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Q&A with Master Gunnery Sergeant Lyn Akermon, Naval Science Instructor at New Albany High School

By Aurora Robinson

Bagpiper: Can you describe to me what Basic Leadership Training is?

Lyn Akermon: “Basic Leadership Training in my opinion is character development. We take cadets from different schools around the local area— Louisville, Southern Indiana—and we mix them all together, they are all strangers. They have to be functional as one, as a unit. We make it stressful. It’s a stressful environment, stressful mentally and physically because we do a lot of physical training in it. The mental aspect is we teach classes, we put them in leadership roles. They all have to try a leadership role during the week. They have to learn each other’s weaknesses, each other’s strengths. To be a good leader you have to be a good follower. But some people have more leadership abilities than others. Basic Leadership Training is, to me, character development. It shows the individual what are my weaknesses what are my strengths? Am I better physically than others? It teaches me about teamwork, comradery, it teaches me how to give certain people tasks. You can’t task just anybody on anything until you know their strengths and weaknesses. So you wouldn’t give somebody a job, in other words, that you knew they were weak in that job and they could not accomplish that job or that mission. So it’s not just about you learning about you, it’s learning about others around you and in life you have to play the hand that you’re dealt. So, Basic Leadership Training teaches you strengths, weaknesses, not just yours, but your teammates and it teaches you how to accomplish goals, or the military calls it accomplish a mission together with what you have at hand. That’s what basic leadership training is.”

“We do it using the military style of training. Physical training, lots of marching. We have team events because we are huge on building teams, uniform inspections, and a lot of it, too, we just have fun events because we teach them that there’s time that you have to work and there’s time that you need to relax and enjoy yourself, too. That’s a lot how the military deals with stress. Everyone is human you’ve got to have some down time.”

BP: Why would you push your cadets to do BLT?

LA: “I don’t do this job to put people in the military. I do this job to make them productive citizens, to make them good citizens. Basically, to teach them that all through life there’s going to be leaders, there’s going to be followers, there’s going to be a lot of stress in your life and the sooner you learn to deal with the stresses of life, the better you can handle the tough situations in anything you do. If you go to college, if you go to the military, if you go to the workforce, family, no matter what happens, you can deal with stress in your life and you have got to learn how to accept it and you have got to learn how to overcome it. And that’s the main reason for leadership training.”

BP: Is there anything else you would like to add?

LA: “I think the most it does for them—it’s a confidence builder and it’s extremely good for those cadets who always doubt themselves. It just shows them that they can overcome obstacles in life. That’s the main thing.”

Vexation with teachers’ budgets continued from pages 4&5

By Shari Rowe

In the past year, teachers in multiple states have had walkouts over funding and money. Kentucky is one such state that has had walkouts in the past year, protesting more specifically over their pensions being planned to be taken away.

“They so definitely affected having school in session. I’d rather support my teachers and graduate a few days late than not support them and complain about my senior year ending later. I do want to get out of here but at same time I’d rather be helpful and I want to be there for them,” said J Graham Brown School senior Max Palmer.

In addition, there are laws against walkouts in Indiana as well as in other states.

“It is illegal for teachers to strike in Indiana; however, there’s been other states where it’s illegal for teachers to strike,” said English teacher Kristi Charbonneau, “and it hasn’t stopped teachers because some schools are so underfunded that they can’t afford chairs that aren’t broken.”

Some of these obstacles, like the Kentucky pensions, are tackled by teachers in the form of walkouts, as well as other ways of protesting.

“A sick-out is where so many people call in sick that districts have to cancel school. I have heard we have to do this in the state of Kentucky because striking or walking out is not an option,” said Stuart Pepper Middle School counselor Aimee Fackler, who has participated in the walkouts at her school.

In Kentucky, which has been having walkouts since spring of 2018, the issues also lead back to funding for schools, students, and teachers. Many teachers in the Meade County school district, which includes Stuart Pepper Middle School, in Kentucky have actively spoken out about these issues.

“Kentucky teachers have several political goals, as I see it. One, fund public education at a reasonable level that restores money for textbooks, professional development, and stops requiring districts to pay for unfunded state educational mandates,” said coordinator for student services for Meade County Schools in Kentucky Amy Berry. “Two, demonstrate the ‘power’ that the teaching force has to lobby Frankfort in preparation for the fight that will ultimately take place over our pension system since this wasn’t a budget year, this could not be addressed during this session. And three, rebuild respect for the important work that our staff does for Kentucky’s children every day.”

In order for their requests to be fulfilled, many Kentucky teachers travel to Frankfort, the state’s capitol, to protest on the capitol in efforts for Congress and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin to hear their demands.

“The reason teachers are walking out of school is to go to Frankfort to make sure bills do not get passed that would hurt our public education system,” said Fackler. “The overall goal is that we keep our funding for our schools and we fund our pension system. I believe the ultimate goal is to find better funding for our schools.”

Instead of walkouts, ISTA president Teresa Meredith wants to protest in a different way in Indiana than the walkouts in other states.

“Well, we’re trying actually to get more and more of our locals to do something called a walk-in where you pick a day, you prepare, you get all of the teachers ready, you try and get administration to do this with you,” said Meredith, “and right before the contract day starts, you all gather in front of the building and you all walk in together, and you invite the community to come and watch this and you ask the community members to come and show their support for their teachers and then you let local news media know that you’re doing this.”

Walkouts and other such protests happen to draw attention to the problems teachers constantly face in their chosen profession.

“The thing that will help Kentucky schools and employees the most, in this fight, is for all Kentuckians to vote,” said Kentucky Stuart Pepper Middle School eighth grade math teacher Casey Mattingly. “We need pro-education legislators in office. We also need all people who are not registered to vote, to register. The more voters for our cause, the better.”

Some students are even getting involved, some marching with their teachers.

“I do know a bunch of students, like when the teachers go and protest, a bunch of students are going to Frankfort to protest with them. Last year, when all of this kind of ramped up, there were walkouts before school started in the morning. A lot of students participated in that,” said Palmer. “That’s all that I can really think of, though. I know some kids are taking to Twitter because of that JCPS closings (Twitter) account. A lot of them are talking to the Matt Bevins (Twitter) account. I’m not sure if he is seeing them but someone is at least.”

Teachers want legislators to know that they are here for an important reason, and that is to help students.

“Understand that everything is not black and white, that teachers are here because we’re passionate about helping kids,” said Charbonneau. “We’re not here to jump through hoops or to give tests or to just make the state happy. We’re here for kids.”

 

Q&A with Artjom Rubchinskiy, a German student

By Aurora Robinson

Bagpiper: Does your school offer any other languages?

Artjom Rubchinskiy: “As far as I know, all schools in Germany offer English as a mandatory subject. I live close to France, so French is also a subject here, though it’s optional and I know that a bunch of schools offer Italian and Spanish too.”

BP: Do you take any of the languages?

AR: “I’ve had English classes for almost eight years now, and I took French classes for two years.

BP: How many classes do you take a week?

AR: “15, all varying in length, but lasting up to three hours each and with about two to four a day.”

BP: What is the grading system like?

AR: “We use a numeral system, where one is equal to an A and six is equal to an F. Most grades are divided into four parts, attendance being one of them and showing how many classes you actually show up to. Your oral grade, [it is] dependant on how actively you participate in the class, and then the grade for your homework and how well you do on exams. All of these are added up and divided by four, and that makes your grade for the whole subject/class. This sounds pretty fair and balanced, but is often just an unfair mess.”

BP: What are the relationships between students and teachers like? Is it respected?

AR: “The higher of a grade you’re in, the more the teachers respect you. I think a lot of teachers are simply overworked and underpaid for dealing with a room full of misbehaving teens five days a week, but a lot of them also just aren’t quite made for the job. Many of them don’t listen to constructive criticism and disregard the needs of their students. Then again, of course there’s a large number of really great teachers here. Some of them really help guide our ways positively, and I’ve met many teachers I have nothing but respect for. Despite this, though, a lot of kids have a problem with authority, and this does not exclude the teachers.”

BP: Anything else to add about schools in Germany?

AR: “Most of Germany’s schools are free (so long as they aren’t private or universities) and pretty well managed and respected and a lot of them offer foreign exchange programs, additional language courses, clubs and some of them even have school psychologists. I’ve wanted to do a foreign exchange program with an American school for a long time, but never found the time to.”

 

Q&A with Faye Eades, creator of this Sunday’s Senior Dinner Dance

By Aurora Robinson

Bagpiper: What is it that you are doing with Senior Dinner Dance?

Faye Eades: “Last year I started the Senior Dinner Dance. It was something that I had gone to Dr. Willman about at the beginning of last year. There were some changes to the Senior Week and they were no longer able to do the full Senior Week. So they were switching it to just one day, it was senior lunch. And I was just looking for a different opportunity for the students to have to socialize and have a fun time together. So I presented this idea to Dr. Willman last year and with it being the school’s 50th anniversary and having changes to Senior Week he thought this would be a good new addition to start last year. We had a good turnout. The students really enjoyed themselves. Therefore, he said that we could have it again this year and hopefully in future years to come. This seems to be something that the seniors have enjoyed and have an interest in attending.”

BP: So, you started Senior Dinner Dance?

FE: “I got the idea because when I was in high school, my high school had a senior dinner dance and it was something we enjoyed. So I presented that idea to Dr. Willman. Yes, you could say I started it, but Dr. Willman is the one who gave the approval to have the event.”

BP: In short, what are the details for the Senior Dinner Dance? What will happen that evening?

FE: “It is held at the Olmsted. It is in Louisville. It will be this Sunday evening, Feb. 17th from 6 to 10 p.m. Students will arrive and there will be a photographer there to take pictures. There will be about a 30-minute time frame for them to have just small appetizers and fruit and cheese and then to grab a drink. And then they will be seated and served dinner. After the dinner course then there will also be a dessert served. After that is done, what we did last year is we took a group picture of all the seniors that were in attendance, all of them together. Then after all of that was done, the DJ started playing-DJ Tank is his name. The students had a great time and most of them didn’t leave the dance floor until the night was over.”

BP: What would you say is the most exciting part about Senior Dinner Dance?

FE: “I think the students enjoy coming because I think it is enjoyable for them to be together as a class. Kind of, really, one of the first times they are together or have the opportunity to be together and enjoy a social event together. They do prom together, but that’s the juniors and the seniors. This event is not as formal as the prom. The attire is less formal. It’s just a nice Sunday dress. The guys dress in nice shirts and slacks, most of them wear ties, but it is not to the caliber of having to get all fixed up like prom. With dinner being served at the dance, it also takes away from the element of having to make reservations for dinner and make sure you can get a ride to prom on time. I think it is just a great opportunity for the students to be together, and get a little bit dressed up, but not too formal and enjoy having fun together for the evening.”

BP: Anything to add?

FE: “I just want to encourage the younger students, the freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, to talk to the seniors after the event and hear how much they enjoy it and look forward to the event. It is just a great opportunity for students, like I have said, to have this night together and I hope that it is a tradition that the students continue to embrace and want to have for years to come.”