NEWS RAMBLINGS: New Year, new developments

BY ELISABETH JACKSON | ILLUSTRATION BY LEAH ELY

FEBRAMBLEWay to start off the new year with a bang! The exploding hoverboards are not turning out like everyone had planned. Looks like it’s back to the drawing boards for 2015’s attempt to memorialize Back to the Future, much like the reign of Apple over the modern generation. With their recent announcement to make all new iPhones only compatible with Apple headphones, it would not be surprising if everyone (except maybe the Powerball winner) drop the iPhone to better explore the Galaxy.

Speaking of basic people trying new things, the fashion company Dolce & Gabbana launched a line of hijabs and abayas… modeled by caucasian women whose religion is up for debate. A cosmetic company out of Thailand released its new skin whitener, Snowz. Who would want that, you ask? The model involved with the product states, “You just need to be white to win.” So, Super Bowl fans, watch to see how that theory plays out for your favorite team. Whatever the result of that contest may be, it is now clear that history is doomed to repeat itself: Michael Jackson obviously wasn’t warning enough. Next, maybe foot binding will make a comeback.

With 7.5 million students in the U.S. racking up a month of school absences each year on average, it’s astonishing that little old Papio South has 20 students attending a knitting club each week. Then again, with our new Junior High soon to be cranking out more and more overly sensitive, chocolate craving students from PMS (Papillion Middle School) each year, knitting seems like a natural development.

Another natural thing: Valentine’s Day and heartbreak. This seemingly lovey-dovey holiday is cursed and everyone knows it. You’re either forever alone or stranded in the old market staring at the ashes of M’s pub with your date.

Now that it seems like an appropriate time to begin thinking about the upcoming presidential election, it’s as if everything is already decided. When Donald Trump is elected president by his seemingly invisible large group of supporters, everyone will be forced to pack their bags into canoes, and flood Canada. It’s unfortunate Canada’s made citizenship so tricky in light of our upcoming political problems. At least with Offutt and Obama lurking around our neighborhoods we’ll be partially sheltered from the upcoming political events. It just seems a little suspicious that Hillary Clinton can put national security at risk by having highly classified intel on her personal server, yet you can’t watch a pirated movie one time without your laptop catching a virus.

On a lighter note, it is the time of year you should be sleeping with your PJs inside out and praying for a snow day each night. You know you all want one. Take that $9 minimum wage, indulge your significant other this Valentine’s Day. Forget the new dietary guidelines! You weren’t going to keep your New Year’s resolution anyway.

Alamo Theater’s Star Wars excitement has its limits

BY RILEY TOLAN KEIG | PHOTO COURTESY OF ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE CINEMA IN LA VISTA

DrafthouseIf you’re looking for a new place to see a movie, why not go to Omaha’s own Star Wars themed Alamo Drafthouse? The Alamo opened in La Vista on Nov. 2nd, and it’s already received national attention. Publications such as Variety and Entertainment Weekly have said the theater will attract movie fanatics. “Star Wars fans might be making a journey to the Midwest for future franchise releases.” Variety said. While other theaters play standard trailers promoting other upcoming movies, the Alamo offers ‘pre-shows’ designed around the feature movie goers come to see. “If you are going to watch Star Wars, you’ll see R2D2 clips, old star wars clips, just some stupid stuff from the past. They used to come from just Youtube but now it comes from a bunch of different places,” Christopher Calabrese, one of the Omaha Alamo theater managers said. Many students who have gone to the theater have said they liked them. “The previews were quite interesting and unique, and funny,” Junior Jennifer Hall said. Alamo Drafthouse has many nontraditional qualities, including one that may not be as exciting for high schoolers.

The age policy, which states customers must be “18 and up; Children 6 and up will be allowed only with an adult. No children under the age of 6 will be allowed”. This policy pops up when purchasing tickets online. Some people, especially teenagers, believe that it might affect the Alamo’s ticket sales negatively. Senior Johnathan Hunt works at Twin Creek Cinema, and said the Alamo’s policy made it less of a threat to the Bellevue theater’s business. “It’s supposed to take a little bit of our competition, but I think it’s supposed to be more for older people like 21 and older,” He said. Few teens want to tag along with Mom and Dad on movie night with friends. Calabrese said the age policy was something the Alamo might be looking to change. “It’s not necessarily an age policy, it’s a behavior policy. Alamo Drafthouse believes in preserving the cinematic experience. And making sure that going to the movie is about the movie. So we don’t want any distractions in our movies theatres,” Calabrese said. “That’s why we have the no talking, no texting policy. And it’s hard to give a no talking warning policy to a five year old.” So even though high schoolers can’t go to the Alamo by themselves, there is A New Hope for that to change.

‘The Force Awakens’: Star Wars revival or retread?

BY TRISTON FAIRCHILD

From raging space wars, to a soft love story and all that lies in between, Star Wars has captivated fans from all corners of the globe since 1977 when George Lucas and company released “Star Wars: A New Hope” which we now know as Episode IV.

As the original Star Wars movies gain critics love and admiration, the prequels (Episodes I-III) have been known to draw scrutiny due to a variety of reasons that include a sci-fi cheesiness and predictability, amongst others.

The newest movie in the Star Wars saga was released on Dec. 18, 2015. The movie was named “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” or Episode VII. Critically acclaimed as one of the best of all the Star Wars movies, “The Force Awakens” drew high interest and box office sales skyrocketed, even surpassing James Cameron’s “Avatar” for record sales in the U.S.

In the movie we meet FN-2187 (later named Finn), a First Order (bad guy) storm trooper who was taken from his family as an infant and raised to be a stone cold killer. The only problem is that he’s entirely different than the rest and his compassion and intuition often get the best of him. In his first battle, he is ordered to kill innocent villagers on the planet Jakku. After realizing he can’t kill innocent people, he recruits the help of top-notch rebel pilot and first order prisoner, Poe Dameron, to leave the First Order.

After narrowly escaping the First Order ship, they head to Jakku to recover a droid that has a piece of a map to one of the last known Jedi, Luke Skywalker. There, after losing Poe, Finn meets Rey and, long story short, they have to take the map-filled droid called BB-8 to the Resistance’s (Rebels in the old movie) headquarters in order to find the powerful and mystical Jedi Luke Skywalker. In the mean-time, the resistance has to make sure that their base doesn’t get blown up by a new age Death Star that can take out entire systems of planets at once.

Sophomore Ethan Huntley said, “Episode VII has almost the same plot-line as Episode IV and, while I like the new villain, Kylo Ren, and his obsession with his (spoiler alert) grandpa, Darth Vader, I didn’t like how similar the movies were.”

In Episode IV, “A New Hope”, newly-crowned Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker joins the rebellion and takes out the infamous Death Star, a weapon capable of destroying an entire planet (or star cruiser) in one shot. Ironically, a droid called R2-D2 carries an important message to long-time Jedi Ben Kenobi, very similar to the BB-8 droid that carried a piece of the map to Skywalker in Episode VII.

Huntley went on to say, “I really liked the new villain Kylo Ren and the new hero Rey. It truly was a good movie, I just hope the next episode is more original.”

While the special effects were far more advanced than that of its earlier counterparts, the tradition and “Star wars feel” was still entirely present, even in the new plants such as Jakku (Rey’s home planet).

While some Star Wars junkies were not-so excited about the latest episode, Star Wars “newby”, PLS Science teacher, Briar Scheutz felt the movie was “Very good because it had all of the elements of a good movie. It had action, external and internal conflict, and an added element of kids vs. parents in a twisted and large family.”

“Rey is a Skywalker no doubt in some way,” Jared Norblade, Senior, Star Wars enthusiast, and known force-connoisseur, said. Norblade has seen all the movies and is highly knowledgeable in the force. “I really enjoyed the movie and the new humor that accompanied it unlike the others which were far more serious. Especially the prequels.”

When asked about how he felt about some of the new changes that have been made to Star Wars in Episode VII, Norblade said he “loved the changes. This movie was definitely one of the best one and I liked the new mystery of Rey. I’m excited because it’s a new beginning.”

The only complaint from Norblade? “I was mad when it ended because I was so into the movie and it cut my brain off when it was happy.”

From Han Solo to Princess Leia and all characters in between, Star Wars has captivated audiences since 1977 and continues to knock it out of the park with Episode VII topping charts and breaking records in the U.S.

The choice is yours, whether you like the new Star Wars characters and changes that come with it, but one thing is for certain, as Norblade said,“there’s so much history, yet a long story ahead.”

Funding in dispute, school gets creative with cuts

BY LAUREN FEDEN

Papillion-La Vista South has seen its share of budget cuts this year. One way the school is looking to save money is through reduced busing. “Other high schools are doing the same thing. In some situations, we bus one way: the bus drops them off and parents bring them home,” Activities Director Jeremy Van Ackeren said. “We are doing it to save some money, but if a sponsor tells me to bus both ways, then we will do it.”

Decreased busing will be more prevalent next year, but will be used in some cases this semester. At registration next year, students’ parents will fill out a form stating what modes of transportation their student may take to away activities.

This new policy will save money, and PL South is not the only school participating. Millard, Omaha, and Westside have already been operating this way. When it is safe and possible, students find their own transportation to away activities.

The budget cuts stem from a shortage of school funding on a district level. Funding for Nebraska public schools comes from three main sources: local property taxes and state and federal funding. The funding for Omaha-area districts is greatly impacted by the Learning Community.

The Learning Community was brought about by specialized legislation in 2007 and affects 11 districts in the metro.

“It takes all 11 school districts and puts them in one group financially. They do a common levy, which puts both state and local funding into a pool, and is redistributed back out to the schools by a formula,” Annette Eyman, Director of Communications for PLC Schools said. This state formula is meant to account for poverty, diversity and need.

Papillion La Vista Community Schools has recently questioned the accuracy of the formula. Districts with lower poverty rates than PLC Schools have received more funding and, traditionally, Omaha Public Schools, Millard and Westside have received the most money.

The Learning Community also put in place open enrollment, which means a student in any of the 11 districts can apply to attend a school in a different district and may receive free transportation.This mirrors option enrollment, which is in place over the entire state, though option does not include the transportation.

Students open enrolled in PLC Schools may receive free transportation to school if the student qualifies for free or reduced lunch and lives more than a mile from the school in a bordering district. If a student doesn’t qualify, but adds diversity or improves the socio-economic status of the school, they may receive transportation.

At PL South,“it hasn’t had a big impact on us. Though it has improved diversity,” head principal Jeff Johnson said. “The thing nobody took into account was that the kids are kept from participating in extracurriculars. That vehicle that takes the student to school is provided, but not for activities.”

The district spends $40 daily to bus open enrolled students, that amounts to $7,000 a year per student. This has also had an impact on the state, they spent $4 million for open enrolled students in the 2013-2014 school year.

Losing money while still growing negatively impacts districts. “When you have more kids in the district there is an additional cost to educate them. But there is also an increased revenue from local property taxes. With the Learning Community, we are not able to take advantage of that additional revenue,” Eyman said.

The future of the Learning Community is unclear. Many bills have been introduced in the Nebraska Legislature concerning it.

Senator Jim Smith from District 14 introduced a bill to eliminate the common levy. Senator Roy Baker, from of District 30, has introduced two bills. LB903 is currently backed by all superintendents of the 11 school districts, according to Baker’s blog on the Nebraska Legislature website.

Baker’s other bill, LB904, woukd allow districts to opt out of the learning community if they serve 12,000 students or less. Senator Bill Kintner, from legislative district 2, introduced LB967. This would change learning community districts from open to option enrollment, and would freeze the boundaries of districts, unless districts mutually on adjustments.

Senator Kate Sullivan proposed a bill to eliminate open enrollment and remove other factors of the Learning Community.

Even if legislation removes the Learning Community, the effects of this legislation will still be felt by the districts for years to come. Students will still be affected by reduced busing in the upcoming school year.

Wage law has pluses and minuses for students

wage image

BY ABBY CURRIE

New Year has not only presented Nebraskans with resolutions but has also heightened wages. As of 2016 Nebraska’s minimum wage has increased from $8.00 an hour to $9.00 an hour. In the United States the federal minimum wage sits at $7.25 an hour. Minimum wage remains a controversial issue and affects employees of all ages.

According to economics teacher, Clint Alderson, there are two philosophies behind the effect of minimum wage. The positives and the negatives.

Positive: “Since employees are receiving better compensation for their services, businesses can likely retain workers for a longer period of time limiting turnover amongst job positions.”

Negatives: “The wage hike may be too much for a business to incur and it may have to consider downsizing the staff by letting some workers go,” Alderson said.

pull quote france WEBFINALAccording to BallotPedia.com the average minimum wage worker is 35. “Most work full time; more than one-fourth are parents; and on average they earn half their families’ total income,” stated BallotPedia.

Junior Mia Bravo, a Hy-Vee cashier, says many employees at Hy-Vee are older workers who have retired. “I think it’s nice that they have some extra money to live on because they have worked hard on lots of other jobs,” Bravo said.

Teenagers make up another portion of minimum wage jobs. The younger generation could possibly suffer from a minimum wage increase when employers cannot afford to pay them.

For instance, when the minimum wage rose in France, McDonald’s decided to save money by replacing teen cashiers with kiosk machines.

Machines have already replaced other job opportunities such as factory workers. Bravo explains how certain jobs require human assistance.

“At grocery stores I don’t think that could be an option because there are lots of different things we have to enter and lots of different things we have to make sure we do with every transaction. At places like fast food that would be an option. I know at some movie theaters they have ticket things and nobody has to be there to sell any ticket,” Bravo said.

Senior Evan Wiebe thinks minimum wage has already caused a rise of machine-run grocery stores. “You already see it in today’s society. So many grocery stores have few checkers but have four to five self-checkout machines,” Wiebe said.

Alderson explains that businesses replace human labor with machines to cut costs. “ We already see stores that utilize self-checkout machines when consumers buy products. More businesses may do this in the future if they know the machines are reliable. It’s an alternative to consider if the business knows it can decrease the payroll,” Alderson said.

Economists also predict a reduction in hours when the minimum wage increases. Although this seems to be a generalized statement. According to the Hy-Vee Human Resource manager, Ashlee Kica Johnson, the minimum wage increase hasn’t affected employee hours or benefits.

“Wage increase isn’t something we can control and we still have to have employees available to serve our customers,” Johnson said.

According to BalletPedia, universities will respond to a minimum wage increase with tuition hikes. Some say tuition rises with inflation, while others believe teenager already are in debt from student loans and shouldn’t be hit with a second wave.

Alderson says college students face a burden; tuition costs are high and will continue to rise. “If universities are forced to pay their employees higher wages, the cost is passed down to students with higher tuition Rates,” Alderson said.

“Students may have to consider other educational alternatives rather than attending a four year university system. The likely result is that overall students will create a larger amount of debt through loans to obtain their education.”

Wiebe says inflation has already caused college tuition to incline. “For example if milk prices raised at the same rate as college tuition (since 1980) a milk gallon would cost 23 dollars.

Many opinions exist regarding minimum wage. There is a split view on how the variable of minimum wage will alter the economy.

Government teacher and department head Raymond Keller explains that although minimum wage is controversial, wage increases are designed to provide a living wage for people.

“Some believe this to help the economy, as people have more money to spend and less money being given in the form of welfare. Others believe this increase puts an undue burden on the small business owners and eventually leads to high prices and less demand for workers,” Keller said.

Minimum wage will continue to remain controversial because it affects the economy. The economy is unpredictable and society tries to control it as best they can. There are consequences to tampering with factors in the economy just like there are chances of success and making the right decision. Hopefully the decision causes the economy to rise to a better place.

U.K. attempts to ban xenophobia in form of Trump-stump tirades

COMMENTARY BY ALEXANDRA HAYNES | ILLUSTRATION BY ACE BRADLEY

NEW tru dump (1)Presidential elections may be foreign to any teenager; we’re new up-and-coming voters. However, we’re hearing across the nation that the lead up to this presidential election has been alien to most citizens given that one of the leading 2016 candidates is a billionaire with a cameo in “Home Alone 2” who is bent on shunning a whole religion from the country.

Being English, I can confirm that many British citizens want to believe that Donald Trump’s candidacy is a joke. For so long, my American friends thought so, too, waiting for the cry of “April Fools!” even though it was June. Should Trump come to Presidency, the people of England involved in outcry against him would rather not continue to have the U.K. and U.S. so closely allied. Would Donald’s trumping of the competition set America back by making enemies of the U.S.’ s diversified friends?

The implications made by the billionaire that Britain itself is an example of minority infiltration because of its high Muslim population caused rebuke in the form of petition to ban him from the United Kingdom. This garnered 560,000+ valid signatures, so many that it had to be seriously addressed by Parliament – think, English Congress – although it has been confirmed by the Government that they cannot justify banning a political figure who has committed no international crime. The discussion of the petition became an anti-Trump circle, with lawmaker Victoria Atkins standing to say possibly the most glorious and surmising thing: “His policy to ban Muslims is bonkers.”

Using fearmongering buzzwords and pimping off of increasingly xenophobic attitudes has worked for Trump if only to make his candidacy a hyped conversation.

There remains the belief for some of the English, and some Americans, that a high population of immigrants brings failure to a country. These are the people who support Trump’s deliberately radical statements. For a country that struggles with the economy for its own, providing for new numbers seems near impossible and would be guaranteed to divide the funding up into smaller pieces. The question we must ask ourselves, moralistically, is whether we have responsibility for these people, who, at the end of the day, are human beings who seek, as your ancestors did, a better life on this mass of land.

Below the Statue of Liberty, a poem is inscribed of words such as this: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses … Send these, the homeless, to me … I lift my lamp.” The reason this worldly icon is a figure holding a flame is because America has been a light to this world, a beacon, an open door of opportunity. Trump wants to close that door.

Can we afford to keep it open? Humanistically, we should want to. To do so, or to close it, will be the upcoming President’s choice.

All I can say for certain is that the last time politics built a physical wall, the world regretted it. Not only does Trump want to build a wall to cut off Mexico, but he wants the Mexicans to fund it, too. “I would do something very severe unless they contributed,” Trump said. “I’d build the wall. I’m very good at building things.”

Well, he’s certainly been very good at building controversy. With the Berlin Wall in mind, Trump’s particular promises and his methods to “Make America Great Again” do not seem so great.

________

Individual student opinions expressed in these pages in no way represent a school endorsement.

New ‘Mindset’ expands thinking

BY TYLER STREGE

As students, how often do we stop to think about how you think? Seems a bit redundant, but put some thought into it. At Papillion La-Vista South, many students are in the process of learning about a concept known as the growth mindset. Though some claim to understand exactly what it means and how the entire concept works, how many of us can truthfully say they really do?

“Most people are used to this concept of a fixed mindset, which is basically the belief that you are born with a certain amount of intelligence and that can never be changed,” English teacher Mike Musil said.

Musil explained that a fixed mindset can be observed in parents at conferences who claim they were never very good at English, therefore their children would struggle in the subject as well. “The growth mindset, on the other hand, implies that with the right kind of instruction and critical feedback should allow you to do better,” Musil said.

Studies have shown that students actually begin to perform better after they learn what the growth mindset is. Dr. Musil said, “I’ve seen a lot of growth with a lot of students, the right vehicle of conveying that information needs to be in place,”

Musil believes the correct way to improve a student’s behavior is not through using the current grading system we have in place in class. Musil said, “The best way of doing this is through finding a way to grade their effort without a letter or their percentage,” He explains that there is a “Not Yet” grading system he would like to use, which means that you never fail a test, but are instead given the grade. “Not Yet” will convey a much more friendly and uplifting response, which will give the student the idea they are still growing and need to continue working. It will show students that failure does not define their peak of intelligence.

When asked if he believed the growth mindset was something that could’ve been applied in his previous schools, sophomore Dillon Bathgate said, “I do think it could have an important place in all schools, mostly because students really need to want to succeed to actually do it.”

Some students lack the motivation to want to improve, therefore they continue to be fixed. Math teacher James Simpson explains that he has been teaching the growth mindset for a few years now and has seen great improvement in some students. “Students need to be motivated, that’s the thing that a lot of people don’t notice. With daily effort over time, anything can be accomplished,” Simpson said. “The growth mindset can be applied to anything that you want to set your mind to, if math has been a struggle before and it continues to be a struggle, it has to be something you truthfully apply yourself to.”

Simpson believes most students are only a few steps away from attaining the things they want and can claim it through hard work, perseverance, and self discipline.

10 Questions with Riley Olson

BY BAILEY WHITE

The Papillion La Vista Swim team has made waves this season with 3 wins so far. Captain, senior Riley Olson is leading the team to one of their best seasons yet, while they’re testing the waters for state.

How has the season gone so far?

Riley cutoutThe season has been fantastic. The boys and girls are swimming really well. A lot of people are getting personal records and we’re winning. I think this year we have a good chance of winning or placing at state

What made you choose swimming?

I’ve been swimming since I was ten, so it was just natural for me to join the team since nothing else really interested me.

What’s the biggest challenge with the pool being at the other school?

The biggest challenge physically is trying to get over there, but with half the team being monarchs sometimes there’s differences between the kids at school that kind of tease us because we train with them. It’s nothing that we can’t get over.

Where has the titan monarch mentality become a problem?

Around football time, when it’s the titan monarch game, there’s a bit of tension in the pool, but other than that I’m cool with them, they’re cool with me and we’re all like a family

How would you describe the vibe of the team this season?

We’re just so excited to swim and there’s no drama on the team because there has been some in the past few years. We are so excited that we’ve been winning and getting our best times. the mentality is just that we’ve got this fire. We’re ready to finally beat prep and get the state gold

As captain how do you bring the two schools together?

We have a lot of bonding parties and get togethers, that’s usually the main way because we don’t really fight each other physically, we’re just kind of a family.

How do morning practices affect the team?

For the people that do wake up early and train early I think it makes them better, and after training early I think they want to win and get into the afternoon group because training in the morning sucks.

Does this season have anymore significance for you as a senior?

We have senior night coming up. It’s my last metro meet and my last state meet. It’s going to get really emotional.

What are your plans to continue swimming?

I plan on swimming in college on either the D-2 or D-1 level, but I definitely plan on swimming in college.

What are you trying to do differently this year apart from the past?

I think in other years not everybody was included, so this year the seniors, we kind of drag the freshmen along that don’t want to come to the bonding parties because we are one team.

Get yo snow pants on!

BY ANGEL KOPP | ILLUSTRATION BY KAYLIN PRATT

It was my fault. On Jan. 18 I turned clockwise instead of counter clockwise and we had horrible driving conditions, but no snow day. So to make it up to you, I am going to tell you all the right ways to cause a Snow Day. If we all work together, maybe we can get one. Beware: If you perform these rituals wrong, then you might end up with rough driving conditions instead of a day off of school.

Snow day copy WEB.copyLet’s start with dropping ice in the toilet. This helps freeze the water like snow. You must drop a minimum of six ice cubes and make sure that are none stuck together or else they count as one ice cube. Slowly, let the ice run down your hand into the toilet so no toilet water splashes up on you. Once all the ice is in the toilet flush it away to the Snow Day Gods. Side note: Don’t be afraid of all the ice clogging the toilet. It may look like a lot, but it is ice. It will melt, not clog.

Now we head back to the freezer to place an orange in it. Make sure it is a full orange not a cutie or a clementine. With the freezer door still open, open your arms wide and spin counter clockwise. DO NOT SPIN CLOCKWISE OR YOU WILL END UP LIKE ME WITH BAD ROAD CONDITIONS AND STILL AT SCHOOL. So spin counter clockwise, and only spin around five times. Keep track: Not one spin over.

While you’re in the kitchen grab a nice clean silver spoon. Don’t try and grab a plastic pink spoon. Must be silver. Go ahead and put it under your pillow. Make sure it’s your main pillow not a throw pillow you never use. When sleeping, you won’t even notice the spoon there.

Don’t forget to grab that lucky penny! Tape your lucky penny heads up on your front door, so the Snow Gods can pick up that lucky penny and you may be lucky to get a Snow Day.

Finally the most important thing to do is to wear your pajamas inside out and backward. It might sound goofy, but you’re going to sleep. No one will know but the Snow Gods.

Just some basic guidelines for all of these tricks: to make it snow are to make sure all your brothers, sister and friends join in on the madness. Before you know, it we all will be outside building snowmen and not at school taking a pop quiz.