Conant Crier The student-run news site of Conant High School Fri, 13 Nov 2020 18:12:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Conant Crier 32 32 Should teenagers be allowed to vote? Mon, 16 Nov 2020 17:00:34 +0000 Amelie Pineda

As 2020 is quickly coming to a close, we have not only had a crazy year, but additionally have seen an intense election season. This has made me question, should the voting age be lowered? I questioned this because of the intense nature of this election season and how many young people went out and voted. Many over the age of eighteen may disagree with this notion, as they can vote. As high school students, however, we may have a different opinion because our thoughts aren’t able to be heard. 

Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, one thing most underage voters might be able to agree on is that our voices want to be heard and understood. With social media becoming more relevant in all of our lives, it’s made political research and opinions more accessible. 

Due to this, younger generations have become more politically aware and educated than the prior due to a flow of information via the internet or social media. Furthermore, over 100 Conant students were election judges this year, proving that teenagers are interested in politics. 

When a teenager turns eighteen they’re able to vote, which portrays the message that the age carries more maturity in and of itself. Is it possible that people under the age of eighteen have intelligent thoughts? Yes, yes it is. These young minds constantly prove themselves worthy of a vote. 

Regardless of what some adults may think, many teenagers have very strong political opinions. Many of these opinions purposefully involve situations that directly affect their lives currently or will in the future. In reality, it doesn’t seem fair that someone so close to turning eighteen has to sit back and watch decisions being made by people who might not have the younger generations’ best interests at heart. 

The National Youth Rights Association states, “A study of 16- and 17-year-old Americans showed that they are “generally indistinguishable in their capacities to function as citizens and to vote responsibly from the youngest adults (18-year-olds) who are entitled to vote…[and] that to deny 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote is arbitrary.’” If the difference between 17 and 18 is arbitrary, there’s no reason to cut off seniors who just haven’t had their birthday yet. 

Personally, I turned eighteen the day after Election Day and felt it was unfair for me to not be able to vote so close to the election. I think if you turn eighteen within the months of the inauguration you should be able to vote. 

Within those few months between Election Day and Inauguration Day, political beliefs aren’t bound to change, and if they do, that just wouldn’t affect teenagers; adults could experience that as well. However, many still would argue that teenagers aren’t mature enough to be able to vote, yet, fifteen and sixteen-year-olds are trusted to drive a car, work a job, and contribute to a community they don’t have a vote in. 

The current election is posing many different questions about policies. One decision currently being discussed is college tuition. Why shouldn’t the teenagers, who are about to be burdened with college tuition and debt, be able to vote in order to help with that burden a candidate may want to change? Many seventeen-year-olds have strong opinions on this issue, because it’s something that’s going to directly affect them, but were unable to vote this year. 

Being a teenager is filled with many burdens, and we should be able to relieve some of those, such as college debt, with the ability to exercise the right to vote. No matter what side of an issue you’re on, it’s important to make our young voices heard in every way possible, considering we’re unable to vote. It’s important to stay educated and involved in order to fight for what you believe in, even if you can’t vote.

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The pandemic is worsening our mental health Fri, 13 Nov 2020 17:00:26 +0000

Research shows that the pandemic is taking a toll on everyone’s mental health.

Ever since Gov. Pritzker announced “quarantine” on March 20th, we have become familiar with the feeling of being trapped in our own homes. That was 7 months ago.

Are you the same person you were back in March? Chances are this pandemic has impacted all of us in ways we couldn’t anticipate at the time, and the effects are worse than expected.

Since this pandemic will likely leave a lasting effect on us psychologically, researchers have begun to conduct studies on what the effects of the pandemic may be. Even though the pandemic has been going on for less than a year, these researchers have already found alarming changes in human psychology as a result of the pandemic.

For many, stress may be the main contributing factor towards these changes in human psychology. For all high school students, there will always be the stress of performing well in your classes or getting the score you want on a test. However, with the pandemic, there are other stressors on our mind such as a parent losing a job or learning remotely for school.

These drastic changes in stress levels are bound to impact teenagers more (or less) than others. According to a survey conducted by Psychologist Sam Dekin, over 50% of the teenagers that took the survey said that they were experiencing high anxiety and 43% said that they were dealing with depression as a result of the pandemic.

Normal stress combined with pandemic-related stress is bound to push the limits of what we can handle mentally. That is why if we don’t manage to control it, there will be negative effects that will permanently affect us as people.

Neuroscientist Bruce S. McEwen studied the impact of stress on the brain and discovered that stress has a negative effect on brain development for people under 25 by permanently altering connections to the brain.

When these connections are altered, it will cause a person’s overall behavior to change. Some of these changes include having trouble focusing in school and recalling memories. These effects may even become permanent because of the mounting stress caused by these uncertain circumstances.

In a study on the short and long-term effects of poor mental health conducted by PsychGuides, these effects can vary from distancing yourself from those closest to you to abrupt changes in mood. While these effects may not seem all that alarming, they could spiral into very grave conditions such as depression.

In the future, this might evolve into a larger issue if we don’t start using coping strategies that can relieve this stress. Luckily, there are ways that we can prevent these short term effects from leading into something more dire.

Some coping strategies that the staff from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found helpful include doing something you love, such as unwinding with a good book or watching TV.

You could also talk to a trained professional or get help from a trusted adult. Some of the helpful resources that we offer here at Conant include meeting with a counselor, joining student support groups, or meeting with a social worker. If you are struggling during this time, remember that you are not alone. That is why we all must trudge through this together, because it is the only way that we’ll get through this.

Despite what some may believe, the negative effects the pandemic has on us will continue to impact us even when the pandemic is over. Not everyone is in the same boat, so one can’t assume that everyone will come out of this pandemic with the same mental health they had going into it. If we don’t accept this, then we would just be lying to ourselves.

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New Teacher Spotlight: Matthew Sutherland Fri, 13 Nov 2020 07:00:47 +0000 This school year, Conant has nine new teachers. Seeing as most students won’t be introduced to them in the typical way, the Crier is providing short features on each. Today, the Crier would like to introduce Matthew Sutherland from the Math department.

Kana Nagoya | Conant Crier

Crier: Do you have any hobbies?

Sutherland: My hobby is being active and doing something outdoors. I’m a big sports fan, and when I was in college a couple years ago, I played football and baseball. Even back in high school, I played football, basketball, and baseball.

Crier: Have you won any prizes for sports during high school or college?

Sutherland: In college, we went to the baseball college world series and finished in third place. For football, we made the division three playoffs three out of four years.

Crier: It seems like you really love sports, but why did you become a math teacher?

Sutherland: People who know me always assume that I was influenced by my mom and my dad who were teachers. However, the teachers that I had at my high school were the people who really made me the person I am now. They had that influence on me that made me enjoy coming to school and talking to them. They gave me the positive experience that every high schooler deserves and became a role model for me. I think it’s important that every student has someone to look up to besides their parents. I wanted to have that opportunity to be a role model for high schoolers and make their long high school days a little less long and more fun.

Crier: Why did you specifically choose to teach math?

Sutherland: That’s because math is awesome and I love teaching math. I understand that math is sometimes annoying, but it’s similar to what life is like. Sometimes it’s going really well and sometimes it’s bad. Kids in math classes get disappointed when they can’t solve the problems, but later get satisfied when they understand them. I think that when I help those kids make that antipathy a little bit more positive, they will get hope and be able to think they could turn things around even if they struggle with life.

Crier: You mentioned how some students have a negative attitude towards math. What about math would appeal to them and why do you think students should learn math?

Sutherland: The fun part about math is that students can learn so many valuable skills in a collaborative environment. Unlike when students write their own papers in English, they communicate with a partner and develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills in math. They can also bring home that knowledge and tell their parents what they’ve learned or apply the concept to the actual world. Students can prepare the skills they need for their future life or career through math classes and that’s what makes math special. It’s hard for students to understand that right now, but once they’re done with math, I hope they understand that. Also, the fact that there are many different ways to solve problems and you can be satisfied after solving those problems is another fun part of math.

Crier: What is one thing that you keep in mind when teaching students?

Sutherland: I try to think from the students’ perspective. I ask myself what the students are thinking, what I would be doing if I were them, and how I would want my teacher to be if I was in class. This allows me to think about the best way I can teach them and change up my teaching method when needed. Especially for freshmen, they’ve just started discovering how to learn using their iPad all at home where teachers are not there to help them right away. Just knowing how overwhelming that is, I try to be understanding of them.

Crier: If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?

Sutherland: When I went to college, I didn’t know the specific subject but I was pretty set early on that I wanted to teach. However, if I weren’t a teacher, I would do any job that would help people. Examples could be like a social worker who helps people get out of tough situations. I’m satisfied with teaching though. As long as I’m helping people, that’s the job that I want.

Crier: Is there something that you’ve regretted through your high school experience? Do you have any advice for the students?

Sutherland: I wouldn’t say I regret anything from high school. I think everything that occurs in life happens for a reason. The advice I would give for students is don’t leave room for regret in high school. Go out and participate and get involved in school. There’s so many clubs, sports, and groups that you can be a part of that will help you connect more with the school community. There’s always a role for everybody. If you have that opportunity to participate, you have to do that to have a great experience in high school. I tried to get involved as much as I could in high school and had a great time. Also, always give your best regardless if it’s something you know that things will go bad. If you try your best, you’ll have no regrets.

Crier: Do you have any messages for the students?

Sutherland: I would say try your best. I know that the situation right now is not the most ideal, but it will get better. Stay positive, don’t be afraid to ask for help right now, and reach out to your teachers, parents, and friends. We’re all in this together. Also, try your best to persevere because we will get back into school one day and return back to normal. If you can get through this time, you can get through anything.

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Conant alum receives 2020 Hometown Hero award Wed, 11 Nov 2020 21:59:03 +0000
Aguilar celebrates her new citizenship
Photos provided by Val Aguilar
Aguilar takes an oath and is officially an American citizen

Conant alum Val Aguilar has been named Conant’s 2020 Hometown Hero. Created in 2014 by now-retired US History teacher Frank Kernats, the Hometown Hero award annually recognizes the service and sacrifice of veterans in the Conant community.

Committee member and social studies teacher Andrew Mikrut said, “The committee chose Val because we wanted to recognize a former CHS student and a person who sacrificed her time, effort, and energy in the service to our country.”

During her junior year of high school, Aguilar made the decision to serve in the military. “My dad was in the army. He was in the special forces, and I wanted to follow his legacy,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar’s father insisted that she join the Air Force because it fit her interest in aerospace engineering. After meeting with multiple recruiters, Aguilar learned that she was ineligible to participate in the Air Force Academy and Air Force ROTC because she wasn’t a US citizen at the time.

Determined to serve her country, she joined the National Guard, and she hopes to continue her career in the National Guard and become an officer in the Air Force after earning her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.

Born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, Aguilar moved to San Jose, Costa Rica at the age of fourteen and later to Schaumburg when she was sixteen. Aguilar struggled with the language and cultural barriers when she moved to the US.

Despite these obstacles, she chose to embrace her new life by getting involved in numerous activities and sports and taking challenging classes. “I realized that I didn’t care if I messed up a verb tense or maybe I said something in past simple instead of future tense. At the end of the day, friends were always there to maybe laugh a little but always correct me and make me better!”

Most of Aguilar’s family remains in Colombia, but she was able to make a new family at Conant. She stated that she struggled transitioning to college. “Conant was my family for a long time, but when you go to a college as big as Purdue, you realize that you don’t have your family anymore.”

Joining the National Guard at Purdue gave Aguilar another new family, something she is grateful for. “I was just given this family and then they were like, ‘Go figure it out. You guys are in this dorm for two months. Tell your stories, try to work as a team, and work together.’ One of the best things that the military could have ever given me is just a family that I can always rely on.”

Although she faced many struggles, Aguilar learned to turn her obstacles into opportunities. She encourages Conant students to do the same during this time.

“We can’t be looking at obstacles as a setback; we should be thinking of them as a set up. I think of every day as an opportunity for you to grow, an opportunity for you to change whatever’s not going right in your life. At the end of the day, you just want to make the best version of yourself because you shouldn’t be living at anybody’s standards.”

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‘Clouds’ is authentic and bittersweet Sun, 08 Nov 2020 17:00:43 +0000
Movie poster under Fair Use

Zach Sobiech was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, at the age of 14. By the time he turned 17, he had undergone 20 rounds of chemotherapy. When doctors told him his cancer was no longer treatable, Sobiech was determined to make the most of his senior year and uploaded his song “Clouds” with childhood friend Sammy Brown on YouTube. 

It became a viral hit. 

Named after the hit song, “Clouds” tells the story of Zach Sobiech’s (Fin Argus) last months and the cast did an amazing job portraying the story, making the movie authentic and bittersweet. 

Director Justin Baldoni first met Sobiech when directing his episode of the YouTube series “My Last Days.” After growing close to Sobiech and his family, Baldoni promised to continue to tell Sobiech’s story after his passing. Keeping his promise, Baldoni directed and produced “Clouds”, staying true to Sobiech’s life by keeping his loved ones involved and successfully capturing Sobiech’s essence. 

As Baldoni promised, the movie successfully told Sobiech’s story. Argus played Sobiech so well that friends and family visiting the set believed they saw Sobiech again. Childhood friend Mitch Kluesner said, “He looked so much like Zach, which made it feel like I had unexpectedly run into someone I hadn’t seen in a while. Then when he started talking, it’s like “Of course it’s Fin,” and I snapped out of it, but it was a bit jolting.” 

Through Sobiech’s story, we realize the need to live life to the fullest. We don’t realize how precious and short life truly is. We always take tomorrow for granted, something the movie addresses by quoting Sobiech himself. Sobiech said, “Most teenagers out there feel like they’re invincible. Not the Superman kind of invincible that tricks you into thinking tomorrow might be a better day to start chasing your dreams.” 

The movie included many aspects of Sobiech’s life. The bedroom set was based on Sobiech’s real bedroom and Argus used Sobiech’s crutches. Around 70 of Sobiech’s friends and family made cameos in the movie. The amount of work put into incorporating Sobiech’s own life into the movie showed how powerful Sobiech’s story was to the director. This, in turn, made the movie more authentic as it showed that Sobiech made an impact on everyone working on the movie.

While the movie is named after Sobiech’s hit song, many of Sobiech and Brown’s (Sabrina Carpenter) songs were included. Argus and Carpenter were able to show the context and true feelings behind “Fix Me Up”, the first song they wrote together. 

Hearing the pain in Carpenter’s voice, viewers sympathize with Brown as she watches her best friend fall in love with someone else as she sings, “Smile with me and cry with me/I won’t ever tell a soul/Hold my hand/I’ll squeeze it back/And I’ll never let go” (“Fix Me Up”, A Firm Handshake). 

Bittersweet and inspirational, “Clouds” successfully accomplished its goal of telling Sobiech’s story. In fact, “Clouds” hit the top of the iTunes chart for the second time on Sunday, October 18, over seven years after Sobiech’s death. The song hit the top for the first shortly after Sobiech’s death. 

The profits from the downloads go directly to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund, which funds research for better treatments for this cancer. Receiving positive reviews from Common Sense Media and The New York Times, the movie resonated with viewers and accomplished what Baldoni and Sobiech hoped. 

Sobiech stated, “I hope my story makes everyone realize that you don’t have to find out you are dying to start living.”

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Conant Theatre hosts red carpet premiere for musical ‘Freaky Friday’ Sat, 07 Nov 2020 21:54:29 +0000

On Nov 5, Conant Theatre virtually premiered their filmed fall musical, “Freaky Friday.” To complement the movie-esque vibe of this year’s production, Conant Theatre hosted a red carpet celebration at the school in which actors and crew members dressed up and walked the red carpet like movie stars. Here are some of the highlights from our exclusive interviews on premiere night.

How has this year’s production compared to years past?

It’s very different to say the least. People were really nervous with hybrid learning starting up and a possible spike in cases. Really it has just been a whole lot of nerves consistently throughout the whole thing, which isn’t a whole lot different from theatre in the past. Johanna Selmeczy, ‘22

It’s been more of a challenge but it’s also been more fun because we get more than one chance to get it right. Charles (Charlie) Holcomb, ‘21

What’s your favorite memory from this year’s production?

I loved filming one of the scenes in the rain. It was so much fun! Chloe Venner, ‘23

When things went wrong, we just laughed at each other. It was very therapeutic instead of freaking out about little things. Julia Gielczynski, ‘21

I think the most satisfying part was seeing the final product and seeing everything come together. Cleo Franklin, ‘21

How has theatre impacted you?

Way too much. I didn’t really call myself a theatre kid, but it’s helped me realize I want to do acting later in life. Charles (Charlie) Holcomb, ‘21.

I made so many friends from theatre. Like I didn’t know Adya before theatre and now she’s one of my closest friends.” Ain-hi Phan, ‘21

We just found a second home. Adya Verma, ‘21

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A breakdown of the electoral college Fri, 06 Nov 2020 19:06:23 +0000

On November 3, 2020, millions of Americans across the country voted for the next president. It is now November 6, and no news source has projected a winner. As people around the world anxiously await the results, many have become curious about the election process. I sat down with AP Macroeconomics and AP Government and Politics teacher Jeffrey Stewart to clarify the election process and the role of the electoral college. Below is a transcript of my interview, edited for length and clarity. 

Diya Thomas: So as we know, the election is going on right now and people are anxiously waiting for the results. And so we at the Crier wanted to do an article about the electoral college. Like, you know, how it works, what is it, and what its role is? My first question is: what is the electoral college?

Jeff Stewart: The electoral college is how we elect the president of the United States. Alexander Hamilton was the primary author of the portion on the electoral college, and what it did was it sought for a mechanism to elect the president. And it’s really one of those Hamiltonian-Jeffersonian debates. On one hand, you have Hamilton’s belief that there should be a professional class of people that make choices. And on the other hand, you had Jefferson’s position that the typical yeoman farmers should be able to make their own decisions. The electoral college is a great example of how Hamilton would want that view played out.

So the electoral college has changed over time. But really you’ve got to think about 1789 after the constitution is ratified. I mean, I would imagine that the typical person in, say, South Carolina knew who George Washington was or a typical person in New Hampshire knew who George Washington was. But does a typical person in South Carolina know who John Adams is? Regionally, you would know who he was. He was from Massachusetts, but, you know, information at that time is so different. So that’s why the electoral college was designed so that that person in South Carolina could choose somebody to choose the president on their behalf. 

If you think about what the electoral college does now, it awards votes for president based on the numbers of senators and representatives your state has. So if you think about it, and then you go back and you look in the Constitution, you say there’s the three-fifths compromise, right? Each slave was counted as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of representation, right? So that means that in 1789, states like Virginia, South Carolina- they had more electoral votes because they had more slaves. The slavery legacy was part of that mechanism to elect the president. I mean, we do it differently now with 48 states and the district of Columbia, [who] vote with the winner takes all systems. And there’s the way Nebraska and Maine award their votes. Under their state law, they award it proportionally. So if you win the state’s popular vote, you get to have two of their electors. Then they award the rest of their electoral votes based on the population in the congressional districts. 

Diya Thomas: So you mentioned that there are actual voters in the electoral college. Who gets chosen to vote? How’s that decided?

Jeff Stewart: So the electors cannot be officeholders, and because we do it in this way where there’s a Democratic slate and a Republican slate, the position will usually go to party loyalists. So you have to name these people in advance. Those electors are supposed to go vote for you. In some states, the electors can vote for whoever they want. In other states, there’s actually a law that says that they’re bound to vote for that candidate that they’re supposed to vote for. And they would actually be punished if they do not do that. In the 2016 election, there were seven “faithless electors.” There were seven electors that instead of voting for who they were supposed to do, they voted for somebody else, and you can do that. So you can vote for whoever you want. 

Diya Thomas: So then to determine the outcome of the election, like who wins the presidency, is that solely based on basically the electoral college?

Jeff Stewart: Yes. Americans cast their vote, and then it gets counted, and you have this election. And it wouldn’t surprise me if this weekend the media reports a winner, but that’s the media. That’s not an official count. And that’s part of what citizens should be able to understand. And at some point in the American tradition–and this isn’t just for president, this is for all races–the loser concedes the election. It’s kind of like the expression “the majority gets to govern based on the consent of the minority.” And so you can look at examples. Look at George H.W. Bush. In 1992, he graciously accepted the election, the loss. And I believe you look at his quote, he said, “We all need to get behind this president.” In 2000, it was very intense in the state of Florida. But in the end, Al Gore said, “I don’t agree with what the Supreme court did. However, I accept it.” And that’s an American tradition that helps the nation heal and move forward. So you would hope that all candidates for office would do that.

Diya Thomas: So whatever is shown on the news, they’re just projections; they’re not the 100% actual results, correct?

Jeff Stewart: Correct. Yeah, they’re just reporting what they see. I mean, you can go online and look at the Illinois election results page; you can go and look and see it all. That’s where [news sources] are getting their information. When the state election boards, when they get this information, they will obviously post it publicly somewhere, but they probably also, I don’t know this for sure, but they probably, you know, send it to the major media outlets.

Diya Thomas: Then why do some sources say something different, like with their projections? So AP called Arizona for Biden, but then CNN still hasn’t called it.

Jeff Stewart: You’re talking about journalism for that. So now that’s a separate story. So if you want to talk about journalism, it’s really interesting because you have journalists, but you also have the corporation. The journalists have jobs because their media outlet is a business. They’ve got to make money. So how do you make money in journalism? You have to, you know, you got to get the scoop, right? You gotta be first to it. You gotta have the story and you’ve gotta attract viewers or readers to your outlet. And so some of it is competitive just in that regard. They want to be the first ones to say that they did it. Usually, the Associated Press is seen as your most accepted media outlet for these things. And there was a story last week and on NPR, where they interviewed the guy for the Associated Press who’s responsible for releasing these things. And he talked about all these different metrics that they use to determine when and why they will say they’ll go public with a winner. So AP is commonly seen as this middle ground. You know, they just report the news, and they don’t have a particular bias one way or the other. And that’s why most Americans seem to accept that. But when Fox did it, or CNN does this, or NBC does that? Now you’re talking journalism, and they’ve made mistakes. I mean, I remember watching in 2000 in Florida, when they got it wrong and they announced the winner, and then they had to pull it back. That is bad journalism. You don’t want to have to retract a story or something like that. So it just made them look bad. And that’s why you want to make sure you get it right.

Diya Thomas: Okay. Almost done. This is, I think a little bit more of an opinion, but is the electoral college necessary, and what would happen if we got rid of it?

Jeff Stewart: I started talking about this four years ago. The electoral college is like the rules of the game, you know what I mean? It’s like when you play a game, you play by the rules. And so when you run for president, you run under the rules of the electoral college. To explain this from four years ago, people didn’t like that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Donald Trump won the presidency through the electoral college. Donald Trump’s objective is not to win the popular vote. Your objective is to win the presidency, and you might not like the electoral college. But that’s the rules of the game. And the other thing is there’ve been 58 presidential elections, and the popular vote and the electoral college vote have not aligned up only five times. So if you look at the electoral college from that perspective, you would say that it’s performed pretty well. That’s another thing that the media looks at. The fact that any media outlet says, ‘Oh yeah, here are the popular election results.’ Well, why are you posting that? That’s not how you win the presidency, but you’re posting it as a talking point. 

The other problem is how are you going to change it? Obviously, an amendment to the constitution is difficult to make. It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult. And if you look at population trends in this country, you’re going to see that the electoral college will favor the Republican candidate more so than the Democratic candidate in the future. So I don’t necessarily see if there would be broad support nationally for moving to a popular vote, if that is the case, but that’s obviously the most popular plan. 

Well, why don’t we just do a popular vote? Okay. There’s something called the popular vote interstate compact. And it says that any state that does this, they will award all of their electoral votes to that candidate that wins the national popular vote. Okay. So think about that. And if that actually goes forward, the number of states that you would need to sign on to that would just have to equal 270 electoral votes. So it becomes probably a more plausible avenue for changing the electoral college.

Diya Thomas: Okay. So last question. All the news outlets, they’ll give their projections this weekend, maybe even earlier. Is there a chance that they can be wrong?

Jeff Stewart: Yes. I mean, the electoral voting takes place on December 15, and if you’re talking about when the electoral votes are actually cast, it’s January 6. Mike Pence will be responsible for officially counting the votes because he is vice president and the president of the Senate. The only concern would be about those faithless electors–do people show up and vote for somebody different?

And it isn’t necessarily about voting for somebody different. In 2000, Al Gore lost an elector because the elector chose to abstain from voting in a matter of protests as to what happened in Florida. Personally, a faithless elector is dangerous. I mean, that’s not what the citizens in the state voted for. They didn’t vote for you to go vote for whoever you wanted. They voted for you because they thought you were going to go vote for the candidate. 

Diya Thomas: I think that those are all the questions I have about the electoral college. I think that makes a lot more sense now. Thank you for sitting down with me and explaining this whole process.

Jeff Stewart: No problem.

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New Teacher Spotlight: Iris Marji Fri, 06 Nov 2020 17:00:43 +0000 This school year, Conant has nine new teachers. Seeing as most students won’t be introduced to them in the typical way, the Crier is providing short features on each. Today, the Crier would like to introduce Iris Marji from the ESL department.

Kana Nagoya | Conant Crier

Crier: Do you have any hobbies?

Marji: I love running and cycling. I got into duathlons about three years ago and started developing myself as a runner. For short distance running, I run about 10K, and for cycling, the most I’ve cycled is about 80 miles in one day. I’m trying to become more of an endurance cyclist right now.

Crier: Have you participated in any tournaments?

Marji: I competed in the 2019 ITU World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain in the Sprint Duathlon (5k run – 20k cycle – 2.5k run). I am registered to compete in the 2021 ITU World Championships in the Netherlands next September in the Standard Duathlon (10k run – 40k cycle – 5k run).

Crier: Do you cycle on the weekends?

Marji: Yes. I am part of a group that meets here in Hoffman Estates. We cycle in Barrington Hills, Geneva, or Kenosha. I joined them this summer, so I am still new to the group. Before that, I used to do a lot of cycling and running in Kenya, where I lived for some time.

Crier: Which countries have you lived in before?

Marji: I was born and raised in Chicago and spent most of my childhood in the north side of Chicago. Once I got married and had my son, we went to Sudan, and lived there for seven years. Then, I moved to Kenya and lived there for about six years. After those 13 years, I came back to the USA less than two years ago.

Crier: Why did you become an ESL teacher?

Marji: After graduating from UIC, I knew that I would like to go for my master’s degree in teaching English as a second language, mostly because of my upbringing. I am a second generation child from both sides of my family; my mother is Filipina, and my father is Mexican. I grew up bicultural, so I felt mostly connected to those students who are coming newly into the country. I also wanted to use my degree to help others in foreign countries.

Crier: What is one thing that you keep in mind when teaching students?

Marji: I keep in mind that students are going to get better. When teaching ESL, language is a barrier in learning so you have to take it one day at a time. When you’re patient and loving and understanding, you just need to have the end result in mind that this student will improve and develop as time goes on. I feel that keeping that hope in mind keeps me and the students motivated.

Crier: When teaching students, what moments make you happy?

Marji: I am most happy when I see my students achieving more than they’ve ever imagined. In Kenya I had a student who had amazing writing skills from the very beginning. He always brought his writing to life, so I once told him that he might become a great writer. Many years later, I got an email from him, asking me to read the first chapter of his book. It was so encouraging, and I think these happen when teachers believe in the students that they can be more, despite their family life, economic situation, or language barriers.

Crier: If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?

Marji: I would be an interior designer. I love working with small spaces and creating life into something that was dark and squeezed. When I was in Kenya, I had a very small ESL classroom, and I loved decorating it. I’ve also designed a Montessori School in Sudan and had a cafe at a doughnut shop in Kenya.

Crier: What is something that you’ve regretted through your high school experience? Do you have any advice for students?

Marji: I regret that I came into high school being someone that I was not. I wanted to fit in with others, and I’ve done many wrong things. At the end, I realized that none of my friends actually cared about me. I fell under a lot of peer pressure. With that, I would advise students to stay true to themselves. You need to focus on yourself.

Crier: Do you have any messages for the students?

Marji: I would tell students to get out more. Go run, go ride your bike, and stay away from the computer when you can. Go see your friends, join a club, and come to school. We’d love to see you.

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Why going back to in-person learning is a bad idea Fri, 06 Nov 2020 13:50:35 +0000
Amelia Pineda

On Saturday, September 25, a group of about 50 students and parents were on a mission. Gathered at Schaumburg Town Square, they rallied for all District 54 and District 211 students to go back to in-person school, claiming that virtual learning damages students’ mental health.

Well, they’re wrong. 

Despite the fact that we’ve already begun the transition back to a new normal, it is not time for us all to start packing our bags and heading back full-time just yet. 

On October 26, District 211 started sending students back to school in a hybrid model as Illinois implemented Tier I restrictions on Wednesday, October 28, which is the last and least restrictive set of mitigations set by the State of Illinois. Students are divided into two groups to limit the number of people in the building and maintain a 6-feet distance, as required by the Illinois Department of Public Health school safety guidance.

Despite this being the best plan possible in this situation, it is not yet time to go back.

As of November 2, Illinois had the fourth highest amount of total COVID-19 cases out of all 50 states, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 can easily spread in small, crowded places, such as hallways and classrooms. Social distancing guidelines will be in place, but it will be difficult to maintain them in small classrooms. 

At this point in time, if we go back to school in any sort of model, it is possible a student or faculty member will contract the virus. We shouldn’t endanger anyone’s safety just to go back to school. Even if someone contracts the virus, they could be asymptomatic and unknowingly bring it home to a vulnerable or immunocompromised relative, who are at higher risk for severe symptoms. The risk is too high.

With all these risks, is it even worth going back? It will be a struggle for teachers to teach in-person and remote students at the same time. Neither group will receive a quality education because teachers won’t be able to give large amounts of attention to both groups. 

Instead, valuable class time will be wasted catching up both groups and dealing with technical difficulties. Communicating to both groups of students will be difficult. For example, teachers will have to make sure that both groups can view a video and that everyone can participate in a class discussion. An environment like this isn’t best for anybody’s education or profession.

Despite what many believe, in-person learning won’t help our mental health. We won’t be able to speak to our friends in a close face to face setting because it’s against social distancing regulations. It is hard to say whatever you want to your best friend when you’re six feet apart. There will be no more real cafeteria conversations with all of your friends huddled together, no more catching up in the hallway, and no more gossip sessions in gym. 

We’ve been lacking real human connection since March, but school is not the place to socialize. If it is really necessary to see your friends, do it safely outside of school, but avoid it if you can. 

For now, District 211 is sending students back to school, with all safety precautions in place. However, overall the risks outweigh the benefits of going back to school in any sort of way. There is too much of a health risk and too little social and educational benefits to go back to school. One day, we’ll reach a point where we can all safely return, but today is not that day.

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Crier staff plays ‘Among Us’ in this explainer video Fri, 06 Nov 2020 09:00:13 +0000
Neela Gilbert

“Among Us” is an online multiplayer game that has recently regained popularity. Originally released in 2018, “Among Us” is a game where players complete tasks as crewmates or kill others as an imposter. A few members of The Crier decided to play together to find out who is the best imposter among us.

Video made by Ian Chang

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