Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 05/18/2007
A comparison between Robinson's bermuda grass and synthetic turf
By Robby Panos
"All games for today have been cancelled due to the weather," reads the white board outside the Athletic Office. A serious injury ends an athlete's season. Money is poured into maintaining the game field that will be torn apart after only a few hours of play. Some Fairfax County Schools, including West Springfield and Fairfax High School, no longer have to worry about these problems because they have made the switch to synthetic turf fields.
Recent technology in synthetic turf fields has made them an ideal alternative to natural grass fields. From weather to safety to cost, the advantages of synthetic turf fields are increasing, providing a durable playing surface that both players and coaches alike can appreciate. Others feel, however, that these synthetic fields take away from the game. Another issue is the initial capital outlay required to install artificial turf and finding ways to fund such a huge project.
Synthetic turf fields are completely artificial and usually consist of many layers that mimic qualities of natural grass. The layers of such a field consist of an underground piping system, a geo-textile fabric, a base stone, and finally the synthetic turf layer. The piping system provides drainage to pull water from the playing surface and effectively draw it away from the field while the other layers provide stability yet give cushion to the field. Most fields also have small rubber pellets for added give that help protect athletes.
Weather can be an enemy for many outdoor athletic teams and an immense nuisance to practice and game scheduling. At the start of this year's spring season, most teams spent almost two weeks splitting gym time or making use of the confined blacktop space because of rain. Senior lacrosse and football player Camren Cooke, said, "It would be great to have turf fields so teams can play in any weather and not have to worry about bad field conditions." Even on days when it was not raining, fields remained flooded and continued the halt on practices and games. Where a natural grass field may be unusable when muddy or frozen, a synthetic turf field can be used, safely and without damage, in almost any weather because of the advanced draining systems.
Synthetic fields are also extremely durable and can withstand the wear and tear by athletes. A game played on a natural field during or following rain, however, can tear up a field to the point where it cannot recover for quite some time. In such instances, repairs must be made to the field to make it ready for play. Synthetic fields, on the other hand, do not need to be rested to recover from heavy use and are immediately available for the next activity.
The greatest disadvantage of synthetic turf fields is that they are still very costly to install, upwards of half a million dollars. Athletic director, Mike McGurk, said that cost is the major issue and that "we just don't have that kind of money. McGurk added that if cost were not an issue installing a turf field would be "no question. It would help everybody and there are a lot of upsides to it." Supporters of synthetic turf fields argue that this initial cost is made up for in the long run because the synthetic fields require much less labor and maintenance. Natural grass fields, like the Bermuda grass at Robinson, must be mowed every other day, frequently have lines painted, and treated with special chemicals.
Ways for a school to cover the initial installation costs include making an agreement with a local youth organization, looking to Fairfax County for help, turning to private investment through advertising, or persuading the boosters to take on the project. While joining with a local youth organization, such as BRYC, seems to be the most achievable option, the problem is that the youth teams then have rights to the field, only causing more scheduling issues.
In November 2006 Fairfax County voters approved a $25 million bond referendum to increase the number of parks in the county. Part of the improvement and addition of new parks through the referendum includes converting 12 grass fields to synthetic turf. The fields will be located within Patriot Park, a 97-acre area along Braddock Road near Mott Community Center. The groundbreaking ceremony for the park was held in early March and was open to the public.
Both advantages and disadvantages come with synthetic turf fields. Because so many factors exist, the decision ultimately comes down to the situation of that particular school.
Posted at 08:59 AM ET, 05/18/2007
Crew team member: Chris Myers
By Andrew Dixon
"Chicks dig guys with a big oar," is how senior Chris Myers replies when asked what appeals to him about crew. Since ninth grade Myers has been a reckonable force for crew whose presence is felt both in and out of the water. Physically demanding and often overlooked at as a sport, crew has been Myer's passion since freshman year.
What he lacks in athleticism he makes up with brute strength, charm and handsomeness. The latter of the three has been the source of some problems for Myers this year. "I have to beat women (and sometimes men) off with a stick," said Myers. Never the one to get distracted too easily he remains unfazed by all the extra attention and continues to focus on his studies and respective sport.
Students can often find him running on the side of the road, or on a rowing machine in the hall, just a few things he might do in an afternoon's practice. His drive and tenacity for the sport seems almost unreal given his former reputation. In elementary through middle school, Myers was anything but a stellar student; Abrasive, crude and foul he gained the reputation as a "smelly kid" and "the kid who's going no where." Upon entering high school Myers had gone through a transformation of sorts and suddenly became a super, stellar student. He took on all sorts of projects from after school clubs to football and then, crew.
Although at meets they tend to row in boats most of the time, training and practices include a lot, a lot, of running and dry-land exercises. Dry-land exercises can include sit-ups, push ups, activities with the medicine balls and various other gut busting workouts. When they are out on the water it is all business and non-stop stroking.
Crew has taught Myers many things about discipline and since joining in ninth grade ,his grades have steadily improved to the point where most of his classes are honors classes. He even went so far as to apply to Princeton. After weeks of waiting, however, the letter which would ultimately destroy his dreams of attending the prestigious, arrived. He remained positively spirited and continued on with his sport.
Crew sometimes carries a stigma of not being a real sport or considered as just a bunch of people rowing in boats. Myers will argue that while not as many people get hurt participating, it is very much a sport. "We do some running. We row on the water. We work out on rowing machines and on Tuesday we go to Taco Bell," said Myers. Since he is usually easy going and naturally humorous, Myers' often understates the effort and time every member puts into each season.
Myers had a few choices for colleges he could have attended, ranging from Virginia Tech, Madison and the University of Richmond. His final decision, the University of Richmond. When asked why he replied with, "they offered me 25,000 dollars for tuition." One other thing Myers is certain about is whether or not he will continue crew in college; "No way, I'm not crazy," he said. No, he is definetly not crazy.
Posted at 08:59 AM ET, 05/18/2007
Crew team's persistent conditioning pays off with successful season
By Lauren Hargarten
"Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream; merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream." Although the lyrics to this song may apply to many a person's serene and calming boat rides, it does not apply to the arm-straining and leg-aching races the crew team accomplishes.
After all of the effort the crew team has put in, one can only hope that all of the hard work and time will pay off in the upcoming season. Senior Jessica Jones has a positive outlook on the season ahead. Jones said, "As a team we're going to do really well."
After months of conditioning, the crew team is finally doing what it does best: rowing. The season can be very hectic, with a regatta a week until the end of May. So far both boys and girls have been successful since both of the teams have been placing high in their regattas. The boys and girls first and second eights have been consistently placing first or second in their heats.
Rowing in a four or eight person boat, the crew team utilizes their entire body to propel across a river. Although it may seem like rowers mainly use their arms to drive their boat along the water, that is not the case. Sophomore Allison Reiter says, "It's hard; you have to use your entire body. Most people think you mainly use your arms, but you mainly use your legs."
Despite their hard work, some rowers feel that they are not recognized. Coxswain sophomore Meredith Davidson, who coordinates the direction of the boat during races, is one of them. She says, "They never announce the crew team's races on the morning announcements, but they say most of the other team's scores and wins."
Much like any other sport, crew is time consuming. With day-long regattas on the weekend and practices at the Occoquan River every day, it is surprising that rowers have time for anything else. "Crew takes up a lot of time," said Reiter. "It's made me better at time management."
According to rowers, crew has taught them many attributes. Jones says that crew has taught her, "Patience, working through the pain, and busting through the wall," which are barriers that athletes have to overcome during workouts.
Choi said that in addition to getting in shape, crew has given him "overall mental toughness."
Many rowers participate in crew throughout the year, which adds on to the already tight time constraint. Crew has conditioning in the winter to prepare for the spring season. The regattas all occur in the springtime, no matter rain or shine, which can add a challenging factor to races.
Several rowers also choose to partake in summer crew camps. A common one among the rowers is the Navy Rowing Camps for either boys or girls. Reiter attends the camp to improve her "rowing skills." The Navy Rowing Camp is located in Annapolis and lasts five days. There is also fall rowing, although it is not through the school, but at the Occoquan River.
Although the seasons and rivers may change, one aspect of crew will remain the same--that dedication remains the core idea of the team. Sophomore Daniel Choi said, "As long as we work hard and do our best, I think we'll do fine."
Posted at 08:58 AM ET, 05/18/2007
Senior leadership guides girls lacrosse
By Thomas Hearin
Led by Coach Alison Neun, the girl's lacrosse team looks to build off last season's success. After going 14-4, the team ended up making a run to the state championships, facing Oakton. After beating Oakton twice last year, both by one goal, the team was heavily disappointed when they fell 9-5 in the championship.
With high expectations of matching the 2005-2006 seasons' accomplishments, the team realized it would be hard, as they would lose the leadership and skill of 12 graduating seniors for the 2006-2007 season. Fielding a team of 25, the varsity lacrosse team looks to meet those challenges head on.
The team is headed by three captains this year, seniors Anna Kate Collier and Marnie Commins, defense and mid/attacker respectively, along with junior Allie Kimmelman, who also plays mid/attacker. Of the 25 players, eight are seniors, nine are juniors, five are sophomores, and three are freshmen. Lacrosse teams field 12 players at a time, goalie included. The team looks to compensate the loss of the 12 seniors, with the experience and skill of the returning players, who, with a state championship under their belt, should help provide knowledge to the new players.
The season started off nicely for the Rams, winning their first two games against Lake Braddock and W.T. Woodson, respectively. The Rams beat both teams by three, beating Braddock 7-4 and W.T. Woodson 10-7. The team however, suffered a difficult loss to Oakton, getting beat 13-10. Even though the loss was a set back, the Rams went on to beat Westfield the next game upping their record to 3-1. The Rams suffered another loss the next game, against Good Counsel, but even with two tough losses putting their record at 3-2, the girls were never fazed. The team bounced back and went on a two game winning streak, beating Centerville and Herndon. After beating Centerville 17-5, the Rams got an even bigger boost of confidence when they toppled Herndon 16-9, who at 5-3 hasn't had that bad of a season thus far.
Juniors Lauren Rudy and Morgan LeTellier remain optimistic on the season as they have seen what this team can do in spite of losing twelve seniors. They acknowledged the fact that people did not expect as much out of last season's state runner ups this year, and they are happy to say that thus far, the Rams are proving them wrong. "With the loss of twelve seniors we look like a young team" said Rudy, "but we don't play like it."
Collier also had a lot to add on to that sentiment. She said, "We're playing together as a team, not as one individual. We lost so many seniors, but it doesn't really matter since we are doing so well."
Kimmelman added, "We work hard because we know that we have such a high reputation."
Currently standing at 5-3, the girls have come a long way thus far after losing almost half of their team, but there is still a long way to go. The girls still play four more regular season games, some of which could prove trying. On the twenty-third, the girls will play away against one of their toughest opponents this year, Chantilly. On the twenty-fifth, the girls will play away again at St.Agnes. On the twenty-seventh the girl's will come back home to play against Fairfax, and on May first the Rams will finish off their season at home, facing off against Loudon Valley.
With the Concorde District playoffs taking place on the seventh of May, and the regions occurring on the fifteenth, the Rams remaining hopeful in making the playoffs. With four games remaining, the girls will go into every game with that same fire because those from last year know anything can happen.
Kimmelman elaborated on the subject, "There's a lot of tough competition. We learned that you can't take anyone lightly," in reference to the State Championship last year.
With four games remaining, the girls look to continue their current trend by finishing the season strong and heading to the playoffs. By being on a team that won states back in 2003 and made it to the State Championship last year, the Rams have not disappointed, as they have continued their reputation and filling in humongous shoes despite the circumstances.
Posted at 08:56 AM ET, 05/18/2007
Boys lacrosse continues winning streak
By Cristina Brown
This year varsity boy's lacrosse has improved, especially in comparison to last year.
The team hasn't had many games so far, but all have been victories. They have remained undefeated, with a 6-0 record. Their first game was against Lake Braddock on March 15, ending in a 14-2 victory. Previous games were against Oakton, Woodson and Westfield. So far this season, the team has been undefeated, and shows progress from last year and the year before. The team has definitely pulled together since the incident on the field against Lake Braddock last year with Coach Dave Baggetta.
There was more to it then just ten Robinson students being suspended for participation in the Lacrosse fight against Lake Braddock last year. One of Lake Braddock's players hit a Robinson goalies stick, causing the goalie to get angry and tackle the player. This riled up both teams, causing one big fight between the two teams on the field. Coach Baggetta, unable to control his team, ended up having to have a talk with Principal Dan Meier and Director of Student Activities Mike McGurk.
Prior to last year's season, Coach Tom Tufts had led the team in three unofficial Virginia titles before he had retired. Dave Baggetta became the boy's varsity lacrosse coach in 2006, after having spent four years as Herndon High School's lacrosse coach. Following the incident, it was ironic to discover that Beggetta's colleagues from Herndon had nominated him "Northern Region Coach of the Year."
Senior and veteran lacrosse player Cameren Cook claimed, "Coach Baggetta wasn't a very good coach and had no control over the team during practices or games."
According to Cook this year has changed drastically, since the team is more collaborative with each othe. Mike McGurk, the Athletics Director, and principal Dan Meier are "probably more reliant (on) and comfortable" with the team and Coach Fitzgerald this year. "Coach Fitzgerald though, has helped with the team and its program, since he knows how to coach and is more understanding of the team." He is more "interactive with the team and less demanding."
Junior Mike Rauch, who has been a lacrosse goalie since the fifth grade, feels that the team has "a lot of potential" and that "the best thing to do is keep [their] heads high one game at a time and maybe the team could be as great as last year, with winning states." Last year was a good year for the team and so far, this year's team seems to be headed in the right direction.
"Ever since the fight two years ago, [the team] has been trying to regain the respect and reputation that [they] deserve," Rauch explained. Rauch plans on playing his senior year.
Many of the players have self-confidence this year as players and in the coaches to help them on their way to victory. One confident player is senior David Laiti, who is also a captain. He has only one thing to say about his team and "nothing else." He simply nods and smiles when he finishes saying, "We are the modern day warriors of Robinson!"
Two of the other captains are Ryan Kleman and Matt Kugler; both seniors have been "working really hard this year." Kleman notices that there are a lot of seniors on the team this year, and feels that they can make it to states again this year because of the team "bonding and helping each other get through close games." Their teamwork and "work ethic" is what has helped the team get through their "one goal wins this year."
Kugler was "proud of the team's 16-5 defeat against Herndon." He felt the team still has a long way to go, but feels the team will definitely be able to win states this year. There are still two more private schools to face, but if the team continues to go down the road they are going, they will be "that much closer to states."
Posted at 08:55 AM ET, 05/18/2007
Cafeteria worker seriously burned in lunchtime accident
By Cristina Brown
On Wednesday, April 11, there was an incident in the cafeteria that attracted some students' attention. A lot of students noticed a helicopter landing on the football field during their fourth period classes, because a cafeteria worker, Hoa Bahn, was badly burned while cooking.
"She was air-lifted to the burn center," said Principal Dan Meier in an email sent out to teachers. On April 12, Bahn spent the night in the hospital, but later that week she returned home. Bahn has yet to come back to Robinson to continue working because her burns are not fully healed. She is resting at home until she can come back to work. It is not known yet how long she will be out of school, but according to Food Services kitchen manager Jeannine Evans, she is "doing much better."
The day of her injury, Bahn was opening bags of spaghetti sauce when boiling water spilled on the bags and fell on her ankles. She was put into a wheelchair by a clinic volunteer, who determined that an ambulance should be called.
According to Evans, the staff has been "very grateful for the Robinson community and its support." They also added that it has been "very rewarding" to know that the people of "Robinson care so much and have concern for her."
Junior Heba Abdelgawad was in her fourth period class when she saw the helicopter land on the field outside. Abdelgawad didn't know what it was for, but later found out that it was for Bahn. She did not know how to react to it, but feels that when Bahn does come back, it would be a good idea for the students to "welcome [Bahn] back and show appreciation for what she does for us."
Posted at 08:54 AM ET, 05/18/2007
June 15 graduation changes underclassmen, exam schedules
By Megan Cannon
As seniors are graduating and moving on from high school, underclassmen get one end-of-year surprise: an extra day off. Students can stay home on Fri., June 15, since the class of 2007's graduation ceremony is in the morning, and all teachers are obligated to attend the ceremony.
However, Tues., June 12, was also changed from a half day to a full day for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors recently. This change came because the seniors need to practice for their June 15 graduation ceremony.
Some students' reactions have been negative because of the loss of the half-day. "It's not fair that we have to have a full day because the seniors have to practice for graduation," said sophomore Megan Cummins. "It is not only the seniors who need a break," Cummins added.
Junior Jamie Clark agreed. "We should not have to have final exams as well as a full day," said Clark.
Some students are content with the schedule for the end of school. Junior Patricia Garcia said, "It is kind of cool that we have half-days at all. I mean, we could have all whole days on the last week of school, but instead we have two easy days."
Seniors have a much different attitude about the scheduling. They do not have to stay a full day or take a final exam. They only have to go to practice the graduation ceremony and to finalize any lingering unfinished business at school. There is a lot of anticipation among the senior class for their last week of high school.
Seniors start looking forward to a new stage of their life, starting with high school graduation. "Everyone starts moving on," said senior Matt McCloud.
Posted at 08:54 AM ET, 05/18/2007
Summer programs offer valuable education, travel opportunities
By Alan Safferson and Lauren Hargarten
Students may have recently received a flurry of brochures and letters in the mail inviting them to attend summer programs at colleges. Many diverse programs are available to high school students. From George Mason University to Brown University, there are many opportunities for students to travel to colleges around the country while learning and having fun.
Many of the programs claim to offer students an adventure while they learn new things and get a better picture of college life. According to Career Center Specialist Kathy Michelman, "[Summer programs are] a good way to get a feel for that particular college."
Students can participate in numerous activities during these programs, including several hands-on classes and real world experiences. A plethora of workshops are also available for students to learn how to do many tasks, such as writing a thesis paper, which will benefit them in both high school and college.
Typically students stay in dorms at the college for a week or more and pick classes that they would like to attend. Many programs offer a lot more than just ordinary learning. There are opportunities to tour the city and visit local attractions. For example, in the Johns Hopkins University program, students spend time touring Baltimore. Also, students who attend the program at Brown are offered the chance to visit other local colleges, including a tour of Harvard University. The summer college programs allow students to gain numerous experiences that they otherwise would never have the chance to do.
According to guidance counselor Mitch Aydlette, there are many reasons for students to participate in these programs. Aydlette explained, "Personal satisfaction, career and practical interests, or to explore something that could be a possible major," are some major reasons for students to attend the programs. He added, "It doesn't look bad on your college resume, either."
Some of the summer programs can be expensive. However, many of the programs offer scholarship opportunities so that they can attend at a reduced cost.
Some of the more popular programs for Robinson students, which were listed by Aydlette, included the programs at the University of Maryland, University of Virginia, George Washington University, Princeton University, and Johns Hopkins University. Other programs which are not directly affiliated with a specific college, such as the National Youth Leadership Conference and Lead America, were also popular choices.
According to the summer session section of the Boston College website, www.bc.edu, "a university experience builds confidence and encourages students to reach a more informed judgment with respect to future courses of study."
However, when choosing a program, "It's not the fact that you went to the Cornell program, it's what you got out of it, were you touched in some way," said Aydlette. He expressed that the most important part is that the program is right for you. Aydlette said, "It depends on the person, what you're into."
Posted at 08:53 AM ET, 05/18/2007
Patriot Park in Fairfax torn down to build new soccer fields
By Marissa Acker
On Sat., March 3, a ceremony was held to celebrate the groundbreaking of Patriot Park, located at 12111 Braddock Road in Fairfax. The property for this new park was purchased by multiple groups, including the Virginia Department of Transportation, the George Mason University Foundation, and several private owners. The land was purchased for about $1.3 million.
According to the Fairfax County Government web site, "The 2004 Park Bond will fund the initial phase of construction, which is anticipated to cost approximately $2.6 million." Tessa Construction and Tech Company of Chantilly will perform the construction. The project is aimed to be completed by September.
Patriot Park is a 97-acre site, and will include the largest recreational turf field in the entire county. Not only will the new park include state-of-the-art sports fields, but it will also include several nature trails. According to the Fairfax Country Government web site, "infrastructure such as parking and storm water management facilities" will also be included in the park.
The construction is going to be "phased." The first phase will include "construction of an access road through the adjacent Mott Community Center, 120 parking spaces and associated lanes," according to the government web site. Also, there will be three lighted synthetic turf soccer fields, along with detailed landscaping of trails and sidewalks.
The second phase of construction will add three 90-foot baseball diamonds and three additional soccer fields for area sports and recreation leagues to use. Also, a playground for children and designated picnic areas will be added at this time.
The construction of the new park is controversial in that the park contains wildlife that have been pushed out of their natural habitats, and some have even died because of the construction of Patriot Park. "I understand the goal of creating a new state-of-the-art park, but, at the same time, it is upsetting, because so many innocent animals are being displaced," said senior Anna-Kate Collier.
Senior Stacey Dodd agreed with Collier, saying, "I guess it is a good idea to have all the space for the athletic fields, but if they are going to do it in a way that is going to harm animals, then they should find another way to do it."
The construction crews are attempting to minimize animal displacement and loss during the construction phases. For example, some natural wooded areas will not be cut down and will be designated for wildlife.
Posted at 08:32 AM ET, 03/23/2007
Spring break: not much of a break for some athletes in upcoming season
by Robby Panos
For most students, spring break is a time of relaxation; a time to rejuvenate in order to make it through the final two months of the school year. For many of those playing spring sports, however, it is a time of improving and maintaining all that has been built thus far. With no specified school or county guideline regarding spring break athletic activities, the decision is left up to coaches. These coaches have come to take many different approaches, ranging from tournaments to routine daily practice to nothing at all.
If available, tournaments have become an ideal option for many coaches to keep their teams on the ball because they provide an opportunity for players to continue to learn through game situations. Tournaments also benefit teams because many are in other locations against different and often better opponents. The baseball, softball, and girl's soccer teams have all opted to attend such tournaments during spring break. The baseball team and softball teams are both attending tournaments in Myrtle Beach, S.C. while the location of the girl's soccer team's tournament is yet to be determined. Senior baseball player Jeremy Burger, said, "Having a tournament over spring break isn't that bad, especially when it's in a place like Myrtle Beach. Traveling and getting away from Robinson makes it feel like a real break."
The major argument against spring break tournaments is that families have to travel long distances in order to watch them. Players are also more likely to get injured in a game situation than in practice which could put them out for the regular season.
The girl's lacrosse team will be traveling to Camp Highroad over the break to help build team unity. Kelsie Dodd, a senior and member of the girl's lacrosse team, said "[going to Camp Highroad] helps everyone on the team to bond together which really shows out on the field." Camp Highroad is located near Middleburg, Va. in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Many coaches, including those of the boy's and girl's track and field teams and the boy's soccer team, have decided to stick to regular practices throughout the break. "We don't want opponents to gain an edge with the extra week of practice," said Lucas Heck, a senior and member of the boy's soccer team. Continuing practice is especially necessary for the track and field teams because the runners get out of shape, even after only a few days off. Primarily just the competing athletes of the track and field team practice over spring break, however.
The final and most questioned spring break option is to give the players the entire week off. The boy's lacrosse, boy's tennis, and girl's tennis teams plan to take this approach this year after having success with such a schedule last year. The philosophy behind this decision is that a week off from practice gives athletes time to recover so they can make the final push heading into playoffs. This is the time of the year in which players start to get burned out, so a week of practice while friends are at the beach can dampen spirits further. In giving the teams the time off, coaches still expect players to keep up on their skills and work on their own. Senior boy's lacrosse player Josh Kelaher said, "It's not like we completely take a week off from the game. We all know we still need to work hard over the break, either on our own or during captain-held practices."
In an area with such competitive athletics, there is little room to do anything but move forward. No matter what route is taken, the fundamental message from every coaches seems to be same: continue to get better.
Posted at 08:32 AM ET, 03/23/2007
Winterpalooza Activities Generate Little Interest in Students
By Alexandria Hiponia
In the dead of winter, the SGA is trying to bring students' spirits up by attempting to organize various activities and events to participate in or attend, such as Gatorball, Laser Tag, the Gong Show, and the not-so-popular Snow Ball, to create this winter-long event called Winterpalooza. Most of these activities spark little interest in the student body because they appear to be pointless, boring, and almost as amusing as watching grass grow. It's a shame people aren't buying into it. But then again, who can blame them? There are parties to go to and movies to see, rather than come back to school and enjoy a school-sponsored activity.
In recent years, student turnout for some of the SGA-sponsored events has been low, mostly because of personal opinions about the activities. Although a handful of people enjoy going to certain activities, more students dislike them because of the lack of appealing events. The SGA had, "higher expectations," for attendance to Winterpalooza this year, according to SGA sponsor and teacher Michael Hertz.
"It's hard to draw people to new activities," Hertz commented. Students took some interest in Gatorball and Hoop It Up, while the new "Win a Date with a Senior Gentleman" and Laser Tag did not receive as much attendance as hoped for. Hertz said Snow Ball attendance reached an estimated 100 to 300 students this year and 300 to 400 students at the Gong Show last year, but many are still skeptical to attend such events next year.
Many students don't feel the need to show up in the first place because they know no one else will be there. Freshman Daniel Stettner said, "It's like a cycle. No one goes in the first place, so people are like, 'Oh, no one's going so I'm just not going to go.'" If the only people who show up to these so-called fun events are the students working at the events and their own friends, there doesn't appear to be a point to even holding them. According to Sophomore Carlin Bowersox, the students who actually go to the activities only attend for the sake of "moral support of their friends working at the events." No one wants to go to a school-sponsored event and end up being the only person who shows up. Bowersox commented, "I wouldn't go [to the Winterpalooza activities] if I was just by myself."
Even the word "Winterpalooza" doesn't jolt students' memories, in some cases. Veluz said, "Nobody really tells you about [Winterpalooza]... It just kind of happens and you're like, 'what?!'" Banners, flyers, and signs are posted throughout the hallways. Announcements about upcoming events are also advertised on Good Morning Robinson. Senior Dylan Welter said, "I don't actually know most of the activities because I'm always doing homework during the morning announcements." If all of these reminders are circulating throughout the entire school and yet students tend to pass them by, there must be something wrong. It might be a sign that people are just not interested. Way to talk about wasted effort.
The biggest reason why students don't even bother attending the events is because of the need to attend to their own hectic lives. Junior Baha Elayan said, "I don't attend after school activities because that means I have to come back to school." Bowersox claimed people don't go because, "Everyone's busy with midterms and tests." Sophomore Tina Connor said, "No one goes to things [at school] on a Saturday night... It's a Saturday. People are out partying with their friends."
If the SGA is trying to cater towards the students when deciding these Winterpalooza activities, there is room for improvement there, as well. Welter said, "It seems like the SGA and administrators are the only ones choosing the events." Hertz said, "The [SGA officers] get in groups and decide on what they want to do... Usually, they [take ideas and] bounce them off their friends...The administration has final approval [of the activities]." According to freshman class Vice President Peter Yount, the upperclassmen in the SGA leadership class "have the most say" about what events occur for Winterpalooza. Bowersox said, "If we had a say in the SGA, it'd be better... What [the SGA] should do is pick a couple of [activities] and have the student population vote on what they want to do." Welter also agreed with the idea of a student poll. "If the SGA had a poll for Homecoming activities and Winterpalooza, we'd have cool activities," he said. In other words, the Student Government is supposed to serve the students and could improve on that duty by catering towards what their peers want to do.
The SGA appears to be slightly desperate to get the student body to lighten up a little and have some fun. In order to do that, they should rethink the events and ask the students what they would want to do. The hype of Homecoming week brings out the best in people, so how about holding something to the same effect? Freshman Arielle Tenorio suggests holding another carnival-style event, similar to Taste of Robinson. Bowersox enjoyed the pep rally during Homecoming and would want to do it again. Hertz agreed that "[The SGA] tries to get the same response as Homecoming week [and] be spirited about school," but also said, "This school has a lot of groups. It's hard to get everyone together [and] it's a challenge to have an event that brings everyone together."
If the SGA would kindly consider the opinions of the entire student body, perhaps there would be more variety in the activities. Surveys, polls, and written suggestions for activities would be a better alternative to just holding the annual activities no one bothers attending. After all, a fresh eye on things never hurts.