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Updates on Dorian (And Other Hurricane Tips)

By Brady Lorch (Web Editor-in-Chief) As Hurricane Dorian continues to move closer to Florida, it also continues to grow and grow, leaving some people increasingly worried. While all this is happening, staying up to date is crucial to staying safe and informed. It is also good to know a few tips for waiting out a hurricane if you plan to do so. According to the National Weather Service, as of 11:00 A.M. Eastern Standard Time on the 2nd of September, Hurricane Dorian is reported to be a category 4 hurricane, with wind speeds of up to 155 mph, and moving west at about 1 mph. Now a category 4, Dorian is currently pounding the Bahamas and is expected to cause catastrophic damage to the Grand Bahama Island. According to Hurricane Dorian Public Advisory Number 37, “Maximum sustained winds are near 155 mph (250 km/h) with higher gusts. Dorian is an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Although gradual weakening is forecast, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days.” (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). As Hurricane Dorian continues to inch ever so slowly towards the Florida coast, the track continues to predict a turn to the northwest before landfall. However, during Hurricane Irma, the European model, one of the more trusted models, also predicted that Irma would turn away before landfall. Once again, it is urgent that people keep in mind that models can be wrong. Just because it is not predicted to touch Jacksonville, that does not mean it is 100% safe during this week. Please stay updated and always be prepared! Some safety tips for waiting out a storm like Dorian include: Stock up on food, water, and medical supplies Know your home’s “safe spot” Make sure you can access information about the storm Follow the instructions of local authorities If you live in a mobile home or in an area that is not on higher ground, find a shelter Stay inside For more safety information, click here to go to FEMA’s hurricane safety page. For more information on Hurricane Dorian, click here to go to NOAA’s page for Hurricane Dorian. This story will be updated throughout Hurricane Dorian as much as possible with reports and advisories from the NWS. It was last updated at 12:11 P.M. on Monday, September 2nd. Photo Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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Easter Attacks in Sri Lanka Claimed by ISIS

By Brady Lorch (Sports Editor) Although they no hold territorial sway over the Middle East, ISIS has shown that it still has the power to cause destruction when it attacked churches, hotels, and other areas across the small, island nation of Sri Lanka on Easter. Over the course of Easter Sunday, citizens of Sri Lanka were terrorized as nine bombs were detonated across the nation, killing over 200 and wounding many more. It is being reported as the deadliest act of violence since the nation’s recent civil war was resolved ten years ago. Ruwan Wijewardena, Sri Lanka’s defense minister, has labeled the bombings as terrorist attacks conducted by religious extremists. Police announced that they had taken 13 suspects into custody by the end of Easter Sunday, however, ISIS has recently claimed responsibility for the attacks. Wijewardena has stated that authorities believe the attacks were conducted in suicide bombings. Most of the bombings were reported to have occured in or around the nation’s capital, Colombo. Immediately after the attacks, curfews were put into place and social media was blocked in order to stop false rumors from spreading. Photo Credit: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake – The Washington Post For more information, click here or here.

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Nease Senior Wins First Place Award in Statewide Science Fair

By Bre Jarvis (Editor-in-Chief) Last month, STEM students from all over Florida competed in the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair. Over the course of three days, more than 900 science projects from students in sixth through twelfth grade were presented at the fair. Among the winners is of Nease’s own students, senior Katherine Rodriguez. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to ask Katherine about her experience. What awards did you win at the State Science and Engineering Fair? “I received first place in the Biomedical and Health Sciences Category, the largest and most competitive category at the fair, as well as the J.T. Malesky Award of $50 for my Outstanding Presentation of a Scientific Research Project. One person in the entire state receives this award.” What was your project for the fair? “My project was ‘Melatonin as an anti-proliferative agent in brain metastasis from breast cancer.’ With my research, I found that … melatonin can be implemented in clinical treatments to prolong patient survival. If a patient has stage 1 breast cancer, a high melatonin dose can be administered to the patient which can cause breast cancer cells … to elongate. When cells are elongated, they cannot form colonies; when there are no cell colonies, … cancer cannot reproduce and spread throughout the body.” What sparked your interest in Biomedical Sciences? “This past summer, I challenged myself and applied to a research program at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, to which I was accepted. My summer research at the stem cell and brain tumor research lab … turned out to be one of the most amazing opportunities I have been blessed to experience. … Every scientist at the lab came from diverse backgrounds outside of the United States and was eager to help me. As a Latina woman, I do not have a wealth of potential role models in the sciences, but at my lab, I found a multitude of Hispanic women, from Mexico to Spain, who mentored me … It is that experience that has solidified my ambition to study science and medicine and act as a future mentor for other minorities.” What was the process of creating your project? “This past summer and throughout the first semester [of school this year], I participated as a Mayo Clinic SPARK Scholar in the Mayo Clinic SPARK Research Mentorship Program. I worked seven days a week in the science lab learning about the world of scientific research and developing my research project.” How do you feel about having won? “I feel incredibly honored to be selected among such distinguished projects for a first place title at the state level. I am beyond grateful to receive the opportunity to share my research with others and inspire a future generation of students interested in pursuing a career in STEM.” What advice would you give to others interested in Biomedical Science? “[My advice for] someone interested in pursuing a career in Biomedical Science is to seek opportunities early in high school. Also, do not be afraid to try something new. You never know, you might discover an area of science you are interested in. I highly encourage students interested in Biomedical Sciences to take time during the summer and throughout the school year to involve themselves in STEM both in and out of the classroom. Whether researching in the science lab, volunteering at the hospital, or shadowing a physician, students with interest in Biomedical Science should take the initiative to explore their interests and discover their passion.” Cover photo credit: Katherine Rodriguez

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St. Johns Students to Receive 100% For Final Exam Grades

By Bre Jarvis (Editor-in-Chief) Superintendent Tim Forson announced the St. Johns County School District’s new final exam grading system today, explaining that all St. Johns County students will receive the highest grade possible (100%) for all district-based final exams. Final exams account for 10% of students’ semester grades. According to school district spokeswoman Christina Langston, Forson believes this new grading system will be fair for all students. For more information about Forson’s recent statement, visit News 4 Jax.

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St. Johns County District Exams Cancelled

By Bre Jarvis (Editor-in-Chief) Superintendent Tim Forson announced last Thursday that all St. Johns County school district final exams will be cancelled, with the exception of iReady testing. Forson explains that this decision was based on significant technical difficulties encountered during the first week of computer-based exams: “Ultimately, I felt we needed to cancel the district computer-based and paper-based exams to remove the frustration of inconsistent test administration and protect instructional time.” According to school district spokeswoman Christina Langston, technical difficulties experienced by students last week included the computers freezing or the students being logged out of the exams all together. The school district was unable to simply postpone the exams because of the upcoming Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), State End-of-Course (EOC) assessments, and AP and IB exams. Forson assures students that the decision to cancel the district exams will not have any negative impact on their grades, stating that “We will do everything in our power that students aren’t hurt in anyway academically by this.” Forson adds that the school district is currently developing a new second semester grading system and that students and their families will be informed as soon as a plan is finalized. According to Forson, students in St. Johns County will still take the FSA and EOC assessments, as these exams operate on a separate platform from district-based tests.   For more information, visit: News For Jax https://www.news4jax.com/education/st-johns-county-superintendent-cancels-district-final-exams First Coast News https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/news/education/st-johns-county-cancels-district-final-exams/77-06ec7241-6afa-486d-8fc0-dce48446745b St. Augustine Record https://www.staugustine.com/news/20190418/school-district-cancels-final-exams-due-to-computer-system-failures

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Nease Graduate Vince Covello’s Success in Golf

By Bella Ibrahim (Managing Web Editor) Vince Covello, a Nease High School graduate, is on his way to becoming a golfing legend. Covello played his senior year at Nease and won the state individual championship, and led the Panthers to the team title.  “I’ve been wanting to play professional golf since I was 14 years old,” he said. “I’ve done well enough over the years to stay afloat and until you stake your claim, that’s the art of it.”  Through being a player on the Nease golf team he established a support system that has stayed with him until today.  He also played golf for the University of North Florida before he went pro and began to play for the Web.com tours.  He had a rough time while trying to qualify for the PGA tours in the beginning and even had to take a four year hiatus from the Web.com tours after missing 10 of 18 cuts.  While winning early on the Web.com Tour is no guarantee that a player will make the top-25 on the final points list and earn a PGA Tour card,  Covello is sitting pretty at No. 4, only 37 points behind leader Rafael Campos, so the odds are in his favor.  Wish him luck for him to earn his card and click here for more content! Photo Credit: Florida Times Union

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Welcome to Nease, Coach Drafts

By Brady Lorch (Sports Editor) Recently, Nease’s beloved football head coach, Tim Krause has left Nease to continue coaching at one of his old stomping grounds, Bishop Kenny High School. In his place he has left a vacancy for the football head coach position. This spot will be filled by Collin Drafts, a native of Beaufort, South Carolina. Previously the head coach of AC Flora High School in Columbia, SC, Drafts took over and led his previous team to a 9-3 season after a winless season the year prior. He has also coached for East River High School in Orlando, Florida. He transformed East River’s team by taking them to a 6-5 playoff season directly after a 1-9 season in 2015.  Drafts has had many successes coaching football, however, he also succeeded in the world of college football as well. While in college, Drafts played quarterback for Charleston Southern University and was awarded the 2005 Big South Offensive Player of the Year after he led the CSU Buccaneers to their very first Big South Championship. Photo credit: The Ponte Vedra Recorder For more information, click here.

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Governmental Terrorists?

By Brady Lorch (Sports Editor) Monday, President Trump labeled the Iranian military’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. Trump has stated that by designating the I.R.G.C. as terrorists, he is “underscores the fact that Iran’s actions are fundamentally different from those of other governments.” Trump also said that this action “makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the I.R.G.C.” The repercussions of this action, which takes effect April 15th, ranges from sanctions on economy and travel for the Revolutionary Guard and any organizations, people, or businesses associated with it. This includes officials in Iraq, which happens to be allied with the U.S. Many high ranking Pentagon and C.I.A. officials are against the designation, arguing that it would allow certain Iranian officials to justify military operations against Americans stationed in the Middle East. Additionally, in retaliation, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council has designated the United States Central Command as a terrorist organization, possibly putting many American lives at risk. For more on this topic, click here.

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On the Run, But Sure to be Back

By Brady Lorch (Sports Editor) After four years of combat, US-backed combatants have finally flushed members of ISIS out of the last village held by the radical Islamic group. After withstanding a small siege in the town of Baghuz, Syria, the final piece of ISIS controlled land was taken and this nearly 20 year war was ended. Although the ideals still live on and members are still attacking targets in the Middle East, ISIS has lost its most important asset: the ability to tax the people it controls. By controlling major regions of the Middle East, the Islamic State was able to fund the production of military grade weaponry including industrial-scale production of mortars and even their very own drones modified to carry ordnance. Although President Trump declared victory over ISIS in December, the Islamic State has continued to claim responsibility for attacks in the Middle East. Charlie Winter, a senior researcher for the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London, stated, “There is a tendency to rush into the declarations of victory too fast and too early with jihadist groups.” Although they are defeated in Syria, ISIS is still showing its face around the globe. For more information click here.  

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What Being an “A”-Rated District Entails

By Bella Ibrahim (Managing Web Editor) Did you know that St. John’s County recently received an A grade for the last nine years in a row?  Maybe… but what exactly does that mean?  Jackie Pappas believes it comes from “attention to students’ success so overall scores increase and opportunities become more available.”  However, she also said that it places more of an importance on test scores than the information the students are able to retain in the future.  For more information on what qualifies a district as A-rated (spoiler alert a lot of it is test scores!) and what the A-rated schools all seem to have in common. Click here for more information on what being an A-rated district involves. Photo Credit: Eventbrite

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