Ode to Ears

Oh, Ears! I’m so sorry.

Months and months you have burdened,

And foreseeably, many more.

Balancing glasses, earbuds, earrings

And especially masks.

Restricted, entangled

Redness and sores

From the devastating straps,

That provides security of the face and mind.

Will you ever hug the sides of my head again?

Evolution of the human race.

Monkey creatures,

Protruding flaps of flesh.

What has become of our mechanical sense?

As a society, we have not trusted your wisdom.

Increasingly asking “What?” or perhaps,

“Can you say that again?”

Repetition that gets old after repeating for the third time

Maybe one day you’ll retire.

Evolve into a vestigial organ

Remain dormant like the appendix

But for now ears; let the human race improve our listening skills

And then ears, you won’t feel discomfort anymore.

— Paige Smagala

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The History of Plastic

Plastic: A material made of polymer that can be molded into a shape. 

1863- John Wesley Hyatt invented Celluloid in five years, made from Cellulose, a compound found in wood and straw. This is considered to be the first plastic. However, due to its flammability, it wasn’t the most reliable source.

1907- A chemist by the name of Leo Baekeland created a polymer known as Bakelite, which was a combination of Phenol and Formaldehyde. This polymer was much less flammable and its raw materials were easily accessible.

1920- Polystyrene was soon commercially available, a soft plastic that was used for installation.

1930- Nylon became widely popular as it mimicked silk, but with more strength.

1933- It wouldn’t be until the emergence of Polyethylene that plastic would become used for everything from water bottles to bulletproof vests.

1946- James Hendry built the first injection moulding machine. This made it possible to pour liquid plastic into any shaped mold. Plastic soon became in even higher demand during WWII. Soldier helmets were lined with plastic, water-resistant raincoats were made of vinyl, planes were made of plexiglass, and parachutes were made of nylon.

After the war, companies began to shift their focus to consumer products. Soon enough everything was made of plastic: furniture, clothing, and much more. While plastic is a cheap, easy and convenient source, it also creates detrimental environmental problems. Most plastics are made of non-renewable material and were designed to be used once, but can take centuries to decompose.

In order to save our planet, new types of biodegradable plastics must be invented to replace the old ones.

— Maya Ross

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Ben Hartranft visits KCSD for #ALLin

As I came into view of the signs of Kennett Middle School, I noticed several people masked up. One—who was wearing an Eagles shirt—cheered first to welcome our arrival. Stepping off the bus into the warm spring day, I assumed the person who cheered was a new teacher at Kennett Middle School. However, as I walked into the stadium, Mr Moore told me, “The speaker’s name is Ben; he’s the one in the Eagles’ shirt.” I assumed he was a person learning how to socialize, but he placed smiles on faces while dancing with anyone he encountered. The music calmed down and then Ben spoke. Despite having autism, he was speaking and socializing like a professional. When I heard about his efforts through his story and saw videos of him on the football fields, my brain exploded. He learned how to achieve almost anything without his disability getting in the way. Having a disabled sister, I can relate with him as he struggles to work his way through the condition he didn’t choose. It’s rough to have a family member with autism; I can tell because I have one. Since it was hard to hear his speech via Microsoft Teams, I will retell his story.

For many—Ben and my sister included—being diagnosed with autism began at a young age when their parents noticed something was off. As toddlers, children should speak 200 words; Ben had 20. Later, he was diagnosed with autism. After working hard over the years, he learned how to speak the words he needed.

By high school, he ended up becoming a social butterfly: Ben treated everyone at his school like they were friends, and his friends accepted him like that. Despite doubt from his parents, he campaigned for Homecoming King and won. Most likely because the other nominees for the title wanted their peers to vote for Ben.

Growing up, he was also doing well in life. He got a job at Dorney Park where he enjoyed making others happy and turning frowns into smiles. So much so that they later named him the Mayor of Dorney Park. He also raised money for autism by being an Autism Ambassador for the Eagles. There, he met several of the most popular Eagles players. Ben wanted to be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and after 3 years of asking, he got his chance. (See Ben on The Ellen Show here; his reaction when meeting Ellen is just priceless!)

Of course, not every dream came true for Ben. He talked a lot about most of his success but mentioned a little about his many failures. One of which is how he failed to get the lead role in the school play. Despite those setbacks, that didn’t stop him from trying; he continued to reach for his dreams. That was the key takeaway of his presentation—despite one’s condition, one can achieve great things if they keep on trying.

— Billy Wikol

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Student Equity and Diversity Council

Kennett is an incredibly diverse school, with almost 50% of its students being of Latinx descent. Oftentimes, in previous decades, this diversity would be overlooked, simply regarded as unimportant, or in some cases a problem to be solved. Now, the school is looking to celebrate that wonderful diversity that makes our school such a unique place, even compared to the immediate surrounding schools. Unionville, for example, is 95% white.

Leading this new charge to understand and celebrate the cultural and ethnic diversity of the school district are the equity and diversity councils. One is made up of Kennett faculty and staff, while the other contains exclusively students. These groups aim to promote social justice causes and understand how we can better foster a diverse and inclusive culture both within the school and the larger community.

The council has been hard at work, even in a year filled with roadblocks. Just the other day, Emma Nace and Grace Opong, members of the council, presented a new idea to the school board. The idea was relatively simple: A new readily-available google form was created so that students could both suggest ideas as to how the school can become more inclusive and report incidents of harassment to the administration. The school board seemed to love the idea, and we can hope that the form will be implemented soon.

Member students have also helped by assisting at course selection meetings. They have answered questions about the rigors of AP and Honors classes, helping to encourage more students to enroll in the challenging but rewarding courses. Diversity in high-level courses is still an issue for Kennett, and this should hopefully be the first step of many to increasing the diversity of students taking these types of classes.

On the community level, students were recently invited by Southern Chester County Regional Police Chief Gerald Simpson to join a community advisory group that would help to better understand the struggles of both police officers and racial minorities within the community, who are often subject to more incidents of police brutality than white people nationwide.

The council is a relatively young endeavor, but they hope to accomplish more once the pandemic has ended and more students will be back in school.

— Martin Heintzelman

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KTV Segment: World News 4/19/21

The world is in standby after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is put on a temporary halt as an investigation takes place on whether the vaccine was the cause of blood clots that killed six women. Many countries, such as Australia, have put a halt to purchasing the vaccine entirely . Vaccination rates still continue to rise, though with almost 200 million people having received a covid vaccination.

For more information, check out the segment above!

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Opinion: Footloose is the Greatest Cinematic Endeavor Known to Man

A few weekends ago, as I tried to ignore the looming deadline of an essay that I had to write but was procrastinating on, I decided to finally watch Footloose. I was no stranger to public perception of the film, namely that it was a terrible movie. And upon watching it, yeah. Objectively, Footloose is kind of a bad movie. However, I have never enjoyed a movie more than this one. The combination of low emotional stakes, a clear misunderstanding of teenagers and how they interact with each other, and dance montages put the 2019 Met Gala to shame, in terms of campiness. (Though anything could put the 2019 Met Gala to shame. Feathers and sequins do not constitute camp, people!)

If you’ve never seen Footloose, let me give you the rundown: the movie stars a young Kevin Bacon, whose character’s name I do not remember and do not care to look up. At the beginning of his senior year of high school, Kevin moves to a small town in Oklahoma. Much to his surprise, however, his hopes of any semblance of fun are crushed when he discovers that the town is pretty strict about what teenagers—or anyone, really—can do. See, the town is dominated by conservative churchgoers, most notably a pastor played by John Lithgow. The group of people highest up in the church are also the ones on city council, and they make all of the rules. One of these rules is one that Kevin’s character can’t seem to stop breaking: no dancing. Because of this, he decides to rebel against the town’s tyranny and leads a crusade to hold a dance for the high schoolers.

The first thing I’d like to note about this movie is that the plot is the most bonkers thing I’ve ever watched in my life, and I loved every second of it. An oppressive town that outlaws dancing is the weirdest social issue you could pick to critique, and yet, I feel like this movie is one of the most progressive things to come out of the Reagan era. (For clarification, this comment is not a compliment to Footloose, but instead a thinly veiled dig at Ronald Reagan.) The funniest thing about the movie to me is the fact that it spends the whole 2 hours dancing around the idea that church overinvolvement in the lives of everyday people leads to negative implications for everyone in and out of the organization, which is the real issue at the heart of the film. They’ll never say this outright, but anyone thinking critically about the film could likely pick this up. Every time you think they’re going to comment about this, they interject a dancing montage to divert your attention, which is quite frankly iconic.

For all my critiques about the film’s ridiculous plot, I will say that I did get pretty invested. The scene where Kevin Bacon teaches his friend to dance to the tune of “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” made me legitimately happy. Not to mention, the soundtrack excuses any narrative issues the film has. So despite its complete 80’s-ness, I must admit that Footloose is probably in my top 3 favorite films list. (This is alongside The Princess Diaries 2 and 10 Things I Hate About You, in case you were wondering.)

— Blake Ciresa

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Autism Awareness Month

As the month of April comes and goes, a very special cause is celebrated: Autism Awareness. April is dedicated to spreading information and fundraising for autism.

What is Autism?

One in every fifty-four children born in the United States is diagnosed with autism. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls. Common symptoms include difficulty with communication/social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors. Early recognition, as well as behavioral, educational, and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning. Treatments can help, but this condition cannot be cured. Researchers are currently exploring whether factors such as viral infections, medications, complications during pregnancy, or air pollutants play a role in triggering this disorder.

Homelife

The demands of living with a person with autism are great, and families frequently experience high levels of stress. Parents have to deal with behaviors and pursue treatments; siblings might feel embarrassed or overlooked; it’s important for families to stay involved in the community. Recognizing and preparing for unforeseen challenges will make a tremendous difference to everyone.

Why wear blue?

In an effort to support the Autistic community, many schools and workplaces wear blue. Kerry Magro, an international motivational speaker on the autism spectrum claims, “When we wear blue, it’s not only about keeping that conversation going about autism but, it’s also making sure that those with autism and their families don’t feel alone.” He goes on to mention the hashtag, #LightItUpBlue!, a platform that people can upload photos and connect globally about their experiences. Together we can show our support for the Autistic community. This month, be on the lookout for blue spirit days!

Kerry Magro

Spirit shirt for Autism Awareness

— Paige Smagala

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KTV Segments: World News 3/18/21

After claims about the AstraZeneca vaccine causing blood clots were made, many countries in Europe have started keeping a closer eye on the vaccine. In these tough times vaccines have been integral in trying to protect front line healthcare workers and many immunocompromised citizens. The World Health Organizations has stated that there is no connection between the vaccine and blood clots.

This past week there was an important moment for the LGBT+ community in Japan. Not allowing same-sex marriage was deemed to be unconstitutional by a court in Hokkiado. This was thanks to the effort of three couples who sued the government for psychological damage. This case dates back to 2019.

For more information, check out the KTW World News segment by Thomas Linderman and Lucas Piotrowski!

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Mystifying Horrors Behind the Throne

I’m sure you’ve read (if not already heard about) the controversy involving the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. Tensions between the couple and the British Royal Family grew steadily after Meghan’s marriage to Harry on May 19th, 2018.

Formerly an American actress, Markle claims that she felt very improper starting the life of a British royal. She alleged that Harry once asked her, “Right, do you know how to curtsy?” Markle understood that curtsying to the Queen in front of the crowds was an honorable gesture, but the idea of bowing in the privacy of Buckingham Palace was foreign to her, among many other customs. Harry explained that Elizabeth II was not only Queen but his grandmother and curtsying was a sign of respect.

Another shocking part of the interview was the discussion of race. Meghan Markle has answered the media countless times stating, “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half black and half white.” The couple’s son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, was being ridiculed even from inside his mother’s womb. Markle mentioned that one senior royal in particular questioned the pigmentation of her baby’s skin. She said she wouldn’t name the royal to maintain their reputation.

In addition, Markle’s mental health was another reason the family forfeited their positions in the British monarchy. She remembers trying to ask for help and being denied several times. Even the palace’s human resources department couldn’t be of any assistance to her.

Without name-dropping or hurting the esteem of British Royals, Meghan and Harry managed to clear up the unknown about their succession from the Family. They are beginning a “new” life with their son, Archie, in California and announced Meghan’s pregnancy, celebrating a baby girl due in Summer 2021.

Recently, my sister and I have started the Netflix series, The Crown. It displays a fairly accurate picture of life in the Buckingham Palace, from the Queen’s wedding in 1947 to present day, especially given the remarkable privacy maintained by the Royal Family. Many parallels can be drawn between the Queen and her charming relationships with relatives. It will be interesting to see if future seasons contain episodes covering this situation and the aftermath of Britain’s rulers.

See highlights of the interview here

— Paige Smagala

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The 2021 Grammys

“Good luck with the Grammys. If you don’t win at least one, I’m going to hit someone, OK?” Elton John exclaimed to Grammy nominee Phoebe Bridgers last week. Someone must have a black eye, because Phoebe didn’t win. The competition preceding this top music award was fierce. Stars like Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, and Megan Thee Stallion rocked the music world, winning Best Pop Solo Performance, Album of the Year, and Best New Artist respectively.

To recap, popular artists like Beyonce, Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and Post Malone were all nominated for Record of the Year. Billie Eilish ended up winning this prestigious category. Reflecting on the tragic events of 2020, H.E.R.’s song “I Can’t Breathe” won the award Song of the Year. Other nominees for this category included Taylor Swift, Roddy Richh, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, and Post Malone. Beyonce even received her twenty-eighth Grammy, this time for the category Best R&B Performance.

This year’s event, much like the 2020 Grammys, looked very different from past ceremonies because of COVID-19. The Grammys are typically a sold-out event with thousands of spectators, commercials, and glamorous post-parties. This year, only a very limited and socially distanced audience was allowed to attend. However, the performers were able to put on a spectacular show. Taylor Swift stunned her fans with her performance of songs cardigan, willow, and august on top of a one-room cottage with mystical lighting.

All in all, the 2021 Grammys were as entertaining and successful as ever, despite the COVID-19 circumstances. Performers and audience members alike are looking forward to the 2022 Grammys, which hopefully will be back to normal.

— Vienna Gurev

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