Issue 1 Back to school

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:

Editors Note

Welcome to our very first online issue of this school year! In this issue, we have stories ranging from upcoming school events during COVID to an op-ed on the Texas Abortion Ban. Additionally, check out our story on wildfires for information about the aftermath of this fire season. Interested in the Nabisco strike and the California recall? Take a look at our briefs section, where we cover recent news topics in a way that will hopefully inspire you to find out more on your own.

Axe staff is always looking for feedback, art and recommendations/news tips. Message us on Instagram @theaxemag!

We are excited to bring back physical and online issues, and we hope that you are all excited, as well. – Elita Kutateli, Lina Nakagome & Naomi Saenger, editors


Photo courtesy of Arnaud Jaegers on

CAlifornia recall

In 2020, a group of right-wing Californians started a grassroots effort to recall the California governor election that went to Gavin Newsom, a middle-of-the-road democrat. According to a CNN poll, as of Sept. 15, 63.9 percent of Californians were against having a recall election, a testament to California being a left-leaning state. This left only a small number of people campaigning for Newsom’s main opponent, Republican Party member and talk radio personality Larry Elder. – By May Lafer-Kirtner

Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt on

4j covid tests

With schools reopening, 4J has offered free weekly COVID tests for any student who wants them. Schools are working with the UO to push these test results though quickly. Many schools have already distributed their first batch of tests, while others – South Eugene among them – are still trying to figure out how best to organize the distribution. – By May Lafer-Kirtner

vaccine opt-outs

On Aug. 10, Gov. Kate Brown implemented a statewide mandate requiring state employees working in public safety, correctional and healthcare settings to be vaccinated for COVID-19. However, multiple county law enforcement offices are finding ways to opt out of the vaccine mandate. This mandate encompasses law enforcement because they have had some form of medical training. In Multnomah County, the local sheriff's office argued that medical training was not essential to their work, therefore, according to the Associated Press, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said she had no choice but to exempt deputy sheriffs, parole and probation officers. –By Mira Ciccarello

Photo courtesy of Hakan Nural on

Photo courtesy of Sam Stites for Oregon Public Broadcasting

the nabisco strike

Striking Nabisco workers across the country ended their walkout and ratified a proposed contract by Mondelez International, Nabisco’s parent company, on Saturday, Sept. 18 following several days of negotiations.

The strike, which began Aug. 10 at the Nabisco facility in Portland, was the result of disagreements between the company and workers’ union about their new contract after the previous one had expired. Tensions rose after multiple Nabisco facilities were closed during COVID-19, resulting in the loss of about 1,000 union jobs.

Meanwhile, Nabisco made record profits – as sales of snacks soared during the pandemic – and opened several new non-union facilities in Mexico. The workers’ union was opposed to the company’s proposed contract, which included changes in scheduling, overtime pay and in the workers’ healthcare plan.

The new contract – developed after more than a month of striking – includes higher wages and 401(k) contributions. According to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, union members voted overwhelmingly in favor of approving the contract all around. However, a portion of workers in Portland did express worry that it would not prevent the scheduling changes that had originally spurred them to walk out. – By Natasha Dracobly

Photo courtesy of Emilio Garcia on

fall sports of 2021

Though COVID still looms, South is back to school and back to sports, cross country, soccer, and volleyball. This year brings new kinds of challenges, such as COVID-related cancellations and possible impacts on team rosters. Stay tuned for more in depth and specific team coverage in upcoming Axe Magazine issues.

In a significant athletics shift, South has made the decision not to have a competitive football team this year. The main challenge this year was finding enough players to compete. However, South is still running workouts for interested students.To find out more about South’s football program, check our upcoming October print issue after midterms. – By Brice Emerson


Smoke from the wildfires scatter the light, making the sun appear bright red. Photo by Mira Ciccarello

Wildfire Aftermath

By Mira Ciccarello

Over the past couple of years, the West Coast has suffered from multiple devastating fire seasons.

In early August of 2020, thunderstorms ignited fires all across the Pacific Northwest – the most destructive in Oregon being the Lionshead fire. The Lionshead fire started on August 16, 2020. It damaged several communities in the Santiam drainage and Breitenbush area. It scorched 204,469 Acres of land, resulting in the loss of 264 resident homes.

By mid-September, these fires worsened with the dry weather conditions and high winds, causing the damage to spread further. Additionally, these fires shattered national records, burning more than 10.2 million acres of land. Therefore, this year – when the Bootleg fire burned more than 413,000 acres of land over a span of 39 days and left locals with soot falling from the hazy sky and a burning red sun – it was no surprise. However, it has left people feeling uneasy.

“This time of year, when the smoke comes rolling in, it can be really hard because there is so much trauma associated with it [the wildfires],” South Eugene High School science teacher Julie Stewart said.

For Stewart, this dread is personal: The 2018 Camp wildfire scorched her hometown of Paradise, Calif., killing 85 people and destroying 19,000 structures.

“I lived in Paradise from the time I was born, until I left for college… even though I didn't live there anymore [at the time of the fire], knowing that I could still go home and visit and show my kids where I grew up was nice. Now I can't. It's hard.”

Seeing the scars from the fires has been difficult, even for people who have no personal connection to the burned area.

“Driving between Oregon and northern California, seeing all the ashy trees and scars from the fires, it's just sad. There's no other way to say it.” South junior Jaden Russo said.

Currently, there are still 23 fires burning in Oregon, each continuing to wreak havoc on local communities.

The state of Oregon has devised a plan to prevent fires and to protect forests and homes. Sen. Jeff Golden (D) led the effort to pass the plan. It includes mapping the highest risk areas of Oregon and implementing new mandatory protocols and rules, such as limiting certain foliage around homes, building with fire-resistant materials, and cleaning dry debris from forests. The budget for this bill is $220 million dollars. A portion of this money will go toward improving firefighting capabilities and reducing dry debris, which has been fueling these fires, on the forest floor. Another portion of the money will be funding a new program called the Wildfire Workplace Corp. This program puts young people to work clearing flammable debris in what is known as the wildland-urban interface, where homes meet forests or wildlands. However, not everyone is on board with this plan Many Oregonians have concerns about the cost increase for building and buying houses if new materials are being used.

On a more personal level, some Oregonians are just more concerned about the sentimentality around having to cut down an old tree on their property. Sen. Betsy Johnson (D) criticized the plan on a radio show earlier this year.

“If Sen. Golden thinks for a minute that I'm going to cut down the 200-year-old, 200-foot-tall old-growth ponderosa pine in my yard, he is mistaken,” she said.

Julie Stewart would disagree.

“Personally,” she said, “I think it's really really important to have defensible space around your property, especially if you are living on the wildland-urban interface, because that is where you're at such high risk.”

Decisions surrounding this new protocol will unfold over the course of this year with the input from homeowners, fire officials and Oregon government representatives. According to Golden, by June 2022, most maps noting high-risk areas in Oregon should be complete. October 2022 is the deadline for setting new building codes and defensible space requirements.

Changes are coming.

“Wildfires are just part of our lives now, so it's important to be prepared,” Steward said.

Homecoming Carnival: School events during covid

By Maia Kinch

The coronavirus has impacted our lives in many notable, harmful ways, like making us work from home and keeping us from having a lot of normal, teenage experiences. No one wants another speech about how “we’re all in this together,” so let’s talk about something a bit better for morale. School events! How will they work in this not-so-new way of life and what can we expect from our student government team this year?

Sadly, student events were not a reality last year, and a lot of students are ready to get back to having their regularly scheduled fun. However, it is difficult to rely on big exciting events like this when the virus is still out and about. A lot of students and teachers have been predicting a return to the digital classrooms of 2020, and if South is met, again, with that challenge, it will be impossible to make social events happen. Still, our amazing student government has been working hard to work around and plan gatherings that are more appropriate for current times. At the same time, vaccines and COVID tests are more readily available, and we have had a lot more time to adjust to taking the proper precautions when addressing the pandemic. Things are looking up, and hopefully South will be in better shape as we approach the upcoming events we’re all looking forward to.

Everyone needs a chance to relax, have fun, and socialize. However, what kind of expectations should we have with the Delta variant hitting harder and faster than our beloved Alpha variant?

“I think that so much of student government, like the planning, depends on student interaction,” South senior and ASB President Anna Tavokolian said. “We couldn’t do a lot of the events we normally do because it wasn’t feasible with covid. We were forced to think outside of the box, and branch out.”

What this means is that South students can expect some new and exciting things to come in the month of October.

The [date] South Homecoming carnival is something to look out for, as it will take the place of a more traditional Homecoming Dance this year. While Tavokolian acknowledged planning the carnival would be a big risk, but could be a lot of fun. The idea was that an outdoor event in the open air would be a lot safer than being stuffed in a gym.

“Our main goal is finding out how to make it as safe as possible,” she said. Typical COVID protocols will be enforced at the event to minimize exposure as much as possible. “Usually our dances get around 400 people, so we would love to get that amount or more.”

While the CDC typically advises against large gatherings, an outdoor celebration with an attendance estimate of a quarter of the school following social distancing mandates is less risky than walking through a crowded hallway on the way to class. Nonetheless, if anyone at the event does show signs of COVID, it is recommended that they get tested and perform a mandatory 14-day quarantine. While the virus is not known to severely impact the health of high schoolers, it is still of utmost importance to keep those who are at risk safe. More information regarding the coronavirus protocols at South can be found at the school website, as well as at South student government’s new webpage,


A Women's march takes place in the city.

Photo courtesy of Vlad Tchompalov on

A Right to Autonomy

By May Lafer-Kirtner

"How could I expect this body to be perfect for anything but the punchline?" -Blythe Baird, for the rapists who called themselves feminists

On Sept. 1, the Texas Heartbeat Act came into effect. The bill states that abortions after six weeks into a pregnancy will be banned. When Gov. Greg Abbott signed this law into effect, it sparked an uproar in citizens across the country. With the passing of Texas SB 8, Texans were told that a politician’s religion was more important than citizens’ right to autonomy. Except, for a large majority of pro-lifers, it has never really been about religion. Rather, when the punishment for raping a woman is less than her punishment for not birthing a child of rape, it is not about God – it is about a war on women.

Our creator endowed us with the right to life,” Abbott stated after signing the bill. This made it clear that his reasoning for the law was directly related to his religious beliefs.

The Texas Heartbeat Act states that women cannot get abortions after six weeks into a pregnancy, a timeline marker earlier than most women even become aware that they are pregnant. The earliest a pregnancy test will show a positive result is two weeks into the pregnancy. A funny thing about pregnancy, though, is that the length of time someone has been pregnant is actually counted from the date of the first day of their last period. This means , knowing most women do not take a pregnancy test until a week after their first missed period, that by the time a woman knows she is pregnant she is already about five weeks pregnant. This gives Texan women approximately one week to get an abortion before it becomes illegal.

Although six different states have confirmed their own heartbeat bills in the past (with none currently being enforced and multiple being called into question in courts), the Texas Heartbeat Act is gaining much more attention partially because of the Supreme Court’s decision not to block the bill. The simple act of remaining silent in the face of such a blatant disregard of human rights is a statement of its own. The Supreme Court is meant to protect the American people, not just those in power.

One reason why this law is a very clear systematic attack on women’s rights is because six weeks into a pregnancy, there is no heartbeat.

“At six weeks of gestation, those [cardiac] valves don't exist,” said Dr. Nisha Verma in a recent interview with NPR. Verma is an OB-GYN who specializes in abortion care and works at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

How does the Texas SB 8 insist on the idea that abortions are killing beings with a heartbeat? The bill itself qualifies a fetal heartbeat as, “cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac.” An important distinction in that statement is the word “or,” the assumption that those two things mean the same thing. Verma makes it clear that anything you hear on an ultrasound that early in the pregnancy is actually a sound the ultrasound machine makes, indicating moving of cells.

The Texas Heartbeat Act violates people’s rights to control their body, and it re-establishes the idea that women are at fault for wanting to put themselves first. The fact that someone could, and will, be forced to birth a child of rape is only enforcing rape culture and forcing that person to relive what was most likely the most painful memory they have experienced. As they grow up, women are taught to be cautious and protect themselves – taught that the world is a dangerous place and that venom-filled boys will try to take their power from them. As horrific as the Texas Senate Bill Eight is, the most loathsome part is that it is not surprising. If you ask a woman when she was most scared, she will not tell you about a spider. She will point to this very moment – the moment 13 million Texan women lost their right to choose.

Athletes race in the 5000 meter race at the London 2012 Olympics. Photo courtesy of Alessandro Venturi on

athletes: From the perspective of a fan

By Lina Nakagome

On July 27, athlete Simone Biles surprised many, as the U.S. Gymnastics team announced that she would not continue to compete in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Meanwhile, tennis phenom Naomi Osaka recently stated she would be taking a break from tennis after a loss in the third round of the U.S. Open.

What do these two athletes have in common? They are prioritizing their mental health and wellbeing over a sport – and rightfully so.

It is easy to imagine the stress and anxiety that comes with each competition, especially for athletes who are known as the No. 1 athlete in their sport. There are hundreds of spectators and high expectations to meet, not to mention the onslaught of news reporters and social media users who will critique one no matter the outcome.

However, being a great athlete does not always mean playing in top condition every day or landing every flip. Sometimes, it means focusing on technique and form, rather than simply doing. Sometimes, it means being kind to fans and respecting other players. And other times, being a great athlete means knowing when to step back and listen to your body.

“I say put mental health first,” Biles said in an interview with NPR. “Because if you don't, then you're not going to enjoy your sport and you're not going to succeed as much as you want to.”

When it comes to a point where people are not enjoying the very thing they have dedicated themselves to mastering, it is important to step back and evaluate what is happening – especially because sports are a hobby for most people.

"I feel like for me, recently, like when I win, I don't feel happy,” Osaka said. “I feel more like a relief.”

This likely subtle but critical distinction stems from the high, and sometimes unrealistic, expectations of many spectators. Maybe Osaka is relieved that she did not let herself or her fans down. Or maybe, she is relieved that she will not have to face the inevitable bashing that will come from social media if she had lost.

“Talent is not everything,” one Twitter user wrote. “Gotta have the mental toughness especially in tennis when you are out there by yourself.”

“What a waste of 5 years training,” another tweeted. “Focus on your mental health next week.”

Both Osaka and Biles are tough; in the way that they have endured so much pressure and hard training and are still able to step away, understanding that continuing to play under a compromised mental state is not giving 100 percent and may even be physically risky: In Biles’ case, carrying on competing could have resulted in serious injury. With their actions and advocacy on mental health issues, these women have inspired athletes across the country.

As Biles put it – “It's OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself, because it shows how strong of a competitor and person that you really are — rather than just battle through it.”

It’s important to know that winning is not everything. It is always “practice makes perfect” until you lose. It is almost as if everyone believes a loss means no work was put into it. Biles did not stumble because of laziness, and Osaka did not lose a match because of a lack of practice. For them to have made it this far – it does not make sense for them to not have not worked hard.

In an interview after the Olympic qualifiers, the now former head coach of Japan’s men’s national judo team was asked about the members of the selected team. Yet, rather than immediately responding about those who did qualify, he first shed tears while speaking the names of those who did not qualify.

“Right now, out of the things that come to mind from this selection tournament up until now, the faces of the players who just barely fell through are the only ones who pop up,” Coach Inoue Kosei said. “73kg, Hashimoto, Ebinuma; 81kg, Fujiwara; 90kg Nagasawa Murao; 100kg Iida and Haga; +100 kg Kageura. Truly, I believe they all fought for us [Japan] with everything they had to this point.”

As a former athlete himself, Inoue understands that all athletes work hard. As spectators, we feel happy when our favorite athletes win and sad when they lose. However, the ones who feel strongest about their performance are the players themselves. As an audience, our job is to watch and support. Everyone knows their own body the best. If an athlete wants to take a break and reset, we will have empathy, pat them on the back and let them go their own way.

Osaka and Biles had the strength to step away. Now the real question is: When is it time for the world to step back and mind their own business?