Editor’s note: Harbor Ridge Middle School students from Mrs. Takehara’s eighth grade language arts class recently wrote letters to the editor as part of a class project. Each student chose their own subject and then edited and condensed their argument into 250 words. Here is a sampling of some of the letters.
Think twice before holding back students
Grade retention, or holding back, comes into action when a student has failed to show that they could pass a certain grade. Grade retention should be mandatory if a student doesn’t achieve an average GPA of 2.0 or higher by the end of the year. Allowing a student to pass a grade with a lower GPA allows the student to just do the bare minimum and be lazy. It should not be acceptable to waltz through a grade and do so little work and put so little effort that they get a 1.9 GPA or lower. This simply encourages students to continue to putting no care or time into their projects and assignments. One may believe that students should be prompted with a lower GPA because some students actually work hard and still get bad grades, but this is extremely uncommon.
Even though those students would be held back as well, they would also be given more time to go over the curriculum and to actually learn the material. The point is that some students work hard and still get bad grades, but they are greatly outnumbered by the lazy students that simply don’t care or do the work. Being held back can be extremely inconvenient, so that’s why everyone should put more effort into their schoolwork so that grade retention shouldn’t be an issue or an option in the first place.
Schools’ book fairs can have negative impact
Many schools struggle every year to find a fundraiser that will raise money for the school. One way to fundraiser is through school book fairs, but these can cause problems within families and schools, and therefore schools should find alternative fundraising methods. According to school counselors, many kids don’t have money to make purchases at book fairs. My mother felt upset about this, so she purchased books and donated them to the school to give to those children. Some may suggest these kids should just use the library, but not all kids have parents who use libraries. Many of the books at the school fairs are overpriced. It may be for a good cause and the school may need the money, but why not find another option that doesn’t divide school culture? Lastly, the kids feel compelled to by things they don’t need. My language arts teacher said to me, “When I volunteered at school fairs, kids would walk in with one or two dollars and buy something small from the toys section.” Many parents would say it’s a good learning experience for kids to use money wisely but book fair trinkets encourage a culture of consumerism. Because of the negative potential impact on families and school culture, organizers should brainstorm other fundraisers that benefit the school in more positive ways. Take a stand. People need to learn to be open to new ideas, and you are the ticket to that happening.
Plastic kills our environment and all animals in it
If you take a walk in Gig Harbor on a nice day you’re probably going to see the boats, the water and the mountains, but if you look closely you will see some plastic bags floating around. People take walks in the harbor because it’s beautiful, not because they want to see plastic bags. Plastic is very bad for the environment because it gets into the harbor where marine life can choke on it and die. Salmon are important in Washington. Wouldn’t it be sad if they all died off because of us? About 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic ended up in our oceans. Not only salmon are affected by plastic. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. Plastic doesn’t decompose easily so it will stay in a landfill for 500 to 1,000 years before decomposing. Plastic bags are made of polyethylene, which takes at least 450 years to decompose. Some things we can do to help with this problem are recycling plastic bags before throwing them away. Some recycling centers have places you can bring your plastic bags and they will be recycled. Since recycling plastic bags doesn’t always work, another thing we can do is use reusable bags so we aren’t given plastic bags in stores. People don’t want to see plastic when they are on a walk. Plastic kills our environment and all animals in it. So next time you’re at a store, be sure to bring a few reusable bags.
Playing video games can actually be good for you
A common misconception in this generation is that video games, and many electronic devices, are bad for you. But is this true? Many people believe so, but this is just that, a misconception. In fact, most games actually help advance your state of mind, life skills, and improve reflexes of many kinds. For example, a child in New Orleans saved his mother, stating that he drove the car off the road with his knowledge from “Mariokart” of how to turn. He was only 5 years old at the time. Most gaming companies also sell family games, which promotes being social and having fun with your friends/family. A group of scientists conducted an experiment where kids who played video games more and kids who played less would be tested on cognitive and perceptual tests. Kids who played video games more tended to have higher scores. This was tested with 200 separate children. Another common misconception is that staring at a screen for long periods of time with hurt your eyes permanently, but this is a complete lie. If you are new to a screen, yes, this is true (not permanent but true): your eyes will hurt for a little. But your eyes will adapt and overcome, which in this case means screens DON’T hurt your eyes permanently. Evidence on top of evidence “claims” that video games damage your brain, but it is not true. Video games help advance most of everything in your brain, including eyesight.
Gender wage gap still plagues society
When I do chores for my parents, I always get paid a fair wage for my skills an experience. However, it’s different in the working field. The world has progressed and advanced through technology and our society, yet we still live in a gender-based society. In 1963, most women did not receive a fair wage for their skills and experience. In fact, women received on average 64 percent of what a man was paid for the same job. In the 1970s and 80s it was even harder on single mothers working 8 to 12 hours a day. The wage gap put financial independence and career achievement out of reach.
Research groups have collected data stating that as women progress through their career(s), the chances for advancement shrink. On the other hand, as men progress in their career(s), the chances for advancement grow. For example, The Center for American Progress website states the women hold just 16.9 percent of Fortune 500 company board seats. While progress has been made, the corporate world is still a good ol’ boys club.
Additionally, male bosses have argued that having mothers as employees is more complicated because they often have to dedicate time to their children, sometimes requiring sick days, which leaves an impression that they are not a dedicated or loyal worker. That same research group did a study to see if being a mother versus being a single female would show a wage gap. Interestingly enough, there was no gap, further supporting the argument that the wage gap is based on gender and not marital status or number of kids.
With all of the technological advancements in society, many would think that gender gaps are in the past. Unfortunately, research has shown that society has not kept up with the times, and there is still a huge wage gap between men and women.
More focus should be put on curing childhood cancer
Every year in the U.S. approximately 15,780 kids from ages 1 to 16 are diagnosed with a type of childhood cancer and 8,500 will die. The National Cancer Institute only gives them 4 percent of their funding. Children spend almost all their time behind hospital doors receiving harsh treatments that aren’t even guaranteed to save their lives. On top of that, progress in finding better treatments have been entirely stagnant for over 30 years. Because of this, children have to go through chemotherapies meant for grown adults and it is extremely harsh on their tiny bodies. Sometimes the treatment even kills the child before the cancer.
The sad truth is that most people don’t truly understand the reality of pedatric cancer. They imagine happy, smiley, bald kids from St. Jude commericials, but that is not what it is. Childhood cancer kills more kids than AIDS, cystic fibrosis, asthma and diabetes combined. Yet they do not get nearly as much attention as they should. When Breast Cancer Awareness Month rolls around, there are plenty of pink ribbons. In September, during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, there is little indication of support. Having cancer when you’re older and losing maybe 15 years is a lot better than dying at 6 and losing more than 76 years. We need more awareness and more funding. No family should be burying their child because of this horrendous disease. These brave little warriors are fighting for their lives.
Smoking needs to be illegal in the USA
Smoking should not be legal in the USA. People who smoke once will get addicted very easily. They will harm themselves and people around them. For all these reasons, smoking needs to be illegal in the USA. Lung disease can be caused by smoking excessively. It is the cause of millions of deaths worldwide. Our lungs deserve to breathe in fresh air, not the fumes of addictive cigarettes.
People don’t have to have a cigarette in their mouth to receive the effects of smoking. Someone could be standing next to somebody who smokes. The saddest part about this is that it multiplies the amount of deaths from lung cancer and other diseases.
Cigarettes consume peoples’ lives because of the addictive drug that they contain. This addictive drug is nicotine and it is the fifth most addictive drug on the planet. Once nicotine takes the wheel of your life, it steers you in the wrong direction.
Smoking needs to be illegal in the USA. All types of smoking devices are at fault for millions of deaths every year. If you know someone who smokes, then tell them to use alternatives to slowly reduce the amount of nicotine being consumed. Tell your friends, family and maybe even your neighbor, and we can bring smoking to an end.
NASA is an extremely useful agency
NASA was created in 1958 to explore space. Currently, NASA contributes $180 billion to society and only has a budget of $18.5 billion, meaning that for every dollar the economy invests in NASA, it gets $10 back. NASA protects Earth from outside threats, invents everyday objects, and discovers more about the world.
Asteroids are one example which pose a constant threat to Earth. There are 30,000 objects floating near earth; 1,600 are classified as potentially dangerous. NASA has several techniques to stop asteroid strikes. Collisions may be rare but they occur and may cause broken windows or planet-wide extinction.
Secondly, many everyday items would be around if it weren’t for NASA. It has invented and popularized infant food, memory foam, Velcro, Tang, and technology for cellphone cameras. Most of these inventions were made to accomplish a larger feat and thus wouldn’t have been invented without NASA and its resources. Also, NASA helps make sense of the universe. In 2015 a probe went to Pluto and took pictures. NASA is also planning to send humans to Mars in 2030. Other space agencies aid in exploration but not to the scale of NASA.
Furthermore, NASA is an extremely useful agency. It provides protection, makes daily life easier, and learns more about the universe. To support NASA, contact your congressman. If NASA receives a larger budget, not only would there be more scientific discoveries but the economy would flourish.
Inflammatory descriptions about others doesn’t help our national conversation
As a longtime subscriber to The Peninsula Gateway, I feel I really have to respond to Ann Fessler’s commentary (May 18 edition): “Health Care and the Republican Way.”
As someone who has treated patients for years, as well as having lived in 13 states, most courtesy of over 20 years service in the military, I can assure Ms. Fessler that “people are people” throughout this fine country. Irrespective of one’s viewpoint on healthcare, and there are many differing views, derogatory and inflammatory descriptions about others with an alternative opinion is not helping our national conversation.
Ms. Fessler uses statements such as “hate the poor,”“ don’t want the influence of women,” “lost its moral compass,” and “arrogance” to ostensibly persuade her readers of the value of her viewpoint. Belittling others never works, and it certainly won’t work in this area. I guess I expected the staff of the Gateway to show a bit more prudence on what they allow on their pages. Let’s listen to one another, let us all be prepared to compromise, and let’s work together to make this great country that we’ve been privileged to live in a better place for future generations.
Avery Bevin, Gig Harbor