Would you rather have a community service day or do community service independently?
In past years, the high school participated in out-of-school activities such as class hikes and community service days, however, our outreach opportunity will be cut for the high school this year.
Ever since 6th grade, community service day was mandatory three times a year, although two days was usually the maximum ever achieved due to snow days. By advisory, students were sent to the Science Museum, the SPCA, Jackson Elementary School and many other non-profits. It was an all day affair, and students were car-pooled back to the school in time to go to sports practices. Now, the school does not want the student body to miss any more school days than can be helped. Although the high school will participate in class hikes after a year without them, it seems as though the school cannot spare the expense of missing one more academic day.
According to Alex Hash, community service coordinator, high schoolers must complete 12.5 hours of community service outside the school throughout the year. Students who help with school affairs, such as soccer camps during the summer, are not exempt from the required hours. They also wish for us to complete these hours alone, but we are recommended to diversify our outreach.
Even though rewards will be given to those who complete extra hours, it is hard to believe that many students have the time and will to complete the forced community service. If we continued to involve ourselves as a whole for an annual community service day, then we would be helping the community as a community. More or less, all participants would be willing, and most importantly, the job would be accomplished.
While some students are active in community service activities such as the Tutoring Club, others use their weekend time or after-school hours practicing a sport or playing in a game or tournament. The unabsorbed minutes are spent completing hours of homework.
All in all, one day of community service each year is not going to throw off the faculty or students inside the classroom. One day of six hours of labor is not going to destroy the academic success of the school. In fact, the opportunity that school could and used to provide to activate students and teachers in the community is beneficial. Students wouldn’t have to worry about all the things they’re missing out on, but rather be inspired with the memories they are making alongside their peers.
Glistening in the sunlight, Panama City’s skyline rises above a beautiful ring of luscious tropical rainforest and the deep blue hue of the Pacific Ocean.
Panama City is one of the most modern and innovative cities in Latin America, sporting beautiful high-rises and a metro. People forget that 25 years ago this metropolis was a war-zone.
On December 20, 1989, the United States invaded its small southern neighbor Panama, home of the famous Panama Canal and, at the time, several large American military bases. The leader of Panama, Manuel Noriega, had fallen out of favor with the U.S.
The 1989 invasion of Panama is a forgotten episode in American history. The invasion was quickly overshadowed by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Gulf War of 1990-1991. Nevertheless, the invasion provides an excellent case study of American interventionism in foreign affairs.
Earlier this year, Russia invaded its neighbor Ukraine and annexed one of its territories — the Crimean Peninsula. Most of the world, especially the United States, was outraged at this blatant violation of sovereignty and international law. Just 25 years ago, however, in similar circumstances, the United States also invaded one of its neighbors who was attempting to break from its sphere of influence.
While Panama may exist as an independent and sovereign entity today, for over 90 years the country was controlled by a pro-American oligarchy, similar to the government of pro-Russian dictator Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine. Panama itself was practically created exclusively for the purposes of the United States in 1903, when President Theodore Roosevelt supported Panamanian secession from Colombia in order to build the famous Panama Canal. Roosevelt incited the Panamanians to revolt against their Colombian rulers, then negotiated a treaty with the Panamanians which allowed the U.S. not only to build a canal, but also to have official sovereignty over a five-mile area on either side of it, an area that came to be known as the Canal Zone. Even though a Panamanian representative agreed to the terms, no Panamanian ever signed the treaty.
To ensure that the canal, an extremely strategic asset, would remain in American hands, the U.S. set up a puppet government in Panama. The U.S. also began building large military bases in the Canal Zone which housed thousands of soldiers who maintained a permanent presence in the small isthmus nation. The United States had, in effect, colonized Panama.
In 1959, Fidel Castro overthrew the pro-American dictator of Cuba, which sent political shockwaves across Latin America, and ordinary Panamanians began to question the authority of the United States over their country. in riots that swept across Panama. The U.S. decided to build up a Panamanian National Guard to maintain order in the country.
This decision backfired, however, when the commander of the National Guard, Omar Torrijos, launched a military coup in 1968 which overthrew the pro-American government. Torrijos normalized relations with Cuba and established a number of socialist programs designed to uplift Panama’s working class, which alienated the United States. In a shift in policy, President Jimmy Carter, in a controversial move, signed the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, which guaranteed that the U.S. would transfer control of the Canal Zone to Panama by the year 2000. Torrijos, however, died in a plane crash in 1981, and his deputy, Manuel Noriega, assumed power.
Noriega was, in fact, on the CIA payroll, and the agency quickly put Noriega to use, specifically to help with the CIA’s operations with the Contras, a rebel group fighting a war against the socialist government of Nicaragua. They were also heavily involved in cocaine trafficking. Noriega himself was a known drug smuggler, although the U.S. government did nothing to discourage his activities or stop them. Noriega also rigged his elections, suppressed the media, and ordered the beheading of his political opponents. None of this caused any change in U.S. policy.
U.S. policy did change, however, when Noriega attempted to break free of the United State’ influence. Noriega, reestablished relations with Cuba, and began demanding that the U.S. immediately hand over control of the Canal Zone. By 1989, tensions were boiling, and newly-elected president George H.W. Bush decided to act. On December 20, he ordered over 28,000 troops to reinstate a pro-American government.
While the United States continues to impose sanctions on Russia for their reprehensible actions in the Ukraine, its important to note that Russia is not the only great power to intervene in a foreign country’s affairs to maintain its sphere of influence. Panama is not the only Latin American country to fall prey to U.S. intervention — Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Granada have all experienced either an invasion, coup d’tat, or a rebel group sponsored by the United States. In particular, the Contra “freedom fighters” of Nicaragua draw an eerie resemblance to the pro-Russian militias currently operating in eastern Ukraine. While one cannot defend the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine, it is important to understand the United States has conducted itself in a similar manner for centuries. This double standard is extremely dangerous — not only can we not even remember our actions several years ago, but we believe that the United States can be judged by different standards then other countries.
Gracean Ratliff '23