Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What It’s Like To Be Me


By: Zachary James Brounstein

I’m not like every other student at North Warren. In every possible way, everyone is different and we all have our own characteristics; but me, I consider special. A rare breed. I’m attracted to men. There’s a thousand terms and ways to say it or beat around the bush, but at the end of the day that's who I am. It doesn’t define me or change my demeanor. I play video games, watch football with my family, and love spending my time with the my guy friends on the weekends. So even though I am different, I don't want to be treated that way.

Even from a young age my family knew. It seemed that everyone knew but me, and that wasn’t so easy. Before I went into elementary school my parents had noticed a change in me. I would say things like, “Something's wrong, I’m not supposed to be born this way” or “Why aren’t I like the other kids?”

My parents didn’t know what to do. My father, being a Jewish man, and my mother, being a Catholic woman, called a specialist who said it was either a phase I would grow out of or I would figure myself out. My aunts and uncles would tell my parents that they couldn’t fuel the fire. If I wanted a barbie doll they had to say no and teach me the ways of being like a boy, as sad as that is. But one Christmas, my parents listened to their advice and got me cars and a baseball with a glove and bat, but I cried. I personally don’t remember the details, but my mother and father agreed that it was a day that made them feel like they failed as parents. Apparently I cried so hard and asked my mother, “Why would Santa do this to me? He is supposed to know what I want.” After that Christmas my parents swore to let me be whoever I was, and I know I was an accident, but their decision wasn’t.  

In Blairstown Elementary I was bullied for how I dressed, how I acted, and for being different. I would come home every day in tears crying to my mom, “Why do they judge me? Why are they so mean?” And she would hold me to her chest and let me cry. I hated waking up and heading to a place where I wasn’t welcomed. The problem was I didn’t know why. I was not old enough to know anything about sexual attraction and true love. I dated a girl for almost three years, but you know about elementary school relationships, they don't really count, it's just what kids do. Whilst being with a girl, I never felt attracted to her and we were best friends. She didn’t judge me or question me. After we ‘broke up’ in sixth grade, I came to North Warren with a fresh start. I was sick of the tears and over with the mean kids who ridiculed me day by day.

But seventh grade wasn’t all too easy. I still was not a friend to many, which was good I guess, but truthfully I felt lonely. Even now, four years since seventh grade, I feel lonely. There wasn’t much going on for me during middle school, but the bullies were still around, lurking, their words damaging. Whomever came up with that saying that words don’t hurt you was dumb. Words sting like a burn from a hot surface, or maybe even a fire; either way the feeling can go away, but the memory remains. A scar forms. And I am covered in scars now, each word like a cut, but I know that the people who brought me down are the only reason I learned to stand up. I told people who I was.

There was never an ‘aha’ moment for me, I just thought about it, and I liked boys. That's just how it is, and almost five years later, I am proud I came out. I told friends, few and far, and my family, who were for the most part accepting. I can’t control minds and make people understand. Living in a somewhat conservative area like Blairstown, word travels fast and not everyone is supportive.

I had guy friends; they vanished. I had bullies; they vanished. And I’m glad I lost the bullies and the close-minded folk because they wouldn’t see me for who I am. Being gay is a big part of my life, but it is no defining feature or characteristic, it's my sexual orientation and that's all. Those guy friends I lost left because they couldn’t bear the thought of me near them and that's not okay. Everyone has a right to speak their mind and follow their beliefs, but there is a fear among heterosexual males of homosexual males. I do not know if it is because they cannot comprehend the idea or if they think I will make a move on them.

To the heterosexual males, I am not going to hit on you, I am not going to make moves on you because the truth to it all is I’m not attracted to you. Just because I like boys doesn’t mean I like you. I understand you’re heterosexual and I don’t like you, for that very reason. It's the same reason you aren’t attracted to every girl you see, because you have a type, mine just happens to be homosexuals.

To the close-minded, I know you are among the student body and I’ve met many close-minded individuals, and whatever I say will not change your thoughts. You’ve never been malicious or made comments to my face and if you say things behind my back, you’re behind my back for a reason. Freedom of speech is an amendment and I know that. I accept that, I just wish you’d accept me.

All I desire at the end of the day is acceptance from my peers at North Warren. And many individuals are kind and honest and I have made many friends that I love so dearly. Being gay at North Warren isn’t scary, and it isn’t something that truly bothers me. In all honesty, it's lonely. And I do not expect everyone to read this article and think Oh wow, Zach is so lonely, I want to be his friend, but instead think about the people around you. Everyone is fighting battles and we all have reasons for the way we act and think, and you should reach out, be open-minded, and do not be afraid of someone who isn’t you.    

Retro Girl Album Review: Soundgarden’s Superunknown

By: Arianna Grewal

When Soundgarden released Superunknown in March of 1994, Cornell’s new look emerged. His long hair cut off and bare chest now covered in shirts was symbolic to the band’s goal to “deliver maximal effect with minimal histrionics,” as said by Pitchfork. Superunknown was Soundgarden’s late rise to fame as they finally made their way to the top. Songs on the album such as Black Hole Sun and My Wave became crowd anthems as Soundgarden became the new face of grunge. Compared to their fellow grunge bands, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, who both desperately attempted to fade out from the spotlight, Soundgarden did not mind their official Seattle Scene status. However, although Superunknown was the perfect example of what a mainstream 90s grunge song sounded like, Soundgarden was able to achieve this sound without surrendering their original image and identity.

Superunknown was surely Soundgarden’s most successful album for a reason, winning two Grammys and certified platinum five times.  Soundgarden’s punk influences in previous albums like Badmotorfinger are replaced with a more psychedelic sound. Songs such as “Black Hole Sun” and “Head Down” are even Beatles influenced. According to band member, Thayll, “When you really look deep inside of Soundgarden, there's a little Ringo wanting to get out."  The band also utilizes odd time signatures in many of the songs which offers a unique sound. The unusual time signatures were often accidental since they were not even considered until the song was written.  The album features problems of substance abuse, depression, and suicide which make for rather grim lyrics.  Cornell, inspired by Sylvia Plath, explained the background for some of the dark songs saying that “Let Me Drown” is about “crawling back to the womb to die and "The Day I Tried to Live" is about "trying to step out of being patterned and closed off and reclusive.”

The album, a new and diversified sound, makes way for an even different sound in their 1996 album Down on The Upside. Soundgarden produced an album with such substance that even the heaviest songs sound vivid and bold. The album remains an emblem of grunge in the 90s. Despite his death earlier this year, Cornell continues to somehow remain through his music, or as he once said, “aliiive in the Superunknown!”

from The Diary of a 2017 Marching Band Member: NWR’s Big Win

By: Sam Liegner

I stood with my 13 other seniors at my side, waiting for our category’s score. When they announced Group 3 Open’s rankings, my best friend grabbed my hand. We stood there, awaiting the scores with anticipation. Third place was given to the band to our right. I heard a sigh of relief from my peers. Second place was up next. Our biggest competitors stood to our left. My best friend and I squeezed each other’s hands as hard as we could, eyes pinched closed. The announcer spoke out the high school’s name that placed second. It was not ours. My jaw dropped and I was at a loss for words.

“Did we just win?”

I looked over at my instructor and band director and they were glowing. Then I looked over to the band. There were so many mixed emotions. People were trying to hold in tears and others were letting their emotions take over and accepted the tears flowing down their faces. At that moment, I knew that all those long, dragging hours of practice were worth it. The blood, sweat, and tears all paid off in the end, all the nights that we stayed late to practice, the times Mr. Z roasted someone in front of the entire band. Everything paid off the minute we stepped on that field. Everything from that moment on was magical. Eyes with pride, NWRMB.




from Humans of North Warren: Relatable Harry Pawter Fans Amongst the Faculty?

By: Zachary James Brounstein

Being a student at North Warren Regional High School, I am victim to thinking a teacher is maliciously after me and happy to see me fail. Most students are under the impression that faculty is out to get them, desiring to see them not reach the dreams that maybe the teachers couldn’t reach themselves, but this isn’t the case. I, at least, hope it's not.

In many cases of this strange thinking, the students are either not trying or maybe just too stubborn to ask for help. From experience, I know the gut churning feeling of being wrong and knowing that help is needed. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but sometimes it is necessary. I always found reading and writing to be my most awful areas of school; Every English Teacher was out to get me, and I swore each assignment was made to damage my grade in the class.  Yet, at the end of the day, these teachers were challenging me.  And even now, I can confidently admit that they did teach me. They showed me more things than I ever needed to know and it was all because I accepted I needed help. I acknowledged my failure and was sick of that feeling a bad grade brought me, so I did what I had to and opened up to my seventh grade english teacher. She wasn’t the villain in my hero story and actually became one of my best friends!

My interview with Mr. Bradley, the new Mathematics Teacher (Yes, the one with the man bun.), reminded me of my seventh grade English Teacher. I sat down with Mr. Bradley on Wednesday, the twelfth of September. He’d only been teaching at the school for almost two weeks and I was already pestering the man with an interview. Although some people may disagree with posing questions about a teacher’s private life, I found the experience as a whole, eye opening. I felt that when speaking with Mr. Bradley, he wasn't afraid to share his personal information or even deny answering one of my questions.  This was a surprise to me because some of my talking points may have been pushing my boundaries, but after all, that is the art of journalism.

“Have you ever been through a traumatic experience?” I had asked him in the almost too quiet media center. “If so, how’d you grow from it?”

He answered honestly, talking of past experiences he had with loss while still offering up the learning curve and wisdom that comes with the incidents; “Being close to the people I love helped me through those sort of things.” After hearing it from him, the words resonated and stuck with me. It seems strange, but hearing the different stories that people have to tell can really show you who they are. It can make a seemingly quiet gentlemen seem like a ball of wisdom. It all happened with one question.

Regardless of the question just posed, our interview wasn’t all seriousness. When asked about any loved ones, Mr. Bradley was quick to tell me, “Yeah, I guess, I’m technically single. I live with my cat, Dillon-named after Bob Dillon- and my cat Bella, who I didn’t name, but is named after Bellatrix from the Harry Potter series.”  I was pleased to hear that he is a big fan of the infamous book series. But all aside, I had come to know a lot about Mr. Bradley in one short, simple interview. He, and many of the other teachers working at North Warren, aren’t monsters maliciously failing you. They’re real people with lives and stories to tell. This past year, Mr. Bradley had taken his favorite journey. Starting from San Diego, he backpacked (with a van) up the coast stopping in different places and sleeping on different beaches. He took in the amazing views as he traveled all the way up to Oregon. This experience for him was amazing, as it should be for anyone, and hearing him tell of the adventure is what makes me relate to him, as you should to him, or any other teacher in North Warren.


We are all people with different lives and stories and experiences to tell about. We each have our own wisdom and shouldn’t be afraid to ask for someone else's. So, finish that homework assignment you might procrastinating from, or maybe grade those papers sitting in the corner of your desk, but tomorrow come to school ready to be you. Don’t look at your teachers in fear of their curses, but instead be open and try to start a conversation. Because at the end of the day, they are here to help you learn and teach you to be the best you you can be.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Stand or Kneel: It’s Your Choice

By: Alexa Tironi


I have never cared much about football. To be honest I’d rather watch paint dry than sit through an entire game of 200-pound men running into each other, over and over again. But when Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, took a knee during the National Anthem and the twitterverse exploded, my interest was piqued. Kaepernick first knelt for the anthem back in August during a preseason game; however the effect of his actions didn’t reach full scale until the President decided to weigh in. On September 24th, 2017, Donald Trump tweeted, “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

It seems the President is also unfamiliar with the NFL handbook, because nowhere in those pages does it say anything about the conduct required during the playing of the Anthem; so to fire or suspend these players for kneeling would be without cause. Later that day, Trump also tweeted, “NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.”...Looks like CNN isn’t the only one with plummeting ratings, apparently the most watched sport in America is also suffering. This was not the end of the President’s rant. At a rally in Alabama, Trump continued his comments saying  “wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, get that son of a b---- off the field right now. He’s fired. He’s fired!” That’s right. The President had to be bleeped. After this statement, the situation was really set ablaze.

In response to Trump’s comments, many more NFL players began to kneel during the anthem. The public turned to Kaepernick looking for an explanation for his actions. This is what he said: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." This statement led to extreme backlash from some Americans. Many claim that as a man of wealth and high social standing, he has no right to speak of oppression. To these people: you have missed the whole point. Kaepernick does not kneel for a personal oppression or the racism he faces. He kneels to represent those who have no voice. He kneels for the people who society ignores. Colin Kaepernick has been gifted with a platform to which he can use to raise awareness. That is what he is doing, and guess what? It’s his constitutional right.

Because we live in a country where we have the freedom to speak our minds and believe what we want, this means that nobody must stand for the pledge. It is our first amendment right to assemble freely- which leads to the right to peaceful protest. Kaepernick and any of his fellow kneelers are not breaking any laws, just merely exercising their rights as Americans. To address those who feel that refusing to stand for the flag means disrespecting the country and our troops: those brave men and women who fight for America are fighting for our rights. In summation, they are fighting for the Constitution and the principles it enforces. These people are fighting for the American people’s right to choose whether they stand or sit.

A majority of America (it seems) think that to kneel before the flag is disrespectful. That may be so, but do you know what else is disrespectful? The fact that 210 black people have been killed by police in 2017. The fact that black women and women of color make 59 cents to the white male dollar. And the fact that people in KKK uniforms stormed the streets of Charlottesville, barely three months ago, and were called “very fine people” by the President. These people have been told not to march, told not to yell, told not to fight back, and now, told not to kneel.

To stand or kneel, it is your choice. And that’s the thing about America and this country. We claim to be the country with all of these unalienable rights. And if that’s true, then these players who kneel, and any American who chooses to do so, have broken no law, and should not receive any punishment. It’s time we start proving the last line of the anthem that we hold so dearly. We are the land of the free. So let’s act like it.


Sources:



Monday, October 16, 2017

The Cookies and Milk Column

Egg-less Cookie Dough
By: Sam Liegner


Summer has come and gone but the temperature is still raging on. If you have a sweet tooth but don’t want to use the hot oven, then this recipe is for you! It’s a small, simple recipe to share with a friend or to keep a generous helping for yourself. Everyone loves cookie dough, but it’s unsafe to consume raw egg. So here’s a crowd favorite EDIBLE cookie dough, free of egg products! Just pour yourself a glass of cold milk and treat yourself to an awesome after-school snack or dessert treat!

Ingredients:
  • ¼ c brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 2 T. butter (softened)
  • ⅛ t. of salt
  • ⅛ t. vanilla
  • 1 T. milk (substitute with almond or soy if needed)
  • 5 T. all purpose flour
  • 2 T. Chocolate chips

Supplies:
  • Medium-sized bowl
  • Measuring spoons (tablespoons and teaspoons)
  • Spoon
  • Reusable tupperware container

Instructions:
  1. Cream brown sugar and butter together in bowl until soft.
  2. Add vanilla and salt to the mixture and combine well. Then add milk or milk substitute.
  3. Slowly combine flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix well. Repeat until all flour is thoroughly incorporated.
  4. Finally, add the chocolate chips and you have an easy made snack!

* Friendly tip: Put the dough in the tupperware to save the sweet snack for a later day. Dough should be consumed within 3 days. *

The Exchange Column: Who is Fred?

By: Fred Amorim




Frederico Amorim is a 17-year-old guy who loves soccer and DJ-ing. He is also an exchange student sponsored by Rotary International, and is originally from Sorocaba, a big city right next to Sao Paulo in Brazil.


I’m Fred. Nice to meet you!


From this moment on, I would like to share with you a little bit about myself, how life is in my home country, and tell you about my experiences in the US during this year while I spend time among all of you here at North Warren.


To have the opportunity to come to this country for a year, I had to fight very hard. It all began when a 4-year-old boy discovered that he had cousins that lived here in the US. This boy was blown away when he realized that the world was not just the city that he was born in. That boy was me. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to live in the United States. This became not just my biggest objective, but my deepest dream.


Growing up, I was never rich. My family couldn’t really afford a regular exchange program, but in 2015, a very special organization came into my life. Rotary was the only way that my family and I could afford to keep on dreaming. But to be accepted by Rotary in my city is a very tough process. Around 90 high school students go through many interviews and tests that the elder Rotarians review to determine the 25 best students who deserve to be sponsored.


I originally began this process in 2015, and passed the tests, coming in 9th place. The chance to come here became a very big possibility. But in March of 2016, I experienced one of the saddest moments of my entire life. The day to choose a country for my exchange year had come, and I found out, specifically in that year, the US didn’t have a spot for anyone from my Rotary district. I could have gone to any other country, but my heart had already chosen the US, and I felt like this country had also chosen me.


I still had one more year to try and go through the Rotary process again, and so I did. Last November, I found out that I had passed the Rotary test again, this time in 8th place, and in late February of this year, my dream finally became a reality. I was chosen to pick the first of four spots for the United States. I spent 13 years of my life dreaming, and that was the best thing that I could have ever done.


To all of you at North Warren, I would like to thank you for accepting me in your country, especially the ones who have been extremely supportive of me so far and I could not be more thankful. You are the ones responsible for my adaptation process to a new school and a new life in a different country. You are really making a huge difference in my life and helping the dream of a 4-year-old Brazilian boy become a very happy reality. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I will see you next time for more facts about my exchange life!


Editor's Note:

As Fred embarks on a new journey in his life, as a student in America, he will be sharing with you his cultural background, stories, and experiences. Fred's enthusiasm to be here in America is a reminder to us all, the opportunities we have here in the U.S. As much as Fred is grateful to have the American experience, we are just as lucky to have the opportunity to learn about Fred and his culture. His next article will feature the geography of Brazil. I know I am looking forward to seeing the world through Fred's eyes, and I hope you too will enjoy learning about him through his column.