Understanding cultural appropriation

All cultures have meaningful practices. Some dances, chants, songs, food, or clothing may be more culturally important or meaningful than others. Some may be a form of tradition with purpose; something meant to directly connect with the culture it derives from, such as a specific ceremony or ritual. For the populations involved with these meaningful traditions, the reason, place, or manner in which they are done is what makes the tradition important and sometimes sacred to a certain culture. Meanwhile, a certain pattern in fabrics may be popularized in one culture, eventually catching on and becoming a part of worldwide pop culture. This could vary from the use of specific colors, to spices, slang, dance moves, or music. These simple interests are much less important to specific cultures, and while they may have been derived within a culture, they are not used to define it. When an aspect of a culture moves from secluded ethnic tradition to world wide popular culture, this is known as a transition from folk to pop. During a transition from folk to pop, it is important to recognize whether this aspect making the transition holds significant cultural value, or is merely what is considered fashionable to a certain culture. This distinction will determine whether or not some significant aspect of the tradition is being lost in that transition.

The rise of a meaningful tradition into pop culture is often referred to as cultural appropriation. When this kind of culture is brought mainstream, its value is often lost in translation, as it is being used for its aesthetic appeal rather than for its original purpose. Someone who is not part of the derivative culture will tend to disregard the cultural meaning and importance in whatever they are participating in, whether that be makeup and jewelry or song and dance. This can be considered offensive, with many people feeling as if their culture has been taken advantage of. More often than not, the perpetrators are white westerners who see the beauty in the object, but don’t understand it’s importance, origin, and culture.

However, not all inter-cultural influence can be called cultural appropriation. People around the world gain influence from other cultures all the time, and without this, we would have significantly fewer cultures than we do. The difference between a meaningful tradition and a mere interest can be unclear, leading some to believe that the use of a common design from another country would be cultural appropriation somewhere else. People immigrate, emigrate, and gain knowledge along the way, spreading their knowledge and increasing spheres of influence. However, it must be noted that the lines that define cultural appropriation, where it begins and ends, are wildly blurred and debated.

At the moment, arguments surrounding cultural appropriation are so varying in subject and intensity that to try to stage a one-woman discussion here would prove both useless and confusing. But what’s important is to understand what is considered offensive and what is not, in what environment, and why. Sharing cultures is a way in which societies grow and change, and learning how to respectfully engage with multiple cultures will help to ensure a more knowledgeable future.


By Maeve Cawley

Assistant editor

My experience with NHS AP classes

As students begin to finalize their 2019-2020 class schedules, I find myself answering endless questions regarding the classes I’ve taken, and my thoughts on them. To save some time, I figured I’d write about the difficult classes I have taken during my high school career.

Freshman year is for the most part obstacle free. The only thing that gives most freshmen trouble is Biology. Whether you take Honors or CP, people tend to have a difficult time. With the level of academic rigor in the middle school seeming to be on a decline, students come into freshman year without really knowing how to study. Over my years of studying and tutoring, I find that the trick is a very well kept secret known by the teachers as “the textbook”. While I was guilty of textbook skimming just as many other freshmen before me, I have found that reading the actual chapter, answering the book questions, and studying Quizlet is enough to get one through the class.

Sophomore year was more difficult for me as I decided to take Honors English, Honors Chemistry, and AP Biology. Though the textbook tends to do the trick with chemistry much like it did with biology, chemistry is more difficult because it consists of more application and less memorization. Mr. Gregorich’s patience, passion for teaching, and depth of knowledge made chemistry a breeze. I recommend Honors Chemistry to anyone who feels like science comes easily to them, or those not so comfortable, but willing to pick up the book.

My first AP Biology test was also the first test I ever failed. AP Biology was no joke. Mrs. Macdonald was tasked with teaching a group of hooligans some very in-depth biology which was very different from the simple memorization of Honors Biology. This was also the first year I was introduced to “Mastering”. Mastering Biology is an online compilation of biology practice that is tedious, and plentiful. Had it not been for the help of Jennifer Lamb, many of my classmates, myself included, may not have made honor roll. AP Biology is no walk in the park. I recommend the class to anyone who found honors biology less than challenging; It also helps if you are able to appreciate and reciprocate Ms. Mac’s banter.

Honor’s English II with Ms. Martineau was a great experience. The class kept us busier than I had expected but allowed us to explore and analyze literature. With fast-paced social media conditioning us for a quick reward, I find that students are victim to ever-shortening attention spans. I recommend Honors English to students who have the attention span to read, and the drive to do plenty of group work on your reading.

When Junior year rolled around, I decided to take AP Chemistry, AP Lang, and AP US History. AP Chemistry was much more difficult for me than AP Biology. While biology is all conceptual, chemistry is full of application. Mastering Chemistry was absolutely brutal, especially if you are a habitual procrastinator like myself. However, it was against all odds among my favorite classes in high school. The difficulty of the class meant that only those who excelled at chemistry and wanted to be challenged found themselves in the class. I will reiterate that Mr. Gregorich is like wicked smaht. With a good group of kids and a teacher who knew what he was talking about inside and out, the class was a great time. I recommend AP Chemistry for students who are up for a challenge and found Honors Chemistry intuitive. It is not for the faint of heart, but the brutality of Mastering was overshadowed by a great group of people to do it with.

AP Lang has some pros and cons. While the reading was a little more boring than the literature I was used to, Ms. Edzwald really knows how to prep you for an AP Exam. The class also teaches you how to effectively persuade your reader which is an extremely valuable skill. Like all high-level English classes, you have to be willing to do the reading, but the class was not as difficult as I had expected it to be.

APUSH has recently undergone a change in management, so I don’t have very much relevant feedback to give regarding the class. As someone who has no affinity for history, I found that as far as AP Classes go, APUSH is pretty easy. If Henry Dupont can pass the AP Exam with a general disinterest in U.S history, anyone can.

Senior year is kind of brutal, but as long as you get started on college applications early and fend off senioritis to the best of your ability, you should make it out OK. This year, I decided to take AP Literature and AP Calculus. AP Literature is difficult, but it is an absolute gift. During senior fall, reading Crime and Punishment while grinding out college applications is absolutely murderous. However, Ms. Phaneuf is so insightful and passionate about literature that the reading is most definitely worth it.

AP Calculus, much like AP Literature is difficult but doable. Over the year you are tasked with mastering the entire Khan Academy AP Calculus AB Mission which consists of 163 different skills. You only need to master a handful of concepts in order to succeed in Calculus, and Dr. Williams does a great job of turning hooligans into elite mathematicians. Procrastination is not your friend in AP Calc, but I would recommend the class to anyone who can easily apply new mathematical concepts well.

The bottom line is that AP Classes are tough. Colleges like to see rigor, but doing poorly in an AP class looks far worse than doing well in an honors class. I decided to take a handful of AP Classes, but I got into the same colleges as people with fewer AP’s than myself and people with more. Take the AP’s that interest you, and skip those that don’t.


By Henry Dupont


Computer-based testing is unnecessary

Last month, the Nantucket Public School system introduced a computer-based version of the English MCAS for high schoolers, and in May they will take the Math section. As the son of a bookseller, I feel an instinctual aversion to any shift from paper to technology; however, as a “young’n”, I also feel a bit of excitement when it comes to integrating technology into our daily lives. Despite these conflicting emotions, that latter feeling sputters out when it comes to the classroom. As much as I love using technology for mindless distractions when I should really be doing Khan Academy, I have found that physical paperwork eventually incites the most thought-provoking and meaningful work, which is ultimately the goal of a productive classroom. Not only that, but according to The Scientific American, “Whether they realize it or not, people often approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.”

Say you were to eat a nice turkey dinner on a theoretical table made entirely of M&Ms. A ridiculous hypothetical, I know, but hear me out. Yes, the turkey dinner may appear more sustaining, but there is still an ever-present subconscious desire to have a bite of the sugary, chocolatey M&Ms — at least for me. This same idea could be applied to taking a test on a computer. We have used computers in our daily lives so often for the sole purpose of quick, easy, immediate pleasure, that even if we were to use them for a serious purpose such as taking a test, we will still have that subconscious association of the computer with that dopamine rush, thus further distracting us from the topic at hand. Of course, that is my personal speculation, and the turkey dinner analogy man must first be steadily consuming M&Ms before sitting down to eat this dinner in order to establish a predisposition equivalent to everyday technology use, but my point still stands.

Approaching such a critical part of your transition to higher education with unfamiliar circumstances would no doubt affect performance, but that is not my only problem with computer-based testing. Not only are scores lower on average upon first exposure to online examinations, but according to the New York Times, “Closer study has shown that scores drop only among students who do not use computers for everyday schoolwork, said Tracy Weeks, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association.” I believe that there is already a systemic problem with obtaining resources for preparing for tests such as the SAT, and the introduction of crucial practice methods that may not be available to all students will certainly negatively target those who may not have such access.

Sure there is probably some part of me that is a grumpy old man who is already indulging in the “back in my day” colloquialism that we all know and love, but I do think there is a certain virtue in picking up a physical piece of text and interacting with it tactically. Furthermore, if the abandonment of such virtues has the potential to negatively impact a student’s progression into the next steps of their journey into the adult world, I see no reason to deviate.


By Owen Hudson


Los Frijoles Mágicos

Quim se sentio alli,

en el restaurante Somnia Truites,


esperando el jilipoya,

Le habia dicho a venir a las nueva,
Pero ya paso la hora 10 y aun no estaba;
Pero no habia esperado si no fuera algo importante,
Se levanto a caso de los nervios y caminaba.


A las 11 llego en caballo Pero no llevaba el tesoro

“Que pasa hombre, donde esta el bueno,” Quim le Digo. El cabron lentamente se dis- mounto el caballo y se acerco.
Se acerco hasta que estaba nariz a nariz y digo,

“Es historia larga, pero los tengo.”
Se sentio y saco un cigarro.

Lo encendio. Tomo unas chupadas.

“Tengo los Frigoles Magicos, Y manana, matamos a el presidente.”


Spanish Poem

By Estookie

Problemas con la frontera de Trump

El reciente Presidente de los Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, está en proceso de tener el permiso de construir el muro sobre la frontera. Lo que le impide lograr esta construcción es la falta de dinero y la falta de votos a favor por parte de algunos legisladores. Donald Trump hizo un cierre parcial en el gobierno en Diciembre. El gobierno suspendió los servicios públicos y causó que los empleados públicos no trabajan por una cierta cantidad de tiempo sin recibir su pago. Esto afectó a más de 800,000 trabajadores gubernamentales. El Presidente Trump tomó la decisión de hacer este cierre para presionar a los demócratas a dar los fondos para el muro, que se estiman en unos 5.7 billones de dólares. Por esta razón, el gobierno fue cerrado parcialmente. Esto causó muchas inconveniencias para trabajadores federales y personas retiradas del gobierno. Brock Long, el administrador de la Federal Emergency Management Agency, dijo “También quiero dejar en claro que no hay mayor prioridad que garantizar, para aquellos que faltaron a los cheques de pago, que les paguen lo más rápido posible.” Presidente Trump, y sus legisladores, tienen hasta el 15 de febrero para recibir ayuda financiera de billones de dólares de la partida Republicana, ya que la partida Democrática a negado en ayudar a financiar el muro fronterizo. El precio aproximado para construir el muro es de $25 billones de dólares. Hasta en este momento, el gobierno tiene aproximadamente 700 millas de muro y vallas alrededor de toda la frontera. Algunas de las cercas sobrepasan los 10 pies y están localizadas en lugares más poblados. Estas cercas son especialmente para las personas que intentan entrar a los Estados Unidos caminando. Pero, aun así hay personas que logran subirse sobre las cercas o pasarse por en medio de ellas. Hay otros tipos de barreras más pequeñas en altitud pero más difíciles de cruzar. Estas barreras son para los vehículos que intentan cruzar la frontera. Aparte de eso, hay más de 16,000 agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza sobre San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso, Big Bend, Del Rio, Laredo, y El Rio Grande Valley. Al construir una nueva barrera, al gobierno y a Trump les costaría 40 millones de dólares por cada mil millas y 50 pies de alto. No es la primera vez que un presidente le pide al congreso que le ayude con los fondos para construir el muro. Por ejemplo, algunos presidentes que han hecho un esfuerzo de construir un muro para tener mejor seguridad en el país incluye George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Con el muro, el número de inmigrantes ilegales en los Estados Unidos podría disminuir y la economía del país se reduciría considerablemente. Los inmigrantes ilegales pagan miles de millones de dólares en impuestos, compra de bienes y servicios, y también mejoran la productividad estadounidense en sectores como la agricultura. Un estudio, por el Instituto Cato, concluyó que la economía interna caerá de manera exagerada, aproximadamente de 1.5 a 2.6 billones de dólares en una década. Desde el año 2000, el número de inmigrantes huyendo a los Estados Unidos ha disminuido un 82 por ciento debido a las barreras en la frontera. También se informa que Donald Trump planea confiar en una ley, Ley Del Cerco Seguro 2006, como fuente de autoridad legal para el muro. Presidente George W. Bush, el creador de la Ley Del Cerco Seguro 2006, dijo en 2006: “Esta ley ayudará a proteger al pueblo estadounidense. Esta ley hará nuestras fronteras más seguras. Es un paso importante hacia la reforma de inmigración.” El Presidente Donald Trump no dejará de batallar por la seguridad del país, aunque muchos han estado opuesto a sus ideas.


By Daniela Diaz

Spanish editor