Category Archives: Opinion

VERNAL POOLS: Why Are They Important? by Chase Dallin

Vernal pools are beautiful. Vernal or ephemeral pools are temporary pools of water that offer protection to juvenile amphibians and insects. They are created when snow melts, and a large amount of the water gathers in a single place. Since vernal pools usually develop inland they’re completely free of predatory fish. We don’t typically think of little freshwater fish as fierce predators, but to insects and amphibians, especially young ones, they may as well be what an owl is to a mouse. Vernal pools are home to many rare species of frogs, toads, salamanders, crustaceans, bacteria, as well as many rare species of flora. Vernal pools can be found in places all over the world, but they’re becoming rarer and rarer due to agriculture and urbanization. Over 90% of California’s vernal pools have been destroyed, and the sad thing is most of the people destroying them didn’t even know they were doing something wrong.

Luckily Massachusetts has laws that protect vernal pools, but it’s not that simple. People in Massachusetts still destroy vernal pools because of lack of awareness, or simply blatant disregard.
There are a number of laws concerning vernal pools in Massachusetts. Although originally protected under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, vernal pools are also protected by Title 5 of the Massachusetts Environmental Code, Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act, the Massachusetts Surface Water Quality Standards which relate to Section 401, and the Massachusetts Forest Cutting Practices Act. For more information concerning the laws involving vernal pools is at www.mass.gov. Once a vernal pool has been destroyed, it can’t be brought back, once it’s gone…it’s almost certainly gone for good. Numerous experiments have been done trying to create artificial vernal pools, and many have failed. It’s possible to create, a vernal pool, but it’s very difficult to do.

There are ways ordinary citizens can help protect vernal pools. In Massachusetts vernal pools can only be protected if they’re certified. The process by which vernal pools are certified relies on volunteers that submit evidence of a vernal pool. I encourage you to go out, to try and find a vernal pool. Even if it’s already certified they’re amazing to see.
Although I wasn’t able to interview him in person I have exchanged multiple emails with Wayland’s conservation land manager Brian Harris, I asked him some questions and here are his answers:

“How many vernal pools are there in Wayland?”

Currently the town has 3 “certified” vernal pools. A certified pool is one that meets the criteria set forth by Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Service. One of my goals as conservation land manager last year was to get out there and find more vernal pools and map them accordingly. I get extremely busy in the spring and just didn’t have the time to properly survey them. However we have some vernal pools out there that haven’t been submitted to the state whom is responsible for overseeing certified pools(see below)

“How many vernal pools in Wayland have been destroyed?”

-I have no idea the numbers of vernal pools that have been destroyed. If I looked at historical aerial surveys when technology was sharp enough to identify a vernal pool I imagine the number would be extremely high. Before Wetland regulations were put in place to conserve areas of critical habitat like vernal pools the destruction was probably vast, but again to reiterate I personally do not have this data.

“Why are vernal pools important?”

– Per a field guide to vernal pools by Kenney and Burne:
“Vernal pools are indispensable for biodiversity, both locally and globally. For a species with a wide distribution individual vernal pools are essential to the local population. Eliminate those pools and the population of that organism will die out in that area. For a species with narrow distribution a specific vernal pool might be the only place on earth that organism is found. If the pool is destroyed that species becomes extinct.”

They are also so susceptible to disturbance, destruction and pollution and are in such short supply that its critical to preserve what few pools remain for these organisms

“What are some species of vernal pools?”

The following species are obligate species of vernal pools:
Wood frog, spadefoot toad, spotted salamander, blue-spotted salamander, Jefferson salamander, marbled salamander and fairy shrimp

Obligate species refers to in this case an organism dependent on a particular habitat to be able to breed.

“How can people help protect vernal pools?”

-become knowledgeable about vernal pools and spread the knowledge
-become involved in local governments such as conservation committees planning boards and similar regulatory groups that make decisions which affect land use and vernal pools
-similarly become involved with and support regional and nationwide environmental or biological organizations that promote environmental protection species protection and land preservation

Vernal pools are some of the most beautiful and rare natural habitats, and we should do everything we can to protect them. I’m Chase Dallin and I hope you enjoyed and learned something from reading this article of mine. Bye!

End to Enemies? North and South Korea Unite at the Olympics by Kally Proctor

We’ve all seen and read lots of news about how North and South Korea hate each other or are planning to bomb the living daylights out of each other, but the reality just might not be that bad.

During the recently completed Winter Olympics in South Korea, a time for countries to unite and have fun together playing sports, North and South Korea have been very cozy: cheering for each other just as much as they’ve been cheering for themselves.  Even more symbolic and perhaps more unusual: South Korea’s female hockey team included North Korean women. It was a combined team, just like the athletes from the two countries joined together under a unified flag and marched in the Parade of Nations at the official opening and closing ceremonies.

My point?

The media might be making it much worse than it actually is. Sure, their politicians might be threatening each other, but that doesn’t mean the people in those countries feel the same way. As we’ve seen during these Winter Olympics, the people of Korea might be hoping to unify their country once more, and this time for good.

 

Flip, Tuck, and Stick the Landing by Hedaia Elelimy

Walking to the beam, feeling scared to fall, I hear people coughing quietly, trying not to be loud. I can smell the chalk, and I see the banners of champions hanging around the gym. I jump onto the beam. I start my routine: first two steps, next tuck, after, back walk over, then flip off the beam, and stick the landing. Have you ever been in a gymnastics gym? Did you ever think about how long it takes to master that skill? If you play a sport you should know how long it takes to do something well. Gymnastics is NO different!

Practice Makes Perfect

Gymnastics is no different than other sports. In fact, that flip off the beam is a new skill for me, and I have been training in gymnastics since I was four! Gymnastics isn’t easy. I practice three days a week, with two and a half hours for each training. There is a reason the flip take a long time to master because first you have to learn the basics. Some of the basics are having enough control over your body so you don’t hurt yourself. Then you start learning how to flip. After you learn to flip, you have to learn how make the flip look good: exactly how to point your toes or where to put your hands. As you can see it take hard work to be a gymnast! Just like football or soccer, it takes a long time to master a skill and do it well. Gymnastics is a real sport because it requires hard work and focus.

Train Insane

A typical training for a gymnast would look a little something like this: You enter the gym and start your stretches. Then you start your practice, and you go to your assigned events. The different events are balance beam, uneven bars, vault, and the floor exercises. The balance beam is a thin beam that you perform gymnastics tricks on. The uneven bars are two bars that are uneven. You do your routine on them and go from one bar to the other without falling to the ground. To do the vault, you have to run, have strength to lift yourself over, and do the trick you are assigned. A couple examples of tricks might be handsprings or back handsprings. Last but not least, are the floor exercises. The floor exercise is a specific routine of moves that you make up with your coach.

Health Nuts

Gymnastics requires more than just training. First you need to be healthy in order to perform well. You have to cut back on junk food, but you can still have delicious desserts from time to time. I would not give up chocolate chip cookies for anything! In order to be healthy, you also have to get enough sleep. An elementary school aged gymnast should get twelve hours of sleep every night, and middle school aged gymnasts should get nine to ten hours of sleep each night.

Gymnastics requires a lot of hard work and a big time commitment. Even though there are some downsides to gymnastics, there are many more benefits, including great posture, greater flexibility, and most importantly, fun!

So the next time you are looking for a new sport, consider gymnastics!

 

MythMasters Bring Ancient Greeks to Life for Cultural Enrichment Day by Kally Proctor

MythMasters Performers in Action
WAYLAND, MA–Ancient Greeks in the auditorium?

That’s what the students at Wayland Middle School were welcomed to on Friday, December 8th for Cultural Enrichment Day.

The event involved three performances by the MythMasters, two actors reenacting myths from ancient Greek civilization. After each 15-20 minute show, the MythMasters held discussions with students about their meaning and purpose.

The program is the brainchild of David Zucker and Richard McElvain and is offered by Young Audiences of Massachusetts which provides a variety of educational-oriented performances, workshops, and residences for schools and students.

According to the creators, the myths “force us to reflect on ourselves and our lives. The idea [is] that a myth is not a lie, but an investigation into the human condition.”

According to Principal Gavron, the school has been hosting cultural enrichment performances for at least 20 years and are selected by the PTO to highlight cultures from various regions of the world that tie in with the curriculum. “I think celebrating the arts and enjoying the many ways people communicate history and culture is a true gift the PTO offers us,” she notes.

To accommodate the event – which occurred during a 54 minute block at the end of the school day – Principal Gavron said the administration borrowed 10 minutes of time from each class and reduced a couple of passing times from four minutes to three.

The first performance was called “Phaeton and the Sun Chariot” and was about the sun god’s son (Phaeton), wanting to take a ride on his father’s sun-filled chariot across the sky, against his father’s wishes. As legend has it, Phaeton lost control and plummeted to the Earth, scorching some of the Earth and many of its inhabitants, including himself. During the Q&A which followed, one student suggested the moral of the story is that “you better be careful what you wish for.”

The second performance was the story of “Echo and Narcissus” about a nymph named Echo who suffered a curse limiting her to only repeat what others have said (this is where the word “Echo” comes from). Echo fell in love with a handsome man named Narcissus who loved only himself (this is where the word “narcissist” comes from). As the story unfolds, Narcissus fell in love with his reflection to the point where he never could leave it, forcing Echo to stay there by his side until they both withered away. In the Q&A, students claimed the moral of this story is that people shouldn’t love others because of their looks, but because of who they really are.

The MythMasters last performance was called “Orpheus and Eurydice” and was about a talented musician named Orpheus who fell in love with a woman named Eurydice.  When Eurydice died, Orpheus was heartbroken and pleaded with the gods of underworld (where all people went when they died) to resurrect Eurydice. The gods granted Orpheus’ wish on one condition — Eurydice had to walk behind Orpheus who could never look back at her until they exited the underworld. Unfortunately for Orpheus, however, he accidentally looked back at Eurydice, and she was returned to the underworld without Orpheus. Students noted that the moral of this story was more complicated and was harder to find.

Students at WMS found the experience both fun and entertaining: “I think that the MythMasters were awesome. My favorite part was about Narcissus and how he was obsessed about himself. I [also] liked it when they picked people from the audience,” said Bethany Foreman, a 6th grader.

“I think it was very interesting to see what a few Greek myths were.” added Jaden Kane, another 6th grader.

According their website, MythMasters provides: “a skillful blend of mime, comedy, drama, puppetry, masks, music, reverence, irreverence…[where with] lots of audience participation, the gods and goddesses, heroes and villains, monsters and maidens of Greek mythology walk the earth once more.”

Zucker and McElvain are also responsible for two other similarly-structured educational performance shows: Shakespeare Guyz and MathsAmazing. They said they were inspired to create MythMasters “there is something about these stories that captivates the imagination of young folk.”

Some images and data borrowed rom Young Audiences at http://yamass.org/our-programs/mythmasters/

Your Addiction is Killing Me: Why People Shouldn’t Smoke in Public by Sophia Fantoni

If you are a smoker,  the issue is not if you get cancer; it’s when you get cancer. Smoking is absolutely awful for you, but most people don’t think of the consequences and the pain they are putting their body through. In fact, when you smoke outside you are hurting other people just by smoking in a different area. You are not only ruining your life, but the lives around you.

Smoking is not only unhealthy to smokers, but also to the people around them. For the smoker, it would make no difference to smoke in public than to smoke at home. On the other hand, when the smoker decides to light up a cigarette outside, it affects the people around them. As a result, the people in the vicinity of the smoker are now being affected just because of the smoker’s addiction. The smoker has put other people’s health in danger. For example, Quitter’s Circle, a website made by the American Lung Association and Pfizer to help smokers quit smoking, says that “Secondhand smoke–whether it’s from a neighbor’s burning cigarette or from a cigarette outside your window–has shown to have instant effect on the cardiovascular system of nearby individuals.” Therefore, the same is true when you breath in smoke wherever you go. Just by breathing in cigarette smoke your health is slightly impacted. When I walk by a smoker, and smell the vile smell of cigarette smoke, my head starts to throb and I become nauseous. That feeling stays with me for a few hours, making my day less enjoyable than it should have been. This proves that just because of an addiction someone else has it’s affecting people in our everyday lives.

Some have thought that when people smoke it won’t affect other people unless they are in an enclosed area, like a room. And yet, they are wrong. If someone is smoking outside or in an enclosed area the people around the smoker are still being affected. In fact, just by being in the same room as a smoker, it will affect you more because the smoke will stay in the room for a while forcing you to breath in smoke. But nevertheless, when you are outside it still is affecting you, because you are still breathing in the smoke. Consequently, breathing in cigarette smoke will affect your cardiovascular system.

At the same time, smoking in public can make a new smoker out of someone else. In fact, if an adolescent sees someone smoke–most kids see people smoke almost everyday wherever they go–they may think it’s okay for them to do just the same. They will think it’s okay to smoke and won’t know the consequences of their actions and what will happen in the long run. For example, Tobacco-Free Kids, an organization that has been working for 20 years to prevent kids from smoking, says that “Kids are more susceptible to cigarette advertising and marketing than adults. 83.4 percent of youth smokers (12-17) prefer Marlboro, Newport, and Camel (the three most heavily advertised brands), while only 61.1 percent of smokers (26 or older) prefer these brands.” This fact demonstrates how kids are being sucked into the smoking world. They see smoking as a cool thing to do and think that they should give it a try. Furthermore, kids are being attacked by cigarette brands. The brands are trying to draw them in, knowing that the kids are more likely to be influenced than adults. The advertisers are first drawing the kids in, but when kids see people smoking almost everyday, it makes it more enticing. As a result, more and more kids are being sucked into the habit of smoking because of what they see in public and on the media.

Lastly, it is like smokers are at war with society using their litter as weapons.  In fact, cigarettes have many things in common with weapons; weapons hurt people, are dangerous, leave bullet shells on the ground (like leaving cigarette butts on the ground), and leave smoke in the air. When smokers are done smoking they just leave their cigarette butts on the ground. The world is not their ashtray. Smokers can’t just drop their weapons (cigarette butts) on the ground like it doesn’t matter. It does matter! When I am walking in New York, I can’t help but notice the cigarette butts that cover the street. I mean they really aren’t that hard to miss. Every step I take, I step on a part of a weapon. It’s like they are part of the sidewalk. Like they are supposed to be there. In my eyes I see the ground as if it is a battlefield covered in debris left from weapons after war. Hence, cigarette butts are slowly covering and destroying planet earth’s surface. The beautiful green plants and the magnificent oceans are being turned into people’s ashtrays, contaminated by these weapons. Therefore, smokers are at war with the places where they live and are contaminating the society around them.

When smokers smoke in public they are not only affecting themselves, but the people around them, planet earth, and children. Stop smoking in public and the world will become a better, safer place.

Animals Have a Soul, Don’t Put Them In Your Bowl: Why People Shouldn’t Eat Meat by Catherine Houde

“If you were stranded on an island, and to survive you had to eat meat, would you?” I have been asked this question in my life more times then I can remember, and my answer is yes. Humans would do almost anything to survive in a foreign and dangerous place. My question for you is, if you lived in a place where you didn’t have to harm innocent animals to survive and be healthy, would you choose not to eat them? For most meat eaters out there I’m guessing that the answer is no. Most people eat meat because they think it tastes good, but at the cost of a living breathing creature, is it worth it?

First, a vegetarian diet is one of the best ways to have a healthy diet. Plants are full of everything you need to live a healthy and happy life without taking the life of an innocent animal. According to the American Dietetic Association, “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” On top of that, many studies have proven that in America, vegetarians have better health rates than carnivores. I have been a vegetarian all my life, and I have never had anything more than a common cold that lasted a day or two. You can get everything you need from a vegetarian diet.
Despite this, some might say that meat has a good nutritional value. Meat has a good amount of protein in it. Although, this may be true, meat is not the best way to get protein. Things like dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds have a lot of protein also. The organization One Green Planet says ¨Here’s the facts. We need to eat foods that supply us with the nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own. Some plant-based foods have all of them (quinoa, buckwheat, soy, chia and hempseed) while others have a mix of some and not others. As long as foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables are consumed daily, you’re getting everything you need and more.¨ Furthermore, plants are the best way to get protein because you don’t need to kill an animal to get it.

Secondly, you will prevent cruelty to animals. Most people eat meat because they say it tastes good. Did you know that some animals in the US are treated so horribly that they are trapped inside a factory, in a small container where they can’t even turn around? How good does that piece of meat really taste when you know that poor cow or pig may have never even seen the light of day? How good does that meat really taste when you know an animal was viciously slaughtered just so you could have a burger. For Example, AnimalEquality – a website dedicated to animal rights-says “Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans. These shocking figures do not even include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tons.” We are killing very intelligent, living, breathing animals everyday just so we can have their meat. We have no right to take whatever we want and not care what we have to do to get it. If we were in their shoes it would be awful. Kept in a small area, being fed extra food to fatten you up just so you can be a nice big blob of meat on someone’s plate. Being raised just so you can get murdered. We should start treating these animals with respect, and letting them live a happy life as long as they should live.

Finally, producing livestock is one of the largest drivers of habitat loss. The more animals we are raising for food the more farmers expand their farms to increase the amount of cattle they can have. When they extend their property they are clearing trees and other places animals call home. Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at Bard College in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York, who studies how human diets affect the environment, says. “Now we can say, only slightly fancifully: You eat a steak, you kill a lemur in Madagascar. You eat a chicken, you kill an Amazonian parrot.” That’s because species-rich habitats are being converted to pastures and feed crops as the human appetite for meat swells.” When you take away habitats of animals their species suffer. The population of earth is going up everyday which means we have a lot of people to provide food for. The more people on earth, the more food people eat, and most of the population is carnivores which means farmers need to increase their amount of live stock. To support all that livestock they need a bigger farm, and to create a bigger farm they need to clear land. Most of that land they are clearing is home to creatures that are going to become extinct if we keep taking away their homes. The less meat we eat the more species we are saving.

Moreover, eating meat is not a good way to help yourself or the planet. Sure, you may get a tasty meal, but is that meal worth all the suffering animals and people? To get one step closer towards the goal of a healthier world, try dialing back the meat. If you can’t make a change for the animals then make a change for yourself and your health. We need to stop hurting the earth and ourselves because we don’t care, and start helping, anyway we can.

Driving into our autonomous future: Are self driving cars to be trusted? by Jack Mehlman

Control– the power to influence or direct behavior. As a human race, we often strive for control, whether it’s at work, school, or most importantly, driving. Control gives us a sense of safety and comfort knowing that we are in charge. But what happens when we give up control to computers and unreliable software? We are in the middle of a new era, one where technology controls most everything, and everyday things like cars are changing before our eyes. According to Car and Driver magazine, mostly everyone will own a self driving car by 2025. These cars will have virtually no controls except for a keypad to type in your destination. Already, we are starting to see cars with self driving capabilities such as the well known Tesla Model S, but there have been malfunctions resulting in life threatening accidents. It all comes down to this, are we going to hand control over to technology, and trust it with our lives? I think self driving cars should never be allowed on the road, and here are some reasons why…

Autonomous cars are just like any other piece of technology– they can malfunction. There are often times, when using technology, that the screen glitches or freezes. This situation can also occur in the software installed in autonomous cars. These glitches within the cars can cause accidents that can be potentially life-threatening. Now I’m not going to lie, not having to drive three hours every weekend to my ski house sounds pretty nice, but getting into an accident does not sound appealing. For instance, multi-billion dollar car company Uber has been looking into self driving cars for a while now, and still has not been able to have a successful drive. In addition, According to Popular Mechanics Magazine, the autonomous Uber cars can only go 0.8 of a mile at max without a safety driver taking over the wheel. Recent crashes caused by software failure have made Uber temporarily “ground” its fleet of Volvo XC90 SUVs. Imagine a scenario: You’re driving down the highway in your new Tesla, the sunroof open, the cool breeze in your hair. After working a long day at the office you decide to sit back, switch on self driving mode, and watch some Netflix. Suddenly, the seventeen inch screen on your dashboard turns into a TV. Unaware of your surroundings, you didn’t notice that eighteen wheeler slowly merging into your lane, your sedan out of view to the driver. Just as you feel a nudge on your side, you look into the mirror and see the truck. As you try to brake, the car keeps on going, locked into its set path. Five minutes later, you find yourself sitting on the curb of route twenty, luckily escaping the totaled car with your life. Of course, there is a small percent chance that this would happen, but there is still always a chance. This all goes back to the car’s software, and the fact that technology is unpredictable.

Secondly, self driving cars can easily be hacked. Their software is no different from any other household technology. I mean, how creepy is that? Some random stranger can control your car from his computer. Hacking into cars can present serious security threats and danger to the passengers. In a self driving car, everything is controlled electronically opening the door for countless hackers. Do we really want to take the chances? It would take billions of dollars to create an unhackable system per car! Do you have that kind of money? I don’t think so. There have already been incidents where cars have been hacked, and we don’t even have full self driving cars yet! To demonstrate my point, Car and Driver Magazine did a test where they gave permission for a pro-hacker to hack into a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s software system. From his computer, the hacker was able to access the car’s infotainment system, brakes, speed, and even steering. The same software in that Jeep is also installed in millions of other Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram vehicles. See how easy it is? And that car only had partial self-driving capabilities. Luckily the driver was able to override the hacker by tugging on the steering wheel, but imagine when cars don’t have steering wheels? What are you going to do then? There are plenty of scary things regarding technology, but hackers are by far the worst, especially when they are in control of your car!

Lastly, in a self driving car– you can’t drive, and what fun is that? While you might feel that driving is boring, In reality, the thrill of your foot on the pedal as you accelerate, or the strong grip on your steering wheel are both feelings that you can only find while driving. Not on your living room couch. Now, why do you think I brought up your living room? Well, in a self driving car, you don’t do anything. In fact, the only difference from your home and an autonomous car is that your home has a bathroom. You basically just sit there tediously staring at your phone until you arrive at your destination, and you can’t drive because you’re in a self driving car. This sounds pretty obvious but it’s true. In fact, lots of people enjoy driving, and I’m not talking about your commute to work, I’m talking about those beautiful winding roads in the mountains. Driving gives people a chance to take their mind off all the hard stuff in life, while also providing an exciting thrill. Do you really want to be cooped up in a glass box doing nothing for hours on end? Because I sure don’t! According to Huffpost, driving can release stress when you’re in the right environment. When filming Skyfall (James Bond film) Ben Collins, a racing driver, said: “When we filmed Skyfall I drove an Aston Martin DB5 across a mountain pass near Fort William before handing the keys over to 007. That car, with its yacht-like steering wheel and soft suspension, took me closer to heaven than anything I can remember.” Driving really should be treasured, not taken away by computers. If computers controlled our cars with no way for us to take the wheel, we would lose the pleasure, relaxation, and stress relief included in drives like Ben Collins’ in the windy mountain roads. Companies like Tesla can not take that away from us.

And it all comes down to this word: control– the power to influence or direct behavior. Yes, some people want cars that will drive them around, but is that really necessary? We as humans are getting so lazy that we can’t even drive ourselves, so some “genius” came up with the idea to make an autonomous car. I’m honestly worried about our future. Throughout this article, we’ve seen the many risks that follow “the driverless road,” and have explored the upsides of pure human intelligence. And i’ll end with this: Do we want our cars to be controlled by technology and artificial intelligence?– Or do we want the control for ourselves?

Once and Floral: Why Flowers Might Not Be the Ideal Gift by Isabel Xue

It’s the day before Mother’s Day, and of course, like everybody else, you want to get your mom –the most common, most unimaginative, most cliché gift ever– flowers. You and your dad sneak out of the house like two little mice, in hopes to obtain a bouquet of flowers, not cheese. After driving to the nearest grocery store, you quickly dash to the flower section, your father not too far behind you. “Hurry up! Pick one that is not too expensive!” he says. You quickly browse through the price tags, looking for the cheapest but still somewhat alluring bouquet of flowers. To your dismay, all of the blossoms are pricey, so you choose the cheapest one. Later in the day, you present the bouquet to your mom. She smiles and thanks you, only to put the flowers in a vase, and not pay any more attention to them. They die almost as quickly as they are forgotten. Flowers might be known as the most romantic gift ever, but does that status make it a good gift?

Many people believe that flowers are a good gift because for many many years, these beautiful blossoms have been a universal symbol of love, and have been known as the most romantic gift ever. Everybody gives their loved ones flowers during holidays to show their affection and bolster their relationship, and nobody puts any thought into a more unique present that comes from the heart. Because of this, flowers have become hands down the most unoriginal gift ever. Cliché and romance come in a package, yet in this case, one of those elements overrides the other. Neither the recipient nor the gift-giver would be proud of such an unoriginal gift. To illustrate this, according to ProFlowers, around 110 million roses are sold in the US during Valentine’s Day. This means that around 30% of the population buys flowers for the holiday. Presents that symbolize love should be unique to each individual person. Flowers are from a store that anyone could go to, so anybody could buy the exact same flower. Moreover, people are more proud of giving a gift that they put a lot of time and effort into. Everyone can agree that driving to the grocery store does not show much time and effort. I would definitely say that even though cliché and romance come hand in hand, it seems as if the bad side of flowers shows through more than the good side does.

Another reason that flowers are not the best gift is that they die and are forgotten quickly, yet they cause havoc to the environment. For instance, regular roses live for an average of only a week. But from personal experience, I know that flowers become a decoration on display and tend to be forgotten after a couple hours. Another similar example is from my friend, Ashley, who remembers one time when she received a bouquet of flowers. Ashley told me that she instantly put them in a vase and forgot about them. They died two days later, but they weren’t really missed. Ashley’s flower experience shows that I’m not the only who thinks this way. It is clear that giving flowers to someone is not an action that resonates in their heart. Nobody seems to really love these bouquets as a gift. So, why is there such a demanding threat on Mother Nature for these ephemeral blossoms? According to Jennifer Grayson, an environmental journalist for the Washington Post, “up to 80 percent of the 5.6 billion stems of flowers sold in the United States each year are imported. Of those, 93 percent are grown thousands of miles away in production greenhouses in Colombia or Ecuador. And it takes an awful lot of energy and artificial tinkering to keep those flowers fresh.” Flowers are originally soaked in toxic chemicals, thus making them not only harmful towards the environment, but the people working around there too. Afterwards, to preserve the blossoms while they are shipped, they are kept in high energy-wasting refrigerated warehouses and displays(Grayson). The environment already faces enough struggles. Producing a plethora amount of flowers that will soon end up dying and getting forgotten is not something that should be a problem.
Finally, everybody assumes that a girl likes flowers; a common stereotype is that girls treasure these bouquets. This causes many people to believe flowers are the perfect gift for girls. For example, nobody would ever think of giving my brother flowers. As for me, I always receive bouquets for occasions, although nobody asked me if that was what I wanted. Why? I’m a girl who should adore these beautiful blossoms. After all, everybody quotes, “flowers are a girl’s best friend.” But after polling my friends on their prefered gift, it turns out that only one person prefered the floral arrangement. So, what was a more favorable present? Many respondents seemed to find cookies and chocolate more impressive. Teachers all tell us to try to get rid of stereotypes. Presenting a girl an unsolicited bouquet is basically a hidden way of saying, “you are a girl so you have to like flowers.” If someone did say something along those lines to your face, you would be pretty offended. Everyone has their own unique personality, and nobody should assume they would enjoy a certain gift because of a stereotype. A bouquet of flowers might come with a smile, but with no feeling behind it, the blossoms are just based on a stereotypical assumption.

Flowers are everybody’s go to gift, but with a deeper analysis, these bouquets may not seem as pleasant as we thought they were. If you veer away from the flower aisle the next time you go to the grocery store to get your loved one a gift, you may find new discoveries that you wouldn’t have made if you stuck with the standard. Perhaps you’ll make her a very nice card with a beautiful necklace. Maybe you’ll bake her cookies with a special recipe that you invented yourself. When you give the gift to her, no matter what it is, you’ll be satisfied with the wide grin that spreads across her face and lights up the room. Even if it’s not perfect, your loved one will still treasure the gift because you put the time and effort to show that you care about her. Flowers may be a charming superficial decoration, but a gift that someone truly appreciates is one that touches the heart.

How Languages Tranform Individuals into Communities By Jennie Rosen

Hello, salve (latin), guten tag (german) , こんにちは (japanese) , שלום (hebrew), hola (spanish) . Languages are such a big part of this world – they can transform you. Languages can help if you want a job: you can get more job offers if you fluent a second language. Some languages can also help your English. Latin is very good to learn, especially if you want to do well on the SAT. You can also learn more about other people’s culture. Lately, people look at the news and they believe everthing it says. They blame a whole culture based on a small group of people. If you learn another language it would help you understand that culture better. You can also study abroad if you want. and you would be able to communicate with others. Languages bring people together. People can be afraid of what is different, but why can’t you be friends with what’s different then you? If you take off your blinders and look at the world in a different way you can learn so much. You should not just rely on TV to tell you something. You should go out into the world and figure it out yourself. Learning different languages is a start, and it can help you on your journey to discovering the world.

Top 10 Ways Not to get Sick this Winter! By Jenna Brandaleone and Jennie Rosen

 

Sleep

Going to bed works! You may hate going to bed early, but you should know that a good night’s rest is all you need to help your body fight (and win against) germs!
Wash your hands…

We have all heard it. “Remember to always wash your hands!”, but we should really listen to it more often. Washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds can send the germs down the drain.
Stay warm…

Ever thought about going outside in your pajamas when it was below freezing? Maybe you have, but staying warm is a key factor to staying healthy. So just remember that next time you wear your pajamas outside, you are really just waving a sign that says, “GERMS! I AM OVER HERE!”.

Don’t Share drinks or foods…

Other people might have yummy food and awesome drinks, but don’t give into to those temptations! A lot of sicknesses and illnesses are caused by sharing saliva of another person. Even if the person says that they are not sick, they might still have germs! Just because symptoms don’t show up for two days, doesn’t mean they aren’t sick!
Be Clean…

Not only can a clean house or living space make awesome first impressions, but it can also keep you from getting sick! Germs can hide anywhere but more often than not, most of those times start outside of your home and then come into it. Germs can live in the dust under your couch or even just plain and dirty messes. It might be a pain to clean up, but make sure you and your homes are CLEAN!!
Stay away from people who are sick…

Ever have that repulsed feeling from that kid who snots all over your desk in class? I know I have. Besides the natural urge of moving away from them, it is important to know that having any physical touch with a person that is sick is putting you at a very high risk of being the snot-blowing-on-the-desk-kid.
Keep your hands away from your face…

Imagine all the bacteria that is invisible on your hands. This is bacteria that is prepared to fight a war with your body. It wants to win and makes you sick in the process. Well, you are actually helping this bad bacteria take control of your body when you are giving them a tour of all the ways to get inside of your body. Don’t put your hands on your face! These places are the grand doors for the bacteria to get inside your body.
Drink lots of liquids…

From drinking tea, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, or water all of these choices are good ones to keep you germ-free!
Meditate… It might be a little awkward at first, but once you get the hang of meditation it can be relaxing. It can keep you nice and healthy too. It is scientifically proven that meditation can make you happier and a healthier person.
Exercise…


Keep your body strong! If your body is strong, your immune system is too. Your immune system is all the parts of your body that fight back bad germs. REMEMBER: EVERY PUSH-UP MATTERS!

So go ahead! Try anyone of these tricks and tips and see if they work for you! BE happy AND healthy during this winter!