Mens baseball optimistic even after loss of key players

The men’s varsity baseball team is coming off a season which saw them go 19-17. The team has several returning players, but also has five players who are new to the team.

Head Coach Don Little said he thinks this year’s team doesn’t have as much experience as last year’s, but they make it up in speed and pitching.

“Last year’s team had more experience and had some very smart baseball players,” Little said. “This year’s team is younger and lacks the experience, but we have better speed. And I like our pitching.”

Continue reading “Mens baseball optimistic even after loss of key players”

3D has a first

After hours and hours of outlining, writing, composing and brainstorming, senior James Fischer completed the largest project of his life, “Control, Alt., Delete” a musical he spent the better part of a year working on, despite the fact that the idea for the play came to him quickly.

“Once I got the main concept of the play, the rest was just putting the pieces together,” Fischer said.

Last spring Fischer began the process of hammering out the first student-written, directed and composed musical in Dexter Drama Directing Series, or 3D, history.

Four years ago, eight upperclassmen taking Erin Palmer’s drama class realized they wanted to do more than perform three plays each year.  The class wanted to write its own plays, thus creating the 3D series which has produced a variety of original and unusual work including “Scrubs: The Musical.”

Although each year Copeland auditorium fills its 150-200 seats for the series, this is the first year for a student-directed musical.

And although Fischer’s play is indeed a musical, he said he considers his play a drama with a little comedy.

“There’s isolation, and it shows how a human can connect with something that is not human,” Fischer said.

The musical involves the state of Alaska, a doctor, a penguin and a robot, contains 10 songs and spans about an hour.  Seniors Harrison Kane and Natalie Burdick are the only characters in the musical.

As for inspiration, Fischer said composer Stephen Sondheim played a motivating role.

“When I listen to him, I just wanna write,” Fischer said.  “Heís my hero.”

Regardless of who he admires, Palmer said the best part of working with Fischer, is his talent combined with his character.

“He has a gift, really, whether it’s singing it, playing it, designing it.  Plus he’s very dedicated and humble about it,”  she said.

And while his is the only original musical being produced, senior Havah Roussel created the other original piece being performed, “Etta,” a one-act drama.

Roussel said she got the idea by following Palmer’s advice of “writing what you know,” and created a production of an elderly woman learning how to use an iPhone.

Such experiences allow students to gain valuable leadership skills and experience from directing their own production, Palmer said.  In addition, she said there are many benefit to having students run their own productions.

“It’s not about me.  What’s important is that the students get to run their own auditions, their own rehearsals, and really take a leadership role,” she said.

“Control. Alt. Delete” premieres March 6 and March 8, and Fischer said he’s ready for the performance, the largest undertaking he’s been involved with.

He said, “This is probably the biggest project I’ve even done in my entire life to be honest.”

Students take advantage of the privileges they are given

The kids of Dexter Community Schools are spoiled.  We have so many privileges and are given so many advantages that some school can only dream about, but we don’t respect the advantages we are given.

For instance, we were given brand new Apple computers and laptops over the past few years and kids are disrespectful to them.  They pull the keys off the keyboards and have no respect for the technology.

I feel like their mentality of this is: “Well, what’s the big deal? It’s just a stupid laptop.”

I hate to sound like my parents, but there are kids in foreign countries who are fortunate just to have the opportunity to learn and have paper and pencil.

And it’s not just kids from Dexter schools who are guilty of doing this.  It’s happening all over the nation.

I constantly hear about kids dropping out of high school because they, “Don’t like school,” but they don’t quite understand how fortunate they are to even have the opportunity to learn.

I don’t understand the youth of today.  Dexter Community Schools gives its students so much, and still we destroy everything we are given.

We pull the clocks off the wall, rip off the benches in the locker room, and rip the doors off the bathroom stalls.  Dexter kids do not deserve the things or the opportunities that they are given.

Winter athletes, coaches look back on seasons

Ice hockey, wrestling, swim/dive, and men’s and women’s basketball teams are hanging up their uni’s after closing out their seasons.

Hockey

Ice hockey finished the regular season 14-11 and lost to Chelsea 3-2 in its first playoff game to end its playoff run.  The team will lose seniors such as captains Ben Grover, Bryan Tuzinowski and Tristan Rojeck, key components to the squad’s success this season according to Coach Brian Sipotz who sang the team’s praises.

“Heading into the season, we had some very high hopes for this team,” Sipotz said.  We had some great leadership and an excellent crop of new players, so we knew it was going to be a fun year.  We trained hard in the summer and fall and had a great start to the season.”

Seeing the team’s strong potential, Sipotz said he wanted to challenge the boys by finishing out the season with some hard battles.

“After Christmas we had a record of 10-4 and had wins against some very good teams.  Since we knew we were going to have a strong team, we scheduled games against some very good teams late in the season.  We ended the regular season with a record of 14-11, and ultimately lost to Chelsea in a well-played first-round matchup.”

The season highlight for Sipotz was beating Chelsea in the regular season, something Dexter had not done in eight years.

“Overall the team had a good year, although the guys really wanted to play a few more games in the playoffs.”

Wrestling

The wrestling team finished 3-4 overall this year.  It will also be losing seniors like Zeke Breuninger and Jonah Hancock.

“I think it went really well,” Hancock said.  “This year’s seniors were very much the leaders of the group, so there is a lot of maturing that needs to occur before next season if we want to succeed, but the potential is there.  We had a good season.”

After coaching changes between freshman, sophomore and junior years, Hancock said a more permanent coach will benefit the team.

“ We finally have some stability with the coaching because we’ve had a lot of changes in the coaching situation,” he said. “These last two years were the first that we’d had the same coach, so the new stability really helps build a foundation of the program, and we’ll see what the boys can do next year.”

Men’s swim and dive

Men’s swim/dive placed second in the state, ending the regular season 7-4.  Senior Andrew Watson said he was pleased with the result.  In the past four years, the team has finished fourth, first, third and second in the state, respectively, so Watson said he couldn’t complain.  He also said he is optimistic about the future of the team.

“There were only two seniors and four juniors who went to states this year, so the majority of the states team was underclassmen,” Watson said. “Because it was a young team, I think next year they’ll be great.  The next two years are going to be really powerful for the swim team.  We still ended up doing really well this season; we finished second in the state which was kind of a surprise.  We didn’t think that was going to happen.”

  Head swim coach Michael McHugh said he was nicely surprised by the team’s performance after the loss of key athletes at the end of last year.

“The team performed very well this year,” McHugh said. “I was a little worried about what we would be capable of this year as we lost all of our state team members from our 2012 State Championship team and all of our All-State performers from a year ago.  We were a very young team this year with only two seniors qualifying for the state meet and to finish 2nd in the state is a testament to how talented these guys are.”

He said he is hopeful for the future as well.

“It’s early to think about goals for next year, but I would say to maintain the high level program that we have is always a goal,” McHugh said. “I think we will be a better team next year, a little bit deeper and more experienced which should really help us perform even better.”

Men’s basketball

Men’s basketball racked up a 14-7 (10-6 in the SEC) season, the team’s best since they finished 13-7 in 2010.  However, the team lost in the first game of districts to the Pinckney Pirates in a one-point game, 41-42.

Senior captain Derek Seidl expressed his remorse over the loss.

“We really shouldn’t have lost,” Seidl said. “We were up the whole game, and we blew it at the end. They were below .500 on the year.”

The Dreadnaughts were up 10 at halftime after leading the whole first half.  But the lead slipped away.

Senior London Truman said the season went well but came to an abrupt end.

“We started off really well, undefeated 10 games straight,” he said. “Then we lost to Ypsi.  After that we knew we would have to work a lot harder to beat good teams. Toward the end of the season, we knew playoffs were starting soon, so we started working extra hard because we knew we’d have to compete with some of the top teams in the state.  And unfortunately we came up with a loss in the first district game. We got up early, and we kinda just coasted instead of playing hard and putting the game away, and they came back and got some good plays.  But next year I’m expecting good things from them. I think they’re going to have a really good season.

However, with the team signing new coach Tim Fortescue, replacing Randy Swoverland, just weeks before the season opened, Truman said the team performed to the best of its abilities during the difficult transition.

Next year the team is losing six seniors including Seidl, the team’s leading scorer. However, there are five players who got playing time that will be coming back, three of whom started at times.

Women’s basketball

Women’s basketball coach Mike Bavineau said he was satisfied with the girls’ 12-10 season after having lost five seniors last year.  The team finished 10-6 in the SECs, taking second place.

“I thought that we had a pretty successful season considering we just came off a year when we went to the final four and graduated five seniors, lost a junior that didn’t come back out, so basically lost six players off of a team that was very successful,” Bavineau said. “We had to replace them with sophomores, so I think overall we did a pretty good job of becoming a better basketball team.  Obviously we would have liked certain outcomes to be different, but that didn’t happen.  But as a team, they all worked hard. They did what they could every day to become better, and that’s all one can ask for when coaching a team.”

Bavineau said the team should increase in strength in the upcoming seasons, provided that the girls stay on and keep at it.

“We hope that we can keep those juniors and sophomores that played on the team and will come back and play,” he said. “Obviously the more experience you have playing a varsity sport the better you get.  So we hope we can continue to grow and progress, but that’ll all depend on how hard we work in the off season.”

'Gravity' proves to be more than just a realistic science-fiction drama

This past October the movie “Gravity” was released.  It’s a science-fiction drama featuring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and directed by Alfonso Cuaron, the same director behind “Children of Men,” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

I’m not a huge fan of science-fiction because it seems to be notoriously corny, but this movie is done in such a realistic way that I wasn’t bothered.  The movie starts off slowly in terms of plot, but every scene is so visually breathtaking that again, I wasn’t bothered. It’s enough to just enjoy the cinematography if nothing else.

However that doesn’t mean there wasn’t more to love.  Being that there are only two characters in this story, the movie’s cast is an all-star lineup.  The acting is phenomenal.  Especially from Bullock, who (spoiler alert) early on becomes the sole character in the story.

This definitely isn’t a light-hearted movie.  It is a drama after all, and it will have you feeling things undoubtedly.  You will go from inspired to stressed, to relieved and then stressed again.  As the story progresses you spiral out of control from one tragic event to another.

As you watch Astronaut Ryan Stone (Bullock) near her breaking point as she is stranded hopelessly in open space,  It doesn’t make you want to be an astronaut. But I think it’s admirable that a science-fiction movie has finally been made with an improved level of realism.  But for anyone not thinking about being an astronaut, it’s a great movie.  I give it a 4.3 out of 5 stars.

Jennifer Driscoll replaces Jennifer Colby as the replacement media specialist

The Media Specialist position has been filled by a myriad of individuals this year.  After Linda Livingstone took an extended leave following family medical issues, Jennifer Colby took over the position.

Now, Jennifer Driscoll has been asked to fill Colby’s shoes after she decided to take a full-time media specialist job in Novi at Deerfield Elementary School.

Driscoll is not completely new to the job of media specialist, however.

“I have worked in the media centers all around the district for several years now, so I’m familiar with the systems and how libraries work,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll confirmed that the position is still a “temporary, substitute type of position.”  However, until Livingstone returns, Driscoll plans to be very proactive in the library.

“I’ve only just gotten started, so I’m just kind of seeing how things stand,” Driscoll said.

As her tenure continues, however, Driscoll said she plans to make changes that suit the students.

“I don’t have any specific plans quite yet for changes in the library, as I’ve only been here for a few days,” Driscoll said.  “If there are any changes that people would like to see I would be happy to hear them.”

Policymakers seek to eliminate summer break for Michigan students

The traditional three-month summer for Michigan schools may be nearing it’s end, as the state legislature and the governor want to give schools the ability to go to what they call a balanced schedule or what many people call year-round school.

Gov. Rick Snyder and many policymakers say such a change could help eventually lead to more college graduates. Principal Kit Moran has read such studies and said the research bears them out.

“Studies have shown, that students have a starting point at the beginning of each school year to which they steadily improve as the year goes on,” Principal Kit Moran said. “However during the 11 or 12 week summer, kids lose some of that brain power, since they aren’t reading or doing math problems.”

The year-round schools schedule would have the same number of school days as a traditional school year, however it would be stretched out across a 12-month period rather than the normal nine months.

“Schools that have tested going year round had a system of nine weeks on then three weeks off, so after each quarter, you would have essentially another Christmas break,” Moran said.

While there has also been talk of increasing the number of days Michigan students have to attend school, this discussion hasn’t really gone anywhere, mainly because of the money issue, according to Moran.

“There is always someone in Lansing that says kids need to go to school longer,” Moran said. “Gov. Engler, a few years back, his goal was to get the number of school days up to 210, instead of the 175 we have now. The only problem is, how are you going to fund seven more weeks of school, because that’s seven more weeks of buses and seven more weeks of paying teachers?”

And money isn’t the only problem with this plan according to Moran.

“If I were to say, ‘Dexter is going to change to a year-round system. We’re going to be on nine weeks and off three, well, that’s good for student achievement, but what do we do about athletics,” he said. “Would that affect our testing in March? There are so many things that we structure around our school year, that it makes it difficult to make such a big change.”

Although year-round schooling or a balanced schedule may be gaining momentum in the state legislature, Moran doesn’t see this change coming to Dexter anytime soon.

“I can tell you this,” he said. “No student in the Dexter High School has to worry about going to school year round.”

You smell that?

A large chemical filtration system beneath the science classrooms, unknown to current administrators until January, has become clogged by an unknown substance.  The obstruction was first detected because of an odor produced by the chemical backup.

“I’m not quite sure why somebody didn’t know that,” Principal Kit Moran said.  “It’s amazing to me that nobody ever mentioned that.”

The tanks were installed 12 years ago during construction of the high school when Moran wasn’t principal.

The mechanism is made up of two large tanks connected by a tube.  Waste flows from the science room sinks into the first tank where its acidity is neutralized and any precipitates fall to the bottom and are pumped out.

The liquid is then pumped to the next tank through the tube where it is further neutralized.  The clog occurred in this tubing between the tanks.

Science teacher Beau Kimmey said the filtration system is mainly in place to neutralize acids disposed of in the science room sinks, “so you’re not dumping straight acid down into the sewage system.”

The obstruction hasn’t completely stopped drainage from the science rooms, but it has slowed the process dramatically.

He said, “The connection between the two tanks became partially clogged.  It still works, it’s just really slow.  It doesn’t flow as well as it should.”

Kimmey said the biggest trouble comes when multiple classrooms perform labs on the same day and the tanks get backed up.  This is when the tanks begin to smell.

No one is sure exactly what is causing the blockage, but Kimmey said it may be some sort of limestone formed by the water.

“Other than that,” he said, “who knows what kids dump down the sinks.”

He added that he believes the quality of the equipment may be to blame for the issue, because the school may have gone for the cheaper option.

“We’re kind of locked in by what taxpayers are willing to pay,” Kimmey said,  “and when you take the lowest bidder, you don’t always get the highest quality.”

Moran, however, strongly disagreed with Kimmey on that issue.

Moran said that given the fact that the system has been underground for 12 years without receiving any maintenance, it is surprising there haven’t been more problems.

“Is it one of those things that needs to be cleaned every once in a while,” he said, “or is it a quality issue? After a while you gotta put a new roof on your house. I would say, generally speaking, the school’s in good shape.  A lot of people think it’s a brand new building.”

The plan to fix the tanks is to investigate the problem and clean them out during spring break when students are gone.  Moran did add, however, that there are many possibilities for things to go wrong in the process.

He said, “Perfect world, they make it to spring break, and they fix it over spring break, and all is good.  However, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was harder to fix than expected.  This is like the car repair that you’ve never done before.”

Moran also said that there is a chance things get worse before spring break, and he said he told the science teachers, “To the best extent possible, be careful what you’re putting down there.  Every gallon that doesn’t go down there just keeps us in that much better shape.”

Still why did no one know about this container to begin with?  Moran said part of the issue may have been the revolving door of principals before he arrived–six principals in six years at one point–and that many fragments of information may have been lost in transition.

After the obstruction has been cleared, Moran said cleaning it out will be added to the annual checkups by the maintenance staff over the summer so this problem doesn’t occur again.

“At least we’ll know it’s there,” he said.

Still, with such a significant element to the proper function of our building going unnoticed for over a decade, one has to wonder what else might be lurking beneath our school.

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

International Baccalaureate program gives students a tougher challenge than previously imagined

As the class of 2014 approaches graduation, 16 seniors are left wondering if they will graduate with more than a high school diploma. These International Baccalaureate diploma candidates who are on track for an IB diploma have to wait until the end of July to find out if they qualified for the IB diploma.

Students striving for the full IB diploma have to write an extended essay, complete a Theory of Knowledge class which includes a TOK presentation and essay and complete a Creativity Action Service project on top of completing all their coursework requirements. Each IB class also requires an internal assessment and external assessment. The external assessment won’t take place until May, leaving those students waiting until the end of July for their results.

According to IB Coordinator Kimberley Lund this late deadline is not a big deal in the United States in terms of college admissions.

“Colleges make decisions based on the student’s good standing and predicted grades,” she said. “It is unheard of to have a students acceptance taken away because they did not receive the IB diploma.”

However this isn’t as uncommon in Europe.

“Getting the IB diploma would be a bigger deal if I was looking to go to college overseas” senior Tristin Rojeck said.  Rojeck is one of those 16 students waiting to find out if he will receive an IB diploma.

“I might be getting an IB diploma,” he said.  “But at this point I’m just looking to do well enough in math and English and maybe history to get college credit.”

Rojeck already got his acceptance letter to Michigan State, and it won’t be taken away if he fails to receive an IB diploma.

Although a student’s acceptance may not be at risk over the IB diploma other factors are.

“Not getting the IB diploma can affect how much money colleges offer in scholarships” Lund said.

While all the colleges Rojeck was looking into offered scholarships independent from the IB diploma, some schools, Michigan Technological University for example, offer scholarships specifically to IB diploma recipients.

According to both Rojeck and Lund even more overseas colleges make a bigger deal over the IB diploma.

“It really is a somewhat prestigious thing to do,” Rojeck said.  “It’s a step above a high school diploma because it requires more work in regards to the extended essay and CSA.”

And this extra work is well worth it for Rojeck who said that the IB program has helped him prepare for college and given him a strong work ethic that will lead him to be successful in life regardless if he ends up with or without an IB diploma.

“Theres no real way to know right now if all my hard work was worth it,” Rojeck said.  “I’m happy that I stuck with the program and I’ll let you know in a year.”