The United States must help Puerto Rico

The island of Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States (U.S.) since 1898, after the U.S. defeated Spain in the Spanish-American War. Although the island is separate from the mainland, it is controlled by the U.S. government. Its occupants pay taxes to the U.S. federal government, possess U.S. citizenship and vote in U.S. presidential primaries. However, according to the Columbia Broadcasting System, more than half of the American population do not realize that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and that its residents are U.S. citizens. Puerto Ricans have been contributing significantly to the country for over 100 years, yet they are still looked upon and treated as second-class citizens.

Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Irma in September, 2017, leaving more than one million people without power. That same month, the island was hit by Hurricane Maria. Although Maria was smaller than Irma, the effects of this powerful Category 4 storm were far more detrimental: electricity was cut off the whole island, access to clean water and food became limited and floods brought on by the storm ruined streets. According to MercyCorps.org, Maria’s destruction has led to more than 94 billion dollars in damage and the economy of Puerto Rico is expected to shrink by at least eight percent this year as a result of the hurricane. With winds of 155 miles per hour, the storm was the worst to hit Puerto Rico in 80 years; over seven months later, the island is still struggling to recover and rebuild its infrastructure.

Because Puerto Rico is considered to be a part of the U.S., it would be expected that the U.S. government would assist the struggling island; however, this has not been the case. Although the U.S. has helped minimally, it has not put forth all of its effort toward ensuring the recovery of the damaged island.

Puerto Rico is entitled to the same government response as any state in the U.S. but it has yet to receive this equal treatment. According to economist.com, after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, the U.S. federal government sent 30,000 relief workers to the city within nine days; in Puerto Rico, it sent 10,000. Within that same time frame, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved payments of 142 million dollars to victims of Harvey, but only six million to victims of Maria. The discrepancy between these government responses is undeniable and should be reevaluated.

Some may argue that the location of the island makes it difficult to provide Puerto Ricans with certain materials. While this is clearly a barrier, this cannot be used as an excuse to deprive Puerto Rico of the funds and infrastructure needed for its survival.

Congress needs to designate funds and resources to help rebuild the island as well as protect it from the potential effects of future natural disasters. It is unfathomable that people are still living without basic necessities and the U.S. has not given its all to thwart that. The U.S. has let down its Puerto Rican citizens and must find solutions in order to ease the suffering of these people as quickly as possible.

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Solution against gun violence appears counterproductive

BY: SHANTY FIERRO

MANAGING EDITOR

Following the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) just a few short weeks ago, government officials are left with the task of preventing an incident like this from occurring ever again. While I believe that the most efficient solution would be stricter gun control laws, there have been other solutions proposed by concerned parents and legislators alike. Some suggest there be metal detectors placed in schools, others want more security personnel present. Although some of these solutions have controversy associated with them, none is worse than the idea of arming teachers.

This idea has been proposed before by National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre. Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary back in 2012, LaPierre stated, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” However, this cannot be further from the truth. According to Vox, a study, led by a Boston University School of Public Health researcher, found that, “1 percent increase in gun ownership correlated with a 0.9 percent rise in the firearm homicide rate at the state level.” This suggests that the more people that have guns, the higher the gun death rate. With this research in mind, why would anyone think that arming teachers is an intelligent strategy?

Moreover, there has already been a case where a teacher who was armed fired shots in his classroom and barricaded himself inside for about 45 minutes. This report coming from NBC News stated that the teacher was in custody, but luckily no students were harmed. If events like this can happen only weeks after a mass shooting, some students may not feel safe knowing that there is a gun inside their classroom. In addition to the possible distractions the thought may cause while a student is trying to learn, there is also the frightening possibility that a student may get their hands on it, and another tragedy can occur.

Adding on to safety issues, there is also the obstacle of obtaining proper funding. There are schools all across America that have worn out textbooks, unreliable technology and insufficient supplies for the students. The government claims they cannot afford to help these schools, and are constantly cutting the budget for education. However, I hope the people in power realize that paying for teachers to take classes on how to handle a firearm and providing a firearm for each teacher will cost a large sum of money, money that they claim “not to have”.  Instead of spending all of this money to bring more guns into schools, why not invest in modern school supplies to make life easier for both teachers and students?

Lastly, a teacher’s main job is to teach. That is what they go to college to learn how to do. That is all they should be required to do. Teachers have enough trouble meeting the standards of the school boards, dealing with troubled children and whatever they may be going through in their personal lives. They have enough stress on their plate, and adding the responsibility of knowing how to operate a firearm, and having one in class is too much to add.

There is no doubt in my mind that many teachers will do whatever it takes to protect their students. That heroism was demonstrated by the teachers and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas on Feb. 14. There are so many ways to train teachers to avoid these situations that do not involve more guns in the classroom. Teachers should be trained to detect characteristics of possible mental health problems with their students and know how to handle them accordingly. Although there were many factors that contributed to the shooting at MSD, the main problem was an AR-15. Clearly, putting more guns in school is not beneficial for students or teachers alike.

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Dancing at Disney renews passion

BY HALEY PRINCZ

Features Photo Editor

When I was a little girl, I obsessed over anything Disney-related. I would sit in front of my television screen for hours, watching different movies of princesses, adventures and talking inanimate objects, wanting to be part of that magical world. This past December, I was finally given that opportunity through my love of dance and performing.

On Dec. 15, along with 11 other girls from my studio, Meg Segreto’s Dance Centre, I flew from Fort Lauderdale International Airport to Orlando, to perform at Disney. I didn’t know what to expect from the experience at first; I had been to dance conventions before and even performed in some, but never had it been in a place that meant so much to me.

The next day, my three roommates and I woke up at 6 a.m. We were instructed by our teachers that we needed full performance attire for our dance workshop. From past years, I knew that workshops were taught by very experienced professionals, but when I met my teacher, I was shocked beyond belief. Our instructor, who went by Claire, was not only experienced in many verses of dance, but she was a Disney dancer. Throughout our three-hour workshop, I discovered that she performed daily at Magic Kingdom in the Palace Show just in front of the castle. Beyond the fact that her career was mind-blowing to me, she was incredibly sweet and her love for all things Disney, like my own, was vivid. She taught us a typical audition piece for Disney dancers; one they must master and perform if they wish to be in certain shows. We had a mock audition piece. Of the group, I was one of the few who was asked questions, such as if I was claustrophobic or if I had ever partnered before, and received a mock call-back, being able to perform the piece again. Getting this type of attention really developed my confidence because I aspire to go into this performing field when I’m older; the fact that I was recognized and chosen out of my group fuels my belief that I can have a chance of success in this industry.

Following our audition piece, Claire sat the group down and asked us basics about performance resumes. I learned a lot from this session, like what an appropriate headshot looks like and what information to exclude from your resume, such as your age. I found this very helpful as I have had to submit artistic resumes these past few months for auditions into colleges’ arts programs.

During the last hour of the workshop, Claire taught our group a second piece, one that Disney dancers would learn and perform in the parks. When the dance was completed, Claire surprised us by informing us we would be performing both the dance we just learned with the audition piece for a small audience. Initially, I thought that was surprise enough, but when we were already in position, the house lights went dim, pink stage lights lit up, and the magical Disney voice began to speak, counting us down to begin. However, nothing compared to my shock when four seconds into our routine, Goofy popped out from a side door and began to do the dance with us. I was a backup dancer for Goofy! This was definitely the highlight of that day, topping an amazing trip to Magic Kingdom that afternoon.

The following morning, my group and I went to Disney Springs and walked around the plaza for a couple of hours before we needed to get ready to perform. I remember walking past the stage hours before the performance, and at that time it was empty; it wasn’t when we performed.

After a nice provided lunch, my friends and I went back to our bus and were taken to a behind-the-scenes dancing station just outside of Disney Springs. At the trailer location were three dancing studios and a bathroom. Here, we prepped for our performance by warming up and applying finishing touches to our look: adding firetruck red lipstick to our mouths, putting earrings the size of dimes in our ears and putting on the infamous Rockette costumes we would be performing in. For months in advance, my dance group and I had been practicing Rockette style dances and kick lines to be ready to perform for friends, family and Disney-goers who had a piqued interest in our act.

When we were brought back by bus to Disney Springs, heads were turning. Even in Disney, it’s not every day you see children waltzing around in reindeer and Rockette Santa get-ups. The instructor of the program brought us to the stage, a harem of visitors following our line, and allowed us to pass behind the curtain. At that time, they let us know we had ten minutes before show time; this was when I put on my silver-sprayed heels and set up my glittering headpieces for my quick changes.

Overall, the performance was spectacular. My knees were buckling before I had taken the stage, but once we were all in position and the music to our first of three dances began to play, all my nerves dissipated, and I put on a brave smile, allowing myself to do what I do best: dance. Every dance was executed without flaw, not one person kicking out (a term designated for the action of a dancer kicking at the wrong time in a precision piece.) Though the sunlight partially blinded me, I could see all the people’s faces alight with the joy my dancing was bringing them. Several people took their phones out and were recording the dances to be watched over and over again in the future, a memory to last a lifetime. I helped make someone’s Disney experience with my beloved talent.

Reflecting on this experience, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I had the time of my life, doing what I love most in the world, in my favorite place in the world, while providing people with the feeling that simply is Disney. This experience helped me build my confidence in multiple ways by allowing me to get out of my shell an express my utmost affections for the art I’ve come to call home. I find myself almost jealous now at the fact that I am graduating and will not be able to participate in this opportunity again with my studio; however, I say almost because I’m excited for those who are stepping up into the space I leave to have this experience.

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Excess homework prevents creative pursuits

Throughout their educational journey, most students have at least been involved in one after school activity that they’re passionate about. Whether it be sports, clubs or the performing arts, students express themselves in different ways. Unfortunately, schools often place more emphasis on core classes, and getting the best grades. Although there is a good reason for this, being that education is important, the question of whether schools are obstructing students from participating in creative activities by overwhelming them with work remains.

School is a place for learning, but also a place for students to discover what they’re passionate about, and maybe what career they want to pursue in the future. When teachers put more emphasis on getting passing grades, and assign excessive amounts of homework, they are impeding students from having any time left to explore other interests. In fact, the New York Times put out a questionnaire in 2014 asking students 13 or older to comment about the amount of homework they received. The majority of those students said that teachers do not take into consideration how much homework other teachers give as well, and thus they are stuck spending hours doing homework. If there was more communication between teachers, the amount of homework given could be reduced to a manageable size for students to have time for both education and leisure.

Moreover, schools are not just obstructing creativity through homework, it seems that they are cutting it out of the curriculum entirely. According to a TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson titled “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”, he states that students are growing out of creativity as their school years continue. According to Robinson, “During this process, students are taught that making a mistake is a sin. We have planted in our students’ minds a picture of a perfectly, carefully drawn life”. Apparently, this perfectly drawn out life has no room for creativity, as it is burdened with preparation for standardized tests, and other benchmark assessments that are not always accurate at determining a student’s true capabilities. Instead of focusing so much time on teaching students to be perfect and creating a rigid system with little to no room for variation, there should be more leeway for students to have time to discover what subject they love, and what they want to do in their lives.

However, the cutting of creativity cannot solely be blamed on teachers, they are simply following orders of the school board and of the governments, with all the ridiculous budget cuts and rules they have to follow. According to the Huffington Post, 81% of teachers say their school has been affected by budget cuts, and 35% say that the curriculum changes are a concern. School boards have placed intense pressure on teachers to meet unrealistic academic goals. These changes also affect students, since they are assigned more work, thus leaving them with little to no time to explore any extra-curricular options.

One way that this issue of schools preventing students from following their passions or being creative can be solved, is starting with implementing some creativity in the classroom. According to InformED, assigning students open ended projects, meaning that they can do the project on whatever subject interested them, was a great way to introduce creativity into the classroom. This suggestion is a compromise between teachers and students, since the teachers are meeting the requirements of the school board by having students complete projects about certain topics, and the students can research what they are passionate about, allowing them to pursue their passion, and learn at the same time.

Overall, students are still walking the journey of life and are still deciding how they can express themselves creatively, and what their true passions are. If schools have the chance to aid them in their journey towards this self-actualization, then they should take it. Instead of drowning students in work preparing for standardized tests, schools should create an intellectually stimulating environment that can benefit both students and teachers alike.

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Celebrity holiday traditions set unrealistic expectations

BY CARLI UDINE

EDITOR IN CHIEF

As the holiday season approaches, celebrities have begun to flaunt their lavish holiday decorations and celebrations. Celebrities and television stars like the Kardashians, Ellen DeGeneres and Leighton Meester, who plays Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl, set high expectations for the holidays for ordinary people when they show off their “extra” holiday spirit.

As seen on the hit reality television program aired every Sunday on E!, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” and on the social media pages of all the family members, the Kardashian family is known to go all out when it comes time to decorate and prepare for the holidays. The Kardashians, specifically Kourtney, Kim and Khloe, are constantly exhibiting their excessive decor on their Snapchat. As seen on their Snapchat “stories,” the Kardashians utilize the weeks prior to Christmas Day to decorate their houses and Christmas trees. One Christmas tree is not enough for the Kardashian family considering each family member has two or more trees displayed throughout their houses. In the season 14 “Holiday Special” of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” the family was shown arguing over ornaments for their many trees. Due to their reputation for having extravagant holiday celebrations, the Kardashian family takes preparing for the holidays very seriously. As seen in the “Holiday Special,” Kris Jenner and her daughter Khloe Kardashian had a “bake off” to determine who would be making the desserts for their Christmas Eve celebration. Throughout the weeks before Christmas Day, fans of the Kardashians are able to witness the family’s festivities on both their television show and all over social media. This constant showing off of this family’s extravaganza gives individuals falsified hopes for what their celebrations will look like.

On her talk show “Ellen,” Ellen DeGeneres has been giving away gifts to individuals in the audience through her “12 Days of Giveaways.” Companies like Under Armour, Scotch and Starbucks are just a few companies that sponsor DeGeneres’ giveaway program.

DeGeneres’ mission is to use her popular talk show to give back to ordinary individuals who go above and beyond and also to those who are in need of help and support. By utilizing the holiday season to help others, DeGeneres’ “12 Days of Giveaways” segment has been getting the audience excited.

Fictionally, Blair Waldorf, main character of “Gossip Girl,” has an apparent love for the holiday season throughout the television series. Waldorf’s reputation for being “rich” and “snobby” gives viewers an explanation as to why she celebrates the holidays with no limit in her mind. Whether it be her persistence to have the holidays be a perfect time of the year, her expensive Christmas list or the decor within her penthouse in New York City, Waldorf creates the ultimate Christmas experience for herself and makes viewers want to mimic her means of celebration.

Although these celebrities often use the holidays to help those in need and their communities, they also set impractical notions for how the celebrations should be. Every family has a different manner in which they celebrate the holidays. However, with celebrities like the Kardashians exhibiting exaggerated holiday spirit, many viewers are let down when their celebrations are not as festive and flamboyant as the stars that spend excessive amounts of money on decorating their houses and preparing for celebrations.

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Too much pressure placed on students to succeed

BY JESSIE CHAIET

PRINT NEWS EDITOR

One question on one quiz for one grade in one class.  Does this one question have the power to affect the rest of their lives?

In school, many students face this one perilous question.  Students believe that getting that one question wrong could lead to an undesired grade in a class.  From there, it is a continuous cycle, a slippery slope ending with a rejection from their dream college.  These unrealistic standards and pressures cause students to suffer from severe psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression.

The New York Times recently published an article titled “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering from Severe Anxiety?”  The article discusses the stories of several teenagers who experienced so much anxiety that they had to be sent to a treatment facility in New Hampshire, called Mountain Valley.

One of the teenagers the article focuses on is Jake, now a college freshman at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC).  As a high schooler, Jake had a fear of failure and put excessive pressure on himself to get into UNC; he put so much pressure that one day he broke down and refused to go to school.  Eventually, Jake was sent to Mountain Valley.

This instance shows the detrimental effects that stress from schoolwork can have on mental health.  Although this institution sounds like an extreme step, it was necessary for the students to help reduce their stress and anxiety.  Not every student who suffers from the pressures of school needs to go to an institution like this.  However, students and schools should both work to reduce the detrimental effects of stress.

Because of school and expectations for the future, students continue to put more and more pressure on themselves to succeed.  Here at the Bay, students stack their schedules with numerous Advanced Placement (AP) and Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) classes.  Not only do they take challenging, college level courses, but they also dedicate themselves to numerous clubs and honor societies, often pursuing leadership positions.

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 45 percent of teenagers are stressed by school pressures.  In many cases, these pressures have lead to severe psychological and health problems, ranging from fatigue and weight gain to anxiety and depression.

Along with these psychological and health problems, pressures from school have lead to an increased mortality rate among teenagers.  According to childtrends.org, in 2015, 18 percent of high school students reported that they had seriously thought about committing suicide.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers ages 15-19.

Oftentimes, students find themselves locked up in their rooms after school, finishing homework and studying.  Therefore, they miss out on a valuable, stress-relieving activity: exercise.  According to the American Psychological Organization, 1 in 5 teens report exercising less than once a week or not at all.

At the Bay, students are lucky to have caring guidance counselors and clubs, such as Helping Overcome Problems Effectively (HOPE), that work to promote mental health.  However, many schools across the country lack these resources and are unable to help students suffering from psychological problems.  The Children’s Defense Fund’s 2014 State of America’s Children report cites that 45 percent of children living in poverty who needed mental health care did not receive proper treatment.

As a solution to the implications of extreme stress and pressure, schools should offer programs for suffering students.  Schools should encourage teenagers to schedule regular visits with their guidance counselor or school psychologist.  Students themselves should consider modifying their course load and making sure they have time their schedules for exercise.  Altogether, students can work on encouraging each other and helping each other succeed instead of fighting for the number one spot in their class ranking.

The one real question now is: what are schools doing to help alleviate stress and reduce pressure on students?

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DACA termination appears like attack toward Dreamers

BY LEXI FLECHNER

ONLINE ARTS & ENT. EDITOR

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an extremely important government policy that grants citizenship to some children whose parents brought them to the United States illegally when they were minors. They can receive a renewable two-year period of amnesty where they will not be deported, and DACA also gives them opportunities to possess work permits. Currently 800,000 immigrants benefit from DACA, and these people can be doctors, teachers, parents, Internet personalities and police.

This policy was created in 2007, but was not implemented until June of 2012 from an executive order by former President Barack Obama. Congress had tried to pass the bill up until this point, but could never obtain the votes in both houses. As this bill took so long to pass, it was long overdue. It was time to give these immigrants the rights they deserved and President Obama recognized this. The program aids so many immigrants in living the “American Dream,” and is one of the most important put in place during Obama’s presidency.

On Sept. 5, President Donald Trump announced the upcoming suspension of the program. There will be a six-month delay in the termination, but the immigrants will be sent back to their home countries when the delay expires. The six month period was put in place to give Congress a chance to pass new immigration laws to help the Dreamers, who are the people benefiting from DACA.

Canceling this program is completely wrong. President Trump will be sending these people back to countries they have never known. The Dreamers moved from these countries when they were extremely young and have barely experienced life anywhere except America. To send them back to a country that is unfamiliar and possibly dangerous is just cruel.

The United States serves as a sanctuary to many people escaping a controlling government, and many of these immigrants came here for this reason. Sending them back could be fatal to those coming from countries in turmoil; they could be penalized for leaving in the first place or put in danger once they arrive back.

All of these immigrants were brought by their parents to the United States. It is extremely unfair for them to be punished for actions their parents took. There was nothing they could have done to get their parents to stay, so they should not be punished for it.

These Dreamers are Americans and should be treated as such. To be treated as an American means to receive all liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, not be consistently attacked for supposedly taking jobs away and not live in fear of deportation. These people are legally allowed to be in the United States, and no one should be allowed to take that away from them.

Taking away a program that benefits so many, regardless of the policy, is absurd. Dreamers are embedded into our country at this point– it would be detrimental to others if they were taken from their jobs, relationships and family members who are citizens. Many Americans’ health could be left in danger as their doctors are deported. This is not only ruinous for the immigrants being deported, but all residents in their community.

This act feels like a blatant attack on immigrants on Trump’s part. His ideals have been centered around the fact that all illegal immigrants should be removed from our country, but these people are legally allowed to live in America. America was built by immigrants, and for our President to attempt to remove that essential part of our history is disturbing. Trump continues to kick these people out for the sheer fact that they are immigrants, and this is so wrong.

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Should students have to pay for transcripts?

YES

At the end of every school year, seniors go to the bookkeeper to collect their transcripts. While some students tend to complain that paying for these transcripts are a waste of money, the school would be spending a lot more money than necessary on these documents if the seniors did not pay for these papers. With about 1,200 students in the senior class, the school would be using an excessive amount of paper to fund this. If the school had to pay, there would need to be budget cuts on something else in the school. Likewise, the price for one transcript is a mere two dollars. Two dollars is a small price to pay as college expenses go, and the students have the entire year to collect that money. These transcripts are also a necessity for colleges because they are a record of a student’s academic accomplishments throughout high school. Considering these papers are an influential factor in deciding what college you get into, the two dollars is a reasonable price. All in all, paying two dollars for transcripts during senior year is worth being able to get into college.

-Drew Roach

NO

Students should not be required to pay for high school transcripts. A student’s transcript is one of the most important pieces of information that students need when applying to college. Transcripts are records of all classes and grades received in every class the student has taken since the beginning of freshman year. This crucial document also includes students’ GPA, and includes standardized test scores or honors credits that they have taken throughout their high school careers. Admissions officers at universities view the transcript when considering applications for admissions. Transcripts should be given to students when requested, free of charge, when they start to apply to colleges. Schools should find another way to raise money other than making students pay for their own high school information. The college application process is costly for many students to begin with, even without the additional cost of transcripts. Standardized testing fees and test preparation courses can quickly add up, so students should not also be burdened with transcript fees.

 -Hannah Lassner

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In My Opinion: Stages of grief result in feelings of acceptance

BY LETICIA ANTONINI

PRINT FEATURES EDITOR

There is a saying that goes: “If a tree falls in the forest, but there is no one there to hear it, did it even make a noise?” We all think that it did, due to the simple laws of physics, but what if in that moment, the exact second that large, bulky chunk of wood hit the floor, all laws we are so convinced to be true, didn’t apply? What if the tree fell like a feather, weightless, and there was no one there to see it. Would we start questioning everything we believe in? Would it even change

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Editorial: Celebrities use award shows as platforms to speak on important issues

Award show season is always a glamorous time. There are celebrities dressed in the best designer clothes and being recognized for their hard work in movies, TV shows, music and more. When any celebrity wins an award, they usually get on stage and thank their co-workers and their family. However, some celebrities took it a step further this year and chose to speak out about their opinions on trending issues today.

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