Unjustified presence of Islamophobia in the U.S. increases, negatively affects Muslims

Following recent terrorism attacks spanning the globe, more and more people have become increasingly afraid of the Muslim population, a fear that is unjustified.

Islamophobia, prejudice or hatred against members of the Muslim community, is especially on the rise in America.

The fear that Americans have of Muslims stems from the fear of terrorist attacks; however, data from the FBI shows that Islamic extremists committed only 6% of all terrorist attacks in the US between 1980 and 2005.

Americans do not have an adequate amount of information to make judgments about members of the Islamic faith. The Arab American Institute reported in 2014 that 52% of Americans felt that they did not know enough about Islam and Muslims.

The existence of this prejudice cannot be denied, and it has made lives of Muslims living in the US become increasingly difficult.

Data from a Gallup.com poll in 2010 shows that about 60% of Muslims living in America feel that non-Muslim Americans are prejudiced towards them.

Islamophobia is a form of racism, and Muslims face daily difficulties of racial profiling and snap judgments from those around them.

Gallup.com also reported that about 28% of Muslim students in the New York public school system in 2010 reported being stopped or searched by police officers due to what they considered racial profiling.

BuzzFeed recently released a video in which four non-Muslim women were asked to wear hijabs, a headscarf typically worn by Muslim women, for a day. The video depicts the daily struggles and prejudices that Muslim women face.

One participant said in the video that she “felt the need to be weirdly smiley and really nice.” Another was patted down more than normal at the airport, and all the women felt like they were stared at by strangers throughout the whole day.

The four women were not even Muslims, yet they were still victims of snap judgments and misconceptions from the American population just because they were wearing something that a Muslim woman would typically wear.

It is time for people, especially Americans, to realize that members of the Muslim of the population need to be accepted into society rather than fall victims of prejudice.


Girls’ tennis captain leaves team, reflects on captaincy

Six-year member of the girls ‘tennis team and former captain Avery St. Sauveur is leaving her position this season for medical reasons.

According to St. Sauveur, she began playing tennis at the age of seven when her parents, two tennis players, asked her to try the sport.

St. Sauveur joined the school’s team in 7th grade and began participating in varsity matches in 8th grade, playing mostly second doubles and third singles.

Medical issues were the reasons for St. Sauveur’s reason for leaving the team. She said a combination of tendinitis in her left arm, problems with her knees, and back issues lead to her absence.

“I had to decide between playing for the team and not be able to give myself to it fully or being able to take care of myself and go to physical therapy,” St. Sauveur said.

Coach Ken Rawson and St. Sauveur shared the goal at the beginning of the season regarding individual player improvement, and St. Sauveur believes that the team has taken steps towards achieving this.

“Being a captain was so rewarding …I loved helping my team improve and getting to know everyone,” she said.

According to St. Sauveur, she plans to attend the team’s games this season and may try out for the tennis team at NYU next year where she will study international relations.

First doubles and third singles player Chanel Bullock said the team was “moving along pretty well and not worrying too much about not having a captain,” but the team still misses St. Sauveur.

“Her hard work and abilities contributed greatly to how out team functioned…we will continue to use her skills and ideas to make our tennis team better,” Bullock said.

It is unclear who will take St. Sauveur’s position as captain because she was the only senior on the team, but St. Sauveur believes that the team “has the ability to compensate for the loss of another player.”

“Plenty of team members are responsible and capable of taking the captainship or stepping up and taking leadership,” she said.


Student Council organizes annual blood drive

Members of the Student Council organized their annual blood drive on March 11 in the school gymnasium.

According to Student Council adviser Abigail Donnelly, who helped organize the blood drive for the second year in a row, the student council partnered with the Red Cross and was able to collect a total of 24 units of blood, equivalent to about 24 pints.

About a dozen students helped with the running and organization of the event, and there were a total of 60 volunteers who volunteered to donate blood, 20 of whom were able to donate.

There were certain restrictions for donors, which prevented some people from being able to donate. All blood donors must be at least 16 years old, meet certain weight requirements depending on their height and sex, and be generally healthy, according to Donnelly.

Due to the number of volunteers and the fact that most of the collected blood will be used locally, Donnelly says she is confident that the Student Council achieved its initial goals of “raising awareness about blood donation” and “serving the community.”

Senior Jackson Haskell, who volunteered at the snack table to help keep donors’ blood sugar levels up, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to help.

“I felt like I made a difference. Even though I wasn’t able to donate blood, I was happy that I was able to still volunteer and help out other students,” he said.

Junior Toni Patota, a first-time donor, shared a similar sentiment about helping others.

“I always promised myself that I would donate as soon as I could. It’s great that I can really help someone who needs a donation,” she said.

According to Donnelly, there is always an urgent need for blood in any community, and both she and the Student Council appreciate the efforts made by “both first-time and repeat volunteers and donors.”


Foreign language classes attend International Week presentations

In order to educate students about cultures from across the world, the foreign language department organized International Week at the school the week of March 10 through 13.

According to foreign language department chair Michelle Magana, schools from across Massachusetts celebrate International Week in the second week of March every year.

Magana said that the purpose of International Week is to encourage students to celebrate the importance of speaking different languages, travelling, being adventurous, and learning about other cultures.

Students enjoyed the change from learning exclusively about French and Spanish countries to learning about other countries as well.

“Instead of learning about life in Spanish or French countries, I got to see what it’s like in other countries, which I liked,” sophomore David LaForge said.

To celebrate International Week, students attended presentations with their foreign language classes. Presenters included students, parents, faculty, graduates, and community members.  Presentations focused on countries including Belgium, China, and Ecuador

Magana expressed her appreciation for former students’ returns to the school to speak about their studying abroad.

“Most of our students do not know what it is like to study abroad, and this can spark their interest,” she said.

Students were also given activity packets to compete during the week. Each day of the week was dedicated to a different country, and students were encouraged to wear the colors of the country’s flag, complete a daily trivia question, and eat the country’s food from the cafeteria.

The four featured countries this year were Cuba, Greece, China and Jamaica.

“Completion of the packet varies from teacher to teacher. Some students [compete] against each other, but others may [complete] the packet for extra credit,” Magana said.

Students appreciated the efforts the foreign language department made to educate students about cultures as well as the efforts made by the cafeteria staff to prepare traditional dishes from a different country each day.

“Being able to learn about cultures through presentations [was] great, but I also enjoyed having a chance to answer trivia facts and taste foods I might not have tried otherwise,” freshman Rebecca Braimon said.


Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children put thousands at risk

After the recent measles outbreak in the US, there has been controversy over whether or not parents should be required to vaccinate their children.

Vaccines have been effective in preventing illnesses. According to The Centers for Disease Control, over 322 million cases of childhood illnesses have been prevented due to vaccines in the period of 1994 to 2014.

Though vaccines given to children cannot completely guarantee a child not contracting an illness, The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that most vaccines have a 90%-99% effectiveness rate.

Some parents display concerns about the safety of vaccines, but those who do often do not fully look into research done about vaccinations.

The CDC states that in order for a vaccine to be licensed, it must be tested to guarantee its safety. Testing a vaccine can sometimes take 10 years, and vaccines are still monitored for safety while they are in use.

The most common claim made against vaccines is that they lead to autism; however, this allegation has been disproven multiple times by credible researchers.

Andrew Wakefield, the gastroenterologist who first established the theory that autism and vaccines were linked, was disproven by “at least seven large studies in major medical journals,” according to parents.com.

National Geographic also reports that Wakefield’s theory was disproven yet again, causing him to loose his medical license in 2010 after it was deemed that his research was “an elaborate fraud.”

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are putting both their children’s lives and the lives of others at risk.

According to parents.com, people who have certain allergies, young children, and those undergoing chemotherapy cannot receive vaccinations and are therefore put at risk of contracting a potentially fatal illness from someone who has not been vaccinated.

All parents must immunize their children and realize the benefits that vaccinations bring.


Chorus, Soundwaves visit Boston Symphony Hall for open rehearsal

By Amber Paré

Chorus students and members of the Soundwaves took a break from preparations for upcoming performances to travel to Boston Symphony Hall to witness an open rehearsal for performers including cellist Yo Yo Ma, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

According to chorus teacher Donna O’Neill, the rehearsal was open to all high school students in Boston and surrounding areas. Students departed from the school by bus in the morning.

The performance was preceded by a pre-rehearsal conversation between Yo Yo Ma and Andris Nelsons, director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, according to sophomore Dante Lombardi.

“I loved the whole experience…I felt like I really got to know [Yo Yo Ma] even though I wasn’t directly talking to him,” he said.

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Boston Symphony Orchestra later performed a world premiere piece written specifically for Boston’s orchestra.

“The performance of the piece with the composer himself present was a phenomenal experience. Students learned a lot about high-level ensemble rehearsals and what it is like to be a professional performer,” O’Neill said.

Students enjoyed the performance and expressed gratitude for the experience. “I am so thankful that I was able to see the performance. It was very inspiring because I am a performer and a chorus student,” senior Courtney MacDougall said.

Following the performance, O’Neill and chorus members went to Uno Chicago Grill for lunch before returning to the school.

According to O’Neill, members of the chorus and Soundwaves are continuing to prepare for upcoming performances.

The Soundwaves’ December performances include the high school concert, Manchester tree lighting, Essex holiday festival, the Council on Aging luncheon, and an event to benefit Doctors Without Borders, an organization that provides Ebola aid.

O’Neill said that she is looking forward to the Soundwaves’ upcoming performances this year and believes that the A Capella group will continue to take advantage of new opportunities.

“The group is doing a phenomenal job keeping up with the performance demand, especially considering that eight of the 16 members are new this year. The group loves to perform and is continuing to work hard, maintain perspective, and have fun,” she said.