Cherry Blossom Official Merchandise Scores Home Run at the 2014 Cherry Blossom Parade

By Tayah Harper
UJW Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Adam Mayhew serves a customer as many others wait patiently in the long line. Most of the customers are waiting to buy just a shirt, while others were buying a bag, mug, hat, or other item. All these items will represent someone’s trip, whether long or short, to the April 12 Cherry Blossom Festival. It is Mayhew’s job to make sure these items get sold before the day is over.

Mayhew started his hectic day at 4 a.m. He arrived at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue by 5 a.m. to set up the merchandise stand.

“The boss has a great relationship with the Cherry Blossom Festival,” Mayhew said. “That’s why he has the only company to sell official merchandise.”

The company, whose CEO was not named, has been a successful vendor for five years now. It first started off as a small business with t-shirt printing. Eventually, they expanded and landed a deal with the Cherry Blossom Festival.

“At first, he was working in two offices and a warehouse in Virginia. Now he has offices in California and a warehouse Atlanta,” Mayhew said. “For the festival, he gets people he trusts to work for him. He knows they’ll get the job done.”

The top selling items at the vendor are the 100th Year Anniversary Shopping Tote, Head Boppers, and the “I Blossom DC” t-shirt.

“I bought the head boppers for my daughter,” Isabelle Felder said. “This is her first time coming to the parade and I want her to have something to remember.”

“My husband is in the Army and we travel a lot. I wanted to make sure my daughter had a chance to visit while we were here. In addition to that, I wanted to get her a souvenir for when we move again,” Felder said.

Damien Lucas, who is from Henrico, VA, loves the festival and one particular shirt.

“I got a great shirt for my fiancé,” Lucas said. “It reads “I Blossom D.C.” and I’m sure she’ll love it as much as I do.”

It was a great day for sales, as the parade occurred during peak bloom, which attracted more attendants.

“I was happy to see the cherry blossoms, which are the obvious stars of the festival,” Lucas said. “When they’re in bloom and the weather is nice, they’re beautiful. It was just an overall great day.”

Amid Parade, Japanese Culture Abounds

By Gabrielle Headly
UJW Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The National Cherry Blossom Festival was filled with people from all walks of life who came together to partake in the Japanese tradition of hanami.
Hanami is a Japanese custom of enjoying the beauty of spring flowers, usually cherry blossoms.

Many displayed their adoration for Japanese culture in a multitude of ways, from their presence to bearing small accessories like fans.

But a small amount of people proudly displayed their love for the culture in their attire, by wearing traditional Japanese garments.

A majority of these people weren’t in fact Japanese, but either white or African American.

Many, like Anime lover Everett Turner, have been admiring the culture for years.

“I just love the Japanese culture, I’ve been studying the language and everything. This [garment] was a gift, I just decided to wear it, in honor of it [the festival] and to be a little different.” Turner said.

Other blossom enthusiasts have even majored in Japanese studies in college and have spent years studying abroad.
But even after spending years immersed in Japanese culture, there’s something about the blossoms that brings them back.

“The most Japanese part of the day is going to the Tidal Basin and seeing cherry blossoms,” said Michelle Riley, a former Japanese resident. “But unfortunately, we don’t get to drink Sake outside and have a picnic there like in Japan.”

The Cherry Blossom Parade was easily a common ground for all culturists, linguists, and otaku.

Tourists Find Joy in Cherry Blossom Parade

By Chloe Thompson
UJW Staff Writer

Washington–Anja, a traveler from Denmark said the only reason she heard of the parade was from Cherry Blossom attendees at the Tidal Basin.

“We saw the cherry blossoms when we came here two days ago. We didn’t know they were blooming, it was a big surprise to us,” she said. When asked about her favorite part of the festivities, she replies, “The cherry blossoms.”
This seemed to be a running theme among the patrons of the 2014 National Cherry Blossom Festival. Crowds were gathered on the sidewalk, on the streets, and on an occasional museum lawn.

With many people comes many different stories and reasons, and this point was exemplified by the contrasting rationale of interviewees. One such group was the organization Donate Life. This group attended the parade to promote their organization, because April is National Donate Life Month.

Another group was a dance troupe from the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, which came down to D.C. to perform in the parade. And then there were the group of women from Chicago getting food from a hot dog stand who simply said, “We came down for the food.”

The parade seemed to have entertained the masses, but many people agreed: The reason they were there, by far, was for the cherry blossoms.

Oxon Hill fights back against proposed Wal-Mart

By Gabrielle Headly
UJW Staff Writer

OXON HILL, MD — Lifelong Oxon Hill resident Bonnie Bick has witnessed many forms of development in her hometown over the decades, some she has supported, some she hasn’t.

“They’re stealing from all of the students, they’re stealing your quality of life,” said Bick, an environmental activist.

In Oxon Hill, these feelings are common. With the ongoing expansion of the National Harbor, living in a fast-growing area is nothing new to residents. But when Wal-Mart planned to build between a high school and an elementary Montessori school, some locals drew the line.

According to Bick, three years ago the corporation attempted to build between Oxon Hill High School and John Hanson Montessori School. Due to “holes in the case,” Wal-Mart had to go back to the drawing board and put their plans on hold.

Several years later, the issue of Wal-Mart building between the two schools has resurfaced. Spearheading the initiative since 2011 is John Hanson parent Nicole Nelson with the help of the Oxon Hill High School Student Government Association, which joined the battle in August 2013.

Residents are concerned about safety, traffic, and the misconception of jobs. According to Paulette Brown,an adviser to the school’s student government associationr, Wal-Mart will bring unwanted attention to the new campus, increase traffic on Clipper Way (formerly Felker Avenue) and will only hire employees over the age of 18, which the majority of the high school’s students are not.

Amanda Henneberg, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said safety and security of the customers is their top priority.

“The new site plan now includes a 50-foot landscape buffer between the Montessori School and the store,” Henneberg said. “We have also removed the vehicular access that was previously located between the Montessori school and the store.”

Henneberg believes that the distance from the store to the school is far enough that Wal-Mart’s traffic should not interfere or create safety issues at Oxon Hill High School. Even with these efforts made by Wal-Mart to mitigate the issue, community members are still passionate about their cause.

“Our main problem is getting the word out,” said Marcel Adams, SGA President. “We’re only activists and community members, so we don’t have as much influence compared to a corporation like Wal-Mart.”

Activists agreed that the way to win this battle is through student participation.

“You should focus on people power.That’s the only way to stop it [Wal-Mart]–it’s a political issue” said Bick.

The proposal is currently sitting before the Prince George’s County Council. But to prove that this effort is worth fighting, students said there still needs to be significant participation in the cause’s efforts.

“We’re trying to recruit members to join the fight,” said Adams. “We need people to talk to the elected officials because the only people who have the power to tell Wal-Mart ‘No’ is the elected officials.”

Keith Brooks, a local awyer, thinks the community members in Oxon Hill should find “The best alternative to a negotiated Agreement and the worst alternative to a negotiated agreement.”

“Ideally, a good negotiated settlement would be a ‘win-win’ situation for both Walmart and Oxon Hill,” Brooks said.

If this plan does fall through, for some community members there is no compromise. In the early stages of the battle, these activists made it clear that they did not oppose Wal-Mart, only its location but if this plan goes into place, many community members will not support either.

“There is no compromise, it’s like a giant:a s soon as you start talking about compromise, you’ve lost.” Bick said.

Column: Have We All Gone Crazy?

By Maggie Gallagher
UJW Staff Writer

Has our world gone crazy? Is everyone just a violent person waiting to pop? Ever since James Holmes brought an AR15, Glock 40 Caliber, and a Remington 870 into an Aurora movie theater, it seems that random acts of violence are committed weekly.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reported that violent crime rate has decreased by 18.7 percent from 2003 to 2012. However, this statistic seems to counter the view of Jay Walsh, 23. “For as long as I can remember there has been public violence…I don’t think that the world was any safer when I was younger, I was just less aware of it,” he said.

If the violent crime rate has diminished, why does it feel like it increased or at least stayed constant? Perhaps the constant coverage of violence by the media could be a cause of our sense of increased violence.

Billy Gardell, a comedian and actor, recently talked about the lack of hope and how it is exemplified in the news in his comedy segment, We Need Hope. The line that stuck out to this author the most is when he said, “Can’t even turn on the news that’ll horrify you, right? Murder, death, rape, child abduction, — economy, oil spill, … good luck.” He continues to then talk about the need for hope saying, “Can’t anybody get a cat out of the tree or something I can hold onto?”

This phenomenon is occurring since the news and media industries are continuing to barrage the world with pictures and videos of violence and despair. This idea is agreed upon by Adria Gallagher, 49, who said, “Yes, I agree the numbers are decreased… [its] coverage has increased-mass murders are the news.”

Because of this constant portrayal of violence, people know now how often their lives could be in danger. After various random acts of violence such as the Boston Marathon, and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut; numerous people began to worry about their safety in schools, marathons, and movie theaters.
Grace Callahan, a Boston resident, commented on this issue by saying, “I feel that public safety has definitely decreased and that things are more dangerous… I don’t feel less safe, but I think there are some people who are more concerned for their well-being and safety.”

Should more people be like Grace and not fear for their safety?

Some may say that violence has become a major issue and worry for everyone due to the media and culture making it the center of attention. Although the number of violent offenses committed has decreased from 1,400,000 cases in 2008 to 1,200,000 cases in 2010; it seems that everything in our culture is centered on violence. The world of video games and movies has come under criticism because of the extreme violence they portray.

Most may not know, but the highest grossing genre of movies is action movies according to Investopedia. The popularity of violence has carried over to video games. The most anticipated games are those that are based on violence, such as Assassins Creed and Call of Duty. Maybe the sense of increased violence is due our culture constantly making people remember the world of violence they often try to forget.

Life is all about our choice to be a citizen of society or let the bad voice in our head rule our world. Maybe not all of us have gone crazy, but those who have change everyone’s world. No one will ever know exactly why people snap, but maybe one day no one will have to worry if their safety is in danger.

Youth Involvement in STEM Beginning to Grow

By Tayah Harper
UJW Staff Writer

WASHINGTON D.C. — Have you ever thought of a way to get more than 325,000 youth and their parents in one room? The 2014 USA Engineering and Science Festival in Washington, DC successfully accomplished this.

The festival is a place for inspiring engineers and scientists to come and have a hands-on experience with their career goals. The festival began in 2010. and is continuing strong in its third year.

Parent Luke Memo attended conference this year for the first time with his son. “My son likes science, so I decided it would be a good idea to come,” he said. “I like when he uses his creativity.” Memos pre-teen son says the conference was “amazing” and that he would like to come back next year.

Students from the Project Lead the Way program at Charles H. Flowers High School were also in attendance. The students presented projects they constructed in school. Their projects were an interactive alarm system and a puzzle cube.

The interactive alarm system is a mock security system. Attendees had to try to guess the correct code to disable the alarm. If the attendees guessed the code correctly, the display would read “open.” If the code was guessed incorrectly, the display would read “sorry.”

Nyah Drummond says, “The project showcased what the Project Lead the Way juniors did this year. We thought people would like it.”

Each attendee got three tries to attempt to guess the correct code. Most people finally made the correct guess on the final try.

The puzzle cube is a five-piece building block where attendees to create a 3×3 cube in two minutes. Different shapes were put together to make the cube. It was a big hit at the festival as the colors and the challenge attracted the kids.

“We thought it was fun since it was interactive and would really get the kids involved in science in engineering,” says Kaymin Dixon, one of the creators. “The puzzle cube allows the kids to brainstorm on how they can solve it.”
One attendee was able to construct the puzzle cube in 30 seconds with two broken arms. He narrated his steps to solve the puzzle.

Alexander Dulce, a teacher, decided to bring his class because he wanted the students to show everyone what they learned in their classes.

“I wanted my students to gain advancement in learning about electrical and electronics engineering. They needed to be more involved in STEM.”

The students were able to show thousands of people everything they know about science and engineering.

“I was so pleased. There are no words to explain how pleased I was,” Dulce said. “They really showed the world what they have to offer as young engineers!”

After Breach, Student Data Privacy in the Spotlight

By Austin Chavez
UJW Staff Writer

After reports of a second data breach at the University of Maryland in late March and a similar breach at the North Dakota University server that affected around 200,000 people two weeks prior Khaliah Barnes believes that that this is a sign that students are increasingly losing ownership and control of their own information.

Her solution? A Student Privacy Bill of Rights.

“The Student Privacy Bill of Rights would tailor to today’s student privacy big data dilemma,” said Barnes, Director at the Electric Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said. Although the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows student access to records held by schools and agencies, the law does not necessarily apply to records created by private companies, according to Barnes.

“A Student Privacy Bill of Rights would grant students the right to access and amend their records, regardless of who collects, creates, and maintains those records — including private companies,” said Barnes.

Furthermore, A Student Privacy Bill of Rights would call for a level of transparency that, according to Barnes, students simply do not have today.

“Students are kept in the dark about the numerous parties that access their information,” she said. “And we’re no longer talking test scores.”

Recently, EPIC, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), filed a complaint against Scholarships.com. The document holds that the website “encourages student consumers to divulge sensitive medical, sexual orientation, religious, and political affiliation information for college scholarships and financial aid information.”

“Schools, companies, and agencies are amassing more information than ever before,” said Barnes. “They reap many of the rewards of student data, but it is the students who take on the risks.”

“A Student Privacy Bill of Rights would give control and ownership back to students,” she concluded.

“I think that’s really scary,” said junior Grace Zeswitz, in response to the UMD breach that compromised the personal information, including social security numbers, of students, staff, and alumni. “Your social security extends beyond college and at work and I think it’s scary that that stuff is out in public.”

Zeswitz, 16, of Alexandria, Virginia also believes that companies need to be more upfront in explaining why they get certain information. “I don’t know why some companies need some of the information,” she said, in response to the complaint against Scholarships.com. “I don’t see how sexual orientation has anything to do with intelligence,” she said.

However, for Zeswitz, an even bigger issue is that students seem to not have a say where their information goes. “Obviously, I don’t think we can completely separate [our] personal and academic lives,” she said. “But students should be able to choose what kind of information they want in the Internet.”

For junior Ronie Altejar, the main issue with privacy is credibility. “Personally, I don’t mind if companies ask for my information,” he said. “But I think it crucial that they tell us why they’re asking for it.”

Altejar, 16, of Springfield, Virginia, admits that although he does not have any issues with his high school, he believes that the conversation on student privacy should begin playing out in schools nonetheless. “I think my school [Bishop Ireton] would be very open to at least discuss this issue. I can’t say the same for other schools,” he said.

Zeswitz agrees.

“More students should get themselves involved. The bigger battle is ignorance,” she said.

Local schools explore digitizing methods

By Gabby Brooks
UJW Staff Writer

ROCKVILLE, Md.– In Mooresville, N.C., students file into their classrooms, but instead of pulling out their notebooks and pencils, they have school-issued laptops.

The Mooresville school district is joining educators who are integrating digital technology into education. Since these modernizing changes were passed, the graduation rate, test scores, and national ranking have all increased. School districts in the D.C. metropolitan area are taking steps to follow suit.

“While computers have been a part of the classroom experience for years, school officials are finally thinking about how to modernize their classrooms to better utilize technology to meet the needs of all students,” said John Bailey, the executive director of non-profit organization Digital Learning Now.

In Maryland, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Joshua Starr approved a technology modernization plan in September that included expanding the number of Smart Boards across the county and installing wireless networks in all high schools. Additionally, SB 283 was approved by Gov. Martin O’Malley this April and it established an Advisory Council for Virtual Learning to discuss issues regarding digital learning.

At Richard Montgomery High School (RM) in Rockville, Md., many students believe their school lags behind in digitizing. While the school has several computer labs open to all students, the Wi-Fi is password-protected and students are not allowed to bring laptops into class.

“I think RM is technologically advanced in terms of the Promethean boards, which are a fantastic addition that makes learning interactive. But what really frustrates me is our outdated computer programs and the students’ inability to bring in our laptops to take notes during lectures,” said RM senior Rachel Mayl.

However, RM is beginning to digitize. The students this year were given discounted prices for Microsoft Surface tablets and were encouraged to purchase and use them to take notes in class. Beginning next year, MCPS students will have Wi-Fi access for personal devices.

“I hope that RM begins to update more soon. I know that I personally would be able to take much more concise, informative, and inclusive notes on my laptop, rather than a notebook, and still be a full participant in the classroom,” Mayl added.

With the many snow days hitting the East Coast this year, the digitization of schools has become an increasingly pressing issue. MCPS had nine snow days this school year and in response, RM math teacher Laura Goetz filmed her lectures and uploaded them to YouTube.

“I think the online lectures were a great way to keep the class on schedule during the many snow days we had. They were exactly like a regular class session and you could even move at your own pace or listen to something again if you didn’t understand,” said senior Lindsey Noll, a student in Goetz’s AP Calculus class. Noll also added that even those who do not have internet access or computers were given enough time to go to the library to watch the videos.

Another way schools are integrating technology is through a model called blended learning, according to Bailey. “In a blended learning classroom, students spend part of their time utilizing technology and part of the time interacting with their teacher and classmates…This approach allows teachers to reach more students in a larger class, while providing instruction that’s tailored to the individual needs of each child through the digital content provided,” he said.

Bailey pointed to Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools Kaya Henderson, who said blended learning means “integrating technology into the curriculum in a smart way. It’s not just putting students in front of computers—it’s helping students learn better through a blend of technology-enhanced instruction and face-to-face teaching.”

Digital Learning Now releases an annual Digital Learning Report Card and the 2013 analysis ranked Florida and Utah as the best states for digital learning, both scoring 92 percent. Bailey noted how students in these states have seen “tremendous expansion” in the courses available, especially for foreign language options and AP courses. Additionally, Florida Virtual School students are outperforming their peers on AP and state assessments.

However, Noll noted the possible distractions and believes that “schools should not necessarily rely too much on technology, such as requiring students to bring their own laptops or tablets to school everyday. Instead, they should only allow students who choose to to use them in classes where they could thrive.”

“All of these great tools available today should be deployed in a smart and thoughtful manner. Today’s educators have more resources than ever before; the challenge is to use them in a way that complements their instruction,” Bailey said.

Culture Change Afoot on Eastern Shore

By Chloe Thompson
UJW Staff Writer

For years, Maryland’s Eastern shore has been balancing two conflicting stereotypes, a culture of coastal living, and a culture of hunting, fishing, and “living the country life.”

The two stereotypes are what are typically thought of when thinking of the Eastern shore. With the introduction of new cultural hot spots like festivals, restaurants, and shopping centers, comes a whole new group of people with different ideologies. The culture is more than likely going to change because of this, leaving the question in many minds if the culture will change, or stay as is.

“The two (cultures) don’t fit together at all.” said Kent Island High School Sophomore Shanna Pellegrin. “It’s a really unlikely combination. It’s almost two opposing political standpoints. You can tell that at some point, the culture here is going to change. And that feels like it’s going to happen pretty soon.”
Kent Island is the largest land mass in the Chesapeake Bay, and is the main connector to the rest of the Eastern Shore.

“People drive through here on the way to the beach, they’re saying, like, wow…this is beautiful. Then they want to check it out…they want to move here, raise their kids here.” said KIHS Junior, Lily Walsh. “A lot of people that are coming here have lived in the city before (are living there now), and they’re coming from areas with different cultures than what is around here.”

The addition of new communities and shopping centers has increased the population throughout the shore. According to the US Census Bureau, the population of Queen Anne’s County (the county Kent Island resides in) was 47, 798 in 2011, and was 48, 595 in 2012. This addition of 795 people brought the addition of different races with it, increasing the population of African-Americans from 4.9% to 6.9%. And with the inclusion of different races come new viewpoints and philosophy, aka, culture.

“People call them Western Shore-ers, like, no matter where they’re from, they’re going to call them Western Shore-ers. They’re from California; people here are going to call them that. (If) they move here from anywhere other than like, Centreville (a town further out on the Eastern Shore), people are going to call them that.” said Kent Island High School Senior Kylie Haarhoff. “Yes, I do think this is because they are different races, but different races want to come here. We have good food, and now we have music festivals. We’re getting very hippy, kind of Coachella vibes around here.”

Music festivals in and around the Eastern Shore seem to increase intrigue with the area. In 2010, Firefly Music Festival was created by a company based in Chicago called Red Frog Events. The festival is in Dover, Delaware every year, bringing artists on the line-up who aren’t what is expected of a concert in the Delmarva area.

“Chance the Rapper is on the lineup.” said KIHS Sophomore Maddie Gonzalez. “That’s not country. Where we live is so country. This kind of music wouldn’t have come here before. I guess you could say our culture is expanding.”
With new inclusions of people, entertainment, and shopping, the question still in the forefront of many people’s minds is where the Eastern Shore culture will go from here.

“It’s going to change.” said KIHS Freshman Taylor Potter. “We can’t stay country forever. Every society grows and changes. It’s almost silly to look at it differently, you know? We’re getting new vibes. A lot of people, who are, I don’t know, originally from here are against that. They want the same two, the boating and the country. New stuff is coming.” She said laughingly. “Just wait on it.”