Category Archives: Annalise Bassett

Continued Q&A with Diversity club

By Annalise Bassett and Destiny Love

Senior Sydney Palmer – Member of Diversity Club

The Bagpiper: How does diversity club bring students together?

Sydney Palmer: Diversity brings students together because we are able to recognize our differences and how they make us ourselves.  

BP: What does a typical meeting of this club look like?

SP: We have meetings in Mrs. Waiz’s class during fourth period, and it includes the council talking about current issues in the school, reading survey responses, and discussing experiences that have occurred at FCHS involving discrimination.

BP: How does Diversity Club bring students together?

SP: This club brings minorities together so they have a place to talk about their concerns but also connect on another level. The diversity advisory council was not meant to exclude anyone, and we just want everyone to know that it was created to educate everyone on the importance of diversity!

BP: What is your favorite celebration/event?

SP: We don’t really have events.

BP: Why is this club important to you?

SP: This club is important to me because I want to show that our school is accepting of everyone and defeats the stereotypes.

BP: How does this club affect your life?

SP: It affects my life because I’m able to empathize with the struggles minorities have gone through and understand what I can do to help.

BP: What do you like about the club?

SP: I like that it’s a place for everyone to talk about anything they need to discuss.

BP: Why did you originally join the club?

SP: I joined the club because I wanted to promote diversity in our school

BP: What other clubs are you a member of?

SP: I am in Diversity advisory council, student council, renaissance club, and interact club.

 

Junior Nicole Holland- Member of Diversity Club

The Bagpiper: How does diversity club bring students together?

Nicole Holland: The Diversity Advisory Council brings people together by bringing in all kinds of people. we all have different hobbies but share one end goal and that’s spreading awareness of other cultures in our school, whether you’re white or colored.

BP: What does a typical meeting of diversity club look like?

NH: A typical meeting is us gathered in a classroom, typically ms. waiz’s room and we throw out ideas of how we can grow and improve. we discuss problems in our school and how we improve them.

BP: What do you like about this club?

NH: This club makes me feel like my opinion is heard and cared about, and i know a lot of the other members feel that way as well. there are many students who felt like they were different from everyone else and this is a place where we can all relate and understand we aren’t alone in our experiences.

BP: What are your goals for next year?

NH: The Diversity Advisory Council has already experienced a lot of backlash in it’s opening stages, but we’re all fully prepared to go through it and we’ll continue until our message is heard. we’ll be expanding our council and it’s influence as time continues.

BP: What does this club mean to you?

NH: To me this council means a chance for me to make an impact. it’s been too long that my voice and opinion has been shut down, and this is my chance to help someone else experiencing discrimination.

BP: How has the club affected your life?

NH: The Diversity Advisory Council has positively affected my life. it makes me really happy to see such a diverse group of people working together to make a change.

BP: What is your favorite thing about the club?

NH: My favorite thing about it is hearing everyone else’s opinions. meeting new people and being able to share experiences without being afraid of judgement feels really nice as well.

BP: What is your favorite event?

NH: My favorite event is in the esports club. next year we’re planning for a LAN party where people outside the esports club can come join us for games and win prizes. hopefully we’ll get more members that way as well.

 

Q&A with FC scoliosis patients

by Annalise Bassett

Anonymous Sophomore

How does scoliosis affect your life?

“Well scoliosis, for me, my curve isn’t extremely bad, so it doesn’t affect me too much on a day-to-day basis. However, I have to do Schroth therapy at home, so I try to do that a couple times a week. That kind of affects my nightly routine. Usually after I do my exercises, my back is really sore. Sometimes during class, my back will just be kind of sore from sitting awhile, [especially] during long tests, like ISTEP or something.”

How does Schroth therapy work?

“At first, I had to go, once a week, over to Louisville where they have specialized physical therapy. It’s just a bunch of exercises to try to strengthen the muscles along your back, I’m not for sure exactly what muscles they are, and try to get tension on the opposite side [of the curve] to try to correct the curve. My curve is to my right, so I try to get tension on my left to try to reverse it. At home, I just do the same exercises.”

 

Sophomore Reagan Schneidau

How does scoliosis affect your life?

“It made a lot of things really difficult. Like, hiking, that was really rough on me. There were a lot of things I couldn’t do because my back hurt so bad. It was kind of immobilizing, but not like, extremely.”

 

What kinds of things did you have to do to keep it from getting worse, or to correct it?

“I was in my brace for two-and-a-half years, I think. While I was in my brace, and even while I was out of my brace, I did a lot of physical therapy. I was supposed to do my physical therapy exercises. It kind of hurt for me to do them. Before freshman year, I had my surgery, and that kind of changed everything. I was really scared about it at first, but then it happened. Now, I’m flexible, and I can do things that I thought I wouldn’t be able to do. I think it was the right decision for me.

 

Sophomore Eric Haney

How does scoliosis affect your life?

“It’s mostly just mild pains, because of the spine being off it makes your back hurt from a lot of stuff.”

 

What kinds of things did you have to do to keep it from getting worse, or to correct it?

“I’m lucky to where mine’s not really that bad, so I don’t have to do much to [fix it]. Basically, whatever would damage your spine, [I] don’t do that.”

 

Interview with IDOE Press Secretary Adam Baker

Story by Annalise Bassett

What qualifies a bullying incident for reporting to the IDOE?

Bullying as defined by Indiana Code 20-33-8-0.2 means overt, unwanted, repeated acts or gestures including verbal or written communications or images transmitted in any manner (including digitally or electronically), physical acts committed, aggression, or any other behaviors, that are committed by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate, or harm the targeted student and create for the targeted student an objectively hostile school environment that:
– places the targeted student in reasonable fear of harm to the targeted student’s person or property;
– has a substantially detrimental effect on the targeted student’s physical or mental health;
– has the effect of substantially interfering with the targeted student’s academic performance; or
– has the effect of substantially interfering with the targeted student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, and privileges provided by the school.

How does the IDOE follow up with schools reporting zero incidents of bullying, and does it actually sound reasonable for big schools to report zero incidents of bullying?
Per Indiana Code 20-34-6-2, the Indiana Department of Education may conduct an audit of a school corporation to ensure accurate reporting of bullying incidents, and all discrepancies in reporting will also be posted on the IDOE website. Following the 2018 legislative session , parents can now “kickstart” the audit process if they too feel their school’s numbers are inaccurate.
I do not want to speculate on the reasonability of data as we know over the years schools have instituted conflict resolution classes to help education students on how to better handle and respond to situations as to curb bullying within their schools.

Are there any consequences for schools not reporting or falsely reporting bullying incidents, and what are they if so?
The department performs an audit and finds a school’s numbers to not be accurate, the data for that school will be updated and reflected in the annual bullying report.

How does the IDOE investigate and confirm that schools reporting zero incidents are being truthful with their reports?
Per statute, the Indiana Department of Education does not have authority to investigate rates of bullying. This is a manner that falls under the jurisdiction of local school boards.

Q&A with therapist Amanda Hurd, LMHC

By Annalise Bassett

Bagpiper: How are mental and physical health connected?

Amanda Hurd: “These two are deeply connected as they impact and influence one another. A person who is physically healthy is more likely to be mentally healthy, and vice versa. Mental health plays a significant role in how one functions and maintains their lifestyle, especially on a physical level. For example, a client suffering from depression may experience decreased pleasure in once pleasurable activities and withdraw from them. This same person may also sleep too much or not enough, have reduced energy levels, overeat/undereat, as well as gain or lose weight. These depressive symptoms can bring an increased risk for physical health problems. In some cases, a person’s physical health decline may be the first sign of a mental health problem. Being physically unhealthy can also contribute to a decline in mental health with symptoms such as low self esteem, depressed mood, and panic attacks. In addition, research shows us those suffering from chronic illnesses are at increased risk of developing mental health disorders.”

BP: How can school impact a teenager’s mental health?

AH: “Attending school can both positively and negatively influence a teenager’s mental health. Factors such as having too heavy of a workload, short deadlines, social difficulties (low self esteem, social anxiety), not meeting expectations of teachers/parents/themselves, etc can all negatively impact a student’s mental health. On the other hand, it can also positively influence a teen’s mental health by providing support and fulfillment for one’s educational goals, create an environment for the development of quality friendships/relationships, and positively impact one’s self esteem/self confidence as they succeed through the years.”

BP: What can schools do to help anxious and depressed students?

AH: “Assist them in finding an attainable, customizable balance. What works for one doesn’t always work for another. Schools can support students by checking in with them, praising them, being the consistent positive in their day. If the school has concerns, potentially make a referral for therapy services, if services are available, and/or speak to their parents about their concerns. See question 4 also for parental recommendations, schools can create an open line of communication as well, where students can speak freely and be heard.”

BP: How can parents help their kids cope with mental disorders such as anxiety and depression while pushing them to do school work and get good grades?

AH: “I often tell parents of my teenage clients to create an open line of communication with their teens and listen, listen, listen. Validate their feelings and try to work together on solutions, whether that be something they do in the home and/or with the help of a therapist. I also recommend parents to establish healthy boundaries and set attainable expectations for success of their child. Then, revisit these boundaries and expectations after a few months to see what is working, what is not, and what may need to be adjusted. Everyone gets a voice in these situations and comprises should be expected. Overall, setting up an environment where teens are comfortable, able to speak freely, AND be heard are crucial steps to finding solutions that work for the teen and the parents. I would recommend parents with anxious teens to read the book ‘Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children’. This book explains how anxiety is a normal part of life and the role parents can take to assist their kids in responding to their worries versus running from them.”

BP: What is the balance that teenagers and their parents and teachers should find between hard work and helping themselves with anxiety and depression?

AH: “I’m unsure how to answer this one. I will say checking in with those in your support group, and checking in with yourself are helpful ways to see how things are going, what should be added, removed, or adjusted in one’s life to maintain balance. Give yourself room for errors and celebrate accomplishments.”

BP: What do you think are the major causes of such a spike in teenage anxiety and depression?

AH: “Technology; social media and cyberbullying come to mind first. Social media creates a false sense of the ‘perfect’ lives of others and can set unattainable goals. Research has shown an increase in anxiety and depression from exposure to social media and I have worked with clients in my office who have reported an increase in their mood after eliminating some of the stressors of social media, or closing their accounts altogether. Is this the case for all students? No, but this has been my experience with some clients. Cyberbullying is widely talked about for its detrimental effects on teens. It can lead to anxiety, depression, or even suicide. With a high percentage of teens using cell phones and the internet daily, chances also increase of being a victim of cyberbullying.”

BP: Do you think that society as a whole downplays the importance of mental health? Why or why not?

AH: “I think the idea of the importance of mental health is improving with each decade and is being given increased attention, unfortunately, with acts of violence being shown through the media in our country. I don’t think society necessarily downplays the importance of it, I’m not sure if society knows what to do with it at times.”

BP: Is there anything else my readers need to know?

AH: “Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health disorders in the United States and both are treatable. Feeling anxious or sad are normal emotions and a normal part of life. When these emotions linger, worsen, and/or reduce one’s satisfaction of life, that is when they become abnormal, and additional support may be needed. Learning how to recognize and cope with these emotions can significantly impact one’s quality and satisfaction with life. I never want your readers to feel reluctant to ask someone for help if their normal emotions become abnormal. Help is always available. Always.”

School affects students’ mental health and stability

By Annalise Bassett

I stand in the lunch line, waiting to get to the front to quietly tell the cafeteria employee what I would like to eat. I am not with a friend and feel awkward standing in line alone. My anxiety says everyone is looking at me, judging me for how I stand in the line and what I am doing. Because of this, I pull my phone out as a safety net and I scroll through the news to distract myself from thinking about the other kids in line.

On top of my social anxiety, I am stressed out about a test later that day and about my grades in general. School strongly aids in making me and so many others anxious and depressed, but society does not seem to accept this. Society claims that the only reason some of us are anxious and depressed is cell phones and social media.

Most Google searches on the topic come back with results such as “Teens+Social Media=Depression,” which can make some teenagers feel overlooked by society. All teenagers can agree that school is stressful and that it is definitely a cause of teen anxiety and depression, but some people do not seem to accept this.

Some have written books on today’s teenagers and their social media usage being linked to depression and anxiety. IGen, a book by Jean Twenge, is about our generation being the first to grow up completely surrounded by technology, and how that correlates strongly with our mental illnesses. Twenge also wrote an online column in the Washington Post saying that teen anxiety and depression rates are not related to school, as her research team “found that the time teens spent on homework barely budged between 2010 and 2015, effectively ruling out academic pressure as a cause.”

Do adults not understand that homework is not the only part of school? There are so many other factors to school that make it academically pressuring. School creates pressure to get good grades, join clubs and extracurriculars, keep up with homework, and compete for the best GPA. On top of all of this, we have friendships to maintain, bodies to keep healthy, and families to spend time with. There are hardly enough hours in the day for everything we need to do on top of school.

School also creates social troubles, such as popularity and cliques. Especially in high school, it can feel like everyone is looking at and judging you for anything and everything. Teenagers hold grudges over arguments and are downright mean to each other, sometimes for no reason. Kids make fun of each other in the halls and whisper things behind each others’ backs.

Adults do not seem to understand that school has gotten much more stressful since “their day.” We have a lot more competition to get into college and to earn scholarship money. College is much more expensive than it was 20 years ago, and student debt levels are extremely high. Schools are now also pushing for students to look at college early, so underclassmen and even eighth graders are dealing with this pressure of thinking about college and student debt at young ages. On top of that, we are being pressured into choosing a career path before we even enter high school, when we often do not often know what we even want to do.

Obviously, due to all of this, teen depression and anxiety is on the rise. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 3.1 million adolescents aged 12 through 17 suffered from at least one depressive episode in 2016–which is 12.8 percent of the adolescent population. Approximately 60 percent of those kids did not receive treatment for their depression at all. According to a 2017 article by the Child Mind Institute, 31.9 percent of all adolescents will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder by the time they are 18.

These are record numbers, and they are only going to go up from here. School is constantly becoming more stressful, from standardized testing starting as early as elementary school to pressure to be in the hardest classes possible. We deal with so much, and it is just overlooked.

While I agree that social media aids in teenagers developing mental illnesses, it is not completely the culprit. Obviously, social media is a platform for cyberbullying to occur, which can make teens feel bad about themselves. However, I do not have any social media accounts, nor do I want them. Several of my friends, who also deal with anxiety and depression, do not have social media accounts either. So how did we develop anxiety and depression? I will not claim that social media is not a cause of mental illness, but it is not okay to claim it is the only cause.

We have so much to deal with during our teenage years, from drama to academic pressure to clubs and extracurriculars. Society has to accept that school is a very real cause of anxiety and depression, and not just shove the cell phone excuse in our faces.

Having our mental illnesses ignored makes us feel like mental health isn’t important. Another issue is that, personally, I feel much more inclined to stay home from school when I am sick than when I am dealing with mental issues. School feels too important to miss for feeling anxious or depressed, and once I arrive at school for the day, there is no way for me to leave just because of anxiety. Just needing to get away from the place that makes me feel terrible is not a good enough reason for school. So I push through the day as much as I can, promising myself a nap when I get home to make myself feel better.