Opinion: Should teachers be armed?

by Kaitlyn Kozalla, staff writer

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Kaitlyn Kozalla, staff writer

In wake of yet another devastating school shooting, thoughts have resurfaced on how to prevent these unfortunate events from happening again. Many people have adopted the #NeverAgain motto in their tweets, implying the need to end gun violence and increase school safety. Surrounding this remark and many others is one question, “Should teachers be armed?” Regardless of partisan opinion, the media has been blowing up for either armed or unarmed teachers.

Since the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Donald Trump has spoke on Twitter about fake news and his intentions for the future of school safety. “I never said ‘give teachers guns’ like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC.  What I said was to look at the possibility of giving “concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience – only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot would not be able to immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A “gun free” school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!”

We protect banks, prisons, government officials, and celebrities with guns. Is that more important than protecting the future of America? “Maybe we should protect our schools like the super wealthy protect their cash,” said Steven Crowder, a conservative political commentator. Celebrities lecture Americans on guns, yet what protects them? Guns. Can you imagine if every school were as protected as the Oscars? One of the most vocal celebrities on gun control is the rapper Eminem. “They love their guns more than our children,” the rapper said as he slammed the NRA and accused gun owners. Maybe “the real slim shady” should sit down and take into account his own unlawful past involving firearms. Is this who should be petitioning for anti-armed schools?

Do I think schools should have guns tomorrow? No. But I do believe teachers who have had extensive training, who have shown a strong commitment to their job, and  who have shown themselves to be mentally capable, should be allowed to carry a firearm on school property. When it comes to basics, an active shooter outside of a school will find a way in, and law enforcement can’t always show up in time to stop the number of casualties from growing, or stop the shooting all together.

There are 14.5 million active concealed carry permits in the United States. People trust armed citizens walking in streets, in churches, and in businesses. There are no riots about armed civilians except when it come to the topic of putting guns in schools. On Nov. 5, 2017, a mass shooting occurred at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. An armed civilian, a former NRA instructor, used his AR-15-style rifle after hearing gunfire, and confronted the shooter. As horrific as the shooting was, it would’ve been much worse if the civilian did not intervene before the authorities reached the church. Having someone who knows what they’re doing inside an event can potentially lower the number of casualties.

The average response time for a police call is around twenty three minutes, while the average response of a handgun is 1750 feet per second (fps). What would you rather have protecting children, a call that could sacrifice lives or a trained inside source who could stop the massacre? How many more times do we need to hear about a mentally unstable gunman walking into a school shooting? How many more lives will be sacrificed before everyone wakes up and prepares our school officials to take action? Arm teachers, give them that right to have a fighting chance. A gunman is less likely to walk into a school knowing teachers are armed.

Opinion: Should teachers be armed?

by Kassie Boyd and Hannah Nicholson, news editor and opinion editor

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Kassie boyd, news editor (left) and Hannah Nicholson, opinion editor (right)

Following the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, there is a lot of debate on how to prevent and protect students from future shootings. One of the most controversial methods, supported by President Donald Trump, is arming teachers with guns. Many of those who do not support this method do so due to concerns for student safety.

Guns are dangerous; this is a fact. Why would we want more weapons inside a building full of children and in the hands of adults whose sole purpose is to educate their students?

The risk of human error is too high. According to the New York Times, a firearms discharge report released by the NYPD in 2006 revealed that only 103 of 364 bullets fired intentionally by officers, with no return fire, hit their target. How can we expect teachers to neutralize a threat in a high stress environment when professional and competent law enforcement officers often can’t?  

According to the Center for Education Reform, students outnumber teachers 16 to one. A group of students, or even a single one, could overpower a teacher. The weapon has the potential to end up back in the hands of the student.

Besides the concern that a student could do harm with a gun, we must consider the possibility of a teacher using the weapon against the children. No one wants to consider that possibility, but teachers aren’t exempt from being affected by mental illness. Financial, family, and job stressors can create a molotov cocktail of emotions that could have deadly potential.

In addition, many teachers are uncomfortable with being armed. No one goes into the field of education thinking that one day they might have to take a life. A teacher’s job is to teach. “I personally would not want to carry a firearm in school. I wouldn’t want to have that responsibility,” said art teacher Heather Papinchak. “I could not take down a shooter.” Teachers have lives; they have families and friends that want them to come home safely every night just like the students.

Multiple teachers at Saegertown disagree with the movement to arm teachers.  “I don’t believe that any teacher should be armed at school,” said English teacher Bill Hetrick. “There’s lots of reasons. Eighteen percent of bullets fired from police officers [during a gunfight where a perpetrator is shooting back] actually hit their target, I can’t imagine teachers having that. It creates much more of a risk than a benefit.”

The truth is that many public school across America are dangerously under-resourced. Kids often do not have regular access to guidance counselors, nurses, or trained professionals who could help them with issues going on in and outside of school. Classes are too big for teachers to form personal relationships with students. Proper materials and guidance are an essential part of maintaining a school’s healthy environment, far more than giving teachers firearms and ammunition. “Arm me with books, with supplies, with resources,” Mr. Hetrick said.

McCutchen trade creates roller coaster emotions for Pirates fans

by Nick Archacki, staff writer

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Nick Archacki, staff writer

As a Pirates fan, I believe it is time to touch on what has been a very tough start to the year for Pirates fans around the world with the trade of five time MLB All-Star and 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen’s trade to the San Francisco Giants on Jan. 15 created anger amongst Pirates fans as their star player and the face of the Pirates franchise was traded away. The Pirates received a disappointing and unfair trade deal from the Giants, receiving two low profile players along with a low amount of cash, for the amount of love, talent, and pride McCutchen gave to Pirates fans as well as fans having the same connections to McCutchen. In addition, just three days prior to the McCutchen trade, Pirates ace pitcher Gerritt Cole was traded to the Houston Astros, making Pirate fans ever more frustrated.

McCutchen was drafted by the Pirates in 2005 as a first round pick and had a successful as an Indianapolis Indian, the AAA Pittsburgh Pirates farm team, prior to starting in the MLB. The 5’10” rookie started his first game as a Pirate on June 4, 2009 with a hit in his first at bat in the big leagues, brought in an RBI and scored three runs in their victory against the New York Mets. McCutchen’s performance gave Pittsburgh hope that their team might have a rising star who would bring their team out of the dust and into the spotlight. Five years later, the Pirates and their fans were able to see that dream come true as McCutchen led the Bucs to the playoffs in 2013, 2014, and 2015 after a twenty year playoff drought.

McCutchen was the biggest star for the team ever since Willie Stargel, changing the team from being one of the worst in the MLB for many years to one the best in the National League. As McCutchen will be starting a new career and life in San Francisco, he has been very excited and emotional about his new life and how much he cares for the city of Pittsburgh and his Pirate fans. The day the trade was announced, McCutchen wrote a touching tweet to his fans on Twitter: “Pittsburgh. My Home. My Fans. My City. The place that raised me and helped mold me into the man I am today. You will 4ever be in my heart. A tip of the cap to all who have been on this journey with me. With Love and respect, Cutch.”

McCutchen also wrote an emotional article to Pittsburgh for The Players Tribune saying, “It’s just a trade. It’s not an eraser to my time as a Pirate, and it’s definitely not a goodbye to the city of Pittsburgh. My time playing for this team… it doesn’t go away, just because I’m going to play for another. If you see me, say hey and maybe throw a “Cutch!” in if you’re in the mood. I’ll be the guy who looks familiar, walking around like he knows the place with a few fresh tears, and a big ol’ smile with San Francisco on his shirt, and Pittsburgh in his heart.”

As the years went on, McCutchen created many memories for Pittsburgh Pirates fans to cherish for the rest of their lives including his performance in his first ever game as a Pirate, his fantastic walk-off home run against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park in 2015, and his first ever grand-slam in his career in 2017.  Us Pirates fans will remember these moments forever, but sadly we will most likely never see him again evolve as a player in a Pirates uniform and all we have to share now with friends, family, and fellow Bucco fans are McCutchen’s memories as a Pirate, which is going to be more than difficult to see him not at PNC Park playing in center field or building our inner excitement as McCutchen would be coming up to bat.  For Pirate fans all around, it’ll especially be hard to see Cutch at PNC Park this year playing the game he loves in the city he loves, wearing a San Francisco Giants jersey. Just remember these words from McCutchen: “Pittsburgh…It’s Home. It Will Always Be Home.”

 

‘#MeToo’ movement needs to keep moving forward

by Hillary Twiford, news editor

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Hillary Twiford, news editor

A revolutionary movement sparked a conversation in 2017 about sexual harassment and appropriate behavior towards other people. A group of individuals, called the Silence Breakers by Time magazine, are those who have dealt with sexual assault/harassment and have stepped forward to hold their attackers responsible. A recent issue of Time details accounts of courageous men and women who decided to share their stories of experiencing sexual assault and harassment.

Sexual misconduct is a serious problem that prominently resurfaced in 2017. The “#MeToo” movement began with activist Tarana Burke in 2006, but the phrase was popularized by actress Alyssa Milano with her tweet, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
Over 68,000 people replied to the tweet in over three months. The enormous number of people who have come forward and keep coming forward exposes a pressing problem with today’s society. Over 80 women have accused film producer Harvey Weinstein alone of assault. Weinstein was one of the first men to fall due to accusations, many other powerful men going down after him. Even though some accusations have come from the past, they should still be considered seriously.

“I think there would be a lot of guilt and shame of “what did I do?” I think it’s good no matter how far from the the past,” said junior high social studies teacher Mrs. Kara Bechtel.

Finally, people are being held accountable for their own actions. Admittedly, some will not change their ways and will continue to neglect the consequences. However, it should be society’s duty to hold them to the same standards as everyone else, with no regard for status or wealth. This inexcusable behavior cannot continue. Men and women do not deserve to suffer because of sexual misconduct, so we should no longer discourage them from sharing their stories.

“The #MeToo movement, I think that one makes me the most sad,” said science teacher Mrs. Melissa Statman. “Victims of of sexual assault in the past did not have the support they need to heal from that tragic situation.”

Similarly, on Jan. 20, one year after Donald Trump was elected president and the first anniversary of the 2017 Women’s March, people flooded the streets of hundreds of cities, such as New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, and more. The protests were spawned from Trump and his administration’s policies on controversial issues, including immigration and healthcare. Others took to the streets to protest civil and women’s rights, as well as sexual harassment and assault.

“I agree with the women marching and I believe they should be speaking out about how they should be treated. I hope the men that aren’t acting appropriately are paying attention,”  said business and technology teacher Mr. Tim Houck.

In 2017, the world was reminded that sexual assault and harassment is a frequent, yet devastating occurrence. The Silence Breakers shaped the movement that began a serious discussion of sexual misconduct in Hollywood and the common workplace. In 2018, we have to keep moving forward as a society and hope the movement does not stop until sexual assault does.

YouTuber sparks controversy with shocking video

by Kassie Boyd, news editor

YouTube celebrity Logan Paul, who rose to fame on the popular app Vine in 2013, has come under fire for posting a video entitled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” which was quickly deleted, but not before garnering nearly three million views.

Paul begins the video by saying: “This is not clickbait. This is the most real vlog I’ve ever posted on this channel and this is the most circumstantially surreal event that has ever happened in my life.”

Paul and a group of friends filmed their experience in Japan’s Aokigahara. The forest, located near Mount Fuji, holds the tragic title of the second most popular place to commit suicide (the first is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco). The video shows a hanging victim, unblurred and uncensored, with the exception of his face. Japan adheres to much stricter privacy laws than the United States, and while Paul will avoid legal trouble, he demonstrates a massive lack of respect for the deceased man, and Japanese culture in general.

Other than blatant disregard for cultural and emotional sensitivity, Paul spends the entire video perpetuating the American stereotype: loud and ill-mannered. While the body is certainly the most shocking part of the video, it’s not the only problematic part of Paul’s trip to Japan.

Paul and company spent the entirety of their trip making a mockery of Japanese culture. He dresses up in Kimonos and throws Poké Balls at unsuspecting people, he destroys things in stores and shoves dead fish and squid into stranger’s faces.

The video was only up for a few hours. It was deleted and followed by a half-hearted apology that placed the blame on everything and everyone but himself. It’s important to note that his apology video was monetized, meaning Paul ultimately profited from this whole ordeal.

YouTube came under fire following Paul’s video, for allowing it to trend and for not taking harsher action. Many claimed that Paul’s video violated Youtube’s strict content laws about privacy and disturbing imagery.

Following the blowback, Youtube dropped Paul from their YouTube Red comedy “Foursome,” and set aside any original material Paul was working on. He was cut from Google Preferred, a premium ad program that runs on the top five percent of Youtube channels. While Paul will still make money off his videos, he won’t make nearly as much.

Subscribers and non-subscribers alike denounced his actions. “I think what he posted was extremely offensive to people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and/or depression,” said junior Mikayla Balog. “It’s also offensive to Japanese culture and the family of the deceased.”    

YouTube’s official statement included a reminder of their partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and a condemnation of Paul’s actions. Many said YouTube did too little, too late.

“Everyone deserves a second chance,” Paul said in a recent video. He plans to return to vlogging soon, most likely hoping the whole incident will blow over.

Maybe it will; people forget or ignore issues and troublesome past in order to focus solely on artistic matter.

But his reputation has taken a massive, and well-deserved blow.

Saegertown draws the line. . . two inches above the knee

by Scout Van Cise and Hannah Nicholson, editor in chief and opinion editor

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Editorial Cartoon by Morgan Radwick, staff writer

On the second day of school, all students were pulled out of class and called into the auditorium by grade level to discuss various school policies and the idea of whether or not school is a fashion show. According to new assistant principal Mrs. Kylene Koper, it is not.

The student handbook says, “Saegertown Jr. – Sr. High School strives to promote a businesslike atmosphere and encourages all to ‘dress for success.’” This implies business casual attire for students and teachers alike. “The dress code prohibits dresses and skirts shorter than a notecard width or two inches above the knee (even with leggings or tights underneath), clothing, piercings, and tattoos that are distracting or interfere with the educational process, shirts with straps narrower than two inches in width, clothing with excessive holes or holes that expose skin higher than two inches above the knee, excessively torn, frayed, or unlaundered clothing, hats, headbands, bandanas, ‘hip hugger’ pants below the navel, chains, and pajama pants with or without pockets. Face makeup and hair ‘must be in accordance with cultural and community standards, and must not attract undue attention, cause a disruption in the classroom, or be considered to be potentially harmful to younger impressionable students.’”

Some students have accused the dresscode of being sexist. Shocking, right, considering that the current policy actually addresses men twice, regarding loose fitting pants and “wife-beaters.” According to Mrs. Koper, “Girls, you have so many opportunities or different things to be able to wear that it becomes an issue. I get that most of the time it may appear sexist because girls have, like I said, so many other opportunities.”

PENNCREST school board policy 221 states, “The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that all rules and procedures implementing this policy impose only the minimum necessary restrictions on the exercise of the student’s taste and individuality.” This clarifies that students do indeed have freedom of expression and are permitted to wear whatever they want within reason.  The keyword here is “minimum” restrictions, so is it really necessary for the faculty to whip out a notecard to ensure the length of our dresses and skirts are not an educational distraction? In reality, students are sitting in a desk for the majority of their day anyway, so the length of their dresses and skirts are hardly seen let alone a distraction. Is it necessary to remove students from class if their clothing is deemed inappropriate rather than allow them the education that they are there to receive?

Despite the unpopular changes to the policy, students have found loopholes in the dress code. Many females with holes in their jeans wear leggings or tights underneath to prevent revealing skin. Students are able to wear leggings/yoga pants with a long shirt that covers the front and the back of the upper thigh and hip regions. Hats and pajamas can be worn on designated days organized by the Key Club once per month. Some of the dress code prohibitions are not regularly enforced, so while some students may get caught violating the dress code, others may not be for wearing similar apparel.

The dress code in the official student handbook has not been updated since last year, and the policies are not uniform with what is enforced, causing more unnecessary confusion. Despite what feels to some like excessive interdictions and the targeting of teenage girls, students deserve a clear and consistently enforced code. This poses the question: are we currently being distracted by our dresses, or our are we actually distracted by the dress code itself?