DON’T PRESS PLAY: Netflix Original 13 Reasons Why causes controversy among students and parents

By Kiera Doran and Yamha Sami | Staff Writers

Photo by Yamha Sami

Edited by Riley Johansen

Eighth graders Nick Anderson and Ayesha Chaudhry recreate the cover picture for Netflix Original 13 Reasons Why

Thirteen tapes. A map. And the whole student body wondering, what happened to Hannah Baker?

The tragic consequences of hurtful words is the theme of 13 Reasons Why, a novel written by Jay Asher. This book, released in 2007, recently turned into a Netflix original show, and has rapidly become one of the most watched shows by teenagers. It’s about high school student Hannah Baker who commits suicide, and leaves behind nothing but a map and 13 tapes. In each of the tapes, she talks about one reason why she took her life. The tapes are sent to the 13 people that played a part in her rationale behind committing suicide, and gave main character Clay Jensen a new perspective on life.

 

The show, rated TV-MA for adult material such as crude language, graphic violence, and sexual content, has caused controversy over its handling of sensitive topics such as suicide and teenage rape. As a result, Public Information Officer Tracey Carson sent an email to all the parents in the district about it. The email contained a warning about the intensity of the show, how it can affect kids, and resources about suicide prevention. Despite the show’s intended adult audiences, it has quickly become popular with teens.

Eighth grader Ayesha Chaudhry said the positive messages are definitely worth giving the show a try.

“A positive message the show gives is it really enables people to think twice about actions they implement in school and other places with their friends,” said Chaudhry. “Because people in middle school, especially adolescents, tend not to think about what they’re saying to other people before they say it. It’s a very pre-school fundamental; if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it all.”

Eighth grader Nick Anderson said the show is realistic and explains how it relates to teen life today.

“I liked the show because of how realistic it is and how many plot twists there are,” Anderson said. “How it captured what teen life is really like, and it’s not like a sitcom, [in sitcoms] it’s just the stereotypes, [in 13 Reasons Why, the show is] more detailed, it’s more true to teenager’s lives.”

Eighth grade language arts teacher Roni Carpenter has mixed feelings about the book. While she understood the positive outreach it gave to kids, one thing that got to her was how unrealistic the suicide was presented.

“I read it right after it came out and I thought it was very innovative at the time,” Carpenter said. “But it also bothered me to see suicide as some kind of revenge [and it] doesn’t seem realistic to me.”

Carpenter would know herself, as she has experienced a suicide in her family.

“Someone in my immediate family committed suicide a number of years ago,” Carpenter said. “It was nothing like what is depicted in the book. It would have taken Hannah from the book lots of time to compile the tapes she sends out, as well as an ‘I’ll show them’ attitude, wanting the 13 individuals to suffer for the harm they had done her. In my experience, the person who killed himself in my family did not want those of us left behind to feel bad in any way for his decision.”

She said that her step-father felt the same pain Hannah was going through in the novel and show.

“He felt — irrationally — that the pain he was experiencing would never go away and that those of us who cared for him would be better off without him,” Carpenter said. “His death was much more impulsive than the planning over time that was in the book… I don’t think suicide is used as revenge in real life.”

Eighth grade Rahaf Abdelaziez says that attaching a sensitive topic like suicide to a TV show, where many people would see it, was a good idea.

“These topics need to be talked about, suicide is a topic people don’t like to touch on, but it is important,” Abdelaziez said. “I think putting it through a TV show series was a pretty good idea.”

A common mistake, Chaudhry said, is confusing suicide as something you do and can be cured – it’s not that simple.

“Suicide isn’t a thing, it’s a mentality, if you’re suicidal, you live your life according to the idea that, everything would be better if I wasn’t here,” Chaudhry said. “It’s something that takes over everything in your life, and it isn’t something that comes and goes, it’s something that’s always on the back of your head.”

Carpenter said that she saw the positive intent in the story’s publication.

“I guess the point of the book was to show kids how much of an impact they have on everyone else,” said Carpenter. “Through their actions and words, and that would be a positive thing.”

Abdelaziez agrees and said how impactful the positive messages really are.

“Many individuals could be really hurting someone and damaging their self-esteem and confidence without even being aware of it, so you should really be careful when treating or talking to others in certain ways, be mindful,” Abdelaziez said. “No one deserves to take their own life, no matter how bad things seem, people still need you.”

 

Science Teacher Takes Students on Annual Trip to Costa Rica

Katie Dorton | Staff Editor

1,000 miles of coastline, five active volcanoes, 812 recorded species of birds and counting. Here you can leap off a 20 foot cliff, zipline through wildlife, and meet new friends while seeing the world in a new way. These are just some of the things students can experience in Costa Rica. Pura Vida.

Mason students, ranging from sixth to eighth grade, come together each June to make a difference and have fun. Students have the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, a country known for its biodiversity and where 1.1 million people live in poverty. Sixth grade science teacher at Mason Intermediate Dale Moberly oversees the excursion, which is not a school-sponsored trip. Moberly wants to provide the chance for students to help others, as well as have fun.

“We do all kinds of things when we are in Costa Rica,” Moberly said. “We zip line, whitewater raft, visit a volcano, see lots of animals, go to the beach. We plant trees in a rainforest and visit a school where we take them paper, pencils and different school supplies. We then spend some time with them and just hang out together.”

Over the past four years, the program has grown from approximately 10 to 40 participants. Moberly plans his trips through a travel company and said that information about the trip can be found on his website and at school offices.

“I am currently planning my fifth trip for 2018,” Moberly said. “I have a website (and) papers in the front (office) at the middle school that has all kinds of information. I go through a company called Explorica, which is a travel company that only does trips for kids and students.”

In order to attend, students raise money rather than just rely completely on their parent’s wallet. Moberly said student can participate in group fundraising activities or plan their own.

“We do some group fundraisers and then they can do fundraising on their own,” Moberly said. “We have had dances, car washes, and basically anything you can think of for fundraisers.”

Moberly said he loves taking students on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

“I highly encourage anybody to go,” Moberly said. “It is awesome: I can’t say enough about it. It’s one of those opportunities that some kids never have the chance to take.The money is very reasonably priced, the food is great, the activities are awesome. The company Explorica is very dynamic–they’re awesome, as well. I just really love going and I love taking the kids.”

Eighth grader Jordan Lamm has traveled with Moberly twice. Lamm said that they collect school supplies and take them to schools. They also planted trees for The Monteverde Conservation League, a group that holds conservation efforts to help save the rainforest.

“We collected all these items in advance and we handed them out at an elementary school to all the children who were super nice and cute,” Lamm said. “We also planted trees and got to name them, so I have a tree on a side of a mountain in Costa Rica named Rafa The Tree.”

Lamm also said some of the highlights of the trip varied from jumping off a cliff to drinking fresh milk from a cow.

“I jumped off a cliff into water: it was about 20 to 30 feet,” Lamm said. “That same day I also ate pineapple from an all-natural pineapple before we went white water rafting. I also rode a horse, but I don’t like horses so that was a highlight for me. In addition to that, zip lining was really fun, we got to go over the mountain. We got to milk a cow and drink the milk. If you’ve ever wondered what straight up cow milk is like, the taste is as if you put warm milk and saltwater together.”

Lamm said throughout the activities, she was able to conquer some fears she had. Fears like heights and horses. Conquering them helped her become more adventurous.

“I’ve always been adventurous, but the trip helped me become more adventurous,” Lamm said. “I really liked the trip since I conquered some fears I had like riding a horse, and I got over my fear of heights by going on the hanging bridge over a huge valley and then jumping off the cliff.”

While in Costa Rica, Lamm said she was able to create bonds with many people of different ages.

“I made some good friends that I see in the hallways now and I’m like ‘aye’ because we just share memories or inside jokes. It really did make me really close friends with a lot of good people,” Lamm said. “So I have many new friends. I’m friends with people in all different grades like some freshmen, eighth graders, and seventh graders as well.”

After the days spent in a different setting, Lamm said that her perspective has changed after participating in a new culture.

“It has definitely changed my perspective,” Lamm said. “It has made me think more about other people especially when we took supplies to the schools. It really made me realize that people are less fortunate than me and it was really hard to see. I realized that sometimes you have to donate to people less fortunate than you because they really need it.”

Interested?

Contact Dale Moberly at moberlycostarica@gmail.com

View the flyer: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TjrIqP7CRQeYaH5Z_QtHtV0InsDTL9ZX3kZCky50dWk/edit?usp=sharing

Or visit Moberly’s Explorica Website:

http://www.explorica.com/Moberly-7006

 

TEENS WALKING AFTER SCHOOL INFLUENCES LOCAL BUSINESSES

Riley Johansen | Staff Editor

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Original Illustration by Riley Johansen

The large amount of students walking after school can sometimes make it hard to run. That is, for businesses around Mason Middle at least.

Walking to local restaraunts after school has been a popular activity for many years among Mason’s students, but sometimes the array of adolescents can be hard to manage when it comes to running a business full of them.

Culver’s manager Bret Ledford said that at the start of each school year, store managers must establish firm guidelines to curb disruptive and dangerous behavior.

“At the beginning of the school year it’s rough because we really have

to crack down on (the students) and maintain them because sometimes they’re standing on tables or doing other crazy stuff,” Ledford said. “They’re very fired up, and they talk a lot. There are some that try and run around and we have to tell them to walk because if they fall, it’s on us. They’re just pretty rambunctious.”

Mason’s Parks and Recreation Director Chrissy Avery said that she thinks the main problems occur when students aren’t aware of how their behavior affects other people.

“I think for the most part we have a great relationship with students,” Avery said. “Some of the challenges that we have are because we just have the facility with a variety of user groups anywhere from young kids, to teenage kids, to seniors, to middle-aged adults. Just making sure that teens are aware that other groups are using the facility and making sure that their behavior is good is important. We do actually have a partnership with our police department and there’s a school resource officer so usually after school will more busy the officers will do a walk-through just to make sure everything’s okay.”

Students are aware of some of the disrespectful behavior as well. Eighth grader Emma Moore said she frequently walks with friends to local businesses and has seen behavior that she does not approve of that may annoy fellow walkers as much as the managers.

“It’s one thing to have fun with your friends, but it comes to a point where they are getting really disrespectful and disturbing the other people there,” Moore said. “You don’t want to hear kids talking about drugs or screaming the F-bomb in the middle of a restaurant.”

Some restaurants, like United Dairy Farmers, may not experience the type of behavior larger businesses may get. UDF Manager-in-Training Ashley Golomski said that they don’t experience much difficulty with walkers but do sometimes need to make them aware of their surroundings.

“Most of the time they’re pretty polite. Every now and then they get a little rowdy, but they listen to us when we tell them to settle down and stop being so loud because we have other customers,” Golomski said. “They just need to remember to be a little more courteous in the establishment and make sure that they’re not cutting in line, jumping ahead of people, or just blatantly disregarding them.”

Ledford says that as long as businesses are prepared for the large amount of students and are ready to handle making all the food and managing all the space, it can be a beneficial thing to have students walk to their business.

“We plan every Friday or day they don’t have school the next day for them,” Ledford said. “It’s honestly something we prepare for every week and it’s awesome. It really helps business because walking over helps people see us as more than just food: it helps their parents see that their kids like to be here, so hopefully we get more business from them in general and it’s just been a really good thing for us.”

As well as students contributing to good business, the businesses can give right back. Avery said that having the ability for students to walk to close places is a very beneficial thing for the community.

“I think it’s great that Mason has a community that’s walkable,” Avery said. “having restaurants, a Rec Center and Park in places that students can walk to is nice because there is a safe place for students to go where they don’t need to drive. It’s much better than having to stay home and not be able to interact with friends.”

Live Streaming: Connecting Users In A New And More Vivid Way

Mariah Norman | Staff Writer

No filter, no script. Just real rawness in real time.

Since the first live stream in 1993, several social media apps, like Facebook and Instagram, have added the broadcasting feature, while other apps completely specialize in it like Periscope, YouNow, and Meerkat. Today, live streaming has connected a variety of users from all across the world. Hosts will initiate the stream, and anyone around the world can choose to watch, while leaving comments that appear on the host’s screen in real time.

Seventh grader Rachel Garcia said she enjoys the carefree simplicity that livestreaming offers, and the direct interaction between viewer and host.

“I get to talk to (the viewers) and they can reply back to me,“ Garcia said. “It’s really easy when I just want to have fun and show people what I’m doing.”

Eighth grade Spanish teacher Lauren Richardson said she’s had multiple experiences with live streaming in an educational setting when needing a way to reach all of her students at once.

“I’ve livestreamed in a couple of different ways,” Richardson said. “I’ve livestreamed when I was on a class trip to Spain. I did it via Instagram to show students some of the culture and language we were using (there). And I’ve also livestreamed a review session for the Spanish 1B Midterm.”

Richardson said live streaming established a real life connection with her students, as if they were sitting right in front of her.

“I think it makes you feel a part of the experience especially when I was in Spain and I would livestream,” Richardson said. “Students would (say) ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so neat!’ and they would actually feel like they were there with me, experiencing the surroundings. And with the review livestream session, when I was taking their questions, it felt like we were in class together. It wasn’t (giving them) a review sheet, (they) learn it, (and) we’ll review it in class. It was: let me know your questions and we’ll review them as they come in.”

Eighth grader Tyler Frazier said the variety available for people interested in viewing live streams could also be a main component for their rise in popularity.

“With Instagram and Facebook Live, there’s a cool variety,” Frazier said. “There’s people that go live and just do random (things), people who talk about (topics) that you didn’t necessarily know before, and there’s even people that go out and commit crimes.”

Even celebrities participate in the trend. Eighth grader Ayesha Chaudhry said live streaming offers an opportunity for internet famous personalities to feel more human and relatable to their audience watching.

“If (someone) was a celebrity, then live streaming would do something more to interact with the people that follow (them),” Chaudhry said. “It gives (the viewers) a face to face connection and they can see (the celebrity) raw.”

Live streaming has also broken significant barriers within social media for everyday people. Frazier said it’s made the entire experience more real and relaxed for everyone enjoying it.

“(Live streaming) can be whatever you want it to be,” Frazier said. “When you post something, it’s structured and you want it to be a certain way but with a live stream, whatever happens, happens.”

Garcia said live streaming not only affects us now but could make a big impact to the future of the workforce, business, and education.

“Basically anyone can watch the livestream and I feel like that could reach and expand to more and more uses in the real world,” Garcia said.

Chaudhry said live streaming also allows us to communicate and interact in ways that have been difficult in the past.

“One of the greatest boundaries man has today is distance and livestreaming could take that down,” Chaudhry said. “It’s kind of like FaceTiming in a way, but to a bigger audience.”

But like anything on the internet, live streaming has downsides and dangers. Within the first four months of 2017, four people decided to torture a disabled person on Facebook Live, and later someone in Cleveland murdered a random elderly man off the street. With the growing popularity of “crime streaming”, people are getting more and more comfortable with the things they broadcast to the world.

Frazier said the reason for people’s recent online recklessness could be the constant need for recognition and approval from others.

“They just want attention. Or there’s even the possibility that they want to get caught for some reason,” Frazier said. “(This is) really bad because you have some (people) in the chat that’ll encourage them to keep going.”

Live streaming could also promote cyber bullying that affects people in a much more vivid way, since it’s all happening in real time. Chaudhry said people feel fearless about what they say and comment on a livestream, especially since it disappears when ended. This causes people to say hurtful things they wouldn’t usually say in person.

“(This is) sort of like the Snapchat mentality, (where people think that) unless someone screenshots it, it’s gonna go away once you end the live,” Chaudhry said.

Although live streaming can be dangerous, it’s bringing different people together from all across the world. Richardson said live streaming could be the next step in connecting people in a way that’s never been done before.

“(Live streaming) is a part of letting somebody into your world and when you do that, there’s a whole different understanding,” Richardson said. “It could help society in understanding other cultures, other languages, (and other people). I think it could break some barriers that really need to be broken.”

Planning, Preparation, Party: What Goes on in a Bar/Bat Mitzvah?

By Maryam Elkady, Natasha Jha, Meredith Turner | Staff Writers

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Photo by Michael Snyder

Seventh grader Emma Norris reads her portion of the Torah.

Sweet sixteen parties, fiestas de quinceañera, sacraments of confirmation. Teens of all ethnicities celebrate coming of age in a variety of ways. For Jewish students, it’s a bar or bat mitzvah that signals their transition into adulthood.

A bar or bat mitzvah is a celebration when a Jewish child turns thirteen and is ready to take another step in their religion (becoming a Jewish adult). Bar Mitzvahs appeared in the Middle Ages for boys, while the first bat mitzvah for girls, was held in 1922. By the 13th or 14th century, the custom of calling a boy up to the Torah (the Jewish holy book) was established as the way of recognizing entry into manhood.

Bar or bat mitzvahs are usually celebrated in ways like a party, a lunch, and a religious service. The service involves the bar or bat mitzvah, the boy or girl who is celebrating their coming of age, saying their practiced speech with a rabbi, a jewish scholar or teacher. Many things come into play when planning a bar or bat mitzvah, including, budget, invitations, and catering.

Bar and bat mitzvah means, son and daughter of the commandment. Kids who celebrate bar or bat Mitzvahs have a service in the beginning where they have to read a section of the Torah that depends on the time of year and the child.

Seventh grade coding and robotics teacher Martin Fish has planned Bar Mitzvahs for his children. He said that the Bar or Bat mitzvahs have different portions from the torah that the the child has to read depending on the season and the temple.

“It all depends on your temple or your synagogue and your Rabbi,” Fish said. “In addition, each individual bar or bat mitzvah, the child being honored, has a specific reading from the Torah, which is the first five books of the bible that they need to read. Their portion of the Torah is different depending what time of year it is and the portion that they read after that called the haftarah is also different because it changes every week.”

Preparing for a bar or bat mitzvah can take from months to years. The bar or bat mitzvah needs to be fully prepared for the time of their lives. They start off in hebrew school and learn about the basic prayers. By the time they are 13 or 14, the bar or bat mitzvah becomes ready to say their speech and lead on his or her family tree.

Seventh grader Lauren Kobalka said that she had to practice for a while before actually performing the rituals when having her bat mitzvah.

“I started preparing for my bat mitzvah four years ago,” Kobalka said.“In fourth grade I started hebrew school which is when you start learning the prayers. (I spent) nine months learning with the rabbi and learning my haftarah (plus) the stuff he needs to teach me and I will know all that, come my bat mitzvah.”

Bar or bat mitzvah planning can start early for a child depending on the size of the celebration. Most planning processes start a year in advance so the child can learn Hebrew and memorize prayers.

After the service, a bar or bat mitzvah normally has a party to celebrate their achievement in turning into an adult. The party usually has a theme that is chosen by the new adult and parents. At the party, there are different things done that reflects on the bar or bat mitzvahs childhood. Also, it shows new things that will come in the later years. The prices for the party can range from about $2,500 to $30,000.

Kobalka compared her upcoming bat mitzvah to a wedding weekend complete with planned events, family meals, and out of town guests.

“I’m really excited. (It’s) kind of like a wedding weekend,” Kobalka said. “We have a lot of out of town people. There’s a Friday night dinner and the service in the morning. Saturday night is the party (and) my theme is Lauren’s candy shop. (There will) be a green screen, a DJ, and candy. All (of) my family is coming. And then Sunday morning there is a brunch for out of town people and after the service there is a kiddush lunch for everyone.”

Seventh grader Emma Norris said there is a lot of planning and hard work put into a bar or bat Mitzvah with many different factors

For the party you have to find a place, you have to get decorations and, you have to find a D.J (if you want one). You also have to find someone who will provide food for the party. (It) usually takes 8 months of training. Once a week, you’ll see someone who helps you with your Hebrew, and they’ll teach you your Torah section. Some bat mitzvahs could be more expensive, a normal one would be (about) 10,000 dollars.

Seventh grader Emma Norris said that the Horah was a very memorable moment for her.

“I will always remember the dance called the Horah,” Norris said. “It’s (where) you dance in a circle and the person who is getting bar or bat mitzvahed is in the chair and people lift them up and down. My favorite part was the whole (celebration).”

Class Selection Requirements Place Pressure on Students

Laalitya Acharya | Staff Editor

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Eighth grader Vivian Tran decides her classes for freshman year. Photo by Laalitya Acharya

The only bubble more intimidating than a Scantron is found on a course selector sheet.

The stress of planning next year has arrived at Mason Middle School and students are preparing to select their classes.

Eighth grader Ryan Baker said that the pressure that comes with choosing the right courses can cause anxiety.

“There is the pressure about not making a mistake in your scheduling to make it easier on the school,” Baker said. “You need to have backups prepared in case you don’t get your classes. Getting all the work for regular classes done (and deciding) if you think you’re capable to fulfill the required tasks for that class is also a really big cause of stress for me.”

Eighth grader Vivian Tran said the process can cause stress because it will impact her future.

“There is a lot to take in while planning for high school,” Tran said. “Your GPA and classes that you take in high school will affect your career path and what college you will be going to. High school is one of your most important times of your life because it will change your outcome in the future.”

Spanish teacher Heidi Morrissey said that the stress has only increased as the years go on.

“Over the past five years, (stress is) getting worse,” Morrissey said. “I think eighth graders have more school-related stress. I see anxiety in seventh graders as well, but it seems more related to academic, family and social pressures than high school scheduling stress.”

Spanish teacher Lauren Richardson said that it’s not always the scheduling process causing stress – sometimes it’s the classes themselves.

“I absolutely think that (honors and AP courses) add to the stress.” Richardson said. “My biggest question always is, what you want to do when you grow up? If you have a clear path for medicine or if you want to work in a lab, then I don’t at all question the reasoning behind that. (But) just because you don’t take one honors course that your friends are, it might be the best choice for you because you can be involved in a club they aren’t involved in.”

Morrissey said that it’s important for students to pace themselves and enjoy high school.

“I think that students need to think about what they are passionate about,” Morrissey said.  “If you don’t love human geography, or even know what that means, you shouldn’t take that class.  It’s great to have a few college credits when you enter college as a freshman, but there’s no reason to try and be a college student while still in high school.  I love the idea of realistic rigor, but I don’t think many of our students or their parents buy into it. We’re seeing so much anxiety at the high school because students believe they must take every single demanding course that’s offered.”

Seventh grader Allyson Bishop said that student competition forces students to raise their expectations, and in turn, their stress levels.

“I think AP and Honors classes should really start at a later age,” Bishop said. “These more advanced classes that are offered are making kids think (they) have to be better than (everyone else), and that whole (mentality) is causing more stress than is necessary.”

Richardson said that the stress of school and extracurricular activities are combining.

“(Some of my) former students found themselves spreading themselves too thin,” Richardson said. “It all comes back to what you’re passionate about. It might take your freshman year to decide that, but if year after year you are putting so much pressure on yourself, you’re not going be able to enjoy your high school experience.”

Richardson said that the stress could be eliminated if students only focused on their passions.

“You need to really be in tune with who you are and what you can do and not what others expect you to do,” Richardson said. “If you take the courses that are good for you and if you choose wisely and think about what is going to be a part of your life in the long run you’re going to eliminate the stress.”