Manipulating Success as a Student

All around the world, you can easily buy fake IDs, you can have someone else write your SATs, but can you purchase extra time on tests?


 

For many, time is crucial during school evaluations. An extra minute can mean a couple more percent, which to some is life or death. Getting a good grade on quizzes and tests can be the difference between getting into University or not. As a grade 12 student at an Ontarian school, you are pressured to study hard and get competitive grades. Many students find this relatively easy, while others struggle deeply to pass some of the more challenging courses. In order to improve one’s chances of getting into University, it is fairly common for students to resort to cheating on their evaluations.

I think that our school system would like to think that all students are receiving a pretty much equal playing field. However, I know for a fact that countless students think differently. As a student, you are almost fully relying on your teacher and the curriculum. Since teachers are humans, they test differently and teach uniquely. Obviously, some are better than others at explaining concepts and making ideas clear. In my opinion, that is completely fair — for now. Nonetheless, something I do not understand fully is the immense difference between the evaluations within the same course. For example, some courses taught in the same semester by different teachers have ridiculously different evaluations. I do acknowledge that sometimes teachers emphasize different things. It doesn’t make sense if one class is being tested with a one-page open-book unit test and the other class is being evaluated with a 7-page closed-book unit test. How could students be accurately evaluated on the same content if the level of difficulty of the evaluations is drastically different?

As it has been for centuries, cheating is a factor that prevents complete and utter accuracy when it comes to testing a student’s level of understanding. The most common method of cheating is to peak at someone else’s work on an evaluation or plagiarize. Something that I have recently been told about is getting extra time on evaluations. Many students are granted extra time on the basis of having an IEP or being ESL. An IEP stands for Individual Education Plan and is a “document that is developed for each public school child who needs special education”. I am not arguing that IEPs are negative, I actually think they are vital for quality education.

This year, more than one person has asked me why I do not just “buy an IEP”. At first, I did not know what they were referring to. Buying an IEP? You can do that? I asked each of them to explain to me what they meant, and all their responses were unanimous. They said that if you go to a “phycologist” they will be able to easily find a reason for you to have an IEP, and thus have extra time on evaluations. At this point, I am not sure whether these students have a misunderstanding of the situation or if this is really happening.

What struck me most, though, was not what I was hearing, but why I was hearing it. ‘Pressure’ is a word that is used daily by students. Although cheating is not honest or morally right, it is not entirely the student’s fault. Cheating has been normalized since we entered preschool. We see cheating appearing on the news and in the media, in our vocabulary and in our education system. On top of that, adolescents and children are vigorously tested. It is common knowledge that teachers do not trust students; they stare over their paper and tell horror stories of people being named as “cheaters.” I think trust is one of the most significant values that is overlooked when discussing cheating in school.

After almost every evaluation in my Advanced Functions class this year, a white Markbook sheet would be hanged on the wall with details on every student’s grade and academic results. Beside every mark, there was your student number and your overall ranking in the class. For me, it was hard to feel valued when you are literally represented by a 9-digit number. Almost every teacher I have ever had has said: “do not compare yourself to others.” I could argue that it is very difficult to not differentiate yourself from others when you are visually ranked based on others performance.

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Screenshot of MarkBook interface

One can only assume that teachers think that when your mark is presented like this it is completely anonymous. I have vivid memories of students standing up staring at the sheet trying to figure out who is number one, and which sad soul has the lowest mark. They always do.

It has become so clear to me that If schools want to actually test students properly, something needs to change.

 

The Cost of Your Next Shopping Spree

By Abi Parameswaran

Sweatshop labour, something all may have supported in society at some point; two wards that continue to manifest its way throughout humanity. The daily cycle of students in this country primarily consists of waking up, brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, going to school, getting an education, considerably a normality in the Forest Hill community. This is not the case for many kids in other parts of the world. Many are forced into the physical labour industries as young as ten years old.

Stores like H&M, Joe Fresh, Forever 21, Aldo and many other clothing and accessory companies are culprits of this form of labour. People often work in dangerous, unsanitary locations for long periods of time, with unlivable wages to provide for their families. Many are unaware of these things and often when issues come up relating to this it is often hidden quickly or forgotten about.

Imagine coming home one day to find out that you would never be able to go back to school again; even worse you would be forced to work in an environment without windows, in large unstable buildings, or in polluted small confined spaces. However, realistically this is not imaginable since most of us live in conditions far from this and instead wear clothing that is formed at these types of factories. 

Many of the working conditions of these sweatshop factories are indeed brutal and workers that already live in financial and physical catastrophes tolerate these issues to scrape together less than a sufficient amount to raise a family. One of the most talked about incidents relating to sweatshop labour facilities is the Joe Fresh factory that collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013. Over thousands were injured and more than 250 were killed. This incident brought to life the real issues that surrounded sweatshop labours and after this incident, many companies promised to improve the working conditions and wages of workers in these factories. Most developed societies believed this blindly and many forgot about these incidents. Even though the evidence of change may have been present, it is far from being sufficient.

Still, many companies do not have functioning fire exits or safety precautions set in order, many companies still employ children at fourteen in working conditions that are unsafe. However, this factor does not change much for workers as they will work for as long as they can put food on the table and still face the risk of dying every day on the job. Thinking of the way that most of our clothing is sourced 

 

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CTV News

 

This is one of many imaged depicting the rubble created by the collapse of this factory

Making the big switch from shopping at stores that condone sweatshop labour to stores that enforce actual rules and laws in their factories are very hard. It is not always easy or affordable for many since many continue to live in different financial conditions. Change can be made; understanding the concept of sweatshop labour and knowing which stores do endorse this form of labour is indeed helpful. Perhaps the next time anyone decides to go on a shopping spree consider buying less from stores that endorse this and make small changes in their lifestyle.

Talking about this issue will change the way many see this and will promote people to think more about where their clothes come from and the reason why clothing tends to be affordable. Ignorance is often the reason why many are blinded to the many issues related to sweatshop labour and their affiliation with it. Perhaps learn about companies such as Lush, American Apparel, People Tree, Modcloth and many other on the list who either contribute less to this cause or make all their products within the country.

Coming to terms with the issue and talking about this can potentially change one’s life since corporations do catch on to number and once they see a drop with sales due to customers knowledge of a corporation’s actions they are compelled to create change! Perhaps a slow transition into shopping non-sweatshop labour by buying or supporting one initiative that sources products appropriately can be a start.

The idea of creating change starts in the hands of the consumer since they have the most power in the livelihood of billion dollar corporations and the billions of people that live by such companies all across the globe. Forest Hill change starts small and through the hands of the people. 

FHCI Students “Saddened​” By​ Holocaust Announcement Assembly​

On Friday Morning, instead of the regular Holocaust Assembly on Yom HaShoah, Forest Hill Collegiate Insitute changed it up and had a 15-minute assembly on the announcements during the second period. Jewish Culture Club members discussed the tragedy that was the Holocaust and honoured the approximately six million Jews and five million others who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the operations by Nazi Germany and its collaborators.

The assembly was broadcast across all classrooms in the school and discussed the importance of hearing about the Holocaust, the horrendous nature of genocides and listened to beautiful prayers for peace. Students were encouraged to turn off their phones and direct all their attention to the assembly. The announcement also talked about the recent anti-Semitic graffiti that was found on a student poster at Northern Secondary School.

Although many teachers and students believed that the assembly was a positive change, others had very different opinions. Grade 11 Student, Bailee Cohen, says that her “entire class had a debate” and felt like the assembly was “lazy” and “disrespectful”. Cohen also noted that the school has long assemblies in the auditorium for Prom but lack assemblies for “important days”, such as Pink Day. Her English class wrote a letter to the administration with her teacher that expressed their feelings for the assembly, according to Cohen.

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Other students shared similar opinions with Cohen. Noa Wolfe, a student in Bailee’s English class, says “the announcement played at my school this morning was a cop-out for the Holocaust assembly that Forest Hill has put on for years.”

I believe the millions of people who died during this time deserve more than a 10-minute speech over the intercom.

Wolfe says that she looks forward to the assembly every year. “It is an opportunity for me to learn more about this issue in an engaging and creative way. However, this year the assembly was cancelled and a quick announcement was put in its place.” She thinks that the regular assembly should not have been cancelled, “especially because of the large Jewish community Forest Hill has.” She adds that “we as a school should have given the very few survivors left the respected that they deserve.”

Marlee Moskoff, a grade 11 student at Forest Hill Collegiate Insitute, says that “the announcements were not nearly as effective as an assembly would’ve been. Assemblies have visual and audio components which are more engaging for students.” She noted many flaws with the new assembly, such as the fact that students tend to tune out for announcements. “The message of the Holocaust is important enough to take students out of class to better communicate the message.”

This is an extremely important message to me because my family was targeted in the Holocaust and I want there to be as much awareness as possible.

After the assembly, classes were invited to come to the foyer to sign a poster for “upstanding,” which was discussed in detail during the announcement. Upstanding is defined as an “honest” and “respectable” member of the community.

 

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Students on the March of the Living (2018)

 

A grade 12 student, who requested to stay anonymous, had this to say:

 I will agree that being an upstander is important but I am unimpressed that more time was spent on discussing the addition of this word to the dictionary than was spent honouring and remembering the Holocaust.

Eight students, initially driven by grade 12 student Jalen Manett, wrote a formal email to the administration about the importance of having a “real” assembly. They write:

“…Yom HaShoah is a day that hits close to home for many students at our school, a school with an above average Jewish student population, as for many it is a day to remember personal connections to the Holocaust through family members who perished or were affected by this tragic event. Many of us were even lucky enough to have had the unforgettable opportunity to march through the death camps in Poland and hear first-hand recollections of the heart-breaking stories of those who survived this tragedy. That is why myself and countless other students, both Jewish and not, were particularly upset by the decision to condense this year’s remembrance assembly into an eight-minute announcement. During which time my classmates who do not understand the significance of the Holocaust went on their phones, completed their homework, and took nothing away from this presentation.

The main reason why myself and many others were so concerned by this is this gradual shortening of our initiatives to commemorate the Holocaust just goes to enforce the naysayers and Holocaust deniers who base their claims on a lack of information and knowledge, which we as a school are enforcing by neglecting to educate students properly on this important piece of history. Especially in light of the recent actions at Northern Secondary School I know the Jewish community at FHCI saw an increased importance in this year’s Yom HaShoah initiatives. I hope you will take our concerns into consideration as we only want to celebrate our history in a positive way with the rest of the Forest Hill community.”

 


The views reflected in the article do not necessarily illustrate the opinions associated with The Golden Falcon newspaper.

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People Should Come From Away to See Come From Away

Come From Away is a musical about the hospitality of a minuscule town called Gander in Newfoundland after 9/11. This town had 38 planes make emergency landings there after the terrorist attacks over doubling the size of the population. The town declared it a state of emergency and had aid workers and citizens working 24/7 to help these stranded ‘plane people.’

The play follows many Newfoundlanders and visitor as they all try to cope with the disasters of 9/11. The show is laced with Canadian humour about Shoppers, Tim Hortons and other Canadian relics. The actors are really talented in the play. They are able to nail so many different accents, going from African to Newfoundlander to British.  The woman, who plays the pilot, Beverly has an identical voice to the pivot on the recorded album even though it is not her.

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Center on the Aisle

You may have thought that you don’t want to see this show as you don’t want to be depressed for its duration; however, you spend the majority of it laughing and feeling proud. I will admit there are a few moments in the play when the whole audience lets out a collective tear.

This is musical touches on the tragic events of the incident but it more is a celebration of kindness and charity. In current political conditions, people are taught to fear immigrants; Millions of immigrants denied entry to increasingly xenophobic nations.  However, this is the story of a whole town who opened its arms, without thinking twice about it, to a boatload of international travellers.

FDA Approves First Commercial CAR-T Cell Therapy

By Linda Cako

 

Kymriah is the first CAR-T cell therapy to be approved by the FDA. It was approved on August 30, 2017, and has been making waves since. The reason why is because up until now, doctors needed a more personalized treatment for leukaemia. Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer, making up 30% of all childhood cancers in America (American Cancer Society, 2016), so an effective treatment was in demand. Acute cancers are cancers that progress very quickly, usually within a few months. Unfortunately, this means that they are often diagnosed in the later stages. Cancers of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) are also very aggressive. They exhaust treatments quite rapidly, pushing researchers to develop more methods for targeting cancer. Now that Kymriah has been approved, these aggressive cancers can be treated with more precision for the patient.

It will be used on patients who have relapsed or refractory ALL. This type of treatment will also only be used on patients up to 25 years of age. The company did not specify why this age limit is placed.

Kymriah uses CAR-T cell therapy to target ALL. It does this by, in a way, “boosting” the immune system. It is a type of immunocellular therapy which starts by harvesting the patient’s own T cells. They are filtered from the blood, and then they are modified to target a particular antigen expressed in the patient’s cancer cells. They are modified by having a vector (usually an adenovirus) inject the genetic material into the cells. Then they are grown in-vitro and injected back into the patient. Within weeks the patient’s cancer begins to go into remission.

Using the patient’s own T cells significantly reduces the chances of them from suffering Graft vs Host disease and provides a reliable method for treatment. Previously patients would receive bone marrow transplants, but they were risky. Patients, sometimes, would have to be on a [restrict]waitlist for months, or years, to receive a bone marrow that their body would be likely to reject.

Although Kymriah sounds like a wonder drug, it has shown to cause severe to life-threatening side effects. The most common side effects are Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS) and Neurological Toxicities. CRS is when the immune system is releasing too many cytokines into the blood resulting in a more severe immune response, which triggers the release of even more cytokines. This results in very low blood pressure, high fever, difficulty in breathing, severe nausea, vomiting, joint pain, etc.

While this therapy is revolutionizing how we can personalize cancer treatments, it is far from perfect. For starters, this drug costs $475,000. Not everyone can afford to pay this kind of money for a therapy that is supposed to be used when other therapies have already been paid for and failed. Due to the age limit, this drug is not even available for people over 25 so it is pushing researchers to develop more treatments for those who do not have access.[/restrict]

Logan Paul is Making Some Noise

By Nat Jenkins

On December 31st, YouTube “star” Logan Paul uploaded a video to his channel featuring a suicide victim in Aokigahara, commonly known as the “suicide forest” because of the large number of people that take their own lives (estimates claim that over 100 suicides take place each year, although Japan no longer releases its death counts.)

Forbes Magazine ranked Logan Paul as one of the top entertainment influencers in the world; major companies pay him considerable amounts of money to post sponsored videos. With 15 million subscribers, it is no doubt that his videos have an impressionable effect on his audience, targeting mostly teenagers and children.

The extremely problematic video consisted of Paul and a small group of his friends planning to stay overnight in the woods where he hoped to “focus on the haunted aspect of the forest” and potentially film supernatural events. Paul’s attitude throughout the entirety of the video is disgusting, it is hard to tell whether or not he is being serious. In fact, upon discovering the body of a man who recently had commit suicide, his reaction was not of respect, but rather excitement:

“This is the most real vlog I’ve ever posted to this channel,”

and continued to say that “this is YouTube history because it never been done before.” While this in itself is repulsive, Paul continued to film the body of the victim and failed to hold back a laugh. “This was all going to be a joke; why did it become so real?” Aokigahara was and never will be a joke, Aokigahara is not a tourist attraction; it is a mass grave. In fact, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and at Aokigahara, Japanese officials have signs displayed around the forest asking victims who may be suffering from mental illness to seek help.

The following day Paul had received overwhelming backlash, as he should. Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul, Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner, and American Actor Dylan O’Brien are some of many who had criticized him for his actions.

In an attempt at good faith, Paul uploaded a one-minute-long “apology video” to his channel (notably, which did not contain any resources for anybody suffering from mental illness, which he claims to support.)

He also uploaded an apology to Twitter:

“This is a first for me. I’ve never faced criticism like this before, because I’ve never made a mistake like this before. I’m surrounded by good people and believe I make good decisions, but I’m still a human being. I can be wrong. I didn’t do it for views. I get views. I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity. That’s never the intention. I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention and while I thought ‘if this video saves just ONE life, it’ll be worth it,’ I was misguided by shock and awe, as portrayed in the video. I still am.”

Paul’s apology is not sincere. He is only defending his actions. If he truly wanted to “raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention,” then he should have included resources and tools that can help people who are suffering from mental illness. Not only that, but the video is monetized, meaning that if you allow the presence of advertisements before your videos, YouTube will charge advertisers for these and share the fees with you, allowing you to make some money from people viewing your videos.

After it was revealed that the video was monetized, Twitter went on to boycott Paul’s YouTube video to ensure that the vlogger would make no further profit. The fact that Paul’s video is monetized clearly raises the questions as to whether or not he is truly sorry for his actions, and if his initial intent was to raise suicide awareness and prevention.

Some people are frustrated with YouTube’s lack of intervention since Paul himself removed the video. Recently, however, YouTube has finally decided to reprimand Paul for his actions.

YouTube posted a statement on their Twitter account apologizing to its users and promised that “changes are on the way,” implying that “further consequences” would be at hand for Paul.

In addition to this statement, a YouTube spokesperson stated in a press release that the company had removed Paul from its Google Preferred advertising tier, cancelled the upcoming fourth season of the YouTube Red series Foursome, and temporarily stopped the production of Paul’s films in its “Originals” category, including the upcoming sequel to YouTube Red’s first feature-length thriller, a dystopian sci-fi called The Thinning.

Despite this, his self-created business empire still exists. He will continue to make an estimated eight-figure profit each year – according to a Forbes estimate – since he earns the remainder of his income without YouTube involvement, mostly through brand deals and his popular merchandise.

That means that Paul’s financial success is not entirely up to YouTube, but mostly to his fans and sponsors. If his fans stopped going to his meet and greet and buying his merchandise entirely, his earnings could drop 50% at least. This is unlikely, however, as PewDiePie (another YouTuber who had a recent controversy) managed to earn $12 million last year.

It is sickening that Logan Paul will virtually face no significant consequences for his actions. Suicide is not – and never will be –  a joke.


 

Editors Note: Contributing article by Natalie Jenkins. Natalie’s conclusions expressed in this editorial do not represent the predilections’ of our writers, contributors and editors. If you would like to comment on our articles or columns, refer to our contact section above.

 

Farewell 2017

By Linda Cako

2017 was supposed to be the year we were going to see change. And change we saw. Not all was good, like President Trump’s Muslim Ban, North Korea starting to flex its emerging nuclear prowess, and the UN warning us that we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since WWII with up to 20 million people being at risk of starvation in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria. There were three powerful hurricanes to hit consecutively, and France ended its State of Emergency after two years of attacks and will start having a more intense police presence throughout the country instead.

Clearly, it was not the best year for global issues.

Some changes and events, however, were good and celebrated throughout the world, such as Australia passing it’s Same-Sex Marriage Bill. The first gene therapy treatment for cancer, Kymriah, was FDA approved in August and has already begun to be used on patients with leukaemia and is being considered a miracle cure, and Google’s DeepMind AI taught itself to walk.

It was a time of great change in Forest Hill as well. We changed school principles, had our very first dance, and said goodbye to great teachers and hello to new and old faces.

While it seems that every year we want to label as The Worst Year Ever, 2017 was hardly the worst year. Scientific discoveries gave us hope for the future and made us realize how far we have come as a species, and emerging politics made us understand how far we have yet to go to achieve our goals of becoming a more fair and just society.

Going into 2018, it’s time to reflect how we want to proceed. What pressing issues must we address? What issues have inspired us to make a change? What do we have left to work on? Even as a high schooler, we can all make an impact. All it takes is to find your passion and advocate for change. It does not have to be enormous. Small steps eventually lead to great distances being crossed so it’s never too late to start.

Ms. Fuentes’ said in her first speech when she came to Forest Hill that she wants us all to take advantage of our unique positions to make a difference in the school. How do we want to leave Forest Hill? Better than when we entered it, for sure. Whatever the definition of better is to you, take 2017’s lessons and make something good come out of change.


Linda is a grade 12 student at FHCI and is a Social Issues Editor for The Golden Falcon newspaper.

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President Trump’s Transgender Military Ban doesn’t stop the Pentagon for paying for a Transgender Soldier’s Surgery

By Linda Cako

On December 11, 2017, the Pentagon ruled that it will be accepting transgender recruits against President Trump’s ban to exclude them from joining the military. The ruling came as a decision from the Pentagon to pay for a transgender surgery after two of them were already performed by former U.S Navy Flight Surgeon, Dr. Christine McGinn for free.
President Trump explained in a tweet, stating that  “Our military must be focused on decisiveness and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,”to justify his ban. However, other sources have shown that incorporating transgender healthcare into the military will only add an additional $2.4 – $8.4 million annually (RAND Corporation, 2016). For the U.S military budget, this is only a fraction of a percent increase.
“Our military must be focused on decisiveness and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,”
The Pentagon issued a statement saying that they felt it was important to pay for the surgery as it was medically necessary for the solider to receive it. While some went to argue their opinion about the necessity of this surgery, Dr. Christine McGinn argued that these types of procedures should be looked at as a necessity because they are not cosmetic procedures. They assist in the overall well-being of the solider. Trans soldiers should be given this right since like all soldiers, they are fighting to protect their county and should be given the right to health care.
Good mental health and wellbeing are important objectives for the military towards its soldiers, as it makes for a more efficient and effective army. The military provides a plethora of support for its soldiers so it should make sense that it would also help them through their decisions to transition and receive the procedure. The American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association both agree that transitioning is beneficial for trans individuals as it helps to greatly reduce their gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is “a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify,” (American Psychiatric Association, 2016). It is important for the military to address this as untreated gender dysphoria can lead to depression, anxiety, and sometimes, suicide.
This is all coming around the same time when Bill C-16 is stirring great debate throughout Canada. Whatever the stance is, the importance of these events is that they are helping to push the boundaries on gender norms and to be more open as a society to accept the overall LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ community members face discrimination on a daily basis and are used to living with targets on their backs. In the 21st century, this behaviour is beyond embarrassing and shows how far society has yet to progress to become more accepting of others. Hopefully, through these events, people will be more open-minded and accommodating for a more diverse group of individuals within communities. As this year has proven to everyone, homophobia is still a very real issue and is one that is not always condemned by leaders of countries. Often it is the leaders who keep their backs towards the LGBTQ community in the first place. Therefore it is essential that change happens through the population first and seeps its way into politics after.

Linda is a grade 12 student at FHCI and is a Social Issues Editor for The Golden Falcon newspaper.
Image Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/trump-announces-transgender-military-service-ban-twitter-article-1.3357685

Save the Little Blue Planet

By Linda Cako

Climate Change has never been good news. Science has always provided the evidence for the global impact and consequences stating that we would experience more extreme weather, see an unprecedented rate of extinction, and have more toxic levels of smog. Within the past few months alone we had seen some of the damaging cases of forest fires in Canada, we had three destructive hurricanes hit consecutively, and smog levels have reached their highest levels yet in some parts of the world. Not to mention that land ice has decreased by 286 gigatonnes just this year alone (Climate NASA, 2017).

While we live comfortable lives in Toronto, even here we can see the dangerous effects of climate change in subtle ways. For example, up until a few weeks ago, we were still hitting temperature in the double digits. Even now in December we still haven’t experienced any proper flurries or frost.

While most of this is not new, and these facts are depressing to hear, they are important to acknowledge. This year we have had a very frightening experience with politicians and their beliefs but it is important to see the signs and not simply dismiss them. In times of ignorance, facts are the only foundation on which we must base our actions upon. Otherwise, forget about saving the planet and adopt the realization that this will be our reality from now.

Governor Jerry Brown stated that these forest fires would become “the new normal” due to increasing heat and dryness in California.

It is important to always remember that little steps count. Small actions such as recycling, using renewable sources of energy when possible, using more energy efficient appliances, and reducing car emissions by keeping cars in good condition can all help. Making dietary changes can help too, such as cutting back on meat and dairy products. All are good ways to doing our part. The only thing missing is awareness.

While it’s so easy to read these articles and forget about climate change right after, it’s important that we do not do this. Climate change is very scary and is threatening millions of lives right now. Not to mention all our lives are being threatened in the long term.

So don’t just read passively and forget. At times like these, the action is essential to pull ourselves up and make the necessary amends to slow down climate change like our lives depend on it because they do.

As Margaret Mead said, “We won’t have a society if we destroy the environment.”


Linda is a grade 12 student at FHCI and is a Social Issues Editor for The Golden Falcon newspaper.

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The Mystery In Space Programs

By Ethan Blumberg

I have always asked myself why the Canadian and American governments annually spend enormous amounts of money on their respective space programs and different international space initiatives. The scale of the spending has led to a constant debate in both Canada and the United States for many years. While I do understand the global importance of space exploration, I believe that the two nations that are at the forefront of the field are allocating funds at a senseless rate. It seems to me that the negligent spending of both Canada and the United States is taking away funds from serious issues the two Countries face back on earth.

Growing up in Canada I have gained a good grasp of the adversity our continent faces and at the same time, I realize the magnitude of resources needed to combat issues such as unemployment, education and poverty. The transparency of how much is being spent by Both NASA and the Canadian Space Agency allows for me as an average citizen to see the immense capital needed to fuel the two organizations that are so synonymous with space exploration. The financial numbers that are constantly being exhibited by the two groups are extremely large, but rarely indicate or just what exactly will come out of the funding.  An example of this neglectful spending is that the Canadian government set aside $379 million in the 2016 federal budget just to preserve our countries partnership with the International Space Station.  Canada went ahead with the investment knowing there may not be a great return on the massive deal that was reached. Professionals, alongside elected officials, decided that this was the best use of all that money, while around 4 million Canadians still live with food insecurity. This statistic includes the over 1 million children in Canada who live in a household that struggles to put food on the table. Knowing this how am I supposed to be able to come to terms with the fact that Canada is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to enhance space exploration, at the same time that many of my fellow Canadians are facing detrimental obstacles in their day to day life.

There are similar issues with the much larger scale and more dynamic National Aeronautics and Space Administration South of the border. NASA is a storied part of the American government, with a long history of success. However, that is not so much the case anymore. Not being able to achieve the same level of technological breakthroughs has led me to believe that the inefficiency of the United States space exploration program should result in even more cuts than have previously occurred to this date. NASA’s yearly budget is still close to 20 billion dollars. The portion of the federal budget that NASA receives is about an astonishing 40% of what the U.S. federal government spends on education each year.  The public education system is often criticized for reasons such as overcrowding within American public schools. These numbers are just another illustration of the unconscionable mismanagement of federal funds that are going towards the countries space program rather than to assisting those in need.

Finally, I think it is important to state that I don’t want to discredit any of the programs I spoke upon, because I am well aware of the importance of NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and space exploration as a whole. I just believe that both Canada and the United States should take a step back and re-evaluate how they are funding their own space programs. In order to ensure the government doesn’t make negligent spending decisions that could instead be going towards more egalitarian causes.


Ethan is a grade 11 student at FHCI and is a Social Issues Editor for The Golden Falcon newspaper.

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyEzsAy4qeU

What Was Wrong With the TDSBs Attempt to Close Specialized Programs

By Josh Blatt

The TDSB previously announced in their Equity Task Force’s report that they would be planning for “optional attendance and specialized schools [to] be phased out.” This would mean the closing of programs such as advanced placement, gifted, cyberarts, MaCS, TOPS as well as many others. For obvious reasons, there was a large community uproar, as the school board threatened to close many of the programs that people are currently enrolled in or are passionate about. As a result, the taskforce amended their report and removed this clause. However, to many including myself, it is not clear what would have led them to believe that this would be beneficial. Are there reasons that specialized programs should be closed despite the Equity Task Force’s decision discard this idea? Or, was this an example of equity being stretched too far?

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Toronto District School Board (TDSB)

 

Equity can be defined as the equality of outcome, rather than the equality of opportunity. For instance, giving every student the same amount of time to complete a test is an example of equality. In contrast, giving specific students who have been professionally determined to require extra time on tests is an example of equity. The objective of both equality and equity is to create fairness, but they evidently each do so in a slightly different manner.

Nevertheless, it seems as though the taskforce felt they could achieve equity by closing many of the specialized programs and redistributing the funds that were previously allocated for them amongst many of the less fortunate schools to improve them. Given that the objectives of extra time on tests and closing specialized programs are the same, why is the latter so much more controversial?

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TDSB Education Office – Toronto, ON

 

The main distinction that must be made is that equity (generally speaking) is fairer than equality if it does not negatively affect the general population. For example, giving students who require it extra time on tests does not negatively impact the rest of the class. However, the situation becomes far more complex as soon as you take resources away from one group to give it another. In the case of the Equity Task Force’s initial recommendation of closing specialized programs, the students aspiring to attend and attending these programs would undoubtedly be negatively impacted. The question that should be asked to determine if this should be done is: would the benefits of the additional funding at worse off schools outweigh the benefits these specialized programs offer to the students? If this were to be the case, then the equity task force should have explained these to the public. But since this was not done and a blanket statement saying that specialized programs would be phased out, it is no surprise that the community responded as they did.


Josh Blatt is the Head Social Issues Editor for The Golden Falcon newspaper. Write a letter to the editor via email at FHCIGoldenFalcon@gmail.com.

Let’s Talk About Those Sexual Harassment Allegations

The Golden Falcon responds to the Sexual Harassment Allegations in Hollywood


By Sapna Humar and Abi Parameswaran

 

So many allegations, such little time—how can this be justified? It’s been less than two months since the Harvey Weinstein scandal began to unfold, and yet, there have been numerous accusations toward other men in power positions since then. It seems that this case was the catalyst for many victims to come forward and bring these people to justice. It seems incomprehensible and malicious, to see men, and even women, in power abuse their authority in such a way to harm those who are simply trying to make a living in this complicated society.

It all started on October 5, when the New York Times published an article where decades of allegations against Harvey Weinstein were brought forth by well-known actresses such as Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd. Later on, after the news blew up, Weinstein was fired by the board of his company. Numerous celebrities, such as Brie Larson and George Clooney, openly responded to the Weinstein allegations, which spurred the Twitter hashtag “#MeToo,” which flooded social media with stories of harassment and assault all across the world. This hashtag brought to life the story of many other women and men who continuously struggle to face their sexual harassment issues within their own lives

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Kevin Spacey

Over the next two months, it seemed like every news story was about men or women who used to be respected, but now had been accused of sexual assault or harassment. The next big-time actor to be accused was Kevin Spacey, just over a month ago. Even more recently, on November 29th, American television journalist Matt Lauer was accused of “inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace” and his employment was promptly terminated by NBC News. Another case, brought forward on December 4th,  had Melanie Martinez, famous singer-songwriter, accused of rape by her former friend. This proves how it is not only men who commit these disgusting acts, but women as well, and both should be given equal punishment for their crimes. For these allegations to come out so recently shows that this issue is far from over and there are, without doubt, many more men and women out there who have so far gotten away with it. Hopefully, they will receive retribution as more and more victims stand up for themselves and others like them.

Of course, it is impossible to discuss sexual harassment without mentioning Donald Trump, President of the United States, and a very controversial figure in the media. He has over twenty different allegations against him from a variety of women, including his ex-wife, yet was still elected into office, giving us a hint as to where American priorities truly lie.

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Donald Trump, President of the United States

These atrocities can never truly be justified. Simple apologies and ignorance should not be the approach of the abuser—there must be real change seen in society. The fact that people are able to come forward and talk about these serious events already show the progression that is being made on the issue of sexual abuse and assault. However, it should not end there. People should continue to speak up about the injustices they face, and steps should be taken to ensure that this ruthless behaviour is halted. The countless allegations within the past weeks are unjustifiable, and the fact that so many stories have been brought to light in such little time shows the seriosity and longevity of this issue. It is time for this to stop. It is time to take a stand, one story at a time.

Perhaps it was Weinstein’s case that gave victims the courage to come forward, or maybe it was our changing society, that is slowly moving towards the de-stigmatization of sexual assault. Whatever it was, whether they be famous celebrities or middle-class workers, victims of sexual harassment and assault are no longer afraid to openly accuse the wrongdoer. They are no longer afraid to bring the perpetrators to justice, even though they may be men or women in powerful positions. The benefits of social media can clearly be seen with these cases as the bandwidth of victims from all across the world are coming together to voice their hidden stories. The past two months have been revolutionary for this topic and for these people, and if we continue on our current path as a society, if we continue to support and accept victims of sexual assault, our future will better and brighter than ever. Change is happening and these two months are proof of it. The difference that can be seen through word of mouth and awareness is truly profound, and will only lead to good things ahead.

 


Abi and Sapna are grade 11 students at FHCI and are both part of the editorial team of The Golden Falcon newspaper.

Take a Knee Campaign

Red Alert Politics

By Vanessa Ifepe

Twenty four NFL players at Wembley Stadium in London, took a knee during the
American National Anthem in protest of Donald Trump. This was after Trump made a
comment about players who take a knee during the anthem needing to be fired. Time
and time again, Trump has proven to get under people’s skin and caused protests
across the country. The constant intertwining of sports and politics has been frown
upon, but that doesn’t stop the players apparently. First it was Kaepernick sitting down
during the anthem and now this. If you ask me, it’s a wonderful movement.
I think it’s a good thing for various sections of the world to get involved. It helps spread
awareness and lets the people know that they aren’t ignoring this. It shows them that
they are listening as well and not taking everything with a grain of salt. I am not one to
get in the middle of politics, but this is something I am strongly for. It irritates me when
celebrities do not use their authority to be for or against things that can heavily influence
the public in a good way. What is the point of having a voice if you are too afraid to use
it? This is a big flaw in our world today. These NFL players are setting an example of
what celebrities should be doing and should have been doing already. Better late than
never.

20 ccs of Gun Control, Stat!

The Federalist
By Tatiana Bogdanov

26 people were killed on November 5th. Another 20 were injured. Texas experienced its worst mass shooting in modern history, in a church. Sutherland Springs, the community in which it took place, is shaken.  

The pastor’s 14-year-old daughter is among the dead.

Devin Patrick Kelley is the perpetrator of this crime. At around 11:20 am, he was seen at a gas station across from the church. Shortly after, he crossed the road, and opened fire as he entered. The shooter soon fled the church, as another resident opened fire on him. He was later found dead in his car due to a gunshot wound.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this. Hell, it’s far from the first time we’ve seen something like this. Take a look at what happened in Las Vegas, where 58 people died and 546 were injured, the single deadliest mass shooting in American history. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where 20 children died, remains burned into many people’s minds.

Under the most narrow definition of mass shooting used by the Congressional Research Service, America has seen 10 from January 1st to November 5th of this year, one a month. Under the broader definition that the Gun Violence Archive uses, America has seen 307 mass shootings at the same time, raising the average to seven a week.

So what’s wrong? Why is this happening, in one of the most developed countries in the world? Why are we seeing so many innocent people reduced to statistics?

I’d wager to say that gun control may be the issue here.

Apparently, not even a shooting where 58 people were killed can convince American lawmakers that something has to be done. Not even a shooting where kids lost their lives could convince American lawmakers that something has to change. Not even a shooting in a church, a sacred place for the 67.3% of Americans that practice Christianity/Catholicism, is enough for a, “huh, maybe laws do have to change”.

Of course, not every American is turning a blind eye to this. In fact, most aren’t. According to the Pew Research Centre, 52% of Americans believe that gun control laws should be more strict. There is broad support for preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns, requiring background checks at gun shows, and creating a government database to track all gun sales. But, the Centre also finds that these people are less likely to contact government officials about gun law reform, than people that are in favour of less gun control.

So, in the end, nothing gets done.

After a mass shooting in America, the news is overtaken by the event. The conversation, however, has little focus on gun control laws. We receive coverage of what happened, some talk about gun control reform from liberal news sources, and lots of talk about how it’s the fault of mental illness from conservative news sources and the NRA, until something else happens, and the country just… moves on. Shrugs it’s shoulders, and looks away. The debate for stricter gun laws is never long enough to actually push for any change.

It’s almost as if people have become numb to the carnage because we see it so often.

And of course, conservative news sources aren’t necessarily wrong; America does need a better way of “dealing” with people with mental illnesses. They need to implement more support, more understanding; destigmatize it so people feel comfortable seeking out this support. Make psychiatric services more accessible for legitimately struggling people.

But I personally don’t think this is the root of the problem. The way America deals with mental illness also has to be discussed, but the number one way of preventing so many mass shootings?

Gun control laws.

We’ve seen it around the world. It’s not a particularly radical idea.

In 1996, Australia experienced its history’s worst mass shooting, and promptly tightened up gun control (which included buying and destroying over 600,000 firearms from its population), and it hasn’t had a mass shooting since. After a school shooting in the UK, the Firearms Act 1997 was passed and all gun crimes fell dramatically. Japan has banned all swords and firearms, with a 1958 law stating, “no one shall possess a firearm, or firearms, or a sword, or swords,” and in 2014, only had six reported gun deaths.

Even Canada, perhaps the most similar country to the US, deals with gun laws better. And, we can still be considered as “having a gun control problem.” We have the fourth highest rate of gun homicides when compared to the countries in the European Union. 331 shootings have taken place in Toronto this year alone. We just have to look at the shooting that occurred at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City on January 29th, to know that Canada has work to do too.

Comparing Canada to the US though? It makes Canada seem pretty damn strict. Canada implements background checks for anyone purchasing a firearm, in any situation, focusing on mental illness and addiction. The US only requires one when purchasing from a licensed dealers. Canadian residents wishing to purchase a firearm are required to take a safety course, which includes a written and practical exam, and have to retake it every five years. In the US, there is often no such requirement.

As Canadian citizens, as the neighbours of the good ol’ USA, we have to be concerned about this problem. What starts in the US can spread all around the world.

We’ve seen that with Donald Trump and his ideologies, with 92 lawmakers part of a far-right party being elected in Germany, with the January mosque shooting in Canada being perpetuated by a man who expressed support for Trump.

So for now, we should work on minimizing gun violence in Canada and the countries still dealing with this problem, and hope that the US follows suit. No country should have citizens dying for no reason at all.

Period.

“How many people will have to die before we will give up these dangerous toys?”

-Stephen King, Guns


Do you agree or disagree? Share your opinion here.

This Is Me In Grade Nine

By Sophie Gold

Change can be scary.  And high school definitely means change.  The prospect of entering high school was never far from my thoughts over the summer.  I felt anxious and excited, apprehensive and eager all at the same time.  The Labour Day weekend was less a vacation than an extended waiting game before the change became real. But hey, what did I know about high school?  Only that passed on to me by friends and family who had survived (and even thrived in some cases), teen movies and the Barenaked Ladies’ This Is Me In Grade Nine.  In hindsight, I was unreasonably nervous, irrationally fearful yet always hopeful.  I bet some of you felt similarly.  Seven weeks in, I am relieved, involved and settling in.  Most of the things I had been so worried about never happened (or haven’t yet); those that did aren’t scary after all. Needless to say, there were still some big changes.

The biggest difference is the schedule. Previously, my schedule consisted of all of my courses year-round, with each period lasting about forty-five minutes.  Suddenly, I have only four courses, every day, each one for seventy-five minutes.  Sometimes I feel that I’m stuck in a Groundhog Day loop.  At this point, I am accustomed to my schedule, and appreciate that I have an easier timetable to memorize and fewer books and binders to carry to and from school.

Another challenge has been learning to navigate a new and larger building packed with many more people.  My previous schools were tiny in comparison.  Entering FHCI on the first day of school, I was lost in a totally new geography. For the first few weeks of school, I struggled to find my locker and classes.  I am thankful for the school map conveniently included in the school agenda but that we need a map in the first place … ?  I still get lost from time to time and have yet to find the girls’ washroom on the second floor.  That said, it’s all part of the adventure and I get to find someplace new weekly if not daily.

Then there’s the traffic in the hallways.  It’s one thing being lost; it’s another being lost in a sea of humanity moving in every direction, some of whom are presumably also lost.  Some days getting to class is very similar to rush hour traffic without any rules of the road.  No amount of warning or training could have prepared me for this chaos and confusion.  The number of times I have apologized for bumping into people (and lockers) would put any Canadian to shame.  On the upside, 12th graders seem to float effortlessly through the madness like an expert skier shredding moguls.  Maybe in time I too will master the double black diamonds of our hallways.

One thing I was very excited about was, and still is, the wide variety of extracurricular clubs and activities that FHCI offers.  We seem to have a club, team or committee for everyone and about everything.  Many people helpfully advised me that “getting involved” would be key to finding my place and my people in such a large school.  As it happened, I probably took too much advice too literally.  When the club fair rolled around, I eagerly signed up for too many clubs and my inbox has never quite been the same.  It’s been a bit overwhelming at times, but in a good way.  Learning to juggle classes and clubs keeps me busier, busier than I was in middle school.  

Yeah, change happened and continues to happen.  And seven weeks in, it’s not scary and never should have been.  But if you are like me, when worried or unsure, you assign an irrationally high probability to those things you don’t want to happen and downplay the likelihood that everything will work out in time.  I’ll find that second floor girls’ washroom in good time, and if I get lost along the way I’ll be excited to see what else the school has to offer.  

What’s Really Scary this Halloween: The Way We Ignore Remote Communities

By Tatiana Bogdanov

April 25th, 2017, is a grey day in Moosonee, Ontario, as the Polar Bear Express rolls into Moosonee station. Snow piles up beside the dirt roads, maintained by the chilly -5ºC weather, a stark contrast from Toronto’s warm, wet spring. Thirty tired grade eights file out of the train and are immediately enveloped by the love that seems to rule the kids from Bishop Belleau Catholic School.

They were all about to be shocked by the difference between living in a remote community in Ontario, and in a big, sparkly city.

There are few words to describe the surrealism of seeing the conditions in a remote community. It is almost like entering a different country, though you are only a mere fourteen hours (nine by bus, and five by train) away from Toronto.  Though the trip was life-changing in the way it has made me see the world and my life, it had also ignited a fury.

A remote community is a place that is “cut off” from most other populated areas. Moosonee is an example; the only way to get there is either by train or plane. Or, if one is coming down from even further north, the ice road (and that is only in the winter). The nearest city is Timmins, and even then, the distance between the two is 315 km.

In fact, Moosonee is so far away from everything that it does not even get proper cell service. It has “Rogers extended coverage,” which is way slower than any cell signals we get here.

Nonetheless, it is truly a charming town, right on the edge of James Bay. If you look across the shore there, you can see islands owned by Nunavut. In the bush (the locals’ word for the forest), plant life runs wild. You can find trees felled by beavers, wild cranberry, and even tamarack trees. The locals are some of the nicest people you will ever meet and welcomed us to their home with wide-open arms. Their winters are bitterly cold, in a way that is only found in Canada.

But, as with all remote communities, it faces a barrage of problems. From unemployment to alcoholism, to the struggle to keep their culture alive; life is not easy for the 3,500 residents of Moosonee, nor for residents of any remote community.

The children of Attawapiskat (a community even further north from Moosonee) went to school in portables for fourteen years because the main building was condemned. Many who live in remote communities struggle to receive quality healthcare. Prices are often exorbitant for basic things such as diapers, or apples. Education is generally worse. There is more poverty.

In 2011, 52% of deaths in the Island Lake community of Manitoba went uncategorized, because they simply did not have the amenities to document them.

In 2011, 52% of deaths in the Island Lake community of Manitoba went uncategorized, because they simply did not have the amenities to document them. In 2012, statistics showed that Island Lake people had more premature deaths, digestive disorders, and teenage pregnancies than other Manitobans.

Another study showed that Canadians in remote communities often have higher death rates, infant mortality rates, and lower life expectancies than those that live in Canada’s urban communities.

Of course, there is a pattern, a cycle of the struggles of remote communities. The lack of people creates a lack of jobs, which creates a lack of money, which then creates the lack of resources to change the situation. The Canadian government is not doing much to help. There are few popular charities dedicated to aiding these communities.

It seems like there is no winning. The government is not helping, and most Canadians are not either.

That raises the question; why are we not doing anything? Why are we not hearing about this on the news? These are Canadians, living in Canada. If we faced these problems in Toronto, there would protest in the streets. People would be rightfully outraged; it would likely be broadcast nationally.

Yet, we live on in our practical urban utopia, while people live unnecessarily hard lives in one of the most developed countries in the world.

And that is pretty damn scary to me.

So this Halloween, consider the way people live in remote communities and think about supporting a charity like the Frontiers Foundation or True North Aid, to help bring some relief.