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June 25, 2022

 

Fake Snow at the Winter Olympics

The Games relied almost entirely on artificial snow, which is harder and denser than its natural counterpart. Most ski and snowboarding events at the Games, including freestyle, cross-country and ski jumping, are being staged at venues in Zhangjiakou, a mountainous area about 110 miles northwest of Beijing. Artificial snow was first used at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, in 1980 to supplement the area’s natural snow.

Artificial snow was first used in winter sports in the 1980s. Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018 all relied to some extension. If you’re watching the Olympics, you’ve likely seen big brown mountains covered in veins of artificial snow trails.

How come they’re cant real snow at the winter olympics instead of fake snow?


BLM and the Representation of Kneeling During the National Anthem

The action of kneeling during the national anthem began back in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the star spangled banner in order to protest racial injustice and police brutality. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed.” He was later fired because of choosing to exercise his rights. Following this on October 2nd, 2016 the NFL decided to impose fines on players who kneeled. This put the issue of racial injustice behind closed doors and silenced the players more from expressing their rights. It led to only a few players kneeling during the national anthem but the coverage of racial injustice had finally been put out there more. 

The commotion of the cause died down, and got silenced more as time went on and was pushed into the background. However, on the 25th of May in 2020 an African American man by the name of George Floyd was murdered by a police officer who had knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The policemen had come to arrest George Floyd for allegedly using a counterfeit bill and it ended with him dead on the street. After this, protests arose for Black Lives Matter and seeking justice for George Floyd and all those who had been killed by police brutality. In a way, it seemed as if the country had finally realized how big of a problem racism still is. Protests arose within 24 hours of the murder all around America, and the globe. People from every single state protested in the United States, along with places in Europe, Canada, Australia and even some in South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. 

Many groups throughout all of America began to support Black Lives Matter too. One of the bigger examples are sports teams. Not only the professional level sports teams, but college-level and even high school level sports teams. This then circles back to the choice of kneeling during the national anthem. So many sports teams have supported this cause. Either kneeling as a team during the national anthem, or not going out of the locker room as the national anthem plays. This has been the action of so many to not only show their support to Black Lives Matter but promote and enforce change for racial injustices.


Could the Electoral College Be Reformed?

According to NBC News the “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact” is an agreement that 15 states and the District of Columbia have joined so far. These states have agreed to give their electoral college votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the popular vote. The states that have joined makeup 196 electoral college votes.

The agreement will not go into effect until the states that have joined make up 270 or more electoral votes. This way the states will vote normally until the compact would have the voting power to decide the president based on the popular vote. The compact is supported mostly by democrats but some republicans also support it most notably former RNC chair Michael Steele.

According to the American Bar, the electoral college is mandated in the constitution which makes abolishing it directly very difficult and unlikely. “The National Archives reports that over the past 200 years more than 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College – without any becoming law.” However there is some room to work with outside of amending the constitution. It is possible that states could change how their electors vote (this is what makes what the article above discusses possible).

The supreme court could rule who gets to decide on how electors vote. Any path to change the electoral college will be a long and difficult process but it is possible. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact seems to be the most feasible option for reform to the electoral college currently.

It is very realistic that enough states will join the compact so that eventually the compact will have 270 electoral votes. The biggest obstacle is having the compact approved. According to Vox, “There is a real risk, in other words, that a Supreme Court dominated by Republicans would strike down the National Popular Vote Compact even if it receives congressional approval.”


The Mental Health of Student-Athletes

Mental health is an integral part of everyone’s life and character, and its awareness has become more prevalent in the world today. Our mental health helps us make sound decisions, handle stress, and communicate with others effectively. However, many Americans suffer from some form of mental illness, and they can manage symptoms with certain medicine, therapy, and exercise/movement. Although student-athletes have the constant advantage of physical activity, they are among those who struggle the most with mental health issues. College athletes (and all student-athletes in general) are challenged to perform at their best while doing their sport and continuing their studies in the classroom and also to incorporate some sort of social life in between school and athletics. Especially at the collegiate level, many athletes struggle to maintain good mental health, and many organizations and individuals have fought to break the stigma around this crisis and have continued to find ways to support student athletes’ wellness.

    Those who play a sport have the same everyday stressors as the general non-athlete population but with added pressures and expectations of practices, competitions, and their education. At the NCAA level, 10% to 15% of athletes (which is 2% more than non-athletes) suffer from mental health issues in which therapy is needed (Hansen). Athletes are extremely prone to poor mental health for a myriad of reasons. They may have some trouble with physical pain and afflictions. The huge commitment to their sport from a young age also places some under a lot of pressure. When it comes to their education, their academic standards are elevated, as they are expected to commit lots of time to their athletics while holding the same expectations in school as their non-athlete counterparts. This invisible injury tends to affect athletic performance, and it is easily overlooked. Life’s stresses and the pressures of outstanding athletic and academic performance are burdens extremely difficult to balance with good mental health conditions, and it is important that everyone receive the help they need to perform at their best.

 There is deep stigma around speaking out about mental health, but many are working to form support systems to bring awareness to this topic and provide aid for those who are struggling. According to research done by the NCAA, “student-athletes who have mental health concerns may be even more reluctant than a non-athlete student to seek help” (“HELPING”). The NCAA, which is the governing body for most collegiate level sports, is one of the many organizations that is dedicated to promoting the well-being and successes of student-athletes at the college level. The NCAA, in collaboration with other organizations, is working to educate the public on this issue and normalize talking about mental health. This organization has in-depth strategies for communicating with athletes and staff and explains the effects of mental illness, but one can take the first step in coming forward about their mental health by simply identifying sources of stress and symptoms and setting aside time for themselves. Then, once more comfortable, they can reach out to a trusted individual and explain how they are truly feeling. It is imperative that anyone who is struggling has the assistance they need to overcome any problems and must know that they are not alone in this fight against mental illness. 

A lot of student-athletes find it difficult to keep up their mental health, and many people are working to aid athletes in their challenges while breaking the stigma usually formed around it. Good mental health conditions are key to achieving success, however, the many athletic and academic stresses may make it difficult to accomplish. Through organizations such as the NCAA or just by reaching out to friends and family, one can find ways to manage life’s pressures. Mental health is something that affects everyone, not just athletes. Anyone struggling with their mental health needs to know that they are supported and loved and someone is always willing to take a moment to sit down and listen. This public health issue, however silent it may be, should not be overlooked and should be treated like any visible ailment. 

Works Cited 

“HELPING SUPPORT STUDENT-ATHLETE MENTAL HEALTH: A Primer for Campus Stakeholders Outside of Athletics.” NCAA, www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/Mental%20Health%20Information%20stakeholder%20primer.pdf

Hansen, Liliana, AthleteNetwork. “The Prevalence of Mental Health in Student-Athletes.” Athlete Network, athletenetwork.com/blog/the-prevalence-of-mental-health-in-student-athletes.


Social Media and Social Change

“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” – Herbert Spencer (“Herbert Spencer Quotes”)

It is a universal philosophy of those in the education system to strive for the fulfillment of scholastic potential and personal growth. In the pursuit of knowledge, we must engage in opportunities to learn with this question in mind: “In what ways is the content of what I am learning going to contribute to the good of others?” Education exists in many forms, but the most common way to receive information is through the media. The powerful extent of social media as a form of education and the attention it directs to current societal concerns prompts the advancement of humanity toward social reform.

In light of recent events, the interconnectivity of social media has proven to be a major source of awareness on various topics geared toward social change, like racial injustice and gender equity. Social media, for this generation in particular, is the most prominent outlet of information, with statistics showing that “96% of students that have internet access use at least one social network” (Wade). Students are more likely to actively respond to information when it is presented to them in a way that is easiest for them to identify with.

Personally, the social media platform that has provided me with the most information is TikTok. TikTok is an app where creators create a wide range of content, including comedy, dance, or education, through 15-60 second videos. The hashtag #LearnOnTikTok was adapted by users who have the intent to share ideas that are learned in the classroom and spread awareness of current events.

Because of TikTok, as well as other social media platforms, I have become more aware of the issues happening in our society and am able to contribute my thoughts and opinions in a way that is effective and easy. The Black Lives Matter movement and the hashtag #SayHerName have brought attention to police brutality and racial violence toward black people, demonstrating the powerful influence social media has on its audience. (“Social Media for Social Change: 5 Ways Social Media Can Create Social Change).

Media platforms have become the spark for social justice movements and have elevated them on larger scales. By promoting on social media what we hold to be valuable for reform, we strengthen our unity as a society to push for change on subjects we are most passionate about.

Social media is constantly changing with the times, and it is the most accessible form of education that exists. It increases the extent of visibility of material vital for social change. While social media is effective in providing copious amounts of information, it is what we do with that information that matters most.

Education is social change. Education regarding current social matters is activism. Victims of social injustice share their stories, and from hearing about these experiences, we are educated about concepts beyond ourselves, gaining the ability to understand our privileges and powers and using them to connect with and fight for the good of others who are marginalized and oppressed in society.

Works Cited

“Herbert Spencer Quotes.” brainyquote.com, BrainyQuote, https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/herbert-spencer-quotes. Accessed 9 Dec. 2020.

“Social Media for Social Change: 5 Ways Social Media Can Create Social Change.” nnedv.org, 29 June 2016, https://nnedv.org/latest_update/social-media-social-change/. Accessed 9 Dec. 2020.

Wade, Lori. “How Social Media is Reshaping Today’s Education System.” csic.georgetown.edu, Georgetown University, https://csic.georgetown.edu/magazine/social-media-reshaping-todays-education-system/. Accessed 9 Dec. 2020.


School Is No Longer About Learning. It’s About Passing.

More often than not, today’s students have fallen into a continuous cycle of late nights, artificial deadlines, and grade influenced mindsets, when it should, in fact, be quite the opposite. In a vastly changing world, the education system is not set apart. Over time, education has slowly transitioned into a more damaging, expectant system, in which learning is no longer at the threshold of importance for students. It is no longer about learning, it is simply about passing. Grades have become a product to solely strive for. In the education system today, learning has been pushed to the side in order to meet the excess amount of expectations placed on students, creating a community based on living up to standards, which interferes with the learning process. 

While grades can be beneficial, they have developed into a sole source of students’ motivation, taking the place of learning as the end goal in school, which is to pass. Grades are a convenient and easy way to keep track of a student’s learning progress, serving as an “immediate feedback mechanism,” however, they have become a source of impending doom for many students (“3 Reasons Grades Are Bad for Education – THNK School.”). They stress memorization and reinforce a mentality emphasized on test scores, rather than rewarding learning and creativity (Lahey). Often, we see students would rather take the easy route or the simplest task to lessen the amount of over consuming workloads, to attain the best possible grades, and to avoid failure. Grades have diminished the value of learning and created an environment where students are afraid of failure, as the pressure to perform perfectly from teachers, parents, and even students themselves is overwhelming and damaging. 

As a current student in the education system, I can personally account for the dwindling focus of learning. It seems continuously we are told by our teachers, parents, and even our peers that “grades do not define you,” yet still, we obsess over the letter grades written onto our exams in bright red ink. We ask for extra credit points not to learn, but to enhance our grades even just a little bit. Studying for tests is not to comprehend and retain the information, it is to memorize, but then later forget, that information to get a multiple choice question correct. Our focus has been diverted from learning and instead placed on our grades. It has become a sad reality where students memorize, recite, forget, and then move onto the next subject. Grades should not be the end all be all, they should be “a recognition of the learning process a student went through, not the product a student strives for exclusively” (Schwartz). Because of these expectations, every school day has become a self-defeating cycle of striving for perfection instead of striving for learning and comprehending that which we are taught in school.

School is no longer about learning, it is about passing. Students continuously enter the routine of striving for good grades instead of the actual goal to learn, as perfect grades are held as a necessity for success for the youth today. Grades should instead act as a helpful stage in the learning process, rather than a diminishing form of learning. Today, the learning process has been lowered and students’ passion for learning have been diminished by the heavy weight the expectations of grades carryover. School should not be a place where your grades define your success as a person, it should be an interactive and collaborative environment for students to kindle their passion for learning and to grow as individuals. 

Works Cited

“3 Reasons Grades Are Bad for Education – THNK School.” THNK, 24 Sept. 2020, www.thnk.org/blog/3-reasons-grades-bad-education/. 

Lahey, Jessica. “Letter Grades Deserve an ‘F’.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 19 June 2018, www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/letter-grades-deserve-an-f/284372/.

Schwartz, Katrina. “Are Grades Diverting Focus From Real Learning?” KQED, 18 July 2017, www.kqed.org/mindshift/48450/are-grades-diverting-focus-from-real-learning.


Importance of Individuality

In today’s world, which is captivated by social media, people have a tendency to conform to those around them. Celebrities are idolized, causing people to put themselves down at the sight of celebrities’ seemingly perfect lives. To cope with these emotions, people often attempt to model the lives of those whom they admire. While having some type of role model does not present problems, it is when people become so involved with imitating the lives of others that they lose sight of their own feelings and opinions that obstacles are created. Ever since the early 1800s, the philosophies of Transcendentalism have been preached. These philosophies establish the necessity of individuality, something that is slowly being forgotten about by society. By reflecting on the work of Transcendentalist thinkers, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, independent thinking will have the capacity to be rekindled, thus reducing conformity and strengthening authenticity in individuals.

Transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Wado Emerson and Henry David Thoreau celebrate the individual, promoting self-reliance and independent action among men.  Emerson, who became known as the father of transcendentalism, wrote intellectual essays and important speeches that most clearly conveyed the universal truths of transcendentalism.  Man’s success is ultimately the reward of individual thought, not the result of other’s efforts.  In his speech, “The American Scholar,” Emerson encourages the individualism of man, expressing that “the world is nothing the man is all” (Emerson).  In order to flourish, Emerson states that men must be nonconformists and must act upon their own personal ideas.  In addition, Emerson empowers authenticity, which is ultimately reliant on man’s relationship with nature and reflection on the past, commending the study of nature to know oneself and the creation of books to acquire truth.  The thoughts and writings of Emerson later inspired future transcendentalists.  Henry David Thoreau became friends with and a student of Emerson and was deeply influenced by his thinking regarding the celebration of man.  In addition to Emerson’s words, Thoreau’s writings acknowledge the relationship between man and government and promote the action of man.  Thoreau argues for disobedience to an unjust government, which he believes is obtained by self-reliance.  He asks that “every man make known what kind of government would command his respect” in order to obtain it (Thoreau).  Over one hundred years before John F. Kennedey’s inaugural address, Thoreau urges the same idea that it is not about what the government can do for you, but what you can do for the government.  He asserts that “we should be men first and subjects after,” fulfilling our lives as individuals before conforming to the laws of the government (Thoreau).  He believes that individual thought and action are necessary to achieve an ideal government.  Unfortunately, many of these essential philosophies of transcendentalism have been lost in the noise of society, and it is important to channel one’s inner self to experience the triumphs of life.

Conforming to societal norms hinders a person’s expression of self, as their individuality is corrupted by mirroring what is accepted by society. Especially in the most unprecedented times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to lose sight of oneself in the surrounding chaos. In lockdown, people found themselves having exceptionally lax schedules, not focusing on the important things they once centered their lives upon. In times like these, it is most important to reflect on one’s inner self and voice one’s opinions on certain matters to continue to flourish. This disordered world is in need of healing, and it is society’s job to not follow those around them, but instead to enhance their individual thinking in order to open dialogue for solutions. If everyone were to go back in time to understand and reflect on what the Transcendentalist thinkers were trying to say, this world would be more innovative and open to change, necessities for restoration and evolution. Thus, the Transcendentalist promotion of self-reliance is important to consider at all times, especially those that are most difficult, in order to experience life at its fullest potential.

Works Cited

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “The American Scholar.” 1837.

Thoreau, Henry David. “Civil Disobedience.” 1849.


Breaking the Stigma surrounding ADHD

Majority of parents want their children to succeed and grow in other aspects of life, but for some that doesn’t come easy. Many blame their children’s bad grades on them not paying attention in class, studying hard enough for a test or failing to complete their assignments (Frank). What most don’t realize is that all of these negatives happenings in their child’s schooling could ultimately be a result of ADHD.

The reason a stigma exists for ADHD is because many view it as an excuse for laziness and getting extra attention. Since school will come as a challenge to those suffering, many individuals will base the child’s grades on their worth. Many are ashamed of taking medication and seeking help, but I feel it’s important to not be ashamed, since you can’t control it. It’s important to remind those suffering that it is possible to succeed and that you can’t give up because then you’re letting your weaknesses win you over (Mueller). 

It’s better to embrace your illness than being ashamed of it, since it doesn’t identify your true self (Sherman). According to Dr. Stephen Hinshw, ADHD is more common in males, so when young women are diagnosed many view them as having severe issues. As an individual who suffers from ADHD, I don’t view myself any differently from my classmates, but that I just need a little more assistance when it comes to school.

https://childmind.org/article/stigma-girls-and-adhd/

Frank, Michelle. “ADHD: The Facts.” ADDA – Attention Deficit Disorder Association, 24 July 2020, add.org/adhd-facts/.

Mueller, Anna K, et al. “Stigma in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, Springer Vienna, Sept. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3430836/.

Sherman, Carl, and Carl Sherman. “Coping With the Stigma of ADHD.” ADDitude, 29 Oct. 2020, www.additudemag.com/overcoming-adhd-stigma/

https://www.youthvoices.live/category/december-2020/