Dreams Taking Flight: Dominic Russo With the Akron Aero Design Team

By Jacob Rude

Senior Dominic Russo’s internship at The University of Akron reflects his eccentric soul and eclectic personality. He was finally able to obtain his internship after contacting fifteen other companies, where none attempted to work with him or even respond to him. His brother, Robert Russo, himself a Bio-Med alumnus, helped Dominic out by asking some of his friends on The University of Akron Aero Design Team if his younger brother could be an intern there, to which they agreed. Russo the younger then got in contact with the team himself, and the members of UAADT loved the idea of having him on board. 

The Aero Design Team is a competition design team for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design/Build/Fly subdivision, which Dominic describes in this way: “Each year an organization gives rules to a competition that is designed to be impossible in many ways, but it’s real-world problems that companies are trying to solve.” He said, for example, that last year they had to build a scale model bomber designed for an aircraft carrier. This year they have to design a passenger plane that can take off in a very short distance, have a small profile, and have much more power than it necessarily has any reason to have. To test it, they had to carry as many “passengers,” as possible, with passengers being replicated by four-ounce payloads, as well as trail a banner that is as big as possible. According to Russo, the main challenge for the team was to have the plane be able to take off in twenty feet. 

The team built its plane before Thanksgiving, and invited family and friends to a field to see the first and only test flight. The week before the set date for the flight, Russo found himself sleeping on a couch across the hall from the other members of the team for four hours a night between periods of work. On the day of the test flight, they had a plane. To Russo’s surprise, it performed much better than he had thought. They were still working on the plane up until the last minute on the day of the test flight, but it exceeded all expectations. They were able to make the plane fly straight up, and still, it continued to accelerate. Instead of twenty feet, it was able to take off in just five feet. Russo said the plane’s fifteen-minute mandatory flight at full throttle could have been extended to an hour and a half in the air. 

Russo commented on watching the plane take flight for the first time: “It’s a mix of absolute terror and stress, seeing what you’ve been working on for six months in the air, knowing it’s probably not gonna come down in one piece, and just pure amazement and enjoyment seeing that knowing I built that in six days.” 

Russo is planning to attend the University of Akron this fall and looks forward to becoming an official member of the Akron Aero Design Team.

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Generation Z Spearheading Social Change

By Benjamin Morgan and Skylar Cole

Generation Z is preparing to enter the adult world en masse, and the recent wave of student activism shows that many members of this group aren’t willing to sit back and wait for change. Across the world, teenagers have gone on strike in opposition to the injustice they see in the world around them. The activism of this group differs greatly from that of past generations due in large part to the tools that many teens and other young adults have grown up with and have ingrained into their collective culture. Handheld computers, instant access to social media users around the world, and the greatest database of human knowledge ever accessible have all contributed to the strength and scope of Gen Z taking a stand.

One of the first and most covered American events in the new era of student protests was the response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Following the deaths of 17 people in this school shooting, thousands of students walked out across the nation to protest gun violence and support gun control. After the national walkout in March of 2018, the New York Times reported that “the emergence of people not even old enough to drive as a political force has been particularly arresting, unsettling a … debate that had seemed impervious to other factors.” 

Many Bio-Med students participated in this act, constituting the first real concerted effort of student activism in our school. 

“[The shooting and walkout] made me want to do more, but I didn’t know what else to do… Not all of us can be Greta.” said Eryka Lund, a participant in the walkout. 

At the time of the writing of this article, students in Hong Kong are continuing school strikes that have lasted almost two months in the face of continuing police brutality and violence against the people. 

The student-led components are a part of that city’s opposition to increased rule by mainland China, most notably a now-retracted extradition treaty. These students are standing against increased aggression by the Chinese military and local police and defying the recent mask ban, a measure instituted by Hong Kong’s government to ban the wearing of face masks that obscure identity during demonstrations, protecting their right to protest with anonymity. Protesters have managed to send hundreds of videos, photographs, and messages to the outside world, piercing the web of censorship that China has attempted to cast over them to stifle their voices. As the violence has intensified, students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong built barricades on the University grounds and fought the police as government forces attempted to regain the campus. Though they face arrest, government-sanctioned beatings, and even death, the students are willing to accept any fate if it means a future of freedom and democracy for their city.

Perhaps the most striking recent example of global student solidarity came in late September of 2019 with the Global Climate Strike. While working people around the world participated in the strike, the event was inspired and organized by a group of Swedish teenagers, most notably Greta Thunberg. 

August 20, 2018, was the first day that fifteen-year-old Thunberg sat outside the Swedish Riksdag, the national legislature and decision-making body, with her now-famous sign reading, “Skolstrejk för klimatet,” which in English reads “school strike for the climate.” From that day until the Swedish general election on September 9, Thunberg sat outside the Riksdag during school hours every weekday in protest. Her demands came after Sweden experienced the hottest summer in 262 years, in which the country was overtaken by wildfires and heatwaves.

Between September 20-27, 2019, she helped to orchestrate the Global Climate Strike. Independent sources estimated that over six million students voided going to school on the final day in solidarity with Thunberg.

Thunberg’s action caught international attention, in part due to her blunt language about the climate crisis. She continues to call out world leaders and the public to take action and address climate change. For her actions, Thunberg has received and been nominated for many awards including being named one of the 100 most influential people of 2019 by Time magazine and being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. 

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Abigail Longstreth Gets her Hands Dirty with Soil and Water Conservation

By Jacob Rude

Abigail Longstreth’s senior internship is at Portage Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Ravenna, where she is able to make connections with government officials and gain experience with environmental science. The Portage SWCD is an independent division of the Ohio Department of Agriculture that provides support for issues including soils, streams, wetlands, drainage, ponds, wildlife, plants, and forests. While her work changes day-to-day, she says she enjoys the change of pace and is grateful for all of the life skills and knowledge she is gaining. 

“I get to go outside a lot. I go on site visits with them, we drop off rain barrels; that’s one of the projects that I helped organize,” said Longstreth. 

She is interested in helping areas that are lacking in water resources: “I have a specific passion to go and help people in developing countries get water because that’s a really big problem,” said Longstreth. 

She is currently starting a project to quantify plastic waste at Bio-Med, where she is trying to find out how much plastic is recycled in proportion to how much is thrown away at the school, and hopes to expand it to other schools as well. 

“I feel like I’ve been able to make a lot of change already just through all of the stuff I’ve been doing and I’ve been given the opportunity to further what I want to do,” Longstreth said. 

Longstreth recommends that any students interested in environmental science try and get an internship at the Portage Soil and Water Conservation District: “It’s only been two months and I’ve already had so much valuable experience. They’ve been really, really accommodating with helping me accomplish my SMART goals that I set out. They’re making my goals a priority, and it’s awesome.” Longstreth is hoping to major in environmental science, but is currently undecided on a college. 

To learn more about the Portage Soil and Water Conservation District, visit portageswcd.org.

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Educational Models of Civic Institutions Offer Crucial Experiences to Students

By Ben Morgan

Bio-Med offers multiple student-run organizations that provide our community with experience and education in real-world institutions. Some of the most crucial lessons students take away from school are those on civic responsibility and the structure of the real world. These lessons are taught by allowing students to participate in mockups of some of the most critical institutions in society: elected government and free journalism. 

As Americans, we are given the freedom these institutions provide, but without a well-informed and engaged public, they cease to exist. While it may not levy taxes or regulate federal law before the eyes of the world, the opportunity to vote and experience representative democracy that student government provides is critical for the preparation of well-informed voters. 

Similarly, school newspapers allow students to not only learn, but also participate in the journalistic process while simultaneously informing their fellow students about important happenings and ideas. These are formative experiences for students to have that will impact their view on the institutions of our society and their connections to them. At present, people’s faith in these columns of our culture is eroding. 

According to statistics published by the U.S. Census Bureau, only about 53% of the eligible population turned out to vote in the 2018 elections, about a 12% increase from the last midterm. Similarly, the Knight Foundation reports that 69% of Americans state that they have lost faith in the media in the past decade. Perhaps the most distressing of these results comes from the Pew Research Center, which claims that only 40% of the U.S. population is satisfied with our democracy. 

It is crucial, at this time perhaps more than ever before, to support these organizations which form the basis for hands-on education in the fields which we all rely on for the functioning of day-to-day life in a free country. If Generation Z is to have an informed and engaged electorate, we must aid and work with student democracy and news resources. 

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Bio-Med Senior Turns Next Page with Internship

By Jacob Rude

Stephanie Ijoma’s senior internship is working with author James Renner, where she has been tasked with finding “true crime stories,” as well as supernatural stories on the social media website Reddit. Renner has written several non-fiction books as well as a few novels, mainly encompassing true crime and supernatural fiction. He started his career as a reporter and covered the story of Amy Mihaljevic, which transitioned him into the world of creative writing with his first book, Amy: My Search for Her Killer: Secrets & Suspects in the Unsolved Murder of Amy Mihaljevic. Stephanie was referred to Renner through Ms. Bates, the 11th grade language arts teacher here at Bio-Med. “We’ve known each other now for 17 years.” Ms. Bates recounted. She worked with his wife at the previous school she taught at, Coventry Highschool. Renner’s wife was the choir teacher there, and met Renner through her. Shortly after, she got in contact with him and worked out the internship. 

Renner needed help researching his new book about “scary stories on Reddit.” So far, Stephanie has scoured Reddit for qualifying stories, but her success rate has been relatively low. She said that only about one out of ten people she contacts actually gives her their information. Ijoma explained: “Basically, he gave me a little prompt of how I could practice sending messages to people, and I went through a couple Reddit threads, sent a couple letters to people, asking them if they would like to be part of the book. Then they would either say yes or no, or they just wouldn’t respond.” 

Renner currently has one of his books in the works to be adapted into a television show, as well as having a podcast called “The Philosophy of Crime.” 

Renner has one piece of advice for those students who may be interested in writing in a professional setting: “The first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with publishing, and if you want to make money at it, I would stay away from self-publishing and go the traditional route. To understand how the process really works, the best book out there is Stephen King’s On Writing. That’s a good place to start.” Stephanie hasn’t done much more than research as of yet, but says that she is looking forward to the work she will be doing later on in the process. 

Renner’s future plans for Ijoma include showing her the process of turning those stories into chapters in the book, as well as the layout, cover art, copy editing, and publishing. Ijoma talks about what she is anticipating for her future: “I’m just looking forward to learning how to write better and learning what the publishing process is like because I’ve never known what it’s like, but with this internship I have the opportunity to learn that.” 

He is also planning to have Ijoma help him finish editing his recently written gothic horror novel, as the main character is a young woman in her twenties. He hopes that Stephanie can give him some perspective regarding that character.

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