Book recommendations; from our shelves to yours

Do you want to read more outside of class but aren’t sure where to start? Are you hoping to expand the kind of book you read, or just looking for a good book? Here’s some of my favorites, both recent and classic, spanning across many different genres.

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Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren

It’s true that the reason I first picked this book, written by Hope Jahren, up was because it’s by a girl with my same name. However, after reading just the first chapter, I knew this author was someone I was proud to share my name with. Her memoir documents her life as a scientist from college until the present day, and is creative, inspiring, and an overall joy to read.

Every other chapter includes a vivid description of a certain aspects of plant growth, and the breaks in the story are both fascinating scientifically, and provide metaphors for different parts of Jahren’s life.

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Smoke and Mirrors, by Neil Gaiman

I don’t usually read a lot of fantasy or science fiction, but I love short stories and these Neil Gaiman works do not disappoint. They vary between fantastical and having a more serious tone, but are all imaginative and so much fun to read.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Gaiman’s other works or sci-fi in general, I would definitely suggest anyone check this book out.

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And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie

I’m always a sucker for any Agatha Christie novel, but this is one of my favorites. If someone were to look up the definition of a page turner, this would book would come up. It’s fast, intense, clever, and full of twists and turns.

I promise you And Then There Were None will leave you hooked and wanting to check out everything else Christie has written.

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An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield

If I had to recommend every student at any level read one book, this would be it. I have no intention of becoming an astronaut, but this Chris Hadfield book came as close to convincing me as anything could. Hadfield has an attitude towards life that I think anyone can admire. He works incredibly hard, but also understands the importance of humility as well as the role luck plays in many situations. His message isn’t overbearing, but his work-ethic and positive outlook will encourage anyone to follow and work hard for their dreams.


Carrboro’s unique take on Mexican food

Carrburritos 711 W Rosemary Street

Few places in Carrboro could possibly bring you more joy than Carrburritos. With a menu that accommodates both vegetarians and carnivores, you are sure to find something that will suit your tastebuds.

Begin your meal with Carrburritos’ signature flour tortilla chips. The buttery, flakey chips are a perfect complement to the fresh frutas salsa, bursting with the flavor of pineapple and cilantro. For your main course, you can’t go wrong with a burrito (hence the name, Carrburritos). For you meat-eaters out there, I’d highly recommend the chicken black bean filling, and veggie-lovers can satisfy their hunger with the delicious sweet potato option. But if you aren’t a burrito person, you can try their fresh quesadillas or crispy nachos. And, of course, no Carrburritos order is complete without a side of guacamole, which is so good that I don’t understand why they don’t sell it on its own.

Though it’s slightly pricier than other food options, the incredibly generous portions make up for the cost. Take the leftovers into school for lunch the next day, or save it for a late-night snack! With delicious food, friendly folks and an intimate ambiance, Carrburritos is the perfect place to spend lunch, dinner and anytime in between.

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Garnachas Rivera Often found near the Carrboro Farmers Market

Chances are you have been to many of the local taco trucks stationed around Carrboro. But if you’re looking for a flavor-packed, deliciously authentic Mexican cuisine, stop right there. Garnachas Rivera, a family owned taco truck located down the road from the Carrboro Farmer’s Market has everything you and your tastebuds need.

Highlights include the gorditas; a crunchy, wonderful tortillas cooked together and bursting with a meat of your choice, lettuce, sour cream, and different kinds of salsa. If you aren’t afraid of getting your hands  a bit messy, try a sope: a thicker, crispier type of masa tortilla topped with tender meats, veggies, and of course, sour cream and their spicy salsas. Even better is the rapidity of the service, and the fact that there is outdoor seating so you can enjoy your scrumptious food out in the beautiful NC weather.

The best part about this taco truck isn’t just their authenticity or their refreshing drinks like Jarritos sodas and traditional horchata, but the fact that they make their tortillas to order right there in the truck!

If you ever have fifteen minutes to spare and you’re looking for some mouthwatering Mexican food, try the Garnachas taco truck, and you won’t regret it.

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Cleanup on aisle C-town

It’s 12:18. You’re rushing to the commons to be first in line to use the microwave, or to get your favorite high table for you and your friends. The commons begins to fill, and with it comes the inevitable trash, crumbs and spills associated with lunch.

While we as students try our best to clean up after ourselves, most of the time we rely on the custodial staff to help us out. Even though custodians like Clifton Copeland and Thweet Maung spend their days keeping our school clean, a lot of their hard work is taken for granted.

Thweet Maung is one of the head custodians at Carrboro High. Maung has worked here since February of 2009. His favorite part of his job is his daily routine.

“My favorite part is pulling up the flag in the morning, and walking around the building, opening up the building. I like everything,” said Maung.

Next month will mark Maung’s eighth year working at CHS. This is his first job since moving to the U.S.

Before coming to America, Maung worked as a professional photographer, shooting things like weddings and graduations. He said that one day he would like to continue with photography.

Maung’s favorite color is blue, and his food of choice is Thai, because of the various use of spices.

Clifton Copeland III is also one of the head custodians at Carrboro. Mr. Copeland has worked in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system for about 16 years. However, he has only worked at Carrboro for the past two years. Previously, Copeland worked at McDougle Middle School and Seawell Elementary. But, according to him, CHS is the best school at which he’s worked.

“Carrboro is my favorite; [there’s a] different environment,” said Copeland. “Everything is cool. Everybody is cool.”

Copeland isn’t just skilled as a janitor, however. He has myriad interesting jobs under his belt, including working as a pizza maker, a custodian at a women’s college in Connecticut, in a dishroom, and in the emergency rooms at a hospital.

Additionally, Mr. Copeland is a church deacon, and loves to eat Chinese food with his wife. His favorite color is blue. With years of experience in various places, Mr. Copeland has many interesting stories to tell.

His favorite part of working at CHS? Helping clean the school for the students. “I like to see everybody recognizing that the place is clean,” said Copeland. “I appreciate the place being clean, for the students.”

Native ads: presented by HBO

HBO did not pay for this piece to be written, but had they, it might have turned out something like this. Informative, but clearly pushing the reader towards a certain opinion.

Looking for a fun way to learn about the hot-button issues of today? Hoping to dazzle friends with topical and hilarious conversation?

Consider checking out the delightfully funny and insightfully witty show Last Week Tonight, hosted by comedian John Oliver.

John Oliver produces hilarious masterpieces every week, covering everything from net neutrality to televangelists. His content always finds the right balance between funny and informative, and discusses important issues many don’t stop to consider.

John Oliver discusses a native ad sponsored by GE Energy. Photo courtesy ScribbleLive

If this sounds of interest, make sure to log on to HBO Sunday nights at 11 o’clock to catch latest episode. Still not convinced? Here’s a short synopsis of a popular segment from last season on native advertisements, a topic to which Oliver’s clip is partly responsible for bringing the attention of a wider audience.

Native ads are increasingly relevant to anyone who reads news online, but they are especially present in the lives of young people (like the author) who spend a considerable (some may say worrying) amount of time on Buzzfeed.

Native ads, sometime considered branded or sponsored content, are essentially advertisements formatted to look like regular news or video content. Oftentimes, the only indicator that a piece is sponsored is a small phrase in the title or at the top of the article.

Truthfully, the different between full-on native ads and pieces that are considered “content marketing” is hard to distinguish, and it’s suggested that the reader research beyond what this article will cover.

In any case, it’s clear that the line between ads and news, a line that has been integral to free and fair journalism since the creation of the United States, is becoming increasingly blurred.

Some native ads are easy to recognize from their content or title, like an article published in The Atlantic in 2013 reflecting on the Church of Scientology’s “milestone year.”

However, many can almost pass as actual journalism, such as an article by The New York Times about women’s prisons, sponsored by the TV show Orange is the New Black.

In fact, some native ads may look just like this article.

Most Americans don’t regoznie native ads as advertisements. In a 2015 study at the University of Georgia, only seven percent of participants were able to recognize that a test piece was branded.

Moreover, this sponsored content is everywhere. Buzzfeed, one of the most popular sites on the internet, makes “100 percent of their revenue from branded content,” according to an interview with the company’s CEO.

News consumers may think they’re savvy enough to avoid native ads and keep their news unbiased. If you are one of those people, ask yourself: did this “Native Ad” feel much different from a typical news piece? Would you have been able to tell the difference?

Where in the word: travel tips

One helpful item for travelers to have is an International Student Identity Card (ISIC.) In many places around the world, it can get you about half off the costs of museums or movie tickets. It can also be instrumental for getting discounts on tickets for transportation, and acquiring accommodation at better rate. Currently, the cost of an ISIC card is $25. You can order one online through STA (Start The Adventure, formerly Student Travel Association.) For more information, go to their website: http://www.statravel. com/student-discount-card.htm/.

Below is an interview with 2013 Carrboro graduate, and former student body president, Kristen Lee. Lee took a gap year in 2013-2014 via Global Citizen Year (

What inspired you to take a gap year?

I wanted to learn a new language, travel, explore and learn more about myself and others.

Where did you go, and what did you do there?

I went to Brazil, to Florianopolis and Curitiba. I lived with a host family, learned Portuguese and volunteered at farms and schools.

What was your budget?

I had a budget of $5000.

Where outside the US have you visited, if anywhere, and for how long did you stay?

I’ve been to Europe and the Caribbean for week-long trips. I also went to southern Africa (Zambia, Namibia and South Africa) for a total of six months, for research and to study abroad.

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

I hoped to challenge myself, learn more about myself, explore and grow.

Did you get out of your gap year what you hoped?

Yes! I also gained so much more than I could have thought. To name a few things: the importance of patience, the ability to trust one’s self and how to be alone. I also realized that religion and language are life-long practices.

What research or preparation did you do before your trip?

I read books about Brazil, talked to people I knew who had gone there and researched on the internet.

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

I worried about money primarily, and then safety.

What advice would you give to those considering a gap year?

You can make it work no matter your financial status; there are lots of resources, programs and information/support for students who want to take a gap year. Gap years can be used in many ways. Finally, if you think you’re interested in taking a gap year, ask yourself this question: What would I like to do with one year of my life?

How did you integrate yourself into the local culture?

I went to local parks and rode the buses. Living with a host family also helped a lot.

Did you have experiences with culture shock, and what were they?

My culture shock experiences were primarily experiences with the opposite sex. Also, not initially being able to speak Portuguese meant that it was extremely hard to make friends at first.

Tech week

Tech week: the week leading up to a theatre production, in which the set, lights, sound, costumes, makeup, hair and more come together to complete the show. Putting it all together, however, doesn’t necessarily come easily.

Each day during Carrboro tech week, students stay five or six hours after school, with schedules consisting of a full run of the show, a run of transitions and problem scenes and a dinner break. During this week, the show becomes a final production, bringing together every aspect that was formed individually: namely actors and tech, as well as pit, if it’s a musical.

While it’s ideal that each aspect, formed mostly independent of one another, will be right on cue, that’s never the case. In the last week, combining every individual element takes countless hours.

“We’re definitely pretty good at managing tech week, but for some parts, there’s just no working around it,” said junior Grace Cohen, the current assistant technical director for Carrboro productions.

“A lot of times, there are adjustments that you have to make,” added senior actor Margaret Hubacher. “You might have to re-learn something at the last second, because some prop didn’t work out or some microphone isn’t working. You just have to adjust.”

Carrboro’s current musical, Cinderella, will be performed in mid-March. Putting the production together started in January. Two months may seem like a long time, but for all the work that needs to be done to have a complete show, the time always feels too short for those involved.

“People don’t realize, especially because it’s a high school show, how much we do, and to what caliber we’re doing things. People don’t realize the high professional standard that we’re held to here,” said Cohen.

In addition to all the prep that goes on, students involved must also keep up with their primary responsibility to school.

“We’re doing this, but we’re also still students,” said junior Graham Emmett, lighting designer.

Sometimes, actors get breaks when they’re offstage to work on homework, but pit and tech are working nearly all the time. Without these breaks, and with all of the schoolwork as the year draws close, tech week can be a challenging and stressful time.

In the end, for everyone involved, most feel it’s always worth it. “We’re all exhausted and tired of being at school for twelve hours a day, but from that comes really good cast bonding, because we’re spending so much time together,” said senior actor Caroline Smith. “We’re all so exhausted, that we kind of just fall asleep on each other, and we’re all friends.”

The fight for funding

Pay Our Teachers First (POTF) is working to get North Carolina to put more tax money into public education. At the helm of it all is co-founder Deborah Gerhardt.

Gerhardt became invested in the issue of teacher pay after her son’s beloved language arts teacher left Culbreth because of budget cuts. Gerhardt decided to look into the cause. Once she learned how much teachers in the state make, she had to get involved. “I was shocked, ” said Gerhardt in a phone interview.

Gerhardt’s article, “Pay Our Teachers or Lose Your Job,” published in Slate Magazine, was one of the first accounts to draw attention to the low teacher salaries in NC. The article also detailed her involvement with POTF and served as an introduction to the subject for those with minimal background information.

“A nonpartisan survey from October 2013 showed that 76 percent of North Carolinians agree that public school teachers are paid too little… and 83 percent support increased pay for higher degrees,” said Gerhardt in her article. “I love these data. They prove that the recent legislative assault on teachers does not reflect true North Carolina values.”

Soon after Slate published the article, people could find red “Pay Our Teachers First” T-shirts all over the triangle. POTF also held a town hall meeting at Culbreth in 2014, with thousands of people viewing an online video of the town hall.

The group gained traction because of their ambitious goal: to decrease the high numbers of teachers resigning in NC by increasing teacher pay. Teachers saw a 15 percent salary decrease from 2003 to 2013. A large portion of state taxes are going towards Medicaid, and POTF advocates channeling more of the money back into education.

Currently, POTF is attempting to gain traction within the NC House with regard to state-level education laws. The organization also collaborates with general assembly member Graig Meyer, as well as other members of state legislature, on a project aimed to educate the community and support local teachers.

Partially due to the group’s efforts, more families in the state acknowledge the relatively low salaries in the area and how low salaries can drive their kids’ teachers away from their jobs. “We want [teachers] to know that we understand how hard this is for them,” said Gerhardt.

Although POTF thinks more awareness and a new state governor may mean change for NC education, the organization believes there is still plenty of work to be done. Gerhardt encourages any students with free time to get in touch with the organization.

DECA members are decorated winners

20 Carrboro High School representatives competed at a Distributive Education Clubs of America event on December 15 in Sanford, NC. While DECA may sound foreign to most, DECA is an expanding club of 37 students at CHS.

Prior to a DECA competition, each competitor signs up for a category that sparks their interest within one of five different career clusters: Business Management and Administration, Entrepreneur- ship, Marketing, Finance or Hospitality and Tourism. There are about 55 potential categories to specialize in. Categories and competitive events range from Retail Merchandising to Sports and Entertainment Marketing to Human Resources Management.

According to Julie Francis, club advisor for DECA and Honors Strategic Marketing teacher at Carrboro, students take a test on their field of focus and participate in a role-play during the competition.

During role-plays, DECA competitors must present to a panel of judges how they would handle a certain real-world situation relating to their field of expertise. The judges evaluate and score each competitor’s presentation based on various factors. A combination of scores from both the written test and role-play determine an overall score.

“We had a great time. It was wonderful to see the students so passionate about this [program],” said Francis.

Five CHS students earned a total of eight honors or awards in a variety of categories at the December competition in Sanford. Juniors Pierre Perrin and Kirby Thornton placed in the top ten for their category’s written test. Junior Cole Phillips and seniors Taylor Gosk and Mackenzie Linstead earned overall scores in the top ten. Thornton placed third overall out of a pool of about 400 competitors.

“My favorite part of DECA is that it brings out confidence in even the shyest members. While you’re competing, you take on the role of a professional member of society, but it’s more like becoming a better version of yourself,” said Thornton.

The purpose of DECA is to develop future leaders and entre- preneurs by equipping students with tools for success in the real world. The DECA Club at Carrboro is just one of a network of 3,500 high school programs and 275 collegiate programs worldwide, totaling more than 215,000 members.

As CHS continues to expand in its student involvement with DECA, Thornton emphasized that the club is open to anyone. No experience with CTE subjects is required to become a DECA member.

“DECA is an amazing op- portunity and can open up more doors than you would think,” said Thornton. “DECA connects you to students all across the world. DECA is more than just a school club; it’s an organization that teaches kids while they’re having fun.”

NC faces democracy troubles

In December, a News & Observer headline spread across social media: “North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy.” The article by Dr. Andrew Reynolds, a professor of political science at UNC, described how NC is no longer a functional democracy. Despite the controversial article, Reynolds still believes that young adults can effect change in our state.

Reynolds’s article detailed a metric he and his colleague, Jorgen Elklit, used to measure election quality.

The metric evaluated the election quality of states and countries. Reynolds and Elklit looked at characteristics such as the number of registered voters, access for voters and the trustworthiness of the vote count.

NC received a 58 out of 100 for its overall electoral integrity score in the 2016 election. Because NC received the same score as countries like Cuba and Sierra Leone, many NC citizens dismissed these claims.

Reynolds explained that states and countries can score at the same level but vary in their vibrancy of democracy. For example, Cuba is embedded in an authoritarian framework while NC is in a democratic framework.

Still, the score shocked many NC citizens, leaving them to question their state and how well they are represented. Jamie Schendt, a social studies teacher at CHS, commented on this general distrust of governmental institutions.

“Part of that distrust stems from a lack of understanding from the populous about what the systems are because this whole idea about dissatisfaction and distrust is actually a bipartisan claim at the moment,” said Schendt.

Like Schendt, Reynolds encourages NC citizens to speak out against their systems.

“We need to not be complacent in that we know things are going wrong, but we’re still in a world where we think American democracy is invulnerable, and that it’s always going to be fine,” said Reynolds regarding the metric’s implications.

For the majority of high school and middle school students who cannot vote, this unconstitutionality raises the question of what they can do to institute change.

When asked this question, Reynolds said that he found a lot of change was driven by creating and emphasizing connections between people.

“People do change their views when they are confronted with somebody they care about, or know, or respect, challenging them,” said Reynolds. “High school kids can make a difference just by talking and communicating and by contacting their representatives. But also talking to the people around you who do vote who may be voting in ways that you find objectionable.”

Reynolds and his colleagues found that people generally voted for same-sex marriage if they personally knew someone who was gay.

“If 70 percent of people say that they have a close friend or family member who is gay, 70 percent of people said they support marriage equality,” said Reynolds.

NC has ranked poorly in election quality, but Reynolds emphasized that young adults still have a voice, and they can still drive change in their state.

Behind the scenes of college signings

Earlier this quarter, three senior athletes signed a sheet of paper and committed to the next four years of their lives. Miah Araba, Laura Sparling, and Natasha Turner aren’t the first to commit to a college for sports, and they won’t be the last.

Every year, student athletes have many things to consider when choosing a college. They need to evaluate a school’s environment and academic programs to ensure they will be comfortable and challenged, just like any other student. They also need to figure out what school will fit their sport and the level of ambition they’ll be bringing for the next four years of college.

In Carrboro’s senior class, there are many student athletes continuing their sport past high school. The JagWire spoke to several athletes who gave us their perspective on what it takes to be recruited to participate in college level sports.

Although a student athlete may not sign until senior year, the committing process starts early. For Araba, Sparling, and Turner, it started around sophomore year. Most students verbally commit to a school around this time, and won’t sign until a year or two later.

These students aren’t only focusing on a prospective college’s athletic program, however. “I wanted to make sure that I was going to a school that was [also] academically rigorous, and if I couldn’t get recruited to a school that was like that I would go to a school for education and not soccer,” said Araba.

While the idea of college security may seem ideal, it has its drawbacks too, with the pressure of deciding on colleges two years early, as well as not having the excitement of being accepted to a variety of schools.

“The recruiting process itself is stressful because you don’t know what’s going to happen; if schools are going to like you or not,” said Sparling.

For Grace Maggiore and Christine Alcox, their commitment for volleyball was similar but still complex. Both Maggiore and Alcox were exposed to college coaches through their club teams. According to Alcox, “Since we play club, we get a lot of exposure that way, (…) if you want to play in college, it’s best to play club, because no one watches high school games anymore.”

Another way the two reached out to colleges was through email. Both Maggiore and Alcox started sending out emails to colleges around sophomore year. While the coaches can’t talk to students directly until junior or senior year, there are ways around that rule. College coaches can use club coaches as a messenger between themselves and the players. Also, coaches can reply over email, but not in person until much later in the process.

“You can call [the coaches], but they can’t call you,” said Maggiore, summing it up.

The last step of recruitment is the actual commitment and application. For Quinton Adams, committing for track, there was an almost three-week process that included sending in videos of himself running, monitoring his diet and weighing himself daily, in addition to the Common Application and his personal information. Depending on the college and the sport, the commitment process could be very low-stress and simple as it was for Taylor Day, or difficult like it was for Adams.

One thing that both Quinton Adams and Taylor Day, who is committing for wrestling, did to further their recruitment was to go to college camps. These college camps allowed Adams and Day to be exposed to different campuses and coaches while furthering their training.

Finally, there are scholarships. Being recruited by a college means they’re willing to offer you some sort of scholarship in exchange for your commitment to their college.

“You could [get] academic, half, or full [scholarships],” said Adams, who is currently in the process of obtaining a half scholarship, which means that the university will fund two years of his college education.

For student-athletes considering recruitment, the most important step is to not be afraid to reach out to various colleges and coaches. It’s also important to get started early, and work your hardest during the process.