Conflict in Libya: Should the United States have become involved? – Pro

When President Obama announced the U.S. was willing to take military action against Colonel Muammar al-Qadaffi of Libya, it was easy to jump to a conclusion: the country is getting involved in another war.

By Kaitlin McDonagh

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  When President Obama announced the U.S. was willing to take military action against Colonel Muammar al-Qadaffi of Libya, it was easy to jump to a conclusion: the country is getting involved in another war.           

  This idea, however, is not as inevitable as some may believe.

The United Nations Security Council voted on March 18 to authorize a no-flight zone over Libya and to “take all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan citizens.

  The no-flight zone, according to the BBC, “establishes a ban on all flights in Libyan airspace to help protect civilians,” with exceptions for flights the U.N. states enforces the ban and humanitarian flights.

  On March 19, France, Britain, and the U.S. began a series of air raids on Qadaffi’s forces to aid the Libyan rebels. Without this air raid, the rebels would have been overrun.

  According to the New York Times, rebel forces were able to gain control of the city of Ajdabiya on March 27, a city in eastern Libya, a day after allied airstrikes against Qadaffi’s military in eastern Libya. Clearly, foreign aid has helped the African country.

  Despite the success, opponents of U.S. involvement in foreign matters may criticize the Obama administration: Why should the U.S. get involved in crises that do not pertain to this country?

  It doesn’t matter whether or not the U.S. has any stakes in Libya; the issue became international once Qadaffi began attacking his own people. It’s impossible to ignore the immorality of this act; hundreds of citizens were dying, often in peaceful protest, because a tyrant ordered his military to murder them.

  If something as horrific as this were to occur in the United States, the government would have no qualms about sending in troops to resolve the situation.

  At this point in the Libyan revolution, politics should take a backseat to protecting the lives and basic rights of human beings, regardless of the different nationalities.

  For those who still believe the issue is a matter of diplomacy, not morality, consider this: the United States has relinquished control of the entire campaign to NATO. The Obama administration is already preparing to remove several U.S. warships from Libya. The situation won’t get out of control; the U.S. is not the only country involved in protecting the Libyan citizens, and the government is already preparing to lessen its presence.

  According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the U.S. will be finished with the situation in Libya from anywhere between a few months to a little over a year. To protect the lives of innocent Libyan citizens and preserve their rights to life and liberty, this is a small price to pay.

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Increase in FY-12 budget causes need for override

With the FY-12 budget still at approximately $20.5 million, the school district is looking for an override vote from both Manchester and Essex.

By Kaitlin McDonagh

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

 With the FY-12 budget still at approximately $20.5 million, the school district is looking for an override vote from both Manchester and Essex.

  In order for this to happen, each town must vote on the budget and vote on whether or not to have an election for the override at their town meetings. If both of these motions pass, an election to pass an override will be held in each town shortly after.

  The FY-12 budget is 2.1% higher than the FY-11 budget, resulting in a 4.5% increase in assessments to the towns. Because towns cannot legally exceed a 2.5% tax increase due to Proposition 2.5 without passing an override, the school district is hoping both towns will vote to approve the override, legally allowing the towns to increase taxes by over 2.5%.

  In the current 4.5% budget increase, the assessment to Manchester is $11,162,457 for operating costs and $1,668,000 for debts. The assessment to Essex is $6,378,268 for operating costs and $727,171 for debts.

  Currently, there is no set value for the override. Both Manchester and Essex are in the process of deciding upon a potential amount.

  According to the district’s financial director Avi Urbas, the main cause of the increase in the budget was the decrease in income from outside sources to pay for the spending, including aid from the state.

  “Specifically, town and district spending alone might not exceed the limits, but because of potential reductions in state reimbursements, taxpayers would have to pay for a greater percentage of the spending than in prior years,” Urbas said.

  If the override does not pass, the school district will have to decrease the budget by finding ways to raise revenue or cut spending in certain areas.

  “The amount of the potential cut is not yet known and will be discussed between the district and towns, but it could be several hundred thousand dollars,” Urbas said.

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Sophomore raises over $2,000 for Special Olympics in Passion Plunge

To help support the Special Olympics of Massachusetts (SOMA), sophomore Nick Robertson participated in the organization’s 13th annual Passion Plunge, held at Revere Beach on Feb. 26.

By Kaitlin McDonagh

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  To help support the Special Olympics of Massachusetts (SOMA), sophomore Nick Robertson participated in the organization’s 13th annual Passion Plunge, held at Revere Beach on Feb. 26.

  Robertson, who has a brother, Patrick, with Downs syndrome, attends a “sib” group where he meets other people who have siblings with disabilities. According to Robertson, he was inspired by his sib group when they told him about the Passion Plunge.

  Participants of the plunge are encouraged to raise at least $250 to help benefit SOMA. Robertson and his group members far exceeded this amount, raising $2,200.

  During the Passion Plunge at noon, participants ran into the freezing water at the Revere Beach to show their support for SOMA. In the weeks leading up to the event, participants were expected to fundraise for the organization, although it wasn’t necessary.

  Plunging alongside Robertson were several members of his sib group. His group meets every two weeks to have discussions and participate in various activities and games.

  According to Robertson, there were over 1,000 people in attendance. Robertson said that despite the cold, he was happy that there were so many people who wanted to support individuals with varying disabilities.

“[I was] feeling very excited for this to happen, and I [couldn’t] wait either which is very annoying because my favorite place to be is the beach,” he said.

  According to SOMA, the organization is funded almost entirely by donations and receives very little federal or corporate donations, so events such as the Passion Plunge play a large role in its upkeep.

  In order to raise money for the event, Robertson and other group members had to fundraise on their own. “I had to help organize my group by giving out flyers to help support [us],” Robertson said.

  “I think that Nick doing the Passion Plunge is nothing short of an incredible effort,” special education teacher Chris Ahearn said. “It is not easy to ask people for donations, especially in this economy, and for Nick to have raised over two thousand dollars with his team is astounding.”

  Despite the cold water, Robertson enjoyed the event. “My favorite part was jumping in the water and also talking to my friends from sibs,” he said.

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‘Black Swan’ unnerves with complex plot, creepy characters

From the opening scene to the finale, one thing about Darren Aronofsky’s movie “Black Swan” is clear: it isn’t your average thriller.

By Kaitlin McDonagh

INDPENDENT EDITOR

  From the opening scene to the finale, one thing about Darren Aronofsky’s movie “Black Swan” is clear: it isn’t your average thriller.

  Based loosely on the ballet “Swan Lake,” the plot follows the life of Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a young, beautiful ballerina who desperately wants the part of the Swan Queen in her New York ballet company’s production. In order to do this, Nina must dance the part of the White Swan and Black Swan, two completely different roles.

  Everything about her perfectly fits the role of the White Swan; she is timid, fragile, innocent, and her dances are perfectly coordinated. Yet in order to land the role, she must also embody the seductive, wild Black Swan, a dark role in which Nina has no experience.

  After managing to convince her director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), that she has a sinister side to her, Nina lands the part. As the movie progresses, the audience slowly learns just how twisted that part of her is.

  As Nina becomes more and more invested in her role, she begins to hallucinate violently and imagine scenarios that never happened. She becomes paranoid, believing fellow ballerina Lily (Mila Kunis) is out to sabotage her and steal her part.

  Portman plays her role perfectly; she embodies not only the insanity affecting Nina, but also the personalities of the White Swan and Black Swan. Throughout the movie she completely changes, morphing from an innocent, timid girl to a dark, warped woman.

  The changes taking place in Nina represent the differences in the White and Black Queens; Nina becomes so obsessed with perfecting her role that her personality mirrors it.

  Not only is the main character dark, but the aspects of the filming and scenes play a large role in the disturbing atmosphere. There are no warm colors; every scene has a gray overtone, and the only light colors depicted are on Nina’s clothes, which are primarily light pink, white, and light gray.

  The music and sound effects also play a part in creating a creepy tone. While the music of “Swan Lake” climaxes as the tension in the scenes increase, often the lack of music is what adds to the suspenseful effect the most.

  Often in thrillers, the trepidation that builds in the music lets the viewers know when to shield their eyes from a frightening scene. In “Black Swan,” there is no music to act as a warning. The only clue is the sound of rustling feathers, which is frequently disregarded because it lasts for only a couple seconds.

  The filming is imprecise and often frenetic, adding to the creepy, slightly schizophrenic atmosphere the movie takes on. When a violent image is about to appear, there is no warning as there often are in thrillers.

  The multiple, complex layers of “Black Swan” leave no way to escape confusion; the film’s deeper meanings can only be reached by slowly sorting through each chilling, evocative scene.

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Increased insurance prices, decreased state financing prove difficult obstacles for FY-12 budget

With a 3.2% increase from FY11, the total operating budget for FY12 sums $20,690,585. This means there is a projected increase in town operating assessments of 4.5%.

By Kaitlin McDonagh

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  With a 3.2% increase from FY11, the total operating budget for FY12 sums $20,690,585. This means there is a projected increase in town operating assessments of 4.5%.

  This new budget includes new faculty positions, additional support in the special education program, and the reinstatement of the Memorial Elementary School principal.

  Originally at 6.4%, the assessment to the towns was reduced to 4.5% by the School Committee on Feb. 1.   

  This impacts the district because instead of the approximately six new teachers needed, only five are budgeted. Also, some curriculum and technology upgrades will be deferred another year.

  Because of the increase, the school district is planning to request an override, where there will be an increase in townspeople’s taxes over the 2.5% limit put in place by Proposition 2.5.  

  According to Superintendent Pamela Beaudoin, if the override passes, there is a “good chance for a solid year.” If it doesn’t pass, the administration plans to look further into where the budget can be tightened, but there are no definite plans.

  The biggest problem concerning the school budget is hiring new teachers.

  According to Beaudoin, one of the unique draws of the Manchester-Essex school district is the small class sizes. Because class sizes have increased this year, new teachers must be hired for the entire district.

  This will be hard to do because of the price of health insurance and decreased financing from the state.

  The school has to purchase insurance for each faculty member, but it doesn’t have control over the cost of the insurance. This year, the insurance price is scheduled to go up 15%, which is a $400,000 increase. “This could leave a hole in the piggybank,” Beaudoin said.

  In addition to increased insurance prices, the school will have less money for educational needs because state financing is decreasing. The state is required to give the district entitlement grants, which cover areas such as special education and student support, but in order to receive more money, the district must submit applications for competitive grants.

  According to Beaudoin, competitive grants are much harder to receive because they often have needs-based criteria, and since Manchester is a fairly wealthy town, the possibility of receiving a grant decreases.

  The budget was also increased because the district added support in special education and because the Memorial Elementary School principal position will be reinstated. In order to cut costs last year, Middle School Principal Beth Raucci also acted as the Memorial School principal.

  Currently, the district receives substantial support from charitable funds such as the Spaulding Trust and the Enrichment Fund. For example, the Enrichment Fund recently donated $40,000 to the district to support learning technologies. In addition to these funds, the district also receives donations from the community.

  Right now, the school district is concentrating on the override. “We’re focusing on an immediate goal,” Beaudoin said.

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SCORE viewed as an obstacle, not opportunity

SCORE may seem like a great opportunity for seniors; it gives them a chance to pursue an internship in a career field they are interested in. For five weeks, students are employed alongside educated adults and gain experience about what a specific career field is really like.

By Kaitlin McDonagh

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

SCORE may seem like a great opportunity for seniors; it gives them a chance to pursue an internship in a career field they are interested in. For five weeks, students are employed alongside educated adults and gain experience about what a specific career field is really like.

Although the idea behind SCORE is logical, in actuality, SCORE is more of a burden than a blessing to most seniors.

It’s simply too difficult for a large number of students to execute SCORE projects. It’s undeniable that a student with three or more AP classes will have to find a project in the school, but what about students with only one?

Although seniors are exempt from certain classes at the end of the year, they still have to return for AP classes until they have taken AP exams. This makes it more difficult to find an internship where a student can leave for a certain amount of time, limiting students to in-school projects.

In the real world, people can’t simply leave their jobs for a certain period of time because they have other engagements. Not only do AP classes interrupt students’ time at their internships, but they also limit how far students can go.

Despite these drawbacks, students who do have the time for SCORE would benefit from being exposed to a particular career field they are interested in; however, the majority of seniors have too much to deal with without having SCORE thrown on top.

The goal of SCORE, which is to give seniors the opportunity to test out a career they are possibly interested in pursuing, is a good one. The more experience the better, but in order for students to maximize their time, the program needs to be reconstructed.

For example, the time requirements should be smaller or eliminated completely. As long as students are working hard and have created a project they feel passionate about, then the time put into it shouldn’t matter as much.

It’s true that SCORE is beneficial in some ways; it gives students real-world experience and helps them discover what they are interested in. Unfortunately, many students cannot achieve this goal because of some of the guidelines of SCORE and the limitations in their own lives.

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Happy Holidays! Is being politically correct important? – Pro

Around the holidays, people become more concerned with being politically correct; instead of hearing “Merry Christmas,” it’s now more common to hear “Happy Holidays.” Although some people don’t think being politically correct is a big deal, it’s important to view the issue from different angles.

By Kaitlin McDonagh

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  Around the holidays, people become more concerned with being politically correct; instead of hearing “Merry Christmas,” it’s now more common to hear “Happy Holidays.” Although some people don’t think being politically correct is a big deal, it’s important to view the issue from different angles.

  In a school where students predominantly celebrate Christmas, most people don’t bother to acknowledge other holidays. This is because there is a lack of variety when it comes to religious denominations.

  Because of this lack of diversity, students don’t know a lot about other religions. Learning about other winter holidays is important because it makes everybody feel included. With fewer people who celebrate other holidays, such as Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, more people are likely to feel left out when other students talk about Christmas.

  In order to prevent others from feeling bad, it’s important to be mindful of others’ religions. It’s fine to say “Merry Christmas” to people who celebrate the holiday, but it becomes awkward when the person’s religion is uncertain. To avoid this mistake, it’s easier to say “Happy Holidays” to everyone, regardless of whether his or her religion is known or not.

  Not only does this stop awkward encounters, but it also shows that other holidays and religions are accepted. When somebody says “Happy Holidays,” it shows that he or she is making an effort no to offend anyone.

  To many, it may seem ridiculous that people are offended when their holidays are ignored. In order to understand their feelings, it’s important to step into their shoes; how would it feel to essentially be ignored during the holiday season? There’s so much hype over Christmas that nobody pays attention to other holidays.

  Some people still believe others shouldn’t make a fuss if their holidays aren’t widely acknowledged. The fact of the matter is people do feel offended, whether one agrees with it or not. When somebody feels this way, it is important to make him or her feel comfortable; whether one thinks he or she is overreacting is a different issue that shouldn’t matter.

  Essentially, it comes down to this: it’s important to make the largest number of people feel as appreciated as possible. Without being politically correct around the holidays, it’s impossible to do. By putting aside personal opinions and acknowledging other religions, the holidays will be a happier time for everyone.

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Former JV track team advances to varsity

After two years as a JV team, the indoor track and field team will start off its season as a varsity sport.

By Kaitlin McDonagh

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

 After two years as a JV team, the indoor track and field team will start off its season as a varsity sport.

According to coach John Barbour, the goal when the team was founded was to eventually become a varsity team. There were no requirements to become a varsity team; athletic director Kelly Porcaro stopped Barbour in the hall one day to suggest it, and according to Barbour, it was easy to move up to varsity from there.

  Although Barbour is happy the team has moved up, he knows it will be a difficult change. “It takes adjustment,” he said. “My goals for the team are to compete well, make an impact, and to prepare to build.”

In order to help members achieve these goals, Barbour has planned for three-time U.S. Olympian Jim Ryun to help coach the team throughout the year.

  According to Barbour, what he likes about Ryun is that he was very uncoordinated when he started running track as a sophomore at Wichita High School East in Wichita, Kan. One year later, he broke the high school record for the mile under 4 min.

  “It shows that there is no way to find out [if you’re good at something] until you try,” Barbour said.

There is no prior experience necessary to join the track and field team; according to Barbour, everyone is welcome, and it’s a great way to train in the off-season.

  “Track is all about building, quickness, speed, strength and endurance, which apply to all sports and physical activities,” he said.

  According to senior captain Nate Jermain, the team will compete with schools that have a variety of athletes on their track teams.

  “All the other schools in the Cape Ann League that have competitive teams utilize athletes from football, field hockey, soccer, and cross country. I’m psyched to see how people do on a track for the first time,” Jermain said.

  Barbour believes track to be the “purest sport.” “It has origins in the beginning of humanity,” he said. “The basics of track is what the human body can do in its very essence.”

  “I’m super psyched for the track season,” senior captain Olivia Dumont said.  “We are officially a varsity sport and as of now have a good number of people showing interest, and we’re looking for more.”

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Is taking a gap year beneficial for students? -Pro

With the pressure to apply to college mounting as application deadlines approach, many students may feel rushed into making decisions on where they want to go. Although it’s natural to feel overwhelmed, this feeling may overshadow the fact that some students are not yet ready for college.

By Kaitlin McDonagh

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  With the pressure to apply to college mounting as application deadlines approach, many students may feel rushed into making decisions on where they want to go. Although it’s natural to feel overwhelmed, this feeling may overshadow the fact that some students are not yet ready for college.

  Taking a gap year not only provides students with more time to think about their futures but also presents several different types of learning opportunities. Whether it’s doing volunteer work in another country or taking a post-graduate year at a prep school, taking a gap year provides numerous benefits.

  If students are not mature enough both academically and socially for college, doing a year of post-graduate studies is a good option. An extra year will help students understand their courses more and better prepare them for college classes. Also, students will be better prepped for college life, where they are accountable for themselves and won’t have their parents telling them to do their homework.

  Post-graduate years are also beneficial to students who want to pursue athletics in Div. 1 or Div. 2 schools. College scouts often go to preparatory school games in order to see the post-graduate students play because they know these students are honing their abilities as athletes and therefore are usually more skilled than students straight out of high school.

  Another option for a gap year is working with a volunteer organization, such as Rustic Pathways. Students will be exposed to different cultures and ways of life if they go overseas, gaining a more worldly way of thinking while helping others.

  Another benefit of going oversees, whether volunteering or not, is that students will be able to strengthen their language abilities. Granted, going overseas does not include taking an extended vacation but rather really focusing in on a language and going to a native-speaking county to study this language further.

  Not only is a gap year beneficial in terms of helping students mature, but it also allows them a year off to explore the world, explore who they are as people, or both.

  From around 5 to 22 years old, young men and women undergo constant schooling. In this time, it’s difficult for students to find the opportunity to explore other interests and discover who they are as people. A gap year supplies them with this chance.

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Haunted House draws large crowd at new location

After debate over where to host the Haunted House, the senior class officers decided to host it at Centennial Grove in Essex, raising approximately $1,200 and drawing a large crowd.

By Kaitlin McDonagh

 INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  After debate over where to host the Haunted House, the senior class officers decided to host it at Centennial Grove in Essex, raising approximately $1,200 and drawing a large crowd.

  The plan came about when Parent Teacher Organization member Annie Cameron suggested the location to the senior class officers.

  “We had been talking about a haunted house for several years, [but] could not get it together. This year, we knew [the seniors] were responsible for this, so I guess we got to you [them] early, and [the officers] were willing,” Cameron said.

  “We were all a little hesitant before we saw the place because it sounded like a lot of work, but once I went with Annie to see it, I thought it was awesome and knew we would be able to pull it off,” senior vice president Molly Friedman said.

  According to Friedman, the school administration was happy with the idea, and it was easy to get approval.

  Seniors began arriving at Centennial Grove around 3 p.m. to set up their stations, which they signed up for in groups the week prior. In total, there were five groups of seniors with themes ranging from “cannibal campers” to “the deadly dollhouse.”

  During setup, students hung up sheets in the pavilion to mark off their rooms and spattered their clothing and props with fake blood. Students who had not signed up with a group brought scary costumes and were scattered throughout the park, where they would jump out at people passing by.

  According to senior Hannah Beardsley, everyone had a great time.

  “I thought it went really well. I think people had a lot of fun doing it and going through it. Kids went through a bunch of times, so that says a little about it,” she said.

  “It was a good way to bring back the old tradition of seniors putting on a haunted house even though they were not allowed to use the new school,” sophomore Dana Filias said.

  Although everyone had fun, one of the main problems the class officers encountered was organizing the senior class.

  “Before it was stressful not knowing who was definitely showing up and who was a possibility,” Friedman said.

  Another problem, according to students who went through the Haunted House, was the layout.

  “I wish that it was a walk-through instead of just a few different houses and you kind of just walk in and out,” Filias said.

  According to Friedman, even though there was some stress, she has heard nothing but compliments about the event and the students.

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