Local Highschool to Take a Stand on Social Health of Students.

Written by: Kaitlyn Burkhart

Any person who has served his or her four years in public highschool knows what a positive – or not – experience it can be. While the stories of teen depression, tech-savvy bullies, and even suicides increase, it seems as if authority figures in and out of the teen scene are at a loss for ways to answer the question, ‘How can we improve relationships between students?’ Two years ago, this question was passed to a handful of students in an Albany, Ore. high school, and as it turns out, they had a pretty good answer.

At the start of the 2009-2010 school year, West Albany High School health teacher Laura Blackwell asked this question of her service learning class, known as PEERS, a class designed to make its’ students socially aware of their peers, and to teach them how to be a part of and promote a healthy environment for the entire school. There had been long running curiosity on the benefits of a ‘Challenge Day’, a program centered around improving relationship amongst students with a six-and-a-half hour long workshop where students play get-to-know-you games, listen to several guest speakers, and then are divided into small groups for a guided discussion. When a body of students commits to the workshop, as is usually the case, it becomes and emotional, enlightening, and gratifying experience for every person involved. The idea was widely accepted between the two periods of PEERS classes, though they were not so keen on the idea of paying thousands of dollars for the Challenge Day organization to come for one day. They believed that they had the leadership capable of pulling off a Challenge Day of their own, and the PEERS classes entered the development stage of their own program.

A few months later ‘Impact Day’ was born.

On it’s test run in the spring of 2010, Impact Day pulled 100 students from the junior and senior classes for a day long workshop. Impact day loosely followed the outline of Challenge Day, though with games, speakers and presentation individualized to the West Albany High School students, as well as other games and activities that the school has been playing in pep assemblies for years. With the students familiarity with the leadership, location, and events, Impact Day was hailed as a success and slated for two more reappearances for the junior and senior classes again in the 2010-2011 school year.

Class of 2012 Seniors playing a get to know you game on their Impact Day in November.

After some small tweaks, the event concluded a three-run-strong test drive, and was brought before the Greater
Albany Public School board in the summer of 2011. After approval, Principal Susan Orsborn announced that for the 2012-2013 school year, Impact Day would be mandatory for all students, and made plans for four different event days throughout the year, each dedicated to a specific class with specific materials to cover the issues that each age group faces. So far this year, two Impact Days have passed, for the juniors and seniors it has made a big change. “You can see it,” says senior Lindsey Ridler, “You can see it in people’s body language in large groups, in the way they talk to each other one on one, in the atmosphere itself. You can tell that something changed, even if you can’t place your finger on the specifics.”

West Albany High School has since become a model for several other schools looking to improve the social health of their students, including South Albany, Lebanon and Crescent Valley High Schools, all centered in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.




Top Five Free Android Apps for Serious Students

Written by: Tamar Auber

This year, many students will find a new Android tablet under their Christmas tree or exchange their Hanukkah gelt for a trendy new tablet. While Android tablets are usually hyped as entertainment systems intended to play Angry Birds, watch videos or check your e-mail, serious students can turn their new toys into a power study tool with free apps that can help make cracking the books a little easier.

A Samsung Galaxy Tablet

An Android tablet can be a powerful study tool.

While not a replacement for a laptop, the touch screen capability and portability of a tablet makes it the perfect take along study aid. In addition, while lacking the cool factor of an iPad and the Apple store, Android users will be pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of applications available, often for free, in the Android Market.

As a graduate student and researcher, my Acer Iconia tablet is my go to gadget for reading files, keeping notes tidy, and even scanning documents during my hours of weekly library research. Want to put your tablet to work on campus this semester? These five apps can help you make the most of your study time and your tablet.

iFlashcards- If you are studying a subject that requires memorization, this is the perfect app for you. The iflashcards app allows users to create cards, sync cards with the web, and even transfer them between devices using an sd card, so that you can practice using your phone or computer as well as your tablet. Last semester, I put this handy little free app to great use memorizing dates for history and verb conjugations for Hebrew class.

Evernote-Evernote is the ultimate note taking and filing system for your tablet. While my tablet will not allow me to take notes directly on the touch screen, I can snap a picture of my handwritten notes or type with the on screen keyboard and Evernote quickly files it away for safe keeping and exam time. You can also install Evernote on multiple devices and work with your stored information from several locations, great when you have a term paper to write or a final exam information to cram.

Repligo Reader– This free app is buggy at times, but it is still my favorite pdf reader. With Repligo, I am able to download all of my semester’s articles from my course web site onto a thumb drive at the beginning of the term and open the files with ease on the week the readings are assigned. Repligo also allows me to annotate files, turn pages easily, and access multiple articles quickly. The downside is that occasionally Repligo ‘forgets’ that the thumb drive is docked in my tablet, and I have to exit the program and try again. Repligo will also work if you do not have a USB drive, but requires more work since you have to e-mail yourself the article first.

CamScanner-I was skeptical of this free app. However, the fact the ancient scanner at my school’s library was always down encouraged me to take the risk. I was very pleasantly surprised. Camscanner works just as promised, allowing me to use my tablet’s camera to snap pictures of documents, pages in reference books or anything else I need to keep handy. An added benefit, CamScanner works keep track of quotes and sources for term papers, simply snap the page where the information is found and the title page.

Google Books-For students of history, literature any many other fields, Google Books is a must have in your study arsenal. The free app, pre-installed on many tablets, offers thousands of searchable academic books, many of which can be viewed in their entirety. Looking for a specific phrase or keyword? No worries, Google Books will allow you to search inside the texts and show you exactly the page on which the phrase is found.

These free apps can turn your Android Tablet into a hardworking student tool that will help you keep your notes and research organized and study time more productive, leaving more free time to enjoy Angry Birds or your favorite movie on your new tablet.