Williamson High School April Edition
The "Tea" Behind Tanning
Hi, it’s me again. And again, I’m here with my two cents. Keep in mind that this is just my opinion and it is your life so you are free to live it however you want. Judgment free. However, today I am hoping to maybe shed some light on and educate people on some of the risks of tanning beds.
It’s currently prom season and people are flocking to the tanning beds every day after school. They hope to reach that perfect, sun-kissed, tanned, glowing perfection that everyone strives for. But at what cost?
A tan itself, no matter how you get it, is technically a “bad” thing. Tans are cell damage to the top layer of the skin, the epidermis. Harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays are what causes them. Tanning is the aftermath of your skin being damaged on a cellular level, and that microscopic damage may ultimately lead to cancer. When UV rays hit your skin, it goes into “protection” mode and begins to distribute more melanin across the skin’s surface. Melanin is what gives your skin color; so a darker person has more melanin, while someone lighter (like me) will have less. The more threatened your skin is, the darker it becomes. And don’t be deceived. This “base tan” that you receive can’t replace sunscreen in protecting you. At most, it is equal to about SPF 3 sunscreen. Doctors say you need at least SPF30 to protect your skin from damage.
Tanning beds, however, are a whole new type of dangerous. They essentially shoot crazy amounts of harsh UVA rays (a proven carcinogen) into your skin for as long as you decide to tan. To put this into perspective; people who step into a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their risk of skin cancer by 75%. More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning, including about 245,000 basal cell carcinomas, 168,000 squamous cell carcinomas, and 6,200 melanomas. Probably the craziest one to me is that more people develop skin cancer related to tanning than smokers develop lung cancer. Not to mention that 97% of women diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 30 (a number on the rise) used indoor tanning beds. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, includes ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in its Group 1, a list of agents that are cancer-causing to humans. Group 1 also includes agents such as plutonium, cigarettes and solar UV radiation. Many countries (including Brazil and Austria) have banned indoor tanning altogether, while many others (such as Portugal and the UK) have banned it for those under 18.
If it doesn’t give you cancer, it may still wreak havoc on your skin. Tanning causes wrinkles, premature aging, leathery skin, and faster aging. While tanning may make your skin look “nice” and give the societally constructed illusion of being “healthy”, that is far from the truth. And you’ll probably be paying for it 10-15 years down the road.
Again, I’m not trying to shame you or judge you. I just feel that if people are making decisions with such possibly dangerous effects, they should at least be educated in their decision. If you read this and say “I don’t care, I want to be tan no matter the price” then good for you. I truly do not care.
In my personal opinion, the biggest problem here is the need to change your skin color. Yes, I’m pale. And people always ask me “don’t you hate being pale”? And my answer is and always will be “no”. Why would I hate being pale? It’s just my genetic makeup, just as your skin tone is yours. Who woke up one day and decided that we should all be tan and that being tan is the key to beauty. We all have different complexions for a reason and we should be proud of that and embrace that. Every year before prom people ask me if I will be visiting the tanning beds and I politely decline. Typical responses I usually receive include but are not limited to: “Are you sure?”, “So you’re going to look like…. That?”. “But you’ll be pale!” and a variety of horrified faces. To that, I typically respond “Who said that being tan would make me prettier, rather than my natural skin tone?”.
Why are we letting the concentration of melanocytes in our epidermis define the level of beauty that society sees us at? At the cost of the health of our skin? Rather than try to fit in, I hope that by reading this article you can possibly begin to see the risks you are taking to fit in the narrow box of what your peers see as acceptable.Whether we have a naturally high number of melanocytes, or barely any it really doesn’t matter. These things are quite literally skin deep. Embrace your natural color and don’t worry about becoming darker or lighter for anybody. Anybody who’s worth it won’t care about the pigmentation of your skin. Personally, I think healthy is beautiful no matter the shade. If you still feel the need to get that perfect tan, spray tans are a great (non-cancer causing) alternative.
Marturana, Amy. “This Is What Actually Happens to Your Skin When You Get a Tan.” SELF, SELF, 29 June 2017, www.self.com/story/this-is-what-actually-happens-to-your-body-when-you-get-a-tan.
“SiOWfa15: Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy.” SiOWfa15 Science in Our World Certainty and Controversy, 2015, sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/09/15/the-harms-of-tanning-beds/.
“Skin Cancer Foundation.” Tanning - SkinCancer.org, 2019, www.skincancer.org/prevention/tanning.
Venosa, Ali. “Teen Tanning: A Short-Term Decision With Long-Term Consequences.” Sun and Skin News, 3 Apr. 2018, blog.skincancer.org/2018/04/02/tanning/?utm_source=skincancer.org&utm_campaign=blog.
Our school recently had a new addition, the adorable Mr.Troy! Mr.Troy is the therapy dog for our school. He stays in Mrs. Murphy's room during the day. A therapy dog's job is to make people happy and calm them when they're under stress. Mr.Troy benefits our school by making test environments calmer and bringing joy to the people who see him. Therapy dogs must genuinely enjoy being around people, are affectionate, and need to be calm around strangers. A good dog becomes a therapy dog through a lot of training, particularly in basic obedience. Puppies can take puppy classes and when they get old enough, they can take the complete Canine Good Citizen (CDC) test. It is highly recommended but not required for therapy dogs to become certified. The dog can only become certified if they score 100% on the CDC test, which includes:
4. Taking treats gently
5. Taking treats from a stranger
6. Loose leash walking
7. Walking through a crowd
8. Approaching a wheelchair, crutches, walkers, or strollers
9. Friendly greeting a stranger
10. Behaving for grooming
11. Sitting on the floor with someone and being pet
12. Having multiple people pet the dog at the same time
13. The "leave it" command. They test this in two ways: Someone offers a treat to the dog and you tell your dog to "leave it", it must not take the treat. A treat is placed on the ground and your dog must walk by it without taking it.
The dog is graded on completion and reaction to each task in the test.
Mr.Troy is a certified therapy dog. His favorite food is pepperoni and sticks are his favorite toy. He loves to be pet and lives for belly rubs. He also loves to see everyone at school! Mr.Troy is social media famous too! He has an Instagram account (@mrtroytherapydog) which includes some of the cutest pictures of him! If you want to meet Mr.Troy, he is in Mrs.Murphy's room. You can visit him during your free periods that overlap with his. For more information, check out the posters in the halls!
The Science Behind therapy dogs
As you all know, we recently had a new addition to our school: Mr. Troy, the wonderful therapy dog.
So what are therapy dogs? By definition, therapy dogs are dogs trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, disaster zones, or any place with high stress. Therapy dogs are very different from other service dogs. Service dogs usually provide assistance to people with physical disabilities while therapy dogs comfort people under stress.
In addition, emotional support dogs comfort people suffering from mental illness. Therapy dogs provide many benefits to the people they interact with. Physically, therapy dogs can reduce blood pressure and heart rate as well as help with pain relief. On a social level, therapy dogs can improve interactions between people, increase self-esteem, and promote overall happiness.
Therapy dogs can be extremely useful in classrooms. By providing a happy environment and reducing stress for many, therapy dogs can make a school day more enjoyable and encourage positive development in the students. Not just any dog can be an official therapy dog. Just as any other dog that provides a service they have to be certified, thus allowing them to enter certain places with permission from the establishment. These dogs have to go through the proper training to become official therapy, service, and emotional support dogs. Although your dog may make you very happy it might not be suited to be a therapy dog.
Remodeling the Rumors about the Remodeling
There are currently some much-needed renovations taking place in our building. Teachers are clearing their walls, contractors are around the building, the front bathrooms are closed, and the cafeteria setup is different. The remodeling is currently a hot topic in our school and multiple rumors have spread. One day one thing is going to happen and the next day it’s not! I interviewed Dr.Avery to get the truth about the renovations to end the confusion.
This is the first major capital project that the high school has had in a while. There have been some minor projects such as replacing most of the furniture (desks, chairs, foyer tables, etc), updating the main office, adding the front desk with window, painting the cafeteria, and changing the cafeteria tables and chairs so they match. Even though these projects have greatly improved our school, they weren’t too drastic, or at least as drastic as this remodeling is going to be.
There is a long process for determining what is going to be renovated. A five-year plan is made after a mandatory facilities survey is conducted. Surveyors inspect the building to see what needs to be replaced and give recommendations. Then the principals, superintendents, and people of an equal position meet to discuss possible future renovations. They each have a “wish list” of what they would like changed in the building. The content of the wish lists are prioritized based on the needs collected from the input of staff members. After considering cost, they rank each project on a one, two, three scale based on necessity. For example, replacing the boilers/pumps would be ranked a one since replacing it would make the building much safer. New bathrooms would be ranked a two since the current bathrooms are old but functional at most. Getting new lockers would be ranked a three since new lockers would look nice but the current lockers still work. After a general idea of what renovations could be done, a group of architects comes in to make drawings and samples of what the projects would look like and then estimate the cost of each. The different projects are prioritized based on the estimated cost. The funding for these capital projects comes from state government aid and the district usually gets their money back for the projects over time.
There are a lot of different elements to the current remodeling. The classrooms in the front hallway will have an asbestos abatement. The carpet will be torn out and new tiles will be put in. Drywall will replace the pegboards, new ceiling tiles will be put in (some of the old tiles with paint could be saved upon request to be kept as a decoration, not a ceiling tile), and a fresh coat of paint will be applied to each room. During the school year, two teachers will be displaced at a time while some of the renovations take place in their rooms. They will be temporarily moved to either the library classroom or computer lab.
The cafeteria is undergoing significant renovations as well. The new cafeteria layout will look more like a food court. There will be hot and cold lines where students can pick up their food with a separate station for the registers in the middle. The dishwashing station will be moved closer to the doors so students can drop off their trays on their way out of the cafeteria. The kitchen equipment and freezer will be upgraded. New flooring will be put in (since the green parts of the flooring don’t match our school colors) and the room will be repainted. There will also be a door leading to the courtyard so students will have easier access to outdoor seating when the weather is pleasant. Also, if there is room in the budget, there will be a patio-like eating area outside of the wrestling room entrance. The dining experience at Williamson High School will be greatly improved since the cafeteria will look prettier and the lunch lines will be more efficient.
The bathrooms, drinking fountains, bells, and auditorium will also be updated. The bathroom sinks will no longer spray your clothes when you go to wash your hands! The drinking fountains will be replaced. The bells will be changed so they won’t shatter your eardrums when they ring. In addition, the auditorium will have new seating.
There are also going to be renovations outside. There will be new lighting on the athletic fields, the tennis courts will have some minor retouches, seating will be added, and there will be an actual press box instead of a tiny shed (more storage).
All of these renovations are exciting! Dr.Avery is most excited for the updates in the things that students use every day like the auditorium seats, drinking fountains, and bells. She is also excited for the pegboards to not be visible anymore because she thinks that they are ugly. The renovations featured in this article are not the only renovations that will happen, just a sample. Also, it is not guaranteed that all of these renovations will happen since plans change when problems pop up. Even though these renovations are an inconvenience right now, they will ultimately benefit us, similar to a home renovation when the kitchen is not able to be used for a while but it feels great once it’s done. These renovations will make the school look much prettier which will change the atmosphere into a positive and pretty place to learn!
Photo Credit: Erin Noger
The New Buzz around school
In case you missed all of the buzz, the library will be getting bees! We have a great bee committee who will be working to give the bees a voice but, we are looking for some extra members to help save the bees. We meet in the back of the library every Thursday tenth period so come and join us. If you attend WTCC and cannot make it for most of tenth period that is okay we would still love your help. There are tasks you can do during the periods that you are here so stop by on Thursday for the last ten minutes. Don’t let a fear of bees or being allergic to bees stop you from joining Bee Committee. The bees shouldn’t hurt you but if they do, Mrs. Moore knows what to do, so you will be in very good hands. The bees will not interfere with your very buzzy day.
Learning Health and Wellness Fair
On Saturday, April 6th the Williamson Learning Health and Wellness Fair was held at the middle school. The Learning Health and Wellness Fair is an annual event that brings members of the community together to celebrate the achievements and talents of our friends, family, and neighbors. Ms.Abdunnasir works very hard every year to organize this event and continues to impress attendees every year.
Back when I was in elementary and middle school, the Learning Health and Wellness Fair was a rather minor event compared to what it has become. The Learning Health and Wellness Fair has really grown into a spectacular event! It used to be mostly student projects, a couple of businesses, and the Scholastic book fair (where books and erasers in fun shapes were sold). Now the gymnasium is filled with booths for businesses, vendors, and organizations, the hallways are filled with student projects, the cafeteria with a wide variety of food vendors, and the Scholastic book fair upstairs! In addition, students perform periodically throughout the day, such as Odyssey of the Mind, storytelling, and select middle school band ensembles. This year select middle school band students performed in various locations throughout the fair, such as in the front hallway and cafeteria. It added music to contribute to the convivial event.
Each year high school students have the opportunity to earn community service hours for working at the Learning Health and Wellness Fair. Volunteers can set up tables the night before, serve as docents, and/or take down tables afterward. I always enjoyed being a docent at the Learning Health and Wellness Fair because I got to explore the event, talk to all of the vendors, and see people that I haven’t seen in a while.
The Learning Health and Wellness Fair was a success this year and is definitely an event that everyone in our community should attend!