Tag Archives: Opinion

Understanding and talking thoughtfully about race

Race is so deeply felt in this country comparatively as a form of identity, and many find solace in their roots or become defensive over misrepresentation. As Americans, we believe it to be our greatest divisor or our only hope at integration. In this melting pot of a country, why do we find it so important? At the end of the day, identity is what everyone finds the most important. Being able to be uniquely you regardless of your story, ethnicity, nationality, or race and still find acceptance is the ultimate goal.

When speaking about race, many people can give you a multifaceted answer that involves one of three usual rebuttals. The first is usually a brief explanation of their racial or ethnic background. Something along the lines of being “Black,” “white,” or “Native American.” The second answer is usually discomfort with the topic. Some people grow up with backgrounds confusing them or that make the subject of race uncomfortable and, therefore, not central to their identity.

The third explanation would be along the lines of their nationality. You see this example often with individuals of Asian descent, as it becomes simpler for most to identify with their country of origin. For example, when asking senior Mung Siam about how he identifies racially, he said, “If I was asked, I would tell people I am Asian, but as per my ethnicity, it would be Burmese.”

When asking fellow senior Braylon Sims, what was most important, Ethnicity, Nationality, or Race, he told me, “That really is a tough question.” In an attempt to be fully understood and characterized correctly. Race and its intertwined nature with identity are imperative to connect with another person. It is the first step to bringing culture into the play of relationships with others and figuring out why and how we think and act the way we do. When asking Chris Wright, a member of the Black community and fellow MSJ senior, which of his identities were the most important? He said being Black was “integral to his identity.”

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After that, I spoke to cross country runner and senior student Christopher “CJ” Johnson Jr on being light skinned seen as mixed, and how it affects his life and identity. Being light-skinned can cause confusion with people less acclimated, as many will try to make someone choose a side, not realizing they’re asking someone to deny a part of their whole selves. When asked whether he internalized his encounters and whether they made him approach situations or conversations differently, he said, “yeah.” I also asked how much race means to his total identity he said, “around 60%,” and it is “not the end all be all” to who he is.

I had asked CJ if race had played a role and, if so, how important. He said it “played a considerable role in figuring out who I am. Having a predominantly white and predominantly Black side of my family led to me having to balance the two. Leading to me more so leaning to the Black side.” I asked if anything led to him leaning to either side, and he said, “family and environment.” The environment seems to be the leading determinant of what makes you in many cases. It is not news that children are products of their environments in many cases, and support and nurturing, will determine their roles as mentors and adults later in life.

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When speaking to these students, it is easy to see that even though race plays a massive part in their total identity, it seems to be the culture behind it that means the most to them. Analyzing the importance of their family structure and memories made. I am in no way saying that race is not important or that it defines a person in their entirety, but I am saying that it isn’t always the way things look but the way they are behind the veil.

Up to this point, I had been able to connect with and speak to other students my age, but I needed the perspective of someone with more profound knowledge about how race affects life. Knowing this, I looked to Mr. Shawn Turner for insight into race as it pertains to one’s identity and what he has noticed; being a Black man impacts someone’s upbringing, thought process, and interactions. My first question was how do you identify racially. Asking this question to a Black American is almost the same as allowing someone to differentiate themselves with their nationality. Being born and shaped by America completely converts the lived experience and, therefore, denomination by which you associate as a Black person. As a Black young man, I consider myself strictly Black/Black American. I do this because I cannot comfortably call myself African American since I have no lived experience in or from Africa.

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This allowed Mr. Turner to present the idea that, with being Black, in particular, things have context. Mr. Turner said, “I feel like, In professional settings, there is a tendency to want to say African American to identify a place where you came from and then the American piece.” He also said, “I learned to like Black more than African American.” He says this in comparison to white people and how someone whose family came from other countries would not have to be called an “Australian American” or otherwise because they’re being white, would just make them American as soon as they got here. Mr. Turner says, “I feel like as much as African American is used to dignify the Black population, it also feels kind of like a dig in a sense because I have to link you to where you came from and remind you of that but not necessarily do that in the other sense.”

I had asked Mr. Turner if there is any possibility to separate race and identity because many people have the question, ‘why is everything about race?’ or ‘how does it always go back to race?’ As people, we cannot remove any aspect of life and lived experience because it is at the expense of someone’s comfort, especially with race. Because of this, my question was not separate to remove, but separate from having varying levels of importance regarding what gets brought up or how we handle the two. Mr. Turner said, “When you talk about identity, you’re really talking about fractions…that part of my identity adds up to the whole me.”

He proceeds to also bring up the point that, “Race is the one identity of all of them that you can see. And you can’t look at me and see Christian or look at me and see those other things, but I think that’s where race has the most importance in terms of the consequences of your identity.” Mr. Turner says that you could see someone and see they are male or female but could not see that they are Christian. This is to say, a person could be seen as their race and judged as such, but it should not define them because everyone is made of the sum of their parts.

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Race can often dictate encounters and one’s portrayed image. Although the image always correlates with lived experience. How do you react to things because of where you came from? What caused your thought process? When analyzing race, the meaningful drawback almost everyone seems to find in some way, shape, or form, is heritage through the culture surrounding race. Knowing where you came from to order the steps in your direction. Race brings community and signifies growth. A person I do not look like, and they do not look like me, are inherently different for that fact. We can not live the same life from that factor alone on top of the difference in the family, area lived in, etc.

Race is one of those genetic factors that tie you to your person. Race is family, history, community, and individuality all at once. I find that better understanding yourself improves your quality of thinking and pulls specific ideas out of the dark. The next time race is brought up in conversation, make it thoughtful; understanding it is one step closer to finding out what it means to you.

Caleb Smith-Sims, Senior

Caleb Smith-Sims is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

How the Kelly Scholars’ new PSAT practice program is helping students

As the PSAT is now a few weeks behind us, the Brother James Kelly, CFX Scholar’s new initiative has gone off without a hitch. The class of 2024’s Kelly Scholars participated in morning tutoring sessions and an optional practice test in an attempt to improve scores on the PSAT, and most of its participants have come away with positive results.

According to Mr. Jason Ader, one of the moderators of the Kelly Scholars Program, the main goal is to give students practice. He said, “They’re already good at what they’re doing, but they don’t see the test enough – only once a year…Mount Saint Joe doesn’t teach for the test. We’re not a test-specific school, whereas other schools are.”

The program got its start in the spring of 2022, when Kelly Scholars were asked to sign in to Khan Academy’s Official SAT Practice. This site was linked to CollegeBoard, meaning that students’ PSAT scores would automatically be linked to the site, and students would receive targeted practice based on their scores.

Despite seeming like the perfect practice tool, there was no real incentive to continue to use it, and it fell out of favor among students. While this resource is still available to any MSJ student, this part of the program just wasn’t enough, as Mr. Ader put it, “Students just didn’t want to do it.”

The reading section of Khan Academy’s Official SAT Practice site. Photo credit: Alex Magno

Over the summer, school principal Mr. Frank Espinosa approached the two heads of the Kelly Scholars, Dr. Rebecca Obniski and Mr. Ader, and proposed that they expand on the initiative from the spring. According to Mr. Ader, “Dr. O and I just started brainstorming with the help of Mr. McDivitt and Mr. Espinosa, and this is the original program that we came up with.”

The practice test, which took place on the first of October, consisted of, “A half to three-quarters length practice PSAT test, where the students will take the test under the same sort of timing, and then they’ll get a focused review after that test.” This part of the program was not mandatory, having taken place on a Saturday.

What was mandatory were the four-morning tutoring sessions that took place over the span of two weeks. Each focused on its own specific section, one on reading, one on factoring, one on writing and grammar, and a final class on word problems. “The morning sessions thus far have been well attended…but no matter what, it has been more practice, and the more problems you see, the more prepared you are for the actual PSAT.”

Reactions to the morning sessions among Kelly Scholars were somewhat mixed. According to Mr. Ader, “some students I’ve talked to have said that it’s been incredibly helpful, others haven’t.” Riley Payne from the class of 2024 has more of an unorthodox opinion of his experience.

Riley Payne going over a PSAT practice test in the library. Photo credit: Alex Magno

According to Payne, he struggled a bit to pay attention each morning before school, “I think that’s what inspired me to seek out more practice on the test because I was thinking to myself, ‘I probably won’t remember most of this by the time I take the PSAT.’”

“I was able to look at most of those problems and say: ‘Oh, I’ve seen this one before.” I was feeling pretty confident in my accuracy,” said Payne.

Students are currently waiting for the results of the PSAT Test that they took earlier this month. But if the numbers are an improvement, as is hoped by Mr. Ader, then the program may be implemented and expanded for next year’s Kelly scholars.

Alex Magno is a member of the Multimedia Journalism class

The rise and fall of Andrew Tate

Disclaimer: The views shared by Andrew Tate and his community are not the opinions shared by The Quill or Mount St. Joseph High School.

After a brief stint with fame, self-proclaimed hustler Andrew Tate has been banned on most social media due to concern for his preaching towards young men. Tate is a 35-year-old British-American who rose to prevalence with his polarizing opinions on masculinity, especially in male teenagers. His ban sent waves throughout the internet as the former kickboxer completely dominated the online world this summer. Posting his final video to Vimeo, the only available video platform after his ban, Tate solemnly said that many of his quotes were wrongly taken out of context and that his eradication would leave a “black hole.”

Now that a few weeks have passed since his defeat and the dust has settled, we can question how Tate grew to such infamy and whether or not his ban was rational.

Tate had grown from 1 million Instagram followers in June to 4.5 million shortly before his ban. (Lumared, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Anyone who was on the internet this summer knew that Tate was everywhere, rapidly building a fanbase of young fans that knew him as the “Top G.” Fan accounts were reposting his debatable opinions, such as that depression isn’t real or that men need to “man up.” Content creators voiced their disagreements with him, and commenters were split entirely. Others think his controversial speeches are stunts to gain more traction for his “Hustler’s University” program since many of Tate’s sermons contain harmless motivational advice. An example of this is in his quote, “Close your eyes. Focus on making yourself feel excited and powerful. Imagine yourself destroying goals with ease.” 

The bigger problem is Tate does not only make controversial claims about the mindset and hard-workingness of young men but how disrespectfully they should treat women. He has said many times that women should be submissive to men; a more recent interview sees Tate admitting that he loves women but thinks they cannot fulfill the same roles that a man could, and vice versa. It is important to understand that Andrew Tate’s ideas when it comes to gender roles are sexist and harmful to listeners.

Tate claims that he should help women and protect them. But by comparing them to dogs, children, and sports cars, he endangers the minds of his listeners with sexist views.

Tate began his empire shortly after his failure to reach success on the reality series Big Brother in 2016; he began to overflow his pockets with money from crypto and casinos, but that didn’t stop him from continuing to expand his brand. By 2022, Tate had set up online learning programs such as “The War Room” and “Hustler’s University,” teaching money-making strategies through the online platform Discord. Costing $49 per month, H.U. taught the strategies of crypto, e-commerce, copywriting, stocks, affiliate, and freelance. Although receiving negative reviews from professionals, the “college” still thrives with over 100,000 members.

The critical success of Hustler’s University comes from the affiliate program, which tasked students to find somebody else’s product and advertise it for their own financial gain. Many enrolled simply advertised Tate’s products by flooding TikTok with clips and edits of his finest quotes. A viral video in which Tate recounts his response “what color is your Bugatti” to a hater gained millions of views. These short but iconic videos not only made thousands for Tate but attracted a mass of impressionable young men to his brand. While the program is currently paused due to Tate’s ban, he is creating a 3.0 version which should only achieve a far higher level of success.

Above: The Front Page of “Hustler’s University 3.0” claims that it is the “future of learning.”

However, after his ban, one could argue that it is harder for him to network himself online. It seems as if the showrunners of social media want to keep Tate’s ideologies from young men. They, and many others on the internet, believe that his idea of “grow up” masculinity is harmful to our newer generations. A separate group defends him and his vision of a return to a more polar traditional masculinity. This minority argues that his ban was unfair, as anyone on the internet has a right to their own opinion. The season-spanning incident this summer may seem like a loss for Andrew Tate. Still, his message to the world about the unreliability and chaos of modern masculinity has left a massive mark on the internet.

Jude Danner is a sophomore member of The multimedia journalism class.

Getting a good night’s sleep before a test…Does it help?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

All parents say to get a good sleep right before a test or game, but is this actually true? Does a single good night’s sleep before a test or a game actually help with performance? The answer is that it can help, but only a little. One good sleep before a test or game can help to a minimal extent, but a consistent sleep schedule of 7-9 hours a week can help improve the brain’s ability to think and succeed. 

For tests, studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard concluded that inconsistent sleep can hurt test scores. In addition to inconsistent sleep, short durations of sleep can also diminish a student’s grades. Students who do not get enough sleep can not retain information from class, as well as decision-making being slowed down compared to students who do get enough sleep. Scientists proved that good, consistent sleep accounts for 25% of the variance in how students perform on tests. Students who get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night get approximately 10% higher on a test than students who get less sleep, which translates to 1.7 points on a scale of 20 points.

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

A better sleep schedule does not only improve test scores, but can help with physical activities such as sports. As studies continue to grow, more professional sports teams, like the New York Jets, have changed their schedule to give their players an extra hour of sleep. A study from Stanford University revealed that basketball players who got at least 10 hours of sleep ran faster across the court and had a 9% increase in shooting accuracy on free throws and three-pointers. Having a good sleep schedule has proven to increase reaction time and overall energy in players. Sleeping also helps recover muscles and tissue, so if an athlete does not rest, muscles will not recover, which could put them at a higher risk of injury.

So what can someone do to help them get the rest they need for a test or a game? There are many different ways to get a nice, long sleep. These methods differ for different individuals, but creating a physical sleep schedule, having a good sleeping environment, and not drinking caffeine before sleeping are a couple of ways to help you ace your next test or perform well in your next game.

Collin Park is a Sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Finding value in video games

Have you ever found something so interesting that you decide to hold on to it for a very long time? This could be a sport that you love, a show that you frequently rewatch, or maybe even a toy you’ve had since you were a baby. These sentimental things can hold many different forms, but one form that stands out is video games.

Video games have been around since 1958, which was the year when Pong was released. It was a simple two-player game inspired by sports like tennis and ping pong. This simple game inspired people around the world to create similar games and show the world that technology could not only be used for work, but also for entertainment.

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Nowadays, video games have drastically improved since the late 50s. There are realistic graphics, virtual reality games, three-dimensional games, and so much more. Millions of people around the world get excited for new games to release. For instance, this year, Elden Ring was released, and it has already sold over 12 million copies since its release in February 2022.

Most games that are several decades old have died off and have incredibly small player bases; however, there are some games that seem to just never die. Games like Tetris, Minecraft, Super Smash Brothers Melee, and many more have withstood the test of time. These games still have massive fanbases despite being over a decade old. How did these games manage to stay relevant for so long?

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One reason is that these games have a lot of replayability. For an example of this point, I will use Minecraft. Minecraft has been around for a decade, and has managed to stay relevant for a long time. This is primarily thanks to the abundant amount of things you can do in the game. You can play survival mode with your friends, create enormous Redstone machines, build magnificent structures and houses, and so much more.

The insane amount of things you can do in Minecraft gives it a lot of replay value. People have made careers off of this game, and millions still play it and find new things to do. A game’s replay value is probably the most important part of a game’s survivability over a long time.

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Another reason is because of the competitiveness of some games. Super Smash Bros. Melee (or Melee for short) and have been around for over two decades because of the insane amount of competition it has. Thousands of people enter Melee tournaments to see if they have the skill to win it all.

Even though there have been newer installments in the Super Smash Bros. franchise, the Melee community is still one of the largest fighting game communities in the world. The competitiveness of video games plays a significant role in their popularity and motivates people to improve and keep playing.

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Tetris is a game that has been around for almost 40 years, and that reason is because of its replayability and competitiveness. All games must have a decent amount of replayability to stay relevant for multiple years, but Tetris is on a different level. The design of Tetris was basically made to be played anywhere at any time, and its gameplay is extremely addicting.

There are also many Tetris tournaments; there are online ones with people playing on more modern versions of the game, and there are tournaments that are played in person with the classic NES version. These tournaments gather hundreds to thousands of viewers, and many people enter them too.

The finals of the Classic Tetris World Championship, a tournament that uses the 1989 NES version of Tetris and has been running for 12 years.

There are many video games that have stuck with me for multiple years. Games like Tetris, Super Smash Bros, and Minecraft have played a large part in my life, and have brought thousands of hours of entertainment to me. These games have been around for so long because of the replay value and competitiveness, and both of those factors have kept millions of people engaged in decades-old games.

Logan Gorospe is a freshman member of The Quill.

The Demise of Rock Music

Here’s why the wide-spanning genre isn’t in the American mainstream anymore.

Rock is one of the most complex and storied genres in all music, despite beginning less than a century ago. The genre contains countless subgenres with many variations, such as the present contrast between hard and soft rock. Many have associated the genre with lively drums, powerful guitars, and teenage revolutions. However, when facing 2022’s pop radios and streaming services at face value, new rock artists are barely visible. It’s near-impossible for an average adult or teen to name a newly developing rock band. Rock’s dead, at least, within the American mainstream.

Rock’s dead, at least, within the American mainstream.

Rock began in the 1950s with the rock ‘n’ roll movement: a combination of genres such as jazz and blues with new ideas mixed in. In the 70s, certain rock acts such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd explored their guitars to shoot rock entirely into the mainstream. More varied bands appeared in the 80s and 90s, such as the romantic U2 and the grunge-y Nirvana (the latter of which paved the way for a lot of the rock landscape nowadays). These bands had airplay on the most popular radio channels, so this adds to the question: what happened to make rock bands fall off the map?

Nirvana has enjoyed a resurgence over the past year since The Batman used “Something in the Way” as its trailer and soundtrack music.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act was the first significant change to radio regulation in America since the 1930s. The cap on the number of radio stations one group could host was altered from 40 to as many as possible. Now a select group of companies run hundreds of all the radios and manipulate what type of music they play; most of them play the same artificial pop songs on every radio. This influences the rock industry in multiple ways. For example, it is almost impossible to get airplay as a local rock band, and if companies don’t believe that rock is going to give them popularity (which it won’t), they won’t play it. But why won’t rock draw in listeners?

“I think it was the move from analog to digital; the move from album to CD; the move to snippets of manufactured songs created by demographic. [Artists] make what the corporate says will sell.”

-Mount Theology teacher Mr. Tim Breen

Mr. Tim Breen, rock music aficionado, in his natural habitat – Room 3

The first, most obvious reason is that there are genres that have overshadowed rock’s draw. Rap began during the 70s, but it has steadily gained attention. The genre utilizes flows and beats to create enjoyable songs that can resonate with listeners. Other examples of newer genres that are beginning to obscure rock include EDM and indie. All of the aforementioned categories utilize electronics over the guitar, and its evident that younger listeners would rather listen to these developing genres. There’s a better chance that an average mount man could name more rappers than rockstars.

Kendrick Lamar The DAMN. Tour @ TD Garden (Boston, MA) (35709932740).jpg

Kendrick Lamar, one of the world’s most popular rappers, preforming live in front of hundreds of fans (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The second reason is that the fundamental instruments of rock – the guitar and drums – have already been utilized to their fullest. However, genres that use electronics are constantly pioneering new instruments and tools to keep people listening. Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins shared this opinion. “They’re engaging in new technology. Guitar isn’t new technology—there are only so many ways you can warp it around,” Corgan said while comparing rock to electric genres. The Smashing Pumpkins were one of the best-selling bands of the 1990s, so it’s stark to see their frontman recognizing rock’s death.

“Anything with autotune in it, you can blow that up. Real musicians play with real instruments. That’s why I love live music, because you can find out who can or can’t play it.”

-Mount Theology teacher Mr. Tim Breen

The grunge band Aberdeen has recently begun with the goal to mimic the classic sound of the nineties. The young musicians have already released and thoroughly advertised multiple EPs containing intricate production and vocals, so why aren’t they popular yet? The answer is their sound was already heard decades ago from bands such as Nirvana and other alternative artists. Nothing new is present in these songs, but can the band help it? The higher-ups of the music industry know that young audiences will find the music old and unexciting, so they don’t push it out as much. Many new rock artists suffer from this dilemma every day.

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The 3 members of Nirvana, who could be considered rock’s last huge band (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In order to get an opinion from a far more mature music fan, I interviewed the Mount’s Mr. Tim Breen. Mr. Breen is a Theology teacher known to be a diehard fan of rock music. Mr. Breen expressed his strong opinion about modern music passionately: “There was just more art and aesthetic into creating an album than from beginning to end than there is with these idiotic songs of three minutes and twenty-eight seconds that are manufactured at a corporate level.” By the end of our conversation, he had driven home the point that the industry is now driven by technology, greed, algorithms, and autotune, all of which are enemies to the creativity within rock.

“There’s no comparison. [Rock] was everywhere. It was dominant. I never bought music because you didn’t need to; you always heard it on the radio or at concert.”

-Mount Theology teacher Mr. Tim Breen

No matter their attachment to it, people should acknowledge rock’s absence from mainstream music and the charts. It doesn’t stand a chance within the modern music landscape compared to newer genres that continue to grow in popularity. The artists who produce rock find it much harder to have their music heard than in the past, as the switch from analog to digital led to a chokehold being held on America’s music industry. Due to the developments within the past two decades, modern rock has suddenly morphed into a niche genre that is gaining less and less respect. I love rock music, but the genre will never reach the popularity it once did.

Jude Danner is a Freshman member of the Quill.