PDF: February 2021

The Hyphen is back with our first print issue since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This issue includes:

  • News and reader voices about the possibility of keeping a block schedule next year
  • An exploration of the term “politically correct” and its role in today’s cancel culture
  • A photo gallery featuring students who have a unique sense of style 
  • Interviews with new boys and girls basketball head coaches
  • A look inside how COVID-19 affected this year’s wrestling season
  • And more

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Photo Gallery: Winter Storms Coat Jeffersonville in Ice and Snow

Photos by Amber Walker, Marni Scholl and Max Fisher

Jeff High to Move Homecoming to Spring due to COVID-19 Restrictions

On Thursday, Jan. 14, Jeffersonville High School announced the decision to postpone Homecoming until Spring. The decision was made based on the results of a survey to seniors on when they prefer to have Homecoming. Natalie Bronson, a Jeff High science teacher who was in charge of the survey, said she and Principal Pam Hall were surprised by the survey results being in favor of moving Homecoming. 

They presented the option of moving Homecoming to the spring based on restrictions from COVID-19. Currently, Clark County is in the “red zone” – a label the Indiana Department of Health gives to counties most affected by COVID-19, because of the circumstances, Homecoming would have been very different than during football season. “The difference is we were outside. We didn’t have to worry about all that stuff,” says Bronson. 

Because of the circumstances, seniors opted to have Homecoming during baseball season, in hopes COVID restrictions will be eased by then. Bronson had some concern with the spring Homecoming citing that there are no sports in the Spring with a half-time.

Senior Kyle Guepe was indifferent to the choice, saying, “It’s not a big deal, when it happens doesn’t matter as long as it happens.” 

Junior Justus Bowman, who was planning to run for homecoming in the Winter, still plans to do so despite the change. She believes it was the right decision to push Homecoming to Spring saying, “hopefully our cases will go down, and it will be safer for us all to participate and enjoy ourselves.”

While most students and teachers seem indifferent or supportive of the change as long as they are able to have a homecoming, it is just another example of how COVID-19 has changed people’s lives.

Story by The Hyphen staff

Teachers and Students Pivot and Adjust to a New Way of Learning

Coronavirus forces sacrifice and leads to innovation

Teachers have always been subject to a certain societal pressure to succeed: they are accountable for educating the next generation, after all. They are having to face new challenges teaching in the global pandemic. Crucial to academic development, teachers are given little leniency amid this global crisis, especially when the safety concerns are, now more than ever, absolute. For example, teachers must enforce the mask mandate and are expected to correct misbehavior regarding it. Jeffersonville High School is a school that relied on traditional means of education, the norm was physically going to school. However, which path is the right way is no longer clear, and the traditional method no longer stands alone.

Ahnya Evinger, a grade 9 English teacher, is balancing the needs of both traditional and online students. “It is important to understand that different students have different needs, and different families have different needs,” she said. Teachers must now cater to two different student bodies in the same classroom atmosphere. “It’s like everything else at the beginning of the year: getting into the swing of things, and starting to adjust to having students simultaneously in both methods.”

Ahnya Evinger, grade 9 English teacher

Teachers must familiarize themselves with new online systems and can no longer rely on physical work alone. Traditional schooling presents challenges, and they are expected to adhere to safety regulations as well as enforce them. Since going back, they must follow a new protocol, which includes wearing a mask, frequently washing hands, and cleaning desks between classes. With this new year, despite its massive shifts, they are prepared.

“I appreciate that Greater Clark County Schools is on the cutting edge as far as technology goes,” said Evinger. “When we had to shut down in March, we were prepared for E-Learning. We had already practiced that.” They had insight into what the future may look like despite COVID developments, which gave them leverage when it came to schooling online.

Students are also learning how to navigate this new online system and adjust to other changes. For example, block scheduling was implemented this year. Evinger says the block schedule allows for more time to interact with students. “It also gives me that time to really get to know my students right off the bat,” Evinger said. “I’m spending more than an hour with them everytime I’m with them.” A large influx of collaborative effort has also poured into the new year as well. Teachers are relying on one another a lot more and depending on their students to continue doing their part whether they are in the classroom or not.

Learning to prioritize certain matters and procedures has been instrumental in establishing these new grounds. There are times where safety takes precedence, even if that means taking the last few minutes of class to sanitize the room. 

Essentially, the current circumstances have required trade-offs and sacrifices, while also revealing opportunities to make learning more effective for everyone. “There are teachers all over the building who are pivoting what they’re doing. They’ve realized that what they’ve worked on and done in the past might not work this year, and so they’ve had to pivot in a new direction […] and finding new ways to reach their audience,” Evinger stated. This new year has proved the resilience among staff and students, and we can only hope it will continue to expand.

Written by Amber Walker

COVID-19 Casts a Shadow Over Winter and Spring Sports Prep

Jeffersonville High School athletes are trying to keep in shape and healthy even as there are some concerns about how things will unfold this year with COVID-19.

Basketball, a winter sport, presents many challenges specific to the sport such as physical contact, touching the same ball, and being played inside. Sophomore boys basketball player Conner Lyons has some concerns but is ready to start the new season. He says his most pressing concern is “guarding people and close contact,” but Lyons’ concerns are overpowered by his drive to get back out on the court. “It’s always been my dream and that’s what I want to do when I get older,” he says. As of right now, the first game for Jeffersonville boys basketball is scheduled for December 5.

Members of the Jeff High baseball team, who have already lost their spring season this year, are trying to stay positive but realistic despite losing some senior talent. Baseball also has the benefit of being a more spaced out game that is played outdoors. Sophomore baseball player Sam Whallen isn’t getting his hopes up, saying, “we might not end up playing this season because of COVID.” The Jeff High baseball team’s first game is scheduled for April 2. 

Members of the Jeff High softball team are also trying to prepare for a spring season in 2021. Senior Danielle Monroe says the team is beginning winter workouts, which are different this year because of social distancing. Still, she feels like the effort will pay off in the spring. “I’m hopeful. I think we’ll have a season,” Monroe says. “I really hope so because it’s my senior year.”

The Indiana High School Athletics Association (IHSAA) has said the organization is committed to letting students play, saying they believe it is “essential to the physical and mental well-being of student-athletes to return to organized physical activity and build team relationships with their peers and coaches.”

Although every sport has its own precautions for the safety of players, coaches and fans, they have one thing in common: in the age of COVID, athletes are optimistic but unsure about the future.

Story by Caleb Vincent

GCCS Board Approves Revised Spring Semester Calendar

During last night’s meeting of the Greater Clark County School Corporation Board of School Trustees, school board members approved a revised calendar for the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year. The approved calendar is similar to what had been previously approved by the board — with the same dates for semester start, semester end, graduation, and spring break — but with the addition of seven additional e-learning days. 

The e-learning days will be asynchronous and will take place every other Friday. According to a message sent to parents and staff, these built-in days will “allow GCCS staff the ability to increase parent communication, hold in-person assessment opportunities for online students, and receive ongoing professional development.” 

In presenting the calendar to the board, Superintendent Mark Laughner called the plan a “very good compromise” and noted that the district is “trying to balance the needs of all stakeholders, which in this situation is very difficult.” He also noted that the Clark county health department or the state could require the district to switch to e-learning at any time.

The approved calendar preserves a two-week spring break starting March 22. The calendar does not call for e-learning over spring break. 

The majority of the discussion prior to voting was not about the dates on the calendar, but rather about how much notice and involvement parents should have in the calendar approval process. Board members commented that they had received two kinds of input leading up to the meeting: some parents and businesses asked for a quick decision on the calendar so they could make plans, while others pushed for more time to review the proposal before a vote. Laughner noted that with the exception of COVID-19 and moving to a balanced schedule, “we typically do not survey parents.” In the end, the board was split on their vote but did approve the calendar as submitted.

As for Jeff High students, they see good and bad sides of the plan. Junior Abby Napper said, “I wish they would’ve kept the 2 weeks on, and 1 week off, but I like it the way it is now.” Junior Benjamin Broady says the smaller number of e-learning days would be okay “if they weren’t so scattered in nature.” However, Broady noted, “I guess it makes more room for more instructional time.”

Written by The Hyphen News staff

Opinion: We Are Reaching a Breaking Point

Opinion by The Hyphen Staff

Editor’s note: This piece was written collaboratively by the 14 members on The Hyphen staff. Since this group makes up 0.0067 percent of the student population at Jeff High, we aren’t exactly a representative sample. That being said, our job is to serve as the voice of the students — and we’ve done our best to represent every single one of you.

The alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. Or maybe it’s noon. Or maybe there is no alarm at all.

The Google Classroom is overflowing with dozens of to-do items. Or maybe it’s just a few. Or maybe it’s none.

The agenda for the day is to log in to four Google Meet sessions. Or maybe it’s just two. Or maybe it’s none.

By the end of the day, we will have completed eight hours of work. Or maybe it’s just a few hours. Or maybe it’s none.

If there is one thing consistent about the experience of a Jeff High student during Coronavirus, it is inconsistency. Specifically, we have noted inconsistencies in:

  • Amount of work
  • Whether the class has live Google Meets
  • Whether Google Meets are required
  • When the Google Meets take place
  • When the assignments are due
  • Whether work can be turned in late

The result is that we are constantly dealing with conflicting priorities — and we are overwhelmed, exhausted, and confused.

Yes, we realize there are bigger issues. Because of Coronavirus, some students don’t know how they will get their next meal. Some are in abusive situations at home that they can’t get away from. Some are dealing with depression and anxiety made worse by isolation.

We can’t fix everything, but we can suggest some changes the school district could consider as a way to lessen stress and increase motivation:

1 – Standardize expectations. Do teachers have Google Meets or not? Are they required or not? Are assignments due in an hour or a day? Are office hours for My School students or everyone? When do office hours happen? What’s the best way to reach out to my teacher?

2 – Respect the block. Although opinions on block scheduling are mixed, we agree that it does help us focus. Please avoid posting to-do items for classes on their “off” day or having a Google Meet during another class period.

3 – De-emphasize writing. We are used to showing what we know in class, not just writing all day. Writing takes longer than speaking or thinking, and it is challenging for a lot of people who are otherwise good communicators. If there’s a way to have us show what we know without writing (for instance, draw something and snap a picture), please do that. It is more work to do everything in writing, and it just gets repetitive after a while.

4 – Keep our other commitments in mind. During a typical school year, students have other obligations that keep them busy: jobs, sports, household responsibilities. It’s no different with Coronavirus. In fact, many students are working more hours because their workplaces see “online” as “on call all the time.” Many are also taking on more responsibility for watching siblings and helping around the house. 

5 – Consider the impact of last spring. The entire fourth quarter was a dud for students. For more than a month, students were not expected to keep the same level of academic focus as we are used to. Most students didn’t even take final exams. Due to this, many are more likely to struggle. 

6 – Be kind. A lot of students are going through a really tough time. They don’t show it. They don’t say it. Yes, sometimes we let you down. Sometimes we get overwhelmed and can’t keep up. Please show forgiveness and kindness. We’re all trying to get through this and get back to “normal” (whatever that is). 

These times are not normal. It’s important to realize that the student body is simply a reflection of the world. We’re just as overwhelmed, exhausted, and confused about our future as adults are. We are just as eager for rays of hope, for a light at the end of the tunnel, for life “after all this is over.” 

Also, we know that our teachers are overwhelmed and stressed, too. We aren’t placing all the blame there. In fact, we want to say thank you to some of the people who make this difficult time a little easier. 

  • Mr. Densford, Ms. Paul, Miller and Martinez: Thank you for caring about how we are doing, not just what we are doing.
  • Mr. Hornickel: Thank you for keeping us engaged and active.
  • Mr. McDonald, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Robinson: Thank you for being clear and consistent.
  • Mrs. Rector, Mr. Wigginton, and Mr. Dench: Thank you for always reaching out and making sure everyone’s up to speed. 
  • Principal Hall and the Assistant Principals: Thank you for everything you are doing to keep us safe.

PDF: May 5, 2020

This year, everyone at Jeff High had plans for how the rest of the year would go. Freshmen looked forward to raising baby chicks in Mr. Reilly’s class and playing on a high school sports team for the first time. Sophomores looked forward to seeing their friends and performing in the spring musical. Juniors looked forward to their ring ceremony and prom. Of course, seniors had the most to look forward to, with all of the rituals involved in saying goodbye to high school and starting the next phase of their lives. We all had plans for the days, weeks and months ahead – and suddenly, those plans all went away.

From the beginning, we planned to end the year with our annual Senior Issue, featuring columns by current and former staff members of The Hyphen. Yes, the cover is inspired by the video chats we’re all part of lately. Yes, there is some coronavirus news, as well as an in-depth report on the science of conspiracy theories. However, from start to finish, it is what we planned all along: a tribute to the Jeff High Class of 2020. Enjoy.

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Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb Announces The Closure of Indiana Schools Until May 1

Holcomb will also suspend all state testing for the school year

Updated March 19 at 3:52

At a press conference on Thursday, March 19, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced that all Indiana schools will be closed until May 1, 2020. Holcomb also announced that state testing, including ISTEP10 and ILEARN will be cancelled.  These changes come as a result of the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus.

The governor also noted the possibility of not being ready to return by May 1, and said, “If, and I stress if, by some miracle, we get students back this year, we’ll use that time in class for instruction. So I’m cancelling Indiana’s student assessments for this school year.” 

After Holcomb, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick expanded on some of his proposals. 

“School closure to May 1… this is the first step,” McCormick said, “There may be a need to come back and revisit that.” McCormick also noted that it is just state testing being cancelled and not other non-mandated testing.

 McCormick said, “Our goal is to graduate (high school) seniors.” However, she noted that decisions for certain ceremonies will be made on a local level. 

On March 19, Greater Clark County Schools announced their plans for the time off. Weeks will alternate between eLearning weeks and Closed Days. On the weeks that students are off, they may continue to work on submitting assignments from the eLearning week before, but no new work will be assigned.

According to the Indiana Department of Health, there are currently 56 reported cases of the coronavirus in Indiana as of March 19, 2020. 

Story by Greta Reel and Max Fisher

PDF: Feb. 20, 2020

February 2020 Hyphen Cover Image_Page_01

Change is hard, but sometimes it is a necessity. In recent months, we’ve seen a lot of change at Jeff High. In this issue of The Hyphen, we talk about some of the changes that have happened in our school. However, we couldn’t ignore other important news stories, like the death of Kobe Bryant and Black History Month. We also cover some of the big changes our school’s basketball teams have faced this year, from player injuries to coaching modifications.

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