Student Government Elections: Popularity Contests?

The Carrboro High School student government elections have passed, and students have elected the candidates for the 2019-2020 school year. Now that the elections are finished, it’s important to consider the factors at play that get candidates elected: do their platforms have the biggest influence, are they good at campaigning, or does their level of popularity make them more likely to get elected?

Ryan Severance, the student government association (SGA) advisor, thinks that popularity has a strong influence on the elections, although he hopes the school will focus more on candidates platforms, rather than their social standings.

“One thing that we’ve been trying to encourage SGA to do and the future candidates to do was reach out to some of those student groups that don’t normally get talked to,” Severance said.

The SGA has been making more of an effort to reach out to those student groups, specifically students of color and ESL students. These efforts, Severance hopes, will make popularity less of an influence. However, he acknowledges that there isn’t a way for popularity to not be a factor in student government elections.

“I would love to say that people are voting more on what the [candidate] can do and not just because of popularity, because I think sometimes when we vote strictly off of popularity we don’t always get the best results,” Severance said.

Isabel Simmons, CHS junior, who will be SGA’s president next year, thinks that popularity influencing the election is two-pronged.

“On one hand, you want the person that’s representing you to be someone that you know and someone that you trust because otherwise you don’t feel comfortable going up to them and voicing your problems or your concerns. On the other hand, and this comes back to this other idea of popularity [where we are electing] a certain type of person, absolutely that’s a problem,” she said.

She pointed out that there are two different kinds of popularity: being well known or being a certain type of person.

Simmons suggested that many SGA students might be elected because of their identity, such as being a white student from Southern Village, acknowledging that she falls into that category. In the coming school year, she wants to work with the freshman class to make sure that more people from diverse backgrounds are represented. She also hopes to show that student government is for everyone, that there isn’t a mold you have to fit into.

Taylor Gwynne, CHS junior, feels like popularity is a big factor in SGA elections, with people feeling obligated to vote for their friends, specifically for the vice-president position. She thinks that, historically, SGA has been very exclusive and popularity-based, something she thinks needs to change.

“I think it would be interesting to run an election without faces, giving everyone a chance to post their platform and people vote solely off of a written platform and bio about the person. The problem is that this isn’t how real elections are run and students need to learn how to evaluate a candidate and cast their vote like they would when they turn 18,” Gwynne said.

Now that the elections have passed, it may not seem relevant to talk about student government anymore. However, it’s important to recognize how popularity can and does influence CHS and to be aware of it, whether you approve of it or not.

A Day Without English

On Tuesday, April 23, the National Spanish Honors Society is having a Day Without English, or the Spanish-a-thon. This day is to challenge students in Spanish classes to only speak Spanish from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Organizers hope to raise funds for National Spanish Honors Society projects, however, only members are raising money. This leaves the challenge open to other Spanish students to practice their conversational skills.

The members of Spanish Honors Society are getting pledges from students and parents who will support them on their day of only speaking Spanish.

While the monetary incentive only benefits the National Spanish Honors Society, Arwen Helms, one of the three co-presidents of the Society, thinks that this challenge will be beneficial to all students enrolled in Spanish classes.

“If you only speak Spanish for a little bit of your day, you’re never really going to learn it. [For example,] you might learn ‘if they give me this word, I can tell them what the word is in Spanish,’ but you won’t be able to converse, and that’s the most important part of learning a language to me,” Helms said.

Despite the fact that this challenge will make in communicating with teachers and other non-Spanish speaking students, Helms highlighted the importance of being able to go a day speaking Spanish.

“To actually translate [speaking Spanish] into the real world in the future, I should be able to go a day speaking Spanish, because if I want to travel to Spain or something I want to be able to communicate,” she said.

If you want to participate in the Day Without English and challenge yourself, all Spanish teachers have sign-up forms. Make sure to sign up before Tuesday!

Carrboro’s First Mental Health Fair

On Monday, April 8, Carrboro High School hosted a Mental Health Fair in the back of the library. The purpose of this fair was to bring awareness to mental illnesses, ways to get involved in the community and the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. Both psychology and health classes visited the fair, hoping to learn more about mental health.

The fair hosted several individuals and organizations to speak about careers in mental health, how to help others, how to get resources and how to fight the stigma against mental health.

Dr. Allen O’Barr, the director of Counseling and Psychology services at UNC, along with two resident psychiatrists, informed the students about the field of psychiatry.

Four different organizations visited the school, hoping to provide resources for students to help themselves or people around them.

HopeLine is a Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention organization that runs a hotline for people who want to talk about their issues.

Mental Health First Aid is a course that helps you recognize and respond to situations of mental health crises.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is an advocacy group that educates, supports and advocates for people living with mental illness and the people surrounding them.

The Faith Connections on Mental Illness is an organization that works with faith communities to advocate and become more comfortable with the fact that there are people with mental illnesses in their community.

Lauren Hobgood, a member of Active Minds, a nonprofit organization at UNC that works to raise mental health awareness among college students, organized the event. Hobgood doesn’t remember seeing anything like the Mental Health Fair when she was in high school. Having seen more resources available in college, she wanted an accessible way for high schoolers to view all of the potential resources that they can use or recommend to a friend.

A driving factor that many of the organizations pushed was being accepting and aware of mental illnesses. If you or anyone in your life needs mental health help, feel free to go to any of these organizations to get accessible services.

CHS is National Runner Up in No Barriers Challenge

From left to right: Nick Visco, Jackson Lee, Isabella Olson, Kyla Staton, Kayla Hampton, Eleanor Clark, Nichole Noel and Jordan Smith hold up their winnings. Photo by Ella Terry.

A team of nine Carrboro High students has won National Runner Up in the No Barriers Global Impact Challenge. The team, called Spectrum Unfiltered, includes Eleanor Clark, Jarrad Cotten-Fox, Kayla Hampton, Jackson Lee, Nichole Noel, Isabella Olson, Jordan Smith, Kyla Staton and Nicholas Visco: a diverse group of students spanning several grade levels.

The No Barriers Global Impact Challenge is a national challenge where groups of students create projects to increase inclusion and diversity in their communities and break down barriers, hence the name. Spectrum Unfiltered planned a film festival that will showcase films that raise awareness of the issues that people face every day and how by facing those challenges, they’ve become stronger people. The film festival aims to start conversation in the Chapel Hill- Carrboro community involving people of all races, orientations, abilities and origin.

The idea for this film festival originated at CHS’s Culture Fest with newcomer students, according to Melissa Barry, a CHS teacher who works with students who have disabilities.

“In the audience there were newcomer students who were getting excited when their country was coming up, but then the entire movie was about facts about the country from a very American perspective, and many of the students were sharing that it wasn’t capturing all of [the countries],” said Barry.

After Culture Fest, Spectrum Unfiltered decided to continue the idea of the film festival. The team interviewed several different people in the community to get different perspectives and have conversations about discrimination and acceptance.

Barry thinks that the interviews really solidified the students’ desire to continue with the project.

“I think that that kind of the foundation for this project is how much value each of us has, layered with all of the things that make us human. Layered with our imperfections, layered with our struggles, layered with our challenges that we all have such value,” said Barry.

The monetary compensation and the project being recognized on a national level is very encouraging for the team.

“We didn’t know if we were going to win anything or not, and the fact that we get this money, and we get to actually make a difference in our community means a lot to me and the rest of us,” said Kayla Hampton, a CHS sophomore.

Even without this money, the team still planned on doing this film festival, but now they’ve got a head start.

“Having the foundation to be able to start [the project] with some of the prize money and the recognition is really really cool,” said Jordan Smith, junior.

What’s next for the team? They want to be done filming the movies by June so that they will be able to edit over the summer and ideally have them done for teacher training in August. This will help teachers get an idea of their students and go into the year with ideas of acceptance. August is also an optimal time for showing the films at public venues that the team has looked into because the weather will still be nice.

Congratulations to this hardworking team for winning national runner up!

Spanish Students Celebrate Annual Valentine’s Challenge

Today, during lunch, Señora Hill, CHS Spanish teacher, hosted the tenth Annual Valentine’s Couples’ Challenge in her room. The challenge invites anyone from couples to friends to participate in the contest. Student contestants answer trivia questions about Hispanic culture or grammar questions, based on the Spanish curriculum.

While this is the tenth challenge, today was the first time it’s been brought to CHS. Hill previously taught at Chapel Hill High School. After a pair buzzed in with the correct answer, Hill asked a bonus question, related to the pair.

This year’s winners are Susannah Peterson, freshman, and Grace Herman, freshman.  

CHS celebrates with Community Dinner

February is Black History Month, and to remember and celebrate black excellence throughout history, the annual Community Dinner is happening this Thursday at CHS.

Carrboro High Community Dinners have taken place for the past 12 years, and they celebrate black culture, history and excellence. The dinners look back on famous historical figures and invite black students to safely share their school experiences as part of a predominantly white student body.

Zoyie Mangaroo, CHS senior, will be on a student panel.

“Being on the student panel allows me to speak about my experiences as a student of color in the CHCCS district, and brain storm ideas with people in our community on how we can help African American students successed and stop the micro aggression and outside school suspension,” said Mangaroo, via email. “This also allows people in our community to hear about the different things happening with and to African American students, and how they can help.”

This year’s theme is “Black Excellence: Student Voices, Community Connections,” with panels from students, photos from the Civil Rights Movement in Chapel Hill and a guest speaker. The Marion Cheek Jackson Center, a center working towards preserving the future of historically black neighborhoods in Chapel Hill, will display photos from the Civil Rights Movement in Chapel Hill, some coming from the National Museum for African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Howard Lee, a former senator in the North Carolina General Assembly, is speaking on Thursday, the first black mayor of Chapel Hill, and the first black mayor of a majority white southern town. After his time as mayor, Lee went on to serve in the North Carolina Senate for 8 years. Lee focuses on the issues facing public education, including the achievement gap.

The Community Dinner aims to bring students, teacher, parents and people from different backgrounds together to celebrate black history, black excellence and black students at CHS. The dinner gives a chance for black students to be recognized and to let their voices be heard in a community that is primarily white.

The Community Dinner is on February 7, from 6-8pm in the Carrboro High School Commons. To RSVP, use this link:

The CHS Latin Program Presents: The Underworld

The Latin Underworld is upon us again, bringing a day of mythology to the CHS auditorium. Latin students prepare monologues for significant figures in the Underworld and deliver them as classes walk through the auditorium, as if they had become part of the Underworld.


Jane McGee, CHS Latin teacher explained what the Underworld is for those who don’t know.

“The Underworld is a reenactment, a visual presentation of the Ancient Roman and Greek concept of what happened after life,” she said.


It’s an opportunity for students to learn more about mythology, a topic that is heavily alluded to in popular culture and literature, such as many of Shakespeare’s works or more current works, such as the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series. It also makes appearances in other social studies classes, such as world history.


“When you’re studying world history, you read about the Ancient Romans and the Greeks, and understanding that ancient people had this idea that life didn’t end just because you died. It coexists with modern philosophies and ideologies as well,” said McGee, talking about the importance of mythology in modern education.


Audrey Carson and Zoe Morris are two of the seniors that are helping to plan this year’s Underworld, and they went into more specific details about the event.


“We’re going off, I think, the Aeneid now, where basically Aeneas entered the Underworld–someone gave him a golden bough and that allowed him to enter and leave as a mortal, and so we’re kind of playing on that with the classes now,” said Carson.


The Underworld takes place on Wednesday November 7, between 1st and 4th periods. Last year, teachers had to bring coins to get into the Underworld, but this year, they’re bringing golden boughs, or golden branches, as seen in the Aeneid, a myth about the Trojan hero who traveled to Italy and was the ancestor of the Romans.


Even though students read the Aeneid and other works involving figures in the Underworld, mythology isn’t a part of the curriculum for high school Latin classes, so this is an opportunity for the Latin students to learn more about these characters they’ve mentioned in class, and dive deeper into their myths.


Some major figures and myths that will be represented are Hades and Persephone–or, as the Romans would say, Pluto and Proserpina–Cerberus, the three headed dog, Dido, Aeneas, Tantalus and many more.


While the real Underworld is divided into three main sections, the CHS Underworld isn’t as accurate, but makes more sense.


“So we have the outside area of people who would’ve been the threshold to the Underworld, and then we have an area that’s kind of the land of heroes, so that would be like the Elysian fields, and then there’s also an area [where] it’s still the heroes but it’s not quite the paradise image,” said Morris, “And then we have Tartarus for the tortured souls, and then we have Hades’ palace and then like a few people who are stationed at the gates in between two places.”


Along with expanding students’ knowledge of mythological characters, the Underworld gives Latin students a platform for their language.


“It just seemed important to give the Latin students, who have very little opportunity to broadcast their language–it’s not the spoken language of Spanish or French, to give them presence within the school,” explained McGee.


Morris agrees, adding on that it gives the Latin class a bit of character, and allows the rest of the school to see what the Latin students are about.