Blog

Safe 2 Say Something Training at CSC

In June of 2018, Governor Wolf signed into law new school safety legislation.  This legislation included a $60 million grant that school districts can apply once a year for a grant for a wide range of purposes, including safety and security assessments, security-related technology, training, counselors, police officers and anti-violence programs.

Part of this legislation is the new reporting app. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office is behind the new program and made it fairly easy for anyone to file a report with just a click of a button or a tap of the screen.  It is modeled on a similar program Colorado created after 1999’s Columbine school shooting.

Training is beginning this week at CSC and will continue into next week.  Students will work in their FLR rooms to register in the program and receive training as to how the program works and what the program can do for students throughout Pennsylvania.

Softball

SoftballTeam

Row 1: Cameron O’Neill, Emily Traficante, Haley Naperkowski, Morghan Murphy, Elizabeth Wegener, Mady Heller. Row 2: Bridget LeRoy, Haley Dow, Kayla Kulp, Lauren Andrews, Sarah Macko, Hannah Sobolewski. Row 3: Coach Zearfoss, Allyssa Konshnik, Madyson Sobolewski, Abby Waite, Mackenzie Yenchik, Sydney Sobolewski, Katie Thomas, Coach Bannon.

 

The softball team began the season on a good note, winning their first game against Northwest.  However, this year has proved to be very challenging for the team.  Currently, they have a record of 3-7.

According to coach Adrienne Bannon, the biggest challenge to the team is that most of them are “very young”; there are only two seniors on the team.

Some team members attribute the problem to something very different than seniority:  over thinking.  “You’re supposed to always think about what you’re going to do with the ball if it’s hit to you,” says sophomore Alyssa Konschnik.  “But when you over think about what you’re supposed to do you lose focus and mess up”.

According to both Bannon and Konschnik, one of the team’s biggest rivals is Hazleton Area.  Hazleton was the state champion of the 2016 season.  But Bannon believes that they still have a chance to beat both Hazleton and their other biggest rivals, such as Pittston Area,  because they “are a determined and highly motivated team that works hard every day”.

Regardless of their record or how they will perform in the future, the team still has a lot to be proud of.  “Every player has exceeded the coaches’ expectations,” says Bannon.

With under five games left in the season, the team is hoping for a strong finish in the Wyoming Valley Conference and District 2.

They’re Watching You

The new security cameras.

No matter who you are, you undoubtedly have an opinion on them. However, very few people know much about the cameras or why they were installed, besides the fact that they cost a significant amount of money.

The cameras were installed and are currently upkept by the same company that installed security cameras in Rice and Fairview Elementary. They are motion activated and can be monitored remotely by some school officials and by emergency responders. They were paid for under a category of funds separate from the school budget called PLIGT. By law, the cameras are not allowed in classrooms.  

The decision to install the cameras was one that was made by both the school board and the superintendent, and was a decision which the superintendent prioritized as soon as he began to work for Crestwood.  “When I came here, you had four cameras across two schools which absolutely horrified me… from a safety point of view that’s… very concerning,” he said.

In a very short period of time, over three hundred cameras were installed in both the interior and exterior of the middle and high school.  This “brought [us] into the twenty-first century at lightning speed.”

One of the main issues that people take offense to regarding the cameras is their cost.  According to the superintendent, the installation and maintenance of the cameras cost around $360,000 dollars this year. In years to come, they will cost around $24,000 to maintain, though this is a contract that “we are going to look to renegotiate”.

Both students and faculty are quick to mention alternative purchases that could have been made with the money that was spent on the cameras. “Could we have used those funds elsewhere? Yes, it’s a sizeable investment, but there is nothing more important than the safety of our students and our employees and everyone else in this district.”

So, what exactly did such a hefty investment buy? Primarily, safety. Without the cameras, “if there was an event that unfolded, we really [had] no way of helping emergency responders help us”. Now, if “there are parts of the building that can’t be accessed [during an emergency], we can still get a look as to what’s happening… this tool gives us the ability to respond much more quickly than [the] four cameras from the past.”

The cameras also provide what the superintendent referred to as “residual benefits”.  Such benefits are the ability to identify students and potentially press charges or recoup restitution in cases of accidents, fights, and vandalism. In such instances, the cameras are not used to “fish” for things, rather to validate information after the fact. Only the front door monitor constantly watches the cameras, and this is mostly to keep track of who enters and exits the building.

While safety may be the primary reason the cameras were installed, “generally, cameras don’t provide security, they provide evidence”, says history teacher Mr. Kane.  

Throughout the process of installing the cameras, Mr. Kane has been one of the most outspoken faculty members against them. “I am all for preventing vandalism and violent crimes, but I am concerned about student and staff privacy as well,” he said. “Americans have seen the 4th Amendment shredded in the name of security”. To add insult to injury, ”the teachers union has requested a written policy on how [the] cameras might be utilized… but to date we have not received any details”. This may not seem like a problem, but in instances like the case Robbins v. Lower Merion School District, there were no written policies in place dictating how or why school owned cameras could be used, which allowed for major privacy infringements to occur.

If security cameras have the potential to infringe on students’ rights, how else could we ensure safety in school? According to Mr. Kane, “one school security expert pointed out that each of the school shooters over the last few years has done something to draw attention to himself just prior to committing the crime… He stressed human intelligence was far more important than cameras”.  Thus, Mr. Kane believes that it would be more beneficial to have enough staff around to “keep an eye on things”, versus having hundreds of cameras that are not always being watched.

Mr. Kane also believes that new classroom doors would be more effective than the cameras. “The current classroom doors provide zero protection, and locked doors have saved lives time and again in these situations. I cannot think of a scenario where the police reported that school security cameras saved lives”.

It is necessary to obtain a balance between using the cameras for surveillance and using the cameras to create a “surveillance state”.  Where the cameras fall on this spectrum is decided largely by opinion. We know the thoughts of administration and some faculty members, but what do students think?

When a sample of students was surveyed, no students believed that the cameras were being over-monitored. In fact, very few were under the impression that the cameras were regularly and thoroughly monitored at all. The vast majority of students believe that they are only monitored from time to time, are not monitored thoroughly, or are never monitored and are solely used in order to validate information. Around twenty percent of students even believe that they should be more thoroughly or more frequently monitored.  So, what sort of impact does this have on the effectiveness of the cameras?

Theoretically, whether or not people believe that the cameras are monitored or not should have no effect on their behaviors. After all, they’re still recording, right? However, a study done by the Urban Institute reveals that residents of a neighborhood where security cameras were recently installed “did not believe that police officers regularly monitored the cameras and therefore continued to commit crimes as if they were not there”. This means that students may be just as likely to commit crimes with the cameras installed, simply due to the fact that they believe they will never be caught.

Whether you are a defender or a critic of the cameras, one thing is certain: The cameras will still be recording either way.

 

Marching Band

Marching Band

Row 1: Ian Beach, Neil Simasick, Jade Parker, Caroline Marshall, Natalie MacDonald, Schyler Kelsch, Sara DeSino. Row 2: Taylor Wells, Cameron O’Neill, Cassandra Shuleski, Nathan Mehalick, Emily Traficante, Aaron Kleger. Row 3: Drake Dewald, Jacob Wells, Robbie Murawski, Eric Witner. GUARD: Rachel Penney, Miranda Pagarelski, Virginia Gugliotti, Taryn Pecile, Cassandra Holbrook, Joanna Mulvey, Sam Legg, Brook Delay.

Marching Through the Struggles

As most people in the Crestwood community probably know, there were many problems surrounding the marching band this year. The lack of a band director left the band without a solid leader in the beginning of the season. Drake Dewald, the drum major, ended up stepping into position of leadership during the time without a director. In talking to a few members of the marching band, it became evident that, though Dewald lead them well, it is hard to be both a participant and a leader at the same time. Even Dewald himself stated, “It was difficult to work without a director this season… There wasn’t a single staff member that every member would agree with 100%.” Toward the end of the season, Theron Roberts miraculously stepped in and helped the band. He provided the seniority and influence needed to unite them. The majority of the band seems to like him. Dewald even says, “ I personally really like the new director and I am happy to work with and learn from him. He has a very agreeable personality and dedication towards growing the program.” Therefore providing a happy ending to their strenuous year. It appears that these trials have brought the band closer together, and, in the words of Dewald, “For a group of students ages 12-18 to work together through a difficult time such as this was a major accomplishment. The younger members of the band were introduced to the cooperation and dedication it takes to create a successful marching band and one day I hope they will help expand and contribute to the success of future marching bands here at Crestwood.”

Girls’ Basketball Preview

girlsvjv

Row 1: Emily Roberts, Jena Niewinski, Alyssa Cuono, Riley Magin. Row 2: Sydney Kearney, Sara Hopkins, Gianna Uhl, Julia Makowski, Kristen Andrews, Hannah Wielgoposki, Alexis Armstrong, Evie Williams. Row 3: Coach Stepanski, Kaitlyn Kline, Andrea Shipton, Kate Snipas, Sarah Richards, Olivia Donnini, Bella Termini, Alyson Muse, Coach Miner.

This year’s girls’ basketball season officially started on November 18th.  In the few weeks leading up to the first official practice, the girls worked hard during conditioning and improved both their physical and mental game. Evie Williams, a sophomore, says that       “[she] feels very confident because of all the practice and conditioning.”

This year, the team moved up in classification from AAA to AAAAA.  Last year, in AAA, the teams to beat were Nanticoke, Scranton Prep, and West Scranton. This year, the team will be playing against teams like Wyoming Valley West, Pittston, Abington Heights. But “even though we will be playing larger schools” says Coach Ed, “there are quality teams in every classification.” He believes that it is competitive at every level. “[But] in Division 1 of the Wyoming Valley Conference”, he includes, “ the teams to beat are Wyoming Valley West, Pittston, and, of course, our rival Hazleton.”

In addition to moving up in classification, the team “lost four of [their] tallest players along with the school’s all-time leading scorer, Maddie Ritsick” says Coach Ed. But, he believes that they will have a few players who will “step up and take a roll in the rotation and give us some consistent scoring.”  These players will be an immense help in this upcoming season, with a newly placed “Power Rankings” system.  Coach Ed says that “this year, all games are important, even exhibition games and crossovers” and that “every win is important to our ranking and seeding, not just conference play.” He sums it up by saying that “it’s going to be a battle every night.”

And the members of the team are up for a good fight.  Bella Termini, a sophomore, says that she is “really excited for this season” and to “win lots of games this year with such a great bunch of girls.”  Hannah Wielgopolski, a sophomore, agrees, “We all work hard, play hard, and have good times doing it. Can’t wait to kick butt!”  Jena Niewinski, a sophomore, adds that she is “pumped for a great season with many wins.”

We will see if girls’ basketball will “kick butt” in their first game against Pleasant Valley on Friday, December 9th.