Hi, I’m Troy Small, this week’s Sophomores Speak Out editor. We are bringing a lot of new thoughts to the table this week. We’re talking about racism in our school and community, how teenagers deal with winter on the Island, how transportation is really hard for sophomores who have not got their licenses yet, school bullying and how we lose our heroes. Like the rest of the country, we are talking about the presidential election and our hopes for a better world.

Is Racism A Thing Of The Past?

By Cole Maciel Wingate>

When people say racism doesn’t exist anymore, it really aggravates me. Racism still exists in the U.S. and I see it every day. It’s not just toward African Americans either but it’s directed at Brazilians and any foreigners around. When something is stolen or money taken from a bank, people always say the person must be black. If people haven’t noticed, most crimes, serious crimes, have been committed by Caucasians. The serial killer in Oregon was white and he killed 40 some odd children. The college boy that raped and killed a little girl in Las Vegas was white and the girl was black. Even if kids are joking when they make these remarks, it’s not right. If you’re going to accuse someone of something just because of their race then that’s racism even if you are joking.

World Economy — What’s Going On?

By Jock Cooperrider>

Right now on world and local news a big topic is the world’s economy. From the news I have been watching this crisis has been presenting itself as a kind of time bomb, a fiasco waiting to happen. Some of the main causes of the problem include the government’s expenses for the war and the price of gas and oil have risen to over $100 a barrel. Right now, financial experts and stock brokers are warning the United States and other countries around the world that we will go into a recession. Hopefully the government can figure it out and stop a recession from happening, but what also has to be remembered is that other countries around the world are going through this. It seems to me that right now is the time to get a grip on our failing government.

You Really Live Here, Year-Round?

By Breanne Russell>

I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me: “You really live here? Year-round?” Sure it’s a bit isolated but the Vineyard really isn’t that small. It’s too big to ever take a walk from West Tisbury to Edgartown! Another of my other favorite questions from visitors is: “Where do you like, shop?” The answer? “Same places off-Island people do.” People act like just because we have to take a boat off-Island we don’t know what fast food is.

In reality, Vineyarders don’t have lives much different than other kids in the winter. We have sports, hanging out with friends and the movies. All we don’t have that off-Island kids have is the mall. Now in the summer, it’s a whole different story. It’s crazy here, but the tourists are how we keep our Island running. Vineyarders like to say that they hate tourists, but without them we would be broke. Besides, summer is fun. There is the beach, Gio’s, summer jobs, walking the harbor or just sightseeing. There’s always something happening.

There are so many more people in the world and Island teens forget that. Most of us when we think of school just think about the kids we have known for years. Off-Island teens see new people every day. Here on the Island, you can walk down the street and see 20 people you know. And if you don’t know them, someone in your family does.

Don’t take this the wrong way. I love our Island, but there is much more out there and sometimes I wonder how do we all find out about the hot trends. That’s why on the Vineyard most of us have our own style because we don’t know anything else and that’s good because it means that there are a lot less stereotypical and fake people here.

Winter on the Vineyard —Not Much Could Be Worse

By Vicky Segal>

I have lived on Martha’s Vineyard my whole life. Summer can be amazing with the warm days, the beach, the game room and Dairy Queen. When it gets down to winter though, the only thing I hear is how boring it is. There used to be the bowling alley, but that’s gone. We don’t really have anything to keep teenagers entertained. When it comes to the weekend, the only activity really is the movies. And, my God, how many movies can you watch in a weekend? If the towns could come to some kind of agreement and come up with some way to make winter life a little less dull and bleak, I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t be ecstatic. I know that a big thing about this Island is its rich culture, but I am sure that there are many ways to keep its amazing history, but yet more activities for everyone.

Summer Versus Winter

By Troy Small>

Cold, peaceful, lifeless, those are just a few of the ways to describe winter life on the Island. We go from a noisy, crowded summer to an empty boring winter. Martha’s Vineyard is one of the biggest tourist attractions on this side of the United States during the warm summer months, but in the winter we turn into a small hard-working community. I must admit that at times it does get extremely boring. Winter though is definitely a time to relax and rest up for another intense summer.

If you live on Martha’s Vineyard, you live a double life. You enjoy the busy, fast-paced summers and you get to experience the calm, uncrowded, serene winters. You really get to experience both ways of life. All in all, summer is more fun that I can explain, but winter is definitely my favorite part of the year. Summer brings pleasure, warmth and new people to meet, but I still find myself saying in the middle of the busy summers: “I wish it was winter again.”

Driver Education

By Julia Sadowski>

As of September, 2007, the laws for kids driving in Massachusetts have changed for getting your license. Teens now have to put in more hours when it come to things like driving with a licensed driver over 21 years of age, observing a driver and spending driving hours with an instructor.

Here at the regional high school it is now possible for students to take a driver education course as a credited class during school hours. The class is currently taught by John Stabile and students who take the course have helpful tools available such as driving simulators, videos and more.

There can be a great advantage to taking driver education during school. It is really helpful for students who are involved in sports and other extracurricular activities who may not be able to attend classes after school. On the other hand, not everyone has space in their school schedule to fit in driver education.

When it comes to cost, students are paying about $500 to take driver education. It is not the actual class that you pay for, but the supervised driving hours that you take with an instructor.

On balance, the new driver education program appears to be successful and it is very convenient.

Schools Have to Help Kids Who Are Bullied

By Chris Davies>

At the Blue Springs School District a mother is suing the school because she says her son was bullied to death. She claims that her 12-year-old son was bullied to death because of a speech impediment that he had. The boy’s name was Brandon and he attempted suicide by trying to hang himself. When his mom’s boyfriend came in and found him he thought he was playing because there was a trash can under his feet, but then he poked him and found that he was unconscious. He later died.

Kim Meyers, his mom, says that she knows a lawsuit won’t fix anything but she wants it to be a wake-up call so that no other parent has to go through the pain that she has been through. Kim was also upset that she was not told about the bullying because the school knew about it and did nothing about it.

If bullying is causing some kids to attempt suicide then schools need to crack down on those cases and do something about them. As a high school student, I do see bullying, but it isn’t very severe. Even if it is, there is always a brother or a friend to step in and fix the situation. Now that school bullying has gone so far as to cause the death of an elementary student, schools need to start punishing kids that bully other students so that this kind of tragedy never happens again.

Reflections on Myself and the World

By Andreas Silva>

I want to become a better student, pay more attention in school and at home and become more disciplined in everything I do. I need to organize myself so that I won’t be so lost. One more thing, I would like our country to elect the right and suitable president for this country. We don’t need another one that will keep destroying the country little by little. We need a leader who will reverse what has been happening and start to heal us and make us a better and stronger country.

Island Transportation Nightmare

By Eric Fletcher>

Driving in the summer is already a nightmare and resembles a city anyway (which is what tourists avoid) so a rapid transit system will allow them to relax longer. I too understand the spirit of the Island community, but I’m thinking subway, not monorail. Monorails are super unpleasant to the eye and at least subways are underground. On top of that, the spirit of the Island is already ruined. Have you been to Oak Bluffs lately? Over the past few months, it’s gone from bad to worse with all the hippie graffiti and moderate crime.

My last point is that the Vineyard Transit Authority is horrible. The name is misleading because the schedules are only convenient in the tourist season. The winter schedules are totally inconvenient for Islanders. For example, if I want to catch the #13 bus from Oak Bluffs at 10:55, then I have to catch the #1 to the high school which leaves at 11:04? What is that? It takes more than ten minutes to get from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven, even more so with bus stops. At least a subway is rapid and could possibly come to each town every 20 minutes.

Tarnished Hero

By Richard McAuliffe>

Former major league baseball ace pitcher Roger Clemens was cited in George Mitchell’s report on the use of steroid and human growth hormone in baseball. Supposedly the trainer of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, Bryan McNamee, injected both of the pitchers with steroids and the hormone. Pettitte came out after the allegations and admitted using steroids after leaving the Boston Red Sox for the Toronto Blue Jays where he won back to back Cy Young Awards and won the pitcher’s triple crown.

At a press conference, Clemens said: “McNamee never injected me with anything while I was training with him” and yet four weeks later he admitted that McNamee injected him with B12 and Lidocaine to help ease the pain of pitching over a 162-game season. McNamee has been accused by Clemens of lying about the whole thing, but he has no reason to lie. He has nothing to gain by lying because if it is proved that he lied, he will face substantial jail time. Clemens was asked by reporter Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes if he would take a lie detector test to see if that would prove the accusations to be true or false. His only response was: “I don’t know. Would a lie detector test solve anything?” He seemed uncomfortable with the question.

Clemens, McNamee and Pettitte are scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill Feb. 13 in front of a grand jury on perjury charges and charges of illegal use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. If Clemens is found guilty, he could face jail time and any records he now holds would be tarnished. He has won seven Cy Young Awards, has two World Series wins, has played over 300 regular season games and struck out 4,000 batters. He would be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but he has openly said that he doesn’t need the Hall of Fame. If he is found guilty then he can kiss the Hall of Fame goodbye. It’s sad since, like Barry Bonds, he never needed steroids in the first place.