School Culture and Community
By Ayden Hodge
We’ve been through a lot the last few years. From a pandemic, to civil unrest our communities have been divided more than ever. Factors beyond our control dividing us even further. With the world being in such a scary and unsure place we’ve been left to wonder about: our economic stability, political division, and mental health. Now when we need one another most, we should be the change we wish to see. Building a more positive atmosphere at East High School, with an emphasis on our community and how we engage in it. That starts with us. Using our voice and expressing our ideas again. Effecting change and attacking issues that seem insurmountable, but together we can overcome. One thing most affected by this disconnect is the bond between the students themselves.
Students leave East as adults ready to take on the world, but the bonds aren't as strong as they could be. I think this could be a result of the lack of activities that unite the students under one purpose. First and foremost, students are here to graduate, but in my opinion the connections they make to others are just as important. I think it’s important we get back to the culture that fosters those connections in high school and you should too. This not only benefits the senior class, but classes to come as well.
I propose an event with student-designed shirts students can get for a small donation and wear to a big senior class party event. Mutually benefits are stocking our East high pantry and getting some East merch. For one dollar or two cans you can get a shirt that reminds us that you are part of something bigger than yourself. The pantry at East has helped dozens of families here, and two cans can go a long way to helping them keep it going. This could unite the senior class under a common goal. It’s a great thing to leave behind for East High long after we're gone.
By Elijah Delgado
Financial literacy is a crucial life skill that is often overlooked in traditional education. High school seniors in particular, are at a critical point where they need to understand the basics of budgeting, saving, investing, and avoiding debt. Unfortunately, financial literacy classes are not mandatory in many schools, and the lack of financial education is a significant problem that affects their future.
Not having financial literacy classes in high school is a problem because it leads to poor financial decisions, increased debt, and financial stress. For example, “75% of American teens lack confidence in their knowledge of personal finance." Students who lack financial education are more likely to make impulsive purchases, not save enough money for the future, and fall into debt. Furthermore, many young adults need to fully understand the consequences of taking out student loans, credit card debt, or other types of loans, which can lead to long-term financial problems. Financial literacy is a vital life skill that high school students must learn, but it is often neglected in traditional education. By prioritizing financial literacy education in high schools, we can empower students to make informed financial decisions, reduce their financial stress, and set themselves up for a more stable financial future.
By Mossimo Perry
No one really talks about how to pursue a career without mentioning college. From my experience and talking to peers, college is talked about so much in high school; some might not see the other career paths out there. We need courses that speak about options such as going into the trades and different ways to earn money from a specific skill they could acquire from a vocational school: a class where students who don’t want to go to college can be educated on what to pursue after high school instead of leaving them working a minimum-wage fast food job.
Here at East, we have programs such as Upward Bound that expose students to college life and give students the resources they need to be successful in finding and applying to their top-picked colleges. In addition, the Career and Financial Management course at East goes into several types of scholarships and programs you can apply to get exposure to college life. East has no such programs for trades and exposure to skill-based careers. Our Career and Financial Management class does speak on trades, but it is a very brief subject. It does not mention any trades or vocational programs that are available in Rochester. The closest thing we have to technical careers are Optics, Culinary, Home Maintenance and Repair, and Biology which can lead to a career in nursing. But where are the classes that will expose students to a wider range of technical education?
Rochester Food Deserts
By Olivia Marcano
Rochester is in a health crisis called a “Food desert” or “Food Swamp” where people are bringing to light a disproportion in healthy and sustainable food sources in our low income, minority dense communities. This issue has existed for decades but it seems like it’s just now gaining traction in the media and being advocated against. Food deserts came about when supermarkets abandoned our inner city communities in an attempt to ”follow the money” symbolized by the suburbs, leaving inner city residents hungry and confused. Those without access to transportation or suburban grocery prices suffered all the more.
To fill this void, redlined communities faced an uprising in cheap, unhealthy food vendors which should only sustain one for so long due to lack of necessary nutrition which caused a health decrease across an entire population, our city’s Black population, who was already vulnerable to poor health due to redlining conditions. To illustrate, Healthline.com states, “The causes of food deserts are multifaceted. Public policy and economic practices that are embedded in systemic racism often play a role. Social, economic, and political conditions have been shown to reduce people’s access to healthy foods.” These standards continue to plague the minority community today which goes to show that this issue and the struggles that come with it is not an individual problem with an easy or immediate solution. The factors that cause this are embedded into our racist, capitalist society and can't be remedied with a single solution. This will be a long process with extensive aspects to address. With so many issues to tackle, where should we start?
Nutrition and School-Provided Food
By Jeovanne Finch-Negron
East High School's food for the breakfasts and the lunches are not healthy for the students that are eating it. The amount of food that we are given is not enough for us growing teens while giving us food that is filled with carbohydrates that make us carbo-loaded. Through my research I have found that “effects of poor nutrition from school lunches go beyond weight gain. A child who eats too much fat, sugar, sodium, or processed food and too few vitamins and minerals are likely to develop a higher risk over time for several chronic health problems. These might include diabetes, kidney stones, bone loss, cancer, and heart disease.”
Furthermore, “Active kids who need more calories than the federal limits are also at risk, and may end up feeling weak, fatigued or nauseous during sports and exercise.” As an athlete, the body needs more food to be able to grow and develop, especially the growth within the brain that we use to learn in classes. The food that we eat and the amount can be the deciding factor of how students thrive academically. The site Lunch MOB states that “Students eating healthy foods are found to be academically brighter. Unhealthy lunches decrease brain power and can also cause memory loss. Poor eating habits can also affect a child’s sleeping patterns, which may influence the student’s behavior and academic performance.” From the piece of evidence taken from Lunch MOB’s article it further proves the overwhelming effect that food can have on the body.
By Kani McNeil
Mental health awareness is the concept of people coming together in order to alleviate some of the damage that trauma and stress have caused. We seek relief and comfort in others because people need people that they can trust and rely on to carry a weight that would otherwise be overwhelming. Overall mental health has been declining since COVID and teens and children need help. According to Monroe county publishing, “30% of students reported their mental health was not good during the COVID-19 pandemic ‘all’ or ‘most of the time.’” That is one in three children that said they were constantly stressed and suffering. They also write “11% of girls reported that, in the past year, they attempted suicide compared to 4% of boys.” These are children that have struggled so much that they were willing to take the one way they had out.
This is important to me because I have struggled with mental adversities and have helped and grown with people struggling. Looking in from both sides, change certainly needs to happen. In order to bring more awareness, I will be working with the nurses, counselors, and administrators in order to create an East Day event to get to know our own minds and those of the ones around us.
By Quentin Gordon-Smith
Family stability and how it affects students in school. I feel like this is a big problem in schools today. As a person who experienced it and as a person who is currently seeing it from other students, it is a big problem.
A couple years ago, my mom and dad split up and I was really going through it. I was angry, I was sad, I was confused, but mostly I was hurt. I was so used to seeing them together and all of a sudden, they split so it felt unreal. When I went into school I didn’t want to be bothered. I'd always have my head down and not do anything and if someone touched me I would flip and try to fight them all because of my anger and frustration at home. Eventually I got over it but at the time it was rough. My little brother is also affected by this. Our parent’s divorce broke him, and now he rarely talks to his dad and rarely sees his dad. He lacks a father figure, after the breakup he didn’t really communicate with his dad. He was influenced by the negativity around him and that led him to go down the wrong path. His grades dropped, he isolated himself, he only came out of his room when he was hungry and when he had to use the bathroom.
This is a problem that happens every day and everywhere. We really don’t know what people are going through. That's why people should be kind to one another. I speak about this now because it’s really affecting students. I see kids skipping class at my school, smoking in the bathrooms, and fighting with frustration and anger. Who knows, maybe that’s their way of showing they need help. Family stability really does play a huge role in how students act in school. All those people need is someone to talk to, a person by their side that they can trust and talk to freely without being judged. That is the cure.
Andre Smith, a social worker East said, “Yes, it is a big issue. Most students I speak with have family stability issues that they are dealing with.” He also said, “What we normally end up doing is processing situations and circumstances. Solutions can vary. Sometimes it might be putting services in place, but more often we talk about how to make the best of situations that can’t be changed right now and deal with them in the healthiest possible way. It definitely varies depending on the student and situation. Often students need someone to listen and that alone seems to help a lot.”
By Mo’Asia Ferrell
Teen homelessness is a major issue in today’s society. Teens are left with nowhere to go, house-to house, friends couches, etc. due to a variety of reasons. This issue affects teens, parents, communities within which teens reside, their peers, and teachers (people the teens interact with) at their high school. Often, the cause of teen homelessness ranges from teens who are under bad influences from friends, teens who undergo mental health problems, family issues, abuse, drugs, and no support in their day-to-day life.
This is a significant issue in Rochester communities. I just went through this struggle myself; you’d be surprised at the number of teens this issue affects. Teens do not have the same privileges as 18+ so they need additional help and support with these types of issues. Also, their safety is at risk being out in the streets in the community with no help. We need to create housing options for them, schools need a crisis response plan if they are aware of a student being homeless, and we need to increase employment opportunities for teens.
Is College Worth It?
By La’Velle Coleman
College is a great opportunity for people of all ages, especially for students that are about to graduate from East High and are ready to take the career path that they have chosen. Some people think that college isn't worth it due to the fact that people aren't able to pay for their tuition depending on what they do for a living.
Tuition is the initial cost that you have to pay for college if you want to graduate with a degree. The cost of most colleges is a major/common issue because most people aren't able to pay for it due to their income and/or are too worried about the cost of college and the amassing debt. Another reason this may be an issue is because people feel as if college would be “too stressful” or “too much pressure.” This issue affects students who aren't too sure about college meaning that this information would cause them to second guess an opportunity of a lifetime. This issue also affects students who want to go to college because although they are set and know why they are going, they aren't ready to take on amassing debt depending on what they're going for. This issue is important to consider and explore solutions to because a great number of young scholars with good potential are choosing not to go to college and instead are working rather than going to college to gain a higher paying job that they will enjoy.
The Cost of College
By Terreil Colon
College is a path people take for when they know what they want to do or have a passion they want to follow. But what about the people who don’t know what they want? Do they go to college undecided until they have no choice but to pick a major because of the limited time they have left to do so? But if that was the case then one should consider a gap year to think about what they would like to do because many people can be successful without going to college and taking the burden of all the debt you're left with after college. According to Bestcolleges.com, about 55% of high-school graduates either don’t go to college or don’t have any idea of what they want to do and not go.
The fact that high school graduates prioritize their mental health and financial stability over attending college is yet another interesting finding. Is this a problem or something wrong now? I'd answer "no," since I think you have to meet the challenge on your own. When I say "by yourself," I'm referring to high school graduates, because we might not know what we want or how to get it. It makes us stressed out, which has an impact on us. Now this issue deserves a resolution since nobody should feel pressured to pursue their goals in life because it is their life and taking time to consider them requires thinking about our future for ourselves.