Chromebook check up

Story by: Ashley Offenbach, staff writer
Photo by: Mackenzie Carpenter, Photo Editor

chromebook

Mt. Vernon High School students received Chromebooks this year to improve the educational environment. Students are able to work on homework, schoolwork, and personal work. High school students will continue to use these throughout their high school career and in years to come.

¨We will continue to expand the number of access points in the building to minimize dead spots in the building. The biggest change will be to continue to encourage innovation and research into ways to engage students and empower students in their courses,¨ said Dr. Robbins.

¨When students and staff adapt to operating in a blended environment we should see greater examples of project based learning,” said Dr. Robbins. “Some courses are naturally designed for PBL, however, the use of technology encourages that approach across the content areas.  We hope to see greater examples of teachers not only facilitating information, but learning along with students.¨

Only the middle schoolers and high schoolers use Chromebooks, while the elementary students use iPads. When the fifth graders move on to sixth grade they will be receiving Chromebooks.

Dr. Robbins explained how the use of the laptops will start to change over the years,especially when fifth graders become sixth graders and move to the middle school. They also are used differently whether in high school, middle school, or eighth grade academy.

¨While the device will change, the operational environment such as the use of Google Tools and the EdMentum products will not change. There is some screen tapping as the touch screen is not a feature on the Chromebook. However, Dell has developed a new chromebook that does have a touch screen, so that might be a natural evolution for us as a district.¨

He continued, ¨The main difference is the use of a keyboard. Our goal with the primary grades was to introduce them to academics in a digital environment. However, we also felt that the lack of keyboarding skills would be a limiting factor; therefore the iPad was the obvious decision. As students get older and begin typing and researching at greater levels, the iPad really becomes limited. It does not operate as well in a Google environment thus limiting the collaboration capabilities.¨

Even though Mount Vernon students have only had Chromebooks for a year, they have become beneficial for successful learning at Mt. Vernon. These computers run faster and work more effectively than the older computers most teachers used to have in their classrooms.

Dr. Robbins said, ¨I am convinced the lightweight nature of Chrome OS is a big reason why most students enjoy using the Chromebook. They can do everything the students need to do with fewer problems. There are no driver issues and no software glitches to deal with. Hit the power button, sign in, and you can be productive in seconds. That is what computing should be like all the time.

¨Furthermore, there is little overhead required,” Dr. Robbins added. “In regards to the previous computers in the classroom I would simply say this…It is pretty hard to carry a desktop home, therefore the digital environment was limited to only those classrooms.¨

Shield Shack is where it’s at

Story by: Ashley Offenbach, Staff Writer
Photos by: Amanda Wiggins, Staff Photograper

Shield shack

There are many students who arrive at school and realize they have forgotten a pencil, highlighter, or poster board, then start stressing because they do not want a zero or a late assignment in a class. If you ever come to school unprepared for the day there is now a solution.

The daily announcements read, “Hello all! Do you ever come to school without a pencil? Ever need a hair tie ASAP? Phone dead and you forgot your charger? Come on down to The Shield Shack, a store run by students for students. Get your spirit wear, school supplies, and electronic desires! Opening today!”

The store, called The Shield Shack, opened Wednesday December 3rd and is available before and after school. It is located across the cafeteria and by the auditorium doors. Ms. Ousley’s Entrepreneurship class is in charge of the Shield Shack and she is the sponsor.

Ms. Ousley said, ¨The Shield Shack will be open for the rest of the year.  Our current hours of operation are through third block (so that we can serve students on every lunch) and SRT.  Following Christmas Break, we will have our ‘Grand Opening’ and be open from 8-8:30 in the morning in addition to our lunchtime hours.¨

Shelbi Webb, 11, said, ¨I think it is a great idea to have a small store for students. I believe if a student carries money with them they will use the store when they forget something.¨

So if you ever forget an item you need, whether for yourself or a class, stop by The Shield Shack.

 

Prices raising for the holidays

Story by: Ashley Offenbach, staff writer
Photos by: Ashley Offenbach, staff writer

prices

 

Starting on Black Friday, a day where people crowd the street for deals, prices for products change dramatically. The day after Thanksgiving, for one day, prices are at the lowest, then they skyrocket.

December is when most people get their holiday shopping done. There is most likely not many people in October or even most of November shopping for holiday gifts. It all starts after Black Friday. Stores are crowded, lines stretch to the back of the store to get family and friends the best gift cards or the newest device that just came out.

Stores see this as a time to get customers to spend a lot of money on products. Stores raise prices as it gets closer to Christmas because people buying gifts very close to the holidays will sometimes be willing to pay more just to get what they want.

Why are the prices during eleven out of the twelve months lower, while the last month of the year has insane prices? Because the company knows the customer will buy them for gifts, if they are last-minute shopping close to the holidays.

Stores put their Christmas trees out as soon as Halloween ends with what they claim are amazing deals. Some people think this is too early, but are willing to the price. Others want the deal, and they want it quick.

Taylor Bragdon, 12, said, “They make special deals so that you buy more so you spend as much, if not more, than you normally would. I personally feel like it is better to start Christmas shopping earlier like during all the semiannual sales in July so you aren’t tempted to buy as much but still get a good deal.¨

The prices for anything, especially if it is holiday related, such as trees, ornaments, or lights, are going to be significantly cheaper in November than in December.

So it is time to think about when buying holiday gifts are more convenient, November or December, so customers are saving money, or the stores should just keep their prices at a reasonable price through the holidays.

Marching band success

Story by: Ashley Offenbach, staff writer
Photos by: Mackenzie Carpenter, Photo Editor

Marching band

The Mt. Vernon High School Marching Band has been doing considerably well this year, and are working very hard as a group to improve their performances each year. The band director, Mr. Ellinger, has made the MVHS Marching Band more successful over the past two years and has each and every student working precisely and putting as much dedication into it as they can.

The students in marching band spend many hours a week practicing to improve their scores at competition as well as practicing for performances.

Katie Smith, 11, put many hours into practicing and perfecting routines in order to get better scores and feel more accomplished.

¨We normally practice during school (1st block) as well as two 3 hour practices after school during the week,” said Smith. “On competition days, we practice for about 3-4 hours and then we prepare to perform that day, so we will be at band from about 7:30 in the morning to 9 or 10 at night some days. We also do football games on fridays and those like to run from after school until the end of the game. On the saturdays that we don’t have a competition, we usually have 8-5 practices

Mr. Ellinger challenges the students who participate in marching band each year, in order to get them to improve. Setting goals is important to Mr. Ellinger and he works extremely hard to help students achieve their goals as well.

¨Competitive marching bands are judged by six individuals rating their musical and visual talents in addition to judging the show itself,” Mr. Ellinger said,  “We want to make sure each student is performing their music while marching at a high level, but also performing in a way which makes “story” we are performing make sense. When instructing the students, our staff is dedicated to ensuring each student is doing their part. We all must contribute equally if we are to be successful. This is our primary goal…equal contribution

Marching band percussionMany upperclassmen in the MVHS Marching Band have put four hard years of dedication and commitment into the marching band.

Students in marching band dedicate a ton of time to perfecting their routines.

¨Our state finals week saw a more intense practice schedule,¨ said Mr. Ellinger. ¨While we normally practice every morning and Tuesday/Thursday evenings, our state finals week schedule saw practices every morning and every evening from 6pm-9pm. The performance at state finals was very solid. The students did not let the high winds or rainy weather alter their performance. Sometimes bands will enter a state finals scenario and become nervous or ‘over-hyped’. I was glad the students were calm and focused the entire day. I could not have been happier with their final show.¨

Evan Schacherer, drum major, 12, explains how marching band has made a difference in his life and helped him decide what his passion was, music.

¨Marching Band has allowed me to discover my passion for music and allowed me to decide what I want to do in life,” said Schacherer. “Marching Band has had an enormous impact on my life which has made me into who I am today. I will always continue to use what I have learned in Marching Band because it is a part of who I am.¨

The MVHS Marching Band just went to a competition Saturday, October 24, and because of all their hard work and dedication, they received fourth in the state.

marching band guard

Charter schools vs public schools

Story by: Ashley Offenbach, staff writer
Photo by: Mackenzie Carpenter

ISTEP

All public schools and charter schools get money from the state, but they have different ways of spending it. The state has higher standards for a public school, especially with standardized tests, while charter schools have more choices and freedom with what they choose to test their students over.

For example, The ISTEP test ,Indiana State Test for Educational Progress-Plus, is only required for students who go to public schools. The school then receives an average score, which either benefits or is held against a public school. When in a public school almost all students test, but in charter schools you do not have to test at all, but most schools have the option to test or not to test.

Proposed Senate Bill 470 will allow charter schools the ability to decide whether or not to give the ISTEP. If this bill passes, the principal of the charter school will make a decision on behalf of the school whether or not to offer the test.

In public schools, parents of elementary and middle school students are able to opt out of ISTEP, but the majority of students still take the standardized test. If a child does not participate in the ISTEP, it does not affect them in any way, but it is held against the school. If a child opts out of ISTEP, the school must provide an activity for the child to complete during the school day.

Public schools automatically receive a certain amount of money from the state, and have some freedom, but also have higher standards the state expects of them. Charter schools, which are also a public school, are also  handed money from the state, but they don’t have to test students or be rated as a school and they get to hand pick and accept or deny students the opportunity to attend.

Because they are not required to take this test, it neither benefits nor is held against the schools. The schools can still choose to test, but most do not. Because they do not test, the majority of charter schools are doing very poorly or failing.

According to WTHR, “Nearly half of the state’s 76 Charter schools are doing poorly or failing.”

Because charter schools and public schools both receive money, they both have the choice to put it toward a variety of different things such as: educational learning tools, classroom or school equipment, or sports teams and after school activities. Most public schools are putting it towards learning, while the majority of charter schools may also be putting it towards educational learning, but because most of them not testing students, charter schools are doing much more poorly.

2015 Predictions: we are the future

By Ashley Offenbach, staff writer

“Back to the Future Two” was a huge movie released in 1989. In 1989, characters thought 1980’s would be ancient history, and 2015 was far from the future, but 2015 is already here.

One prediction the movie made was there would be power shoelaces in 2015, and that prediction hasn’t come true. Imagine not having to bend down, and using the push of a button and a shoelace is tied. People still have to bend down and tie or velcro shoes, power shoelaces would tie themselves, so this is far from becoming an invention.

A prediction from the movie that has come true is being able to go to a movie theater and watching 3D movies. Although the first ever 3D movie was released in 1922, they were not common until the 1980’s. When they became common in the 1980’s, many people would go and watch 3D movies, but they were far less advanced than they are today. During a small period of time they were very popular, but then because the technology was so poor, they died off fast. Now they make a movie and not long after they remake it in 3D only.

Another prediction that has come true is something used in almost everyday life: tablet computers. Tablet computers are now used on a regular basis, and are an easier way to store information than a laptop.

Gawker.com wrote in a statement, “The tablet featured in the film is much clunkier than the tablets we have today, but the idea is still the same: something small and wireless that people can do cool things with. Like save clock towers. Or play angry birds.”

A huge part of this movie is when the characters rode in flying cars. This is something that is far from coming true. Most people today could not imagine flying cars being invented for many years.

Emily Frost,10, said, “I think it will happen, but not in 2015, because cars are really advancing right now, but not that rapidly. They already have cars that can drive themselves, so they are one step closer to flying cars.”

Another prediction that has yet to come true in 2015 is autofitting or size-adjusting clothes. When the actors put these clothes on, they will adjust to the correct size and fit them perfectly. Imagine going clothes shopping, trying on clothes, and having them automatically turn into the correct size. That would make clothes shopping a lot easier.

One of the biggest predictions the movie made, and perhaps the most true prediction,is the obsession with electronics. Some families struggle with sitting down to eat and not having a phone out, and others watch TV while they eat. This generation can’t imagine a TV without basic cable, Netflix, or regular cable, tablets, and phones.

Although “Back to the Future Two” made some crazy predictions that haven’t come close to true, some of the predictions were crazily accurate. Even though this movie was released in 1989, the cast and crew had a somewhat well-fitting idea of how we would live today.

Doc Emmett Brown said, “We are descending toward Hill Valley, California,at 4:29pm, on Wednesday, October 21, 2015.”

Time to start the “Back to the Future” countdown. Starting now.