Monthly Archives: September 2017

Maurer Hopeful as New Principal

by Madison Marko – Head Photographer

Heidi Mauer will start her first year as a high school principal. She will be returning to the high school level after seven years of being a principal at Cedar Heights Middle School. Prior to that, she was the assistant principal at Kentwood for seven years.

Mauer said, “I love working with high school kids. I was really excited about a potential opportunity to be able to work with them again. I love the types of conversations that I get to have with students, and the idea that they are on the verge of adulthood. Being able to support the transition into life outside of high school is special.”

So far, Mauer has only made one change. She altered a safety protocol relating to medical emergencies in the classroom. The old protocol stated that if an emergency were to arise, the teacher would have to call the main office, and then the main office would call 911. But, now teachers should call 911 directly and send a student runner down to the office so that the emergency response team can be brought to the room.

Other than that, Mauer said she does not plan on making many changes. She said, “Right now it is important for me to learn about the strengths of the school and how to build upon those strengths. There are a lot of great things happening here, and we are not a school that needs a principal to come in and make a bunch of changes. We need a principal that can come in and continue to support the growth and the excellence that is already happening.”

As for her personal plans and goals as principal, Mauer said, “It is very important to me that I am available to students. I am not a closed-door principal. I want to be out and about, and I want students to know who I am and feel comfortable coming to me and saying, ‘Mrs. Mauer, I need help with something.’ If I do not have the answer, I will hook them up with someone who does. I want to be accessible not just to students, but to parents and staff, too. I want to be responsive to the needs of our community.”

She does recognize that there will be challenges in her position. Mauer said, “When we have such a diverse community, with so many belief, value, and cultural systems, sometimes that can be challenging to navigate. I want to channel that in a way that it brings us together and does not push us apart. I think that that is going to be a challenge and be something that we, as a community, need to navigate together. I need to be thoughtful about how I lead and support our community in embracing the diversity that can define us in such a positive way.”

Mauer said, “I want to reiterate to students that it is important for me to know from them what is working at Kentlake and what they would like to see changed. I want to encourage students to be the change that they want to see. If you have concerns about things, come work with me and let’s figure out how we can empower the student voice to continue to grow what we are doing here at Kentlake.”

KEA Approves Two-Year Contract

by Megan Monahan – Staff Writer

The Kent Education Association, the union that represents educators in the Kent School District, recently approved a two-year contract August 29, two days before the school year began.

The contract includes the two-hour early release Wednesdays and a 2.3 percent cost-of-living increase that was approved by the state Legislature for the current 2017-2018 school year. The 2.3 percent cost-of-living increase helped with the grocery and gas price inflammation amongst other things. Due to the current budget crisis, additional pay was given by the district.

The contract is not the only significant change that will be happening in this school year. There are 55 unfulfilled teaching positions throughout the Kent School District that will not be filled throughout the year. Christie Padilla, KEA President, said, “the district is choosing not to fulfill teacher positions as a cost saving method. They’re hoping by raising class sizes and not hiring as many teachers this year that they’ll be able to save the money that they borrowed from the capital bond project.” Padilla emphasizes that, “It really feels like the teachers are taking the brunt of the budget deficit unfortunately.”

In addition to the 55-unfulfilled teaching position there are three administration positions at the district office that will not be fulfilled. The union feels the hiring ratio between administration and teachers is disproportionate. Padilla said, “Well, it is in our opinion that is does not equate. That the district chose to make cuts that would impact our students the most and did not make cuts where it would impact students the least.

The 2016-2017 school year was not the first year that the district ended in debt, and it isn’t the first-time teachers are speaking up about it. “Teachers met with Dr. Watts and the chief financial officer with the district almost monthly,” said Padilla, “and we showed them that their ending fund balance, which is the district savings account was being depleted and that they were overspending.” Even though the union forecasted the budget deficit, the district believed that their forecasting’s were accurate and didn’t listen to them, inflating the budget deficit we have now.

Rocky Start with Early Release Lunches

by Josh Manning – Staff Writer

It is safe to say that most of the students were not expecting lunches to be a problem for early release days, even after learning they would be scheduled at the end of the day. Most juniors and seniors were just expecting to leave campus during lunch and essentially get another 30 minutes knocked off an early release day. However, it was not nearly as easy as we were imagining.

Unfortunately, in addition to having all 3 lunches combined into one (which was a disaster waiting to happen), there were multiple security guards waiting for us just outside the courtyard. They greeted us with disappointing messages of how off-campus passes are not in effect until October and how school is still technically in session and we couldn’t leave.

Let us look at this issue from the perspective of the student. Sixth period ends and the students promptly must rush down to the commons if they want any chance of getting lunch since the lines are abnormally long. After they receive their lunch, they usually will not have any room in the commons so they are forced to eat in the courtyard or on the ground. If they manage to finish their food early they won’t be allowed to leave, even though all the instruction has been completed for that school day and they have nothing else to do.

Clearly this is an issue that was handled extremely poorly by the staff. It was forcing the students into uncomfortable situations and chaos was rampant. It was unnecessary to keep juniors and seniors on campus when they have off-campus passes. It should be treated as a normal lunch, in which people with off-campus passes can go eat somewhere else, or in this case go home because there are no more classes for the day.

Overall it was a situation in which I had to ask myself, “What did they think would happen?” Having all 3 lunches combined into one at the end of the school day in a school with over twelve hundred students is never a good idea. It led to several students lying about being in Green River to have an excuse to leave campus.

My point is that students should not be forced to stay at school for 30 minutes longer than necessary if they are not doing anything productive and no instruction is being conducted. It was a waste of time and could have been easily avoided had we just had two lunches or not had lunch on that day.

Seniors Take Issue with Yearbook Photos

IMAG0482by Nick Shepard – Web Editor

There’s a tradition here at Kentlake, one among many, and one that students look forward to from the moment they walk into the gym for pictures freshman year, where they see some senior with wacky hair and thick eyeliner in line with their friends. They can’t wait for the time three years in the future when they’ll be getting professional senior photos done, and thus do not have to care about what’s going on their ID as it isn’t going in the yearbook.

This tradition was violated.

There are also rights guaranteed under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, rights which were upheld during the 1969 Supreme Court decision Tinker v. Des Moines. The justices spoke 7-2 that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate”; as long as the student is not causing a disruption or harming other students, teachers, or school property, they cannot be forced to act or look a certain way.

Those rights were violated.

I was one of many students who, upon entering the gym for photos, was ordered to change how I look to conform to a certain image the school had chosen – I was ordered to immediately remove the black lipstick I was wearing; a fellow senior, Trenton Curtis, was ordered to remove the fishing hat he had decided to wear that day. Please note that it is school policy that hats may be worn, again as long as they are no distraction.

The First Amendment is what guarantees us our freedom of speech – if something doesn’t sit well with a student, they can talk about it. If they support a certain political candidate or public figure, then they can wear a shirt supporting that person. The point is you are not only allowed but are encouraged to express yourselves in these ways, so why can’t we do so in a way that will affect even less people than the other ways?

The point is, there’s a word for those in charge who force certain opinions or actions upon their subordinates. The most infamous example took place about 80 years ago – there are parts of the world where you can still see them.

They’re called fascists.

No, they didn’t threaten bodily harm. They threatened the very fabric of our society – our sacred principle of freedom of expression and speech, the solid foundation for our constitutional democracy. Without it we are sheep. We go with the flow and conform to the status quo. Anyone can talk big and encourage individuality and independence, but if they don’t lead by example then why bother? What I glean from the school’s actions is that everyone must be the same, like me.

There can be no expression.

There can be no freedom.

Islamophobia still Present in America Today

by Harris Yun – Staff Writer

America is no stranger to prejudice. Ever since the conception of our country there has always been a group of people that gets oppressed and hated, for no reason other than the idea that they challenge the status quo. As a Muslim myself, you can believe me when I say that these days, that group is Muslims, and it is just as damaging to the country as when that group was African-Americans.

Post-9/11, Muslim discrimination was at an all time high, but over the past decade, it has slowly been ebbing away. However, in the past year, a huge resurgence can be seen. Thanks to things like the recent travel ban, which aimed to prevent people from mostly Muslim countries from traveling into America, or President Trump’s actively hostile stance towards Islam, America is slowly working itself back into a frenzy of Islamophobia and all the horrible things that happen as a result.

No matter where you look, there is rampant prejudice against Muslims. Online, you just have to look at any news article that even mentions them, and you’ll see hundreds of comments raving about Muslims and how they need to be ‘dealt with’ – for example, on articles about the recent bombing of a mosque in Minnesota you can find comments in the vein of “I hope it was full of Muslim trash” and “Burn em ALL!!!!!!”

This hate is not just confined to the internet. All over the US, Islamophobia has led to thousands of people protesting the spread of Islam, even in places as liberal as Seattle; several demonstrations at mosques in the past three months turned violent, forcing police officers to use pepper spray to break up the crowds. They cite the reason that they “don’t want America to be taken over by Sharia law”, but that is not what most American Muslims want, either. Most are refugees from the turmoil in the Middle East, escaping the so-called ‘Sharia law’ implemented by ISIL and other similar groups – the last thing they want is for it to come to America, the land where anyone can do anything. The real reason they protest is because they want somebody to blame, some group they can point their fingers at and say ‘Look at them – they’re the problem.’ Even here, in the Kentlake area, when my family members go out with their hijab on they get strange looks filled with suspicion and fear, and once we even got outright told that we do not belong here, that ‘our people’ are the reason America is facing all the problems it is today.

However, wherever there is hatred, there are people fighting against it. The vocal minority, however vocal they may be, will always be a minority. A few outspoken critics should not, can not, be taken as representative of America as a whole. If you are truly an American, you will understand that Americans come from many diverse backgrounds, and trying to exclude a group of people just because they have differing religious beliefs is not just rude, it’s downright unpatriotic. Represent our country, stand in the face of prejudice, and support your Muslim countrymen and women.

Budget Cuts Cause Concerns

by Fiona Higgins – Opinion Editor

It has only been about a week since school started, and already the mess that the administration has gotten us in is plain to see. Class sizes have increased, teachers are short on materials, and cut corners are everywhere.

These are only a few signs that have occurred from the Kent School District’s budget freeze and budget cut.

In the Kent School District 2016-2017 fiscal year, which ended on the first day of school, the district accrued a 6.9 billion dollar shortfall. According to the Seattle Times, KSD’s new budget “is roughly $452 million and includes a reduction in staff positions and operating costs totaling about $4 million.” In addition, there are currently 55 job openings in the district. Due to a hiring freeze, they will not be filled. Individual schools are reallocating their funds, and many of them are directing them away from the arts programs and more towards STEM and sports programs, leaving them with even less of a budget than before. The difference between the district’s Fine Arts fund has dropped from about 82,500 dollars to roughly 32,000 dollars, according to the budget report published on the Kent School District’s website. The effects are immediately clear in several places; Mill Creek Middle School, for example, ahd their budget for their orchestra class cut by 40%.

Though this sudden budget issue is a shock to many parents and students, the administration was not surprised. Christie Padilla, the Kent Education Association President, said “It was our position that if you do not change your spending trajectory, you will end up in the red… They continued their spending trajectory, so here we are, in the red.”

The Kent School District administration got us into this unfortunate mess, and there does not seem to be a lot we can do now to get us out of it. Currently, district leaders have approved two loans; one for $10 million and one for $15 million. Both loans have moved from the capital-project fund to its general fund, which lets the districts use the money however they want. Regrettably, it was not enough, and the fiscal year still ended with a negative fund balance, much to everyone’s dismay.

The question is, what was our administration thinking when this catastrophe ended up happening? Clearly, as Christie Padilla pointed out, this was a predicted outcome of the district’s spending habits. As well as this, now that we are in this mess, what are they going to do about it? The admin in charge of managing the budget has not been fired, and it has become a little hard to watch the whole cabinet sitting in their white castle while we are being squeezed into classes to fit all of us around the lack of teachers. How are students supposed to focus in an environment like this? Class sizes have been gradually increasing over the years, and no one has ever thought it was a good idea. It is hard to tell what the thought process was. But now that we are here, the only thing we can do is to raise our voices as one and make sure this does not happen again.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” Brings to Life Classic Comic Book

spider-man_homecoming_reboot_box_office

by Nicholas Runyon – Artist

“One of the coolest things about the movie is that we’ve seen the god (Thor), we’ve seen the soldier (Captain America), we’ve seen the billionaire (Tony Stark). Now it’s time to see the kid, and what he can do.” Says Tom Holland (Peter Parker/ Spider-Man).

Jon Watts the director, does a great job of combining elements a John Hughes coming of age film with a modern day Superhero movie, With 80’s vibes with the music, breakfast club/ Ferris Bueller’s day off references etc.

One of the main reasons people love Spider-Man is the fact that nearly everyone relates to him. He is a kid in school, has money problems, doesn’t have the “stereotypical family”, has trouble talking to girls, etc. The great part about “Homecoming” is that it shows Peter Parker’s human side.one of the things lacking in the previous two Spider-Man movie series was Peter in high school. That is such a big part of this character’s history that they never really went over before, and it’s really cool to see that finally shown. Peter’s high school struggles feel more intense than his crime-fighting, and that’s exactly the way it should be.

Tom Holland is the perfect Peter and Spidey. Andrew Garfield was a great spider-man, and Tobey Maguire was a great peter, but Tom manages to nail both versions. It is really cool to see parts of Peter bleed through while he is Spider-Man and vice versa. The supporting cast is very diverse, (this is a high school in Queens, NY after all) but the filmmakers received a lot of backlash and death threats from fans, because of several race changes. Most notably Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson. In the comics, Flash Thompson was a blond, blue eyed  Football jock who bullied Peter, however in modern day, bullies aren’t like that anymore, so in Homecoming Flash is portrayed as the kind of bully who is rich, and will make fun of the fact that pater is poor, etc. and while it is drastically different from the comics, it fits and is well done

Spider-Man: Homecoming is not an origin story like previous movies. Peter has had his powers for at least six months by the time Tony recruits him in “Captain America Civil War”. There is no spider bite, or the death of Uncle Ben, because we’ve seen it twice on screen before. Everyone knows Spider-Man’s origin by heart.

Michael Keaton provides Marvel with one of their best villains; Adrian Toomes/ The Vulture. Toomes is a blue-collar guy sick of being pushed around by the powers that be, determined to provide for his family, however he can. If a normal kid can become a super hero, why can’t a normal guy who is upset with the world around him become a supervillain? He is perhaps the most relatable of all Marvel Cinematic Universe villains, trying to stay under the radar and engaging in an illegal trade only to provide for his family. The movie starts right after the battle in NY from the first Avengers movie. Viewers see the aftermath from that battle and Damage Control who are underpaid, overworked people whose job is to clean up the mess made by superhero battles. This is their big break with over 1500 tons of exotic alien materials, until Stark Industries takes over and they all lose their jobs. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) decides that instead of returning the alien tech, they should keep it. The movie jumps ahead several years to current day and we see The Vulture aka Adrian has been stealing Chitauri technology, to start a scavenging operation in the form of a black-market weapons ring.

The way Adrian/ The Vulture was portrayed in the movie was interesting, unlike in the comics where he is basically an old guy in green pajamas and wings committing crimes. He was like an actual vulture but instead of scavenging for carcasses of dead animals, he is scavenging for alien technology.

 

In the third act of the movie, Tony takes the Spider-Suit back from Peter, which parallels Spider-Man 2 when Tobey Maguire’s Peter gives up being Spider-Man for a while and returns, to a normal life. Peter spent a few days like a normal kid again, and finally goes to the Homecoming dance with crush Liz Allen (Laura Harrier). As it turns out, Liz’s father is Adrian Toomes. Toomes threatens Peter not to interfere with his work or he will kill everyone peter cares about. Peter leaves the dance and changes into his old homemade costume from before Tony makes him the tech suit. He tracks down the vulture hoping to stop him before he hijacks a stark jet with Avengers’ tech and weapons inside. Peter ends up being crushed and trapped by the roof of the warehouse that they were in. With Peter trapped under the rubble. Hearing him scream and cry for help shows that even though he is Spider-Man he’s still a kid he’s still able to get hurt just like the rest of us. Peter finally lifts the rubble an homage to the famous “Amazing Spider-Man #33.”

Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack is beautiful, especially with an orchestral version of the classic 60’s Spider-Man cartoon theme. the score fits the tone of the movie perfectly, and so do the other songs included like “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones. Hardcore fans were excited when a Ramones song was finally use in a Spidey movie, because both Peter Parker, and the Ramones are from the neighborhood of Forest Hills in Queens NY, so it was a cool Easter egg. “Oh Yeah” by Yello (the iconic song from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) was used during a scene which almost recreated a scene from “Ferris Bueller’s day off”.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is definitely the best Spidey film in years, almost equal to with Spider-Man 2 (2004). And when you realize you have to wait until 2019 for the sequel, the only logical response is to quote Aunt May; “What the FU–!”

Taylor Swift Releases Controversial Single “Look What You Made Me Do”

by Symantha Edwards – Staff Writer

Taylor Swift ended summer 2017 with a dramatic introduction to her new album and apparent new reputation. It had been almost 2 years since her last single had been released, and we quickly realized that this is not the same Taylor swift.

As an artist, Swift has evolved from country singer to girl-next-door, and it is hard to keep up with it all. Swift has yet again changed it up on us with her new album called “Reputation”, set to be released in Nov. Fans can only assume that this is another phase, but what we don’t know is how long this “bad girl Taylor” will last. Who is this new Swift?

On Aug. 18 fans were shocked to realize that Swift had deleted every trace of pictures or posts from every social media account with no warning and no explanation whatsoever, leaving fans wondering what it meant. On Aug. 21, a picture of the tail of a snake with no caption had people checking her accounts by the hour, making theories and asking questions. Two days later, a picture stating “First single out Tomorrow night” sent fans into a frenzy. The next night, Aug 27, her first single off her new album was released titled “Look What You Made Me Do”.

Swifties worldwide began to dissect the song for any references to her former feuds with Katy Perry or Kanye and Kim Kardashian-West, and they were not disappointed. In the very first verse, Swift sings ‘I don’t like your tilted stage’ which is a reference to Kanye, famous for his tilted stage in his recent Saint Pablo tour (2016). The feud between these two artists started when Kanye stormed the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009 because he thought Beyoncé deserved the Best Female Video prize instead of Taylor. Fans also seemed to notice that Perry also had a tilted stage during her Super Bowl performance.

What was surprising about the video was the criticism that she rained on herself. In one scene in the video has Taylor as all her former selves and personalities, including her ‘you belong with me” persona. In this she is literally mocking the media for everything the they have accused her of, like acting too surprised when she won awards, or acting as the victim when things don’t go her way.

She also addressed her recent suing of DJ David “Jackson” Mueller who allegedly groped her during a 2013 fan meet-and-greet. Swift sued for only $1, to simply make a point and to empower girls around the world who don’t speak up. In one shot of her music video, a single dollar bill is shown amidst hundreds of diamonds and jewelry.

So now we all wait anxiously for Nov, when we can really see what more Swift has in store for us. Fans continue to ask the questions that might never be answered, and it leaves them to wonder, what if the thing Taylor Swift “did” is something she hasn’t even dropped yet?