Students plan to walk out to encourage school safety

BY: JULIA MCHALE, ALEX HENNIGER, ZACH GOLDBERG, PRASANNA VENUGOPAL AND NATASHA TORRES

On Apr. 20, Shenendehowa High School students are joining the national movement of walking out against gun violence at schools.

This movement was started by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, FL, after a gunman opened fire at school and killed 17 of their peers. The hope is to address the issue of gun violence in our country.

Organizers say the date of Apr. 20 is significant because it is the 19th anniversary of Columbine, the first mass school shooting in America. Between Columbine and Parkland there were 207 school shootings. Since 1999, 150,000 students have had the misfortune of experiencing a school shooting.

According to organizers the Shenendehowa walkout is to send a powerful and effective message advocating for safer schools. These students will be making a firm statement that they want to be safe, not only at their school, but nationwide as well.  

Hunter Galpin, senior class president, said he supports the walkout as long as its purpose is for school safety rather than gun control, which he believes is political. Galpin believes that Shenendehowa “should be pro-safety as a school,” and that “there’s a difference between anti-guns and anti-guns in school.”

Nicholas Matthews, a sophomore at Shenendehowa, similarly to Galpin, supports the walkout’s message of school safety. Matthews believes that to prevent school shootings, there “should be more police in school, metal detectors, and more random searches.”

Since Shenendehowa is a large high school in upstate New York, organizers hope that strength in numbers will gain the attention needed to stop the repetition of school shootings.

Organizers are planning the walkout to start at 1 p.m. through the end of the school day.

Instead of just walking out, students at Shen have planned multiple activities to take place on the field, including student speeches and booths from many Capital Region organizations like The New York Civil Liberties Union, League of Women Voters, and more. In addition there are tables run by students on topics they are most passionate about, such as a “write your representative” table and one that breaks down the Second Amendment.

After the initial walkout, there will be a town hall event in the auditorium with local politicians, teachers, students, and various organizations. There will be a student moderator there filtering questions and making sure things run smoothly.

While the school district is not involved in the walkout, administrators have worked with organizers to ensure the safety of students during the event. The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department has agreed to watch over the event, according to administrators.

“We want to make sure we support students and whatever they choose to do and make sure it is a safe environment,” said Mr. Ron Agostinoni, Shenendehowa high school principal.

Kayleigh Nadal, a Junior at Shenendehowa, feels more comfortable walking out with the police along with the precautions put in place.

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A “crippling disease,” Senioritis is taking over the school

BY: CHRISTOPHER FELTS AND GARRETT WALTERS

Senioritis is the commonly used term to describe the feeling that many High School Seniors have. In many high schools it is beginning to become more widespread, especially with the second semester right around the corner.

While many joke about the phenomenon, it can have negative consequences and effect habits students will take with them to college.

The Urban Dictionary definition of senioritis is “A crippling disease that strikes high school seniors. Symptoms include: laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants, old athletic shirts, sweatpants, athletic shorts, and sweatshirts. Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude. The only known cure is a phenomenon known as graduation.”

In what has become a common and accepted theme, seniors are usually not as motivated in the classroom during their final portion of their high school career. It can get out of hand quickly and effect options a student may have like admission into a certain college.

Many students even believe that it can bring down the rest of the high school community.

“Senioritis is when seniors start getting lazy and stop trying because they are graduating soon,” Nicole Vadney, a senior, said. “It affects the Shen High School community by rubbing off underclassmen who should not be getting it because they aren’t even graduating this year.”

Miriam Krupski, a senior said, “It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a senior but you have been in school for so long that you run out of steam to keep going.”

According to a survey conducted by the Steinhardt School at New York University, 69.7 percent of seniors either strongly agree or agree that their academic effort will most likely decline during the second semester of their senior year.

Brian Harding, a senior, said, “When you know you can slack off and get away with it, you do it.”

Underclassmen have noticed this trend as well.

Nico Tebbano, a sophomore, said, “I’ve noticed that it’s more common in kids that don’t play sports.”

Senioritis usually begins to take shape right around this time of year, as students have finished applying to colleges and eagerly await to hear back. It can hit hardest after being accepted into college.

Jack Nelson, a senior who recently commited to Siena College, said, “Now that I know where I’m going, my grades aren’t as important now.”

Nelson explained that there’s a period of relaxation after the euphoric feeling of getting into college.

One negative consequence is that colleges can rescind any potential scholarships or revoke your acceptance if your grades slip too much.

Harding acknowledges that if your grades slip too much and colleges revoke admissions and scholarships, then it can be a problem.

“If colleges pull scholarships, then it becomes a problem. But as long as you pass senior year with decent enough grades, it really isn’t a big issue.”

Krupski said, “As long as your grades stay up you’re okay but once they start slipping is when you need to start coming back to reality.”

A Washington Post article says that senioritis is an inevitable phenomenon and you can only taint it to a certain degree. The article also mentions that there are ways to combat the trend.

Some examples would be that parents of seniors could give their kids work around home in order to keep them from getting in trouble.  They believe that skipping classes leads to a higher risk of not wanting to go to college to obtain a degree.

There are several ways to combat senioritis. Tebbano suggested that the best way to counteract this is to join a sport or club.

College Countdown, a program that helps students in applying to college, stresses that grades still matter, even as you begin the downhill portion of your high school career. They mentioned to stop bad habits before they start and try to have fun in the process.

With graduation right around the corner for seniors, it is easy to follow the trend set by classmates and peers. However, there are still classes to pass and finals to take.

It is important for students to enjoy the time they have left and have fun as they focus on post-grad plans and head into their last few months as a senior in High School.

More students use vapes

BY: JESSICA BARTH AND SHANNON YOUMANS

If you’re walking down the hall and smell cherries or mint, it most likely isn’t perfume or chewing gum. Although the clouds of smoke from vapes are typically inhaled discreetly, the smell from them is not concealed as easily.

If you follow the smell, you can find groups of teenagers passing around vapes through sleeves and behind backs, usually crowded in hidden corners or bathroom stalls.

Recently, vaping has been a hot topic on the Shenendehowa School blog- the Grapevine.

One anonymous post claimed we are in the midst of “the great vape epidemic” at Shen, claiming it is impossible to go into a bathroom in the high school without encountering vapers.

Another post expresses concern saying “vaping in our middle schools and high schools is becoming a problem that we can’t ignore.”

The responses to these posts range from comical to dismissive. The anonymous Shen official  who responds to these blog posts frequently answers with “these actions have consequences” or “it takes a village.”

But if there are strict consequences for the students who choose to vape in school, how is it still such a huge problem at Shen?

A senior at Shenendehowa,17, who chose to remain anonymous said “vaping is popular in high school because teenagers view it as a rebellious act without any serious consequences.”

However, Michael, another senior at Shenendehowa, has experienced the repercussions of vape use in the school.

He mentioned that he is a frequent vaper, and “former cigarette addict.”

“I have been searched a couple of times for vaping, but it never forces me to fully stop, everyone does it,” he said.

Class assistant principal, Lucas Labarre said that  any student caught using a vape or in possession of any vape parts results in automatic suspension.

“We have had about 40 suspensions this year,” he said.

Even students that do not vape are well aware of this phenomenon in Shen. Maddy, a senior who rarely uses vaporizers, said “nobody really did it a while ago and now everyone does.”

The common use of vapes at this high school could be due to the plethora of vape shops in relative distance to the school. Vapor Geekz and 51Vape are within minutes of each other, and the school, while Smoke Signals is down Route 9.

The increase use in vaporizers in comparison to cigarettes demonstrates its popularity. Cigarette smoking among teens has dropped from 16 percent to 9 percent in recent years, while the use of e-cigarettes has risen to 13 percent.

An anonymous senior at Shen commented, “Vaping feels more like your lungs will actually survive, cigarettes feel like dirt.”

With technology on a rise, vapes are only getting smaller and easier for teenagers to conceal. This also creates a grey area for administration, as these devices are so rampant it becomes nearly impossible for schools such as Shenendehowa to fully enforce the code of conduct.

Labarre said “This has been an issue for about four or five years now. In the past, these devices were big mods that were nearly 200 dollars. Now, they are small and disposable allowing kids to throw them away quickly if caught.”

As one grapevine post asked, “There is a huge vaping problem at Shen. Is anyone going to address it?”

Like many issues, vaping is being addressed through education, and largely being put into the hands of teenagers. Health classes in Shenendehowa address the possible dangers of vaping, and the lack of research on any major health defects.

Labarre noted the concern he has for students health, saying “Our largest concern, as these have become so popular, is that they can be used for a variety of things, including illegal drug use such as THC based products. There is a misconception that they aren’t bad for you, but recent studies are showing that they are just as harmful, if not more harmful, than cigarettes.”

Despite being provided with this information, one anonymous senior said “everyone is a follower now and everyone gets one.”

Another senior mentioned that “at the end of the day, it is still an addiction.”

Although a large percentage of teens with vapes may walk around with them to follow the latest trend or appear cool, we must assume that some of these teens are actually addicted to their devices. Teens are, in fact, the most susceptible group to addiction.

Just as cigarettes used to be commonplace on school grounds, vapes have now filled the space that they left behind.

Conspiracy theories will have you overthinking everything

BY: MADISON HAYES

Have you ever made up an answer for a question that didn’t have one? Or maybe stumbled across something that made you question everything you previously thought you knew?

Well, if that’s the case, you might just be a conspiracy theorist in the making.

Over the recent years, with all the inexplicable tragedies and atrocities the world has been facing, a new trend has surfaced on the internet, one that tries to provide answers to scenarios you can’t wrap your head around.

Conspiracy theories are an explanation of an event or situation that evokes an unwarranted conspiracy. They challenge previous prevailing understandings of history and it’s the latest fad on the internet.

Social media platforms, like Youtube, have seriously hyped up these theories with millions of videos becoming easily accessible to a wide range of viewers.

Youtuber Shane Dawson, dubbed the YouTube king of conspiracies, broadcasts such videos weekly to his millions of subscribers.

“I’ve been doing conspiracy theory videos for a long time,” Dawson commented in one of his recent videos. “Now they’re trendy, I didn’t start because of that. I’ve been watching conspiracy documentaries since I was 10. I just love conspiracy theories so much, so genuinely.”

With articles and videos ready at the touch of a button, it’s no wonder people are so immersed in this trend.

Tv shows like “The X-Files,” and the Netflix original “Black Mirror,” whose plots focus mainly on the unknown, have made the subject of such conspiracies very mainstream, but also, creating theories is a fundamental part of being human.

People like to delve into the unknown and find their own answers,” says Zach Engel, a senior at Shenendehowa and a self-proclaimed conspiracy theorist. “I think some people use it as a coping mechanism too.”

So why is this trend so fascinating to average, everyday people?

Studies have found an apparent link to those who believe in such theories and education, as well as income.

A survey showed that about 42 percent of people without a high school education believe in at least one conspiracy theory, compared to 23 percent  of people who have a postgraduate degree.

A 2017 study showed a household income average of $47,193 among people who were inclined to believe in conspiracy theories and $63,824 among those who weren’t.

There also seems to be a spike in theorizing after a disaster or a tragedy occurs that leaves people so shaken that they need something to explain it.

People tend to blame things they lack on anonymous forces, but sometimes they’re used to make more sense of the world. Conspiracies help people to cope with or make sense of a tragedy.

For example, after the assassination of President Kennedy, Mafia and CIA theories popped up, as opposed to accepting a lone gunman killed him.

More recently, people theorized that the Las Vegas shooting was staged by the government. More than likely in an effort to assure themselves something so gruesome couldn’t have really occurred so randomly.

The internet is also a huge culprit in this phenomenon, making these theories so readily available to almost anyone.

“I mainly get my information regarding conspiracy theories from the internet. I just kind of come across them,” says Jaycen Tedesco, another senior at Shenendehowa.

Most of these theories are essentially harmless and some you could even say amusing.

“I really don’t believe the one about Avril Lavigne being replaced with a government clone, because clones aren’t humanly possible.” said Engel. “Also, why would they choose Avril Lavigne?”

However, with the more lighthearted side of things, comes a darker, more twisted perspective.

“I believe the one about the government using celebrity scandals to distract us from actual disasters and tragedies, because they always seem to happen around the same time. It’s not so far-fetched if you really think about it,” Tedesco said.

Conspiracy theories have become the latest hot topic on the internet and almost everyone has at least talked about one, even if they’re unaware of it.

Conspiracy theories are all around us, so are you careful about what you believe?

More students are in the habit of grabbing coffee before school

BY: SOPHIA CILIENTO AND MATT LISA

Stopping and getting coffee before school is a trend almost all highschool students acquire. The trend has been around for as long as I have been in highschool and even before that. Students that have caught onto this trend feel it has many benefits and that’s why they’ve continued it.  

“I literally need coffee to be a person in the morning because I wake up so early,” said AnaMaria Taylor, a senior.  “It boosts my productivity and makes me feel like I can deal with people better, therefore I bring it to school.”

Teenagers, especially high school students, live such busy lives. Between school work, sports, and social events, sometimes they need a boost in the morning. Only 15 percent of teens get more than eight hours of sleep. The rest are simply not getting enough. Coffee gives you that boost you’re lacking and improves your mental alertness.  

Many student say the reason they get coffee before school is to wake them up and get their day started.

“I get coffee to wake me up in the morning,” said senior, Cailyn Stevens.

Studies show that drinking coffee in the morning can even help your weight. Not only does it wake you up mentally but metabolically too. Caffeine increases your metabolic rate by 3-11 percent. Not only does it burn fat but it was proven in different studies to ward of depression. Due to the high content of antioxidants in coffee it is able to enhance your mood. Lastly, like all students said studies prove them to be right that coffee can in fact improve your mental alertness and help you stay focused. Coffee is proven to directly affect the area of the brain responsible for memory and concentration.     

Like most other trends it is spread from one person to another.

“ I think someone gave me a ride to school one day and they got coffee on their way. I thought that was probably a better idea,” said Taylor.

Many would agree that they began drinking coffee in the morning once they saw someone else do the same thing. What looks like a good idea catches the interest of all and the trend begins. While some may actually enjoy the benefits of coffee in the morning others may do it just because everybody else is.  

Although a majority of students drink coffee before school there are some who do not including senior Demetrios Rallatos.

“I don’t drink coffee because I do not fall under peer pressure,” he said. “I think people do it just to be cool and impress your friends.”

There are some people like senior Brendan Fess who drink coffee but do not enjoy the taste, instead he said he drinks coffee “to wake me up in the morning.”

Overall, the trend of coffee before school has latched onto almost all students. As the years go on it continues to grow capturing the newest students as well as teachers and staff.  Whether you enjoy the taste or not, the benefits it brings in the morning keeps students continuing this trend.   

Kids and teens obsess over fidget spinners

BY: RILEY EVERETT

The toy that was originally created to help children with autism is now one of the most popular toys among children and teens.

The Fidget Spinner has three paddle-shaped blades attached to a central, weighted disc containing ball bearings. Flick a blade and it spins for as long as 12 minutes.

The Fidget Spinner “boom” started in February of 2017. By May 2017 all top 20  of the top-selling toys on Amazon, an online retailer, were either fidget spinners or fidget cubes, a close relation.

Fidget360 is one of the most popular sellers of the spinners. The company was founded by two seventeen year olds high schoolers, Allan Maman and Cooper Weiss. The spinners were  originally made to help kids with ADHD, autism, and those who just fidget too much. When the Fidget Spinners made their debut the teens made over $350,000 in just six months.

So what does it do? Fidget Spinners are designed to spin on the tips of your fingers for as long as 12 minutes. With just one flick the blades begin to propel and you’re caught staring at the mesmerizing motions of the paddles. Many people also learn tricks with their spinners. Some popular tricks include balancing it on your nose, forehead, toes, and passing it to friends while its spinning.

The addictive nature of the toy is hard to pass up. The sensation of holding a fast spinning contraption is a large part of its appeal. As you tilt your hand back and forth you can feel various spinning forces in your hand.

Kids can’t resist the spinning toy. Jamison Kisling, a third grader collects fidget spinners and trades them with friends at school.

“They’re my favorite. Its really cool to spin them and do tricks with them. I have three fidget spinners and I like to play with them a lot” he said. “I play with them at school, at home, and with my friends.”

With the Fidgets being so popular among school halls teachers have had some problems with disruptions in class or lack of focus from the kids. Regan Cardona, a teacher’s aid at Arongen Elementary says she doesn’t have a problem with the spinners, she has a problem with them being used in class.

“A lot of the fifth graders have fidget spinners. When I watch over lunch I see a lot of them spinning them around. Sometimes they can become a bit of a distraction in class. I’ve had to take some away or ask kids to put them away many times. I don’t have a problem with the toy, I just wish kids would remember to keep them packed away during class” she said.

While kids and teens obsess over the new toy some just dont see whats so special about it. Stacie Joslyn, a mother of an eighth grader and junior commented on the hype of the spinners.

“My 13 year old says all the kids in her school use them all day. I personally don’t see what so fascinating about them. They just spin. I can’t argue with the price though, they are very cheap which is good on my end. I just don’t understand them” She said.

The Fidget Spinner has bumped its way to the top of the most popular toys sold in 2017. In just a matter of 3 months the toys were featured in top sellings lists on multiple popular websites. Kids and teens cannot resist the addictice nature of the fast spinning contraption. One flick and it takes complete hold of your attention.

Years of relevancy and five minutes of fame for ageless beauty product

BY: JACOB MOLNAR AND PATRICK NAGY

“I bought face masks for us, we can try them when we get home,” my friend Abby says.

Instantly my heart started beating a tick faster. I always see these floating around on social media feeds, but doubt struck my mind the instant I heard those words. What even is a facemask? What does it do? What am I getting myself into?

“Don’t worry, it’ll feel good afterwards,” she said.

Cosmetic face masks date all the way back to ancient times, and can even be credited as the first cosmetic product ever created. Beginning in ancient India with the ubtan mask comprised of different herbs, plants, roots and flowers; some households in India even buy ready-to-use masks on the market where you mix the powder with water or milk and apply it to your face. From there, ancient Egyptians used clay masks, Yang Guifei of the Tang Dynasty in ancient China used ground up pearls, jadeite, lotus root and ginger. In ancient Rome, oils, honey, vinegar, basil juice and goose fat. The list goes on and on and on, and is still expanding, even with today’s ever changing beauty game.

Thousands upon thousands of different trends have come and gone, which goes to show how difficult the industry is. However, despite nearly 5,000 years, one thing that has remained constant is the use of face masks to cleanse and moisturize one’s skin.

The packaging for the face mask I’m given is slim, mint green (for the minty fresh theme, of course) and has a sketch of a woman smiling, covering her face with the mask itself. As I rip open the plastic, I find a folded up, wet object; it almost looks like a towelette, except it’s for your face.

“You ready?”

On the count of three, we apply them and wait. Right after pressing it to my skin, I feel a weird sensation, an IcyHot-esque tingling feeling on my cheeks, forehead and nose.

A sophomore at Shenendehowa High School, Ally Molnar says, “it feels odd at first, but as time progresses you can really feel it working to make your skin healthier.”

“It should feel weird, but good,” Abby says as she guides me through the experience.

Seconds then minutes go by, my skin becoming more and more acclimated to the thin sheet.

“You can feel it tightening up your skin, in a good way. It’s like a shower on steroids,” says Lilly Fox, a sophomore at Shenendehowa High School.

The masks continue to feel better as we sit and wait, and after time is up, we remove the sheets from our faces and dispose of them.

“I love them. If you find one that’s right for your skin and does what you need, then it makes you feel refreshed. They really work if you use them consistently,” says Lauren Rock, a senior at Shenendehowa High School.

Experiencing it first hand was unlike anything I had ever felt; my face felt fresh, like I had just washed my face but better. I went home that night thinking about how the craze was real. Just by looking at social media, you could tell how much potential the wave had, and people are still continuing to ride it.

There really was a reason to get behind this trend; not only does it feel good, but it yields results. These sheet masks provide therapeutic relief and hydrate the skin, all while calming it down.

Other forms of the mask do the same and more, some even going as far as reducing surface shine and clogged pores. The thought of applying them on a consistent basis was something to be reckoned with, and after being filled with doubt at first, I wasn’t opposed to it one bit.