Great Pacific Garbage Island

When there’s a buildup of environmentally threatening dangers, there are things such as deforestation, global warming, pollution, etc. which all are usually caused by toxic air pollutants. An example of this is the Pacific Ocean Garbage Island. This is an island created by human trash and stretches to the size of Texas, expanding nine whole feet into the ocean. From this, many animals’ lives are affected, from deformities in physique to improper living environments.

The Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch is the largest island mass of garbage in the ocean; however, there are many other large bodies of garbage in various oceans, such as the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and of course the Pacific Ocean. One may ask how this problem may be solved and how this, according to, 1.15 to 2.41 million ton pounds of plastic and garbage can be eliminated. Recently a group of volunteers have established a garbage cleanup machine to help fix this issue. Working together to clean up trash and help make change in the environment is hard work, but allows for a healthier lifestyle for everyone, and in this case marine wildlife.

Geographical location of the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch.

With Earth Day passed on Sunday, April 22, it is important to look at the nature around oneself and be able to cherish planet Earth and its many beauties, such as the sky, the sun, the ocean, and everything else it offers us. Nature is a beautiful thing, and we are lucky to have the opportunity live in it. It’s the very nature which surrounds everything living on Earth, from animals and plants to humans, which makes nature and its environment so beautiful. Humans very much impact the environment for a variety of reasons, from helping it be clean and safe for living or polluting it with various harmful things, such as trash or pollution.

Pile of garbage pushed together in body of water.

People doing good for the environment, either something big or small, can help make a great impact on the environment in a good way, thus making it healthier and a better way of life in general. Those who take environmental health seriously will do things such as walk or bike to work or school, not waste water, and most importantly recycle and throw away their trash .

Providence Academy students every now and then forget that garbage and recycling bins do in fact exist. The halls are never full of crumbled trash, but a piece of paper or an empty bottle of water are not necessarily rare sightings. To make a change for the school’s environment, students must come and work together in order to ensure our hallways stay clean, and with every student working in unison, any piece of trash would indubitably meet its fate and be thrown away. Cleaner hallways not only takes a load off of our janitors, but it also allows for the school environment to look its cleanest and best.

With Providence Academy students working together for a cleaner school, nothing but good would come of it. There is no downside to having cleaner hallways, bathrooms, stairways and even classrooms, only having a cleaner, even more beautiful school then before. Taking a few seconds out of the day to pick up and throw away a piece of trash shouldn’t be too difficult, so it’s up to the students to make their environment cleaner.

Forced Failure

Recently, many consumers of products such as smartphones, printer cartridges, and light bulbs claim that the products sold to them were designed to become obsolete or to stop working altogether.  Is this a massive fraud spanning over multiple companies within multiple industries or simply a business tactic used to help the progress of these products?  The answer will usually depend on who you’re talking to and which product you are talking about.

For example, some people would say that printer ink cartridges are built to stop working before they actually run out of ink to force the customer to shell out money to get a new one. Others would say that if companies are doing this they are only doing it to keep the quality of your prints up to par.  With this industry in particular, there seems to be more behind the former argument.  One printer user claimed that he had printed 1,800 pages on a cartridge that claimed it was empty after he had tricked his printer into using it.  In fact, Halte à L’Obsolescence Programmêe a legal group recently took legal action against companies such as HP, Epson, Canon, and other big printer companies.  However, it seems unclear how many companies use this tactic.  Also these companies may have good reasons to shorten the lifespan of printer ink cartridges, like upholding the quality of the consumer’s prints.

There are industries with a reasonable explanation for their obsolete products.  For example, cars and smartphones are always advancing, and there will always be an advancement that will sell a new car or a new phone.  The problem comes when old smartphones become incompatible with new updates.  It usually takes a long time and a lot of updates to make an older phone not work as well though, and a lot of times you don’t need new updates to use your phone.  Another problem a lot of people bring up is yearly releases of smartphones; however, if this release schedule becomes annoying or expensive for a consumer, they can simply choose to not buy a new phone every year.

One solution that people have thought of for the yearly release of smartphone is a modular phone which can be updated and changed by the consumer whenever new technology is put on the market.  For example if a new battery comes out, consumers wouldn’t have to buy a whole new phone.  Instead they could get rid of their old battery and replace it with the new one.  The website follows multiple companies as they try to produce a good modular phone.  Unfortunately the few modular phones that have released haven’t been ground breaking and have been more customize-able than upgrade-able.  These phones let you add features to your phone like a bigger speaker or a projector, but they don’t seem to allow upgrades to the phone itself.  On top of this, if this idea takes off there are aspects of a phone such as the display that might not be upgrade-able.

In a capitalist system, if a company does something to upset its consumers, it risk going out of business.  So remember, if there is a company that you feel is trying to cheat you out of your money there will always be another company eager to get a new patron.

Freedom and the Framers

“If freedom of speech is taken away,” George Washington told a group of military officers in 1783, “then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” America’s government has not always upheld the right to free speech, but American culture has always held free speech in high esteem.

Prompted by James Madison, The Bill of Rights was passed in 1790. The Bill secured freedom of speech for all American citizens (only white land-owning males at the time). It was not long, however, before these rights were in danger. Passed in 1798, the Alien and Sedition act prevented certain criticisms of the president; an attempt by President John Adams to hurt his presidential opponent, Thomas Jefferson.

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, liberalism and other philosophies that emphasize individual rights were being developed. In his Second Treatise on Government, John Locke, an English philosopher, states, “Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” This idea appears, almost word for word, in the American Constitution. The influence of  European philosophy on the Founding Fathers is noteworthy, seeing as America’s founding document finds its base in the ideas of John Locke and other 17th and 18th century liberals.


John Locke, c.a. 1690

At the time the constitution was written, schools were not public, and warranted little attention from the government. The first time the American government acknowledged the rights of students was in Board of Education vs. Barnette, a landmark case in which the Supreme Court sided with a group of Jehovah’s Witness students. The students challenged the 1943 law mandating that all students salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The Court ruled that the 1st Amendment protects a citizen’s right to not say something. Later, during the Vietnam War, the court, once again, ruled in favor of the students’ 1st Amendment rights. This decision, Tinker vs. Des Moines ICSD, established a student’s right to protest on school property, so long as he or she does not disrupt classwork.

Mary and John Tinker

Although universities existed at the time the constitution was developed, the Founding Fathers did not feel they had a right to mandate certain policies on university campuses. Now, constitutional rights on college campuses has become a pressing issue, with some institutions banning certain types of speech altogether. America is split over this issue, with republicans fighting for all speech, regardless of how offensive or triggering its content, to be allowed. On the other hand, democrats generally believe that speech that triggers or offends someone should be restricted.

Many who support censoring hate speech defend their views by bringing up the harm that hate speech can cause to minority groups. Erwin Chemerinsky, Berkeley Law School’s new dean, argues that the harm speech can create is the reason all speech must be protected. Chemerinsky uses the fact that speech can offend or uplift to show how vital it is to society in general. He proposes a new method of handling offensive or hateful speakers. In this new method, a university should reaffirm its beliefs and condemn the speaker, while still giving them the opportunity to speak.

Berkeley students protest Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech on campus

Restrictions on how speech can be used have historically been instituted to limit progress. In the words of Peter Tatchell, a prominent human rights lawyer, “Free speech does not mean giving bigots a free pass. It includes the right and moral imperative to challenge, oppose and protest bigoted views. Bad ideas are most effectively defeated by good ideas – backed up by ethics, reason – rather than by bans and censorship.” Tatchell, among others, believes that restricting speech can only help contribute to the advancement of the same ideas that democratic campuses seek to eliminate.

An informed and talkative population has historically been the enemy of any despotic ruler. From enlightenment age, writers and social commentators, like Voltaire, who criticized autocratic monarchs, to modern-day Russian activist groups imprisoned for criticizing Vladmir Putin’s egregious human rights record, free speech has been proven to strike fear into the hearts of the most brutal regimes.

Freedom of speech has been an integral part of American life since the very beginnings of the nation. Speech can be used to belittle and offend, but it also has the power to inform and change society. Now, as society progresses, America is faced with a dilemma – to hide from injustice or to use speech as a tool to dismantle it.


Net Neutrality

Since made available for public use, the internet’s freedoms and openness have been the subject of much debate. The idea that the internet should remain free and open to all is called Net Neutrality. This principle has been the backbone of the internet since its creation. Now it is under review by a new, more conservative, and business-friendly administration. These debates bring with them fundamental questions about how the internet should be used – questions that need to be answered, now.

The term, “Net Neutrality,” was coined by Tim Wu, a Columbia Law School professor, in his 2003 essay on the topic. According to Wu, the best way to explain Net Neutrality is that “a public information network will end up being most useful if all content, websites, and platforms are treated equally.” The internet began as a loosely organized network of scientists, so Internet Service Providers (ISPs) did not exist, let alone require regulation. The Internet was eventually opened up to the public in 1992, and it grew steadily from there. One year later, the Internet facilitated 1% of worldwide telecommunications, by 2000, 51%, and by 2007, 97%.

The growth of the internet corresponds directly to the emergence of throttling: the illegal and intentional slowing or speeding up of an Internet service generally used to promote or partially block a website. For example, in 2004, the Madison River Communications Company was fined $15,000 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for restricting its customers access to a competing cell service, Vonage. This was the first time throttling was used on such a scale that helped strengthen the sentiment that Net Neutrality is necessary for an effective and fair internet.

Net Neutrality remained unchallenged in the judicial system until 2015, when the United States Telecom Association, a trade organization, filed suit against the FCC over their new “open internet rules”, a set of guidelines adopted which banned blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of Internet traffic. The D.C. Circuit Court ruled that broadband is protected under the Communications Act of 1934, this meant that ISPs could not unjustly discriminate against content they dislike or content that could potentially harm their business.

If Net Neutrality is not upheld by the FCC, anyone who uses the internet will be affected greatly. Currently, the FCC holds ISPs to a certain standard of transparency. Without Net Neutrality, however, the FCC will not be able to regulate any ISPs. The task would fall to the Federal Trade Commission, a group that regulates trade – not public utilities like the internet. This would allow any ISP to change their policies without notifying their customers. Secondly, nothing would stop an ISP from banning any content they dislike. Third, ISPs would be allowed to provide preferential treatment to an affiliated or well established company; this could push smaller start-ups completely out of business.

On June 12, 2017, a ‘Day of Action’ was held to get the word out about the FCC’s plans to jettison the existing Net Neutrality guidelines. On this day, the internet was plastered with pop-ups urging users to get in contact with the FCC and demand that Net Neutrality be upheld. The first and most prominent company to join in was Following Amazon were other well known companies like Facebook, Apple, AT&T, Netflix, and Google. The burden of keeping Net Neutrality in the public eye falls upon any citizen who desires a free and open internet.

Writing emails and letters to your local and state representatives is essential – without communication, it becomes difficult for governmental representatives to understand the concerns of their constituents. If the FCC does jettison its Net Neutrality guidelines, Congress would have the job of reforming the law, and for Congress to effectively do this, they must be informed. Another important step for a concerned citizen to take would be to only support ISPs who have expressed support for Net Neutrality, if you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a choice of ISP.


Returning to PA

What makes Providence a school like no other? Some people would say the academics. Others would say the religious aspect. But for me it was something different.
On October 14th, I came back to Providence, only this time I had a different outlook. I left Providence for many reasons. My main reason was that I thought I would get a better “high school experience” at a public school. I felt like Providence lacked the opportunities I wanted to have and the experience I thought I should have in high school.
At first, I loved Maple Grove. I loved how independent I felt and how diverse everyone around me was.

Fran Bensen (left) with her PA classmates Mimi Meadows, Cristina Albee and Maddy Young.

But eventually, my love for the school began to fade. I grew up only in private schools and wasn’t familiar with anything else. I grew up sheltered from the ‘real world’ which made it harder to transition from Providence to Maple Grove. I thought I would be fine since all my soccer teammates had gone to Maple Grove. They loved it, and that was one of the reasons I wanted to go.
But I also forgot the fact that they grew up in a public school. That was all they knew and they felt comfortable there. My problem was that everything I knew I knew from Providence. I felt comfortable at Providence and I lacked that feeling at Maple Grove.
Providence is a school like no other to me because I feel blessed and happy everyday at school. I like how comfortable I can be around my friends, and I love the freedom that Providence allows me to have. Providence allows me to be both independent and still feel connected with everyone around me.
However, many who have left and returned to Providence have had different reasons for their return. Ninth grader Fran Benson left Providence last year and went to Eden Prairie. She returned for reasons different than mine. She left Providence because of how hard the academics were, but returned because of how easy the academics at Eden Prairie were. Though she loved her friends at her new school, she missed how challenged she was at Providence.
Though many like Fran and I have left and returned, other students have left and not came back. An example of a student who has left and not came back is 10th grader Grace Nickoloff, who now attends Mounds View. Grace Nickoloff said, “Providence was not the right fit for me and I wanted to play at a higher level for sports. The academics were also challenging and I had trouble balancing my sports and the academics at Providence.”
Providence is not the school for everyone. You have to find a place where you feel most comfortable. For some, Providence was not that place. But for the ones who have left and returned, Providence is home.