MARCH 2021 – On Friday, Feb 19, Bio-Med teachers and staff had the opportunity to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This was a digital day, so students could work from home while staff received their vaccinations.
“The process was smooth and convenient,” Mrs. Borcoman, the Interventionist Specialist for grades 9-12 commented. “It was a great bonus that we were able to do it here in our building. In many other districts they have to travel outside of their district to have it done.”
Mrs. Mihalik, College, Career, and Finance teacher, shared her experience with the vaccine as well.
“The staff was called back in alphabetical order by first name, so I was in the last group called. I was anxious because I was afraid they would run out by the time they got to me,” she explained. “When they called me back, I sat with a nurse as she explained which vaccine I was getting and what side effects I might experience. Afterward, I had to sit in a room for fifteen minutes to make sure I had no adverse effects.”
Staff members had a choice of choosing to be vaccinated or not and shared their reasoning behind their decision.
“While I was wary about the vaccine considering the rapidity within which it was created, I am a proponent of the benefits of vaccination as well as the professionalism and expertise of our medical community,” Mrs. McLaughlin, Bio-Med principal stated. “I had to practice what I preach, so to speak. I also think that mass vaccination will be the best way to work towards a sense of normalcy in our daily lives. I’m willing to do my part.”
“I am scared that there is a possibility of bad side effects but I know in the end it will be for everyone’s good,” Ms. Brook commented. When being asked about her decision to get the vaccine, she responded that “I would hate to have my loved ones wonder why I didn’t get the vaccine if I possibly died from Covid.”
Many teachers felt a sense of morality when it came to getting vaccinated. Ms. Hisey, the sophomore language arts teacher stated, “I got the vaccination not only to protect myself, but because I feel that vaccination in general is a moral duty that we all owe to our neighbors and communities. Not everyone is medically able to get vaccinated, so it’s important that we protect the vulnerable among us.”
“As an immunocompromised person, I feel much, much safer knowing that I will have some protection. I’m grateful to all the researchers who worked night and day to get this to us,” Ms. Hisey concluded.
After receiving the first dose of the vaccine, staff members were asked to fill out a survey, with questions about the severity of side effects, along with their blood type. It has been speculated that there could be a link to the severity of vaccination side effects and the blood type of the recipient.
As for COVID-19 itself, studies have speculated that people with blood type A were likely to get a higher risk of infection than those with blood type O, which was the least likely. The results of the survey were used to see if this was the case with staff members.
Out of the 17 responses in the survey, 31.3% had a blood type of A+, 18.8% had O+, 6.3% had O-, B-, and B+, and 31.3% did not know their blood type. Staff members were asked to rate the severity of their side effects on a scale of 1-10, with one being little to none and ten being really severe.
All participants of the survey answered a number below six, with the average being 2.4. The average for people with blood types A- and A+ was 2.4, for B- and B+ the average was 3, and for blood type O- and O+, it was 2.25. Out of this sample population data, the group with the highest severity of side effects being blood type B, which contradicts what was speculated previously. With the data collected, there was no direct correlation between the severity of symptoms and blood type.
While not severe, most staff members still experienced side effects after the vaccine.
Mr. Martau, the sophomore history teacher, shared his experience with the vaccine.
“I did have mild side effects after getting vaccinated,” he wrote. “On Friday afternoon, I had some general soreness in my shoulder. Into Saturday evening, I felt fatigued and had chills, though my temperature never went high enough to be considered a fever. By Sunday morning, I was good as new.”
Ms. Huffman, the Bio-Med Receptionist shared that on top of having a sore arm she “ also had a headache the first day and was very tired too.”
Mrs. Borcoman explained that her side effects did not last more than a couple days after the vaccine.
“The only side effect I had was some tenderness in the area of the injection,”she stated. “It felt a little bit like someone punched me in the arm and walked away. The tenderness was gone within 48 hours.”
Soreness in the arm was the most common side effect and experienced by almost all staff members that filled out the survey. The overall side effects included sore shoulders and arms from where the vaccine was injected, headaches, fatigue, itchiness, chills, and tiredness. However, most side effects went away after 48 hours.
“As the vaccine becomes more available to people (especially younger folks), employers/schools/parents need to understand that this vaccine can cause some decently rough side effects,” Ms. Fusco, the Biomedical Engineering teacher wrote.
“I’m very very VERY grateful Bio-Med was able to have the vaccine given on a Friday, so we had the weekend to rest and recover. If not, I’m pretty sure I would’ve fallen asleep at some point during the day, since fatigue was my worst symptom,” she concluded.
The Bio-Med staff is scheduled to receive the second dose of the vaccine on March 19th next month.
MARCH 2021 – The 2020-2021 school year at Bio-Med went through many schedule changes. The year started off with everyone learning virtually, and then switched to the hybrid schedule on Sept. 28. With hybrid, students were broken up into two groups; purple and green, and would alternate going to school physically and digitally every other week.
Starting on Feb. 1, both purple and green cohorts attended school every week, while students opting to complete the year virtually remained home. The schedules themselves remained the same, with the only difference being double the number of students. Classrooms still implement their safety precautions from the beginning of the year, like keeping distance, wearing masks and sanitizing desks after they were used.
Mady Cross, a seventh grade student, shared her thoughts on the new schedule: “Going back every week when you’re being virtual, it’s like, it’s harder to do your work. Because you’re distracted by so many things but then being back in person, you’re less distracted because the teachers will tell you if you’re getting distracted and stuff,” she explained.
Cross emphasized her preference for the new schedule, and how it helps her stay focused for longer periods of time. When being asked which schedule she preferred, she responded, “being in person.”
She explained that while she felt more productive, she also felt that being in person was less stressful than hybrid.
“I think that me being at home is more stressful because if you have a question, and the teachers are busy, like if you try to email them they won’t email you back right away,” she said.
Along with this, many students noticed class participation increasing.
“I guess I do better at physical school,” Irene Scherer, a freshman, commented. “It’s brought my grade up some. But like the actual switch I guess is — there’s just more answers. People are participating a bit more.”
Other students shared similar thoughts on the schedule.
“I like being in the classroom learning than in my room,” commented Braden Antonelli, a sophomore this year. “ Really doing in person school kind of motivated me because I was being watched by people and at home they couldn’t really monitor me and what I was doing, so it really gave me a reason to do it.”
Many students shared that being in a classroom with a teacher present makes them less likely to get off task, because they are being monitored in some capacity.
While most students seemed to agree that they enjoyed going to school in person some students shared their concerns on the subject. Sophomore Aidan Veney shared his thoughts on the safety precautions in place while combining the cohorts.
“I think it’s a bit too soon,” Veney said, referencing the switch from hybrid to all in person. “I’d rather wait until the vaccine’s out before we have everybody back. I thought hybrid was working pretty well, so it’s a bit weird.”
Veney commented that “in theory I like all back better, but lately I’ve been kinda missing hybrid a little,” and shared that he liked both in person and hybrid equally, and that they both had their perks.
The most notable split of opinion amongst students was the safety. Keira Vasbinder, a sophomore, commented that while they felt more productive during the new schedule, there was also “a lot less distancing” and that “people are a lot more lenient with cleaning things.”
When talking about her social life, Keira mentioned that it improved because of the new schedule: “Well, I have friends again so that part is nice. I actually get to see people and I’m actually using slang again.” Keira elaborated on this by saying that the social benefits could have an impact on the safety: “You know more people but that also means less distancing. So do you want to get sick or do you wanna have a friend?” This was reference to what she felt like was a choice between prioritizing one’s social life or their health. Keira stated that having more people benefited their life socially, but made her feel like the safety precautions had been impacted with more people in the building.
In an interview, Antonelli talked about his thoughts on the safety precautions.
“I think they did change but not a lot,” he said. “They did combine more people into a classroom, but they kept the sanitizing and all that the same, and the feet and distance we need the same. But, I think the only thing they really changed was putting more people into the classroom.”
Despite the health concerns, most people interviewed agreed that Bio-Med was doing everything they could to keep things safe, and seemed to feel more uncomfortable with the situation itself as opposed to how the school was handling it. Out of all the people interviewed, 71.4% of people said that they thought the safety at school was not negatively impacted by the change in schedules.
So far, the cases have not majorly increased at Bio-Med since the start of hybrid, and students have continued to learn in a familiar and welcoming environment this month.
“I really prefer one hundred percent in person. It just feels like school,” Antonelli concluded. “It didn’t really feel like school before. We had the work but it just didn’t feel like it,”
MARCH 2021 – March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. This is a time to spread awareness of a little-known illness and hear the approximately 176 million voices of those living with it all over the world.
Endometriosis is a medical disorder in which endometrium, the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside of the uterus, usually onto the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic tissue lining, and sometimes other pelvic organs.
According to the Mayo Clinic, endometriosis can be very painful. This is because the endometrial-like tissue growing outside of the uterus also congeals, breaks down, and then bleeds with each menstrual cycle like normal endometrium does. Unlike endometrium, however, there is nowhere for that blood to go, and so it is trapped in the body.
Other complications can arise as well. If endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts referred to as endometriomas can form, causing the surrounding tissue to become irritated. Scar tissue will eventually form, as well as adhesions, or abnormal bands of fibrous tissue. These can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick together. Fertility issues are also common with endometriosis.
Christine Whyde is a senior Bio-Med Science Academy student who was diagnosed with endometriosis when she was fifteen years old. The process that led to her diagnosis was long and repetitive.
Although Whyde did not provide details, she said she could tell something was wrong at around age ten. Whyde went to a doctor who put her on birth control. According to her, normally doctors will start patients on a basic hormonal birth control, usually an oral medication, as many reproductive conditions are treated with those. For Whyde, the birth control made her symptoms worse.
If previous attempts do not work, doctors will move on to a shot to regulate hormones. Whyde tried this medication option, but that also made things worse. Then she went to another doctor who gave her a new medicine that ultimately did not work as well.
“I was just passed around from doctor to doctor for over three years,” Whyde said. “Basically it was a chain of that [until] I finally had to go to an adult OBGYN when I was fifteen, which was unusual because I was the youngest person that was in there.”
At that point, Whyde underwent surgery so the doctors could look with a small camera to see any problems that could be the cause of her symptoms. They also biopsied the surrounding tissue for examination. Afterwards, Whyde was finally diagnosed with endometriosis.
“I’m trying to think of a way to word this that isn’t very depressing,” Whyde said in regard to living with this condition. Whyde went on to say that it makes her feel bad because she cannot do things that regular people her age can do at times because of her symptoms.
“Sometimes when my parents are outside doing yard work and they need help with something, I feel terrible because since I’m in pain a lot of the time, I can’t help them do anything. It really kind of limits me,” she said. Whyde also had to be exempted from gym class due to her illness.
The immense pain that can come with endometriosis was one of the major reasons Whyde pushed to get diagnosed.
“[The pain] was so bad that I was missing days of school because when I would have a flare up or something, I couldn’t even get out of my bed. I couldn’t even sit up or do anything,” she stated. “So it was affecting my education at that point, and my social life because I was just staying home instead of doing anything.”
Whyde’s condition also makes her sad because of its extremity.
“Some people will just get put on birth control or something and it gets fixed for them, which is great,” she said, “but it sucks that the condition is different for everyone who has it and unfortunately I am just one of those people that it just gets worse as I get older … I had two separate doctors look at my parents and say that there was like nothing else they could do for me.”
Having endometriosis has limited Whyde’s future as well.
“I wanted to be in the military for example, and [I] can’t do that because technically … endometriosis isn’t considered a disability yet because again there are some people who aren’t in any pain at all, but it’s a chronic condition regardless,” she said.
There is also the possibility of Whyde not being able to have children or needing to have a hysterectomy at a young age.
“It’s put me into some difficult thing, like I have to think about things that other kids our age don’t have to think about,” she said.
There are millions of people with stories like Christine Whyde’s. It is estimated that one in ten women have endometriosis, but not all of them are aware of it. According to the Metro OBGYN Team, a lack of awareness of this illness and the normalization of its symptoms has contributed to delaying a diagnosis for many women. The National Institute of Health and US Library of Medicine reported that it can take between three and eleven years for someone to be diagnosed with endometriosis.
Becoming educated is a start for correcting this issue. Get familiar with what endometriosis is and its symptoms. This will provide the ability to educate others. Then begin talking about it. Yellow is the symbol of Endometriosis Awareness Month. Wearing yellow clothing or a yellow ribbon is a simple conversation starter anywhere.
By spreading awareness about endometriosis, more people will be diagnosed and treated sooner for this illness. Endometriosis Awareness Month is a great time to start.
MARCH 2021 – Millions of Americans are noticing an alarming trend as funeral costs continue to rise. According to a 2017 article by Business Insider, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the funeral costs and burial casket prices had increased by more than 230% since 1986 while all other commodities only rose 93% in comparison. This jump has caused many to choose cremation as a cost effective alternative, but there is not much of a difference in price. As of 2019 the National Funeral Directors Association found the average cost of a funeral to be $7,640 while a funeral with cremation was priced at $5,150.
To combat these rising fees, many are choosing to pre-plan their services many years before their passing. This allows them to potentially pay for the entirety of their funerary care years in advance while locking in prices that will not increase. Although the costs may be comparable to that of a normal service, many are also beginning to seek out alternatives to traditional disposition (burial or cremation).
One such option is an eternal reef. According to the official Eternal Reef website, “An Eternal Reef combines a cremation urn, ash scattering, and burial at sea into one meaningful, permanent environmental tribute to life.”
Cremated remains are mixed with ocean-safe cement to create artificial reef formations. These memorial formations are then placed onto the ocean floor to create habitats for marine life.
People are able to give this company all or only a portion of the cremated remains of a loved one as well as remains of pets or additional family members. Families are able to participate in the creation of the formations if they wish and they may add personal touches such as a handprint.
Prices depend on the size of the structure and attendance of loved ones, ranging from $2,995 to $7,495. Note that this does not include the initial cost of cremation that would be handled at a crematory or funeral home outside of the organization or any transportation of the family to witness when the formation is placed. Costs do include the presence of an inscribed plaque, transportation of the formation to the reef site, placement and dedication of the formation, and a specific GPS location of the reef.
Another disposition alternative, similar to cremation, is called alkaline hydrolysis. The Cremation Association website describes the process: “Alkaline hydrolysis uses water, alkaline chemicals, heat, and sometimes pressure and agitation, to accelerate natural decomposition, leaving bone fragments and a neutral liquid called effluent.” By the end of the process, the body has decomposed in a way similar to burial with the aid of chemicals. The effluent is discharged along with the other waste products.
Many people choose alkaline hydrolysis over cremation because it is considered to be a gentler process on the body. It is also seen as a more environmentally friendly alternative to cremation and burial.
Just like cremation, the body of the deceased will be transported to the facility by funerary professionals and the cremated remains will be delivered to the designated recipient. The main difference is the type of machine used and the process itself. It has also been found that alkaline hydrolysis results in 32% more cremated remains than those produced through traditional cremation. The price varies depending on the funeral home and state in which you are provided the service, but is generally at a similar price point to cremation.
Unfortunately, those interested in this form of disposition may need to look outside of their home state. Currently, only 15 states allow alkaline hydrolysis and not all of them have trained professionals. This is largely due to confusion over the waste products, as many assume that toxic chemicals are being haphazardly released into the water treatment system. Only 5% of the solution in the machine contains chemicals and the waste product left over is heavily regulated before disposal.
Those seeking a more environmentally friendly form of disposition may also be interested in a green burial.
For a burial to be officially considered a green burial, a number of guidelines must be followed. The deceased must be cared for with little impact on the environment unless in a way that aids conservation, reducing the emission of carbon, protecting the health of workers, or restoration/preservation of the habitat in which the body is to be buried. Typically this means that the body is not embalmed or goes through the process of cremation.
The container in which the body is contained, whether that be a casket or urn, must be biodegradable. Green burial caskets can be made from everything from wicker to cardboard.
Due to the criteria, lawn cemeteries are usually not acceptable for this type of burial as they may require vaults, concrete grave markers, or other disruptions to the environment. Designated “green” cemeteries do exist, such as the Foxfield Preserve located in Stark County, Ohio.
To be buried at the Foxfield Preserve, an interment fee of at least $4000 must be paid. Each site allows for one full casket, one full casket with a set of cremated remains, or two sets of cremated remains. If burial is not required, cremated remains can be scattered onsite for a $250 fee. Other fees will be required depending on the desired service.
Additionally, an individual seeking this type of disposition must work alongside a funeral home that offers such services. One such facility is local Bissler & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory located in Kent, Ohio.
There are many other alternatives and things that may be added to traditional funerary services that may be more accessible. Some of these include incorporating cremated remains into jewelry, tattoo ink, a toy, or even a vinyl record. Others may choose to scatter the remains in one or more areas of significance. As far as burial, some may be interested in burial at sea or, if legally permitted, having a loved one buried on private property rather than a cemetery. Regardless of the disposition or how young one may be, it is imperative that Americans start planning ahead of time. Afterall, death and deathcare is inevitable and they have a cost.
MARCH 2021 – On July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage was raised to $7.25 from $6.55 per hour. While the federal minimum wage has not been raised in almost twelve years, the longest stretch without an increase since its creation, twenty-five states raised their minimum wage earlier this year. Among those states, Ohio’s minimum wage increased by ten cents to $8.80 per hour for non-tipped employees beginning January 1, 2021. Despite the incremental progress, advocates for a $15 minimum wage remain committed to the fight of raising the wage.
A living wage is defined as the lowest wage at which a worker and their family can afford the most basic costs of living. Before Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 passed as part of New Deal legislation and effectively created the minimum wage, he expressed his strong support for a living wage. In 1933, during FDR’s statement on the National Industrial Recovery Act, he explained that “no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” This statement essentially created the framework for the battle between the living and minimum wage. During that year, the minimum wage was established at 25 cents. To put that into perspective, according to several online inflation calculators, $1 in 1938 would be equal to $18.55 today.
People have been pushing for a rise in the minimum wage for years. The fight for $15, a grassroots movement, began in 2012 when two hundred fast-food workers walked off the job to demand increased wages and union rights in New York City. It has since grown into a global movement in over 300 cities on six continents. The support for a $15 minimum wage has shifted from a protest movement to legitimate political action. President Biden has become one of the main proponents of a $15 minimum wage by 2025.
The topic of raising the minimum wage has been highly debated by both politicians and top economists. When asked about the minimum wage, Bio-Med students shared some varying opinions.
Two Juniors expressed their support for raising the minimum wage.
“The minimum wage is too low; people cannot live on it, let alone provide for a family,” said Maddy Ross.
“There are people at my job, who have been there for 16 years and only make $9 an hour,” said Kaitlyn Davis. “That is not enough money to live on so they are forced to pick up a second job. It’s so sad that people have to work all those hours just to barely survive.”
According to researchers at MIT, the living wage in the United States was $16.54 per hour, or $68,808 per year, in 2019, before taxes for a family of four. Statistically, the minimum wage does not provide a living wage for most American families. A typical family of two working adults and two children needs to work nearly four full-time minimum-wage jobs to earn a living wage. Single-parent families need to work almost twice as hard, which is nearly the equivalent of working 24 hours per day for six days, to earn a living wage. The minimum wage only currently accounts for a portion of what it would take to earn a living wage.
Opponents of raising the minimum wage cite inflation and job loss to support their differing views. Juniors Adam Lang and Nick Wholwend believe the minimum wage should remain the same.
“The minimum wage is not meant for a career wage. As it gets higher, so does the cost of living. It would also make it harder for businesses to pay their employees,” said Adam Lang.
“The big thing that I think about when talking about the minimum wage is job sustainability,” said Nick Wholwend. “McDonald’s pays around $9 an hour, but if they got a machine to start taking orders and flipping burgers, they wouldn’t have to pay all of their employees $15 an hour. Instead, they would just have to spend a couple thousand dollars on the machine. In the long run, hiring a machine would save them money.”
A report published by the Congressional Budget Office describes many of the positives and negatives associated with raising the minimum wage. It states that an increase would offer raises to 27 million people and lift 900,000 people above the poverty line, but it would also cost 1.4 million jobs while adding $54 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports efforts to increase the minimum wage but indicates that $15 may be too high.
Two current seniors are unsure about the efforts to raise the minimum wage.
“Based on what I’ve heard compared to the rate of productivity and other living expenses it is too low, said Drake Duncan.
“I think the minimum wage should be raised slightly, but the current plans that are being pitched seem a little extreme,” said Zane Price.
Junior Maddy Ross expressed a need for compassion: “People have many excuses for not wanting to raise the minimum wage, but honestly, at the end of the day, it’s about your care for other people that are struggling. If you care about other people and their issues then you would not mind paying an extra dollar for a gallon of milk.”
MARCH 2020 – A new set of by-laws has been put into place for the student council here at Bio-Med Science Academy. These rules outline the expectations for each member, as well as offering a complete overhaul of the system of electors. Before, each grade had four elected representatives, and the senior representatives acted as president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Now, anyone 9th grade and up can join as a general member, and those who have been in the council for at least a year can run for the four office positions. However, a senior must be the president, as they give a speech at graduation.
“I didn’t like that as a representative you didn’t get to be as involved, so I think it’s cool that they’re opening up those office positions to underclassmen,” said junior Katherine Huntley, a long time member. “I’m just happy that we’re finally implementing rules to follow because we’ve had a lot of issues in the past.”
Due to this year’s strenuous circumstances, an election was not held for the office positions . Instead, the junior representatives from last year moved directly into place. For new members, there is going to be a formal process of application with a deadline. To join now, simply contact Mrs. Brook or Ms. Varner.
However, why were adjustments made at this point? Varner, one of the administrators, offered some insight on this.
“The system needed adjusted. I think with the way the year had been rolling with Covid and online students and our meetings having to accommodate both, it was just easier to have the bylaws written out so we could hold members accountable for attendance purposes. Last year with the representatives, we lost people throughout the year. So I think it was a lot easier to manage our club with the president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. More or less we were trying to do something different because last year it didn’t work.”
New members have also offered their opinions on the new by laws. “I haven’t done much, I joined late,” Logan Cook, a new member of the council commented. “But I can definitely tell it’s very organized and they have a lot of big ideas.” Overall, members of the council are pleased with this change and are excited to move forward. Here is the full list of by-laws.
FEBRURARY 2021 – Originally, Valentine’s day was created to celebrate St. Valentine, according to the History Channel. However, there is controversy about which St. Valentine the holiday celebrates and is based on. The most popular legend of St. Valentine comes from Christian and Roman tradition, with Valentine being a priest during 3rd century Rome in a time when the emperor believed single men made better soldiers and outlawed marriages for younger men. In response to this, Valentine allegedly held marriage ceremonies in secret and was caught and sentenced to death.
Other versions of the story include Saint Valentine of Terni, who supposedly fell in love with a woman while he was in prison. According to legend, he sent a letter to the woman saying it was “from your valentine.” Then he died. According to Smithsonian magazine, the holiday could have also originated from a feast that celebrated a Christian martyr’s decapitation. It is also believed that there were multiple people named St. Valentine’s who died on February 14th, and while some gained more popularity than others, no one seems to be quite certain on the topic.
Regardless of the origins involved, Valentine’s day had been celebrated for many years, and was a celebration of love in Rome where it was otherwise outlawed. Since then, the holiday has transformed from a feast of celebration, into a more intimate celebration of love and relationships in a general sense.
The Valentine’s Day Debate: Why Do We Celebrate It?
Through being interviewed, each Bio-Med student was asked the same question: “Do you think Valentine’s Day is an important holiday?” The responses varied between students.
Dante Duluc believes Valentine’s Day is an important holiday. This year, he is going to spend Valentine’s Day with his girlfriend watching movies. When being asked about if the holiday was important to him, he responded “well the reason that we’re doing plans for Valentine’s day I guess it’s just it’s important to show how you care for one another.”
Generally, when being asked about what they liked about Valentine’s Day, the majority of students shared that they liked the fact they were able to show that they cared and spend time with important people in their lives. Mostly, students that were in a relationship thought that Valentine’s Day was more important than those who didn’t.When asked if the holiday was important, Kaytlin Haylett, a junior, responded that “my only reason to say yes is because it’s my first year being in a relationship so it’s like a big deal, but no.”
Other students, like Keira Vasbinder, stated they liked Valentine’s day because of “how happy it can make other people when you give them something even if it’s small.” In previous years, Vasbinder shared that she would attempt to get small gifts for her friends and family, and really only celebrated it if her friends planned events. While most people associate it with romantic relationships, Vasbinder noted that “it doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic holiday, and it’s fun to make others happy.”
Some people view the holiday a bit differently, and see it as less important than other holidays. When being asked if he thought Valentine’s Day was important to him, Emmet Bakos replied that “I’ve never really been a big fan of Valentine’s Day.” He then elaborated to say that “It just seems, pressuring to say the least. Especially for people who aren’t in relationships.”
While some students may feel pressured to buy expensive gifts, or plan a date, others revealed they did not really think Valentine’s Day was that important to celebrate. Tessa Wood, another sophomore, noted that “it’s not super important,” as other holidays. “I like to text the people in my life to remind them that they are important to me. I like the holiday, but I think it’s kinda insignificant,” Wood remarked.
Mayla Bregant is a 7th grader at Bio-Med, and shared that she was generally a fan of the holiday. “I really like Valentine’s Day because obviously you get a lot of candy and chocolate and teddy bears and that’s good and stuff.” She elaborated on this by saying that “I just wish people would be more open to loving everybody everyday.”
Instead of just showing our affection to others on one holiday, Mayla thinks Valentine’s Day should be celebrated, yet parts of it should be practiced every day. “We should still remember to love everybody everyday and not just on holidays,” she concluded.
Ella Wright, a freshman this year, is planning on spending the holiday baking and giving gifts to her neighbors. While she has plans for the holiday, she stated that “to me, it isn’t a super important holiday,” and shared similar thoughts to Mayla as to why she didn’t think the holiday was that important. “I think we should be appreciating people all of the days of the year, and not just one,” Wright concluded.
A Disease Free Valentine’s Day: Safe Ideas to Spend the Holiday
By Alyssa Cocchiola, Staff Writer
FEBRUARY 2021 – Instead of boxes of chocolates and heart shaped cutouts, most people recommend prioritizing items like masks and hand sanitizers for this Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a holiday typically associated with spending time with others. However, with safety precautions regarding COVID-19 in place, the holiday is likely to look a lot different than previous years. Members of the Bio-Med Science Academy community shared their ideas on safe ways to spend the holiday.
“So far this year, we’ve used Zoom a whole lot of times so that’s one way,” Nicholas Cross, an 8th grade student, commented. Zoom has been commonly used to host events in the digital space, with Bio-Med, and other schools in our area using it to aid in virtual lessons. “If you already have most of the family you wanna spend Valentine’s Day with around you, with the people you don’t you can just like facetime them and stuff like that,” they concluded.
Skyler Earl, a sophomore at Bio-Med, noted that “sometimes my friends would have parties or get-togethers, but this year I most likely won’t attend any of them.” She described the alternative of “zoom parties,” where her friends would get together on zoom and host events that way.
Other students shared that Zooms are not a new concept for spending time together on holidays.
“As someone who has family all over the country, family Zoom calls for the holidays have been the thing for quite some time,” Emmet Bakos commented. “They’re a fun and easy way to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in a while.”
Even if students don’t have family out of state, most students agreed that doing something with others in person is not the safest option. Bakos continued by saying, “If you really wanted to do something for Valentine’s day, the safest thing to do is call them on any video chat software and talk for awhile.” Other video chat softwares could include things like Skype, Facetime, and Google hangouts, all of which provide a way of communicating in times where in-person is not a viable option.
“Seeing someone virtually is much better than risking the chance of giving them covid for Valentine’s day,” Bakos concluded.
Tessa Wood is another sophomore, and shared her opinions on Zooms as well. She commented that “movie Zooms are always fun! They are easy to execute and you can talk during them.” The ability to screen share, and use features like Netflix Party are enabling people everywhere to enjoy different media with their peers in the digital space.
Dante Duluc is a freshman this year and shared his plans for the holiday. When being asked about his plans, he said “for Valentine’s day me and my girlfriend are going to the movies.” However, it was not an actual movie theatre he was referring to. He followed this up by saying that “for the movies what we’re actually doing is we’re just sitting in my room watching movies on TV and like eating snacks.” With watching movies either via Zoom or another socially distanced way, it still allows others to spend time watching movies with those they love, and in a way that reflects the safety regulations in place currently.
Virtual Dinner Dates
Kaytlin Haylett is a junior and plans on spending Valentine’s Day with her boyfriend. When being asked about ideas for socially distanced dates, she brought up the idea of “a dinner date over Zoom.” With this, it would enable others to go on dates and eat food together in the virtual space. “I did one of those with my boyfriend while we were actually quarantining,” she concluded.
With the safety guidelines in place for COVID-19, most people will not be able to celebrate Valentine’s Day the same way they did the year prior. While some people celebrated the holiday with some sort of party, Ella Wright, a freshman this year, stated that she likes “bringing cookies or something to school to share with people.” However, due to contact tracing, social distancing, and other guidelines, sharing treats in school is likely not an option this year.
To find a solution to this problem, she suggests that one way to show our appreciation for others is to “make something, and leave it on someone’s front porch.” This idea would enable people to share their gifts and treats like most years, while limiting contact with others.
Wright added on to this by saying, “I am planning on making some cookies, or cupcakes, or something and taking them around to my neighbors.” Even if students do not live close enough to friends and family where they can give them gifts, mailing them is always a viable option as well.
“I think others can do things for the holiday if they want to, as long as they are staying safe and doing their best to distance,” Keira Vasbinder, a 10th grade student advised. Whether it’s a Zoom meeting, virtual movie party, a virtual dinner date, watching movies, baking for others, or simply sending a thoughtful text, there are many ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day safely, and follow the guidelines in place. “You’re still connecting,” Vasbinder continued, “just in a different way.”
by Serena Gestring and Kaden Starkey, staff writers
FEBRUARY 2021 – Education is an essential part of our society, and it is the vital job of teachers to provide that to students. However, the current pandemic has been a devastating and strenuous experience for the entire world, including our community.
The Bio-Med Science Academy school district went to 100% virtual learning back in March of 2020. While Bio-Med normally implements a few “digital days” each school year, where students complete one assignment from each of their classes at home for the day, moving to being completely digital every day was a major change.
Ms. Brook is the 9th grade Integrated Math instructor. She has been teaching for 16 years, four of which have been spent here at Bio-Med. Overall, she says things were not too bad. The worst part for her was figuring out the technology, and once that happened, it got easier. From a curriculum perspective, however, it was much more difficult and strange because of the procedural way she taught math.
“I really struggled with how to not have questions that they can cheat on on a test knowing real well that they could just copy and paste it onto the test,” Brook said. “So trying to come up with ways to ask the questions was difficult last year.”
This year, Brook’s class switched to using a data science approach to teach 9th grade math. This approach involves group-based investigations and analyzing sets of data.
“My midterm this year was: What’d you learn from Unit 1? Use all the investigations and vocabulary to support your explanation,” said Brook. “So, how do you cheat on that? There’s no way you can cheat on that.”
Math is not the only subject that is challenging to teach in a virtual environment. Mr. McDonald is BMSA’s 9th grade Integrated English Language Arts instructor. He has been at Bio-Med for eight years, and has been teaching for a total of 15 years. He had many words to describe teaching in this new situation, such as suboptimal, frustrating, inconsistent, strange, annoying, and difficult. In short: “It is not good,” he said.
McDonald has been struggling to teach his subject in a way that resembles how he normally would. “We would read together in the class and we’d pause and stop and handle, like, nuances, and questions, and you could see where kids were struggling,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine reading on a Zoom or something, like reading chapters of a book like that. That sounds awful!”
Because of this, McDonald doesn’t know if he is going to have his students read any books this year. “I know if I select a book to read at the ninth grade level, and I expect students to read at home as homework, I just know that at least a fifth or a quarter of those students won’t do it. They just won’t do it, because no one is there making them do it,” he said. “It’s a motivation problem but it’s also a class management problem.”
Another major challenge of teaching virtually is being able to control the learning atmosphere. Students are in many different places, some with their siblings or other relatives around.
“There’s all these things happening that I have no control over, and it’s frustrating because I want to be able to control my learning atmosphere, and I can’t,” McDonald said. “I’m a believer that to get a good education, you need to first be comfortable in the classroom. That’s gotta come first, and it’s really hard to establish that when you don’t have control over the atmosphere.”
McDonald has also had problems with establishing relationships and human connections in his classes. “The team-building and community-building aspect of Bio-Med has almost completely vanished. We would do circles, we would go outside and we’d throw the ball around, or we would work with partners, we would have clock buddies,” he said. “You cannot do that now. We can’t, you just can’t.”
Experienced teachers are not the only ones grappling with the present situation. Ms. Tubbs is the 8th grade Math instructor. This is her second year teaching and her second year at Bio-Med. She describes teaching during this time as hectic and having a lot of moving parts. “Being a first-year teacher last year, I was already kind of learning how to teach and getting into the groove, and everything kind of flipped,” Tubbs said.
Tubbs also thinks her specific subject presents some challenges. “I think I’m struggling sometimes to teach math just because in the classroom I love to do more hands-on. I like to see the written work, and online sometimes that just doesn’t transfer as well,” she said.
However, there is some optimism. Ms. England is BMSA’s 7th grade Social Studies instructor. She has been teaching for ten years, and this is her fourth year at Bio-Med. She thinks that while this situation has been interesting and challenging, it is also workable. “You had to just be innovative in how you’re teaching and what you want to teach, and I think a little bit more selective in what you are presenting,” she said.
England thinks the technology-prominent aspect of Bio-Med has helped. “We were lucky that every student had their technology already and that we had already done those Digital Days. That really helped to flip that switch,” she said. “Canvas is the best thing we had throughout this thing also. Everything is housed all in one place.”
While trying to find what works best for everyone, the administration of Bio-Med Science Academy has been diligently working to enforce proper precautionary measures according to CDC guidelines. All students must wear a mask, and teachers are being offered air purifiers as well as KN-95 masks. The Academy enforces social distancing in the lunchroom and students are assigned to a cohort (a group of the same students following the same schedule everyday) that allows for any contact tracing to be easier.
The Academy created what they call the “COVID Committee” to help reinforce the rules and regulations to keep students and staff safe.
Ms. England is one of the teachers a part of the COVID Committee. She said that it is a group of teachers and staff members from all of Bio-Med’s buildings. Their function is to be, “the liaison between Stephanie Lammlein [Chief Administrative Officer of Bio-Med] and kind of the rest of the staff.” They make sure that all the staff understand the information given by the Portage County Health Board and that teachers and staff’s voices are heard by the admin and the same with the admin to them. The Committee also makes sure that the school days can be safe while still keeping Bio-Med’s core learning experiences, whether that be at home or in the classroom.
The Academy began the 2020-2021 school year as 100% digital. On September 28th, 2020 the school launched its blended learning program where students were given a choice to remain 100% virtual or return back to school. The students who opted to return go one week in person and the next virtual; they are divided into two groups by last name. One group is in-person while the other is digital for a week and the next week the groups will switch, so the in-person group goes virtual and the virtual goes in-person. This rotation continues throughout the year, unless Coronavirus cases exceed a level 3 threshold in the surrounding counties, where the school would return back to 100% virtual until it is safer to return.
The blended learning model allows for teachers to continue teaching all of their students, whether they are in the school building or online.
When asked about how she feels Bio-Med as a district is handling the pandemic, Tubbs said, “I think they’re doing a really great job, …. it’s the best that we can do given our situation.” She felt that “other districts are looking at what we are doing” due to Bio-Med’s Upper Academy location being on the Northeast Ohio Medical College (NEOMED) Campus. Tubbs added that there are “hand sanitizer stations everywhere” and “our admin has been really supportive.”
In the classroom, Tubbs felt that, “a huge positive of the hybrid or the blended learning is the smaller class sizes.” She said that, “we’re really getting to know some of my students in a way that is just not possible when there’s 20 or 30 kids in a room.” She added how the class size, “allows some deeper learning opportunities that wouldn’t always happen in a normal class size.”
Brook’s praise is about the schedule: “I really like how they’ve done the schedule, it’s completely manageable.” She said, “the block scheduling has made it so it’s not overwhelming to have all seven classes every single day,” and that “it’s allowing you to go deeper …. and taking the time to really understand what you’re doing before moving on.” She added, “ I love that they picked one schedule regardless of home or 100% virtual, blended, or 100% back, we’re gonna still keep the same schedule.”
However, there are some drawbacks. Brook commented that seeing students two times a week compared to the previous five times a week has given rise to a retention problem, where students have trouble remembering what they did the last time they had class. Brook also thinks she is not getting to know her students as well as she would have seeing them every day.
Brook, too, said that for in-person classes, “It’s nice having a smaller class size.” She sets up her classroom so that the students are “all doing the exact same thing at the same time, regardless of at home or in person,” Brook said.
Overall, Brook said the way Bio-Med Administration is handling the pandemic is, “Awesome. I fully support how admin has done this.” She continued, “From people I’ve talked to in other districts, I think our school has handled it really really well.”
England expressed similar sentiments. She felt the whole community had come together, from the teachers and students to the administration, to figure out how to be successful. “I think we did an amazing job,” she said.
She also likes the hybrid model as an alternative to 100% virtual for her students. “I think the hybrid is good because I see a big difference in the weeks that they’re here and their engagement to the weeks that their home and their engagement,” England said. “It has helped me become more organized because you have to have everything to go. There’s not that spur of the moment changing things up because it has to be ready for those kids at home, too.”
McDonald struggled to formulate words when asked his opinion on the subject matter, as he holds a high degree of hesitation and worry towards easing things back to “normal.”
“I appreciate the caution of the hybrid model,” McDonald started off. He then commented on the smaller class sizes, “the fact that we only have eight to ten kids in a class is, is safe.” Wrapping up his comments about the hybrid model he said, “it’s doable.”
McDonald went on to talk about the virtual learning that Bio-Med utilized previously.
“I appreciated when they went to the virtual [model] because that’s the safest model,” he said, adding that this model probably “saved a lot of people from getting this virus.”
On February 1st, 2021, the academy’s plan to resume full in-person attendance, aside from students who opted to be 100% virtual. This means that the two groups of students who were going in-person every other week will be in one group and attend school weekly, together.
McDonald said that he does not understand the rush to resume full attendance. He also shared that he is, “shy about going back to full attendance,” due to the potential risks involved. McDonald commented on his comfort level, saying, “I can’t imagine teaching twenty, twenty five students right now. I would not feel safe.”
From a healthcare side of things, Ohio is beginning to wrap up Phase 1A of COVID-19 vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers and people who work or live in residential facilities.
“I think for their peace of mind, they need it,” Brook said about the general public receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, the week of January 19th, Ohio is planned to begin administering the first round of phase 1B vaccinations. On February 1st, the third week into Phase 1B, the vaccination will be available for K-12 Educators to receive. Teachers Brook, Tubbs, and McDonald all said that they would receive the COVID-19 vaccine when the time comes.
Ms. Brook, who caught COVID following Thanksgiving, said, “I’m afraid of getting the vaccine too early when they really haven’t been tested.” Nevertheless, she would have gotten it even if she hadn’t already been infected.
“I’m looking forward to being vaccinated,” stated Ms. Tubbs. She mentioned how teachers are near the top of the vaccination list: “To know that we are valued, that we have the opportunity to receive the vaccine before the general public.” Tubbs said some of her friends, who are nurses, are receiving the vaccine as well.
Mr. McDonald firmly believes that, “all teachers should be mandated to get vaccines.” He brought up a requirement in order for Ohio educators to receive the vaccine: the school must resume in-person classes or be using an in-person/online hybrid system. McDonald shared his thoughts on this: “you’re mandating that these people put themselves in a dangerous situation in order for them to be eligible to get the thing that is going to save them from a dangerous situation.”
Ultimately, McDonald stated, “I want the vaccine!” He had been approaching the pandemic with caution as he fears for the health of his family; McDonald said that getting the vaccine is “going to help me and my family’s situation.”
England did advise that, “the biggest thing is everybody that is making the decision on the vaccine just needs to make sure they’ve done their research and talked to their primary healthcare physicians.”
She also ends on a note of gratitude, “I am glad that we’re able to be able to have the chance to be protected so we can focus on teaching and not that background worry of COVID.”
While the past several months have not been ideal, Ms. Brook believes being at Bio-Med has made it easier for her. She thought if she were still teaching in California or at the prison she previously taught at, she would be struggling much more.
Brook’s mother was an elementary teacher, and Brook thinks if she was still teaching she would have quit immediately after the start of this situation. “A lot of teachers I know would just not have ever been comfortable with it and so, the fact that I have been at Bio-Med for four years, I’m just grateful because this has pretty much been a seamless transition to just 100% virtual,” she said. “I’m so grateful I work at Bio-Med.”
Ms. England agrees, and believes teaching has gotten easier as time goes on. Attendance and working with technology has gotten better for her. “I think we’ve figured out how to still do Bio-Med schooling to a point, so that got better too,” she said.
Mr. McDonald thought this has been a learning experience for how to teach children who cannot come to school. He gave the example of a student who has a bad health condition, or one who needs to stay in the hospital for a long period of time. “It’s letting the light in on how we might do that for a kid who needs it,” he said.
Despite the hardships, Ms. Tubbs was glad to have students back in the classroom, as interacting with the kids is why she became a teacher. She also expressed gratitude that she is still working and teaching, even though it is not the same.
“I think teachers are really flexible people and we make it work when we have to,” Tubbs said. “We’re getting there. Eventually we’ll be all back and it’s just something that we have to get through.”
FEBRUARY 2021 – Ms. Erin Bradley, a recent addition to the Bio-Med Science Academy staff, teaches two senior-level classes: Human Pathophysiology along with Biotechnology of Health and Disease. Becoming a teacher was not her original plan. She instead nurtured a secret passion for numbers.
“I’m kind of a closet research nerd and love working with numbers,” she said. Bradley initially went to school to become an accountant, but she quickly learned that that career path was definitely not for her.
After some time, Bradley discovered that she wanted to become a nurse instead. She went to Kent State University to study nursing. Not long into undergraduate studies did Bradley realize that she also had a love for teaching. That was when she decided to go back to Kent State to become a teacher. Bradley became a nurse and graduated in 2013 and earned her Masters of Science and Nursing with a Nurse Educator emphasis (MSN-Ed) about a year ago.
With her nursing degree, Bradley found herself working in various fields doing a variety of tasks. She also used to work for Cuyahoga Falls City Schools as a teacher, along with some undergraduate teaching at Kent State University. Bradley’s goal was to teach undergraduate students how to become nurses themselves, but she stumbled upon the job opening at Bio-Med and, in her words, “I love it and I’m really happy to be here.”
Bradley is drawn towards the STEM program that BMSA offers along with the passion that its students have towards their learning. She is excited to be able to take her experience in the field and share it with her students. Fifteen years ago, Bradley says she would have not pictured herself where she is now. Despite only being at Bio-Med since September, she feels she has learned and grown a great deal.
Growing as a teacher isn’t all that Bradley has made progress with. Bradley opened up about her anxiety tied with public speaking. She says that she enjoys speaking in front of people, but she just can’t shake the fear and anxiety that sometimes comes with it. When graduating with her bachelor’s, Bradley gave the graduation speech, and she said that, “I was terrified to do it, but I wanted to, I was really excited to do it.” She says that she’s come a long way with it, and luckily Bradley does not get nervous in front of her students. Most people don’t know about her nervousness and public speaking. Bradley says that in a way, becoming a teacher has helped her face this fear.
Outside of the classroom, Bradley can be found out in nature kayaking, hiking, or being with her family and friends. She also loves to take part in different races from 5k’s to half marathons and is always trying to find a new race to do. Bradley also enjoys watching sports and is an avid Star Wars fan. When she’s not participating in one of these activities, Bradley is most likely found spending time with her four children.