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The Controversy of Banned Books

Staff Writer, Chris Bennett

For the past 25 years, the United States has exhibited an event known as Banned Book Week. Often held the last week of September, this event calls attention to the banning and challenging of books, books facing these circumstances, and helps raise awareness of the freedom to read. The event was started in 1982, following a spike in the challenging of various works of literature, and was founded in an attempt to stop the banning of books. So what does it mean to ban a book? And how is it different from challenging a book?

Banned books are novels which have been removed from a place for one or multiple reasons. The severity of a ban can range from the novel in question being banned from one school or library, to being banned completely in a state, or even nationwide. A challenged book is one that has not been banned, but has been labeled as offensive by a person or group and thus faces the threat of becoming banned. If a novel is or has been frequently challenged, or challenged in excess, the book may eventually be banned.

Why are certain books challenged and banned?

In many cases, banned and challenged books contain inappropriate content, discuss a controversial topic, or are highly offensive to a certain ethnicity, religion, or political group. In recent years, the most challenged books have been ones deemed “sexually explicit” or “racist”, books with excessive profanity, and books viewed as inappropriate for their target audience. For example, children’s books depicting homosexuality and/or transgenderism have recently come under fire, as it has been argued these issues are too advanced for the mind of a young child to grasp.

There are several opinions on the subject of banning controversial material, with different arguments for each. Several people interviewed, and presumably a majority of the population, argue against the censorship of books, claiming that censoring material of any kind is a violation of the First amendment right to free speech (especially for the author), and causes people to become ignorant of certain opinions and ideas. Presumably, others argue that schools, libraries, and governments should have the right to ban books, arguing that some material is just too extreme or inappropriate for the public to be exposed to, and can be harmful to society. A majority interviewed, and likely a high percentage of the general public, have an opinion somewhere in the middle, arguing that while most books shouldn’t be banned, there are several notable exceptions when it becomes necessary to censor material. An example of a middle opinion is that of sophomore Amani Abumais, who commented “I think banning books is wrong. The authors have the right of free expression. But if an author has bad intentions for a book, or is using it to promote hate towards a certain group, it should be banned.

What are the pros and cons of banning books?

While the censorship of specific literature has little benefit, there are a few prominent positives. The biggest positive of being able to ban questionable or offense books is that doing so can prevent children from discovering more adult issues before they are ready to handle and understand them. This pro-book banning argument was put into terms by freshman Liam Holder, who commented “Banning books shields kids from the the horror of reality.” Banning books that are racist or insulting can be a good thing too, as it can prevent the groups targeted from becoming offended, and helps keep community relations strong.

However, these few benefits are greatly outweighed by the many negative consequences this practice presents. The biggest con is that banning books, in many instances, is a direct violation of the First Amendment right to free speech and expression, and is the very definition of censorship. This especially impacts the authors of these books, as their stories and opinions can no longer be heard, and they can no longer profit from the particular book or books banned. Even worse, the author’s whole reputation, or even career, can be tarnished if one of their works is banned, as this causes people to view the author unfavorably. Also, the censoring of books also often means the loss of history and ideas. As Sophomore, Luke Thomasson, commented, “If people censor books, they risk forgetting history; or repeating it.” Many people also argue that if someone is offended by a book, they should just leave it on the shelf and not try to have it banned for everyone else. Teacher, Justin Ingram, summarized the argument stating, “Once you start to censor things, you have to draw the lines, which is confusing and difficult. If you’re offended by a book, just don’t read it.”

While the efforts of librarians, teachers, and students have prevented the banning of many books, hundreds of challenges are still issued every year by various groups against several novels, with 10% of all books challenged eventually becoming banned. Some books even face the possibility of becoming banned nearly every year, as they are challenged dozens, or even hundreds of times. Worst of all, it is no longer just controversial material being banned and challenged. Some of the greatest books and book series in literary history now face the threat of being banned, or experiencing a much greater ban. Books like Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and even the Holy Bible have come under fire in recent years. Even the series Captain Underpants has become targeted, being the most challenged book in both 2012 and 2013, and receiving even more challenges than books with profanity and sexual content like Fifty Shades of Grey.

What should be done about book banning and challenging?

Those interviewed suggested petitioning governments and other organizations to prevent the banning of books, or creating something that will cause people to reconsider their choice. The American Library Association (ALA) website also has a page where those wanting to “stand for the banned,” where people can submit videos of themselves talking about the issues of censorship, or arguing for the unbanning of specific books. If people want to stop book banning they have to take action. In order to prevent the silence of censorship, people will have to speak out.

Works Cited and Further Reading:

(1996). Banned Books. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks

Berry, S. (August 24, 2017) Parents Frightened: Kindergarteners ‘Crying, Shaking’ Over Transgender Book Teacher Read. Retrieved from http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/08/24/parents-frightened-kindergartners-crying-shaking-transgender-book-teacher-read/

Brady, A. (September 22, 2016) The History (and Present) of Banning Books in America. Retrieved from http://lithub.com/the-history-and-present-of-banning-books-in-america/

Banned Books That Shaped America. Retrieved from http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/censorship/bannedbooksthatshapedamerica

(2013) Bannings and Burnings in History. http://www.freedomtoread.ca/links-and-resources/bannings-and-burnings-in-history/#.WdA8oEuGPrf

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Test Stress

Staff Writer, Chris Bennett

The stressful test. We’ve all been there. The teacher said there was going to be a test. A big test. That counts for 5% of the class grade. So you studied everyday, reviewed your notes, practiced problems. You’re ready. As you sit at your desk those tense few moments before the test begins, you feel like you’re in the zone. You know everything, nothing can stop you. The test starts, you look at the paper, and the panic begins. Sweat beads form as you think about the importance of the test and the possibility of failure. You obsess over the problems you can’t solve, second-guess yourself, forget some of what you’ve learned. The stress continues to amount as you check your answers. Are they right? Are they complete? Did I follow the instructions correctly? The test ends, it’s over. But did my hard work pay off? Did I get a good grade?

Welcome to the world of test anxiety, something many students here at Voyager Academy must often contend with. But what is test anxiety? Test anxiety is the fear of failure experienced before or during a test, and often prevents students from performing to the best of their ability by inducing panic and a wealth of other symptoms. Test anxiety can affect anyone, but how it does so largely depends on a person’s personality and mentality. Large tests, often those with a high degree of importance, can be especially taxing even for those who don’t experience test anxiety often. Unit tests, final exams, SATs, ACTs, and AP exams are some of the most stressing, as a good score can sometimes mean the difference between failing or passing, or whether or not a prestigious college will consider you as a potential student and/or offer a scholarship.

With tests, each student often has a time period or periods where the stress reaches an apex. For several students, the days leading to test day grow increasingly stressful, as they worry if they have studied enough, understand everything and attempt to balance test preparation with homework and extracurriculars. “With a big test, you know it’s coming, and the stress increases as it draws closer, ” stated freshman Daniel Bryant. “It’s a lot to manage.” added sophomore Noah Wells. Others don’t worry so much about the material on the test, but rather the impact on their class average. “Students find big tests stressful because they worry about the impact on their grade,” commented AP Human Geography and AP US History teacher James Mills. For some, the worry doesn’t begin until the test does. These individuals obsess over the actual test, rather than what is prior to or after the evaluation. Others still find the period after the test to be most stressful, as they worry about results and panic if they believe they missed a certain question or two.

In addition to experiencing stress during different time periods, many students experience different side effects from test anxiety. For some pupils, the struggle is heavily mental. They experience effects like loss of concentration, loss of memory, self-doubt, or compare themselves to others. They may also become easily agitated, emotional, or confused while they work. “Sometimes when I test, I panic. Other times, I feel self-doubt.” sophomore Kylie Cabrera commented. For others, the stress takes a more physical toll. These people may experience light-headedness, hyperventilation, or develop a rapid heartbeat. Many people react through movement, by doing things like pressing their hands to their temples, tapping their fingers or pencils, moving their legs, stroking their hair, biting their nails, or repeatedly shifting. “If I’m stressed when taking a test, I might bite my nails or shake my feet to deal with it.” commented sophomore Holden Buchanan. Christian Jimerson added “Under stress, I’ll fidget or tap my fingers on my desk to stay relaxed.”

It isn’t just the large exams that induce fear and apprehension either. Pop quizzes can often be just as excruciating. Since they are unpredictable in nature and focus on material students are just becoming familiar with, they often make pupils feel unprepared and constantly on edge about the possibility of one happening. Senior Ugonna Ezuma-igwe captured student’s feelings on the matter. “Pop quizzes are very stressful. I’m already stressed as it is, and now, I have to deal with a surprise quiz.” Pop quizzes rarely demonstrates a student’s full capabilities, as the influence of stress and the different learning pace among students often give inaccurate results. Due to this, many teachers have opted to only use them rarely, or not at all. “Pop quizzes are a poor assessment of a student’s knowledge.” stated MathⅠteacher Christian Gloade. “I don’t believe pop quizzes show what a student can really do.” added Microsoft teacher Charles Robinson.

Since tests can also be poor indicators of a student’s knowledge, especially for those that are heavily influenced by test anxiety, several teachers opt to perform testing rarely, or even decide not to give tests and quizzes. These teachers instead turn to a variety of other methods to convey information and assess knowledge, like projects, class games and activities, or group discussions. These different methods of information can help to assess students better by giving the opportunity to channel creativity and let students apply what they’ve learned, rather than simply use that knowledge to answer questions. One of the strongest supporters of this new method of academic assessment is Civics and Economics teacher Steven Gatlin, who has not given a test outside of the finals and midterms in six years. “I think tests are not the best way to assess knowledge. Projects are much more effective. They give students a chance to apply what they’ve learned in places outside of the classroom.”

While tests are now gradually losing popularity, they shall most likely remain a part of education forever, and will never vanish completely. So how should teachers test students? And how often should they do it? Many students reported most forms of testing beyond multiple choice are quite stressful for them, with the most troublesome being essay tests. While these types of tests are essential in English classes, and are sometimes used to measure how well a pupil can communicate knowledge, they often induce panic. It can be difficult to transfer one’s thoughts onto paper, and since answers must be designed, not chosen, leaving something out will often cost valuable points. The response of an anonymous student showed the reasoning behind the fear. “Essay tests are taxing. With multiple choice, there are options, while with essay tests, if the answer is even partially wrong, the teachers will subtract points.”

As for the subject of test frequency, opinions are widely varied among both teachers and students. Some believe testing should be used frequently, saying that it helps to keep material fresh, while others claim it should be used rarely, as a review of a unit or subject. Others even say it should never be used, since there are so many other assessment options and several issues with testing.

With testing forever remaining a part of education, test anxiety will also fail to vanish. With this in mind, it’s important to confront it and ensure the effects it causes remain minimal. But how should one do so? Naturally, studying is essential, since being unprepared or feeling so is the most likely the reason for both testing stress and lower scores. MathⅡteacher Yen Nguyen especially recommends studying, saying that a lack of preparation is the biggest stress inducer. “Lack of studying is the biggest contribution to test anxiety. In most cases, students don’t study until the last minute for a test. Then the test becomes stressful since they’re unprepared.” Also, don’t wait until the night before the test to study, but study several days in advance if you can.

When you study, don’t just look over notes and worksheets, but practice problems and/or have someone quiz you. If the test is on a topic that you struggle with, don’t wait until the day of the test or afterwards to get help. Go to tutoring or talk with a parent as soon as possible. The night before a test, go to bed somewhat early if you can, and eat a good, healthy breakfast the following morning. When you’re sleep deprived or hungry while taking a test, as it becomes challenging to concentrate and think clearly. For these same reasons, avoid all nighters or skipping breakfast before a test.

When you test, don’t linger over problems you don’t know. Do everything you’re comfortable with and then come back to the tough ones. If you keep trying to solve a hard problem, you could run out of time and miss the chance to answer easy questions that would have boosted your score. If you get really stressed in a test setting or are easily distracted by other students, consider asking the teacher to if you can test in another room or outside in the hall. After the test, don’t obsess over your score or what it is if you won’t find out until later. Try and remember that this test isn’t everything and instead of asking yourself “What’s my score?”, ask yourself “Do I know the material?”. Understanding what you’re learning matters more than what score you got on a test. However, if your score is really low, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t, when that material reappears, it could hurt you again on future tests and class assignments, and even things like the finals or the SAT.

Also, remember this is only a test. Be more concerned about understanding the material than the score on your sheet. An A means nothing if you don’t truly understand what you’re learning and forget about it shortly afterwards. A C means everything if you know what you’re doing and you worked hard for it. Just try hard and work hard. Then no test will stand in your way on the road to success.

Works Cited:

Test Anxiety. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/test-anxiety

Lyness, D’Arcy. (2013, July). Test Anxiety. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/test-anxiety.html#

 

Tutti Frutti | Savory Frozen Yogurt

Staff Writer, Chris Bennett

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 7.58.44 AMAre you or your family looking for a new place to eat this evening? Do you enjoy variety, originality, or both? Is a welcoming, pleasant environment important to you when it comes to restaurants? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, visit Tutti Frutti.

Tutti Frutti is a self-serve, pay by weight frozen yogurt store, where customers create their own frozen delight. Clean and well maintained, the eatery offers a peaceful, casual dining experience. The inside is colorful and modern in appearance, and furnished with several tables and booths. For those who enjoy dining outside, there are benches lining the plaza and outdoor tables. Lastly, those who desire dinner before enjoying a savory frozen yogurt can do so, as there are several different restaurants beside Tutti Frutti, making dinner and dessert easy and convenient.

Tutti Frutti’s signature is their frozen yogurt, of which there are many flavors. Beyond classics like chocolate and vanilla, there are dozens of options to satisfy any type of customer. For those that desire something sugary, the chain offers a variety of flavors sweet flavors, including bubble gum, chocolate peanut butter cup, and cheesecake. For those that crave a healthy treat, the restaurant also hosts a wealth of fruit flavored creations. Some of these options include blueberry, strawberry, mango, and original tart, Tutti Frutti’s signature confection. For the adventurous eaters, there are several wild flavors offered, like pistachio, toasted marshmallow, and creamed corn, and the option to combine flavors through the swirl option, or just using multiple different flavors. For the consumer that wants something new, but doesn’t want to fill up a cup right away, sample cups are available upon request, ensuring customers find the right flavor every time. Best of all, flavors alternate daily, meaning there’s always new options at every visit.

The fun doesn’t end with the yogurt either. Tutti Frutti offers a wide variety of toppings to grace frozen treats as lightly or heavily as desired. And as with the yogurt, there’s a topping for everyone. Those who like a simple confection might enjoy whipped cream and hot fudge with a fruit like strawberries or blueberries, or a candy topping, like M&m’s, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or York Peppermint Patties. Customers can even savor baked goods like brownie pieces, cookie dough bites, or pound cake. Those who like it extravagant can enjoy crazy toppings like gummy bears, marshmallows, kiwi slices, or even Captain Crunch cereal on their sweet treat. For those who don’t like solid toppings, there are also several syrup flavors to utilize, including a variety of chocolate syrups and caramel syrup.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 7.58.49 AM

But what if a customer doesn’t want frozen yogurt? Tutti-Frutti offers as many options for frosty beverages as they do for yogurt. There is a bountiful selection of frappes, lattes, and fruit smoothies on the menu, as well as a multitude of bubble teas, the signature drink at the establishment. There’s even the option of iced coffee or a frozen hot chocolate.

For those that can’t eat frozen yogurt, desire a healthier choice, or just want something different in general, Tutti Frutti also offers a selection of fruit flavored sorbets. These sorbets are both dairy free and a healthier alternative to the yogurt, making them ideal for the health conscious or the lactose intolerant. For those aiming to avoid gluten, the restaurant even has a few options for soy yogurt.

Directions to Tutti Frutti from Voyager Academy: Retrieved from https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Voyager+Academy+High+School,+Ben+Franklin+Boulevard,+Durham,+NC/Tutti+Frutti+Frozen+Yogurt,+3710+Shannon+Rd,+Durham,+NC+27707/

Reviews: Tutti Frutti. Retrieved from https://www.yelp.com/biz/tutti-frutti-durham-3

Photos: Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt. Retrieved from www.tuttifruttify.com

Jessica, M.M. Retrieved from http://www.foodfindsasia.com/tutti-frutti-perfect-for-everybody/

Inside Look:

Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt of Durham NC. Retrieved from https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g49092-d4417562-Reviews-Tutti_Frutti_Frozen_Yogurt_of_NC-Durham_North_Carolina.html

Menu and Official Website of Tutti Frutti:

Frozen Yogurt Flavors. Retrieved from http://tfyogurt.com/mhome/flavors-creamy/