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 (http://www.globalcitizenyear.org/.)

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.”

Behind the Legend of Ms. Uzun-Byrnes’ Cats

Nearly every student in Ms. Uzun Byrnes’ CHS English classes must’ve asked her the question. Conflicting claims and outlandish accusations have characterized the legend of Ms. Uzun-Byrnes’ cats for years. So, in this Jagwire-exclusive interview, we will finally learn the truth.

One of Ms. Uzun Byrnes’ cats, Zelda Sprinkles. Photo courtesy Ms. Uzun’s Website

This is an interview with Ms. Uzun Byrnes from January 25th, 2017. The JagWire has edited it for content and brevity.

JagWire: How many cats do you have?

Sibel Uzun Byrnes: I have eight—yes, eight—cats.

JW: Do you have photographic evidence of all eight?

SUB: Yes, just not like all together though. And not right here. When I say I have eight cats, people say, “What! No you don’t!” That’s their first response, and so then people say, “Well, let’s see pictures of them.” You know, I don’t feel like I have to justify myself.

JW: So, you’re tired of the constant questioning?

SUB: This whole interview is part of that!

JW: We’re just trying to get to the truth. What are your cats’ names, and do any of their names have any significance?

SUB: So, I have Zelda Sprinkles, Herbert Poindexter the third, Madeline, Holly and Lucky, Cooper, and then Lynx. Those are my eight cats. Wait—did I say seven, did I leave one off? Oh, yeah, Tristesse Eleanor. Some of them have literary meanings, and some of them are just names that I think are cute. Like Zelda, for example,  I named her for Zelda Fitzgerald—F. Scott Fitzgerald, he’s my favorite author, and Zelda’s his wife. But then, my husband named her Zelda because he likes Legend of Zelda the video game. So her name has a double significance.

JW: Is there any one thing—maybe an event, a person, or a particular cat—that created your obsession with cats?

SUB: I think my parents had a lot to do with that, because growing up I was actually never allowed to have pets. So, once I like graduated from college I just went the total other route and said, “Now that I can, I’m just gunna get a bunch of cats.” And, I’ve always been a cat-person because I just can’t really handle all of like the hyperactivity of a dog—the barking and the jumping on you. Cats are just—you know—[cooler].

JW: Do you ever talk to your cats?

SUB: All the time. I have conversations with them.

JW: So they talk back?

SUB: Okay…I mean, they do talk back because they meow. I feel like they kind of understand what I’m saying. I’ve read if you say “beautiful” to them enough, then they understand it’s a good word. So I call my cats beautiful all the time, and I have conversations with them.

JW: Did you buy your cats from a breeder or adopt them?

SUB: A lot of them…people will like post on Facebook: “Found a litter of kittens,” or: “Found this kitten behind a dumpster,” and then “Oh, I’m gonna  give them to a shelter and they’re gonna  get put down because I can’t take care of them because I have a pitbull.” Then, I’m always like, “Oh yes! I’ll take her! Please…don’t give her up.”

JW: Do you have any funny stories about your cats?

SUB: One of my cats, Zelda Sprinkles, I actually entered her into a costume contest last semester. I dressed her up as a crazy cat lady; she had a wig with curlers and a robe and mice hanging off of her robe. And she won! I felt bad, because I thought the prize was gonna be for her, but it was actually from Southern Seasons—it was a really nice gift basket for my husband and I.

JW: Do you have anything else you’d like to share with the school about your cats?

SUB: Yeah. I know that a lot of people don’t believe that I have eight cats. So, yeah, hopefully this interview will set the record straight.

Editor’s note: Ms. Uzun denied our request for photos of all eight cats, saying, “I like keeping an air of mystery around this topic.”

Carrboro Students Represent at D.C. Marches

Saturday morning, January 21, 2017, I woke up in anticipation of what was about to happen. This wasn’t a day like any other; to me it was the beginning of making history. As I pulled on my pink hat and “Nasty Woman” t-shirt, there was a palpable excitement in the air that made me both anxious and determined. In less than three hours, I would be standing with hundreds of thousands of women, protesting for equality everywhere. All of this a mere ten minutes away from the White House. But there was nothing that could have fully prepared me for what I was about to experience at the Women’s March on Washington.

It’s hard to believe that the Women’s March, which brought more than half a million people to D.C. in protest, started with a Hawaiian grandmother asking friends to march in protest of gender inequality, as well as other issues, on Inauguration Day. Soon enough, one post became many, and a march became the march that garnered worldwide support.

The march featured speakers such as Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, America Ferrera, Cecile Richards and Tammy Duckworth. They promoted the unity of women in the face of all differences. The rally, which was supposed to end at 1pm, ran long due to the number of speakers. By 3pm, there were over 500,000 marchers in D.C.

CHS Freshmen Fiona Galinsky and Kaya Hencke marched at the Washington rally. Both were very excited about what the march could accomplish.

“I’m going because it’s important to show that we need as many people there as possible to make an impact. This needs to be marched for. This needs to be recognized. It’s important to stand up for these issues,” Galinsky said before the march.

Despite warnings of potential violence, the march proceeded safely and without disruption. In the late afternoon, the protesters began to march down the Mall, chanting and hoisting creatively powerful signs above the sea of pink hats. Many signs contained messages of hope, but others were more defiant. There were many common phrases such as “Love trumps hate” and “Proud to be a Nasty Woman”. There were more unique signs as well, that said things like “Don’t grab my civil rights,” “Speak truth to power,” and “Hope not Grope.”

D.C. marchers hold up signs in support of gender equality. Photo by Chelsea Ramsey

According to Taylor Gosk, a Carrboro senior who also protested at the D.C. march, she felt that the march promoted nothing but inclusion and unity. “A lot people beforehand were warning me about the safety, but it was just the safest place ever,” said Gosk after the march. “Everyone was so welcoming and helpful, [and] there was a sense of passion. I just didn’t think it would be that inspirational.”

Closer to home was the Raleigh march, which many Carrboro students attended as well. Two students, Emily Joashi and Angelique Streamo-Pinard, went together. They described the atmosphere of the march as energetic and positive.

“It made me realize that if you all think the same thing, all have one similar view, you can come together with each other to achieve a goal. Since we were all there under a common thing, we were able to do it together,” said Joashi.

For many students, this isn’t the end of their protesting. Some, like Gosk, are planning on marching or volunteering for other causes near to their hearts. As Streamo-Pinard said, “Let your voice be heard.”

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

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. 

School’s Out! Determining a Snow Day

Winter: the season of holidays, hot chocolate and — best of all for students — canceled school. Some years, the number of district snow days reaches a total of two weeks or more. However, many students and parents never stop to consider who makes the decision to cancel school, and how, even though it affects their lives considerably during the winter months.

Assistant superintendent Todd Lofrese is in charge declaring snow days, and his insights may clarify the process for parents and students.

“It’s a difficult decision,” LoFrese said. “It isn’t something we take lightly. We want to hold school whenever possible, but safety is first and foremost.”

First, Lofrese and his colleagues must consider school and road conditions. Even if conditions seem clear to adults, driving on icy or snowy roads is especially challenging for high school students if they don’t have a lot of experience.

Furthermore, even if roads in and around Chapel Hill-Carrboro are clear, staff who live in other districts might be facing different, possibly worse, conditions entirely.  Because the state Department of Transportation prioritizes highways over city and rural roads, cleanup can also be slower than expected.

Lofrese thinks there are misconceptions about the process of canceling school, though critics are not necessarily ill intentioned. “Some parents and staff like to know [whether or not there will be school] as early as possible,” he said, so if school is canceled, they will have time to arrange for childcare.

Chapel Hill covered in snow during a storm last year. Photos by Sofia Dimos.

Many surrounding districts call families with a verdict the night before a possible snow day, while CHCCS often makes that call the morning of.

Lofrese pointed out that these surrounding districts are geographically larger, and their buses start leaving to pick up kids as early as four in the morning. Buses in CHCCS, on the other hand, leave around six o’clock, meaning district officials have the luxury of waiting until the morning to make a decision.

This extra time can be very helpful, said Lofrese. Because of North Carolina’s location, weather forecasters sometimes have a difficult time predicting whether precipitation will come in as a rain, or snow/ice.

“Ice is tricky to predict, but extremely treacherous,” LoFrese said. Waiting until the last minute may be more inconvenient, but it helps district officials make the most informed decision.

Next time you find yourself sleeping in on a Tuesday because the roads are covered in a thick blanket of snow, or you’re eagerly awaiting a call from the district late at night, maybe take a second to consider the people and decisions that got you there.

Between looking out for the safety of students, and ensuring school is open 180 days, their job is often complex, and likely stressful.