• Category Archives Opinion
  • Editorial: Something Special

    He was 8 years old when I watched him zip across the pool for the first time.

    John Plutt had just won his first race, a short 25 yard dash, and he touched the wall before other children had reached half.

    Everyone on deck couldn’t help but stare at the small, skinny, kid with arms ten times too long for his body. He hopped clumsily out of the pool, a plucky grin on his face as his mother hurriedly rushed forward to wrap him in a towel. Even in the 90 degree summer heat, John was turning blue and shivering as he walked off to talk to our coach.

    Every swimmer, coach, and dedicated parent who got to witness this historic first dip into competition knew that they had just watched something- someone- special.

    Of course, at the time, none of us knew how special John would be.

    Fast forward a couple years, I’m 12 and John’s 10. We had been swimming together for two years now, and I had been there for every practice the kid had ever had. We were lane buddies, both of us just fast enough to swim with the senior group of our team, but not old enough to be part of the social circle that came with it. Obviously, getting ignored by the oh-so-inspiring high schoolers allowed for plenty of time for John and I to get to know each other. By the time I was in middle school, I had a second little brother, and a training partner for life.

    I remember when he made his first state time, it was at a winter meet, and we were some of the only kids who even swam during the winter for our small developmental club team. It was the 100 fly, I remember he broke 1:10, and I remember screaming so loud my voice was hoarse the rest of the day. He ran from behind the blocks to our coach, who sent him quickly over to his mom and I, who he attacked in the biggest hugs he could manage at the young age of 11.

    That was the moment John became something more, as a swimmer. He got hungry, he wanted to swim more events at state, and his work reflected that. He stopped playing other sports, and he decided he really loved swimming. As far as I know, he’s never looked back.

    That first state meet was the start of a long line of state meets, and lots of races that John won. I learned very quickly that John refused to lose.

    It was that desire, that dream to win, that propelled John to convince his family into letting him switch teams with me during his 6th grade year. We left for a more competitive environment, one where I could train with other girls my age, and John could try his might against some of the older year-round boys.

    So we left, we moved, and it was terrifying. I remember John being worried that the coach would be mean.

    Little did he know that Josh Cortese, our coach, would end up being the best person to prepare him for what was to come.

    Some of the biggest turning-point races in John’s life were at a small, summer-league meets.

    Josh decided to test John by making him swim in “The Open.”

    “The Open” age group, during summer, is for kids over the age of 15, but younger kids can be entered by their coaches. At 13, John happily accepted the challenge, he swam, and still swims, with these much older kids every day. He races them in practice, and he never backs down.

    He didn’t falter in the face of this bigger obstacle. He swam with kids almost five years his senior at that league meet, and for the first time ever John realized he was not limited to being good in his own grouping, He learned that, with hard-work, age really is negotiable. The older boys quickly took him into their ranks, and helped to train him to another level.

    During his eighth grade year, we carpooled to Pueblo County High School every day for swim practice. I got to tell him all about the joys of high school swimming, and I knew then he would make a splash in Pueblo. He was already competitive with the fastest kids in town, and he wasn’t even 15!

    That year, he won a state championship during club season in the 100 fly, and his confidence sky-rocketed. Watching him win that race was like watching him win his first 25. The same grin covered his face when he got out of the water, and the same kid who used to bargain with his parents for suckers in exchange for victories walked over to his mom and immediately said she owed him a whole coconut cream pie for winning. He didn’t focus on the swim, he just wanted some food.

    His first high school meet was characterized by people saying “Who is this kid?” immediately followed by “He’s a freshman!” I couldn’t help but smile every time someone realized what I had always known. There, right there, in this goofy 15 year old boy, was something very rare.

    I am inspired daily, by my swim-brother, who sets goals as soon as he breaks them. Who has never been complacent in victory, only working harder after a big win. A boy who, no matter the attention, always stays humble.

    Imagine every practice together, every tear shed, every sore muscle, and every huge “post-win” grin coming together at one time. Imagine every aspect of your history with a person coming to mind in a second. Imagine every moment of the past rushing in and intermingling with the present as every joking “I’m gonna win as a freshmen” becomes more than a possibility, more than just a dream.

    Saturday, May 19th, I watched my closest teammate, my family, touch the wall after the most important 100 fly of his life at the 4A state swim meet.

    Tears filled my eyes as the one appeared next to his name, and everybody else on deck watched as a lanky kid, turning blue from the cold, with arms still too long for his body received his medal. They were realizing what I’ve always known, “This kid is something special.”

     

     

     

     


  • Editorial- The “March for Our Lives”: The first step in a revolution

    March for Our Lives is a movement, led by students, that advocates for stricter gun control laws. The campaign made their debut on March 24 in Washington D.C., also inspired conventions around the country, and even the world. Many students from the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida spoke about their experiences; there were more brave speakers that discussed the gun violence happening in their own city.

    Students leading this campaign were fed up with waiting for someone to address the firearm brutality and fear they go to class with everyday. In their mission statement, on their website, They explain that politicians advise that in light of recent shootings, now is not the time to talk about guns; the students disagree. They claim that student safety is not a political issue and they have no intention of making it one.


    The March for Our Lives movement, that brought the nation together, is just the beginning of a revolution, sparked unfortunately by terrible events that have already made their mark in 21st century American history. In the future, it is dubious that a generation that has already left such a prominent impact will just stop after one national event. The movement marks the first step in an uprising that will consist of standing up to the administration and leaving a booming echo that will ripple down through future generations and ignite a fire in them to also make their voice heard.

    The positives of this movement include showing Congress and the President that citizens have a passionate voice, and have no fear to share it. This is another instance where the country has come together over one issue or opinion, which shows the unity within the United States borders; the people that joined in this movement ignored their differences to support a vital issue.

    A possible negative outcome of this movement is the survivors speeches and the ideas presented in them are now vulnerable to the harsh cross-examination and ridicule from the opposition. The ones that disagree with the cry for reformed firearm laws, now have the opportunity to rebuttal and pick apart the speeches made by the courageous survivors of gun violence.

    One effect that will hopefully come out of this protest is that other teenagers and young adults will be inspired to make their voices heard. This movement has shown that age doesn’t define the impact that can be made on the world or mute the deafening voice young people possess.

    The March for Our Lives movement highlights many admirable qualities about the current generations of teenagers of young adults. It shows that they are not scared of the “big man”. They make their voice heard and are passionate about the relevant issues that they feel need addressed. It has become clear that they don’t let the discouragement of their elders be the barrier halting them from standing up for what they believe in.


  • Indecency or injustice?

    This school year it is clear that dress code is a huge problem around Pueblo West High School. Girls all around the school are overly sexualized for showing excessive amounts of skin in inappropriate areas, also known as shoulders. You have been given information in the handbook; you have heard about it in the announcements;  you may have experienced it first hand. Even with the hot weather and poor air-conditioning, the dress code will be enforced and many students have a problem with it. Over the years, specific dress code regulations have caused numerous disputes between students and faculty. Targeting mainly female students, our school’s dress code can be deemed as oppressing.

    Starting as early as elementary school, schoolgirls are told that their bodies are a distraction to boys and their educations. Instead of boy students being taught to respect their peers female students will be pulled from class to get new clothes, to contact their parents, or even to go home due to how they dress. Not only is this taking away from their education, but also it tells the students that their bodies are inappropriate and need to be covered. We are taught that our self-respect is determined by how we choose to clothe ourselves. Our bodies are seen as a distraction. Our bodies are regulated.

    Male students hardly ever get in trouble for breaking dress code regulations. It is rare to see boys get dress-coded unless it is over something simple like wearing a hat in the building. Faculty members and students fight the thought that the dress code is aimed mostly at girls by saying that the dress code applies to boys too. In everyday life you would more than likely never see a boy wearing shorts shorter than their fingertips, crop tops, or shirts that expose a lot of skin. If you walk into female clothing stores you will find clothing matching that description in mass – it is part of our generation.

    It is easy to see the faculty’s reasoning for enforcing the dress code; sometimes students look indecent or unprofessional at school. The problem is not that our school wants us to look modest and professional, the problem is our school is regulating our bodies, telling us they are inappropriate, limiting our self-expression and enforcing a dress code mainly directed at females.

    Female bodies should not be labeled as a distraction. Shoulders and legs are not body parts that should be sexualized or deemed inappropriate for viewing. Boy students should have the self-discipline to not let clothing of a peer affect their learning. When asked about his views on our school dress code, Mr. Martinez, a teacher in the building stated, “The dress code is too lenient. Actually, I think we should have school uniforms because it limits arguments and in the workforce you will all likely wear uniforms.” However, uniforms would be more oppressing than the current dress code, in my opinion.

    In the future years coming to Pueblo West High School and schools all over the country, dress code will continue to be a problem. The dress code is constantly fluctuating through administrative regulations. Student and faculty views will probably remain the same: teachers are for it, students (usually female) hate it. “It’s an annoying rule,” says a student Ethan Mascarenas, “I don’t see it ever not being a problem in any schools.”


  • Confederate flag: a battle of rationality and political correctness

    The flags on Cody Stalcar's and Tanner Crapeau's
    The flags on Cody Stalcar’s and Tanner Crapeau’s trucks. Photo by: Jonathon Marchand

     

    To fly the flag or not to fly the flag, that is the question the school administration has been tossing around in their heads regarding senior Cody Stalcar and junior Tanner Crapeau flying the Confederate flag in their trucks. This is a very pivotal moment for the future of how speech is regulated within our school. I do not believe that if somebody is offended by what you say, that it makes it right to ban what you say. This is hardly a representative of the real world. The goal of high school is to provide a good transition from childhood into adulthood. To have issues such as this in which you are exercising your right to free speech is counter-intuitive to the end goal of schooling.

    I personally dislike the Confederate flag and consider it a symbol of racism because the Civil War was fought, in part, over the state right to own slaves. However, this does not mean people who fly the Confederate flag are racist by default. Some fly the Confederate flag because it is not a racist symbol to them but rather a representation of their personal identity. Where does this leave the flag within our schools?

    The Confederate flag is inappropriate for government institutions to fly the flag based on what it was used to represent just as it would be inappropriate to fly the flag of the Ku Klux Klan because of the history of that flag. For those who wish to fly the Confederate flag, this would be protected within the parameters of the First Amendment which specifically protects controversial speech such as this. What worries me about this situation is if the administration does conclude that they can forcefully remove the flag from the students’ trucks. Then when will the suppression of speech stop? Will you no longer be able to voice valid opinions because of their capacity to offend someone? This may not be the case, but it does leave a strong precedent for events of that nature to occur.

    If the school wants us to become independent adults then the school must recognize certain situations in which the students are entitled to their right of how they represent themselves.


  • Confederate flag controversy

    Ever since the tragic shooting that that took place at a South Carolina church, the Confederate flag has resurfaced in the public eye. Recently, two students at Pueblo West High School, Cody Stalcar and Tanner Crapeau, have found themselves in the center of this controversy for displaying the confederate flag on their vehicles. Some see it as a symbol of heritage and pride, a representation of ancestry and lifestyle. Others…as one of hate, oppression and racism. It is a symbol that is offensive to not only members of the nation, but to members of our community.

    I have no doubt that both opinions are valid, but the latter is the one that holds greater weight. The fact that the flag offends citizens is the very reason it should go. I’m sure our students don’t mean to offend people, but knowing that they are offending people in the community should be enough incentive to remove the flag. When incentive doesn’t do the job, it is essential that matters be taken into the hands of the authorities to have the flag removed. If you really want to show pride in your country try using the American flag.
    Sometimes we fail to see a different perspective. It is easier to understand the pride that it invokes rather than the negative emotion it causes for others. Mrs. Vail, a librarian at Pueblo West High School, cites Obama’s statement that the Confederate flag belongs in a museum, and is to be displayed for historical purposes only. She believes in the first amendment stating that those who display the flag absolutely have the right to do so. That being said, she also claimed that once Cody and Tanner realize that it brought offense to members of the community, that  it should be taken down out of respect, if not for respect then kindness. She fears that those who display the flag for southern pride don’t realize the history that it carries with it.
    The flag is to be viewed as what it is, a representation of a racial hatred in the South and not as the novelty it has recently become. The removal of the confederate flag is but another step toward a better, stronger, and more unified America that we have been working toward for the last 150 years.