The “Holiday” Epidemic in America… Story by Sherman Peabody

What is this tree called? Holiday, Friendship, Appreciations, but definitely not a Christmas Tree.
What is this tree called? Holiday, Friendship, or Appreciation, but definitely not a Christmas Tree.

In the past, our county has proudly called winter break a “holiday break”, sometimes even “Christmas break”. Now in most public schools in America, teachers cannot refer to this December break as a holiday break because they are afraid of violating the separation of church and state.

But would it violate the Constitution?

The exact wording of the First Amendment is ”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

This is the “Separation of Church and State” part of the bill of rights. It talks about Congress not making laws concerning religion, not that it cannot represent any religion. Plus, by disregarding America’s most widely celebrated holiday, we start undermining what it represents.

Christmas and Hanukkah, even if you are not religious, are symbols of peace, family values, and rest. If we stop promoting these holidays on which the break is based on, we slowly dismantle those values.

In 1914, six months after WWI started, solders on both sides of the battle field called out a truce in the name of Christmas, laying down their weapons to celebrate this holiday. By forbidding our schools to acknowledge this holiday by name, we are not supporting the values those solders represented on Christmas 1914.

I hope you take these arguments into consideration before deciding if you support Christmas in school.

Merry Christmas Forrest Bird Charter School! Have a wonderful break!

Preventing the Holiday Blues… Story by Miranda Paddack

Creative ways to hang-out with Friends... Martin Chilcott sets up his gaming system at school on the 1st day of Christmas Break. Kubuntu was the place to be to enjoy gaming, conversation, and coffee. Photo by Mr. Webber
Creative ways to hang-out with Friends… Martin Chilcott sets up his gaming system at school on the 1st day of Christmas Break. Kubuntu was the place to be to enjoy gaming, conversation, and coffee. Photo by Mr. Webber

The lack of sunshine and motivation, winter break tends to be a very difficult time for people, especially people with depression or other mental disorders.  How do you combat these holiday blues? Better yet, how do you improve motivation during this break?

A winter break bucket list is a great way to beat the blues. Have a minimum of six activities; some could be going up to Schweitzer, window-shopping downtown, bowling at Huckleberry Lanes, or a coffee break with friends at Cones & Coffee or Evan’s Brothers Coffee. I know what you are thinking, “I don’t have time for that stuff.” Wrong, all of those attending the Forrest Bird Charter Schools have roughly three weeks, plenty of time to finish your winter bucket list. To those with depression, having an hour of fun can be the difference between self-destruction and an almost great day.

Cancellation is a huge probability, people struggling tend to wake up the morning of the event with no motivation and cancel their plans. Try to get to sleep before midnight, and set an alarm. This will enable you to get a decent amount of sleep, and have you awake in time to get ready for your day out. Never cancel plans with friends, impossible, I know; however, canceling plans so you can do something else, or nothing at all. Creating this bucket list for winter break is important, see how many you can check off. Don’t have one, or can’t think of anything? Call a friend and create one together. Have a great break!

1% Sales Tax Pro… Story by Charlie Harrison

1% Sales Tax Pro… Story by Charlie Harrison

The memorial field grandstands are falling down. The structure was built in 1946, so it has been serving the community for almost seventy years. In the past ten years however, the grandstands have failed numerous health and safety tests, with the score dropping every year. Now, the grandstands are set for demolition with no way to stop it. The only question now is what should replace them.  A 1% sales tax increase has been voted on and approved by 60% of voters to fix memorial field. If the sales tax was not approved, the structure would be replaced with nothing but cold aluminum bleachers. The bulk of the money from the tax will be going towards the grandstands, but a lot of the money will also be going into fixing the field itself, including completely replacing the old drainage system and repairing the infrastructure. Any extra funding will go into the

Out with the old... the 1% sales tax will raise money for new bleachers.
Out with the old… the 1% sales tax will raise money for new bleachers.

other city parks such as Sandpoint ‘City Beach and Travis Park.

There are several exemptions to limit the tax on low income and vulnerable households. For instance, gas and diesel are exempt, along with prescriptions and many medical devices. Food stamps are also exempt, and out of state shipments. Utilities will also not be taxed. It is worth noting that the increase will raise Sandpoint’s sales tax to 7%. While it sounds like a lot, it is actually well below the national average of almost 10%. The tax cannot be used for anything but the parks, and can’t last for more than five years without voter approval.

The next Stadium will be designed to be very low maintenance and cheap to run. It is also designed to last for at least another fifty years (and probably longer). The reason people failed to produce the money before was because most of the money came from corporate sponsors, who had to back out for financial reasons. The old stadium was built in 1948 and it has seating capacity for 900 people. However, town population has tripled since then. The new stadium will have capacity for 1500 people. This means the grandstands will be less overcrowded during games and we will be able to sell more tickets. The same goes for the festival at Sandpoint, a major music festival in the pacific North West. The University of Idaho stated that festival has an estimated $2 million direct impact on our community.

And in with the new... Sketch of what the new bleachers will look like.
And in with the new… Sketch of what the new bleachers will look like.

The grandstands will be able to seat more people so the festival will be able to sell more tickets. More tickets will bring more out of town and out of state money into Sandpoint for festival season. Instead of overbooking our field, leading to overcrowded conditions, which we have done in the past, we can provide Sandpoint residents and out of towners alike with a larger, more comfortable stadium for everybody to use. Memorial field brings economic activity into Sandpoint during games such as baseball, football, soccer, and other community sports events. It brings in tourist money for our massive festival that routinely sells out. I think it’s about time we rebuilt it to make sure future generations get to use it too.

What does an extra 1% sales tax in Sandpoint really mean?.. Story by Marcus O’Cyrus

What does an extra 1% sales tax in Sandpoint really mean?.. Story by Marcus O’Cyrus

An extra sales tax for Sandpoint, Idaho was recently passed by the city, but why?  After listening to the commercials, I was deeply moved toward a community effort to rebuild the grand stands at Memorial Field and that everyone could afford to pay an extra 1% sales tax to make it happen over the next 5 years.

Investopedia Breaks Down the Regressive Tax... Sales Tax is a regressive tax that negatively impacts the poor and lower middle class compared to the upper middle class and the wealthy.
Investopedia Breaks Down the Regressive Tax… Sales Tax is a regressive tax that negatively impacts the poor and lower middle class compared to the upper middle class and the wealthy.

But, what is a sales tax anyways?  A sales tax is a tax on all purchases. A sales tax is also known as a regressive tax.  It actually harms more people economically, especially those of lower economic status.  A regressive tax takes a larger percentage of a person’s income if they are poor or lower middle class compared to the wealthy.  It is not a tax the wealthy care about since it doesn’t impact them as much as someone living from paycheck to paycheck.  Just looking at the signage in front yards while driving into work each morning, I noticed the more affluent neighborhoods were sporting their support of an extra sales tax while the more economically depressed neighborhoods did not.  It is also a known fact that people of more affluent lifestyles participate more in politics than those who struggle to get by.

What will this increase in sales tax do? Well, most people not in support of the sales tax will move their shopping to Ponderay for the next 5 years.  The economically depressed part of Sandpoint will most likely move the rest of their shopping requirements to Ponderay as well.  How will that affect the businesses of Sandpoint if the majority of the community of local patrons takes their shopping to Ponderay? It’s unfortunate that the wealthy in this case have passed the buck on paying for their dream grand stand onto everyone else in Sandpoint as a community effort.  If this was truly a passion of the 1% supporters, why didn’t each of them donate 1% of their yearly income each year to pay for a new stadium?

I find it ironic that many of the people who are paying for the grand stands will be sitting outside the fenced area to hear the Sandpoint Music Festival.  While those wealthy, cultural elite enjoy the new grand stands from those who can’t afford to even attend the concerts.

The majority of the argument for the one percent increase was trying to play off the idea that the grand stand is not about the music festival, but for the football games played there.  One commercial went so far as to talk about the muskrat bowl.  The argument is also flawed when looking at the value of the grand stand.  Many people in the Sandpoint area do not attend football games, which is a school sanctioned event from the same school district that bullied Bonners County into a property tax increase of 14 million dollars over the next two years and has done this more than once.

Many people say the sales tax will be supported by the tourists, which is false.  The majority of tourists who come to Sandpoint may stay for a week or two at most.  While the locals remain here week after week footing the bill for the tourists who come here to enjoy the facilities the locals are paying for with their grocery purchases.

Something has gone horribly wrong here in Sandpoint when a minority can become a washed in tax generated funding without any fiscal responsibility to the people they are deriving their funding from.  Instead they use that same funding to pay for signage to convince or guilt the community to pass the next tax upon themselves, and yet, we fall for it every time.

Check out this website for some great information:  http://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/regressivetax.asp

What Really Happened?… Article by Mack Jastle

What Really Happnened? Story by Mack Jastle

In light of the recent memorial service held for the victims of the Paris terror attacks that took place two weeks ago, I think that now is as good a time as any to look back on the attacks and what they mean for the world at large.

First, an overview of the attacks.

On November 13, 2015, in a nearly simultaneous attack involving three teams of extremists, Paris was hit by multiple attacks, shootings, and suicide bombings leaving 130 dead and hundreds injured.  It was the worst terror attack Europe had faced in over a decade.  Some of the targets hit included the Bataclan concert hall, where dozens were cut down by gunmen wielding Kalashnikov-type assault rifles.  Eighty-nine people were reported to have died there, with another 99 in critical condition.

The second deadliest attack of the night occurred at the La Belle Equipe bar in the 11th district.  Witnesses reported a black Seat pulling up to the terrace of the café, and two men then opening fire on the terrace.  Nineteen died in that shooting, with another nine people critically injured.

A map displaying times and locations of the attacks. Diagram by bbc.co.uk.
A map displaying times and locations of the attacks. Diagram by bbc.co.uk.

French president Francois Hollande promised vengeance against ISIS for the attacks, stating that “we will be ruthless.” Many nations around the world have echoed this sentiment, pledging support to help destroy ISIS and their extremist agenda.

However, France wasn’t the only one attacked that week.  The day previous, the city of Beirut in Lebanon was attacked by two suicide bombers who killed 43 people and injured hundreds more.  A surviving member of the extremist force claimed to have been recruited by ISIS, and ISIS later publically took credit for the attacks.

All this violence and bloodshed follows in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January, which left eleven dead and more injured.

In the wake of such bloodshed, it’s obvious something has to be done.  But what?  For many, the solution seems to be denying Syrian refugees asylum, on the grounds that there could be terrorists moving among them and thus into these countries.  This includes our state of Idaho.

While at first this might seem like a logical stance to take, the scariest part of it all is that it might just be exactly what ISIS wants.  In a ten page editorial published on the Islamic State’s online magazine, the author describes the grey zone most Muslims inhabit between “the caliphate and the infidel.”

By orchestrating these attacks and pushing the world into chaos, ISIS is causing many countries to seriously debate whether it’s worth harboring these refugees.  The more stringent our vetting processes become, the more hostile we become towards these hapless refugees, the more ISIS wins.

Despite the attacks’ relative disconnectedness from the refugee crisis, what many nations and individuals have taken away from these attacks is that the refugees should be turned elsewhere, that they should be someone else’s problem.  The more this happens, the easier it becomes for these people to look at ISIS and say “You know….these guys don’t seem all that bad.”

ISIS is not a threat we can just bomb out of existence.  It’s not all one nationality or one religion’s fault.  We need to be aware that these refugees are innocent, and that denying them asylum or treating them poorly will only hurt us.

Surprisingly, France seems to acknowledge this point.  President Hollande stated that France would continue to accept thousands of refugees, as it was their ‘humanitarian duty” to shelter them.

The world was ready to stand with France when they got hit by the attacks.  Will it support this viewpoint even after the attacks cast doubt on the refugees?

Only time will tell.

Support Tubby… Story by Alistair King

We all know of the wandering cat called Rusty; how sweet and loving he is, as well as his fondness for petting. Recently a decision has been made by the Administration to disallow Rusty to be in the school because of the allergy problems he could cause. Needless to say students have disliked this rule and are wishing that he be allowed inside. These are the reasons why he should be allowed in:

The animal shelter students are more dangerous to people’s health.

Keep up with me on this: Students that are petting the animals at the shelter tend to get hair on their clothes. This hair can easily fall off within the normal activities of a person. While a cat’s hair is more or less attached to their bodies and especially in winter is less prone to shedding.

Animals are medically proven to be therapeutic

Animal assisted therapy is big these days; there is nothing like being stuck in the hospital and having a great dog or cat come comfort you

Animals are great… These animals can have a great effect on students and patients. Photo Found at americanhumane.org
Animals are great… These animals can have a great effect on students and
patients. Photo Found at americanhumane.org

in your time of stress. It has been medically proven that “Animal-assisted therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a range of health problems.”

The Animals love it

Its just that simple, pets love all the attention that they get from students. This is also a good thing for people who have parents working all the time and the animal is stuck in whatever area the owners designate as the holding zone. While being at school animals have the opportunity to socialize with other people and pets, get exercise in moving around, and be petted to their hearts content.

There’s medicine for pet allergies.

Antihistamines or allergy medication is available over the counter and by prescription in most places. These take the form of: Allegra, Claritin, Benadryl, and Zyrtec. There is also other methods of relieving allergies in the form of nasal sprays such as Flonase or Nasonex, which are also available over the counter and for prescription.

One more tip…

Just keep your distance. This is the easiest way to stop getting an allergy from cats such as Rusty. Don’t go up to animals and hug and pet them, just stay away and admire their beauty (or non-beauty).

Keep this all in mind when trying to convince Administration to keep our loving Tubby inside the school. Now onto the Cons of an animal in school.

Sorry Tubby, but You are Out… Story by Sherman Peabody

Should he stay in? Rusty playing in the field – Photo by Alistair King
Should he stay in? Rusty playing in the field – Photo by Alistair King

Recently, the issue of school pets has come up for the people in this school because of our beloved feline visitor Rusty, better known as Tubby the Cat. Our school has decided, after much consideration, to keep Tubby out of the school due to health concerns. Though I love Tubby being around and the effect he has on students who are not allergic to him, I support the administration’s decision to keep Tubby out. Some of the reasons I do support it are the allergens that are introduced to the school and the laws regarding commercial kitchens and pets.

One in seven people from the ages 6 – 19 are allergic to cats. As our school has students right in this range, we need to be sure that we protect them from this inhibiting allergy. Students who are allergic to cats often cannot work efficiently when around cats as their eyes often start to itch and water up, a condition that is distracting for many students. One student states that her allergies can range from a simple rash to swollen throat and eyes, depending on the amount of contact she has with the allergens. She says that she had these symptoms for a continuous week and a half during the time Tubby was in the building.

When Mary was asked about the reasoning behind the decision to keep Rusty out, she explained that allergic reactions do not just occur when you touch a cat. When a cat sleeps on a jacket, or is held by a person, lots of hair is dropped. When a person wearing a jacket or shirt hugs someone who is allergic to cats, the allergens are often times passed along to that person, giving them an allergic reaction. Mary told a story of her sister being sent to the hospital after wearing a neck brace that a cat had laid on. She has witnessed Rusty laying on a bunch of student’s jackets, and though she loves to have him in the school, realized that he had to stay out.

Unfortunately, it is also against Idaho code to have most kinds of pets in commercial kitchens, including our beloved Tubby. Section 6-501.115 states “except as specified in ¶¶ (B) and (C) of this section, live animals may not be allowed on the PREMISES of a FOOD ESTABLISHMENT.” (link to the food code) Paragraphs B and C allow for fish in fish tanks and animals that are in service, such as a patrol dog or a service dog. Paragraph C covers fishing bait, and even that has to be stored in a way that would not come into contact with kitchen utensils. Because our kitchen is in a modern style without doors separating the cooking space from the area Rusty roams is a potential problem. Tubby has full access to the food preparation area and can easily contaminate the space.

One argument that could rise is the issue of the animal shelter students. They bring in more cat hair attached to their clothes than Tubby drops on any given day. And I agree, he doesn’t drop as much hair as the animals leave on the animal shelter students. But the only way to react to those hairs left on the shelter students would be to come into direct contact with their clothes. Tubby on the other hand goes where he want when he wants, often laying on peoples jackets and rubbing up against them on the low-hanging hangers. This leaves his hair all over the school, not just on the shelter student’s clothes. Plus, according to livescience.com, “it’s not cat fur that causes those itchy, watery eyes. Most people with cat allergies react to a protein found on cat skin called Fel d 1.” So by walking around dropping dead skin cells everywhere, Rusty is spreading this protein and causing people with allergies to react more than usual.

Don’t Get Locked Out… Story By Alistair King

Don’t Get Locked Out

Tears, running, sweat, and the pings of gunfire… This year’s lock-in was a BLAST; with many fun activities such as Dodgeball, Midnight Yoga, Karaoke, and game rooms. With over 80 students attending and so many activities, there was fun for everyone.

The Student Council planned all these activities on a panel system, meaning that while Dodgeball was going on, Family Feud could happen on the other side of the school. But throughout this entire time there were activities for the less awake students. Movies such as Big Hero 6 and Forrest Gump were being played along with a Lord of the Rings marathon. And the game rooms… of course the game rooms. Three classrooms were dedicated to the activity of video gaming. In U2 a large group played League of Legends, Picasso was the home place of Dark Souls II. Finally in Ali was a game of Fibbage and the day one release of Fallout 4.

Picture-ception... This picture poses for another picture.
Picture-ception… This picture poses for another picture. Photo by Ellie Mearns

How can we forget the greatest of all the activities… Karaoke (before 3am). Brought to you by all the great students here at the school we saw many songs such as “I’m gonna be” by Ellie Mearns and Squad, and the Bee Gees with a large group of boys (See Video). Capture the Flag was a blast, even with both the teams staring each other down at the center line. With eyes locked and unmoving feet, Ellie Mearns had to impose a new rule that they could only do that for 5 seconds. That quickly ended the dispute.

The Dinner was prepared by the Catering Crew and consisted of Soda and Spaghetti. Students were allowed to bring their own snacks and this was thoroughly stated by Ian Mchonnahey who brought an entire carton full of candy in celebration of him becoming 18. After the fun was over and the clean-up had ended, Webber made his special pancakes and homemade syrup, complete with “crispy” bacon and your choice of juice. But this was not without a catch. In order to decide who got to eat first Webber held a “limbo for your meal” contest.

Let’s not forget the Vending Machine either, with a crowd of people struggling to stay awake the vending machine was their only hope. Several students bought upward of six drinks trying to stay awake.

There were also some really great prizes donated by local businesses and adults. Some of these prizes were gift certificates to Petal Talk, various hygiene supplies, and a brand new Kindle.

With so many activities and great fun to be had, is it any surprise when student council members stated, “This could be the best lock in we’ve had. Ever.”  With two great events already happening and so many more coming up in the following trimesters; how will student council surprise us next?

Check out this great video also by Ellie Mearns…

Reasons behind school shootings: Part II… Story By Lauren Stidham

Reasons behind school shootings: Part II

One thing that can be linked to school violence and school shootings is violent video games and television. Kids all around our country have free access to countless video games, shows, and movies. Most of these portray violence one way or another. Although some are much more graphic than others, it remains nonetheless.

So what does violent screenplay have to do with school shootings?

Could it really lead to violence?... Could video games really cause a school shooting, or is it just some old wives tale? Photo-By: digitaltrends.com
Could it really lead to violence?… Could video games really cause a school shooting, or is it just some old wives tale? Photo-By: digitaltrends.com

We will start with video games. Many parents, teachers, and other people in authority frown on over usage of video games, and in some cases they don’t allow it at all. Now of course we must consider that there are certain video games that are well designed and geared towards promoting learning, not all video games are violent.

Of course, a majority of the best-sellers are very violent. Out of the top ten best-sellers of 2015, only two of them aren’t graphically violent. The other eight are all based upon extremely violent scenarios and depict scenes of which you are expected to take the lives of people in gruesome ways.

According to studies conducted by Dr. Vincent Matthews from Indiana University, violent video games alter the person’s ability to use emotions, attention, and concentration. His experiment involved making a group of young men play violent video games two hours a day for just a week. In just that time frame, their brains had already altered.

“The brain changes that Matthews’ group saw were similar to those seen in teens with destructive sociopathic disorders” – Time.com

Now think of the kids who have been under the influence of video games for a matter of years, by this time, their emotional and concentration part of their brain would be eroded. Without that emotional part functioning properly, the person can become dangerous. Most of what keeps normal people from killing is the emotional and/or moral standard.

Not only do video games change the way your brain works, but they can also be very addictive. World of Warcraft in particular is the center of many cases of addictions. There are several reasons realism, social interaction, and the ongoing sense that there is always a next level.

The game’s realism is created by having camera views that simulate the views that one would get if you were actually in the game, plus you can adjust the view to get the desired effect. There is a network of people who play the game and you can pair up with them and go on quests together. This provides a source to fulfill social needs. Additionally, World of Warcraft is an ongoing game of which doesn’t have an end. You can continually advance in the game, you can move to a new realm when you max out in one realm. The makers of the game update it and add new realms regularly.

To read an article about how World of Warcraft effected Ryan van Cleave’s life go to http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/aug/29/world-of-warcraft-video-game-addict

Additionally, there is another link between violent video games and school shootings. This one applies directly to violent television.

As earlier stated, kids all around have full access to violent video games and television. This can prove to be bad because as a child develops, they aren’t quite able to tell the difference between reality and fiction.  In the movies like the book of Eli and video games like grand theft auto five, the people don’t have consequences for their actions the way that real people do.  A child could believe that they could do what their favorite television or video game character does.

“I have ultimate control and can do what I want with few real repercussions.” – Ryan van Cleave, former World of Warcraft addict.

How does it Work?... How could watching television really affect your mind? Photo By: Shutterstock
How does it Work?… How could watching television really affect your mind? Photo By: Shutterstock

Further, television can promote the idea of violence. There are many popular movies where the main character is a criminal. Many shows are designed in a way that distorts our idea of a hero. Instead of the classic chivalrous hero who saves the innocent, we have characters who are masters of destruction and know gruesome and cruel means to “get the job done.”

Now the question is, does that really cause violence as severe as a school shooting? A majority of perfectly normal people have experienced violent media. Shouldn’t there be a whole lot more school shootings if violence and graphic media are so directly linked?

The truth is that it takes a still developing or unstable brain to see an act of violence and then commit an act of violence as severe as a school shooting. It all goes back to the condition of the brain. Yes, video games and television can help to provoke an act of violence, but it is very rare that it is the sole cause.

However it is not counted out as a possibility for a cause.

“Craig A. Anderson and Brad J. Bushman found a statistically significant small-to-moderate-strength relationship between watching violent media and acts of aggression or violence later in life.” – New York Times

Studies show that there are actually some direct correlations between violence and media violence. To look over the evidence yourself you can follow this link to http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/opinion/sunday/does-media-violence-lead-to-the-real-thing.html?_r=0 .