Students Everywhere Demand Tighter Gun Controls

As many know, on Wednesday February 14th, 2018, a nineteen year-old gunman entered a high school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, killing seventeen people. Students everywhere have been pushing for tighter gun controls.

I am a high school student, and I am sad to say that every day when I walk into school, I fear that something like this will happen to my school. I leave school every day, relieved that I’ve made it out.

At school, the day after the events on Wednesday, I was afraid to get out of my chair to let a student who had gone to the bathroom back into the classroom, out of fear that it could be someone else.

After the event, I, and many others were immediately tweeting for tighter gun control laws; many of us under the age of 18 — not even eligible to vote. The only thing we heard from our “leaders” was the phrase, “Prayers and condolences,” as though that would make a change.

Although no one can change what happened to not only Douglas High School, but to Columbine, Sandy Hook, Marshall County, and many others, we can change what happens next.

It wasn’t until after school on Thursday that my mom and I had a more in depth talk about everything that had happened. We had spoken briefly about it on Wednesday, but shared more of our thoughts on Thursday.

She said to me, “All this time, I thought my generation was the revolution, but after seeing all these kids speaking up, I realize, it’s you guys.”

We don’t need to arm school staff, and we definitely don’t need to send “thoughts and prayers.” What we need is better control over who can own a gun. No one needs a semi-automatic weapon on their person. Guns were made to injure and kill, and for a nineteen year old boy to be able to possess such a machine, but not be able to buy a drink is baffling.

#GunControlNow

 

Article here

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Dress Code and How it Promotes Rape Culture

Dress codes have been implemented in schools for decades. A dress code is a set of rules that dictate how students are expected to dress in school. In some situations, a dress code is necessary and beneficial to students and staff in schools, while in other situations, a dress code can be harmful.

Administrators enforce a dress code with the intention of “minimizing distraction.” While this makes sense, and can be beneficial on the surface, it sets a double standard between men and women. Telling a girl to cover up because it is distracting to the boys promotes rape culture. According to The Women’s Center at Marshall University, rape culture exists in “an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.”

For example, when my friends are pulled out of class, or called out in the hallways, embarrassed and ashamed for simply showing their shoulders or thighs, it somehow makes them the problem.

While boys whistle and touch them without their consent, this still somehow becomes the victim’s fault. What someone is wearing cannot provoke another to act wrongly. To punish someone for being a victim doesn’t solve a problem. We must find the root of the problem, which is the perpetrator.

Until school administrators are able to punish the true problem, those being punished for these “offenses” will continue to suffer. We cannot continue to teach young people that an attack is the fault of the victim. Instead, the aggressors must know that unacceptable behavior is the bigger problem that needs to be addressed.

#FREECYNTOIABROWN

In 2006, Cyntoia Brown shot and killed 43-year-old Johnny Michael Allen, whom she was hired by for sex. She was also forced into sex with other men by 24-year-old Garion “Cut Throat” McGlothen. She was tried as a adult and convicted of first degree murder and has been in prison for over a decade and will not be eligible for parole until she is sixty nine years old.

This is news worthy because this woman’s act was out of self defense. Brown was physically, sexually, and mentally abused. She did not consent to the things that happened to her before the shooting, this was not sex work, this was sex trafficking. She was tried as an adult, inadequately represented, and sentenced to 51 years in prison for an act of self-defense.

Women like Cyntoia Brown are put in positions like hers too often. Things like this shouldn’t happen to anyone, ever. While being questioned by the male prosecutor, she was asked why she was “comfortable enough” to “let” this man take her home and give her food, and then suddenly stopped feeling comfortable. The man asking her these questions has no idea what a young woman might feel in the situation that Brown was put into.

Young women of color are often seen as more adult than they actually are, while white children are seen as “young and innocent” well into their twenties. So, the environment in which she was being questioned in had not only an issue of gender, but an issue of race. Cyntoia Brown was not given a fair trial and hasn’t been taken seriously through any of this. She deserves to get out of prison and live as normal of a life as possible.

Articles here and here

Texas Church Shooting

This morning, at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, multiple people were killed and many were injured in a shooting that occurred inside the church.

This story is news worthy because it it shows yet again our need for better gun control. We cannot continue to let such a lethal weapon fall into the hands of those with malicious intentions. We cannot continue to let people die. These attacks are only becoming more frequent and more fatal. We must institute better gun control laws and prevent such people from ever holding a gun.

We are now at a point in which people say, “We had another mass shooting today.” We feel helpless and as though our legislators are not acting in the best wishes of the people. Are they catering to gun lobbyists and NRA money? Do they care about the people they have to power to protect in their districts? Gun legislation has come to a critical point, either out senators choose to accept lots of money while citizens suffer, or they choose to stand up for what’s right. We must protect Americans from other Americans.

In conclusion, everyone’s crazy and we do everything wrong.

 

Article here.

#MeToo

In the past week, people everywhere have been participating in a social media campaign raising awareness to sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexual discrimination. By posting to platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, people around the world have shown their respect and shared their stories.

This is newsworthy because sexual assault is a major problem in many places and many people are unaware of how common it actually is. This campaign changes things. Many people are beginning to feel more comfortable speaking openly about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment. If we continue to talk about this and raise awareness, those who are experiencing and have experienced sexual assault might be able to come forward and make a change in their own lives and the lives of others. In addition, by calling out and naming these offenses, perhaps the offenders will change their behaviors and recognize that these are criminal offenses. This cannot continue, and this online campaign is only the beginning. We must continue to talk about this. Victims of these attacks should be able to come forward. Perpetrators and those who do not take victims seriously are holding these people back from telling the truth and gaining justice. Women must continue to speak the truth without fear of retaliation, and sexual offenders must stop their actions in order for everyone to live in a safer world.

Terror in Vegas

As many know, on Sunday, October 1st, the largest mass shooting in modern American history occurred at a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fifty eight people were killed and over 500 others were injured.

Now is the time for our elected officials to present and pass legislation that protects American citizens from those who choose to posess firearms and kill innocent people. Now. Now is the time for our Congress to act.

America is failing in enacting gun laws. In 1996, the first major mass shooting in Australia took place in Tasmania. In response to this, Australia sharply restricted the availability of guns, resulting in a large decrease in gun crimes.

It’s time for the American Congress to realize that the will of the American people does not coincide with the will of the National Rifle Association. The NRA continues to pay off our congressmen for their best interests. Until campaign finance reform is enacted, the NRA will continue to influence our laws in a way that hurts and kills American citizens.

Our laws can make a difference. Obviously, the ones we have now aren’t working, considering the thousands of American lives lost to mass shootings in the last decade.  It’s time for congressmen to follow the will of the people, and buck the NRA. American citizens deserve to live without fear of being killed at any time.

 

See article here.

Crisis in Puerto Rico

It’s been over a week since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The entire island and its infrastructure have been destroyed by this storm, not to mention it was recovering from Hurricane Irma, which had landed four days before.

And while this island is in a complete crisis, Donald Trump is tweeting about football.

For the last week, while Puerto Rico has been trying to recover from this massive storm, Trump has been complaining about football. He did take a break from his incredibly presidential twitter ranting to let everyone know that, “This is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean, a really, really big ocean.” He also tweeted that the island is in “deep trouble” because it was “already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt.”

This story is newsworthy because it affects all of Puerto Rico. People died and more people will die if we do not help them. This is a humanitarian crisis in the making. A natural disaster is not the fault of the region it hits or the people in that region, and what the people of Puerto Rico need now is immediate action from those who are able to help. There is a collection point for donations for hurricane relief at Wings book store in Saint Petersburg, Florida, and they are collecting between now and Sunday for a shipment to San Juan.

Fine article here

All About Mrs. Ruiz!

Chrismarie Morales Ruiz has been teaching at Bloomingdale High School for eight years, and is currently teaching Marine Science and Biology.

She decided to become a teacher when she was a senior in college, and applied to a program in New York to start teaching, soon returning to Florida to teach. “I think teaching found me,” said Mrs. Ruiz.

With passion for helping kids, she mentioned that many of the jobs she did throughout high school and college were education-oriented. She has high hopes for her students, caring deeply for their success and their views on science. “I’m hoping that they (students) will walk away (from my class) liking science, or loving science, more than when they entered the class.” Said Mrs. Ruiz.

“Because a lot of kids will say that they’re not good at science, or that science is boring, so I try to make it interesting at times. Sometimes it’s not going to be as exciting because of what we have to cover, but hopefully, when we can do more exciting things, it engages (the students) and brings them into liking science.”

One thing she would change about teaching/schools would be to have less standardized testing. “Not everybody performs well on tests and may have a lot of anxiety, which may affect their performance.”

She mentioned doing a portfolio to go along with the test, to hopefully show what a student could do without the stress that comes with standardized testing.

“I understand why we have to do standardized testing because there are so many kids that we have to test, but if there was a different method for them to show what they had learned that year, versus just that one test … when they’re so stressed out that one bad day could affect their performance, that might help.”

If Mrs. Ruiz wasn’t teaching, she says that, “Now, I would be a stay at home Mom since I’m expecting … that’s for sure.” She rubbed her belly as she said this, a proud smile on her face. “I used to say, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll be a doctor!’ But, now my priorities have changed a bit since this little guy will be here soon.”

Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria has begun to hit Puerto Rico, already leaving at least six people dead. As of now, the entire island has no power. The roofs of homes and shopping centers have been blown off by these harsh weather conditions, and although the storm is supposed to weaken slightly over the next two days, it doesn’t look to be getting much better any time soon.

Rescue and recovery efforts are to be continued and controlled after the storm as well as during. The island is getting generators, mattresses, food and water from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and from others in the private sector, and officials have established a logistics center, which will receive all incoming aid and then distribute it to 12 zones throughout the island.

Not only has the storm hit Puerto Rico, it has also had an impact on the Caribbean, leaving at least 27 dead, as well as 15 deaths in Dominica; 3 in Haiti, 2 in Guadeloupe; and 1 in the Dominican Republic. Some elderly residents had been found in rural areas without food and necessary medication. Early reports said that luckily, there was minimal damage done to the Dominican Republic. The situation is under control despite harsh wind and rain.

The recovery of this storm will be incredibly difficult and time consuming, but with the help of officials and volunteers, those places affected by these harsh weather conditions can return to normal.

 

Sources here

Hailey Ragan

Motivated and Passionate, Hailey Ragan is working hard to find her path and purpose in life. She is passionate about helping others and claims, “it just comes easily to me.”

She is motivated and inspired by her dreams and aspirations, which include working with children and helping others. She is interested in learning about the world, mentioning: “I’ve always wanted to travel.” She wants to travel to Paris, Italy, and Hawaii.

She values family and her own success over many things; an admirable characteristic. “In 10 years, I’ll be 26! Woah.” She exasperated after being asked about what she’d like to be doing in 10 years. “I’d like have a family and be working at a good job that I enjoy.” She mentioned her mother as one of her biggest role models.

She struggles in math in school, and has a hard time in sports. She used to dance, but doesn’t anymore and opened up saying “I’m trying to find something to get involved in, but I don’t know what to do.”

She defines “quality” as “something that has a lot of hard work put into it. Ragan is definitely a quality person, seeing that she puts hard work into many of the things she does.