Lowe’s partners with students on fencing project

Rilee Malloy | Staff Writer

A fence is not the only thing they are building.

The students with special needs are partnering with Lowe’s and eighth grade art teacher John Benham’s classes to make the courtyard a more beautiful place for students to learn and grow.

Lowe’s also came in to help with this project. Special Ed teacher Mark Lynch, and Benham wrote a proposal to the school, and it was approved. Lowe’s helped build and finance the entire project.

“We partnered with Lowe’s here in Mason and they sponsored the whole entire project,” Benham said. “The (students) were able to create two different flower beds, 4×8 and they even did a paver patio around the two flower beds for wheelchair access, and they supplied us with some paint to cover up the fence.”

Benham is one of the leaders of this project. He said that he was excited to make Mason Middle School a better environment for students to be engaged with the school.

“It’ll be a great way to do some learning in a different environment,” Benham said. “It’ll be cool for the students to do some mural painting out there as well, as it will help some other students in a different environment learn about science and math and gardening.”

Special Ed teacher Christina Layton said that she was happy that she could help her students get involved in the community.

“For me particularly, the student population I work with has students with different abilities and disabilities, and they don’t really have opportunities to get involved in the community, or in a community project,” Layton said. “So we wanted to make sure they were all included with people their same age. And for me that’s what I wanted to be able to provide for them.”

Eighth grader Olivia Curry, a student with special needs said she is excited about this project, and is happy that she is able to have something that is a part of her life at home, brought into her school life.

“I’m so happy I’m here, and I really love to garden,” Curry said. “That is my favorite thing at home too. Me and my mom garden, and my dad makes dinner out of the things me and my mom grow.”

Benham also said he has seen some students become more responsible through this project and they are excited to move forward with it.

“Well we haven’t done a whole (lot) other than building, but I can see some sense of responsibility already,” Benham said.  “Several students have already come in and they go outside to check on it see what it looks like and are already asking and excited like, ‘hey when are we gonna get started doing more?’ I can definitely see some responsibility as well as ownership that they’re ready to move forward with the painting.”

Teachers, especially Special Education teacher Todd Castner, were excited for everyone to see their students shine.

“I think (my students) really enjoy doing what they do,” Castner said. “And I think that some of the staff that popped in throughout the day saw a different side of them that they don’t usually see, and saw them in a different light.”

Benham said he is excited to see how the project will turn out, and is excited for this to be more than just a fence.

“I think it’s gonna help everybody understand that we all don’t have the same abilities and maybe working together side by side we can still create something together,” Benham said.

YouTube “24-Hour Challenge” wreaks havoc among local retailers

Elise Haller | Staff Writer
Nora Touassi | Staff Writer

Playing video games, watching Netflix, sleeping. This is how most students spend their days off school. But some are spending their days in stores–not shopping, not looking for candy, but hiding in order to stay overnight.

The 24-hour YouTube challenge is when people will go into stores while they are open. They will hide before the store closes, in shelves, behind boxes, in storage rooms, or any other good hiding places. The store will then close, the people will wait for all the employees to leave, then they will come out and clown around. The 24-hour overnight YouTube challenge is going viral. From London, to Canada, to Australia, and even Mason, Ohio–people have been trying to take this on. Seth Horvath, store manager of the Waterstone Boulevard Target, confirmed that the challenge has been attempted in the tri-state area, although he refrained from indicating at which location.

“It has happened in the Mason area,” Horvath said. “ It’s company policy that I can’t tell you which store it has happened in, but we have seen it.”

Horvath said the Target corporate office sent out information to all Target stores explaining to them to take extra precaution and safety measures. Horvath said that while guests are shopping at the front of the store, others are hiding in the back.

“This is something that came about this past summer, late summer, early fall,” Horvath said. “It is something that affects retailers in a pretty big way. We operate, have guests come shop off our shelves, and ring them up front, but when the guests or teenagers or whoever it is shops, hide behind large items–toilet paper, paper towels, and diapers.”

Eighth grader Sankaran Iyer said that there should be some consequences for hiding in a store overnight.

“I don’t think people should be in the store after closing time because they have some work to do that continues the next day,” Iyer said. “It is not legal to do it for just a YouTube channel. If they say it closes at this time, you are not allowed to enter anymore. It’s their property. You can’t just forcefully enter and stay there. It’s wrong.”

Seventh grader Jacob Sicking said the challenge is a cool idea, but there should be consequences if someone gets caught. “I think it’s cool, but it’s bad if you get caught,” Sicking said. “(People who attempt the challenge should be given) a warning the first time and the second time be banned from the store.”

Eighth grade physical science teacher Laura Tonkin said the challenge is risky, and if offenders get caught, they should be charged with breaking and entering.

“It seems risky. I understand the excitement, but the consequences could be breaking and entering,” Tonkin said. “If over 18, (they) should have the same punishment as someone breaking or entering.”

Seventh grader Leah Stone said the consequences should should be jail time or a fine.

“A fine or jail time, probably 250 dollars or 500 dollars because that is the normal amount and one or two days of jail time, depending on how bad it would be,” Stone said. “I think you could get caught, and it would be very bad if you did. It’s kinda stupid for people to be doing that knowing how much trouble you could get into.”

Horvath said that his main concern is keeping their customers safe.

“It is not safe, let alone it is not a wise thing to do,” Hovrath said. “It’s not a huge problem, but it is something we don’t want to see become a big problem either. We have a good time at Target. We want our guests to enjoy themselves. We don’t want our guests to be inconvenienced or our team members to be inconvenienced by someone just fooling around like that.”

Students elect to use Personal Learning Days as day off

Kennedy Radar | Staff Writer
Peyton Wagner | Staff Writer

Passion Projects are an opportunity for students to explore learning with more choice and voice.

This year, Mason City Schools is giving kids two extra days off, called Personal Learning days, to get work done on their Passion Projects. Passion Projects are aimed at getting students out of the classroom and on their own exploring their own fields of interest.

Seventh grade language arts teacher Joseph Carraher said while some students might perceive the PLD as an extra day off, others will use the day to learn about something they want to learn about.

“I think there is a certain group of kids that will do nothing and make it an extra day off,” Carraher said. “I think there´s also a good group of people that will use it the way it is supposed to be used, which is to enhance their learning about something they want to learn about.”

Seventh grader Shailee Sankhala said that the PLD is just an extra day off. “People won’t learn anything,” Sankhala said. “They’re just gonna stay home and do nothing, like me.”

While many students have elected not to participate in PLDs, seventh grade student Betsy Areddy said she has taken on a project of her own and thinks the projects will help some students.

“I´m learning how to play the ukulele, so what I’ve done is learned how to play a few songs.” Areddy said. “I do think that most people aren’t going to do anything on their Personal Learning Days, because they view it as just a day off school. I think maybe if we did a Personal Learning Day but in school, kids would be forced to do it.¨

Eighth grade assistant principal Lauren Gentene said she believes that holding kids accountable will motivate them to do their project.

“I think by holding all students accountable to having to present their Ignite Talk by the end of the year or present to the administrators before they’re promoted to the next grade, we’re at least making sure that they do a Passion Project,” Gentene said. “Now I don’t feel like I need to micromanage whether the Passion Project occurs on that exact day, but what I’m saying is we value it enough we have given you these two days off to make sure that is at least when you get it done.”

Comet Conversations provide students with opportunity to be heard when dealing with stressful situations

Erika Eller | Staff Writer

Comet Conversations, a program for those who just need to talk, is now at the middle school. Comet Conversations is a program  in which teachers can place a logo outside of their door, meaning that they are open at all times for students who may need someone to listen. Mason Middle School Principal Tonya McCall said the goal of the program is to let students know that there are people who will stop to listen to them whenever they are struggling with a problem.

“The goal (of) our program (is to have) someone (who) kids can go to when they feel like they just need to talk about whatever issues are going on,” McCall said.

While many stressful situations can plague a student’s life, McCall said the program is specifically meant for serious conversations. “(It’s) reserved for more serious type issues,” McCall said. “So not the issues of, I didn’t study for my test and so having a bad day, but I’m feeling sad and I can’t figure out how to pull myself out of that. Or, some bad things are going on at home and I don’t know who I can share that with. Or, something bad’s really happening with my friend and I don’t  know how to intervene, so those types of things.”

Eighth grade art teacher John Benham and eighth grade history teacher Kyle Hamilton were the first to bring the idea to the middle school.

“It was originally Mr. Benham’s idea, to bring a program to Mason Middle School,” Hamilton said. “He really got the idea from a former teacher at the high school who did something similar there and it seemed to have a good impact at the high school so Mr. Benham knew about this and wanted to bring a similar program to the middle school.”

According to McCall, Benham first brought the idea to the faculty using what’s called an ignite talk, similar to what students are doing along with their passion projects.

“(Mr. Benham), gave what we call an Ignite Talk–those are what we’re asking students to do with their passion projects,” McCall said. “He gave one of those and gave some background information about what Comet Conversations are. He went over the various types of conversations that could be had by students, gave us some big picture statistics on background of (the) number of students that, for example, are experiencing some of these types of topics that  we’re bringing up.”

Benham said the purpose of Comet Conversations was to give students an environment where they could express their feelings and know someone is willing to listen.

“One of the purposes of the Comet Conversation is to create an environment where students can express their feelings and know they can always find someone who will listen,” Benham said. “The Comet Conversation Program doesn’t turn teachers into counselors but does provide them with the tools to become better listeners and better prepared for difficult conversations.  The ultimate goal is to get students and individuals the help they need.”

Besides having someone to talk to, guidance counselor Karen Long said the most important thing is that it is okay to speak up.

“The biggest message we want to get out there to kids is: please ask for help,” Long said. “Some kids think it’s a weakness to ask for help; it’s actually the strongest thing, the most courageous thing. In the long run, it’s going to be better for you, for any student to ask.”

Students offer assitance in Innovation Lab

Faham Tak | Staff Writer

Innovation isn’t always easy.

Activating links, locating work in Google Drive and uploading files to Schoology. These are common tasks that many students struggle with. School feels impossible to students who struggle to adapt to new and everchanging technology. For them, it is easy to fall behind in class which can lead to complications in learning.

Mason Middle School is restarting its solution from last year. The Innovation Lab is an internship which addresses technology and how it can be used more efficiently. Students work on projects in the media center with their main goal being to provide technological help. The Innovation Lab is also an internship at Mason High School. Innovative learning coach Randy Doughman brought the idea to MMS after observing other schools that have started their own Innovation Lab.

“We saw it up last year; it was just with all the new devices,” Doughman said. “All the students having the Chromebooks just allowing the students somewhere to go if they had issues, and maybe it will help them to use the Chromebook. We just needed bodies to help lead through that and see what kind of issues we had, to see how we could help them.”

There are a number of kids who already know how to operate the Chromebook, and there are kids who are having technology problems. For many new seventh graders, it may be hard to use to use Chromebooks more than they used paper. For many eighth graders, it may be Schoology in which they struggle with, or it may be with other programs. Another Innovative Learning Coach, Dan Little is one who leads students for the entire year.

“You will have two different learning experiences going on: one is the kids who are supporting others, and (the other is the) kids who are actually being supported,” Little said. “The kids receiving support are obviously going to learn a lot of the technology skills and learn to identify some problems of their own so that they don’t need to come back-to-back. The students who are leading that are going to learn a lot of interpersonal communication, problem solving skills, how to work with others and how to support other people, all of those are great things, no matter what they end up doing in life, those are all great skills.”

While the teachers know what to do, the students should know what to do and what will they enjoy, what they will know about technology in the future. Riley Johansen has been a student leader of the lab since it started and said students have a bigger role in the lab than they think.

“It is really cool just because I’m able to help people to understand the technology, but then helping other people helps you understand it more,” Johansen said. “It’s a great thing, to get you hands dirty, and figure out stuff along the way. I enjoyed how we weren’t just a ‘Help Desk.’ We had to define that it wasn’t, because the point is, if you had a problem, we wanted to teach you how to fix that problem, so that you can teach others. It is just kinda like a web, it hits one spot, and then they can help another and it just keeps going.”