Spring Break Horoscopes

Predicting your spring break with the characteristics of your zodiac sign

By Julia Bell and Megan Sarns

Aries: Aries are spontaneous and love to take risks. You may find yourself packing your bags on Friday night and hitting the road on Saturday morning.  While spontaneous trips are often the most fun, it is important that you find yourself in good company. You tend to be impatient and short-tempered and hours in the car with the wrong people is a recipe for disaster.

Taurus: Tauruses are a grounded sign that prefer familiarity and routine, so this spring break, you’ll mostly likely enjoy spending time at home. But you don’t have to take a lavish holiday to have a great time! In fact, there a plenty of fun things you can do without leaving the comfort of your house: binge-watching a show on Netflix, spending quality time with your family, studying the Communist Manifesto, or doing arts and crafts projects. Get creative!

Gemini: Gemini are indecisive and struggle to make plans; we’ll help you out. As a social sign, you love crowds. Set your sights on the biggest party destinations. This break you’ll meet a lot of new people and return to Dexter with many new friends. Buy a new bathing suit, pack your sunscreen, and make this break one to…remember.

Cancer: Spring break is the perfect opportunity to channel your imaginative mind into a creative project. You’ve been putting your artistic pursuits on the back burner this month, and it’s about time you roll up your sleeves! Whether it’s dusting off that guitar you haven’t played since last summer or painting an impressionist portrait of the family pet, work on improving your talents. Do it now, for soon it may be too late…

Leo: You’re a natural leader and you don’t like following the crowds.  This break avoid Panama City and Daytona Beach and lead the way to an exciting new destination. Take the road less traveled and discover a place that nobody has thought to explore. Since Leos like to be the center of attention, it may seem like a good idea to update your Snapchat story every 10 minutes. It’s not.

Virgo: You’ve been studying hard all semester, and now it’s time to relax. Whether you indulge in a luxurious spa getaway or, just pamper yourself at home, you favor a calm spring break to a wild adventure. But beware: amidst all the rest and relaxation, a new challenge will arise this month that will put your reserved and cynical nature to the test. I mean, we can’t tell you what it is or anything, but just take our word for it.

Libra: Libras love the outdoors. Pull out your Eno, grab a good book, and spend your days in the shade of your favorite tree. When the weather doesn’t permit peaceful hammocking, head to Quality 16 to catch that movie you’ve been waiting to see, or make some popcorn and cozy up on the couch with your siblings.

Scorpio: Scorpio’s are a notoriously passionate sign, and your spring break is going to be all about the romance. The relationship between you and your significant other may have been tested last month, but this month, you’ll be stronger than ever. For the single Scorpios, keep your eyes peeled for a handsome stranger while you’re at the beach. Spoiler alert: their name starts with a letter.

Sagittarius: As a Sagittarius you have been looking forward to spring break since school started this fall. You can’t wait to pack your bags and leave Dexter behind. Sagittariuses love traveling, and you have big plans for the coming weeks.  Whether you’re heading to the beach to catch some rays or the mountains to catch hypothermia, this break is sure to be the best one yet!

Capricorn: Capricorns are a smart and studious sign, but unfortunately that means bad news for spring break. In the days before break, one of your teachers is going to assign a massive project that will ruin your plans of a relaxing week off. But don’t worry, all your hard work will pay off in the end when you’re rewarded with an A. Feel free to show this horoscope to your teacher as evidence.

Aquarius: Aquarians are a humanitarian sign and tend to love others. This spring break is full of opportunity to lend a hand to those in need. Volunteer at an animal shelter, carry groceries for your elderly neighbor, or clean out your closet and donate your clothes to Purple Heart. However, don’t become so involved in helping others that you forget to take care of yourself.

Pisces: This spring break has you feeling like a fish out of water. You’ve been lonely and ignored by your friends this month, which may make spring break a difficult time for you. But your compassionate and adaptable personality means new friendships are on the horizon. You won’t be feeling like a lone wolf for long.

Memories from Members of DHS

Five years after the Dexter Tornado, two students, a teacher, and an administrator reflect on the how the day has changed their lives

By Megan Sarns and Julia Bell

Having formerly lived in Florida, sophomore Kara Young and her family are used to ominous weather conditions.

“We had hurricane after hurricane near our house,” she said.

So, when a storm started rolling into Dexter on March 15, she didn’t think much of it. The family was actually getting ready to go to church for weekly “Thursday night dinners.”

Continue reading “Memories from Members of DHS”

Valentine’s Day Horoscopes

Predicting your February love life with the characteristics of your zodiac sign

By Julia Bell and Megan Sarns

Aries: Communication is your key to relationship success this month, or it could be your downfall. If you’re in a relationship, a misunderstanding is on the horizon, so word your thoughts carefully (and make sure your spellcheck is on!) If you’re single this month, the relationship you’ve been pursuing may not be as out of reach as you think, but subtlety will prove unsuccessful. We’re talking grand gestures. Blimps are probably the way to go. Most compatible sign: Libra

Continue reading “Valentine’s Day Horoscopes”

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.

Air Jordan

At 17, Senior Jordan McGinnis is one of the nation’s youngest female pilots

By Julia Bell

When school ended last June, most students threw their backpacks in the closet and didn’t even consider picking up a book.  Jordan McGinnis, a senior at Dexter High School, spent hours every day with her nose inside of Gleim Test Prep, a textbook used to prepare for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Private Pilot License Exam. 

A private pilot license (PPL) is a certification that allows the holder to act as the commanding pilot of a private aircraft.  In the United States, you must be 17 years old to hold a private pilot license. 

Jordan turned 17 this May, and earned her PPL in September, making her one of the youngest female license-holders in the nation.  She is one of only 423 young women in the the United States between the ages 17 and 19 to hold a license.

Jordan discovered her passion for flying in seventh grade, but it has always played an important role in her life. Jordan’s father, Colonel John McGinnis, recently retired from the United States Marine Corps after 28 years of service. He spent many years as a fighter pilot and now flies commercially for Delta Airlines. Jordan has always been proud of her dad’s work, and now he feels the same pride towards Jordan.

“It’s been amazing watching Jordan work towards a goal over the course of two years,” he said. “[She’s made] a lot of sacrifices to complete what she started.”

Jordan began flying during the summer before 11th grade.  She participated in flight lessons every day from July through August.   The day before her father retired from the Marine Corps, after 20 hours of instructed flying, Jordan completed her first solo flight. “I didn’t know I was doing it that day,” she said. “I was up practicing take offs and landings and they were going well. When we landed my instructor asked how I felt about them and then asked how I felt about doing my first solo flight.” Jordan’s response was simple, “Let me call my mom first.”

During her junior year, school work took precedence over flying. “During junior year I only flew four times,” she said. “One was my first cross country flight, which was definitely scarier than my first solo flight. There was a really strong headwind, so we had to make an unexpected stop for fuel.” Once school ended, she began studying for her licensing exam. 

Jordan is a drum major for the Dexter High School Marching Band and a varsity cross country runner.  Between drum major responsibilities, cross country practice, flight lessons, and studying, Jordan was left with little time to relax this summer.  “As a student pilot you aren’t allowed to fly at night. One morning I got up at 4:45 to get to the airport at 6 so I could start flying as soon as it was technically day,” she said. “I had a band leadership seminar at 9 and had to go straight there from the airport. Afterwards we had a full band rehearsal.”

The FAA private pilot knowledge exam is a 60 question written exam. In order to pass the written portion, one must receive a score of 70 percent or above.  Jordan’s dedicated summer of studying earned her an exceptional score of 88 percent.  “I know that while I didn’t necessarily spend my summer how I hoped, I went in to both my check ride and FAA test feeling confident. That was huge for me,” she said. “I didn’t want to barely pass. I wanted to do well enough that when I finally got the chance to take people flying I could be confident.”

Last summer, Jordan attended a week long seminar at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Following graduation, Jordan hopes to attend either the Naval Academy or the Air Force Academy with the intent to serve in the United States Navy. Her long term goal is to become a fighter pilot. “I want to be a part of something that’s for a greater purpose and that’s why I want to go into the military,” she said. “I’ve known that this is something I’ve wanted to do since I was in seventh grade, and earning my private pilot’s license was the first step to getting there.”

LGBTQ+

Transgender students are at risk: Studies show creating safe, supportive school environments can have a big impact

By Megan Sarns and Julia Bell

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From the highly publicized transition of Caitlyn Jenner to the Target boycotts, the transgender community is being widely discussed. However, with this new platform comes controversy as to how schools should approach such a sensitive topic. Much of the controversy is rooted in confusion and misinformation.

When talking about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBTQ+) community as a whole, the idea of “equality” is widely spoken of. The word has good intentions but a complicated meaning. It’s a common misconception that equity and equality can be used interchangeably in terms of ensuring fairness. Equality refers to providing every individual with the same resources and opportunities.  It’s an imperfect system because individual strengths and needs are not always accounted for.

“Providing equality to students can provide more privilege to some students and still not provide enough opportunity to others, when given the same assistance,” said Autumn Campbell, art teacher and Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) facilitator at Dexter High School.

Equity, on the other hand, does identify the strengths and needs of students and helps everyone in different ways. The goal is for every student to be at the same baseline for success.

Just like any group of students with specific needs, transgender and gender nonconforming students that attend DHS now, or will in the future, require a specific type of assistance to thrive.

According to psychological studies, individuals identifying within the LGBTQ+ community are up to three times more likely to have a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. These conditions can sometimes lead to self harm, substance abuse, and even suicide.

“A lot of people don’t understand; they think these students are doing this because they want to or for attention,” DHS counselor and GSA facilitator, Kristie Doyle, said. “But when you look at the statistics, the evidence is there…these students are at a much higher risk for mental health conditions.”

This problem gained national attention when Caitlyn Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs in July of 2015. In her acceptance speech, she implored her audience to take notice of the staggering number of transgender youth that are bullied and abused by their peers and families to the point of considering suicide. According to a 2015 survey, 4.6 percent of Americans report having attempted suicide at some point in their lives. Within the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community, that number climbs to 20 percent; within the transgender community, it is 40 percent.

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In 2014, the death of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender high school student from Ohio, sparked a national conversation. When Leelah, born Jacob, attempted to come out to her parents as a transgender female, her parents refused to allow her to undergo transition treatment and sent her to conversion therapy instead. When she began coming out to her friends, her parents removed her from her high school and restricted her access to social media. She lost contact with the friends she was once able to confide in. Leelah committed suicide on December 28, by walking into oncoming traffic on the Interstate 71 highway. She was 17 years old.

Leelah posted her suicide note publicly on social media, posthumously turning her into a martyr for transgender youth across the world. Nevertheless, situations like these are all too common.

The reason transgender people are at a higher risk has been studied by countless psychologists over many years. Several factors have been cited, but one reason stands out above all the others: a lack of support within their families, peer groups, and communities. Even if a transgender student doesn’t have the support of their family or all of their peers, creating a supportive environment within school, a place where teenagers spend most of their time, has been known to have a big impact. Studies have shown that having a strong support system, wherever it is they can find it, can decrease a transgender person’s chance of committing suicide by more than 80 percent.

If a school is unable to provide accommodations to meet the specific needs of their transgender and gender nonconforming students, it doesn’t go without consequence.

Data posted by Trans Student Equality Resources in 2013 stated that 80 percent of transgender students report feeling unsafe at school, resulting in poor grades and difficulty advancing in their academic career, leading them to miss school regularly or drop out altogether.

“As an administrator, I want students to feel like they want to come [to Dexter High School] every morning,” Principal Kit Moran said. “There can be anxiety about a big presentation or a test…but when a student is anxious about coming to school and being harassed, that’s a problem.”

Working with the GSA, Autumn understands the importance of prioritizing the safety of these students.

“Our goal is to provide safe spaces for all students,” she said. “They shouldn’t have to wait for it to get better…it should be better now. All students should be able to thrive, not just survive, in our schools.”

There can also be consequences for the school if these students’ needs continually go unmet. Discrimination against any group of students based on race, class, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression by their school is a legal issue. Title IX, a portion of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

In 2014, a memo distributed by the U.S. Department of Education extended these guidelines to include transgender students. The memo reads that “All students, including transgender students, or students who do not conform to sex stereotypes, are protected from sex-based discrimination under Title IX.”

If a school ignores these guidelines, they are at risk for a lawsuit that would not only cost the school district lots of money, but their reputation as well.

In 2014, four Detroit-area schools were being sued for allegedly discriminating against a transgender student. The schools’ administrations allegedly subjected the student to continuous verbal abuse and banned them from using the restroom that coincided with the gender they identified with. This was only one of many nationwide cases.

In December of that same year, a court in Maine awarded the family of a female transgender student $75,000 in settlement after they won a lawsuit against her school administration for requiring her to use a staff restroom instead of the student girls’ restroom.

In regards to how DHS is handling themselves in situations like these, Moran’s answer is simple.

“We cannot discriminate against transgender students [at DHS],” he said. “The law said students can go in the bathroom of whatever gender they identify with…schools who don’t follow the law will not be supporting their students.”

Moran stated that DHS, alongside all other public schools in the country, received a letter from the Obama Administration last spring compelling them to regulate students’ access to bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity, rather than their biological sex.

Over the past year, this policy has become controversial (a federal court in Texas blocked the edict in August), but thousands of schools nationwide have chosen to follow its guidelines. Many have expressed concerns that a more fluid regulation of spaces, that were once specific to following the gender binary, could promote an increase in sexual assaults. The facts say otherwise.

Sources such as the Transgender Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union state there is absolutely no verifiable data to confirm reports of transgender people assaulting non-transgender people in public restrooms, and that claims of this nature are often fabricated to perpetuate violent stereotypes against the transgender community.

In fact, if anyone is at risk, all data points to the transgender people themselves. Studies suggest that approximately 70 percent of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals have been assaulted or otherwise harassed while using public restrooms. However, “bathroom bills” only work towards resolving a small part of the problem.

A study done by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2009 found that the systemic discrimination and abuse faced by trans people extends far outside the bathroom.

According to their surveys, transgender people face up to double the rate of unemployment (keep in mind that this survey was taken during the economic recession, when unemployment rates were already high), and 97 percent of those surveyed reported that they had been mistreated at work. They have also faced a high rate of poverty and homelessness, with 19 percent of the sample having been homeless at some point in their lives.

Solving this problem begins with acceptance.

“We want [students at DHS] to take what they learn into adulthood,” Moran said. “We’re known for having high test scores…our kids go to good colleges, but we also want to be known for being accepting of every student. It’s not just about educating [your brain] on math and science…we’re educating the whole part of you.”

An Unforgettable Summer

One year after an African experience the author traveled to India to help out another a less-developed country

By Julia Bell

After 39 hours, four airports, 7,000 miles, and zero sleep, I have arrived in India! I am immediately struck by the people.  There are so many of them.

They are speaking so fast in a language I have never heard.  I notice them staring as I pass by, and I find myself staring back.  My eyes are drawn to their clothing. The colors are as warm and welcoming as the people wearing them.

I am handed a wide-eyed baby boy, no older than a year, and pulled towards a flip-phone to be photographed.  A few teenage boys huddle around to snap a picture, and then rush to show their friends.

I’m on a big white bus with colored paint striped across both sides. It rattles as the wheels roll further and further down the left side of the road. There are no stop signs, lights, or speed limits.

We pass a couple rickshaws, a few trucks loaded with fruit, a handful of motorcycles, and a countless number of cows. We swerve in and out of traffic to the tune of loud car horns, which are eventually drowned out by the Bollywood music on the radio.

I am standing in front of the Golden Temple, on bare feet that were rinsed upon my arrival. I am surrounded by people from all walks of life and I feel genuinely welcomed.  We are given a tour of the dining hall, where volunteers prepare free meals each day for roughly 100,000 visitors. It’s uplifting to witness so many individuals interacting peacefully despite race and religion.

I wake up sick in the middle of the night and spend all morning in bed.  The discomfort of illness is much greater when you’re a day’s distance from home.

It’s now afternoon, and standing in front of a pile of rubble I can’t help but overlook my troubles as I imagine those faced by the 800 slum-dwellers who have recently been evicted from the slums and forced to spend days on the road with nowhere else to go.

Each morning of my remaining time in India would be spent volunteering at a summer camp. I would make my way down a steep and winding road to a field where I would be greeted by dozens of energetic children, eager to play. I spent countless hours kicking soccer balls, jumping rope, and drawing.

I found myself drawn to a young girl named Bindiya. Neither one of us could understand the others’ language, and we found it difficult to communicate with words.

Although I couldn’t tell her how much I loved India or how much I missed my friends and family, she always seemed to understand what was going through my mind.

In the afternoons, I would continue to gain a better understanding of the culture and people of India, as I explored the country and built relationships.

One afternoon, I found myself standing in a field with water up to my waist. I grabbed bundle after bundle of rice seedlings and transplanted them into the water. The sun beat down on my back and I quickly became exhausted. I sat down for lunch with a new appreciation for each grain of rice on my plate.

A few days later my backpack was tied to the back of a horse, and my boots were tied to my feet.  The monsoon rains poured down as I hiked my way through the Himalayas.  As the sun disappeared over the mountains, I climbed into a tent and fell asleep under the clear Indian sky.

As my time in India drew to an end, I bid farewell with a visit to the Taj Mahal.  To consider this ivory-white, marble mausoleum a New Wonder of the World is an understatement at best.  I stood among an enormous crowd of people, most Indian but many tourists, gazing in awe at the famous symbol of love.

After 21 days, 10 miles hiked, 9 games of cricket, and 40 cups of chai, I returned to the United States.  It was hard to believe how quickly the weeks had passed. I was excited to see my friends and family back home, but I wasn’t ready to leave my new friends and family on the other side of the world.

I will cherish the memories of this experience for the rest of my life, and I hope to return to India soon.

 

 

Julia Bell Makes a Difference One Country at a Time

By Caroline Darr

It’s a dream for many students to be able to travel the world. Some, like Junior Julia Bell, have aspirations to not
only travel, but to also leave an impact.

Bell received inspiration to go on service trips from members of
her family. One of her cousins lived in Haiti for several years and shared her stories and pictures from the country with Bell. After hearing of her cousins exciting experiences abroad, Bell decided
that she wanted to give back to the world in a similar way. Last summer, Bell went on a trip with an organization called Global Leadership Adventures (GLA) to Ghana, Africa. The trip consisted of three weeks in the West African country with other students from across the United States.

Continue reading “Julia Bell Makes a Difference One Country at a Time”