The Flyer

Sycamore Junior High School

April 2016

Introducing our new Flyer logo!

Designed and hand drawn by Dahlia Wang, 8.
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Your turn!

Calling all Sycamore Junior High students and staff! To commemorate the end of our school year, and the last edition of this year’s Flyer, we’d like to invite you all to participate in the writing of our entire final edition of The Flyer. We want you to send in short messages about this past school year! Please tell us about:

  • a favorite memory about SJH

  • what you’re looking forward to for the summer or at the high school

  • notes and best wishes to teachers or friends

  • favorite teachers

  • best advice to rising 8th graders

  • include your favorite photos of this past school year

We ask you to keep it nice, light, and positive. To get your messages to us, send them to the Flyer at, or give them to Ms. Carter in the media center, or any Flyer staff member. We look forward to reading them and putting them in our final edition! Thank you!

School News

Testing torture: What's the point?

The months of March and April have been stressful for many students. From SLO testing in classes to MAP and AIR tests, these past few weeks have been busy. Many students may wonder why we have to take these tests in the first place. To discover the answer to this question, I spoke with one of the the junior high’s assistant principals, Mr. Davis.

Mr. Davis revealed that the assessments are used to “make sure a student is learning and progressing throughout the school year.” The results from each test are examined very closely to make sure what is being taught is helping students learn. They also provide information that determines a student’s individual needs. As for the tests individually, the MAP test directly affects students the most. These scores determine which classes a student can take in the upcoming year. MAP also allows educators to know if students need more support or enrichment. Our school district chooses to administer the tests, even though they are not required.

On the other hand, the AIR test is required by the state of Ohio. Although sometimes painful to take, the AIR test provides important information that is essential to the growth of our school district as a whole. The AIR shows how Sycamore Community School District is doing in comparison to other school districts. Additionally, it allows the school to know how well students have grasped the curriculum being taught. Since the assessment is based on Common Core, or what teachers are required by the state of Ohio to teach, educators can reinforce or change their methods of teaching certain topics based on areas where the students did well or poorly on the test.

Lastly, the SLO test is also required by the state of Ohio. SLO stands for Student Learning Objective. Although the AIR and MAP tests assess skills in Language Arts and Math, they don’t assess students in other classes. This is where the SLO comes in. The SLO lets educators know how much students are learning in classes other than the ones tested by the AIR and MAP. It is taken at the end and beginning of the year to evaluate student growth.

Although standardized tests are not enjoyable for students (or teachers), they are beneficial to our school because they show the quality of the education at Sycamore, as well as provide data to allow more support for our students. Students should always perform the best that they can on these tests in order to provide the most accurate data.

Allison McElroy 7

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Pop Tab Contest 2016

In March, while the college basketball March Madness was in full swing, Sycamore Junior High began our own annual March Madness, the Pop Tab Tournament. The first bell classes completed against each other in brackets, where half of the contestants were eliminated every round. The goal was to collect as many pop tabs as possible. After each round, the remaining teams could bribe the classes that were cut for their pop tabs with parties, donuts, and more!

The competition was sponsored by our student council and it supports The Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House is a charity with many branches around the country, but our pop tabs will be supporting the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Cincinnati. The mission of this organization is to provide a place to stay for the families with sick children in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital that don’t have a home nearby.

Congratulations to the 1st bell classes of Miles/Craver and Stein. These first bell classes advanced to the 2016 Pop Tab Tournament Finals. Sycamore Junior High has collected over 800,000 pop tabs which is quite an accomplishment.

Editorial Staff

Mrs. Zelvy : Backpack Rules

We were wondering why students are prohibited from carrying backpacks in the halls. So, we interviewed Mrs. Zelvy, the 8th grade vice principal, about the reasons for this rule. Many people believe this rule is to prevent students from hiding prohibited objects in them. However, she says this is untrue.

Mrs. Zelvy reminded us of the high concentration of students in the hallways at Sycamore Junior High, and the smaller size of our halls compared to other schools. If everyone had a backpack, then there would be less room, making the hallways much more crowded. Additionally, someone wearing a backpack could possibly harm others in their vicinity. As an example, if a student with a heavy backpack turned quickly he or she could hit someone near them.

By: Athena Eborall 8 and Marc Filippelli 8

World News

What is the Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is a deadly disease for young infants and like the common cold for young adults. Many are unsure what the cause of Zika is and its many effects. Some citizens who are traveling for the Olympics are concerned about their voyage to Brazil, since Zika broke out in South America.

Zika is a disease spread by mosquito bites. Common symptoms for adults and teens above the age of 18 are fever, joint pain, a rash, or red eyes. Fortunately, the illness is not serious enough to require hospitalization, and rarely can an adult die from the disease.

A surprising fact that many people are not aware of is that the Zika virus was actually discovered in 1947, and named after the Zika forest in Uganda since so many cases were in this area.

Unfortunately, infants and pregnant women are more prone to the dangers of Zika. Many women who contract the disease during pregnancy may give birth to a micro-cephalic baby, or a baby whose head and sometimes brain is much smaller than the average size. Since pregnant women who contract the disease may only experience flu-like symptoms such as rash, fever and red eyes, it’s often difficult for women to know if they have the disease.

If someone is pregnant, and unsure if they have the Zika virus, their doctor will conduct an amniocentesis and an ultrasound every three to four weeks to check for unusual formation in the fetus’ head. These tests and checkups will help determine if they contracted Zika during pregnancy. There is no vaccine for Zika at this time, but scientists are working to prevent the spreading virus.

Zika is not airborne, but when traveling make sure to take extra precautions such as checking up on shots. Women who are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant you should consider limiting travel to South America. Scientists hope that by this summer there will be a Zika vaccine in time for this year’s 2016 Olympics.

By: Mia Maniet 8

The very hard life of a battery cage chicken

Have you ever thought about the chicken on your plate and how it got there? That is a question that chicken companies hope you won’t ask. Most people don’t give it much thought. If they did, they might not eat it.

The lives of female and male chickens are very different, but they are both treated very poorly. Their lives mean nothing to the factory owners. It is especially tough for the female egg layers. Dr. Konrad Lorenz states that "The worst torture to which a battery hen is exposed is the inability to retire somewhere for the laying act. For the person who knows something about animals it is truly heart-wrenching to watch how a chicken tries again and again to crawl beneath her fellow cage mates to search there in vain for cover."

The fast food industry is notably terrible to their chickens,especially Kentucky Fried Chicken. According to Kentucky Fried Cruelty, KFC lets frustrated factory-farm and slaughterhouse workers handle live birds, so many of the animals end up being abused. At a KFC "Supplier of the Year" slaughterhouse in West Virginia, workers were documented doing terrible things to the chickens, things we can’t write about in a junior high newspaper. This was discovered more than two years after KFC promised PETA that it was taking animal welfare seriously.

Some people call this ill treatment of chickens the circle of life, or nature. Nature doesn’t do this to chickens, people do. Nature provides animals a chance to be an animal, to live the life of an animal, not entrapment in tiny wire boxes and the inability to move or socialize or be free for even one minute.

Sadly, Ohio has not banned battery cages like other states. They have just prohibited building new ones. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent these tragic occurrences: You can switch to a vegetarian lifestyle, buy battery-cage free eggs at the grocery store (the container will say whether or not the eggs are battery-cage free), or you could write a letter to these companies and the state of Ohio, asking them to stop treating animals poorly.

How would you like chickens to live?

Ella Wahlquist 7


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Cheap, But at What Price?

Forever 21 is the perfect place to shop for teens- It’s cheap, trendy, and they offer a myriad of different styles, but maybe it’s too good to be true.

The first time I went to Forever 21, I was shocked and delighted by their more than fair prices, but I wondered how these clothes could be so cheap. How can they make money off of this because they have to pay for the sales associates, the materials, and the people who actually make the garments. Well, the answer is simple: they pay the sales associates a little over Ohio’s minimum wage, $8.10. According to Glassdoor, a site that helps people find jobs, workers are paid only $8.96 per hour. The materials are not great quality (which any consumer can see after washing their Forever 21 shirt a few times) so they are pretty inexpensive, and the people who make the garments are more than likely not being treated fairly or even being paid the $7.25 hourly minimum wage required in the US. For example, Forever 21 produces some of their clothes in factories in the Los Angeles region of California and “One big problem in California’s garment factories is that employees are paid per piece they sew, instead of per hour which doesn’t always yield a minimum wage” (Hines, Huffington Post).

There have been quite a few lawsuits against the company about unfair labor practices. After a lawsuit in 2001 where “American workers complained of sweatshop conditions,” the corporation moved a lot of their production to Asia (Hicken, Business Insider). A bit fishy? I think so. The workers allegedly produced “Forever 21 clothing six days a week, sometimes 12 hours a day, for far less than the minimum wage” (Cleeland, Los Angeles Times). Another lawsuit took place in 2012 where five employees “seeking damages for the hours that Forever 21 made them work off the clock, and for the meal breaks that they were denied” (Hines, Huffington Post).

Somehow through all of these class actions and settlements, Forever 21 seems to stay unscathed. This is because they hire independent contractors who make their garments for them, and Forever 21 claims that they can not be held responsible for their contractors’ actions. Hmm… it seems to me like the company should know full well what these contractors are up to. Even if they weren’t aware at first, they most definitely have to know now, after all of these lawsuits. Though, are they actually changing the way they are producing their clothing items? I think the answer is pretty evident with their never ending cycle of lawsuits.

Now that all of the facts are laid out, you can decide: is Forever 21 too good to be true?

Maya Goldenberg 8

WiFi Trash Can?

"No littering" is a rule we've heard since you we were children. We also know the importance of recycling. So, why are they such hard things for us to do? At Sycamore Junior High School we have a recycling program in both the lunchroom and classrooms. Mr. Jones is the junior high representative for the “Green Team”, the Sycamore School district’s green initiative. We have plastic recycling bins in every classroom that are picked up by special education students about once a week. Mrs. Endreola, a special education teacher who oversees this recycling pickup said, “It was started so the special ed students could work on different job skills that they might need later on when they graduate.” Mrs. Endreola explained that it helps the students learn skills such as staying quiet in the halls and doing simple jobs, while also contributing to our school.

Throughout the world, citizens see garbage strewn around their communities. Most of us don’t care, even though we know we should. In the US, we have made our own systems for trash and recycling. However, in India, a pair of young entrepreneurs are trying a new approach.

These men are named Raj Desai and Pratik Agarwal. They are co-founders of the company ThinkScream, who desire to stop India’s trash problem. The two were inspired to do this after going to a music festival and noticing the limited Wi-Fi connection. “It struck us that we needed to come up with a solution for people to stay connected at these events," stated Desai. The men were also appalled at the immense amount of litter in the area. So, they came up with an idea. Why not create a trash can that rewards people for throwing something away?

Desai and Agarwal took action and invented a garbage can that gives individuals a code to access 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi every time he or she throws something into it. The bin costs about $1,470. The young men have not yet put their design out, but in the meantime are looking at other ways to increase the Wi-Fi availability in India.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have trash and recycling bins at the junior high that rewarded our whole school with free Wi-Fi? Although that will not happen anytime soon, working together to diminish littering can. If everyone did their part to do away with littering, our world would be a much nicer place to live.

By: Allison McElroy 7

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Meet Grace Berlier

Not everyone can find something they are passionate about at a young age, let alone pursue that passion, but Grace Berlier has done both (and is having plenty of fun doing so). She loves creating jewelry and hair accessories, and has decided to open her own shop on Etsy. It is full of colorful, polished, and classy, yet playful, pieces. So, how does Grace do it?

Q: What is the name of your shop?

GB: Simple Surprises Shop

Q: What made you realize that you have an interest in making and designing jewelry?

GB: “I’ve always had a knack for creating and making artwork. I started making shrinky-dink jewelry. The shrinky-dink jewelry is [very] different from what I make now. Now I make jewelry with real beads.”

Q: What made you decide to open your own store?

GB: “I love making jewelry. Ever since seventh grade I’ve been contemplating opening my own shop and late last year I finally did. Once I came up [with the design for] making the jewelry and hair accessories, I did research and saw nobody had a product like mine. It was then that I decided I would start to sell them on Etsy.”

Q: Have there been any challenges with opening your store?

GB: While laughing she says, “I haven’t had many challenges but I have made a postage error. I used the wrong stamp, but I fixed it.”

Q: In what way would you describe the style and aesthetic of your products?

GB: ”I would say the style is classic looking. Some of my newer products are more playful. My sister makes some clay charms, and she showed me how to make them, so you will see some handmade clay charms on my website.”

Q: Do you have any new accessories coming to your website? Do you plan on expanding your range of products?

GB: “I just added clay charms today. In the future I would consider expanding the types of products I sell, but for now I will keep on selling hair accessories.”

Q: Do you think that someone can be too young to pursue their dream career?

GB: “I don’t think anyone is ever too young [to do so] as long as they work hard and are determined.”

Q: If you could give a piece of advice to young entrepreneurs like yourself, what would it be?

GB: “I would say, find something that you are passionate about and go from there. If you are really passionate about something you will have no trouble working hard and succeeding.”

Maya Goldenberg 8

Alexander Hamilton!

You may have heard about a new musical called Hamilton. It’s a new kind of musical about one of our founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. You may not be into musicals, or history, but this is different. This is a rap musical. Yes, you read that right- a rap musical. This musical is filled with catchy rap battles, awesome characters, and fast paced songs.

Next year, the high school theater program is taking a trip to Chicago to see Hamilton performed by a tour cast. They are visiting for a weekend and will see The Blue Man Group, Hamilton, and enjoy a bit of sightseeing. Sadly, the trip is closed, so, if you have not registered, it's too late.

However, if you would like to be satisfied, listen to Hamilton! Take a break, relax, put in your headphones, because you can’t say no to this! Come on, we know that you are helpless, just give Hamilton a try! That would be enough. ‘What comes next?’ you might be wondering. Hamilton, Hamilton comes next! The world isn't wide enough for all these puns, so just go listen to Hamilton or you will be left thinking ‘What did I miss?’ Ok, I’m done. I hope I didn’t blow you all away with my references.

Bethany Brown 8


Just Like Kindergarten?

“It’s just like kindergarten” was one student’s reply when asked to comment about the new lunch rules. He isn’t the only one, because another student mentioned that “the kids at the elementary schools have more freedom than us.” Yet another student argued, “Our school’s motto is freedom with responsibility, so why aren’t we getting the freedom?” However, not everyone knows about the new rules, so what are they?

Dr. Rea informed me that “the only rule added is that students now must wait to throw away their trash” and all of the other rules were already there, and are now just being enforced. Some of these rules include using “library” voices, and not being and disruptive. When a hundred students were asked about their opinions of these rules, sixty-four students disliked the lunchroom policies, thirty-two students did not care, and four students liked the rules. Dr. Rea’s response to the complaints is that “If students are upset, the question at hand is "how do students behave at their own dining room table? Would they be acting the same way?’ There about 300 students per lunch bell, and if everyone was loud or did disruptive things it would be impossible to hear.”

She stated that “[they] are pleased with how it’s going, and will not be adding any changes” when I asked her if she plans on editing or getting rid of any of the new lunchroom policies. Other teachers believe that these new policies are positive, and will keep students behaving as they should be.

By: Olivia Lindsey 8

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The Flyer Staff


The Flyer Staff

Issue Five. April, 2016

Instagram: @thesycamoreflyer

Our staff includes thirteen brilliant writers, two editors, thirteen photographers and 850 student contributors.

Editors: Caroline Skwara, Dahlia Wang

Layout Editor: Lydia Masset

Cartoon Artwork: Ella Wahlquist, Allison McElroy

Staff Writers: Gunjan Bahri, Allison McElroy, Nikhil Gupta, Maya Goldenberg, Lindsey Brinkman, Marc Filippelli, Olivia Lindsey, Bethany Brown, Athena Eborall