Cover Story: Jeff High’s Foreign Exchange Students Weigh in on Life in the U.S.

What would you pack if you could only take one suitcase to last you a whole year? A whole year without seeing your mom or dad. A whole year without sleeping in your own bed or petting your family dog. A whole year of new sights and sounds and sensations. A whole year in an unknown country. For Jeff High’s five foreign exchange students, this is their reality.

Their names are Marlene, Louis, and Peter (who are all from Germany), as well as Giovanni (who is from Italy) and Kamilla (who is from Russia). Amongst themselves there are many differences, from the way they were raised to the traditions of their families, but one thing they all have in common is the foreign exchange program.

The foreign exchange program allows students from all over the world to experience global interaction and travel, as well as the host of said exchange students to learn from their non-native guest.

“America is the dream country,” said Kamilla on why she wanted to come to America. She wanted to learn English and thought coming to a new place would be interesting. Marlene also agreed with her on this statement saying everyone wants to speak English and she wishes to become fluent.

Giovanni said there’s even an English speaking club at his school back in Italy. The club’s goal is to help students get their PET, which is a certificate of English fluency. He also said America has lived up to his expectations.

“Everything here is bigger. There are roads for no reason, and fast food everywhere.” said Giovanni. Louis stated Jeff High is a much bigger building then his school building back in Germany.

“Our number of students is the same – give or take, around 2,000 – but our school is probably 10 times smaller than Jeff High,” said Giovanni on his school size. He said his school has no cafeteria, pools, sports fields or even lockers. “I love my locker, even if it is annoying that we have to carry around our stuff,” said Marlene, whose school is also without lockers. Marlene also said school in the United States is much easier than school overseas. Every other exchange student agreed.

For Peter, Jeff High’s daily seven periods are practically effortless to him, considering he takes 16 classes a week back home. In Germany, his homework is never assigned nor taken for a grade, rather it is simply just provided as a reference. In order for him to succeed on his exams, he has to study from wanting to rather that having to.

All the exchange students agree that homework from their home countries is harder than the homework here. Kamilla said some of her classes in Russia only meet once a week, so when they do have class most of the time is spent taking a test. All the learning is left for her to on her own.

Some of them said students in their home country stay together the entire day and go from class to class together. For Kamilla, she will to stay with the same classmates from her kindergarten class until she graduates. In Russia, high school students only study 11 years rather than 12.

All of their schools have no school sports teams either. Louis, who plays tennis, is part of a club sport rather than a school team in Germany. Club sports only practice about twice a week rather than usual 5 for school teams here in America.

Many of the exchange students commented that sports are a much bigger deal to Americans. “One of the stereotypes about America is the sports,” said Marlene.

One of the things she has enjoyed most about her time here in the United States was going to all of the football games in the fall, even if she had no idea how the game worked. She is planning on going to all of basketball games this winter. Marlene also hopes to keep in contact with the friends she’s made here at Jeff.

Kamilla, who will be leaving at the end of this semester, is sad she has to go. “I don’t know if I will ever see them again, and although it has been a short time, I am sad to go,” she said about leaving friends in the United States.

 

Written by Sophie Rousseau

Commentary: Making Family Memories at Huber’s Family Farm

Many things are changing in Southern Indiana, and the auction of Joe Huber’s Family Farm and Restaurant is one of them. It’s heartbreaking to hear, but yes, family favorite Huber’s may close down their restaurant and, saddest of all for me, the farm.

For as long as I can remember, my family has had a certain attraction to the Huber’s farm, which is located in Starlight, Indiana. Every time fall comes around, this fondness grows more and more. Everyone loves when the leaves begin to change colors, the temperature begins to drop, and the farm becomes an autumn wonderland. Huber’s is one of the sights to see around the county and a family favorite.

However, according to an article in the News and Tribune, the farm and restaurant are going to be auctioned off on November 17 of this year. Some Huber family members are trying to raise money to buy the property. However, since the future of the property is uncertain at this time, now is the time to persuade your family to go.

If you do get a chance to visit the farm before it is sold, there are a few things that are absolutely a must. One thing my family always does during October is pick pumpkins. This is a personal favorite because not only do I get to pick out my own little (or big) pumpkin, I get to experience it with my family. The pumpkin patch is adorable and a great location to take pictures.

Not only does Huber’s farm have pumpkin-picking opportunities, but they also have special “U-pick-dates” where you can pick a certain food or fruit directly from the source. For example, they have strawberries on May 28, green beans on July 1, and Golden Delicious apples on September 5. Huber’s is the perfect place to go with your family or friends and spend time with each other, even if you’re not up for spending tons of money.

But, if you are willing to put in a little extra cash there is an amazing restaurant on the property that serves a variety of comfort foods, with something sure to please even the pickiest eaters. If you want to check out the menu, there is a downloadable PDF on their website, joehubers.com.

Last but not least, the petting zoo. This little zoo on the grounds holds some of my fondest memories. It contains many animals, like goats and horses. Hubers petting zoo even has stations where you can buy food to feed the animals yourself.

Huber’s has been an important part of our community for nearly a century. Local elementary schools take field trips there, people take their family and senior pictures there, tourists come visit, and much more. Many people considered taking a trip to Huber’s a favorite fall tradition.

If you’re looking for a fun fall destination nearby, you definitely want to check out Joe Huber’s Family Farm and restaurant soon, before it is potentially too late.

 

By Kristen Jacobs

MULTIMEDIA: Jojo Spio’s Journey to JHS

— STORY BELOW VIDEO —

From South Africa, JHS junior Jojo Spio’s journey has been unique

story by Tomi Clark & Greta Reel

In a society where prejudices and discriminations still exist, it makes it tougher and tougher for immigrants to live peacefully without being labeled as different. Coming from across the world, from a different culture, and from a different society is difficult, but not impossible — and 16-year-old Jojo Spio has proved that.

A junior at Jeffersonville High School, Spio excels in his classes, and though he appears shy, he is quite the opposite. However, Spio does not have a typical backstory, as he immigrated from South Africa when he was eight years old.

Adjusting to life in America isn’t easy for most immigrants, illegal or not, and Spio can identify with those hardships.

“Getting used to living in the U.S. was a challenge at first, and it took me months to adjust to certain customs and social norms. At first I didn’t really fit in because of how I dressed or the way I talked but over time, as people got to know me, I was able to assimilate to American culture. I was able to make new friends and feel welcome,” Spio said.

Spio’s family initially wanted to move to New York City, but instead they chose to move to the friendly and small city of Jeffersonville because they had a family friend living there.

Since then, Spio has adjusted to living in the U.S. and became a U.S. citizen in eighth grade when his parents completed the citizenship test. Spio is involved in numerous clubs and organizations at Jeff High, including class officers, student council, and National Honor Society. He has an exceptional G.P.A., and friends and teachers know him as owning a charismatic and amiable personality.

“He is an outstanding young man, both as a student as well as an asset to our school.  He is very friendly and helpful to those around him,” AB Calculus teacher Shadd Clarke said. “He acts a leader in many ways, such as leading impact activities, student council, and acting as an Academy Ambassador for our corporation.”

Given his past and the extracurriculars he’s involved in, it should come as no surprise that Spio is politically involved and is passionate about politics and social issues.

“I’ve known Jojo since middle school and he’s always been extremely passionate about social and political issues, but also passionate in every other aspect possible,” said Kate Stinson, a close friend of Spio.

Spio is a fervent Democrat and was a strong advocate of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. When Donald Trump won the presidency and took office, hostility toward immigrants increased considerably. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children, is in peril of being cancelled by Trump. Spio sympathizes with those immigrants, given his own background.

“Coming from a foreign country has widened my perspective in terms of immigration type policies,” Spio said. “Being an immigrant, I can sympathize with those wanting to become American citizens or those wanting to live in this country and live the American dream…DACA recipients are our teachers, students, leaders, doctors. They have contributed to this country as much as anyone else,” he said.

Spio has plenty of light at the end of the tunnel and has enough dreams and aspirations to fill the entire galaxy. His motivation for a future and grades will carry him a long way, which proves that any immigrant can be successful in America and offer much to the country.

America has a long way to go when it comes to hatred and discrimination toward immigrants, but many forget that the country was built by immigrants. These immigrants came from different countries and different backgrounds, and made the country what it is today.

Spio is on track to be one of these people, and will make the country even better than it already is.

Friends of Rachel: a chain of positivity

written by Emma Ellis & Haylee Hedrick
photos by Dylan Shupe-Logsdon

Loud pops rung throughout the halls of Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, 1999.

At first, students thought the sounds were firecrackers being lit on the lawn outside.

The reality: shots were being fired from semi-automatic handguns at students outside eating lunch.

The shooting, which would later be known as the Columbine shooting massacre, lasted 49 minutes and spanned most of the school. Senior Rachel Scott, a 17-year-old who was known around the school for always spreading kindness, was the first victim shot and killed.

April 20 of this year will mark 19 years since the first mass school shooting occurred. Since Scott’s death, her legacy of positivity lives on within JHS through the Friends of Rachel club, which has been actively working to make sure that her and her legacy never fade.

“There’s a sense of unity that comes with the student body being against bullying, knowing that it’s a dangerous thing within any school environment.”

Friend’s of Rachel co-president Neh Thaker

“It’s definitely become more prevalent, as the presidents, to continue a positive movement throughout the school, ” Friend’s of Rachel co-president Keith Asplund said. “We need to use her story to prevent bullying and stop escalation of violent situations.”

On that fateful day, 13 lives were lost — 12 students and one teacher — and 21 more were injured. But through all of the despair, a legacy of gold was gained.

Following the shooting, Rachel’s father, Darrell, created the “Rachel’s Challenge” program to honor his late daughter. His hope was to carry out her goals by showing the impact that minimal acts of kindness can have in a high school setting.

Eventually, the club would reach millions of high school students nationwide every year, encouraging safety and positivity in schools.

“The club gives students an outlet to share and discuss things they might be embarrassed about or going through,” said one of the club sponsors, Taylor Troncin. “And (we) respond (with) something to combat the negativity going on.”

At the beginning of each school year, the JHS club encouraged members of the student body to sign an “anti-bullying banner” to pledge their agreeance to keep the school from being a place of violence, bullying and discrimination.  


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During lunches, students were encouraged to sign a “Say Boo to Bullying” banner, as well purchase wristbands that read ‘Band Against Bullying” to benefit the Friends of Rachel group.


“There’s a sense of unity that comes with the student body being against bullying, knowing that it’s a dangerous thing within any school environment,” said Friend’s of Rachel co-president Neh Thaker.

Scott paved the way for a positive movement that has grown to a larger scale and can continue to grow by each person affected.  

“It’s really a simple message that she (Scott) was trying to spread,” Asplund said. “It isn’t big — it just starts with some students in school, day-to-day, hour-to-hour, spreading positivity.”

School shootings put ROTC in unique position

by Bella Bungcayao

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ROTC member Lindsey Vessels has her pins adjusted on her uniform by a fellow cadet.

Leadership and discipline are two of many attributes JROTC students are taught to uphold in their schools.

Yet this program has been both criticized and praised nationally because of the recent Parkland, Fla. school shooting, and the involvement of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School JROTC.

Nikolas Cruz, the Florida school shooter responsible for the death of 17 students and staff, was, in fact, an ROTC cadet at Stoneman Douglas.

This rogue member, however, did not reflect the practices of the entire Parkland program.

As more details of the shooting started to uncover, many stories were told about JROTC members, and their heroism for protecting their peers. Some of these students even lost their own life, including 15-year-old Peter Wang.

According to witnesses, Wang was pulling students from the hallways into safety before he was killed by a single bullet.

Because of Wang’s selflessness shown on Feb. 14, he was honored with a traditional military funeral.

Two other JROTC cadets who were killed, named Martin Duque and Alaina Petty, were also said by fellow students to have been ushering their peers out of the halls.

These stories touched JROTC members nationwide, like Victoria Southern, who is the Corps Commander for Jeff High’s JROTC program.

“I think that the individuals in JROTC who took those life-threatening risks showed true leadership and service before self,” Southern said. “Which is something that is taught in the program.”

Southern and her JROTC peers took class time to write notes of encouragement and praise to these students, and sent them to the cadets in Parkland.

Retired Colonel Robert Benning, one of the two advisors of Jeff’s JROTC program, hopes his cadets feel encouraged by these stories of heroism, if the school was in the event of an active shooter.

“I would hope my students would feel the urge to protect their peers,” Benning said. “That type of bravery is what is taught in the program. However I wouldn’t want any of them to run out and confront an active shooter.”

These three students who lost their lives during this tragedy let their legacies live on accredited to their JROTC teachings. Their practice of service before self, leadership, and dependability, unfortunately, would lead to their cause of death.

However because of their heroics, it’s safe to say many other lives were saved.

Settle down … Rusty is on the case

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School Resource Officer Rusty Settles has been roaming the halls of Jeffersonville High School, and other area schools, for nearly his entire 25 years on the force.

by Tristan Jackson

Every day, he comes into the school.

As he walks by students, they nod their head at him in respect for what he does to ensure their safety. With his uniform cleanly pressed, and his mindset on protecting Jeff High, officer Rusty Settles will do whatever he may have to do to keep Jeff, and the students within it, safe.

In a time where gun control, and school safety, is a hot topic, Settles follows a routine each morning to ensure students can go about with a normal day.

“When I get here everyday, I try to walk the building and check the doors,” Settles says. “I make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be. Once that’s done, I always try to be visible throughout passing times.”

Being visible throughout the school can be tough, though, especially with a school as big as Jeff. Roughly 2,100 students attend JHS, and while the school is in a closed-campus setting, the building still spans a large area.

“I feel safe when I see Officer Settles in the hallways,” said senior Kip Jackson. “I love that I see him in more than one location in the school. He’s always checking up on me and my fellow students.”

Settles has been on the Jeffersonville Police Department for 25 years, as of June. When a position within the high school opened itself up, Settles found the job interesting and wanted to learn more about it.

Little did Settles know, though, that the job would be so critical for student safety years later.

Recent events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 14 students and three teachers were killed, have brought jobs like Officer Settles’ into the spotlight.

“There are lots of factors in how people view how we do our job. School shootings have caused a lot of different things, a lot of different ways, a lot of different mindsets,” Settles says. “Just think of how students feel when the fire alarm goes off. (They) call mom and dad. (Their) mindset has changed.”

But according to Settles, recent tragedies have not just changed students and parents — his frame of mind has been affected, too.

“My perspective on what has just happened (in Parkland), yeah it’s changed. It goes through my mind, I can’t say it doesn’t,” Settles says. “But I can say, I know some students that would report to me. I, along with the school corporation, will take what they would report and investigate thoroughly to help keep you safe.”

While Jeffersonville High School is fortunate to have Settles on duty full-time, some around the country would like to see teachers armed, or having more guns within the schools.

“It would be nice to have someone else to help investigate certain things. I always reach out to my colleagues at the (police) department for some help with things,” Settles says. “I don’t want to get overzealous with it, but with where we are today and the actions taking place within the country, it may need to be looked at over extra security or people trained to use a gun.

“Ask me a week from now,” Settles continued, “it might be different.”

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Settles has been following the school shooting events closely, using what he sees as potential tips for how to handle violent situations in the future. “My perspective on what has just happened (in Parkland), yeah it’s changed. It goes through my mind, I can’t say it doesn’t. But I can say, I know some students that would report to me. I, along with the school corporation, will take what they would report and investigate thoroughly to help keep (students) safe.”

But even with everything going on, Settles finds one thing is more important than anything else: his relationships he has built along the way.

“I want to build rapport with you guys. You need to know me, I need to know you,” Settles says of students. “That, in itself, is the most important thing.Through the NASRO (National Association of School Resource Officers) training program, I learned the number one thing is building that rapport to help create communication between each other.”

Building trust throughout JHS helps make Officer Settles’ job smoother, and create for a more welcoming environment at Jeff High.

“People may ask me why safety and keeping guns out is not the top priority,” said Settles. “But it is. The talk and communication can help prevent such things from every happening. My job is proactive and reactive.”

Raising Cain

Story by Tristan Jackson

Jeffersonville High School has a new state champion.

Camyle Cain, a wrestler in the 138-pound weight class on the female circuit, won the Indiana state competition on Jan. 19 — just one year after the first-ever state competition for girls, in which she placed second against Alara Boyd, the second-ranked female wrestler in the world in her weight class.

“I’ve never felt something so exciting,” Cain said on her experience at the state tournament. “Everyone is so welcoming and nice. Even if you’re going against the girl, she’ll help you warm up.”

Cain was convinced to join the wrestling team by head wrestling and strength & conditioning coach Danny Struck, who has been coaching at Jeff for over 20 years. While she excels on the mat, Cain’s first love was the football field.

“I didn’t want to originally,” Cain said on joining the wrestling team. “Struck would ask me everyday to come. He would say ‘if you don’t like it, don’t come back. Just try it.’ I didn’t like it the first week, but I kept going, and a month down the road, I realized I really liked this sport.”IMG_0070

Cain joined the football team her freshman year, and played under head coach Lonnie Oldham. During her first year, she built relationships with her coaches, including Alfonzo Browning, who would eventually go on to become the head coach.

Cain’s wrestling coaches have helped pave the path to a state title, and her football coach would end up accompanying her to the state championship

“It meant a lot to me, especially after everything we’ve been through over the last four years,” said Browning, on taking Cain to State. “I was honored to be able to take her up there.”

While Cain enjoyed the experience, a high school athlete’s goal is to win a state championship. Her hard work got her all the way to the championship match after winning the first two matches in the competition.

Cain went into her final match with a 8-0 record against female opponents, including a first place finish in the USA preseason national tournament and regional champion.

In dominating performance, her first two wins of the tourney would come by the way of pin. As the favorite, Cain would eventually make her way to the championship round, where she would face off against Westfield High School’s Melody Barrows.

During the final, she continued her impressive display, pinning her opponent less than two minutes into the match.  

“When I won I couldn’t even control myself,” Cain said. “I really didn’t know how to act.”

The win is not only a tremendous accomplishment for Cain herself, but a groundbreaking accomplishment for the girls who could potentially follow down the same path.

“She improved both physically and mentally,” Struck said. “She’s grown up and she’s much better at keeping her emotions in check.”

It’s safe to say the win brought a lot of attention to Cain, and she has received an abundance of support from the students and teachers around the building.

“Every time Coach Browning sees me, he’ll say ‘what’s up champ’,” Cain said. “Everyone is so excited for me.”

Although Cain won a state championship, there will always be people who doubt and hate excellence, especially as a female exceeding in a predominantly male sport. Cain is no exception.

“I do get some crap for it. Some people say, ‘You didn’t really win state because you’re a girl,’” Cain said. “I don’t really know why. I guess they are just jealous.”

Regardless of the naysayers, Cain shined on her way to a state title, utterly dominating her competition.

“She’s got a runner-up against the second-ranked wrestler in the world and a state title; that’s a nice resume for when she goes for the All-Marine team,” Struck said.

With the backing of her coaches, teammates and classmates, Cain made her championship dream come true.

“I can’t believe I won state,” Cain said. “That’s something every athlete dreams to do.”

Cain finished her high school career on top, but it’s not the end of the road for the outstanding Red Devil. Although she has yet to pick out a college, Cain fully intends on wrestling post-high school, and the school that she decides to attend will be getting a girl who is ready to work.

“I just want to get better,” Cain said. “Get better for when I further it.”

Seven Years Later

Story by Carlos Molina

This year marks the seventh anniversary of the historic season from the Jeffersonville Lady Red Devils basketball team.

In 2011, the Lady Red Devils won the IHSAA 4A state championship, only the fourth state title in school history. (Three of the four state titles have come from female sports team: track – twice – and basketball.)

In the Class 4A championship game, the girls defeated Penn by a score of 42-29. The win vaulted JHS to an overall record of 28 wins and two losses during the season, the best final mark ever from a girls’ team.

During that championship run, head coach Chad Gilbert had the luxury of returning players, partnered with a little bit of luck.

“The experience was one you dream about,” Gilbert, now the athletic director at Charlestown High School, recalls. “To win a state championship, you have to be good and you have to be lucky. The state championship was one that we worked extremely hard for many years to achieve the goal. We felt like we won the state championship for everyone that ever wore a Red Devil uniform before us, and everyone that has worn a Red Devil uniform after us.”

Former basketball player Jamice Williams led the team with 3.8 assist per game, and still reminisces about the championship.

“Winning state meant the world to me,” Williams says. “The team and I worked so hard to accomplish this goal and it was well worth all the sweat and tears. I wish I could put into words how much it actually meant to me, but it’s hard. It was a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Senior Jacinta Gibson is currently a four-year starter on the girls basketball team. Growing up in Jeffersonville, Gibson looked up to the girls’ team that won state.

“Winning a state championship has always been a dream of mine and to see those girls accomplish that gave me a lot of hope for my future as a Red Devil,” Gibson said. “ I look up to all those girls”

Averaging 61.2 points per game during the season, the Lady Red Devils convincingly beat their opponents, winning their regular season games by an average of 31.5 points per contest.

“We had a talented team that were great players, but even better people.The team and coaching stuff really enjoyed being around each other,” Gilbert recalls. “We trusted each other. We believed in each other and we know when we walked out on the court together we would not be defeated.”

Defying the laws of science

story by Emily Tully

“I really enjoyed the pep rally last week, and being a part of that. They were never really my favorite part about school, but now everything is my favorite part.”

With a look of genuine happiness and reflection on his face, Mr. Alan Shrebtienko reflects on the beginning of the year festivities that took place in late July.

To some, pep rallies and enjoying school might seem miniscule and unimportant, but to Shrebtienko, it was the first of many more.

More importantly, it brought back feelings of normalcy.

Mr. Shreb, as his physics students call him, was out of work the entire 2016-17 school year due to a medical condition called necrotizing pancreatitis.

According to the Radiological Society of North America, necrotizing pancreatitis is a “severe form of pancreatitis characterized by necrosis in and around the pancreas.” Essentially, the pancreas is inflamed, and in this case, the tissue can become infected and die off, leading to organ failure.

For Shreb, the treatment was a long and excruciating process, lasting five months total. “I went into the hospital on July 13, and I got out on December 24,” Shreb recalls.

The disease took over his life completely for half of a year, and still affects him in his daily life.

“I can’t drive anymore… it has taken most of my vision, I mainly see silhouettes,” Shreb describes. “It’s going to be hard to get back to where I can recognize the students. I can’t even see them when they raise their hands.”

After being released from the hospital in December, recovery was another long process on this painful road to his “new normal.” Shreb explains that until as early as January 2017, he could not stand up or walk.

“The hardest part was just learning how to walk again,” Shreb said.

However these obstacles aren’t going to stop Shrebtienko from continuing what he loves doing — teaching his students.

“I missed teaching the students physics,” says Shreb. “I think it’s important for everyone to know… if you understand the nature around you, it makes it more enjoyable.”

His absence didn’t just affect him and his students, but also his fellow teachers and friends.

Biology teacher Missi Brewer explained the feelings shared among the science department about his situation.

“We are so happy for him to be back. Like, it was such a loss to Jeff High, to not have him around,” Brewer said, fighting back tears. “And his physics department [was a loss], not to mention him as a person.”

The return to school, and a normalized daily routine, isn’t something Shreb thinks is going to be easy.

“I’ve just got to take it day by day and get used to, what’s going to be, my new normal,” Shreb explained.

An experience so traumatizing and difficult comes with many challenges, but it also came with an important lesson to Shrebtienko. He says, “It’s taught me to appreciate what you’ve got because it can be taken away in a heartbeat.”

Transitions: the story of Vic Tomes

story by Kristen Jacobs

Senior Vic Tomes puts his pants on one leg at a time. He draws, plays instruments, and has friends that love and care for him.

In a lot of ways, Vic is exactly like the rest of us. But in some ways, he is not.

That’s how everyone is though, right? Everybody has ways they are like the rest, but they also have originality.

Vic is just the same.

Although Vic was born a female, he identifies as a male. At the beginning of his sophomore year, Vic realized who he was.

“Being trans, you’re always trans, it just comes to this point where you realize the way you’ve been living isn’t how you want to be living,” Vic says.

Feeling unaccepted, Vic hid his true self from the rest of the world. After falling into a depression, he attended therapy to release his thoughts and feelings.

Finally, Tomes surrendered to himself, and confided in his mom, Kristie, about who he truly is. On the way to a concert for the band Avatar, Vic divulged that he was transgender.

He was never surprised by his mom’s reaction — there was no screaming, no yelling, no crying — just unconditional love. That’s all she has ever had for Vic: love and acceptance, no matter who he is.

Once Tomes acquired enough courage, he decided to come out to the world on social media.

Of course, showing yourself to the world comes with a price. Although the truth was met with support, it was also met with hatred and hostility.

“People are very closed-minded,” says Vic. “But I’ve realized that I have never surrounded myself with negative people.”

In fact, many people in Vic’s life have been supportive, including his older sister, Haylea.

“Well I’ve always known on a certain level that he was transgender. At first, I thought it was just a tomboy stage and he would grow out of it, but later in life, I realized that it was who he was,” Haylea said. “When he told me, I was more happy that he had the courage to come and talk to me about it, and I wasn’t worried about anything else than protecting my brother and making sure he knew he was loved and that I supported him.”

Another JHS student that identifies as transgender, Shaun Williams, supported Vic’s decision to share his news.

“I didn’t expect it, but I was happy that he found himself, and I’m happy that we can relate a lot now,” Williams says.

Although Vic’s immediate circle includes supportive people in his life, he also has some people against him: one being the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Months after Vic decided he wanted to join the Navy, Trump released a statement banning trans soldiers, saying “…the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”

According to a 2014 Research and Development study, it is estimated that somewhere between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender individuals serve active duty in the United States military. However, no statement was made about the actions that will be taken regarding these current military members.

Vic was disappointed by this statement, but has decided that if President Trump follows through with his declaration, he will join the Peace Corps. His dream is to travel and be accepted, both of which he can do in the Peace Corps.

“That’s my dream,” Tomes says, “to travel the world, meet as many people as possible, and help them in any way I can.”

Vic believes that body parts don’t define a person. He is confident in his belief that someone is who he or she feels they are, and whatever parts that individual is born with don’t distinguish the person he or she is inside.

According to Vic, he is the same as everyone else. He eats, he drinks, he breathes.

“The only reason I am different from the rest of you,” Vic says, “is my green hair.”