Issue 12 where is everyone?

Land acknowledgment

Eugene School District 4j, South Eugene High School, and your Axe Magazine online would like to acknowledge that our institution sits on the homelands of the Kalapuya people.

In the Treaties of 1851 and 1854-1855, and the subsequent forced removals of many Indian people from western Oregon, some of the Kalapuya were moved to the Grand Ronde Reservation and some were moved to the Siletz Reservation. It is important to note that all of Lane County was an important trading and gathering area for camas and other resources.

During the Restoration Era, from 1977-1989, Lane County was designated at the Service Area for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Coquille Indian Tribe, and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians.

Eugene 4J District and South wish to acknowledge that descendants of the original and Service Area inhabitants of this land are still here today. They are thriving members of our schools and our communities. Countless members of other Tribes now also call our community and schools their home.

We wish to thank those original stewards of this land. We as outsiders on this land wish to remember that we need to take good care of this land and take good care of all members of our school district and community. Thank you for joining us.

Land acknowledgement courtesy of Brenda Brainard.

Mission Statement

The Axe is dedicated to the goals and ethics of journalism. As a student-run publication, our mission is to both inform the student body and spark discussion among the student body about the news within South Eugene High School and the wider community. We function under an open forum policy. We accept and may use in our publication the feedback and commentary of our readers. Email all inquiries: willis_b@4j.lane.edu.

Stories

attendance issues

By Mira Ciccarello

Flagging student attendance in high school has always been an issue. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Education released a study on chronic absenteeism. The study found that one in five high school students are chronically absent, meaning that the student is attending less than 80% of their classes. In addition, those rates are increasing post pandemic. Students, staff and faculty alike worry about what this could mean for on-track learning, graduation rates and students’ mental health. Many attribute the issue to the shifted expectations of school during pandemic and distance learning.

“Attendance has been awful,” South Assistant Principal Riannon Boettcher said.

“The only other time in my career I have seen it this bad was in 2010, when there was a really bad flu and many students were at home sick. But, this year, it cannot be fully attributed to students being sick. There is a lot more to it than that, making it very widely spread.”

Between the shift back to in-person learning and the external challenges associated with it following a year away from the building, many students have been struggling.

“We are having many students be absent for more than 10 consecutive days and become unenrolled,” South social studies teacher Anna Grace said. “Typically, for that to happen more than once a year would be startling, but it has happened a lot this year.”

Grace is not the only teacher noticing attendance issues.

“During first trimester, attendance was very low,” South math teacher Elizabeth Day said, “but I mostly attributed that to outbreaks of COVID and students needing to quarantine. I started to see some improvements [in attendance] during second term. However, recently it has really dropped off the cliff. I’ve regularly had eight or nine students with unexcused absences in classes that are supposed to have a [about] 30 students.”

District 4J is seeing these kinds of numbers across the board. The percentage of students who were chronically absent from high school, meaning an attendance rate of 80 percent or lower (average of one absence per week) was 4 percent pre-pandemic. Now, 4j’s chronic absenteeism rate has spiked to more than five times pre-pandemic rates to 21 percent.

“Although these numbers are shocking,” South’s school psychologist, Barb Keyworth said, “the way we deliver our educational services has changed. With Canvas, many students are able to be out of the building and achieve the same grades they would while being in person.”

Unfortunately, however, that is not the case for all students. Keyworth explains that for many students, going on campus after quarantine has become difficult for many reasons. Some students struggle with anxiety, worsened mental health, or students having new responsibilities, such as being a daycare provider for a younger sibling.

“With the systems we have established throughout COVID of not having due dates and things like that, a lot of the original motivators that used to be there for people are no longer there,” Grace added.

But even though Canvas and flexible academic expectations may allow students to pass classes independently, there are critical social and collaborative aspects students may miss out on when they aren’t physically in the classroom.

“These numbers are so concerning,” Keyworth said, “because coming onto campus is essential for emotional growth. Mandating student attendance is not only beneficial for students' education, but also for students to continue to learn how to work and interact in a social setting.

Others agreed that easing back into the communal aspects of pre-pandemic schooling was best for students.

“Education is a human connection endeavor,” Assistant Principal Boettcher said. “Collaborating with peers is essential for students' growth and you cannot do that at home on a computer.”

The drastic switch students made this year back to in-person learning has been a significant adjustment for everyone; many are still struggling with the shift. Students who got used to the self-paced aspect of online learning might be wary of the value of comping on campus. Distance-learning seemed, by definition, to diminish the importance of attendance and to emphasize the importance of class content, making time in class feel almost like an afterthought, or like an option only necessary for extra instructional support.

Right now, students may be struggling to attend classes for reasons that have nothing to do with school or for reasons related to their mental health. Anecdotal evidence shows that social anxiety, for example, may be more common after the isolation of pandemic. This year has been a massive change for everyone; going from distance-learning during part of a day at home back into a full eight hours of class with 1,500 students and staff in one building has been a shock. It will take more than a year for everyone to readjust to a learning environment that used to be considered normal.

Art by Sophie Anjum

russia-ukraine war

By Sophie Anjum

According to various news sources, since Feb. 24, when Russia launched its military invasion in Ukraine, the invasion has killed more than 3,000 civilians, displaced 7 million people and forced another 5 million to flee their country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was initially driven by the goal of swiftly capturing Kyiv, deposing Ukraine’s government and ending any possibility of joining NATO. The grim attempt was sugar-coated under the reason of “demilitarizing” and “de-Nazifying” Ukraine – a meticulous plan to connect it to Russia’s most heroic moment in history during WWII.

After days of fighting, the swift victory that Putin was expecting hardly became reality as Ukrainians continued to fight back. Still, long range missile strikes, bombings and shellings bombarded the capital’s hospitals, residential areas and other infrastucture.

By Apr. 6, Russia had retreated from Kyiv. Curbing its ambitions, Russia entirely focused on “liberating” the Donbas region – an area largely governed by Moscow-backed separatists as a result of the war that began in 2014.

Now, capturing the two Eastern regions and a land corridor across the south remains the main target for Russian officials.

To the southeast of Ukraine, Mariupol faces one of the worst humanitarian crises as Russian forces seek to capture the city as a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula. Another reason behind the relentless fight is that capturing Mariupol will give Russia access to more than 80 percent of the Black Sea coast, blocking trade and isolating Ukraine.

The most compelling news, however, are the war crimes being committed by the Russian army.

During the beginning of the war, Bucha, a town outside Kyiv, was under Russian control for a month. Soon after its liberation, investigators discovered the battered town plagued with looted homes, deceased civilians, and countless war crimes. A mass grave was found at the church, and hundreds of civilians were taken hostage, tortured and killed.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova announced that 10 suspects were accused of war crimes. “The despicable 10,” as described by The Ministry of Defense, are being searched for trial.

Meanwhile, almost 90 percent of Mariupol has been destroyed. Amid the ongoing bombardment, hundreds of civilians and soldiers have taken refuge in the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works – a massive plant with a web of tunnels and workshops. Many of the fighters belong to the Azov Regiment, whose far-right ties have been branded by the Kremlin as a fight against “Nazis” and terrorism.

On Apr. 21, Putin declared in a televised meeting that Russian forces should surround the plant so that “not even a fly can escape.” Since then, civilians, many among them women and children, have been facing food and water shortages.

By May 7, women, children and the elderly had been evacuated. By May 17, around 260 fighters had been evacuated as well. Still, many remain trapped inside the plant and efforts to evacuate them are ongoing.

Unarmed civilians continue to be the target of gruesome attacks. According to the Ukrainian government, more than 1,000 schools have been shelled so far. Now, with the first war crimes trial of a 21-year-old Russian soldier who shot an unarmed 62-year-old man beginning, bringing justice to war criminals remains an uneasy task.

War, in all its ghastliness, must also have rules. Attacking innocent civilians is a crime against humanity. But, who should take responsibility for the crimes and what should be the severity of the punishment? Should the soldier or the person in power directing the soldier take the blame? As the Russia-Ukraine war continues to escalate, the ethical dilemma around crime and justice continues to persist.

briefs

ASB Election Results

By Natasha Dracobly

The Associated Student Body (ASB) election results are out! ASB positions are not grade-affiliated and include the president and vice president of the student body. Approximately 600 students voted in the election, which is about 40 percent of the student body. Here are the election results:


ASB President: Margaret Grace, rising senior

ASB Vice President: Aliyah Tenney, rising senior

Communications Officer: Quinnlyn Turnbull, rising senior

ASB Secretary/Treasurer: Jack Rangeloff, rising junior

School Board Representative: Rory Young, rising sophomore

Site Council Representatives: Haylee Ann Ramsey-Code, rising senior, and Lila Cadaret, rising sophomore

Elections Officer: Sam Parsons, rising junior

Activities Coordinator: Molly Webb, rising junior

Student Liaison: Leyna Kurtenbach, rising junior

Social Media Coordinator: Cameron Gupta, rising senior