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Title IX and activity equity at MHS

posted by Andrew Tichy

The sun sets on a MHS football game. Activities are a prominent part of MHS life, but how does the district ensure they are equal?
Photo: Grace Halvorson | The Spud

By: Grace Halvorson

Title IX. If you’ve spent any time in athletics, you’ve maybe heard the term. But Title IX is rarely discussed, much less explained, in our schools. And no, it isn’t just for girls. Title IX, as stated in the Education Amendments of 1972, is the law that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. It applies to athletics, arts, activities, and educational opportunities. Since sexual assault and harassment inhibit equal learning opportunities, Title IX also legally protects all students against them. It does not state that athletic opportunities must be exactly equal (ex. identical sports opportunities, such as both a girls football team and a boys football team), but equal support and opportunity to play for all genders. The NCAA describes it as “the equal treatment of female and male student-athletes in the provisions of: equipment and supplies; scheduling of games and practice times; travel and daily allowance; access to tutoring; coaching, locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities; medical and training facilities and services; housing and dining facilities and services; publicity and promotions; support services and recruitment of student-athletes.”

With the recent passing of Bernice Sandler, “Godmother of Title IX”, it’s gotten a little more attention, but still often remains hidden in piles of legislation and school handbooks. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to find information specific to Moorhead High’s applications of this crucial law. When searching Title IX on Moorhead’s official district website, very little comes up. It states that any new activities being proposed must comply with Title IX, and a short statement from the school board describing an equal education opportunity for all students. There’s also a lengthy description of the process surrounding reports of sexual assault or harassment. However, a dedicated page about Title IX is nowhere to be found, and there is absolutely zero mention of Title IX in the student handbook.

However, when looking at activities in Moorhead High, they seem to be fairly equal to all genders. So how does our school district comply to Title IX standards? Dean Haugo, the activities director of Moorhead High, has answers. He states that Moorhead Public Schools does it’s best to be mindful of providing similar opportunities in terms of activities and gender. He uses lacrosse as an example. “When our Booster group came to us 3 years ago to implement lacrosse they only planned on having a boys team. We informed them that we had no plans on adding a boys team without adding a girls team as well. At that point they got to work on creating a girls club team, which then put them in a position for lacrosse to be added at MHS.” He goes on to state that Moorhead pays attention to equal use of facilities and funds, so all genders have balanced access to practice spaces, travel, and equipment. Haugo reports that our district has not had any non-compliance issues with Title IX, and self-evaluates frequently to ensure equality.

Title IX is a crucial legislation to protect our students from discrimination. Every student deserves to participate in activities that they are interested in, and receive the same support from their school district as other students. Moorhead Public Schools is clearly taking steps to ensure that this critical law is observed. So, join a new activity or sport, because you can be sure your district will be cheering you on!

Spotlight Shines on Super Spuds

posted by Andrew Tichy

By: McKenzie Broers

Every week a student is chosen for Spud Spotlight. Spud Spotlight recognizes a student that has demonstrated Spud character (Kindness, leadership, growth, etc.). But many students have wondered how you can win Spud Spotlight. It all begins with an email, or multiple emails. In these emails are surveys sent by Counselor Maret Kashmark to all the teachers and faculty members of MHS. The surveys are not required to be filled out, teachers and staff fill them out voluntarily.  

The survey works like this: the people who choose to fill them out select a student whose name they put down. After selecting a student they write a short paragraph explaining why they chose that particular student. The surveys are then submitted back to Maret Kashmark and it is up to her to determine who is Spud Spotlight of that week. There are no restrictions to who can be nominated, it can be absolutely anyone.  

Last weeks Spud Spotlight was senior Carson Kitch, who was nominated by Mrs. Krystal Anderson. This isn’t the first time Anderson nominated Carson for Spud Spotlight. She said that she nominated Carson for one key reason, his overall growth. She has been noting his progress for about 10 years. And one of his biggest milestones was overcoming his being hard of hearing. Anderson made the statement that a great trait for Spud Spotlight is the ability to be someone outside themselves. She said Carson has worked hard over the years in order to fulfil his passion for music. Despite being hard of hearing he plays percussion in band, jazz band and pep band. It's inspirational to hear about someone pursuing a passion of theirs despite the barriers in their way.

When Carson found out about his being selected for Spud Spotlight he said the first thing that came to his mind was shock. “I was shocked that I was selected out of the…600 kids in the school.” Carson said. He also mentioned an interesting story about one of his friends reactions to the news. “I remember when one of my friends found out I was Spud Spotlight they kept on joking to me about it, and saying things like ‘no way! that was you?!’ and ‘I can’t believe that!’”. But Carson has taken the news in stride as he claims to see the nomination as something not to brag about, but something to acknowledge all of the personal growth he has put into his high school career. He said that in order to overcome all of his obstacles and achieve things he needed to “work his butt off”.

Even today he still works hard to maintain all of his work he put into not only high school, but his life. We can all learn something from Carson Kitch’s example. We should work hard if we actually want to achieve something, and to see something like Spud Spotlight as a chance to recognize progress that has been made. Humble, hard working students like Carson Kitch is what Spud Spotlight is really about.

Homeless shelters offer warmth during frigid winter

posted Feb 24, 2019, 1:29 PM by Andrew Tichy

By: Grace Halvorson

Clearly, it’s getting cold. We’re experiencing unbelievably frigid temperatures, brutal winds, and massive piles of snow. But after school, the majority of us hop in cars that (eventually) warm up, head to a coffee shop to do homework, and settle in at home. While we’re wrapped in blankets next to a fireplace, eating hotdish, it’s easy to forget how privileged we are. It’s easy to forget that as the weather gets colder, there’s people who don’t have a home. It’s easy to forget that there’s students who are walking the halls who aren’t sure where they’ll be sleeping or eating that night.

Homelessness heavily affects children. A 2015 study explained that 95% of homeless children experience neglect or abuse. While living in an abusive environment, it is extremely difficult for students to learn and achieve in education. Homeless children have lower reading and math scores, and are more likely to miss school. According to a study from the Family Housing Fund, homeless children are also much more likely to be sick, as half of homeless children are ill two or more times a month. But shelters in the Fargo-Moorhead area, and even the school district itself, have taken steps to ensure every student has a warm place to sleep. Babs Coler, the chief development officer at Churches United for the Homeless, explains that their facility has 8 family rooms. They also have a community center, which serves meals to anyone who comes in. Churches United recently opened a permanent apartment building called Bright Sky apartments. It has 43 units, all of which are used by families or individuals who experience chronic homelessness. Children and their families can turn to Churches United for food, support, medical assistance, and housing.

However, Churches United, along with other shelters in the area, are overflowing as the weather gets colder. Coler notes that there are people sleeping throughout the shelter on the floor, not just in rooms. But, Moorhead Public Schools is stepping in to help with brand new program created through funding from the state of Minnesota. Entitled “Homework Starts With Home”, this program ensures that every single child enrolled in the Moorhead Public Schools district has a home. This year, if a child enrolled in ISD 152 is homeless, the school district will pay for an apartment for the child and their entire family. This has been enormously influential, as Coler notes that 5 families have moved out of the Churches United shelter this year because they received housing. When children have housing, they can focus on their education rather than worrying about where they will sleep or eat. Receiving a home is life-changing, not just for the students, but for the entire family.

Coler is adamant that anything helps, and even a small donation can be impactful. She notes that the high school clothing supply at the shelter is very small, and often very old and used. If you’d like to help, Coler suggests donating clothes that “are actually cute and stylish!”. No one wants to wear an ugly, dusty sweater from the 50s. Other needs that the shelter has include diapers, baby wipes and formula; pillows, adult winter boots, gloves, ibuprofen, and space heaters. Community members can also volunteer to cook, play with children, or organize at the shelter. Let’s rally around our community, especially those experiencing times of hardship. It may be cold, but Churches United, Moorhead Public Schools, and community members are here with lots of warm comfort and care.

MHS send four debaters to State

posted Feb 24, 2019, 1:27 PM by Andrew Tichy

Four MHS Debaters qualified for this year's MSHSL State Tournament, held at the U of M January 18-19.
From Left to Right: Beth Teiken, Talia Williams, Claire Stoltenow, Tate Gilbertson.
Photo: Andrew Tichy | Special to The Spud

By: April Becker

Moorhead takes pride in many activities, one being Debate. Moorhead Debate has 3 main categories; Public Forum, Lincoln Douglas and Congress. Public Forum is two teams of two who take turns giving speeches and also question each others argument. There is a resolution that changes every month. Lincoln Douglas is very similar to Public Forum except it is one person versus another and the arguments are more ethics based where Public Forum is more numbers based. Congress is 15-20 people who imitate actual congress and debate bills to pass or shut them down and they get judged on how much they participate and how good their speeches are. Tate Gilbertson participated in the Public forum and qualified for state with his partner Talia Williams. Gilbertson says “It felt amazing to qualify for state, especially since I didn’t qualify last year.” The Moorhead Debate team had two others qualify for state as well, Claire Stoltenow and Beth Teiken both qualified in Congressional Debate. Overall the Moorhead Debate team had a successful year.

As enrollment grows, MHS looks to expand

posted Jan 29, 2019, 9:07 AM by Andrew Tichy

By: Isaac Leiseth 

Ever since Horizon West was opened in the fall of 2017, and indeed even before that, questions have surfaced over the expansion of Moorhead High School (MHS) or even the building of a new school. Moorhead High has 1,704 students as of October of 2015 (according to Moorhead Schools’ webpage) with roughly 32 students per class (according to some rough estimation). If you are a student at MHS, there’s a chance that you have noticed the symptoms of overpopulation: a teacher needing to find another chair here, a student without a locker there, or even just the extensive lunch lines and packed commons that comes with third lunch. And this problem will only get worse: on the same page that gave the number for total high school enrollment there was also a grade by grade breakdown of enrollment. If you adjust for the time that has passed since these statistics were updated, and don’t account for new enrollment, then you get some telling numbers:

Grade 3: 577

Grade 4: 516

Grade 5: 519

Grade 6: 514

Grade 7: 483

Grade 8: 448

Grade 9: 458

Grade 10: 445

Grade 11: 413

Grade 12: 459

As you can see by looking at these numbers, there is no huge influx coming, but the number will gradually increase. If these numbers hold true, then in 2024 there will be a total of 2,126 students at the high school, which is 420 students more than it school currently has, and represents a nearly 25% increase in enrollment. When I spoke to Toni Bach, one of the school counselors at MHS, she said that this year’s graduating class is a total of 447 so there is some variation from the numbers taken in 2015, but even with that there are more students coming. In short, Moorhead High is going to need a sizeable expansion sometime within the next six years, and most probably much sooner than that. Mrs. Back also said that no plan have been decided on yet to expand the school or build a new one, and once a plan is chosen “it will be up to the community to decide if this is what is desired and how to pay for it (ie., increase taxes...).” Finally, Bach stated “If those (an expansion or a new school) are my only options then I would vote for building a new one.”

Yearbooks are now on sale

posted Jan 29, 2019, 9:06 AM by Andrew Tichy

By: Emmie Fierstine 

The yearbook is something almost every school has but, is your yearbook awesome? Well, I know Moorhead High School has one of the most creative, fun yearbooks you will find.

Every year our school offers a yearbook class where students learn to take photos and put together the yearbook. Every single page of the yearbook is student made and approved by the yearbook teacher Denetre Stetz.

Yearbook is a class that everyone takes (or tries to take) because you know that you’ll have fun with Stetz. Each student gets assigned around 5- 8 pages they create with the pictures they took. Those pages vary from sports to staff. The editor they use is Yearbook student Cole Johnson says “On a scale from one to ten, on how hard to use Pictavo is, is a 1-2.”

To spread the yearbook around and to get people to purchase them, the class creates posters, signs, and they even speak on the announcements about it. One way they sell the yearbook is through their Instagram page. The Instagram page features students and staff. It lets them share their opinion on the school.

Most people don’t recognize the effort these students put into making the yearbook every year and making each and every yearbook different from the previous years. As Stetz says “buy your yearbook now!“they are available for purchase on PowerSchool pay for it and you can get yours for the small fee of $50 or $54 with your name. Make sure to order before May 10!

Somebody tell Shakespeare: Poetry is coming back!

posted Jan 18, 2019, 11:11 AM by Andrew Tichy

Spud Poetry speaker Thalia Christenson reads a book of poems while preparing for her Poetry speech. 
Photo: Grace Halvorson | The Spud

By: Grace Halvorson

Growing up, reading poetry from the textbooks in elementary school was often one of students’ least favorite things. They were boring, long, a little too wordy, and seemingly irrelevant to life, much less school. But recently, poetry has experienced a resurgence across America. Books such as “milk and honey” by Rupi Kaur, or “the princess saves herself in this one” by Amanda Lovelace are popular on young adults’ shelves. Poetry is an artistic outlet for social change, whether it be discussing feminism, sexual assault, racism, or other social injustices. In fact, according to the National Endowment for the Arts, the reading of poetry rate within young adults has more than doubled over the last six years. At Moorhead High School, the effects of this poetry resurgence are clear. The poetry collection in the library has exploded, and now offers many more options than just the curriculum books. Slam Poetry is another way poetry has been shared recently. A cross between acting in a speech and a poetry reading, slam poetry is passionate, personal, and beautiful. Check out poets such as Rudy Francisco to see some incredible examples. And if you get really good, the World Slam Poetry Championships are an annual event!

Poetry has also influenced the lives of many Moorhead High Students. Jonah Hanson, a junior at Moorhead High, competes in the category of Poetry on the Speech team, and holds poetry very close to his heart. Hanson says “poetry is a hoot and a half. It’s a fun way to express my feelings, it sounds pretty, and it makes my heart happy. It’s my creative outlet.” His three favorite poets are Rudy Francisco, Charles Bukowski, and Langston Hughes. However, when asked to recommend a poem to his fellow high school students, Hanson hesitated. According to Hanson, “Poetry is not all encompassing. Not everyone falls under the same poem. One poem can’t speak to everyone.” Hanson recommends reading any poems by the authors mentioned earlier. When asked how poetry has affected his life, Hanson replies “It made my words so much prettier, and I didn’t really think about the words I was using until I started reading and writing poetry.” Clearly, poetry has impacted Hanson immensely. Come to the Spud Speech Team’s Shut Up And Say Something open house in April to see more poetry performed by your classmates!

In the 1200s, poetry books were sold in apothecary shops, as literature was literally considered medicine. Later on, in the 1800s, asylum patients were encouraged to write poetry, also called bibliotherapy. Today, the “healing” effects of poetry remain. Many students report that poetry was extremely beneficial during times of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and grief. Hanson reports that many of the poems that he uses in Poetry during speech connect to those topics, and he loves being able to share those stories.

Poetry, both the writing and reading of it, has come back. Whether that just be because it’s “trendy”, or because of it’s personal mental healing effects, poetry is clearly influencing the lives of today’s young adults. Poetry is everywhere; in books, movies, inspirational quotes, and countless songs. So pick up a poetry book from our library (or two, even three!), curl up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and hot herbal tea, and enjoy!

Narrative 4: Promoting Radical Empathy in a Divided Society

posted Dec 8, 2018, 6:37 PM by Andrew Tichy

Concordia College and Adult Basic Education students joined together to participate in a Narrative 4 story exchange facilitated by Gina Sandgren (bottom center)
Photo: Moorhead Schools | Special to The Spud

By: Grace Halvorson

Empathy is defined quite simply: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. But, especially in today’s digital society, empathy can be anything but simple to achieve. All too often, we become very self-centered, focused solely on our own goals and lives. A study performed at the University of Michigan between 1979 and 2009 found a drop of nearly 40% in empathy in college students over those 30 years. This lack of empathy can have serious negative effects, considering many believe that empathy is essential to leadership, relationships, and teamwork. Richard S. Wellins, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Development Dimensions International, says that the correlation between a good leader and a high level of empathy is stronger than any skill.

So, shouldn’t we be worried about these declining levels of empathy in our young leaders? The answer is yes. But some people, more specifically some programs, have stepped up to build empathy today. Narrative 4 is a program that was started in June of 2012. At its most basic description, it is a story exchange. Participants are paired up, and asked to share their stories with each other. Their stories can be their life stories, meaningful experiences that they’ve had, or anything else that feels significant to who they are. The N4 facilitator packet notes that stories can be funny or challenging, but the program’s research suggests that people often get more out of the experience if they share more challenging stories. Then, once the participants have had time to internalize their partner’s story, they share their partner’s story to the group. But there’s a catch: the stories are shared in the first person. This slight change in point of view has enormous effect. Quite simply, it puts you directly into your partner’s shoes. Clearly, this experience is entirely connected to empathy and relationship-building, along with tolerance and many other crucial traits for today’s society.

Concordia College, in Moorhead, Minn., is a partner of N4. Recently, Concordia students met with Moorhead’s Adult Basic Education classes to participate in a N4 story exchange. Gina Sandgren facilitated this session. She talks about how important these discussions are. “It’s so important to figure out different ways to bridge these divides. We need to try to understand each other, even if we don’t agree. It’s breaking down those stereotypes”, she says, commenting on how divided our society can be in today’s political climates. In the Adult Basic Education session, there was a bit of a language barrier as not all of the participants were native English speakers. But in N4, the discussion is reciprocal. “A lot of times, especially because we have a fair amount of refugees and new Americans that live in our community, lots of people are interested in their story and how they got here, so we ask them that question and we learn from them.” But Sandgren notes that we often times don’t reciprocate that vulnerability and giving. In N4, the courageous sharing goes both ways. Both sides share equally, and both sides gain new perspective. “For a lot of refugees, it’s equally a stereotype of us that our lives are perfect. But that isn’t without hardship. While they’re very different stories, there’s always something. Some immigrants have walked away and said ‘that was really helpful! I have a new understanding of what you Americans have gone through, and it’s certainly not just perfect and easy’.  With N4, the exchange goes both ways” Narrative 4 is creating safe, caring, “trust circles” for conversations to promote radical empathy and understanding.

In a society that so often discounts empathy, programs such as Narrative 4 are crucial to helping our future leaders build this trait. Empathy isn’t just a feeling, it’s a choice to actively connect to how others feel. It’s something we need to practice. N4 can be life-changing, and as Sandgren notes, “you can’t help but be in a different place afterwards. I was moved to action”.

First-Time voters’ excitement grows as midterms approach

posted Nov 4, 2018, 2:18 PM by Andrew Tichy

People gathered near the front of the stage hours before the start of the March for Our Lives rally Saturday in Washington. Salwan Georges | The Washington Post

By: Grace Halvorson

For most high school students November 6th is just another dreary fall-winter Tuesday. But, for some seniors, this frigid and gloomy day could be a major life milestone. November 6th, 2018, also known as Election Day. The opportunity to vote on our political leaders and issues is a privilege not granted until the age of 18, so only some seniors will be able to vote in this election. But of those, the percentage that actually do vote will probably be even smaller. In 2014, the last midterm election, less than 20% of people ages 19-29 voted. However, this year there may be a change. Looking around the country, there has been an uprising of political activation in the young Generation Z. More and more teens, and even children, have been using their voices to speak out on issues they care about. One prominent example is March for Our Lives, which took place in March. Moorhead High School participated, and over 80% of the student body filled the main gym. This enthusiasm has continued, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Even though the midterms are frequently considered less important by the general public, there are many campaigns in place around the country encouraging people to vote. Many of these campaigns are targeted to young people, as many political leaders and organizations have realized the significant influence that the next generation of leaders will have on our society. President Obama has created videos that appear on Snapchat, the March For Our Lives group launched a Vote For Our Lives campaign to promote creative ways for young people to get involved, and signs can be found everywhere telling people that their vote matters.

And their vote definitely does matter - this midterm election will determine majorities in the House and Senate, and some races are very close. Many students understand that voting is imperative, and are ready to step up to make their voices heard. Katie Staiger, a Moorhead senior, commented on her excitement to vote, saying brightly, “I’m so ready to vote!” Staiger is a very involved, intelligent, and confident member of the student body. She says that upon turning 18, registering to vote was one of the very first things that she did. “I want to get in there and make a difference! It’s so important.” Upon being asked about how educated on the ballot she was, she paused. “Locally [she’s informed], but not really on the state or national level. I definitely want to look into it more before I vote.” Clearly, Staiger will be an enthusiastic voter.

Matt Malusky is another Moorhead senior about to vote for the first time. He’s in the school musical, Newsies, so he won’t be able to make it to a polling site because of a busy rehearsal schedule. But he won’t let that stop him. “My absentee ballot is in the mail!”, he says. Malusky isn’t quite as enthusiastic as Staiger, considering he rates himself a 5 out of 10 on the “voting excitement scale”, but he’s ready nonetheless to vote on issues that are important to him. Malusky comments on his peers’ excitement to vote. “My friends who are 18 don’t really care, but we’re all going to vote anyways” Though this statement may make the students seem less than politically engaged, in the past many students simply haven’t voted. The fact that these students will be voting, even though they may not be as excited as students like Staiger, is a sign of a change in mentality in our society. Voting is gaining renewed importance, and the campaigns around the country seem to be having an impact. Many studies have shown that the elections can change dramatically when influenced by young people, and many students are ready to make their voices heard.

"Old" Commons gets new seating

posted Nov 4, 2018, 1:33 PM by Andrew Tichy

By: Ellie Rehder

If you’ve have been to Moorhead High, since the beginning of the school year and walked through the Main Commons, also known as the “Old Commons” or “OC” to the students, you would’ve noticed there were no chairs, benches, tables or anywhere to sit or congregate at. Just recently the school has gotten a number of booths and high top tables for students to sit, do homework and eat at. Many of the students from the beginning of the year, when it was still unknown if we were getting furniture or not, complained about getting rid of the oh so famous stone benches we’d had for a number of years before now. The benches were long, wide and very strong.

“I think it’s cool, I think it’s hip, and I think it gives you a place to sit somewhere outside of the lunch room,” said MHS junior Princess York. York, who recently transferred to Moorhead from Fargo Davies, also talked about if it were her decision, she would’ve added more of the booths and tables because of the number of students in our school.

When asked if it would be the first thing she would add to our school, York said, “It would not be the first on my list of things to add, in my mind it isn’t a requirement.” York also feels that school funding should either go towards other things like our sports uniforms, specifically track and field. The other option Princess see’s fit is finding more furniture for less money, “As cool as the chairs and stuff are, we need more of them….and I’m guessing the reason they didn’t order more is because it is on the more expensive side.”

Deline Omer, Moorhead high junior, had a very different opinion than York.

“I feel that furniture in the old commons is necessary but I like the old benches better,” said Omer. She also said that she wished they would’ve gotten something a little more modern looking to give the school a face lift. Along with modernizing the school she wishes the furniture was less crammed together in one spot so everyone would feel comfortable and not as if they’re sitting in someone's personal space. Omer doesn’t agree with the schools choice to use the school money on furniture at this moment.

“I believe the schools funding should go to something different right now, like more class options, more space for classrooms, better lunches and making sure the schools is a safe and clean environment.”

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