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”

Being Transgender at DHS

2016 graduate Marcus Maier shares his experiences of coming out as transgender during his senior year at DHS

By Megan Sarns

In our October issue, we published an article about the fight for transgender equity at Dexter High School and efforts to make Dexter Community Schools safer for everyone. In continuation of that piece, Marcus Maier, who graduated from DHS in 2016, wanted to come forward and share his personal story.

“Ever since I was younger, I always told people I wished I was born male,” Maier said. “When people say it’s not a choice, it’s really not a choice. It’s just there.”

Continue reading “Being Transgender at DHS”

Hidden Gems

screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-12-04-51-pm

Seva, located conveniently in the Westgate Shopping Center, is a restaurant specializing in vegan-vegetarian fare.

Upon entering on a Friday night, the place was busy, but my friend and I were seated right away. The vibe of the restaurant was reminiscent of most of the vegan restaurants I had been to; cozy, but with Ann Arbor hipster flair. It’s on the nicer side of casual, and definitely a restaurant suitable for a family outing or a date. The staff was young, many of them donning flannels and beanies over their Seva T-shirts. It isn’t a very large restaurant, but it’s not crowded. The tables are well-spaced, and it’s easy to navigate.

Although it is a vegan-vegetarian restaurant, Seva has a versatile menu. No, you can’t order a hamburger or a steak, but as someone who has been vegan for a year and an on-again-off-again vegetarian since middle school, I was pleased by the choices and ordered a spinach salad and cilantro-peanut stir fry.

The spinach salad, which came with chargrilled tempeh (fermented soy beans) in addition to the vegetables, was pretty standard, but perhaps a little overpriced at $13.

The stir-fry, which was $15, was a was a medley of vegetables over brown rice, with a “cilantro-peanut-ginger-lime sauce” that added flavor to what could have been another standard dish.

Overall, Seva offers a nice dining experience at a decent price. Although there isn’t  anything exceptionally stand-out about it, it’s a good option for vegans and vegetarians in the area.

seva

tlr

The Lunch Room triples as a vegan restaurant, bar, and bakery all tucked into a courtyard in Kerrytown. Finding the restaurant wasn’t particularly difficult, but finding the entrance posed a bit of a challenge. We ended up walking through a marketplace and considered asking one of the employees before we found it. Perhaps this could have been avoided if we had been more observant, but the layout is a little confusing.

Inside The Lunch Room, there’s a counter for placing your order with 15,000 bamboo skewers dipped in blue paint hanging above it, and I noticed several Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+, and feminist friendly stickers on the windows.

During the lunch rush, the restaurant operates on a “first come, first serve” basis, as there aren’t very many tables crammed into the small space and they don’t take reservations or call-ahead seating. Fortunately for us, there were two tables available when we arrived, and there were only three of us.

At the counter, I ordered pad thai and a side garden salad. The food was brought out by a few different servers. The only employee that was particularly kind to us was the person who helped us at the counter, but the service was quick and nothing to complain about.

The side garden salad was only $6 and very enjoyable. The pad thai, at $10, was full of bold flavors and was served with some of the best tofu I have ever had at a restaurant. It was great value; I had enough leftover for lunch for the next day.

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian or just someone who enjoys healthful eating, I would definitely recommend checking out The Lunch Room. It may be a little cramped and crowded, but the delicious food and eclectic atmosphere make up for it two times over.

the-lunch-room

Previewing a Trump Presidency

President-elect Donald Trump’s policies lack attention towards one of the most important issues: the environment

By Megan Sarns

In the words of Hillary Clinton, “…whoever wins this election, the outcome will be historic. We’ll either have the first female president or the first president who started a Twitter war with Cher.”

As of November 8, 2016, America voted to elect the latter.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you know Trump has, to put it kindly, some pretty radical ideas for how he wants to run the country. Many of these are highlighted on the “issues” page on his website.

This page consists of a series of videos you can watch where Trump sits in front of a generic background and yells at you for about a minute, saying everything from “being politically correct just takes too much time” and “we have a border that’s like a piece of swiss cheese.”

I watched every single one of these videos as well every section under his website’s “policies” page and something struck me. It wasn’t necessarily what Trump said he plans to do. I’ve been appalled by that long before I sat down to write this article. It was rather what he plans not to do and what he fails to prioritize.

Nowhere on Donald Trump’s website does he talk about the environment.

Looking beyond his website, it turns out Trump has talked  about his plans for the environment, albeit not in a good way.

Trump has spoken out against the Paris Agreement and says he plans to “cancel” it. The Paris Agreement, ratified in October 2016, requires countries to decrease greenhouse gas emissions with a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature as controlled as possible.

In addition, Trump also plans to cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency, a government agency that devotes its resources to “[protecting Americans] from significant risk to human health and the environment.”

Some sources, such as ClimateWire, have said that he has reportedly chosen a leader for his EPA transition team: Myron Ebell. The first sentence on Ebell’s Wikipedia page is “Myron Ebell is an American global warming skeptic.”

To clarify, that means the person Trump’s wants to put in charge of environmental concerns doesn’t even believe they’re happening.

On October 31, Trump made clear his position on this issue when he spoke at a rally in Warren, Michigan.

“We’re going to put America first,” he said. “That includes canceling billions in climate change spending for the United Nations…and instead use that money to provide for American infrastructure including clean water, clean air, and safety.”

Sure, “clean water, clean air, and safety” sounds great, but the context behind these cuts is disturbing. At the end of the day, it won’t matter if America is first, second, or even last, if Earth becomes unlivable.

We have elected into presidential office a man who disregards all scientific evidence of climate change and instead claimed that it was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive” in a tweet he made in 2012.

The fact that our planet is at risk has become a controversial political statement is appalling. We cannot afford four years of a president who refuses to acknowledge the problem, let alone take steps toward solving it.

Graduation Coach

Women’s basketball coach, Lauren Thompson, works with students to improve DHS graduation rate

By Megan Sarns

If you’ve been around Dexter Community Schools for a while, you’ve probably run into Lauren Thompson. With a list of credentials including (but not limited to) experience as a student teacher, substitute teacher, choir instructor, and women’s basketball and volleyball coach, Thompson is taking on a new role at DHS this year: graduation coach.

“My job is to make sure that every student at Dexter has the opportunity to graduate,” Thompson explained. “That can mean anything from providing resources and eliminating barriers…and working with counselors to create a plan for each student.”

Thompson provides academic support for students that otherwise may not get it, and that can make all the difference. “Kids like somebody holding them accountable,” she said.

Teachers don’t mind the extra help either. Teachers can recognize when their students might be struggling to keep up with their work, but with up to thirty students in each class, they may not be able to give every student the assistance they need. “Now, they know who to call and say ‘this student needs help.’”

Thompson was hired at the end of June, and the graduation coach program was recommended by superintendent Dr. Chris Timmis.

“In 2016, having a high school diploma is automatically expected,” Principal Kit Moran said. “[if a student doesn’t have a diploma] they are at a significant disadvantage.”

Because the graduation rate at DHS has dropped slightly over the past few years, having someone in the building whose job is specifically to deal with this problem and these students was found to be the best approach.

Leo Theisen, a senior at DHS, has always struggled in school. This year, he’s been working with Thompson and is already seeing improvement.

“My grades would be a lot worse if she wasn’t helping me,” Theisen said. “She’s helped me out with schoolwork and makes sure I turn in assignments.”

In addition to keeping an eye on his grades, Thompson works one-on-one with Theisen on his math homework and other problem areas.

“We have a relatively small [graduation] problem,” Moran explained. Currently, DHS graduates about 93 percent of their students. With each graduating class averaging around three hundred students, that statistic means that with every 1 percent drop, three kids aren’t graduating. “If [Thompson’s] intervention results in one kid getting a diploma that wouldn’t have otherwise, that’s huge.”

In regards to how her work could significantly impact the future of DHS students, Thompson said, “It’s a new adventure, but I feel very fortunate to be able to do this.”

LGBTQ+

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

By Megan Sarns and Julia Bell

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-11-31-34-am

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.

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-11-34-00-am

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.”

Millennials: #Voters Be Informed

Young people need to look beyond social media platforms while formulating political opinions

By Megan Sarns

The presidential race is a marketing campaign, and we are the target audience. Although few will be eligible to vote in November, millennials of all ages have been influential players throughout the entire process, from the initial debates and dwindling of candidates to primaries to the Democratic and Republican conventions.

Earning the support of young voters has always held significance; in a political landscape where a higher percentage of voters hover around the age of 45, locking down the 18-30 demographic can provide a boost to a candidate’s numbers on election day.

With that said, in this election, appealing to a younger audience seems all the more important, and politicians have had to adjust their campaigns to the way our generation is informed of political issues.

Why do politicians market to a younger audience? Young minds are malleable to change. Older voters are likely to have already committed to a political party and ideology and are harder to reach; young voters are still developing their ideas and opinions.

Social media makes them more accessible and allows politicians to speak directly to their audience.

If a political party is able to earn the support of someone while they’re young through the use of social media, they can nurture that support for life.

In earlier generations, parents had a dominant role in the beliefs of their children, but parents’ political influence has diminished as the information kids have access to has become harder to control due to the internet.

However, young people should be wary of the way politicians reach out to their audience. Millennials can be easily manipulated by tweets and trending hashtags that barely scratch the surface of what a politician or political party represents.

In a world of instant gratification and unlimited knowledge, the way information is processed is complex; to truly understand the product, the buyer needs to look beyond 140 characters.