The Northern Light The student news site of Portage Northern High School Fri, 25 Sep 2020 15:58:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Virtual learners experience school at home and in-building Fri, 25 Sep 2020 15:58:49 +0000 The 2020-2021 school year has had quite a unique start. With the pandemic still underway, PPS students found themselves learning virtually either from their own homes or from designated learning spaces in school (with masks and social distancing protocols in place). 

There are many differences between the two choices, giving some students different experiences than others. Junior Bailey Carlson is enjoying online schooling from home so far. “I definitely miss being in school and having that connection with teachers and students, but teachers and students make it fun nevertheless,” she says. 

Senior Rachel Church completes her virtual learning in the school building from the media center. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Church)

For some students, like senior Rachel Church, the experience has been far less pleasant: “I don’t like this new version of learning,” she shares. “I feel like it’s better to have it in person with contact because it’s much better learning that way.” Church attends school in the building, but there are no opportunities to interact in person with teachers. Online also brings the struggles of not being able to get one on one help right away, and not being able to ask questions if a student doesn’t feel comfortable asking in front of the class. While some students enjoy not having to go in, or get out of their pajamas, some are struggling with a bigger workload. “I think that the difference about online learning and being in school is the work amount,” says junior Grace Morgan, who is learning from home. “Honestly, I’ve had a little more work today while online than in school for some classes.”

With school being different than usual, some things are missing in the new learning environment. “I miss the atmosphere in school and just being around people and having funny moments in class and in the lunchroom. Good times,” says Carlson. “The only thing that I miss about in school learning is being able to see people,” Morgan adds. “If I didn’t have to go into school on a normal day, I wouldn’t.” 

The majority of students are doing at-home school, leaving the school pretty empty for those in it. “It’s weird to not see as many people because people are now worried and scared about what’s going on around the world,” says Church. “They are not sure what the future is going to be like for them.”

There is no telling how long online learning will last, and for some students, that’s alright. “I like being in-school a lot better, but definitely not right now. Online school right now is perfectly fine,” says Carlson. “I honestly like online learning better. I’m getting better grades and I can work in solitude, which I like,” Morgan shares. 

Families can stay tuned to the Return to Learn page for updates on Portage’s learning plan as the pandemic continues. 


]]> 0
The physical and mental effects of online learning Mon, 14 Sep 2020 18:46:37 +0000 Online school has forced students, parents, and teachers alike to make a tremendous change in their daily routine. Although logistically, video calls work well to replace each period of classes, they have a large effect on students’ mental and physical health. 

Nationwide, 29% of parents that were studied in a Gallup poll said their child is “already experiencing harm” to their emotional or mental health because of social distancing and closures. 14% said their child could continue online school a few more weeks until their mental health suffers. Online school doesn’t have the social element of in person school, which is crucial to students’ social and emotional learning. 

In that same Gallup poll, 45% of parents said that separation of their child from classmates and teachers is a “major challenge.” Junior Maggie Gross agrees. “Lack of physical interaction has killed my mental stability,” she says. 

Online video calls are socially draining as it takes more work to pick up social cues and not see people’s faces and bodies in real time. A National Geographic article explains that “a typical video call impairs these ingrained abilities, and requires sustained and intense attention to words instead.” This is referred to as “Zoom fatigue.” 

In addition to zoom fatigue and mental health issues, the 5 and a half hours of screen time during online classes in Portage Northern’s current schedule cause digital eye strain. The American Optometric Association recommends the 20-20-20 rule, which requires one to take 20 seconds to look at something at least 20 feet away after every 20 minutes of screen time. In that case, students should be taking screen breaks at least once every class period and the “passing time” should also be utilized for the 20-20-20 rule. 

After these 5 and a half hours of video calls, students have homework, which is largely online as well, and most teen’s social life and entertainment, especially when in lockdown, is based online as well. Comparing last semester’s online learning plan to this semester’s, junior Marques Hudson says, “It’s just school but online, I liked it much better when I could go at my own pace and get stuff done when I wanted to.” Junior Maya Vasudeva agrees, saying, “It’s a lot harder on my mind to be stuck at home learning instead of the school environment.” 

Of course, student’s mental health experiences are not universal, and some have even benefitted from online learning, like senior Mason Wice. “Online school has definitely made things harder, but it has actually improved my physical health compared to what I was doing during quarantine, and my mental health as well because my safety is assured,” he says. For others, online school hasn’t made much of a difference in their health. “My mental [health] hasn’t really changed, none of this truly affected me,” says junior John Brown. 

However, scientific articles, polls, and many students at Northern show that mental health, along with fatigue and digital eye strain, are not something to be taken lightly during a pandemic which places the importance on physical health.

]]> 1
Students adjust to online learning Mon, 14 Sep 2020 18:41:23 +0000 With the new school year starting, students are figuring out ways to adjust to online learning. PNHS students have the option to do online learning in the building or at home. Whether the students are in the building getting help or just doing it in the comfort of their own home, they’ve had to do some adjusting.

Google Drive folders are replacing traditional notebooks and binders in 2020’s virtual learning environment. (Astrid Code)

Everyone has different ways of adjusting to the online learning environment. “Some ways I’m adjusting to online learning  is just being patient with the technology and the teachers and myself nobody’s really done this before and we’re all learning so I’m just trying to be as patient as I can and not be late to my classes,” says senior Makayla Bolton, who is doing just online.

The students aren’t the only ones that are trying to adjust to this online learning. The teachers are having to adjust to this new way of teaching. They are used to being in class and interacting with the students but now they are sat on a screen teaching their students. “Sitting in front of the computer all day, instead of being up and moving around the classroom and directly interacting with students, has been a big adjustment. I make sure to get up away from the computer screen whenever possible.  It also is very quiet in the building, which is odd,” said English teacher Allison Grattan.

However, with everyone adjusting to online learning, there are going to be some things that are hard about it. “I’d say getting up and just having to get on the google meet calls,” says senior Kaylea Weber, who is doing online with in building assistance. Teachers are also having to deal with some struggles with online learning. “As a teacher, I have always fed off the energy of kids in my class. It has been really hard to adjust to not having students in the room when I am teaching. I must say that I really do appreciate every time a student is willing to turn on their camera or unmute their mic. It makes me feel a little bit more normal every time,” says history teacher Joseph Wood.

Even though there are hardships about dealing with online learning. There are also some things that are easy about doing online schooling. “The easiest thing is the actual learning. I feel like the teachers have done a good job of making it feel like a normal class, well as normal as possible because it’s still kind of weird,” says Bolton. Everyone is finding different things easy about the school year. For one teacher, it’s not having as many distractions for the students “There are fewer classroom management issues at this point (put your phone away kind of stuff), however when cameras are off it’s hard to tell what students are really doing!” says Special Education teacher Nicole Ailes.

This is not what anyone thought the start of the school year would look like, but it looks like #TeamPortage is ready to adapt to learning, no matter the form it takes.

]]> 2
Law and order is a losing strategy Mon, 14 Sep 2020 18:35:32 +0000 Law and order. Whether printed on t-shirts, declared in speeches or spelled out in all caps in one of the President’s tweets, these words have been front and center in the Trump reelection campaign. 

In fact, they’ve been a key component of the Republican party’s platform for decades. It was Richard Nixon who first utilized the phrase in his 1968 presidential bid. The nation had been rocked by a year of widespread revolts fueled by racial injustice, political assassinations, and war. Americans were desperate for stability and they found it in Nixon’s law and order message, helping him to win the election. Since then, the philosophy of law and order has been passed down through generations of Republican Presidents and with great success. 

It is no surprise then that President Trump has embraced it with open arms, especially considering that America is going through a racial reckoning like it did in 1968. What the Trump campaign doesn’t understand is that a law and order message won’t work anymore

America has changed radically since the 1960s. It’s even changed since 2016. To start with, the number of people from different racial and ethnic groups has been growing steadily. The United States Census projects that the country will become minority white by 2045. In order to be successful, political messaging should be aimed at reaching the increasing number of minority voters. 

For this reason, law and order, which is directed at white voters, won’t be as effective. Along with increased diversity, the GOP has to manage a shrinking base of white voters. More specifically, working-class voters under the age of 40. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in late June found that they are less likely to vote for the President than their parents or grandparents.  Decreased support from working-class whites could be partially due to the law and order message. 

The economic impact of Covid-19 has been particularly difficult for working class families. They look to the President for empathy and hope, but are given law and order: fear and panic. To win the Presidency, Republicans need a message that has the support of the American people. By embracing law and order, Republicans are driving away huge swaths of the people: people of color and younger, white working-class people. That’s why a law and order GOP can’t win in today’s America.

]]> 1
Let’s embrace online learning for the blessing that it is Mon, 14 Sep 2020 17:49:37 +0000 This year has been filled with inconveniences. We must simply adapt, accept, and move on. One of the inconveniences students are navigating through is the idea of online classes. It can immediately be said that online classes are burdensome and will never replace the connection within the traditional classroom setting. However, there are a plethora of benefits to enjoy about online learning before returning to normal school… whenever that may be. 

First of all, us students have a later wake up time than usual. Although there is no change in the time that school officially starts, there is no need to wake up as early as we used to. For online school, there is no need for transportation, all there is to do is freshen up, eat something, and perhaps finish up something before class. The responsibility to commute on a daily basis took up a lot of time, but now that aspect has completely changed due to instant arrival on a computer. Later wake up times initiate better rest, which leads to better academic performance as well.

Furthermore, there is not as much importance put on dressing up everyday. Many students develop negative connotations with school due to the amount of pressure there is for looking or dressing a certain way. Most online classrooms have an option for camera off, so now there is a lack of legitimate person to person interaction. There is less peer pressure to be overwhelmed with, so more focus can be put on understanding curriculum instead of outward appearance.

Finally, there is more class flexibility in an online setting. Google meet rooms and chats are so easy to use on a daily basis.  In this day and age, there are a plethora of efficient tools/advanced features that can improve your learning experience. Just by clicking a link or pressing an icon, you can instantly go from one group to another. You don’t have to stress about making it on time to a class on the third floor- while also making time to pick up necessary materials from your locker on another floor. 

All in all, it is important to shed a little light during a dark time. Everyone has their own dislikes and disapprovals for certain aspects of online schooling, but with every setback there are always some advantages that we unknowingly take for granted. 


]]> 58
B4 the Storm: one big celebration of rap Mon, 14 Sep 2020 17:36:38 +0000 If you’ve never heard the name Internet Money, now is the time to get familiar. The music collective led by Taz Taylor and Nick Mira is responsible for several of the biggest hits of the past years, with production credits on Lucid Dreams, Bandit, Ransom, and Plug Walk between them. Internet Money recently dropped their first full-length commercial album, B4 The Storm, and the results were spectacular.

The album gets going right away, with an extremely hard-hitting beat and solid lyrics from TyFontaine coming on the song Message. The album only goes up from there, with songs featuring a mix of more mainstream artists, and some relatively lesser-known talent. Songs like Right Now and Devastated, featuring Cochise and lilspirit respectively, stand side by side with songs like Blastoff, featuring two current rap legends in Trippie Redd and the late Juice WRLD.

B4 The Storm truly shows off Internet Money’s versatility. The songs on the album are done in a variety of tempos and styles, with high-tempo, high-energy songs like JLO (feat. Lil Tecca), followed by slowed down songs like Thrusting (feat. Swae Lee & Future).

At its core, B4 The Storm plays like one big celebration of rap. With long-time artists like Kevin Gates and Wiz Khalifa right next to newcomers like XXL Freshman 24kGldn and StaySolidRocky, The album features a versatile mix of artists, styles, and sounds. The final product is a triumphant album and an exciting official debut for some of the most promising young producers in the game.

]]> 1
Avatar: the perfect metaphor for Trump’s America and the fate of a culturally relevant remake Mon, 14 Sep 2020 17:31:06 +0000 In 2005, Nickelodeon aired the first episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which would go on to be praised as one of the most critically acclaimed, mature, and influential shows ever created. Meghan O’Keefe, writer for the movie and television news outlet Decider, calls Avatar “the rare TV show that hits every mark possible for the art form.” With great positive reception and a recent release on Netflix, Avatar is still being discussed over 15 years since the show’s debut, and it’s easy to see why fans are so passionate about the animated series.

Avatar takes place in a South Asian, East Asian, and Inuit-inspired fantasy world of four nations, each with their own distinct culture and arts. This makes for an exclusively Inuit and Asian cast of characters, who are not only groundbreaking for this aspect, but for playing deeply layered and intrinsically human roles. In many instances throughout the series, many characters endure hardships such as abuse, depression, grief, and even genocide — heavy content for a “children’s show.”

Despite being primarily consumed by children, the important themes that Avatar teaches are still able to be enjoyed and analyzed by adults. “[Avatar] teaches about poverty, immigrants, the price of war, the importance of learning how to overcome great emotional and physical obstacles, and so much more,” says sophomore Mina Koffron. “Throughout the show, the Fire Nation seeks to gain total control of the other nations, which doesn’t always work, because resistance is strong, showing the importance of standing up to injustice. But for the most part, the Fire Nation has succeeded.” It’s rather ironic how Avatar, a staple of entertainment for the quarantine era, can serve as a parallel to the current status quo in many ways.

“There’s this awful occurrence in Ba Sing Sei where the people are brainwashed into believing that there is no war and that everything is safe, even though many people in the city are refugees. This is similar to the America we’re living in because people have constant visible evidence of what’s wrong with the world and how things aren’t as great as their leader tells them to be. But even with that evidence, American citizens are brainwashed into believing everything is fake news if it doesn’t align with Trump’s lies,” Mina says.

Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the sequel series The Legend of Korra reflected back on their two shows not long ago. “The shifts in the world right now haven’t changed how I see both series, but I have been surprised just how troublingly relevant some of the political themes are,” DiMartino told Matt Patches in a Polygon interview published on August 31st. Though some of Avatar’s thematic connotations were unintentional – but fitting nonetheless – above all else, DiMartino and Koneitzko felt compelled to tell a tale representative of the people and cultures it borrowed from.

Recent social justice movements have brought to light an underlying lack of racial representation in film, and with a live-action adaptation of Avatar currently in production by Netflix, fans were hopeful that the remake would conserve the Asian ties to the original series. However, to the dismay of many, the creators officially announced their departure from the project due to “creative differences” on August 12th. “”It’s worrying to see the creators leave the project,” says Mina. “Netflix is known for its teen material where characters exhibit behavior far more intense than what is healthy for normal teens. With that, it’s worrisome that Netflix, in order to align with popular shows like Riverdale, will go against the fundamental lessons taught in Avatar and focus on developing steamy scenes between the characters.” According to The Verge, DiMartino claims that the live action adaption of the show he co-created “will not be what [him and Konietzko] had envisioned or intended to make.”

Considering the 2010 movie The Last Airbender (with a 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the lowest ratings for any movie ever created) cast many white actors to play non-white roles, Mina and other fans of Avatar fear that the Netflix adaption will not be able to make up for that absolute failure of a remake. “Not a single person [in Avatar] is white, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Netflix overlooked that important piece of the show,” she says. Many advocates for racial justice and representation remain hopeful that DiMartino and Konietzko made the right choice leaving the fate of their project in the hands of Netflix, but it seems the matter is very much a shot in the dark.

“For the brilliant creators to leave, the whole integrity of the show could be lost,” Mina concludes.

]]> 1
Students can still check out media center books for no-contact pick up Wed, 09 Sep 2020 13:47:11 +0000
Lisa Miller ]]> 0
Spirited Away Review Fri, 12 Jun 2020 15:51:53 +0000 Spirited away is an animated film by Studio Ghibli. Released in 2001 in Japan and

dubbed to English in September of 2002. 

The movie is about a girl who moves to a new town. After finding what her and her parents believe is an abandoned theme park, all three of them see a food stall with freshly made food. Her parents, being what I saw as selfish, took it upon themselves to eat all of it. Chihero, the main character, notices her parents have become literal pigs and is frightened. Running off, she gets herself stuck in a rut and must find out how to turn them back and get home safely. 

As the first animated movie I’ve seen, I have to grade it as one of the best in my book. The storyline is good, and the movement of characters is amazing. Even the moral of the story is good. Seeing Chihero progress with the story has made me believe in strength and hope once again. 


]]> 5
The history of the five main instrument groups Fri, 12 Jun 2020 15:50:29 +0000  Music has a huge place in society. From wind, brass, string, keyboard and percussion, instruments have made music what it is today. Many tend to overlook the progression of instruments through history. Wind Instruments can be found in early prehistoric times with cave drawings reflecting a variety of bone notched mouth pieces and finger holes. String instruments became popular in 2500 -3000 BCE in Mesopotamia. While Brass evolved in 10th century Egypt. 

           Standard classification of instruments, such as we know them today, came about in 1914. It is based on the acoustical properties of an instrument’s sound. Flutes, saxophones, clarinets and many more are classified as wind instruments. Therefore, these instruments utilize wind vibrations to create a tone. Some use reeds, like clarinets or saxophones. Others, like flutes, dont require them. 

Guitars, Violins, violas, and ukulele are just a few of the instruments that make up the string family. This means that the instrument is played by plucking, striking, or drawing a bow against the instrument’s strings. 

Brass instruments, classified as such due to their funnel shaped mouthpiece, have evolved from early horns to a wide variety of instruments. From trumpets, tubas, and trombones, Brass has been used to call/herd animals, warn of impending danger, as well as to create harmony when combined into a symphony or orchestra.

Keyboards, mainly pianos, are a huge thing when it comes to music. Many people who can play the piano find it much easier to learn another instrument. Some of the earliest pianos can be found in the 17th century.

Percussion instruments range from a marimba to a snare drum. What makes a percussion instrument is that when it is striked, hit or shaken. Percussion instruments are often utilized to help someone who is not at all familiar with musical Instruments. Once you are able to read sheet music, learning  how to play another instrument is simply in knowing what string, tone and others mean what note.


]]> 2