Cultural Appreciation and Appropriation Simplified Freedom Gobel
The United States’ strengthening statistical diversity is both a blessing and a curse. The beauty of expanding a nation’s cultural populations is crippled by its inability to assimilate to the swell of increased cultural variation. The American culture is a collection of innumerable cultures, thereby requiring special attention on its identity preservation, internal communications, and most importantly, education. The concepts of appreciation and appropriation become a topic worth discussing.
Clarity, in this case, is my ultimate instrument. Before understanding the complications attached to it, one must first understand - completely - the basis of the conversation. Appropriation and appreciation are vastly different concepts, but the line is hard to draw. In social ethics, it’s easy to write rules on paper, but frustratingly, specific situations call for specific solutions, and the process if never constant. Consequently, it’s important to comprehend, from the beginning, the dangers of blending with the other side.
The Foundations of Appreciation
Appreciation: the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something; the full understanding of a situation.
Appreciation begins with respect and education, and continues with the acknowledgement that one’s actions socially affect the representation of an entire cultural group. Finding purpose in your actions rather than continuing with mindless ‘doing’ is a major separation of appreciation and appropriation. Understanding the meaning behind a tradition, artifact, or value of another culture before displaying it in your own light signifies a much deeper admiration.
The most important takeaway is that blending is moving in the wrong direction. We are all people, yes, but differences are beautiful. To appreciate is to find importance in where perspectives, values, and traditions are unique.
The Foundations of Appropriation
Appropriation: the action of taking something for one's own use, typically without the owner's permission.
Take a trip down the opposite path and you’ll find that ignorance is the catalyst for appropriation. Not knowing is what leads to this reality. Not knowing how much a valued symbol may mean to another culture, not knowing what a holiday truly signifies, not knowing where a tradition came from, and then pretending that you do is where cultural appropriation blossoms.
Unconsciously (or perhaps not), populations further up on the social hierarchy exhibit pieces of another culture, but fail to credit the undervalued minority. This significantly impacts the minorities’ worldly image, as the value of their culture is seen as secondary to the majority. Appropriation in a cultural sense begins with social theft, and once something is stolen, it can never be returned the same - only a smaller, less important version of itself in society’s eyes. Belittlement is the ultimate consequence.
Understand that individuals of other cultures aren’t overly sensitive, you just may not be realizing that you’re belittling their culture. The social gap is thereby deepened.
Follow This Advice
Know what you are doing. Find out why this cultural representation is important. Attempt to understand what it signifies. Be prepared to explain yourself.
Connect to your intentions
Why are you doing this? Figure out if this is to participate in something you find valuable, or to do something that you thought was kind of cool. There IS, in fact, a difference.
Use this as an opportunity to spread the beauty of another culture, not for personal gain. In the end, you are not the one who’s affected. Your actions can make a big impact.
Pay attention to this message: intentions don’t justify wrongdoings. Often times, in effort to appreciate the pulchritude of differences, particularly culture, intentions veer from their desired effect and result in something much worse: appropriation. At least, it’d be nice to think of appropriation as a false representation of our collective social mindset, but that isn’t always the case. You’re reading this because there’s a problem that needs fixing, and the first steps to change are accepting the sorry conditions of today, and encouraging awareness. Change begins with the willingness to try harder.
This years exams will not be the same as last year. This is because the MPS School District proposed new policies for the final exams. The exemptions this year are also going to be extremely different. Students might not be aware of these new policies or they don’t understand them. Luckily, there are many valuable sources to explain, such as the assistant principal Ms. Carpenter and art teacher Mrs. Milewski.
“The exams will be different for each course and it will vary how much they will impact a student's grade in that overall class,” said Mrs. Milewski, “For example in math, a student could demonstrate proficiency in order of operations so the teacher can replace the evidence grade testing that standard, but in art it would be impossible for a student in 80 minutes to demonstrate proficiency in a project that took them a month to complete so the exam grade will be entered as an additional grade in each criteria.” This means since it’s impossible to show(in some classes) students level of proficiency, the exam will count as an assignment for standards.
Ms. Carpenter said, “Usually [the exams] counted for 25% of the student's grade for the course instead the department decided the final piece of evidence for the course should replace previous pieces of evidence for one or more standards or as an additional grade for an assessment.” This means if a student has a U in Criteria D then they can take an exam to boost that criteria grade up. Instead of it counting toward a whole grade, it will count as if it was another assignment for that criteria.
“Exams can only help a student’s grade, and therefore their GPA.” said Mrs. Milewski. It all depends on each evidence in each criteria. This year’s exams can only help a student’s grade or GPA. It has been decided that if a student gets a worse grade on their exams then they already had, it won’t count against them. The teachers will only put in the better grade the student has earned. For example, if a student had a 85% or higher in the class and got a 50% on the exams, the teacher will just ignore the 50% and put in the 85%. “In my personal opinion it’s a positive thing for students.” said Ms. Carpenter. Since, this year's exams can only boost your grade it’s recommended by Ms.Carpenter and Mrs.Milewski because this also gives you practice for the IB exams and the ACT.
“We try to model exams based on the IB exams, so students are more comfortable senior year,” Ms. Carpenter said, ”They are big booklets (in the IB senior exams) so we don’t want students to be nervous.” The physical exam will also be different in format since it's based off on each standard that students need a better grade in. The type of test you get is based on what standard or criteria you need the most help in. The final exams will still be based off on what you learned during the semester.
“The district believes this to be the best practices for standards based grading, which is the grading policy we use as a district.” said Mrs. Milewski. These new policies are made to benefit the students and their grades. This will also help students focus on practicing for tests such as the IB exams and ACT.
“Yes, the exemptions are different this year,” said Mrs. Milewski, “If a student has an 85% or higher in Course Evidence, 95% attendance with ZERO unexcused absences they can exempt exams.” Another difference for exemptions students will be able to exempt as many classes as they are able to if they meet all the requirements. Even though students can exempt, teachers such as Mrs. Milewski, encourage students to take the exams. “It is great practice for larger tests like the ACT and IB exams.” The exemption forms are also different this year. In the previous years students needed the signature from the main office and the teachers. Now students will also need their parents signature,”You cannot exempt a class without having all three signatures.” said Mrs. Milewski.
The new policies for the final exams can help students raise their grade in a certain standard. Students are allowed to exempt any class they want as long as they meet all the requirements needed. This includes the new needed signature of a parent. The exams can only give you a better grade or the same grade you had before. So, teachers recommend if students are able to take the exams they should. Hopefully students take these new policies to their advantages and take the exams.
Student Requested, Teacher Provided: Advice on Academic Success Freedom Gobel
The stress is building as Reagan students approach their closing evidences of the year. Students with strong opinions on what leads to successful test taking have guided investigation towards the most valuable advice the Reagan staff can offer.
Over 200 students of varying grades collectively nominated the “Top Educators in Preparing Students for Testing”, seeking answers to the general question, “How can I do well in school as the semester comes to a close?” Of the teachers most voted for, their areas of specialties are widespread, but their goal remains consistent: to see growth in their students and watch them succeed.
Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Abigail Felten, and Humanities teacher, Mr. David Walker, agree that good test taking requires practice. “I try to give students a practice assessment to see where their own challenges are, as each student has different strengths and weaknesses within a unit,” said Felten. Below are the most important pieces of advice that she has for students…
Find your own weaknesses. Go through practices and quizzes from the unit that you are studying and identify where you struggle the most. Spend your time reviewing and relearning that content, versus studying things that you have already mastered.
Actually DO the practice. In many courses, just re-reading notes/chapters/etc is NOT enough to be successful (especially chemistry).
Find your method of studying. Everyone retains information differently. Just because a study method works for your friend, doesn't mean it will work for you. The same study method may not work best in all of your classes - You should “find one for each subject area!”
Don't be afraid to meet with your teachers for extra help and review! All of Reagan's teachers want to see you be successful!
Walker emphasises the importance of personal growth through experiences like impactful school related situations like testing. “Life is hard,” he said, but there are ways to ease the struggle. One of the most important things, according to Walker, is to “ask for help.” Walker advises:
Learn how to use all available resources (especially teachers!) now. In college, you’re generally on your own. “It's all on you in the real world.”
Take frequent breaks and allow yourself more time than you think you’ll need. Spread out your work rather than cramming the night before.
Remove yourself from distractions (most likely your cell phone) when studying.
Ms. Daysi Perez gave a look on how her classroom functions during the end of the semester. “I provide my students with guided notes every lesson (whenever we are learning a new concept). I have binder checks so that students are held more accountable for keeping their notes organized. In the long run, students can easily flip through their notes and look for key vocab, definitions and diagrams and study for it when it comes to finals,” she explained.
Her top pieces of advice include:
Look for a place or people to study with that are actually going to be serious about it and not someone you can have too much fun with.
Don't try to prepare for everything at once. Focus on what you feel you didn't understand and after you feel more confident, study the rest.
Students, use this advice to your advantage. You’ve asked, and teachers have provided.
Photographer: Alexxus Hart
The Conductors Of Cinderella's Carriage Mya Bailey
In Disney’s beloved fairytale, even if it wasn’t originally created by Disney (but you get the point), the focus is on Cinderella, however, what about the characters that helped her out of her horrid family situation? When did we forget about the mice that sewed her dresses or got turned into horses to conduct her a safe way to the ball? Similarly, in musicals like the ones being performed and presented at Ronald Reagan High School, the actors aren’t the only ones that make a musical—stage crew has an equal part in everything going swimmingly. This year, Reagan is taking on the musical by the name of Cinderella, hence all the Cinderella comparisons, and this musical will open for the first time on January 21. Besides all of the hard work actors and actresses are pushed into with memorizing lines and getting the overall plot of the musical out to the people, stage crew is also fairly important and work equally hard. They create things such as scenic backgrounds, sets, props and they are in charge of lighting and sounds.
Although it’s prefered to keep the overall plot of this years musical under wraps, Gabrielle Vitrano and Juliana Gessner, from Reagan’s Stage Crew, are excited about what they’ve seen and worked on so far. “When we started getting more into it, soon knowing it’s not like the disney movie at all makes me get away more into it than I usually would! It’s going to be great,” says Gabrielle who works the light board, which controls most of the stage lighting.
For preparation, things have gotten a very smooth start beforehand. “ I think we started preparing all of our equipment and walls and stuff very early —I’ve been working on designs since they’ve announced it. Like I literally went home and I was like “I’m gonna sit down and I’m gonna look up Cinderella!” Julianna, who is one of the senior crew leaders, with a very excited smile, “It is something to look forward to, especially from all the work that’s been going into it. In production of Reagan’s musicals, each year seems to become even more well developed and successful than the last… Each year we get bigger, and last year was our biggest ever. And this year will top that—it has to top that!”
Everything, from making and painting sets to setting light variations, is stressful towards creating a school production like this one. When you’re out into the position to create a scene for an audience to feel as if they’re there that also conveys a common mood and works with the cast, everything slowly becomes its only little tweak of stress. However, both girls agree that they very much love being a part of stage crew, and that it all pays off in the end with everything their team had went to, to piece together the production.
Reagan’s stage crew over the years has been very successful, pushing through the tough work schedules to produce seven previous musicals. Cinderella will be no exception. Come watch Reagan’s Stage Crew meet and overthrow the expectations of the years pasts’ musicals this January, the 21st, in the auditorium here in the school! It’ll be a fairytale come to life!