The North Star The student news site of Omaha North High Magnet School Tue, 21 Jan 2020 02:23:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Potential budget cuts threatens OPS faculty Tue, 21 Jan 2020 02:23:33 +0000 In 2009, due to the Great Recession, Omaha Public Schools (OPS) had to reallocate district employee’s retirement investments. However, the new investments have been returning slower than the district expected, causing a 26.4-million-dollar deficit for the 2018-2019 school year. 

In response, OPS hired Jim Freeman, a budget consultant, and appointed a committee of parents and staff to decide what programs, positions, and activities are to be cut.  

Initially, the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) came up with 52 million dollars of potential cuts. The committee then ranked each proposed item based on what they felt should be cut. The top 12 items, then adding up to about 29.5 million dollars, were selected to be cut 

Freeman recommends that OPS should cut roughly 29.5 million dollars rather than 26.4 so there is “flexibility” if the deficit were to grow. 

Mark Evans, Superintendent of OPS, said that the goal of BAC is to keep the cuts as “far away from the classroom” as possible to limit the impact on students. 

However, Connie Knoche, chief financial officer for OPS, said that because OPS is “85% people” the cuts will impact the students. She went on to say that to limit the impact on students, about a third of the cuts (roughly 10 million dollars), will come from TAC. 

According to Charles Wakefield, head of Human Resources (HR), every department at TAC faced reductions of some kind. 

These cuts would eliminate positions causing employees who remain to have a higher work load. 

Reduction of elementary assistant principals and elimination of two secondary assistant principals were also in the BAC‘s proposed $28 million in cuts on April 19th. 

Wakefield said that the district is cutting the assistant principals, that were hired originally based on need but have become unnecessary, in order to return to the districts “staffing formula”.  

“Historically,” Evans said, “we havent had assistant principals at (elementary) schools that don’t have over 500 students.” 

At the April 19th BAC meeting, a Burke High parent and member of the committee, Karen Warner, was upset that Burke’s assistant principal was up for reassignment. She then testified to the assistant principal’s character saying he “made an impact on every student.” 

“The best companies keep the best people, who can do the best job,” Warner said.  

She continued by saying that OPS should follow that philosophy and reassign assistant principals based on skill rather than longevity.  

The other secondary assistant principal was initially going to be reassigned was from Northwest. 

The committee decided, on May 3rd, that the Burke and Northwest assistant principals would not be reassigned. 

However, School Support Liaisons and 50 full time employees, such as Instructional facilitators and curriculum coaches, are still in jeopardy of reassignment. However, employee reassignment will not be confirmed until the Board approves the budget over the summer. 

Snow assured that his objective is that no employee will lose their job. 

[Employees] will just move from one position to another,” Snow said, “It’s basically realigning our resources.” 

All staff members that were considered for reassignment, were notified through a letter by April 15. However, just because a staff member received a letter, it doesn’t mean that they will be reassigned. State law requires that OPS notifies any employee whose job may be affected causing reassignment letters to be over issued.  

The names of people who received reassignment letters have not been released by the district at this time. Various members of the BAC explained that OPS wants to respect the employee’s privacy.  

“It’s a very painful conversation telling an employee [they are being reassigned],” Evans said,” Every [employee] has value. I refuse to not see the value in each [employee]. 


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Despite concerns, security follows policy Tue, 21 Jan 2020 02:16:37 +0000 In schools throughout the nation, security guards are a staple of the high school experience. Between yelling, “get to class,” breaking up a fight, or building rapport with students, it is hard for any student to go through high school without having an interaction with school security. 

North’s halls are patrolled by three Omaha Public Schools (OPS) trained security guards, with a fourth in training, two security guards, who serve as support, that are contracted out, as well as two school resource officers, who are Omaha Police Officers. 

According to an OPS job posting for a security guard, the first responsibility listed is “… to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff and the security of the facility.” 

However, many teachers and students feel that the security is not fulfilling that responsibility. 

Amanda Gutierrez, English teacher and student ambassadors sponsor at North recalls a time a parent of a touring student voiced her concerns of how safe North High’s halls are after their student’s tour. 

“It’s embarrassing,” Gutierrez said. 

Laura Geiger, English teacher at North recounts a time she was forced to break up a fight.  

“I was doing hallway supervision when the fight broke out. [A Lionsgate] Security [guard] just stood at the “T” and did nothing. Luckily Mr. Skradski came out and helped.”  

This does not go unnoticed by students. 

Jeriona Taylor, 12, remembers the same fight saying, “[Security] really doesn’t care about us. You can tell.” 

Security is encouraged to follow the “path of least resistance” when breaking up fights according to Kathy Lee, assistant principal at North. In short, this means first verbally try to break it up, then step between the fighters, and finally, if all else fails, restrain them. 

Reginald Jamerson, an OPS security guard at North High stated that OPS security guards go through three phases of annual training: video, physical, and a written test. Security guards must pass this training to keep their certificates.   

Teachers and administrators, however, are not trained in restraint tactics.  

“Not everyone is trained,” Jamerson said, “This can cause issues if a teacher were to get hit or something. For the most part, if there is a fight, all the security guards will make their way there.” 

Lee explained that teachers should handle escalations in their classrooms when they arise, making an “in the moment judgement call.” However, Lee emphasized, if situations cannot be deescalated, teachers should call for help.  

“Our priority responsibility is always the safety of the student,” Lee went on to say, “We are not just going to let [students] fight and hurt each other.” 


*A previous version of this article inaccurately claimed that Gutierrez said, “Our halls are an embarrassment, they are not safe.” and did not specify that the security guard in Geiger’s anecdote was from Lionsgate, not OPS. * 

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Doctor sleep awakens in cinemas Tue, 17 Dec 2019 18:16:32 +0000 The movie Doctor Sleep has arrived after 39 years of waiting for a sequel to The Shining written by Mike Flanagan. Bringing back the thrill of the classic “Here’s Johnny” phrase that left fear in fans eyes. It has recently been booming in the box office with over 14 million dollars its first weekend. It had mixed reviews so far with 76% of rotten tomatoes. 

Doctor sleep is a sequel to the classic well-known movie The Shining which gives a different story about the child Dan Torrance. The child from the 1st movie who is now an adult who must protect a young girl with similar powers as him from a dangerous killing cult known as The True Knot, who prey on children with powers to remain immortal. 

 In an article by Business Insider they explain how they heavily pushed the marketing for Doctor Sleep to have lots of connections from The Shining that would bring back the initial feel of one of the classics. The Shining was an adaptation of the book written by Stephen King and was directed by Stanley Kubrick.  

In the film Doctor Sleep Dan Torrance played by Ewan McGregor has what he calls the shining which is psychic powers that he obtained from the traumatizing experiences in the Overlook Hotel. He tries to push away the shine by becoming a heavy alcoholic and staying far away from the hotel.  

This film takes a different approach towards horror by using sound. Throughout the movie during the dull and intense moments there is a slow heavy heartbeat that can be heard, quieting the moments of terror. This is the opposite of what a typical horror movie would do, they would silence the sound right before a jump scare and raise the volume at the moment of the scare.  

Doctor Sleep had no jump scares, instead it used the technique of emotion and psychological fear. Making a moment where there is death make you feel like you are there in the moment. Creating a personal feel to the story and making you more invested. 

Personally, I thought this movie was amazingly created and executed phenomenally. There wasn’t a dull moment where I felt bored because each scene had important details that made the story so powerful. 


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To pierce or not to pierce… that is the question Tue, 17 Dec 2019 18:10:46 +0000 Piercings are ways for many people to express themselves. Whether it’s due to their culture or the simple fact that they think that piercings are visually attractive. For some people, piercings are taboo, because they could hinder people from certain opportunities, like jobs. In this photo essay, students and teachers about their piercings. I asked them when they got their piercings, why they got them, and if they felt that it may hinder them from getting a job, or if they were worried about it when they applied for their job.


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New Streaming service, “Disney+” released on November 12, 2019 Tue, 03 Dec 2019 18:14:08 +0000 In September 2017, Disney announced plans to create its own streaming service to challenge Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services. Just over a year later, that service was given a name, “Disney+” with a price of just $6.99 per month and $69.99 a year.  

Disney+ is intended to compete with Netflix, the industry leader and other streaming services. It won’t have as many movies or television shows as Netflix, but Disney hopes to draw customers in with lots of highly popularized content. Eventually, Disney is working on adding more content, but they are more focused on expanding to other countries. 

According to, “Tom’s Guide,” Disney+ launched November 12 at midnight (PT) in the U.S. Disney later announced that the service will be available in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain on March 31, 2020, as of September 23, 2019. 

Disney+ currently hosts hundreds of Disney-related movies and television series and different varieties. Classic animated features like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio,” modern-day Disney Channel fares like Descendants, vintage live-action features including The Parent Trapand Old Yeller, a huge collection of ’90s Marvel cartoons, almost every Star Wars flick, Pixar movies, and so much more.  

According to, “Android Authority,” The service currently includes most Marvel movies (16), as well, with only seven of the films including, “Black Panther,” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” but they are currently unavailable until 2020 due to a licensing agreement with Netflix.  

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Netflix Makes a VICTORiOUS Move Tue, 03 Dec 2019 18:12:15 +0000 Victorious, stylized as VICTORiOUS, used to be a popular show among children and teenagers when it was on air on Nickelodeon from March 2010 to February 2013 (3 Seasons) and now it’s been brought back on Netflix. Victorious is about aspiring singer, Tori Vega (Victoria Justice), who attends Hollywood Arts High School and gets into wild situations with her friends every day. The series won the Favorite TV Show award at the 2012 and 2013 Kids’ Choice Awards.  

Victorious involves a pretty stereotypical high school friends cast. The cool friend, Tori (Victoria Justice), the silly friend, Andre (Leon Thomas III), the nerdy friend, Robbie (Matt Bennett), and the charming friend, Beck (Avan Jogia). They all make not-so-smart decisions, a ton of jokes, and go to an arts school, which gives them a good reason to break out into song quite often. 

Many fans blamed Ariana Grande’s “Sam and Cat” project for the show ending, the real reason it got cancelled was because Ariana Grande “chose to do a solo tour instead of a cast tour. If we had done a cast tour Nickelodeon would have ordered another season of Victorious while Sam & Cat filmed simultaneously but she chose otherwise,” said Victoria Justice. 

After the show ended, there was no way of watching it, as no streaming services picked it up. Recently though, Netflix picked up the show and old fans are excited because they’ve been waiting for them to put more shows from their childhoods onto the popular streaming service. Many fans have expressed that want other shows such as Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, Phineas and Ferb, Big Time Rush, and many more to be put on Netflix through social media posts and messages to Netflix’s social media accounts. 

Many shows that people want on Netflix are already on Hulu, which is cheaper, but Netflix is more popular, so more people use it. Netflix has 139 million subscribers with its most popular plan being $12.99 per month, but Hulu only has 25 million subscribers while its most popular plan is only $5.99 per month, according to CNN and The Verge. 

Netflix picking up Victorious was a big gesture that made many of their subscribers’, myself included, ecstatic, and now it’s the only streaming service with the show and can now better compete with Hulu.  

“I was excited because I watched it as a kid and having it on something as accessible as Netflix made me happy because I finally have a way to watch it,” Kamryn Pflug-Lor, 10, Omaha North High Student.  

While watching the show I felt nostalgia and the 10-year-old in me was jumping with joy. As I continued to watch the show, I realized that it’s not as great as I remember. The script is corny, and the acting is cringeworthy. They use made up words and phrases such as “cheese-wiz” and “what the helicopter.” During one scene, the main character, Tori Vega (Victoria Justice), was worried and said the word “gulp” instead of gulping. 

There are characters that make you forget about the bad parts of the show such as Andre Harris (Leon Thomas III), who’s always cracking jokes and bringing feel-good vibes to the scenes. There’s also Mr. Sikowitz (Eric Lange), who is eccentric and can always turn the scene around immediately with an unexpected tone or comment. 

One thing about the show that’s genuinely good is the music. Most of the songs were written by different song writers but Victoria Justice was the main performer in all of them. A good amount of the songs also featured the Victorious cast. The songs are mostly typical pop songs that would appeal to pre-teens because of their lyrics about friends, love, revenge, and much more. 

The show also uses a lot of wordplay and humor that sounds like it was thought of by a middle schooler. One example is a scene where Beck (Avan Jogia) says to his girlfriend, Jade (Elizabeth Gillies), “I can’t believe how jealous you get,” to which she responds, “Oh so you think I’m ugly,” all while the stock laughing soundtrack was playing. 

Victorious is a feel-good show with bad humor, cringey acting, and good music. I would rate it a 4 out of 10. I loved the show as a child and I still like to watch it for the nostalgia, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that hasn’t watched it before. 

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Daybreak Fails to shine amongst other teen dramas Tue, 03 Dec 2019 18:09:43 +0000 What would happen if the world was ravaged by a biochemical nuclear war, leaving behind only teenagers to survive? Daybreak answers this in a very unconventional and jumbled way.  

The Netflix original series, based on the graphic novel by Brian Ralph, was released on October 24th, 2019, and consisted of 10 episodes. A nuclear war between the world’s countries kickstarted the apocalypse, destroying cities and wiping out populations. All adults were either killed in the blast or they mutated into “ghoulies”, a brainwashed zombie-like being, by the biochemical agent in the bombs. With all leading adults gone, most teens banded into their social groups, such as the jocks, the cheerleaders, the rich kids, and the nerds, with the acceptation of a few solo survivors. 

 The storyline follows Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford), one of the few solo warriors left alive, on his journey to find his girlfriend who went missing on the day the apocalypse happened. Wheeler befriends an old bully, Wesley Fists, and a young girl he babysat, Angelica Green on his journey. The trio face challenges and drama, resulting in the face off with the cannibalistic outlaw Baron Triumph. While this plotline sounds innovative and original, it fails to reach its full potential, focusing more on its spiritless acting and lackluster humor 

Daybreak, while the cons heavily outweigh the pros, there are some redeeming factors of the show. The editing style, like the bold writings and coloring on the screen, can be distracting and too bold at points but it is original and bright, and adds a much-needed element of humor to the somewhat dull points. Another benefit to the show was the character development of Angelica and Eli.  

While it has a promising cast list, most of the character writing and development was dry and tasteless. Angelica and Eli’s characters were different, theyre writing felt more personal and thought out. The evolution and development from Angelica, the bratty nuisance, to the passionate brain of the team. Eli, went from a cruel, self- obsessed annoyance, to a scenestealer you love to see. These two characters added a reallife element, back by the sublime acting from both Alyvia Alyn Lin (Angelica Green) and Gregory Kasyan (Eli Cardashyn). 

With a very little amount of promising aspects, there is bound to be an array of negatives about Daybreak. The show tries to be funny and creative with its writing style, but it falls incredibly flat and childish. Some language fits the TV-MA rating, but a majority sound like they came from an unfortunate childish tv show, reminiscent of Victorious’ inappropriate word substitutions. The humor is deadpan and forced, as if it needs a laugh track to seem humorous. The writing style tries too hard to be the next Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, that it comes off awkward and contrived.  

The plot, while full of potential, is riddled with inconsistencies and plot holes, in particular, Ms. Crumble’s storyline, that in the end makes the show nearly unbearable to watch. The stale dialogue and mundane acting contribute to the overall cringey and disappointing that the promising premise was wasted on an unfortunate cast and script.  

The characters like Turbo Bro Jock (Cody Kearsley), Principal Burr (Michael Brodrick), and Ms. Crumble (Krysta Rodriguez) are nowhere near developed enough to add anything intriguing to the story that makes viewers want to stay and watch. These characters are around for a few humorous quips and then you almost forget they’re in the show. 

The show had potential, and with the right cast and production team and maybe even a more child appropriate approach, would allow this show to shine. It fails to capitalize on the interesting plot and leaves the viewers with a cliché ending. 

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The MeToo couldn’t help all victims Tue, 03 Dec 2019 18:06:41 +0000 It’s been roughly two years since the MeToo movement took the world by storm. The hashtag was used roughly 19 million according to Pew Research. The conversation about sexual misconduct is easier to have now and people are telling their stories and receiving the help they need because victims are speaking out on large stages and millions are inspired to finally give their story to the world 

The MeToo movement was made by Tarana Burke in 2006. The goal was to give hope to victims and give a community to said victims. It was made when Burke was told by a 13-year-old girl and all she wanted to say was “me too”. 

Statistically the MeToo movement was more than a hashtag. In 2017 there were 433,648 victims (age 12 or older) according to RAINN, an organization dedicated to helping sexual assault victims. The crime was only reported 19 times out of 1,000 women according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Criminal Victimization. In 2017 when the movement started to gain major traction it was reported 40 percent more for women. 

“We’re making the connection easier” says Monique Visocky. A counselor at Omaha North. 

The MeToo movement has two shortcomings though, victims aren’t taken at face value and are being dismissed as having false accusations, and the movement didn’t make a safe environment for all victims.  

Addressing its first fault seeing victims being dismissed because their accusations aren’t timely. In 2018 decades-old sexual assault allegations against former Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama and then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were extensively questioned to the point of harassing the accusers Christine Blasey Ford and the three women who accused Moore.  

 Visocky says, “Victims have the mindset of “people won’t believe me anyways”. Victims should report immediately, and we should trust the victims.” 

While the stigma for victims is already prominent some groups of people can barely muster the strength to come forward because they never received a voice. 

Men severely underreport the abuse they go through. 64 percent of women report sexual abuse to at least one person, for males that’s only 14 percent according to 1in6, an organization that is dedicated to helping male victims.  

Even when males do report the abuse society usually views it as sign of weakness. Terry Cruise, a famous actor testified on national television about how he was groped, and it mentally scarred him. He was mocked by flocks of people including 50 Cent. The rapper mocked Terry’s masculinity and made him feel humiliated.  

“People devalue men’s feelings. Everyone who is a victim should be given the power to tell their story, doesn’t matter if you’re male or female,” says Visocky. 

The MeToo movement was designed to include everyone, but as women took control of the movement the MeToo movement left out men. When those men did report they are thrown under the bus. 

The MeToo movement should have given everyone a voice but we still culturally bash victims and delegitimize them by not even giving them a voice. It’s time for that change 

Sexual crimes are the most underreported crimes in the United States according to MCASA, the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. It is believed that only 15.8 to 35 percent of all sexual assaults are reported to the police according to the Coalition. While the MeToo movement made the conversation easier, we need to constantly be pushing for victims to feel safe reporting and giving voices to those who find it hard to report.  

It’s hard enough to look at these statistics. One hashtag is important for sparking the fire of change, but we need to keep it bright. 

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Celebrities open up about mental illness, face backlash on social media Tue, 03 Dec 2019 18:04:54 +0000 Summer Walker, a breakout rnb artist, known mostly for her single, girls need love, has been the subject of multiple media outlets for deviating from the norm of a musical artist. Most recently, she has been open about her social anxiety around performing, even going as far as to cancel over half of her tour. This was hit with expected backlash, but this isn’t the first time she has gotten hate because of her mental illness. 

As an African American female, there is a stereotype that we are always loud and boisterous. If we are not, it is seen as having an attitude issue. In the African American community, females are always expected to act a certain way, because of stereotypes placed onto us. African American girls cannot be quiet, irritated, tired, or nervous.   

The mental health campaign has been headlined by white celebrities, so to see someone that looks like me struggle with something that everyone struggles with is refreshing. It is important because some little black kid somewhere is struggling with it too.  

Summer Walker has unknowingly driven a conversation about who society will allow to struggle with mental illness – whether that be black girls or celebrities.    

There has been a lot of pressure from fans for Summer Walker to do tours, meet and greets, appearances, etc. Through social media, she has expressed the amount of stress it puts on her. The standard she is held to needs to be re-evaluated. Although these things may be expected from celebrities, she should be able to say no. 

A lot of male celebrities are allowed to do as they please. When a male celebrity, like Frank Ocean, is very private, it is seen as brooding, mysterious, and attractive. The sexism that lies within this issue must be talked about.  

Black women in the entertainment are held to an impossible standard. Other celebrities, such as Janet Jackson and Alicia Keys have opened up about their struggles with anxiety and depression. A common theme in all these stories was that they felt like they couldn’t reach out for help. The sexism that comes with being a woman in a male dominated industry, on top of the racism in the industry means that black women need to work twice as hard to be seen half as great as their counterparts. 

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The increase of phone addicts among Gen Z Tue, 03 Dec 2019 18:00:27 +0000 Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media apps are intricately designed apps to make people continuously scroll through the little wired box called a smartphone.  

Throughout the years, the goal of owning technology has shifted. It is no longer looked upon as a privilege used to stay connected with other people or used for efficiency.  

According to Pew Research Center about 95% of American teenagers own a smartphone, and 45% are constantly active on the internet. About 9 out of 10 teenagers admitted that they use their phone to pass time. Instead of using their phone to stay connected, network or learn new things, they are scrolling through social media recklessly and meaninglessly.  

This is overwhelming. For both students and parents. Many students have raised concerns on whether they are on their phone too much.  

Students are already flooded with homework, extracurricular activities, and personal events in their life. At a vulnerable age, where self-discipline is a frail skill, many would use technology or social media as an escape to their problems such as avoiding face-to-face interactions” according to Pew Research Center.  

Asking out their friends over text. Breaking up over text. Talking about important events over text and making assumptions based on their interpretations of the tone of the text. 

We have all heard the phrase, “too much of something is dangerous.” Social media has been proven to be a weapon towards teenagers 

It can be a tool to network and reach out to a broader audience, but it can also be used to harass, stalk or corner people.  

The constant sound of a new notification- x person has liked your pictures or x number of people are following your social media account– ceaselessly picking up their phone during valuable time such as doing homework or hanging out with loved ones.  

Since 2015, about 13 out of 17 teenagers would rather communicate via text than talk in person according to an article by Andrew Hutchinson on Social Media Today. Faces glued to their phone which causes third-rate communication skills, deterioration of mental and physical health, lack of concentration and destitute of coping mechanism.  

Not to say digital minimalism is the way to live, nor minimalism in general, but to consistently make excuses as to why teenagers are constantly on their phone rather than getting their work down, is a fault in a generation where new technology is consistently being released. 

Students need to limit their screen time and learn to utilize technology in a more productive and efficient ways.  

While technology makes information more accessible, it is creating poor study habits. Phones are a distraction in learning environments argued in an article by Jon Ireland on Classroom.  

Ireland said, “Many students have trouble finishing essays or doing some important reading,” because they feel the compulsive need to check their bank accounts, text messages, emails, and other distracting apps.  

Decreasing screen time would be beneficial for students, because it is a form of self-discipline, but it will also decrease the amount of stress students face since their brain will not be overwhelm by constantly processing what is on the internet, and it will fix sleep habits since the light “emitted from screens interferes with sleep cycle in the brain,” according to psychotherapist, Amy Morin. 

When opportunities are high, and resources are more in reach than ever because of technology, to waste the limited hours in each day due to the very same factor, is an atrocious act and betrayal to oneself.   

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