To Homework or not to Homework?

Students dread it on a daily basis. It lurks in our backpacks, hidden in the brightly colored folders we use to organize our subjects. It silently waits, longing to be completed.

Of course, I’m speaking about homework.

Homework is something that most, if not all classes are assigned. It generally consists of a page or two of extra work that the assigning teacher could not find a way to fit into the 90-minute block of time allotted for each class in school. Be it math, science, English or history, you can be sure that you will be on the receiving end of an array of to-be-completed assignments.

The problem with homework is simply this- students aren’t doing it.

As students reach different points in their lives and assume new responsibilities, they are forced to set aside more and more time each evening to take care of new obligations in the six or seven hours they have after school, besides taking care of their homework. Generally speaking, 20 percent of students have jobs after school.

One example: Luke Harvey works from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m.  three days a week. After speaking with him, he informed me that on most days, his homework goes undone.

“I just don’t have the energy to come home and do more work,” says Harvey.

Asking a student to set aside time to complete a few problems after school does not seem like an absurd request- until you take the time to factor in just how much time a student who works after school actually has.

For example, I am a working student. I get home from school at approximately 3:15. After sitting down my backpack and getting in the mail, it probably is about 3:25. From that point on, I will start to cook myself a small dinner, which probably takes me about 20 minutes to cook, and another ten or fifteen to eat, taking me up until 4:00. At 4:00 I will get prepared for work by changing into my uniform, shaving, brushing my teeth, and the like. Assuming that takes another fifteen minutes, I have now arrived at 4:15 p.m.  Heaven forbid I run into any delays in that process, because I have to leave for work at 4:30, and that leaves me with a whole 15 minutes of free time before I slave away at Lancaster’s best grocery store until 10 p.m.. In those 15 minutes, am I expected to complete all of my allotted homework assignments for the night? The answer is yes, I surely know that when I get home from work, I’ll be more than ready to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep, and consciously ignore my homework.

As it stands, I can safely say I’ve completed about 20 percent of my homework assignments for the year. Is this because I am a bad student, or because I don’t care about school?  Neither, not in the least.

It raises the question, is homework even worth assigning?

Is the time of the students who do complete the work being wasted? Even more so, is the teacher wasting their personal time by grading only a handful of assignments each night, only to find out that the students who did complete their homework did not score high on the tests, because their homework was not efficient in teaching them the necessary concepts?

With 90 minutes in each block of school time, why do teachers find it necessary to assign homework? I can surely understand the idea behind it, especially in classes such as science or math, when perhaps the best way to learn something is simply through repetition- but the truth of the matter is that teachers still require homework to be completed. If someone feels that they have a convincing grasp on a subject, should they truly be required to take home an assignment that they probably won’t complete, and lose points in the class on an assignment based upon a subject they are proficient in? I don’t think so.

So no, in short, I am not asking for the abolishment of homework. I am asking for our teachers and faculty to consider the prospect of making homework worth fewer points, or perhaps even making it optional, rather than to rid of it completely. Sure, we all need some practice from time to time, but should we be penalized for not having the time to practice?

Andrew Zell

The Agility Approach

I despise sports, for the most part. I don’t understand people running around tossing inanimate objects at each other, ready to face a ball in the head. Soccer was a sport I played before, but I stopped that a long time ago after my unlucky streaks lead to a ball hitting my stomach every game.

I also used to run track, but running in a circle didn’t do anything for me either. Instead, I chose a sport that few people seem to know about. Last year I talked about it, and several people gave me confused expressions and wondered what in the world I was talking about. That shocked me, I figured people had at least seen it on TV, but perhaps the dogs don’t get the same kudos they used to.

Agility. If you haven’t played it, you’d never know how much there is to running it. Some people, who have only seen it, still don’t know the work that goes into it. Some people disregard it as a sport, when in reality it takes a lot more training and team commitment than most people could imagine. It’s also more exciting than the same ritual tossing a ball and throwing it in a goal. It doesn’t even involve a ball, thankfully for me.

Instead it involves my clumsy self running a course with my dog. A lot of people wouldn’t appreciate a coat of drool on their pants at the end of the day, but I have learned to. Of course, if you choose to play it you don’t have to go for the drool variety of dog, I just happened to fall in love with that type.

My dog, a liver and white English springer spaniel, has too much intelligence to run laps in the yard and chase after a ball. He’s too smart for his own good sometimes, so without agility I wouldn’t know where to fuel his personality type.

I had never had much experience with the world of dog sports until Tucker entered my life. Now, Tucker is one of the more interesting dogs to watch run because of how animated he is. He runs with his heavy ears catching the wind, and his eyes intently focusing on me. Every leap is more than just jumping – it’s an act of freedom. Every tunnel he flies through isn’t just an obstacle, it’s a game. We take the sport in a fun way, which is what counts.

This sport has been fun for the both of us, and it connects owner and dog like no other event. Literally so, it does this. While I may not get hit in the head with a ball, I have to worry about a dog smashing into me.

Yes, I was hit in the head with a dog. Thank you, Tucker, for your ability to make me feel slightly hypocritical, since there is no sport that involves me being injury free.

Our last agility trial, after months of training him to do his teeter without bailing on me, he decided to fail another obstacle. The dog walk allows him to be higher than me, and it’s a simple, straight walk. However, it’s not that simple for eager, hyperactive Tucker. Normally I would say I love his size, because he’s right in the middle. However, I wished at this moment that he was a Chihuahua, something I could throw my arms around and catch.

Instead, he bailed at the top of the dog walk, while I was running alongside him as usual and whapped me in the face. Instead of a ball moving at fast speeds into my face, I had a dog landing on me. I still find it less painful; I had to get my head back into the game fast to keep up with him, because he wasn’t going to let that stop him. There are no time outs in agility. If you get injured, you have to hobble along until you cross the finish line. After all, I wouldn’t shame my dog over a simple injury by walking off the course.

It doesn’t stop at that. I trip quite often, or pull something in my leg while trying to keep up with his speed. I love it though, despite injury, I can handle this kind of injury. After all, instead of a disapproving coach staring at me while I lie on the ground, I have my ‘ready to drool on you’ dog standing above me with his tail shaking his body, and his expression wondering what I’m doing lying around on the ground when there are jumps to glide over, A-frames to climb, tunnels to crawl through and dog walks to injure his helpless owner on.

Yes, I love agility. To all those people who don’t know what it is, I feel sorrow. To all those people who don’t think it’s truly a sport – try it.

– Samantha St.Clair

A Happy Mistake-Journalism and Penn Points

It was temporary ignorance and stupidity that overwhelmed me a week before the first day of school.  When I went to see my guidance counselor to select classes for my first year in Penn Manor, somehow I landed myself in CP journalism, just the place, I thought, for someone who doesn’t like to write.

You may be asking yourself  ‘how does that happen?’  Well, stupidity is the best word to describe how it happened. As I walked into the office that warm August morning, my mind was racing with both fear and excitement.  I would soon be going to a public high school.  This was huge coming out of my lonely lifestyle in cyber  school.

I was given two options, CP literature or CP journalism. I wasn’t very excited about either one, but I didn’t really think about exactly what we would be doing in either class.

It was more of a decision as to who would I be if I was in that class.  The first thing that came to mind when I heard the counselor say ‘journalism,’ was a line from the 1998 film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”  In the movie, the character Duke gave his reason for going to Vegas to a hitch-hiking stranger that they had picked up.  “I’m a doctor of journalism, man,”  said Duke.  That wasn’t much of  a line and not the best movie, but at the moment it was enough to convince me that CP journalism was the way to go.

As the first few days of school went by, I can honestly say that journalism was really agonizing. Remember, I’m someone who does not like to write.  But that eventually changed.  As time passed and my writing skills improved, I’ve come to not mind journalism so much. The only thing that I hate now, which I probably will suffer from forever, is that dreaded writers block.  I’m sure I’m not the only one that has a hard time with those first few sentences… right?

By Mike Stokes

The Nerdy Alternative

Many people ask me ‘why chess team?’ When I tell them that instead of joining a winter sport like wrestling or basketball, I chose chess team.

Well, when I get right down to it, the main reason is that I will get out of school every Tuesday to go play a game. Maybe not the most action packed, epic game, but a game none the less.

I wasn’t even expecting to be slightly good at it. So, it was a pleasant surprise when I beat the fifth board player in Penn Manor. I was thinking that I might actually have some potential, even though I was creamed by the second board player 10 minutes later.

It’s not that I haven’t considered doing something else instead of chess. Two of my friends, who are on the wrestling team, try to convince me to join wrestling. I thought it through, but the thought of being put in an incredibly awkward position by a guy in tight clothes was enough to close that door for me.

Joining basketball crossed my mind a few times. I mean, I’m kind of tall, skinny, and look like I would make a good basketball player. However, after shooting a few free throws and remembering back to my elementary school years when I played basketball, I was reminded that I must lack hand-eye coordination, or the basketball hoop hates me.

Not knowing the vast sport options that Penn Manor has to offer, a friend suggested that I join the chess team. I didn’t have anything else to do after school, so I decided to go to the practices.

I’ve actually come to enjoy it too and, as incredibly nerdy as it sounds, I look forward to the end of the school day to play, learn, and improve my strategy.

By: Mike Stokes

Night School Experience was Life-Changing

Its last year.  I’m sitting on my grandma’s step waiting for the bus to go to school at 3:00 in the afternoon.

That’s right 3 p.m.

Unusual right?

But that’s a regular schedule for a night school student.

That’s right, night school.

Night school, where all the kids who don’t have their life on track go. Suddenly I was one of the those kids.

As a freshman, you are introduced to so many new things and you get so much more freedom than ever before. You think you’re unstoppable, well; at least that’s how it was for me and my friends freshmen year.

Tyler Keith

That year, I got mixed in with the wrong group of kids. I thought they were the popular kids and the ones that were having the best time. I wanted to be the popular kid. So I went and made the biggest mistake of my life just to be a popular kid in school. I bought drugs. Being a freshman, thinking that I was unstoppable, I showed the drugs off on the bus.

That next Monday, I was called to the office with no second thought about the drugs. I was sitting in the office getting interrogated by two principles. They started to tell me the disciplinary actions. The whole ordeal becomes a nightmare and I just wanted to wake up.

From being the kid that has never got into any real big trouble for anything to the kid who suddenly became a major screw-up.  When my dad walked in the office door, I couldn’t even look at him just because I knew he was so disappointed in me.  My parents were more disgusted than ever about everything.

This was the worst chapter of my life. I felt like there was never going to be an end to my punishment and that I was going to sit at home all summer long while my classmates were out enjoying their high school years.

It got to the point where I would live my life during the night.  This way I wouldn’t have to be around anyone. I ended my last ten days of freshmen year at my house and it still wasn’t over. I had a punishment of a minimum of 45 days in night school, 25 hours of community service, drug and alcohol classes and a chance of not being able to wrestle the next year. My whole life was wrestling.

That first day of night school, I was more nervous then the first day of elementary school, middle school and high school put all together. Not knowing anyone or what you were in for and not one person you had anything in common with, except your crime.

Night school was not as bad as I thought except I couldn’t see my friends; go to football games or homecoming.  But it changed my life around and made me smarter about my decisions. The good news was that, after 45 days, I returned to day school and was able to wrestle.

That’s right, I’m back on track.

By: Tyler Keith

Christmas, What a Wonderful Time of Year

Ah, Christmastime.  Everyone is in a great mood.  Even the strictest teachers put on a holiday grin.

Seriously, all the teachers are in such a good state of mind it seems like elves must have put a little Christmas cheer in all the morning coffee.

Having overly cheerful teachers is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the perks for students over the holidays.

David Mohimani

One bonus is holiday food.  Oh my,  Christmas cookies are an unparalleled  perk of Christmas.   Even when you scarf down  a dozen cookies,  you don’t feel bad.  Just chalk it up to the holidays.

Another thing.  Your parents are probably so stressed with all the preparations for Christmas, they aren’t even going to notice the “D” you got on your progress report.

Ah, and what can compare to that glorious week off when the only thing you have to worry about is your supply of batteries, what size your new clothes are and when to use the bathroom during endless hours of video games.

The thing that makes Christmas really Christmas, is family – whether its your uncle, an organic farmer, who is oddly competitive at board games, or your dad yelling at your brother because he thinks that two beers certifies him as an alcoholic or even your 95-year-old great aunt who, when you ask her if she has her hearing aid in, replies, “What!?”

That is what makes Christmas so great- your family and the memories that you share with them.

So what is it about Christmas?  Is it the smell in the air, the Christmas lights, the candy canes or is it the mystique and anticipation of  Christmas Eve night? Maybe Christmas is the best time of the year because of all these reasons.  But whatever it is, the question remains: Why can’t we have Christmas all year long?

Well, because then it wouldn’t be Christmas.

So this Christmas let’s cherish it, because it only comes once a year.

By David Mohimani

Two Holidays in One


That helps to sum up the chaos that ensued as the clock struck 12 a.m. on December 1.  Every year. That is the chaos that came along with having my birthday eight days before Christmas.  And I guess everyone who has a birthday over the holidays might feel the same way.

Each year, my mom would set out on Mission Impossible: Gift Version.  She would collect my list, do the shopping (online of course), and wait for the packages to arrive.

Sarah Schaeffer
Sarah Schaeffer

Then the real fun began. She would have to pick out at least two different wrapping papers (one birthday themed and one Christmas) because, goodness knows, she couldn’t use the same paper for both occasions.

Then the logistics of distributing the gifts got involved. My mom would have to pick which gifts I was going to receive when and then wrap them accordingly. She always had to make sure I had the same amount of presents on both days, so as to make sure I didn’t feel one day was more acknowledged than the other.

While the havoc of a near-Christmas birthday was plaguing my poor mother’s existence in December, I was content reading or playing in the snow, never knowing what went on behind closed doors. I never cared what paper my presents were wrapped in.  They could have been wrapped in newspaper or not wrapped at all.  I never even enjoyed unwrapping presents. I certainly didn’t care how many gifts I received when I would have been happy with whatever I got. To me, Christmas and my birthday have never been about getting “stuff.”

I have never felt a down-side to having my birthday so close to Christmas, but my family, especially my mom, may disagree with me.

By: Sarah Schaeffer

My Snow Adventures

How were the roads this weekend? If you don’t drive, or if you refused to this weekend, you may be asking this question. And I can tell you just how winter wonderful they were.

I’m going to start by explaining my wonderful tank of a car. I drive a ’95 Volvo station wagon, it’ not exactly a looker. And it just so happens that, even though Volvo’s are well known for being safe, my car is absolutely indescribably not meant for a change in weather.

Now I need to explain how I put myself into the situation of being on the roads this weekend in the fifteen feet of snow we somehow came across when I believed with all of my being that we would hardly get a flurry.

I knew I needed to work on Saturday morning, and because of its “convenience” I convinced my mom to let me stay at a friend’s house which is much closer to my place of employment.

I woke up to a much appreciated phone call from my manager telling me I didn’t need to work, not believing the winter wonderland that developed outside of my friend’s window. Thinking I would basically be able to hibernate for the rest of the day, I fell back to sleep faster than a narcoleptic. Unfortunately, my mom decided to call me telling me I had to come home because there was apparently a deathly snow outside that I wouldn’t be able to drive through if I waited one more minute. I decided to scoop up a friend on the way home, anyway.

I’m not quite sure if that was one of my brightest ideas.

After picking up my friend on a road that I’m sure hadn’t been plowed and was invisible under 20 inches of snow already, I had to maneuver my big green car up a hill that was seemed more like a snowy mountain. I got to the top of the hill, the light was red, it turned green and I was on my way.

If only it could have been that simple.

My big green car wouldn’t move an inch after I stopped on the top of that hill. But somehow the man upstairs must have been looking down on me and magically there was a truck with a plow right behind me. So my friend waved him in front of us so he could plow my way out.

If only that miracle would have occurred.

Instead the plow man decided to turn the other way and completely ignore my situation in the blizzard.

So I took my only other option.

I decided to reverse the whole way down that hill, and that road so that I could turn onto a different road.

Did I mention before that I’m not the best driver (especially when my gigantic car is going backwards)?

Well I ended up driving backwards on the other side of the road, luckily no other idiots like me were driving on snow death street.

FINALLY, I got to that road I was supposed to turn on, you know the one that was supposed to be my alternative route. Well that one ended up being covered in about three feet of snow already.

At this point I was heated, and all I wanted to do was get home and get some hot chocolate and watch I drove as fast as I could in the new tundra that was developing over my little farmland of a town. I decided to confront the hill again, and I also decided that road rules didn’t apply. Right on red? Sure, if cars aren’t coming the other way. Well that rule was thrown away because the only way I could turn at the top of that same hill I was stuck on before was if I kept my momentum going enough to get over a patch of ice that was laughing at me from the top of the hill. Well guess what? I defeated that patch of ice and I was on my way home when I realized how long all of this had taken.

Oh dear.

My mother probably thought that I was stuck somewhere covered in snow, and she would never find me, which is never a good thing to have my pookie thinking. So I had my friend call her and what do you know? She wants me to go to the grocery store! So I did. And that was an adventure, one that I definitely want to go through again.

And who would have thought that my dear old mom, the one that didn’t even want me driving in the snow in the first place, would have me go BACK with a shopping list?

Not me.

But I went.

By: Abby Wilson