A lesser-known Black Friday

Almost all U.S. citizens know of Black Friday, the day when large retailers offer amazingly generous deals, resulting in malls packed full of oppor-tunistic shoppers; however, “Black Friday” didn’t always refer to a yearly consumer craze, but a gold scandal in 1869 that led our country to the brink of an economic depression.

As a country that had just gone through a civil war, the U.S. was struggling financially; in fact, the Federal Government was $2.8 billion dollars in debt by the time Ulysses S. Grant was elected president. As a result, George Boutwell — the Secretary of Treasury at the time — sold gold at the New York Gold Exchange to help pay it off. At first, this did help — but soon after, disaster struck.

Two conniving speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk, hatched a plan to exploit the gold market, planting ideas in President Grant’s head that the the gold sales were detrimental to Western farmers. As a result, Grant stopped Boutwell from releasing weekly gold from the Treasury Department, raising its value. Gould and Fisk had simultaneously been buying millions of dollars of gold, further raising this price. Gould’s gold account grew from $10 to $18 million as a result.

When the price of gold exceeded $155 an ounce on September 24, Grant decided to put an end to the scandal, instructing Boutwell to sell $4 million worth of gold and buy $4 million worth of bonds — tanking the value of gold from $160 an ounce to $138 in a matter of minutes. Panic in the Gold Room ensued; stock prices immediately dropped by 20 percent, ruining the careers of numerous speculators, and plunging the United States into a period of financial disrepair.

Black Friday may have gotten its name from the economic use of the word “black,” referring to profitability, since Gould and Fisk had enjoyed large profits up until the economic crash; however, due to the extremely negative results of the day, “black” could simply be a word used to exemplify the dread felt by those involved.

Philadelphia police officers later used the term “Black Friday” in the 1950s to describe the day after Thanksgiving when shoppers — eager to take advantage holiday sales — filled the streets; the cops couldn’t take the day off due to unruly swarms of people, and had to suffer through 12-hour-shifts.

The disgruntled officers began calling this day “Black Friday,” perhaps in cynical reference to the dreaded day of chaos back in 1869. Surprisingly, the term actually began to spread. Retailers hated the negative label, and attempted re-coining it “Big Friday,” to no avail. However, in the end, “Black Friday” was adopted, and retains the same commercial connotations today.

How to Drive: Merges

In the second in Jagwire’s series of road-education articles, I will explain an other misunderstood feature of the road: merging.

Seen on interstate on-ramps and instances when a lane ends, merging zones have been the subject of much scrutiny and research. Additionally, it continues to be a troublesome part of driving for many drivers.

There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to how they work. The first advocates getting over proactively, as soon as possible — aptly named “early mergers.” The second purports waiting until the very last minute to merge. Numerous studies have investigated both strategies, and have time and time again proven that the second is both safer and more efficient for all drivers.

The easiest way to explain how merging should work is to visualize a zipper; two lanes full of cars “zip” together, with cars from each lane going one-after-another to combine the two lanes into one. It is not worthwhile to get over early, as this clogs up one lane while leaving the other wide open. This then creates dangerous situations as cars can come in at high speeds and pass many cars, which in turn can create road rage.

Merging is actually one of the most simple driving maneuvers, and can be very safe and efficient if done correctly. It might be hard to do the first few times — many drivers consider themselves to be very courteous, and don’t want to offend
other — but rest assured that by getting over later you are helping everyone get to their destinations sooner.

It should also be noted that when merging on highway on-ramps, it is the duty of all drivers to accelerate to high- way speeds prior to the end of the ramp. This ensures that merging onto the actual highway can be done safely, and also prevents accidents and rage from drivers still on the ramp.

As with roundabouts, the quicker that you can get out of everyone else’s way, the safer and happier everyone — including you — will be. So, next time you come to a merging zone, check your blind spot and think: “zipper.”

Illustration by Ryx Zan

Inside CHS Lunches

Lunch is a wonderful time to get away from normal class activities and, take a break from tests, quizzes, lectures and school work. Students can spend time playing sports, participating in clubs, watching YouTube, chatting with friends, studying for tests, going off campus or doing many other activities.

For the most part, students spend their lunch time eating outside in the courtyard or inside in the commons. While the commons can get pretty crowded at the start of the lunch period, it clears up around the start of B lunch as many students migrate to classrooms or the library where they can chat with friends and work.

The library is a helpful and quiet area for working on projects and studying for upcoming tests and quizzes. What some don’t realize, though, is that the library isn’t just a place to get homework done. It’s also where some students choose to chat with friends and socialize. It is just like the commons or courtyard in that sense, except it is much calmer and quieter.

The courtyard is one of the most exciting areas to sit during lunch be- cause of all that goes on. Every day a free-for-all game of soccer goes on in the courtyard field. The soccer game is also usually accompanied by a neighboring game of ultimate frisbee.

Sophomore Loévan Bost occasionally joins that soccer game, and says he loves the competitiveness that every- one plays with during the games.

Bost has scored a lot of goals, he asserts, so everyone targets him when he plays.

“There aren’t any refs so it can get pretty dangerous with everybody trying to kick each other really hard. I had to retire because I was scoring too many goals,” said Bost.

Students who go to teachers’ rooms do so for many reasons. Some students go to catch up with their teacher, get help with homework, study for tests, make up missed work, work on projects and talk with friends. It is a good way for students to get help with class work so that they can be successful in their classes.

Although lunch is a period that many students enjoy, some believe that it needs to be improved just a little to make it an even more enjoyable time.

“I wish that I had enough time to watch an entire episode of my favorite show during lunch, but sadly, I have never watched an episode of my favorite show from beginning to end during the lunch period. If only we had a few minutes more,” said sophomore Rachel Grau.

Sophomore Brynn Holt-Ling believes that everyone — not just seniors — should be able to go off campus for
lunch.

For the most part, though, lunch is a delightful 53 minutes of students socializing, relaxing, eating and getting classwork done.

The Honors Factor: Student Perceptions

Signing up for high school courses, whether it be for freshman or junior year, unlocks countless combinations of classes and career paths. The classic decision of what classes to take often leads to the same question: should one take standard or honors?

“[I thought] all honors would probably be somewhat challenging,” said Henry Schneider, a Carrboro High School (CHS) freshman who decided to take all honors.

Yet, honors classes were not quite as he had expected.

“The only thing I wanted out of honors that I haven’t really gotten was sort of a faster course load or interesting, new material,” said Schneider.

Misconceptions about the difficulty of the classes one signs up for can cause students to take classes on false assumptions.

“It affects your GPA too,” said Anneliese Merry, a junior at CHS. “You’re told not to take all of these honors classes, but you could just as easily take them, it’s a big GPA boost.”

External pressures also add to the stress; school counselors often direct students when they sign up for their first batch of high school classes.

“I remember in middle school our counselors would definitely push us towards not taking honors or only taking honors that we thought were good for us,” said Merry.

However, honors and standard classes may be more similar than one would expect. Both classes teach the same material with varying levels of work.

“It’s not necessarily that we have a higher level of learning — it’s more like we end up getting more assignments,” said Schneider.

Brian Kelly, another junior at CHS, elaborated on the matter.

“Both the honors and non-honors students have to take the same final at the end of the year,” said Kelly.

Students may also take classes not based on how they think of them, but rather how colleges view them.

“I figured it looks good to other people,” said Schneider when asked to explain why he took all honors.

He also added that he expected the extra workload to be worth the GPA payoff.

Nowadays, many sophomores sign up for multiple AP classes for their junior year to stay competitive; a
small change in one’s schedule can influence how he or she is seen by colleges.

“I took five honors classes my sophomore year and two AP classes, and this year I’m taking four AP classes and three honors classes.” said Kelly. “I think that often there’s a big emphasis put on the difference between honors and AP that isn’t necessarily there.”

Yet, standard courses do remain relevant during the later years of high school. For some, standard classes are better suited for their learning style.

“It’s just a different way to learn,” said Merry. “People who take standard classes aren’t less smart.”

Illustration by Ryx Zan

A Look at Carrboro Segregation

Subarus smattered with Bernie Sanders bumper stickers, moms coming out of yoga in peace sign shirts and little boys running around Weaver Street Market in princess dresses; the slogan of the Town of Carrboro reads “feel free.” Local food markets pride themselves in being co-operative organizations — built on a sense of community, and powered by the unity of all people. A mural that depicts the United States as a “Nation of Many Colors” adorns a brick wall in the city center; it’s easy to see Carrboro as a community that respects diversity.

However, everything changes when citizens return home. As the appearance of integration and inclusivity attracts more rich white liberals to new urban developments, Carrboro’s historic residential communities face the threat of eviction. The gentrifi cation of the town of Carrboro is slowly erasing historically black communities — the very communities that built the town.

The future of historically black neighborhoods, according to the website of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, is important to preserve. The Jackson Center focuses on stabilizing and improving the most historic neighborhood in Carrboro: Northside. Northside originated as a “service community” comprised of free blacks after the end of slavery, many of whom were contracted to do hard labor by the University of North Carolina.

After desegregation, many black businesses were replaced by the primarily white-owned businesses that now reside on Franklin Street. Even local teachers were struggling to find work as the recently desegregated schools hired almost exclusively white teachers. This disruption of infrastructure financially crippled Northside’s residents, and its effects can still be seen when comparing its median household incomes to those of white neighborhoods. Northside’s battle against gentrification in Carrboro has been a long one, and it is still not over.

The town of Carrboro took steps to recognize Northside as a Conservation District in 2004, but this did not stop the displacement of its residents. The U.S. census indicates that the African American population of the Northside area has declined more than 40 percent since 1980, as the boundaries of the neighborhood continue to shrink under recent “urban renewal” plans. In 2008, a former black business district near Northside was replaced by a condominium, housing, almost exclusively wealthy, white students attending the university. Even today, despite continued work to preserve the neighborhood, its black population dwindles;, slowly being overtaken by an influx of affluent white families and college students.

As Carrboro continues to market itself as a town with a basis in social consciousness, it must take concrete steps to meet that commitment. An inclusive community must include the needs of minorities, and if Carrboro continues to neglect the sustainability of the historically black neighborhoods, it is neglecting the sustainability of its people. If the Northside neighborhood continues to shrink, so too does the historical perspective that built the town of Carrboro.

A Voice for Students of Color at CHS

In creating clubs specifically for African American students, two students hope to bring minority students together to express their opinions and to bond with one another.

Diamond Blue, senior, has created a club specifically for Black female students at Carrboro High this year. Her club, Black Girls 4 Black Girls, creates a safe space for Black girls to speak their minds without fear.

“It’s the first club in the ten years that the school has been built that is exclusive to only Black girls and Black women. It’s just a place where we’re completely allowed to say what we want; there’s no boundaries obviously. We’re being respectful. You have to; it’s just a safe environment,” said Blue.

Blue intends for Black Girls 4 Black Girls to not only combat the issues of being a minority in a predominantly white school but also combat the stereotypes surrounding women of color. She intends to make the school more inclusive and have the girls understand that they’re a family.

“Right now in America, division is at it’s peak. Obviously slavery and all of that caused division. We’re not unified, and we’re not joined together as one, so you see a lot [of drama] in the black community [among] females, ”said Blue.

“There are these, for lack of a better term, stupid wars between females.”

Blue works hard to make sure that every girl’s voice is heard and that no student is left behind.

“We have meetings, and we either have guests or we reach out to certain girls that might need extra guidance or help. We just talk to them and kind of guide them. Because the club just started having meetings (it’s fairly new), our agenda is a lot longer than what we’ve been able to accomplish thus far, but basically the club is where we box everybody else and everything else off,” said Blue.

Some peers have pushed back against Blue’s efforts to create the club.

“I’ve had more students than anything find it offensive, saying that it’s problematic because it’s not inclusive to everyone– saying that it’s exclusive – but America, for God’s sake, is not inclusive to everyone. I’ve definitely gotten into a couple arguments about why we need it and why it needs to happen,” said Blue.

For specifically Black and Hispanic boys at CHS, Chris Thompson, a junior, created the Kings Club to unify the male students and give them a voice.

“The purpose [of Kings Club] is to have a safe space for young Black boys at our school,” said Thompson. “We can speak about whatever it is that we need to speak about, and we’re going to touch base on…things that are going on in our classrooms and going around in our school that we need to change.”

The wellbeing of Black students is something he is extremely passionate about, and he is determined to make the club successful.

“Instead of all of us Black boys and Hispanic boys sitting in a principal’s office together, we can sit in one room together and be cool with each other and have a good time and talk about whatever and just be real; you don’t really get the chance to be real in the classroom,” said Thompson. “It’s definitely a good environment for us to be in and to get away.”

Many students feel that having Black Girls 4 Black Girls and Kings Club will unite the minorities at CHS and make the school a better environment for African American and Hispanic students. Now, they hope, all students can have a voice.

Diamond Blue (left) and Chris Thompson (right). Photo by Niya Fearrington. 

BTS: a Look at One Acts

December 14 through 16, the JagTheatre put on a series of performances in Carrboro High’s Blackbox Theater. A product of roughly two months of preparation, the performances—called One Acts—carried on an annual tradition.

One Acts have always been student-led; responsible for the 2017 productions were around 70 students of varying specialties and skill levels. Students in Theater III  and IV served as directors and producers respectively, and students in Technical Theater served as technicians. Further supporting the production were stage manager assistant directors (SMADs) who led in the
case of a director’s absence.

For Brian Kelly, a junior, the 2017 performances marked his first experience with One Acts.

“Different from every other theater student, I was allowed to skip Theater I and II and get directly into Theater III with the  directors,” said Kelly. “However, I have always enjoyed past shows in the audience.”

Kelly directed “Barbie and Ken,” a comedy by Sandra Dempsey. An arduous process, a significant portion of his work as director took place outside of school hours.

“This role has entailed choosing a play to direct; holding auditions and callbacks for the roles I intended to cast; casting my show; planning all set, stage, costume, makeup and sound design; and holding rehearsals for the show,” said Kelly.

One Acts plays each lasted around ten minutes. Historically, the plays had been almost exclusively comedic. Kelly notes, however, that this year was unique in that certain plays had a dramatic tone.

Said Kelly, “[it’s something] I have not seen at Carrboro in a while.”

Among all the components of One Acts, Kelly most appreciates the sense of student independence. He attributes much of the production’s success to Brett Stegall, the event supervisor and a key figure in the performing arts department.

“It isn’t very often you get to direct your own play in high school,” said Kelly. “I think Ms. Stegall has made her own amazing, yet small, community, with classes representing the technical, director, producer and actor perspectives of the theater process.”

Photo courtesy JagTheatre

Bookworm Approved: Best Books of 2017

Looking for a good way to escape the cold this winter? How about cracking open a good book and diving into a world where the cold has vanished?

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

This year many spectacular novels were written. Number one on The New York Times Bestseller List for seven weeks is Turtles All the Way Down By John Green. Green illustrates 16-year-old Aza Holmes’ search for fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett as she struggles with OCD.

This book presents a window into the mind of what a teen struggling with mental illness might have to deal with every day.

I am not your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez also deals with mental illness and is a 2017 National Book Award Finalist. Sánchez tells the story of Julia, who must put her family back together after the death of of her perfect sister, Olga. She does this while being constantly criticized by her mother, ignored by her father and struggling to come to terms her mental illness.

The book features complex characters, love, frustration, Latinx elements and important issues such as mental illness.

I’ll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson narrates the life of two artistic twins, Jude and Noah. This book details a story of first love, betrayal and family told by both the twins but from different points in time.

Chloe Carroll, freshman, loved I’ll Give You the Sun.

“I really liked how Noah thought of art pieces he could make out of each situation… I think it really added to the story,” says Carroll.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, follows Starr as she battles the thick political and emotional waters following the police shooting of unarmed black teen Khalil. The Hate U Give has been on The New York Times Bestseller List for 36 weeks.

Kara Watson, Carrboro’s Librarian, highly recommends the book to everyone.

“I think that [The Hate U Give] sheds light on huge issues — not only police violence but institutionalized racism… I think everyone should read it.” said Watson.

What Girls are Made of by Flana K. Arnold

Similar to I’ll Give You the Sun is What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold. The book is a 2017 National Book Award Finalist, and deals with what love means to main character Nina Faye. Nina learned at a young age that there was no such thing as unconditional love; then, when the boyfriend she would do anything for breaks up with her, she struggles to learn what love means.

The book pushes boundaries and teaches readers about issues that teens need to understand and learn.

It has been a great year for books — especially ones that touch on important issues — and these are only a few of many. No matter what genre or author you chose, any of these books would be a great choice for these winter months.

Chapel Hill Youth Council Works for You(th)

The Chapel Hill Youth Council has been working on plans for a new teen center for the past year. Within the next three months, they hope to ask Chapel Hill Town Council to approve their ideas.

Chapel Hill Youth Council is a group of around 20 high schoolers who meet twice a month to address issues that affect Chapel Hill teens. Their job is to advocate for the interests of teenagers by speaking with Chapel Hill Town Council as well as different Chapel Hill boards and committees.

Jonah Perrin, a senior, joined Youth Council this year. He values the group because of the voice it gives teenagers.

“Even though we can’t vote, we are important,” said Perrin.

There is already a teen center in Chapel Hill, located in the basement of the historic post office on Franklin Street. However, the space has myriad issues.

There are no doors on the boys bathrooms (making them unusable) and the lights flicker. The ceiling leaks, the walls are graffitied, and the room is home to a number of random, even dangerous objects: electrical spikes that stick out of the walls, an assortment of old microwaves and an exposed fire-hydrant.

“It is not a functioning space,” said Susannah Broun, president of Chapel Hill Youth Council and a senior at East Chapel Hill High.

Perrin agrees.

“There are parts of [the basement] that are kind of scary,” said Perrin.

The teen center is currently a home for local youth-centered organizations, including Blackspace — a recording studio and self-described “hub for Afrofuturism” — and One Song Productions, a youth-run theatre company. It also hosts rotating summer camps and afterschool programs.

Chapel Hill Youth Council hopes the new teen center will continue providing this meeting space while also including new amenities. Possible additions include ping-pong tables or a basketball court, college/career counseling services, art or language classes and an open study space.

More broadly, Youth Council hopes to create a space where teens from across Chapel Hill/Carrboro can come together.

“The teen center should be a place where teenagers can meet, collaborate and foster youth engagement,” said Broun.

Designs for the new center will in part be inspired by the Seymour Center, an Orange County center for Senior Citizens.

The Seymour Center is a newly renovated building on Homestead Road that contains a theatre and restaurant, hosts guest lectures, provides social workers and offers classes in fitness, arts, dance and languages.

While Youth Council does not intend to completely replicate the Seymour Center, they think it reflects the goals they have for the new teen center.

“Senior citizens have this really nice place where they can get the things they need. It’s well funded, and it looks really nice, and [the teen center] is not,” said Perrin. “We’re trying to make progress towards a center that fits our needs.”

The location of the proposed new teen center is not yet set, but Youth Council isn’t picky.

“We’ll take whatever land Town Council will give us,” said Broun.

Individuals interested in supporting the new teen center can sign Youth Council’s online petition. Broun also suggest attending Town Council meetings whenever possible and speaking with adults about the importance of the teen center.

Chapel Hill Youth Council President Susannah Broun in front of the current Teen Center

Photos courtesy Jonah Perrin and Susannah Broun.