Durant High School Journalism

Armwood High School students create English Language Learners Bill

The English Language Learners Bill is an effort by Armwood High School seniors to ensure equality between native and non-native English speakers when taking English Graduation Tests.

The English Language Learners Bill is an effort by Armwood High School seniors to ensure equality between native and non-native English speakers when taking English Graduation Tests.

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Two-term Florida Republican Representative Kevin Ambler originally began the county wide “Ought to Be A Law” competition to encourage students to propose bills to congress.  Fifteen years later, Kevin Ambler is out of office, but Armwood High School civics teacher, Tony Pirotta, and his students kept it going.

Senior Maria Medina noticed one of her fellow classmates, who transferred to Hillsborough County’s Armwood High School after moving from Cuba, struggling with English.  Her classmate was passing all her other classes with flying colors, except for English.  English Graduation Tests assume the test taker understands the language fluently.  The student has already completed the English Language Learner’s program (a program designed to teach non-native speakers English), but those classes, crammed into 4-7 years, cannot teach the entirety of the English language.  The fine-tuning that comes in high school level English classes can’t be understood by students who are still struggling to learn the complicated components of the English language.  Therefore, understanding English on the level they are expected to understand for English tests is nearly impossible-which is where Pirotta’s student’s bill comes in. 

House Bill 143/ Senate Bill 376, the most recent bills originating from Tony Pirotta’s civics club, “exempts certain English Language Learners from specified graduation requirement[s].”  In this case, the graduation requirement would be English Graduation Tests.  Both bills have been referred to their respective house’s “PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee” on September 23 and hope to be approved by July 1, 2020.

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, senior Haley Manigold says “We believe that every student deserves an equal opportunity.  If you take a test and you can’t understand it, then the test is not effectively showing what you know.” 

Similar bills have been introduced by Democratic Senator Annette Taddeo and Democratic Representative Cindy Polo (HB 1213/SB 1590).  These bills state that non-native English speakers should be able to take tests required for graduation in their native language. 

Many students have joined Pirotta’s it “Ought to Be A Law Club” to help their fellow classmates who are challenged by the English requirement.  Zachary Mills, a member of the club says, “I just want to be part of the group that makes things better.”

With the help of their teacher, the members of the club have communicated with Democratic Florida Representative Susan Valdes, who has assisted the students in getting the bill into its respective committee and onto the Senate and House floor.  The English Language Learners bill will increase graduation rates for non-native English-speaking students and will promote fair high school testing for students of all nationalities.  Haley Manigold and a few of her classmates hope to travel to Tallahassee to lobby the bill in Congress for the 2020 Legislative Session, which begins January 14.

About the Writer
Lilyann Belcher, Staff Writer

Lily Belcher is a sophomore at Durant High School and she is a Staff Writer for the PawPrint newspaper. She is also part of Durant’s Flag Football team,...

Reflecting on Self-Confidence

A commentary article by Marina Hawkins

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Astruggle throughout teenage hood is self-confidence. Self-confidence is someone’s thoughts and how they believe they are. Based on what we think of ourselves we can either push to succeed or hold back. Judging oneself can prevent taking chances and becoming shy around others in a work place, school or public place. Thinking too much on appearances in today’s world is hard to overcome. Most students in high school are putting too much pressure on themselves to be what people call “perfect.” This leads to an increase in lowered self-esteem and less motivation.

Shyness is what many people assume is going on with teenagers who have low self-confidence. When experiencing a doubt in self-confidence, many tend to put on a mask and hide it. With the doubt and judgement continuing inside, the one experiencing this is more likely to place themselves in the back of an environment, becoming unnoticed. Instead of seeking help or encouragement, choosing to never step out among a group to show who they are or what they are fully capable of performing. Their many skills or unique qualities that could benefit the community will go unknown with the doubt that occurs in them.

Self-image is the biggest question in confidence that people have, the question is, “do I fit in?” Concerns of  if they fit in with the “popular” crowd have people handling a heavy load of self-consciousness in how they act, what they wear, and the activities they take part in. Here is where peer pressure comes in: wanting to fit in is how many kids and adults get involved in dangerous or wrong situations.

Deciding what clothes to buy and what sports or extra activities to do is overwhelming, especially with the idea of wanting to fit in. How you dress is a big statement of who you are whether it is sporty or casual or anywhere in between. In today’s generation, people judge on how someone looks instead of taking the chance to get to know someone first before pushing them aside. That causes many issues, one being now kids and even adults make shopping for clothes a lot more stressful then it should be. Finding outfits they may not like but they think others will like more rather than getting clothes they are comfortable being themselves in and expressing their own style. With styles going in and out deciding what you like compared to what is “in” at the time is hard when their self-confidence is based on others.

High school being the biggest place where social status “matters,” kids are putting themselves down for not being something that they wish to be. Wishing to be like someone else however is caused by lack in self-confidence. Parents and friends may not always be able to see the doubt in their loved one, so encouragement is always important give off at any time. Hearing a few kind words from people around you even if you don’t know them can make their day just knowing someone appreciates them in some way. A simple compliment can make a smile appear over self-doubt to brighten someone’s day.

Being aware of a lack of self-confidence is just the beginning in this type of situation. Building up confidence is hard work but with help it can become easier. Staying with friends that you enjoy being around and that are appreciative and kind is great to be involved in. Talking to them about insecurities and issues that can occur can be a stress reliever knowing there are people there for you. It may not always be friends there for you but it could also be parents that you can discuss things with. If not, finding someone that you do feel comfortable enough to talk to and get help is an important step to take. Speaking with that someone will create a connection that will help confidence levels boost with love and support for the person by helping and giving encouragement.

Expressing your style is important to build self-confidence. When shopping they should get clothes they are comfortable in and that reflect their personality. Bringing out there expression of style can really say something about who they are. Showing off what you like can attract friends around you that enjoy some of the same things you do. Connecting over a way that you are yourself and having someone like you will boost your self-esteem knowing you are not alone. Being comfortable in who you are will show great improvement in gaining more confidence.

Working on your confidence is a hard task but doing all these things will help, stepping up to challenges and not hiding behind a wall built up by what you think people around you will think. Showing off what you like and who you are no matter what, stepping up to take a chance as well will all benefit and improve the lack of confidence. Proving who you are to people will show who you can become and could even help others around you that also struggle in self-confidence.

About the Writer
Photo of Marina Hawkins
Marina Hawkins, Social Media Coordinator, Photo Editor

Marina Hawkins is a junior at Durant and is the Photo Editor and the Social Media Coordinator for the PawPrint newspaper. She is also part of the Varsity...

How to prepare for senior year and college

Staff writer Meghan Dulay provides tips on how to maximize your high school experience.

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‘Tis the season of scheduling and programming for juniors and seniors. For many, this is among the most stressful part of the year; we are expected to know what classes we want, need and have to take. We are expected to plan out a whole school year of classes, and be prepared for the work load that comes along with that. Some know exactly what they are doing, which is great; it makes scheduling and planning a lot easier. Many, however, have no idea what they’re doing, which is okay too. Being a junior myself, I myself am experiencing all the same worries and fears everyone else might be too.

I’m sure the phrases “What’s the plan for college,” “What do you plan on majoring in,” “How are your grades,” “In order to even be considered by colleges you must have at least a 5000 SAT score,” and a plethora of others have been the topic of conversation of many family dinners and with guidance counselors. It’s scary and stressful, I know. Here is a little “how-to” guide with information and tips that may help you get through this stressful season, and help answer any lingering questions that may be hard to find answers to.

 

1. Continue to try your best in school.

As hard as it might be to stay focused and motivated to do well, try. School seems to get in the way of everything. Work, sports, hobbies, and of course our social lives are a huge part of our daily lives; often we put these things before trying to get an A on that pre-calculus test. If there’s one thing going to school has taught me most, is to develop self-discipline and the willing to persevere. Yes, it may seem pointless to learn about the Pythagorean Theorem, or “10-Steps to Tackling the Text,” or memorizing the periodic table of elements, or why the French and Indian war is important to American history, especially if you know you won’t be pursuing any career that involves those listed. However, it is important to learn as much as you can while education is FREE! Plus by taking as many classes as you can, you can figure out what you like and what you don’t. Just as someone once said: “Knowledge is power.”

 

2. Get involved in extracurricular activities at school.

I’m not just talking sports. There are about a hundred different clubs to get involved in, some you’ve probably never heard of. Juniors, before turning in programming sheets, look over all the clubs and electives available at Durant; you may be surprised at what you find. It’s also a good way to figure out where your interests lie.

 

3. Focus on self-care.

For many, this is among the most stressful season of the year. 8:30am-3:25pm is school, 3:45pm-5:30pm is soccer practice, 6pm-10pm, 10:30pm-1:00am is homework. Sound familiar? Whether or not you follow a routine similar to this or not, we all live busy lives; everything is go go GO! Remember that there a bigger purpose to everything you are doing. Remember your morals and what is important to you. On your way to school, listen to your favorite song. During lunch, eat a cookie. Before you go to bed, drink a glass of water. Live your best life, and never forget to take care of yourself.

 

4. College and scholarships.

For many, college is the next step- whether that’s next semester, or next year, or even years from now. College isn’t for everyone, but if it’s for you, and you could see it as a possibility for the future, the sky’s the limit. Starting in high school, there are many different things that can be done to get to college. Athletic scholarships aren’t the only scholarships out for grabs; there are many different academic scholarships available that you may consider looking into. The most popular of these is the Bright Future’s Scholarship. There are three categories that a student can achieve through the Bright Future’s scholarship: the 100 percent scholarship, the 75 percent scholarship, and the 50 percent scholarship. Each scholarship has different requirements, and depending on the requirements met depends on which scholarship a student qualifies for. Even if a student qualifies for only the 50 percent coverage of the scholarship, that would still make a big impact in the cost of college classes, covering a big portion of college tuition. For more information about the scholarship and requirements that need to be met to earn the scholarship, visit https://www.nationalmeritscholarships.com/florida-bright-futures-scholarship.html

 

5. Make the best of your situation.

Everyone has their fair share of problems, mistakes, and flaws. However, these things do not define who you are as a person. A little bit ago, I was at my brother’s basketball game, and after losing their championship game, his coach brought the team together for a talk to review the game they just played. The most impactful thing I heard him say to the team was: “Always put 100 percent in everything you’re doing. Not 60 percent, not 90 percent, but 100 percent.” Make 100 percent a habit, and never settle for less.

 

I sincerely hope everyone makes the best of their final years as a high school student. Eventually we will walk down the halls for the last time, close our lockers for the last time, have our last pep rally, and attend our last Friday night Football game. Everything is what you make it, so make it count!

About the Writer
Photo of Meghan Dulay
Meghan Dulay, Editor-in-Chief of Design

Meghan Dulay is a senior at Durant High School and she is Editor-in-Chief of Design for the PawPrint newspaper. Meghan is part of many other clubs at Durant,...

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