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Northport High School’s Virtual Enterprise

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Northport High School’s Virtual Enterprise

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Have you ever wondered who runs the school store or why kids are walking around trying to sell different items such as shirts and keychains? They are from Port & Co., the Virtual Enterprise class in Northport High School. A Virtual Enterprise is a simulated business that is created and run by the students. There are 41 Long Island firms, 500 in the US, and 3,000 internationally.
The first couple of days of school are used to determining what department everyone will be working in. Some of the departments include Administration, Accounting/Finance, Marketing, Sales/Purchasing, Web Design, and Human Resources. This is chosen through the creation of resumes and the interview process, which simulate the process of applying for a real life job. This year, John Kippley was hired as the CEO, and oversees all aspects of the company.
A unique aspect of the company is that the students determine what they want to sell. This year, we have decided to sell products such as Lanyards, Throw Blankets, T-Shirts, and stickers. All aspects of our company come together and help sell these products both virtually and physically, which is something that takes a total team effort.
Throughout the year, we participate in different competitions against the other VE firms regionally, nationally, and internationally. Just recently, we participated in the regional Trade Show at LIU Post. This trade show was a great opportunity for us to advertise our products, and network with different companies. In addition to the trade show, select members of our team participated in the business plan competition. We also competed in an e-commerce website competition, which we won first place in thanks to the great design of our website by Anna McNeil and Mackenzie Lentz. In April, we will travel to NYC to participate in the VE International Trade Show.

About the Writer
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Colin Shashaty, Freelancer

Colin is a senior at Northport High School who is a starting outfielder for the Varsity Baseball team. He enjoys making people laugh and talking about...

A Technological Decade in Review

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A Technological Decade in Review

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Technology is a dynamic field of study. It took fifty years for the internet to be created, implemented, spread, and developed on a scale never imagined by its creators. With the 2010s now behind us and the 2020s ahead, it’s interesting to look at technology development over the past ten years.

At the beginning of the decade, mobile technology was just becoming common. Samsung had released its new line of Galaxy smartphones only a year earlier, coinciding with the development of 4G technology. The iPad, which was developed a year later in 2011, quelled the desire for a combination of a smartphone’s mobility and computer’s capability. Compared to today’s constantly evolving iPhones and development of 5G networks, these mobile technologies seem simple and outdated. At the time, however, they were considered cutting edge.

Over the course of ten years, many things changed in the world of gaming. For instance, Steam, a program that held a monopoly over video game distribution for a long time, was recently challenged by the development of other digital storefronts. Epic Games announced the release of the Epic Games Store in 2018, which has since been viewed by some independent video game developers as a safer option due to benefits like guaranteed payment. Consoles have also changed drastically. The decade started off with the creation of the Wii U, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS and the Playstation 3 Slim model, but has ended with new consoles and services. The Nintendo Switch, which was released in 2017, is a prime example. Some of the decade’s most exciting developments occurred in its last two months, with the release of Google Stadia, a console based in the cloud, and the announcement of a new Xbox called the Xbox Series X. New video game technologies such as augmented, virtual, and mixed reality present the potential for exciting new games.

The last ten years have also seen a huge rise in social networking platforms and the use of memes. Vine, a platform used to publish short, comedic videos, was both created and destroyed within the last ten years. TikTok, another popular platform for publishing videos, has also risen to prominence after its original creation in 2016. Memes have taken over these platforms and virtually every other social media network. While they were first created long before 2010, they’ve become increasingly popular during this decade.

Along with the exciting developments above have come dangerous ones. Facial recognition, a technology originally developed for security at places like airports and train stations, has since been the subject of controversy, with its employment by the Chinese in violating human rights ,to privacy and San Francisco’s ban on its use by the police. Cybersecurity developments have taken the forefront in media in response to the Russian hacking of the 2016 election. Disinformation campaigns and election security have since been placed under greater scrutiny, with the Election Security Act of 2019 currently under deliberation in the United States Senate.

Technology is a force that has the power to grow, change and adapt. It controls nearly every aspect of our lives and is constantly evolving, with the past ten years being no exception. With many interesting, exciting, and unique technological developments behind us, the next decade looks bright for the future of technology.

About the Writer
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James Connor, Freelancer

James Connor is a Junior at Northport High School and a freelance reporter for the Port Press. His writing focuses on investigative journalism within the...

Should Instagram Remove Likes?

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Should Instagram Remove Likes?

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Social media is a confusing realm of interaction that younger generations have grown up with. Although many see it as a useful way to explore their interests and communicate with others, social media sites can be breeding grounds for bullying, blackmail, and the root of issues regarding self-confidence. These in particular have been known to stem from users comparing themselves to others on the app, either through popularity or appearance. I, along with many of my peers, have struggled with this problem. Seeing “beautiful” people gain more followers because of their looks, causes one to worry about the things they “lack.”
To curb some of these feelings, the social media site Instagram is testing a new feature which removes the “Like” count of other users. This feature prevents from comparing the amount of “Likes” they receive to that of others. According to Esquire, “the elimination of public likes is an attempt to shift Instagram from a popularity contest to an innocuous collection of your friends’ posts.”
Many support the integration of this system – it could truly help people battling insecurities to stop comparing their self-worth to others. Social media is addicting too. Seeing “Likes” pop up releases dopamine. If too much dopamine is released, one may be anxious and irritable when away from social media.
Nonetheless, many people disagree with Instagram’s move, claiming that removing “Likes” may render the social media site useless. Others blame the problems associated with social media use on comments, stating that users’ explicit opinions shape a person’s self-confidence more than a “Like.”
I believe that removing “Likes” could be healthy for many users, especially teens, who are vulnerable to criticism and the tendency to conform to what others like. Then again, I believe Instagram should be shut down all together. An irrational thought, perhaps, but consider this: on Thanksgiving, I woke up around 8:30 in the morning and did my routine social media check. Instagram seemed to be shut down as no posts loaded and nothing could be posted. As a result of this “glitch,” I became bored and found myself forced to engage in something else – something more useful. If Instagram was permanently shut down, users would have to engage in other, more important activities rather than aimlessly scrolling through a feed. Many would disagree on this point, but I genuinely believe that radical change must be done within the app in order to aid those struggling with insecurities.

Is removing “Likes” a good idea? Please comment on what your opinion is on this topic!

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Sofiya Saykovska, Editor

Sofiya Saykovska is a senior at Northport High School. She enjoys film and video production, photography, dance, and music. She aspires to be a Film and...

Micronations: What are these unknown entities?

Sealand, the first micronation

Twitter: @SealandGov

Sealand, the first micronation

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The Republic of Molossia, the Dominion of British West Florida, the Principality of Sealand, and the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands. I’m betting that you haven’t heard any of those names until now. Why is that?
These are the names of Micronations – tiny, sometimes microscopic, unrecognized countries. And when I say tiny, I don’t mean the size of Vatican City. I mean places the size of a house. A bedroom. In some cases, a rock. There are thousands of Micronations out in the world. Outsiders often find themselves asking, “Why?” Why do people create Micronations? This is a hard question to answer, but in order to do it, we need to go to Sealand.
Sealand started it all for modern Micronationalists. The success story of the Principality of Sealand is something that many Micronational leaders have tried (and failed) to replicate. Let me explain. During World War II, the United Kingdom built HM Fort Roughs to defend shipping lanes from the Nazis. The War ended in 1945, and in 1956, the fort was abandoned. In 1967, a man by the name of Patrick Bates occupied the fort to broadcast his private radio station. Instead of doing this, he declared independence from the UK. Years later, in 1978, Dutch and German mercenaries were hired to attack Sealand, which lead to a hostage situation with Bates’s son, Michael. Michael was able to retake Sealand and captured Alexander Achenbach, the man who hired the mercenaries. This mess required the involvement of a German diplomat who negotiated Achenbach’s release. Bates released Achenbach and stated that the diplomat’s visit to Sealand meant that Sealand’s government recognized his country. The United Kingdom jokingly views Sealand as a foreign country as well.
TLDR: Due to the vague success of the Principality of Sealand, thousands of people across the globe have decided to take a swing at creating a country. The reasons vary, but a common reason Micronationalists establish their own governments is because they are unhappy with their current one. For example, the Conch Republic in the Florida Keys declared independence from the United States after the US Border Patrol set up roadblocks on the only highway connecting the Keys to the mainland. This lead to an all out war between the US and CR, though the CR’s attack consisted of throwing water balloons and stale Cuban bread at American ships conducting military exercises.

Andy Newman / CBS Miami
Attendees wave flags and hold signs during a ceremony Monday, April 23, 2012, in Key West, Fla., to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Conch Republic

Now that we’ve covered the “why,” we need to cover the “how” and the “when.”
When discussing how Micronations are born, there are two things that need to be understood. Micronations fall into two categories. Those categories are “serious” and “fantasy.” Only a few Micronations are serious. In fact, the majority of Micronations only exist on the internet. Why is this? For most people, being a Micronationalist is a fun way to become involved in politics. Most internet Micronationalists claim land they can’t control and don’t set up economies, armies, or an actual government. This is fine, but if you are thinking of becoming a serious Micronationalist, try to stay away from websites like “MicroWiki.” Serious Micronational leaders do more than just “play dress-up.” They establish relations with other Micronations, rule over citizens, and set goals for their “country.” One such Micronation, the Republic of Westarctica, claims land in Antarctica. Although this is impossible, the Republic has citizens who sign up online. Westarctica’s goals are all environmental. The Micronation is focused on preventing global ecocide as well as preserving the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Through their efforts, Westarctica has made differences in the real world.

Fascinating Nouns
An official from the Republic of Molossia, a serious micronation

Finally, we reach “when.” The most serious Micronations were created in the latter half of the 20th century. Some of them claimed actual unclaimed territory, like Bir Tawil, an unclaimed piece of land between Egypt and Sudan. The majority of fantasy Micronations were created in the early 2000s and 2010s. I think of this trend as good; more people are becoming interested in the phenomenon known as Micronationalism.
Now, you know a little more about this topic. I think people interested in politics and political subcategories like Vexillology and Cartography would enjoy Micronationalism. Even if you’re not interested in these topics, creating fantasy Micronations and starting fictional wars with friends is fun. I recommend it.

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Liam Mickulas-Mesco, Contributor

Liam Mickulas-Mesco is a 10th grade student. He enjoys writing about current events in pop culture, and likes to make personality quizzes. His favorite...

We Have the Technology: What happens when policy isn’t adapted to meet technological developments?

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We Have the Technology: What happens when policy isn’t adapted to meet technological developments?

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Technology is constantly changing – the past ten years have shown that. Humanity has gone from paper to computers, from traditional programming to adaptive AI, and from telephonic to instantaneous communication – all in the span of a century. Despite the dynamic nature of technology, the Northport-East Northport School District’s official technology policy is flawed, outdated, and lacks the necessary updates to keep it applicable to the current standard of technology.
The district’s technology policy centers around two Board of Education documents: Policy 4526, known as the “Computer Network for Education” policy, and its subset, Policy 4526.1, titled “Internet Safety.” While parts of these policies – such as the ‘Administration’ section of “Computer Network for Education” – are well thought out and were created to benefit students and educators, other parts of the policies are unjust to students, contradict district behavior, or are significantly outdated (the most recent revision of these policies was in 2010).
One example of these flawed policies is the “view.northport.k12.ny.us” subdomain designed for to enable students to access their school account desktop from home. Most people who have used this technology have probably never obtained “written permission from the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Administration” prior to using it. By failing to do this, most people who access their school accounts from home are in violation of the “Computer Network for Education” policy, which explicitly bans this practice without the aforementioned written permission.
The prohibited uses outlined under the same policy are even more interesting. Prohibited activities include “Revealing the personal address, telephone number or other personal information of oneself or another person” and “Wastefully using finite district resources.” This means that if a student were to tweet out personal information using the district’s Wi-Fi, they’d be in violation of the District’s IT policy. The second policy point, wasting district resources, is a vague prohibition that could forbid anything from running a computationally expensive program (like those used in AP Computer Science classes), to downloading a large file from the internet or network, and every other “wasteful” action in between. If you’ve ever used a personal USB drive or SD card on school computers, you’ve violated the part of Policy 4526 that prohibits “installing personal software or using personal disks on the District’s computers and/or network without the permission of the appropriate District official or employee.”
While some of these “rules” may seem funny, certain parts of these policies have serious consequences. One such policy point states that “Each individual in whose name an access account is issued is responsible at all times for its proper use.” This one line in the district’s “Computer Network for Education” policy allows the school to blame a student for the improper use of their network account, even if they are innocent of any wrongdoing. If a user with malicious intent logged on as another student in the district and committed a violation of district policy, this policy allows for the district to punish the student whose account was used instead of the person who actually committed the violation. While it is unlikely that a situation like this would ever occur, the fact that such a possibility exists in the district’s computer policy is indicative of the larger problems surrounding it.
The district’s internet and computer use policies are outdated and require revision in order to stay up to date with modern day digital technologies and concepts. As technology changes, the district must adapt to meet new technologies head on, with policies that are adaptable enough to apply to new technological developments, but outlined to protect student privacy and security online.

James Connor
Figure 1 – A snapshot of the NENUFSD’s Policy 4526 taken on 11/15/19

About the Contributor
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James Connor, Freelancer

James Connor is a Junior at Northport High School and a freelance reporter for the Port Press. His writing focuses on investigative journalism within the...

Bee-utiful Bees: How anyone can become a beekeeper

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Disclaimer: This article provides a brief overview of the basics of beekeeping, and is not intended to be one’s only source of information if he or she decides to foster a hive of his or her own. Additionally, one should be completely aware of the risks associated with keeping bees, and it is the sole responsibility of a hive owner to keep themselves safe while tending to their hive.

 


 

Bees. These little black and yellow buzzers are the bane of many a summertime picnicker and avid outdoorsman. They’re small, noisy, and they pack a nasty punch if allowed to sting a victim. But as much as the general populous may dislike or even fear bees, without them many of the things we humans take for granted would cease to exist. Bees are responsible for pollinating nearly a 3rd of all food we as humans eat, such as apples, almonds, broccoli, and strawberries, accounting for a total of about $15 billion worth of crops in the US. About 80% of European wildflowers rely on bees for pollination, making bees an absolute necessity to the health and stability of wild ecosystems. And, of course, no conversation about the benefits of bees is complete without mentioning their most well-known product: honey. Honey is the only food that we get exclusively from insects, and it’s got a whole host of amazing properties. It’s chock-full of plant compounds, natural antioxidants, and even some vitamins, it has the sweetness of sugar with much less of the negative health effects, it helps improve cholesterol and lower blood pressure, and it can even help heal burns and wounds. Plus, it never goes bad, so it’s safe to keep one jar for years on end (provided you don’t eat it all at once). But despite all the amazing things bees do to help us humans out, we don’t seem to be returning the favor very well. Habitat destruction, deforestation, pesticide use, and the spread of invasive species have all contributed to an approximate yearly hive loss of 30-50% in the US– substantially more than is considered normal. Additionally, out of the nearly 4000 wild bee species that inhabit the US, about 1000 are at risk of extinction. Bees are critically important creatures to both mankind and the natural world, and no other living thing on this planet can afford to lose them. So what can we do to help reverse this dangerous decline? That’s where beekeepers come in.
Beekeeping, simply put, is the act of fostering one’s own beehive on their property in order to gather honey. And, despite the continued prevalence of bee-phobia in our society, the art of beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular in the US. And, with the right knowledge and materials, anyone can become a beekeeper themselves. Fortunately for us here at NHS, our very own naturalist extraordinaire, Mrs. Byler of the Friends of the Greenhouse group, recently invited a local beekeeper in to share some words of wisdom with any aspiring apian enthusiasts. Katherine Redman, a mother of two and professional Wall Street financial adviser, is a local beekeeper with a great passion for her art. As someone who works closely with these insects, Mrs. Redman understands just how important bees are to the natural world and hopes to spark a continued interest in beekeeping among her fellow Northportians. This article will present a summary of some of the most important pieces of beekeeping know-how, as well as some of the biggest benefits that one can enjoy from having their own hive.
First off, some basic info. Raising a beehive is no small undertaking, with an average beehive containing around 60,000 bees by the end of a single summer. This means that there is most certainly always a risk of getting stung, especially if one is not wearing proper beekeeping attire. Thankfully, because bees die when they sting, they only use this defense mechanism if they are sure their target is a dire threat. “They don’t just sting you for the heck of it,” Mrs. Redman points out. Additionally, an observant beekeeper can generally tell when a hive is excited due to an increase in the volume of their buzz; if this occurs, it’s probably best to leave. Avoiding a hive while upset is also a good choice, as bees can detect excess carbon dioxide released due to heavy or stressed breathing. Of course, apart from keeping oneself safe, keeping a hive healthy should be the next biggest priority. One way to accomplish this is by keeping the property on which a hive is located as natural and wild as possible. “On Long Island, we are constantly concerned about making sure that our lawns are green and weed-free,” says Mrs. Redman, “but of course, it’s the weed-free part that is most damaging to bees.” Bees love all sorts of plants that we humans generally remove from our lawns, such as dandelions, bee balm, and dead-nettles. Leaving these plants in one’s lawn can greatly increase the chances of having a successful and productive hive. Having a wide array of different plants on a property also contributes to the flavor of honey, as different types of pollen can give the honey different tastes. Also, using pesticides like DDT or Roundup (or even simply having a neighbor nearby that uses those chemicals) can cause damage to hives, so avoiding them entirely is optimal. Unfortunately, one of the biggest threats to beehives is also one of the harder pitfalls to avoid; that being parasites, specifically the Varroa mite. “You used to just be able to be a beekeeper, and have honey bees, and take the honey off once a year,” says Mrs. Redman, “and suddenly you have these little mites that can come out of nowhere and decimate a hive.” Varroa mites came over from Europe to the US in the mid 90’s, and since then have proven to be quite a nuisance to beekeepers across the country. A hive afflicted with these parasites will eventually die, so it’s crucial to take all necessary steps to prolong the survival of a bee population. A variety of methods can be used to help clear out a Varroa mite infestation, such as oxalic acid vaporization and chemical strips, but action must be taken fast to extend a hive’s survivability.
Next, a bit about setting up and maintaining a hive. To start, a perspective beekeeper should always research local regulations about owning bees, and inform nearby households of their intentions. Once it is clear that owning a hive won’t be a problem in one’s neighborhood, the next step is to purchase equipment. The most commonly-bought beehive type is the Langstroth hive, which holds 10 frames of honeycomb. When full of honey, however, 10 frames of honeycomb can weigh up to 60 pounds, which means that many may want to purchase 8-frame hives instead. Safety equipment, such as a bee suit and bee smoker (a device that calms bees through the release of smoke), are also things a new beekeeper should be sure to buy. Another helpful tool to have is a honeycomb roller- a paint roller-like device covered in small plastic prongs that can puncture through the capping wax that bees put over cells once they are full of honey. Of course, the most important component in a beehive is, well, the bees. Bees can be purchased in swarms which can then be transferred into a newly-constructed hive. Often, it is advisable to keep the queen bee separate from the rest of the hive until all other bees have already been transferred. Every hive has only one queen bee, and she will emit pheromones to alert the others in the hive to her importance. Thus, it is important to give the hive time to adjust to her presence, and to accept her as the “VIP” of the bee colony. The queen’s two primary purposes are to regulate the unity of her hive, and to produce as many eggs as possible. “I mark my queens,” says Mrs. Redman, “I actually catch them and put a dot of paint on them- pink, purple, something bright. Because you always want to be able to spot your queen.” All bees in a colony are female, except for the drone bees which only serve to reproduce with the queen, and then die. Thus, it is not uncommon to see many dead bees at the bottom of a hive at the end of the fall. A queen bee can lay up to 1200 eggs a day; thus, a hive can grow very rapidly if kept in optimal conditions. “If a hive gets too crowded, you’ll get a swarm,” Mrs. Redman notes, “especially if you don’t keep adding supers.” (supers being the box in which frames of honeycomb are held). Additionally, a selective barrier called a queen excluder can be used to keep queens from entering honey supers and laying eggs. At the end of a season, it is advised to leave at least 60 pounds of honey for the bees to sustain themselves off of through the winter. A successful hive will produce significantly over 100 pounds of honey, meaning that leaving some honey as food for a hive will not detract much from the amount that is actually harvested. Somewhere around January, bees begin to make brood, or babies, once again beginning the hive cycle over.
Finally, let’s look at some of the economic virtues of owning one’s own beehive. As mentioned before, honey is an incredibly nutritious food, not to mention a delicious one. Unfortunately for many fans of the superfood, the stuff we buy in supermarkets may not be all that super after all. Due to the way in which the FDA classifies “honey,” companies can get away with mixing small amounts of honey with substantially higher amounts of sugar and water. Not to mention the fact that whatever little amounts of honey are to be found in these products is likely imported from thousands of miles away. In order to actually get a product that can reasonably be called honey, one must either buy it from local beekeepers and farmers markets, or simply produce it themselves. And for those willing to do the latter, the fruits of their labor can be sold for quite a pretty penny- “100 pounds, $20 a pound, you do the math,” says Mrs. Redman. Additionally, the beeswax caps removed from honeycombs during the honey-harvesting process can be melted down, purified, and then sold to those looking to make things like beeswax candles. Though the initial cost of beginning a hive can be rather expensive, the returns later on more than make up for that down payment.
Bees are truly marvelous creatures that get a needlessly bad rap as aggressive little stinging machines that do nothing else but bother us humans. They are absolutely vital to the stability of every ecosystem in which they are found, and it is rather unfortunate that they are so underappreciated by the average person. Hopefully, with the help of people like Mrs. Redman and others, more people will begin to understand the many merits of getting involved in beekeeping and will decide to raise hives of their own.

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Elias Giuliano, Editor

Elias Giuliano is a junior at Northport High School, a nature photographer, a baker, a musician, and a tea addict. He lives with his mother, father, grandmother,...

Disney Launches New Streaming App That May Rival Netflix

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Disney Launches New Streaming App That May Rival Netflix

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On November 12, Disney’s new app, Disney+ hit app stores. The app is likely to join cohort of other streaming services and apps. The app includes the “Disney Vault” and features original movies and TV shows such as High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, and the live-action version of Lady and the Tramp. Disney+ is designed to appeal to all ages, from the tiniest toddlers, to teenagers.
There are some aspects of the app that appear to be very similar to the popular streaming app, Netflix. These include the ability of app users to find movies or TV shows that they may like and the grouping of movies with similar genres into specific categories so that streaming time decreases significantly.
Since the app is relatively new, there are minor issues that need to be resolved before it becomes popular. For example, the app doesn’t allow app users to see their viewing history (as in the movies or episodes of a series they’ve watched). Not to mention, some of the series “lag” when being streamed.
When watching Encore!, a Disney Plus original series hosted by Kristen Bell, the “loading” icon appeared several times during the show. After Disney fixes these problems, there is no doubt that Disney+ will be one of the top streaming apps, right next to Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and the crowd favorite, Netflix.

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Amelia Semple, Contributor

Amelia is a Junior at Northport High School, and when she isn’t studying heavily for school, she loves entertainment, books, and writing. She is a theater...

The Vaping Crisis: Is it really a “crisis” after all?

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The Vaping Crisis: Is it really a “crisis” after all?

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“Vapes”, or E-cigarettes, have been a hot topic in the news for a while. Initially marketed as a way to curb one’s smoking habits, vaping quickly became a habit unto itself. Soon, vaping took off as the new “cool” thing to do, and in plenty of cases any attempts by schools to crack down on their usage on-campus only compounded their cool factor. And while many may rejoice in the decline of cigarette usage among today’s youth, many also see vapes as equally- or more- dangerous than their tobacco-based counterparts. There are many e-cigarette regulations in place on both the state and federal level in the US, with many locations going so far as to ban or temporarily halt the sale of certain vaping products altogether. President Trump has expressed an interest in pulling all flavored e-cigarette products from the market in an effort to restrict youth access to them. But all of this begs the question- how could a supposedly “safe” alternative to tobacco rise to the same levels of danger as the thing it is trying to replace? Let’s take a look at some of the stats and determine if the vaping crisis really is a “crisis” after all.
First of all, let’s talk about tobacco. Tobacco products are highly addictive due to them containing nicotine, a substance that triggers an increase in dopamine production. Dopamine is one of the brain’s “pleasure chemicals,” which can create a euphoric response. Tobacco use causes one to grow accustomed to this flood of dopamine, which in turn creates a desire for further dopamine stimulation; this is what ultimately creates a nicotine addiction. While nicotine itself is not a particularly harmful chemical, tobacco products often contain many other harmful substances that can cause a plethora of health problems. Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients, and when burned, they can create more than 7000 chemicals, including ammonia, butane, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and lead. At least 69 of these are known to cause cancer, and many – if not all – are toxic. Cigarette smoking causes more than 480000 deaths a year in the US (about 1 in 5) and account for more deaths than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, and firearm-related incidents – combined. Worldwide, the number is much higher, with about 6 million deaths being caused by smoking a year.
So cigarettes are obviously very dangerous. Why, then, do so many people continue to use them? After all, the tobacco industry is estimated to make upwards of $60 billion a year, so clearly cigarettes must be fairly popular products. Unfortunately, the reality is that many smokers want to quit, but are simply unable to. As many as 70% of smokers in America want to kick the habit, but even with good cessation programs only around 20-40% are able to stop smoking and stay off cigarettes for at least a year. Tobacco use is a very difficult thing to give up, so it’s no wonder that many people seek alternatives to smoking that are (or are supposed to be) healthier, but still deliver the same buzz. That’s where the vapes come in. Vapes work by using a battery to heat up a cartridge of a liquid substance, creating steam that can be inhaled. Vapes were originally marketed as a way to curb a smoking habit, and as a result they contain nicotine. The idea behind this is to essentially “transfer” a person’s addiction to something other than tobacco – something that could give the same satisfaction as smoking but without all the associated health problems. The problem here is that, while vapes originally were made for this purpose, they now have become an abusable substance unto themselves. As many as 2 million young adults use e-cigarettes as their first nicotine product, meaning they aren’t using them to quit smoking since they’ve never smoked before. As a result of this, vaping companies have started to make their products to be more appealing and fun to use on their own, rather than as simply an alternative to something else. This, of course, comes at the cost of safety, as vape companies begin to pump their products full of harmful chemicals all in the name of making them taste better. The biggest issue with vapes is their lack of regulation. Since the FDA ruled them not to be a drug delivery service, the agency has no jurisdiction over them, therefore meaning that vape companies can add all sorts of dangerous chemicals to their products. Research has shown that many vapes contain diethylene glycol, a component in antifreeze. Tests have also found detectable levels of nitrosamine, a carcinogen. Another big issue is the fact that vapes are relatively new to the market, meaning that there hasn’t been much time to conduct research into what is really being put into vapes. But probably the most glaring danger of vaping is the ease with which the chemicals within vaping pods can be swapped out for other substances. As if the liquid intended to be used in vaping cartridges didn’t sound like enough of a health hazard, many opt to fill their vapes with chemicals like THC, the active compound in marijuana, flakka, a stimulant similar to methamphetamines and cocaine, and even DMT, which is often cited as the most powerful hallucinogen in the world.
All of this begs the question: how much damage have vapes really caused? Well, before you ask- yes, people have died from vaping. As of October 2019, the current death count for vaping-related illnesses in the US is 42, according to the CDC. While that may not sound like much, keep in mind that these deaths have all occurred within the span of a few months. The first vaping illness-related death in the US occurred in August of 2019, meaning that about 3 people have lost their lives every week since then. Another thing to keep in mind is that the long-term effects of vaping (especially when other unintended substances are used) are still largely unknown, meaning that we could see a drastic increase in vaping complications later in users’ lives. Around 2000 cases of lung problems and diseases have been attributed to vaping, and it is very likely that that number will continue to rise as people continue to vape. But if the chemical complications of vaping aren’t enough to deter one from vaping, perhaps the dangers of vape pens themselves would be. These devices have shown themselves to be rather prone to random explosions, which could cause serious bodily harm if one happens to be using a vape at the time of an incident like this. Take, for example, a 17-year-old boy from Nevada who had a hole blown in his jaw after an e-cigarette, without warning, blew up in his face. Or, even scarier, a 24-year-old from Texas who lost his life after fragments of an exploding vape sliced open a major blood vessel in his neck.
These escalating incidents of vape-related tragedies do make it clear that e-cigarettes are dangerous, but does any of this qualify as a crisis? The answer, unfortunately, is no one knows. As mentioned before, we really only know the short-term effects of vaping. Perhaps later on down the road, vaping companies will be able to produce their products with fewer harmful chemicals or less explosion-prone components, alleviating some of the risks associated with vaping. The danger in making such hasty decisions as banning all vapes is that the sale of e-cigarettes could then be delegated to much more irreputable organizations- “black markets” if you will. If that happens, all bets are off. If mainstream vape companies nowadays already pump their products full of enough dangerous chemicals, there’s no telling what things shady, criminal drug rings might cram into their vapes to make a quick buck off of their consumers. Likely the best thing the general public can do right now is to inform themselves and others of the risks associated with e-cigarettes, and to refrain from partaking in them except for their intended manner- to quit using tobacco.

About the Writer
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Elias Giuliano, Editor

Elias Giuliano is a junior at Northport High School, a nature photographer, a baker, a musician, and a tea addict. He lives with his mother, father, grandmother,...

The Procrastinator’s Guide: College Edition

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The Procrastinator’s Guide: College Edition

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Getting ready for the college application process is not an easy feat. The earlier you start progress of any kind will help you on your journey. Here’s a few tips to stay on track from a professional procrastinator!

 

Start early. You can never start early enough! Although you might not write your essay junior year, you can do other things like involving yourself in clubs. Choose a variety of clubs such as a community service club, art club, or political club to spread out your involvement. Another thing you can do is to do well in your classes. As often as you hear this, it is true. 11th grade is generally the most important year of high school, and it is important to do well in your math and English classes for the ACT and SAT tests because those topics are the ones that are mostly on those tests. 

 

Take quizzes on careers if you aren’t sure of what you want to do. During Junior year, you will have less pressure to decide on the types of schools you want to look at. If you aren’t completely sure of what you want to do, a good way to get your mind working is to take personality quizzes which give you careers that suit you best. After you have a liking towards a certain job, research majors and schools that will get you to where you want to go. Websites like niche.com and cappex.com are easy to use sites that you can use to search for colleges. You can add filters to search for a certain budget or location a school is in. 

 

If you’re interested in the arts, start coming up with ideas for a portfolio. Coming up with ideas and putting them in a notebook or on your phone will help you when it comes down to creating pieces for your portfolio. If you want, start your work Junior year, however, summer break is a great time to relax and work on your pieces. For my film portfolio, I did not start working until October, which left me really crunched for time and stressed. I was even pulled into the guidance office for breaking down over work I hadn’t finished. It’s a stressful time, make sure to stay ahead of your work, especially extra requirements for specific schools.

 

Remember that time flies faster than you know. Junior year may seem overwhelming and strenuous but soon it will all be over. The beginning of Senior year goes quickly as well, although it may start smooth, the things you need to complete may pile up and overwhelm you. In addition to college essays and applications, you have to fill out forms to hand in to your counselor. A good way to keep track of everything you need to do is create a list with everything on it and their due dates. Eventually you can start crossing off the things you complete, which gives great satisfaction and takes some weight off your shoulders. Also, a way to keep colleges you are interested in organized is to create a spreadsheet with their names and qualifications (grades, tuition, location). 

 

In the end, staying organized will help you stay in control over the things you need to do. Don’t be afraid of asking for help, your parents or a guidance counselor can help more than you think. Take breaks, and plan your time usefully. Lastly, stay off your phone! If you’re prone to distractions, go to a library or fairly empty room and work for a bit. Leave your phone in another room. Remember, the more you get done, the closer you are to an easy Senior year. Good luck!

 

About the Writer
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Sofiya Saykovska, Editor

Sofiya Saykovska is a senior at Northport High School. She enjoys film and video production, photography, dance, and music. She aspires to be a Film and...

Blizzard Entertainment Incident Raises Question: Should Video Game Companies Be Able To Censor People?

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Blizzard Entertainment is in hot water for banning a Hearthstone player named Blitzchung after he voiced his support for the Hong Kong protesters during an interview. This has inevitably created a huge controversy. In fact, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have condemned the company. People have started boycotting Blizzard and some of the company’s employees have staged walkouts. The whole debacle has led many to ask the following question: Is it okay for video game companies to censor their consumers? My answer may surprise you.

Yes. Blizzard needs its players and viewers to focus on the game. Blitzchung actions took away from this; he injected politics into a discussion that didn’t need it. However, the way in which Blizzard handled the situation was completely wrong. Blizzard is an American company, yet they punished someone for advocating in favor of democracy. They also took away his money (temporarily) and fired the people who interviewed him. 

All of this is unacceptable. What Blizzard should have done is what companies need to do in the future if a scenario like this should arise again. Blizzard needs to have rules clearly stating what is and is not permitted. If the company had rules in place that prohibited political discussion during one one of its streams, then people would be able to understand why Blizzard did what it did. But the thing is, Blizzard has made political moves itself. The company is a staunch ally of the LGBT community and LGBT social movements. Although this is great, it is also hypocritical, since gender and sexual orientation can be classified as “political topics.”

Blizzard didn’t have guidelines and that’s what everyone perceived to be the problem. Because of Blizzard’s previous stance on issues and the lies it’s told the public, it makes sense for the company to be getting the backlash it is. By the time you’ve read this article, Blizzard should have apologized for what it did to Blitzchung and its fans. To be honest, it really is the only thing the company can do if it hopes to regain its customers.

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Liam Mickulas-Mesco, Contributor

Liam Mickulas-Mesco is a 10th grade student. He enjoys writing about current events in pop culture, and likes to make personality quizzes. His favorite...

Does Homework Help?

Homework's affect on a student's academic performance

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Does Homework Help?

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 We all know that homework is a pain, a hassle, and an inconvenience. But is it beneficial? Most studies show it is.

In 2006, Harris Cooper, a Professor of Psychology at Duke University, conducted a meta-analysis that found a positive correlation between homework and a student’s performance in school. However, the study did indicate that the relationship was stronger for students in grades 7-12, than for students in elementary school. 

Homework is a critical part of the learning process, and it has been proven that it helps students perform better in school dozens of times. But during the analysis Cooper conducted, he found that too much homework is actually counter-productive for students. “Even for high school students, overloading them with homework is not associated with higher grades,” Cooper said. It is suggested that teachers follow the 10 minute rule, adding ten minutes of homework as a student progresses through each grade. For example, a fourth grader would have 40 minutes of homework, while a senior in high school would have about two hours of work. The study showed that once the amount of homework exceeded the two hour limit, there was no association with higher achievement.

So why does homework help older kids more? Cooper points out that younger students’ study habits are less-effective than those of older students and younger students have a hard time tuning out distractions in their learning environment. “Kids burn out,” Cooper said. “The bottom line really is all kids should be doing homework, but the amount and type should vary according to their developmental level and home circumstances. Homework for young students should be short, lead to success without much struggle, occasionally involve parents and, when possible, use out-of-school activities that kids enjoy, such as their sports teams or high-interest reading.” 

So although homework is annoying, time consuming, and may seem unhelpful, recent studies suggest that it will improve a students performance. Harris Cooper did point out that there are limitations to current research on homework. For instance, little research has been done to assess whether a student’s race, socioeconomic status, or academic ability level affects the impact homework has in his or her academic achievement. These factors could change the effect of homework for a student, and in the following years, more research will be conducted. But for now, do your homework- it will help!

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Nick Crafa, Contributor

Nick Crafa is a Freshman at Northport High School and a contributor for the Port Press. Nick is a current member of the Northport Cross Country team and...

VSCO Girls – “Skskskskskssskkssksksk”

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VSCO Girls – “Skskskskskssskkssksksk”

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Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook. These apps are all platforms for people to post pictures of what they consider the “highlights” of their lives. For some, this means daily uploads to public, private, and even secondary accounts. 

Many of these users are concerned with gaining a certain number of followers, views, likes, etc. With this pressure to appear on top, a growing demand for a safe place to post whatever posters wanted emerged. VSCO, an app released in 2012 and then popularized in 2017, did just that. Users could post images from their daily lives without captions, comments, and the like. The app is rated for ages 12+ in the App Store, and most of its users are females under the age of 25. 

A stereotype has been formed regarding the appearance and shopping preferences of the app’s users. The sudden popularity of certain brands, most notably Hydro Flask water bottles, Birkenstock sandals, and Carmex chap-sticks, are in part due to VSCO. These items, for one reason or another, found their way into the posts and lives of some VSCO users. Soon owners of these items, whether they actually had a VSCO account or not, became known as “VSCO Girls.” 

This term goes beyond the brands girls decide to purchase. It also encompasses a person’s characteristics, such as a concern for the environment (as seen by “VSCO Girls’” metal straws and reusable water bottles). Phrases such as “and I oop” and “skskskskskskskskkssk” are coined as something only a “VSCO Girl” would say.

Girls that may be classified as VSCO girls are often also described as basic. Their minimalist hair and makeup styles, their willingness to conform to one style, and their similar social media posts and photography style puts these girls in a box and makes them into people who are all the same. For this reason, many people consider being called a “VSCO Girl” insulting. For this reason, many girls will avoid sharing that they own some of the so called “VSCO items” like wrist scrunchies or puka shell necklaces. 

Regardless of what outsiders believe, many “VSCO Girls” enjoy the lifestyle that is frequently subject to mockery. Despite the negative connotations associated with it, “VSCO Girls” continue to live this lifestyle because they feel that it encompasses who they truly are. If you find yourself attracted towards the “VSCO Girl” aesthetic, you are not alone. So feel free to buy as many scrunchies and Hydro Flask stickers as you want, and join the trend. 

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