Meet the Debate and Forensics Clubs

Shining a light on two under-appreciated teams

by Isabella Franklin

When someone says the word forensics, it usually brings images of dead bodies, crimes, and investigations to mind. When someone says the word debate, people picture polished politicians calmly debating the state of American policy. But for kids in the speech activities club, they most likely picture their friends, a script, pages of research, and tired-looking, middle-aged judges staring at them from across a desk.

Speech activities is an entirely different world from many other activities, even other clubs, so it’s not surprising that it’s so widely misunderstood. After all, public speaking is consistently found to be the most common fear amongst Americans, so this begs the questions: why do these students choose to speak publicly, and what exactly is it that they do in these clubs?

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Club Sport Struggles

The difference between school and club sports is unfair

By JIllian Chesney

Here at Dexter High School, there are many sports that are not recognized by the school, and subsequently are categorized as club sports. Field hockey, lacrosse, freshmen baseball, water polo, and equestrian are the club sports at DHS. These sports are only given a varstiy letter if they meet the set requirements. Continue reading “Club Sport Struggles”

Latest SPACE Show Was a Success

By George Deljevic

On May 20th, the talented Dexter High School students of the SPACE Club performed in front of a huge audience in the high school CPA.

Acts such as Barry Megler, Stewie Weber, Jake Lamb, Zach Barnes, and singer Kate Emrich redid the hit single “Let it Be.” The talent didn’t stop there, Craig Rafail performed one of his songs and blew the crowd away with his amazing guitar skills.

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#FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS

Backpack weight

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

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

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

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High school discusses weighted grades

The Board of Education met and discussed proposed changes to the weighted grade system at the high school at its regularly-scheduled meeting on March 17. Although Dexter High School already has weighted grades for all Advanced Placement courses and International Baccalaureate Higher Level (HL) courses, the proposed change will branch out to include IB Standard Level (SL) courses as well.

IB HL classes span over the course of two years, whereas IB SL classes cover only one year. HL classes are thought to be more difficult than SL classes, but both levels are considered rigorous based on their external moderation.

During the 2012-2013 school year, a committee that included administrators, teachers and parents met to discuss the possibility of weighted grades at the high school.

“Once we decided that we would weigh grades at the high school, the next question needed to be: ‘What classes are we going to weigh?’” Principal Kit Moran said.

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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.

Evacuate the dance floor

Juniors Rem Vermeulen and Trevor Hilobuk dance with the dance team during the halftime show of the men's basketball teams Valentine's Day game between Chelsea and Ypsilanti.
Juniors Rem Vermeulen and Trevor Hilobuk dance with the dance team during the halftime show of the men’s basketball teams Valentine’s Day game between Chelsea and Ypsilanti.

Junior Spencer Vollmers was waiting in the hallway for his cue.  As the dance team started their routine during halftime, Vollmers several of his male classmates ran out to join them.

“I was nervous,”  Vollmers said.  “I couldn’t  breathe for about half of it.”

This stress was the result of Vollmers and 15 other junior and senior men joining  the all-female dance team during halftime of the Valentine’s Day men’s basketball game between Dexter and Ypsilanti.

This idea was the brainchild of dance coach Erin Shaver, who said she jumped at the idea of having a dance that involved some of the male body of DHS.

“I’ve had a great time with guy/girl dances in the past,” Shaver said.  “When I saw there was a game on Valentine’s Day, it was an easy decision.”

Unlike Vollmers, senior Jeff Wicks said he wasn’t nervous during the dance. His butterflies came before the dance.

“During the dance, I wasn’t nervous because the adrenaline rush and support from the crowd got me going,” Wicks said.  “I was probably more nervous before the dance because I didn’t want to mess up in front of the crowd.”

But the stress was worth it because Wicks wanted to support the dance team for all they’ve done for DHS athletics.

“The dance team has always been really supportive of the student section and Dexter athletics,” Wicks said. “I thought why not give back to the dance team.”

But with only a week to practice, Wicks and the other guys had a lot to learn.

“The practices were actually pretty difficult,” Wicks said.  “It was pretty difficult to learn that much material in such short amount of time, especially for a lot of people who are so uncoordinated and really don’t dance very often.”

But junior Delaney Garcia said having the men perform brought a more interesting aspect to practice and improved over the short span they had.

“At first they were kinda confused,” Garcia said.  “They got a lot better, and the practices were a lot more fun than just the regular dance team because of the different dynamic it brought. I think they did good, for such little time we had to teach them.”

Junior Sarina Wolf agrees and said she was impressed by their dedication.

“They were actually pretty into it the day of the game,” Wolf said.  “We told them they could stay till 5, and the guys wanted to stay over 5 to practice more.  They were super excited, and we weren’t expecting them to have that much dedication.”
 As for Shaver, she said the men performed well and she would love to do something like this again.

“It was very clear that they wanted to do a good job, and I thought the guys did a great job at the performance,” Shaver said.  “I thought they represented the dance team very well, and I’d happily invite them back next year.”

More dance team information:

The varsity dance team is coming off a season that saw them finish 1st in pom, 1st in high kick and 2nd in hip hop during their competitive season.

“Last year was a transitional year for the team as it was my first year as their coach,” Coach Erin Shaver said.  “With my dance team experience the girls were held to a higher standard than ever.”

Although this is a good result, Shaver has higher expectations for the team.

“My expectations for competition this year is to meet or exceed our placement at our last competition last year,” Shaver said.  “I think they can do it.”

This year’s team features one senior, Sarah Griffith.

“Griffith is my one senior captain this year and she truly is the heart team,” Shaver said.  “She’s a great motivator, choreographer, and ambassador.  She has really shaped the team and will be VERY missed in future season.”

Having Griffith as the only senior on the team, brings a different dynamic to the team and is better for the team morale.

“I think it’s better because we don’t have so many opinions going against each other,” junior Delaney Garcia said. “Overall, there’s just less conflict.”

 

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.”