No More Logos

Remember your first day of school? You were probably scared and unsure about being so far away from your mom, your house and your stuffed bear. But as the days wore on, and you realized that crying in the cloakroom wasn’t going to bring your mom back, you got used to the other children. You made friends. The teachers weren’t that bad; in fact, they were nice. You always felt as safe and secure as if you were at home. You never had to worry about the outside world, the strangers who offered you candy and the cars that turned without using their signal lights that your parents were so afraid of. You knew that you were safe at school. Or at least you thought you knew.
In an exclusive contract with the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board, Coca-Cola has the exclusive rights to install their vending machines in schools, in exchange for a payment made to each school board.
The contract ends this June, and both boards are considering renewal.
Besides the fact that readily-available carbonated beverages in schools may be increasing the obesity problem in adolescents, school is supposed to be a haven from advertising. School, as boring and as tedious as certain aspects of it can be, is still a place where we should be safe and secluded from the outside world, where we can’t be corrupted by advertisements and the messages corporations use to persuade us to buy what they’re selling, messages that do us more harm than good.
Blame it on the government. Certain trustees who support the Coke deal say that it’s a good way to create an income the government doesn’t give them. And if the schools don’t supply it, we’ll still buy Coke, from convenience stores and restaurants, so why not use it as a way to bring in much-needed revenue for our schools?
Most of us have gotten used to the ‘Coke’ symbol popping up everywhere we turn in the basement, and to seeing Coke employees filling up the machines. The posters in the cafeteria have become just another part of the school’s décor.
This is aggressive marketing, hitting us right where we least expect it. It encourages us to buy caffeinated drinks instead of healthier ones. It wastes our money and our minds.
School is supposed to be a place where we don’t have to worry about advertising, where we can keep our minds open and ready to absorb knowledge, instead of the guarded and wary attitude we must use outside of school. But maybe that’s why schools are such a good place for advertisers to target; we accept what we hear at school as true and right. Which is why I find it especially sad that the school board considers our corruption worth revenue. Our government should be supplying schools with the money it needs for repairs, textbooks, teachers, and programs in the arts such as music and drama, not leaving us to get it from corporations.
It’s convenient to have vending machines in the basement, especially in the winter. But we walk around oblivious to the fact that every time we put a loonie in the slot, we are paying a corporation to corrupt us, turning a blind eye to its deceit and aggression. How far are we willing to allow convenience to take us?
-Erica Rodd

Why Do Kids Hate School?

Beep, beep, beep. That dreaded sound. You hammer the snooze button. Ten more minutes of sleep, you say to yourself, that’s all I need, than I’ll get up. Beep, beep, beep. Hammer the snooze button again. Ten more minutes. I’ll skip breakfast and run to school. I’ll still make it on time. Beep, beep, beep. Snooze button seems so far away, but you stretch out and press it. Ten more minutes. I’ll be a little late, the teacher won’t care that much. “GET UP!” Your mom hollers from below. You slowly roll out of the warm cocoon of your bed and stand up in the cold unwelcoming air of the morning. You sit there for a moment and think, “God, I hate school.”
These are the thoughts of most students these mornings. We are now entering the most difficult time of the year. The excitement and freshness of returning to school is over. Homework has begun to pile on; textbooks are handed out already, ISU outlines are on our desks at home. That’s right, school has officially started. Unfortunately, we haven’t got into the flow where days pass by in the blink of an eye. The days are moving painfully slowly, and weekends pass before we can even settle in. It’s this time of year when I hear the most complaints about school.
How can one thing that does nothing but give to us be hated so much? Santa Claus does the same thing and that jerk wants milk and cookies, while school just needs you to show up and pay attention. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so. One student from Central Technical Institute told me “I hate school because it’s stupid and boring.” He makes an interesting point that is difficult to argue, but I asked him to elaborate. “Because it’s a waste of time. I could be spending that time sleeping.” Ah, yes. The sleep factor comes into play.
When we were younger, waking up at 7am was a normal thing, especially on weekends. I mean, that’s when the best cartoons are on. Nowadays, we have to have four different alarms going off in various parts of the room just to get our butts out by 8:30. What happened to our bodies? Nothing. We’re just going to sleep later. Remember when 10pm was a ridiculous hour to be up at? Now it’s when you catch your favourite T.V. shows or when most of your friends are on MSN. We have to save our recreation for the evenings because of the ridiculous amount of work we’re doing. Not just schoolwork either (even though there’s still a lot of that) but most of us have part-time jobs in order to have enough money to survive in University. We’re looking at almost $15 000 for University per year and we have to raise enough money for that, while at the same time keeping our marks up to get into the programs we want.
I talked to a Harbord student about why he disliked school. “It’s the homework. Homework sucks.” Another good point by one of the fine students of Toronto. It is a proven fact that homework does indeed suck but is that enough to hate it? Yes, yes it is. We are committed to attending school eight hours a day, five days a week, but must our extra time be taken up by school as well? If you have a light week and only have an hour of homework a night, that adds up to another 6-hour school day. The recommended amount of homework for our age is three hours a day. That’s 21 hours a week. An extra three days of school. That’s right, people; we’re doing school work almost eight days a week! 61 hours a week spent on school. That’s one third of our week, at school. A little excessive maybe? Considering the average work week is 40 hours that does seem like a little much.
Teenagers and people under the age of twenty in general have short attention spans, so if you have them doing the same thing 60 hours a week for twelve straight years, it might get a little tedious. That’s why people enjoy university so much. It’s such a change of pace and style that they can enjoy learning again, as well as getting plastered out of their minds. If high school was something other than going to school, sitting in a cramped desk, and listening to a teacher for 50 minutes before moving on to the next class, then maybe we wouldn’t hate it so much.
We’re all aware that school is essential and that it’s impossible to live a decent life without spending your youth locked in an institution for at least 14 years. If only things could freshen up every year or so. The only major transition I remember was going from cubbies to lockers in grade seven. Other than that, it’s been the same thing year after year. The only difference would be more work, which doesn’t exactly get people more excited about school.
The bottom line is that kids are always going to hate school as long as it continues to cut into their free time and offers nothing new and exciting for them to do. Classes like English Media and Writer’s Craft are popular because they take a different approach to school, and we enjoy it. Until something drastic happens no one can expect us to enjoy our time there, but I ask the students to make an attempt. In classes like Design and Technology where students have fun in a relaxed atmosphere, you get hardly any complaints. Relaxed and laid back is what everyone in school should have in mind, because life is stressful enough.
-Chris Quinn

Contemporary Women’s Magazines: Harmful or Harmless?

When Helen Gurley Brown reinvented a struggling cosmopolitan magazine in 1965, her intention was not to remake society-her goal was to make money. Now, 38 years later, Miss Brown’s magazine is still around, still making money, and its role in modern society is still being debated. Some think of Cosmopolitan as a corporate sellout that has done nothing but perpetuate the maltreatment of women. Others see it as a liberating force that has done more for women than many of the other publications that have held themselves out as the champions of feminism.
Among the countless (and many would say mindless) women’s magazines that are now on the newsstands, Cosmo is one of the most popular. It is described as the magazine for “ fun, fearless females.” With its racy headlines, makeup and hair tips galore, and the trendiest in fashion, it’s a “must-have” for women in modern society.
At the same time, many people find the marketing that goes along with Cosmo disturbing. They believe it sells a shallow, Barbie-girl culture to vulnerable young women. This brings us to the question; do these magazines simply provide us with entertainment, or do they distort reality?
With the eating disorders and depression that are faced by many young women today, it’s easy to point our fingers at magazines like Cosmopolitan. With headlines such as, “Be your SEXIEST!” and “15 Brand-New Ways to Meet a Guy!” the magazine would appear to be an example of brainwashing commercialism. But does Cosmo have the power to shape women’s beliefs? Or is it simply a harmless, neutral distraction?
Some believe that Cosmo’s power is all too real. In Singapore, it was only recently returned to magazine racks after being banned for 21 years because of its “unhealthy values.” The Capital City’s censorship committee claimed that by outlawing Cosmopolitan they were “protecting the young from unsuitable content and respecting racial and religious sensitivities.”
Cosmopolitan has never been accused of being overly intellectual. The issues it deals with are generally limited to the likes of “Date Him or Dump Him?” and its whopping page count (a typical issue is about 350 pages) is heavily weighted toward advertising. These advertisements are geared directly towards the magazines’ target demographic – young women.
The most heavily-advertised products are makeup, clothing and dieting pills. The magazine steers clear of serious issues like politics or international relations. It also seems to avoid a subject that would seem like a natural for its audience - colleges and universities. Cosmo’s coverage of the field is generally limited to articles that stick to its proven formula – like how to deal with “Freshman 15” weight gain, and how to look bright-eyed after pulling an all-nighter.
So is this a bad thing? For women living hectic, stress-filled lives in which they’re forced to deal with significant issues on a regular basis, a little mindless fun can be a good thing. In this sense, Cosmo can be considered in the same light as movies or pro sports, which typically offer nothing more than a few hours of escape. Who can be condemned for that?
People don’t always want to be challenged. We spend our days at school writing, reading, and being preached to about the importance of our work and how important it is to our future. For some, mindless reading is the perfect end to a busy day.
Everything provided by our ever-present media must be taken with a grain of salt. So next time you pick up an issue of Cosmopolitan, have fun reading, but keep in mind that following the rules in their Dating Diary probably won’t, like, totally, like, guarantee you a date.
-Catie Cheney

The Freedom Party?

Recently, candidates for the Davenport riding visited Oakwood and told us a bit about their parties’ policies and platforms. Present were the mainstream Progressive Conservative, New Democratic, and Liberal candidates, as well as the Green Party and Freedom Party aspirants. In the comfort of their own school Oakwoodites were exposed, many for the first time, to potential MPP’s.
For many, the highlight of the assembly was the question period, when students were allowed to subject the candidates to any questions they were bold enough to ask. Humorous as it was, the question period was a valuable and rare opportunity. In fact, it may well have been the last opportunity for students to interrogate their possible provincial parliamentary representatives. Selected questions were answered, albeit indirectly, at the end of the presentation, at which point the Candidates had two minutes to give a brief overview of their platforms.
One presentation in particular caught my attention: that of the Freedom Party. The Davenport candidate, Franz Cauchi, gave a very informative speech on his party and the apparent ‘freedom’ it offers. The Freedom Party’s agenda calls for the immediate and total privatization of every social service in the province. Cauchi explained the benefits of this system in his 120 second speech with seriousness and utter belief. He elucidated that people paying only for wanted services in the province made significantly more sense than public funding by the government. He stated that if families were able to keep more of their money, and not have to pay exorbitant taxes, they could afford to live the kind of life they would like to live. On the surface, all seems well and good with their seemingly flawless platform.
Here are some facts: in the United States, which has privatized healthcare, the number- one cause of personal and family bankruptcy is medical expenses. Families lose their houses from paying hospital bills. That’s privatized healthcare for you. In Canada, we never pay a dime for even the most convoluted medical procedures; healthcare is free. Obviously, our system is better, but in the event that the Freedom Party should be put into power, we could all start expecting medical bills to arrive in the mail.
Our education system, which is currently circling the proverbial drain, would be decimated by privatization. The only people who would pay for the education system are the parents of children who go to school, and even they would only give money to the school their child or children attended. This would account for a huge drop in funding for the schools, and would leave us, the students, in a highly neglected learning environment, even more so than we are in today.
The truth is that total privatization would allow the rich to prosper at the expense of the non-rich. With minimal taxes, as offered by the Freedom Party, the wealthy would be allowed to keep most of their money, and still afford the same services they have always received. The non-wealthy would be faced with mountains of bills and modest salaries to pay them. It would be enough to send a large percentage of the middle class into bankruptcy.
Sure, an Ontario governed by the Freedom Party would be very attractive to businesses, but what is commerce without a large consumer market? Employees would be living from pay cheque to paycheque, concerned about a child’s four thousand dollar tonsillectomy bill, and how to pay for that same child’s third grade education. Essentially, total privatization would destroy our province economically and socially.
The ‘Freedom’ Party is simply a euphemism for ‘Ultra-Conservative’ Party, without the stigma associated with the word ‘ultra-conservative.’ I won’t, but history can teach you a few lessons about this form of government, and also why this party, for the good of the Province, should never come into power.
- Kevin O’Mahony

United We Stand?

Oakwood prides itself on being a multiculturally diverse school that sets an example for peaceful relations between people of different ethnicities. With no hate crimes or visible tension to report, it would appear that this accepted truth is a reality. Once the surface is scratched, however, a very different set of circumstances appears. With a Unesco year already underway, it’s time for Oakwood students to take an honest look at their school and ask: are we united?
With a school as diverse as Oakwood, it is understandable that people from similar backgrounds find common ground and stick together. Preserving different cultures in this way is very important, but when does celebrating diversity become segregation?
When asked if Oakwood had a problem with racial segregation, one student of mixed heritage replied, “I’d say that we’re diverse in a way, but we are separated. There are main cliques [but] there are places you can go where there aren’t.” She was referring to the fact that there are many diverse groups of friends at Oakwood that don’t really take race into account when building friendships.
The fact that there are such connections at Oakwood should not be overlooked. As it is, there are quite a few opportunities for Oakwood students from different ethnicities and walks of life to reach common ground.
Breaking Down the Barriers aimed to create such an opportunity. Breaking Down The Barriers used to be an annual educational event held at Oakwood that involved a week of workshops on a variety of topics. Originally the organizers of the event, Students and Teachers of Oakwood for Peace (S.T.O.P.), focused on issues such as homophobia and racism. Open dialogue among students was encouraged and Ms. Lemberg, the chief organizer, had much to say about the results.
“For many years, students have complained, in various forms, about the various cliques that seem to be based on cultural groups,” she stated. “The issue of the different doors representing different groups has been problematic for a long time. In fact, at several sessions of Breaking Down the Barriers, it has been cited as the number one school problem, ”she continued. “However, I think that we have seen students from a number of backgrounds brought together in a very unique way on a number of occasions such as Unesco, Theatre ’55, in athletics , and even [during group work] in the classroom.” Ms. Lemberg believes that students and teachers should work together to better the situation.
>>Continued from pg. 8
One grade twelve female student disagrees. “I think the teachers and staff can’t do anything,” she said. “It’s something the students have to encourage [and they have to be] equally accepting of each other. I definitelys think there’s a problem.” After speaking about her relationship with someone from a different background, she admitted that “some of his friends were weird about it.”
The Student Council forms the bridge between the students and teachers of Oakwood. One Caput representative said, “No matter where you go, there will be people with prejudices they’ve learned their entire lives, but I don’t think we as a whole [at Oakwood] have a problem. There’s voluntary segregation. People stick to their own. I don’t know if that should be addressed, if that’s how people feel comfortable. I think Caput has a responsibilty to [ensure] school unity and school spirit, but we can’t fix the entire world with a big Caput ‘band-aid’”. Unesco has been hailed as a wonderful opportunity to unite people by celebrating the differences between people of different cultures. It is a bi-annual concert that Oakwood students organize to showcase different cultural dances and traditions, as well as individual talents of people from different ethnic communities. The main participants in the performances are members of Oakwood’s numerous cultural clubs. Whether or not it brings the school community together as it claims to, this seems to be the hope of Stephanie Scardellato, the student in charge of organizing Unesco this year. “We’re a really segregated school, but we have so much potential,” she began. “So if we could get together, [it would be] amazing, [as we have] so much to learn from each other, ” she continued. “Unesco’s all about sharing culture. There’s nothing better than coming in and seeing people from the East Indian Club teaching people from the Greek Club, or vice versa. The mesh of cultures is unbelievable and you don’t see it anywhere else in our school.” Stephanie’s main goal is to see “people branching out of their usual social circles and not looking at faces, but looking at what they can learn [from each other] instead”.
Having strong cultural groups at Oakwood calls their exclusive nature into question. Afro-Can, for example, is one of Oakwood’s most prominent cultural groups and one of its strongest traditions. It has been criticized by some students who are not of African-Canadian descent, most of whom have graduated, as being exclusive. Many felt that there was a token invitation extended to people from all backgrounds, even though they were not truly welcome, as they could not share in the same history. Whether or not this wide-spread perception was based on reality is difficult to determine.
When asked about this perception, Revolon Allen, a member of Afro-Can’s executive said, “I don’t think it’s true because anybody can join if they like to.” Many students agreed that this year’s Afro-Can executive, consisting of mostly younger members, seems to be changing the idea that all are not welcome.
Ms.Agard, one of Oakwood’s vice principals, thinks that the teachers’ strikes three years ago contributed to this idea. The students who are currently in twelfth grade started ninth grade with no extra-curricular activities. She said that it was difficult to get students involved in school activities after ninth grade, if they hadn’t already started taking the initiative. The result of this was that students from different backgrounds in that grade didn’t get a chance to connect based on common interests other than culture. When asked whether Oakwood has a problem with segregation, she said that she didn’t believe so, but if any of the students thought so, it should certainly be addressed. She had a series of questions she thought Oakwood students should ask themselves, such as: Is it a problem that people spend time with people from their own culture? She said that who you decide to spend time with depends on who you are as an individual. “Is there pressure to form groups based on culture? Is that an issue? Is segregation happening in the classroom?” she asked. “I’d be concerned if people felt excluded or intimidated because they’re from a different background.”
The fact of the matter is that whether or not Oakwood is inclusive and united, it is up to the students to decide whether there is an issue at hand that needs to be dealt with and if so, how that is to happen. It seems that with the younger students of Oakwood getting involved, the school’s extra-curricular environment is picking up once again with full force. This may be the best way to ensure unity within the school, but it is important to know where we stand today. With a UNESCO year focused on multiculturalism, it would seem that the timing is right to reassess. Perhaps having a celebration of music from around the world will allow us to dance to the same rhythm, once again. -Inês Ribeiro



Logos in School: Good or Bad?

Why Do Kids Hate School?

Do Women's Mags Hurt Self Image?

The Freedom Party?

United we Stand?
























































































































































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