Happy holidays to our readers. We are this week’s editors of Sophomores Speak Out, and we have an interesting range of topics for you. We worked on a unit in class about Israeli and Palestinian peace, and you will be able to read the opinions of a few selected sophomores about that situation. We also have pieces written about teenage drama, history, the meaning of history and the crucial budget issue at the high school. We hope you can read over and appreciate the voices of the sophomores of Dr. W’s global history class at the high school. Peace on earth to all. Let it snow!

— Anna Hayes and Vicky Segal

This Whole Budget Issue

By Michael Kendall>

I know a lot has already been written concerning the recent budget issue at the high school, mainly centering on the music department and the apparent need to cut one of the music teachers, while also cutting the drama teacher’s classes down to three fifths or something of the sort. I can understand why the budget might need to change yearly, but why cut some of the most loved teachers at the school? From the budgetary packet they handed out at the meeting on Nov. 28, it looks like there has to be some place where $80,000 can come out of the budget. The proposed budget for the 2008-2009 school year comes to over $16 million; $80,000 is a small percentage of that. Next year it’s proposed that $7,000 will go to advertising. Advertising for what? Along with the proposed cuts, classes will also be cut. According to the Vineyard Gazette story, guitar, piano and voice classes won’t run next year. I know for a fact that guitar classes are full, because I’d be in one if it weren’t. There are many classes in the course catalogue that I have never even heard of. I’m not saying any of these are bad classes, just that I’ve never heard of anyone taking them. Also, chorus will not work with one teacher assigned to it. It is not possible to conduct and play piano and watch 50 kids at the same time. If worse comes to worst, I’m sure the community on this Island can pull through and raise enough money to keep all the performing arts teachers hired and keep students at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School happy.

Peace Border

By Sarah Hall>

To make peace or not to make peace, is that the question? Will Israelis and Palestinians ever establish a border? They say the stakes have never been higher for President Bush in the Middle East peace process. Annapolis, Md., is where it will be decided by more then 40 nations from around the world.

They see the opportunity for peace and say they are seizing it. But are they really?

Will this be going on for the next 20 years, or will it magically be resolved? Will it get better or worse? Will this lead to peace or a war? No one really knows.

Critics ask if nothing emerges from all this, could the U.S. President have gotten more involved in the process sooner could things have been resolved already? I guess we will never know.

Annapolis Peace Conference

By Andres Silva>

On Nov. 22, there was a peace conference in Annapolis, Md., to discuss the conflict between Israel and Palestine over the last century. U.S. Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice is taking advantage of Bush’s last year in office to try to set up a Palestinian state. What they are trying to do is set it up so that both the Palestinians and Israelis feel comfortable living side by side and make them both feel like they are winning. The meeting was intended to settle the biggest differences between the two sides, the so-called final status issues. I think it is good that these meetings are going to keep taking place so that the Palestinians and the Israelis can set aside their differences and live together and no longer have any more disasters and wars between them. Some of the things that happened in the past, such as the murder of the Israeli Olympic athletes, were terrible. Hopefully a Palestinian state can be set up and neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will feel defeated, and they can all feel secure and free.

Palestinian and Israeli Peace

By Anna Hayes> and Vicky Segal>

How can you describe peace? The opinions may differ. After years of fighting between the Palestinians and Israelis, Israel freed 429 Palestinian political prisoners. We see how hard the situation must be. Each side has its different opinions and needs for their people. The Israelis must have a sense of relief and pride that they did something good for the Palestinians, but the Palestinians are not satisfied and we wouldn’t be either. Of the 429 freed, most of them only had a few months left to go on their sentences. There are still thousands of Palestinian prisoners. To choose who is to be free and who is to be kept under unfair conditions is cruel. Many of these prisoners may have kept to the rules, but still the Israelis are choosing who is to be free and who is not. The world is only as complicated as we let it be. These issues can be resolved through talking, but who in this world is actually willing to react calmly? Violence is not the answer. How can a world of fighting and killing be right? Those who choose to fight are really only giving up and giving in to violence. There are easier, more effective, ways to go about solving conflict between nations. To say that killing is the way to go will never be right. Who is to say who lives and who dies? What kind of nation would we be to take the lives of others? Issues that divide people won’t change, but we can try to get together and share our ideas and make effective choices. People have different values and perspectives in situations of conflict, but working together is the only key to living the right life.

Corruption in Israel?

By Reece Boyd>

Nearly a year ago, Israel’s chief prosecutor instructed police to investigate whether Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert influenced the official process of an Israel government bank sale (Bank Leumi) and the government’s choice of buyers when he was finance minister in 2005. At the time the Israeli government owned a majority stake in the bank. Olmert has denied the allegations that he tried to steer the sale of Bank Leumi in order to help Australian real estate baron Frank Lowy, a close personal friend.

The Meaning of History

By Jordan Gonsalves>

The meaning of history to me is what’s written in the books. We all have those books when we enter and exit the doors of this school, but I also believe in firsthand learning a lot more than just reading what I have in front of me. I think that sometimes we are just being fed information from the government. Since we live on an Island, we don’t know what is happening on the other side of the water. History is not just about my opinion, it’s about your opinion also because not everyone has the same opinion. The government doesn’t believe in anyone becoming President of the United States except a white American man, but I believe in women and African American people becoming president because of where we all stand in this world together in our lives today. In conclusion, everyone has the right to believe in what they think is true and not follow the crowd with what is popular — and that is my life’s motto and my opinion of history.

When Is Free Speech Not Free?

By Julia Sadowski>

There was recently a debate concerning free speech and how far you can go with it. The debate took place at the Oxford Union in England. There was concern because the debate starred Nick Griffin, the British National Party leader, and David Irving, who is a historian. Many people felt that the debate should not take place because Griffin is a racist thug, and David Irving does not believe that the Holocaust ever happened. When situations like this happen, we have to ask ourselves what are our rights regarding free speech. People should be able to say what they want as long as they don’t violate anyone else’s rights, but are we violating people’s rights when we deny that a genocide happened? Many people were concerned that this debate would cause violence and they used that as justification for canceling it. There is also the argument that freedom of speech applies here and that people should be free to talk about whatever they like, no matter who they hurt. The debate did end up taking place despite the protestors, and no violence happened.

Because I Said So

By Vicky Segal>

Parents, how many times have you simply said: “Because I Said So”? Teens, how much do you try to connect with your elders? Teachers, do you take in the fact that teenagers have a lot going on besides school? After talking to sophomores, I have come to the conclusion that most teens are not taken seriously. Grownups say, “Try harder,” or, “This isn’t good enough,” or “You don’t know what love is.” Well, I say love can come at any age and being in high school doesn’t mean that the feelings that you have for a boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t love. Many teens feel that they can love and that many teens can love more strongly than some adults. Teen relationships can become a lot more than just a high school fling. Teens are not getting enough credit. Teens go through peer pressure, romance, fights, school work and sports. If adults attempted to understand, some of the drama could be reduced. It is because of teen drama that the rate of suicide has increased among teenagers — and teen suicide just should not happen, nor should children hurt themselves, drinking and smoking to numb the pain. That is what teenagers have to fall back on. Talk is the most important thing. As you get older, you carry the memories of your childhood, but a lot of the time you forget the hurt and pain that comes with it all. Adults may say it’s just high school, but we are the ones going through it, dealing with real problems. If this world is going to survive, there needs to be a lot more talking and understanding.