Ventura brings awareness to disabled community at DD Advocacy and Awareness day

Originally published on thecspn.com

Students arounds around the state of Ohio stood up to make their voices heard, and among them was an outstanding student from Mason High School.

On March 8, senior Jose’ Ventura represented Warren County at the Developmental Disability (DD) Advocacy and Awareness Day. This annual event is funded by a grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (ODDC) and was held at the Ohio statehouse. At the event, the attendees spoke to senators and heard speeches from students and from Governor John Kasich.

Ventura said the purpose of the event was to make the government aware of the importance of funding services and facilities for disabled people.

“We talked to one of the (senators) about transportation for the advocacy group,” Ventura said. “(We also talked about) people who need transportation for their disabilities and medicaid waivers.”

This is Ventura’s first year going, and he said he enjoyed seeing his peers both within and outside his group.

“It was my first time, and it was awesome to be there,” Ventura said. “Each of the counties had some people there to represent them, (and) most of the people from the advocacy group that I’m in were there.”

Ventura said one thing that inspired him was hearing about how one student was able to play guitar and show that having a disability does not put a limit on what someone can do.

“There was one boy who gave a speech who also learned to play guitar and is in a band,” Ventura said. “(He played) two songs on his guitar, but he told us how he achieved getting there. He mostly did it by himself, but he also had parent (support).”

Work Study and Transition Coordinator Keri Thompson said the underlying purpose of the event is to educate the people who can help the individuals who are disabled by providing funding.

“The purpose is just to show that people with disabilities can do anything they want to do; it’s just that they may need some support to get there,” Thompson said. “And that was the whole point: To try to make sure the policy makers and the people in charge of funding realize that those policies and that money does go to do some good things.”

Thompson said she is proud of Ventura for attending and taking initiative at the conference.

“We’re very proud of Jose’ representing us there,” Thompson said. “He did a great job, and he approached Governor Kasich on his own and said, ‘Hey can I get a picture with you?’ So that’s a pretty big deal that he actually sought him out for a picture.”

Pasta for pennies campaign continues; Nerf Madness raises money for cause

(Originally published on thecspn.com)

Forget about March madness, Nerf Madness is where everyone’s at.

On February 10, Mason students gathered in the Mason Intermediate 45 gym for National Honor Society’s annual event Nerf Madness to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Co-advisor Sheila Nimer said that this is their third year doing Nerf Madness, which was created by Connor McCormic, Jackson Brown, Sam Wendell, Dylan Bryant, Carver Nabb, and Connor Bryan.

Nimer said that this event raises money for a good cause in an interesting and fun way.

“I just think it’s a different way to get groups of people together and just another way to raise money for a great cause,” Nimer said. “Instead of asking for donations, it’s having fun, but the money goes to something near and dear to our hearts in Mason.”

NHS President Nathan Rodrigues said that they beat their turnout goal of 50 teams and beat last year’s total of $2,200.

“We had 75 teams, which is the most we’ve had ever,” Rodrigues said. “We’ve already exceeded everything we’ve done in the past, and we’re really excited about it.”

Junior Naren Singh said that he’s excited to compete with the school in a fun way after all of the work done during the school day.

“It’s a pretty big event,” Singh said. “So being able to compete in groups and having so much fun on a Friday while still doing schoolwork is pretty cool.”

Junior Lorayne Perez said that she and her friends are excited to try something new and become closer as a group.

“(We’re excited) for the new experience and to be closer and have more fun as a group,” Perez said.

Perez said that she was surprised to see that some of the people at the event were not high schoolers.

“I thought there were going to be less people,” Perez said. “I thought it was going to be just high school, so it’s a lot of people.”

Rodrigues said that he enjoys seeing the community come together and have fun while still supporting an important cause.

“My favorite part of Nerf Madness is getting to see the entire community come out and have fun while the money goes for a good cause,” Rodrigues said. “Basically anyone coming from the intermediate school all the way up to senior year (can come).”

Pasta for Pennies campaign continues; collection week gears up

The school is rallying together to save lives.

National Honor Society will be raising money February 6-10 during the Pasta for Pennies Class Collections campaign. While it is only the society’s 16th year doing the fundraiser, Mason High School has been doing class collections for over 20 years. Co-advisor Barb Shuba said proceeds from the week’s competition go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for childhood cancer research.

“Everything that we generate goes back to the Leukemia & Lymphoma organization, which is to promote childhood cancer education and research, ” Shuba said. “(Class collections) pit class against class, and the winning class gets and Olive Garden luncheon. The main reason for that is that the owner of Olive Garden’s son or daughter has Leukemia, and that’s his way of giving back to the organization.”

Every year, Shuba said students and faculty donate approximately $30,000 throughout the entire Pasta for Pennies campaign. Last year, NHS was able to raise over $60,000, but almost half of the proceeds came from their Lip Dub, which brought in donations from outside sources, including other countries, but Shuba said the society will not have the Lip Dub as a source of donations this year.

Co-advisor Deedee Messer said they don’t set dollar amount goals for fundraisers like this, because they do not want to take away from its underlying purpose.

“We never have a dollar amount (goal), because we never want to focus on the money as the main reason behind what we’re doing,” Messer said. “We tell the kids that we just want all of our events to be successful, we want students to have fun that are participating in those events, and whatever dollar amount we come up with is what we come up with that year.”

Senior co-chair Sharanya Vojjala said the money from last year was able to save a life, and she hopes that the app created last year will help bring in proceeds this year.

“Last year with the money that we got, we saved one kid’s life with the money that we raised, ” Vojjala said. “This year we have an app that students can download to check their standings and download on the website. It’ll just help our school in the competition (and raise more money for)  cancer research.”

Senior Emily Wang said the Pasta for Pennies app compiles information from a server into a database and displays it so students can see where their classes and pods stand in the competition.

“The app pulls all the information from a server, and what I have to do daily is update the information for how much money each teacher or classroom raised,” Wang said. “From there, (the database) compiles the information into how much each pod makes and that kind of stuff, and the app pulls all the information from the server and shows you.”

Wang said that the competition aspect that the app adds to the fundraiser will encourage student donations.

“It does act as a motivator for people who are donating because they can see (other classes) and be like ‘Oh wait, I want to beat that class,’” Wang said. “(It’s used to help students) donate more by making it a competition.”

Vojjala said she is most excited to hear how much of an impact the proceeds will make and to see NHS members and students come together to support a good cause.

“I’m really excited because the whole school comes together for a really good cause,” Vojjala said. “It’s really great to see all these NHS members going out to each of the classrooms, and all of these kids are really excited to donate. After seeing the end result, they tell us how all the money helped people, and it’s really neat to see all of that.”

New courses coming to 2017-18 school year

Mason High School’s course catalog is getting upgraded.

Changes in the course catalog this year include the addition of classes such as Filmmaking, Advanced Placement Comparative Government, and Engineering in our World. Assistant Principal Shanna Bumiller said courses such as Engineering in our World will give students a taste of a potential career in engineering.

“I think (many) kids are interested in going into engineering,” Bumiller said. “And we currently saw that as a gap. We don’t have an engineering course here at the high school. This is really meant to be an introductory course where kids say, ‘I want to go into engineering,’ but they really don’t know what that means, or all the fields that are in engineering. (This course would) give kids a broad survey of all the different types of engineering (and) peak their curiosity.”

Sophomore Corinne Mattingley said Filmmaking would allow students interested in video editing, writing, and acting to practice everything at one time.

“There’s an element of writing, with an element of technology, and a little bit of acting too,” Mattingley said. “So it’s kind of a combination of all three things. You can take a class where you learn how to edit videos, you can take an acting class, and you can take a writing class, but there’s not really a class where you can combine all three.”

Junior Seth Gerus said AP Comparative Government would allow students to deeply analyze America’s government and make connections about the world.

“I think it would be a great class, just so people know what’s going on in the world,” Gerus said. “So many people have so little knowledge on what’s happening outside of the U.S. and think that we live in a vacuum, but really, the U.S. is how it is because of how we interact with the rest of the world. You would not only learn about foreign governments and what goes on in their own countries, but how it affects America.”

Another change for next year pertains to AP Biology and AP Chemistry. Both of these courses next year will take up less space the students’ schedules. Bumiller said that one of the goals for this change is to make sure that only the students truly interested in science take the AP courses.

“We want students to pick (AP courses) because that’s where their passion lies,” Bumiller said. “We don’t want students to take it because it’s one and a half weighted credit, and if that causes a decrease in enrollment because kids looked at that as a pathway to increase their GPA, then so be it.”

Freshman Alishaan Ali plans to take AP Chemistry next year and he is concerned about learning the material in enough time.

“My main concern is (getting through) all of those labs,” Ali said. “And (if it is) going to become even a lot more work than it was this year.”

AP Biology teacher Elizabeth Coleman said that the AP Biology and Chemistry teachers are trying to make up with the substantial loss of time due to the course changes to make sure that the students benefit and all specific course requirements are met.

“Losing 100 minutes every week is going to be huge, because if you multiply that over the 36 weeks of the school year, that’s going to be a lot of lost time,” Coleman said. “So things have to be adjusted, and we’re working with the administration too, to see what’s best not just for students, not just for the whole building, but looking at some of the things going on that are unique to AP Bio and AP Chem.”

Coleman said that adjustments made for next year such as a proposed new schedule will help students stay more focused on each of their classes, and make their day less chaotic.

“The brain’s not really meant to stay engaged that often (seven times) throughout the day, and changing it that frequently,” Coleman said. “I’m hoping that with this change, what will be nice about it is that students can focus on a few of their classes, at least a couple days a week.”

Students awarded for work in Scholastic Art and Writing competition

These young artists have once again proven their talent on a grand scale.

The Scholastic Art and Writing awards released their 2017 art winners and this year, 38 artists from Mason High School won Gold Keys, Silver Keys, and Honorable Mentions.

Digital Image Design and Photography teacher Tina Roberts said that the number of students entered in the competition was lower than in previous years.

“(The amount of winners) was about the same,” Roberts said. “Although, I think we entered a little less this year than we have in past years.”

There are three regional awards a piece can win, and the highest scoring pieces move on to be judged nationally, Roberts said.

“Basically, there’s a gold key, a silver key, and an honorable mention,” Roberts said. “They get the key awards at the Regional level and at the National level they get the medals, and they get an actual medal. All of pieces that got gold key will then go on to national level judging.”

This is senior Emma Morrissey’s second year in the competition. She along with Lauren Fournier, Tasha Norris, and Jenny Wan earned gold keys this year. Morrissey said that she prepared long in advance and was excited to win awards again this year.

“I was really excited this year,” Morrisey said. “I knew (the awards were) coming and as soon as I got home from New York, (last year’s nationals) I was like ‘I want to do this again next year,’ so I got all of my pieces together. I submitted 10 in total and four of them won (awards).”

Morrissey said that she chose pieces to submit based on results from the previous year.

“You have to think about the judges, and pieces that won last year,” Morrissey said. “They like traditional work, but they also go for the oddball style, or something that’s kind of unique or provokes thought. (There are) a lot of applications of creativity that you normally wouldn’t see.”

Mendu earns spot on Forbes 30 under 30

Mason High School freshman Maanasa Mendu was recently featured in the class of 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 list, making her the youngest to earn one of the coveted spots.

Mendu won the Discovery Education 3M Scientists Challenge with an energy-harvesting device. The goal of this device was to harvest both wind and solar energy as power sources.

Mendu said she was surprised to receive this level of recognition and hopes that she can inspire people to make good use of their talents.

“It’s way beyond what I initially expected (after winning),” Mendu said. “I guess it does feel like a pretty big responsibility to set an example so that other people can also be inspired to use their talents to do something good for our world.”

Mendu said being featured on this list will allow her to develop connections and start her on a path towards a career in science.

“It helps me contact people who are in the industry and well accomplished,” Mendu said. “At first I didn’t really think of it as a career–just a cool project I was working on. Now I’m considering it because I’m at the phase of taking it forward.”

Her innovative mind has brought her an immense amount of recognition. In order to come up with ideas, such as her harvesting complex, Mendu said she first starts with analyzing problems and evaluating current solutions.

“Take a look at the problems that are currently affecting society, make a list of one through five and then start off by looking at more of the specifics, ” Mendu said. “Try to narrow down on the problems that you’re thinking about solving, and then look into current solutions and the flaws of current solutions–that’s pretty important so that you have an idea of what you want to do.”

Mendu has shown her age is nothing but a number as she continues to achieve great success in the science field. Mendu said taking chances on ideas and not losing faith in them despite the skepticism one may receive is key to achieving a goal.

“Don’t be afraid of your ideas,” Mendu said. “Sometimes you think ‘these are stupid, they’re never going to work,’ but sometimes you have to be brave and go for it. If you believe in it, you will be fine.”