Melissa Barry: Teacher of the Year

Recently, Carrboro awarded the Teacher of the Year title to Melissa Barry. In Barry’s sixth year teaching at CHS, she finds this award a true honor as it represents a place and profession that are both close to her heart.

Some spend all their lives searching for their true passion or calling in life. For Barry, she always knew she wanted to become a teacher.

“When I walked into my first day of preschool in the Bronx, I knew that [teaching] was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” said Barry.

Barry received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and went on to earn a Masters in Parent Education and Family Support from Wheelock College in Boston, MA. Her career in teaching began with early childhood education and elementary education, and Barry now finds her love for teaching in special education at CHS.

Melissa Barry, CHS Teacher of the Year, plays volleyball with her student, Samantha Mpozampirwe. Photo by Mireille Leone

In working at CHS, Barry most appreciates the sense of community. According to Barry, everyone possesses valuable qualities and skill sets, and Carrboro’s close-knit community provides the ability to nurture this sense of value through education.

“To me, that is what education is all about: the ability to foster a sense of com- munity,” said Barry.

In all professions and paths of life, people learn from role models or sources of inspiration that help shape their interests and who they become. Two of Barry’s most significant role models include her first grade teacher and her high school calculus teacher. To this day, she can recall their first and last names without hesitation, demonstrating the impact both teachers had on Barry as she pursued her passion in education.

“I was always attuned to the profession,” said Barry. “Along the way I have found people that inspire me and that I aspire to be more like.”

Barry loves that teaching is full of creative license with priceless opportunities to develop something new every day. In her six years at Carrboro, Barry has only repeated one lesson plan, truly maximizing her use of creativity in teaching curriculum.

With her accomplishments in teaching, Barry continues to work toward new goals to improve her teaching as well as the overall learning environment at CHS.

“I hope that I do a really good job of creating a classroom community where my students feel valued and respected,” said Barry. “I want to be able to translate that equally well with the staff in a way that they feel their visions and goals can be a force to shape our community.”

CHS Students Strive for Consensuality

This April, the CHS Women’s Rights Advocacy Club (WRA) will present the second annual presentations on rape culture and consent. The club intends to raise awareness about consent, especially for teenagers who may regard the topic with less severity and less information.

The presentations, which former co-presidents Jocelyn Buckley and Allie Walter created last year, provide information about rape and the importance of consent that goes beyond typical knowledge. The WRA will show the presentations again this year to both teachers and students.

The discussions focus mainly on the gray areas of consent. According to a 2015 Washington Post poll, there is still confusion surrounding the topic; the college-aged popualtion is roughly split on whether nodding or removing clothes signifies consent. They outline NC laws about consent in hopes that students will fully understand the legal limitations. Students don’t always have a clear idea of what constitutes consent. Many would also argue that in the digital age particularly, there is an emphasis on hookups and electronic relationships that can create uncertainty when it comes to boundaries.

Information taken from a 2015 Washington Post poll of college students.

The presentations for teachers will also focus on how to deal with the subject of rape or sexual assault in the classroom, as some students can be personally affected by the topic. The goal is to show teachers how to approach the topic of rape, and also how to react to students who may come to them to talk about their own experiences with sexual assault.

Sophomore Nina Neiswender is the president of the WRA. She views these presentations as an important step in educating consenuality and related issues.

“I think that [these presentations] are important because sometimes there are questions that people don’t know how to ask, or people are afraid to ask, and information can get easily skewed based on where it’s coming from,” said Neiswender.

According to her, the club members will specifically inform the students about sexual assault and how to navigate relationships safely and consensually.

“The purpose is to really make sure that everyone has a full understanding of the laws and what they can do to prevent sexual assault, and to make sure everyone is being responsible,” said Neiswender.

The club will show the presentations before prom, in late April, and during lunch in the auditorium. WRA club members encourage people to attend, citing the importance of spreading awareness about these serious issues. If you’re interested in what the club is doing and want to know more, club meetings are held Monday during lunch in Ms. Olsen’s room, or E118. Anyone is invited to join Carrboro’s WRA club.

Spring and Summers Select Shows

One the favorite past times among CHS students is going to concerts in the spring and summer days. Whether it be a more intimate concert in the Cat’s Cradle, or a sellout show in a large venue, CHS students know how to appreciate good music. Here are some of the best and most popular acts heading our way in these warmer months.

The Chainsmokers, The PNC Arena
May 24

The Chainsmokers exploded into the top 40 scene this past year, but their concerts feature more EDM and electronic than their pop songs played on the radio. With hit songs such as “Paris” and “ROSES” The Chainsmokers will perform at PNC Arena on May 24.

Glass Animals, Red Hat
June 6

Glass Animals’ unique sound emanates a calm, relaxing vibe. After releasing their sophomore album How To Be a Human Being, Glass Animals are going on a North American tour. The band has performed at music festivals like Glastonbury Music Festival, and will participate in Bonnaroo this June.

Chance the Rapper, Greensboro
June 7

For Chance the Rapper, one tour was not enough after releasing his Coloring Book album. After success from his first official album, Chance the Rapper is now coming to NC for the second time in one year.

J. Cole will perform in NC on June 18. Photo courtesy Live Nation

J. Cole, Cone Denim Entertainment Center
June 18

North Carolina native J. Cole is seen around the triangle all the time, whether it’s at the mall or at UNC vs. Duke basketball games. On June 18, J. Cole will be performing in his home state. J. Cole’s world tour for his new album 4 Your Eyez Only will be overflowing with people this summer.

Sam Hunt, Walnut Creek
July 28

Even if you don’t like country music, there is nothing like going to an outdoor country concert in the middle of the summer. Sam Hunt’s “15 in a 30” tour summer concert would be the perfect occasion to let loose and have fun this summer! With hits like “House Party” and “Break Up In A Small Town” this concert will be great to go to with your friends, dance and have a good time.

John Mayer, Walnut Creek
August 16

John Mayer is known for being one of the most talented guitar players in recent years. From my own experience, seeing John Mayer perform live is euphoric. Although he is a one man band, his soothing sound never fails to captivate his audience.

John Mayer will be at Walnut Creek Amphitheater on August 16. Photo courtesy Live Nation

SGA Election Goes Into Second Round of Voting

Carrboro students voted today for candidates to represent them in the Student Government Association (SGA) next academic year. After counting votes, the SGA announced that the positions of Student Body President and Treasurer are still up in the air.

To win, a candidate had to garner the majority, not just plurality, of the votes. But candidates only achieved majority votes for a few of the positions: vice president and secretary. Students can re-vote for the remaining two positions tomorrow, this time choosing between the top two candidates in both categories.  SGA will announce the winners of all positions on April 28.

Mr. Schendt announces a secondary voting round on his Twitter page. Photo courtesy @SchendtCHS

Niya Fearrington and Joe Zhang will be the two choices for President, and Cameron Farrar and Ojas Patwardhan are the two finalists for Treasurer.

All four candidates learned of tomorrow’s run-off at the end of the school day. For Zhang, who had a lacrosse game after school, the afternoon was a rush; it involved coordinating a time to meet with Mr. Schendt, hearing the results and then quickly sprinting back to his team. Regardless of the circumstances under which they learned of the secondary voting, all express their gratitude for voters.

The election process isn’t over; the candidates have taken to Instagram over the past few days to encourage voter participation.

I have made it to the secondary elections, and it is essential that you don’t forget to vote for your candidates of choice at this stage in the election,” said Patwardhan via Instagram earlier today.

Going into tomorrow’s final round of voting, all four students praise the other candidates’ efforts. They also acknowledge the role of the school community in helping them run their campaigns. 

“Campaigning is definitely not a one-man job,” said Zhang. “It’s hard work, and it’s a group effort.”

 

Nom Nom Novels

Carrboro’s seventh annual Edible Books Contest took place on Thursday, April 13 in the library. The contest was a part of the National Library Week celebration, which also included activities like book spine poetry — poetry created by stacking books and then reading their titles.

Thursday’s competition included nearly thirty entries. Some were literal — often comical — representations of a book’s title while others depicted important scenes from the story or cover like the mockingjay symbol from The Hunger Games.

Many “books” were made out of cake, but other edible materials included cupcakes, gingerbread, cookies, donuts and pretzels.

Students voted throughout the morning for their favorites entries. Winners Anna O’Connell and Soe Moo each received $25 gift cards to Open Eye Cafe and Al’s Burger Shack respectively.

Anna O’Connell’s entry for the book Bunny Suicides won first place in the teacher category.

An entry by Soe Moo which won first place in the student category.

Librarian Kara Watson started the edible books contest when she came to Carrboro in 2010. She explained that the contest allows students to embrace the joy of reading.

“It’s an opportunity for kids and teachers to be creative and to express how they feel about a book. It’s meant to purely be fun,” said Watson.

In the end, Watson was grateful to Carrboro for making the contest a success.

“It’s a fun way to celebrate what the library does for students and what the students do for the library. It’s a relationship that goes both ways,” Watson said.

Feature photo: A entry representing Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist. Photos by Hope Anderson

The fight for funding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DECA members are decorated winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NC faces democracy troubles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The neglected aftermath of Matthew

Stepping off the ferry onto Grand Bahama Island after 21 continuous hours of traveling felt like seeing the sun for the first time after weeks of rain. That was until we took a second look and noticed the torn off roofs, litter on the streets and the destruction of almost every building.

My siblings and I were bouncing off the walls with excitement because we had never gone on an exotic vacation as a family before, but once we got there, the island was not exactly how we expected it to be.

The first thing we noticed was the trash. It was everywhere: in the trees, in the water, in the middle of the road, on the beach, in the village—everywhere. Along with the trash, all of the palm trees were destroyed. All of the branches were ripped apart and all of the remains were just swept to the side of the road. Similar to palm trees, the houses were ripped to shreds. With winds of over 100 mph, it’s not wonder Hurricane Matthew had a huge impact on these tiny islands.

I arrived almost three months after Hurricane Matthew hit, and the Grand Bahama Island is still suffering from its destruction. Christmas is supposed to be one of the busiest times of the year in the Bahamas, but after the hurricane, only one of the hotels on the island was open. The other hotels had their roofs blown off, windows shattered or paint removed. The hurricane’s destruction left the island a barren mess.

My family had no idea the island would be this beaten. We expected some damage, but nothing to this extent. The island stopped making money after Matthew hit, making it almost impossible to fix the hotels, pick up the trash and replant the trees that were destroyed. Most of the tourists on the island come from cruise ships, but a lot of them stopped visiting the islands after the hurricane hit. This left almost all of the people who live and work in the Bahamas with little to no customers and little to no money.

As a country, we are so oblivious to the effects of natural disasters that do not directly affect us. Families had their homes torn apart, shops ripped from the ground and businesses were ruined by debt.

We are so lucky to live in a place that can recover quickly from any disaster that is thrown our way, as rarely as that happens, and we continuously take it for granted.

Hurricane Matthew hit NC pretty badly as well, but North Carolinians are not as reliant on tourism and the beauty of our land as Bahamians. We were able to clear up the destruction much faster than the people of the Bahamas. Disasters like this happen frequently, and although we help at first, a week after the event, it is forgotten and we move on with our comfortable lives.

 

H2-oh no!

Around noon on Friday, February 3, assistant principal Spencer Hawkins came on the announcements to tell students that, due to a city-wide water crisis, they could go home early.  The Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) had issued an emergency release at 11 that morning, saying that due to limited water supply, residents were “not to use water until further notice.”

 The cafe commons erupted into cheers, as friends discussed how they were going to  spend their newly-free half-day.  Students, staff and families alike also made plans to buy and stockpile bottled water to last until the crisis was over.  Thus began a rather inconvenient, but all together never dangerous, weekend in Chapel Hill-Carrboro.

A common misconception about this weekend’s crisis is that the reason OWASA issued “do not drink” order was because residents’ tap water was contaminated with high levels of fluoride.  It’s true that on Thursday, February 2, the cities’ water treatment plant on Jones Ferry Road oversaturated its water with dangerous levels of fluoride.  

However, that water was quickly discarded.  To make up for the loss, Chapel Hill-Carrboro started borrowing water from Durham, made possible by the fact that the two water systems are connected.  The real issue came late the next morning, when a pipe linking the cities’ water burst near Dobbin Creek.  

The leak lead to the loss of around 1.5 million gallons of water, and brought the Chapel-Hill Carrboro water supply to a dangerous low.  OWASA urged in their release that using any water could results in system-wide contamination.

Friday afternoon, the town of Chapel Hill forced all restaurants to close, and the UNC v. Notre Dame basketball game scheduled for Saturday night was rescheduled to Sunday afternoon and moved to Greensboro.

Free water was available throughout the weekend to those in need at a few places around the area, including at Carrboro High.  The Harris Teeter in Carrboro also gave out free water while supplies lasted.

On Sunday, February 5, OWASA held its second press conference of the weekend, saying that residents could begin to use water again in limited quantities.  A few hours later, the emergency order was completely rescinded, and residents were permitted to resume normal water usage.

Photo by Hope Anderson