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.

Longstanding Carrboro Tradition Inspires Giving Back

This year, Karen refugees graduated from CHS will be able to see their friends and family for the first time after coming to the United States, with the help of our students and a fundraiser run by student government.

Winter Links is a long-standing tradition at Carrboro. The yearly fundraiser is hosted by student government and encourages giving back to the local community in a friendly competition between homeroom classes.

Students are encouraged to give back by donating money to a chosen organization. Every time a student donates money, it goes towards a “winter link:” a piece of color paper used to create a decorative chain that is a creative way to show the progress of how much money each class has raised. 

In past years SGA has chosen organization such as Positive Impacts for Kids, a nonprofit run by junior Leanne Joyce.

This year SGA chose to fund a project that teacher John Hite started. Hite is organizing a trip over the summer of 2018 for Burmese Karen refugees, all of whom are former or current students.

The goal is to raise enough money to help the students to travel to Thailand over the summer to visit friends and family living in refugee camps.  

“It would be very meaningful to these former CHS students to be able to know that their school and community is in support of them and their desires to reconnect with friends and family,” Hite said.

The charity is hoping to collect enough funds to visit Burma (Myanmar) as well, if it’s safe, because not all of the students’ families are currently living in Thailand.

Paw Ray, Ser Gay Paw, Danielle Montgomery, Mu Eh Pay, Eh Mu Ra, Tay Nay Sar and John Hite at a food fundraiser at Transplanting Traditions Community Farm

Throughout the year, Hite and the group will be doing more fundraisers in order to raise more  money for their trip, such as multicultural nights, food fundraisers  and possible silent auctions.

A Gamble that Doesn’t pay Off

Underfunding of North Carolina schools is not a new issue, no matter how fresh and exciting the topic may seem based on recent movements and the gubernatorial election. In 2006, the state ranked 45th out of 51 (including DC) for raising teacher salary, according to the National Education Association.

One possible solution was the NC Education Lottery, but how does the lottery affect NC schools today, and are there drawbacks?

At the lottery’s creation in 2006, proponents, including former governor Mike Easley, promised that the program would add an extra half a billion dollars every year towards education.  

As of June 2016, the lottery generated over $4.6 billion. Of that sum, Orange County was awarded $46,067,044 in total, including $7,285,302 last year. But today the state spends less per pupil than before the lottery was instated.

One possible reason for the decrease in spending, despite an increase in revenue, is that sometimes lottery money simply replaces other sources of revenue such as corporate income tax.  

In 2012, the General Assembly lowered corporate income tax after it was removed from the budget for the construction of new schools and replaced by lottery funds.

Further, critics believe the lottery to be its own kind of “tax” on the poor, because poor individuals are more likely to spend and lose money on tickets.

Business Insider reported that, across all states, when the economy goes down, lottery revenue goes up.  At the height of the 2008 recession, 22 states set record high lottery sales, and spending on the NC Education Lottery is highest in the poorest counties. Why? When individuals can’t afford traditional forms of investment, like stock, they see cheap lottery tickets as their own form of investment.  

A 2004 study by Garrick Blalock, David R. Just, and Daniel H. Simon reported that in California, around 75 percent of players who made less than $30,000 a year said they play the lottery for money instead of fun, while only percent of players making over this margin said the same to be true.

And although possible earnings are huge, an investment of this sort is not likely to pay out.  The chances of winning top prizes have been calculated as one in one million in some draws.

The lottery may not actually be responsible for lower spending on education compared to before the lottery began; these decreases could only be evidence of a larger, more deeply-rooted trend.

Spending on education in general has been steadily decreasing since the 1980s.   Education made up 43.7% of the state budget in 1984, 42% in 1994, 41.1% in 2004, and 37% in 2014.  

But whatever the reason for the budget cuts, many school districts are now forced to choose between raising taxes or working with limited resources.

While the lottery does claim to invest 95% of their profit back in the state in forms  of prizes and educational investments, the game is simply another form of income for the government. In 2011, the General Assembly covered a shortage in Medicaid funding by using $26 million of lottery winnings, inciting controversy.  

Both gubernatorial candidates, Pat McCrory (R) and Roy Cooper (D) show support for allocating more of the lottery’s revenue towards education.

Regardless of possible misuse of funds on the part of elected officials, some members of the public support the lottery and its attempt to strengthen public education.

“I appreciate what the lottery does for education and I think about it a lot. It means a lot that when people buy tickets, someone down the street could get an education from it,” said Michael Pepper, who won one million dollars playing Powerball, and whose quote is displayed on the Education Lottery’s home page.  

But this is a quote from someone who won big.  It’s harder to see or care about those who lose, because their losses are small in comparison to prizes that amount to more than many residents make in a year.  Yet no matter how spread out, across school districts serving thousands or poor communities home to tens or hundreds of thousands, these losses add up quickly.

Photo courtesy WXII News

Blast to the Past: A Look Back at the First Four-Year Graduating Class of CHS

Two thousand and seven: the year Steve Jobs released the first iPhone, J.K. Rowling published the final installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President (and became a household name) and the chart-topping song was Umbrella by Rihanna.

As people prepared for the last Harry Potter book, or the newest technology, a handful of students in Carrboro and Chapel Hill prepared for their first day of a new school. In August of 2007, Carrboro High School opened its doors for the first time, welcoming a class of freshman and sophomores from Chapel Hill High. 2007 seems like a different world, but it wasn’t even ten years ago. As we come up on Carrboro’s tenth anniversary, we spoke with some of the first Carrboro graduates (class of 2010-2011) to see what they had to say about their experiences at CHS.

Adam Glasser

Currently: Working as a teacher assistant at a elementary school during the day and attending classes at NC State at night.

High school activities: Track, Cross Country, Basketball, and Lacrosse

Adam Glasser in High School before T Dance. Photo courtesy Adam Glasser.

Adam Glasser in High School before T Dance. Photo courtesy Adam Glasser.

What were some of your favorite memories from your time at Carrboro?

The pranks we pulled my senior year were memorable. Three of my buddies inadvertently set fire to the grass behind the school while setting off fireworks. This should be part of Carrboro history forever in my opinion. During senior week, we filled up what must have been thousands of cups full of water and covered the halls with them. The next morning, the seniors had to clean up the cups, which was probably a mistake on the administration’s part because we ended up sending waves of water into various math classrooms. Now that I am working at a school, I want to apologize for these shenanigans on behalf of the Class of 2011!

What are some defining characteristics of Carrboro?

I love how tight knit Carrboro was when I was a student there. I think I knew just about every face in the school (and almost every name). When I was living in San Francisco this past year, I went to the Bay Area’s “Official UNC vs. Duke Game Watch Party”. I recognized four other Jaguars that were at Carrboro with me when I was in high school. Even though we had graduated in different years, it was great catching up with them and bonding with them over our experiences as Carrboro students.

Anna Noone

Currently: Working for the legislative and public policy group at Arnold & Porter, a law firm in DC.

High school activities: Class council, Model UN, Spanish Honors Society

Anna Noone (middle) in high school. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.

Anna Noone (middle) in high school. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.


What were some of your favorite memories from your time at Carrboro?

I don’t know if they still do or allow this, but our class council had a lot of school lock ins and those were always so much fun. AP Bio (weird as this sounds) was another favorite. Before my junior year I took a trip to Spain with a group from the school which was amazing. Just generally though most of my best friends are my high school friends – so most of the time I spent there was great.

Anna Noone (right) this year with friends. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.

Anna Noone (right) this year with friends. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.

How do you think your time at Carrboro has influenced you today?

I did not realize while I was at Carrboro how important it was to have such an open, inclusive community that really rejected a lot of the types of prejudice you see in other similar schools. I found it to be very accepting but thought that was the norm until I spoke with people who had had very different experiences in high school, with more racism or homophobia or exclusive cliques. I think it made me a more confident person and more comfortable with myself than I may otherwise have been. Definitely don’t take that for granted.

Do you have any advice for this year’s graduating class, going through their senior year of high school right now?

Don’t take it for granted.  Senior year has the potential to be so much fun, but at the same time don’t go too crazy. Don’t stress too much about college; Carrboro High does about as good a job of preparing you for college as you can do. Take your AP exams seriously – you’ll love getting placed out of gen eds in college. It’s never too early to start planning ahead.

Abby Dennison

Currently: Moving back from a year in Paris and relocating to California, where she’s studying to become a French teacher at Stanford.

High school activities: Marching Band, Math team, Jagwire writer, JAG and SPOT

Abby Denison in a marching band outfit in high school. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.

Abby Denison in a marching band outfit in high school. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.


What are some defining characteristics of Carrboro?

What strikes me about Carrboro looking back is how much freedom we had. So many of the organizations, initiatives, and special events were nearly entirely student-run—it was a little like Lord of the Flies, except with really happy and positive outcomes. (So, I guess, not at all like Lord of the Flies…) It felt like we were really self-governed and self-directed. Because the school was new, students could start anything and everything. Really, nothing was impossible! And we had teachers who trusted us, cared about us, and encouraged us to dream big.

Carrboro was also a place of community action, where students and teachers alike were passionate about social causes, political reform, and big ideas. Pretty cool for a high school!  This, I know, hasn’t changed, and is part of the core of what Carrboro is. I hope that the community holds onto this; it has the power to be truly transformative for the students that pass through here.

Abby Denison in Paris this year. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.

Abby Denison in Paris this year. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.

How do you think your time at Carrboro has influenced you today?

I was a late bloomer for sure, and Carrboro was such a safe and welcoming space for me to learn who I was. It was a place where it was cool to be nerdy, where everybody knew everybody, and where we really loved to learn and debate and create. Now that I’m becoming a teacher myself, I realize how special this is! Carrboro introduced me to so many fantastic role models and new ideas…the teachers really, sincerely believed in our potential as a generation. Their encouragement gave me the confidence to take risks and try new things, and I think that’s carried me into college and beyond.

Top photo: Adam Glasser at a school in Capetown, South Africa this year.  Photo courtesy Adam Glasser.

CHCCS Olympics

Carrboro High students are now able to fight for glory against their friends from different schools in the district. This summer, the Student Government Association (SGA) from all three CHCCS high schools met several times to discuss a way to increase competition and unity between the district high schools.

Inspired by the Summer Olympics, SGA leaders decided to create a CHCCS Olympics of their own.

When brainstorming events to connect the three schools, East Chapel Hill President Jopsy Bayog suggested SGA create an event out of activities they already knew how to organize, like powderpuff football and men’s volleyball.  “[We wanted to] commemorate the 2016 Summer Olympics and establish a framework for future Student Governments,” said Bayog.

Once every quarter, students from all three schools will compete against each other in one sport. In the first quarter students will play kickball; second quarter, dodgeball; third quarter, powderpuff football and men’s volleyball; and fourth quarter, capture the flag. Kickball tryouts were held on October 14th.

The top three individuals in each event will earn points based on how they place: five points for a first place finish, three for second place, and one for third. The point system will be cumulative with points earned from each event contributing to the final tally.

“The goal is to kind of create competition between the three schools,” said CHS President Grace Nanney. “By doing that you [also] get to hang out with your friends from other schools, and you get to have more spirit within your own school.”

Organizers hope to also instill new traditions.

The school with the most points by the end of the school year will take home a trophy. This prize is inspired by the UNC vs Duke victory bell, a traveling trophy given to the winner of the annual football game between the two famed rivals.

Other prizes will also be sold throughout the year; for example, t-shirts for each school will be sold at the event. To increase friendly competition, the school that sells the highest number of t-shirts relative to their school’s size will have points added to their final score.

The CHCCS olympics marks the first time student governments of each district high school unite for a year-long event.

“It’s a way for students to get involved and represent their school in a huge way,” said Chapel Hill High School President Kris Chellani in an email. “Hopefully this becomes a tradition that passes on to future SGAs and increases school spirit for all three schools.”

Mackenzie Cox catches a ball for the Carrboro kickball team.  Photo by Mireille Leone

New Teachers of Carrboro

Every year we welcome a handful a new teachers to Carrboro with open arms.  Get to know some of the newest members of the CHS faculty.

Jacqueline Smith

Jacqueline Smith adds a positive and fresh attitude to Carrboro High School.  She taught previously in Durham and Ohio, and loves Carrboro already.

“Carrboro is by far the best school I have taught at,” she said.  Smith praises CHS for its very inviting atmosphere.  

Jaqueline Smith in a world history class. Photo by Levi Hencke.

Jaqueline Smith in a world history class

“The students and staff are enthusiastic and friendly. I am also enjoying the strong sense of community at CHS,” she said.  Smith teaches world history and civics & economics, and is the new Freshman Class Advisor.

A fun fact is that she was an extra in the movie The Ides of March starring Ryan Gosling and George Clooney.  The opening scene of the movie was filmed at Miami University, where Smith went to college, and you can see her twice in the first few minutes.

Lisa Rubenstein

While Ms. Rubenstein isn’t a new face to CHS, she is an honorary new teacher after having taking a break to teach abroad. Currently, she teaches ninth grade English and AP Literature.

Ms. Rubenstein’s experience spans beyond high school english. She has also taught Spanish, typing and math.  An avid traveler, Ms. Rubenstein has worked at schools around the country and world in places such as California, Canada, Jamaica, Mozambique, Kenya and Italy.

“Carrboro is different because it’s small for an American public school, and it also has a well-maintained campus, ” said Rubenstein.  In her free time she enjoys making and selling jewelry.

Anna Lewis

“Carrboro is different from other schools because of how close the students are to each other. It is refreshing to see students laughing with each other instead of tearing each other down,” said Anna Lewis, the newest face of the science department.

Anna Lewis teaches an environmental science class. Photo by Mireille Leone.

Anna Lewis teaches an environmental science class

Lewis teaches Earth and Environmental Science as well as AP Environmental Science. Previously, she has taught chemistry, physical science and astronomy. After a long day of work, Lewis enjoys relaxing and watching an episode of Gilmore Girls or Golden Girls, her two favorite TV shows.

Top photo: Lisa Rubenstien helps student Gavin Leone in a 9th grade English class.  Photo by Mireille Leone.