Category Archives: Everest

Uniform schedule impacts students lives across Bay Area campuses this school year

By Evelyn Archibald and Judy Ly  

Editors-in-Chief

Denali senior William Torborg said it is hard for most students to stay focused for long durations. He pointed out that as a student with ADHD, it is harder for him to maintain concentration in class. 

“It’s not like, the most fun to sit through four and a half hours of class and then get a break,” Torborg said. 

In a majority of interviews, students echoed similar concerns in response to no longer having brunch as a form of a break in their daily bell schedule. 

For the 2019-20 school year, a new uniform bell schedule was introduced to students across all Summit schools in California.

Here is a Story Map of all the school sites mentioned in this article. 

One of the changes to the schedule included a new breakfast block before classes started. 

Replacing brunch with breakfast

Brunch, which previously acted as a 15-minute break, in the first portion of classes, was removed. Instead, breakfast was implemented before students start their first block of the day: Mentor Self-Directed Learning (SDL). This class aims to essentially be a study hall for students with their mentor groups. 

Summit Public Schools Superintendent Anson Jackson said the purpose of having classes back-to-back until lunch time, was to make sure teachers had a consistent schedule and workload. Students would in return have a more consistent flow from project to project and class to class, without disruption from a break in between.

“The idea [for students] is to minimize the changes throughout the day and minimize the breaks of cognitive load,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

Rainier Senior President Madelin Morales said she noticed less productivity happening in the classrooms without having a break in between classes. 

Rainier students walk back from the restroom as another student approaches it. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

“Kids have to use the restroom a lot more during — like during our regular classes, solely because, like, during our break, or what we used to have as brunch, a lot of people use that time to use the restroom,” Morales said. “I definitely noticed a lot more students having to go, like one after another. And it doesn’t seem like they’re doing it just for fun, but they genuinely — because they have to.”  

Hailey Kaufman, a senior from Summit Prep, said her peers have been “losing focus” in class. 

“We’ve lost that break to kind of reset before our next class,” Kaufman said.  

According to Superintendent Jackson, another reason for having brunch removed was so students can start off their day with breakfast. 

A Prep student gets breakfast in the cafeteria before school starts. PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathan Garvin

“Adding breakfast as opposed to taking away brunch is kind of the idea; not to take away anything but to add something,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

However, Tahoma Executive Director Jonathan Stewart said the implementation of breakfast has not been effective on Tahoma’s campus. 

“We have fewer people taking breakfast in the morning than we did people taking brunch last year,” Mr. Stewart said. 

Calvin Andrews, who acted as the student body president for Summit K2’s 2018-19 school year, said brunch was more suitable for students. He explained that brunch allowed students to buy food items between classes, making it more accessible to students who showed up close or late to start time. 

K2 has also implemented a new lining up policy in which students need to line up at a certain area on campus before going to class. Andrews claimed this policy makes it harder for students to buy breakfast before school starts. 

K2 students start their school day by lining up. PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Kim

K2’s new Executive Director Cythnia Jerez said one of the goals of the lining up policy is to inspire students to get breakfast. 

She said, “Our campus is next to the field where students are, like, lining up. So that encourages, actually, them to actually go to the cafeteria and grab breakfast.”

Superintendent Jackson addressed this concern of students not arriving early enough to access meals and being hungry between classes and lunch. He said teachers are able to provide snacks to students near the end of the morning Mentor SDL block. However, teachers providing snacks is not a normalized standard across all campuses. 

“It’s not an expectation,” Superintendent Jackson explained, “but that is the flexibility of the time.”

By gathering input from local administration at school sites, Superintendent Jackson said drafts of the schedule were created. Later on, three proposed schedule structures were sent to teachers and faculty to gather feedback. 

In the initial drafts made by Summit Leadership (executive administration) and school-site-based administration (principals and deans), the focus was on the scheduling of Mentor SDL time and the structure of core class time. The switch from brunch to breakfast wasn’t included or discussed. 

However, he added that the idea of replacing brunch with breakfast was a joint decision between “school leaders” based off feedback and experiences on campus during brunch. 

“Adding breakfast to the schedule was not a part of that proposal at the time,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

There is a petition circulating to reinstate brunch, as a way to reinstate a morning break, at Rainier’s campus.  

Changes to lunch time

Lunch was altered as well, having the standard lunch time moved to be from 12:30 p.m. until 1:00 p.m. For campuses like Everest and K2, their lunch was shortened. 

Everest students pass through their hallways. PHOTO CREDIT: Molly Pigot

Everest senior Molly Pigot said the response to the reduction has been mostly negative. “Our lunch break was reduced from 45 minutes to 30 minutes, which I think a lot of students are really upset with.” 

For Summit Prep students, Kaufman said lunch is now later in the day than previously. 

Pigot mentioned the students at Summit Everest attempted to stage a walkout against the changes; however, they were met with faculty pushback and students were not allowed to participate.

The lunch break is now earlier for students at Tahoma, Denali, and Shasta compared to last year. 

Shared space concerns

Most Summit schools have their own facilities and campuses for students to attend; however, some school sites are co-located with another school. 

Ernesto Umaña, a middle school math teacher for Summit Tam, said the bell schedule did not heavily impact their shared spaces. Tam’s middle school and high school share a campus, blacktop and gym with Aspire Richmond California College Preparatory Academy. 

He also noted that Tam Middle School now has minimum days on Wednesdays, which has been received positively by students. 

However, in the South Bay, students at Tahoma and Rainier no longer have access to the blacktop area and basketball courts, previously shared with their home school, due to having coinciding lunch times. 

Tahoma students settle into their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Nethan Sivarapu

Mr. Stewart said Tahoma was already considering revoking the access to blacktop usage due to past student behavior issues. The new bell schedule caused Oak Grove High School’s blacktop to be an off-limit space as default. 

At Rainier’s campus students protested against the restricted blacktop usage and bell schedule changes. 

Edwin Avarca, former assistant director and current executive director at Rainier’s campus, said the reasons why Rainier students have to be separated from Mt. Pleasant’s campus are due to safety concerns in regards to student interaction in a shared space. 

Blacktop space and basketball courts are now off limits for Rainier students during their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

“That’s like a large concern that we have as a whole,” Mr. Avarca said, referencing each school’s administration. “How could they support if there’s a potential conflict? I think that that is the biggest concern is ensuring student safety if we’re sharing the blacktop at the same time.”  

Mr. Stewart also said Tahoma’s lunch on Wednesdays is scheduled from 1:10 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. because KIPP, the second school Tahoma is co-located with, has their lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays.  

Denali students slowly trickle in for the school day. PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Hu

By default, classes start at 8:20 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m. across all Summit campuses this school year. At Denali’s current high school campus, the school had to adjust their start time. Denali students start their classes at 8:35 a.m. due to an agreement with the City of Sunnyvale. 

Denali Executive Director Kevin Bock explained that the permit Denali has with the city allows for their campus to start no earlier than 8:35 a.m. There is an elementary school across from Denali, meaning the two schools need to stagger start times due to concerns regarding morning traffic. 

Denali students also have lunch at 12:45 p.m., 15 minutes past the default time. 

Continued debate about bell schedule changes

Superintendent Jackson said the Summit Public Schools leadership team prioritized the betterment of students and teachers on the job when creating the uniform bell schedule. 

Andrews disputes this claim, saying that in reality, the opposite effect is happening based on his experiences at K2. He explained that students’ lives can be very different when campuses range from Richmond to San Jose to Daly City. He continued to explain that life for students in Richmond differs greatly from their Summit peers in other cities. 

“We’re two different schools, from different backgrounds, from different economic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds, living in different areas where our lives are different,” Andrews said. “We all have different needs; we all have different wants; we all have things that are affecting us in different ways. And by Summit sort of putting us under an umbrella of, ‘Oh, this works at one school, it will work at another.’ It’s just not working.”  

Featured image at top: K2 students walk to their first class after lining up in the morning. PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Kim 

Denali Editor-in-Chief Ellen Hu contributed reporting to this article.

Related:

Schedule change at Summit Shasta affects students

Newly implemented schedule troubles Rainier teachers

BREAKING NEWS: Rainier students protest in response to new restricted blacktop usage during lunch break

Everest closes the year with its Celebration of Learning

By Molly Pigot and Karla Santana

Staff Editors 

As the school year is coming to a close, Everest Public High School is in the full swing of Expeditions and has just held the Celebration of Learning. This is an annual event held to demonstrate what students have done in their Expeditions courses and to award students who have proved that they are upstanding community members.

Students presented final products to teachers, faculty, parents and other students to show off what they accomplished over the year in their Expeditions courses. Classes like Cooking Fundamentals and Introduction to Visual Art had work displayed for attendees to observe what they could produce as a result of taking these courses.

Everest has a unique Celebration of Learning in that the presentation of student awards for core classes also occurs during this event. The combination of class presentations and awards reflects the celebration’s  spirit of celebrating student achievements in learning.

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Students of the Psychology course presented their “why do people…” projects during the Celebration of Learning. In this project, students seek out the answer to a question about why people do certain things. Topics ranged from “why do people murder” to “why do people sleep.” Students explore the science behind these human behaviors in this research-based project.

Students enrolled in the Independent Learning program shared what they have been working on all year in their courses. They prepared visual presentations to share their projects with other students, parents and faculty. The Independent Learning program allows students to explore their passions through Internships or self-directed projects.

“I really love the idea that students get to present their work at the end of the year,” one sophomore parent said. “Seeing what they spent the year working on is super rewarding.”

The awards ceremony that took place during the event is a tradition at the Everest Celebration of Learning. Core teachers present six Core Characteristic awards to their students to recognize the efforts students have made over the year. The Core Characteristic Awards each represent one of Summit’s core characteristics: respect, responsibility, integrity, compassion, curiosity and courage.

Other awards like the Expeditions Griffin Award and the Community Impact Award were presented to students who showed upstanding involvement in the Everest Community. Everest senior Jennifer Valencia received the Griffin award for her passion for journalism and how effectively she ran the course. Everest senior Ignatius Hayer’s engagement in the community and his influence at Everest earned him the Community Impact Award.

See below for a video about the Celebration of Learning at Everest:

Everest Photo Editor Karla Santana put together this video. Everest Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Valencia won the Expeditions award shown at the end of the video due to her leadership in the Advanced Multimedia Political Journalism course, which functioned as an Independent Study.

Botany will be offered as a new Expeditions course

By Molly Pigot

Everest Editor-in-Chief 

Coming to Expeditions in the 2019-20 school year will be Botany, a brand new course that will be offered at Everest and Rainier. It will be taught by current College Readiness teacher, Jane Rieder. This course offers a new type of learning experience for students interested in plants and Life Sciences.

Botany is the study of plants. Naturally, this course will feature learning about plants, their identity, structure, place of origin, etc, but it will also feature a lot of interesting off-campus learning experiences. This is a very hands-on course that is STEM-based. This class is similar to a biology course but provides a more in-depth understanding of plant life.

When explaining this course, Ms. Rieder stated, “I have been very passionate for a long time about having more STEM offerings in our Expeditions curriculum, and I’m hoping that this will be a part of that.”

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Botany teacher Jane Rieder

Ms. Rieder has a lot of experience in education, having previously taught math, Education Pathways and, most recently, College Readiness; however, she has an undeniable passion for Botany. She has put a lot of care and thought into this course, which will make this class all that more enjoyable.

Ms. Rieder reaffirmed her excitement, stating: “I love teaching; I love being in front of students; I love fostering people’s curiosity … planning for Botany has been really unique in that it’s [been] fun and I don’t want to stop.”

See below for a video about the new Botany course:

The last hurrah: Planning graduation

By Jennifer Valencia

Everest Editor-in-Chief

Graduating high school is something every high schooler dreams of throughout the four years. The rigorous process students must go through in order to achieve the goal of graduating high school is a long one.

Not only must students experience the confusion and emotional distress of experiencing high school, they must also grow up and find out what they want to do for the rest of their life. It might be a roller coaster, but having their loved ones be able to see them walk the stage is worth it all.

Currently, the seniors at Everest are on the road to graduating, which means preparing for the ceremony, ending the year on a high note and also being able to enjoy the last two months of high school.

Graduation will be on June 9 at the Sequoia Carrington Hall in Sequoia High School. The graduation ceremony has been there for the last seven classes.

There has always been the saying that high school flashes right before you, which is very true. In a short few weeks, the seniors will be committing to their college of choice where they will continue their journey.

The graduation committee at Everest is a group of parent volunteers, as well as some of the staff here at Everest. Students are also able to help as the date nears closer.

The buzz around the senior class is growing with excitement and nervousness as emails and talks begin to grow about graduation. Whether it’s for your ticket count or gown measurements, those communications make it clear to all that graduation is soon.

The ceremony includes speeches from different people at Everest: the director, a chosen Everest faculty member, a senior and every senior mentor. Something that is new this year is that the ceremony will be bilingual for Spanish-speaking families. 

Although Everest is a small school and the senior class is small compared to an “average” high school, that doesn’t mean that the ceremony is going to be any less eventful.

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Ana Lara, operations manager at Everest

Someone who is a big part of the planning of the ceremony is the Everest Operations Manager, Ana Lara. Ms. Lara has worked at Everest for two years now and has previously mentored a group of seniors.

Ms. Lara has worked closely with everyone  who is a part of the planning committee. When talking about all of the emotions leading up to graduation, she said, “Students seem to be excited and are looking forward to graduation. They’re looking forward to early release, Prom and senior trip. The excitement continues both from faculty and students as college acceptances are coming in.”

The fact that Everest is a bit different from a traditional high school means that the process of such an important ceremony might also be a bit different. Ms. Lara explained that this graduation compared to others is “a bit more personalized to showcase the personality of our students.”

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Ignatius Hayer, Everest senior

Everest senior Ignatius Hayer is a part of the graduation committee. He has been a part of the entire process of planning this grand event. Not only is Hayer helping to plan graduation this year; he also did so last year.

When asked how the planning process has been going so far, Hayer responded, “We are very excited; this graduation is going to be the best yet. This year we decided to add some Spanish translation.”

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Jenny Macho, senior mentor

Jenny Macho is the AP English Literature teacher at Everest Public High School and is also a senior mentor. Ms. Macho spoke about the emotions leading up to graduation: “I would say there is a very wide range of emotion; obviously some people are really excited to move on from Everest. Coming from a small school where you know everyone and [have] been with the same people for four years, you can get sick of them.”

The excitement among the Everest seniors is clear as graduation moves closer. Graduation marks the end of a journey and the beginning of a new era. This will be the last time seniors get to be in a room with the classmates they have studied with, fought with and bonded with for the past few years. After that day, many will go their separate ways, never to see each other again.

Featured image (at the top of this post): Everest Executive Director Chris Lewine announces the newly graduated Class of 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Karla Santana

Related:

Planning Prom at a small school proves challenging

Planning Prom at a small school proves challenging

By Molly Pigot

Everest Editor in Chief  

In every high school, Prom is the event of the year. Often viewed as the “last hurrah” of the school year, students count down the days to this famed event, planning and prepping for months in hopes of crafting the perfect night. For many students, this includes getting the perfect dress, getting matching corsages and boutonnieres, or reserving a limo to arrive at Prom. But for a portion of the student population, planning the perfect night is very different.

The Everest Student Government has been working very diligently over the last few months in order to plan their Prom. For us, this event is the highlight of all of the hard work we have been doing over this past year; this is our time to shine. We have been putting in the hours to make sure that Prom is the best it can possibly be in our own attempt to plan the perfect night.

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Last year’s Prom was at the Glass House in San Jose. PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Shamaeva

 For such a small school though, this can be difficult. We do not have the same budget as a school like Sequoia or Carlmont, and so we have our work cut out for us. We are also planning a joint Prom with both Summit Prep and Summit Denali, which adds another element for us to plan. We will need all of our planning complete before our Prom date, which this year is May 4. 

The greatest difficulty we are dealing with is our budget. For the size of our schools, the budget is reasonable; we are estimated to have around 300 students at the event. The complications come when trying to have high-quality decorations and elements at Prom.

Student Government has been fundraising throughout the year for Prom, but with such a large price tag it is difficult to get all of the money we need on fundraising alone. By partnering with other schools, we can then expand our budget because we increase the number of attendants at the event. If we were to have a Prom for Everest alone, there would only be about 125 attendants.

With the budget we are working with this year, we are devoting most of it to the venue, which this year is the Marriott in San Mateo. Because of this, our spending limit on decorations and other items like a DJ or photos is more limited. This provides issues when trying to create a more luxurious appearing event to appeal to students. 

Marriott

This year’s Prom will be held at the Marriott in San Mateo. PHOTO CREDIT: Marriott

As Treasurer of Everest’s Student Government, I have been putting in my best effort to ensure that our Prom is classy and elegant on this budget. This isn’t the easiest task, as cheaper decorations can be low quality and can make an event seem cheap.

I want to ensure that our Prom is refined and that it reflects the effort and time we put in it – not the budget. Because of this, most of the time I put into planning this event is directed towards the decorations; they can make or break the event.

One main resource for our planning process has been Pinterest. This source has a multitude of uploads of cheap but high-quality ideas for decorations. Even with our theme, which is Casino, we have a countless number of options for decorations on this site. With these ideas in mind, we then take to sites like Amazon, which has affordable supplies to create the decorations we envision our Prom to have.

With these supplies that we purchase we will be making decorations such as large dice, centerpiece and card deck wall decor. I have been keeping track of the items we have been purchasing, concerning the price and the quantity of the items, so that we stay within budget.   

Fortunately, we have been prepared for specific situations like this! Past projects in our math classes have allowed us to get a first-hand experience with budgeting and event planning. By using these mathematical skills we learned in class, we are able to create budgeting plans that outline how much we can spend and not go over our limit.

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Ignatius Hayer, president of Everest’s Student Government

Everest Student Government President Ignatius Hayer said that planning on a small budget has been great as it has taught him ways to plan so that in college, when budgeting is tricky, he will know ways to save his money. He also said that he has learned a lot about how to use coupons and how there are many ways to purchase items for a portion of their original price.    

With a smaller budget though, it is difficult to live up to the expectations many students have about Prom. Larger schools in the area have big luxurious Proms, renting out venues such as San Fransisco City Hall, providing fun activities such as game tables and catering beverages from popular restaurants. These Proms are hard to be compared to as they have a much larger budget and a much larger group of attendees.

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Last year’s Prom featured this dessert spread.  PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Shamaeva

These Proms are also very difficult to plan. Venues like San Francisco City Hall often have to be booked about a year in advance and, with locations being farther away, travel fees become an issue.

Because of how expensive these large Proms are, students often have to pay upwards of $90 for tickets. That plus however much a student spends on their personal effects – clothing, hair, accessories, transportation – can make Prom a multi-hundred dollar event.

Having a smaller Prom is less stressful for the students. Not only are the tickets half the price of that of a large Prom, but the venue is closer and the number of attendees is smaller. It allows the students to focus more on themselves and worry less about transportation and paying for their tickets.

Everest senior Tyler Signorello, who attended both Everest’s and Carlmont’s Prom last year, said, “Although our Prom is smaller, you know a lot of people there and you see a ton of new faces when we combine with other schools, so it feels larger. At a school like Carlmont’s Prom, there are so many people, and there’s so much happening, it’s hard to focus on the moment. Either way, they are both really fun events.”

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Students dance at Prom last year. PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Shamaeva

There are many benefits to a smaller Prom, and I believe it works really well for our school considering how close our community is. Prom can be a very beneficial community event if it is executed properly. We want students to reminisce on this night, to think fondly of it and to remember how fun and beautiful it was.

Prom takes months to prepare for, and at times the planning seems grueling; but when the set day finally arrives, all of the stress will have been worth it when we finally get to see our perfect night all put together.  

Related:

The last hurrah: Planning graduation

Everest Student Government successfully hosts Winter Formal

By Molly Pigot

Everest Editor-in-Chief

Promoting leadership among students is very important to the culture of Everest. Because of this, programs such as Student Government are promoted to students. This program, run by AP U.S. History teacher, Emmalee Austin, allows students to take initiative in their school and allows for them to plan events such as Community Night, Winter Formal and Prom.

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Student Government Director Emmalee Austin PHOTO CREDIT: Jennifer Valencia Chavez

Ms. Austin outlined the purpose of student government as the opportunity to “be the leaders on campus and to plan and execute events for the school.”

Students are organized by roles such as president, vice president, and grade level representatives (this is not the extent of the list). Students were elected to these positions by Ms. Austin and other faculty members. The highest student position that can be held is president, which is currently filled by Everest senior Ignatius Hayer.

Hayer described that the class is meant to “engage the students and make them want to come to school.”

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Student Government President Ignatius Hayer PHOTO CREDIT: Marleth Giron

Student Government last worked on Winter Formal, which was held on Jan. 19 at Congregation Beth Jacob. Students worked together to fundraise, plan and eventually host Winter Formal. This is the second largest event Student Government plans for, with the largest being Prom.

In the past, Winter Formal has performed well. Students are often excited for events such as this. In the past, “it’s gone well,” explained Ms. Austin. As the supervisor, she planned Formal 2018, and now Formal 2019. Ms. Austin stated that in years past it has “went a little bit better because Formal wasn’t around Expeditions,” which has been causing some complications for Student Government.

An Everest senior who has attended Formal in years past said that the event “was a great social event to step out of your boundaries and to get to know new people.”

This year students have been planning this Winter Formal since the end of September. A major element of the planning process is fundraising. Students sell items like Candy Grams for holidays and Hot Chocolate to raise money for events. These small items really make a difference for student government and can quickly sell and accumulate a fair amount of funds.

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Small flyers were posted around the school to inform students of the event. PHOTO CREDIT: Molly Pigot

Candy Grams are Student Government’s favorite form of fundraising, as the student body gets the most involved in these sales. According to Public Relations Manager Nicola Self, Student Government had a goal to sell 35 Candy Cane Grams, and that goal was exceeded by 60 percent.

Currently, Student Government representatives are working on selling tickets. They have promoted sales with posters, emails, announcements, and classroom-to-classroom marketing. Even with all of these efforts, tickets sales are low. Both Ms. Austin and Hayer attribute the low sales to the Expeditions schedule.

When asked about complications with the planning process, Ms. Austin listed ticket sales: “Because it’s Expeditions.”

This is a unique case, as past Formals have been scheduled separately from Expeditions. With the majority of seniors off campus and students in unfamiliar schedules, ticket sales were lower than expected. The event almost canceled; however, Student Government increased marketing to avoid this.

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Everest seniors and AP Calculus teacher, Payton Hagyard, at Winter Formal PHOTO CREDIT: Molly Pigot

They started sending out more emails to students, started making announcements at the start of every lunch, and Student Government members went around to classrooms telling people to buy tickets.

An Everest student who will not be attending Formal attributed this decision to how “not many of [their] friends are going.”

Student Government, although disappointed with ticket sales, overcame other hurdles. Their perseverance through these issues shows that these students don’t give up and that they are more than capable of selling enough tickets and successfully hosting Winter Formal.

The media and mental health: A look at Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Emanuel Fernandez

Everest Opinion Editor

Soldiers who suffer from PTSD, such as Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chris Ferrell, are asked to make masks that reflect how they feel. Source: Department of Defense

Think of a particularly unfortunate moment that you’ve endured in your life. Maybe you felt rage, maybe pain or maybe even fear. Some people leave those types of circumstances with nothing but a burning memory of the past, whilst others aren’t so lucky.

For those people, the past endures, maintaining a vice-like grip on their life. They are haunted by a constant reminder of that event, either flashbacks or nightmares. This is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a mental ailment that is created by encountering a traumatic experience, such as, but not restricted to, acts of intense violence, accidents or deaths.

Symptoms

Source: Wikimedia.org

People who suffer from PTSD suffer from a range of various symptoms. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, these symptoms include re-experiencing trauma through flashbacks or nightmares, lack of emotion, insomnia, social phobia, being easily irritated or angered and an increased fight-or-flight reaction.

Source: Wikimedia.org

Emotionally, PTSD can also stimulate feelings of guilt and depression. When this occurs, people sometimes turn to substance abuse or self-harm. This, unfortunately, leads to suicidal thoughts, and, in extreme cases, actual death by suicide.

Treatment

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, therapy treatment for PTSD comes from two different types of therapy; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a blanket term of therapy that involves changing the thought patterns that disturb your life. Most of the basis for this type of therapy happens by talking through the traumatic event to find where your fears stem from.

Cognitive Processing Therapy, or CPT,  is a more scrutinous process of therapy. This process involves not only talking through your trauma but writing it out as well. The reason for this is to examine how you think about your trauma and find new ways to live with it.

Other forms of therapy include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR uses visual and audio stimulants whilst one remembers a traumatic event to think of something positive while you recount the event.

Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) is another type of therapy and another form of CBT. SIT consists of practicing breathing exercises and meditation to relax your mind and body.

The most common way to treat PTSD is through medication. The medications work to regulate the brain’s chemistry, so they are commonly prescribed to patients suffering from nightmares and constant states of fight-or-flight. These medications include Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, Sertraline and Venlafaxine.

The Mayo Clinic lists some more common medication that can be used if the symptoms are not as severe. Things such as anti-depressants and diazepam are commonly sought out medications for those affected by PTSD.

Treatment for PTSD might be fairly simple, but it also proves very effective if treated regularly. If you suspect that you or a loved one could be suffering from the effects of PTSD, seek help immediately.

The Reality of PTSD

To get an idea of what living with PTSD is like, I wanted to interview my neighbor, who saw extensive combat in the army. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, my neighbor fell ill and passed away early last year.

I was able to interview his daughter as a sort of character witness, as she lived next door to him and visited him often. Out of respect for the family and the daughter’s request for anonymity, I will refer to the daughter as “Jane” and her father as “the Gunnery Seargent.”

Source: Airman 1st Class Zoe Thacker, 45th Space Wing Public Affairs / Published June 27, 2018

“To be honest, the whole stereotype of being crazy and dangerous is a load of [garbage],” Jane stated. “ I’ve been to some of the support meetings he goes to, and everybody there were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”

The Gunnery Sergent experienced the Vietnam War first-hand. He developed PTSD from combat but had been managing it through therapy and medication.  I asked Jane about any symptoms he suffered: “He did have trouble sleeping, but it wasn’t as big of a deal because his doctor prescribed him pills.”

Jane also mentioned that he was jumpy at times: “ It’s mostly when there’s loud popping, like fireworks or anything that mimics gunfire. Other than that, he didn’t show any of the other signs they say that people like him show.” Although the Gunnery Seargent had to live with his condition, he seemed to have enjoyed life up until he fell ill.

Another form of PTSD is Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). According to the Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide, ASD is defined as trauma or stressor-related disorder with an onset three days to one month (direct exposure or indirectly experienced), characterized by intrusive memories, avoidance of associated stimuli, and changes in mood and arousal that impair daily functioning.

The effects of ASD are similar to those of PTSD, except they don’t have a lasting effect. They usually last only a while after the stress was experienced, whether it was first-hand or second-hand.

Last year, a group of masked assailants came to the front parking lot and assaulted a student. I will fully disclose now that I personally know the student assaulted and was assaulted that day for attempting to defend the student.

The only reason I bring up this story is that it happened in front of the school a little after we were dismissed, meaning almost half of the whole school was witness to the events that unfolded that day.

I asked another student, who will remain anonymous, how she felt after she witnessed the event. “At first, when I saw [the student] hit the ground, my hands began shaking badly, and my heart was racing.”

It was evident that she began to get a bit uncomfortable when I asked her these questions, and, being a part of the actual event, I didn’t blame her. “After the fight broke out, I got picked up to go home. Just as I left I saw the flashing lights of the police cars pulling up.”

“ I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sound of [the student]’s head hitting the pavement. For a few weeks after, that feeling of nervousness followed me closely; but, thank God, I got over it after a while.” I personally thanked the student for the interview and apologized for any discomfort that she felt.

The reason I included this story was that it gives an example of a form of PTSD that is not as severe but still affects people who witness a traumatic event.

Mental Health Stigma

According to the Mayo Clinic, stigma is classified as viewing someone or a group of people negatively because of distinguishing characteristic or personal trait. For people who suffer from mental illness, the stigma against them is fairly common.

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Stigma can be obvious or subconscious, meaning that the person portraying the stigma might or might not be aware that they are discriminating against people who suffer from mental illnesses. Most of the stigma that occurs against people with PTSD occurs because most people believe that sufferers of PTSD are volatile and dangerous.

Stigma can be particularly dangerous for those who suffer from PTSD, as fear of judgment will not only affect the sufferer’s confidence and emotional stability, it will also make them less likely to seek help as they don’t want to accept the fact that they suffer from a mental illness.

Suffering from PTSD can also put a person at a disadvantage when it comes to looking for work. Not only does this affect the sufferer’s emotions, but this also makes it difficult to live in general.

PTSD in the Media

The media’s skewed perspective on those who suffer from PTSD has caused common people to view victims of PTSD as crazy and dangerous. Although films and TV shows mainly contribute to this, news also plays a hand in creating stigma.

Most movies and TV shows we watch mainly portray soldiers as the sole sufferers from PTSD. While they do tend to portray PTSD symptoms accurately, they fail to realize that soldiers aren’t the only people susceptible to PTSD.

A recurring motif in the movies deals with veterans returning home from combat and suffering from PTSD. Again, the portrayal of the symptoms are accurate, yet they are sometimes exaggerated in the films to elicit a reaction from the audience. The exceptions to this list are “American Sniper,” and recently “Thank You For Your Service,” as these movies are based on real-life events.

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A few shows demonstrate veterans who suffer from PTSD and portray them as crazed, homicidal maniacs. One such example of this comes from Netflix exclusive show “The Punisher.” The character of Lewis Wilson in the show suffers from PTSD and seeks to return to combat after being discharged.

When rejected, he begins a crusade to fight for his Second Amendment rights. He takes his beliefs too far when he begins mailing bombs to various government agencies.

In a more recent and realistic case, the Thousand Oaks shooting is a prime example of the media’s stigma. The shooter was identified as Ian Long, a 28-year-old retired Marine Corps veteran. Long began opening fire at the Borderline Bar and Grill on Nov. 7 of last year. About 13 people were killed in the shooting, and the shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Questions about his mental state began to arise before all the facts were presented. Immediately, many began to cite PTSD as the motivating factor of the shooting and saying that this idea was further strengthened by the fact that the shooter claimed his own life afterward.

In the end, it’s important to remember that people with PTSD aren’t dangerous. They aren’t violent or time bombs that are waiting to explode; they are normal human beings like us. Instead of helping their symptoms get worse, why don’t we help them get better? Sometimes all a person needs is someone to talk to, so be slow to speak and ready to listen. Maybe they’re tired of being treated differently, so treat them as you would your friends. We all want to live easily, so why don’t we make life easier for each other?

Resources

If you or a loved one might be suffering from PTSD, seek help immediately by clicking one of the following links:

*PTSD Alliance.org: Information about what PTSD is and some signs to detect it. For Veterans, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1.800.273.8255.

*American Psychiatric Nurses Association: Resource with multiple links to follow about dispelling myths and treatment options.

*Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Signs and symptoms of PTSD and treatment options.

Featured image (at the top of this post): This image was provided by PlusLexia.com.

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