Goodbye

Before sophomore year, I thought that my only home was the one that I grew up in.

Upon my arrival to C103 I discovered that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Though at first it felt that I was in a room with people who had mental issues, (considering the shirt read “We have issues!”) C103 became my home away from home. I had a strong and supportive mentor and a room filled with phenomenal people. With the support of all these people, I began to grow.

I grew from the timid and shy sophomore who was scared to pitch, to contacting school principals, city mayors, Senators for stories. I broadened my horizon to everything around me. I just wasn’t doing something the grade anymore, but rather for a deeper purpose. I wanted to tell the story of other people. I wanted to tell the story of building principal who leaving Mason for her old school. I wanted to tell the story of 9/11 victims. I wanted to tell the story of kids who get kicked out of parks and public areas for skateboard. I wanted to tell the story of people who are so addicted to porn that is has a psychological impact on their brains. And I am blessed to have the opportunity to do all those things, except the last one…

The Chronicle wouldn’t be what it is without every person who is in C103, who has been in C103, and who will come to C103. Along the way, they all have left something behind. All these people have left their sweat, tears, long hours, and raging emails, and without it just wouldn’t be the same.

I will forever cherish the moment when I saw Jocelyn Senter open the Chronicle center spread and read a story about drugs and alcohol. That was the first time I was awed by the nature of the Chronicle. Though I had nothing to do with the production of that story, it truly felt like a team. 25 people who are in the same boat, who want nothing but the best for each other, and Jocelyn Senter was the shark out to get us. It truly was an us versus them mentality.

I will never forget coming in at 5 A.M to bag, because the paper was delivered later than when it usually was. That was the first time when The Chronicle felt not like work, but a family. A family that knew no bounds. You don’t do what you’re asked to do, but you go above and beyond.

I would like to thank Mr. Conner for a great three years. Though he made fun of me everyday for three years, he has a always been a pillar of support and a champion for all his students. I want to thank everyone both my peers and the seniors before me for taking under your wing and ensuring I succeed.

After three years, I’m not sad about leaving C103, because I always know that a part of me will forever be in C103 and I will have an attachment to The Chronicle.

 

Arts and Creativity getting lost in STEM

Mason High School is hard.

And as STEM becomes more prevalent, it only gets harder.

In this day and age, we are taught that STEM is the way to go. In fact, kindergartners are required to take STEM education. STEM doesn’t grow with the creative arts, but instead seeks to replace it. As a result of this, there is a mindset among many that if you are not good at math or science, you’re not smart.

But what many don’t understand is that in order to excel in STEM, it is imperative to have some exposure in creative arts. Much of physics and math is problem solving. It’s all about looking at the same thing in a different point of view, which is what art or writing teaches you to do.

Last year I took AP Biology. The class was rigorous, but I was glad I was involved in The Chronicle and took AP Language and Composition to view the context in a different angle. My involvement in the Chronicle and AP Comp helped me view the context in AP Bio not as 2 dimensional but brought it to life. I was able to visualize and thoroughly understand what I was learning. Students should not be forced to pick between STEM and creative arts, but rather nurture both simultaneously.

This will pave way for intelligent and well-rounded students.

Thank you Mr. Fox

Mr. Fox, a school aide, sent me an email regarding my column.  He wrote:
“Arnav,
I read your editorial this morning with great interest and great sadness.  I would like to offer a little historical perspective that comes after living more than six decades.
I was born in 1951 and grew up witnessing the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.  “Negroes” (who were often called much worse names) were treated as second class citizens in many areas of the country, both legally and illegally.  It took a long time to overcome the laws of the time.  Through the efforts of countless black and white people alike, laws and prejudices were slowly changed.

But unfortunately, prejudices are not limited to skin color.  Along with racial prejudices, there have been cultural and religious prejudices throughout history, in America as well as in many other countries – different Muslim sects warring with each other in the Middle East, Catholics and Protestants fighting one another in Ireland, Israelis and Palestinians feuding over the West Bank, etc.  The list goes on and on, ad nauseam.

Fortunately, we live in a country that is vastly more tolerant of racial, religious, and cultural differences than most other places in the world.  Yet, we still experience events like the one you mentioned in Texas.  I would venture to say that a lot of the misunderstanding that exists toward any culture and  faith and background stems from the actions of a very small percentage of extremists.
Thankfully, we are part of the Mason High School community that is even more tolerant than other places within our own country,  probably because we are culturally diverse and relatively well educated.  But we are far from perfect here, and it is morally and ethically imperative that we continually do what we can to overcome the fears and ignorance that lead to prejudice.
Finally, change comes slowly.  In my lifetime, I’ve seen a country come so far, but with a long way still to go.
Thank you for speaking out.  Don’t give up.  And please, do not ever lose hope.
Mr. Fox”
Mr. Fox,
Thank you so much for your eye opening advise. I am sorry for the injustices that you witnessed during those tying times. It is a pity to see human beings treat each other in such a manner.
As a Boy Scout, and an Eagle Scout, I have learned to always stand up for what I believe and to be brave in doing so. I was just doing that by writing my column. We as humans often witness injustices but are afraid to speak up against them. But it is the utter silence that infuriates the situation rather than silencing it. We often blame many for the actions of a few.  But as you said, we are so fortunate to live in a diverse community that is welcoming of everyone’s cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Nevertheless, we are not perfect. Even in Mason people are ignorant of others culture and prejudice spawns from this. But, this doesn’t give us the right to give up.
Thank you so much Mr. Fox for your endearing words. I admire and appreciate your unwavering support both for me and the Chronicle.
Arnav

Racial supremacy posions melting pot

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When 14-year-old and Muslim student Ahmed Mohamed went to school, he didn’t come home by bus.

Instead he was arrested by authorities. As Mohamed eagerly presented a homemade clock to his teacher, her reaction was far from anything Mohamed expected. Thinking that it was a bomb, she immediately notified school officials who proceeded to call authorities. He was then escorted out in handcuffs.

After authorities had established that the hoax bomb was indeed a clock, Mohammed was suspended.

The racial profiling of Mohamed wasn’t a rare occurrence. Time and time again, we let race become a factor on how we treat others. As a nation filled with diversity, it is our duty to pave the way for cultural tolerance and awareness. In America, diversity is not a weakness but a strength.

America is a land of immigration, a melting pot, a painted mosaic.  Our cultural differences ought to be valued and should be used it as a strength to unite, not as a weakness to divide. But when Mohamed was arrested, it didn’t represent these ideals. It only upheld racial supremacy.

Even after over 50 years, history still repeats itself.

On August 24, 1963 Emmett Till entered

a convenience store. He bought some bubblegum and when he walked out he said, “Bye, baby,” to the cashier.

Ryan Bryant, the cashier’s husband, and his brother-in-law, went to Till’s house a few days after. And they did the same thing what most white men living in Mississippi in 1963 would do. They dragged Till out, forced him to get in the car with him, and drove him to the banks of the Tallahatchie River. They then mutilated his body by gouging out his eyes, beating him with a barbwire fan, and shooting him.

After they had mangled him to their heart’s content, they threw him in the river to clean up their act.

Three days later authorities found his body, and the corpse could only be identified by the initialed ring on his hand. After convening for less than an hour, the jury miraculously issued the verdict, “Not guilty.”

In August 28, 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington, he said, “One day I hope that my four little children will not be judged for the color of their skin but for the content of their character.”

But even after 50 years later, what are we judging a person on: by the color of their skin or by the content of their character?

Tennis team overcomes tough loss, individuals advance to state

Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer

After earning a 18-0 record, the Mason girl’s tennis team was undefeated until it really counted: the state qualifying match. But despite this loss, four girls are still competing for the State Championship title, something their team wasn’t able to earn this year.

According to junior Lizzy Kong, the girls had a fantastic opportunity to compete at the State Tournament as a team, but the severe mental pressure hindered her from performing well.

“We all know that excuses will always be there for us,” Kong said. “Opportunity won’t. And this year we had a very strong opportunity to go to state. I knew we could beat Sycamore, I knew we were expected to go to state, I knew I was expected to win, but when the match was 2-2 and it all came down to me, I ended it (lost the match).”

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Lizzy Kong serving the ball in a scrimmage against her teammates. Photo by Staff Writer Blake Nissen.

Prior to the match, according to junior Sneha Kandi, the girls had a fantastic season. They beat some of the best teams in the state and won the Greater Miami Championship title, Kandi said.

“I think this has been one of the best seasons that the girls’ tennis team has even had,” Kandi said. “We won the Coaches Classic, the GMC’s, and we even had an undefeated season.”

The top doubles team for Mason during regular season consisted of Kandi and junior Isabel Cepeda while the top players were Kong and Amanda Huser who came back this season from being homeschooled the previous year to focus on tennis. When the team lost in the state qualifying match, Huser and Kong created the second doubles team to compete individually at the Sectional and District Tournaments. According to Kandi, even after their loss, the girls are still powering through.

“We did really well in sectionals considering that Lizzy Kong and Amanda Huser won the entire tournament and Isabel Cepeda and I were seeded fourth,” Kandi said. “We performed really well at districts. Lizzy and Amanda were District Champions. Isabel and I seeded third. We just hope to do well at state. ”

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Isabel Cepeda performing her serve in practice before districts. Photo by Blake Nissen.

After winning districts, both the doubles teams qualified for state on October 15. According to Cepeda the loss made them learn a lesson; it made the girls realize that just because Mason is the best, doesn’t mean they can’t be stopped.

“Our loss against Sycamore has definitely made the team stronger because it humbled us,” Cepeda said. “Before that match, I guess most of us assumed we were going to win since we’ve beat them twice before. After losing that match we all learned that just because we’re the number one team in the state doesn’t mean we’re unstoppable.”

According to Kong, the girls have recovered from their bitter loss against Sycamore and their minds are set clearer than ever on state.

“I am confident that we will do very well representing our district during state,” Kong said.“Hopefully we will at least make the final four at state. Of course everyone there is looking to win it; we hope to come out on top. After our heart wrenching loss that caused us to fall short of going to team state, we are ever so determined to win individually. Because now, while that loss was painful, it will not drag us down. Better starts now. Better starts now.”

Expression. Not Suppression.

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Mary Beth Tinker discusses the importance of student rights. 
“Religion and Expression. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America
Recently I had the opportunity to watch Mary Beth Tinker lecture. As a 13 year old girl, she never thought her name would be attached to a landmark Supreme Court Case of Tinker v. Des Moines
Born into a pastor’s family in Des Moines, Iowa in 1952, a decade when the tensions between blacks and whites continued to heighten, her family believed that religious ideals should be put into action. They tirelessly fought on behalf of the blacks living in their town. This selfless deed only reciprocated in the banishment of the entire family from town. From an early age, Tinker had been taught to remain sincere to her principles.
By 1965, 170,000 U.S. soldiers were stationed in Vietnam. Live footage flooded TV’s and publications of the first “televised war.” Appalled by deaths of many, Tinker and her friends decided to wear black arm bands to mourn for the lives lost on both sides.  On December 14, 1965 the principals of Warren Harding Junior High adopted a policy that made wearing armbands impermissible. Two days later, Mary Beth Tinker and her brother John, anxiously walked to school. A few hours after school started, she was sent to the principal’s office. 
Her stomach churned as she stepped into the Vice Principal’s office.   
He said, “Mary Beth, I’m surprised! What is a good student like you doing wearing that armband? Take it off.”
Tinker, scared of what would happen, instantaneously removed it.
He continued, “Well Mary Beth, since you wore it, you are suspended.” 
The next day, her brother John and all of her friends were suspended. With the help from an ACLU lawyer, Tinker took her case to court. Her case worked its way up the federal court system.  After a series of fierce school board meetings, encountering death threats, watching people yell “Communists!” and throw red paint at her house, the verdict had come out. 
On February 24, 1969, Mary Beth Tinker had won.
But the victory was really for all students. The Court ruled that the First Amendment applied to public schools, and school officials could not censor student speech unless it disrupted the educational process. Chief Justice Abe Fortas’ famous ruling, “Neither students or teachers “shed their Constitutional rights…at the schoolhouse gate,” establishes the rights of students in public schools for the first time.  
As a student journalist for The Chronicle, I realize the intrinsic value of this case. In a day and age where creativity flows among youth, students often feel discouraged to express that. It is cases like Tinker’s that spur others to step out of their bubble and take a stand for what they believe in instead of being suppressed. 
 Thank you Mary Beth Tinker. Thank you. 
Nick Seifert and the owner holding the rescued cat.

Nick Seifert and the owner holding the rescued cat

Eagle Scout is the ultimate pinnacle of Boy Scouts. The last rung of a long and arduous ladder. But this is not the end, but only the beginning of something so big; something so vast. The moment when you yourself realize your true potential and caliber.

Today as I was talking a walk in the blazing heat with Brian and Nick, a lady yelled towards us.

She yelled, “Would you boys like a chance to be good Samaritans?”

Puzzled by this question for a moment, we replied, “Yes of course!”

The task I had in my mind was something simple. But what she asked us to do was no simple task.

She frantically said, “My cat has been stuck in the sewer drainage for two nights. I don’t know how much longer she can go like this. The fire department couldn’t really do anything. Can you boys please help me?”

The answer to this question we didn’t have to think about. We grabbed the metal grate and lifted it. Nick quickly ran to his house to change into his swim trunks and came running back. Brian and I lowered Nick into the sewer and we handed him milk to lure the cat. After several minutes of sticking his head into the pipe and reaching out to the car as far as he could, Nick finally pulled the cat out and handed it to me. I grabbed a towel to hold her and gave it to the owner.

She was thankful beyond belief. The look in her eyes was indescribable. Her face was glowing and her smile exuberant. She asked us, “How do you all know each other?”

Brian replied, “We’re all Boy Scouts.”

She continued, “Are you all Eagles?”

I replied, “Of course.”

She then responded, “I knew I was in good hands.”

She offered Nick a reward and he kindly denied it. He didn’t want anything of  monetary value because that’s who he is. That’s who we are. We help people for the sole purpose of helping them. That’s what a Boy Scout is. That’s what being an Eagle has taught me.

An Act of Selflessness

McCarty-Stewart to resign for post at Wilmington High School

May 15, 2015
Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer
McCarty-Stewart

After faithfully serving Mason City Schools for 11 years and fulfilling the duties of the principal of William Mason High School for the past six years, Mindy McCarty-Stewart will resign her position to pursue a new challenge in her hometown as the principal of Wilmington High School.

According to McCarty-Stewart, she wasn’t looking for such a change but was approached with the opportunity. Though it is difficult to part away from Mason High School, she hopes to give back to her hometown and community and feels that is in the best interest of her family, McCarty-Stewart said.

“I was not looking for a change,” McCarty-Stewart said.  “In my hometown, in the school district I used to work for and where my family goes, I was contacted by the superintendent asking whether I would be interested in coming back and supporting them as their high school principal because the position just opened up. I gave it a lot of consideration, and it was very difficult, but in my heart, I felt it was good. And I thought it would be good for my family and an opportunity to help a school district I love and a community I love.”

Due to her resignation, Mason City Schools is scouting for a new principal to fill her shoes, McCarty-Stewart said.

“The leadership here has recently posted that the position is available,” McCarty-Stewart said. “It will be a very rigorous process in terms of selecting and interviewing the next Mason High School principal. That is not yet determined, but they are researching, and they are committed to finding the best fit to be the next high school principal here.”

According to McCarty-Stewart, Mason High School’s biggest success is itself. The ability to have a talented and wonderful student body who really care about each other is astounding, McCarty-Stewart said.

“There are so many individual student success stories, but I think as a building the largest success is the ability to have a wonderful high school with people that care a lot about each other (even in) the largest high school,” McCarty-Stewart said. “By placing staff in place that really care about the students, we have continued to grow in a positive direction through a rapid growth is a huge success.”

Throughout her years at MHS, the biggest change that she has witnessed is all the new additions, McCarty-Stewart said.

“The biggest change is adding new additions,” McCarty-Stewart said. “Specifically the building change. I was a big part of that. The Z pod and the additional cafeteria space, the partnership with Atrium, seeing that was kind of the physical changes I witnessed.  I was part of the growth, so I was fortunate to be part of hiring the staff. The advances in technology in and incorporating that (are another change). We and the teachers have worked hard to provide (courses), like the integrated media course, Computer Programming, CAD (Computer Aided Design), and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing).”

According to McCarty-Stewart, she hopes her biggest impact on Mason High School is her kindness and compassion for people. She feels like her leadership style has motivated the staff and allowed them to flourish and express their creativity, McCarty-Stewart said.

“I would hope that the impact I have left on Mason High School is just my true compassion for people,” McCarty-Stewart said.  “I have worked hard to do my best to give a personal touch and support the staff here, empowering their leadership because they are so talented; they are so creative and such great experts in their field. Hopefully, I have established a leadership style that has helped them flourish, and I have such a deep respect to the partnership with parents and the engagement we have with our parents.”

According to McCarty-Stewart, her biggest regret is not getting to know each and every student in MHS.

“My only biggest regret is that it is hard to get to know each individual student,” McCarty-Stewart said. “All 3,400 of you (students). Certainly, it has been a joy watching each student come through Mason High School.”

As she moves onto Wilmington High School, she will miss all the little things that make up the culture of Mason High School, McCarty-Stewart said.

“I will absolutely miss the interactions; I will miss the little things when the band walks through the hallways and plays the fight song,” McCarty-Stewart said. “I will miss the Black Hole and cheering each other on and the level of support that students make and the leadership in student government. The list goes on. All these things will be hard to walk away from.”

May 15, 2015
Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer

Crooked Tree Gas Station Debate

Crooked Tree gas station sparks debate among residents.

Get off my lawn.

For the past several years, the proposal for the construction of a gas station has been an ongoing battle between the residents of Crooked Tree and the Mason City Council. Residents have come together and protested construction of a Shell gas station on the roundabout at the intersection of Mason-Montgomery and Bethany Road.

According to Crooked Tree resident Scott Stevens, the residents in this area have spoken to the city council and county court to protest.

“When it went before City Council in 2011, the entire neighborhood protested this and lost,” Stevens said. “The City Council favored the developer. It has already been approved and there is nothing else we can do.”

According to City Planner Brian Lazor, the gas station will actually serve the community better.

“The developer did a marketing study and it showed that area was underserved,” Lazor said. “The gas station will provide the residents in the area shopping option. There will also be a convenience store.”

Though the gas station is approved, it doesn’t follow the stipulated ordinances according to the City of Mason, Stevens said. According to Stevens, he knew that the zone was a commercial zone, but never expected a gas station.

“I knew that when I built my house in 2002, that there would be a business in the area,” Stevens said. “There is an ordinance stating that gas trucks aren’t allowed to travel on any routes in the City except for Route 741 or Route 42. This gas station is not on either of the routes. We always knew that a light business like a dry cleaner’s, or a doctor’s office would go there, but never a gas station.”

Gas station debate

Fiddler on the Roof Debuts Tonight

April 23, 2015
Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer
Fiddler on the Roof

Rather than fiddling away the past two months, the Mason High School drama club has been working hard on its latest production, Fiddler on the Roof. The play premieres tonight, Thursday, April 23, and according to Drama Club advisor Allen Young, it was specifically chosen because of its theme of cultural identity and its outstanding literary crafting.

“There are a lot of considerations that go into picking our season,” Young said. “The play is about tradition and pride in your culture. That is a theme for the ages. The play is exceptionally well written. You really can’t say that about a lot of musicals. A lot of musicals are thrown together. They might have good music or they might have good dancing, but Fiddler on the Roof really works together as a piece of literature and a piece of theater. There are great songs that everyone knows. That combined with the story, and the thematic materials really makes an exceptional show.”

According to senior Ryley Arnold, the play’s lead, Fiddler on the Roof is about a Jewish family living in Russia during the time of the Russian revolution. The play is about Tevye and how he adapts and evolves to the changing norms of his culture.

“I play Tevye,” Arnold said. “The play is about a man named Tevye living in an orthodox Jewish town in 1908. Tevye’s daughters are growing up and falling in love with a man. However, according to him, they aren’t going about it the right way. During the course of the play, Tevye has to deal with break(ing) traditions and how to evolve as a person beyond how he has been told to be and how he has told to feel.”

The audience, both young and old, can connect with this play, Arnold said.

“It’s the 50th anniversary of Fiddler,” Arnold said.  “I know that a lot of parents and grandparents, that have seen Fiddler before, are excited to see it.  For our generations, many teenagers can connect to the topic of social acceptance discussed in the play. “

According to senior and assistant director Katey Jo Henry, the cast has put much work and effort toward the production of the play, and it’s a very rewarding experience. There are even difficult dances and songs on which the cast has done a good job, Henry said.

“We have had rehearsal every day for the past two months,” Henry said.  “The cast has put in a lot of work with dancing, learning lines and singing. The dances are pretty strenuous for some of the guys. Our actors did a really good job modernizing the show. I enjoy being able to work really hard on something and watch it come together.”