Category Archives: Evan Swearingen

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.”

Parent Pickup Creates Parking Lot Hazard

by Evan Swearingen – Staff Writer

Every day can be a struggle for students who need a parent to pick them up. Parents’ schedules can sometimes be unreliable, and so can the places where they wait to pick up their kids. However, there is a solution—at least to the second problem.

Parents typically park on the red curb outside of the 1900 building. While this seems like a convenient place to pick up students after school, in reality it presents a danger to the safety of student drivers who try to drive out of the parking lot every day. It creates blind spots and narrows the lane into a two-way street with only one car’s width of space in which to drive down.

I had to drive two (occasionally four) students home every day in November. I specifically remember getting into my car with my regular two other students, my sister and my neighbor, and I drove to peek out past the cars that were parked on the red curb near the 1900 building. As soon as I saw past the cars parked on the curb, I saw a bus coming straight down the lane, and my car was so far into the lane that it was going to hit me. I put my car into reverse, and nearly let go of the brake before realizing that there was a car directly behind me, and I couldn’t go backwards without hitting them. Fortunately for me, the bus only came inches from hitting the hood of my car. While this story ended up with a safe outcome, it had the potential to end disastrously. This risk would not have even been presented if parents did not park illegally at the red curb in the parking lot.

The fact that it is illegal is perhaps the worst part. In Washington state, it is illegal to stop, stand, or park a vehicle next to a red curb—even if there is a driver in the car. There is a convenient—and legal—place to pick up and drop off students, conveniently called the student

pick-up and drop-off zone. By car, it’s the third left on Falcon way, and by foot, it’s right up the stairs outside of the front door. It is actually closer on foot to walk to the pick-up and drop-off section than to walk all the way out to the 1900 building. It is not convenient to be picked up near the 1900 building. Use the pick-up and drop-off area.

Aaron Carino: The Next Mr. Urmenita?

by Evan Swearingen – Staff Writer

Kentlake Pep Band is a program that requires great guidance—and last October, Senior Aaron Carino directed the pep band for the homecoming game. In November, he conducted Kentlake’s own wind ensemble during the veteran’s day assembly.

Carino has always been involved in our school’s band program, and as president of the band ASB staff it’s not hard to see that. He’s always has an interest in Kentlake having a field show too. Carino says, “Ever since I started watching drum corps international and also seeing other high school bands with actual marching bands, I wanted to start that new revenue into pep band, too.” Carino’s passion seems to be in field performances, and his enthusiasm shows it. Carino says, “The homecoming game was more my style”. He seemed to really enjoy practicing it at home. Carino says, “…I always practice in front of a mirror at home [for the halftime show]. I was ready for it.”

Of course, that’s not to say that the veteran’s day assembly wasn’t an enjoyable experience and an impressive feat for him. Carino says, “While the homecoming game was more about having fun and keeping time, the veteran’s day assembly was about showing emotion into how I conduct so that the whole band can replicate how I feel and how I can give that feeling out to them.” The homecoming game seemed to give Carino some time to have fun, while the veteran’s day assembly was more serious and allowed him to express not only his emotions about veterans’ day, but everyone’s through the band.

It is exciting to see that Kentlake’s band director, Mr. Urmenita, training a student in his craft.

NFL Players Kneeling: Pro vs. Con

by Jason Thiel and Evan Swearingen – Staff Writers

Pro

The NFL has been something that has brought Americans together for decades. Families and friends get together to watch their favorite teams battle it out on the field. Of course, there have been controversies and it causes arguments and drama, but at the end of the day, the sport generally brings people together. Because of this, these players have a huge influence on their viewers. Kids idolize these people as heroes who persevere through the worst of the worst in order to attain success. So, why is it so insulting for these heroes to take a stand for what they believe for? Why is a large portion of the country, including our president, chastising them for using their rights laid down by the founding fathers to speak up for what they believe in?

First off, because I respect the rights of these players to take a knee or lock arms, I also understand that people have the right to speak out against it. Both are examples of free speech and expression, which are protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution. However, I have an issue with people who think that these players should be fired or that they should not be doing what they are doing. For example, President Trump encouraged the coaches to fire the players who took a knee during the anthem, which would be a blatantly obvious violation of the First Amendment. Shouldn’t the President of the United States understand what the basic rights of free speech are, that are outlined in the document that regulates him and our government? It is like trying to play a sport but not knowing any of the rules. You just sort of grab a ball and run around until you get tackled, hit with a bat, slip on ice, etc. Anyone who did that would look like a bumbling baboon with no intelligence or coordination.

Additionally, a lot of people have taken the stance that the players should not be taking a knee because it is disrespectful to our flag. This is something that is just backwards. People have fought and died for this country to protect the rights that the players are using, and they have absolutely every right to do it. They are not gunning people down to get back at the government, they are taking a knee during the national anthem to peacefully protest certain things that are happening in this country. I respect if you are a veteran and feel personally upset, but you have to remember that objectively, they can and should stand up for what they believe in, peacefully. I acknowledge why people would feel upset that the players are doing that, which is respective a different perspective. That same logic needs to be applied to these players by the people upset at the NFL, because otherwise our country will continue to polarize until it’s irreversible.

Con

Across the nation, athletes on professional teams have been debating if kneeling instead of standing for our national anthem is a righteous way to protest injustice and police brutality against minorities.

American people, due to overexposure, have become numb to the real message of the Star-Spangled Banner: Homage to their soldiers that have faced tragedies and died to protect the United States, and recognizing the colony’s victory over the British, resulting in the United States’ value of freedom. Using that given freedom to protest what gave them freedom is not only an oxymoron, but disrespectful to the fighting soldiers and veterans as well. The song is about the United States’ triumph over opposition. Not standing for that is not thanking veterans for their service.

It is an issue that our national anthem is played entirely too often, causing this disconnect between Americans and what their national anthem stands for. The national anthem has no real right to even be played at many sports games except for international ones. Sports do not symbolize freedom or respect for troops in any way. However, while sports is absolutely no place for politics, the national anthem is certainly no platform to protest police brutality because it inherently communicates that American values are worthless, even if that’s not the intention of those who protest.

Some may argue that it is okay to kneel for the flag instead of standing for it because it exercises the citizens’ first amendment right—specifically, the right to peacefully protest. While this is true, and citizens absolutely have the right to not stand for the flag, that doesn’t mean

that they should. Kneeling for the flag still argues against freedom and respect, which ends up being morally grey at best.

Standing versus not standing is so much more than a battle of patriotism. Some may even view that kneeling is patriotic by bringing an issue to light, in an attempt to better this country. This is not to downplay the problem that is police brutality on minorities, but there are definitely better ways of bringing those issues to light in a way that doesn’t disrespect others.

Shortened Homeroom Irritates Senior

by Evan Swearingen – Staff Writer

The Kent School District still requires the culminating project for graduation—and the students are being given less time to work on it.

Last year, homeroom was a 45-minute long class which occurred weekly. This allowed students to not only to work on their culminating project, but meet with their advisory teacher and work on other classes they may be behind on as well. In contrast, homeroom this year is only 30 minutes long, and students only go to it biweekly. This means that students only have two-thirds of the time that they used to have in order to work on their culminating projects.

Meeting with homeroom teachers less often creates an issue where students are in competition with one another for time with their homeroom teacher. Not only that, but the homeroom teacher has less class time to read and sign papers for all of their students, like approving community service and job shadows, as well as the paperwork required for graduation like resumes. In fact, totaling all of the homeroom classes this year (including the ones that have already been held), students only have homeroom 18 times, leaving 15 homeroom classes left as of now.

Homeroom is 15 minutes shorter compared to last year, and this limits student studying time. Certain students in extra-curricular activities, such as drama, get home late and do not have a lot of time to study for difficult classes, especially if students are in AP classes. Some may argue that class time is more efficient for studying, and while class time certainly does help students prepare for classes, it does not give the time for personal study and memorization time that most AP classes require.

So then the question arises: How could the homeroom problem be solved without dissolving students’ valuable class time? One potential solution would be to move homeroom to another week day, like Monday, and keep last year’s schedule. However, this would be quite a radical change in the opposite direction compared to the current schedule, and it seems like too large of a step backwards compared to what the district was trying to do this year.

Another solution would be to make homeroom weekly again, making the new Wednesday schedule consistent. This solution would partially solve the studying issue by

allotting 30 more minutes each week to homeroom as well as the paper-signing issue, giving more time to homeroom teachers so they may sign papers.

The current homeroom schedule does not work. It is too short and too infrequent for students to get anything done in terms of their culminating project, which is required for graduation. There are certainly improvements to be made.