A Deplorable Political Revolution

Brexit. Trump. Bernie.

Whether it’s Boris Johnson in England — whose UKIP led the misleading and unfortunate movement to separate the country from the EU — or Bernie Sanders — whose “revolution” ended in successfully pushing his party’s platform much farther left than Hillary Clinton probably would have liked — the political world is being seized by radically different candidates and movements.

With the force of young people and the chronically disadvantaged behind them, these movements have the potential to not only drive our world forward on issues like education, justice reform and women’s rights, they also reveal deeply entrenched divisions and long-harbored hatreds in societies around the world.

Donald Trump took the GOP by storm and bent the entire party to his will while garnering only 46 percent of the GOP primary votes. His rise to the top of “The Party of Lincoln” was an exercise in opposites, with the candidate garnering the most votes, for and against him, of any candidate in U.S. primary election history.

Political experts all over the spectrum have composed a similar narrative in talking about Trump, Brexit, and Bernie. At first, they dismissed them as fads or hoaxes faced with insurmountable odds.
“How could Jeb Bush lose?” said right-wing talk-show host, Rush Limbaugh. “British citizens will see the light!”

“Hillary’s coronation is all but guaranteed,” said The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.

Look where we are now.

But pundits aren’t the issue here. They couldn’t have seen the populations of people who are the backbones of these movements: the liberal college students across America who led the Bernie or Bust movement; the economically depressed, conservative, white racist population in England who is tired of a faceless international organization stealing their hard-earned tax dollars to save Syrian refugees, or the similar populations in America who want to “Make America Great Again.”

Disenchanted blocs of voters have always existed in some number, but now they have spaces, like Twitter, and figureheads, like Donald or Bernie, through which they have made their opinions known—deplorable as those may be.

A revolution of this type and scope has taken years to come about and it will be a while until the effects fully materialize. Years of political and economic dissatisfaction have resulted in this enormous population of people with a distrust for “the establishment” — politicians, corporations and our world as a whole.

Emotions are running so strong that these traditionally-centrist and satisfied people are able to abandon some or all of their values; they have turned to people like Trump, Sanders, or Johnson as a way of voicing their displeasures.

Liberals, like me, may still be in disbelief at people who want to build a wall, defund Planned Parenthood and restrict which bathrooms we can use. But this is our reality now, and our democracy must adapt as it always has.

Although putting them in a basket and calling them deplorable might seem effective and necessary, how much progress have we ever gotten with that approach?

What the mainstreaming of bigotry has done is create a shift in our overall political climate. But the fundamentals of our democracy remain. And, as we should with any new ideological group that gains power in that democracy, all factions of America must work together to craft meaningful legislation that benefits the majority.

Bernie supporters rally in Greensboro on September 13, 2015. Photo courtesy Julia Klein

A Gamble that Doesn’t pay Off

Underfunding of North Carolina schools is not a new issue, no matter how fresh and exciting the topic may seem based on recent movements and the gubernatorial election. In 2006, the state ranked 45th out of 51 (including DC) for raising teacher salary, according to the National Education Association.

One possible solution was the NC Education Lottery, but how does the lottery affect NC schools today, and are there drawbacks?

At the lottery’s creation in 2006, proponents, including former governor Mike Easley, promised that the program would add an extra half a billion dollars every year towards education.  

As of June 2016, the lottery generated over $4.6 billion. Of that sum, Orange County was awarded $46,067,044 in total, including $7,285,302 last year. But today the state spends less per pupil than before the lottery was instated.

One possible reason for the decrease in spending, despite an increase in revenue, is that sometimes lottery money simply replaces other sources of revenue such as corporate income tax.  

In 2012, the General Assembly lowered corporate income tax after it was removed from the budget for the construction of new schools and replaced by lottery funds.

Further, critics believe the lottery to be its own kind of “tax” on the poor, because poor individuals are more likely to spend and lose money on tickets.

Business Insider reported that, across all states, when the economy goes down, lottery revenue goes up.  At the height of the 2008 recession, 22 states set record high lottery sales, and spending on the NC Education Lottery is highest in the poorest counties. Why? When individuals can’t afford traditional forms of investment, like stock, they see cheap lottery tickets as their own form of investment.  

A 2004 study by Garrick Blalock, David R. Just, and Daniel H. Simon reported that in California, around 75 percent of players who made less than $30,000 a year said they play the lottery for money instead of fun, while only percent of players making over this margin said the same to be true.

And although possible earnings are huge, an investment of this sort is not likely to pay out.  The chances of winning top prizes have been calculated as one in one million in some draws.

The lottery may not actually be responsible for lower spending on education compared to before the lottery began; these decreases could only be evidence of a larger, more deeply-rooted trend.

Spending on education in general has been steadily decreasing since the 1980s.   Education made up 43.7% of the state budget in 1984, 42% in 1994, 41.1% in 2004, and 37% in 2014.  

But whatever the reason for the budget cuts, many school districts are now forced to choose between raising taxes or working with limited resources.

While the lottery does claim to invest 95% of their profit back in the state in forms  of prizes and educational investments, the game is simply another form of income for the government. In 2011, the General Assembly covered a shortage in Medicaid funding by using $26 million of lottery winnings, inciting controversy.  

Both gubernatorial candidates, Pat McCrory (R) and Roy Cooper (D) show support for allocating more of the lottery’s revenue towards education.

Regardless of possible misuse of funds on the part of elected officials, some members of the public support the lottery and its attempt to strengthen public education.

“I appreciate what the lottery does for education and I think about it a lot. It means a lot that when people buy tickets, someone down the street could get an education from it,” said Michael Pepper, who won one million dollars playing Powerball, and whose quote is displayed on the Education Lottery’s home page.  

But this is a quote from someone who won big.  It’s harder to see or care about those who lose, because their losses are small in comparison to prizes that amount to more than many residents make in a year.  Yet no matter how spread out, across school districts serving thousands or poor communities home to tens or hundreds of thousands, these losses add up quickly.

Photo courtesy WXII News

Will North Carolina Decide The Presidential Election?

The North Carolina electorate, boosted by recent demographic changes, is an important state in the presidential election. In general elections prior to 2008, NC was described as a “flyover state” between Florida and Ohio—states which have traditionally been vital to a candidate’s success. But in this year’s election, NC is the sixth most likely “tipping point state,” according to the political statistics website, FiveThirtyEight.

In the battle for 270 Electoral College votes (the minimum amount a candidate needs to win the election,) several battleground states play an outside role in determining the election’s outcome. Battleground states have demographics that can allow either party to win the state.

Whichever candidate wins NC will receive all fifteen of the state’s votes, accounting for 2.8% of the total electoral vote. Though fifteen votes may seem insignificant, it’s the ability of either candidate to win the election.

According to the Real Clear Politics polling average, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 0.8 percentage points, 44.3%-43.5%. If the election were held today, that would make NC’s race the closest in the country.

Prior to the 2008 election, NC was considered a solidly Republican state—George W. Bush won with 56% of the vote in 2000. However, after more than a million people from the Northeast moved to suburban NC, Barack Obama won NC in 2008 by a 0.03% margin. In 2012’s Obama-Romney election, Romney narrowly took the state back for Republicans.

NC’s electorate is more diverse than the country as a whole, due to the aforementioned mini-migration of Northerners, as well as a swelling of the Black population in NC. This newfound diversity has contributed to NC’s attractiveness as a campaign target.

Donald Trump makes at least one visit to NC each week. For the Republican nominee, NC is a “must win state,” The News and Observer said.

Hillary Clinton’s director of battleground strategy, Michael Hall, similarly emphasizes the importance of NC in the race to 270. The Democratic nominee also makes trips to the state at least once a week, and either she or her running mate, Tim Kaine, will make an event appearance.

Although NC’s winner garners only fifteen Electoral College votes, the state gains considerable attention in the general election due to its above-average diversity. Democrats have only recently broken through years of Republican domination, and it is the closest state contest in this presidential cycle by a large margin.

Trump versus Clinton. Photo courtesy The Express Tribune

Mrs. Barry’s Class Connects with Superintendent Causby

A seasoned group of elected and appointed officials joined the Carrboro learning experience this fall. As an interactive component for their unit on elections and government, System Level teacher Melissa Barry invited several respected community leaders to speak to her class about real-world implications including division of power among various government levels, voting and occupational responsibilities.

Mrs. Barry’s class of six students welcomed five guests in September, including Lydia Lavelle, Carrboro Town Mayor, and Dr. Jim Causby, Interim Superintendent of CHCCS. The guest speakers aided in students’ understanding of the difference between elected and appointed officials among numerous other political concepts.

Two of Mrs. Barry’s students will vote for the first time this November. A goal of this program is to teach how one vote influences the lives of individuals and the life of the community at large.

“What I look for as a teacher is: how can I make the concept as functional, practical and relevant as possible? We want to help students understand that when they vote for a candidate, there is a ‘ripple effect’ that can directly impact their lives,” said Barry.

Dr. Jim Causby enlightened CHS students about his connection to state and local government during his visit on September 9th. As superintendent, Causby was appointed under a four-year contract by elected officials on the local Board of Education. Causby explained that the role of a superintendent involves making decisions in regard to school buildings, classes and staff, further emphasizing the idea that voting for a candidate influences a wide array of people and functions.

Senior Lucia Romano thoroughly enjoyed meeting and learning from all of the guest speakers. “I like when they talk about their jobs and what they do,” she said.

Students generated a list of questions prior to Dr. Causby’s visit and were each given an opportunity to share their inquiries and practice their communication skills. Causby responded to questions ranging in topic from job inspiration to favorite food, birthplace and even favorite NBA team from the 1970’s (response: the Chicago Bulls).

In his fifth role as a superintendent, Causby advanced his career position to education administration after teaching multiple grade levels and coaching middle school basketball and track. Originally from Marion, North Carolina, Dr. Causby shared with Mrs. Barry’s class about his experiences working with school systems in 47 different states before joining the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community.

When asked about his aspirations for change in the CHCCS school system, Causby didn’t hesitate to respond.

“If I could instantly change anything with the wave of a magic wand, I would do away with the achievement gap – any inequities – to make sure everyone is treated fairly,” he said.

Mrs. Barry’s class continues to serve as a model for active learning as occupational preparation and life skills are of central value in and outside of their classroom. To Barry, learning should be centered around preparation for life and community service.

“I always want our students to know that they can have a positive impact in their community,” she said. “If every student can graduate knowing that they matter, and that they can impact our world in a positive way, then I think we’ve done our job.”

Ernest Moniz (left) and Max Van Name (middle) speak with Dr. Jim Causby (right.) Photo courtesy Melissa Barry

Clinton’s Mental Illness Itinerary

On August 29, Hillary Clinton released a plan to integrate a stronger mental health system within the US. According to Clinton’s website, the plan consists of six main points containing specific plans for implementation. She also pledges to hold a White House conference on psychological health if elected president.

Debates between Clinton and Trump have dominated the media this election, and some argue that policy issues such as the mental health plan have been lost in the chaos.

The plan prioritizes six main goals: prevention, community treatment, treatment options over punishment, equality in mental health, housing and job access and psychiatric research. Each goal contains specific applications and examples.

A major part of Clinton’s plan emphasizes mental illness within schools and contains specific goals to ensure education along with mental health care for young people.

“Last year, for concussion baseline, testing we took a survey and I scored an 18/21 on the anxiety portion,” an anonymous CHS student said. “All of my anxiety [comes] from school work and grades.”

Such concerns within CHS are part of a bigger issue: “17 percent [of high schoolers] considered attempting suicide in the last year, with 8 percent actually attempting it,” said Clinton’s campaign website.

Mental Health America’s website ranks North Carolina as the eighteenth best state for adult mental well-being. But this number falls to 36th for NC’s youth population.

The candidate’s plan specifies the need for students of color and LGBT students to receive care. Since they often go without proper psychological help, these pupils are at a higher risk for suicide than others.

Clinton aims to teach future generations about the importance of mental health and prevent mental illness early to lessen the need for aid. This includes a suicide prevention initiative, which specifically targets suicide in high school and college.

Planning to work with the Department of Education to further mental health education in schools, Clinton emphasizes the importance of suicide prevention early on. “Hillary will direct the Department of Education to emphasize mental health literacy in middle and high schools…” said Clinton’s website. “[She] will work with regional and national PTA, school counselor associations, and associations of secondary school principals to encourage school districts to adopt this model policy.”

Another major part of Clinton’s new policy is enforcing clinical treatment for offenders with mental disorders. She proposes a plan to educate police officers in mental illness response, as well as to prioritize help for non-violent lawbreakers rather than punish them.

According to Clinton’s site, over 50 percent of convicts have mental health issues. Even more convicts fit the medical standards for addiction. She intends to lower these statistics by reducing mental disorders and the number of non-violent incarcerations.

Although this new agenda is barely spoken about, it could have a major impact on the lives of mentally ill people and the future of the criminal justice system.

Clinton addresses her supporters at her rally. Photo courtesy news-photos-features.com.

Shots Spur Protests

Protests in Charlotte have been continuous since the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott on September 20. Violent protests followed the shooting, leading to 40 police arrests. North Carolina’s governor is implementing a 12:00am curfew for the people who live in Charlotte.

Police officers were in the parking lot of the Village of College Downs apartment complex, looking for someone unrelated to the shooting. They apparently noticed Scott exiting his vehicle with a handgun, then getting back into his car. When the officers approached him, he returned to his vehicle but did not comply with the officers’ requests.

Charlotte police withheld the video footage of Scott’s shooting for fear of disturbing his family. When the footage was released, it did not show Scott holding a handgun or acting aggressively. Officer Brently Vinson, who shot Scott, has been put on paid leave.

While there was no handgun present in the video footage, there have been photos released of a handgun holding Scott’s DNA. There were also photos of a marijuana blunt found at the scene.  

“It is well within your political right to protest, so I don’t think personally as far as any legal consequences there is nothing I could do to stop you.” Said Officer Mayfield when asked about the issues of protests. “As far as I’m concerned, I would just make sure all of you are all safe for one, and two that there weren’t any major incidents where it broke into a fight.”

Angry Charlotte residents flooded the streets. In the first two nights after the shooting, the streets of Charlotte saw vandalism, violence and injuries. After the curfew was put into place, the protesters became more peaceful. Police have since allowed them to stay out after curfew.

The protests started out aggressive, but as the police officers attempted to control the demonstrators, they became peaceful. Police shot tear gas and fired flash grenades at the protestors in order to maintain control.

“I was very upset that such a horrible thing had happened in my city, but the response that the city had was amazing. Overall, most of the protests were peaceful and supported by most of the city.” Aubrey Hill, a high schooler at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, said.

Protests break out in Charlotte. Photo courtesy CNN.com

When Computers Choose who Lives and who Dies

Two cars are heading towards each other on a narrow bridge. Their brakes are failing, and they each have two options: swerve or continue straight. If both cars do the same thing, both drivers die. But if one swerves off the bridge and the other doesn’t, one driver lives. In most cases, the drivers will both choose to do nothing and both die. But what if they don’t have a choice?

With the arrival of self-driving cars, which are controlled by computers rather than people, this choice of what to do in the case of an imminent crash could no longer be for the driver to make.
Instead, life and death decisions may be determined by a so-called “death algorithm” downloaded into the car at its construction.

In July, the owner of a Tesla died when his vehicle, set to autopilot, failed to brake and collided with a trailer-truck. He was not driving, and some consumer advocates argue Tesla should be held responsible.

With the fast pace of technological innovations, we are destined to see more and more self-driving car on the roads in the near future. Many will still have aspects that allow humans to override autonomous control, but the cars will eventually be forced to make more choices about imminent collisions.
Soon, autonomous cars will be able to communicate information with each other, such as how many passengers each has and who those passengers are, in fractions of a second, and then act accordingly.

But do you choose who lives and who dies based off this information, and how?
What if one of the cars on the bridge contained a family of six, and the other a single passenger? A convicted felon in one, and the President in another?

I know these scenarios are hypothetical, but self-driving cars are here. I am not a philosopher nor any kind of expert in morality, but someone will have to answer these questions before autonomous cars become widely available. So here’s what I believe.

The minute we start attaching different values to different lives, we cross the moral line. Call me unsympathetic, but I do not care if the crash is going to be between a schoolbus of children and a bus of inmates on death row; a life is a life. There cannot be a grey area.

We could ask the algorithm to save as many lives as possible, even if it meant suicide for certain cars. But who would buy a car they knew could choose to kill them? How would you feel if someone close to you died because their vehicle was on track to collide with a group who happened to carpool that day?
That leaves a last option: the algorithm is told to always act in the best interest of its own passengers. More lives would be lost, but this is the way we drive now. We prioritize ourselves. We cannot swerve off the bridge.

If you look in terms of the bigger picture, we are selfish. But that’s ok. Self-preservation is what makes us human. The value we put on our own lives is not wrong; rather, it is what distinguishes us from the technology we build.

Computers don’t have instincts or emotions. They’re highly analytical and able prioritize society over the individual with ease. Which unsettles us, rightly.

Whatever your opinion, try to think about these things now rather than later. Write to Congress (if you believe the government should have a role in regulating death algorithms), Google, Tesla; make these decisions about your life and the lives of those around you rather than leave them up manufacturers of self-driving cars.

As our world becomes more technologically advanced, we will need to figure out how exactly we want this world to look. Computers cannot think on their own (yet), so we are the ones who get tell them what to do. Let’s make sure we’re telling them the right things, whatever you interpret that to be.

Senior Paige Watson lets her car do all the driving. Photo by Mireille Leone

Carrboro High Keeps the Hive Alive

Carrboro High School’s newest addition will play a significant role in various classrooms and clubs.

But the newcomers are not freshmen; they are bees. Environmental science teacher Stefan Klakovich is among several teachers and students who welcome their arrival. “The bees found us,” he said.

The Orange County Beekeepers Association serves to promote beekeeping and protect local hives. They do so by installing hives in public areas to increase awareness. The public and calm environment of CHS seemed an ideal area for installation. So when John Rintoul of the OCBA reached out to the school, Klakovich was eager to accommodate the bees. “I just jumped at the opportunity,” Klakovich said.

Klakovich plans to integrate the bees into his lessons on ecosystem services, a term to describe environmental benefits for humans. According to Rintoul, bees are vital for food production, with one-third of human food consumption reliant on pollinators.

Dr. Raymond Thomas, a CHS science teacher, says bees are also financially beneficial. Regarding their monetary value, Thomas said, “they contribute to U.S agriculture over $30 billion annually.”

Despite the species’ benefits, bee advocates argue they are misunderstood. Though viewed as aggressive, honey bees are a defensive species according to Rintoul and Thomas. Yellow jacket and wasp stings are often mistaken for bee stings, Rintoul explained.

Some misunderstandings prove harmful to bees. Pesticide use, a common human activity, can kill large bee populations. In response to the recent Zika epidemics, pesticides are increasingly prevalent. This September, millions of South Carolina bees died following mass pesticide sprays.

Senior Rodrigo Dubon hopes to counter such incidences. During his junior year, he started the CHS Bee Club. The club’s mission is to raise awareness of the species’ importance, as well as the dangers bees face. “If more people learn to appreciate the crucial roles that bees have in our environments, then maybe they’d be willing to step up and… help stop the gradual decline of their population,” Dubon said via email.

Before CHS housed hives, the Bee Club had limited options. Dubon is excited for the opportunities the bees bring to campus. “Since the hives are permanent, students will be able to get some hands-on experience with bees,” he said

Students looking to learn more about beehives are encouraged to join the Bee Club. Anyone interested in beekeeping can attend the OCBA Bee School, starting in January. Scholarships will be awarded to two or three students, and the application process begins in November.

John Rintoul, Katie Knotek and Sarah Brennum interact with bees. Photo by Mireille Leone

The Equality Issue No One Talks About

In today’s economy, a woman is paid seventy-nine cents for every dollar a man makes. That difference – the extra twenty-one cents males are paid for having a Y chromosome – is called the “gender pay gap.”

One of the core ideals of the United States is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. The idea is to give everyone the same tools, then it’s up to the individual to achieve what he or she can with them. Today, only white males (like myself) are granted the full set of freedoms that our country supposedly gives everyone.

The gender pay gap has existed ever since women entered the workforce after World War II. In the 1960, women were paid forty cents less than men. That means in the last fifty years, we have cut the gap by a measly twenty cents.

If women aren’t given the same opportunity that men are to make money, how can the U.S. brag about freedom and equality for all? For the U.S. to continue as the beacon of democracy and fairness we love to think of ourselves as, fixing the gender pay gap ought to be a top priority.

The question remains: how do we fix the gap? A good start would be outlawing pay inequality, but the U.S. has already tried that. In 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay act with the goal of “equal pay for equal work.” The law did create some success, as the twenty cent decrease in the pay gap since 1960 demonstrates.

However, the U.S. government does not have the ability to check the salaries of every company in the US for pay equality, so simply stating in law that women and men will be paid the same does not solve the issue.

A simple solution that would close the gap is a ban on negotiation for salaries. Men are, statistically, better negotiators than women. Fifty-seven percent of men ask for higher salaries than what is offered to them, but only 50% of women do the same, according to a Princeton study.

As a result, men start with higher salaries than women, so even if pay raises are the same for both genders, men make more money. By banning salary negotiation, starting salaries would be the same for every new employee at the company. Men would also benefit – not all males are comfortable negotiating, so a ban on salary negotiation would level the playing field for males as well.

Although most of us at Carrboro High School have never had to negotiate for a salary, almost all professional fields have salary negotiation at some level, meaning a good amount of CHS students will encounter it. The practice is antiquated and unfair – being a good negotiator does not mean you will be a good employee.

The issues that lead to discrimination are often deeply rooted in institutions and have no easy solution. The gender pay gap follows this trend. Banning salary negotiation will most likely not end the gap, but it will almost certainly close the difference between male and female salaries, pushing us closer to fulfilling our promise of equality and freedom for all.

Freshman Jordan Smith and Junior Chris Hodge represent the pay gap. Photo by Mireille Leone; photo illustration by Sofia Dimos

Blast to the Past: A Look Back at the First Four-Year Graduating Class of CHS

Two thousand and seven: the year Steve Jobs released the first iPhone, J.K. Rowling published the final installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President (and became a household name) and the chart-topping song was Umbrella by Rihanna.

As people prepared for the last Harry Potter book, or the newest technology, a handful of students in Carrboro and Chapel Hill prepared for their first day of a new school. In August of 2007, Carrboro High School opened its doors for the first time, welcoming a class of freshman and sophomores from Chapel Hill High. 2007 seems like a different world, but it wasn’t even ten years ago. As we come up on Carrboro’s tenth anniversary, we spoke with some of the first Carrboro graduates (class of 2010-2011) to see what they had to say about their experiences at CHS.

Adam Glasser

Currently: Working as a teacher assistant at a elementary school during the day and attending classes at NC State at night.

High school activities: Track, Cross Country, Basketball, and Lacrosse

Adam Glasser in High School before T Dance. Photo courtesy Adam Glasser.

Adam Glasser in High School before T Dance. Photo courtesy Adam Glasser.

What were some of your favorite memories from your time at Carrboro?

The pranks we pulled my senior year were memorable. Three of my buddies inadvertently set fire to the grass behind the school while setting off fireworks. This should be part of Carrboro history forever in my opinion. During senior week, we filled up what must have been thousands of cups full of water and covered the halls with them. The next morning, the seniors had to clean up the cups, which was probably a mistake on the administration’s part because we ended up sending waves of water into various math classrooms. Now that I am working at a school, I want to apologize for these shenanigans on behalf of the Class of 2011!

What are some defining characteristics of Carrboro?

I love how tight knit Carrboro was when I was a student there. I think I knew just about every face in the school (and almost every name). When I was living in San Francisco this past year, I went to the Bay Area’s “Official UNC vs. Duke Game Watch Party”. I recognized four other Jaguars that were at Carrboro with me when I was in high school. Even though we had graduated in different years, it was great catching up with them and bonding with them over our experiences as Carrboro students.

Anna Noone

Currently: Working for the legislative and public policy group at Arnold & Porter, a law firm in DC.

High school activities: Class council, Model UN, Spanish Honors Society

Anna Noone (middle) in high school. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.

Anna Noone (middle) in high school. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.

What were some of your favorite memories from your time at Carrboro?

I don’t know if they still do or allow this, but our class council had a lot of school lock ins and those were always so much fun. AP Bio (weird as this sounds) was another favorite. Before my junior year I took a trip to Spain with a group from the school which was amazing. Just generally though most of my best friends are my high school friends – so most of the time I spent there was great.

Anna Noone (right) this year with friends. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.

Anna Noone (right) this year with friends. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.

How do you think your time at Carrboro has influenced you today?

I did not realize while I was at Carrboro how important it was to have such an open, inclusive community that really rejected a lot of the types of prejudice you see in other similar schools. I found it to be very accepting but thought that was the norm until I spoke with people who had had very different experiences in high school, with more racism or homophobia or exclusive cliques. I think it made me a more confident person and more comfortable with myself than I may otherwise have been. Definitely don’t take that for granted.

Do you have any advice for this year’s graduating class, going through their senior year of high school right now?

Don’t take it for granted.  Senior year has the potential to be so much fun, but at the same time don’t go too crazy. Don’t stress too much about college; Carrboro High does about as good a job of preparing you for college as you can do. Take your AP exams seriously – you’ll love getting placed out of gen eds in college. It’s never too early to start planning ahead.

Abby Dennison

Currently: Moving back from a year in Paris and relocating to California, where she’s studying to become a French teacher at Stanford.

High school activities: Marching Band, Math team, Jagwire writer, JAG and SPOT

Abby Denison in a marching band outfit in high school. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.

Abby Denison in a marching band outfit in high school. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.

What are some defining characteristics of Carrboro?

What strikes me about Carrboro looking back is how much freedom we had. So many of the organizations, initiatives, and special events were nearly entirely student-run—it was a little like Lord of the Flies, except with really happy and positive outcomes. (So, I guess, not at all like Lord of the Flies…) It felt like we were really self-governed and self-directed. Because the school was new, students could start anything and everything. Really, nothing was impossible! And we had teachers who trusted us, cared about us, and encouraged us to dream big.

Carrboro was also a place of community action, where students and teachers alike were passionate about social causes, political reform, and big ideas. Pretty cool for a high school!  This, I know, hasn’t changed, and is part of the core of what Carrboro is. I hope that the community holds onto this; it has the power to be truly transformative for the students that pass through here.

Abby Denison in Paris this year. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.

Abby Denison in Paris this year. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.

How do you think your time at Carrboro has influenced you today?

I was a late bloomer for sure, and Carrboro was such a safe and welcoming space for me to learn who I was. It was a place where it was cool to be nerdy, where everybody knew everybody, and where we really loved to learn and debate and create. Now that I’m becoming a teacher myself, I realize how special this is! Carrboro introduced me to so many fantastic role models and new ideas…the teachers really, sincerely believed in our potential as a generation. Their encouragement gave me the confidence to take risks and try new things, and I think that’s carried me into college and beyond.

Top photo: Adam Glasser at a school in Capetown, South Africa this year.  Photo courtesy Adam Glasser.