Here are the winning articles of the 1996 Hemingway Writing Awards for high school students
07/31/2007 12:28 PM
05/16/2014 4:58 PM
Media's glorification of rape violates true victims
Amber Hunt, senior, Bettendorf High School, Bettendorf, Iowa.
It was a chilly December morning when she awakened and prepared for work. She showered, dressed, and ate breakfast in the same manner as always, and before work, she kissed her husband good-bye, just as she had done the morning before.
This morning would prove to be different, however. This morning she would be raped.
This may sound like the scintillating plot to next week's release at the movie theaters or last week's story line for a daytime soap opera, but it's not. It's real.
It was last Christmas when this friend of my family's went to work as described. She wasn't just raped, she was duct-taped, beaten, and violated in the most disgusting manner possible, and her rapist was her boss.
What had happened didn't just ruin a holiday season. It changed her life. She has been violated ever since. Every day when she looks in the mirror, when she thinks of her job, when she eats breakfast with her husband. Every day that woman is raped again.
And despite the heartache, the pain, the struggle this woman and her family has gone through, despite the thousands of homes shattered every year due to rapes, Hollywood has decided to cash in on the crime as yet another way to attract consumers.
Rape is the new flavor of the month in the entertainment industry, joining the ranks of fist fights, sex, and murder.
Just this year, numerous films, ranging from "Rob Roy" to "Showgirls" and from "Strange Days" to "Leaving Las Vegas," feature women being brutally raped.
It's not just the characters getting violated, however. It's me. And you. And the rest of the audience.
What Hollywood has overlooked is that the issue isn't just the act of rape. It's the motivation, the power struggle, and the aftermath.
To the entertainment industry, however, it doesn't matter how many thousands of lives are shattered nationwide by a sick, power-hungry rapist. They've captivated their audience with a promise of an intriguing murder mystery, a heroic epic, or any other acceptable movie premise, and they throw in rape as a side dish.
The media is treating rape as merely an act of violence, but there's a far cry between a punch in the stomach and the nauseating motives behind a rape.
It's violence for the sake of violence, and it has got to go. It would be more understandable if the movie used rape to add character to a woman, to show how strong she was by overcoming such a horrible ordeal. But apparently those in entertainment live in rose-colored houses with Barbie-doll ideals. It doesn't matter that rape is real. What matters is that they've found a new way to shock an audience.
Though the number of rapes in movies is on the rise, Hollywood isn't the only one cashing in on this new fad. A CD-ROM game called "Phantasmagoria" puts the player in a woman's shoes, a woman running from an assailant. If she messes up, meaning the player loses, one of the ways her attacker strikes is by raping her.
Rape in a video game? It was a sick mind who created this. No one who has ever heard a rape victim's tale -- even through the grapevine -- would ever try to capitalize on such a crime.
Imagine a rape victim walking downstairs to see her son playing such a game. She clawed her way back into some sense of security only to see a video game mocking her entire ordeal. Where is the entertainment in that?
The answer is simple: Rape isn't entertainment, and it's time we stop being violated.
Students need haven to deal with society's outrageous drug problem
Amber Hunt, senior, Bettendorf High School, Bettendorf, Iowa.
Under the influence of LSD, Garrett Webb put a gun to his head and ended his life.
He was having what is known as a ``bad trip.'' He couldn't handle the drug he had taken.
He's dead now because of it.
Webb was a sixteen year-old student at North High School. He was a boy with friends, a boy in the band, a boy on chess club, and, like many students at Bettendorf, he was a boy on drugs.
Webb's life may have ended Oct. 12, but his death is not the only tragedy that occurred that day. His family and friends are left with the pain of his loss and will never again be the same.
Students at Bettendorf are not unfamiliar with pot, LSD, and other illegal drugs. The drugs are passed out in the parking lots and talked about during class.
Almost every Bettendorf student undoubtedly knows a fellow student abusing drugs, but they have no way to stop it.
Several of Webb's friends called his house the day he died to see if he was all right. They knew he was having a bad experience with LSD and called to let him know they were concerned, but they should have been able to do more.
Helping a drug abuser is difficult. Intervening too much could make them defensive, but doing nothing at all is even worse.
High school students have no way to reach out and offer help to friends that use drugs. They are helpless, powerless, and, in many cases, clueless.
Webb's parents were also shocked by his death, unaware he was abusing drugs.
They asked his friends to write Webb letters and to place them in his casket, telling him how much he would be missed and how concerned they'd been.
As touching as it was, the sentiment came too late.
Students need an organized way to reach out to their peers. Though drug use is quite popular in high schools, some students know the dangers and would like to actively help friends that may not.
Presently, high schools do have the program Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), but it's rarely advertised as a group for students with concerns about fellow students. DARE spreads the message that drugs are dangerous, but what about the kids who are shy and want to speak to professionals about a very serious problem their friend is having?
A school-sponsored group for friends of drug abusers would help people share their concerns and talk about ways to help.
High schools have many counselors who have been trained with how to deal with these problems. It's time they get together with other professionals and offer students a glimmer of hope.
Undoubtedly, Webb's friends will always wonder if they could have prevented this tragedy in some way. With a group designed specifically to help combat drug use in peers, students could at least feel as though they tried to reach out to their friend.
With drug use so prevalent in high schools, this group would give Bettendorf students a place to go for help, perhaps avoiding laying our own Garrett Webb to rest.
Thou Shalt Not Steal
Whether for economical reasons or for fun, teenagers shoplift to obtain the things they want and cannot have.
Elaine Tran, senior, Alief Hastings High School, Houston, Texas.
Toast of New York.
Browsing through rows of lipsticks, senior Cecilia Nguyen cautiously glances around her for anyone nearby and for any cameras. Seeing none of these things, she snatches several tubes and places them into her purse and pockets.
"It doesn't require much effort to steal things from grocery stores," Nguyen said. "You just have to look around, maybe take some stickers off, and then put it (stolen object) in the right place."
Stealing, whether for candy or for cars, has become a common activity in the lives of teenagers. "Nation's Business"" in Nov. 1992 reports that crime prevention and retailing organizations have estimated that shoplifters cost American businesses as much as $26 billion a year in stolen merchandise. Raul Camacho, a security guard and Loss Prevention Person at JCPenney, finds frequent shoplifters and the high price of shoplifting to be true.
"The numbers range from time to time, but most shoplifters are women," he said. "Seventy percent are women and it's pretty much split between adults and teens."
Reasons Why Teenagers Steal
Often times, students don't realize the consequences in the crime, so they shoplift out of boredom or out of lack of money.
"I haven't gotten to the point where I always steal, and I don't always steal things that cost a lot," Nguyen said. "I just take things when I really want them or really need them, and sometimes when I just feel like it."
Clinical psychologist Nancy Marks states in a "Seventeen" article that she blames peer pressure for being the cause of teenage theft.
"If your friends are doing it, can be a way of getting acceptance from the group," she said. "Peer pressure is a problem -- and I think that society's tolerant attitude towards theft adds to it. People are taught not to get caught more than not to steal."
Camacho notices that most teenagers shoplift as a form of rebellion.
"The reasons vary from person to person," he said, "but most teens steal because they get a high from it. They find it exciting to do something dangerous and illegal. They usually steal things that are name-brands just to see if they can get away with it."
Nguyen began to steal things when she was 11 years old. She did it then because her parents would not buy the things that she wanted.
"Whenever I went shopping with my mom, she wouldn't buy me anything," she said. "Anything I liked was too ugly for her, or it cost too much. So when she wasn't around, I'd go back and find the toy, the candy, or the shirt and stick it in my pocket or this little purse that I had."
Junior Lindsay Brashier began shoplifting when she was 15 years old. Yet Brashier didn't steal because she didn't have the money, instead she stole to feed another compulsion.
"After middle school, I wasn't very skinny," she said. "During my freshman year I had to lose weight, so I took a ton of diet pills. I was so frustrated with things and I just thought I would never have enough of them (diet pills), so I ended up stealing them all the time. With the allowance my parents gave me, it'd only supply me a little while. I had to lose weight and I became obsessed with my body and obsessed in stealing the pills to make sure I lost weight."
Elsik senior "Robert" believes that he gets more benefits stealing things because of the little chance that he will get caught. He often "scams" stores where he is employed.
"I don't necessarily call what I've done shoplifting or stealing," he said. "I see it as more of scamming because I don't just grab things and go. I have to do specific things to get things, whether it's finding and filling out checks to buy the stuff or finding out ways to get into the place at night."
Robert recalls one time when he and a group of friends broke into a store in the middle of the night.
"It was like we had nothing to do," he said. "We went to a Target, found a way to get in, and we were like wheeling each other down the aisles in the carts. It was a lot of fun. Plus, we ended up ripping off a lot of stuff, like three Super Nintendos."
How Stores Catch Shoplifters
Mario Lopez, an employee at a Stop-n-Go convenient store, often experiences problems with kids who shoplift.
"It is hard sometimes to know who does it," he said. "So many kids come into the store after school or on weekends when they have nothing to do. I see them have the money to play video games, but when they want something to eat, they don't use their money. They just try go take it."
As a measure to control the possibility of shoplifting, Lopez's store has several mirrors or cameras. While working, Lopez must also keep a close eye on any person who walks through the door.
"I try to watch everyone because you don't know who might do it," he said. "See, if I don't, then things will be stolen, and our store comes up short, which sometimes causes money to come out of all of our pockets. So I try to keep a close eye."
Wearing normal clothes and watching people is how Camacho catches shoplifters. Other Loss Prevention persons view customers through cameras or mirrors.
"More experienced people work on the `floor' (customer levels) and wear normal clothes," he said. "Some guys watch on TVs through the cameras. We prevent shoplifters through not only watching them but through our metal detectors, ink releasers, and wires."
Camacho believes that through his experience and knowledge, he can tell who is a shoplifter and who are potential ones.
"You can just tell by the way they act," he said. "A lot of people have the misconception that if you're Black or Hispanic, you're going to steal. But that's not true. Most people who do shoplift are so busy paying attention to other customers and employees. They look around a great deal and most of the times they have big bags with them or are wearing baggy clothes."
What Happens To Discovered Shoplifters
Stores don't capture shoplifters until they believe that the person stole something. Camacho must view a suspicious person for some time and wait until they leave the store with the merchandise.
"If they look suspicious, then I wait until they do it," he said. "I have to see them conceal it and have it with them for a while. When they walk out of the store, then I go after them."
Sometimes shoplifters who are caught do not cooperate with police officers or Loss Prevention persons.
"A lot of the times the people run off and I have to run after them, sometimes even to the parking lot," Camacho said. "We arrest them and sometimes cuff them if they're threatening. Then if the product is more than $5, then the store prosecutes them."
When a person is caught, Lopez says the punishment isn't always severe.
"Some kids will just give it back to you, but give you a hard time," he said. "If they (shoplifters) just admit to it, then we'll just send them away from our store, but if they give us a hard time, like running off or talking back to us (employees), then we will call the cops."
At one store, employees did call the police. As a result, Nguyen was arrested during her eighth grade year.
"It was really freaky," she said. "I was pretty young, and I had never gotten in trouble by the cops before. But it was like at Express, and I found this really cool shirt there. It cost about $90, and I didn't have the cash for it. I thought no one was looking, and as I was putting it into my purse, some woman grabbed me. A cop came, and he handcuffed me to a chair while he called my mom."
When her mother was being called, Nguyen remembers being terrified.
"I had never been so scared in my life," she said. "I had gotten in trouble by my parents before, but this was one time where the law was actually involved."
Texas law treats theft of merchandise worth less than $750 as a misdemeanor; stealing more than $750 is a felony. After the employee and Nguyen's family had a discussion at the mall, they ended up taking her to the Westside police station.
"Yeah, they lectured me for a good 30 minutes while I was handcuffed to the chair," she said. "It was so embarrassing because all of these people were looking at me. I was crying for a while, but my mom wouldn't let me. Then they took me to the station to do some paperwork or something. I ended up being fined and banned from the store for a year."
Teens Find Necessity In Stealing
Keeping up socially and economically is one of the main reasons why teenagers shoplift. Nguyen feels that society pressures people to have the best things, and the only way for her to get these things is by stealing.
"Clothes are really expensive nowadays," she said. "Sometimes I see an outfit that I just have to have. My parents don't really give me any money, and when they do, I have to save it for food or something like that, so some things I have to steal to ever get them.
Nguyen realizes that shoplifting is illegal, but it doesn't stop her from doing it. She believes she needs to do it to survive.
"I know that it's wrong to do it (shoplift) since it is against the law," she said. "I know there's the chance that I'll get arrested and I'll get into more trouble than when I did (when I was younger). But sometimes I can't help myself. My parents won't buy me the things, I don't have a job yet, and it kind of gives you a rush.
Other Options Instead Of Shoplifting
Camacho doesn't understand why people, especially teenagers, steal.
"There are so many other ways to get the things you want," he said. "If you can't afford it, get a job. Organizations like Purple Heart and Red Cross also offer clothing. Why risk having a bad record for a pair of name-brand shoes? This (stealing) just leads teenagers on the wrong road."
Shoplifting Causes Problems And Other Bad Habits
Other shoplifters discovered problems with stealing and found few benefits from it. Since her freshmen year, Brashier has stopped taking diet pills and stealing.
"I ended up going to a hospital for my eating problem," she said. "After I started eating healthy and keeping off the weight, there really was no reason for me to keep on stealing since all I really took were the pills."
Anne Brasher, Lindsay's mother, didn't realize her daughter's problems until a year after Lindsay started taking diet pills and stealing.
"I couldn't believe it," she said. "One day I was looking in her room for some stationery, and the next thing I knew, I found a box of pills. There weren't just a few; there was a whole bunch. I never thought she'd be taking pills to lose weight. I just figured she was exercising a lot."
When Anne Brashier questioned her daughter, she discovered Lindsay's habits.
"Well, as soon as I found that box, I went and asked her about it," she said. "At first she wouldn't say anything of she'd say it was her friend's. She just kept making up excuses that I just knew weren't true. After my pestering and persistence, she finally came through and told me everything she had done, from the shoplifting to bad eating habits."
After realizing her bad habits, Brashier went through rehabilitation and now sees shoplifting differently. She feels that it isn't worth the risk involved, because it may feed other addictions or create a new one.
"There's just too much risk involved in stealing," she said. "What's the point of getting arrested for something that might just cost $5? I don't see any point in that. Plus, stealing is a bad thing because it can lead to so many more problems. Some people feed off the risk involved in stealing, but one day they're going to get caught or something is bound to happen, and then it really won't be fun anymore."
Camacho warns teenagers that if they shoplift, people will know and that it's not worth the cost.
"For something you steal at $20, it'll be $200 with court costs," he said. "It's not worth your while. Plus, a lot of people think that no one is watching when they see no one around, but they're wrong. People are looking, and if you're young and you get caught, it'll be on your record that you stole something. And is that really worth it for your future?"
Murderer Times Two
The Theater Department's recent production features a double cast and a comical murder mystery plot.
Elaine Tran, senior, Alief Hastings High School, Houston, Texas.
A barrage of lines are exchanged between two actors in the wings of the theater. One actor says the lines with a grin and hands raised in the air, the other with a smirk and arms folded against his chest. Two actors, the same role.
"We (senior Deundre James and senior Drew Fowler) both have different interpretations of Ken [DeLaMaize]," James said. "Somehow it just developed, but even though we do have the same character, we wouldn't want them to be identical. You want to have your own personal touch to the character and not be like anyone else."
The Theater Department's recent production of "The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940" by John Bishop featured double casts for 10 characters.
"I would find it very difficult to justify doing a play with, say, three characters in it," theater teacher Jeanette Filardo said. "Our goal in educational theater is to give as many students as possible an opportunity. When I read this play, I knew it was funny, appropriate, contemporary, and had plenty of roles for the students."
The play revolves around characters from the entertainment industry in the 1940s who are trapped in a mansion during a snowstorm. They are brought together, at first to audition for and to create a musical, but end up dying or searching for the murderer, the "Stage Door Slasher".
"I think the play is basically a mystery that involves people that are famous directors, producers, and actors in the 1940s," Fowler said.
"It's a crowd-pleaser type of play because it's a mystery. Everybody likes a mystery because everyone gets into mysteries. It's humorous, easygoing, a light play -- nothing really heavy or deep."
The "Stage Door Slasher" ends up being Ken DeLaMaize, the character who James and Fowler both portray.
"It's great getting two interpretations of the character because the way that DJ and I play him are not very much the same," Fowler said. "I play him as egotistical as I can whereas DJ plays it as a typical director. Ken thinks he is the best because he is the director. He is into names, into himself, and into his work. I try to show all of that."
To obtain roles in the play, students began auditioning Aug. 23 by performing monologues and improvisational situations.
"It's human nature that the kids we have in class I see what they do and I think that maybe so-and-so can do this," Filardo said. "I wouldn't choose kids who weren't available to do it (the play). At the audition I do a combination of letting the students do something that they have chosen and then give them improvisational situations and possibly let them read something from the play. Even then, you still aren't able to fit someone with the right role."
James has participated in theatrical activities for nine years. In high school he has earned the distinction of Honor Thespian, and he auditioned for the play in hopes of helping him towards a theatrical career.
"I did it (theater) in middle school because I didn't know what else to do," he said, "but I've loved it ever since and it (acting) is what I want to do with my life. I love live theater because it's great standing up on stage and if someone messes up, you have to cover up for them. It's the excitement of knowing that you have only one shot to get it done and so you have to do it right."
Because of suggestions made by friends and for fun, Fowler auditioned for the play, even though he thinks that it won't help him in becoming a talk show host.
"I had never done a play for the school and I'm not in the class, but a lot of my friends thought that I should audition anyway," he said. "Before, I never had time because I had conflicting activities like cross country and speech. This year I made some sacrifices."
Even though James and Fowler differ in experience level, they practiced with one another and practiced individually to establish their characters and to memorize their lines.
"We have practice every day after school, so we run lines a lot together just to make sure we got the lines right and we double check our blocking," Fowler said. "We watch one another before [practice], and in between casts we go over stuff and make sure that we're not making any mistakes. We give each other critiques."
Lonzetta James, Deundre's mother, notices the amount of time that Deundre spends on practicing.
"He practices all of the time," she said. "He goes into the closet when he has a part to do. He shuts the door and practices his part and if he has to sing he practices that, but I'm not sure what he's exactly doing. he doesn't tell me anything about his part, so I only see where all his hard work is put into until he's on the stage."
After about six weeks of practicing scenes and creating the set, the play opened Oct. 12 and held show up till Oct. 14. As Fowler's first school play production, he said he felt nervous.
"On Friday night, things were great," he said. "[At the Saturday matinee], I messed up, the energy level was low. I was holding a cup of white sherry, and the audience was dead. I can't believe I stumbled all over my lines."
James said he was excited on opening night but wasn't necessarily nervous.
"I'm ready to do it (perform)," he said. "Most people would say they have butterflies in their stomach, but I am just ready to go."
During the opening night's presentation, problems occurred but James said that the case managed to get by them.
"A lot of times, an important thing that actors need to know is how to cover up and how not to show it," he said. "[On opening night] we had problems because people were nervous and for some people it was their first time to perform on stage. They forgot their lines for the scene and would jump ahead to a later scene, but we all ad-libbed it a bit and got to where we needed to be."
Fowler also noted problems after the opening night so that he could correct them for the other performances.
"The play is very physical and quick," he said. "There's a part where my character has to leave the stage and get dressed up in a ski mask and boots and get back on stage to go `kill' someone. The scene is really quick, and for that part, the actors on stage have to `buy' me some time so I can get dressed."
Despite these situations, the audience did not seem to notice and were pleased with the production.
"It was hilarious," senior Viet Ha said. "I saw it several times and when the energy level was high, like opening night, it really showed through. They made the mistake of having the sherry white, but besides that, it (the play) was really good."
Lonzetta James said that when she sees her son on the stage, she often cannot describe the feeling when she first sees him.
"It's like getting goose bumps," she said. "I feel so proud and an excitement seems to go through my body. I'm so happy and proud. I feel like, I'm glad he's mine."
While performing on the stage, James said that he doesn't think about anything except being the character.
"When I act, I am that character," he said. "I don't really think about anything, like who's in the audience, when I'm on the stage. I just think how my character would think. I totally become that person."
Filardo agrees that actors become similar to their character or vice-versa.
"Deundre's background has been so much in dance and music and Drew's has been more in speech competition," she said, "so naturally you bring that experience to your interpretation. Their timing is different, the way they respond, the way they hear things and watching them move around the stage. Their character is something that comes out of who they are."
James said that he is glad to have been a part of the play and to have double casts because he found new, closer friendships and that it was a memorable experience for his senior year.
"It's my senior year and I wanted to do things I really enjoyed," he said. "People who I've worked with before, like Drew, I never got to really know until now because I'm practising a great deal with them every day. [Also,] the play is wonderful and I love it, and I think the audience likes it, too. When you get positive feedback, you're like `Hey, people like what I'm doing.' It's a great feeling and I'm glad that I'm a part of it."
JROTC: Missing in Action at Enloe?
Ryan Brooks, senior, Enloe High School, Raleigh, N.C.
According to those involved with the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, the hours of drilling included in the curriculum are designed to emphasize discipline. "Obedience is stressed 100%," said Master Sgt. Eugene Weeks, Air Force JROTC instructor at Broughton High School.
Today's performance, however, is anything but that of a well-oiled military machine. With all the pomp that nervous freshmen can muster, first year JROTC cadets spend sixth period lowering Broughton's flags. On the first day that students were required to wear their uniforms to school, many of the younger cadets' outfits are still being cleaned and ironed; in ranks filled with sagging pants and even a bare midriff, a radio blaring the "Star Spangled Banner" is a futile attempt at respectability.
Nonetheless, the cadets are fulfilling their duties after only three weeks in class, and the neatly tailored upperclass officers give an indication of where the ninth-graders are headed. It's a familiar scene at Broughton, home to a JROTC unit since 1966.
But at Wake County's only magnet high school, another year begins without the presence of the military. Enloe was force to turn the program down, creating concern in some parents and teachers that the school is missing out on an increasingly popular national program.
Weighing the Costs
JROTC classes are taught by retired military offices, and are divided into civics, leadership, and history units. Unlike its Army, Navy, and Marine counterparts, the Air Force curriculum also focuses on aviation and the science of aeronautics. Two college ROTC scholarships per school are ear-marked for those students who successfully complete the program.
Enloe's interaction began in 1992, in the midst of period of inner-city expansion for the program. The school's application for a JROTC unit was formally accepted by the Air Force, but the Wake County Public School System would not approve the expenditures necessary for funding.
"It came to a matter of finances," Principal Bobby Allen said. "The Air Force did come up with a pretty good offer over two or three years, but what would happen after that was the telling story. Central Office could not commit to the money after that. Therefore we could have had a program that would have started up not knowing how we would end up financing the total program."
Estimates of the actual expense to Wake County varied widely. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Julia Mobley put the figure at about $50,000, the cost of one instructor and classroom facilities. The remaining funds would have been contributed by the federal government as a part of their agreement with the individual school districts.
In their handling of the situation, said social studies teacher Bob Matthews, Enloe administrators "dropped the ball."
"One, we were misinformed on if we could do it," he said. "Sometimes if you pursue something hard enough, you can make a compromise."
"The second thing I though was a problem was that we didn't have anyone here that would take a hold of something and return phone calls. I guess maybe we forgot that grants and things like this to schools have time limits and deadlines."
"I can tell you for sure that initial decision was based on the budget and the financial situation," said James Little, the chief advocate of the program among Enloe parents. "There were some opportunities in the second decision that were unique for Enloe, and the administration was slow in providing communication."
Both Allen and Mobley maintained that the decision was strictly financial, and that the proper procedure was observed.
Finding an Audience
Students who transfer from other schools make up nearly a third of Weeks' squadron, and many students attend Broughton expressly for the JROTC. Enloe's main drawing point, however, has always been the strength of its academic programs.
Little didn't see a conflict. "As a magnet school, anything that enhances the exposure to your students would be good for them," he said. "Most of your students are not affiliated or have not seen the military, and this would be good opportunity for them to observe a military-type organization."
An Air Force JROTC instructor at Southern Nash High School in Nash County, Little also emphasized the academic aspect of the curriculum. "It's a citizenship program, not a military program," he said. "It is a program designed to teach young men and women how to be better citizens and better individuals, and to help discipline, self-esteem, and knowledge."
While parents, teachers, and administrators expressed near-universal support for the JROTC, some students had reservations. "I don't think it would have fit in here," said senior Ian Ferguson. "I don't think anyone would have wanted to take part in a program that had that kind of military attitude. The discipline part wouldn't have been a problem, but I think a lot of things that have come with being in the military, like the whole 'can't be gay' thing, wouldn't have gone over well here.
Several teachers and students pointed to the presence of electives such as U.S. Military History and Lessons of the Vietnam Conflict as an indication that the school would be receptive to a military presence on campus. However, only 5 out of the 36 students currently enrolled in those classes expressed interest in the program.
Criticisms and Concerns
Meanwhile, the JROTC is not without its detractors. A new report, entitled "Making Soldiers in the Public Schools: An Analysis of the Army JROTC Curriculum" charges the Defense Department with using the program to target lower-income minority students and to push the military viewpoint in the classroom.
By comparing JROTC textbooks with those of civilian classrooms, the report reaches several troubling conclusions. The JROTC, the report states, "is antithetical to the goals of teaching students how to participate in a democracy, resolve conflicts peacefully, evaluate sources, and think analytically.
"A whole lot of schools have refused the JROTC for those same reasons," Weeks said. "You're going to have what you we call warhawks, who are there to teach them how to be military-type individuals. That's not the case here."
The majority of Week's students have no affiliation with the military after graduation. One who will, fourth-year cadet Leon Baker, plans to enter the Naval Academy. "I wouldn't say they really recruit you," he said, "they just show you what's out there."
But the program is a recruiting tool, the report finds, and specifically targets African-American students who might otherwise attend college. "We are required by law to report our racial makeup every year," Little said, "and we are directed to try as closely as we can to mirror the school's ethnic population."
At Broughton, however, minorities make up about 62% of the JROTC unit, as opposed to about 35% of the student body.
What Happens Next
Despite these concerns, the program's long-standing success at Broughton has impressed local educators. Mobley and Allen praised the curriculum, and expressed a desire to see an Enloe JROTC chapter in the near future.
Matthews hoped to see a change in attitude because of the situation. "I would like to see us mean what we say, when we say `let's get parents involved in the schools.' If someone goes out and says, `OK, here's what I want to do for Enloe High School,' let's give him or her more than the time of day. Let's give them an audience."
For now, it seems that students will have to find other ways to build discipline and leadership. "Now that Enloe lost their chance, it goes on a waiting list," Weeks said. "I can tell you right now that the next school to get a unit in this area will be Fuquay-Varina."
Education legislation takes effect
Ryan Brooks, senior, Enloe High School, Raleigh, N.C.
The first manifestations of the much-heralded 1994 Republican landslide were felt in this year's long session of the General Assembly. The Democratically controlled Senate and the Republican majority in the House clashed on a number of important issues, including education. Legislators passed a number of significant bills, many of which will directly affect students from the moment they walk into class.
Moment of Silence
Amidst the test tubes and floating brain matter of Brian Wood's science class, organized prayer has existed at Enloe for at least three years. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the school's chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has sponsored a lunchtime, student-directed Bible study. And for many who attend these meetings, the current debate over a moment of silence in schools is purely academic.
"I don't think a moment of silence is really necessary," said junior Jenni Jones. "I can pray whenever I want to. I can pray at lunch, I can pray walking to class, I can pray to myself during class."
The Supreme Court has recognized the legality of such activities as student-directed prayer and religious organizations on campus; the constitutionality of the moment of silence and religious-themed graduation ceremonies remains unclear.
In the North Carolina General Assembly, Rep. Frances Cummings, a Republican from Robeson County, introduced a bill that would have required all public schools in the state to begin each day with a one minute moment of silence.
The proposed bill came under fire from the American Civil Liberties Union and Jewish and Islamic organizations. "We concur with anybody's desire to see stronger moral and ethical values instilled in the children of our community," said Jackie Eisen, chairwoman for the Jewish Federation of Wake County's Community Relations Committee, "but we can't endorse this proposal while adhering the fundamental democratic concept of the separation of church and state."
The final, ratified version of the bill authorizes the moment of silence, instead of requiring it. It defines the moment of silence as a time, ". . .to create a boundary between school time and nonschool time and to set a tone of decorum," and specifically prohibits a polity that either requires or prevents participation in prayer.
Don Follmer, a spokesman for the House leadership, said that while Cummings made it clear she was coming from a Christian background, the new law is fair to all faiths. "You can be a Druid and still participate in the moment of silence," he said.
Gail Jenkins has seen numerous fads and trends in her 17 years as a health educator. Jenkins, the Health Education Specialist for Wake County Public Schools, says that the recent spotlight on education and abstinence in the General Assembly is politically motivated.
"Truly we have always told young people that the best way to protect yourself is to abstain, and that you're not ready to have sex," she said. "And we have encouraged that from the very beginning. Abstinence has just sort of become the new buzzword, and it's something people want to hear."
The "Teach Abstinence Until Marriage in Public Schools" legislation takes effect in the 1996-97 school year. Under the bill, local school boards must provide an abstinence until marriage program; included are provisions banning the distribution of birth control devices on school property and parental review of materials used in sex education classes.
In an interview, Jenkins stressed the importance of teaching abstinence among teenagers for emotional and medical reasons. "There's not a teacher in Wake County who would advise to a student to become sexually active," she said. "If we would have an ideal world, we would want our young people to wait until they had that commitment with a monogamous relationship in the context of marriage."
"But we can't just tell everybody to abstain, because they're not," Jenkins said, citing a 1993 survey indicating that 74% of North Carolina high school senior are sexually active. "Therefore we have to provide them good, factually correct information about contraceptives and how to protect themselves, because otherwise they're putting their lives at risk."
The ratified bill has not removed her ability to counsel students on what to do if they do decide to have sex, she said. "I don't think it's the role of the school system to hand out condoms," Jenkins said, "but students certainly need to know where those services are, and they are available in the community."
In the past, the main opposition to sex education has centered around the belief that it encourages sexual activity in students, or that the matter is better left up to the parents. Under the current law students are not required to take the human sexuality portion of their Health class if they or their parents object for religious or moral reasons.
Pledge of Allegiance
House Bill #64, encouraging the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the display of a flag in the classroom, followed a path to ratification similar to the moment of silence and abstinence bills. Originally a stronger version, actually requiring local school boards to adopt policies allowing for the flag and Pledge, which passed in the House, only to be revised upon reaching the Senate.
Many early critics, including the ACLU of North Carolina's executive/legal director Deborah Ross, seemed satisfied by the compromise on the bill. In a memo to the organization's Legislative Committee, Ross wrote "We consider our efforts on this bill a success."
The Wake County Board of Education, in fact, adopted a policy in February mandating that the Pledge be included in the instructional program. At Wake county high schools the Pledge will be recited at any large-group events.
The policy further states: "Individual students and staff members may choose to refrain from reciting the pledge but will be expected to maintain proper decorum while others participate."
Some Enloe teachers have indicated that they also intend to make the Pledge a part of their daily schedule.
"I'm all for it," said Bob Matthews, a social studies teacher. "I think patriotism is an important part of growing up, and there's a lot of neat things about the flag that people should know." Matthews also said that North Carolina Vietnam Veteran's Inc., of which he is a member, plans to donate a flag to every classroom in Wake County.
"We've made very significant gains for education," said Brett Cansella, communications director for the office of the President pro-tem of the Senate, "in areas that are maybe not as sexy as those other bills."
Both parties pointed to a renewed emphasis on the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, the reduction of first grade class size and the overhaul of the bureaucracy at the Department of Public Instruction as major economic accomplishments.
Raising funds for school construction proved to be the biggest point of contention in terms of the education budget. Controversial bills authorizing a state lottery or a 1% increase in the state sales tax to raise money for the construction were quickly killed, as was a bill providing tax credits for parents who sent their children to private schools. Don Follmer, speaking again for the House leadership, said that some of the legislators had felt these credits would have eased the strain on public schools.
"There seems to be a huge need for new construction," he said, "somewhere in the nature of 5 billion dollars." But by the end of the session, the House and Senate had failed to concur on the amount of money available for a voter referendum to decide on selling bonds to cover construction costs.
A League of His Own
Scott Palmer, senior, Westlake High School, Austin, Texas.
It is Thursday night. The ball skips around the hardwood floor in Westlake High's darkened P.E. gym. Ten players scramble after it, pausing periodically to woof at the referee.
"Referee!" Brad Buchanan yells form the shadows of the bleachers. "Who got the foul?"
Number three, replies the ref. Brad scribbles it in the notebook.
The possession indicator is a block of wood with a red arrow scrawled across it. The electronic scoreboard is manned by two young girls, and the number is peeling off sophomore Kyle Oliver's jersey. For all of its disorganization, it is completely organized and in line.
It is Thursday night.
Brad Buchanan is working.
Brad, a Westlake senior and on his way to Rice University, supervises, oversees, directs, organizes and finalizes everything that happens in the Westlake Intramural Basketball League. In short, Brad is the league.
Tonight, he is once again in control, working the scoreboard and score book, calling coaches and players, finding referees and allowing Westlake students a chance to play some ball.
The league, started by Brad and his father two summers ago as an outlet for students not competing in UIL basketball, has seen membership grow to 80 players this year.
So why did he go to so much trouble to start the league?
"So I could play basketball," Brad replied. "I didn't make it on the freshman basketball team, and a lot of my friends like to play too, so it seemed like the good thing to do. on of my mom's friends originally suggested putting together a league, and I don't know if she was serious or not, but I took it seriously."
Brad began his process in the summer of 1993 by talking to Westlake athletic director Ebbie Neptune about beginning an intramural basketball league. Neptune informed him of the necessary requirements, including the big problem: insurance. He also met with Jay Arnette, whose son, Bart, is a junior at WHS and who runs a similar and more established winter basketball league. Arnette referred him to a string of people for the various necessities, and suddenly Brad was facing a lot of time and effort to secure jerseys, gyms and liability insurance.
The idea suddenly seemed as if it wasn't worth the trouble and cost. But Brad heard about the Eanes Community Education program, which sponsored him and gave him liability coverage. He also secured an official designation as a nonprofit corporation from the state.
"We've tried to do this many times throughout the years of Westlake High School," Neptune said. "But we've never really had anyone who wanted to take the bull by the horns. I wanted the students who weren't competing in UIL athletics to be able to do something as well, and I saw this as an avenue.
"He's really been enthusiastic about it. . .he's made it work," Neptune continued. "His dad was behind him the first year, but without his initiative, his desire for this thing to succeed, it never would have. He's a top-notch guy, very goal-oriented, a good guy to get along with. He understands your problems and that he needs to make adjustments to make this thing work. Because he did, he made it work and consequently, we've got a log of guys coming up here at night playing basketball and having a good time."
The initial summer of putting the league together tried Brad's patience. By his estimation, he still puts in a good eight hours of work on the league per week. Over the first year, he sank almost his entire bank account (which he is recovering) into renting the gym, paying referees and custodians as well as printing schedules. He mailed out fliers to prospective players to see what kind of response he would get before going full speed ahead with the project, as the price would not be cheap.
"I had to see if there was enough interest to make it worthwhile," Brad said. "I got about 80 responses, so I decided to go ahead and do it. However, a lot of people sent their forms in too late, so I had to scramble to fit them in. We've gone from eight teams of eight players to eight teams of 10 players. I can't fit anymore than eight teams because of time constraints --
"Was that on 10 purple?" he says, referring to a technical foul call.
"-- so I can only get four games in a night, plus the air conditioning and janitors have to be paid. It's a lot of money, with the jerseys and referees. I had to estimate how much that would be, because I had no clue as to how much to charge each person."
"I wasn't sure he could overcome some of the hurdles that would be in his way," Jim Buchanan, Brad's father, said. "But he kept going. He's shown lots of determination and initiative to call up everyone, to negotiate with the athletic director and the administrative office. He really enjoys it."
There have been a few changes from the first year -- for the better, Brad said, including new referees, new coaches and a new attitude on the court.
"The refs are better this year," he said. "People seem to be getting in a lot less fights this year. We've got UIL refs instead of University of Texas ones, and less college coaches. We had too many people getting thrown out of games last year, and some of the college coaches were sort of, uh, temperamental."
"None that are coaching this year," he says with a grin.
Brad's acceptance to Rice is definitely due in large part to the league, he said, in addition to a high SAT score, a National Merit Scholarship commendation and a course schedule that includes Differential Calculus classes at UT.
"(College) was an incentive for doing this," Brad said. "But it wasn't the main reason. This gives me a chance to work on leadership and organizational skills that will be useful later. It's really rewarding, and it pays off in more than one way. I've met so many people; I can walk down the halls and name half the guys I see. It's just tough to round up 10 guys out of the blue for a game, and this gives us a game and a practice every week."
"I kid him all the time," Neptune said. "I tell him that when he makes his first million, I want him to be sure to remember where he got his start, right here in this intramural league, and not to forget me. I see him as a very successful person."
Brad puts the scorebook down as the buzzer sounds for the first half. He confers with a coach about next week's practice times and glances at the scoreboard. The numbers reflect a blowout, the kind of game he despises; it makes him feel bad, he says, because he feels he didn't put the teams together fairly enough.
In half an hour, he has his own team's game to play, and then the games stop, and the lights go out, and the league comes to a halt.
For its participants.
Brad Buchanan's works is not done yet; he has miles to go before he sleeps. But what of his graduation? What will become of the league? Neptune says no one has approached him concerning the continuation of the league, and Brad seems resigned to the fact that the league will retire itself when he heads to Rice.
There are three more weeks of the regular season before the playoffs. Brad will work on the league during what should be his "coasting" period, the last six weeks of his high school years, and then he will put it to bed.
"The best thing is everyone coming up to me and saying, 'Hey, thanks for doing this, Brad, it's a lot of fun,'" he says, scanning the court. "The appreciation, what a good time everyone has -- and it's a lot of fun for me to get the chance to play in a team setting. It's something I can be proud of."
The final buzzer sounds shortly after eight, and the supporters and players file into their cars and speed away into the night. Brad stays behind to turn out the lights and lock the gyms.
It is Thursday night.
Brad Buchanan's work, at least for tonight, is done.
God and Games
Scott Palmer, senior, Westlake High School, Austin, Texas.
-- Somerset Maugham
Boom boom. The rhythmic beat of the band reverberates through Chaparral Stadium. Boom boom. Tonight, the turf becomes a battlefield. No mercy, no fear. They play knowingly they risk serious injury on every down. Boom boom. Minutes before kickoff, they bow their heads.
A moment of silence. Say what you need to say.
Seemingly since its earliest beginnings, sport has been intertwined with religion. Today its influence can be seen everywhere. After racing 75 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, a running back drops to one knee to thank his god. The basketball teams, independent from the coaches, gather to say a prayer. The tennis team gathers in a circle before an important match and prays for safety and God's good will. Senior Ty Damron, a guard on the basketball team and a Christian, described the relation between his sport and religion.
"In the past we've said the Lord's prayer before games," he said. "Now it's a couple of guys that pray before the games without the coaches. I pray for safety for myself, my teammates, and for the other team. . .and I try to act like a Christian on the court, show control. I don't pray to win, because I don't necessarily agree with that. I'll trust God with the outcome."
The football team will gather in a circle in the locker room, take a knee and bow for a "moment of silence," as coaches are no longer allowed to lead the team in an official prayer.
"In the locker room, coach doesn't emphasize prayer," tailback senior Tom Shaw said. "We just have a 'moment of silence.' I always say a prayer that we come out injury-free. I think it's very important to have that with me. i like to think the Lord's always with me when I'm carrying the ball."
"I think it's ridiculous," wide receiver senior Ben Bays said, referring to the anti-prayer rule. "It's pretty much the same thing. A prayer gives the team a sense of unity."
But the argument for the opposite side is that most team players only cover one religion; for example, a Christian prayer is said, leaving out any Muslims, Jews and members of other religious persuasions on the team. Thus, any group prayers specific to one religion must be carried out by the players on their own. One instance of this came prior to the Regional Tournament in October, as the tennis team gathered for an optional prayer session.
"Religion's part of every sport," senior Elizabeth Schmidt said. "And it can go hand-in-hand, as long as you respect everyone's religion, such as the prayer we have before matches. There are a lot of different views. You just need to be careful of how far it goes."
"The team gave everyone the option," senior Rick Warren said. "We all sat in a circle, and if you didn't want to take part, you didn't have to. Everybody did. We realize that all of our ability is given by God, and He can take it all away in a second, so we need to glorify Him. I never pray specifically to win. I pray to play the best I can, and if I do and still lose, that's okay."
-- H.L. Mencken
And then, as with all things, there are the skeptics. One aspect of religion as it relates to the sporting world is its detractors. The football player kneeling in the end zone has been described by some as "sacrilegious" or "flashy," simply an attempt for the player to draw attention to himself. This was part of what prompted the NCAA to enact the excessive celebration rule, which does not allow a player to make a display of himself, including a prayer.
Liberty University, a religious school in Pennsylvania, took the NCAA to court over the rule. Liberty won, and the rule was amended to allow players to kneel after a touchdown.
"It's hard to take away that freedom of expression in this country," senior basketball and soccer player Mary Sunukjian said. "But I don't think (kneeling after a touchdown) is usually done to attract attention. That depends on the person's attitude and what's in their own heart."
"I can see how it can be flashy," wide receiver senior John Peays said. "It can be taken the wrong way, even though it's not done a lot in high school football. But it's not excessive celebration. I can think of a lot of examples of celebration getting out of hand, but this isn't taunting. We kneel to give credit to God, to show that it's not us, it's Him."
But the general consensus is that prayer and one's belief in religion is of dire importance, if not in terms of performance, then as a safety net -- something, they feel, is necessary and comforting. Simply put, it's good to know God's there.
"Prayer is extremely important for me," Ben said. "I pray numerous times during the game, to thank God that I'm able to play for him, to use my talents to the fullest. It's something that helps me relax in a tense situation, and I'm always rejoicing during the game. A lot of times after I score a touchdown, I'll be screaming 'Thank You, God!' I point up sometimes at the sky after I score. And it's humbling for us as a team to be able to pray. We're just showing that it's all because of Him, it's not ours."
"It helps keep the game in perspective," John said. "Sometimes you can get wrapped up in the game and really feel the pressure. But [religion] helps me realize that no matter what happens in the game, it's not the end of the world. I don't think God cares who wins. I thank Him for the chance to play. I mean, there are people who can't walk."
It's been established over the years that there is a place in sports for religion, and one in religion for sports. To many, it is essential. Former Notre Dame football coach Gerry Faust would often pace up and down on the sideline, asking the team to say a Hail Mary so the team could convert on a crucial fourth-and-one play; that, it could be said, was taking it to an extreme.
But nonetheless, from the girls basketball team's prayer circle at half-court following a 1993 playoff loss to the cross dangling from a player's neck as he bats, religious devotion is ever-present for many as they take part in their sports.
The players gather in the end zone minutes before kickoff. The fans file into their seats, ready for the game. The students stand in their section of the bleachers, talking and laughing. The players kneel, their heads bowed, their attention undivided. They are giving credit and asking for safety before they go to war.
wise men and gods are on the strongest side.
-- Sir Charles Sedley, "The Death of Marc Anthony"