Should college visit days count toward total student absences?

by Hannah Nicholson, opinion editor

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Hannah Nicholson

Many seniors are starting the process of applying to colleges, and one part of that process is college visits. Seniors must decide what environment would best suit them for the next two to four years of their education, and the best way to get a feel for universities is to visit in person.  Unfortunately, the current school policy decrees that college visits count toward the 10 excused absences a student has each year. Many seniors disagree with this decision.

In order to be excused for a college visit, Saegertown’s policy requires that students bring a note from an admissions counselor saying they were at the college on the day they were absent. “Technically by now we want kids to be applying. They should tour during the summer when they do their senior projects,” said guidance counselor Rose Watt.

With the current system, students who did not tour over the summer, like Stefanie Arblaster, are stuck using their excused absence days for college visits. “I understand why that rule is in place, but they should take into consideration that a lot of people make decisions about college during the school year, and that it’s pretty important that we tour a school where we might spend the next four years,” Arblaster said.

Many colleges also invite seniors to come back for different activities during the Fall to show them what campus life is really like. Seniors are invited to sit in on college classes, which can be important if a student is concerned about class size at larger colleges.

Visiting a college during the summer only shows students what the campus looks like, and not what it feels like. “I think visiting a college is important because we’re going to spend the next 4 years or more there, so it’s important to get a feel what the campus is like and what kind of education it provides,” Arblaster said.

Board policy 204 says “The board may excuse a student from school attendance to participate in an educational tour or trip not sponsored by the district,” but that “ the board may limit the number and durations of tours and trips for which excused absences may be granted to a student during the school term.”

While this is the board policy, it is based in Pa. School Code. This law was last reviewed in 2004, and it is time for it to be updated to reflect student needs.  Bottom line, the policy surrounding college visits and student absence is unfair to students. Seniors should not be charged absence days when they are trying to make informed decisions about their futures.

Uggs: hot or not?

By Stefanie Arblaster, website editor

It’s cold outside, and chances are you’re probably making some changes to your wardrobe. Whether it be sweaters or scarves, we all have some sort of attire we break out when the temperatures drop. And UGGs, the authentic Australian sheepskin boot, are seen on almost everyone during this time of year.  

UGGs were created by Australian surfer Brian Smith in 1978 and are made from sheepskin and suede, creating a comfortable, stylish boot that will keep your feet warm. On average,  the boots retail for around $200.

Sophomore Miquel Robison is an avid owner of UGGs. Between she and her four sisters, they’ve owned eight pairs. “My favorite pair definitely have to be my plain tan ones because I can wear them with almost anything,” said Robison.

Although these shoes are a classic for most people this season, they’ve caused some controversy throughout the years. In 2007, actress and model Pamela Anderson called for a boycott of the UGG boots because they’re made from sheepskin. Technically, sheepskin is a by-product of the brand, meaning that no sheep are killed during the production of UGGs and the amount of skin they use is limited. Senior and sheep herder Austin Brown confirmed this fact. “The meat is the most valuable part of the animal. The skin is just a by-product of the meat industry,” said Brown.

The brand keeps strict regulations on the suppliers they endorse to meet specific animal welfare policies and try to alleviate animal cruelty as much as possible. You can read their animal welfare faqs at ugg.com.

Senior Morgan Kightlinger is an advocate for animal welfare. After learning how the brand uses actual animal fur, she threw out her UGGS and purchased Bearpaws, a cheaper and more animal friendly alternative to UGGs. “I refused to have a pair (of UGGs). It makes me sad to really have anything with real animal fur,” said Kightlinger.

Rogue One soars into theaters

By Ben Haylett, broadcast director

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opened last weekend to earn $290 million worldwide, and deservedly so as this is a Star Wars movie to rival any of the original trilogy from the 1970s and 80s.

This latest installment in the ongoing Star Wars universe shows long time fans of the series how the Rebel Alliance acquired the secret plans for the Death Star, a plot point pivotal to the story of the first movie from 1977. Along for this action-packed ride are new characters like Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, the daughter of the man responsible for designing the plans for the Death Star, and Cassian Ando, played by Diego Luna, a Rebel pilot who accompanies Jyn on her mission to find her father. Other big name actors such as Forest Whitaker and Alan Tudyk grace the screen with their true to life performances that never waves for a minute.

Special effects have always been a staple of the Star Wars films, and “Rogue One” is no exception. At no point does low quality CGI take the viewer out of the moment of the film, and a mix of practical effect and CGI adds a realistic basis for viewers to conceptualize the vast expanse of the creatures and machines depicted in the film. Most stunning of all was the use of CGI to bring the character of Grand Moff Tarkin, originally played by Peter Cushing, back into the Star Wars universe as a main character, even though Peter Cushing died in 1994. Using extensive facial tracking, the filmmakers modelled an intensely realistic model of Cushing’s face and applied it to his replacement actor’s face to give a true to life performance from a deceased actor. The same technology is used to make Princess Leia look as she did in 1977, but to a lesser degree, as she is in the film much less.

Overall, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is an excellent film and perfect for a movie night out with the family. For old and new fans of the Star Wars movies, this movie is a must see this Christmas season.

Trump teetering at the polls

By Kaitlyn Walsh, features editor

After the second debate, America is coming closer to THE decision: Who will be our next President? After last Sunday’s Presidential Debate, the public has credited Donald Trump to be more professional and presidential than in the first debate, but Hillary Clinton is still projected to win based on a CNN poll.

As of today, Clinton is still winning by eight points. Donald Trump is starting to fall behind due to his comments towards women during an Access Hollywood  interview from 2005 between him and Billy Bush while his microphone was still on. His comments range from “Grab her by the p****”, and “When you’re a star, they [women] let you do it. You can do anything.”

Due to Trump’s comments, some of the republican leadership pulled their endorsements of Trump. Notables figures who no longer support Trump include Senator and 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain, California Governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Some party heads even called for Trump’s dismissal. South Dakota Senator John Thune said, “Donald Trump should withdraw and Mike Pence should be our nominee effective immediately.”

In light of these accusations, Melania Trump broke her silence Monday night during an interview with Anderson Cooper, stating that the women coming forward about her husband sexually assaulting them are lying, or that they are a part of the Democratic Party trying to bring down his campaign.

“This was all organized from the opposition. And with the details – did they [democrats] ever check the background of these women?” said Melania. “They don’t have any facts.”

Donald Trump also claims that the election is rigged against him, which he boasted on Twitter and during a rally in Wisconsin. “Remember, we are competing in a rigged election,” said Trump Monday night. “They [election officials] even want to try and rig the election at the polling booths, where so many cities are corrupt and voter fraud is all too common.

However, these claims of voter fraud are questionable. Election officials in ten states, including Missouri, New York, Delaware, New Mexico, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island Oklahoma, and Washington released their voter statistics from 2008 and 2012 to ABC News, where voter fraud incidents were only less than five out of thousands and sometimes millions of people.

After the third debate Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of the final battle between the two candidates by a thirteen point margin according to a CNN poll. This win gives her a sweep of all three debates. However, 54 percent of people who watched the debate said it would have no effect on their election day vote. America will make its final decision Nov. 8.

 

Kicking senioritis to the curb

By Sydney Kightlinger, editor in chief and senioritis crusader  

Any senior who tells you that they aren’t suffering from a case of “senioritis” is lying to you and probably themselves. Even the most dedicated and driven students are susceptible to the virus. And it is understandable. Most seniors only have two or three credits keeping them from graduation, so electives are finally prevalent in their schedules.

In theory, senior year is a cakewalk, but in reality, it’s like trying to dance after you’ve been sitting on your legs for three hours. It’s hard because you were lazy.

However, there is a way to combat the sloth!

  1. Get a Job

It is always tempting to go home after school, curl up on the couch, and watch a little Netflix. But when one episode becomes a season, you are getting into murky territory. If you are watching multiple hours of Netflix without a qualm, you have a touch of senioritis. This is one of the first symptoms.  

A little structure to your afternoons makes a world of difference. It gives you a sense of purpose, and some spending money (and, something to add to your resume).

  1. Assign yourself assignments

Adults love harping on us to keep a planner because they work. “I don’t need to write that down. I will remember to do that tonight” are words frequently followed by missing assignments and dropping GPAs. When seniors utter this cursed phrase, they  are earnest, but at 6:30 p.m. they gravitate more towards Netflix than thirty-one calculus problems. Miraculously, the next day as we waltz into class, our memories are jogged, but it is too late. Our GPAs will rest in peace.

Now if we would just write down the assignments to begin with,  there is a better chance we won’t bury ourselves so deep in late work that we can’t see our goals anymore.

  1. Keep your goals in mind

Sports? Check. Community Service? Check. Good Grades? Check.

At times, high school feels like a four-year audition. But when  we have checked all the boxes on the college applications and can see the light at the end of the tunnel as the acceptance letters roll in, that is when we are most susceptible to the senioritis virus.

Colleges still care about what you are doing after they say yes. They don’t want bums. A lot of schools require you to send your transcripts every grading period to ensure you are still on track. And there can even be money awarded for not “burning it down” from the day after senior project night to graduation. So keep in mind that while we’ve finally made it to the end, it is really just the beginning of our real lives.

All in all, as seniors we have our entire lives ahead of us. High School is the shortest four years of our lives, even if it seems like the longest right now. We need to be examples for the underclassmen. Our legacy shouldn’t be that we “gave zero cares” as we burned it down. It should be that we worked diligently to the end. That doesn’t mean we can’t watch netflix. We just have to learn moderation because the countdown to adulting is on.