The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

4 Years from Today

Art by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Re-election of Obama Sparks Talk of Secession

The debates leading up to the presidential election were heated, to say the least. Now that President Barack Obama has won, that hot air is not just going to float away.

To let off some steam, residents of at least 20 different states, including Missouri, have signed petitions to secede from the United States because President Obama was reelected.

Rock Bridge senior Adam Schoelz thinks such petitions will neither help to resolve the divide in between the Republican and Democrat parties or the broader split ripping across the United States. He said the notion of secession is preposterous.

“I think that by far the majority in the petitioning states do not want to secede,” Schoelz said. “Basically, it’s just a petition, and even it it gets enough signatures to warrant a response the response is just gonna be, ‘no.’”

Senior Lauren Puckett finds the notion of people going so far counterproductive, especially given the concepts that she say should govern the country and believes citizens should look to America’s history and learn from the lessons there.

“Our nation is the United States for a reason. We’ve been through secession before, and we’re still here here years later,” she said. “When you and a friend have an argument, you don’t move to another country. You work it out peacefully and rationally.”
By John Gillis

What are your opinions on succession petitions in Missouri?

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Billions of Dollars Large

All the refugee students at RBHS learn about an American holiday.
Photo used with permission of Maria Kalaitzandonakes
A wartime presidency has its share of challenges. Budget constraints, civil unrest and national security all must take precedence over normal domestic issues.
President Barack Obama has been such a president, and there seems to be no end in sight for this role as he continues into his second term.
Though Obama’s 2012 campaign tried to focus on the need to create jobs and keep the economy in an upswing, his foreign policy played a critical role in the way voters made their decisions.
According to Obama promises  Afghan forces will be leading combat operations across their country by next year. He kept his promise to responsibly end all major combat operations in Iraq by August 31, 2010. Since taking office, the Obama Administration worked to  substantially decrease al Qaeda’s leadership in the Middle East. Daily deaths in Syria, Burma, Israel and other nations give citizens reason to worry.
War completely changes a presidency. If not only emotionally, most definitely budgetarily. According to the 2012 federal year defense budget was $925.2 Billion.
Senior Aniqa Rahman said a politician’s most important job is trying to keep the world as stable as possible, and war is one large side of that.
“Look, we live in an interconnected world now. There is no ‘self sufficiency’ anymore. And that makes things complicated. That means that war is going to happen, just as it did before, and we’re going to know about it. Know the consequences,” Rahmen said. “Kings and queens used to make these choices. But now it’s in the hands of a president. I am not jealous of Obama for having to decide things like that.”
Senior Shelby Richardson believes Obama holds a very important role now, not only as president, but as the face of the United States of America worldwide. War somehow becomes about oil rights or business, but, she said, war is about the
people. War is paid for by taxing Americans, with the blood and honor of soldiers, with the displacement and death of local peoples and with the reputation of the nation itself.
“The commander and chief is technically in charge of the whole thing, but he does appoint the secretary of defense and he does have generals and higher ranked military personnel who take care of some of the specific things,” Richardson said. “You hear that ‘Oh, the troops are supposed to be out of the middle east by whenever whenever, “ that would probably happen within the next four years. I have heard that they want to close some of the military bases here in Missouri and that people locally didn’t like that because they thought ‘Why wouldn’t you take a military base out of the other countries that were involved in.”
Whenever an election comes around war debates are always sparked, and for Richardson, they hit close to home. Her father was a doctor in the army, and is now a doctor for the Veterans hospital in Columbia, Mo. And recently, her boyfriend Jesse, entered into the army this past summer.
“Jesse’s family never really had a very large income and they didn’t really have good health care or good insurance and military personnel and their families get mostly free health care which is a big plus for him,” Richardson said. “He [normally] would not be able to pay for college, no way. So with the GI bill hopefully he will be able to go through the necessary time on his GI bill and he can do schooling, go to college and get some degree, whatever he wants to do and there are also other learning opportunities in the military he could take advantage of. … [But,] being enlisted, he has to do whatever they tell him to do, its basically a signed contract thing. If they tell you to go to Kuwait in march 2014, you’re going. He didn’t pick to go to Colorado they put him there, especially the lower rank you are the less of a say you have in what jobs you do which could be frustrating for anybody.”
Obama stands firm in his stance on war, possibly saying it best in his 2009 Inaugural Address.
“We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those
who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to
you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken — you cannot outlast us, and we
will defeat you.”
Senior Kyle Kolostov sat quietly before the election, not discussing the budget of defense or which candidate he would vote for, but about fear, about bravery and about the Marines.
“I want to serve my country, and even though it’s a big sacrifice, and of course some moments I’m afraid,” Kolostov said. “But every part of it is worth it. You become a better man.”
After a full day of school and juggling 35 hours of two jobs, Kolostov heads to training, where he will start with two and a half mile run. Then, he will quickly move on to sprints and muscle work ­– and not just do the regular crunches and a mundane series of push-ups. Military trainers introduce heavy ammo crates, competition and induced stress to the mix.
“It’s the hardest workout you’ll ever do. And so many times during it you just feel like, ‘There is no way I can go on.’ And there is something in you that is like, ‘Just push through it,’” Kolostov said. “I want to push myself to every limit, even ones that I didn’t know I had. They yell at you to squat, and that bullets are going to be flying over your head and you had better be able to get down.”
The washout rate for basic training in the Marines is about 15 percent, according to “Making the Corps,” by Thomas E. Ricks. This is mostly because of the high physical strain the Marines expects their trainees to put on their bodies.
Some days it gets to the point that he feels if he doesn’t stop for a drink, he will fall to the ground, but he continues. Kolostov said he would regret his choice forever if he had stopped, even for just a moment. The mentality cultivated through the high competition keeps him going.
“You ask yourself, ‘Where is my breaking point?’ and you think you already passed it, but you keep going,” Kolostov said. “And then you look at the guy next to you and think, ‘I may break, but I am going to make sure that he breaks before me.’”
Kolostov’s father was in the Marines, so growing up he admired the uniform hanging straight down from his father’s tall frame. He learned discipline and respect from his father and began thinking about when he would be old enough to join as well.
“Since I was a kid I wanted to join the military,” Kolostov said, “Because it’s “serving a bigger purpose than just your own life. [You’re] doing something important, something meaningful. So many people in history have sacrificed their lives for this country, for the people they loved. I figured I could return the favor.”
No matter what your reason, Rahman said, making a choice to commit your life to the United States army is a huge one.
“When you choose to go into the military you are making a huge commitment to the ultimate sacrifice, to die for something else,” Rahman said. “Trouble is, when political mumbo-jumbo gets all tangled in the mix, you don’t know if it is really worth fighting for.”
And although much of his motivation comes from the moment and the pressure to push through the momentary pain, Kolostov said he receives support from his longtime girlfriend, RBHS 2012 alumna Marla Guzman, and his father and friends. Even other soldiers inspire him to push a little harder.
According to having a support system is important for military men and women. Guzman said she worries about Kolostov constantly because he is not just her boyfriend but also her best friend. But she said she supports him 100 percent.
“I know Kyle very well, and I am supportive on his decision to go into the Marines. I can tell how much passion, dedication and heart Kyle has for the Marines,” Guzman said. “Even though
I’m scared, I have always stood by his side and let him know that I support him and love him no matter what.”
Senior Tayler Gregory is the support system for her boyfriend, Chance, a Harrisburg High School graduate, left for basic training July 10. Gregory went from seeing him every day to being ended completely.
“After a couple of weeks he could send me one text every Sunday,” she said. “Now he can call me on Sundays. I worry about him all the time.”
Boot camp cuts off all communication for the first few weeks and gives privileges back as the soldiers earn them. According to the Today’s Military website,, boot camp’s motive is “the combination of physical training, field exercises and classroom time makes the individuals strong and capable. It’s a tough process, but a rewarding one that many service-members value for life.”
As all recruits West of the Mississippi River do, Kolostov will go to the Marine boot camp in San Diego after he graduates from RBHS. He plans to take one year between graduation and training camp to prepare his body for the trials the camp will provide. The camp will last 12 weeks.
“They break you down as a person to build you up as a Marine,” Kolostov said. “They’re going to put you through everything you can imagine. Every fear that you can think of, they’ll put you up against that. But imagine, having gone up against all your fears, the person you’ll be afterwards, not just as marine, as a whole better you.”
Although Gregory knows Chance wants to be involved in the military, she worries because she can’t do much for him from Columbia. So she jumps on any opportunity she can to help. Over the summer Chance wanted to know how the United States did in the Olympic basketball game, so she wrote him a letter with the details, trying to figure out how it all worked online. But no matter how much she worries Gregory tries to keep being encouraging for him.
“Honestly, there isn’t much I can do,” Gregory said. “So I just pray for him and all the troops, really. I keep telling myself that I’m not the one going through this, and I have to stay positive.”
The training is tough, but a lot of the men and women who go through it don’t consider the military their career. Like many, Chance sees the army as a way to pay for college. According to the Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB) and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill are two avenues which the military offers to its members to help them pay or offset the cost of a college degree.
Last year’s RBHS school profile, that explains the breakdown of the student population, which  guidance office creates said three percent of RBHS students plan on going into the military. Guidance counselor Mellisa Coil said she counsels military students the same way as she would college students.
“Any kid that comes in with an interest, I would walk them through it,” Coil said. “Making the right contacts, asking the right questions and, of course, getting their parents involved.”
Some students, like Chance, see the military as a path to achieve the college dream.
“He doesn’t see it as a job,” Gregory said. “When he comes back, he wants to go to college to be a cop. He believed that the Army was the only way he could pay for college.”
Kolostov doesn’t consider the Marines his lifetime position, but college costs do not motivate him to go. After completing a couple of tours, Kolostov wants to get out of the Marines and go to college to become a history teacher, marry and have a family.
“I went in to talk to the recruiter and he had all these pieces of paper with words on them ‘honor, self-respect, travel, financial aid, school’ and others. And he told me to put them in order of importance to me. And school was at the end,” Kolostov said. “He asked me if I didn’t want to go to school, and I said no, that’s not the case at all. I do want to go to school. That’s just not why I’m here. It’s a benefit. And I won’t take that for granted. But my goal is to serve.”
Retired marine, John Lynn, went into the military to serve, too. He said politics does play a large role in the military. Lynn believes Obama really hasn’t executed or developed policies of his own.
“He’s kind of carried forward the policies of the previous administrations and let those policies play out and let the secretary of state and secretary defense to move forward with those existing policies,” Lynn said. “Where he has been rather adamant is in his statements and policies about withdrawal and draw down of military but in terms of his impact on public policy and in terms of support for the military its pretty much been denying.”
But the wars that the Chief of State approves of does not just affect the soldiers on duty. It affects the people of the nations. Senior Taw Taw is from Burma, and was forced to leave his country after war struck his village.
“The Burmese army came to our village and destroyed the village and burned all the house. … We crossed to the border of Thailand. Right there we lived in a refugee camp. Not in Thailand not in Burma, but in between the border. I lived in the camp when I was 12 years old,” Taw said. “We lived the camp, and there were so many difficult things. We didn’t have home. We didn’t have a country. We didn’t have freedom. If we go to Burma, they would kill us, if we go to Thailand they put us in jail. So we can not go anywhere.”
The U.S. army supported the United Nation’s actions to send food and supplies to the people of Burma. According to a U.N. report there are about 27.5 million displaced people around the globe. Taw’s family was one of them. When he left the refugee camp he had to quickly adjust to life. A man in Thailand yelled at him for peeing outside, telling him to use a toilet. Taw had never even heard of that invention. And although he faced difficulty understanding the system, he said his journey to America is one that he will never forget.
“In 2009 October I came to America for my family to live free,” Taw said. “When I first went to the airplane I thought I was going inside a cave. Huge, and I had never been. The first one made me very scary. The size noise and you move a little bit. Your body shakes.”
Taw is happy to be in the United States today, he is learning English, but most of all he feels safe. At the end of the day, the political decisions that Obama and others make affect the citizens of the world.
“Bills and laws and proclamations are not to just get you elected. It’s a hard job running a country. Every little move you make, every little thing you choose to do affects tons of people. Kids our age have to take war, health care, civil liberties, and all the other issues in today’s politics seriously,” Rahman said. “Vote, take an interest and learn. War is necessary sometimes, but it’s never without consequences. War is paid for in flesh. And the poor president gets to make that call.”
By Maria Kalaitzandonakes
Read more about other wartime refugees

Commentary: Obama Discusses Plans Regarding Technology

The government’s stance on technology has changed over the years. Sometimes this change is slow as the government tends to be. With Obama being re-elected, he now has four more years to enact policies relating to technology.

Obama during his presidency and campaigning has stated his position in favor of net neutrality. Net neutrality was originally established by the FCC, or Federal Communications Commission. This policy was established to make Internet providers stay neutral and unbiased to whatever you choose to do on the Internet. Obama defend the FCC’s decision when he vetoed a bill that would have completely undone net neutrality. Maintaining net neutrality is a great success for all as it will protect your right and ability to read and publish anything you please.

NASA and it’s budget in the recent budget distress was on the chopping block. Luckily, Obama has promised to keep NASA running and chugging along; however, no increases to it’s budget will be made leaving NASA to just continue the current active missions. Mars Science Laboratory, more commonly known as Curiosity, will continue collecting data and making discoveries on Mars. Sadly, Curiosity will lonely on Mars with no human companions for several decades. The currently scheduled manned mission to Mars is going to take place sometime in the 2030’s, and it’s definitely not going to get any faster with the no more budget increases for NASA.

Green power is another key topic in the political world. Close the home, our local government has been working to additional green power sources and will continue to do so especially with increased grant funding that will occur during Obama’s presidency. Columbia Water and Light estimates that in 2012 7.3% of their total electric portfolio will be covered by various clean power sources. These clean power sources include Ameresco Landfill Gas Plant, wind power both inside the city and out. Even today, those who have Columbia Water and Light can pay an extra $3.25 a month to go directly towards funding more solar arrays in Columbia. The green power situation in Colombia is only going to get better as Obama opens up more opportunities for grants and other incentives to deploy clean power solutions.

The final big improvement that I am looking forward to is Obama’s promise regarding Internet speed and accessibility. Obama has already signed a bill that will work toward reducing the cost of the Internet nationwide. He wants to work at “connecting every corner of our country to the digital age” to allow our citizens and businesses the ability to compete in today’s world. This will be great for those who might be interested in taking online college courses or working from home through the Internet. His policy will likely continue to encourage and fund initiatives to spread the Internet to rural areas and reduce Internet costs nationwide.

The Obama administration is now here to stay for another four years. Technology and the availability is looking up, except for NASA seems to be stuck in a rut. Overall, I am excited to see the improvements that will come in the following four more years.

Podcast: Student Counselor Discusses Affordable Education

Worried future MU student clutches scholarship envelope. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

By Daphne Yu

Your Turn to Talk

Do you have any interesting story or point about the Obama’s war stance? Let use know what you think abou the four more years to come!