The Importance Of Protecting America’s Disabled Children and Adults


Throughout the United States’ history, various efforts have been made to assist people with physical, mental, intellectual, and other disabilities and aid them in the workforce, in schools, and in society.

Although more acceptance towards the disabled population has been seen in recent years, the work of many prominent leaders, like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s signing of the Social Security Act and Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s founding of the Special Olympics, has led to an advancement in other laws to protect those with a disability.

According to the US Department of Education, Section 504, an amendment of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, prohibits discrimination based upon disability “under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”

In 1990, the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, was passed which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places, as noted in the article, “What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?”

Some argue that the most significant law for disabled children, however, is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA, passed in 1975. As mentioned in “IDEA,” this act provides “services to children with disabilities throughout the nation” and has paved the way for the future freedoms and educational possibilities many disabled children have today.

These laws, in addition to other health services and amendments, continue to ensure equal treatment and equal opportunity for the handicapped public. However, in recent months, it seems the fundamental rights for people with disabilities seems to be dwindling, especially disabled children and their school rights.

Tom Price, the nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and many others of President Trump’s cabinet picks refuse to support the Affordable Care Act, which secures insurance and other forms of protection for disabled persons.

Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for Attorney General, wrote a speech in 2000 regarding education discipline and IDEA. He stated that the act helps children, “if they have a hearing loss, or a sight loss, or if they have difficulty moving around, in a wheelchair, or whatever” and “the school system must make accommodations for them,” Tara Haelle, contributor for Forbes quotes. Haelle also notes that on the floor of the Senate, Sessions then claimed he asked teachers about the act and “was told in every school that this is a major problem for them. In fact, it may be the single most irritating problem for teachers throughout America today.”

The indifference to disabled children is not only seen in Sessions’s and Price’s views, but also by the controversial pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. According to Kate Zernike of the NY Times, during her hearing for her position, she responded that enforcing the federal IDEA “is a matter best left to the states.” When questioned by Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia and Senator Maggie Hassan, Democrat of New Hampshire, DeVos confessed she “may have been confused” on whether the act is a federal law, Zernike reports.

According to Andrew Lee, 1 out of 8 children receiving special education services and protection from IDEA, almost 6.5 million students across the country; considering this, many feel that the services provided to these children will be weakened and/or revoked by Trump’s chosen executive branch members.

IDEA’s role in giving disabled children more educational opportunities has shown its significance and importance over the course of its 41-year existence.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the article, “Children and Youth with Disabilities, in 2010 – 2011, “about 95 percent of school-age children and youth ages 6 – 21 who were served under IDEA…were enrolled in regular schools.” The remaining 5 percent of disabled students were either “enrolled in separate schools (public or private)” or “were placed by their parents in regular private schools,” NCES adds, as well as, the fact that less than 1 percent were in “correctional facilities, separate residential facilities, homebound or in hospitals.”

Years earlier, according to “Children and Youth with Disabilities,” in 1995-1996, only 46% of disabled children attended general classes. The article also notes, in the 2010-2011 school year, 86 percent of students with speech or language impairments, “65% of students with specific learning disabilities and 64% of students with visual impairments” all served under IDEA, spent most of their school day in general classes.

Children and adults within the disabled population should not be fearful regarding their education and health services. Basic civil and educational rights should extend to all people, regardless of gender, race, sexuality or disability, and the progress made over the past 40 years needs to supercede the views of America’s new department heads.

Works Cited:

Haelle, Tara. “Would Special Education Rights Be Safe With Jeff Sessions As U.S. Attorney General?” Forbes. 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.

“IDEA.” US Department of Education. US Department of Education (ED), n.d. Web. 27 Jan.

Lee, Andrew. “How IDEA Protects You and Your Child.” 2014-2017 Web. 27 Jan. 2017.

“Children and Youth with Disabilities.” National Center for Education Statistics, Web. Accessed 27 Jan. 2017.


“The Rehabilitation Act.” US Department of Education. n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.

“What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?” ADA National Network., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.

Zernike, Kate. “Nominee Betsy DeVos’s Knowledge of Education Basics Is Open to Criticism.” NY Times. 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.


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Patriot’s Day Review

Title: Patriot’s Day

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 2 hours and 13 minutes

Release Date: January 13th 2017

Grade: A-



Patriot’s Day is drama/action movie about the Boston Marathon Bombing of April 2013. It tells the story of the tragic event, tracing the lives of those involved immediately before and during the bombings, and the manhunt following the act of terrorism. The story is based off of the accounts of all involved parties.


The movie stays very true to the events of the bombings and the aftermath, even cutting in real security camera footage. The biggest diversion from the true events are Mark Wahlberg’s and Michelle Monaghan’s characters. They are surrogates, representing all of the members of the Boston Police Department during the events. The cast for this movie is perfect. Every actor looks overwhelmingly similar to their real life counterpart. No one in the cast feels overused, but there are some who feel underused, although it is understandable that at times, their situation was not important to the real life story.


Examining the movie from purely a movie standpoint (as if the events hadn’t happened), it is one of the most exciting movies ever made. There were parts where I could barely breathe in my seat and could feel my heart pounding in my chest. But, knowing that all of this really happened made it that much more devastating and nerve-wracking. There were events that I didn’t know occurred. After looking them up online, I found that the events portrayed in the film were extremely close to reality.


The movie’s one major flaw is that in the beginning, the focus shifts too much (I mean before the bombings). In an effort to introduce all of the main characters, the movie overexerts its exposition before getting into the actual story. But, it is a flaw to be overlooked, considering the final product.


This movie has plenty of heart, probably because Mark Wahlberg, Boston born and raised, had lots of say. And this movie showcases exactly what the tragic events of April 2013 show: Boston is strong. Not many other cities could’ve survived an event like this, but Boston shows just how great humanity can be, especially in the face of terror.


In a month crowded with too many bad sequels (Resident Evil, Underworld) and cheap money grabs (The Bye Bye Man), this is truly a movie to see. It is gripping, it is emotional, and it is real. And it is worth every cent.

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Top New Year’s Resolutions of 2017


The making of New Year’s Resolutions is a tradition practiced all around the world. It derived back during the time of the Babylonians, over 4,000 years ago, and still carries over into today. People often use the idea of New Year’s as a time to close the door on a certain chapter in their lives, and begin fresh with a new one, which is where the resolutions come in.

New Year’s Resolutions are typically a decision to do, or not do, something in order to accomplish a personal goal or break a habit. Usually almost everyone makes them, so we figured it would be an interesting idea to ask the students of Westlake High School what their New Year’s Resolutions are.

Here are the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions of 2017:

  1. Be Happy
  2. Eat Healthier
  3. Dress Nicer
  4. Get Better Grades
  5. Get Better at Organization
  6. Workout
  7. Surround Myself with Positive People
  8. Time Management / Less Procrastination
  9. Lose Weight
  10. Stay the Same / Not Change Myself

Whether people stick with them or break them, New Year’s Resolutions are a positive, happy trend that will live on through history. Hopefully reading some of these will inspire you. What’s your New Year’s Resolution?

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La La Land Review


Sebastian, role played by Ryan Gosling, and Mia, role played by Emma Stone, are two characters who both aspire to do what they love, although they face many hardships.  Mia, whose hopes are to become a successful actress, is subjected to rejection, and Sebastian, who strives to keep the love of Jazz music alive, barely manages to make a cent.  


As they begin to make their way into each other’s lives and their successes begin to peak, they are faced with decisions that eat away at their growing love.  The two must decide whether they should go their separate ways or reject life changing opportunities to remain with each other.  
La La Land is truly inspiring and simply makes your heart sing. It is an extraordinary film that is definitely worth a trip to the movies!

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Westlake Indoor Track and Field 2016-2017


As the winter sports season draws to a close, the Westlake Track and Field team is extremely happy with all the results from the season. However, with the League and Westchester County meets behind us, there are still more challenges to come, such as Class B and State Qualifiers to follow.


Nonetheless, the team has once again grown together to become one big family made of strong individuals who always leave their best efforts on the track and jumping mats and in the throwing circle and sand pit. Although we are the only team to practice outside in the dead of winter, we are not worn ourselves, as we tackle old standing records and bring titles and hardware home.


Each meet has been looked forward to; maybe not the one happening on the day of Super Bowl Sunday, but the will to compete and compete with our very best is there. Led by amazing coaches, Devon White and Martin Rodriguez, and by great leaders on the team, it is almost impossible to think that any dream is out of our reach.


The team likes to showcase the hard work that’s being put in, to show off the dedication in numbers, color, athleticism and to make those who believe in us proud.


Thanks to those who put in the hard work and made everything possible, we were able to put together an amazing team that makes the future look bright. As long as the athletes gave it their all, continue to give it their all, and left it all on the track, there was never disappointment on any of our coach’s faces.


There have been many results throughout the season and records broken that are inspiring:  


Girls at the League Meet:


Nicole Izzo, advanced to the 55m dash finals

Mary Lyons, 2nd overall in the 600m

Alexandra Leitch, 3rd overall in the 1000m

Joelle El Hamouche,5th overall in the 1000m

Arianna Edwards, 2nd overall in the 1500m

Faith Summers, 2nd overall in the 3000m

Julia Remo, 1st overall in shot put

Julianna Castellano, 2nd overall in shot put and 3rd overall in weight throw

Cynthia Briggs, 3rd overall in shot put


Guys at the League Meet:


Eric Nieves, 2nd place overall in 55m dash

Kane Lyons, 3rd place overall in 55m dash

Kane Lyons, 2rd place overall in the 300m

Manny Corona, 2nd place overall in the 3200m

4x200m team (Eric Nieves, Brian Kelly, TJ Policarpio, and Kane Lyons), 1st overall

Peter Vogel,1st place overall in high jump


Records Broken:


The girls 4×400 school record relay time was broken at the Ridgewood Winter Games – Faith Summers, Mary Lyons, Colleen Bradley and Arianna Edwards


Mary Lyons broke the 600m school record at the League meet
Julianna Castellano broke both the shot put (section 1 kickoff meet) and weight throw (league meet) school records

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“Hold Up” Beyoncé is Pregnant


Beyoncé posted a photo on February 1st, 2016 and broke the internet with the news of her pregnancy of twins with husband Jay Z.


The internet went crazy when the news was revealed, showing the power a musical icon can have on Pop Culture. The multi-award winning singer, songwriter and actress posted a photo on Instagram Wednesday with a baby bump and the caption, “We would like to share our love and happiness. We have been blessed two times over. We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two, and we thank you for your well wishes. The Carters.”


When the Carters revealed that they will be adding two new editions to their family, Beyonce’s fans all over the world responded and made the Instagram photo the most liked photo ever on Instagram with over 9.4 million likes and counting, beating out pop singer Selena Gomez who currently held the Instagram title.


An hour after Beconcé’s big reveal, there were more than half a million tweets about her pregnancy. Anthony Minda, Westlake student and diehard Beyoncé fan, was shocked when he saw the post: “I was shaking and did not know what was happening because she’s the best person ever. I was in shock,” whereas Peter Psaltakis, another Westlake student, was not surprised that the couple was expecting.


Many people are excited that Beyoncé and Jay Z will welcome two siblings for their famous five year old daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, including Julia Remo of Westlake High School who said, “I am so excited that Beyoncé is having twins, I love Blue Ivy and I cannot wait to see the new babies.”
It is unknown how far along Beyoncé is in her pregnancy, and some worry if she’ll still be able to headline the Coachella music festival in April. The baby news blew up the internet this week, and now, the world is patiently waiting for the arrival of Beyoncé’s twins.

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Chapecoense Soccer Team’s Plane Crash


According to Matthew Weaver of The Guardian, on Monday, November 28, 2016 the Chapecoense soccer team was on their way to compete in the final of the Copa Sudamericana. Tragedy struck when the BAE146 Bolivia charter flight Lamia 933 from Santa Cruz slammed into the mountainside eight miles short of its intended destination of Medellin airport, Weaver adds.

77 people were on the flight; only six survived the devastating crash. The New York Times reports that the survivors include “three players, two crew members and a journalist who was accompanying the team.”

There is no concluded explanation to why the plane crashed but leaked recordings from the flight are making it apparent that the airplane ran out of fuel. With the plane allegedly running out of fuel, as mentioned in the recording by Pilot, Miguel Quiroga, there was no formal distress call.

According to BBC news, “LaMia announced compensations of $165,000 (£134,000) to the victims’ families and survivors, Brazilian website G1 reported.” This money given will never be able to compensate for the 71 lives lost in the crash.

The investigation is continuing to find an answer as to what happened on the plane before it crashed for the families that lost their loved ones in the crash.


Works Cited

“Chapecoense plane crash: Bolivia blames pilot and airline.” BBC News, 21 Nov. 2016,

Romero, Simon, and Nicholas Casey. “Chapecoense Soccer Team’s Plane Crashes, Leaving Brazil Devastated.” The New York Times, 29 Nov. 2016,

Weaver, Matthew. “Chapecoense plane crash: what we know so far about the flight.” The Guardian, 1 Dec. 2016,

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Yellow Fever Epidemic


In Africa, over the past few months, the holiday cheer that Africans should feel does not exist. A deadly yellow fever epidemic has swept the continent, leaving many ill and many more dead.

Donald G. McNeel Jr., in the article, “Yellow Fever Epidemic in Africa Shows Gaps in Vaccine Pipeline,” writes that “the epidemic also revealed glaring weaknesses in the emergency vaccine supply pipeline.”

It is extremely difficult to get a vaccine shot in some parts of Africa, and the lack of vaccinations in some areas are proving to be deady. With yet another breakout, people around the world are considering the dire situation in Africa to be a widespread epidemic.

McNeel writes, “For the first time, the virus reached Asia — a continent with no yellow fever immunity.” The epidemic has been a widespread problem for the past year, but ever since it reached Asia, the entire world is concerned that this epidemic will turn into a global outbreak. While the entire world is now panicking that this epidemic might spread, we must first solve this problem at the source. By improving the vaccination rates around Africa, we can limit the amount of outbreaks and control this virus.

Works Cited

McNeil, Donald G., Jr. “Yellow Fever Epidemic in Africa Shows Gaps in Vaccine Pipeline.” Www.nytimes.come. N.p., 5 Dec. 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

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Should Fitness Tests be Part of Our Annual Checkups?


With all of the delicious food around the holidays, many people start to make resolutions to lose weight when the New Year comes around.  In 2015, “losing weight” was the most popular resolution. According to Becca Tebon, Holistic Health, Fitness and Lifestyle Speaker, out of the people who made resolutions in 2015, only 39% of people in their twenties achieved their goal and only 14% of people over 50 achieved their goal.  


Considering the current obesity rate in our country right now, it would definitely be a positive change if more people became motivated to get into shape.  One way we can do this is to add fitness tests to our annual checkups.


For a typical exam, there are many tests performed that can indicate whether a person is healthy or not.  But, how much do these tests really tell us?  From some basic tests such as heart or lung test, doctors can determine if a patient has symptoms related to heart or lung disease, but that’s about it.  These tests don’t test our levels of endurance or stamina.


Doctors can also figure out the health of a patient from their history.  I got a new doctor about two years ago and she really didn’t know much about me.  Before asking me any questions, she looked at my weight and height and started to tell me that I’m overweight and needed to do more things to excersize.  I had to interrupt her to tell her that I actually dance everyday of the week on a pre-professional level, and I built up a lot of muscle over the summer which weighs significantly more than fat would.  She quickly corrected herself and then went into the complete opposite direction to make sure I wasn’t anorexic.  


While my example seems bizarre, it really wasn’t.  Because I stare at myself in a mirror everyday in a leotard and tights, I know how my body looks and I’m confident in myself.  But, if my new doctor gave me a fitness test, she would see that I’m very much in shape.  


With obesity levels on the rise in our country, we need to start administering fitness tests at our annual checkup.  Besides the benefits of showing indicators of certain diseases, these tests can serve as a nice reminder to some people that losing a few pounds is necessary for health purposes.  So, while patient history is still important, it’s also important to run actual tests in order for doctors to get a clear image of their patient.  


Maybe this year instead of making a resolution to lose weight, we can make a resolution to be healthy.  We can do this by checking up on ourselves every once in awhile and making appointments with our doctors.

Works Cited:

Tebon, Becca. “The science-based #1 Thing We All Need To Achieve Our Resolutions and Goals.” Becca Tebon, 21 Dec. 2015,

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Standing for What You Believe In: Sioux Tribe and Other Demonstrators Protest Against North Dakota Pipeline


In 2014, a $4 billion project was proposed by a Texas-based company, Energy Transfer Partners, that would carry thousands of barrels of crude oil across a 1,172-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois.

This action immediately led to Native American tribes around the area taking legal action against the pipeline. However, in January of 2016, a permit was passed by the government to grant access to the land, giving the numerous protests national attention.

One tribe, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, pressed charges against the North Dakota Access as well as complained to the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Catherine Thorbecke of ABCNews notes.

The pipeline would run across Lake Oahe and underneath the Missouri River which, for 10,000 Standing Rock Sioux tribe members, is the primary drinking water source. The tribe states the oil line would cross a sacred Indian burial site and insists that the pipeline can “rupture… and damage their water supply,” Justin Worland from TIME magazine reports.


In September, clashes between police and protesters became more common and more violent. News footage and witnesses reported dogs being released on crowds as well as pepper spray and rubber bullets used by police to control the masses. According to Thorbecke, local authorities claim that the “protesters became aggressive.” They “had marched from their nearby camp to private land after bulldozers began preparing the site,” Ryan W. Miller reveals in his article, “How the Dakota Access Pipeline Battle Unfolded.”

Celebrities, veterans and supporters from all over the country joined the march against the pipeline and have endured the months of protest side by side with the Sioux tribe, Brady Dennis and Steven Mufson of The Washington Post report.

On December 4, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers ruled to deny the construction and installment of the pipeline across Lake Oahe, leaving the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water supply and sacred grounds intact and at peace.
Works Cited

Dennis, Brady, and Steven Mufson. “Army Corps Ruling Is a Big Win for Foes of Dakota Access Pipeline.” The Washington Post. WP Company, n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.

Miller, Ryan W. “How the Dakota Access Pipeline Battle Unfolded.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 04 Dec. 2016. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.

Thorbecke, Catherine. “Timeline of the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests.” ABC News. ABC News Network, n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.

Worland, Justin. “What to Know About the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests.” Time. Time, n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.

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