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Alternative Spring Break

By: Shelby Salisbury

Spring break presents a time for going to the beach, visiting family, and travelling to another state in the U.S., but not everyone spends spring break on American soil. Some people travel internationally. Several students from AFHS prepare for their unique spring break travels.

One of the major trips relates to the French exchange students. Some of the students who have taken French take the opportunity to travel to France and live with a host family. The trip creates a special chance to learn more about the culture in France and learn about the French language. Students find a great opportunity for a foreign adventure. Along with fun comes an academic gain as well; the trip creates a great learning environment with tons of friends.

Some students from AFHS will also be travelling to Iceland: an island in the Atlantic Ocean that has cold weather for days. A small group of students get the chance to explore the country with Ms. Rundhammer. On the trip they will get to sight-see and hike through the country. The trip advances opportunities for learning about the country of Iceland and creating a project based on the experiences of the trip.

Alison Polito (11)
Alison Polito (11)

French Exchange

"[I'm looking forward to] going to Paris, and just going to the school in France. Just seeing what they do in France and how they go to class and view how it's different. I feel it will be like a cultural shock just seeing how different it is. I feel that it would be really cool seeing how it is in France."

Addison Inman (9)
Addison Inman (9)

"I just like going to new places and stuff, cause I don't get to travel like outside that much. I heard it is really pretty so the activities and stuff."

Ashleigh Sico (10)
Ashleigh Sico (10)

French Exchange

"I look forward to spending time with my French student and to really learning about French Culture and going to the French schools. [I look forward to] seeing the differences between France and America."

Local newspapers like The Daily Tar Heel  may be in danger.
Local newspapers like The Daily Tar Heel may be in danger.

Is the Patriot Press in Danger?

By: Daniela Paris

                 Widely accepted as the first continuously published newspaper in British North America, the Boston News-Letter published its first issue on April 24, 1704. Three hundred fifteen years later, the journalism industry has spread to thousands of daily newspapers, hundreds of local TV channels, and dozens of mass media conglomerates that operate across magazines, papers, internet sites, and social media to disseminate the news. With these sources, citizens across the United States have received information they can trust from credible sources for years. However, journalism faces a pressing problem: with readership moving from print to online, how do they adjust to the demand of free, twenty-four hour news without a drop in quality?

Journalism today faces many problems, from the abstract fear that media today moves continuously towards biased reporting, to the more pressing issue of how to sell ad space online. Biased reporting, or as President Donald Trump calls it, "Fake News", presents the first problem. The phrase entered the public view in 2016 with the Trump presidential campaign, during which the campaigner (and future president) repeatedly bashed the media for allegedly spreading this fake news. In one instance, he called the press an "enemy of the people", according to the The Atlantic. This casual name calling, while seemingly harmless at first, may spell out a threat to journalism's credibility. In an article titled "Not Praising Trump is Fake News" from The Washington Post, journalist Erik Wempie argues that in calling media sources that don't agree with him "fake news", Trump threatens the fabric of trust between the public and media organizations, and threatens the very obligation that those media organizations have to honest criticism.

A second threat to journalism, more pressing to AFHS's own Patriot Press, and local college newspapers like The Daily Tar Heel, can be found in the cost of print media versus online media. According to Vox, "Older Americans are newspapers' most loyal readers, while people born after 1980 largely don't subscribe to newspapers. So each year, a few million newspaper readers die and are not replaced by new readers." Today's readers have overwhelmingly flocked to the internet for their source of news. And why not? Why pay for an outdated, daily newspaper when any news of interest can be obtained in seconds online? The problem, of course, involves newspaper revenue. Online news sites, most of which don't put up paywalls, don't receive nearly as much profit as newspapers did when in full swing. Ads online make up for some, but not enough, of the profit lost from daily newspaper editions. Yet, the public expects the media to keep up with a constant news cycle, with less money to pay reporters.

Without newspapers and news organizations to disseminate the news, democracy becomes endangered. According to the American Press Institute, journalism provides citizens with "the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments". Even the famous Washington Post concurs with this line of thought: the newspaper's motto, "democracy dies in darkness," resides in a prominent spot on their website. It means that without the spread of credible information that journalism provides, citizens cannot remain informed and make educated decisions when voting, and democracy "dies".

With the problems journalism faces, it comes to no surprise that hundreds of newspapers have had to shut down. Newspaperownership.com keeps a list of daily papers that have recently merged, closed down, or shifted to weeklies. The list, started in 2004, includes hundreds of entries, including the Tampa Tribune (closed), the Daily Review (merged), and the New York Sun (closed).

At Apex Friendship, The Patriot Press struggles to continue its print edition. Ads, hard to come by, largely pay for the bi-monthly paper's editions. In addition, the paper has had to cut its production per issue from 100 copies to 75 copies to keep up with the rising prices of print shops. The paper also maintains a website, patriotpress.webnode.com. However Mrs. Briggs, the newspaper teacher, expressed optimism: "I don't think journalism is going to cease to exist, it'll just exist in a new form," she said. For now, the print edition of The Patriot Press remains safe, despite looming threats in the future.


How Students See STAR Lunch

By: Daniela Paris

From students not using time wisely to vandalizing the bathrooms, Apex Friendship's faculty has come forward with a sizable number of concerns surrounding the school's lunch schedule, STAR lunch. Mr. Wight and the school's staff have put together some possible solutions, but what does the school as a whole have to say about what happens during STAR Lunch?

Abby Russell (12)
Abby Russell (12)

 "My sister's coming here next year, so even though I won't be here myself, I still care. For me, I don't think I've had lunch in the cafeteria since my freshman year; not only is it easier for me and my friends to eat lunch in a teacher's classroom, it's really helpful to be able to stay in the classroom both halves to work on that stuff. Hypothetically, if it were possible to figure out who it was that was doing [the vandalism], they could strip them of STAR lunch because they're the ones that are not respecting it, but I know that's easier said than done."

Logan Stocks (11)
Logan Stocks (11)

 "It's a place where I can hang out with friends, and I get all my homework done that I may not have had time to do because I do sports...[They should make it] more of you have to get to a class, rather than walking around, and that kind of leads to the vandalism that you're talking about."

Amena Matcheswala (9)
Amena Matcheswala (9)

"I think lunch is a super social time. For a solution, just having more areas for kids to go and hangout. A lot of times when I want a quiet place to go I go to the library, and it's packed, and a lot of those people aren't working. So if they had a lot of focused areas like specifically for kids who want to work."

George Waller (10)
George Waller (10)

 "I think [STAR lunch] is a good concept. A solution could be harsher punishments. Take away STAR lunch from kids who aren't using it correctly. You know, tell the teachers of those kids in second period to escort those kids to detention if they're not going, or something like that."

Visit this portrait of Michelle Obama at Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.
Visit this portrait of Michelle Obama at Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

Wonderful Women

By: Sam Carnes

                 The month of March marks National Women's Month; established in 1987, March honors women and contributions made towards women. Many remarkable women have contributed thoroughly to history, especially in the advancement of civil rights.

Born in 1964, Senator Kamala Harris became the second African-American woman and the first South Asian American to be elected into the United States Senate, according to biography.com. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, she announced her candidacy for the upcoming presidential race in 2020, which will remain in history forever. She began her political career back in 2010, when she emerged as the state attorney general for California.

Constance Wu, an award winning actress, can be recognized as an activist for Asian-American representation in Hollywood. Best known for her role in Crazy Rich Asians, the first major Hollywood film in 25 years with an all Asian cast, Wu has never been hesitant to speak up for what she believes in. She spoke against the decision to cast Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell back in 2017 when the character had originally been Japanese.

Jameela Jamil, born in Britain to Pakistani parents, portrays the character Tahani Al-Jamil on The Good Place. As well as being an actress, she also models and participates in activism. She joined a campaign with Aerie, a brand by American Eagle, that centers around body positivity and includes women of color, plus sized women, and women with disabilities.

Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, lawyer, Chicago city administrator and community worker, advocated for many issues. She encouraged national service, helped women balance career and family, and supported military families according to biography.com. During her days at the White House, she volunteered at shelters and soup kitchens, as well as appearing in schools, where she encouraged and advocated education.

All of these women have advocated for what they believe in and have changed the world with their remarkable actions and minds.


Have We Outgrown STAR Lunch?

By: Daniela Paris

                  Most students at AFHS love one aspect in particular about the school: STAR lunch. Ever since opening year, the school-wide 55 minute lunch period, divided into two sections, has given students time to eat lunch, socialize, attend clubs or receive tutoring. Last year marked Apex Friendship's first year at full capacity, and with that came many new challenges: navigating crowded hallways and fighting for a seat in the cafeteria, among other issues. Next year, the school will grow to over 2600 students. The sheer size of next year's student body presents a question to the AFHS staff: has Apex Friendship outgrown STAR lunch?

According to Mr. Wight, a similar system called SMART Lunch began to see success at Panther Creek High School. New teachers at AFHS brought over the system, changing its name to STAR lunch as an acronym for Service, Teamwork, Achievement, and Relationships, and the new system has remained in place ever since.

With the school already at full capacity, problems have arisen. As stated by Mr. Wight, "My concern with STAR lunch is two-fold: number 1, it's what kids are doing, number 2, it's what kids are not doing." He detailed an account of what some students do during STAR lunch. Sinks torn off walls, trash cans dumped in toilets, vandalism in the bathrooms: all occur during the 55 minute lunch period. More importantly, staff has noticed students not partaking in STAR lunch. Many sit in the halls with their friends, rather than making good use of time by attending clubs or receiving help from teachers.

Currently, the school improvement team reviews possible solutions for lunch scheduling. Many possibilities exist, namely, making a few tweaks to the current schedule or losing STAR lunch.

One such solution, already in place at GHHS in Wake County, involves adding 30 minutes of mandatory "enrichment" time to a different period every day, making lunch shorter. These thirty extra minutes four out of five days a week would serve as time for students to receive tutoring, attend clubs, or ask teachers questions. Lunch would remain a 45 minute time period for students to solely eat and be social. Under this "Flex Lunch", either Friday or Monday would remain similar to a school day now, with a regular-length lunch.

Another solution would be to create two lunch periods of a shorter length. In contrast to AFHS's lunch schedule now, students would not be able to use both lunches. The scheduling system would assign students one 42 minute lunch, depending on their second or third period class, similar to the structured STAR lunch our school sometimes uses.

In addition, the proposed schedule would also add 30 minutes of "Flex" for tutoring or clubs to a different period each day. Having two separate lunches would allow seniors to cut back on the time it would take to leave the parking lot for off-campus privileges. However, this solution may create more problems than remedies; it would make it difficult for students in one lunch period to work with students in other lunch periods or receive help from teachers who may be teaching during that lunch period.

In the case of a lunch schedule change, students would most likely express concerns, as vocalized in the meeting by STUCO in a meeting with Mr. Wight on February 25th. In addition, an overwhelming amount of students said in a poll by the Patriot Press that they liked STAR lunch. One sophomore, Kaleb Holder, said "[STAR lunch] gives me time to get homework done and attend club meetings as well as having time to spend with my friends, which does not usually happen in classes." A majority of students agreed; 88% of those who answered the poll said they liked STAR lunch.

While the issue requires immediate attention, many will be consulted before a change takes place. As Mr. Wight said in his interview, a change in STAR lunch scheduling would require significant support from three groups: staff, parents, and of course, students.