• Category Archives Opinion
  • 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.


  • Political ignorance could endanger political discussion

    Political ideology is often a hotbed for passionate arguments among up and coming students. Whether your beliefs lie along the lines of the left or right or somewhere in between there is a good chance you have been involved in ongoing political dialogue with your peers. But how can you be sure you are getting the most of of your conversations? Is your peer benefitting as much?

    In recent years there has been an idealogical push to spread tolerance and diversity among American life and encourage open conversation about politics in the classroom.  Unfortunately, it appears that in a classroom, a place synonymous with learning and knowledge, political naiveté is at dangerously high levels, and it could be polluting the quality of discussion. As part of a Challenge Based Learning Project, a global initiative to encourage students to take steps to improve their community, Conor Morrell, Maddison Taylor, and myself (Aaron Goettel) are exploring the depth of political knowledge within the school through anonymous surveys with the hopes of raising political awareness and expanding discussion in the classroom.

    For the survey we asked 80 people five commonly known questions about the government:

    1. Who is the Governor of Colorado?

    2. Name one of the two senators elected in Colorado.

    3. Name one of the eight Colorado Electoral Representatives.

    4. What is the FED?

    5. How many justices are on the Supreme Court of the United States?

    The results were disturbingly clear. Only one person out of the 80 knew that the FED was the Federal Revenue and the most common correctly answered question was “Who is the Governor of Colorado?” and only 60% were able to answer that question correctly. How is it that in a IB World School, where critical thinking is actively encouraged, five simple questions about our government can go so unanswered?

    The reasons for why our student body drew a mental blank may never be truly answered and the full extent of our school’s political knowledge cannot be expressed in such a limited survey. The survey provides only a small snapshot but it is enough to raise some interesting questions. Students should never be afraid to seek out a second opinion and should always fact check themselves and others when discussing politics. The next time a debate or discussion comes up, stand strong in your beliefs but be ready to concede a point if the facts do not line up. It is the only way to keep the discussion clear and intellectual.


  • Ancient Wisdom in Modern Times

    Many people may be uncomfortable with the idea of applying ideals of Buddhism to their everyday life, but it is important to understand that I am not speaking for the religion but rather the philosophy behind the religion. For example, think of the golden rule from the Christian Bible, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” You do not have to be a Christian to see the wisdom in these words. That is the point of this article, to expose readers to an unfamiliar philosophy, in this case the Four Noble Truths, that can be useful in everyday life. The Four Noble Truths where created by Siddhartha Gautama to help people handle challenges that we all face. The first is the Noble Truth of Suffering, the Second is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering, the third is The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering, and the Fourth is the Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering or the Eightfold Path.

    The Noble Truth of Suffering is one that is always relevant. Every single human being that has ever lived and that will ever live has experienced suffering. Whether you are the Queen  of England or a fugitive in a third world country, suffering is unavoidable. Furthermore, it is important not to trivialize suffering. To think that you cannot be sad because there are people in a worse position than you is similar to thinking that you can not be happy because there are people in a better position than you. Whether it comes from getting a car accident, a bad relationship, or even just feeling misunderstood, suffering is fated in all of our lives. Once this is understood it becomes easier to accept. It becomes clear that asking “Why?” is often pointless because oftentimes there is no answer to that question. Sometimes bad things just happened without cause and understanding, and this knowledge makes it easier to accept.

    The Second Noble Truth is that the origin of suffering is attachment to desire. There are three types of desire: desire for pleasure, desire to become, and desire to be rid of. The more you desire the greater your suffering will be. Whether it is wanting to do something to have fun, which is the desire for pleasure, wanting to be taller or better looking, which is the desire to become, or just really not wanting to go to school, which is the desire to be rid of. In our society the desire for pleasure causes a lot of suffering. We are constantly searching for stimulation in the way we move  from computer screens to television screens to phone screens. This constant search for stimulation always keeps us in a state of limbo between happiness and sadness. This in-between state fills us with apathy and causes several different aspects of life to lose their meaning. As well as the desire for pleasure, the desire to become is especially prevalent in our society. We experience a constant stream of media telling us how to dress, how we should act, what makes you attractive. This is not to say that you should abandon self-improvement. Self-improvement is important, but so is self-acceptance. The third type of desire, the desire to be rid of, also causes suffering for our generation. Sitting around in school all day wishing you were not there only makes you miserable. This is not to say that the school system is fair, or even reasonable, but rather it is not really something that you can avoid. In that case, as in several others, it is better to accept what you cannot change.

    The Third Noble Truth is Cessation of Suffering. The first part of The Third Noble Truth is contemplating the meaning behind everything. Why is it like this? Why is it this way? For example, why does someone dress the way they do why do they behave the way they do? The goal here is not to pass judgment but only to search for meaning. This step is necessary because to better understand others is to better understand yourself. Once you understand what makes others suffer or what brings peace to others, it is easier to see how you will be affected. After this part of The Third Noble Truth, then a good deal of introspection is needed. To put it simply, when you are unhappy observe why you are unhappy, and when you are happy observe why you are happy. The value of learning to recognize activities that you enjoy or that calm you down and ones that you dislike or that stress you out is obvious. However, one thing that is often lost is the ability to differentiate between healthy relationships and toxic ones. Not only should you reduce the amount of stressors in in your life, but also the amount of people that cause you to have stress. Oftentimes we unknowingly cling to relationships that leave us emotionally drained while falsely believing that they are good for us. That is the whole aim of Buddhist teachings; to develop a reflective mind in order to let go of illusions.

    The Fourth Noble Truth is also called the Eightfold Path or the Path to End Suffering. The eight parts to it are generally translated as

    • Right Understanding
    • Right Thought
    • Right Speech
    • Right Action
    • Right Livelihood
    • Right Effort
    • Right Mindfulness
    • Right Concentration

    Now the translation generally uses the word “right”, but that is not necessary accurate, the original word, “Samma” does not mean right as in right and wrong. It has a meaning closer to whole or complete; it can even be compared to the English word summit. In this sense the opposite of right understanding would not be wrong understanding.

    Right Understanding comes from insight gained from the first three Noble Truths. Right Understanding is often described as understanding that, “All that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing.” To put it simply, everything, from things that fill us with joy to some of the greatest sources of suffering, all can come to an end. Surroundings that you have become familiar with can be gone overnight, and it can be disorienting. It can feel similar to having a rug pulled out from under you, change can also bring opportunity, if you are willing to accept it. The next step in the Eightfold Path is Right Thought. When speaking of Right Thought, first you must contemplate this; many people believe that if they had a beautiful house, a secure and luxurious job, and a good marriage then they would be happy. This is not true, there are many people with all of that, and they are still unhappy. In addition, this kind of thinking leads to the belief that you are not whole without all of these things that our society demands which is also a false believe. When we accept that our lives on this earth are not meant to make us content, then it is easier to let go of that demand and therefore easier to let go of desire.

    After Right Thought comes Right Speech. Learning Right Speech is a challenging task because most of us do not realize how many different ways speech can hurt us. Exaggeration hurts your credibility, talking without reason makes you seem a fool, words spoken in anger leave behind guilt, and lying can have all three of these effects. Right Speech probably takes the most effort to develop.

    Next in the Eightfold Path is Right Action. Right Action is simple; it is the impulse to help. If you see someone fall and your first thought is to help that person, and you do, then that is an example of Right Action. It would not be right action if you helped someone to impress people around you, or to help hoping for a reward. Right Action is done out of compassion for a fellow human being and because it is the right thing to do. Alongside Right Action is Right Livelihood. The essence of living the Right Livelihood is to live a life that does not exploit or harm anyone in any way. It sounds easy enough, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain in modern life. Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration all tie in together. Right Effort is consciously trying to follow the Eightfold Path. Right Mindfulness is being aware of what you should and should not do. And Right Concentration is having the goal of becoming enlightened, or in our modern setting, becoming a better person.

    Now this may be a lot to take in all at once, but The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path are filled to the brim with wisdom and even just applying a small part of them to our modern lives can make a huge difference. At the very least, allow some of these ideas to sink in and maybe even affect your perspective on the world.


  • Cyclones welcome Menegatti as the Head Coach

    Coach Menegatti will be returning for the 2015 Track and Field season; however, this year she will be returning as the head coach of the track team.

    Coach Menegatti ran several events in high school and multiple events in college including the 200 and 800 Meter Races. Any athlete would prefer their coach to be someone who knows what it is like to be in their shoes and Mrs. Menegatti definitely fits the bill.

    What does this change in head coaches mean for the Track and Field program? In an interview, Coach Menegatti revealed that the biggest changes will be in the coaching staff, the philosophy of the program, and some new expectations.

    “The essence of the new philosophy is to facilitate the athletes to perform at his or her highest level, and this will be achieved through mental preparation, proper nutrition, physical training, rest, and setting individual goals.”

    As for Coach Menegatti’s goals, she hopes that the team will qualify for several events in state and have several state champions this year. Another goal for the team would be to win the league meet; although Coach Menegatti affirms that making sure that the athletes improve is what is most important.

    The Pueblo West Track and Field program has done well in the past and will continue to do so, even though this year there are several challenges to overcome. First and foremost, this is a transitional year. It may take time to adjust to having a new head coach with a different set of expectations and a new philosophy. In addition, there are a good deal of fresh faces new to the program.

    However, Coach Menegatti is excited to see this many newcomers. In an interview she said, “It is fabulous to see this level of interest.” And that this is something that will benefit other sports.

    Coach Menegatti has some lofty goals for the team but also the capability to reach them. To help her raise the bar for the Track and Field program, she has a host of competent coaches, which include the returning Coach Tucker for sprinters and relays and Coach V for the throwers. In addition, this year Coach LaBored will be helping the athletes with strength training and on improving running technique. Coach Stark will return with the high jumpers and two new distance coaches have also been hired, Coach Neff and Coach Brennen, that will complete the staff. Coach Menegatti is prepared for a big year for the Pueblo West Track and Field Program and I, as a runner for the school, am excited to see where this year takes us.


  • Let’s talk turf: 2015 Women’s World Cup

     

    IMG_1712
    Pueblo West High School turf field. Photo by: Marz Atilano

    Soccer is the world’s game. It is very obvious that when FIFA hosts the World Cup every four years, millions of people tune in from around the world. The popularity of women’s soccer is like a wildfire, igniting passion into young girls’ hearts who will take the sport to a whole new level.

    The 2015 Women’s World Cup will be held on artificial turf in 6 different cities in Canada. Forty of the world top female soccer players are very upset about the unfair treatment concerning the grass vs. turf war, upset that they are filling law suits agents FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association for gender discrimination according to an ESPN W article. The players have a strong case with evidence dating back for years. One of the key arguments is that every Men’s World Cup since 1930 has been played on real grass.

    The women merely want real grass. Turf has shown an increase in concussions, turf toe, and overheating. Some of the more serious and common injures are sprained ankles, and turf burns. From a person who has suffered both of those injuries, I myself agree with the over 15 thousand people who are protesting the turf fields.

    My turf burn treatment required burn cream applied 3 times a day as well as bandage wrapped around my whole shin. But it didn’t stop there; every game my shin guard would rub on the injury and when I took them off at the end of the game, it reopened my slowly healing wound.

    My sprained ankle was much worse. I was running a simple drill that I have done a million times. It was normal for me, but this last season was my first on the new turf fields. A pass came in from the left side, out of the reach of the attacker, and my defensive mind took over. As I stepped to stop the ball, I heard a snap, crackle, and pop; I was on the ground in pain. The emergency room gave me my first pair of crutches and a splint. I remember them saying to me after looking at my x-rays, “It would have been better if you just broke it.” I was essentially out for the whole season.

    Imagine if one of the key players on the USA Women’s National team like Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, Ali Krieger, or Hope Solo had an injury like I did-  they would be out for the rest of the tournament. That goes for any member on any of the teams. It would be a devastating blow.

    Along with the injuries, turf fields are different than grass fields. The ball moves differently, the control is different, and the pace is faster. Taking a big group of players who play on real grass and then dropping them off on turf saying, “Here play,” is not right. If FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association are not going to take the time and money to put in real grass then maybe it has something to do with the Canadian National Team only playing on turf. This raises some questions.

    I have a hard time understanding how FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association see it fair to put players on a new surface, a surface that has led to an increase in injuries, and refuse to pay the 3 million dollars for real grass. According to CNBC, FIFA spent 35 million on the new stadiums for the Men’s World Cup, all of which had real grass.

    If you feel as if these athletes should be able to play on real grass, you can sign this petition:

    FIFA women’s world cup on Grass Petition”>