Many thanks to Mrs. Asher and her dual Enrollment Writing Class at Cienega High School who wrote Letters to the Editor in November and December. Hats off to you for discussing challenging topics with civility. Any students are welcome to do the same. – Publisher

Dear Editor,

A new epidemic is spreading throughout our communities — and it is not another strain of COVID-19. Children are causing chaos in our neighborhoods, and nothing seems to be stopping them.

In Sierra Morado, a child had his arm broken by a group of bullies, and even though they were identified by the victim, they faced no real consequences. Such children appear to have no real fear of getting caught, and neither do their parents.
The pool in the same neighborhood has routinely had to replace their locks and doors because people have broken in after hours just to swim. It has been a thing for decades now, but kids still play “ding-dong-ditch”, harassing their neighbors late into the nights, with no regards for how late it is.

“Let kids be kids and go out to play” is what parents often argue. I wholeheartedly agree with such beliefs, but it is crossing the line when their “play” endangers other people or property. This is why I believe further consequences should be put in place for these events, which is plausible in such neighborhoods, as they have HOAs.

More funding should be allotted to purchase cameras throughout the neighborhood, and homeowners should also be encouraged to share any footage they collect on their cameras with the HOA board. If children — or anyone for that matter — is found to be causing harm and disrupting the peaceful community, there would be consequences.

Fines could be set in place for routine disruptions, and having video surveillance could help victims such as the young boy with the broken arm seek justice. By having real repercussions for such actions, parents are more likely to properly ensure their children are not contributing to the problem.

We all want a safe and welcoming environment for our families to peacefully live in, and this is only possible if we establish that we have had enough. We must start working together to solve these disturbances, and only then can everyone rest peacefully at night.

Leah Harroun
Cienega High School Student

Dear Editor,

I believe that there should be stricter gun laws but at the same time, a person who is eligible to get a gun should still be able to obtain one.

Currently, many states across the nation use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System which has three days to complete a background check. Sometimes this can be completed in minutes, but other times there could be discrepancies where a person would need to be investigated further. That is where the three days come in, but if their investigation is not completed within the three days the purchase can be done without the completed background check. The shooter of the Charleston Church tragedy in 2015, Dylann Roof, was able to obtain a gun through this loophole. Since its discovery, the FBI flags thousands of “Charleston Loophole Cases” yearly. There is already a bill that is trying to be passed that would extend the three-day investigation period to ten days which would be an effective way to eradicate this flaw in the system.

In addition to the Charleston loophole, a person who is barred from owning a gun is able to obtain one by purchasing online or buying at a gun show. More specifically, at a gun show, all licensed vendors must conduct background checks while those who do not need a license to sell are not required to run background checks. The same thing applies to online sales of firearms, the vendor is not required to run background checks if they are not selling commercially. Also if the gun is bought by a person from another state then the gun would be shipped to a Federally Licensed Firearms dealer and a background check would need to be conducted, regardless of who the seller was. Still, a person who is barred from owning a gun can purchase a firearm if they know where to look. Requiring background checks on all firearm purchases could greatly reduce the number of firearms that are going to the wrong people.

While these won’t end gun violence I think it can greatly reduce it.

Aaliah Bautista
Cienega High School Student

Dear Editor,

Test after test after test. Each day students are faced with the hardships and expectations to perform well on all of their tests. Students already have too much pressure upon them and there is no need to add on to the stress. These standardized tests are devastating students’ mental health in schools worldwide. Why do schools force students to complete so many of these tests? And why do our scores have to define us?

As a student myself, I have significantly experienced the harmful effects of standardized testing. Throughout my years of school, I have never been a good test taker. After getting the results, I always feel discouraged and disappointed. This completely shatters my confidence. I have always been a straight A student, but taking tests was my biggest weakness. I dreaded the days when the state testing and school wide testing came around because it greatly impacted my mental health. Teachers, parents, and other students use our scores as a personality trait. Good students get good scores and bad students get bad scores. Although, this is nowhere near true. Standardized tests are limiting the abilities of students and can become an obstacle in the way of our success.

As a result, our confidence has declined because we are not able to succeed especially when labeling is promoted with results. Author Bryan Nixon from Whitby suggests, “…instead of determining the entire picture of learning through a review of all assessment data with their teachers, a student might determine their success based on a standardized test score that is taken once a year,” (Nixon, 7). With standardized testing, both teachers and parents use the data to determine how much the students have learned. However, this once a year test does not show the whole picture and does not account for those poor test-takers and those who are just having a bad day. Why do our districts depend so heavily on standardized tests? Is it just to get the recognition because the overall averages are good to show off? That is not how students should feel.

I believe that standardized testing is understandable to keep within school districts, however the negative stigma should be abolished. Labeling students off of their scores is not morally right, it affects mental health, and diminishes confidence. Lowering dependency will significantly help students flourish and become successful in their academic ventures.

Katherine Douglas
Cienega High School Student

Dear Editor,

Over two-thirds of victims of domestic violence reports that the perpetrator had been drinking alcohol prior to the incident. Yes, alcohol may not be the sole cause, but it definitely is connected to domestic violence. Alcohol also affects the children of the future generation. For example, Kids with alcoholic parents may be 4 to 6 times more likely to develop alcoholic tendencies.

These are the kids of the future we need to protect and nurture them not improve their chances for alcoholism. Alcohol isn’t just affecting future generations, it’s killing people daily. Alcohol-related deaths per day are 261. That is about 95,000 deaths per year, almost a million deaths a century. It is a leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.

Drunk driving alone causes more than 10,000 deaths every year, about 1/3 of all traffic-related deaths. It doesn’t just affect people, it also affects things like the economy and society. In society, alcohol is causing people to skip work more and slow down productivity. An estimated 30% of absenteeism may be due to alcohol and 10% of productivity losses are attributed to alcohol. Alcoholism is also affecting the United States economy.

In 2010 the cost for excessive alcohol use was 249 Billion dollars or 2.05 dollars per drink. 77% of those costs were from excessive drinking in a single sitting and for every 5 dollars, 2 dollars of that is paid by the federal, state, and local governments. These reasons are why we should be putting stricter laws in place that will stop the over-consumption of alcohol. If we put laws that will make it harder to over-consume alcohol, it will solve or improve many of the problems just stated. I have also experienced alcoholism at its finest. I had an alcoholic father that would be very irrational, like slamming his fists against things or punching holes in the walls.

I remember it being fun at times, but at the snap of the fingers it would turn very scary and me and my siblings would go hide or go to sleep. Enacting laws like, lessening the number of alcoholic beverages per month for each person or having breathalyzers in each car. These laws are the key to a better future and society for your children and their families.

Joshua Ortega
Cienega High School Student

Dear Editor,

Since 1993 the Vail school district has had extra funding in addition to the funding provided by the state. Every 5 years the Vail community votes on whether or not to continue the extra funding via Proposition 487. Without this extra funding certain programs and teacher salaries would be reduced. Rated as an A+ school district and one of the best school districts in not only Tucson but also the state, Vail school district relies on this additional funding to maintain its excellence and success. The time has come again for voting on Proposition 487. Why should this additional funding continue? In order to maintain the exceptional schools, talented teachers, and inspiring and necessary programs of the Vail school district Proposition 487 must pass. The reasons for supporting Proposition 487 extend far beyond the success of students.

The Vail School District Governing Board has reiterated the importance of this funding override as they stated, “Vail’s children have benefited. The Vail community has benefited. The attractiveness of our community and the values of our homes have been enhanced.” As the board points out this override is representative of what is valued in our community and will define this community as it moves forward. The board also reminds us that, “Outstanding teachers are at the heart of the district’s success.” Losing the override funding will result in the loss of over 125 teachers, which will in fact diminish not only the student’s success but also the communities core values.

To further reinforce this point Brad Anderson, President of the Greater Vail Area Chamber of Commerce, has stated, “The Vail School District is a shining star among all schools in the state and has demonstrated numerous times that when a community has a strong, well-funded school district, the entire population benefits…Because of this, our community is growing at an impressive rate. This growth provides for a strong economy and a dynamic workforce for businesses, not only in Vail, but in the entire southern Pima County Area.” By passing Proposition 487 the growth and strong economy the Vail area enjoys will continue benefiting once again everyone, not just the students.

Many in the Vail community who do not have children in the school system support this override. Grandparents, retirees, and business owners have all voiced their support of the Proposition. Some feel it is a way to pay if forward from the benefits that they received as students themselves or their children benefited from in the Vail school district years ago. They understand that it takes the community as a whole to have a successful school district. As Mary Ann Cleveland put it, “Now it’s my turn to help the younger generation. Hopefully, every member of our community will join this effort to give every child the best education to become contributing members in our society.” It brings real meaning to the well-known concept that it takes a village to raise a child. The Vail village has done an exceptional job at this for the past 28 years and the whole village has reaped the benefits.

“I see first hand the commitment of teachers and staff as Vail Preservation Society has worked with them to provide unique local history-based student experiential learning,” commented J.J. Lamb, President of the Vail Preservation Society. This is yet another example of the influence and impact the outstanding programs of the Vail School District has on more than just the students. These programs open doors to bridge the gap between generations and unifies a
community through unique experiences. These opportunities would be drastically reduced if not completely eliminated without the funding provided by the override.

It comes down to the question, can the Vail community afford not to pass Proposition 487? The success of the next generation is dependent on it, but so is the success of the Vail community. The continuation of development and growth, the strong economy, the thriving businesses, and the unification of the Vail population all require the passing of Proposition 487 to continue. As the local business owner of PB Trading Company, Inc. says, “One of the reasons for the Vail growth is our quality education and we are proud of it. In order to continue and expand that success we must provide the best educational opportunities possible.” On November 2 voting “yes” to Proposition 487 is voting for the Vail community to continue on its path of success.

Ethan Stoker
Cienega High School Student

Dear Editor,

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has evidently had a huge impact on every part of the world. In which this disease has maintained its existence for almost 3 years now. Although this disease has only been apparent to the people of the United States at the beginning of 2020. The outcome of its existence has affected the United States no less than the rest of the world. The emergency pandemic from all over the world calls for action in an instance. This conflict will not be left untreated. As with the power of technology, the introduction of methods to defend the body from COVID-19 can be acquired. This technology is widely known today, the power of vaccines.

As society has seen today, vaccines are a huge part of society. There are countless diseases that many people today do not have to worry about or even think about. A number of the diseases were once known to be very deadly. But with vaccines, the danger of these diseases has diminished significantly. The reasoning behind this is apparent, vaccines are probably the biggest reason for this new mindset. With vaccines, people are able to easily acquire immunity, without actually having to become sick with the virus. In addition, over 90 percent of diseases are preventable through vaccines. Yet people still choose not to get them, however, there are some outliers for this opposition. Such as religion and conditions with the body. But others who just choose not to are putting themselves and others at significant risk for disease. Especially today during a pandemic where everyone is at risk of the covid-19 virus. Although the United States has taken major steps back to normalcy with new treatments and vaccination. This is certainly not enough to fully recover from the wounds of COVID-19. Which calls for action, and this action is for vaccines to be given to everyone.

The power of vaccines should not be ignored.

Ethan Pham
Cienega High School Student

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