Blue Jay Student News

Edition 1

03/09/17

Should We Have an Electoral College?

File:US Flag Backlit.jpg   Photo courtesy of Flickr

by Addison Vallier

*Make sure to read the whole article for a chance to win a prize & a feature in the next issue!

What is the electoral college, anyway?

Right now, the electoral college is a controversial subject. This system has changed the course of our election and our nation’s future several times. Including, but not limited to, the elections of John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush, and most recently, Donald J. Trump. It was championed by the founding fathers, including Alexander Hamilton, who is currently being spotlighted in the musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda. So, what is the electoral college anyway? The electoral college has long been a staple of American democracy. It was founded because the original direct democracy of Athens, Greece, didn’t work. But is it right? For those who don’t know, the electoral college system works like this: there is an electoral college, or assembly, composed of 538 electors. On election day, the average American citizen votes for which presidential candidate will receive the vote of their state’s electors. Or as the New York Times puts it, “As voters head to the polls on Tuesday, they will not vote for the presidential candidates directly, in a popular vote. Instead, they will vote to elect specific people, known as ‘electors’ to the college. Each state gets a certain number of electoral votes based on its population.”

To say it more simply, the renowned newspaper states “ And on Election Day, we’re electing the electors who elect the president. Got it?” Whether or not we should have an electoral college is certainly a controversial subject. Especially after the recent election season, when Democractic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton won the popular vote by over 1.1 million votes, but Republican candidate Donald J. Trump won the electoral vote & the presidency. Some are calling for a major change in government. So, what are the pros & cons of electoral college? Should we even have one at all?

The Pros of the Electoral College

America’s founding fathers wouldn’t have created the electoral college for no reason. According to ProCon.Com, the Founding Fathers made this system to balance the vote. The current system allows America’s citizens to have a say, while at the same time, saving the populace from “tyranny of the majority.” “Tyranny of the majority” is when the voice of the majority of the population drowns out minority interests. The electoral college prevents this from happening. Also, the electoral college ensures that every region of the nation gets a say in the vote.

If there was only popular vote, then candidates could pander only to heavily-populated areas to try & win their trust. Says ProCon.Com,“Without the electoral college, groups such as Iowa farmers and Ohio factory workers would be ignored in favor of pandering to metropolitan areas with higher population densities, leaving rural areas and small towns marginalized.” This would mean not all citizens would truly get a say in the future of our country.

        Finally, the electoral college provides certainty to who will become the president. Candidates can tie for the popular vote, but the electoral college will almost always make it clear who will gain Executive Command of our United States.

And for those who love popular culture, here’s a tidbit; Alexander Hamilton was a champion of the elector college system and one of its founders.

The Cons of Electoral College

One of the biggest cons to electoral college is simple: the reasons for which the founding fathers created this system are no longer relevant. As Mr. Alexander Hamilton saw in 1788, “(The electoral college is) free from any sinister bias.” However, nowadays electors are selected by political parties and expected to vote along party lines regardless of their personal beliefs. Besides, the Constitution has been amended several times, giving women & slaves the right to vote and allowing Senators to be elected via popular vote instead of electoral college.

The electoral college can give too much power to swing states like Indiana, California, Florida, Ohio and so on. Because of the electoral college system, candidates only need to pay attention to a limited number of states; the states that can swing one way or the other, red or blue. According to PBS NewsHour, 2016’s presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, made 90% of their campaign stops in only 11 states: the so-called Battleground States. Nearly ⅔ of those visits took place in the 4 Battleground States with the most electoral votes-Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina.

Finally, the electoral college ignores the people’s will. Despite having fewer supporters than his opponent, Donald J. Trump is now president of the United States. As has happened before, a candidate can win the popular vote but not the electoral one, leaving the American people angered and dissatisfied with the woman or man in office.

What do you think?

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what you think. Should there be an electoral college? Email aval2359@student.lps53.org your opinion and why for a chance to be featured in the next issue & win a secret prize. It’s important for us to be educated in our opinions as American citizens. Be prepared to defend your beliefs with real evidence, but be kind with it. Thank you.

Staff for Edition One

BJSN is entirely student-driven and created. Our writing staff is composed of LMS students alone.

Addison Vallier: Editor-in-chief & Founder

Kennedy Graham: Head of Advertising & Marketing

Dylan James: Reporter & Writer

Scarlett Clark: Short Story Writer

Grace Fisher: Reviewer

Thank you for reading Blue Jay Student News!

This edition’s table of contents:

Should We Have an Electoral College?...0

Letter from the Editor...5

Book Review: Cinder, by Marissa Meyer...6

The Sound of Music A Smashing Success...7

Sisters: A Short Story...10

The Girl in the Storm: A Short Story...13

Do Video Games Help You?...15
You Are What You Eat...16

BJSN Featured Student...19

Advertisements & Upcoming Events...19

Thank You!...20

Letter from the Editor: Welcome, BJSN!

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Blue Jay Student News! Blue Jay Student News is YOUR source for news from LMS & beyond. We are student-driven, student-founded, and student-written. We will be producing new, informative, entertaining issues every 3-4 weeks or so. BJSN has current events, upcoming LMS events, short stories, book reviews, and more, so there’s something for everyone!

Don’t miss out! If you’re interested in getting every new edition of BJSN delivered straight to your inbox, please fill out this survey to register for the BJSN mailing list. We will NOT spam your inbox; we only come out with a new issue every 3-4 weeks and so you will not be receiving many emails from us! The only emails you get are the ones that matter!

I’m really excited about the pieces in this issue. This edition showcases the talent of our students at LMS. So, go on, what are you doing here? Go ahead and read the 1st edition of Blue Jay Student News!

The Bookworm Tunnel Reviews

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

Review by Grace Fisher

*****

cinder.png

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is an incredible science fiction book that will capture the attention of many young adults. Marissa Meyer brings the characters to life in a way that cannot be explained. Cinder is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles; followed by Scarlet, Cress, Winter, Fairest, and Stars Above. Each of the books takes the life a familiar fairytale character, and gives readers a new idea about their story.

Cinder is set in Japan, many years in the future. The country is threatened by a horrible plague, that has taken the lives of thousands. To make matter worse the Lunars are on the verge of war with earth.

Meanwhile, 16-year-old cyborg Linh Cinder is working as a mechanic to make a little extra money for her step-mother. Through a wild sequence of events Cinder ends up as a test subject for Dr. Erland, the royal doctor. Cinder has also become very close to Prince Kai, a charming and kind young man who is charged with more responsibilities than he could ever imagine. What the doctor discovers about Cinder changes her life forever along with many other things. Can Cinder overcome these new burdens? Can Prince Kai save his kingdom from total destruction? Will the lunars threaten the earth with their magic? Find out in Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

The Sound of Music A Smashing Success

Original productions[edit]

“The hills are alive…” sings Regan Mills, 8th grade student at LMS, “ with the sound of music.” Mills has gained the coveted role of Maria Rainer in LMS’ spring musical-The Sound of Music. This beloved musical tells the story of the Von Trapp family, as Maria teaches them to sing and they grow to love music. It also tells a lesser-known story; the story of Nazi-occupied Austria. The family eventually must flee from their country of Austria into the peacetime Switzerland. The Sound of Music is an adored classic, with iconic songs such as My Favorite Things, Edelweiss, Climb Every Mountain, So Long Farewell,  and of course, The Sound of Music itself.

Even though the Sound of Music is an old and well-known classic, LMS students, both cast and crew, are working hard to bring it new life. BJSN Editor Addison Vallier is crew chief of costume crew and recently went to the show’s “Costume Parade” rehearsal. “The costume parade is really cool because it’s when the cast gets to try on their costumes for the first time,” she says, “the show is difficult because there are so many costume changes but I know we can do it. It’s an amazing show, with an amazing cast, and I think it’s going to be great.”

Last night’s rehearsal was a busy night that showed just how hard these theater kids work every day. At last night’s rehearsal, the cast ran the full show, performing for an audience of five: the Stage Director and LMS Theater Teacher Mrs. Christine Gregoire; the LMS choir teacher Mr. Dan Rasmussen; 2 high school assistants; and BJSN Editor Addison Vallier. The show ran from top to bottom; from the beginning, where the nuns of the abbey sang a chilling prayer, to the end, a beautifully open ending. No, I won’t spoil! This show is a testament to their commitment and dedication. After running the show, Mrs. Gregoire gave notes, as she always does at the end of rehearsals. She complemented Madeline Belcher, 6th grade, who plays Marta Von Trapp, on her facial expressions at the end of So Long, Farewell, as well as the boys who play the Nazis for their voices during the chase scene. But not all was perfect. The cast worked on blocking, or stage positions, to get their choreography just right. “Von Trapp kids, I need to see more faces,” Gregoire said. The cast members who play the Von Trapp kids promised to work on facial expressions at the next rehearsal. With every note, there was a promise to improve, showcasing the cast’s ability to take constructive criticism and grow from it.

I recently spoke with a few cast & crew members of the Sound of Music.

“It’s a really inspiring story about this family who runs away from Nazi Austria during WW2,” says Dylan James, who plays a Nazi/Townsperson in this year’s musical. About working with Mrs. Gregoire, he says, “Sometimes she can be really tough, but if you think about it, it’s just her trying to get us to work together better as a group. She’s really fun and nice.” Grace Fisher, who plays a nun, says, “Being in the musical has been a great experience because I’ve gotten to know a lot of amazing theater kids and I think the show is going to be amazing. I’ve also learned a lot about how to put on a good show.” Chloe Morgan, who plays a townsperson, sums it up for me. “We’ve all worked really hard in the musical and we’re excited to put on the show for each other.” Indeed! The cast has rehearsed for at least 2 hours every day after school since December and all the hard work has paid off. They even stayed until 9 one Friday night for the long-anticipated late rehearsal. The cast ran the show twice and prepared for teaser day.

        In summary, the cast & crew of the Sound of Music have worked extremely hard to put together an amazing show for LMS. The Sound of Music is a classic tale that our awesome LMS actors are bringing new life.

The Sound of Music was a smashing success, with many audience members commenting that it “didn’t look at all like a middle school show.” The Saturday show even sold out. Thanks, Mrs. Gregoire, Mr. Lean, Mr. Erickson, Mrs. Willis, Mr. R. and of course the cast and crew for an amazing spring musical!

 Blue Jay Story Corner

Sisters, Part One

A Short Story by Scarlett Clark

Jackie remembered.  She didn't want to remember, but she did.  She tried many times to get the image out of her head.  That man.  He entered the house like he owned it, and broke mom’s precious china.  He broke the china, and the wine bottles and the snowglobe.  He broke the snowglobe dad had given Jackie before he left.  He left and went to Iraq.  He didn't come back.

A tear rolled down Jackie’s cheek.  She didn't wipe it away like the others.  It rolled off her chin and hit her hoodie.  Jackie brought her knees down from her chest and lifted her head up.  She stared into the mirror.  She didn't like what she saw.  She saw a girl.  A girl in ugly clothes, messy hair and mascara streaks down her cheeks.  She jumped off her bed, in a hurry to look away from the mirror.  Jackie unlocked her bedroom door and stared at it, like it might jump out at her any second.  She wiped her face with her sleeve and opened the door.  The smell of brownies filled the air.  Jackie’s mom made the best brownies.

Amy was Jackie’s mom.  Amy loved her daughter more than anything else in the world.  Since her husband, Derek, died, 3 years before, Amy could tell that Jackie was in some sort of dark place.  When they had moved to a house in the city, Amy thought that Jackie seemed happier.  Then one night, when Amy worked late, they were robbed.  Jackie was home alone.  She didn't have a cell phone yet, and the land line had been cut.  Amy never forgave herself for not being there that night.  Jackie was traumatized.  The only thing her father had left her was broken.  It was gone in the blink of an eye.  Jackie kept to herself a lot.  Amy tried to get her to come out of her room and do things, but she always made up a different excuse.  Jackie didn't have any friends.  She was quiet and shy.  She doodled on everything and often found herself daydreaming.  That was Jackie’s happy place.

The best food was homemade by Amy.  That’s what Jackie always thought.  She sat down in the living room, in front of the coffee table just like she always did at six o'clock.  Amy brought in three big bowls and placed them in front of Jackie.  Amy left and came back with two plates and two forks.  Jackie scooped green beans, macaroni and cheese and chicken salad onto her plate.

“How was your day, Jackie?”  Amy asked, looking away from the TV.

“Fine,” Jackie replied, focusing on the color scheme of house the Property Brothers were remodeling.

“Anything new?  Any tests coming up?”

“Nope.”

“OK.”

Amy and Jackie finished their dinner in silence.  Jackie cleared her plate and went back to her room.  She locked the door behind her.  Jackie pulled out her journal.  Jackie was never good at using her words to describe her feelings, but she could draw them.  Jackie drew everything.  She drew people, animals, places, anything.  Often times, she drew her family.  Before Iraq.  Jackie drew herself standing next to her mom, dad and dog, Bear.  These drawings made Jackie cry a lot.

Jackie cried about a lot of things.  She cried about the amount of information she endured in school.  She cried about how hard her single mother worked to make her happy.  She cried because her mom worked so hard to make Jackie happy, but Jackie thought she could never be happy again.  Mostly, Jackie cried about the memories.  The memory of saying goodbye to her father.  The memory of hiding in the closet, as that man smashed the china and the snowglobe.  The snowglobe.  The only thing Jackie had left of her dad.

The Girl in the Storm, Part One

a short story by Addison Vallier

The air was flat and grey, slashed through with rain. A sea the color of slate toiled and churned. Pine trees lurched violently in the bitter wind. And in the middle of it all was a girl. Just a girl.

        She was a lonely, little girl. A battered teddy bear hung from her hand. Its fur was flooded. When she held it for warmth, all she got was a drench of icy cold.

        There was no one left to comfort her.

No one to hold her when the lightning struck or the thunder boomed. No one to save her from her forever wandering. There was no one.

        You see, little girls aren’t meant to be alone, in a storm. When the rain strikes the windowpane and the lightning flashes white, they stay inside. In the cozy warm comfort of a home, of a mother’s arms. The girl in the storm had none of that.

        She had lost it and couldn’t find it, no matter how far she searched.

The girl came across a field. It was a dull, yellow field, one made of soft, long swaying grass. The grass tickled her kneecaps as she waded through. She was small. Small enough for grass to drown her if it reached high enough. Small enough to clutch at a teddy bear with dripping, matted fur. Small enough to cry even when she knew she shouldn’t. Her legs were tired and her arms were cold. But she kept going, trudging painfully through the icy mud of the field. There was a barn, in the distance. She needed shelter. Here was a goal to reach, here was something to work for. Everything was dull now. A flattened, yellowing old photograph. She wanted to stop, to turn back. Tears pooled like raindrops in her eyes. “ I can’t turn back,” she whispered, “ I have to find home. There might still be somebody waiting for me.” The girl in the storm still clung to a dying hope. The hope that a family, living and breathing and hearts beating, would be waiting for her at home. Even though she’d seen them swept away to sea, even though she’d tried in vain to swim to reach them.

The sea had swept her

        away too.

It brought her to a land of no forgiveness.

        It carried her to the other side of the shore, farthest from home.

                        She fought to breathe.

She gripped her bear, her last remnant of the life she had

        before the storm.

Swimming lessons paid off, after all. Didn’t they?

        They were the difference between a girl’s life and death.

Then again, with her family gone,

        would it have been better if the sea had swept her under

instead of away?

More News from BJSN

Do Video Games Help You?

Video Games! Video games are not simply a waste of your free time.  Thanks to constant studies of the effect of video games on your brain, scientists have learned video games do not actually rot your brain, despite what your mother may tell you. According to The University of Toronto, video games increase sensorimotor skills and hand-eye coordination.  Video games could in fact be used to help with those who have trouble with sensorimotor skills and hand-eye coordination.  Now you could say that gaming could lead to obesity, or poor social skills (because a portion of the community uses aggressive language), even no real world social activities.  All of the points above are real and valid points but, there are also pros to video games, such as team skills, creativity, strategic thinking, tactical thinking, thinking under pressure, and spacial awareness.  Many people have gone on to say that they learn all about culture through online interactions in video games.  The gaming community also considers many games as fun.  Video games are a legitimate career choice for many.  To go on some gamers even learn history through games they find fun and exciting. So what do you think about video games? Can they help you? Are they worth your time? Fill out this survey for a chance to be featured in the next issue. 

 You Are What You Eat

BLUE JAY STUDENT NEWS LIST OF THE MONTH


        Everyone says “You are what you eat.” If that’s true, then you’ll want to be one of these: the top three superfoods to help you stay healthy. Middle schoolers aren’t always fit and active. Sometimes we don’t eat the way we should.

SOURCES: The 10 Healthiest Foods, Fitness.com; Superfoods You Should Eat Everyday, Eat This Not That

* This list is in no particular order.

  1. Lemons

lemons cut half of lemon ...

Just one lemon contains more than 100 percent of your daily Vitamin C intake! Vitamin C strengthens bones and increases the levels of good cholesterol. Also, the citrus found in lemons can help stop cancer cells from growing and act as an anti-inflammatory. So pucker up!

2. Blueberries

Blueberries, Fruit, Bowl ...

Blueberries have long been known as a superfood, and are often called brain berries for their ability to help prevent memory loss. Blueberries can also help prevent cancer, diabetes with their antioxidants. They are also rich in fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and boost cardiovascular health. Wow! Better eat your blueberries!

3. Broccoli

Broccoli, Vegetables, Seiyu ...

Yes, what everyone says is true-broccoli is good for you. And if you actually try it, you might like it! Personally, I think broccoli is delicious. It’s also nutritious. One medium stalk of broccoli contains more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin K intake and almost 200 percent of your recommended Vitamin C. These vitamins help build and strengthen your bones. The same serving helps fend away numerous cancers. Stay healthy and eat your broccoli.

BJSN Featured Student

BJSN Featured Student is a column to come in our newest issue! Nominate a student here that is doing good in our school community. We will interview the chosen nominee and feature them in our next issue! Thank you!

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