Focus https://mhsfocus.com The Student News Site of Midland High School Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:37:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 Column- Dan O’Callaghan https://mhsfocus.com/784/opinion/column-dan-ocallaghan/ https://mhsfocus.com/784/opinion/column-dan-ocallaghan/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:33:03 +0000 https://mhsfocus.com/?p=784  

As I approach the last days of my high school experience, I think it’s important to look at the people who inspired me to work harder and strive to be better. One of those people is my grandfather. My grandfather continues to inspire me without even trying, and I don’t think I can ever express the amount of gratitude I have for the man for all that he has done for me.
My grandfather was born in Saginaw in the 1930s, a time of great strife. His parents divorced when he was at a young age. He had to look after himself when he was living with his mother, who treated him unfairly and unjustly, to say the least. Despite this, Grandpa continued to grow and strive to go to school and get an education. Grandpa never complained, and despite being given what would seem like a poor hand in life, continued to work harder and not look back. Making himself his own man and pursuing greatness
If there’s an event I won’t ever forget with him, it would most definitely be the time he took me to Frankenmuth when I was about 12. This is the area his father’s family had lived. He showed me the old houses from his family, and the old stove his family had used to heat their homes and bake with. As we stood in that field gazing on what was, I really began to understand my roots more, something I had honestly never thought about. Driving back home he told me stories from his youth and I grew to have more respect the more I heard them and learned what he went through.
My Aunt Cheryl once told me the story of how when they lived in Montana, my grandfather owned a tool rental business. When people were in need, my grandfather would simply loan the tools to them without asking for money. While this wasn’t a good business model, it showed just how kind and compassionate the man is. He installed these values in his grandchildren and always taught us never to work for greed, but for the goodness of our heart, and to help others at any chance we got. While in Montana, he was able to raise his family and always ensure food was on the table, never taking his blessings for granted and never being concerned about the materialistic things in life.
Grandpa has always been a man of faith, and when his neighbor was in need he helped them out and still helps them out. No matter what sex, race, or religion you are, my grandfather is and was there to help if you came to him in need. I can’t walk around town with him for more than five minutes without someone coming up and saying hi to him. Every one of these people I’ve met has spoken highly of him, even those I meet without him there and just mention I’m a Janson to.
Growing up on his house and farm I was never bored thanks to the endless fun we had there. Being able to experience nature was great for me growing up and I really thank my grandfather for that and for working so hard to get that farm.
My grandfather is a mechanical genius. Ask anyone whose things he’s fixed and they’ll agree; from my girlfriend’s car to my toys as a child, he’s always been there to work and help us out. When it comes to all of my mechanical knowledge I have him to thank for it, as he’s always giving me something new to try and learn. This has always inspired me and made me want to help others and be a better person. When I think about complaining about the hand I was given, I try to remember Grandpa. He took the poor hand he was given and tossed it. He made a new hand for himself through hard work, never complaining and never playing the victim card – because he has always been above that. So, Grandpa, for all the life lessons and help you give me, I thank you.

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Column- Hannah Woehrle https://mhsfocus.com/781/opinion/column-hannah-woehrle/ https://mhsfocus.com/781/opinion/column-hannah-woehrle/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:31:34 +0000 https://mhsfocus.com/?p=781 Last August, something big happened: my brother left for college.
That was the day I became an only child. I often feel like us younger siblings get overlooked when the older child goes off to college. This is a pretty big change for us too, going from always having someone there to being alone. I know that he’s not actually gone, but lots of things changed after my brother left.
I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life. I woke up early with the rest of my family. I wasn’t needed for much that day, other than to stay out of the way, so I ate breakfast while the rest of my family loaded up the car. We were all a little anxious to get to Michigan State, but that was nothing compared to how we felt when we arrived. All around campus there were hundreds of college students eagerly moving in to their dorms.
The rest of the day included lots of hard work (by my parents) to move him in. However, the hardest part of the day came when we had to leave.
We each gave him a hug and said our goodbyes and tried to make the whole endeavor as short as possible. After all, we didn’t want to be “that family.” It was when we got back in the car that the tears came. We knew that day was going to be rough, but we never expected it to hit us so hard and so fast.
When we finally got home after what felt like the longest car ride ever, the house felt so empty. It was completely different without him there. I went up to my room and started bawling, not really expecting to miss him so much. I was used to him being out hanging with friends or working, but knowing he wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon made it so much more real.
That night, my friends knew how sad I was, so they came to my house with cookies. They all had siblings who graduated the year before and assured me that it would get easier. I knew that I would get used to him not being there, but I didn’t want to.
I didn’t want to get used to not having my big brother around.
Well, it’s been about seven months since I became an only child and though it took a while, I have gotten used to it. I still miss him, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced some perks. For starters: my car. Over the summer, I had to switch between using my mom’s and my dad’s cars, because my brother got to use the Grand Prix. But now, I’ve got my own car all to myself. She may not be the prettiest thing in the world (mostly because we’re the same age and I drove her into a basketball hoop), but having my own car is a luxury I will not want to give up.
Second, I get the basement all to myself. My brother and I would constantly argue over who gets to use it; and more often than not, he would win. However, that is no longer a battle I have to fight, and I get to throw as many wild parties as I want down there (Most “wild parties” include watching The Bachelor and eating fruit by the foot with my friends).
Last, I get my parents’ full attention. I’m not saying they’ve completely neglected my brother since he’s gone off to college, because that is not the case. But I know that whenever I have a problem, I have their undivided attention. Then again, this can also be a bad thing. Since they don’t have any other “distractions,” I can’t get away with quite as much. That’s still taking some getting used to.
Overall, being an only child has just been different. I’ve known my whole life that there would be two years where it would just be me at home, but I never knew how it would feel. It’s neither good nor bad, but I will always be glad I grew up as a little sister and I will always miss my brother.
That is, until he comes home for the summer.

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Column- Annie Laforet https://mhsfocus.com/779/opinion/column-annie-laforet/ https://mhsfocus.com/779/opinion/column-annie-laforet/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:30:18 +0000 https://mhsfocus.com/?p=779 I remember the first racist statement I heard at MHS like it was yesterday. It was freshman year, and I was walking down the hallway with two of my former friends when we saw a black boy and a white girl walking together. That’s when one of them said, “Wouldn’t it be so weird if they were dating, because he’s so black and she’s really white.”
I wondered why their skin color matters if they liked each othe–this is messed up. But I didn’t say anything, I was the new kid and I didn’t want to rock the boat. I was too scared to speak up against this blatant racism, and I still regret my silence.
Racism has always been a part of my life, I just didn’t realize it until high school. When I was growing up my hair was often compared to that of a dog, which I took as a compliment. It wasn’t until senior year that I started to stand up for myself, and it didn’t go as I would’ve hoped. One day a classmate told me again, “Your hair looks nice today… it reminds me of a dog.” When I told him that was rude, the whole class got involved in the discussion and it became heated. Some people sided with the boy, saying it was nice because people like dogs. Others were on my side, saying he could’ve just said he liked my hair and left it at that. We were simply telling them it was rude and inconsiderate, but they didn’t want to hear it.
The discussion ended with one girl telling the other side, “You look like a rat, but it’s a compliment because I like rats.” That made everyone stop talking, and (hopefully) understand where I was coming from. This incident is one of many racist encounters I’ve faced while at Midland High.
My junior year I was dealing with a racist boy in class who would joke about the n-word and constantly make little offensive race comments. One day he was talking during class, and when I asked him to be quiet, he told me “Shut up and stay in the corner, where you belong.” When I went to tell my teachers about this incident, I was told I would have to get over it, and that this racist behavior was what I was going to have to deal with my whole life. I was told to take the high road, even though this student’s actions should’ve been punished. This is absolutely unacceptable. I was disappointed that day because the staff I talked to made excuses for his racism, which sends the message that it is okay to be racist.
For too long racism has been an accepted part of the environment at MHS. It is the tragic truth, and unfortunately it has taken an extremely racist video for change to begin.
Education is important because racism exists in many-sometimes hidden-ways. There is the obvious racism like using the n-word or creating malicious content, or saying like the statements expressed in the video that came out last month. But, there are also smaller forms of racism that often go unnoticed. For example, touching a black person’s hair without asking, or comparing our hair to that of a dog, or telling a person of color they “talk white.” Using and allowing these micro-aggressions only enforces racism and hurts us all.
Racism will only start to disappear if we as a society make it clear that it’s not acceptable. One way you can do this is by calling your friends out if they make a racist comment. It doesn’t have to be in a mean or condescending way, it could be as simple as, “Hey dude, that was racist, not okay.” And if you’re the person on the receiving end of that comment, it is important for you to know you aren’t being attacked or called a racist, just your action was. So take the feedback and remember it for next time.

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Column- Bitsy Mammel https://mhsfocus.com/777/opinion/column-bitsy-mammel/ https://mhsfocus.com/777/opinion/column-bitsy-mammel/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:28:31 +0000 https://mhsfocus.com/?p=777 When I was little I wanted to be a teacher. Now I don’t think I have any more will in me to spend even another year in school. Then I thought I wanted to be a journalist, but right now I’m happy to keep that experience in high school. While I enjoyed them, my years on The Focus staff couldn’t possibly compare to other journalism experiences.
I used to think that I wanted to get out of the United States and live in Europe. I thought about playing on the varsity soccer team. I used to hate horror movies (I still don’t love them, but they’re slowly coming around to me thanks to Jordan Peele). I think about the person that I used to be, and it baffles me how different I am now
It would be easy for me to say that I think it’s so cool that I’ve changed so much over the past few years, but to be honest, change in any way scares the hell out of me. Last month I turned 18, a birthday usually highly anticipated and celebrated as someone says good-bye to their childhood and starts to embrace adulthood. Although I’m excited to vote and say no to cigarettes and gambling, it troubles me to know that my life is about to change. I won’t be able to act as a kid; I’m about to be very broke.
As the changes of getting older start happening, it’s hard to completely be excited for adulthood and college life when they bring a lot of change and sadness.
My fear of change is rooted in my fears of the unknown paired with my fear of lacking control. Remember when I said I used to hate horror movies? I’m known for looking up the plots so I don’t have to worry about jump scares or about a character that I know is going to die. Many of my actions are to give me a sense of control in this life filled with unpredictability, where we’re so often not in control.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to understand this fear more and more, and I really try to not let it affect me, as hard as it is not to. Thinking things out with reason helps me; I mean, we know how far some facts and logic go, right? For example, while I’m waiting in the airport I think about how many flights happen in one day, and how few flights in every couple years crash or have problems. When I think about college, I stop myself from thinking that I could make no friends and find no clubs that fit me. I remind myself that I’m pretty good at meeting new people, and that I’m going to a college big enough that I’ll find a group of people that fits me.
Another exercise that I use to relax is to just tell myself to chill out. I let myself enjoy the present, and I try not to take things too seriously (if I can remember to). Yes, adulthood intimidates me when I feel like I still feel the same as I did when I was in second grade, but does anyone actually know what they’re doing in this world? I’ve found that to some degree we’re all just smiling and waving and pretending that we know what’s going on, but really we’re just as scrambled as the next person.
No one’s asking or expecting me to become a fully functioning contributor to society as soon as I graduate high school. I can live my life day by day, hour by hour, even minute by minute if I have to. Breaking my life down in this way has helped me not become quickly overwhelmed when I think about my current and future responsibilities. I’m nervous about testing in May, but I don’t have to take all of them tomorrow, or even the same week, so I can relax.
I will never like change, but it’s impossible to avoid. I’m working on facing my fears (which is easy when your fear is inevitable), and as I’ve gotten better, I’ve realized that usually everything is better than I’d expect. Except Jordan Peele’s Us.

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Editorial- The Environment https://mhsfocus.com/775/opinion/editorial-the-environment/ https://mhsfocus.com/775/opinion/editorial-the-environment/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:26:42 +0000 https://mhsfocus.com/?p=775 For the past five years ago, Midland High made no efforts towards recycling. Every classroom has a big blue recycling bin, but all of those items went in the trash. It wasn’t until a member of the new Green Club went to Principal Jeff Jaster about the issue that it was resolved. The solution was a simple matter of clear labeling, one that could have been done years ago. Although recycling is improving we believe the school could do more to help the environment.
This school year, we have witnessed a lot of new efforts being made to improve how Midland High impacts the environment. Several clubs and organizations, such as National Honor Society and Key Clubs, participate in beautification projects that involve cleaning up the campus grounds and planting flowers. The addition of chromebooks two years ago has reduced the need for paper in classrooms. This year, a timer was added to the air conditioning system that helps to ensure it is not overused. Also, the new Green Club is making strides towards getting the school more involved with opportunities on how to help the environment. The Focus recognizes that these are positive efforts, and the first steps in a good direction. However, despite these efforts, this isn’t enough, and more action is needed by both students and administration.
Currently, climate change and human impact on the environment is not a part of any class curriculum that is given to all students. Certain classes like AP/IB Biology II, Geoscience, and Organic Chemistry have discussions about the impact human activities have on the environment and how to help the problem. However, these classes only reach a small number portion of the student body. CarbonTIME is a new curriculum a handful of teachers at Midland High have adapted that focuses on this issue. However, students in CarbonTIME have found that they missed out on other topics, and lacked the skills and knowledge they needed for higher level classes. The Focus believes that the lack of standard education has created confusion among students, and that a unit on climate change and human effect on the environment should be integrated into a required class, such as freshman biology, that covers the bases of the problem and how they can help it. A life-science course is required by all students so there will be a universal understanding about the issue.
Another conflict at the school that is contributing to waste is the use of plastic silverware. This accumulates a lot of trash each day that is added to landfills. The food thrown away also adds to this. The Focus believes that using reusable silverware and finding a way to compost food that isn’t eaten would benefit the environment
We also believe that the administration is not doing enough to promote recycling, or is taking the problem seriously enough. Only recently have we started hearing announcements about this program. Also, there is a severely limited number of recycling bins available outside, and students leaving for lunch still litter all over campus. In past years, the administration made more efforts about the significance of recycling, and we believe those efforts are relevant and should be made again. There should be more announcements and conversations in classes about this problem so students are more aware.
Dow High currently has a prominent Green Club that has made a lot of successful efforts to be more environmentally friendly. They have a greenhouse and garden, along with other projects throughout the year to promote the significance of helping save the environment. Bringing on projects like these would dramatically help Midland High’s effect on the environment.
In summary, we believe the newer efforts being made by students and administration are good, and are first steps towards creating a building and community that has more positive impacts on the environment. However, we also believe that a lot more is needed so that our carbon footprint is reduced. We recognize that this is a slow process, but many of these actions are overdue, as this is a growing crisis on an international scale, and the future of our Earth depends on it.

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A Day in the Life of Jack Schulz https://mhsfocus.com/771/opinion/a-day-in-the-life-of-jack-schulz/ https://mhsfocus.com/771/opinion/a-day-in-the-life-of-jack-schulz/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:25:04 +0000 https://mhsfocus.com/?p=771 Senior Jack Schulz begins a discussion with Monique Albright’s third hour leadership class. Photo: Spencer Isberg

Schulz completes his homework in the Student Council office. Photo: Spencer Isberg

 

Since freshman year, I had frequently wondered about the many roles and responsibilities required of a student body president. Senior Jack Schulz has taken on this important position, and his typical day is busier than most.
Schulz is not just Student Council President, he is also in Monique Albright’s third hour leadership class. He often leads class discussions to question fellow students about using their own leadership skills to complete difficult activities and tasks. On the specific day I was able to join this class, Schulz became the teacher because Albright was not able to be in class that day.
The activity that had been done the day before in leadership class involved groups of students trying to lower a helium stick to the ground. Schulz said that the point was to teach students how to work together and express their own individual ideas and leadership tactics to accomplish a task.
Schulz gathered the group of students together to discuss these events of the day before, encouraging classmates to share what they thought about the experience.
This class had showed me that student leadership was just an extension of Student Council, but it also deals with real life situations that may not have an apparent solution.
Taking the hour to sit down and observe how Schulz worked with other people showed me how it takes a passionate person to take on the role of student body president, and that this class is certainly helpful in exercising a range of skills in leadership and teamwork.
In addition to watching Schulz work with others in his third hour class, I also learned about the mechanics behind Student Council functions, most importantly the executive meetings that are held on Monday mornings every other week to explore what the student body can do next for change in the school.
Schulz and other executive officers arrive at school twenty minutes early to look over the agenda and prepare for the week. The meeting typically concludes at 7:35 a.m. They plan future events and activities of the school.
Although Student Council meetings may be held before official school hours, I was able to better understand why meetings like these are held with students working to change the school for the better, including events such as One Billion Rising, which was held in early March.
This includes organizing school events such as prom and homecoming, or even just putting smiles on glum faces of students coming into school on Monday mornings with positive greetings and music on the speakers. No matter what plans are discussed at these meetings, Student Council impresses me with their determination and hard work towards improving the school’s environment.
Because Schulz has been in Student Council throughout high school, he believes that all he has learned has equipped him to pursue a career in the business field.
He takes courses this year to help him practice skills that are used in this field, such as Advanced Accounting, Leadership, and online marketing courses.
Schulz says that he also takes IB Physics, so he was sure to challenge himself in science this year, and to work well in business it is important to take risks such as these.
Of course, the world of marketing and business is not for everyone, but through the many activities that Schulz has been able to participate in, he shows sure promise in taking jobs in marketing and exploring the world of business beyond high school.
Throughout his high school experience, Schulz said he has learned a lot about himself. He realized that he was able to gain many strengths in leadership and planning for the future from the people who surrounded him every day.
He was also able to recognize that it is essential to have ‘people skills’ in order to better collaborate with large groups of people to accomplish tasks. I was able to see this through his interactions with others in classes such as leadership, asking other students about their day, and willingness to answer questions about assignments.
Although I may not have a lot in common with the student council president, observing Schulz over a period of several days has convinced me that leadership may be a class that I would like to take my senior year so I can learn about how I am able to work with others, improve my leadership skills, and make my community a better place–just like Jack Schulz.

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Walking for Change https://mhsfocus.com/762/features/walking-for-change/ https://mhsfocus.com/762/features/walking-for-change/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:21:17 +0000 https://mhsfocus.com/?p=762 The Swansons pose with an illustration of Richard made by a friend of the latter’s. The drawing was one of few things that survived a basement flood in June of 2017. Photo: Maureen Aloff

 

For sophomore Alexa Swanson, her father Eric is an important figure in her life, with him coaching her on sports teams and spending quality time together by seeing movies and getting breakfast. However, one thing that particularly strengthens their bond is their involvement in the Walk MS event in Midland every year.
The walk serves to fundraise research and raise awareness for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease that causes the immune system to attack the protective layer on nerves. This walk is an annual tradition for the Swansons. Eric, a founding member of the walk, alongside member of the Dow Walk Team Helen Myers, has participated in the 3 mile walk for the 13 years that it has run in Midland. Due to his heavy involvement, Alexa soon began to accompany him on the walks as a young child.
“Once I got old enough that I could walk three miles I joined it and started doing it with him.” Alexa said.
Myers saw how successful other Walk MS events in other cities were, and wanted to bring awareness for the disease in the community.
“Both Eric and Alexa have been members of Team Dow for years volunteering to set up the event, walking in it, and raising money,” Myers said. “They are year over year enthusiastic supporters of the event.”
The walk, however, has a lot of personal meaning for the Swansons. Eric’s father, Richard Swanson, was diagnosed with MS when Eric was 6, and eventually passed away from complications due to the disease in 1995. Eric and his younger brother would come to struggle with the diagnosis.
“They hid it from us for a while, because when I was 6, I don’t think emotionally we were ready to deal with the fact that our Dad is sick,” Eric said. “You think your dad is like superman, and we weren’t really ready.”
In the years after the diagnosis, Richard’s condition quickly progressed, causing him to retire early when Eric was in middle school. The loss of his father’s physical capabilities was something that Eric struggled with while learning about the disease.
“By the time I was in middle school he was walking with a cane, by the time I got to the first part of high school he was walking with a walker, and by the time I graduated he was bedridden,” Eric said. “I would go to my friends’ houses and their dads were outside and playing football, and that was never something that happened in my house because we really couldn’t.”
While Richard was bedridden, Eric had to mature very quickly. Eric and his brother needed to learn how to handle the effects of Richard’s disease.
“I cleaned bedpans before I could drive,” Eric said. “There were times that he was taking medicine and he couldn’t get up. Somebody has to learn how to do that, especially when you’re the only one home.”
Alexa first learned about her grandfather’s illness early in her life. As she got older, she became gradually more exposed to the disease and learned more information about it.
“I would’ve been young when I first heard about it; it would have been when I first started doing the walks,” Alexa said. “It became different for me when I grew up and learned what he [Richard] had to go through.”
While there were struggles, however, life living with MS wasn’t all sad. Eric fondly remembers his father as being a big reader, a Star Trek fan, and having a great sense of humor. The two felt particularly close due to their similar personalities.
“I’ll admit – I was resentful,” Eric said. “But at the same time, he’s my dad. Being able to have that closer connection with him was important.”
Now, years after Richard’s passing, Alexa continues to strengthen her bond with her own father.
“Hearing about what happened makes me appreciate having a dad more now that I hear about all the things he wasn’t able to do,” Alexa said. “He’s [Richard] been an indirect influence in my life in that way.”
Eric made it his mission to provide all the things for his daughter that he couldn’t experience in his childhood with his own father.
“I made a point to do it so she didn’t necessarily have to deal with that,” Eric said.
Now, the two share the annual Walk MS in Midland each year. Myers is always glad to see the Swansons in the walk each year.
“The work that they are doing for the walk and the fundraising for MS research is so important,” Myers said. “I’m very glad that they are able to have such an influential role in the community.”
Myers believes that the annual walk is a way to get people together to work to bring awareness for an illness that impacts a number of people in the community.
“Through these walks, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of other people whose lives have been impacted by MS in some way,” Myers said. “It’s uplifting to see all of these people are willing to put effort into learning more about this disease and making a bigger impact in the community.”
The walk is a way for Alexa to honor her grandfather’s memory and to remember what he had gone through in his life.
“I never got to meet him because he passed away before I was born, so it’s been very personal for me in that way,” Alexa said.
Both of them believe that the walk serves an important purpose beyond the scope of research to finding a cure; it also serves to find ways to help and support people currently struggling with the illness. By participating, the two are able to share something important together while also taking action to fight MS.
“Everyone gets a bib to wear on your shirt that says: what are you walking for?” Eric said. “Every year, I say, ‘this is for you, Dad.’”

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Powerful Woman https://mhsfocus.com/759/features/powerful-woman/ https://mhsfocus.com/759/features/powerful-woman/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:18:31 +0000 https://mhsfocus.com/?p=759 Julia Powers poses infront of the competition arena of the State Frinals match at Saginaw Valley State University. Team 5509 was part of the Blue Alliance. The team came in second in their division, and will travel to the Worlds competition starting April 24. Photo: Maureen Alof

 

Senior Julia Powers has always liked robots, but when she saw Team 5509’s robot at freshman orientation, she knew she had to join the robotics team. Little did she know that she would almost singlehandedly wire the team’s robot two years in a row.
“I thought that the robot was the coolest things on planet Earth and I wanted to know how I could be a part of that,” Powers said. “I wanted to build a robot. It seemed like the most enticing thing to me.”
When Powers started, she didn’t know anything about robotics. She said that she felt bad for constantly asking questions about what people were doing to the robot, but she also said that being nosy was somewhat necessary to learn the craft. When people get into the zone they tend not to pay attention to the younger members of the team. Powers said that Abbey Lund, a senior when Powers was a freshman, took her under her wing and that it is how she found her role as one of the team’s electricians. Powers said that if it hadn’t been for Lunds mentorship, she likely would have not been as successful as an electrician.
Powers said the electrical aspect of building the robot is as all about getting the robot to run. Powers took up a big role in completing the robot her sophomore and junior year, contributing almost 120 hours of work during the season, almost all on electrical wiring. This year Powers has contributed about 40 hours, which while below Powers’ own average, is the average contribution of most team members.
Powers expressed sincere and positive feelings for the robotics team, calling her decision to participate one of the most important decisions of her high school career. However, not all of of her experiences have been positive. She has experienced some sexism on the team.
“I remember a time when a guy made a joke of ‘you should engineer me a sandwich,’” Powers said. “I also remember at a worlds competition, I had two different men I didn’t know ask for my phone number or offer to buy me a pop. I thought to myself ‘I’m here for robotics, I’m not here to date anyone.’ It was well intentioned, but it just made me uncomfortable.”
Powers expressed frustration with more incidents as well. She said there have been times where she has given an idea to solve a problem and that solution was not taken seriously, but when the same idea was later shared by a male member of the team, it was taken into account.
“It’s just the small, constant things,” Powers said, “the microaggressions, that really wear you down.”
Team supervisor and Midland High teacher Ben Younkin shared some thoughts on sexism on the team. “I don’t think anything’s perfect,” Younkin said, “and it kind of depends on our leadership and how we grow each year. I think that in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math] in particular, we need to be focused on making sure that we reach a representative population.”
Both Younkin and Powers expressed interest in expanding the female membership on the team, one day hoping to reach a 50/50 ratio of boys to girls on the team. Younkin also said that Powers is a great role model for young women in STEM.
“She has a super optimistic, cheery attitude even when things get hard or things break or don’t work the way we want. Some people get upset, but Julia has done a great job being positive and it has spread to other people now.”
Powers’ father, Brian Powers, has been extremely supportive of Julia’s participation on the team. He said it was always easy to support her because her passion for the team was real, amd it was clear that she wanted to be all in.
“She’s not one to just read about it, she actually wants to roll up the sleeves and work on things” Brian said. “So anytime that we have a project at home that would also include doing that kind of thing she’s right on top of it. Electronics, circuitry, and wiring are really her thing.” Brian says he knows that Julia will be successful because of how she has excelled in robotics.
Julia said that being on the robotics team is what made her want to be an electrical engineer, more specifically, work on ways to help the handicapped. She plans to attend either Michigan State or Michigan Tech next year to continue her education. She knows that the problems she has faced with sexism, especially in STEM do not go away, but she is ready for the challenge.

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All Eyes Open https://mhsfocus.com/756/news/all-eyes-open/ https://mhsfocus.com/756/news/all-eyes-open/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:16:06 +0000 https://mhsfocus.com/?p=756  

Seniors Zee Brown and LeVale Walker, co-heads of the initiative, practice the See Color presentation that will be given to every third hour class over the span of a week. Photo: Hannah Woehrle

 

 

Senior LeVale Walker is tired of hearing people say, “I don’t see color.” While most people say it because they think it proves that they are not racist, Walker believes that it creates an entirely different problem.
“To me, that is one of the worst things someone could say,” Walker said. “If you don’t see color, that means you don’t see a difference. That means we’re not getting anywhere.”
This inspired Walker to name the racial awareness campaign See Color. Walker, along with senior Zee Brown, are part of the team running this campaign through the leadership class as a response to the racist video that circulated through Midland High. Walker said that the campaign wants to focus on promoting diversity positively and teaching students how to be an ally.
“A good white ally is someone who knows when their opinion is necessary or when it’s not and when it’s time to listen,” Walker said. “People who let you know that they’re there for you all the time and actually are.”
Monique Albright, teacher of the leadership class, oversees this campaign, but said it is completely student-run. She said that it is a great campaign to make students aware that racism is an issue and agrees that it is important that Midland High students become educated on how to be an advocate for racial equality.
“How can we help to support those who are non-white in our existence? And how we can help promote a fair and equal opportunity for all, essentially,” Albright said.
See Color is currently planning on giving presentations to every third hour class in the coming weeks. Brown said these presentations will last about 15-20 minutes because they want to have real interactions with the classes. Brown said that in addition to the third hour presentations, they are going to have speakers come in and talk about diversity, which they are hoping to model after the Veterans’ Day presentations in the library.
Brown and Walker agree that because of these presentations and the need for education at Midland High, this campaign is different from past campaigns from the leadership class.
“It’s an important conversation,” Walker said. “One of the things we talked about is that we don’t want it to be a one-time conversation, we want it to keep going. We want this conversation to be eternal until the problem is gone.”
Albright said that she knows there have been problems at Midland High regarding racism, but that she hasn’t seen any discussion about it. However, with the most recent events, Albright said that it isn’t just teens that don’t know how to talk about it, but everyone.
“The fact that it makes people uncomfortable is the exact reason why we should talk about it,” Albright said. “For me personally, I hear the stories of my students and I see the struggles. I do not fully understand because I am white. I definitely understand and I recognize that I am a part of white privilege, but I cannot begin to understand the experiences that people of color have. We don’t talk about it, and we need to.”
Brown said that she wants to see people stepping out of their comfort zone and being vocal about what’s happening around them at Midland High. Walker also said it’s important that the campaign not only fights for minorities, but with them.
“I think that minorities have a lot to say and have a lot of creative ideas,” Walker said. “If you disregard those, that’s dangerous because in some cases we’ll stay where we are and in some cases we’ll go back and we won’t grow as a community and as a nation.”
Brown, Walker, and Albright said that See Color is a great opportunity for Midland High to learn. They want people to understand that racism is something that people of color face every single day.
“For these things to continue to happen and occur at Midland high and for us not to do anything about it, these are teachable moments,” Albright said. “The student body wants to learn more and they are receptive. They don’t want to be depicted as a racist school, we want everyone to feel comfortable and included.”

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Peer-to-Peer https://mhsfocus.com/753/news/peer-to-peer/ https://mhsfocus.com/753/news/peer-to-peer/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:14:31 +0000 https://mhsfocus.com/?p=753 ESA student Anna Carlson waves at everyone in her group. The students enthusiastically greet each other before each meeting.

Senior Jacob Maschino tells ESA student Gordon Powell a joke. The two enjoy talking together and being in each other’s company.

Senior Erin Vokal and ESA student Tanner Bowerson bond over Play-Doh. The two play a game guessing what object the other is sculpting.

 

 

Every Friday during third hour, the sound of laughter can be heard from various classrooms around the school as students participate in activities including playing Uno, making shamrock shakes, and sculpting with Play-Doh. This welcoming environment is Midland High’s new Peer-to-Peer group.
Peer-to-Peer is a research-based program that is backed by studies and universities where students with disabilities are given the opportunity to bond with other students.
The idea for the group was first drafted when Leadership teacher Monique Albright reached out to Special Education teacher Kelly Brandle hoping to create a program centered around inclusiveness for ESA students.
Brandle and Special Education teacher Sarah Tebo have been educated through training and research in order to understand how to run the group and know what activities could be beneficial to their students.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to work with the students that come from Monique’s class, they’re awesome and they’re just great with our kids,” Tebo said.
The meetings offer a unique experience for inclusion that most ESA students lack, because some of them are not enrolled in general education extracurriculars. The students’ time spent together has shown to be more socially beneficial than if they were to join a regular class.
“In peer-to-peer you’re showing up saying ‘this is my time to really connect with someone and learn about them,” Brandle said.
The meetings have given ESA students time to bond and socialize with general education students. Junior Andrew Chatman, a student in the leadership class, has noticed the benefits of the program firsthand.
“They have been impacted in a major way in being more included and have been given the opportunity to improve social skills and be more included in everyday life,” Chatman said.
Brandle explained that playing games and conversing one-on-one gives students a chance to enjoy normal, everyday high school experiences.
“This is an opportunity where they don’t have to be completing work but rather having a good time and really getting to know each other,” Brandle said.
Tebo said the friendships are important for the ESA students and the relationships can positively benefit their high school experiences. Students involved in the groups have noticed that the connections carry out beyond the group meetings.
“Everyone likes to pass by friends walking down the hall, say hi, and be acknowledged,” Tebo said. “It gives our students more of those opportunities than they’ve already had.”
The special education teachers particularly have enjoyed the interactions between the two groups of students. They are glad to see people making an effort to create close friendships and bonds.
“We love our students,” Tebo said “We know their personalities, their quirks, and I think it’s really fun to see other people get to know and appreciate them and learn their interests.”
ESA student Casey Harry has been enjoying his time in the group. He takes amusement in spending time with his fellow students and enjoyed playing games like Uno with them.
“It’s special to interact with the other kids because I don’t have a lot of friends and it helps me make more,” Harry said.
The meetings are a beginning for the student body as a whole to make a more accepting and understanding environment. Albright explained how being embracive comes about in all shapes and forms whether it be showing up to cheer on less popular sporting events or approaching someone new in class.
“We all say we are too busy but we could easily slow down to have a conversation with someone and really be inclusive,” Albright said.
Chatman said that a simple action of reaching out, showing kindness, and taking the time to really get to know another student can really make an impact.
“It’s eye opening how little something may seem, but how big it may be, and how largely it can impact someone’s life,” Chatman said.

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