Unfair Punishment for Disciplined Student In Anti-Bullying Video

A junior at Lebanon High School felt that she should make an anti-bullying video after her classmate committed suicide as a result of bullying. Emily Gipson, the creator of this video, posted it to YouTube and it went viral. The video was recorded in a classroom at the high school after school hours. Because she was not authorized to use this classroom after school hours and didn’t have permission, Gipson got into trouble. It was not the video’s content itself that got her into trouble. 

The content of this video was asking for people to be respectful of each other. In the video, Gipson says, “Welcome to Lebanon High School, where you come to be

Emily Gipson speaking in the aforementioned video in an attempt to help bullying victims and promote positivity.

analyzed from head-to-toe every day by people you don’t even know.”

Gipson had said in response to News 4, a local Lebanon news station, “I’ve seen problems with bullying, problem with bullying not being dealt with, and I feel like some things are just put aside.” Gipson also had said that the video is for anyone who feels like they are getting bullied and also spoke about how she recognizes that bullying occurs in every school. “Anywhere I can make a difference I’d love to,” said Gipson.

Gipson has indeed made a difference in people’s lives with this video – she says she’s received numerous messages from people who watched her video, and that these were all extremely supportive messages. One girl even said the video saved her life.

The punishment Gipson received for recording this video in a classroom at school was two days of in-school suspension.

I understand that the school had to take some sort of action as Gipson did not receive consent to use the classroom and anything that is filmed on campus can be interpreted as school district endorsement, which is why students’ need to get approval first.  And, most likely, the school district did not disagree with what Gipson’s message was at all.  However, I still do not feel that this punishment was fair. Although Gipson should have asked to use this classroom first, I feel like her video was such a good deed that she should have been given a lesser punishment and actually given some praise for what she did!

I think that they should have done a one period or week’s detention, but not in-school suspension. Gipson deserved to see the video her effects have had in her school and how good her deed was. At the same time, however, she does need a little bit of a gentle reminder that she cannot film videos in classrooms without permission. Therefore, I think detention is a better idea than two days of in-school suspension. The school administrators should also talk to her, and perhaps the entire school, about why students cannot film videos in classrooms.

The idea behind the video was to help her peers and teens in general think of themselves in an increasingly positive matter. Because she wasn’t screaming into the void like thousands of other anti-bullying videos and notably saved lives, I feel that they should have recognized her good deed in some way.  

As a student who has been bullied a lot in the past, I know that I would’ve heavily benefitted from a teen my age making this video. It’s people who witness bullying and other forms of hate but don’t do anything who seem, to me at least, the most harmful – these are the bystanders who could have helped, but did not. And when a bystander steps forward and stands up to a bully, through any means possible and in an effective way, it really makes a difference. This video made a huge difference in people’s lives and I feel that that matters more than whether or not Gipson had gotten prior consent to use a school classroom as a backdrop to her powerful and positive message.

Why Your Cat Should Be Kept Inside

Cats are America’s second most popular pet, behind only fish. There are estimated to be over 85 million pet cats in America, compared to only 78 million dogs. But, there are also an estimated 58 million feral cats in the United States.

A feral cat colony in Great Neck, with a few shelters visible and many more behind that tarp in the background.

These feral cats, as well as millions of pet cats that people let outdoors, have an enormous impact on the environment. Scientists estimate that cats kill 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals every year in America alone! Most of the birds killed by cats are species native to America, and in suburban and rural areas, most of the mammals killed are also native.

The threat cats pose to animals isn’t limited to America, though. Cats are listed as one of the world’s top 100 worst invasive species, and for good reason: worldwide, cats have contributed to the extinction of 33 (14% of total) bird, mammal, and reptile species in modern times.

A Piping Plover chick, endangered in New York.

The problems caused by cats are made even worse by humans. People provide food and shelter to entire colonies of feral cats, regardless of the consequences for nearby wildlife. For example, at Jones Beach, there is a colony of around 30 feral cats that are fed by people, and they even have shelters people built for them. This colony happens to be very close to an area where Piping Plovers, a bird considered endangered in New York state, nest and raise their young.

Not only would keeping cats indoors save billions of birds and mammals, but it would also be beneficial for cats. Outdoor cats are exposed to dangers such as cars, predators, poison, abuse from people, and diseases. Because of these things, feral cats have an average lifespan of around 2 years, compared to about 15 years for pet cats, with indoor-only cats living on average 2-3 years more than cats that spend a lot of time outdoors.

The Psychology Behind Wanting To Color Your Hair

Taylor Terminate, a Youtuber, looking really awesome with white hair.

Why do people choose to dye their hair colors such as bright red, vibrant purple, or attention-grabbing pink? Where does this desire to have unnatural colored hair come from? What is the reason behind a yearning for a shocking mint color? Is there science behind such a desire? Dying one’s hair a different color – especially rainbow hair – has slowly become a trend, with celebrities like Rihanna, Kesha, Kylie Jenner, and Hilary Duff dyeing their hair.  But using bleach and harsh coloring can leave nasty affects to hair, so why are people willing to make this sacrifice just to join in on a trend?

MTV News conducted an interview with a psychologist and celebrity colorist to find out some reasons. As it turns out, those who dye their hair latch onto a simple concept of wanting to stand out in order to fit in. Crazy dye jobs are becoming more and more normal – worn by celebrities and everyday people – and with the human urge to conform, we dye our hair.

Daniel Moon, a celebrity stylist, said, “A color explosion has happened and now is being molded to our lifestyle….” So, this new trend is spreading like wildfire and is becoming part of the way people live, the way people express themselves, and shows, with a bang, how they feel about themselves and the world. 

Nicole, a senior at Village, currently has her hair teal and purple.

On social media outlets such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter, individuals post pictures with interesting and creatively-colored hair,  further popularizing the interest in the trend. Individuals may create trends in our society, but technology helps to push these trends into the mainstream– we spread pictures of ourselves and images of what we are doing through hashtags, and when enough people do the same thing, a  trend hits its ‘tipping point’ and becomes less ‘alternative’ and more accepted or expected. 

Students here at Village have dyed their hair wild colors, affirming that the trend is alive and well. Nicole, a senior, first dyed her hair pink when she was sixteen years old. It then faded to an orangish color when she purposely didn’t touch it up. When asked why she wanted to dye her hair, she said she simply didn’t like her hair in its natural brunette state. She has dyed her hair nine different colors since and now does all of her dye jobs herself; she hasn’t gone to a hair salon in a very long time.

The author, Britt, with ‘Purple Rain’ hair dye.

I recently bleached my naturally dark brown hair a total of three times to prep for purple hair dye. I’ve wanted to dye my hair purple (and later ½ black, ½ white, etc.)  for a long time as I just like to change up my style sometimes, and hair color is a great way to do that. I get tired of the same old thing, and I’m not someone who needs every day to be so routine, so experimenting with hair color is a way to change things up.  I’ve been particularly inspired to attempt to rock colors different colors by my favorite YouTuber, Taylor Terminate.

So, while dyeing one’s hair comes from a paradoxical urge to both stand out and fit in, I hope it’s a cultural trend that sticks around for a while. 

Beware of “The Choking Game”

By Jessica

The Choking Game, also known as The Fainting Game, Knock-Out, Airplaning, and Space Monkey, is anything but a game. This dangerous activity is often played by preteens and teens ages 9-16 years old. Police departments and school districts everywhere have been warning parents to speak to their children about the potential hazardous effects of engagement in such behavior. In this activity, kids either practiced alone or in groups with the goal of temporarily stopping the flow of oxygen to their brains by using belts, hands, or plastic bags, in an attempt to become momentarily unconsciousness. The end goal of participation in this type of behavior is to feel a few brief seconds of euphoria, also known as a temporary high, before regaining consciousness.

But not all participants regain consciousness; recently, a New Jersey student strangled himself to death. A survey by the Erik’s Cause website cited that 93% of parents were unaware of the existence of “pass-out” activities. The website also said 90% of children heard about this kind of behavior from their friends. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this activity caused 82 fatalities from 1995 to 2007. Kids continue to engage in this lethal behavior for reasons including pressure from peers, dares, trying to gain acceptance into a social group, a free way to become intoxicated, or just simply curiosity.

Parents everywhere are encouraged to make sure their children know preventing blood from reaching the brain is not safe in any way, shape, or form. We can help put an end to this harmful activity by looking for the warning signs. It only takes three minutes for the brain to be harmed blood and oxygen are eliminated. Signs one is participating in such behavior include red eyes, bruises on the neck, disorientation, unstable mood, and periods of silence. Knots left in clothing and ropes around the household is also a warning.  As a doctor stated, “It is important for children to know about the seriousness of what can happen to their body if they experiment even on time. Any type of asphyxiation, even if temporary, may cause strokes, seizures, retinal damage, brain damage or even death.” 

April Fools!

For many, the fact that April Fools Day has just past is such a relief. This holiday comes once a year on the first day of every April, and is notorious for its pranks and cruel jokes. We have been living through this famous day for as long as we can remember, but do any of us truly know where the one day of year where nobody is safe comes from? Let’s look back at history. The origin of this day is slightly unclear, due to the fact that there are many theories regarding it. One of the most popular theories is the one including Pope George XIII, who ordered in the late 1500’s, possibly 1582, that Christian countries, particularly France, change their calendars to the Roman one. This would mean that the Julian calendar would have to be switched to the Gregorian calendar. With this alteration, the new year would be moved from its original date in the spring on April 1st to it’s new date in the winter on January 1st, which we have adopted as well for our celebration of New Year’s. Due to the fact that it was the 16th century, and there were many who resided in rural areas at the time, it took a while for news to spread that New Years had been moved. There were also those who simply refused to recognize the shift. Anyone who continued to celebrate the old New Year’s date was classified as “April Fools,” which is where we get the holiday’s name from. Spring celebrators were mocked, and had paper fish stuck onto their backs without their knowledge, which symbolized an “easy to catch fish,” or a gullible person, also called “Poisson D’Avril” in French. America is not the only country who has a day in the year specifically dedicated to silliness. India celebrates a spring festival called Holi, in which people play jokes and throw dyes at each other. Iran celebrates the holiday of Sizdah Bedar, in which pranks are also played on April 1st. According to the Museum of Hoaxes, “It’s more likely that April Fool’s Day resembles these other celebrations because they’re all manifestations of a deeper pattern of folk behavior — an instinct to respond to the arrival of spring with festive mischief and symbolic misrule,” and I couldn’t agree more with this statement.

A medieval times image of a man being tagged with a paper fish on his back

A medieval times image of a man being tagged with a paper fish on his back

Stephen Hawking Will Go to Space

Famed cosmologist and physicist Stephen Hawking will travel aboard Virgin Galactic into outer space.

The news was revealed when he was interviewed on Good Morning Britain, where he stated that Richard Branson, who founded the Virgin Group, offered to take him to space for free, and he “said yes immediately.” At 75, he will be the second-oldest person to ever travel to space, after Buzz Aldrin, who was 77 at the time of his historic trip to the moon. In addition, he will be the very first person with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) to travel to space. In most cases of ALS, affected people do not live within five years of the disease’s beginning. However, Hawking was diagnosed at 21, and although he is paralyzed, he is completely alive and well 50 years later. He communicates using a cheek muscle attached to a communication device.

Stephen Hawking is one of the most brilliant minds in the field of science.

Stephen Hawking is one of the most brilliant minds in the field of science.

In 2014, Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft, the VSS Enterprise, suffered an accident in the Mojave Desert that killed one of their pilots and injured another. Since then, they have been working to develop safer and better commercial spacecraft and hope to bring people to space via commercial flights in the near future. The date on which Hawking will go to space is currently unknown.

In the interview, he compared the joy of being able to go to space to the joy his three children bring him. He also discussed President Donald Trump, who he had called a demagogue on a previous occasion. Although America “is still a place I like and admire in many ways, I fear that I may not be welcome,” he said. He also believes that Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, should be replaced. “Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent,” he said. Trump has stated multiple times that he thinks climate change is a hoax.

Hawking’s trip to space won’t be his first time in a low-gravity environment. In 2007, he went on a zero-gravity flight on a Boeing 727 jet, which he greatly enjoyed, and he is excited to experience it again. “I thought no one would take me,” Hawking said of finally having the ability to achieve his lifelong dream.

Goldfish In Danger?

March 21st marks the first day of the vernal equinox, also known as spring in the Northern Hemisphere. To Iranians, this begins Nowruz (Translation: New Day), also known as the new year. This holiday originates from the Zoroastrian religion, dating back to the early Persian empire, and is widely celebrated by Iranians of all faiths. As part of the Persian tradition during the new year, a table is set up called Haft Seen (Translation: 7 S’s). This table typically consists of foods, which start with the letter S in the persian language (sprouts, dried fruit, apples garlic, pudding, vinegar, crushed sumac berries), as well as goldfish put in a clear bowl. Each item placed on the table symbolizes one’s wishes for the new year, such as growth, love, beauty, health, fertility, patience, and wisdom. Goldfish in particular symbolize good luck, good fortune, and life.

On March 20th, Sam Mojabi went to a local Petco shop to purchase goldfish for the holiday. When he asked a sales associate for goldfish, his ethnicity was question. Once Mojabi mentioned he was of Persian descent, the sales associate systematically denied him the sale. Shocked, he asked why, and the only response he was provided was that it was a decision made by headquarters, even after mentioning that he had intentions of taking great care of the fish. Mojabi later found out that his sister Samira was also denied the sale at another Petco location during the same month. Outraged, they filed a lawsuit with their attorney Henrik Sardarbegian for civil rights violations and a violation of the state Business and Professions Code. “During this time, Petco stores specifically declined the sale of goldfish to Persians and those of Iranian background,” the suit alleges. Petco and its management “sent out memorandum commanding its retail staff to decline the sale of such fish to Persians,” the suit also alleges. Their attorney argued, “Petco’s refusal to sell goldfish to Persians may have arisen from a mistaken belief that people intend to kill the fish. They [Persians] absolutely do not harm the fish. People want the fish to live as long as possible, because the longer a family keeps the fish alive, the more fortune and life is brought to them during the year.” Their attorney also argued that people who were not Persian were not asked their intent before being allowed to buy goldfish, specifically saying, “Right now, a 15-year-old boy who wants to buy a goldfish to feed to his snake could go and buy one.” The only response provided by Petco was, “We [Petco] have a strong commitment to animal welfare and responsible pet ownership and we do not tolerate discrimination of any sort. While we do not comment on pending litigation, we are looking into the specifics, if any, of this claim.” The Mojabi’s attorney fired back, saying that Petco’s policy also has “tended to cause discontent, animosity, harm, resentment or envy among the various cultures, and is especially troubling, arbitrary and invidious at a time when our nation and its citizens are working harder than ever to mend racial and cultural divisions across the country.”

The lawsuit was settled on October 12th, with no further details released. Petco no longer has a store policy of denying the sale of goldfish to Persians on the first day of spring. Like attorney Sardarbegian said, denying those of Iranian and Persian background the right to buy goldfish for the celebration of the Iranian New Year is “illegal and repugnant,” and is just as bad as charging women and blacks higher prices for merchandise than men and whites, or as denying sales of items to gays that heterosexuals are allowed to buy. Although there are still animal rights organizations which have objected to the tradition, claiming the fish die after the celebration due to health problems or the shock of being turned loose into streams or ponds, thankfully the holiday and its traditions of more than 3000 years are still peacefully and safely celebrated.


A woman setting up her Haftseen table as part of tradition for Nowruz

The Life & Times of Edward Norton

You’ve probably heard of Edward Norton. You probably only know him as that actor in Fight Club and Birdman and not as that philanthropist and environmental activist.

Known for his humility, he has even gone so far to say, “If I ever have to stop taking the subway, I’m gonna have a heart attack”. Edward Harrison Norton was born on August 18th, 1969 to Edward Mower Norton Jr. and Lydia Robinson. His father Edward Mower Norton Jr., was a marine lieutenant in Vietnam, an environmental lawyer and federal prosecutor under the Carter administration. His father is what inspired him to be an environmentalist.

Norton has given millions of dollars towards clean energy and charities for more affordable housing in low income communities. He is a user of solar energy and driver of a car with a hydrogen internal combustion engine vehicle. He is on the board of trustees of Enterprise Community Partners, a non-profit developer for affordable housing in his hometown and a major supporter of BP’s Solar Neighbors program. He is the president of the American branch of the Maasai Wildlife Conservation Trust. He has also appeared in ads against buying elephant ivory, the “say no” campaign.

“People say you can’t make movies about your politics, or the environment. And, generally speaking, I completely divide those sides of my brain,” says Norton. He is also very politically active. He was a major supporter of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and a staunch opponent of Donald Trump during the 2016 election. He says the reason he is so opposed to Trump is because he “cares about the future of his kids”. He also produced the HBO documentary The Election of Barack Obama: By The People. It is a documentary that follows Obama and his campaign team for the two years prior to his election.

Edward Norton is not only of of the great actors of his generation, he is also a great person and role model.

A New Calendar to Show How Far Humans Have Come

If anyone is asked what year it is, they would probably answer “2017.” But our history as humans goes much farther back than the year 0. Humans have existed for millions of years, and we have been making major achievements for thousands. What if we were to make a new calendar to accurately depict the length of our history? If so, where would we place to 0?

“Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell,” a YouTube channel run by a small group of people dedicated to producing educational “content that has value and that people actually notice and remember,” brought up this idea in a video titled “A New History for Humanity – The Human Era.” However, it has been an idea for over 20 years before this video was released. In 1993, scientist Cesare Emiliani proposed an idea of a new calendar – one that places its first year at the beginning of what he calls the “Human Era,” where we started building our world to suit our needs on top of the existing one, when we turned from hunter-gatherers to farmers. But what event marks the beginning of this “Human Era?”

Remnants of the 12,000 year old temple can still be seen today.

Ruins of the 12,000 year old temple can still be seen today.

About 12,000 years ago, hundreds of hunter-gatherers came together in the hills of Anatolia, or the area we call Turkey today, and started the world’s first construction project. Göbekli Tepe, which means “Potbelly Hill” in Turkish, was a temple made with circles of huge stone pillars, each being up to six meters tall and weighing approximately twenty tons. They were decorated with carvings of pictograms, some resembling animals and others mythical creatures. These early humans had only wood and stone tools, and knew nothing about metalworking or agriculture. To this day, we have no idea how they built this. It is believed to have been a temple dedicated to long-forgotten gods, but the one thing we know for sure is that this temple was the first of its kind.

From there, humans made huge progress that we seemingly ignore with the Gregorian calendar. It makes our history seem much shorter than it actually is. Thinking about it with this Holocene calendar, 2,000 years is just a sliver of our actual history. So, next time you look at your calendar, consider changing that year to 12,017. Don’t underestimate the extent of human history.

America’s Cutest Competition

One of the greatest highlights of Super Bowl Sunday is putting everyone’s differences aside, gathering in front of the TV, and watching a bunch of puppies run around a tiny football field. While some may enjoy watching actual humans play football, others choose to watch the canine version, known as the Puppy Bowl. The Puppy Bowl began in 2005 and was originally conceived to be like the Yule Log, filming puppies playing around with dog toys in a small football field for twelve straight hours. However, the program garnered an unexpected 5.8 million viewers. Since then, the Puppy Bowl went from a simple program to a full-on annual event, and went through many changes. For example, the Puppy Bowl is still aired on Animal Planet for twelve hours, but much of that time is spent on the pregame or on replaying the Bowl. It is initially aired from 3 to 5 p.m. so that it does not conflict with the Super Bowl. Many new features have been added throughout the years, such as the Kitten Halftime Show, a Dairy Queen-sponsored Kiss Cam, animal cheerleaders (such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chickens), a live-tweeting bird named Meep, and competition between Teams Ruff and Fluff, which has been in place for three years so far. It is also sponsored by many companies, from Geico to Subaru to Pedigree. The Bowl is pre-recorded three months in advance and shot for two full days, so what viewers see on television is only the best of what happened during the shoot. Nowadays, the event often gets over ten million viewers each year and is one of Animal Planet’s most-watched events.

Teams Ruff and Fluff compete in the Puppy Bowl XIII.

This year, the Puppy Bowl made significant history in many ways. Team Fluff ended Team Ruff’s two-year winning streak, beating them for the first time with an unprecedented ninety-three points. Tucker, an Australian Shepherd mix and the captain of Team Fluff, took home the Lombarky Trophy, one of the many new additions of this year’s Bowl. Some other new features included mascots for each of the teams (a screech owl for Ruff and a chinchilla for Fluff) and the inclusion of three dogs with special needs: Winston, a hearing and sight impaired Australian Shepherd; Doobert, a deaf English Pointer; and Lucky, a three-legged terrier who was also the recipient of the Underdog Award. A Cocker Spaniel/Bichon Frise mix named Nikita also made history by becoming the first dog to use the referee’s flag to score a touchdown, and she also scored two other touchdowns and one field goal. She was a strong contender for MVP (Most Valuable Pup), yet lost to a Poodle mix named Rory who scored three touchdowns early on in the game.

All of the puppies that participate in the Puppy Bowl are living in either shelters or foster homes and are seeking a “forever home.” The ultimate goal is to get all of the participating puppies adopted every year, and oftentimes this goal has been achieved. This year, Animal Planet has brought attention to dogs with special needs, reminding viewers that they are no less worthy of adoption than their able-bodied peers. Although most of the dogs who compete have already been adopted before the Bowl airs, people can still adopt their siblings if they are still available for adoption. But overall, adopting any puppy from a shelter is important. When Animal Planet puts adorable, adoptable puppies on the small screen, it raises awareness of animal adoption and prompts people to adopt dogs in need of a loving home.