Let’s Lead and Learn

In high school, we regard few things with more reverence than leadership. For the vast majority of my life, I wanted to be a leadership figure. But at last year’s Jaguar Jump-In, as I walked by the countless club displays, I was disturbed by how little I considered what I would actually get out of a club. Would I learn something? Would I gain experience? Rather, I focused my energy on finding clubs with attainable leadership positions.

Our environment trains us to have think this way. Our teachers, relatives and peers remind us constantly that colleges seek and admit leaders; in short, being a leader is synonymous with being an achiever.

As a result, it’s tempting to ignore or overestimate our qualifications in attempt to spearhead an activity. After all, those in charge get the recognition. But this negates an important concept: there are often people who are better suited for the job.

Not only would more experienced people do more to help a club or further a cause, but they are also valuable sources of knowledge. This sounds cheesy, I know, but the moment we emphasize resumé-building over learning, we do ourselves and our peers a disservice; it creates an atmosphere of one-upmanship, not an appreciation of wisdom.

This “leadership mindset” also gives students the incorrect impression that glamour should fuel hard work. As I prepare for college and my future career, I want a realistic preview of my future. Most of the work I do will go largely unrecognized. But why does this upset me, and others, the way it does? Wouldn’t it be far more upsetting to enter employment with unrealistic expectations, only to be disappointed?

Perhaps most upsetting of all, putting so much emphasis on leadership undermines a large portion of the workforce. For every leader, there are many more followers, and to praise leadership over following discounts their efforts. Are followers really any less capable simply because they aren’t the “face” of something? Can only leaders be visionaries?

I firmly disagree with this idea that being a visionary and being a follower are mutually exclusive. To work hard without receiving praise, to care deeply without needing recognition; that is to be a visionary.

Don’t mistake my sentiments as pessimistic, or even as anti-leadership. Some of the people I admire most are leaders, including both historical figures and students right here at CHS. Penny Newall, a junior, is a prime example. Newall heads the SECU Family House club, which she founded through her connections with the organization. Unlike many other Carrboro students, who know little about SECU, Newall knows enough to educate others and make a difference. Thus, her role as club president is appropriate.

Developing leadership skills can also be beneficial, as such skills can help people pursue interests and aid us in our understanding of a movement’s various obstacles. In short, there is a time and place for both leading and following, and neither should be disparaged.

We must allow ourselves to maximize learning opportunities instead of confining ourselves solely to impressive positions. I’d like to see teachers, parents and even students stop asking us what we’ve led. Instead, ask us what we’ve learned.

Rethink Plan B

The “morning after” pill is an emergency way to avoid pregnancy whose side effects should be taken more seriously by high school students. This is the only way to avoid pregnancy after having unprotected sex, other than abortion. According to WebMD, if you take Plan B One Step 72 hours after unprotected sex it is 89 percent effective, while if you take it within 24 hours it can be up to 95 percent effective.

There are over ten different forms of contraceptives. This makes me wonder why girls take the risk of having unprotected sex and continuously use the “morning after” pill to prevent pregnancy.

The original intent of this pill is to act as an emergency contraception that stops pregnancy within three days of unprotected sex, many women taking the pill do not understand the full effect it has on their bodies, though.

With a high dose of levonorgestrel (a hormone found in birth control pills), Plan B works by stopping the ovary from releasing an egg or by preventing the fertilization of the egg.

Ninth grade health does tell about the Plan B pill and how it terminates pregnancy, but the details of the pill are not provided for multiple reasons. One being, Plan B is not always considered a form of contraceptive because it is used after sex, and sometimes can be seen as a form of abortion. There are many different forms of contraceptives that are more effective, but that does not mean that Plan B should be completely thrown aside, sometimes it is necessary.

Side effects of continuous Plan B usage can be as serious as depression, nausea, abdominal pain, headache, menstrual changes, and vomiting. Not only are these side effects uncomfortable and dangerous, but the Plan B pill is also less effective than condoms or prescribed birth control pills.

In some cases, women take more pills than the suggested dosage. This does not make it any less likely for them to be pregnant; it just heightens the side effects of taking the pill.

Women who take the pill tend to forget to read how taking the pill may affect their body.  The fine print tells you all the possible side effects and recommends seeing a doctor before consumption.

Practicing safe sex should be in the moment, not waiting to take the pill the morning after and changing the functions of your body. Sex should not mean experiencing pregnancy scares on a monthly-basis; sex should not add to the stress of high schoolers.

Protest or Pass

When asked to choose between legal and illegal protests, the answer seems clear. But looking further, there’s a much more complex rationale for civil disobedience than meets the eye.

From a historical perspective, almost every successful movement has required activists to display defiance both legally and illegally.

This is clear when looking back on riots during the civil rights era, where we tend to view unlawful protesters as brave revolutionaries. Sit-ins, road blocking, and other illegal demonstrations from the past are seen favorably now– so why don’t we view those who are doing the same thing today in a positive light?

The same goes for civil rights leaders such as Malcolm X, who said in a 1964 speech to Peace Corps, “It doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time, I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don’t call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence.”

Most people would agree that self-defense was a necessary measure during segregation and slavery. Protesters today are being lead by these same values, but we tend to look down upon their right to defend themselves and their liberties.

Centuries of protests and riots have proven that often times those trying to make a positive difference are the ones punished for their civil disobedience, rather than those who initiated the unrest. There is an implicit double-standard of keeping the peace in times of conflict.

This trend of reformers being consistently looked down upon by other people of their time is shameful. Only after a widespread movement and change in society are these people praised—and by then it’s too late.

Although unlawful action is never preferable, it can be a necessary measure when attempting to reform systems and institutions. Creating unrest now has the potential to save thousands of lives in the future.

Police tear gas and arrest a crowd of demonstrators in Venezuela. Photo courtesy reuters.com

The Hidden Restaurant Gems of Chapel Hill

Benny Capella’s

122 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Benny Capella’s, arguably the best pizza place in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, serves up enormous slices—basically 2 slices in one—at a reasonable price of $4 or $5. For me, the crust makes or breaks a pizza, and Benny’s Virginia style pizza does not disappoint. Their thick crust forms a strong foundation for the various toppings yet remains doughy and flakey. The proportional cheese to sauce ratio prevents the pie from excreting an insane amount of oil like local pizza counterparts.

Photos by Sofia Dimos

Besides pepperoni and cheese, they sell two new flavors every month, from bacon ranch to buffalo chicken. The trendy and chill ambiance of this restaurant mixed with the personable employees makes it a sweet spot for an off-campus lunch or late-night dinner. Unfortunately, they do not deliver, but that won’t stop me from ordering my giant slice of pizza perfection.

Shanghai Dumpling

143 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

I’ll admit it; I only suggested this article because I needed an excuse to eat here for the second time in one week. This tiny treasure squished between the CVS scaffolding and Insomnia Cookies sculpts and folds dumplings into beautiful pieces of art. Here, you can find soup dumplings that ooze hot soup in every bite, but watch out because this can prove to be a bit hazardous. The sesame chicken’s bite-size, crispy chicken nubs (made of real meat) lathers my pallet with a deliciously warm and tangy sauce, earning the title of my favorite sesame chicken in the Triangle. Shanghai offers various authentic dishes like chicken feet, pork buns (always fun), hotpots and even jellyfish salad. My only gripe is that they don’t set the tables with forks, so you’ll have to either engineer a way to pick up rice with chopsticks and a soup spoon or overcome the embarrassment and ask your server for a fork.

Bread and Butter Bakery and Cafe

503 W Rosemary St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

This quaint and convenient artisan bakery hidden on Rosemary street keeps their delicious goodies to themselves, seeing as almost nobody knows of it. Not only does this place offer fresh baked goods like country bread, baguettes and focaccia, but they also churn out traditional italian espressos and the tastiest pastries around. Ever since my first visit, I’ve found myself daydreaming of their scones. Forget weaver street and ditch your mom’s recipe because these fluffy scones contain a generous layer of juicy fruit and a savory crust obviously baked by someone who understands bread. I strongly suggest you invest $2.75 to get their buttery blueberry scone—the brioche cinnamon bun will also treat you well. The modest prices for such fresh, quality items certainly please my high school student budget. Be sure to stop by if you’re looking for a place to study or to satisfy your baked-good needs. With a designated parking lot right outside and plenty of comfy seating, you have no good reason not to enjoy an evening with a macchiato and a loaf of bread from Bread and Butter. cheap Bentyl

Student Spotlight: Imogen

Imogen Joashi


AP Studio Art Student

Q: What do you do in AP Studio Art?

A: We have three categories: breadth, quality, and concentration, and we need to make about 7 pieces for each category to then send to a college board who then gives us an AP score

Q: Do your pieces follow a consistent platform throughout each category, as in are they all drawings or photos?

A: Ok so breadth is supposed to show a range of what you can do so like a pencil or paint or whatever you can think of (including photography). Quality is basically just your best pieces, and concentration is making sure that you have ten or so cohesive pieces that follow a theme.

Q: What is your consistent theme?

A: Mine is conformity, so things trying to fit in whether it be people or objects or whatever.

Q: Why did you choose this theme?

A: Well it’s supposed to be a topic that you can investigate and look really in depth at.It seemed like something interesting that I could tie current issues into. Focusing on a high school you see a lot of people trying to fit in.

Q: Would you say you focus more on people and their trying to fit in socially rather than objects and more abstract things?

A: My focus is mainly people but I need diversity in my artwork so I need other stuff.

Q: Do you think you might pursue artwork later on in life? If so, has this class inspired you to do so?

A: I don’t think I would pursue artwork as a career but I’ll definitely keep doing it for fun. The class has just reminded me how hard it is to create art with a deadline.

Photo by Mireille Leone

Exploring Local Murals

Carrboro students see murals so much in their daily lives that at times they can blend into the background. Whether it is the murals in our stairwells, done by two Dominican painters—Carlos Veras and Anthony Vasquez—last year, or one of the more than 30 murals around Chapel Hill and Carrboro, these huge paintings help to make our community the cultured and beautiful place that it is.

In Chapel Hill, murals contribute hugely to the town’s status as a center for culture and arts in The Triangle. A majority of the murals are painted on private property with the owner’s permission, and were done by UNC-Chapel Hill alumni Michael Brown. Brown completed most of his murals during the yearly arts program that he headed, and which employed student volunteers to help him with the painting. This program ran until 2001, and although Brown has only completed a few murals since, his artistic vision has deeply shaped Chapel Hill’s art scene. More recently, Brown completed work on murals at the UNC Student Store and the Franklin Street Mellow Mushroom. The following are several of Brown’s best, and least known, works.

“Many Earths”

Location: 108 West Rosemary Street, behind Moe’s and Yogurt Pump and next to the homeless shelter.

Description: This is one of the many murals throughout Chapel Hill that was done by the painter Michael Brown. He completed the Many Earths mural in 2002, but hopes to revise it soon, according to the Chapel Hill Recorder. Brown feels that the deeper meaning of the painting—we are one of many earths—is often overlooked. His goal, Chapel Hill Recorder says, is to add a Haiku to the painting that explains it’s meaning.

“Paint By Numbers”

Location: 305 West Rosemary Street, sort of behind Noodles & Company, on Rosemary Street between Mama Dip’s and Franklin Street.

Description: Another of Michael Brown’s murals, the Paint By Numbers mural is Brown’s most recent contribution to the Chapel Hill mural collection, completed in 2003. His inspiration for the painting was the other painters that work with him on the huge projects, which can be seen in the purposefully-unfinished section of the mural. The numbers theme runs deeper than just the literal paint-by-numbers that Brown uses to make his murals, in that the depicted football players also have numbers on their jerseys.

“Nation of Many Colors”

Location: 101 Lloyd Street, across the street from Rise Biscuits & Donuts, tucked behind Salon2eleven.

Description: This mural, which depicts a map of the Earth superimposed on one of the United States. It was completed by volunteers from the now-defunct non-profit organization El Centro Latino. El Centro was a local Chapel Hill organization that aimed to serve the disadvantaged Latino Chapel Hill residents. However, it was forced to close down in 2009 due to lack of donations. This mural stands on as evidence of the organization’s impact on the Chapel Hill community.


Location: 111 South Merritt Mill Road, on Merritt Mill between the train tracks and Crook’s Corner.

Description: Unfortunately, this mural was recently painted over. It was one of the older murals in Chapel Hill, being completed in the mid-1990s. Another painting by Michael Brown, this was in many ways a collaborative painting. After tracing out the grid pattern, Brown let his disciples mix their own paint colors and color in the squares. The pattern itself was inspired by patchwork quilting.
Photos courtesy The Chapel Hill Recorder 

Where in the World? Mind the Gap

This column was started last year, but not with a proper introduction. In creating ‘Where in the World?’, I wanted to have a place with a consistent international focus as it relates to CHS Jaguars. This may manifest itself in many ways. Some of our graduates have taken gap years and every year, I have students who seek advice, guidance and connections on how to make this a reality for them. Some of our students come from outside the US. We have exchange programs to France and the Dominican Republic and service trips to Ecuador and Nicaragua. Perhaps you want to travel internationally, but don’t know how to do it in an affordable way. Maybe you would like to volunteer somewhere, but are not sure how to go about doing that.

If you do decide you want to take a gap year after graduation, I would strongly encourage you to make sure you have a plan for afterwards and do as much of the organizing prior to leaving. You want to be able to focus on where you are, rather than be sorting out things on a continual basis. If the plan is to go to a college or university after graduation, then apply, get accepted and then see about how to defer for a year. If you have extensive scholarships that will be lost if you take a gap year, then it will probably not be worth it.

Taking a gap year does not have to be expensive. There are many organizations that one can do all the organizing for you, but some of them are more about making a profit from those wishing to travel abroad. If you are hoping to go to several places, then do as much research as possible before. Relative easy access to the internet is not a given. Talk with others who have taken gap years. They are a wealth of information. If you would to speak to me about ideas, then feel free to contact me.

Interview with 2016 CHS Graduate Lauren Bartek prior to her leaving for her gap year. I will do a follow up when she is in the midst of her gap year.

What inspired you to take a gap year?

Growing up I felt like GAP years were stigmatized in the community I lived in as a break that people would only take if they didn’t know what they wanted and often lead to never going back to school. While GAP years are great if you don’t know what you want yet, many driven people have chosen that path and it has recently gained popularity in America. I first started to think of a GAP year as a potential future for myself at the end of my freshman year of high school when my friend and former president of Carrboro High School, Kristen Lee, broke this stereotype. She had the option to go to college right away but instead decided to participate in the Global Citizen GAP year where she traveled to South America to stay with local families and volunteer. I have always wanted to learn about other parts of the world and was intrigued by her choice. Over the rest of my high school career I watched many other friends take the GAP year route. The idea stayed in the back of my mind as I applied to universities. I was waiting to find a college that I was super passionate about but never really did and instead felt super burnt out. At the same time I was following Leah Simon and Katie Caruso’s GAP year adventures traveling the world on social media and realized this was definitely the right path for me.

Who else (if anyone) do you know who has taken a gap year?

I knew Kristen Lee, Alice Brower, and Bri Merrigan from our Carrboro lacrosse team. All of them spent their GAP years with programs volunteering in South America. Katie Caruso and Leah Simon I knew first as mutual friends and are a grade above me. Both took a year off and made their own travel plans without the help of a program. In addition, Laney Peterman, who started at the University of Chicago this past year, decided to take off this year to travel. I will hopefully be meeting up with her in Thailand in January. In my grade I am in touch with Oskar Hutchinson is spending time with a program in Japan, and Monica Herrera is taking a year off to work in Chapel Hill.

Where outside the U.S. have you visited, if anywhere, and for how long and in what context?

I have actually never been outside of the U.S.!

Where all do you plan to go & what do you plan to do whilst there?

I will start my trip in Kathmandu, Nepal, during October and November. I will first be staying with a family from my church who is currently living there now and helping the wife start a clothing business for Nepali women. I also plan on backpacking either the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek or the Annapurna Circuit with a group for about two weeks. In addition I will be staying with a local Nepali family, and volunteering for a host with Workaway. In the beginning of December I will fly to Bangkok, Thailand, and stay with W’wan who was an exchange student at Carrboro High School last year. After a few days I will take a bus up to Phop Phra which is in Northern Thailand where a Migrant Learning Centre that predominantly houses Karen refugees called Thoo Mweh Khee is located. I will be volunteering at Thoo Mweh Khee as an English and art teacher for refugees while also living in their community. In late January I then hope to meet up with Laney Peterman and backpack through Thailand exploring some of their cultural landmarks. Finally, I will finish my trip visiting Greece in March and April. During that time I will likely be staying with organizations like US Servas, Workaway, or Wwoofing but I am still finalizing plans.

What is your budget?

I am starting my trip with $6,000 for 7 months. This doesn’t include all of the preparation trip expenses which were altogether about $1,000. The majority of the money for my trip came from the jobs I worked this past summer and graduation money. I was also very fortunate to have money donated to me for my trip and my parents contribute to the trip preparation expenses.

What do you hope to get out of the gap year?

I hope to learn, both about myself and our world. Coming straight out of high school I was not ready to take full advantage of everything that college has to offer because I was so burnt out and did not know myself enough. I think that by experiencing new cultures and people you learn more about yourself in contrast. You gain fuller perspectives and learn what other people believe, and in turn what you do and don’t agree with. After traveling abroad and seeing alternative ways to live I think I will have a better understand of what I want in life, and know what to say yes/no to in college. Additionally I hope to come into school prepared to work hard after seeing how lucky I am to have the opportunity to go to school by working with others who dream about that opportunity.

Relationships are also a part of my trip that I look forward to. I hope to make connections with the people I stay with that will last a lifetime. I would love to be able to visit my new friends again after my trip and continue the lifestyle of travel. I also hope that I can actually make a difference in the lives of the refugees that I work with and help give them the tools they need.

Finally I hope this trip puts me out of my comfort zone. I think that is the time that you grow as a person the most. I often struggle with expectations for myself and whatever I am doing. This trip will challenge me to be in the moment and deal with changes to my plans. I think the unexpected experiences are the best gifts to life and I hope to go on a lot of last minute adventures.

What research or preparation have you done?

I began preparing for this trip in May right after I decided to go to NC State. I first started saving money and I created a gofundme account. After that the major things that had to be taken care of were getting travel documents, making sure my health care was taken care of, finding a phone plan, and gathering supplies. Every step of the way I had to do research from booking a plane flight, to buying a sleeping bag, to selecting travel insurance just because these were things I had never done before and did not have a travel agent. I also talked to many GAP year veterans to get a more personal take on the countries and organizations I was considering. Most of my GAP year work has seemed invisible because it has been going back and forth between people, making plans, and learning a lot of background information.

What worries or concerns do you have about the gap year?

Well I guess there is the obvious safety concern. My parents were not on board with my plans right away because they were worried about my safety abroad and I got many comments like “so and so would never let their kids do that” or “stay safe” as I told people about my year. But I think if anything I will find that the world is more open and safe than I originally thought, if you are smart. I also have not finished putting all of my plans together for the trip like smaller details such as places to visit and stay, so I hope that I am not distracted from whatever I am currently doing due to finalizing plans. But honestly I think everything will work out and I am not too worried about these concerns.

Include anything I didn’t ask, but which you feel is important to know.

It has been amazing how willing people have been to help me out during this whole process. So many more people than I expected have traveled and want to help others to do the same. Shout out to John Hite! He played a huge role in helping me to decide to take a GAP year, connected me to so many people, and made sure I had help every step of the way.

My advice. Don’t overhype college and get stressed out about it like I did! College is not for everyone right away and community college is a great thing. You will end up where you belong.

Illustration courtesy http://stephendpalmer.com/

When the ‘Winter Blues’ get worse

On the surface, there is a lot to like about the colder months. Pumpkin patches, football games, and the holiday season are things people often cherish during the slow and scenic transition from hot summer days to chilly autumn nights. Some people, on the other hand, are negatively affected by this transition from summer to fall and winter.

Due to dropping temperatures, people tend to stay inside. A temporary feeling of “cabin fever,” resulting from prolonged time indoor, is common in the United States. For some people, though, the “winter blues” becomes something more than an inconsequential mood swing.

According to the American Family Physician, mild seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects 10 to 20 percent of the population. Although a specific biological cause has yet to be identified, many scientists agree that the problem stems from a disruption of circadian rhythm.

In the summer, the body’s biological clock is set to expect a certain amount of light at specific times. However, during the winter, seasonal changes affect sunlight levels. Some people’s internal clocks do not adjust as well as others, which leads to a physical disruption. The offset of the biological clock can cause feelings of depression. Less sunlight can also be correlated with a drop in the brain chemical that affects mood, serotonin.

As a lesser-known form of depression, SAD often goes unrecognized or undiagnosed. However, despite the fact that tangible causes have yet to be found, many doctors and therapists agree that this disorder is legitimate and therefore requires treatment. The Mayo Clinic recommends utilizing various lights in therapy as a solution for the upset of the biological  clock in addition to regular psychotherapy. The ubiquitous solution simply waiting for the seasons to change is also sometimes enough to relieve one of this disorder.

If you’re CHS senior Kevin Kopczynski, winter comes as a long-awaited celebration. He says winter is his favorite season because “It has sledding, snowball fights, days off school, Netflix binge-watching because you’re house locked…” and more.  Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. This winter be sure to bundle up, stay safe and be mindful of those who may be struggling.

Illustration by Lizzie McLamb

Creatures of Carrboro

If you could give your high school self advice, what would it be? Carrboro residents were asked to answer this question. This is what they said.

“Always be an ratedbrides advocate for someone who doesn’t have a strong voice or presence. Be true to those who are there for you, don’t always look for the next best thing.”

“I’m here to learn, to be educated, not be indoctrinated… To make the best of my education and not to be caught up in the bullying that goes on in high schools.”

Photos by Flora Devonport

Librarians Inspire Love for Learning

You walk into the CHS library. To the left, you see an organized display of the newest books, seasonal decorations and craft-based materials: a creative and relaxed atmosphere. To the right, you see tables filled with students discussing a range of subjects and building on one another’s ideas: a vibrant, yet productive, atmosphere. Finally, as you continue forward, you see two smiling faces welcoming you into the library and asking about your day: Kara Watson and Eleanor Tierney.

Kara Watson
As the school’s Library Media Coordinator, Kara Watson keeps the CHS library functioning smoothly on a daily basis. Her qualifications include a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science.

While Watson has devoted seven years of service to CHS, she previously worked at Chapel Hill High School for four years. Multi-talented, other jobs on her resume include everything from owning a record store with her husband to working as an acupuncture assistant.

As with any work experience, maintaining the library comes with its challenges. According to Watson, it can be difficult to maximize resources with a limited budget. Helping students maintain a balance between productivity and relaxation in the library is also challenging.

“I feel obligated to provide a space where students can get work done and do what they need to,” said Watson.
On a typical day, Watson stays busy preparing for a variety of classes that utilize the library’s resources, ordering and processing books and meeting with teachers or numerous committees on which she serves. However, the focus of each day is the needs of students who come in.

“I love how every day is different,” said Watson. “The classes that come in shape my day. I’m always switching around what I’m focused on so I’m not just limited to talking about one subject.”

Eleanor Tierney
Eleanor Tierney works with Watson as a library assistant. Tierney is new to the library this year and previously served as a receptionist. She joined the CHS support staff following an eighteen-year career at a middle school library in New York state.

Emphasizing the versatility of working in a library, Tierney said that in order to be a librarian, “you have to know almost everything.”

Tierney’s role in the library primarily involves serving the individual needs of students. She is also responsible for maintaining the organization and cleanliness of the library to create a positive and practical work space.

“We service teachers and students,” said Tierney. “We try to make the library a warm, welcoming and safe place for kids to come and do whatever they need and want to.”

Tierney (left) and Watson (right) pose in the library.  Photo by Mireille Leone.