Creating a Safe Space for Everyone: Hammond’s New All-Gender Restroom

By Anna Taché

Editorials Editor

It’s a new year, and Hammond has lots of changes. A large freshman class, new sports coaches, more crowding in hallways, etc. Hammond also has another change that has peaked the attention of many: a new gender-neutral bathroom. Hammond’s new “all-gender” restroom, which now replaces the former boys’ bathroom situated near Mrs. Osborne’s room, has already created a bit of controversy within the time that school has been in session. Some people believe that a gender-neutral restroom could cause issues with both boys and girls using the bathroom at the same time, while others believe that it is a necessary accommodation for nonbinary and trans students. 

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Photo Courtesy of The Bear Press

The gender-neutral restroom was originally created for nonbinary and trans students who don’t feel comfortable using bathrooms that are for the gender that they don’t identify with. 

But to some students, that meaning has become misconstrued. Some students feel uncomfortable using that restroom, due to the fact that different genders can use the bathroom at the same time. “I think that I wouldn’t be comfortable using the bathroom because both boys and girls can use it,” says Junior Han Le. “One of my family members here at school used it, and they said it was bad.” 

Although some students aren’t very comfortable with the gender-neutral bathroom, others are very supportive of the bathroom, like Junior Iman Tura. “We have a lot of nonbinary and non-gender conforming students that go to Hammond that should have access to a bathroom that they feel comfortable using.” Another supporter of the all-gender restroom is Senior Liya Kebede. “I feel that it’ll have a positive impact on those who have been waiting for a bathroom like this, or even a space like this, where they can feel safe, and that they don’t have to double-think about which bathroom they’re quote-unquote ‘supposed’ to use,” says Kebede. Although she is supportive of the bathroom, she still worries about the treatment and use of the bathroom, stating that she “think[s]that there are some people at Hammond who may take advantage of the fact that it’s an all-gender restroom.”

Overall, many students at Hammond are supportive of the new all-gender restroom, but they still have their worries. In order for the bathroom to be used in the way that it was originally intended to be, it should be publicized more as a restroom where nonbinary and trans people can feel safe. 

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Hobbs and Shaw Revs Up Summer Fun

By Troy Kelly

Staff Writer

The Fast and Furious series has come back with yet another hit movie, entitled Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw. Hobbs and Shaw boasts 41/2 star reviews and a strong cast, including stars like Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, and Idris Elba. To no surprise, this globetrotting adventure has plenty of action and comedy, much like the other movies that Johnson and Statham have starred in, as the two of them care constantly at each other’s throats.

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Dwayne Johnson: Ay bruh whats the time?

Jason Statham: Oi, cheerio, mate, its 17:00 hours

Dwayne Johnson: Thanks brother.

Jason Statham: No problem *brofist*.

Brixton Lorr (Elba) is an evil cybernetically modified soldier who possesses superhuman abilities such as super strength and enhanced intelligence, along with an arsenal of weapons and impressive cars. He plans to spread a virus around the world that could end up killing half of the world’s population. It’s up to Officer Hobbs (Johnson), a world-renowned hero, and British intelligence agent Deckard Shaw (Statham) to save the world. However, they first have to set aside their differences.

The stunts were absolutely astounding, leaving me breathless throughout the entire movie. The Fast and Furious franchise never slacks on the car chasing scenes, as they are well-known for stunts including cars. The movie was filled with action-packed car chasing scenes that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Some of the stunts they pulled even made me want to try them myself.  “I like the chase scenes… the helicopter part was my favorite,” said Freshman Ryan Hope. Hobbs and Shaw pushes the boundaries on what was possible to do in a car chase, which truly made the whole movie come together.

The fight scenes were also a major factor in helping the movie come together as a whole. What stuck out most to me was how each fight scene complemented each character and their style of fighting. For example, Hobbs used brute strength and size to dominate his opponents, whereas Shaw used skillful techniques to break down his opponent and render them useless.

Overall, Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw was a hit that lived up to the expectations of all Fast and Furious fans. “It was a great movie, I didn’t think it was gonna be so good because it was a spin-off,” said Senior and avid Fast and Furious fan Sam Mercedes. Much like Sam, I thought the movie couldn’t have been any better than any of the previous movies in the franchise. However, to my surprise, it was everything I wanted and much more. I would high recommend it to anyone who likes action, adventure, and a whole lot of laughs. 

Easing Up on the Code: Students Welcome New Year Changes

By Chinaza Ezeh

Staff Writer

The beginning of the 2019-2020 school year was brought in with a significant new change: major revisions to the Howard County Public School System dress code.

For the past ten years, the dress code remained the same. Now, the new code states: “Students are permitted to wear: Hats, hoods and headwear […] Tank tops, including spaghetti straps, halter tops, and strapless tops” (HCPSS Student Code of Conduct 2019-2020). The biggest grievances that were outlined in the former dress code were the prohibition of tank tops; halter tops; tops that are strapless, hats, and hoods (HCPSS Student Code of Conduct). Despite these clothing outlines being clearly stated in the dress code, the guidelines were broken on an almost daily basis by a number of students. 

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Seniors Ali Khalid and Jidechi Eluchie exercising their rights as outlined in the new dress code. Photo Credit Bear Press.

Senior Bhumi Patel, who has attended Hammond High School since her freshman year, has observed over the years that the “original dress code was not being followed at all.”  She believes that the new dress code has “helped people just do what they originally did without getting in trouble […] No one really cares.” The lack of adherence to the dress code is a significant reason that Patel believes the dress code was changed in the first place.

One student who had personal issues with the former dress code is junior Jasmine Britt. She stated that before the change, the only way it impacted her was “whether or not I decided to bring a jacket to school [to cover my shoulders].” Now, that is no longer something she has to deal with, which she appreciates, due to her limited clothing options in other areas of her life. “I have so many outfits that I can’t wear because I have to go to work, and that [requires] uniform,” Britt shared, “So, school is the only place I can really express my clothing choices.”

One big question among certain students is why it took so long to finally bring about a new dress code. Junior Makayla Laurents shared her thoughts on the subject, stating that one of the reasons she believed it took so long for the dress code to be updated because of men. “My dad gave me this speech, like, if you wear [a certain] outfit then you’re going to be [harassed].” She believes if this was not a concern, the dress code would have looked different a long time ago.

When asked if the new dress code would impact the way she dressed for school, Patel responded that “her [personal] dress code originally fitted the old dress code.” However, other students do not feel the same way. A prime example is senior Ali Khalid, who has also attended Hammond High School for all four years of his high school experience. “I like to wear hats and caps, but because of the dress code I was often told to take them off. Now, with the new dress code, I’m allowed to wear these things. So honestly, I’m happy with it.” It is safe to say that the rest of the Hammond student community is just as happy with the change as well.

What Did the U.S. Gain From the Vietnam War?

By Chris Parris 

Staff Writer

The Vietnam War was a conflict that saw the United States battle against the North Vietnamese in order to stop them from making South Vietnam a communist government. From 1965 to 1973, the United States played a major part in the conflict. Most of the United States Armed Forces withdrew from the war and Vietnam would eventually become unified as a communist nation two years later. The Vietnam War has been deemed as one of the most controversial wars in modern history and the conflict’s effects still linger. Even though the United States lost the war, we managed to gain quite a few things.

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Photo Source: Life & Time Pictures

Because of the Vietnam War, the draft no longer exists. During the Vietnam War, thousands of young men were drafted and shipped overseas. As the war went on the draft grew unpopular. The draft ceased to exist in 1973 when the United States Armed Forces became an all-volunteer military force. The improvement of weaponry and military tactics was another gain from the Vietnam War. By the war’s end, battle rifles were replaced with assault rifles; light machine guns and grenade launchers were incorporated into squads; the concept of having helicopters transport soldiers to and from combat zones was conceived; jungle warfare became better understood. 

Prior to the Vietnam War, terms such as “war neurosis” and “gross stress reaction” were used to describe veterans who had psychological problems after returning home from combat. The psychological trauma that Vietnam veterans displayed for years after the war led to a deeper understanding of mental illness in all veterans. In 1980, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD) became an official medical term as a result of years of  studies involving Vietnam veterans and veterans from other wars. Nowadays, psychological problems that veterans face are better understood and can now get proper services and benefits.

And finally, the Vietnam War changed how wars are covered by the news media. The Vietnam War has been considered as the “first televised war.” Every night, the American Public would watch the news and see raw, uncensored footage of firefights, airstrikes, and casualties. Wars continue to be covered by the news media but the footage that is aired is not as graphic. 

Yes, the United States lost the Vietnam War. Our efforts to stop Vietnam from becoming a communist country miserably failed. We suffered over 58,000 killed and thousands of veterans continue to suffer from PTSD and illnesses brought on by exposure to defoilants such as Agent Orange. However, the conflict brought innovations to weapons and military tactics, the purge of the draft, a better understanding of psychological problems that combat veterans face, and changed how the media covers wars.

Students Angered by New Extra Credit Policy

By: Claire O’Rourke and Uma Ribeiro

Staff Writer

Revised for this 2019-2020 school, policy 8020.III.6 states: “Extra credit is not offered in Grades 6-12. However, students may be provided with opportunities to recover credit and demonstrate mastery through other relevant coursework. Opportunities should be given to students who are not passing whenever possible.”

The new extra credit policy was implemented this school year, stating that no students in middle school and up can receive extra assignments to boost their grades. The committee working on revising the HCPSS policies offered reasoning for this change in that students in the past had been skipping papers or other big projects banking on the less arduous extra credit opportunities to make up for their grades. 

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An Example of an Extra Credit Assignment: Hester Prynne by Terra O’Rourke

The new policy brings both positives and negatives to the table, as students are now forced to complete larger and more in-depth assignments that are part of the core curriculum rather than skipping them and waiting for the easier extra credit work. 

Skipping those larger assignments take away the students’ ability to truly learn needed academic skills, such as those acquired when writing a research paper or lab report. However, the policy overall can mostly be seen as a disadvantage to students, especially to those in high school, as with full schedules packed with extracurricular activities, sports practice, and homework, honor-roll students are bound to miss or not perform well on a few assignments.

Teachers are also disadvantaged by this policy. Despite having effective teaching abilities, some students might not be achieving as high a grade in a class or two due to the new policy and overpacked, stressful schedules. Teachers also have to find new ways to give students “…opportunities to recover credit and demonstrate mastery through other relevant coursework” which can take away time from preparing main assignments and lessons. 

Math teacher Mr. Dicus expressed that while it makes sense not to give students hundred-point extra credit assignments for simple tasks, it does not make sense to prevent students from gaining a few extra points through extra assignments. “I agree that students shouldn’t be able to earn one-hunded fifty percent on something because [you cannot] demonstrate learning more than one-hundred percent of what you were supposed to learn. However, I do believe [teachers] should find ways for students to do enrichment [assignments] and earn credit when [needed].”

Hammond students have expressed their frustration at this new and sudden policy.  

Freshman Safi Hampton thinks the new policy inconveniences students. “[Extra credit] really helps [students] out at the end of the quarter and with midterms when you sometimes need just a couple more points, and now we can’t get those extra points and that kind of sucks. […] Since we have to be on top of stuff, and I guess we should be on top of everything anyway, now we really need to be on top of everything. Since there’s no way to get extra points now we have to get full points on every one of those assignments or else there’s no way of making it up.”

One junior commented, “I don’t like [the new policy] because [extra credit] helps boost grades sometimes. You used to be able to do extra work if you did bad on a big test, and now you can’t do that…If you’re not a good test taker, or if you just didn’t do well on a test then you no longer have a way to boost your grade…they should get rid of this policy.”

Meanwhile, sophomore Kelly Kujawa stated, “I think [the new extra credit policy] is an excessive attempt to control what [grade] people are able to get. I understand why they do it, however, it’s limiting those kids who really need it and it’s not giving them the opportunity to really strive for a good grade when they want it and are motivated to do it. When [students] are motivated to [change their grades for the better], they will take on the extra credit and that’s why I feel like it’s something that should be allowed to bump up their grade because they’re willing to put in that extra time and extra effort to get that extra good grade.” 

It is no secret that the American public school system does not cater to individual learning styles. While one student might ace tests and quizzes but not have the best work ethic, others might never miss homework assignments but be poor test-takers. Extra credit aided in helping all students, no matter their strong suits, and now that has been taken away. 

The lack of extra credit within Howard County this year is only making it harder for students to explore their individuality, as they will be even more concerned about grades. The worry over grades only lessens student creativity and curiosity.

Hammond Football: A New Era

By: Kayla Hendershot and Chinyere Godfrey

Editor-in-Chief and Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief

On September 6th 2019, Hammond’s Varsity Football Team leaves the Oakland Mills field with a spectacular win, ending the game with a score of 34, and Oakland Mills with a score of 21. This win has players and coaches excited for upcoming games and looking forward to the competitive season ahead. “After the first game I’m really looking forward to a winning season,” says Senior Isaiah Halloway, “Hammond hasn’t had a winning season in years, since my Freshman year we’ve always been 0 and 10, so for this year, to start off with a winning game against Oakland Mills is a lot of motor for the rest of the season.” 

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Courtesy of Hammond Sports

The players noticed the improvement and positive changes to the team and were able to adjust and train before the new season, leading to their big win at Oakland. The players were also ecstatic about the big win! Senior Noah Jackson says “It feels like the start of a new era. We have a new coach, Coach Bell, he’s great. We hadn’t beaten Oakland Mills since around 2013, so having that big win against them was really empowering.” 

Hammond didn’t just get this win handed to them though, it took a lot of work and preparation for the Bears to get this win over OM. “To prepare, we had a tough week of practice. Kids were very focused the entire week. We have new coaches and staff members and we changed our game plan on both sides and had a really good scout against them and had our kids prepared for what they’re gonna run and when they’re going to run it.” Said new Varsity coach, Coach Bell. 

 Although realizing there still is room for improvement, Coach Bell is still excited about the win, and for the season to come. “I feel great about the win,” says Bell, “I’m just happy for our players, happy for our coaches, happy for the school and it’s something that I think this whole school needed to kick start the year off that way. Hopefully we keep taking it one at a time and win again this week and continue that repeat.” Coach Bell is ready to push the players, and the players are ready to work their hardest throughout the season.

Hammond Football is ready for the new season and to show Howard County how we can play and how we can win. Senior Sam Mercedes says,“Our defense put on a clinic the first half and we really showed the county that we aren’t the same Hammond. But we still have a lot of improvement and we need to continue to prove that this is a new era for Hammond Football, week in and week out.” So far, Hammond’s Football team has proved themselves, and Hammond should have hope for the future.

Hammond’s Varsity Football team showed their improvement and determination to win after the defeat of the Scorpions, and are ready to show the county how we play, as a team, as a school, and as winners. Go Bears!

Fall Theatre Preview: “These Shining Lives”

By: Carlos O’Ryan

Online Editor

This November, Hammond High School’s Theatre Department will be putting on These Shining Lives for its annual fall production. 

Set in Ottawa, Illinois, during the 1920’s, These Shining Lives tells the true story of Catherine Donahue, a young mother and wife who begins working at the Radium Dial factory as her husband, Tom, does not make enough money to support their family on his own. Excited to hold her own job for once, Catherine quickly becomes close friends with her co-workers, Charlotte, Pearl, and Frances, and she finds that she excels in her work, painting watch faces on wrist and pocket watches, with glow-in-the-dark radium paint. Catherine has found her perfect life… until she starts to suspect that she is getting sick, and while her boss and the company doctors insist that nothing is wrong with her, she knows that something is fatally wrong.

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Image Courtesy of Avery Moe and the Hammond High Theatre Department

A drama full of heart about sisterhood, marriage, and the abuse of workers by large corporations, These Shining Lives is sure to tug at heartstrings and start the waterworks. Rehearsals for the show began on the first week of school. Sarah Meklir, 11th grader, when asked about her experienced acting in the play thus far, was ecstatic: “It’s honestly such a great group, I love developing my character and being able to interact with everyone involved in the show… and welcoming new people into the department is a blast.” 

 Starring Juniors Skylar Shaffer and Sarah Meklir as Catherine, Ali Khalid and Carlos O’Ryan as Tom, Danielle Gilbert and Julia Steinberg as Charlotte, Sydney Finger and Sera Chase as Pearl, Katie Marshall and Jasmine Britt as Frances, and Isaiah Olujide and John White as Mr. Reed. These Shining Lives performs November 7th and 8th at 7pm, and on Saturday, November 9th at 2 and 7 pm.