Tag Archives: Annalise Bassett

FC musicians prepare for state level competition this weekend

Story by Annalise Bassett

As the bell rings at the end of seventh period, hundreds of kids pour out of classrooms and head to their cars, the car rider line, or their buses, but the day is not over for many student musicians. 

Freshman Reagan Schmidt unpacks her trombone in preparation for trombone choir practice. She also has a private lesson that night, and two practices later in the week for trombone quartet, as well as tuba and euphonium quartet. On top of that, she has three solos to practice for. She is taking all three ensembles and all three solos to the Indiana State School Music Association [ISSMA] state solo/ensemble contest. 

Last weekend, on Feb. 22, the vocal and piano event was held at Perry Meridian Middle School in Indianapolis. Tomorrow, on Feb. 29, the woodwind, brass, and percussion players have their event at North Central High School in Indianapolis, while the string players have their event at Northview Middle School in Indianapolis.

Schmidt, who plays trombone, euphonium, and tuba, has gone to state contest twice, but this year, she is most excited to push herself and to do more for state than she ever has before. 

“I am most excited [to perform] all of my events. I’m doing more events than I’ve ever done this year, so it’ll be fun to test my limits,” said Schmidt. 

Other students, such as sophomore Cadence Wehneman, are excited to see results.

“I’m most excited to see how my ensemble does at state. We got a good score at district, and I’m excited to see how far we can go,” said Wehneman, who plays trumpet.

For students who have never gone to state before this year, like junior Hunter Marlow, state brings an opportunity to learn for next time.

“I’m excited to see other groups and get criticism, so I can have ideas on what to do differently next year,” said Marlow, who is in choir and went to vocal state solo/ensemble last Saturday, Feb. 22.

By contrast, students who have done state solo/ensemble before, especially for more than one year, generally push themselves to bring even more to state every year.

“I have done state solo and ensemble for four years. In my first year, I performed in one ensemble, then I played in two ensembles and one solo each for my sophomore and junior years,” said senior Elliott Lonneman, who plays violin. “This year, I am playing in four state events, since I managed to get a gold on my three ensemble events and one solo event at district.”

Students can start doing district solo/ensemble in middle school. As soon as a musician performs a Group I piece, the hardest piece one can play, and receives a gold rating, they can move on to state.

“I have done solo and ensemble since seventh grade. That year, I brought a solo and a quartet, the next, a solo and a trio. Once I got to high school, my section did a large choir both years, and I brought another solo each year,” said Wehneman.

As musicians grow, they get more opportunities to go to state, either by participating in more events or by learning more and getting better. The experience of going to state can be different from year-to-year, because students know what to expect.

“State is a very different experience. The entire event is much bigger and there are many other things going on,” said Wehneman. “State was a bit more stressful for me last year, since it was my first time going, but I’m excited to have the experience again.”

State contest is a lot more stressful than district. Lonneman said that judges critique your work even more at state than at district.

“State solo and ensemble is different because your judges at state have even higher expectations for you than your judges at district. They will be more critical of you and will pay more attention to how you play,” said Lonneman. “However, given the amount of time you put in to qualify for state, your performances will most likely be successful.”

Between the ISSMA district and state solo/ensemble events, student musicians ramp up their practicing, both in amount and how tough they are on themselves. Students can also use the district judges’ comments to strengthen their abilities before state.

“For district, I tried to practice for at least an hour and a half each day. For state, I’m practicing for about the same amount of time, but I’m using the [district] judge’s comments to get a better idea of what to fix,” said Schmidt.

As musicians throughout FC finish up after-school practices, they leave the building and head home, ready for the big event. For all of them, the hard work they all put in is what truly impacts them most.

“The thing that I enjoy most about state is when you go in the room and do your best,” said Schmidt. “No matter what happens during the performance, you know that you’ve worked hard to get to the place you are. That’s what matters.”


Learning other languages improves academics

By Annalise Bassett

The bell rings overhead, and students flood out into the hallway, nearly 1100 of them heading to a language class.

Many students all across the state of Indiana learn at least one foreign language sometime throughout their high school career. People all across the country are bilingual. In fact, 20.14 percent of Americans were bilingual in 2016 according to an article by Francois Grosjean, PhD, of Psychology Today. This number has doubled since 1980, when only 10.68 percent of Americans were bilingual.

Learning a foreign language is not only useful for getting a job or travelling abroad, it also affects the brain and its development. According to Whitby, a private school for kids up through eighth grade, “Language learning helps improve people’s thinking skills and memory abilities. Bilingual students concentrate better, ignoring distractions more effectively than those who only speak one language.” 

The study Whitby references, conducted by University of Edinburgh psychology professor Thomas Bak, MD, concluded that “…learning a second language can develop new areas of your mind and strengthen your brain’s natural ability to focus.”

Languages help your brain grow not only mentally and cognitively, but also physically and size-wise. A study referenced by Whitby that was conducted in Sweden concluded that the brains of scholars who learned a second language grew, while the brains of scholars who did not learn a second language did not change in size.

Learning a language can help you with skills beyond speaking the new language—it can help with focus, mental clarity, decision-making skills, memory, study skills, and more. Lead with Languages, a program that strives to spread the importance of learning foreign languages, said that studies have shown that when making decisions in a different language from your first, we are more level-headed and can make decisions more clearly. Lead with Languages references a 2012 article written by Boston University psychology professor Catherine Caldwell-Harris, PhD, on Scientific American. Caldwell-Harris wrote that your second language is less emotional, and using a second language evokes less anxiety than your native language.

All 1100 of the students at FC taking a language are affected by these skills, and some of them take more than one language, further increasing the skills that languages help develop. The younger people learn a language, the more effective studying a language can be.

“Children who learn another language before age five use the same part of the brain to acquire that second language that they use to learn their mother tongue,” said a Lead with Languages article on learning early. “Younger learners are also uninhibited by the fear of making mistakes, which is sometimes an obstacle for older beginners.”

Children who learn languages early also have cognitive benefits that those who learn later in life either do not have or have less of. 

“Compared to those without an additional language, bilingual children have improved reading, writing, and math skills, and they generally score higher on standardized tests,” said Lead with Languages.

Whether you learn as a young kid, in high school, or as an adult, languages still have large effects on your brain and your ability to communicate with others. It is part of the reason that students are encouraged to take languages, and it explains why 58.8 percent of FC’s student body is currently learning at least one language.

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.


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.