- Senioritis hit me right away, but I just couldn’t afford to slack off yet. As soon as I walked into school on the first day the realization that this was my last year struck me. Instead of this inspiring me to work hard, I just wanted to nap my way through the whole year.
- Senior year is not as easy as they say, in fact it’s been my most stressful year. All the graduates I’d ever spoken to told me that senior year was the year for taking it easy. They must have meant second semester because with college applications and advanced classes, this has been the most stressful year of my life.
- Every moment or event in senior year is the last one I’ll experience. Every dance, musical, sporting event, and pep assembly is the last one that we have the chance to be apart of. This means take advantage of everything the school has to offer and experience everything in this last year.
- Early decision deadlines are not the only deadlines, contrary to what most people believe. Some seniors rush around to get their applications in right in the beginning of first semester. These early decision deadlines are just about finding out if you get in before other people. It’s not too much worse to apply regular decision, which usually isn’t due till after first semester ends.
- College is the only thing adults want to talk about senior year. Every conversation I had with anyone over the age of 18 was about what school I wanted to go and what I wanted to do in the future. It quickly becomes exhausting when people care more about what school I’m going to than who I am as a person or how I am doing..
- Signing up for financial aid is a long, tiresome process that shouldn’t be put off for long. Make sure to do it with a parent and double check that all the information is correct. Financial aid is actually something that can help families and make going to a better college, more of a possibility.
By: Sam Dupree
By: Allison Ringold
With all the “crazy” going on, it’s pretty easy to get scared. According to endsexualviolencect.org, “one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.” While 25% of women and roughly 17% of men doesn’t seem like that much when presented with just percentages, it’s actually a lot. If one applies these statistics to the roughly 7 billion people on the planet, one could predict from those figures that 875,000,000 women and 595,000,000 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Furthermore, these figures don’t include all kinds of violence, sexual or otherwise, that occur in the world. A terrifying number of people will be affected by violence in their lives. And becuase of figures like these, it’s easy to see why people might want to learn how to protect themselves.
One of Pioneer’s new auto shop teachers Kenneth Lewis, also teaches a self-defense class through Rec and Ed. According to Lewis the class has been around for quite some time and since it’s start, “the whole point [of the class has been] to give people a safe place to go so that they can learn how to protect themselves; especially with all the crazy that’s going on,” said Lewis.
Many students are concerned about the rate of violence in our country and want to take action. Ayla Hoerman, a Pioneer Junior, is taking the self defense class that Lewis teaches. “I think it’s important to know how to protect yourself,” she said.
According to Hoerman, being able to protect oneself is important. “It’s important for everyone to know how to defend themselves in an emergency,” she said, “otherwise they risk a lot of different injuries, including death, in some instances.”
And, according to Hoerman, this can be extremely important for girls especially. “ I feel like it’s especially important as a girl because girls tend to be targeted a little more by stronger people,” she said.
And Hoerman’s not wrong. According to The United States Bureau of Justice, 551,590 women were victims of violent crime in 2009 and 101,050 men were vicitms of violent crime in that same year. This means that about five times as many women were affected by violent crime in 2009 than men just in the United States alone.
But that being said, everyone should know how to defend themselves. “It’s not only girls that get robbed or sexually assaulted,” she said, “everyone should take a self defense class even if they never end up in those situations.”
In addition to the benefit of being able to defend herself, Hoerman’s taking the class for the activity and the ability to outlet stress too. “I…thought that the class would be a nice way to add a little more active time in my week,” she said, “it was also a place where I was able to take my mind off of all of my stressors and focus my energy.”
According to the American Anxiety and Depression Association (AADA), 14% of people use exercise to cope with stress, which was about the same percentage of people who eat (14%), sleep(17%), or watch movies or TV(14%) to cope with stress. In this way, exercise does help people cope with stress.
Another reason one might take a class like this is for the enjoyment and making friends. Pioneer Junior, Annika Hockmann, said she’s taking the class for this reason. “I started taking the self defense class because I thought it would be fun,” she said. Although, this is not an AAPS class, it is a class that one can sign up for through Rec and Ed. The class is open to anyone, but it costs money to take.
Despite the serious material the class covers, it is a positive environment. According to the students, no matter why they started taking the class, they had a great time taking it. “I had a lot of fun! The people, both the instructors and other participants were great. We laughed and learned a lot. I believe it was definitely worth it,” said Hockmann.
The class isn’t just fun, but also effective in teaching defense, and increasing general awareness. “We’ve had numerous stories of people that have been able to protect themselves with the stuff that we’ve had in class,” Lewis said. He went on to give an example of a former self-defense student who found a stranger in the back of her car and called the police. In this example, the woman had found the man because she had walked around and checked the car like she had been taught to do in the self-defense class. What she had learned in the class might have saved her life, or saved her from serious injury, depending on the stranger’s intentions.
Thankfully, according to Lewis, most of the stories he hears aren’t as startling, but are similarly about stopping bad situations before they happen. “The majority of [the stories] are ‘hey I found a situation before it happened,’ and that’s the whole goal, is to stop it before it happens,” he said.
And the students taking the class are just generally more aware, which is extremely important to Lewis. “The biggest thing is be aware. And that’s the biggest thing to today that I feel that were lacking, especially today as kids start to get older because, even here at the school, I see so many students walking around with both headphones in their ear, even in class,” he said. “So my biggest thing is don’t cut off any of your senses.”
Despite the many reasons that students like Hockmann and Hoerman might chose to take a self defense class, they eventually learned to defend themselves and have fun doing it. And because they can defend against the “crazy”, it might not seem so “crazy” anymore.
By Larry Eiden
In 1998, two major events occurred that possibly altered our school for years to come: Will Smith topped the charts with “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” and Karla Hitchcock walked through the purple gates of Pioneer for the first time.
Since then, we have a different view of rap master Will Smith, but still greatly appreciate Hitchcock’s enthusiasm for economics and the warm connections she has with her pupils. “I love her!” exclaimed Junior Sujay Kulkarni. “She has a great combination of passion for the subject and a genuine kindness towards her students.”
Karla Hitchcock graduated from Michigan State University and majored in history with a minor in economics.
Mrs. Hitchcock initially taught European history however transitioned into the field of economics when the state of Michigan required it for graduation. According to Mrs. Hitchcock, relearning the material was challenging yet worthwhile, “I enjoyed diving into it (economics),” she stated. Hitchcock further praised the benefits of studying economics, “Economics gives you a language to approach problems with.” She feels it is critical to give her students the tools they need to understand “why things in our society happen the way they do.”
It is evident Hitchcock’s excitement to teach has affected her student’s eagerness to explore the world of economics. Sam Cain, an eleventh grader, explained: “Hitchcock shows students a new way to look at the economy.” According to Kulkarni, “(Hitchcock) gives you an understanding beyond the charts and graphs.” and “shows us the impact,” of economics in daily life.
Hitchcock insists that the connection she builds with her students creates the perfect environment to learn. “You must have a relationship with the kids before they give a darn about what you say,” she said. The base of her relationship originates from her daily motto: “Be prepared and not just lesson wise.” She strives to determine each student’s ability and where they can progress from there. Hitchcock elaborated “be a student, that is, to find your beginner's mind. Be curious. Want to know. I can’t imagine anyone nearing the end of their life saying ‘I learned too much.’”
As a part of her curriculum, Mrs. Hitchcock assigns a project each semester. The project aids students to recognize economic principles in our society. According to Mrs. Hitchcock, these spark conversations in class and expose her students to a new point of view. Topics such as the Dakota Access Pipeline, the incarceration of citizens in America, Bitcoins, and immigration have stirred dialogue in the past classes. Not only do the projects allow the students to present current economic issues, but provide an opportunity to reflect on topics that are relevant to your peers.
The economy is always at the front of the news. Many leaders must form a solid base of knowledge in this area to properly define the issues that affect our society. Hitchcock explains an economics degree can open doors to many different careers and offers transferable skills ,analysis and systems organization for example. All students should keep their ears and eyes open for courses that connect to other areas. For example something like the Economics of Public Policy or Economics of Public Health.
Mrs. Hitchcock is also the teacher advisor for the economics club. The club is comprised of future, current, and former students who will compete in the National Econ Challenge and test their knowledge of the subject. According to Hitchcock, “I was very happy with how the teams have done in the National Econ Challenge in our first two years. I am hopeful that we will get teams in both divisions into the state championship again this year. I think we have as good a chance as anyone else this year. We have some experience now, and that should help. The club leadership has a great experience and good ideas for our preparation. I like our chances. ” The economics club meets Fridays after seventh hour.
Mrs. Hitchcock obviously has the instinct and knowledge to transform what some say is a bland and boring topic into a quest to better understand our community and nation. Hitchcock’s enthusiasm and kindness motivates her students to dig into issues. She states that it’s about the students, and Mrs. Hitchcock wants her students to know: “I love being their teacher, and they’re important to me.”
By Adam Richards
Mr. and Mrs. Robinson were married over summer break. Shocking to all but pleasing to most, the Robinsons wed at Parker Mills County Park in August.
Upon their returns the Pioneer, the student and staff body was “overwhelmingly positive” Mrs. Robinson said, they were met with “surprise and tremendous support.”
Ms. Munson, now known as Ms. Robinson, and her husband, Mr. Robinson, have worked at Pioneer for a combined total of 42 years. Mr. Robinson teaches astronomy and runs Pioneer’s planetarium, while Ms. Robinson teaches economics and U.S. government. They are a great example of Pioneer spirit and have been so for quite some time.
Mr. and Ms. Robinson have seen each other in the halls, rubbing shoulders for years, and they have worked together in the Teachers Union since 2003. Their relationship really kicked off about two years ago when they started going on dates. Ms. Robinson admits that “I knew from my first date with the man, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him”. Two years later they were gathered with their close friends and family. At a beautiful park in Washtenaw County, under a pure blue sky, they became a team forever. They cried and the audience cried, but rest assured, “it was tears of joy” Ms. Robinson said.
The Robinson’s rocked the school with what seemed to be a marriage that came out of nowhere, when in fact, it had been a long, growing relationship. Everyone is happy for the newlyweds but some wonder how they could be together and under the radar for so long. Mr. Robinson explains that, “When you’re in a profession, often times you like to keep private life out of your professional [business]”. They know they have a responsibility to the school and its students and intend to do what is expected of them. Still some more fanciful residents of Pioneer may not be able to get a TV style drama relationship out of their heads when thinking of the Robinson’s relationship. But Mr. Robinson assures that “[they] never kept it sneaky. So if you want a relationship with silly drama and intrigue don't look here, go watch the CW”.
The Robinson`s obvious love for one another can not be questioned, though some may question if their relationship is appropriate for a school setting. With crackdowns on public displays of affection in recent years, students could rightfully be upset with a teacher relationship in the school. The Robinson’s see their school relationship in a very different way, “we know you conduct professional behavior, in a professional setting” Mr. Robinson says. They know what is expected in a learning environment and have no drive to challenge those expectations. The couple also knows that an adult long term relationship is quite different from that of a high schooler. “A fifteen, sixteen, seventeen year old still learning the ropes is vastly different” Mr. Robinson said when comparing the connections between the two different situations. The Robinsons are experienced, professional teachers, and their relationship reflects that perfectly.
In a world that seems perpetually torn with hate and mistrust, it feels like there is not enough love to go around. So instead we can take a leaf from the Robinson`s book and meet our better more loving selves. hope that like Mr. Robinson we can be the “happiest [we] have ever been in life” Mr. Robinson.
By Allison Ringold
Meet Pioneer senior, Chris Akey, some of you might already know him because he’s involved in so many things going on at Pioneer high school.
Chris is in Pioneer’s Symphony band, the most advanced band at Pioneer. This is no small feat as Pioneer’s music program, according to news.a2schools.org, has been awarded the GRAMMY Signature School Gold award a total of eight times, with the most recent award happening in 2015. This ranks the program as one of the best music programs in the country.Individually, Akey has also excelled in his performance abilities. For example in 2017, in article from news.a2schools.org, Akey is listed as receiving a “ ‘I’ (excellent)” rating on a solo performance at the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA)’s District Solo and Ensemble Festival.
In addition to excelling in his musical abilities, Akey is also currently in Student Council. According to Pioneer’s Student Council's website (www.pihistudentcounsil.com), Akey is serving as both the “Treasurer” and “Webmaster” for the Student Council this year.
Akey also gets high praise from his teachers. According to his math teacher, Lori DiVirgilio, “He is always striving to have students participate in school activities.” She goes on to tell a story about how Akey worked hard to get his classmates to participate in the Principal’s Cup last year. “You've seen him at Pep-Assemblies,” DiVirgilio said, “he exudes enthusiasm and school spirit.” In addition to his school spirit, she also said Akey is a good student. “It's a privilege to have such a dedicated math student in my class,” said DiVirgilio. His teacher in band, David Leach, seems to agree.“It’s one of the most uplifting parts of teaching to find someone of Chris’ caliber,” he said. Leach goes on to talk about how friendly Akey acts in class. “He high fives all of his DMC colleagues, he high fives me, he high fives people,” he said.
Given all of the activities Akey is involved in, one would think he would be taking a lighter course load his senior year. However, this is not the case as Akey, when asked to list his courses this year, Akey said he’s taking AP Physics, World Literature, Spanish 3 AC, AP calculus BC, Current History and AP Psychology all this year. Doing this type of course load isn’t very common for seniors. According to a New York Times Article entitled, “How Schools are Trying to Avoid the ‘Senior Slide’”, for some senior year isn’t as productive as it should be, and for Akey with all of his extracurricular activities one could understand if he chose a lighter course load.
So why is he taking so many AC and AP classes? According to Akey his motivations are clear: he wants to go to the University of Michigan. “At first I was thinking about not taking a science and social studies class senior year,” Akey said. “But then I went to the college visit for the U of M when they came [to Pioneer] because I want to go to the U of M, and they said they want four years of each of the core subjects and that they want you to do more than what the state requires...that’s what made me decide to continue doing science and social studies [in my senior year]: to make my application look strong.”
So while Akey is working on his college applications, no one knows for sure what the final outcome will be, but Chris Akey is a determined and involved Pioneer high school senior ,maintaining a high academic load, while also excelling in the arts and student organizations.
On August 31st, Pioneer Latin Teacher Douglas Julius passed away. He died suddenly at the University of Michigan Hospital. He is survived by his wife Jo and his two children, Gillian and Patrick. He taught English, Latin, and Greek in Ann Arbor Public Schools and will be missed by students and staff. Below are memories and letters from students of Mr. Julius:
Dear Mr. Julius,
I don’t really know where to begin with this so I’ll just jump right in:
I’m very thankful for what you taught me freshman year. I was in a bad spot personally and didn’t really care for school a whole lot and had already given up. I remember talking to you after I showed you one of my papers towards the end of the year. You told me how you noticed I was down, but saw potential in me. You reminded me that I had it in me to do very well in school and surpass all my challenges. You really revitalized my spirit and motivation for school which will help me my whole life.
The last time I spoke to you was the middle of sophomore year. You asked me how school was and when I told you I was finally doing well, you said: “That’s very good I knew you had it in you. I’m proud of you.” I’ll always remember those words and will carry them in my thoughts. Thank you for everything.
-Spencer Kufta, Class of 2019
Mr. Julius initially scared me. He scared me because he wasn’t Mr. Finch, the Latin
teacher my classmates and I had grown to love over my first two years of high school. Mr.
Finch’s chaotic and goofy approach to life and class were the reasons why we all had signed up for another year of Latin. At registration day for junior year, we were told that Mr. Julius, not Mr. Finch, would teach Latin class. Many of us were first dismayed, and then worried. Were we going to actually have a serious teacher? Would there actually be rules and discipline in a Latin
classroom? Was the most fun hour of the day going to actually be serious and difficult?
Thankfully, Mr. Julius proved to have the same ‘latin teacher spirit’ that we
all loved. He taught us a great deal about Latin while maintaining the laxness and
humor we had come to associate with Latin class. Mr. Julius continued the tradition of
occasionally supplying his students with donuts, and he also followed the tradition of
occasionally showing movies in class. Mr. Julius had a delightfully relaxed personality that
meshed well with us. He often wore Spiderman t-shirts to class. That’s always how I’ll think of
him. The last time I saw Mr. Julius, a few days before I left for college, he was wearing that
same t-shirt. Superhero movies were a big part of who he was, and he shared that part of his
personality with us just like he shared his love of Shakespeare or Cicero.
Truthfully, it was through the movies that we first got a sense of the kind of teacher we
were dealing with. The second movie Mr. Julius showed us was one which he said was one of his
favorites: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. This film taught us a lot about Mr. Julius’s taste – it was
a terrible movie, and for Mr. Julius the highlight seemed to be watching the rest of us,
agonizingly trying to get the theme song unstuck from our heads. I say it was a terrible movie,
but as Mr. Julius frequently reminded us, de gustibus non disputandum est, there is no disputing
matters of taste. The fun of the movie was in its crappiness. From that point on, whenever we
were going to watch a movie in Mr. Julius’s class, we never knew if it was going to be a classic
film or documentary about Ancient Rome or some other ancient civilization or something along
the line of Killer Tomatoes – a movie to which there was a sequel that we never watched.
Mr. Julius was a fantastic teacher. He understood the importance of fundamentals, and
how all knowledge builds upwards. We drilled noun charts and verb synopses a lot of times,
because that was the knowledge that was necessary to translate or parse Latin. But he was also an
understanding teacher, too. If we didn’t have enough time or weren’t prepared, we could always
convince him to postpone a test to give us a better chance at actually learning the material. I’ll
never forget how much we feared those parsing tests, even though we always did significantly
better than we thought we would, much to Mr. Julius’s amusement.
Mr. Julius always felt it was important that our class not just be a Latin language class –
it had to be a Roman class, too. The date was always written on the board in the style of the
Romans, we would discuss geography and history, and he would frequently “consult the gods”
when it came time to make decisions. I will always remember the exasperated smile on his face
whenever the gods seemed to favor us excessively, at the expense of his learning objectives – the
number of synopses the gods postponed for us was mathematically highly improbable. Mr. Julius
would get ready to roll the die, we’d start chanting “Six! Six!” and we would often get it. Mr.
Julius introduced us to great Roman thinkers and writers like Ovid, Vergil, and, his favorite (and
certainly not my favorite) Catullus. Thanks to Mr. Julius, I was introduced to aspects of Roman
writing and culture that I never would otherwise have been.
But to simply describe my relationship with Mr. Julius (or the relationship of many other
people to him) as simply academic would be criminally misleading. For most of my junior year,
his classroom was where I went to eat lunch every day – and I would have done the same senior
year had he not lost the epic Battle of the Classrooms. I started going to his room for lunch as an
escape from the cafeteria and the people who inhabited it, and Mr. Julius welcomed me
happily. That was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. About five of us got in the habit of
going to his room for lunch every day, and that was where we had more fun than in the rest of
the day combined. We spent those minutes absorbed in all sorts of crazy conversations. Some of
our best were: “Ranking the most attractive male world leaders,” “Attempting to draft Harry
Potter’s complete course schedule,” and “God is in Vietnam, and the devil in Mozambique.” Mr.
Julius would often join in these conversations, or at least express his amazement at our craziness.
We would also play a lot of chess during these lunches, originally drawing an 8x8 grid on the
whiteboard and writing and erasing every piece. Mr. Julius saw this, and the next week he
brought in a chess set for us to use during lunch. Just another example of the simple things he did
that made him such a nice guy.
Mr. Julius really got to know his students. He wrote letters of recommendation for a lot of
us, he arranged field trips to “Latin Day” at U of M, and he chaperoned some of us in Italy. Mr.
Julius really knew who we were as people. He was one of those rare and special teachers who
knew more about you than your grade in his class. He cared about your life, your successes and
your failures. He got to know all of our interests and quirks. He saw us as people, not just
students – people worth putting effort into getting to know.
I am really going to miss him when I go back to Pioneer in January to say hi to my old
teachers. I was looking forward to seeing him. He would have wanted to know how college was
going for me. He would have wanted to hear everything. He died less than a week into my
college education. I’m not going to be able to tell him any of it. That’s really sad.
Mr. Julius wrote a very nice note in my yearbook in our last class period together, and he
ended it with the phrase “pax et shalom.” Pax is the Latin word for peace, and shalom is the
equivalent in Hebrew. Et is a Latin conjunction meaning ‘and.’ He wrote the Hebrew word in
Hebrew letters, and I felt that his message and his effort really encapsulated a lot about him. He
made that message special, and connected it to me.
Pax et shalom, Mr. Julius. I will miss you so much.
-Zachary Bernstein Class of 2017
Mr. Julius will be remembered by his students for his extraordinary intellectual curiosity and generosity of spirit. Both of these qualities made him an exemplary teacher and a good friend. He had the rare combination of immense knowledge and complete unpretentiousness about it. For instance, when I mentioned to him that I was making my first stumbling attempt at reading one of James Joyce's works, I remember him replying matter-of-factly that he read Joyce's Ulysses every year, because he enjoyed it so much. He could have mentioned that he was "a Joycean Scholar with an award-winning James Joyce collection at Cornell," as I learned from his obituary, but the collection of titles or honors was never the point of learning to Mr. Julius. He was always driven by the joy of knowledge for its own sake; he appreciated awards and recognition only as outward manifestations of an inner passion for learning.
My memories of Mr. Julius are all fragments like that conversation about James Joyce, fragments that I've been turning over in my head this past week, trying to fit together into something more-or-less whole. It's a process a bit like restoring a shattered stained-glass window - each fragment shines a lustrous cobalt blue or ruby gold before the light, but no single fragment can make complete on its own the picture of the man I knew. I've been endeavoring to pull these fragments back together: the conversation we had in the hall last year about how promising the new Spiderman trailer was; the surprised and amused look on his face when, in the first week we had him as a teacher, my friend Thea tentatively asked him if she could call him "Caesar"; his utterly serious suggestion that we spend a Friday fifth hour watching a 1990s movie version of Captain America starring J.D. Salinger's son; his smile reminiscent of "pater Aeneas" at our delight when he brought us donuts to celebrate Rome's birthday.
One of the most representative memories I've fastened into the metaphorical stained-glass window is that of Mr. Julius's response to our National Latin Exam results. He presented individually in front of the class the certificates and medals his students had earned. He framed the certificates himself, out of his own pocket. He loved not only his subject, but also his students.
I feel honored to have had the chance to get to know Mr. Julius, as a teacher and as a friend. His abundances of curiosity and kindness are the grounding principles not just of a scholar and an educator, but of a good human being. I will carry him with me forever.
-Zoe Crane Class of 2017
I have had many teachers but none of them stood out like Mr. Julius. He wanted all his students to succeed and wanted them to take advantage of every opportunity. I only had him for one year when I was a freshman. I remember on the Latin trip we took to Italy and Greece, he told us to take as many pictures as possible so we could capture and enjoy the beauty in everything. He allowed us to stop whenever we thought something was picture perfect, I will never forget that.
-Omolara Clay, Class of 2020
Last week, AAPS lost one of its beloved Latin teachers, Pioneer's own Mr. Julius. I only had his class for a year, but I wish it had been longer. Over the last year I've come to know him as one of the most loving and open-hearted people I've ever met. He was generous and humble, reserved and wise, and incredibly devoted to his family and his students. I got to know him on the Latin trip to Greece and Italy this year, where we spent a couple of afternoons together. One at a museum in Rome, and one walking the streets of Florence. I have good reason to believe that the "accidental" extra tickets he procured to the first were no such thing. That's who Julius was -- he loved to see his students' passion for history, art, and literature; he loved to see our wonder and our awe, and he went out of his way to show us to what inspired us.
I've never read Ulysses, so I cannot offer him the words he might have thought most fitting. Holding him, his family, and our class in my heart right now. Discipuli discipulaeque Latinae, quod dixerit: sic itur ad astra. Vale Juli.
-Daria Chamness Class 0f 2017
Mr. Julius, our beloved Latin teacher at Pioneer, passed away unexpectedly just before the beginning of this school year. Mr. Julius taught at Pioneer for just two years, but he was a part of the Ann Arbor school district for countless years, as a teacher at Huron. During his too short time at Pioneer, Mr. Julius impacted many students, and continuously contributed to the community. He was passionate about what he taught, and was eager to share his knowledge and love of learning with his students. Ask Mr. Julius any question, whether it be about language, history, economics, science, or Spiderman, and he was sure to have an answer. Mr. Julius never made learning scary, and created a fun, relaxed, environment. Instead of tests, he administered FLAIs, Friendly Little Assessment Instruments. Despite his unconventional and relaxed teaching methods, Mr, Julius was an excellent Latin teacher, with many students receiving honors and awards on the National Latin Exam. At least five or six times in the year, Mr. Julius brought in Washtenaw Dairy doughnuts for all of his students. The occasion? A holiday only Mr. Julius would remember, like Julius Caesar’s birthday or the Ides of March.
Outside of class, Mr. Julius continued to enrich the lives of many students. He revived the Latin Club, where students discussed Latin, ate food, and watched movies about mythology. There were few in the club, and we didn’t do much, but Mr. Julius made an effort to make sure that we saw the fun side of Latin and language. In May, Mr. Julius organized a trip to the Michigan Latin Day. While others may have asked for a bus, or not gone at all, Mr. Julius and his students walked, parading down main street, toting a Radio Flyer wagon a few of us had converted into a Roman style chariot for a race at Elbel field. After Latin day, Mr. Julius took all 90 students out for ice cream, and despite the size of our group he paid for everyone. Mr. Julius never ceased to be a generous, kind, intelligent, and helpful. As we left his class at the end of the school year, we never would have guessed that it would be the last time we saw him. If we knew, there would have been so many things to thank him for. Desideraberis, Mr. Julius, and thank you for all you gave to Pioneer and the world.
-Helen Brush Class of 2020
Mr Julius was a teacher who taught his students not through lecture after lecture, but through captivating stories and topics which us students could easily relate to. His unique personality truly appealed to me and I thoroughly enjoyed learning from him, although it was only for a years. I can vividly remember all the strange movies that he showed in class, and to my delight, he actually showed full movies, rather than turning clips into a learning “experience”. On top of that, he never rushed through any material, and cared about each and every person in the class understanding it and unlocking their fullest potential in Latin. Mr Julius, I want to thank you for your time here, and your energetic spirit and passion toward learning and teaching will always be with us.
-Harrison He Class of 2020
HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGE A PERFECT FIT FOR THESE SENIORS
By Moira Dayton
With 428 seniors graduating in the spring, some of them have made the choice to go to a historically black college, including Nia Blair and Dea Chappell.
“I only applied to black colleges,” said Blair, who will be attending Tennessee State University in the fall. “I want to go somewhere where I don’t have to think before I speak.” Blair recalled that during some semesters at Pioneer, she felt a bit isolated. “I am the only black person in three of my six classes [right now],” she said. Blair added that in some of her classes through the years, she has not always felt comfortable, or believed her views were not valued. “For example, in group projects, I was given the easy assignments such as coloring, or emailing the teacher,” Blair said. “Some people just assumed that I wasn’t smart enough to do anything else.”
Both Blair and Chappell say that students who attend historically black colleges who are not black would see the world through a different perspective, just as they have experienced while attending majority white schools. According to HuffPost, one of the best reasons to go to a HBCU is because of their diversity. “Outside of black people, you’ll find all races on HBCU campuses. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t exclusive to just black people. They’re actually becoming more white,” the article said.
Chappell said she knows some people claim same single gender or black colleges can limit people, but she disagrees. “If black school [graduates] were unable to adapt to the so-called ‘real-world,’ then HBCUs wouldn’t be responsible for 70 percent of black professionals, one being Oprah Winfrey, who graduated from TSU,” said Chappell, who will be heading to that school in the fall as well.
Both Blair and Chappell believe there are many benefits to attending HBCUs, some of which include the diversity, sense of empowerment, and a first-rate education. Chappell said she is excited to get involved on campus, while Blair is ready to “get more armor” and prepare for the real world.
Blair is the 34th person in her family to attend Tennessee State. She wants to study psychology and perhaps get a Ph.D. “I want to go into television broadcasting and become a political commentator,” she said. Although her family has strong ties to Tennesse State, Blair said her father wanted her to choose a different school. “My dad thinks I am limiting myself by going to Tennessee State, especially because I got into Michigan,” she said. But Blair believes the school is the right fit for her.
Chappell will attend Tennessee State in the fall to study criminal justice. “[TSU] is a great fit for my major because my goal is to become a civil rights attorney,” she said. “Being at TSU, I will be surrounded by minorities who are usually underserved by our justice system.”
There are currently 107 historically black colleges and universities in the United States, 51 of which are public schools, including Tennessee State. HBCUs are located in 19 of the 50 states, not including the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. They include traditional colleges, medical schools, and law schools.
Chappell says that TSU is the perfect school to set her up for success. “This experience will prepare me for the real world through all of the community involvement and leadership opportunities TSU has,” she said. Blair said she thinks that rather than making her tougher for a tough world, the HBCU experience will actually make her softer. “I fight so much already being a black woman,” she said.
According to Inside Higher Ed, historically black colleges and universities have higher “elements of well-being,” such as social elements, financial, purpose, community, and physical elements. “Black graduates of historically black colleges and universities are significantly more likely to have felt supported while in college and to be thriving afterwards than are their black peers who graduated from predominantly white institutions,” the article said.
“This experience will allow me to spread my wings and become more independent,” Chappell said. “Overall, I am looking forward to a great four years!”
By Lia Bergin
According to researchers at GradeInflation.com, at Yale, 62 percent of grades were in the A range in the spring of 2012. That figure was only 10 percent in 1963. This statistic highlights the growing issue of grade inflation within the academic world. Grade inflation is when teachers assign higher letter grades toward academic work whose quality would have received a lower letter grade in previous years. This means that students get progressively better GPAs and letter grades throughout each decade in the American education system, despite not improving the quality of work.
Pioneer does not currently use a normal distribution curve (also known as a bell curve) for grading students. Within a bell curve, A is given to 10% of students, B to 10%, C to 30-40%, and D and E is given to the remaining 10-20%. This means that a letter grade of C is the most commonly given grade. To Steven Boyce, a Pioneer High School World History teacher, the normal distribution curve of letter grades is not applicable for a current AAPS teachers’ grading strategies. “If I were to structure my course so that I replicate the normal distribution curve, I would get sued and fired,” he said. “A whole lot of kids would get Cs and then they would scream bloody murder.”
In the US News article “Average High School GPAs Increased since 1990,” studies from ACT and College Board show GPAs increased while scores on the standardized ACT and SAT did not.” Boyce attributes the rise of grade inflation to high schools becoming more college preparatory. “As the U.S. started moving towards the vast majority of people going to college…then all of a sudden grades get really important. And the assumption is, I need to get above average grades otherwise I’m not going to college,” he said.
Shelly Zhang, a Pioneer freshmen, describes the attitude students have towards perfect grades. “The mindset now is that you have to get an A. There are mottos like ‘A is for average, B is for bad,’ and this shows that the goal has shifted from passing to being perfect,” she said.
Boyce says Pioneer has, in the past, contributed to expanding grade inflation. “No one [at Pioneer] gets in trouble for giving out too many A’s and B’s. Teachers do get in trouble for giving out too many D’s and E’s. At one time, this school kept a list about how many D’s and E’s [teachers] gave out. You can get in trouble for that,” he said.
Advanced Placement grades are also majorly affected by grade inflation. According to a survey by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, around 70 percent of U.S. high schools award students with bonus points for taking an AP class. This bonus-point system is essentially equivalent to grade inflation, where a higher grade is earned for work that might not have deserved it.
Some colleges have taken steps towards ending grade inflation. Princeton adopted a policy in 2004 where, on average, no more than 35 percent of grades given in undergraduate courses should be in the A range. This was not a rigid guideline, yet it allowed teachers some perspective on what a reasonable grading quota should look like. Some districts have little concern over grade inflation. Instead, they are worried about kids in the bottom grade percentile. “Within a place like Ann Arbor, the spectrum between the lowest and the highest students is so vast that we got kids cruising with all A’s and B’s on this end, with no effort, and we have kids who are struggling with multiple D’s and E’s and they can’t even keep up with that middle,” Boyce says. “The AAPS is not worried about grade inflation. What they’re worried about is that persistent bottom 30 percent that can’t get up to a C.”
Many say that the basis of issues relating to grade inflation is that students who are receiving the top letter grades are giving minimal effort and students who are in lower percentiles cannot rise to an average letter grade. Omolara Clay, a Pioneer freshman, sees two sides to grade inflation. “I feel like [grade inflation] is a double-edged sword,” said Clay. “It can allow students who are participating and getting their work done to get good grades, but if you don’t understand what you’re doing, it will hurt you in the end.”
Instructors point out that schools are focused on improving the grades of the bottom percentile and they disregard the rising numbers at the top. To end an issue like grade inflation, schools would need to reestablish the average letter grade, typically C, and focus on closing the widening gap between students who excel and students who fail.
By Yuchen Yang
Among all the hallways in Pioneer, D1 stands out with its brilliant and unique artworks leading up to the art classrooms at the end of the hall. The brilliance of the hallway has just been renewed by a new mural that is going up.
The new mural that will join the rank of all the other pieces on the walls of D1 is designed and will be painted by senior Corinne Griffin, a four-year veteran of the art program at Pioneer. The mural depicts an outline of the United States as well as Africa, and connects the two maps with stencil portraits of notable activists who have worked for equality for African Americans and for all people.
“It’s more like uniting everyone,” said Griffin, pointing to a fist in the picture that she says represents unity, and a banner spelling out “peace” in Arabic. Griffin’s mentor and Pioneer art teacher, Helen Bunch, says the mural’s significance is to “empower anybody whose voice is not heard.”
Griffin also hopes her painting will educate others. “If I can get someone to be curious and want to learn more about African American history, like, ‘Who’s the first black astronaut?’ I feel like I have done my job,” she said.
Griffin has been taking art class for all four years of high school, having been enrolled in courses such as Graphic Design with Crystal Westfield, and Art and Design with Ms. Bunch, but she said she has not publically displayed her art abilities before. “This is my first year telling people that I am good at art,” said Griffin. “I really kept art low-key before.” However, this year, she said she felt like she wanted to use her artistic abilities to express her feeling that racial minorities are not getting enough representation in society, “so, I just took it upon myself and asked what are the requirements of doing a mural.”
As it turned out, there is a process in place. “You have to give me a complete sketch, and you have to get it approved by administration,” said Bunch. “It also is student funded…so, it is really student-driven.” Before a mural is approved, the administration needs to look at “the thoughts behind it: whether it is offensive to anyone, is it expressive?” said Class Principal Kevin Hudson. “It should be impactful for all, and [should have] a definitive meaning.” Principal Tracey Lowder used the fist from the painting by Griffin as an example to demonstrate the guidelines. “The way I was explained to is when you have your hand spread out with five fingers separated, it is very easy for me to move and shove it,” said Lowder. “When you have a fist, it’s much harder. It represents unity of all the races.”
“And that’s what we call impactful,” added Hudson.
Pioneer is already the home for many illustrious and impactful murals. Perhaps the most eye-catching of all the murals is the underwater scene with a massive and vividly painted whale spanning the last one-fifth of D1 close to E-hall. The whale was done by a quite famous painter, said Bunch. “If you see the paintings [like this] that are typically in Hawaii or California, of these underwater whale scenes, very often it is this artist, Robert Wyland,” she said. Wyland has painted life-sized marine life murals around the world to raise awareness of environmental conservation. She said that after the artist painted the main whale, students then completed the scene. The painting was finished in 1998, and since then, there have been numerous additions, “averaging about one per year,” said Bunch.
However, she said she would like to see more. “I would like to see D1 covered by murals,” said Bunch, gesturing to all the free space on the wall. “Very often, students will come up to me and ask to do a mural, and don’t get past the planning stage,” she said, adding with a laugh, “You also have to be committed to the time frame: if you will only have your mural half-way up by summer vacation…and if you are a person who historically does not get things done, you will not be allowed to put it up.”
For Griffin and her mural, things are moving along. She is currently committing to her work almost everyday for an hour, with brushes and paint purchased by herself. “As long as it gets to the people I wanted to touch, it would be all worth it,” said Griffin.
By Natalie Prestegaard
While it may feel as though people hold all control over their feelings and emotions, particularly when it comes to falling in love, Dr. Emily Sportsman, Pioneer’s school psychologist, says there’s more to it. “There’s a whole chemistry to love, all of our thoughts and feelings have a chemical element to them,” she said.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, and is released when feeling love for someone or something. Dopamine is an incredibly powerful chemical. Dopamine deficiency can contribute to mental illnesses, Dr. Sportsman says, because “sometimes there can not be enough dopamine,” which can make illnesses like depression, worse. More positively, Dr. Sportsman adds that, “dopamine is just generally the pleasure chemical,” which is released, “during all sorts of things that provide happiness and pleasure, such as eating your favorite food.”
Jodi Bullinger, Pioneer’s psychology teacher, adds that when dopamine is released in romantic settings, such as through hugs, cuddling, and kissing, it is very powerful. “We get dopamine when it’s romance specific, and that feels really good,” she said.
Oxytocin is another chemical released in the brain, which Dr. Sportsman says is “associated with attachment.” These chemical reactions are primal and go back to an evolutionary standpoint.
“Oxytocin is something that mothers giving birth release…and helps to bond a mother and child,” said Ms. Bullinger. Along with bonding a mother and child, oxytocin aids in bonding with other people as well. Certain activities, such as hugging and kissing, can release oxytocin, often times building feelings of love for another person whether that is a child or a romantic partner.
At the same time, pheromones play a large part in attraction, and in finding someone to love. These pheromones are unnoticeable in daily life; however, the brain picks up these cues and draws people to others with certain pheromones. “There are things we’re not even aware of, like scent,” said Dr. Sportsman. “You’re attracted to someone who has a different immune system than you, and people can smell it.” From an evolutionary standpoint, this is important as animals and humans are more likely to have healthy offspring with a partner who is genetically different.
According to Healthline.com, there are theories that women generally tend to be attracted to men who are funny. For females in any species, it is “advantageous to partner with someone who is intelligent, and humor tends to correspond with intelligence,” says Ms. Bullinger. However, intelligence is not the only quality men and women look for. “In many cases we tend to be attracted to facial symmetry, but ultimately signs of health,” Bullinger said. This all goes back to evolutionary instincts, which humans and animals have, where the ultimate goal is to produce healthy offspring.
In general men and women have the same instincts when it comes to attraction. Subconsciously, men and women look for similar characteristics. Men may look for partners who are capable of providing and producing healthy children, and women may look for a partner who is reliable and will provide for a baby. Both men and women are looking for partners who are dependable and healthy. “It’s pretty much the same (between the genders),” Dr. Sportsman said.
While we may think physical appearance is the largest part in attraction, there is more hidden instincts that make us fall for a person. “We aren’t necessarily as superficial as we think,” said Ms. Bullinger, with a smile. When overwhelmed with a crush, or even true love, remember: chemistry and natural instincts may be responsible.
By Lindsie Rogers
Erin Harshberger, a senior at Pioneer High School, believes the dress code at Pioneer is “useless and sexist.” The dress code, which was set up to help students prepare for a professional environment, is doing exactly the opposite, she says.
“Community [High School] not having a dress code is preparing students for real life, where we’re not held by rules for what we wear,” Harshberger says when comparing the dress codes of Community and Pioneer.
Community High School has no dress code, whereas the Pioneer dress code consists of eight items, five of which are directed towards girls. The remaining three regard gender neutral items including hoodies, hats, and “sagging” pants. If a student breaks the dress code, they are called out and forced to change into clothing the school provides, call a parent to bring clothes, or are sent home.
On some occasions, Pioneer administrators have stated the dress code is enforced more heavily toward girls because a girl’s outfit choice could distract boys from their education. “Everything is aimed so that boys can get adequate education, and it gives the message to girls that they are just there to not be distracting,” Harshberger says.
Pioneer and Community dual enrolled student Khalil Eljamal has been exposed to both dress codes and agrees with Harshberger that Pioneer is not setting students up for success in real life. Eljamal says restricting the dress code makes it so students aren’t able to fully express themselves. “Never have I ever been distracted by what someone has worn,” Eljamal says. “There was a guy walking around at Community with no shirt once, so maybe just require clothes.”
Pioneer Principal Tracey Lowder says Pioneer and Community serve a different clientele, and with its dress code, Pioneer is setting students up for all around success, while Community focuses on each student’s strengths and aims for success in that area. “Community is a nice school…but we are [Pioneer is] preparing you for college and a career,” Lowder says. Lowder said he is working on creating a group of both students and faculty to brainstorm a new dress code that is both effective and agreeable.
The Huffington Post’s Lauren Bromberg reported several stories regarding school dress code and its effect on high school girls. One article, titled “Your Dress Code Is A Bully,” sheds light on the emotional effect of being treated as a sexual object. “By giving teachers the responsibility and the right to judge what is being worn, it encourages teachers to look at female students as sexual objects of desire,” Bromberg wrote.
A few years ago, local political blogger Mark Maynard interviewed Ada Banks of Community High School and Julia Hale of Pioneer High School about a petition they started on change.org to get Ann Arbor Public Schools to change their dress code policy. They received over 1,600 signatures just weeks after creating their petition. Banks says the goal was to eliminate the dress code completely from Ann Arbor Public Schools. “It’s really just an unnecessary policy, and Community proves that, in that they don’t have a dress code,” Banks says.
By Bess Markel
There’s no mistaking when Pioneer Math teacher Ms. James is in the building due to her bright personality, energetic teaching style, and famous sense of humor. When James thinks back on her high school experience, she has nothing, but fond memories. “I loved my high school experience; I had a great time,” says James.
James feels that part of what made her high school experience so great was her involvement in a lot of after school clubs. “I was a cheerleader for four years, I was a member of student government, and I was a student ambassador - so when new students came to the building, we took them around to their classes.” James also recalls a close knit friend group.“ I had a lot of friends, some of whom I had been friends with some since elementary school and some since middle. I’m actually still friends with them now.”
One of James’ most profound experiences in high school was her relationship with her math teachers. “My junior year, my Algebra Two teacher had also been my eighth grade math teacher, so I could not get away with saying ‘oh I don’t know how do this’ or ‘this doesn’t make sense to me’ because he knew me well from eighth grade, and he would say that I wasn’t working hard enough. Sometimes Algebra Two was difficult, but I would spend time with him after school, so that he could explain concepts to me so that I understood them.” James has followed in the footsteps of her Algebra Two teacher, and opens her room for help during lunch and during seventh hour.
James felt that her high school math teachers really opened her eyes to math and helped her realize that she could be great at math if she kept working at it. “I was a strong math student because I stuck to it; I wouldn’t give up on the problem, because I had to find out what the answer was. I just had to. So problems that took my friends who were stronger at math five minutes, it may have taken me five minutes longer, but I knew how to do it and I understood the problem, ” says James. It was because of her Algebra Two and Pre-Calculus teachers, who really cared about their students, that James really learned to appreciate and love math.
James always knew what she wanted to do after college. “I wanted to be a teacher since second grade, but once I reached high school, a lot of people in my community and my church told me ‘oh you don’t want to be a teacher because teachers don’t make a lot of money’, so I looked into other careers.” However, looking at becoming lawyer, an economist, and a computer programmer, James decided that none of them really fit her personality or interested her, so she decided to study teaching. James had already graduated with B.A in Mathematics, but she decided to go back. “I went back to college, got my teaching certificate and the rest is history,” says James.
James never thought she would wind up majoring in or teaching math, however she felt drawn to it because she loved the way it worked. “Nothing about the content or concepts of math change. It’s just the way you approach the problem that changes. Math is basically the same; no matter where you go in this world, two plus two is always four,” says James. She always loved how there are many ways to approach a problem in math, and that everyone can find a way to get there that works for them. “ What I like most about math is there is more than one way to get to the right answer.”
If James could tell one thing to her students, it would be to work hard to achieve their goals. “Set a goal. Even if reaching that goal becomes difficult, don’t give up. Try a different route to reach that goal. And people are here to help you, but you have to be open to their help and their criticism. That’s what makes a good student. Everyone has letdowns, but you have to learn from them and keep moving.”
By Gabriel Gurulé
Since Pioneer first opened its doors as Ann Arbor High School in 1956, thousands of students have filled the hallways and classrooms for four long years before ultimately leaving the school to make a mark on the world at large. Some of Pioneer’s former students have gone on to change the world, and have been immortalized in plaques over by the flagpole entrance on Pioneer’s new Hall of Honor. These alumni have been immortalized for their achievements in fields such as music, film, academic work, and other areas- but not every alumni has a new documentary to go along with their plaque.
James Osterberg, better known as Iggy Pop, is the subject of a new documentary entitled “Gimme Danger.” The film, directed by Jim Jarmusch, is about his time with the Ann Arbor-based band, The Stooges, and the band’s beginnings in Ann Arbor, as well as their musical experiments. But before Osterberg was booking tours across the country and being featured in a documentary, he was a high school student in Ann Arbor trying to pass his classes.
In 1965, Pioneer was as scrappy as it ever was. Among all of the students in the hallways and classrooms, it would have been easy to miss Pop.Unlike many other students, Osterberg was a member of the band The Iguanas on the weekends, and spent time as a member of the debate team. Abbreviating iguanas is what would give Iggy his name when he would later go on to join The Stooges, a band known for adventurous exploits and their original sound.
The Stooges’ career was marked by energetic disregard for existing boundaries of music and etiquette. Their debut album, produced by former Velvet Underground member John Cale, was said to have half of the songs written the night before The Stooges were set to record them. The album had a “wall of distortion” that guitarist Ron Asheton created. “We had invented some new instruments. I came up with a blender with a little bit of water in it and put a mic right down in it and just turned it on and let that be the whole sound,” Asheton said in an interview with Vice News about how The Stooges’ created their noise. This noisy style lost them critics’ praise, but gained them fans.
One such fan that their exploits would ultimately put them in a crash course was director Jim Jarmusch. Jarmusch was born in 1953 and by 1980 he had begun working as a musician to pay for film school at New York University’s Graduate Film School. In the following years, Jim Jarmusch’s films began to heavily feature musicians. This included Tom Waits in several films, an original soundtrack to “Dead Man” by Neil Young, RZA and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan in his film “Coffee and Cigarettes,” and then Iggy Pop in both “Dead Man” and “Coffee and Cigarettes” and finally, the new Stooges documentary, “Gimme Danger.”
In a way, this recently released documentary is decades in the making- from the nights when Iggy Pop and The Stooges would be practicing their set in Ann Arbor to the days in Ohio when Jarmusch would be watching 50s B-movies. The nights that the Stooges spent up would ultimately influence future generations of punk rockers and other musicians who sought to emulate their virile energy while the days Jarmusch spent would lead him to be part of a generation of directors who were inspired by the that same virile energy. With such a connection, it only makes sense that Jarmusch would take his experience directing Iggy Pop in films and turn it into a full fledged documentary, immortalizing the famed Ann Arbor band with an eye that only this director could and the only way the band deserves.
By Bess Markel
Most teachers get to go home after a long day of teaching high schoolers, grading tests, and planning lessons. Pioneer history teacher William Bellers leaves school and heads to the football field to help coach Pioneer’s football team, which finished fourth in its division this year, in addition to teaching five sections of U.S History and Geography.
From an early age Bellers knew that both of these jobs would be a great fit for him. Bellers was a high school athlete himself. He played football all four years of high school.
“Looking back now, as an adult, I wish I would have done more,” says Bellers. While he does not have one specific sports memory that stands out to him, Bellers is proud of all that his team accomplished. “I was very proud to be a part of a great team that had the first back to back winning seasons at my high school in 10 years.
Although Bellers was very involved in his high school sports program, he joined a program much like the Trailblazers program at Pioneer, which helped him figure out what he wanted to do with his life.
"I participated in a program that had high school students tutor and mentor elementary students, and I knew then that teaching was what I wanted to do,” he said.
Bellers attended Adrian College and received his teaching degree. He played football his freshman and sophomore year before stopping, after switching to Eastern Michigan for college. However, after spending so much of his life playing football, he found that he could not give up such a big part of his identity.
"I didn’t know I wanted to become a coach until after I stopped playing football at Adrian, and realized I couldn’t just leave the game I had loved for so long…since it had such a major impact on my life,” says Bellers.
Bellers thought about what a big impact his coaches had on his life and felt coaching might be a good fit for him, along with teaching.
“I decided to become a coach. That way I could still be involved in the game and hopefully have a positive impact on my players lives like my coaches had on my own life.”
Bellers has been coaching since 2001 and has been coaching football at Pioneer since 2012. While he does not have one favorite coaching moment at Pioneer, he is very proud of all of the work that the team has accomplished.
"I can’t say I have one single favorite moment; what I will say is that I have enjoyed every moment I have coached here. I have a great appreciation for all of the young men I have had the fortune of coaching here at Pioneer,” says Bellers.
Bellers said the best part of coaching is watching the team grow as a whole and really become close.
“[What] I have enjoyed most is, each season, watching my teams grow together as a family and realize what it takes and what it means to be successful as a team,” he said.
By Kevin Pai
In November 1621, The Pilgrims held the “First Thanksgiving” which celebrated the first harvest of the year. With the 53 Pilgrims that attended, 90 Native Americans also joined in on the festivities. It was declared a National Holiday in 1789, under President George Washington who made it a National Day of Thanks and Prayer.
Today Americans spend Thanksgiving in entirely different ways then they did nearly 400 years ago, much less 20 years ago. America is widely known as the mixing pot of the world and it shows during Thanksgiving. He’s parents are both first generation immigrants from Singapore. “My family doesn’t really celebrate Thanksgiving,” said He. “I usually just go out with friends to a restaurant.”
Some Pioneer students still celebrate Thanksgiving in the more traditional sense. Junior Andrew Weisman spends time with family and enjoys the classic American Thanksgiving meal. “I’m always in charge of making the mashed potatoes, but make sure you whip them, not mash them,” he said. Wiesman spends time with different family members from around the country every year. “We go to a different family member’s house each year,” Wiesman said. “I have family in a lot of different states.”
Some people say that Thanksgiving is not something Americans should be proud of because of how the Native Americans were treated by European settlers. It wasn’t until September 2008 that Congress approved legislation creating Native American Heritage Day, which is right after Thanksgiving. “Native Americans played a big role in Thanksgiving, they were there at the table, and then suddenly when they were seen as an obstacle, they stopped being invited to the table,” said Pioneer history teacher Jennifer Kunec. “Thanksgiving is a reminder of what our country could be. We are always in constant mode of trying to achieve what our nation set out to be. Thanksgiving plays a role in reuniting our responsibility as American citizens to live up to the values of a Democracy.”
One of America’s biggest traditions are the grand spectacle that are Thanksgiving Day parades. Huge floats and house-sized balloons combined with massive turnouts have made going to parades a staple American tradition.
One of the most well known parades is the Macy’s parade which has been around for 92 years, but the most prominent parade is right in Detroit. It has been hosted by The American Parade company and is being present for it 90th year this year. Dr. Powell, Pioneer’s media specialist, is a frequent viewer of Detroit’s annual parade. “I’ve always gone to downtown Detroit to see the parade,” he said. “It’s a long lasting tradition.” He’s also an avid fan of following the parade with the all-American Thanksgiving Day football.
Everyone has their own way of celebrating this Thanksgiving. No matter how each student chooses to spend the day, The Pioneer Optimist wishes each student a happy and healthy break.
By Noah Resnicow
Ask the average American to swear off cheeseburgers, bacon, ham, and shellfish, and he or she probably won’t be on board. Ask them to swear off these foods during the holidays and they’re even less on board. However, 21 percent of the 5.3 million American Jews do, because they are following Kashrut law. More well known as “keeping kosher,” this diet originates from the Old Testament or the Torah, and its primary rules are that only certain animals can be eaten, certain parts of the animals can’t be eaten, milk and meat can’t be eaten together, and animals must be slaughtered for meat in accordance to Jewish law.
One Pioneer senior says visiting friends on the holidays can make it difficult to maintain his kosher diet. For example, one rule states he has to wait a certain amount of time after eating a meat before eating dairy. “I eat the pie an hour later,” he said.
The great majority of Jews choose not to keep kosher. For many of these individuals, keeping kosher is too difficult, and some feel that the Torah is not important enough in their personal beliefs to let it affect their eating choices.
There are many reasons to choose not to observe Kashrut law. However, many feel that it is an important part of their faith to follow this ancient tradition. “There are a number of reasons I keep Kosher. Firstly, my parents do, so for a long time it wasn’t a choice, and it’s how I was raised. But now that it is, at least to some extent, a choice, I still do. I do consider it a religious obligation,” said senior Zachary Bernstein, “God commanded it in the Torah, and since there is nothing immoral about it, I happily do it. Also it’s how I was raised, it’s what I’m comfortable with, and I feel no need to change it.”
Keeping kosher has a wide range of benefits, including eating expensive, top-of-the-line food, as well as often eating a healthier diet. “In general, kosher food is higher quality,” said senior Rephael Berkooz. Berkooz chooses to not mix milk and meat, not to eat “non kosher” animals, and to only eat kosher parts of the animal, but does eat non-kosher approved meat and doesn’t subscribe to registering his food to a certain rabbi, which many kosher families do. “I don’t need the seal of approval of an East Coast Rabbi,” he said.
“Pork is unhealthy,” added Berkooz, “I’m more conscious of what I’m eating.”
Following the laws of Kashrut also allow many Jews to feel connected to God and their religion. “There are a few benefits of keeping Kosher,” said Bernstein. “The first is that I am following a commandment. I find that an important part of my religion. Additionally, keeping Kosher makes something simple, like eating, into a holy act by making me think on a frequent basis about keeping God’s laws and my role as God’s creation.”
It is common for communities such as the Jewish people to assimilate into the melting pot of American culture, but many use following kosher law to connect them to their Jewish identity. “I feel proud of my heritage,” said Berkooz.
“Keeping Kosher ties me very strongly to my Jewish identity,” added Bernstein. “It forces me to think on a regular basis about God and God’s laws and about what it means to follow God’s laws in the 21st century, where a lot of those laws feel outdated.”
Keeping kosher also comes with its challenges. In addition to the holidays, eating at restaurants can be difficult, since most don’t sell kosher meat, and American culinary culture has many defining foods that include both dairy and meat. “Sure, there are disadvantages of keeping Kosher. It’s awfully difficult to eat out. I just eat vegetarian out at restaurants and call it close enough, but even that is questionable legally, and it is rather limiting. Eating at friends’ houses is also rather difficult and often awkward. I can rarely eat anything at school bake sales or whatnot,” said Bernstein.
Secular camps and other extra curriculars don’t often have many kosher options, which can certainly be problematic. “Orchestra camp is difficult,” said Berkooz. “I usually go vegetarian for a lot of places.”
While keeping kosher comes with its disadvantages, its influence in Jewish culture is unparalleled. Many Jews continue the tradition as a way to feel connected to their identity.
By Bess Markel
“Better red than dead” — that was the mentality of many teachers when James Robert, the Pioneer philosophy teacher more commonly known as J.R, was a high school student.
As high school students, we often feel that our teachers cannot relate to us; however, we forget that they were once high school students, too.
While Robert was in high school during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, he still very vividly remembers the fear and paranoia around the Red Scare, and believes that those experiences have had a lasting impact on his life.
When Robert started high school in 1969, he said he felt exposed to the Cold War between the United States and the USSR through classes and teachers in ways that he had not been before high school.
“I took a Russian studies class my freshman year, which was pretty radical in 1969 to have a Soviet Studies class. I remember [my teacher] sitting in the front of the room, and this was back when you could smoke in schools, and he had his feet up on the desk and he was smoking a pipe. He began the first day of class, by blowing smoke out into the room and going: ‘So I just have one question for you, would you rather be red or dead?’ which was the big question back then,” recalls Robert.
While this was a major question during the ‘60s, Robert was surprised to see how seriously everyone was taking it. This question, along with doing nuclear fall out drills in the hallways, largely contributed to shaping his understanding of the political events unfolding around him.
“That [question my teacher asked] was a big instigator in waking me up to political consciousness, because that was a powerful moment,” says Robert. “The other big moment I had was when I was in 10th grade biology class, and I was pretty radical back then, and my biology teacher was a pretty conservative man. I don’t remember what instigated it, but he had a little side room, and I remember him sort of getting me against the wall and lifting me up off the wall, he was so angry at me. He was screaming in my face ‘I know you’re a communist! Just admit that you’re a communist!’ and I was like ‘I’m not going to admit that I’m a communist.’”
While most would be threatened by a teacher so utterly terrifying, Robert that being threatened by a teacher only encouraged him.
“I realized how passionate people were about this Red Scare and the whole politics going from there and how the whole world was divided into red or not red. It felt kind of good to be accused of being a communist actually, so that actually radicalized me a little bit more.”
The moment felt good, he said, because in high school he thought it was nice to receive attention for being unique, even if that attention was negative. “It felt good to be recognized as different. In 10th grade you want to be different,” he said.
Still, Robert believes the majority of his defining moments happened in college, and that the biggest piece of advice he would give to high school students is that it is okay to not know what one wants to do while still a teenager.
“It’s the rare exception [to find someone] who knows what they want to do at that age because people aren’t even formed yet; the brain isn’t done forming until you are 25, and my whole thing is that we do this all wrong. We give kids a menu of options, and maybe a rudimentary physiological test, and then they pick from the menu of what they think they want to do, and what I’m trying to get my seniors to do is go inside themselves and seek out what it is they long for, and find out what it is they want most in life, and then define a need out in a world that they can match that longing to, and that’s your calling.”
By Rob Dong
Standing at approximately 1,800 students enrolled, Pioneer is the most populated high school in the Ann Arbor Public School district. Something about “purple pride” draws in more students, in and out of district, than anywhere else. Many students are deciding to share the purple pride for many reasons of their own.
Pioneer exceeds in student enrollment over the other comprehensive high schools, with over 100 more students than Huron, and nearly 200 more than Skyline.
For many, when people think of Ann Arbor schools, they think of Pioneer, because of its long lasting tradition of excellence. The school started out as the first high school in Ann Arbor in 1856. One hundred years later, along with a few name and building changes, the Pioneer High School we know now was established. Being the first high school of Ann Arbor with 160 years of history, people think of it as the most established, most well-known, and most traditional school in the district.
“I heard there was a lot of tradition here at Pioneer. There are just so many positive things said about this school,” said Julia Hermann, a new student this year at Pioneer, transferring from Skyline. Hermann attended Skyline for her first two years of high school, but decided to move after she realized she needed a change.
A positive environment she heard about and believed she needed was Pioneer.
“I know a lot of people that go to Pioneer, and they all love it. Everyone just gets along here,” she said. And a positive change it has been, as Hermann claims she is really glad she came. “The whole vibe of Pioneer is different — and it’s been so much better than I ever expected,” Hermann said.
There are many other reasons students are drawn to Pioneer, including the exceptional sports teams, the accomplished theater program, and the Grammy Award-winning music program.
“One of the biggest strengths I heard about Pioneer [when I transferred] was their outstanding music program — the orchestra, theatre guild, their Grammy Awards,” Ningrui Wei said. He now plays trumpet in Pioneer’s top band ensemble, and is grateful for the change.
Wei certainly did not hear incorrectly. Pioneer’s Theatre Guild is recognized by theatre companies all across the nation, the Pioneer Orchestra has been declared a Grammy Signature School multiple times, being ranked as one of the top three high school music programs in the nation.
However, there are other reasons for Pioneer’s popular choice. Wei, a class of 2017 student at Pioneer, transferred into this school from Huron High School before his sophomore year.
“Our old house was getting too small, and my family wanted an upgrade, so we moved to a new neighborhood which was less than 10 minutes from Pioneer, and 40 minutes from Huron,” he said.
Ann Arbor is split into three different zones according to each high school by population. However, anyone is allowed to do the school of choice lottery to be able to pick which of the three comprehensive high schools they want to attend. In-district transferring, switching between two schools in the Ann Arbor district, during the year or the summer, is only allowed for freshmen and sophomores.
Wei was not heartbroken when he had to leave Huron to come to Pioneer. “I wasn’t that attached to Huron yet, since I’ve only been there for one year,” he said. For Wei, Huron never felt like home.
On the US News & World Report website, Pioneer is ranked the highest of the three Ann Arbor comprehensive high schools, in 18th place. The next best is Skyline in 28th place, and Huron in 30th. These rankings are based off of the school’s performance on state-required tests and student college readiness. With these numbers, many are convinced that Pioneer’s tradition of excellence is unbeatable.
By Bess Markel
Pioneer Bands has created a fifth band this year. Last year they had Symphony, Concert, Varsity, and Jazz Bands; however, for this year they spilt Concert Band into Concert Band Purple and Concert Band White. The new Concert Band Purple marches with Symphony Band at football games. Band Director Mr. Leach said that splitting up the band has helped musically. “It’s balanced all the instrumentation out for everybody, so actually all four bands are almost the identical size — between 60 and 62,” says Leach. Leach added that splitting up the bands has really changed football games by giving the marching band a larger sound. “It’s allowed for a bigger marching band, and it’s allowed for easier, cleaner concert bands, so all three bands are easier to (manage) and it allows for a nice big marching band,” he said.
Pioneer has added Yoga to it’s list of physical education classes. It is taught third hour in the fitness center. Yoga is taught by Mrs. Poli — a new teacher at Pioneer. Poli teaches Yoga and one section of Health, and spends the afternoon teaching at Community. Poli was inspired to start a yoga class through her own involvement with the exercise. “I feel the wonderful benefits and effects of my own practice and believe that everyone should take yoga,” says Poli. She teaches Vinyasa yoga, and has 19 students in her class. Poli hopes to grow yoga and establish the program at Pioneer, and feels it’s great for high school students. “It’s a great stress reliever and a healthy workout that can be practiced along with a sport,” says Poli.
American Sign Language has now become a full time language at Pioneer. Teacher Mrs. McCully is thrilled that ASL is now offered five times a day. “Sign Language started out as a one semester elective and I’ve been trying for six years to make it a full time language.” McCully says. “I got my first class two years ago and there were only 18 students. It’s amazing to see it grow so quickly. The program is also offered at Skyline, where McCully used to teach, and there is one class at Community. Sign Language is offered at levels one and two at Pioneer. McCully mentions that “many level two students hope that sign language three is offered next year, but we aren’t sure yet.”
Project Lead the Way is now in its second year, and is offering a Principles of Engineering class. This is the successor to Introduction of Engineering, which Pioneer started offering last year. Science and math teachers Mr. Sanborn and Mr. Moreno have plans to further expand the program in the coming years. “We got a GM [General Motors] grant for $35,000 a few years ago. We have a three year deal and we have to offer at least three Project Lead the Way classes. We might offer even more than that,” says Sanborn. Next year, they plan to offer Engineering Design and Development. Sanborn says that “there’s a lot of work involved in getting [new classes] going and a lot of sleepless nights, but it’s a labor of love and Mr. Moreno and I are very excited about where we are going.”
By Yuchen Yang
A cooler, resourceful, and comfortable place to study after school can now be enjoyed by Pioneer students. The Pioneer Study Center has evolved from a rudimentary idea in the Student Council to a fledgling new program that provides a common room for the whole school.
The Pioneer Study Center is a new facility set up by Mrs. Kunec, Social Studies, and Mr. Packard, English, that runs during seventh hour every day, with a vast amount of supplies and aid to help students with their homework.
“We are providing computers, paper, protractors…assistance. If you are doing homework and there’s this one algebra problem that’s really giving you fits, there’s people you can ask there, or if you are doing a research paper for AP History, there are people like myself who teach the class who will help you,” says Mrs. Kunec.
It is indeed for these reasons that students come to the Study Center to do their homework. “If I need help, there are always teachers here,” said junior Sachin Nair, who often utilizes the Study Center before marching band practices begin.
Junior Javon Hilliard agrees, “There are many resources to help out. I have used many of them,” Hilliard said.
“We have solidified, at the moment, six teachers who are coming two days a week,” says Mrs. Kunec, who is almost always at the Study Center. She said there will also be tutors available — both teachers and students from Pioneer’s National Honors Society.
“There’s been really strong efforts to get tutors in, but there’s never been a system to put tutors in place with students…on a consistent basis,” said Kunec.
Instead of just having tutors showing up and waiting for kids to come, the Study Center is seeking to make connections between tutors and students. “We can get NHS, we can get U-M (students), but there’s a Pioneer person…making those connections. Now we are encouraging. Now we are talking about it. Now there’s a place that is very visible so that everybody can seek help if they need it,” says Kunec.
There will even be consistent peer relationships between tutors and the students so that the students who are struggling can get help easily from somebody they have confidence in, and feel comfortable with. The goal is that if a student reaches a problem or assignment that they do not understand, there would be a teacher who teaches it or an NHS student to help out.
“I helped a student with three algebra problems,” said Mrs. Kunec, “I’m a history teacher — I’m so proud of that!”
To realize the goals for Study Center, and to make it an even better studying atmosphere, the organizers are “constantly self-assessing,” said Mrs. Kunec, “I think when we get to the four week to nine week period when people are getting concerned with their performances and getting help, it would be more of a tell-tale sign.”
The safe, helpful environment that the teachers of the Study Center worked so hard to achieve is already felt by the students. Sophomore Annie Wang says studying in the Study Center is more fun compared to studying at home or in the library. Instead of a solemn surrounding with brutal silence, she says the Study Center is more relaxed. “Sometimes my friends would come down and we could eat here,” she said, “It’s just more relaxed.” With this delightful ambiance, the Study Center welcomes students to come in every day during 7th hour to get their questions answered, study for tests, or just do homework. Lively and energetic are not usually words associated with a study room for Pioneer students, but with the new Study Center, they are now.
By Connor Reid-Klein
Everyone knows Pioneer senior Nia Blair — or at least everyone knows her voice — from the morning announcements each day. But few know that Blair suffers from a rare skin condition called keloid skin.
Keloid skin is a genetic disorder which is defined as an overgrowth of scar tissue that develops around a wound usually after it has healed. Keloid Skin is relatively rare as only six out of 100 people are reported to suffer from this condition. Keloid Scars grow bigger than the original injury most of the time and can grow for months after an injury occurs; in most cases they don’t disappear completely, even on small wounds. The condition was originally discovered in 1806 and given the name Cheloide, a Greek word for Crabs Claw, as the shape of these scars sometimes resembles a Crab Claw. The condition puts people who require major surgery at great risk of developing massive scars.
Blair’s condition was discovered when she was 8. “I wanted to get my ears pierced, but before that at my doctor’s appointment my condition was discovered,” she said.
The condition is genetic and is lifelong; however, it is not typically life-threatening.
Although the condition is not severe, Blair does have to make sure that she takes care of herself because a bad cut or burn could lead to horrible scarring, although she has yet to have an incident leading to severe consequences.
While Blair’s condition does not affect her daily life, it does limit her ability to do certain things. “I can’t get piercings or tattoos, but those are pretty much the only restrictions I can think of,” says Blair. Blair does have to be especially careful in certain places such as amusement parks, sporting events or any other setting with lots of people where she could be susceptible to injury, which would lead to scarring.
Though it is a lifelong condition, Blair is not worried about how it will affect her life and chooses to focus on other things. “My condition doesn’t affect me too much,” she said. “I rarely even think about it.” Blair adds that her parents don’t worry too much about Blair having a major incident either. “They don’t worry too much about my condition; [they] just warn me to be careful,” she said.
School Nurse Amy Caragay has a specific protocol the school uses for students with chronic diseases and conditions, like Blair’s. “We have to talk to the family and the physician of the student with the condition, we need to look at all medical files, the students health care plan, and we come up with a plan for what to do when I’m not present at school (is something should happen),” she said. Nurse Caragay is not at Pioneer High School on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, so this plan ensures students’ health whether or not she is present.
Despite the fact that Blair has to be slightly more careful when in public places than most people, and that she has a few restrictions, she says that she will plan her future without worrying. “As I begin to start looking at colleges, I will not let this condition affect me or influence my future,” she said.
By Sam Dupree
Colorful strobe lights flash to illuminate the darkness of the otherwise lightless room. Music plays at such an intense volume that people can hardly hear themselves think. Teens dance and sing along to the newest Beyoncé song. The party has begun.
On Sept. 9 the Neutral Zone kicked the new school year off with another blacklight party at The B-side. Blacklight parties, also known as raves, have become a common point of interest for Ann Arbor students.
They’re a way for teens of all ages to go hang out with friends, relax, and dance to their heart’s content to great music.
"It’s nice to have the freedom to go outside and be with friends,” said Pioneer junior Aggie Reyes.
The Neutral Zone organizers said that they wanted to celebrate the end of summer vacation with a special event to give teens one last chance to feel free and have a good time together before school got too intense.
According to their mission statement, “The Neutral Zone is a diverse, youth-driven teen center dedicated to promoting personal growth through artistic expression, community leadership and the exchange of ideas.” With this mission, it’s understandable why their parties are beloved by teens all around Ann Arbor. They let teens open up and be who they are with other people who feel the same way. They also understand the importance of creating a fun environment for teens who are under a lot of stress from school, family, and extracurriculars.
“I like the raves because the stress of school makes me feel too grown up,” said Community High School junior Terah Blackwell, “but these parties make me feel more like a teen, how I should always feel.”
So far, all these parties have been thrown at The B-side, a concert venue run right out of the Neutral Zone. The two most popular parties were highlighter parties, where teens draw on each other with highlighters while they dance, which are then illuminated under the black lights. It is recommended that people attend such parties wearing white. As strange as this may sound, the black lights make the drawings glow like stars in the night sky.
Something unique about the most recent party is that all proceeds went to support the Black Lives Matter movement in Detroit. “The money will go to funding schools, black owned businesses, and college funds,” said Neutral Zone member and Community High School student Clarence Collins. The BLM Detroit movement is committed to respecting and celebrating differences among people and advancing the lives of black people of all sexualities, gender identities, and nationalities.
Unfortunately, the most recent party wasn’t as publicized as most of the highlighter parties. Around 300 fewer people attended this one, organizers say, compared to both previous highlighter parties.
“It takes a lot of promotion to get a party well attended,” Collins said. This one was listed as a blacklight party, which may have thrown some people off. Also because it was thrown at the beginning of the year some people might have been unaware of it. No matter what they’re called or what the theme is, though, attendees agree that these parties are a great place for socializing and relaxing with friends.
Ann Arbor students have lots of time to plan for the next highlighter party, as it isn’t going to be until April 7, 2017. According to the B-side’s website you can expect lasers, highlighters, and dancing.
“I’m around people who understand my kind of stress,” said Blackwell, “and all of them want to let it out just as much as I do, so we dance, get crazy and have a good time.”