All posts by Nick Shepard

The School System Has Screwed Me Over

by Madison Marko – Head Photographer

When I think back to my freshman year and what I learned, all that comes to mind is a blank, fuzzy screen, and a small, broken voice that rasps, “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”. I think I just remember that because at one time it was a meme. This, academically, is the only small morsel of knowledge that comes to mind when I think back to those nervous, fidgety 180 days of my life.

I have some qualms with the school system.

The system teaches a twisted and useless version of success. To fulfill its demands, you are taught to retain knowledge only for as long as it is relevant—and that is often the day of the test. After the test is over, the information no longer serves you, and so it is gone in a puff of smoke.

Do not fear; you got an A. It does not matter that you only have a vague recollection of the knowledge you used to recite in your sleep three days ago, because you have achieved success. Now, pat yourself on the back and move onto your next fruitless venture.

In this way, the system promotes a careless, uniform, and mundane society. If success ends at personal gain in the form of a few chicken-scratched A’s on your papers, nothing will ever change or grow. Interest in others, the world around us, and passions that you have not explored, will fade.

The kids who will grow up to drive change are not the “school-system-success-stories”, but those who have the courage to write their own purpose and definition of accomplishment. They have not allowed the system to limit them, and constantly work outside of the box. They have pursued what they are passionate about, even if this means pushing aside the system does not inspire them.

The things we remember are the things we care about. Whether that be anthropology, agriculture, or archaeology, if you are passionate about it, it will stick with you.

This is where the school system needs to step up. If I’m not passionate about it, I can try my very hardest to care, but the burden should not be all on the students to desperately try to make long-term meaning out of heaps of information. Teachers need to teach beyond the test, and to do that, the state needs to lighten the burden and stress of standardized testing.

If you do not pass the SBA, you cannot graduate. Those are high stakes. Teachers should be given the freedom to explore and experiment with what works for the long-term benefit of students, without fear that they are withholding knowledge that could keep students from the supposed end-all—graduation.

The Kent School District boasts, “Successfully preparing all students for their futures” on their many domains. Is this true if I graduate uninspired, directionless, with little to show for twelve years of my life except for a transcript of my apparent “success” or “failure”?

Be Selfish; It’s Okay

by Madison Marko – Head Photographer

You follow the man as he pursues his ambitions, chase after the woman who has promised you her love later, and follow your heart to the edge. You jump off—for the goodwill of another. At the bottom you are a pile of crumbled bones, a pool of flesh, and a mumbling mouth that says, “I am quite alright.” But, forever will you bear scars from all the times you put another before yourself.

We need to put ourselves first.

Placing societal standards above yourself is damaging. I discovered this in my youth—trying desperately to uphold the ideals that were “acceptable” in my schoolmates’ eyes. I would repeat their jokes in my head, trying to find the humor that seemed so nonexistent. I wore basketball shorts every day of my life. I tried to fulfill an image that did not match who I wanted to be. Then, sophomore year rolled around and I decided I was fed up. Done with trying to be social when I knew I was perfectly antisocial! Done with wearing what other people wore! Done with putting other people’s ideals above my happiness and desired image!

Secondly, regret will come if you do things to please someone else. Until you realize that you are worth more than what tries to confine you, soul-searching and decision making may be hard. This year, I decided to do cross country instead of volleyball. I recognized my passion for running, but I struggled with decision making. There was social approval in volleyball; the crowd of fellow students and the games, and the posters slung up around the halls. The bit of me still leeching on a desire for acceptance craved this. Was it what I truly wanted? Cross country seemed to be a team full of passionate, diverse, and hardworking people—the kind of company I always admired. Now that the season is over, I know I would have regretted it if I hadn’t joined.

Lastly, if you are nt looking after yourself, no one else will. Society is selfish and egotistical. I see it at school all the time. I’m struggling, while the person next to me is soaring through each problem. I stare at them; a jealous, empty-handed kid gazing at the child across the street grasping a lollipop. But there are no licks off the lollipop-of-knowledge for me. I must hit the books myself—or else I will be left to wallow in a pit of helplessness.

Be a selfish bastard; put yourself above social standards, pleasing others, and the single-mindedness of society. Once you have what you need for yourself, you can then make the conscious decision to turn around and give to others.

Pro Versus Cons: Donald Trump’s First Year

by Nicholas Shepard – Staff Writer

Month Achievement Failure

January Trump nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who would be seated with a vote of 54-45 on April 7th. The highly anticipated travel ban, which barred entry to the U.S. from immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries, was blocked by a federal judge in Washington state.

February Trump spoke to a joint session of congress on February 28th, which some saw as a successful attempt to unite the country while also pushing his own agenda. Michael Flynn, the shortest-serving National Security advisor in the post’s history, resigned after 24 days following reports he had lied to Vice President Pence about meetings with Russians he’d had.

March Officially proclaimed March, 2017, as Women’s History Month The doomed GOP healthcare plan is revealed by House Republicans on March 6th.

April Trump’s supreme court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, is confirmed following a vicious fight and rule change by Senate Republicans. A PR failure more than anything else, Trump launched a missile strike in Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad, prompting outrage from not just liberal doves but also conservatives who claimed it was against Trump’s America First message.

May On the flip side, those in Trump’s loyal 35% base saw Comey’s firing as an important step towards shutting down the false and phony Democratic hoax of the Russia investigation. On May 9th, Trump orders the firing of FBI Director James Comey, which only darkened the cloud of possible collusion with Russia over his administration, prompting accusations of obstruction of justice and the appointment of Robert Mueller as a special counsel in the Russia investigation.

June Fulfilling a big campaign promise, Trump begins the process of pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which he touted as a waste of trillions of American taxpayer dollars towards a fake cause. Comey testified before the Senate on June 7th, calling out the White House for “lies, plain and simple”, and saying he was fired with the intention of obstructing the investigation.

July Trump’s appearance at the G20 summit in Germany is widely Information on the now-infamous June 2016 meeting

seen as a successful first meeting for him with many world leaders. with Russians and Donald Trump Jr. came to light, wherein Trump Jr. was to find dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians. In July also came the killing of the GOP healthcare plan at the hands of loyal Republican John McCain, and a mass exodus of White House staff.

August Trump, in visiting hurricane-ravaged Texas, is seen as more presidential than he had yet, and his approval ratings saw a bump. Trump fails to condemn the neo-Nazis responsible for the death of a counter-protestor in Charlottesville, prompting bipartisan outrage and rebuke of him.

September Fulfilling to his base some of his rhetoric against immigrants, Trump announces that he will end DACA in six months unless congress comes up with a solution. Again on the flip side, Trump gets backlash for his decision on DACA by many prominent Democrats and Republicans, such as Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.

October Trump begins the fulfillment of another campaign promise, the “ripping up” of the Iran Deal, by not re-certifying the deal and, once again, kicking the can to congress. On October 30th, former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates are indicted by Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller, appearing to bring the revelation of collusion one step closer.

November Trump visits multiple Asian nations in a 12-day trip, intending to raise pressure against North Korea’s nuclear program and push for more intense sanctions from all countries. On the election off-year, state legislatures and governorships are swept up in the “Blue Wave”, which many saw as a rebuke against Trump’s first year to date.

December On December 15th, Trump signs the GOP tax plan into law, which passed in the senate 51-48, with no Democratic support. This is the first major legislative victory in Trump’s first year, and the first major change in the U.S. tax code since the Reagan administration. On December 12th, Trump-backed Senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore loses to Democrat Doug Jones in an Alabama special election, due to massive Democratic turnout in another stunning rebuke of the President.

Different But the Same, Celebrating Culture

by Nolan James – Copy Editor

Kentlake hosted its third annual Culture Night on Thursday, Jan 11, and, like last year, it proved rather successful. While there was lower attendance and less booths represented, Culture Night was a fun event with plenty of activities and food. And it was all free, too, so that everyone has the chance to experience others’ cultures.

There were a lot of stands representing a plethora of cultures, from the Pacific Islands to Cambodia. Each booth had different activities and/or food. Cambodia features a guessing game with melon candy. In the game, there are different spots, each with a picture on it, and you place the candy on one of the spots. The attendant rolls a couple of dice, and if they show the picture you put the candy on, you get the candy. They also had fried rice there to sample.

Cambodia wasn’t the only country with fried rice; Vietnam had different rice, as well as a game. In the game, roughly translated to “cover eyes and catch goat,” in which everyone stands in a circle and one person is blindfolded. That person tries to catch someone, and once they do they have to guess their gender and then name. The attendant, Mai Le, mentioned how it was interesting to learn some of the similarities between her culture and some of the others. “Culture Night today is really fun. I learned a lot of things about other cultures, and some of the cultures have similar games but a different story,” said Le.

One of the other cultures she was talking about seemed to have been Germany. The attendant for Germany, staff member Christina Bovee, mentioned the similarities. “I think it’s interesting because you have different people, different experiences, and you can share those experiences,” said Bovee, mentioning that she talked to Le and found out their cultures have similar lantern festivals. The Germany booth contained a lot of information of the country, which Bovee grew up in.

Throughout the night, there were different performances/activities featured in the middle of the commons. Le’s Vietnamese blindfolded tag was the last of them. The orchestra played at 6:30, and the Pacific Islanders performed a dance at 7:20, followed by the band playing at 7:30.

The Pacific Islanders had a very full booth. They had a lot of traditional food. The food there was Musibi, pajipopo, coco rice, lumpia, pineapples, chop suey, guava cake and bananas. One of the attendants, Kyra McFarland, seemed to enjoy the festival. “I like being able to share my culture with everyone and share out food because it is a big part of our culture,” she said. She also mentioned that they should have it on a day with less activities, as there was a wrestling game going on in the Gymnasium.

Another booth with a lot of activities was Japan. It was their first year participating, and the Japanese teacher, Kei Tsukamaki, said about Culture Night that “it’s a great way for students to share part of their identity that maybe we wouldn’t see otherwise.” She also mentioned that “it would be great to see more students be able to come and enjoy the event.” Japan featured traditional basket-making, origami-making, and the rice food onigiri.

There were a lot more cultures beside that. The Bahamas featured a fishing game, where the prize was Twizzlers, and Mexico featured a game and Mexican food. If you want to experience Culture Night for yourself, you’ll have to go next year. Culture Night wasn’t as big as last year, which was a bit disappointing because it’s a great event. Hopefully it can be made a bigger event next year, and attendance can be higher. Those of us who attended seemed to enjoy the event a lot. The food was good, and the cultures were interesting to hear about. It’s one of the best traditions we have at Kentlake, and we can only hope it will continue to be a tradition here for years to come.

New Spanish Teacher is Hired After Months of Subs

by Evan Williamson – Staff Writer

Andrew Snider has recently been hired as a replacement for Sra. Rosendin. He is currently working as KL’s new Spanish teacher.

Mr. Snider has traveled around the world. That’s where he learned how to speak Spanish. “I started learning Spanish when I was in high school,” says Snider. “I lived in Ecuador for a good while. Also, I taught English in rural Mexico. So… through those experiences I learned a lot of Spanish. I also learned Spanish in the classroom at Washington State University, I got my masters there. My wife, her family is from Peru so we speak Spanish with them. I’ve traveled around and my family’s got some Spanish in it.

Kentlake isn’t the first place that Snider has taught at. He taught six years at the community college level at Green River Community College. He also taught two years at Washington State University while getting his master’s degree. So far, Mr. Snider is enjoying his new job. “I like it. It’s been a little bit of an adjustment for me, coming from the community college. For the most part people are really engaged and really wanting to pick up Spanish, which is really what it’s all about. I think most people are doing a pretty good job and are already making the transition.”

Mr. Snider has some new rules in his class. These rules may be different but are seemingly quite effective. “When I first got here the desks were in pods, like groups of 4 people. And a lot of people had their back to me and just were not engaged,” says Snider, “So, I took away the desks and the engagement has gone way, way up. In a couple of my classes we’re in like 90% Spanish already. A couple of the other ones we’re getting closer to that. So, just by moving away a physical barrier people are opening up a little bit more. Yeah… and it’s probably the best change I could have made. Everyone has focused a lot better, everyone is, for the most part, participating more. They’re more engaged with the material. Really, honestly this is one of the best moves I could’ve ever made. I would do it with every class; I do it with every class.”

Aside from his new job here at Kentlake, Mr. Snider has some hobbies that he likes to do in his free time. “I have a ton of hobbies but I don’t have a lot of time for them,” says Snider. “But, one of my favorite hobbies is that I like to learn new languages. On my own I study languages. Portuguese and French are what I’m working on right now. I like to learn, I like to read, and I like to go spend time with my family. I like to go out and run to the park with my son.” So Mr. Snider looks forward to spending his time teaching us students Spanish. He looks forward to a new chapter of his career here at Kentlake.

Featured Falcon: Mr. Valentine

by Sharita Jackson – Staff Writer

Bradley Valentine is the current boys’ basketball coach.

This is his second year as coach.

After Valentine finished high school, his coaching career started when he was offered an opportunity to coach a fifth grade basketball team. “I really enjoy teaching, coaching, and watching the students grow.” Valentine said.

From then on Valentine spent the next three years working with youth level sports before getting an opportunity to coach a freshman team at Kentwood High School for five years. “I spent the next five seasons as coach there,” Valentine said. Valentine started coaching for the junior varsity and as a head assistant for the varsity for four years.

He is now head coach of our boys’ basketball team. “The thing I most enjoy about coaching is the opportunity that every day presents, whether it is practice or a game; it is always a chance to be better than the day before. I also enjoy working our players every day.” Valentine said.

Outside of coaching, he is an instructional assistant with Joanna Schile and Kathie Weber, and he teaches one period of health class, each day.

Through the Audition Process With Elizabeth Gerken

by Elizabeth Gerken – Cartoonist

It’s the morning of auditions and my heart keeps beating faster every minute as I lay in bed under the mounds of blankets staring at the celling thinking of everything that could go wrong. My alarm beeps and nocks me out of my nervous daze and I lumber out of bed to get ready, trying to calm the anxiety just enough to get through the day. This works until about fourth period when my drama friends and I have class together and we can’t stop talking about what were doing for auditions and trying to weed as much information out of the people who had auditioned the pervious day in the hopes well be slightly more mentally prepared. However, much to my disappointment, none of this “investigating” clams my ever-increasing nerves in the slightest. For the next two periods I sit in uncomfortable chairs, desperately trying to push all my thoughts down for at least a second so I could grasp a bit of information from classes that will prove to be a waste if I can’t find a way to focus.

Finally, the school day is over and a whole new type of anxiety settles in as Mr. Chopyak explains how the auditions will work. We are dismissed to the space outside the PAC to wait to be individually called in to audition. People are pacing everywhere, reciting monologues, singing with their phones speakers up to their ear so their backtracking doesn’t mess anybody else up and the anxiety is palpable. My friends and I decide to practice our auditions in front of each other and offer advice, self-esteem boosters and emotional support before we are next on the chopping block.

After a wait that felt like a century, I was called in to go. My heart dropped and picked itself up again as I entered the doors to the sound of my friends cheering me on with words of luck and support. The room was silent, and Mrs. Wilson was sitting alone, in the middle of the fourth row marking down what I assumed to be notes from the previous person. My shake hands manage to hand her my audition papers and my knees somehow carry me to the stage. Mrs. Wilson is warm and kind trying to make me as comfortable as possible and to some extent it works. I introduce myself and the monologue ill be doing in my awkward try hard professional voice and she gives me the go ahead to start when I’m ready. After Taking a deep breath in a last-ditch attempt to calm myself down, I start and to my surprise it goes fairly well without any major mistakes. A sigh of relief comes out as quiet as I can make it because the first part was over, or at least I thought it was. After I was done, she applauded then asked me who the character was talking to. Taken aback by this new situation, I calmly explain the context and she says to do the beginning again but to think about the words like I was saying them for the first time. I do so, she compliments my choice of monologue and I walk along with Paige, the sound technician who was helping with auditions, to the band room where I would sing for Mr. Chopyak and Mr. Urmenita.

Sinning in front of anybody is horrifying no matter what the situation, but when you know that this could affect your placement in the hierarchy of parts, a whole new level of terror is reached. This was especially true for me since all I wanted was to audition and for once not be told the I was incredibly pitchy and needed to get better overall. So, I was thoroughly intimidated when I walked in to see the two of them sitting there waiting. I introduced myself after Mr. Urmenita asked, “Witch one are you?” then introduced my song and sang. I was a bit shaky out of nerves on some of the high parts but overall, I was proud of myself. This was reinforced when, upon me finishing the final note, Mr. Chopyak just said, “Beautiful.” At this point I was confident with my audition and the last thing that I had to do was have my range checked by Mr. Urmenita. I sang higher than I thought I could and not as low as I knew I could because I was still so scared my chest voice just seemed to not be willing to work.

They thanked me for auditioning and then dismissed me. A wave of relief crashed over me as I walked out of the band room with this huge weight l This was the first audition that I was confident

about and I was so incredibly proud of myself for even getting up and doing it. When I returned to the commons there was an influx of questions from friends about how I did and I was pleased to say it went well by my standards.

MLK Assembly Leaves Students With Mixed Emotions

by Evan Swearingen – Staff Reporter

For the first time, Kentlake’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. assembly was led by the Black Student Union on January 12. The assembly consisted of multiple readings of poems and speeches about current civil rights issues concerning race. Modernizing Martin Luther King Jr.’s message, the Black Lives Matter movement was the primary focus of the assembly this year, leaving many students of varying races with conflicting opinions and mixed emotions.

There was surprise from students about the subject matter of the assembly. From a non-African-American minority’s point of view, Paulo Tapasa said, “The focus point wasn’t necessarily on MLK Jr…the stance was moreso on the lives of blacks in America today and the Black Lives matter movement, which threw me off guard”. Tapasa along with many other students were expecting more of a traditional Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly. Specifically, about his history, what his message was, and what it means for students now.

It is undeniable that the assembly put some mixed feelings into the hearts of Kentlake’s students. As a part of Kentlake’s majority Caucasian population, David Ellithorpe said, “I definitely felt uncomfortable”, a statement to which many of Kentlake’s Caucasian students would agree to. On the other hand, African-American student Calvin Sloan said, “I think the way the Black Student Union presented [Black Lives Matter] was really well done”. It seems that there was a general explanation for the African-American students’ situation that was communicated through the assembly. As an outsider looking in, Tapasa said, “It makes a very confusing position in this country. With all the seeming uprise of conflict between blacks and whites, it makes where the rest of us stand hard to say”.

However, regardless of any separation between the different races of Kentlake, all students seem to agree that Kentlake is a safe school to learn in. Sloan said, “In the end, all of the teachers want students to succeed, and they work with every student, and in the end, the goal is to get us all to

graduate so we can become important members of society.” All in all, the overall goal is that no student is left behind.”

Final Exams Cause Stress for Students

by Fiona Higgins  – Opinion Editor

Take a deep breath. You smell that? That’s finals season.

Final exams are always set at an unfortunate time. One the one hand, we get a long break in between our lessons before our finals in the form of Winter Break, letting us have a lot of rest and relaxation beforehand. However, that’s a whole two weeks with very little homework and absolutely no lessons before we’re immediately thrown into finals preparation, catching us all off guard.

So after studying our little unprepared brains into shape for the tests, they arrive. Or do they? There’s always a couple days right at the end of the semester that are reserved for finals; both of those days have two hour long periods that are meant for our last tests of the semester. That thought can be a ton of anxiety already; two or three tests all in one day? It sounds too draining. But a lot of teachers choose to spread their finals out around different days in the week or two before the end of the semester. That’s all well and good, but in a way, we might feel better if it was all in one or two days -at least that way, we could just get it over with.

At this point, we all know what will happen; we’ll walk in on the scheduled day for finals, steeling ourselves for any tests we may have, but are instead greeted with two hour doses of teachers attempting to get a jump on the next semester by doing two hour lessons. We get lulled into a false sense of security, only for one teacher to remind us that yes, indeed, we do have our final on the finals day. Frustrating, to say the least.

When I walked into high school as a freshman, I already knew that finals were going to be terrible. That’s what everyone tells you, that’s what the media tells you, and it’s the truth; they’re awful. The one thing you never hear is that their scheduled terribly.

We all have our own respective issues with finals, no matter what age, grade or gender. What can I say that all of us don’t already grumble under our breath while we’re studying for these things?

Seniors Reach Final Stretch

by Jason Thiel – Staff Writer

Being a senior is all about perspective. For some people, high school is their nightmare, their worst enemy, and they couldn’t be happier to escape it. For others, it’s a dream, filled with love, wonder, and adventure. Of course, those are two extremes, and plenty of us fall right in the middle, where some days we’re on one side, and some days we’re on the other side. All I can really comment on is how I feel about seniority.

Kentlake has arguably changed more in the last 4 years than in any of the years past. My graduating class has, to some degree, seen the end and beginning of eras. In the four years I’ve been at Kentlake, many faces that defined Kentlake for years before my class showed up, have left. Chuck Stowell, Dave Harris, Dr. Potts, Scott Simmons, Pamela Cressey, etc. From my point of view, which is heavily influenced by arts and academia, it seems like a huge chunk of the Kentlake “roster” has changed. The policies and attitudes of the replacements for these staff members are different, and that change has been noticed.

Any of us seniors can tell you that throughout all that change, it was rocky. The road through high school, or really anything in life, is quite bumpy. But if you play your cards right, even the worst things can have some sort of positive impact on your life. High school, for many is a defining part of who we become. It’s an experience that, at least for me, has forced me to decide where right and wrong is in many situations, as well as decide what kind of life I want to live, both morally and for a career. Not everybody decides on those things in high school, but regardless of when it is, this experience impacts you greatly. I personally cannot wait to leave and pursue my dreams and passions, and many others feel the same. But whether or not you think high school was good or bad is irrelevant. It shapes who we are and is the beginning of everyone’s journey through the world.