Indivisible…Story by Leah Roth

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The Pledge of Allegiance. Thirty-one historical words we say every morning, but how often do you stop and think about what they mean? We say our nation is indivisible;

I Pledge Allegiance… Students at FBCS gather to salute our American heritage. Photo by: Leah Roth
I Pledge Allegiance… Students at FBCS gather to salute our American heritage. Photo by: Leah Roth

however, the year 2016 saw our country grow more divided than it’s been in a long time. Mostly due to the Presidential race and elections, we have witnessed friendships and families being torn apart by opinions. During times like this, it’s a constant battle between “I should stand up for what I believe in” and “My opinion won’t change anything,” so how do we choose?

According to Mr. Bigley, a high school English teacher here at FBCS, an argument is quote, “An intellectual conversation between two opposing points of view, in which each person is prepared with evidence to support their side of the argument.” There is no name-calling or bias here, merely an exchange of facts. This is where most people go wrong when discussing politics. They are judging or being judged based on a black and white spectrum. “Trump supporters are racist/sexist/stupid,” “People who voted for Hillary are blind feminists,” and many other insulting statements like these have been said without a second thought. However, it’s extremely unfair to group people by what they believe.

“I dreaded my social studies class, because 95% of my fellow students had the opposite opinion of mine, and I would have to sit through their hurtful, blanketed statements about people who believe what I do,” a student said last trimester, during the especially rough weeks leading up to and following the election. Now, with the impending inauguration, political tensions are rising once again. But how can we guard ourselves against the barrage of hate and anger bound to come our way? Set an example. Martin Luther King Jr. once

A War Between Us… We shouldn’t let opinions drive our country apart. Photo by: Leah Roth
A War Between Us… We shouldn’t let opinions drive our country apart. Photo by: Leah Roth

said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Everyone has their own beliefs and opinions, which should be respected, regardless of whether or not you agree with them.

Instead of arguing amongst ourselves, perhaps Americans should look past their differences and come together to celebrate a historic event. “I think that this is a time in which we should all stand together as one,” Geraldo Rivera said in an interview with Fox News (which I would cite, but the video is blocked). So, as we watch the much dreaded and anticipated inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America, let us not grumble about it. We are America, and only united can we stand. Divided, we most certainly will fall.

Fire and Ice, not so Hot After all…Story by Natalie Faris

Student council tried to play with fire but was frozen right in its tracks.

It has long been an idea floating in the suggestion box to have a fire and ice themed winter dance. When it was first brought up 3 years

Alone on the City Bench…Like the story of an old country song, the Fire and Ice dance has abandoned us, left us high and dry, with nothing but those few dollars that it almost got away with. Photo by Lauren Stidham
Alone on the City Bench…Like the story of an old country song, the Fire and Ice dance has abandoned us, left us high and dry, with nothing but those few dollars that it almost got away with. Photo by Lauren Stidham

ago, the theme was discarded and never came to life. Perhaps that is how it should have stayed.

Last trimester, student council meticulously planned out the dance from the start. The original idea was to have a Snowflake Ball, like other winter dances in the past. However, it was decided to introduce a relaxed, semi-formal, themed dance. A few ideas were mentioned, but Fire and Ice emerged from the ashes like a sudden cold front.

Immediately, the Student Council began preparations, handcrafting a large string of snowflakes and fire blazes, the snowflakes each having above a foot and a half diameter. Before long, the theme

What is Color with no Purpose?...The Student Council made beautiful, large, and vividly colored decorations that shall never be used…unless Fire and Ice makes a comeback. Photo by Lauren Stidham
What is Color with no Purpose?…The Student Council made beautiful, large, and vividly colored decorations that shall never be used…unless Fire and Ice makes a comeback. Photo by Lauren Stidham

started to really grow on some people. Excitement grew as music was selected, tickets were sold, and plans were made.

Among the excitement, a storm brewed, or rather a cold front. Nobody could do anything but throw on another layer as frigid temperatures engulfed Sandpoint and the surrounding areas during the week of the dance. Black ice formed on the roads, and cutting winds dominated wherever they touched. Student Council made the choice to reschedule the dance for the sake of our safety.

But Fire and Ice wasn’t quite done burning yet. During the first week back from winter break, Student Council hurried to pull together all of the plans and decorations that still seemed frozen from where they left off. The dance was scheduled to light up on Friday the 13th, but the plans went down in flames. Due to requests for ticket refunds and lack of sufficient funding, the dance was sadly canceled

Dreams of Fire, Hearts of Ice…Excited dreams of this year’s first school dance were planted, yet soon afterward uprooted because of the expenses. Photo by Lauren Stidham
Dreams of Fire, Hearts of Ice…Excited dreams of this year’s first school dance were planted, yet soon afterward uprooted because of the expenses. Photo by Lauren Stidham

once again.

There was a silence over the student body when the news was announced by our President, Emily Hieronymus. Perhaps we were all thinking the same thing: “Is this the last we shall see of fire and ice? Shall it come again, giving us the hope of a warm joy, but only to leave us soon afterward with nothing but the bitter cold of frostbite?”

Maybe next time Student Council will think twice before playing with fire.

ISIS Stronghold: Battle of Mosul… Story by Isaac Solly

In Iraq, government forces are continuing on an offensive to retake Mosul, the second largest city in the country. Occupied by ISIS since June of 2014, the city is of great strategic and symbolic importance for either side of the conflict.

In November, ISIS fighters had been forced from the neighborhoods surrounding the city and into street conflict. Advances slowed down from there on, but have been largely successful. The coalition forces vastly outnumber the militants holding the city, yet each side has lost around 2,000 wounded or killed.

On Jan. 14, Iraqi forces retook the university on the eastern bank, which was being used as an ISIS base of operations. This, along with US air strikes disabling the militants supply routes across the Tigris River is building pressure on the east bank defenders—only two

Iraqi Special Forces... A soldier displays his weapon near the recently recaptured Mosul University. Photo By: www.cbc.ca, Ahmed Saad
Iraqi Special Forces... A soldier displays his weapon near the recently recaptured Mosul University. Photo By: www.cbc.ca, Ahmed Saad

bridges are ISIS controlled, and both are somewhat disabled. However, this is sure to stall the offensive well into February in order to merely clear out the east bank of the Tigris.

The offensive is long overdue—it has been over two and a half years since Mosul’s capture. Iraq’s military was severely weakened in 2014, and needed reorganization. Not only this, but the government was forced to prioritize removing the threat to Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. Last June saw the government’s recapture of Fallujah, and gave Iraq the initiative to move on Mosul.

Kurdish “Peshmerga” forces are also in the process of advancing towards Tal Afar, to the west of Mosul. Tal Afar is infamous for staunch supporters of ISIS and the local extremism. These attacks divert ISIS militants from reinforcing Mosul, and essentially cuts off the 50km-wide area from other ISIS held territory. Kurdish military forces are semi-autonomous and act in limited conjunction with other Iraqi troops. Kurds are also backed by the US, and have fought ISIS since August of 2014.

Since mid-October, just over 148,000 civilians have fled their homes in Mosul, and humanitarians warn that number could reach up to a million displaced. There are also sporadic water shortages in parts of eastern Mosul, and widespread trauma cases. The situation is also deteriorating in ISIS controlled western-Mosul and along the corridor to Tal Afar, with food shortages and limited electricity. Over 750,000 civilians are present in these areas.

ISIS has prepared multiple barricades along the entrances to western Mosul, from both the south and on bridgeheads, and also clearing several buildings in order to gain preferable line of sight. There are also staunch pro-ISIS neighborhoods in the western bank,

A Slow Grind... Iraqi forces seize control of bridges and University in east Mosul, but considerable militants remain. Photo By: www.bbc.com, HIS Conflict Monitor
A Slow Grind… Iraqi forces seize control of bridges and University in east Mosul, but considerable militants remain. Photo By: www.bbc.com, HIS Conflict Monitor

and a denser population than the larger east. These factors guarantee a long struggle forwards, and ensure that ISIS is unlikely to be rooted out until mid-spring.

Should Iraq recapture its second most populous city, the problems would not end there. There is still a sharp divide between the Sunni and Shia populations in the country, and Mosul’s liberation would only highlight these internal problems. However, it would immensely diminish ISIS influence in Northwest Iraq, and set up the stage for a final push into ISIS-controlled Syria.