Opinion Piece and Editorials

Snacks in vending machines should be evenly distributed 

By Craig Reese

Reporter

Vending machines are lifesavers that can become annoyances. At Angelina College, each building has at least one machine for food and another for drinks, but some have more than two machines available, which can give a little more variety.

In my experience, dealing with the machines and observing them, each has at least one special item that most other machines do not. The only buildings that are an exception to this are the Student Center and the Health Careers I Building with both containing a couple more machines with drinks and food that none of the other buildings house, especially the Health Careers I, which has Minute Maid Lemonade beverages in the drink vending machine that I have not been able to find in any of the other machines on campus. 

Nearly every food available in each of the other buildings that are almost exclusive and unique to those machines can be found within this one in Health Careers I. From the little sausage bites to the brownie bites, nearly every great snack is inside.

Additionally, the Student Center houses an additional two vending machines, one more drink machine like the Health Careers I and a Starbucks coffee machine, which usually does not even work or is unused when I am sitting in the snack bar. This machine is a neat idea, but since it has little use by students, it seems to be a waste even though clever. 

Although the great snacks are not distributed evenly to each building, this can be attributed to the fact that certain buildings get more traffic than others. If the Starbucks coffee shop is only open during the first half of each school day and  the snack bar and Cafeteria are sometimes closed too, then maybe having a bite or drink from the vending machines might be the answer.

Therefore, it may seem to be clever to have certain snack items in certain buildings and not others due to usage. But this still begs the question of whether each of the other buildings should receive the same treatment as the others even if not used as much. Also, if the other establishments available to students at the college might sometimes not be available, then distributing the snacks evenly to each building might be a way to help students when this occurs.

All middle schools should start implementing mandatory drug tests

By McKaya Lucas

Reporter

The day that middle schools call for mandatory drug testing is a sad day, but it cannot be over- looked. Children are now are being exposed to media and pop/rap culture that says drugs are cool. 

Mandatory drug testing should be performed in middle schools everywhere. Drugs in middle schools are much more rampant than many people think.

Amy Keller, in an article in Drug Rehab magazine, said, “One-third of middle schoolers say students keep, use or sell drugs in their school.” Random drug tests among students will reduce the number of children using drugs and prevent addiction. 

Many parents think random drug screening in the schools is unconstitutional and a violation of privacy; however, it has been deemed constitutional. 

Drug testing in schools may seem a bit invasive, but with the many children who are able to get drugs these days, testing may be for the greater good. 

Some schools have started drug testing as a requirement to participate in sports or clubs, but why stop there? Every student should be required to take a drug test to attend school, making school a safer place and helping prevent addiction along the way. 

Testing the students for drugs is not only keeping them out of trouble, it also gets them ready for life after school when jobs and professional sports teams perform tests. 

Pleasant Middle School in Marion, Ohio, implemented drug testing as an entry to sports and clubs, just like any professional athlete would have to do. The Ohio school does not require drug testing for the entire school but is still seeing a major decline in drug use. 

A 2013 ABC News program said random drug testing is working [in the Ohio school], and there has been just one positive test in six years. 

Students are less likely to use drugs if they fear getting kicked out or caught. 

Schools need to look deeper into what is causing the students to turn to drugs and try eliminating the source as well as the problem. Children are sneaky, and if you take away the initial problem, they will find another way to get away with it. 

Schools need to solve what is causing the issue in the first place and eliminate it altogether. 

Many factors can contribute to why students turn to drugs. “Bullying, which is rampant in middle schools, can also contribute to substance and alcohol abuse,” Keller also said in her article. 

Bullying is the main cause of students getting involved with drugs, aside from the music industry portraying them as fun and harmless. 

Students do not often use drugs because they cannot handle being bullied; they use drugs because they are bullied into trying them. Children are being told they are not “cool” if they do not use drugs because everybody does them. 

Students are being persuaded into trying drugs in order to look cool or be like their favorite rapper. 

The media have normalized drug use, but the schools can help stop it. Another way schools can help get rid of drug use, other than mandatory tests, is they can make the students take a class on what drugs do to your body with long-term use and hear testimonies of people who went through rehabilitation. 

Drugs in middle schools will never be abolished but will decrease if testing is made mandatory for students. Many children’s futures can be changed and lives can be saved. 

Students on drugs often overdose because they do not know how much is too much. Students do not have the knowledge that certain drugs and alcohols cannot be mixed. 

That ignorance costs them their lives, and it is our duty to keep them safe. A child’s brain is not fully developed in middle school.

Middle schools should test every student randomly for drugs; it will prevent addiction and even death. Students will thank the school system later.

Schools should support safe-sex for students

By Demee Martinez

Reporter

A controversy exists over whether condoms should be offered free in schools for students in high school or college, and many believe condoms should be offered. Offering condoms in schools reduces the risks of pregnancy, HIV, AIDS and STDs because many young adults are having unprotected sex. 

Many students do not have the kind of relationship with their parents in which they can confide in them about the need for condoms. When I was growing up, my mom always told me, “The day you decide to have sex, let me know, so I can give you condoms. A baby is not the only thing that can result because of unprotected sex—things like HIV and STDs.” 

When I asked two friends and my manager at work the question whether condoms should be offered free, I received mixed answers. 

My friend Yesenia Mesa responded, “I would say high schools should offer condoms with parent consent. High school students are too young to have sex. As for colleges, definitely—the reason being it will lower risks of AIDS, STDs and pregnancy. Pregnancy can also lead to their dropping out of school. Better safe than sorry. Tell them, ‘Don’t be silly, and wrap your willy!’ ”

After listening to her response, I then asked my friend Mesa, “What about those students in high school whose parents will not consent to condoms?” She answered, “Yes, but they are underage. If I were a parent, I would want to know what my kid was doing, so with that being said, if the school were giving out condoms without parents knowing, I would be upset.”

Also, another friend, Manuel Zuniga, said, “Yes, because students are having sex regardless, so why not put safety parameters for them.” He went on to say, “It is like rails on a sharp curve. In theory, no one should run the curve too fast and crash into it, but people still do. They put up guardrails for safety because it is not something you can prevent.” 

When I asked him, “When you were in high school, could you go to your parents for condoms?” He responded, “Umm, no.” 

Contrarily, when I asked my manager Horrace Lewis if schools should provide free condoms for students in high school and college, he answered, “No, because kids are going to school to earn an education, not to party and have sex. They have parents. It is not the school’s responsibility.” 

In addition, Lewis said, “I believe that if a kid is irresponsible, that is his or her fault. Students go to college as young adults, not to be micro-managed. I definitely would not want to promote sex to my students.” 

My mom never talked to me about sex and the importance of safe sex. She just told me to let her know, so she could give me condoms; however, she also was against sex before marriage. 

Because my mom was strict and was against premarital sex, I never told her I was sexually active. I did not have a monthly allowance to buy condoms, so I was having unprotected sex. As a consequence, I became a mother when I was in high school. 

The importance of condoms is to reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies, HIV and STDs. Most students do not have access to condoms. 

A courtesy basket in the restrooms would be great for students and would reduce the risks that not only affect students but also affect the community if HIV, AIDS and STDs go untreated.

Being ill-advised is ill-advised

By Justin Keiffer

Reporter

Advising students for their academic classes is a tricky thing with moving parts that go into each student’s schedule. Each student will offer a unique challenge to his or her adviser to ensure each shifting gear is appropriately aligned. 

Without the proper schedule alignment, students could face the possibility of being enrolled in a class that will not pertain to their field of study, or they can discover they need to take a prerequisite course and have to wait for the semester that the specific course is offered. Each scenario ends with the student being ill-advised.  

Unfortunately, I was ill-advised. At the start of my last semester, my academic adviser explained that out of the last two classes I needed for the journalism program, one would be available in the spring, but the other would not be available until the fall semester. 

Over the past year, I devoured as many school credits as possible while balancing the demands of being a full-time student and a full-time employee, only to discover I will need to wait a whole summer and fall semester to graduate. 

Because of this misstep, I believe the academic head of a department or another faculty adviser in the field should handle the advising for students going into a field of study instead of having the success coaches advise. 

As it stands now, Angelina College has four success coaches who focus on general education and the specific majors, we have close to 4,800 students enrolled, 30 percent of whom are full time. 

Being ill-advised by a success coach while they are handling close to 1300 students can be understood. Also, having success coaches advising the students will free instructors so that their main focus is on the courses themselves. However, many headaches are caused when the students are ill-advised.

Relegating a portion of the advising power to the faculty members in the student’s field of study will ensure students are taking the classes they need in the correct order. This aspect could save students money by avoiding unnecessary classes and having more one-on-one time with faculty advisers who could offer benefits in the way of career prospects and possible internship ideas.

Students can take all of their registration demands into their own hands and skip advising, but each student should be aware of the courses they need and ask for help when they find themselves out of their depth. 

Each situation is different; many students work outside of school and rely on advisers to lead them. Bringing some of the power to the faculty adviser, who has more face time with students, will only benefit the students in the end, assuring them they are on the right path.

“Grease” performance, pleasure to watch

By Kendall Cole

Reporter

The Angelina College departments of theatre and music performed “Grease” the musical, and it was fun, upbeat, and a pleasure to watch.

I have not seen the original “Grease” movie, but I loved the AC version of the play. I am very glad I had the opportunity to see it opening night on Nov. 14. The audience, which was a full house, also seemed to enjoy the whole performance. I heard much laughter and applause throughout the show with cheering when it was over. I could hear people raving in the crowds about everyone’s performances as I was leaving the building.

Everyone’s acting in the play was great, and it was nice to see a few familiar faces again, especially when I knew they would put on a wonderful performance just as they had previous times when performing. Everyone put on unique performances that I would have loved seeing again had I been able to make it to another performance. 

Each main cast member had good dynamics with each other even if the characters were not supposed to get along in a certain scene. The characters put much emotion and feeling into their parts and I applaud each cast member for their performances. 

The set was one of my favorite parts of the play. It was not too extravagant, and it seemed easy to take down for scene changes because the audience did not have to wait long for the next scene to start. The production crew did reuse a few parts for other moments in the play, but it worked out because the audience did not have too many props to focus on and the audience was not distracted by big, flashy set pieces. 

One could easily tell what the setting was supposed to be. The backdrop that they used for the diner was beautiful and was my favorite set piece. The design was well done and really reminded me of the 1950s. 

The transitions between scenes were smooth and quick but also pleasant because the orchestra continued playing music while we waited. 

The opening number of the play immediately had me excited for the rest of the play. It was full of excitement and energy, and everyone had great voices that I loved hearing throughout the play. 

The music was beautiful, and I loved the fact that it was live music and not recordings. It was a nice touch, and the orchestra did an amazing job during the entire play. 

My favorite musical number was “Summer Nights,” performed by Raquel Rothschild as Sandy Dumbrowski, Jordan Dietz as Danny Zuko along with the Pink Ladies and the Burger Palace Boys. There was so much emotion put into the performance, and it was upbeat and beautiful to listen to. 

My favorite character from the play was Doody, played by Colin Wise, a recruiter for AC and former AC singer. He was hilarious, upbeat and had a wonderful singing voice that I wish I could have heard more of. It was fun watching him interact with the other characters, especially when he was in the background or leaving the scene with the rest of the Burger Palace Boys. Colin had so much energy, and it was easy to tell he was having a good time on stage. I would love to see him perform again if given the opportunity.

The only issue I had with anything regarding the play would be having issues hearing some of the actors a few times, even sitting in the third row, but it was not too bad. Aside from that, I loved everything else about the play.

I would highly recommend seeing any AC theatre performance. I have yet to be disappointed by one, and anyone who goes to see one is in for a good time. 

Raquel Rothschild, left, and Jordan Dietz, right, dance the night away during the AC theatre department’s production of “Grease” the musical.

Too early for Christmas

By Kendall Cole

Reporter

October and November are a time for hayrides, pumpkin patches and other fun fall activities, along with holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. These months are not a time for winter activities just yet and are especially not a time for Christmas decorations.

I love Christmas just as much as the next guy, but October and November just are not the time for it. Halloween has not even happened yet by the time big stores like Walmart, Lowe’s and Hobby Lobby have their Christmas decorations out and ready for purchase. That is way too early to be thinking about Christmas. 

November is worse when it comes to Christmas taking over everything. 

Movie channels like Hallmark have already started Christmas movie marathons; the cooking channels are teaching everyone new and fun recipes for Christmas dinner; and people are already beginning to decorate for the winter season as if they have completely forgotten there is another, and just as important holiday, that comes between now and Christmas.

Decorating way before Christmas is not a bad thing; it is just slightly annoying when there are other big holidays that occur before December even starts. 

To me, winter does not really start until December does, so decorating before November ends still seems a bit early to be busting out the Christmas tree and lights and playing carols on the radio. 

I can understand decorating a few days after Thanksgiving, but decorating before the holiday is just a little extreme since Thanksgiving is a fall holiday and having Christmas decorations out does not fit very well with the fall feeling of the holiday.

Decorating for a holiday during a different holiday season makes no sense. I understand being excited for a holiday, but there is no reason to not be just as excited for Thanksgiving and to decorate for that or for fall just in general. 

Premature decorating is not cool, and it is honestly time to put a stop to it and to just enjoy the turkey and the pie, as well as to plan out your Black Friday shopping to prepare for Christmas instead of going through the hassle of untangling the Christmas lights while it is still the fall season. 

Road to education filled with potholes

By Craig Reese

Reporter

Education at a higher level is powerful and is a road to success. But what if the road is filled with potholes, impossible distances, broken-down vehicles or a lack of public transportation and other various roadblocks? 

Getting into school for students is much easier than expected, but what about traveling to the school. Schools need to make sure every student attending has some way that is reliable to get to where they will need go. 

This problem is often overlooked, and transportation can cause students issues with achieving the knowledge needed to succeed, as well as in life, without some solutions that may help make the route to a higher education simpler to travel.

First, students often live in dorms, which might make it easier to attend class; however, many undergraduate students are considered nontraditional and instead live off-campus, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. This is one obvious issue that is commonly overlooked. 

A few students may be lucky enough to live close for an easy walk to the campus while many others live at a distance that makes walking to campus impossible. 

Maybe a student has no problem with reaching school or maybe he or she lives in a dorm or is lucky enough to have great public transportation to the campus. 

The issue with transportation does not stop at the parking lot; in some cases, trying to get around the campus alone can be difficult, especially when a campus may cover dozens of acres and have a multitude of buildings to travel past.

Furthermore, students who choose to live on campus, may have to spend more money than those living off-campus. Financial aid or work study jobs may fill in the gaps enough to make it possible to afford. 

Living on campus and walking to classes will save expenses on vehicles, including maintenance and especially gas, which can improve affordability for living on campus. 

Maybe the use of a bicycle would be a better option for traveling to class for students on campus and those off-campus who live nearby if the campus is large. 

Not only does it provide exercise, it will also help to lessen congestion on the roads. 

Also, a bicycle can allow for the freedom of going to classes on the student’s own schedule, but it is not one that is based on routes like the public transits. Many colleges even support bike use as a means of transportation by providing spaces to park and lock the bike, or they have dedicated bike lanes at buildings around the campus.

Additionally, carpooling for students who live in the same area and are heading to the college on the same day might be another perfect solution. This will involve a set schedule to balance the decision of who drives on the days that the students attend and how much money gas will cost if splitting it, but it can work out quite well if developed properly. 

Currently, no service is set exactly like this, but creating a carpool program might be an idea to bring to the school. It could work like Uber without the exorbitant prices. This can help students learn more about the economy through sharing.

Overall, students have options to choose from, especially those who do not live within walking distance and lack a car to travel to campus. Whether by foot, bike, car or bus, students should have some options. 

Help give students an opportunity to reach the road to success in their educational route by providing transportation options. Students can also do their part by asking if any students in their classes live close to them and forming carpools. 

Getting serious about recycling

By Craig Reese

Reporter

Being clean by taking out the garbage can lead to a healthy environment but sometimes we should stop and think about some of the items inside the trash bags and separate them, maybe even eventually reuse them or just transfer them into a different compartment like a blue recycling bin instead of the regular garbage bin.

A couple of ideas to think of may include “How do I get a blue recycling bin?” or “How do I get a larger one to use?” Call either the local city waste department or City Hall to make the request and ask for the size that will fit the load of material to be recycled. Maybe the city will have certain materials allowed or not allowed for recycling such as corrugated cardboard or pasteboard boxes, newspapers, magazines, personal mail, tires, paint, office or shredded paper, aluminum or steel cans and plastic bottles or jugs. A city may even take limbs, bushes or yard waste. Some departments also have a special electronic recycling day. Maybe the facilities are open for certain times or always open as that might be an additional question that will linger if wanting to take materials to them.

One must be careful to not include material that is not listed in the city’s accepted items as some cities may implement a “zero tolerance” policy toward contaminating the recycling stream, and blue bins will be removed immediately from households or businesses that taint it.

Overall, recycling is important not only for individuals but also for the community as a whole. Always know a better and cleaner way exists to meet our needs, especially for material laying on the ground nearby that could be reused more than once.

Vaping causes illness, death

By Craig Reese

Reporter

Vaping is a dangerous habit to develop as it can be harmful to the body’s vital organs such as the brain and lungs. This fact is even more important to users who are under the age of 25 because they are still under development. The use of electronic cigarettes can increase the risk of further addiction to other drugs that are even more dangerous.

Unfortunately, some of my friends whom I have known for years and ones I have known for only a couple of months use the product. Some even use chewing tobacco, drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. Sometimes I wonder if their choices were based on their surroundings, curiosity, family members who use the products or peer pressure. 

E-cigarettes have been commonly used since 2014, and dual use of conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes is common among people ages 18 to 24 as stated by the U.S. Surgeon General’s government website. The website also indicates the trend of usage of e-cigarettes leading consumers to also become addicted to nicotine when they smoke conventional cigarettes at the same time.

Additionally, users may not even realize what is within the liquid solutions that are smoked in e-cigarettes. The solution includes various flavorings (such as coconut, cotton candy, chocolate and more), nicotine and sometimes even marijuana.  An article published by the Drug Enforcement Administration on its website stated, “Vaping marijuana (THC oil) can be more dangerous than smoking the drug.” This shows that breathing in the intensified vapor can be risky to consumers, and that means to me that e-cigarettes should be avoided. 

Usage of the concentrated drug may even create higher chances of becoming addicted and even medical consequences to a person’s body.

Moreover, I also fear that one day my friends who use e-cigarettes will not be there to talk to or have fun with. I have no desire to use e-cigarettes myself but I also appreciate people’s right to choose for themselves even if they are my friends, especially ones who have been in my life even longer.

If they wish to use e-cigarettes then I will not try to stop them, in return, when I am in their presence, I will ask for them to refrain from using them.