Everyone should stand and say the Pledge

Before starting this column, we would first like to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to demonstrate our formal appreciation toward this beautiful fatherland that we call home.

Gentlemen, please remove your caps. Ladies, please pay attention for the time being.

“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.”

It’s only 31 words, not a problem. But getting students to actually say the Pledge of Allegiance, now that the state requires the school to give us time to do so, is a problem. The vast majority of students and teachers aren’t taking advantage of the time given to us to say these 31 important words. And we have a problem with that.

In the United States, people hold many opinions and views across many different spectrums. Everybody has a voice in government, and we all are given our rights and protections in the Constitution. And we should honor these rights and protections by showing respect to our flag and saying the Pledge every morning.

Every student and teacher should carry core values and traits that mirror respect. Saying the Pledge shows that we are thankful for the men and women in our military who fight to keep terrorists out of our country. As we sit in our cushy school, what does it hurt to stand up and recite the Pledge?

However, it seems that in most classrooms it is uncomfortable to say the Pledge because it’s not the norm to do so. This discourages many people who want to participate, including ourselves. It’s almost as if you’re judged by your classmates for reciting the Pledge.

If we’re going to be given the opportunity to stand up in front of the flag and recite the Pledge, all of us should stand as a united front and participate. And while the law doesn’t require it, if there’s no enforcement by teachers and staff, then it’s practically a waste of an opportunity.

In fact, there was one significant bugaboo with student participation in the rehearsal of the Pledge of Allegiance on the first day of school.

It was made apparent on this day by faculty and staff that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was optional and the student’s choice.

While this is what the law says, why wasn’t there as much emphasis on the fortuity of reciting the Pledge? Why didn’t the teaching staff point out that saying the Pledge is a grand opportunity to demonstrate on a daily basis your adoration of the nation you live in? What type of message is it sending if even our own teachers aren’t reciting the Pledge of Allegiance?

The Pledge of Allegiance should be recited daily by all students. It makes teenagers look bad if only a handful of students are participating.

Either all of us should stand together or none of us should stand. Let’s all join along with Principal Kit Moran’s golden pipes, link together and may God bless America accordingly.

Freshman house changes frustrate teachers

Freshmen house was created four years ago to make an 8th grader’s transition to high school a little bit easier.  Now a senior, Sarah Griffith said she still remembers her freshman experience and how Freshman House helped her.

“I really liked that we had the same teachers all year long,” she said.  “And what I remember most is the freshman house war we had between two teams.”

Creating a smooth transition socially as well as academically was a goal of the freshmen house.  Team bonding– like the team “war” Griffith experienced– allows for freshmen to get familiar with their peers and not feel intimidated entering a school with twice the number of students compared to middle school.

The academic component is vital according to Principal Kit Moran.

“Our goal for high school is for you to graduate 12th grade ready to go to Harvard,”  Moran said.

But due to a smaller freshman class and budget cuts, there are fewer freshmen house teachers this year, meaning there aren’t well defined “teams” like there have been previous years, leading to frustration among freshman house teachers.

“The changes made this year were due to a very small freshman population,” freshmen house Earth Science teacher Beau Kimmey said.  “One of the teams had to be reduced down to three teachers, and it ended up messing up the American Studies blocks.”

The first year freshmen house was implemented, there were three teams of four teachers with two math teachers shared among the three teams.  This year the block sessions like the American Studies block which includes English and social studies, have been broken apart.  Now freshmen also travel between teams for science as well as math.

For example, teachers Ryan Baese and Andrew Parker used to work together by opening up the walls between their classrooms and having a two-hour, or “blocked” class period.  Now the American Studies block session is replaced by two separate classes, one English and one American History.

This changed the whole premise of freshmen house–of belonging to a smaller community within the big high school.

“The idea of freshman house where you belong to a certain team has fallen apart this year,” Kimmey said.

And this new version of freshmen house may result in lower freshman academic success according to Moran.

He said students who are failing classes during high school fail most in freshman year.  The concept of the original freshmen house was to prepare these students better and intervene early to avoid such failures.

“A lot of kids come in and they’re not ready. They don’t do homework. They’re not organized. They don’t see the value of it,” he said.

And the house concept seemed to work, according to Kimmey.

The class of 2014 was the first class that went through the freshmen house, and they had some of the highest standardized test scores on record for Dexter.

“We know that the freshman house at least helped a little bit because the class of ‘14 had the highest MME scores in science Dexter’s ever had,” Kimmey said.  “Something that was going on caused the scores to be higher.”

So despite the changes to the house and potential to impact student learning, Moran said he and other administrators will still work to make the transition into high school a positive one.

“We are bringing you in, 9th grade, from middle school and there is a big change that needs to happen between the first day of 9th grade and the last day of 12th grade, we have to deal with that 9th grade,” he said.  “Ninth grade is the most important grade–behind senior year of course.”

Bump, set, sign

Before hitting the court, all players in the volleyball program have to sign a social media contract prohibiting them from posting hurtful comments about the team, fellow players and opponents.

The contract is a replica of the contract the University of Michigan uses for its women’s volleyball team.

“At the old school I coached, people would write untrue things about their teammates to get them kicked off,” Days said. “I just don’t want to see that again. I wanted to put guidelines in place for the team to follow.”

Day is helping her athletes prepare for the future by teaching them to respect the permanency and prominence of social media. Volleyball player August Bishop recognizes the benefits.

“I actually like the idea behind the contract,” she said. “Our whole team supported it.”

Social media contracts such as these aren’t uncommon in high school sports due to the increasing prominence of social media in high school life.

Head varsity football coach Ken Koenig gave his team distinct rules to follow throughout the season. Positive or negative, every electronic comment toward the Dexter football program had to be posted only on the Dexter Football Touchdown Club Facebook page.

If a player violates this social media restriction, he is suspended for a game.

“If you’re going to say it, it should be something that can be read by everybody,” Koenig said.

He said he wants his team to make their decisions based on the acronym C.H.I.P.: Character, Honor, Integrity, and Pride.

“CHIP is the filter that our guys should run their ideas through,” he said.

But there are some sports teams that don’t feel social media poses a significant threat.

The women’s varsity basketball team doesn’t have a social media contract in effect. According to Assistant Coach Lauren Thompson, the coaching staff doesn’t think such a contract is necessary.

“We feel like our players respect our wishes on social media,” she said. “We think that they do a pretty good job of representing us in the right way. We have a good relationship with our players, and we trust them. They understand the expectations we have for them.”

However, even with its positive attitude, the basketball team isn’t immune to social networking scandals.

“We’ve had to not start players before,” Thompson said. “We don’t have any tolerance for any kind of negative social media stuff about our team or our opponents. Part of being a part of our program is to have high standards for ourselves, and they understand that we carry ourselves a certain way.”

Despite not having a concrete social media contract in place, basketball players still face consequences for any inappropriate social networking. Thompson encourages her girls to act respectably.

“We try to keep things as positive as we can,” she said. “Obviously we can’t control what our girls tweet and facebook about, but we want them to be as positive about us and our opponents as we can. If we see something that’s negative that they’re Tweeting or Facebooking, there are definite team consequences.”

Social media didn’t used to exist. Now its role in sports is rapidly increasing, with athletes constantly having to keep emotions under control in their social lives.

Dexter High School Athletic Director, Mike Bavineau, fears that students use social media without considering the repracautions of their posts. Bavineau believes putting guidelines in place is a smart way to get athletes in the habit of thinking before posting.

“My biggest priority is to educate kids on what they need to know and how social media will impact them eventually. As for contracts, I think the coach has to lay the expectations down for each of their individual teams and how they want their programs to run, so if they decide that they want their teams to have a contract, I support that,” Bavineau said.