By Colin Strang
With movements such as #MeToo, celebrities and the media are doing very important work by bringing attention to sexual assault, letting victims know that they aren’t alone, and empowering people to come forward. The important thing that many people are missing about the movement, though, is that victims and perpetrators aren’t only celebrities who come out about their experiences or get exposed for their mistakes: they’re people all around us that we see everyday. Dexter isn’t exempt from this issue—we can’t ignore the issue within our own community, especially not within the high school.
The Squall conducted a study about sexual assault and harassment within Dexter High School. The results showed that almost half of the students at DHS think the school doesn’t take sexual assault seriously enough.
“I have close friends and generally know about other people who find it okay to joke about sexual assault and harassment,” freshman Oliver Walton said. “They feel it’s an okay thing to joke about among other friends who have not experienced it in any way.” Continue reading “Dexter, Too”
Once every fall, parents of Dexter students visit the high school for an hour or more of conversations with teachers they don’t know and about classes they probably aren’t familiar with at parent-teacher conferences. By the second semester, the information isn’t relevant anymore, due to the fact their students’ classes, teachers, and overall performance are likely all different.
Since many parents may forget what they learn at conferences and get no point of reference for the next semester, one conference isn’t enough to inform them of how their students are doing. Often, just looking at a student’s grades isn’t enough to understand the big picture of that student’s performance, since social factors and behavior also play a role in education. As such, parents need a far more reliable and consistent mode of communication than one conference a year.
The concept of parent-teacher conferences isn’t inherently flawed—it’s important for parents and school faculty to have a dialogue in order to help their students succeed in school, and conferences are a great way to accomplish that. The issue lies in the only official, scheduled form of communication that parents and teachers have during the school year being once-a-year conferences. Not only that, but also having the conference at the beginning of the year means that parents don’t see the change, or lack thereof, in their students’ performances. By second semester, classes have changed and students themselves have changed.
Even if parents could realistically get the full scope of school performance from one meeting, they might not go to conferences. Most parents have to work, run errands, and care for other children every weekday; therefore, they don’t have time to visit the school on a normal evening. The school does try to remedy this by making it half day and running conferences from 1-4 p.m. and 5:30-8 p.m., but this still doesn’t mean that every parent will be able to attend. Other parents may not attend simply out of laziness or lack of care, which is unfair to the student. Parents need more than one official opportunity to meet with teachers throughout the year.
“First semester needs more time, because freshmen are coming in, and if a student’s having trouble you want to catch it early in the year,” English teacher John Heuser said. “But I think having something second semester would be valuable.”
Teachers of semester-long classes are also put at a disadvantage by the lack of a second semester conference.
“I teach semester-long courses, so when I switch students I don’t get to meet their parents,” Heuser said. “I like what we do, but I don’t think touching base with parents second semester is a bad idea.”
Some may argue that curriculum night and open house are opportunities for teachers and parents to meet, but these aren’t useful for anything but meeting a teacher and the understanding general goals of a course. At the beginning of the year, teachers don’t know students’ personalities or abilities, and parents can’t gain any information about how a student is doing from these meetings.
“There’s not enough time to distinguish between teachers,” psychology and sociology teacher Tracy Stahl said. “Parents might feel good about knowing who’s going to be in front of their students every day, but beyond that I don’t think it has any greater significance.”
Hosting a conference once each semester would be a great step toward involving parents in education and helping students receive the support that they need. In addition, guardians could be allowed to sign up for classroom notifications to see what work their student needs to be doing. Teachers need to further establish a connection with their students’ parents in order to keep them up-to-date.
As new seniors feel entitled to the crown of the school, views on the average day changes every year. This change is meant to fit the mold on how the seniors imagined their final year of high school. So, with this comes the basic rules of Dexter High School’s social hierarchy.
Wow, congrats! You guys survived your tween years and lives as middle schoolers. You have finally made it to high school.
The next four years are going to be some pretty fantastic years. But since you’re coming into our (Seniors ’17) school, we would like to set some guidelines.
Of course there are some obvious ones that don’t need to be mentioned, but I will name a couple just to get the ball rolling.
First, we would like to talk drinking fountains. They are helpful if you have a water bottle or even need to wet your whistle. But turning the fountain head towards the person so when they push it, not realizing what had been done, get water on their shirt and pants is despicable. Most people spot the prank before it happens, and c’mon, you are in high school now.
Next: the hallways. We have five minutes between each class. This time is great to talk to your friends, get a drink of water (as previously stated), and say hello to your significant other (more to come later). One main common mistake everyone has to adjust to, especially freshmen year, is that blocking the hallway isn’t okay.
Blocking the hallway includes, but is not limited to the following: stopping in the middle of the hallway, creating a long line at the drinking fountain, and sitting outside a classroom that is locked. This is high up there on things you can do to annoy other people at DHS, but there may be one that tops the list.
Public Displays of Affection (PDA). Trust us. We get it. Most of the relationships you experience are short and full of puppy love. Now, everyone has gone through this stage, so we all try to understand and remember. Nevertheless, we also know you can wait until 2:51 PM to have that makeout sesh (session) with your significant other. We all would appreciate it.
As far as the things you can do. As you enter high school you are given a lot more freedoms at school. Teachers start to trust you and you start to get privileges you haven’t experienced at school yet.
For example, nobody dismisses your table for lunch anymore; once you get to the lunch room, you can eat. Believe it or not, this is just the beginning. You have a bigger selection of classes, more extracurricular options, and a wider variety of teachers to help and provide different teaching styles.
Starting high school is a big step in your life. And take it from the seniors writing this article, it goes by super fast. So soak up every fantastic, stressful, boring moment you get in the four years you are about to start.
The less than notable year that is your freshman semesters of high school are over. You are now a real, functioning facet of our high school that we (and most other high schools nationwide) like to call sophomores. Your days of Earth Science noodle structures and spoonfed criteria are over.
Now that you’ve passed your easy breezy first year of high school, you are no longer the bottom of the totem pole. The Pythagorean theorem is a thing of the past, right? Wrong! Don’t make the mistake of failing to challenge yourself this year. Take advantage of the provided classes that can set you up for success in your dreaded junior year. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is carrying over your lazy tendencies from freshman year to your sophomore year. Don’t be that student.
Along with freshman year tendencies, your actions shall NOT carry over. Your decision to make your mark freshman year is one of (hopefully) deep thought and time. Whether that mark was positive or negative, the same shenanigans you pulled freshman year will not fly. You’re a different person, a year older, and you represent our school. If you do decide to take the route of immaturity, leave it all in the classroom. Another one of the biggest mistakes you can make is taking it to Twitter.
Read a book for God’s sake. Like the ones you (didn’t) read freshman year English. Organize! Keep that backpack clear of all trash. You’ll need the space for the textbooks that you should be carrying around and using to your advantage. There’s no complaining when all of your resources are in front of you. Don’t be that guy who’s too scared to ask Mr. Heuser for help on an essay. He’s like the coolest guy ever. Take your time and ask the questions that need to be answered. After all, you’ll need to know by next year.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. The three things you are called to do your sophomore year. Just as you would prep for a hurricane or other natural disasters of sorts, you are to prep for the coming storm. Your junior year; and that storm is brewing.
“On to the next one” – lyrical genius ‘Jay-Z’
Brace yourselves. This year really will suck. I know, I know, that sounds like the most cliche thing in the world. At the beginning of junior year, things seem okay. They can even seem pretty good. Then all of the sudden you have two papers on Tuesday, a Pre-Calc test Wednesday morning, an APUSH project due Thursday, and a basketball tournament over the weekend. These are usually the times where you find yourself laying face-down in your bed, too overwhelmed to even eat. You don’t want to get to this point, so here are some helpful tips to prevent having a mental breakdown every other hour.
Get a planner, keep the planner on you at all times, and actually use it. Time management is so important when you have what seems like a million assignments. You want to stay ahead as much as you can. When you get an assignment, start working on it the earliest chance you get. Do not put off studying until the night before, and don’t wait until 10 on a Thursday night to start a paper due in class the next day. Do your big assignments the same day you get them, and get as much done as early as possible. You can do that 10-minute vocab assignment at lunch; you can’t write a full essay.
Every spring, juniors prepare for the SAT/ACT. You should too. Take a prep course, review your basic math and reading skills, and actually get a decent amount of sleep the night before. Knowing the material is important. What’s more important, though, is not stressing out about the standardized test too much. Your future really does not count on the SAT. Yes, the SAT is important; however, you can retake it, and once you get to college it won’t mean anything. More and more schools are making the decision to not require SAT/ACT scores as sometimes they aren’t accurate reflections of the student. That being said, you still have to try. Many schools still want to see your score. Just try not to stress yourself out about it too much.
With all the stress, you can’t forget to have some fun. Go to the football and basketball games. Go out to the corn maze. See the school plays. Do what you enjoy doing. This year may be your hardest year academically, but plenty of things can be done to lessen your stress.
But, congratulations! You made it to the upperclassmen years of high school. No longer can people tell you, “you were a freshman last year; you can’t say anything about hating them” or “you’re literally 12” because you aren’t anymore! Just make sure you know where you belong; you aren’t seniors yet. If a senior wriggles in front of you at the game, don’t yell and complain. They don’t care that you’ve been there since 3:30. They’ve been in your place before and have seniority.
This is the year you get to have fun, but not too much fun. You’re finally free of the shackles freshman year places on you and that follow you (aka haunt you) as you complete sophomore year. Concentrate on school work, get stuff done, but don’t let it stress you out to an unmanageable point.
Guys, we made it. We’ve suffered for three years to get to this point, but we’re finally here. This is the year we get to rule the school. Here’s a little advice on how to spend your final year in grade school.
Make the absolute most of it. Go to every football game, every basketball game, dress up on spirit days, go to school plays, go to Homecoming and Prom (especially Homecoming — it can be as much fun as you make it, so make it amazing), build relationships with your teachers, and mend old relationships with classmates. Pretty much do anything you want to do (within reason, and don’t be rude about it either).
This is your last year with the protection of a house to come home to each night, and having all your closest friends around you all the time. You don’t want to wake up on graduation morning and realize you regret how you spent your last year in Dexter. Pretty soon all of us will be spread out around the country, maybe even outside of the country, and will be forced into a world of financial management and all-nighters writing term papers.
Work hard to get where you want to be in the fall of 2017. If that happens to be Stanford, you’d better already have your application essays written (if this is where you want to go, I have no doubt your applications are almost already completely finished and you’ve already had multiple interviews with admission reps). If that happens to be WCC, start getting your application together, because the process can be long. The point is, this is the last year you have before you aren’t guided through life. Now is the time to bust a little ass to give yourself the best opportunity to thrive once next September comes around. Working hard doesn’t stop after acceptance. You can’t just screw around after declaration day. You still have to work to maintain your grades; colleges can always revoke acceptance.
With all this newly found seniority, occasionally check yourself. Just because you’re a senior doesn’t mean it’s cool for you to push around the freshmen, or make fun of them for being confused as to where the fifth floor is. The poor little guys looking like Nemo on the first day, alone in a big open ocean, is just trying to find someone they know. If you see a freshman — or anyone for that matter — looking completely lost or helpless, give them some help. I promise, it won’t bring you down in social status.
This is our last year. We have 278 days from today before we are officially Dexter High School graduates. Whether that number seems large or small to you, it will go faster than you believe. We have 278 days to make the most of. Here’s to us. The only thing left to say is that this year is going to be L17.
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.”
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