Category Archives: Nick Shepard

Spokane Devestated By School Shooting

by Nicholas Shepard – Web Editor

On September 13th, Caleb Sharpe came to school with two weapons, both of which belonged to his father and he had taken without permission; an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle and a .32-caliber handgun. Hi rampage that followed resulted in the death of one student and the non-fatal shooting of three others. Freeman High School, where he had just begun his sophomore year, is about ten miles southeast of Spokane.

Other students at Freeman High School told authorities that Sharpe had said he was “going to do something stupid and might get killed or sent to jail”. He had brought notes on various school shootings to school on previous occasions, and reportedly watched the documentary “Mind of a Rampage Killer”, about 10 times.

The victim of Sharpe’s attack, fellow student Sam Strahan, was shot first in the abdomen and then in the cheek, and there is evidence to suggest that Strahan was one of various specific targets Sharpe had in mind. Detectives found a yearbook while searching his home, in which 26 students’ photos, including Strahan’s, were marked with “X Kill”. Different notes Sharpe took were also found, which included statements such as “Killing is fun and I enjoy it,” “I am the one who deserves to live,”, and “I am smarter than the cops.”

Strahan had allegedly been friends with Sharpe in the past, but in recent years they had drifted apart. Sharpe’s intention, he told detectives, was to teach everyone a lesson about bullying and what it can do to a person. “Sharpe said the plan went exactly as intended,” as detectives wrote in court documents. As of now no evidence suggests that Sharpe was suicidal or intended to end his life after committing the shooting.

Witnesses reported that Strahan attempted to talk down Sharpe, which is when he began shooting. After Sharpe shot Strahan he fired into a group of girls, hurting three of them, before being overpowered by a janitor.

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.

Bombing Displays Necessary Leadership Despite Controversy

by Nick Shepard – Staff Reporter

Much controversy has arisen in recent weeks following President Trump’s green light on the use of military force against the Syrian Assad regime on April 6. The President’s order came in retaliation for the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians two days earlier. Even though the chemical attack left 89 people dead, including many children, and fully justified a return attack, plenty of people are going after Trump for acting on not enough information.
First, one thing needs to be set straight: the Assad regime did use Sarin gas against its own people. The main argument those opposed to Trump’s action give is that there is no proof that it was the Assad regime and could just as easily have been ISIS. But at least 10 victims of the attack were analyzed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons soon after their deaths, and all indicated signs of having been exposed to Sarin or a similar substance.
The Ministry of Defense also announced on April 13 that tests had been conducted in British labs on several blood and hair samples from victims of the attack, and all again tested positive for Sarin.
Russia, Syria’s main ally, has made claims that a regular Syrian airstrike had hit a terrorist weapons depot, and that had released the substances contributing to the mass death – but if Russia is still a credible source of information for world affairs, then I guess they did not meddle in the U.S. election at all.
Now that is clear; it isn’t a question whether or not it was Assad and his regime that did the killing. It is only a question of whether or not military retaliation was justified.
While it is difficult for me to voice support for any controversial thing the Trump administration does, this was the right choice. If arguably the most powerful and well-equipped nation on the planet sits idly by following the slaughter of civilians, and with the use of chemical weapons, nothing is off the table for people like Assad.
During both world wars and most conflicts since, there has been a mutual understanding between combatants that if they deploy chemical weapons, they can prepare to have an equal or greater level of destruction used against them. Much as the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction kept us on the brink but not over the edge of nuclear war during the Cold War, the understanding on chemical weapons saved the world from many awful atrocities that could have occurred in the last century or so.
Under that unspoken agreement, it could be argued that we went easy on Syria. Assad could have expected to be wiped out of existence after what he did – instead of simply ‘degrading or destroying’ sections of the Syrian airbase from whence the plane carrying chemical weapons was said to have departed.
The Russians that were said to have been present at the site of the U.S. strike were given a one-hour notice and according to the Syrian state news they were not among the six killed at the airbase.
Overall, the act committed by the Assad regime was undeniably a gross violation of international law, and if there is any line that can be crossed to provoke military action from us, then Assad crossed it, kept running, and didn’t look back.

Trump’s New Healthcare Plan: Pulled Before Vote

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by Nick Shepard – Web Editor

The World’s Greatest Health Care Plan, introduced by Texas U.S. Representative Pete Sessions on March 1, is the GOP health care plan that President Trump and many congressional Republicans touted over the course of the 2016 campaign, but in weeks following it’s release it has encountered its share of hurdles. As of now, it has been officially pulled and is unlikely to be revived in any form.
The plan has been dubbed ‘Obamacare Lite’ by some conservatives, because of its great number of similar aspects to the Affordable Care Act. While the bill does restrict the expansion of Medicaid, health care for those impoverished, much more than Obamacare did, it is extremely close to Obamacare in its actual content; how it’s paid for is where it differs.
As soon as it came out, the bill was endorsed by the president, who said on the 17 that “We are going to have a health care plan that’s second to none… These folks were ‘no’s’ yesterday, and now every single one is a ‘yes.'”, speaking of several GOP legislators who he spoke with that week.
For a majority in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan needed 215 votes. The republicans enjoy a 237-198 seat lead, so assuming no democrats would vote for the bill they could only afford to lose 22 republican votes – so the 30 member hard line conservative off-shoot of the GOP, the Freedom Caucus, threw a wrench in the plan.
After numerous talks with the Trump, Ryan, and Vice President Pence, none of the members of the Freedom Caucus would sway from their views, so the votes just weren’t there.
The bill was originally intended to have its vote held on March 23rd, the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law, but in an attempt to garner more votes it was pushed until the 24th. The time for the vote rolled around, but rather than be embarrassed by having his bill fail, Paul Ryan made the decision to pull the plan and hold no vote at all.
Ryan was decried by many conservatives and democrats alike in the wake of the failure, for failing to come up with a good enough bill in the seven years he had. Trump was quick to shift the blame from he and Ryan to the democrats, of whom he said: “We had no Democrat support. They weren’t going to give us a single vote, so it’s a very difficult thing to do.”
The day after the bill’s failure, on ABC’s This Week, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said “You cannot run the presidency like you run a real estate deal. You can’t tweet your way through it. You can’t threaten and intimidate and say I’ll walk away. It’s more complicated… But I would say this, we Democrats, provided our Republican colleagues drop replace and stop undermining the ACA, are willing to work with our Republican friends.”
One of the big problems the left had with the bill is that it cancels tax penalties for those who opt not to have health insurance at all – this would result in millions simply not signing up for insurance in order to save money, at the possible cost of their own wellbeing.
The Congressional Budget Office looked at the World’s Greatest Health Care Plan in its current form and predicted that, if it were to be enacted, 14 million more people would be without health insurance by 2018. By 24, the number would reach 24 million.

Michael T. Flynn Resigns, Shortest Serving National Security Advisor in History

Michael_T_Flynn

by Nick Shepard – Staff Reporter

Following his surprise resignation Monday night, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn became the shortest serving national security advisor in the position’s 64 year history, having served under President Trump for a mere 24 days.
Flynn’s legitimacy has been repeatedly called into question in the past weeks, in response to calls he was found to have had with Washington’s ambassador from Russia, Sergey Kislyak, on December 29th.
Incidentally, this call occurred on the same day that former President Obama placed sanctions on Russia, restricting 35 Russian diplomats living in the U.S. and sending them home.
Kislyak was also found to have texted Flynn on December 28th, although they didn’t connect via phone that day.
Many see Flynn’s association with Kislyak before he was officially a member of the government as a violation of the Logan Act, passed in 1799, which prohibits American citizens from dealing with foreign powers, whether they’re an ally or enemy. The intention was to stop these negotiations from undermining the legitimacy of the government’s powers.
Those skeptical of this initial explanation question the reasoning behind an incoming U.S. national security advisor conduct this work, when any number of other members of Trump’s team could have done. By the same token, critics wonder why Kislyak, a career politician who’s served as the U.S. ambassador since 2008, would be given such a job.
In the days leading up to Flynn’s resignation, U.S. intelligence officials reported that Flynn had in fact discussed sanctions with Kislyak, a violation of the aforementioned Logan Act.
An official investigation has been called for by leading Senate Republicans into not only Flynn’s ties with Russia, but Trump’s involvement in the entire Flynn-Russia situation. It was confirmed that Trump has known about the true nature of Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak since the 26th of January, and kept the knowledge from Vice President Pence until only several days ago.
Many of those pushing for investigation are concerned that Flynn may have purposely misled Pence in his account of his correspondence with Kislyak, causing Pence to deny on national television that discussion of the sanctions had taken place.
Following the surprise opening Flynn’s position, Joseph Keith Kellogg Jr. was sworn in as acting national security advisor. Like Flynn, he is a retired Army Lieutenant General, serving from 1967 to 2003 and participating in the Vietnam War and Operation Urgent Fury.

Covington Hollydaze Proves to be Colossal Success

KL finishers(2nd nick mcclure 1st nick shepard 7th krista matuska 3rd hunter mcclure 4th zack harrison) before reindeer dash 3

by Nick Shepard – Staff Reporter

This year’s Covington Hollydaze events, was a big success, attracting hundreds of citizens over this past weekend. The fun kicked off on Friday night, with the Float-In Holiday Movie, at the Covington Aquatic Center. Those participating could swim and float in the pool, while at the same time viewing a holiday movie. There were games all night, and chances to win fun prizes.
Saturday began with the annual Reindeer Dash 5k at 8AM, which had a main goal of raising food for the Maple Valley Food Bank and ended up with a turnout of around 120 people. Participants could either pay five dollars for entry, or provide five non-perishable food items. The first 100 participants were given reindeer antlers and goody bags.
Kentlake had a strong turnout in the race, taking the first four and seventh places overall. Nick McClure, who came in 2nd place, said he was “excited to place so highly,” and that the run was “a great experience”. His brother, Hunter McClure, came in 3rd, and Zack Harrison came in 4th. Krista Matuska came in 1st for women and 7th overall.
Directly after the run was the free pancake breakfast at the city hall for all the tired runners, along with other activities, such as photos with Santa. Participants also had the opportunity to donate food or cash to local food banks.
After breakfast, festivity-goers headed over to the craft bazaar at Jenkin’s Creek Elementary School, where they could look for gifts or handmade items from fifty different vendors.
Ending it all was the community tree lighting ceremony, where in the freezing cold hundreds of people gathered around the Don Henning Roundabout to watch the main Christmas tree and the surrounding shrubbery being lit. There was cocoa, singing, holiday music, craftmaking, cookie decorating, and Santa even showed up at 5:30.
All in all the Covington Holidaze events were successful in stirring up the cheer and getting our community ready for a fun holiday season.

Hillary Clinton overqualified and out to serve

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by Nick Shepard – Staff Reporter

Who is qualified to be President of the United States? Should a person, perhaps, have served as a U.S. Senator for eight years? Or maybe act as the U.S. Secretary of State? What if you’ve already lived in the White House, would this give you experience?
Before he was president, John F. Kennedy, the man who got us on the moon and negotiated us out of the Cuban Missile Crisis, only had experience as a Senator and a member of the House of Representatives. Ronald Reagan was credited by some Republicans with the resolution of the Cold War, but only had experience as the governor of California after his career as an movie actor. Abraham Lincoln, who led the the U.S. through the Civil War, had only been a member of the Illinois and U.S. Houses of Representatives, before becoming president.
According to our current president and commander-in-chief, Barack Obama, these three qualifications are exactly what is needed to make progress as president in the Oval Office. On July 26 at the Democratic National Convention, he said, “there has never been a man or a woman, not me, not Bill Clinton, nobody, more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States.”
All you have to look at is her voting record as a U.S. Senator from New York, to understand why she is the most qualified candidate. She voted in the widely accepted Military Force Authorization directly following the Sept. 11 attacks, she voted down the expansion of offshore oil wells and development of oil shale, she makes decisions that are fundamental to the function of our country, and she, no doubt, will make the same kinds of decisions in the White House.
When the world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, was finally killed in 2011, Clinton was there in the situation room. Speaking at a Cincinatti rally in August, she said, “I brought to those discussions my experience as a senator from New York on 9/11 and my commitment to do whatever I could in whatever role I had to bring bin Laden to justice.” When the 3000 Americans who were murdered on Sept. 11, 2001 were finally avenged, she was right there making tough choices. These types of decisions could keep our country out of whatever troubles may come our way.
If you want to promote a more modern and elevated version of teaching, and dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, Hillary Clinton deserves your vote. If you want the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership to be repealed and replaced with a plan that will bring back American jobs from overseas, Hillary Clinton deserves your vote. If you want to strengthen our southern border, while still paving a realistic path to citizenship, Hillary Clinton deserves your vote. If you want the immensely successful Affordable Care Act to not only be protected but expanded upon, so it can reach even beyond the 20 million people it covers, Hillary Clinton deserves your vote.
Ironically, in 2008, when she was running for president, Clinton even recieved an endorsement from prominent billionaire and businessman Donald J. Trump, who wrote on his website, “I know Hillary and I think she’d make a great president… Hillary is smart, tough and a very nice person.” If she’s able to stem cooperation on both sides of the aisle like this, there’s no doubt that as president she could work to clear the current gridlock we are seeing in congress and actually lead our country to true progress.
It is indeed difficult to be qualified, let alone overqualified, for the job as the most powerful person on the planet, but with her proven track record as being a positive force for the American public in years past, this election shouldn’t even be a contest; Hillary Clinton will continue to make the right decisions for the people and will turn out to be one of the best presidents this nation has ever seen.

Golf season highlights team unity

KL - 2016 Golf Team

by Nick Shepard – Staff Reporter

However many holes you’re shooting, whatever the weather, Kentlake’s golf team is ready to take it on. Varsity golfer David Ellithorpe said that while many varsity members graduated last year, “…overall members of our team have really pulled together to take some great points from the other teams.” Head coach Mark Gaul also said that while this year the team “had to reload”, they ended up having a “great season”.
Gaul said that out of the 21 boys and seven girls on the team, three of each moved on to the supreme qualifier.
Golf is going to be a sport to watch in coming years at Kentlake, as there are “a lot of new enthusiastic freshmen” bringing a lot to the table, according to Ellithorpe. He said that the “varsity members like Alex Phillips and Riley Sauceda are just doing great, and it’s really nice to have them around.”
Ellithorpe himself has had a good season; he said he’s “kept a pretty constant score. I’ve been in a few dips, but other than that I’ve put up some good points. I shot my best round this year.” Ellithorpe was one that Gaul said is continuing on to post season, in addition to Phillips and Evan Little from the boys team, and Jordan Wayner, Brooklyn Garcia, and Ashley Hendricksen from the girls team.
According to Ellithorpe, Kentlake golf is not limited to being a sport, but also is a greatly unified group of friends. He said, “you can really connect with people throughout the sport. It’s something you can all relate to, like ‘oh man, I hit a bad shot right there,’ and, ‘oh yeah, I hit a bad shot over there.’ It’s like a big family.” Gaul said that golf is a “life long sport”, and he’s met all sorts of people who “wish they’d played golf in high school”.

Kaepernick protests injustice in America

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by Nick Shepard – Staff Reporter

Controversy has arisen in recent weeks over San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest aimed towards the meaning behind our flag. His protest began on Aug. 26th in a pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers. Explaining after the game, Kaepernick said that he was, “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
He’s gained many supporters and followers, one being, Megan Rapinoe of the Seattle Reign. Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem in a Sept. 4th game against the Chicago Red Stars.
But for all the support Kaepernick’s getting, he’s also getting a lot of opposition. Gary Radnich, a radio host in the San Francisco area, tweeted, “Kaepernick not standing for National Anthem: I respect Freedom of choice but if he really wants to take a stand? Give back his NFL salary!!!” The majority of people, however, seem to feel that while he constitutionally has the right to protest, he isn’t necessarily going about it the right way.
When asked how they would respond to a school football player protesting the anthem, Coach Thompson said that he would be “disappointed”, but said he, “would respect their freedom of expression.” Football player Kristian Mcfarland said that “it would be his right not to stand, but I would think of him more poorly as a person.”
As the situation develops, people are beginning to choose sides, some NFL players joining Kaepernick in his protest, and others, like our Seattle Seahawks, are doing demonstrations of their own. On Sept. 11 in a game against the Miami Dolphins, they linked arms as a team during the National Anthem, to show their “team unity” and to “honor our country”.
As more of these protests take place, it is becoming apparent that the spotlight is moving away from Kaepernick and instead being focused on what it means to truly be free.

Epi-Pen price raise causes strain on families

Epi-Pen_2016by Nick Shepard  Staff Editor

Picture this: a family has two children with life threatening food allergies – it is not an unlikely scenario, as food allergies can be passed down genetically.
An Epi-Pen, the life saving drug that can postpone anaphylaxis 10 to 20 minutes, costs only $100. The family figures that with five Epi-Pens on hand at all times, each of their children would have at least roughly an hour to get to a medical center if they were to ingest an allergen. Since they have two kids, they’re only out $1000 per year, since the rough working life of an Epi-Pen is one year.
Suddenly, the Epi-Pen owner, Mylan, jacks the price up 600 percent. Now you’re shelling out $6000 a year – something many families simply cannot afford to do.
In 2014, the median household income in the U.S. was $53,657. If families are in fact paying full price for all of their Epi-Pens, they will be spending roughly 11% of their entire salary. This hypothetical family is not an unlikely one, seeing as there are roughly 15 million Americans with food allergies.
With such a huge portion of a family’s income going towards simply keeping their children alive, it’s hard to imagine how they could even fathom paying for something that’s becoming an increasing necessity to succeed economically in the U.S. – college.
If we want our country to reassert itself as one of the most educated and opportunity-filled countries on the planet, we’ll need to start holding corporate America accountable for their decisions and stop allowing them to choose to do whatever would cut them the biggest profit.
Here’s the kicker – the CEO of Mylan, Heather Bresch, is the daughter of none other than U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Interesting, isn’t it, that the daughter of a powerful politician, is able to legally make such a poor, cruel decision? With any luck, she’ll be getting cracked down on hard in the coming weeks and months.
The leading seeker of prosecution for Bresch is another U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, whose own daughter carries an Epi-Pen at all times. She’s representative of the silent majority of those with food allergies and their families – except she has a voice on the national stage. With people like her in power and the amount of publicity that is coming as a result of the greed of Bresch and her father, eventually this atrocity will be corrected.
But that’s just one example out of the hundreds of big companies, pharmaceutical or otherwise, who have exploited their consumers at every chance they get. If we want our country to continue to smoothly function economically, we must make the big companies, like Mylan, play fair and look beyond their own bank accounts when pricing their products.