Shots Spur Protests

Protests in Charlotte have been continuous since the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott on September 20. Violent protests followed the shooting, leading to 40 police arrests. North Carolina’s governor is implementing a 12:00am curfew for the people who live in Charlotte.

Police officers were in the parking lot of the Village of College Downs apartment complex, looking for someone unrelated to the shooting. They apparently noticed Scott exiting his vehicle with a handgun, then getting back into his car. When the officers approached him, he returned to his vehicle but did not comply with the officers’ requests.

Charlotte police withheld the video footage of Scott’s shooting for fear of disturbing his family. When the footage was released, it did not show Scott holding a handgun or acting aggressively. Officer Brently Vinson, who shot Scott, has been put on paid leave.

While there was no handgun present in the video footage, there have been photos released of a handgun holding Scott’s DNA. There were also photos of a marijuana blunt found at the scene.  

“It is well within your political right to protest, so I don’t think personally as far as any legal consequences there is nothing I could do to stop you.” Said Officer Mayfield when asked about the issues of protests. “As far as I’m concerned, I would just make sure all of you are all safe for one, and two that there weren’t any major incidents where it broke into a fight.”

Angry Charlotte residents flooded the streets. In the first two nights after the shooting, the streets of Charlotte saw vandalism, violence and injuries. After the curfew was put into place, the protesters became more peaceful. Police have since allowed them to stay out after curfew.

The protests started out aggressive, but as the police officers attempted to control the demonstrators, they became peaceful. Police shot tear gas and fired flash grenades at the protestors in order to maintain control.

“I was very upset that such a horrible thing had happened in my city, but the response that the city had was amazing. Overall, most of the protests were peaceful and supported by most of the city.” Aubrey Hill, a high schooler at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, said.

Protests break out in Charlotte. Photo courtesy CNN.com

Carrboro High Keeps the Hive Alive

Carrboro High School’s newest addition will play a significant role in various classrooms and clubs.

But the newcomers are not freshmen; they are bees. Environmental science teacher Stefan Klakovich is among several teachers and students who welcome their arrival. “The bees found us,” he said.

The Orange County Beekeepers Association serves to promote beekeeping and protect local hives. They do so by installing hives in public areas to increase awareness. The public and calm environment of CHS seemed an ideal area for installation. So when John Rintoul of the OCBA reached out to the school, Klakovich was eager to accommodate the bees. “I just jumped at the opportunity,” Klakovich said.

Klakovich plans to integrate the bees into his lessons on ecosystem services, a term to describe environmental benefits for humans. According to Rintoul, bees are vital for food production, with one-third of human food consumption reliant on pollinators.

Dr. Raymond Thomas, a CHS science teacher, says bees are also financially beneficial. Regarding their monetary value, Thomas said, “they contribute to U.S agriculture over $30 billion annually.”

Despite the species’ benefits, bee advocates argue they are misunderstood. Though viewed as aggressive, honey bees are a defensive species according to Rintoul and Thomas. Yellow jacket and wasp stings are often mistaken for bee stings, Rintoul explained.

Some misunderstandings prove harmful to bees. Pesticide use, a common human activity, can kill large bee populations. In response to the recent Zika epidemics, pesticides are increasingly prevalent. This September, millions of South Carolina bees died following mass pesticide sprays.

Senior Rodrigo Dubon hopes to counter such incidences. During his junior year, he started the CHS Bee Club. The club’s mission is to raise awareness of the species’ importance, as well as the dangers bees face. “If more people learn to appreciate the crucial roles that bees have in our environments, then maybe they’d be willing to step up and… help stop the gradual decline of their population,” Dubon said via email.

Before CHS housed hives, the Bee Club had limited options. Dubon is excited for the opportunities the bees bring to campus. “Since the hives are permanent, students will be able to get some hands-on experience with bees,” he said

Students looking to learn more about beehives are encouraged to join the Bee Club. Anyone interested in beekeeping can attend the OCBA Bee School, starting in January. Scholarships will be awarded to two or three students, and the application process begins in November.

John Rintoul, Katie Knotek and Sarah Brennum interact with bees. Photo by Mireille Leone

NC Infant Mortality Rate Plateaus

In recent years, North Carolina’s infant mortality rate has plateaued and now ranks higher than that of the United States’.

Despite the initial decrease at the beginning of the twenty-first century, in the past five years the infant mortality rate has flattened. This decline comes from the lack of proper healthcare for women in NC, according to a report by WUNC. Without adequate health care, that is both easily accessible available to women across the state, it is more likely for a baby to be born prematurely.

In the United States, NC has the ninth highest infant mortality rate. In order for NC’s infant mortality rate to go down, the state will need to provide better healthcare for women. When poverty rates rise, infant mortality rates rise with it.

Out of 1,000 babies in NC, more than seven of them will die within a year. For African American babies, that number jumps to over twelve, close to doubling the rate. In only one year, Latino babies mortality rate went from 3.7 to 6.3 per 1,000.

Half of the women without health insurance manage to get affordable prenatal care, making the other half struggle through their pregnancies and risk birth defects, premature birth, and death.

To people who live in suburban areas, this issue is not as prevalent. Places near a hospital that offers good health care do not realize that this is a problem in NC because it is not directly affecting them.

Without proper health care for pregnant women, it is predicted that babies will continue to be born unhealthy. NC’s infant mortality rate is the ninth highest in the United States, and if women do not get proper care, it will stop decreasing altogether.

NC has the ninth-highest infant mortality. Photo courtesy Citizen Times

Creatures of Carrboro

What is your biggest fear? Where do you think it comes from?  People in the town of Carrboro were asked to answer this question.  These are the responses I received.

“My biggest fear has to do with, I don’t know how to say this, but not living up to who I truly am. It probably comes from never being allowed to be who I was as a child, and never being able to speak my mind.”

“My biggest fear has to do with, I don’t know how to say this, but not living up to who I truly am. It probably comes from never being allowed to be who I was as a child, and never being able to speak my mind.”

 

“Recognition of my own irrelevance”

“Recognition of my own irrelevance”

 

“I don’t live in the moment; this comes from experiencing being in the moment and just how beautiful it is.”

“I don’t live in the moment; this comes from experiencing being in the moment and just how beautiful it is.”

Photos by Flora info Devonport

 

Budget Cuts Challenge CHCCS

Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools is no stranger to budget cuts. Over the course of seven years the Board of Education has made as much as $10 million in reductions. On July 21st, CHCCS was presented with a new task for the 2016-2017 school year: create an operational plan for all 21 schools in the district with $1.5 million.

The original budget request presented to the Board of Orange County Commissioners — which totalled $4.46 million — was intended to attract new hires and offer an increased supplement for teacher income in the district. These efforts were intended to overcome new state mandates that would otherwise leave a further gap in educational funding. The biggest competition wasn’t just the waiting game that followed, but the increase in teacher pay across neighbouring school districts.

The deal with this is that in order to be competitive with Wake County, the school board here made the decision to raise teacher pay to keep and attract highly qualified teachers to this community,” said Melissa Zemon, CHS teacher. “They did this before the budget was approved. While there were a number of meetings to try to get the County Commissioners to fully fund the budget with the increase, this did not happen.”

Teacher turnover rates have reached 18 percent in the CHCCS district, and the ability to hire exceptional teachers primarily in the math and science departments is increasingly difficult. Twenty three local positions were terminated in coalition to boost CHCCS’ teacher salary for remaining positions, creating a new assistant-to-teacher program with less teachers overseeing a population of 12,000 students, thus causing drastic changes in the classroom. CHS departments, particularly the math department, have found themselves with the task of managing overpopulated class sizes. Additionally, with increased demand for AP online courses but a lack of funding, classes are maxed out to the point where many students don’t know where else to turn.

Many people in Chapel Hill-Carrboro choose to live here and pay higher taxes because of the schools,” said Zemon. “ It doesn’t seem right to give teachers a pay increase and then force a situation that makes the job even harder than it already is.”

Students in an AP United States History class. Photo by Mireille Leone