Cover Story
History repeats itself, but textbooks don't have to
AFH Photo // Cuong Huynh
We have all heard of “the most brilliant man” in American history: Thomas Jefferson. Perhaps because he was our president, wrote the Declaration of Independence, or because of his philosophical writings. There are also other names we don’t hear very often, or ever at all. There are men and women, who just like Jefferson, made a significant contribution to literature, history and society. Despite their hard work, they are ‘till this day, unacknowledged.  
Our history and humanities curriculum gives certain individuals in U.S. history more recognition than others. Roberta Logan, a member of The Boston Teacher Residency Program, and a coach for WriteBoston, offers one reason: “American history has a history of being Eurocentric; most historians have been white Americans.” This creates a message that the silenced and invisible are not as important. 
An example of such a person is Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American female poet. Her works focus on her perception of slavery and how her anomalous life, learning Latin and Greek under her master’s permission, led to her sophisticated writing skills. Instead of learning about women like her, or hearing an authentic perspective on slavery, we learn from the blunt writings of outdated textbooks that don't provide much insight. 
Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, but the light bulb cannot work without the filament. Lewis Latimer, an African-American inventor and draftsman,  invented the filament. Despite being born right here in Massachusetts, serving in the United States Navy for the Union during the Civil War and inventing a toilet system for railroad cars, we still do not learn about him. 
These individuals made significant contributions and deserve recognition. Students need to be exposed to a variety of meaningful and insightful works in all fields. While European history is important, learning the history of those often marginalized is equally as important. This is where we find cultural understanding of “outside” achievements that have gone unnoticed. Our student population is increasingly diverse. What is being done to make sure we see ourselves reflected in history too?  
Part of the problem is the over-reliance on textbooks in humanities classrooms. Darlene Franco, junior at the John D. O’Bryant High School, concludes, “textbook classes are easier because you are reading the material yourself,”  without being dependent on the teacher.  But, easier is not always better. Textbooks do not allow for intellectual conversations. They do not allow us to move beyond colorless and tedious facts and make meaning out of history.  
Not all of history can be put in one curriculum, but if frequent updates were made, we could get a glimpse into diverse cultural histories. That leaves the question, who is responsible for ensuring curriculums are updated? Both teachers and the Director of Curriculum and Instruction should regularly update our curriculums to reflect the diverse knowledge students need to fully understand the world.  
“Frequently, people say the victors get to tell the story and often that means they tell the story that reflects positively on their exploits… American history textbooks often support this assertion,” said Logan. “Many historians who are Hispanic, African-American or Asian, as well as Euro-Americans, have focused on expanding what is included in American history scholarship and teaching, but the trickle down to high school classrooms has often depended on the interest of the teachers and the mandates of the schools in which they teach.”  
Lying by omission is when one fails to correct pre-existing misconceptions. That is what our history and humanities curriculums have been doing. 
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AFH Photo // Nguyen, Mary
"Oooohhhhh and he's down with a hard tackle! Let's look at the replay. You can see their helmets collide during the tackle and they're both on the floor looking dazed. Looks like one of them may have a concussion.”  
A concussion, a brain injury caused by a blow to the head, "is very hard to spot actually. We like to call it the invisible injury," said Cliff Robbins, Education and Research Programs Manager of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, an organization committed to protecting athletes and families from concussions through research, policy and education. 
As you might imagine with an injury that you cannot see, only one in six concussions is ever diagnosed, according to the Concussion Legacy Foundation. 
Robbins explains, "When you knock your head around, [the brain] can kind of jiggle and change shape a little bit, and that can cause damage to the brain tissue, and when the damage is great enough, it changes the way that our brain functions." 
During teenage years, the brain goes through a lot of development. "If you have a brain injury during those really important years, the consequences may take years to become apparent," Robbins stated. In other words, if you get "trucked" freshmen year during a game, you may not know you suffered a concussion until senior year or even later in life.  
According to the Boston Globe, a survey of 6,000 public school students in Massachusetts found that among high school athletes, 14 percent had experienced concussion-like symptoms such as memory problems, blurry vision, headaches, or vomiting after being hit in the head while playing sports. The survey also found that 50 percent of student athletes who experienced concussion like symptoms kept playing afterward.  
While significant research about concussions has been released, many athletes do not fear the consequences. Tyler Medeiros, a sophomore on the football team at Cristo Rey Boston High school, said, “Yes, I would still play after an injury. I can come back stronger and improve the mistake I made to get that injury.”  
Medeiros knows there is always the possibility of sustaining an injury but says, “I feel protected with my gear because the helmets must be very fitted, so that they stay on your head and don’t turn on your face. My girdle and shoulder pads are heavily padded and strapped on.”  
Depending on the severity of the injury, students can miss weeks - maybe even months - of school in order to recover. This lost time can set them back in their academics as they struggle to either keep up or catch up. If left untreated, concussions can affect long-term memory, learning, motor control and speech.  
While student athletes are told helmets are their best protection, some helmet manufacturers carry a warning label stating that helmets cannot fully protect you from brain injuries. “To avoid these risks, do not engage in the sport of football,” reads the warning label on Shutt’s Sports brand helmets. These warnings may already be having an impact. ESPN has reported a decline in participation in youth football.  
“The medics rush to the field to check the players out. One of them is benched for the rest of the game until a doctor has a chance to fully diagnose him.”  
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AFH Photo // Nguyen, Adam
Your high school years are key in the physical, emotional and mental development of the human body. Participating in school sports is one way to ensure your exercise routine. That said, there are pros and cons for students who participate in school sports. While research has shown numerous benefits to being part of a sports team, students may also struggle with keeping their grades up.  
Research shows there are a lot of positive effects on students who play school sports. According to studies conducted by the University of Kansas, students who participate in sports tend to earn good grades -- good enough to apply to college.  Some benefits include increased concentration levels, higher self-esteem, and the ability to improvise when things do not go as planned. Star athletes have the chance to earn scholarships from colleges who want them to play them, which creates the opportunity for students to attend colleges they would not normally be able to afford.   
Rhodeley Orisma, a junior on the football team at New Mission High School, said, “Playing football boosts my self-esteem and helps me stay focused in class.” Orisma knows that he needs to maintain good grades to continue playing and potentially earn a scholarship to a football college.  
Darius Odon, a junior at New Mission who plays basketball, says being part of the basketball team makes him more social. “It helps me relate to students from other schools who also play basketball,” he said.  
New Mission girls’ basketball coach Mitchell Hercule says students who participate in sports are more confident and outgoing. “You are the same person on the court or on the field as in the classroom.’’ He feels that sports do not overshadow academics. In fact, he believes sports motivate students to get better grades.  
But a drawback to participating in high school sports can be difficulty balancing studying and playing time. Students may have insufficient time to study for tests and may have to miss class or assignments in order to catch up. Orisma said, “After practice, I have to make sure all my school work is done to keep up with class and get good grades. Sometimes it can be stressful because there is a criteria that a sport-engaged student cannot get below a C.”  Exhaustion can also impact school performance, as students put sports above their academics.  
Hercule also noted that sports can sometimes hurt a student’s self-esteem. “When they go for try outs and do not make it onto the team, they feel sad, thinking they cannot try again. It really affects them.’’
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AFH Photo // Vo, Vanessa
From trolleys to Ubers and breakfast to take out, countless commodities have been replaced in modern memory similar to the war that has preceded them. The priorities of the post-World War II population adapted over time in response to the changing face of America and technology. There is no question that as teens of the new millennium we have very different experiences and priorities than those of our post-World War II predecessors. In examining these differences, we can learn a great deal about our generation and theirs. 
The act of a sit-down breakfast is a prime example. With the fast-paced teenage-millennial schedule, breakfast is a luxury very few high school students can afford. Upon waking up, our top priority is to get out the door and make it to whatever plans we have on time. We do not prioritize breakfast in this day and age the way our predecessors did.  
“Breakfast is something only those who have their lives together can afford to enjoy,” says Noelis Tovar, a junior at the John D. O’Bryant High School. “For the rest of us, we have to dash out the door in fear of being late for school.” 
The heightened use of technology has shifted teenagers’ priorities. While this helps make our lives faster and more convenient, we also stray away from former ways of doing things. For instance, many of us now commute by Uber for their fast, cheap, and convenient mode of transport. Not so long ago, Boston commuters’ options were limited to trolleys and trains, confined with specific schedules.

Take out is another changing aspect of the millennial lifestyle. This could be attributed to more women entering the workforce who have less time available for cooking meals at home. Coupled with the rise of food delivery apps such as Grubhub and Eat24, teenagers find ordering take out more convenient.  
“When I come home from school, my parents are typically not home so I just order take out so I don’t take the risk and burn down the house. Plus, I desire the quick access to food that it gives me,” says Natalie Tran, a junior from the O’Bryant.  
For baby boomers, this was not the case. Take out was rare and going out for a meal or ordering from a restaurant was reserved for  special occasions. “The only time we’d [order take out] was on my birthday,” says Ms. Eacmen, a baby boomer teacher at the O’Bryant, “because on our birthdays we could order whatever we wanted and we would love it.” 
It is interesting how something we see as a casual everyday convenience was once regarded as a meal reserved for special occasions.  
All this goes to show the fine lines that sunder our two generations because of the way technology has changed the way we live. Even though the two generations have the tendency to prioritize different aspects of life, both generations have much to learn from one another.  
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School discipline tactics, such as suspensions and expulsions fuels the school-to-prison pipeline. According to the Dignity in Schools Campaign, a national coalition dedicated to dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, “Every year, 3.3 million students in the United States are suspended from school, causing them to miss critical learning time, as well as opportunities to grow and succeed.” 
National data proves that students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately suspended and more likely to be severely punished. This contributes to lower graduation rates.  
In response to these issues, the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) launched the Boston Student Rights app in 2015 to prevent unfair discipline. The app provides accurate, easily accessible information on student rights and responsibilities in Boston Public Schools - everything from cell phones and dress codes to discrimination policies. It even allows students to file reports when something goes wrong at school.  
It makes clear that in most cases schools must try alternative discipline or restorative justice before a suspension. It also lists examples of alternative punishments and restorative justice practices that can be used. There have been close to 10,000 visitors to the site since its launch and at least one student has used the app to successfully appeal an unfair suspension.  
If you have an Android device you can download the app from Google Play. You can access it from other devices by going to From there you can add it to your bookmarks or set it as your home page. BSAC is looking forward to more students finding out about the app and downloading it. The app is also available in Spanish and we are hoping to roll out additional languages. We are also planning to add additional information pertaining to LGBTQ and undocumented students. 
In some high schools, the administration may not be aware of the current policies and make students suffer consequences they don’t deserve to face.  This app is one way to prevent this from happening throughout BPS.  
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