Op-Ed Contest: Semi-Finalists

(Sorted by last name)

The World Is Going To Die: How To Fix That

By Obioma Aguwa (‘25)

Shrinking glaciers. Dying animals. Global warming. These are the effects of climate change, along with so much more. For years we have argued saying this nightmare is true, but the people in power and the doubters fail to realize and shun us away. Droughts. More natural hazards. Our water someday, gone. This will be our future if we don’t help stop this now. You and everyone else would hate to see the planet they call home be gone in years to come. I hope to tell you the effects of climate change and how and why you should act fast right now.

We all have heard of global warming but what is it actually? Global warming is one of the many multiple problems from climate change. Our rising temperatures are causing bigger problems than just dripping ice cream in a cone. Climate change causes severe temperature changes, known as global warming. The gases we produce trap the sun’s heat which stops it from releasing into space and causes global warming. This extreme heat that has begun to terrorize our Earth has already caused issues. Extreme heat has caused more deaths in America, on average, than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and lightning combined. 

Climate change is also trying to endanger one of our most crucial things we need to survive, which is our water. Temperatures are getting higher which is causing more and bigger evaporation. In turn, this takes our water supply with it and more water vapor in the atmosphere which causes for dangerous and more rain in the coming years. This can also lead to floods because of the intense precipitation, which would endanger our lives, kill our crops, and damage the economy. More intense flooding can also cause what’s known as surface runoff which is the water that rises above the ground. This rain that comes over the ground can pick up things like dirt and pollutants which they drag back into the ocean with them to our oceans, killing the animals that reside.

People won’t try and help because they think this isn’t true. This doesn’t have to be like this. We don’t have to wake up someday on a lifeless rock or rotting away. We can save this planet. We have to do all we can. In about 2100 scientists believe that the world will reach an average temperature eight degrees higher. 

We caused this but we can also change this.

Reducing the amount of energy that we release into the universe, like our cars and factories can help make the air healthier. Even starting out small like recycling is enough to make somewhat of a change. And use your voice. You can use the power that has been given to you through your voice. Advocating for funds to stop climate change and telling more people about it can change the world. Change the world for you and the future generations. We have the awareness and the power to change the world, so let’s start today.

A call to action, an olympic argument

By Jude Andrews (‘25)

The week is upon us. With the IA olympics but a mere amount of days away, the school is buzzing with excitement, and while the pushed importance surrounding the event is unity, many of the students are at odds with each other. With the previous drama regarding the freshman’s team change, you’d think that the school has stirred enough drama regarding this subject, but with this just in… things are about to escalate exponentially.

The problem to be regarded at this moment is the overuse of sith-bias advertisements being placed about the school recently. While it may seem lighthearted in theory, these postings have gone too far. With many students saying they embody a communistic formatting, the opposing teams have to retaliate.

My principal concern with this problem is that the seniors (the sith) have too much of an advantage to be advertising their wretched empire. The fact is that they are the most comfortable at this school, and they have the most understanding of the games. With this in mind, by posting this brainwash, they have crossed the line. To undermine the future is foolish and overly conceited. While this is the main concern I have with the problem at hand, I feel that they have tried to scare us into submission with this barbaric 19th century-styled propaganda. Everybody already knows that throughout the history of the IA olympics, the seniors have always come out on top of the dogpile. With this increased amount of reminder that they have won ten to one in past years, they believe that we are weak, and that their possibility to win is absolute.

 I suggest that the teams-in-turn post their own sorts of so-called “flyers”, and take the advantage away from these cretins. They have underestimated us, and mocked us with their industrialized propaganda, but by choosing to show that we are not scared, we can show them how we like to play our Olympic games.

So join the cause, and become a symbol. A symbol that despite all odds, we actually have a chance. Whether you subside with the Wookies, Mandolorians or the Jedi, join us to overthrow this power-hungry beast. With the Olympics being cancelled the previous years, this is our best shot to beat them at their own game.

Become a rebel. And be the part of the spark that will ignite the flame.

Join the rebel alliance.

Modern Beauty Standards are Toxic and Unrealistic

By Natalie Chen (‘25)

Beauty standards have always existed. Back in Ancient China, a petite body was considered the most beautiful, and the practice of foot binding to make women’s feet smaller was widely popular, with the practice demolishing thousands of years later in 1912. During the Victorian Era, a plumper build was ideal. Jumping to the 1960s and beyond, the slim build became the beauty standard, and it has not changed since. This body shape has been adopted as a beauty standard for the entire world, as many countries were heavily influenced by Western likings. 

The western beauty standard is simple. Flawless, pale skin, full lips, big eyes, and a thin body. This may seem simple to achieve, but it really isn’t. Many women will go to the extremes to obtain this perfect body, such as eating disorders and cosmetic surgery. Modern plastic surgery was created circa 1970. Celebrities like Marilyn Monroe went through operations such as chin augmentation and facelifts. Essentially, these celebrities were considered the most beautiful of their time, so it is no surprise that women would want similar facial features. Other surgeries like breast enlargement and butt lift were also publicized, and remain the highest demanded surgeries. 

Eating Disorders and Mental Illness

Beauty standards can result in mental illness and eating disorders. If you aren’t born with a naturally smaller body or fast metabolism, attaining the ideal Western body is tricky. Eating less may seem like a solution, right? Yes, it is true, eating less does result in weight loss. The healthy way to do it is through a “calorie deficit,” which requires dropping around 300 calories away from your daily eating habits. Unfortunately, many will starve themselves to the point where they need medical attention. The most infamous eating/mental disorders include anorexia nervosa, binge eating, and bulimia. These are especially reoccurring in teen girls, who are not developed enough to know the health risks of eating disorders. According to the Eating Recovery Center, “Karen Carpenter died of heart failure — likely linked to anorexia — increasing awareness of eating disorders in the public eye.” Yes, these toxic beauty standards can lead to death. 

The Impact of Social Media

Social media is more popular in our current generation than ever before. In the 90s, teen girls saw their idols on TV, while girls in this era are able to simply go on their phones and see the most famous people of their day. It’s much easier to see people from all over the world. There are billions of accounts on platforms such as Tiktok and Instagram, with a fraction of them being celebrities and influencers. These people constantly pop up on people’s feeds, where they become viral, are given compliments to, and sometimes even sexualized. Women feel as if they need to look beautiful in order to gain acceptance into society. It’s absolutely ludicrous that beauty is so relevant in today’s age. Celebrities such as the Kardashian family promote an unhealthy body image that is almost impossible to achieve naturally. They have access to the best plastic surgeon and nutritionists. Plus, much of their media is heavily photoshopped. The idea they put out can put girls at risk if they attempt dangerous things to look like them. It’s unfair to many that due to genetics, they may never achieve the body they want. The world needs to understand that we must spread body positivity and self-love. 

Many beauty trends are also created on social media. A new trend called “The Fox Eye” has been circulating around Tiktok. This trend consists of using a dark liner to make your eyes appear smaller and more “foxy.” 

This is a slap in the face to many Asians, who have always been made fun of for their smaller eyes. “Once trends are set, people follow. Whether it be models, TikTok stars, or even my peers, I kept seeing people pulling their eyes back in pictures and doing their makeup to narrow the shape of their eyes. And people doing it were predominantly those who fit Eurocentric beauty standards.” Mimi Peng says in an article from Issuu. As a fellow Asian myself, this trend, along with many others, seemed particularly hypocritical. I was constantly demeaned for having the monolid eye shape that was common in Asians. The taunts of “Can she still see?” or “Ching chong” were endless.

To conclude, beauty standards should not have such a large influence on teen girls. Let us embrace unique features of different races, and love our own bodies.

What Is The Best Clash Royale Card?

By Zane Dahabra (‘25)

This question is by all accounts not very important to modern society, and yet I see this question asked so many times, but with varying responses. I see people playing and enjoying this game on a daily basis, on Youtube, at school, and even I play it once in a while. In my personal opinion and the opinion of those around me, I believe The Log is the best clash royale card for the reasons that it completely removes swarm cards from the map, including goblins and goblin barrels, two cards very predominant in the meta right now, for their chip damage, It pushes back every single ground card in the game, including powerful forces like the Electro-Giant and the Golem, and it has one of the most cheap elixir costs in the game, at just 2 elixir! For these reasons and more, I believe that the Log is the best clash royale card. 

When determining the best card in the game, there are a few factors to consider, one of those being elixir cost. In this factor, Log sweeps over 90 cards in the game. Being at only 2 elixir, this makes this card one of the lowest elixir cards in the game, only beaten out by the 4 spirits, skeletons, and that’s it! This card has the force of a fireball, can one shot swarmies including goblins, and does so much more for less than any other card in the race, for only 2 elixir! This combined with the fact that it can be used to damage the tower as well with the same force as a pack of minions, makes me consider it to be the best clash royale card.

Alongside being the 6th lowest elixir card in the game, it can one shot goblin barrels. Now, that might not seem like a big deal, until you see the actual range of cards it can one shot, mainly cards that would need to be taken down with a higher elixir card like valkyrie or wizard. These include Skeletons, a card that can be very difficult to deal with if used right, same with goblins and spear goblins, alongside with the entire skeleton army and goblin gang, all the spirits including the new heal spirits and electro spirits, and wall breakers. Do I even need to continue? This card has so much versatility when it comes to how you can use it, and everything it counters will have you rambling on for a very long time if you want to list them all.

The last reason I would consider the Log to be the best card in Clash Royale is for its unique knockback ability shared with it and no one else. Any ground troop, including the high health powerhouses like Electro-Giant and Golem still get knocked back by this force of a card. Even The P.e.k.k.a.,  with its heavy and expensive armor, cannot stand its ground against this card. The two princes, the Prince and the Dark Prince, get their charges interrupted by this card for only two elixir, something that an Electro Wizard would have to do for 4, something that a meta card like the Valkyrie cannot do at all! 

All the reasons I have listed above combined with the fact that its range is not limited like the Zap and Arrows cards are, for it travels in a straight line from the bridge all the way to the princess tower, make me conclude that the Log is the best and most viable in any meta card in the whole game of Clash Royale.

Colombian coffee is the best tasting kind of coffee when compared to other varieties. There are quite a few reasons why this is true.

By Sebastian Hernandez (‘25)

One reason Colombian coffee tastes the best is because of where it is grown. Colombian coffee is grown through very different methods compared to other countries. Colombian coffee is grown on high, steep, fertile slopes. Other coffees such as Brazilian coffees and Madagascar grown coffees might seem to have similar growing methods, but they remain highly different. Brazilian coffee is grown on large swathes of burnt jungles. This means that it also has another downside- it is by no means eco-friendly. Madagascar coffee varieties, on the other hand, are grown on all varieties of terrain. However, this means its flavor is halfway between Brazilian and  Colombian coffees. Good-by all means, but not the best. 

Another major reason Colombian coffee tastes the best is because of the ways Colombian coffee is dried and de-pulped in comparison to Brazilian coffee. Brazilian coffee is industrialized, making it so the fruits are rapidly processed, at the steep cost of flavor, leaving the coffee bitter and tasteless. Madagascar coffee is also processed in similar, hyper-efficient ways. Colombian coffee is dried and pulped very differently as well. Colombian coffees are primarily washed and dried in time-tested ways that were never so efficient, but leave the coffee tasting better. It is washed in large bins and the drying process is done manually by rolling a large roof over the beans.

Colombian coffee is also produced in a more eco-friendly manner. Colombian coffee is grown with many ecological restrictions, and additionally, the growers keep their plots forested as much as possible because the coffee requires slight shade. Brazilian coffee, on the contrary, is very damaging to the environment. Brazilian coffee is grown on the backs of burnt jungles and heavy industrialization. Madagascar coffee is grown in a similar way to Brazilian coffee, but it doesn’t burn as many forests. However, it kills the wildlife that may threaten its coffee

Another reason Colombian coffee is better is due to economic reasons. Colombian coffee plantations employ displaced Venezuelan migrant workers that have nowhere to go. They are employed with proper wages and benefits. Brazilian and Madagascar coffee plantations, on the other hand, are all worked by workers that are practically wage-slaves to their employers who only see a profit.

Overall, Colombian coffee tastes better than the other varieties of coffee for multiple reasons. The main offender is Brazilian coffee because it’s the most common and is the worst to the environment and the workers.

Evolving the World Starts with Eating Natural

By Vennela Manepalli (‘25)

Throughout history, there have been many food scandals that have occurred. One of the most frequent types is food adulteration. The official definition – as stated in the Merriam Webster dictionary – for the verb adulterate is “to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance or element.” There have been many people switching over to an organic lifestyle but it’s not enough. Food adulteration is a paramount crisis that needs to be more widely acknowledged.

There are many reasons why food adulteration needs to be stopped. To begin, when companies adulterate food, they are lying to their consumers. If we can’t trust companies to even list the right ingredients, how can we trust them about other claims? For example, honey is an adulterated food. If you’ve ever bought honey with a label that claimed to be “pure” or a “100% honey” and it had an expiration date, that company is lying to you. Honey is the only food that doesn’t have an expiration date. Another reason that all food needs to become organic and uncontaminated is because diluted food ruins our body slowly. One long-term effect is organ failure. A consistent consumption of tainted food and/or drinks can lead to heart failure, kidney defection, and many more. This would count as a chronic disease and cause complications for the rest of one’s life. Not only can degrading food lead to incurable diseases, but it can also lead to abrupt death. If someone consumes the wrong poisoned food, they could find themselves deceased in a few hours. A World Health Organization statistic shows that 420,000 people die of food poisoning every year. That means that every 1 person in 200 people dies of food poisoning. This may seem like a very low percentage but if you think about it, an average high school has about 800 students. Imagine knowing four people at your school passed away because of a simple problem that could be avoided easily. This is a very grave and pressing matter that should be resolved as soon as possible. 

Food adulteration is a global predicament that needs to be remedied as soon as possible. We cannot continue to live in a world where we are blighting our nourishment. The first step to progressing intellectually and technologically is by making sure our bodies can prolong enough for us to achieve our goals. If we begin to eat only organic products and purify ourselves from the roots, I know everyone can extend the range of accomplishment. Let’s all take the first stride down the path to non-blemished lives and an enhanced world because we’re the only ones to protect ourselves and the wonderful planet we live on.

Cancel Homework

By Jackson Otlewski (‘25)

Have you ever been frustrated about a big homework assignment you have to get done, when you could be out having fun with your friends? Well, researchers have recently discovered that homework may be bad for you. Homework, which many people believe is good, can cause many problems for students. Homework leads to greater stress, causes physical issues, and leaves less time for important extracurricular activities. 

The primary adverse effect of homework is stress. According to Healthline.com, “That study, which appeared in Frontiers in Psychology, noted serious health effects for high schoolers, such as chronic stress, emotional exhaustion, and alcohol and drug use.” The stress of homework is taking a toll on students’ emotional and mental health. Healthline also reports, “In the Stanford study, many students said that they often did homework they saw as ‘pointless’ or ‘mindless.’ Pope, who co-authored that study, argued that homework assignments should have a purpose and benefit, and should be designed to cultivate learning and development.” Homework, originally intended to help students learn, is often now just for schools to look like they are teaching their students well. Clearly, homework has a lot of very negative emotional effects on students. 

Second, homework impacts the physical health of students. Healthline.com reports, “The researchers asked students whether they experienced physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems. More than 80 percent of students reported having at least one stress-related symptom in the past month, and 44 percent said they had experienced three or more symptoms.” The study emphasizes the toll homework takes on the health of students. To add to that, CNN states, “Excessive homework can also result in poor eating habits, with families choosing fast food as a faster alternative.” This could put students at risk of obesity. This evidence shows that homework is detrimental to the physical health of students. 

Finally, homework can create an unhealthy imbalance in students’ lives. As stated by Gateway High School, “Balancing schoolwork and a healthy lifestyle can be tricky, especially if the student is also working part-time. Spending too much time on homework can lead to not meeting other physical and social needs, like staying active and interacting with peers.” This can lead to students having social problems, which may affect their mental health. Gateway also says, “In other words, students are more likely to give up extracurricular activities, spend less time with friends and family, and stop pursuing their hobbies.” Students who give up things they enjoy to make time for homework could become depressed. Overall, homework can negatively affect the social balance in the lives of students. 

Homework can be very stressful, but with the right support from parents and teachers, it doesn’t have to be. Setting aside time in class for students to complete homework and teaching students skills like time management are helpful solutions. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, students were learning at home for a long period of time. As the world tries to get back to normal, it is important for educators to recognize that students need to ease back into their schoolwork. Overwhelming students with hours of homework should not be the priority. Instead, teachers should focus on helping students learn more in class to slowly recover from the loss of learning that came from the state of the world over the past years.

The Fine Line Between Free Speech, and Murder

By Fernanda Salmon (‘25)

Free Speech. The right to say and express your beliefs and opinions. Protected by the first amendment in the bill of rights. Believed by many to be the important protection it assures. Free speech. It is what allows people to rally, campaign, and protest for things they believe, and things they disagree with. Free speech. The one responsible for women earning the right to vote in 1918. Free Speech. What allowed hundreds of individuals to gather and protest until gay marriage was legalized in all 50 states in 2015. Free Speech. The one that changed the lives of 100’s of people for the better. Free Speech. One of the main defenses used in Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial after he started an insurrection that ended in the deaths of five people. Free Speech. What kept several talk-radio hosts in Rwanda on air from 1993-1994 as they called for bloodshed that later led to genocide. Free Speech. Caused the New York court of appeals to invalidate Albany county’s law against cyberbullying and has prevented several other laws on the issue from being implemented.

In our modern-day, we are surrounded by media, the internet, and information. We have the liberty of being able to put any question into a search bar and receive the answer within seconds, of being able to share our opinion on any subject, and with a simple press of a button give it the ability to be seen by anyone. This ability gives birth to a wide range of opportunities. Some of them are beautiful, from being able to share your child’s first steps, or giving a small business the platform it needs to grow. However, it also gives a space for internet trolls and opportunists to have their voices heard. The internet has become a home base for the spread of misinformation and extremist views.  As we continue into the 21st century, we have seen several examples of angry, resentful words written on a page become bloodshed and death in the real world. Cyberbullying and suicide are just one example that completely reflects this statement. People who have been cyberbullied are 2 times more likely to commit suicide. Since 2007, the amount of people who have been cyberbullied has more than doubled. Similarly, suicide attempts and ideation have also doubled. The worst part of it all being that a law can’t be implemented to further punish the aggressor because of the conflicts that arise with freedom of speech. It’s not harmless words on a page or simply letting your beliefs be known when they can determine if someone lives or dies. In my mind, there is no doubt that we will continue down this path unless further action is taken to assure that someone’s right to free speech does not impact someone else’s right to live.   

The purpose of this op-ed is not to call into question the right to free speech. Free speech has helped better the lives of many for the better and should continue for years to come. However, it is a call for change. Free Speech is a wide platform full of opportunities and hope, however, like in any good platform, railing is needed to ensure one doesn’t fall off. As a society we need to invoke change, use our right to free speech, to ensure that there are limits to what one can say without repercussion. Just because they were not the ones to do it, does not mean they should not be held accountable.

Gun Control

By Sanjith Sambath (‘25)

For over 200 years, the United States has maintained a steady policy on gun policy. The right to bear arms has been a stable rule in the US since our founding and has been fundamental freedom for millions. But, as always, times change, and our current gun control laws just don’t work anymore.

The United States houses around 393 million guns or around 120 per 100 people. In the year 2020 alone, gun violence killed nearly 20,000 Americans, more than any other year in at least two decades. An additional 24,000 people died in that year alone from suicide with a firearm. The worst part is, all of these deaths can undoubtedly be prevented. 

One common counterargument to increased gun control laws is that increased guns would make society safer. The opposite is the case. Emma Fridel, an assistant professor at Florida State University, measured the effects of gun ownership rates and concealed-carry laws in all 50 states from 1991 to 2016. Through this experiment, it was found that looser gun laws did almost nothing to decrease the state’s mass shooting rate, and increased the state’s homicide likelihood by almost 12%. Higher rates of firearm ownership overall were also associated with a 53.5% increase in the likelihood of a mass shooting. As the evidence shows, increasing the number of guns in society without a doubt decreases the safety of the area, and does not protect the citizens. 

Another way the United States could help decrease the number of deaths nationwide from guns would be by initiating more background checks when a citizen wishes to purchase a gun. Even though almost 90% of Americans believe there should be background checks to regulate the sale of firearms, about 60% of all gun sales in America take place without any background check whatsoever, and 40% of gun sales occur under private sales with “no questions asked.” By adding more psychological and criminal background checks to the process of buying a gun, events like the Sandy Hook Massacre or the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting, all caused by individuals who displayed signs of mental illness or connections with criminals, would not have happened. By keeping guns away from dangerous or unstable individuals, we can drastically decrease the number of firearm deaths nationwide. 

In conclusion, having gun control is an essential part of creating a safer society. By having stricter gun control laws, initiating more background checks, and keeping guns away from dangerous individuals, we can start creating a safer country, one where people won’t think of guns to protect themselves.

The New Texas Law On Abortion – Woman’s Rights And Choice Over Their Bodies Being Taken Away

By Cristina Tet (‘25)

Women’s March to protest Texas abortion law in mass mobilization events – Axios

Our bodies, our choice. Constantly, society tries to take that choice away from us, but I never thought in a million years that the government would have the audacity. The United States of America, a country supposedly centered around constitutional rights for the people, has recently made the decision to take away those very rights and I find nothing about this irony humorous. On May 19th, the Texas Heartbeat Act was enacted, an act of the Texas Legislature that states that after about six weeks of pregnancy most abortions are banned, and on September 1st, the law finally came into effect. That day, thousands of women in the state of Texas lost their rights and choice over their bodies and are suffering because of the government that is apparently blind to all the evidence right under its nose proving just how unjust this law is. In 1973, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Roe V. Wade state, recognizing abortion as a constitutional right for all women. Even President Biden has said in a statement how this law “blatantly violates” that constitutional right. The new law states that doctors can not perform an abortion if cardiac activity is detechable. That’s around just six weeks into pregnancy, which is before most women are even aware that they are pregnant, making it one of the most restrictive abortion laws. It is almost as if this law was created with that in mind, just so it would be impossible for woman to get an abortion in time. The lasting impacts this can have on a woman’s life are detrimental. Alan Braid, a physician who provides abortion care in San Antonino, shares why many woman come to him to get an abortion. “They’re finishing school or they already have three children, they’re in an abusive relationship, or it’s just not time. A majority are mothers. Most are between 18 and 30. Many are struggling financially — more than half qualify for some form of financial aid from us. Several times a month, a woman confides that she is having the abortion because she has been raped. Sometimes, she reports it to the police; more often, she doesn’t.” This law makes no exception for rape and incest,  and it has no consideration for aspects of people’s lives that they have no control of. Women should have the right to make a decision on something that can have such a great impact on the trajectory of their life. How did this law even come into effect if it is so unconstitutional? Well, the groups against abortion rights were able put together the very few braincells they have and came up with a scheme that they knew would be hard to fight in federal court. Instead of requiring law officials to enforce the law, this law allows private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a person get an abortion in any way; an uber driver could be sued for driving a woman to the clinic. Usually, a lawsuit against an unconstitutional law would have the state officials as defendants, however, because the law is completely centered around individuals enforcing it, it rids the state from any responsibility in this situation. Justice Sonia Sotomayor sums it up perfectly, “Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.” I can not imagine the fear and uncertainty that so many women in the state of Texas are experiencing right now knowing that their government is not backing up their right to make choices over their own bodies. I can only hope that our fight for justice prevails and that the future brings good news regarding this subject. Our bodies, our temples, belong to none other than ourselves, and what we decide to do is no one’s decision but our own and we will not back down until this is understood. 

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