New concussion regulations impact athletes

Cam Winston went in for tackle against Fowlerville on Aug. 29.  After the play, a Fowlerville player hit Winston in the head, and Winston fell to the ground.  He laid there unconscious and knocked out for several minutes with a concussion.

“I felt confused and dizzy and had to remember what happened,” Winston said.

Concussions like the one Winston received can result in severe long term effects on a teen’s brain and affect their everyday life.

The Michigan Sports Concussion law enacted on June 30 requires all high school personnel involved in youth activity to take and complete an online concussion training program. The law also makes all athletes and their parents sign a waiver that lists all the symptoms and signs of concussions and requires all coaches to take an athlete out of physical activity if the athlete has a concussion or concussion-like symptoms.

By law, an athlete removed from physical activity must then must get a written statement from a doctor to be cleared to return to physical activity.

In addition, all Dexter athletes have to take a Sport Concussion Assessment before each season to see if they have a concussion.which allows head athletic trainer Leah Gagnon and the rest of the athletic department to evaluate a player’s status and symptoms.

“This allows us evaluate the player’s status,” Gagnon said.  “They have to answer a series a questions about their symptoms, and if they still experience symptoms of a concussion, they have to be monitored and evaluated by a doctor until cleared.”

Varsity football coach Ken Koenig said he puts a high priority on athlete safety but doesn’t think the law will necessarily help prevent concussions.

“You can’t legislate safety,” Koenig said. “It’s like wearing a seatbelt. The law requires you wear a seatbelt, but people are still not going to wear a seatbelt.”

But Gagnon said the the new law is a step in the right direction.

“I definitely thinks it’s important,” Gagnon said.  “For the last five years at least, I’ve required them to get a doctor’s notice anyways. It didn’t really change much of how we were managing it here, because we were already doing that. What it does help, is that it now gives me something where I can say, look it’s a (Michigan High School Athletic Association) regulation. It’s no longer me just making that decision.”

For Koenig, one of the most positive things the law does is raise student-athlete awareness of the symptoms and effects of concussions.

“Our kids are very aware about the symptoms of concussions,” Koenig said.  “They’re aware of it so much that they know what to look for and they know what to hide.”

This is something Gagnon notices to. While she said it’s good young athletes are more aware of concussion symptoms, this also means they are better at knowing how to cover up the symptoms too.

“More athletes are starting to know about concussions and the severity of it,” Gagnon said.  “It’s kind of a double-edge sword though. More kids are becoming educated on the severity of concussions,  but at the same time, for the kids that all they want to do is play, they are now better educated on what to hide.”

Despite the law and potential long-term physical effects, not all athletes are concerned about getting concussions.  Senior Freddy Burke has had 11 concussions and could be ruled out for the upcoming hockey season because of this.

But Burke still wants to play, even though he knows the potential for long-term damage.

“I really wanna play, but you gotta go out there and play,” Burke said.  “You can’t change your style of play because you’re afraid.”

Junior Michigan State wide receiver Keith Mumphery has the same sort of mindset. Despite receiving two concussions, he said he’s not going to change his style of play.

“You can’t go play this game (football) being worried of getting hit,” Mumphery said.  “You can’t go into the game with that kind of mindset.”

But Gagnon said these athletes really need to think about the long-term damage they could be doing to themselves including developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

CTE is a progressive degenerative disease that is an inflammation in the brain that can cause loss of train of thought, brain trauma, extreme anger and death.

And it’s the second hit an athlete takes after an initial concussion that can be the most dangerous and result in the most severe long-term effects.

“That first hit that he takes is when he is concussed, that’s when the brain is damaged,” Gagnon said.  “There’s more and more things showing that its really that second hit that can seriously alter a kids life from that point forward.”

Dreadstrong campaign hopes to provide community identity

The Purpose of “Dread Strong”

New Superintendent Chris Timmis said he didn’t want to wait to settle in. He didn’t want to take a year or two to figure out the system to see if he liked where he had ended up. Instead he decided it was time to take charge and make a change by kicking off a district-wide marketing campaign using one central theme: “Dread Strong.”

He said the goal of the campaign is to get the community involved with the schools and give them an opportunity to recognize excellence in Dexter.

“You need to have some kind of common brand that everyone understands, something to draw people back in and celebrate what is really great about where they live and where they go to school,” Timmis said.

And he said a brand like Dread Strong offers Dexter a chance to grow into one of the best school districts in the state and even the nation.

“We’re really good right now,” Timmis said, “but we have so much potential, and we can do some incredible things for students and for the community. In order to do that you need some kind of theme to work around, something that’s common.”

Right now, in the early stages of the campaign, Dread Strong consists of a variety of methods of spreading the message, including yard signs and a Facebook page. These media are used to give a slogan to the community and instill a sense of pride.

“We have those things, but it can’t be hidden,” Timmis said. “It can’t just be on T-shirts. It can’t just be when students walk in the building. It should be out there, so that people it every neighborhood can say, ‘We feel a lot of pride in our school, and we want to make sure everybody knows.’ ”

But social media is where Timmis believes Dread Strong will really take off. “The Facebook presence gives us the opportunity to just celebrate good things,” he said.

“It’s not necessarily the school’s site,” he said. “It engages alumni, and it engages community members. It focuses on one common experience that everybody has: they all went to Dexter schools.”

While Dread Strong has been built from scratch this year, Timmis said it can grow into something much more significant within our district in the coming years.

He said, “We’re gonna build a strategic plan over the next few months that’ll talk about what we’re gonna look like as a school district in the next 5-10 years, and it will be trying to really become one of the best school districts in the country.”

As far as what defines a terrific school district, he says doesn’t know exactly what it would look like. However, he said Dread Strong gives the district the chance to find out by opening the conversation to everyone.

“It won’t be what I think,” Timmis said. “It’s what the community thinks. DreadStrong opens the doors.”

The Growth of “Dread Strong”

While Timmis said he plans for Dread Strong to grow into a much wider scope and purpose than it currently possesses, athletic director Michael Bavineau said he didn’t see it has already exceeded his original expectations.

The idea began as a simple way to unify the athletic department and create a common mindsight. “We were trying to create this new culture and this new identity,” Bavineau said.

After the process began, Bavineau said it simply kept moving forward. He said, “We got the new logo and just thought, ‘OK, where do we go from here?’”

“We wanted a new slogan,” Bavineau said. “Something that could capture who we are not only as an athletic department but as student-athletes and as kids in our school. Michigan has ‘Go Blue’ and Alabama has ‘Roll Tide,’ so what’s Dexter?”

Bavineau thought about having a standard, common phrase like “Go Dreads.” But when he thought of Dread Strong, he immediately fell in love with it. “Dread Strong sounds like something you’d want to be a part of,” he said.

Dread Strong seems to Bavineau like something the entire district could build around. “It’s a way for the community, the school, the students, regardless of age or grade, it’s something they can be a part of,” he said. “I hope it becomes sort of like a sense of pride.”

The Community Perspective

Bavineau and Timmis both have high ambitions for the Dread Strong campaign. But what does the community think? Doug Smith, the initial designer of the Dread Strong logo, has been following the operation since its beginning.

In addition to simply making the logo, Smith is a DHS graduate of 1990, has two children in the Dexter school system, and is very involved with many community organizations and programs. He said he has supported Dread Strong since it began and likes the direction it’s going in.

“You can have parents, alumni, businesses and anyone else who loves Dexter Schools all showing their support together,” Smith said.

Like many Dexter residents, the most visibly apparent component for Smith has been the arrival of Dread Strong yard signs. Smith said, “I know there’s always been a tradition of yard signs for certain sports, but having one sign and one campaign that everyone can be involved in is a big plus.”

“It’s great to drive around town or out of town in any direction and even when you get a couple miles away, you’ll still see a Dread Strong sign by someone’s driveway,” Smith said. “It just makes you think that it’s everywhere, and that’s pretty awesome.”

While Smith does appreciate the yard signs, he said he doesn’t believe they, or the Dread Strong program as a whole, are the end of Timmis’ plans to improve the school district.

“I know Superintendent Timmis has a lot of really great ideas and a focus on community support for our schools,” Smith said. “I think the Dread Strong campaign is just the start of some really cool stuff. I’m proud to be a Dexter alum and I’m proud to be a part of this.”

 

 

Swoverland steps down

WHAT HAPPENED:

After a coaching career that spanned more than 20 years in Dexter, varsity basketball coach Randy Swoverland quit his coaching job on Monday, Oct. 28. He officially announced he was stepping down after a week of isolating himself from interactions with his students and players.

Swoverland declined to be interviewed about his resignation or the incident, but the following account was confirmed by multiple sources who were present at various times throughout the situation.

THE INITIAL INCIDENT:

Senior captain Derek Seidl had just finished stretching. Two days previously, he had gone home exhausted after a tough workout. Now, he knew that he was about to be doing heavy lifting. Then Swoverland told the team that they part of their workout that day would be running sprints.

But Seidl told Swoverland that sprints were a bad idea because the team had open gym that night.

“We finished up we were doing, then he came over and yelled at me,” Seidl said. “I deserved to be yelled at, though, for speaking out like that in front of everyone. He wasn’t happy about what I said. I thought it would be over after that day.”

THE RESULT:

Seidl and Swoverland have known each other for years. But in the days following the incident between the two, Seidl said Swoverland stopped talking to him both during basketball and during school, where Swoverland teaches Seidl’s gym class.

“I was more confused and unsure than anything,” Seidl said. “I didn’t really know what was going on. I could tell that something was wrong and assumed it had something to do with the incident. I didn’t think it was going to escalate like that.”

So Seidl went to his dad, Matt Seidl, Swoverland’s friend and former assistant coach. Matt texted Swoverland to set up a meeting to talk about what was going on. But according to Matt, Swoverland didn’t answer the text in 24 hours, so Matt went to the next level.

“I went to Bavineau and Moran, just moving up the chain of command,” Matt said. “I didn’t ask for him to be fired, I didn’t ask for him to resign, I just wanted to bring attention to what I thought was not the right way to be treating kids.”

After the meeting, Derek said that his interactions with Swoverland beginning to return to normal. Then, all of a sudden, Swoverland called a team meeting, where he promptly told the team he was quitting, then left.

Swoverland mentioned the incident between he and Derek, and said that due to the circumstances, he was no longer able to coach the team.

“I think it was something that built up and this was just the last straw,” Matt said. “He was looking for a reason. I wish he would have took ownership of that instead of implying that it was one person or one thing, but so be it. Under stress people do weird things.”

Swoverland talked to Derek one-on-one the next day.

“Essentially, he felt like the team wasn’t buying in to what he was doing,” Derek said. “He thought that the incident between him and I was a sign that he was losing the team. The incident was the tipping point, because he didn’t know how the team was supposed to buy in if the captain wasn’t.”

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT:

With no coach, going into the final two weeks before tryouts, the boys basketball team was facing a serious problem.

“I think it’s difficult to lose a coach, especially so soon before a season,” Athletic Director Mike Bavineau said. “I feel confident that we’ll be able to put a qualified coach in place to be able to help the boys basketball program. You obviously want to keep some continuity, something that the boys are comfortable with.”

Any time a coach quits or resigns, the Athletic Department is required to post the position first to members of the Dexter Education Association, the teachers’ union. In this case, the request was submitted on a shortened deadline because of how soon the season is approaching.

“We weren’t really looking for an interview process,” Bavineau said. “After posting internally to see if any DEA members were interested in the job, we decided that (former JV coach) Tim Fortescue would be able to fill the role.”

Fortescue was offered the job as interim varsity coach Oct. 29, after Bavineau met with him to talk about planning for the season. Bavineau said he wanted to keep Fortescue informed as the situation developed.

“Based on what I saw last year, Fortescue is very good at managing team chemistry,” Bavineau said. “He knows what each player’s skills and strengths are, and he uses them to their full potential. He’s good at defining roles on the team.”

Fortescue said his goal is for his players to work hard and enjoy doing it.

“As a coach, I try to bring a lot of positive energy to my players each day,” he said. “I want the team to work hard, set goals, and enjoy the experience of high school basketball.”

And Derek, though initially surprised by Swoverland resigning, is hopeful about the coming season.

“I completely respect Swoverland’s decision and am not mad at him at all for it,” Derek said, “but I’m excited for the upcoming season with Fortescue taking over. It’ll be new and different. It’ll be challenging, but in the end I think it will be fun and we can have a successful season.”

Weight room remodeled to the tune of $140 thousand

Using $120,000 in bond money and $20,000 from the Athletic Booster Club of Dexter, a $140,000 weight room remodelling had begun at Dexter High School.

“I think it was long overdue,” ABCD member Brad Hochrein said. “The size of our old weight room compared to the other schools in our district showed that we needed to expand it.”

The new weight room now includes all-new equipment including medicine balls, squat racks and enhanced air compression machines, which use compressed air in place of metal free-weights.

The renovation is an attempt to make the weight room more all-purpose, according to Athletic Director Mike Bavineau.

“The coaches and I got together, and the weight room was more of a football-type weight room,” Bavineau said. “So we wanted to make a more wide variety weight room for all sports.”

Hochrein also said the weight room needs to take in to account all sports in Dexter, not just football.

“Many sports require training in the offseason so that when the season comes, the players can perform,” Hochrein said.

But physical education teacher and former football coach Tom Barbieri–who bases a lot of class time around the weight room–said while he appreciates the changes, he wishes he was consulted more about how the new room would work.

“We have a lot more room, so it changes the class a little bit, but we will be all right,” Barbieri said. “My teaching station was being changed, and I had little input into the decision. I would have liked to have more input into the decision, but I’m OK with the changes.”

Bavineau, however, said he wanted to focus more on the athletic aspect of the new weight room and that he did talk to the gym teachers before the remodeling began.

“We wanted to focus more on the athletic approach when making the new weight room,” he said.

And Hochrein agrees with Bavineau’s approach. To him, the weight room needs to be something all sports programs and all students can benefit from.

He said, “Certainly there has been a good direction that sports programs have been taking in efforts to improve all the sports in the district.”

Murals cause controversy

Senior Maitreya Menge stood in the hall, paintbrush in hand.  She got ready to pour herself out, expressing the subjects nearest to her heart.  With the first stroke of her paint brush, Menge started a conflict that she couldn’t have seen coming.

“I was told to paint a mural that meant something to me, something that I cared about, and that’s just what I did,” Menge said.

Murals have lined the walls of the school for years.  They are created as a part of the “Drawing and Painting” class taught by art teacher Autumn Campbell.  Student artists like Menge take this as an opportunity to share their artwork in a public space with the rest of the school.

Before the designs are finalized and painted, they are sent to Principal Kit Moran, who ultimately approves or denies them.  Moran said he has not turned down a single mural idea.

“As long as the content doesn’t make a personal attack on a certain group or student or causes a disturbance to the school day, then I generally will allow it,” he said.

But sometimes self-expression, though deemed not offensive by administration, can cause problems with the beliefs of other students or faculty.

But with thousands of students passing through the school each year, it’s inevitable that some controversial mural ideas would collide with the views and beliefs of certain students, even if they are principal-approved.

Last year, Menge themed her murals around the subject of transgenderism.

“It’s really the idea that most people don’t recognize the struggles of transgenderism,” Menge said.

Her mural features characters with word bubbles surrounding their heads containing words such as “who,” “him,” “she,” “it” and “her,” etc.–making a statement about the characters’ sexuality.

But almost as soon as these murals appeared a concerned student contacted Principal Kit Moran, outraged.  This student agreed to be interviewed for the story only if The Squall didn’t use her name.

“It is my personal belief that the mural showing a transgender’s struggle is not appropriate for the walls of our school,” she said. “In general, I enjoy the art murals in the school. However, I believe that they should not have any subject matter that promotes certain views one way or another.”

She said that although she knows public schools aren’t allowed to promote religious beliefs, she thinks that schools also shouldn’t be able to promote ideas that oppose these religious beliefs either.

But for Menge, the murals weren’t about promoting a certain idea. Instead, she was focused on educating people.

“I did not foresee people being upset about the mural,” she said. “I’m not trying to influence anyone to think a certain way, but rather to shed light on a subject that is generally ignored.”

Several meetings were held between the concerned student and Moran, but in the end, Moran made the decision to leave the murals up.

“The student has a right to express themselves,” Moran said. “All murals are signed and dated. The content does not necessarily express the school’s views, but rather the views of the artist. We have to learn to respect that other people have different views and opinions.”

 

Halloween change isn't all good

During my childhood I looked forward to dressing up like my favorite movie character and walking around my neighborhood in search of delicious treats.  Halloween in the past, though spooky, was a holiday of pure intentions.  Trick or treating and apple bobbing offered fun for the whole family.  In the past few years however, something has begun to happen, and not necessarily in a positive way.

Oct. 31: the day is here.  Teenage girls everywhere begin to emerge from the depths of their Justin Bieber-plastered bedrooms. They are dressed up like sexual versions of their future profession.  We have naughty nurses, doctors, teachers and somehow slutty cats.

The whole idea of Halloween has changed completely from age 5 to 16.  If these 5-year-old Trick-or-Treaters could see how they would be spending their Halloween 10 years in the future, they would be ashamed.

Not only does the clothing attire change, but the style of Halloween changes.  The celebration of Halloween goes from having the urge to acquire candy and Trick-or-Treat, to now where Halloween is where teens have the urge to party and be reckless. I’m not saying this is a bad thing though.  Things change it’s just how the world is.

But wouldn’t it be better if instead of parting on Halloween, 16 year olds went out dressed up like dinosaurs and pumpkins and Trick-or-Treated? Maybe not. But the idea that costumes have to be slutty and Halloween has to be about partying makes me sad.

'Martians over Brooklyn' recreates infamous radio broadcast

A radio series drama called “The Mercury Theatre on Air” had a Halloween special on Oct. 30, 1938. The special, narrated and directed by Orson Welles, was titled “War of the Worlds.”

The plot of “War of the Worlds” was that aliens were attacking Brooklyn. Some listeners misunderstood and believed that extraterrestrials were actually taking over the world. The broadcast was followed by a widespread panic over the city.

The drama club’s latest production, “Martians Over Brooklyn,” told the story of both the infamous radio broadcast and the reaction of the local citizens.

Tomi Dres was the director, and Erin Palmer was the technical director for the show. Palmer has directed over a dozen productions for the Dexter Drama Club.

She says this set design was especially unique.

“Our set is actually split between a neighborhood in New York and a radio station for the entire show,” Palmer said.

Orson Welles was played by senior Tyrus Caldwell. He, along with the rest of the actors in the radio station, had to work with live props to make it sound as though aliens were invading for the “broadcast.”

Palmer was excited to see Caldwell in his first main-stage production.

“He’s kind of a character in everyday life,” she said. “He’s got so much energy; it just brings the whole play to life.”

According to Palmer, Caldwell and senior James Fischer, who played an unhinged grandfather, “had the time of their lives up there.”

Palmer found Fischer’s character especially interesting.

“(The grandfather) is kind of crazy. He thinks he’s a civil war veteran,” Palmer said. “Then he starts yelling about martians, and it’s like the boy who cried wolf. Nobody believes him at first.”

The New York apartment has many different characters, each of whom have a unique reaction to the “alien invasion.”

Some lead actors in the neighborhood included senior Havah Roussell, the owner of the apartment complex; freshman Owen Brooks, the comic book-loving kid who thinks there could be nothing cooler than an alien invasion; and sophomore Alexis Benson, who wishes to marry an alien.

The multitude of leading roles is an aspect Palmer thinks viewers enjoyed during “Martians Over Brooklyn.”

“A lot of people have a lot of lines. It’s very much an ensemble piece,” Palmer said. “Who wouldn’t want to come and watch a bunch of their friends have fun on stage?”

 

 

Our top 10 Halloween costumes of 2013

10. Thor.

I had to include at least one superhero on this list, and this Avenger, Thor, gets more popular by the minute, especially with the release of Thor 2 on Oct. 30. The Thor costume, with the signature armour, red cape and hammer, can be found on almost every Halloween costume site and will be very popular with the trick or treaters.

9. Duck Dynasty.

Now, I don’t watch “Duck Dynasty,” but I’m familiar enough with social media to know that it’s one of the hottest TV shows around. If I had to assume, there’s a lot of duck hunting involved. Regardless, the guys on this show look hilarious, and you can look like them too. Just find a costume with a big fluffy beard, an American flag bandana to go around your head, some camouflage,  and maybe a nice mallard to walk around with, and you’ll be sporting one of the most popular costumes of the year.

8. Blake Henderson.

Blake Henderson from “Workaholics” is a crazy character to say the least. “Workaholics” is one of the funniest TV shows aroudn, and Blake Anderson is at the center of the comedy with his two friends. Blake is known for his wildly outlandish ideas and actions and his just-as-insane hair that flops around everywhere. Grab some weird hair curlers or a wig and a loose button down shirt and a weird tie. Or, a bear suit.

7. Dwight Schrute.

Well, I’m biased because “The Office” is the best TV show ever, but Dwight Schrute has a distinct character and style that all should be able to accomplish. Grab your giant glasses as seen in the photo, your short sleeve mustard button dow, and a nice calculator watch and you are good to go. In addition, a can of beets would show some true flavor.

6. Despicable Me Minion.

“Despicable Me 2” hit the box offices this year and is one of the best animated films of all time. What’s not to love when weird, yellow, jelly bean-shaped people walk around talking gibberish and making funny noises. (I hope you’ve seen “Despicable Me” because otherwise that just sounded horrifying.) If you have the skills, this costume is especially funny to the younger crowd. You can either buy one or make your own using yellow paint, blue overalls and goggles.

5. Ron Burgundy.

With the release of “Anchorman 2” just around the corner, Ron Burgundy is a great costume. One of the funniest characters of all time, Ron Burgundy is famous for being San Diego’s best anchorman. Anchorman is an absolutely hilarious comedy, and if you haven’t seen it, I would pick up  a copy at your local movie store and watch it before the second Anchorman comes out in December. For this costume you will need a comb and some hair spray so that you can hold that beautiful Ron Burgundy hair-do. You will also need a red suit and white penny loafers or boat shoes to complete this costume. Oh, and don’t forget that amazing mustache.

4. Miley Cyrus.

By far one of the most talked-about people in America right now, Miley has gone off on a bit of a tangent since her breakup with Liam Hemsworth. She cut her hair short, dyed it blonde, made new music and went on a twerking rampage.

This costume isn’t too difficult if you’re dedicated. Cut your hair short, dye it blonde, wear something tight, go on a twerking rampage, and you’re Miley Cyrus. Also, if you’re feeling adventurous, grab a Wrecking Ball or a sledge hammer. That’s all I can advise, but if you watch the Wrecking Ball video, you’ll know what I mean.

3. Ancient Aliens Guy from History Channel.

Maybe you’ve seen his television show on the History Channel, or even his signature meme on the Internet, but Giorgio A. Tsoukalos may be the funniest looking dude ever. And I’m not trying to be mean, he owns it with his wildly crazy hair and even crazier theories. Find a way to make your hair like his and you have a great costume. Maybe also walk around with signs that read, “Aliens Are Real,” or “Aliens Forever.”

2. Breaking Bad Costume.

“Breaking Bad,” the five-season thriller TV show, ended on Sept. 29. The series finale hit a whopping 10.3 million viewers. It was one of the most talked-about topics in America as cancer-diagnosed chemistry teacher, Walter White, set out with a former student to make and sell Crystal Meth in order to provide for his family before he died. A very popular costume this year will be from “Breaking Bad” as one can get a yellow hazmat suit, a plastic gas mask and blue gloves in order to look just like Walter White cooking meth. You could also go the extra mile and grow a goatee and shave your head while wearing a fedora to look like Heisenberg, Walter White’s alter ego, drug-dealing self.

1. Zombie from “The Walking Dead”.

I’m not into “The Walking Dead.” But it’s one of the most popular TV shows running. In the show, small town sheriff’s deputy, Rick Grimes, awakens from a coma to all of a sudden live in apost-apocalyptic world dominated by flesh-eating zombies. Zombie’s are undoubtedly going to be one of the most popular costumes this year, as they are every year, but even more so because of this television program. Grab some terrible clothes, rip them and either be really really good with makeup and paint or find a mask out there. Then walk around as if you’re going to eat a person. (I tried to think of an example but there just are not any). So get out there zombie and make that apocalypse happen.