By Anna Taché
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.
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.
By: Claire O’Rourke and Uma Ribeiro
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.
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.
By: Claire O’Rourke and Uma Ribeiro
Features and Co-News Editor
Hammond has received the HCPSS Sportsmanship Cup for the fourth time, truly demonstrating the positive teamwork Hammond’s sports teams reflect on a daily basis. With encouraging coaches and helpful teammates, it is no surprise that Hammond has been the recipient of this award four times in the past five years among all the other high schools within the county. Dr. DiPaula and Mr. Lerner were presented with the award by the HCPSS Board of Education.
Mr. Lerner, Hammond’s athletic director, commented on winning the award, saying “The award is a big deal. It’s the only athletic award that is recognized by the Board of Education. We have great kids and our coaches really enjoy what they do. One of the things [our coaches] try and do in addition to teaching the kids the sport is teaching them the right way to win and the right way to lose: to win with class and lose with class. We’re also always hospitable to our opponents and when we are at away facilities we try and leave them better than we found them. Our kids and coaches are doing the right thing, and that’s really why we win the award so often.”
Sportsmanship at Hammond is seen everywhere, he continued. “You see [sportsmanship] all over the place. In athletic contests, like, [for instance], in wrestling contests, after [a wrestler] pins a kid, we might help them off the mat, and our kids don’t gloat if we win, and they don’t pout if they lose. Hammond is so great because we are so diverse and people really get along well. It’s pretty incredible to see, so not only is [sportsmanship demonstrated] within our athletics program, but it is in our whole school as well.”
The Sportsmanship Cup is not only impactful to our directors here at Hammond, but also holds meaning for many of the individual athletes.
Coach Mike Lerner has won the award for District V Athletic Director for the 2018-2019 school Year, and students definitely think it was well-deserved! He cares more about his athletes and players than most people could ever hope for. His caring yet witty personality is just one of the things that makes him loved by so many. W!
Coach Lerner has impacted the lives of so many and his athletes have nothing but respect for him and his genuine caring attitude towards them, whether it be on the court, on the field, or in the classroom. Senior Jordan Davis knows how deserving Coach Lerner is of this award saying, “He truly cares about his athletes. He is one of the kindest people I have ever met and has helped me throughout my athletic career.” Being a hardworking father and husband, Lerner still puts all he has into his job and it truly shows. Coach Lerner shows to his athletes that they are always the priority and he makes it known that he is always in their corner.
By: Laura Mosier
John Seibel, Hammond’s 9th Grade Administrator, was awarded with the Maryland Assistant Principal of the Year for the 2017-2018 school year. The Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director Scott Pfeifer held the formal celebration in honor of John Seibel. There was also a celebration at Hammond after school on October 3rd that was attended by former Hammond Principal Marcy Leonard.
Mr. Seibel has worked at Hammond for seven years, and he loves working with all the people that are a part of our Hammond community.“[The] School is awesome, [the] committee is awesome, [and there are] great kids. It’s a place where kids appreciate what you do for them and you want to do more for kids.” He genuinely enjoys his job and wants to help the students and staff. He works overtime to make sure everyone’s needs are met, and his hard work is appreciated and rewarded.
Many students have directly benefited from the efforts of Mr. Seibel. Senior Sara Swanson, has known Mr. Seibel throughout all of her time at Hammond. She said, “He genuinely cares about each and every student in the school… He will always say hello in the hallway and ask how your day is going.” Sara is not the only student that thinks Mr. Seibel is an irreplaceable part of the school.
In the class Human Growth & Development, students were assigned a project in which they carry around a baby made out of flour or sugar to simulate life as a parent of a newborn. The students had the artistic liberty to design the baby to appear realistic, but not all are decorated. Guidelines for this project require students to have their “baby” with them at all times for the span of a school week from January 7th to 11th, which would mean that participants would still do their normal daily tasks while accompanied by a “child.”
To the average teenager, this task may seem daunting; however, the “parents” of the flour and sugar babies did an excellent job, keeping their cool and simulating caring for the child in a calm fashion.
“This project is a simulation of a real life parenting situation where [the students] should be having a 24 hour responsibility of having and caring for a child,” Ms. Lancaster commented.
Most kids seem to think that this is a challenging project because they are not used to taking one thing around at all times with them, unless it is their phone. “This project has made me realize that there is more to taking care of a baby then feeding and providing a shelter,” said Jasmine Britt, a 10th grader.
By: Brian Paul
In 2023, Hammond High School is set to be renovated for the first time since 2011. In March 2018, former Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman proposed a construction budget of approximately 165 million dollars, which included a 4 million dollar education project set towards improvements here at Hammond High School. The building of Hammond High is about 41 years old, and the mentioned improvements include an overhaul of heating and cooling systems, and a rumored second floor. This rumored new floor would look to accommodate 200 more students, as Hammond is currently designed for 1,220 students.
Superintendent Michael J. Martirano met with the County Council and the Howard County Board of Education in order to advance the target completion date from 2028 to 2023. The original completion date was proposed for 2018, but due to other educational projects in Howard County, the date was pushed back as a result of rapid population growth over the past few years.