All band, all music

Story by: Ian Carson, Editor in Chief
Photos by: Jennifer McGowen, staff photographer

honor band

The Mt. Vernon High School band added another award to their long list of accomplishments. The band has earned the “All-Music Award” for their accomplishments this year. The last time the band earned this honor was in 2013, and before then the band had only won it three times.

In order to earn the award, the band must earn a gold at a state marching competition, a gold in a jazz festival, a gold at a concert band festival, and must have one ensemble and one soloist earn a gold at the state final level. The Mt. Vernon band met, and exceeded in some cases, all these requirements, with more than 30 students earning gold medals at the state solo and ensemble finalist.

Students at Mt. Vernon were obviously astounded upon hearing this news.

“It’s super cool that they are able to do that,” said Stephen Shilling, 12. “We have a talented band program here at MV.”

The Mt. Vernon band will participate in all the required events next year, making them eligible to receive the award again in 2017.

Mini-Marauders move to Fortville

Story by: Claire Dorsch, Features Editor
Photos by: Samuel Jobe

preschool

At Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation, there is a vast amount of resources at their fingertips. They have a competent transportation department, a reliable janitorial staff, a caring special-ed department, and much more. This year, there will be another program added to the community: The Mini-Marauder Early Learning Academy.

The new school’s goal is to provide quality education to kids ages three to five in the district at an affordable price. Although there is already a preschool existing at Mt. Comfort Elementary School, it is for children who are developmentally delayed. The new preschool will accept all children within the age range. It will be located in the administrative building, previously known as Fortville Elementary, and begin running in the fall.

“I have heard of [the Mini-Marauder Preschool],” said Mrs. Terrell, a teacher at MVHS and mother of two. “I believe that MV will successfully implement the program, similar to how we successfully implement most initiatives. I think the Mini-Marauder Preschool is a great idea.”

The cost for this preschool is $125 a week, which is competitive in the county, but high enough to bring revenue to the community, both benefiting the school and the parents of the preschoolers.

presschool 2It was Dr. Robbins’ idea to start the preschool program for the children of MVCSC who are not old enough to enroll in one of our three elementary schools.

“As I have spent my time evaluating our operational structure and the opportunities we have before us, it became evident early that opening a preschool at the Administration building was something I thought would benefit our community,” said Dr. Robbins. “The developmentally delayed preschool at Mt. Comfort will relocate to the administration building and we will open a typical peer preschool program. This will provide our community with robust and well rounded programming opportunities.”

The current administrative building used to be Fortville Elementary but closed and remained vacant for some time. Dr. Robbins took advantage of the empty, ventilated building and made it the new admin building. The old admin building is now the home of the Department of Transportation. It is the center of the bussing for students who are not dropped off or given rides to school.

There will be specific personnel for children who qualify for special needs assistance.

Dr. Robbins is very confident in the success of the program.

“I think the access to an organized learning environment is a plus. I also feel that the early structured introduction to a blended learning environment is an advantage for students entering our school district. Finally, I feel like our program is a very cost effective program.”

The preschool is currently accepting applications for staff members who want to be a part of this new program. Parents of children who want to attend the preschool can apply now as well. It is open to children of the community, including the children of students of MVHS.

“I am definitely considering the program, but I would like the gross-motor play time to be a bit longer,” said Mrs. Terrell.

Hopefully this program will benefit the children of MVCSC. They are offering full and half day enrollment.

Setting a goal for equal pay

Story by: Sydney Blankenship, staff writer
Photo by: Elizabeth Miller, staff photographer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The battle for equal pay has been long and ongoing, and the fight has moved its way into soccer. Five women of the United States women’s national soccer team have filed a wage-discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) using the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the USSF’s 2015 financial records, the women made about a quarter of what the men earned. The EEOC will conduct an investigation to determine if the findings warrant compensation for the team. They are working with the law firm Winston & Strawn.

“In early January, the Women’s National Team Players Association submitted a reasonable proposal for a new CBA that had equal pay for equal work as its guiding principle,” Joe Kessler, co-chairman of the Winston & Strawn, said. “U.S. Soccer responded by suing the players in an effort to keep in place the discriminatory and unfair treatment they have endured for years.”

The law firm is currently in a legal dispute with U.S. Soccer over the terms of their collective bargaining agreement. The federation filed a lawsuit earlier this year hoping to clear up the contract with the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Players Association that runs until December 31.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has recently joined the fight for equal pay. At a discussion for women’s equal pay, Clinton complimented one of the women on the team, Megan Rapinoe, midfielder, for her efforts for equal pay. The men’s United States soccer team is also cheering the women on.

“I think it is something that needs to be done,” Avery Haines, 12 said. “The women’s team brought in more revenue than the men. The men lost most games, while the women won the championship, so it is only fair women fight for equal pay.”

Recently, five players from the women’s team threatened to boycott the Olympics in hopes of closing the wage gap. The debate is still in progress.

Hamburger grandpa

Story by: Hannah Warfel, staff writer

On March 16, when an Oklahoma college student, Kelsey Harmon, got on her Twitter account to tease her cousins, she was not expecting for the tweet to go viral.

Kelsey and her five cousins were suppose to go to their grandfather’s house that night to have dinner, but Kelsey was the only one who showed up. When it became apparent to her that none of her cousins would be joining them, Kelsey took to Twitter and posted a heart wrenching photo of her grandfather gazing sadly at one of the twelve hamburgers he had made for his grandchildren.

“Aww!” said Nikki Schreiner, 10, upon viewing the picture, “That’s really depressing, ’cause he’s eating the hamburger all by himself. That’s really sad.”

Soon enough, Twitter was buzzing with crying emojis and even death threats that were aimed toward the five grandkids who were not able to make it to dinner.

The family was quick to explain that Kelsey’s post was nothing more that a joke and that the six grandkids went over to their grandfather’s house very often.

Brandon Harmon, one of Kelsey’s cousins, explained the joke before saying, “For those who have their grandparents around, call them, tell them you love them. Make an effort to go see them.”

The picture was able to do much more than it’s original intention of playful teasing. It reminded a vast majority of the teenagers in the US how important family really is.

Band hits a golden chord

Story by: Carly McWilliams, staff writer
Photos by: Jennifer McGowen, staff photography

Band pic 1.jpg

The Mt. Vernon High School band traveled to Pendleton Heights High School for the ISSMA Senior High School Organizational Festival on April 22, 2016.

ISSMA, the Indiana State School Music Association, has been hosting competitions and festivals for school bands, orchestras, choirs, and ensembles since 1981.

The band performed three pieces, “High School Cadets,” “Variations on a Korean Folk Song,” and “Heaven’s Light.” Band members were also required to perform a sight reading of a piece of music they had never practiced before. Overall, they received a gold rating for both their performance and sight reading.

“I think we have worked hard as an ensemble and our hard work paid off,” said Emma Flick, 10.

There are still opportunities to see the Mt. Vernon Band perform: they will be playing at the Extravaganza concert, held on May 13th and 14th at 7 p.m. in the auditorium. The concert also features the jazz band, 8th grade band, and a steel pan ensemble.

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China can’t take a joke

Story by: Carly McWilliams, staff writer
Photo by: Amanda Wiggins, staff photographer

China

China caused a controversy this past April 1 when their state media declared a ban on April Fools jokes.

The news agency Xinhua announced through social media that “‘Fools’ Day’ is not consistent with our cultural tradition or socialist core values. We hope you will not believe, create, or spread rumors.”

Many replies to the post were humorous, some even mocking. One user commented that the announcement was “the funniest thing today,” while another even said, “The most amusing ‘April Fools’ news is that Xinhua is seriously saying ‘don’t believe rumours’.”

Within hours, the post had been shared over 8,600 times. After receiving the uproar of responses, Xinhua blocked all comments and shares on their post.

No mo fro yo

Story by: Emme Longman, staff writer
Photos by: Mackenzie Carpenter, Photography Editor

orange leaf main

The Orange Leaf franchise was recently sued by Patel, an Oklahoma City-based franchise, for about $33 million dollars for not paying their rent lease. The Orange Leafs that are located in shopping malls have to pay the monthly rent of anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000.

The franchise is in court right now, but the Orange Leaf stores in Indiana were not closed for bankruptcy. Three Indiana buildings were closed without warning for “personal reasons.” The corporate office says they plan to reopen in the “very near future.”

“They need to get out of their lawsuit because the joy and happiness of having orange leaf is not justified by not being able to have it,” said Ava Hampton, 9.

orange leafThe closing is unfortunate because Orange Leaf was a place where people could have dessert that had 4 grams of sugar per serving rather than the 7 grams of sugar per serving in ice cream, which is better for people’s health.

Now, all the children who live in Carmel, Fishers, Muncie, and Noblesville will no longer have the flavor of Orange Leaf frozen yogurt close to home.

ISTEP stress

Story by: Dakota Fisher, Sports Editor
Photo by: Amanda Wiggins, staff photographer

ISTEP.jpg

ISTEP, who could imagine that five simple letters could cause so much stress? The ISTEP test has made a reappearance in high schools across Indiana.

Freshmen and sophomores, even sophomores who had previously taken the ECA, had to take the ISTEP test the week before spring break. However, the scores were not counted for students who have taken, and passed the ECA. Sophomores that have not taken the ECA will take both the ECA at the end of the semester and ISTEP in both March and April.  

“I think it’s ridiculous that we had to take the ISTEP again,” said Zoe Jackson, 10. “I thought we were finished with that in like the 7th grade.”  

For the past year, many Indiana lawmakers have tried to replace current standardized testing with a cheaper, generic version in order to save money.

“A bill just passed that has cancelled ISTEP after next year (2016-2017 year). It will be replaced by something eventually but that is unclear at this moment,” said MVHS counselor, Jamie Beaver.

The Indiana Board of Education has plans to eliminate the ISTEP test within the next two years and replace it with a new test, the nature of which is undecided. According to chalkbeat.org, State Superintendent Glenda Ritz has proposed reshaping the state testing system so students would take a series of shorter tests that could be combined into a final yearly score.

#OurThreeBoys

Story by: Jenna Jones, Opinions Editor

There is cause for alarm in Fort Wayne, Indiana following the murder of three young men late last month. The murders, which have yet to be solved or even have an identified motive, are a mystery that is frightening many of those within the community.

Mohamedtaha Omar, Adam Mekki, and Muhannad Tairab–ages 23, 20, and 17 respectively–were shot and killed in what is known as “execution style” in an abandoned house that has been connected to local gang violence in the past. The three boys had no connection to any gangs in the area, which has caused friends and family of the boys to consider other motives for the murders.

Investigators of the murders do not believe the murders were a hate crime, but the community is not convinced. Last year a similar murder of three Muslims occurred in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and citizens in Fort Wayne have taken to social media to spread awareness of the murders, using the tag #OurThreeBoys.

There has been controversy surrounding the issue, especially in regarding it as a hate crime. All three of the boys are not originally from the United States, but only two of them were Muslim.

Although the police force has stated that they do not believe the murders were carried out due to the religious beliefs or regional background, it is considered by many in the Muslim to have been a hate crime. Especially since the murder was carried out in the same way another was, despite the differences in location and time period.

Kahled Beydoun tweeted,

Black
Muslim
Immigrant
Poor & Working Class
Dead

These 3 men killed WED. We still know nothing.  #OurThreeBoys

Another concerned citizen under the name of falasteenia98 tweeted, “Chapel Hill is a hate crime. Fort Wayne is a hate crime. All 6 were shot execution style because of their faith. #FortWayneShooting.”

Earlier this year in Plainfield, the Islamic Society of North America’s mosque had been vandalized, striking fear into the surrounding communities. The possibility of this being a hate crime could cause issues within and around Indiana’s Muslim and Middle Eastern populations.

Choose kind all week

Story by: Claire Dorsch, Features Editor
Photo by: Amanda Wiggins, staff photographer

choose kind

One of the weeks that Student Government sponsors throughout the year at Mt. Vernon is Choose Kind Week. This year it lasted from Feb 29 through March 4. On Monday the 29th, a special guest was invited to give an inspirational speech for Choose Kind Week. Kevin Wanzer has been a motivational comedian for over thirty years. The Mt. Vernon Education Foundation allowed Kevin to give one of his more popular speeches to MVHS because Emily Fleming, 12, wrote a grant to the MVEF.

I feel like the convocation was inspiring and relatable,” said Hailey Davidson, 9. “Kevin Wanzer made it funny and easy to learn what it means to truly be kind, and to understand what it means to be kind. I believe that the convocation was very empowering.”

Kevin was enjoyed by all that attended, and it is all thanks to Emily Fleming.

“He was an incredible speaker and the moment I looked onto the crowd and saw everyone truly engaged, I knew that he needed to come to Mt. Vernon,” said Fleming. “I was then lucky enough to go back to the camp the following year and heard him again. So, this year I wanted to make it happen. I started talking to Miss Naum, the guidance intern, and she absolutely loved the idea. After contacting Andrea from the MVEF, I think it was a done deal.”

Tuesday was a day to pledge to Choose Kind, Wednesday the StuGov placed meaningful quotes on every locker in the school, Thursday was the placement of kindness zones around the building and Friday was high fives all around.