Month: February 2015

A Note from the Sponsor

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We thank our loyal blog readers for their feedback. We heard from you and know that you wanted to know what was going on with O.N.E. lunch in early February. Three of our staff writers were hard at work gathering the facts, experiencing the new schedule, and putting together three articles that express the varying viewpoints of our diverse school. Right as they were about to finish, O.N.E lunch was restored. Then, we got half a foot of snow and were snowed out for the week. But we felt this was still important to share with you.

We hope that you’ll still read and reflect on these articles, because even though the schedule changed for only a week, it had a visible effect on the school in regards to expectations and reflections of lunch behavior. The following three articles try to capture that feeling from the change through Mr. Ellick’s, the teachers’, and the students’ viewpoints. We apologize for the delay that prevented us from getting these to you sooner. Thank you for reading this and all our articles, and continue to share your feedback with us.

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Ellick speaks on O.N.E. lunch suspension

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By: Melissa Rau, Staff Writer

For years, James River High School has enjoyed the privilege of O.N.E. lunch, a period of the day for students to eat their meals with their peers, seek academic strengthening, or participate in clubs and Capstones. Recently, however, students’ behavior saw its consequences.

Beginning on Monday, February 9th, students adapted to a new schedule, dividing the lunch, by class, into three different time slots. Many believed that this was the result of a dispute between two students that happened the week prior, but school principal Mr. Ellick tells that it was much more than that.

“It’s not about any one situation or one event, that’s gonna happen in any school, during any period of time,” Ellick said. “O.N.E. lunch is about the essence of responsibility.”

Students neglected to uphold this responsibility. After dismissing reminders, many continued to leave trash out, speak loudly, and forget to be polite.

“What you do, in the spirit of goodness and good manners, you eat, then you try to clean up and leave it better than you found it,” Ellick said. “But have we consistently done that? No. Can we do it? Yes.”

When asked what the principal hoped to accomplish in the suspension of O.N.E. lunch, he said it revolved around just that: manners.

“It’s not what I am trying to accomplish, it’s what we are trying to accomplish as a school,” Ellick said. “And when I say we, I mean every student, I mean every teacher, every staff member, every administrator- we are trying to make certain we understand what good manners are, what they look like, what respect is, what being kind is. That’s all it is.”

O.N.E. lunch is not a right, it is a privilege. But James River seemed to have reached a point where students lost the appreciation of that privilege- and such a unique one at that.

“We have it because we are James River,” Ellick said. “We said we can discard our trash. We said we could have good manners. We said, unlike most schools in this county, that you can listen to your music.”

Mr. Ellick “wouldn’t say that [he] like[s] O.N.E. lunch, [he] love[s] O.N.E. lunch. And [he] really do[es] mean that with authentic sincerity.” But why does he love it so much?

“O.N.E. lunch offers so many different opportunities to our students whether it’s to receive additional academic support during that 40 minute period, to participate in a club, or to facilitate one of the many, many service learning projects that we have, Capstones, for students to just take a pause in the rigor of the regular academic day, and to have that time available with their peers and their friends,” Ellick said. “Just for the sake of taking a step back while enjoying lunch goes a long ways to making every day positive and productive for our students. And for me, that’s a good thing for students, so it’s a good thing for our school because the students are the essence of the school house.”

Effective on Monday, February 23, James River students once again were able to enjoy the opportunities that the Opportunities Never Ending lunch provides. Hopefully, the suspension of O.N.E. lunch aided students in their understanding of the privilege that it truly is, and motivated them to regard it in that way.

After all, “we are one school, we are James River, and we can do better.”

Teachers expressed opinions on three lunch schedule

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By: Karla Llano Reyes, Staff Writer

The new lunch schedule that started on Monday, February 9th and ended Friday, February 13th didn’t just affect James River students. The teachers had many opinions about the new schedule as well.

Many teachers felt that there were understandable reasons that caused the change from O.N.E lunch to a three lunch schedule.

“Several problems caused this change. Trash, cursing, inappropriate behavior, noise, safety, students being disrespectful to adults in the building and teachers, [and] students not getting help from teachers,” Spanish teacher Tricia Stocks said.

There were teachers that thought that this new change was good because it would show the students that O.N.E lunch is a privilege.

“I think it’s going to be a good opportunity for the school community to reset our expectations about O.N.E lunch and how we use that time,” English teacher Stephanie Hubbard said.

Other teachers felt differently.They worried about not having time to eat their lunch in such a short period of time.

“I have been at James River when we had short lunch and it’s tough to eat in a short time period,” Stocks said.

Another teacher that didn’t like the new lunch system was World History teacher Melissa Compton. She felt “annoyed, mainly because of the time. Now my lunch is only 25 minutes long,” Compton said. She understood why the change occurred but she felt like it would be a problem.

Many of the students use O.N.E lunch to get help and finish up work that don’t take much time.The change didn’t allow students to go and ask for help anymore since classes would be going on at that time.

“Very few students come during lunch but they do come for help, especially for little things that don’t take up all A.E.P time,” Compton said.

Something the teachers did agree on the most is that the new change was something good for the students. However, the clubs that meet during lunch had been affected by the new lunch system.

“For example, it’s easier for freshman and sophomores who don’t drive to attend club meetings during O.N.E lunch. However I also agree with Mr.Ellick when he says that O.N.E. lunch is a privilege. I believe that it’s hard to appreciate a privilege when you have never known anything different,” Hubbard said.

Most students don’t use their lunch time like the they should be using it. The teachers also feel this way.

“I feel like students are not using their time wisely during the O.N.E lunch period.There’s positives and negatives.The students who do use it are with their teachers and using their time wisely.The students who don’t use it are getting into trouble,” Stocks said.

For some teachers, they thought that the students were beginning to develop some negative behaviors.

“I think that the fact that students took videos and that they were cheering, watching, encouraging the fight, those are all sort of signs of a mob mentality and signs that a culture was forming that we don’t want to encourage at James River,” French teacher Laurel Maughan said.

Many students think that lunch is a time period where they can do what they want, but since it is a privilege we still need to follow all the rules because we are still in school.

“At James River teachers and administrators work hard everyday to communicate the high expectations they have for our students,” Hubbard said. “When those expectations are not met, even by some students, something has to change in order to help all students make the right choices.”

O.N.E. Lunch seized from students

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By: Kayla Kirk, Staff Writer

“Immediately after the suspension of O.N.E. Lunch was announced, everyone I could see within my classroom reacted with either disgust or horror,” sophomore Emily Langston said

From February 9th-13th O.N.E. lunch had been temporarily taken away and was replaced with a new lunch schedule. There was three separate lunches, A lunch was from 10:25 to 10:50, B lunch was from 11:10 to 11:35, and C lunch was from 11:55 to 12:20. The new schedule had a major effect on all the things that occurred during O.N.E. Lunch such as clubs, making up work, remediation, and socializing with friends. Multiple students were angry about this and had a good feeling fights and the litter during lunch would still occur.

“This will only upset the student body. Our clubs will fall apart, and we have less time to talk and be with our friends, so we will be more obnoxious in class,” sophomore Sophia Foster said at the time.

There were many reasons as to why O.N.E. Lunch was taken away; for example, some fights, the recurring trash problem, abusing the use of cellphones, and the rise in foul language. O.N.E. lunch is a privilege and enabled students to have a lunch that allowed them to be with friends and eat without feeling rushed.

“I doubt this’ll last long; a lot of necessary stuff happens in our O.N.E. lunch, like remediation and being able to get makeup work. It also helps to be able to see friends and such,” sophomore Julia Moretti said at the time.

A majority of students knew this new lunch schedule would not be in effect for long considering how much occurred during O.N.E. Lunch. Many predicted that it would last for a week and they were correct, though this was due to the student body improving their behavior.

Lights, camera, fashion!

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By: Mikayla Grumiaux, Staff Writer

On Friday, February 13th, a fashion show was held in the theatre here at James River High School. The designers were students from Retail Therapy, and the clothing and outfits that they created were stunning and took lots of talent to create.

Before the show, models, designers, directors, and teachers scrambled to make sure that everyone knew their spots and positions so that the show could run smoothly and be a success. As the crowd started to pour into the theatre, everyone backstage was bubbling with excitement. Then, a student speaker walked on stage to introduce the show and category of clothing to the audience. The music started to play and the show began with models that worked the stage. There were three categories of clothing, “every day”, “Saturday night”, and “prom”. It was an amazing show that everyone enjoyed. Check out our photos below!

The models are being told where to enter, stand, pose, and exit the stage before the show begins.
The models are being told where to enter, stand, pose, and exit the stage before the show begins.
In the background there were mannequins set up that were displaying other articles of designed clothing.
In the background there were mannequins set up that were displaying other articles of designed clothing.
Some of the students and teachers discuss some specifics of the show before it starts.
Some of the students and teachers discuss some specifics of the show before it starts.
Jaws dropped when they saw this “every day” look strut across the stage.
Jaws dropped when they saw this “every day” look strut across the stage.
Some of the mens clothing looked very sharp and trendy.
Some of the men’s clothing looked very sharp and trendy.
This model poses for the crowd as she sports another beautiful outfit.
This model poses for the crowd as she sports another beautiful outfit.
The crowd loved the way these two models worked the stage together!
The crowd loved the way these two models worked the stage together!
In the “prom” category, this model captured the audiences attention with a wink and a nod.
In the “prom” category, this model captured the audiences attention with a wink and a nod.
This statement dress and stylish tux would look great for prom.
This statement dress and stylish tux would look great for prom.
These two models complemented each other well with an elegant dress and flashy tuxedo.
These two models complemented each other well with an elegant dress and flashy tuxedo.
This funny pose gave the audience a good laugh, and the dress took their breath away.
This funny pose gave the audience a good laugh, and the dress took their breath away.
All of the models came out one last time to take a bow.
All of the models came out one last time to take a bow.

Leelah Alcorn spreads awareness of transgender issues

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By: Carly Lester, Staff Writer

According to the Washington State Youth Suicide Prevention Program, more than 50 percent of transgender youth will have attempted suicide at least once before their 20th birthday. This shockingly tragic statistic is a reminder that treatment of transgender individuals in the United States has been significantly poor. Although human rights for trans women and men have been improving, they have not been improving at a fast enough pace, as seen with the case of Leelah Alcorn.

Leelah Alcorn, a 17 year-old transgender girl, recently took her own life by stepping in front of a semi-trailer on December 28, 2014. She stated in her suicide note that was posted on her tumblr account, that ever since she was four years-old, she felt like she was actually a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Many Americans feel as Leelah did, as about .3 percent, or 700,000 people, are transgender. This fact can be attributed to Gary Gates from the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, who sought to find how many Americans really are LGBT individuals. This estimate can be seen as unreliable, as many people may be hiding their true gender or not even know what transgender means.

Leelah Alcorn chose not to hide her true gender as she came out to her mother when she was 14 years old. According to her suicide note, her mother, Carla Alcorn, “responded extremely negatively” and told Leelah that “it was only a phase” and that she would never be a real girl. Carla continued to call her by her birth name, Joshua, and use male pronouns. Sadly, responses like this aren’t uncommon.

In Leelah’s case, her family wasn’t accepting largely due to the fact that they were very conservative and Christian. Many LGBT individuals face this same problem on their path to coming out and seeking acceptance from their relatives. Christians typically believe that there are only two genders, male and female, and you are stuck with the gender that you were born with, as this is what God chose. They believe that being transgender “distorts God’s image and plan.” This explains why Leelah’s parents were so opposed to her actually being female.

Leelah made a post on her tumblr account that made it very clear that her parents did the opposite of what was best for her. She stated that their hurtful words against her, saying that she was wrong about herself and that God doesn’t make mistakes, made her hate herself.

Parents should always accept their children, no matter what gender or sexuality they are. To all transgender teens attending James River High School: do not dwell on what your parents may think or say about you. Do not pretend to be someone that you are not just for someone else’s benefit. You can come out and choose to transition whenever you feel fit, but always know that whatever your family does, you are still powerful and your identity is valid. We need to work together as a community to end transphobia and to make transgender individuals feel as though they belong instead of constantly bringing them down. Society needs to be fixed.

If you need help, Trans Lifeline can be reached at 877-565-8860. For LGBT youth (ages 24 and younger) contemplating suicide, the Trevor Project Lifeline can be reached at 1-866-7386. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 can also be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities.

Investigating crime scenes at James River

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By: Allie Duncan, Staff Writer

James River offers Forensic Chemistry as an elective for juniors and seniors who are interested in science and want something new to explore.

Forensic Chemistry teacher Tara Brunyansky got her Masters degree in Forensic Chemistry from the University of Florida, and worked in downtown Richmond’s state forensic lab.

“I analyzed samples to see if they contained drugs, if it contained a drug I identified what drug was present,” Brunyansky said.

This course is best for people who like science, crime solving and mysteries. Students must have taken chemistry and passed the class to be qualified to take this as an elective.

“The material is challenging, little to no math, and [requires] critical thinking. For this class, you need to know trigonometry, chemistry, stoichiometry and dimensional analysis,” Brunyansky said .

Forensic Chemistry has unique experiments that are different from the typical chemistry classes such as extracting fake poison from a stomach, synthesizing aspirin, finding types of insects growing on a victim, and determining their time of death.

This this class will be available to rising juniors and seniors. Even though you may not be able to take it now, ask Mrs. Brunyansky for more information if your are interested in taking this course in the future.