Categories
Feature

The History and Legacy of Jeffersonville’s Taylor High School

A forgotten piece of history stands at 821 Wall Street in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The two-story building is boarded up, the red bricks slowly losing their color. Over the entrance of the building are the cracked white words “City School.” To passerbys, this may not look like anything special, just a decrepit structure that has worn away over time.

This building is Taylor High School, Jeffersonville’s former African-American school. Built in 1891 and initially named City School, the school was renamed after Robert Frank Taylor (its first principal) in 1924. This building has seen the Great Depression, weathered the Great Flood of 1937 and was a school for the black children of Jeffersonville throughout segregation.

Though Taylor High School had the words high school in its name, it enrolled grades one through 12. The building was basic compared to the all-white Jeffersonville High School and it did not have indoor plumbing or heating.

Flora Clipper, age 97, attended the school from 1936 to 1940. “All of our education was segregated,” Clipper said. “We were always angry (and) unhappy at the difference between Taylor High School and Jeff High. We had no kind of gym, we had no kind of extracurriculars….We were always very unhappy about the condition of segregated schools….We wanted an education equal…to the white schools.”

While education changed as necessary for Jeffersonville High School, it did not evolve for those who were enrolled at Taylor High School. “Education had changed for the white kids,” said Clipper. “We were expected to keep with the same model that was started in 1892.”

In January and February of 1937, the Ohio River flooded and in the Louisville area, the river gauge levels rose to 57 feet. In Jeffersonville, 90 percent of homes were flooded. The majority of buildings had water up to the second story.
Because of the damage from what is now known as the Great Flood of 1937, many of Taylor High School’s students were hopeful that they would get a new school.

“There were many of the young people who said, ‘Now we gonna get a new school. I know we gonna get a new school,’” Clipper reflected. “They were disheartened when…we did not get a new school. Some of the boys never did come back after the flood. Because…they had to try to get work to help out with the families at home.”

For the black students, graduating from Taylor High School didn’t make a difference when it came to searching for jobs. “One of the difficult things was that, in those days, when you graduated from high school, that didn’t make any difference as far as your employment was concerned,” Clipper explained. “And I can remember the boys in our class used to always complain about that. Because at Jeff High…they were having other things that would make them employable.”

In 1952, two years before the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education ruled that segregation of schools was unconstitutional, Jeffersonville’s school system was integrated. According to an article by the Courier-Journal that was published in 2009, the building was turned into Wall Street Elementary school, a school that enrolled both African-American and white students. However, the elementary school closed in the 1970s.

As reported by the Courier-Journal, on April 4, 2009, a historical marker was put in front of the building. Tom Galligan, the mayor of Jeffersonville at the time, declared the day Taylor High School Day. Later, Taylor High School was made a site on the Indiana African-American Heritage Trail.

The building stands neglected now, with the marker offering a brief summary of the decades of history the structure contains and represents. While it is easy to put off issues such as segregation as long ago, Taylor High School is a reminder of the past and a reminder of the injustices that African-Americans experienced.

Story and photos by Greta Reel
Archival research by Greta Reel and Jaida Bell

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Categories
Hyphen PDFs

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.

Download PDF

Categories
News

And Then There Were Three

Former Vice President Joe Biden takes the lead in the 2020 Democratic Primaries, while multiple candidates drop out of the presidential race.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has appeared to take the lead in the 2020 Democratic primaries following his surge on what is known as Super Tuesday. 

On Tuesday, March 3, 14 states (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia) and one United States territory (American Samoa) held primaries and caucuses for the Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential race. 

Biden surged, winning Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Maine,  Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won Colorado, Utah and his home state of Vermont. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg won American Samoa. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) held one delegate.

According to The Washington Post, in order to win the Democratic nomination, a candidate needs 1,991 delegates. Each state has a certain number of delegates based on the population and the weight in the Democratic party. Based on the number of votes they receive, the candidate wins the delegates. 

Bloomberg dropped out on Wednesday, March 4. After failing to win any states, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) dropped out of the race on Thurs., March 5.  Gabbard still remains in the race.

On Tuesday, March 10, primaries were held in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington.  According to The Washington Post, Biden took the lead in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri, while Sanders took the lead in North Dakota. Washington has yet to be called.

Biden has received endorsements from former candidates Pete Buttegieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bloomberg and as of March 9, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). It is currently unclear who Warren will endorse.

The presidential election between current President Donald Trump and the Democrat nominee will be on Nov. 3, 2020.

Story by Greta Reel

Categories
Feature

Katie Dorman Spreads Kindness

Whether it’s theatre, art, culinary club, thespian club or tennis, Katie Dorman is always involved in something at Jeffersonville High School. But according to Dorman, her biggest accomplishment has been a club that is growing quickly.

“I like that I’ve been a part of plays…I like that I’ve worked hard at tennis, but right now I think my biggest accomplishment would be GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) and making progress in our club,” Dorman said. Even though Dorman did not start the club, she said she wanted to be involved with it, even before she realized that she was a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I always wanted to be a part of it just because I feel like it’s a nice way to spread more awareness of people who are just trying to make their way through life by being themselves,” Dorman said.

According to Dorman, the Gay-Straight Alliance has made progress through spreading awareness.“We’ve done booths during lunch, we’ve spread cards around, we have people coming in, sharing their experiences, having people who aren’t in the community that are straight but they’re allies and coming into the club just so they can be more aware,” she said. “We do spread kindness through everybody.”

In addition to the Gay-Straight Alliance, Dorman also has a passion for the arts and wants to study them in college. “I could have a minor in theatre,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about it. But primarily at the moment, probably just 2D art, maybe 3D art. Some digital design. Animation maybe. Getting into the basics…traditional art.” Dorman thinks that like the Gay-Straight Alliance, the arts can bring kindness. “I really think art can be very expressive,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be super deep, it doesn’t have to be something like Leonardo Da Vinci or anything like that. Make something simple, and then start sharing it with people. And that’s…a good way to spread kindness.”

Katie Dorman by Marni Scholl

Categories
News

Jeffersonville’s Promise Will Stand…For Now

Bill challenging the Ivy Tech scholarship program fails to move to the full Senate for a vote

Jeffersonville’s Promise, a program that gives qualifying Jeffersonville High School graduates a full tuition scholarship to Ivy Tech Community College, has survived legislation intended to strike down the program. According to the News and Tribune, the bill failed to move from committee to the full Senate for a vote this week, so there is not enough time to pass the bill before the end of the session.

The city of Jeffersonville announced the program in November 2018. The city pledged that 150,000 dollars of Tax Increment Funds (TIF) for the next five years would fund Jeffersonville’s Promise. This is the first partnership of its kind in the state of Indiana.

However, the program has had its fair share of battles. In February, New Albany representative Ed Clere and co-sponsors proposed a new bill in the Indiana House that would have changed the spending of the TIF funds, which would directly affect the core of the new program. At that time, many expressed concern that the program would be eliminated.

Jeffersonville High School principal Julie Straight said that during that time of uncertainty, she had many students and parents reach out to her, some of them even in tears.

“Some had not made applications for housing or to some other schools once Jeff’s Promise was presented,” Straight said. “Because they made their decision. They were going to use that for their beginning college education. (They were) very upset that they’ve missed deadlines and they’ve missed out on opportunities that they would need.” Straight added that she heard of some students “really upset that…maybe they wouldn’t be able to go to college.”

Senior Amber Rowe, who plans to attend Ivy Tech before transfering to a four-year program, was relieved when the bill failed to pass. “If they had dropped the program, it would drop the rate of people who can afford college.”

Sophomore Mollie Davis agreed, stating that “Jeffersonville’s Promise would greatly help my peers who maybe couldn’t afford college on their own. It gives them a chance at a great future and an opportunity to make their own impact on the community.

To qualify for the scholarship, students must fit the following criteria:

  • Jeffersonville High School graduate from the Class of 2019 and those classes thereafter.
  • Students who have earned a minimum of a 2.0 high school GPA and maintain a 2.5 GPA while enrolled while enrolled at Ivy Tech.
  • Students who have completed the FAFSA.
  • Enrolled in credit-bearing and workforce-focused courses towards attainment of a certificate, certification or degree at Ivy Tech.
  • Students must enroll at Ivy Tech during the Summer, Fall or Spring term after their commencement from high school starting in Fall 2019.

Although the partnership has come with some controversy and criticism, Jeffersonville’s Promise will help the student body and open many opportunities that weren’t there before.

By Sophie Rousseau and Greta Reel

Categories
News

Vaping Gains Popularity Among Teens, Causing Concerns about Health

march-inside-pic

Toxic chemicals, brain damage and fruit flavorings. Many would think that these words don’t go together. However, for those who vape, these words combine on a regular basis.

Vaping is the use of e-cigarettes to inhale a flavored vapor packed with nicotine and other substances. Vaping is often advertised as helping smokers stop smoking, as e- cigarettes are considered safer than traditional cigarettes.

If vaping helps smokers stop using cigarettes, then what’s the problem? The answer is simple: vaping is extremely popular among people who never smoked at all, including teens. While vaping may be safer than cigarettes, it still comes with risks of its own.

Vaping is dangerous for teens because the large amount of nicotine can permanently alter developing brains. Not only that, but e-cigarettes contain other harmful substances, including formaldehyde and lead, that can cause lung damage such as popcorn lung (a disease that damages the smallest airways in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe).

One brand, JUUL, is popular among students because the devices can be concealed easily. JUULs come in many flavors, making them even more appealing. Because of this, JUUL has been accused by the FDA of marketing their devices toward minors and getting a new age group hooked on nicotine.

In an article published on April 24, 2018, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb,M.D., stated: “The troubling reality is that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), such as e-cigarettes have become wildly popular with kids. We understand, by all accounts, many of them may be using products that closely resemble a USB flash drive, have high levels of nicotine and emissions that are hard to see. The FDA must – and will – move quickly to reverse these disturbing trends and, in particular, address the surging youth uptake of JUUL and other products.”

Vaping is a national issue, as well as a local one. William Eihusen, an assistant principal at Jeffersonville High School, said vaping has had “a negative impact on the school, basically through discipline.” He added, “There’s been kind of an uptick in students using vape sticks in class and so obviously as an administrator, we deal with that a lot more than we do with traditional cigarettes.”

Eihusen elaborated on the consequences for students caught vaping: “If a student is caught here and it’s the first time with any type of tobacco product, which includes vaping, typically as long as there haven’t been any other significant issues in the past, they would receive three days at the alternative school,” he said.

Nola Garrison, the nurse at Jeff High, grew up in a time where smoking was glamorized and says that in today’s society, vaping is just as trendy.

“People just didn’t know how addicting nicotine was and how harmful cigarette smoking was, but were bombarded with the practice,” Garrison said.“Vaping has many of the same long- term dangers of smoking and a few additional dangers of its own.”

Students who vape are divided on the issue. One anonymous student has been vaping daily for almost a year and says that in addition to vaping being dangerous, it costs him a lot of money.

He said of the habit, “I would’ve saved probably hundreds of dollars if I never started and also wouldn’t be addicted to such a harmful substance.”

Another teen says she’s been vaping daily for four months, but that she mostly vapes as a relaxation technique. She focuses on the positive aspects of vaping. “I wish I hadn’t started vaping due to the habit that I formed, but I also don’t regret it because it’s actually helped me a lot,” she said. “Vaping has strongly helped me deal with anxiety and being under a lot of stress.”

Society may be divided on the issue of vaping, but one thing is certain: vaping can have numerous health consequences.

Garrison said, “The more unnatural products we introduce, the more unnatural consequences we should expect from our bodies, which moves us further from our baseline healthy state. Everything has a point of failure.”

Written by Greta Reel

Photo by Caleb Sorrells (Not on school property)

Categories
Opinion

My View: Disabled People Need Your Help, But Not The Kind You’re Thinking Of

IMG_3906(C).jpg

There are ordinary, everyday actions that people often don’t think about. Such as the ability to move your arms, legs, see and hear.

Now, pick one of those and think about what life would be like without it. For example, imagine you couldn’t walk very well, or not at all. Say you want to meet up with friends at a restaurant, and when you get there a flight of stairs stands between you and the entrance. Or what if you couldn’t see well and they have no enlarged menus?

This is what life is like every day for a person with a disability, including myself.

I was born at 28 weeks and weighed three pounds and a quarter of an ounce at birth. As a result of being so early, I have brain damage that causes me to have epilepsy, auditory neuropathy (a type of hearing loss) and cerebral palsy in my legs. But the point of this column is not to tell my life story. It is to talk about how disabled people are a minority and why the lack of accessibility is a problem.

The Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990 by former president George H.W. Bush. The five titles of the ADA cover employment, state and local government, public accommodations, telecommunications and miscellaneous provisions. Under this law, disabled people supposedly should not have to encounter many barriers in life. Right?

In 2017, there were an estimated 320 million Americans with a disability, or approximately 12.7 percent of the population. Despite this huge number of disabled people, there is still discrimination and lack of accessibility nearly 29 years after the ADA was made a law.

Bonny Folz, a physical therapist at the Kids Center for Pediatric Therapies in Louisville, Ky., has practiced for more than 30 years. Over this time period, she said, “I feel that many positive things have happened, especially within our physical structures. However, I continue to see greater limitations in how we as individuals look at those who may appear, sound or move differently from ourselves or how we feel the norm is.”

Today’s society lacks the understanding and accommodations needed for people who are different – those who don’t fit what they see as the norm. It’s a reminder that not all people see disabled people as equal, or even as people. Unfortunately, the president is among those.

During a campaign rally in 2016, now president Donald Trump mocked the arm movements of a disabled New York Times reporter. Also, in 2018, some found his comments on the Paralympics offensive. He said, “it’s a little tough to watch too much, but I watched as much as I could.” How can discrimination get better for people with disabilities when our own president makes fun of disabled people? Society needs to learn to not judge people based on first impressions of how they talk, walk or look.

For example, a deaf woman named Amanda Koller recently told NPR about her struggles to get a job despite the fact that she’s working on her second master’s degree. She described how potential employers got frustrated with her needs and impatient while interviewing her.

How is this okay? An extremely smart, well-educated woman can’t get a job because employers simply get frustrated? This might seem like a rare occurrence, but a statistic provided by NPR showed that less than 40 percent of deaf people work full time.

In a USA Today article published on Jan. 8, a paraplegic named Tyler Schilhabel shared how lack of accessibility nearly ruined his honeymoon trip. On the first flight, he had to be carried off a plane by a flight attendant to ensure that he made his next flight on time. On his return trip, the plane didn’t have the aisle chair he requested, so he had to scoot down to the very back of the plane on the floor to reach his seat.

This is not right and something needs to change. All disabled people want to be is independent, and when we’re forced into situations that put us on the spot it’s humiliating and demeaning.

We have the ADA for a good reason, but society hasn’t caught up. We should be able to get jobs. We should be able to get on an airplane. We should be able to go out with friends and not worry about how we’re going to read the menu, or get into the building.

There needs to be change to prevent situations like those of Koller and Schilhabel. Even if you are not disabled, you can be an advocate for change.

“The environment will never be totally barrier free, but our eyes can be,” Folz said. “We all need to see the worth of those around us, no matter if they talk differently, (or) move differently….We all have strengths. We need to point those out, not distinguish.”

Written by Greta Reel

Photo by Kyle Tincher

Categories
News

Academy System Continues to Grow at Jeff High

This school year (2018-19), Greater Clark County Schools started a new system of learning called the Academies of Greater Clark. The Academies encourage students to pick a pathway that goes along with their career choice in order to focus on the future. The Academies at Jeffersonville High School include Health Services, Public Service, Engineering and Manufacturing, and Business and Entrepreneurship. Freshmen start out in the Freshmen Academy. The question is: how successful have the Academies been so far and how are they changing Jeffersonville High School?

Jeff High Principal Julie Straight believes that the Academies have gone well and that students will benefit from them. “We have created small schools in a large school,” Straight said. “We should not have as many students slipping through cracks or getting too far behind without a team of teachers that are talking about ‘What can we do?’ and hopefully intervene, which is definitely a benefit.”

Each Academy has its own principal and counselor, along with teachers in that pathway to help students explore the career that they may want to pursue in the future. This also applies to the Freshman Academy.

Jan Haire, the Freshman Academy counselor, talked about the benefits that freshmen are receiving from the program. “There are three teams of core teachers who share the same students. Those teachers meet every week with Mrs. Hall (the Freshman Academy principal) and me and we discuss what students are doing well and which ones need extra support. I feel like we know the students better with the Freshman Academy,” Haire said.

Straight says that current sophomores will the first to truly experience the benefits of the Academies, as they will be the first class to have three years in a row of their career interest. However, she notes that even upperclassmen will benefit from the program. “Embrace what opportunities there are,” Straight said. “At Jeff High, we still have more opportunities to explore your interest for your future than any other high school in the area. We have welding here … we have Radio/TV, we have Journalism, our arts.” Straight also noted that students have been able to go on focused field trips and get real-world experience.“We have some seniors in internships, so there’s some good things happening,” Straight said.

Sophomore Karina Hernandez recognizes the benefits of the Academies, but said the Academies still need some improvements. “Students can now be guided in taking the classes that they will actually use in their career choice,” Hernandez said. “However, they could be a bit more organized, but I get (that) it’s the first year they have done this.”

However, freshman November Shawler disagrees with the mission of the Academies. “Personally, I think that Academies are unnecessary pressure to chose the career you want when you are still a child,” Shawler said. “A career I think is good for me sophomore year perhaps won’t fit my interests senior year. And the fact that you can only change it once. What happens if you want to switch twice, and you are forced to have the credentials of a separate field entirely?”

For those who may worry that the Academies will completely change Jeff High, Straight reassured them. “(The) Academies don’t change everything in the school,” she said. “We’re still a high school and all the classes are the same. But we hope that as we keep moving and getting deeper in our transformation, that there is more of a thread that may run through core classes of your Academy that helps really keep interest and make it more engaging.”

 

Written by Greta Reel

 

Categories
News

Ivy Tech Scholarships: “Jeffersonville’s Promise” for the Future

A promise, a college education and a future. Many students stress about having enough money to attend college. However, the city of Jeffersonville has a solution and recently announced that they have partnered with community college Ivy Tech to offer a two-year scholarship to the graduates of Jeffersonville High School, starting with the Class of 2019. The program, “Jeffersonville’s Promise,” means that graduates are now able to attend two years of college at Ivy Tech for free.

Scott Hawkins, a social studies teacher at Jeff High and a member of the city’s Redevelopment Commission, explained how the program came together. “The program started with Travis Haire at Ivy Tech,” Hawkins said. “Haire contacted the mayor, who mulled over the idea for a while and in turn presented it to Redevelopment Commission members.” Other Commision members include Mayor Mike Moore, fellow Councilman Matt Owen, Monty Snelling and Jack Vissing.

“Our Promise is based on a similar program instituted in Kalamazoo, Michigan more than 10 years ago, so we had data to look at concerning effectiveness and impact. Four of us voted for the expenditure,” he continued.

According to a press release by the city,students must meet the following requirements to qualify:
• A minimum of a 2.0 G.P.A. while in high school
• Maintain a minimum of a 2.5 G.P.A. at Ivy Tech
• Accept all federal and local aid as well as scholarships before the Ivy Tech scholarship, as the program is intended as a “last dollar scholarship”
• Complete the FAFSA (The Free Application For Student Federal Aid)
• Enroll in classes with the intent of getting a certificate, certification or degree
• Enroll in Ivy Tech during the summer, fall or spring after high school, starting in 2019

There are no student income requirements for the scholarship, but Jeff High Principal Julie Straight anticipates that the program will be most beneficial to the middle class. “Our lowest income students — if they want to go to college through grants and things — generally they’re going to get it paid for that opportunity,” Straight said. “But the middle of the road where you have working families who make just enough … there’s a lot of people in that situation because college is expensive.”

Some, like junior Sophie Weber, are extremely excited about the program. Weber, who has juvenile arthritis, says this will help her family pay for much of her college.“My family does not qualify for much financial aid, but most of what we make goes to my medical bills,” Weber said. “Without this help I could be stuck in years worth of debt.” With this scholarship, she said, “I am able to worry about my education more than my financial situation.”

However, Weber is concerned that the program’s money will run out. “I am worried that the money will not accommodate every student who meets the qualifications and wishes to pursue this opportunity,” she said. “Even with taking every financial aid and scholarship provided first, it is not cheap to fund all this.”

Hawkins explained where the money is coming from.“It is funded through the Redevelopment Commission, which receives funding through TIF districts throughout the city,” Hawkins said. “No taxes or fees will be raised to implement this Promise. The money is already there.”

Overall, Straight thinks that the program is a win and gives much hope to students.“Lots of people (are) very excited and… the kids… that’s the best part. It really can be life-changing… It brought tears to my eyes when we were at the announcement.” It’s a win situation for Jeff High students,” she said. “For Jeffersonville as a community, for employers in Jeffersonville, we’re going to have a more educated workforce. For Ivy Tech, they’re going to have more students. It’s just a win all the way around.”

 

Written by Greta Reel

Categories
News

Candidate Profile: Liz Watson

Liz Watson is the local Democrat candidate for Indiana’s ninth district. Watson is running for the House of Representatives against Republican Trey Hollingsworth.

According to her website, Watson is running for Congress to fight for working families in Indiana.

Here are her views on some of the issues she would face in Congress:

Women’s Rights: Watson’s website says she has been an advocate for women for 20 years, especially for working women with families. She has worked on improving the juvenile justice system to help with the needs of girls and young women with histories of sexual abuse. If elected, she plans to demand full funding for the Violence Against Women Act, as well as advocating for women to have economic security and control of their own healthcare.

Immigration: Watson says she believes in “a pathway to citizenship” for immigrants. She supports the DREAM Act, an act that protects immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Watson say she doesn’t want to neglect border security; however, she believes the real job of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is to keep Americans safe, not to punish immigrants who are innocent.

Gun Laws: Watson says she respects the 2nd Amendment, but supports restrictions on assault weapons. Specifically, she wants to close loopholes that allow citizens to get their hands on guns more easily, such as the ability to conduct private sales of guns without a background checks. She opposes a bill that would require states to recognize concealed carry permits from other states. She wants more protection for the partners of domestic abusers, as federal law protects the spouses of the abusers but not the partners.

Health Care: Watson supports the Medicare for All Act of 2017 and plans to defend the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood. She says Planned Parenthood provides good care for both genders and that it can be lifesaving. On her campaign website she stated: “That’s why I support Planned Parenthood. It’s why I will oppose any effort to defund it, which would take lifesaving healthcare away from women in our district and across America.” In addition, she wants to work with both parties to accomplish good healthcare.

Climate Change: According to Watson, “climate change is the greatest threat to future generations” and “there is no time to waste.” Watson supports a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions, which would help companies develop a clean energy future. Doing this would raise over a billion dollars to develop green technology and infrastructure. She believes this will create good paying clean energy jobs for Southern Indiana residents.

 

By Greta Reel

Categories
Feature

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.

Categories
News

Are we growing numb to the violence?

by Gabby Bishop and Greta Reel

In America, the average gun homicide rate is around 13,000 a year, which is over 25 times the average of other high-income countries. Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, over 400 people have been shot in more than 200 school shootings nationwide.

To students in today’s society, school shootings are no longer the tragic massacre of peers — people with lives and families — but another statistic in their common world.

So the question is: are Americans becoming numb to the consistent violence, and is the media unintentionally glorifying shootings with constant coverage?

Susan Duncan, editor for the Evening News and Tribune doesn’t believe the news is causing romanticization. However, she agrees that gun violence isn’t as surprising anymore.

“You’ve lost the shock factor,” Duncan explained, referring to shootings. “There’s an initial shock, but then there’s also that ‘Oh my gosh, here we go again.’
“But I think to point to the media as unintentionally glorifying, I think that’s a falsehood,” she continued. “If people are getting desensitized, it’s not because we’re writing stories about it — it’s because these things are happening.”

Jeffersonville High School radio/TV teacher Tim Dench thinks teens are becoming desensitized to gun violence.

“Teenagers nowadays think nothing of shootings,” Dench said. “Years ago, when there was a robbery, a shooting, or some crime, it usually involved a 30 or 40-year-old adult…. Now (it’s people) in their young 20s and a lot of times even into their teens; and the younger generation, they think nothing of using guns.”

Dench believes constant coverage of massacres may glorify guns, but the media has to cover it due to First Amendment rights.

“It is news. It’s not good news, but news is news, and it’s the job of the media to report the news,” he continued.

Jeff High sophomore Hailey Lathan believes she, too, is becoming numb to consistent violence.

“So much violence is going on in today’s world it seems as if the world wouldn’t be normal without it,” Lathan said. I think media is bringing somewhat more awareness to school shooting, though some kids find it as an excuse to make a joke of it.”

According to Duncan, though, the news media should not be seen as the only blame to this desensitization. With most of the world on social media apps like Twitter or Facebook, being able to argue is easier than ever.

“There’s an anger that you see on social media that if it were one-on-one interactions, you wouldn’t see. It has empowered the worst in us…. People feel that they can just go after people,” she said.

Even though media could be considered a major factor for desensitization, it can also be seen as a way to show people the terror of these shooting. For example, videos of the Parkland FA. shooting spread like wildfire through social media. This first person point-of-view insight showed the true horror of what it is like to be a victim in a school shooting.

“You saw it, heard it, felt it from the inside that time. You could hear the terror, you could hear the screams, you could hear the gunfire,” Duncan said. “I remember seeing one angle of a student who had clearly… dove to the dirty, dusty floor to try to stay alive.”

School shootings have become a national epidemic, though one that people have the power to stop. It’s up to Americans to resolve it, and Duncan thinks the recent shooting in Parkland, Fla. will mark a change.

“I think (it’s) kind of a different dynamic that we’re seeing this time,” Duncan said. “This time it didn’t happen to little kids; it happened to kids who can think for themselves and take actions for themselves.”