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By: Sena Busacker 

Living in a small world

with a big dream,                                                          

I don’t have time

to keep track of my life.

I wish the season was summer

no matter what season it is.

I always will be busy

following a big dream.                              

If only I knew my loved ones would

help me…

I may be too young

to have a big dream

but it’s never too late to believe.

I hear a voice of an angel-

She says, “This is your time to make it bright.”

I feel my heart play a drum, it’s warm and punchy.

Knowing that the dream

will taste like summer of love

is reassuring.

I know I will get there,

I have to hang in there,

but sometimes you don’t always get what you want.

even when you try so hard.

I came here to know what it’s like

 to have a big dream

living in a small world

someday, someone will be by your side

help your dream along through

Life is too short to wait

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Sports: College athletes should not be paid

NIKKI NAIDU

Simply put: college students are not professional athletes who are paid inducements and salaries for a career in sports. Through their participation in sports, college athletes earn access to a college education often accompanied by a scholarship that covers tuition, book fees, room and board and numerous other expenses. Collegiate sports is not career or profession, it is an aspiring athlete’s road to success and higher education. That is all it should be.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) website, the average yearly scholarship for an athlete at in-state public school is $15,000, in an out of state school it is $25,000 and for a private university $35,000. These scholarships are only awarded to the elite- the outstanding student athletes who are valuable to schools in a plethora of ways. This even gives student athletes a distinct advantage over their peers. Student athletes have the ability to graduate without the burden of massive student loans over their heads, while the majority of students are not given that luxury.

College athletes are paid not with money but with their education. In addition to higher education, players learn values that go beyond the classroom and will be translated into the workforce that go beyond school. At the end of the day these are the most important things, and if all of this comes on the dime of the university, there is no reason for student athletes to receive payment.

Guilderland High School (GHS) student Ania Alberski believes that colleges athletes should be focused on learning because that’s why they are in college in the first place. She says, “It’s kind of ridiculous that kids can get scholarships to good colleges based on their athletic ability since they don’t have much to offer academically.” She adds that, “Most of these athletes are like trophies- they are only there to make the school look more appealing and renowned.” It is unfair to take away scholarship opportunities from those who work hard and deserve it, and give those scholarships to athletes who are solely focused on their sport.

If universities began to pay athletes, there would most definitely be a widening gap between those students who work extremely hard to make ends meet and the star athletes who receive scholarship money in addition to an income. This would not only create a disparity amongst peers, but also between large and small universities. Large universities with great sums of revenue would buy out all of the best players for their teams, leaving the smaller schools at an unfair disadvantage.

Just last year, University of Texas athletic director Steve Patterson revealed that his university will soon begin paying its student-athletes in every sport, male and female. UT expects to spend $6 million annually on the endeavor, which works out to roughly $10,000 per athlete per year. The money will cover college expenses that aren’t covered by traditional scholarships and give each player $5,000 in compensation for the use of their image. The latter is in connection to the O’Bannon lawsuit. While an athletic department like Texas- the most profitable in the country, can easily cover these expenses, other schools are intimidated that cuts in sports could be casualties from these additional payments to athletes.

GHS student Ryan Mcklusky agrees with UT’s endeavor stating that “student athletes should be given money to spend leisurely because most of them are exploited by a huge money making industry.” However, isn’t college life all about being broke and working hard to make ends meet? If athletes are paid, they are on the verge of being spoiled and losing sight of their motivation and work ethic.

Furthermore, the disparity would widen even more with the question of equal wages amongst male and female athletes. The NCAA reported that 28.3 million viewers watched the 2015 NCAA men’s Division I National Championship between Wisconsin and Duke. They also reported that there were 3.1 million viewers for the 2015 NCAA Women’s Division I National Championship between Notre Dame and UConn. Obviously, these numbers vary vastly and the statistics show that more people are interested in watching men play sports than watching women play sports. The same goes for Division II and Division III sports, why shouldn’t athletes of all gender be paid the same amount for equal practice, performance, and play? It’s all because of statistics that are prejudiced, unfair and bound to spiral into much worse problems with female athletes entering the arena to fight for equal pay.

At UNC Asheville, track and field runner Kelsie Rubino was unaware on her school’s decision to pay only the men’s and women’s basketball players, but not the scholarship athletes in 12 other sports. “I don’t think that’s fair! I don’t understand why some students are going to be paid and others aren’t,” Rubino stated. “I feel like we all put in the same amount of work and effort, and I thought we were all one big family.”

Several people argue that student athletes are like machines, toys that are labored away for a multi-billion dollar business. That is far from the truth. Whether these athletes pan out as professionals or not, they made a name for themselves and they are graduating from college debt free. The NCAA graduation rate for student athletes is 60%. This means that 40% of student athletes are transferring schools, dropping out, or simply unable to graduate. The majority of the time, it is the latter and this makes it more difficult for unsuccessful athletes to find jobs in the work force later on. Paying student athletes would only increase the percentage of those unable to graduate, because they would become too confident of their skills and become even more unmotivated to focus on academics.

Northwestern University football players filed a petition last year to form a labor union and by popular vote, a ruling allowed for the formation of this union. Since when does getting the chance to play a game you love everyday constitute as a job? College athletes need to recognize their opportunity as a privilege, that most people often don’t get to have. Essentially, if athletes do work hard enough to get to the professional level, then they can make a job out of it. College athletes are invited to play at top notch universities because of their passion and love for the game, which makes them excel at it. When you combine wages with college sports, this passion is lost. Becoming a student athlete is about pride and the intense passionate gratification that a win brings to a team and all of its fans, it should not be a measure of material value.

College is a place for people to obtain a degree to help jumpstart their “real world” career aspirations. Whether people want to capitalize on that opportunity or not, it is completely on them. College is not a place for athletes to get paid to play sports, and that is why the professional level of athletics exists. It is important to remember that “student” comes first in “student athlete.”

Sports: College athletes must be paid

EDDY YU

Should college athletes be paid? This has been a big question for the past decade. Until recently, the National Collegiate Athletic Association(NCAA) has said no, and labeled college athletes as amateurs who would not get paid. Is this fair? Or is it exploitation? College football and basketball programs generate billions of dollars every year. Where does all this money go if the players don’t get a cent? I’ll tell you where the money goes, it goes to the NCAA, the universities, tv programs, and coaches. Many college athletes work just as hard as the pros with top football and men’s basketball players putting up to 60 hours a week in games and practices. That’s longer than most adults work. On top of that, they have to attend classes and get their hw done. Yet they’re not getting paid! It just doesn’t make sense. Often sports don’t allow student athletes to find a job or to get an intern, which many other students obtain to make ends meet.

Many people believe that many college athletes have the “good life.” The average FULL scholarship athlete accumulates an average of 3,200 dollars of debt each year because meal plans and other incidentals often aren’t fully covered. Shabazz Napier, star playing of the reigning NCAA basketball champion University of Connecticut last year who is now in the NBA, once said “There are nights that I go to bed and I’m starving.”  How can that be right? A star whose image was used on TV all over nation, whose jerseys are sold all over the country, doesn’t have enough money for food? For the very reason that they aren’t earning money when they should and they need to, there are college athletes that end up dropping out of college, and missing out on key education in hope of joining the pros and earning some very-much needed cash.

Even if colleges don’t pay athletes, someone should. Endorsements. What are endorsements? To put it frankly, in this sense, an endorsement is a company or business paying an athlete to sponsor them or be in commercials for them. Why aren’t college athletes aren’t allowed to go make money for themselves? Who is Jeremy Bloom? A football player? A skier?  He is in fact both or was until the NCAA stepped in. Olympian and World Champion skier Jeremy Bloom attended the University of Colorado, and played football there for two years, hoping one day to play in the NFL(National Football League).  According to the NCAA’s long list of rules, college athletes aren’t allowed to have endorsement deals. On the other hand, the United States Olympic Committee encourages endorsements as international travel is expensive and in order for Bloom to continue skiing, he needed to obtain these endorsements. Bloom knew that the NCAA banned endorsements so he sued them on that issue but eventually decided to defy the NCAA and take up endorsements. It was either that or give up skiing. He tried everything he could to not make these endorsements have anything to do with the NCAA. He made sure his sponsors were not football related and never mentioned football in them.. However, the NCAA found out and banned him from playing the college sport he loved, football. As a result, Bloom missed his chance to play football as an upperclassman. “I did all these things to prepare and I worked hard and the one thing I really wanted was to start at receiver. To look back and think that it wasn’t my ability that kept me from doing that, it was an organization…I thought that was really unfair.” Bloom said.

In many colleges, sports are a bigger priority than education, as coaches tell students to switch classes if it conflicts with practice. Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel used to play football at the Texas A&M University. He was once suspended when he was paid for signing autographs. The NCAA rule is that players cannot sell their image or likeness for profit. The problem is…that’s exactly what colleges do with their star players. It’s estimated that when Manziel won the Heisman trophy in 2012(awarded to the best college football player every year), $37 million dollars in profit was generated through media exposure for the university. Additionally, Texas A&M raised $740 million dollars in fundraising that year, $440 million dollars more than the school’s old record. No doubt that a large percentage of that huge increase is a result of star Johnny Manziel’s image being broadcast on television all over nation. So universities are cashing in, television stations are cashing in, coaches are paid millions, and who are they only one’s that aren’t? The players themselves. Why are the coaches being paid so much when some players are equally or more responsible for bringing money to the universities?

The National College Players Association and Drexel University conducted a joint study on Football Bowl Subdivision colleges which includes all the top football colleges. They discovered that of the players that earned a “full” scholarship, 85% of players who lived on campus lived below the federal poverty line and 86% of players living off campus lived below the federal poverty line. This study also showed that the fair market value of an average FBS football player was $121, 048 and the average FBS basketball player to be $265, 027. If these student athletes are worth so much, why are they still living in poor conditions?

Ed O’Bannon played basketball for UCLA. In 2009, over 10 years after graduating, he realized that his image was used in a video game without his consent and without compensation. He then fired a lawsuit against NCAA and EA Sports(the videogame company). This lawsuit quickly became popular as 19 other former college athletes soon joined this lawsuit. Judge Claudia Wilken and the court ruled in favor of Bannon and declared the NCAA ban on players being paid for their image illegal. Starting in the spring of 2016, athletes in top football and basketball programs will have to be paid at least $5,000 a year for their image being used on television and for video games. However, this money will be placed in a trust account, that players can only access after they graduate college which doesn’t help many who are scraping to get by. Nevertheless, it’s a start in bringing change to the strict harsh rules of the NCAA and in the near future, perhaps finally college athletes will be paid what they deserve.

Opinion: For good education reform, listen to teachers

RAFI NAZAM

Education: Frequently seen as a human right by many, often used as a political battleground to wield ideology by others. Of course, on a local scale, such statements do not always wholly apply, but the flaws that exist in education today are not exempt from Guilderland. These flaws have been magnifying since education was something controlled by the government, and today they are at their peak. But there is never always agreement on what exactly these flaws are, or their central causes. Many blame the lack of funding, or Governor Cuomo, or the Department of Education, or the wealth gap, or many other things. But who’s saying this? These opinions we consume and receive come from such places as news articles found on the internet, they don’t always tell the whole story. It’s snapshot coverage of pinpoint issues, focusing on one thing at a time so as not to confuse us. I didn’t like that. So I decided wanted to go and find out everything myself.

I wanted to know more about this struggle taking place in education, approaching it from different angles. A problem is rarely as simple as being caused by singular sources. It isn’t just poverty, it isn’t just the State, it isn’t just Governor Cuomo, it isn’t just teachers, it isn’t just any one thing. It’s all of those coexisting within the same country, within the same world, affecting each other and all having a collective impact on how children are educated. To deny that would be to deny the complexity of the world we’ve created for ourselves. The first angle that I approached this topic from was through the internet, watching videos and reading articles on the topic of flaws that exist in the current education system. I came across many on the topic made by Salman Khan, the founder of KhanAcademy, a site that contains video-lectures dedicated to making learning easier. Sal had a great many things to say on the topic, presenting generally the same points wherever he spoke, whether it was at his TED talk or speaking with Charlie Rose, all centering around fixing education. He described his points in detail, bringing up how education today uses a one-size-fits-all model, not caring about individual progress. And in saying all of this, I wondered just how much better education would be if we considered these ideas. And I wondered why we weren’t considering these ideas. More and more videos were watched, more and more articles were read. I eventually reached the conclusion that the State itself was what was stopping us. But how, exactly, did they remove such possibility? Just how tight was their grip on us?

And so, I went to the teachers. They who receive instruction from the state, then pass it to us. I knew they’d have information and opinions related to this matter. Videos and articles wouldn’t be enough. I interviewed a large number of teachers, asking them a set of questions that would get them to tell me something about how the state affected their jobs. The first thing that I had asked them about was standardized testing. Though most saw the needs for having standards to hold students and teachers accountable towards, they believed that the way in which the state used them was misguided and unfair, currently only used due to how efficient current methods of testing are.

Initially, I questioned them about the control the state has over their curriculum. Most if not all told me that the state gives them a certain list of topics/areas that are required to be covered during the year, guidelines to keep them from straying. However, the state has no say in how these topics are taught, leaving that up to the teachers. That part, to me, was pleasantly surprising, as I had (jokingly) expected a much more grim answer.

Next I asked them about budgets and funding. Many complained about how funding was tight, cutting down on the number of teachers in each department, increasing class sizes. This example was made evident to me by numerous teachers in many of my classes. It was very clear that teachers had a more difficult time managing classes and meeting with students due to the sheer numbers of children each one had to teach. Something a teacher had said last year really strikes me today, now that I look back at it; “I don’t have time, I’ve got 120 students.” More and more is expected of both students and teachers all at the same time degrading the environments we’re told to succeed in.

When approached about the subject of how teachers are currently evaluated, almost all of them told me about APPR. It’s a system of evaluating teachers based on observations(which were already in place) and statewide testing grades. 60% is based on observation and 40% based on exam scores such as the regents. Previously, evaluations were based purely on observation, not factoring in any test scores. While it was generally agreed upon that test scores were a useful metric of measuring student progress, the catch here was that each staff member would be judged on these scores. A teacher in the Math department may receive a lower overall score due to lesser average regents scores in science. This type of system holds each teacher accountable for areas they do not have control over, instead of looking at them individually for their strengths and weaknesses. Another flaw in the new system is the use of outside observers. Previously, all observations on teachers were done by the staff that worked here, but the new system plans to use people from outside the district to eliminate any possible bias. While the idea here doesn’t seem ill-intentioned, the problem is that the state, like with many issues, is not clear on how exactly this is going to be implemented. Always giving initiatives to follow but never telling people how to follow through.

The grand takeaway is that in this new era of government overreach, more and more control is being placed on our schools in an effort to catch up with the rest of the world. I do not absolve any blame from teachers themselves, nor ourselves, nor the state. It is through our complacency that we allowed this happen, and it is through the state that the bureaucracy enacts these measures.   We are sacrificing our own autonomy so that we might receive guidance, but in the end it constrains us, taking too much and giving us too little. I can only hope that we as students, we as people, can try to change education for the better, abandoning old dogma in place of free-thinking.

Opinions: High schools must do more to prepare students for the SAT

ANGELO AMORE

The SAT is a notorious test that millions of high school students across the country unwillingly take each year. It is a test that proves what students learn in high school. It is a test that colleges view as almost an ultimate measure of intelligence. It is a test that directly compares me to the next student. It is a test that public high schools across the country refuse to teach. Why wouldn’t high schools offer students a class on the SAT, a test that matters so much on an application? High schools offer everything but SAT prep. A public high school like Guilderland provides students with the opportunity to perform and excel in all academic and non-academic criteria that colleges look for in applications. The lack of test preparation in schools burdens busy students by forcing them to independently study. Preparation for such an immensely important test should be offered by high schools.

Guilderland High School offers everything to its students but SAT prep–AP classes, clubs, sports, teacher recommendations. Everything but SAT prep. Here at Guilderland, students participate in clubs ranging from French to Harry Potter, take AP classes ranging from European History to Calculus, and play sports ranging from golf to basketball. All of this reflects the way high school is designed to prepare us for college. Since all these characteristics do indeed matter when applying to college, it’s wrong for a high school to not offer SAT prep–an equally important aspect on applications. By not offering any prep, it almost seems that high schools don’t care how students perform, that they seemingly don’t care about the future of their students. It is incredibly wrong that we are prepared in every aspect of high school, but are neglected an increasingly important part of college applications.

By not offering SAT prep in school, students have no choice but to prepare independently while admirably attempting to balance a full schedule. By studying outside of school we have less time for extracurriculars, jobs, and other outside activities that would admissions officers would deem impressive. In order to excel on the SAT, we remove ourselves from these outside activities and events in our lives that also matter. We remove ourselves from sports practice, club fundraisers, even family gatherings. All of this sacrifice, just to prepare enough for the SAT so we won’t have to take it–and prepare for it–a second time. This is not the responsibility of us students, but of the high school. High schools act as hypocrites by not offering SAT prep because it does not align with what high schools should offer its students. If a high school sets a standard to prepare students for college–offering aforementioned AP classes and extracurriculars–then not preparing us for the SAT is an absolute disgrace. They are ignorantly disregarding the fact that the SAT is a tremendously important test that we take for college.

The SAT is a brutal four hour exam that is viewed as a punishing and insuperable obstacle for students with aspirations of attending a competitive university. The SAT forces us to physically remove ourselves from outside activities we’d far rather do. The SAT forces us to study for long nights and endless days just to get a score back we won’t be satisfied with. The SAT forces stress upon sufficiently busy lives. Why do high schools refuse to help stop this harassment of students? Any other form of harassment would be stomped on and crushed in a heartbeat. Yet when it comes to a test that high schools could readily prepare students for, there is no assistance against, no prevention of, and no protection from this harassment. Without proper guidance, students are left to deal with an enormous task alone, leading to unconditional sacrifice, unfair work, and unwarranted stress.

The fact that high schools do absolutely nothing to help their students for this exam is utterly shameful. A school could offer a half-year SAT course that prepares students for the test either midway or at the end of the year. The prep could help develop strategies, understand the test in-depth, and learn the types of questions, eventually culminating in a much higher score. It is indisputable that high schools are wrong in not preparing students for the SAT despite possessing the power to do so.

Opinion: The hypocritical cost of a college education – Why public higher education should be universally free

LEONARD BOPP

The American Dream is built on the principles of equal opportunity and social mobility, the idea that if someone works hard, they should be able to define their own destiny. It’s a term that has shaped our national ethos of freedom and prosperity and our ideals of success and advancement; it’s the idea we’ve used to welcome immigrants, fight for equality, and exemplify socioeconomic advancement; this is the rhetoric we use when we try to define the idiomatic idea of American greatness.

But when it comes to obtaining a college education, the American Dream is failing too many American students. Equal access to higher education is an imperative key to overcoming socioeconomic disparities, as it can give people of diverse backgrounds the tools they need to have a fair shot at a bright future. But as students are faced with rapidly increasing tuition and the crippling burden of debt from student loans, the cost of a college education is becoming a barrier to what should be a pathway to opportunity.

Many of us were hit with this reality this year as when we applied to college. Even at public schools, government-sponsored and taxpayer-funded institutions that have lower costs than private colleges, the cost of attendance can be a burden on students and families. In New York, the average total cost of tuition, room, and board at a SUNY school is more than $23,000 per year – no small sum for a typical family.

Yes, need-based financial aid programs make noble and often substantial attempts to make a college education affordable for people of all economic backgrounds, and merit-based scholarships attempt to reward bright students with a well-deserved discount. However, such programs, while helpful, perpetuate the idea that a college education is a privilege to be awarded rather than an opportunity that anyone who will work hard should be able to access. I’d offer a more equitable solution: let public colleges and universities be free for everyone.

Thomas Jefferson, in his autobiography, wrote that “instead of an aristocracy of wealth, to make an opening for the aristocracy of virtue and talent is essential to a well-ordered republic.” The way to realize this, he said, was to ensure that everyone, regardless of their social or economic class, has access to a quality education. Social mobility depends on equal opportunity, and it is undeniable that, on the whole, a college education is a critical opportunity for economic gain. Based on a 2013 analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute, Americans with a four-year degree make 98 percent more on average than those without a degree. Furthermore, the Pew Research Center found that young millennials with a college degree will make an average of $17,500 more than those with only a high school diploma. Following these trends, it would ultimately cost a person more not to go to college than it would to pay for their degree. The salary gap between those who went to college and those who didn’t illuminates why it is so important that everyone has access to a college education. Pursuing a college education is the most reliable route to financial security, and especially for students raised in lower-class families, it offers a pathway out of poverty.

Public universities were originally designed to meet the need for higher education at a more reasonable price than private colleges. But as tuition increases at public colleges, more and more students, particularly those from lower-class families, are barred from this opportunity. Even among those who do go to college, many are faced with the undue burden of massive debt. On average, college students graduate with an average of $30,000 in debt, and the total debt from student loans in this country has reached over 1 trillion dollars. In a nation that proclaims a conviction in social mobility, to impose a financial burden on those for whom education should be a path for economic advancement is a hypocritical action. This is not characteristic of a “land of opportunity;” this is indicative of an academic aristocracy that is out of line with American values, one in which a college education is seen more as a privilege given to the wealthy than as a resource available to everyone.

Here’s the thing: when our students succeed, our nation succeeds. Making a college education accessible to everyone would lead to a stronger economy, as those who earn higher wages would, in theory, be able to spend more. If people have access to education as a tool to economic prosperity, then more people would be lifted out of poverty, allowing them to contribute further to a stronger economy. Furthermore, if a college education could be free, students would not graduate with at much debt, which has become a tremendous drag on our economy.

And believe it or not, it seems that our country actually could afford it. As of 2012, according to Department of Education statistics and an analysis in The Atlantic, the total tuition of students at public colleges and universities was $62.6 billion. Currently, the government spends $69 million dollars in patchwork attempts to subsidize the cost of public colleges – programs like Pell Grants, tax breaks, and work study funding. Beyond that, the government spends another $107.4 billion dollars on federal students loans, which often serve students attending public schools. Therefore, it seems it would cost the government less to fully subsidize tuition at public colleges and universities than it currently spends on its various programs to try to make these colleges more affordable.

Critics will argue that a system of free higher education will only allow people to slack off in college, as there will be no economic incentive to do well. There is some merit to this argument: when people are paying for their education, they are probably more likely to take it seriously. However, there are other ways to encourage students to work hard in college. When President Obama proposed making community colleges free, his plan included the rule that students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5 in order to have their tuition waived. The minimum GPA approach could work very well, as it would give students an incentive to work hard in school without giving them unjust costs. Fundamentally, however, these ideas represent a wrongful mistrust in American students. I have faith that for most students, the pursuit of economic security and the pursuit of broader knowledge would be incentive enough to work hard and do well. We must not allow fear-driven “moocher” stereotypes to invalidate a system that would overwhelmingly benefit our students and our nation as a whole.

I’m not saying that students should always choose public schools over private schools, nor am I saying that private schools should become institutions only for the elite upper class. For students who feel that a private college offers them the best educational opportunity, the government should continue to offer the option of federal student loans to help tuitions be more affordable. Furthermore, private colleges should follow the practices, as many, but not all, already do, of need-blind admissions, which ensures that students are admitted or rejected based on academic strength and not their financial situation, and fully-funded financial aid, which aims to give each student as much as they need in financial aid to make that college affordable. Even if public colleges became free, private colleges must remain places of socioeconomic diversity, and must continue or initiate programs to do so.

I’m also not saying that everyone needs to go to college. Many respectable and lucrative careers do not require a college education, and students who wish to pursue such a path should be encouraged to do so – after all, our society depends on its people to fill all jobs, including those that do not require a college degree. Furthermore, some of the richest, most innovative people in the world did not go to college – this is a perfect time to remind you that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were both college dropouts.

But what I am saying is that everyone should have the opportunity. Economically, a college education is a pathway to financial security that benefits students and, in turn, our country. Academically, a college education is a pathway to intellectual fulfillment and enlightenment, a way for everyone to reach their full intellectual capacity. And morally, a college education is an imperative path to overcome socioeconomic inequality, a critical tool to ensure equal opportunity for all. We must come to see a college education not as a privilege for a few, but as a worthy investment in our citizens, and making higher education free reflects this fundamental principle. Until we do, the American Dream of social mobility and equal opportunity will remain just that – a dream, an unreachable standard, a hypocritical myth.

Student Opinion: Students react to giraffe controversy

EMILY HONEN

The singular issue causing the most debate in this year’s edition of the Tawasenthan isn’t the size of the sports section vs. the arts section – it’s a senior ad starring a younger graduating senior posing with a recently expired giraffe.

The ad, which also features the student carrying a gun, has generated such controversy that the local news has commented on it, including the Times Union, NY Daily News, and even the Huffington Post. The student featured in the photo has been ruthlessly attacked on many forms of social media, and unfortunately he hasn’t been the only target. The student staff of the yearbook have been criticized for allowing the picture to be published, with Superintendent Marie Wiles referring to the incident as an “oversight.”

Most of the controversy arose from two different aspects of the picture: one being the dead, kneeling giraffe, and the other being the hunting rifle carried by the student. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the population of giraffes in Africa plummeted from 140,000 in 1998 to fewer than 80,000 in 2012, with two sub-species considered endangered.

In an article published by the Times Union on May 29th, Dr. Wiles stated that “In the future, we will take a little bit closer view of how we review that section of the yearbook.” After all, senior ads are usually fairly harmless – baby pictures or something of the like, and aren’t usually scrutinized by the staff.

Most of the articles written on the subject also appear to take the side of the giraffe, calling the photo “disgusting” and “tasteless” and referring to hunters showing off their prey as “nimrods.”

However, all of the blind hate soon led to another level of controversy: a wave of support for the student, his rights, and his family’s sentimental values, with even more students taking to Twitter to express their solidarity with the student and overall tiredness of the entire affair.

Students and teachers with all kinds of opinions are weighing in on social media and during school to express their support, disgust, or (most overwhelmingly) apathy towards the incident.

“I think that a lot of people are overreacting to this,” said senior Kevin Swintek. “You can think what you want about it, but you have to respect other people’s hobbies and what they like to do. Whether or not you like the fact that they’re a hunter–think and say what you want, but be respectful.”

“Who cares? He gave the meat to a tribe,” said Will Moody. Another senior, Mark Fyvie, agrees. “They’re making it way too big of a deal. They put the picture in the yearbook, but he killed it a while ago.”

Some people, however, feel strongly that the photo should not have been allowed, as they feel that the photo represents a violation of animal rights. “I believe that this type of material should not be allowed in a school publication of any kind,” said sophomore Lakota Lustig. “I guess there’s more to it, but I don’t like it. I am a vegetarian, and I guess it just doesn’t sit right with me.”

Most students, however, have defended the student and the yearbook staff. “I don’t think it is wrong at all,” said senior Nick VonDollen. “The business of the yearbook is the business of the school, the students, and the parents. No one else.”

Most of the students at GHS seem to have reached the same, very mature consensus: get over it and move on.

Editorial: Are you worthy of a seat on the stage?

The second half of senior year is supposed to be a reward to all the hard-working students of high school. Having finally gotten into college, seniors tend to be able to coast by; the burden of maintaining college-worthy grades is just a flicker of a memory now. Even after being accepted into college, though, some people are still people working their hardest at school. When asked why, 99 percent of the time it’s: “I need to get a 95 GPA to sit on the stage.” THE stage is an esteemed privilege for students with highest honors and a way to gain bragging rights on graduation day. The stage is almost like a notorious fairy-tale told to students as early as freshman year. Work hard, maintain a 95 GPA throughout your four years of high school, be able to sit on the stage at graduation. The end. But that’s not the black and white end. What is left out is the pressure that the stage places on students. Students who worked hard want their achievements to be commended. They want to be able to sit above their peers in a position of respect and esteem, even if attaining that goal means years of unhealthy stress on themselves. The elevated seating of the stage places those with highest honors literally and metaphorically above the rest of the student population. Is it any wonder that students yearn to be able to grab a seat on stage?

Making the 95 GPA an unwavering and unforgiving toll bridge to the stage, however, isn’t a perfect way of determining who is worthy. Students who take on huge burdens in AP classes because they choose to challenge themselves and who receive a 94 GPA are barred from the stage, whereas if they had chosen less challenging courses they may have gotten that seat on the stage. Students who choose to donate their spare time to hundreds of hours of community service and fall half a point short don’t get the recognition of the stage. Students that help others in school, aid their community, and have good character may be sitting below others, the floor undermining their accomplishments and virtues. After years of being told by teachers and adults within our lives and school that grades don’t define you and that numbers don’t reflect all forms of intelligence, our final moment of high school is shadowed by a bolded, definite number that separates students based on school performance. The stage doesn’t care if someone has good character or is an amazing musician or can paint like the masters; all it requires for seating is a number.

Grades do matter–that is a universally accepted thought reinforced by higher education and college admissions–but they aren’t the measure of whether or not someone is more worthy of prestige than others. Some of the most intelligent people in this world have been master criminals or just awful human beings: Just because of their intelligence, though, should the general public hold these people in a higher regard than others? Similarly this applies to graduation seating. If someone who has infractions on their record or has had their academic integrity questioned is allowed on the stage due to their GPA, why then are the students seated on the stage regarded as superior? The students who worked hard to challenge themselves and push themselves to that 95 threshold do deserve some type of accolades but so do other students who have different strengths. It’s hard for schools to find a balance between wanting to reward hard-working students while also wanting to take into account differences in abilities across the spectrum–that is acknowledged. However, they should find a different way to reward students at graduation not only for academic strength but other strengths too. Why not ask teachers to recommend students who have demonstrated exceptional character in the classroom as well as received good grades. Or ask coaches and music and art teachers to nominate students that go far and beyond in their classrooms. There’s no reason to move completely away from needing a certain GPA but that shouldn’t be the only way people get the designation of stage seating.

In a time when students are taught to embrace their individual strengths, it seems hypocritical of the education system to place academically higher ranking students above the rest. There should be other areas or checkmarks met to determine whether or not someone would be a good addition to the stage. Character, academic integrity, and talent in another field should all be taken into account because these things are what define us, not a number we receive on a report card.

Call for Submissions: Senior Issue

ALL GUILDERLAND HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS ARE INVITED TO SUBMIT A PIECE FOR THE JOURNAL’S SENIOR ISSUE.

The Senior Issue, distributed at graduation, is a magazine containing personal essays by graduating seniors. Students are encouraged to write about any topic related to their experiences in high school.

Submissions should be approximately 300-600 words. All pieces of reasonable quality will be published.

Interested students should contact Leonard Bopp, Editor-in-Chief, with questions.

Submissions are due Sunday, June 14 at 8:00 PM. Submissions should be sent to theguilderlandjournal@gmail.com.

In Hiding, or Probably Not

KATIE LAMAR

I’ve been under the covers of my bed for the past sixteen years and I burned all the journals I wrote freshmen year, so I’m in a place where love cannot find me.
I slam the refrigerator door and I forget to walk my dogs a lot, so I’m in a place where love cannot find me.
I piss off my dad at any chance I can get and I judge the pop songs on the radio for being too optimistic, so I’m in a place where love cannot find me.
All I do is cry until all my tears are dry and I write horribly mangled love poems to the boy who is never coming and I don’t eat my vegetables, so I’m in a place where love cannot find me.
I’m too tall or too mean or something like that I’m too blonde or not enough so I’m in a place where love cannot find me.
Hi my name is Katie Lamar so I’m in a place where love cannot find me.
I’m imperfectly impatient and I hate myself for it
This is a mangled mass of body held up by stilts yet somehow I’m still not tall enough to see past these metaphors!

I have hands too eager, too reaching-my eyes are too bright, too wide
My father advised me to stop wearing flannel on floral, as if finding a boy has anything to do with the fit of my fashion

As if my fancy will fix my failures

As if a new fad will draw a fixation, but I told my dad it’s all about my hibernation
I’m too good at hiding out in the open; I’m so in your face it’s like I’m not even here

You’ve looked right past me as if someone has disguised me and I’m in a place where love cannot find me