So it’s that time again... Seniors narrowing down on possible colleges, Juniors beginning to study and prepare for the college entrance tests, and Sophomores and Freshman exploring possible areas of study... but are you ready?
Every student, in every town, in every state, goes through this process. Parents and teachers encouraging you to explore your options, and maintain that GPA, raise that SAT/ACT score, give it your all on the field, join a new club, start your first job, but are you able to juggle all of these tasks? Are you on track to make that dream application? Are you ready to jump from the nest, to soar onward towards excellence, or are you worried you’ll fall out of the nest into a downward spiral?
This tedious process is what you have spent your entire life striving for. That day in third grade where you cried in front of the class because you didn't know the answer to that seemingly simple addition problem on the chalkboard, or that research paragraph you failed in fourth grade because instead of providing facts about a bee, you got caught up trying to draw the proper stripes of the bee on that over-sized notebook paper. These moments changed you. They made you grow, stretch, scream, until you were forced out of your comfort zones and into the process of maturation.
You went from that shy kid in the kindergarten class who hid underneath the table when asked to introduce yourself. You went from that naughty kid in sixth grade whose traffic light was almost always on red. You matured. But are you ready?
Everyday you continue to grow. You meet a World War II veteran while volunteering at the local hospital, and he shares with you that at age 16 he joined the armed forces to fight for the freedoms that you are just beginning to comprehend and cherish. You make a new friend who shares his experience living without his mother who had died in a drunk driving accident while he was just two. You grow beyond what the textbooks have taught you. You see the world no longer from the surface. You begin to absorb the rich soil and the nutrients that life has to offer. You grow.
Growing doesn’t happen without pain, in fact pain is required to grow. You see the full cycle of life before your very eyes. Your brother gets married, and together they bring a baby into the world. You become an Uncle. Your Grandmother gets diagnosed with cancer. You become broken. You see your life beyond the textbook. Beyond the grade. Beyond the score. You feel pain.
The pain is good. The growing is good. The process... is the process. Do you fight it? Do you give up on that class that you just can't seem to pay attention in? Do you settle for a lower score than your original goal? Do you walk past the kid that is sitting all alone at lunch? Do you let the pain, the struggle, dissuade you? Or do you fight, pushing onward? Life is full of pain, but pain is good. It is time to focus, to believe, to dream, and to never settle. Are you ready?
BY: RYAN YOUNG
Streams of vapor with nicotine and cancer causing chemicals in the guise of sweet sounding flavors can be seen puffed into the air by teens in schools across the country. It seems students are taking puffs as frequently as reaching for a piece of gum, yet the risks have yet to be exposed and openly discussed. The consequences of vaping could be tragic for teens who deserve to know.
The Greater Latrobe School District has acknowledged the serious addiction problem that is inflicting harm on teens across the country and admit that it is taking place in our community.
“We have had a number of kids this year that we have caught,” GLHS principal Jeff Ingel said. “I won't give you the number but there are quite a few that we have caught.”
A 2016 report by the U.S. Surgeon General shows a 900% increase in vaping by high school students since 2011. While many in the community would like to believe that vaping does not affect GLSD, the reality is unfortunate. Students at Greater Latrobe and all across the country are dealing with the presence of e-cigarettes in their schools.
The most common form of e-cigarette present on campus and popular to teens is the Juul. This vape device resembles a flash drive and has the capability to be charged into the USB port of a computer. Due to its disguised design and small size, students across the country are sneaking these seemingly innocent devices on campus.
While the Juul was created to help adult smokers fight their addiction, the product has landed into the hands of young adolescents seeking popularity with this new “recreation.”
The Juul comes in many flavors such as mango, mint, cucumber, and creme brulee that entice teens and creates a false appearance of “confectionary comfort.”
“Yeah they make it fruity so that way We, the younger generation, are drawn to it,” said a junior at GLHS who admits to juuling on a regular basis.
Ingel added, “The Juul company is now trying to backtrack and make some changes to what they did, because they realize the effects that it’s having. This is an epidemic with teenagers. It really is.”
While the media and government worked hard to inform citizens and especially youth of the effects of smoking-- with graphic commercials that depict the changes over time to the lungs--some believe vaping has yet to be publicly examined.
A Greater Latrobe senior who admits to juuling during school said, “ I don't think the media has done any ad campaigns or alerted the public like they have for smoking side effects.”
Juuling has side effects, GLHS senior added, “Juuling will have side effects later but not now….Late 30’s is when the side effects will start showing up, like maybe cancer but only for people who do it heavily.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced results of their newest report which found 1 in 11 students have used e- cigarettes to vape marijuana.
GLHS is in the process of scheduling special guest speakers to come and speak to the student body about possible risks that have yet to be fully discussed. The administration is working hard to get in front of this epidemic by alerting the students and being clear about the consequence of possession.
“If we find a student with the Juul cigarette in possession or actually in the process of juuling obviously they're brought to the office. The cigarette itself is confiscated. Parents are called. There could be a three day suspension, and they could have up to five hours of community service,” Ingel explains. “They will also receive what is called a Smokeless Saturday which is a three hour class that costs $50 dollars that obviously has to be paid by the guilty student. If they don't take the class than charges are filed with the magistrate for possession of tobacco in school, and that could be up to a $300 dollar fine.”
While the consequences are severe if caught in possession, the health and substance information have yet to be shared.
In reality a single Juul “Pod”-- that holds roughly 200 puffs-- contains not only the equivalent amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, but also numerous chemicals that have been reported to cause deleterious side effects.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found, “The e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the device and exhale can contain harmful substances, including nicotine, ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, flavoring such as diacetyl-- a chemical linked to a serious lung disease, volatile organic compounds, cancer-causing chemicals, and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.”
With students uninformed of these serious health risks, this trending addiction is rapidly spreading across the country.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, In 2016 alone, 2.6 million students had admitted to using e-cigarettes in a 30 day span.
Many might wonder how students have been able to obtain these nicotine devices so easily.
The FDA on September 12, 2018 released its findings from the largest coordinated enforcement effort in its history. The agency sent over 1,300 letters that warned shops across the country of their illegal sale of Juul’s and other e-cigarettes. Through an undercover operation, the FDA was able to potentially stop the sale of illegal substances to minors by threatening possible fines.
While many would like to believe that this new form of addiction is not taking place in their community, a deeper evaluation will reveal that it is a serious issue young teens are dealing with throughout America.
Local communities, school districts, and government agencies at both the state and federal level need to alert students of these major risks. With the nation’s focus on ending the opioid epidemic, there should be a deeper focus on educating and informing the next generation of adults. Teens need to be informed of these serious risks. We should not sit idly by while the next generation of adults become addicts. Greater Latrobe is taking the necessary and proper steps to be at the forefront of education about vaping and prevention of addiction.
By: Ryan Young
With the midterms officially over and the House majority now held by the Democrats, it is important that our country begins to work together and listen to one another without shouting or engaging in name calling. Civilization requires civility. In an era where false accusations can destroy a person’s career, where a single tweet can cause the death of a depressed soul, where a malicious lie can destroy an entire family’s reputation, where a victim of sexual assault can be viewed a liar, it is more important than ever to regain basic decency and end the divisiveness hurting our country.
When did it become acceptable to hurt another person by creating lies or spreading rumors? When did it become acceptable to attack a person’s reputation? When did it become acceptable to bring another person down in an effort to raise oneself up? Anger and gridlock are not the answers. We must learn to coexist and listen to one another.
Our country was founded upon truth, upon decency, upon respect for one another, yet we no longer are able to have a civil conversation. We see elected representatives such as Ted Cruz, Sarah Sanders and Nancy Pelosi being followed and shouted down at restaurants. We see hate groups espousing evil ideologies such as ISIS and the Alt Right. We see cruel acts of brutality taking place under the veil of peace such as Antifa. We see students on both college and high school campuses unable to engage in a discourse free from name calling. We see our country becoming polarized and hateful. We see civility dying in our daily lives.
What is civility? It seems people have forgotten what it means to be civil. They no longer understand what the word means because it is becoming less and less “popular.” According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, civility is defined as civilized conduct especially politeness, courtesy, or a polite act or expression. I personally like to define it as the manner in which a person or group of people communicate with a basic level of respect and decency towards the other person.
America is the place where a person regardless of race, religion, creed, or background, can be free to believe, to pursue, and to contribute. It is the place where people can debate and discuss important issues that impact the entire world. Why then are we silencing one another? Why are we denying ourselves the freedom this country has to engage in a civil conversation that brings people together to overcome an obstacle taking place in the world?
It is because we refuse to listen to one another, we refuse to admit that we are wrong, and we are unable to step out of our own preconceived beliefs and ideas. We are our party, and we refuse to think for ourselves or look at both sides of an argument. We rush to judgment and refuse to analyze and interpret the information and facts presented.
The case of Justice Brett Kavanaugh is a prime example.
A well-respected judge in public service for decades was nominated to the highest court in the land, only to become a high profile target in a political war. Both Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who was forced into the public light to become his accuser, were harmed in the process that played out before the world on live television. When Ford’s allegations of attempted sexual assault were released in violation of a confidentiality agreement, she was forced to stand before the Senate Judiciary Committee to present an account of an event in high school that could not be corroborated or explained with the specificity necessary to convince many people of its truth. While it seemed clear Dr. Ford suffered, she was unable to establish that her suffering was at the hands of the highly esteemed nominee to the United States Supreme Court.
For his part, Kavanaugh was compelled to defend himself -- without being given the most basic presumption of innocence. A heart-broken Kavanaugh unequivocally denied the charges, and provided lengthy testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his life and his dedication to honoring God and respecting women.
“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. You've tried hard. You've given it your all. No one can question your effort, but your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name and to destroy my family will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. You may defeat me in the final vote, but you'll never get me to quit. Never,” Kavanaugh said.
Throughout his testimony viewers witnessed the shame and pain these accusations had placed on Kavanaugh’s entire family. Viewers watched as a God fearing and truth seeking man was forced to discuss his sexual activity as a teen, his childhood inside jokes, and his definition of sexual assault. Teary eyed and full of emotion, Kavanaugh poured out his heart.
While senators used this humiliating situation to grandstand in an effort to advance their own political agenda or prospects for reelection before the midterms, both Ford and Kavanaugh were humiliated.
Similarly, a local high school male teen was accused of sexual assault by five females in his high school in Butler County PA. According to the parents of the accused who have filed a federal lawsuit, these girls created false allegations and presented false statements to the school and law enforcement. One of the girls accused the young man of sexually assaulting her at the local community pool where he was the lifeguard. This young man was fired from his job and labeled a predator by the students at his school. Later, he was accused again for sexual assault, this time resulting in him being physically removed out of the school in cuffs to a Juvenile Detention Center. This young man lost his job, was publically humiliated, kicked off his baseball team, and removed from his school. Multiple accusers are coming forward and admitting that they lied.
These two examples depict the consequence of false accusations or coerced testimony. Worse than the immediate damage caused on the falsely accused or coerced victim, is the major impact it has on future victims. Sexual assault is a serious issue that can harm a victim for a lifetime, and these false accusations cast disbelief on legitimate claims that deserve prosecution.
So with the end of the midterm election and the start of a divided government lets come together as Americans regardless of political party, race, gender, or social class to unite our divided government. Lets begin to listen to one another by showing civility and engaging in a civil discourse that actually focuses on solving problems and reaching solutions. Let's think for ourselves without rushing to judgment. It is time to unite our divided country.