Safety in Our Schools

Austin Barker

ENG 131-01

Dr. Lucas

May 6, 2014

            Let’s face it, we have many issues that happen in our schools daily and it’s really scary in many ways. Public schools face many issues, and surprisingly, private schools experience many of the same. We all want our students and children to be safe when and after they are dropped off at school. In reality there are many things that are unsafe or just not the ideal environment in the local schools, that most people are not aware of, that will make you want to go pick your child up immediately and start home schooling him or her. As you will see, we face many different issues, but all of these issues can be fixed and be funded by the people around the community and by the government.

            The news is full of stories about the problems we have with our children and students at schools across the country, from elementary to universities. For example, the shooting spree at Virginia Tech University in 2007 and then the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. Those tragedies really opened the eyes of some people who actually thought that our schools were a safe learning environment for our children. There are many other issues that occur in our schools besides school shootings and these horrible tragedies. Along with violence, we have bullying, both in person and in cyber space, students bringing weapons to schools, students fighting and other local problems such as drugs and smoking. A 2011 survey reported that 20% of students had been or were currently being bullied on school property and 16% reported being bullied electronically within that school year “School Violence”. As you can tell, these are very traumatic issues that the school and students face each and every day.

I went to North Surry High School and it was basically a country school, where many of the students went hunting before and after the school day. This meant that some of these students who attended school with me brought their guns and knives to school, which was very unsafe. I felt rather insecure knowing that my classmates possessed or had easy access to these weapons. For the most part, the teachers and staff knew about this issue and they never really addressed it at that time, which was sad I thought. It could have easily been a tragedy at my school, since the school staff was not taking care of the issue. I felt that they thought it was acceptable to let them leave their weapons in their cars, although it was against school policy to have weapons on campus. Another big issue at my high school and many others is fighting and peer pressure. Both of these issues affect a student’s health and well-being because it affects them mentally and their grades suffer if they are getting pushed around and feel like they cannot come to school because it is not a good environment. In the article, What Parents Can Do to Keep Kids Safe at School, it states, “These problems make students and educators feel less safe, and it makes it harder for the students to learn and for teachers to do their jobs.” Basically all of these issues affect the performance of students in school.

            Can we resolve these issues? The answer to this question is, we can come close although it will not all just vanish at once. Some of these problems will always exist but on the other hand some problems will go away. Professor Dewey Cornell of University of Virginia quoted in Sierra Bellows article How Safe Are Our Schools “Kids make threats when they can’t figure out how to resolve problems any other way.” Bullying and peer pressure will always occur in our schools although we can help resolve these issues with putting our students into programs that will teach them the effects of bullying and peer pressure. Another important measure is to lock every door to the classrooms and buildings so that no unwanted visitor comes in. It is a very simple thing to do and can impact greatly in case someone actually comes to the school with violent mindset. Just about every high school has at least one resource officer within the school, which I would agree that we need one or two more to insure that the students are safe. Schools need to practice safety drills throughout each month. At North Surry we only practiced drills about once every two months, which was not enough practice in case something actually had happened. Our schools need to have more cameras in the halls and also in the parking lots to insure no violence occurs when no teachers or staff is present.

            Many people would argue that violence starts in the home of the child. Parent’s actions have a big impact on their children and what they do at school. If the child is raised in a violent home, with abusive parents, then the child may be prone to bully others. Schools need to offer programs for the parents to promote the parenting practices that may curb their children’s bullying. Another solution that would help minimize or prevent bullying would be dress codes. At North Surry we did not have a dress code requirement, which meant those who were less fortunate than others usually were made fun of or picked on most of the time if they could not afford the latest styles. This is a huge issue in many schools and this should not be happening, so it would be a good idea to incorporate a dress code with uniforms.

            The federal government awards grants to improve school safety, in which school systems should apply for. School systems can also hold fundraisers for school safety. Many businesses and parents would donate money and time in order to help students be safer in school, so big tragedies could try to be avoided in the future. This issue will cost a great deal of money but with the help of federal grants and the people it will be much easier to help achieve much safer schools in our communities.

            Our schools have many issues that need to be resolved as quickly as possible. This is not just a problem in the United States but many other countries go through the same issues with school safety, so we are not the only ones who have this problem. As you can see, this is a big topic that every school thinks about and it will not just go away. We have to resolve this issue and it will not be a quick process, it will take some time. Overall, I think that we can resolve the many issues we have with safety in our schools and make them much safer for the future.


Works Cited

“What Parents Can Do to Keep Kids Safe at School.” National Crime Prevention Council, N.p., 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

“School Violence: Data & Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Dec. 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

Bellows, Sierra. “How Safe Are Our Schools?” The University of Virginia N.p., 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.      




One Act Play–Fast Food

Fast Food: Good or Bad?

Character Guide

Morgan Spurlock: The main character from Super Size Me, he spent thirty days eating nothing but McDonalds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He ended up having major mood swings, dramatically increased weight, and health issues. He is a producer and a writer, known for Super Size Me (2004), The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011) and Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? (2008).

Dr. Oz: (Mehmet Cengiz Öz) Author, talk show host, and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University. He is an expert on many health issues. He now hosts his own health TV series, The Doctor Oz Show.

David Zinczenko: Author of Don’t Blame the Eater. He is the editor-in-chief of Men’s Health magazine. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Cook This, Not That! and The New Abs Diet.

All in homes Oz makes conference call to David Zinczenko and Morgan Spurlock

Dr. Oz:  (on the phone) Hey would you all want to meet up for a jog this afternoon?

David Zinczenko & Morgan Spurlock: Sounds good!

Oz: Ok, let’s meet at the park at 3 pm.

Warm afternoon in the park. Morgan Spurlock, David Zinczenko, and Dr. Oz meet for an afternoon jog.

MS: Guys! I’m hungry

DZ and Oz: Ok. We will go with you to get something to eat.

Walk to the car and get in. They are now driving and trying to decide where to stop.

MS: Where should we get something to eat?

Dr. Oz: We should get something healthy.

MS: Well, there is a McDonald’s right around this corner.

Dr. Oz: That is not a very healthy choice Morgan!

MS: Yeah, I figured that, where can I find a healthy snack or maybe a grapefruit?

DZ: I am not sure.

MS: You know that is just sad that we can’t go down this road and find a simple healthy snack or grapefruit, but there are three McDonalds in this small town, all near each other.

DZ: That is so true. “Drive down any thoroughfare in America, and I guarantee you’ll see one of our countries more than 13,000 McDonald’s restaurants” (392).

Dr. Oz: Look at all of the obese people who are walking around. Do you guys know what causes obesity?

MS: No.

Dr. Oz: “The cause of obesity is very complex, but based on a simple concept. It is the result of a person taking in more energy for calories (food) than they burn off from physical activity and maintaining proper body function (metabolism).”

DZ: This is a big concern in America. No wonder a lot of people are obese, one of the reasons is because we cannot go down this road and find fresh fruit, but we see tons of fast food restaurants.

MS: It causes weight gain. “And this weight gain has been linked to countless health problems later in life.” It’s not worth eating fast food before I start jogging, I will just wait and eat after we jog.

They get back to the park and stretch

MS:  It’s too bad that the park is empty all the time. I guess people just think exercise is too hard.

DZ: I come out here four or five times a week to jog, and all I see are elderly people walking.

MS: Now a days you see children indoors the entire time playing with technology, but you use to see everyone outdoors playing and enjoying themselves.

DZ: This is pretty sad to see this transformation, but Dr. Oz you know a lot about this situation because you told us before about it, so could you tell Morgan and I again.

Dr. Oz: I sure will. “Here’s a health tip that sounds too easy to be true: Stand up.” “the average American, spend[s] nearly eight hours a day—more than 50 hours per week—planted on [their] behind” “There’s a cost to all that downtime (and it’s not just a spreading lower half). When you’re sitting, your body undergoes a metabolic slowdown. You use less blood sugar for energy, and you burn fewer calories. Sitting also decreases the activity of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which works to eliminate fats in the blood. The worst part: Even regular exercise won’t protect you. Research has shown that if you spend long periods sitting, you’ll have a larger waist, greater body mass index, and higher levels of blood sugar and blood fats than someone who takes frequent breaks to stand or stretch—regardless of how often you lace up your running shoes. Ultimately, spending more time on your feet means a longer life. However, even desk-bound workers aren’t doomed. [There are] simple changes can create a more active routine.”

MS: I guess we should get a start on our running. Maybe people seeing us be fit will convince them to get up and out. You know, set a good example.

Dr. Oz: That is a great way to start a change. Maybe next time we run you can invite your friends. The park is a great place to start to be fit and have fun too.

DZ: I saw one of your articles on that. You talked about taking your family on runs. I think it would be fun to start a group that runs each week. Then we might be able to get the community involved in some exercise. Well, we should probably quit chatting and get to running. They begin running and depart from the park

Works Cited

David Zinczenko. “Don’t Blame the Eater”. “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkensrein, and Russell Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 391-394. Print.

Oz, Dr. Mehmet. “Dr. Oz on the Importance of Being Active.” N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.

Supersize Me – Morgan Spurlock Spews. Dir. Morgan Spurlock. Perf. Morgan Spurlock. Samuel Goldwyn Films, 2008. Film

“Treating Morbid Obesity: The Weight is Over.” The Dr. Oz Show. N.P., n.d. Web. 24.Mar.2014


**This play was a collaborative process. Special thanks to my ENG 131 group members: Jorelle Farmer, Kaylie Heike, and Domonique Jones**


Sherman Alexie Extra Credit

Sherman Alexie has probably been one of the most beneficial speakers that I have heard. The reason why I say this is although he grew up on a poor reservation that had nothing, and the government had to provide a lot for them, he stayed positive and let nothing take him down. He did not try to impress anyone on his story he just wanted to make a name for himself and anyone can take that away and use it in your everyday life. I really think it made a difference that I read Sherman Alexie’s book The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part- Time Indian and saw the movie Smoke signals that he produced from many of his short stories. It allowed me to connect better with him and while he was speaking to the crowd of over 300 people, it felt like we were all there and what he went through. One thing that I did learn from hearing Sherman Alexie speak was he not only was a filmmaker and a writer but he wrote poetry. I thought that was very neat. Sherman Alexie grew up facing many obstacles but he did not let any of them take him down such as moving to a basically all-white school, being in and out of the hospital until 7 years old with basically “water in his brain,” Alexie said and being made fun of just because he was an Indian. He was a strong mind that nothing could bring him down and he made a goal to not be like other Indians that did nothing with his life, look where he is today. He came from nothing and now his works are popular. Overall, I really enjoyed hearing Sherman Alexie speak and I will take a lot from what he said and use it in my life.

The Value of Education

Austin Barker

ENG 131. 01

Professor Lucas

26 February 2014

The Value of Education


            Most people who want to attend college most of the time considers thinking about the price and how they will pay it off, and then ask, are they paying for the right type of education? All of these components work together, and it really is a big decision your future as you search for a job.  This is one of the toughest decisions you will make in your life, so that is why I have chosen it as the focus of my bibliography.

All three of these essays that I present in this bibliography will address whether college is worth the price, the benefits of public education versus liberal arts education, and finally the question that a lot of people ask, will you be in a lot of debt when you get out of college?

I know that I had to weigh the cost and benefits for choosing the right college for me. I really believe that the decisions you choose while you are at a young age will affect you for the rest of your life. I do value the importance of education, and I want the best for me as well as the best for you.

Annotated Bibliography

Hacker, Andrew. Dreifus, Claudia. “Are Colleges Worth the Price of Admission?” They Say/I Say. Graff, Gerald. Birkenstein, Cathy. Durst, Russel. New York. Norton, 2012. 179-189. Print.

Hacker’s and Dreifus’s “Are Colleges Worth the Price of Admission?” addresses how the tuition affects the education you are getting. College tuition is really expensive these days, and deciding where to go involves weighing the cost of your education and the type of job you want later on. As Hacker and Dreifus states: “Tuition charges at both public and private colleges have more than doubled—in real dollars—compared with the a generation ago” (179).  The cost increase that the authors note highlight that this is a very important choice. You would not want to go to a more expensive private school when you can basically get the same type of education at a less expensive public college.

Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus are the authors of Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It (2010). This article was adapted from that book.

Ungar, Sanford. “The New Liberal Arts.” They Say/I Say. Graff, Gerald. Birkenstein, Cathy. Durst, Russel. New York. Norton, 2012. 190-197. Print.

In “The New Liberal Arts” Sanford Ungar believes colleges that offer a liberal arts education will help you more than just a regular type of education you get at many colleges. Ungar states “A 2009 survey for the Association of American Colleges and Universities actually found that more than three-quarters of our nation’s employers recommended that college bound students pursue a liberal education” (192). Most private institutions provide a liberal arts education, which provides you with many different fields of learning, but on the other hand it is more expensive. Just as Ungar says, you are more likely to get a better job with a liberal arts education and it will look better on your résumé.

Sanford J. Ungar is the president of Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the author of Fresh Blood: The New American Immigrants (1998) and Africa: The People and Politics of an Emerging Continent (1986).

Wilson, Robin. “A Lifetime of Student Debt? Not Likely.” They Say/I Say. Graff, Gerald. Birkenstein, Cathy. Durst, Russel. New York. Norton, 2012. 256-273. Print.

Robin Wilson’s essay “A Lifetime of Student Debt? Not Likely,” demonstrates that a lot of students leave college with debt and some do not. Wilson stated in this essay “In fact, despite stories of a large number of students who face gargantuan debt, about a third of graduates leave college with no debt at all for their education” (257).  Many people agree with Wilson, because if you’re attending a public institution the cost is less expensive than attending a private one (unless you receive substantial amount of aid or scholarships). Private intuitions are much higher, but you do get a lot more help from financial aid and scholarship.  There are ways to not have a great deal of debt and that is what this essay is talking about. Even though a liberal arts education is more expensive, it will not cause as much debt if you play your cards right and get scholarships and financial aid to help fund your education.

Robin Wilson is a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and also a graduate from the College of Wooster in Ohio. She won a prize from the Education Writers Association in 2004 for her reporting on college faculty.