The Bird Eye News is back again and ready for the 2017-18 year. For our first report we introduce you to a new teacher, Mr. Benage. He is a math teacher and our new personal finance teacher at the school. In this interview we discuss his recently formed leadership club and how it has taken the tasks of the our cancelled student council.
With every school year comes an influx of new faces, and often we don’t take the time to say hi. The Bird Eye News recently interviewed some of these new students and here are a few of their responses.
Question 1: What was your first impression of our High School?
Freshman Thomas Carty: “My first impression of when I first arrived was amazement. Compared to the Sandpoint High School which I had considered, I was very impressed. The overall layout and openness of The Forrest Bird Charter School makes it fell very relaxing and comforting in contrast to the claustrophobic halls of the standard High School.”
Sophomore Lydia Martin: “My first impression was quite good. I like the teachers and I enjoy all my classes. The people are pretty nice and I look forward to making some new friends.”
Question 2: Why did you decide to come to FBCS?
Freshman Lucy Lang: “I have been homeschooled for the last few years, and my parents decided I should go to Charter School for High School.”
Freshman Reese Litster: “They have a very specific teaching style that I liked, and I wanted to come here and be a part of that teaching system.”
Freshman Tracy Mullinax: “I came here because I went to a very small school back in California, so I am used to smaller schools, and Sandpoint High is definitely bigger than here.”
Question 3: What is something interesting about you?
Sophomore Griffin Smith: “I slept with my door open from 8 to 11 years old because I was scared the snake from Harry Potter was going to kill me.”
Freshman Jeremy Trantum: “Interesting things about me: I am really good at fixing most small motor vehicles. I am good at coding, computers and programming robots. I am really good at riding dirt bikes and taking them apart and putting them together.”
Junior Eliza Litster: “I lived in the Dominican Republic for three months a couple of years ago.”
On behalf of everyone here at Forrest Bird Charter School, I’d like to welcome you all to our school! We hope you enjoy your time with us!
As school electives near the hard due date, the course material is obviously getting more in depth, and the subject at hand become important. Mr. Webber’s conspiracy class is the most eye-drawing elective, and probably the schools most iconic one, merely because of the controversial content in the class.
With all the conspiracies surrounding the most recent disasters, the conspiracy class likely is booming with tons of theories. However, some may argue that conspiracy is not right to teach in school for many reasons. It could be used with offensive intent against particular students, despite being unlikely.
Also, theories thought up by one student can disagree with another’s beliefs. For example, there are many creation of the earth theories—a religious person might take offense to such a theory because it contradicts their beliefs. Mr. Webber seems to try and stay to the “worst” theories out there to limit disagreement, and then allow students to explore other ones through independent and EAD assignments.
A conspiracy class, on the other hand is an elective that kids seem to enjoy more than other electives, resulting in students grades likely being better than an elective that was less engaging. Surveys showed that students enjoyed conspiracy theories class on average more than other electives, regardless of their performance in the class.
However, knowing conspiracy theories is almost certainly less practical information compared to classes such as emergency services, another elective at the school. Conspiracy theories usually deals with fringe or extremist beliefs and cults, debunking them in class.This could lead some to argue that a different elective would be more attractive to students because of practicality.
People who were interviewed maintained that conspiracy theories should be taught in school. Joseph Fullerton said they would consider it as an alternative to other electives because conspiracies are something they could just do on their own time, a view that seemed to be shared by most of the class.
Overall, any potential critics of Mr. Webber or the classes intentions would go against the students who signed up for the elective, and there is no shortage of students, it seems.
There is an air of excitement when you first walk into our school Interact Club. Though it was just formed last year, you can tell it’s already gaining momentum. Now, what exactly is Interact Club? Interact is a student driven community service organization that is connected to Rotary. They believe in “service before self.”
Last Wednesday was the first meeting, and around 13 people were in attendance. An opportunity came up for the club to work with Family Summit to serve soup on October 26th. The funds from this will go back to the club to do more service based projects.
There are hundreds of Rotary clubs in our country, and thousands of Interact Clubs. Representatives from the Sandpoint and Ponderay Rotary clubs were attending the first meeting last Wednesday. Debbie, the representative from Sandpoint Rotary said, “Together the two rotaries have 200 of your “best cheerleaders” here to support you in whatever type of service you can dream up, whether it be a service trip to Mexico in the spring or sending tennis shoes to Ethiopia. They’re here to help make that happen.”
You may be thinking, what can I get out of that? There’s so much joy in serving others. Really what it’s all about is giving. “Everything is do able,” said Lindsay Holland when answering an inquiring about busy scheduling, “If your heart is wanting to serve then we can find a place for you. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t make every event. There are so many other things you can do if your heart is wanting to do it.”
This is a year-long club, but you can join at any time. They do encourage you to stay because they are constantly working on service projects. The nice part about Interact Club is that it meets Wednesdays and club day is Thursday, giving you the ability to join 2 clubs. However students must make-up the CIS Wednesday Advisory assignment on their own time.
Debbie said, “We need your ideas, first and foremost, and that counts. It doesn’t cost any money to join but you need to have your heart in service before self. Ask yourself that question. Can you bring yourself every Wednesday morning to this meeting prepared to contribute with your ideas and energy? Then you’re an interactor at heart and we need you and we want you.”
Interact Club is a great way to give back to your community and meet likeminded people. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, then come check it out on Wednesdays during advisory in the Sunshine room.
The Forrest Bird Charter School has received two new staff members this year. One new staff member is Mr. John Stevens, the new history teacher. Mr. Stevens has had experience as a substitute and student teacher, but this is his first year as a full time teacher.
Growing up, Mr. Stevens had always enjoyed school. When he was younger he had thought about becoming a geologist or a paleontologist. “Loved the dinosaurs; a Land Before Time kid,” puts Mr. Stevens. As the new history teacher, Mr. Stevens is extremely passionate about his job. Even as a kid he preferred to watch the History Channel over other TV shows.
In high school, Mr. Stevens struggled as in the middle of his high school career he became homeless. “Mom left; dad was struggling. There were some times when I tried to reconnect with my dad, but we were living in a rundown house with holes and no running water or electricity,” explains Mr. Stevens. Due to the condition of his father’s house, he often couch-surfed. Before the start of Mr. Stevens’ Junior year of college, his father’s house burnt down. After Mr. Stevens had graduated from Lewis-Clark State College in December of 2015, he got a place of his own.
Before Mr. Stevens became a teacher he worked as a janitor during his time in college. As well as working as a janitor he did yard maintenance and started student and substitute teaching. When asked why he decided to be a teacher he talked about how helpful his teachers had been during his troubling years of high school. “I love the idea of helping others; I always have. I also love history, so those two connected and made it a really easy choice for me to want to be a teacher,” stated Mr. Stevens.
Just like anyone else, Mr. Stevens has a life outside of school. Mr. Stevens described his hobbies with the opening statement, “Any student who knows me already they’ll find out really quickly I’m a huge nerd. I love Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and I like anime too.” Magic, the card game, is one of Mr. Stevens’ favorite things and he has been playing for a very long time. Mr. Stevens is the new advisor to the Magic club at FBCS and is willing to teach anyone who wants to know how to play. Mr. Stevens used to be into the card games YUGIOH and Pokémon as well. Other than participating in Magic tournaments, in his free time, Mr. Stevens also loves to experience nature and goes on walks and hikes.
Mr. Stevens is an important member of FBCS and the community. He is charismatic and friendly and hopes to have a good year teaching. As a new teacher, he hopes to leave a mark of “history” on those he teaches.
All Photos by Aurora Reishus.
The southern part of the United States has been hammered twice within the past three weeks with torrential rain, violent winds, and engulfing floods. The first visitor was Hurricane Harvey which landed in Texas on August 25, 2017 and throughout its stay it has caused critical loss. Millions have been without electricity, running water, and homes. Over 136,000 buildings have been flooded and demolished by water and rain resulting in billions of dollars in damages.
The hurricane, which dumped more than 50 inches of rain, has caused cities that were once abundant to be reduced to nothing but murky water and debris. Not only have people lost their homes, but also friends and family. The total death toll is now up to 70 people and will continue to rise as the floodwaters recede.
Another major disaster that has swept Texas is the loss of cattle to the flood waters. Cattle is such an immense industry in Texas, plus the fact that most ranchers don’t ensure their livestock. The cattle owners could be in debt hundreds of thousands of dollars. Is this loss of livestock going to affect meat prices? David Anderson, an A&M professor and agriculture economist said that he doesn’t expect the losses to affect meat prices, because the number of cattle lost in Harvey won’t be enough to impact the national beef market, which is expected to yield a record amount next year.
Not long after Harvey hit Texas and parts of Louisiana, Hurricane Irma hit Florida, Alabama and South Carolina. Like Harvey, Irma has caused millions more to be without homes and has also caused over billions of dollars in damages. People are without power because of falling trees and high winds. Thankfully, it has been downgraded to a tropical storm but not without causing a lot of chaos.
The total death toll is a staggering 68–32 of those people in America, the rest being in the Caribbean. The Caribbean is struggling right now as food and supplies are running low and people have no place to go. Since homes are vacant because of people being evacuated, others have been arrested for looting homes and businesses.
It is going to take years and cost billion upon billions of dollars to repair what has been lost. The government has donated millions for relief, but even with that money will we ever recover from this catastrophe?
As students get back into their school routines, at least one aspect of the day is sure to be different than last year, as class times have been adjusted to add a total of 15 minutes to each day. Starting school 5 minutes earlier at 7:55 and finishing 5 minutes later, at 3:15 made up for this. The rest of the added time came from student lunch period, reducing it to 25 minutes.
Period timing is now somewhat changed from last year, but not by more than 3 minutes per class (which is about the time between classes anyway), so it is unlikely that there will be far reaching consequences. Students seem to prefer losing 5 minutes at lunch rather than the alternative of taking away holiday-time to make up for the deficit.
However, what was the reasoning for the schedule changes?
In order to get a credit for a class, 60 hours must be spent in it per semester. These are the rules that national public schools, including SHS, go by. However, Forrest Bird goes by trimesters, meaning that the third trimester project’s extra hours and half-credit isn’t part of state requirements.
The necessity of a half-credit is debatable in on itself—on one hand, it provides a “safety net” that can add up to an additional 2 credits per subject should a student spend 4 years in Forrest Bird. There also is merit in having a school-wide project that promotes creativity and individual thinking, as seen recently in the service-learning project last year. Then again, this is all extra time not mandated by the state, and won’t be required for graduation.
This leads to the argument between keeping trimesters as they are or switching to a semester based schedule. Learning in semesters would keep Forrest Bird more in line with NIC and SHS, and would limit disruption that happens to the middle school during third trimester. However, though the middle school doesn’t do a project, 8th graders make up the time with a week-long trip to Yellowstone, and other grades have field trips as well.
Third trimester can either be seen as an integral part of the Forrest Bird identity, or as an unnecessary drain on student time for a token half-credit. This question is essentially the basis of the trimester-semester debate, and will be the basis of any decision to keep or do away with our new schedule.
All Photos by Isaac Solly
Labor Day of 2017 in Sandpoint was the worst in the entire country of the United States. The taste of smoke hung in the air and burned your throat and eyes. Each breath felt as if it were killing you. Which it was in a sense. On this Labor Day, the smoke in Sandpoint, Idaho was above 418 which is at very unhealthy and hazardous levels. The ranges of air quality that authorities and business judge from is simply good to hazardous. Good means the air quality is zero to fifty. However a hazardous day means the air quality is 301 to 500 and over. For Sandpoint, this meant that the young, old, and anyone with any respiratory illnesses or conditions were advised to stay indoors.
The beautiful lake that many come from all over to see was covered in thick, heavy, gray clouds of smoke. Local boat rentals closed down that day, calling all their rentals back in, refusing to let anyone expose themselves to the dangerous air quality, but also the possibility of getting into an accident due to low visibility. These businesses were Action Water Sports and Sandpoint Marine Boat Rentals. While wildfires in Sandpoint, or in Northern Idaho haven’t been reported, the surrounding states have been in an unforgivable battle with the flames.
For around the past six months there have been wildfires that over 24,000 fire fighters have been battling. Usually around the third week of September, the fire season is mostly over, and the risks drop considerably. But this year, that’s not really the case. Montana, Southern Idaho, Washington, California, and Utah have been hit the worse. In Southern Idaho, 23 fires are currently active, one fire being the Payette Wilderness fire which is 87,496 acres in size. In fact, on Labor Day, the National Forest of Boise caught on fire, which led to harmful air quality there as well.
The fire season this year is so bad due to how dry and hot it was all summer. The rainfall began to disappear as we headed into the warmer months, which created the perfect playground for fires to ravage. Many of these fires were in fact started by lightning, this especially applies to the Idaho fires.
Currently in Sandpoint the air quality is returning to normal and it’s becoming safer for people to open windows and enjoy whatever fresh air they can enjoy. However there are still some who are getting effected by the current weather. Many students with asthma are still wearing masks or at least having them with them whenever they go outside. While they aren’t the best thing to keep the smoke out, they do help filter it so it’s safer for the individual to breathe. It is no longer hazardous for people and animals, so life is slowly turning to normal once again, but the concern that a fire could possibly start closer to home is still in the air.