Aiming for Equality With New Amnesty International Club
by McKenna Burchett, staff writer
May 2021 – Bio-Med Science Academy is adding a new club to its repertoire: Amnesty International. This club is dedicated to serving the organization of the same name, upholding human rights. The club will be run by William Ullinger, current freshman history teacher, Camryn Myrla, and Keira Vasbinder, both sophomores.
“Our plans right now are to go through the steps of becoming an official club for the school so that we are able to hold meetings and invite others to join. Our goal is to be having weekly meetings starting next school year,” Vasbinder commented.
Myrla said the club activities would include researching a certain topic, spreading awareness by creating posters and using social media, writing letters to officials, signing petitions, and any other way they can take action against injustice. By creating this club, they are joining 10 million others in the organization to fight against human rights violations.
Amnesty International, also known as Amnesty for short, was created in 1961 after British lawyer Peter Benenson wrote an outraged article about the arrest of two Portuguese students for toasting to freedom. This article sparked many more like it and eventually led to the founding of this organization.
“Only when the last prisoner of conscience has been freed, when the last torture chamber has been closed, when the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world’s people, will our work be done,” Benenson declared.
Amnesty launched its first campaign against torture in 1972. Twelve years later, the UN voted to combat torture worldwide with the Convention against Torture. It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for ‘securing the ground for freedom, for justice, and thereby also for peace in the world.’ Amnesty is responsible for the founding of the International Criminal Court in 2002. It operates a large London base and regional offices in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Amnesty is currently working on developing a mobile application that would act as a “panic button” for activists in danger.
Myrla was inspired to create this club after the “many cases of police brutality happening in 2020” and the civil unrest that followed.
“I found many ideas for clubs that try to both raise awareness and take action,” she said, “but ultimately decided on Amnesty International because of how effective their work has been in the past.” However, in order to make this club a reality, she needed help.
First, she needed another student to help her run it. She approached Vasbinder with the idea.
“Camryn came up with the idea of the club and gave me a brief explanation of what we would be doing. I was interested and wanted to help with setting up and running the club,” Vasbinder recalled.
Next, she needed a teacher to be the club advisor. “I chose Mr. Ullinger to be this club’s adviser because of how vocal he has been toward human rights. I knew that he would support the idea. I also recently found out that his sister was the director of an Amnesty International club when they were in high school.”
Ullinger was also a member of Amnesty International in high school. “We had a ton of concerts at [Kent] Roosevelt back in the day where you pay to get in, and that money would go towards Amnesty International,” he recalled. “It’s a bit different now since we didn’t have social media when I was in high school, but it’s pretty much the same foundation.”
When asked about how it would be run, he said, “I’m really letting Camryn and Keira design it. I’m more the one sitting there going ‘okay here’s some problems that could come up’ like I do with everything else at this school. I want it to be very student-centered, student-oriented, and student-built.”
The three have high hopes for next year. Ullinger finished with “I think anyone can say they support Amnesty International, because no one wants to see human rights violated. I think it’s pretty agreeable across the board that that’s bad. If we can shine a light on that, be proactive, and take a stand against it, that’s a good thing.”
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.
November 2020 – Instead of completing projects and writing papers, students participating in clubs are able to learn new skills and enrich their learning experiences in ways they are passionate about. Whether it’s through volunteering, participating in competitions, exploring future career opportunities, or a form of self expression, Bio-Med Science Academy’s 14 clubs allow students to learn new things while exploring their interests.
“My favorite part of Science Olympiad is all of the exciting knowledge we get to learn as well as our team’s atmosphere. We don’t always do well in competitions, but we always have fun doing it! We have a good bond and lots of inside jokes!” commented Kelsea Cooper, who is a junior in the club.
Science Olympiad is a competition-based club that focuses on displaying knowledge of scientific concepts through competitive events. The club itself is supervised by Ms. Mino and Ms. Varner and meets on Wednesdays in room 3005 (or on Zoom). Anyone from grades 7-12 are able to participate.The events students are able to compete in are based on their division, with one division for high school students, and the other for middle school students.
Due to COVID-19, the club is not going to any official competitions this school year. Instead, they are dedicating this year to developing their skills and preparing for the competitions in the 2021-2022 school year. However, despite not being any competitions, students still seem to enjoy the educational environment of the club. More information regarding the Science Olympiad can be found on their website https://www.soinc.org/.
Quiz Bowl is a trivia-based competition club that competes against other schools in tournaments and is advised by Ms. Hisey. There are no tournaments this year, so the club is dedicated to practicing for future tournaments and building on those skills. Tryouts are not being held this year due to this circumstance, and practices are held Tuesdays after school in room 405. An interest form was sent out recently, and some aspects of the club are still being figured out.
Esports is run by Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Ettinger. Anyone from ages 13+ in grades 7-12 are able to participate in the esports Ohio League. There are two leagues: the high school esports league (HSEL) and the middle school esports league (MESL). Games that are offered are Fortnite, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League, Smash Bros Ultimate, and VALORANT.
The club itself meets from 3:20-4:00 every other Friday via Zoom. In order to participate, students must have at least approaching mastery in each class, be able to play and practice once a week, and participate in matches.
Tyler Williard, a member of the esports team, said, “There are large-ish fees that you’ll have to pay to participate, but it’s really fun!” In order to participate in esports, students are required to pay a membership fee of $25. The fees go towards equipment and materials, as well as fundraising. Additionally, students participating in the HSEL are expected to pay $40 per season, while students in the MSEL pay $20 per season.
Relay for Life
Relay for Life is a club run by Mrs. Rickel and Mrs. Aronhalt that helps fundraise money for the American Cancer Society. Because of COVID, they are not doing days of relay and instead are primarily focusing on fundraising.
The club itself meets every other Tuesday after lunch B on the learning staircase. Anyone from grades 7-12th are able to participate!
Cyber Patriots is a team-based competition where students work in small groups to try and solve problems and secure virtual computers and networks. Students are given four different situations, and specific instructions in order to secure a computer and make it difficult for outside users to receive information.
“I really enjoy the environment that we created and the actual content itself,” says Irene Scherer, a Freshman in the club.
The club is still participating in competitions, and most things about the club are similar to last year. When being asked about how the club is running this year, Keira Vasbinder responded, “We really don’t have set meetings and the competitions are held almost the exact same time as last year. I personally prefer not having any meetings but this may be more difficult for those who are new who want to join.”
For some students, joining the club has had a very positive influence on their learning experience. Tessa Wood, another 10th grade student commented that “Thanks to this club, I am seriously considering cyber security as a career option. Clubs can help students make connections and learn more about themselves,”
Future Farmers of America (FFA) is run by Ms. Sass and Mrs. Aiken. The club’s main focus is to provide students with enhanced knowledge in agricultural education by participating in events that build leadership skills and in community projects.
In order to participate, students must pay a membership fee of $25. The club itself meets on Tuesdays in room 306 from 3:15-4:00. For students attending school virtually that week, Zoom meetings are also available.
Anyone in grades 7-12 is eligible to participate. Due to COVID restrictions, the school will not be competing in any FFA competitions. Because of this, the club is focusing on preparation for future competitions.
Health Occupation Students of America, or HOSA, is a career-technical student organization that helps students interested in health care learn leadership skills and helps them make realistic career choices in the healthcare field. The club is supervised by Ms. Fusco and Ms. Bradley. HOSA consists of 6 categories for competition: Health Science Events, Health Professional Events, Emergency Preparedness Events, Leadership Events, Teamwork Events, and Recognition Events.
Any students in grades 9-12 are eligible to participate in the club, regardless if they are completing school virtually or in the hybrid model. Meeting days and times for in-person and virtual meetings are still being decided, and will be determined at a later date.
For the club, students have to pay a fee of $25. Students in the club are participating in the Fall Leadership Conference for Ohio Hosa, which will be held virtually. The conference is available though the 21st of December. More information about HOSA can be found on their website.
Drone Racing is a club that focuses on building and racing a drone, and is supervised by Mr. O’Mara. Any student from grades 7-12 is eligible to participate in the club, with separate divisions for high school and middle school divisions. The club meets every Tuesday in the engineering lab in room 3006 at 3:30. Students are able to compete in teams of six people, so there can be multiple teams from one school.
For competitions, students construct a small drone and design, model, and print a frame for it. Along with this, the teams also have to create a display board, interview with judges, and complete in race and capture the flag events.
When being asked about robotics, Mr. O’Mara described what the different events were like: “In Capture the Flag, two team pilots work together against two opposing team pilots to “capture” pylons by hovering over them for about five seconds. This is harder than it sounds as the drones are difficult to control in a hover; and the camera does not allow the pilot to see directly beneath the drone. In Head-to-Head, one pilot races against another team for both a timed score and an overall lap score. Three laps must be completed that consist of flying through gates and around flags in a predetermined course, while viewing the flight through the drone’s camera.”
Due to the impacts of COVID-19, many safety precautions are being taken, like assigning equipment instead of sharing. Along with this, virtual competitions are also behind held using a simulator called Velocidrone.
The YSU Book Club and Creative Writing Club
The Bio-Med Literary Center (formerly The Creative Commons) sponsors both the YSU Book Club and Creative Writing club, with Mrs. Mihalik as the advisory of both.
The YSU Book Club welcomes anyone from 7-12th grade. Students participating in the club meet in room 3016 every Monday. Students in 7-9 meet at 12:30, while grades 10-12 meet at 11:50. The club focuses on reading books for the YSU English Festival.
The books for the YSU English Festival this year for students in grades 10-12 are Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science by Bridget Heos, Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram, and March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell.
For students in grades 7-9, students are reading Between the Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science by Bridget Heos, We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson eds, March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla, and Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson.
The Creative Writing Club is based on National Novel Writing Month, or as it is commonly referred to, NaNoWriMo. The club meets every Tuesday in room 3016. Students in grades 7-12 are encouraged to join. Much like the YSU Book Club, different grade levels have different times they show up. Students in grades 7-9 meet at 12:30, while students in grade 10-12 meet at 11:50. The club’s goal for the year is to reach 50,000 words!
National Honors Society (NHS) is supervised by Ms. Hammond. Unlike other clubs, students are inducted into the club based on their grades. The club meets twice per month, with one meeting being used to plan events, and the other to volunteer.
To be eligible to apply to the NHS chapter, students have to be either sophomore or junior and have High Performing in all of their core classes, and be at least proficient in elective courses.
Ms. Hammond, the advisor of the club offered insight on being inducted to NHS, “One must act in a fashion that conforms with one’s position, and with the reputation that one has earned. Being inducted into National Honor Society is a privilege. It is an opportunity for students to challenge themselves and continue to develop their characters, service skills, leadership skills, and scholarship. It is not only a privilege for students to be members of NHS, but it is also a duty to continue to uphold the pillars and be models for their peers. Those pillars include: scholarship, service, leadership and character.”
The NHS motto is “noblesse oblige,”which can be translated to “whoever claims to be noble must conduct himself nobly.”
“I love everything we do in this club. While it can be taxing at times, it is always great to see what we can accomplish as a group. I have served in the council all four years of my high school career and I wouldn’t have it any other way!” says Cedric Sarfo, the student council president.
Student Council is supervised by Ms. Varner and Ms. Brook. The club helps make decisions in our school, like planning spirit week, fundraisers, and dances. Student Council also allows students to let their ideas be shared about what happens with our school and meets in the morning on Wednesdays from 7:50-8:25 either on zoom or in the classroom. Any students from grades 9-12 are able to join this club. In order to be a part of it, members are selected after completing an application.
Despite the impacts of COVID-19, the council is still finding ways to continue to run and plan things for our community.
“This year has obviously been a bit different due to the current circumstances we find ourselves in. With most things now, our meetings are mostly on zoom. However, students who are participating in the Hybrid style of learning this year can meet in person following the COVID-19 guidelines. Outside of that change our operations have been virtually the same. We continue to try and find ways to engage the student body irrespective of the current conditions,” Cedric concludes.
Skills USA is an organization that provides competitions for students to help them develop career skills and look for future opportunities and is supervised by Ms. Hughes and Ms. Hill. Anyone in grades 7-12 are able to participate in the club, and there is a registration fee of $25. The first meeting was held on Nov. 20th from 1:05-1:40 in the cafeteria.
The Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) is supervised by Mr. Ullinger. In the past, the club would offer a safe space to talk about things going on in students’ lives. With the impact of COVID, the club is planning on sending out an interest form to see how it can run this year. Concerns about providing a safe space for students at home, who may not want to talk about personal topics in front of family members are also being taken into consideration.
There are nineteen clubs at Bio-Med Science Academy, and each offers a unique aspect of the Bio-Med experience. Of these nineteen clubs, there are five competitive clubs, four committees, three educational groups, and seven leisure clubs.
The competitive teams in Bio-Med offer students the chance to compete both locally and across the country.
Cyber Patriots (Monday with Wolfe) is a nationally recognized organization that gives students the opportunity to learn about hacking and the weakness in computer systems.
Quiz Bowl (Tuesday with Hisey) is a competitive team that quizzes the players on a variety of subjects. This promotes learning new topics and practice one they may already know.
Science Olympiad (Thursday with Mino) is the largest competition team within Bio-Med. It offers students in all areas of scientific interest an opportunity to learn new things in their areas and demonstrate those skills in a variety of challenges, tests, and competitions.
The newest competitive club at Bio-Med is the E-Sports Club (Friday with Mr. Wolfe). This club offers students a chance to connect with not only the Bio-Med community, but also with the gaming community at large and find new experiences, as well as earning scholarships.
Robotics(Thusdays with O’Mara) presents students with the opportunity to design, create, and program a robot. It offers students a chance not only to work on the robot but also to learn valuable collaboration and problem solving skills. Each of Bio-Med’s unique competition clubs give students opportunities for growth in subjects and as a person along with showing them a fun and dynamic experience.
Committees offer students a chance to impact the world around them. Whether it is putting up posters in the school or raising money for cancer, the committees of Bio-Med offer students the chance to make a difference.
Student Council (Friday with Brook) provides students with a strong voice in the school, not only in the form of party planning, but also as the voice of the student body to the administration. This group allows student voices to be heard and respected by those in positions of greater power.
One of the largest committees Bio-Med possesses is the National Honors Society (Wednesday with Varner) (NHS), an organization devoted to volunteer work. NHS gives students the chance to join a nationally recognized program to boost students’ volunteer hours, scholarship opportunities, and prompt them to help their communities.
Relay For Life (Tuesday with Rickle) is one of the largest clubs Bio-Med provides, and as such is one of the most active. Relay for Life holds annual fundraisers and events in order to raise money for the American Cancer Society. This committee offers students a chance to help the larger world in a tangible way.
The newly founded Positivity Committee (Tuesday with King) is devoted to making a difference in the school by encouraging students to look on the brighter side of life. Its members are determined to cheer people up with posters and signs reminding students they are not alone and by providing a safe space for students to come and enjoy themselves. All of the Bio-Med committees want to change the world, whether it be in the school or out in the wider world they all have the common goal of spreading love and hope.
While students are taught a great deal through our classes, some students want to delve deeper into the content than the curriculum has time for. In those cases, students have stepped up to create two educational groups: The Computer Science Club, Dynamic Darlings, and Feminist Club.
Computer Science Club (Tuesday with Wolfe) offers students with an interest in technology the opportunity to go in-depth into topics they feel curious about.
Dynamic Darlings (Thursday in The Quiet Commons) is a group of female students who get together to further the education of young women. The final project of the group is to plan a six week course to educate elementary girls on the struggles they will face growing up and how to combat them.
Feminist Club (Wednesday with Bates) was started in order to provide students a space to discuss different issues facing woman. The club’s goal is both educational as well as community outreach.. Both of these groups promise to inform and empower students in the subjects that matter to them in daily life, as well as give them a safe place to ask questions and have thoughtful discussions.
Each of the leisure clubs at Bio-Med provides a fun and carefree atmosphere in which students can enjoy the company of others interested in the same activities.
Ski Club (Saturdays at Brandywine with Aronhalt) brings together students with love for skiing as they meet at Brandywine Creek. This community allows students to see old friends and make new ones while racing down the slopes.
The newly instated Photography Club (with Case) presents students with the opportunity to meet other people with a passion for pictures. Students can come to get advice or to just have fun and take pictures.
Social Club (Thursday with McDonald) is the new branding for the combination of Film and Games Club. This is a club for students who have a free Thursday afternoon to come hang out, play cards, or help to make short films.
The Gay Straight Alliance (Wednesday with Ullinger) offers students the chance to conect with the LGBTQ+ community in the school and get to know others who relate to their struggle.
The newly revamped Art Club (Friday in the quiet studies) is a space for artistically inclined students to gather and learn. Along with the activities provided by the president, members may also join the National Art Honors Society a nationally recognized organization.
Music Club (Fridays with Martell) is an outlet for students who wish to play music. Every Friday, students can gather and play music with their peers.
Last but certainly not least is the Bio-Med Drama Club (TBD by Mihalik). This club will tackle a new host of plays, allowing students to act, direct, and handle backstage work.
From the arts and humanities to STEM and athletics, Bio-Med has a club for any student to join. Each club offers its own unique experience and atmosphere for students to learn, have fun, and enjoy. Every year students create new clubs, it is an ever shifting landscape. If students look close enough they can find the place they belong.