Virtual High School

 

By Juniper Glidden

With the availability that almost everyone in modern society has to the advanced technology that is present in this time, the question of why schools are not using this to their advantage should be brought up.

There are now numerous programs in the country that provide all the high school courses necessary to receive a diploma virtually. These programs allow students to work at their own pace and in the comfort of their own home. Virtual high schools also offer the flexible learning times that students who need to work to support themselves or their family financially may need.

Most students in public schools have access to a computer and the internet at home. So if they they have the right accesses needed to participate in a virtual high school why not give them the opportunity to do so? Why are all public schools not offering the option of taking their classes online to all their students?

The reason is certainly not because students could not learn all they need to know from an online program. Virtual high school programs offer instructional videos for students to watch and access to certified online school teachers to properly educate students on all subjects and to clarify any questions they have.

As does everything in today’s society, the reason all public schools do not incorporate virtual schools comes down purely to money. It costs schools money to provide their students with access to these virtual schooling programs. Money that many public schools do not have.

However, there is a public high school that actually does have the money: Naugatuck High School. NHS recently received news that their $81 billion renovation project will be coming in under budget and that the school will have about $1.3 million left over to spend on other things to improve the school.

Since NHS has the money, why not invest it in an online high school program. It would better the students who want to complete their courses online and not limit the availability of the program to only students who need to recover credits as the school does now.

So how about instead of spending that money on outdoor furniture and additional bleachers that will be academically benefiting the students in no way, the money be used to invest in a virtual learning program to aid the students struggling to learn in the distracting school environment.

Homework by Sophie Boucher

Homework. This is a word that some students dread, some students don’t care about, and very few students find essential and meaningful. At Naugatuck High School, the policy has recently changed so that homework must count for 5% of a student’s final grade in every department. Some departments, such as the English department, have lobbied for a change and are piloting a new policy in which homework – or practice – counts for 10% of a student’s final grade while the Social Studies department got rid of the “homework” category all together in order to avoid the 5% mandate. With all of the opposition seen by teachers and department heads, the question of why the homework policy was changed so that it would count for 5% of a student’s final grade was voted favorably upon.

It all started a couple of years ago when the administrators at Naugatuck High School recognized a problem. Students weren’t doing homework and it made a huge dent in these student’s grades. Furthermore, these administrators wanted to see student’s grades reflect their performance on summative and formative assessments more than they wanted to see their grades reflect their homework. As a result, homework, in all departments, was dropped down or maintained at 5% of a student’s final grade.

Unfortunately, this policy has not found much success at Naugatuck High School. Mrs. Mariano, a math teacher, when asked if she has found success in the current homework policy in the math department, said, “No, I find that less students do their homework now that  it’s only as five percent”. Not only has the math department found this new policy to be unsuccessful, but the science department has also found that the homework policy has had a negative effect on whether or not a student will complete his or her homework. Mrs. Lancaster, a science teacher, when asked the same question, answered saying “I would say that in my upper level classes that there are more students not completing their homework because their not seeing that it’s weighed as much”.

Homework is crucial in the learning process of a student. Homework is practice, it reinforces learning, and accelerates a student’s mastery of specific skills. In fact, research has found that high school students feel as though homework has a positive influence on achievement in a class or on an assessment (Homework). In order to attain the maximum benefits from homework, increasing the percentage at which homework counts for a grade would motivate more students to get it done. In addition, in a survey conducted at Naugatuck High School, over half of the students who participated either said yes or maybe when asked if an increase in the weight of homework would motivate them more to complete it. An increase in the weight of homework from 5% to 10% in all departments would have a positive effect on the students at Naugatuck High School. Not only would more kids be more motivated to complete their homework, but they will also evidently score better on their summative and formative assessments.

Moreover, increasing the weight of homework inevitably lowers the weight of summative and formative assessments. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. Matthew Spira, a writer for the Ehow website, wrote an article about the disadvantages of summative assessments. According to Spira, “There is a direct correlation between performance on a test and self-esteem”. Those who score poorly on tests generally have a lower self-esteem, which will result in a reduced willingness to put in effort (Disadvantages of Summative Assessments 2011). A student’s grade should not just be a reflection of their performance on a test or quiz, but it should also be a reflection of a student’s hard work and effort. By changing the criteria of homework from accuracy and/or completion to effort, students will be forced to work harder on their homework in order to receive a good grade for it.

Any teacher asked will always say that homework is extremely important for a student’s education. By increasing the weight of homework from 5% to 10% and by changing the criteria so that homework would be graded on effort as opposed to accuracy and/or completion, students will be able to achieve the maximum benefits homework has to offer for them.

 

Naugatuck Need a Place for Teens by Brianna Durante and Alexa Blazas

Naugatuck Needs a Place for Teens

            Current teenagers in Naugatuck High School certainly remember watching movies and shows such as iCarly when they were younger.  In this show, for example, the afterschool hang out spot was the Groovy Smoothie.  In many teen movies and shows, there is a similar place where the characters would always meet up with friends after school.  Unfortunately for Naugatuck, this idea exists only in the movies and shows.  It’s time that changed.

After school, many high school students have no place they can go to hang out with their friends that is free and safe.  There is the YMCA, but it is geared more towards athletes.  In addition, you cannot enter the building for free.  Many teens will also walk to the green after school to hang out there.  However, they are often scolded for loitering.  Also, the green is not very safe considering there is no supervision.  Of course, there are also many places such as Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s in town.  Nevertheless, one can’t simply sit there without having to purchase something.

Due to the lack of places to hang out, “many teenagers revert to dangerous and harmful behavior” assistant principal Eileen Mezzo states.  Naugatuck needs a facility dedicated to teens as a place they can go for free to simply hang out and have a good time with their friends in a safe environment.  Please, support Alexa Blazas and I, Brianna Durante, in our Civic Action Project to create this facility in our town.

A Different Way of Teaching

by Nicole Healy

A teacher and a coach should inspire, motivate, and lead. Naugatuck High School’s Kevin Wesche does all three.

Naugy’s Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) teacher and head coach of volleyball and softball has made an impact on many students and faculty in the school. But would they believe he wasn’t the best high school student himself?

Wesche says during his days as a student “education at the time wasn’t a top priority. The school’s guidance counselors even told his parents that “I would never amount to anything.”

Fast forward thirty years, his students and players disagree.

Anthony Angiolillo, senior at NHS had Wesche for a video gaming & design class his junior year. He says Wesche has a “different way of teaching” compared to other staff at NHS. “He provides us with hands-on real life experiences.”

Student athlete Jenna Massicotte plays for Wesche in both volleyball and softball and has played all three years she’s been in high school. She says as her coach, “He’s a smart guy, he knows his stuff.” Her only complaint is his wit. Wesche likes to joke around with his students and players, and sometimes his sarcasm may be taken literally.

Wesche had coached softball as the volunteer assistant coach for two years, and has thirteen years as head coach under his belt. He had been the assistant coach of the volleyball team for a decade, and became the head coach for the 2013 fall season. He has also coached football, baseball, and basketball.

Wesche became a coach because he “loves athletes, competitiveness, and had two tech teachers in high school who told him he had the ability to break things down into small pieces for others to understand.”

Sara Scrofani, web design teacher, has known Wesche since she started teaching at Naugatuck High School ten years ago. But she believes he has changed his high school perception of himself. “He has great character, and that hasn’t changed.”

Scrofani believes he is very successful because “I don’t think success is determined by grades, it’s if you can be a lifelong learner.” His experience of coaching has given him a different approach to helping his students and athletes learn. He takes both his own mistakes and the mistakes of past coaches he has worked with and learns from them. That is true wisdom.

On a personal note, Kevin Wesche has taught me a lot of lessons in my three years playing volleyball with him. He motivates me to be the best person I can be, on and off the court. His wisdom in the sport cannot be duplicated, and I hope someday that I can make him proud to say he gave me my start in the sport I love.

 

The Beginning of a Christian Holocaust?

Written by Samantha Sbat

Many Muslims today think Isis has become evil calling them un-Islamic. Islam is a religion of peace not violence. When reading the Islamic Monthly it said, “In the words of the Soufan Group, a political risk consultancy, “ISIS has become indisputably the most effective and ruthless terrorist organization in the world.” From speaking with knowledge I know the violence that goes on in the Middle East.  I am half Lebanese, my father was born and raised in Lebanon until he was 18. Lebanon used to be a religiously diverse country, and still is today with many Christians scared to practice their faith. Some were Christian like my father when coming to America and some were Muslim. Lebanon is about 52% Muslim and 42% Christian, today Lebanon is dangerous. It has been taking over by the Islamic State, and is destroying lives. Lebanon is a dangerous place to travel to at this time my Dad has said, and will continue to get worse if there’s not a stop to it.

I’ve been angry over the past few months hearing about what ISIS has done to these many Christians and even Muslims who not  believing what they do and defend these Christians. Since when is religion violence? Since when is it torture? Since when is it terrifying for others? Prophet Muhammad stated that killing was prohibited, Do not kill any old person, any child or any woman”, “No prisoner should be put to the sword [aka executed or beheaded]” Why isn’t this being followed? The question I keep asking myself every day is, what is the United States of America doing to defend these people? We care so much about a dress being blue and black or silver and white, but not about the many Christians and non- Christians being killed each day?

To date, more than 170,000 people (mostly all Christians) have been killed by ISIS. Many people do not quite understand the evil logic behind ISIS and why the kill.  ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.) follows a distinctive variety of Islam in which whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment follow strict guidelines. Isis beliefs that killing infidels that don’t believe what they do will score them points with God.

The United States needs to get involved in this more. We are supposed to be one of the strongest and bravest countries in the world. I know in a heartbeat that of we were to come together against ISIS and their mass murder of these poor Christians, we would defeat them. We are the United States of America; we are supposed to stand up for justice. This disgusts me and makes me hope for a miracle. If something like this was happening to us, we would want help. Is this going to be the next Christian Holocaust?

 

 

Undefeated Fighter Scared?

Written by James Dessureau

It’s finally happening the boxing match of the century as Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, with a record of 57-5-2, takes on undefeated Floyd “Money” Mayweather, who is 47-0, but why has this fight taken so long to take place?  This fight has been talked about for years but has yet to happen!

The delay in this fight has not only angered fans but also has lowered the quality of the fight as these fighters are no longer in their prime like they would’ve been back in 2010 when the fight became less of a hopeful fans dream and more of a reality.  Some may think 5 years isn’t that long but when you’re a part of a profession when you are hit in the head constantly it begins to take its toll.  While neither Pacquiao nor Mayweather have experienced any kind of major setback they know the end of their respective career is over with Mayweather at age 38 and Pacquiao at age 36.

The effects of this dangerous profession can best be seen when you look at former boxing heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay, who after a long and well talked about career now, sadly, suffers from Parkinson’s syndrome from all the head trauma he suffered throughout his years in the ring

Some people believe the fight has yet to happen because of money which would severely affect Mayweather want to fight but boxing has steadily declined as a whole as the years have passed and the fight has still sold $74 in tickets and is projected to make upwards of $400 million in total revenue making it the highest grossing combat sport event of all time.

It is many others as well as my belief that Floyd Mayweather is scared of fighting Manny Pacquiao and losing his first fight of his career. This fight if it was up to Manny Pacquiao would have happened a few times by now so why has it not?  I’m not Floyd Mayweather but if I was I wouldn’t be against fighting anyone let alone  the man who has challenged me and said he will beat me and that I’m scared to fight him.  Most athletes are very prideful especially professional fighters making these accusations very motivating for someone like Mayweather who has defeated any and all challengers.

Will this affect the fight on May 2nd probably not but you need to think this has given Manny Pacquiao a small confidence boost and that Floyd Mayweather has some belief that he actually might lose and he now has the excuse of age on his side.

Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

Written by Evan Pelliccia

A few years ago, Michael Vick was the most hated athlete in America. But since he has gotten out of jail he has completely turned his life around. He has made me change my opinion of him.

The former NFL superstar was at the top of the world before he found guilty for dogfighting. He had just recently signed the largest contract in NFL history, was on the cover of Madden 04, and he was the face of the NFL.

Many people believed that he should rot in jail for the rest of his life for killing those poor, innocent dogs. They thought he should never ever step foot on an NFL field again. Hundreds of people, including some animal rights activists stood outside the courthouse to protest. He was sentenced to 23 months in jail.

Once Vick was released from jail he began working out for NFL teams to try to revitalize his NFL career, but he also did a lot of work with the humane society and many other organizations to try and show people he had actually changed who he was as a person. He was also been in contact with famous NFL coach Tony Dungy while he was in jail and continued to work with him on building his character after he was released from prison.

All of that work still to not make people change their minds about him, he was still hated throughout the country.

The team that ended up signing him was the Philadelphia Eagles. The NFL blew up once he was signed, fans from all over did not approve of him being back in the league, especially Eagles fans. At the press conference where they announced the signing of Vick, many people stood outside of the NovaCare center (where the press conference was held) protesting him yet again.

Some people even held up hateful signs saying “Hide your beagles, Michael Vick’s an Eagle.” But none of the hate got to him.

As the NFL season got underway, he was not playing, everyone thought that he would get mad and do something about it, as he would have before going to prison, but he did nothing. That showed people that he wasn’t the hot heated, immature guy he once was.

By the end of the season, even by not playing and not drawing any unnecessary attention to himself, he still got massive media attention.

The next season, he had an MVP caliber season, and the Michael Vick fans came back to loving him. Even President Barack Obama called Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie and thanked him for giving Michael Vick a second chance at an NFL career.

But what if Michael Vick had never been given that second chance by the Philadelphia Eagles? He would still be thought of as a terrible person even though he turned his life around tremendously. He would live the rest of his life with regret even though he deserved the chance.

Sometimes people make mistakes and then they get punished and finally realize that they can’t be doing what they did anymore, they grow up. Which is what Vick did.

Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves to be able to make up for those mistakes.

He even owns a dog now, he built the trust of everyone to where they believed in him to have a dog. That’s pretty impressive.

Dolce & Gabbana

Written by Tony Lacerenza

As a staunch believer in ‘Freedom of Speech,’ I can gladly say that Dolce & Gabbana’s fundamental right to voice their opinion is valid. That much is understood. However Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, as prosperous as they may be,  made some pretty distasteful statements that  received full recognition. I am not impressed.

The fashion designers  made statements to Italian magazine, ‘Panorama’ about children born through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and made irrational comments about same-sex families. They referred to these children as “children of chemistry” and “synthetic”. I must have missed it in the newspaper somewhere, I didn’t know that the circumstances in which a child was born were even relevant. Shouldn’t what you choose to do with your life matter, instead? What makes Dolce & Gabbana experts anyway?

Their views on conception seem to be more ‘traditional’. Again, they’re entitled to their beliefs as I am and as we all are. But, sometimes you just have to stop and think about what you’re going to say before you say it. Some families cannot conceive children the ‘traditional’ way. IVF has been used not only to the full advantage of same-sex couples, but straight couples as well. Yet, it still doesn’t seem to click for Dolce & Gabbana.

In the most recent issue of Panorama, the fashion designer goes on to say, “I am opposed to the idea of a child growing up with two gay parents.” Gabbana said, “A child needs a mother and a father. I could not imagine my childhood without my mother. I also believe that it’s cruel to take a baby away from their mother.”

Unfortunately, we commonly hear of cases where children are raised without either parent, whether their parents are deceased, in jail or deemed as “unfit.” It’s almost unavoidable, cases such as these are bound to happen. So where’s the harm in two loving mothers (or fathers) raising the same child? Gabbana can’t imagine a life without his mother, so aren’t two moms better than one (or none)?

I can’t help but think that their opinions come from insecure feeling. It’s quite hypocritical, actually and especially when Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana identify as gay themselves. They have even confessed to having romantic affairs with each other.

So I guess it’s okay to say what you want. Our constitution defends your right to speak freely, even if that includes being hateful and backwards, feel free to take that on and do so. But, expect me to do the same.

‘Freedom of Speech’ does not equate to freedom from criticism.