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Required Classes Should be Electives

posted Oct 12, 2017, 10:04 AM by Stephanie Brozovich

As students converse between classes, there are often complaints of a class, saying it’s useless to make it required, and that they’ll never need to use it again outside of school. For example, all students at Conway Springs High School are required to have three years of math and science. Students’ complaints are often based off of core classes, such as math and science, which become more advanced as the years go by. Physics, Chemistry, Trigonometry, and Calculus are advanced math and science classes that not every student will use later on in everyday life and in their careers.

 Dr. Bruce Umbaugh, a philosophy professor at Webster University in St. Louis, Mo. is against the idea of making core classes electives. Umbaugh emphasizes the fact that students concentrate so hard on what they’ll select as a major that they often overlook the importance of learning general skills like problem solving, communicating effectively, and analyzing information, which are often gained through general education classes, including upper-level math and science. On the other hand, College professors, such as Paul Hanstedt, an English professor at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, believes these classes “go hand in hand with each other and are very important”.

However, the advanced classes that we are required to take focus on certain scenarios that deal with that field of science or math. You won’t need to know how to do a complex chemistry or calculus problems to know how to solve a problem that may come up in your art career. This is why I think that advanced classes of the core subjects should be an elective, not a requirement.

Although I understand that general skills such as Dr. Umbaugh mentioned can be learned through these classes, I think they are so fact-based that teachers don’t have the time to allow students to learn them because they are so busy memorizing facts. These subjects require so much understanding of the basic, multiple choice type knowledge that there is not the opportunity to learn through essays and projects that require broader understanding.

Fine Arts' educational importance

posted Apr 25, 2017, 10:59 AM by Makenna Beesley   [ updated May 1, 2017, 6:27 AM ]

In Kansas and most of the United States, schools’ fine arts programs are receiving  severe budget cuts. However, they are vital to students’ education. There are so many things that people can benefit from fine arts programs like music, art, photography, theater, and graphic design. The arts are what makes us most human.

According to the KATY Independent School District, there is data that supports the belief that participation in fine arts is a key component in improving students’ learning in all academic subjects. It also says that fine arts programs reduce the amount of student dropouts, raise student attendance, develop better team players and enhance creativity. Fine arts also improve fine motor skills and emotional balance.

The arts also have other benefits besides those that are academic based, like promoting self-esteem, motivation, cultural exposure and emotional expression, as well as social harmony and appreciation of diversity. In a study by Burton in 1999, after studying more than 2,000 students, researchers found that those in a fine arts program were far superior in creative thinking, self-concept, problem solving, self-expression, risk-taking and cooperation than those who were not.

            We need fine arts programs in our schools to not just help students academically but to help them emotionally. These programs will not only make students’ lives happy and more enjoyable, but they will also help to shape better people in our world.

Students should avoid taking out student loans

posted Apr 19, 2017, 11:17 AM by stu.maryberntsen@usd356.org

When you are thinking of college and its expenses, what is the first thing you do? For some, it is to apply for financial aid, scholarships and student loans. All students are required to complete the FAFSA form for the federal government. Those students who qualify are offered grants, and most students and/or their parents are offered loans. While it might be tempting to accept loans, I think they are something to avoid. Did you know that roughly 70 percent of college graduates graduate with student loan debt?

Student Loan Hero gathered statistics from graduates of the class of 2016, and the average student loan debt was around $37,000. That number rose 6 percent from the year before and is expected to rise again in 2017. As deep in debt as this country already is, I don’t like the idea of adding my name to the list of 44 million people who have student loan debt. I think that it’s okay to try to find aid in the form of scholarships and grants when you don’t have the money on hand, but getting into debt for a degree you might not use right after college seems a little silly.

Scholarships and grants are your best bet to get free money for college, and they give you a chance to build wealth. Building wealth will give you a chance to save more money for the next year and so on until you graduate. Applying for loans should be avoided as much as you can and if you do get one, make sure it’s small enough that you can pay it off quickly. You might have to work a little harder to get the money, but if you can graduate debt-free then it would be worth it.

The benefits of reading

posted Apr 19, 2017, 8:47 AM by Madelyn Koester

While reading can sometimes be boring and tedious, it can also be very beneficial. Reading can have many positive aspects. According to an article on Reader's Digest, it gives muscle to your memory, relieves stress, boosts your vocabulary, improves empathy, can encourage life goals, helps you get more connected and can brighten your day.

Reading also has the ability to keep your brain young. According to a recent study from Rush University Medical Center, adults who spend their downtime doing intellectual activities (like reading) had a 32 percent slower rate of cognitive decline later in life than those who didn’t. Another study by Robert S. Wilson, Ph.D., professor of neuropsychology at Rush University Medical Center, said that older adults who regularly read or play mentally challenging games are two and a half times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.

I personally like to read if it is an interesting book or subject. I think the reason why most people don’t like reading is because they can’t find something that interests them. Some people don’t like to read because they think they are too slow, while other people think they just aren’t good at reading.

I believe that if people want to succeed in something, they should practice. So, if you are one of those people who don’t believe they are “good” at something, I encourage you to practice at it everyday. It doesn’t have to be very long, but if you try at it, you will eventually see improvement overtime. Also, if you can’t find something that interests you, you could ask a librarian so they could try and help you find something that suits your interests.

Reading is crucial to succeeding in most things. Not only does it help you become smarter, but it also is good for your brain and could possibly benefit your mental health in the future. Overall, I would encourage everyone of all ages to find something that interests them and to read more. It could help you now and in future circumstances to come.


ACT- Take the Test

posted Mar 8, 2017, 9:07 AM by Leah Reep

Over the next month, many CSHS students will be studying for the upcoming ACT test on April 8. Though the scores from your ACT can be sent to your dream college, is the test really necessary? In past years, the ACT has been the main factor of college admissions.  Recently, colleges have become more picky and look more into your GPA, but of course, they will still use your score as part of the decision-making process.

If you take the ACT, you have a choice of taking college classes in high school. Personally, I will take the ACT in April as well, and I would agree that it is necessary for a shot at a great college and future. At first I was not sure if I wanted to take the test, because it just seems so intimidating, but I started to do some reading about it and came across studentaid.ed.gov, which states, “Like the SAT, the ACT is accepted by almost all colleges and universities. But instead of measuring how you think, the ACT measures what you’ve learned in school.”

This test is supposed to be hard but overall straightforward on what it is asking, according to Kristin Fracchia, a daily blogger on Magoosh.com, who gives information on the ACT and the best ways to prepare for it. But I have a good feeling with taking this test though, even as an amaetur.

Some students in high school choose to not go to college, but the question is if they should have to take it. If a student is sure they are not going to college, then I would say they should not have to take the ACT, but I would tell them to keep it in mind just in case they ever change their mind about going to college.

My overall opinion would be to study hard and take the ACT. It benefits you in your college admissions, gets you into college classes in your high school, and helps you see what position you are in with academics.


Is television becoming outdated?

posted Feb 7, 2017, 8:26 AM by stu.zachschwarzenberger@usd356.org

There have been some who have said that watching television is becoming a thing of the past. While the days of channel surfing are over, I don’t believe that TV is outdated; it’s just changing. People aren’t willing to shell out money anymore for hundreds of channels they don’t watch when they could just stream all their favorite shows on the Internet.

This is why many streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are doing so well. These services cost less than cable packages, at around $10 a month, and come with an enormous catalog of movies and TV shows that people can watch at any time.

Since the streaming services kicked off, major television channels began to follow in their footsteps. Many channels have their recent episodes available on their websites, channels like FOX and NBC have free apps for devices like Apple TV and Roku with recent episodes available, and channels like CBS, HBO and Showtime and now all offer a paid streaming service for additional content, as well as their normal cable packages. Last year, Dish Network reported that their “Sling TV app has grown over 600,000 users, up from their 169,000 in March 2015.”Sling, a service that combines streaming of channels like TBS and HGTV with a selection of on-demand episodes and movies from those channels, is another cheaper alternative to cable and satellite.

One of the best parts about this is that there are so many different kinds of services that people can choose depending on what they want. If they like a broader catalog with a few originals, then services like Netflix and Hulu are suitable. If people like more current shows then HBO and Sling are good for that. Sports fans could get watchESPN. For people who like anime, Crunchyroll has that for them.

Even though you still have to pay for these services, people can have access to them anywhere. This is because most smartphones, tablets, game consoles, computers and televisions can just download an app for the service.

Cable is definitely starting to become outdated, but that doesn’t mean that watching TV is. Like everything else in the world, it’s just changing, and I think it’s for the better.

The future of education

posted Jan 23, 2017, 9:08 AM by stu.jessicamies@usd356.org   [ updated Jan 23, 2017, 9:10 AM ]

Even before President Trump was sworn in as president, Senate hearings for his administration were starting to take place. One that particularly stuck out to me was Betsy DeVos, the prospective candidate for secretary of education. After reading up on Mrs. DeVos, my first thought was “Why her?”.

According to The Washington Post, DeVos is a Michigan billionaire, businesswoman, and philanthropist. She is a former Republican Party chairwoman and is a chair on the pro-school-choice advocacy group American Federation for Children. Not only that, but she is for the movement to privatize public education and pass laws that require the federal government to use public funds to pay for private school tuition in a system known as vouchers. According to Forbes.com, quoted from DeVos herself, her family has “possibly” donated $200 million to the Republican Party over the years. In addition to her anti-public school advocacy, the worst thing is that she has zero experience in public education.

DeVos is a highly unqualified candidate for secretary of education; to allow someone who has never worked in or even attended public schools, doesn’t have a basic understanding of educational concepts like growth and proficiency, and, as Senator Elizabeth Warren pointed out during the hearing, has no experience in banking, which the Department of Education deals with when it comes to student loans and federal aide, is an insult to the future of education.

Students and parents should be concerned about someone who is overseeing an entire department of public education when she herself has no experience in it. I understand that DeVos won’t have the freedom  to do anything she wants because we have a separation of powers in our government, but with Republicans as the majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it is more likely that laws that do not benefit public education could be passed.

    What people need to remember about DeVos and the rest of President Trump’s administration is that if they are doing things that aren’t in the best interest of Americans, we the people need to keep them accountable for their actions. If that is the case, we shouldn’t just let it slide; we need to take action, especially we students, who will possibly be directly affected in either USD 356 or our continued education.

The problem with texting while driving

posted Dec 6, 2016, 8:59 AM by stu.zachschwarzenberger@usd356.org

Imagine you, and maybe a friend or two, are in a car speeding down the highway completely drunk. For obvious reasons, this is a terrible idea. After all, driving intoxicated accounts for several car accidents every year. What’s strange is that not as many people frown upon someone who texts while driving, even though it’s just as dangerous.

    Most people feel they are good enough to look at their phones while driving, but according to a study by the University of Utah, people who are texting while they drive are eight times more likely to crash. If that’s the case, then why do we still have people that will pull out their phones to check their messages while driving? Not only does this put you in danger, but it also endangers anyone else in the car and other drivers on the road.

    People might feel that the text message might be important and feel the need to read it immediately. While it’s possible this could happen, maybe a close friend is in danger and needs help, it’s very unlikely that the text would need you to take your eyes off the road. If you really feel you need to read the message, you should pull over to the side of the road or get somewhere where you can park safely.

    Texting and driving has been an issue for years, and I don’t see it fully going away anytime soon. Although 46 states already made it illegal to send messages while driving, I’m sure that within the next few years it will definitely be seen as something that is as bad as drunk driving.


Teens need to prioritize sleep time

posted Nov 21, 2016, 8:50 AM by Amanda Smith

A commonly asked question in today’s society is “Do students get enough sleep?” Studies show that most teenagers need about eight to 10 hours of sleep a night. However, a study done by the National Sleep Foundation showed that only 15 percent of students reported getting eight and a half hours of sleep. This means that the majority of students in the nation are failing to meet the needed sleep time.

One thing that affects students’ sleep is extracurricular activities. As an athlete, most days I arrive at school at 7:45 a.m. and don’t leave the school until around 6:15 p.m. Add in dinner, family time, homework, and for some, work, and it’s easily already 11 p.m. For those who aren’t involved in as many activities, sleep still doesn’t come easy. Many teenagers don’t go to sleep until 10:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., a fact shown in a study done by the National Sleep Foundation.

Teens need to know the negative effects of not getting enough sleep so that they can improve their day-to-day lives.

As most people know, sleep is a very crucial aspect in everybody’s life. Lack of sleep can lead to both minor and major consequences. In the classroom, it means troubles concentrating, learning and listening. If students can’t concentrate, learn or listen in school, what’s the point of attending? This seems like a wasted day to me.

Not getting the required amount of sleep can lead to bad decisions, as well. Many teenagers resort to coffee or other caffeinated drinks, such as energy drinks or pop. Some teens even turn to alcohol or nicotine as a result of lack of sleep, which causes further health risks.

According to A Clinical Guide to Pediatric Sleep: Diagnosis and Management of Sleep Problems, there are many solutions to this issue. One includes cutting all electronics from your nightly routine. Some suggest that taking a hot bath or shower can also help you fall asleep earlier. Maintaining a consistent routine every night can also help your body begin to “see” the signals that it’s time for bed so that the negative effects of not getting enough sleep can be minimized.


Schools' start times should be later

posted Nov 17, 2016, 11:20 AM by Makenna Beesley

You walk in right as the bell rings, and even though you’re at school physically, you’re not there mentally. Most students are now found to be borderline “pathologically sleepy” according to a study done by American sleep researcher Mary Carskadon.

According to this study, 40 percent of public schools start before 8:30 a.m., which plays a clear part in students’ daily schedules. Middle and high school students are supposed to get between 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep, but the study found they are usually getting significantly less, which can lead to a higher rate of obesity, depression, bad grades, and a lower quality of life.

“Getting enough sleep is important for students’ health, safety, and academic performance,” Anne Wheaton, the lead author and epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Population Health, said. “Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need.”

According to an article in “The Atlantic”, teenagers’ internal clocks operate differently. It’s harder for teens to fall asleep in the early evenings, but they would need to sleep then because of the schools’ early start times. This  is partially why teens are getting less sleep. Approximately 9,000 students with later start times were also researched and were found to have boosts in attendance, test scores, and grades and a decrease in substance abuse and symptoms of depression.

Even if there are some negatives to having schools start later, such as issues with scheduling after school activities, the benefits are far greater. More sleep, better grades, and a better overall quality of life are just a few things that I feel are more important than anything that would go wrong with changing the school times. After all, not only will students have more time to sleep, but so will teachers. This is something where everyone will benefit, and I hope this is a policy that can be enacted for the betterment of all students in the United States.


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