealthy community, with an almost completely white population, filled with a common and accepted religion. Rich privilege, white privilege, religious privilege. We are blessed to live lives that grant us these privileges. Unfortunately, many people choose to deny or ignore their privileges when the power status they’re given puts them in a place to benefit others. Maybe we all need to figure out how to use our privilege to the advantage of others, not just to help out ourselves. Here’s a little privilege check for you:

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Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on being elected as the leader of the United States of America. You are now the most powerful man in the world, and with that power comes much responsibility. You truly do have the ability to do good things if you choose.

My name is Alex Strang. I am from Dexter, Michigan, a small town seven miles outside of Ann Arbor. I have moderate conservative views, but I try to remain unbiased. I think for myself and believe that it’s best to not let a political party influence my views. I am only an 18-year old senior in high school, and nowhere near an expert on politics.

Your focus on national security will benefit Americans by making this country safer. The safety of every American citizen is important no matter race or gender. I support you to continue to improve the national security of this country, just as President Obama did. I come from a law enforcement and military family, so I agree with your strong support of them. At a time like this, it is important that the public and law enforcement work together to create healthier relationships. I believe people need to realize the police are not bad the guys and they are just doing their job.

Your “America First” ideology has the potential to benefit our country with trade deals and a foreign policy that puts our country first.

But, Mr. President, a true “America First” policy means protecting all Americans, especially at a time like this where millions feel threatened, specifically women. They are equally as important as the men in this country. This is the United States of America, not the Middle East.

You say you want to eliminate ISIS, which I am all for, but by attempting to take away a woman’s reproductive rights, aren’t we beginning to stoop to their level? A level where schools are blown up to scare women from attending them to get an education equal to men. A level where people are killed to keep women from voting.

We are better than that. This country does not follow Sharia Law. In this country, women are recognized as just as faithful and intelligent as males, constitutionally they share equal rights with males, every girl goes to school here. This is not the case in every country. So, why threaten their rights when those rights in question do not have any effect on you or any other male politician?

A true America First policy means standing up for women, supporting their rights, and protecting them, not putting them down or trying to take away their reproductive rights. If you or other people are pro-life, then I respect that. I also respect the woman’s decision to make that choice herself. As a man, I cannot make that choice, nor should any male politician regardless of government position or political affiliation. You, and others with the same belief, can exercise that belief simply by not having an abortion.

Today in America, a woman can serve in most jobs in the military, while in the Middle East, they are put down, beaten, and sexually assaulted with no punishment for the men who commit these acts. These are the same countries where we send American troops. We cannot stoop to this level especially with how far we have come in this nation. A nation where a woman has equal say in elections, government positions, and marriage, as she should.

Women in this country are afraid. That should not be a problem. Ever. No matter what. Every American citizen should be proud to call the United States home, just as I am. They should not have to worry about already established rights being taken away because of an administration’s beliefs.

I know the media takes many things out of context and blows things out of proportion, but this is not something that is being made up by the media. Threatening to defund Planned Parenthood or attempting to take away a woman’s right to have a child is threatening the rights of a woman.

Mr. President, if an “America First” policy means stricter border control, then it also has to mean stricter environmental regulations. Why regulate our borders when the environment all around us is changing for the worse? No matter what political party you associate with, you have to recognize climate change is real.

We cannot afford to hurt this earth anymore. Just like all of our American citizens, we have to protect and stand up for planet earth. Further destroying the earth for monetary gain may seem worth it for big businesses on the short term level, but those CEOs and executives who want fewer EPA restrictions will one day have children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren who have to live in a world where the climate is worsened because of their greed.

When I graduate from college, I want to one day serve my country and lead soldiers in the Army for this nation. I am willing to serve this country with everything I have and protect the freedoms that have been set forth by our founding fathers. What I do not want to see is our country fall apart due to a division of race, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.

I do not want my future wife to be worrying about attempts to revoke a right that was ruled constitutional in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court. I do not want my future wife to feel put down by the words and actions of the President. I don’t want her to feel threatened by a man or a congress whom she has never met, the same way I don’t want her to feel threatened by terrorists or criminals. I don’t want my future daughter to feel as though her rights are threatened. I want my future kids to be able to play outside in air that is fresh and free of pollution. I want my future family to be able to experience the activities of all four seasons from skiing in the winter to swimming in clean water in the summer.

If we are going to have a true “America First” policy, we need to be committed, not just part way, not just the parts that one political party wants, but fully committed. That includes protecting women’s rights and protecting this planet we call home.

You will not see me in the streets protesting, but if so many people feel threatened that they need to take such a strong stance, then something needs to change. Nor will you hear me saying “not my president,” because I understand, Sir, you are the President. You are the Commander’ n Chief of the free world.

You have the power to do many things. This country needs more than ever to come together, which will take effort and compromise from all political parties and people from all walks of life.

All Americans, every single one, need to come together to truly make a country that is currently more divided than ever, “Great Again,” and it begins with you, Mr. President.

Let’s begin the process of uniting this country, and truly putting all Americans first before yourself.

Respectfully,

Alexander Strang

Valentine’s Day In My Shoes

The author explains the annoyance of sharing a last name with a national holiday

Tyler Valentine

Everyone has their day throughout the year: a birthday. I have been blessed with the last name Valentine, which practically makes Valentine’s Day my holiday, and a second birthday.

The day, for me, is filled with way more joy than any average person’s Valentine’s Day purely because of my name. My family celebration of Valentine’s Day is more on par with that of Christmas because I am the one that invented the holiday that has been around for thousands of years. Yeet.

February 14, or Valentine’s Day, is a day for you to show your loved one how much you love them and what they mean to you. For others, without a significant other, their time that would typically be spent on a girl is spent on showcasing how dry your sense of humor is by cracking the same age-old jokes about my last name.

Jokes include asking me to be their Valentine, or if my family had something to do with the creation of Valentine’s Day have become regular. I understand if you’re my friend, or even if we are acquaintances and you can’t help but say something, but if I haven’t talked to you in over a year, please do not put me in an awkward situation by asking me to be my Valentine. I guarantee you haven’t had a more awkward encounter than having a random person ask you to be their Valentine, all I can do is awkwardly look at them and force a laugh. I know what you’re thinking “People are just being sarcastic; they don’t actually think that.”

When the best thing about it is that there are some people that actually think it is possible that I came up with Valentine’s Day. There are numerous people with the last name Christmas, or Easter, and that doesn’t mean they are related to the historical features.

Since second grade, I have heard the same jokes every single year. The attention was much appreciated back when I was eight, but it is beginning to grow old. Sure, it might have been a clever comment back then, but now it just makes the day annoying. I know it may be hard, but it would be much appreciated if you can keep the comments to yourself this year.

Just Another February Day

Who really wins on Valentine’s Day? The multi-million dollar industries more than the couples who express their love

By Jed Howell

Each year in the weeks leading to Valentine’s Day we are bombarded with advertisements of expensive diamonds, fancy chocolates, and flower bouquets that couldn’t possibly fit in a vase. All of these items come with a hefty price tag, but for what? So that on February 14th your significant other remembers that you love them? As if you don’t the other 364 days of the year. Not to mention the profit that companies make off cheesy cards and  heart shaped chocolates that cost nearly nothing to produce.

Personally, my problem with Valentine’s Day is the idea of having a designated day of the year to show affection. If you love someone enough to enter a relationship with them, then you should be affectionate as often as possible. Valentine’s Day is also more stressful than any normal day. Unrealistic or unclear expectations often result in catastrophe. I’m sure we have all agreed with our significant other that we would not exchange gifts when, in reality, they were expecting some sort of gesture. This day creates a feeling of manufactured or artificial love that couldn’t possibly be expressed any other day of the year.

The other problem with Valentine’s Day is the business side of the holiday. It has been estimated by the Greeting Card Association that each year more than 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent. This statistic excludes cards exchanged by children. Businesses thrive on the idea that a paper card with a heart on the front can prove that you care about someone. We have literally put a price on love, $133.91 to be exact. Yes, that is how much each American spends for Valentine’s day on average.

As consumerism tightens its deadly grip on yet another holiday, we may officially place Valentine’s Day in the category of “Hallmark holiday.”  The day of love has been tainted by price markups and big business.

The Santa Lie is a Necessary Evil

Despite knowing the sad truth, Christmas can still be a magical time

By: Ben Daugherty

Almost every person I’ve talked to has believed or still believes in Santa Claus. Parents everywhere perpetuate this lie in order to achieve the “holiday spirit”. The same parents that teach their kids to never lie, are lying to their kids’ faces to get them to look forward to Christmas. Santa seems all fine and dandy until one day: the day you find out Santa isn’t real. The day you find out that you’ve sat on some random dude’s lap at the mall for nine straight years.

I found out Santa wasn’t real when I was eight, and Christmas has been gradually worse ever since. Finding out about the lie that is Santa was devastating.

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A Forced Holiday

Photo courtesy of Dwight Burdette

The government’s acknowledgement of Christmas violates the First Amendment

By Julia Bell

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder (kind of), Starbucks switches from pumpkin spice to peppermint and from white cups to… red cups.

Every year the famous coffee chain releases special holiday cups with symbols of the season. In the past, they have featured everything from snowmen and snowflakes, to ornaments and reindeer.  Last year, Starbucks chose a controversial design: a solid red cup.  The backlash was immediate: Starbucks was accused of hating Christmas and taking away the spirit of the holiday.

What else could a solid red cup possibly mean?

In response to the design, many unhappy customers started using the name “Merry Christmas,” so the baristas would have to write it on their cup and call it out when their drink was ready. Original.

The red cup controversy captured national attention, but the issue extends well beyond the design of disposable cardboard. Christmas is not the only holiday that falls at this time of year. Yet for some reason, our country treats it as though it is. It’s impossible to avoid. When December rolls around in Dexter, the nativity scene is assembled and a Christmas tree stands tall beside the gazebo.  In school, quiet work time in class turns into a Christmas music sing-along.

The holiday has become increasingly secularized in our culture, but by definition it commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. Despite being a country of religious freedom and equality, Christmas is the only religious holiday recognized federally.  It’s the only religious holiday that requires employers to give their employees the opportunity to observe.

Many argue that America was founded on Christianity and view “Christian” and “American” synonymously.  However, the First Amendment of our constitution states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

America is a land of great diversity.  With great diversity comes a greater responsibility to coexist and respect the beliefs and behaviors that differ from our own.  At a time when America is struggling to unite, Christmas seems to emphasize the divide. It’s no surprise that Starbucks is criticized for failing to acknowledge Christmas when the law of our land requires it.

The Santa Lie is a Necessary Evil

Despite knowing the sad truth, Christmas can still be a magical time

By: Ben Daugherty

Almost every person I’ve talked to has believed or still believes in Santa Claus. Parents everywhere perpetuate this lie in order to achieve the “holiday spirit”. The same parents that teach their kids to never lie, are lying to their kids’ faces to get them to look forward to Christmas. Santa seems all fine and dandy until one day: the day you find out Santa isn’t real. The day you find out that you’ve sat on some random dude’s lap at the mall for nine straight years.

I found out Santa wasn’t real when I was eight, and Christmas has been gradually worse ever since. Finding out about the lie that is Santa was devastating.

I vividly remember the day it happened. I was at my grandparents house waiting for the “real Santa” to arrive, as I always did. That particular year, I realized that Santa was either my brother or he was fake.

After sitting on his pillow-stuffed lap, I realized my brother definitely wasn’t Santa. It then hit me; my brother’s below-average Santa costume was as real as it would get, and that magically fat man would not be coming down my chimney that year. I was devastated.

Deliberately lying to your children is wrong on so many levels, but the Christmas lie seems to be a special case where lying is acceptable. Without it, the magic of Christmas would be lost.

You can say that you’re looking forward to giving, but you’re truly either looking forward to getting gifts or seeing Santa. The magic of Christmas isn’t lost when you find out Santa isn’t real. Sure, you spend a few weeks, months, or years wondering if you can ever trust again; however, once you get over that, you begin to pass the magic on to younger generations.

The same goes for the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Great Pumpkin, and others. Just because you don’t believe anymore, doesn’t mean the magic is lost.

For people with younger siblings or kids, the Christmas spirit lives on through them. Some of my fondest memories have revolved around Christmas. Whether it was seeing family members I don’t normally see or sitting on Santa’s lap at my grandparents house, Christmas has been nothing but good times.

Christmas is all about family. It is a holiday that brings families together.

Seeing my younger cousins’ faces light up when “Santa Claus” walks through the door of my grandparents’ house, puts a smile on everyone’s face. If all it takes is one white lie to bring an entire family together, I’m in.

Everyone dreams of a white Christmas anyway.

Evolution of Christmas Lists

As your desired gifts increase in price, make sure your appreciation increases too

‘Tis the season to get out the pen and paper, and to put your thinking cap on to come up with what to want Santa to bring you this year.

There were easier times, times when our lists would max out at $250, full of little gimmick toys that cost around $20 each. It was much easier for both us, and our parents’ wallets.

I remember being five or six, making my first Christmas list, filling it with things such as a Furby, the new Nintendo DS, and some more Pokémon cards. At no point while I was making the list did money, or the amount of gifts I was receiving cross my mind.

When I was nearing my 10th birthday, I became more interested in video games and things that were slightly more expensive. Along with that, I became more conscious about how many gifts I was receiving.

Nowadays, our lists have been whittled down to one, maybe two, things that are far more expensive. Most of us don’t realize how spoiled we actually are due to the fact that we get, and have gotten, everything we ask for.

English and speech teacher Krista McDonnough said that if her kids really show interest in something she will get it for them, but she doesn’t like to get them everything they want, and prefers to surprise them with gifts.

“When I was little, I remember focusing on one “big” present (big at the time being a baby doll) and being excited to get that present,” McDonnough said. “Nowadays, sadly, my kids are becoming more obsessed with how many gifts they get. Even if I were to get them one awesome toy, they would be a little upset because it was only one toy.”

So, when you’re writing your Christmas list this year, you should put some thought into what it takes to get you what you want. After you unwrap your presents on Christmas morning, make sure your parents know you appreciate all they do for you.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy Kwanzaa.

We Are United

As a result of the election, tensions have risen between Americans throughout the United States including DHS.

By Nick LeBlanc

We’re not robots. Seems like an obvious statement. We have a heart, legs, and arms.  The outstanding thing is that, with our advanced minds, we have the ability to learn about the world around us in ways no other creature can. We can aspire to be anything we want.

However, such a mind can lead to thoughts that are detrimental to its beauty.  Hate, division, arrogance to name a few.  After November 8th, some of these negatives have become more prevalent.  The issue is the lack of unity driven by hate from each side.  Hate cannot drive out hate: only companionship can.

Before the election, the only thing that was talked about was the statistics.  There was never a mention of the social aftermath that would ensue.  Obviously, people will always disapprove or approve of a candidate, but in this year’s election, it has led to something destructive.  For those who disapprove, it is more destructive than productive by dividing yourself.  For those who approve, it is more destructive than productive for attacking others instead of working towards unification amongst all.  The introduction of Donald Trump into the government doesn’t change the fact that our country is ruled by the people for the people. Us. Not Donald Trump.  Approach every second like it’s an investment, and put your energy into things worth obtaining.  Then the United States will truly be great.

With that being said, you can’t let something hold you down. You can’t let your defense for something or someone summon hatred within your mind, because the potential for success within our beautiful country is so high that such thoughts would only destroy such a value that we often take for granted.  With such a widespread division at Dexter High School and nationwide, people need to come together so we can reach our potential and positivity in life as Americans.

The worst thing we can do as a people, and as a student body, is attack one another over our different views.  Such actions would merely add fuel to the flame.  No, what is needed is unity.  We are Americans.  Whichever man or woman sits in that Oval Office would never be allowed to purposely attack fellow Americans who help this country be the best in the world.  So why should we? We help each other, we love each other, and some even die for each other.  No matter who is the head of the executive branch, I am proud that I live in a country where freedom rings, because behind the worry, behind the love, behind the hate, we are all one people: Americans.