Student Letters to the Editor 2

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Wrestlers need new safe, sanitary practice facility

This year, the Columbus High School wrestling team had a very successful year under first year head coach Jason Rhoten, an NCAA wrestling hall of famer out of Minnesota State University. For the first time in school history, the Columbus wrestling team won the divisional tournament, had their first state champion (Tanner Cook), and a total of six state placers. Columbus also placed third at the state tournament, which has never been done until this year.

The success of this CHS program has come in spite of the fact the team has been practicing off-campus for the past six years. The team currently practices at the Little Metra. The team can’t rely on the Little Metra because the Little Metra doesn’t have a space to store mats that is stable and sanitary. We currently store mats in a sheep barn that is used during the offseason for different animals. The mats are currently stored in a sheep barn that is very unsanitary and uneven. According to multiple articles about how to keep mats in good condition, they should be stored in a very sanitary place and uneven ground will leave impressions on the mats that over time will ruin them. The CHS wrestling team needs to have their own practice facility for safety, equality, and consistency.

If we were to build the wrestling room, it would cost around $750,000, and that would include the building, windows, a door, and a garage door to easily move the mats. Some might say that this is too expensive. We surveyed community members and some said that it would cost too much money and some also said it’s unnecessary. Currently, we rent the Little Metra for around $3,500 per year. It’s possible to save the school money longterm if our proposed wrestling room was used for multiple purposes. 90.9 percent of CHS student athletes said it is important to have a consistent, safe, and clean space to practice to have a successful program.

The mat space of the Little Metra doesn’t provide enough space for the number of wrestlers in the growing program. You can only fit two mats in the facility, which crowds the wrestlers, and that leads to a higher chance of injury. As the program continues to grow, we will get more crowded as time goes on and eventually have to move anyway.

Wrestling offers many skills that will be beneficial to their future. Wrestling teaches kids important skills and builds character they need in their life. They are taught skills like how to overcome obstacles, handle their emotions, be a good teammate, and earn what you want through hard work and determination. Wrestling does a fantastic job producing hard-working adults.

Peyton Baumgartner, Domonic Fitch


Internet can be dangerous place, so protect yourself

While the Internet can be a very useful tool, it can also be very dangerous and unsafe for people who are unaware. People online need to be informed about how they can protect themselves.

In a recent community survey, about 92 percent of Stillwater County residents said they feel safe online. We also conducted a student survey where 60 percent of CHS students know or think they know a classmate who is being unsafe on the internet. About 14 percent of the people who took our survey said their devices have had a virus. 92.3 percent of the students go online countless to several times a day. That amount of traffic increases the likelihood of something going wrong.

While the vast majority of CHS students believe they are safe, they access the internet countless times per day. They also reported many things that they have done, such as accepting friend requests from people they don’t know, posting personal information on the internet, and even meeting with people they met online. Parents, those include students in our schools.

Over 80 percent of the students claimed that they have a public profile. To stay safe online, you should set your profile to private or show that you’re offline. You also shouldn’t accept friend requests from people you’re unsure of or don’t know because you have no idea who that person is. This person could be a kidnapper, thief, or rapist.

While all of the techniques above could help prevent you from viruses, stalkers, toxic people, etc, it doesn’t ensure you’re completely safe. We recommend a VPN (virtual private network), which allows you to set your IP address to a different country or area, so that people can’t steal your personal information. The website Hotspot Shield explains how VPNs work in great detail as well as how to use them. A VPN could prevent people from finding your IP address.

While the internet can be unsafe, it is fairly easy to protect yourself as long as you know how to. Using VPNs and keeping profiles private are two fairly easy ways to stay safe. However, there are even simpler ways to protect yourself such as keeping personal information off the internet.

Brandon Brewer, Jayce Hillis, Acel Reynolds


Declining number of small farms a concerning trend

The number of small farms and ranches in Montana is rapidly declining. According to Farmland Information Center, the number of farms and ranches dropped from 29,524 in 2007 to 28,008 in 2012. The number of new farmers of any age also dropped from 7,182 to 6,008 in those same years. Some of these farms and ranches are well known to you. Others are not as well known. They all are important to our Montana communities.

According to an article by Kristen Inbody and David Murra in the Great Falls Tribune, “Of the 60,682,580 acres of privately owned land in Montana, the state’s 10 largest private landowners own 2,597,225 acres – 8.0 percent. 2.8 percent of Montana’s total area. This acreage (2.60 million) is 246,000 acres larger than the combined area of all the National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges in Montana (2.35 million).” This shows Montana’s small farms and ranches are being purchased by wealthier landowners, including those from out of state. Some are also being subdivided.

Burke McCormick, Frontline Ag manager in Cut Bank, says, “You have to be big to afford a hired man, and $4 wheat is going to make it tough on everybody.” In Kalispell, he sees small farms under a different kind of pressure, “Those farms are slowly disappearing. To sustain a small farm, you have to sell your produce locally, like Wheat Montana figured out in Three Forks.” Prices do not help you keep going. They make it harder on the little guy who is barely hanging on.

Inbody and Murra also reported, “... the average size of a Montana farm has been shrinking in the last 40 years, from 2,658 acres in 1975 to 2,147 acres today.” This means that the sizes of our farms are also decreasing in acreage. The less acres and farms that there are, the less food there is. We need grain for our food and for livestock feed, and livestock is also a source of food. It will be hard for our children who are part of a growing population.

Montana’s ranch and farms are dwindling. Montana’s agriculture is made up of farms and ranches that we can not afford to lose. We should stop subdividing and start ranching. People need to be aware of what the consequences are. Maybe it should be harder to subdivide.

Jessica Calovis


Students need to talk to coaches

Conversations regarding playing time in high school sports are often a controversial issue. Some players and parents feel favoritism is one of the problems. In a recent survey of CHS students, the vast majority of students said coaches favor certain players. Eighty percent of athletes said they see a problem with favoritism. When they were asked what causes this, the athletes said that some players were favored because of their family, their popularity, or their parents being coaches.

But, in an anonymous survey of CHS coaches, the coaches were asked if athletes come ask them about their playing time, and 80 percent said not very often and the other 20 percent said never. You hear all over school where students talk badly about the coaching, but the data shows they rarely address issues with the coaches. Many parents went to the coaches to ask them about their child’s playing time. Sixty percent of the coaches said that when the parents go to the coaches to talk, they handle it very angrily and end up making the situation worse.

The main concern is that parents are going to talk to the coaches. The problem needs to be addressed by the player so they won’t have any more communication errors. It hard to fix a problem when there is no communication, but it’s even harder when the athletes aren’t going to the coaches themselves.

If athletes are having problems with playing time then they need to talk to the coaches. If you are a parent with concerns you can address them in a polite way. You can’t fix a problem if they don’t know how you feel. The athlete needs to address the problem to their coach first. If you feel like talking to your coach didn’t solve anything, then parents can address it. Situations between parents and coaches need to be handled calmly.

Communication between coaches and athletes is a huge part of the problem. If you feel like you are being treated unfairly or think they are favoring other players or want to know why your playing time is what it is, then you need to talk to your coaches. Many coaches should make sure their decisions aren’t bias, but it also goes to the players to make sure that they deserve their spot with hard work, talent, and dedication. This will help eliminate problems in school sports.

Hailee Kienitz


Playing time, off-season connection

School sports are becoming more and more demanding in the offseason. Increasingly, participation in sports means balancing off-season demands including tournaments, open gyms, or camps to get a varsity spot or playing time.

In a recent survey of CHS students, 48.2 percent say they believe playing time in high school sports is at least somewhat based on offseason work, while 51.8 percent believe it is at least somewhat not based on off-season work. This means that about half of the students believe this to be true. In certain sports programs, players are being told that your off-season work will determine the playing time you will receive, while other sports programs are communicating the opposite.

community, one of the coaches said players should “[b]e family involved, and do as much as your passion for that sport involves.” This coach wants his or her athletes to do things with their family like trips or family plans that have already been made in the off-season. This coach also wants to limit off-season work so athletes don’t get burned out.

80 percent of CHS coaches say it is important to train in the off-season, while 20 percent say it’s somewhat important to train in the off-season. But in the same survey to coaches in our community, 80 percent of coaches said extra work in the off-season does not affect the playing time their players receive. Coaches aren’t judging off-season work for playing time in the season for the athletes.

In a recent survey of coaches in our community, one coach said his or her off-season expectations look like this: “Weight room, camps, tournaments all at their discretion, I would not require any of these. So would there be improvement on their part? Probably not. A year older, a year better. But how much better?” This coach in particular stated that offseason work is not mandatory for him or her.

Offseason work such as camps, tournaments, or open gyms shouldn’t be mandatory in high school sports in Columbus. In the same survey of coaches in the If coaches aren’t using off-season work for playing time, then why is it seeming to players that off-season work is mandatory? Coaches should base playing time off of who the best players are, not who puts in the most time in the offseason, because some players have other sports or family plans in the summer that won’t allow them to play in the summer. This is important because all players should have a chance at playing time, not just the ones who play or put time in the off-season.

Ty Barta