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 urgent 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

Why the Extra Five Minutes?

With shorter breaks and longer instructional time, many students question the need to make up recent snow days. High schools now let out at 3:55, five minutes later than in previous years, and all CHCCS students had a shorter winter break. The question on many students’ minds: if not to prevent inclement weather days, what purpose do these changes serve?

District officials expressed their reasoning in a recent email statement. Until this academic year, elementary and middle school instructional time was longer than that of district high schools. Adding five minutes ensures equal time to learn.

The extra five minutes will also serve as a last resort for inclement weather, only if all other make-up options are exhausted. “This was done to minimize the possibility of holding school on Saturday or Memorial Day, as was the case in the 2014-15 school year,” said the statement.

With regard to winter break, the district explained that the change in length is not tied to inclement weather days. Rather, all school systems must comply with North Carolina’s requirements for academic year length.  

The email statement concluded with an expression of frustration with current legislation, with CHCCS leaders hoping to regain control over their academic calendar. Said the email statement, “With local control we could build in inclement weather days at times when it would be much less disruptive.”

Frustrated parents and students can express their concerns to the NC General Assembly.

 

Sprucing up the lawn

Carrboro students are partnering with teachers and the community to take action and reforest their campus one tree at a time. AP Environmental Science teacher Stefan Klakovich has been working with Libby Thomas, Senior Research Associate at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, to accomplish this.

According to Thomas, the school’s builders cleared much of the original forest where CHS now stands.

“[I believe that] planting native trees will provide host food and nesting sites for birds,” said Thomas.

Not only do Klakovich and Thomas want to restore parts of the forest, but they want to increase biodiversity.

To do this, they are replacing patches of grass with native plants. “Grass is fine [depending on] where you use it, like I’ve said, but for the school no one ever uses it,” said Klakovich. “It’s got to be mowed at great expense. It provides nothing.”

The CHCCS district has been supportive of the project because replacing grass cuts mowing costs.

“The idea is to have three rows of trees. I think it’s thirty trees total. When we first plant them we’ll have them in strips,” said Klakovich.

In the past, there have been obstacles to landscaping the school, such as mowers running over young trees. The solution is to plant the trees in long rows. “[Then] the mower doesn’t have to change anything,” said Klakovich. “They’re just not going to mow that strip.”

Some details still need to be worked out, such as where the funding will come from, and who will take care of the trees. “All those things needed to be put together into a plan,” said Klakovich.

A few months ago, Thomas tried to address these issues in a plan that was approved by the district. According to Thomas, the funding would come from many sources, such as the PTA and the CHCCS district, but even with that help, the project is still short on funding.

The native trees will not require much upkeep, but the problem will be keep- ing the Bermuda grass out of the tree beds. “It’ll just cover the whole thing by coming over the edges,” said Klakovich. “That’s going to be a constant battle.”

Klakovich and Thomas hope to start a community service project where stu- dents will come bi-weekly to take care of the trees.

In order to explain her greater mission, Thomas relies on an Chinese proverb: The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago — the second best time is now.

However, she also has a message for students in particular. “We think you’re important and your environment is important, and if you don’t see it you won’t love it,” said Thomas.

By involving students Klakovich and Thomas hope to install a long term vision in the students and get them more active in their community.

Photo courtesy John Randall.

Rethink Plan B

The “morning after” pill is an emergency way to avoid pregnancy whose side effects should be taken more seriously by high school students. This is the only way to avoid pregnancy pro pricing release near webpage after having unprotected sex, other than abortion. According to WebMD, if you take Plan B One Step 72 hours after unprotected sex it is 89 percent effective, while if you take it within 24 hours it can be up to 95 percent effective.

There are over ten different forms of contraceptives. This makes me wonder why girls take the risk of having unprotected sex and continuously use the “morning after” pill to prevent pregnancy.

The original intent of this pill is to act as an emergency contraception that stops pregnancy within three days of unprotected sex, many women taking the pill do not understand the full effect it has on their bodies, though.

With a high dose of levonorgestrel (a hormone found in birth control pills), Plan B works by stopping the ovary from releasing an egg or by preventing the fertilization of the egg.

Ninth grade health does tell about the Plan B pill and how it terminates pregnancy, but the details of the pill are not provided for multiple reasons. One being, Plan B is not always considered a form of contraceptive because it is used after sex, and sometimes can be seen as a form of abortion. There are many different forms of contraceptives that are more effective, but that does not mean that Plan B should be completely thrown aside, sometimes it is necessary.

Side effects of continuous Plan B usage can be as serious as depression, nausea, abdominal pain, headache, menstrual changes, and vomiting. Not only are these side effects uncomfortable and dangerous, but the Plan B pill is also less effective than condoms or prescribed birth control pills.

In some cases, women take more pills than the suggested dosage. This does not make it any less likely for them to be pregnant; it just heightens the side effects of taking the pill.

Women who take the pill tend to forget to read how taking the pill may affect their body.  The fine print tells you all the possible side effects and recommends seeing a doctor before consumption.

Practicing safe sex should be in the moment, not waiting to take the pill the morning after and changing the functions of your body. Sex should not mean experiencing pregnancy scares on a monthly-basis; sex should not add to the stress of high schoolers.

Creatures of Carrboro

If you could give your high school self advice, what would it be? Carrboro residents were asked to answer this question. This is what they said.

“Always be an ratedbrides advocate for someone who doesn’t have a strong voice or presence. Be true to those who are there for you, don’t always look for the next best thing.”

“I’m here to learn, to be educated, not be indoctrinated… To make the best of my education and not to be caught up in the bullying that goes on in high schools.”

Photos by Flora Devonport

Pipeline problems

Recently, Jordan Owen, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and member of Carrboro class of 2015, had the opportunity to go with a group of students to the site of the North Dakota Access Pipeline project.

The project itself is a 1,200 mile pipeline being built from ND to Illinois, with the goal of transferring crude oil to the East coast. The project is currently on hold, however, because of ongoing protests from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies.

These “protectors” are occupying an area of the pipeline construction in ND, saying that the pipeline will pollute their water source, the Missouri River, and that it would go through the tribe’s sacred burial grounds.

Jordan Owen spoke to Mr. Cone’s class and shared her thoughts, and the Jagwire staff talked to her separately.

How did you get the opportunity to go [to Standing Rock]?

I’m a diversity inclusion facilitator at UW-Madison, and one of my fellow facil- itators is the American Indian Community Campus Liaison. She emailed the group and mentioned that there was a spot left in the car. I felt it was too important an opportunity for true education and activism to pass up.

What do you think you accomplished while you were at Standing Rock?

We talked to a lot of people. Because mainstream media hasn’t been there, there haven’t been a lot of individuals who have been interviewed and been able to share their stories, other than through their own social media. Us going there, [we were] able to ask people what it has been like, what they wanted to tell to the world and gave them a channel for that.

How has your point of view changed on activism and specifically this issue?

I tried to go into Standing Rock with a completely blank mind, absent of main- stream conceptions of who Natives are, which, of course, was not entirely possi- ble. Once there, it was easier to interact with people as individuals rather than as the group the white majority assigns them. As for activism, I don’t like the notion of wanting to “save the world” that I personally entered with. The culture of activism as a whole is problematic to me. It is now permissible for people to champion a cause for a short period on social media, neither taking the time to do back- ground research to understand the root causes nor committing to the long run.

Broken-down trucks cover the road at Standing Rock. Photo courtesy Jordan Owen

CHS community shares equity struggles

The Jagwire spoke to various students and teachers to ask for their opinions on how CHS deals with the issue of racism. From personal experiences to insight as a seasoned edu- cator at Carrboro High School, each individual shed light on their views of how discrimination has affected education in 2016. Here is what they have to say:

“It’s the little stuff that the kids don’t realize, no matter your race. It can be intentional or hidden stuff. And that’s the stuff a lot of other students don’t see, like not getting something, people trying not to sit next to one another, and it’s not all verbal. Not everyone who has a Confederate flag is a racist. You just gotta trust people and give everybody the chance, but you still got to have your radar on.” – Melvin Griffin

“I can’t speak for all black people in general; I can literally only speak for myself. But I’ve been told [by people at CHS] that I ‘shouldn’t just try to be in class with my friends,’ even though I had in fact applied several times to be in higher level classes… This sends the message that I don’t have any white friends, and I focus my academic career on social life, not excelling. There have been multiple occur- rences of having to prove myself as a black woman.” – Cameron Farrar

“I do think it is important to be more explicit with talking about race. I think often times the students have this perspective that we, the teach- ers, don’t know there’s a problem. But that’s just not true. One thing I really want to stress is that it does take a lot of willingness to be open and honest about the problems that we have. We all have to recognize that every single one of us in the building has in some way contributed to it.” – Jamie Schendt

“Microaggression is a really big problem and I think people do it so unintentionally that they don’t realize, and one thing is like, ‘Oh, you speak so well.’ Or a lot of teachers will ask, ‘Do you live with your mom?’ And those are just things I think that a lot of people of color deal with on a daily basis… I don’t want to say that we’re not socially accepted, but there are these automatic assumptions that a lot of people have in the back of their minds.” – Diamond Blue

Desegregating CHCCS: a look back

A recent town hall, held by the Orange County Training School Lincoln Northside Alumni Association, highlighted the complex racial history of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

Before 1967, Chapel Hill High School was located downtown on Franklin Street. Today when people stand where the school once was and look across the street, they see the storefront of an Aveda hair salon. Students at Chapel Hill High peering out their classroom windows half a century ago saw the front doors to Belk’s Department Store, complete with separate white and colored entrances.

2017 marks the ten year anniversary of the opening of Carrboro High. But it also marks the 50th anniversary of the first desegregated class to graduate from Chapel Hill High School.

Chapel Hill High opened doors at its original downtown location in 1916, only enrolling white students until fifty years later.

The first African-American high school in the area was established in 1924 in the build- ing now known as Lincoln Center. The school was called the Orange County Training School but was renamed Lincoln High in 1949.

Brown v. Board of Education ruled segregated public schools unconstitutional in 1954. In 1963, students at Lincoln High were allowed to transfer to Chapel Hill High, but the vast majority opted to stay.

The two schools combined elements of their respective school’s heritage: CHHS brought their colors to CHHS, black and gold, and Lincoln High brought their mascot, a tiger.

At the town hall held in October, panelists recounted the history of their school and the process of desegregation. The panelists included former students and teachers.

Many explained that while integration was a victory for students of all races, those at Lincoln were sad to see their school close. They were proud of their teachers, their sports teams, their band and the community they had built. And while some of these things transferred over to their new school, it still felt like a loss in many ways, at least for those first few years.

Alice Page Battle is a member of the Lincoln High class of 1951, where she returned in 1955 to teach until 1966. After integration, she taught for 25 more years.

The local school board didn’t force integration until 1966. That year, both segregated high schools were shut down. Students from Lincoln High and the old Chapel Hill High transferred to a newly constructed Chapel Hill High School fur- ther out of town, which still operates at its current location today.

Battle said that she has a lot of fond memories from CHHS, including the chance to teach James Taylor, but she remembers the bad as well as the good. She recalled white parents questioning the grades she gave their children, at one point culminating in angry phone calls to her house at night.

She also remembers them challenging her teaching qualification, which resulted in her being switched last minute from teaching English to French.

Stanley Vickers, who was one of a handful of African-American students to attend Chapel Hill High pre-integration, remarked on the school supplies he had access to at CHHS for the first time as a student.

The history of Lincoln High is a major part of the history of Chapel Hill-Carrboro as a whole, yet it is often not emphasized in school curriculum.

Moreover, this history still relates to the district. When considering racial issues like the achievement gap, many don’t realize that these issues have roots that go at least as far back as desegregation.

Carolyn Daniels, who graduated from Chapel Hill High’s first integrated class, said that students from Lincoln were either discouraged from taking AP classes, or were unqualified because the prerequisites they needed weren’t offered at their old school.

Julie Kemper, a teacher at Estes Hill Elementary, remarked how she still sees the qualifications of African American teachers questioned disproportionate- ly more than those of white teachers. Kemper’s comments, and the event itself, come at a time when equity and social justice are key concerns in public schools. The panelists’ perspectives emphasize the value of understanding the past, even as the district reaches toward the future.

Old and new photos of Lincoln High School and Chapel Hill High School students. Photos courtesy Lincoln High Alumni, Chapel Hill High School and News & Observer

Will North Carolina Decide The Presidential Election?

The North Carolina electorate, boosted by recent demographic changes, is an important state in the presidential election. In general elections prior to 2008, NC was described as a “flyover state” between Florida and Ohio—states which have traditionally been vital to a candidate’s success. But in this year’s election, NC is the sixth most likely “tipping point state,” according to the political statistics website, FiveThirtyEight.

In the battle for 270 Electoral College votes (the minimum amount a candidate needs to win the election,) several battleground states play an outside role in determining the election’s outcome. Battleground states have demographics that can allow either party to win the state.

Whichever candidate wins NC will receive all fifteen of the state’s votes, accounting for 2.8% of the total electoral vote. Though fifteen votes may seem insignificant, it’s the ability of either candidate to win the election.

According to the Real Clear Politics polling average, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 0.8 percentage points, 44.3%-43.5%. If the election were held today, that would make NC’s race the closest in the country.

Prior to the 2008 election, NC was considered a solidly Republican state—George W. Bush won with 56% of the vote in 2000. However, after more than a million people from the Northeast moved to suburban NC, Barack Obama won NC in 2008 by a 0.03% margin. In 2012’s Obama-Romney election, Romney narrowly took the state back for Republicans.

NC’s electorate is more diverse than the country as a whole, due to the aforementioned mini-migration of Northerners, as well as a swelling of the Black population in NC. This newfound diversity has contributed to NC’s attractiveness as a campaign target.

Donald Trump makes at least one visit to NC each week. For the Republican nominee, NC is a “must win state,” The News and Observer said.

Hillary Clinton’s director of battleground strategy, Michael Hall, similarly emphasizes the importance of NC in the race to 270. The Democratic nominee also makes trips to the state at least once a week, and either she or her running mate, Tim Kaine, will make an event appearance.

Although NC’s winner garners only fifteen Electoral College votes, the state gains considerable attention in the general election due to its above-average diversity. Democrats have only recently broken through years of Republican domination, and it is the closest state contest in this presidential cycle by a large margin.

Trump versus Clinton. Photo courtesy The Express Tribune