So I have recently interviewed a retired Marine by the name of Major Richard Todd Slack. He is now a MCJROTC (Marine Corps Reserve Officer Training Corps) instructor at Asheville High School.
Major Slack was first deployed at the Marine Corps Air Station New River, in Jacksonville, NC. After that, he was deployed to Iraq in 2003. Then, in 2009, he was deployed to Afghanistan. He was a helicopter pilot, and then cost analysis afterwards. He now instructs MCJROTC at AHS, and is currently trying to build the program.
MCJROTC is a leadership and team building program based on a military framework. What I mean by military framework is just the drills, uniforms, and ranks. There are no tactics involved, and there is nothing excessively militant. The program also lacks a political affiliation, Currently, it is a very small program that the instructors are trying to build. There are no real requirements for entering, and it is open to everybody regardless of ethnicity, gender identity, grades or anything that one would think would limit their enrollment options. Everyone can apply, everyone is welcome. It teaches cadets (the students enrolled in the program) leadership and teamwork. Contrary to many people’s belief, it is not a military recruitment program. As a matter of fact, only 10% of cadets actually end up going to the military.
There is something for everybody to do in the program, as it is very dynamic and has a wide range of activities for cadets. MCJROTC activities include, but aren’t limited to, drill, physical training, color guard, mindfulness, marksmanship training, as well as military academics. This includes hygiene, finance, and military history. There is also an activity for the more electronically inclined, called cyberpatriot. It’s a program that teaches computer defense, and how to leave a small digital footprint, which is the mark you leave on the internet. There is even a cyberpatriot security competition. This doesn’t mean you get to constantly use your phone, though! There is very little phone usage in MCJROTC.
Many people believe that you get shouted at in MCJROTC. This isn’t true. Leadership isn’t shouting. It is inspiration, purpose, and direction, for the people that you teach and work for you. And if you wonder how the MCJROTC program leads the community, they do Adopt-A-Street and various other community service activities, so if you like helping the community and your school, you should join MCJROTC.
Story by Jonas Suskey
MCJROTC Photo Gallery
For the past four months, my friend and I have been trying to change the AMS dress code, and we finally did it, well kind of. I thought I was addressing the dress code policy, but the real issue was people's attitudes and prejudices, and that's going to take a lot longer to change. Although, most people agreed with what we were doing, there were many people who didn't. After multiple meetings and multiple rough patches, here is our story.
Last October, I was dress coded for the first time. A teacher called me out for a visible bra strap as I ran to a Spanish class I was late for. For the rest of the day, I felt embarrassed and as if I had done something wrong. I am not alone. When I brought this up to my friends in our Journalism class, many girls pitched in on their experience with getting dress coded. “When I got dress coded for my shorts being too short, it was super awkward, I kind of feel ashamed of my legs.” In our conversation it seemed to be a widespread issue that girls have a drop in confidence after being dress coded, and no student anywhere deserves to feel that. I looked up the Asheville Middle School Dress Code Policy, because I was curious about why all of these girls were getting dress coded, and in my opinion over half of the policies were directed at only girls (No shorts too short, no holes in pants, no midriff), and none of the policies were directed at only guys. My friend Ginger and I decided that this bias needed to be changed.
Over the next 4 months, we had meetings with our principal, our assistant principal, our AMS teachers and staff members and the School Improvement Team.
We started off by speaking to our principal in early November. Our principal read a letter I had written about the inequalities of our dress code. She told me that she loved what we were doing and to look into our other Asheville City School dress code policies. With mine and Ginger’s enthusiasm for this, that’s the first thing we did when we stepped out of her office. We found that the ACS board policy, the Student Code of Conduct, and the Asheville Middle Policy are all different, which then leaves staff members to interpret which dress code they want to use, and leads to students trying to figure out which dress code to follow. All of Asheville City Schools dress codes should be the same. The next week we went back to our principal and showed her what we found; she told us that we should work on a dress code proposal to replace the AMS dress code, and scheduled us to present at the upcoming School Improvement Team meeting. Ginger and I didn't know what to expect for this meeting. We did not know which people were on the School Improvement Team. We didn't know if they would support what we were doing or not. However, we did think that this would be the meeting that ended it all, and it would be the meeting where they decided yes or no to our proposal. Clearly, we were wrong, because here we are with a dress code that hasn't been changed over 4 months later.
At the meeting, we delivered a presentation that had our proposal in it. Our proposal policy made it so girls had a wider range of clothing that they could wear. We also changed the words skirts and dresses into hemlines to become gender neutral. Standing in front of the SIT members and delivering our presentation was one of the most nerve racking things I have ever done. I had never been a fan of speaking in front of people, and it made it 10 times harder that some of the people in the room didn't agree with what I was saying. A couple of the members disagreed with our proposal because they didn't think it was appropriate for students to show up to school wearing a tank top, and they thought that our idea of an appropriate short length was too short. We were invited back to the next SIT meeting and we were given lots of feedback on how we could make our proposal better.
As Ginger and I worked on fixing our proposal we thought that we should create a student survey to gain information on what students thought about the dress code policies. We included questions like “Have you been dress coded, what were you dress coded for, and do you think the dress code is gender bias.” We received 455 student responses from all grades. Our data showed that females were dress coded over 20% more than males, and African Americans were dress coded 10% more than Caucasian students; this is a huge gap, considering we only had 77 African American students respond and 300 White students respond. Our data also showed that if you were in 8th grade you were over 2x as likely to get dress coded than a 6th grader, and over 60% of our AMS students believed the dress code was gender bias.
Ginger and I also made a teacher survey to learn more about the enforcement of the dress code; we received 61 staff responses. We found that over 77% of teachers had dress coded a student this year.
On January 24th, we went back to the SIT members and delivered a different presentation with our survey data and our updated proposal. To make a point we had 2 different girls, with 2 different body types,wear shorts that fit into the proposed dress code policy, although not the current dress code. We wanted the SIT members to see a real life example of the policy (shorts must be no more than 8 inches from top of knee), although bringing models to a presentation didn't go quite as I planned. I watched girls’ confidence deflate with comments that I recall as crude and demeaning. Comments like “I just don't want to see a girls bra”. One comment was made about how boys had it rough because they had to see the clothing choices of the girls they went to school with. Comments were made calling these real life models distractions and inappropriate. “I felt like I was being treated more like a mannequin than a human being with feelings and clothing preferences” one of our models said, “I feel like the bodies of young girls have been objectified and degraded, and it was interesting to be in a position where I could see first hand the opinions of adults when talking about the bodies and clothing choices of girls in our school community.”
Luckily, thanks to the amazing models who put up with the all of the comments, the SIT members agreed with our rule about shorts: “Hemlines must be at most 8 inches from top of knee”. Although they disagreed with our undergarments rule: “Clothing must cover undergarments (waistbands and straps excluded)”. Since there was not an agreement, we were invited to the next SIT work session. We were told that we would receive a final answer at that meeting.
As Ginger and I prepared for the next SIT meeting, we took pictures of students at AMS who were showing a bra strap or a waistband. We wanted to show these pictures to the SIT members to prove that showing a bra strap and waistband is not a big deal and that these students have no intention of distracting anyone or taking away time from education.
We showed the SIT members our pictures on February 7th. Throughout the SIT meeting, I tried to stay quiet, because I wanted to hear what everyone was saying. When the meeting was over, I was asked if I was upset, and I responded with “No, not at all.”
If I were to change one thing, instead of saying no, I would have responded to the teachers with the following statement: ‘No, I am not upset, I just have a difference of opinion. What I see in these pictures are my friends and young teenagers, and what you see is seductive girls and distractions to boys education. My goal was to raise awareness in teachers and staff members and show that girls are not distractions, although clearly, I didn't fully reach my goal. I feel this way because some of you think that when that girl in the picture got dressed this morning that she was getting dressed for a boy, although I can assure you that none of these girls had any boy in mind when putting on that shirt. Rather they put on that shirt because that is what they feel comfortable and confident in, and no one has any right to go and break that confidence down by telling them that what they are wearing isn't appropriate, and should not be worn in a school environment, or is a distraction to others.’
When I think about all of the meetings, and although we had a lot of support, some hurtful comments were made. I am not sure I would do this again, and at some points in the process, I wanted to stop working with it and give up. These thoughts have gone through my mind multiple times, because of the awful things people have said to me and my friends. I have heard comments that I wish I had never heard. When someone looks at a picture of my friend and said that they see a seductive girl, I began to lose respect for that teacher, because I wonder what that teacher thinks of me when I show up to school in a shirt that shows my bra strap. Are our teachers judging students by our clothing? Do our teachers treat us differently because of our clothing? Do teachers think that we are trying to seduce our fellow classmates? These are all thoughts and questions that I wish I never had to ask myself. That is why I wanted to stop, I didn't want to see this other side of these teachers, it concerned me that teachers did not realize their remarks could be so hurtful and have such a big impact on Ginger and me.
At the Feb 7th meeting the SIT members made the final decision to reword one of the requirements to incorporate a different rule.They didn't seem to understand the point Ginger and I were making. I went to one of my most supportive teachers, I wanted to tell her that I was giving up and it wasn't worth it. I told her that I never should have done this in the first place and I never should have taken on such a big task. No matter how many times she told me that this was a good experience, I kept thinking that I should not have had this understanding in middle school. In my eyes, middle school was a time to figure out who you are as a person, and a time to figure out what you want to do in life. Having these experiences, while I was trying to figure out who I was, was one of the hardest things, because I didn't have the confidence to trust myself, I couldn't prove to myself that I was right, after all, here were teachers who had figured out who they were and what they wanted to do in life, and some were saying that these girls were seductive. At points, I wanted to believe them, but after talking to my teacher, she helped me realize that I was right and that both people can be right in different ways.
Although Ginger and I received lots of negative comments, we had an incredible amount of support from different staff members and teachers. Without this support, we would have given up a long time ago.
All over the world females are getting treated unfairly, and a gender bias dress code is a supporting factor in this issue. If we start by changing the little things then we can achieve a world of equality. As Leslie Knope said in the show Parks and Rec, “If I seem too passionate, It’s because I care, If I come on too strong, It’s because I feel strongly, and if I push too hard, it's because things aren't moving fast enough.” Ginger and I have learned that making a change can be a long and difficult process, but trying to change the dress code is an important starting point in changing our world to become equal for all genders.
That is the end of the article I originally wrote, but I wrote that end before I had my last dress code meeting. Ginger and I attended the public SIT meeting on February 21st. We didn't present anything, we didn't say anything, all we did was observe. We listened to teachers go back and forth about how they wanted to reword our dress code policies. They finally came to the agreement of saying “Clothing must be opaque while covering undergarments and the torso (waistbands and straps excluded).” When I looked up the definition of torso, it says “The human trunk.” When I did some more research on the torso, I found that it is from your neck/collarbone to your hips. This now means that no student can wear a low cut shirt. No off the shoulder tops. No v-necks. No visible collarbone. I feel like this one rule has ruined the rest of our dress code. I worked so hard to convince teachers that a bra strap was okay to be worn. How can a student show a bra strap if they can’t show their shoulders? How can a student wear a normal shirt if they can’t show a collarbone? I am currently under the impression that I have made this dress code worse than it was at the start. After the months I spent working on this, all I did was go right back to the beginning.
Ginger and I are planning to go back to the SIT meeting and work to reword the torso policy and phrase it to become abdomen and lower back. There are many teachers who support this and will help us make our AMS dress code the best it can possibly be. I would like to thank all of the teachers and administrators who helped Ginger and I through everything, without your support we would never have made a change.
Story by Kate Buys
Have you ever wondered if your teachers just work in the classroom? Did you know that many teachers work other jobs at the school and not at the school? I talked to several teachers and this is what they said.
Mr. Larrick is a 7th grade teacher, as you know he is a teacher but he also does the wrestling clock. If you're wondering, yes he did choose it but he doesn't get paid for it.
Ms. Zlatkin as we all know she is a 6th grade teacher, and if you didn't know this you do now. Ms. Zlatkin also is a real estate broker. Ms. Zlatkin has chose that job by herself and gets payed for it.
Ms. Kalen is a 6th grade teacher here at AMS, she teaches social studies. Ms. Kalen´s other jobs are childcare at a church on Sundays, IRL program, and she sell Mary Kay. She has these jobs so she can pay her bills, so yes she gets payed for them.
Ms. Sheeler is an AVID teacher for the 6, 7 and 8th grade. Ms. Sheeler works in the summer at UNCA with AVID students, and she works Middle School Magic. Ms. Sheeler does get paid for these jobs, but she has the jobs to pay her bills in the summer.
Ms. Lopez is a 8th grade social studies teacher. Ms.Lopez also does IRL, which she chose to do. Ms.Lopez gets paid for it.
Mr. Lindsey is a 6th grade math teacher here at AMS. Mr. Lindsey also coaches soccer for the boys and sometimes golf, he does get paid for these jobs.
Ms. Larrick is the 7th grade social studies teacher. Like many teachers, she volunteers to take tickets to sports events and supervise other after school events such as dances. Also about once a month she has to cover classes that don't have a sub. While volunteering for the events is optional, she also feels that she is expected to do these jobs. Covering classes is not optional. Teachers are required to do this when told. The planning time they miss is just made up after school by working an extra hour (unpaid.) This year, she does not get paid for these extra jobs, but sometimes she is given "comp time." The problem with this is that there really isn't any guarantee that there will be optional work days that can be exchanged for comp time due to snow days. She says that in years past she has been paid actual money to take tickets or work sports events. At other schools where she has worked in NC, teachers were compensated with extra pay for having to cover classes. That substitute money, which is taken out of the absent teacher's paycheck, has to go somewhere, right? She believes these decisions are made at the district level. Ms. Larrick says she loves working here, and is just try to do her part to make our school great!
Ms. Jefferson is a Special Education teacher. When students learn different or have trouble understanding what is being taught, she comes in the classroom and spends extra time helping students understand the curriculum. She also helps children with physical disabilities by helping them learn how they can show their work in class in a way that is more comfortable to them, she mainly teaches in the ELA classes. Currently her other job is driving a bus in the morning . She gets on the bus at 6:30 am until 8:00 am, then she goes straight to her classroom. She doesn't have to, she wants to. Right now our district does not have enough drivers and teachers have to pitch in and make sure that all the kids get to school and home in the afternoon. If they don’t help out, they would have to park the bus and it would take longer for the kids to get home in the afternoon because they would have to wait for another driver to finish their route and then come and get them. That would put kids getting to school and coming home late. She does get paid to drive the bus. She is also helping raise money for Outer Banks Trip. Again, no she doesn’t has to, she wants to. Some kids don’t have the money to pay for the trip, so she wants to make sure that everyone that wants to go will get to go! We are having fund raisers to help raise money. She doesn't get paid for this but that’s ok because she absolutely love raising money and having functions for good causes.
Ms. Powell is one of the Health/PE teachers at AMS. She also helps coach girls basketball for the middle school. She chose to do this job because she loves coaching basketball. It is a requirement now for PE teachers to coach at least one sport, but she loves doing it. She has been a basketball coach at the collegiate level and high school level before arriving here at AMS. Yes, she gets paid to coach basketball
What do you think about teachers doing these jobs? What I think is these are some nice jobs for a teacher to do and are very interesting. It was fun trying to figure out what these jobs were.
Story by Kamora Codrington
Source: Teacher Interviews
This week starting on Monday the 22nd of January, elementary schools in the Asheville City School District toured Asheville Middle. There were 8th grade student tour guides who showed them around.
The tourists were 5th grade classes with their teachers. On the tour, kids learned what some of the electives and core classes were; they also learned the layout of the building. The 5th graders were very curious about electives and what they were. They also wanted to know about how much homework there would be.
Many of the kids were fascinated about being able to play competitive sports and sing in Chorus or play an instrument in Strings or Band. ¨They were very inquisitive and interested to join the Asheville Middle Cougar family,¨ said 8th grade tour guide, Ainsley.
This was a great opportunity for the 5th graders to learn about the middle school and learn the ropes. We look forward to seeing these rising sixth graders soon!
Story by Margaret Derry
Dues to last Monday's unexpected day off of school, it now means that if there is one more snow day than we well be getting Saturday school. This could be very bad for children or teachers who would have plans on that day. Many AMS students have verbally expressed their concern for having to potentially attend school on a Saturday.
Many solutions have been brought up in an article on Public School Review. Many students agree that all Saturday School does is adds to the stress of school, while simultaneously taking away the time we have with friends and family. There are pros, as some students and teachers say that these make up days take stress off and give up more time to work on school work. Whether this is good or bad, here are some solutions we can take. One way we could solve this is to add school days to the end of the year; at first this sounds like a great idea but a problem that arises with this is if you have already scheduled your summer and cant go to school those days. A second option is always to lengthen the days of school for a certain period of days. This could be good but it can also harm people and their time to do homework. Finally, what I believe is the best option, is to take out some holidays. This could be great because it doesn't mess with the weekend or the summer.
I believe that though snow day make ups are terrible to sit through and can take away from the weekend, it doesn't happen often and other solutions have their cons as well. So, it might be better to get them over with than have to deal with it by paying with your holidays or summer. What are your thoughts?
Story by Peter Hornaday
A new petition is going around, and it needs your help! This petition's purpose is to hire a worker in the cafeteria to manage the dishwasher. This would allow AMS to be able to use the reusable plastic trays that the school purchased years ago. For this petition to work it needs one thousand signatures, which means it needs everyone's support. It only takes one minute to make a difference and show your passion for the issues that really matter.
According to Livestrong, styrofoam takes over 500 years to decompose and can not be recycled. This is one of the reasons why styrofoam products are over 30% of all waste in landfills. Not only is styrofoam bad for the environment, but for anyone near it. Over 90,000 workers face the exposure of polystyrene and styrene each year. Polystyrene and styrene are some of the materials that make up styrofoam and are extremely dangerous. These materials have been known to cause serious health conditions such as cancer, and toxins found in the blood stream.
Although some might consider the five second setback of scraping off food and then putting away your tray an inconvenience, isn’t millions of humans ceasing to exist by the year 2060 a bigger inconvenience? Styrofoam may be the go to material, but it can’t stay this way. This petition would help show that Asheville Middle can lead the way to a greener future. Your singular name, that seems so small, can make the difference that changes our school for good. Changes need to be made now, before all we can think about is the changes we should have made.
Link to petition:
Be sure to use your real name and make positive comments
Story by Fiona Austin
AVID stands for: Advanced Via Individual Determination
AVID is about helping kids stay on a path to college. AVID is a global nonprofit organization, dedicated to closing the achievement gap by preparing all types of students for college and other global opportunities. AVID helps you with everything you need help with, that’s what tutorials are for. AVID teachers are always there to help keep you on track with everything. AVID starts when you get to 6th grade and you can stay in AVID all through high school. You can also drop out of AVID whenever you want if it gets to stressful.
We do Cornell notes, TRF (Tutor request form ) , and tutorial groups. Which means when you have tutorial groups you need one of these pieces of paper filled out and you have to tell them what you are struggling with.
Tutorial Group: Tutorial groups help us out a lot. You pick a topic that you are struggling with, then you present it. You stay in the tutorial group for the whole semester so it’s good so you get to really get to know your tutor. For example if I was struggling with math, I would pick out a problem that was on my homework or classwork and put it on my trf. Then you write down what you know about the problem; the tutor and peers are supposed to ask questions so you understand better.
Cornell Notes: We do Cornell notes at least 2-3 times a week and you make them following the 1-2-3 rule. The 1-2-3 rule stands for 1 summary 2 pictures and 3 questions. You have to have color in it and your summary has to be more than 3 sentences. They make us do Cornell note because when you write stuff down in notes then you learn to remember it.
Field Trips: In AVID you go on field trips to colleges and it is very helpful and good to do. It gives you a chance to experience what life is like in college. When we went to Mars Hill we got to talk to real college students about what majors are easy to take in college, and what you need to get into college. To me it was a very helpful experience.
Story by Lorya Harbison and Morghyan Harbison
On November 16, 2017, some of the sixth graders at Asheville Middle School held a memorial for an Isaac Dickson teacher who recently passed. Her name was Ms. Genova, and she was a very loved teacher. All of her students thought she was an amazing educator, even the ones who were not in her class were very fond of her. She would call her students the Supernovas and would always care for them. A former Isaac Dickson student described Ms. Genova as being very kind to everyone at school, and thought that it was nice for her former students to be able to get together to say goodbye.
At the memorial, the kids who knew her wrote on pieces of paper all the things they were grateful to Mrs. Genova for. The ones who wanted to gathered around in a circle and read some of the things they wrote. After that, they released a group of balloons together that represented Ms. Genova; this was meant to help the kids with closure. It was a truly beautiful memorial. The staff and students have made a presentation on the memorial, to show some for the events that happened there. Please enjoy, and think fondly of Ms. Genova when you watch it.
Story by Uma Daniel
Every year, Claxton Elementary School has a fall carnival. They have food, games, bouncy houses, music, a haunted house created by the 5th grade, challenges, face painting and music! Admission is $5 and each ticket is $1. You can use the tickets to play games, see the haunted house, and get food.
Some of the games they have are….
There is ice cream from The Hop and pizza and drinks. The ice cream and pizza are 2 tickets and the drinks are 1.
The Haunted Hall
The 5th graders create a haunted hall each year. This year they had A LOT of caution tape and clowns. It is 2 tickets.
I think everyone had a lot of fun here. I know I did! Everyone I saw there was smiling. My favorite part was the cake walk. Me and my friend won 3 cakes together!
Story by Sophie Kafka
Rebecca Wertheim has been chosen for the teacher of the year in our district. She has been working at Claxton Elementary School for 4 years, and is working on her fifth. She is an absolutely lovely person and I’m very happy I’m writing about her. Now, you're probably thinking that I’m just saying she’s wonderful just because, but I’m not. I actually had Ms. Wertheim for her first year of working at Claxton! She works in the second grade.
In order to tell her that she'd won, she was called to surprise assembly, and during the assembly they talked to all the teachers about how well they all did. Then someone told Ms. Wertheim she was the teacher of the year! Ms. Wertheim was so happy, she actually shed tears. She also got to see family members such as her mother.
According to Asheville City Schools website, Ms. Wertheim has written a book, she’s also become a Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator, and is part of the Claxton School Improvement Team. Wow. Thank you, Ms. Wertheim, for being an amazing teacher, and I wish you congratulations!
Story by Emma Locane