Students Dancing Around Cost of Prom

By Leslie Redmond
UJW

WASHINGTON — The high school prom is normally a moment students won’t forget. But due to the poor economy, prom fees will be what seniors remember at McKinley Technology High School.

Normally, students go all out to get sharp and dress to impress at the prom. But some students are playing it close to the vest this year because the affair can be an expensive one once you figure in the cost of a ticket, clothes and transportation to the Camelot ballroom in Upper Marlboro, Md.

So far, only two students have paid for the prom, which is May 27, according to Lauren Chapman, a student member of the prom committee.

Tickets cost $75.

But there are other costs to consider. For ladies, hair and makeup are high on the list.

McKinley Tech senior Ryan Gale said her hairdo will cost at least about $60. And between her manicure, pedicure and getting her eyebrows done, she will have to spend at least $80 more. And she hasn’t even got her dress yet.

She said prom expenses are part of the reason she has two jobs.

“I can’t believe I have to work two jobs to pay for prom. Sometimes I miss out on going out with friends. I work late and have to get up early,” Gale said.

Guys are really feeling the heat since they are the ones generally expected to pay for everything.

Senior Rashad Watt said the cost of the prom is too much so he’s doing something different this year.

“Man, I’m going by myself,” he said. “I ain’t messing with no date.”

He is considering renting a tuxedo because he thought it would be cheaper than buying one.

Senior Othneil Blagrove said he was getting a tuxedo from Men’s Wearhouse.

“At first I was just going to get a suit from Men’s Wearhouse, but once I found out they were having a tuxedo sale, I figured I would just go with that,” he said.

Men’s Wearhouse is having a sale — buy one and get one free. But a tuxedo still isn’t cheap. The price range for a tuxedo is $149.99-$399.98.

Transportation is another problem for some students.

Blagrove said he wasn’t getting a limousine or renting a car. Instead, he is borrowing a car from his friend.

Dominique Scott, another senior, said she and her friends are going to share a limousine.

“Times are hard, limousines are too expensive, so me and a couple friends are going to share one and split the cost,” she said.

Already, sponsors for next year’s prom are considering the costs in this unstable economy.

Travis Hartburger, a chemistry teacher at McKinley Tech and the 2010 prom sponsor, is hopeful sponsors can head off any problems early.

“We are trying to plan as many fund-raisers as possible,” he said. “The approach we’re taking is looking at what ‘09 is doing and seeing what we can do different.”

LaShay Wilkerson, the 2010 class president, added: “We have to bring in money now and not wait until the last minute so we won’t end up like the Class of 2009, who are struggling to make up for fund-raising they should have done their junior year.”

She said that early in the year they started to sell pizza three times a week and are on schedule to have a car wash.

“We are doing as many fund-raisers as possible,” Wilkerson said. “We are going to do a car wash like the class of 2008 since the class of 2009 is choosing not to do one.”

Nutrition Is Key to Athletes’ Output

By Campbell Burr
UJW

WASHINGTON — Aching legs, sweat, exhaustion. The University of Connecticut Huskies and the Syracuse University Orange men’s basketball teams battle in the sixth overtime, three hours and 46 minutes after tip off of the Big East Tournament quarterfinal in March.

At 1:22 a.m., Syracuse wins, ending the longest game in Big East Tournament history.

How did underdog, Syracuse, pull 10 points ahead at the end of the game? Some credit the team trainers. Others praise the coach. But few consider a backbone of the team: the nutritionist.

Syracuse's Eric Devendorf, right, puts up a three-point shot over Connecticut's Gavin Edwards at the end of regulation during a quarterfinal NCAA college basketball game at the Big East men's tournament Thursday, March 12, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The shot, which would have won the game fell through the net, but referees reviewed the play and determined that time had run out before the release forcing the game into overtime. After six overtime periods Syracuse won 127-117. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Syracuse's Eric Devendorf, right, puts up a three-point shot over Connecticut's Gavin Edwards at the end of regulation during a quarterfinal NCAA college basketball game at the Big East men's tournament Thursday, March 12, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The shot, which would have won the game fell through the net, but referees reviewed the play and determined that time had run out before the release forcing the game into overtime. After six overtime periods Syracuse won 127-117. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

“Food becomes fuel,” said Michele Macedonio, the team dietician for the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Kings pro soccer team, which is why it is crucial for athletes to “prepare nutritionally.” The better the nutrition, the “more endurance, more power, more fuel,” Macedonio said.

Amy Wood, a former star on the No. 1-ranked University of Connecticut Field Hockey Team, a member of the Washington Shredders Hockey Club, a marathon runner, and a high school field hockey coach, agrees that good nutrition brings “more strength, more confidence, better play.”

Nutritionists stress the importance of a balanced diet, one that contains a variety of foods that each offer different vitamins.

Macedonio advises athletes to refrain from eating fried foods and urges them to keep a low fat diet, as fats slow digestion and can affect bowel movement. Wood also suggests that athletes avoid foods that are high in sugar, such as candy, as they can cause athletes to feel lethargic during competition.

The night before an event, nutritionists direct athletes to consume complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat or white flowered pasta and bread, and a moderate amount of lean protein, such as chicken breasts and salmon. Macedonio said that carbohydrates are the “muscle-preferred fuel” and that lean proteins allow muscles to recover.

Michelle Szymzcak, captain of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Varsity Swim Team, gathers with her team on nights before swim meets for “Pasta Dinners,” team potlucks with large servings of pasta, lasagna and bread. “I eat a lot of protein the week before (a meet) and carbohydrates the night before,” Szymzcak said.

The morning of an athletic event, it is important to choose foods that will leave the stomach and be absorbed into cells. Athletes should avoid foods that make them nauseous. Macedonio reiterates, “If food stays in the stomach, it doesn’t help you.”

Macedonio instructs athletes who get nervous before competing to eat liquid meals. Wood tells these athletes to eat bland foods and avoid heavy or spicy foods.

Athletes sometimes have the opportunity to eat during events. Macedonio recommends a high carbohydrate, easily digested snack, such as a pretzel with honey. She discourages athletes from consuming candy or sandwiches. Christine Brown, a member of Vanderbilt University’s golf team, usually eats a piece of fruit or a sports bar every few holes.

Even though heat usually brings down one’s appetite, nutritionists urge athletes to eat within the first hour after activity when muscles are most receptive. Sometimes liquid foods, such as kefir and yogurt smoothies, are desirable because they replenish fluid loss. Smoothies also offer carbohydrates and proteins.

Preparation differs for men and women because of their different body structures. Because women have less body mass, a menstrual cycle and lower iron stores, they may need more iron and calcium. Women also must keep body fat to a minimum.

According to Elise Sinagra, a dietician at Rockingham Memorial Hospital and an adjunct instructor at Washington and Lee University, men usually have to consume more calories.

Wrestlers prepare differently because they are under pressure to make a low weight class that allows them to compete against smaller athletes. During the season, Adam Pereira, a member of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s varsity wrestling team, sticks to salad, fruit and protein bars and avoids unhealthy and salty foods, such as chips. Unlike the huge dinners that athletes normally consume the night before a match, Pereira sticks to water and a small meal. The morning of competition, he eats nothing. However, after weigh-in, he binges on sandwiches and fruits.

Hydration also is crucial to a strong performance. Website Strength-Conditioning.net said that if athletes wait until they are thirsty to drink water, it is too late. “You’ve already lost about 1 percent of your body fluids and, as a result, your physical performance will suffer significantly,” Strengh-Conditioning.net cautions.

On hot, humid days, Macedonio advises athletes to drink a sports drink two hours before competing. This helps athletes hydrate but will not make them have to relieve their bladders during competition. A half-hour before the game, athletes should drink more fluids.

Isotonic carbohydrate sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, replenish electrolytes, which are important to functions of the body. If an athlete is sweating out 2 percent of his or her body weight fluid, the athlete needs a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes.

Brown, of Vanderbilt University’s golf team and a former cross-country runner for the school, preferred water before a race. However, afterwards, she drank Gatorade.

Szymzcak, the swimmer on Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s varsity team, avoids soda, alcohol and drinks with caffeine, which Strength-Conditioning.net warns all have “a dehydrating effect on the body.” However, Macedonio acknowledges that some runners like a cup of coffee before they exercise. Others have a bad response to caffeine and feel jittery.

Macedonio recommends that athletes test their levels of hydration during a low-level competition to ensure that they have prepared adequately. One method she suggests is weighing oneself before competing and again immediately after competing. The weight loss will equal the athlete’s fluid loss and can show the athlete whether he or she is hydrated.

A urine test is another method proposed by Macedonio. If an athlete’s urine is an apple juice color and very concentrated, the athlete needs more fluid. However, if the urine is lemonade-colored or clear and dilute, the athlete is hydrated. These tests are important because dehydration not only limits an athlete from performing at his or her full potential, but also risks heat illness, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Macedonio says that a balanced diet is essential for a strong performance. She helps football players prepare for NFL Pro Days by crafting personalized eating schedules. Once a football player did not follow her advice and had to quit the pro day early.

“Fatigue is caused by running out of fuel,” Macedonio said.

VERNICE ARMOUR: A REBEL WITH A CAUSE

By Taylor Valencia
UJW

WASHINGTON – Her short haircut and strong handshake are just the tip of the iceberg for Vernice Armour, the first African-American female combat pilot. 

She’s a rebel in the eyes of many, even to her parents who didn’t want her to join the Marines. She also blows up preconceived notions about the expectations of women.

But she counters these views positively.

“Acknowledge the obstacles, don’t give them power,” Armour said during a recent news conference with a group of high school students in the Urban Journalism Workshop.

Born in Chicago and raised in Memphis with her three brothers, Armour is not afraid to do tackle anything.

While her brothers were away at college Armour went against her mother’s wishes and built weightlifting equipment using a metal pipe with taped foam on the ends to keep the weights in place.

Her mother told her to get rid of it but that didn’t hold her back.

She attended Middle Tennessee State University where she earned a degree in physical education, focusing on exercise science.

While there she saw a flyer that advertised a trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  But in order to go, she had to join the Army ROTC Rifle Team. And she did, without telling her parents.

While in training, she saw an African-American woman in a flight suit.  Her first reaction was, “That is cool. Why didn’t I think of that?”

She didn’t know the woman’s name or anything about her but that image inspired her.

She graduated from flight school in Pensacola , Fla. , on July 13, 2001. She ranked first in her class of 12 students.

She had hoped to fly a jet but none were available. So off she went to learn to fly the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter.

“I wanted to fly the baddest thing out there,” she said.

Armour served two tours in Iraq and is now working on a book she’ll title Zero to Breakthrough

BUCKING THE ODDS PAYS OFF FOR ARMOUR

By Cicely Wiggins
UJW

WASHINGTON – As the first African-American female combat pilot Vernice Armour’s desire to save people’s lives was essential to her dedication to join the Marines.

Her belief that you should acknowledge obstacles – but not give them power – shows how she achieved.

Armour is often viewed as headstrong, defying the odds in her life.

For example, she joined the military against her parents’ wishes. They were fearful of the treatment she might receive as a woman in the military and they also were afraid for her safety.

But Armour’s one of those people who takes on an issue and rolls with the punches.

“We have the choice to make any kind of life we want to. Why not make it a breakthrough life?” Armour said to a group of high school students in the Urban Journalism Workshop during a recent news conference.

She has inspired many people with her speeches and wants to form an organization to help train young people to become leaders.

“I want to have a leadership community center in (Washington) D.C. where the kids, adults, community leaders, and also city leaders, have a chance to get together. I like to call it a mentorship family of young people eight to 12 years old, teens 13 to 18 years old, adults and civic leaders,” Armour said.

“In this family, the young kids are learning from the adults and the leaders about how to be a leader when they grow up,” she added.

And if those young people want to go into the Marines, she says they should want it bad enough to brace themselves for whatever is thrown in their direction.

 “Each person is unique with where they are going, and the experiences that they already had. But once I just have that little dialogue about what their goals and dreams are then I could give some advice,” Armour said.

FORMER ‘TOMBOY’ FINDS HER CALLING

ujw_armour1By Cara Bernard
UJW

WASHINGTON – Vernice Armour has overcome many obstacles in her life, but clearly, she’s not afraid of a challenge.

That’s why she’s the first female African-American combat pilot.

Though Armour’s accomplishments are many, one of the main philosophies that helped her progress is the belief that anyone can do anything by working for it.

Pushing through against the odds has been a hallmark of Armour’s life. Her story and the lessons it teaches inspires many people, whether jetting across the sky in a Cobra attack helicopter or not.

“Acknowledge the obstacles in life, don’t give them power.” Armour, 35, said during a recent news conference for high school students in the Urban Journalism Workshop.

It’s an idea first introduced to Armour at a young age. When she was only 4 years old she was inspired by the vision of a police officer riding a horse downtown.

With her love for horses and her experience growing up the only girl in a house with three brothers, a dream like this wasn’t farfetched.

But the future for this tomboy was nothing Armour could imagine.

When she finished high school, Armour enrolled in college despite the fact that she had no way to pay for it.

“Money is not the decision-maker” she told the students.

Little did she know, enrolling in college would provide her an opportunity that would change her life forever. It started with an advertisement for a free trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

“I saw the flyer, and I was like, ‘Alright,’ ” she said.

There was a little catch: The trip was free if you joined the ROTC Rifle Team.

Armour wasn’t turned off. She had been around plenty of military people. Her father was a major in the Army Reserve, her stepfather was a Marine who served in Vietnam and her grandfather was a Montford Point Marine.

Her stepfather, afraid she would face sexism in the military, was not supportive at first.

“It was tough,” Armour said, who went on to join the ROTC.

At a ROTC training camp, Armour was walking with a friend when she saw an African-American woman in a flight suit. The image was powerful enough to keep her attention even after returning to civilian life.

So she enrolled in flight school and gave it her all. Armour graduated from flight school first in her class of 12 in July 2001 and became the Marine Corps’ first black female pilot.

About two months later, the nation was attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11.

“We were no longer training just to train,” she said.

Armour was deployed to Iraq soon after, presenting her with a new battle.

Being the only woman in her unit, Armour sometimes felt lonely and isolated. But she didn’t shrink from that one either.

“We’re in school every day and there’s a lesson for us every day,” she said.

Her lesson that day, “Sometimes you have to step up and include yourself.”

A SOLDIER’S STORY: FIGHT FOR YOUR DREAMS

By Leslie Redmond
UJW

WASHINGTON – Vernice Armour, the first African-American female combat pilot and first female pilot in the Marine Corps, is an example of what it means to have no excuses, just solutions.

“Acknowledge the obstacles. Don’t give them power,” Armour said during a recent news conference for high school students in the Urban Journalism Workshop.

It’s a lesson she had to learn early.

Armour’s father was in the Army and her grandfather was a Montford Point Marine. Her stepfather also was a Marine.

Although she thought it would be “cool” to continue the military tradition not everyone shared that view.

Her stepfather didn’t want her to go into the Marines because he wanted her to avoid the sexism he believed she would inevitably experience.

Determined and strong-willed, Armour went against her stepfathers’ wishes.

The military caught her fascination while she was a student at Middle Tennessee State University . And that had its challenges for her too. She had trouble financially. But this obstacle didn’t stand in her way for long, either, because she applied for every aid and loan package she could until she had enough money.

She saw an ad for a free trip to Mardi Gras. But there was a catch in the fine print. She had to join the ROTC Rifle Team first.

She did and was on the path to become a Marine.

After the trip, Armour would later attend the Army ROTC Leadership Training Advanced Camp at Fort Bragg, N.C. There, she would have a life-changing experience.

“I saw an African-American woman in a flight suit. It was a powerful image. It planted a strong seed. I am the blossom of that seed today,” said Amour.

But before chasing her dream to become a pilot she took a break from school in 1996 to attend the police academy. She subsequently joined the Nashville Police Department’s motorcycle squad.

So she went to school part-time and graduated in 1997.

Two years later, Armour went to Tempe, Ariz., and joined the police force there.

Still, Armour wanted to become a combat pilot, so she joined the Marines and went to flight school where she graduated at the top of her class in July 2001.

“I was No. 4 for the jet slot so I knew I had to be No. 1 one in my class to fly Cobras,” Armour said.

She has served two tours in Iraq as a Super Cobra attack helicopter pilot and participated in the invasions of Iraq, the battle of Fallujah and the battle in Najaf.

POSITIVE FORCES GUIDE VERNICE ARMOUR

By Kendra Johnson
UJW

WASHINGTON – Positive thinking will always get you somewhere.

Vernice Armour, the first African-American female combat pilot, knows this first-hand. Remaining positive through any obstacle or task has made Armour who she is today – determined and successful.

Armour encourages others to think this way too.

After not having enough money for college, after her parents didn’t approve of her decision to join the Marine Corps, and even after facing two deployments to Iraq , Armour was still positive.

Now a professional speaker, Armour often tells her audience about developing a “zero-to-breakthrough mentality.”

How do you do this?

“Acknowledge your obstacles. Don’t give them power,” Armour told a group of high school students in the Urban Journalism Workshop during a recent news conference.

Armour recalled doing just that in two instances in her life. While in college she did not have much money. Unlike many others in this situation, her spirits weren’t dampened. Armour continued to focus on her dreams.

“Money is not the decision-maker,” Armour said, adding that those who want to go to school can go if they find and use the tools they need to help them get through.

It’s advice that she has had to draw on from time to time.

Like her second deployment to Iraq when she said that she felt hopeless, alone and isolated.

It was a scorching 120-degree day in Iraq . But while walking back to one of the tents she stopped in her tracks, looked at the landscape and took a really deep breath in the hot, searing air. At that moment, she said her mentality changed.

“I’ll cherish every second no matter what because these are seconds I will never get back,” Armour said.

It marked one of the few times that Armour was close to giving an obstacle power. But she turned her negative into a positive – something she teaches in her lectures today – a “breakthrough mentality for a breakthrough life.”